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A fish rots from the head down - and so does your culture.

What does "a fish rots from the head down" mean? It means that the problem starts at the top, that the problems, failures, issues, toxicity, etc. in your organization - or any organization - start with the leadership team.

Senior leaders and executives: take a good, hard look at how you and your colleagues act, behave, make decisions, walk the walk/talk the talk, live the values, etc. How would you feel if your employees did what you just did? If you say, "Great!" Kudos to you. But if you scratch your head and think that what you do is fine because you lead a team or lead the company - but wouldn't want your employees to act the same way - you are wrong. Everyone in your company must live by the same standards, by the same values.

That's how cultures are created. That's how cultures are sustained. That's how cultures are transformed.

Culture is like the wind. It is invisible; yet its effect can be seen and felt.
-Bryan Walker, Partner and Managing Director, IDEO

Leaders must model the behavior they want to see - this is where the real culture transformation begins. Because, metaphorically speaking, "What's good for the goose (leader) is good for the gander (employee)." In other words, if you, as a leader, want employees to act a certain way, then you must live the values, lead, model, and show them what the right or acceptable behavior is. And only then does culture become "how employees act when the CEO isn't looking." Because, let's face it, most of the time the CEO is not there, looking over an employee's shoulders. But if employees see that executives put themselves "above the law," forget it; that's a major culture fail.

If you're in the midst of transforming your business to a customer-focused/customer-centric culture, then employees look to you for what that means. It means that you'll...
  • create meeting agendas that always include customer experience and employee experience topics and metrics, customer and employee stories, etc.
  • walk around the office, talking to employees and asking them about their work days, their careers, their passions, their lives, their jobs, etc., ensuring they have everything they need to have a great experience, and letting them know how their work matters
  • motivate and inspire employees to do their best work - and to deliver the best for your customers 
  • empower employees
  • listen to employees and to customers - and act on their feedback 
  • communicate with employees openly and candidly - about the vision, the purpose, the mission, the strategy, the business, etc.
  • visit customers regularly to understand their experiences - and act on what you learn
  • field calls from customers and mystery shop your own phone lines to ensure that the customer experience is what you expect it to be
  • deliver regular company updates via email and/or video that always incorporate some mention of employees and customers, their importance to the business, great things they've done or are doing, and how the CX vision and strategy are moving forward
  • develop core values that support this customer-focused/customer-centric culture
  • talk about and live the core values, always!
  • recognize and reward employees for the behaviors that drive great customer experiences
  • ensure all employees know that they impact the customer and the customer experience (and how)
  • consider the impact of all decisions - yours and the ones that your employees make - on the customer and her experience
  • make decisions through a "people-first" lens 
  • and more!
Remember this: the things you talk about a lot are deemed important to employees, and employees realize the things you don't talk about are inconsequential.

Don't let your culture rot from the head down. If you, company leader, do these things, it sets the tone for your employees. They'll get it. They'll see that you mean business. But if you never do any of the things listed above, your employees won't believe that they - or your customers - are important or that there's any kind of transformation underway.

When employees have confidence in their leadership team and the mission they've undertaken to transform the business, they buy in, they believe, and they align with you and with the goals of the transformation, of the organization.

When employees align with senior leaders and with the mission, when everyone is working together and focused on the same goals, then the real magic can happen.

Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. -Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO, Airbnb
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I originally wrote today's post for Logi Analytics. It appeared on their blog on December 14, 2017.

Data is just data until you do something with it, right?!

That statement has plagued companies for a long time. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they just don’t know what to do with the data.

In December 2017, I hosted a webinar with Logi Analytics titled 5 Steps to Making Data Actionable, in which I shared tips on moving beyond data for the sake of data – and dashboards for the sake of dashboards – to recommending insights and outputs that drive action, I thought I’d share some details about one of the areas I covered during my presentation: how data-driven decisions and actions have evolved, particularly for customer experience professionals.

Customer experience professionals know that, in order to deliver a great experience, companies must listen to customers, link customer feedback to transactional (and other) data, and act on what they hear. There’s an old Gartner statistic that I still like to share because I believe it’s relevant to this day:

95% of companies collect customer feedback, yet only 10% use the feedback to improve, and only 5% tell customers what they are doing in response to what they heard.

This statistic is a good, high-level representation of how companies have matured or evolved (or haven’t) along the continuum of data-driven success.

Let’s take a closer look at that continuum. And let’s assume that Phase 0 is not listening or looking at data at all.

Phase 1 (Feedback) is where we see companies in the primitive stages of understanding the importance of data, i.e., they know they need to listen to their customers, oftentimes because everyone else is doing it. But that’s all they do; they check the box to say, “We listen.” And they’re paralyzed by the reams of data that exist within their systems.

In Phase 2 (Metrics), companies pick up their next bad habit when it comes to customer listening and understanding: they focus on a metric, on making their number, on moving the needle on the score. Doing that, instead of using data to improve the customer experience, is not really progress, and it’s not really a good thing. When you focus on the metric, you reward the behaviors that move the number, not on those that deliver a better experience. those (former, not latter) behaviors are often bad behaviors.

The next level in the data-driven success continuum is Phase 3 (Insights). Now we’re starting to make some progress. Companies at this level are interpreting the data, digging for insights, and telling the story of the data. They are making some data-driven improvements, mainly tactical at this point.

In Phase 4 (Outcomes), companies realize they cannot just make improvements without linking the findings and the work to be done to operational metrics and business outcomes. They realize they’ll make greater progress and get the resources (human, capital, and more) if they can show that “if we do X, it will impact Y.”

And finally, in Phase 5 (Innovation), we see some real progress! Companies us the data, the insights, and the linkages to make some real, significant, strategic improvements: they use the data to develop new products that solve problems for customers and help them do some job, and they redesign the customer experience to better meet customers’ expectations.

The important component along each phase is, obviously, the data and what is done with the data. Critical to that is the way the data is presented to the one who consumes it and needs to do something with it. There’s definitely an evolution in analysis and reporting, as well, as companies mature along the continuum. The output goes from basic descriptive statistics to metrics and trends to insights and stories to ROI and financial linkages to predictive and prescriptive recommendations that retain customers.

Consider these things when you’re developing reports and dashboards for customer experience professionals or for those who need to consume customer data in order to improve the experience. The data needs to be presented in a way that’s actionable; more specifically, it needs to tell the user exactly what needs to be done, why, and what the impact of making the change will be.

There are two goals when presenting data: convey your story and establish credibility. -Edward Tufte
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Here's another age-old debate... gold or platinum?

Personally, I prefer platinum.

Oh wait. What are we talking about? LOL.

Rules. I'm talking about rules.

I still prefer platinum!

On the heels of my recent post about imagining that you're a human... I thought I'd take a look at which one, the Golden Rule or  the Platinum Rule, puts us into more-human and more-empathetic shoes.

You're probably well aware of both rules I'm referring to. The Golden Rule states that you should treat others the way that you would want to be treated, while the Platinum Rule shifts the focus a bit and says that you should treat others the way that they want to be treated.

I'm positive the Platinum Rule was created by a customer experience professional! While the Golden Rule ignores the feelings of others and assumes that we all want to be treated the same way, the Platinum Rule recognizes that we don't, that we want to be treated the way we want to be treated. It acknowledges that we all have different needs and want to be respected as individuals. It's quite the improvement to the Golden Rule. It's much more empathetic.

The Platinum Rule speaks to customer experience professionals. We are constantly preaching that companies need to be more empathetic and do a better job of understanding customers wants, needs, pain points, problems to solve, jobs to be done, and more... so that they can design the products and the experiences that customers want.

Put differently, I think the Golden Rule perpetuates inside-out thinking, while the Platinum Rule inspires outside-in thinking.

What's the best way to perpetuate the Platinum Rule? Three ways that I write and talk about all the time are:
  1. Listen. Don't just ask customers about the experience, listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels and ways for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you are performing against their expectations. Understanding these expectations and identifying key drivers of a great customer experience are important outcomes of this exercise.
  2. Characterize. Research your customers. Identify the jobs they are trying to do. Compile key personas that represent the various types of prospects and customers that (might) buy from you or that use your products or services.
  3. Empathize. Walk in your customers' shoes to get a clear understanding of the steps they take to do whatever job it is they are trying to do with your organization.  Map their journeys to understand the current state of the experience.
These are all critical learning exercises. We walk away from each one with a lot of knowledge about customers wants, needs, problems to solve, etc. Use that information to live the Platinum Rule with your customers.

If you still think the Golden Rule is the better rule, consider this golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. Your customers hold the gold, and they will spend it elsewhere if you don't take the time to get to know them.

I've said it before: maybe it goes beyond those rules to just simply doing what's right. But does that mean we need to rely on common sense? And how common is common sense? Maybe that's the problem.

The golden rule for every business man is this: Put yourself in your customer’s place. – Orison Swett Marden
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I originally wrote today's post for Zingle. It appeared on their blog on January 16, 2018.

Communication is important to any relationship, and it's no less important in the relationships that businesses have with their customers. When it comes to communicating, your company’s accessibility, availability, responsiveness, courtesy and professionalism, consistent voice, and consistent messaging go a long way toward building strong relationships and delivering a great experience for your customers.

Sadly, communications are often an overlooked piece of the customer experience and the overall customer experience strategy. And yet, like in any relationship, communications are often the point where the experience breaks down – or are the root cause for a breakdown.

How can we ensure that doesn’t happen?

Let me start by defining “customer experience,” and then I’ll answer that question. I like to start with this definition to ensure that we’re all on the same page.

Customer experience is (a) the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship and includes (b) the customer's feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand during the course of those interactions.

Customer experience is not customer service. The two are not one and the same. Customer service is just one of those interactions that I mention in my definition of customer experience. Need a better way to differentiate the two? Use Chris Zane’s definition: Customer service is what happens when the customer experience breaks down.

Now, back to the question I posed about ensuring that communications aren’t overlooked as part of the customer experience. How do we make sure they’re integrated into your customer experience strategy and design – and executed well? Simple. With journey maps.
What is a journey map? It’s an illustration made by walking in your customers’ shoes to capture their steps, their needs, and their perceptions for some interaction they have with your company, some journey they are taking to achieve a desired outcome. Journey mapping is a creative process that allows companies to understand – and then to redesign – the customer experience. The output is not just a pretty picture; once the map is developed, it is meant to be a catalyst for change.

Why journey mapping? It’s a learning process! When you map the customer steps for a specific journey, you will be jotting down every touch the customer has with your company, including any communications she receives from the company, as well as any contact she initiates. You’ll capture enough detail about the journey so that you can not only understand the experience but also identify where things are going well and where they’re not.

One of the goals of journey mapping is to identify key moments of truth, i.e., those make-or-break moments along the customer journey that need to be executed flawlessly in order to deliver a great customer experience. Oftentimes, communications are those moments of truth. And all too often, as I mentioned earlier, they are the reason the experience goes poorly.

What’s next? Critical to this whole exercise is that, once you’ve identified those moments of truth – particularly the ones that impact the experience negatively – you must quickly fix them.

In order to do that, you’ll want to undertake one more mapping exercise – this time, mapping the internal processes that facilitate and support those moments of truth. Process mapping is very different from journey mapping in that the focus is on what happens behind the scenes, what the company does to support the customer journey.

Process mapping is important because you can’t fix the customer’s experience if the backstage processes aren’t efficiently and effectively supporting it. Think about the tools, systems, and processes you have in place to support the customer experience today. Do they make sense? Do your employees have the resources and the know-how to execute flawlessly? Consider all of the areas where you’re communicating with customers. Are employees able to communicate clearly, consistently, and in a timely fashion in order to deliver a great customer experience? Are you communicating in the manner in which your customers prefer? And when they need you to?

I wouldn’t be surprised if your answers are “No.” Time to get to work! Start mapping your customer journeys – from the customer viewpoint. Don’t forget to consider various communication channels and sources. Identify where the journey breaks down. Take a look at your processes supporting these journeys. Fix what’s broken behind the scenes. Redesign the experience. And communicate the changes to your customers. Once again, communication is key.

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. -Tony Robbins
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Image courtesy of SaleMove
How do you develop a customer experience strategy and roadmap?

That was one of many questions I was asked during my recent interview with Dan Michaeli, co-founder and CEO of SaleMove and host of the podcast, The CX Show.

I enjoyed my conversation with Dan. We cover a range of topics, and it was the first time I was interviewed about the five-phase approach I take with clients when developing a customer experience strategy and roadmap. Intermingled with the discussion about my detailed approach were other related/relevant topics, including:
  • the evolution of customer experience over the last 25 years
  • the evolution from market research to voice of the customer - and technology's role in helping to bring about the shift, allowing for immediate access to customer feedback and behaviors
  • the importance of connecting employee experience and customer experience - and when to focus on each one
  • the convergence of employee experience and customer experience - what that means for the business and for the customer and the customer experience
  • the customer experience transformation - it's a 2-4 year journey, until it becomes the new normal, the new way of doing business
  • technology needs as part of the customer experience strategy
  • the future of customer experience, and
  • some book recommendations to help you along your customer experience journey

To hear the full podcast, follow this link. I hope you enjoy it! And, as always, if you have any questions or if I can help in any way, let me know in the comments below or by contacting me.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. -Ernest Hemingway
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Now there's a crazy statement to make during a customer experience design session...

"Imagine for a second that you're a human... "

Yikes!

Unfortunately, more companies need to start thinking this way!

Sadly, there is no shortage of stories about customers being treated badly, even inhumanely. The one that always - instantly - comes to mind is the one of the  poor doctor who got dragged off that United flight just a year ago. If there's ever a "Would You Do That to Your Mother?" moment, that is certainly it.

How does something like that even happen?

What’s crazy to me is that we are all humans! (At least, most days I think we are!) And we are all customers! So what happens when we walk into the doors of our employers’ offices? What happens when we cross that threshold from not yet clocked in to on the clock? Do we forget that we're all humans? Do we forget that we’re customers, too? Do we get dragged down by the corporate culture we work in day in and day out? Does that culture suck the empathetic life out of us? How can we treat each other so poorly?! There's really no excuse that ever makes it OK to not deliver a great customer experience to the customer in front of you.

Need help putting the human lens back onto your customers? Try doing these three things...
  1. Listen. Don't just ask customers about the experience, listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels and ways for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you are performing against their expectations. Understanding these expectations and identifying key drivers of a great customer experience are important outcomes of this exercise.
  2. Characterize. Research your customers. Identify the jobs they are trying to do. Compile key personas that represent the various types of prospects and customers that (might) buy from you or that use your products or services.
  3. Empathize. Walk in your customers' shoes to get a clear understanding of the steps they take to do whatever job it is they are trying to do with your organization.  Map their journeys to understand the current state of the experience.
And it's not just how customers are treated. Think about employees, too. Richard Branson says: Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. So yes, when you don't take care of employees and ensure that they have a great experience, bad things can happen to your customers and to your business. Empathy for customers begins with empathy for employees!

How can you put the human lens back on employees? Use those same three steps. And remember that a great experience isn't about free beer and ping pong tables. It's about truly caring for your employees. Treating them like family. Making sure they have a career path, know their growth and development options/opportunities, receive feedback and coaching, feel appreciated and recognized for their hard work, understand the impact they make on the business, know that their work matters, and feel valued, trusted, respected, and cared for.

All of that stems from a culture that values and respects people (employees and customers) as humans - and a leadership team that, in Bob Chapman's words, views employees not as cogs in their wheels to success but measures success by how they touch people's lives.

I'll leave you with an Acura commercial that I just saw recently. The tagline is: When you don't think of them as dummies, something amazing happens. It gives me chills every time I watch it.

Acura - The Test - YouTube

So, as you're designing processes, developing and testing products, writing an email, or answering the phone, think for a second. Take a moment (or two or three) to consider the human on the other end, the human who's going to use the product, receive the email, or rely on you to solve their problems. Then put yourself in their shoes. Don't think of them as dummies - think of them as fellow human beings who deserve better. Ensure their best interests are at heart - with every interaction.

Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another. -Alfred Adler
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Rather than thinking customer-centric, how about thinking people-centric?

While customer experience strategies must include a priority focus on the employee experience (i.e., they are first!), they often don’t. Many companies actually  believe that they can improve the customer experience without improving the employee experience.

I’ve heard that said many times over the last 25 years. It doesn't get any easier to hear over time. And the thinking is just as erroneous now as it was back then.

If you want to move beyond cosmetic changes and lip service to real changes in the customer experience, you must first look at the employee experience. In order to improve both, you must first look to company culture and leadership.

At the root of what both employees and customers experience with a company is its culture; and that culture must be one designed to focus on both of their needs – and put them and their needs before profits or shareholder value. Does your company have a people-centric culture, or is it profit-centric and profit-driven? Yes, companies must make money, but there’s a better way to do it that benefits all constituencies involved.

How do you design a people-centric culture?

I'm so glad you asked!

If you missed me talk about how to do just that in last week's webinar with CallidusCloud, you can still listen and view it on demand. In this webinar, I take the audience through the typical culture pyramid and then contrast that with what a people-focused culture looks like - and how to get there. Trust me. It's a very different culture pyramid from the typical organization's culture.

Be sure to watch the webinar, Be a CX Winner by Focusing on Culture and Employee Experience. Let's shift the way that everyone thinks about leadership, culture, and business. Let's drive outcomes by creating a culture where people are put before profits. Focus on the people, and the numbers will come!
Our philosophy is that we care about people first. -Mark Zuckerberg
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Image courtesy of Quadient
Are you communicating with customers in their preferred methods?

That's only one of many questions we discussed last week, when I had the pleasure of participating in the keynote panel for Quadient's third virtual CX Transformation Day. The panel, moderated by Mirza Baig, Quadient's Director of Digital and Advocacy Marketing, included David Poole, with the Financial Services Center of Excellence at Publicis Sapient; Paul DeSantis, Chief Operating Officer of ANRO; and myself. It was a lively discussion to kickoff the day, as we talked about customer experience, journey mapping, digital transformation, print, and, of course, fax machines!

We covered a lot of territory as we discussed and deconstructed the hype around the latest disruptive technologies, citing real world and practical examples. At the same time, we talked about technology's impact on employee engagement and culture change. Just a few of the topics we hit on included:
  • The power of using data to comply with governance and legal frameworks in relation to your customers' marketing and privacy needs.
  • The concept of the "Enterprise Startup."
  • The core vs. the edge when starting a digital transformation pilot program.
  • How to build out out process workflows in parallel to provide faster application acceptance and better customer service.
  • Going beyond messaging bots and Alexa - a deep-dive into omnichannel interactions and communications.
  • Back to the basics - being customer-centric with the ability to interact with your customer on their terms.
  • And never forgetting that communication is a critical piece of the experience, during both purchasing and ownership stages.
In addition, you won't want to miss David Poole talking about developing the journey manager role and organizing the business around specific journeys.

And Paul deSantis talked about marketing developers, another interesting role that goes beyond simply placing graphical elements on marketing collateral, instead putting some data and some science behind it, as well.

The discussion is fast-paced, fun, and thought-provoking. Grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy this informative panel from CX Transformation Day!

Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally-understood language. -Walt Disney
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Do you close the loop with customers after they provide feedback?

Many companies listen to customers, but a big chunk of these companies don't do anything with the feedback or follow up with customers about what they heard. What a shame! What a huge missed opportunity!

Remember the old Gartner stat: 95% of companies collect customer feedback. Yet only 10% use the feedback to improve, and only 5% tell customers what they are doing in response to what they heard. It's from a few years ago but still fairly representative. I've seen the 10% as high as 34% in some studies. Perhaps the 5% has bumped up a bit, but tell me the last time you heard from a company after providing feedback. It's pretty rare.

This week's #CXChat (they happen weekly on Wednesdays at 11am PT) is all about closing the loop with customers on their feedback, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to write again about the importance of doing so.

Customers take time to provide feedback, to help companies improve! Why don't companies act on the feedback or close the loop with customers? I've got a few thoughts on that:

At Some Point, You Have to Stop Listening
Two Major Flaws of Your Customer Listening Efforts
Today's VoC Program Challenges

A closed-loop feedback process begins with feedback. And that means it actually begins with the survey or the listening post from which the feedback is derived. Let's focus on surveys as the feedback channel.

First and foremost, you'll need to design surveys that provide you with actionable feedback. Some tips to do that can be found in these posts:

22 Tips for Proper Survey Design
20 Signs That It's Time for a VoC Redesign
Surveys Don't Sell!
Do You Employ Actionability Thinking in Survey Design?
How Do You Know When It's Time to Redesign Your VoC Program?
Customer Surveys are as Important as Ever
Improving the Respondent Experience

And you'll need to ensure that you maximize response rates.

Maximizing Survey Response Rates - Part 1: Defining Concepts
Maximizing Survey Response Rates - Part 2: 10 Tips to Achieve Your Goal

Once the feedback starts pouring in, you'll want to make some sense of it. There are many different ways to analyze the data.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
CEM Toolbox: Making Sense of Your Data
Data is Just Data...
Making Sense of Customer Words
The Definition of CX Insanity
The Future is Now: Take Your Customer Data to the Next Level
Data for the Sake of Data? Never!

What will you do with the feedback? What will you do with the analysis? How will you socialize it with employees? Design a closed-loop process - and empower employees to follow up with customers.
  • Ensure that your VoC platform allows for automated alerts that are triggered based on customer responses to certain questions in the survey.
  • Set up workflows and case tracking. 
  • Thank customers for their feedback.
  • Share the feedback with employees.
  • Triage those customers who have issues, whether new or unresolved.
  • Conduct root cause analysis. 
  • Fix the problem.
  • Let customers know what you did and what the new experience will be. 
  • Train employees on the resolution/new experience.
  • Remeasure: What do customers think about the new experience? Do they consider the issue to be resolved? How well did you improve the experience?
Transforming the Customer Experience with Big Data
Five Fails to Avoid with Your VoC Program
Closing the Loop on CX Improvements
Tips to Help You Close the Loop with Your Customers

Two final things to consider:
  1. Follow up with customers who provided positive feedback, too. Appreciate the positive; improve the negative.
  2. If there's an issue, that's not the end. Research shows that customers who had an issue that was followed up with successful service recovery tend to me more loyal than if there had never been a problem.
Listen. Follow up. Appreciate. Recover. Delight.

It takes humility to seek feedback; it takes wisdom to understand it, analyze it, and appropriately act on it. -Stephen Covey
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Today I'm pleased to present a guest post by Jason Grills with ProProfs.

Ever since 1994, Amazon has been spreading its impact and dictating trends in the e-commerce industry. If you’ve ever used its services, you’ve probably had the chance to directly witness one of the crucial reasons for its success.

What makes Amazon a market leader with constantly-increasing revenue is the relationship that this company builds with every single customer. According to Statista, 67% of US Amazon customers were very satisfied and 28% rather satisfied with the customer support provided by Amazon as of March 2017.

So, if you’re interested in building a customer experience that will keep your customers coming back, it’s beyond convenient to adopt the extraordinary customer experience practices developed by Amazon. This is the reason I'm revealing some of the most important hacks for creating a superior customer experience in this article. Read on and find out more!

Hack #1: Customer Experience is a Reflection of Employee Experience
In other words, if you can’t keep your employees happy, they won’t be interested in keeping your customers happy. This is especially important to recognize when it comes to the employees in customer support, such as live chat agents, call center operators, etc.

According to Glassdoor, 74% of employees would recommend Amazon to a friend, which is definitely an important factor to consider. And this is not a surprise if we consider the fact that Amazon Career Choice program invests up to $12,000 in the employees’ education and certification.
Keeping these facts in mind, it’s obvious that Amazon employees are highly motivated to provide the best possible results and keep the customers happy. So think about the ways to make your employees happy and ensure they are well-trained for interacting with your customers. Your customers will definitely appreciate it.

Hack #2: Forget about Competition
Unless you’re trying to copy their good practices when it comes to the treatment of employees and customers, stop overthinking your competition. Once you realize you’re not in the game to compete with another brand but to make the ones who rely on you as happy as you can, you’ll be able to provide a better customer experience.

As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has stated for US News, if you focus on your competition, you’ll always be waiting for them to do something that you should react to. And that behavior reflects a passive approach that you should avoid. On the other hand, if you focus on your customers’ needs, you’ll always be working on new ways to keep them content and loyal. Practically, you’ll be the one to innovate and dictate new trends.

Hack #3: Help Your Customers Help Themselves
Taking up every query can be a hectic task for your support agents. And this can be due to various reasons.
  • There are days when too many customer queries flow in at once. Therefore, it can be tiresome for them. Plus, there may be questions that are frequently asked by visitors. To cater to customer needs and to ensure that agents are able to deliver answers instantly through a live chat support system, it is essential to create FAQs that fill the need for instant answers efficiently.
  • A shortage of customer support agents can also put a lot of pressure on the existing team. There could be scenarios where the entire team is not present. Although the other members do take the charge for a chat, it still puts them in a spot to perform well and provide every customer a delightful experience. But this can be resolved if a knowledge base is integrated into the process.
With knowledge base integration, you not only help your customers get instant answers but also achieve the following benefits. You'll create...
  • a more-efficient live chat support system, since agents will only deal with issues that cannot be solved among fellow customers;
  • a collaborative customer community that will strengthen their mutual bond, and, therefore, the bond with your brand by creating that sense of community and facilitating their interactions; and
  • an interactive, publicly-accessible knowledge base (a forum, a discussion board, or a group) that you can save and promote to help future customers find information easily, as well.
Hack #4: Provide a Responsive Help Center
The key advantage of great customer support is a well-developed help center that allows customers to look for the information they need. By introducing a help center that’s well designed and meaningfully organized, you will:
  • save your customers’ time, and 
  • increase the efficiency of the agents working in your live chat customer support by eliminating interactions when there’s no need for them.
If you’ve ever visited Amazon’s Help, you’ve probably realized that it’s got a large number of topics and subtopics with numerous articles offering concise information; however, even though the content is what matters the most, the minimalist layout that keeps you focused on finding the answers to your questions is equally important. And that’s definitely the way to go if you want to improve your customer experience.

Hack #5: Provide Easily Accessible and High-Quality Live Support
Not only is it important for you to provide a thorough help center, it's also necessary to make it easy for customers to get in touch with your support staff. At Amazon, customers are rarely put on hold, no matter whether they’re contacting the representatives using live chat or by phone.

Apart from providing a quick response, what makes Amazon the first-ranked company when it comes to customer satisfaction is the fact that they invest a lot in the employees’ education in the field of CX. According to Jeff Bezos, call-center training is an obligatory part of annual training not only for support staff but for all employees at Amazon, including managers. This way, the risks of delivering poor customer service are reduced, and managers are indoctrinated into the mindset of not only listening to but also understanding their customers.

Hack 6: Take Good Care of Your Customers
Regarding taking care of customers, I'm not only talking about responsiveness and 24/7 availability but also about providing the best purchase experience. So what did folks at Amazon do to deliver a great purchase experience? They implemented the innovative "One Click" solution that enables an incredibly fast purchase.

Amazon realizes that the idea of storing customers’ data to save time when making another purchase isn’t the best option for all of their customers. They understand that some of their customers prefer a traditional shopping basket purchase, particularly when it comes to multiple-item purchases. Accordingly, they’ve continued nurturing both shopping options, letting customers choose the shopping approaching they’re more comfortable with.

Hack 7: Use Abandonment to Your Advantage
Cart abandonment is a common issue that keeps e-commerce retailers preoccupied. Amazon takes a different approach; knowing that an abandoned purchase doesn’t always mean that customers don’t need a certain product anymore, Amazon has developed a well-planned system of subtle email reminders for each abandoned purchase. They help customers get back to the site in case they just got distracted during the process and still need to make the purchase. This way, Amazon gets the most out of "sales in process," which is a great way of improving business results.

Accordingly, if you want your customers to finish a purchase, make sure to get in touch with them and check if they need any help. You may be surprised by the number of customers willing to buy something even after they’ve abandoned your site.

How to Create a Business Strategy Inspired by Amazon
As you can see from these hacks, Amazon has developed a business model that clearly focuses on customers and the customer experience. To create a business environment where your customers will feel comfortable and appreciated, you must:
  • keep your employees motivated to provide better results and make a stronger connection with your customers;
  • stop thinking about your competition’s next move and start providing superior service by actively listening to your customers’ needs and demands; and
  • provide high-quality support based on the use of live chat customer support, a well-structured help center, and a community of/for your customers.
Finally, deliver a personalized and proactive experience; for example, find ways to address the customers who abandon the purchase process before they buy a product. Not only will they appreciate your willingness to help them out if they get confused during the purchase, but they’ll also become aware that you pay attention to their needs, which can only make them more satisfied and loyal.

Jason Grills is a Sr. Technical Writer with ProProfs. He enjoys writing about emerging customer support products, trends in the customer support industry, and the financial impact of using such tools. In his spare time, Jason likes traveling extensively to learn about new cultures and traditions.
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