Episode 50: Always Make It About the Customer

Join us as we discuss: Why so many big brands are disappearing, the best customer service email ever, and freedom of choice at the ATM.   

Bankruptcy, Advocacy, and Currency! Oh my!

[CX Press] The Violence of the Experience Economy [1:26 – 10:23]

The list of all the great companies that have recently filed for bankruptcy contains many notable names, like Toys R Us, Brookstone, Nine West, Claire’s, KMart, Radio Shack and now Sears. It’s a scary list! And as Mary Drumond, CMO of Worthix points out in her LinkedIn post, The Violence of the Experience Economy, “[n]obody is safe in the Customer Experience Economy.” Mary shares some additional thoughts in the exclusive audio clip included in this segment.

The first company to recognize and address customers’ future needs – they will be the next market leader. ~ Mary Drumond, CMO at Worthix

  • Almost every industry – airlines, banking, insurance, credit cards, hotels, retailers – is suffering from commoditization, low barriers to entry, and low switching costs for consumers.
  • Companies need a customer-centric mindset instead of a product-centric mindset.
  • Customer experience is the last true differentiator among brands.
  • Companies must “create experiences that their customers believe are worth it.”

[This Just Happened] Chewy Revisted [10:38 – 16:21]

Way back in Episode 17, we profiled a pet supplies company called Chewy.com and shared three listener stories of the amazing customer service that Chewy provides to both human customers and their furry friends. One of the stories was from Mariangel, and she followed up with Dan recently with another amazing experience she had with Chewy.

Mariangel left a negative review on Chewy’s site for a certain brand of kitty litter. This wasn’t a complaint about Chewy, it was about a specific product. She said she was not expecting anything but just wanted to warn other shoppers. Shortly thereafter, she received an unexpected email from Chewy.

If there’s anything we can do, don’t hesitate to give us a meow any time, day or night. We’re always here for you. ~ Chewy.com email to a customer (and Experience This! listener), Mariangel

  • Chewy surprised a customer by responding personally to a review that was about a specific product, not Chewy itself.
  • The agent issued an immediate refund – even though the customer hadn’t asked for one – and proactively suggested alternative products.
  • Chewy took the extra time to include little details (like the name of the customer’s cat) in the email.

[Dissecting the Experience] PNC’s ATMs [16:41 – 22:41]

Listener Marianne Hynd recently shared a great example of improving a small part of the experience to make a big difference. On her recent visit to PNC Bank, she learned that the bank’s ATMs now dispensed any kind of bills – and even asked the customer for their preference. This saved Marianne the time of having to break the usual $20 bills in order to pay for school lunches every day. It seemed like a small change, but it had a big effect on her experience and her view of the bank’s brand. Listen in to Marianne as she shares her story in the exclusive audio clip included in this segment.

Look at processes from the customer’s point of view, and make little changes that can yield a big impact. ~ Marianne Hynd, Experience This! listener

  • Who decided that ATMs should only dispense $20 bills?
  • It’s the little things that matter to the customer.
  • When companies are proactive about remembering customer preferences, it creates a much smoother experience overall.

[Three Takeaways] Questions to Consider for Episode 50 [23:00 – 25:01]

  1. Are you participating in the Customer Experience Economy? Are you consumer-centric or product-centric? Is your company at risk of being the next giant to fall? If you are not using customer experience as a key differentiator in your business, you are falling behind. Competing on price is a fool’s game, and anyone can copy your product. But your experience, with your employees, is unique. Own it, and leverage it to the max.
  2.  Are you going above and beyond to be helpful to your customers? Are you noticing when they are dissatisfied, even if they aren’t telling you? Have you empowered your customer service agents to issue refunds or discounts with no questions asked? The companies that are keeping their customers — even when something goes wrong — are doing these things. If you’re not, it’s time to start.
  3. What are the “little things” in your business that can be improved? Is there a customer-facing process that exists simply because “we’ve always done it that way”? What’s your version of only dispensing $20 bills at an ATM? Try to find a place where you are currently limiting customers, and instead give them the freedom to choose. You might be surprised to learn that they’ll be more likely to choose YOU in the future.

Thank you for staying with us for 50 episodes.

Here’s to the next 50!

Links We Referenced

The Violence of the Experience Economy by Mary Drumond, CMO of Worthix

Host Contact Information

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 here Episode 50 or read it below:

[SHOW INTRO]
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 retention expert Joey Coleman and social media expert Dan Gingiss serve as your hosts for a weekly dose of positive customer experience.

So, hold on to your headphones. It’s time to Experience This!

[EPISODE 50 INTRO]

Dan Gingiss: Get ready for the big 5!0! That’s right. It’s the fiftieth episode of the Experience This Show!

Joey Coleman: Join us as we discuss: why so many big brands are disappearing, the best customer service email ever, and the freedom of choice at the ATM.

Dan Gingiss: Bankruptcy, Advocacy, and Currency. Oh my!

[SEGMENT INTRO][CX PRESS]

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!

[CX PRESS: The Violence of the Experience Economy]

Dan Gingiss: This week’s CX Press comes to us from Mary Drummond – the CMO of Worthix, a customer survey platform – and a podcast host herself. She has a great show called Voices of Customer Experience which you should definitely check out. Mary wrote a post on LinkedIn that caught my attention called: The Violence of the Experience Economy. Now I have to say Joey, we obviously read a lot of customer experience articles but this was one of the best pieces I’ve read in a long time.

Joey Coleman: That’s high praise Dan! You’re right, we read a lot of articles… I’m excited about this one.

Dan Gingiss: Mary starts with a list of all of the great companies that have recently filed for bankruptcy. Names that you’re familiar with like Toys R Us, and Brookstone, Nine West, Claire’s, Kmart, RadioShack, and most recently Sears. It’s a scary list. And as Mary points out, “Nobody is safe in the Customer Experience Economy.” Now I asked Mary to tell us a little bit about the impetus for her article and you’ll be able to tell right away that she’s pretty passionate about customer experience.

Mary Drumond: The motivation behind writing that article was (1) to try to be kind of a manifesto of everything that we believe and hear at Worthix and the idea is to have people understand that the economy we’re living in right now is by far the most violent economy in the history of capitalism. Another problem is the speed of change that we have nowadays in the Customer Experience Economy. We have these examples of companies that have just risen out of the blue and taken over the market and others who have completely failed. But that’s not the only place where change is fast. It’s also fast in the changing expectations of our customers. So the truth is that expectations are caused by disruption in the market – but not only the disruption of your industry. Amazon comes out with Amazon Prime where they’ve got FREE delivery, in two days! From that moment on, customers all over the place – even though they weren’t buying from Amazon they could be buying a sofa – they no longer tolerated 45 day shipping. Now they want two day shipping because if Amazon can do, it you should be able to do it too. Netflix has this huge library of videos and shows and everything that you can use on demand, anywhere you go. And nowadays airlines, like Delta, are having to provide their customers with a full in-flight video experience because customers want to have what they have at Netflix when they’re sitting in their planes going to their destinations. Even though you have these companies that are great examples of customer centricity and keeping up with the speed of change, they’re far from being on safe ground. And if they don’t pay attention to the future expectations of their customers they can end up like their predecessors in a heartbeat. So the first company to recognize and address customers future needs – they will be the next market leader. And this could happen at any time.

Joey Coleman: I love it! You can definitely feel her passion Dan and so much of what she talks about is in alignment with things you and I talk about all the time – that your competition is not the other people in your industry, it’s everyone who’s creating a remarkable customer experience. Her article goes on to explain that pretty much every industry – airlines, banks, insurance, credit cards, hotels, retailers – are suffering from commoditization low barriers to entry and low switching costs for their consumers. The answer, she says, is that “companies need to have a customer-centric mindset instead of a product-centric one.”

Dan Gingiss: That’s so true. And one more thing that Mary wrote that I really liked was that companies must “create experiences that their customers believe are worth it” and “worth it” is a high and ever-changing bar. We’ve often said that the customer experience is the last true differentiator among brands and I think, personally, that this article demonstrates that.

Joey Coleman: I agree. I think one of the things I love about the way Mary writes is, all too often I think customer experience articles have a tendency to be about “oh make the customer feel better” and these things are valuable, but she really boils it down to what’s going on with the customer. And that whole idea of the customer believing that it’s worth it – it’s not enough to create an experience that’s just “oh, this is marginally better than our competitors experience,” – no. It needs to be an experience that really almost captivates the customer, or grabs them unexpectedly in the way they’re moving through their day, and gets their attention.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah – I also think it has to be an experience that takes advantage of the scenario that you’re in. So let me explain what I mean by that I mean by that. All of these are brick and mortar retailers (that list earlier on) and the easy argument is, “they all got destroyed by Amazon,” but I don’t really think that’s true. I think that Amazon obviously is an incredible company and Jeff Bezos is one of the most incredible visionaries of our time, but it doesn’t mean that mom and pop shops, or even big retailers, can’t survive in the same world as Amazon. They just have to play the game differently. So if you think about it, what does a brick and mortar store have that Amazon doesn’t?

It has a physical presence. So a Toys R Us, or a Claire’s, or any one of those other companies, should be leveraging that physical presence. It’s like when you go to the grocery store, or you go to Costco, and they give away samples, and you get to taste the samples. Amazon can’t do that. But companies that have physical presences can create experiences that you can only have in person. And I think that once you get somebody in the door, and you create an experience that they can’t get somewhere else, they’re much more likely to buy from you – even if you’re a couple hours more expensive than Amazon.

Joey Coleman: I think you’re on to something here Dan. I don’t think it’s at all about the price. I don’t think it’s all about the “Amazon killed the retail establishment.” I think that’s a convenient headline and it’s a nice little sound bite that people like to throw around, but you know what really (and I say this with respect because I know people who’ve worked at some of those stores that have filed for bankruptcy) killed those businesses was the fact that when I walked into the store, the employees very clearly transmitted their irritation with my presence in the store. Right?! I mean, when I go on Amazon, I’m not expecting a human interaction. I click through, I find the product I want, I hit buy, it hits my cart, next thing I know it’s on its way to me. There’s been no human interaction and I haven’t expected anything unique and different. A lot of those stores, and a lot of the stores that are really feeling the crunch in the retail world right now, you walk in and it’s as if you’ve interrupted their day. You’ve interrupted their conversation with their co-worker, or their time on their phone, or they’re even potentially on the phone talking to a friend – as opposed to a customer, it’s very clear what’s going on. I was just in a retail establishment in London where I walked into a high-end, men’s suit store and very much was interested in seeing what they had to offer, and these guys (there were two guys behind the counter that were talking) and it was like, one of them comes out from behind the counter and says, “uh – what are you looking for” And I was like, “You know, I’ve already found it. Thank you.” I’m gone. I will find it online – as a result of this interaction – and I just think. I think she’s spot on. I think you’re spot on. Nobody is safe in the customer experience economy, and if you are not paying attention to this stuff, we can start a stopwatch on how much longer you’re going to be in business.

Dan Gingiss: Absolutely! And this idea of customer-centric versus product-centric is important because it’s a question of whether you’re looking inwards toward yourself, or outward towards your customers. The last thing I want to touch on is Mary’s use of the word “violent” in the headline. That’s really what caught my attention in the first place. I think it’s really apropos. That list of companies that have fallen, they were all huge retail names at one point, and now they’re just gone. It’s a new world out there with sky high customer expectations and tons of companies innovating on every piece of the experience. I mean, forget about today’s shipping from Amazon, I just ordered a new phone case from Amazon this week and got same day shipping! The old way of doing things just isn’t going to hack it anymore.

[SEGMENT INTRO][THIS JUST HAPPENED]

Joey Coleman: We’d love telling stories and sharing key insights you can implement – or avoid – based on our experience. Can you believe that This Just Happened!

[THIS JUST HAPPENED: Chewy Revisited]

Dan Gingiss: So way back in Episode 17 – that’s 33 episodes ago for those scoring at home…

Joey Coleman: And that would only be you scoring at home Dan! But that’s ok!

Dan Gingiss: Funny, funny. I think someone else’s probably scoring too. We profiled a pet supplies company called Chewy.com and we shared three listener stories about the amazing customer service that Chewy provides to both human customers and their furry friends. One of the stories was from Mariangel and she followed up with me recently with another amazing experience that she had with the same company. So to set the stage here, Mariangel left a negative review on Chewy’s site for a certain brand of kitty litter. Now, this wasn’t a complaint about Chewy – it was about a specific product. She told me on Twitter, “I recently switched litter for my cat and the one I selected was awful – even though it has great reviews. It just didn’t work for us. I left a negative review – but not hating Chewy, or the brand, but more stating that it didn’t work for long haired cats.” Now she said she wasn’t expecting anything, but she just wanted to warn other long-haired cat owners.

Dan Gingiss: Shortly thereafter she received an unexpected email from Chewy. Now, I’m going to break it into three parts because I want to make sure we discuss all of them, but here’s how the email started. “Hi Mariangel. Your review on the “so-and-so wood clumping cat litter” made me want to get in touch with you. I’m sorry to hear that the litter didn’t quite work out. As pet parents, we always want to do right by our fuzzy families and get them everything they love, but sometimes swinging and missing happens. Anytime an item doesn’t work out, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We’ll always make it right. In the meantime, I’ve processed a refund of $16.14 to the card used in the purchase and that should reflect back in your bank account in three to five days. Feel free to donate whatever you have left of the box to a rescue, or local shelter, or give that to a friend in need.

Joey Coleman: Yes. Yes! Yes! This is exactly how businesses should be doing this! You know, it reminds me of a story that I told back in Season 1 (and we’ll have to ask Dan what episode it was because I have no recollection) but I was watching a movie on Amazon Video and it was buffering, and it just wasn’t… it kept getting bogged down. We just – my wife and I really wanted to watch the movie – and so we just pushed through it. The next day, I got an email from Amazon, telling me that they had noticed that my download speed was slow, and they thought that it probably impacted my enjoyment of the movie, so they had refunded the price of the movie. Now, similar to Mariangel, I got an unexpected refund and you can probably guess what happened… I now watch ALL of my new movies on Amazon because they looked out for me and did something unexpected. This is great because it’s friendly, it’s empathetic, and she gets a refund with no questions asked!

Dan Gingiss: Including – she didn’t even have to ask “Can I have a refund?”.

Joey Coleman: That was, I was just gonna say, it was crazy! She didn’t even have to ask for the refund – and she got it. And I even like that she suggested some options for what Mariangel could do with the leftover litter – which did not include shipping it back thankfully!

Dan Gingiss: Yeah – that would have been difficult. Well, speaking of suggestions, check out the next part of the email. “I wanted to help further by finding some other litters that may help you. I did some digging and even found that “certain brand” has a variety made specifically for long- haired cats. Here are my suggestions.” And she goes on to list four different suggestions for cat litter that are appropriate for long-haired cats.

Joey Coleman: Interestingly enough (and we’ll put this in the show notes) they’re all from different brands. And when I say we’ll put this in the show notes, we won’t list out the brands – because, you know we don’t like to talk trash about other brands – but I love this! Not only does the agent issue the immediate refund, but proactively helps further by finding the alternative kitty litters that may work better for long haired cats. Now this wasn’t necessary, or expected, but it’s a great example of customer service, of going above and beyond. So Dan – give ’em what the final part of the e-mail says.

Dan Gingiss: Okay, so the agent finishes with, “I hope this helps. Please give our love to Roma. Should you like to share any photos of them, we have a spot on our furry wall of fame here at the office which would look purr-fect with them in it.” Get it? “Purr-fect.” “For now, if you have any questions, or if there’s anything we can do, don’t hesitate to give us a meow at any time, day or night. We’re always here for you.” Now what I love about that part is that first of all, she references Mariangel’s cat by name. She encourages her to stay engaged with the brand by offering her cat a spot on the company’s furry wall of fame, and then she reminds her that she’s always here for her. I mean, come on, don’t you think that Chewy just nailed this one?

Joey Coleman: 100 percent! They sure did. Now, it took a little extra time because it’s a lengthy email, but it hit all the key points. It was friendly, it was conversational, it was genuinely helpful, and it went above and beyond.

Dan Gingiss: Well, Mariangel sure thought so. She wrote to me on Twitter, “I just received this email from them and I’m ecstatic. I never asked for a refund. I was actually going to use the whole thing just because I don’t want to throw anything out.” So Joey, where do you think Mariangel is going to make her next litter purchase – even though this last one didn’t work out quite as expected.

[SEGMENT INTRO][DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE]

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!

[DISSECTING THE EXPERIENCE: PNC’s ATMs]

Dan Gingiss: Have we mentioned how happy it makes us when listeners share their own stories of remarkable customer experiences? Well, our fabulous listener Marianne recently shared a great example of improving a small part of the experience to make a big difference. Now Marianne and I are connected on LinkedIn, and she was kind enough to tag me on a post about her recent visit to PNC Bank. I asked her to share her story with the Experience This! Show audience. Let’s hear what Marianne had to say.

Marianne: I’m a mom of three kids, and part of my weekly routine includes getting lunch money for school. As we know ATMs typically like to distribute tens and twenties which makes it difficult to divide out. So initially, I would take money from the ATM, but then I’d need to stop somewhere to make a small purchase so I could get some singles – which to be honest was kind of a pain, and something I never look forward to. So a couple of years ago, PNC – which is who I bank with – did start allowing ATM withdrawals in multiples of a dollar, which was a really welcomed change, and while it did ease up the process a little bit, I still had to make three separate transactions. But, I was okay with it at the time. However, I went to the ATM the other day, and started going through the process, and after choosing the amount for the withdrawal I saw three game-changing words: “Choose Your Bills.” PNC now allows customers to choose which denominations they’d like for their withdrawals. Now this is such a small change, but I can’t tell you how happy it made me. Probably happier than the folks at PNC intended! But really, what it did for me as a consumer is that it took one more step out of the process and it made my weekly trip a little bit quicker. I’ve been a customer of PNC for many years, and it’s little changes like that, that will keep me a customer for many years to come.

Dan Gingiss: I really like this example because, we’ve all been there. I mean, who decided that ATMs should only dispense 20 dollar bills?! Then when you go to break it, you feel like you have to buy a pack of gum or something not to be rude. So now you’re spending more money, just to get your own money back.

Joey Coleman: I like how Marianne said that “this was a little thing” because we’ve talked about this a lot. Folks, it’s the little things that matter to your customers! The little things matter A LOT more than the big things. The little thoughtfulness of saying, “Hey – we’re going to give you your money, how would you like it?” Which, by the way, they often will ask you inside (if you go into the bank and talk to a human being), but implementing this at the ATM-level outside, or at a remote location, seems like something that banks should have figured out a long time ago and I’m super excited that PNC got that figured out now!

Dan Gingiss: You know, it also reminds me of when you go to the casino, and you know, if you’re lucky enough to win they often pay you in hundred dollar bills – which I understand some people probably like – but what the heck do you do with a $100 dollar bill? Right?!

Joey Coleman: So you look stylish walking through the casino with your “hundys” folded…

Dan Gingiss: They look great – until you realize you’re going to have to break it in order to use it. But I actually remember encountering an ATM in Philadelphia many years ago, that even dispensed change, so you could actually withdraw eighteen dollars and forty nine cents if you wanted. And I know this is going to shock you, but “I wanted,” so I did it.

Joey Coleman: Of course you did.

Dan Gingiss: It was great for parking meters, and other things. There was actually an arcade down the street, so I used it for pinball – I know, another shocker. Now that might be an example of going too far, in that it might introduce too much operational complexity to solve a simple problem.

Joey Coleman: Well, I think it depends on the needs of the customer. So today, most parking meters will take credit cards so people don’t need change as much as they used to. But that doesn’t mean that PNC couldn’t keep iterating on this innovation. I mean, perhaps the ATM could associate Marianne’s choices with her debit card, so the next time she doesn’t even have to select the bills. I love it when a technology does that – when it says, “Hey, do you want us to do the same little, weird, unique thing you did last time?” And it’s like, “Hey, if I did that same weird, unique thing last time, you think I want it this time? Probably!”

Dan Gingiss: Yeah… I think when companies are able to be proactive about that, it just creates such a smoother experience… We had that example when I was at Discover. The website would know if you had redeemed your rewards for a Starbucks gift card in the past, the first thing it would say is, “would you like to redeem for a Starbucks gift card again?” And most of the time, the answer was yes. Because once people made their choice, and we knew they liked Starbucks, they came back and they wanted to choose that one. Again, it’s a little thing, but it does make a really big difference because, if you don’t do that, then the customer is forced to scroll through what was a very long list of gift cards, every single time, probably, you know, rolling their eyes saying, “Don’t they know I’m going to pick Starbucks?! I picked Starbucks the last time and the last 47 times!” And so when you see companies do this, it just makes so much sense, but again, it doesn’t happen very often. So I think it’s still surprising to people.

Joey Coleman: Well, it’s crazy because lots of times when we walk into our favorite restaurant, or coffee shop, or bar, or wherever you know whatever food or drink establishment you frequent, if you go there enough and the people know you, you can just say, “I’ll have the usual” and they know exactly what you want. Why not bring that same level of familiarity and convenience to the digital interactions we’re having?

Dan Gingiss: Totally agree. So as Marianne said in her LinkedIn post, “Look at processes from the customer’s point of view and make little changes that can yield a big impact.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

[SEGMENT INTRO][THREE TAKEAWAYS]

Joey Coleman: We’ve talked you’ve listened. Now it’s time to act. There are many things you could do to take what you’ve learned in this episode and implement it. But at times that can feel overwhelming. Instead, why not just focus on Three Takeaways.

[THREE TAKEAWAYS – Episode 50]

Dan Gingiss: Takeaway #1 – Are you participating in the Customer Experience Economy? Are you consumer-centric or product-centric? Is your company at risk of being the next giant to fall? If you are not using customer experience as a key differentiator in your business, you are falling behind. Competing on price is a fool’s game and anyone can copy your product. But your experience – with your employees – is unique. Own it and leverage it to the max.

Joey Coleman: Takeaway #2 – Are you going above and beyond to be helpful to your customers? Are you noticing when they’re dissatisfied even if they aren’t directly telling you? Have you empowered your customer service agents to issue refunds or discounts with no questions asked, or before the customer even asked for them? The companies that are keeping their customers – even when something goes wrong – are doing these things. If you’re not, it’s probably time to start.

Dan Gingiss: Takeaway #3 – Takeaway #3 – What are the little things in your business that can be improved? Is there a customer facing process that exists simply because we’ve always done it that way? What’s your version of only dispensing 20 dollar bills in an ATM? Try to find a place where you are currently limiting customers and instead, give them the freedom to choose. You might be surprised to learn that they’ll be more likely to choose YOU in the future.

Joey Coleman: Those are Three Takeaways for this episode!

Dan Gingiss: And if we can ask you one more favor? We’d love it if you would share the Experience This! Show on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or your favorite social media channel – so that your friends and followers can find out about us too. And, a heartfelt thank you – from me and Joey – for staying with us for 50 episodes! And here’s to the next 50…

[SHOW OUTRO]

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 news 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 & Dan Gingiss: Experience This!