Category Archives: communication

When Should You Delight Customers?

Perhaps it seems like a bit of an obvious question. “You ought to delight customers ALL of the time!”

Funny thing is the research seems to go against that. You see, there are times when customers just want things to be easy. Hence, the rise in the idea of customer effort.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. While most folks still see customer delight as a problem solving, customer service approach, as I discussed in Customer Delight Revisited, there are plenty of opportunities to delight customers outside of trying to make up for a mistake.

But if customers want to be left alone sometimes and delighted at other times how do you know when to delight them and when to let them be?

Let me suggest a possible perspective, in terms of a siple mathmatical analogy, that you can use to determine when you ought to delight customers. If we think of customer delight as a multiplier we can start to look across any product or service offering and start to make educated guesses about where to apply effort in delighting customers. It all starts with the customers expectations.

ALL customers come to the table with a set of expectations, even if they can’t clearly articulate them. Let’s view those expectations as being characterized by four levels of effort:

  • Level 0: I expect this part of my experience to be seemless, the provider should make it effortless.
  • Level 1: I’m willing to expend some effort here
  • Level 2: I expect I will have to exert a moderate amount of effort to accomplish these kinds of tasks.
  • Level 3: I expect some faily significant effort

By way of example, paying my cell phone bill ought to be seemless. I want NO effort in interacting with the provider, however; when it comes time to configure my cell phone service I expect that I am going to exert a moderate amount of effort in determining which plan is best for me.

If we think of delight as a multiplier then where is the best opportunity for delighting the customer? Certainly not in the bill paying, the mathmatical equation, where D= delight,  would be D x 0 = 0. On the other hand if we try to delight them in the configuring service scenario we get D x 2 which yields some significant gains.

In this simple example we start to see that where a customer anticipates no effort I need to leave them alone, customer effort IS king. But, when the customer expects to do some level of work I can look for ways to surprise and delight them that will provide some pretty good returns. Some examples of the different levels of customer expectations might look something like this:

  • Level 0: bill paying, continuing service, renewing service, basic troubleshooting.
  • Level 1: Adding a service, purchasing complementary products, upsell or cross sell of products, locating a vendor web site OR locating a brick and mortar location from that web site.
  • Level 2: Configuring service, choosing from multiple product options, bundling, creating re-order templates, troubles hooting
  • Level 3: Customizing a product or service, complex configuration, design

In order to discover the best opportunities to delight your customers you can take three simple steps:

  1. Begin by mapping their experience in interacting with you from discovery to purchase, to service.
  2. Assign each step in that experience an expected level of effort. Not YOUR expectation, the customer’s expectation.
  3. Focus your efforts on the higher levels.

What ARE the steps a customers goes through in moving from discovery, through purchase, to service with your organization? Where are your highest multipliers based on expected effort?

Leadership: Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

We have family in town this week for Nate’s graduation. We’ve all been involved in sports for years as players from the time we were young, as coaches when we got older, and in the case of my father-in-law, even as administrator in athletics at the university level.

We’re were stunned this week to hear yet another story of a university that has failed a long time coach. By allowing a small group of disgruntled players who didn’t get the playing time they “thought they deserved”, backed by a group of helicopter parents who have collected their children’s participation trophies for years, encouraged by a athletic department that just wants smooth sailing, to run off a coach with 25 years tenure the university has failed.

To be clear this is NOT a Penn State situation. This is just a group of people who have gotten used to having their way at the youth level and now think they can run the show in college. Apparently they can.

We’ve heard this story a few too many time in the last couple years. When a coach consistently delivers wins and graduation rates, when a coach has developed a group of alumni fully willing and capable of funding the program, when a coach has multiple decades of investment, this is not a failure by the coach. It is a failure by the university athletic administration.

It is a failure of leadership.

How can we, as leaders, avoid looking just as ludicrous? By remembering a couple simple rules for keeping the main thing THE main thing:

1. Define it
What does success look like?
For a college coach it is wins, graduations, and fund raising. For a corporate executive is might be about top line growth, bottom line efficiencies, or people development. For a Pastor it might be nickles, noses, and congregational maturity.

In any case it is important to define success. THAT is where you should be headed. If you don’t know where you’re going you’ll never get there.

2. Defend it
Once you’ve defined success you need to be willing to stick to that course when the road gets rough. That isn’t to say we can’t change to a different target for success mid-stream, but that course change needs to be deeply considered before being made. Too often leaders change course quarterly or yearly in response to some temporary set of circumstances.

If you want to keep the main thing THE main thing you have to be more concerned with where you’re going than you are with how things are going.

3. Deliver it
Once you’ve put a stick in the ground to define direction and success, go after it with gusto! Performance reviews can almost become fully objective, did we deliver or not? The better you’ve defined success, the better you’ve stayed the course and defended that direction the easier it is to measure progress…or the reason progress has been inhibited. Deliver the main thing validates that it ought to BE the main thing.

In the case of these coaching stories the schools in question forgot all of that in favor of smoothing out the waves. The funny thing is, as any sailor knows, if you perfectly smooth out the wind and waves, you wind up becalmed and you never get anywhere.

Where have you seen leaders either fail or succeed at keeping the main thing the main thing in the midst of stormy circumstances?

Personal Note: All the best to Coach Gary Podesta. The lives you’ve changed cannot be measured solely by the number of individual players in the program. It is multiplied a hundred or a thousand fold by the lives we’ve each gone on to touch. Thanks Coach. You kept the main thing the main thing.

Two Crucial Components of Customer Service: The Word and The Will

When a product or service fails to meet the customer’s expectation they are in a state where they feel the “contract” has been broken.

As I mentioned last week when comparing Mike’s Camera and Bonefish Grill there are certain basic customer service actions that must take place in order to “make the situation right”. Today I want to look more closely at two components that make up the customer service response.

Compare these two examples:

Kid at Kohls

When my oldest son Nathan was about eight he went on a shopping trip to Kohls department store with his mom. Money in hand Nathan picked out the item he had come to purchase. With mom watching in the background Nate took his place in line at the cash register.

The customer in front of him in line was served and he stepped to the fore, item on the counter, money and coupons in hand. The woman at the register COMPLETELY ignored him, failing to even acknowledge his presence and began ringing up items from the customer behind Nathan in the line. As an eight year old taking his first shot at doing this on his own Nate was more than a little confused on how to proceed.  He even tried to speak up, “Excuse me but I think I was next”, and was STILL ignored.

At this point his eight year old reserves had been spent. Starting to tear up he moved to where my wife was in line at the next register over…and EVEN NOW the woman behind the register he had left did not acknowledge him…where he took care of his transaction.

Because we generally like to recognize good service when we get it we also take the time to point out where our expectations have been grossly missed. My wife wrote to the management at Kohls explaining the situation.

Kohls management responded promptly, within a few days, by:

  • Sending a letter of apology to my wife, explaining that they had discussed the situation with the specific employee.
  • Sending a separate letter of apology to Nathan for his having been treated poorly.
  • Including a $25.00 gift card for Nathan along with their apology.

 

Chaffed at Chipotles

A good friend of ours went into a Chipotles restaurant to get an outside meal for her father who was confined to the hospital struggling with the last stages of cancer. Her simple request, “I’d like a chicken burrito bowl but can you please split it into two portions. My dad is in the hospital with cancer and he can’t eat a whole burrito in one sitting so I’d like to be able to save some for later.”

After first dealing with a couple of employees whose English was insufficient to understand the request she was handed over to the manager who refused to split the portion into two, even after our friend offered to pay extra for the use of a second “bowl”. Beyond being unwilling to be helpful the manager even managed to look put out by the request.

Needless to say my wife once again wrote a letter. I love her for that.

Chipotles responded, after a week or two, with a letter to our friend that included:

Coupons for a couple of free burritos wrapped in a photocopied note that proclaimed:

“I call a do over.”
Though we strive for perfection
we don’t always get there.
Please accept these Burrito Bucks
and give us another chance.
We’ll be waiting for you…
fresh cilantro in hand,
(it’s the closest thing we have to roses.)

No recognition of the situation, no apology, not even a personal word or two.

These two examples also serve to highlight the two important components of balance. Let’s call these two components the Word and the Will.

The Word refers to the culpability and the apology that is offered. The Will refers to any material compensation that is given. If we look at this through the metaphor of a set of balance scales that have been shifted to the negative, the Word unlocks the scales to allow them to swing freely and the Will represents what we put on the scales to cause them to swing.

In the above examples the management at Kohls understood that both the Word and the Will were of equal importance. They took responsibility even making mention of the actions they had taken to make sure the situation was corrected AND THEY APOLOGIZED. Having thus unlocked the scales they added a $25.00 gift card. (Which is a HUGE sum to an eight year old.)

Chipotles on the other hand barely managed to take responsibility. The actual language they used and the format in which they chose to present their words all acted to minimize their culpability and thus rendered their minimalist apology even weaker. At that point had they even offered a month’s supply of free product the scales still would have been locked.

Too often organizations fail to realize that both the Word AND the Will are important. The truth is that in most cases just applying the Word comes across as a cheap apology while just applying the Will comes across as an attempt the buy the customer off without truly addressing the situation.

It’s funny how well this applies to personal relationships as well. Any examples come to mind?

Customer Service: Mike’s Camera vs. Bonefish Grill

Two critical reservations. Two failures to deliver. Two vastly different experiences.

In the blue corner Mike’s Camera.

This past week my son Nathan’s rugby team played in, and won, the Colorado state championship. I am more or less the official photographer for the team and because this was a night game I needed to rent a faster lens.

Mike’s Camera has typically served me well in that regard and although I am looking at trying another service for an event later this month I turned to Mike’s to help me out for the finals.

I reserved my typical Canon 70-200 f/2.8 via phone several days ahead of the event knowing that if Mike’s didn’t have it I could turn to the other service. They DID have it available so we arranged for it to be ready for pick up at their south store on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning I got a call from the rental dept at Mike’s telling me that didn’t have my lens!?!?  I immediately panicked, I needed it THAT NIGHT, too late to explore other options. Once my heart started again I discovered that they still had the lens available but that it hadn’t made it to the south store. I could get it, but I’d have to go to the north store which would mean about 2 extra hours of drive time.

So how did Mike’s handle their failure?

They apologized and took full responsibility admitting their mistake.
They provided a solution, the lens, even thought it came with a hassle.
They cut the rental price in half.
They allowed me to return it to the south store, an hour closer to my home.

In the brown corner Bonefish Grill

Let me start by saying we love Bonefish. We’ve celebrated a number of family milestones there and have always like the food and the service. That being said…

We were looking for a place for Mother’s Day dinner. Both my mom and Libby’s parents will be with us Sunday so we’ll need reservations for eight.

We went online this past Monday to get the phone number for the south Denver Bonefish and discovered that they now take reservations online. Our party size was accepted and out chosen time, 6:45, was available. Awesome.

Yesterday I got a call from Bonefish. Apparently they had taken too many reservations over the phone and that didn’t connect to their website which, by the way, shouldn’t take parties of eight but rest assured “we’re fixing that”, and the only time that had available was 2:00.

How did Bonefish handle their failure?

They provided and apology with a but, which we all know is no apology at all.
They took no responsibility.
They offered no solution or recompense. (Ok, you could argue 2:00 is a solution but no one eats dinner at 2:00 unless they’re over 98)
In short they had nothing.

So what’s the lesson?

When you fail, and we all probably will sometime, there are a couple MINIMUM requirements for salvaging the situation:

Take responsibility
Your “I’m sorry sir but the web site doesn’t work right” means less than nothing. That isn’t my responsibility, it’s yours.

Come up with a solution
You need for find a way to provide for the customer that you have just failed. Even if the best you can do is help them think through viable options. Bonefish is owned by a management company that has multiple chains. How about trying to locate one with availability?

Offer something in return
You’ve failed at a promise. You need to make it right. It doesn’t always have to be monetary but that does help.

Truth be told if I were the person at Mike’s the lens rental would have been free. They didn’t go as far as I would have but I appreciated that they took responsibility, came up with a solution, and offered something in return.

Bonefish not so much. I’m mad enough now, and get more angry with each restaurant I call trying to find last minute reservations, that I probably won’t go back there for quite some time. In fact I’m rather hoping that several of my social media savvy will re-tweet this post both to give Mike’s props and, even more importantly to me, help Bonefish feel the sting of what I can only call an abject failure of customer service.

Got any examples of either excellent saves or miserable failures in the world of customer service you’d like to share?

 

The Single Most Important Skill for Any Career

Noooo…it’s not the ability to be Cheesy MC guy.

My son has signed me up to come speak to his marketing class on Friday. Not a big deal, I did it for his older brother a couple years ago.

A couple of the questions include, “What does it take to be successful in your career field? ” and “What can a student start doing now to prepare for this career?”, which got me thinking.

Since I find myself more or less on my third or fourth “career” I think I can say with some level of expertise that there IS a singular skill that has been crucial for success in ALL of them. The ability to communicate. No wait, let me communicate that more concisely.

The one skill that can help propel any career forward is the ability to speak publicly. Whether you have to communicate progress to a superior, impart information to a team of co-workers, or address a crowd of hundreds of customers you’re going to have to have some level of competence as a public speaker.

Why is it then that “public speaking” consistently ranks in the top 10 things people fear most? We speak in public all the time! Those who only speak in private are typically diagnosed as being crazy in some way shape or form…or they own lots of cats.

There are LOTS of ways to answer that question but rather than taking that on allow me to provide three reminders that can help anyone either being to conquer their fear or just become a better speaker.

1. It isn’t about you.
Even when you’re telling someone about you you’re providing that information for a reason. Job interview? Not about you. It’s about them trying to find the right person. Selling a product? Not about you. It’s about them trying to solve a problem or meet a need. Speaking to a marketing class about your career? Not about you. It’s about helping them make choices about their future.

When you think about it in this way the pressure is off of you and on the information. When you realize it is about helping the audience get the information they need you can focus on the information and not worry about what they think of YOU.

2. Honesty IS the best policy.
If you’re being asked to present information to an audience there is an underlying assumption that you: a)know what you’re talking about and b) know more about it than the audience does.

If either of those statements is false admit it up front. You’ll either be let off the hook OR you’ll be given more information that may help shed light on the fact that you do INDEED know what you’re talking about.

In either case faking it is a bad idea.

3. Public speaking is a skill.
And like any other skill it needs to be practiced and polished. Even the most artful public communicators don’t just hop up and wing it every time. Even guys that seem to make it ALL up as they go, aka Robin Williams, have bits they practice and rehearse that keep them grounded in their skills.

Don’t think the way to overcome fear of public speaking, or to become a better communicator, is to merely avoid it or to get psyched up for it with a lot of coffee when forced into having to speak. Investing time in training and practice will pay off throughout every stage of your career, no matter what field.

Some of today’s headline politicians were rocketed into the limelight on the strength of a single speech. No matter which side of the political fence you’re on, even if you tend to straddle it, you can’t deny the power of being a good public communicator.

If you want to start honing your craft I CAN recommend an excellent opportunity coming up in October. Check out the SCORRE Conference.

In the meantime though…what is it about public speaking that causes you the most anxiety?

 

Customer Delight Revisited

It wasn’t all that long ago that business journals were all abuzz with the notion of delighting customers. “Creating real loyalty”, they said, “is all about Customer Delight.”

Fast forward to say…now…and delight has been eclipsed. You no longer want to delight customers, now you just want to make things easy for them. Customer Effort is now the thing that creates loyalty.

I’m not sure I agree…well, let’s be honest really…I don’t agree.

Most of what you read in favor of Effort over Delight cites studies that seem to indicate that customers don’t want “something free” they just want customer service to “be easy”. True, but myopic.

Allow me to suggest three truths of Customer Delight that I believe paint a much more colorful picture on a far broader canvas.

1. Delight starts with your product.
A simple truth but oft overlooked. You can delight customers with elegant design, innovative features, good cost to value ration and yes, even ease of use.

Some people refer to this as the “human factor”, creating products and services that don’t just “solve the problem” but bring a sense of happiness, well being, or balance to the user as well.

Obviously Apple is a leader in the art of human factor design. iPhone was SOOOO cool compared to other smart phones when it first hit the market. Even now the competition is more trying to out iPhone the iPhone than they are truly innovating.

2. Delight continues when you go the extra mile.
This is not as difficult as it seems. Simple ways to provide delight in this category:

  • How effective are your assembly instructions?
  • How comprehensive is your user manual?
  • What are your policies on replacement or repair?
  • How easy are they to find?

Providing information that allows customer to answer their own questions, and providing it in detail, has the capacity to delight customers. Yes, it is interesting on how closely this plays to customer effort, but in this case effort CAUSES delight.

My son is now driving my old Nissan Altima. I love that car. But early on I ran into a bit of a confusing problem with it. One morning, out of the blue, it wouldn’t start. I tried a couple times before it finally sputtered to life. Then, for weeks, no more problem.

Until it happened again. I can’t remember if it was cold, or water, or cold water…but there was nothing that made me think there should be a problem. I did a little digging and not only did I discover this was a randomly occurring issue for other Altima owner’s as well but, I ALSO discovered the secret code to fixing it!!

I kid you not you had to do something along the lines of: Turn the key on and off three times, turn it to the on position for 15 seconds, take it all the way out, put it back in and start normally. Apparently this resets something in the computer. Works every time.

What bugged me was that I had to find that out on the internet. I know it would go against Nissan’s grain to admit there might be an intermittent problem but I wish THEY would have had the information available for me.

  3. Delight is about exceeding expectations…sometimes.
There are times when customers expect you to be invisible. They do NOT want to have to get into the weeds on details. Think in terms of your cell phone bill. You’ve set up all the options as you’d like them and now you just want it to run like clockwork.

If the only time you attempt to delight customers is when you’ve failed at invisibility it feels like you’re trying to buy them off.

Find ways to anticipate your customers expectations and be waiting to meet their needs at a point that is down the road ahead of them.

Later this week I want to look at Customer Delight as a multiplier, but for now consider these truths and ask yourself where your best opportunities lay for elegant design, superlative support, and anticipatory solutions.

Where are your best opportunities for delighting customers today? Where would you like them to be tomorrow?

Customer Effort – Level 2: Customer Service

As I mentioned in my last post Customer Effort, the notion of making things easy for your customer, begins while the customer is still a prospect.

Most of what you’ll read around Customer Effort, and what I want to take a look at today, has to do specifically with customer service…whether that be via the web in a more self service approach or via a call center.

I don’t want to argue the relative merits of Customer Effort score just yet. While it is one of several measurements that can best be used in combination to make some guesses at customer loyalty it is also a risky measurement because it can refer to a specific instance in time rather than an overall experience.

It is also important to remember that customer effort is really applied differently in different industries.

Take a transactional service oriented business like banking, insurance, or utilities. In this case I want my provider to be nearly invisible. I want ANY interaction to be virtually effortless. My expectations for invisibility are quite high.

But now think about purchasing a configured item like a computer, cell phone service, or an automobile. In these instances I expect that my interactions may have a little more substance to them because my requests may start to run in a slightly more personalized vein. I still want the provider to know what I have but I may not have the same high set of expectations when it comes to them anticipating my need.

That being said I think there are several characteristics of any organization that set them up for success when it comes to customer effort.

1. They know me
When I log in to my account on your website, or provide my customer ID to your call center agent, I anticipate that I have just provided all the information you need to quickly call up everything there is to know about my interactions with you.  I should NEVER have to provide more information and I should ABSOLUTELY NEVER have to provide repeat information.

United Airlines is struggling at the moment trying to converge two web systems since their merger with Continental. When you log in to your frequent flyer account it can show you all your currently active reservations but you have to log in AGAIN to view the details of any of them. This is an epic failure.

Once you have my customer ID don’t ask me for my address, my phone number, or the model number of the product I’ve purchased from you unless you’re trying to confirm that I am who I say I am…even then it’s a dicey thing to ask.

2. Front End People are Empowered
I believe that the worst effort experience I have had in recent days came at the hands of AT&T. We were trying to combine my “business” cell phone account with the rest of my families “personal” account.

  • The rep in the store had to get a manager
  • The manager had to call a regional manager
  • The regional manager had to call a different kind of regional manager
  • Regional manager 2 sent it back to the store manager
  • …who had to call yet another type of regional manager

In all it took more than two and a half hours…and the bill still wasn’t right for the next two months.

The problem here was that the front end folks were not empowered to solve the problem. Don’t make your front end people call routers. The more times I have to be switched to another department, manager, or agent the lower you score on customer effort. Give the front end people the authority to think independently and solve the customer issue in one stop.

3. Information is persistent
This really should probably be the first one because it fuels the other two. I list it third because it is more system than process based and thus potentially the easiest to fix.

You can’t empower people to help me if they don’t know me and they can’t know me if they don’t have all the info at their fingertips. Your customers have multiple connections to you, web site, social media, call center, billing…each of those departments capturing information all the time. If you want to know me and empower people to serve me they have to have ALL that info.

How well do you know your customers? How empowered are your people when it comes to creatively serving your customers? Do they have the info they need?

Customer Effort – A Basic Guide

Over the last decade or so three themes have held sway over the customer experience landscape.

Customer Delight is perhaps the most commonly known. The notion of finding way to provide unexpected delight for customers.

The notion of Net Promoter and Net Promoter Score isn’t far behind. We’ve all been asked how likely it is that we will recommend a product, or service, company to a friend.

The new kid on the block though is the idea of Customer Effort. If you do a Google search on Customer Effort you’ll find a lot of interesting debate. Go ahead, we’ll wait for you.

Now, if you did that what you most likely found is a lot of articles about Customer Effort and Customer Effort Score as they relate to customer service and loyalty. Make no mistake, loyal, repeat customers are what we’re all after and at the end of this series I’ll introduce some different thinking on loyalty, but I think much of what Google turns up on Customer Effort falls short of the mark.

Customer Effort begins as a set of expectations. The customer’s expectations, not yours. You may create a customer service department that is seamless and effortless for customers and that may gain you nothing because it is what they expect all along.

Being as this is intended as a basic guide allow me to suggest several guidelines for applying the concept of customer effort.

1. Effort begins before the customer is a customer.
As I mentioned above most articles seem to focus on customer effort as a measure of customer service, but what good does it do you to make customer service effortless if a customer can’t find you to buy from you in the first place?

In an overall customer effort strategy you should look first to see how easy it is for a potential customer to find you, learn about your product or service, learn what makes you different, and decide to buy from you. I know this sounds like marketing 101 but you’d be surprised how often you can go to a web site…the first place MANY potential customers go to learn about products and services…and learn less than what you need to know to make an informed buying decision.

This piece of the customer effort pie is crucial because it is where the customer begins to establish their expectations about you and your offering.

2. Don’t overlook the FAQ
How often do you go to the web to find out something about a feature of a product, or do some troubleshooting, or learn how others use it only to discover that the best answers come from user groups, bulletin boards, or Yahoo answers?

If the company that sold me the product doesn’t appear in the first three search results I start to wonder how well they know their customers. Just the fact that many of us go to Google before going to a manufacturers or sellers web site speaks volumes to how we perceive their desire to solve our quandaries.

If you want to up the ante on customer effort you should be perusing those bulletin boards, user groups, and yes, even Yahoo answers. Take what you find there and update the FAQ on your own site. The more I know you as the provider of info the easier it is to me to come to you for answers.

Don’t make me search, make we want to come ask you.

3. Not all effortless service is good service
I once had an IT guy ask for some marketing advice on a presentation he was going to give about “significant wins” for the department in the previous quarter. The “wins” were all about performance gains, down time, information access…good techy stuff. I starred at him blankly for a moment then asked, “So where are the wins?”

Everything he had presented as a “win” was something the rest of the organization expected as a matter of course. It would have been the equivalent of Ford or Chevy coming out and saying they had a significant “win” with their new models because the mirrors don’t fly off the side of the car when you go over 60 mph any more?!?

What they had surmised was a win was them barely coming up to general expectations, expectations of which they should have been deeply aware.

Remember that effort starts with expectations. What you think is something easy to take care of your customers may think is something they should have never had to bother with in the first place.

Customer Effort IS crucial when it comes to customer service but it starts well before any service call. Make sure your customers have an easy time dealing with you from the time they first hear your name, through the time they buy, and when they finally find themselves in need of additional service you’ll have set expectations correctly.

Then all you need do is deliver.

What do you think of when you hear the term Customer Effort? What types of conversations might be going on inside your organization around CE score?

What is Your Customer’s Experience? Take 2.5

The Hotel where I have found myself residing since Monday here in Newcastle, Australia in equipt with what I refer to as the “room power off” feature. If you’ve never experienced it before it is a slotted light switch just inside the door. When you enter the room you insert your card key into the slot and this turns the power on to the room. When you leave you take your key with you, obviously, and the room powers off.

A nice energy saving feature to be sure. Except…

When you power off the room you power off the clock radio. When you power off the clock radio you reset the clock. When you power the room on upon your return the clock radio informatively tells you it is 12:00…12:00…12:00. Nice power saving feature but a hassle to have to reset the clock every time I come in the room.

Lame.

This trip is one of several I have currently booked with United Airlines. When I go to the United web site and log in I am presetned with a list of all my current reservations. I can easily click on the VIEW button next to any of them to see the detailed itinerary. And then…it asks me to log in again.

Lame.

We were wending our way down restaurant row in Newcastle the other night looking for a dining adventure. We found ourselvs attracted to a particular place based on the menu posted out near the sidewalk. As we made our way to the counter where we anticipated placing an order we discoevered that the ONLY menu available was the one posted out by the sidewalk. There was no way, inside the store, to know what was available to eat.

Lame.

Great that you a want to save me money on my room by saving power costs but ridiculous that I have to reset the clock everytime I come in the room

Great that you want to protect my information but ridiculous that you make me log in after you have already shown you know who I am.

Great that you entice me with the menu but ridiculous that you set up your establishment like a drive through without a microphone.

I’ve been working on a paper on customer experience of late which, frustratingly, has put me in a position of looking at the world through customer experience tinted glasses. In the next wouple posts I’ll be looking at the concepts of customer effort and customer delight.  But in the mean time…

What other examples do you have of poor customer experience? 

The real  irony behind all this is that WordPress failed me no less than 5 times in trying to post this…post. If I hadn’t had a series of good experiences with WordPress THIS experience would have really set me off. 

How to Create Your Corporate Story

Since we’ve already looked at WHY you should have a corporate story and we’ve looked at the elements that make up a good corporate story I thought it might be helpful to those who find themselves stuck in the desert of creative drought to look at how get started creating your corporate story.

Remember we said that this could apply to a company, a team, a small group, or even a family.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with folks around the notion of applying this to family and to me it really speaks to the notion of legacy. How do you want to be remembered? Which is where we start…

Step one in scaling the dunes towards creating your corporate story is to Start at the End.

Imagine your group, whether it be a company of your family, has, for some mysterious reason, been removed from this worlds realm. A group of celebrants have gathered to remember your group fondly, sad that you have left, made curious by the mystery, but gathered in fond remembrance. What do they say?

  • “They really went out of their way for their customers”
  • “They really had some mind-blowingly-creative products.”
  • “They really were an amazingly generous family”
  • “They really knew how to invest in friendships”

You can see how these kinds of statements lead toward a good corporate story. They lend themselves to the kind of short descriptions from which good stories are built. Phrases like: serve customers – anticipate needs,  packaged creativity, ask how we can help, build lasting relationships.

Step two in creating your story is to Make it Personal.
By simply putting a phrase like “We’re the people who…” in front of any of those statements above you start to get a defining point in your story. This is a subtle but important difference.

Growing up my dad never told the three of us boys, “I want you to be well rounded individuals” or “I’d like you to experience a lot of things”, instead he encouraged us to be renaissance men. Try out the feel of that. Compare “I’m someone who is well rounded.” which is a description, to “I am a renaissance man.” which is a definition.

Which leads us to step three. As you’re refining your story Make it Definitive not descriptive.You aren’t looking for acute semantic accuracy here. You’re looking for something that feels like a fit. “I’m well rounded” just feels like a product label description. “I’m a renaissance man” almost sounds like a song title!

  1. So first I’m thinking through what the people gathered in celebration say to describe my group and creating solid phrases from their description.
  2. Next I’m making that into a personal statement.
  3. Then I’m refining that statement so that it is a definition and not a description.

If your family, or company, moved out of the neighborhood tomorrow and for some mysterious reason lost all contact with the neighbors, when they gathered a year from now to remember you what would they say?