Archives for January 2012

Salmon Aren’t Very Bright

My thinking on this subject has refined over time since I first wrote this post, encouraging customer service to grab the brass ring and seek its seat at the strategy table, along side marketing.  the main reason?  I think that well-intended message has been distorted.

Just a random guess, but I’m thinking its safe to say there’s been thousands of blog posts written over the past couple of years declairing customer service is the new marketing.  I’m also guessing its safe to say that just about zero CMOs or other heads of marketing have since genuflected at the office doorway of their customer service bretheren in a demonstration of submission.  Just a guess.  

In most companies, marketing is king.  Always has been.  Marketing has the big budgets.  Marketing creates the positioning.  Marketing drives revenue (even though nobody can figure out how or why we even need to measure it). 

I’m not talking about a reversion to old internally focused, product centric culture.  No.  Customer centricity and a superior customer experience is still the goal.  Companies like Virgin, Zappos and Amazon will continue to create value through well designed customer-focused experiences.  But, maybe the better way for customer service to deliver on that goal is to work in support of marketing.  Allow each function to do what it does best, while learning the best parts of each others’ value proposition.  Customer service serves.  why not serve marketing? 

The role of the Chief Customer Officer has, in large part, been to bring these two functions together as equal partners. I haven’t seen an example yet of that one position being effective in accomplishing such a feat.  Two in a box on an org chart never works.  Somebody needs to be the king of the castle. 

How about the customer?

Experience Design Up In Flames

I was feeling cool, special, a little bit VIPish (if thats a word).

A few months ago, I finally forked over my seventy bucks and signed up for Amazon Prime.  I’ve been a big fan of Amazon for a long time.  And I’ve spent a fair share of my disposable income with them, a good bit of which has been on shipping charges.

But, I admit, it wasn’t until the third or fourth time I saw Mitch Joel talk about it at the SOCAP Annual conference last Fall that I took the plunge.

Then along came the Kindle Fire.  I felt hosed, ordinary, a little bit outcast-ish.

Maybe I’m being a bit over the top, a bit sensitive.  But, what I viewed originally as a well designed experience in my Amazon Prime membership, a membership for which I paid, was now being given away for free to those Kindle Fire buyers.  I’m not one.

I’m an Apple loyalist.  iPhone, iPad, Macbook Air, Airport, Apple T.V.

And because of that, I have to admit I felt a little sting.  I chose my platform.  I’m not buying a Fire.  So, why should that fact determine my value to Amazon.  I’m not the biggest spender.  But, I’m guessing I’ve funneled more of my income to Amazon over time than many of those Christmas Day Kindle recipients.

A core principle of good customer experience design is the demonstration of respect for and consideration of the customer, first and foremost.

I’ll bounce back.  But, Amazon extinguished a bit of my enthusiasm with this move.

Calling All IVRs

Yes.  All the buzz for the past couple of years in customer service has been focused on social.  And by that, many are still defining social customer service as answering inquiries on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s a topic for an upcoming post.

The point here is that the dominant channel of both service demand and supply is still voice.  But, while it seems like this channel is ripe for vast improvements in the customer experience and in efficiency, efforts to improve it have seem to become passe.  So, I’m declaring my self Mr Boring in a quest to solve this phenomenon.

I spent last year responding to any and all customer surveys that came my way.  I wanted to see what companies really did with my feedback.  And by in large, the answer was nothing much.  At least from the customer’s line of sight.

So now this year I’m on to IVRs and voice response self service.  I’m still really bullish on the potential of this technology.  So I want to call a bunch and peek under the hood. But I need your help.

If you have examples of companies that you think provide a really awesome (or really poor) voice response self service, can you do me a favor and shoot me the name of the company down in the comments?  In return, I’ll come back with hopefully some interesting, actionable findings.

Happy dialing!