Customer Experience: Keep it Simple Stupid

by Colin Shaw on October 1, 2015

If you had the choice of doing something the easy way or the hard way, and you didn’t have to do anything morally, ethically, or legally wrong to do it the easy way, which would you choose? My guess is the majority of you would say take the easy way. I certainly would.

When it comes to brands and their related experience, it’s critical that you KISS it. In other words, Keep It Simple Stupid.

The truth is most Customers want things easy, too. According to Siegel and Gale, a branding firm specializing in simplicity, Customers like brands that have simplicity as a key value.

After talking to over 12,000 respondents in eight different countries, they discovered there are four main reasons that simplicity is important to your brand.

  1. It’s more expensive to be complex.  When an experience is complex, people gravitate toward the high-cost channels, i.e., the call center.
  1. Customers value simplicity enough to pay more for it. Of those surveyed, 38% of them said they would pay more for a simpler experience.
  1. Customers are more likely to recommend you to someone else when you keep it simple. The vast majority, 70% of respondents said they were more likely to recommend a brand with a simple experience.
  1. Simple works for your bottom line. Looking at data since 2009, the portfolio including the simplest brands outperformed the major indexes by 170%.

Their findings are clear: Simple is where it’s at as it pertains to brands. And I would argue, simple is where it’s at as it pertains to the experience you provide for your brand as well.

Getting Your Brand Experience Back to Simple

Ask yourself this question: What is the brand experience you want to deliver? Do you know? If you were to go and ask your colleagues would they?

We ask these questions a lot. The surprising bit is the vast majority of the people at the organizations we help do not know the answer. Although, to be fair, there are times when they do know the answer—it’s just that everyone knows a different answer.

Knowing ONE answer is key to building a brand with an excellent experience. We call this answer a Customer Experience Statement, (CES) or a specific articulation of the experience your brand wants to deliver. Furthermore, as we know over 50% of the Customer Experience pertains to how a Customer feels, this statement should include specific emotions the Customer will feel during and after the experience with your brand.

However, we also want a strategy that drives value and provides a return to the bottom line. It is a business after all!

Based on the research undertaken by Siegel and Gale, simplicity to the experience drives much value to the bottom line. So when setting the strategy, simple should be a part of all brand conversations. The fact is, Customers are demanding—getting more so all the time—and they are demanding simple experiences. However, if you meet their simple demands, they reward you with word of mouth advertising, the gold standard for Brands.

So adding simple to your CES is paramount for brands today. Also paramount is the acceptance of simple as a value by the senior team because simple has implications (read: costs).

You need to design your brand to give people a simple experience. At the end of any experience with you, people should say their experience was easy. To evoke this response, you need to research it with an outside-in approach, design it with the goal in mind, implement it with a mind for change, and reward those who embrace it. Fail to do so, or fail to KISS it—you might simply kiss some of your loyal people goodbye.  

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Colin ShawCustomer Experience: Keep it Simple Stupid

Ad-Blocking Sends Clear CX Message: Get Obnoxious Ads out of my UX

by Colin Shaw on September 29, 2015

Apple’s latest operating system iOS 9 allows people to block ads while mobile browsing, a development that has digital marketers and publishers in a twist. As Ad Blocking pushes online advertising to the brink of irrelevancy, it’s important to appreciate how the User Experience (UX) provides an integral link to Customer Experience (CX). And also, what a poor UX means to your brand.

Ad blocking isn’t a new concept. Ad blocking has been available for desktop web browsers for years. However, it hasn’t been available for mobile devices.

With the new iOS 9 for Apple devices, you now can. According to the NY Times on Friday, 45 Million Apple Users installed it on their mobile devices. Apple says this is about providing its Users with an improved mobile browsing experience.

In the short term, this move raises many questions about the future of online ad dollars. Web publishers don’t want their ads, what fuels the quality content they offer their audience for free, blocked. Digital advertisers don’t want to pour large percentages of their budgets into a medium that won’t reach eyeballs. This article from (which ironically I had to close out TWO obnoxious Pop-Up Ads to read), explains the controversy. The conundrum Ad Blocking on mobile devices creates for the future of online advertising is complex and uncertain right now, to be sure.

But there’s another important message here, straight from the consumers’ thumbs, and it’s important for digital marketers to hear it: You are ruining your online CX with obnoxious ads.

You know the ones I’m talking about. Obnoxious ads slow down your loading speed (a crime punishable by 100 lashes with a wet noodle, as far as I’m concerned). They track your activities and/or spring up right in the middle of the content you were hoping to see (and link to…). To make it even more maddening, these interlopers then take five minutes to load, and even longer to load the x so you can “skip ad.” Moreover, if you aren’t on a wireless router, they are burning your data (that you had budgeted for streaming important cat videos).

Have you paid a data overage lately? Let’s just say loan sharks have been impressed with their racket! In other words, these obnoxious ads are ruining your UX. And that reflects poorly on the brand that bought the ad and the site running it. At the risk of stating the obvious, forcing your message down a user’s throat is not the way to build brand loyalty.

The UX is quickly becoming the most important part of the CX. The two aren’t that different, after all. The UX refers to the overall experience a person has using an App or website. A CX is the overall experience a Customer has with an organization as perceived across all the moments of contact. These moments of contact include the Customer’s interaction with the app, the site–or the obnoxious ad hogging the bandwidth on the train.

Mobile continues to rise as the most often accessed portal of an organization’s digital presence. Ofcom, the UK’s communication regulator, released their Communications Market Report for 2015, which proclaimed that the “UK is now a mobile society.” Among the many interesting revelations from the report is the statistic that 42% of Smartphone Users in the UK said the handset was their most important device. And the smartphone market penetration just continues to increase. How long before that 42% grows to 100%? According to the jumps in percentage the last couple of years, not nearly as long as you think.

The UX and the CX have different letters, but they represent the same thing when mobile browsing. When your audience blocks your ads, they are telling you something: your obnoxious ads are ruining their UX, reflecting poorly on your CX and your brand reputation. Smart digital marketers will recognize this to be true.

Will you be one of them?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawAd-Blocking Sends Clear CX Message: Get Obnoxious Ads out of my UX

3 Dangers of Employing Smart People

by Colin Shaw on September 24, 2015

Why we do what we do is a fascinating science. The brain has interesting ways to interpret the world around us and spur us into action. Knowing the brain drives our behavior, you would think those with high intelligence would have the upper hand in making good decisions. Studies have shown, however, this is not the case. In many ways, intelligence can lead smart people to make dumb decisions, creating problems for their managers.

Three dangers of employing smart people:
A recent article on the Big Think brought up some interesting points about why this is true for smart people, which include the following:

  1. Intelligence breeds hubris: Smart people can make dumb decisions because they develop excessive pride or self-confidence  (hubris) in their decision-making as a result of their intelligence.
  2. They tend to develop a superiority complex: Not only do they have a high opinion of their intelligence, but also they develop a low opinion of those around them. Because of these feelings of superiority, they assume they make better decisions than their fellow man and don’t check in from time to time to see if this is true.
  3. They overlook how bias affects their thinking: We all have biases that affect our ability to interpret the world accurately. These biases are the result of our brains’ systems of thinking, which don’t always access the “intelligent” side of our experience.

What Matters the Most in Making Decisions
Our intelligence is an important part of how we make decisions, but it isn’t the only part contributing to our success. Other important factors include what kind of thinking we use to arrive at a conclusion, self-awareness of our natural biases, and a healthy dose of humility. Let’s take a quick look at each of these factors.

The Kind of Thinking You Use
What kind of thinking you use to arrive at a decision has a huge impact on its accuracy. Several years ago, Professor Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, looked closely at the idea that our minds have two systems of thinking in his book, “Thinking Fast and Slow”. The first type of thinking that Kahneman called System One, was fast and intuitive, based on natural associations that you have with information that make decision-making quick and easy. The other, System Two was slow and methodical, based on rational use of information to draw a conclusion that took more time and concentration. He determined that the first system was one we accessed more often than the second because it was easier. One of the jobs of the slower System Two is to govern the conclusions of System One.  This short video illustrates (literally) the concept well:

All of us do this, smart, dumb or somewhere in between. If we use the System One thinking, and System Two doesn’t weigh in to validate these decisions, our conclusions are not as based in fact as we think they are.

Self-Awareness of Your Bias
Self-awareness is key to making a good decision. When you know that you have biases, you can spot them in some of your System One decisions. According to the Big Think article, a recent study from the University of Toronto found that unbiased decision-making is mostly separate from a person’s IQ.

The reason self-awareness is a problem for intelligent people has to do with their opinion of themselves. Intelligent people suffering from hubris might forget that their quicker decision doesn’t have all the information, believing instead it is their marked wit and intellect that arrived at such a conclusion so quickly. They forget they have biases at all.

Humility Helps
We have all heard the phrase, “We’re only human,” or “we all make mistakes.” Mistakes are important to all of us because they teach us a lesson. When we make a mistake, we usually suffer the unpleasant consequences resulting from them. It makes an impression.

When a person doesn’t believe they made a mistake or believes the mistake was not their fault, they don’t learn from it. They are doomed to repeat it. Highly intelligent people can overlook their bad decisions and how they were affected by their biases, which then keeps them from taking responsibility for their part in the decision, preventing them from learning from it.

Does that mean if you are highly intelligent you are doomed to make dumb decisions? Of course not! Usually, these other important elements of decision-making prevent (most) bad decisions. In some cases, however, they aren’t. The absence of these important qualities that go into a decision explains why being smart isn’t enough to prevent dumb decisions.

Having high intelligence is a great quality in a person. However, it is important also to temper that intelligence with rational, logic-based thinking, self-awareness of your bias, and a healthy dose of humility. Otherwise, you can end up with a smart person that repeatedly makes dumb decisions. And I’m sure we can all agree that no one wants to be that dumb!

I would be really interested to hear your comments of how to get the most out of smart people in the comments below.
Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin Shaw3 Dangers of Employing Smart People

3 Things Great Companies Do for Customers

by Colin Shaw on September 22, 2015

According to, the feelings a Customer has when they are getting excellent Customer service are the same as the feelings they have when they feel love. I couldn’t agree more. Most excellent Customer Experiences leave Customers feeling valued and important, or, in other words, feeling the love.

There are three things that great companies that have excellent Customer Experiences do in common to make Customers feel the love.  They are:

  1. They always do more for Customers.
  2. They know these two words: Customer Convenience
  3. They know accessibility is an investment, not an expense.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these with specific examples from companies with great experiences:

Always Do More for Customers

A company that understands this is Amazon. They are always improving their services with the Customers in mind. Amazon never is content to keep their experience stagnate. In late May this year, they announced they will begin same-day delivery services for many of the Prime Customers for no additional charge.

But you don’t have to be as big as Amazon to do more for your Customers. The Airport Fast Park at the Baltimore Washington International Airport also thinks of ways to do things for Customers. From helpful advice on arrival regarding the best possible space at that moment to a shuttle picking you up at your car instead of a shelter, they look for ways to do more for the Customer. They even take your right back to your car when you get back—with a complimentary bottle of water. Now, they offer complimentary electric vehicle charging as well.

These companies know the value of doing more. They don’t ask more of their Customers, but they give more service all the time.

Know these two words: Customer Convenience

The words hassle and confusing are never good when associated with your Customer Experience. A famous story from a few years back tells the tale of a young woman concerned about her dad not having any food when he was snowed in during a Pennsylvania snowstorm around the holidays. After calling several stores, Trader Joe’s agreed to deliver the food to the man and refused payment from his daughter. The Trader Joe’s team told her to “Have a Merry Christmas!”

Convenience takes many forms, however, and lately that form is mobile.  In a recent article, “3 Ways to Use Mobile To Your Advantage,”  I discuss how Macy’s, Dick’s, and Taco Bell have embraced mobile Omni-channel approaches in unique ways to take their relationships with their Customers on-the-go to a new level. It is essential to consider convenience for your Customers and mobile technology and access is upping the ante in that game all the time.

Accessibility is not an expense; it’s an investment.

Chik Fil A staffs their incoming Customer calls in such a way that the average hold time is always better than five minutes. Anyone who has worked in call centers knows that this amount of time is exceptionally low. Why do they staff this way? They want accessibility to be part of their experience. This stat is just one part of their strategy to raise the standard for keeping Customers happy. They also created a survey on their website that allows Customers to submit feedback any time of day—without even the five-minute wait of the Call Center.

It isn’t just Chik Fil A that understands this concept. Hilton is a fan of accessibility and a multi-channel approach. In addition to the traditional email and toll-free number options for Customer Service, they added a “click to call” feature to their website that connects them to Customer Service (quickly). They also present the option to leave your number for a Customer Service agent to call you back.

From sufficient staffing to good training to creating new ways to communicate with Customers, accessibility is an investment that is sure to pay off in the long run with happy Customers. Why? It’s formulaic:  Happy Customer = Loyal Customers.

By always doing more, minding the Customer Convenience, and investing in accessibility, you make Customers feel valued and important, two key feelings associated with love. These days it’s important to make sure the Customers feel the love.

Are your Customers feeling the love from you?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Colin Shaw3 Things Great Companies Do for Customers

Starbucks CEO Gets It, Does Yours?

by Colin Shaw on September 17, 2015

When was the last time you got an email from your CEO suggesting that you need to be concerned about how your Customer feels? For the vast majority of you, my guess is your answer is never, unless of course you work at Starbucks. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a memo to his 190,000 retail employees and I think it’s brilliant—and a window into why Starbucks does such an excellent job with their experience.

When the stock market tanks like it did recently, most CEOs would be worried about their revenue also falling (not to mention falling figures from those CEO bonuses we all hear so much about).  Most are likely to suggest people need to work harder to weather the storm.

Not Schultz.

In a memo early September, Schultz decided to address the emotions both his employees and Customers feel in a falling market like the one we bore witness to earlier in the month.

To his employees, he said, “…although we are not immune from the global stock market selloff that has now made its way to Wall Street, my confidence in our company and in all of you has never been greater.”

About how we wanted his partners (retail employees) to treat Customers he said:

Today’s financial market volatility, combined with great political uncertainty both at home and abroad, will undoubtedly have an effect on consumer confidence and perhaps even our customers’ attitudes and behavior. Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and – as you always have – remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let’s be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”

I talk a lot about Customer-centricity of organizations. We use a model called Naïve to Natural that measures how an organization is oriented toward Customers, with the Naïve not having a Customer focus and the Natural having the most Customer focus. This communication to employees shows me a customer centric company that is lead by the top down on this principle.

I love the line that says, “success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day.” Never truer words were spoken, particularly when you are addressing Customer Experience.

Customer Experiences happen in the moment, and these moments happen every day, every hour of operation, in every channel. In all of these moments, an employee can make or break a Customer Experience. This is why training and employee engagement are so key to its success. They need the tools and tactics at their disposal when these moments occur.

It is also why it so important to have the buy-in of your senior management and leadership teams for your Customer Experience agenda. This important training takes time and money, two things on which most leaders have a lot of opinions, especially about how they will be spent. Without this commitment, you could end up with a great plan that everyone ignores because it isn’t the priority at the moment.

I also like how his retail employees are considered partners. How employees feel about their job shows in the Customer Experiences they provide. When they feel they are a valued member of the team, it shows. Schultz understands this in the way he refers to them and also with key phrases like “my confidence in all of you.”

Schultz understands that Employees and Customers feel emotions caused by the world around them and these emotions affect their behavior. He values his Customers enough to care how they feel coming into his experience and takes steps to help his employees have the appropriate tools to react. He also leads his Customer-centric culture by example. He works to ensure employees felt valued and cared for so they will continue to deliver the experience that makes Customer feel valued and cared for. When it comes to Customer-centricity, there is no question that he gets it.

Does your CEO get it, too?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawStarbucks CEO Gets It, Does Yours?

Key Learning from 15 Years of Net Promoter Stats

by Colin Shaw on September 15, 2015

Did you know Netflix’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) is higher than the cable companies? It is, and it is one of the reasons we see growth in Netflix and continued dissatisfaction with cable companies.

I love Netflix. It is simple. You can start and stop it when you want. My recent experiences with my cable company have been the complete opposite. This poor Customer Experience is one reason I now use Netflix more than my cable company.

For those of you that don’t know, Net Promoter Score (NPS) represents the likelihood a Customer would recommend your product or service to other people (i.e., the higher the score, the greater the likelihood they will recommend).

The NPS score has been around for years and has seeped its way into business vernacular. It has become a standard metric used to determine if your Customer Service and Experience improvements are effective. Harvard Business Review called it “The One Number You Need to Grow” way back in 2003. One of the frequent questions I get is, “Our NPS is XX. How does that compare with the rest of the market?”

Well, there is a simple way of finding out the answer to that question: Speak to the man that knows!

Brendon Rocks is that man. He is the Head of Data Science (self-described as Chief Statistics Wonk) for Satmetrix, a company devoted to combining their software, data, and Customer Experience (CX) expertise to help organizations achieve Customer-Centricity. In their 15th annual Net Promoter Benchmark Study, he gave a great presentation of some really interesting stats on NPS.

So the question is, what can we learn about what works for Customer Experience by looking at trends in NPS?  Quite a lot, it turns out. For example, Rocks has discovered that brands that have made providing a simpler Customer Experience their priority have performed “especially well” with regards to NPS. So perhaps the most important thing we can learn is:

Simple experiences are king when it comes to NPS.

Simplicity is part of the reason that Netflix has fared better in NPS trends than cable companies. According to Rocks, the following brands do simple to success:

  • Boost Mobile: They have the highest NPS in the mobile service study, performing 33 points higher than Sprint, who own Boost and provides their infrastructure.
  • Tesco Mobile: The UK-based mobile firm has a larger base of loyal Customers than O2, the telecommunications provider that Tesco rebrands for their Customers.
  • First Direct, a phone and online retail bank in the UK, scored the highest in the UK study, 61 points higher than the HSBC, the bank that owns them.

Looking at the data, Rocks explains, “Technology companies have been superb at offering smooth customer experiences, and increasingly consumers want and expect to do business online. Comparing scores from Netflix and the cable companies’ in recent years has been interesting, especially in the context of cord cutting, and the PR war over Net Neutrality. It doesn’t look like the cable companies are winning.”

Simple is important to your Customers. Really Important.

What we can learn from this data is that Customers don’t want much hassle these days. They want it easy; they want it accessible; they want it smooth. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps the biggest is the concept of cognitive depletion.

Cognitive depletion refers to the amount of energy you have left to think about something, which, as the name implies, isn’t much. There is intuitive thinking, that doesn’t require a large amount of energy to do and rational thinking, which does require a lot of energy to do. complicated Customer Experiences do not appeal to the intuitive part of one’s thinking, and instead, require the less energy-efficient thinking of one’s rational mind. If a person is cognitively depleted (Read: tired), then they are far more likely not to participate and look for an easier path of resistance (read: your competition’s experience).

Who doesn’t feel cognitively depleted from time to time? And who hasn’t abandoned a purchase (online, via mail, in a store) because the next steps were just “too much?”  We all feel like this from time to time, and when we do, we appreciate easy. It’s why more and more people resort to ordering groceries online for delivery. It’s the reason people like setting up an Apple computer for the first time over a PC, and it’s why we prefer to bank online instead of going to a branch. We are a society of people who just want it simple. And the proof is in the NPS data.

Rocks and I will be presenting more information from Satmetrix’s 15th Annual Net Promoter Study in the upcoming webinar: “15 Years of Tracking Net Promoter: What Have We Learned?” on September 24th at 12 p.m. EST. Rocks will share his insight on simple experiences, as well as other interesting trends and discoveries Satmetrix has made over the years.  Please CLICK HERE to join us for the Webinar.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawKey Learning from 15 Years of Net Promoter Stats

The Big Mistake Most Organizations Make with Employee Engagement

by Colin Shaw on September 10, 2015

It seems most organizations have a Customer Experience program and an increasing number have started Employee Engagement programs. The issue for me is these are not combined nor complimentary, which is a huge mistake. Why? Because the experience you give your Customers is the same experience you should give your employees. It’s not only good for employee engagement, but it can mean your Customers are more satisfied with you—and how much they spend with your brand.

Foresee, a Customer Experience analytics firm, examined the results of two studies that used their analytics technology last fall. The first was looking at the employee experience for American workers at all levels of employment. The second examined the retail experience of 40,000 Customers. What they discovered was Customer Satisfaction was highest in retailers with high employee engagement. Furthermore, this translated into increased revenues for those stores by referrals; return visits and purchases from other channels. To see the full article, click here.

Clearly, the idea that employee engagement isn’t as important as Customer Experience is one whose time has passed. It’s critical to address both deliberately to create and experience that is good for both employees and Customers.

Combining the Customer and the Employee Experience

So how can you do this? The first step is defining the experience you want for both. Here’s a hint: It’s the same one. In other words, if you want your Customers to feel they can trust you, they are valued, and their experience was easy, then your employees should say that senior management trusts them, values them, and their experiences was easy, too. When you achieve this state, the Customer Experience program and employee engagement program are aligned and implemented simultaneously.

Employee engagement is the latest buzz phrase in the industry. It occurs when employees feel a strong commitment to the company’s mission, and motivated to contribute to the company’s success. Furthermore, engaged employees enjoy personal satisfaction for doing so.

Like Customer engagement, getting Employee Engagement rarely happens by accident. It is deliberately designed into the culture and is carried out by the leaders in the organization. In other words, if you want employee engagement, you have to design a work experience that produces it. Therefore the same principles about how you deal with a Customer Experience apply to how you deal with an Employee Experience.

One of the tools we deploy to help organizations create a better Employee Experience is an Emotional Signature for employees. An Emotional Signature for employees is how your Employees feel about their work experience, more specifically, the emotions they associate with work. If we are trying to create engaged employees, we need to discover what emotions drives the most value for them by undertaking some form of research, like that which we do for the emotional signature for Customers. Using these identified values, we then design emotionally engaging experiences for employees.

Many organizations we first meet do not trust their employees. Employee empowerment is woefully inadequate. When this happens, the employer sends a strong message that says, “We don’t trust you to make the right decision.” This is never a catalyst for employee engagement. By giving employees the tools to do the job and then getting out of their way while they do it, you create empowerment and foster employee engagement.

For my last corporate gig, I always said, “Happy people give you happy Customers.” Based on the findings by Foresee, I might now amend that to say, “Happy People give you Happy Customers that spend more money!” Who doesn’t want that?

Are your Customer Experience and Employee Experiences combined and complementary?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawThe Big Mistake Most Organizations Make with Employee Engagement

How I got 200,000 LinkedIn Followers

by Colin Shaw on September 8, 2015

So you want to get followers on LinkedIn and elsewhere? Here is how I have just surpassed the 200,000 followers on LinkedIn. First and foremost I was selected by LinkedIn as one of the world’s top 150 business influencers. Why? Well, you need to ask them…but I suppose it’s because I have always been trying to push the Thought Leadership of my topic, Customer Experience. Moreover, I have always shared my knowledge. I live by this quote from Oscar Wilde:

“There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

I believe if I share my knowledge I will get paid back (in being talked about…or argued with in many cases!). I have devoted many late nights, long transatlantic flights, train rides, and evenings spent in nondescript hotel rooms to my belief. I have been at it for years; maybe longer than content marketing has even been a thing. With all this time and energy invested in writing books, writing posts came naturally to me.

Having said all of this, if I don’t write what people want then I don’t get people reading. So here are my tips and examples for those of you that want to increase your followership:

  1. Be original – don’t copy people.
  2. Don’t shy away from controversy – controversy can be good. It causes debate.
  3. Be yourself – people can tell if you are not.
  4. Be grounded – Don’t take yourself too seriously. I am not a rock star or even a Z-list celebrity, I am just a guy or as we would say in England, a bloke.
  5. Be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them – When this happens in social media it can hurt! But don’t take it personally. Learn from it and move on.

Here are some of my examples of the tips:

My most viewed post:
15 Statistics That Should Change The Business World—But Haven’t

Views:         More Than 189,000

Tip:              Headlines that are a surprise draw more clicks; but you have to deliver the goods in the content, too. People like stats.

I am pleased this post performed well. Unlike some of my other posts that received lots of views, it is in my area of expertise, my industry. When a post like this reaches a lot of viewers, I feel like  I am helping progress the field. In this case, my headline promised what my content delivered so the views rolled in. This is the most important thing to know about content marketing: headlines matter. A lot.

My most well liked post:
Secrets of Being Promoted and Earning More Money

Views:             179,074

Likes:              1,784

Tip:              Secrets are good, but revealed secrets are even better.

This post had great views also, but it garnered more likes. Why? Titles are VERY important. People like to hear secrets! This particular post talked about different personality types at many organizations, too, which was of interest to many people that probably recognized themselves or some of their co-workers. While it isn’t necessarily in my field of expertise, this post was fun to write, and my hope is that it helped those readers that wanted to get promoted and earn more money do exactly that. I think it’s important that people see more than one dimension of you and that you are a real person.

My favorite post that flopped:
The Gender Experience-Math, Cars & Vanilla?

Views:         747

Likes:          8

Tip:              Headlines and images are important. Really important.

I am fascinated by the difference between men and women as it pertains to Customer Experience (as to all the other ways, I’m interested in that, too! Lol.) So I wrote a post about how little changes to the experience, i.e. adding vanilla scent to the documents they were working with changed the emotional reactions of women to a certain, anxiety-inducing situation. I published it, ready for the debate and engagement my posts typically enjoyed. The debate and engagement were nowhere to be found. Looking back at this post, I think the image and the headline weren’t as good as they could have been, nor did my story have the same kind of connections drawn to my field as I typically do these days. Maybe I’ll have to pursue a rewrite here…stay tuned!

My biggest mistake:
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in Customer Experience Recently

Views:         23, 969

Likes:              246

Tips:            Use humor wisely.

When I first started researching this post, I didn’t know who Lululemon was. I’m not what you might call a “Yogi.” But I like to chronicle the Customer Experience journey big brands make because even if I don’t know who the brand is, the readers do. I also like to use humor in my posts whenever possible. I learnt that sometime this can backfire if people don’t ‘get it’. However, in this particular post, I made an error in judgment that I regretted as soon as the first angry comments rolled in from my female readers. Originally, on the “Ugly” point, I made the joke, “It’s Never the Woman’s Fault.” I meant that as a dig at CEO Chip Wilson who blamed women’s bodies for the poor performance of their yoga pants, but my readers interpreted that as my opinion that women can’t accept the fact that they are ever wrong—which is not at all what I meant. I changed it and apologized. All this to say, be careful with your humor.

Content marketing is a great way to share ideas with your audience. I hope these insights help. If you are one of my followers, I sincerely thank you for continuing to read and engage.

I am grateful for the time and attention and only hope that my thoughts and words help my readers have the career and the Customer Experiences they want for themselves and their business. I also hope these tips help each of you in your Content Marketing journey.

What tips do you have for people?  We’d all love to hear your insight in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw
is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Colin ShawHow I got 200,000 LinkedIn Followers

Seven Ways to Engage Your Customers Using Social Media

by Shep Hyken on September 7, 2015

Social Media can level the playing field. It’s the equalizer between small and big businesses. Even solo entrepreneurial businesses can create a global presence using social media. With a strong website, optimized with the right words and phrases, a small business can make a big presence.

Another benefit to social media is cost. Actually it’s the lack of cost. You don’t need to pay for advertising in newspapers or billboards. You don’t need to hire a media company to buy airtime on radio and television. No, you just need to exploit the free or low cost opportunities that social media provides. And, of course you have to create the content and information that you post.

Here are just a few powerful ways that any company can use social media to engage with their customers:

  • If customer service is important to you, and it should be, then have someone (or a team) be part of your social service strategy. Monitor the different social channels like Twitter, Facebook and Yelp. You’re not only looking to react to customers who are posting negative reviews or complaints, you are looking to engage and thank the customers who post positive comments.
  • One of the strongest social media strategies is content marketing. You will become a valuable resource to your customers when you post information about your products and your industry. The key is to not be self-promoting. Give value and you will develop a following that looks forward to your insights. Post blogs, articles and create white papers that share information on the latest and greatest happening, not just with you and your company, but in your industry.
  • Repurpose content from your blogs and articles. Extract a sentence or two from your content and turn them into Tweets. Take short pithy quotes from your articles and “pin” them to Pinterest. Create a slide show of your articles with cool graphics you can purchase from royalty-free photography sites such as BigStock Photo and post them on SlideShare. There are many places you can place repurposed content.
  • An offshoot of content marketing is article consolidation. Create daily Google Alerts for any articles, blog posts, or news related to your products and industry.  Read through the alerts for news that your customers may be interested in. Share these articles on Twitter, Facebook and other social channels. Once a week take the top five or ten articles that you’ve read and create a blog post. For example, on Mondays I post an article titled Top Five Customer Service Articles of the Week (and I include the date).  My clients have felt this to be one of the most powerful strategies and tactics they use.
  • Are you confident enough to feature your competitors on your website? If so, consider having a semi-regular guest post from one of your friendly competitors or colleagues in your industry. This shows that you really are interested in sharing relevant content, even if it is not yours, with your community.
  • Participate on LinkedIn. Don’t just have a personal or company profile. Get involved with the LinkedIn groups. It’s a powerful way to engage with your community. And, now you can publish your articles and blog posts to LinkedIn.
  • Have a YouTube strategy. Next to Google, the biggest search engine is YouTube. Posting valuable and informative videos is powerful. If you want to get recognized quickly, then start posting videos. Again, I’ll emphasize that you shouldn’t be promotional. Deliver value. However, it is fine to include a promotional line or two at the end of the video or in the description underneath the video. Just don’t go overboard with the promotion. It should be subtle. Some tips that will help you. First, you don’t have to have a professional studio. Believe it or not, an iPhone has a great camera that is more than adequate for a YouTube video. I would recommend buying an inexpensive microphone to plug into the camera or iPhone, as the audio needs to be good. People will forgive you for not having top-notch video, but they will leave you in a moment if the audio is poor. Creating content for your videos is easy. Just go to your articles and blog posts and repurpose them for your videos.  If you want to get fancy, get an inexpensive software program to edit your videos. If you have a Mac, you already have the software on your computer.

In almost all of the above strategies it is important to remember that it’s not a one-way street. You’re not posting content and moving on. You need to encourage engagement. That means you interact. You welcome and react to comments. You want to have conversations with your community of customers. It’s about engagement. It’s about connecting. It’s about creating relationships. Social Media is a gift. Embrace it and reap the rewards it will bring you.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and New York Times bestselling author.
Find more information at
Follow on Twitter @Hyken.

Shep HykenSeven Ways to Engage Your Customers Using Social Media

3 Common Ways Customers Make Decisions

by Colin Shaw on September 4, 2015

Customer Experience (CX) is a journey, not a destination. The status quo for what makes a great CX is always changing, and soon the bar is raised, forcing everyone to take it to the next level. Depending where you are on your CX journey, you might be left behind if you aren’t constantly examining your results and don’t keep pushing for the next level.

How do you take your Customer Experience to the next level? You must focus on Customer behaviors and understanding why Customers make the decisions they do. The following three areas play a large role in Customer decisions making and must be understood to understand your Customer behaviour and move to the next level of Customer Experience.

  1.     Reinforcement and habit
  2.     Framing and choice architecture
  3.     The types of decision-making customers use

The principles are based on peer-reviewed research in the fields of psychology, marketing, and behavioral economics. What is key is understanding the underlying theory of each of these areas and learn how to apply it in your Customer Experience everyday.

Reinforcement and Habit

People tend to be consistent. Many of us hang on to our beliefs diligently. The same goes for our behavior; once we start doing something a certain way, we keep doing it that way.

There are two reasons we do this: reinforcement and habit. Reinforcement means that our beliefs become consistent beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary or in some cases, any evidence at all. Habit refers to how behavior once becomes the behavior every time.

Some beliefs are self-reinforcing and later become habits.  Customer behavior can become habitual, meaning their choice to buy your product or service is a response to a stimulus where the action of buying it will reap a perceived reward. However, Customers rarely notice a habit. Some organizations can mistake the habitual behavior of a Customer for Customer loyalty. However, it isn’t the same thing. Habits are easier to break than a loyal bond with a brand.

Its amazing how people in business fail to realize that Customer loyalty is emotional. Just like the people in your life you are loyal to, the products you are loyal to have a special place in your heart. To foster this type of loyalty, you must appeal to these emotions and help your brand embed in the Customer’s brain associated with feelings of content or being cared for by your brand.  You can then encourage favorable habit formation (by jarring them our of unfavorable behavior, more on that next…) for your Customers, in essence giving you the best of both worlds.


Framing and Choice Architecture

Habits are powerful drivers of behavior, just ask anyone who bites their nails or who is always late to an appointment. Habits are automatic and unconscious. Even when they are bad habits, we rarely notice we are doing them until after we are done. For example we know that we should really not buy as much junk food as we do, but this habit is hard to break. .

However, even bad habits can be changed. According to a great book call the Power of Habit, you need to understand the Cue, the trigger that starts this behavior, and then the routine and reward.

The same can be true for Customers. You just have to change how you frame the decision. This is called choice architecture, which psychologists have studied for decades. How you present information affects what choices a person makes, although some presentation styles are more effective with different types of people.

For example, if you want to move people to electronic statements, start by rewarding those who do it. Then, when it’s clear the rest of the stragglers aren’t going to move away from paper (because they have ALWAYS had a paper statement), start penalizing them by charging for paper. The problem is jarring people into a new behaviors is they don’t like it, and you will suffer backlash. What you need to do is show people why another way is better and how they can gain from it. One must communicate with their Customers using different decision-framing techniques to help promote the habits and behavior they want.

How Customers Make Decisions

The study of how we make decisions isn’t new. Psychologists have been doing it for years. The great news about this is that they have discovered lots of fascinating stuff that goes into how people choose things. Unfortunately, these findings have yet to infiltrate the ranks of the business community. Why? Business doesn’t tap into it because the studies are too scientific and not relatable enough. Plus, science works slowly, and the specific conclusions are rarely aggregated at a fast pace to create more general rules.

If you want to take your CX to the next level, you must understand how Consumers form and update beliefs about products, services, and brands. Furthermore, one must know how to anticipate and diagnose the decision-making styles of your Customers. Once you see them in action, you can design an experience that offers in a way appealing to each type of Customer decision-making.

By now, many organizations have been addressing Customer Experience for some time. Some are still discovering their stride; others have mastered their redesign and are reaping the rewards of having a better experience. But if you grow complacent with your status quo, you could be left behind. Taking your experience to the next level is important, and in today’s competitive environment, there is always a next level. Be sure you understand these three areas well and you will be well equipped for the next part of your Customer Experience journey.

How are you going to take it to the next level for your Customer Experience?

If you enjoyed this post, you might be interested in the following blogs:

Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of five bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter & Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin Shaw3 Common Ways Customers Make Decisions