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We all took a personality test – now what?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

We all took a personality test, so how do we use what we learned in our coaching conversations?

That’s what the Customer Service Manager asked me during a training program on coaching.

“We all took a personality test and I am like this ___ and my colleague is like that ___,  So how do we bring the results of our personality tests into the quality coaching conversation?”

That’s a fair question.

One I hear now and then in our coaching classes.

 

So I asked this question in return

I usually advise folks to not answer a question with a question.  It can be considered rude – even aggressive.

But my intention was to use this question to get us to dig deeper into what the answer might be.  Here’s what I asked –

“Before we get into the coaching conversation, can you talk to each other about the ways you’re already using what you learned from the personality test in all of the other conversations that you’re having with the people around you?”

I continued…

“Because the quality coaching conversation is only one of a dozen possible conversations you’re having with your people throughout the course of the day.

For example, you observed something good, you observed something not so good, you praised something, you provided guidance on a task, you asked someone to stay late if they could. Maybe you even gave a performance review.

How have you used what you learned about someone else – via the personality tests – in these other conversations?”

Then I concluded by saying –

“Your answers here are clues to how you can apply what you know about someone in a coaching conversation.”

 

The room got quiet and I bet you can guess why

It turned out that taking the personality test was kind of fun.

And learning about what kind of people we were was also kind of fun.

But what folks had learned about each other hadn’t been put into any kind of formal practice.

It had been treated like a parlor game.  And wasn’t appearing in any of the conversations that people had with each other.

 

It’s important to get to know the people you work with on an individual level

As you learn about the people you work with and they learn about you, the decisions you mutually make about working together end up applying to the entire relationship.

To all the conversations.

Not just the coaching conversation.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/dear-trainers-engagement-shouldnt-be-the-goal

Thank you for reading!

Thank you for reading this article today!

If you’d like to stay up to date on our articles and other information just send over your email address or add it to the contact form on our website.

Thank you!

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unspla

The best $380,000 I ever spent

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

“If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”
Adam Grant

In our first year of operation, the company I founded earned a profit of $80,000.  That was in Singapore in 2001.

We had done well with two Customer Service workshops I’d written and we’d landed two global Mystery Shopper research programs which were well underway.

Business was off to a great start.

But I knew that what had made us successful so far wasn’t going to necessarily make us successful in the mid to long term.

I hadn’t left working in the corporate world just to find myself having to go back in to that because I hadn’t helped my Clients solve their problems.

So I took $40,000 of that first year profit, signed a contract with a consulting firm in California and flew myself and a Singaporean colleague to live in the isolated mountaintop home of the firm’s founder.

For a month.

 

Why did we spend a month on a mountain top in California? 

It’s a reasonable question.

My colleague and I travelled to the U.S. to receive four weeks of private instruction in Contact Center management directly from the consulting firm’s founder.

I had done my homework before signing on the dotted line and everything went the way it was supposed to go.

It was a superb and intellectually intense month.

Every morning we were up and seated in our Instructor’s home office to start class at 9:00AM.

Our 12:30 – 1:30 lunch consisted of sandwiches that he made for us in his big kitchen downstairs (which my Singaporean colleague despaired of at one point saying, “Argh, in Asia we prefer to eat warm food!”).

To highlight how isolated we were, the Instructor had his own small plane and airstrip and he flew himself to most of his engagements.

Aside from two or three trips into town, we lived as if we were in boarding school.  And I loved almost every minute.

Over the four weeks we covered four different domains of Contact Center knowledge in great depth:

  • Operations Management
  • Leadership & Business Management
  • People Management
  • Customer Relationship Management (for CX folks remember it was 2002)

The deep grounding in know-how that I gained in that month has informed my view of the Customer ecosystem ever since.

Which I can summarize as this belief –

I believe that leading & managing in the Customer ecosystem, whether Contact Center Management or Customer Experience Management, is a business discipline.

As with any business discipline, there is an essential level of know-how, across multiple domains, that an industry professional needs in order to avoid negative outcomes and achieve great outcomes.

In the Customer industry, as was true in my own case, people don’t typically go to school to learn these things.

Many people in Customer Service & Customer Experience end up in the industry by accident and then end up learning on the job, which as you’d expect can be very hit or miss.

I know this because I’ve met thousands of these folks in our workshops and have had the privileged opportunity to listen to their stories.

And it’s my own story too.

 

By Year 6, I had signed checks totallying nearly$380,000 

By the sixth year of my company’s operations, I had signed checks totalling nearly $380,000 to cover costs including IP & content rights, long distance travel expenses to join workshops and meetings and to pay for various membership & certifications for myself and our Team Members.

And it was worth every penny.

Clients were flying me all over the world to teach their people how to succeed in the Customer ecosystem.

I remember one week where I finished a class in Beijing in the evening, went to the airport to board a flight, landed in Delhi in the early morning hours and took a taxi straight to the venue to begin a class there.

And I continued to write training content of our own.

Which our Business Partners and Clients began to buy or license from us and which created another stream of business for the company.

 

I’m grateful I came up through Finance

I came up through Finance before entering the Customer domain. So the concept of a business discipline was second nature for me.

To get hired for the kinds of senior level Finance jobs I held required a relevant university degree and industry certifications.

Of course you learn on the job.

But I never heard any VP, Finance say that their bosses were fine that they learn how to prepare accurate financial statements ‘on the job’.

It’s both. Formal knowledge + experience.

Where you apply your knowledge based on the context and culture where you work.

In my last Finance role, I worked at a direct marketing company that sold music, children’s toys and gardening tools via TV commercials and catalogs.

We served our Customers through our own Contact Center & Distribution Center based in El Segundo, California.

I’d been preparing the financials and budgets for both the Contact & Distribution Centers for a few years and knew the numbers inside and out.

 

Then a remarkable thing happened that changed my life

One day the current VP, Operations had resigned from her post to take another job. An hour later the CEO called me up and offered me her position.

To move from VP, Finance to VP, Contact Centre & Distribution Operations.

I was honored and excited and said yes right away.

Looking back, I think my finance background was one of the key reasons the senior team extended the offer to me.

The fact that I knew the numbers and was able to explain them had earned me face time and trust with very senior people.

I was also fortunate that the outgoing VP, Operations had been so generous with her time, often explaining the art & science of Contact Center Management as we’d have lunch or take long walks around the grounds.

Of course over the next eight years of senior Contact Center positions in the U.S. and Asia I learned a lot on the job.

Experience matters and helped me grow.

But I absolutely knew that I wasn’t a master of the domain. That I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

And I was the VP, Operations with nearly a decade of solid work experience!

I filled the gaps as best I could but anyone who has worked in Operations will tell you that taking time off to learn is tough. You’re often on call 24 x 7.

So when I left the corporate world and started my own company, I was committed to closing the gaps in my knowledge as soon as I could.

I mean how could I credibly help Clients solve their problems and become their preferred provider if I didn’t have the know-how to do so?

And that’s how I ended up on a mountain top in California.

 

You’ve got to know what you’re doing

One of the most common comments we get from Participants in our workshops is this: “I wish I had taken this course earlier. If only I had known this stuff earlier. Now that I can see the full picture it all makes sense.”

To which I reply with Maya Angelou’s wonderful quote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

And no, you don’t have to do what I did.  You don’t have to start your own company and spend $380,000.

I know what I did is pretty unique.

But the lesson for me has paid off.

In an industry that requires business discipline level know-how, and one where people generally don’t go to school for this stuff, it’s never a bad idea to look in the mirror and say, ” I don’t know what I don’t know.”

And then doing something about it.

What lessons can Contact Centre folks learn from CX folks?

Thank you for reading!

If you’d like to stay up to date on our articles and other information just send me your email or add your details to the contact form on our website.

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

Daniel Ord teaches the Customer Experience Team at Agoda in Shanghai.

Cover photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

 

 

I think our Reports Person has lost the plot

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

When you’re not sure why the reports you generate matter, or wonder if they even make sense, it’s time to take a step back.

“I think our Reports Person has lost the plot.”

That’s what one of our Participants said to the group after we had finished working through the Contact Centre metrics topic in a recent workshop.

“They generate these complex reports that no one really understands. It’s a big relief to know I don’t have to just accept them simply because we’ve always done it this way.”

That share prompted another Participant in the course to display a report that was being used in their Centre.

As we all stared at the screen trying to figure out what the report was meant to achieve, here is what she said:

“My predecessor who created this report had been in the role a long time.

So our big bosses and everyone in the team assumed that they were an ‘expert’. And that this report was industry standard or at least ‘right’ in some way. 

Based on what I’ve learned in this course so far I’ve already emailed our CEO and told them that we’re going to redefine some of the terms we use and present our performance to them in a better report.

I got a very positive response to that!”

 

I had my own story to share

I shared the story of how, after delivering a global workshop on-site with a Client, the reports person for that company spent nearly two hours explaining one metric that they created and used to track performance in their Centre.

That explanation was so confusing that even to this day, with half a dozen photos of the whiteboard in my phone, I still can’t quite make heads or tails of it.

And as it turned out – as I met others in that same company – nobody else could understand it either.

The calculations presented may have been highly accurate.  And may have served a higher level purpose.

But complexity in place of clarity is never a good idea.

If you’re running a Contact Centre or Customer Experience group and your folks need a PhD to understand a metric that’s supposed to guide their behaviour, you’ve already got a problem.

Because the very people who are supposed to make it ‘happen’ can’t explain it.Which means they can’t understand it either.

 

Sometimes people who are new to the role have an advantage over those with years of experience

I sometimes find that people who are new to the industry have an easier time to stand up and ask, “Why do we do this? What is this report supposed to help us with? Is it actually helping?”

Experience is great.

But be cautious about assuming that years of experience – and doing the same thing over and over – is a reliable indicator that we’re doing the right thing.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/the-london-tube-map-and-cx-strategy-a-story

Reports are more than just reports

It’s easy to say they’re just reports. But that’s a big oversimplification.

Reports – and especially what’s on them – tell people in a formal and structured way what matters around here.  If we measure it, then it must be important.

Which guides people’s behaviour. And people’s behaviour informs the work culture.

Challenge yourself from time to time to be really clear on which reports matter and which ones, perhaps, don’t.

Because it’s so worth it to get it right.

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/why-years-of-experience-is-not-the-best-predictor-of-contact-centre-success

Thank you for reading!

Thank you for the time you took to read this today.  I appreciate it!

If you’d like to be kept updated on new articles and information just share your email address directly with my by email or on the contact form on our website.

Daniel Ord

[email protected]

www.omnitouchinternational.com

 

Dear Contact Centre – please stop tai chi’ing your Customers

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

In this short article I warn against tai chi’ing your Contact Centre Customers when they need your help.

There are many odd approaches to achieving productivity in the Contact Centre industry

There’s a long list of odd approaches to achieving productivity in the Contact Centre.

One of my least favorites is what I call tai chi’ing the Customer.

If you’re familiar with the formal practice of Tai Chi it originated in ancient China and is one of the most effective exercises for health of mind and body.

When I lived in Los Angeles I practiced tai chi to manage my own personal stress and reduce blood pressure.

But in the Contact Centre it’s not a good thing and here’s what it sounds like –

Good morning this is Andrew, how may I help you?

Hi Andrew, Siti here. Can I ask how to apply for the scholarship?

Sure Siti.   It’s all on the website.  Just visit abc.com and you’ll find everything there.

 Short, sweet , unhelpful.

But it kept the call short!

It’s tai chi’ing when you push someone to self-help without offering to help first.

Designed journeys have exception handling too

Sure – perhaps a particular Customer journey was designed in such a way that the Customer would have ideally gone to the website first.

But when you offer multiple channels, you’ve made an implicit promise to honor the Customer regardless of which channel(s) they decide to use.

When I work with students in Customer Experience courses I explain it this way –

“When your Customer wakes up in the morning they have a choice.  A choice in how they interact with you.

They could call, email, text, or drop in on your Service Centre as they’ll be in town running errands anyway.

No matter what choice they make, we honor them and help get the job done.”

Journey mapping practitioners recognize that some percentage of voice calls come in after Customers tried self-service first.

And that happens when the self-service option failed to deliver the desired information or required too much effort.

Referred to as containment this is a measure of the percentage of enquiries  fully resolved within a particular channel.

And it’s never 100%.

So for a Customer to be tai chi’ed on a voice call – right back to the self-service channel that had failed in the first place – is clearly not an award winning strategy.

The danger of measuring service through compliance measures

We worked with a large educational institution on their Contact Centre Mystery Shopper program.

To allow for trending,  the compliance standards used for measurement had not been refreshed or updated for years.

And sure enough, all the greetings, closings and using the Customer’s name ‘two times’ were achieved and generated high percentage scores for the program.

They were all happy.

But during our analysis of the conversations, we picked up on the extensive use of Tai Chi by the Agents.

Though we reported it in our findings the management wasn’t that interested.

Later on when we checked, we learned that the Tai Chi approach was a directive from Contact Centre management to keep the calls short.

Ah ok.  We had simply picked up on what the Agents had been asked to do.

Another weird way that productivity rears its head in the industry while damaging the Customer Experience.

How about a version like this?

Good morning this is Andrew, how may I help you?

Hi Andrew, Siti here. Can I ask how to apply for the scholarship?

Sure Siti. Happy to help with that!

(A bit of to and fro to address Siti’s needs)

Ok Siti – have you viewed our website before? 

Ah ok – no worries – let me show you where, in future, you can easily reference what we’ve been taking about on this call.

What if Customers fed back that the website did not provide an easy reference?

No problem.

Because this becomes business intelligence to be funneled to the CX Team for action so the website can better meet its purpose.

Thank you for reading (and please – no more Tai Chi!),

Daniel

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 1 Comment

When you coach you’re either helping or keeping score.  In this short article I explain the difference between the two.

We measure everything!

In the Contact Centre industry we tend to be obsessed with measuring things.

From Occupancy rates through to Net Promoter Score we have dashboards and dials for everything.  (Even though not everything matters.)

And we have a whole special set of measurements reserved just for Contact Centre Agents.

When we’re able to influence and guide our Agents to better Productivity, Quality & Attitude, life is good.

And measuring progress quantitatively along the way is fine.  It’s really important to let people know how they are doing.

Measuring Quality

One of the most important processes in the Centre is Monitoring & Coaching.

We monitor Customer interactions, document our findings and talk to the Agents about their performance.

Great Monitoring & Coaching improves Quality, drives better Customer Satisfaction and delivers higher Employee Engagement.

It’s a multivitamin process with lots of great benefits.

But only when it is well designed.

There are many questions to answer to create a great Monitoring & Coaching process

The Monitoring & Coaching process is more complex than it first appears on paper.

  • Who should monitor interactions?
  • How often should we monitor?
  • What do we monitor for?
  • Who makes the rules for defining and calibrating Performance Standards?
  • How often should we listen, how should we listen, what do we listen for?

And when it comes to Agents –

  • Who should talk to Agents?
  • With what frequency should we talk to Agents?
  • What is the role of Quality Assurance?
  • What is the role of the Team Leader?
  • When or how should a score be involved?

Wow – there’s a lot involved.  But there are some answers too.

Let’s focus in on the use of scoring.

What is the role of the Scorecard?

Let’s zoom in questions around scoring.

  • What is the role of the Monitoring ‘Scorecard’?
  • Do I have to use it every time I speak with my Agent about their interaction?
  • Do I as a Team Leader use it or does Quality Assurance use it?

You’re either helping or you’re keeping score

In our Client work, we find that both Team Leaders and Quality Assurance have an unhealthy attachment to the scorecard.

Every quality discussion with an Agent involves a score.

Even side by side sessions – the rare times they seem to be conducted – involve a scorecard.

Isn’t this all rather disheartening and unnecessary? And typically all the Agent wants to know is the score.  Or ‘did I pass or not pass’?

That’s not a formula for improvement.  And a sure sign there is confusion between helping or keeping score.

What do we mean by that?

Scorecards are wonderful tools for gathering quantitative data.

Providing a developmental summary of scores across randomly selected interactions can be a great tool for Agent performance trending.

Here’s your trend here.  Here’s your trend there.  The big picture of performance and what contributes to it.

But scoring on a day to day basis in the Centre can inhibit growth.

Imagine your Agent comes to you and says –

“Boss, I’d like you to help me with my communication skills. Can you sit with me and listen to a few of my calls and give me your thoughts?” 

You reply, –

“Sure, give me a minute to get my scorecards – I’ve got to score everything I hear and that we talk about – be right there…”

I don’t think you would say this.

Even writing these lines makes me cringe.

The role of a Coach within the context of transactional coaching is to help their Agent get better and better at what they do.

Since when did helping someone get better involve a score?

Scorecards don’t change behaviour

A Scorecard is a judging tool.

It tells you how you did.

Just like watching the scores presented by Olympic Judges after the skater has skated, or the diver made their dive.

They tell you how you did.  But they aren’t designed to help you get better.

It makes me sad when Quality Assurance people tell me that all they do is issue scorecards and hope that Agent quality performance improves.

Dream on.

But helping people changes behaviour

What the best coaches do is sit with their folks – on a regular basis – and help them get better.

They understand that helping is something they do for their people.

“Here’s where you did well.  Here’s where you can improve.”

With no score attached. And why would you need one?

And the more you help someone – the better they will score when the time comes.

In closing

When people ask me how many interactions they should monitor I ask them to rephrase the question.

“How many interactions will you monitor for scoring purposes and to provide trending?” 

“And how many interactions will you conduct to help your Agent get better?”

Then add the answers to these two questions together to get your answer.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

 

From Contact Centre Management to Customer Experience Management – do you have what it takes?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

The purpose of this article is to share some thoughts on what it takes to move from Contact Centre management to Customer Experience management.

It seems to be a logical move

In the past year I’ve had a few discreet enquiries from Contact Centre Managers about what it takes to move from Contact Centre management into Customer experience management.

I think it’s a great question and I honor it.

And though it seems to be a logical move, it’s important to first establish that Customer Experience management is a different field than Contact Centre management.

So let’s start by looking at where you work now.

Because that is where your experience begins and much of your exposure lies.

Does your Organization pursue Customer Experience as a business strategy?

Not every Organization pursues Customer Experience.

We have to get that out of the way first.

Of course no smart CEO is going to disparage Customer Experience in conversation.

But talking about Customer Experience and doing what it takes, organizationally, are two completely different things.

And there are many viable ‘maturity models’ out there you can use to peg your Organization’s Customer Experience level of maturity.

Forrester, Jeanne Bliss, Beyond Philosophy all openly share well thought out maturity models.

Look them up – answer the questions. Estimate the organizational maturity level where you work.

You’ll need to understand Customer Experience maturity models if you want to move into Customer Experience management in any case.

Obviously if you work somewhere that operates at a higher plateau of maturity – you have a leg up.

You can see, feel and taste what Customer Experience feels like at an organizational level.

There’s a common misunderstanding

The most common misunderstanding I come across in conferences and workshops is that Contact Centre folks confuse Customer Experience and Customer Service.

Customer Experience is not Customer Service on steroids.

Being good at Customer Service and being good at Customer Experience are two different things.

Of course there is overlap.

Consider the diagram show below.  Customer Service is a subset of Customer Experience.

And in this second diagram you can see that the Contact Centre is a subset of Customer Service.

Remember that the Contact Centre is only one possible touchpoint of the Customer Experience.  And not every Customer uses the Contact Centre.

If you conflate the two terms – Customer Experience & Customer Service – you won’t just confuse yourself.  You will confuse others around you.

I see this all the time.

Contact Centre Management runs around talking about Customer Experience without using the term in the right context.

The way you manage your Centre says a lot about your Customer Experience potential

Let’s look at how you manage your Centre now – and what that bodes for your future in Customer Experience.

Efficiency in the Contact Centre matters.  But there are right ways and wrong ways to achieve efficiency.

You learn this in Operations management.

If your focus as a Contact Centre leader is on metrics like # of Calls Handled, Average Handling Time ane/or Occupancy you’re going to have a challenge graduating up to Customer Experience.

Because not a single one of these metrics has anything to do with the Customer’s point of view.

Ask yourself.

What metrics have I set for my Centre Andy with Team that reflect the Customer’s point of view?  Their voice?  What matters to them?

How seriously do we take those around here?

Quality in a Contact Centre matters.  But there are right ways and wrong ways to achieve quality.

If your Centre talks about quality that’s great.

But how is it achieved?

Is there regular and ongoing coaching that helps people improve?

Or is your Centre a scorecard factory where issuing scorecards substitutes for meaningful dialogue between Frontliners & Management?

At it’s heart, Customer Experience is a people-business, with Customers at the heart and Employees & Partners across the organization as part of the overall ecosystem.

Your proven ability to bring the best out of the people you work with is a great indicator of Customer Experience management success.

Funny things Contact Centre Managers ask their Agents to do

What kind of culture exists in your Centre?

How do your Frontline Agents describe Customers?

Do they describe them as irritating?  Entitled?  Annoying?  Unreasonable?  Do Team Leaders chime in and say the same thing?

If so you’ve got a culture issue within your Centre.

And if there’s any place where a Customer-centric culture should be strong – that’s the Contact Centre.

If you’ve been able to get your Contact Centre folks to be Customer-obsessed, that bodes well for your ability to influence others outside the Centre when you’re in a Customer Experience role.

Let’s get financial for a moment

Customer Experience gets a fluffy reputation.

That happens when Customer Experience oriented folks struggle to articulate the concrete benefits of organizational Customer Experience.

Your experience in Contact Centre management should have exposed you to annual budgeting, project-based budgeting, ROI analyses and the like.

Because as tempting as it can be to argue the case for Customer Experience ‘because it is the right thing to do’, that method will fail you every time.

The ability to present a solid business case, using the language of business – numbers – is an important skill set for Customer Experience professionals.

We can’t ignore the power of influence

Last in my list for this article – the power of influence.

I always say that that best Contact Centre Managers work up and out.

By that I mean they are seldom in the Centre.  I succeeded in my operations career because I had super-charged Supervisors.

That enabled me to work with other Departments & Functions to see how the Centre could help them solve problems.

And asking how we could work together to solve Customer problems as well.

Ask yourself.

What’s my reputation within the Organization?

Am I seen as credible?  Have I helped establish trusted relationships across functions?

Because Customer Experience management involves politics.  Politics in the positive sense here.

Using influence, reputation and track record to get folks involved in making Customer’s lives better.  It’s a big part of the job.

In closing

I don’t think you have to come up through the Contact Centre industry to succeed in Customer Experience management.

But with that said, if you’re able to channel the Customer-centricity you achieved in the ‘heart’ of Customer Service to the organization at large – you’ve got some very specific advantages.

And I’d add that you look at CCXP Certification.  It’s intensive but robust and internationally recognized.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel

 

What behaviours do Customer Experience professionals display?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International 1 Comment

In this short article I share thoughts on Customer Experience professionals  – and the behaviours they exhibit not just at work – but in practice in their daily lives.

I was having a relaxed lunch at McDonalds, sitting at an outdoor patio here in sunny Singapore.

As I looked around, many empty tables were covered with dirty trays, even though there was a convenient Return Station located in the corner of the patio.

First I thought of my Mom.  She would never have allowed us to leave trash behind us for others to clean up (thanks Mom).

Then I shifted my thinking over to Customer Experience.

Would a Customer Experience professional leave their dirty tray behind at a McDonalds?

What kind of Customer experience does your Contact Center deliver?

It’s not what you say, it’s what you do

One of my dear friends says, “If you want to know the health of the tree, examine the fruit.”

Still sitting at McDonalds sipping my Coke, I took out some paper and jotted down the behaviours I think Customer Experience professionals display in their daily lives.

In today’s parlance, their ‘authentic selves’ – behaviours that happen even when no on is watching.

Did you clear your tray at the food court or fast food restaurant even if someone else is paid to do that?

If you did that’s cool.

It shows you have humility.

It’s hard to imagine that folks who have too much pride to clear their own trays are able to put someone else front and centre in their thinking.

It also shows you have empathy.

When you see a lot of dirty trays lying around, you probably think – ‘my goodness the poor staff who has to come out and clean this all up.’

‘Let me do my part to help.’

Humility & empathy.  Check.

In the last week did  you read an article, crack open a book, watch a video or attend a class?

If you did that’s cool.

Customer Experience is fascinating in part because of the depth and breadth of the subject matter.

No one can know everything about Customer Experience – and that means there’s always something to learn.

Your once a year seminar?  Well that’s nice.

Do you brush your teeth once a year?  Wash your car once a year?

I think the best Customer Experience professionals regularly read, watch, interact and listen to content that beefs up their know-how and perspectives.

In the last month did you send a Compliment Letter or post a positive review on social media?

Great Customer Experience people look for the ‘good’ in what they experience.

The lady at the salad counter at the grocery store, the bus driver, the Call Centre Agent that helped you untangle a sticky problem.

The shampoo that really worked.

Organizations and people love to hear from you when they do good.

Complaints are easy.  Anyone can complain.

But identifying the good in what you see – and taking the time and effort to salute that – is important.  That’s how you celebrate what’s going well in your organization too.

In the last month did you visit an art gallery, read a non-work related book or attend a concert?

If so that’s cool.

Delivering a great Customer experience takes imagination.

And the arts, in any form, serve as food for the imagination.

If you’re all work, work, work your perspective shrinks, your ability to connect the dots diminishes and your experience of the world becomes a bit more grey.

Did you do what you said you would do?

So you RSVP’d for the party – but you didn’t go.

You said you would help your neighbor out with clearing the rubbish, but you got busy at work.

You told your friend you would meet them for coffee, but something came up.

It’s hard to deliver a consistent and positive experience for Customers if you don’t do what you said you would do.

And doing what you said you would do begins in your own personal life.

Excuses have no place in a Customer Experience professional’s toolbox of behaviours.

Did you write an article, give a speech, speak on a podcast, share a story in your company Town Hall?

The best Customer Experience professionals give back.

I read an article that stated that less than 1% of LinkedIn Members publish their own content.

That made me sad.

But I bet if you took that analysis down to the Customer Experience profession, you’d see a much higher percentage contribution.

That’s because the best Customer Experience professionals share.  And there are so many ways to share.

  • Write an article
  • Write a post
  • Share a story
  • Give a talk
  • Participate on a panel

Many of the Customer Experience people I know or follow do all of these!

Customer Experience professionals – in closing

I’m sure there are plenty of other behaviours out there.

But for now I’ll draw this article to a close – and thank you for reading!

Daniel

Public Programs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Program – are you on track?

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

If you want to conduct a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper there are some do’s and don’ts you need to know.

A Customer Experience based Mystery Shopper program involves a lot more than just tacking on the phrase ‘Customer Experience’ in front of ‘Mystery Shopper’.

The Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Award

Some time back one of the local Awards Clubs introduced a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Award into its portfolio.

Organizations could apply for the Mystery Shopper program and potentially win an award.

Cool I thought – it would be interesting to see what a Customer experience-based Mystery Shopper Award looks like as per a global Mystery Shopper provider. 

I got my wish

A short time later, I was helping a hospitality Client set up their Quality Assurance program.

A group of 20 senior folks were gathered around a conference table and we talking about how to select & define quality standards.

Then the head stopped and asked –

Hey Dan – did you know that we entered the Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Award this past year?

No I said – how did it go?

Well – we aren’t so sure. Because in this workshop I’m getting a sense of the complexity that goes into setting & measuring quality – but I’m not so sure it was this rigorous in our Awards entry.

He continued…

I have the final report from the Mystery Shopper provider here on my laptop – can we flash it up and talk about it?

But of course!

The cover slide whirred up on the screen.

Opening slide – very formal – The Customer Experience Mystery Shopper Report.

We were all ready. And then, next slide…

THE GREETING – score 98%

What? The Greeting? Oh – ok. Hmmm.  Anyway 98%.

 Then the next slide…

GET THE CUSTOMER NAME – score 97%

Oh…really?  This is a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper?

And it carried on from there.

Slide after slide after slide reported a compliance measurement.

Even the Hold Technique was featured.

As we hit slide 20+ someone in the room turned to me and said  – So Dan — you look a bit pale – what do you think?

Well it was an easy question to answer.

Well guys.

What you have here is a wonderfully presented compliance report – but I haven’t seen anything yet that even remotely measures or talks about the Customer experience.

And the room agreed.

Finally ‘Customer Experience’ appeared

As we carried on viewing the deck, there was a final measurement slide that said CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.  It was a single slide.

Score – 58%.

But the legend was unclear as to how the score was derived.  That started a lively conversation – where did 58% come from?

We guessed that perhaps this was the personal score or viewpoint of the Mystery Shopper.

If so that’s a big issue.

Because Mystery Shoppers aren’t real Customers.  Once you pay and instruct someone to execute a certain scenario they’re not a real Customer.

Sure – their personal opinions can be a source of insight.

But one slide with the opinion of the Mystery Shopper is not a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper program.

There’s a lot of valid compliance-based Mystery Shopper work

Let’s put something on the table right now.

If the first thing that comes to your mind when planning a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper program is THE GREETING – then you’re on the wrong track.

But there are certainly valid reasons to conduct compliance-based Mystery Shopper.

They’re used extensively in the banking & finance industry.

Especially for ensuring regulatory compliance.

In the Public Sector, compliance-based programs provide a basic ‘minimum-standard’ dipstick.

While it’s rare to see a Public Sector program skew heavily to the Customer experience compliance based programs ensure a level of essential service is provided.

Another example of a smart compliance program is ensuring that things work the way they are supposed to work.

That when a certain telephone number is dialed at a certain time of day – that the call goes to the right place.

You’d be surprised how many times it doesn’t.

Or when a certain set of IVR options or digital instructions are followed, that the Customer ends up where they were supposed to.

As channels proliferate and overlap, it’s important to ensure that channel mechanisms work the way they are supposed to.

I sometimes call these the Omni-channel Mystery Shopper program.

So what does a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper look like?

There is no one single model – that’s the beauty of deep dive research – and we share a few models here from our work with innovative Clients.

Let’s start the discussion with brand

Colin Shaw of Beyond Philosophy says that a brand is perception – nothing more, nothing less.

It’s what you think and feel about that company.  An opinion, a viewpoint, an expectation.

So the Customer experience is the journey the Customer has with your brand.

When you look at it like that – then opening the Mystery Shopper conversation with a brand discussion makes a lot of sense.

If your brand proposition incorporates things like trust, accuracy or ownership – then these values can be codified and studied during the Mystery Shopper journey.

Then the gaps between the brand and the Customer experience can be identified.

One of our favorite brand-based programs

One of our favorite Customer Experience Mystery Shopper programs was with a high end hotel.

The GM & Team wanted to focus exclusively on brand values.

So we designed everything to effectively measure the success in bringing brand values to life.

All the scenarios were designed around brand values. And rather than scores we documented the measures of success.

I share this example in many of my talks and workshops on Customer experience.

The study of emotion is a must

One of my favorite things about the rise of Customer Experience is the inclusion of emotion in business discussions.

For too long, Customers – and Employees – have been discussed as batches or ‘segments’ that are expected to behave and perform in certain ways.

If they follow ‘your rules’ – then they can get what they want or what they need.

But if you read any established Customer experience authority you’ll note how quickly the topic of emotion comes up.

Bruce Temkin argues that more than 50% of the Customer experience is driven by emotion.

So in our work designing Customer Experience Mystery Shopper programs we always talk about emotions.

If you don’t know what emotions you are trying to evoke – how will your Frontliners know?

Testing emotion is one of the best things you can do in a Customer Experience Mystery Shopper program.

We like The Diary approach to recording thoughts & feelings 

For a well known theme park, we conducted a series of lengthy (6 – 8 hour) Mystery Shopper visits that incorporated thoughts & feelings.

Structured in a diary format and supported by photographs, each final report was quite lengthy.

After each visit we were able to boil down observations across the journey into a number of themes.

We then cross referenced all the themes across all the visits.

Mystery Shopper research is a deep dive qualitative research methodology – and lends itself beautifully to this kind of study.

The report became legendary and we still have company management write to us now and then on how useful the approach had been for them.

There are 3 aspects to a Customer Experience

Forrester teaches a very useful way to look at ‘a’ or ‘the’ Customer Experience.

Is the experience ‘effective’ – i.e. does the job get done.  Examples could be opening a bank account, making an insurance claim, getting tech support, hiring a venue for an event.

Is the experience ‘easy’ – how much work did the Customer have to put in to get their solution.  Examples include being transferred around, repeating needs multiple times, having to visit multiple channels to get help.

Is the experience ’emotional’ (in the right way of course) – did the Customer leave feeling respected, relieved or reassured?

We’ve found that designing Mystery Shopper work around the 3 ‘E’s to be very helpful in stimulating dialogue and insight.

At the very minimum

At the very minimum – if you are ready to use Mystery Shopper as a Customer experience tool, consider upgrading your measurements beyond compliance standards.

Sure – compliance standards are easy to measure.

But they have very little to tell you with regard to the thoughts, emotions, ease and ‘success’ of the experience.

Adding the phrase ‘Customer Experience’ to something doesn’t make it so.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel Ord and Marcus von Kloeden

 

 

Customer Experience lessons we learned and apply in our Art Gallery

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

We opened our Art Gallery in 2011

We’ve learned a lot of Customer Experience lessons in the 7 years since we opened our art gallery, The Art Club Singapore.

Fred Gowland

After months of set-up, crafting our mission and developing our Artist roster, we held our first gallery reception in Singapore on October 2011, featuring California Artist Fred Gowland (shown in photo).

Owning both a CX/Service consultancy, OmniTouch, and an art gallery, The Art Club Singapore, is not as dissimilar as it might sound on paper.

It’s clear that both great service and the consideration of an artwork to purchase are emotionally rich activities.

We learned to apply Customer experience lessons in our work at The Art Club Singapore and in this article, we share some of those lessons.

The (6) Customer Experience Competencies

The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) has defined 6 competencies for mastery in Customer experience.

The Missing World, Giada Laiso

In this article, we share our learnings via the (6) competency framework.

Our reasons for using the 6-competency framework approach are simple:

  1. We wanted to work through the mental exercise of applying the (6) competencies to a real business – our gallery
  2. We wanted to help the Reader ‘digest’ the (6) CX competencies for their own use and benefit

(Photograph shown, The Mising World, Italian Artist, Giada Laiso)

The (6) competency areas defined by the CXPA are:

  1. Customer Experience Strategy
  2. Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding
  3. Experience Design, Improvement & Innovation
  4. Metrics, Measurement, and ROI
  5. Organizational Adoption and Accountability
  6. Customer-Centric Culture

https://www.omnitouchinternational.com/our-services/ccxp-practice-quizzes

In this article, we cover our learnings across the first 2 CX competency areas.

#1 – Customer Experience Strategy

From the beginning, we knew what we did not want our Customer experience to be.

We did not want to be a stereotypical gallery with white walls, antiseptic displays and fashionable assistants.  We found that approach to be intimidating and ‘unhelpful’.

Particularly in our local market where art appreciation and widespread collecting was still in a developmental stage.

That allowed us to focus on the kind of experience we did want for our Customers.

We began with the company name, The Art Club Singapore.

The Art Club Singapore

The ‘Club’ was important to us because it represented a space where people could come together to share –

  • Eagerness to explore art
  • Enjoyment to socialize in a home-like space
  • Joy of just being themselves without the pressure of purchase

The logo

Once we had the gallery name, we worked through the design of the logo.

The Art Club Singapore

The logo was designed to represent the three stakeholders involved –

  • Red for the creative Artists that are often misunderstood in their work.
  • Blue for the people that want to appreciate art but may not know where, when, why and how to go about it.
  • Green for the Art Club Singapore that brings the circle of Artists (red) and Art Appreciators (blue) together.

The process of creating the gallery name and the logo helped us clarify the role we wanted to play in the lives of our Customers.

We further refined our intended experience through the following guidelines which have served us well:

Dietmar Gross

For our Artists

  • We would only show the work of professional, full-time Artists, known in their own markets
  • We would show work from Artists based in the Americas, Europe and Australia that we had collected ourselves and who we knew personally

(Briefwechsel, Oil on Belgian canvas, German Artist, Dietmar Gross)

For our Guests

  • We would use our space for public education, benefits and art talks as well as Artist shows
  • We would provide a place where experienced Collectors would mingle with folks who had never attended a gallery event before

The Art Club Singapore

For our Collectors

  • We would provide an eclectic collection of pieces across countries, mediums and Artists in an atypical gallery space
  • We would provide access to the Artists to allow them to immerse themselves in the Artist’s story

After we crafted our name, logo and guidelines we shared them across our small group, our Artists, our Partners and publicly with our Guests & Collectors through social media and marketing communications.

The Mission Statement

Next came our Mission Statement.  The Art Club Singapore, where Art & People meet

The Art Club Singapore

The Mission made it clear to us what we were supposed to ‘do’ or provide every day and we consider it to be an integral part of our Customer Experience strategy.

If I had to sum it up – our Mission Statement = our Customer Experience Strategy while our name, logo and guidelines represent our ‘Corporate Strategy’ and brand.

The Customer Experience Strategy really matters

When it comes to the Customer Experience strategy, it was helpful for us to put first things first.

Who were we, the our intended Customer experience and what ‘purpose’ would we refer to as we evolved over time.

Ingela Johannson

Of course, as a small business we had a major advantage.

We didn’t have hundreds or even thousands of Employees to immerse in our intended Customer experience.

But the process we went through and the learnings gained from doing it right are relevant to anyone pursuing Customer experience as a business strategy.

(With Swedish Artist, Ingela Johansson)

Now let’s turn to Competency #2 – The Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding.

#2 – Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight & Understanding

While our Customer Experience strategy was clear to us – tying that to who our Customers were and what gallery Customers really want from their visit was an ongoing learning experience.

The Art Club Singapore

We stepped back and used our CX/Service consultancy credentials to look at the entire gallery experience.

How Customers would learn about us, what would entice them to come to a talk or event.

And perhaps most importantly, how could we orchestrate a gallery event that exceeded their expectations.

And result in them telling more people about us?

(Photo of Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo viewing our donation to charity)

Who were our Customers?  The role of Personas

Within months of launch we were able to document our Customer Personas.

The Art Club Singapore

Here are some of the Personas we identified:

  • The Cultured Expat

Married couple, 40s – 60s, very comfortable with their own taste, had purchased art before, looking for an experience not just a ‘purchase’

  • Students / Early working years

20s through early 30s, sought ‘date night’ events, sought a chance to brush up their art viewing skills, appreciated being treated with respect

  • The Professionals

    The Art Club Singapore

30s through 50s working professionals, looking for a new experience, like to learn, interested in refining their art viewing skills, very practical

  • The Gallery event mainstay

All ages, attend all gallery events, catch up with other ‘regulars’, food & drinks matter

  • The Socialite

Generally female, already a collector, events were a chance to dress beautifully, good in a crowd setting, loves being in photos, great with social media

The Art Club Singapore

We continued to refine our Personas based on observation, listening, asking questions and studying our ongoing email correspondence and social media posts.

Even Guest Visitor books provided a lot of rich commentary as to what people enjoyed about their visit with us – we learned to have those prominently featured at all events.

This was an important learning for us because we found people tend to be super direct and specific when signing a Guest Book whereas that same person may be more ‘polite’ in a face to face discussion.

Ethnographic Research

Daniel Ord, The Art Club Singapore

Ethnographic research – which refers to observing Customers in their natural setting – was easy for us as the Guests entered ‘our’ environment.  We simply had to watch and compare notes at the end of the evening (sometimes that was 2AM!).

Examples of Customer Insight that we picked up from our Guests included:

The cultured expat persona was interested in having you come to their home and provide design advice as well as ensure the end to end hanging and arranging service.

They also typically had a home in their country of origin packed with art but were keen on smaller pieces they could display in their current home in Asia.

The Art Club Singapore

We learned that Students /early working years persona were eager but had limited ‘self-confidence’ in how to look at a piece of art and interpret it.

Some useful tips and advice went a long way with this group – as well as the free art lectures.

From our local Guests we learned that certain subject matter, including some animals and depictions of human faces, were considered unlucky.

Fred Gowland, Green Fox

With one series of Foxes done by Fred Gowland we were told that the term ‘fox’ was a colloquialism for a husband-stealer.

It seems that a married woman might not want a fox in her home!

What would our Guest go through?  The role of the Journey

Again, our CX/Service consultancy background served us well.

Arman Fernandez, The Art Club Singapore

We understood that the Customer journey for an art gallery event did not begin when our Guests walked through the door.

It began with receiving our invite, marking the calendar, figuring out how to reach our venue and even what to wear (maybe especially what to wear!).

We realized that each event needed to be unique – so we gave each event its own theme.

  • Travels of Fred Gowland – paintings created through extensive travels of the Artist.
  • Raise the Pink Lantern – An event focussing on the LGBT community in Singapore.
  • The Monk wears Prada – Paintings of Buddhist monks exploring urban Singapore
  • Masterful European Bronzes – A Society Collection

(Bronze shown, La Mandoline, French Artist, Arman Fernandez)

Where the event was a lecture we came up with a new offshoot of our logo, so our Guests would know that the next event was specifically a lecture.

The Art Club Singapore

Even though we had a clear curatorial direction –  the Artists and types of work we wanted to show – the Voice of the Customer encouraged us to try new things and expand our offerings in new ways.

Thank you for reading!

Daniel Ord, Marcus von Kloeden, The Art Club Singapore

Daniel and Marcus – Co-Founders, The Art Club Singapore / Owners, OmniTouch International

 

What I learned judging this year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards (2018)

by OmniTouch International OmniTouch International No Comments

This year I had the great opportunity to judge at the UK Complaint Handling Awards, covering the latest in complaint handling practices.

After my return from the event my colleagues and friends asked me, Marcus, what did you learn?

First, I had the chance to meet hundreds of people across various industries, including Telcos, Banks, Insurances, Utility providers and many Government agencies.

That’s always one of the great things about participating at an Awards event.

The complaint handling practices shared in this article come from my role as a Judge.

As a Judge, I had the chance to meet all the Entrants, read their written submissions and listen to their respective face to face presentations to the panel.

As a result I learned some of the latest complaint handling practices out there in award winning Organizations.

Across all the Complaint Handling Team Entrants, 3 important things stood out 

There were 3 key complaint handling practices that I picked up from interacting with all the Complaint Handling Teams.

To improve the Customer complaint handling ‘practice’ within their Organization, they focused on:

  1. Analysing data from the Customer point of view
  2. Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time
  3. Targeting the Ownership of the complaint

Let me give some more detail on each learning

1. Analysing data from the Customer point of view

The Complaint Handling Teams indicated that they analyzed thousands of recorded calls, reviewed piles of surveys and read through thousands of emails and contact forms submitted by Customers.

Their strategic purpose was clear – to understand their Voice of the Customer.

The Complaint Handling Teams told us that, though other departments and functions did their own sets of analyses, they felt that pure focus on the Voice of Customer was missing.

So they created their own analysis function.

Guess, how important is it to the Customer that you use their names three or five times during a call?

Isn’t it more important to listen and understand what their concern or matter is?

Entrants started to read between the lines – from the Customer point of view – and acted on what they learned.

2. Improving internal & external processes to reduce complaint volumes & time

Equipped with the results of their analyses, the Complaint Handling Team went to their Management to propose changes to processes or rules that caused Customer discomfort.

Some of the process changes the Complaint Handling Teams shared were –

 

They took out the Average Handling Time to measure the Agent’s performance.

Agents suddenly had the freedom to listen, to react and find with the Customer a solution.

Escalation processes decreased dramatically.  Agents started to become more personal in their conversations.

Frontliners & Agents were officially empowered.

They were given the power to decide on the spot what to do for the Customer instead of getting permission from their superiors.

That helped to ease processes for the customer and complaint could be resolved during one contact.

Adding empowerment to the job makes it more interesting, enjoyable and challenging as well.

Some Complaint Handling Teams introduced new technology into the Contact Centres to support staff members.

Technology was introduced to support Team members to read the Customer’s history, react proactively, share information with other departments and schedule follow ups.

Training around the new technology and processes was scheduled and conducted so Employees were prepared before using the newsolutions.

That eased the transition for the Customer and held back stress on the Employees.

Interestingly, many complaints stemmed from questions about bills and statements.

The Complaint Handling Teams shared they were in the process of breaking this big topic down into workable parts.

3. Owning the Complaint

The Complaint Handling Teams shared was how important the concept of ownership was to complaint resolution.

That took one of two forms.

The Customer gets either one point of contact to deal with them all the way through.

Or the Customer history is made available to everyone in the Organization, and they are tasked to work together to resolve the issue.

While technology supported or ‘helped’ it was the process and the people that put things into action.

This really impressed me.

In closing

This year’s UK Complaint Handling Awards (2018) have shown that Listen & Understanding the Customer’s Voice, more accessibility of data to Agents, simpler processes and taking ownership, lead to big improvements in Customer Experience.

Aside from the many KPIs, like NPS, that were presented, the most impressive part was the presentation was the gathered feedback from real Customers.

These Customers’ shared how impressed they were about the good care (“Ownership”), the easy processes (“History availability/System improvements”) and someone listened and heard their issues (Data analytics).

The Customers felt they were heard and more importantly helped.  They seemed to like using email to share their compliments.

In all cases, these simple changes reduced dramatically painful Customer Journeys throughout the organisations.

The Customer experience score for the organization went up dramatically.

I am glad to share that investment in data analytics, new processes and training in Frontline training have really paid off.

All the Complaint Handling Teams were able to demonstrate a financial ROI to back up their work.

They all retained Customers, gained new business and got promoted by their now happy Customers to others.

Isn’t this reason enough to start thinking on this?

Thank you for reading!

Marcus von Kloeden