Words Of Wisdom On July 4th

Since it’s the 4th of July, I want to wish everyone who is celebrating the holiday a…

Happy Independence Day!!!

In honor of the holiday, I decided to repeat my post from last year that tapped into insights from a couple of our founding fathers.

Let’s start with a quote from John Hancock:

There’s only so many priorities that you can fund. What you choose to target, you need to win.

Here’s a quote from Samuel Adams:

Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason

My take: John Hancock points to an important concept — focus — which is something I spoke about in a post about Mayor Booker from Newark, NJ and in a post called Leadership Lesson: Less Is Better.

Samuel Adams’ quote talks about the need for empathy, which is critical when dealing with customers and employees. This quote from the Cleveland Clinic captures the essence of how to think about your customer interactions: “The patient is not only an illness, he has a soul.”

When it comes to employees, this is a clear call for companies to focus on their corporate culture, which is why the first management imperative listed in my free eBook is “Invest In Culture As A Corporate Asset.”

The bottom line: Enjoy your 4th of July!

Words Of Wisdom On The 4th Of July

Since it’s the 4th of July, I want to wish everyone who is celebrating the holiday a…

Happy

Independence

Day!!!

In honor of the holiday, I decided to look back at some insights from a couple of our founding fathers.

Let’s start with a quote from John Hancock:

There’s only so many priorities that you can fund. What you choose to target, you need to win.

Here’s a quote from Samuel Adams:

Mankind are governed more by their feelings than by reason

My take: John Hancock points to an important concept — focus — which is something I spoke about in a post about Mayor Booker from Newark, NJ and in a post called Leadership Lesson: Less Is Better.

Samuel Adams’ quote talks about the need for empathy, which is critical when dealing with customers and employees. This quote from the Cleveland Clinic captures the essence of how to think about your customer interactions: “The patient is not only an illness, he has a soul.”

When it comes to employees, this is a clear call for companies to focus on their corporate culture, which is why the first management imperative listed in my free eBook is “Invest In Culture As A Corporate Asset.” 

The bottom line: Enjoy your 4th of July!

A Look Back At My First Year Of Blogging

1st Year Aniversary For Customer Experience Matters

Today is a big day. It’s exactly one year after my first post “Lessons Learned From 1,001 Web Site Reviews.”

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been doing this for a whole year. Or as the song from Rent goes, for five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. But my measurement is not in daylight, sunsets, midnights, or cups of coffee. It’s in blog posts, 184 of them!

While blogging takes a ton of time (I’m constantly looking for interesting topics and drafting posts), it’s been a great experience. Why? Because of you! Readership continues to grow and this blog now has more than 10,000 visitors per month. So I want to say thank you to everyone who has been reading, linking to, writing about, and passing along my blog.

In honor of the 12 months of blogging, I’ve picked out 12 of my favorite posts (in no particular order):

  • Experience-Based Differentiation. This is the core idea which drives my research; it also  won the best research award at Forrester. Experience-Based Differentiation, or EBD as I fondly call it, is based on three principles: Obsess about customer needs, reinforce the brand with every interaction, and treat customer experience as a competency. This remains a powerful blueprint for customer experience excellence. If you’re interested in customer experience (who isn’t?!?), then you may want to use the EBD self-test as a starting point. You can also find many other posts about EBD on this blog.
  • My Manifesto: Great Customer Experience Is Free. This post summarizes my perspective on customer experience; it’s a lot like the quality problems of the 1980s. While customer experience is not an easy situation to deal with, it can DEFINITELY be improved with a systematic effort; it just takes discipline (see EBD above). There was also a follow-on to this post called Great Customer Experience Is Free, Part II.
  • Don’t Let Profits Replace Purpose. Companies need to make profits, but here’s the dilemma: if they just focus on making profits, then they lose sight of what makes them special. Firms that lack a strong raison d’être have a hard time aligning the efforts of their employees. In a related post, I discussed how Firms Need Some Soul Searching.
  • The Holy Grail: A Link Between Customer Experience And Loyalty. I’ve been hoping to do this for a while: use data to provide the connection between customer experience and loyalty. And I finally did it. My analysis shows a high degree of correlation across the 9 industries that I examined, with the the strongest linkage for banks. That finding fits nicely with an earlier post which said that banks need to prepare for customer experience wars.
  • Trend Watch 2008 Wrap-Up. I really enjoyed writing a series of posts over the New Years break that examined trends published in The Economist, The McKinsey Quarterly, Advertising Age, Business Week, and Trendswatch.com. While I discussed 52 trends across all of the posts, this wrap-up looked at 14 that covered 4 areas: Consumer needs, online opportunities, required skills, and strategy & culture. 
  • Learning From The Good Fortune Advice Of Others. Fortune Magazine published advice from 25 famous people, and I commented on 8 of them that I really liked. There was great advice from big names like HP’s CEO Mark Hurd, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger, and Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally. But my favorite person on the list is Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsico (who I found out about in a Time Magazine article). Her advice: “Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent.”  
  • Discussing Zappos’ Culture With Tony Hsieh. As a researcher, I get to interview a lot of people. But my discussion with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos was really memorable. It started a few minutes before our call when Tony twittered that he was waking up early (7:00 AM on Memorial Day) and needed a Red Bull before he spoke with me. Tony was great and I’ve become an even bigger fan of Zappos after the call. I also wrotr about another CEO that really understands customer experience, Wachovia’s Ken Thompson.
  • JetBlue’s “Happy Jetting” Is More Than Empty Promises. After a series of posts that looked at companies trying to change their customer experience through advertising efforts (JP Morgan Chase, Circuit City, and John Hancock) it was great to see that JetBlue was engaging its employees in its Happy Jetting efforts. I also wrote about how Ford is starting to view employees as potential brand ambassadors
  • Forrester’s 2007 Customer Experience Rankings. We used responses from nearly 5,000 consumers to rate the customer experience of 112 US firms. Our customer experience index (CxPi) examined three areas:meeting customer needs, being easy to work with, and being enjoyable. The three organizations with the highest CxPi were Costco, Borders, and Barnes & Nobles. The bottom three: Charter Communications, Medicaid, and Cablevision.  
  • Amex CEO Gains Insights From Napoleon. Kenneth Chenault, Amex CEO, used a quote from Napoleon that I really liked: “The role of the leader is to define reality and give hope.” This gave me an opportunity to discuss key leadership attributes: Deal with the reality of the world, engage your employees, provide a clear vision, and maintain a sense of purpose. While I’m discussing quotes, I really liked this one from Mackey McDonald, Chairman of VF Corp: “We realized we didn’t have to come up with brilliant ideas – we needed brilliant ways of executing good ideas.” 
  • Mashup: Halloween + Red Sox + CxP. This was a unique opportunity for me to combine three of my favorite things: my family, Red Sox, and customer experience. We had a great interaction with Jason Varitek on Halloween that ended up with my kids getting his autograph. You can see where he signed my son’s World Series ticket in this post. In another mashup of my interests, I my posted about how The Colorado Rockies Embraces Its Guests.
  • The Best Of CxP Matters: Volume #1Volume #2, and Volume #3. It’s amazing how quickly time (and many blog posts) just flies by. That’s why I’ve been writing “The Best Of Customer Experience Matters” to summarize every 50 posts; they also give me a reason to reflect on what I’ve written. So I decided to bundle all three of these as one of my favorites. 

In case you’re interested, here are the 10 posts that have been read the most:

  1. Experience-Based Differentiation
  2. My Manifesto: Great Customer Experience is free
  3. Forrester’s 2007 Customer Experience Rankings
  4. USAA: A Positive Example Of Customer Experience
  5. Trend Watch #5: Trendwatch.com “8 Important consumer trends for 2008”
  6. Webkinz: An example of a disruptive customer experience strategy
  7. Five Disruptive Customer Experience Strategies
  8. Are you listening to the voice of the customer?
  9. Apple’s Truly Genius Service
  10. Trend Watch #4: Business Week “Innovation Predictions 2008″

The bottom line: If you’d like to celebrate this anniversary, send a link to this blog to five of your friends.

John Hancock Repositioning Provides Lesson About Empty Promises

John Hancock announced a new ad campaign called “Cursor” that showcases two areas: the rise of digital communications and the opportunity for financial success. It is trying to reintroduce the company to the public as a relevant and inspirational brand. Here’s how Jim Bacharach, vp-advertising at John Hancock described the campaign:

The thinking behind the campaign was to recognize where consumer sentiment is today. The unstable economy is a source of anxiety for a lot of folks. One of the key differences from what we’ve done in the past is that today, more than ever, these conversations take place through electronic media.

My take: Right below is the John Hancock homepage (from earlier this week). Other than the discussion of the new “Cursor” ad campaign in the lower right, is there anything about this page that reinforces the notion of relevance, inspiration, or digital conversations?

I didn’t bring this up to pick on John Hancock’s Website or even to discuss its repositioning efforts. Instead, I wanted to (re)make a point that advertising alone can not reposition a company.

While ad campaigns can certainly introduce new brand promises, repositioning can only occur of the company actually keeps those promises during all of its interactions. That’s why the second principle of Experience-Based Differentiation is: Reinforce the brand in every interaction, not just communications.

Without designing all touchpoints to fulfill the new brand promises, the hope for repositioning is likely to just lead to empty promises:

Probability Of Success For Branding Efforts

Positioning And Scope Of Effort

The bottom line: Don’t waste your marketing dollars on empty promises.

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