Artificial Intelligence: It’s Coming to a Mall Near You!

by Colin Shaw on August 23, 2016

If you follow retail trends, you know that department stores are in trouble.

As shoppers have headed online and to discount stores, traditional mall department stores are struggling to define their niche and halt falling profits. Many are now focused on creating a better in-store experience in hopes of motivating customers to shop in person.

One of the most interesting customer experience initiatives is coming from Macy’s, which also announced last week that it is closing 100 of its stores.

In 10 of its U.S. locations, Macy’s shoppers can now use artificial intelligencethrough their mobile devices to help them navigate the shopping experience. The “Macy’s on Call” service allows customers to type natural language questions into Macy’s website instead of asking a sales associate. But unlike most online chat tools, this one is powered by IBM’s Watson cognitive computing service. Over time, Watson will learn to give better answers and customize them to specific stores.

Colin ShawArtificial Intelligence: It’s Coming to a Mall Near You!

Why Arianna Huffington’s Move Is Good for Customer Experience

by Colin Shaw on August 18, 2016

I was intrigued by Arianna Huffington’s announcement last week that she is leaving the Huffington Post to concentrate on her new health and wellness startup.

Her new company, Thrive Global, is a corporate and consumer platform aimed at reducing stress, exhaustion and burnout and putting an end to the idea that burnout is a necessary price of success.

“Stress and burnout are a global pandemic, costing businesses hundreds of billions of dollars per year – 300 billion in the U.S. alone. But as the latest science has shown there is no tradeoff between living a well-rounded life and high performance. In fact our performance actually improves when we make our health and well being a priority,” according to a press release announcing Thrive Global’s founding.

Colin ShawWhy Arianna Huffington’s Move Is Good for Customer Experience

It Takes Teamwork: Customer Experience Management and the Little Red Hen

by Michael Lowenstein on August 17, 2016

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

Think back, if you will, to your favorite childhood nursery rhymes and you’ll no doubt recall the lesson learned from the Little Red Hen. She and her brood of chicks planted and cultivated the corn, harvested it, made it into batter and baked it into delicious bread. Suddenly, the other farmyard animals — who had stood around refusing to help while she and the chicks did all the work – also wanted to enjoy some of the coveted cornbread.

There’s a nice metaphor here that can be applied to the development and execution of customer experience management programs, particularly the elements that are dependent upon skilled, user-friendly data development and management. Think of customer experience results as the cornbread. A lot of work has to go into making the customer experience project a success. But is everyone willing to share in the responsibility? When these programs fail to meet ROI and other objectives, as they are considered to do in 60% to 80% of the cases, no one wants to take responsibility for strife and underperformance. In fact, many are quick to point fingers and cast blame. However, when these programs go well, and when benefits are reaped, then everybody wants to take credit and share in the results: everyone wants a piece of cornbread.

Michael LowensteinIt Takes Teamwork: Customer Experience Management and the Little Red Hen

Seasonal Promotions – Don’t Forget These 3 Elements

by Colin Shaw on August 16, 2016

Who in marketing doesn’t like a promotion? Promotions produce profit. They are designed to give customers an improved experience, even if it is only “while supplies last.” They get customer’s attention. They keep your brand in their mind and influence their buying decisions.

Summer is a popular time for seasonal promotions. But what makes a successful seasonal promotion and how can you incorporate your Customer Experience goals into them? It turns out there’s three ways—and best of all you can use these three all year-round on any average Wednesday, too!

3 Critical Elements for Your Seasonal Promotion

  1. Do more than your Customers expect. All of us have expectations from a Customer Experience.  They might be low or high, depending on a number of factors that include our history and our personality. Regardless, we expect these expectations to be met. A promotion will set expectations in the mind of a customer; simply meeting these expectations is not enough. Exceeding the expectation results in surprise and delight, two emotions that are valuable to any Customer Experience. Failing to exceed expectations is a miss, but not nearly so big a miss as when you don’t meet expectations. To avoid any miscommunication, be clear about your promotion right from the start. Misunderstandings are not creating good emotions for anyone involved.
  2. Keep it convenient. A promotion should never create hassles for a customer. Nor should a promotion confuse customers. Convenience makes it easy for them to participate in your promotion. Not only that, convenience also creates a memory of how easy it was to participate in your promotion. This memory lays the groundwork for when they are making a purchasing decision later. Ostensibly, they will remember how easy it was to work with your brand and will choose your product or service over the competition. Sometimes, your convenient promotion helps establish a new buying habit, which can be an excellent bonus behavioral benefit.
  3. Remember that promotional costs are an investment, not an expense. if you have a successful promotion that increases the amount of traffic in your channels, it is important to have the bandwidth to handle the influx. Prepare your employees with training, hire staff as needed to manage the new business, and never forget that the expenses involved in being accessible to customers during a successful seasonal promotion is an investment in your brand’s growth, not an expense that steals profits.

Not surprisingly, these are the same principles that apply to creating an emotionally engaging Customer Experience. In our Customer Experience consultancy, we know that emotions are responsible for more than half of any Customer Experience. Evoking positive emotions is vital to creating a Customer Experience that fosters customer loyalty and retention.

The truth is that when you do it well, you can make your customers react emotionally the same way they do when they feel loved. American Express did a cognitive research study back in 2013 of 1,620 adults around the world about how they felt during an exceptional customer service moment.  They learned that when customers receive wonderful service, their feelings of wellbeing improved. Moreover, their sense of loneliness, sadness or anxiety decreased. They also produce positive physical responses in both the giver and receiver, which included the following:

  • 68% of the respondents felt their breathing rate decrease, signifying they relaxed just thinking about terrific service.
  • 74% felt their heart rate increase when thinking about providing excellent service
  • 55% felt a boost of self-esteem when other went to an extra effort to provide fantastic service to them

But perhaps most importantly, brilliant customer service created the same feelings as love. Researchers determined first-rate customer service was even better at producing pleasure than kissing!

As Customer Experience consultants, we believe in creating emotions that make a Customer feel valued and appreciated. Or in other words, loved. We use the three principles—doing more, being convenient, and investing in your experience—in our clients’ new experience designs. Each of them creates positive emotional outcomes for customers, which in turn increases the chance that they will feel like coming back.

Seasonal promotions are a great way to get the attention of your customers. They produce excitement, great memories, and more revenue. Making sure that you do more for customers, that you do it conveniently, and keep in mind that costs associated with the promotion are an investment in your brand’s growth, and you will be sure to have a great seasonal promotion. Best of all, these same principles apply after the promotion ends. They are in effect supplies that should always last.

What do you think makes an exceptional, attention-grabbing seasonal promotion? We’d love to hear your insight in the comments below.

Make sure you are providing the best possible Customer Experience to all your clients. To learn how join one of Beyond Philosophy’s brand new training courses.

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 best-selling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter and Periscope @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawSeasonal Promotions – Don’t Forget These 3 Elements

Telecoms in Mumbai: What It Teaches Us about India and CX

by Colin Shaw on August 11, 2016

There is a shift in power for Telecoms in the Asia Pacific region toward the consumer. It parallels a shift in the overall mindset of consumers in this area, one of a more commanding and capricious customer. In other words, the Customer Experience matters here more than it did even a couple of years ago. Are you ready?

A new global survey released by Amdocs last month reported a trend in the region where consumers demanded more control and personalization in their Customer Experiences with their Telecom provider. The survey results were based on 7,000 respondents in 14 countries throughout much of the Asian Pacific region, including India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore.

Some interesting facts about Telecom consumers in the countries that make up the Asia-Pacific region revealed in the survey include:

Colin ShawTelecoms in Mumbai: What It Teaches Us about India and CX

MROC ‘n Roll: Generating Social Connectivity and Valuable Insights from Employee and Customer Communities

by Michael Lowenstein on August 10, 2016

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

Over the past few years, we have seen the growth of b2b and b2c market research online communities, or MROCs. Companies can, for example, conduct qualitative research, such as juries and panels to evaluate alternative communication concepts and executions.

They can do straight customer loyalty and customer value research by recruiting panels of forum participants. Typically, these surveys are conducted on an Intranet basis. Results are immediate, and companies using their forum participants as panelists get response rates high enough to avoid the non-response bias pitfalls of other, lower response, self-completion research methods. Further, companies using their communities for value and experience research can link results to projected, segmented customer profitability, a tremendous benefit.

Michael LowensteinMROC ‘n Roll: Generating Social Connectivity and Valuable Insights from Employee and Customer Communities