In my last column 7 Customer Needs that Lead to a Winning “Me2B” Culture I introduced the results of the research and interviews into companies that uniformly deliver great customer experiences that my co-author David Jaffe. These insights are in our latest book Your Customer Rules! Delivering the Me2B Experiences That Today’s Customers Demand (Wiley/Jossey Bass, 2015).
We came up with 7 Customer Needs, each one in the customer’s words:
1. “You know me, you remember me” across multiple channels, across time, and among the customers’ families and connections.
2. “You give me choices” so that customers have control, rather than being told what’s best for them.
3. “You make it easy for me”, related to the rapidly growing Customer Effort Score (CES) metric including simplified processes and automation.
4. “You value me” which means listening and acting upon the voice of the customer in what we saw as (a) what customers say and don’t say, and (b) what customers do and don’t do.
5. “You trust me”, including not challenging the customer’s version of events and not treating all customers like fraudsters.
6. “You surprise me with stuff that I can’t imagine”, for example when companies treat loyal customers like a new customer with the best deals and all of the support they deserve.
7. “You help me better, you help me do more” that stretches through the customer journey and anticipates what’s best for the customer, all the time.
When we met with the Me2B Leaders that exemplified these customer needs, and therefore earned ongoing loyalty, companies like Apple, Danaher/Fluke, Nordstrom, and T-Mobile, we started finding another clear pattern. We kept hearing consistent themes about how they were able to deliver great experiences year over year, sometimes across acquisitions or divestitures, even as they added more and more complex products or services. We also found the absence of this pattern when we examined other companies that once had a reputation for great customer experiences but lost it, and then regained it by going back to their roots, such as HomeDepot and Starbucks; we call these companies the “Rebounders”.
So what is this pattern? We discovered that the Me2B Leaders all share these 4 Foundations:
1. Customer-Oriented Culture
2. Streamlined Processes
3. Integrated Channels
4. Energized Workforce
Let’s dig into each of these 4 Foundations in a little more detail.
The 1st Foundation is Customer-Oriented Culture, and it breaks down into three core components: (1) from top to bottom, everyone embraces the concept that “the customer is in charge”; (2) all of the companies many functional teams and departments use the same language as the customer to define their needs; and (3) all 3rd-party partners, e.g. outsourcers or contracted in-home delivery staff, resembled the companies seamlessly. Obviously these three components are hard to pull off, especially as companies grow organically and through acquisition or roll up. What is key here is a founder- or CEO-led set of values and truths, often condenses in pithy phrases or on posters … but unlike others that simply display these values or truths, the Me2B Leaders live by them, everyday.
A good example for Customer-Oriented Culture is at Blizzard Entertainment, whose hugely popular multi-player game World of Warcraft has a cult following. Several years ago Blizzard held an off site meeting to summarize the underpinnings of its success so that they could continue to build engaging games and build even greater customer loyalty. They now proudly display their Mission Statement and 8 Core Values all over the headquarters but also the Blizzard website http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/about/mission.html. Supporting its Mission Statement (“Dedicated to creating the most epic entertainment experiences…ever.), Blizzard’s 8 Core Values provide terrific insights into the company’s customer-oriented culture: gameplay first, commit to quality, play nice play fair, embrace your inner geek (my favorite!), every voice matters, lead responsibly, think globally, and learn & grow.
The 2nd Foundation is Streamlined Processes, and it also breaks down into three core components: (1) fewer processes; (2) fewer steps; and (3) continuous improvement, or CI. We found that all of the Me2B Leaders obsessed over simplifying how their customers dealt with them, from pre-sale or browsing through post-purchase support, even cancelling service or returning products.
A good example for Streamlined Processes is at Hyatt Hotels when they created a new brand, Andaz. Hyatt methodically tracked the customer journey and redesigned the guest experience “to remove all of the barriers” for their guests, and for their associates serving those guests. At Andaz today there are no more check-in counters with nettlesome queues, guests have free mini-bars, and they get two items laundered for free – just some of the changes now being copied by other hotel chains.
The 3rd Foundation is Integrated Channels, and its three components are (1) using many channels for customer interaction, (2) joining up those channels, and (3) ensuring that the same content can be accesses across channels. While this might sound like “omni-channel” management it’s actually much broader, and deeper, than that. Here we discovered that the Me2B Leaders rarely built “silos” or data marts that had to be brought together; instead, they always built customer data and interactions in synch.
A good example for Integrated Channels is at Amazon where I served as its 1st WW VP of Customer Service. Amazon is using a wide range of channels that always stay together, e.g. the “click for us to call you” feature on the web site, or the Mayday button on Kindle Fire devices. No more having to repeat your issue or describe where you are on the Amazon site or device.
The 4th and final Foundation is Energized Workforce, and it’s so important that I will expand it into my column next month, so stay tuned! I will start with three components (1) the right hires, (2) the right role models, and (3) the right rewards, but add three more components that describe how the Me2B Leaders complete the four Foundations.