Many organizations want a silver-bullet solution for Customer Experience, one quick thing they can do that will fix everything. However, there isn’t one for Customer Experience. It takes constant attention and small, deliberate changes to improve Customer Experience. When faced with this expectation from my clients, I think of what Prime Minister Winston Churchill told his cabinet after the election: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.”
People read books and watch TED talks that tell us how people changed this one small thing, and sales went up by 50 percent. While those results make great stories, they are not the norm. Moreover, these tales set unrealistic expectations.
We discussed this problem with unrealistic expectations and the
silver-bullet-solution mindset on a recent podcast. The reality is few simple changes exist that result in massive permanent advantages. Many Customer Experience enhancements require continual adjustments that produce incremental improvement.
In our podcast called, “Is This One of the Most Important Jobs in Business Today?”, our guests discussed how they wish everyone understood that the area of Behavioral Science is too complex to have a simple solution available for Customer Experience improvement.
Moreover, people often misunderstand science, thinking it has all the answers. However, it is the lack of answers that drives science. The scientific method starts in uncertainty and moves into testing to find answers.
Understandably, we want this non-existent simplicity for the complex, multi-faceted area of Customer Experience. From an evolutionary-psychological perspective, people want things easy. We want to expend as few resources as we can to get the maximum output possible. We want to avoid hard work and conserve energy. It is not a criticism; it’s how human beings are. We look for the most straightforward thing we could do to solve our problems.
As we all interact more online than we ever have before, digital experiences are becoming an essential part of your CX. Like a physical experience, digital experiences should center around customers and focus on what they want so you can get what you want, customer-driven growth. However, there is also nothing wrong with giving people a little Digital Nudge in the right direction.
Nudging is a term developed by Nobel-prize-winning economist Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law School who has worked a lot with governments. A Nudge supports the premise that the way you present choices tips the scales towards a particular option. In other words, the way you perceive the choices makes it more likely for you to choose one over another. Nudging capitalizes on this and helps you move people toward the option you want them to choose.
It is not often in life that you get the opportunity to reset things. However, as the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out, we have a chance that is, dare I say, unprecedented to reimagine Customer Experience. We have been through a shocking year of change. Now, we can decide what parts of the change we want to keep to respond to what customers want now.
We’ve been doing some work with one of our clients recently who will be doing some research. We encountered an interesting question that I shared on a recent podcast, and I thought I’d ask it here as well. We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When we can return to a pre-pandemic way of life, what happens with your Customer Experience? Do you go back to how it was pre-pandemic and effectively ignore everything that’s happened over the past year, do you carry on the way that you’re operating now, or is there a hybrid of both?
We are looking at ringing in 2021 with pleasure. How about you? Chances are you are ready to call this year last year, too. Although this year has been anything but usual, we typically look back at this time of year to review what we have learned. So, for better or worse, we shall do that for 2020 as well.
The pandemic has presented an opportunity to participate in a forced-perspective taking exercise for all of us. We shared both personal and business things that 2020 has taught us on a recent podcast. I thought I would share them here as well.
We have a renewed appreciation for human resilience. Much has been thrown at people this year, often compounding tragedy upon difficulty, and many are still recovering. However, we also see that people roll with things; we adjust and make the best of what we can. It’s been heartening, as tricky as it has been for everybody. Sure, there are also examples of people not coping well with these things, too, but on the whole, it’s been affirming. Human resilience is incredible.
People can do amazing things in a crisis. It’s surprising what we can accomplish when the opportunity presents itself. At the beginning of the pandemic, I was talking to a client who moved a 500-person call center to work from home in only 15 days. I mean, consider the logistics of that! Moreover, the impossible was happening all over the place every day. When push comes to shove, somehow we find a way to happen. Consider the scientific community and the haste with which they developed a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. We have these processes that are in place to test and maximize safety for a vaccine. In this instance, however, we needed things to happen faster, and, by golly, everyone worked together to make things happen more quickly.
The most important things are not things at all. I enjoy a wonderful life. I fly between England and the states and have all the trappings of enjoying myself. However, in the first lockdown we had, I didn’t miss stuff; I missed hugging my grandchildren. All the things are the icing on the cake. We are social animals, and we need other people. Family and friends are an essential thing in your life.
Businesses can benefit from showing empathy for customers. From the business side of things, we learned even more about the power of proper business actions in your customers’ time of need. These actions can manifest in increased accommodation, flexibility, and anticipation of what people want and will need under unusual circumstances. Many companies have bent over backward and earned a lot of goodwill from customers when they needed it. Businesses that didn’t will probably pay a long-term price for that. Also, empathy is essential within a company, too, for colleagues and teams and their burden during this time. Organizations have adapted to the new environment, bringing compassion to the fore. Some grocery stores in the UK, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s gave the relief money they received back to the government because they didn’t need it. People will remember that, and these stores will benefit from the goodwill their actions generated.
The idea of Customer Science will continue to change how we approach business. We did a podcast about Customer Science a few weeks ago, describing how the concept is the next wave of change. Customer Science is the fusion between digital technology, artificial intelligence (AI), behavioral science to increase understanding of what customers want and what they do to get it. Perhaps most importantly, Customer Science makes it easier to anticipate customers’ needs and ensure you have what they want when they want it in personalized interaction. Customer Science is where it all fits together, and it will be a massive growth area in the future. The technology exists already, but we are hitting an inflection point with several of them simultaneously. Moreover, there is a different way of thinking about customers facilitated by these new technologies and approaches. We know there’s a ton of data that we can use to analyze things and predict outcomes. Infusing what we know about the behavioral sciences and machine learning, and other AI creates this inflection point. We’re getting to the point now where there’s more experience with all of these elements and people are more confident of what’s possible with them. Also, there are more tools available so that people can seamlessly integrate the various elements into what they’re doing. It means that things might change rapidly at this point in the area of Customer Science.
Crises also present an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop yourself personally. My corporate life experience progressed from the shop floor through to a senior executive position, and then I started my own successful business. Throughout that time we had crises, many of them (although none like a global pandemic, to be sure). How did I get through it? Excellent leadership and mentorship. Furthermore, I believe in giving back with coaching for leaders that need an extra set of hands to manage the crises they face.
Finally, 2020 has taught me gratitude for you, my readers. I would like to thank you all for subscribing to this newsletter. I am hopefully coming to you with some wisdom and maybe a few jokes as well. Have a great New Year, everyone, and I look forward to talking to you next year. Cheers!
A few years ago, when speaking in Singapore, I asked my audience questions during my presentation, like I always do. To my surprise, nobody answered, and the presentation suffered for it. Later I learned that in Asia, standing up and answering a question in front of 100 people during a presentation was, from a cultural perspective, was considered rude. Now, I adapt my presentations based on where I am speaking.
It occurred to me that perhaps some of you have had something similar to your Customer Experiences in a different culture. Today, we will discuss how you can design a country’s culture into your global experience.
I have a new book called Happy Employees Make Happy Customers. To summarize it, the book is about how Customer Experience exists within an ecosystem, and policies and procedures to manage it are not enough. If you want to have great experiences, you need to look out for your employees. If employees are happier, then they will provide better experiences for your customers. To have happy employees, you need to manage stress, whether it’s yours or theirs.
That is easy to say but not easy to do. Moreover, we are living in exceptionally stressful times right now. Today, I am sharing the advice of an expert in dealing with stress that we hosted on a recent podcast.
Stress is a significant part of our lives, with or without a global pandemic. We feel pressure about our jobs, job performance, and relying on technology in new ways (and managing it) to get work done. We also have anxiety from our personal lives. Moreover, this year, we stress about COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, and the related economic fallout we all face.
Carmen Mohan, MD, FACP, is a doctor of internal medicine in the Atlanta area and founder of Hello Health, a comprehensive executive health and wellbeing program. Dr. Mohan and the team at Hello Health take care of leaders and their team and work within the intersection of health and wellness and leadership. Dr. Mohan coaches leaders and mentors about their health, as well as the health of their teams. She spoke with us about how we can manage our stress and then our teams’ stress to the best possible outcome in these difficult times.