What Is the Secret Sauce of Great Customer Experience?

Hansen Lieu

customer experience

As is the norm these days, I hit when my family needs something. In fact, we would use Amazon even when we just want to “window shop”! The other day, my wife saw a pair of sandals she liked. However, she wasn’t sure she wanted them, but she ordered them anyway. The sandals arrived two days later. She tried them out and decided she didn’t like the way they felt on her feet. So, I went back to Amazon (as she ordered them with my account) and submitted a return request. Within two minutes, I got the Return Authorization form and the shipping form to be used to ship the sandals back. I dropped them off at the local UPS store the next day. Within a few hours, I received a notification from Amazon that they have credited the full amount to my credit card. It was an easy and painless customer experience and Amazon nailed it. So even though we didn’t buy the sandals this time, you bet we will buy something else the next day or next week. Amazon really knows me as a customer and has designed the process around my needs. But how?

How do you deliver great customer experience? It is a consensus that to succeed in today’s customer-empowered environment, delivering exceptional customer experience is a must. But I believe the answer lies with the well-known strategy called Customer Centricity. At the end of the day, a great customer experience, particularly for customer service, means giving the customer what they need – or even what they didn’t know they needed.

A lot has been written about Customer Centricity (see J. Galbraith), putting the customer in the center of everything that you do, etc. so I won’t get into the definitions of Customer Centricity. Generally, taking this approach begins with knowing your customers. Then, you design your customer service processes around meeting or exceeding the needs of your customers. Seems pretty basic, right? But many organizations still haven’t gotten it right. There are many reasons, but knowing your customers should not be one of them.

Obviously, customers come in many different shapes and sizes, depending on the industry you’re in and the type of service you provide. But for those in the business of servicing consumers, it’s pretty simple to get to know them. Start with your own personal needs and then refine from there. Let’s take an example in the cable/internet service provider.

As a customer of a cable and Internet service, if you encounter a problem and need help, what do you do? Most likely, you would reach for the phone because you may not have any Internet connectivity. And when you call, you will expect that the number will connect you to someone who can help you. You will also expect that when you call you won’t have to wait for more than a few minutes after you’ve given your pertinent information. You may also expect the service rep on the other end of the line to know the specifics of your cable setup and to be able to intelligently help you diagnose your problem.

You would also expect the cable company to have experts available to solve more complicated problems. Now, if the problem can’t be resolved remotely, and someone has to come by and take a look, you would expect the agent to tell you specifically what time and what day – and not ask that you be available the entire day on Monday. And if the appointment needs to be changed, you would expect that it is well in advance and not 30 minute before the appointment. And when the technician shows up, you would expect him to know what’s been communicated previously on the phone and what tests and diagnostics were performed so you don’t need to start all over again.

With these understandings as guidance, this is how you would design the customer service for the cable provider to minimize what is called “customer effort”. Obviously, contact center could still be your primary channel of service. You may and should supplement it with other channels such as Web, email, and social media – to empower customer interactions through every channel and touch point. Then, you would need to staff your contact center adequately, especially during non-business hours, to meet the expected demand (in fact, your “prime hours” maybe the opposite of the standard business hours). These service agents must also be empowered with training and relevant customer information to solve majority of the problems on the first call. And you must have tools that enable your organization to offer small service window and meet these commitments 95% (pick a target achieved by best-in-class organization) of the time. With these as foundation, you can then continue to refine your customer service processes and structure as you get customer feedback and better understanding of your customers.

Of course, this is a very simple example of customer service designed with a customer centric approach. However, it is not that far from reality. And with abundance of customer information, social data, and trend data out there (frequently called “Big Data”) organizations can really get to know their customers very well. Then, it is just a matter of applying your understanding to serving your customers better than ever before.

I truly believe if you start with a customer centric design and process approach – knowing your customers and catering to their needs – you will ultimately deliver the type of customer experience that your customers will be talking about to their friends, colleagues, and social circles.






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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.


About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

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Do You Hear The Voice Of Your Customer?

Maria Morais

Try to find a company where customers bring something else other than cash, credit, or points in loyalty cards. You won’t find much. – John S. McKean

While most companies seem to have a good grasp of what “voice of the customer” means and its importance, there seems to be a big challenge around the cultural shift that the voice-of-the-customer strategy requires in order to be truly effective.

The main reason why companies don’t implement a customer-centric strategy is because they assume that they are in charge.

  • Companies give promotions to their customers;
  • Companies produce products that customers really want;
  • Companies collaborate with their customers in social channels;
  • Companies “target,” “acquire,” “manage,” and “retain” customers as if they were not able to manage their own wills.

The thinking behind all this mentality dismisses customers’ individual differences and customers’ real ability to contribute.

Many of us expected the balance of power between companies and customers to shift with omni-channel retail, but in fact companies are less involved with their customers thanks to big data, analytics, business intelligence, and programmatic marketing.

Collaboration doesn’t mean engagement

If the company is in charge, by creating methods of engagement, predicting behavior, and controlling the customer experience, the customer is not more than a number that belongs to a group of other similar “variables.” How can you really hear the voice of your customer with all this noise around you?

Improving technology to satisfy companies is not a substitute for direct knowledge voluntarily given by customers. Over the coming years customers will be emancipated from systems that were built to control them, and customer relationship management (CRM) will finally die as a software category.

Looking beyond CRM

Information mining is a key phase in any voice-of-the-customer strategy, and ethnographic methods have been proven to be the most efficient for customer-centric innovation rather than the usual quantitative methodologies. Companies need systems that aggregate raw data from all touch points affecting decision making in real time. This type of initiative typically has a significant upfront investment before measurable benefits can be realized, but even knowing that digital transformation is moving much more rapidly in some industries than in others, no one can afford to wait much longer.

Companies that invest in their customers now are the ones that will see the biggest profits in the future. The voice of the customer is rapidly evolving along with anything connected via the Web, and customers will completely stop sharing their voice with companies that simply follow legacy approaches and are obsessed with statistical inferences.

It’s time to change; it’s time to inspire your customers

Take our e-commerce self-assessment to see how you can deliver the omni-channel experience.

Learn how Technopolis is delivering a superb omni-channel shopping experience to its customers.

Find out more about the omni-channel customer experience in the SAP eBook Digital Disruption: How Digital Technology is Changing Our World.


About Maria Morais

Maria Morais is Customer Engagement and Commerce Retail Lead at IBM GBS. You can follow Maria Morais on Twitter @ceumorais.

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