Customer Experience requires attention to the whole value chain


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I am in Sydney this week to attend the Forrester Research Summits on Customer Experience for CMOs and CIOs.

I caught the bus into the city this morning. Since my last visit they have withdrawn the option to pay for a ticket on the bus. I was warned that I needed to go to the corner store to buy a 10 trip ticket. It was raining so time spent mucking about is not good. The first shop I visited said they had stopped selling tickets because 10c profit on a $27 sale was not worth the effort. Only by chance was there another corner store.

This got me thinking that the chain of customer experience is only as strong as the weakest link. If the margin you offer your retailers is so dismal they decide not to bother, all the rest of your efforts are could be thrown upside down and become a bit of a waste of time. Usually I am writing about the importance of employee experience now I am on the look out for examples of ecosystem failures in Sydney.

Generally I write mean things about Vodafone, but today for a change something nice. The new roaming deal means I am in a cafe typing and not worrying about the $600 roaming charge when I get home. Thanks for fixing a bit of the ecosystem.

Viewing the ecosystem from a customer’s perspective sometimes requires you to look at things in a different way. And….the good news is that it has stopped raining.

Is your CEO Spending too much time in meetings or at a computer?


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There have been a number of occasions over the last few weeks where PA’s to a CEO have been unable to find a slot for me because the CEO’s diary was full for the next 6-8 weeks. Now assuming that they are not all part of a conspiracy to avoid me, it has got me wondering if their Board’s know their CEO is meeting-loading and maybe spending too much time glued to a device, presumably then not spending much time being seen by their teams or spending time thinking.

I asked Mark Strom, author of “Lead with Wisdom” what his thoughts were on this topic and this is what he had to say:

“Here are four things CEOs can do to put meetings in their place: (1) empower the team to make decisions that do not need to be in the meeting; (2) turn meetings into conversations; (3) recognise and plan for two kinds of conversation (operational weekly; strategic monthly); (4) build agendas around grounded questions. Together these four shifts build trust, deepen conversational rigour and creativity, and reduce the number of formal meetings. That’s the uncanny outcome: the more we shift to conversation, the less formal meetings we need. And that frees up time for the most important conversations of all: the unplanned, serendipitous chats with people across the organisation in their own workplaces around their own sense of care, craft, community, challenge and creativity. Culture is built by turning engagement upside down: not asking staff to engage in managers’ and CEOs’ slogans, but by CEOs and managers engaging face-to-face in the ways people are and already engaged. Get about, talk less, listen more, learn lots, and encourage most of all.”

So if you are that CEO, is it time to rethink your time allocation and if you are that Board, is it time to ask your CEO what needs to change to get the change?

The bigger story around the Facebook Manipulation Project is that prestigious universities allowed it


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I love social media but have low expectations of it from an ethical perspective. I see it as my responsibility to manage my use of social media so that I can live with the consequences.

Reading about the Facebook Manipulation project saddened, but did not surprise me. The big surprise? That prestigious universities’ ethics committees allowed psychological manipulation of people who were not given the option of participation. and

Makes you wonder how many wives were beaten, dogs kicked or employees fired, because of additional negative thoughts in troubled people’s minds? Conversely, were bad choices made by people who were manipulated to feel more positive than their circumstances warranted? The fact that these unintended consequences cannot be identified and blamed on the research, does not make it right.

Facebook behaved as we might have expected but sadly and of greater concern, a group of university researchers seem to have missed the real point around data privacy. Personal information is protected by privacy laws because sharing our information with others can touch and negatively impact our lives. Just because Facebook used data without using names, does not make it right and does not mean it did not impact on lives.

Makes me wonder what next?

Culture comes from the top but what if the CEO’s team skews their message?


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Disappointing thing was that replies to the CEO were captured by a machine which spat out the usual unfriendly, unwelcoming standard response from a recruiter not the CEO, thereby destroying the credibility of the plan to bring a fresh new innovative approach into the way the organisation worked.

In the second case, a new CEO was planning to come to listen to disenfranchised employees in the aftermath of a merger. The listening sessions were cancelled by HR because there was already a communications plan in place within which these sessions did not feature. Sadly that plan did not include any similar opportunity for employees to share their ideas and thoughts about the merger and the company was the poorer for the missed opportunity.

This quote by Ansel Adams got me thinking that sometimes there are in fact times when a CEO needs to jealously guard and protect their creative ideas for the future culture of their organisations, lest people with a less creative and maybe more rear view mirror perspective, thwart their most important of endeavours.

If the critical planks of culture building are laid, then there is the opportunity for an organisation to thrive and to allow everyone to develop and share their own creative initiatives.

Does your industry jargon annoy your customers and mess with delivering customer experience?


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Over the last couple of months we have been looking at the easiest options and approaches to setting up new websites and blogs for the business. Last week I also thought it was time to update my profile and send it out to the people who have my details on file.

I then spent the weekend pondering on why, in a world appreciating the importance of delivering great customer experiences, companies still use their jargon with customers who do not speak their language and then fail to provide meaningful context to their words.

The prize for worst jargonist this week, goes to people involved in the world of web. I am pretty tech savvy but web jargon abounds, made worse by the absence of context to give clues. As an example, we looked at transferring domain name registrations from one ownership in one registry to another owner in a different registry. We looked at many sites for clues and kept finding reference to transfers but… very few thought to say transfers in or transfers out, which is pretty material to the context and so easy to clarify.

In the world of people search, why do they still invite people in for the first time to be “interviewed”. To my reading that is language that denotes differential power and a predominately one way conversation. Inviting me in for a meet and greet or a meeting or a conversation would signal a desire to talk not interrogate.

Delivering great customer experiences requires a rethink of every stage of the customer’s journey. Why annoy them unnecessarily at step 1?

Cartoon by Frances Hazard for

Mind the Gap – how you treat your employees and what you say you do


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Nothing gets me more frustrated as a customer than witnessing gaps between stated corporate cultures/values and the reality. I find I do not trust businesses that spout about nirvana but deliver Justin Bieber.

In January each year publishes its trustbarometer Annual Global Study. Now we are nearly half way through 2014, it seemed timely to look again at the 2014 findings around employees’ roles in creating and maintaining the public’s trust in their business.

“In 5 years, the credibility of regular employees has increased dramatically, ahead of that of the CEO.” “Employees are the most credible voices on multiple topics, including the company’s work environment, integrity, innovation and business practices.”

My question for business is ” Do you have a strategy around building trust in your brand that give employees scope and opportunity to play the fullest role possible? or is your organisation one of those with a CEO figurehead, a brutal and controlling social media policy or worse still, stated values and culture which are merely rhetoric?”

The good news coming from the 2014 Edelman trustbarometer is that there are actions businesses can take that will increase the levels of trust in their organisation. I particularly like their final recommendation that is:

“Foster a culture of “speaking out” and advocating for the company, especially on topics where employees are highly credible, such as working conditions, integrity and business practices, and technical experts on innovation.”

With all that in mind, there is time in 2014 to revisit your brand strategies to see if more could be done to put the employees front and centre, where they belong, and to close the gap between the rhetoric used around cultures and values and the reality. The evidence is that it is worth closing the gap. Businesses that are trusted make more money. Need I say more?

Ford EcoSport Review in new Magazine called “The Customer’s Experience”


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On 25th March I posted my review of the new Ford Ecosport. The car is now on sale in New Zealand and doing well getting good reviews. The review sparked an idea to produce a new digital (but easily printable) colour magazine with a focus on a customer’s experience of products and services. So the first edition is all about the Ecosport. I am busy thinking about products and services for Editions 2 and 3. Suggestions welcome and it does not always need to be with me as the Customer, I am happy to write about other people’s experiences.

IMG_1871My experience with the Ecosport was very positive but that does not mean all my experiences of products and services will be!

Putting the magazine together was a good reminder that the only thing that matters is the customer’s perception of their experience. It takes more than sticking up a banner saying we are all about customer experience if your customers hate you!

To view a digital copy of The Customer’s Experience, issue 1, click on the link below:

The Customer’s Experience Issue 1 – Single pages

To download a copy of The Customer’s Experience, issue 1 in booklet printing format, click on the link below:

The Customer’s Experience Issue 1 – Booklet Spread 

Do Board Directors understand cyber crime and what questions should they be asking their CIO?


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iStock_000016722977-cyber crime fighter

The  Economist Intelligence Unit recently published report provides a good quick read, which Directors and Senior Executives should find useful in thinking about questions they should be asking their CIO about their organisation’ s cyber attack prevention and attack recovery strategies.

The most telling finding in my view is that “The level of preparedness is being held back by a lack of understanding about threats.”

Directors need to understand technology so they can understand the threats and then take a governance oversight of the risk management the business has in place.

Directors who do not understand technology and who are not interested in learning, should think about safer occupations. The rise in activist shareholders could mean more private prosecutions of Directors who fail in their governance oversight role in protecting business from economic damage.

Technology and Law-Cloud Computing-new legal problems or the same old issues?

Over the last few months I have been looking at the range of practical and technological issues presented by moves into the Cloud, alongside the legal issues which arise. I have been asking the question “new legal issues or the same old problems?”

To help provide context and some answers we have created this graphic showing the evolution into the cloud and some of the structural changes in the way IT happens, so we can better identify the legal issues and then the legal solutions.

Computing from 1990s to 2000sIn case you are challenged by reading all this small writing there are 3 separate graphics of each phase.

Cloud Computing - On premise Cloud Computing - On Premise:Hosting Cloud Computing - Cloud