This post is from our podcast with Jeanne Bliss, a Certified Customer Experience Professional, current president of Customer Bliss, consultant, keynote speaker, and author of 3 best selling books. With her 20 years of experience holding the title of CCO and creating transformational changes to customer experience for major brands like Coldwell Banker and Microsoft, she shares her insights on what customer experience is, why it is so important, and customer experience as a growth strategy. Listen to her talk with Voices of Customer Experience about improving customer experience from the frontline and building a strong customer experience strategy into your operating model by outlining her book Would You Do That To Your Mother?
According to Jeanne Bliss, when she talks about customer experience, she means “creating an environment inside an organization that enables people to deliver value and a very deliberately crafted experience to enable customers to achieve their goals.” She believes that customer experience should be seen as a growth strategy adapting to people’s lives and their needs.
Jeanne’s book, Would You Do That To Your Mother?, is focused on figuring out how to give customers the treatment they desire and give your employees the ability to deliver that treatment. The idea surrounding the book is the importance of imagining that the person on the other end is a person we love. In her book, she uses case studies to discuss pains, solutions, and financial results and relate them to profitability and growth metrics. She shows that CX is a growth strategy and not just an abstract concept.
According to Jeanne Bliss, one of the most important things for companies to do is to put the right people with the right training on the front line, then empower them to act directly on negative customer experiences. She said that companies can empower these frontline people to represent the customer centric culture of companies by recognizing that anyone interacting with customers, whether it be those on the front line or account managers, must be given the tools they need to navigate around rules that were previously established and possibly bend the rules on a customer by customer basis.
She explained that in order for this to happen, two things must exist.
Jeanne commented that employees should never be “policy cops” and should always support the customer in a time of need. She described that there are two ways of doing this.
She stressed the importance of hiring the right people and making sure to only hire people with core values in each department. The companies that provide the best experiences for their customers do this. They put their job candidates into different situations to get to know the person behind the resume. She provided an example of this by talking about how the CEO of iHop would take potential candidates out to breakfast at iHop in order to see how these candidates would treat the wait staff, which would then give the CEO a better idea of the person’s character.
According to Jeanne, bringing back the human touch is vital. In a day and age where technology is constantly improving, it can be difficult to maintain a personal aspect in customer experience. When trying to balance deploying data science and maintaining the personal human touch, it is important to remember that technology should be used to enhance the customer experience. It should never be used in place of the human touch. Jeanne mentioned that you need to craft the customer experience first, then use the data science, AI, chatbots, etc. to simply enhance the experience provided to customers. The problem with the intersection of technology and human touch is that companies are implementing technology and science ahead of the approach for how they will help intersect with the human experience.
Jeanne provided a great example of using technology to enhance customer experience when talking about a restaurant that integrated the use of Apple Watches with its employees. Waiters would use an Apple Watch to know when to refill their customers’ wine glasses, and the valet would use an Apple Watch to be notified when customers using the valet services were paying their check.
Jeanne Bliss noted that “survey score begging” has become a huge issue in today’s market. Companies are desperate for their customers to give them that 10/10 rating and will shamelessly beg customers for a high score. She, however, says that it is storytelling that is the most important thing. Even though survey scores may seem easy to interpret, they really are not.
As she mentioned, there are things that even promoters of your company do not necessarily like. Even though they would maybe recommend your company to a friend, they are not happy with everything. Jeanne believes that in order to truly understand pain points of customers, companies must capture multiple sources of information from different places - social media, AI and behavioral information, recorded phone calls from the contact center, information from employees on the front line, etc. Therefore, Jeanne said that if you must use the score, the score should come at then end.
She exclaimed that companies should have leaders ask for accountability by each stage of the journey. Leaders should not be accountable for a score but for making customers’ lives easier.
Jeanne talked about how there is no one metric that can be used to completely measure customer experience and that companies can gain traction in CX by blending the different metrics together. In the end, she said, it is all about telling a story.
Customers are more than willing to provide you with a lot of information. Therefore, Jeanne explained that there needs to be a common categorization of all of this information among all the different places it is collected (social media, call center, etc.).
She mentioned how we have to figure out how to categorize this information, then organize it by stage of the customer journey. It is crucial to have KPIs that customers care about, not just KPIs that you care about, especially in companies where you have customers interacting on a regular basis. The numbers are not the story. Jeanne said that the whole idea of the customer listening path is to create storytelling.
Jeanne goes on to talk about how people can use her most recent book to change the way they are doing things. In her book, she talks about the 4 dimensions that impact our lives as customers and provides readers with 32 audit questions. She stressed that in order to successfully start making changes, you should only identify one or two things you want to start working on and start there.