Customer Experience Failure, Times 2

Here are two instances of poor business practices that lead to customer experience failure — from the same insurance company.

customer experience failure
Credit: Pixabay by Mona Tootoonchinia

Here are two instances of poor business practices that lead to customer experience failure — from the same insurance company.

My sister-in-law (SIL) has been a client of this insurance company since moving back from England 17 years ago. She has maintained both home and auto insurance throughout the 17 years. A couple of weeks ago, she received a letter letting her know they were going to cancel her homeowner’s insurance because her house was vacant. This was news to my SIL, because she’s lived in the house since September 2001.

My SIL goes by her middle name, and the insurance company had her first initial on the auto policy and her middle name on the homeowner’s policy. So the insurance company’s data stewards hadn’t noticed in 17 years that this is the same person at the same address.

Get your master data management practices in order.

Needless to say, my SIL is surprised and disappointed in this customer experience failure. I suggested she get quotes from other providers.

Insurance CX, Round Two

About the time this is occurring to my SIL, unbeknownst to me, I receive a letter from Trinet, my employment management company, with a special offer from MetLife. Because I had not checked rates in a number of years, I decided to get a quote from MetLife for my auto and homeowner’s insurance. I was stunned when it came in at $1,180 less than I was currently paying annually.

I called my insurance provider of 35 years and told it about MetLife’s quote. My provider said that sounded good and they could come down $200.

Thirty-five years = $200.

Sorry, my loyalty only goes so far.

I look forward to saving nearly $100 per month on insurance, as well as following the disruption of insurance as FinTech moves from banking to insurance, providing a better customer experience, more quickly, at a significantly lower cost.

Tesla, the Tornado … and CX, a Tale From the Chargeless Road

CX, particularly for a brand such as Tesla, needs to catch up with the user experience of operating these art-and-science vehicles.

CX lesson for Chet Dalzell
Photo: Chet Dalzell Gets a CX Lesson in Tesla Power Infrastructure, 2018. | Credit: Chet Dalzell

This is a CX tale. Summer goings-on took me to the highway this past week; and with it, concerns from a friend who is planning to drive her Tesla from Denver to Chicago over the coming weekend.

Tesla is an electronic vehicle, and its cars’ “fuel stations” are charging stations, spaced along the highways of America. Without a charge in a car’s battery, the vehicle cannot be operated. Tesla supercharging stations enable a battery to be fully powered in a matter of many minutes, rather than several hours via a conventional plug.

I love all things sustainable, And with it, the beautiful, sleek and very tech-savvy Tesla Model S she owns, with a desktop-size flat screen navigator, spacious sky roof and plentiful horsepower, among many other attributes, satisfies that love. She also owns a Ford 350 pick-up and a Toyota Prius hybrid. We happened to be driving in her pickup truck from western Nebraska (where we had attended a high school reunion in Ogallala) back to her home in metro Denver.

We’re racing along Interstate 76 at an undisclosed speed, when suddenly we see evidence of what had transpired merely hours before. We slow down.

As we approached Brush, Colo. — about 90 miles northeast of Denver — the uncharacteristic late July landscape of green suddenly turned brown, as if every scrub of grass had just been torn from the earth. The sage reduced to lonely stalks. Then, we see the power line poles snapped in two in the field alongside the highway. Even an exit sign is bent over and mangled. We were driving inside the aftermath of a tornado. (Thankfully, this storm injured no one.)

Then we arrived at the Brush exit ramp. A growing army of power vehicles were parked at the Shell station at the foot of the ramp, a sort of power restoration staging area. The gas station itself was damaged heavily — its roof ripped off the main building or caved in (or both), and the gas pumps stripped of their casing. It was surreal. Police tape and pylons restricted access to the one reason we took this very exit: to see if the Tesla supercharge station adjacent to the Shell station was online. Clearly, it was not.

Thankfully, we were in a pickup truck — and not the Tesla, which would have been in need of an immediate charge. My friend was planning her drive two days later to Chicago — and Brush, Colo., is the “first” supercharging station outside of Denver — a full two hours from the next charging station in Ogallala, across Colorado’s northeast border. She told me, with the downhill elevation from Denver to Ogallala, and all non-essentials (air conditioning, et al) turned off — she should be able to make it all of the way to Ogallala, without a charging stop in Brush. For her sake, I hope she’s right.

When ‘Real-Time’ Is Not Real-Time

With Tesla ownership comes a “community” of support for both the brand and electric automotive, in general. This was an introduction to me. All I own for transport is a Citibike key and a New York City MetroCard. Tesla has a branded app, and the e-car community has a non-branded app and site called PlugShare. The Tesla app is supposed to have real-time information on the online status of all stations — and if plugs are available within each station. PlugShare seeks to provide much the same.

At the time of our tornado discovery and aftermath, both apps still showed current power availability in Brush. But a look at the comments section from helpful Tesla and other electric car owners regarding Brush told the real, other story. There’s no power, and no indication of when it may be restored. Tesla owners also commented that they had reported the outage to Tesla by telephone, as early as 90 minutes after the storm. We attempted to call Tesla (some 20 hours after the storm) to inquire about expected restoration, but our call was put on a call-in-queue cycle, and after 15 minutes – with no hold notice on expected wait time — we gave up and hung up.

It wasn’t until the next day when we checked did we find that the Tesla in-car navigation, with charging station status information, had caught up to the Brush station’s still-offline status. Unfortunately, no further information on when the station may be restored was made available there.

In This Case: Why CX Needs to Be State-of-the-Art

Customer experience — particularly for a status brand, such as Tesla — needs to catch up to the user experience of operating these art-and-science vehicles. Especially for a network infrastructure so vital to electronic vehicle operation across distances. In this case, CX is also important to the entire user category. Plugshare helped augment these shortcomings, but Tesla’s CX might be a lot more urgent.

If Citibike can tell me via its app in real-time that docking stations have available bicycles or not, or which docking stations are offline, then why shouldn’t Tesla’s app at least be able to do the same regarding its network of charging stations, in real time? Even if a widespread or localized power outage might interfere with a real-time signal of status, why couldn’t Tesla at least post an in-app notice on its awareness of the incident, or respond to posted comments elsewhere? It might even offer a link to the local utility’s power restoration status, so Tesla drivers can plan their journeys safely and accordingly.

In this outage, it was Tesla owners themselves giving the status updates — via user-facilitated, third-party in-app content.

PlugShare, a third-party app with many more users, seemed to have more user comments about the Brush station status, with myriad reports from Tesla owners regarding the situation. It’s not unusual for non-branded community apps in any given category to be filled with such user information, typically reliable. In this case, brands and their apps should make a point to monitor these go-to third-party communities to react to comments and to keep their own customers informed and engaged there.

There may be extenuating circumstances in play here. Perhaps Tesla does all of the right things — but seeks to verify and validate before posting such information, I’m not sure. But gee, what a beautiful car, with beautiful performance. As an extension of the brand, the customer service experience needs to be equally on-point. For Tesla owners, it’s also a matter of not finding themselves powerless in Brush, Colo.

GDPR Leads Brands to Better CX

A year ago, most companies had no clue where all of their customer data resided, let alone whether or not it was secure. With the implementation of GDPR, and California’s digital privacy law scheduled to take effect in January 2020, companies have started taking their customer and prospect data, and its security, much more seriously.

A year ago, most companies had no clue where all of their customer data resided, let alone whether or not it was secure. With the implementation of GDPR, and California’s digital privacy law scheduled to take effect in January 2020, companies have started taking their customer and prospect data, and its security, much more seriously.

Most organizations keep their customer data in a customer relationship management (CRM) database. However, prior to GDPR, the information was incomplete, the accuracy of the data was not taken seriously, and the data was not secure due to a lack of business process management and master data management policies.

Based on the interviews I have conducted with IT executives involved in databases, big data, AI/ML and security, there has been a significant change in the past year; whereby, companies are now implementing and enforcing data management best practices and creating data Centers of Excellence. Employees are learning the importance of data and its security.

Given that a well-maintained CRM is necessary to deliver a great customer experience (CX), we can expect to see companies begin taking CX seriously, because they are getting their data in order and their competitors will begin using that data to deliver improved CX. We’re now in a race to see who can use data first and best to improve the CX.

Updated privacy policies and security protocols will increase the opportunity to deliver personalized and relevant information of value. In addition to getting consumers’ explicit permission to communicate with their customers and prospects, organizations will want to enact progressive profiling; whereby, they learn more about each customer or prospect every time they interact with your website or organization. The more you know about a customer, the more relevant you should be able to be to them by providing information of value while anticipating needs and wants.

Organizations need to learn what customers and prospects need and want to make their lives easier. This is key to building a disruptive business and earning a customer for life. Lyft has done this for me. Every time I need to travel to or from an airport, I no longer need taxis, rental cars or parking at the airport. Lyft has made my life traveling much simpler and easier. Lyft has earned a customer for life — or at least until its business model is disrupted.

A good CRM with proper data management processes is beneficial to organizations on several fronts:

1. The CRM serves as the repository for all customer data and enables customer-facing employees to have a 360-degree view of the customer so they understand the customer’s relationship with the company — interactions, products/services bought, considered, feedback. All customer-facing employees are able to see the actions that have taken place and know what actions need to take place in the future based on sales and CX processes.
2. Organizations are able to provide more relevant help and information; thereby, making customers’ lives simpler and easier. Some organizations, e.g. financial institutions, are already using predictive analytics to recommend the “next best action” for the customer to the employee.
3. The CRM can be integrated with calendars and marketing automation software for appropriate follow-up before and after a sale, for nurturing marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to sales qualified leads (SQLs) or to market to “lookalike” prospects.
4. The CRM provides real-time metrics enabling team members to see where prospects and customers are in the sales, post-sales, follow-up or problem/resolution cycle.
5. A sound CRM enables the organization to scale in a thoughtful way with proper data management, security and updates. Leveraging even more data to improve the CX.

How has GDPR affected your organization and its data management practices?

6 CX Best Practices That Aid in Customer Retention

Kudos to American Airlines for delivering a small, but very meaningful American Advantage upgrade — a great customer experience (CX). CX best practices like this aid in customer retention.

Kudos to American Airlines for delivering a small, but very meaningful American Advantage upgrade — a great customer experience (CX). CX best practices like this aid in customer retention.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to take a number of flights to user conferences that I write about. I always request American, because it’s the primary airline at my airport and I have a lifetime membership in its Admiral’s Club, based on my travel a couple of lifetimes ago.

After months of boarding with Group Six or Seven and playing roulette with whether or not I’d be able to get my carry-on in an overhead bin, I just got bumped to the gold level. That lets me board with Group Four — assuring me I will not have to check my carry-on. Little things mean a lot.

American never asked me about how important this is to me, but it’s huge — to me. Every customer will want something different with regard to a great CX. For customer retention, it’s important to “listen intensely” to learn how you can deliver a better CX.

Here are six CX best practices that come to mind for B2C and B2B organizations:

Document Your CX Best Practices

What are you doing for different customers, different personas? How are customers responding when you go above and beyond? Are you getting the customer feedback you expect?

Start With Your CRM Database

Start with your CRM database, your master data management practices and your business process management. A great CRM is necessary for a great CX. Your customer-facing employees need to know what has taken place with this customer previously, so they can provide more personalized service.

By the way, poor CRM data quality, poor master data management and documentation of business process are consistent pain points for companies attempting to make the digital transformation that will be necessary to provide a great CX.

Emotionally Connect With Your Customers

Understand what it takes to make an emotional connection with your customers — empathy. How do you get it? By having a conversation with your customers and learning what you and your competition are doing to help make your customers’ lives simpler and easier and what else you could be doing. Management hasn’t spoken with customers? Make sure your customer-facing employees are involved in this discussion.

Create a Customer-Centric Culture

David Ogilvy used to put an empty chair in the meeting, so participants would think about how receptive the customer would be to what was being discussed. In order for this to work, there needs to be a sufficiently diverse group of people creating the culture to accurately represent the customer’s point of view.

Engage Customers Via Social Media

Listen to them, respond to them, let them know you care about what they have to say by listening and responding in a timely manner. The faster you respond, the more your customers know you care about what they have to say. After eating 3,200 burrito bowls, Chipotle responds to my tweets in less than 30 minutes — I know they’re listening and appreciate me.

Check in After You’ve Made the Sale

Did the product or service your customers spent money on solve their problem or meet their expectations? If you don’t get a response, you have an engagement issue — especially if you’re a software-as-a-service provider. Learn what’s good and what you can do to improve. CX is a never-ending process.

What other CX best practices are you following or seeing others implement?

LinkedIn or Out: Customer Service Fail Is a CX Fail

Target Marketing readers obviously like to be “connected,” and displayed an unusual interest in a piece a few months ago which was not as kind to LinkedIn as it might have been. I was rather caustic at LinkedIn’s repeated efforts to seduce its regular basic account (Free) holders to Premium usage. A one-month free trial is enticing, especially when promised a reminder before the free trial ends.

Target Marketing readers obviously like to be “connected,” and displayed an unusual interest in a piece a few months ago which was not as kind to LinkedIn as it might have been. I was rather caustic at LinkedIn’s repeated efforts to seduce its regular basic account (Free) holders to Premium usage. A one-month free trial is enticing, especially when promised a reminder before the free trial ends.

LinkedIn notice for Peter J. Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

So far, so good — until you try and cancel the trial. The problem — in this case, I was charged for Premium after having cancelled well before the trial expiration date. I wanted the charge refunded. Now it is like visiting the house of mirrors at a carnival. It’s a LinkedIn customer service fail.

LinkedIn two LinkedIn notice for Peter J. Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

My LinkedIn Customer Experience

The way through the Help facility is easy and inviting. But once inside, you are turned around and around with dizzying regularity — from one screen to another — always being asked optimistically if the problem has been solved: and being offered nothing new when it has not.

Clicking on the magnifying glass takes you immediately to this helpful screen: The “Cancel Subscription” button on the right seems like a light at the end of the tunnel.

LinkedIn three LinkedIn notice for Peter J. Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

But, alas, no! All it does is cycle me back to nowhere with nowhere to go … unless, of course, I want to “Try,” “View,” “Buy” or “Buy” one of the products. And I’m not going there again.

LinkedIn four LinkedIn notice for Peter J. Rosenwald
Credit: Peter J. Rosenwald

LinkedIn Customer Service Fail

What is truly amazing is that there is no contact with anyone, live or robotic.

The fairly incredible irony of a company, with a mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful, is in not allowing the customer to have any contact with any individual. It would be laughable if it weren’t so profoundly off-mission. But it is. Jane, one LinkedIn executive contacted informally, admitted ashamedly: “You can’t talk to a live person. Even I don’t have any CS direct contact.”

Will I be able to do anything about having been wrongly charged and unable to reverse it other than refuse to pay, spend some time in jail making direct contact with some of the world’s unsavory professionals, and be no better off at the end of the game?

All I can ask you is to comment, tell me what you think of this CX and, most importantly, watch this space.

Creating a Culture of Wow Customer Experiences

I have urged many companies to differentiate on the basis of wow customer experiences, because the bar is so low. It’s also easier for a small and mid-size company than a large company to perform outstanding CX, because you can instill customer-centric values from the top down, as well as hire and promote based on the customer experience they are providing to both internal and external customers.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend two user conferences in two weeks. Both of the companies hosting the conferences are fast-growing high tech companies. One is a hybrid multi-cloud management platform and the other provides an artifacts management platform for DevOps teams.

The segments of IT in which both of these organizations compete are rife with competition, yet both companies are growing quickly and are delivering consistently outstanding customer experiences. One has an NPS score of 92; the highest I had ever heard of was 83 from USAA. The other has 97% customer retention and 245% upsell to current customers.

Both of these organizations understand the importance of listening to customers and helping them find value in their technology investments. In talking with customers and employees alike, it’s obvious these companies are differentiating themselves by providing wow customer experiences.

I have urged many companies to differentiate on the basis of wow customer experiences, because the bar is so low. It’s also easier for a small and mid-size company than a large company to perform outstanding CX, because you can instill customer-centric values from the top down, as well as hire and promote based on the customer experience they are providing to both internal and external customers.

Where do you start? With employees. While it’s important to meet monthly, quarterly and annual sales goals, you can make the argument that providing a great customer experience is more important; especially if you’re selling a product or service from which the consumer can select another provider at any time.

A great CX starts with your employees. Are they more concerned with making sure the client is happy with the experience they are having with your product or service or making their sales goals? If your customers are happy, you’re going to make your sales goals – maybe not this month or quarter, but over the long-term.

Happy customers generate more revenue and help you attract other customers. They serve as references, provide case studies, testimonials and referrals; thereby reducing, or amplifying, your marketing investment.

Engaged, empowered employees help provide a great CX. Do your employees know that’s what you expect of them?

CX Isn’t Hard, It’s Common Sense

I continue to urge companies to differentiate on the basis of customer experience — the bar is so low, it’s doesn’t take a lot of effort or money to impress. Just some common sense.

I just returned a pair of shoes to New Balance that didn’t fit. New Balance sent them back to me because it didn’t have the cheap insoles that came with them. I bought a pair of $45 insoles to go with the shoes and threw the cheap ones away. Luckily, I had already bought replacement shoes and had not thrown those insoles out, so UPS is getting revenue from two unnecessary shipments.

Obviously, New Balance has a policy about what constitutes “like new condition.” “Missing insoles” renders the shoes to be deemed “not in like new condition,” regardless of what else the customer ordered — $45 insoles, $70 pants and another pair of $80 shoes — enough to earn “silver” status in its myNBrewards program.

I was in the process of changing from Asics to New Balance, because my workout routine has changed. But New Balance has made a less than positive impression. While the company has mapped the customer journey, it didn’t get to the point where it considered returns.

In the future, I’ll deal with Zappos. The business makes it simpler and easier for me to buy and return shoes.

What’s the first impression your company, product or service makes on a prospective customer? Are your parking lots/garages clean? Are your entries/exits clean? Are your bathrooms clean? Do you offer free, easy to access, Wi-Fi? Is your website secure, easy to navigate and purchase from?

These are basic considerations for any business, whether B2B or B2C. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will ultimately help improve the customer experience, but you will still need people to help you make a positive first impression. A first impression is critical if you’re going to turn a prospect into a customer for which you can provide an experience.

I continue to urge companies to differentiate on the basis of customer experience — the bar is so low, it’s doesn’t take a lot of effort or money to impress. Just some common sense.

Marketing Promises: Does Your Brand’s CX Add Up?

Customer experience (CX) is more critical than clever ads and interesting content for getting new sales, securing repeat sales, referrals and loyalty. And it’s been this way for more than a couple of years. So how is it, then, that we continue to get really bad service from some of the really big brands that have the resources to really know and do better?

Customer experience (CX) is more critical than clever ads and interesting content for getting new sales, securing repeat sales, referrals and loyalty. And it’s been this way for more than a couple of years. So how is it, then, that we continue to get really bad service from some of the really big brands that have the resources to really know and do better?

Bad customer experiences, including difficulties customers have getting information about your products, not only kill sales, but can wipe out all of your efforts and spend on marketing, and actually backfire. Take this next statement seriously if you want to keep your job.

If your marketing promises a happy, customer-first friendly experience through words, offers and images, but your sales and customer service are not lined up to deliver accordingly, change your marketing or don’t market at all!

Missed expectations don’t just miss the mark, they miss the ability to generate trust, loyalty and referrals from customers. Oftentimes, they create such bad impressions people go to the competition and tell everyone how bad your business was!

Case in Point: Here’s a rundown of the experience I had just this week with Lowe’s while shopping for new kitchen countertops.

  1. Visit website and find no information on pricing for options listed.
  2. Go to the store and look at samples.
  3. Salesperson tells me she can’t help me, but the guy tied up on the phone can.
  4. Wait and he never acknowledges us, so we leave.
  5. Go to website and look for granite and quartz styles.
  6. Again no prices, no measurement guide or cost estimator to guide selection.
  7. Call the store again.
  8. Told I have to call the store closest to my house, as prices change at each location. (What? Does this mean they mark up prices when they think they can get away with it?)
  9. Call the local store.
  10. Am told sales rep is out to lunch and will call back.
  11. Never does.
  12. Connect with online chat that tells me they don’t have prices.
  13. Call the store again.
  14. Get sales rep, who tells me she’s busy, but will call me back.
  15. Never does.
  16. Get an automated email from sales rep per the online chat I did.
  17. Sales rep has no idea I am the one she told she’d call back, but never did.
  18. Email sales rep asking for prices.
  19. She sends me category prices, which are of no help as they are not listed on website.
  20. I email back as to what styles are in the lower category.
  21. She emails me names of styles that are not on their website.
  22. I delete the email and get an estimate for various options from Home Depot in less than 10 minutes, using its online estimator based on actual prices listed on website.

That Lowe’s experience involved 21 touchpoints or actions on my part that went nowhere.

A friend of mine bought a microwave from Lowe’s and paid for installation, which was promised in 48 hours. Instead, he got a series of unreturned calls, and excuses from employees, which included, “It’s been a long day so I can’t help you; I’m going home early,” over eight days. He returned the microwave and shopped local, where he got the same microwave for less money and got it installed in 24 hours.

Its advertising promise is, “Never Stop Improving.” But perhaps Lowe’s needs to change it to “Never Will Be Improving” as this kind of service, and difficulty in getting information about products you are trying to buy, is unconscionable and has been for years in this decade of customer experience strategy and technology.

On the other hand, Home Depot’s promise, “More Saving. More Doing.” was right in line with my experience. It DOES provide information about products online and on the phone. It DOES provide guides to help you determine what you need and what your costs will be, and it DOES help you save by offering discounts frequently. Even though it, too, didn’t return phone calls. I totally don’t get that for any business.

The purpose of sharing this story is not to call out Lowe’s, even though it deserves it, but to make a critical point. Your ad copy, marketing promises, content offers and more, MUST align with the experience you offer at all touchpoints of a customer journey. You can’t just come up with a great slogan that promises unexpected, delightful service and products. You have to deliver!

When people see slogans like “never stop improving,” they call or chat or go to the store with an unconscious expectation that their experiences will be an “improvement” over what others offer. When this does not happen, the levels of disappointment and respect fall deeper than if they had not seen your promise in the first place.

Unfulfilled expectations from slogans are much like “fake news,” as they become fake marketing promises that can kill a brand as quickly as fake news can a politician.

Take inventory of your customer service protocols and see just how well they align with your promises. Here are some tips:

  • Mystery shop your own brand.
  • Pay a friend to mystery shop and give the friend some tough questions or situations to pose to your staff.
  • Find out what your NPS score is. Do your own NPS survey and, if you’re a big brand, go see what SatMatrix and others list it as. Is your experience worthy of referring others or not?
  • Survey customers immediately upon purchase and ask them to evaluate their experience in their words.
  • Ask customers to rate their experience by the words you currently use. If you promise, “friendly,” “extraordinary” and “best in class,” how much do they agree with you?
  • Make employees feel like they matter to you and they will make customers feel like they matter to them. A simple, yet critical and often overlooked concept that costs almost nothing.

Actionable Takeaway: Define how you want customers to feel after every touchpoint with your brand. Create an experience protocol for all to follow that supports that outcome. Train your employees on how to deliver on your marketing promises, and make sure they are promises you can keep! Every day, every customer.

Automation Beating Humans at CX

What’s more important to customer experience? Your people or your automation? Recent evidence from the fast food sector isn’t so good for the humans. If you’re looking to build a great CX, it may be time to stop training your humans, and start building a better robot.

A Chinese maid service robot: Is this the CX customer actually want?
A Chinese maid service robot: Is this the CX customer actually want?

What’s more important to customer experience (CX)? Your people or your automation?

Recent evidence from the fast food sector isn’t so good for the humans.

Andy Puzder, CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., talked to Business Insider about his experience putting order kiosks in their restaurants to supplement human order takers. Puzder commented to Business Insider: “I’ve been inside restaurants where we’ve installed ordering kiosks … and I’ve actually seen young people waiting in line to use the kiosk where there’s a person standing behind the counter, waiting on nobody.”

Puzder is even considering opening a new restaurant that wouldn’t require human interaction, similar to Eatsa in San Francisco.

Such ideas are gaining traction across the industry. Not just because it could mean labor savings, but because there appears to be a customer base that prefers automation to human interactions.

And the reason seems to be … Millennials hate dealing with people.

That doesn’t just come from Puzder. Frischer restaurants in the Midwest U.S. did a study on their drive through traffic, and found that a third of 18 to 24 year-olds use the drive through because, “they don’t feel like dealing with people”

They prefer a process that, although not automated yet, is as close to automated as possible.

Human interaction isn’t helping the CX for them. Humans are ruining it.

So apply that finding beyond the fast food space. Where does that leave us?

For years we’ve been thinking good people are the key to good service. But what if the real key is automation?

After all, we already know customers don’t want a relationship with their cough medicine, they just want to stop coughing. If that’s the CX they want, why not let the robots do it?

I’ve long heard readers and contributors bemoan the loss of the human touch. … Maybe they only notice the lack of touch because they’re not getting good robots?

This isn’t just about machines replacing humans for productivity or financial reasons. It’s about an intuitive CX. If you know what your customers want, why do they need to ask a human for it? Why not just set it up automatically? Or on demand at the push of a button?

The Robot CX Uprising Has Already Begun

We can already see several very successful businesses that were built simply on improving CX by letting machines do what humans may not be very good at:

  • Uber automated your taxi dispatch and hiring.
  • GrubHub automated restaurant order taking and delivery.
  • Facebook automated friendship.
  • Amazon automated … well, everything about shopping.

Jeff Bezos and the robot uprisingSo if you’re looking to build a great CX, it may be time to stop training your humans, and start building a better robot.

American Modern Insurance Builds a Customer Experience

How Tammy Nelson, CMO of American Modern Insurance Group, is building a great customer experience for the insurance industry.

Building a great customer experience (CX) goes beyond streamlining the website or mapping the customer journey. It’s about consciously shaping how they experience your company. Not long ago, I had the chance to talk with Tammy Nelson, CMO of American Modern Insurance Group, about how the specialty insurance company builds a great customer experience in the insurance industry.

Tammy Nelson, CMO, American Modern Insurance Group
Tammy Nelson, CMO, American Modern Insurance Group

You can watch the whole interview as a webinar here, but here are a couple of the things I learned during the conversation:

  1. “Customers expect their interaction with you to be as good as their last great customer experience” (Nelson’s words). That is regardless of industry. So even though American Modern is an insurance company, their customer experience has to be as good as the last great experience their customers’ had. That could well be a company like Amazon or Zappos.
  2. Customer service does not equal customer experience as we know it today. It goes beyond that to their entire experience with your company and brand.
  3. Good experiences are table stakes, truly game-changing services are differentiators. To expand on that, Nelson says tools like chat, which American Modern has used with great success for customer service, are expected. Even though it may greatly improve the customer experience, that’s not a differentiator. Differentiators are the big game-changing ideas, like the Uber app.
  4. To break through the noise, become part of the customer’s experience. American Modern underwrites collector car insurance, and they made a connection with that audience by rebuilding a classic car and showing each step of the process on Facebook. Nelson says seeing the American Modern employees sharing their passion really created a great connection with that audience. Another segment they insure are custom residential insurance, and they did a house build to connect with that audience in a similar way.
The American Modern Insurance Group's "portfolio approach" to the customer experience.
The American Modern Insurance Group’s “portfolio approach” to the customer experience.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nelson went into detail on how they use a portfolio approach to the customer experience (in the image at right), the builds, differentiators and more. I encourage you to check out the full interview to hear all of that and more!