#50 – Program management Speed Dating, Airline complaints and satisfaction, Top 30 CX books, more


Welcome to the 50th edition of my customer strategy newsletter. The five topics this week are:

  1. ‘Speed Dating’ as a critical step in program management
  2. Do complaints and on-time % correlate with satisfaction ratings for US airlines?
  3. Latest blog posts
  4. Notable items from other sites – Top CX books, and the million dollar CX question
  5. Looking forward
‘Speed Dating’ as a critical program management skill

Large improvement programs present many management challenges. The biggest issues I have seen arise when sub-teams are dependent on each other, but don’t do anything to address these dependencies. When working on the integration of HP and Compaq, one of my colleagues, Paul Maguire, came up with the Speed Dating concept. I have used it many times since then, and always found it to be helpful. Here are my views on program kickoff meetings and the Speed Dating they should include.

Ideally, you should hold your first implementation meeting face-to-face. This is particularly important in large organizations with people in multiple locations. Trust is established far more quickly when you can look someone in the eyes. If you are in a large company, I am sure you will have witnessed colleagues who freely criticize those they have never met. It is much rarer when people get to know each other. Ideally, when kicking off the set of new initiatives, you should have the project teams for all approved projects get together in a single location. The primary purpose of the first workshop is to produce the first task plan; the list of work, deliverables, resources, timing and interdependencies for each initiative. The teams should also address completion criteria and risk management and do some simple ‘speed dating’.

Speed Dating is an evocative name for an essential process. It is common that project teams identify dependencies on other teams or individuals when they write down their task plans. Surprisingly, it is also common that they never discuss the interdependencies with the people concerned. Projects then get delayed or don’t succeed. Organize simple speed dating towards the end of your kickoff workshop. Each team visits each other team purely to discuss their mutual dependencies. For example, a service center may want to improve their call handling software and depend on help from IT and procurement people to make it happen. Use printed versions of each task plan to facilitate the work. You will also find some work duplication and the short speed-dating discussion should resolve it. Use a countdown timer to signal the end of each session. Ten minutes each may be enough.

And don’t forget to have some fun.

Do complaints and on-time % correlate with satisfaction for US airlines?

I have been interested in airline satisfaction since the time, over 30 years ago, when I started to travel most weeks. There is a lot of public data in the USA, less elsewhere. The US Department of Transportation has just published its consumer report that includes data for all of 2017. I decided to correlate two of the data sets with the satisfaction data published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index people. As an added bonus, I also looked at employee satisfaction, as measured by Glassdoor ratings. The results are surprising, at least to me.

So… being on time does not matter much, apparently. The airline with the worst on-time record for all of 2017 finished with the best customer satisfaction score.

Please have a look at the correlation line. What the scores mean is that the higher the number of complaints per 100,000 passengers boarded, the worse the ACSI score is. And the higher employees rate their own satisfaction, the better the ACSI scores are too. It also seems logical that the happier the employees are, the lower the number of complaints.

I have already demonstrated scientifically (last year) that employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction do not correlate, overall and across all industries. My study also showed that there are high-touch industries where employee happiness does seem to matter. Airlines are one such industry. I would love to be able to demonstrate the relative importance of different operational data for all industries, but there are very few for which it is available. Fortunately, at least some operational data is available for airlines. Surprise: operational excellence does not seem to matter much.

As always, feel free to disagree…


Our latest blog posts

Here are the latest posts. Older posts are still available on the blog page.

image Sometimes the best process is no process at all

Continuous improvement is a common catchphrase. It is easy to believe that making every existing process more efficient should be the focus. But what about eliminating the processes altogether? Three stories from my personal experience may help make the case…

image Choosing a benchmark research provider for NPS, CSAT or any other customer experience metrics

I am trying to form my thoughts about what criteria are reasonable when deciding on a benchmark research provider. My current thinking is below. I welcome your additions and corrections.…

image Valentine’s Day classic blog – How to stay married – to your customers of course!

It was Valentine’s Day a few years ago, and I was puzzled by the results of some HP customer experience research. The data source and volume were impeccable. However, the results contradicted a lot of commonly-held beliefs about the behavior of unhappy customers in particular…

Notable customer experience items from other sites

eglobalis: Top 30 Customer Experience books

Ricardo Saltz Gulko has put together this book list. It combines what he considers to be the best books he has read in 2017 with his list of the best forthcoming books of 2018. I was pleasantly surprised to find our Customer Experience Strategy – Design and Implementation book on his list, and of course Ricardo’s own forthcoming title is also there. You can read it here.

Ian Golding: The Customer Experience Million Dollar Question: Will my customer come back

Ian often blogs about travel and hotel experiences. This time he talks about the experiences he had with his three children, as he took them to the cinema and two restaurants. Customer loyalty to your company matters, no matter what your business. Read more about Ian’s experiences here.


Looking forward

I have started to work on my now-annual research on the relationship between customer and employee satisfaction for hundreds of US businesses that sell to consumers. It should be ready four weeks from now. I think it will be just as controversial as the last time.

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, with the notable exception of Australia, where print versions are not available from amazon.com.au.

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)

Please share this newsletter with your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up for it here. I have put links to past newsletters on the subscription page. Finally, please feel free to change or cancel your subscription using the link below.

You can also email me, Maurice FitzGerald, at mfg@customerstrategy.net.

To change your subscription, click here.