#87 – Reverse-engineering CX, Customer-employee NPS, CCXP exam questions, your personal promise to customers


Let’s reverse-engineer customer experience. How about asking your employees what you should improve for customers? Welcome to the 87th edition of my customer strategy newsletter. The five topics this week are:

  1. Reverse engineer customer experience improvements
  2. How about implementing Customer-Employee NPS?
  3. Latest blog posts
  4. Notable items from other sites – Sample CCXP exam questions, personal promise to customers
  5. Looking forward

Reverse engineer customer experience improvements

As you may have seen in my blog post about customer-centric business strategy (see below), I have become intensely irritated by my observation that most companies seem far more interested in measuring satisfaction than improving it. The core work of customer experience people should be the implementation of improvements. Measurements should support this work, but they are not what customer experience leadership is about. Today, most of the work done by customer experience professionals is about measurement and reporting. While individual business and functional teams may get relevant information and work on their own improvements, this leaves a huge gap: Cross-business, cross-functional improvement work simply does not happen at all.

I believe there is a better way. Let me go further: I believe there is a better way to approach customer experience improvement work than any current methodology used by any company on the planet. My thinking on this is driven by a sales course I took in 1996. It was given by the husband-and-wife team of Mary and Michael Molloy and the book that accompanied it is called The Buck Stops Here. The principle was that you set up the sales process from the end, then worked backwards to put everything in place that you need to win. And only what you need.

Applying the principle to company-wide customer experience work would look like this:

  1. Start by getting the sponsorship, funding, and people you need to implement one to three effective improvement projects. Perhaps you would agree with your CEO and HR that the company’s development program for its best people would include such projects and that they would each last six months, with people committed half-time. If you can’t get the sponsorship and resources, well, at least you will have learned something and you can avoid bothering customers with research that won’t be used for anything. And if you are the CX leader, you will understand that you don’t have sponsorship for your work and you can look for a new job.
  2. Get agreement on how the one to three projects will be selected. Perhaps you will need to form a Customer Experience Council to make the decision and to monitor progress.
  3. Use the council to gain agreement on what data and information is needed to submit a project for approval. The council can also decide on a focus area. If you are a B2C eCommerce business, an example of a focus area might be understanding your repeat customers’ views about your company in more detail, and implementing improvements they suggest. Or perhaps you would like to get employee views about what cross-company improvements should be made for customers.
  4. Let’s suppose you have decided that the next six-month effort will be dedicated to implementing employees’ CX improvement ideas. Set up and carry out all of the necessary research. Kill off all other research you may be doing with customers and which will lead to nothing for the next six months, since you just decided you do not need it.
  5. Tell your people and your customers what you are doing.

The message to your teams would be simple: our customer-centric improvement work will be driven by specific research that will always result in improvement projects. There will be no customer research done simply to measure people. You have operational metrics for that, and don’t need to bother customers with it.

What do you think?

(I feel a book coming on.)

How about implementing Customer-Employee NPS?

Continuing one of the points made above, while customers are the best source of improvement suggestions, there is no reason they should be the only source. Why not ask your employees? On top of costing far less than customer research, you will get them engaged in improvement work and are likely to get enthusiastic volunteers.

Employees may have insights in areas that would not naturally occur to customers. One example that springs to mind happened shortly after HP set up a centralized pre-sales group in Bucharest, Romania. When the new operation started up, it would be fair to say that the people were quite passive, just doing what was asked. Sales people and resellers asked them to provide price quotations to customers, and they did that work well. Then the team supporting the Benelux noticed something. As negotiation cycles continued, sales people removed things from orders to meet a customer price point. Notably, offers for servers and storage that started with round-the-clock support services were often reduced to a cheaper business-hours-only proposal.

The Benelux team in Bucharest decided to systematically give the customers two proposals: one exactly as requested, and one with the service levels they believed the customers really needed, at a higher price. The initiative was a great success, with about half the customers taking the more appropriate service proposal at the higher price. For customers who accepted, it completely eliminated the situations where they would call during a weekend to be told that their contract did not cover the repair. A customer would never have thought of this double-proposal idea.

Using Net Promoter System methodology, a ceNPS feedback request would go to all of your employees and look like this:

  • How likely are our customers to recommend our company?
  • Why?
  • What should we improve for customers and how?

Please let me know what you think. If I could have come up with a word that started with ‘A’ for the name, I would have called it ‘aceNPS‘, which would have been nice.

Our latest blog posts

Older posts are still available on the blog page.

The nature of customer-centric strategy and why your team needs one (Intense 3-minute read)

I have been broadening my writing horizons somewhat over the last few weeks. Among others, I have contributed thoughts on customer strategy to discussion on LinkedIn, Quora and the members-only…

image Nudging customers to do what they should (2-minute read)

In their book Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein explain that people are poor at choosing among options, and can quite easily be ‘nudged’ or pushed gently to make a…

image The plural of ‘anecdote’ is ’emotion’ – You can use this for good or for evil

Some time ago I wrote a short article suggesting that the plural of the word ‘anecdote’ is not ‘science’. My point was that just because a lot of people have said something does not make it true. Let’s take this further and talk about anecdotes and emotions.

Notable customer experience items from other sites

Shep Hyken – Your personal promise to your customers

Shep always has some nice cartoons in his blog posts. His main content is about healthcare this time, though the message has far wider implications. Shep uses Dr. Neil Baum’s ten personal promises to his patients as an example for us all. I have to say that caring for elderly relatives means that I come into increasing contact with different parts of the (excellent) Swiss healthcare system. I think most doctors and clinics could benefit from a set of promises like these. It’s about a four-minute read here.

Omnitouch/Daniel Ord – 10 sample questions for the CCXP exam

I am a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). The association offers one of the few recognized customer experience exams, which results in Certified Customer Experience Professional accreditation. There are six areas involved. Daniel Ord has posted sample questions in two of the areas. The set I suggest looking at first is about customer experience strategy. Test your knowledge here.

Looking forward

Two big things will be happening over the next seven weeks. As soon as the American Customer Satisfaction Index people publish their report for retail, I will be able to complete the data analysis work for my annual study of the relationship between employee and customer satisfaction. And I am also pleased to say that I will be speaking at the CustomerGauge Monetize! event in Amsterdam. I will probably be on stage on March 13th, and expect to stay over to the 14th. I hope to meet some readers there. The event website is here.

January book sales are going well. Thank you. Here are links to all of our books on Amazon.com. Kindle versions are available in all stores. Print versions are available from the major stores only. If you have already read any of our books, please write reviews on Amazon.

Customer Experience Strategy – Design & Implementation

Net Promoter – Implement the System

Customer-centric Cost Reduction

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Color edition)

“So Happy Here”: The Absurdist but Essential Guide to Better Business (Black & White edition)

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