Michael Lowenstein

For Employees to Deliver CX Excellence, Ancient Greeks Had Words For It: Chronos and Kairos

by Michael Lowenstein on January 4, 2017

Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy

First, a little dictionary diving is required. The word ‘chronos’ may be familiar to some. In ancient Greek, it means “time” or “order”, like chronology or sequence. Kairos is probably less well-known. It means, essentially, doing something at the right instance, in other words a moment of truth or when something of significance happens. Chronos is quantitative. Kairos is qualitative. Both are essential in customer experience, and particularly for the role of employees in delivering superior, differentiated value (or in undermining or destroying it).

Employees’ actions, including expressing themselves face-to-face and through digital means, directly and indirectly impact much of what we understand about customer experience-based emotion and memory, leading to downstream behavior. For example, even in this age of greater customer self-service, each customer service representative (CSR) across the United States still handles an average of over 2,000 customer interactions each week. If CSRs are not aligned with the customer management strategy, and delivering value in a timely and as expected manner — indeed, are not directly involved with creating and executing the strategy — it can represent thousands of opportunities to put customers at risk or lose them.

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Michael LowensteinFor Employees to Deliver CX Excellence, Ancient Greeks Had Words For It: Chronos and Kairos

Servant Leadership: Essential for Moving Beyond Employee Satisfaction and Engagement

by Michael Lowenstein on December 21, 2016

Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy

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Michael LowensteinServant Leadership: Essential for Moving Beyond Employee Satisfaction and Engagement

How Can Wells Fargo Recover From Massive Stakeholder Insensitivity?

by Michael Lowenstein on December 6, 2016

Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy

All of the changes in customer decision-making dynamics, and influences on corporate and brand perception over the past decade or two, have brought business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketplaces to a new frontier. There is an increasingly critical connection between brand promise, corporate trustability and reputation, the customer experience as created by people and processes, and downstream customer behavior.

In an exploding Newtonian way, any small ripple in reputation change (such as through a product recall, operating scandal, or executive miscue), brand performance or customer service can have a tsunami type effect. And the ‘long-tail’ of online social media commentary may make the damage last indefinitely.

Employees have a particularly important role here. Studies have found that employees are often less than enthusiastic about their employers and the goods they produce. As noted in many discussions of employee ambassadorship, small lapses in committed behavior by employees, identified as ‘badvocacy’ by Weber Shandwick, can cause a great deal of damage to reputation and business outcomes. Negative or ambivalent employee attitude often drives customer complaints, some of which are expressed and some of which are either suppressed, mentioned in casual conversation, or posted on social media sites.

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Michael LowensteinHow Can Wells Fargo Recover From Massive Stakeholder Insensitivity?

For Employees and Customers, Should the Goal Be Higher Engagement or Higher Experience Value?

by Michael Lowenstein on November 29, 2016

Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy

Several years ago, in worldwide customer service experience research conducted for a major high-tech client, to drive stronger downstream customer behavior, it was found that processes and customer interaction had to take service employees well beyond the basics of knowledge, efficiency, and friendliness. Consistently, and irrespective of continent or country, the most effective reps showed true empathy for the customer’s issue, literally “owning” the issue as if it were theirs as well, walking in their shoes. and making a true emotional connection.

What wasn’t so completely understood at the time is that that this level of employee commitment and personal investment also positively impacted the employee experience. This was something of an epiphany for our client, representing an unanticipated ‘bonus’ result.

Customer experience pros can argue back-and-forth about whether a vendor can create deep emotions such as bonding and love in a customer. There are lots of articles and studies around stating things like “Highly engaged customers are loyal customers”. There’s little doubt that engaged customers can, and do, help shape the brand. They can also provide useful feedback and build brand-based communities. Today, is that enough?

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Michael LowensteinFor Employees and Customers, Should the Goal Be Higher Engagement or Higher Experience Value?

4 Powerful Rules to Create Employee and Customer Word-of-Mouth Programs That Work

by Michael Lowenstein on September 14, 2016

Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy

For any offline or online social word-of-mouth initiative to be impactful with key stakeholders, financially and otherwise, there must first be full realization of what it can and can’t do, and what it is and what it isn’t.

Based on broad WOM program experience with b2b and b2c clients around the world, I’ve developed four general ‘rules’ for accomplishing this:

1. Be authentic, transparent, and honest. Saying that today’s consumers and employees are ‘savvy’ is only scratching the surface of their awareness, sophistication, and levels of discrimination in identifying what is real and what is fake. Informal communication programs can work, if and because both stakeholder groups feel they are getting information and advice from individuals and entities they know and trust. Messaging and positioning statements provided by companies must be upfront and credible because, if they are not (or perceived as not), the backlash results of negative word-of-mouth can be significant.

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Michael Lowenstein4 Powerful Rules to Create Employee and Customer Word-of-Mouth Programs That Work

The Preoccupation With Pre-Customers

by Michael Lowenstein on September 7, 2016

Michael Lowenstein, Ph.D., CMC Thought Leadership Principal, Beyond Philosophy

Many companies devote considerably more energy and resources to capturing customers than they do to keeping them. But, all customers are not created equal; some have more potential value than others. It’s extremely important for targeting the best customers that their array of value requirements are well understood and that the resources devoted to getting these customers be well-applied. Companies can achieve a higher, more attractive cost/benefit ratio for customer acquisition and advocacy efforts. The key is to attract high-value customers by identifying high-potential prospects and delivering what they want and need.

Marketing consultant and author Robert Tucker has stated, “Companies are often so concerned about attracting new customers that they denigrate their unique value proposition to loyal customers.” They focus instead on chasing down the next sale, competing on price and compensating employees more for winning new accounts than for keeping existing customers happy, engaged and loyal.

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Michael LowensteinThe Preoccupation With Pre-Customers