A Reminder About the Design of Little Things

At the Qualtrics Insight Summit in Salt Lake CIty last week, I was able to see Dan Ariely’s keynote speech. I’m a huge fan. Ariely is one of the leading researchers in behavioral economics, which is a field that influences a lot of the thinking that shows up in my blog.

Ariely shared a version of this graphic (that I borrowed from Ariely’s blog) that shows the percentage of people who sign up to be organ donors across different companies and asked the audience this question: Why do some of these countries have such high participation rates while others are so low?

Organ DonorsThe audience guessed that the differences were due to political, religious, or cultural norms. Everyone was wrong. It turns out that the differences can be traced to a simple thing: the design of the forms for becoming an organ donor. In the countries with high participation rates, the form provides a check mark for opting-out while the low participation rate countries use an opt-in form.

In other words,people demonstrated the same behavior across all countries—they did nothing. It just turns out that this common behavior had radically different results based on how the forms were developed.

Here are three key lessons from this example:

  1. People aren’t as thoughtful as we think. We generally believe that people make informed, logical decisions. But in many cases, especially when faced with complex decisions, they choose to do nothing.
  2. Forms can trump strategy. The people who develop the strategy for a company often make huge salaries and have big corner offices. But what about the people who design the forms? Do we even know who they are? But the best strategy can fall flat because of decisions about how a form is designed.
  3. Don’t forget the little things. A few years ago I introduced a concept called the Design of Little Things (DoLT), defined as “the small changes that can dramatically improve the customer experience of much larger investments.” Don’t think that deploying an experience is the end-point. Assume that you’re going to get it wrong and keep resources in place to learn and evolve.

The bottom line: Design experiences based on how people actually behave

American Airlines Site Showcases Design Of Little Things

I’m a very frequent flier and a heavy user of the American Airlines site. One of the things that has bothered me about the site is the login process. In order for my AAdvantage number to show up during my next visit, the site required me to check a box below the password. If I forgot (which happened often), then I would need to input my AAdvantage number again.

American Airlines recently changed their site to keep the box checked if it was previously checked.

My take: While the login issue was not a big problem, it certainly was an ongoing annoyance. And the solution was relatively easy.

The reason I’m pointing out this change is that it’s an example of a concept that I’ve labeled the Design of Little Things, which are the small changes that can dramatically improve the customer experience of much larger investments.

Companies need to make sure that they keep investing in finding and fixing these little things that cause customers to struggle with an experience.

The bottom line: Don’t underestimate the Design of Little Things.

The Design Of Little Things

Large companies regularly spend 10s of millions of dollars to improve their interactions with customers on projects like revamping their websites, deploying new CRM applications, replacing IVR systems, and can spend even more on redesigning their stores.

Do companies get the full benefit from those efforts? Absolutely not.

Companies obsess on major milestones like deployments, but don’t aggressively fine-tune those efforts once they go live. As a result, they don’t add the finishing touches that make things much easier or more memorable for customers. An example of this is the Marriott Marquis elevators; a $12 million system that completely confuses many guests. The hotel could use simple techniques, like signage, to significantly reduce the confusion.

What companies are missing is what I call the Design Of Little Things (DoLT); the small changes that can dramatically improve the customer experience of much larger investments. These are the ongoing adjustments that can have a huge impact. I’ve evaluated hundreds of interactions for companies and just about always find these types of opportunities.

Companies can use the Temkin Group SLICE-B methodology to uncover opportunities for DoLT; paying special attention to the “Start” and “End” categories. Here are some rich veins of DoLT to explore:

  • Provide a clear path for users to start in IVR main menus and Website homepages
  • Confirm next steps and reinforce value on confirmation Web pages for purchases and applications
  • Teach front line employees to keep from using negative words
  • Develop clear signage to help route customers to the right place
  • Eliminate jargon that customers won’t understand — from everything

The bottom line: Sometimes little things can make a really big difference

Design Lesson From… MA Department of Transportation

As you read the title of this post, you were likely thinking that there’s been a typo. Departments of Transportation (DoT) around the country have been called a lot of names, but good designers isn’t a common label. In this one case, though, I want to give a shout out for a part of the MA DoT’s roll out of MA’s new toll-less EZPass system.

1611_tollboothsbyeIn the past, if you did not have an E-ZPass transponder, you could go to a separate lane on the Mass Pike and pay a toll operator. The new system will completely eliminate the need for toll operators. If a car doesn’t have a transponder, then the system will take a picture of the license plate and charge the car owner with the toll fee plus a penalty for not using a transponder. So over time, the goal is for everyone to use a transponder.

Here’s where the design part comes in. The MA DoT is having a grace period of six months during which people who get a penalty for not using a transponder can get those fees eliminated if they get a transponder. Here’s why I think that it’s good design:

  • No matter how much the DoT tries to communicate the upcoming changes, a very large number of people won’t really understand (or care about) what’s going on.
  • The point at which many, many people will understand (and care about) the changes is when it truly affects them… when they receive their first bill with penalties for not using a transponder.
  • By providing a way to eliminate the penalties, the DoT will motivate a large number of people to get transponders — instead of just being upset with the DoT.

The key lesson here is that you need to design interactions based on how people really behave, not on how you’d like them to behave. While it would be great for everyone to understand and care about the E-ZPass changes prior to them going into effect, that would not be realistic. Most people do not pay attention to situations until they are directly affected by them. In this case, that moment is likely on the arrival of their first bill. So it is critical to design an experience around that moment which drives the behavior that the MA DoT is looking for — getting an E-ZPass Transponder.

In order for this part of the program to really work well, it is critical that those initial bills be designed to clearly communicate the option to eliminate the fees, and provide a simple path to do so. If not, then forget everything that I’ve said about good design; it will be a poor experience.

The difference between success and failure at this point comes down to what I’ve called the Design of Little Things (DoLT). All too often, people get the big things right, but fail to obsess about the DoLT that will make or break the experience.

I will be going through some toll booths without a transponder so that I can see what the experience looks like. If I find something interesting, then you might see a follow-up post.

The bottom line: Design for how people really behave, and obsess about little things.

Design Experiences to Nudge Consumers

An ever-increasing body of scientific evidence indicates that humans are not completely rational decision-makers. Instead our default is to make decisions intuitively at the subconscious level, only later engaging the reasoning part of our brain to justify the choices we made. Consequently, our decisions are biased and at times easily influenced by environmental cues.

I just read an  interesting article in the New York Times “Nudged to the Produce Aisle by a Look in the Mirror” that describes efforts to capitalize on the way humans make decision and “nudge” consumers to choose healthier options in supermarkets. Here are some of those techniques:

Researchers placed mirrors in grocery carts, offering customers a glimpse of themselves as they shop for food.

  • Why it works: The mirrors provide shoppers with a “splash of reality,” keeping their physical appearance at the front of their brain as they decide which foods to purchase. This encourages customers to eat healthily because it makes them consciously consider their choices, engaging the rational decision-making processes.

Researches in Virginia used a strip of yellow duct tape to divide shoppers’ baskets in half. A flier in the basket then encouraged customers to place fruits and vegetables in the front half of the cart. Produce sales jumped from an average of $3.99 per purchase to an average of $8.85!

  • Why it works: While everyone is aware that junk food causes health problems, shoppers often conveniently forgot or ignore that fact when faced with an array of tantalizing sodas and chips. By delineating half of the basket to produce, researchers can subtly highlight what a small proportion of customers’ purchases are actually fruit and vegetables. Shoppers get a wake up call when 4/5 of their basket is filled with unhealthy food.

Researchers in El Paso also attached placards to the inside of shopping baskets that informed shoppers of how much produce the average customer bought (5 items per visit) and which produce items were most popular (banana, limes, and avocados). Produce sales increased 10% by the second week.

  • Why it works: Unlike the previous two examples, this tactic makes no effort to engage reason, rather it harnesses one of our intuitive biases—conformity bias. Our brains like shortcuts, and in order to skip unnecessarily lengthy rational calculations, our minds tend to assume that if other people do something we should do it too.

Researchers in El Paso have also put down mats on the grocery floor with giant green arrows leading customers towards the produce section. While studies indicate that most shoppers in retail stores head to the right, when these arrows were laid down people followed them left towards the fruits and vegetables 9 out of 10 times.

  • Why it works: The brain is usually at low involvement during grocery shopping excursions, leaving it susceptible to subliminal messaging. During such mindless activities humans default into taking the path of least resistance. If arrows are prodding you in a certain direction, even if it logically doesn’t make sense, your feet will follow.

Grocers tend to place items they are most motivated to sell at eye-level.

  • Why it works: Unsurprisingly, studies show that eyes naturally linger straight ahead and most frequently return to that part of the shelves. The overabundance of choices offered in today’s grocery stores increases the mental cost of shopping. So rather than spend hours examining all 200 ketchup options, shoppers tend to go for the easiest, most accessible option—which is usually the one right in front of their face.

Grocers often shelve the same product in multiple areas throughout the store in order to boost sales.

  • Why it works: Humans best recall events or objects that occur frequently, so an increase in product exposure means that the product will stand out more vividly in the shopper’s mind, which increases the chances of them purchasing it.

Grocers will put all the ingredients for a single meal in one spot to encourage shoppers who are maybe less creative or comfortable in the kitchen to buy multiple items.

  • Why it works: This tactic encourages shoppers, especially ones in a hurry, to spend more money as it encourages them to believe that they actually need more products than what they originally intended on buying.

There are a couple of lessons from these examples:

  1. Just because human’s often make gut-decisions, they don’t ignore reason all together. By encouraging customers to actually think through  decisions, you can engage the rational part of their brain that usually takes a back seat to intuition.
  2. Rather than trying to change the way customers make decisions, you can try to appeal to the intuitive part of people’s brains by providing clues in their environment.

The bottom line: Sometimes the subtle design of little things can make a huge difference

CX Mistake #3: Neglecting Experience Design

In this series of posts, we examine some of the top mistakes companies make in their customer experience management efforts. This post examines mistake #3: Neglecting Experience Design. Companies focus on the basic requirements of an interaction but ignore the elements of design that can make the difference between customer anger and customer delight.

The lack of good design can be see in this quote by Adam Greenfield, a former head of design direction at Nokia:

The engineers at Nokia brag about the number of megapixels a new phone has. But they don’t understand that if you can’t find the button to use the camera on the phone, it doesn’t matter how many megapixels it is.”

In a recent study, we found that 74% of customer experience professionals think that customer experience design is important or critical for their company, but only 34% think that their firm is good at it.

Why is design deficiency so widespread? Because companies convince themselves that they’re taking care of customers when they painstakingly define and measure themselves against meeting functional requirements. What this left brain centric approach misses is that functional needs represent only one of three components of an experience. Experiences are also made up of three components, so accessible and emotional components are often ignored.

Here are some tips for avoiding this mistake:

  • Identify key moments. Even though most companies can’t replicate the design skills of Apple across everything they do, they still need to apply good design for important interactions. Companies should identify the key moments that influence customers and commit themselves to applying good design principles to those moments.
  • Get design help. Good design is not accidental, it requires the right skills. Recognize your limitations and bring in a design team to help in critical areas if you don’t have those skills on your team.
  • Plan to test and iterate. It’s often impossible to predict exactly how people will respond to a new experience—whether it’s a call center script, website design, or retail display—so you need to allot time and money for making incremental changes on key moments. Make sure to factor this into your budget and schedule.
  • Set accessible and emotional goals. Every key moment should have defined requirements for how easy it is for customers and how those customers feel about it afterwards. Don’t consider the design of the experience complete until you’ve reached those goals, even if you’ve delivered on all of the functional requirements.
  • Find the little things. When Marquis Marriott in NYC spent more than $10 million to change how its elevators operated, consumers were regularly confused. It didn’t need another massive overhaul, just a small investment in signage. That’s why companies should constantly look to apply what I call the Design Of Little Things— the small changes that can dramatically improve the customer experience of much larger investments.

The bottom line: Companies may not appreciate good design, but customers do

Hospital (Almost) Provides Valuable Patient Status

In a recent visit to a hospital, a member of my family spotted this patient status screen. It’s a great concept, keeping family members up to speed on the status of their beloved patient as he or she is in surgery. While it’s a wonderful idea, the design falls flat. Take a look at the confusing status items:

1506_TuftsPatientStatusThis is an example of what I call the Design of Little Things (DoLT). So many organizations invest in good ideas, but fail to do the little things that will create a really positive experience for customers. It’s like running a marathon and then giving up right before the finish line.

In this case, the idea of a real-time status screen is great, but the hospital needs to provide status items that are meaningful for family members in the waiting room. All it would take is one more tweak and this would be a wonderful tool.

The bottom line: Don’t neglect the DoLT


Domino’s Misses Customer Experience Mark

After we released the Temkin Experience Ratings for fast food restaurants, a Business Insider report asked Domino’s to comment on the pizza giant’s ranking (15th out of 19 fast food restaurants). Here’s how a Domino’s representative responded:

We’re the only restaurant chain of our size in the U.S. that has experienced seven consecutive years of positive same store sales growth and we’ve been rated the best-tasting pizza by independent research of all the national brands. We believe those mean something.

That response wasn’t directly related to customer experience, but we at Temkin Group were intrigued by the Domino’s claim to have the best tasting pizza. Since it was lunch time, and we were hungry, we put the claim to the test.

We enjoyed customizing and ordering our pizza online, which Domino’s estimated would be in our hands in approximately 33 to 43 minutes. After we placed the order, it was fun watching Pete the Pizzamaker keep track of the flow of our two pies. The experience started out great as we watched our pizzas progress from “order placed” to “prep” to “bake” to “quality check.”

Then our lunch took a turn for the worse, as our pizzas remained in the “quality check” for more than 20 minutes, more time than it took to cook them. What was the matter, what had happened to our customized pizza? Was there a quality problem? Did our pizza fail some important tastiness check? Was a corporate task force being called in to fix our lunch?

My best guess is that the pizzas were just sitting there until they were picked up by the delivery person, so that Pete the Pizzaman could change the status to the final stage “order has been delivered.”

Our pizzas finally arrived after 71 minutes, well beyond the promised 33 to 43 minutes. And, they were cold.

I shared that story in order to discuss the survey that Domino’s asked me to fill out. It demonstrates some good examples of survey design practices to avoid. Here’s the survey…

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 5.05.35 PM

I want to discuss two of the questions on the survey:

  1. Was your delivery driver Julio both punctual and polite?
    • Our pizzas were a half an hour late, so no way was Julio punctual. Was he polite? Sure. This survey question is making a common mistake, it’s asking for a rating of two things in one scale. In this situation, each of the items has a different rating. Given the wording of the question, I answered this with one star (we were very hungry when it finally arrived). How will Domino’s know what to do with this data? They’re likely to mis-interpret it and blame Julio (which is why I added a comment).
  2. Did Pelen make your order accurately and bake it to perfection?
    • First of all, I was disappointed to find out that Pete the Pizzaman did not actually make our pizzas (who the  heck is Pelen?). Once again, Domino’s is asking a compound question. The ingredients were correct (so yes on the first part), but it was cold (so no on the second part). Maybe I shouldn’t blame Pelen for the pizzas being cold, but the customer isn’t responsible for identifying who to blame. The question asked about it being baked to perfection, which it wasn’t.

I don’t know what caused the service breakdown with our pizzas, but I also don’t think my numeric answers to those specific questions will help Domino’s understand what happened. The data could be used to blame Julio for not being polite or to show that Pelen made the wrong pizza, both of which are inaccurate.

As you can see, companies need to think through the specific way they ask for feedback. Even poorly designed questions provide data, but the results can easily be misinterpreted.

So, what about Domino’s claim to be the “best-tasting pizza?” There may be studies supporting that assertion, but it did not match the findings from our little “focus group.” Having said that, we did enjoy our lunch with reheated pizza and a hearty discussion about Domino’s customer experience.

Three Ideas to Re-Humanize Patient Experience

I was recently interviewed for an article that discusses a post where Fox News journalist John Stossel describes his experience as a lung cancer patient at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

First of all, I hope that Stossel’s treatment is successful. And although I don’t fully agree with his analysis of the industry, I do agree with his observation “…I have to say, the hospital’s customer service stinks.” Yes, there is a problem with patient experience.

I’m reminded of this picture from a post that I wrote in 2009, which comes from Cleveland Clinic’s 2008 Annual Report.


With all of the focus on costs and liabilities, the medical system has forgotten about the soul of the patient. It’s become dehumanized.

The wellbeing of a patient often takes a back seat to rigid processes and procedures, and there’s little understanding of how to help patients make increasingly important financial/medical trade-offs. It’s not that doctors, nurses, and hospital staffs don’t care. It’s just that the entire system has conspired to de-emphasize humanity.

This problem is not unique to healthcare. In research that we did in 2013, we found that only 30% of employees have what Aristotle called “practical wisdom,” the combination of moral will and moral skill. This is the capability that Barry Schwartz explains is critical for infusing humanity within organizations.

While there are many structural issues in U.S. healthcare (which I won’t go into here), there are still many things that can be done to re-humanize the patient experience. Here are some ideas:

  • Apply better experience design. Health care leaders should learn and apply the the principles of People-Centric Experience Design: align with purpose, guide with empathy, and design for memories.
  • Develop a value mindset. As patients take on more of the direct financial burden for healthcare, doctors must do more than recommend treatments and procedures. They must help patients understand the value of those activities, so that they can make smart financial/medical trade-offs.
  • Build decision-support technology. Patients should be able to understand the efficacy and full costs of the treatments and procedures that they are being asked to “purchase.” Health plans need to take the lead in providing tools for making this information transparent, and empowering patients to make better decisions.

The bottom line: It’s time to re-humanize healthcare


100 Customer Experience Tips in 105 Characters (Or Less)

I’ve decided to take on a personal challenge: Tweeting (@btemkin) a new customer experience tip for 100 straight days.

100CXtips_v2After accounting for the overhead in each tweet (like links back to this post), I’m only left with about 105 characters. Hopefully I can keep up the pace and pack insight into that limited space. I’ll be using the hashtag, #CXtip, so you can follow me on twitter (or just keep coming back to this post).

The tips will cover the four customer experience core competencies: Purposeful Leadership (PL), Compelling Brand Values (CBV), Employee Engagement (EE) and Customer Connectedness (CC).

Here are the 100 #CX Tips:

  • #CXtip 1Examine #insights for #customers’ journeys, not for individual, siloed interactions. (CC)
  • #CXtip 2: Engaged employees are extremely valuable assets. They’re worth even more of your investment. (EE)
  • #CXtip 3: You can’t fake it. Assume that customers & employees will always figure out what’s real & act accordingly. (PL)
  • #CXtip 4: Great #brands are built on making, embracing & keeping promises, so be clear about your #customer promises. (CBV)
  • #CXtip 5: #CustExp encompasses success, effort, & emotion. They all impact loyalty, but #emotion rules. (CC)
  • #CXtip 6: Don’t waste customers’ time asking them questions unless you are prepared to act on what they say. (CC)
  • #CXtip 7: #Employees are more #engaged when you ask for their feedback and act upon what they say. (EE)
  • #CXtip 8: Build commitment by appealing to #employees’ hearts, shared values & intrinsic motivations. (PL)
  • #CXtip 9: Not all customers are the same. Stop treating them as if they are. Think of using #personas. (CC)
  • #CXtip 10: What people experience is not what they remember; so take advantage of how people remember things (CC)

Read more of this post

2014 Temkin Group CX Vendor Excellence Award Winners

Watch this blog and my Twitter feed for an announcement about the 2015 CX Vendor Excellence Awards in January

CEVendorAward_logoToday we announced the results of the 2014 Temkin Group CX Vendor Excellence Awards. Once again we had a great group of nominees, making the scoring difficult for the judges. Congratulations to this year’s winners:




Also, congratulations to the finalists: Confirmit, Enghouse Interactive, Mindshare Technologies, Qualtrics, and Walker.

In its second year, these awards recognize companies that provide products and services that help companies improve the customer experience they deliver. Nominees are rated based on their capabilities, results, and client feedback.

The CxVE Awards were judged by five noted customer experience experts: Mila D’Antonio (Editor-in-Chief at 1to1 Media), Denise Bahil (CX Transformist at Temkin Group), Desirree Madison-Biggs (Director of Customer Experience Insights & Advocacy at Symantec), Rick Meyreles (VP – Global Voice of Customer, World Service at American Express), and Bruce Temkin (Managing Partner & CX Transformist at Temkin Group).

I’ve included the first two section of the nomination forms submitted by the eight winners and finalists. Read more of this post

Key Ingredient for CX Innovation: Love

How can you create value for your customers and your organization? Innovate around your customer experience. Here are some examples of different ways to uncover CX innovation ideas:

Look for opportunities to add value around customer lifecycle events.

  • Sovereign Assurance NZ’s research showed that many new parents don’t have the time to review their life insurance, but after having a new baby, it’s more important than ever to have some life insurance. The company developed a program called “Choose Precious” that offers new parents $10,000 free life insurance up until their baby’s first birthday. New parents just need to register at chooseprecious.co.nz before their baby is six‐months old. The company also rolled out its “Breathing Space” offering. Recognizing that buying a home is a big deal and that it’s difficult to get the attention of home buyers, the company offered them $25,000 free life cover for 90 days to provide interim protection until they have the time to consider their longer term protection needs.

Think about your customer’s journey before and after they interact with you.

  • If a USAA member calls in to change his address, the reps are trained to understand why and deal with bigger issues. For example, if the call is from a soldier who is about to be deployed, then the rep might check to see if the member has thought about items such as a will, power of attorney, and life insurance. The USAA employee might even put a hold on the member’s car insurance, so the soldier doesn’t have to pay for an unused car while he’s deployed.

Identify problems related to how customers use your product, even if they’re not issues with your product.

  • An insight into how people take medication helped Walgreens roll out a system called GlowCaps, which puts a glowing cap on pill bottles. It lights up when the bottle isn’t opened at the right time, then gives an auditory warning, then triggers an automatic phone call to remind the patient. It can also send reports to the patient’s doctors and remind the patient when it’s time to refill.

Use analytics to predict next steps and proactively help customers.

  • Sprint uses a technique called Next Call Prevention. Here’s how it’s described in a 1to1 Blog: “Regardless of why a customer calls the telecom’s contact center, a customer service agent can offer to help with something else that the customer might call about in the near future–based on prompts queued from predictive analytics. If, for instance, someone whose contract is about to expire calls about a billing question, once the issue is resolved the agent could offer to arrange an upgrade to a new handset. This not only delivers a better customer experience, it also reduces costs and potentially increases sales and retention.”

Solicit ideas from employees, especially those who interact with customers.

  • Telus created a platform for internal collaboration and idea exchange called “Habitat Social,” which combines micro-blogging (“Buzz”), blogging, video sharing (“Habitat Video”), personal profile pages, and a virtual world environment. The platform brings together a mix of employee-created content that supports learning efforts, company culture, and employee experience. Within Habitat Social, team members also engage in company-wide conversations about customer issues, share ideas and best practices, and identify ways to delight customers by delivering on the company’s Customers First promise.

Examine how customers actually behave.

  • Supermarket chain Ralphs installed technology called QueVision, which uses infrared cameras to measure foot traffic in its markets. The system tracks body heat  to figure out how many customers are shopping at any given time. This information helps managers cut down on lines by redeploying workers to the cash registers when things get busy. The technology has trimmed the average time it takes to get to the front of the line to roughly 30 seconds from the national average of four minutes.

Look at experiences through the eyes of specific customers.

  • CVS uses a technology called AGNES (developed by the MIT AgeLab) which stands for stands for “Age Gain Now Empathy System.” It’s a jumpsuit that allows the person wearing it to feel what it’s like to be in your mid-70s. Bungee cords anchored to the helmet and hip restrict movement and rotation of the spine, and elastic bands from hip to wrist reduce shoulder mobility. Based on what it learned form AGNES, CVS will be making store design changes such as putting carpeting on the floors in stores to reduce slick-floor slipping and adjusting the height of checkout counters to require less bending and lifting.

No matter what approach you use to spot CX innovation ideas, it’s important that you nurture them along the way. Here are the steps that I recommend you follow to raise the likelihood of success: Who/Want/Love/Fit/Test.

  • CXInnovation3 140bWho: Have a clear picture of the exact type of person you are focusing on with your innovation effort. Without this clarity, you may end up making decision that compromise the ultimate experience. Design personas can be a very useful tool in this stage.
  • Want. The innovation should meet some unmet need, whether the customer knows he or she has it or not. To make sure you’ve found something real, articulate what the customer wants by completing these types of sentences: “I would really like to…”
  • Love. As you develop different options and prototypes, identify specific elements of the experience that you think the target customers will absolutely love. Complete statements like this, “Our customer will love…” You will need to deliver on these elements in order to help drive adoption.
  • Fit. Just because customers want something doesn’t make it a good thing to do. Only move ahead with options that fit with your business. How can you tell? Pick the efforts where you can say “yes” to all of the following questions: 1) Can you deliver it consistently? 2) Does it make financial sense? 3) Can you outperform the competition? 4) Is it consistent with your brand?
  • Test. I can’t urge you enough to prototype as early and as often as possible. This allows you to crystalize your thinking and incorporate feedback along the way. But the key thing to test for is the love. Make sure that your target customers don’t just like what they see, but they love at least parts of it. Keep iterating until you find the love. Sometimes it just takes a few little things.

The bottom line: Make sure there’s love in your CX innovations


This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Blog Carnival “Celebrating Customer Experience.” It is part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day. Check out posts from other bloggers here.

10 CX Mistakes to Avoid

This page provides additional information for people who have read the eBook: 10 CX Mistakes to Avoid: Advice for Improving Your Customer Experience Efforts.

The eBook references a variety of Temkin Group research and blog posts. Here are links to many of those resources:

You can also sign-up for the CX Matters Monthly Journal.

10 Customer Experience Resolutions For 2012

For the past four years (2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011), I’ve published customer experience resolutions and it’s time to do it again. In memory of Steve Jobs, I’m using his quotes to provide a foreword to the 2012 resolutions:

“Passion can be an extremely powerful transformational force”
“Design [and CX] isn’t something you can just layer on to a product, it needs to be integrated throughout the process”

Some of the resolutions are new while others are repeated from last year. They are meant for CX professionals within companies that are making progress on customer experience. With that in mind, here are my 2012 CX resolutions:

  1. We shall actively engage our employees, relentlessly communicating and celebrating customer-centric behavior. Employee engagement remains the lowest scoring CX competency. We need to keep in mind the 4th Law Of Customer ExperienceUnengaged Employees Don’t Create Engaged Customers and embed customer-centricity into how we hire, train, and promote employees.
  2. We shall make more customer-insightful decisions, embedding insights from voice of the customer (VoC) data in the day-to-day activities af many, many more people. It’s not good enough to collect feedback; we need to help our organization incorporate the insights into its ongoing operations. How? Master the 6 Ds of a VoC program: Detect, Disseminate, Diagnose, Discuss, Design, and Deploy. To succeed, we will need our organization to abandon its obsolete beliefs about market research.
  3. We shall stop ignoring new customers, ensuring that they don’t get lost during — and beyond — the on-ramping processes. We can no longer think of the point of sale as the finish line of success. Instead, we need to measure our effectiveness at leading customers to the point of value where they experience that value they are expecting. Remember, new customers want to love you but they are willing to hate you. So we need to consider doing a CX redesign of our on-ramping processes to lock in customer delight.
  4. We shall put CX metrics on the scorecard, helping our leaders understand trade-offs between CX and business metrics. Since only 19% of large companies are good at making trade-offs between financial and CX metrics, we need to raise the visibility of CX metrics so that our executives discuss them in the same light as other business drivers like sales, profits and market share. We don’t expect our company to prioritize CX over all other metrics, but we need to keep our company focussed on the long-term value of good CX.
  5. We shall anticipate customer needs, using text and predictive analytics to spot trends and discover latent desires. Our company has an immense volume of unstructured customer feedback data from sources like comments on surveys, inbound emails, call center conversations, and social media conversations. We need to analyze this unstructured data together with other structured data to predict what customers will want and to discover and respond more quickly to trends that we spot. Our contact centers are a rich environment to work on this resolution.
  6. We shall energize our brand promoters; going beyond just fixing problems of unhappy customers. While we must keep working to eliminate detractors, we also need to find ways to make more customers love us and encourage our promoters to spread the word. Once we identify our promoters, why don’t we target them for word-of-mouth campaigns.
  7. We shall disseminate good experience design, getting our organization to focus on all touch points that affect our customers’ experience. We need to make sure that we understand how customers view their interactions with us, including things like instructions and monthly statements, so we can spot even the little things that make it easy for customers to work with us. We need to invest in making improvements after launching new customer-facing efforts like Websites, retail outlets, and call center scripts; hunting for and eliminating the things that make customers struggle.
  8. We shall join the CXPA.orghelping to propel the customer experience profession. The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) is a global non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of customer experience management practices. We need to join in order to learn from and share with other CX professionals and ensure that our profession will thrive.
  9. We shall celebrate our progress in 2011, taking time to recognize all of the great things that we’ve accomplished and acknowledging all of the people who have helped make it happen. We need to continuously look for and applaud successes so that people contributing to our customer experience transformation feel good about their efforts.
  10. We shall take another step in 2012, overcoming whatever hurdles get in the  way of advancing our evolution towards becoming a customer-centric organization. Since the number one obstacle to customer experience success is “other competing priorities,” we need to keep our executive team focused on keeping this multi-year journey a top priority.

The bottom line: Good luck on propelling your organization’s CX journey in 2012!

What I Learned From Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs passed away today and the world lost a great visionary, designer, architect, and technologist. He truly changed the world… for the better!

I recently wrote a couple of posts about Jobs: Customer Experience Lessons From Steve Jobs and Stop Listening To Customers… Sometimes. To honor his passing, I want to share some additional thoughts about what I’ve learned from him:

  • Passion can be an extremely powerful transformational force
  • Great architecture requires a singular vision to align the 1,000s of little decisions
  • Design isn’t something you can just layer on to a product, it needs to be integrated throughout the process
  • Great design can motivate people to try new things
  • Customers can’t easily articulate their desires, especially for new technology
  • Simple and easy is a wonderful design goal
  • Every device has a primary objective that should never be compromised
  • When it comes to design, every little thing counts

The bottom line: Thank you Steve, you will be missed but not forgotten. R.I.P.

P.S. I loved the way that President Obama described Jobs: “…Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it…”

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