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

“No, Bill. You don’t want wider seats.”

At a recent dinner party I explained what I do for a living. One attendee responded, “Well, then can you please call Delta, and tell them I want wider seats?”

I responded, “Actually, you don’t.  People say they want wider seats, but their behavior says that they really don’t.”

“Oh, you mean the hypothetical general public doesn’t want wider seats?”

“No, Bill.”  I responded. “I mean that you specifically don’t want wider seats.”


The problem with many customer experience surveys is that they recommend the equivalent of “make my seats wider.” It’s a common practice to ask customers to rate importance for different factors, then compare that to satisfaction. But it just doesn’t work.  Since you measure each item in isolation, everything is free.  And so there’s nothing to ensure that respondents’ answers match their actual behaviors. Expensive things like wider seats have just as much weight as free peanuts.

To show what I mean, let’s play this out.  I call Delta and somehow find the magical IVR prompts to reach the right person. She hears my plea and responds, “My goodness – you’re right!  We’ve been looking at this wrong! We’ll fix that immediately.”  So they remove one chair from each row to allow for wider seats.  What will happen? Will travelers flock to Delta to take advantage of the space?

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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

Real-World Customer Experience Stories – Isolating What Really Matters

Heart of the Customer's Customer Experience ModelThe Real-World series continues.  In these posts I’m sharing how the 2012 Temkin Customer Experience Award finalists actually go about building their customer experiences.

The first two posts focused on how the respondents create Customer Intelligence – the first stage of the Heart of the Customer’s Customer Experience Model.  We started with Bringing Your Customers to Life, and continued with Identifying the Metrics that Matter.

Now we move into the Customer-Based Capabilities stage of the model, specifically Isolating What Really Matters.  This stage goes beyond the relationship metric that matter to find the drivers that actually impact your customer.  Rather than telling your managers to focus on improving your Net Promoter or Satisfaction scores, you discover what factors actually drive those scores.  You can see more detail here. Read more

Real-World Stories of Creating the Metrics that Matter

Heart of the Customer's Customer Experience ModelThis week we continue to analyze the Temkin Group’s finalists for their 2012 Customer Experience Excellence Award to learn how they build Customer Intelligence.

Whereas last week I outlined how the companies bring their customers to life for their employees. This week I delve into determining the Metrics that Matter – the second component of Customer Intelligence.

I wrote before about how The Perfect Customer Experience Score is not universal – it varies for each company. Great organizations do not just plug in the Net Promoter Score or satisfaction because they heard they’re great measurements – they take the time to discover whether the scores actually predict important outcomes such as client loyalty. NPS may or may not be the right score. Superior companies test to see if improving NPS improves their customers’ loyalty. If not, then NPS is not a Metric that Matters for your company. Read more

Drivers: The Secret to Customer Experience Success

iStock_000025403053XXLargeI was meeting with a global restaurant company’s COO, Chief People Officer, and key franchisees. I knew I was losing in the first 10 minutes.

We met to discuss ways to improve sales.  I brought a driver analysis on what drove repeat business with his restaurants, and the leading driver was “The Warmth of the Greeting.”  But as a stereotypical COO, he obsessed with repeatable processes – cleanliness, speed of service, etc.  He was unwilling to consider that perhaps something as fuzzy as a greeting was responsible for repeat business.  This led to a very long meeting.

Read more

Three Steps to Start Your Customer Experience Program

Thumbs UpI’ve worked with a number of companies with great customer experiences, including several I have featured in this blog, ranging from retailers to healthcare companies to manufacturers. During this time I have noticed themes about how companies effectively use their brand values, strategies and missions to create a great customer experience.

Their structures vary and their approaches differ.  But successful customer experience capabilities follow three steps to success. They excel at Customer Intelligence, use this to inform their Customer-Based Capabilities, and sustain all this through a Customer-Focused Culture. Read more

The Perfect Customer Experience Score!

IMG_3315I was meeting with the Executive VP of Sales for a national retailer, who asked me “Is there a holy grail of customer experience measurement?  We use satisfaction, and I’ve heard about this Net Promoter Score.  Is there one score that’s the best?”

This is an important question, and one I’m frequently asked. Opinions differ, with some companies advocating their favorite metric with the zeal of the converted.  NPS is the only question you need.  Satisfaction is absolutely not predictive.  Or it’s just as predictive as NPS.  Or more predictive.  The Customer Effort Score is far more predictive than either one.

With all these contentions, why do I keep reading case studies that contradict each other?  Why do some companies find NPS is more predictive of financial results than satisfaction, where others find just the opposite?

Could it be that there’s not one perfect score for everybody? Read more

Create an Engaging Customer Experience Workshop

iStock_000019575299LargeAre you looking to improve your customer experience?  I will be hosting a full-day course on Creating an Engaging Customer Experience in partnership with the Performance Excellence Network.  You can learn more at

Creating an Engaging Customer Experience

October 2, 2013 | 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

A great customer experience begins with a solid understanding of your customers.  But it also requires that your employees use those insights to build programs that your competitors cannot duplicate.

The Performance Excellence Network (formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality) is pleased to welcome Jim Tincher, Senior Business Advisor with Satisfaction Management Systems, to a special full-day workshop September 10: “Creating a Great Customer-Inspired Experience.”

Jim will build off of the PEN breakfast earlier this summer, sharing the three keys to build a great customer-inspired experience for your business, and you will pick up actionable steps you can implement literally tomorrow!

Learning objectives for the workshop include: Read more

Four Trends Changing the Customer Experience Movement

Our Customer Experience capability is growing!  In the last two months the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) has added about 300 members, with four new sites hosting local events.  Here in Minneapolis we hosted a great session to discuss Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Model, and how members are helping their companies move up the model.

As with any movement, this growth is leading to maturity and change.  Here are four trends I am seeing impact our practice today:

  • Customer Experience is moving beyond just NPS
  • Increasing recognition on the role of employee engagement
  • Customer Journey Mapping 2.0
  • Emerging Comprehension of Customers’ Non-Rational Thinking

Customer Measurement is Moving Beyond Just NPS

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is still the cornerstone of many customer experience programs.  What is changing is that companies are moving beyond the notion of using just one number, surrounding it with other factors, including satisfaction (yes, it’s still popular for many), loyalty, and the Customer Effort Score.

Read more