CXDrive – The Customer Experience Blog – Part 2 Prioritization

CXDrive – The Customer Experience Blog – Part 2 Prioritization

After analyzing the top 10 recurring things the focal team does you identified negative processes needing attention. The question remained, “How though do you prioritize your list?”

A good question that is answered based on the nature of the problems identified. The focus is on the customer experience, therefore the answer to the question lies in the impact each of the faulty processes or experiences have on the customer.

Keep it simple. The team needs to ask logical questions and consider the action required to fix the process:

  • Is the process broken or wrong? =
  • Is this purely a satisfaction issue?
  • Is this a financial or compliance issue? (You can only fix what you are able to change)
  • Can I do it differently?
  • What needs to be done? (Cross-functional discussion, escalation, etc.)
  • Will there be a cost to doing it differently?

The prioritization can then be based on more factors than simply the problem itself. Customer Experience is clearly a factor, but so are the elements of cost, effort to change and “political” situations.

The team needs to be able to make decisions and promote fixes to identified bad experience or processes.

Early wins install confidence and enthusiasm for process adjustment. These low hanging fruit changes can bring solid improvements but they are tactical “starter” benefits to the CXDrive approach.

Once early process items are in the process of being fixed, its time to turn to the meat of the CX problem, strategy. We will learn from some CX experts how they have addressed strategy through a series of interviews arranged for this blog.

Welcome to my 2014 CXDrive Customer Experience blog series. These blogs are cliff-notes from a future publication about the CXDrive process.

How To Have Effective Meetings – Organizer and Attendees

How many meetings have you attended where not all the attendees are prepared for the meeting, or worse still for a conference call, are clearly distracted by other activities going on at their desktop? In a world where meetings are increasingly held in a virtual workspace, its more crucial than ever to have effective meetings.


The truth is that in our fast pased business world the flow of information has become almost real-time and unless both the organizer of the meeting, and the attendees, take certain steps, the meeting experience will be mediocre, essentially ineffective.

Here are some tips to help you organizer better meetings and as attendees for you to better contribute to the meeting quality and achieve more effective outcomes.


  • Do check the calendars of attendees and if you have doubts about availability a quick call or clarification can help you get a better attendance for important meetings
  • Have meeting objectives clearly stated in the invitation
  • Lay out the agenda and stick to it during the meeting
  • Don’t waste time with small talk the start of the meeting. Save that for team meetings etc.
  • Repeat key points of the meeting during the call
  • Call by name people you want to contribute, make them be active in the conversation
  • Clearly lay out follow up actions and ownership of tasks
  • Send out meeting notes with responsibilities and commitments



  • Read the invite carefully and read any attached materials as soon as you get the invitation. Then, if you get busy at least you have read what you needed to up front.
  • Don’t wait until the meeting to look at the subject of the call. It should not surprise you that the edge of the pants approach to business communication is a pathway to failure
  • Use your calendar wisely. Do not overbook your day. You control your calendar, give yourself time before and after meetings to prepare or follow up.
  • People who jump from call to call simply cannot be effective in the long run. Don’t do it.
  • Instead, make people respect your time by carving out “get it done” time within your calendar and marking it as busy, then do the work you planned to get done!
  • Make yourself unavailable to other tasks like IM or your email, even your mobile phone during meetings.

These suggestions should help but what are techniques you have used to improve meeting quality?



CXDrive – The Customer Experience Blog – Part 1 Perception

What defines customer experience?

I took the picture below and you can imagine, I felt pretty good at the time. When I look at it now I am reminded not just of the beach and tranquility, but also the experiences that I had when I was there, my perception of the whole experience was built by the combination of postive or negative memories.

This simple example helps explain how a customer’s experience is defined. Yes, its made up of a number of factors including the individual, others influencing the experience, the environment, the location but most of all customer experience is about the mental perception of the customer.experience

As a first step to leveraging CXDrive, select a small cross-sectional team involved in delivering the customer experience at different levels, an agent, a back office team member, a team leader, a manager, a director perhaps. Your cross-functional team will depend on your business.

Now ask the team to list the top 10 recurring things that they do, the processes they use and to express on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is negative, 2 maybe negative, 3 neutral, 4 somewhat positive and 5 positive, how the customer perception is impacted.

Very quickly you will get your focal area of 1, 2 and perhaps to a lesser extent 3 identified experiences and processes that you need to focus upon. How though do you prioritize your list? Tune in to the next blog…

CXDrive is about getting quickly to what needs attention.

Welcome to my 2014 CXDrive Customer Experience blog series. These blogs are cliff-notes from a future publication about the CXDrive process.

Social Media For Business – How, What & Why?

An author in one of the LinkedIn writing groups in which I am a member asked the following and I thought it was worth a micro-blog and a more generic response to those who are looking at social media for their business or even their “personal brand“.

Would any writer like to take time to explain the ‘how, what & why” without too much technical detail of the social media sites available to writers?                   
Manager’s Choice

How – Google (yep, the verb!) “top 15 social media”. I suggest that you make a profile in at least the top five.

What – You should consider creating both a Facebook page (personal page for your professional author persona vs your own personal life page) and I suggest a “Facebook Page” advertising your work that could become the central place to which you can direct followers from other social media applications. If you have a web site or blog site, then it is to that location that ALL of your social media should direct readers or followers.

Twitter and Google+ take a little time to build correctly but you should be in there and at least link back to your main page/web site/blog. If you will have alot of visuals or can associate visuals to your personal brand, Pinterest is a good additional choice. Use it to share images from your books, their location settings or themes. Of course you can use other image tools for this too.

Social media is only as good as your followers or friends. With Twitter its an acceptable practice to follow people that you think may be interested in your brand and include them in messages about your brand. They will follow back if they are interested. The wider you spread the wider your coverage and potential audience.

In support of your social media you should examine tools such as Hootsuite to see if you can build a message for, and create interest in, your brand. These tools allow you to send timed Tweets as a way to keep your brand front and centre. Be careful of spamming though, too many repetitive boring messages is a sure way to lose followers and interest.

Why? – With patience social media can get your name out to places you may never reach with traditional advertising or word of mouth. We all need as much attention as we can get and if you are sharp social media can allow you to target your reader population effectively while allowing you to express creativity in new ways.

How do I create a Facebook page?

This is pretty easy, as you’d expect from one of the greatest data gathering systems worldwide! Before you start though, I suggest that you get a couple of graphics together that you want to show on your Facebook page. In addition, write out a plan for at least the next three months with perhaps weekly update ideas and graphics you will use to support your story. This will ready you to make best use of your page and you should have a habit of keeping ahead with your planning. You can also checkout other Facebook pages to see what you like and what seems to work. If you are not using your own graphics be sure to use public domain or properly licensed graphics.

So, how do you set it up? Well, I won’t try to out-simplify Facebook’s own Create a Page instructions but I can at least direct you to where the link is to do this.

On the far right of your regular Facebook page next to the globe where notifications show, there is an inverted triangle that is shaded – click on that and a pull down menu appears and you can select “Create Page” from there.

facebook create page
YouTube is a media based tool, so if you plan on adding videos, or even just audio, of readings of passages of your books, or perhaps details on where to look for your book, it has a use. It may also be useful for snippets of videos from locations you use in your books and you can link to it from your facebook page to lend a more social dynamic to your online persona.

Once again, deciding where your online presence will be and using all other social media tools to point people to that location will be the most effective use of social media for you.

This wasn’t intended to be the complete guide by any means… but I hope it helps!

Tech Trends for 2014

tech eyeIt’s November and technology observers around the world are looking ahead to 2014 identifying the key trends and developments. Gartner recently released their top 10 Strategic Technology Trends that appears to be largely based on the progress of the 40+ technologies they are focused upon in their “2013 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.” A Forbes contributor also recently released a more subjective list of seven trends to watch. The customer revolution and the consumer power that it brings continue to be a driving force for technology adoption and innovation. Here is what I see trending as my top three in technology, from a Consumer perspective. If you’d like a look at what I think is in store for B2B, check out this link (available at 9am 12th Nov)

My Top Three Consumer Tech Trends for 2014

1.       Online gaming steps up its efforts to own the online entertainment market

The console gaming industry has come a long way to become the multi-billion dollar industry that it is. Xbox Live has established itself as a premier global online community. Already, in addition to gaming, access to the web, rental or purchase TV episodes & movies, YouTube, Netflix and more are available. More is to come in 2014 with a special battle heating up.

Microsoft Xbox One, is leveraging of some of the most effective speech recognition (I said effective not necessarily best) and motion sensing in consumer products history through its Kinnect peripheral. Finally, at a level to challenge Xbox, Sony PS4 with its guaranteed 1080p game visuals and [touted] motion sense, are both launching in November 2013. We will see a shift in a world that was once a mere online gaming community as these two markets expand beyond the gaming industry to position themselves as entertainment portals.

For the first time since the PS1, Sony will be a real challenge against Microsoft’s hugely successful Xbox platform. New gaming titles of old favorites in the Battlefield and COD series, and newer titles taking full advantage of the underlying advances in console technology will hit the shelves. These platforms are taking the experience well beyond gaming, with advanced AI, increasing use of Kinect based technology for Xbox One, live TV, on-line game purchase and of course, Skype giving owners a golden opportunity to once and for all drop their home phone and consider video calls a part of everyday life.

Apple will probably continue to own the lucrative mobile device entertainment market through iTunes, but it will be watching its back as these giants compete. Why? Well, because being able to hook your home entertainment across devices and channels is very convenient compared to being tied to a computer or stuck within a device itself.

2.       Online wallet transaction choices will expand into real-world trading

New companies are emerging finding their niche in this market. Here are a couple of examples:

Bitcoin. This is a non-central banking company out of Vancouver that is fast emerging as the latest way to blend online wallet currency and real-world cash. Just days ago the first Bitcoin ATM went live in the company’s home city. As these technologies emerge and risks are better understood and managed, we can expect to see better choices for the consumer and more interesting offerings for services and sales through various online channels and globally in the real-world.

Another company, Square (recently featured on Bloomberg), is providing a card reader in the US and Canada with simple 2.75%/transaction rates for swiped cards, slightly more for manually entered, enabling a more predictable cost of sales for small businesses in particular.

How long will it be before many more service and buying portals/payment methods are simply a word away on your Xbox One or PS4?

3.       Expansion of smart phone market, Google Glass and other “Gear”

It almost goes without saying that we can expect more from the mobile consumer market, with a clear indication that Samsung and Apple are the present leaders.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear software retro fit to support Note 2 users is a smart move too. Other smart watch manufacturers like Pebble are trying to get into the mobile market.

Perhaps most anticipated from a gadget perspective, though at what cost is the Google Glass mystery release date slated for 2014. This has almost reached silence in the market (apart from the early adopter arrested for using it while driving recently). Perhaps Google is just trying to stay out of the console roar at present so there is less distraction prior to 2014 launch.

Glass offers a new experience bringing communications elements into a sci-fi like reality by providing the wearer (and as of Oct 2013 that includes prescription glasses users!) the ability to leverage speech to direct the device to interact with others, record videos, take photos and share socially.

Key to success will be how these devices deliver a different experience but maintain accessibility to traditionally commoditized capabilities (like making a call).

There are of course many initiatives in the technology world but these stood out for me as top trends to watch for in 2014. What do YOU see trending?

Check out this recent update!

The Trend To Social Consciousness In Business and Personal Life

Charlene deGuzman video on YouTube charstarleneTV

Follow the link above and consider why it tugs so meaningfully at your heart when you do.

Increasingly our attachment to our devices is commented upon with a joke or sometimes a frown. Whether we work at home offices or spend 12 hours in workplace offices our habits are sometimes becoming anti-social to the point of being classified as OCD!

While we monitor with interest the efforts of giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft and their “Android Wars”  or “mobile wars”, call them what you will, we are  seeing too a trend, across several generational groups, towards real social contact instead of a virtual reality, meeting and enjoying company IRL! 

The future of our past is here, people can live whole lives, disconnected, online and ultimately, alone. If we as a race continue in this vein, all the concerns about religious or sexual freedom won’t matter as our populations will suffer by the sheer lack of human interaction! 

I meet more and more people who cannot disengage from their mobile phone even for an hour. A meeting, a call we’re on, a walk in town, heck, I’ve been guilty of it too!

We all want to save a buck or two but it comes back to something I mentioned when Yahoo! went crazy on the work from home issue. Its community thats missing in our lives today, be it the neighbors we don’t know, the cold online world of social media or the lack of one on one collaboration borne through hallway chat and cooler talk for teams that benefit from close contact.

There is a trend to social consciousness in business and personal life that will not threaten advances but will help us all find good work/life balances. Lets respond to that trend and learn to actually spend the time we put aside with those we intend to spend it and not with our virtual responsibiltiies or co-workers, or social circles. Don’t worry, they’ll all be there when you get back from your meeting, bike ride, walk or your chat at the dinner table!

I’m off to see if I can practice what I preach now…


Why Do Companies Choose to Deliver a Sub-Standard CX?

yelling-at-computer pdI was writing a response to an article by Sunday Steinkirchner from a link on LinkedIn (thanks Colin) that talks about some shoddy customer experience and service. I realized that my reply was probably as long as Sunday’s article!  So, I didn’t post it, instead I added it to my blog – why do companies choose to deliver sub-standard CX?

The Forbes article is here 

This was my response:

I’m with the writer, Sunday, all the way, as I too am a champion for customer experience, however, as customers we sometimes don’t help because we go ahead and make purchases or don’t stand up to complain later so others continue to make our mistakes.

I think the discussion also opens up the question, “why do companies do this?”

Now, this is not meant to be a justification but hopefully it will set into context the mindset of some these merchants, particularly online vendors:

First off, costs in a retail store might be more negotiable but for online merchants these very costs are actually an opportunity for improved operational expense to be defrayed or added margin.

For example, the merchant may decide that in their business model they will likely be selling only once to a high percentage of their client base, or that something they are selling is so in demand that it will bear the price and the added shipping margins etc. The alternative to those merchants is a cost they feel they cannot or don’t want to bear.

Another example is that a “good” CX service call is often longer than a bad one, therefore costing more time and effort overall (yes, its open to debate and it can go both ways, cut me some slack I’m talking about the merchant’s viewpoint), the “quick buck” focused merchant may decide that’s not how they want to operate for the margin expectation on the product.

Giving away shipping costs on a $5000 purchase sounds like the thing to do but doing that actually becomes a fairly big cost to a merchant as each transaction bites into the bottom line.

Insurance coverage to bring a furniture item beyond the front door might be prohibitive or cause such an increase in shipping costs that the merchants determines its just not worth it. Many furniture retail stores have tried that too and increasingly have a “delivery charge” that captures that cost.

Good service does not necessarily mean giving away money or services themselves, it means making the customer so satisfied with the response, be that positive or ultimately not so positive (like, I can’t put on an additional boat from China for your porcelain doll to arrive earlier!), that they talk about your business, or buy again in the future.

The kind of merchants discussed in the article do not get it but they might have other reasons for choosing the path they took.

Look at the situations that were discussed and you will see that Sunday’s company bought the books, they paid the invoice(s) and they purchased the coffee table. In each case, the [offending] merchant got what they wanted.

If we buy from them, they will continue their habits so, stop buying or make sure you advertise their error (for example that guy who recently paid for a Tweet to “air” his
British Airways baggage problem)

Fortunately, Sunday speaks out! Will you?

Microsoft acquires Nokia – in times to come will this be called “The Android Wars?”

I just read an article about mobile phones that didn’t mention Apple at all. Think about that. Just a year ago it was almost impossible to talk mobile without mentioning the iPhone. Much is changing and it is with great interest that we turn our attention to what might one day be known in social media and technology terms as “The Android Wars.” This now looks  more certain to be culminating in a three-way battle between Apple, Google’s Android (supported primarily by Samsung but including Google’s own Nexus), and Microsoft.

The surging tide of Android was taking Google to world domination and although it slowed recently, the sales leadership, in the US for instance, is still very strong. The general public has been persuaded to like the “open” and rather uncontrolled Android platform development environment. Access to countless P2P applications has ensured that owners who simply cannot afford to purchase media find the platform attractive to get to the content they want but this could be tempered soon by the fact that most countries are leveraging ISP information to start attacking piracy more effectively.

Blackberry’s struggles leave a potential gap of 5-6% of US market sales up for grabs and this may be an immediate focus. Globally, the feature phone market is still a strong target for all Smart Phone vendors and one article suggests Windows has been doing well in that growth area. Microsoft’s not so surprising acquisition of Nokia’s handset business means that once again there is a tight alignment of a software giant with the hardware delivery device that makes for interesting predictions.

Samsung has done well with Android but do they have the software power of either Apple or Microsoft when it comes to driving exciting, portal based user experiences? No, that power is Google’s. If you have followed Samsung Apps since the beginning you will realize just how slow they were to launch the software side of the platform benefits, they have not really improved it much and it’s in competition with the operating system’s Google Play offering that has it whipped for adoption. Google and Samsung are essentially two companies in a partnership of necessity that will remain as such, reducing the options they have against Apple and Microsoft who both own their mobile platform and software development. There is speculation (in that article above that I linked first for example) that Samsung might drop their low key Windows offerings, if I were them, I’d step it up! Their benefits will be in mobile sales rather than the OS that sits upon it, if they do what they do well, delivering strong featured devices (love the Note, S3 & S4!), across platforms, they will continue to impact the iPhone market share.

I see Google pushing their Nexus brand as a priority and examining some of the delivery mechanisms for Google Play and adding focus on Google Chromecast that will drive the software platform as well as mobile sales.

This is a war about gaining and holding user attention that has traditionally been “owned” by Apple, however, Apple is increasingIy seeing users frustrated with the cost of iTunes music and shows, looking for something better and usually cheaper than their  traditionally top dollar offerings. There is a reason Mac is not the world dominating presence its quality suggests it should have been. Perhaps the Apple vault value (just how much have YOU invested so far?) will be a factor but as has been seen in the past, there is usually a way past that kind of proprietary lock in.

Much said, but very little about Microsoft and its Nokia acquisition. What will this mean for the market? I think that it depends on the battle against piracy, the successful pricing of content in the competitive marketplaces and on winning new subscribers outside the fast moving markets in Europe, North America and Asia. The reason smart phones are attractive is because they can deliver so much more than a feature or regular phone, so many users want content without cost which is a primary driver for why Android has such a following. This means that in the developed western world the one, two, three will probably be as follows for the near term: Google Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows Phone, whereas in the growth markets, Windows phone will gain a huge push from the Microsoft marketing machine. I think this will be significant enough to move Microsoft higher and certainly as countries up the  ante on piracy action, will reveal a greater strength for the brand and its Marketplace.

With control over the hardware platform as well as the software Microsoft comes into its own and has all the tricks (okay, “strategies”) needed to make a great play in the stronger markets too!

Consider a similar example. Five years ago if you suggested that Microsoft might be delivering enterprise voice to companies 90% of IT and probably 99% of Telecom people would have said, “nope, not ready for prime time!” Microsoft invested in this arena big time, including a huge amount of visioning, development of their OCS platform and an equity investment in  a contact centre company with huge visibility to mission critical voice apps. Today, most companies examining voice over IP strategies and unified communications DO look at Microsoft as one of the MAJOR choices globally and they think hard if they want the old hardware centric choices versus the software rich Microsoft offerings.

Over time, I see Microsoft coming out on top in The Android Wars, but its going to be a long war with plenty of interesting battles!


[note: if you are visiting this page again you may notice some editing from the original post - ajh]

Contact center leaders focus on the INTELLIGENCE layer for business optimization

It’s bugging me. Next generation contact centers and SIP in the same sentence are almost meaningless. “Grow your contact centre on SIP”, as if it’s a panacea. It just supports the transport communications for voice, that’s it! It doesn’t even transport the voice itself, that’s happening on another part of the network! Basically, to provide contact centre technology you have to work with most of the physical or network layer stuff that’s out there, period.

If you make the statement that you are delivering a “next generation” solution in the contact center space, you really need to step up to it. To sit back on the idea of SIP being some kind of godsend is ridiculous. Its great, it helps, but in no way is it the foundation of the value you want from a contact center. What’s a big trend in large companies right now? Isn’t it questioning how to get all that business data together to be actionable? It’s known as “big data”. Being able to leverage this intelligence layer effectively will be a business differentiator for you. Being able to improve your operations, your agent quality, your customer experience will impact your future business position.

How then will your next generation contact center leverage big data and the intelligence layer above it to drive value to your business and efficiency to your operations?

To help explain my thoughts on this take a look at the picture below.


Focal Area - Intelligence

Focal Area – Intelligence

Food for thought?

Customer Experience Trends and Technology

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