What is the Most Important Contact Center Metric?

metrics2I presented at the ICMI CC Expo last month in Long Beach. It’s always a great conference, and I look forward to it each year.

In the afternoon after my journey mapping workshop I attended a Justin Robbin’s session on metrics. Justin began by asking attendees the most important metric they tracked.

Think about it for a minute. Of everything you look at, which is the single most important item?

The first respondent said, “ASA [Average Speed to Answer],” whereas another followed up with “productivity.” This was followed by “response time,” “commission” and “occupancy.”

Do any of these resonate with you? If so, then you need to rethink your approach. Read more


CX is team sport. Is your whole team playing?

199073871_f559db9436_bYou wouldn’t play soccer without your forwards. You’d never try basketball without guards. So why do so many teams try to win at CX with only a partial team?

At HoC we’ve had the amazing opportunity to work with all kinds of companies: non-profits, retailers, insurance companies, you name it. The one consistency is a tendency to under-invite teams critical to success.

Three specific groups are often left out – IT, HR and those who “don’t get it.”

Let’s start with IT.  I get it. As a former IT leader, I can say we’re not always the most fun to partner with. We can get defensive, or we start “solutioning” before we’ve heard from customers. Read more


Guest Post: We Hold These Truths: Implementing CX Governance

1JFMNQLRE8This guest post comes from Darin Byrne, Senior Director of Professional Services at Wolters Kluwer.

As the summer goes on and the Fourth of July approaches, I’ve found myself thinking once again about the principles that our nation was founded upon. I am reminded that the signing of a document, even one as revered as the Declaration of Independence, was such a decisive point in our history – actually in the history of the world. And I’ve been pondering even more broadly about all of our governing documents, from the Magna Carta to the Constitution: how they came about and how they still affect us today. We agreed amongst ourselves what our goals were, how we would operate as a country, the checks and balances we would put in place to achieve our goals, and then we wrote them down and implemented them, and – even more amazing – we continue to adhere to them today. It really is pretty amazing.

And that, of course, got me thinking about what I do every day. Because, much as we might like it to be true, a bunch of people don’t just show up to work and decide individually what they’re going to do all day—we need guidance in the way of a set of goals and principles. And while a so-called “benevolent dictator” might rule in some companies, the truth is that this is not a sustainable model for a business. In order to achieve your company goals, you have to have guiding principles, an overriding plan, and people to maintain and carry out that plan—that is, governance. Read more

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Creating a “Heart-Wired” organization – an interview with Chrisie Scott, VP Marketing at Meridian Health

CAS headshotWhile all customer experience strategies are important, healthcare brings it to a whole new level. Patient experience, and the potential for harm, amps up the significance of customer experience principles, creating literally life-changing outcomes.

That’s why I really enjoyed working with Chrisie Scott, VP Marketing at Meridian Health, a leading and still growing integrated health network in New Jersey. Our work with them will be published as a case study in the forthcoming book Mapping Experiences. After our project I had the chance to interview Chrisie about her organization’s overall approach to customer experience.

She begins by contending that patient or customer experience isn’t so much what you do, but more about who you are and what you value as an organization.  At Meridian, they take a comprehensive approach to experience, collaborating across the organization to create consistent expectations and improvement. “Marketing, nursing, HR, operations, guest relations, and quality are coming together so that our ideas and initiatives are note created in silos,” Chrisie explains. “We’re changing how we approach patients and families and viewing those we serve as true partners. This view is helping us humanize the experience.” This core philosophy influences how Meridian recruits for talent and takes care of team members, how they set expectations for how team members treat and interact with each other, how they respond to consumer inquiries, and how they support front line caregivers who take care of the ultimate customers — patients. Read more

A bad customer experience is like an Iowa radio station

When I was a kid, my rural Iowa hometown got a new radio station. It wanted to be a radio station for everybody, so it would play one song from the eighties, then one from the seventies, the sixties, and so on. The theory was clear: if you play something for everyone, everyone will be happy.

Of course, in the real world, that theory doesn’t actually work. Instead of pleasing everyone, the radio station didn’t make anyone happy. If you’re looking for Electric Avenue, you won’t love it when Sugar Sugar comes on. Whether you prefer modern hits or oldie classics, you’re sure to be disappointed quickly. Like my hometown radio station, pleasing everyone will just frustrate your customers. Read more

John Deere Presentation

John Deere – not your father’s tractor company

John Deere PresentationI was interested in seeing Erin Wallace’s presentation at last week’s CXPA Insights Exchange, but I had no idea just how cool it would be. Her presentation was titled “Easier Said than Done: Move the Needle with Your Customer Experience Strategy,” and showed a very comprehensive approach towards customer experience that we can all learn from.

When I work with clients, I tell them there are 3+2 areas you need to focus on to develop a world-class customer experience program. The first three are an identified leader, as shared vision and governance. Erin nailed all three. She’s obviously the leader of the effort, so didn’t spend a lot of time there. But the strategy and governance were critical.

One difference between John Deere and many companies is their longevity. They’re not just out to win your loyalty today – they want to win your grandchildren’s loyalty. Erin quickly summed up this strategy when she said, “Our goal is to earn customers for generations.” They clearly didn’t just take an Amazon or Zappos strategy and go with it – this is unique to John Deere, and this strategy is critical to their entire program.  Read more


How Wolters Kluwer Financial Services builds a great B2B customer experience – an interview with interim president Pete Koehn

KOEHN_WebsiteImagine a former accountant leading an organization that helps banks manage regulatory compliance.  You might picture a reliance on financial facts and figures making it unlikely for a customer experience program to take root. If so, then you clearly haven’t spent any time with Wolters Kluwer Financial Services.

Pete Koehn is interim president of Wolters Kluwer Financial Services’ Risk, Originations and Compliance business unit. Prior to this position, he served in both finance and operations. But both led him to appreciate the role of engaged customers and employees, and of their dual role in driving results.

Wolters Kluwer Financial Services has been growing rapidly, with some of that growth through acquisition. Shortly after Pete stepped into his current role, his Senior Director of Professional Services Darin Byrne approached him about how customer experience practices could help alleviate any customer service disruptions, while paving the way for even greater growth.

His initial response?  “My immediate question was, ‘Is this a real discipline?’

Darin, a CXPA member, assured him it was, sharing maturity models and best practices, and Pete quickly bought in. Since that time, “We’ve used customer experience as a mantra – let’s understand the voice of the customer. With customer experience in mind, we’ve made changes that have really helped us with this overarching idea of getting our business to act as one.”

Three of those key changes they’ve made are in the area of structure, governance, and culture. Read more


Dan Arielly nails customer empathy

RadarI’m a big fan of Prof. Arielly’s work, such as the book Predictably Irrational, and subscribe to his weekly Q&A.  His response to a question this week offers great advice to us in CX who are trying to create customer empathy.

Dear Dan,

I’m an air-traffic controller at a large airport. I don’t work in the tower but in a remote radar facility about 30 miles away, handling traffic within 50 miles of the airport. As a radar controller, everything is completely abstract. Would being able to actually see the planes I am guiding take off and land generate greater job satisfaction than just seeing targets on a screen?


Probably. In many different domains (including moral judgment and empathy), when we present information in increasingly abstract ways, emotions get suppressed, and we care less. So if you plan to stay in this type of job for a while, moving to a tower might well boost your motivation.

But even if you stay put, other changes might increase the perceived meaning of your labor. What if your screen showed how many passengers were on each plane? What if, at landing time, you were told that they were all healthy? What if you were shown some pictures of the people waiting for them at the airport? With such changes, the information you have about the passengers in your care would be more than just a dot, and both your caring and your motivation should increase.

One of the biggest problems we face in customer experience is when employees become disconnected from customers.  I’ve worked in a division before where nobody in product management or marketing had ever met a client, and we had demonstrably the worst customer experience in the marketplace, leading the industry in cancellation rates.

Take his advice to heart – how can you continually share the impact with your employees, turning your customers into human beings, rather than dots on a screen?



What really matters in patient experience?

patientTransactional surveys are risky. With so much riding on them, there’s too much temptation to game the system – not just by front-line employees, but by managers as well.

But healthcare brings it to a whole new level. As a part of the Affordable Care Act, hospitals are judged on standardized patient experience scores (called HCAHPS, or Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), with low scores having significant financial implications. And it’s really impacting healthcare – particularly those organizations with lower scores.

The reactions are interesting to watch. This article is clearly in the anti-survey camp, and it’s over the top.  As one of my clients said, “I’ve heard this over the years, but it was surprising to see it in print.”  Apparently, hospitals have to decide between letting people sleep at night and letting them get infections! One interviewee grudgingly admits that patient experience isn’t completely worthless.

This is a better article, from The Atlantic Journal, forwarded by another client. While it’s still a bit over the top (“Patients can be very satisfied and dead an hour later,”) it does suggest that some hospital leaders are gaming the system. This introduces some lessons for all of us. Read more