Monday, September 28, 2009

Why The Moments Matter

I primarily teach and present workshops to corporate audiences. A lot of people immediately understand why great interactions matter, especially in an era when customers can share their experience almost as it happens. Your customers make decisions based on their emotional responses to your brand, your service, your team. Period.

Regardless, I still get the pinstripe suit reaction that goes something like this:

"Great story, Russ, but why should I care about the moment? Worrying about how customers feel takes our eyes off important work or distracts us from business at hand."

True... it might distract people briefly from a mountain of to-do's on a desk, but it helps them re-focus on the real reasons customers arrive, leave and do or don't come back (or post nasty comments online). When I spend time with an organization, I try to listen to what others are saying about their people. I try to find specific ways a better experience (training, new-hire orientation, leadership development, sales process, etc) can benefit their organization.

For those who remain unconvinced, here are three top reasons why great experiences or "moments" are valuable for any organization:

Reason 1: Return on Investment

People like to go places, buy things and participate in activities based on great experiences. Like most ROI calculations, three primary measures of a user experience are made in quantifiable measures: productivity per employee, costs, and sales (revenue). You can reap a major benefit from the right training, better leadership and enhancing sales and service experiences.

Reason 2: Active Community Development

Online communities and social media tools are changing the way we learn, share and measure our experiences. A store manager tells of being negatively reviewed on Yelp when he asked a college student dressed only in pajamas and no shoes to return with shoes on. Even though she wasn't a customer, she posted a review complaining of rudeness. His real customers jumped online and contradicted her statements. Their better experiences give them better material to share with others.

Reason #3: A More Highly Engaged Workforce

The wall between work and life is dissolving. As it does, people don’t just want a job, they want a more satisfying work+life experience that makes a difference for them, their families and their customers. By focusing employees on how they can create better customer experiences, you offer them a way to engage their personality in daily activities. It's a more fulfilling and fun way to work. Are you that kind of employer or organization? If not, watch out. You may lose some critical high-potential talent.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Okay, so the experience matters. Now what?

It's time to turn that cash register into a (Superman) cape: Define the experience your audience wants. Measure the experience they (not employees) say you deliver. Use these experiences to inspire others. The goal for you and your team is to:

  1. Define customer challenges, and then the experience(s) employees can create (during any transactions) related to solving them.
  2. Measure the user experiences through traditional methods (surveys, online polls, etc.) and non-traditional approaches (storytelling, staff complements, event creation/participation, etc.) as well as through the use of social network monitoring tools that are discussed later in this book.
  3. Find ways to inspire audiences (customers, co-workers, family members) by sharing these experiences and the impact they have had on others.

If you answer honestly, you can gauge if you and your organization are creating an atmosphere better suited to someone with the personality of a cash register or a superhero. Now it’s up to you to decide if you need to take a victory lap or re-dedicate yourself to the challenge of creating more meaningful customer experiences.