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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
Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 5.52.04 PM
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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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