Transforming the Customer Experience

Category : Perception

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Episode 020 – Get Customer Feedback & Insights with Focus Groups

Shownotes…

  • Listening to customers is the goal
  • Data drives a lot of CX work
  • Conversations give you the reasons BEHIND the data
  • Focus groups are a great way to have conversations
  • General fishing, proposed changes, specific topic focus
  • Feed off the energy and questions from the group
  • Uncover questions, priorities, issues, not on your radar
  • Participants tend to springboard off each other
  • Be strategic about focus groups
  • Suggested Methodology
    1. Be Clear on Purpose Use of Outcomes
    2. Determine appropriate participants – Invite them about 3-4 weeks prior to the event, logistics should be shared on the invite. I like to limit the group to 12-15. More than that and people will hide behind the numbers, somewhat like the Bystander Effect. They figure others will speak for them OR they may feel intimidated.
    3. Establish facilitator
    4. Craft questions to draw out information based on purpose – OPEN-ENDED
      1. “Tell me about…”
      2. “Share what drives these feelings…”
    5. Identify best location for the event – location, size, atmosphere
    6. Conduct the Focus Group – Again share the purpose, ask the questions and facilitate discussion, thank them for attending and sharing their input, explain how data will be used moving forward.
    7. Have someone taking copious notes – recording can be done with permissions, check with your legal counsel or state for general release statement
    8. Debrief with your co-leaders – what worked, what didn’t, what would you do differently, any urgent or immediate things to follow up on
    9. Summarize results and findings, including those in the debrief
    10. Send Thank You to participants along the lines of…

Thanks so very much for taking part in our Focus Group last week. We truly appreciate you taking the time and giving your honest feedback and insight on how we at “ABC Co” can best work with you and support your goals using our services.

We are currently compiling the information you shared with us to review with our Leadership Team. Your feedback and suggestions will be used to shape how we work with all of our customers moving forward.

As we pointed out, you may have thought of other things you would like us to be aware of since we met. Please respond back to this email with any ideas, questions, or suggestions that occur to you based on our conversation. We truly do use your input when designing our experience and systems.

Thank you!

11. Review report and findings with Leadership

12. Plan of action with timeline, assignments, and accountability.

If possible, let participants know how their input helped in specific areas.

Share with all of your customers you held a focus group, what was learned, and how you intend to use the data or what improvements can or have been made

When people see you take their feedback seriously, they’ll be more likely to share with you in any context.

So now you know more about focus groups and I hope you will take the initiative to hold some. It’s a great way to get inside the mind of your customers to help shape the way you work with them and serve them.

Also, please email me your experiences with focus groups and share what worked and what didn’t, and what you would have done differently had you known what you know now.

Lastly, be sure to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher to be sure you get every episode as soon as it is released.

Thanks so much for spending this time with me today. I’ll see YOU on the next episode!

In Customer Experience – It’s the Customer’s Perspective that Counts, Not Yours

Customer Perspective is really the only thing that matters in Customer Experience (CX) work. I know this seems a bit extreme… please bear with me.

I know that you are doing what you think is best for your business and your customer. I know that most of you are looking to create solid experiences for your customers that will bring them back to you time and time again.

But what if your customers don’t think the same way you do? What if you think the billing process you currently have is fine, but it’s driving your customers nuts? What if they think your invoicing or billing practices are inconvenient or confusing?

What if you’ve invested in a state of the art contact call center, but your customers can’t stand it?

That’s the rub. Many companies feel what they have in place is just fine. And, in all likelihood, it probably does the job. But just consider this… your customers aren’t comparing you to your competitors. They are comparing you to wherever it is that they do business where they feel important, valued, and listened to. They unconsciously compare you to any company that makes things easier on them than you do… Amazon perhaps? So if they make a suggestion to you, or even complain, about your billing practices and you don’t at least seriously consider it, you have a problem on your hands.

Because who drives your business? Yes, you are leadership… but your customers are giving you their money that helps you stay in business. If they leave, you won’t have a business to run. You should consider putting the customer perspective in the driver’s seat, at the head of the table, in the position to help guide your business and operating decisions.

Now I’m not suggesting that you will go out of business simply because your invoicing is confusing, but if you aren’t taking suggestions or feedback in one area of your business seriously, I would venture to guess you likely aren’t taking it seriously in other areas as well. Just be aware that it is a psychological pattern that how you do “something” is highly indicative of how you do “everything”… both in our personal and professional lives.

Customer-driven companies… it’s an OUTside IN approach… meaning you find out what is important to your customers, find out what they prefer, and make things happen as much as possible as you can according to their preferences. If you do this well, I promise you, they will stay loyal to you.

You are basically telling them… “Hey, we value you. Thanks for your business. Let us know what you like and we’ll try to do it.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a customer that wouldn’t feel important to your business with that approach.

Because every single human alive has their own opinion and perspective. And everyone’s perspective and belief is their reality. Our perspective is what drives our beliefs, decisions, and actions.

So in business, the customer’s perspective is their reality. If they believe that your billing practices are confusing, then pay attention to that. Because if you want to keep them as your customer, you need to address it.

When the customer perspective serves as a guiding light to your operations… it’s a beautiful thing.

To listen to the podcast covering this topic… click here.

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Episode 005 – CX From the Customer Perspective

Shownotes

  • Customer Perspective is really the only thing that matters in any Customer Experience work.
  • I know that you are doing what you think is best for your business and your customer. I know that most of you, simply because you are listening to this podcast, are looking to create solid experiences for your customers that will bring them back to you time and time again.
  • But what if your customers don’t think the same way you do? What if you think the billing process you currently have is fine, but it’s driving your customers nuts? What if they think your invoicing or billing practices are inconvenient or confusing?
  • That’s the rub. Many companies feel what they have in place is just fine. And, in all likelihood, it probably does the job. But just consider this… your customers aren’t comparing you to your competitors. They are comparing you to wherever it is that they do business where they feel important, valued, and listened to. So if they make a suggestion to you, or even complain, about your billing practices and you don’t at least seriously consider it, you have a problem on your hands.
  • Because who drives your business? Yes, you are leadership… but your customers are giving you their money that helps you stay in business. If they leave, you won’t have a business to run.
  • Now I’m not suggesting that you will go out of business simply because your invoicing is confusing, but if you aren’t taking suggestions or feedback in one area of your business seriously, you likely aren’t taking it seriously in other areas as well.
  • Remember back in episode 1 we covered what CX is… I spent some time talking about how it is customer driven… it’s an OUTside IN approach… meaning you find out what is important to your customers, you find out what they prefer, and you make things happen as much as possible as you can according to their preferences, I promise you, they will stay loyal to you.
  • You are basically telling them… hey, we value you… thanks for your business… Let us know what you like and we’ll try to do it.
  • Because every single human alive has their own opinion and perspective. And everyone’s perspective and belief is their reality. Remember I warned you there’d be a lot of psychology lessons along the way here. Our perspective is what drives our beliefs, decisions, and actions.
  • So in business, the customer’s perspective is their reality. If they believe that your billing practices are confusing, then pay attention to that. Because if you want to keep them as your customer, you need to address it.
  • Now, there is a possibility you don’t need to change a single thing. Maybe what you have is a very clear and logical billing system, but it’s confusing to your customers because they don’t understand it.
  • That’s why you need to ask your customers for their perspective along the way.

More Customer Effort Drives Customers Away

C-Suite – Question for you: I’ll never tell you NOT to delight your customers, but what would happen if you focus MORE on reducing the EFFORT your customers have to make when working with you?

It goes back to the premise of the Customer Experience being more impactful when you deliver what was promised without the customer having to worry or perform any of your responsibilities. The EASIER you make it to do business with you, the more loyal your customers will be.

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Bridge the Gap of Customer Experience Perception

Long lumped in with Customer Service, the entire Customer Experience concept is finally being acknowledged as a weighty differential in the quest to build customer loyalty and increase sales.

Business Leaders everywhere must first understand there is likely a huge gap between the Customer Experience they believe their company delivers and the perception of that same experience their customers have as they work with them.

A recent paper by SuperOffice stated research shows that 80% of businesses believe they are providing excellent customer service. That sounds good, right? BUT – the customers of those same companies feel that only 8% of them deliver excellent customer service. Now THAT should keep you up at night.

While this research states customer service only, I firmly believe the responding customers lumped it in with the entire experience, as that is what motivates customers to return or leave.

Leaders typically look at their business goals, they put some programs and training in place to enhance both the experience and skills, they closely monitor what they think is important to the customers and in doing so… they believe their customers are benefitting from a better experience.

Let me be clear, the fact that they’ve even thought about how their customers perceive them is a great first step. Being aware that customers even have a perception or thought about the subject and wanting to improve on it is key.

But the real issue is they often lack the insight as to what their customers are really thinking… as well as what their employees are thinking.

The ultimate goal is to have as little gap as possible between all three components – Leadership, Staff, and Customer Perception. Currently, as the research indicates, the best of intentions among companies have fallen short.

So, what to do? Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and start again… with a PLAN.

I often find that leaders think they are on track because they WANT to be on track. No one deliberately decides to go off the rails. But to be sure, a focused analysis needs to be done.

This analysis can be as informal or formal as you’d like…

Meet as a leadership team and discuss the CEX your company delivers at a high level. Ask yourselves these questions…

  1. What do you feel you do well?
  2. What do you feel could be improved?
  3. What does your competition do differently? Are those differences perceived as good or bad?
  4. What do you feel needs to continue to be done or started to improve the CEX? Be as honest and candid as you can during these discussions. There is no blame to be placed, only a plan to improve for the future.

Now, these same questions need to be asked of your staff and your customers. The logistics may take some figuring, but this can be done in a variety of ways conducive to your setting.

My suggestion – Gather your staff and have them break into groups of 6-8 and document their answers to the four questions on one sheet. Analyze the answers from those groups and note the answers for trends and ideas.

Then do the same with customers. Focus groups, a cross section, industry-specific, etc… simply starting is key. Each specific situation may dictate a completely different model than another, but the key is to get the feedback from as many customers as possible to get a true feeling of how they feel your company works with them. Think TripAdvisor.

Next, examine the responses between the three groups – Leadership, Staff, and Customers – and note the disparity and similarities between answers.

All four areas are important…

1)  What you do well indicates what draws your customers back and where staff feels training, empowerment, and capabilities are strong.

2)  What needs to be improved are key indicators of what could cause your customers to leave and staff to become disengaged.

3)  Just because your competition does something differently does not mean your company should adopt their practice, but be aware enough to know if your customers feel those differences add value.

4)  Pay particular attention to what they feel needs to continue to be done. The buy-in here is easily granted because it is already being done and not viewed as “extra work.” Things to start can be prioritized based on a variety of considerations, but be sure to consider each one.

Going through this exercise takes some planning and time, but the insight gained will be worth every bit of effort. Getting into the minds of your staff and customers is the single best way to identifying and bridging the gap between leadership’s and customer’s perceptions of the Customer Experience being delivered.

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