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Most organisations are ignoring the behavioural element of customer experience – Interview with Morris Pentel

Adrian Swinscoe | Dec 20, 2016 109 views No Comments

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Today’s interview is with Morris Pentel, who is the Chairman & Founder of the Customer Experience Foundation, a leading organisation in Customer Experience Science. Morris joins me today to talk about Customer Experience Science, Behaviour As Technology and his view on the biggest and current challenges for organisations trying to design and deliver a great customer experience for their customers.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Messaging, chat bots and improving the customer experience – Interview with Donna Peeples – and is number 199 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to their customers.

Here’s the highlights of my interview with Morris:

  • Morris Pentel is the Chairman & Founder of the Customer Experience Foundation otherwise known as the CXFO.
  • The website is cxfo.org and the rationale behind the .org domain name is that Morris believes that when something is good ‘science’ it should be shared. As a result, the site is packed full of resources that are free to access (no email registration required).
  • Morris believes that we deliver bad customer experience, more efficiently and at a lower cost than at any time in our history.
  • Morris’ phone rings!
  • There is an element of magic, or art, in every great customer experience.
  • We often allow the technology sciences to over-ride and guide our thinking.
  • We are pretty poor at the tactical and strategy sciences.
  • For the last 50 years, there has been some incredible work done in the behavioural sciences that business largely ignores.
  • Great customer experiences combine both good science and ‘magic’.
  • Our love of technology and pre-defined processes have helped us achieve predictable outcomes. But, how customers feel about outcomes and the emotions that surround them is an area where companies still struggle.
  • For example, how angry is angry? And, if we can’t describe how angry someone is then how do we know what we should do about it.
  • But, are we, therefore, at risk of applying a degree of conditionality to our response depending how we think someone feels about something?
  • Drucker said ‘you can’t fix what you don’t measure’ and Morris adds that ‘you can’t measure what you don’t describe’.
  • Most organisations don’t have a term that recognises when someone is angry.
  • To advance this debate and issue, Morris and his colleagues are putting on an event on 8th March at The Science Museum in London called Behaviour And Technology in CX – BAT 17.
  • Research shows that if we pay people and incentivise them to do higher level thinking around creativity and innovation, it doesn’t work. However, this is largely the way that most organisations operate.
  • Organisations don’t create space for their people to do this type of thinking or give them the framework to guide and delivery any outcomes.
  • Experience ends in memory. Consider this: if women remembered the pain of child-birth then there would be no second children.
  • Memory shifts over time.
  • For example, why would we ask if someone would recommend us 30 seconds after a transaction and then think that gives us a good, accurate and consistent indication of how customers feel over time.
  • Morris’ view on what are the big ‘burning platforms’ in customer experience right now include the following:
    • Behaviour is a massive opportunity for firms to be able to better engage their customers and have an impact on the bottom line;
    • Organisations still suffer from siloed cultures and need to work to break these down. CX shouldn’t sit in a particular function but should integrated into every single part of the organisation. Customer experience is a team sport.
    • Firms need to develop platform independent experiences that are the same across any platform.
  • However, trying to chase and serve your customers across every single platform is ludicrous. But, experimenting with different channels is a really important learning activity.
  • Doing stuff well and providing your customers with an experience that they want is customer experience 101.
  • Doing 20 different channels badly is where most organisations think they want to get to.
  • Most leaders in the customer service/experience space tend to take a very simple approach to how they serve/support their customers. This might not be ideal but they do tend to try to be excellent at only a few channels rather than spreading themselves too thinly across a large number of channels.
  • One of the main challenges that many channels face from customers is that they want to express their problem in free form terms because they don’t understand the organisation’s process.
  • However, many leading organisations still ignore the behavioural element. For example, imagine if you were a broadband customer and you phone your supplier because you have a problem with your broadband. However, you are greeted with the message ‘Welcome to EE (say) the UK’s provider of the fastest broadband’. This approach is not likely to generate the best emotional response from a customer who has currently a problem with their broadband.
  • When I have a problem I want to reach a human being as quickly as possible. The longer it takes to reach someone the bigger the problem becomes in my mind and the more difficult it becomes to deal with and the problem.
  • No firm, even the leaders, are perfect when it comes to customer experience. We are all still learning.
  • Simplicity is the absolute key to success in customer experience.
  • In most customer relationships there are more opportunities to be unhappy than there is to be happy. When things work well we don’t notice them.
  • Therefore, it could be argued that Wow service/experience should start with the process of just getting things right and being brilliant at the basics.
  • A ‘Wow’ is something that is a surprise or something that is outside of initial expectations and is relevant to them.
  • A Wow is a gift, an act of generosity/kindness or even a human connection. So, if firms want to generate more wow moments for their customers then they should empower their front line people to deliver these sorts of things.
  • Can we move Average Handling Time from the target column to the measure column?
  • If you want to wow your customers then stop designing your experience around process and start designing your processes around experience.
  • We should also look at lifetime value of the customer to better understand what a wow might cost and what will be the impact on the bottom line.
  • Your frontline staff will know how to create wow moments so get out of their way and let them do it.
  • Go to cxfo.org and check out their emotional state model piece and their customer experience maturity resources.
  • Also, check out the upcoming event: Behaviour And Technology in CX – BAT 17.

About Morris (taken and adapted from his cxfo.org bio)

Morris PentelMorris Pentel is the Chairman & Founder of the Customer Experience Foundation, a leading organisation in Customer Experience Science. The foundation was established in 2008.

He is a futurologist and designer of customer experience & customer contact strategy for large organisations and Governments around the world as well as being a globally recognised professional public speaker and writer on the future of customer contact technology & strategies.



A leader in Customer Experience Design & Engineering that delivers reduced cost and increased profits together with improved process and experience to large organisations and governments around the world.

He has spent his professional life understanding the link between technology, customers & organisations, building call centres and working along side most of the major technology companies like Aspect, Datapoint, Avaya, Nortel & Lucent and with major consulting firms like Deloitte & Accenture with a focus on financial services during the last 10 years. These have included engagements with AMEX, AXA, Barclays, Capital One, Lloyds and others.

Prior to this, he held senior roles at C&W and KCOM and managed the delivery of thousands of contact centre seats.

He has been involved in the development and practical application of Business Science to real organisational issues and held Chairs in Business Science at UoC and InCosI.

Check out the Customer Experience Foundation, connect with Morris on LinkedIn here and say Hi to him on Twitter @morrispentel.

Photo Credit: Tom Simpson Flickr via Compfight cc

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