Eight Ways to Build Customer Empathy

workplace-1245776_640Customer empathy is absolutely critical to a company-focused culture. Without empathy, employees focus on their own problems, rather than your customers’. They build overly-complex products based on what they want to buy, rather than starting with customer needs. And they certainly don’t understand the emotional context of your customers.

Both Forrester and the Temkin Group have begun focusing much more on the emotional elements of an experience, which is spot-on. Emotions are the greatest driver of loyalty – and of disloyalty.  And you can’t solve them without empathy.

Here are eight ways to help build empathy in your company. Add your own in the comments! Read more


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


You can’t teach employees to care

pexels-photo-29594I was presenting at a healthcare conference on the importance of managing your in-clinic experience. In the Q&A session an attendee asked, “How important is hiring versus training? If you have a front-office person who isn’t that friendly, how can you teach her to be nicer?”

It’s a great question, and one that isn’t asked nearly often enough. The front desk is critical to establishing trust in your clinic. New patients really have no idea as to how effective the clinician is. Sure, they can see the diplomas on the wall. But it’s the office – and particularly the friendliness of the front-office personnel – who help the patient decide whether or not to trust their provider.

(There’s an old joke out there. What do they call the student at the bottom of the graduating class at Harvard Medical School? Doctor.)

The front office staff provides that assurance that new patients made the right choice. A brusque person – even if he or she is really good in other parts of the business – destroys this confidence. A clinic’s perceived abilities rise or fall depending on that front-desk person. Which is why they’re sometimes called “Director of First Impressions.” Read more


Why Agent Coaching is the Key to Customer Loyalty

Agent-Coaching-Depositphotos_44165767_sMichael Jordan had Phil Jackson. Walter Payton had Mike Ditka.  Look at any great athlete, and you probably see a great coach.  But it’s not just athletes.

Former CEO Brad Anderson used multiple coaches as he drove Best Buy to new heights. According to a 2013 study by the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Standford Graduate School for Business, over half of corporate senior executives are receiving some form of coaching.  Yet, it’s unfortunately all too rare for the people who directly impact your customer loyalty – your call center agents.

Now, of course managers will “coach” their teams on how to improve. But all too often these managers were taking calls themselves not that long ago.  And nobody really taught them how to be a coach.  For some organizations, it’s easier to create a training program than to try to turn their managers into coaches. Read more

woman on phone

Remember, Call Center Agents = Your Brand

woman on phoneHow’s your brand today?

Defining your brand used to be so much easier. In the good old days (for me, the good old days were the 80s), your brand was whatever your advertising said it was. Social media changed all that. Now your brand is whatever your customers say it is. And so your brand is largely determined by your call center agents – those often-ignored people who toil day and night to help your customers solve their problems.

Unfortunately, many companies treat call center agents as replaceable cogs in a system. When one leaves, bring in another and move on. During the downturn you could sometimes get away with this, because you could always find another worker. But every time a disengaged agent focuses more on getting off of the call then actually solving your customer’s problem, it hurts you twice.

First, it hurts your brand. That interaction just had more impact on your customer than your CEO. Your marketing, product development and innovation were all just made ineffectual because of a frustrated call center agent. That’s always been true, but we’ve been able to ignore that – even in the face of social media. Read more

Does your customer or employee come first? Answer: Yes

iStock_000025403053XXLargeThis is a question that my fellow bloggers love to debate – do you focus on customers to drive change, or prioritize employee engagement to develop a sustainable customer-focused culture?

This continues my review of the 2013 Temkin Award Winners and how they match the Heart of the Customer model. As I reviewed the award winners, it quickly becomes obvious that this really isn’t an either/or question.  Both are critical to success. Let’s look at how three award winners drive both employee and customer engagement. Read more

Twin Cities Event: David vs. Goliath: Driving adoption of customer experience in your organization and making it stick

Join us at our upcoming CXPA event, where we discuss how to drive adoption of customer experience into your organization, and make it stick.  Remember that you need to register at http://www.cxpa.org/events/event_details.asp?id=412396&group= for the event – I hope we see you there!



David vs. Goliath: 
Driving adoption of customer experience in your organization and making it stick

Speaker: Sean Otto, Ph.D., Snr. Customer Satisfaction Analyst, Trane / Ingersoll Rand

Event Details: Are you looking for the tipping point in moving your organization to be more customer-centric? Come join us for an open conversation with CX professionals on things we’ve learned to better communicate, focus and energize your organization around the customer’s experiences. To start the conversation off, Sean Otto from Trane / Ingersoll Rand will share some examples of how a B2B company has changed 100 years of tradition to bring solid CX improvements to core processes and solid improvements in CX metrics. Blink and you might miss this great opportunity.

Cost: CXPA Members – FREE*
Non-members – $20

*CXPA members are eligible to bring 2 guests for FREE upon registering!


Minnesota event – Learn the power of recognition with Achievers and Heart of the Customer

Join Achievers and Heart of the Customer at this local networking event.

Achievers’ inspires Employee Success™. Their software helps global companies dramatically increase employee engagement, retention, and performance to drive overall business success. Join Achievers Founder and Chief Evangelist Razor Suleman and Jim Tincher as they share how great companies use recognition to drive their missions, including creating a great customer experience.

Achievers-HotC Minnesota Event

Creating a great customer experience for agents AND consumers – an interview with Lisa Hoene, VP of Brand and Marketing Services, Allianz Life

Aiming for the Heart of their CustomersThis is the fourth in our Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers interview series, with seven Minnesota customer experience leaders sharing their strategy for the coming year. In this article, we catch up with Lisa Hoene, the VP of Brand and Marketing Services for Allianz Life. You can see all of the interviews here:

Lisa Hoene


Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America (Allianz Life) helps Americans achieve their retirement income and protection goals with a variety of annuities and life insurance products sold through independent financial professionals. As a leading provider of fixed index annuities, Allianz Life is part of Allianz SE, a global leader in the financial services industry. Read more