Business, Customer Experience, Retail, Service Design

WHITEBOARD: In Pursuit of the Services of Things.

May 27, 2013
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I am starting a new section for the blog called, WHITEBOARD. It dawned on me that there are frequently very interesting topics that show up on whiteboards during (and after) working hours and I suspect that many are blog-worthy. 

 


Today the topic is how The Internet of Things, all those myriad of devices that connect through the internet, is now becoming dependent on The Services of Things, as it is being called.

[VIDEO: STEPHAN FERBER – Director of Communities & Partners Networks, Bosch Software Innovations. Besides doing a very good job of explaining the concepts behind the Internet of Things and Services, the gentleman can write backwards astonishingly well!]

The thinking behind this shift is that for many of these devices it is not enough to simply connect to the internet, they need to provide a demonstrable service that adds value over time and in a variety of contexts.

What got me thinking about this was a post by Pascal Portelli, called The Internet of Things Needs a Mother Tongue. We recently installed a Nest in our home, the internet-enabled thermostat which is exponentially cooler than my description would lead you to believe. Sure, it certainly looks sweet  (not trivial) but it also learns our behavior and adjusts heating and cooling to the most efficient way possible and it does it across time and in differing circumstances and contexts. That’s a service, not just a product and consider the astonishment Honeywell must have felt when they witnessed someone enter their market with a product + service offering! Nest is a game-changer and a harbinger of things to come. Product manufacturers will need to look at attaching services to these products rather soon.  So, yes, the product does connect to the internet so it is part of The Internet of Things but it also is a learning system, a service which makes it part of the Service of Things. And, yes, I also use Jawbone UP, Withings scale and blood pressure monitor, Ambient Devices Weather Station and several other products that also have begun to offer something looking very much like services. San Diego Gas & Electric has embraced the Green Button open data initiative which allows customers to engage in a level of service management never seen before from a utility company. If you start connecting the dots between the Green Button initiative, Nest thermostats and a cornucopia of desktop, mobile, tablet, and television screens, you begin to see the Services of Things coming to life.

To further clarify the importance of understanding of the notion of service think of an insurance company. They offer what they call “insurance products” but are they really in the product business? I would say no, they certainly have specific products they offer but from a customer perspective they are a service business. How do I become educated on the insurance you offer? What is it like to buy from you? What happens when I have a problem? And what is the experience if I file a claim with you? All of those are service touchpoints that can be fumbled by a company believing that they only sell a product.

Perhaps this is a good time to point back to the discipline of Service Design because when talking about The Services of Things we are talking about consistent and cohesive interactions over time  and regardless of touchpoint or device. So, in essence, this is where Customer Experience, Service Design, and things like customer journey maps become centrally important because we are really looking at products that provide services rather than just a product that has the ability to connect to the internet.

Stefan Ferber notes, “In the field of mechanical and plant engineering, consider the advent predictive maintenance. When a machine is filled with sensors, it can know what condition it is in and, whenever necessary, initiate its own maintenance.”

 

Tim Walters, writing in The Digital Pulse of the Digital Disruption says, “Whatever three letters you use to name it – WCM, WEM, WXM, CXM, CEM, or WTF – the time has come for a fundamental paradigm shift in how we envision and talk about relating to customers and prospects via digital assets. And most importantly, how we organize to make it happen.

Let’s jump back to Pascal Portelli’s article on the need for a universal mother tongue, “The Internet of Things will stay restricted if it does not transform itself into what we call the Services of Things. In the end all these connected objects must communicate and share information, content, and status with each other to deliver intelligent and ambient operations that really are the future of the connected home. This is really exciting because devices can be more than connected – they can all be interconnected and speak with one another”.

But interoperability is a gating factor here. Portelli correctly points out that there are currently connected devices using disparate and oftentimes competing technologies, operating systems, and language protocols and this is starting to become a problem as we anticipate the service requirements people will demand in the very near future.

OK, so what do we have here? I am a consultant so, naturally, I believe that everything can be explained with either a venn diagram or a 4 x 4 matrix. Just kidding. Not really.

Venn diagram of devices and services

 

If my hunch is correct we are at the dawn of a lot of work for a lot of people. The intersection of the venn diagram, above, means that as people get more and more internet-enabled devices in their homes, their cars, at work, and heaven knows where else, they are going to insist that these devices are not just products they have purchased but services. And that, in turn, means that the whole outside-in revolution where companies look at their products and services from the outside-in, like a customer (customer experience) suddenly comes front and center as does the need for content management systems and data integration programs that support all this…and the crushing need for something somewhere that somehow provides seamless interoperability between all these devices.

Portelli mentions Qeo when talking about creating a software framework for connected devices. [Their site explains the concept well.] These are still early days but by using a publish/subscribe protocol any Qeo-enabled object or application can share its status, its actions, its content or anything else that has been decided to be published to others that have subscribed to it. He uses the example of a video doorbell that can share its camera so that a visitor can be seen by any active screen within the home, or even your mobile screen, when it rings. Or imagine that you received a video call on your tablet and then transferred it immediately to a video screen. But beyond that, there is the possibility of connected objects to services that aggregate useful information during the day, interpret them and propose automated task. That’s not just a product, that requires services.

Tim Walters encourages us to think about experience. The concept is derived from the notion of learning by doing and by testing – knowledge gained by trial. Experience takes place across time and in various places, or at least, in differing circumstances and contexts. Think about yourself as customer, are you looking for a consistent and cohesive interactions over time and regardless of touchpoint or device? Do you seek context and task-appropriate assistance? Do you want real-time social support? Yes, of course you do and that is what customer experience, service design, and design thinking are all about.

According to a study undertaken  by the Institute of Technology Management at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, the services attached to these devices create a value an order of magnitude greater than a device alone. Ferber remarks, “Consider the example of a paper making machine, they note that the sale of the machine itself generates a margin around one to three percent, while selling a related service yields five to ten times as much.”

There is much work to be done.

 

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Business, Customer Experience, Retail, Service Design, Shopping, User Experience

Making Customer Experience Personal. One Person at a Time.

May 19, 2013
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These are early days for Customer Experience.In the same way a gardener is sometimes surprised at what bursts forth from the ground, customer experience is beginning to take form in front of our eyes. We are still figuring out what the difference might be between customer experience, user experience, usability, omni-channel, cross-channel, and multi-channel so we have to take care not to wander too deeply into the world of buzzwords and biz speak when we try to talk about the very human relationships of customer experience.

Where I work we have created a slide that takes a position on each of these topics just as a conversation-starter with prospects and clients. This serves two purposes; 1) It let’s us know how our client thinks about such things and 2) It gives us all a common, shared lexicon when discussing these things.

So, for the purposes of discussion, here are some definitions:

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a brand over the duration of their relationship.

USER EXPERIENCE involves a person’s emotions about using a particular product, system or service.

USABILITY is the ease of use and learnability of an item. The object of use can be a software application, website, book, tool machine, or process.

OMNICHANNEL weaves the touchpoints of products and services of the brand into a seamless fabric of all phases of the customer’s brand experience.

CROSS-CHANNEL has the ability to see all of a customer’s information across all channelsand enables more personalized offers based on their brand relationship.

MULTI-CHANNEL is simply having multiple channels through which you buy, market, sell, and fulfill.

Not perfect, perhaps, but certainly a good way to level-set a conversation around customer experience.

Speaking with Human Beings.

 

 

In a recent keynote speech, Micah Solomon did a very nice job of talking about customer experience in a refreshingly conversational manner that helps us remember this is about relationships with real live human beings. What I like about this presentation is the personal, conversational tone that supports the subject Micah is presenting. It is, at once, a presentation that is a personal sharing with the audience…much of what a well-executed customer experience strategy aims to achieve.

Customer Experience Keynote Speaker: Customer service speaker Micah Solomon on customer loyalty

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Customer Experience, Service Design, Uncategorized, User Experience

The Visionary Executives Who Are Pushing Customer Experience and the Value They Are Creating.

May 6, 2013
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What is a company’s true source of value? Is it the products they make or the customers who use them? Yeah, it’s the customers.

So why then do otherwise smart people consider Customer Experience as anything less than critical to their business?Consider the Wall Street-defying announcement Amazon recently made that caused Michael Hinshaw to declare on the MYCustomer blog,“When an incredibly successful, Fortune 100 company says customer relationships matter more than short-term profits, it should inspire us.”

This is a story about leveraging digital innovation to deliver customer delight.

In my experience, the senior executives who understand Customer Experience and are running with it tend to be visionaries. They see where business is headed and how very much it has changed in the last three years alone and they welcome that challenge. They see traditional mass marketing being replaced by active relationships with their customers that are very, very different from the way they were doing business yesterday and they embrace that change. And perhaps most importantly, they are making the correlation between the experiences customers have today and business performance and the line of sight to increased marketshare and share of wallet.

Here is why I say these people are visionary, one of the biggest challenges in implementing a Customer Experience strategy is that many of the benefits are long term and these are different days for businesses. Consumers? People don’t consume a brand, they join it and that means developing a relationship…and that takes time. But these changes are necessary if a company is going to succeed and thrive in the years to come and they can see that but many others do not, or are at least, resistant to change.

This means that these senior executives boldly state that their strategy is not going to yield business results this quarter and that is often a difficult message. (Think of Jeff Bezos’ stunning declaration that he is willing to forgo short term profits for a richer customer relationships).  But the value of customer experience is not unlocked by simply looking at the number of widgets sold in any given month. Increasing marketshare and share of wallet through Customer Experience is a strategic initiative and it is important to understand that results will occur in the future, perhaps one or two years out, and build that expectation into the financial models.

So, is it all worth it? In a word, yes. In the recent report, “The ROI of Customer Experience” [PDF] by Peppers & Rogers and TeleTech, they report that the business impact of Customer Experience can be enormous. Fred Reichheld, a Fellow at Bain & Company who helped develop the Net Promoter Score (NPS), has found that a 5 percent improvement in customer retention can yield between a 20 percent and 100 percent increase in profits across a wide range of industries.

In the same report, Mark Grindeland, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of TeleTech says, “Companies that are able to differentiate the customer experience and generate related business performance improvements are the ones that will win in the future.”

In the book, “Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers in the Center of Your Business”, proof is offered for the financial wisdom of pursuing a strong customer experience strategy, “Customer experience is, quite simply, how your customers perceive their every interaction with your company. It’s a fundamental business driver. Here’s proof: Over a recent five-year period during which the S&P 500 was flat, a stock portfolio of customer experience leaders grew twenty-two percent. In an age when customers have access to vast amounts of data about your company and its competitors, customer experience is the only sustainable source of competitive advantage.”

And, of course, there is this compelling evidence from Watermark Consulting’s 2013 research that shows that Customer Experience leaders outperform the market.

These are the business leaders who are creating Customer Journey Maps and Experience Maps to assess where the areas of improvement are. These are relatively inexpensive activities of looking at their own organizations from an outside-in perspective of a customer. This work is very strategic and provides a clear roadmap of where customer experiences need to be transformed and business processes optimized to increase market share and share of wallet.

“The ROI of Customer Experience” tells about how Federal Express has succeeded in linking improvements in customer experience to increases in financial outcomes. (Not surprising that a logistics company would be amongst the first to figure this out). As part of a multi-year transformational customer-centric journey, FedEx has devised its own methodology around the economics of customer behavior and has assigned managers to different customer segments where they are responsible for growing the value of those customers. It states that, “FedEx has ben able to draw upon a variety of customer, channel, and operational information, including customer feedback, to make improvements to its customer experience across the various channels it supports…FedEx used a customer value database and an integrated Web platform to deliver more relevant messaging to small business executives. While the average U.S. company has a NPS of 15, FedEx finds itself in elite company with customer experience leaders like Apple and Costco, whose NPS numbers are consistently higher than 50.”

In Bob Garfield and Doug Levy’s new book, Can’t Buy Me Like, the authors make a deft observation about marketing that revolves around the time honored “target audience”. They maintain that marketing is about relationships but a target is something that one shoots at and an audience listens passively. Not exactly representative of a relationship in the pervasively connected world of social media, is it?

Remember, people don’t consume a brand, they join it.

Getting back to those visionaries who see the value of customer experience in their business, how do they even get started course correcting their organization that is very often still operating like a mass marketer? Their role is that of a diplomat in many regards, speaking the language of a CMO but also the language of the CIO in order to deliver the ways and the means to deliver improved customer experience to increase marketshare and also share of wallet. Customer Journey Maps and Experience Maps are a good first step towards seeing their companies from a customer-centric, outside-in perspective. Often, they will find that there are efficiencies in customer experience between the silos, things that the business has heretofore been blind to but now possess new actionable insights.

Customer experience is very much an initiative that touches all levels of the organization and their customers and applies a careful blend of people, processes, and tools to gather and act on customer insights effectively. In doing so, they are positioning themselves to leapfrog their competitors by applying customer-centric business metrics and preparing their businesses for measurable success and that, in my book, is visionary.

 

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Customer Experience, Design, Service Design

The Brilliant Excel Prototype That You Absolutely Need to See!

March 31, 2013
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This weekend I am reading Service Design: From Insight to Implementation and came across a truly exceptional prototyping tool. Well, it is not actually a tool, per se, rather it is a brilliant solution that the team came up with.

 

In 2009, Norway’s largest general insurer, Gjensidige (pronounced yen-SEE-dig-ah), decided that they wanted to serve their customers beyond the typical insurance experience where insurance is complicated, involves multiple stakeholders and channels, and is a classic example of the mistake where a service is sold as a product. No small task.

Before the change program began, Gjensidige employed customer service designers to challenge what the ideal insurance service might look like. The initial task was quite broad – Gjensidige wanted to find out about people’s behaviors, motivations, and relationships to insurance. It was critical to not only understand the mindset of Gjensidige’s customers but also that of their staff.

The approach taken by Gjensidige is typical of service design; insights research, workshops, service blueprinting, service proposition development, concept sketches, and presentations, testing and, of course, delivery. The team learned that quantitive methods are good for creating knowledge and understanding of the files, but they are not terribly useful for translating knowledge into action and helping organizations actually do something with it. Qualitative methods are better suited to bridge this gap so, off they went and developed a prototype.

As expected, the true challenge here was to make the invisible visible…or rather make the right things visible and remove the rest of the noise in the offering.

I am reading the Kindle version of Service Design: From Insight to Implementation so I can’t tell you the exact page number is but if you are interested, search for “Experience Prototyping the Service” and you will find this amazing story of resourcefulness. Anders Kjeseth Valdersnes, the design team’s Microsoft Excel expert, built a prototype of the product in Excel, which had all the tools required to handle the actuarial tables and live information visualization. Now here is the astonishingly brilliant part – instead of spending a week or two designing and coding a browser-based prototype with a functioning back-end database, Anders did it in TWO DAYS and designed it to look like a website so that it could be tested with customers and prospects. In two days! In Excel! That is nothing short of brilliant.

With this prototype, the team was able to conduct experience prototyping with customers discussing and buying insurance, a salesperson selling insurance, and someone trying to submit a claim.

This is exactly the sort of ingenuity that I find inspiring. Well done, Gjensidige, very well done.

 

 

 

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Customer Experience, Service Design

ROUNDUP: Customer Experience – 24.March.2013

March 24, 2013
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In this roundup on Customer Experience we have Gillian James presenting in Romania on what we can be doing today to create a great customer experience… Then we have Shep Hyken explaining the difference between Customer Experience and Customer Service, which I know from experience is something that comes up often when discussing the merits of customer experience. Then we have an excerpt from Lior Arussy’s keynote speech at the German CRM Forum, which took place in March of 2013, speaking on the economics of customer experience. This is incredibly important as it helps answer the “why should I care?” question that invariably arises when speaking with senior management about customer experience.

Here is Gillian James with some things we can start doing today to create a better customer experience: How can we create an extraordinary customer experience today – Gillian James, TMI

 

Here is Shep Hyken explaining a critical difference that we need to be able to articulate when discussing customer experience.: Customer Service Expert Explains Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Experience

 

And last up, but with profound importance, here is Lior Arussy speaking about the economic importance of customer experience thinking throughout the organization: Excerpt: The Economics of Customer Experience

Did you find these helpful? If so let me know.

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Customer Experience, Service Design

Temkin’s 2013 Experience Ratings Are Out.

March 15, 2013
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Food shopping. I love it and hate it, usually at the same time. My wife and I are down in Florida this week and we found ourselves picking up a few beach items in Publix and I didn’t hate it. At all.

Note even a little. I had never been in a Publix before but my wife had when she visited friends in Naples and had noting but good things to say about them. The Publix we were in had wide aisles that eliminate that annoying “bump factor” that come from having narrow aisles (I am looking at you, Trader Joe’s) and plenty of helpful people available. And the immaculately clean store had big, bright signage that allowed you to quickly scan for what you are looking for from anywhere in the store…no one wants to be lost in the supermarket but frequently we are. At home in Virginia it is a steady rotation of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Kroger’s for us in so Publix was a new experience.

But wait, there’s more.

publix photo

Later that night, after a lovely dinner overlooking the water I received an email on my iPhone announcing that Temkin’s 2013 Experience Ratings had been released. While I wasn’t familiar with this customer experience survey, I was curious to see how they did the research and how the companies fared. Topping the list was Publix, which we had been in for the first time that very day! OK, that got my attention. Who is Temkin and what are these Experience Ratings?

A quick Google search revealed that Bruce Temkin was behind the Forrester’s Customer Experience Index [Login Required], which I have been following for several years…instant street cred in my book. I had also attended the Customer Experience conference in NYC that Forrester produces and absolutely loved it.

According to Temkin’s site, “The report analyzes feedback from 10,000 U.S. consumers to rate 246 organizations across 19 industries” so it is a pretty good sample set. In terms of methodology, they looked at three areas:

  1. FunctionalHow well do experiences meet customers’ needs?
  2. AccessibleHow easy is it for customers to do what they want to do?
  3. EmotionalHow do customers feel about the experiences?

Publix Supermarkets came out on top of the list as the best scoring company on the functional, accessible, and emotional criteria.

TOTALLY UNSURPRISING SPOILER ALERT:
So who was at the bottom of the list? U.S. Airways. Hey, if you have flown U.S. Airways in the past few years that isn’t even a surprise. In my experience U.S. Airways is the root-canal-without-novacaine-of-the-skys.

The Temkin’s 2013 Experience Ratings appears to be free for a short period of time so you might want to get in on that. At the very least, there are some good discussion starters in there for your company or clients.

 

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Customer Experience, Design, Service Design, User Experience

Swift Air Media’s In-Flight Customer Experience Goes Glocal at 30,000 Feet

March 15, 2013
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A customer experience at 30,000 feet presents an interesting situation. For one, she is feeling like one very captive customer, sometimes one very bored customer, and very often, both.

 

In-flight movies and beverage service have helped assuage that but what about in-flight wi-fi?

 

Yeah. What about that?

 

 

True, you can now work while crossing the Atlantic but it is arguable that this is indeed a good thing. On many flight flights wi-fi is a paid service which means the customer has to have enough of a motivator to pay for wi-fi. Somehow paying to do work is a something of a conceptual stumbling block to an impulse purchase. But what if what you could do online would actually help you once you arrived at your destination? What if you could discover new places to stay, eat, and have fun in the city you are about to land in a short amount of time? Making in-flight content relevant for air travelers is exactly what SwiftAir Media is aiming to do with their launch of their native commerce platform for corporations and publishers.

Scott Terrell of Swift Air Media told me in an email, The publishing revolution is really about giving people the information they need and want given their current location and environment. We’re simply applying that to the inflight travel guide experience — telling people what they should do, see, and buy in the city where they’re about to land.”

Back in January 2011 the concept was born:

With Southwest Airlines as their first client, SwiftAir Media provided them with the platform and services to create their own publication to sell direct to the in-flight consumer. Publishers now have a workflow software and can help both with SwiftAir’s media and services division to develop destination specific in-flight content. According to a recent market research report, “Global Market Aviation In-Flight Entertainment and Communication Market (2012 – 2017) the in-flight entertainment and communication market will be worth $3 Billion by 2017. Fair enough, that’s the business side of the equation but what can the customer get out of this?

Imagine you are flying from Phoenix to Chicago, you get on wi-fi on you iPhone and it looks something like this. Offers, deals, and promotions for the Chicago area, updated in real time and right on, say, your iPhone. Scott said it like this, We’re allowing Southwest and other brands to reach their customers and tell relevant stories to them because of our Native Commerce Platform and the E-commerce functionality it has. So people can explore, read, save, share, and buy while in the air, and then again once on the ground.”

mobile screen

A notable development on device usage tells us that mobile devices are the preferred device in-flight, which makes sense because who, except those fortunate enough to be in first class, have enough room for anything other than a tablet or a smartphone? We know that Apple has an 84% share of people who connect to GoGo wifi. In an article  from TabTimes entitled, “Bye bye laptop” we learn that most users of Gogo’s in-flight Internet service now use tablets and smartphones to connect to the Internet followed by laptops. Article here: Bye bye laptop? Most users of Gogo’s in-flight Internet service tap iPads and … – TabTimes

Let’s take a look at how these activities break down from a customer usage perspective, again, from the good people at GoGo:

Gogographiclg

Let’s look at some current in-flight trends. Much of it is focused on passive viewing like the extended viewing times that Virgin Atlantic recently announced, “The move is an extension of the boarding to disembarkation total entertainment package that the company introduced on several of its routes last year, and it means that on an average five hour flight, passengers can benefit from screened entertainment for about an extra hour. It is a departure from the recognised system of only commencing entertainment after the aircraft has taken off and the obligatory announcements have been made, and turning the service off again as much as 20 minutes before the aircraft lands.”

But that content has little if anything to do with the specific destination the traveler is going to and providing content that will be informative and helpful upon landing which is why what Swift Air Media is offering shows such promise. This is basic customer experience / service design thinking: know your customer and add some value in whatever context you can do so.

ABOUT SWIFT AIR MEDIA: SwiftAir is an innovative in-flight travel guide designed to provide air travelers with virtual tours, special deals and insider information about their destination city. The complimentary Web-based technology is viewable on board flights equipped with a Wi-Fi connection. Revolutionary to the marketplace, SwiftAir offers key benefits to their partners – both vendors and airlines – as well as to the end-users of the platform.

As a vendor, SwiftAir provides a fresh and exciting entry point to reach an engaged audience who will be more receptive to learning about new products and services. Being featured on the SwiftAir platform, businesses can help consumers shape their travel experience while gaining exposure to a new and captive audience.

As an airline, partnering with SwiftAir can provide unmatched value to passengers by enhancing their on board experience. Additionally, it can serve as a secondary revenue stream to help recover the costs of providing Wi-Fi to air travelers.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 5.51.44 PM

 

Thank you. Enjoy your flight. ;  )

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Customer Experience, Service Design

Customer Experience – The Pinterest Collection 13Mar2013

March 13, 2013
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I recently put together some Customer Experience / Service Design pins on Pinterest.

They can be found here. 

 

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Customer Experience, Service Design

Customer Journey Maps

March 9, 2013
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Customer Experience, Service Design

NOTEBOOK: Customer Experience / Service Design 9.Mar.2013

March 9, 2013
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Customer Experience

Universal Mind: Innovations in the Digital Customer Experience Realm

March 7, 2013
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It does my heart good to see agencies focusing exclusively on customer experience. In my consulting work over the last four years or so I have seen over and over again that 1) most companies don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to gathering customer experience research and 2) they almost all can benefit mightily from an outside resource that is able to guide and lead the customer experience initiatives at least until the company is able to do the work on their own.

 

And that should be their goal. In the same way we are responsible for our own health, companies should be responsible for their own customer experience strategy and execution. But until then, an agency or consulting company is a good place to start. Find one that has some solid case studies and, most importantly, one you trust.

If you want to find out what this Customer Experience thing is all about why not attend a few conferences? There is one coming up in California in March: NextGen Customer Experience 2013

The complete list of speakers can be found here. These are the people on the front lines of Customer Experience and I can tell you (I attended the one in NYC last year) the war stories alone are worth the price of admission.

I have no affiliation with Universal Mind, I just admire their work from afar, but when you are there I encourage you to check out what they have to say about Contextually Interconnected Experiences on Monday, March 11, 1:30pm at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, Aragon Ballroom.

 

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Customer Experience

Customer Experience: A Quick Primer

March 7, 2013
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In a recent User Experience meeting that I attended in Virginia, the issue of User Experience and Customer Experience was raised. To some it is just semantics but to practioners and clients of either (or both) it makes a world of difference.

 

My own experience tells me that Customer Experience resonates with C-level execs and User Experience certainly interests C-level execs but Directors and Managers tend to buy User Experience. Hey, just an observation. Since the subject of Customer Experience (or Service Design in the UK) is still in the formation stage, it would be helpful to look at some points-of-view on the topic. But first, a couple of definitions of Customer Experience…

Customer experience transformation

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer experience transformation

Customer experience transformation (CxT) is a strategy that uses business process management to enhance customer service experience from …

Customer experience

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer experience

Customer experience (CX) is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods and services , over the duration of their … 

What is a Customer Experience

 

Car Breakdown – Great Customer Experience

 

Grant Rant #88 – 5 Customer Experience Mistakes

www.GrantCardone.com -5 Customer Experience Mistakes What Customers Hate – Why Customer Service Sucks – Sales Training Expert Grant Cardone discusses the top 5 phrases customers hate and how to improve customer service. Don’t allow your customer serv…

Gary Loveman: Use Big Data to Enhance Customer Experience

Caesar’s CEO Gary Loveman talks with MIT CDB’s Andrew McAfee about how data has to be used to attract and retain customers.

 

Here is an agency that positions themselves as driven by data, enabled by technology and inspired by culture:

I’ll leave you with this chilling fact…a good example of the delta between perception and reality when it comes to Customer Experience: A 2006 Bain and Company report found that 80 percent of executives believed their company delivered a superior customer experience, while only eight percent of customers said they received one. (Bain 2006) [3]

Customer experience systems

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer experience systems

Customer experience systems are integrated business and operational support systems (BSS/OSS) that particularly address service providers … 

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Customer Experience

3 Reasons Why Customer Experience Is Going to Drive Disruptive Technology in 2013

March 5, 2013
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Disruptive technology has long been primarily the domain of the CIO or the CTO, which made sense since it does say, “technology” in there. But, by definition, the word disruptive has an all-hands-on-deck connotation that suggests that perhaps we need to call in a champion of Customer Experience in 2013.

 

I see four major disruptive technologies which will test, and stress, large and small companies this year and I also see critical role to be filled by the CMO or some other champion of Customer Experience.

1. MOBILE DEVICES: We all have them and we all want to use them for work. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is the new norm and one that challenges infrastructure, corporate policy, and security, sometimes to the limit. Marc Andreessen did a good job in a recent TechCrunch article explaining why change is now bottom up, as opposed to the top down approach of 50 years ago. BYOD is a bottom-up change that says, “I do this at home and I now want to do it at work too”.

2. SOCIAL MEDIA: If companies were skeptical about social media five years ago, those days are long gone. True, many companies hit it with their blunt instruments of traditional marketing tools which, of course, fell flat. But once they learned the dance and engaged with customers the way they wanted to be engaged, life got a bit better for everyone involved. Did I want to look at a Strabucks Facebook page? No, of course not. Do I want to send a $10 Starbucks gift card to a friend on her birthday through Facebook? Happily!

 3. CLOUD COMPUTING: Last year we saw many companies moving their business processes and mission-critical applications to the cloud. While generally concerned about security, what was once a band of rouge employees posting collaborative work on Google Docs, entire company infrastructures have migrated to the cloud in recent years. But all this is not without peril. Consider Evernote, the wildly popular storage and retrieval company. Their success was born out of the realization that the poor, hapless schlumps who had to use SharePoint at work could use Evernote at home and it was awesome! But last week, right at he time when Evernote was creating a big push in the marketplace with Evernote for Business, a massive security breach happens forcing over 50 million users to have to change their passwords. Evernote responded quickly and has announced today that they are implementing Two-Factor Authentication but I am certain there were some heated “I told you so!” conversations in corporate board rooms. This is where top-down security meets bottom-up consumer demand.

 4. BIG DATA: 2012 was the year when we all learned to use the phrase “Big Data” and roll it around in our mouths. But many organizations haven’t a clue as to what big data is really all about and how to harness and leverage big data and turn it into actionable business intelligence. From a customer experience perspective the benefits of big data are still rather abstract and nebulous.In fact, many consumers assume that companies are going to use big data to trick them into doing something. But when your credit card company suddenly recommends a new restaurant that you happen to be near and they say you will love and…oh wow…they are actually right…well, big data is working for us, isn’t it?

What does this have to do with Customer Experience? Well, pretty much everything. By identifying how your customers engage with your business, you will begin to see how your company’s decisions about cloud computing, big data, social media, and mobile devices all look from their perspective. And this is why a champion of Customer Experience (Service Design if you are in the UK) needs to be front and center with these disruptive technologies. One of the most powerful tools I have seen on consulting engagements over the past few years has been the creation process of a Customer Journey Map. A Customer Journey Map describes the journey of a customer by representing the different touchpoints that define all interactions with your product or service. A great little company in Colorado called EffectiveUI created this customer journey map that I first saw on Smashing Magazine’s site and I have seen it pop up about a hundred times whenever customer journey maps are discussed so I will put it up here now:

journeymapIn a previous post I mentioned that a big insight into doing customer journey maps is that biggest missed opportunities happen in the white space between the individual business units of an organization. If you just looked at an organization’s business units they would look like they were doing a pretty good job but you would be missing some critically important business intelligence. By speaking with customers you learn where the handoffs aren’t happening or at least aren’t happening well. You can also step back a bit and perhaps realize that instead of building a bigger call center, by fixing these procedural and operational customer experience issues you may find that you don’t even need that bigger call center anymore. In a best case scenario, you have discovered that your customers don’t want a better call center experience, they just want things to work right!

So, what about those three reasons I mentioned in the headline? Here they are:

1. KNOW THY CUSTOMER
Disruptive technology are disruptive for your company but they are also are disruptive for your customers. Consult with them, find out how they are thinking and feeling about their interactions with your company. Discover some behavioral, attitudinal and quantifiable things you didn’t know before. During times of disruption it is even more important to (now, you know you know this) communicate!
 Then take what you learn and bring it back to the hive to discuss your corporate strategy and operations around these disruptive technologies.

2. ANTICIPATE YOUR CUSTOMERS RISKS AND MITIGATE THEM
Your customers probably know more about what they want than you do. Obvious? I think not if you observe how most companies operate. Don’t take a “we know best” approach that doesn’t include your customers. It may have worked for Apple but, hey, you’re not them. What if Evernote talked to customers and found that they were putting more and more sensitive information in Evernote, do you think they would have waited for a security breach to implement a more secure authentication? That breach almost sunk their business and I would argue that the resulting customer ill will was avoidable.

3. WITHOUT A CMO, OR SOME CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE CHAMPION, YOUR DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVES ARE HIGHLY EXPOSED. GET ALL THE RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE TABLE.
Beyond the incredibly useful business insights and intelligence you will glean from your customer experience work there is a powerful risk mitigation component. Disruptive technologies are risky by definition. Why wouldn’t you want to mitigate that risk?

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Design

Staying Curious, Ever Curious.

March 4, 2013
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One of the great things about choosing Design as a profession is that encourages you to be a lifelong learner. I was going to say “forces” you but people who choose Design as their work tend to be naturally curious so there is no forcing going on at all.

 

I recently came across this inspirational video, which was perfect for a Monday morning because all of us need some help from time to time. One of my favorite interview questions to ask is, “What do you do when you are bored?”. I won’t give away the answer I am looking for but here’s a hint: The best people are almost never bored.

Stay curious, my friends, stay curious.

The Future Belongs to the Curious from Skillshare on Vimeo.

Here are some of the places I go to satisfy my curiosity, maybe you will find them inspirational also.

And a big thank you to the people who create these sites and blogs, I’d like you to know that I appreciate all you do very much.

SMASHING PUMPKIN Probably my default, go-to site along with ReadWrite.

READWRITE Want to not only be the first to know about technological advancements but also understand them too? Yeah, me too.

VEER A playground for the visually-oriented.

THE DIE LINE That’s “die” as in “die cut” not, like, mortality. This is about packaging and some really sweet packaging at that.

OUTLAW DESIGN BLOG Really good stuff, pretty much all the time. That’s why it’s on my list.

DESIGNER DAILY A quick read that is almost always something I hadn’t known about. Curiosity loves discovery, doesn’t it?

WE MADE THIS Oh, this is just delightful stuff. Just go there and see for yourself.

AD GOODNESS I haven’t worked in advertising in many years but I still admire some of it from afar. Good stuff from Frederik Samuel

 

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Design

ROUNDUP: Design 3.2.2013

March 2, 2013
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In this Roundup, we have prototype tools for mobile, another salvo in the Responsive Design wars, a thoughtful piece on Design-Thinking MBA’s, HTML5’s Smart Elements, Words-as-Images, and the ever-popular new and improved web design methods.

 

Admittedly, this stuff is not for everybody. Just the really cool people. ; )

Cheat Sheets for Graphic DesignersA useful collection of 40 cheat sheets for the designers and developers.

Brilliant Web Forms: Everyone hates filling them out but these designs are making them more fun. Sometimes a lot more fun.

 Should Designers Fear Design-Thinking MBA’s? “In discussing this issue with colleagues, I’ve found that many of us in the design community have become somewhat defensive and protective about the unique qualifications we possess and quick to point out the essential differences between the two practices.”

HTML5’s Smart Elements: HTML5 just may be winning the Native App vs. HTML5 debate but only time will tell. Until then, these smart elements are pretty handy.

Words as Images: Designer Ji Li’s book entitled Word as Image brilliantly illustrates the power of “picturing words”.

 A Few Design Trends Worth Noting: Just trying to keep it alive, fun and refreshing.

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Business, Customer Experience, Startups

A CIO and a CMO Are Locked in a Room and Forced to Do Battle. Who Wins?

February 26, 2013
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Mike Troiano has had an enviable career so far, albeit one with a mandatory need for lightning fast reflexes, the ability to see the future and course-correct amidst the chaos, and by definition, a rather strong stomach. In my experience, these are the best ones to learn from.

Chief Marketing Officers have long had a difficult job. It can be a fun career choice for the right person, certainly, but the CMO’s challenges have changed dramatically over the last decade. Gone are the days when “We ran great TV” was enough to have everyone in management leave you alone. Along the way the CFO…and then the CEO started asking pesky questions about return on investment. Most CMO’s had no good answer for many of their programs beyond the tepid, “oh, it’s all brand awareness”. Brand awareness and many other marketing programs were generally declared unquantifiable…until the world changed and the CEO…and the business…said that would no longer be so.

One of the reasons I like Mike so much is that he always seems to be in the right place at the right time which makes his stories exponentially more interesting than, say, mine. I was a Creative Director for Mike when he was CEO of Ogilvy Interactive in New York in the mid 90’s, right at the time there was a seismic intersection of old and new media colliding.

Ogilvy & Mather had a Direct Marketing group at the time that created and mailed out direct responses pieces and compiled the results several months later, as was the custom of the day. On the other side of the third floor of Worldwide Center in NYC, the nascent Interactive group was publishing banner ads and calculating results overnight. This incredibly short time-to-market and ridiculously fast response time was, of course, summarily dismissed by the traditional Direct Marketing group and then history promptly went on to prove them delightfully wrong. Funny when that happens.

When asked about those days, Mike told me, “It’s important to understand that medium reflects hierarchy inside ad agency culture. What I remember most about those early days was the change in culture that took place. In the beginning, “interactive” (as it was called) sat somewhere below bumper stickers and t-shirts, below direct mail, newspaper, outdoor, magazines, radio, and – of course – television. After the Netscape IPO things seemed to change, though, and when digital became a shiny object, the big guns wanted in even if they didn’t really know what they were doing. Working and iterating at digital speed was part of what they really needed to learn but was also the most difficult for them. In the end I think our lasting impact on Ogilvy was that it got on that learning curve earlier than most.”

The Interactive group had data and they understood a customer experience that, while rudimentary, was a well enough defined loop to be useful. These were early ugly days but the insanely short duration communication-response-optimize process that is the Googleized world was born of those days and there was a great thrill in going home for the night and thinking, “I’ll see how that did in the morning and make it better by lunchtime”.

The Interactive group was a brilliant but scruffy upstart group that was nipping at the heels of a Very Large Global Agency. And while O&M was very comfortable with the traditional advertising they did so well, they were nonetheless a little worried about these crazy interactive kids who didn’t seem to be playing by the same rules.

Indeed, those early days birthed the exact moment when technology integration and customer experience appeared at CMO’s bedside, calling them from sleep, a torment that continues until this day.

About five years ago there were some very dramatic and lively discussions in corporate board rooms as the CEO informed the CIO and the CMO that they needed to work closely together because it was critically important to the business. But these two had never had to play together. In fact, as a general rule they avoided each other on general principles. Now there was a corporate mandate to work collaboratively but, man, they didn’t even speak the same language. Try saying, “non-trivial” to a CMO and see what happens. And collaborative project planning between IT and Marketing? Well, cats and dogs describe that situation best.

Over time things improved…not without difficulty and sometimes seismic eruptions that sent admins running for cover…but reluctantly the business world came to realize that marketing was going to either live or die by technology and it was going to take a village for it to work. Beyond that, it started to become clear that a CIO or a CMO was also going to become something of an interpreter and translator for each other.

Fast forward to 2013 and Mike Troiano is CMO at Actifio, a four year old data storage startup in Boston. So, what keeps him awake at night as CMO these days? You guessed it, data integration and a unified customer experience. With a marketing spend about two to three times the technology spend, clearly these two things are high priority to the strategic growth of the company.

Fortunately Mike has always had a good relationship with technology people so he is different than your typical CMO. My opinion is that his experience as a CEO put him in a position where he needed to focus on solutions first and then consider the chemistry required to get it done. This makes him one of the most pragmatic CMO’s I know. When I asked him about the typical CIO/CMO dynamics he has experienced over the years, he responded,  “I think historically there’s been this right brain / left brain divide, and both sides were the worse for it. If you look at why most CIO-led technology projects failed, you’d find more of the human factors that CMOs understand. And if you’re a CMO trying to communicate effectively in 2013, you need to know what’s possible with the latest technology, as good CIOs do.”

Out of general interest I did a Google search for “data integration unified customer experience” to see what would come up, expecting thousands of results as people clamored to solve this problem that Mike mentioned and the same one that I have seen across industries in my consulting work.

Astonishingly little. Almost nothing. One, actually. How is it that there is just one result that had data integration and user experience in the same thought?

So, if data integration and unified customer experience are all but ensuring sleep deprivation for CMO’s where are the solutions? I know it’s not a tool and I suspect it is more of a methodology or, at least, a process of sorts. More likely, it is a type of person who is trusted and is able to translate and interpret CMO to CTO and back again while being the advocate for the customer.

Ever the diplomatic pragmatist, Mike tells me, “Both jobs are about managing change. CIO’s are trying to change the flow of information – the “means,” if you will. And CMO’s are trying to change perception – the “end,” in that same sense. It seems almost inevitable that the two roles would converge, and the Internet really drove that convergence. It both made the technology easier to use, and softened the boundaries of the organization.”

 —

Mike Troiano serves on the boards of several Boston-area startups, and is an award-winning blogger (miketrap.com) and counted among the top 1% of the most influential people on Twitter (@miketrap) and a pretty awesome guy, if you ask me.

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Design

Almost Flat Design is the Most Refreshing Design Trend in the Last 10 Years

February 24, 2013
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You have seen it more and more over the last year or so, that elegant looking design on that sweet new mobile app that is just so incredibly clean. It is flat color but it is anything but boring. In fact, there is just enough depth to highlight key elements and is very different from that skeuomorphism interface convention where things looked like bookshelves, and leather books.

Fifteen years ago I worked with a Designer at Ogilvy & Mather and the client was suggesting (insisting, actually) that the website interface should look like a room with objects that people could click on. The Designer was silent for a long moment and then asked, “Instead of being constrained by analogous old conventions that people are familiar with, why not create new interfaces that embrace the new familiarity with computers that people now have?”

The Designer lost the argument, of course, and we went ahead and built an interface that looked like a room but the look around today and his vision is bearing fruit in the form of Almost Flat Design.

People are discovering that Responsive Designs are difficult and the modular nature of the components work extremely well with an Almost Flat Design solution.

Matthew Moore got this Almost Flat Design discussion rolling a few weeks ago over at Stuff & Nonsense when Google made everyone sit up and take notice with their arguably better-than-Apple-design:

Matthew Moore: Almost Flat Design — Stuff & Nonsense, And All

Talking about Almost Flat Design is one thing but seeing it is much more helpful. Here are some examples: 10 Inspiring Examples of Flat (or Almost Flat) Design

Of course, since trends, and especially Design trends, tend to swing the pendulum way over to the other side of wherever it started from it does beg the question, “Must a responsive web design be flat?” I mean, is it like a law or something? Or maybe just unhip…which is kind of  crime of sorts, isn’t it? Noah Stokes has a nice take on the whole RWD flataciousness issue.

Noah Stokes | Es Bueno / Responsive Web Design Leaves Me

I personally love the elegance of Almost Flat Design and have been filling my Evernote notebook with really well-executed examples of it wherever I find it. Good heavens, even Microsoft has weighed in with Windows 8! And a pretty good barometer of trend-worthiness, the Twitterverse has been weighing in also. What more proof do you need than that?

FrodoJansen

Love Google’s clean -so called almost flat- design! Apple take notice!

krisniles

RT @jeremydjohnson: Almost Flat Design: http://t.co/8gWQ389p #UX

barrysaunders

@ben_hr @dannolan @boredjessica i swear the most productive thing i did this week was say ‘make it that ‘almost flat’ design, that’s hot’

 

 

 

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Startups

The Beautiful and Terrifying Experiments of Startups

February 24, 2013
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We all love babies and puppies and pretty much anything when it is young even if they tend to be loud and messy. It is that innate optimism and vast potential we see in things that are just starting out. The big question is always is this acorn going to grow into a mighty oak…or just stay a little nut? The early years are always maddeningly messy yet also quite beautiful. And this is why we love startups.

Here’s a story about great beginnings, a place so interesting I would be happy to be the janitor there just to walk the halls.

The guy who houses hundreds of startups: Plug and Play’s Saeed Amidi

He owns the building where Google and Paypal got their starts. In his many locations around the world you’ll find hundreds of startups. (Around 200 startups in Sunnyvale alone. Nice.)

Okay, you have a great idea, you managed to gather an A-team of co-founders and you are ready to rock the global startup stage! Nothing is stopping you except maybe one thing: your location.

4 Tips for Startup Success When You’re Not Based in a Major Market

 

Maybe you work at a startup now or have worked at one in the past. Then you know what you are getting into, both the good and the bad. But what if you have only admired startups from afar but want to get closer? Here’s a couple of good presentions to get you thinking.

So you want to do a startup, eh?

Startup life and culture is super sexy and all sorts of founders are appearing in their jeans and t-shirts and boyish/girlish grins on the covers of magazines and newspapers across North America. Seems that millions of dollars of money is being thrown left right and center at anyone with a dream and the gumption to pursue it. There has been no better time to quit your day job and pursue this. It costs next to nothing to build stuff on the web, right? Only it isn’t *exactly* like that and we’re only hearing a small portion of the stories.

 

Starting your Startup

Choosing your technology stack is one of many decisions you’ll have to make when creating a company from scratch. Along with this, you’ll need to figure out who you should found a company with, who you should take money from, what the company culture should be, management processes, and who to hire when. Joe will be covering basic technology stack choices (cloud v. hosted, frameworks, etc.) as well as other critical decisions one faces when starting a startup.

 

So what are some things to avoid in a startup? Well they are certainly numerous and plentiful but here are four that are good lighthouses to keep your startup off the rocks:

The Four Biggest Mistakes Startups Make – Business Insider

The Four Biggest Mistakes Startups Make but along the way, as he’s invested in startups and advised their founders, he’s seen entrepreneurs continuously making the same mistakes that crash their companies, he says.

 

 

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mHealth

New Jersey-Based Practice Unite to Solve the Hospital-Physician Communication Problem

February 19, 2013
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[Interview with Adam Turinas, Practice Unite. 17 Feb 2013 via Skype]

[BR]: Hi Adam, thanks for making time for a call on a Sunday. You just released Practice Unite this week so, congratulations! Tell us, what is Practice Unite and who is it for?

[AT]: Practice Unite is the first mobile app designed to address one of the most important problems in US Healthcare – the Hospital-Physician relationships. And looking forward, the relationships with the patients, caregivers, and healthcare services. We found that profitable industries, including those in healthcare, are successful at managing the working relationships among decision makers and staff but in healthcare we still have a way to go and that is our opportunity.

So the headline is that Practice Unite will improve communications among physicians, hospital staff and the hospital system administration.

[BR]: We had dinner together, Adam, about a year ago in New Jersey with Kevin Carlson and the topic was around healthcare apps and now here you are one year later actually going live this week, so well done! Where did the idea for Practice Unite come from?

[AT]: My business partner is a practicing physician and he identified the problem that physicians and hospitals had no good, secure way to communicate the way most people communicate these days on their smartphones.

Out of frustration, he diagrammed out how the app would work. Once we had the concept fleshed out we approached a major hospital system here in New Jersey and conducted a test.

We were thrilled when one of the first people we interviewed told us that Hospital/Physician alignment is the #1 non-reimbursement issue today in healthcare. Another hospital administrator went as far to say, “This is a no-brainer, come back when it is ready and we’ll buy it”. That was enough for us. By November we had a fully functioning app and by December we had a pilot with 30 doctors and staff in  a hospital in Jersey City.

The feedback was incredible. The average rating was 8.5/1o but the top complaint, if you can call it that, was that everyone wasn’t on the system yet. A good problem to have since our goal is to get everyone on the system too!

[BR]: There is no shortage of healthcare apps these days, it is a pretty noisy marketplace right now. What is so different about Practice Unite?

[AT]: Well, it is noisy but I disagree a bit, mHealth apps are certainly proliferating all over the place but these are early days and there are still tremendous opportunities.  So when you say there is no shortage of mHealth apps that is accurate but I would instead say that there is a shortage of useful, widely adopted mHealth apps and there is where PracticeUntie wants to live. We can see PracticeUnite being widely adopted by the enterprise, in most cases, the hospitals, and solving the secure, HIPAA-compliant communication problems that exist today. So in that regard, the field is wide open and we think we do a pretty good job of solving a big healthcare issue.

[BR]: You spoke a bit about his already but a typical marketing questions are, “Who is going to use this and why should they care?” and “Who are your primary audiences and what do you allow them to do that they can’t currently do?”

[AT]: Great questions. Obviously we have primarily focused on the communication between doctors and other doctors within a hospital system but as I said, these are early days.

So the short answer would be physicians and staff within a hospital system but beyond that it begins o get very interesting. We can envision a communication platform that supports secure, HIPAA-compliant  communication s between the hospital, physicians, healthcare professionals, payers…certainly also the patients but also caregivers, and healthcare supply companies. That is a very large ecosystem. What these people cannot do currently is communicate quickly, easily, and securely in real time and that is the opportunity.

[BR]: Tell me a little bit about your development process. How did you go about developing this app?

[AT]: Ours was a typical bootstrapping operation where we did just enough to get market feedback along the way. We contracted with a Digital Designer and a small development group in the Midwest and built our prototype based on my partner’s original interaction diagrams. Having a physician who does his own interaction design wireframing is key. (Laughs).

During this time we were very much in market testing so we would build a bit, test a bit, and repeat until we had our hypothesis either validated or disproved. It was all very agile and fast-moving.

[BR]: What do you have planned to get the word out about Practice Unite over the next year?

[AT]: Short term we are look forward to full hospital-wide implementations and beyond that, being in several more hospital systems this year. Beyond that, we are looking to build in communication that includes hospital staff, patients, caregivers, and healthcare supply companies. And anyone else in the healthcare ecosystem that we discover should be included, actually.

[BR]: What other aspects of healthcare are capturing your attention these days?

[AT]: You know, Bill, the biggest eye-opener for me was the current state of communication being used within healthcare today. In order to be secure and HIPAA-compliant it is not uncommon to have fax machines and pagers…yeah, really…these are in use as the primary communication mediums. I understand why this is…they are going with what works but, let’s face it, these people are also tech-saavy and are on IM, Facebook, Twitter, and their smartphones just like everyone else and they want to be able to have the same ease of use in their professional lives. That’s what Practice Unite aims to deliver.

Practice Unite can be found online at: http://www.practiceunite.com and by phone at 1-866-874-8616

 —

You may also be interested in Happtique. Happtique is a mobile health application store and app management solution that helps healthcare providers, physicians, and patients easily integrate mHealth into treatment.

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mHealth

Everything is Changing in Healthcare and You Might Actually Like That.

February 18, 2013
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The issues about Obamacare here in the United States aside, the rapid pace of disruptive technologies in healthcare suddenly put you…yes, you in the center of your health. As a presenter says in the video below, “You are now the CEO of your own health”.

As healthcare explodes with exponentially improved technologies, we begin to change the way healthcare is delivered and see how how healthcare becomes smaller, more decentralized, and more personal. These are early days, to be sure, but theatre of what is possible has a very large stage.

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RECOMMENDED READING: New York-based Happtique launches its pilot program of mRx™, Happtique’s patent-pending solution that enables physicians and other health practitioners to electronically prescribe medical, health, and fitness apps to their patients.

 

 

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mPayment

Easy Money.

August 29, 2012
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Payment options continue to expand, making commerce easier for companies and individuals to do business anywhere and everywhere. It is absolutely fascinating to watch how this is changing business right in front of our eyes and it is exciting to see how it will change our lives in the next few years.

[LINK:] Want to see how our relationship with money is changing?

Today I read that WePay has rolled out a button, with a single line of code, that allows any site to accept in-line credit card payment. Sure, PayPal is still an almost frictionless option but for those without a PayPal account, WePay offers the ability for them to pay by credit card on any site. Maybe even your site.

[LINK:] TechCrunch article here.

If you are not familiar with NFC (Near Field Communication), here’s a [LINK:] short video that explains it for you.

And here are some projections from the good people at Square:

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User Experience

Why Top Execs Are Starting to Care About UX Design.

August 1, 2012
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Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 1.38.06 PM

Very good video with Jesse James Garrett of Adaptive Path which describes the path of User Experience to Customer Experience.

What do you think? Do you need your customers more than they need you?

 

Recommended Reading: Repairing a Fragmented Customer Experience

Recommended Reading: Customer Experience – A Daily Guide for Managers

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mPayment

Our Changing Relationship With Money.

July 30, 2012
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Let’s look in a pocket…the one with your smart phone in it because that’s where the money is going to be in the form of “stored value” vehicles. You may even have one now if you have a Starbucks app. No cash or credit card needed for that one, eh?

A few weeks back I was in New York at a conference where Donald Chestnut and Alex Sion from SapientNitro were presenting, “Mobile Payments: The Future of Money”.


 Here are my notes:

mPayment Solutions don’t simply enable a new method of payment, they will fundamentally transform our relationship with money. There will be a paradigm shift in how money works, how people perceive and use it, and the end of physical currency as we know it.

Credit cards will undergo a significant transformations: mPayments will redefine how we pay, how we use credit, and what a credit card is. Is it credit? Is there a card? How do you extend, acquire, and receive credit?

Customer’s relationship to money and commerce will move from singular moments to an “always-on” relationship across space and time. When does “shopping “ happen? When dos “purchasing” happen? Buying online and picking up in a store, Checking out in a store and paying for it 2 days later…

mPayments will cause a fundamental change in the retail experience. Mobile payments will enable the “check out” process to occur in-aisle, at home, anywhere. As a result, mPayment will challenge – and redefine – long standing assumptions of how stores are designed.

The arrival of mobile payments will enable a new generation of real-time, insight driven, shopping and financial tools. This is the end of the days of consumers being “dumb” at point of sale. It is consumer empowerment to the max.

There are a variety of hurdles for mPayment success, with user adoption being paramount. Overcoming user adoption, interoperability, privacy and security, and government are among the largest obstacles to mobile payments. The ability to pay by phone will not guarantee success.

mPayments will enable a whole new class of merchants – including new ones. mPayment solutions will enable a whole new class of merchants: craftsmen, small business owners, etc.

The mPayment landscape is diverse, and success may come from a wide variety of players. These diverse players may include tech, merchants, traditional financial services, and government or a combo thereof.

NFC technology will fuel mobile payments growth but mobile payment success is not dependent on NFC. It’s not bout any specific technology. It’s about the experience of frictionless, transparent, consumer-empowered commerce and many roads will lead there.

Mobile payments will open up access to money transactions for the under-served. Opportunities for those without bank accounts, or access to branches or those without smart phones. Financial inclusion is the opportunity.

So, what about tablets? Here’s another perspective on that:

 

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Customer Experience

Service Design: Do You Need Your Customers More Than They Need You?

July 19, 2012
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Harley Manning is standing silently at the edge of the stage at Forrester’s Customer Experience 2012 conference in New York. He has just dropped a bomb on the audience and is now standing with arched eyebrows waiting for it to sink in. Moments earlier he flashed a single statement in big red type up on the overhead screen that said simply,
“I need my customers more than they need me.”

While arguably obvious, many companies have not operated this way for a very long time and this audience of senior executives in charge of customer relationships seems profoundly impacted.  His statement clearly has the intended effect on the audience as Harley changes the conversation from “What’s in it for my company” to “What’s in it for my customer?” and why that is so very urgent.

Now the audience is thinking differently…but why should they? Very simply, because they know that they are doing things that will either make the customer loyal or make the customer leave and it all depends on how they choose to run their business.

“These questions are at the heart of the matter over the next decade.”, Harley Manning declares, “Literally every company will compete on the basis of customer experience. In fact, they already do – most just don’t realize what that really means, what’s at stake, or how to do it well”.

“You are not going to succeed through manufacturing strength, distribution power, or information mastery – those have all been commoditized. And you can’t win by controlling the flow of information about your products and services either.”


Welcome to the Age of the Customer.

But isn’t that just customer service? In OutsideIn: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business we learn it’s not. “Equating Customer Service with Customer Experience is like saying a safety net is a trapeze act. Yes, the net is important to the act but if the performer needs to use the net the something has gone wrong with the show.”

Three questions we can be asking our customers is, “Did it meet your needs?”, “Was it easy?, and “Was it enjoyable?”. But remember, two out of three is not good enough! Meeting needs and making it easy are just table stakes, everyone is doing that. Making the experiences enjoyable is where the money is.

I have seen the rise in the UK over the last few years of a relatively new discipline called Service Design that asks some fundamental questions about what the customer experience should be like. An article in the Guardian on the subject, that includes both external customers and internal employees, asks, “What should the employee experience be like? How does a company remain true to its brand, to its core business assets and stay relevant to customers?”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/service-design/introduction

During the conference someone told me a story about a telecom company in Europe that invested heavily in empowering their call center people to “make the customer happy”. But they came to realize that customers did not want to be made happy when calling customer service, they wanted the company to stop causing problems in the first place! And so the company went upstream to the root problems and fixed them.

So how might you go about this? Here are some of our tools and processes from the world of Service Design and Customer Experience:

• Create a Customer Journey Map: This is a co-created diagram that illustrates the steps your customer goes through when they with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated, and necessary, such a map becomes.

Examples: http://www.servicedesigntools.org/tools/8

• Identify the Problems: A good way of doing this is to put red, yellow, and green dots on each of the customer touchpoints the team has identified. Green means working well, yellow means some improvement is possible, and red means it is broken and needs to be fixed. The team can then take a step back and see where the ship is leaking.

• Make a Business Case of Specific Benefits: This is, of course, just good business but you and the team may be very surprised at the amount of value in Customer Experience. According to Forrester, Sprint was able to save $1.7 Billion by reducing the need for several call centers. Fidelity found that their most satisfied customers invested 450% as much with the company as did their least satisfied customers, the difference between satisfied and not satisfied customers meaning billions of dollars.

In these early days of companies increasingly focusing on Omnichannel efficiencies, now is the right time to remember that we need our customers more than they need us and figure out how to create excellent customer experiences.

Here’s why execs are starting to care about UX.

 

Recommended Reading: Data Mapping the Customer Experience in 2013

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