I’m back…and so is NPS!

If you were wondering why I haven’t posted for a while now, it’s because on top of thCCXP Logoe usual work-family load, I have embarked in the CCXP certification, which I was able to get at the end of June (yayy!).

While I was studying the CX transformations that companies went through in the past 3-4 years, which somehow revolves around “the ultimate question” to users and consumers, I sometimes raised my head and noticed that there is a big wave of Net Promoter Programs that is hitting Europe at this time. As a customer and consumer, I have been now asked the question at least 7 times from different companies in the past 2 months only, all varying from bank institutions, to airlines, mobile operators, hotels and healthcare insurances. The cutest one, was in the form of a Whatsapp mobile chat with the brand (on a web page), asking the nps question and the open ended comment. They are all asking the same thing, with different levels of variation, but having studied thoroughly what a Net Promoter program is within a company, I now realise where this is getting us.

The greatest achievement of NPS, so far, has been something no other metric within the CX world ever dared to: it was able to link emotions to revenue. Emotions come from the complex evaluation mechanism that make you, as a user, decide to recommend a brand to your friends and family. Reasons for this evaluation are so complex that relevant statistics analysis can be applied to some extend to split the subset of emotions leading to the final score. But linking it to revenue? This is the beauty of it: you can finally understand why brands that become trendy and fashionable also increase their revenues substantially and on the other side, why brands that are providing mediocre experiences are set to, basically, disappear in the mid-long term.

So the CCXP exam, or to better phrase it, the books I read to pass the exam  (suggestions in the bottom), were really eye-openers to me, as in the past I simplistically considered NPS as a quick metric, while in a serious program it’s clear that it is so much more.

And its wave is coming so strong that my recommendation to all those companies that are still sceptical or unaware of such program, is to start quickly working on it, or prepare to be out of market in a few years.

Finally this also brought some consciousness as a consumer: I now know what to expect from a serious company doing NPS. With a low or very low score, the closed loop-back process implies that I should be contacted and given voice to report my issues. It means that I am valued as a customer and that the company is keen on fixing any issue to keep doing business with me.

But wait…. what if I don’t get any feedback? 🙂

 

good NPS reading: these books were suggested to me by a nice colleague who is a true CX expert, and I have to admit they all were eye opening.

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social customer care: you’re doing it wrong!

In preparation for a customer meeting around social customer care, I am browsing through Twitter and Facebook looking for customer care requests: I can see a lot of variations of #badcx, so I thought it’d be interesting to put together a list of what NOT to do when your customers are complaining or asking help publicly via social media:

  1. If the rant is specific to a common issue that many other are experiencing, you don’t want to just respond but to show everyone how to fix the problem so that the same experience can be shared among peer customers.
  2. When a user is ranting about something that went bad with your company or product, this means that they probably already tried to contact you via phone or email and typically this is their last resort. So the ideal answer cannot be “please contact us at 800…”. The response should be immediate and in-channel. If personal information are involved, publicly switch to DM or Messenger and then try and contact the customer directly.
  3. If there is a help request that can be solved by providing technical or product information, by all means provide those info publicly! Not only the requester will be happy as cake, but the love will spread to other users that are maybe searching for the same info on your very website!
  4. When you are a large global company, sometimes issues can only be resolved at field level. This does not mean you can’t include them in the public social conversation! At minimum, you should show the customer that you have passed on the information, and they will be contacted by the local branch. Responding to go to the local store…well…reads just #badcx.
  5. Again, even if you are a large corporation with lots of department and employees, if a customer resorted to public shaming you, responding that you are “just the social media team” does not help improving the perception of your company. Consumers don’t care about your internal organization: if the social media team has your official brand, then it is the company front page as your contact centre is the front door voice.
  6. If a user is so frustrated that they posted the same comment on your timeline over and over again, it’s not enough just to respond to one: every single message is potentially dangerous and searchable, and must be addressed with care. Wouldn’t it be the same if they took the time to make 10 complain calls at your contact centre? Or would you drop the line at the second call because you already answered?
  7. And last but not least…the language. If you are a global corporation in 20 countries it might be assumed you also support the local language of your operations. Responding to a public tweet or post in a different language is not considered polite, unless you offer an explanation and at least a tentative translation with any of the commonly offered free on-line tools. Also, there are lots of translators out there, in case of lack of skilled resources.

My overall impression is that you can immediately spot when social marketing teams are responding to customer care inquiries: the language is perfect and polished, the responses look pre-approved and are always politically correct, but the results?

Companies need to start providing decent social customer care, and they can make this decision easily by just browsing their own pages and accounts today.

 

 

 

Perspective (and the guy with flip flops)

Yesterday evening I was having a fine dinner with some colleagues. A very international and diverse bunch, all with several years of experience in the CX and contact centre and telephony realms.

This guy beside me was telling a story: when he was once visiting my country with his family, the company he worked for at the time begged him to go to a customer, to fix a huge problem. He gladly accepted to help, though remarking he did not have any business wear, and so he would go there with flip flops. And shorts. He was kind of ashamed telling this, as he would not consider it very nice to go to a customer in flip flops, but had no alternative as the issue was rapidly escalating, so off he went.

While he was telling the story I suddenly realized I had been involved in that same story. Although I did not know his name at the time, he was a legend among the technical staff as “the guru in flip flops and shorts”. Everyone was in awe of how the guy presented himself, so sure of his technical skills to not need any business clothes (in a country that is mostly obsessed with clothes and appearance, sometimes even the washing machine technician is wearing a tie).

The customer back then was _delighted_ not so much from the casual wear, but from the fact that the problem was fixed in seconds and all was back to normal again. Thanks to the guy in flip flops, who then became this legendary, quirky technical guru.

Fast forward a few (many) years and now the guy in flip flops may represent your best CX experience.

When we are offered any customer experience, are we ready to skip formality in order to receive a better service? do we perceive CX quality or also its form? Do we care more about form, appearance or substance, actuality?

I personally think the times would be ready now for the guy in flip flops. 🙂

Instant CX gratification?

As users, in engaging with companies, are we more focused on the result, or on the instant gratification?

If I have to reply, I would definitely say that I’d rather have my problem fixed than a very quick, yet inconclusive, answer that will force me to prolong my CX journey.

But, on the other hand, when I contact a company and have immediate feedback – of any sort – my internal personal rating of that company raises immediately, even if the problem that prompted me to engage them is not _really_ fixed. I can hear my inner conscience mutter a lazy “yeah but..”, but cannot deny the thrill of having some sort of instant gratification, albeit for different purposes.

As companies try and find new ways of assessing their CX quality and strategy, it should be imperative that consumer expectations match the company’s offering, while often this is not the case. Consumer expectations are freight and volatile, mixed with brand awareness and the constant time constraints, so that sometimes we give a high score to a specific interaction only because of its speed and type of channel, not with the final quality of the experience. But as complexity arises, we’re no longer measuring a “first call resolution” but an entire journey that could span several channels and that is directly linked to a company KPI. The speed of answer is as important as the answer itself, mostly because we are now used to fast-everything and do not accept any sort of delay.

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What are your thoughts on this? Would you rather have instant gratification or effective resolution  from your providers? And how should CX quality be measured then?

 

The “Mobile First” dilemma

I often have customer meetings where we talk about the web part of a customer experience, and how to present information to the user. One of my first questions, once we have talked about the strategy and how the experience would flow through the CX journey is: “how is this experienced through a smartphone?”, or “what if the journey starts from a smartphone rather than a land line or a computer?”

Random Statistics:  1.2 Billion mobile web users are estimated worldwide, with some 25% of the overall web traffic being mobile.

In my experience as a user, I realize there are applications that I have never opened in my laptop browser: Uber, Instagram, Waze, Facebook messenger. The whole social media folder is now 99% of times accessed only via smartphone. I have tried the Whatsapp web extension but then thought “what the heck? I don’t really need another distraction on my screen, I already have the mobile beeping and blinking”.

There are, though, applications that I rarely or never use on a smartphone: writing this blog only happens with a proper keyboard a large screen and a huge cup of coffee, the same goes when choosing a holiday location, as I want to see large and detailed pictures of the houses I am renting, and even a Google maps tab to calculate the distance from airports and stations.

The on-line shopping is trickier: obviously, being a woman, I like buying clothes and accessories and doing it on a large screen helps with details of fabric and textures….but if I need quick shopping, as in Amazon-prime-misc-stuff-that-I-happen-to-remember-only-when-bathing-kids-or-cooking-dinner shopping, then the smartphone is my friend as it only takes a couple of clicks to get through an order and I can then forget about it until the package arrives. Blissful!

Developers who make smartphone apps spend their work day staring at a large screen and fighting with the constraints of a smaller mobile screen, so I totally understand that there might be frustration around this. There is some online discussion around mobile first design and the impression I got is that yes, you need to adapt to this new way of using the web, but large screens are still there and offer so much more features and context that sometimes it’s really tough to start with mobile all the way up. On the other hand, designing with a mobile first approach has the advantage of forcing you to disrupt, to see things differently and to (sometimes over-)simplify the experience.

A company’s customer experience does not always start from a smartphone, but typically will somehow pass through one at some point. If defining a CX journey is also helping the company to drive their customers to their preferred method, then it should be mandatory to step back and see the big picture, trying to understand if a mobile first approach will help or stop the user in their journey.

So my suggestion during the discussion is to try and picture a mobile everywhere in the journey, and see how it fits, then pick the moments where it was most useful because of its strengths (mobility, proximity, quick and easy access) compared to having a user open their laptop or computer or use different channels. Then try and make the customer’s life easier by reflecting those strengths to the wider picture and the mid-long term strategy of the business. The result is obviously never the same, but hey, have I mentioned the need to experiment? 🙂

Email as a (bad) automated service?

Dear Big Credit Card Corporation,

being a customer of yours since the late 90’s (which incidentally and sadly also gives away my age), I think I gave you enough fees to have me granted a decent customer care when my name appears today in a new card request.

Instead, I get an automated, impersonal message where it is clear that none of your (sophisticated?) systems put together that, with the same name, personal information and postal address, I am indeed the same person currently using another card.paperino

Plus, when I take the time to respond, very politely, that you should _not_ ask such stupid questions as you should just make the effort of a quick search in your own database, then the ultimate insult surfaces: another automated email, identical to the first!!!! As if your script does not even bother to check what has been previously sent!!!

Apparently there is some more automation as I then get the same email after 5 days, so this means somewhere in your systems you must know what’s going on…or maybe you are really completely in the dark and keep sending the same email over and over.

Is this a joke? Are you telling me that in twenty-fifteen you cannot join two databases and understand that the same person is requesting another card? That you, a finance institution, of all the companies, don’t have enough resources for proper customer care and a decent customer experience via email????

Dear Big Credit Card Corporation, I am so disappointed and sad, that I will just avoid answering your emails and will wait for your systems, if ever, to kick in and contact me properly. Meanwhile, please go and check around some best practices of customer experience via digital channels: this may help with your evident struggle.

Kind regards,

a customer

The unbearable lightness of a good customer experience (Einmal ist keinmal)

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One occurrence is not significant. This really sums up our feelings towards customer experience. If we happen to find the unicorn of CX, where everything runs smoothly and is fabulous and neat, we will still rant about the other 99% of occasions which left us sour-mouthed.

And why is that? I mean why can’t we brag about one nice experience and make it up for the other fails? I guess the answer is bordering philosophy and the fact that there is an intrinsic lightness to our experiences with companies and providers.

Or is it just that companies and providers are not making the effort and don’t deserve our feelings nor to be considered meaningful?

For now on, my resolve will be to spot any good CX and post it here, so it is no longer non-significant, at least for a few bytes. 🙂

Lost in survey – and 5 tips to get the most out of it

I promised to post about surveys as a lot of people periodically complain about the very existence of them. On the other hand, a well designed and well accepted survey is one of the most powerful tools companies have to understand their audience. Some guy told me, a few days ago, that not only he loves responding to surveys and expressing his opinion directly, he specifically loves long and complex questionnaires, as opposed to quick polls.

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The world is really a funny place! 🙂

So here’s 5 tips on how to push your questions out to customers and prospects:

1. Set your goal straight. even with a long survey, you need to have one specific goal in your head that you want to reach by pushing out questions (net promoter’s score, first call resolution, etc…): remember that bugging your customers for no reason is never a good idea.

2. Define your target. As the same set of questions might not apply to different demographics, also depending on the channel defined to collect responses, it is usually wise to decide what the target is, and plan accordingly.

3. Keep it short. No matter how many questions you have to ask, if it takes more than 5 seconds to read, we’ll skip to the next, and if forced to answer it might not be accurate. And remember that I only know one guy who loves long surveys…

4. Keep it simple. The lure of a complex, branched, multi-path survey might make you want to hyper-analyze every bit of information provided. But as it comes, people love simplicity, especially when performing a boring task. The more complex the survey, the higher the abandon rate. Plus the analytic of a simple survey will be refreshingly straight to the point.

5. Give rewards. You are asking my honest insight of your business and 5 to 30 minutes of my time, and you want all of this for free? C’mon, you know better than that.

Gamification of the CX

One of the most annoying things, as an engineer, was the much dreaded user acceptance test. Mostly it was horrible because in our heads all was working properly and no issue was to be perceived in our freshly designed user experience. But reality was slightly different: engineers are not the most common sample of users, sometimes our heads are much more crowded and complicated compared to other people’s. So how can we ensure that our customer journey not only conforms to the designer’s specifications, but it does so in a way that the end users can benefit those specification and actually use our designed experience in a successful way?

Just one word: gamification.

gamification

Keep the task fun and give rewards to your users and they will engage and be part of the CX more willingly:

the customer journey map: make it fun!

I mentioned in a post that we still write scripts, only today this is much more complicated with omni-channel, i.e. the ability of users to jump from one channel to the other and back, all within one interaction. This brings on the necessity of mapping all the jumps and exits from one channel to the other so that this journey is safe and protected and it never ends with a dead end or an error or missing data from one channel to the other. Does this sound fun at all? Not really. Spike it up by adding user levels to discover new channels (meanwhile they will train and become proficient in the original engaged channel), give benefits when jumping correctly from one media to the other, provide the ability to get social and brag about the engagement…

the user acceptance test: keep the fun!

and when I say user, I mean it. Not your colleagues engineers, not your boss or your friend who is a geek, you need to put the interaction out for common users who might not even have computer skills – or might have it different in their head (think of mac users 😉 ). So plan to give your “little creature” to real users, carefully review their honest feedback and make the necessary changes to keep the journey as smooth as possible, even if this includes cutting off parts of the configuration or adding “obvious” information and guidance. Make some rewards for those users who test, such as adding their suggestions, advance their level in the engagement, etc..

Remember you’re designing this for real users and the success of the application comes directly from them, not from another engineer testing it or from a score of the application design tool. Make it fun, and the users will love the engagement even when it’s not 100% smooth: heck, they’ll even want to help you bring it up to speed. 🙂

5 signs of a (very) wrong customer experience

Whenever we’re trying to get hold of a company, and regardless of the chosen channel, there are five things that define a bad experience:

1. no Consistency. I’d like very much that the same information I read on the website is the one published on the other channels, including the agents’ response. This is especially and sadly true for the public administration, where often the digital channels are not updated and the latest information is not right there, it is instead inherited from agent to agent like a bedtime story.

2. no Context. If I am browsing different channels and finally get to call the customer service, I’d at least expect them to know that I have tried other channels and possibly raise my request’s priority according to the time I am spending on the issue, not the time I am spending in the voice queue.

3. no Content. I passed the voice portal maze, the website and the app, finally got hold of a human being who doesn’t know a fit about me or my problem, or even the company I am supposedly calling, because he/she is probably working for another company in another country altogether.

4. no Care of my problem. once I gave up the self-service way and decided to interact with a human, it makes me cringe to find out how little interest the human I am contacting has towards helping me and solving my problem.

5.unsatisfied Customer. Sometimes the service is really good and the product rocks, but you still have a cranky customer that for no apparent reason will rant endlessly to and about your company.That’s just life!!

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