I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey.
Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum.
My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers.
I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.
In our latest consumer benchmark study, we asked more than 5,000 U.S. employees what they felt was the most important thing they want to accomplish at work. The top motivator, by a very large margin, is Making a positive impact. This option was chosen three times more frequently than the next highest option, Earning a lot of money.
I also examined the data by age groups. It turns out that almost all of the items are very correlated to age. Making a positive impact starts at 27% for the youngest workers and grows to 59% for the oldest group. Advancing your career starts off at 22% for the youngest group and drops to 2% for the oldest employees. The bottom line: Help your employee make a more positive impact.
As a die-hard Red Sox fan, I really enjoy watching the MLB playoffs. As a matter of fact, baseball is one of the two major U.S. sports that has gained TV fans since 2012 (see our Fan Experience Benchmark). But even with sports on TV, I couldn’t hide from the news updates full of partisan political bickering. So it made me think… what are the political views of baseball fans?
I know that’s a pretty obscure question, but it turns out that we have the data to figure it out. In our Q1 2018 U.S. consumer benchmark survey, we ask about the sports that people like to watch on TV and we also asked about their political leanings. As you can see in the graphic below, baseball fans are decidedly more republican than the general population.
Temkin Group has labeled 2018 “The Year of Humanity.” To support this theme, over the past year we have conducted research and developed content – such as this eBook – specifically aimed at helping fellow CX professionals improve the world around us. In this eBook, Humanizing Customer Experience, you will learn about:
Many large companies use Net Promoter® Score (NPS®) to evaluate their customers’ loyalty. To compare scores across organizations and industries, Temkin Group measured the NPS of 342 companies across 20 industries based on a survey of 10,000 U.S. consumers. Here are the highlights from this benchmark:
With an NPS of 65, USAA’s banking business earned the highest score in the study, followed closely by its insurance business and Navy Federal Credit Union.
Spectrum and Consolidated Edison of NY received the two lowest NPS, with scores of -16 and -12 respectively.
The industry average for NPS ranged from a high of 39 for auto dealers and streaming media down to a low of 0 for TV/Internet service providers.
USAA’s and Navy Federal Credit Union’s scores both outpaced the banking industry average by more than 40 points, while Motel 6’s and Super 8’s scores both fell nearly 30 points behind the hotel industry average.
Only five industries saw their average NPS increase over the past year. Of those, airlines’ and utilities’ scores increased the most, going up three points each.
Although a majority (54%) of companies’ NPS declined over the previous year, three companies – BCBS of Florida, Fairfield Inn, and Ameren Illinois Company – actually increased their NPS by more than 20 points since 2017.
18- to 24-year-old consumers give companies the lowest NPS, with an average score of 3 across all industries. Meanwhile, two age groups – consumers between the ages of 25 and 34 and those who are older than 74 – tied for giving the highest NPS, with an average score of 36 across industries.
NPS is highly correlated with customer experience. On average, customer experience leaders enjoy an NPS that is 21 points higher than the NPS of customer experience laggards.
One of the key ingredients to a customer-centric organization is Purposeful Leadership. To keep an entire company moving in tandem, leaders must articulate and commit to a clear purpose – one that aligns all employees’ day-to-day decisions and is more compelling than simply increased profits. What does that look like?
This video from Oxford Properties‘ CEO Michael Turner is a great example of Purposeful Leadership in action (thanks to Roger Pugsley for sharing it with me). As you can see, Turner doesn’t just send out emails saying that customer experience is important, he commits his time and energy to making it a reality. It’s one of the reasons that Oxford has won Temkin Group’s CX Excellence Awards.
Throughout the year, Temkin Group has been focused on making 2018, “The Year of Humanity.” As a part of our commitment to this critical theme, we developed a highly interactive workshop “Humanizing CX,” which I’ve led for 10 Customer Experience Professionals Association local networking events in cities across the U.S. and Canada.
It’s been an amazing experience to see the overwhelmingly positive response from more than 600 CX professionals.
The workshop has a simple agenda, examining how attendees can improve humanity:
As CX professionals
As a collective CX community
For those of you who have not been able to join, I thought it might be nice to capture some of the highlights of the workshop. So here goes…
Improving Humanity As Individuals
We start the workshop by examining how we, as individuals, can improve humanity based on how we interact with the world around us. Here are some highlights:
How happy are you? In order to improve humanity as individuals, you need to start by focussing on the most important person — the one you see in the mirror. Think about it, have you ever improved humanity when you were “hangry” (hungry and angry)? It’s important for us to think about our personal frame of mind, because that’s what we reflect on the people around us. That’s why we start the workshop by having people complete Temkin Group’s Happiness Assessment, which uses 5 simple questions to gauge an individual’s happiness against a benchmark of 10,000 U.S. consumers. The takeaway from this section is that you need to be mindful of your personal state in order to be a positive impact on others.
Embrace Diversity. To highlight the fact that people have lost the art of engaging effectively with people who have a differing point of view, we ran an exercise where attendees broke into pairs and had to find three things about which they totally disagree. It’s fun as the room buzzes with conversation and laughter. The individual pairs always find a bunch of interesting areas of disagreement. Afterwards, we discuss why these discussions didn’t become argumentative as do many disagreements in other parts of our lives. Here are some of the takeaways from the exercise:
These discussions were not generally about important topics. Very few of our disagreements are ever about truly important things. We just need to remember what’s truly important to us — which is not always trying to get someone else to share our opinion.
The exercise forces people to find things they agreed upon along the way. In most cases, we tend to have a lot of things that we agree upon that get pushed aside when a disagreement happens. So it’s productive to find the things that you agree on, before you dive deep into the disagreement.
We were in it together. Everyone was participating in the same exercise, which gave the group a common goal. This is similar to the previous bullet about areas of agreement, but it’s a bit more specific. We need to align around the purpose of our discussion and the greater good that might come from finding common ground.
The discussions were face-to-face, which allowed more mutual adjustments. I ask the audience if they have ever seen someone on Facebook who has a pretty sever point of view being swayed by disagreeing comments. If we disagree, the closer we can get to dealing with it face-to-face the better.
I often end this section by mentioning the need to assume positive intent. The other person may not have the same point of view as you, but they have the same right to their point of view as you do to yours.
Extend Compassion. All around us there are people who can use our love and care. We are often so distracted that we don’t even notice them. But we should. Helping other people is not only a noble activity and wonderful for the other person, but it is also great for the giver. You get an amazing feeling when you help other people. To share that feeling with the group, we had attendees pick from one of 15 charities, and Temkin Group donated $5 to each of their selections. In total, we are donating $3,000 on behalf of the CX community. Our goal in that part of the session was to have the group collectively experience the feeling of extending compassion. If we can remember that feeling, then we can look for more of those opportunities.
Express Appreciation. We asked the groups how many people felt like they spend enough time showing appreciation to the people around them. Very few people raised their hands. Expressing appreciation is another activity that pays the giver as much as it does the receiver. So we asked everyone in the group to send a message of appreciation (text/email/etc.) to a person who they feel deserves it from them. In a couple of cases, attendees sent the message to their teenage kids and received a version of this message in response “wtf. u ok? luv u back.” That’s about as good as it gets from a teenager. Our recommendation to the group was to find some time during the day, during breakfast, before or after lunch, before or after dinner, when you can consistently find 5 or 10 minutes to dedicate to sending messages of appreciation. Make it a habit!
Improving Humanity As CX Professionals
For the second part of the workshop, we focused on how we could improve humanity in our roles as CX professionals. Here’s how we flowed through that section:
Understand human beings. If you look at any part of a CX professional’s job, one thing jumps out — it’s all about people. Customers, internal stakeholders, executives, and partners are all human beings. The job of a CX professional is to influence how those people think and behave. So we start this section by providing a framework for understanding (and influencing) people, our Six Key Traits of Human Beings: Intuitive, Self-Centered, Emotional, Motivated, Hopeful, and Social.
Act with purpose. To drive change, you need to align the direction of lots of people across an organization. This requires what Temkin Group calls Purposeful Leadership. Through a dissection of a Steve Jobs speech, we helped the group understand what we call the Five Ps of Purposeful Leaders: Positive, Passionate, Persuasive, Propelling, and Persistent. We then took the group through an exercise where they compared their own leadership approach to a leader that they admire. Our goal was to get each attendee to identify one “P” that they are committed to improving.
Cultivate deep empathy. A lot of the things that CX professionals do can be described as trying to raise employees’ empathy for customers. So we started this part of the workshop with an exercise that highlighted our natural empathy, and explaining that human beings experience both cognitive and emotional empathy. As CX professionals, we need to elicit both of these when we are trying to influence other people. That’s why it’s so important to accompany customer insight data with stories about specific customers. It also turns out that employees encounter many factors that inhibit their natural empathy, so we discussed the Five Ways That Organizations Crush Customer Empathy.
Create positive memories. It turns out that loyalty isn’t based on what people experience; it’s based on what they remember about those experiences. And memories can be quite different than actual experiences. That’s because our memories aren’t like YouTube videos. Instead, our memories are more like Instagram photos that we take at interesting moments in our lives. We remember our past by creating a story that links together those selected photos. During the workshop, we discussed how to focus our efforts on affecting the moments that people remember. This is a critical component of experience design.
Improving Humanity As A Collective CX Community
In the final section of the workshop, we broke into small groups (2 to 3 people) to identify an idea about how the CX community could collectively help humanity. The groups then submitted their ideas online, which we’ve listed out on the humanity workshop page. Temkin Group is committed to selecting one of those ideas and leading it forward. Please take a look and share your ideas in the comments section on that page.
The bottom line: Please join Temkin Group in making 2018, “The Year of Humanity!“
Hopefully you know by now that Temkin Group has labelled 2018, The Year of Humanity. We’ve been trying to propel people to embrace diversity, extend compassion, and express appreciation.
We’ve been doing research as part of that effort. In our latest consumer benchmark study of 10,0000 U.S. consumers, we added questions about how often people demonstrate those three behaviors. We then analyzed their responses based on how they rated the customer experience (CX) that their organization delivers. As you can see in the graphic below:
When the level of CX improves, so does the prevalence of the three behaviors.
For companies with above average CX, at least 70% of them have employees who mostly demonstrate the behaviors.
For companies with below average CX, no more than 33% of them have employees who mostly demonstrate the behaviors.
The bottom line: Improving humanity is great for employees and customers.
Are you proud of the work that your organization is doing to deliver great customer experience or to improve its customer experience? If so, consider submitting a nomination for Temkin Group’s 6th annual Customer Experience Excellence Awards.
The award is open to all organizations around the world, whether their customers are consumers, fans, visitors, students, citizens, companies, patients, or any other group.
Temkin Group publishes a large amount of industry- and company-specific research, so we often do webinars that highlight what’s happening in customer experience in those industries. Over the next couple of months, we plan to hold free webinars in the following areas:
For the seventh year in a row, we have calculated the Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) of over 60 technology vendors and analyzed the correlation between NPS and four client loyalty behaviors – likelihood of repurchasing from that technology vendor, likelihood of trying new offerings, likelihood of forgiving the vendor if it makes a mistake, and willingness to act as a reference for the vendor. To gather this data, we surveyed 800 IT decision-makers from large North American firms about their relationships with their technology providers. Through this research, we found that:
Across the 61 tech vendors we examined, NPS ranged from +51 to -22.
VMware, IBM software products, DellEMC, and Microsoft server software earned the highest NPS, while Check Point, Splunk, and Alcatel-Lucent received the lowest.
Overall, the average NPS for the tech vendor industry stayed steady from last year, declining only slightly from 21.4 in 2017 to 21.2 this year.
Our analysis shows that NPS is strongly correlated to customers’ willingness to spend more with tech vendors, try their new products and services, forgive them after a bad experience, and act as a reference for them with prospective clients.
In addition to examining NPS, the research also provides a benchmark of several areas of loyalty. IT decision-makers are most likely to purchase more from DellEMC and Microsoft server software, try new offerings from Oracle outsourcing and Dell outsourcing, forgive Oracle outsourcing and Micro Focus if they make a mistake, and act as a reference for AWS and IBM outsourcing.
Many common beliefs about customer experience are misguided, based on oversimplifications or a lack of consideration for real-world constraints. In this series of posts, we debunk these myths.
CX Myth #3: You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure
What’s Wrong: When people talk about CX, they often repeat a popular saying “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” That’s just not true. Most of the things we manage in life don’t have a formal measurement. Every day we wake up in the morning, get dressed, and get to work – all without any specific measurements. The same is true at work, and with CX. If we see an employee make a client upset, we don’t need a score on a customer survey to know that it’s a problem.
What’s Right: The correct saying should be “you can’t manage what you don’t understand.” Unfortunately, leaders sometimes just slap measurements on CX, which leads to the suboptimal approach of blindly managing by the numbers. When you talk with customers and employees about different aspects of customer experience, you can often discover insights that either never show up in your measurements, or appear long after you should have known about them. Ideally, you use CX measurements to enhance your understanding, not to replace it.
What You Should Do:
Increase leadership CX IQ. If you want leaders to be less metrics-centric and more successful at driving an organization towards becoming more customer-centric, then those leaders need to have a clear and consistent view of how a customer-centric organization operates. A good place to start is by having leaders review Temkin Group’s CX Competency & Maturity Model. After that, you can create measurements that map to the leaders’ understanding of CX.
Prune action-less metrics. Since leaders are often enamored with metrics, they tend to track an increasingly larger number of them over time. The growth remains unfettered, as very few organizations have a good approach for stopping measurements once they’ve been created. Every year or so, companies should have a metrics cleansing period, during which time there’s a pro-active focus on removing metrics that have not recently provided demonstrable value.
Prioritize qualitative research. The push to metrics often causes organizations to put most of their market research budget on quantitative studies that result in trackable measurements. But deep insights into customers often comes from qualitative studies that examine why customers think and behave the way that they do. Look for places to explicitly fund more qualitative studies by cutting back on the least impactful quantitative studies.
Measure collective results. CX success requires efforts across an entire organization. So watch out for measurements that isolate the activities of individual people or teams. The narrower the measurements you use, the more likely you are to de-incentivize collaborative behaviors. Focus on metrics that capture real-world team-based activities.
Look for leading indicators. Most metrics represent backwards-looking scorecards, describing how an organization performed in the past. While a retrospective view can be helpful, it’s more valuable to understand what activities will impact your organization’s future CX trajectory. Use predictive analytics to identify what activities with different customer segments will most improve your CX metrics in the future.
The bottom line: CX insights don’t always require CX metrics.
Yesterday, with the passing of U.S. Senator John McCain, the world lost a true statesman. Even if you disagree with some of his political positions, it’s hard not to admire the way he led his life. He dedicated his adulthood to service, always looking for ways to collaborate—even with members of the opposite party.
Here are a few of his quotes that capture the essence of this perspective:
In the real world, as lived and experienced by real people, the demand for human rights and dignity, the longing for liberty and justice and opportunity, the hatred of oppression and corruption and cruelty is reality
Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again.
Our political differences, now matter how sharply they are debated, are really quite narrow in comparison to the remarkably durable national consensus on our founding convictions.
John McCain was a role model for what Temkin Group has called The Year of Humanity. Throughout his life, McCain has demonstrated our key principles:
Embrace diversity. Recognize our differences and find ways to treat people as individuals.
Extend compassion. Tune into the condition of the people around us and care about their well-being.
Express appreciation. Proactively look for and acknowledge the positive aspects of the world around us.
I hope that John McCain’s memory will motivate all of us to treat each other with more civility.
R.I.P. John McCain.
I’ve updated this post to add John McCain’s farewell statement…
My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,
Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.
I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.
I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes — liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.
Fellow Americans’ — that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.
We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.
We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.
Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening.
I feel it powerfully still.
Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.
Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.
This video explains The Six Laws of Customer Experience. By understanding these fundamental truths about how people and organizations behave, companies can make smarter decisions about what they do, and how they do it. You can download the free eBook and see our infographic.
Did you know that the CX institute offers eLearning courses to train your entire organization on the Six Laws of CX?
Just like the laws that govern physics, there are a set of fundamental truths that explain how organizations treat their customers. We call these “The Six Laws of Customer Experience:”
Anyone looking to improve customer experience must both understand and comply with these underlying realities.
<<NOTE: Here’s an infographic that lays out all of the laws>>
The first law is Every Action Creates A Personal Reaction. Simply put, the quality of an experience is entirely in the eyes of the beholder. An experience that is delightful for one person may be terrible for another person. When it comes to customer experience, one size does not fit all.
Law #2 is People Are Instinctively Self-Centered. Everyone looks at the world through their own frame of reference, and these unique perspectives heavily influence what they do and how they do it. Customers, for instance, care about their own needs, desires, and goals. Employees, on the other hand, have a deep understanding of their company’s products, organizational structure, and processes.
The third law is Customer Familiarity Breeds Alignment. A clear vision of what customers need, want, and dislike can align decisions and actions across an organization. When employees share a common view of who the target customer is, and they have easy access to customer feedback, there will be fewer disagreements about the best ways to serve these customers.
Law #4 is Unengaged Employees Don’t Create EngagedCustomers. Walt Disney once said “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” He understood the importance of focusing on employees. The data supports that view. Companies with great customer experience tend to have significantly more engaged employees than do their peers.
Law #5 is Employees Do What Is Measured, Incented, and Celebrated. Some executives struggle to understand why their employees don’t treat customers better. But it isn’t a mystery. Employee behaviors can almost always be explained by the environment they’re in. What creates that environment? The metrics the company tracks, the activities it rewards, and the actions it celebrates. Collectively, these three factors shape how employees behave.
The final law is You Can’t Fake It. While it is possible to fool some people some of the time, most people will eventually discern what’s real and what’s not. In the case of customer experience, this means that employees will sense when customer experience is not actually a top priority, and customers will not be convinced that you are more committed to customer experience than you really are – no matter how much you spend on advertising.
The Six Laws of Customer Experience are meant to empower highly effective customer experience efforts. If you understand and follow these laws, you will be able to help your organization deliver great customer experience.
If being customer-centric matters to your organization, then why leave it to chance? Contact Temkin Group, the customer experience experts, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website, at TemkinGroup.com.