CX Press

There are so many great customer experience articles to read but who has the time? We summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement, starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CX-PRESS where we read the articles so you don’t need to!

Episode 83: Enhance the Experience by Making Customer Needs a Priority

Join us as we discuss why trying to enhance the experience might actually cause you to lose customers, how customers are affected after a corporate merger or acquisition, and how to make standing in line — FUN!

Groceries, Transitions, and Waiting – Oh My!

[CX Press] Is the best customer experience always the right customer experience? (SAP)

Almost everyone has experienced the nightmare of walking into their usual grocery store only to discover that everything has moved! Not only is the food arranged differently, but the signs that call out the aisle number for specific foods haven’t been updated. In this moment, the typical shopper is totally lost. In an article for our friends at SAP by Jennifer Arnold, an age-old customer experience question is explored: Is the best customer experience always the right customer experience?

While a grocery store may think and feel that it is delivering an upgrade for its customers, the customers often end up shopping elsewhere. In the example shared in this segment, a larger store meant longer time spent shopping, newly installed marble counters were less convenient than former conveyer belts, and the overall increase in prices just didn’t feel worth it.

We don’t want to make changes for change’s sake. [A]s you’re looking at your business, you’re looking at improvements that you can potentially make. Choose the ones that are actually important to your customers so that you improve their experience in the process.

Joey Coleman, co-host of Experience This! Show podcast

Before you make any changes that you see as updgades or enhancements, make sure to evaluate them from your customers’ perspective to make sure they feel the same way.

[Dissecting the Experience] How to Create a Successful Transition During a Merger

Anytime a company makes big changes, it can make a customer uncomfortable. In the case of mergers and acquisitions, the customer experience often gets overlooked. Darren Hakeman, head of corporate development and strategy at a company called 8 x 8 Inc, has walked through several acquisitions and shared some wisdom with us.

By maintaining some normality for your clients, you can alleviate concerns and anxieties that may arise from the merger or acquisition. Keeping certain aspects of your customers’ experience the same, like keeping their account managers, provides continuity in service and comfort amidst the change.

We wanted to make sure everyone stayed very focused on all the great stuff that was already in hand with this amazing customer base and continuing to take care of those customers as the team had been doing up to this point.

Darren Hakeman, Head of Corporate Development & Strategy at 8 x 8, Inc.

In any merger or acquisition it is crucial to pay attention to all of the little “experience details.” From recognizing that the people are the true acquisition, to acknowledging team member talents and concerns, to technology connections, to the overall approach to customer communications, each element needs to come together in order to make a successful transition.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: IVR Modernization

We have all had the experience with an Interactive Voice Response (or IVR) system where we call in for something, but then can’t figure out which number to push, so we just hit 0 until we find a person. Interactive Voice Response, or IVR, plays a critical role in many interactions between customers and contact centers. When executed properly, an IVR system can streamline a customer’s interactions and improve their perception of the experience. Done improperly, an IVR can lead to additional customer and employee frustration, cause unnecessary confusion, and negatively impact customer relationships.

To be effective, your IVR system must be:

  • Intuitive and easy to use
  • Clear and comprehensible by the customer (not just your internal team)
  • Consistent in options and call routing
  • Integrated with multiple departments and technologies
  • Properly supported by knowledgeable agents (during interactions) and technicians (for ongoing maintenance and improvement)

Start the conversation with this question: Does our IVR system meet the needs and expectations of our customers?

To continue the conversation, go to: experienceconversations.com.

[This Just Happened] Making the Most of the Line

One of the most overlooked customer experiences is the line. Everyone has to stand in line. How fast, how efficient, and how well organized that line is, can make a huge difference in a customer experience. For example, on a recent trip, Joey had to stand in three lines for one breakfast sandwich! One to order, a longer one to pay (because different restaurants were all using the same cash registers?!) and another to pick up his sandwich! This ridiculous, time consuming system resulted in a negative customer experience and was so “remarkable” that Joey wanted to discuss it on the show.

Compare this “line” experience to another one Joey had recently. While on a different trip, Joey’s friend encouraged him to visit an ice cream shop. The line wrapped around the corner, but the friend insisted it was worth the wait. The shop, Salt and Straw, moved the line so quickly that it felt like you were walking in a line instead of standing in one. The store paired this efficient system with a cheery employee at the front door saying, “You’re almost there” and bringing a touch of humor to the wait. Once inside, the ice cream shop had stories of their history, mission, values, and standards strategically placed on the walls and surrounding shelves – conveniently persuading customers about the value of the experience before they even trying the product. The ice cream was delicious, but long after the taste faded, the story and experience remained.

While lines cannot always be avoided, it is always possible to work at making the wait a positive experience for your customers.  Tell your story, share your commitment, entice intrigue, educate, entertain, and before you know it, people will happily stand in line to sample your products and services.

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Email Dan: Dan@dangingiss.com

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

Subscribe to Experience This on Apple Podcasts

Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 83 here or read it below:

Dan Gingiss: Welcome to Experience This.

Joey Coleman: Where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Dan Gingiss: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining, customer retention expert Joey Coleman.

Joey Coleman: And social media expert Dan Gingiss, serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: So hold onto your headphones. It’s time to experience this.

Joey Coleman: Get ready for another episode of the Experience This Show.

Dan Gingiss: Join us as we discuss why trying to enhance the experience might actually lose you customers, how customers are affected after a corporate merger or acquisition and how to make standing in line fun.

Joey Coleman: Groceries, transitions and waiting. Oh my.

CX PRESS: Grocery Store: Is the best customer experience always the right customer experience? (SAP)

Joey Coleman:  There are so many great customer experience articles to read, but who has the time we summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CXPRESS where we read the articles so you don’t need to.

This week’s CXPRESS comes to us from our friends at SAP customer experience and can be found on their website the Future Of Commerce. The article was written by Jennifer Arnold and it asks the question, is the best customer experience always the right customer experience? Jennifer reminds readers that, “When planning for the best customer experience, don’t forget the customer.”

Dan Gingiss: Well hell, I’d say that’s right on so far.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, I agree. Jennifer details’ how her local grocery store has completely remodeled and as she writes, gone all fancy polished floors, marble checkout counters, floor to ceiling windows, cappuccino machines, and the store is three times bigger than the old one. The only problem Jennifer and her friends now shop somewhere else.

Dan Gingiss: Oh no. What happened?

Joey Coleman: Well, for Jennifer and for her friends, the main benefit of the local grocery store prior to the remodeling was convenience. Jennifer observes that pre renovation I could whip through and tick everything off my weekly shopping list in 15 minutes flat. Post renovation the trip takes nearly twice as long. What’s worse? Those fancy marble checkouts are actually less efficient than the old conveyor belt. And of course prices have gone up through out the store.

Dan Gingiss: Ah, yes. The old, “We’re making enhancements we think you’re really going to like even though we don’t know you, haven’t you and are really only doing this because we think it’ll make us more money situation.” Followed by the, “And we’re going to raise prices to pay for the improvements.”

Joey Coleman: That’s basically the way this goes Dan. It seems like you’re familiar with this story. But what could the store have done instead to keep Jennifer as a customer? The answer they needed to understand their customer’s expectations, listen so as to understand not just what they were doing but how they were feeling and not try to be something that they’re not. As Jennifer Warren said in the article, “Only by understanding what your customers truly prioritize in the experiences they have with your brand can you then prioritize what customer experience enhancements will return the biggest bang for your buck and what to do to keep your customers loyal.”

Dan Gingiss: You know, I really could relate to this article because the same thing happened to me at my local grocery store.

Joey Coleman: Really?

Dan Gingiss: And one of the things that they did, I could not understand this, is they changed the location of almost every product in the store.

Joey Coleman: Isn’t that great when you’re like, “So you’ve conditioned me to know exactly where the things are I want, and I came today and it’s opposite day. Everything’s in a different location.”

Dan Gingiss: The funny thing was in some aisles, they literally just switched the sides of the aisle. So there was one aisle where one side was all the cereal and the other side was all the other breakfast stuff like oatmeal and granola bars and stuff. And I showed up one day and they had just switched to the sides and I couldn’t figure out why there were. There was no benefit that I could see. And all it did was confuse me. And so now I used to know where the bread is and now I’ve got to look all over for it, et cetera. And the interesting thing for me and the reason I stopped doing business with this particular grocery store was because the things that I didn’t like about it were not improved at all with the refurbishing of the store. So for example, the thing that bothers me the most is I have to check my receipt every single time because I would say at least half the time there’s a mistake on my receipt. There’s a sale item that I didn’t get the sale price.

Joey Coleman: Wait, there’s a mistake on the receipt, meaning … Okay.

Dan Gingiss: Like they charged me the wrong thing. Like there’s a sale item of buy one get one free and so I got two but they charged me for two instead of for one or whatever. There’s always something wrong. I bought one kind of apple and they charged me for the more expensive apple because the cashier typed in the wrong code. It literally happened every other time I was there.

Joey Coleman: Dan Gingiss pays attention to his grocery store receipts. We’re learning a lot here, ladies and gentlemen. I’m learning new things I didn’t know about Dan and I’ve known him for years.

Dan Gingiss: Dan Gingiss is the grocery shopper in the household. Fun fact, I actually like grocery shopping so I have not yet moved to mail order groceries or anything like that because I enjoy going to the grocery store. But the other thing that I didn’t like about this grocery store is I’d go into the produce section and there were no prices anywhere and I called over a guy and said-

Joey Coleman: The old, “Hey, yeah, we’ve got it. Just guess how much it’s going to cost. You’ll find out when you check out.”

Dan Gingiss: I remember grabbing a guy once and saying, “Well, how much are these peaches? And he said, “Oh, well they’re 2.99 a pound.” I said, “And how am I supposed to know that?” “Oh well there’s a sign there.” I said, “Really? Come show me where the sign is.” And he walks over. He goes, “Oh, Oh yeah, somebody must’ve moved the sign.” Yeah, well don’t expect me to-

Joey Coleman: Did they move it to the banana section or like-

Dan Gingiss: Who moved my sign?

Joey Coleman: Yeah, exactly.

Dan Gingiss: But I mean, how do you expect me to buy peaches when I don’t know how much they cost? This is pretty simple. And anyway, long story short, my grocery store also went through this big change where they made things a little fancy or whatever, but they didn’t fix any of the core problems. And finally I had had enough, I actually had to get myself to stop looking at the circular because every time I got the circular I’d be like, “Oh, grapes are on sale. I’m going to go there.” And it would draw me in. And so I’ve learned, I trained myself to just recycle the circular so that I don’t get teased by it. And I’m now going to a different grocery store that isn’t as fancy, but that the prices are always right. I don’t have to be worried about the receipt. I can find right produce and the right price and it’s just easier for me.

And so last thing I want to say on this is that Jennifer points to the word convenience. And as you may remember last season we talked about our mutual friend Shep Hyken’s book, The Convenience Revolution. This is absolutely something that people are looking for today. And so as you make changes you should be looking to make them more convenient, not less. And taking a grocery store where everybody knows the layout and the map of the place and completely shuffling everything is an inconvenience. Not an added convenience.

Joey Coleman: I have to admit Dan. Two things. Number one, I’m often left wondering when grocery stores move everything around why they did it. So we had a similar thing in our grocery store recently and I don’t know. I’m sure there’s science behind this and maybe you know the answer to this question. The little board that hangs above the aisles that tells you where things are and it has maybe 50 things listed in their aisle that is completely wrong now. Completely wrong cause it’s the old board. I would have thought that one of the first things you do when you move everything is fix the map to your store, which is basically the board that lists out all the items.

The other day I spent what must have been a good 20 minutes trying to find olives. I had no idea where they were. I’m looking all over. I’m trying to find them. The board says they’re an aisle 11, I go to aisle 11, it’s toilet paper. I’m like, “Olives are definitely not in this aisle. Something has been moved.” I’m looking all over and no one in the store … The staff didn’t know where things are.

So I agree with you. This really is a question of convenience. The second thing again, I want to reiterate, wow, Dan Gingiss has some interesting behaviors around grocery stores. I love it. I have actually … our family, we’ve started to migrate a little bit more towards the convenience of fact of having the groceries brought to the house cause we live in town now. It’s closer to the grocery store and it’s really much easier to do it that way because neither my wife or I super love going to the grocery store, but a lot of people do. And so what are you doing when it comes to convenience? I think the takeaway here is we don’t want to make changes for changes sake. So as you’re looking at your business, you’re looking at improvements that you that you can potentially make. Choose the ones that are actually important to your customers so that you improve their experience in the process

Dan Gingiss: And for more great customer experience content, please visit our friends at SAP customer experience either on Twitter ,if you’re so inclined to Joey, @SAP_CX or at their website at www.the-future-of-commerce.com. So that website again is The Future Of Commerce with hyphens between each of the words.

DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE – Post merger or acquisition

Joey Coleman: Sometimes a remarkable experience deserves deeper investigation. We dive into the nitty gritty of customer interactions and dissect how and why they happen. Join us while we’re dissecting the experience.

Dan Gingiss: Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Darren Hakeman, the head of corporate development and strategy for 8×8 A cloud based contact center solution that includes voice, video and chat. 8×8 has made several acquisitions of other companies over the years, and Darren was discussing the customer experience elements that must be considered in such a transaction. I’m going to share some of his comments here.

Darren Hakeman: Yeah, so, so I think one of the really important things is that a company understands why they’re making the acquisition and especially in the tech space. There’s a variety of reasons for pursuing different things. It could be specifically about acquiring a talent or team. It can be about acquiring a product or technology or in the best case, it’s about acquiring all those things, plus the solid and growing customer base.

Dan Gingiss: I then asked him, which has had more of an effect on the customer experience for his existing clients after an acquisition, the technology they acquired or the people, and he said, “Definitely the people.”

Joey Coleman: You know, it’s so funny. It’s always, always the people, but when you think of a corporate acquisition, you usually think of the product or technology being acquired. In fact, that’s usually what is touted in the press releases and the marketing and sales speak. It’s not, “Oh wait, we’ve added a bunch of quality team members to work on your project or your account or your service that we’re delivering.” Instead it’s, “We’ve got this really cool new technology that’s going to make it faster and louder and sleeker than ever before.” Folks, it’s not about the technology, it’s about the people.

Dan Gingiss: I then asked Darren what the top priorities should be when making an acquisition.

Darren Hakeman: We had to make it really clear across the board, priority number one was about taking care of the existing customers and growing the existing business. Very often everyone gets very excited about a new acquisition and all the possibilities and what … We wanted to make sure everyone stayed very focused on all the great stuff that was already in hand and this amazing customer base and continuing to take care of those customers as, as the team had been doing up to this.

Dan Gingiss: Darren went on to say that customers tend to be uncomfortable with change and they really hate uncertainty, so it’s very important to communicate to customers on both sides of the transaction very quickly. Letting them know what’s happening and that things won’t be changing dramatically on day one. Importantly, he also said that, “There is a concerted effort to keep clients with the same account manager so that the human relationship stays intact.”

Joey Coleman: I love this for so many reasons. First and foremost, pace yourselves. Humans don’t like change and I understand there might be legal or regulatory or financial reasons why you want the acquisition to close quickly, but lots of times that energy and that excitement and the anticipation around closing the deal spills over into the first few days of onboarding the new clients and everybody feels rushed. As a general rule, human beings don’t like change. They get nervous, they get anxious. This is going to be something new. It’s something that they’re unsure of. It brings back all the doubt and all the buyer’s remorse that they had when they originally decided to do business with you. What I love about Darren’s philosophy is that they focus on keeping a common point of contact, the same account manager, so that even though that account manager may have a different brand name on their business card, they may even report to a different office or have a different email. It’s the same person because at the end of the day, even in a B2B environment, people don’t do business with a business. People do business with people.

Dan Gingiss: I would say especially in a B2B environment. And I think one of the things that B2B companies often mess up is they use the salesperson to get the sale. And why does somebody buy? Because they like the salesperson because there’s a human connection. And then the first thing that happens when they sign the contract, they yank the salesperson away so he can go sell to somebody else.

Joey Coleman: And you’ll never see the sales person again. I mean literally you will never see the salesperson again.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. You get handed off to a brand new account team and you have to start over from square one creating that doubt that buyer’s remorse. So I think in a merger and acquisition transaction, this becomes even more important because the whole company name might be changing, the branding might be changing and customers are going to be nervous about this, but if they see that they’re working with the same person, it’s going to make them a lot more comfortable. Finally, I asked Darren, what are some of the key things that companies need to think about from a customer experience perspective when they enter into an M and A or merger and acquisition transaction? Here’s his answer.

Darren Hakeman: So as companies enter into an M and A transaction, they really need to be focused on the customer experience and ensuring that they’re ready to designate that as a priority. Because if it isn’t, you know, doing an acquisition is extremely difficult and there are a lot that draw the attention in time of employees on both sides. If you’re not really focused on that so absolutely critical that customer experience gets drawn out as a top priority, if not the number one priority. And it’s something that needs to be repeated day in and day out. As your integration teams start to come together from both sides, they’re going to be delving into the details of IT systems and the HR policies and accounting procedures.

And so without the daily mantra of take care of the customers, it can very easily be forgotten and to the team being acquired, but also to the acquiring team that may not have a full perspective of the challenges on the time of all the people in the new organization because it’s typically a … And they’re running 120 miles an hour and so both sides need to be cognizant of this. It’s really important, as you bring a new acquisition and that you … The new team, that key part of their value is their customers and what they’ve been doing to make those customers so happy along as something they need to keep, keep pushing and their number one job and the rest will take care of itself.

Joey Coleman: The takeaway here is that when companies go through a merger or an acquisition, everything must come together. The products and the services, the employees, HR and finance and legal departments and the customers. Done right, the combination of two companies can have benefits for everyone involved, but it’s critical to ensure that customer relationships don’t fall through the cracks while everyone is paying attention on how to get the technology to line up.

START THE CONVERSATION: Avtex, IVR Modernization

Joey Coleman:  Sometimes all it takes is a single question to get your company thinking about an improved customer experience. Here’s an idea for how you can start the conversation.

Dan Gingiss: This week’s start the conversation topic is IVR modernization. Interactive voice response or IVR plays a critical role in many of today’s interactions between customers and a brand’s context. Center executed properly and IVR system can greatly streamline a customer’s interaction and improve their perception of the experience, but done improperly and IVR can lead to additional customer and employee frustration. Think pounding zero with your finger over and over and over again. Can cause unnecessary confusion and negatively impact customer relationships.

Joey Coleman: In order to be effective, your IVR system must do the following things. Number one, be intuitive and easy to use. Number two, be clear and comprehensible by the customer, not your internal team who wrote the IVR. Number three, be consistent in options and call routing. Don’t make me press eight this time and press four next time. Number four, be integrated with multiple departments and technologies and number five, be properly supported by knowledgeable agents during the interactions and technicians for ongoing maintenance and improvement.

Dan Gingiss: So I’m going to share something here that you may not know, Joey, because it really doesn’t apply to our generation. There actually is a big part of the population that likes interacting with the interactive voice response system. We all think of it as being a pain in the neck, in the credit card industry, almost always the first choice to press one is to hear your balance. That’s because it’s usually the number one reason why people call and many people, many, many people hit one, hear their balance and hang up. So it actually prevents having to talk to an agent. That’s when an IVR works well. When it doesn’t work well is when the menu items have changed because they’ve always changed.

Joey Coleman: They’re always changing, always.

Dan Gingiss: And we listened to nine choices and we can’t figure out which one is actually what we’re calling about. So we hit zero and I’m sorry there’s nobody available to talk to you and we get into this mess where we feel like we’re not being heard.

Joey Coleman: I absolutely agree and I think it also is the ones where you call in and there’s a limited number of things you can do. Like press one to change your flight, press two to hear the weather report, press three to see how much baggage fees are. And you’re like, “No, I wanted to find out if there was even a trip that I could take, wanted to book a flight or whatever.” It’s not even one of the options and instead I’m left pounding zero. But regardless, I think it’s time for this week’s question about IVR modernization. Does our IVR system meet the needs and expectations of our customers? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with AV Techs at experienceconversations.com. That’s www.experienceconversations.com

THIS JUST HAPPENED: Making the Most of the Line

Joey Coleman: We love telling stories and sharing key insights you can implement or avoid based on our experiences. Can you believe that this just happened?

Dan? I think I may have determined the most overlooked customer experience at the typical retail establishment.

Dan Gingiss: I don’t know Joey. There are so many.

Joey Coleman: Fair enough, fair enough. But this is one that I actually experience on a pretty regular basis that I think is a hot topic for discussion. What I’m talking about is the line. All too often companies make their customers stand in line. Want to place an order? Stand in line. Want to pick up your order? Stand in line. Want to pay for your order? Stand in line. Lines, lines, lines. They seem to be everywhere when you go into a brick and mortar establishment and in many ways I wonder if lines are partially the cause for the shift to more people shopping online, but I digress.

Dan Gingiss: This seems to be a topic that you’re pretty worked up about Joey.

Joey Coleman: To be honest, I am because for a couple of reasons. Number one, I think it is a super easy thing to fix and I think it’s something that most businesses are paying zero attention to. But to be honest, why I’m a little hyped up about it today is because in the last week I had what may have been my worst and my best line experiences in recent memory.

Dan Gingiss: I always like to end with the good news. So let’s start with the worst and then we can feel a sense of progress when you get to the best.

Joey Coleman: I like it. I like it. So picture the scene. I’m flying to Halifax, Canada, and I get stranded in LaGuardia overnight.

Dan Gingiss: Not my favorite place to be stranded.

Joey Coleman: Oh my goodness. I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. Absolutely not the place to be stranded. I ended up needing to get a hotel. I need to come back the next morning for an early morning flight.

It has messed up my entire schedule. I get to the airport. I wasn’t able to eat dinner the night before and I’d like to get some breakfast. So I’m waiting in line to get my breakfast sandwich. I get to the front of the line and I placed my order and the gentleman there hands me a little slip of paper that says my order on it and says, “Now you have to go pay for this. I said, “Okay.” And I looked to my left and my right thinking, well of course I’ll just shift over and pay right here. Au contraire, mon frère. Instead I was sent back about 40 feet to a line that looked like it ran from LaGuardia through JFK to somewhere near Montreal. Okay. And I go and I stand in this line. Now this line, snakes along the front of four or five different eating establishments that are all using the same bank of three cash registers.

Now this probably makes sense to the business because they own all of the eating establishment, but as the person eating this makes zero sense. So I stand in this line and I get closer and I get closer and I get closer and I finally pay to which the individual hands me another receipt showing that I had paid and encourages me to go back to where I ordered my breakfast sandwich to then get in line to pick up my breakfast sandwich. It was madness. No one knew what was going on. The customers were frustrated. The employees seem frustrated, but as of course, they’re all having to explain this ridiculous line set up to every new customer and Oh, by the way, did I mention that this was at an airport? So guess what? There’s pretty much new customers every single minute of every single day.

Dan Gingiss: Well, first of all, this sounds exactly like LaGuardia to me. If you had said, “What airport do you think this is?”

Joey Coleman: That’s what it should’ve been? It should’ve been a guess this airport episode.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. However, if you are asking me to guess, just fun fact, you would have had to describe this a little bit differently because you may or may not know, but in New York they don’t stand in line.

Joey Coleman: Oh, excuse me.

Dan Gingiss: They stand on line.

Joey Coleman: You are correct. My friend. I did misspeak. I was in New York so I was standing on line.

Dan Gingiss: So that sounds like a pretty ridiculous experience. I feel your pain. Let’s get to the good experience though. What did that one look like?

Joey Coleman: All right, let me take some deep breaths here, calm down a little bit. So during this same week, I also had the chance to travel to the other side of the United States to California. I led a private workshop for a group of business owners and after it ended, I met up with my good friend, Clay, Abear. We had dinner and I was going to fly out the next morning.

Well after dinner, clay suggested that we grabbed some ice cream at his favorite ice cream shop, Salt and Straw.

Dan Gingiss: That’s a curious name for an ice cream place.

Joey Coleman: I have to admit, I too was intrigued and so I actually asked why it was named Salt And Straw. And as it turns out, they chose the name because their ice cream is handmade in small batches. The way they used to make ice cream back in the day. Ice cream was made by using rock salt to make it freeze and then it was packed in straw to keep it cold, hence Salt and Straw. And what I realized after seeing the name and experiencing the line at this store, it became very clear that they are all about thinking through the customer experience at every step along the way.

Dan Gingiss: I see what you did there.

Joey Coleman: You like that?

Dan Gingiss: It’s a line. You said steps.

Joey Coleman: We tried to keep this exciting for you folks. All right, I’m glad you caught it. So here’s what happened at Salt and Straw. When we walked up, there was a line that went down the street and around the corner. Now it was not as long as the line in LaGuardia, but it wasn’t that much shorter. I mean it was probably three quarters of the length of the line from LaGuardia. So it was really long.

Dan Gingiss: And usually when I see a lot of this going down the street and around the corner, I just keep walking around the corner.

Joey Coleman: Me too. It’s like, you know what? Life is too short. I’m not going to wait in line and I admit I was skeptical, but my buddy Clay was like, “Joey, this is worth it. We’re going to stand in line.” Because now we were on the West coast so we were in line and as usual Clay was so right.

First of all, the line moved very quickly. It wasn’t as much that you were standing in line as you were walking in a line. Okay. Second, as you approached the door to the ice cream shop, there was a Salt and Straw employee there with a big smile welcoming everyone in and telling them, You’re getting close.” They brought a little humor to it.

Dan Gingiss: I like it.

Joey Coleman: And this the line snaked through the store cause there was a line inside the store as well. There were signs on the walls and on the shelves that told the story of Salt and Straw, their commitment to quality ingredients. The fact that at each of their seven West coast locations, they have at least one custom flavor, that you can only get in that store. The reason they like to be part of the local food community, it was amazing. So as I’m working my way up to order my ice cream, I’m being sold on the history and the story and the mission and the values of this ice cream shop. And with each shift forward in the line, I was able to read more about the story and get more excited about their commitment.

Dan Gingiss: Well thanks a lot Joey, because now I’m hungry for ice cream.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, sadly I did not bring samples to our recording session. But guess what? When I finally got to taste the ice cream, it was delicious and any memories of needing to wait in line faded faster than I could eat the ice cream. Interestingly enough, though, the story of Salt and Straw stayed with me long after the flavors of the ice cream had faded. By making the most of my time in line. Salt and Straw sold me on their story, their commitment and their reason for being in business. I became a fan while I waited – something that is completely contrary to the emotions one usually feels when waiting in line to purchase, pick up or pay for something.

Now, let’s be candid. I’ll fully acknowledge that businesses can’t always eliminate the weight or the lines associated with using or experiencing their offerings. What they can do is make waiting in line an experience in and of itself. Tell your story, share your commitment, entice intrigue, educate, entertain, and before you know it, people will be standing in line and won’t mind one bit.

Wow. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to magazines and books to read reality TV to watch. We don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to experiencethisshow.com and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about experience and we want you to be part of The Experience This show. Thanks again for your time and we’ll see you next week for more Experience …

Dan Gingiss: This.


Episode 82: Make Sure Your Experiences are Accessible to ALL of Your Customers

 Join us as we discuss a restaurant designed to create an inclusive experience, the challenges of becoming an older customer, and how healthcare if failing the customers that need it most.

Pizzability, Usability, and Adaptability – Oh My!

[ExperienceThis! Live] Serving Up Remarkable Experiences and Great Pizza to An Inclusive Audience

Restaurants can be challenging for some individuals to navigate. From families with young children, to those with disabilities, finding a place to eat that would be considered “inclusive” can be difficult. Inclusive options aren’t just rare for customers – they are rare for prospective employees with intellectual and physical disabilities. Joey recently had the pleasure of experiencing an amazing restaurant in Denver, CO, called Pizzability. Pizzability was founded by Tiffany Fixter, a special needs teacher who saw a significant gap in the marketplace for training and employing people with disabilities. Her solution? Pizzability – a restaurant offering a “slice of community’ by employing individuals with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. To bring things full circle, the restaurant also sources their toppings from a local farm that employs people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities.

Each day, the restaurant is filled with people of all abilities, races, genders, and various walks of life. Pizzability provides special silverware for guests who may have trouble holding a utensil, noise-cancelling headphones for those who may struggle with a loud, busy atmosphere, and textured placemats for those who benefit from tactile surfaces.

My time at Pizzability was incredibly eye-opening about ways that customer-centric design can anticipate the needs of the many different types of customers that might come into your business.

Joey Coleman, co-host of the ExperienceThis! Show podcast

Not every business will make the commitment to implement all of the measures that Pizzability did, but there are benefits for every business making the time to consider ways to be more customer-centric in their design, operation, and offerings.

[CX Press] The World is Designed Against the Elderly

Average life expectancy continues to grow with women now expected to live until 81.1 years and men until 78.6 years. While improvements in overall life expectancy is certainly a positive thing, there are some problems that come with these changes. Don Norman, former VP of Apple and celebrated author, wrote an article in Fast Company magazine titled, “I Wrote the Book on User Friendly Design. What I see Today Terrifies Me.” As an expert on design, Norman observes that nothing is user-friendly for the elderly: fonts are too small, walking devices are ugly, and captions take up too much room on the TV – blocking important visual content with important text content.

The number of active, healthy oldsters is large – and increasing. We are not a niche market. And businesses should take note: We are good customers often with more free time and discretionary income than younger people.

Don Norman, author of Design of Everyday Things

Don challenges every in business to examine their product and service offerings. Are they user friendly for the older population? Create a focus group of people over 65 years old, and see if they can easily use your products and services. If your offerings are less usable as your customers get older, you’re missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Design Thinking

Design thinking is critical to creating a successful customer experience. Many companies struggle with creating new designs, and instead, default to only fixing their broken designs. In order to create a memorable customer experience, you must design experiences with an intentional focus of the customer’s viewpoint.

What exactly is design thinking? Here are three key components:

  1. Explore innovative ideas and solutions beyond what you think may be currently possible.
  2. Empathize with customers, keeping their needs and point of view at the forefront throughout the design process.
  3. Create experiences that address customer needs and expectations first, and business needs and goals second.

By designing experiences with intentionality, you begin to build empathy and connection with the people you serve. Start the conversation with this question: Is my organization actively engaging in design thinking?

To continue the conversation, go to: experienceconversations.com.

[Dissecting the Experience] The Healthcare System is Failing Seniors

Dan recently wrote a series of articles for Forbes and in the last one, Why An Aging Population Means Healthcare Customer Experience Must Adapt , he confronts the fact that it is absolutely necessary to start taking the needs of the aging population into consideration.

Healthcare is obviously not alone… [t]he aging population in the United States will be the largest of all time, and the 50 plus cohort controls 70% of consumer discretionary spending. Designing for seniors is no longer optional. It’s now a core responsibility for nearly every company, in every industry.

Dan Gingiss, co-host of the ExperienceThis! Show podcast

Treating people as intelligent humans worthy of respect will go a long way towards building trust with your customers. We must begin considering all of our customers, especially the aging, when designing customer interactions. By paying attention to the needs of the elderly, we build organizational empathy and show customer compassion – both of which will ultimately lead to an enhanced overall customer experience.

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Email Dan: Dan@dangingiss.com

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

Subscribe to Experience This on Apple Podcasts

Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 82 here or read it below:

Dan Gingiss: Welcome to Experience This.

Joey Coleman: Where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service, and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Dan Gingiss: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining, customer retention expert Joey Coleman.

Joey Coleman: And social media expert Dan Gingiss serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: So hold onto your headphones. It’s time to Experience This. Get ready for another episode of the Experience This show.

Joey Coleman: Join us as we discuss a restaurant designed to create an inclusive experience, the challenges of becoming an older customer, and how healthcare is failing the customers that need it most.

Dan Gingiss: Pizzability, usability, and adaptability. Oh my.

ET LIVE: Pizzability

Joey Coleman: Sometimes we need to get out of the recording studio and experience things in person. Get ready to feel like you’re standing right next to us as you Experience This live.

Not too long ago, I heard about a restaurant concept that so piqued my interest I had to go check it out for myself. The restaurant is based in Denver, Colorado, and is called Pizzability. Pizzability is a pizzeria completely staffed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was founded by Tiffany Fixter, a special needs teacher who saw a need for jobs and training for adults with disabilities. Not only does Pizzability provide job training and skill development that will translate into future job opportunities for their employees, they also make a pretty delicious pizza as well.

In fact, they’ve taken their philosophy and applied it to all aspects of their business. They work with a Colorado farm that employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to provide produce for toppings. They’re constantly on the lookout for other vendors and suppliers that have a similar commitment to working with individuals who have disabilities.

Given that I live just up the road in Boulder, Colorado, I decided to take a little road trip to Denver and asked my good friend Nick Hemmert to join me for lunch at Pizzability. What follows is a recording of the conversation that we had while we were in the restaurant waiting for our order to be prepared.

Pizzability is a fascinating restaurant in Denver, Colorado in that the staff all have disabilities. The restaurant was designed to create a place where folks who had disabilities could actually come to work. As I’ve walked into Pizzability on a Friday afternoon at about 12:30 for lunch, the restaurant is absolutely packed. Packed to the gills. It’s almost standing room only.

What’s really fascinating to me and my buddy Nick Hemmert, who I’m sitting here talking with and we’re having lunch, is the fact that in many ways the customers are the staff and the staff are the customers. You were saying something about that, Nick.

Nick Hemmert: Yeah. What I appreciate about what I’m seeing here with 30 to 40 people that are literally standing, [crosstalk 00:03:41] finish their lunch and they’re just hanging around socializing. It’s a place for them to be able to do that at lunchtime.

Whereas, you just hear another person just get excited here a second ago. That’s accepting for this place. I think if they went to another restaurant for the traditional lunch on Friday, I don’t think they’d be able to have socialized time. Even if it was a coffee shop or a place that would be more socially acceptable.

I think it’s really great just to see that there are people of all different abilities here for lunch, not just those with unique abilities, with all abilities, having conversations and being able to be themselves.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, there’s so many things about the restaurant that are incredibly thoughtful and clearly show that a lot of consideration has gone in not only to the customer experience but to the employee experience.

For example, when we walked up to order our menu was a single sheet of paper that had photos of the different types of pizza you can get. You circle the photo of the type of pizza that you want and then whether you want a single slice or a full pizza and then you write your name at the bottom. What becomes very apparent very quickly is that regardless of someone’s ability to maybe read or speak English, they’re able to look at the pictures and know exactly what you want. I’ll include some photos in the show notes, not only of the menu, but also of the recipes for the different pizzas are listed above the pizza preparation area. So it becomes very clear that anyone, just by looking at the pictures, is going to be able to build out the various recipes for the pizza that folks would order.

They also give us two little tickets for the gelato. This restaurant, Pizzability, serves pizza, they have drinks, and they have gelato for dessert. We got two tickets for gelato, which the staff person who gave them to me shared that the reason they give out the tickets is then when we come up, all we have to do is exchange a ticket and their staff know that one ticket is good for one scoop of gelato. It’s a great way to not only have some efficiency and how quickly they can turn tables, something that most restaurants pay attention to, but it really allows anyone on the other side of the counter, the staff member, to be able to take the order and process the order regardless of what their abilities may or may not be.

Nick Hemmert: The other thing I’m noticing too is the variety of different areas that they’ve created for people to sit. They have outdoor furniture. We’re sitting at a table that’s not the traditional outdoor table with an umbrella underneath it. Inside they have a traditional restaurant setting where they have small tables for two, tables for groups, they also have a bar where people can sit and actually watch the pizza being made or checkout the environment that’s going on.

Someone just came in with a dog mat and set it down next to their spot at the bar for their dog to just enjoy the environment as well.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. I think what the thing that is most amazing to me is, I don’t know the last time I ate at a restaurant where the customer base was as diverse as it is here. Just based on observations, you pretty much can see folks of all races, all genders, it appears to be all walks of life if one were to just base an observation based on dress or where people are at, and the entire space has a very fun, inclusive, open feel to it.

What’s interesting is the doors to the restaurant, we’re sitting outside, the doors to the restaurant are propped open and it appears, again not entirely sure. They’ve got a garage door on one side that’s up and on this side of the restaurant are regular just double doors, but they’re propped open and I get the feeling based on looking at the ground and where their prop is, that they’re propped open all day, every day.

So unlike a typical restaurant, where lots of times even opening a door could be a challenge for someone depending on some physical challenges they may have, here you can roll in, you can walk in, you can just enter the space without any encumbrances and be right up to the bar, placing your order, right up to the counter, placing your order.

It’s got a great energy and a great vibe to it. I think so many businesses, so many restaurants, try to create a theme or a vibe. If I had I had to describe the vibe of Pizzability in one word, it’s inclusive.

Nick Hemmert: I agree.

Joey Coleman: Fantastic place. If you get the chance, highly recommend come to Denver, Colorado, come to Pizzability, you won’t be disappointed. There are some great lessons that we can take away that Dan and I are going to talk more about.

But thanks for joining us for an experience live and thanks to Nick for letting us record our conversation. Thanks so much.

Nick Hemmert: Thanks for having us.

Dan Gingiss: Wow. This sounds like an absolutely amazing place, Joey. I’m so glad that you found it because it’s just a perfect example of something that we like to share on this show. I’m reminded back in episode 42 where we talked about the Starbucks outside of DC, right near Gallaudet University that committed to having an entire store filled with employees that could speak sign language and that the store was a lot quieter than other stores because of that.

But I think this is such a great idea on so many fronts. I think it, number one, I love the fact that it is providing job opportunities and skill development. Number two, I think it’s providing for customers. I think some exposure to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the fact that they can work regular jobs, and that they can be a contributing part of society, I think it’s probably a MythBuster in a lot of ways for consumers.

Obviously because it is a restaurant, you did mention that they have delicious pizza too. And I think that’s really important, because I don’t think this experiment would work if the food wasn’t good.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. I think if the food wasn’t good you’d go once to say that you did it, or to say that you supported the cause, but it wouldn’t keep you coming back for more. And I have to tell you I was surprised not only at the inclusiveness of the restaurant, but the way they had everything set up. The pizza was great, the gelato was great. This is a place that I absolutely will go back to again. I also find myself thinking that when I have clients or friends come to Denver, I want to take them there because I think it’s so beautifully illustrates inclusive design and being conscious of the fact that you may have customers that are different than you and what can you do to design your business for that?

Dan Gingiss: It’s just if I can jump in. When I worked, particularly at Discover, also at Humana on the websites, a lot of the work is having to develop features and functionalities that are based on the rules outlined in the American Disabilities Act, that requires certain ways of consuming. What I found over time is that almost everything that we “had” to do, that the lawyers say, “Well, you have to do this to be in compliance with ADA,” ended up creating a better experience for everyone. Because it’s making things often simpler to read, or easier to manually click on, or whatever it is, whatever disability you’re trying to address, it actually makes the whole experience for smoother for everyone.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely, and I think what was fascinating is after we finished recording, I was in the restaurant walking around and I noticed some other things that I hadn’t noticed the first time when we walked in. The restaurant has a menu of adaptive utensils. They have special utensils designed for different types of customers, including easy hold utensils that strap to your hand, for people that struggle to maintain grip strength, they have bendable utensils that have an adjustable head to make it easier to move the food to your mouth, and they have weighted utensils that help reduce spilled food caused by shaking hands.

Pizzability also had a wall filled with items to assist those dealing with sensory challenges, including a half dozen pairs of noise canceling headphones and textured mats for guests that benefit from tactile stimulation.

In short, my time at pizzability was incredibly eye-opening about the ways that customer centric design can anticipate the needs of many different types of customers that might come into your business.

Now, let’s be honest, not every business is going to be specifically designed to be as open and inclusive as Pizzability. That being said, there are dozens of little things you can do to make the people that purchase your products and services feel more comfortable, more considered, and more valued.

Dan Gingiss: If you want to see photos of Pizzability, their creative menu solution, and some of the other experience enhancing features that we spoke about in this segment, check out the show notes at experiencethisshow.com

CX PRESS: The World is Designed Against the Elderly

Joey Coleman: There are so many great customer experience articles to read, but who has the time? We summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CX Press, where we read the articles, so you don’t need to.

I’ve got a question for you, Dan. Do you know what the average life expectancy is for a man and for a woman here in the United States?

Dan Gingiss: Well, I know that women tend to live longer then men and so I would guess that it’s maybe for a man say 75-ish and maybe a woman 80.

Joey Coleman: Very, very close, my friend. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the average life expectancy is 78.6 years for men and 81.1 years for women. But what’s more interesting is that as people grow older, life expectancy is actually increasing. What that means is that as time goes on, we’re continuing to live longer, and so for those people who are now 65 years old, the average life expectancy is actually 83 for men and over 85 for women. And this is only going to keep going up.

Now while generally speaking, this is certainly a good, there’s some pretty big problems with this shifting life expectancy, and a big concern is outlined in today’s CX Press article from the Fast Company website, and don’t worry folks, we’ll link to it in the show notes over at the experiencethisshow.com.

The article is titled, I Wrote the Book on User-friendly Design. What I see today horrifies me. And was written by Don Norman. Don is the 83 year old author of the industry Bible Design of Everyday Things, and a former Vice President at Apple.

Now Don Norman knows a thing or two about user-friendly design, as is probably obvious by his background and bio. He wrote the book. And in our article he explains the challenges that he faces in his own home. As a reminder, Don himself is 83, and I’m quoting, “Everyday household goods require knives and pliers to open. Containers with screw tops require more strength than my wife or I can muster. We solve this by using a plumber’s wrench to turn the caps. Companies insist on printing critical instructions in tiny fonts with very low contrast. Labels cannot be read without flashlights and magnifying glasses. And when companies do design things specifically for the elderly, they tend to be ugly devices that shout out to the world, I’m old and I can’t function.”

Dan Gingiss: I love that quote. I’m reminded of my mom, who both on her computer and her iPhone, has the font setting to something that is so big that to me it looks like she fits about three words on a page. But this is how she consumes.

I remember when I worked at Humana having to focus on that senior population that you can’t design it like you’re designing it for a millennial. It’s not how they consume, it’s not how they read. I think that obviously Don Norman, he’s the king and the emperor of design thinking, and it’s very interesting that he’s now at an age where he’s starting to experience this himself.

I often find that I’ll be sitting somewhere and even if it’s not a physical thing, for example, signing up for healthcare. Every year when I was in the corporate America and I was signing up for healthcare and I had this big spreadsheet going with all the comparisons, I was like, what do the dumb people do? Because, I’m pretty smart, I feel, and this is really hard and taking up a lot of time. It’s not designed to be easy.

Joey Coleman: I definitely had a variation on that theme. Having gone to law school, I often find myself reading things going, I’m struggling to understand this. How would you understand it if you didn’t have a law degree? But I think what’s interesting about the points that Don makes is not only is there a growing population of senior citizens, but we also have an increasingly large number of active healthy 65 plus year old people on the planet who aren’t a small market, and these people, in fact, usually have more time and more discretionary income that they’re happy to put into the marketplace if the marketplace is willing to design things that will meet their needs.

Now Don points out a few different challenges that older people face that businesses should take into consideration. The first one is reduced vision. When you think about your own products and services, how much of the associated text, whether it’s directions or warning labels, identification marks, etc, is written in a typeface that is so small you need a magnifying glass to read to?

Nick Hemmert: Or what about hearing loss? Don notes in the article that it’s become difficult for him to eat in a loud restaurant. He calls it torture and observes that quote, “More and more my wife and I select restaurants by their noise level rather than by their food quality.”

How many restaurants, coffee shops, and places where people gather are adding to the noise with loud music, loud machines and the hustle and bustle of customer traffic without considering the fact that some customers may be choosing not to do business with them because of the loud sounds at their business?

And don’t even get us started on technology that increasingly requires on touch. The increase in devices using display screens often with tiny lettering and touch sensitive areas. It makes it a challenge for anyone with diminishing eye hand coordination.

Joey Coleman: You know, the sad thing Dan, is that it’s actually even worse than this. As if the status quo wasn’t challenging enough. The companies that are targeting the senior market often do so in less than design conscious or experience conscious fashion. Products that are designed for the elderly, I’m just going to say it straight, they tend to be ugly.

Back in my great-grandmother’s time, a cane was often seen as a functional tool with an artistic accessory element. I remember very well, she had a black wooden cane with a silver eagles head on top of it with green jewels in the eyes. It was stunning. You could see it from across the room. Now canes and walkers look like they were designed to use the most metal, in the boxiest format, and ideally be strapped on the side of a rocket going to space. Today, a cane isn’t an accessory, it’s a medical device.

Dan Gingiss: It’s so funny you should bring up that example, because my mom had hip surgery last year, and she had to use a cane for a little while, and she asked her grandchildren to decorate it with stickers. So, all four grandchildren brought stickers and made her… She had the coolest cane around, and she said that people stopped her in the street because they thought her cane was so cool.

Joey Coleman: Right. And so we shift from having a cane being a sign of maybe things in your life that aren’t going the way you’d like them to go, a decrease in mobility, to a cane being a topic of conversation.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. In the field of design, paying attention to the potential use cases of all customers is called inclusive design. It anticipates a variety of needs and in the process helps everyone. Don notes that curb cuts, those gentle slopes between the sidewalk and the street were meant to help people who had trouble walking. But it turns out they help anyone wheeling things, carts, baby carriages, suitcases, and more.

Joey Coleman: You know, this is exactly what you were talking about from the work you used to do around ADA compliance. When we make a website more compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, it makes the website more usable for everyone.

So this isn’t just about, hey, let’s be kind to the elderly and do better designs for them, this is, let’s be more conscious of our design and design things that are going to help everyone experience our products and services better.

Let’s be candid, everybody listening to this show will at some point be older than they are right now and probably significantly older.

Dan Gingiss: That’s pretty deep.

Joey Coleman: Pretty deep. You like that?

Dan Gingiss: In fact, they are older than they were just a few seconds ago.

Joey Coleman: And that’s one to grow on. No, probably significantly older. We need to start thinking about more inclusive designs now and if not for the benefit for those who are elderly today, then we should do it for more selfish reasons, because we’re going to be the elderly of the future.

Here’s how you can start working on this now. Look at your products and services and honestly ask whether they’re user friendly for users of all ages. And don’t just take your own theoretical opinion on this. Talk to people who are elderly, give them your products, have them experience your services, and see what they have to say about your products.

Do a focus group with people over age 65, instead of just a focus group with the millennials. If we want to build something that is longterm, if we want to have products and services that can stand the test of time, we need to design those services and design those products to work for customers who are longterm themselves.

START THE CONVERSATION – DESIGN THINKING

Joey Coleman:  Sometimes all it takes is a single question to get your company thinking about an improved customer experience. Here’s an idea for how you can Start The Conversation.

This week’s Start The Conversation topic is the art of design thinking. Designing new experiences isn’t easy. Many organizations default to just fixing broken experiences, and in many cases that simply isn’t enough to meet your customer’s expectations. To amaze customers, you must design new experiences, or redesign old experiences with an intentional focus on the customer and with their point of view in mind.

Dan Gingiss: What exactly is design thinking? Here are three key components. One, exploring innovative ideas and solutions beyond what you think may be currently possible. Two, empathizing with customers, keeping their needs and point of view at the forefront throughout the design process. And three, creating experiences that address customer needs and expectations first, and business needs and goals second.

Joey Coleman: Interestingly enough, Dan, I think this is what actually got me interested in customer experience in the first place. Because I had been running an ad agency where we were doing a lot of design, literal design, designing logos, designing ad campaigns, graphics, business cards. And the more I started to think about all the experiences that folks were having, I realized that we could take that design thinking and extend it into the actual experiences, taking it beyond colors and type faces, and instead making it about how folks interact with all of the various products and services we offered.

I think adopting this type of design thinking is not only a must for the success of your business, but it’s something that’s really fun too. It’s a great way to engage your employees in a conversation that makes them feel that they have a voice, makes them feel that they’re being heard, and it allows them to build more empathy and connection with your customers and the types of people you serve.

Nick Hemmert: And now for this week’s question about the art of design thinking. Is my organization actively engaging in design thinking? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with Avtex at experienceconversations.com. Again, that’s www.experienceconversations.com

DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE: The Healthcare System is Failing Seniors

Joey Coleman: Sometimes a remarkable experience deserves deeper investigation. We dive into the nitty gritty of customer interactions and dissect how and why they happen. Join us while we’re Dissecting The Experience.

Dan Gingiss: I recently published a three part series on Forbes about the state of healthcare in the United States and the many, many customer experience opportunities that exist in an industry that is continually ranked at the bottom of most customer satisfaction surveys.

The first article in the series was called Why Treating Patients as Consumers Can Improve the Healthcare Experience. And the second one was, As Healthcare Goes Digital, Consumer Engagement and Experience Improve. But I really want to discuss the third one today, which fits in so well with this episode. Why an Aging Population Means HealthCare Customer Experience Must Adapt.

Now we’re all familiar with how difficult and unsatisfying the healthcare experience can be in the United States. It’s hard to sign up for healthcare. It’s hard to understand healthcare jargon, something that we talked about in episode 13. It’s often hard to schedule an appointment with a doctor unless you’re willing to wait weeks or even months, and there’s still tons of literal paperwork, stuff that should be digitized. Just try to piece together your entire health history in any meaningful way. Now imagine how much tougher this is on the older population.

Joey Coleman: You know, Dan, I thought there was one really poignant quote in your article, it came from David Stewart, a founding partner at Ageist, a company that is dedicated to promoting life after 50, and he said, “We have found that treating people as intelligent, informed adults gets better outcomes and a more positive view of the brand or a company.” I found that quote poignant, but the fact that it even needs to be said is pathetic and it shows that we’ve lost our way in the healthcare industry.

Dan Gingiss: Totally agree, Joey. That’s why I included it.

Joey Coleman: I get it. Well, let’s say the desired effect of creating an emotional rise out of your readers was achieved.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. Thank you. I also got to talk with Geeta Wilson, who is the founder and CEO of a company called Consumer Society. It’s an early stage tech and experience design company building an enterprise experience management technology platform to connect all of the major industry players in healthcare, the insurance companies, healthcare professionals, and consumers. Now, full disclosure, Geeta and I worked together at Humana and she’s a good friend, but I asked her, is the healthcare system failing seniors today? And here’s what she said.

Geeta Wilson: The short answer is yes. While there have been gains in precision medicine, life sciences, and medical treatments, the administration and navigation of healthcare as a system remains complex and confusing to all consumers. When you add to this population differences related to aging, such as chronic conditions, digital literacy, and social determinants of health, the age and experience in healthcare falls short.

The industry is unprepared for a very different aging population than it has traditionally served in the past, for the last 30 plus years. Commonly known as the Silent Generation, accepts a more passive approach to health and receives medical opinion and authority without question. Very different from today.

The newer aging population will nearly double in size to about 80 million by 2030 and the industry is not prepared for this unless it starts to aggressively address some of the gaps in the consumer experience we’re seeing today. Older adults are poised to shape consumer and healthcare experiences in the years ahead.

At Consumer Society, we design experiences for specific segments and personas who have defining motivations, attitudes, and behaviors, in addition to their preferences and demographic characteristics. While all consumer needs are important, we think solving for the most complex demographic, that is an aging population with at least one chronic condition and perhaps an indifferent or antagonistic attitude towards their health, will set the stage for all populations and their needs to be met.

Dan Gingiss: Healthcare is obviously not alone. As we’ve discussed in this episode. The aging population in the United States will be the largest of all time, and the 50 plus cohort controls 70% of consumer discretionary spending in the United States. Designing for seniors is no longer optional. It’s now a core responsibility for nearly every company in every industry.

Joey Coleman: Thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to, magazines and books to read, reality TV to watch. We don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions, and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to experiencethisshow.com and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about experience, and we want you to be part of the Experience This show.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks again for your time and we’ll see you next week. For more…Joey Coleman: Experience This.


Episode 80: Using Unexpected Gifts to Create Lifelong Loyalty

Join us as we discuss how past experiences can trigger current emotions, how creative play can produce qualified employment candidates, and how strategic appreciation can keep your customers coming back for more. 

Gift Giving, Code Breaking, and Artifact Creating – Oh My!

[This Just Happened] A Personalized Gift can Make a Lasting Impact

A few months ago, Joey was on a podcast with Ben Oosterveld, where Joey spoke about his book, Never Lose a Customer Again, and creating remarkable customer experiences. During the podcast, Ben asked Joey to tell him about something that made Joey nostalgic about his childhood.

Joey shared a story about how he loved G.I. Joe action figures when he was a child. Each action figure came with a “dossier card” and children were encouraged to clip and save these cards for their “G.I. Joe Command Files.” Joey collected the cards and in doing so, noticed that while each of the fictional characters hailed from a different place – none came from Iowa – let alone the small town of Fort Dodge, Iowa where Joey lived.

So, Joey (being Joey) decided to write the company (yep – he was about eleven years old at the time) and ask them to consider including a character from his hometown.

Joey never heard back from the toy company, but approximately two years later, a new G.I. Joe action figure was released named Crazy Legs. And wouldn’t you know it, Crazy Legs was from Fort Dodge, Iowa!

In many ways, Joey’s story made for a nice, nostalgic trip down memory lane. But what happened next was the reason for a segment on the Experience This! Show.

Several weeks after being a guest on the podcast, a package arrived in the mail from Ben Oosterveld. In the box was a mint-condition, Crazy Legs G.I. Joe action figure! Ben included a personal note apologizing for the delay in properly thanking Joey for being on the show but that it had taken a while to track down this 30+ year old action figure.

Sending a gift long after the interaction is not a wasted gift. Personalizing your gifts by listening to your clients’ stories and learning about their interests, can turn an average gift into something remarkable – creating a personal and emotional connection in the process.

When considering gifts for your customers/clients, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Unexpected gifts are the very best gifts.
  2. The more personalized the gift, the better.
  3. Listen for the “golden nuggets falling from the sky” (a phrase Joey’s dad use to use all the time) when a customer shares an unexpected tidbit that you can reference later.
  4. Nostalgia works even better with each passing year!

[CX Press] Recruiting New Employees Using Strategic Partnerships

According to Wikipedia, an escape room (also known as an escape game) is “a game in which a team of players cooperatively discover clues, solve puzzles, and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to progress and accomplish a specific goal in a limited amount of time. The goal is often to escape from the site of the game.”

Craig Lord recently wrote a story in the Ottawa Business Journal titled, “Solving Escape Manor’s new room could land you a job as a Canadian codebreaker.” The article focuses on an Ottawa-based business called Escape Manor and their new cybersecurity-focused experience. The Escape Room partnered with the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) – a federal agency in Canada that houses the Canadian government’s top codebreakers (basically, it’s the Canadian version of the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA)). CSE had discovered that many of their employees loved escape rooms. They realized that this common interest could be useful to their employment staffing efforts and as a result, the partnered with Escape Manor to design an escape room called “The Recruit.”

If participants successfully “escape” the room, they are given the opportunity to complete another puzzle. If they succeed at completing that puzzle, the participants are given the chance to voluntarily leave their information for the CSE – and potential earn themselves a job interview!

How can this example be applied to your own organization and your employee recruitment and retention efforts? Explore what your current employees are interested in and then work to create partnerships that are in alignment with your existing employees’ interests. Chances are good that if your top employees have a specific interest, your top candidates will probably share a similar interest. For example, if many of your star team members love adventure sports like rock climbing, consider partnering with a local rock climbing club to get your brand in front of prospective candidates.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Utilizing CRM to Increase Your Customer Experience

Using your CRM (Customer Relationship Management software) as a customer experience tool can allow you to drive your customer experience transformation. Most companies aren’t fully utilizing the capabilities of their CRM. Sometimes, the data in CRM isn’t as accurate as it could be. The other problem with CRMs is that often, different departments have different access to each customer’s data, which prevents the full picture of the customer from being relayed uniformly across the organization.

Here are three ways that CX leaders can use a CRM to improve customer experiences.

  1. Make it Easy for Customers to Do Business with You – Use customer data within the CRM to map journeys and eliminate pain points. Personalize experiences based on data to streamline interactions.
  2. Use Customer Data to Continually Improve Experiences – Gather and use customer feedback and track engagement trends. Consider where and when customers are interacting with you the most and then enhance those interactions.
  3. Use Customer Data to Look for New Ways to Foster Loyalty

Start the conversation with this question: What are the specific ways we are using our customer resource management tool to enhance the experience with our customers?

To continue the conversation, go to: experienceconversations.com.

[Book Report] Create an Artifact from the Gifts You Give

Many companies give gifts to their customers, but few do it well. When it comes to “strategic appreciation” – the act of letting your top clients know how much you really value them – the best book written on the topic is Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Client Retention by a great friend of the show, John Ruhlin. John doesn’t recommend the exact gifts to give, but rather he teaches the strategies and techniques to discover the right gifts for your clients.

The first gift Joey ever received from John Ruhlin left an indelible impression. John sent Joey and his family a beautiful, personalized set of knives and a companion knife block to store them. The knives have Joey and his wife’s name on them – as opposed to John’s name or the name of his company (The Ruhlin Group). The knives are “touched” twice a day – once when Joey’s wife prepares dinner, and once when Joey does the dishes. Each time Joey does the dishes he thinks fondly of John and his thoughtful gift.

Instead of gifting your clients with something that will register as a blip on the radar, choose an item that will serve as the artifact of your relationship, something that becomes woven into the very fabric of their lives.

John Ruhlin, author of Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Client Retention

When you give one of your client’s a quality gift, you don’t need to put your name on it. Your clients will remember you every time they see/use the gift because it was personal and meaningful. To apply the principles of strategic appreciation in your business, we recommend taking these two steps:

  1. Purchase and Read Giftology so you can learn the art of gifting!
  2. Reach out to John directly on his website, or if you prefer, leave us a voice message on the “Contact” page here at Experience This! and we’ll make a personal introduction.

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Email Dan: Dan@dangingiss.com

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

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Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 80 here or read it below:

Joey Coleman: Welcome to Experience This, where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Dan Gingiss: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining, customer retention expert Joey Coleman-

Joey Coleman: And social media expert Dan Gingiss serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience. So, hold on to your headphones, it’s time to Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: Get ready for another episode of the Experience This show.

Joey Coleman: Join us as we discuss how past experiences can trigger current emotions, how creative play can produce qualified employment candidates, and how strategic appreciation can keep your customers coming back for more.

Dan Gingiss: Gift-giving, code breaking and artifact creating, oh my.

THIS JUST HAPPENED: Crazy Legs Podcast Gift

Joey Coleman: Just because you have required elements of your business, doesn’t mean they need to be boring. It’s time to get creative, have some fun and make people sit up and take notice. Get your customers talking when you make the required remarkable.

I received a package the other day in the mail that to be honest, took my breath away.

Dan Gingiss: Really? I’m intrigued. What was it, Joey?

Joey Coleman: Well, I’m happy to tell you Dan, but first I need to share some backstory. A few months ago, I recorded a podcast with my friend Ben Oosterveld. He has a show called, From Within and it was a fun conversation about my book, Never Lose A Customer Again, and the power of creating remarkable customer experiences at every step of the customer journey.

So that you have more context, we’ll link to it in the show notes that experiencethisshow.com, if you’re interested in checking it out. During our conversation, Ben asked me a series of rapid fire questions, one of which was, what is something you’re nostalgic about from when you were a kid, a toy, a video game, et cetera? I told him about something that happened to me when I was about nine or 10 years old.

I loved GI Joe figures and back in the day, the packaging for GI Joe characters included a dossier card on the back that detailed some key facts and stories about these fictional characters. I loved cutting these cards off the back of the packages and keeping them. I would read them, I would review them when I was putting together teams of characters for special missions, it was great.

And after I’d been collecting for a while, I realized that there were no GI Joe characters from my home state of Iowa, let alone my hometown of Fort Dodge. And what could be seen as an early indicator of my, let’s see if we can just fix this problem, I decided to write a letter to Hasbro, the company that made GI Joe figures, to ask if they would consider making a GI Joe character from Iowa.

I never heard back from the company, but about a year later, a new GI Joe character was released named, Crazy Legs. And not only was he from Iowa, he was from Fort Dodge, Iowa. Now I don’t know if my letter influenced the toy makers at Hasbro. But what I do know is that as a kid, this quickly became one of my favorite characters.

So the other day I received a package and when I opened it, I found a mint condition, still in the box, Crazy Legs action figure with the dossier on the back that said he was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. I kid you not, it almost brought tears to my eyes.

In the package was a note from Ben thanking me for being on his show and apologizing that it had taken him a while to thank me because it took him some time to track down the character on eBay, but that he hoped I would appreciate it.

Dan Gingiss: Wow. I have goosebumps listening to that story.

Joey Coleman: Isn’t that amazing?

Dan Gingiss: I was not a GI Joe fan as a kid, but I love that there is a GI Joey character from Fort Dodge, Iowa, named Crazy Legs. And I think that’s now going to be my new nickname for you.

Joey Coleman: There you go. Nice. Well, it’s interesting because my experience with receiving this Crazy Legs action figure from Ben, got me thinking about the key characteristics of good gifting in either a business or a personal setting. And I wanted to share some of those things that I’ve learned along the way with our listeners, especially as people start to think about end of year gifts for their clients and colleagues.

Number one, unexpected gifts are the best gifts. Many businesses talk about creating surprise and delight moments for their customers. The first word in that phrase is the key word, surprise. The fact that Ben’s package actually came six months after I had recorded his show, was better than had it come almost immediately.

I personally don’t think it’s ever too late to send a gift or a thank you and if the recipient is surprised to receive it, you’ve actually created a great emotional reaction.

Dan Gingiss: I definitely agree and I often say that surprise and delight is not a strategy. It has to be something that comes naturally because the harder you try to do it, the less personalized it becomes. And so I think what was great about this is that it was absolutely a surprise.

The six months thing certainly helped. And clearly he knew this, it was going to be something that was also a delight. But it’s not something that’s repeatable or scalable for him because his other customers or his other podcast guests are probably not GI Joe fans.

Joey Coleman: Agreed. Or they may be GI Joe fans, but they’re not necessarily Crazy Leg fans. So you’re right, that the personalization really is key. Which brings me to my second point, Dan. Thanks for that segue. The more personalized, the better.

Anyone can send a gift, but the more personal the gift, the happier the recipient. Now I know you mentioned you weren’t a GI Joe fan as a kid, Dan. What did you play? What was your toy, did you [crosstalk 00:06:18], like go to guy?

Dan Gingiss: Actually, I’m thinking here because now I want to go on this guy’s podcast because what I loved as a kid were pinball machines. So maybe I could get one of those.

Joey Coleman: Six months later, Dan gets, a freight truck pulls up to his house with a pinball machine. No, I hear you. You know, what’s interesting to me is how Ben pulled this story out of me that I hadn’t thought about in many years and then he acted on it.

Now this actually brings me to the third secret of quality gift-giving. Listen for the golden nuggets to fall from the sky, and I must confess, I borrowed that phrase from my dad. My dad would sit in the courtroom, he was a criminal defense lawyer and he would listen intently for the golden nuggets that might fall from the sky.

What I mean by that is the things that would be said by a witness or an expert or a police officer on the stand that he could catch, latch onto and make a central part of his argument before the jury, as to why they should find his client not guilty.

Now in the corporate world, this technique is not that different. We need to actively listen during our conversations to identify the interest and the hobbies and the personal likes and dislikes and desires and basically anything that is hyper personal about the person we’re speaking with, whether that’s a customer, an employee, a colleague, a vendor. We can then use that insight to identify personalized gifts and opportunities to surprise them.

Dan Gingiss: I think one of the companies that does this the best is a company that we’ve talked about several times on the podcast and I love to talk about onstage because it gets the best reaction of any company, which is chewy.com.

And in fact, true story, Joey and I were together yesterday and in the car I got a phone call from a really good friend of mine who recently had his dog die and he called to cancel his order for dog food. And the next day he and his wife got flowers in the mail from Chewy and were absolutely stunned.

And so it’s very similar in the sense that that was their golden nugget falling from the sky, is they heard that one of their customers had had this negative experience. And they acted on it.

Joey Coleman: So true, so true. So the gifts don’t necessarily have to come as a moment of delight. They can come as a moment of sorrow, but the key is to make them personalized. The final thing I’d like to note is that nostalgia works even better with each passing year.

I know that sounds a little silly, but by definition, nostalgia refers to a sentimental longing or a wistful affection for things from the past. What I found over time is that as I get older, the things that tie me back to my childhood, where I grew up, the old toys I played with, the games I played, the hobbies I had produced an even stronger emotional reaction for me.

So what can we learn from this story of an unexpected thank you gift for being a guest on a podcast? Why I think we can learn a few things. Number one, unexpected gifts are the very best gifts. Number two, the more personalized the better. Number three, don’t forget to listen for the golden nuggets to fall from the sky. And number four, nostalgia works even better with each passing year.

One final thought if I may. During that series of rapid fire questions on his From within podcast, Ben asked me, “What’s the best physical gift you’ve ever received?” Well, let’s just say that Ben’s gift of a vintage Crazy Legs, GI Joe figure just rocketed into the top three physical gifts I’ve ever received from anyone on any occasion. Thanks Ben. It meant the world to me.

CX PRESS – Recruits from the Escape Room

Joey Coleman: There are so many great customer experience articles to read, but who has the time. We summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CX Press, where we read the articles so you don’t need to.

Okay Dan, this is a bit of a random question, but you’re used to it by now. Have you ever been to an escape room?

Dan Gingiss: I have not, but my kids have been pestering me to go and I really do want to try it out.

Joey Coleman: Oh man, you definitely need to go and I think you might even want to go more after you hear this story. So first of all, in case some of our listeners haven’t been to an escape room or aren’t familiar with that phrase. According to Wikipedia, an escape room is a game in which a team of players cooperatively discover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms in order to progress and accomplish a specific goal in a limited amount of time.

The goal is often to escape from the room in which the game is being played. Craig Lorde recently wrote a story in the Ottawa Business Journal, titled, Solving Escape Manner’s new room could land you a job as a Canadian codebreaker.

The story is all about an Ottawa based business called Escape Manner and their new cybersecurity focused experience. The escape room partnered with the Communications Security Establishment or CSE, which is a federal agency in Canada that houses the Canadian government’s top code breakers.

Basically, it’s the Canadian version of the United States NSA, National Security Agency. Working with the CSE, the Escape Manor designed a new room called, The Recruit. In this game, participants will pretend to be a CSE freshman going through orientation when disaster strikes. As is usually the case in an escape room, the group will have to rely on quick thinking to solve the puzzles and save the day before it’s too late.

Dan Gingiss: It sounds amazing. Kind of sounds like Jack Bauer in an episode of 24.

Joey Coleman: Totally and it happens in a room. So because you mentioned you haven’t been, lots of times if you’re going to escape room, instead of like going out to a bar for the night or a restaurant, you get a couple of friends and you go to the escape room and it often takes anywhere from half an hour to two hours. You’re against a time limit, you’re solving clues, you’re having fun, you get to see which of your friends are smarter or clever than the others and you have a good time.

But what’s particularly interesting to me about the partnership between Escape Manor and the CSE is that CSE’s technical experts actually provided input on the puzzles and codes and the videos and imagery used in the game were filmed at CSE’s Ottawa headquarters. So this adds an incredible level of realism to the overall experience.

Dan Gingiss: As it turns out, the idea to collaborate on a cybersecurity and espionage themed escape room came up when CSEs marketing team was looking for new ways to spread the word about the agency’s work processing foreign signal intelligence and protecting Canadian computer networks.

Interestingly enough, as an agency that employs professional code breakers, CSE already had a lot of escape room fans among its staff. As such, the hope is that fans of escape rooms will potentially be good candidates for employment with CSE.

Joey Coleman: I absolutely love this idea and having worked in the intelligence community myself, I can honestly say that this sort of government/corporate partnership is something more countries should be considering.

In a world where cybersecurity is becoming more vital every day, finding creative and engaging ways to recruit new code breakers is something every intelligence agency on the planet is thinking about.

In addition, more and more corporations are bringing cybersecurity teams in house, so in the future, the need for these types of team members is only going to increase. But to be honest, this isn’t an entirely new idea.

Back in 1942 during the second world war, the British government worked with The Daily Telegraph to develop a very difficult crossword puzzle. Those who successfully solved it were encouraged to share their victory and later, at least as the story goes, some of these people were drafted by the war office to help break German codes.

Dan Gingiss: What the escape room is going to do to help CSE identify candidates isn’t that different than what was done back in World War II. If a group successfully completes the recruit game, they’ll be given the chance to do a bonus cryptographic puzzle.

If a player solves that puzzle, they will have the opportunity to voluntarily leave their contact information with the folks at Escape Manor, who will then pass it on to CSE. If a recruitment officer feels a candidate could be a good fit, they’ll reach out to discuss opportunities with the agency.

Joey Coleman: So how can you apply this kind of thinking to your organization? When it comes to recruiting new employees, consider the types of things your current employees like to do and then explore creative partnerships in a similar space. If your startup is filled with hard charging, type-A personalities who like to do adventure sports, you may want to partner with your local skydiving or mountain biking groups to find new candidates for employment.

If your business thrives based on a group of employees that are book club members after hours, you may want to offer to spend some of your marketing dollars to bring authors into your local community and then invite local book clubs to attend the event. Folks, you’re only limited by your own imagination. Who knows? Your next great hire could be hiding very close by.

START THE CONVERSATION – AVTEX

Joey Coleman:  Sometimes all it takes is a single question to get your company thinking about an improved customer experience. Here’s an idea for how you can start the conversation

This week’s Start the Conversation topic is CRM as a customer experience tool. Many organizations utilize CRM or customer relationship management systems to track relationships with customers and prospects.

But a CRM isn’t just a tracking tool. It’s also a customer experience tool. If you aren’t using a CRM and the data captured within it to drive your customer experience transformation, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to deliver better customer experiences.

Dan Gingiss: Here are three ways that CX leaders can use a CRM to improve customer experiences. One, make it easy for customers to do business with you. Use customer data within the CRM to map journeys and eliminate pain points and personalize experiences based on data to streamline interactions.

Two, use customer data to continually improve experiences. Gather and use customer feedback and track engagement trends, where and when customers are interacting with you the most. Three, use customer data to look for new ways to foster loyalty.

Joey Coleman: Now, what’s really interesting is when we think about CRM at most companies, especially big companies, two major problems emerge. Number one, not everyone is using the CRM, so it’s difficult to get the salespeople to put in data about prospects that people are actually serving the customers aren’t necessarily recording every interaction. And so the data that’s in the CRM isn’t always as accurate as it could or should be.

Secondly, there’s a huge problem in many organizations that the CRM for an individual customer or the data on an individual customer can only be accessed by certain departments. This blows my mind that a company would have different CRM software tools for different departments, but it happens all the time.

You need to have a unified approach. You need to have all the data about your prospects and your customers stored in one place that is accessible by everyone in your organization, not only for them to add to it as they learn new things and catch those little golden nuggets that may drop from the sky. But also to make sure that when they do interact with a customer, they are referencing the most up to date customer interactions recorded in the CRM.

Dan Gingiss: And now for this week’s question about CRM as a customer experience tool, what are the specific ways we are using our customer resource management tool to enhance the experience with our customers? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with our friends at Avtex by going to experienceconversations.com. Again, that website is experienceconversations.com.

BOOK REPORT: Giftology by John Ruhlin

Joey Coleman: We’re excited to give you an overview of an important book you should know about, as well as share some of our favorite passages as part of our next book report.

Dan Gingiss: I know we spoke about gifting earlier on in the show and it’s something that we both speak about regularly in our keynotes and workshops, but I think it would be in service to our listeners if we took some time to dive deep into this practice of giving gifts in a corporate setting.

Joey Coleman: You know, Dan, I wholeheartedly agree and this is a topic that comes up a lot, so I couldn’t think of a better way to discuss this than to do a book review of the best book I’ve come across on the topic of corporate gifting. In fact, it takes gifting beyond the usual behaviors and elevates it to strategic appreciation.

Now the book I’m speaking about is by my good friend, gifting expert, speaker and writer John Ruhlin. His book is titled Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals and Strengthen Client Retention.

It’s a quick read. To be honest, the first time I read it was cover a cover on a flight and it’s full of fantastic advice and examples for how to think differently about your business gifting activities.

Dan Gingiss: Let’s let John explain in his own words what his book Giftology is all about.

John Ruhlin: Most business leaders agree that relationships have been, are and always will be the most important asset they have for their professional careers in growing their businesses. However, most business owners don’t properly utilize the most simple, oldest and most powerful tool in their relationship building arsenal, the gift.

Giftology is this study of growing relationships through strategic gift giving. It is the science behind who to gift, when to gift, how to gift and the tried and true ROI driving method of what to gift. This is not a book about what gifts to buy. This is a book about what types of gifts create the most emotional impact, that get talked about the most and that when delivered with the right attitude, presentation and timing, win. over the entire inner circle, including assistance, family members and spouses.

Why is it important to get the inner circle on your side? Because five words about you from them, means more than 5,000 words from you about you. Giftology is the study of winning hearts, cutting through the noise and creating unbelievable experiences. Gifting is a business leader’s most powerful form of marketing for increasing referrals and cross selling and upselling opportunities.

And it is the marketing that up until now, has been the most poorly executed and vastly under utilized. If you’re a business leader who believes in generosity but doesn’t want to come across as [bribey 00:00:44] or back scratchy or quid pro quo, follow the methods of Giftology and watch as your ever deepening relationships, open doors and grant you access you never thought possible.

Joey Coleman: I love that. John is so right. Gifting is both an art and a science and it’s something that most businesses are giving little to no thought to. And I must confess, I’ve received some amazing gifts in the past and I think I’ve given some pretty great gifts too, but I am by no means as consistent about it as I could or should be.

Dan Gingiss: You know, I often bring up something that you mentioned in your book, because I see it so often, is that companies are giving branded or [logoed 00:00:44] items to their customers thinking that, that’s a gift.

And I seem to remember, I think it was you that said, or perhaps you were quoting John, that when you give somebody a branded item also known as swag, that that isn’t a gift, it’s marketing.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely.

Dan Gingiss: And that that’s a big difference.

Joey Coleman: It’s a gift for you. It’s a gift for your business to have them market. It’s not a gift for the recipient.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. And so one of the passages that I loved in the book addresses this mistake directly. It says, and I’m quoting, “You would never go to someone’s wedding and give them a crystal vase from Tiffany and Company engraved with your name on it. So why would you give a corporate gift with your company name on it? Is it a promotion or a gift?”

This goes back to the idea of making sure something is personalized and not just branded. If it’s something all about them, it’s a gift. If it’s brand focused and all about you, with your colors, your logo, what you love, it’s a promotion.

Joey Coleman: You know, Dan, you’re right. This is something I talk about with clients and on stage all the time. Most companies are fooling themselves, that they’re gifting their customers. When in reality, they’re sending promotions to their customers. And if any of the listeners doubt the validity of this statement, I’d like you to imagine this scenario.

It’s Christmas morning or one of the nights of Hanukkah or your birthday and you receive a package from your grandmother. You open it up to find a sweater with her name on it. Now, you love your Nana and it was kind of her to get something for you, but you are not going to wear that sweater.

The same holds true for your customers. If you’re sending them apparel and swag that has your logo and marketing messages all over it, it’s not a gift. Stop it. Stop kidding yourself. Stop the behavior. It’s okay to send that stuff, but acknowledged that it’s a promotion.

As John noted in the passage that Dan has shared,. if it’s something all about them, it’s a gift. Now, speaking of favorite passages from the book, to be honest, I have dozens, but the one I want to share is this, “Instead of gifting your clients with something that will register as a blip on the radar, choose an item that will serve as the artifact of your relationship, something that becomes woven into the very fabric of their lives.”

Dan Gingiss: Wow. An artifact of your relationship, I definitely like the way John phrased that

Joey Coleman: I do as well, Dan, and you know, just the language he uses. Doesn’t that raise the bar when we think about gifting, instead of giving a gift, giving an artifact. It’s interesting, the first gift I ever received from John was indeed an artifact.

I had met him at an event, we had hit it off. We have similar messages and similar audiences. And a few days after I arrived back home, I received in the mail a custom engraved knife set for our kitchen. Now, these were beautiful Cutco butcher knives and a butcher block for them to go into. And the knives were all engraved with a message that said handcrafted exclusively for the Joey and Barrett-Coleman family.

Now, here’s the crazy thing. This gift is prominently displayed in our kitchen and it receives two touches every night. My wife uses the knives to prepare the meal and I clean and wash the knives every night after dinner. It’s truly become an artifact that serves as a reminder of my relationship with John and it’s been woven into the fabric of our day to day lives.

Dan Gingiss: I love it, but I’m sure that some of our listeners may be wondering how they can afford these types of gifts. How should they be thinking about their gifting budget?

Joey Coleman: Well, I’ve certainly wondered the same thing in the past, Dan. And I think it would actually be best if we turn to the author of Giftology, John Ruhlin, as he shares his thoughts on this specific question of how much to spend.

John Ruhlin: How much should I give is the number one question I am asked regarding Giftology. Gifting should be a part of your overall marketing and Biz Dev efforts. It should be something you actively budget for. If you do not have yet a budget, rely on the handwritten note, as we’ve talked about before.

But when you are able to invest money into gifting strategies, what you choose should be comparable to what it would cost for a nice dinner out with wine, great tickets to a ball game or a round a golf at an upscale club, an amount that typically falls somewhere between $100 and maybe $2,000 at the most.

Essentially, you’re gifting budget to retain and maintain clients should always fall somewhere between 2% and 10% of your current net profits or it should be a 20% redirect of your current marketing efforts overall.

Again, always ask yourself, what’s the most that I could do? Since it’s not uncommon for us to ask ourselves, what’s the least I can do without looking cheap, reprogramming your mindset might require some effort. Be honest. How many times have you been invited to a wedding or high school graduation and the first thing that comes into your mind is, do I really have to spend $250 or can I get away with $150?

Our natural tendency is to cut corners and go with the bare minimum. Most gifting strategies don’t work well because those implementing them are not willing to go out on a limb. They want the safe bets done as economically as possible. As a result, they typically reap few benefits. Remember that slow and steady wins the race. Be patient, invest in strategic gifting with a longterm view of the future as you would with a growth stock or asset allocation.

Over time, your investment will naturally compound. I always tell my clients, “If you’re not willing to commit to three years of hiring our outsource gifting agency, then I’m not going to guarantee any of the results.” You would never take a potential client out to dinner and demand their business before they’ve even opened the menu.

Giftology is a slow build, encouraging the relationship to develop over time. It’s an ongoing process. Again, it’s all about minimizing risk. People need to see what your true intentions are, that they’re genuine with no strings attached. Over time, you’ll tip the scales in your favor.

Don’t get me wrong, there are instances when you’ll see short term results, especially when you’re prospecting. But even when you invest a significant chunk of money to get someone’s attention, that’s what you’re getting, his or her attention. You’re not getting his or her loyalty or business. Not yet.

Joey Coleman: If you want to get someone’s attention and their loyalty or their business, you need to up your gifting game. There are two great ways to do that. Number one, go purchase and read John’s book, Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals and Strengthen Client Retention.

You can find it on Amazon or wherever you buy your books and we’ll link to it in the show notes at experiencethisshow.com. Secondly, you can reach out to John directly via his website, giftologyplan.com that’s Giftology, G-I-F-T-O-L-O-G-Y, plan, P-L-A-N, .com.

Or if you prefer, go to experiencethisshow.com and leave us a voice message on our contact page and we’ll make a personal introduction. John and his team are incredibly skilled at helping you maximize the impact of your gifting budget by finding personal and meaningful gifts that your clients will see as an artifact of your relationship.

Please don’t waste another dollar on an impersonal gift card or an everyone gets the same fruit basket, annual gift to your customers. Start practicing Giftology and get ready to take your customer experience to the next level.

Wow. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience this.

Dan Gingiss: We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to, magazines and books to read, reality TV to watch. We don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to experiencethisshow.com and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about experience and we want you to be part of the Experience This Show.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks again for your time and we’ll see you next week for more, Experience This.

Episode 78: Using Artificial Intelligence to Support Your Customers

Join us as we discuss using AI to train your customer service reps, the internal path to entrepreneurial peace, and the ways one customer can positively and negatively impact the experience of another customer.

Intervening, Introspection, and Interacting – Oh My!

[CX Press] How Artificial Intelligence is Helping Customer Service Agents to Communicate with More Clarity

As consumers, artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a bigger role in our lives every day. Interestingly enough, AI is also increasingly being used by customer experience professionals. Alejandro De La Garza detailed one of the new found uses for AI in his Time Magazine article, This AI Software Is ‘Coaching’ Customer Service Workers. Soon It Could Be Bossing You Around, Too.

In the article, De La Garza describes a new AI program – Cogito – and how it is helping customer service representatives to communicate more clearly, to empathize with frustrated callers, and to improve overall performance. Cogito recognizes tone, pitch, and various signs of discontentment in calls. It then gives realtime recommendations for customer service representatives to adjust their conversations – resulting in increased customer satisfaction. Historically, AI was used for operational, “behind the scenes” systems that were controlled by humans. Cogito is interesting because this new AI actually gives the humans using the software access to realtime advice and direction.

There’s a future where AI software like this becomes part of our normal day to day in conversations with parents, with spouses, and in preparing for job interviews.

Skylar Place, Chief Behavioral Scientist at Cogito

With great technological advances come new challenges. Technology is advancing so quickly that our brains are having to adapt more quickly than ever before. While many of us may believe our jobs are immune to AI, the truth is less certain. AI is advancing quickly, and no occupation is completely immune from AI’s impact. It’s time to shift the question from, “What if AI affects me?,” to “What will I do, and how will I adapt when AI becomes a regular part of my career?”

[Book Report] Find Encouragement and Inspiration as a Self Reliant Entrepreneur

In 1841, writer, speaker, and father of the transcendentalist movement Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Joey came across this quote in John Jantsch‘s fantastic new book, The Self Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business. Most customer experience experts – if not entrepreneurs themselves – operate in an entrepreneurial environment. Jantsch works to educate, provoke, and inspire self reliant entrepreneurs through a series of daily readings and prompts that encourage readers to think deeper.

Reason of course, keeps us out in jail, prudently employed and modestly goal oriented, but achieving the impossible, implausible or heaven forbid, unconventional, better way of doing something requires setting unreasonable ambitions buttressed with unreasonable actions. In fact, progress depends on it. The only truly unreasonable act is to believe that everything is okay as it is.

John Jantsch, author of The Self Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business.

Entrepreneurs can benefit greatly by paying less attention to the fad of the moment, and giving more focus to the wisdom of the past. If you are ready to be motivated, challenged, and encouraged in your entrepreneurial endeavors, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Self Reliant Entrepreneur today.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Leveraging Data to Personalize Experiences

Data can sound like an incredibly tedious part of any business. However, customer data has many purposes, from tracking and charting transactions, to managing marketing outreach. By utilizing data gathered from customer interactions to personalize future experiences, a deeper and more committed relationship will often develop.

Here are three ways data can be used to personalize interactions with your customers:

  1. Using portal interaction data to automatically surface support content that better meets the customer’s needs and the most proved approach (historically) to achieving resolution.
  2. Streamlining contact center interactions by comparing the customer’s phone number or IP address against past interaction reports.
  3. Using trend data to identify common pain points and eliminating them, or creating specialized journeys for individual customer segments.

Start the conversation with this question: What customer data are we tracking, and are we effectively using it to drive better experiences?

To continue the conversation, go to: experienceconversations.com.

[Love It, Can’t Stand It] What Happens When One Customer’s Experience is Impacted by Another Customer’s Behavior

Sometimes, one customer’s actions can negatively impact another’s experience. Joey shared an unfortunate experience one of his friends had on an airplane, involving someone clipping their toenails in first class! While this was certainly not the airline’s fault, it obviously had an effect on his friend’s experience. When you are 35,000 feet in the air, you are subjected to the behavior of all the other people on your plane. Realizing that one customer can dramatically impact other customers’ experiences, here are a few things we love and cannot stand about airline travel:

Things We Can’t Stand:

  • Smelly food.
  • Passengers playing games or watching videos without wearing headphones.
  • People having loud conversations that people three rows away can hear.
  • Watching sensationalized news in an age where news is a negative trigger for many people.
  • Watching non-age appropriate content when seated next to a child. 
  • Cutting toenails or completing other personal grooming tasks like brushing hair, putting on deodorant, etc.
  • Taking off shoes and socks.

Things We Love:

  • The person in the window and the aisle seat giving the person in the middle both armrests without even discussing it – an unwritten rule of flying!
  • People who don’t recline their seat.
  • The person seated on the aisle graciously moving out of the way, so people can get in and out of their seat mid-flight. 
  • Passengers using the cabinet storage above them only after they’ve used the storage under their seat.
  • When people take time to read their seat-mates’ body language – do they want to talk, work, read, watch a movie? Whatever they want to do – let them do it!

It’s pretty easy to see how the behavior of one customer can dramatically impact customer experience – for better or for worse. And if that’s the case, what can companies do about it? One idea that is being implemented in many places is simply adopting a Code of Conduct for customers. These documents set clear expectations for what is allowed and what is not allowed – which can help insure that all customers have a great experience. Consider this: If your customers are in the same place, at the same time, how are YOU making sure they enjoy the experience without infringing on another customer’s enjoyment? 

Links We Referenced

Host Contact Information

Email Dan: Dan@dangingiss.com

Tweet Dan Gingiss: @DGingiss

Email Joey: JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com

DanGingiss.com

JoeyColeman.com

Subscribe to Experience This on Apple Podcasts

Episode Transcript

Download a transcript of the entire Episode 78 here or read it below:

Dan Gingiss: Welcome to Experience This.

Joey Coleman: Where you’ll find inspiring examples of customer experience, great stories of customer service, and tips on how to make your customers love you even more.

Dan Gingiss: Always upbeat and definitely entertaining, customer attention expert Joey Coleman.

Joey Coleman: And social media expert Dan Gingiss serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

Dan Gingiss: So hold onto your headphones. It’s time to Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: Get ready for another episode of the Experience This show.

Joey Coleman: Join us as we discuss using AI to train your customer service reps. The internal path to entrepreneurial peace. And the ways one customer can positively and negatively impact the experience of another customer.

Dan Gingiss: Intervening, introspection, and interacting. Oh my.

[CX Press] Learn how AI is Guiding Customer Service Agents to Communicate with More Clarity

Joey Coleman: There are so many great customer experience articles to read, but who has the time? We summarize them and offer clear takeaways you can implement starting tomorrow. Enjoy this segment of CXpress where we read the articles so you don’t need to.

Dan Gingiss: We’ve spoken several times on the show about the way AI is becoming a bigger part of not only our everyday lives as consumers, but increasingly in our conversations as customer experience professionals.

Joey Coleman: Which is why we wanted to share an article we came across in Time Magazine by Alejandro Dela Garza. The article is titled This AI Software is Coaching Customer Service Workers. Soon, it could be bossing you around too. And it’s about an Artificial Intelligence or AI program named Cogito. Cogito is designed to help customer service workers communicate more clearly, empathize with frustrated callers and improve their overall experience. It does this by listening to the tone, pitch, word frequency and hundreds of other factors in customer service conversations. When it detects that something is wrong, an irritated customer or a call center agent taking too long to respond, or an agent who sounds bored, tired, irritated, rushed, or otherwise unpleasant, it displays a notification on the agent’s computer telling them to slow down or speed up or stop talking or start talking or try to sound more sympathetic.

Joey Coleman: Basically it’s like having a seasoned veteran listening in on your customer service calls and providing real time actionable advice on how to respond to the situations you’re facing.

Dan Gingiss: This is a pretty interesting application of AI in the customer service arena. Up until now we’ve seen AI play a more behind the scenes role as it’s used to analyze data, track behaviors and route inquiries to the best channel for resolution. This new software Cogito is pushing beyond that. While once AI was seen as a tool largely under human control, Cogito is an example of an AI use case that is beginning to tell humans what to do.

Joey Coleman: You know Dan, I can definitely see some pros and cons to this type of tool. While on one hand it seems that Cogito can give someone a nudge in the right direction. It starts to get a little bit problematic if everybody relies on a nudge instead of changing their ways. Now, to be honest, the customer service representatives discussed in the article felt that in general the program is useful. Managers at one company said that using Cogito in their call centers improved first call resolution metrics by 3.5%, improved customer satisfaction by 13% and helped agents reduce average call time.

Dan Gingiss: I can’t help but think of my dependence on my GPS. The more I use it, the more I depend on it.

Joey Coleman: Turn now, Dan.

Dan Gingiss: And yes. And I don’t even bother trying to figure out the directions myself anymore.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. And I think that is a little bit of the problem, right? Because what happens when AI tools are, for lack of a better way of putting it, so involved with the conversation that customer service representatives are having, that the customer service representative doesn’t need to improve. They don’t need to get better. They don’t need to learn because the AI is nudging them the right way all the time.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. Well, interestingly enough, everyone in the articles seem to think that we were still pretty far away from AI tools like this taking over call centers. The Cogito scientists felt that it was at least a decade away and the call center representatives noted that they didn’t feel threatened that Cogito would take their jobs because, and I’m quoting here, “People want to speak to a real person.”

Joey Coleman: Yeah. One of the problems I see with this type of thinking is that humans have an incredibly difficult time understanding the exponential change that is happening on the planet today. I mean, if we look at science, our brains developed over millennia in an evolutionary fashion and now change is happening at an exponential rate. And our brains just aren’t designed to be able to comprehend the speed and the significance of the changes. I had an experienced not too long ago, Dan, where I was sitting at a table with a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, a financial advisor, and me, a professional speaker.

Dan Gingiss: It sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke.

Joey Coleman: It does sound like the beginning of a horrible joke, right? But what was interesting is we were talking about AI and we were going around the table. And what was fascinating to observe is that everyone at the table could see how all the other professions were going to be eliminated except for theirs. They would say, “Oh yeah, we’re not going to need doctors. We’re not going to do to lawyers, but accountants. You know accountants will still be necessary.” And it was fascinating to watch how people just couldn’t comprehend when it was that close to home. And I have to admit, I kind of felt that same type of thing going on in the article when the call center representative who was quoted was like, “Well, people want to speak to a real person.” Well, not all people, and not if that person doesn’t do what they hope they’re going to do. And not if that doesn’t resolve the way they think it’s going to resolve.

Joey Coleman: It’s just interesting to think about how these technologies are changing faster than our human brains are.

Dan Gingiss: Well, I’m a believer that AI can be really useful in helping humans do their jobs better. So I love the concept of having like an AI machine next to a call center agent telling them all of the details of the customer’s previous experience with the company, so that they don’t have to be on four different screens looking that stuff up. And then the agent can really spend the time giving that human to human interaction that I do think customers want. If you extend that out to a doctor, for example, there was this story about how IBM’s Watson detected some disease in somebody that 15 doctors couldn’t find. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Watson is going to do the surgery. I think it can definitely play that role in having access to so much data and being able to crunch it at a rate that our brains simply can’t handle, but next to a human that makes all of us that much smarter and that much better at our jobs.

Joey Coleman: I think it does, but again, with all great new technological advances come new challenges. One of the things that I thought was interesting in the article is they told the story of a woman who explained that after working with Cogito for a series of time, when she was in conversation with her boyfriend, he noticed a change in her speech patterns.

Dan Gingiss: Oh, wow.

Joey Coleman: That she was speaking more directly, that there wasn’t as much fluff or nuance. And the author alluded to the fact that isn’t it the fluff and the nuance that makes conversation between humans, human. And so what happens when we strip all of that away to just be about call times and resolution and, oh, the AI can anticipate exactly what the individual wants. It makes a little less personal empathy and personal  connection I think.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, I can definitely see that happening. So Cogito’s chief behavioral scientist Skyler Place had some interesting and somewhat shocking observations about how the world will change in the next three years. Place observed, and I’m quoting, “There’s a future where AI software like this becomes part of our normal day to day in conversations with parents, with spouses and in preparing for job interviews.” The team at Cogito is already using an AI application internally to coach and advise on everyday employee interactions, but the CEO is quick to acknowledge that they aren’t, “Quite yet sure if the general population is ready for this.”

Joey Coleman: Not quite sure if the population is ready for this? Yeah, I don’t even think we’re close to ready for any of this, Dan. But I think at the end of the day it’s coming whether we like it or not. And so the question needs to shift, I believe from a place of are we ready for this to happen? To, what are we going to do when this happens? Because it’s no longer a question of if, it’s just a question of when.

[Book Report] Find Encouragement and Inspiration as a Self Reliant Entrepreneur

Joey Coleman: We spend hours and hours, nose deep in books. We believe that everything you read influences the experiences you create. So we’re happy to answer our favorite question. What are you reading?

Joey Coleman: In 1841 Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer, speaker, and father of the Transcendentalist Movement wrote the following. “Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoreous was misunderstood and Socrates and Jesus and Luther and Copernicus and Galileo and Newton and every pure and why spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Dan Gingiss: Have I stumbled into the wrong show? This is an interesting way to start things off. I don’t think we’ve ever opened a segment here on the Experience This Show with a philosophical quote, let alone one from the 1800s.

Joey Coleman: I think we have Dan and I appreciate you and our loyal listeners for humoring me. But I thought this quote was interesting for two reasons. First, I think it describes most people working in customer experience today. I think we’re frequently misunderstood by our coworkers and peers and colleagues, and yet I think that’s great. Customer experience while familiar to all of us is still a pretty evolving discipline in the corporate setting. But second, while I’ve heard that quote I shared before I came across it recently while working my way through a book that my good friend John Jantsch wrote. The book is called The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur: 366 Daily Meditations to Feed Your Soul and Grow Your Business. Now, you may be familiar with John’s Duct Tape Marketing series of books, which are fantastic by the way. Especially Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine.

Joey Coleman: But his newest book is a bit of a deviation in terms of topic and format. And so I wanted to discuss it in this segment of what are you reading?

Dan Gingiss: Okay, I’ll bite. How is it different from his other books?

Joey Coleman: Well, the self-reliant entrepreneur is more akin to a workbook than a typical business book, but the overall goal is pretty similar. It’s meant to inspire, to encourage, to provoke, to educate. Each day of the year receives its own entry, which includes inspirational writing from a transcendentalist movement writer, basically enough to get you thinking, pondering. And then each day’s entry concludes with a challenge question, asking you to apply the thinking from that day’s entry to your own life. Now, what does this have to do with customer experience? You might be wondering. Well, to be honest, many people who work in customer experience are either entrepreneurs or within their own organization, they play a entrepreneurial role leading the change to create organizational change.

Joey Coleman: Being an entrepreneur or even entrepreneurial can be quite difficult at times and frankly can feel pretty lonely. The book with its powerful self-reliance message, I think could be pretty useful to folks in those positions.

Dan Gingiss: But based on the way you describe the book, you don’t need to be an entrepreneur to get value it seems. Purchasing a copy to read the incredible text and make time to answer the questions at the end of the day’s entry could provide some fantastic introspection for anyone.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, I think it could Dan, and that’s again why I was excited to talk about the book a little bit. I think there’s something for everybody in John’s book, The self-reliant entrepreneur. You should definitely consider picking up a copy on Amazon at Barnes & Noble or your local Indie bookstore. In passing I’ll share another quote from the book that I think describes a mantra that all CX professionals can follow. “Reason of course, keeps us out in jail, prudently employed and modestly goal oriented, but achieving the impossible, implausible or heaven forbid, unconventional, better way of doing something requires setting unreasonable ambitions buttressed with unreasonable actions. In fact, progress depends on it. The only truly unreasonable act is to believe that everything is okay as it is.” Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw put it this way, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man. Today pledge to free yourself from the limitations of reason and give yourself permission to dream of things no reasonable person could.”

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Leveraging Data to Personalize Experiences

Joey Coleman: Sometimes all it takes is a single question to get your company thinking about an improved customer experience. Here’s an idea for how you can start the conversation.

Joey Coleman: This week, start the conversation topic is, leveraging data to personalize experiences. Customer data can be used for many purposes, including tracking interactions, charting transactions, and managing marketing outreach. Data gathered during customer interactions can also be used to personalize future experiences which often foster a deeper relationship with the customer.

Dan Gingiss: Here are three ways data can be used to personalize interactions. One, using portal interaction data to automatically surface support content that better meets the customer’s needs and historical approach to seeking resolutions. Two, streamlining contact center interactions by comparing the customer’s phone number or IP address against past interaction reports. Three, using trend data to identify common pain points and eliminating them or creating specialized journeys for individual customer segments.

Joey Coleman: We talked a lot on the show, Dan, about the power of personalization. And I think this has been proven time and time again. I know as a consumer when I call in to a call center and because I’m calling from my cell phone number, they recognize that and they answer the phone and call me by name and immediately get to anticipate what I might be calling about. Like for example, when I call Delta and they recognize me and they say, “Oh, Mr. Coleman, are you calling about your flight tomorrow to LaGuardia?” It just speeds the conversation. It makes me feel like I matter. It makes me feel like they actually care about my business. And so I think every business should spend more time thinking about creative ways to personalize their interactions.

Dan Gingiss: For sure. I mean, as consumers or even as a business’s clients, we know that the companies we do business with have data on us, so you might as well use it.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely.

Dan Gingiss: And use it to our benefit. And now for this week’s question about leveraging data to personalize experiences, what customer data are we tracking and are we effectively using it to drive better experiences? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with Avtex at experienceconversations.com. That website again is experienceconversations.com.

[Love It, Can’t Stand It] What Happens When One Customer’s Experience is Impacted by Another Customer’s Behavior

Joey Coleman: Sometimes the customer experience is amazing and sometimes we just want to cry. Get ready for the roller coaster ride in this edition of, I love it, I can’t stand it.

Joey Coleman: I was thinking about something the other day while I was flying, Dan.

Dan Gingiss: Congratulations Joey.

Joey Coleman: Oh, I set myself up for that one, didn’t I? Didn’t I? Nice. Oh, well actually what I was thinking about was how on an airplane, one customer’s experience can be dramatically impacted by another customer’s behavior. And when that happens, the affected customer associates that experience not only with the other customer who quote unquote, caused it, but it also spins off onto the airline for better or for worse. And this got me thinking that it would be interesting to explore all the ways someone’s experience on an airplane could be dramatically impacted by the other customers. In short, how one company’s customer experience could be completely out of their control and what a company could do to monitor and adjust these feelings as need be if another customer infringes on the experience they’re trying to create.

Dan Gingiss: I’m guessing there might’ve been an incident on this plane that triggered this idea.

Joey Coleman: There was, but to be honest, it didn’t happen to me personally. I was on the plane thinking about a story a friend had told me, who this happened to them. They spend a lot of time on planes. They’re professional speakers as well. And at the risk of grossing anyone out, I will share this story, but I would encourage you folks, please stop eating or drinking if you’re doing either of those things right now while you’re listening to this show because you’re probably not going to like this story.

Dan Gingiss: Okay. Putting the coffee cup down. I’m getting a little nervous here Joey.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, let’s, let’s not have a spit take. And this is pretty intense. Okay, here it goes. My friend was flying in first-class here in the United States and noticed that a gentleman across the aisle and a row ahead of her had taken off his shoes while they were in mid flight. He then proceeded to take off his socks and just when my friend thought it could get no worse, the other passenger started clipping his toenails.

Dan Gingiss: Oh, come on.

Joey Coleman: I swear it’s a true story, it was terrible for everyone involved because not only were the toenails being clipped, but it’s not like they were being clipped onto a paper towel, they weren’t just being clipped onto the floor and onto the other people. And I don’t know how it works for you all, but sometimes when you cut a toenail, it doesn’t just gently fall right below the toe, it shoots off. There literally were toenails shooting across first-class.

Dan Gingiss: Oh, thank you for making me put that coffee down.

Joey Coleman: I know, right?

Dan Gingiss: I’m absolutely disgusted right now.

Joey Coleman: And this is why I thought my friend was lamenting that the flight attendants didn’t do anything about it. And they also commented on the fact that given this airline’s reputation for having maybe not the best attention to detail, that would those toenails be picked up by the cleaning crew or could it be several flights later and someone would still be finding the biological matter of a passenger who flew several flights before.

Dan Gingiss: Okay. I’m kind of in shock. Let’s change the subject.

Joey Coleman: Fair enough. Fair enough. Okay. Here’s the thing, and again, apologies to any of the listeners that were as disturbed and disgusted by that story as much as Dan and I were. But let’s change gears a little bit, and no pun intended, pull this back to 35,000 feet. I’d like to talk about all the things that can happen on a plane, stemming from one customer’s behavior, impacting another customer’s behavior. And I think what we can show here is how this impact can be positive or negative. And as a result, I thought it might be fun to talk about some of the things we love and can’t stand. So Dan, why don’t you kick us off?

Dan Gingiss: Good. I want to go first.

Joey Coleman: All right?

Dan Gingiss: I cannot stand it when people bring smelly food onto a plane because sometimes it’s great and it smells like nice French fries and sometimes it’s a little fancier of a meal or a little spicy or what have you. And it permeates the entire plane.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, it really does. And if you don’t like that particular type of cuisine, if you like that type of cuisine, it’s usually fine.

Dan Gingiss: Well no, because then you’re hungry and you really want it.

Joey Coleman: But fair enough, fair enough. But if you don’t like that type of cuisine, it can get really ugly really fast.

Dan Gingiss: It’s bad.

Joey Coleman: The one that is showing up pretty much every time I fly now that is just ridiculous, is when passengers are playing games or watching videos on their phone and they’ve decided not to wear headphones. Because they’re like, I’m sure you want to hear the cards sliding across as I play solitaire. The little… Honestly?

Dan Gingiss: I kind of like that sound.

Joey Coleman: Oh my gosh, you like it?

Dan Gingiss: Only when I’m playing.

Joey Coleman: You like it at the beginning. But after two hours of a flight… The other day I finally was, “I can’t handle it anymore.” And I actually leaned forward and said to the person, “You do realize that this entire section can hear you’re playing solitaire, right.” And the person was like, “Oh no, sorry.” And I’m like, “How did you not know? Are you so numb and so unaware of your own behaviors?” Okay. I’m getting worked up.

Dan Gingiss: Speaking of which, I cannot stand it when there’s someone on the plane that believes that he is the most interesting man in the world and is going to talk loudly and share his knowledge with us for pretty much the entire flight.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, and I love the gender specificity of that statement because it’s always a guy. It’s never a woman pontificating about the deals she’s closing and all the promotion she’s going to get. No, it’s some dude just harassing the person next to him. Totally agree. It’s ridiculous. One that I think I’ve observed people doing lately on flights is watching their favorite news channel, which is often fairly sensationalized in an age where news is a negative trigger for many people. I’ve actually seen the energetic shift when somebody flips on a news channel in front of them that clearly isn’t the news channel preference of the person sitting next to them and suddenly they realize they might be on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, and I’m not going to go back to your opening story because I’m still disgusted. But I have also seen people perform other personal grooming activities on a plane. Flossing teeth, putting on deodorant, that sort of thing.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. the putting on deodorant while sitting in the chair that that one’s, it’s rare, but when it happens, I’m just like, “How is this happening? Is somebody filming this? Are we in an episode of the Twilight zone or funniest home videos because I’m confused.”

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. There’s a bathroom on the plane for a reason.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. I’ll say the last thing. Let’s do one more that we can’t stand. The last one is one that I’m personally sensitive to because I have a six year old and a three and a half year old. It’s when the person sitting next to us on the plane is watching clearly non age appropriate content when they have a child or children sitting next to them. Now thankfully when I fly with my kids we take up a row, so it’s not really an issue. But I have seen unaccompanied minors flying next to again, mostly guys who decided that they want to watch something like John Wick 3, which is an incredibly violent movie sitting next to two six-year-old twins and I’m thinking you do realize that they see the screen, right?

Dan Gingiss: Although to be fair, I’m going to push back on this one because you could flip the script and say that to that guy, the problem is the thing he can’t stand is having to sit next to two six-year-olds, right? Because now have to dictate what he gets to watch.

Joey Coleman: Fair enough, fair enough. But also when you get on the plane and there are 50 movies to choose from, I think it’s okay to say, “Look, I don’t care if you watch something that’s maybe a little more adult in its nature, but it doesn’t have to be pushing the adult with a capital A, boundaries.”

Dan Gingiss: True.

Joey Coleman: All right, so that’s enough bad news. What about the impact of positive experiences? What are some of the things you love, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: Well, I appreciate it when the person on the window seat or the aisle seat understands that the person in the middle is really uncomfortable and allows them to have the armrests or at least most of the armrests rather than trying to fight them for it and make their experience even more miserable.

Joey Coleman: Oh, yes. We have talked about this before on the show when we talked about the changes that are coming to the middle seat. Yes. The rule is the person in the middle seat gets both armrests. I also really like it when people don’t put their seats all the way back or sometime, the best ones don’t put them back at all. It’s so ridiculous when I’ll be sitting on my laptop and next thing I know either the laptop is being jammed into my chest or it’s flipping off the table because the person in front of me has decided to throw their seat back with careless abandon, not even… I don’t know, if you’re going to put it back, at least go back slow, but just throw it back like, “Hey, don’t mind me while I sit in your lap?”

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I think the sounds like you’re taking an, I can’t stand it and just flipping it into an I love it. Making it negative.

Joey Coleman: That’s kind of what happened right there. That’s true. That’s true.

Dan Gingiss: Tell us about your biggest mistake in business. Well, my biggest mistake is that I’m just too good at what I do.

Joey Coleman: It’s called taking a negative and turning it into a positive, Dan.

Dan Gingiss: But actually I believe that the airplane should just stop making the seats go back.

Joey Coleman: Agreed. 100%

Dan Gingiss: Like today with the amount of leg room there is, it’s not necessary to go back even three or four inches, just to stop it. Don’t make it [.

Joey Coleman: 100%.

Dan Gingiss: But I also appreciate… I love sitting on the aisle because I get a little extra leg room and can put the legs out into the aisle, et cetera. But when somebody wants to get up, I always stand up so that it’s easier for them to get out.

Joey Coleman: Of course it’s because you’re a decent human being.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. And I like it when people do that to me versus me having to… That whole dance of trying to climb over someone and not touch them or their things. Is just so uncomfortable and all they have to do is stand up and it would eliminate that.

Joey Coleman: It really would. Another thing I love is when passengers decide to follow the rules and use the storage above their seats, only after they’ve used the storage under the seat in front of them. It never ceases to amaze me when you get on the plane. And lots of times I’m doing quick turns and quick connections. So I’ve got my carry-on backpack as well as my small carry-on bag and I get on the plane and the cabin space above or the luggage space above is taken by tiny purses and tiny backpacks and little things where I’m like, “Seriously, that could go under the seat.” So I love it when people do that.

Dan Gingiss: I do too. And I also appreciate when somebody takes the time to read their seatmates body language. And what I mean by that is, do they want to talk and be spoken to or do they just want to read and work quietly and watch a movie? It’s oftentimes people will act the way they want to act, not how the receiving person wants them to.

Joey Coleman: Yes, the pro tip on that folks. Get the headphones out of your bag immediately upon being seated. Put those in if you want to avoid the conversations. Well, I think what’s interesting here is, all of these examples are about the airlines, but let’s not get caught up in thinking that this is only an airline problem. Many of our listeners have interactions where they can have more than one customer in their place of business at the same time, restaurants, movie theaters, doctor’s offices, and someone who is a customer that’s not you, could be impacting or influencing your experience. And so I think there’s an opportunity for businesses to think a little more strategically about what kind of behaviors happen within their place of business from other customers.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I agree. And I think this is also true in the B2B world too. Is that we do business with companies and sometimes those companies annoy us in how their employees behave. Maybe they email us too often. Maybe the salesperson is calling me too often and I’ve asked him to stop or that I only want to speak to him once a week or whatever it is. You have to be able to read the other people in your environment and act accordingly.

Joey Coleman: Interestingly enough, it’s pretty easy to see how the behavior of another customer could dramatically impact your customer experience for better or for worse. What can a company do about it? Well, one option would be to adopt a code of conduct for your customers. Set clear expectations on what’s allowed and not allowed, and then be ready to celebrate or enforce the code as need be. We’re seeing this more and more with youth sporting events, for example, that have specific rules around parental behavior as opposed to child behavior.

Joey Coleman: Which is so needed, so needed. And I think it’s just a matter of time before we actually see this start to show up more in customer environments like restaurants and retail establishments and modes of transportation. Ask yourself this, if your customers are in the same place at the same time, how are you making sure that they enjoy the experience without infringing on another customer’s enjoyment?

Joey Coleman: Wow, thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: We know there are tons of podcasts to listen to, magazines and books to read, reality TV to watch. We don’t take for granted that you’ve decided to spend some quality time listening to the two of us.

Joey Coleman: We hope you enjoyed our discussions, and if you do, we’d love to hear about it. Come on over to experiencethisshow.com and let us know what segments you enjoyed, what new segments you’d like to hear. This show is all about, experience. And we want you to be part of the Experience This Show.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks again for your time and we’ll see you next week for more.

Joey Coleman: Experience-

Dan Gingiss: This.

Episode 72: If You Really Want to Show Your Customers that You are Loyal, Don’t Expire Their Loyalty Points!

Join us as we discuss one of the biggest annoyances in air travel, treating your most loyal customers poorly, and the importance of learning all you can about your customers.

Eliminating, Expiring, and Understanding – Oh My!

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Episode 70 – How Small Details Add Up to Create Positive Customer Experiences

Join us as we discuss: the key takeaways from a designer of colored bricks, how behind the scenes activity can support your customer-facing activity, and how the art inside the front door can set the tone for a stay.

LEGO, Leverage, and Lobbies. Oh my!

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Episode 68 – The Rewards of Taking Risks to Promote Inclusivity

Join us as we discuss: the role of gender in artificial intelligence, explaining a printed piece of paper using a video, and taking an online store into the mall.

Choosing, Perusing, and Browsing. Oh my!

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Episode 67 – Creating Unique Experiences Through Exclusivity and Humor

Join us as we discuss: how humor can play a role in the customer experience, an unlikely alliance of fierce competitors, and a marketplace that helps bars set prices based on supply and demand.  

Smiles, Sodas, and Sips. Oh my!

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Episode 66 – Going One Step Beyond to Engage Customers in Unexpected Ways

Join us as we discuss: embracing conspiracies to liven up your experience, making everything you touch part of the experience, and paying attention to your customers’ celebrations so you can join them in the festivities.

Gargoyles, Rings, and Birthdays. Oh my!

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Episode 62 – How to Build Community with Communication

Join us as we discuss:  new tactics to enhance your customer service in social media, how one school district deals with frustrated parents on snow days, and the airline that saved a wedding.

Responding, Rescheduling, and Recovering. Oh my!

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