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Are You (Customer) Experienced? Jimi Hendrix and CX

Like most “overnight” sensations, Jimi Hendrix was not an immediate success. He burst onto the American music scene at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, after a fascinating series of events first turned him into a superstar in the U.K.

So much of what happened to Hendrix parallels the global rise of customer experience as a sustainable business differentiator.

An interesting attributes that connects Hendrix and customer experience has to do with naming conventions.  Although born with the first name “Johnny”, his father renamed him “Jimmy” at age three.  Additionally, early in his career, Hendrix was known by several stage names – one being “Jimmy James.”

In this regard, is customer experience really just warmed-over or renamed customer relationship management?  The answer is an emphatic “No.”

Much like the music Hendrix made when he hit international stardom was far different than what he played early in his career, customer experience is categorically a much different concept than CRM.  You can find a clue in the words “management” vs. “experience”. The desired business outcomes may be significantly different – and customer experience implies that it is both the means to an end and the end itself. Read More »

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Provide Service at Your Customer’s Convenience

107718_NW Infographic_04-27-15As consumers, we have many options in how we browse, research, and purchase products today.  We expect more freedom and flexibility in how we work with retail companies. Forward-looking companies strive to improve their customers’ experiences and provide flexibility without compromising quality.

However, some industries are considered conservative and rigid. Financial institutions are often seen this way. It’s ironic. Financial institutions brought us ATMs, online banking, bill payer, and generally made us more self-sufficient with our funds.

Unfortunately, areas such as mortgage lending remain high-touch and require a face-to-face meetings with customers. For banks, the challenge is that it doesn’t make sense to have an expert in every branch, which means mortgage experts typically travel among branches.  Customers may have access to a lending expert only once a week, or even every two weeks.  It’s difficult to do business that way.

Now, look at what Nationwide has accomplished in the area of mortgage lending.  Nationwide prides itself on customer service: It’s the world’s largest building society and services 1 of every 4 U.K. homes.  In order to grow and provide exceptional service to more households, Nationwide realized it would be better to
bring its mortgage experts to the customer.  They did this with video conferencing and the results have been spectacular.

Most impressive is the increase in customer satisfaction from meeting with consultants over video.  The experience and expertise remain the same, but providing experts at the customer’s convenience led to a significant improvement in ratings. And, additional business for Nationwide at lower cost.

I applaud Nationwide for not over-rotating on video.  They have successfully taken advantage of video to serve more members and bring home ownership to reality for those members on their terms.  They did this by continuing to provide “white glove” treatment to their members.

Upon arrival, customers are greeted by an employee who escorts them to the meeting room. The employee begins the video session, makes introductions, provides refreshments, and supports the process by managing documents, copies, signatures, and other branch-based tasks.

Video doesn’t replace the experience, it augments it.

There’s a saying that Read More »

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Should I Use Cisco Spark in my Contact Center?

It has been more than a year since I started using Cisco Spark. And it has been a year of learning and changing how I work with my team…and I’m still learning. My focus and passion at Cisco is customer-care technology. I’m always thinking about how to apply new collaboration technologies to customer interaction:

  • Do new messaging applications like Cisco Spark belong in the contact center?
  • Should businesses be using them to communicate with customers?

On the first question: Absolutely.

Paul Stockford of Saddletree Research and I discussed this recently in, “Hip to Be Squared,” following the announcement of Cisco Spark.

Team collaboration is the fuel of a great contact center operation. Contact centers have always been and always will be about people.  (Note: I’m a huge proponent of self-service as the first/best option for customer care. But as long as there are people, there will be a need for assisted-service contact centers).

Contact center management aims to maximize the productivity of customer care teams. And I confidently say from personal experience that Spark is a great team productivity tool. Read More »

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What to Know: Virtual Face-to-Face Engagements for Midsize Business

Have you ever imaged what your company would look like if you only employed the best and the brightest employees? Midsize business leaders, just like enterprise companies, need to recruit and retain the most capable employees. They recognize that because today’s talent is on the move, the best employees may not be local.

There is a new understanding for midsize organizations: To remain competitive, they need new ways to support engaging face-to-face virtual interactions. Midmarket organizations also recognize that as employees juggle their time to have fulfilling careers, simplifying their ability to maintain a work-life balance is also important. Let’s face it: Connecting people on a very personal level is good for business.

KO12012So how will this help my business be more successful? Collaboration technology can amplify the value of each participant’s talents and contributions. It is this thinking that has led many midsize organizations with which I’ve spoken to use collaboration technologies to engage more personally with their customers, stakeholders, partners, and others (suppliers, consultants, or specialists) regardless of their location.

To put the cherry on top, it is now easier than ever to enable your dynamic workforce wherever they are. I’ve seen midmarket companies use Cisco collaboration technologies such as Sub-Zero and Vital Images to help improve their customer and employee engagements to drive revenue and success. Read More »

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Context is Everything in Customer Care

“Let’s eat grandma!”
“Let’s eat, grandma!”

Punctuation makes a difference, doesn’t it? So does context.

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a basketball fan with March Madness on your mind, “Drive the lane!” might make you think of something a coach yells to his players. On the other hand, if you’re teaching your teenage son to drive, it means something else entirely. Context matters! (By the way, march madness also refers to the breeding season of the European hare; context is a tricky thing.)

What’s one of the most annoying things about calling a contact center? For me, it’s entering my account number to an interactive voice response (IVR) system and then having a customer service agent ask me to repeat it moments later. In his recent blog, Zack Taylor refers to this as a “Do It Again” moment. Come on, people! We put a man on the moon in 1969 (or not, if you’re a conspiracy buff), but we can’t get an IVR system to send account numbers to agents? Actually we can. But most businesses don’t because it’s been too difficult or costly. We’ll get back to that shortly. Read More »

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