Jim Barnes

Sometimes the best customer experience is no customer experience

A few days ago, I came across a most delightful quote attributed to John Logue. He said "it's almost impossible to overestimate the unimportance of most things." It seems to me that this quote might form the basis for a discussion on...

Your loyalty is not worth what we said it was: the pitfalls of devaluing...

Hilton Hotels has recently come under widespread criticism for their decision to devalue the points that members of the Hilton HHonors program have accumulated. As of January, members will need to redeem approximately 25% more points for reward nights at Hilton properties. By taking...

Dangers of Dumbing Down Customer Research

Just about every time I buy something from a major retailer or stay at a leading hotel these days, I am being asked to tell them how they did in serving me. They are all using "cash register tape" research—the modern-day equivalent of what...

Capitalizing on Customer (In)experience

We're all focused these days on the customer experience and with good reason. But there is very good evidence that increasing customer inexperience may represent an opportunity for companies to step in and help customers accomplish things. At the end of the day, customers need...

Will Hummer and Saturn Ever be the Same? What a Global Recession Does to...

Some of the biggest challenges facing executives during this recession are related to the retention of customer confidence in their brands. Some of the biggest casualties of the economic turmoil have been some of the biggest brands. North American auto brands make an interesting...

Stop Cutting Prices! Retain Customers with Four Types of Experiential Value

A company's value proposition can't be carved in stone; it must be flexible and adaptable. The value we offer to customers is constantly changing, whether we intend it to or not. The challenge we face in business is ensuring that a large percentage of...

Customer Experience: More Important Than Ever in Tough Times

If customer experience is a viable differentiation strategy in good times, it is doubly so today. At a time when most firms will naturally gravitate toward a strategy of cutting back, hunkering down and laying off—because that's what one is expected to do in...

In the Midst of a Global Economic Crisis, It’s Still All About Service

I set out this morning to write a blog with no mention of subprime mortgages, recession, economic downturn, or bailouts. I figured that maybe we have all heard enough gloom and doom in the past few weeks. My message was to be...

Does Customer-Centricity Have to Be a Victim of the Economic Downturn?

Suddenly, and with very good reason, everyone is focused on the impact of the current world-wide economic crisis. How does a company maintain a customer focus in the face of an environment that cries out for cost-cutting, downsizing and laying off? There...

Let’s Talk About How We Create REAL Customer Loyalty

There is a conventional view that, if they are to achieve long-run growth, companies should create as many loyal customers as possible. It is also acknowledged that customers move through a series of stages en route to that exalted state where they are...

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone to Measure What Matters to Customers

A young woman in a research project I was conducting a couple of years ago told about a particular service provider she had called, angry as hell, fully intending to cancel her service. But the representative she encountered on the phone changed everything. "I was...

Shallow Thinking Ensures That We Get the Kind of Customer Research We Deserve

There has been much attention paid of late to the fact that most managers are incapable of deep thought. In their recent book, Marketing Metaphoria (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2008), Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman bemoan the fact that marketing managers in particular...

Can Starbucks Still Be a “Third Place” When Customers Drive Through?

Starbucks is simply not what it used to be. The brand that was one of the pioneers of the notion of the brand experience is struggling to be relevant in a turbulent marketplace. The stock price is down and Howard Schultz is...

Don’t Just Hand Over Research to Joe in IT; the DIY Age Demands a...

The practice of marketing has been seriously impacted by changes in technology, in part because of technology's effect on consumer behavior, but at least as importantly because of its contribution to management's ability to collect reliable data. Customers are using technology in ways...

You’re Not Customer-Centric Just Because You Say You Are

The ultimate arbiter of customer centricity has to be the customer. Many businesses shout in their advertising and emblazon on the back of their delivery vans that they are customer-focused or customer-driven or that the customer comes first with them. Yet, their...

In Defense of Airline Employees

It has become fashionable to bash airlines and, by extension, airline employees. It seems that everyone has an airline story and delights in telling it to anyone who will listen. The subject matter ranges from the mildly inconvenient long wait at a...

Offshoring of Call Centers May Have Negative Brand Repercussions

The question of the effect of a decision to locate call centers in other regions or even other countries is one that has attracted much attention and comment in recent years. We are all aware of the rationale that prompts a company to...

The CEO Also Has to Be the Customer Experience Officer

It may be argued that the role of the CEO of an organization is to preside over its growth and ongoing success. My simplistic view of the world leads me to conclude that, acquisitions aside, organic growth really comes only from three possible sources:...

Please, Sir, May I Have a 10?: The Sad State of Customer Satisfaction “Research”

I stayed last week at a hotel near a major airport. Following an efficient check-in, I went to my room and began to unpack. As I began to set up my laptop, I noticed on the desk a rather large white card with bold...

It Was Not the Branded Customer Experience British Airways Intended

It's not exactly the best time to be the CEO of an airline. It's especially not a great time to be Willie Walsh. As custodian of the British Airways brand, Walsh presided over what was arguably the worst week in the airline's history at the...

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