My 3 Crucial Lessons from These Customer Experience Entrepreneurs

 customer experience lessons

It was in 2007 that I set a goal to become a customer experience consultant and keynote speaker. I recognized that the companies we admire have made a premeditated effort to put their customers at the core of their business. I also realized that companies who continuously improve their customer experience can grow to become billion dollar companies.

I knew that I needed to first cut my teeth before I became a consultant and keynote speaker. I recognized that it wasn’t enough to learn from just one company and that I needed to learn from those that had come before me.

I can say, without exaggeration, I have devoted 1000′s of hours studying customer experience management and how it will grow a business. Being a capitalist, I focus my attention on customer experience because of revenue and profits. As I say to my clients,

“I don’t help companies deliver amazing service because it will put a smile on your customers face. I do it because it makes money. Lots of it!”

The lessons I have learned from the following entrepreneurs have helped me go from earning $10.00/hour working in a call centre to charging up to $20,000 per speaking engagement and consult for several recognizable and admired companies.

Brian Scudamore

Brian-Scudamore_0

“It’s all about the people.”

As you may be familiar, I got my start with a company called 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. The Vancouver-based franchisor is a case study for the Net Promoter Score, company culture and their employee development.

If you were to visit “The Junktion”, the appropriately named head quarters of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, you will see a decal that reads “It’s All About the People” with Brian’s name written underneath.

During my time at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I learned that if you want to improve your customer experience you shouldn’t start with the customer. You must first enhance your employee experience.

I’m frequently challenged on this by colleagues. You see, you can build all the systems in the world or buy the latest software to improve your customer experience but if you don’t have the right team pushing your efforts forward you will never maximize your results.

If you are going to reserve resources in 2015 to improve your customer experience look at your employee engagement first. How are you hiring? What is your interview process like? How are you onboarding your newest employees? What is your training program like? Does your recognition and incentive programs motivate your team?

Jeff Bezos

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos

“Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

I spend a dozen hours a week studying online retailers and user experience. When Jeff Bezos started Amazon in Seattle, Washington one might think that his motivation would be to become the world’s largest online retailer. However, if you have studied the operations of Amazon, their slogan is to be “earth’s most customer-centric company.” This mantra led the company to organically become one of the largest retailers in the world. Amazon is a world class example of putting their customers before any self-serving initiatives.

What Jeff Bezos taught me was that you shouldn’t obsess over competitors. Instead, you must obsess over your customers and the experience they have with you each and every time. It’s not enough to simply create a slogan and hope that it resonates with your employees and customers.

Unfortunately, “customer-centric” has become a buzzword and many organizations are putting lip stick on a pig and claiming to be customer focused.

Howard Schultz (Starbucks, CEO)

howard s

“Compromise anything but your core values.”

Does your company have core values? I mean, ones that actually represent your brand.

If you simply created them to be like Starbucks then you must reevaluate them. Core values are in place to represent what your brand means to you, your employees, your customers and vendors. These guiding principles help your customers feel emotions that your logo can’t produce.

One of Starbucks mission statement reads,

When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers – even if just for a few moments. Sure, it starts with the promise of a perfectly made beverage, but our work goes far beyond that. It’s really about human connection.

What I learned from Howard Schultz is that you must use your core principles as the foundation of your business. These statements remind your employees why they are dedicating part of their lives to your company.

Even to this day, I still spend 4 hours per day studying my craft. When I find that I haven’t reserved time for my personal education I begin to feel anxious. I feel this anxiety because I believe that if I stop learning then I’m one step closer to becoming irrelevant and not useful to my community of email subscribers, followers and clients.

What customer experience leaders have you learned from? What did they teach you?

Have you seen my video compilation video yet? Why Customer Experience is Top Priority for These CEO’s

 

Customer Experience Isn’t Your Swimming Pool

customer experience swimming pool

When I meet with companies to improve their customer experience I’m often greeted with,

“Michel, we are very conservative. I don’t know how much we can invest to improve our customer experience.”

I understand operating budgets are reviewed with strict attention, however, what I have a hard time understanding is when a company will “double down” on traditional media and say they don’t have the budget to increase their customer loyalty.

You see, we have trained ourselves to invest in initiatives we can see, touch and hear similar to how you can see a swimming pool in your backyard.

When speaking at conferences, I often tell my audience that customer experience is like the foundation of a home. If the foundation of your home is weak then your home will inevitably collapse; your business is no different.

I compare traditional media to a swimming pool. When you build a home you dream of constructing your pool to show your family and friends. Purchasing high profile items is glamourous and it represents accomplishment. I’m not a very blue collar person but I know enough to understand that your contractor would not allow you to begin making plans for your swimming pool before the structure of the home was created. Customer experience is the structure of all great and admired companies.

Think about your business.

Creating “swimming pool initiatives” like a radio or tv ad buys you notoriety. Designing complaint resolution systems to increase customer retention or creating a voice of the customer program to understand your customers behaviour isn’t as high profile but it will produce a greater ROI.

As smart business professionals, we must be willing to do the least glamourous things before we buy our swimming pool.

3 Ways Customer Experience Will Crush Your Company’s Silos

customer experience silos

Silos within organizations are caused by the lack of a centralized team who brings everyone together. Customer experience is the solution to silos existing within your company.

To genuinely become a company that is focused on creating a world class customer experience you must have an individual – or team depending on the size of your company – who oversees customer experience.

As a customer experience executive coach and keynote speaker, I’ve helped many companies increase their customer centricity. A common theme I find in organizations is the absence of a team who leads the design and management of the customer experience in collaboration with other department leaders.

See alsoIs Your Company Customer-Centric or Ego-Centric?

After suggesting that companies must have a single point of accountability (SPA) to improve the customer experience, I’m often asked,

Isn’t it everyone’s responsibility to deliver an exceptional customer experience?

I won’t argue that it is a collective effort to create a world class customer experience. However, customers must have a ‘seat at the table’ and a SPA responsible for ensuring that customer experience has a flag bearer.

The outcome of appointing a CCO or Operations Manager, Customer Experience is a reduction of silos within an organization. Jeanne Bliss, advocates that the Chief Customer Officer (CCO) should be an executive that leads the customer experience. I’ve seen customer experience professionals bring departments together to strategically improve the customer experience and break down silos while doing so.

I believe customer experience will remove silos within your company in three ways.

Internal community

‘Community’ is often used to describe our relationship with customers but what about our internal teams of employees? When we create strategies to improve our customer experience we come together as a team to build our internal community. This community of employees will provide valuable insight from their interactions with customers and offering different perspectives on the customer experience.

Customer Advisory Board (CAB’s) is a fantastic example of how to create an internal community. CAB’s are workshops with existing customers to intimately understand their motivations, challenges and aversions. When hosting a CAB it is recommended that a representative from each department within your company is present. Having this intimate understanding of your customers behaviours will bring your company’s departments together and make you more of a ‘customer company.’

Centralized intelligence

Your marketing team has a close relationship with your customers. The PR professionals at your organization know what will increase brand awareness. Your IT team builds the technology that your customers use to seamlessly navigate through your customer corridor.

Collectively, each department holds valuable intelligence of what makes your customers tick and what ticks them off. These efforts can’t live within silos, as the intelligence becomes paralyzed and less likely to go viral within your company.

Having a customer experience team that is able to bring together all the data and information about a customer is a massive competitive advantage. Organizations that have silos between departments often don’t know who to turn to when they are looking for customer intelligence.

Are your departments hoarding intelligence?

Collective decision making

How many times have you caught wind of a neighbouring department making a decision that affected your team without your consent? I’m sure the team that made the decision didn’t maliciously intend to ‘step on your toes.’

Whether directly or indirectly, all decisions within a company affects the customer experience. You will find that having a representative who oversees customer experience will ensure you are not creating initiatives that negatively affects a department or the customer experience.

Take a moment to think about your company.

Is your company living in silos and making decisions in isolation from other stakeholders? Having a customer experience leader is a solution to overcoming the silos living within your company.

4 Non-Negotiable Traits of Customer Focused CEO’s

customer focused ceo

To be customer focused, a CEO must pay great attention to past, present and future customer behaviours, motivations and aversions.

 

Take a moment to think. Do you work with a customer focused CEO? I mean, not one who says he is but one who backs up their word with action.

Does he invest to improve the company’s customer experience on a consistent basis?

Does she spend time every month connecting with customers?

Does she reach out to frontline employees to understand the customer’s challenges?

This post was inspired by an email I received from one of my email subscribers who asked,

“How do I get my CEO to focus more on the customer?’

Well, it’s not easy. CEO’s either have customer centricity in their DNA or they don’t. It’s difficult to train experienced executives to pivot and genuinely want to invest to improve their customer experience. These leaders may be accustomed to operating a certain way and asking them to change is difficult.

My newsletter subscriber continued by asking,

“How can I tell if my CEO is customer-centric?”

Being focused on the customer requires certain traits to be organic and genuine. They are traits you must possess naturally.

They support their management team with a respectable operating budget

I recently hosted a keynote speaking engagement for customer experience management professionals. When I asked the audience,

“How many people believe they have a sufficient budget to improve their company’s customer experience?”

Only three out of nearly one hundred attendees raised their hand. This tells me that companies have acknowledged that they need someone to lead their customer experience programs but they haven’t effectively given them an adequate budget.

Think of how much your organization invests in marketing, sales and pr initiatives. Is the investment in customer experience equal to or greater than these other strategies? Customer focused CEO’s will ensure that their operational management teams are equipped with a budget that will help drive growth.

Tony Hsieh (Founder, CEO – Zappos) advocates spending more on improving the customer experience over traditional marketing. After all, the best way to grow a business is organically through referrals and repeat business. Zappos is a case study on how to do this.

They think long term

The ROI of some customer experience initiatives can take 6, 12 or 24 months to come to surface. This is why Jeff Bezos says he is “willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time.” I find that CEO’s of publicly traded companies are less likely to invest to become more customer-centric because they have to answer to Wall Street which demands a ROI immediately. For companies who are privately owned, they have the advantage of being able to grow slow.

An investment in customer experience isn’t tangible like investing in radio, television or direct-mail. We must be patient and grow long lasting businesses slowly. Remember, Groupon? They grew very fast, lost their customer focus and are now a shell of what they use to be.

They genuinely want to engage with customers

I once met a CEO who said,

“Michel, I don’t have the time to sit in my call centre and listen to live calls.”

I’m very confident in my expertise but not even I can help professionals who believe their schedules are too busy to listen to customers and speak with employees. As I mentioned earlier, CEO’s either ‘get it’ or they don’t. There are many affordable ways to engage with customers: host Customer Advisory Board meetings, listen to live calls with your contact centre team or monitor your social media feeds.

My recommendation for any professional who wants to become customer focused is to set a recurring meeting on your calendar for 30 minutes each week. During this time, chose a practice that will help you become closer to your customers motivations, challenges and aversions.

Good Enough is No Longer Good Enough

Whether your NPS score is 85 or you are consistently voted as a top customer service company in your industry, customer focused CEO’s aren’t ever satisfied with the level of service their company delivers to their customers.

If a customer-centric CEO sees that the companies level of service has flat lined they motivate their team to build new strategies to revitalize their service.

Many companies run to the opportunity to invest in operational strategies that will increase their profile. As I mentioned in last week’s post, investing in a Super Bowl ad is glamourous. Investing to improve your contact centres training program isn’t so attractive but will pay a higher ROI.

What other traits do you believe customer focused CEO’s possess?

UPDATE: Five minutes after I published this post, Richard Branson announced a massive investment in Virgin Trains to improve the customer experience. Read the article here. It’s not a coincidence I chose a picture of Richard Branson for the image of this post.

To learn how to earn higher customer and employee loyalty, download my ebook The 28 Traits of Organizations Who Are Customer Experience Titans below.

Is Your Company Customer-Centric or Ego-Centric?

customer centric commercials

Being customer centric requires you to be able to operate from the viewpoint of the customer.

 

In other words, can you remove yourself as a professional and make operational decisions based on how you would react if you were the customer? Too many companies claim to be focused on their customers but continue to pay lip service to genuinely becoming a ‘customer company.’

Video: What is a Customer Company?

I’ve worked with several customer centric corganizations and spoken at conferences with executives from companies such as McDonald’s and Kroger in the audience. With this experience, I’ve recognized that genuine customer centric companies invest into improving their customer experience continuously not just as a strategic initiative that will last one or two quarters.

Being ego centric is investing in marketing campaigns that profiles your brand on a grand stage. For example, investing in a Super Bowl ad can be an ego centric effort. With a 30 second spot going for $4,000,000 I question the thought process and decision making within these companies. Last year, Hyundai had a memorable Super Bowl ad. I’ve watched it a few times and it’s pretty funny. I’m sure it created some ‘water cooler’ conversations immediately after the Seattle Seahawks destroyed the Denver Broncos.

See also: Why customer experience is still being neglected by companies of all sizes

Last year, Hyundai ranked 8 out of 19 mass market brands on the JD Power Customer Service Index. I wonder what the $4,000,000 investment that went into the Super Bowl ad would have done for their brand if it was to have gone toward improving their customer service. Would they have ranked 6th and increased their customer acquisition through referrals by 10%? Would they have increased customer retention by 5%.

I’m not suggesting Hyundai doesn’t invest into becoming customer centric or that traditional marketing doesn’t work.

The fact of the matter is that high profile marketing is more glamourous than an investment into improving your customer service. I don’t hear customers say to their colleagues,

“Did you know that Hyundai improved their customer retention by 5%?

What I do hear is,

“Did you watch the Hyundai Super Bowl commercial? It was hilarious!”

Both have business results but which one adds directly to the bottom line?

According to the Harvard Business School, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. That is a direct result of being customer centric.

 

I believe traditional marketing budgets are being threatened. If you look around you, executives like Tony Hsieh are advocating investing a company’s time and money into increasing their customer centric efforts. As I mentioned in last weeks post, word of mouth marketing campaigns is a form of marketing but it’s fueled by a superior customer experience.

Take a look around your company. How much does your organization invest to increase brand awareness vs becoming more customer centric?

Let me know: Why do you think companies run to invest in marketing before customer experience?

To learn how to earn higher customer and employee loyalty, download my ebook The 28 Traits of Organizations Who Are Customer Experience Titans below.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Build a Word of Mouth Marketing Campaign

word of mouth marketing

Customer experience is what powers your word of mouth marketing campaign.

 

Remember, your customers enthusiastically talk about their experience with your service or product not your logo or fancy business card. I’ve seen some businesses spend more time designing their business cards than they do growing their company organically through referrals and repeat business.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, growing organically is the holy grail of business growth. We covet organic growth because the cost of acquisition is very low when we earn a customer through a referral or repeat business. This is why you see companies like Uber and Zappos not spend their budgets on marketing but instead invest into a superior customer experience.

You must ask yourself these three questions before you build your word of mouth marketing campaign.

 

How will we define a successful campaign?

At the very beginning, you and your team are going to be very excited at the thought of earning new customers organically. It’s fun, I’ve been there. Before you jump into the deep end, ask yourself,

“Why are we doing this?”

Is it to earn 100 new customers this quarter?

Is it to increase revenue this month?

Is it to grow your unaided brand awareness from 15% to 20%?

The main focus of your campaign should be to grow your business internally from your existing customers who love your service or product. Having internal growth is what companies who are admired have in common. Admired companies are ones who remain relevant for decades.

See also: 10 Customer Experience Laws to Become an Admired Brand

As Jeff Bezos says, “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is powerful.” A simple quote from an extraordinary businessman.

Have we humanized the experience?

Does your word of mouth marketing campaign have character? Is it engaging? It is authentic?

Airbnb has created a world class word of mouth marketing campaign. As mentioned in step 3 within this Airbnb blog post, they included personalized referral codes within their program. The Airbnb team humanized the interaction with a unique code and picture of the recommendee. Instead of simply having a computer generated code, they were able to put a face to the offer which I believe gives them an opportunity to increase conversion and engagement.

airbnb word of mouth 2

This subtle touch point is something I call a micro customer experience. A micro customer experience is a small, subtle, affordable and memorable interaction a brand has with their customers.

See also: 12 Simple Ways Marketers Can Humanize Their Brand

Will this be fun for our customers?

A few months ago, I learned how Harry’s, an online retailer for men’s shaving products, collected 100,000 email addresses before they launched their business (read the entire post here).

Harry’s used gamification very well to increase awareness of their company and recruit their future customers. Similar to Airbnb, Harry’s gave each visitor a unique code to share with their family and friends. This alone isn’t what made the campaign world class.

harrys word of mouth marketing

They created a tiered incentive program to earn free products. For example, if 5 of your friends used your unique code you earned free shaving cream. 10 friends? You won a handle with blade. 25 friends? You earned a shave set. 50 friends? One year free blades.

Harry’s is smart. They captured early adopters and consumers who take pride in introducing their friends and family to new services or products. Gathering 100,000 email addresses before they launched their service gave them a platform most companies can only dream of. I’ve seen a lot of word of mouth marketing campaigns and Harry’s might be the best.

Whether you are a small, medium or large sized business, take a look at how you are spreading word of mouth. Have you defined what a successful program looks like? Is your campaign engaging and fun?

Share with me: what does a company need to do to earn a referral from you?

To learn how to earn higher customer and employee loyalty, download my ebook The 28 Traits of Organizations Who Are Customer Experience Titans below.

 

Is it the Consumer’s Fault Customer Service is Vanilla?

our fault customer service sucks

We run to complain but move like snails when given the opportunity to recognize exceptional customer service.

 

I’ve studied customer experience management for nearly a decade and have recognized a few trends. First, I believe customer service is improving. Organizations are slowly beginning to invest more into improving their customer experience to avoid paying customer service lip service. Secondly, we are educating ourselves more on what customer experience actually means. It’s no longer recognized as simply being polite because customer experience is the nucleus of every admired brand. Lastly, we are understanding that customer experience encompasses everything. Our marketing, PR and tech efforts must work in harmony to improve the customer experience and grow organically.

One thing that hasn’t changed is our behavior toward customer service as consumers.

 

Our expectations as customers of Amazon, Westjet or our local coffee shop is higher than ever. We recognize that we have a lot of influence and power because our voices have been scaled. When a company fails us we quickly pull the Twitter trigger or yell on Yelp. If you do a twitter search of the keyword customer service you’ll see evidence that this is true.

Let’s ensure our customer service expectations as consumers are aligned with what we deliver as a professional.

 

If we want customer service to improve we need to empower frontline employees ourselves. When was the last time you contacted the manager of an employee who gave you amazing customer service? How often do you run to Twitter, Facebook or Yelp when a company provides you peace of mind? Did you share your positive testimonial on your personal Facebook page for your friends and family to see?

Think about what empowers the best customer service employees.

 

The most customer centric employees are begging for you to call their manager and tell them they delivered an amazing experience. The greatest team members would love to see something on Yelp that highlights their efforts. It’s human nature to want to have our strengths and efforts acknowledged.

How do I know this? I know this because I was that employee.

I began my customer experience career working within the contact centre of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I know what it’s like to take 100 calls/day and have to balance efficiency and superior customer service. The company would regularly host incentive programs that I would win.  However, what I really wanted was to be recognized externally by customers. My motivation was to have a customer email my boss, mention my name within their NPS comments or call to speak to management. When it happened, that was my gratification which motivated me to do it again and again and again.

The companies around us are getting better. I know this because I coach them and speak at events with 100′s in the audience. They recognize that customer experience must be a focus to become an admired company and that it is the foundation of all great businesses.

See also: 10 Customer Experience Laws to Become an Admired Brand

Ultimately, it’s the organizations responsibility to improve their customer service but let’s ensure we give credit when credit is due.

We need to become the tipping point. We must habitually alert companies and employees when they deliver exceptional service. No tweet, comment, share or update is too small to motivate a company or employee.

Tell me. Do you think we need to become the tipping point to inspire companies and employees to deliver better customer service?

To learn how to earn higher customer and employee loyalty, download my ebook The 28 Traits of Organizations Who Are Customer Experience Titans below.

Are We Doing Employee Onboarding All Wrong?

employee onboarding huddle

Employee onboarding is the design of what your employees feel, see and hear after they have been hired.

 

Often, companies confuse onboarding with training. While training does have a role within onboarding it doesn’t represent the entire scope of the process.

Say yes or nod your head if you felt lost during your first few days with your past or current company. Better yet, say yes or nod your head if you operate a business or manage people and feel that your employees are lost during their first week.

I’d imagine that many of you said yes or nodded your head. The reason is because employee onboarding doesn’t receive the attention it deserves. Similar to customer experience, we would prefer to invest in more glamourous initiatives like marketing.

Related post: This is Why We Love to Invest in Marketing Before Customer Experience

Employee onboarding is like exercising. We have enough evidence to show that we must spend a considerable amount of time doing it to improve our health but for whatever reason we don’t. Or, we do it, just not very well or as consistent as we should.

I recently read a fantastic New York Times article which highlighted the employee onboarding best practices from admired brands such as: Warby Parker, Bonobos, ZocDoc, Birchbox and Thrillist.

Consider these facts from a study conducted by the Center for American Progress on how much it costs to recruit and train a single employee:

  • $3,328 for an employee earning $10.00/hour
  • $8,000 for a manager earning $40,000/year
  • $210,000 for a C-suite executive earning $100,000/year

 

After understanding these statistics you may approach employee onboarding differently. If you follow my blog or are subscribed to my email list (free ebook available on my homepage), you’ll know that I don’t just quote statistics and that I’m not theoretical. With that being said, let’s outline the things all businesses, regardless of size or industry, must do to have a world class employee onboarding experience.

Design your employee onboarding experience

 

It’s not enough to simply say, “we have a full time trainer, that’s the experience.” As I mentioned earlier, a successful employee onboarding experience is what your employee feels, sees and hears after they have been hired. Similar to how a company will map out and design their customer experience, you must do the same for your employees.

This process isn’t led by a single department or person, it takes an entire company to contribute to the success of it. Ask your current employees what they liked and didn’t like about their onboarding experience. Take the feedback you receive and use it to recreate the employee onboarding process.

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail

 

This step is crucial and I see many businesses fail to execute on this. You must ensure that your new employee is set up for success. Is their work station prepared? Has their email address and phone line been set up? How about access to shared folders and calendars? Have you set aside their welcome package and employee handbook?

Warby Parker does this very well. They send their employees a digital company handbook and welcome packet the day before their first day. If this employee shows up having read all the information that’s a sign of a great hire.

Be different, sincere…and weird

 

In order to build an admired company we must be admired by our employees first. What are some ways we can do this with onboarding?

During the interview process, ask your candidates, “What’s one thing under $10.00 you can’t live without?”

Let’s assume they say their indulgence is a Mars bar. On their first day, have a handwritten card from the CEO or you entire team welcoming them to the company. Accompany this card with a Mars bar. I’ve coached companies to do this and the ROI of this practice is unmeasurable.

See also (video): 4 Customer Service Questions You Must Be Asking When Hiring

Email to the masses

 

Have you ever been to a party or networking event and the person you arrived with did a poor job at introducing you to their friends and family? Well, that awkward experience is what your employees feel as well.

If you’re a small business, walk your new employee to the desks or work areas of every team member and personally introduce them. If you’re a medium or large business, send an email to the entire company or post on your internal online portal introducing your newest team member. You can make it engaging by including their picture and some obscure questions.

Bonobos includes something they call “Two Truths and a Lie.” The new employee shares two things which are true about themselves and one that is a lie. The first employee within the company that determines which are true and which is false receives a $25 gift card for their website.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? hosts a company-wide stand up meeting at 10:55am called Huddle. During this time, if there are new employees in attendance they are introduced in front of the company.

Cross departmental training

 

Of course, you can’t have a world class employee onboarding experience without training. I’ve seen training programs from companies of all sizes and industries which underwhelm me.

Most people think training can be boring but it doesn’t need to be this way. Training can genuinely be fun if you include employees from all departments. Have your CEO come in and say hi and all other department leaders to explain what their team does and how they contribute to the success of the company.

If you’re a small business, think of creative ways to allow employees to lend a hand in training. You’ll be surprised how many of your current employees would be willing to assist in the success of your employee onboarding program if you present the opportunity.

Job shadowing

 

Before becoming an executive coach and keynote speaker, the most fun I had as an employee was while job shadowing. It may be because of the way I learn but I was always very engaged when I would watch how others performed their jobs so that I could replicate success. For me, job shadowing gave me the opportunity to learn from those that have come before me which I believe provided me a springboard to success.

Take a look around your company, are there high performers that you can ask to become mentors for your new employees? This practice will save you time, money and energy.

Employee onboarding is in the DNA of admired companies

 

I advocate that customer experience is the foundation of every successful business. Employee experience must also become a top priority for your company if you want to become an admired brand.

Ensure that your employees are given the tools, education and motivation to succeed, take a step back and watch them contribute to the success of your business.

Here’s an honest questions. Why do you think companies don’t properly invest into employee onboarding? Leave your comments below.

For 28 more tips like these, download my ebook below and get instant access for free.

 

The Top 3 Avoidable Mistakes of Customer Surveys

3 customer survey mistakes

Every company, regardless of size or industry, must use surveys to improve their customer experience.

 

When it comes to customer surveys, I believe there are three types of companies:

The “surveys don’t work” company: This company never collects customer feedback because they are short sighted and don’t know what to do with the data. They often cover up these challenges by saying “surveys don’t work.”

The passive company: A company who passively collects feedback but lets the data sit in a virtual storage unit which brings no value to the customer or the business. In this scenario, I would recommend not collecting feedback at all. You must be willing to go all in.

The admired company: An organization who obsesses over giving their customers a voice, analyzing the data, sharing the knowledge throughout the company and making operational improvements to better their business.

Which company are you?

One of the greatest challenges in using email surveys is having your customers open and complete them. It’s become a habit of consumers to immediately delete these emails and move on.

 

Why is this?

We have been trained to do so. Companies have sent us surveys for ages only to do very little with them. Think about it. How many times have you completed an email survey? How often have you had a company follow up with you? During my time at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? our goal was to respond to all customers within one business day after receiving their feedback. In fact, we had a 90/1 rule which meant that our goal was to respond to 90% of customers within one business day.

By responding to customers quickly, we built trust and created peace of mind that if they took the time to respond to our survey we would pay the respect by responding back to them. This practice was not only reserved for complaints.

There are three key reasons why your customers aren’t completing your customer surveys.

 

Not creating an engaging and authentic subject line

 

Take a look at your email subject line. Do you know what it is? Remove yourself as an owner or employee and ask yourself,

“Would I open this?”

Case Study #1: Let’s use Rogers communication (Canada’s leading telecommunications company) as an example. As of last week, this is their subject line.

customer survey Rogers

“Your Feedback is Requested – Rogers Customer Experience” is mundane and doesn’t make me want to engage. Also, it makes me feel that they are only asking for my feedback to serve their own agenda. You need to have a subject line that resonates with your customers and makes them feel that the request is to serve them. For me, an email subject line such as “Did we wow you? Please tell us in five minutes” or “How can we improve? Tell us in three minutes” would have influenced me to complete their customer survey.

What would you recommend Rogers change their subject line to? Leave your response in the comment section below.

The team at Crazy Egg have put together a great post to give you some examples to recreate your subject line. Review your current customer survey email subject line, do some A/B testing and see what converts best.

Not keeping the customer survey lean

 

Personally, I won’t fill out any customer survey that is longer than ten questions. This is part of the reason why the Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become popular among companies of all sizes. You want your survey to be long enough to give you insight into how to improve your business but short enough not to cause “survey fatigue” with your customers.

SEE ALSO: How to Influence Your Boss to Adopt Net Promoter Score Without Pushback

Case Study #2: Qantas airlines is a fantastic example of keeping their customer survey short, direct and to the point. As you can see, they also use NPS.

Quantas customer survey

Earlier this year, a commercial real estate company reached out to me for my customer experience expertise. They were asking dozens of questions with NPS being one of them. They were hesitant to solely focus on NPS because they were scared that they wouldn’t get the feedback they needed.

I immediately recognized their problem. They were gathering customer feedback for their own agenda. They wanted to gather insight into what they believed was most important. Part of the reason why NPS is so valuable is because you are able to ask two questions (or a few), sit back and wait to hear what’s most important to your customers.

After all, isn’t that the power of the Voice of the Customer? Annette Franz, voice of the customer expert and Director of VOC consulting at Confirmit, wrote a great post titled “Does It Pay to Listen to the Voice of the Customer?”

Take a look at your current survey, are you asking too many questions causing your company to receive too few responses?

Not making the experience digital and mobile responsive

 

It’s 2014 and I still see physical customer survey boxes. In order to increase survey complete rates we need to make it easy for our customers to do so. Systems such as geofencing and iBeacon will allow us to gather feedback from our customers in a way that is much easier for them and us.

If you are currently using physical boxes, consider these challenges. You’re asking your customers to spend too much time writing out their comments. You will have to have a SPA manually sort through each comment, categorize them and try to make sense of it all. Plus, it’s not easy to share customer feedback throughout your company, both good and bad, when it’s delivered in such a fragmented way.

Case Study #3: CLIENTpulse

CLIENTpulse is software to power customer feedback. What I appreciate about this software is their UX, their clean UI and that it is mobile responsive.. If I were to receive a customer survey from a company powered by CLIENTpulse the likelihood is that I would engage which would increase the probability that I would respond. As you can see, the CLIENTpulse software is easy to use on mobile phones and tablets.

Clientpulse Mobile

Consider it a cardinal sin if you don’t optimize your survey for mobile phones and tablets. Don’t ask your customers to squint or zoom to complete your customer survey.

By effectively leveraging customer surveys, hosting customer advisory boards and designing your customer experience your company will be on the path to creating a customer centric company.

Tell me. What other features do you look for in an email customer survey? Leave your comments below.

 

Why Customer Experience is Still Being Neglected by Companies of all Sizes

customer experience leader - kat cole

Every great business has a foundation comprised of a superior customer experience. It’s what holds everything together during times of turbulence.

 

I speak with entrepreneurs representing businesses of all sizes and industries on a daily basis. I can confidently say that the majority of these business people aren’t investing their resources to improve the customer experience because they don’t genuinely know what it is or how to define it.

Growing up, when my grandfather recommended that I focus my entrepreneurial efforts on learning customer experience, I equated it to being the same thing as customer service. I figured that customer service was simply something I received while at the grocery store when I needed to pay for my items. Customer experience is different than customer service but one can’t live without the other.

Customer experience is the premeditated design of what your customer experiences when doing business with you from beginning to end.

 

Now that I’ve studied the operations of some of the most admired companies in the world, I know that customer experience can be what your customers feel, see, taste, hear and smell. It can encompass all of your five senses. Disney captures customers through emotions and how their customers feel when they are at Disneyland. Alec Monopoly has become a mainstream graffiti artist because of what we see. Part of Ben and Jerry’s customer experience is what their customers taste. Michael Buble sells out stadiums across the world because his customers love what they hear. Cinnabon has earned my money through the smell of their cinnamon buns.

Video: This is the difference between customer experience, customer service and customer centricity

Customer experience will lead to customer loyal if you’re consistent

 

To have loyal customers, you can’t simply have one flagship product or one touch point that makes your customers smile. You must have an operation that delivers on their promises at each interaction. This is why customer experience is so difficult. When you have exceeded the expectations of your customers that now becomes the bare minimum. Apple would not be the most valuable company in the world if it didn’t have a strict focus on customer experience. Sure, they would still have their world class products but I’m confident that their products would not have received the same amount of adoption if their service delivery was poor. Apple designed their stores and enhanced the customer experience propelling them forward and past the competition.

See alsoApple hires ‘wicked smart’ Burberry CEO to run retail

customer experience apple store

Customer experience is a high level initiative that is gaining awareness but still lacks boardroom and management buy-in.

Customer service is the micro interactions you have with your customers.

 

Customer service can be a friendly and efficient employee at your grocery store. It can also be a company that resolves a complaint immediately rather than after five attempts of contacting them. I equate customer service to micro interactions because often it is the little things that count. It’s the small gestures that a company consistently delivers that makes up part of the entire customer experience.

A micro interaction are the small, subtle, memorable and affordable things that a company does to gain your trust.

Braintree is a world class example of customer service and micro interactions

 

The other day, I visited Braintree’s website and was delivered amazing customer service after filling out their contact page.

braintree

After filling out the contact form, I wasn’t pushed to a typical, “thank you” page. Instead, Braintree designed a page that humanized their brand. Whether the person shown is an actual employee or not is irrelevant. What they have done is given their customers a unique and trustworthy experience by delivering a micro interaction. This also builds peace of mind in that they will deliver on their promise and contact me. For the record, a Braintree team member contacted me the same day.

Entrepreneurs must know the difference between customer experience and customer service

 

Both customer experience and customer service must live in harmony together for your company to become admired. Once you have identified the difference between the two, you will be in a better position to look at your operation from a more holistic view and create an experience that your customers become loyal to.

What companies are you loyal to because of their customer experience?

To learn more customer and employee experience strategies from the world’s most admired brands, download my free ebook below.

 
The 28 Traits of Organizations Who Are Customer Experience Titans

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