How Comcast Ignored This Customer’s Journey

We recently had an experience with Comcast that shows the importance of Customer Journey Thinking™. I’m not sharing this example to pick on Comcast (although it can be an easy target for bad customer experience given its consistently poor performance in the Temkin Experience Ratings), but instead I want to get across a key lesson for all companies.

We had a problem with our cable box and the Comcast phone agent said that we could bring it to the local Comcast center and get a new one. It’s a good move by Comcast to let people self-repair as much as possible; it keeps costs down and allows customers to accelerate the corrective action.

I wasn’t sure which of the cables that plug into the cable box I needed to bring, so I just grabbed the power cable. We went to Comcast and got the new box. Voila, success!

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story. We got the cable box home and it didn’t work. There were no instructions. It wasn’t until a Comcast repairman showed up in a couple of days that we found out that the problem wasn’t with the box, it was with the remote. We needed to reprogram our remote.

What went wrong? Comcast treated our experience as a set of isolated interactions, instead of viewing our experience as a multi-step journey. We were looking for our TV to work again, and Comcast treated us as if we wanted to get help over the phone and swap a box at the local Comcast shop.

That’s where Customer Journey Thinking (CJM) comes into play. CJM is a way to focus on customers’ journeys when you are creating a new product, service, interaction, or experience. It requires people to always ask (and answer) these five questions:

  1. Who is the customer?
  2. What is the customer’s real goal?
  3. What did the customer do right before? (repeat three times)
  4. What will the customer do right afterwards? (repeat three times)
  5. What will make the customer happy?

Let’s say we were working at Comcast when they were looking at the self-service transaction of swapping a cable box at the Comcast stores. Here’s how a simple use of the CJM might have worked.

The team working on what looked like a modem swap st the Comcast store would have gone through the questions something like this:

  1. Who is the customer?
    • Are we targeting people who regularly swap out cable boxes and programs our remotes, or is our key market people who are much less familiar with our products and processes. We need to keep in mind any steps that might not be obvious or easy to understand for this type of customer (Note: As a best practice, it would be great to name an explicit design persona that we’re focusing on for this process).
  2. What is the customer’s real goal?
    • This customer probably wants to get his/her TV to start working again.
  3. What did the customer do right before? (repeat three times)
    • Unplugged the cable box and cables and drove to the Comcast store.
    • Went online to find the local Comcast store and its operating hours.
    • Spoke to someone at Comcast (or went online) where they found out that they could swap out the box.
  4. What will the customer do right afterwards? (repeat three times)
    • Take the box home.
    • Plug the box in.
    • Try and use the television… oops, they might not know they have to reprogram their remote.
  5. What will make the customer happy?
    • Getting their TV up and running quickly without any frustrations along the way.

If you were part of the team that went through these CJM questions, then you might have realized that the in-store element was only a piece in the overall journey, and that target customers would likely run into problems.

Using that Insight, the team might have identified these types of opportunities to improve the customers’ journey:

  • Have phone agents explain (or send a link to simple instructions about) which cables to bring with you when you swap out the box and explain that you will likely have to reprogram your remote.
  • At the store, provide instructions on reprogramming the remote and explain that it is a natural part of the process.
  • Send an email to customers who swap boxes with a link to instructions (including reprogramming of remote) and a diagnostic app if the box is not working properly.

The bottom line: Companies (not just Comcast) need to obsess about their customers’ journeys.

CX Competency: Customer Connectedness (Video)

Temkin Group has found that the only path to sustainable customer experience differentiation is to build a customer-centric culture. How? By mastering Four Customer Experience Core Competencies.

This video provides an overview of one of those competencies, Customer Connectedness, where the goal is to infuse customer insight across the organization.

Here Are Four Strategies For Customer Connectedness:

Human Beings Are Driven By Their Personal Predictive Analytics

In yesterday’s NY Times, there’s an excellent article, We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment (written by Martin Seligman and John Tierney). It discusses how human beings process information, and the emergence of a new field called prospective psychology. Here’s a very simplified summary of what it says…

Human beings:

  • Are distinctive from other species in our ability to focus on, value, and plan for the future.
  • Store our memories in three different components: what happened, when it happened, and where it happened.
  • Use our mental “downtime” to run many, many simulations about the future by reconfiguring the elements of our memory in different ways.
  • Tap into the results of simulations to make fast decisions by predicting the likely outcomes of different options.

My take: First of all, we pay attention to whatever Seligman says; he’s the father of the Positive Psychology movement (see the post, Positive Psychology Meets Customer Experience). This view of human psychology describes that the brain as if it is constantly running a very advanced suite of predictive analytics. Here’s why this is meaningful for CX professionals:

  • Humans’ focus on the future is what gives power to Purposeful Leadership, as it creates the motivation for people to be part of achieving something important in the future alongside other people.
  • Since people selectively reconfigure their memories, we need to design experiences to create specific memories. That’s the cornerstone of what we call “Design for Real People,” which is one of the strategies of the CX competency: Customer Connectedness.
  • The myriad of simulations provide people with an expectation that doing something good for someone else will likely lead to a good emotional outcome, which is what creates empathy.
  • To motivate customers, employees, or leaders, it’s helpful to introduce future scenarios that tap into elements of their previous experiences.

And here’s why prospective psychology is important for everyone: it determines your happiness. Like any predictive model, it needs fine tuning. If your model is always calculating the worst-case outcomes, then you’ll tend to be sad and depressed. On the other hand, if your model is looking for positive scenarios, then you’ll stay happy and motivated. We’ll be following the research to see how people can adjust their personal predictive models.

The bottom line: Pay attention to prospective psychology.

Report: The Shift To Customer Journey Insights

We just published a Temkin Group report, The Shift To Customer Journey Insights. Here’s the executive summary:

Customer insights are critical to customer experience programs. However, current insights’ efforts tend to focus on individual interactions rather than on a customer’s entire journey, and as a result, they often fail to provide a complete picture of a customer’s experience with the company. This report helps companies shift their insights efforts from concentrating narrowly on single transactions to focusing broadly on customers’ journeys.

Here are some highlights :

  • We developed an approach to help companies create a comprehensive view of journeys called Customer Journey Insights (CJI), which is made up of five strategies: Internal Journey Alignment, Journey Data Farming, Journey Performance Tracking, Journey Visualization, and Journey Prioritization.
  • We share 20 examples of best practices from companies that are applying these strategies to develop a more complete understanding of their customers’ journeys.
  • To help companies master these strategies, we have identified three stages organizations proceed through on their path to enabling customer journeys: 1) Customer Journey Orientation, 2) Customer Journey Enablement, and 3) Customer Journey Mastery.

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Here are the best practices focused around five strategies for shifting towards customer journey insights:

  1. Internal Journey Alignment. Shift the company’s mindset away from siloed interaction success to customer goal facilitation.
  2. Journey Data Farming. Tap into adjacent data sources and make linkages across channels.
  3. Journey Performance Tracking. Overhaul metrics to measure performance across customer journeys.
  4. Journey Visualization. Create mechanisms for communicating insights in a way that reinforces the centrality of customer journeys.
  5. Journey Prioritization. Focus on the journeys, customer segments, and channels that are strategic business priorities.

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Report: The Four Customer Experience Core Competencies (Free)

If you are only going to read only one thing about customer experience, then this report is it. It’s the blueprint for building a customer-centric organization… and it’s free.

We just published a Temkin Group report, The Four CX Core Competencies. This blueprint to building a customer-centric organization is an update to our groundbreaking research that was originally published in 2010 and updated in 2013.

Temkin Group has conducted multiple large-scale studies demonstrating that customer experience (CX) is highly correlated with loyalty across many different industries, in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business environments. When customers have a good experience with a company, they are more likely to repurchase from the company, try its new offerings, and recommend it to others.

While many companies try to improve their CX by making superficial changes, Temkin Group has found that the only path to lasting differentiation and increased loyalty is to build a customer-centric culture. Temkin Group has studied hundreds of companies to uncover the difference between CX leaders and their less successful peers, and has identified four CX competencies that companies must master if they wish to build and sustain CX differentiation:

  1. Purposeful Leadership: Operate consistently with a clear set of values. (see video)
  2. Compelling Brand Values: Deliver on your brand promises to customers. (see video)
  3. Employee Engagement: Align employees with the goals of the organization. (see video)
  4. Customer Connectedness: Infuse customer insight across the organization. (see video)

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This whiteboard video describes the Four CX Core Competencies:

Here’s an infograhic with the best practices described in the report:

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Report: Humanizing Digital Interactions

We just published a Temkin Group report, Humanizing Digital Interactions.

Emotions play an integral role in how customers make decisions and form judgments. This means that how a customer feels about an interaction with a company has an enormous impact on his or her loyalty to that company. However, companies tend to ignore customer emotions, especially during digital interactions, which is problematic as customers are increasingly interacting with companies online. This report focuses on humanizing digital interactions by replicating the elements of strong human conversations.

Here are some highlights:

  • We developed The Human Conversational Model, which is made up of seven elements – Intent Decoding, Contextual Framing, Empathetic Agility, Supportive Feedback, Basic Manners, Self-Awareness, and Emotional Reflection.
  • We share over 35 examples of best practices from companies that are designing digital experiences across the seven elements of The Human Conversational Model.
  • We demonstrate how you could apply The Human Conversational Model to three types of digital activities: opening a new bank account online, purchasing a pair of shoes through an app, and getting technical support online.

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A gratifying conversation requires two processes:

  • Cooperative Interface. Each participant is required to collaborate with her partner to achieve the shared goal of the conversation – be that casually catching up, gathering information, sharing knowledge, etc. This is the part of the model that a conversational partner sees and responds to, and it consists of five elements: contextual framing, intent decoding, empathetic agility, supportive feedback, and basic manners.
  • Background Mindfulness. This portion of the model is not observable within what would normally be considered the scope of the conservation as it pertains to what happens internally within person. Each participant has a pre-existing notion of who he is as an individual (self-awareness) and throughout the course of the conversation, learns about how he affects other people (emotional reflection). Though not directly observable, “background mindfulness” informs the way in which each participant communicates with his current and future partners.

Here’s an overview of the Human Conversation Model along with best practices we highlight in the report:

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Design Lesson From… MA Department of Transportation

As you read the title of this post, you were likely thinking that there’s been a typo. Departments of Transportation (DoT) around the country have been called a lot of names, but good designers isn’t a common label. In this one case, though, I want to give a shout out for a part of the MA DoT’s roll out of MA’s new toll-less EZPass system.

1611_tollboothsbyeIn the past, if you did not have an E-ZPass transponder, you could go to a separate lane on the Mass Pike and pay a toll operator. The new system will completely eliminate the need for toll operators. If a car doesn’t have a transponder, then the system will take a picture of the license plate and charge the car owner with the toll fee plus a penalty for not using a transponder. So over time, the goal is for everyone to use a transponder.

Here’s where the design part comes in. The MA DoT is having a grace period of six months during which people who get a penalty for not using a transponder can get those fees eliminated if they get a transponder. Here’s why I think that it’s good design:

  • No matter how much the DoT tries to communicate the upcoming changes, a very large number of people won’t really understand (or care about) what’s going on.
  • The point at which many, many people will understand (and care about) the changes is when it truly affects them… when they receive their first bill with penalties for not using a transponder.
  • By providing a way to eliminate the penalties, the DoT will motivate a large number of people to get transponders — instead of just being upset with the DoT.

The key lesson here is that you need to design interactions based on how people really behave, not on how you’d like them to behave. While it would be great for everyone to understand and care about the E-ZPass changes prior to them going into effect, that would not be realistic. Most people do not pay attention to situations until they are directly affected by them. In this case, that moment is likely on the arrival of their first bill. So it is critical to design an experience around that moment which drives the behavior that the MA DoT is looking for — getting an E-ZPass Transponder.

In order for this part of the program to really work well, it is critical that those initial bills be designed to clearly communicate the option to eliminate the fees, and provide a simple path to do so. If not, then forget everything that I’ve said about good design; it will be a poor experience.

The difference between success and failure at this point comes down to what I’ve called the Design of Little Things (DoLT). All too often, people get the big things right, but fail to obsess about the DoLT that will make or break the experience.

I will be going through some toll booths without a transponder so that I can see what the experience looks like. If I find something interesting, then you might see a follow-up post.

The bottom line: Design for how people really behave, and obsess about little things.

Free eBook: 25 Tips For Tapping Into Customer Emotions

1609_ebook_25emotiontips_finalAs part of our CX Day celebration, we’re giving away this free eBook: 25 Tips For Tapping Into Customer Emotions.

Here’s the executive summary:

Emotions play an essential role in how people form judgments and make decisions. Consequently, a customer’s emotional response to an experience with a company has a significant impact on their loyalty to that company. To help you improve your customer experience, we’ve compiled a list of 25 examples from companies who are tapping into customer emotions, which you can emulate at your own organization.

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The eBook contains 25 tips across four areas: Experience Design, Organizational Personality, Organizational Empathy, and Customer Segmentation.

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The bottom line: Apply these lessons to tap into your customers’ emotions

Report: Emotion-Infused Experience Design

1606_EmotionInfusedExperienceDesign_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Emotion-Infused Experience Design.

Emotions play an essential role in how people make decisions. Consequently, how a customer feels about their experience with a company has the most significant impact on their loyalty to that company. And yet despite their importance, both customers and companies agree that organizations do a poor job of engaging customers’ emotions. To help companies create a stronger emotional connection with customers, we’ve developed an approach called Emotion-Infused Experience Design (EIxD). To master EIxD, organizations must continuously focus on three questions: “Who exactly are these people (who happen to be our customers)?” “What is our organizational personality?” and “How do we want customers to feel?” This report offers both advice and examples about how to apply these three questions across four facets that affect emotion: senses, feelings, social, and values. And to help infuse these practices across the organization, we have also identified some strategies for how to turn employees into agents of EIxD.

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Our research shows that emotion is often a missing link in customer experience. While emotions may seem ephemeral and subjective, we developed a concrete methodology you can use to design for emotion. We call this methodology “Emotion-Infused Experience Design” (EIxD), and we define it as:

An approach for deliberately creating interactions that evoke specific customer emotions.

To master EIxD, you must ask (and answer) three questions throughout the entire design process:

  1. Who exactly are these people (who happen to be our customers)? You cannot design emotionally engaging experiences without a solid grasp on who your target customers are—what they want, what they need, what makes them tick.
  2. What is our organizational personality? Research shows that people relate to companies as if they are fellow human beings rather than inanimate corporate entities.
  3. How do we want our customers to feel? People are inherently emotional beings, and every interaction they have with you will make them feel a certain way—whether you intend it to or not.

To address the three questions of EIxD, this report shows how to design around four elements of emotion: senses, feelings, social, and values. Here are two of the 26 figures in the report:

1606_TwoPartsofEmotion1605_CokeStarbucksEmotions

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Quick Take: Start Talking About Emotion (Video)

In a recent Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org) CustomerSpark event in Dallas, I spoke about the importance of focusing on emotion. Give that we’ve called 2016 “The Year of Emotion,” this is a popular topic for Temkin Group.

Here’s a short snippet from my speech (one of several quick take videos from the event) where I discuss why we need to Start Talking About Emotion:

 

For more information on the Five A’s of an emotional response, check out this post: Customer Responses, From Angry To Adoring.

And, I urge you to join the Intensify Emotion Movement.

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Report: Customer-Infused Process Improvement

1604_CustomerInfusedProcessImprovement_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Customer-Infused Process Improvement, which provides five strategies for instilling customers’ needs into process improvement methodologies. Here’s the executive summary:

Process improvement and customer experience have traditionally served different roles in a company. However, these two disciplines are starting to intersect as customer experience looks to process improvement to operationalize key customer interactions and process improvement needs customer experience to provide customer-focused insights and continually monitor new processes. Temkin Group proposes that companies bring these two approaches together into Customer-Infused Process Change. This report highlights five strategies critical to driving this new approach: Prioritize Improvements Across Customer Journeys, Embrace Deep Customer Empathy, Involve Customers in Solution Development, Innovate to Meet Latent Needs, and Measure Success with Customer-Focused Metrics. To make process improvement efforts more customer-centric, organizations need to infuse these strategies across all aspects of process improvement.

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It’s time for process improvement to become more focused on customers. Rather than abandoning existing process improvement methodologies, Temkin Group recommends bringing a customer orientation into your efforts. We call this approach Customer-Infused Process Change (CiPC), which we define as:

Driving improvements based on a deep understanding of customer needs.

The report provides best practices across five strategies of CiPC:

  1. Prioritize Improvements Across Customer Journeys: By understanding customer interactions in the context of their broader journeys, companies can invest in process improvements projects that have the most impact on the customer’s experience.
  2. Embrace Deep Customer Empathy: In order to effect sustainable changes, employees impacted by redesigned processes need to understand why these changes are important to customers.
  3. Involve Customers in Solution Development: Process improvement efforts must have resources available to ensure that ongoing, incremental changes can be made based on this customer input.
  4. Innovate to Meet Latent Needs: Customers can’t always articulate what they want; instead, they often describe a slightly improved version of what they already know.
  5. Measure Success with Customer-Focused Metrics: Companies can’t measure the success of process improvement efforts with internally focused, operational metrics.

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The bottom line: Process improvements need more customer insights.

Report: Mobile Experience Review: Purchasing an eGift Card

1603SLICE-B_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Mobile Experience Review: Purchasing an eGift Card. The report uses our SLICE-B experience review methodology to evaluate mobile experiences. We attempt to achieve a specific customer goals and then grade the experience on 12 criteria across six areas: Start, Locate, Interact, Complete, End, and Brand Coherence.

Here’s the executive summary:

As more customers use smartphones, companies need to adjust their websites and processes for the smaller screens. To evaluate the customer experience of mobile websites, we used Temkin Group’s SLICE-B experience review methodology to assess the experience of purchasing an eGift Card from ten large retailers: Macy’s, Kohl’s, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Petco, Petsmart, Kroger, Safeway, Michaels, and Jo-Ann. Macy’s earned the highest score for its simple yet engaging process, while the user was unable to complete the full purchasing goal at Barnes & Noble, Petco, Petsmart, Kroger, Safeway, and Kohl’s.

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Here’s an overview of the results:

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Maximizing Value From Customer Journey Mapping

1509_ValueFromCJMs_COVERWe just published a Temkin Group report, Maximizing Value From Customer Journey Mapping. Here’s the executive summary:

Customer Journey Maps (CJMs) are a valuable tool for understanding how customers truly interact across an entire organization, but companies aren’t capturing enough value from their CJM efforts. Creating a CJM is only the first step in the process for change; the real benefit comes from using the insights from CJMs to drive action. In this report, we identify 23 best practices for using CJMs, and these practices cut across five areas: 1) Find and Fix Problems, 2) Build a Customer-centric Mindset, 3) Design Innovative Experiences, 4) Create Strategic Alignment, and 5) Refine Customer Measurement. To truly maximize value from customer journey maps, companies need to set themselves up for success by establishing organizational alignment, determining if outside help is needed, training key stakeholders in customer journey mapping, and scaling customer journey mapping techniques across the organization by employing Customer Journey Thinking.

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Here are the 23 best practices in the report:1509_CJMbestpractices

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The bottom line: Get more value from your CJM efforts.