Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Improving Customer Service Phone Skills

Here's an interesting post on the FuelNet blogs that details six tips for improving telephone conversations with customer service agents. After all, every phone call is important, so knowing how to provide good customer service is crucial. Here are the tips:

1. Improve your posture.

2. Give a confident welcome.

3. Ask for the customer’s name, and use it.

4. Give a positive, definite first response.

5. Listen and use verbal “nods.”

6. Offer a customer-friendly solution or explanation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

USAToday: Social media like Twitter change customer service

By now you've heard of companies in the United States harnessing the power of Twitter to fully connect with their customers. USAToday has a fascinating breakdown of the companies and what has and hasn't worked with Twitter and customer service.

Is your company utilizing Twitter? What do you think you've learned from your customers? We'd like to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heart Based Service Expo

I just finished doing my seminar on the Heart Based Service Expo. What fun - my heart felt thanks to Lori and Raleigh for inviting me to take part in this extraordinary event.
If you missed it and you want to listen in do this:
Download your handout at and then go to to find my seminar (in the next 48 hours) and to sign up for the others! 20 Experts 5 days - spectacular info, great fun!

All the best, JoAnna

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Best customer service according to shoppers

The National Retail Federation spoke with 8,000 shoppers and asked which stores they believed had the best customer service. The Top Ten listed were:, Coldwater Creek, HSN, J.C. Penney, Kohl's department stores, Lands End, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom,, QVC and Zappos. A number of these recently spoke at the NACCM: Customers 1st Conference. Click to read more about Zappos' customer service and HSN's customer experience. The winner will be released on January 12. Read more here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Treat your Customers Right this Holiday Season

Here's five tips from the EConsultancy blog for holiday retailers on treating your customers right during this holiday season. Enjoy!

1. Pay attention to price - Pay close attention to competing prices as customers will bargain hunt during this recession.
2. Customer Service: bring your A-game - If customers feel left behind, chances are they will shop elsewhere.
3. Reach out and reward existing customers - Customer engagement is crucial and that is even more so during the holiday season. Be relevant in your communications and reward.
4. Don't be afraid to start early - Start sales early this year.
5. ...or save yourself for later - Stores that stock up on in-demand products during the end of the season coup reap the benefits.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

5 Ways to Flub Customer Service

Samuel Greengard of CIO Insight lists ways that even the biggest companies can flub customer service. He writes, customers are rarely satisfied with the service businesses provide. Understanding those complaints, as well as the processes and technologies associated with customer service, can help CIOs and their teams avoid these customer-care blunders.

1. Outsourcing without understanding all the implications
2. Relying on incomplete metrics.
3. Underutilizing analytics.
4. Taking your existing customers for granted.
5. Trying to be everything to everybody.

What do you think of Greengard's list? Any that you'd like to add?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dead from Distraction?

Like many of the attendees at the NACCM Customers First conference last week I was excited to see Michael Tchong ( as one of our closing keynotes. Michael (besides being ubercool is uber informative and engaging in his presentations. He playfully engaged the audience and kept us involved in his thoroughly well done peek at the future of our world – which is without a doubt a digital one.

Michael asked this audience of professionals (not teenagers, mind you, grown-ups) how many people texted while driving. I’d say about 20%- 30% of the audience raised their hands. I looked around the room and saw people I knew with their hands in the air. I must say I was a bit taken back, after all we all know the dangers, yes?

Read the rest of this important story HERE :

You'll be shocked - and it's my intention to shock you. Let's wake ourselves up - the digital future will only be ours if we are alive to enjoy it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cutting off the customer

The Wall Street Journal has an article that looks at how some companies are cutting off the customer that's costing the company more money than profit. Last year, many companies would work with their customers, offer them discounts or work with them on payment options. This year, however, many smaller companies are finding that by cutting off customers who don't pay actually increases their profit, as they have more time to spend with those customers who are making their payments.

Do you agree with this? Have you had to break relations with some of your needy customers in order to create a better supplier for your revenue-generating customers? How do you feel about this approach to business from a customer service perspective?

Friday, November 6, 2009

NACCM 2009: An interview with Allegiance, Inc.

Guest blogger Norma Huibregtse spoke with Jason Tripp, Sales Manager with Allegiance, Inc, while at NACCM 2009 to find out about their offerings and their views on the customer service industry.

NACCM 2009: Do you outsource your social media work?

Guest Blogger Norma Huibregtse talked to Becky Carroll after her presentation about outsourcing your social media, how you should bring personality in to your social media when using it for customer service, where it's going in the future, and more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NACCM 2009: In Photos

Day Two was a great experience. We spent most of the day looking at the kind of service we provide through our customers eyes.

Here is the day in photos:

We Can Change the World

While the "official" bloggers for Customers First show have written about ever speaker at the show, this somewhat newbie show blogger is still digesting the amazing amount of info and writing slowly. (That's why I didn't volunteer to be "official". I suspected it might take me a little longer.)

I've enjoyed the show tremendously and tonight I am enjoying the company of a friend here in Phoenix, and will continue with my blogging thoughts tomorrow.
Meantime - I just loved Emily Yellin's session this morning and have my comments on that session posted over at my place :

Enjoy - and then get out and change the world

NACCM 2009: Make Customer Strategy a Reality: Moving from Vision to Execution – Implementing Your Customer Strategy with Speed

As we end the North American Conference on Customer Management 2009, consider how we take the “what” we learned and turn it into a strategic “how”. This thought was posed by Tom Atkinson, Director of Customer Research for the Forum Corporation.

Atkinson talked about developing “strategic speed” because of the impact it has on sustaining our businesses. The 1980’s and 1990’s were about first-generation speed. It’s now time for second-generation speed which is about mindset and mobilizing people.

Strategic speed means delivering value to customers faster. The key to strategic speed is how your organization’s leaders think and act. They don’t aim for speed per se, but rather for increases in three people factors:

1) Clarity – shared understanding of the situation and the direction you are heading. Employees should be able to answer the question “where are we going and why?”

2) Unity – collaboration across departments, geographic boundaries, etc, is the main driver of unity in business. A culture of collaboration helps projects and strategies hold together.

3) Agility – Encouraging people to find ways to meet strategic objectives in a constantly changing environment rather than sticking to a rigid plan. Companies which can quickly resolve customer issues win.

Atkinson stressed that strategic speed requires leadership and that leaders need 4 key abilities to succeed:

1) Affirming strategies
2) Driving initiatives
3) Managing climate
4) Cultivating experience (learning and sharing by all)

He challenged the audience to think about these concepts as they return home to develop new strategies. Visit Forum’s website at to read more about this concept.

NACCM 2009: Culture in Action: Applying the Culture to Your Organization – Building a Brand that Matters

What does Oprah, ABC Nightline and 60 Minutes have in common? They all have featured the online retailer because of their customer service excellence. Maura Sullivan, Customer Loyalty Team Manager shared how leadership, under the direction of CEO Tony Hsieh, has built a solid foundation on customer and employee centricity.

Founded in 1999, has grown to a total of 1,400 employees, located in the Las Vegas headquarters and the Kentucky fulfillment center. They have over 10 million customers and on any given day, about 75% of purchases are from returning customers. Sales have grown from $1.6 million in 2001 to $1,014 million in 2008. has focused their efforts on what the customer sees, what the customer experiences, and what the company does internally to help employees meet customer needs. The customer sees several value propositions on the website which include 24/7 customer service, 800 number on every page, free shipping, free return shipping, and a 365-day return policy. Returns average 35%, high for industry norms, but they factored that into their business model says Sullivan.

What the customer experiences is fast and accurate fulfillment, friendly above-and-beyond service, and occasional referrals to competitors for out-of-stock product. They see the value in these competitor referrals because of the “wow” factor it produces. Also, they don’t limit handle times for customer calls or have sales-based performance goals for reps. The telephone is one of their best branding devices available, says Sullivan.

Their internal policies include hiring the best front liners. Interviews are 50% based on core values and culture fit. New employees receive 5 weeks of training on corporate culture, 10 core values, customer service, and warehouse training. They even offer to pay $2,000 to trainees in their second week to quit if they don’t want to work for after all. 98% of them stay. They even have their own Culture Book where employees can post their feelings and thoughts about working for No surprise that they were rated #23 on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Sullivan shared these 7 steps for building a brand that matters:

1) Decide. Decide sooner rather than later

2) Figure out values & culture. Originally there was not a core value list. A list of 37 values was created but they chose to pare it down to a list of 10.

3) Commit to transparency. Be real and you have nothing to fear. Twitter has opened up getting to know other employees. An “Ask Anything” company newsletter allows employees to ask questions and get answers. Extranet allows vendors to check inventory levels and create purchase orders as needed. Tours and reporter visits are encouraged.

4) Vision- Chase the vision, not the money.

5) Build relationships. Be interested rather than trying to be interesting.

6) Build your team. They hire slowly and fire quickly, says Sullivan.

7) Think long-term.

Put a little Zappos in your day. You can email to get a copy of the presentation or a copy of their Culture Book (include your mailing address). To receive a tour of their Las Vegas headquarters, you can contact them at They will even pick you up at the airport!

One final quote: “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

NACCM 2009: Hello, How Can I Help You? Real-World - Feedback to Transform Your Service Delivery

The presentation began with the audience listening to heartfelt, recorded messages from Regence BlueCrossBlueShield customers. Here are a few of the comments they shared:

“So appreciative of the work everyone is doing on my behalf”
“I am so very grateful to you”
“You guys are wonderful”
“You are awesome”
“I’ve never had an insurance company like this before”

Joanne Gholtston Vice President, Customer Service and Bonnie Hass, Director, Customer Service at Regence BlueCross BlueShield shared one way they analyze customer feedback - by randomly reviewing customer service calls.

How easy do you make it for customers to do business with you? asked Gholston. Complicated phone trees, impersonal messages, and legal disclaimers can drive your customers away. In fact, Gholston and Hass have done away with the recorded-message disclaimer. This doesn’t work for all companies in all states they commented. Know your market and do what you can to keep it personal.

“Hard to hear”, “doesn’t sound happy”, “monotone voice”, and “no sympathy” were some of the comments made by the audience in reviewing a recorded employee conversation. Gholston and Hass regularly share these calls with several departments within the organization. When listening to calls, Hass believes that 95% of multiple service calls for an individual customer occur as a result of poor follow-up.

Looking at the pros and cons of customer service calls was insightful. In listening to the last call, audience members commented that the employee was “personable”, “had energy, “gave information” and “was engaged”. Isn’t this what we want from all of our customer reps? Gholston and Hass challenged the audience to go back and listen to customer service calls and find ways to add more value for their customers. Simple advice, BIG results.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Living The Brand. How Marketing can Partner with HR to Create Better Brand and Customer Experiences

Tom Nightingale’s goal is to help make marketing everyone’s best friend, every day. That makes sense because he’s the Chief Marketing Officer of Con-way, Inc., one of the largest trucking/hauling companies in the world.

But what may surprise you is that one-third of Tom’s efforts deals with helping Con-way recruit and hire the best employees and candidates. The three pillars of Con-way’s marketing efforts include:

  1. Reduce the cost to acquire and retain customers
  2. Attract and retain the best and brightest employees
  3. Position the company for growth

Tom sees the brand is a way to support these efforts. Con-way applies solid branding and marketing principles to all audiences, but works in concert with HR on employees. They actually help HR attract candidates and recruit employees by supporting with marketing and materials.

The marketing department also runs all internal communications for the company and supports learning & development, training, etc.

Tom jokes that the reason he spends so much time helping recruit and manage employee engagement is because “People are too important to leave to HR.” Because of the success of their team effort, Tom’s HR colleagues agree.

The service sector presents branding challenges that make employee engagement paramount.

  • The performance is the product and demand is perishable.
  • Because production and consumption are so intertwined, services are more difficult to evaluate because they are less standardized and intangible.
  • Services are dominated by experience qualities that can only be meaningfully evaluated after purchase and during production.
  • Services are produced and consumed simultaneously so customers get to experience the factory floor with every brand touchpoint
  • Every person who works for the company has to be a marketer

There has never been a time when marketing and HR have needed each other more.

Turnover for a trucking company is 132% per year. There is a constant demand for experienced drivers. Con-way responds by consistent branding to driver recruitment across all mediums. Integrated marketing efforts into HR have increased hires and drastically reduced the cost per hire by 57%.

Internal marketing has helped things like “marketing” Con-way’s health coach program to help increase wellness among it’s employees. 97%+ of employees in their initial test group have engaged at significant levels in the program.

These are just a few of the examples of how marketing and HR can effectively work together to help create a company full of the right people who will live the brand.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: How Travelocity uses customer information to create a Customer Service Culture

When you’re one of the largest travel agencies in the U.S., and you manage the majority of your business through the web, you’ve got an interesting set of customer service challenges.

Travelocity is a very well-know portal for purchasing travel, not just in the U.S., but around the world through, Travelocity Business, zugi, and more. All of this traffic is supported by four centers in the U.S., 3 in India, and 2 in the Philippines.

Travelocity achieves very high levels of service, even though they really never meet their customers face to face, and rarely even talk to them on the phone. How do that do that? Through Customer Championship.

Ginny Mahl is VP, Customer Care at Travelocity. Ginny shared with the NACCM Customer’s 1st conference what customer championship is and why is it important.

Travelocity’s customer promise is “We guarantee your booking will be right or we’ll work with our partners to make it right, right away.” That’s a big promise when you consider the volume of business they do.

  • Delivering on their promise requires a deep enterprise-wide commitment.
  • When a customer makes them aware of a travel problem, they fix it promptly at the first point of contact.
  • They advocate for the customer both within Travelocity and with travel suppliers.
  • They not only fix the first customer’s problem but also those of similarly situated customers. They improve the customer’s entire travel experience.

Example: When a booking ends up not being the room type expected, it’s a big problem, particularly when it’s a special event. Travelocity has developed a process to pre-confirm rooms to cut down on this problem. Travelocity tackles the problem, even though they didn’t cause it!

If you look at the many travel websites, you quickly realize that Travelocity cannot consistently differentiate with content. They all look and act pretty much the same.

Customer Championship is what makes Travelocity different.

  • It creates a sustainable differentiator between Travelocity and other sites.
  • It causes customers to be more loyal to an organization that provides support when needed
  • Doing the right thing for customers will forces Travelocity to evaluate its policies and processes and fix those that don’t make sense for the customer.
  • Being the customer’s advocate energizes employees

The essence of this effort is echoed in art of their mission statement: To Inspire Travelers and Be Their Champion.

A high-volume, mostly web-based business generates a mind-boggling amount of information about customers and their experiences. Here’s how Travelocity uses that information to support their championship vision. According to Ginny, they use it to:

  • Gain a deep understanding of our customers by listening
  • Assure the entire organization is accountable for delighting our customers
  • Work with our suppliers to improve the travel experience

Travelocity gets a vast amount of customer feedback through surveys, emails, calls, etc. -- hundreds of thousands of times per month. With so many millions of data points, it’s hard to digest it all.

Text Mining allows them to regularly and systematically read mass quantities of customer feedback.

In order to manage this process, they have created a dedicated customer advocacy team. This group researches the issues, contacts customers for resolution, and compile feedback for further study. They also look for customer “cries for help.”

“Cries for help” are verbatim comments that text mining allows them to search for that indicate a real problem. Comments on websites, surveys, etc. like “Do you care?” “Help!” “Refund my money!”Travelocity found that they can triple customer satisfaction when the customer advocacy team responds to them.

Another benefit of mining so much information and being able to make sense of it is that it also allows them to work better with suppliers. They can give real data to suppliers instead of just anecdotal stories.

In short, it helps them, and their suppliers provide travelers with Proactive Customer Care to make their experiences better and better.

As Ginny’s final comments reminded us: “Because it’s not just about getting there…it’s about assuring great experiences."

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Preparing for Customer Centricity 2020: How o Evolve the People, the Process & Technology to Meet Future needs

"If we're in a service economy, what's next?"

That’s the question Bo McBee, Vice President of Enterprise Total Customer Experience and Quality for Hewlett Packard., posed to the general session on Day 3 of the NACCM Customer’s 1st Conference.

It’s Bo’s job to think about these things. As he puts it, “At HP, the future is coming at us fast. It’s borderline chaos.” In fact, he’s never sent the drivers of loyalty change faster than they are right now.

Customers are empowered, informed, and demanding. They’ve got to see relevancy up front.

HP is a big company. Actually, that’s a severe understatement. A billion people use HP technology every day. Their technology handles two thirds of all credit card transactions and supports top 200 banks & 130 major stock exchanges. HP software makes calls possible for 100+ million mobile phone customers around the globe.

Part of what enables HP to operate so well as such a huge company is their focus on Total Customer Experience (TCE), which they define as the overall customer impression of HP based on perceptions and experiences with HP people, partners, products, services, etc at every touchpoint.

Loyalty enables growth. And when HP measures loyalty & customer service performance, they do it across every touchpoint in the lifecycle of the customer.

Bo simplified their approach to improving the TCE into three steps:

  • Execute fundamentals – improve processes and products
  • Make it easy – better understand your customer and competitive differentiators
  • Transform customer relationships - to be proactive – reinvent the experience

Bo is a big believer in Joe Pine’s Progression of economic value.

It’s a scale that explains the relative value of what you provide as a business. As you move up the scale, the customer receives and perceives higher value (and is usually willing to pay more money). Bo used a phenomenal example of how you might purchase cake for someone’s birthday.

  1. At the Commodities level, you’re willing to buy eggs, milk, flour, and sugar to bake a cake.
  2. At the Goods level, you’ll purchase a cake mix for because it’s a little easier on you.
  3. At the Service level, you’ll go for the pre-baked bakery cake for the total convenience.
  4. But at the Experience level, you’ll suddenly spend a lot more for a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.

Bo defines an experience as a “distinct economic offering that people are willing to pay for.” To move up the progression, you customize the lower levels. As you customize something, the lower or existing level of that something often becomes a commodity. Loyalty and growth are becoming more a function of “the overall experience”

To help accelerate the creation of meaningful experiences, HP has designed a methodology they call the IMPACT Model:

  • Identify experiences that matter
  • Make it uniquely personal
  • Process, technology, people to add value
  • Add architecture
  • Create inspiration and incentive
  • Test the experience

One of the most fun parts of the model is you have to come up with a theme for the experience that everyone agrees on, and it’s not always easy. Once you get that theme, every thing you do from that point on has to support that theme.

IMPACT addresses:

  • Functional needs: help me accomplish a task
  • Emotional needs: help me feel deeply about what I do
  • Social needs: help me build relationships with others

Bo’s final tips for making sure you’re prepared for a more customer-centric world:

  • You can’t become world-class if you don’t take your strengths to world-class levels.
  • Don’t ask a customer what you should already know. Make sure your processes for listening to your customers keep up.
  • Tie customer service to growth and profitability. Don’t lose the opportunity to do something really impactful because you didn’t make business case for it.

NACCM 2009: The Little Things Are the Biggest Things

“Oh no you didn’t!” Have you said this to yourself after having an unbelievably disrespectful or frustrating experience on a customer service call? Emily Yellin, author of Your Call is (Not That) Important to Us, shared with us that we should focus on the little things that have the biggest impact on service.

Yellin is a Journalist who has traveled the globe covering 4 continents to talk to CEOs and customer service experts. What drew her into the customer service conversation was that she sat on hold for what seemed forever on a customer service call with a home warranty company. Not happy with the experience, she decided to investigate why customer service folks keep missing the mark.

Yellin reports that Americans make 43 million customer service calls a year. About 70% of businesses use call centers today as the main way to interact with customers. In studying the call center industry, she uncovered several things they are doing right and several things that can be improved. Yellin states that “this is a time in customer service that is really exciting”.

She talked about an experience she had with a call center employee by the name of “Pablo”. After several frustrating attempts to get a product delivered, she was ultimately able to speak to Pablo who was able to take care of the problem. Pablo worked as a supervisor for a call center in South America. She contacted the company and arranged a visit where she met with management. And there sitting at the end of the table was Pablo. He told Yellin he had never met a customer before.

Her research led her to discover three themes that companies who have “got it right” have been following. These are:

1) Design for it
2) Follow through
3) Provide value

Design of a customer service system is important. Getting feedback from front liners can be critical to creating good customer service systems. Putting yourself in your customers “shoes” or observing your customers as they experience your service are some of the best ways to evaluate your design.

Follow-through will make or break the perception of your service experience. In her research, she discovered that what call center employees say and what customers interpret are often two different things. For example, when a call center employee says “I’m not authorized to do that”, it really means “I’m not going to help you” to the customer.

Yellin suggests we watch the words we use to describe our roles. For her, Customer Relationship Management has a negative connotation. She doesn’t want to be managed. Words are an agreement between us, she says. Be sure you are speaking your customers’ language.

One thing the customer wants to hear from you is “Yes”. Anything you do to get in the way of “yes” is a problem. She identified typical call center mistakes:

1) No information
2) They don’t have authority
3) They don’t care

The final theme is that successful companies provide value. We cannot lose our humanity, says Yellin. It starts from the top down. When you’ve had your very worst experience, what emotions did you feel? asks Yellin. Feelings include frustration, disappointment, and anger which spread easily. According to a Customer Rage study, 70% of angry customers felt rage, 28% raised their voices to an employee, 8% cursed, and 57% of customers took their business elsewhere.

The opposite feeling is when the experience is good. “Shouldn’t that be our goal?” asks Yellin. Let’s spread the good and create those good feelings. Minor indignities are the seeds to horrible things says Yellin. When we talk about the carbon footprint, we refer to the little things we can do to make our earth better. Yellin suggests that those of us in customer service should be encouraged to make a “karma” footprint. What does your service footprint say about you?

NACCM 2009: Saving Customer Ryan: The Power of Emotional Brand Equity

Saving Customer Ryan: The Power of Emotional Brand Equity
Dan Hill, Author, Emotionomics

Dan decided to figure out how to bring emotions into business. Brain science breakthroughs have changed and we have always been, “I feel, therefore I am.” And this is now shown through brain science. We are Homer Simpson, we think and act with our emotions.

We have a 3-part brain. Sensory, emotional, rational brain. We are sensory and emotional decision makers. Loyalty is a feeling.

How do we judge what people think compared to:
Facial expressions – 55%
Tone of Voice – 38%
Words Being said – 7%

Pitch, rate, range, articulation can give you a sense of how people are feeling over the phone. A person who is born blind has the same emotions as someone who is not. There is a part of the brain devoted to reading people faces, and it’s 8x as powerful as the one which reads objects.

In a commercial for Best Buy, eye tracking goes to the face of a person for females. Everyone is looking at faces, and the logos are in the background, but that’s the story. People Magazine will always survive because of the fact that they can continue showing the faces.

Facial Coding: It’s universal. It’s worldwide, culture through. The face is the only place in the body where the muscles attach to the skin. Dan Hill has shared his views on televistion and judged facial expressions of individuals involved with presidential races, on ESPN and ARod, when playing poker.

Our core emotions are happiness, surprise, anger, disgust, contempt, Sadness, fear, and deceit. We have two smiles, which are the true smile and tbe social smile.

Gauge personality properly by using the Big 5: Extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, neuroticism

Openness – exploratory and not afraid
Conscientiousness- detail oriented, responsible
Extroverted – Aggressive, friendly, funny,
Agreeableness – warmth, kindness
Neuroticism – adaptability, equanimity, maturity

When you’re in a short meeting, you can only pick up on conscientiousness and neuroticism.

1)Hire and train the right people. We all read other peoples faces.
2) Better survey question.
Like: What makes you stay with us? Or What do we do to help you the most?
3) Customer service as offer, it should nto be the afterthought. It’s huge and the heart and center of business.

If you can create a sensory service with customer service, you can then leverage your relationships.

Make customer service a good romantic dance, continually court them show them the equity of your brand.

NACCM 2009: Innovating the Service Experience on a Dime: Overcoming Resource Limitations by Taking a Differentiated Approach

Experience and service are two different aspects of our businesses. We can’t create experiences, they happen based on multiple variables. Experiences are co-created says Ryan Armbruster, recent SVP, Chief Experience Officer for Oncure. The best we can do is to deliver great service, and Armbruster believes that should be our focus.

Oncure Medical Corp. is a nationwide network of free-standing radiation oncology centers. The CEO of Oncure was himself a cancer survivor and had first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing cancer patients. Oncure wanted to improve their services and began conducting research at their clinics. They included focus groups, staff interviews, and patient input. They knew they had to look at their cancer patients’ experiences and needs from both inside and outside the walls of their treatment centers.

Where do businesses start in creating a new value-laden service? Armbruster states that businesses typically follow one of the following approaches:

1) Use personal business experience
2) Borrow solutions from other companies in industries
3) Borrow solutions from companies in other industries
4) Use personal experience as a customer
5) Ask customers what they want
6) Understand unmet needs of your customers

There is a definite challenge with the fifth approach, says Armbruster, as it doesn’t always lead to innovation. He quoted Henry Ford to illustrate the concept of customer wants. “If I asked my customers what they wanted, I would have built faster horses” said Ford. If your job is to change context, you can’t have your customers tell you how says Armbruster.

Oncure designed a method to help them develop their services. The first step is to identify the spectrum of customers needs. The second step is to design and optimize services around HIGH VALUE needs. He identified three methods used to identify unmet customer needs:

1) Explicit – asking the customers what they need
2) Tacit – observing and gathering information by getting out and spending time with customers
3) Latent - uncovering needs that customers have that they don’t even know they have

The secret to competitive differentiation says Armbruster is the ability to
“connect with your customers at a deeper level than the competition”.

He discussed five ways to make these deeper connections. They included:

1) Going beyond asking customers
2) Discovering service prototyping with your customers – get them involved
3) Engaging employees in the process and have them part of the design
4) Encouraging business analysis early in the process
5) Committing to it even if you have only a dime to invest

Keeping your focus on improving your services is an important goal. It all begins with knowing the deep needs of your customers from their perspective. Ryan Armbruster can be contacted at

NACCM 2009: From Emotion to Devotion: Wiring the Experience with Humanity to Drive Loyalty. Planes and People Making LUV Connections

We’ve all heard it said that we should put our customers first. Southwest Airlines doesn’t think so. Their philosophy is to put employees first. In fact, the company believes that happy employees = happy customers = happy shareholders, says Teresa Laraba, Vice President of Ground Operations for Southwest Airlines.

Southwest began in 1971 with 3 aircrafts serving 3 cities. Today, under the leadership of CEO Gary Kelly, it is one of the nation’s largest domestic airlines in terms of daily departures and customers carried. They have the safest record, best on-time performance, consistently low fares and the best flight schedules, reports Laraba.

The secret of their success is in the fact that they hire the best front liners. They hire based on attitude and look for people who “live the Southwest way” says Laraba. It takes a servant’s heart willing to follow the Golden Rule, a warrior spirit to do what it takes, and a fun loving attitude that encourages employees to take the work seriously, but not themselves. Needless to say, Southwest experiences high employee retention. Laraba herself has been with Southwest for 25 years.

Empowering employees to do the right thing is key says Laraba. They do this by having employees follow these principles:

Guidelines rather than rules
Golden Rule overrides what few rules we have
Lean toward the Customer and you’ll never get in trouble
Our employees take pride in finding solutions

Southwest has an entire department, Internal Customer Care, responsible for recognizing employee birthdays and anniversaries and giving gifts and care packages. They believe in treating each other like family and being there for their employees in good times and tough times.

What do they get by investing in their employees? Their customers see the difference. This is brought home in a quote from President Emeritus Colleen Barrett, “We are in the Customer Service Business. We just happen to fly airplanes.”

Southwest understands the power of saying “we’re sorry”. A Customer Communication department focuses on contacting customers within 72 hours of an issue and apologizes when Southwest does something wrong. They create customer evangelists by going above and beyond, doing whatever it takes, with proactive communication. They choose to make regular deposits in the “Goodwill Bank” says Laraba.

Southwest’s influence goes beyond the airport and into the community. Employees are encouraged to embrace causes and they do. For example, Southwest has raised approximately $11 million dollars for Ronald McDonald House.

The company is always looking for ways to improve the customer experience. Some of these improvements have included self-service kiosks, online and mobile check-in, power stations, redesigned gate areas, wireless access, and cashless cabins.

Southwest Airlines is a true example of leadership in action with an unwavering commitment to employees. This commitment has fueled their success and will continue to put them on the map as a company to model.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Designing and Developing Performance-Support Learning Programs

Understanding the difference between training and learning is absolutely critical to developing Performance-Support Learning Programs, according to Kathleen Peterson, Chief Vision Officer, Powerhouse Consulting.

Kathleen opened her session with a funny song about the solution to all call center woes is to add “more staffing on the line.” Of course, more staffing is not the answer. More educated staff is likely a better solution.

But be careful not to educate your people the wrong way. If you “train” them, you’re focusing on instruction that is basically trainer focused. A better way is to focus on “learning.” Training is education and instruction. Learning is the act of acquiring knowledge, and it’s focused on the learner.

Another way to put it: Training is an event…learning lasts forever.

Kathleen encourages us to adopt an “ask and tell” training philosophy. The trainer should always be the person asking the questions of the learner. It forces the learner into a situation where they recognize what the learning is doing for them…and how it will apply to their interactions with their customers.

In a performance-support model:

  • Training represents knowledge, skills, and feelings needed to perform critical and complex tasks.
  • Training is part of a much bigger picture.
  • Training does not teach everything – it helps learners become independent, efficient workers.
  • Transactions are taught around real-life job situations.
  • The training teaches the tools that support learners on the job.

When people dread training, it’s usually partly because it’s not performance-based. Nobody likes to be told what to do. They’d much rather be taught how to do their job well.

Performance-support training all boils down to three simple questions

1. What do they need to know?

  • Products
  • Policies
  • Procedures
  • Exceptions
  • Where to look for needed information

2. What do they need to do?

  • What actions do they need to take to do their job?
3. What do they need to feel? And make other people feel?

  • Empathy
  • Enthusiasm
  • Positivity
  • Empowerment
  • Appreciated
  • Connected

An effective training program should always be guided by several elements:

  • Customer experience
  • Company mission
  • Business Goals
  • Brand Elements
  • Values Proposition

Kathleen was passionate about following the proper methodology when designing a training program. The great thing about following proper methodology is that it can fit any program, course, or module and ensure the right kind of training every time. But the most important steps in the process are to always make sure you properly analyze needs and spend time designing training. If you don’t do these first two steps, the best delivery in the world won’t save your training program.

Want to make sure your training is fully supported and absolutely effective? Kathleen suggests creating a multi-disciplinary design team with representatives from any area of your business that might be affected by the training or have important insight into what the program should look like.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Frugality is Reality! Management Imperatives for Leading on a Limited Budget

John McQuaig loves call centers. He’s been working in and around call centers for twenty years. While many call centers deal with selling products or fixing problems, John’s call center has a much more sensitive purpose. John is the Executive Director in charge of the call centers for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital

70% of money that St. Jude’s raises comes from people on the street, and much of that flows through the call centers, so they have to do what they do really, really well.

To say St. Jude’s is frugal might be an understatement. Apparently, there’s a joke about St. Jude’s being so money conscious they pick up paperclips off the floor. Actually, John claims that’s no joke.

Years like this are difficult for the organization, just like it has been for many others. When middle America has a hard time, St. Jude has a hard time as well.

You might think the mission at St. Jude is enough to motivate people. After all, saving and improving the quality of children’s health is a pretty motivating mission. As noble as it is, according to John, people are people and they need other forms of motivation besides a noble mission.

So what can you do to motivate your employees to do their best, besides throwing money at them?

John shared four things to strive to do well. If you do these right, you’ll never be able to fail to keep your people engaged:

Clarity (vision, mission, strategic direction)

  • Show them the road
  • Help them navigate the road
  • Show them where they personally have an impact

Competency (tools)

  • Give them the tools to make that successful journey
  • Remove obstacles along the way
  • Update frequently on the challenges and progress
Influence/Ownership (teamwork)

  • Allow them to be a part of the decision making process
  • Make way for open book management (bringing people in at all levels and sharing unfiltered information about what’s happening)
  • Communication in every direction
  • Allow them to feel the wheel
  • Allow talent and passion to accelerate
  • Allow everyone the opportunity to become a stakeholder
Appreciation (self esteem)

  • Motivational messages
  • Promote individual and team accomplishments
  • Know your people (annual reviews)
  • Inspire
  • Advertise the good times
John believes one of the big things leaders need to do more of is “ask.” Leaders need to ask: “What can I be doing better for you?” to their employees. If you ask sincerely, you’ll find out how to effectively support your people to be their best.

NACCM 2009 LIVE: Global Culture Transformation; Changing The Behavior of Leaders at Levels

You’ve got to love somebody who calls themselves a “quality geek” like Gloria Roberts does. She’s the Staff Vice President of Service Experience at FedEx Corporation. Having a quality geek in charge of the service experience is definitely a good move.

Gloria stated her most important point right up front: Customer centricity is about aptitude, attitude, and action.

It’s imperative for a company founded on a quality promise (“Absolutely, Positively”) to create a culture of service. But, FedEx is not one company. It’s actually four operating companies servicing over 220 countries/territories.

Can you imagine trying to effectively communicate how to deliver their infamous “Purple Promise” to make every customer’s experience outstanding to 275,000 employees worldwide? That’s exactly what they do.

All companies must compete on price or experience. Customer experience is the superior way to compete. It results in higher overall value and a lasting competitive advantage. When you focus on experience, price may still be important, but falls to a secondary consideration.

For FedEx, the rallying point is the quality of their service. They have to make sure the service to the customer, at every touchpoint, is more than the customer expects.

Drivers of Customer Loyalty for FedEx include:

  • Customer perceptions of the brand
  • Overall customer experience
  • Value for the price

To make sure they can deliver, FedEx makes tremendous efforts to:

  • Gather information to know what their customers expectations are.
  • Focus on performance every single day.
  • Make sure the employees are engaged and the customer’s interaction is superior.
  • Measure, measure, measure the quality of everything!

Quality at FedEx:

  • is a shared call to action.
  • is shared understanding of “best”.
  • is a fact-driven philosophy for decision making.
  • involves a common process improvement methodology.
  • is an integral component of Customer Loyalty and Operational Excellence Strategies.

In fact, quality is so important FedEx says, “Quality management is not a thing we do, it’s the way we do things.”

To communicate FedEx’s QDM (Quality Driven Management) plan, Gloria’s team created a multi-phase approach that included building awareness and alignment, preparing leadership to lead, and finally deploying, implementing, and ensuring the longevity of the plan.

One of the communication vehicles they created was a high-quality video that was shared with the entire company several times. The video was 6 minutes: that’s all the time they have at the beginning of each shift for their “management” meetings. They normally squeeze 15 topics into those meetings, but they focused on the video instead in order to get a consistent message across to the entire company.

One memorable line from the video stated that a1% increase in loyalty results in $100 million in revenue for the company. That’s a pretty staggering statistic to convey the impact of increasing customer loyalty.

The initiative strives to communicate three themes to employees: Customers, Excellence, and We are One FedEx.

So, how did they get 275,000 people to learn the same thing?

They focused on making “local” stories “global”

They employed omprehensive, consistent messaging

They built on existing learning and competency base

They created a learning approach employable across target audiences

They used a “non-traditional”, multi-media learning platform

They incorporated it into their business plan

One key element to speed up the adoption of QDM was to get key influencers on board early in the process, effectively creating influential cheerleaders of the program. These influencers were giving a "sneak preview" of the program before they rolled it out to the company at large. And FedEx realized that influencers are not necessarily the people at the top. These hand-picked people came from all levels throughout the company.

NACCM 2009: I Want To Tweet You Up

I Want To Tweet You Up: What Emerging Customer Trends Mean for Your Business
Michael Tchong, Trend Analyst & Founder, Ubercool

We should begin by discriminating trends from fads. Trends are consumer value changes. The best way to predict consumer behavior

Ubertrend – major movement, pattern or wave, emerging in the consumer lifestyle

Digital lifestyle – marriage between man and machine
The Compression – the acceleration of life
Unwired – The unhooked generation

Captin Sully’s situation reporting coverage was changed by Twitter. The first image was from Janis Krums from Sarasota, Florida from an iPhone. Comedians are the ones who best observe trends. The youths are on the front of this trend. The majority of Twitter users are abroad. Twendz lets you see Twitter trends as they are cascading down. Michael Tchong said Twitter will make or break swine flu.

Multitasking too much makes it harder for humans to remember things. The Wii now responds people to rehabilitate faster. Have you gone to “Wii”hab yet?

Tchong looks to microwaves for introducing Americans to instant gratification. Our state of mind has become a state of time. Culture has created a fast society, because we have a fear of being left behind.

Everyone is looking for innovation. In 1999, 95% of people stated that they wanted to be a leader. This is up from 37% in 1991.

We’re all facing the GPS Generation. We can get anywhere like a native, and leaving maps behind. Same can be said for speed dial and remembering phone numbers. Sit or Squat to find the restroom.

Time Compression. Food, photos, instant energy, etc. We are all trigger happy. Epic fail – Frequently used term in the video game community that means you really messed up and/or something/someone is an utter failure. This is video game culture seeping into life.

Digital lifestyle: We’ve gotten an unknown president into office. Twilight and New Moon made a mom from Phoenix a multimillionaire.

Download free Uberternds map at

NACCM 2009: Achieving Critical Clarity: How Improving the Customer Experience Increases Customer Understanding, Persistency and Participation

It’s no wonder that Cigna just won the Gartner Gold Award for Customer Strategy and Customer Experience Excellence. Ingrid Lindberg, Customer Experience Officer with Cigna, shared with us the strategies that they implemented to get them where they are today.

Four years ago, Cigna’s CEO took the company in a new direction to make the health care business more user-friendly and to build trust. Cigna found that when people were asked to rate things that they trusted, they would rarely answer “my health plan”. They determined that when the customer experience is confusing and there is a lack of trust, they miss opportunities to improve health.

In asking for feedback about the health care experience, Lindberg received the following customer information:

77% were unsure what terminology in their health plan policy really means
50% didn’t know how much they pay each month
85% did not understand key health care terms
85% don’t participate in available wellness programs
82% don’t compare hospital qualifications before choosing
45% don’t receive timely, appropriate care

Cigna took this information and arrived at two driving principles for their health care experience: 1) that every interaction must be helpful, and 2) every interaction must be easy. With these principles in mind, they got into action with the following in mind:

1) Analyze every individual touch point
2) Change terminology to get rid of insurance-ease
3) Ban “alphabet-soup” talk - EOB, PCP, EPO
4) Eliminate nuisance mail – get what you need when you need it
5) Eliminate what frustrates – if you want a person, you get a person
6) Explore possibilities, not limitations to improve health

As a result, they created new terminology. They asked university students to look at a list of confusing terminology and redesign new words that worked. For example, instead of using the word “subscriber”, they changed to “the person who has the benefits from the employer”, and the words “member liability” was changed to “the amount you need to pay”.

They made changes to their Enrollment Guide by making them more user friendly and allowing the customer to choose the right plan. When they found that 52% of customers are visual learners, they added a checklist for people to follow.

Changes were also made for their new quotes for treatment that included an estimator that allows you to see what you will pay, comparison of treatment costs, all in plain language.

Redesigning their explanation of benefits also paid off. They were able to provide a summary of care charges, put key financial data on the front page, and shared with customers how much they saved based on the plan they chose.

They also made an improvement in their employee engagement as a result of some of these changes. In looking at the needs of the customer, they found that they wanted phone support 24/7. When they presented this concept to employees on a volunteer basis, they welcomed the change. It has allowed Cigna to better serve their customers, reduced workload for their employees, and increased employee retention by double.

Achieving success was a result of analyzing each customer touch point – words, forms, processes, etc., says Lindberg. Cigna is now setting the industry standard for the customer experience.

NACCM 2009: High Performance Work at Home reps, a Building Block for Creating a Customer-Centric Environment

Ricardo Weld, Director HSN, Performance Support Services, Home Shopping Network

The web complements the television channel. They have emerging channels, what a customer wants, when she wants. They’re also on video on demand to find the products you want for your remote control.

Mission: The delivery the joy and excitement of new discoveries every day. HSN today isn’t about hard sales, it’s about education and information. When Emril is on, it’s about the dish he’s cooking, not just the pots and pans he’s using to cook the meal in.

The start of the experience is the brands. A customer is looking for uniqueness, ideas, accessible aspiration, fun, connections and validations.

HSN handles 45 million calls an 480,000 emails processed annually. They look at the volume that their products are going to drive in calls, and they have found a way to use a work at home model to employees who take calls. They’ve moved away from off shoring, and brought shores back home. Their work at home model has allowed them to grow, and let their employees grow in their career.

Show hosts, reps, online reps, all of the voices are representing HSN. Voices should not be different across the different platforms. That’s why they brought the CSRs back from the Philippines, the voices didn’t translate.

HSN has a reward yourself program for their employees. HSN sets up a program with an account, they get in store credits or expendable cash. This never expires, even if the employees leave HSN.

HSN has a quality evaluation process. They have a Tier process – 1 – Reps who are tenured, solid jobs, 2 – doing well, Tier 3 – Those who are struggling. They receive 3x the number of evaluations compared to Tier 1.

The expectation of HSN for their call center reps is to connect with their customer. This is their brand, and they expect it from their call center representatives. A friendly, connected work at home agent is the HSN brand.

NACCM 2009: From Toronto to Trinidad: Measuring Scotiabank's Brand and Service across international Boundaries

Cathy Daniels, Director, Customer Insights and Measurement, ScotiaBank International Banking & Joseph E. Toole, Vice President, Client Services, Burke, Inc.

ScotiaBank is in 48 countries and 5.5 milion customers. They are currently expanding into Latin America to reach those who are unbanked in the Caribbean. Their core purpose is to help customers become better off. In Canada, their motto is “You’re richer than you think.” This doesn’t translate correctly across regions. They’ve looked to change this in Latin America.

When you’re doing research to make your company cross borders, and create a new brand based on one that exists, you must start with a huge opening for your funnel. No one can be left out of the process.

First, one must determine the key brand attributes. What are the generalities, and also look at the little thinks that make the brand. Burke wanted to then figure out what was driving the brand, what’s differentiating ScotiaBank, and what are the key constituencies.

Concentrate on what would differentiate the bank based on missions, goals and identity. This is different from building an identity from scratch.

Lessons learned from ScotiaBank and Burke:
-The brand attribute “research funnel” should have a wide opening and a narrow outlet
-Use multiple evaluation criteria for determining optimal brand elements
-Readiness assessment requires both operational and marketing components
-It is possible to arrive at common brand strengths across multiple geographies
-Well-communicated research findings can influence thinking among diverse stakeholders
-Competitive bank comparisons overcome cross country measurement concerns

NACCM 2009: A message from Kathleen Peterson

Kathleen Peterson, the 2009 NACCM: Customers 1st Conference Chair met with us this morning to let us know how the conference was going and what she's looking forward to over the next few days.

NACCM 2009: Profiting from Customer Churn

Profiting from Customer Churn
Ken Powaga, Senior Vice President, GfK Customer Research-North America

Is profiting from customer churn an oxymoron? The only good churn Ken’s heard from involves milk churning into butter.

Customers as assets. They’re the most important asset. They contribute to company success, employee motivation, quality, customer satisfaction and more. Each stage needs a metric to determine how well the business is going. The problem is that customers aren’t static. We’re getting new customers in and current customers are leaving. What are the profits from new customers versus the profits from leaving customers.

There are bad customers. They may not have lifetime value for you. With some customers, the top 20% of your customers may account for 80% of your profits. The bottom half of your customers eat up 30 of your profit.

-Define customer value
-Quantify reasons for churn
-Set strategic priorities

NACCM 2009: Going for Gold: Living Up to Olympic Size Expectations

Going for Gold: Living Up to Olympic Size Expectations
Rick Burton, CMO, United States Olympic Committee 2008, David Falk Professor of Sport Management, Syracuse University and Co-founder of Sportgiving

Most of the attendees know more about service customers than Mr. Burton. But he will share a few stories that challenge our thoughts and return the messages back to our businesses.
Burton has had many roles in his careers, including beer, football, college kids, the Olympics and college kids. He’s willing to challenge authority and challenge the rules.

He once worked with the NFL. The NFL gave the fans what they wanted. More scoring, this includes bringing in the uprights for limiting field goals. The NFL was listening to the customers and brought in more touchdown.

Customers need to come first. Burton has always been inspired by sports. How can the Nike video below inspire your company? Nike gives athletes the chance to keep on going, challenge their borders and go farther than they’re able to. The company started by athletes for athletes. They want to give them better products and a better chance to thrill them.

He was able to be the Chief Marketing Officer going into the 2008 Olympic Games. His companies involved were Coca Cola, Budweiser, Bank of America, and Kellogg’s. These business are the best at what they do, but no one person can take credit for the greatness of the Olympics. He was a part of the team, and they needed the ability to sell their products and make sure their customers were satisfied, whether if it was Corn Flakers or a bank account. AT&T put on a program where each night a song was featured. When users downloaded the song, the proceeds went back to the athletes. The ratings were very, very high, and it was also available across many platforms.

The thing about the Olympics, do your employees see themselves as champions? Athletes have to become champions by going on step at a time. In great leadership, you must be able to bring more out of the people around you.

You must trust: vision, staff, peers, product, organization, faith, view of the world, and yourself.
Are you sacrificing your creativity by not taking enough time for vacation and letting yourself relax? “Change or die” is crucial for how you live and interact with the world around you.
Children’s books and movies can be a source of inspiration.

What are three things your customers need? What are three things that your customers want and you’re not giving them? How often do you dream ahead 6 months in your business, in your career and in your customers. What would you like to see? If you don’t see anything, what does this mean for your creativity? Are you searching for excellence or settling for mediocrity?
Wow. What’s your definition? What’s your new outlook for your business?

Here at the "Socratic Cafe"

There are a few of us here blogging this amazing experience here at the Customers First conference. I'm blogging over here at my blog and sharing some of the insights I'm picking up. Join me!
JoAnna Brandi

NACCM LIVE 2009: KEYNOTE: The Ultimate in Customer Centricity: Chief Customer Officers Describe How Everyone Can Be A Loyalty Leader


Curtis Bingham, Author, The Key to Customer Strategy: The Rise of the Chief Customer Officer, and President, Predictive Consulting Group.


Rudy Vidal (RV), former Chief Customer Officer, InContact

Tammy McLeod, ™ Chief Customer Officer, Arizona Public Service

Bob Olson (BO), Chief Customer Officer, Homestead Technologies, an Intuit Company

Curtis warmed up our thoughts with a story about the hotel. When he arrived, he was greeted with a room upgrade, extra water in his room (because they know he likes that), and taken to his room in a golf cart by a bellman who told him all about the hotel. Upon arriving in his room, the bellman put all of his bags in the right place and offered to get drink, food, or whatever Curtis desired. The bellman clearly loves his job. He also got a big tip.

Then Curtis asked us to imagine if there had a problem with the TV (there hadn't, by the way). Imagine calling for service and being promised service in 5 minutes. After a much longer time, service shows up, a smelly repairman who complains about his job. Imagine how you’d fill out the satisfaction survey IN SPITE after dealing with this imaginary service tech, even after the great experience up front.

The actions of many can be offset by the actions of one.

You can’t afford to be the only champion of customer loyalty. You can't tackle it alone.

How many in the audience have a chief customer officer?

Answer: 1.

What is a Chief Customer Officer?

The CCO uses customer insight to affect corporate & customer strategy and align deliverables to customer values, thereby maximizing customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.

Rudy, what is loyalty?

RV - It has a lot to do with where you’re standing. Loyalty is a commitment to repurchase or recommend a product or a brand that resists normal market pressures. What loyalty is NOT in my mind is getting a customer to have repeat purchases. I can have repeat purchasers for a whole bunch of reasons.

I contend that you cannot buy loyalty. It’s an emotional issue.

TM – A lot of those loyalty programs that require me to use a certain card to get my points, it’s not as fun to be a part of those with all the conditions, etc.

BO – I believe you can get a good sense of customer loyalty and engagment by looking at employee loyalty and engagment. When I walk into a new company, I observe employee engagement. It’s amazing the correlation you find inside and outside the company.

RV – There are metrics that very much support Bob’s view. Engaged employees DOUBLES loyalty. If your employees are not engaged, you have half the loyalty that you could have.

How do you think loyalty is changing?

RV – I think the drivers of loyalty are changing. The morning speaker talked aobut consistency. 20 years ago, consistency was difficult to get. You couldn’t train people well enough. Consistency created emotion in customers. Consistency is easier to obtain now. Computers help make consistency happen. What makes us emotional now is changing.

TM – I agree. We see tremendous changes in the drivers of loyalty. The current economic conditions are causing a lot of this. I see that we’re creating a tremendous increase in distrust. We’re also seeing a “return to local.” Every dollar that’s spend with a locally owned business drives 43 cents back into the community. That’s higher than if you spent money with a nationally owned company.

BO – With the local side, there’s a big push to bring jobs back onshore. I think it’s driven by the customer. It’s been so easy to make money in the past, now you have to earn the money in a different way.

Rudy, how do some of the loyalty programs adapt to an emotional experience?

It’s not easy to do, but it’s easy to understand. The issue is to know your customer. This used to be a product & service economy. Not anymore. It’s an experience economy. People are spending money for experiences. Why? Because products are commoditized. If we’re an experience economy, we shouldn’t be surprised when people just want a lower price for a commoditized product. You have to understand your customer. Frankly nobody cares about your product. If you know your customer, and you can lay out a customer’s experience across your customer, and you know the emotional requirements of your customer, you can provide for those emotional needs. And it’s relatively cheap to do.

AUDIENCE QUESTION – It’s easy to create the emotional experience, how do you maintain that focus?

RV – When I greet you, I need to create delight. That’s not so easy to commoditize. Don’t’worry so much about the process, as much as the emotional results.

BO – Instead of using the word focus, I’d use the word purpose. When you describe the outcomes you want, people will find a way. Who wants a job where you have to follow a big manual that tells you exactly what to do. When you define purpose and outcome, people will surprise you.

AUDIENCE QUESTION – How do you manage them to do that day after day?

RV – It’s a culture issue. If management understands why they get up in the morning, and they were to instill this purpose, this mission, and create an environment where everyone knows why they’re here, they’ll watch out for each other and learn from each other.

The moment you believe a culture is strategic, go back to the drawing board. Culture is all about the FRONT LINE. What does a customer need at the front line? That’s what culture should focus on.

BO – Jack Welch talks about getting tired of saying the same thing over and over, but it’s important. Do you people go home at night knowing what’s important? It’s all the little things you do that make a difference. That’s why culture is tactical, not strategic.

Tammy, how have you helped everyone take ownership for loyalty?

TM – It’s a never ending task. It’s never done. We’re a large, regulated “monopoly,” so our approach is often a little different. We have to publicly go before a commission to change pricing, etc. If our service, satisfaction, loyalty isn’t good, it makes that process much more difficult.

Walking the walk is what I’s all about. Alan mentioned this morning UPS and how they’ve caught up to FEDEX. Part of how they’ve done that is by measuring everything. We measure, too. One thing we measure is satisfaction. My task is to inform my company that we’re all in this together. For instance, if you’re a tech and your shirt is untucked or you show up late, you’ve affected the customer experience.

Let people see their part of the picture. How do they fit into this? Create unlikely allies. Go out and pick an unlikely ally. I picked the person who runs the fleet. Then I went to our legal department and made them customer advocates. Find people that others wouldn’t necessarily expect to talk the customer loyalty.

The next step is to sit down with the other groups and have them discover how they impact the customer.

Our CEO made customer satisfaction a measurement across the board, which has helped our efforts tremendously, but like I said, it’s a job that’s never done.

The message I put out there is that the CFO doesn’t sign your paycheck, it’s the customer! Think about that every time you get your check.

Are there metrics that help drive some of the behavior?

TM -We measure a lot of stuff. Web interactions, calls, etc. We look at those on a weekly basis.

BO – At GoDaddy, I would bring in people from different departments and talk to them about the customers and how the different areas affect them. When you can get different groups and make it so they see the interrelatedness of the outcome, that’s when you get good results. It ultimately starts with defining jobs by outcomes and interdependencies and bringing the face of the customer into the building.

RV – I got a letter from a customer who outlined a horrible experience with an electronics company over a month and a half. We literally could not have done a worse job at pretty much every touchpoint. I started thinking “If customers only understood…” which is the wrong approach.

So what I did was invite this customer to come to NY and tell his story to my managers. We offered to cover expenses and provide a stipend for him. It was a beautiful moment. Management got it. They understood. And for every one of these letters, there are 30 customers who felt like this who DIDN’T write.

It was so compelling, managers actually approached him afterward because they felt compelled to say they were sorry.

For us, it became a tradition. We started inviting dissatisfied customers to come visit.

AUDIENCE COMMENT – As we recruit, it’s essential to make sure we know exactly the kind of person to hire.

BO – We all know that chapter one of the book is always “Hire the right people,” but we rarely do it, or share best practices.

RV – There are places where profiling is a good thing! There are different attudes required for different roles.

AUDIENCE QUESTION – Which types of incentives are the best drivers?

BO – For most people it’s not money, it’s recognition. We throw money at it, but nobody’s thought of how detrimental that can be.

TM – We’ve been advocates of Gallup’s Q12 from First Break All The Rules. One of the questions is about getting feedback every seven days. After you get to know your people, you figure out how they like to get that feedback. Have those interactions weekly. Commuication is undrrated and it shouldn’t be.

We have found it highly motivating to set people up in their homes to work if they meet a certain level of performance.

RV – How many of you would like to receive a gift from somebody who doesn’t mean it as opposed to from someone who does mean it. It is key that the employees understand that you mean it. The acknowledgement, the emotional, the human reward has to happen before the currency reward (points, cash, product, etc.). If you do the currency first, they will tend to think they got something for doing something, If you do the human recognition first, you get the attitude you’re looking for.

How do you sell loyalty to the C-Suite?

BO – At the C-level, we’ve been looking for the “diet” approach instead of the “lifestyle” approach. How do you balance short term with long term? CEOs are trying to do the right thing, but it doesn’t always match up with the right need.

It starts with building trust, good debate, and unfiltered freeflowing communication from the customers and the employees.

You also can’t be afraid to lose your job. You’re going to be respectful, but it’s going to be painful for them to hear. You’re going to thell them things they don’t necessisarily want to hear.

AUDIENCE QUESTION – How do you sell it as a strategic initiative when it’s one of the “soft” numbers that easily gets cut first?

TM – By having measurements, I can tweak the service model to see where we can make cuts without losing too much service level.

RV – Have KPIs that are leading to results. If you have actionable KPIs that lead to results, they very rarely want to cut that.

BO – All companies have a brain, heart, and soul. You can’t just focus on the brain.

At the conclusion of the session, the audience shared it's most valuable takeaways:

  • Support local establishments
  • Find unlikely allies
  • Have dissatisfied customers talk to management
  • Understand what emotions I want to drive, rather than what process to follow
  • You cannot separate employee engagement and customer loyalty
  • Make it everyone’s job