Thursday, March 28, 2019

All About the Feels? Why Emotion Plays a Critical Role in CX Success

By Cohan Daley

“Feel the feels”, “all about the feels”. Whether you love it or hate it, this phrase highlights a key point about digital communication. Customers are increasingly turning to self-service, chatbots or messaging apps, but while digital channels may be replacing voice for some interactions, how your customers feel about interacting with your brand is more important than ever. 
In the words of Maya Angelou, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And actually, isn’t this as true of customer experience as it is our relationships with friends, family and colleagues?
Yet our industry as a whole is still failing when it comes to meeting customers’ emotional needs.
The 2018 Temkin Experience Rankings raised alarm bells for the industry when it reported that just 7 percent of 10,000 consumers who took part in the research said they felt good about their interactions with brands.
Why does this matter?
There are numerous studies which demonstrate that emotion is critical to a brand’s bottom line. I’ve provided just a few examples below:
  • Organisations that optimise emotional connections outperform their competitors by 26 percent in gross margin and 85 percent in sales growth (Gallup, Customer Satisfaction doesn’t Count)
  • 63 percent of customers with positive feelings about a company will remain loyal, while 74 percent will go a step further and advocate for the brand (Customer Think)
  • Best-in-class brands average 17 emotionally positive experiences for every negative experience, while the lowest-performing brands provided only two emotionally positive experiences for each negative one (Forrester)
  • Emotionally-engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend and repurchase, less price sensitive and less likely to buy from a competitor (Harvard Business Review)
Emotion trumps success and effort when it comes to building long-term customer loyalty. So what makes your customers feel good about dealing with you? The foundation of good customer experience is making it enjoyable (not just easy) for them to complete their journey with you. It’s vital that your customer journey planning takes this into account:
  • Ensure that you are investing in customer experience from your customer’s perspective rather than making it fit your internal systems and processes – and remember that understanding customer feelings about your service is essential at key stages in the process. While it is vital to capture the behavioural elements of the customer, emotion is a crucial part of the picture
  • Design customer interactions that engage with customers at the most critical times in their journeys with a message that connects emotionally and is delivered through their preferred channel
  • Gain executive buy-in by creating a direct link between emotionally-engaged customers and desired business outcomes
It might look straightforward but most CX professionals know how hard it is to follow these precepts. It starts with understanding your customers, planning the customer journey based on the real-life needs and motivations of these customers and removing the technology barriers to implementing these journeys. Many brands have invested in legacy systems that operate in silos and it can be difficult to join these up to provide the seamless experiences that your customers crave.

People are struggling to access the assets they need in their existing platforms and alongside their on-premise systems. West is embracing cloud-based platforms like UCaaS, CPaaS, and CCaaS so we can help our customers pull all the systems they need together. Over the last year we’ve focused on creating a cloud-based contact centre platform that allows us to move capabilities in and out of business systems, while providing a 360-degree view of the customer.
Feel the same way as we do?
At West we’re passionate about delivering technology solutions that enable emotional connections, whether by empowering agents to empathise with customers, by offering joined up omnichannel journeys, or by allowing customers to self-serve if they want to. If you want to build emotional connections with your customers, then download our expert guide, Why Eemotional Connections Are Vital to Delivering Outstanding Customer Experiences, which includes a wealth of practical advice.

Cohan Daley, UK&I Acquisition Country Lead, West Unified Communication Services
Cohan is a highly-motivated, energetic and accomplished professional armed with a keen knowledge of Customer experience and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) A graduate of Reading University, his Neuroscience degree led to his interest in data science, A.I. and Machine Learning. And Cohan's passion for sharing his knowledge was recognised by ICMI who included him in their Top 50 Contact Centre Thought Leaders on Twitter in 2014.
At West he has built a strong internal following for his talent to use available data and information, internal resources and creative thinking to successfully create commercial opportunities. He built the company's Customer Experience practice in EMEA, an achievement which was recognised by his promotion to UK&I Acquisition Country Lead in 2019. In his spare time Cohan has a real passion for sport and enjoys spending time with his children and family. Cohan is highly competitive and trains in mixed martial arts and boxing disciplines.
Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

3 Public Speaking Tips

By Kathryn Frankson

Say Yes: There’s no quick hack to getting better at public speaking. It takes experience. So, if there are micro opportunities to speak (meetings, off sites, client demos etc) raise your hand proactively and take advantage. You need to keep flexing the muscle and starting in safe ways will help.

Prepare: Confidence comes through preparation. Give yourself a good runway to practice so if a wave of panic comes up….you can calmly take a breath and realize you have ample time to adjust and nail it.

Power Up: It’s the little moments that can make all the difference. Think through how you’ll walk on and off stage and ensure that all of the activities you do pre speaking allow you to power up. Stand tall, walk around, see the space, be around positive people and eliminate unnecessary noise that will take you out of your zone.

Becoming stronger at sharing ideas and gaining buy in is a great skill to have as tools and resources become more commoditized.

Kathryn Frankson is a B2B event sales and marketing professional at UBM. A believer that 2019 communication means knowing how to get the markets attention through thumb stopping content, audience development and storytelling, she executes sales and marketing strategies in the catering, food service and special event space.

Connect: LinkedIn

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Tale of Two (Well, Three) Customer Experiences: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Erica Marois

Two years ago, after an 18-month stint as Connecticut residents, my husband and I boxed up our belongings and made the journey back down south, landing in Richmond, VA. Unlike our move to Connecticut, we hit the road with significantly fewer belongings. If you’ve ever lived in New England, you might be able to guess why. The cost of living is high, and the closet space in the beautiful historic buildings tends to be rather sparse.

Fast-forward a year, and we were ready to move into our newly built home in Virginia. There was just one problem; because we downsized in Connecticut, we suddenly found ourselves in need a ton of new furniture to fill up the bigger space. Now, as much as I love to watch HGTV and daydream about decorating, I’ve never particularly enjoyed shopping for furniture. Mainly, for two reasons. One: furniture is expensive! Two: I’ve had so many bad experiences buying furniture over the years--from poor quality to poor service to nightmare deliveries and high-pressure sales staff. To me, furniture shopping is about as enjoyable as car shopping.

Alas, we needed a new sectional and new bedroom set, so we set out on a quest to find the perfect pieces for our new home. Did we get what we needed? Ultimately, yes. But the journey there was complex. We encountered a tale of two, then three, customer experiences. Whether you work in retail or not, the stark contrasts between these stores offer a few lessons worth gleaning.

A Tale of Two (and Then Three) Customer Experiences

Several months ago, motivated by a closet organization spree, my husband and I set out to find a new set of dressers for our bedroom. The set we had was just too small. Remembering a browsing excursion we’d taken a few weeks earlier, I suggested we head to Haverty’s to check out their options. The last time we’d gone there, I thought their selection was impressive, and the store was nice and clean.

When we walked through the door, a kind gentleman named Bert greeted us. He asked us what we were looking for, pointed us in the right direction, and let us loose to browse without interruption. Pretty quickly, we found a set we both loved, and Bert helped us place the order. He explained the payment options in detail, went over warranties, and made friendly conversation while we waited for some of the back office folks to complete their paperwork. It was a pleasant and no-hassle interaction, which I appreciated. To make it even better, Bert let us know that we could have the set delivered to our home just two days later, and we would receive SMS updates on the day of delivery, including a custom link we could use to track the delivery drivers in real-time to find out exactly when they’d be arriving. Furniture stores are notoriously bad about giving you vague delivery windows, so this shocked me. I’ve spent many a day waiting for deliveries that never showed up at the promised time. I was cautiously optimistic that this would be different.

Luckily, it was. The day before our delivery, I received a text letting me know that our furniture would arrive between 4:00 & 6:00 the next day. As promised, I got access to a link I could use to track the delivery team on their route--I could see that they had nine deliveries scheduled ahead of ours, and I could even see the other zip codes in which they’d be making stops.

At 3:00 on delivery day, I got a text letting me know that the drivers encountered a delay at the stop before ours, so it looked like our delivery would be closer to 6:00 than 4:00. I appreciated the proactive update! By 6:30, everything was in its place and drivers were on their way.

All in all, we couldn’t have been more pleased. Not only do we love the new furniture, but we appreciated how easy and transparent the entire process was. And as a pleasant surprise, we received an email from Bert a few months later--he wanted to check in and make sure we were still enjoying our furniture.  Ironically enough, that email came just as we were dealing with a very different experience involving one of Haverty’s local competitors.

Customer-Centricity at the Competition? More Like Customer-Chaos

Four or five months after we bought our bedroom furniture, we realized new living room furniture was the next priority. With family coming to visit for the holidays, we wanted more seating. While I loved the experience at Haverty’s, they didn’t have the size sectional I wanted at I price that I could stomach, so I was open to looking elsewhere for a good bargain on an oversized sectional. After being lured by some convincing TV ads, we stopped by a local chain to see if their holiday deals were as enticing as advertising.

After “winning” 20% off our purchase at their one-day sale event, we decided to go ahead and buy a gloriously soft, cozy, and spacious sectional. While they didn’t currently have the one we wanted in stock, our salesperson assured us that they were expecting one to arrive any day, and said he thought we could have it delivered within the next week.

A week passed. We didn’t receive a phone call. I finally decided to call the store after Christmas to see if I could get an ETA on delivery. The customer service representative let me know that our sectional had arrived over the holidays and she went ahead and set up a delivery time for four days later. I was excited!

Fast forward to the day before delivery. My phone rings, and I see it’s the furniture store. I’m expecting that they’re calling to give me my delivery window, but instead, they called to tell me that they discovered our sectional was damaged, so they needed to reorder and reschedule our delivery. At this point, I was starting to get annoyed, but I also appreciated that they didn’t send us a defective product. Unfortunately, from here, things just spiraled more and more out of control. I never got a call back to give me an update. After another week of no word from our salesperson, I called the store again, and this time a manager told me they wouldn’t have another sectional in for at least six weeks. She did offer to refund the delivery fee, so I decided to wait it out.

Six weeks, then seven weeks later, we never heard from anyone at the store. We called three times, and could never get a straight answer. Each person we talked to tried to pass the buck to someone else. Finally, one of the managers told me they had no idea if or when our furniture would arrive. After a visit to the store, and a few more frustrating phone calls, we finally canceled our purchase and got a refund. To me, the most frustrating part of the ordeal was the lack of proactive communication, or really any communication at all. And ironically, this company is now running an aggressive TV ad campaign touting its focus on customer experience.

Rooms to Go for the Steal

The weekend after we got our refund on the sectional that never arrived, we decided to stop by Rooms to Go, just to browse. I’ll be honest, I had a few mediocre experiences with them in the past, so my expectations were low. Much to my delight, the shopping experience was low-pressure, pleasant, and incredibly easy. As soon as we walked in, a friendly salesperson named L.T. greeted us, explained their current sales, and then left us alone to browse. My husband and I were debating between two sets, and we asked for his opinion. He offered up his thoughts, and we got to chatting for a bit. When we were ready to check out, he used his iPad to tell us exactly when he could get the new sectional to our home. Much to our delight, he said us we’d have it within 48 hours. And guess what? We did! The delivery team was incredibly courteous and professional, and we love our new furniture.

The icing on the cake? Two weeks later, we received this note from L.T. in the mail.

Bringing It All Together

I didn’t write this post to vent or shame (in fact, that’s why I never revealed the name of the second store). Instead, I hope this real-life example serves to illustrate that customer experience really does trump price; and if you’re going to market your products on the basis of customer experience, you better be able to back it up. Like it or not, the experience that other brands deliver impacts the expectations that customers have for your company. What can you do you to make sure you don’t fall short? What could furniture store number two have done to deliver better service?

Here are two quick tips:
  1. Keep your promises! If you can’t, be transparent about why, and offer an alternative. I’m not an unreasonable person. I understand that things go wrong--and sometimes it’s nobody’s fault. However, as service professionals, we have to be creative problem-solvers. Furniture store number two could have found a way to keep their promise: they could have offered to give us the floor model (which they clearly had in stock) at a discount. They could have offered to have us pick another sectional that they knew they could deliver within a reasonable timeframe. Rather than trying to work out another solution, they chose to ignore that there was even a problem in the first place.
  2. Communicate proactively! Don’t make your customers reach out to you for updates. This one seems like a no-brainer, but plenty of brands still struggle to do this effectively. The good news? You don’t necessarily need any fancy or expensive software to keep customers in the loop. Free email marketing services like Mail Chimp are an excellent solution for small businesses or budget-strapped teams. Setup automated emails to let customers know what’s going on with their order, what to expect next, or how to reach out with a question/issue. Or, utilize simple calendar reminders. Have a customer order that’s set to go out next week, but you don’t yet have an ETA? Setup a reminder to take the 5 minutes to check for an update and provide the customer with more information before that week is over.
What advice would you add to the mix? How would you have handled things differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! For more insights on meeting customer expectations, check out this useful advice from Brad Cleveland.

Erica is the Content Manager at ICMI, an Informa PLC company that helps business elevate the customer experience through training, events, consulting and information resources. A passionate connector of people, Erica is a customer and employee experience enthusiast who loves helping others find unique solutions to their biggest challenges. Outside of her day job, she's also a community organizer for CX Accelerator.

You can connect with her on
Twitter and join her on Tuesdays at 1:00 ET for #ICMIchat.


Monday, March 18, 2019

I'll Be Back: Repeat Customer Feedback Is Vital for Growth

By Jodi Beuder

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn 

When Arnold Schwarzenegger first uttered, “I’ll be back”, in the 1984 film The Terminator, he wasn’t joking. Five sequels later, Arnold, and audiences have continued to come back again and again. The now infamous line has appeared in dozens of other films, landing this quote a spot, on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could count on our customers returning this often? I think most company executives would leap for joy if their customers repeated, “I’ll be back” and meant it. There are a number of steps a company can take, to wow customers into returning again and again.

First step:  Understand your customers needs! Before you can begin to dazzle your customers, the first step is to truly understand the needs, desires and expectations of your customer.

The surest way to understand more about your customer is through customer feedback. All too often, I’ve seen companies make assumptions about who their customer is, without asking the customer directly.

Sometimes, companies get lucky and their assumptions match their customer demographic. But, in today’s hyper-competitive market place, this is shaky ground to stand on. There’s a saying you may have heard; when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me. When it comes customers, don’t assume you know them. Spend the time getting to know them.

Technology has made customer feedback options simple and easy. There are email/contact forms that can pop up at the end of a transaction for customers to fill out, surveys that can be completed at the close of a transaction, social media listening and monitoring, comment boxes, and of course, paying attention to data analytics, to help paint a picture of your customer demographics. There are plenty of other ways to capture customer feedback, so really, there is no excuse!

When companies spend time getting to know their customers they can confidently create products that are in demand and in alignment with what their customers want and need. Generating a product or service that has demand, will allow you and your company to rest easy. Trust me, there is no sweeter sound to an executive’s ear than to hear a customer say, “I’ll be back.”

Jodi Beuder is a marketing strategy expert, with a digital marketing twist, and a passion for the customer experience. She is keen to creating and following through, from canvas to fruition and back. This includes targeted social media campaigns, content and internet marketing, and product and branding campaigns.

Connect with Jodi: LinkedIn | Twitter

Monday, March 4, 2019

4 Reasons to Create Job Descriptions & Performance Standards

Errol Allen


Errol Allen is an operations consultant and customer service expert. Using his 25 + years of corporate experience with companies such as ADT, The Houston Post, TCI Cablevision and GEICO, Errol assists his clients in developing a customer focused environment via documenting processes, creating task manuals, identifying key performance indicators and providing customer service training. He is the author of “Keys to Delivering Amazing Customer Service”.

Connect LinkedIn | Twitter