Dissecting the Experience

Sometimes a remarkable experience deserves deeper investigation. We dive into the nitty-gritty of customer interactions and dissect how – and why – they happened. Join us while we’re DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE!

Episode 95: It’s The Little Things That Make You Stand Out from the Competition

Join us as we discuss the added difficulty of ordering very large items online, a loss of identity in one major travel industry, and what we love — and can’t stand! — about rental cars.

Sleeping, Renting, and Driving – Oh My!

[Listener Stories] What Happens When a Mistake Turns into a Remarkable Experience

We love to feature the great customer experiences our listeners have every day. While almost everyone has a negative customer experience to share, when someone has a remarkable experience with a company – even when the product isn’t delivered as promised – it’s worth exploring. Loyal listener Carol Clegg (marketing consultant and “creator of destination mastermind business retreats for solo women and business owners” at Travel Like A Local Today) reached out to share a remarkable experience she had with Wayfair.

Carol ordered a mattress and was notified that it was damaged in transit. This was obviously not the news she hoped for – especially since she needed this large, expensive item delivered within a specific time window for an Airbnb she and her husband owned. When she called Wayfair, the customer service representative was able to immediately handle the issue. The mattress was replaced, expedited, and the entire issue was resolved with a single call!

[S]he put that all together within minutes. I got the notification that it was on its way to me, and it was just her attitude, her willingness, her friendliness, and no questions asked! She took care of it. This is the customer experience that people need to have when they’re dealing with companies.

Carol Clegg, Marketing consultant and loyal listener of the Experience This! Show

The fact that this was a large purchase (both in size and price tag), with a time sensitive delivery window, made for a huge impact when things didn’t go as planned/promised. However, by remedying the situation quickly, efficiently, and effectively, a negative experience turned into a remarkable case of customer service. What can you do to empower and train your team to turn negative experiences into positive ones by going above and beyond?

P.S. Don’t forget – we love to hear from our listeners! Share your story with us today by leaving a recording here.

[Dissecting the Experience] When a Customer Experience is Indiscernible from Any Other

When traveling recently, Dan was quickly reminded that every single rental car company was eerily similar. Despite his investigatory efforts, he concluded that there was very little to differentiate one company from the next. The questions asked by the check-in staff were the same, the cars all looked the same, the contracts seemed to be written by the same lawyers. The entire industry had become so commoditized that each and every company looked and felt the same.

The real epiphany came when I was sitting in the rental car, and I realized that there was not a single differentiating feature that told me which rental car company I had rented from.

Dan Gingiss, co-host of The Experience This! Show podcast

The car rental experience is filled with tedious, commoditized interactions that are ripe for disruption including:

  • The Contract – Rental agreements are lengthy, boring, and filled with language the average person can’t begin to understand let alone enjoy. Customers are left to initial here, here, here, and here, and then hope for the best.
  • Gas – Why are the only two options (a) bringing the car back with a full tank (which means you need to delay your race to catch your plane with a pitstop at an over-priced, airport gas station), or (b) commit to paying a high price for an entire tank of gas – regardless of how much you actually use?
  • Insurance – No one seems to understand or agree whether you should sign for or decline the offered insurance. Most people don’t even understand their own auto insurance policy – let alone options that are presented with a tone that reeks of “unnecessary upsell.”
  • Tolls – You’re visiting a new area and they expect you to be able to effectively determine whether you need to drive on toll roads or not? And they they charge you a fee for the privilege of using a toll road – even if you don’t drive on one? How does any of this make sense?
  • The Car – When you get in the car, there is nothing to identify the car as being in a specific company’s fleet. The cars all look and feel the same. The same makes. The same models. The same colors. The same interiors.

But it’s not just rental cars. Every industry has commoditized elements that are waiting to be disrupted. What elements of your industry are the same as your competition and what could you do to shake things up?

[Love It/Can’t Stand It] Love Upgrades, Hate the Lines…

While the rental car experience feels the same regardless of which brand you choose, it’s certainly not a good feeling. Certain aspects of the experience are great (upgrades, the chance to drive unique or unfamiliar cars, the ability to choose your ride in the garage, etc.) while others are beyond annoying (long lines after a long flight, needing to find a gas station right before returning, uncertainty about the insurance, etc.).

The point of this segments isn’t to pick on the rental car industry – but rather to show that every business has things customers love and can’t stand about the experience. Do you know what your customers love and can’t stand? If not, are you working to figure it out? If you do know, are you working to accentuate the positives and eliminate the negatives?

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 95 here or read it below:

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. Always upbeat and definitely entertaining, customer attention expert Joey Coleman, and social media expert Dan Gingiss serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience. So, hold onto your headphones. It’s time to experience this.

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

Joey: Join us as we discuss the added difficulty of ordering very large items online, a loss of identity in one major travel industry, and what we love and can’t stand about rental cars, sleeping, renting and driving. Oh my!

[Listener Stories] Learn to Provide an Experience People Can’t Stop Talking About 

Joey Coleman: You listen to us. Now, we want to listen to you. By visiting our website and sharing your remarkable customer experiences with us, we can share them with a broader audience. Now, sit back and enjoy our listener stories.

Dan Gingiss: In case we haven’t mentioned it before, we love listener stories.

Joey Coleman: Oh, we do love them.

Dan Gingiss: We know that customer experience happens every single day, and there’s no way Joey and I can stay on top of every experience with every company. That’s why we depend on you, our loyal listeners, to share your great experiences with us, so we can talk about them here.

Joey Coleman: Now, as a reminder, you can share your experiences with us by going to experiencethisshow.com, the contact page, and then there’s a big orange button that says start recording. When you click on that button, you can just leave us a little voicemail. Now, why do we use the start recording? Well, if we get your listener story where possible, we’d like to include you telling your story instead of us just relating your story in our own words. So, check that out at experiencethisshow.com, the contact page, and then start recording your own listener story.

Dan Gingiss: So, today’s listener story comes to us from Carol Clegg, a marketing consultant and “creator of destination mastermind business retreats for solo women, business owners” at Travel Like A Local Today. Carol called in with this story about e-commerce company, Wayfair, a retailer that sells furniture and home goods. Let’s hear directly from Carol.

Carol Clegg: Hi, Dan. This is Carol here from retreats2Lisbon and Twitter, and I’m giving you some feedback on my great customer experience with Wayfair. It just makes my heart feel so good when you have a really good experience and somebody cares and somebody listens. So, I bought items before from Wayfair and know that their customer service is excellent. So, when I purchased some household things recently, one of them being a new bed for an Airbnb that we have, I was updated with their frequent text messages, which is wonderful, that the item was damaged in transit. That actually was a notification from FedEx.

Carol Clegg: I called Wayfair at their 1800 number. I did not hold on for long. I got to speak to a really nice person who immediately pulled up my order, no delay, no needing to check in with somebody else to get approval to do something. She could see that the order was on its way back to her, and she said to me, what would I like to do? I said I’d love a replacement and as quickly as possible because we’re traveling for December, and I really would like it to be delivered while my husband is still home, so he can assemble it, and I only have a really tiny window to do that. She put that altogether within minutes. I got the notification that my shipment was on its way to me. It was just her attitude, her willingness, her friendliness and no questions asked, take care of it, that was that wow. This is a customer experience that people need to have when they’re dealing with companies. So, you can tell that I am a little passionate about having the good experience as a customer. That’s because I think it’s so important.

Joey Coleman: Now, before we dive into the specifics of Carol’s story, I just want to go back to one of the first things she said. “It just makes my heart feel so good when you have a really good experience and somebody cares and somebody listens.” Wow. If that doesn’t inspire you to try to create a great experience for a customer, I’m not sure what would. Imagine what a customer whose heart feels good would do for your company. Well, if she’s like Carol, she’d tell a lot of other people about her experience.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly, and that’s kind of the point of this segment on listener stories. We don’t ask you to share bad experiences because we hear enough about those in the media and in social media. We focus on the great ones because those companies deserve the word-of-mouth marketing they get from thrilled customers. So, let’s unpack the bed story. The first thing that I realized from this is that this is a big-ticket item in more than one way. It’s big because a bed is pricey, and it’s big because a bed is large in size.

Joey Coleman: Right.

Dan Gingiss: So, that in itself makes this a difficult transaction from the beginning.

Joey Coleman: Right, and no pun intended, bigger items with bigger prices have the potential for bigger problems. This is actually compounded by the time sensitive nature of the situation. As Carol noticed, they were going to be traveling, and they really wanted to get it delivered before they left. Now, I’ll be honest. I’ve been in that situation where you order something online, and I spend a lot of time on the road, and I’m trying to rush to get things there before I leave or I don’t want things to come after I’ve left especially like something like a bed that would sit on the porch waiting, sending a signal to every burglar and thief driving by that guess what? No one is home. So, there’s a lot of elements of this experience and challenges for Wayfair to deliver a remarkable experience for Carol.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. The things that stuck out to her, she was able to contact them and not have to hold or wait to talk to somebody, which of course is one of the major pain points of calling a toll-free number. The thing that I think really stood out the most was that there were absolutely no questions asked. If you didn’t like the bed, you could return it, and there’s no questions asked. That takes away the fear that people have. Every time we buy a big-ticket item, whether we want to or not, we have a little bit of buyer’s remorse. Should we have parted with that much money? Was it worth it, et cetera? When you can take that fear away from customers, they are going to trust you more, and they’re going to trust their own instincts in terms of making the purchase, which exactly is what I think Wayfair wants to happen.

Joey Coleman: We’ve talked about these types of guaranties and warranties on the show before. I don’t understand, Dan, why more companies don’t just move to the no questions asked. Now, I get it. There are some people that will abuse that, but I truly believe that the increase in your business that you will get from people that are loyal to you because you have a no questions asked policy far outweighs anybody that would abuse you.

Joey Coleman: In fact, years ago, I had the chance to do some consulting work with Zappos. They are infamous for their policy that you can return a pair of shoes up to 365 days after you’ve purchased them. I was having a conversation with the then CEO, Tony Hsieh about this policy and like, “Well, how does fraud work in this?” He said, “Look, Joey, we recognize that there’s some people that will abuse the system, and we track how often people call back and return the shoes later. Now, after they’ve reached a certain point, which we’re not going to disclose publicly what that threshold is, but I promise you, it’s really far down the road, we will actually just say to them, “Guess what? We’re not a good fit for you. We’re removing you from our customer ranks, and you can’t buy from us again”” The number of people that actually get removed is really small, so I think all businesses could stop and think about what is the no questions asked policy you could adopt for your product or service to create more customer loyalty.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. I think that’s a great story about Zappos because it often is the case that companies will find the exception first, and that will be the reason for not doing something. “Well, we can’t offer a no questions asked because people take advantage of it.” Well, yeah. A few people may take advantage of it, and you should put guardrails in place so that the gamers, as we used to call them at Discover, the gamers can’t win out all the time, but the truth is, is that if you have any sort of rewards or loyalty program, anything, any opportunity, any loophole at all, gamers are going to find it. Right? That is a cost of doing business, but it doesn’t mean that you should not create a great experience for every other customer because you’re afraid of two or three customers taking advantage of you.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. Don’t let the fact that one or two may abuse it, stop you from helping all the others. In the same way that we often talk about on the show, don’t feel that you have to create the same experience for everyone. If you want to treat a handful of customers better than others or go above and beyond in this scenario for someone, it’s not as if that then becomes the rule that you have to follow every time. Wayfair doesn’t always have to treat their customers as well as they treated Carol. It’s amazing that they did, but don’t let the going above and beyond by a single agent stop you from doing more of it in the future.

Dan Gingiss: One last thing that I want to highlight before we finish this segment is, what did Carol do after having this great experience with Wayfair? Well, number one, she reached out to her favorite podcast hosts and shared the story, knowing that we would share it with more people. Presumably, she also told friends and family about it, but also, I think we know that the second thing is the next time Carol needs any kind of furniture or home goods, she’s going back to Wayfair. So, thanks again to Carol Clegg for sharing her listener story, and kudos to Wayfair for providing a remarkable customer experience.

[Dissecting the Experience] Rental Cars

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: All right, Joey. We’re going to ad lib a little game here-

Joey Coleman: Oh, great.

Dan Gingiss: … that we did not talk about ahead of time, but I think you’re going to be good at this. It’s called name that airport code.

Joey Coleman: Oh geez. All right.

Dan Gingiss: I know you’re a big traveler.

Joey Coleman: All right. I am.

Dan Gingiss: So, I know you can do it.

Joey Coleman: All right.

Dan Gingiss: Let’s start with an easy one. You’re from Denver. What’s Denver’s airport code?

Joey Coleman: DEN.

Dan Gingiss: Okay, and I’m from Chicago, and O’Hare is?

Joey Coleman: ORD.

Dan Gingiss: Right. If we go all the way West to Los Angeles, it is …

Joey Coleman: Probably LAX.

Dan Gingiss: Okay. Now, how about Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania?

Joey Coleman: Yeah, no idea.

Dan Gingiss: Well, for our astute listeners, it’s AVP-

Joey Coleman: AVP.

Dan Gingiss: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. I had an interesting experience renting a car there recently. Now, to be fair, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, as you might imagine, is a small airport but nonetheless, it got me thinking. When I approached the counter, the very first question I was asked was, which rental car company? I took a step back, and I realized there were three stations at the counter, one for Avis and Budget, which are sister companies, one for Hertz and Dollar, which are also sister companies, and one for National and Enterprise. Ditto.

Dan Gingiss: Each station had a separate employee, and each had the same first question. So, it got me thinking about how the rental car industry has become so commoditized that even presumably competing brands are combining their experience into a singular, undifferentiated one. The real epiphany came when I was sitting in the rental car, and I realized that there was not a single differentiating feature that told me which rental car company I had rented from. It literally could have been any of them. So, I know you travel a lot too, Joey, and you probably noticed these same things, but I came up with five parts of the rental car customer experience where I think there’s an opportunity to differentiate, but it’s not just being done. So, you jump in with the experiences that you’ve had as we go along. Cool?

Joey Coleman: All right. That sounds good. Yeah, and I’m super excited we’re having this conversation because I, number one, can’t believe we haven’t talked about this before. I too find that there is zero differentiation, and number two, I am waiting eagerly for someone to come in and completely disrupt the rental car industry.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. So, I do want to say that the five things I’ve come up with are very U.S. centered. I have heard, and occasionally, I’ve only rented a car once or twice overseas, but I’ve heard that the experience is quite different outside the United States and maybe quite better than the United States. So, for our international listeners, please know that we’re talking about U.S. based rental car companies here. Now, the first thing is the contract. The contract usually starts, the discussion about the contract usually starts with initial in these seven places, and then sign here.

Joey Coleman: Right, and you’re encouraged to do it as quickly as possible. It’s on a small screen that’s difficult to read, and it’s just like click, click, click, sign, and give me the keys.

Dan Gingiss: You’re actually giving them the benefit of the doubt because most of the time, I find it’s not on a screen at all. It’s still on paper.

Joey Coleman: Oh, interesting. Interesting.

Dan Gingiss: I would say that when you have to initial in seven places, that is already a pretty good sign that the experience is too complicated.

Joey Coleman: Yes. This is the classic case of the lawyers, and for those of you that may not remember, I’m a recovering attorney, so I have permission to make fun of lawyers. A classic case of the lawyers determining the customer experience, which should always be a red flag in your organization. Have customer experience people involved in the conversation. Now, as we talk about a lot on this show, required legal disclosure language is a great opportunity for a creative marketer to turn it into an experience. After all, the goal is to get the customer to read and understand the legal contract, yet that’s not usually the result. As I implied, folks are just encouraged like, “Just initial here. You don’t …” I’ve actually had car rental agents tell me, “You don’t need to read it. Just sign it.” That’s always a comforting feeling when signing a legal agreement that if something goes wrong, I have to buy a car.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, don’t say that to a lawyer, folks. That’s not a good sign. So, I say that instead, rental car companies could use icons and easy-to-understand language in the contracts. They could convert the process to an app or some sort of mobile digital thing like you were describing and/or ask the desk employees to explain it to every customer in plain English. So, instead of saying, “Just sign it. Don’t read it,” what they could say is, “Here are the seven things that you’re signing. If you want to read in more detail, the language is there for you.” So here’s the next one. The gas.

Joey Coleman: Oh.

Dan Gingiss: Now, there are usually two choices with neither one being a good option.

Joey Coleman: The bad choice and the even worse choice.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. It’s the we win and the you lose choices. You can either pay for an entire tank of gas upfront, which is usually at a reasonable per gallon rate, but if you’re traveling less than 300 miles, you end up paying for gas that you don’t use, or you can let the rental car company fill the gas tank when you return it, which is usually at a per gallon rate that is three times the average fill-up price. Of course, you can also fill up the tank yourself as long as you remember-

Joey Coleman: Oh, raise your hand if you’ve returned a rental car and not filled it up with gas.

Dan Gingiss: Yes.

Joey Coleman: That would be me so many times, I’ve lost track.

Dan Gingiss: Because either you forget or you run out of time or you can’t find a local gas station, et cetera.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. This is so absolutely ridiculous. There has to be a simpler way. Now, for example, one way a company could stand out would be to offer a worry-free return policy where they charge you a reasonable per gallon amount for the gas used, or why don’t you just charge me for the gas used? That’d be my favorite part. I’d be willing to pay the more expensive price if you only charge me for the number of gallons that I actually used while I had the car rented. This would completely change the rental car experience and create value for the customers in the process.

Dan Gingiss: Agreed. So, how about this one? Number three, the insurance. Now, let’s face it. Very few Americans understand the nuances of their insurance policies whether it’s health insurance, home or renter’s or auto insurance. We talked about this way back in episode nine when we looked at the poorly named explanation of benefits. It is neither an explanation nor a benefit in the healthcare industry and the language it uses that customers do not understand. In the rental car industry, this poses a big problem in the unfortunate event of a car accident while driving the rental car. It also results in customers often paying twice for the same insurance, once to their auto insurance company and once to the rental car company.

Joey Coleman: Oh, and I’ll go one step further, Dan. Depending on the credit card you have, there might be a third company you’re paying for insurance, and that would be your credit card company that includes in their annual fee certain coverages or if you have a credit card like I do with American Express, they have a program that I’ve opted into, which every time I pay for a rental car with my American Express, not only do they cover part but I have a separate rider that kicks in that they charge me separately with insurance, but you’re right. It’s like you need a law degree, or you have to have previously sold insurance to be able to navigate all of the twists and turns of insurance for your car.

Joey Coleman: Now, instead of offering a $20 per day insurance rider that most people turn down because you know they don’t want to pay $20 but some people unsuspectingly accept, why not add one or $2 to every rental and insure everyone automatically? It’d be one less thing for the drivers to worry about, it’d be something easy for the agencies to do, and they’re already charging you all of these random fees that get bundled in that are different than the price that is originally quoted. Bump that up just a little bit. Cover the insurance, and pitch it as a benefit to your renters.

Dan Gingiss: Absolutely. So, number four is the tolls. Now, it’s perfectly fair for rental car companies to charge customers for tolls used. What’s less fair is to also charge a per day fee for the benefit of having the E-ZPass device in your car.

Joey Coleman: I also love that the per day fee applies to every day of the rental period, not just the days that you use the E-ZPass. So, for example, if you’re going to rent a car for a week to go to the beach and you have to drive on the toll road on day one to get there and on day seven to get back to the airport, you get to pay for the days that your rental car was parked at the beach. Not that I’ve ever had something like this happen before.

Dan Gingiss: No, and if you read the fine print, which I know you as a recovering attorney do, it also is charged per calendar day, whereas, the rest of the contract is per 24 hours.

Joey Coleman: Yes.

Dan Gingiss: Meaning, if you rent a car on a Tuesday and return it on a Wednesday, you’re charged for one day of rental but two days of the toll because you have it on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, it’s absolutely insane especially because at the end of the day, the rental car company likely doesn’t incur any costs to have the toll reader in the car in the first place. Now, granted there’s certainly bookkeeping that needs to be done to allocate the right tolls to the right customers, but I agree, this is something that could be much simpler and fair to all the customers.

Dan Gingiss: Last but not least, in fact, maybe the most important is the car itself. Wouldn’t it be nice to find a bottle of water or a mint in the car when you pick it up? How about a sign that thanks you for being a customer and directs you to the telephone number if you need help with anything? Better yet, consider using the OnStar technology found in many cars to allow the driver to contact the rental car agency directly with a question or problem.

Dan Gingiss: Another idea would be to partner with SiriusXM to equip all cars in the fleet with a radio service. A nice added benefit, which would also serve as a perfect taste test to then market the subscription service to car owners, or consider painting the cars a more unique color than black, white or gray to make it easier to find a rental car in a crowded parking lot. The list goes on and on.

Joey Coleman: Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more here, Dan. In fact, on more than one occasion, I’m embarrassed to say I have walked out of a hotel and put my keys into the door of the wrong rental car to unlock the door because I was parked to another rental car of the same make and model that was the same color. Huge opportunity to stand out here. It’s difficult to tell any of these apart.

Joey Coleman: In addition, when it comes to being in the car, what I think is fascinating is, why is there no signage anywhere in the car, even on the key chains? Half the time, the key chains don’t have the name of the rental car company. If I was trying to create loyalty and I had that time of you sitting in the car, I would be doing things to make you think positively about my rental car company instead of making you just feel like this could be any car on the planet. Now, I will say there’s a brand that is trying to disrupt this world called Silvercar. Silvercar is owned by Audi, and all their rental cars are Audis. So, they’re super nice cars.

Dan Gingiss: Really? Shocking.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, and they’re all silver but in this case, they’re all really nice cars, and they stand out in the crowd.

Dan Gingiss: So, that’s five ways we think that rental car companies can improve the customer experience. Did we miss any? If you have one you’d like to add, go to experiencethisshow.com and click on contact to leave us a message, and if there are other industries you’d like for us to cover in a similar way in a future episode, we’d love to hear that from you too.

[Love It/Can’t Stand It] Rental Car Companies

Sometimes, the customer experience is amazing, and sometimes, we just want to cry. Get ready for the rollercoaster ride in this edition of I love It, I Can’t Stand It.

Dan Gingiss: It’s time for another edition of I Love It, I Can’t Stand It where we take a look at an industry and try to identify all the things we think are going right and the things we wish we could get fixed.

Joey Coleman: By the way, folks, just as an aside, don’t get caught up in the industry we’re talking about. The point we’re trying to make with this segment is every industry has things that the customers love and can’t stand. One exercise you could do in 2020 with your team is to sit down and just make a list of all things your people love and all the things they can’t stand. Now, you’ve got your homework of what you want to work on to enhance in the new year.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. So, since we just talked about my rental car experience, we thought it’d be fun to circle back and talk about this often overlooked travel experience. So, let’s start with the loves. Joey?

Joey Coleman: I love it that I can drive a type of car or a model that I haven’t driven before. Now, I’m not much of a car guy, but I do enjoy seeing the different car brands in action. So, if there’s a VW or a Kia or something I don’t drive very often, I’m psyched to get the chance to check it out.

Dan Gingiss: Similarly, I love it when I get a new car or a car that has very little mileage on it because it just feels like such a treat to drive a car where you’re only like the second or third or fourth person to drive it because I drive a nice car, but I’ve had it for a long time. It’s got a lot of miles on it so-

Joey Coleman: Doesn’t quite have that new car smell anymore.

Dan Gingiss: It’s kind of lost the new car smell.

Joey Coleman: I love it when they let me pick the car I want. A couple of the car rental places, you’d go out, and they’re like, “Just pick any car from this row.” What I also love about that is my six-year-old and my four-year-old sons, they get to pick the car, and it adds, after a long flight, it makes the rental car experience of waiting around to sign the contract, need everything done, a lot more enjoyable because they feel that if they’re patient and well-behaved during that process, they get to decide what we drive for the vacation.

Dan Gingiss: Likewise, I love it when, of course, they upgrade the car for me. Even if I don’t need a bigger car, and I usually don’t because I’m often traveling by myself, it just makes me feel good like I’m a valued customer. Certainly, if I have the family with me, it’s a godsend.

Joey Coleman: I love it when a toll device is already installed either inside the car or a license plate reader, and I don’t have to think about it. Often, when you’re in a new place, you don’t know which roads are toll roads and not toll roads. Most people aren’t traveling around with a bunch of change in their pockets anymore. So, it makes it a lot easier for you to navigate new territories when you don’t have to factor in tolls.

Dan Gingiss: Finally, we referenced this in the last segment. I love it when I get a car that isn’t white, black or gray because I can actually find it in the parking lot. When I do have that chance that you mentioned where I get to pick my own car, I will often go for one that is not one of those three colors. All right. Those are the things we love about renting cars, but of course, there are some things that stick out to us as opportunity areas. So, Joey, why don’t you get us started on the can’t stand?

Joey Coleman: Oh my gosh. I’m going to try not to explode when I talk about this one, but the lines at the rental car counter are insane. Now, I get it that they want you to sign up for their loyalty programs so that you can pass right through and your name’s on the board, but sometimes, and I’m a partner with a lot of the different rental car companies, I don’t have one that I’m particularly loyal to. Lots of times, you get to an airport, a little random airport as it may be, and you’re forced to use a company you haven’t used before and then you have these lines.

Joey Coleman: In fact, I spent at a, what I would call a small to medium-sized airport in Wisconsin recently, I spent over an hour in line. I had my wife and my two boys with me, and by the time I finally got to the front to rent the car, the entire family was ready to be done with the vacation that had just started.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. Have you ever gotten there and there’s like six rental car counters from different brands and everyone’s in your line-

Joey Coleman: Exactly.

Dan Gingiss: … and the other ones are empty?

Joey Coleman: I’ve always thought there’s a huge opportunity. If I own a rental car company, what I would do is I would give all of those other brands the opportunity to say, “We will match your price right now.”So, whatever it is.” You could walk out of line with your contract or with your confirmation and say, “I was going to rent this type of car for 100 bucks instead of having those folks just sit there on their phones, playing Candy Crush.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. Well, I can’t stand having to refill the gas tank before I return the car for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m usually in a place that’s foreign to me, so I don’t know where the nearest gas station is, and then you’ve probably gone through this too. You try to find one that’s close to the airport, but of course, the ones that are close to the airport are really expensive, or you try to find one that’s a little bit farther away, but you hope that after you fill up, by the time you get there, it still says full, right? All this while you’re trying to catch your flight, so you’re worried about having enough time. It’s just a huge inconvenience. If that one thing could be removed, I think the whole experience would be a lot smoother.

Joey Coleman: Agreed, Dan. Agreed. I also can’t stand it when my car smells especially when it smells like cigarette smoke. Now, I know most of the rental car companies you get in the car, it’s got a big sign that says no smoking. Well, guess what? People smoke in the car. So, what I don’t understand is how the people that cleaned the car didn’t notice the smell and felt it was okay to put it back in the line because the car’s going to be cleaned. It’s going to be pulled around from that little spot into a new parking spot. Someone from the rental car company has been in the car and didn’t care enough about the experience for the customers to flag that, hey, we need to do something to get the smell out of this car.

Dan Gingiss: That’s a great point because that person that’s checking the car, they’re checking hundreds of cars every day. So, each individual car is not a big deal, but for the customer, that car is the entire deal, right? That one car is the entire deal, and so my one of my kind of stance is very similar, which is when there’s something wrong with the car, it hasn’t been checked out before I drive off. So, you drive off and the second you leave the place, you see a low tire pressure come on or you see something like that, and you’re like, “Oh crap. Now, I got to worry about car problems, and this is exactly why I’m renting a car, is to not worry about car problems. And these are things that need to be checked out ahead of time.

Joey Coleman: Agreed. I can’t stand the math and the evaluation that I have to do to figure out if the insurance is worth it or not, right, and which insurance. There’s always like seven levels of insurance. We cover if it’s a Tuesday and you get into a fender bender over here, but if you get this insurance, we cover every day of the week. You’re like, I’m not sure if I’m running on a Tuesday. I can’t remember. It’s like folks, there’s got to be an easier way to handle car rental insurance.

Dan Gingiss: Finally, this may sound petty, Joey, but I can’t stand that so many rental car companies still use dot matrix printers. The reason is, is I think the dot matrix-

Dan Gingiss: I think the dot matrix printer is symbolic of bigger things, right?

Joey Coleman: Oh, totally. If that’s your idea of the technology you’re bringing to the table for the experience, you’ve told me everything I need to know about how much you value the overall experience.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. You compare that to using an iPad or some sort of a technology where I can check in before I even get there. Think about the hotels we’ve talked about where you can now open up your hotel room door with your phone. You don’t even need a key, and yet, some rental car companies are still using [inaudible 00:31:03]. It makes no sense. So, those are the things that we love and can’t stand about rental cars. If we missed any, please let us know at experiencethisshow.com, and if you have an industry where you’d like to share your loves and can’t stands with us, go to experiencethisshow.com to the contact section and click on start recording to leave us a digital voicemail that we may use in a future segment.

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. 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.

Joey Coleman: Experience …Dan Gingiss: This.


Episode 94: The COVID-19 Experience

Thanks for joining us for a special episode of the Experience This! Show podcast.

Depending on when you first became aware of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and its impact on individuals, businesses, and society at large, chances are better than not that you’re now 100% aware of this pandemic situation.

We felt like this new, unprecedented situation called for a special episode. COVID-19 is already having significant impacts on customer and employee experience around the world and we can’t begin to imagine the longterm effects of this pandemic on all aspects of business going forward.

This is a serious topic, with serious implications, that we don’t fully understand just yet given the speed in which this virus has spread around the globe and the fact that scientists worldwide are working around the clock to understand. Our comments and discussions are based on the best information we have at the time of this recording – March 21, 2020.

For the first time in human history, everyone – regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, culture, creed, or socio-economic standing – is dealing with the same issues at the same time. While the world is filled with uncertainty, one thing remains clear today – as it has always been: people who take care of their customers and employees during a crisis will have customers and employees when things get better (which in time, they certainly will).

[Say What?] Communication in Times of Crisis

Everyone is communicating with their customers about COVID-19 right now – but most of the communications feel the same as they outline extra precautions being taken, enhanced cleaning protocols, and the like. While these communications certainly have a place, they aren’t as effective as they could be.

Some organizations are communicating with their customers in unique ways:

What can you do to make your communications during the COVID-19 pandemic more actionable and meaningful to your customers?

  1. Don’t Just “Check the Box” in Communicating with Customers – It’s not enough to send an email that says “we’re thinking of you.” Do more than the minimum required.
  2. Project Calm and Confidence – Let your customers know what you’re doing for them and make suggestions as to how they can take action to help themselves as well.
  3. Identify Opportunities to Provide Real Value in Context with Your Brand Offerings – You have expertise to share to help your customers navigate this situation. Don’t sell, but make every attempt to provide value based on your skills, knowledge, or expertise.

[Required Remarkable] Relaxing Policies & Procedures

Every business needs policies and procedures to function. That being said, policies and procedures are not meant for times of pandemic. What we’re seeing now is that the most forward thinking, customer-centric businesses are already adjusting and revising their policies to show that they are conscious of the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on all of their customers. Examples of great changes in policies and procedures include:

What can you do to make your policies and procedures more conscious of the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. Review All of Your Policies and Procedures NOW to Come Up with COVID-19 Conscious Versions – Focus on doing the right thing for your customers and employees.
  2. Be Empathetic – Brands endear themselves to customers and employees based on how the behave in times of crisis. What you do now will be remembered later.
  3. Put People Over Profits – Make the hard decisions to consistently put people (customers, employees, vendors, etc.) over profits. They won’t forget it.
  4. Trust Your Gut – You actually know exactly what to do – even if it feels difficult or challenging. Remember that EVERY business on the planet is dealing with COVID-19 right now. You’re not alone.

[Dissecting the Experience] Helping Your Employees

In the best of times, happy customers equals happy employees. The inverse (happy customers equals happy employees) stands true as well. These maxims apply during times of crises too.

As more companies come to grip with the realities of COVID-19, many companies are stepping forward to help their employees. By being flexible and doing all they can to make sure employees feel safe and taken care of, organizations are making it easier for their employees to keep taking care of their customers. Some employee-centric activies include:

  • Do not require anyone to come into work who doesn’t absolutely need to be there physically.
  • Practice social distancing religiously and make sure employees are equipped with proper protection (e.g., sanitizer, gloves, masks, etc.)
  • Be flexible in allowing employees to take care of their families during this stressful time – especially those with children who are suddenly home from school due to school closures around the country.

What can you do to make sure your employees are taken care of during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. Happy Employees = Happy Customers – Don’t forget to take great care of the people that serve your customer.
  2. Front-Line Employees Represent Your Brand Now and Always – Make sure that the people who have the most contact with your customers have everything they need (professionally and personally) to deliver the customer experience you desire.
  3. You Will Need Your Employees in the Future – Just as you are going to need your customers after the COVID-19 crisis passes, you will also need your employees! This is the time to engender pride in and loyalty to the organization.

[This Just Happened] The Experience when You’re the Customer

The COVID-19 crisis is impacting everyone. While many businesses are thinking about their customers and their employees, one category of people your business interacts with that are being hit hard by this virus are your suppliers.

Every business has suppliers, vendors, and merchants that provide critical products and services in order to keep the business running. Every individual has providers and merchants that deliver personal services they want, need, and/or appreciate. During this trying time, what are you doing to take care of your suppliers/providers so that they are still in business after the crisis ends?

Lots of businesses will struggle and close – especially small and local businesses – you can do your part to help them survive by following a four step process:

  1. Make a List of Your Key Suppliers – Both in your personal and professional life.
  2. Reach Out and Discuss the Situation – Address the elephant in the room that is the COVID-19 crisis and talk openly and honestly about your desire to continue to do business with your suppliers/providers during and after the pandemic.
  3. Get Creative – Purchase gift cards, pre-book appointments, pay for services that can’t be rendered during this time but are important to you so that the people delivering these to you are still in business when things start to return to normal.
  4. Thank Them – Customer service workers and account mangers are doing all they can to help in these trying times. In difficult circumstances, a kind word to an overwhelmed customer service representative doesn’t just help advance your position, but it’s the right thing to do.

[CX Press] Using Company Resources to Help

Every business has unique skills that can help their customers during the COVID-19 crisis. The most creative companies have identified ways to provide valuable resources to their customers and prospects alike – without worrying about monetizing every interaction. Some of the more generous COVID-19 “offers” include:

  • Loom (video recording and sharing service) – made Loom Pro free for teachers and students at K-12 schools, universities, and educational institutions.
  • LinkedIn – made sixteen of its learning courses free – highlighting courses that provide tips on how to stay productive, how to build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, and how to use virtual meeting tools.
  • Comcast, Charter, Verizon, Google, T-Mobile and Sprint have signed a pledge to keep Americans internet-connected for the next 60 days – even if people cannot afford to pay.
  • Even more generous offers from businesses can be found in this “running tally” from the team at JUST Capital here.

Some additional resources that we found to be extremely useful in their “positive” tone include:

10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks From Around the World – by McKinley Corbley on Good News Network

The FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition – by Peter Diamandis

What can you do to make sure your products, services, and expertise more easily available to people that can benefit from it during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  1. Remember Your Unique Abilities – Companies have the unique ability to provide resources to dramatical help their communities of customers and prospects.
  2. Find a Way to Give Back, Even in a Small Way – Every little contribution helps when people are struggling at a global level.
  3. Make Time to Appreciate the Positives – Now more than ever it’s important to not get caught up in the negative news and instead look for positive stories of customer delight, employees going above and beyond, and organizations working together to help everyone navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

[Season 5 Sponsors] Thank You Avtex!

We want to thank our wonderful sponsor for Season 5 of the Experience This! Show – our good friends at Avtex.

Avtex’s knowledge and experience in orchestration allows them to help you leverage the people, processes, and technology you need to implement your plan. You can learn more about the great team at Avtex by visiting their website at www.avtex.com

Thank you for joining us in this unprecedented podcast episode of Experience This! Our normal episodes (all recorded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) will return next week.

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 94 here or read it below:

Joey Coleman: Welcome to Experience This.

Dan Gingiss: 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.

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

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

Joey Coleman: So hold on to your headphones it’s time to Experience This. Welcome to a special episode of Experience This. Depending on when you first became aware of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and its impact on individuals, businesses, and society at large, chances are better than not that you’re now 100% aware of this pandemic situation.

Dan Gingiss: After fielding Dozens of emails, calls, and text messages from listeners of the Experience This show, our clients and past audience members, Joey and I thought it was important to deviate from our regularly scheduled programming, and do a special episode all about COVID-19 and its impact on customer experience.

Joey Coleman: Friends, this is a serious topic with serious implications that we don’t fully understand just yet given the speed at which this virus has spread around the globe, and the fact that scientists worldwide are working around the clock to understand what’s happening. Our comments and discussions are based on the best information we have at the time of this recording, on Saturday, March 21st 2020.

Dan Gingiss: Our goal in the episode, as in every episode of the Experience This show, is to discuss customer experience from a positive light. Telling the positive customer experience stories as a way of inspiring and encouraging our listeners to think deeper, wider, and more expansively about the role of customer experience in their organizations.

Joey Coleman: For the first time in human history, everyone, regardless of your age, your gender, your race, your nationality, your culture, your creed, your socio-economic standing, everyone on the planet is dealing with the exact same issue at the exact same time. Even if you’re in a place where the coronavirus COVID-19 hasn’t spread as much as some of the other places in the world, you’re still reading about it in the news, you’re seeing it on TV, you’re seeing posts about it on social media. The good news is, we’re all in this together. And as we’ve said many times on this show, the businesses that take care of their customers now will have customers when things get better, because the businesses that show empathy, that show care, that put customer experience as a primary focus will succeed.

Dan Gingiss: Now this episode is going to run longer than our usual episodes as we have a lot to cover. Instead of three segments, we’re actually going to bring you five different segments in this podcast. We want to thank our loyal sponsor Avtex for their continued support of season five, including this special episode. What does it take to shift the standard from meeting the bare minimum of customer needs to over-delivering at every touchpoint? It’s about being able to plan exceptional experiences and set those plans in motion. And that’s exactly what our friends at Avtex do? Visit them at www.avtex.com.

Dan Gingiss: It’s shocking how often people use 38 words to describe something, when two would do the trick. We are looking at you lawyers and accountants, words matter. And there is no excuse for trying to hide what you mean. We explore words And messaging in this next iteration of, say what!

Dan Gingiss: In 2018, when the European Union’s general data protection regulation, better known as GDPR went into effect, email inboxes were flooded with privacy policy updates. Now they’re inundated with urgent announcements about coronavirus measures from every company that has our email address on file. Most of these, including those from the major US airlines, say almost exactly the same thing. But some have taken the opportunity to stand out in a time of crisis. And these are the ones we can learn from and be inspired by.

Joey Coleman: In the first few weeks as the pandemic started to spread around the world, many airlines sent out email messages saying, guess what, we’re going to clean the planes even more than we’ve cleaned them in the past, and explained the materials they were using and how they were going to be making sure that it was safe to fly.

Joey Coleman: My favorite airline, Delta, which as loyal listeners of the show know, I fly all the time, sent an email that said, “Not only are we going to do additional cleaning on the plane, but here’s a video describing it.” And in the video, the head of customer experience at Delta described their usual cleaning process as well as their augmented cleaning process. And they actually showed people using a special, almost like fogging machine, that they had used that would disinfect the planes, and then wiping down the seats, and how they were doing this on every turn. And I got to be honest, as somebody who was already committed to delta and loyalty Delta, when I saw this video, I thought, wow, they really do care about me as a person and are going above and beyond the cleaning they normally do. And it left me feeling excited to fly again.

Dan Gingiss: And I want to share a contrasting story about this Joey is that after all the airlines had shared those emails about the cleaning process, I was waiting to take a flight that was late. And anybody who has been in business school and has done the Harvard business case on Southwest Airlines, knows that it takes an airline, at a minimum, 30 minutes to clean a plane under good circumstances. They can’t do it faster than that. And so this plane is late, it arrives late, the passengers exit the plane, and immediately they start the boarding process [crosstalk 00:06:23] environment. Yes, what happened to your enhanced cleaning process? Like, only if we’re not late, right. And so I did feel like, hey, if you’re going to tell people that you are spending the extra time, please take the extra time to do it.

Dan Gingiss: So another thing that I really liked, I saw two different emails from two different organizations having to do with food, one was Domino’s Pizza, and one was our friends at Imperfect Produce that we have talked about on a previous episode. Both of them sent emails talking about contact-less delivery, and that’s this idea that you don’t even have to interact with a delivery person, if you’re practicing social distancing, which we all should be doing.

Dan Gingiss: And so the way that works is the delivery people are gloved up, so they’re not actually touching your product. They don’t even touch your doorbell. They simply leave the item at your door and then you receive a text message that it’s there waiting for you. You don’t have to sign anything, you don’t have to exchange any pleasantries. And so this concept of contact-less delivery, I thought was really interesting just because it adheres to the situation at hand, which is, we got to stay away from each other even if we’re continuing to buy things and have things delivered.

Joey Coleman: I agree, Dan. And what impressed me, to be honest, is how quickly, at least with Domino’s, because I got that email, how quickly they built that opportunity or that option into the App. I mean, this was before cities we’re talking about stay in shelter orders, it’s before the lockdown had really started, it’s like they were anticipating the need for this. And I think wherever a brand can provide a little bit of insight into, hey, we imagine our customers are thinking about this, and so are we, that stands them in good standing in terms of their reputation.

Joey Coleman: I also got an interesting email from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and now some other companies have done it as well, but I got it from Enterprise first, that said, they were lowering the age minimum for renting a car. It used to be that you had to be 25 to rent a car, Enterprise came along and said, “We’re going to lower the rent a car age to 18.” And they explained in the email that the reason they were doing this is because so many colleges and universities around the country were closing and kids needed to get home with their stuff, and flights were becoming harder to get. And I just thought this was a great example of a customer centric message in this time where a lot of the emails were more about, hey, here’s how you can use these tools that we’ve already had, whereas Enterprise was saying, hey, we’re making some changes to acknowledge the realities of this pandemic situation.

Dan Gingiss: And what I love about that is that those college students are going to be loyal to Enterprise for years to come just as I was in college.

Joey Coleman: 100%, yes.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. I mean, when I was in college, Enterprise was one of the only companies that would rent to college students, and that’s kept me loyal all these years because it was the first company that I ever rented a car from. So, these are-

Joey Coleman: So forgive me Dan. What I loved about it too is I don’t have college aged children and I’m well past college age myself. But when I got this email, I’m not kidding you, I shared it with a couple of my friends who I knew had kids that were in college and had started to lament, oh my gosh, if their school closes, how are we going to get them home? I was able to forward this on and share it with some people.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, it’s awesome. Which is exactly as marketers what we want to happen.

Joey Coleman: Right, exactly. Word of mouth actually happened because it was a remarkable change in policy that we wanted to spread the word on.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. So another message that resonated with me was from Charles Schwab. Now I’ve been a Charles Schwab customer since I graduated from college many years ago. And-

Joey Coleman: [inaudible 00:10:17] Folks when he rented that car.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. And what I loved about it was that they didn’t talk to me about cleaning their offices, they didn’t talk to me about visiting the CDC website like everybody else did. They talked to me about what Schwab could do to help me now. And I want to read the introductory paragraph because the other thing that they did so well, was they showed empathy to the situation that all investors are in with what’s going on in the stock market.

Dan Gingiss: It says, “To our valued clients. At Schwab, we have a deep and abiding belief in seeing the world through clients eyes. That simple, powerful idea helps us stay focused on what’s most important, living up to The trust you place in us every day. With so much uncertainty in the financial markets and concerns about COVID-19, investing for the future may seem more complicated than ever. Please know that every one of us at Schwab is committed to helping you meet your long term investing goals. I also want to remind you of the resources available to you.”

Dan Gingiss: And then they list expert perspectives, which is their analysis and commentary, service options, and one to one guidance, so they’re actually offering the ability to meet with somebody to review your portfolio and determine next steps in such a turbulent market. And this letter was signed by the President and CEO, Walt Bettinger. I thought this was really cool because it was actionable. It wasn’t the same old that everybody was telling us, it was something that I could actually do. And it made me feel much better than I already was, which I had been positive on Schwab obviously for a long time, but it made me more confident in my choice.

Dan Gingiss: The other letter that I received that really stuck out to me was from a recent conference that I spoke at Catersource. And Catersource is the largest catering industry association in the country. And they also sent out a letter that I thought was so empathetic and offered real help, that it really, to me, stood out as a great example that other brands could emulate. And here’s how their letter started. “Dear Colleague, this will not be the type of traditional letter that you have been seeing transmitted from businesses across the globe. This is a letter to, for, and about you. We see you. We share your pain for the losses and massive disruption you have incurred over the past week, and we’ll continue to incur as social distancing and closing mandates continue. We understand the despair and anger you must be feeling, the distressing business decisions you have to make that were not in your strategy for 2020. This is also a letter about how Catersource can help you.”

Dan Gingiss: Again, like the Schwab letter, it combined genuine empathy with real solutions and real help at a difficult time.

Joey Coleman: I love it. So we have three key takeaways from this conversation. Number one, don’t just check the box in communicating with your customers, okay. Don’t send the same email that everybody else is sending. Think about what you can do differently, how your tone can be different, how your focus can be different, how you can actually change the conversation.

Joey Coleman: Number two, project calm and confidence. Never in the history of corporate communications, has there been a greater need for letting your customers know that you are paying attention, that you are thinking strategically, and you are doing everything in your power to be there for them.

Joey Coleman: And number three, identify opportunities to provide real value in context with your brand. Sending someone to the CDC website, while a fantastic and useful resource, if that’s not associated with your brand activities, you don’t need to include that in your messages. Instead, give clear action steps, things that you are an expert in, things that you would recommend your customers be doing at this challenging time. By doing that, they will remember you when the pandemic subsides.

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.

Joey Coleman: Every business needs policies and procedures in order to function. That being said, policies and procedures are not meant for times of pandemic. What we’re seeing now is that the most forward thinking, customer-centric businesses are already adjusting and revising their existing policies and procedures to show that they’re conscious of the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on all of their customers.

Joey Coleman: For example, we talked earlier in the last segment about Delta Airlines. Now, I fly Delta a lot. In fact, last year, I logged over 160,000 miles on that individual airline. What happened when the COVID-19 crisis started to hit is that Delta came out, and many airlines did, saying, “We will give you a one year credit for any flight that you need to cancel. If you need to change the flight, there will be no change fees. And we’re going to waive any of the type of associated fees we’ve previously had on changes in ticket price, change fees, cancellation fees, etc, and you’ll just have this running credit.”

Joey Coleman: Now, as somebody who flies Delta a lot, that was fantastic because, as you might imagine, at the time this all started to hit, I had many, many Delta flights booked in the future. Frankly, to the tune of 10s of thousands of dollars, which under a traditional policy, I would have lost. Thanks to Delta being more aware, I now have a credit that will allow me, when we all start flying again, to be able to buy those tickets with dollars I’ve already spent.

Joey Coleman: This made me love and appreciate Delta even more. It actually endeared me to the brand because of the way they had changed their policy to acknowledge the impact it was having on me personally as a flyer, even though we also know it was having an impact on them as people aren’t buying tickets and aren’t flying, that means that they’re actually struggling with money. But the good news is because they’re giving me the credit, they don’t have to refund the money, so they get to keep some of that cash and defer when they need to deliver on the service to me until later when it becomes easier to fly.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. And American did something very similar and I appreciated it as well because I had a bunch of flights booked too. And obviously the airline industry is in a lot of trouble right now and it’s likely going to be the beneficiary of a government bailout. But ultimately, we are going to all start flying again, it’s going to happen at some point. And this is the moment where airlines and other companies can either retain their customer loyalty or they can aggravate their customers and send them to the competition. And I think both Delta and American have done a really nice job of retaining that loyalty.

Dan Gingiss: One thing that stuck out to me, Joey, I’m just wondering if you had thought of this as well, is that a lot of these fees that are being reversed and canceled, they didn’t exist 10 years ago. Remember, it [crosstalk 00:17:52] took the airline industry almost collapsing to start creating all these ridiculous nuisance fees, and I wonder whether the long term aspect of this may be, hopefully fingers crossed, that they start rethinking these ridiculous fees. My favorite one is now the one where it costs you money to redeem your miles.

Dan Gingiss: So you’ve earned all these miles and now you want to use them to buy a ticket, and that’ll be $75 each way to use your miles. I mean, whatever accountant came up with that idea, I’m sure it made billions of dollars for the airlines, but it is so customer un-centric, it is so anti-loyalty literally, because the whole idea of earning miles is that you’ve been loyal, and now all of a sudden we’re going to basically punish you to use those miles. I’m hoping that it causes some of the airlines to rethink some of these and maybe never bring them back.

Joey Coleman: I think you bring up a great point, Dan, and it’s really the case that this entire COVID-19 crisis, while incredibly stressful, while incredibly challenging and with huge costs both monetary, the cost of lives, I mean that the impacts of this are going to be felt for many, many years to come, right. Even once we’re on the other side of the pandemic, there will have been things that have happened that will be difficult for anybody to overcome.

Joey Coleman: What I do hope is that organizations, and hopefully the folks listening to our show, are looking and saying, in this downtime, in this period where business isn’t as usual, let’s actually look at everything. Let’s look at everything we’re doing and come at it from a lens of saying, I understand we were doing this in the past, but do we need to do it going forward? Is it the right choice? Is that the customer centric choice? Is it the way that we want to operate as a business? I think there’s a real opportunity here.

Dan Gingiss: I absolutely agree. And as we both have said recently, there is no more important time than right this second to be focusing on customer experience, because even if you don’t have customers right now because you’ve had to temporarily shut down your business, when things go back to normal, the question is going to be, are the customers going to come back or are they going to go somewhere else? And what you do right now is going to have such a big impact on that.

Dan Gingiss: Joey, we both have different utility companies, because we live in different states, and I believe we both have monopolies you Xcel Energy and me ComEd in terms of electricity, and I always love looking at utilities, especially monopolies, and how they act because customer experience, you could make an argument, they don’t need to focus on that, because we don’t have a choice in where we [crosstalk 00:20:39] get our electricity.

Joey Coleman: Yes. And we want electricity so therefore, you have who you have.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, but both of our utility companies, I think, did something very similar, while it didn’t necessarily benefit you or me specifically, I think we both felt really good about it. Which was, that they announced that they would not cancel anybody’s electricity for lack of payment. And that basically they guaranteed that all customers were going to have their electricity remain on during this crisis. And for people that were having trouble paying, they would work out a payment plan and basically allow you to punt it down the road and not worry about losing electricity on top of all the other worries that you have right now.

Joey Coleman: Hugely important and hugely valuable. And most utility companies have a rule that they can’t cut the power during the winter, especially in colder environments like you live in Chicago, and like I have here in Colorado. But the fact that the utility companies, at least it appears, I’m not sure about this, but it appears like they acted before there was legislation saying they couldn’t cut. To me, to your point, left me feeling better about my energy company. I was like, wow.

Joey Coleman: And God forbid I do end up in a situation where I couldn’t pay for my electric bill, I’m really excited to know that I’m taken care of. I thought that was a great example of when you’re messaging to your customers, even if the message doesn’t specifically affect them, like the Enterprise email about lowering the rental car age that we talked about in the last segment, it still has a lifting effect because it allows your customers to know that you’re thinking about them, even if the things you’re doing don’t actually impact them personally.

Joey Coleman: Speaking of things that I think are unexpected and delightful communications, I had a week long stay planned at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas that was actually supposed to happen this past week, and the hotel had to close down because of COVID-19. What I thought was really interesting is I got an email from them at about 2:00 AM, the night before we were technically supposed to be checking in. Now we had already decided we weren’t going on our trip. But the email said, “Because we’re closing the hotel down for the next month, we are refunding everyone’s deposits who has a reservation at our hotel.”

Joey Coleman: Now the MGM has 6,000 rooms, right, this is an enormous hotel. But the email went on to say, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to call in and tell us you’re canceling, you don’t have to call in and tell us you’re affected, give us some time, and they kind of implied in the next 24 hours, and we will reverse back and refund to all of your cards the cancellation. I thought this was a great example of a company saying, hey, we’re going to do something, but good news is, we’re taking care of it, you don’t have to ask, you don’t have to worry about it, it’s coming back your way.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, I love that. And while not as proactive, I had a great experience. I had a hotel booked for three nights at the Mohegan Sun Pocono in Pennsylvania. And this was a three night prepaid non-refundable rate. And I called up and said, hey, I had to cancel my trip. I actually said, I’m going to move it because I will be back, is it okay if I move it? And they said, “We’re just going to give you a refund. It’s fine, no questions asked.”

Dan Gingiss: And I’ll admit, I was a little surprised because it would have been so easy for them to hide behind their policy and say, I’m sorry, but you bought a non-refundable rate too bad for you. But they were very, very amenable and they, I think, have ensured that the next time I go there, and I go there a lot because I have a consulting client there, that I’m going to stay there. And so again, short term loss, because they lost some money from me, long term gain because they gained my loyalty.

Joey Coleman: So, what do we need to do in these crazy times? Number one, look at your policies and procedures now. Don’t wait. Get into them right now and come up with COVID-19 conscious versions. Versions of your policies and procedures that acknowledge the realities of the world today, and put your customers first.

Joey Coleman: Number two, be empathetic. Brands can really endear themselves based on how they behave in times of crisis. This is definitely a time of crisis, and the more empathy you can show towards the position your customers are in, the more likely your customers will be to stick with you through this crisis, and be back as loyal customers once things start to return to normal.

Joey Coleman: Number three, put people over profits. I understand as a business owner, that is easier said than done. But it is more important now than in any other time in your business’s history. We need to focus on our customers and our employees and doing the right thing for them, even if it means our profit margins are going to go down.

Joey Coleman: Now, employees listening, there’s going to need to be some assistance from the employees as well. But the employers have the opportunity to lead the charge. And last but not least, trust your gut. Remember that every business on the planet is in this same situation right now. It’s not Just you, it’s not just your industry, it’s not just the businesses in your town, every business on the planet is dealing with these challenges. There’s more time for empathy and grace for all of us if we just recognize that we’re all in this together, trust our guts, and do the right thing.

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: We’re now going to turn our attention to employees. Just as taking care of your customers in a time of stress and crisis is critical, it’s also important to focus on your employees, because similar to the best of times, happy employees equal happy customers. And unfortunately, the inverse is also true. So it’s very important to make sure that your employees remain healthy, safe, and confident.

Dan Gingiss: Now, there are a lot of places in the country, including my home state of Illinois, that already have shelters in place requirements, so people are working from home. There are other places in the country where people are still going into work, either because they are essential employees in essential businesses, or because their companies unfortunately have not yet made a decision to ask people to stay home.

Dan Gingiss: This is such a critical time to show employees that you care about them and that you understand that they are the engine behind your business. And oftentimes, they’re the front lines of your business that are talking to customers. Imagine asking an employee to talk to a customer and try to comfort them and make them feel safe when they don’t feel comforted or safe themselves. So the first thing is, please do not require anyone to come into work who doesn’t absolutely have to. The good news is, we live in an era where remote working has become popular anyway, Joey and I have worked from our homes for a while. Many people have worked from home for a long time and know how to do it. And we have the technological resources to do it.

Joey Coleman: Think about the definition of the word essential as well. I’ve been in some conversations in the last week where I heard employers talking about certain employees as being essential, and when I press them on it, they actually just decided that they wanted that employee to keep working, the functions that they needed that employee to do was not essential that they be performed at the office. They could have been performed by home. So I think there’s a real opportunity here because you’re employees are smart people too. If you’ve tagged them as essential, and they don’t feel that it’s essential, they may not feel comfortable speaking up because they want to keep their job. And I think there’s an opportunity for all managers and employers to really think about what is the true definition of essential in a pandemic crisis.

Dan Gingiss: Yes. Totally makes sense. I mean, unfortunately, not every employee is essential, even though they may think they are, or in the best of times, maybe they are. But right now essential employees is generally going to be a smaller list. Now, if employees must work in person in the office, it’s absolutely critical that you practice social distancing religiously. And that they have the proper protection, such as gloves, masks, sanitizer, etc, so that coming into work is literally not risking their lives, right.

Dan Gingiss: I mean, we all joke about how we spend more time at work than sometimes we spend at home or with our families, but work is important it is not worth risking our lives for. And so it is really important that if you are going to require people to come in, that they feel safe and that they feel protected.

Dan Gingiss: Another thing that I think is really important that sometimes we lose sight of even in the best of times, is that employees have families, and families are stressed during this time as well, especially those of us who have kids that are suddenly home from school, and bored, and we’re trying to keep them entertained while also keeping our jobs and working, and that causes even more stress. So just as we often talk about stepping into the shoes of your customer, it’s so important to step into the shoes of your employees and really understand what they’re going through right now.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. And I think we need to be thinking as employers, how are we going to handle an employee becoming sick? What are you doing to think ahead now for the employees who actually are essential? Is there an opportunity to cross-train? Is there an opportunity to do some scenario modeling where if that person who’s the linchpin in your business, either is personally sick, or has a spouse, or a significant other, or a child, or a parent that is sick, what are you going to do to hopefully be able to continue keep functioning using other people on your team? Most experts will tell you that it is better to have these conversations and think through these things before you’re in the thick of it, instead of waiting to try to troubleshoot these type of problems once you’re waist deep in the issue.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly. So, let’s look at some examples of companies that we think are doing the right thing by their employees, and hopefully, you can be inspired in your business to consider similar measures. So the first that I wanted to bring up was Facebook, which immediately came out and announced that it was giving $1,000 to every employee in order to help them. And obviously they have a lot of employees. And if you think about it, $1,000 doesn’t sound like a ton of money, except this is also what the US government is considering sending to everybody, right? So, if the US government sending $1,000, and now my employer is matching it, again, it’s a gesture of goodwill that I think gains loyalty from employees over time.

Joey Coleman: Well, and I think $1,000 actually, for the majority of Americans is a huge amount of money because most research shows that the typical family, when faced with an unexpected $400 expense, would not be able to weather that challenge. And so most families are facing a lot more than a $400 change in expense right now, not only in terms of costs, but in terms of where their income lies.

Joey Coleman: It’s interesting, a lot of the sports teams that are not able to have their events anymore, given the crowd rules etcetera, have created some interesting solutions as well, both in Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL, a number of owners have stepped forward, notably Mark Cuban, to say, we’re going to pay the salaries of all of the people who normally work in our basketball arena. So there’s an opportunity here for businesses of all sizes to step forward.

Joey Coleman: I know a couple of CEOs who have decided that they’re not taking any pay for the next three months to be able to pay their employees for the next three months, so that they don’t have to lay people off or fire them. So there’s a lot of opportunities to get creative.

Dan Gingiss: And I love that example because so often, when bad things happen to good employees, the first thing that employees look to is the top executives, right. So when there’s layoffs, for example, and then you see that your top executive is making $50 million a year and gets another $100 million in stock options. And you’re like, well boy, if he had given up two or three of those millions of dollars, maybe we could have saved a lot of jobs. And so I think this is one of those things where if you’re able to do it, you really can gain so much loyalty from your employees versus the opposite, which again, can be anger and distrust of the company.

Dan Gingiss: I know Disney and universal have done similar things for their employees because as we all know, those parks are closed indefinitely and there’s a ton of people that work to keep those open, and whether they’re cast members, or people operating the food stations, or the ride stations, tons of employees and they’re really working hard to keep those people as well.

Dan Gingiss: Another example that I really liked was Starbucks, which decided to extend its mental health benefits for store employees. And I think why this is important is Starbucks is one of the places that is staying open and therefore is requiring baristas to come in and make coffees even though people can’t dine in and they can only take out, they’re still bringing in their employees. And obviously, this causes stress. And Starbucks acknowledged that and is now offering mental health benefits for free to their employees, which I think was an excellent move.

Joey Coleman: Folks, this is a huge one, I don’t care what business you’re in, if you are not taking time to consider the mental health of your employees right now, there is a big problem. So many people are uncertain. So many people are afraid. In fact, it’s rising to the level that there’s so much fear and uncertainty, I think it’s something that most people aren’t even talking about. I mean, to be completely blunt and transparent, before Dan and I started recording today, we just checked in on how each other are doing and what’s going on, because this is a stressful time for everyone.

Joey Coleman: This is an opportunity for you to look to your friends, look to your co-workers, look to your boss, as well as the people that report to you and check in on everybody’s mental and emotional state and how they’re doing. Business shouldn’t just be about, are we operating? And are we operating at efficiencies? And are people getting paid and are our employees getting paid, are our customers placing orders, etc? We should spend some time thinking about the mental and emotional health of the people we interact with too. And my hope is, while this is certainly a terribly challenging and difficult time, that more businesses will look to the opportunity in this time to say, how can we press reset, a reset that we’ve known that we’ve needed to do for a long time, and actually think a little bit more about what our employees are going through?

Dan Gingiss: So here are some takeaways from this segment. As always, happy employees equal happy customers. It is never more important than right now to focus on our employees and keeping them happy, healthy, and safe, so that they can focus on our customers and keeping them happy, healthy, and safe. Also, your frontline employees are representing your brand right now, as they always are. But in a time of crisis, if they’re stressed out, if they’re feeling beaten down, if they’re feeling under-appreciated or unappreciated, how is it that you think they’re going to project to your customers?

Dan Gingiss: So especially with frontline employees, right now, customer service agents, retail employees that need to continue working, people that are engaging with customers, these are the ones that we’ve got to focus on and keep in a good state and a positive state so that they then transmit that to customers. And finally, just as you’re going to need your customers after this crisis passes, you’re also going to need your employees. This is the time to engender pride in and loyalty to your organization.

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? The COVID-19 crisis is impacting everyone you interact with. And what we’ve already discussed how it’s impacting your customers and impacting your employees, we wanted to talk about a third category of people that your business interacts with that are being hit hard by this virus, your suppliers.

Joey Coleman: Everybody in their business life and in their personal life has folks that look out for you, people that you patronize. Whether that’s your chiropractor, the hairdresser you go to, or a business setting, the person who cleans your business office, who maybe helps support your IT infrastructure, whatever it may be, people that come to your office, or to your home, or you go to their office or to their home to take advantage of their services. And in this time where business is grinding to a halt, and more and more people are being encouraged to not only stay home and work, but to stay home and not travel outside of their homes, your suppliers are increasingly in jeopardy.

Joey Coleman: And so one of the things we want to address is the fact that in many businesses, the suppliers you interact with are actually small businesses or freelancers. People who don’t necessarily have the cash reserves that some of the larger brands we referred to earlier in the show do. And so the question becomes, what are you doing and what can you do to look after the people of which you are a customer?

Joey Coleman: So, for example, in a business setting, if you have somebody that comes to clean your office but your office isn’t going to be operating anymore from your office, what can you do to support them during this time when their revenues are going to be down? I know a lot of entrepreneurs I know have agreed to prepay for some of the cleaning that’s going to have to happen in the future, even though it’s not happening right now.

Joey Coleman: What are you doing to look at creative ways to reallocate resources? For example, I have an assistant who helps me scheduling with flights, and coordinating hotels, and logistics for my travel. Needless to say, I don’t anticipate traveling for the next month at least and potentially two or three or more. I’ve decided to have her work on other things that are important to my business, that are not necessarily related to my travel, but yet allows me to keep her on the payroll.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, I’ve done something similar with my virtual assistant who was hired to really help me reach out to prospects and make them aware of my speaking capabilities, and the fact that I’m available for keynotes, and that sort of thing. And and right now, selling that is not a great idea because events are being canceled and people are not necessarily thinking in that direction. So I’ve been cross training him on some of the marketing that I’ve been doing for my business, my newsletter and some of the stuff that I do with taking audio and video and transcribing it into texts to make blog posts, and some of my social sharing and scheduled posts and all that sort of thing, and I’m really trying to cross train him so that he can continue to help, he can continue to be employed, and then I can continue moving my business along.

Dan Gingiss: And these are hard decisions to make, because let’s face it, Joey, just like so many others out there, you and I don’t know what’s going to happen to our business in the next few months or even years, or how long it is going to affect us. And so the initial instinct is to just hoard your money and don’t spend a dime. And I’m actually trying on a couple of different places to spend money right now, to invest in my business’s future, and to build some foundational stuff, because I do believe, as my grandmother always used to say, “This too shall pass.” And whenever it does pass, I want to be in a good position to pick up where I left off and maybe even be in a stronger spot than I was when this first started.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely, Dan. And I think your grandmother had wise advice and it’s something that pretty much everybody’s agreeing, that there will come a time that this is not as big of a pandemic situation as it is right now, right. We’ve got ways to go before we get there, but it will get better. What are we doing now to make sure that the businesses that serve us, and the suppliers, and the vendors that we have relationships with continue to be in business? And this doesn’t just hit the business side of it, it hits the personal side. So, for example, my wife and I, and my two boys, obviously we get haircuts, right. So one of the things we did is we went to-

Dan Gingiss: Hey, that’s not too obvious for some of us, Joey.

Joey Coleman: Fair enough. This is the difference between Dan and I folks. Dan takes care of all of his own hair trimming, I have a professional work on mine. Although some people who’ve seen me on stage or seen pictures of me might agree whether it’s that professional or not. But the moral of the story here is, hair salons are closed down. So we reached out to some of the folks that provide us with services, whether that’s massage, or chiropractic care, or hairdressers and offered to pre-buy haircuts in the future, pre-buy adjustments and massages in the future.

Joey Coleman: And the idea behind this was, yes, there’s a little bit of a hit from us from a point of view of expending money, but you can put that on a credit card and ride it for a month or two, and if that’s the thing that helps your favorite hairdresser, or your favorite massage therapist, or your favorite chiropractor, whatever Freelancer or small business you do business with, navigate through this crisis, not only have you ensured that you’ll be well taken afterwards, because they’ll still be there, but here’s what I can promise you, they’re not going to forget that you’ve stood by them during this time. They’re not going to forget the generosity that you extended to them. Now I’m not saying that’s why you should do it, but it certainly is a nice ancillary benefit if you’re in doubt about whether or not you should.

Dan Gingiss: For sure. And I think the smart companies, by the way, are showing that appreciation right now. So, there is a sushi restaurant in my hometown that obviously is suffering quite a bit. And a lot of residents have been recommending this sushi restaurant, obviously now just pickup and delivery. And what’s happening is when you order they are offering a discount for pickup, which is funny because that’s the only way you can order right now is pickup. And secondly, they are including a gift certificate with your order for a future order. So they’re basically already now saying … So as a customer, I feel good because I’m supporting a local restaurant that is clearly struggling. I can’t go sit in the restaurant, but I can still order out from it. And they’re showing that thankfulness back to me saying, hey, we really value you, thanks for supporting us during this difficult time. And that’s what the letter, there was a little handwritten note with the gift certificate, that’s what it said.

Dan Gingiss: And so, you feel good about that, right, because you feel good that you’re supporting a local business, and you feel good that they feel good, and that they’re willing to thank you for it.

Joey Coleman: Folks, during this pandemic, there are going to be a lot of businesses that will struggle and close, especially small and local businesses. You can do your part to help by following this four step process. Number one, determine who your key suppliers are, both personally and professionally.

Joey Coleman: Number two, reach out to them and discuss the status of the relationship. Any outstanding shipments, or supplies, or projects that maybe need to be put on pause, the payment terms. Have a conversation. Don’t wait for them to call you. This is not a conversation anybody is excited to have, but lean into it sooner rather than later.

Joey Coleman: Number three, get creative. Offer to pre-pay via gift cards, or pre-booked appointments, or pre-packaged, or even pay for services that aren’t rendered. If you’ve got somebody that’s been loyal to you for many, many years, and your business or your personal financial standing is in a place where you can afford to pay them for a month or two, even if they don’t deliver on the service, the investment you are making into that relationship long term, will far outweigh the dollar outlay today.

Joey Coleman: And last but not least, thank the workers that are doing their best in these new circumstances. For example, the person who carries out the groceries to the car when you’ve ordered online, the person who when you call to cancel a service or to get a refund is answering the phone and doing their best to process. A kind word right now not only helps everyone get through the day, but it’s an investment in those businesses being around tomorrow.

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.

Dan Gingiss: So we wanted to end this episode on a positive note. And rather than a traditional CX press segment where we just go through a single article, we wanted to share with you that we’ve seen lots of articles out there of positive things happening amidst this outbreak and pandemic.

Joey Coleman: Yes, folks, it’s not all doom gloom in the news. Don’t just get caught up in the stories that are about the terrible things that are happening. Look for the more positive stories too.

Dan Gingiss: And as it turns out, companies of all sizes often have resources that can help others in the community during a time of crisis. It might be money, or supplies, or facilities, or even just expertise. And we wanted to share some companies that we’ve seen that are doing just that. So Loom, a video recording and sharing service, has made their Loom Pro Edition free for teachers and students at K through 12 schools, universities, and educational institutions. As we all know, many students now are being forced to learn remotely. And loom is a service that can be used for that, and so they’re just putting their service out there for educational institutions.

Joey Coleman: Yes. And LinkedIn has decided to take 16 of its learning courses and make them free. Now these are courses that you used to have to pay for, but now they’re available to anyone and they provide tips on how to stay productive, how to build relationships when you’re not face to face, how to use virtual meeting tools, and how to balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way, which increasingly, as more people find themselves working from home with their children and their families, these are valuable tips and suggestions to help people navigate this new time.

Dan Gingiss: We talked in the last segment about how local restaurants are really struggling. So Uber Eats and DoorDash have both waived commission fees for independent restaurant partners to promote people supporting their local restaurants.

Joey Coleman: A good buddy of mine, Philip McKernan, an amazing coach and inspiring individual decided to make his books available for free. He decided to make his online courses available for free. And he launched a new virtual training program where each week he’s doing motivational check-in sessions that help people explore how do they navigate this new COVID-19 world. I think what’s great about this is there’s literally no business on the planet that can’t get creative about how they’re providing value, not only to their customers, but just to the public in large and their general broader community.

Dan Gingiss: I definitely agree. And one way to look at it is to focus on keeping things as normal as possible during a time when it’s anything but. And we’ve seen a lot of public companies stopping their stock buybacks, for example, and the reason for that is to make sure that they remain solvent and able to help their customers during an outbreak. I think we’ve also seen lots of companies, we talked about utilities in the first segment, but we’ve also seen all the cable companies, and telecommunications companies, and Google have made pledges to keep the internet going and alive for all Americans, even if people can’t afford to pay.

Dan Gingiss: Again, on a local level, for a smaller company, which a lot of our listeners run, think about how you can help even just your local community, it might just be the little town or suburb that you live in. What can you do to give back to your community because people are going to remember that when this passes?

Joey Coleman: Or the person in your neighborhood. Folks, this literally is a time to think as, in some ways, as small as possible. Think about the people who live on your street who are maybe immunocompromised or elderly, that you could leave a little note with your cell phone number that says, if you need somebody to go to the grocery store for you or to the pharmacists to pick things up for you, call my number and I can go out and do that. Now, again, we still want to encourage people to practice social distancing, to only go out if you absolutely need to, to maintain a significant physical distance at least three feet, closer to six if you can, away from anybody that you interact with, but there’s an opportunity to provide value to people beyond the groups who normally provide value to.

Dan Gingiss: Joey, the suburb I live in, somebody set up a Facebook group that was specifically for doing just that, for helping others and I’ve been asked to join it now by about 18 of my friends. And it’s a great way [crosstalk 00:52:42] Social media guy, Dan, I mean, come on. Well, it’s a great way to spread the word about being able to help the elderly or people who are immunocompromised during this time. So I love that.

Joey Coleman: I was just talking to my little brother earlier today, he lives in Springfield, Illinois, and at the time we’re recording this it’s not long after St. Patrick’s Day and they had a message go out in their neighborhood that said, if you want to participate, put some shamrocks on the windows, that way, when families are out walking around, because we want to encourage people to continue to exercise and continue to get outside, just stay away from other people when you do it, right. But they said, “Set it up so that your kids on a walk through the neighborhood at night can count the number of shamrocks.” And I thought, what a creative way to allow neighbors to connect with each other in a way that keeps folks healthy and abides by the idea of physical distancing, but still allows people to have some type of interaction with their community.

Dan Gingiss: I love it. Now if you want more inspiration, we recommend an article by Just Capital that is entitled Capitalism Meets Coronavirus, How Companies are Responding. And of course we’ll include the link in our show notes at www.experiencethisshow.com. But we’ve also created a shortened Bit.ly link that you can use if that’s what you prefer. And it is Bit.ly, which is B-I-T-.-L-Y /ET for Experience This, responses. And the E, the T, and the R in responses are all capitalized. So it’s Bit.ly/ETResponses, and that’ll get you to that Just Capital article.

Dan Gingiss: Now, we wanted to provide you with a couple of bonus articles as well to spread the Good News [inaudible 00:54:28], because hey, we got nothing but time here. And hopefully, you’ve got some time to listen. So, an article that I happened upon that I really liked is from an organization that I had actually never heard of, which is called the Good News Network. And I can tell you, I’m going to be following their stuff for now because I’m really tired of all the bad news. But this is an article called 10 Positive Updates on the COVID-19 Outbreaks from Around The World. And it was written by McKinley Cobly of the Good News Network, and this will also be shared our show notes, and there is also a Bit.ly link which is, Bit.ly/ETGoodNews, and again, ET, the G in good, and the N in news are capitalized.

Dan Gingiss: And some of the examples that they shared in this article are that US researchers have delivered the first COVID-19 vaccine to volunteers, human volunteers in an experimental test program. Also amidst national shortages of hand sanitizers, there are several alcohol distilleries around the country that have begun using their facilities to make their own sanitation products and sell them. And some of them are selling a lot of them. And finally, air pollution plummets in cities with high rates of quarantine. So, we’re excited to present to you a little bit later this season, a special environmental episode of Experience This, but I thought this was some good news too, that we were seeing positive environmental effects by people staying home.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. And to conclude out our CX press episode of Good News that you can subscribe to or find, I’ve been a big fan of Dr. Peter Diamandis and his work for many years now. Peter is the chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching these large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs. So you might have heard of the X Prize. He also is an original founder of Singularity University, which is all about teaching people about exponential technologies.

Joey Coleman: And over the last two years, he’s built a machine learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news and science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics and industries. And he calls it, Future Loop. He sent out an email just two days ago about a new offering that they have. And I’m quoting from the email, “Future Loop Pandemic Special Edition, is a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies like AI, robotics, drones, cellular medicine, CRISPR, networks and sensors, all about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you participate Future Loop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention, and cure of COVID-19. Now, this product is still in beta, but it’s powerful, high quality info and it’s free. Your mindset is your most important tool during the pandemic. Making sure you’re consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. Future loop offers data driven optimism.”

Joey Coleman: I just loved that. Data driven optimism. There’s a tool out there that you can subscribe to for free, that will deliver positive news that acknowledges the craziness that is the COVID-19 pandemic, but provides a glimmer of hope. So you can find this at our show notes at experiencethisshow.com, you can also, as Dan mentioned, if you want to check out the Bit.ly link, it’s Bit.ly/ETF, that’s Experience This and the F is the beginning of the word Future Loop, where future and loop are both capitalized. But again, if you didn’t have a chance to write that down or you don’t want to go, just go to experiencethisshow.com you’ll be able to find the show notes for this episode and you’ll be all set to get some data driven optimism in your inbox while you’re working from home in the coming days and weeks.

Dan Gingiss: So the takeaways of this multi-article CX press segment, number one, companies have the unique ability to provide resources to help the community. It may not be money, it could just be expertise. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost you anything, but you do have resources and think about how you can give back. Number two, find some way, even in a small way, to give back to your customers or to your community and show them how much you appreciate them in this difficult time and they will appreciate you back.

Dan Gingiss: And finally, number three, take some time to think about positive things and to read about positive things. It can be very easy in a time of crisis to get down, to get depressed, to get angry, and it’s nice to see that there are a lot of positive things happening in the world right now. Unfortunately, with the media situation that we find ourselves in, in the United States, it’s hard to find those things, and so we hope by giving you some of these resources, you can stay in tune with some of the positives going on in the world now.

Dan Gingiss: Thanks so much for listening to this special episode of the Experience This show. We will return to our regular schedule next Tuesday and have episodes ready for you through the first week of June. Please note that the rest of the episodes in season five have been pre-recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic. If you liked this episode, please do us a favor and tell your friends and colleagues. Our entire back catalog of more than 90 episodes is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Alexa, or your favorite podcast App.

Joey Coleman: And a special thanks to our wonderful friends Avtex. Avtex has been a fantastic sponsor of the show this season. We so appreciate their support and their continued involvement in helping bring Experience This to your ears every week. What we love about Avtex is that their approach brings together transformation and orchestration, which means they help you to define the areas of CX that need to be improved, and then create a roadmap for improving them. Avtex knowledge and experience in orchestration allows them to help you leverage the people, processes, and technology you need to implement your plan. You can learn more about the great folks at Avtex by visiting their website at www.avtex. That’s A-V-T-E-X.com.

Dan Gingiss: And finally, we are here for you our loyal listeners during this difficult time. If you have a question about how to respond to COVID-19 with a customer experience lens, don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly. Joey’s email is JoeyC@JoeyColeman.com. And my email is Dan@DanGingiss.com. Thanks again for listening and we’ll see you next week on The Experience This show. Wow, thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience This. 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 …

Joey Coleman: … This.


Episode 92: Discover How Listening to Customers Can Help Even the Most-Maligned Industries Improve Their CX

Join us as we discuss an immersive experience meant to inspire creative design, one place where the robots may be meeting their demise, and how to improve the most- maligned industry of all.

Operatories, Restaurants, and Post Offices – Oh My!

[Experience This! Live] How an Immersive Experience Inspires

An immersive experience of a dental office may not be appealing to you personally, but to a dentist, it’s a much desired interaction. In the small town of Pittston, Pennsylvania, Benco Dental (the largest privately-owned dental equipment and supplies distributor in the U.S.) provides a completely immersive experience for prospective clients (dentists) looking to redesign their offices. Dentists visit the showroom (free of charge) and spend the day planning every aspect of their operatories – the small rooms where patients receive dental treatments. Every aspect of the room is taken into consideration – from glove box placement, to lights, to artwork, and to floor material – to name but a few.

We make these deeper level connections with customers, where we’re not just talking about how many operatories and what color to paint the walls. We’re talking about, “what do you want your patients to feel when they come in?” and “what do you want them to remember when they leave?

Melissa Sprau, Design Manager at Benco Dental

Benco provides a full-day, immersive experience – even allowing dentists to move things around in the design room to customize and place tools exactly where they want them. By focusing on an all-encompassing experience, most dentists go from considering an office redesign, to knowing it’s necessary in order to stay relevant and modern.

[CX Press] Adjusting Technology and Shifting Focus

In Season 3, Episode 64, we spoke about CafeX, a cafe staffed with robot baristas. Recently, CafeX closed its San Francisco locations and in an article from Business Insider titled, Some of San Francisco’s robot-run restaurants are failing. writer Katie Canales shares that the baristas at CafeX aren’t the only robot casualties.

Every organization should have a department that is devoted to figuring out creative, new, interesting technological solutions – that may or may not work in the long term, but in the short term will help them keep thinking.

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

Creating lasting customer experiences comes with risk. By trying – and occasionally failing – we can continue to shift focus, adjust our methods and technology, and create new and lasting customer experiences. CafeX’s robot baristas were indeed impressive and their commitment to embracing new technologies promises more interesting experiences in the future.

[Avtex Engage 2020] Be Our Guest!

Any customer experience professional knows that the learning never stops – even if it happens on “summer vacation.” Don’t miss Engage 2020 this summer – hosted by our partners at Avtex!

June 21-24, 2020
The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel & Resort
Orlando, Florida

Engage 2020 offers unparalleled learning and networking opportunities, including multiple learning tracks and specialized breakout sessions focused on a wide range of customer experience topics. At Engage 2020, you’ll gain an entirely new perspective on what you can do to move your organization’s experience strategy and delivery forward.

To learn more and reserve your tickets before they are sold out, visit: AvtexEngage.com

Don’t forget to use the promo code: EXPERIENCETHIS10
to save 10% off the ticket price!

[Dissecting the Experience] When the Government Utilizes Social Media to Improve CX

Social media has influenced industry by giving the customer a louder voice than ever before. In How to Enhance Citizen Experience with Social Media, the team at Propel Group examines four case studies that demonstrate social media’s potential to deepen citizen insights, deliver personalized service, and drive enhanced citizen satisfaction.

The four case study examples are seen in the image below:

Three Key Learnings from Case Study 1: NASA

  1. Build social media communities with purpose. NASA shows social media is not a vanity or numbers game. Each community is there to contribute.
  2. Give citizens a chance to participate. Seek out those passionate about your space and find ways to empower them.
  3. Trust your people online. NASA also equips astronauts and staff to share authentic stories that instill trust and credibility.

Three key learnings from Case Study 2: KLM

  1. Explore where social media can add value beyond its origins. It’s easy to assume you’ve ‘got’ social. Like KLM, keep looking for new opportunities. 
  2. Keep listening to citizens. Their feedback is continuous and accessible via social media. 
  3. Invest in tech when scale demands. Technology plays a key role for KLM’s social media operation, but it has the wins 1on the board to justify investment.

Three key learnings from Case Study 3: TSA

  1. Humanize your agency. In a highly secure, risk-averse environment, social media presents TSA’s human side. 
  2. Scale service capabilities. The steady flow of questions and content – combined with social media’s reach – drives service performance improvement. 
  3. Empower your people to contribute. Rather than avoiding engagement, stakeholders are thanked for sharing helpful questions and content. 

Three key learnings from Case Study 4: Australian Government Agency

  1. Start with audience behaviors and insights. By analyzing business investor behaviors, the agency knows both brand and individual staff have key roles on social media.
  2. Ensure training and governance rigor. While industry subject matter experts, staff needed guidance to apply their skills and expertise online. 
  3. Trust evidence over convention. In bucking the trend, the agency delivered a citizen-aligned, award-winning result

To download a copy of the full report from Propel, visit : How To Enhance Citizen Experience With Social Media.

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 92 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: Hold on to your headphones, it’s time to Experience This!

Introduction

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

Joey Coleman: Join us as we discuss an immersive experience meant to inspire creative design, one place where the robots may be meeting their demise, and how to improve the most maligned industry of all.

Dan Gingiss: Operatories, restaurants, and post offices?! Oh My!

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.

Experience This! Live – Benco CenterPoint

Dan Gingiss: Pittston, Pennsylvania, about two and a half hours northwest of Philadelphia. Tucked away in an industrial park, up a long driveway, past a large sculpture of a tooth, sits Benco Dental. The largest privately owned dental equipment and supplies distributor in the United States. Inside, among the corporate offices and the hundreds of historical dentistry artifacts from the owner’s personal collection, sits CenterPoint Design. Home to an incredibly immersive experience for Benco’s dentist customers.

Dan Gingiss: CenterPoint is a showroom, one of three in the United States, featuring 25 fully equipped dental operatories. That’s the little room patients go into to get their teeth cleaned or for other dental procedures. Dentists are invited to spend a day touring the facility to get design ideas and inspiration for their own dental offices. Whether they are just starting out or perhaps redesigning an existing practice. Melissa Sprau is a design manager at Benco Dental, and recently led me on the same tour she gives to dozens of dentists each year.

Melissa Sprau: Welcome to CenterPoint, we’re so glad that you’re here and that you made the trip. Believe it or not, here in little Pittston, Pennsylvania, we actually have the largest dental equipment showroom in the world. We’re going to have a great day today and we encourage you to make yourself at home.

Dan Gingiss: Each of the operatories is filled with real dental equipment and supplies in order to replicate actual working conditions and help the dentists envision what a final design might look like.

Melissa Sprau: You’ll see, as we’re walking through the showroom, that we have our operatories set up in lots of different ways. You might even notice some redundancies in the equipment and the delivery systems. There’s more than what you might need in your typical work day in each operatory. We do this on purpose. We do this so that you can get in and get comfortable, and position the equipment in exactly the way that you want to work. We want you to try it as if it’s your own and really experience all of the different manufacturers, all of the different ways that you can set up a room, so that you leave here today feeling confident about the purchase that you’re going to make.

Dan Gingiss: That purchase just might be the biggest purchase a dentist makes for his or her practice, which is why Benco wants to ensure that its clients are completely comfortable with the design before making the decision to buy. Benco sells everything in the operatory, from the flooring tile to the box of exam gloves on the counter. Since every dentist is different, the showroom is meant to display all sorts of concepts, in a flexible manner that allows for mixing and matching

Melissa Sprau: To your patient, every operatory might look the same. They come in, they sit down in the chair, there’s a light overhead. But to you as the dentist, you’ve got a lot of decisions to make. In addition to just the nuts and bolts of the equipment and where it’s placed and how it affects your workflow, there’s also flooring, wall covering, ambient lighting and task lighting, all of these different elements to consider. As you walk through our space today, take these things into consideration and notice that they’re a little bit different in each of the rooms that we go to. We do that, purposely, to show you different approaches and really get you thinking bigger and thinking differently, and to show you all of the possibilities of the total aesthetic of the operatory, in addition to the functional elements of the operatory equipment.

Dan Gingiss: A stop at the design library allows the dentist to peruse hundreds of flooring samples, everything from carpet to vinyl tile to porcelain. There are also tons of wall coverings, ranging from fancy to fanciful, from upscale to made-for-kids. Everything is pre-qualified as appropriate for a commercial healthcare environment. And if a dentist doesn’t see exactly the right design, Benco has a solution for that as well.

Melissa Sprau: This portion of our showroom is a whole lot of fun. This is what we call our Sandbox. It doesn’t look like much. You’ll see these are some nondescript white boxes. They’re actually here to represent dental equipment. You can move and change the sizes of these boxes, they’re on castors, you can wheel them around, and if you look down, you’ll notice there’s measuring tapes all along the floor. The goal is to get in, make yourself comfortable, move these boxes around, put them anywhere you want, manipulate the sizes and the positions, until you create the ideal operatory space for you.

Melissa Sprau: The rulers down on the floor are going to help guide you so that you can understand the dimensions of the room. When we’re all done and you have everything place exactly where you like, look up, there’s a GoPro that’s hanging from the ceiling. It’s going to capture an image of the operatory layout that we’ve designed together so you know exactly the way you want to plan your space.

Dan Gingiss: Remarkably, Benco provides this experience free of charge, including travel, to dentists whom they know are looking to design or redesign an office. Why do they invest all this time, effort and money into prospective customers who may not even end up buying? Because they know that customer experience is their true differentiator.

Melissa Sprau: We’re not just trying to make a one time big purchase and walk away. We care about their long term health and their long term success, as a business, and we want to give them the tools to support that. We make these deeper level connections with customers, where we’re not just talking about how many operatories and what color to paint the walls, we’re talking about, what do you want your patients to feel when they come in and what do you want them to remember when they leave? Or “Doctor, what do you want to do to differentiate yourself from the practice up the street? What makes you love what you do and how can we help show that to the world through the design of your practice?”

Dan Gingiss: The result is that most dentists, after immersing themselves in the CenterPoint experience, go from thinking they might want to create a new office design to knowing they have to in order to stay modern and relevant. When they’re ready, Benco’s team of commercial interior designers will help them sketch out the entire office, up to and including, where those boxes of gloves go. Live from Pittston, Pennsylvania, this is Dan Gingiss for Experience This! Live. Full disclosure, Benco Dental is one of my consulting clients.

CX PRESS – Robot-Run Restaurants

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.

Dan Gingiss: Today’s CX Press is from Katie Canales at Business Insider. It’s called, Some of San Francisco’s Robot Run Restaurants are Failing. It could simply be that we still want to be served by humans, not machines. Now, if you’ll remember back in season three, episode 64, we talked about a San Francisco outlet called Cafe X. I talk about this in my keynotes because it’s a great example of a truly immersive experience. For those who don’t remember, you walk into this coffee shop and there’s actually no human beings. There are just kiosks where you can order your coffee and then a robot, that could only be described as a headless barista, makes your coffee and delivers it to you. It’s really quite remarkable. Alas, in January, Cafe X closed its San Francisco locations, though its stations at San Francisco International Airport and San Jose Airport are still open. It’s not the only robot casualty.

Dan Gingiss: Zume, known for its pizza making robots, shuttered its pizza business and pivoted into food truck technology and services in November 2019. And Eatsa Automat, where you could quickly order and then pick up your $7 quinoa bowls, prepared behind the scenes by unseen employees, through futuristic pickup windows lined against the wall of the restaurant, closed as well in July 2019. As the article states, “There could be multiple reasons why some of them have flopped, but perhaps a straightforward explanation is that we’re simply not ready to be served by robots in lieu of humans.” Joey, what are your thoughts on this?

Joey Coleman: Oh, I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this. First of all, fascinated by this article because it tied directly back to something that we had talked about. Love that we’re coming back to talk about Cafe X. In the world of how we think about things, we often talk about the difference between causation and correlation, I think it may be the case that all of these examples are restaurants, and restaurants close all the time. It’s one of the hardest businesses, one of the most difficult industries to be involved in. While I appreciate that all of these had robots, I am sure that we could find a dozen other restaurants, within 20 square miles of each of these locations, that also closed in the last few years.

Joey Coleman: Now that being said, I do think it brings us to a bigger discussion of, sometimes being the first mover means you’re the first one to die as well. As we think about innovation and we think about adopting new technologies to enhance our customer experiences, sometimes it’s actually better to wait a little bit and see how it works before you make large investments. Now that being said, I also think when you do that, you run the risk of creating a stagnant organization that is not innovative. I think there’s some give and take balance here. How about you, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: Well, I, after visiting Cafe X, obviously thought it was really an interesting experience, which is why I wanted to talk about it on the show. But it also occurs to me, that we talk so much about customers today wanting to have a human interaction with the brands that they do business with, but I’m not sure that’s true of every customer. I’m not sure it’s true, for example, of introverts who may not want to have a human to human interaction with their barista. They may just want to walk in, like you can at Starbucks, pre-order, walk in, grab your coffee, leave and never have to talk to anyone. For them, a robot experience might be absolutely perfect because they don’t have to say anything. I’m wondering if that’s at play here as well.

Dan Gingiss: But I also go back to my theory on chatbots, which is, that chatbots should not replace the human customer service agent, they actually should be used to help the human agent do a better job servicing the customer. If you imagine a human agent sitting next to a supercomputer that’s got every piece of data that they could ever want, instantly, it means that the agent can spend more time being human instead of clack, clack, clacking on their computer keyboard to find information. They can actually pay more attention to the conversation with the customer and be a better agent. I think that might be what’s happening here, is that the answer may be that these restaurants would not have failed if there was some human interaction to go along with the robot interaction.

Joey Coleman: I agree. I mean, I think two things about what you brought up there. Number one, the article does note that Cafe X kept its airport locations. What I think is interesting is in an airport scenario, it’s probably more of that quick, give me my coffee, I don’t need to have a big conversation with somebody because I’m running to the plane. Whereas, at a coffee shop, if I go to the shop to get my coffee, there’s a higher likelihood that I want to sit down there and enjoy it and be part of the third place ambiance and that experience. When we think about the yes, and of robots and humans, combining both as opposed to canceling one out with the other, I’m also reminded of what happened when banks introduced ATMs.Joey Coleman: When ATMs were first rolled out, a lot of people worried, this is the death of the teller. They aren’t going to have staff anymore. The reality is, if you look at the number, banks, three years later after ATMs were rolled out, had more

employees than they had before ATMs being introduced. The ATM became the thing that was for the simple transaction, hey, I just need some money for the weekend, I don’t need to talk to a teller about that. But it freed up the tellers to have the more complex conversations about loans and opening new accounts and things like that. I think there’s a piece here too, that it doesn’t have to be, can we involve robots in our organization or AI or chatbots or technology solutions? Rather say, how can we augment our experience by adding those things?

Dan Gingiss: I mean, sometimes technology for technology’s sake doesn’t really get us anywhere. I mean, I’ve never been to the Eatsa Automat, but I can tell you from the picture in the article, it basically looks like a vending machine. There’s a wall of little mailboxes-

Joey Coleman: What you might be familiar with as the very old technology of a vending machine, repackaged as robots making … Well, I don’t remember many vending machines that had quinoa or however we want to say it.

Dan Gingiss: True. But essentially, it’s the same concept. You put money in and you open a little slot and you take your food out. That’s what it does. I don’t know. I mean, I can see that being, especially in San Francisco where rents are really high, I mean, you could go with a much smaller footprint and what have you, I could see it potentially being a profitable business, but it only is a profitable business if you’re delivering something that customers actually want. Obviously, the quality of the food still has to be there and what have you.

Dan Gingiss: I agree with you that this does focus on the restaurant industry, which may or may not be relevant, but I do think it’s really interesting, and we felt that it was important for us to come back to this story because we did tout Cafe X as being really innovative and new, and again, I enjoyed the experience. So I think it is important for us to come back and say, “Hey, maybe it isn’t working out exactly how they thought, but the airport thing may be a good solution.” I think that Zume taking its pizza making robots and shifting a little bit into food trucks and other technology may be smart for them as well. This is something that we will keep an eye on.

Joey Coleman: I think, to be very clear, Cafe X did something really impressive. They did something impressive with technology that stood out to you, Dan, so much that you wanted to talk about it on the show. They still are doing something impressive with technology at their airport locations, it’s just, they’ve closed their store location that you went to. I also want to encourage our listeners to realize that, the way you create lasting customer experiences, is to make bets on customer experiences that might not last. You have to be willing to try things. You have to be willing to innovate. You have to be willing to push the envelope a little.

Joey Coleman: Even if it doesn’t work out, and that’s okay. I think, all too often, most organizations play it safe and we don’t want to try a new initiative unless we’re 100% sure it will exist. Every organization should have a skunkworks. Every organization should have a department that is devoted to figuring out creative, new, interesting technological solutions, that may or may not work in the long term, but in the short term will help us keep thinking. For now, the robots aren’t totally in charge, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone.

AVTEX PARTNER SEGMENT

Joey Coleman: Be our guest, be our guest, because Avtex is the best. Folks, on June 21st through 24th, we are going to have a three day customer experience extravaganza in beautiful Orlando, Florida, with our good friends, Avtex, as they host Engage 2020. Can you feel the love tonight?

Dan Gingiss: That’s right, folks. There’s going to be activities throughout the park, including behind the curtain experiences at the happiest place on earth.

Joey Coleman: Beauty and the Beast. We’re going to do a live episode on stage and you get to decide who’s the beauty and who’s the beast. Dan and I, a live episode of Experience This! from the stage at Avtex Engage 2020.

Joey Coleman: You should go, you should go, because you listen to the Experience This! Show. That’s right, go to www.avtexengage.com and use this special, secret code, [Experience This 10 00:18:04], and save 10% off your tickets. We will see you in Orlando, Florida. June 21st to 24th for Avtex Engage 2020.

DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE – CX in Government

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: We’ve covered a lot of industries here on the Experience This! Show, but why don’t we haven’t spent a lot of time on is the good old government. Now, we did have a love it, can’t stand it on government agencies in episode 42, and we discussed the U.S. government shutdown in episode 59, but today we’re going to take a deeper dive into customer experience in government agencies, through a new report out from an Australian social media consultancy called Propel. The report is called, How to Enhance Citizen Experience with Social Media. Now, in full disclosure, I found out about this report because I’m actually quoted in it on the first page, where I say, “But for social media, we wouldn’t be talking about customer experience.”

Joey Coleman: Hang on a second, I can’t let that one go. That’s a bold statement. Care to expand on that a little more, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: Absolutely. I was, as you know, a marketer for more than 20 years and when I first got into social media, it was on the marketing side and I immediately realized that this was the first marketing channel where people could actually talk back to you. That changed everything. Social media gave customers a voice, a public voice, for the first time, and they use that voice to demand a better customer experience. I believe that, but for them being given the voice in social media, we probably wouldn’t be talking about customer experience as much as we are today, because customers never had a way to express themselves in the past, at least not en masse.

Joey Coleman: I think, to me, and at the beginning I was like, Dan, I’m not sure I totally get it, but yes, en masse. I think customers could always complain. Customers could always say, “Hey, I don’t like this, we’d like it to be better.” They might even hold a little protest at a single location. But I will defer to you, Dan, and agree with you, listeners, I’m about to say something positive about social media hold on to your chairs. I agree with you that it allowed them to have a much bigger megaphone, on a global scale, and to bring people that weren’t part of the initial interaction into the conversation.

Dan Gingiss: And to force change, is really what they did.

Joey Coleman: I definitely agree with that. Well, it’s interesting, in the report, one of the things that I really thought was fascinating was this quote, “Without social media, government agencies would care far less about citizen experience. Until widespread citizen adoption of platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and online communities, agencies could largely control information flows and citizens had very few means to talk back.” Now, I’d say that pretty much rings true. It also made the communication that citizens had with their government happen more often than every two or four years when there was an election.

Dan Gingiss: I reached out to Roger Christie, who is the managing director at Propel, a social media consultancy based in Australia that helps teams through strategy and training. They’ve done a lot of work with public and private sector clients in the Asia Pacific region, but what’s different about them is that they focus on the people behind the platforms. Which is where their most recent report comes in. Here’s Roger talking about the new report.

Roger Christie: We pulled the enhancing citizen experience via social media report together because we wanted to showcase the progressive, but often really, just the simple, valuable work being done across government agencies, both here in Australia and around the world of course. I think there’s a general market perception that government is way behind the corporate sector in social media. But our experience, and certainly the examples in this report, show that that’s definitely not the case. There’s valuable lessons in here for both the public and private sectors.

Roger Christie: A lot of government agencies here are asking, how can we restore trust among citizens? Improving citizen experience actually has a lot to do with that, but I just don’t think that we’ve really seen or heard the role that social media can play in improving citizen experience or building trust. But if you look back at the examples we’ve included in this report, the likes of NASA, the TSA, and even a gov client that we’ve worked with here in Australia, that they show how listening to citizens online, or even just providing basic responsive service via social media, can have an enormous impact on trust and deliver tangible value to the agencies themselves.

Roger Christie: Some of the key trends we’ve observed are, those who enjoyed greater success with social media don’t actually hero social media. It’s actually all about empowering citizens. Getting them involved or providing faster service for them. Social media is just simply a means to do that. Listening was also a common theme, those who embed social listening as BAU, have a stronger awareness of citizen needs and the knowledge to know where to help them most. Industry leaders also recognize the need to commit properly to social media. Not in a way that suits internal structures, existing structures or processes, but in a way that suits citizens.

Roger Christie: I think the TSA is a great example of that where, most sensitive or security conscious agencies would run a mile from social media, or at least limit their activities to broadcast communications. The TSA debunks that. It actually invites questions from the public and builds trust and rapport in doing so.

Dan Gingiss: The report looks at four case studies that demonstrate social media’s potential to deepen citizen insights, deliver personalized, efficient service, and drive enhanced citizen satisfaction.

Joey Coleman: These are all definitely good things and the report offers four case study examples to illustrate how this works. The first case study is about NASA and how they empower citizens to solve problems in partnership. NASA uses social media to make space simple, relatable, and relevant to citizens, so it can crowdsource solutions to its biggest challenges.

Dan Gingiss: The second case study, which admittedly is not government, is KLM Airlines. Where, they resolve critical service blockages for customers. It explores how KLM uses social media to build trust and loyalty, an extensive business value, by being there for customers in the moments that matter most.

Joey Coleman: The third case study is our good friends at TSA, making citizens safety and security fast, fun and easy. TSA uses social media to humanize a traditionally serious topic and build, reach, trust and rapport with citizens.

Dan Gingiss: The fourth example is an Australian government agency that is driving industry investment via human connections. The report talks about how it uses social media to connect its people with industry prospects, and drive leads when institutional trust is low.

Joey Coleman: We could talk about all these case studies individually, and they’re all very interesting, but what we’d love to do instead is cover the three key learnings and then tell you how you can get the full report. The first one is NASA. The three key learnings that came from this case study include, building social media communities with purpose and how NASA shows social media is not a vanity or numbers game. Each community is there to actually contribute. To give citizens a chance to participate and seek out those that are passionate about your space and find ways to empower them. Last but not least, to trust people online. NASA also equips their astronauts and staff to share authentic stories that will instill trust and credibility into NASA’s mission.

Dan Gingiss: From the KLM case study, the three key learnings are, one, explore where social media can add value beyond its origins. It’s easy to assume you’ve got social. Like KLM, keep looking for new opportunities. Two, continue listening to citizens. Their feedback is continuous and accessible via social media. Three, invest in technology when scale demands. Technology plays a key role for KLM social media operation, but it has the wins on the board to justify the investment.

Joey Coleman: When it comes to the TSA case study, there were three key learnings as well. Number one, humanize your agency. In a highly secure risk adverse environment, social media presents the TSA’s human side. Number two, scale your service capabilities. The steady flow of questions and content, combined with social medias reach, drive service performance improvement. Last but not least number three, empower your people and citizens to contribute. Rather than avoiding engagement, stakeholders are thanked for sharing helpful questions and content with TSA.

Dan Gingiss: Finally, for the Australian government agency, the three key learnings. One, start with audience behaviors and insights. By analyzing business investor behaviors, the agency knew both brand and individual staff had key roles on social media. Two, ensure training and governance rigor. While industry subject matter experts, staff needed guidance to apply their skills and expertise online. Three, trust evidence over convention. In bucking the trend, the agency delivered a citizen aligned, award-winning result.

Dan Gingiss: To download your copy of the full report from Propel, How to Enhance Citizen Experience with Social Media, go to our website at www.experiencethisshow.com and we’ll include a helpful link.

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 90 – Using Video to Show What You’re Trying to Say

Join us as we discuss ten things that define your future customer, using video in place of print, and connecting with your customers offline!

Principles, Videos, and Tissues – Oh My!

[Book Report] The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles For Winning Tomorrow’s Business

Long time friend of the show and CX expert Blake Morgan’s new book, The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles For Winning Tomorrow’s Business divides customer experience into three defining buckets: Psychological, Technical, and Experiential.

In a rapidly changing world, the ability to adapt to the surrounding environment is paramount. Morgan illustrated this point by sharing the story of the Mexican Tetra:

In the permanent darkness of the caves in the lower Rio Grande, a translucent fish thrives. This albino looking cave dweller is not different than any other fish except for the fact that the fish is blind. However, this fish was not always blind. The entire species of this fish became blind over time, living in a dark cave with little oxygen. Finding food is difficult when living in darkness. Eyesight is not helpful and being efficient is critical to survival. Over time, these fish sacrificed their eyesight so they would be able to retain more energy to find food and survive in the difficult environment of the caves. The blind cave fish have 15% more energy than seeing fish. These small pinkish miracles are called Mexican Tetra. They evolved as their dark and uncertain environment required. They did not go into a cave and die. They learned to thrive in the cave by losing the sight that was useless to them in that environment, the blind cave fish remind us that it’s our ability to evolve, adapt, and embrace change that determines our ability to survive in the world. It’s no different for the businesses we create and run.

Blake Morgan, author of The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles For Winning Tomorrow’s Business

In order to succeed in the future, companies must pay more attention to how employees feel at work. With the right mindset, all employees can positively affect the customer’s experience. Employees need to have experienced high-quality customer experience so that they know what to deliver for customers.

Blake shares six tips for creating a customer-centric culture:

1) Hire emotionally intelligent leaders and managers.
2) Hire a diverse set of leaders who reflect a diverse customer base.
3) Normalize candid conversations to create a culture of transparency and open communication.
4) Encourage leadership to spend time out in the field talking to customers.
5) Ensure managers keep an open line of communication with employees while building and developing an employee-centric culture.
6) Talk to employees in order to learn what they like (or don’t like) about the organization’s culture.

[Dissecting the Experience] Explainer Videos

Tony Jones, the Innovation Director at Signal TV in the UK, shares creative ways for using video to enhance the customer experience. Using interesting customer data from profiles, subscriptions, and travel bookings, Signal TV creates personalized videos that are more engaging and easier to digest than words or even pictures sent via email. The better the data Signal TV has, the better the video they can create. For example, a personalized video not only welcomes a new car owner to their vehicle, but it also shares detailed information about the vehicle’s operation and clarifies how much the customer will pay each month.

What we’re doing is using customer data to tell a story that’s relevant to them and taking the most interesting and most relevant parts of those data points from their profile, their subscription, or their travel booking, for instance, and playing it back to them so that they understand it.

Tony Jones, Innovation Director at Signal TV

By using more video, companies experience a significant reduction in incoming customer center calls. Videos also leads to a large uptick in clickthroughs as opposed to sending standard emails.

[Avtex Engage 2020] Always Be Learning More

Any customer experience professional knows that the learning never stops – even if it happens on “summer vacation.” Don’t miss Engage 2020 this summer – hosted by our partners at Avtex!

June 21-24, 2020
The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel & Resort
Orlando, Florida

Engage 2020 offers unparalleled learning and networking opportunities, including multiple learning tracks and specialized breakout sessions focused on a wide range of customer experience topics. At Engage 2020, you’ll gain an entirely new perspective on what you can do to move your organization’s experience strategy and delivery forward.

To learn more and reserve your tickets before they are sold out, visit: AvtexEngage.com

Don’t forget to use the promo code: EXPERIENCETHIS10
to save 10% off the ticket price!

[Listener Stories] Puffs to the Rescue

Leandra jokingly shared on Twitter that she was spending a milestone birthday with her BFFs – Puffs and Musinex. Puffs posted a playful and sympathetic response on Twitter and then sent Leandra a handwritten note as well as a bunch of tissues to get her through the cold season.

Don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten note and a real-world interaction!

In an increasingly digital era, tangible touchpoints are exceedingly rare. People are dying for analog connection.

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

Leandra’s co-worker remarked (online no less), “That’s so sweet of Puffs! Because of your story alone, they’ve won my loyalty now too!” Don’t underestimate the power of a remarkable experience creating a lifelong fan in your direct customer – and their friends!

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 90 here or read it below:

Episode 87: The Extreme Application of Customer Personalization

Join us as we discuss a restaurant that makes meals specifically for you, a magician who wants you in on the trick, and a guide to living in the now, by learning from the past …

Sushi, Secrets, and Stillness – Oh My!

[CX Press] Taking Customer Personalization to the Extreme

How far can the trend towards customer personalization go? The trendspotters at Springwise explore a case of extreme application in their story, “Japanese Restaurant Will Test Your Saliva to Create the Perfect Sushi.”

Sushi Singularity – a new restaurant opening in Tokyo in 2020 – plans to use biometrics and 3D printers to create bespoke meals for every diner based on the individual diner’s personal health needs. After you make a reservation, the restaurant sends a collection kit in the mail to get samples of your saliva, feces, and urine. They then analyze these specimens to create a custom meal just for you – based on you personalized health ID.

3D printed sushi expands the possibilities of what your meal “looks like”

There are so many advances being made in personalized health, biome data, 3D printing, and hyper-personalization that I could envision a world in the very near future where people would think it’s odd to have food that wasn’t 100% customized for their personal DNA!

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

Sushi Singularity marries two trends in customer experience and innovation: 3D printing and personalization. And it does this in a very creative, albeit complex way. With this new standard for customer personalization, what will your customers expect when they interact with your business in 2020 and beyond?

Sushi Singularity – a futuristic take on sushi “just for you” (opening in 2020)

[Dissecting the Experience] A Magician Offers “Secrets” for Creating a Captivating Experience

When it comes to intriguing and captivating an audience, businesses around the world would be wise to study the spectacle created by two-time Olivier Award winner and world-famous mentalist Derren Brown in his show “Secret.”

The show (which regrettably is now closed) explored the stories and beliefs that guide our lives and did so in a magical, mesmerized fashion with three key takeaways for organizations:

  • The Show Begins “Before” the Show Begins – what are you doing to entice, engage, and entertain your audience (customers) before you deliver the product or service they specifically purchased?
  • Use Language to Keep Your Customers Engaged and Focused – an ongoing story, anchored with call backs helps customers maintain a state of wonder and concentration during your “performance.”
  • Enroll Your Customers in Something Special – what are you doing to let customers participate with you in a way that is so special that they must tell their friends all about it?

You don’t need to be a magician to create magic. You don’t need to be a mentalist to figure out what your customers are really thinking and then play with that information. All you need to do is learn from Derren Brown and his show “Secret” as it leaves clues for creating breathtaking interactions that will leave your customers raving to their friends and family.

[Avtex Engage 2020] Always Be Learning More

Any customer experience professional knows that the learning never stops – even if it happens on “summer vacation.” Don’t miss Engage 2020 this summer – hosted by our partners at Avtex!

June 21-24, 2020
The Walt Disney World Swan Hotel & Resort
Orlando, Florida

Engage 2020 offers unparalleled learning and networking opportunities, including multiple learning tracks and specialized breakout sessions focused on a wide range of customer experience topics. At Engage 2020, you’ll gain an entirely new perspective on what you can do to move your organization’s experience strategy and delivery forward.

To learn more and reserve your tickets before they are sold out, visit: AvtexEngage.com

Don’t forget to use the promo code: EXPERIENCETHIS10
to save 10% off the ticket price!

[What Are You Reading?] When Modern Life Feels Overwhelming, Turn to the Wisdom of Ancient Masters

In a world that increasingly assaults our senses with emails, text messages, commercials, tweets, and dozens of other forms of communication, more and more people are seeking relief. A sense of peace and calm can be found in the pages of Ryan Holiday’s third book in his Stoic trilogy: Stillness is the Key

Buddhism. Stoicism. Epicureanism. Christianity. Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does NOT venerate this inner peace – this stillness – as the highest good and as the key to elite performance and a happy life. And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.

from Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

If you want some reading that is not specifically related to customer experience, but will help you experience life in a happier, more peaceful way, check out Ryan Holiday’s fantastic book Stillness is the Key.

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 87 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!.

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

Dan Gingiss: Join us as we discuss a restaurant that makes meals specifically for you, a magician who wants you in on the trick, and a guide to living in the now by learning from the past.

Joey Coleman: Sushi, secrets, and stillness. Oh my!

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.

Joey Coleman: Welcome back to Season Five of the Experience This! Show. For those of our loyal listeners coming back for more, thanks for continuing to spend some time with us. For those of you that may be new to the Experience This! Show hold onto your hats cause we have a fantastic season for you, and we’re going to start it off with an interesting story that I came across.

Joey Coleman: Dan, I have a question. Have you ever heard about a restaurant and before it even opened or anyone you knew visited, you knew that you wanted to go there?

Dan Gingiss: Well, hey Joey, I’m excited to be back with you for season five and no, I have not heard of such a restaurant.

Joey Coleman: Well I had that experience recently when I was reading about a new restaurant opening soon in Tokyo and I wanted to share this CXPRESS article from a newsletter published by the team at Springwise. Springwise tracks interesting trends and the latest innovations and they shared a story titled, Japanese Restaurant Will Test Your Saliva to Create the Perfect Sushi.

Dan Gingiss: Now things are starting to make more sense. But wait, did you say saliva?

Joey Coleman: Yes, indeed, I did say saliva. So let me explain a bit. There is a new restaurant opening in Tokyo this year called Sushi Singularity. They plan to use biometrics and 3D printers to create bespoke meals for every diner based on the individual diner’s personal health needs.

Dan Gingiss: Wow. Now that is taking personalization to a new level.

Joey Coleman: Right? That’s what I thought and that’s why I was so interested in this. The restaurant’s a project by Japan based Open Meals and they plan to tailor the meal to your health. How will they do this, you might ask? When you make a reservation, you must do it at least two weeks before you want to dine at the restaurant. The restaurant will then send you a collection kit in the mail to get samples of your saliva, feces, and urine.

Dan Gingiss: Oh wait, hold on.

Joey Coleman: I figured I might throw him a curve ball with that one, ladies and gentlemen.

Dan Gingiss: Whoa, hold on. Now, you had me there and sushi. I was hungry for a little while, but now I think I’ve lost my appetite.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, no, I hear you, but bear with me. So once sushi singularity has your samples, so to speak, they will work with health technology companies to evaluate them and turn the results into a personalized health ID for each diner. This data then gets fed in devices like a CNC, or a computer numerical control machine, and a 3D printer, which will then custom create the sushi on a diner by diner basis. Nutrients will be added in based on the individual needs of each diner.

Dan Gingiss: Wait, time out. A 3D printer’s making my sushi?

Joey Coleman: Yeah, exactly. I know it sounds a little crazy, but just as I continue to tell about the story, I think you’re going to be as excited about this place as I am.

Dan Gingiss: So far, I’m not buying a ticket to Tokyo, but okay, if my health ID shows that, say I’m low on, I don’t know, magnesium, they would potentially put some into my salmon nigiri?

Joey Coleman: Well, yes, although since they’re going to be 3D printing the sushi one piece at a time, they won’t be inserting it into the salmon. Instead, they will build a piece of salmon nigiri that has all the flavor and the texture characteristics of salmon, without using an actual fish. And because they are 3D printing these pieces of sushi, they aren’t limited by the size, shape or colors of traditional fish.

Joey Coleman: In fact, one of their plan menu items, the dashi soup universe, is a cube shaped soup fashioned out of seaweed particles, or alginic acid, and white crystal and salt calcium lactate. Now I realize this is easier seen than explained, so if you go to our show notes at experiencethisshow.com, we’ve linked to a great promo video produced by Sushi Singularity that shows the entire sushi printing process and when you see the various shapes there’ll be able to print that diners will then eat. I think you’ll be as interested to see how this is all going to work as I am.

Dan Gingiss: You’re making a big assumption that diners are going to eat it first of all.

Joey Coleman: Here’s the thing, people are looking for unique experiences. We talk about this on the show all the time, and let’s be candid, if you’re in Tokyo, there are many sushi restaurants, so how do you stand out as a sushi restaurant in Tokyo? Well, one of ways, and I hate to give this away in the show, you print a piece of sushi that looks like an ancient Japanese temple that has all the tastes and characteristics of a piece of sushi, but it looks like you’re eating a little model of a building.

Dan Gingiss: But it isn’t actually fish.

Joey Coleman: But it is fish to your body. Hence the biometrics. When you eat fish, you’re not eating the piece of salmon saying, I’m thinking of the salmon swimming in the stream. No. Instead you’re enjoying the taste of the salmon. So if they get the flavor profiles that works, this is not that different than the move towards things like the impossible burger and burgers that aren’t actually made with meat, but they taste like that. This is just a variation on that same theme.

Dan Gingiss: What I think is interesting about this, and it’s mentioned in the article, is that Sushi Singularity is marrying two different trends, 3D printing and personalization. It’s clearly doing it in a very creative and complex way. And if that wasn’t enough, the video that we’re going to share on the show notes also shows how biometrics and fingerprint identification can be used to identify patrons when they enter the restaurant and produce custom menus and messages when they sit down and touch the table in front of them.

Joey Coleman: Now, let’s be candid. I get that this is a crazy concept, but I also felt myself thinking that this probably wouldn’t seem crazy if we were talking about this in the year 2030, or 10 years from now. There are so many advances being made in personalized health, biome data, 3D printing, and hyper personalization, that I can envision a world where in the very near future where people would think it’s odd to have food that isn’t a 100% customized to their personal DNA.

Dan Gingiss: Well, I know this isn’t an agree to disagree segment, joey.

Joey Coleman: But it’s turning into that. I can feel it.

Dan Gingiss: People also were saying 15 years ago when I was at a credit card company that credit cards were dead because we were going to only be using exclusively digital wallets and we’re not even close to that 15 years later, so I don’t think this is becoming a 100%. I don’t think this is a thing in 2030. It’s interesting in the sense that, and where I see the applications, are understanding your body and what your body needs and how your body’s needs are different from the next person’s needs and being able to influence what you eat because of that. Maybe you do need additional magnesium in your day, whereas your neighbor doesn’t because his magnesium is just fine. I think that’s really, really interesting.

Dan Gingiss: Where you lost me, and where I observed our audio engineer Taylor throwing up a little bit in his mouth over there, was this idea that we’re using this technology to create something that isn’t real, that is made up product coming out of a printer. I.

Dan Gingiss: Even the meatless burgers are produced in a similar way to burgers. They’re not printed out of an HP printer. That’s the part where you lost me, because I just… That does not sound appetizing.

Joey Coleman: All right. Fair enough. But here’s the deal. First of all, there are a number of restaurants around the world that 3D print food today. A number of restaurants that already do that. Some of the top chefs on the planet are experimenting with this because you can get taste profiles and flavors and combinations that you can’t find in “the real world.”

Joey Coleman: Number two, how many friends have you had, because I know I’ve had many, who because of a diet, or some type of dietary sensitivity, or a cleanse that they’re on, can’t get food at the restaurant that meets the requirements of what their health requires? This solves that problem.

Joey Coleman: Because imagine being in a situation where instead of just going to the pizza place to have a pizza and it’s like, wait, I’m gluten free, dairy free, I can’t order the pizza, instead of having them have to make the gluten free dairy free pizza, they can 3D print exactly what you want and make it look just like a pizza.

Joey Coleman: Now, here’s the thing I’d be willing to bet that if they 3D printed a piece of sushi at Sushi Singularity that looked exactly like a salmon nigiri piece, and gave you that to taste alongside a regular slice of salmon on a bed of rice, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Dan Gingiss: Careful where you’re going here. That’s absolutely untrue, because I’ve tasted these fake burgers and they taste like I’m licking the floor of a forest.

Joey Coleman: Today. Today they taste like that because the technology is new. What’s it going to be like in three years? In five years? Not to mention, by the way, how much of the food that we currently consume is not actually food.

Dan Gingiss: That’s a fair point.

Joey Coleman: So if we’re going to get up on our high horses about, well, I only eat food that’s actual food, then suddenly 75% of American’s diets just got eliminated.

Dan Gingiss: Please give me my Doritos back, Joey.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, exactly.

Dan Gingiss: That’s my bag.

Joey Coleman: But look, it’s shaped like a triangle, like a wedge of cheese. They made it look like that so you would think it was cheese. That is the variation on the theme of Sushi Singularity.

Joey Coleman: Look, here’s the deal. Short of making a reservation and traveling to Tokyo for some personalized 3D printed sushi, which it’s clear Dan isn’t going to do anytime soon, how can you apply this story to your own business? This is what we’d like to do on Experience This! We like to tell you stories of interesting, unique things that are happening, but we want to help you translate that into your world as a listener. What can you apply?

Joey Coleman: In some ways the application is easier or harder based on your product or service offering, but what I like about this story is it forces us to dramatically expand our minds about what is going to be possible in the near future with wearables, data tracking, aggregative collection of biometrics, inexpensive 3D printing, and an increased expectation for hyper-personalization amongst the majority of customers.

Joey Coleman: It’s just a matter of time before your customers, regardless of your business or industry, are expecting this type of custom treatment in their interactions with you.

Joey Coleman: Now, while you wait to allow the technology to pair more specifically with your offerings, what are you going to do to shift your mindset about what you can do for your customers and how far you can take the interactions to make them feel special?

Joey Coleman: The time of giving your customers a standard menu and asking them to just point out what they want is fading quickly and the real masters are going to be the ones who can attract customers with offerings that are a 100% unique to them and therefore leaves the customer feeling 100% special and appreciated.

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.

Joey Coleman: Have you ever been to a magic show, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: Oh, yes, I have been to many and in fact, both of my kids were really into magic for a number of years, did some at home, and were always begging to go to shows. And so we’ve gone to a number of them and had a great time.

Joey Coleman: I love it. Well, as is often the case in our life experience as friends, I feel like I’m having a very similar experience. My kids are a little bit younger than your kids and we’re going through that phase right now. I’ve always had an interest in magic, but I have a six year old son who is a budding magician, so I’ve spent more time in the last year watching magic videos, working on magic tricks with my son, purchasing magic books, and going to magic shows, than ever before in the past.

Dan Gingiss: But I remember that you recently went to a show by yourself.

Joey Coleman: Correct. I was in New York City a few months ago and I got the chance to see two time Olivier Award Winner, Derren Brown, stun the crowd with a unique blend of mind reading, persuasion, and illusion.

Dan Gingiss: Is that the guy that’s got a special on Netflix?

Joey Coleman: He actually has several and they’re pretty fascinating explorations of human nature, persuasion, messaging, experience, although I want to clarify it, they’re a bit intense, so you probably want to watch them by yourself without the kids before you decide whether you want the kids to watch them too. But these explorations of human nature and experience are the things we talk about on this show every week, which is why I wanted to go see Derren Brown live on stage. And it’s not surprising to me that he lived up to the legend and then some.

Dan Gingiss: So tell us about this show while I go onto Netflix and make sure that I add it to my list.

Joey Coleman: Nice. So the show was called Derren Brown: Secret, and while it had an extended run at the fabled Cort Theatre in New York, it’s actually no longer open. The show explored the stories and beliefs that guide our lives and did so in a magical, mesmerizing fashion.

Joey Coleman: There are a few things about the show that I found particularly useful to think about in the context of customer experience. First of all, the show began before the show began. So while we’re waiting in line to enter the theater, and then again while sitting in the seats waiting for the show to start, staff members gave the audience the chance to participate in a number of activities. Audience members could have their pictures taken. They were given the opportunity to fill out secret forms. There were multiple ways the audience engaged with the show that would actually come back later when the performance began.

Joey Coleman: So for example, during the show, Derren Brown took the photos that people had taken before the show and used them to select people based on their photo alone to come up on the stage and participate in the act. He told them things about themselves that there was no way he could have known.

Joey Coleman: Now as a mentalist, it seemed like some of this could have been based on observation and commonalities in the human condition. But that being said, he also seemed to be reading people in real time and the impact as an audience member watching all of this play out was quite impressive.

Dan Gingiss: I love the idea idea of starting the show before the show and I can already see the connection back to our show and the businesses that we’re talking to. Because often when businesses think about their customer journey, they begin when the customer first steps foot in their store, or when they first get to the website, or first call, instead of considering that the show for them actually starts well before that.

Dan Gingiss: The part of the journey where the customer is working their way toward you may not be as obvious as it was in the theater setting because it might be something that they’re doing off on their own, such as going to Google and searching something, for example. But if we’re willing to look at it, there are a number of ways to engage our customers before they even get to us.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. So for example, when you purchase a ticket to a theater performance, I think the general presumption is that the show will start when the curtain goes up. In this instance, it was a real change from the usual expectation. The show began before I was even in the theater, let alone in my seat.

Joey Coleman: And if that wasn’t enough, this effort to actively engage the audience continued in each and every interaction and “trick” that was performed. In fact, when looking for volunteers for the different stage activities, Brown would throw Frisbees into the audience, including the highest balconies in the theater, and then ask the people who caught them to come down on and be participants. So this not only created a great bit of emotional theater, and as a speaker I found it a fascinating way to get volunteers, but it also helped reinforce the belief the audience had that every participant in the show was a random audience member. Something which I must confess, I’m still not sure about months later and is a big part of magic tricks.

Dan Gingiss: Well, and my mind always goes to, and I’m sorry for being a macabre person here, but my mind always goes to that guy in the front row of the top balcony that’s going to dive for the Frisbee and fall over. So to me it sounds dangerous, but again, it could be scripted, it could be in some way staged, and so it sounds like in any event that this show had many, many layers to it, which of course any good customer experience does as well.

Joey Coleman: Absolutely, and that brings us to our second takeaway, that throughout the performance, Brown kept using language and callbacks to keep the audience focused.

Dan Gingiss: For listeners that may not be familiar with the phrase callback, it’s a term that’s very common in the world of comedy to describe a joke that refers to one previously told in the set. Basically you tell the joke once and then later in the show, the later the better, when you tell the joke again, it usually gets a much bigger laugh. This is because the person leading the show, whether it’s comedian, or magician, or even your random keynote speaker, makes the audience feel a sense of familiarity with the subject material and the person leading the show. It’s a great way to create rapport with an audience.

Joey Coleman: Exactly. So Brown did a great job during the show of using callbacks to get the audience on the same page and each time he did, it strengthened his connection with the audience. Not only did the entire show build to the finale, which he kept referencing throughout the show, but there were several times where he would actually say, now, watch over here because something is going to happen. And then a few minutes later he would say, did you see it?

Joey Coleman: And because the audience had been distracted by other things he was doing, they completely missed the thing that he had pointed out before that happened right in front of their eyes. He then encouraged them to watch that same place and promised it would happen again. And once again, a ton of people missed it the second time around.

Dan Gingiss: Never underestimate the stupidity of your audience.

Joey Coleman: Well, humans are fascinating is the way I like to say it, Dan, but I hear you. It made me think about customer experience and how it can be designed to repeat in a way that feels new and interesting and exciting. See all too often a repeat customer will have the same product or service experience with a brand. And I think most brands usually miss the chance to spice it up every once in a while.

Dan Gingiss: So can you tell our listeners what happened during intermission? Because you mentioned this to me after you saw the show and I thought it was really interesting.

Joey Coleman: I did too, Dan. During intermission, once again, the free time that was not officially part of the show, was used to continue the journey and create more experiential touchpoints. Ushers at the back of the stage had more secret forms that could be filled out in case you arrived at the theater late and missed the show antics.

Joey Coleman: In addition, audience members were invited to come onstage and select their favorite animal from a long list of animals and then later this seemingly random activity was featured in the big finale in a way that it seemed as if the audience had selected the outcome of the entire show. It was pretty amazing.

Dan Gingiss: How did that part work?

Joey Coleman: Well, incredibly well. It kept the audience on an emotional high during intermission. It also allowed them to catch a breather if they wanted. I was reminded of how often organizations barrage their customers with communication when sometimes giving the customer the chance to come up for air actually serves your longterm goals even better than continuing to stay in close communication with them.

Dan Gingiss: Fair enough. But I meant how did the intermission work when it came to the second half the show?

Joey Coleman: Oh, well, I’m not exactly sure. And I also feel compelled to keep the secret, which wasn’t just the name of the show. You see throughout the show, Derren Brown kept enrolling the audience in the big secret, making us promise again and again that we wouldn’t reveal too much to other people that hadn’t seen the show and thereby ruin it for them, which not only had the desired effect of making people feel like they were special and part of the in crowd, but months later, even after the show was closed, I still don’t want to reveal too much and give anything away.

Dan Gingiss: Even though the show isn’t running anymore.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. Even though the show isn’t running anymore. Which brings me to my final observation. When you create connection with your customers and make them feel like they’re part of something special, they will, A, actively go out and recruit people to attend. In fact, that night I told an entire table of friends that lived in New York to make sure they went to see this show. And, B, the customers will protect the special aspects of your experience so that new customers can live it firsthand.

Joey Coleman: Throughout the show, Brown kept imploring us not to tell anyone the secret because it would ruin it for them, and by getting the customers to sign on to this commitment, he made sure we maintained a high level of interest, which almost guaranteed that people wouldn’t ruin the show for other prospective customers by telling them too much.

Dan Gingiss: I think there’s a really interesting opportunity here for our listeners to think about their own businesses. How are you enrolling advocates? How are you using mystery and intrigue to layer meaning and emotion into your various customer touch points? How can a sense of mystery, or intrigue, or even playfulness be incorporated into your customer journey?

Joey Coleman: Friends. You don’t need to be a magician to create magic. You don’t need to be a mentalist to figure out what your customers are really thinking and then play with that information. What you do have the opportunity to do is begin the show before it officially begins. Use callbacks to key phrases and moments in the customer journey to build rapport and connection with your customers. And figure out ways to enroll your customers in something special so they want to tell all of their friends about it, without giving away too many of your secrets.

Dan Gingiss: One are the biggest challenges that customer experience folks have at their organizations is convincing their colleagues, and boss, that CX is important. We often hear from our clients that while they believe in the value of creating remarkable customer experiences, their leadership team needs more convincing. If this sounds like your company keep listening.

Joey Coleman: Our partners at Avtex are hosting Engaged 2020 this summer in Orlando, Florida. They’re bringing an outstanding lineup of customer experience experts and thought leaders to offer insight about creating remarkable customer experiences and share the real economic impact that CX has on your bottom line.

Dan Gingiss: Now if that isn’t enough to convince you to come down to Florida and bring your boss with you, did we mention that the event is being hosted at Disney World?

Joey Coleman: Disney World.

Dan Gingiss: If you’re listening to this show, you know that the team at Disney is absolutely world-class at creating experiences that keep their customers coming back again and again. You also know that both Dan and Joey are huge Disney fans.

Dan Gingiss: At Engage 2020 you’ll get the unique chance to pull back the curtain on the Disney World experience through a series of special surprises right in the park.

Joey Coleman: As you think about where to spend your training and development dollars in the year to come, Engage 2020, which again is happening June 21st through 24th, needs to be on your calendar and we’re happy to share a special code just for listeners of Experience This! that will save you 10% off your ticket price. Just use the secret code experiencethis10.

Dan Gingiss: To learn more about the event, the agenda, and what you can expect at Engage 2020, visit www.avtexengage, that’s A-V-T-E-X engage.com, and we’ll see you at Engage 2020 this June.

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?

Dan Gingiss: Joey, it’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to ask you what you’re reading beyond the books that are written about customer experience and customer service.

Joey Coleman: Well, it has been awhile, Dan, and to be honest, I’ve been reading a lot of books that probably would be defined as pure business, but I read a book at the end of last year that ended up being my most favorite book of 2019 and I’ve actually gone back and reread it since. It was that good.

Dan Gingiss: Wow. Tell me more. This sounds like a good one that I need to add to my own bookshelf.

Joey Coleman: You definitely should. So the book is called Stillness Is the Key, and in the interest of full disclosure, it’s by my good friend, the modern day philosopher, thinker, and writer Ryan Holiday. So to set the stage a bit, Stillness Is the Key, is the third book in Holiday’s trilogy about stoic philosophy.

Dan Gingiss: Stoic, philosophy. Let’s be careful here, Joey. This is not something that’s sounds like people are going to get excited about, after all it’s stoic.

Joey Coleman: Okay, I see what you did there. But, and you’re right, stoic philosophy doesn’t usually get folks super excited. But having read Holiday’s first two books in the trilogy, The Obstacle Is the Way, and Ego Is the Enemy, I was ready and waiting to see how he would bring everything together in this final book. And he didn’t disappoint.

Joey Coleman: So the book is divided into three parts, the mind, the spirit, and the body. And in each part of the book, Holiday offers a series of maxims and advice backed by diligent research into stories that you think you know, but you really don’t know the whole story.

Dan Gingiss: So how about you give us an example?

Joey Coleman: Okay, so in college and law school, I spent a good amount of time studying the American Presidency. And from the time I was very little, I was always fond of John F. Kennedy. I’ve studied his Presidency in classes. I’ve written papers about it. I’ve given speeches about it. I’ve listened to lectures about it. I’ve read numerous biographies. I know a fair amount of about JFK. I don’t think of myself as an expert on his Presidency, but I’ve spent enough time with it that I felt pretty comfortable that I knew most of the story.

Joey Coleman: But one of Kennedy’s most significant moments in his Presidency was the Cuban Missile Crisis, and in Stillness Is the Key, I got to see an entirely new side of the story.

Joey Coleman: So the book shares how Kennedy spent the entire crisis trying to get everyone around him, his advisors, the other elected officials, the military, the intelligence community to slow down so they could really think about the problem that was in front of them.

Joey Coleman: Now, all too often, especially in 2020, I think that situations and problems and crisis are coming at us so fast that rarely do we take the time to pump the brakes and think. We usually get locked into our initial impressions or go with our gut without making time to slow down and consider the situation all the way through.

Joey Coleman: During the crisis, Kennedy became fixated with insisting that people think about why the Russians did this. “What is the advantage they’re trying to get?” he would ask his advisors, with real interest.

Joey Coleman: He took his time and eventually ordered a blockade, which interestingly enough embodied one of his favorite expressions and I’m quoting from the book now, it used time as a tool. It gave both sides a chance to examine the stakes of the crisis and offered Khrushchev the opportunity to reevaluate his impression of Kennedy’s supposed weakness. In some, by taking the time and being still, Kennedy was able to slow things down and avert a potential nuclear war.

Dan Gingiss: Well, I find this really interesting if you bring it to today’s society and culture, that everybody always seems to be running, running, running. We’re using devices. We’ve got phone calls and emails and tweets to respond to. We’re going from meeting to meeting, to meeting, to meeting. Just getting home and sitting down on the couch after a long day is the new luxury, because we’ve spent the whole day moving.

Dan Gingiss: And so conceptually I think that slowing down makes a ton of sense and I’ve found that even taking, for example, a few minutes before bed to read a book, which is something I don’t do nearly as often as I should, just helps to remove the stress and get me to think a little bit more clearly. So I think conceptually this makes a lot of sense.

Joey Coleman: Exactly. And that was definitely the takeaway that I had from the book, is that there is so much rushing, why aren’t we slowing down?

Joey Coleman: Now I realize that the Kennedy story I shared is pretty dramatic, but rest assured that the entire book is filled with these types of fascinating behind the scenes stories of situations that you think you know about, but really there’s more to the story.

Joey Coleman: For example, he details what happened behind the scenes with the fall from grace when Tiger Woods personal and professional life imploded for all of us to see. He talks about Napoleon’s habits for opening and responding to mail. Shaw, Green’s batting slump with the Los Angeles Dodgers. And Fred Rogers, or Mr. Rogers as most of us know him as, ability to write programs for children that still resonate with today’s attention deficit kids.

Joey Coleman: Now, there’s so many times that we find ourselves faced with a challenge that we immediately jump in to solve or we go into triage mode. A customer complaints about a situation. A marketing campaign doesn’t produce the numbers we thought it would. A new competitor enters the marketplace. Instead of slowing down to truly evaluate the situation, we jump into action and we justify this behavior by citing our speed to answer, or our call resolution time, instead of taking the extra minutes, or hours, or, days to truly understand the situation and then decide what to do next.

Dan Gingiss: I’m going to be a tiny bit vulnerable here with you, Joey.

Joey Coleman: I like it.

Dan Gingiss: What I find is that in my professional life I’m able to do this. I’m able to advise a company, for example, don’t freak out that nobody’s responded to your social media message yet. It takes time, and relax, and let’s check it again in a week, and let’s not jump to conclusions.

Dan Gingiss: In my personal life, I’m not as good at that and I often jump into problem solving mode, or so I’ve been told, when somebody comes to me with a problem that they’re having, and sometimes as it pertains to me, it happens to be the women in my life often just want to talk and have somebody to talk to and somebody to listen, not to solve a problem. And I’ve even worked this little dealy out where I’m like if you can tell me ahead of time that you just want me to listen, then I’ll zip it and I won’t jump into problem solving mode.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, I love it. A not uncommon experience in many couples and many relationships between men and women around the world. We could do a whole segment and episode, in fact we could do a whole season, on this topic alone. And what I think it illustrates is that we are so compelled to take action as opposed to savoring things.

Joey Coleman: And one of the things I actually tried to do when I was reading the book was saver it. Not only did I find myself slowing down consciously to enjoy Holiday’s prose, but I found myself limiting my reading time so that I could draw out the number of days that I would spend reading the book, as opposed to I got to get to the end of the book because I want the next book to read.

Dan Gingiss: So you weren’t binge reading, in other words?

Joey Coleman: I wasn’t binge reading. Exactly. And in an age where it seems like we’re encouraged to consume as much content as possible, as often as possible, it was a real treat to seek stillness in my own reading and savor this book.

Joey Coleman: In fact, Holiday quotes Blaise Pascal as saying, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Dan Gingiss: Is that Pascal, the French mathematician?

Joey Coleman: Exactly. And here’s the interesting thing, pascal was encouraging us to be still in 1654. How much easier do you think it was for him to be still almost 400 years ago?

Dan Gingiss: Children put your rocks down and pay attention.

Joey Coleman: Exactly. He didn’t have all the distractions that we have today and yet it was an issue back then. In fact, Holiday notes that if the quiet moments are the best moments, and if so many wise and virtuous people have sung their praises, why are they so rare? Well, the answer is that while we may naturally possess stillness, accessing it is not easy.

Joey Coleman: In Stillness Is the Key, not only does Holiday present the reasons for this type of approach to life, but he offers a roadmap of tips and techniques and behaviors that are designed to help his readers achieve the elusive stillness.

Joey Coleman: I think my feelings about this book can probably best be summed up by something Ryan holiday writes in the preface of the book, “Buddhism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Christianity, Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does not venerate this inner peace, this stillness, as the highest good and the key to elite performance and a happy life. And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool decline to listen.”

Joey Coleman: Do yourself a favor, friends, go purchase a copy of Ryan Holiday’s book, Stillness Is the Key. You won’t be disappointed and it might just change the way you look at the world and the experiences you’re creating.

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 84: Empower Your Customers to Have the Best Experience Possible

Join us as we discuss a new hot spot in Vegas serving an unusual target market, creative ways to build a relationship with your desired audience, and thoughtless messages to long term customers.

Cleansing, Nursing, and Wasting – Oh My!

[CX Press] Standing Out in the Crowd by Seeking a Different Type of Customer

Las Vegas is known for many things: non-stop gambling, world-class restaurants, and breath-taking shows. Coming soon to Las Vegas? A new $850 million resort that won’t have gambling or shows – but will have people talking about the food. In the article Forget Blackjack by Rachel Cormack in Robb Report magazine, she details plans for the Majestic Las Vegas – a new resort designed to cater to a health and wellness-oriented clientele.

Pool at Majestic Las Vegas Opening in 2023

Not everyone goes to Las Vegas on vacation or to party. Some visit “Sin City” for conventions and conferences and because their company sends them for work, they aren’t as interested in gambling and nightclubs. A calm, soothing resort with a four-floor wellness center and a top notch spa may be just the experience that these visitors are looking for in their “Vegas vacation.”

[This Just Happened] Aligning with a Great Product to Establish a Future Customer

While walking through the Atlanta airport recently, Joey spotted a breastfeeding pods. These sleek, simple pods provide a comfortable and private space for women to feed their babies. Mamava offers these solutions for breastfeeding mamas on the go – in a time when women are increasingly more frustrated by laws that vary drastically from state to state about how and where they are allowed to feed their children.

Zappos recently partnered with Mamava, not to advertise their shoes, but to align themselves with a brand committed to serving one of their target markets – mothers. One can imagine that Zappos hopes this partnership will result in those using the pods to have positive feelings toward the Zappos brand. By providing breastfeeding mothers with a creative, comfortable, convenient solution, Zappos is not only doing something that aligns with their values, but they are making a long-term, strategic bet.

[Ask yourself] “What are the ways that we could create a better experience for our target audience – even if it’s not directly aligned with the services or the products we’re selling?”

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

Partnering with companies that have similar goals and similar target markets, to provide better experiences for your customers and potential customers, a brand can build long-term value and benefit. An investment in building your brand reputation today promises to result in great returns in the future.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Empowering Customers

Sometimes, a customer just wants to be able to solve their own problem without needing to involve another human. While human interaction and the ability to speak with a representative from your company is great, sometimes just empowering your customer to solve their problems on their own is actually providing a better customer experience.

Here are five ways you can empower your customer:

  1. Develop a robust self-help knowledge base on your website or mobile application.
  2. Create an intuitive IVR (interactive voice response) menu to allow customers to direct themselves to the proper support channel.
  3. Offer self-service portals to enable customers to complete specific tasks – such as updating account information or accessing key information securely.
  4. Maintain a chatbot on your website to guide customers to the resolutions they seek.
  5. Provide customers with the ability to easily escalate to “assisted service” at any point they desire.

Start the conversation with this question: Do we offer customers the tools and access they need to confidently resolve issues?

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

[Dissecting the Experience] Stop Asking Your Customers the Same Questions, Year After Year

For over a decade, Joey has received hundreds of credit card offers from his bank. Despite NEVER responding to these mailers, Joey continues to receive these offers month after month. This has cost his bank hundreds of dollars, and yet when Joey goes in to the bank’s local branch, no-one asks him if he wants a credit card – or better yet, if he wants to opt-out of receiving these types of offers!

The reasoning for this is likely very simple: large banks (like many large organizations) operate in silos. One part of the bank (e.g., the retail branch division) does not communicate with the other side of the bank (e.g., credit card division). This behavior often leads to less-than-ideal experiences, miscommunications, and in this instance, a great deal of wasted effort, money, and paper on credit card offers.

By digging into the data a little bit, the bank could eliminate a significant pocket of that campaign that is never going to respond. And what they’ll find, is by mailing fewer people, and getting the same responses, the response rate goes up and their cost per account goes down.

Dan Gingiss, co-host of the Experience This! Show podcast

What can we learn from the overflowing amount of mailers Joey received? It’s important to pay attention to your customers and track their behavior. Work with other segments of your business to provide a unified experience across all of your departments/divisions. By making things easier for your customers and showing them that the “right hand knows what the left hand is doing,” not only will you provide them with a better experience, but you will prove that you value their business at an individual customer level.

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 84 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 new hotspot in Vegas, serving an unusual target market, creative ways to build the relationship with your desired audience and thoughtless messages to long-term customers.

Dan Gingiss: Cleansing, nursing, and wasting. Oh, my.

[CX Press] Wellness Hotel Las Vegas

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. When I say Las Vegas, what three words come to mind for you, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: Eating, gambling, and shows in that order.

Joey Coleman: Eating, gambling, and shows. Great, well, what if I told you that wellness was a word that is increasingly going to be associated with Las Vegas?

Dan Gingiss: I would say that maybe you’ve been out in the desert heat too long, joey. Get out of the sun and cool off because wellness in Vegas…

Joey Coleman: Fair enough, fair enough. I can understand the skepticism and I was surprised myself, Dan. But after reading this week’s CX PRESS, I’ve become more of a believer. The article is called Forget Blackjack. This new $850 million Las Vegas lux resort is going all in on wellness. And it was written by Rachel Cormack for the magazine, Robb Report. The article details plans for Majestic Las Vegas, a new high-rise hotel in the center of Sin City. Now, at first glance, this new resort seems like most Vegas resorts, 720 suites, 6 standalone restaurants with world-class chefs, a pool area with 50 cabanas, and a large space for live entertainment. Where this resort is not like most is that there will be absolutely no gambling.

Dan Gingiss: That’s it. I’m out, Joey.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, that’s not your thing.

Dan Gingiss: If I can’t play blackjack or shoot some craps, I don’t know what I’m doing in Las Vegas.

Joey Coleman: Fair enough, fair enough. And again, I get it that many people go to Vegas for the gambling, and they go for the eating. But there’s a percentage of people that go to Vegas who, that’s not their lifestyle. They have to be in Vegas for work, or maybe they’re going with some friends, but the whole debauchery, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, isn’t really their speed. And so this new hotel, the Majestic Las Vegas, actually is going to have a four-level state of the art, fitness, nutrition and spa center. So instead of being like Dan and playing blackjack or rolling craps, guess we’ll be able to get spa treatments and take yoga classes. As the resort developer Lorenzo Doumani notes, it is time for Las Vegas to provide a luxury option for those who visit our city, who wants something that is non-gaming.

Dan Gingiss: So I understand this even though it’s not a place that I would probably choose to stay at because more and more people have their different niche audiences that require sort of niche products to fill in the niche, if you will. And in this particular case, I get that there are people that go to Las Vegas who don’t want to drink, don’t want to gamble, don’t want to go to shows, and just want to relax. And if those things are not available in other hotels, and I’m not sure if they are, because again, the spa’s generally not a place that I spend a whole lot of time in, then I think…

Joey Coleman: We got to get damn getting more massages folks. We had a little conversation about this off air. I’m going to call you out. We got to get you a more massages, buddy.

Dan Gingiss: No, that’s really not my thing.

Joey Coleman: They’re so great. I know, but they’re so great. If folks message us, if you think Dan should spend more time in the spa, tweet at him on Twitter or DM him or whatever you do on Twitter and say, “Joey wanted me to share with you that I agree you should spend more time in the spa.”

Dan Gingiss: Or tweet at me and tell me if you think I should spend more time in the casino instead.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, fair enough, fair enough. So I think I agree with you, Dan, that there are obviously people that are going to Vegas for very specific reasons. But what surprised me or caught my attention about this article and why I wanted to talk about it is this hotel is kind of zigging when everyone else is zagging. I mean, they call it Sin City for a reason. And the fact that you would go to Sin City to get a cold-pressed juice and a massage and a cucumber rap is not really the story that usually gets told on social media or when you get back home.

Dan Gingiss: It sounds like Sinless City.

Joey Coleman: Sinless City. Yeah, that’s a good point. That should be part of their branding. But what I do think is important to acknowledge is that often people go to a city not because they choose to go, but because they have to go. And Vegas is definitely one of those cities. There are tons of conventions and conferences there, where you may be… I was actually just talking to someone the other day that had been to Vegas once, and they were completely turned off because it’s just not their vibe, but they had to go there for work. They were a meeting planner, hosting an event. Their company decided they were going to Vegas. And this I think gives the opportunity for businesses to have more flexibility, not only on where they hold their events, but if they have employees going to Vegas who are not kind of of the typical Vegas ilk, they can have them stay at the Majestic.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I mean, again, I’m all for offering different options for people. And I think for a certain part of the population, this is probably going to be a very appealing and something that they will choose over going to Vegas for gaming. And I think you’re right that Vegas in particular happens to be a place that people end up at sometimes despite themselves. They’re not because they want to be, but because they have to be. I’m one of those guys that gets excited when I get to go to Vegas. You’re probably one of those guys that you’re like, “Ah, Vegas again.”

Joey Coleman: No, I love Vegas. Vegas is one of my most favorite cities on the planet. But here’s the thing, I don’t drink, I don’t gamble, but I love the shows, I love the restaurants, and I love the spectacle of humanity, not to mention all the amazing customer experiences.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, I totally agree. But let’s take this out of Vegas briefly for a context. I went to the movie theater last week with my wife. And I’m in the process of trying to get healthier when it comes to my diet. And we go to the theater because we want to see a movie and the only thing I can get at the theater from the concession stand that even remotely comes close to the diet I’m trying to maintain is a bottle of water. Literally, the only thing is the water. And I found myself thinking, “How many people go to the movies, especially in a place like Colorado, that is a general rule, the population is pretty healthy and would love it if there was a banana or an apple or something that they could get that wasn’t a box of candy?”

Dan Gingiss: Well, Joey, I think you’re missing something really important.

Joey Coleman: What’s that?

Dan Gingiss: Raisinets candy is fruit.

Joey Coleman: Oh, yeah I’ll get that next time folks. Next time Raisinets. Well, the moral of the story is if you’re going to Vegas, the good news is this hotel is scheduled to open in 2023. And it’s going to be located directly opposite the new Las Vegas Convention Center, which is opening two years earlier and it’s right in the heart of the city. So if the wellness trend we’re on now in the US continues, it likely is going to open to a line of prospective guests waiting to book stays. Who knows? Maybe some of those might be our listeners because by then let’s be candid, what happens in Vegas can be cleansed in Vegas.

[This Just Happened] Zappos Breastfeeding Pod

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

I saw something in the Atlanta Airport last week and I was reminded that I’ve been meaning to bring this up on the show for some time. Dan, have you seen the Zappos branded lactation pod?

Dan Gingiss: I’m sorry, the what now?

Joey Coleman: You heard me correct, the Zappos branded lactation pod. So this is really cool. In the Atlanta Airport, and did a bunch of other airports around the country in public spaces, zappos has partnered with a company, Mamava, I think I’m pronouncing that right, to provide privacy pods for pumping or breastfeeding women. Now, what’s interesting about this is there’s such an amazing opportunity, I think, for brands to align their corporate values with societal values. So a growing number of women are rightfully so, in my opinion, frustrated by the different laws from state to state, the societal norms and the places where they’re being told or being told they can’t breastfeed in public.

This is a natural thing and the moral of this story is we have folks who are trying to take care of their child who can’t because of either the rules or the regulations. And Zappos has realized that by co-branding with Mamava, this company that makes these little pods that can just be dropped into a building. And think of it basically as like a three times the normal size phone booth with no windows. So you can just go in, it’s this quiet, serene place. I just thought it was a really interesting way for Zappos to become part of a solution for a target market I think they’re really trying to reach.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, it’s interesting. I actually have seen… all joking aside, I saw one at Union Station in Chicago, which is the main train station. And it is interesting because it doesn’t take up a ton of space. It’s definitely visually appealing in the sense that will you pass it by? You’re like, “Whoa, what’s that?” It looks almost like it’s from outer space, or it was designed by somebody with some design skills. And I do think it’s interesting. On first glance, I’m thinking, “Well, Zappos is about shoes, and this is about breastfeeding, and I don’t really see the connection. But then the marketer in me kind of chimes in and says, “Well, women and mothers are probably big customers of Zappos. And this is a really interesting way for Zappos to get emotionally connected to them in a way that has nothing to do with shoes or feet.”

Joey Coleman: I agree. I’ve spent a little bit of time looking at the numbers behind this. The average American family spends $6,100 on their baby in the first year.

Dan Gingiss: I believe it.

Joey Coleman: Right now, let’s be clear, Zappos isn’t selling diapers, they’re not selling pacifiers and bibs. But that baby is eventually going to need shoes. And so I think this idea of partnering with someone who is providing a great service in your target audience’s marketplace that they need, so these pods to create the interaction and the brand awareness, if you will, is a really interesting way to do it. Now, to be very clear, when you go in these pods or when you’re walking around them, they’re not advertising shoes. It says Zappos, it has the Zappos logo. And we’ll include some photos of the one in the Atlanta Airport in the show notes at experiencethisshow.com. It has a giant picture of a baby. So it’s very clear what it’s for. And then it has a bunch of statistics on the benefits of breastfeeding on the side.

But what’s also interesting is it’s not necessarily just something that could be done for breastfeeding moms. I can envision these type of pods being dropped as a place for folks who maybe have some sensory challenges to be able to go into a place that’s a little quieter, that doesn’t have the hustle and bustle. And so if a brand was trying to associate with that target market, I think you could partner up and do a similar type thing. At the end of the day, it really gets us thinking, “What are the ways that we could create a better experience for our target audience even if it’s not directly aligned with the services or the products we’re selling?”

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, and I think we should also say that kudos to Mamava for finding Zappos. If you look at the transaction the other around.

Joey Coleman: Totally, totally.

Dan Gingiss: Because Mamava’s clearly not as well known of a brand and to pair with someone like Zappos, who people see the Zappos logo and they recognize it instantly, probably brings a lot more positive attention to the Mamava brand, which I think is great for them.

Joey Coleman: Well, I also think this speaks to your acknowledgement that the Mamava brand has a very clean design aesthetic and it’s clear that they pay attention to design. Zappos is well known in all circles for having amazing customer experience and clean design. And so it really is a great partnership between two brands. And I’m like you, Dan, I presume that Mamava’s going to get a nice lift in their brand recognition and kind of the opinion about their brand because of the association with Zappos. So what do we do? How do we apply what we’ve seen with Zappos partnership with Mamava to your business? Well, I think there’s an opportunity to create better experiences for the audiences you’re trying to reach.

First, we would identify challenges or pain points that they’re feeling as a group that have no direct correlation to our business offerings. So I’m not saying, “Oh, you sell shoes, go where all the people who need shoes are.” It’s like no, get a connection that has nothing to do with your offering because it feels a lot less sale-sy that way. Second, figure out creative ways to solve the challenges that your target market is facing, either on your own or in partnership with providers. And third, don’t try to rush it. Don’t try to maximize the profitability of each interaction. One of the things that is the fastest way to eliminate any positive goodwill or feelings of positive customer satisfaction is to try to make the interaction into a sellable moment. Sit back, relax. Let your reputation for serving your target audience build. Don’t worry, they’ll remember you later when it’s relevant to both of you.

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Empowering Customers

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 empowering customers. The moderate customer expects the ability to seek resolutions to issues, or answers to questions through a variety of channels. While some issues require the assistance of an agent, others can be resolved by the customer without agent involvement if the customer is empowered to do so. Providing self-service tools and content is the first step in empowering customers.

Dan Gingiss: There are many ways to empower customers, including, one, developing a robust self-help knowledge base on your website or mobile application, two, creating an intuitive IVR menu or interactive voice response menu to allow customers to direct themselves to the proper support channels, three, offering self-service portals to enable customers to complete specific tasks such as updating account information or accessing key information securely, four, maintaining a chatbot on your website or app to guide customers to the resolutions they seek, and five, the ability to easily escalate to assisted service at any point.

Joey Coleman: There’s a giant percentage of your customers that actually would like to solve the problem themselves. One of the things we talk about in customer experience all the time is, “Oh, you need to be responsive to the customer. You need to take into consideration their wants and needs. You have to have your call center agents ready to talk to them.” And it’s like, yeah, but if we actually rewind to the beginning of that, where we say we need to be responsive to their wants, often their want is not to talk to a human being, to be able to solve it themselves, to be able to read the documentation, to be able to have a self-healing device, to be able to sort it out on their own by navigating through a series of prompts or fix it tools. So don’t just presume that in order for it to be a great customer experience, there has to be a human involved. Often empowering the customer to solve this problem themselves or find the answer themselves is the way to actually make them feel the best.

Dan Gingiss: Couldn’t agree more, my buddy. And now, for this week’s question about empowering customers, do we offer customers the tools and access they need to confidently resolve issues themselves? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with AV techs at experienceconversations.com, that’s experienceconversations.com

[Dissecting the Experience] Communicate Internally to Provide a Better Experience

Joey Coleman: It’s shocking how often people use 38 words to describe something when two would do the trick. We’re looking at you lawyers and accountants, words matter. And there is no excuse for trying to hide what you mean. We explore words and messaging in this next iteration of say what! Dan, does your bank send you any promotional offers in the mail?

Dan Gingiss: Sometimes I think the only thing I get in the mail are credit card offers.

Joey Coleman: I hear you, but do they come from your bank specifically? So there’s the difference of the credit card offers you get from like all their credit card companies, but then there’s the ones you specifically get from your bank. Do you get any of those?

Dan Gingiss: Not really, no. They already know me, and I have a lot of accounts with them and so they leave me alone.

Joey Coleman: Wow, interesting how that works. I’ll note what Dan said. They already know me. I already have accounts with them. I ask because my bank, which for context I’ve been with since 2003 that 16 years for those of you scoring along at home…

Dan Gingiss: Hold on, carry the one. Yep, he’s right guys, 16 years.

Joey Coleman: 16 years. My bank has been sending me two personal credit card solicitations and two business card solicitations every month for at least the last 10 years. Now, I never opened them. Well, I think I did maybe the first month. I never opened them, I never reply, I’m never going to get a credit card with my bank. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why no one at the bank has figured this out.

Dan Gingiss: Well, this is actually an issue that I have some familiarity with because as our listeners know, I worked at a credit card company for almost 10 years. And while I agree with you that this is a pretty weird situation in the sense that you’ve clearly made the statement with your inaction…

Joey Coleman: That would be once a month for a decade. For those of you again scoring at home, I know we don’t usually have math on the Experience This! show. That’s 128 rejections per offer. Mind you, I’m getting four offers per month. So 120 times 4, carry the 1, that’s 480 times that they have sent me an offer that I haven’t replied to.

Dan Gingiss: That’s many, many times. And the best that I can guess without defending them is that you are part of the larger group of people being mailed this offer. And at the end of every campaign, they take a look at the campaign as a whole, and they say, “Well, was it worth it for us to mail this out 10,000 times? Well, we got X hundred people to respond, and so our costs per account or CPA is at a level that is okay. And so great, this was a successful campaign. Let’s try it again next month.”

Now, that’s not great marketing because of course if we were doing better, we would dig into the data a little bit, and we would see, “Wow, there’s this guy, Joey, that we’ve mailed 480 times and he hasn’t said yes yet. So the chances of the investment being worth it to mail him the 481st time is not really high. He probably knows we’re here if he ever needs us and wants to be proactive about it.” So if I were there, I would be digging into the data a little bit harder to eliminate what I’m guessing is a sizeable pocket of that campaign that is never going to respond. And what they’ll find is by mailing fewer people and getting the same responses, the response rate goes up and their costs per account goes down.

Joey Coleman: Yeah. I just I can’t fathom this. Something you said, Dan, really resonated with me when you said the bank they would be thinking, “Well, he knows we’re here.” Here’s the crazy thing. I have the bank’s mobile app, I receive a statement in the mail every month, I occasionally go into my branch to do something weird like send a wire or whatever it may be. There have been dozens, if not hundreds of opportunities for them to ask me, “Do you think you’re ever going to get a credit card from us?” Like I would actually appreciate that. I would appreciate the straightforwardness, the honesty, the just kind of directness of, “Look, we’ve been sending you a lot of mail. Do you even open that mail? Because it seems like you might not even open it and maybe you’d be excited to help save some trees by have us not sending you that mail.” If they actually said that, I would happily opt out of any of the offers.

Now, before anybody who’s listening says, “Well, Joey, I imagine you could go in and opt out of their marketing and promotional messages.” You’re right, I could. And I know this is the wrong answer, and I know environmentalists everywhere are infuriated by this type of answer, and I’m irritated at myself for giving this answer. But if you’re not going to make it easy for me, I’m probably not going to take time out of my day to figure it out. And I would actually love it if my bank would make it easy for me because not only would I take them up on the offer and feel better about myself and be able to contribute to a better environment, but I would say, “Huh, they know me, I know them, but they know me and they’re okay with the fact that I’m not going to get a credit card.”

Dan Gingiss: Well, first, I want to give you a suggestion. This is a free pro tip you.

Joey Coleman: Oh, pro tip from a man who used to work in the biz.

Dan Gingiss: I want you to take for the next year or so, I want you to take all the mailings and just throw them in a shoebox, just collect them. And then I want you to take one of the mailings with the self-addressed stamped envelope that comes… when it comes through them, you’re supposed to mail it back. And I want you to paste that on top of the shoebox, and I want you to ship all of their unopened letters back to them at their postal expense. And I think that will probably get their attention and my guess is they’ll stop mailing you.

Joey Coleman: Ooh, I like it, I like it.

Dan Gingiss: But in lieu of that, I do want to explain I think why you’re not getting the experience that you want when you walk into the branch or when you engage with them in other ways, and it’s unfortunately because companies of the size of your bank… and by the way, we are intentionally not naming the bank because we tend to tell positive stories on this show and applaud brands that are doing things well, and the ones that aren’t, we don’t really need to pile on to negativity. But instead, we try to use our show to explain how we might do it differently and help companies learn from it. So the name of the bank doesn’t really matter. But what I will tell you is the size of your bank is one that is internally an incredibly siloed organization.

And so the reality is the manager of your bank branch has absolutely nothing to do with the credit card department, nothing at all. In fact, he or she probably cannot access anything related to your credit card and certainly not related to the marketing of your credit card offers. So it’s just a different part of the company. Now, as consumers, we say, “But it’s my bank, and I look at it as a single company.” Unfortunately, many banks and many large companies are so siloed, which of course creates siloed experiences, which you’re talking about today.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, so here’s the thing. Let me say a few words about silos. And I appreciate that observation, Dan. And I think you’re absolutely right. It’s also why you and I and all of the amazing customer experience professionals listening to the show will never go hungry because so many businesses are siloed and completely disjointed. And even though we all know that is consumers, we see it’s the bank. That’s who I’m doing business with. I don’t care that you have 738 departments that all have independent relationships with me. When I talked to you, I want all of you to know that I’m talking to you. So that makes perfect sense. But let me say a word about silos. So I grew up in Iowa. Iowa is known for those of you that are not from the United States, or maybe you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Heartland, it is known for farms. And one of the things you will find on pretty much every grain farm in Iowa…

Dan Gingiss: Can I guess?

Joey Coleman: Yes.

Dan Gingiss: A silo?

Joey Coleman: It’s a silo, and silos are absolutely incredible on the farm. They are very useful. They keep the grain ready until it’s time to take it to market. You know where silos aren’t useful? In your organization. It’s not a good choice to have silos, and yet we use this as an excuse, as a justification for why we can’t make the experience better. Please, please consider sending this segment to your boss’s boss and saying, “We have silos in our organization that are costing our business money, not relationship, not reputation, money.” Because, Dan, as somebody who was in this business, what do you think ballpark, they’ve spent sending me over the last 10 years credit card offers? Like just spitball a number. You know how much these things cost.

Dan Gingiss: I would say Just you alone, it’s probably now north of $1,000.

Joey Coleman: $1,000 in marketing.

Dan Gingiss: And your lifetime value to them if you were to become a card member tomorrow is probably not $1,000.

Joey Coleman: There you go. So, folks, this isn’t a do-right because it’s the right thing to do conversation. It is, but it doesn’t have to be just that. This can be a conversation about, do the right thing for the bottom line, do the right thing for the environment, do the right thing and break down the silos. So what can we learn from the credit card mailer debacle that has been happening with my bank? It’s pretty straight forward. Pay attention to your customers. I both understand and appreciate that your marketing department wants to continue to upsell new products and new services, especially to your long-term customers. But after 10 years of me not responding, enough is enough. Take stock of your promotional messages. And to paraphrase the 2009 drama, recognize that your customer’s just not into you and that new credit card offer.

Dan Gingiss: Wow, thanks for joining us for another episode of Experience this! 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 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 81: Using Surprise and Delight to Transform the Customer Experience

Join us as we discuss the evolving role of the chief experience officer, a charity’s efforts to overhaul the donor experience, and a Thanksgiving treat for one bank’s customers.

Bandwidth, Barriers, and… Banksgiving? – Oh My!

[Dissecting The Experience] Discover the Critical Importance of a Chief Experience Officer in Your Company

Every company should have someone on the team who is primarily focused on the experience of the customers. Many companies have been slow to adopt this type of specific responsibility. A customer has two fundamental needs: a functional need, and an emotional need. Companies often take care of the fundamentals, but are hesitant to invest in the emotions of their customers. Kurt Schroeder, the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) for Avtex, spends all day focused on the Avtex client experience. The CXO is a newer c-suite role that is actively developing. A CXO is primarily focused on how to continue to improve and deliver a better experience for customers.

A Chief Experience Officer oversees every interaction, which may sound like a CEO position. The differentiator is that the CEO has to focus on many areas, whereas the CXO is solely focused on the customer experience alone.

So, what do I do when I get here in the morning? I think about, “What are the areas of our organization and the experience that we’re rendering to our customers, that we really need to improve and make better and create differentiation in the market?”

Kurt Schroeder, Chief Experience Office (CXO) of Avtex

Every product can be replicated. Price can only win clients for so long. Without the differentiation of customer experience, you will not stand apart from the competition. If you don’t have a Chief Experience Officer, you should strongly consider getting one as it’s crucial to have a least one member of your team who wakes up thinking about ways to improve the customer experience.

[Dissecting the Experience] Learn About How One Amazing Organization has Provided Millions with Clean Water

Our typical podcast focuses on the customer’s experience, but today we dissect a donor experience with an amazing organization called Charity: Water. Charity: Water’s Mission is bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. What sets the experience apart is that the founder of Charity: Water set out to create an organization that would overcome any trust barriers that donors typically have. One hundred percent of donations go towards their mission while private donations cover the company’s overhead cost.

I asked people what their objections were and we created a business model that would speak to those objections.

Scott Harrison, Founder of Charity: Water

Many people are skeptical of where their money is going when they make a donation to a charity. Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity: Water removed that barrier to trust. He also partnered with Google so that donors could actually see the wells they were contributing to build! Charity: Water designed an innovative way to raise funds for wells – by asking people to consider “giving up their birthday” and asking for donations in lieu of presents. This allows people to raise both public awareness and much needed funds for a great cause! By making the experience personal through stories and videos, and the incorporating videos of the actual wells that donors helped build, Charity: Water brings clean water to more than eight million people.

When you listen to your customers’ objections and build a business model that alleviates their fears, they will happily support you. While we’re at it, consider making a donation to Charity: Water today!

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: The Actual Cost of Poor Customer Experiences

It’s common knowledge that a poor customer experience is costly. Not only does it cost you the customer, but it has many additional ramifications. A poor experience can lead to a damaged reputation, unhappy employees and staffing challenges, and the inability to effectively launch new products. These may actually be more costly than the original loss of the customer’s purchase or business.

If you want to fully comprehend the impact of poor customer experiences, you should pay careful attention to:

  1. Online reviews
  2. Customer retention rates and Repeat purchase trends
  3. Social media conversations

One of the best things you can do in the time of a crisis, is to come out and confront it. People want information. Pay attention to the reviews and the conversations, and answer your customer’s concerns as quickly as you can.

Start the conversation with this question: How much are poor customer experiences impacting our bottom line?

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

[Dissecting the Experience] When Surprise and Delight Creates Happier Employees and Happier Customers

What would happen to the customer experience if the company truly followed through on answering your needs completely? We saved this article for this episode for good reason! Most banks end their customer service call with a simple question: Is there anything else we can do for you today? One bank, Ally, decided to answer that question for their customers. Wishes small, like cleaning up the yard, to wishes large, like a flight to Europe, were answered! In Ally Banksgiving: When a Simple Call to Your Bank Turns Into a Big Surprise, we see clients calling in for basic customer service needs and walking out with so much more!

I think when you’re able to do good things for both sides , they both end up winning. When you empower agents that are able and allowed to help customers, and in this particular case, really provide a surprise and delight moment, it makes their job more fun. This makes them happier, and makes them appear happier to customers.

Dan Gingiss, co-host of ExperienceThis! Show podcast

By empowering the employees, the company gave them the ability to surprise and delight the clients. The clients, so overwhelmed by the bank’s generosity, spread the story through nontraditional methods, like social media. Banks aren’t known for this behavior, so it set Ally apart from the competition.

We know that not every company has a budget to do something like this, but you can still surprise and delight your customers in meaningful ways without breaking the bank.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all of our North American listeners!

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 81 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 the evolving role of the chief experience officer, a charity’s attempt at overhauling the donor experience and a Thanksgiving treat for one bank’s customers.

Joey Coleman: Bandwidth, barriers and Banksgiving? Oh, my. 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.

DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE — The Role of the CXO

Dan Gingiss: Well, hey. We’ve got another Experience This Live and we’re super excited, because this is the first time that Joey and I are doing an Experience This Live together. In fact, we are bringing in a third party to have a fireside chat. You see, we have located, in the wild, a real-life chief experience officer. So, we’re going to talk about this new C-suite-level role of a chief experience officer, a CXO. We’re going to learn all about it in this segment. So, we’re super excited to have Kurt Schroeder talk with us. He is the chief experience officer for Avtex Solutions, which, as you know, as loyal listeners, has been our great partner this season on the podcast.

Joey Coleman: Loving Avtex.

Dan Gingiss: What’s going on, Kurt?

Kurt Schroeder: Hey man, am I happy to be with you guys today. This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I’m looking forward to the conversation.

Dan Gingiss: When you said, “Dan, we’ve invited in a third party.” I was thinking to myself, “It’s kind of always a party when you or I are in a conversation.” Folks, just so that you know, we had a couple of conversations with Kurt in advance of our hitting record, not only today but in previous days. Kurt’s a really fascinating guy with a unique perspective on this. As you know, loyal listeners, we don’t have interview guests. That’s not how we do things and that’s not what you’re listening to right now.

What we do try to do, is find interesting experiences and interesting perspectives, to bring them to you. We could have, let’s be candid, found a lot of different people that play a function of a CXO or a chief experience officer, but what we were excited to talk to Kurt about, is his unique perspective, not only in Avtex, right? Because they do a lot around the customer experience function with their clients, but just his role and how he sees the landscape, now and in the future. So, super excited for us to be having this conversation.

Joey Coleman: So, tell me, let’s just start with like what does a CX do? What do you do when you get to work every day, Kurt?

Kurt Schroeder: Yeah, that’s a good question and sometimes, I wonder about that myself. So, I think the primary goal of the CXO role, at least as I portray it, is, I wake up every morning and I think about, “How do we continually improve and deliver a better experience for our customers?” So, why is that even important? I’m a firm believer that we live in a world that is, that everything is about the experience. We live in the experience economy, Joseph Pine wrote about that several years ago in his book, called The Experience Economy.

So, what that means is, products are largely undifferentiated. There’s the time to market, to replicate and make something better and newer and faster and more attractive. That time has shrunk down to weeks, maybe months at the most. So, what makes the difference? It’s the experience that the customer has with you. So, if you don’t have someone who is thinking about that, day-in, day-out, at night, when they’re waking, when they’re sleeping, when they’re eating, then I think you’re lagging behind. You’re missing a great opportunity. So, what do I do when I get here in the morning? I think about, “What are the areas of our organization and the experience that we’re rendering to our customers, that we really need to improve and make better and create differentiation in the market?”

Dan Gingiss: I love that, because we often say on this show, the customer experience is the last true differentiator and that, as you say, competing on product is really tough, because everything can be copied. I mean, the example I love to give is, Uber completely transformed an industry and then got copied by Lyft, right? And so, everything, even brand new technology can be copied. I always say that competing on price is a loser’s game, because you just ask the local gas station with the competing gas station across the street, that you can only compete on price for so long before everybody loses. So, what’s left is the experience. So, then, what I’m thinking about is, what’s the difference then, between the chief experience officer and a CEO? I mean, you would think that you would oversee every part of the company, because as we know, customer experience is really every interaction that a customer has with you.

Kurt Schroeder: Yeah. By the way, you do not want me messing around in finance, I’ll just skip that 

Joey Coleman: Oh, so I see your street cred, Kurt, as a customer experience person was just thrown down right there. “Don’t let me look at the spreadsheets. I don’t want to do the finance.”

Kurt Schroeder: Yeah, so I think the biggest difference is just that. That is, a CEO has to be in-tune and equipped to deal with so many facets of the business. So, when push comes to shove, the CEO is going to have a focus in maybe a handful of areas. You need someone who is dedicated solely to what the customer experience looks like. Does the CEO care about that? Absolutely, and they should, but their mind is divided across so many challenges and opportunities and they need to make those decisions. You really need someone solely focused on the experience and bubbling up opportunities to improve the experience that the CEO then can make strategic decisions about.

Joey Coleman: Guys, I have a question that I think would be fun for us to riff on. I mean, you mentioned the book The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. Interestingly enough, that book celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

Kurt Schroeder: I know. That’s crazy, isn’t it?

Joey Coleman: Right? It’s shocking when you think about that, 20 years later. I mean, it will be legal next year. It’s very exciting for The Experience Economy, but what I find myself wondering is, “Why is it that so many businesses don’t have a chief experience officer?” I feel like, for the three of us and for many of our loyal listeners, we’ve already bought full-in to this concept. We understand that every organization should have someone who, as you said, and I think it’s funny, this is not at all scripted, ladies and gentlemen, but when you started out, Kurt, you said, “I wake up everyday, thinking about, ‘How do we continually improve and deliver the experience to our customers?'” That’s what we wish every employee thought, but let’s be candid; we know they don’t, but having someone in the organization that that is their primary thought, we know that all the research points to how successful that makes us. Why do you think so many companies have been slow to adopt that?

Kurt Schroeder: Well, I think there is a gap between what the research shows and what we’re practically able to believe. Here’s what I mean by that; customer experience is still kind of this squishy concept. I mean, look at when we talk to our clients about how to improve the experience, we talk about two fundamental needs that a customer has, regardless of whether it’s B to C or B to B, but two fundamental needs that a customer has in an interaction or an experience, which is they have a functional need, “What am I trying to achieve?” But, they also have an emotional need, “How do I need to feel through this?”

Well, look, I don’t want to talk about my feelings, and so, as soon as we start taking a business down the path of talking about how our customers feel, “How do they perceive us?” That is just starting to get way too squishy. So, I think we have organizations who retreat on that and are not willing to make the investment in the role, in order to really drive that and permeate it throughout the organization. So, I still think there’s a little bit of a gap between what the research shows, which is great. We know it proves it out, we know there’s financial viability in investing in customer experience, but there’s still a gap between, I call it the the the 12 inches between the heart and the mind. “In my heart, I know this is true, but in my mind I still can’t commit myself to make that investment.”

Dan Gingiss: Oh yeah, I think another aspect to this, Kurt, and it’s funny, because I actually just wrote a blog post for [inaudible 00:09:48] about this very topic, is that some companies, instead of having a CXO, are putting customer experience underneath marketing. So, you have a CMO or chief marketing officer that is also in charge of experience. I make the point in the article that I think either model can work, as long as, as Kurt says, that you have somebody with whom the buck stops, so that the experience has to land somewhere. The challenge, with it being under a marketing person, is that that person may or may not be trained in customer experience, because they may be classically trained as a marketer, right?

Having been a marketer for 20 years, there’s a ton of overlap between marketing and experience, but let’s face it, marketers are often most focused on acquiring new customers, or helping sales acquire new customers. I think that the CXO has to really turn inward and say, “All right, we’ve got all these existing customers, how do we keep them happy, keep them loyal, fix the leaky bucket that we know we have on the back end with customers leaving?” Again, being focused on that every day.

Kurt Schroeder: Yeah, I mean, it’s a good observation. When we talk to clients and even when we look at ourselves internally, when someone says, “Well, what’s the purpose of rendering a customer experience?” And I said, “Well, it’s real simple. It should cover the landscape of, ‘Find more, win more, keep more and do more customers.'” So, as we think about the entirety of the journey that a customer has with you, it’s really along those four key things that you want as measurable outputs. Or, as the customer, are you are you winning your fair share? The customer experience that is rendered during the sales experience is very, very important.

We talked about the erosion, the loser’s game on price. You know what? If you’re not providing a differentiated experience from the beginning, then price is going to be the only decision-maker. So, we kind of look at those four areas and so, to your point about where it resides, who has purview, who has knowledge, who has oversight in those four areas that can really drive an impact to the business? Many times, in addition to marketing, we see the CX role really incubating out of customer service as well. So, I think between marketing and customer service, that’s where we see it really residing in most organizations, if it hasn’t been already elevated to a C-suite position.

Joey Coleman: Well, I think you bring up an excellent point, Kurt. I don’t want to turn our Experience This Live segment into an agree-to-disagree between Dan and I, but there are two things that I think are at play here. One of the challenges I personally have with having the chief experience officer or whoever’s in charge of experience report to the head of marketing or the head of customer service or the head of sales, is, to me, we can only be responsible for so many things. When the head of marketing or the head of sales, or even the head of customer service goes into a board meeting or a C-suite meeting with the other executives that are responsible for the different functionalities of the business, I think it’s going to be very difficult to champion marketing and customer experience in the same conversation, because there are times when those two things are in conflict. That’s just the reality.

So, I think having someone who’s solely responsible for that is really key, but, as a segue to why I think it hasn’t adopted thus far, is it’s adding another person to the C-suite. In many ways, to your point, Kurt, this person has at least involvement, if not oversight over sales, over marketing, over operations, over ongoing retention. We can see where it can get involved with things like compliance or finance. I mean, there are multiple aspects of the business that it touches and my gut instinct, I could be wrong, is that many organizations aren’t looking to have another vote at the table, right?

They already feel, when they go into their C-suite meetings that, “Oh, well, I’m in marketing and I’m constantly battling sales for attention or dollars. Or, “The blame is always being cast from customer service back onto marketing and I don’t want to have someone else that can kind of accuse me of not taking care of the customer or not doing my job or my spend or my allocation of resources properly.” So, I think there’s almost like a human condition, philosophical conversation here. If everyone feels like they’re responsible for customer experience, which I imagine, the three of us would agree that everyone plays a role, but if everyone feels like they’re responsible for it, lots of times, it means no one’s actually responsible for it.

Kurt Schroeder: I agree with that, and I think the other caveat that I would make onto that, it also depends on the organization’s DNA and how they grew up. Other words, if it’s an organization that was extremely product-centric from the beginning, then I’m not going to have a C position sitting at the table, because that’s not what we’re known for. So, it takes time. It takes some external disruption to really cause them to think about, “What do we want to be known for in the future and how does customer experience come into play?” The organizations that we see putting a C-level position in charge of customer experience are the organizations who have made the decision, or who have had the original DNA of the organization, based on a customer experience value proposition. They see the importance of it. So, it depends also a little bit on, what is the DNA of the organization? And whether they value that role sitting at the big table.

Dan Gingiss: Well, yeah, and speaking of the DNA, I think one of the things I wanted to chat about, is this idea that the CXO having this purview, this oversight of the entire customer journey, it seems like the role might be put in an uncomfortable position, quite often, of having to tell other people within the organization that their experienced sucks, right? Or that something’s wrong with it, or that we need to fix something. I’m wondering, especially as this role has continued to evolve over time, what’s the best way for it to interact with the rest of the company, so that you don’t have everybody else, I don’t know, worried when the CXO calls them, because it must mean that they’re doing something wrong?

Kurt Schroeder: Yeah, “I’m from the IRS. I’m here to help.”

Dan Gingiss: Exactly.

Joey Coleman: That’s so true. So true.

Kurt Schroeder: We don’t want to create that model. So, what I’ve seen is two models that I think most organizations play into. Bear with the analogy here. So, in a previous life, in a distant galaxy a long, long time ago, I worked for this organization called GE-

Joey Coleman: You folks might have heard of that organization. Yeah, well, once or somewhere along the road, I might’ve heard of them.

Kurt Schroeder: So, I’m a recovering Six Sigma Black Belt. So, I go to meetings and-

Dan Gingiss: Joey’s a recovering lawyer, so this is great.

Joey Coleman: I am, I am. Kurt, first step is admitting you have a problem, I like it.

Kurt Schroeder: That’s exactly right. So, let’s not quit the conversation because I’m bringing Six Sigma into this, but organizations that really adopted Six Sigma strongly, what they did is, they said, “Look, we’re going to have a set of black belts. Everyone is going to be a green belt. Other thing, Six Sigma’s going to be a competency within our organization.” Then, they usually had a senior level position, sometimes at the C-suite as a chief quality officer, who then would permeate that competency in the organization. So, it became a part of the DNA that just said, “Look, this is how we do our process improvement projects and how we continually improve and create efficiency in the organization.”

What I’m suggesting is, that’s not a bad model, as we think about CX. I think, as an example, journey mapping should be a core competency within every function in the organization. If you touch the customer or you’re supporting someone that touches the customer, you should really understand how to do a journey map, what are the inputs to that, because it helps create empathy and empathy is so important in moving towards designing a better future state, a better experience. So, the organizations that we see that are really doing well are looking at this as a core competency, not a function.

They’re looking at the role of the CXO to drive that competency throughout the organization. So, instead of getting the call from the CX person and then, “Well, we want to talk to you about the experience you’re providing.” It actually becomes more permeated through the organization, becomes embedded into their DNA and how they view working with the customer and providing the experience.

Joey Coleman: I feel like that scene from Jerry Maguire. Kurt, you had me at empathy. I totally agree and I love that idea of journey mapping being a core competency, so true. Well, as we had a feeling, leading into this conversation, the three of us could talk for hours and hours about this, but to me, the big takeaway is, if you don’t have a chief experience officer in your organization, you need to get one. You need to have someone who, like Kurt Schroeder, our chief experience officer at Avtex Solution and our guest for our fireside chat conversation today, you need to have somebody who wakes up in the morning and thinks about, “How do we continually improve and deliver the experience for our customers? How do we find more customers, win more customers, keep more customers and do more for those customers?” Think about the experience, every step of the way. Kurt, thanks so much for joining us for the conversation and being part of the Experience This Live.

Kurt Schroeder: Thank you. It was a pleasure being here.

DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE: Charity: Water

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: Usually, when we talk about dissecting the experience, it’s a customer experience that we’re referring to. This segment’s going to be a little different, because we’re going to talk about a major nonprofit and the incredible donor experience it provides its supporters. charity: water ‘s mission is to provide fresh, clean drinking water to rural communities throughout the world, that previously did not have access to it. charity: water ‘s founder, the amazing Scott Harrison, not only recognizes this as a critical health and economic crisis, he also set out to literally change how charities work.

Joey Coleman: This is such a great story, Dan. You and I, I know, have been involved in many nonprofits over the years and I know we’ve also both heard Scott speak and we’ve both also specifically contributed to charity: water in the past. As I recall, someone did a little something with charity: water for their birthday this past year, do you remember?

Dan Gingiss: I did and I was proud to raise almost $1,800 for this wonderful organization, but let’s come back to that. Scott Harrison recognized that people generally don’t trust charities, so he did two huge things to combat that. First, he said, and I’m quoting, “I asked people what their objections were and we created a business model that would speak to those objections.” Unquote. Talk about leveraging the voice of the customer. That led to the second piece, which was his goal to ensure that 100% of all donations would go toward building wells throughout the world to provide fresh water. How did he end up covering his overhead? By ingeniously asking wealthy benefactors and celebrities to pay to support the business. He literally set up two bank accounts, one to cover operational expenses and the other to build the wells.

Joey Coleman: This is absolutely brilliant. It removes the trust barrier almost entirely, because people really worry about where their money is going, when they’re donating to nonprofits and charity causes and whether it will actually be spent on the initiative that they think they’re donating towards, as opposed to all the administrative fees. But, Scott didn’t stop there. He went on to partner with Google to display all of the wells that charity: water has built on an interactive map, so that donors can continuously track their water output. His team is also amazing at marketing and tying all of these things together.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, and that’s where I wanted to come back to my birthday. So, charity: water does an amazing job of storytelling, so donors can actually see the impact of their donations. Regular emails detail success stories from around the world. Videos show some of the poorest communities in the world literally seeing fresh water for the first time in their lives and bursting into tears of joy. The videos can be quite emotional, but the organization also came up with the idea of having people donate their birthdays to provide water. That’s exactly what I did last year. I asked my friends and family to donate to charity: water in lieu of getting me a gift for my birthday. 35 people stepped up to donate almost $1,800. Thousands of people aged five to 95 have done this, with some raising only a few dollars and others raising into the six figures.

Joey Coleman: All told, charity: water has raised more than $300 million, thanks to the generosity of more than a million people around the world. This has allowed them to bring clean drinking water to more than 29,000 villages serving more than 8.4 million people. I mean, folks, this is massive scale, but something I’d like to riff on briefly about my experience donating to Dan’s birthday. This was several months ago, and about two weeks ago, I received an email from charity: water saying that the funds had been deployed to the field. Now, the ironic thing, and please don’t take this wrong, Dan, I had donated to a number of causes over the last year. When I first got the email, I was like, “Wait a second, when did I donate to charity: water? Oh, I donated for Dan’s birthday.”

So, it kind of had a double hit, in the sense that it made me feel positive about my donation to charity: water and they said, “Look, here’s where we’re building the wells.” I was able to see exactly the progress they’re making, but it also made me remember my good friend Dan Gingiss and think positively about his birthday. Now, usually, in our very busy lives, the only time we think about somebody’s birthday is right around their birthday, either the day of their birthday or, if it’s somebody who’s really close to you, maybe the week or two weeks before. I thought this was really cool, that it brought me back into connection with my friend and that that reminder was made by the nonprofit that I’d supported.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I think that’s great and that’s part of what makes them so good at marketing. I mean, one of the objections that Scott heard from people, in terms of why they didn’t donate to charity, had to do with them not believing that their money actually went to a worthy cause. That people believe that it goes to the overhead or it pays giant salaries of the CEOs, et cetera. So, he’s made it a special mission to make sure that donors get to follow along and see their impact. Not just the impact around the world, but often, depending on what project you donate to, the impact of a specific community that your money has supported. So, I know, Joey, you got an email and I got an email recently about one community in Africa and there’s a story, there’s videos, there’s statistics about the amount of water that’s being pumped. It really gives you this feeling that the money you contributed made a difference. I think that is is absolutely huge.

Joey Coleman: It also doesn’t feel like the typical nonprofit output report. So often, when I’ve been involved in nonprofits in the past, when they share how your dollars have gone to work, what it ends up being is something that, it just reads really dry. It doesn’t read as being nearly as compelling as the ask was. As we mentioned earlier, charity: water’s team is filled with some brilliant marketers and they have a great design aesthetic. So, when I got this email, I remember very specifically stopping and reading the email and clicking through to the links to watch the video and being reminded that, “Oh, this was a small contribution on my part, that is having an enormous impact on the other side of the world, with this village that now has a well that previously had no access to clean drinking water.”

Dan Gingiss: So, you may be asking, “What does this have to do with my business?” I think the applicable takeaway here is to listen to your potential customer base, ask them what they like and don’t like, so you can, as Scott said, build a business model based on those objections. Then, keep communicating with customers, to let them know about their or your progress. This could be on a project that you’re working on together, if it’s a B2B arrangement or the status of their order, if you are a retailer. Please, if you are able, consider going to charitywater.org and supporting this incredibly worthy cause.

START THE CONVERSATION

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; the actual cost of poor customer experiences. It’s common knowledge that poor customer experiences can cost businesses financially, both in terms of lost customers and prospects, as well as in the loss of repeat transactions. Poor customer experiences can cost a business far beyond the dollars and cents however. They can also lead to a damaged reputation, unhappy employees and staffing challenges, and the inability to effectively launch new products. Certainly, the monetary costs of poor experiences is a driving force for many leaders, but these other factors are just as important, as they can lead to a cascading financial impact.

Joey Coleman: In order to gauge the impact of poor customer experiences, organizations need to pay attention to online reviews, customer retention rates, repeat purchase trends and social media conversations.

Dan Gingiss: I would add to that, that they need to pay attention to the news media and the coverage thereof, and also the importance of responding in a crisis. I’ve written about this quite a bit, that when a crisis is happening, one of the things that people are seeking the most is information. They want their fears to be relieved, they want to understand that you have the situation under control. Too often, companies in the middle of a crisis burrow themselves in their office and hide out, hoping the crisis goes away, rather than coming out in public and confronting it, which I think is a really big mistake.

Joey Coleman: Now, for this week’s question about the actual cost of poor customer experiences. How much are poor customer experiences impacting our bottom line? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with Avtex, at experienceconversations.com. That’s the website experienceconversations.com … 

DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE: “Banksgiving”

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 found this amazing story about Ally Bank that is almost a year old, but I purposely waited to share it in this episode. Nearly every customer service call ends with the same question, or some variation. “Is there anything else I can do to help you today?” Ally decided to find out what would happen if they actually granted whatever requests the customer said next, after that question. According to a story on its website, Ally says that, and I quote, “On a day we dubbed Banksgiving, we gave thanks to our customers by fully delivering on that basic question and surprising unsuspecting customers with whatever they needed.” Unquote. Now, do you see why I waited until this episode?

Joey Coleman: Uh-huh (affirmative) very sneaky, Dan, because it ’tis the season for giving thanks. I heard about this story too and I agreed that it is absolutely awesome. So, on Banksgiving, customer service agents surprised unsuspecting customers who had called in, by asking that standard question and then actually fulfilling the results. There were simple needs, like help with fall yard cleanup and a holiday visit to see the family and larger requests that could touch the lives of many, many people. They granted wishes big and small, from $25 gift cards to $55,000 to help a customer who helps others.

Dan Gingiss: There’s a terrific video that Ally put together that we will share in the show notes, at www.experiencethisshow.com, but I think this story is really great for two reasons. It’s a great example of a true surprise and delight moment for Ally’s customers, it’s also, though, a fun and empowering activity for Ally’s customer service agents. I think that when you’re able to do good things for both sides of the equation, both sides end up winning. When you have empowered agents that are able and allowed to help customers, and in this particular case, really provide a surprise and delight moment, it makes their job more fun, which makes them happier and makes them appear happier to customers. Of course, the customers got a real surprise, because they answered a question that is usually a rhetorical question, and in this particular case, it turned out to be real.

Joey Coleman: You know, Dan, when I was a kid, one of the lessons that I remember my dad really trying to instill in us, was that you need to remember that people love helping other people. That it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to ask for things. That’s what came up for me when we were talking about this story. I remember years ago, it used to be when you flew, you went to the airport, they printed out your ticket and they assigned your seat when you were checking in your luggage. There weren’t apps, you didn’t log in online. I realize I’m dating myself here a little, folks, but one of the things I adopted early on when I was traveling a lot is, when they asked me whether I would want a window seat or an aisle seat, I would always say, “I’d love an aisle seat in first class, if it’s available.”

The agent would kind of look up, realize what I had just asked, because it caught them off guard, I’m on a coach ticket, I’m asking for a first class seat. I kid you not, 80% of the time, they would smile and print out the first class seat. Now, that wouldn’t happen today, most likely, but the point I’m making is, when we give our employees the opportunity to exercise their own discretion for what type of things they reward and when they reward them, that’s how you create a culture of customer experience.

I also love the fact that in this story, Ally Bank, I mean, let’s be candid, banks aren’t notorious for giving away money. They’re not notorious for giving away prizes, or if they do, they’re usually, “Hey, everybody who opens a checking account gets a free toaster.” You know? It’s a kind of standard for everyone, as opposed to personalized. As we’ve talked about before, the personalization of the gift turns it into a surprise and delight moment that the customer will talk about. I know the customers that received these type of gifts from Ally Bank talked about it on social media. They talked about it in irregular media, this actually became a story because of the generosity of the bank.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, I think there’s also a learning on the other side, which is for the customer. I’m going to quote my dad here, who loves to say, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” I think that’s sort of the summary of the story with you and the first class tickets. In this particular case, what I think is so interesting, is that the customers actually did have to ask for something. I mean, most of the time, when someone says, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” It’s like, “No thanks. Have a great day.” Somehow, they elicited from customers, “No, really, is there anything else I can do for you today?” My guess is that this one guy said, “Well, I could really use $55,000, to help the soup kitchen that I run.” Then, the agent says, “Okay, done.” The guy had to have fallen out of his chair.

Joey Coleman: Right, right. Well, and probably didn’t believe it in the beginning. Was like, “Yeah, yeah. Right, sure.” Almost, the trust would run the other way then, right? Because the perception is, “Well, if you say you’re going to do it, are you really going to do it?” And then, when they did, I imagine it was magical.

Dan Gingiss: Yes, but this whole idea of, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for.” Is important, because sometimes, when you do find an employee of a company who is empowered and who is sort of willing to play ball with you, you can get a lot, as long as you’re willing to ask for it. Some people are too sheepish to even ask for it.

Joey Coleman: I also love that we’ve now had the chance to reference both of our dads and the things they used to say when we were growing up.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly.

Joey Coleman: So, good job, dads.

Dan Gingiss: Thank you, dads. Yep. So, the takeaway here is that not every company has the budget to do something like this, but you can still surprise and delight your customers or clients in meaningful ways, without breaking the bank. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our North American listeners, we give thanks for you.

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. 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 79: Customers Like to Share Their Remarkable Experiences

Join us as we discuss: A plethora of positive customer experience stories, a debate about all of those subscription boxes, and a man who creates music on the fly.

Sharing, Shaving, and Singing – Oh My!

[Listener Stories] Positive Experiences Get Shared More than Negative Experiences

When was the last time you had a remarkable experience? According to our friends at the Sitel Group, 30% of people will share when they have a negative customer experience. But, statistics show that nearly 50% of consumers will speak about a positive experience! Dan wanted to test these percentages, so he asked his Facebook friends to share a remarkable customer experience.

From OtterBox replacing cases with no questions asked, to Wegmans Food Markets calling to let a customer know that an item purchased weeks ago was recalled, the stories poured in. In each shared example, companies went above and beyond to make things right for their customers – without asking questions.

When our customers don’t even have to ask for our help and we acknowledge that something might have gone wrong, that’s how you create a customer for life. That’s how you create the kind of connection and interaction that will not only keep that customer loyal, but they will want to tell that story again and again!

Joey Coleman, co-host of ExperienceThis! Show podcast

We’d love to hear about your remarkable experiences! Click here to share your experience in our contact form or record a digital voicemail for us by clicking on the “Start Recording” button.

[Agree to Disagree] There’s a Subscription for That

The very mention of “subscription services” brings thoughts of glee or dread – depending on what you are signing up to receive! In the past, “subscription” referred to magazines, papers, and maybe a mail-delivery music or movie club. In recent years, online subscriptions have exploded and now represent a huge industry in the United States and around the world. There are subscription services for razors, dive bar shirts, and socks – just to name a few. Why do consumers enjoy subscription services?

  • Save Money – Joey likes subscription services that help customers save money like those offered by Chewy Autoship and Amazon Subscribe and Save. Dan doesn’t like these types of subscriptions because they make him spend MORE money.
  • Experience Convenience – Subscriptions allow customers to “set it and forget it.” The problem arises when you completely forget the subscription and end up paying for something you no longer need or use.
  • Get Access to New Product – Valued customers can get access to new products before they are released to the public. On the other hand, how many products is too many?!

[Start the Conversation] Avtex: Technology’s Key Role in Customer Experience

Technology is integrated into almost every single interaction a customer has with any business. However, the amount of antiquated software out there is astounding. It’s important to ensure that the CX technologies you use are up to date and won’t negatively impact your customers’ interactions. Here are five technologies that could use a thorough and objective assessment to see if they are up to the task of delivering remarkable customer experiences:

  1. Contact Center platforms
  2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools
  3. Employee productivity tools
  4. Data and analytics solutions
  5. Middleware and integration-supporting applications

Start the conversation with this question: Do our current technology platforms adequately support our CX strategy?

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

[Dissecting the Experience] Create a Remarkable Experience Even When You Feel a Little Unprepared

When you attend a national speaker’s conference, you never know who will strike up a conversation! In an elevator at the National Speakers Association annual meeting, Dan met Harold Payne, a multi-platinum singer-songwriter who is also a master improviser. Harold improvises songs for the clients and conferences where he presents and was kind enough to create one for our show that you can listen to here.

When we think about customer experience, I think that’s often what it’s about: just creating a moment, creating a memory, creating something that when the individual who’s been to your event or your office goes back home, they remember an experience they can bring back to share with their friends.

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

By creating something special for your clients, you give them something to remember and to share.

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 79 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!

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

Dan Gingiss: Join us as we discuss a veritable plethora of positive customer experience stories, a debate about all those subscription boxes and a man who creates music on the fly.

Joey Coleman: Sharing, shaving, and singing. Oh my.

LISTENER STORIES: One Question on Facebook

You listened to us, now we want to listen to you. By visiting our website and sharing your remarkable customer experiences with us. We can share them with a broader audience. Now, sit back and enjoy our listener stories.

Dan Gingiss: One of the statistics I like to share in my keynote presentations actually comes from our friends at Sytel Group, and it’s that while 30% of consumers say they’d share a bad customer experience on social media, nearly half of consumers say the exact same thing about a positive experience. This presents a huge opportunity for companies to start intentionally creating more positive experiences so their customers can’t wait to talk about them with friends and family. Now full disclosure, that’s what my keynote is about, how to do that. But for this segment, I wanted to see what would happen if I asked a simple question on Facebook. What was the last remarkable experience you had with a company? And boy, my friends did not disappoint.

Joey Coleman: Well Dan, you know I’m not nearly as much of a social media guy as you are, but I saw your post and I also know that our mutual friend Jay Baer talks about how half of word of mouth marketing is still offline. So getting people to talk positively about your brand can have effects both on and off social media.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly right, my friend Joey. So are you ready to hear some of the great experiences that I got from this single question?

Joey Coleman: I am and I’m excited to be able to share those because I must confess, I was surprised when I saw it by the number of people who commented. It was pretty nice.

Dan Gingiss: Exactly.

Joey Coleman: It warms my heart.

Dan Gingiss: That it’s great, so I appreciate that you read it as well so we’ll share them together back and forth.

Joey Coleman: Perfect.

Dan Gingiss: So my friend Sandy responded by saying that Bombas sent seven pairs of socks instead of the eight that she ordered. “The customer service department was swamped and they were unable to respond within the timeframe promised. They not only refunded my entire purchase amount, but issued me a $50 gift card for a future purchase.”

Joey Coleman: Nice. Jamie said OtterBox, “They will provide you with a new phone case if yours get stretched out or cracked. No questions asked.”

Dan Gingiss: Love OtterBox had them as a guest on my last podcast and I’m a frequent user of their products. My friend [Katie 00:03:26] said, “Glossier had apparently discovered an issue with the pigment changing in some makeup that I bought. I had not noticed any issues. They both refunded my money and sent me a new bottle once they’d fixed the issue.”

Joey Coleman: Margaret shared that Wegmans called her house to tell her that a bag of flour she bought weeks ago had been recalled.

Dan Gingiss: That one stunned me by the way.

Joey Coleman: Yeah, weeks ago.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. and a single item in a cart.

Joey Coleman: A single item.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. Fantastic.

Joey Coleman: Impressive.

Dan Gingiss: So a friend named Dan, this is not me.

Joey Coleman: Not Dan. We’re not just making it up, folks. It’s a different friend.

Dan Gingiss: A friend named Dan said, “I was processing payroll while our HR manager was on vacation.”

Joey Coleman: Oh, lucky-

Dan Gingiss: Dan, yes.

Joey Coleman: … Oh, what a great gig.

Dan Gingiss: “A unique situation came up, so I called ADP for help. The person quickly understood what was needed, entered it into our payroll system so I didn’t have to do it and potentially screw it up and double-checked the information. It was a lifesaver and I didn’t have to bother my HR manager on her vacation.”

Joey Coleman: Ooh, I want to clap that one. That was nice yeah.

Dan Gingiss: Great B2B example also. .

Joey Coleman: For those of you that are like, well, what about B2B? B2B, B2C, it’s all H2H people, human to human. Okay. Stacy shared that All-Clad, replaced two of her ten-year-old nonstick pans because they’d lost their nonstick. She received two brand new pans just last week. No questions asked.

Dan Gingiss: And Lisa G. Said, “The car dealer who offered to send a driver with my mom’s car to her house to swap out her repaired car for the loner because he knows how tough it is for me to get an additional aid to stay with my mom when there are car issues.”

Joey Coleman: Oh, I love it. Human touch. Jeffery shares, “I was at Whole Foods in the checkout line. An item I had from the Butcher Block, 1.5 pounds of pork chops wasn’t scanning out correctly because the barcode was faded. The cashier called them and told them to change out the toner on the scale. He proceeded to place the pork chops in my bag.” I asked him how much and he said they’re free today because of the inconvenience of waiting for them to change out the toner. When in our lifetimes can we actually cry out free pork chops, and have it ring true?”

Dan Gingiss: Now that’s a good day. Julia said, “Bentley’s Pet Store called me within 24 hours letting me know they overcharged me for my purchase by 50% and offered a credit. I would have never known. Love them.”

Joey Coleman: And finally Lisa B. shares, “I emailed Zappos to let them know that the Nike’s I bought for my daughter had a hole after a month of wear. They refunded my entire purchase without me needing to return the shoes.”

Dan Gingiss: So why are we sharing all of these stories? It’s to show that a number of brands in both B2C and B2B, that’s business to consumer and business to business, for those not in the know, are starting to figure this customer experience thing out. Which means that if your company hasn’t yet, you’re behind the competition. It’s also to demonstrate that no matter what business you’re in, you can do these kinds of things too.

Joey Coleman: Oh, so true Dan. So true. There is no excuse for not caring about your customers. Most of these examples we just shared were about doing the right thing for the customer. Not making them jump through a lot of hoops to get a refund, and frankly leaving them happier than if they hadn’t had a problem in the first place. It’s really powerful when we can take a momentary interaction with a customer, add a little dash of surprise and delight by giving them something unexpected and then sit back and watch how they tell the story, how they shared that this has been their experience maybe weeks, months later.

Dan Gingiss: I also think it’s really instructive to realize that a number of these examples came from things that went wrong first, right? The price tag wasn’t visible when they went to scan it or the shoes had a hole in it, and they turned into the answer to the question of what’s the last great experience that you had with a brand?

Joey Coleman: Absolutely. I also loved that a number of these examples were things that the customer didn’t actually know something had gone wrong, so the recall on the flour, the overcharging by 50%, this is the business taking a vested interest. If you remember several seasons ago, and I won’t call on our a savant Dan to point out which episode it was, but years ago we talked about an experience I had watching Amazon where my wife and I rented a movie on Amazon and it was buffering slowly and so the movie was a little garbled. And the next day I got an unexpected, unprompted email from Amazon, from their video services department saying, “Hey, we saw that you rented this video. We saw that there were some issues in the bandwidth during delivery, so we’ve credited you back the rental fee for free.” Again, when our customers don’t even have to ask for our help and we acknowledge that something might have gone wrong, that’s how you create a customer for life. That’s how you create the kind of connection and interaction that will not only keep that customer loyal, but they will want to tell that story again and again.

Dan Gingiss: So we’d like to hear your customer stories as well. If you’d do us a favor, go to experiencethisshow.com, click on contact in the upper right hand corner, and you will see a little SpeakPipe widget. And this is basically a digital voicemail where you can leave us a message that will come to our inboxes and tell us about the last time you had a remarkable experience with a brand and your story might just appear in a future episode.

AGREE TO DISAGREE: Subscription Services

Joey Coleman: We usually see eye to eye except when we don’t. See if you find yourself siding with Dan or Joey as we debate a hot topic on this segment of Agree to Disagree.

Dan Gingiss: It used to be that a subscription referred to your daily newspaper or a monthly magazine, then came digital subscriptions like Netflix and Amazon Music. Then there was the Dollar Shave Club. Now you can subscribe to almost anything. The online subscription market more than doubled each year from 2011 to 2016 with the largest players among them generating more than $2.6 billion in 2016 sales, up from just $57 million in 2011 according to McKinsey. You may or may not know that 70% of subscription services are sold in the U.S., the rest of the world only accounts for 30%. There were $1.2 billion in capital investments in subscription services in 2018. It’s estimated to be a 10 plus billion dollar market just in the U.S. And not including Amazon. And the average subscriber has two different services with a third of customers having three or more subscription services. And so we ask is this a good thing?

Joey Coleman: Well, let me say this as a little disclaimer before I make my point. I think there there’s a separate conversation to have here around consumption in the environment and how all that fits in. But if we’re just talking about the concept of a subscription versus non-subscription, I actually think subscription services work really well, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, they save the customer money. So if you’re a part of Amazon Subscribe & Save, or Chewy’s Autoship, everybody wins. The customer pays less. The company providing the subscription has a better idea of what their yield and what they’re through rates need to be so they can better forecast and make better use of their materials and their warehouse time. So overall it saves everybody money.

Number two, a subscription can be incredibly convenient. You can set it and forget it. Now, there are times where this can get a little bit out of control if you set it, forget it, and then all of a sudden you stock up on a lot of stuff you don’t need. But in the best uses of subscription services, you don’t have to remember to go to the store, which is great because let’s be candid, who really gets super excited about going to the store anymore? I know I don’t. I would much rather have it just show up at the house.

Number three, subscription services introduced me to new products and service opportunities that I might not otherwise know about. There’s a real opportunity here I think, to have curated experiences. To have someone else helping you to find the specific choices and expose you to the new possibilities within a subscription category service.

Dan Gingiss: Well Joey, since this segment is called Agree to Disagree, I’m going to have to disagree with you there.

Joey Coleman: Of course you are.

Dan Gingiss: I think subscription services have simply gone too far. First of all, they end up costing you more money because you get stuff that you don’t need. I use Amazon Subscribe & Save, but now I’m up to like $50 or $60 a month in stuff. And I always have to go back and double-check to make sure that I really need this stuff.

Secondly, I think companies are taking advantage of customers who are setting it and forgetting it. Even in the shave clubs and other things, sometimes you get three or four in a row and then you realize, “Well, I’ve got 24 razor blades now I’m going to be just fine shaving for a long, long time,” but it’s a pain to cancel and so people stay on and inertia takes over.

Joey Coleman: Don’t you shave your head every day, man? You go through a lot of razors I’m sure.

Dan Gingiss: It is pretty shiny.

Joey Coleman: It is shiny.

Dan Gingiss: Third, there are simply too many subscriptions out there. It absolutely boggles the mind. There’s the Bacon of the Month Club. There’s the Dive Bar Shirt Club, the Bagel of the Month Club, the Sock of the Month Club. And even one called Cannabox, which will send you cannabis supplies every month.

Joey Coleman: Wait a second. Are all of those real Dan?

Dan Gingiss: These are all real services [crosstalk 00:13:46] that I looked up on worldwide web.

Joey Coleman: No really, the dive bar one?

Dan Gingiss: Yes.

Joey Coleman: The dive bar one? Oh my gosh. Who really is sitting at home going, “Man, I wish I had some more t-shirts from dive bars I haven’t been to.

Dan Gingiss: It actually sounds kind of cool doesn’t it [crosstalk 00:13:58], now that you think about it.

Joey Coleman: It does sound kind of cool now that you think about it. Yeah it does. So I guess I’ve swayed you over them that you actually think it’s a good idea. Ladies and gentlemen, we call that the bait and switch. Dan fell for it. I reeled him in. Now, here’s the thing. I agree with you. If you are going to do subscription services, you have to pay attention to them. You really do because they can get out of control and I know I have suffered from that in the past where I’ve had subscription services and all of a sudden I’ve realized, wait a second, why am I still getting this? It goes from being a convenient way to get the things you need, to an inconvenient way to be billed for stuff you don’t want.

Dan Gingiss: And tell the audience Joey, how many magazine subscriptions you had until just recently?

Joey Coleman: Okay, until very recently I had a small addiction problem, two magazines. I was subscribed to 30 different magazines. Now prior to having children, I will confess I read these 30 magazines every month. I would basically had to read a magazine a day to keep up, but I really liked the format. I liked the tactile feel, I’m a visual learner. Some magazines worked better for me than reading online or just reading an article. I really liked it. But since having kids, I kind of woke up the other day, this is within the last month and realized, you know what, I don’t need to have as many subscriptions as I do. So I’m now down to just three, so I cut it by 90% [crosstalk 00:15:19] which saved a lot of money.

Dan Gingiss: Well the first step is admitting you have a problem Joey.

Joey Coleman: This is true. This is very true and that’s why I said see earlier disclaimer that you have to be responsible for your own subscriptions and not let them get out of control. That being said, as recent parents in the last few years, the fact that the diapers just show up without us having to think about it, that was a very convenient subscription that we will be very excited to not be part of in the near future. But the moral of the story is that worked well for us.

Dan Gingiss: Well, I think the message to companies is … subscriptions right now are a thing. They’re a fad. People are excited about them, they’re a trend. And what often happens is companies think, “Well, if this is trending, it’s something we need to jump on to.” And so what I want to suggest to listeners is, if you don’t have a product that is really relevant for a subscription service, don’t feel like this is a direction that you have to go. That being said, it is obviously a great way to get sustainable revenue from customers because they do set it and forget it, but it doesn’t work for everything. And I believe that there’s certainly some out there that can work really, really well, but that it really has gotten a little bit too far.

Joey Coleman: Well, I think subscription services are great.

Dan Gingiss: Well Joey, then I guess we’ll just have to, agree to disagree.

START THE CONVERSATION

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 technology’s key role in customer experience. Technology’s vital role in meeting the changing demands of the modern consumer has long been recognized. Nearly every interaction occurring between a customer and an organization is driven or supported by at least one form of technology, and in many cases multiple platforms converge to support the interaction. Unfortunately, many CX leaders overlook the critical step of ensuring that these technologies are up to the challenge of supporting existing customer experience strategies or newly created experiences. This leaves the CX strategy vulnerable to failure or underperformance and may lead to challenges for both customers and employees.

Joey Coleman: It’s important to conduct a thorough and objective assessment of your customer experience technologies including these five key things. Contact center platforms. Customer relationship management or CRM tools. Employee productivity tools. Data and analytics solutions. Middleware and integration supporting applications.

Dan Gingiss: I have to tell you the Joey, having worked at a number of big companies, it is amazing how much old technology is still out there.

Joey Coleman: Ooh, legacy ware folks, it’s exciting.

Dan Gingiss: I mean stuff that was built in like the early nineties, late eighties.

Joey Coleman: Lotus Notes baby, Lotus Notes for everyone.

Dan Gingiss: Lotus Notes is just fantastic. And the thing is is that today customers expect more than that. Whether it’s a customer-facing piece of technology or it’s something that simply enables a customer experience, it really is important that this stuff gets upgraded for the times because the demand is so much higher today

Joey Coleman: And now for this week’s question about technology’s key role in CX, do our current technology platforms adequately support our customer experience strategy? We encourage you to start the conversation within your own organization and then continue it with Avtex at experienceconversations.com that’s experienceconversations.com.

DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE: Improv Singing!

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: No, Joey and I aren’t going to sing for you again, but someone else is. Meet Harold [Pain 00:19:49] , a multi-platinum singer/songwriter who is also a master improviser. He’s written songs for Snoop Dogg, Rod Stewart, Patti LaBelle, Lana Del Rey, and Bobby Womack. But he also creates songs on the spot at events and conferences, similar to the artists that you sometimes see summarizing keynotes with drawings for example. Let’s take a listen to a sample from Harold’s work.

Harold P.: (Singing).

Dan Gingiss: So I know this sounds cliche, but I actually met Harold in an elevator.

Joey Coleman: This is so classic. It’s like the ultimate elevator music story.

Dan Gingiss: It is. It is. We were actually Joey and I were both at the National Speakers Association Influence Conference in Denver.

Joey Coleman: I was not in the elevator.

Dan Gingiss: Joey was not in the elevator, but I was heading back up to the room, and I met this guy and we shook hands. So we started talking. I said, “So what do you do?” And he says, “Well I sing improv songs for events.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” And he went on to explain it and I thought that he was absolutely fascinating and that we just had to have him on the show. Actually, I asked him to tell us a little bit more about his business in an audio file so that you guys can hear it as well.

Harold P.: So what I do is create customized and sometimes improvise songs for keynotes, events and conferences like that. For example, for the Experience show, I might do something like (singing).

Joey Coleman: I love it because companies often are looking for ways to make their experience more creative or more fun. And while I and Dan both fully understand that the type of music or the improv that Harold is doing here may not be your cup of tea. It’s important to remember that when you’re designing customer experiences, it’s more about what your customers feel than what you feel. So these types of things work. It works for Harold. It works for a lot of other folks out there who are doing creative things to tie together events or add a little spark. I was at a company offsite not too long ago where they brought in somebody who played piano and they did improv. And in my speech I had mentioned a case study that the punchline was root beer. And later on in the evening when the piano player sat down and did a Billy Joel song, The Piano Man, he came to the part where he said, (singing).

And the crowd all thought it was funny and everybody got that it was about me. And it was just this little tiny thing that made it feel special, it created a little moment. And at the end of the day, when we think about customer experience, I think that’s often what it’s about. Just creating a moment, creating a memory, creating something that when the individual who’s been to your event or partook of your conference or come to your office goes back home, there was a funny little interaction or a little jingle in their head that they remember that they can bring back to share with their friends.

Dan Gingiss: Did you put bread in his jar and ask him, man, what are you doing here?

Joey Coleman: I did ask him what he was doing there. Yes, indeed. Indeed.

Dan Gingiss: Well, I love what Harold’s doing and I do think there’s something in it for everyone and he’s so creative about using different musical genres, being able to work with companies or events to prepare songs in advance or to do it in a more improv style where he’s listening to a speech for example. Wouldn’t you love at the end of your keynote to have a song written about what you just spoke about? It’s so cool.

Joey Coleman: I think it’d be a lot of fun and true confessions, I will throw down the gauntlet and challenge myself publicly that I will do this. I have thought about ending a keynote with singing for a long time. I know Dan, you sing in your keynotes regularly. I’ve seen that happen. Dan does a wicked rendition of a song from The Greatest Showman. It’s fantastic. So yeah, I think it could be a lot of fun. And what I like about this, again, this isn’t just about improv singing in events folks. Okay, let’s pull this back to the 35,000-foot level. This is about taking a risk. This is about trying something different. This is about being comfortable with creating a little experience or a little moment that maybe feels awkward or maybe feels not perfectly thought out and executed, but it creates something special and lets them know it’s real. There’s such a trend in all of customer experience to polish the edges and make everything seamless. That’s fine, but it also can have impact if we do something that’s unexpected. It can have impact if we deviate from the path just a little bit as long as it’s a fun experience. Now, Dan and I have discussed doing something like this on the show for the longest time and while we don’t have a full musical episode baked out just yet, what about something like this? Three-four.

(Singing).

Dan Gingiss: (Singing).

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.