What I Learned About Customer Experience at the CXPA’s 2017 Insight Exchange

Why I Go to the CXPA Insight Exchange

Of all the customer experience conferences I go to the CXPA’s Insight Exchange is my favorite.

Newcomers are made to feel welcome at the CXPA Insight Exchange

Newcomers feel welcome at the CXPA Insight Exchange

Why?

  • It is just the right size (about 350 people). Not so many that you feel lost, but not too few to learn from.
  • People share and care. The level of openness about what CX practitioners and consultants have tried, what succeeded and what didn’t is amazing!
  • Newbies feel welcome. It goes out of its way to welcome newcomers and help them meet people.
  • It is fun. (Especially this year, with a blow-out party hosted by Customerville at the Wrigley Mansion!)

Here are some of the key points I took away from this year’s event, and I will be bringing you interviews with some of the speakers and participants on the Frank Reactions podcast over the coming weeks.

If you want even more, join the CXPA today and log in to access the member resources and sharing forum.

Customer Delight vs The Effortless Experience

The event was kicked off by one of my favorite CX researchers, Matt Dixon, author of The Effortless Experience. What I love about his work is that it is data driven, and he’s not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. For example:

There’s no question that delighting customers helps increase loyalty and positive word of mouth. (See yesterday’s post about car dealerships, for example.)

But it is hard to consistently come up with ways to wow customers, and to do so in low cost ways. And it is getting harder as the bar gets set higher in today’s social media world.

So what’s even more important is to make sure customers get what they want with as little effort as possible. And Dixon has the data to back that up: overall disloyatly is 96% higher if customers are put through high effort interactions.

He also noted that creating effortless experiences leads to a 94% repurchase rate versus 4% with high-effort experiences, and an 88% increased spend. How’s that for ROI?

Social Customer Service

Another bit of conventional wisdom busting: yes, it is generally best if you can resolve a customer’s problem in the platform they used to contact you, but 84% of customers will choose the easier effort customer service option, regardless of platform.

And often, for example, email or Twitter aren’t the easiest way to resolve a complex problem.

Give them the choice, but make sure one of those options is speaking to you directly. It can save a lot of back and forth time and possible misunderstandings. According to Dixon, email often ends up costing more to resolve a service issue than even a phone conversation.

Why User-Friendly Websites Are Crucial

Dixon also touched on a couple of my personal pet peeves, such as the mistaken belief held by many CEOs (especially those over 55) that customers would prefer to speak to you directly. Most wouldn’t, and the percentage who wouldn’t increases dramatically as your user base gets younger. They just want to get their issue solved as quickly and easily as possible.

Customers have  had years of training that telephone is rarely a fast, efficient way to solve problems. It starts with hold times, continues with having to dig up information such as account numbers, and gets increasingly frustrating with having to repeat your story over and over. Arghh…

The other reason why website usability is so important is that most people will check your website first to try to get their problem solved.

In fact, according to Dixon, 60% of people who call you for help tried online first, 35% are actually still on your website while they are talking to a customer service rep.

Think of all the money you could save if your website was actually designed to make it easy to find answers! And, even better, to head off questions through better up-front information. That’s why he claims that it is actually 37% cheaper to offer a low effort experience. (Once you get past the cost of setting up your systems to do so.)

So think about what the issues are that lead customers to call you. Figure out how you can prevent those. 

Also, train your customer service staff (and program your systems) to be aware of what the customer’s next likely problem would be, and proactively suggest ways to prevent it.

Again, you’ll learn what those are from digging into your call and complaint records. There are probably patterns.

Simple Writing is Powerful

Zoo Crew Campaign: Using Plain English instead of legal jargon increased sales and lowered complaints.

Zoo Crew Campaign: Using Plain English instead of legal jargon increased sales and lowered complaints.

Back in my days working at a bank, we came up with an idea of giving away stuffed animals in exchange for large deposits. Customers had to keep the money in the account for at least 90 days, and the animal they got varied depending on how much they deposited. The top prize was a life-size gorilla, which they got for deposits of $15,000 (nearly $30,000 in today’s money).

We had trouble keeping up with demand! The second year we doubled the amount they had to deposit.

The first year we ran it, we had quite a few complaints from people who hadn’t read the fine print and tried to withdraw their money before the 90 days were up.

Determined not to repeat this problem, the next year I battled the lawyers and the ad agency until I finally got permission to display the rules in plain English, in big, easy-to-read print. My superiors were terrified that we’d have huge numbers of cash withdrawals at the 90-day mark.

What happened?

Despite the doubling the amount they had to deposit, it was even more successful than the first year’s campaign. Not only did it bring in more customers, we had fewer withdrawals than the previous year, and this time we had zero complaints.

Innovating the Customer Experience

Moving past my fan-girling of Matt Dixon, many of the other speakers were also terrific!

I wish I could fly Southwest!

I wish I could fly Southwest!

Heather Figallo of Southwest Airlines spoke with humor about innovation and customer experience.

She noted that observation leads to the best innovation; often just tiny tweaks to a process make a big difference.

She also borrowed from Seth Godin’s mantra of “Just ship” to say:

Every time I hear about Soutwest’s wonderful approach to customers I suffer from airline envy. I still haven’t had the chance to experience Southwest for myself.

Employee Experience Improvement

A big theme of this year’s conference was the importance of employee experience to delivering great customer experiences.

Some of the ideas raised:

  • Non-customer-facing staff need to see how they fit into the bigger picture of overall customer experience.
  • They are grateful if given the opportunity to give feedback on their internal customer experience. Consider creating a “voice of the internal customer” program.
  • You may need to change how they get rewarded for improving things that improve the ultimate customer experience.

Show & Tell

CXPA show and tell sessions are like quick hits of a CX wonder drug. You learn what really works and what doesn't in customer experience from those in the trenches.

CXPA Show & Tell sessions are like quick hits of a CX wonder drug. You learn what really works and what doesn’t in customer experience from those in the trenches.

One of the unique features of the CXPA Insight exchange are the “show & tell” presentations.

These are short peer-to-peer sharing sessions where attendees hear about a specific tool, tip or tactic that has worked for customer experience practitioners.

I did a session on common survey design mistakes. Shoot me an email if you’d like to get a copy of it.

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