It is not about the data, it is about unifying the experience for the customer


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Customer Experience LifecycleThis is not all about data. At the end of the day, customers will expect a great (unified) experience across multiple channels. While it takes data to know the customer and systems to remember them, only great experiences lead to amazing service.

If I call you, I reasonable expect you have a history of my transactions regardless of channel and how long I have been your customer. I also probable expect for you to remember other issues and challenges I’ve had and how they were resolved. A breakdown in that at any point creates painful experiences.

This speaks to having worked through the customer journey, what is working and what isn’t, and improving the experience for the customer. This journey should identify data that is useful to know and insights that can create for you in delivering stunning service.

While journey maps are about much more than data, it is important to look at what data you have, what data you could use and what insight that could create in improving the whole experience.

Pay particular attention to data (structure and unstructured) that you already have from customers via your call center, web site, social media comments and email responses. There is a richness here that can inform the customer journey and the data that can used to improve it.

Improving the experience for the customer by providing front line staff better insights is foundational to the digital executive obsessed with the customer.  Journey maps without great data and insight could just be someone’s opinion.

Staff who are closest to the customer usually have a handle on what data and insight would be most useful to the journey mapping process. Be sure to engage them regularly.

Journey maps can be tedious and budgets may be constrained to bring in external resources to help. Consider an investment in training at least one of your staff who be the subject matter expert and facilitate the process, even if it just part time.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with one segment or persona and develop a simple journey map.
  2. Begin by identify data that you have or gaps that exist in providing great insight.
  3. Encourage a focus on insight and improving the journey.
  4. See this as a holistic process integral to your ecosystem.
  5. Involve staff closest to the customer.

Why our focus and day to day work should be about creating  amazing “customer experiences”


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As leaders, we spend a lot of time talking about “what” needs to change. We train people in new ways of doing things. We create clever campaigns to drive the message home.

When we aren’t obsessed about “what”, we go on and on about “how” to change things. Tactical considerations are our bread and butter.

Before proceeding down those paths, it is essential to focus on making sure employees know “why” things need to change. Without “why” as the foundation, all of our other initiatives are fruitless.

Why is important. It is in fact the starting point. Without it, our nonprofit, is just another commodity. Plenty of companies and nonprofits do what we do. Some do it how we do it. It will be rare that any can beat us at the why.

So here are a couple of intriguing questions:

  1. Why do we need ensure that our customers are having an amazing experience?
  2. Why make customers cope with the ordinary?
  3. Why aren’t customers more engaged with both our mission and revenue opportunities?

Our focus and day to day work should be about creating  amazing “customer experiences” in this new age of consumerism. What is going on in the rest of the world isn’t lost on your customers. They are judging you based on those experiences. We can bury our head in the sand. That will only get us left behind. Our credibility as an executive is at stake.

Golden Circle – Why, How and What

“To consistently differentiate your customer experience, you need to transform your culture.” ~Bruce Temkin


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Changing culture is very tough. Some days it almost feels impossible.

Is it worth it to build a culture based on amazing Customer Experiences? Yes, it is.

And so … let the journey begin.

“I often say that the customer experience your organization delivers is a reflection of your culture and operating processes. In other words, what customers experience outside is based on what’s going on inside. To consistently differentiate your customer experience, you need to transform your culture.” ~Bruce Temkin

via What is Culture? How People Think, Believe, and Act | Customer Experience Matters.

Transform Culture


Top 5 cybersecurity mistakes leaders make, and how to fix them



Cybersecurity teams are largely understaffed and underskilled. Security breaches are only going to accelerate and get worse. In general, most businesses are not prepared.

At a strategic level, in the C-Suite, what do we need to focus on right now?

The the article, “Top 5 cybersecurity mistakes IT leaders make, and how to fix them” we find some good ideas to consider.

“Not aligning cybersecurity and business goals – Cybersecurity professionals said the most beneficial action companies can take is adding goals and metrics related to security that IT business managers and security teams can work toward.

“Not building repeatable processes – As mentioned above, one of the top two security challenges named by security professionals is too many manual and informal security processes. These workers suggest that the second most beneficial action organizations can take is to document and formalize all cybersecurity processes.

“Not investing in training – While companies are increasing cybersecurity budgets, they tend to invest more in technology solutions than their employees, according to the report. Investing in more training and education at all levels, from non-technical employees to the IT and security teams to executive management, is key for protecting organizations.

“Not providing the right training – Cybersecurity professionals said they look to specific training courses (76%) and professional development organizations (71%) to build knowledge, skills, and abilities, rather than security certifications. Organizations can look to offer more sophisticated, continuous training, with a focus on specific skills that tend to be lacking, such as application and cloud security.

“Not assuming a perpetual skills shortage in future planning and strategy – Since cybersecurity professionals say the no. 1 security challenge they face is their staff being undersized for their organization, businesses must create aggressive programs for recruiting talent from IT teams and the business side to bridge security gaps, the report recommends.”

Source: Top 5 cybersecurity mistakes IT leaders make, and how to fix them

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates


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There is a lot of talk and hype about the “learning organization”.

Learning what?

Here are some more questions. Please take a minute and actually answer them. Seriously!

  • Are we learning about the customer experience?
  • Are we using that learning to continuously improve our customer service?
  • Are we converting those bad experiences into good experiences?

The answers matter! How did you do?

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

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Learning – Source:

Is it really “location, location, location” anymore?


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We all have the “location, location, location” mantra emblazoned in our minds. While specific to the real estate market, we have tended to believe it applies to products and services as well. For a long time, it did.

But not so much anymore. And less and less every day. We know it is true. Are we ready to pick up the pace? Are we evolving fast enough?

Slowly location isn’t so important. Of course, the internet is one of the main culprits. Federal Express can take some credit. Television has an impact. Credit cards enable transactions at a distance. Call phones un-hooked us and cut the cord. And my favorite, air conditioning, transformed the south and manufacturing.

What percent of your business today has nothing to do with location? Is that true of the competition? How fast is it accelerating in your industry?

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A shortcut to cybersecurity



Here is a great summary from Axios about the shortage of professionals in the area of cybersecurity. We need to fill the gap ASAP. Is there a shortcut?

Endgame’s Artemis desktop. (Screenshot: Endgame)

“With Russia, China, Iran and North Korea on the loose, experienced and knowing cybersecurity hands are among the world’s most-sought-after workers. The trouble is that there are not nearly enough of them — estimates are that the U.S. alone could use 200,000 more cyber experts to protect the country’s private and public computers. And half or fewer of those applying are not qualified, according to a survey by ISACA, an industry association.

“What’s happening: Endgame, a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm that has worked most closely with the U.S. intelligence agencies, launched Artemis, an intelligent chatbot.

“Why it matters: Hyrum Anderson, Endgame’s lead data scientist, says Artemis is a shortcut to closing the gap between inexperienced “Tier 1” computer analysts and top-flight but comparatively few “Tier 3” professionals, who know the field.

  • The volume of potentially malicious alerts is “staggering, so a real threat can be lost in the noise,” Anderson tells Axios.
  • But by typing questions using natural English into Artemis, a relatively new cybersecurity analyst can conduct a sophisticated investigation of a vast computer system. “Our customers are trying to protect their systems with limited resources,” he said.

Be smart: “The yawning shortage of professionals, propelled by a wildly active hacking community — such as BadRabbit, the most recent ransomware attack — is global. There will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021, forecasts CyberSecurity Ventures, an industry newsletter. The forecast includes the West and other countries including IndiaJapan and China.”

Salesforce using Dreamforce to get personal



Salesforce is using Dreamforce to get personal. Here is a great summary from Axios.

At the Dreamforce 2017 conference, Salesforce will unveil Einstein Prediction Builder. Photo: Salesforce

Salesforce will take over San Francisco this week, literally. The company’s annual Dreamforce conference is expected to draw 170,000 attendees. That’s more than the population of Sunnyvale, Calif., and more then enough to overwhelm the SOMA district around San Francisco’s Moscone Center.

What we’re hearing: As for news, Salesforce is focused on taking more of its service’s core capabilities and making them available to customers for their custom use.

  • Of particular note, the company is taking its Einstein decision-making capabilities and making them available for customers to predict the outcome of any Salesforce field using the AI technology.
  • Another component of the MyEinstein offering uses data from Salesforce to power automated chatbots.
  • Also at the event, Salesforce plans to announce MySalesforce, which lets its customers easily make their own branded iOS and Android apps using data stored in the service.

What we’re seeing: Beyond the product news, Salesforce is also continuing to raise the bar for what inclusivity and accessibility look like at a tech conference. Last year, the company added stickers to allow attendees to indicate their preferred gender pronouns. This year, the company will also offer gender neutral bathrooms, mother’s rooms, multiple skin tones for speaker microphones, plus ASL interpreters and Ava technology for those who are deaf or hearing impaired.

The elephant in the room is making a mess



There is an elephant in the room. It has been there for a while and everyone knows it. It doesn’t seem interested in going away. We keep hoping it will. If is making messes no one wants to deal with.

The elephant has a name. The name is Cyber-Security.

It is clearly a big issue so this is not a baby elephant. We will have to talk about it when a breach occurs (and it will). The problem with that approach is when it happens the focus becomes figuring out the technical aspects of how it happened not what we should do holistically beyond just the technology to prevent it.

This is where another elephant issue comes into play. Remember the blind men, who have never come across an elephant before, learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Continue reading

Walmart plans to increase use of Macs



According to Axios: Walmart has 7,000 Macs in use today, but expects that number to skyrocket next year as it gives workers the option of using an Apple computer or Windows PC.

“This time next year we will probably be managing 100,000 Macs,” Miles Leacy, technical expert for Apple technologies at Walmart, said at a conference hosted by Jamf. “In a few months we are going to announce the choice program for employees.”

What’s happening: Walmart is working on the project with Apple and Jamf, which specializes in managing Apple devices in business. Leacy noted that one reason for the project is the total cost of ownership, saying “it is a lot cheaper than supporting a Windows box — it just makes good business sense.”

Why it matters: While Apple makes most of its money in the consumer business, it has been steadily trying to grow business adoption of Macs, iPhone and iPads. Other big Jamf customers include Lyft (which has 90% of its 1,700 workers on Macs), IBM, GE, SAP, Capital One and Intuit.

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“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” ~Donald Porter


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We can continuously learn but none of our efforts are perfect.

There is lots of data to suggest the power of service recovery. Here is an overview from the Temkin Group.

  • The power of service recovery. It’s undeniable that a good service recovery after a bad experience provides excellent results. When the service recovery is very poor, 63% of consumers cut back their spending while only 2% increased their spending. If the service recovery is very good, there’s a 10x improvement in consumers who increase their spending and more than a 39 %-point reduction in consumers who reduced their spending.
  • The limitation of service recovery. The advantages of service recovery really kick in when the company reaches at least a “4” on our 7-point scale of goodness. But it takes at least a “6” on the scale to have as many customers increasing their spending as decreasing their spending. That’s a pretty high hurdle.

So how do we know about recovery opportunities? After customers have a very bad or very good experience with a company, they are more likely to give feedback directly to the company than they are to post about it on Facebook, Twitter, or third party rating sites. Customers are also more likely to share positive feedback through online surveys and share negative feedback through emails. Compared to previous years, customers are more likely to share feedback over Facebook and Twitter, and these channels are most popular with consumers who are between 25- and 44-years-old.

Here is a model for recovery.

  • Communication (clearly communicate the process and set expectations)
  • Accountability (take responsibility for fixing the problem or getting an answer)
  • Responsiveness (don’t make the customer wait for your communication or a solution)
  • Empathy (acknowledge the impact that the situation has on the customer)
  • Solution (at the end of the day, make sure to solve the issue or answer the question)

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.” – Donald Porter


“…you have to want to be engaged. If the desire isn’t there, no person or book can plant it within you.” –Tim Clark


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Many years ago (published in 1970)) I read a book “You Really Oughta Wanna” by by Robert F. Mager and Peter Pipe.

In short, they articulated a method that helps you answer the following questions about a perceived performance problem at work.

  • Is it really important?
  • Is the problem that the workers don’t have the necessary skill(s)?
  • If it’s truly a skill gap, why does the skill gap exist and what’s the best way to close it?
  • If it’s not a skill gap (meaning employees DO have the skill but don’t use it), why aren’t they using it?
  • Is there a better way to do the work so that the employees don’t have to perform the skill?
  • Is the individual employee (or employees) incapable of performing the skill no matter how much training is provided?
  • Given the answers to all the above questions, what is the best solution (or the best combination of solutions) to solve the problem?

It is worth reading if you can get your hands on it. As managers, we all want employees to be motivated and that somehow gets tangled up in engagement and performance issues. There is a school of thought that says engagement is the employees problem.

As Tim Clark says:

“…you have to want to be engaged. There has to be deep-seated desire in your heart and mind to participate, to be involved, and to make a difference. If the desire isn’t there, no person or book can plant it within you.” –Tim Clark

Still the conundrum of what to do about the un-motivated employee. There are lots of them. Is there any thing we, as managers, should do?

What should I do?

Should we just fire them all? Why did we hire them in the first place?

This is worth figuring out.

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Epidemic of Emotionless Experience Design


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Bruce Temkin and his team are onto something. There are at least 3 core pillars to the customer experience. Many have documented this. Forrester has done some great work on it as well.

They generally follow this model from the customer’s point of view:

  • Did it meet my needs (goal)?
  • Was it easy to do?
  • Did I emotionally connect? For example, was it fun?

According to Temkin, as you can see in the graphic below:

  • Only about one in 10 companies is very good at proactively designing for any aspect of customer experience.
  • More companies are good at designing for success (completion on interactions) than effort or emotion, but less than half of companies consider themselves good in this area.
  • Emotion is the weakest link, as only about one-third of companies think they are good at proactive emotional design.

Source: Epidemic of Emotionless Experience Design | Customer Experience Matters®

Some honest questions about culture change and the customer experience


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It is my observation that most corporate cultures aren’t intentional but seem to evolve over time. Maybe we inherited it. Maybe we are vaguely aware of what it is but don’t think it is important to the work at hand. We have our mission, goals, strategies and objectives. Isn’t that enough?

Occasionally we decide we want to change it, whatever it is.

First question — what is it? What is our current culture? Do we know? Do we want to know? If we do know, then …

Second question — Do we want to change it? If so, how? Will it include a drive to improve the customer experience? If not, why not.

It starts with a senior management vision and buy in. But what then?

If we want to drive culture change, then we’ll need to explicitly activate middle managers. Nothing is going to change with out them. Period.

How do we activate the change we want with middle managers?

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“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” ~Steve Jobs


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Getting our people strategy right is a huge challenge. All leaders know it and struggle. If only we were better at this.

The first challenge is the hiring challenge. Steve Jobs rightly narrowed this down to hiring smart people.

The second is learning, as leaders, to not micro-manage. That can be a tough one for the smart managers we have hired. How do we create more autonomy with abdicating commitment to a shared vision?

The third challenge is to listen strategically. Smart employees always have really great ideas. How do we harness that? How will we sort out, from all the right ideas, the ones that will move us ahead? How do we create focus?

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Steve Jobs

Source: This Classic Quote From Steve Jobs About Hiring Employees Describes What Great Leadership Looks Like |

China Will Be the World’s Largest Digital Market by 2018


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According to Statista, “China will soon overtake the United States in the digital economy.”

  • “According to calculations by analysts at Statista, greater China’s digital market will outstrip the US market as early as 2018. As a result, China will be the largest digital economy before becoming the world’s largest economy.”
  • “These projections are based on data from Statista’s Digital Economy Compass, a new comprehensive compendium on the global digital market. It examines the competitive development of the platform business in eCommerce, eTravel and Digital Media. Already, the four major Chinese players Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei have achieved impressive figures and are increasingly operating on a global level. “In the foreseeable future, the growth of the US big four will be increasingly challenged by their Chinese counterparts,” says Tobias Bohnhoff, Head of Market Analytics with Statista. “Furthermore there is no major player from the West that has comparable reach or impact on the global digital landscape.”
  • “The Statista Digital Economy Compass highlights the figures and factors behind these developments and provides a comprehensive overview of the platform business in the key markets of the United States, China and Europe. It analyzes the trends and gives deep insights into the hard facts of different sub-segments, from media and marketing to connected cars, smart homes, and fintech.”
  • “Special attention is given to the influence of the driving forces cloud, social, mobile and voice-control. In addition, specific chapters cover the topics of venture capital, “Who will beat who in the platform business?”, and cutting-edge technologies like AI, AR, and VR. “With the Digital Economy Compass, we have created a standard work for the digital business,” says Felix Wegener, analyst for digital markets at Statista. “It is a reference work full of fundamental and useful statistics, which every decision-maker in the digital business should definitely bookmark.”
  • Source: • Chart: China Will Be the World’s Largest Digital Market by 2018 | Statista

Doing something about the data, insight and customer experience gaps


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Continuous ImprovementKnowing you have a gap in the data and the experience is one thing. Doing something that improves the experience is another. Insight is very useful but it must lead to action.

Much of our effort should be in understanding where we are today, where we want to go, what the gaps are and what we can do move ahead. This is both short term with quick wins and the overall long term strategy.

Accurately identifying the gaps gets you on the road to improvement. This should be seen as a continuous process with huge incremental results. Lots of quick experiments and tests can tell you a lot about what works and what doesn’t.

Senior executives should help create a culture of gap analysis and continuous improvement. Without the focus and support of the digital executive, we can all fall into “analysis paralysis”.

Gap analysis and continuous improvement is something that can be done at all levels of the organization. The closer it is to the customer, the better. Customer champions, evangelist and advocates are best position to have great energy around this.

Basic training in facilitating the process doesn’t require huge budgets. Creating performance expectations for improving the experience in a tangible way is very important.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with simple approaches to encourage identifying gaps and plans to improve the experience.
  2. Begin setting expectations that it is important to measure the results of the improvement initiatives.
  3. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement.
  4. Be sure to set clear goals for gains.
  5. Clearly articulate why gap identification and improvement is important.
  6. Identify evangelists and champions of continuous improvement.
  7. Focus on staff closest to the customer. Listen to them first rather than a senior executive 5 levels removed.

Does Oracle have the answer to the future of data?


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Building upon the next generation of the industry-leading database Oracle Database 18c, Oracle recently introduced the world’s first autonomous database cloud. Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud is supposed to eliminate complexity, human error, and manual management, helping to ensure higher reliability, security, and more operational efficiency at the lowest cost.

Does it? At what expense?

The autonomous database cloud is being sold with a promise it integrates adaptive machine learning to deliver self-driving, self-tuning, self-recovering, and self-scaling administration—without human intervention—resulting in streamlined operations, more efficient consumption of resources, and higher security and reliability. With built-in automation at all levels it could perform maintenance tasks. With companies could now use their valuable IT resources to focus on extracting more value from the data they currently manage to directly influence business opportunities and outcomes.

Big promises. Bold vision.

Quotes from Larry Ellison’s Keynote Presentation

  • “Companies are losing the cyber war. And it gets worse every year. Companies have to defend themselves against nation-states who are stealing their data, and very sophisticated cyber criminals who are stealing their data.”
  • “We have to reprioritize and re-think about how we defend our information. We need new systems. It can’t be our people versus their computers. We’re going to lose that war. It’s got to be our computers versus their computers. And make no mistake: it’s a war.”
  • “The way to secure our data, the way to prevent data theft is more automation. And we need a cyber defense system that automatically detects vulnerabilities and attacks.”
  • “And these two systems, the Oracle Autonomous Database and our highly, highly automated cyber defense systems are designed to stop data theft.”
  • “The Autonomous Database and our automated security system, is based on a new technology called machine learning. Machine learning is the most important new technology to show up for a long time. It looks at all of these logons with all the IP addresses and URLs, distinguishes normal behavior from abnormal, risky behavior.”
  • “The database automatically provisions itself, upgrades itself, patches itself, backs itself up, and tunes itself while running. And because there is no human intervention, there is no human error.”
  • “The Oracle Management Cloud has a unified data architecture. Manage anyone’s technology — on-premise, other clouds, our cloud, no integration required. We engineered all of these pieces to fit together. We unify the data, we analyze the data, we detect the anomalies and we automatically remediate it. It’s one system. And it’s relatively easy to use, much easier to use than the other systems.”
  • “It is not simply an analytical system, like Splunk. It is a security monitoring and management system designed to detect and remediate the problem.”

“Some companies don’t have an engagement problem, they have a hiring problem.” –Bob Kelleher


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I am a big fan of measuring and improving employee engagement. I have been for decades now. I see what can happen to the customer experience with that kind of focus. It is encouraging and very, very good thing.

Now, to get personal …. how did I hire so many un-engaged employees?

I may not like the answer to that question but the answer is powerful.

Do I have an engagement problem or a hiring problem?

“Some companies don’t have an engagement problem, they have a hiring problem.” –Bob Kelleher


Does the customer experience matter? Does it correlate to loyalty?


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Once again, Temkin Group is publishing a new infographic that is very helpful. Some tidbits:

  • The customer experience does relate to loyalty and increased profitability.
  • 39% of consumers who had a bad experience spent less with the company.
  • Customers aren’t thrilled with their experiences. Only 68% rate it as okay.

Source: The Ultimate CX Infographic, 2017 – Customer Experience Matters®

Continue reading

Americans just don’t fear robots — They think they are coming for other people!


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Nearly two-thirds of Americans expect humans to struggle finding work in a future of robots — all humans except themselves, that is. According to a study by Pew Research, they worry far less about losing their own jobs to automation.

Why it matters: The study confirms prior research that, despite the knowledge that a powerful new technological force is gathering momentum, Americans remain unperturbed about their own well-being, leaving themselves potentially vulnerable to personal financial crisis.

 “For many people, this isn’t real until it actually happens to them,” Pew’s Aaron Smith, who led the project, told Axios. What they have yet to recognize is that “it’s not just something that’s going to happen to fast food workers and insurance clerks,” he said, but to people just like themselves.

What the studies say: The Pew report is a followup to a study it issued last year with similar findings. Likewise, a survey last month by Bloomberg Beta, a venture capital firm, found that just 12% of Americans worry about losing their job to automation. The surveys spring in large part from much-discussed 2013 research from Oxford University that said 47% of American jobs are at risk of automation by 2033.

The bottom line: Numerous experts challenge such pessimism, but regardless of what anyone thinks, there is very little dispute that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. The only questions are whether they will find new work, and if so, how long it will take. Should dislocation occur on the scale some forecasters project, experts fear social chaos. “Some people will be taken by surprise, and nothing leads to instability more than frustrated expectations,” Bloomberg Beta’s Roy Bahat told Axios.

Source: Americans just don’t fear robots – Axios

The Moneyball CIO and how data can make a difference


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IT can often feel like an unwinnable game, with limited resources, changing priorities, multiple stakeholders and increased demands.

Too often, IT leaders must make decisions with insufficient information and without knowing the true effect on the business. Info-Tech’s framework removes the guesswork from what makes the business happy and predicts the impact of key decisions before they happen.

Data and data about the data can make a big difference.


Unifying data for the customer

Data IntegrationEven 2 pieces of unified data is more powerful than one. Having a plan for the most valuable sources and at least integrating some of the data will move insight ahead.

Let’s be honest. This is just plain difficult. I’m a small business. I believe in the value of integrated data. But it is painful and difficult. I use one tool a lot. It is call email. I have another tool for managing Customer Relationships. If I send an email, I can also get it in the CRM tool just by sending it as a bcc. So far so good. But then I use a different tool for eMarketing. I then have to export it from CRM and import it to the eMarketing tool. And on and on it goes from there.

Imagine the challenge for a mid-size company. It gets worse for large corporations. It just isn’t easy.

That said, it is worth doing as best you can. So that is what I do. And you should consider the same.

First, we need a strategy. Pick at least two systems that will give you a better level of insight. Integrate the core data needed for that insight. Don’t get carried away. If it doesn’t give you insight and you can’t act on it to move the relationship ahead then it isn’t useful.

Second, we need to execute the strategy and evaluate its effectiveness. If it isn’t effective consider stopping. Why waste the energy and resources.

Third, while data integration is generally very complex and difficult, the focus needs to be on simplicity. If a business unit cannot make a case for the insight that the data will bring and the action / results that it will accomplish, I say “move on”. That takes courage and great support from the executive level.

Knowing more than one thing generally leads to greater insight. Our everyday experience teaches us that. The insight I gain by knowing a decision maker at a target company is opening my emails leads me to see if I can schedule a call to discover more about their challenges. Simply integrating CRM and eMarketing tools can lead to that insight.

As more data is integrated about customers, the biggest issue is data quality and duplicates. If left unchecked, the insights and action will be suspect. It is important to keep the data integrated as simple as possible and pay attention to “master data” and the “golden record” early on. Investing in some level of Master Data Management (MDM) will make sense. Better to make this decision early and enforce integrity to the data.

There are several ways to approach analytics. Simple and easy to use Excel spreadsheets is one level. Data warehouses and data marts takes it to another level. Within systems themselves (think CRM), dashboards are very powerful at providing insight and action (via workflow).

All of this leads to an issue of executive oversight. Someone needs to make the tough decisions in the best interest of the customer. The CEO needs to empower someone to make those decisions. Otherwise your technology team will be chasing its tail on a regular basis with unclear direction and expensive solutions to meet the great demand for integration.

There is clearly a role for oversight for this function. It should be led by a high level business executive who focuses on insight.

Many of the advanced solutions and systems can be very expensive. Senior executives will clearly experience sticker shock when looking at investment decisions. Out of many technology investments to be made, this is one that cries out for clear ROI and a total economic benefit to spell out.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with simple integrations that focus early on data quality.
  2. Begin with integrations that lead to clear insight and action.
  3. Encourage oversight and accountability for results.
  4. Early on, default to system dashboards and workflow rather than other complicated systems.
  5. Insights that lead to next steps along the customer journey will have high payoffs for renewal, cross-selling and up-selling.
  6. Senior business executives must be engaged early and often.
  7. Enforce clear budget boundaries with clear ROI.

Want to better understand customers? Do less quantitative and more qualitative research.


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We all want to understand our customers better. Many, if not most of us, have moved to some type of customer feedback / experience tools.

It is relatively easy to analyze the numbers. We can add them up. They can be sliced and diced. We can quantitatively compare them to other companies and our industry. We are all about the numbers. I admit, I am too. I am a big Moneyball fan.

How much qualitative research are we doing. Here are a couple of ideas. They will take a different level of effort but may improve, perhaps radically, the quality of our research.

  • Here is a tough one. Take your customer list and randomly sort it. Divide it up among the executive team, including the CEO. Have the executive team call 5 customers a week. Give them a few open ended questions to ask. Ask them to summarize the calls and report back next week. I guarantee that if it is done for 3 months faithfully, things will change.
  • Customers are calling you, many times to complain. Find a way to summarize the incoming calls and create a continuous improvement system. Things will change.
  • Devote X % of your call center to make outbound calls to do something similar to what your executive team is doing. Summarize the results and share it with the executive team. Things will change.

Want to better understand customers? Do less quantitative and more qualitative research.

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Why wait? Speed does makes a difference. Are you an agile enterprise?


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Speed makes a difference. Ship now.

Speed makes a difference. Ship now.

This is such a great question. Why wait? Seriously. Why wait?

In a world where not transforming yourself into a digital business can spell disaster, why wait indeed. 70% of businesses on the Fortune 1,000 list have disappeared in the last 10 years.  What else do you need to know as a leader to move ahead?

And, having an approach to speed is important. If you need to know more, look at agile methodologies. What is your assessment of whether you are an “agile enterprise” or not?

Seth Godin says it well. Speed can make a difference.

If you’re on the critical path, if someone is waiting for your contribution, ship now.We have deadlines for a reason, but the key word is ‘dead’. In fact, you don’t have to wait for the deadline or get anywhere near it, especially if you want to speed things up.

Seth’s Blog: Why wait?



Understanding the customer in the digital age — Data is about insight


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Customer Insight

Customer Insight

Data is very useful if it allows us to understand our customers better. Collecting data is of no value if it doesn’t lead to insight. Think data, insight and action.

There are all kind of insights that will lead to further action.  Here are several:

  1. The value and potential of the customer
  2. The next step in building the relationship based on other similar customers
  3. Channels they may prefer
  4. What is the level of engagement
  5. Companies and organizations they may have a relationship with.
  6. Summaries of how recent and frequently of buying and engagement.
  7. What kind of experience they are having. How satisfied they are.
  8. What they are interested in. What type of content should be sent to them? How to render the content via static content, graphics or video.
  9. Who is in their network and who influences them?
  10. What kind of referrals do they make?
  11. Real time data from Smart devices

The list goes on and on. In thinking about what data to gather, always think through what insight that it will give and where it will lead the relationship.

The intent is to develop a deep understanding of customers, using a disciplined approach, which can be leveraged across the organization to improve the experience for the customer and profitability for the corporation. Deeper knowledge of customers assists in uncovering and clarifying opportunities. In addition to data you may already have, there may need to be in-depth interviews, focus groups, surveys and industry analyst sources.

There could be several types of insight to look at:

  1. A predictive model
  2. Attitudinal understanding
  3. Product behavior

The digital executive should also consider leading the charge to go beyond traditional quantitative and qualitative approaches. A new model is emerging know as real-time experience tracking (RET).

Real-time experience tracking was born of two insights. First, while a market researcher can’t easily follow customers around 24 hours a day, those customers’ cell phones can, and unlike human observers, they don’t sway people’s perceptions of experiences. The second insight was that although customers may interact with a company in thousands of ways, you really need to know only four things about each encounter: the brand involved, the type of touchpoint (TV ad, say, or call to the service center), how the participant felt about the experience, and how persuasive it was. (Did it make the customer more inclined to choose the brand next time?)

Source: Harvard Business Review Article

The digital executive has to be obsessive in understanding the customer. Without that passion and commitment, the voice of the customer may not be heard. This, at its core, is not about collecting data just because we can. It is all about understanding the customer, improving the experience and increasing the top line for the corporation.

Gaining the type of insight that brings real results may require investing in getting the right kind of data, different tools to analyze the data and staff that can accurately understand the data. Looking at the total economic benefit will be useful.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with a clear commitment to understanding the customer with deeper levels of insight.
  2. Begin with some questions that need to be answered with the eye toward action to improve results.
  3. Encourage a collaborative approach that cuts across departmental silos.
  4. Obsess about understand the customer.
  5. Create a culture that always looks at what we know from our customers before proceeding with an initiative.
  6. Assess the total economic benefit of understanding the customer

“Engaged employees are in the game for the sake of the game; they believe in the cause of the organization.” –Paul Marciano, Ph.D.


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Do you believe employee engagement is important? Does it play a role in the top or bottom lines?

  • Employee engagement is clearly linked to the customer experience. The dots are connected whether we see it or not. A lot has been written about the connections. You can see much of it on this blog. I would suggest to do the research yourself.
  • Mission is important. It may be more important than salary and other benefits. Motivated employees don’t show up just to show up. They believe in what we do. They get it.
  • Maybe it is time for a “time audit”. As a senior manager, how much time do I spend building a commitment to our mission? Is it enough? Should I dial it up?
  • It is time to “up our game”. It will make a difference.

“Engaged employees are in the game for the sake of the game; they believe in the cause of the organization.” –Paul Marciano, Ph.D.


What is the value of offline data?


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Offline OnlineNot all data is as valuable as others. The human resources to manually enter offline data can be daunting and so many times it is the last priority.

There are great services that automate the collection of offline data at a reasonable cost. The first step in the automation process is to create a data value strategy. That will help justify the cost of capturing the offline data and integrating it into your customer systems.

The opportunity to collect offline data for most companies is huge. We tend to underestimate how much of it we really have. For some retail oriented businesses it is close to 100 percent. Think about what you know about customers online and what you know about them offline.

Offline can include knowledge gained in the call center, by sales staff, from surveys, point of sale transactions and retail interactions from service personnel. It may be helpful to do a quick audit of all that you really have. If may be more than you think. And it may lead to great insight than online data which leads to action and engagement.  It also getting easier and more cost effective to get the data via scanning / OCR technology.

Digital executives are passionate about getting insight on what is important to customers. Think about a world where you could act on the insights gained from your offline data. The cost of integrating may be worth its weight in gold.

The other side of this is that when customers give us information and tell us something, they expect us to remember it to provide them better service. The point of integrating offline data is to gain insight into customers that can’t be gained otherwise and to be able to act for better service.

Everyone can be involved in the effort. Imagine having a simple card that service personnel fill out with the answers to 3 questions what will give you great insight. They ask the questions and write down the answers. You have a service scan it and integrate it with your other customer data. What if you could get their email address? It may not be as difficult as you think. You can get everyone involved in the effort.

There is always the constraint of the budget. It is just too costly you think. Creating a value framework is not that difficult. A simple table can help you assess what offline data you have, what it would cost to get it into your systems and what insight it will give you to build relationships (leading to greater sales).

Alert!! Do you have a privacy policy? Is it up to date? How good is your data security? Has someone independent from your technical team assessed risks in your customer data security? Not having a budget to look at this is a high risk. The damage to your credibility is at stake.

Ask yourself:

  1. What is the value of the offline data you have about your customers? How much of it do you have? What would it cost to get it integrated with your other data?
  2. If you have that additional insight, what could you do with it to increase engagement, cross-sell, and up-sell?
  3. What don’t you know, that if you started asking and integrating the data, would be hugely valuable?

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start by creating a strategy based on your offline data value framework.
  2. Begin by testing high insight data integration. Have a plan of what action you will take based on that insight.
  3. Encourage frontline staff to gather critical data that provides a high level of insight you can act on.
  4. Focus on insight and action.
  5. Create a team to oversee the effort and serve as ambassadors.
  6. Establish a budget to do something to get started.
  7. Pay attention to privacy and security.

Why iPhones cost so much


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Why iPhones cost so much … The iPhone X (pronounced “10”) will sell for $999 beginning Nov. 3.

That’s double what the first iPhone cost a decade ago, and more than any other competing device — as Apple positions itself as “a purveyor of pricey, aspirational gadgets,” per AP’s Michael Liedtke and Barbara Ortutay:

  • “Apple is … continuing to push its prices higher, even though improvements it’s bringing to its products are often incremental or derivative. … [T]hat runs contrary to decades in which high-tech device prices have fallen over time, often dramatically, even as the gadgets themselves acquired new features and powers.”
  • “[R]ival phones — many of them from Samsung — already offer similar displays, facial recognition, augmented reality and wireless charging, if often in cruder forms.”
  • “Apple also introduced a TV streaming box that will sell for $179, far more than similar devices, and a smartwatch with its own cellular connection that will cost almost $400. In December, Apple will start selling an internet-connected speaker, the HomePod, priced at $349, nearly twice as much as Amazon’s … Echo.”
  • “The premium pricing strategy reflects Apple’s long-held belief that consumers will pay more for products that are so well designed that they can’t fathom living without them.”

More than 1,000 people attended the first public event at Apple’s “spaceship” campus, the $5 billion (not a typo) Apple Park.

The reviews … USA Today front page, “$1,000 iPhone X: A crowd-pleaser on the face of it,” by Ed Baig: “With Touch ID having gone AWOL with the disappearing home button, you’ll be able to use Face ID … to purchase stuff through Apple Pay.”

  • “On the new phone you navigate home by swiping up from the bottom of the display.”
  • A fun feature: “using your face to create … animated emojis, or animojis. … Make an angry face and your animated emoji copies your facial expression.”

Go deeperSee a video of Axios chief tech correspondent Ina Fried trying the iPhone X at the Apple event.

Source: Axios AM – Axios

As a leader, I must provide a compelling vision for the future


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You role is one of a leader and you want more of a focus on the customer experience.

  • What should I do first? The first thing is to have a vision for the future. We know that a vision is compelling for our staff. The vision should contrast a burning platform that understands the current pain points.
  • Who do I involve in creating the vision? It is important to include as many people as possible at validating the vision. Creating the vision may reside with you and you alone.
  • How do I avoid creating long lists of action items? The question here is really about staying strategic and avoiding becoming tactical. Others will want to know “what to do”. I should avoid telling them if I can.

Great leaders provide a compelling vision for the future and avoid a long list of action items.

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Not all data is of equal value and not every customer is either.


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Not all data is of equal value and not every customer is either. Part of the framework that leads from insight to action is understanding which customers are of more value and those that will lead to greater levels of renewal. We need a customer value framework to drive our strategy.

Customer Value Framework

Basic value segmentation looks at low actual value and low potential value. The focus is to mine the data and watch for changes from other data.

A second cohort to segment is high current value but low potential value. The focus is to maintain the relationship to renew commitments.

Third, segment those who are low actual value and high potential value. The focus is cultivate the relationship and upgrade the commitment.

The final segment are the customers with high actual and high potential value. The focus here is to invest in the relationship.

It is critical to recognize that not all customers have the same value long term and to invest in the ones that have a high potential. This type of segmentation requires high levels of insight. Standard business processes can be enabled in lots of systems via workflow.

The digital executive has a specific responsibility to insist that this is core to your marketing, sales and digital strategies. An unfocused approach to engaging with customers can be disastrous. If you are a marketing or sales executive, organize a group to help formulate the strategy and become ambassadors for its execution.

One requirement could be to enhance your data with external sources to assist in process of segmenting. Tools like Dunn and Bradstreet data for corporations and wealth screening for individuals may be useful. In some cases it may be as simple as enhancing data based on zip codes and census tracts to get started.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start now to create a framework to segment your customers.
  2. Begin to formulate a strategy of how gain enough insights to move customers through the framework.
  3. Encourage investments in building relationships with high potential value customers.
  4. Consider enhancing your data to assist in this type of segmentation.
  5. This may not be easy, insist on finding a way to make it happen.
  6. Don’t let a lack of resources hold you back.

Digital Darwinism Has Created Digital Narcissists — Has it happened to my company?


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I need to start by acknowledging that my business is being disrupted. I can’t ignore it. Am I in denial? Do others in my company see what is going on? Have I asked them lately?

My leadership team should begin by documenting how disruption is already happening. What is my burning platform? Do I need to change our culture in small or big ways?

I should start conversations by encouraging honesty about our situation. I should look and see what is really going on with my customers. How are they different this year from last year? How is that important to my future business? What did some of my customers move onto from my product or service?

I need to take some time to get clear about where I think we should head. That time and that clarity will make a difference. If I don’t do it, who else will?

I need to involve everyone on my senior team in contributing to the effort. I need to break down the silos. I must accept that responsibility.


“Over the last 20 years, I’ve studied disruptive technology on business and society. There’s a reason why advertising and marketing in general is disrupted. Your customers are more connected than ever before. And as a result, they’re more informed, empowered, demanding and discerning. Their expectations, preferences and even values are shifting. They’re becoming digital narcissists who have far more experience and ingenuity when it comes to using new technology to communicate, discover and share. This consumer shift is outpacing innovation in the marketing industry and business overall.” ~Brian Solis

Source: Digital Darwinism Has Created Digital Narcissists | DigitalNext – AdAge

Larry Ellison’s Top 10 Rules For Success


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He’s an American internet entrepreneur, businessman and philanthropist.He serves as executive chairman and chief technology officer of Oracle Corporation.

As of April 2016, his net worth was estimated by Forbes at US$50.2 billion.

He’s Larry Ellison and here are his Top 10 Rules for Success.

Interesting story:

He first competed for the America’s Cup in 2007, and after losing in heartbreaking fashion Ellison said this in reply to a question about whether winning the America’s Cup was “worth” the $100 million he reportedly invested in his team and his boat:

“I don’t know. I’ve never won the America’s Cup. But I can tell you this: it certainly isn’t worth a hundred million dollars to lose the America’s Cup.”

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The New ‘Digital Director’ Corporate Board Role: Are You Ready?


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Boards of Directors are changing and adding new roles to their ranks. Is your Board supporting your digital strategy?

  • A “digital director” is a new kind of board member who provides support and oversight to a company’s digital strategies, and helps the company mitigate cyber risk. Companies are adding new directors with digital backgrounds in part because many existing board directors lack experience.
  • The early adopters of digital directors have been traditional, consumer-focused companies targeting young customers.   Some media and technology companies, private, growth-stage internet companies, firms with major cyber security risks, and companies looking to make huge investments in new technology have also begun adding digital directors.
  • Early examples include American Express board recruited Ted Leonsis, the CEO of Groupon, in 2010 and Jeffrey Housenhold the CEO of Shutterfly, who joined Caesar’s Entertainment in 2011

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Why You Need to Stop Doing “Influencer Marketing!”


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Brian Solis knows what he is talking about. He’s written the book on this one.

What are his thoughts on influencer marketing?

  • “Influence 2.0 is asking the audience to become far more strategic, thoughtful and also pioneering in how we modernize influencer marketing to be value-added throughout the entire organization,” says Solis.
  • So for the brands interested in, or still experimenting with, influencer marketing, Solis offers one piece of advice: “Stop doing ‘influencer marketing’ and look at ways to add value to influencers and the people they reach. Everybody should get something out of an influencer marketing program: the audience, the influencer and the brand.”
  • What must we stop doing? “As an influencer marketer, this means that you must: stop applying marketing first principles, stop being wowed by the fact that you may get to interact a celebrity, stop misunderstanding the word influence, and start thinking differently about the way you approach influencer marketing. Only then can you begin constructing an influencer marketing strategy that generates value for your brand, your influencer and your customers.”
  • What are the right questions to ask? “Are you asking the right questions related to how to leverage influencers? If so, you could be the face of the next generation of marketers Solis is pleading for with his report.”

Source: Why You Need to Stop Doing “Influencer Marketing!” |

The New Executive Mindset: Intervention, not Transformation



Transformation vs. intervention is a great issue to look at. I hear a lot of advocates for transformation.

“CEOs, Boards and shareholders demand innovative technology solutions to maintain and increase the organization’s market competitiveness in the digital experience world. The question is how to best deliver these solutions.”

  • Where should we focus? “This is where we must consider the material question of whether to transform or intervene.”
  • What is the cost of transformation? “If we go with transformation, we will apply material time and effort to developing, building and delivering a solution.”  The reality is that transformation might be cost prohibitive in terms of people and money.
  • Is intervention the solution? “But if we embrace an interventionist approach, the organizational transformation time burden can be reduced to deliver a faster solution, thus mitigating the delivery time-to-value ratio.”

Source: The New Executive Mindset: Intervention, not Transformation | Strategy CIO

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What data should we collect to create amazing customer experiences?


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360 Customer View

360 Customer View

We probably shouldn’t try to collect everything. We also should be collecting the “right” data. We should consider enhancing the data we collect to make it more valuable. Several suggested priorities are all online transaction detail and insight, most offline transaction detail and insight, social media data and insights and finally, call center transactions and insights.

There has been a lot said and written about the 360 degree view of the customer. A quick Google search will bring up 13.7 million results. Many in favor and some questioning the strategy.

I believe customer data is important. One thing to think about, however, is how much data do you need to know to make actionable decisions? Perhaps more than you have and perhaps less than you plan to gather which could be holding you back from acting today.

Most of us have a ton of online data. It is easy to gather and relatively inexpensive to integrate. That said, many of us have no to very little offline data. Another gap can also be unstructured data.

A core question is how important is a 360 degree view anyway? No human can see 360 degrees. Here is something interesting to think about.

“To draw an analogy from the physical realm, out of 360 potential degrees, what’s our actual field of vision? Approximately a 120-degree arc. But even most of that is peripheral. In fact, when it comes to seeing in high resolution — say for reading purposes — our actual field of view is only about 6 degrees.

“What happens if something important happens in our peripheral vision? We move our eyes to look at it. In other words, we’re not primed to look at everything at once. Rather, we focus on the essentials and filter out the rest so we don’t experience information overload.”

Source: The Cloud Sherpa

In thinking about data integration, it will be helpful to suspend any discussion of what data can we integrate. Any data can be integrated. The real issue is what results you want for your business and what data do you need to improve the customer experience. From a planning point of view it is helpful to start with the end in mind and not the details of how we integrate everything. It is critical to know what data will give you actionable insight.

Customers are using many channels to engage with your company. They expect a seamless experience across those channels. At a core level, that will involve collecting and integrating the data that customers expect to see across those channels. The important issue to think through is what does the customer expect you to know about what they have told on the mobile app and what you know about them when they make a purchase. It is all about the customer expectation.

If you ask for information from a customer and they are willing to give it to you, then they probably expect that you will use it across channels to create a seamless experience. Customers also expect that you remember them. They get very upset when you don’t. They love you when you do. Know and remember is key to service.

Alert!! Do you have a privacy policy? Is it up to date? How good is your data security? Has someone independent from your technical team assessed risks in your customer data security? Not having a budget to look at this is a high risk. The damage to your credibility is at stake.

Ask yourself:

  1. Do you need a deeper understanding of customer sentiment from both internal and external sources?
  2. Do you want to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction by understanding what meaningful actions are needed?
  3. Are you challenged to get the right information to the right people to provide customers what they need to solve problems, cross-sell, and up-sell?

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start simple and don’t get carried away with all the possibilities.
  2. Begin creating a strategy now.
  3. Encourage collaboration and create a team to “oversee” your efforts.
  4. Decide, up front, what data is worth
  5. Commit to not collecting everything and be ok with that.
  6. Focus on key channels like online, offline checks / credit card transactions, and direct response.
  7. Create a data value framework to help set priorities.
  8. Pay attention to privacy and security. Your reputation is at stake.

Unified data and a unified experience is supported by an Omni-Channel approach


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Omni ChannelUnified data and a unified experience is supported by an Omni-Channel approach. Omni-channel creates a unified approach seamlessly across channels all of your channels like direct marketing, advertising, sales, digital like the web /  mobile and customer service (call center). All channels need to be fused into a single approach.

At its core, Omni-channel is about the customer and being obsessed with the experience they have with you. Any thing that is disjointed will throw them off. The focus here is on seamless and consistency.

Many times, off line is forgotten about in this approach. It may be first thing you want to tackle. How can your off line marketing support your online approach and vice versa? Are you spurring engagement with your company? Are you creating evangelist for your products and services?

Your customers are now interacting with you in many ways. They may see your ad at night on TV. They may search for you on the web in the morning on a desk top before leaving for work. They may go to your site during the day on a smartphone or tablet while on the go during the day. While on Facebook, they may look for your page. They may search Twitter to see what others are saying about you.  Do they experience the same thing in all those interactions?

A great example of this approach is Progressive Insurance. Check out their web site and see if you don’t recognize the approach.

Because their journey is dynamic, accessible and continuous, today’s customers increasingly expect a seamless, integrated, consistent and personalized experience with their service providers which current multi-channel models—with their multiple silos of customer contact—are unable to provide. Instead, a fully integrated response to these new customer requirements will need to be both customer-driven and omni-channel in nature.

Source: Accenture: The new Omni-Channel Approach to Serving Customers

Here are some important things to know about the complexity of the connected customer.

  1. They are more knowledgeable than you may think. It is just too easy to search and research a company.
  2. Customers are becoming very demanding. Customers are under a crunch and value convenience highly.
  3. Customers are very empowered. They can easily find an alternative to what you are offering and don’t hesitate to if they aren’t engaged with you.
  4. Customers are increasingly social and collaborative in their approach.
  5. Customers are extremely diverse and may not fit your traditional market segments.
  6. Customers are very interactive in their approach. They may ask you a question on Facebook or Twitter and actually expect you will answer very fast.
  7. Customers on the go and mobile is very important to them. They may consume your content and purchase your services anytime / anywhere.

You might think that this sounds very difficult. There are of course some major challenges. But take a very difficult challenge of retail. How would you approach this? These examples may be helpful in seeing how it can be done in a very difficult industry. Check out these five:

  1. Crate & Barrel – The company recognizes that many shoppers switch from web to smartphone to tablet when conducting research and completing purchases, so when customers are signed in, the C&B app saves their shopping cart so they can access their information across multiple devices and browsers. This enables them to pick up where they left off no matter where they are in the shopping process.
  2. Oasis – UK fashion retailer Oasis has an ecommerce site, a mobile app, and several brick-and-mortar locations and it does a pretty good job in fusing those channels to give people a great shopping experience.
  3. Starbucks – The Starbucks rewards app is frequently mentioned in “top” lists of omnichannel efforts and for good reason: the coffee company does an excellent job in providing a seamless user experience across all channels.
  4. Sephora – Through its “My Beauty Bag” program, cosmetics retailer Sephora makes it easy for its loyal customers to manage their “loved” products and purchase history from any device.
  5. Chipotle – Chipotle Mexican Grill is utilizing multiple channels to enable customers to place orders wherever they are. People can place an order online for pick-up at the nearest Chipotle location, and they can also use its official mobile app to order on the go.

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with understanding what omni-channel means your customer.
  2. Create the strategy to integrate your approach for all channels.
  3. Identify gaps and easy / quick fixes.
  4. Begin with a few simple but quickly executable initiatives. Don’t try to rebuild everything.
  5. Form an Omni-channel engagement team to discuss how to get traction and be ambassadors for the approach.
  6. Encourage offline and online integration quickly.
  7. Don’t forget about your customer service (call center) operations.
  8. Create an integrated content calendar and re-purpose content across channels.

Humanizing Digital Interactions model


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Here are some highlights from a recent Temkin Group Report:

  • They developed The Human Conversational Model, which is made up of seven elements – Intent Decoding, Contextual Framing, Empathetic Agility, Supportive Feedback, Basic Manners, Self-Awareness, and Emotional Reflection.
  • Share over 35 examples of best practices from companies that are designing digital experiences across the seven elements of The Human Conversational Model.
  • Demonstrate how you could apply The Human Conversational Model to three types of digital activities: opening a new bank account online, purchasing a pair of shoes through an app, and getting technical support online.

According to Temkin, a gratifying conversation requires two processes:

  • Cooperative Interface. Each participant is required to collaborate with her partner to achieve the shared goal of the conversation – be that casually catching up, gathering information, sharing knowledge, etc. This is the part of the model that a conversational partner sees and responds to, and it consists of five elements: contextual framing, intent decoding, empathetic agility, supportive feedback, and basic manners.
  • Background Mindfulness. This portion of the model is not observable within what would normally be considered the scope of the conservation as it pertains to what happens internally within person. Each participant has a pre-existing notion of who he is as an individual (self-awareness) and throughout the course of the conversation, learns about how he affects other people (emotional reflection). Though not directly observable, “background mindfulness” informs the way in which each participant communicates with his current and future partners.

Source: Report: Humanizing Digital Interactions – Customer Experience Matters®

Why The Best CEO’s Invest in Customer Experience


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Customer experience is a hot topic for companies of all sizes and industries.

Here is a compilation video for you to hear what Steve Jobs (Apple), Richard Branson (Virgin), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Tony Hsieh (Zappos), Gary Vaynerchuk (VaynerMedia) and Herb Kelleher (Southwest Airlines) have to say about customer and employee experience.


This is an ecosystem built for data, insight and action


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Resist the temptation to focus and organize around silos. While silos can maximize a part of the system, they sub-optimize the whole. We are building a customer (digital) ecosystem.

There is something as “not seeing the forest for the trees”. In the case of data (including big data), that can certainly be the case. It is easy to get lost in the data. It is important to see data as a way to gain customer insight. Having gained insight, we must take action to improve results for our customers and business.

The digital executive needs to evaluate whether the department silos are structured properly as a part of the overall ecosystem. One area to look at is what is the overall level of accountability around supporting the total results (including renewal and upgrades) from customer experiences and relationships. Structural change may be needed to support optimal results.

In scientific terms, an ecosystem is formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their environment. The ecosystem has multiple, interdependent components that function as a unit. Innovators have long envisioned a similar environment where data, technology, people, and business processes operate in synchronization to improve customer satisfaction and business performance. The key to achieving this vision is having the capacity to discern the true nature of customer relationships in an intuitive manner. This capacity is known as “customer insight.”

The concept of the customer data ecosystem can be further broken down into two key aspects: the Customer Lifecycle, and the Information Lifecycle.

Below is an example from Forrester Research of how an ecosystem could look.

Forrester Ecosystem

In the customer ecosystem, there are several components that are important.

  1. The value of data
    1. Customer interaction data
    2. Contact and account data
    3. Customer information files
    4. External data
  2. Turning data into insight
  3. Turning insight into action

Integrated customer data forms the cornerstone of the customer ecosystem. Organizations have rich sources of data including customer interaction data, account data, external data sources, and customer information files. This data must be cleaned and properly linked together as fast as the data becomes available.

Digital Business Ecosystem

Digital Business Ecosystem

Individual data elements provide undeniable value in the ecosystem. Integrated data provides even greater value. However, integrating customer data is far from an easy task. Disparate systems and errors in the data typically prevent all of the data from being used by analytical processes. To turn all of this data into insight, sophisticated technologies and techniques are needed to clean the data, discover hidden relationships, and integrate it. This integrated view must then be fed into analytical models to discover and predict patterns in customer behavior. This deep insight into a customer services help organizations fully understand customer profitability, attrition, and retention.

Providing insight, however, is only one part of the solution. This insight must be turned into action to achieve real benefits. Two best practices have emerged in a customer relations focus: dashboards and scorecards.

Dashboards provide a quick way to get an immediate picture of business processes. Similar to a dashboard in a car, data is displayed in an intuitive manner that allows employees to see how the processes that they are responsible for are working. In the customer ecosystem, a dashboard contains multiple information displays that show how customer processes are working.

Scorecards are a vital part of the dashboard display that show specific measurements, also known as key performance indicators (KPIs), for a specific employee role. Unlike financial condition ratios reported to the Board and the IRS, KPIs always reflect strategic value drivers. For example, Return on Investment or functional expenses are common metrics used to judge financial performance, but it doesn’t measure a specific driver of value.

For the customer ecosystem, a KPI measuring the average value of a new customer reflects a strategic objective of acquiring more profitable customers.

In order to drive the right behaviors in the ecosystem, these mechanisms must be part of the daily job role for customer-focused employees. That is, insight must be “in sight” of people in day-to-day operational roles. Therefore these capabilities must be quick and easy to use.

In the business world, there is an old saying that “what gets measured gets done.” Dashboards and scorecards also provide a strong way to clearly communicate business strategy and objectives across the enterprise.

When viewing a report, graph, or KPI, people often need to understand why a specific number is different from what they expect. For insight to be truly “actionable”, a user must be able to drill down into the details. This process is typically called “Root Cause Analysis” because the user must get to the “root” of the problem. For example, if the KPI Average Value of New Customers is lower than expected, the user needs to be able to look beyond the KPI to the underlying data.

Insight Ecosystem

Insight Ecosystem

Here are the key ideas:

  1. Start with the view of “the forest”.
  2. Begin with simple integrations of valuable data to create insight.
  3. Encourage taking action on insights. Structure everything around actionable outcomes of data and the insights.

Digital Transformation at Organizations – Connecting Boardroom objectives to IT re-platforming


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Transformation is all the rage. The Board of Directors is probably interested.

Connecting Boardroom objectives to IT re-platforming is essential.

This video explores and identifies the connected themes across business and IT decision makers while collating the big picture on how digital transformations need to be all-inclusive across functions in organizations.


“We have a strategic plan. It’s called ‘doing things.’ ” ~~Herb Kelleher


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I don’t think I would advocate not having a strategic plan but they probably could be simpler than we make most of them. Regardless of what you call it, the focus should be on getting something done, on doing things. The focus should be execution.

In the world of business technology, speed is huge. Executing is huge. Results reign supreme. Experiments are the norm.

I ought to obsess about the customer and sweat the details about executing what helps them. We should keep moving and never stop thinking of what the customer experience is like. No stone should be left unturned in my  pursuit of amazing customer service. It is in fact the small courtesies that create an emotional connection to our products and services.

  • Is every contact with us memorable?
  • Did we add value?
  • Are we doing it?
  • Are we getting it done today?

We have a strategic plan. It’s called ‘doing things.” —Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines CEO and Founder

Am I more powerful than I think?


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And so … Seth’s wisdom is always helpful.

“You are more powerful than you think
It’s bigger than you
Leaders are made, not born
Leveling up is a choice
They say you can’t, we know you can
Dance with fear
See, assert, change
Overwhelmed is temporary
Out loud, in public
Hard work is far better than busy work
The crowd is wrong. The critics are wrong. Useful feedback is precious…
Management matters. So does leadership…
“Here, I made this.” Or possibly, “Here, we made this.”
See the end before you begin the journey
Culture defeats everything
It’s personal” ~Seth Godin

Source: Seth’s Blog: You are more powerful than you think

Unifying Online & Offline Customer Data for a Consistent Experience


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Unify Data - Convergence Ahead

Unify Data – Convergence Ahead

The challenge of creating meaningful relationships is complicated by an abundance of data from both online and offline sources, as well as a multitude of communication channels to contend with.

A big issue is how to consolidate customer information to drive consistent communications across channels. By taking a unified approach, marketers can better shape interactions with their organization to create outstanding customer experiences.

What should we think through?

  1. How to collect and manage online and offline data in order to truly understand our customers
  2. Why a unified experience is essential for growth
  3. Common inconsistencies and gaps in the customer experience, and how to handle them
  4. How to use data to track customer interactions, and use this information to improve communications across multiple channels

Here are the key ideas:

  1. This is an ecosystem built for data, insight and action – Resist the temptation to focus and organize around silos. While silos can maximize a part of the system, they sub-optimize the whole. We are building a customer (digital) ecosystem.
  2. What we should collect – We probably shouldn’t try to collect everything. We also should be collecting the “right” data. We should consider enhancing the data we collect to make it more valuable. Several suggested priorities are all online transaction detail and insight, most offline transaction detail and insight, social media data and insights and finally, call center transactions and insights.
  3. The value of offline data – Not all data is as valuable as others. The human resources to manually enter offline data can be daunting and so many times it is the last priority. There are great services that automate the collection of offline data at a reasonable cost. The first step in the automation process is to create a data value strategy. That will help justify the cost of capturing the offline data and integrating it into your customer systems.
  4. Understanding the customer – Data is very useful if it allows us to understand our customers better. Collecting data is of no value if it doesn’t lead to insight. Think data, insight and action.
  5. Unifying the data – Even 2 pieces of unified data is more powerful than one. Having a plan for the most valuable sources and at least integrating some of the data will move insight ahead.
  6. Unifying the experience – This is not all about data. At the end of the day, customers will expect a great (unified) experience across multiple channels.
  7. Doing something about the gaps – Knowing you have a gap in the data and the experience is one thing. Doing something that improves the experience is another. Insight is very useful but it must lead to action.
  8. Creating a value framework – Not all data is of equal value and not every customer is either. Part of the framework that leads from insight to action is understanding which customers are of more value and those that will lead to greater levels of renewal.
  9. An “Omni-Channel” approach – Unified data and a unified experience is created by an Omni-Channel approach. Omni-Channel creates a unified approach seamlessly across channels. All channels need to be fused into a single approach.

Employees will provide an amazing customer experience. What should I focus on today?


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When it comes to the customer experience, it is important to think through very carefully what will employees actually do. It is my job, as a leader, to know how to have the most engaged employees possible. No on else can do that for me.

  • What is measured about the customer experience, will get done. I have to make sure that I am measuring the right thing. What is the one thing that will make a difference in the customer experience? Do I know? Am I measuring it?
  • What is incented will get done. Incentives can include compensation but should not do so exclusively.
  • What wins are we celebrating? What I spend time celebrating with employees is important. Everyone will pay attention.

So don’t blame people, change their environment. I can do that no matter what level I am in the organization.

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What is the (ROI) return on the investment in the stunning?


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Return on Investment

Return on Investment

There comes a time where we have to make a decision. What will we invest in? It is a serious question and not a budget exercise. If we are going to be intentional and proactive, we need to make an investment. At first that may be just our time as a digital executive.

Eventually it will be about people, our processes, our strategies and our technology. If we don’t become intentional in our approach to our digital customer experiences we will continue to be haphazard in our approach; reacting, responding, solving toxic experiences in real time. This intention however must be about heartfelt experiences. It must create a passion for our mission as a digital business.

Here are the key ideas:

  • There is a difference in the mediocre / ho hum experience and the stunning. Begin to believe in the amazing. If inspires you it will inspire your customers.
  • Decide you are going to decide. Not seeing you have alternatives can create inertia that can undermine progress.
  • Reacting to customer pain points is a “net zero” game. It stops the bleeding but doesn’t improve your health. You do need to stop the bleeding however. It can’t be ignored.
  • Having stopped the bleeding if you need to, start investing in the stunning. It is one thing to prevent a problem, it is another to improve your wellbeing.
  • In considering your investment in the amazing, test your alternatives to help make the decision.

There is of course, a very real cost to reacting. Scrutinize your budget and you will see that most of our fixed expenses are reactionary. What if we invested in proactive and intentional experiences of the heart up front? Could we radically reduce our reactionary and bloated fixed expenses? In fact, my guess is the reactionary expenses vastly exceed proactive expenses. I know companies that are ramping up their expenses in reactionary engagement and relationships. The good news is that they are succeeding in shifting the negative to neutral or even the positive.

So what is the outcome of taking a negative and balancing it with a positive? Is it engagement or damage control?

So what is the cost and value of neutralizing the negative? Shouldn’t we start with the amazing?

What is the return on that investment in the stunning?

What is probably most concerning is that most of use are not measuring much of this. And why are we struggling to generate more sales? Now think about that question. Why is our revenue flat? Why are customers not engaged and renewing?

Is the experience we are creating wonderfully sharable? If not, what is our investment over the next 3 months going to be in changing that? We must invest in not only a positive experience but an experience that screams out for our customer and clients to share it with everyone they know. That encourages others to join in. It also offsets any negative experiences anyone else has shared. Think about it. We all read the ratings and comments. If there are 100 over the top ones we can ignore the one that is virally negative writing it off to a weirdo.

What is the biggest deal? Trying to offset the negative experiences or proactively creating amazing ones? Creating amazing ones is everything. That is not an exaggeration. You know, from your own experiences, that it is true. The cost of reacting is always eclipsed by the upside of the stunning.

Think of what you want. You are a consumer. You are the customer who wants something from your company you are doing business with. Are you looking for the ordinary? No, you are looking for an experience, no, the experience.

Any company that recognizes you, remembers you, and gives you an amazing service experience will win your heart. And it is all about your heart. You will be loyal to them no matter what. That is what we know as relevance. A passion of our heart that transcends anything else. What would the answer be if you asked you customers the following question: Can you imagine the world without (XYZ Company)? On a scale of 1 to 10, what would your average rating be?

And so, that heartfelt experience is not just a so-so something. That heartfelt, amazing experience, is everything. That kind of vision is the father of innovation. Who needs the mother of invention in that kind of world?

You have a number of alternatives before you as a digital executive. Which will you choose? One filter should be which of the experiences will create an emotional connection. Have you factored that into your decision analysis? You can actually measure the difference in terms of engagement. Does one alternative improve engagement or not? Some level of rigor in measuring the results will help.

There are constraints in terms of investments. Consider small tests with some level of “A-B” spilt analysis. “A-B’ tests are not just for the marketing department.

Why Customer Experiences should be intentional


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Intentional Customer Experience

Intentional Customer Experience

As a digital executive, design is important. What is being sold is important but the experience the customer has in buying it has become critical.

What does the future of your business look like? Is it focused on your mission AND design?

Here are the key ideas:

  • Customer experiences need to be intentionally designed.
  • Customers aren’t satisfied with the ordinary and expect more.
  • Measuring customer experiences gives benchmarks for how we are doing.
  • Creating an intentional focus that also frames out what things to stop is transformative.

Digital business transformation is all about being intentional about the experiences your customers are having.

How many products and services do you have? How many channels (Web, Social, Mobile, Call Center, Direct Mail, etc.) are you focused on? Do they all have a unified design and experience?

Mission + Design = Intentional experiences

We are clear about our mission. Are we clear about our design?

If not, we aren’t ready to be the digital executive of the future. If we aren’t ready to be a digital executive, we aren’t ready for the future. If we aren’t ready for the future, will we have a relevant job 5 to 10 years from now? Tough questions I know but worth considering.

So here are a couple more of intriguing questions:

  1. How do we ensure that our customers are having an amazing experience?
  2. Why make customers cope with the ordinary?
  3. Why aren’t customers more engaged with both your mission and revenue opportunities?

Our focus and day to day work should be about creating  amazing “customer experiences” in this new age of consumerism. What is going on in the rest of the world isn’t lost on your customers. They are judging you based on those experiences. We can bury our head in the sand. That will only get us left behind. Our credibility as an executive is at stake.

What should we focus on? What is amazing? There is actually some simplicity to it and it can be measured.

  1. How enjoyable are we to do business with?
  2. How easy are we to do business with?
  3. How effective are we at meeting customer needs?

Consumers expect more from businesses more than ever before. So our products and services have a level of expectation that our business may not be aware of. How does the experience your customers are having compare to USAA for example? Do you know?

Here is the harsh reality. Customers not only expect better experiences, they believe they are absolutely entitled to them. Will we be intentional in delivering on those expectations? Are we ready to get left behind with stagnant growth if we don’t deliver those experiences? We may not be ready for that but it may already be happening. I encourage you to think about it. It is a good question to ponder.

There is a unique opportunity to create amazing and positive experiences at our stores, on the web, at your call center (if you have one), on smart phones and in our direct mail pieces. Are all of those unified? Is the experience amazing?

That amazing or ordinary (or perhaps even bad) experience will be how your business is measured in terms of satisfaction or even our revenue success. Do you know how your customers feel about the experience they are having with your company? If not, why not? Are you being intentional about that experience they just had at your store? Is it consistent with the experience they want on your web site?

As an executive, you have an amazing opportunity to lead the charge regardless of your role. If you do, you will be a hero. To focus on what needs to be improved, the current experiences need to be measured so changes can be proven to make a difference.

Designing and unifying customer experiences will require skillsets that may not exist today. Deciding what else that is being done today that can be stopped so that staff can focus on design, experience mapping and unification efforts will require focus. The constraints of time and money will be important to address early in the transformation efforts.


“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing.” ~~Guy Kawasaki -Apple


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Do you have a strong inbound marketing program? Are you devoting more resources to it than last year?

If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.” Guy Kawasaki, former Apple evangelist and co-founder of Source: Making a Case for Inbound Marketing.

  • According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing report, one-third of marketing budgets are being allocated to inbound tactics.
  • The report shows that almost half of marketers were planning to increase their inbound marketing spending
  • HubSpot noting this was the third consecutive year that inbound budgets were increasing at a close to 50 percent pace.

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Our customers are empowered and we can’t control that


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Customer Empowerment

Customer Empowerment

Consumers are absolutely empowered through technology now. That means your customers are as well. It has happened and it is a fact. We can’t control that. Sorry to point that out but that is our starting reality.

Here are the key ideas:

  • Customers are in control of defining the experience and will communicate it whether it is good, bad or ugly.
  • You need a monitoring system or command center to stay on top of it, identify the root causes and fix them. Service breakdowns can’t be ignore. They won’t go away on their own. We need to identify them, report them up to senior executives and create a plan to fix the persistent ones.
  • We should define an amazing experience for them and make sure that all touch points that define that journey are aligned to deliver that experience.
  • Develop a continuous improvement process to take improvements to the next level on a regular basis. The average may be your next target but that isn’t the end game.

Our customers are empowered. They know it. Do we?

They know they have influence. Do we know they have influence?

Our customers know they have a voice that is powerful. They know they have more power than ever before. Do we know that they do and do we act like it?

If you are  a member of the C-Suite or executive team, did you receive a report today alerting you to what your customers or clients said about you on Facebook, your call center, Twitter, YouTube, Tumbler, Blogs, Pinterest, etc. (the list is ever evolving). Do you receive it every day? Do you get weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual summaries? Have you engaged with any of them personally yourself? If not, it is a reasonable question why that isn’t important to you?

Even if we aren’t seeing it, other customers (or potential customers) are seeing what is going on. They are forming an opinion of us based on those comments. We can’t control what is being said. We can control how we will react in real time about it. We can control changing the experience in the future.

Say a customer has a bad experience on your web site and they tweet about it. Do we think others have had the same experience and haven’t said anything? You bet they have. Do we think others will find the same thing and either say something or not in the future? Yes they will find it and yes they will say something or not.

There is no hiding. If there is one horrible review out there, they will find it and not the 100 positive things others have said about us.

Companies are beginning to listen to what is being said on social media and respond to it if they can. It does require a commitment of resources but it is not going away. More and more customers (or potential customers) are going to share the good, the bad and the ugly about their experience with us.

Have you started to shift resources into engaging on social platforms? How does that compare to your investment in your call center? Is your call center and social media center integrated in the approach you want your customers to have? We have to manage our online reputation.

What are our customers going to align with if we don’t first define the experience up front? What do we want them to be a part of? Now is the time to invest more in the experience rather than improve how the sales transaction occurs. Our future as executives is in creating programs that scream out in splendor. It is about experiences that kindle meaningful and sincere interactions at every turn. At the center of our evolution (or is it a revolution) is the experience. The experience is everything now.