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Customer Experience

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.

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:


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 experience transformation

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

Customer experience 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 -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 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:

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.

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.

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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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 ( 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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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?”

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.


• 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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Customer Experience

Is Customer Experience Just a Fad?

July 18, 2012
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It is 7:30 in the morning at the Forrester Customer Experience conference in New York City and Kerry Bodine, her shoulder length brown hair bouncing to accentuate each new point, is enthusiastically explaining how the decrease in butterflies in Zion National Park is analogous to customer experience problems in companies around the world.

Even at this early hour, the analogy makes sense.

Kerry is pacing the front of the room, underlining her findings with a presentation filled with big pictures and few words while showing us how Sprint, Vanguard, Holiday Inn, Virgin Mobile, and the Mayo Clinic have all created significant ROI (In two cases, in the billions of dollars) by systemically addressing customer experience issues and the stories are absolutely fascinating! That, and her early morning enthusiasm, is totally infectious.

Facing the audience with arms held wide Kerry continues, “The development of Zion National Park in 1918 brought in a flock of visitors which, as an unintended consequence scared off the cougars, which led to an increase in the deer population, which ate the cottonwood trees, which caused the banks of the river to erode leaving large areas of gravel where wildflowers could not bloom and so the butterflies mostly disappeared.”

“In short…an unhealthy ecosystem.” She says animatedly pointing to the slide on the screen.

“This chain of events may seem obvious now but it took scientists decades to determine the root cause of the butterfly problem. That’s because natural ecosystems consist of complex interdependent relationships that change over time.” Kerry says and is pointing to a slide entitled, The Six Essential Customer Experience Disciplines, which are explained in detail in a new book by Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning entitled, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business.

And here the butterflies turn into business.

“If you are trying to solve customer problems without understanding your customer experience ecosystem you might as well be air-dropping butterflies into Zion National Park. You are going to spend a whole lot of money and end up right where you started”.

“If you have customers, then you have a customer experience ecosystem!”

In an advance copy of Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, it tells of how Megan Burns, Forrester’s lead analyst on customer experience maturity, uncovered six disciplines by reviewing Forrester’s customer experience research going back to 1998 and also studying programs at firms that got high marks in Forrester’s Customer Experience Index.

For those practitioners on the customer experience journey, it offers a way to organize everything they have to think about into manageable chunks.

Without giving too much away, here’s a high level overview. The book, of course, goes into much greater detail:

The Six Essential Customer Experience Disciplines

1 Strategy Practices
You’ll want to define a customer experience that describes the intended customer experience and also aligns with the overall company strategy and brand attributes.

 2 Customer-Understanding Practices
This is where you get out from behind that desk of yours and find out what customers are really thinking about all the touchpoints with your company. Create surveys, conduct interviews, mine calls, email, and social media posts. Go talk to real customers.

Also, gather input from employees about their experiences with customers and their role in delivering the customer experience. You’ll want to start collecting allies across your organization.

 3 Design Practices
Create a Customer Journey Map and identify all the touchpoints with your customers. Do not do this by silos or business units for two reasons, 1) your customers don’t think of you in this way and 2) because you will likely find that your problem areas are in the “white space” between silos…places where the dots are not connecting well in your organization.

Remember to co-create with your customers during this process of developing the customer experience ecosystem. Use iterative ideation, prototyping, and evaluation of the complex interdependencies and do it together. You are on the journey together.

 4 Measurement Practices
Here you will want to define a customer experience quality framework that aligns with how customers judge an experience and then measure how customers perceive their experience. You will want to model the relationship between drivers of customer experience quality, perceptions, and business outcomes.

 5 Governance Practices
Start here by defining a consistent set of customer experience standards across your company and, if possible, include alignment with the customer experience strategy as a criterion for evaluating project funding and prioritization decisions.

 6 Culture Practices
You’ve heard this before but communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk to employees, customers, partners, and shareholders about the importance of customer experience. Use informal and formal reward structures to highlight successful customer-centric behavior.

Everyone in your company is on your customer experience team. Everyone.

So, What About Customer Experience?

Towards the end of the presentation Kerry leaned in, spread her hands on the table in front of her, looked up and declared, “Customer experience leads to profits…but only if you treat it as a business discipline.”

I knew from my experience in retail that this was true and I am looking forward to see how deeply companies embrace the customer experience work that needs to be done. We all know expectations are high. We all know the customer is in control. We all know there is work to be done.

But is this customer experience thing just a fad? Is it just the latest catch phrase in a game of business buzzword bingo?

Let me ask you this then, “Are your customers just a fad?”

Didn’t think so.


Recommended Reading: Co-Create Your Customer Experience



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Customer Experience

Does Customer Experience Pay and Pay and Pay?

July 16, 2012
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One of life’s more pleasant rewards is discovering that the work you are doing is valuable. And in some cases, discovering it is extremely valuable.

So for those working towards creating enjoyable Customer Experiences, there is good news.

 A recent Customer Experience Stock Performance Analysis reveals that Customer Experience Leaders outperform the S&P 500 Index by 27%, creating value for customers, their companies, and investors.

Watermark Consulting, who did this research, explains how the analysis works:
“We look at the cumulative stock returns for the Top 10 and Bottom 10 publicly traded companies in Forrester Research’s annual Customer Experience Index ranking (Watermark defines these two groups as the Leaders and Laggards, respectively).

We compare the total return from investing in an equally-weighted, annually readjusted portfolio of customer experience Leaders to that for customer experience Laggards and the broader market (as reflected by the S&P 500 index).

 The Results

For the five-year period from 2007-2011, the customer experience Leader portfolio outperformed the broader stock market, generating cumulative total returns that were 27% better than the S&P 500 Index and 128% better than the customer experience Laggard portfolio.

 This pecking order of performance held true even on an annual basis.  In all but one of the five years, the Leader portfolio outperformed the index, which in turn outperformed the Laggard portfolio.”

Now obviously there are several caveats to point at this research; five years is not a long enough time to prove this out, the sample size is relatively small, and embracing a customer experience strategy is not the same as executing well. Nor is this an invitation to not cost-justify each customer experience project, you must.

But what it does suggest is that companies that successfully deliver enjoyable comprehensive customer experiences are rewarded by both customers and investors.

Why are Customer Experience and Service Design such hot topics? For many companies it is because it is important, it is complex, and it is broken.

Perhaps this is even true at your company but maybe you are not sure how to get started.

Begin with building a business case for superior customer experience, use the Customer Experience Stock Performance Analysis to start the conversation. Trust me, it gets people to sit up and take notice.

Then take a look at some case studies of companies that are effectively improving their customer experience. In August, a book that I highly recommend is coming out and I suggest you buy several copies for your team. Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, by Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine provides powerful, compelling case studies that can be used in conversations around customer experience within your organization and with customers.

In it you’ll find customer experience success stories from USAA, Office Depot, Fidelity, Sprint, EMC, Canada Post, and Holiday Inn, all of which will be helpful in building your business cases for customer experience improvements. These are powerful, insightful stories that will inspire you and other business leaders in your organization to ask, “Is this something we can be doing here?”

For the leaders on the Customer Experience Index, the answer is “yes”.

And for you, the answer can also be “Yes”.

Is Customer Experience just a fad?


Recommended Reading: Looking For An Improved Customer Experience | The Blog


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