Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Liliana Petrov of DoingCXRight that is based on her experience hiring CX teams. This post originally appeared on her site on November 21, 2018.
Although customer experience has been around for a long time, hiring for CX has become a greater priority for executives and funding committees only in the last five years. With that shift comes the rise of the CX Team in the organizational structures of banks, insurance companies, consumer brands, and B-to-B entities.
How to Build a CX Team Within the CX Team, the Customer Experience Director (or Customer Insights Director) leads the charge. Let’s say this is your role in your organization. Typically, you are the company’s first CX hire, tasked with building a team from scratch. Likely, in that first year you have to assemble your CX Team, you have limited funding until you prove the value of investing more in customer experience efforts.
The pressure to demonstrate business impact and ROI quickly makes your first hire even more important. As usual, there is no answer that fits all scenarios perfectly. We have some helpful strategies to consider based on the structure of your organization and your goals.
Hiring without a Customer Insights Team in Place The CX cycle begins and ends with customer insights (the Voice of the Customer program). With no customer insights team in place, it is hard to know where to begin. If that team does not exist, your first order of business is to set it up. If you only have funding for one hire, hire a customer insights expert to learn what is not working well for your customers and what measures you need to take to improve the customer journeys.
Hire a manager-level professional with a strong analytical background who is not afraid of doing the grunt work in the beginning. You will need strong insights to convince your leadership of the need for investment in CX.
Hiring with a Customer Insights Team in Place Once you know the parts of the customer experience that need to be addressed, you can hire an operations person – preferably an internal hire. An operations person on your CX Team helps you learn why your organization is not able to deliver great customer experience. An operations person is also invaluable for change management.
This CX Team member knows how to “sell” the changes in procedures and processes to the frontline. He/she is also invaluable with testing and trialing new solutions in the field. I promise you this hire is not going to be afraid to stand in front of customers and try new ways of doing things. That’s the kind of power you want to bring to drive the customer experience changes in your business.
Hiring with Customer Insights and Operations Expertise in Place on Your CX Team Once you have the two foundational pieces of customer experience – the insights and the frontline know-how – you can hire a Project Manager or a Program Manager. The size of your portfolio will determine whether you should hire a project manager or a program manager.
If you have scoped one or two projects and have sufficient funding for them, it may be better to start with a Project Manager. If you have a bigger mandate and a higher level of responsibilities, hire a Program Manager for your CX Team. You will need this person to run the funding and reporting of your efforts smoothly. He/she will also hold different parts of the organization accountable for their pieces of your CX projects.
Hiring When You Have All of the Above on Your CX Team The next two recommendations may surprise you, but they are critical to a successful CX Team: a dedicated brand manager and a finance person. If you have the basic CX hiring in place, and you have significant budget and responsibilities, you need to start doing some internal and external PR. You also need to maintain your credibility with finance in order to secure future funding. To achieve these goals, you need to add a dedicated brand designer and a finance person to your team.
These two positions on the CX Team are the hardest to sell to senior leadership because they technically exist somewhere else in the organization. The key here is to show why these professionals need to be dedicated to your Customer Experience program. For your CX Team to succeed, you have a lot of creative to do. If you are a change agent for the brand you are servicing (as you should be), you have to tell stories to your internal stakeholders through internal PR as well as to external stakeholders and the media.
Your success depends on a brand designer and finance expert more than you may anticipate. When I did not have a finance pro on my CX Team, I ended up doing the finance role at night, since I had that skillset from my previous life. That, of course, is not ideal.
Hiring members of the CX Team requires you to take a long view of customer experience design, execution, and goals. Internal and external hiring for CX forces you to look at the short and long-term goals of your CX strategies, how to implement them for your customers, and how to communicate them to the C-Suite.
As a result, CX hiring is another good exercise in doing CX right for your customers and for your brand.
Liliana Petrova, CCXP is a visionary and a proven leader in the field of customer experience and innovation. She is an inspirational leader who pioneered a new customer-centric culture, energizing the more than 15,000 JetBlue employees with her vision. She has been recognized for her JFK Lobby redesign and facial recognition program with awards from Future Travel Experience and Popular Science. Ms. Petrova is co-founder of DoingCXRight, a resource for customer experience professionals across industries. She is committed to creating seamless, successful experiences for customers and delivering greater value for brands.
I still love to hold and read physical books (as opposed to audible, Kindle, etc.). I don't know how many books I added to my library this year, but it was a lot. I thought I'd share some good ones that I'd recommend you add to your reading list for 2019.
These books are not customer experience books per se - but the outcomes of implementing what you learn in them will certainly lead to better experiences for employees and for customers. Let's dive in.
I read the first two books on cross-country travel last week, with time to spare for chatting with my seatmates. (In other words, quick reads but packed full of good stuff.)
The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni Similar to Patrick Lencioni's other books, this one is also a fable. In this book, Patrick writes about the three root causes of job misery, which can be summed up as immeasurement, irrelevance, and anonymity. In a nutshell, measure what matters, understand who your work impacts and how you impact them, and take a real interest in co-workers. The story takes you through several examples of how one CEO, who loves to lead and to manage, uncovered these three root causes and how he put them into practice at a couple different companies in different industries. A Journey Into the Heroic Environment by Rob Lebow I read the original edition of this book, which was written in 1997. I believe the latest edition was updated in 2004. Here's a great quote from Rob Lebow: Imagine a place where everyone puts the interests of others before their own. Where everyone tells the truth and where trust and mentoring abound. That place is called a Heroic Environment®. This book is also written as an engaging fable that leaves you not wanting to put the book down until you understand the difference between Business Values and People Values, learn what a Heroic Environment is, read about the four corporate personality traits, and more. Rob created a Shared Values Process/Operating System, which is a training and culture change tool. This book outlines the foundation for his "people operating system."
Crave: You Can Enhance Employee Motivation in 10 Minutes by Friday by Gregg Lederman This is Gregg Lederman's third book. In 2012, I wrote about his first book, Brand Integrity, and in 2013, I wrote about his second, Engaged!. His latest book, Crave, delves into the three things that humans crave at work that, when attained, make them happier and more productive: respect, purpose, and relationships. Interestingly enough, this book is based on 80 years worth of research Gregg dug up that overwhelmingly supports these three motivators. Gregg writes about how you can motivate employees in "10 minutes by FridayTM" and provides clear guidelines, plus supplemental worksheets, on how to develop this weekly habit.
Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Bob Chapman If you've been a follower of my blog for a while, you know that I first started writing about Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, and his leadership approach, i.e., Truly Human Leadership, back in 2012, and have written about him several times since. This book chronicles Bob's history with Barry-Wehmiller and, more importantly, his own epiphany about leadership, i.e., that leaders have an awesome responsibility over their employees and must treat people like people. In his own words: Everybody Matters is about what happens when ordinary people throw away long-accepted management practices and start operating from their deepest sense of right, with a sense of profound responsibility for the lives entrusted to them. In a truly human organization, the worth of every individual is validated; people are allowed to be who they were meant to be; and there's a common purpose that creates value. As a result, employees go home to their families every night feeling good about themselves and have a more meaningful life.
The Transformational Power of Executive Team Alignment by Miles Kierson There are a lot of factors that contribute to a leadership team's success, but none as important as team alignment. One of my favorite quotes from the book is: Calling most executive groups teams would be a stretch of imagination since by definition a team is a group of people who are working on some common end together. Ouch. As you probably already know, executive team alignment is critical to the success of any transformation or strategic implementation. Miles defines alignment as a relationship to decisions whereby you own them completely. It is also a commitment to have a decision work. And it's a choice. Each individual on the executive team must choose to be aligned. It's a fascinating read, and you'll learn how to become an aligned team and how to sustain that alignment.
Share some of your must-reads for 2019 in the comments below.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. -Mortimer J. Adler
Let's put the "customer" into customer experience.
What does that mean?
If you’re a customer of any business on this planet, no surprise here, you know this: most companies are not really focusing on the customer and the customer experience. They might be giving it lip service, but that’s not the same as actually doing the work, understanding the customer, and designing a great customer experience as a result.
What is customer understanding? And how can you achieve it?
Customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer-centricity.
What is customer-centricity? Exactly what the word says: ensuring that the customer is at the center of a business's philosophy, operations, decisions, or ideas.
This is the main topic that Shep Hyken and I discussed recently on my second time on his Amazing Business Radio podcast. I was thrilled to be back on the show to talk about something that is top of mind for me every day: putting the "customer" into customer experience.
In order to ensure businesses are putting the "customer" into customer experience, they must first understand customers' needs, expectations, the jobs they're trying to do, and their desired outcomes. And then use that information to design a better experience. You can't fake it. You just can't
In recent research conducted by Capgemini, they discovered that 75% of companies believe they are customer-centric, while only 30% of consumers agreed. Yikes.
I've written several times that there are really three ways to achieve that understanding: listen, characterize, and empathize. Shep and I talked about these three approaches in our conversation, and as we talked about journey mapping and walking in customers' shoes, we also got to expose Shep's humorous side, as he cited the Jack Handey quote: Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them, and you have their shoes. LOL.
I'd be honored if you'd take 30 minutes to listen to our conversation. I promise it won't feel like 30 minutes! The conversation is fast-moving and fun, yet packed with a ton of information that you need to consider in order to put the customer into the customer experience. Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced. - John Keats
...mapping tools had to evolve because people failed to see the value in mapping with the then-current approaches; in addition, maps were not proving to be that catalyst for change that they are designed to be. In order to be that catalyst, maps have to be actionable. And the only way they can be actionable is if you have some data to support or to drive that action. Executives love data and metrics, right? Data-driven decisions are all the rage, and rightly so.
What kind of data? There's no shortage of data, right?! Obviously, the data needs to be related to the journey you're mapping, but here are some examples of the types of data you can add to the map.
Voice of the customer/customer listening data, including reviews, ratings, diagnostics, and verbatims
Emotion data, especially from qualitative sources, e.g., text and voice analytics, sentiment analysis
Persona data: incorporate what you learned about the persona for which you've mapped that might help you improve the overall experience
CX metrics, including NPS, customer satisfaction, customer effort score
Other customer data, including interaction, transaction, customer lifetime value, reason for call, number visits to site, where they went on the site, etc.
Operational/call center metrics, including agent performance, call volume, first call resolution, hold time, time to resolve, # transfers, channels used
Business data: for a lack of a better way to label it, this data is all about the business impact, which will then be used to prioritize moments of truth; it’s revenue, profitability, retention, cost to fix, time to fix, effort to fix, impact to fix type of data.
Artifacts, including call recordings, videos, invoices, receipts, pictures, documents, screenshots, etc.
Clearly, if you've started mapping with butcher paper and sticky notes, which I highly recommend, you'll need to digitize your maps and have them in a journey mapping or journey analytics platform that supports integrating various data sources into the map.
There are a lot of reasons to bring data into your maps. Data is a critical ingredient for improving the customer experience. It helps us to understand our customers, make better decisions, and deliver the experience they expect.
Other than bringing the maps to life, why incorporate data in your maps? Data helps or allows you to...
Measure the journey (each of the steps and the overall journey)
More deeply analyze the experience and facilitates understanding
Identify and clarify high points and pain points in the experience – what’s going well and what’s not
Understand where channel optimization needs to occur
Bring additional customer perspectives and behaviors (outside of those in the room) into the map, shifting the map and the process from one that's been fairly qualitative to more of a quantitative effort
Shift the perspective from inside-out to the outside-in by adding another component (data) to put the experience in the customer voice
Make the maps actionable
Add validity and credibility (because there are multiple data sources or feedback channels and because it's now quantitative rather than qualitative)
Identify key moments of truth
These last two points are important ones to make: the maps themselves don’t identify or prioritize moments of truth. You must use feedback, data, and metrics to do that.
The world is now awash in data, and we can see consumers in a lot clearer ways. -Max Levchin, PayPal co-founder
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Chris Ryba of VHT.
To compete in today’s market, companies have to go beyond providing excellent customer service. Today, we work in an experience economy, where people are looking for a memorable business interaction, not just a successful one.
Companies like Apple have dominated the experience economy by making everything from the website to stores to packaging an Instagram-worthy event. Fortunately, you don’t have to be Apple to stand out in your industry; even small changes in the contact center can shift your service from forgettable to remarkable.
1. Build a Friendship We all love to spend time with our social circles. In the contact center, you can give customers the pleasure of chatting with friends by treating them as friends.
Know your customer. You expect friends to remember important information about you. And while individual agents won’t remember each caller, most contact centers have good CRM data. Use that information to call people by the names they prefer, use their favorite modes of communication and pick up seamlessly from the last conversation.
Accept responsibility. A real friend who makes a mistake accepts responsibility and apologizes. According to a study by the W.P. Carey School of Business, call satisfaction jumped from 37% to 73% when complaining customers were treated with dignity, got an explanation of what went wrong, and received an apology. Show customers you appreciate them. We like to be with people who recognize our value. But 49% of customers who switch companies do so because they feel unappreciated. When people call in, acknowledge their effort and willingness to work with you. For example, agents can open with, “I see you’ve been with us for X years. Thank you!” They can also thank customers for their patience, positivity, and time.
2. Make it Easy People love seeing a complex process operate smoothly. Consider the satisfaction of placing an online order with one click and having it delivered next day. When businesses boil difficult tasks down to one or two steps, it feels like magic.
Respect customers’ time. Most people want to fix a problem or make a purchase and then get on with their lives. Respect their time by scheduling callbacks when queues are long or offering live chats from the website. And never ask a second time for information collected through the phone system or online. Save them a step. Save people work, and they’ll want to keep buying from you. For example, use a dynamic interactive voice response (IVR) system to create personalized menus based on caller needs. After complaint resolution or technical support, take the initiative and call back to ensure everything is OK.
3. Have Some Fun Surprise customers with a little humor, where appropriate. Or if jokes hit the wrong tone, mix in some inspiration, fascination, or curiosity.
Add whimsy. Many websites, like Forbes and Google, use wit or diversions to amuse viewers. Contact centers can do the same by sharing intriguing company history, inspiring stories, or interviews for people on hold.
Avoid clichés. The more a contact center clings to tired norms, the more forgettable the experience. Remove any clichéd phrases such as “your call is very important to us” or “you can also visit our website.” Switch to FAQs and knowledge bases rather than strict agent scripts, so conversations feel more sincere. Upgrade the audio. Wooden phone prompts and tinny music make wait time crawl. Have voice prompts professionally recorded and upgrade text-to-speech. Also, consider giving the phone voice an appealing personality. People get a kick out of talking with characters like Alexa and Siri.
Collaborate. Let agents work together on finding clever ways to upgrade CX. Employees can try out new ideas and help direct company-wide initiatives with first-hand knowledge. Hire smarter. The right people can make or break the service experience. Consider long-tenured agents that customers love. Identify their key personality traits and look for similar job applicants. Let some of those experienced agents interview new folks; they’ll have a good sense of whether someone is right for the job. Engage agents. Engaged employees are more relaxed, happy, and proud of what they do, and they share that attitude with callers. It’s important to recognize and appreciate agents as much as customers. A recent McKinsey study also found that giving new representatives more support in early days and providing the team with opportunities to socialize improved engagement and retention.
According to a Walker study, 86% of consumers will pay more for a memorable interaction, and by 2020, experience will outweigh price and product as the key brand differentiator. If your contact center already treats customers well, it takes just a little effort and some imagination to go from ho-hum to unforgettable.
Chris Ryba, PMP, is the Director of Professional Services at VHT. As a seasoned technology professional with over 20 years experience in the IT/Telecom industry, Ryba has been actively involved in formulating processes, procedures, and guidelines intended to streamline project lifecycles from post-sale integration kickoff through production deployment.
Focusing on employees and making sure they have a great experience is something that I've been talking to clients and prospects about for the last 26 years. It's nice to see that this topic is finally starting to get a bit more attention.
The gist really is that these are fundamental or foundational elements that must be in place to ensure a successful customer experience transformation. You can't transform the experience if these commandments aren't adhered to and the sins aren't committed. Among the basics: executive commitment, listening to and understanding your customers, doing something with what you learn, putting employees first, and more. On this podcast, we do talk about how to get executives bought in and committed to the work that lies ahead.
From there, we talked a bit about today's typical culture pyramid, where revenue and profits are put before employees and customers - actually, customers then employees, in that order. Sadly. We then talked about what a people-focused culture pyramid looks like, and summed it up as: focus on the people, and the numbers will come. (I'll share my post on these two culture pyramids here soon, but if you haven't seen what these two pyramids look like, you can learn more here.)
We also talked about
my five-step approach to working with clients on their CX transformations;
I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified. Not of our competition, but of our customers. Our customers have made our business what it is, they are the ones with whom we have a relationship, and they are the ones to whom we owe a great obligation. And we consider them to be loyal to us — right up until the second that someone else offers them a better service. -Jeff Bezos
Creating a memorable customer experience (CX) is not every brand’s cup of tea. Only a few brands ensure great customer experience throughout the customer journey. Of the many ways in which you can enhance the customer service experience, self-service is one of the least-explored options.
What is self-service? As the name suggests, self-service is a form of customer support where customers help themselves find answers and solutions to problems with your product or service. There are different ways in which you can provide self-service as a form of support to your customers.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Online forums and communities
Interactive voice response (IVR)
And of all these self-service options available, knowledge base is the most-preferred choice of self-service. In fact, millennials prefer using a self-service portal to talking to a support agent.
What is a knowledge base? A knowledge base is a repository of information on the various aspects of an organization from its company policy to how-to solutions for its product and services.
In other words, it can be called an online library where your customers can find answers to questions that don’t require human support.
In this article, I’ll discuss five different ways in which you can enhance customer experience using a knowledge base.
1. Round the Clock Accessibility Complete reliance on customer support agents without any alternatives can make way for a negative experience when things go wrong. Because it's quite a task to deploy agents round the clock, especially during the holiday season and when your customers belong to different time zones. During these times, a knowledge base can be of great help when the customer is unable to contact your support team. They can get an instant solution from your knowledge base without having to wait for your support agents.
Being accessible in some way or the other is important for creating a good customer experience. Hence, make sure that your customers are able to find your knowledge base easily.
Include the knowledge base as part of your Support page
Add a Support button on top of your website
2. Creating Customer-Friendly Content Customers these days prefer using a knowledge base to talking to a support agent. However, it’s not just enough to set up a knowledge base; it is also essential that the knowledge base content is user-friendly. Your customers should be able to find the solution in a single search. This leads to quicker resolution, in turn, providing a great customer experience.
A smart way to do this is to prepare a list of questions for making your knowledge base content-rich. Add solutions that are easily comprehensible to your customers. But, which questions? How do you decide?
Ask your support agents for questions that are asked by many customers or go through your support tickets for the same.
Take a look at your customer feedback and their online reviews.
Ask your customers for suggestions.
3. Timely Solutions While complex issues take time to get resolved, customers don’t want to wait in a queue to talk to a support agent for simple issues. Product-related questions like how-tos or setting up an account can be resolved with the help of an optimized knowledge base. Implement your knowledge base in such a way that your customers can find solutions quickly.
Order the FAQs based on the number of customer searches.
Include a search bar.
Use explainer videos and screenshots to make the solutions easily comprehensible.
4. Repetitive Issues When it comes to handling customer conversations, the support agents are required to resolve issues quickly while also providing a pleasant customer experience. But that can be quite difficult, as a significant portion of an agent’s day is spent handling repetitive issues. This lessens their focus on the complex ones, thus missing out on creating a good customer experience.
In such situations, developing a knowledge base with solutions to those repetitive issues is the best way to quickly answer customers' questions without direct assistance from agents. This reduces the ticket volume and allows the support agents to pay more attention to top-priority, more-difficult issues. As a result, every support agent will be able to resolve their issues better and provide a great customer experience.
5. Training Your Chatbot If there is a smarter version to a knowledge base, it’s none other than an AI-powered chatbot. Though many companies have started adopting the chatbot technology, not every chatbot does conflict resolution effectively. The reality is that many customers end up having a bad experience with chatbots.
In order for the chatbot to be intuitive, it needs to get trained, and a vast amount of data and information needs to be fed to the bot. This is because everyone ask questions in their own terms, and the chatbot must recognize and understand these nuances accurately. Here’s where an up-to-date knowledge base can prove to be a rich source of information. When your chatbot gets trained based on the information in your knowledge base, it is more likely to give relevant solutions to your customers. Though there’s more to creating a customer-friendly chatbot, your knowledge base will play a major role in training your chatbot and, in turn, providing great customer experience.
Conclusion Among the many ways to improve a brand’s customer experience, self-service has rarely been utilized to its full potential. Even the brands that are ready to experiment with chatbots don’t sweat much on improving their knowledge base. But, with customers considering the support team as their last resort, it is imperative that brands offer the option to customers to help themselves. After all, who wouldn’t fancy a knowledge base software that provides the right solution in a single search?
The customer experience profession has a lot of buzzwords; or does it?
I was recently given access to a report by the team at Customer Management Practice, organizers of the popular CCW (Customer Contact Week) events. The report is titled "Navigating Industry Buzzwords" and contains a compilation of thoughts by the nine members of the CCW Advisory Board on those so-called buzzwords.
For this report, the advisors were asked to identify three words that resonate with their organizations and to dispel the buzzwords myth by getting to the core of why these words (listed below) are the real deal.
Voice of customer
Let's start with a definition of "buzzword." According to dictionary.com, it is a word or phrase, often sounding authoritative or technical, that is a vogue term in a particular profession, field of study, popular culture, etc.
Given that definition, honestly, none of those words are "in vogue" terms; they're all an important part of what we do, part of our (customer experience professionals') daily language. I feel like calling them buzzwords gives a negative connotation or refers to a fly-by-night term that will be gone next week.
Where I see the problem with these words is how they're defined and how they're used. For example, I heard recently that someone thought "customer journey" was the hot new word for "customer experience," which is now passe. OK, please don't buy into that. Let's stop renaming things - customer experience is customer experience - and focus more on understanding and executing.
On that note, let's take a look at how the Advisory Board members define and use the three terms they picked.
Wendy Liu is VP, Customer Care and Executive Care Response Liaison at Comcast. Her three terms are transformation, journey, and culture.
Transformation: Taking the best of what we know about ourselves, examine closely where we have challenges, and enlist our team members in making the change together.
Journey: A view and practice that treats our team members and customer interactions not as single transactions or destinations but as an experience with well-defined maps and thoughtful guides to help our teams and customers navigate and discover.
Culture: What we stand for, our common purpose and how we have a shared consciousness in how we fulfill the common purpose
Brad Nichols, Global Customer Service Leader for Dun & Bradstreet, defined his three favorite terms as follows.
Metrics: The barometer of successful performance
Culture: The way ‘things are done’ around here. What gets rewarded, punished, and how to behave to get ahead.
Voice of Customer: The direct words, feedback and input of those we serve or want to serve
And when Shep Hyken was asked what his three favorite terms meant for his organization, he answered as follows.
Experience: We are all about creating an “amazing” experience for our customers (and for our employees).
Metrics: You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Culture: Without the right culture in place, we won’t deliver the experience we want our customers to have. To be the best place to do business with, we have to be a great place to do business with. What’s happening on the inside is felt on the outside by the customer.
Be sure to check out the report to find out how the other six Advisory Board members chose and defined their "buzzwords." And then join me in Nashville from January 15-18, 2019, for CCW Nashville, when Jenn Lim, CEO & Chief Happiness Officer, Delivering Happiness, keynotes the event, and amazing speakers from Postmates, Subway, HBO, and Toll Brothers, just to name a few, speak on the same stage.
IABC Gold Quill entry: Our challenge was to design and implement a multi-faceted customer experience initiative supported by a change-management strategy. Judge’s comment: Someone graduated with honors from buzzword college. -International Association of Business Communications Gold Quill awards