Do you know what it’s like to be one of your company’s customers?
Jessica Bethune is HappyOrNot’s Vice President of Sales for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, where she is responsible for building and growing the business development, inside sales and sales teams in the field. Jessica spoke with HappyOrNot writer Tom Hagy of Philadelphia for our third installment of the HappyOrNot CX360༠ Leader Insights Series, where we will share thoughts and best practices for injecting customer focus into your organization’s DNA, and showing how CX will improve both your competitiveness and your bottom line. Our mission in producing this series is to help more organizations get CX right. Read on for what Jessica had to say about her personal experiences and why she is passionate about contextualizing data input from customers and integrating it with all your business intelligence.
Good CX companies look at themselves from the viewpoint of the customer and ask, “What is it like to do business with us?”
TH: Let’s get started with an easy question. What does customer experience mean to you?
JB: Good customer experience means creating a seamless journey for each individual. As a consumer myself, I don’t want to care about whether the person I am talking to is hired by a third party. I want my requirements to be addressed quickly – and if my counterparts are pleasant that’s a plus. Good CX companies look at themselves from the viewpoint of the customer and ask, “What is it like to do business with us?” What really delights me is when good customer experience is unexpected.
TH: What have you experienced, good or bad, as a customer yourself?
JB: I am a heavy business traveler. I spend 75% of my time on the road. We had been having a brutal heatwave across Central Europe this summer. When we’re hot in Germany our collective mood goes down. I arrived at the airport at 6:30 in the morning. The heat wave already had its grip on everyone. I was going to have to run to the gate, but I have to get my first cup of coffee to be an acceptable person. The woman serving me greeted me with a big grin and had such pleasure pouring my coffee and making sure I had a good start to my day. Now I am 100% sure she will get same pay whether I am happy or not, and I am 100% sure I will go back to her.
TH: It sounds like she was the right person for that position. Not everyone is such a natural fit like that.
JB: Yes. But even if you’re stuck in a job you haven’t dreamed of – it’s not your customer’s fault. Be the best that you can be. I shop at a large grocery store. This shop is more expensive than other local stores, but I chose it because of the friendly staff who remember me and because they carry the brands I prefer. The store manager regularly asks customers for their opinion and the responses are taken into consideration immediately. Now – imagine this approach not to be dependent on the individual but being a concept ingrained in the core values of the company.
“In a good customer experience operation, front-line professionals are given some authority to remedy a situation instead of repeating the same scripted answer over and over again.”
TH: What about an experience where you thought, “That company just doesn’t get it”?
JB: Sure, I have a recent example. The German soccer team was in the European Qualifiers and they were playing in my hometown against Estonia. I bought tickets online a while ago and they hadn’t shown up. I called the courier, a large three-letter logistics company to ask where my delivery was. The online portal said it was stuck in a warehouse just a few kilometers from my home. “When can I expect delivery?” I asked. The tickets were expensive and my kids were excited to see [star player and team captain] Manuel Neuer. Her response was “no go.” She essentially said, “You can’t call anybody. You can’t go on-site to retrieve them. The tickets either come or not. It’s bad luck. We can’t tell you when we will be getting this out to you.”
TH: So, in addition to not getting an answer, or your tickets, you were getting an attitude that she didn’t care enough to try and help.
JB: Yes. And she was not talking to me as an intelligent person. In a good customer experience operation, front-line professionals are given some authority to remedy a situation instead of repeating the same scripted answer over and over again. “I can’t tell you. There’s no information. Good luck.”
TH: What response would you have wanted?
JB: It all boils down to communication and trying to understand the situation. That’s where companies and their customer service can be much better. If they had said, “You know what? I’m really sorry. The package is stuck. While we can’t tell you when we will have it out to you, we can tell the ticket vendor to make sure there are tickets on site for you to see the game.” That’s all that I wanted. And eventually that is what happened.
TH: So in the end you got what you wanted.
JB: Yes, but I had to go through the whole process of organizing it myself. If she had communicated something helpful or demonstrated even a will to understand why this is so important to me and why I was so upset, then I wouldn’t have considered it such a drastic negative experience.A good CX operation gives its front-line professionals some authority to remedy a situation.Click To Tweet
“Many companies are dealing with customers globally. Companies get it wrong when they think one size fits all.”
TH: You have a large and diverse territory spanning three continents. So many cultural differences to navigate!
JB: Yes, and many companies are dealing with customers globally, so it’s critical that they understand that customer expectations and styles are different from country to country. Companies get it wrong when they think one size fits all. I work with customers in Europe and especially the UK, Germany, the Nordics and France and can see how differently customers want to be approached and engaged.
TH: What’s an example?
JB: In the UK, companies are more accepting of digital engagements and social media communications. In France they generally prefer one-on-one contact. These variances in expectations and cultural norms need to be considered if you want to achieve excellence with your customer operations center. The kind of CX data we’re able to provide helps companies see where these differences lie in real time, then they can shape their operations and business approaches around them.
“Smart companies can map out customer experience as a key performance indicator of their customer ecosystem.”
TH: Companies gather a lot of data like that. How do they put it to work, as you suggest?
JB: I have an affinity for contextualizing data. I love to see our customers take their feedback data and put it in context with the rest of their business. Painting the picture of a customer’s experience with input from multiple sources and touchpoints will bring more clarity to what their journey was like, and that helps inform managers and supervisors how they can improve. The results, once shared with stakeholders, can help streamline operations and increase sales.
TH: Do have an example of how that works?
JB: Several of our airport customers feed their HappyOrNot passenger experience data into their airport operations control center. They can follow travelers from the moment they enter the airport to take off and can easily see how the traveler’s experience impacts the time spent in recreational or commercial areas of the airport – including their spending habits. How nice or arrogant a security attendant was can affect the rest of their journey. It can mean the difference between the traveler waiting in an airport lounge or shopping, or just rushing to the gate to get out of the airport as soon as possible.
JB: They are one of the ones that get “customer-centric” right. Smart companies and businesses like that one can map out CX as a key performance indicator of their customer ecosystem.
TH: Your definition of good CX includes “seamlessness.” Can you explain what you mean?
JB: Here’s an example. Again, it’s from an airport customer. They told us, and I know this to be true from my own travel, that their customers don’t see the airport as a collection of separate parts or entities. They don’t care if it’s security, or facility management, a retail shop, or a food vendor. They just see “the airport” as one thing.
TH: So, it shouldn’t matter that these touchpoints are managed by different departments or even different companies.
JB: Exactly. I advocate making customer experience part of a service-level agreement with all vendors and service providers. This helps to make sure the passenger has a seamless experience flowing from one point to the next. In the end you want them to actually look forward to coming back to the airport, not dreading the experience.
TH: That makes sense when all the players are in the same location, like an airport or shopping mall. What about services that are not in one place?
JB: I mentioned our heatwave. I have a hybrid VW Passat, which would not start as a result of the high temperatures. After trying to start it I stepped out, then couldn’t even open the doors to get back in. I called VW emergency service. Now, I know they don’t send a VW mechanic. They contact someone locally. Even so, the local service called to tell me they were on their way and asked if I tried this or that to get the car started. They came and got it running. Afterwards, VW called me to see if the problem was solved. I bought the car from VW and VW took care of the issue. That was a seamless experience involving several companies.
TH: Let’s move to cost. How will all of this satisfy the CFO who wants to see ROI on every dollar spent?
JB: A very basic example: Our airport or retail clients can actually see their sales go up or down in tandem with the CX scores they receive. Every store, shop or restaurant knows the average value of each basket of goods a customer purchases. If that is $20 and the customer scores go up, they can calculate the increase in sales. Considering a rate of 10% unhappy customers with an average of 2000 customers a day – that’s $2000 out the door.Smart companies can map out CX as a KPI of their customer ecosystem.Click To Tweet
“Employee happiness is a key driver in staff retention.”
TH: Are some industries more in tune to CX than others?
JB: The retail and transportation industries get the value of CX more quickly than others. For them, customer loyalty and market share are critical. But the healthcare industry, which must pay close attention to costs, is realizing that patient satisfaction is becoming a key performance indicator for them. For private healthcare chains patient satisfaction is a huge differentiator.
TH: Hospitals are so different from retail shops or airports. How does HappyOrNot work in those facilities?
JB: HappyOrNot Smiley Terminals or Touches can be found at many patient touchpoints throughout large facilities, even in emergency departments. And this is important – hospitals are using staff feedback to help them retain quality doctors, nurses, and technicians. These professionals are expensive and difficult to replace, so they don’t want to lose them. Hospitals are putting Smileys in staff rooms and other locations where staff can lodge their level of satisfaction. Employee happiness is a key driver in staff retention, so the healthcare industry is looking seriously at CX.
TH: Generally speaking, how do employees react to having customer feedback terminals in their establishments? Are they threatened by a system that connects the customer directly to management?
JB: It’s important to bring employees into the loop and involve them in efforts to improve scores. Customer feedback reports have a big and positive impact on employees. For example, airport security can see why it’s important to be friendly when looking through someone’s suitcase and why yelling at people won’t promote happiness! They can see it quantified.
TH: Thank you! That’s about all I have. Is there anything else you would like to add?
JB: Just that I am a huge promoter of gathering business intelligence, integrating different data sets, and contextualizing it all to get a clear picture of the customer experience. I believe in using these data insights as key performance indicators and strongly encourage customers to put the data they already have at their hands to work in their businesses. HappyOrNot partners up with its customers to support developing long-term CX strategies and initiatives that have an impact on each part of our customers’ business and success.Employee happiness is a key driver in staff retention.Click To Tweet
As HappyOrNot’s Vice President of Sales for a vast territory comprising Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Jessica helps HappyOrNot customers understand how customer experience data, business intelligence and real-time advanced analytics enables stronger customer-centric operations, revenue growth, and reaching long-term corporate objectives. Jessica has proven track-record in operations management, enterprise customer engagement, and sales development in a variety of industries. Jessica understands the challenges leaders and managers face and is dedicated to solving them with the help of CX Analytics.
Tom Hagy is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and business owner.