Wednesday, August 28, 2013

4 Things that are Killing Your Customer Experience

As the marketplace becomes increasingly crowded with products, it is becoming tougher for companies to stand out amidst the noise and clutter. In the past, product packaging and messaging were the most important aspects. Now, those elements are still critical, but in addition, you need to offer your customer a unique experience they won’t get anywhere else.

The customer experience (CX) is a blend of a company's physical performance and the emotions evoked, intuitively measured against customer expectations across all touch-points. This means that every time a company and a customer interact, the customer learns something about the company that will either strengthen or weaken the future relationship - and with that - the customer's desire to return and recommend. Excellent customer experiences are still so novel that, when we have one, we talk about it. 

The CX is all about doing things that will be memorable and of value to the customer. Start with the basics and fundamentals. Once you’ve gotten them right, you will have earned the customer’s trust and repeat business. There are plenty of companies offering what you offer, so be decidedly different. With that being said, according to Business2Community, here are four things you must stop doing if you want a stand-out CX.
  1. Stop asking the customer to repeat information. This includes asking them to repeat identifying information already keyed in while listening to prompts.
  2. Stop having all employees greet the customer when entering a store. Let one do it and then stop.
  3. Stop being oblivious. Get your team to recognize current customers. Encourage them to check the database and acknowledge the customer specifically.
  4. Stop being scripted. Customers want a real person delivering sincere service. Allow your team to build a relationship and use judgment.  

There are an array of things organizations need to start doing but get started by stopping certain irritating behaviors - it gives the customer a chance to think about taking their business to the competition.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmanadCicc.
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Official Call for Presenters Now Open: Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit

The Institute for International Research (IIR) presents

Due to the high volume of submissions, we suggest you submit your proposal early and no later than Thursday, August 29, 2013 to Rachel McDonald, Senior Conference Producer at or 646.895.7405.

The Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit is an event that showcases B2B and B2C trends, insights and best practices for designing, measuring, aligning and communicating your customer experience strategy to ensure business relevance.

A Three Day Conference Experience Featuring NEW Topics:

Customer Experience Design & Measurement
  • User Experience Design
  • Design Research & Methods
  • Redesigning a Program
  • Analyzing VOC
  • Design Thinking
  • Loyalty Measurement
  • Data-Rich Insights & Analytics 
  • Big Data Initiatives 
  • Social Media Engagement & Feedback
  • Customer Insights 
  • New Technologies & Methodologies
  • Internal Customer Index Scoring vs. NPS
  • Enterprise Feedback Management

Strategy & Alignment

  • Using VOC to Take Actionable Insights
  • Engagement Learnings
  • Monetizing Your Customer Experience
  • Recovery Strategy
  • Linkage to ROI
  • Customer Service Strategies
  • Aligning Customer Touchpoints
  • Combating Survey Fatigue 
  • Linking Data Sources
  • Personalization & Customization 
  • Driving a Customer Centric-Culture

High Level Keynote Sessions that Focus On:

  • Innovation & Creativity
  • Operational Perspective
  • Chief Listener 
  • Customer Before Profit
  • Culture & Change Management
  • The Role of Emotions 
  • Developing Relationships
  • Digital Customer Experience
  • Customer Behavior / Generational Nuances 
  • Leadership
  • Global Perspectives

We are also happy to consider topics not listed here that you feel would add value and be appropriate.

Speakers receive FREE admission to the conference. PLUS! Idea gathering forums following each session topic.

The Audience

Individuals within the company responsible for customer experience, voice of customer, customer research
Individuals with direct experience for the customer experience and/or voice of customer collection, dissemination, interpretation and results
Individuals seeking to enhance their own company's capabilities in these areas (become more customer-centric and drive business results through improved customer experience), and willing to help others advance through sharing of best practices and experiences

Sponsorship & Exhibition Opportunities

If you are interested in sponsorship or exhibit opportunities please contact Jon Saxe, Business Development Manager at or 646.895.7467.

Interested in Becoming a Media Partner or Featured Event Blogger?
Contact Maria Orlova, Marketing Manager, at

Call for Presenters:
  • For consideration, please email with the following information by Thursday, August 29, 2013.
  • Proposed speaker name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
  • Contact information including address, telephone and fax numbers and e-mail
  • Talk title
  • The main theme you plan to address
  • Summary of the presentation (3-5 sentences)
  • Please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
  • What the audience will gain from your presentation (please list 3-5 key "take-aways") 
  • Previous conference experience
  • Short bio

Due to the high volume of responses, we are unable to respond to each submission. All those selected to participate as speakers will be notified shortly after the deadline.
Thank you for your interest in the Total Customer Experience Leaders Summit. We look forward to receiving your proposal!

The Total Customer Experience Leaders Team
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The 9 Commandments of Being Customer-Centric

You may have heard people say, “It’s not about us. It’s about them, the customer! The implication — what sounds enticing to the recipient — is that these people believe that customer-devoted organizations drive significant profitable revenue growth and they execute strategically against their proclamation daily. Unfortunately, most often, nothing could be further from the truth, which is why many companies’ PRG remains anemic — a sign of a non-customer-focused organization. According to Kansas City Business Journal, here are nine proven methods of living the customer-centric mantra.

9. Your customer’s issues ARE your issues. Third Door clients understand that the function formerly known as sales is now 80 percent “research.” They know that relevancy, demand creation and attraction are the front-end drivers of sustainable PRG, replacing ineffective sales techniques. Therefore, what procedures and technology are used to feed you this information that helps create the desired positioning?

8. Honor thy customer. Think about a card section in a local grocery store that showcases designs by customers, displaying where they’re from by city and state. How do you think that makes the consumer feel? How is your customer council structured and how is the all-important state of co-destiny achieved?

7. Further your customer’s purpose. Try this as a sales call opening: “I understand what you do. However, I’m curious why you do it? If I can understand that more clearly, I can better determine if we’re a good fit.” With this information secured, share how your value proposition helps strengthen the client’s “true north.” And because your organization’s objective should be profitability, so it can provide jobs and sustain the community in which it serves, then your primary prospect qualifier is shared purpose, right? 

6. Help advance customer’s value proposition. The definition of value proposition is, “The crystal clear statement of the tangible results the customer receives from your products, services and experiences.” So how are you positively impacting your customers’ tangible results? If you’re not influencing customers’ key performance indicators then you’re a commodity.

5. Fortify customer’s competitive advantages. What your customer’s top brass wants more than anything else are new, challenging and effective ideas. If you’re in sales, when’s the last time your boss asked, “When is the last three times you challenged a customer and provided new, innovative thoughts?”

4. Delight your customer’s customer. What are the needs of your customer’s customer? The only thing more important to your customer than his/her profitability is creating more happy and loyal customers.

3. Pay it forward. A past client, a well-known restaurant, is led by a chef who had an idea to reward loyal patrons, by surprising them with their favorite dinner served at home, with live music. Then, the couple suggested the chef do the same thing for a family in need they knew. How does this story square with your charitable efforts? As has been said before, the greatest marketing strategy ever devised is care.

2. Employ customer-centric key metrics. How do you integrate the “voice of the customer” into your management dashboard? One team, one all-important score, people. And that “score” should lean toward some type of “customer delight” measurement.
1. Customers help design your value proposition. When strategic planning is performed at your company, the customer’s voice is absent. Have you ever asked customers why they buy from you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Starbucks’ New Brew: Faster Digital Customer Experience

Today, Starbucks Coffee Company has become almost as well known for its free WiFi as its coffee. The $13.3 billion company provides a model of combining a physical retail operation with digital channels. It has more than 34 million Facebook likes and more than 3.6 million Twitter followers, and is successful at using social media and mobile technology to create unforgettable customer experiences. 

In fact, recently Google and Level 3 Communications have partnered up to provide wireless service at Starbucks U.S. locations. The new Google WiFi will initially be seen at new locations over the next month and then be rolled out to its remaining 7,000 locations across the country over the next 18 months. According to Level 3 CEO Jeffrey Storey, the company is working with Google to provide Starbucks with a differentiated experience for customers.

“We will do the things that we do best – building and managing complex network services to support that infrastructure. And, Google will do the things that they do best and make sure that they provide a differentiated WiFi experience that they will at some point, use that portal and that interface to, for example, offer seasonal drink coupons to the customers as they walk in,” he told

Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said it’s the next step in the relationship between the coffee giant and Google. Currently, Brotman is responsible for delivering wider digital thinking at Starbucks, which is key to its customer experience (CX) strategy.

“From the digital perspective, we spent the past several years building an engine of digital touch points with our customers that not only allows us a deeper relationship with our customers, but also pays off with incrementality for our business,” he commented.

A critical tool for Starbucks is its loyalty card program which has seen a 100 percent year-over-year growth in dollars loaded via Starbucks mobile apps and Web properties.  Over 10 percent of all transactions in U.S. stores are made via mobile phone, according to Brotman. So, mobile devices have become important part of the CX as the fastest and easiest way to pay in stores and will continue to bring more innovation into the space.

“One of the things that’s allowed us to get a lead in mobile payments is that we did not try to go for example, right to the cloud or right to some sort of tap to pay, although we do plan in the future on implementing whatever is suited and most convenient to our customers,” he added.

Additionally, Starbucks recently passed almost four million Twitter follower mark, and while its global Facebook following allows the firm to engage with our customer’s every day, “Our internal measures tell us that these digital initiatives have added demonstrable impact to our US business with the promise of even greater growth in the months and years to come. We are not resting on any of our previous successes,” said Brotman.

To date, Starbucks has a robust pipeline of developments in each area of its digital ecosystem and it expects to deliver a number of improvements and innovations through its existing programs and introduce new concepts. For instance, one new initiative is a partnership with Duracell to trial wireless charging for our customer’s mobile devices in select Starbucks stores in Silicon Valley. The installation of multiple wireless charging Powermat services in our stores will allow Starbucks customers to easily recharge their smartphones.

Brotman said, “This is a kind of improvement to the digital experience that our customers expect from Starbucks and the kind that we will deliver at scale moving forward.”

Furthermore, Brotman said work is underway to accelerate the digital strategy globally. China, for example, already has 2.5 million My Starbucks Rewards members without a mobile payment platform or eGifting in place. The company has even made mobile payment available to apps on Android and iOS to Starbucks customers in the Hong Kong market.

“I truly believe that no other retailer is as far along as Starbucks in terms of building an end to end digital customer experience across a variety of digital touch points both in-store and out of store, across channels, and now across geographies,” Brotman said. “We are truly only just getting started.”

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmanadCicc
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Get Personal with Your Customers through Data

Today, companies of all shapes and sizes are struggling to keep up with the fast-changing customer experience landscape. In fact, a Harris Interactive survey found that in the United States, 68 percent of consumers say brands need to find ways to offer more customized interactions. Within the context of persistent economic uncertainty, competition for consumers has never been stronger.  CEO of cloud contact center provider inContact Paul Jarman recently told Wired that organizations who ignore this demand for a personalized experience will be at a disadvantage.

“There’s a huge amount of value in those bottomless wells of information that most companies are under-utilizing or outright ignoring. Mining that gold can unearth a wealth of insights and advancements that can ultimately lead to a more forward-thinking customer experience,” he said.

Here are some key steps from Jarman that will help you give your customers a more personalized experience:

Listen to Your Customers
The importance of listening to the Voice of the Customer means collecting customer feedback, using speech analytics, and listening on-demand to customer conversations, and all of these sources of feedback to improve outcomes. This concept is evolving to include all of the interactions that customers have with your organization, including written communications through chat, text/SMS, and emails that are becoming increasingly popular. So, this data needs to be easily accessible to those interacting with customers directly.

Image via

Get Social
With over one million Twitter accounts created in 2012, social media presents new challenges and new opportunities as a key source of customer data. In fact, a new Aberdeen Group study on using data to deliver superior customer care finds that 60 percent of contact centers are using social media as part of their efforts. The report shows that businesses received about 200,000 customer requests over the past 12 months that originated in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Personalize It
All of the data in the world is useless if you aren’t applying it in a way that truly impacts your customers. At the most basic level, this can happen when technology automatically provides data about a customer in real time, allowing the call to be routed and handled accordingly. Using a data-driven approach, a customer whose data identifies him or her as high profile can be instantly moved to the front of the queue or routed to a more appropriately skilled agent.

“Ultimately, data is the currency of business and the foundation of the customer-driven economy,” said Jarman. If you really listen to your customers and to your data, you’ll finally achieve a more holistic view of your customer that allows you to anticipate their needs before they even have to ask.

Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the tech industry.  She can be reached at Follow her at @AmanadCicc. 
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