Category Archives: Customer Experience

Innovation the Amazon Way

Innovation the Amazon Way

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

In 2014, Stephenie Landry was finishing up her one-year stint as Technical Advisor to Jeff Wilke, who oversees Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, which is a mentor program that allows high potential executives to shadow a senior leader and learn first-hand. Her next assignment would define her career.

At most companies, an up-and-comer like Stephenie might be given a division to run or work on a big acquisition deal. Amazon, however, is a different kind of place. Landry wrote a memo outlining plans for a new service she’d been thinking about, Prime Now, which today offers one-hour delivery to customers in over 50 cities across 9 countries.

It’s no secret that Amazon is one of the world’s most innovative companies. Starting out as a niche service selling books online, it’s now not only a dominant retailer, but has pioneered new categories such as cloud computing and smart speakers. The key to its success is not any one process, but how it integrates a customer obsession deep within its culture and practice.

Starting With The Customer And Working Back

At the heart of how Amazon innovates is its six-page memo, which is required at the start of every new initiative. What makes it effective isn’t so much the structure of the document itself, but how it is used to embed a fanatical focus on the customer from the day one. It’s something that Amazon employees have impressed upon them early in their careers.

So the first step in developing Prime Now was to write a press release. Landry’s document was not only a description of the service, but how hypothetical customers would react to it. How did the service affect them? What surprised them about it? What concerns did they want addressed? The exercise forced her to internalize how Amazon customers would think and feel about Prime Now from the very start.

Next she wrote a series of FAQ’s anticipating concerns for both customers and for various stakeholders within the firm, like the CFO, operations people and the leadership of the Prime program. So Landry had to imagine what questions each would have, how any issues would be resolved and then explain things in clear, concise language.

All of this happens before the first meeting is held, a single line of code is written or an early prototype is built, because the company strongly believes that until you internalize the customer’s perspective, nothing else really matters. That’s key to how the company operates.

A Deeply Embedded Writing Culture

It’s no accident that the first step to develop a new product at Amazon is a memo rather than, say, a PowerPoint deck or a kickoff meeting. As Fareed Zakaria once put it, “Thinking and writing are inextricably intertwined. When I begin to write, I realize that my ‘thoughts’ are usually a jumble of half-baked, incoherent impulses strung together with gaping logical holes between them”.

So the company focuses on building writing skills early in an executive’s career. “Writing is a key part of our culture,” Landry told me. “I started writing press releases for smaller features and projects. One of my first was actually about packaging for diamond rings. Over years of practice and coaching, I got better at it.” Being able to write a good memo is also a key factor in advancement at Amazon. If you want to rise, you need to write and write well.

She also stressed to me the importance of brevity. “Keeping things concise and to the point forces you to think things through in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise. You can’t hide behind complexity, you actually have to work through it,” Landry said. Or, as another Amazon leader put it, “Perfection is achieved when there is nothing left to remove.”

Moreover, writing a memo isn’t a solo effort, but a collaborative process. Typically, executives spend a week or more and sharing the document with colleagues, getting feedback, honing and tweaking it until every conceivable facet is deeply thought through.

Reinventing The Office Meeting

Another unique facet of Amazon’s culture is how meetings are run. In recent years, a common complaint throughout the corporate world is how the number of meetings has become so oppressive that it’s hard to get any work done. Research from MIT shows that executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in meetings, up from less than 10 hours in 1960

At Amazon, however, the six-page memo cuts down on the number of meetings that are called. If you have to spend a week writing a memo, you don’t just start sending out invites whenever the fancy strikes you. Similarly, the company’s practice of limiting attendance to roughly the number of people that can share two pizzas also promotes restraint.

Each meeting starts out with a 30-60 minute reading period in which everybody digests the memo. From there, all attendees are asked to share gut reactions — senior leaders typically speak last — and then delve into what might be missing, ask probing questions and drill down into any potential issues that may arise.

Subsequent meetings follow the same pattern to review the financials, hone the concept and review mockups as the team further refines ideas and assumptions. “It’s usually not one big piece of feedback that you get,” Landry stressed. “It is really all about the smaller questions, they help you get to a level of detail that really brings the idea to life.”

All of this may seem terribly cumbersome to fast moving executives accustomed to zinging in and out of meetings all day, but you often need to go slow to move fast. In the case of Prime Now, the service took just 111 days to go from an idea on a piece of paper to a product launch in one zip code in Manhattan and expanded quickly from there.

Co-evolving Culture And Practice

Every company innovates differently. Apple has a fanatical focus on design. IBM’s commitment to deep scientific research has enabled it to stay on the cutting edge and compete long after most of its competitors have fallen by the wayside. Google integrates a number of innovation strategies into a seamless whole

What works for one company would likely not work for another, a fact that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos highlighted in a recent letter to shareholders. “We never claim that our approach is the right one – just that it’s ours – and over the last two decades, we’ve collected a large group of like-minded people. Folks who find our approach energizing and meaningful,” he wrote.

The truth is that there is no one “true” path to innovation because innovation, at its core, is about solving problems and every enterprise chooses different problems to solve. While IBM might be happy to have its scientists work for decades on some arcane technology and Google gladly allows its employees to pursue pet projects, those things probably wouldn’t fly at Amazon.

However, the one thing that all great innovators have in common is that culture and practice are deeply intertwined. That’s what makes them so hard to copy. Anybody can write a six-page memo or start meetings with a reading period. It’s not those specific practices, but the commitment to the values they reflect, that has driven Amazon’s incredible success.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog and previously appeared on Inc.com
— Image credits: Unsplash

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Happy Employees Make Happy Customers

Happy Employees Make Happy Customers

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Often, the best companies to do business with are the best companies to work for. When you look at the Google ratings for Round Room Holdings’ TCC and Wireless Zone, two Verizon Wireless retailers with approximately 1,200 retail stores throughout the U.S., you’ll find they are “hitting it out of the park” in both customer reviews and employee satisfaction. I had a chance to interview Chad Jensen, president of TCC and Wireless Zone since 2019, and he shed light on their incredible success, how they do it, and how any company can have similar results.

We can break down the company’s success into three areas: employees, customers, and community.

1. Employees: It all starts with the employees. Jensen’s company has a 90% employee satisfaction rating and 70% employee retention in a retail industry with annual employee turnover rates that are well over 100%. Why? Because Jensen made it abundantly clear that the company puts employees first. The best example of this came not even a year after he took over as president when he and the rest of the world faced the pandemic. His leadership style was immediately put to the test. He was adamant about taking care of the employees. First and foremost was safety, as well as a concern for mental health. And he was determined to keep people employed, saying, “Even if it meant we took a hit on our financials, we were okay with that.” He understood early on that the decisions they made would define how they came out of the pandemic. Employees knew the company had their backs. In exchange, they were confident, fulfilled, and engaged with their customers, ensuring they had an experience that would bring them back. Employee satisfaction is at 90%. As I’ve mentioned many times in my past articles, what’s happening inside an organization is felt by customers on the outside. Jensen’s strategy shows this concept can be tremendously successful.

2. Customers: A focus on the employee experience turns into a positive customer experience. The goal is to provide “the best customer service.” Being the best is a lofty goal. While it’s not a contest, the comment speaks to the commitment the retailer has to its customers. The numbers tell the story. The company’s Google score ranges from 4.7 to 4.9 out of five. Jensen beams with pride over the customer satisfaction numbers, as companies he admires, such as Disney and Chick-fil-A, don’t have numbers quite as high. Jensen said, “We checked, and Disneyland’s Google rating was a 4.5. We’re literally (making customers) happier than the ‘Happiest Place on Earth.’” While a high Google rating is validating, Jensen emphasizes it’s really about the experience that gets customers to come back.

3. Community: Jensen’s efforts to give back to the community create positive results on several levels. He explained, “The more we give back to our communities, the more presence we get, and the better employees we get.” Many companies have a purpose beyond profit. It’s typically a recognizable cause, such as sustainability, poverty, medical research, or other popular causes. Companies like Ace Hardware have raised more than $140 million for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Patagonia gives 1% of its sales to the preservation and restoration of the environment. TCC and Wireless Zone take a more grassroots approach and give back to the communities their stores serve. They sponsor community events, local pet shelters, food banks, school events, and more. They have given more than 1.3 million backpacks filled with school supplies to kids in their communities. While the corporate HQ is behind this “give back” program, it’s the employees who get the most joy out of being a part of it, once again creating a great employee experience.

By prioritizing the TCC and Wireless Zone employee experience, combined with efforts to create an amazing customer experience as well as support for the communities they serve, the result is a company with some of the lowest turnover in the retail industry, higher Google ratings than “The Happiest Place on Earth” and loyal customers who keep coming back. That’s what happens when you create a company that has what Jensen refers to as “a culture of good.”

Image Credits: Pixabay
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of May 2024

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of May 2024Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are May’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Five Lessons from the Apple Car’s Demise — by Robyn Bolton
  2. Six Causes of Employee Burnout — by David Burkus
  3. Learning About Innovation – From a Skateboard? — by John Bessant
  4. Fighting for Innovation in the Trenches — by Geoffrey A. Moore
  5. A Case Study on High Performance Teams — by Stefan Lindegaard
  6. Growth Comes From What You Don’t Have — by Mike Shipulski
  7. Innovation Friction Risks and Pitfalls — by Howard Tiersky
  8. Difference Between Customer Experience Perception and Reality — by Shep Hyken
  9. How Tribalism Can Kill Innovation — by Greg Satell
  10. Preparing the Next Generation for a Post-Digital Age — by Greg Satell

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in April that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last four years:

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Six Steps to Creating a Brand Experience Personality

Six Steps to Creating a Brand Experience Personality

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Two weeks ago, I contributed an article that compared the different concert experiences I had with two rock legends, Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr. The title of the article summed up the point I was trying to make: Transactions versus Experiences

I want to take it a step further this week. Last week’s content was meant to get you thinking. Now, I want you to take action on the content. So, here are six ways to create an experience personality that will transform your company or brand from merely providing products and services to doing so with personality:

  1. Your Company’s Personality: I don’t care what you sell. It could be military equipment or comic books. Every company has a personality, and these personalities run the gamut from serious to whimsical. What are the adjectives that customers use to describe you? How would you like them to describe you? These are two great questions to ask as you start to explore your company’s personality.
  2. Communicate Your Company’s Personality: Once you know it, don’t keep it a secret. When you know the perception you want customers to have of your organization, empower your employees to deliver on the personality.
  3. Top-Down Personality: If you want employees on the front line to deliver on the company’s personality, it must be modeled from the top down. In other words, leaders must practice the behaviors they want their employees to practice. The personality comes from the top and makes its way through the entire organization, eventually being felt by the customers.

Shep Hyken Brand Experience Personality Cartoon

  1. Manage Every Moment: I have always been a huge fan of Jan Carlson’s Moments of Truth concept, in which every interaction a customer has with a company is an opportunity for them to form an impression. These interactions include advertising, websites, people-to-people, and more. Find ways to instill the personality into all of these interactions.
  2. Get Feedback: There is only one way to know for sure that you’re delivering on your company’s personality experience. Ask your customers.
  3. Be Consistent: The only way for your experience personality to become a reality is for the experience to be consistent and predictable. It can’t be an engaging experience this time and something other than engaging next time. When customers like the experience personality, they will want to experience more of it! Consistency counts!

As you adopt these strategies, your customers will become familiar and comfortable with the experience personality you portray. Take the time to work through these steps, get everyone on board and in alignment with the personality you want to be known for, and create the experience that gets customers to say, “I’ll be back!”

Image Credits: Pixabay, Shep Hyken

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Video Killed More Than the Radio Star

Video Killed More Than the Radio Star

by Braden Kelley

If you are a child of the eighties, you will remember when MTV went live 24 hours a day with music videos on cable television August 1, 1981 with the broadcast of “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.

But I was thinking the other day about how video (or taken more broadly as streaming media – including television, movies, gaming, social media, and the internet) has killed far more things than just radio stars. Many activities have experienced substantial declines due to people staying home and engaging in these forms of entertainment – often by themselves – where in the past people would leave their homes to engage in more human-to-human-interactions.

The ten declines listed below have not only reshaped the American landscape – literally – but have also served to feed declines in the mental health of modern nations at the same time. Without further ado, here is the list

1. Bowling Alleys:

Bowling alleys, once bustling with players and leagues, have faced challenges in recent years. The communal experience of bowling has been replaced by digital alternatives, impacting the industry.

2. Roller Skating Rinks:

Roller skating rinks, which were once popular hangout spots for families and teens, have seen declining attendance. The allure of roller disco and skating parties has waned as people turn to other forms of entertainment.

3. Drive-In Movie Theaters:

Drive-in movie theaters, iconic symbols of mid-20th-century entertainment, have faced challenges in recent decades. While they once provided a unique way to watch films from the comfort of your car, changing lifestyles and technological advancements have impacted their popularity.

4. Arcade Game Centers:

In the ’80s and ’90s, video game arcades were buzzing hubs of entertainment. People flocked to play games like Pac-Man, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat. Traditional arcade game centers, filled with pinball machines, classic video games, and ticket redemption games, have struggled to compete with home gaming consoles and online multiplayer experiences. The convenience of playing video games at home has led to a decline in arcade visits. Nostalgia keeps some arcades alive, but they are no longer as prevalent as they once were.

5. Miniature Golf Courses:

Mini-golf courses, with their whimsical obstacles and family-friendly appeal, used to be popular weekend destinations. However, the rise of digital entertainment has impacted their attendance. The allure of playing a round of mini-golf under the sun has faded for many.

6. Indoor Trampoline Parks:

Indoor trampoline parks gained popularity as a fun and active way to spend time with friends and family. However, the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns forced many of these parks to close temporarily. Even before the pandemic, the availability of home trampolines and virtual fitness classes reduced the need for indoor trampoline parks. People can now bounce and exercise at home or virtually, without leaving their living rooms.

7. Live Music Venues:

Live music venues, including small clubs, concert halls, and outdoor amphitheaters, have struggled due to changing entertainment preferences. While some artists and bands continue to perform, the rise of virtual concerts and streaming services has affected attendance. People can now enjoy live music from the comfort of their homes, reducing the need to attend physical venues. The pandemic also disrupted live events, leading to further challenges for the industry.

8. Public Libraries (In-Person Visits):

Public libraries, once bustling with readers and community events, have seen a decline in in-person visits. E-books, audiobooks, and online research resources have made it easier for people to access information without physically visiting a library. While libraries continue to offer valuable services, their role has shifted from primarily physical spaces to digital hubs for learning and exploration – and a place for latchkey kids to go and wait for their parents to get off work.

10. Shopping Malls

Once bustling centers of retail and social activity, shopping malls have faced significant challenges in recent years. Various technological shifts have contributed to their decline, including e-commerce and online shopping, social media and influencer culture, changing demographics and urbanization. Shopping malls are yet another place that parents are no longer dropping off the younger generation at for the day.

And if that’s not enough, here is a bonus one for you:

11. Diners, Malt Shops, Coffee Shops, Dive Bars/Taverns, Neighborhood Pubs (UK) and Drive-In Burger Joints

If you’re a child of the seventies or eighties, no doubt you probably tuned to watch Richie, Potsie, Joanie, Fonsie and Ralph Malph gather every day at Al’s. Unfortunately, many of the more social and casual drinking and dining places are experiences declines as diet, habit and technology changes have kicked in. Demographic changes (aging out of nostalgia) and the rise of food delivery apps and takeout culture have helped to sign their death warrant.

Conclusion

In the ever-evolving landscape of entertainment, video and streaming media have reshaped our experiences and interactions. As we bid farewell to once-thriving institutions, we recognize both the convenience and the cost of this digital transformation. For example, the echoes of strikes and spares have faded as digital alternatives replace the communal joy of bowling. As we navigate this digital era, let us cherish what remains and adapt to what lies ahead. Video may have transformed our world, but the echoes of lost experiences linger, urging us to seek balance in our screens and our souls. As these once ubiquitous gathering places disappear, consumer tastes change and social isolation increases, will we as a society seek to reverse course or evolve to some new way of reconnecting as humans in person? And if so, how?

What other places and/or activities would you have added to the list?
(sound off in the comments)

p.s. Be sure and follow both my personal account and the Human-Centered Change and Innovation community on LinkedIn.

Image credit: Pixabay

References:
(1) Duwamish Drive-In was not really about the movies. https://mynorthwest.com/289708/duwamish-drive-in-not-really-about-the-movies/.
(3) How online gaming has become a social lifeline – BBC. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201215-how-online-gaming-has-become-a-social-lifeline.
(3) Social media brings benefits and risks to teens. Psychology can help …. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2023/09/protecting-teens-on-social-media.
(4) Frontiers | Social Connectedness, Excessive Screen Time During COVID-19 …. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fhumd.2021.684137/full.

How to Create a Good Loyalty Program

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

What is a loyalty program? It’s a program designed to get customers to come back. That’s different than true customer loyalty, but it’s a pretty darn good start. In our 2024 State of Customer Service and CX research (sponsored by RingCentral), we included a section of questions that focused on customer loyalty and rewards programs. Before we get into the findings, let’s look at three examples of some of the best.

1. Amazon Prime: When I Googled the question, “Is Amazon Prime a membership program or a loyalty program?” the first answer came from an NBC News article that included this description: “Amazon Prime is Amazon’s paid loyalty program. …” First, Amazon offers tremendous value for its program, including free shipping, Prime TV and more, which by itself is worth paying for. However, there is also the psychology that if you pay for something, you want to get value from it, so use it. Therefore, many Amazon customers choose Amazon over competitors because they pay for the loyalty program and want to get the most value from it. Of course, Amazon is known for its stellar customer experience, so that combined with the Prime program gives it a competitive advantage over other online retailers.

2. Restoration Hardware: When you pay $200/year for its RH Members Program, you get 25% off all full-priced merchandise and 20% additional savings on sales items. In addition, you get complimentary access to its designers. The RH program is more of a discount program than a true loyalty program, but it does what it’s supposed to do, which is to get customers to come back. Like Amazon, I Googled the RH Members Program to see what others said, and many referred to it as a “Premium Loyalty Program.” And with that premium price, an RH customer expects a premium customer experience, and Restoration Hardware delivers.

3. American Airlines: American Airlines consistently ranks high among frequent flier programs, and The Points Guy rates AA as the best for earning status without ever flying. Using the AA credit card (most airlines have affiliations with credit card companies), you can rack up miles for free trips and status. An Omnisend.com article on loyalty programs included AA as the only airline in its list of 10 Businesses with the Best Loyalty Programs. I’ve been in the AA program since the 1980s and have amassed miles, perks and status. Reaching any level of status on the airline gives you more than perks. Employees recognize when passengers are members of their program and, quite simply put, “They treat you right.”

These are examples of paid and/or free loyalty programs and membership programs. There could be a book written to describe the many versions of loyalty programs. Most are marketing programs, focused on repeat business. There are points, discounts, perks, and now, experiences. Zsuzsa Kecsmar, co-founder of Antavo, a customizable loyalty platform and publisher of the Global Customer Loyalty Report, adds, “Loyalty programs used to be earn-and-burn. You spend a dollar and earn a point. But today’s loyalty programs can do much more with experiential rewards, early access and rewarding other activities outside of purchasing.”

As mentioned, are many versions of loyalty programs. A restaurant may offer a punch card where every fifth sandwich is free. Customers may be willing to pay to be part of a “loyalty program” to get perks and discounts. With all that in mind, here are some interesting findings from our research to help you decide if the effort to create a loyalty program is worth it:

  • 61% of customers said rewards programs were important to giving a company or brand repeat business.
  • 46% are willing to pay more for a company or brand that has a good loyalty or rewards program.
  • 76% are more likely to return to a company that has a good customer rewards program.
  • 57% would choose to switch to a brand that has a loyalty program if another brand did not.
  • 55% have recommended a brand or company to others because of its loyalty program.
  • 39% have made an unplanned purchase just to earn more points or rewards.

If a loyalty program is part of your business model (or if you’re considering it), these findings make the point. The numbers make a compelling argument for developing a loyalty program. The last finding is especially intriguing. Almost four in 10 customers made a purchase just to earn more points or rewards.

Realize that a loyalty program is more often a marketing program. Some consumers become loyal to the program more than to the company or brand. True loyalty is about a customer being emotionally connected to a company, not just to the perks and points in a loyalty program. If you combine an amazing customer experience with a loyalty program, you have a winning combination.

Image Credits: Unsplash

This article originally appeared on Forbes.com

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Transactions versus Experiences

Transactions versus Experiences

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

In the past few months, I’ve been to several concerts. I’d say the entertainers were legends in the industry. Two of them were Bob Dylan and Ringo Starr (of the Beatles). Both are talented beyond words. They both have successful careers. They have both been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s important for you to know this, just in case you don’t know who they are. It’s a generational thing. If you were born in this century, you probably don’t know either of them, but trust me, they are rock stars and legends!

There was a difference in their shows. Bob Dylan came out and played. He barely spoke a word to the audience. His music was enough for his true fans. But for some of us who saw the legend for the first time, we might have expected more than just songs. If all we wanted was the music, we could have listened to his albums on iTunes or Spotify.

Ringo Starr, on the other hand, did more than just play songs. He brought energy and enthusiasm to the stage. While he and his all-star band played their most popular songs, there was more to the show. He shared commentary and stories, so the audience felt they had a glimpse into the personality of one of the most famous and iconic musicians on the planet.

This is the lead-in to today’s lesson, which is to understand the difference between experiencing a company or brand, and simply doing business with it.

Shep Hyken Magician Cartoon

The concert examples are not unlike two companies competing for a customer’s business. A company that doesn’t showcase its “personality” may be missing an opportunity to create a personal connection.

If you want to see this in action, go visit a Trader Joe’s grocery store and ask several of the crew members – their term for employees – some questions. Experience their reputation for fun, which goes beyond the employees’ personalities and includes a uniform, which is a somewhat “loud” Hawaiian shirt.

So, which company or brand are you? You don’t need outgoing employees wearing loud Hawaiian shirts for a customer to experience your brand. The point is to do something that makes the customer feel as if they are experiencing more than, for lack of a better description, placing an order and having it fulfilled. The distinction between merely conducting business with a company and truly experiencing it lies in the unique personality and engagement the company and its employees bring to every interaction.

Image Credits: Pexels

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Difference Between Customer Experience Perception and Reality

Difference Between Customer Experience Perception and Reality

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

This is an important topic that every CEO, business owner, leader, manager, and supervisor must understand. When it comes to customer service and customer experience (CX), there is a difference between perception and reality.

First, how we think our customers perceive our customer service and CX is often not the reality. It’s just our perception. Reality isn’t what we think or believe. It’s what our customers say. Often, there is a big difference between our perception and the reality of our customers’ experiences.

Some may be saying, “Shep, you’ve covered this before.” Yes, however, it is worth covering again, especially since my friend Stephen Van Belleghem released his excellent book, A Diamond In the Rough, where he quotes a Bain survey finding that “80% of CEOs think their company is customer-centric, but only 8% of customers agree.”

One of my LinkedIn followers, Rajat Chawla, read my Forbes article about Van Belleghem’s book and asked, “What’s your best advice to bridge the gap?” As I always promise, if you reach out to me on any social channel and ask a question, I’ll answer it there or in my newsletter, videos, podcast, or on my TV show, Be Amazing or Go Home. So, here’s my answer:

There are at least three strategies for narrowing the gap between these perceptions:

  1. Leaders need to pay attention to their data. After they do a self-assessment, which is their perception, they should – if they haven’t already – survey their customers to discover their reality. That’s the most accurate way to measure the difference.
  2. Leaders should “mystery shop” their companies themselves. They should learn firsthand what it’s like to be a customer. They should be looking for the experiences their customers receive during peak hours or in the middle of the night, what a sales call is like compared to a customer service call, and more.
  3. Finally, leaders should spend time on the front line, either shadowing (listening in) on customer support calls or taking the calls themselves. I addressed spending time on the front line in my first book, Moments of Magic when I covered the All Aboard program in which executives spent one day each quarter with a salesperson visiting customers. In my most recent book, I’ll Be Back, I wrote about how Bill Gates visited the customer support center and asked to take customer support calls. The power of spending time on the front line is undisputed! Experiencing firsthand comments from customers is a powerful dose of reality – hopefully, good reality!

Customer Experience Reality Cartoon

What I love about these three strategies is that other than a little time and effort, there is little or no expense to implement them. So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already done so, discover the difference between your perceptions and your customers’ reality. And my wish for you is that there is little or no difference between the two!

Image Credits: Unsplash

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of April 2024

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of April 2024Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are April’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Ignite Innovation with These 3 Key Ingredients — by Howard Tiersky
  2. What Have We Learned About Digital Transformation? — by Geoffrey A. Moore
  3. The Collective Growth Mindset — by Stefan Lindegaard
  4. Companies Are Not Families — by David Burkus
  5. 24 Customer Experience Mistakes to Stop in 2024 — by Shep Hyken
  6. Transformation is Human Not Digital — by Greg Satell
  7. Embrace the Art of Getting Started — by Mike Shipulski
  8. Trust as a Competitive Advantage — by Greg Satell
  9. 3 Innovation Lessons from The Departed — by Robyn Bolton
  10. Humans Are Not as Different from AI as We Think — by Geoffrey A. Moore

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in March that continue to resonate with people:

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Are Your Customer Surveys Costing You Business?

Are Your Customer Surveys Costing You Business?

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Why does a company send out a customer satisfaction survey? Generally, it is to find out if they did a good job or what they can do to make the experience better.

In the weekly Super Amazing Show I do with Brittany Hodak, we talked about surveys. The general consensus was that shorter was better. After the show, we heard from John Hughes, who is connected with me on LinkedIn. Here is a shortened version of his comment:

“Saying, ‘Short surveys are better,’ is a bit like saying tall people are better at basketball. Yes, it helps, but you still have to be talented and have that extra ‘something’ to be a professional basketball player. … Rather than focusing on short surveys, I would say companies should truly investigate the principles by which customers choose them and then try to match the survey to the customers’ willingness to help. Ironically, customers at top service companies (think Ritz-Carlton, USAA, Chewy, Amazon, and Navy Federal Credit Union) are actually more willing to take longer surveys because they appreciate the relationship. An unwillingness to take a survey can be the most direct measure they do not value the relationship.”

First, I love John’s comment, especially the analogy to professional basketball. I won’t argue that some brands have customers who are more willing to take the longer surveys; however, Brittany and I were talking in general terms. And in general, short surveys get higher response rates. I shared with John that depending on how many surveys are sent out – as in a large number – the company can keep the surveys short and ask different questions, which should give them similar feedback as if they sent out fewer longer surveys.

Shep Hyken Customer Survey Cartoon

Here are some findings from our 2024 Customer Service and CX research (sponsored by RingCentral) that back up my comments:

  1. In 2024, 67% of customers said they don’t complete surveys if they are too long.
  2. Furthermore, almost one in five (19%) of customers stopped doing business with a company or brand because its satisfaction surveys were too long.
  3. And 23% of customers stopped doing business with a company because it kept sending too many surveys.

It’s not all gloom and doom for surveys. There are plenty of people who are happy to complete surveys, and we’ll share some of those findings later this year.

Back to John’s comment about customers at top service companies who will take the time to answer longer surveys. There are some rock star brands that are so good that customers are compelled to share their experience in a survey, be it long or short. But for most of us mere mortals, we should pay attention to what most customers are telling us about customer satisfaction surveys.

Image Credits: Unsplash

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