It’s A Perfect Time To Show Our Humanity

In a recent post I wrote for the Qualtrics blog (Adjusting your CX program to deal with COVID-19), I laid out these five principles for making changes to your Experience Management (XM) programs in this challenging environment:

  1. Show humanity
  2. Take a hiatus on metrics
  3. Ask less, listen more
  4. Build up your immediate response skill
  5. Accelerate your feedback cycles

While all of these are important for your XM programs, one is particularly critical right now for everyone around the world… Show Humanity.

With all of the discord and tension throughout the world, it seems like a good time for all of us to refocus on what’s most important, our collective humanity.

That’s an excerpt from a post from December 2017, when we labelled 2018, The Year of Humanity. It may even be more relevant right now. As we all fight the pandemic and deal with the economic slowdown in our own ways, it’s really important that we also look out for one another.

As we did a couple of years ago, I’m looking to reignite a focus on the following mindsets that we defined for humanity:

  • Embrace diversity. Applaud 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.

Check out this video we created in 2018, Humanity: You Have A Choice!

Here are some of my previous posts about humanity:

The bottom line: Let’s show our collective humanity!

Five Ways That Organizations Crush Customer Empathy (Video)

Human beings are naturally empathetic, yet that tendency can get crushed when they go to work. Watch and read below…

Did you know that human beings are genetically wired for empathy? Our brains have something called mirror neurons that allow us to virtually feel what someone else is feeling. If you see your friend bump her head, then you are likely to react almost as if it had happened to you.

If people are naturally empathetic, then why aren’t most organizations, which are just collections of people, super empathetic towards their customers?

It turns out that organizations inhibit natural empathy in many ways. Here are five of those empathy inhibitors:

  • Inhibitor 1: Individual Context. People view the world through their own perspectives, so your natural empathy may not match the reaction of a customer who is quite different than you. For instance, a wealthy middle-aged marketing executive in New York City has a very different lens on the world than does an 18-year old from a poor, rural community. Also, employees know a lot more about their company’s products, processes, terminology, and organizational structure. So experiences that make sense to employees can often seem very complicated to customers.
  • Inhibitor 2: Human Bias. Companies often design experiences as if their customers were perfectly rational robots, but human beings aren’t like that. While people sometimes use rational thinking, which relies on logic and reason to make decisions, we more frequently use intuitive thinking, which relies on mental shortcuts and cognitive bias to make decisions. Rather than supporting customers’ unconscious decision rules like preferring to maintain the status quo, companies create experiences that slow down customers’ progress, or even derail them completely.
  • Inhibitor 3: Group Think. It turns out that people who are in close quarters, like a work team, tend to conform to a consistent point of view. Since companies often use different metrics for different groups, employees are encouraged to develop a very myopic view of their team’s responsibilities. As a result, the needs of employees’ teams take up so much head space that they drown out any thoughts about the needs of customers.
  • Inhibitor 4: Corporate Culture. Employees tend to conform to their surroundings. When leaders set expectations for a certain type of behavior, employees will try to meet those expectations – even if doing so hurts customers. When the Wells Fargo CEO set an unsustainable goal for the number of products sold to customers, employees across the organization tried to make it happen – even if it they knew it may not be good for customers.
  • Inhibitor 5: Emotional Illiteracy. Leaders in companies rarely discuss customer emotions. It’s not their fault; most people are uncomfortable discussing emotions in any setting. Within companies, emotions are often viewed as being too “soft” or “squishy” to focus on. This lack of dialogue about emotion keeps organizations from fully understanding and addressing the needs, wants, and desires of their customers.

While these inhibitors can drain the customer empathy out of an organization, they don’t need to. Now that you know what they are you can look for them and suppress their impact.

The bottom line: You need to actively unleash employees’ natural empathy.


CX Sparks: Guides For Stimulating Customer Experience DiscussionsThis video is a great introduction to a discussion with your team. That’s why we’ve created a CX Sparks guide that you can download and use to lead a stimulating discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Senator Corey Booker Shines Light On Darkness

Senator Corey Booker delivered yesterday’s commencement speech at my son’s graduation from The George Washington University. Despite the unusually cold and windy setting, Booker was captivating and inspiring. He shared lessons that he had learned from his father, as well as from the death of Hassan Washington, a teenager who was shot and killed in Newark. I urge you to watch…

One of the lessons that Booker shared is important for all of us to consider in our interactions with others:

Don’t give in to cynicism. It is a toxic spiritual state. You’ve got to be one that, wherever you are, like a flower, you’ve got to blossom where you’re planted. You cannot eliminate darkness. You cannot banish it by cursing darkness. The only way to get rid of darkness is light, and to be the light yourself.

What can we do to be the light that inspires employees, improves the lives of our customers, or makes the world a better place for even one person?

The bottom line: We are all the light that can eliminate darkness.

Lesson From Dana-Farber: Treat The Whole Person

As part of yesterday’s Customer Experience Day celebration, I attended a CXPA local networking event at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston. The session kicked off with a panel from the DFCI discussing patient experience.

I’m a big fan of DFCI and have enormous respect for the great work that it does in battling cancer. The panel, which included a cancer survivor turned volunteer, was fantastic. I was inspired by the commitment and compassion they displayed.

One of the points that came up was DFCI’s commitment to treat the whole person. This explains why it provides things such as hand massages during chemotherapy treatment. DFCI doesn’t just treat the disease, it treats the whole person.

I love the concept of the whole person. It’s not just applicable to DFCI or other health care providers, but to every organization. It’s a powerful concept for anyone who cares about customer experience.

Here’s how I think about the whole person:

  • Emotion, not just success. DFCI doesn’t have data showing that hand massages will result in better clinical outcomes. It knows that a patient’s positive medical outcome is important, but it’s not enough. Your customers are the same. You need to understand, care about, and actively design for your customers’ emotional states.
  • Goals, not just interactions. A chemotherapy patient is battling cancer, not just getting treatment. When customers interact with you, it’s often part of a broader goal. A customer who calls to change her address, for instance, probably has a life change going on that dwarfs the need to update your administrative systems. The better you can understand and cater to these larger goals, the more opportunity you will have to build loyalty.
  • Community, not just individuals. One of DFCI’s key elements for helping patients is supporting their caregivers. These people are a critical element of the patient’s medical journey. Your organization needs to understand the role that community plays in your customers’ lives. How can you help your customers achieve their goals by supporting key members in their personal ecosystems?
  • Caring, not just doing. DFCI doesn’t just mandate a set of explicit activities that define how people should focus on the whole person, it consistently reinforces the importance of this focus in achieving DFCI’s mission. It gets employees and volunteers to care about these elements, not just follow a bunch of directions. You need to help employees understand why the whole person is important, and spark their natural capabilities for caring.

I hope that you are inspired to drive your organization towards focusing on the whole person. Here are a few tools that should help:

The bottom line: Start focusing on the whole person!

eBook: 25 Tips for Amplifying Empathy

Happy CX Day 2014!

25 Tips to Amplify Empathy_COVERAs I mentioned in my 14 Customer Experience Trends for 2014, this year will be the “Year of Empathy.” Given the focus on this key area, Temkin Group created the Amplify Empathy movement. So when we were thinking about our CX Day celebration, it seemed like a perfect fit for us to do something about empathy.

That’s why we created this free eBook: 25 Tips for Amplifying Empathy.

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The eBook discusses these tips from a wide variety of companies:

1410_25CXTipsThe bottom line: Pick a few tips to replicate and amplify empathy in your organization

Winners of the Amplify Empathy Challenge

In my post on customer experience trends for this year, I named 2014 as “The Year of Empathy.” Empathy is a critical component to any customer experience effort. To help ignite the discussion on this important topic, we launched the Amplify Empathy Challenge as part of the overall Amplify Empathy Movement.

We asked people to share how they’ve raised customer empathy within their organizations and Temkin Group committed to awarding up to $2,500 for the best ideas. We had a number of great submissions, which made it hard to decide, but we selected the five winners below (all receiving a $500 Amazon.com gift certificate). We added the titles to their entries, but the rest of the description is exactly what they submitted on the Amplify Empathy site.

The bottom line: Keep finding ways to #AmplifyEmpathy within your organization!

Amplify Empathy Winners

Here are submissions from the five Amplify Empathy winners:

Empathy Mapping in Workshops

Aaron Cooper, Customer Experience Architect, Prime Therapeutics

“I integrated empathy mapping into cross-functional design workshops, focused on generating customer-centered ideas to inform redesign of experiences within digital channels.

These workshops were hosted in a main corporate office, and brought directly to stakeholders via an on-site session at one of our call center locations. This was an excellent way to build empathy across the business, by bringing the opportunity directly to key team members.

Each team in a design workshop was composed of 4-5 people – a mix of developers, system analysts, business leads, customer experience professionals, call center agents and other team members. Each team was given two scenarios, based on one of our five personas. The scenarios provided a description of the persona, their context, needs, specific tasks and “how might we” statements to stimulate thinking. The workshops were structured as a series of rapid sketching sessions, kicked off by empathy mapping before sketching began for each persona’s scenario.

During empathy mapping, each team member contributed real, recent customer experiences. Call center agents offered particularly rich descriptions of customer thoughts, feelings, statements and actions (Think, Say, Feel, Do) to feed the conversations. Directly after empathy mapping, teams individually and collaboratively sketched, then reviewed and consolidated concepts, then voted on ideas. I tied the idea voting directly to customer experience metrics (eg. ease of doing business – see Forrester), plus a colored dot for “breakthrough idea, if…” to emphasize ideas that had innovative characteristics. By weaving key performance indicators into voting, very early in the design process, team members had another way to evaluate the efficacy of ideas.

Results:

Read More …

Three Steps For Happiness to Fuel Organizational Empathy

Over the last couple of months, I’ve delivered several keynote speeches. In many of them, I’ve discussed organizational empathy (often as an element within People-Centric Experience Design). One of my key messages is that happiness creates empathy.

EmpathyHappyAs shown in the blog post Happy People Are More Productive Employees, happy people are more empathetic. So how do you take advantage of this information?

Here are my three simple steps:

  1. Be Happy. If you’re not happy, then you won’t have much capacity to think about other people, employees or customers. So how do I recommend being happy? By being grateful. A growing body of research shows that the act of being grateful actually makes people happy. So take some time every day to focus on the things that you are grateful for.
  2. Hire Happy People. Your organization probably screens employee candidates for professional experience, skills, and maybe even cultural fit. But those only tell a portion of the story about successful employees. If you want to build organizational empathy, screen candidates to make sure they are typically happy. Another way to say this is: Don’t hire unhappy people.
  3. Keep Employees Happy. HR processes focus a lot on hiring, firing, reviewing, and adjusting employees’ titles and compensation. But these are not the key drivers of employee happiness. What does motivate employees? Four intrinsic rewards: The sense of meaningfulness, choice, competence, and progress. Make sure that you focus on providing those things to your employees.

The bottom line: Happiness drives empathy.

Five Questions That Drive Customer Journey Thinking

Customer journey maps (CJM) are one of the most popular CX tools and a frequent topic that people ask me about. Temkin Group even offers CJM workshops.

CJMs are a representation of the steps and emotional states that a customer goes through during a period of time that includes (but is not limited to) interactions with an organization. CJMs are valuable because they help identify how a customer views an organization by putting company interactions in the context of the customer’s broader activities, goals, and objectives. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not a map, but the understanding that is developed through the process that allows organizations to design better experiences and measurements.

While customer journey maps can be incredibly valuable, it’s not practical (or even possible) for large organizations to undergo full-scale CJM efforts for all of their customers’ journeys. That’s why we developed the Customer Journey Mapping Pyramid, which identifies three levels of effort through which organizations can capture the benefit of CJMs:

  • Level 3: Customer Journey Mapping Projects. Build journey maps for a few critical customer journeys using significant customer research. These projects require governance, structure, expertise, and dedicated resources committed to this effort which will span over a period of time. The goal: Develop deep customer journey maps that drive critical design and measurement decisions.
  • Level 2: Customer Journey Mapping Sessions. Build journey maps for customer journeys using facilitated sessions with subject matter experts (SMEs) and existing customer insights. These sessions can happen during a single meeting as long as the attendees have sufficient knowledge of target customers. The goal: Enable impromptu meetings that examine customer journeys.
  • Level 1: Customer Journey Thinking. Embed thinking about customer journeys into day-to-day decisions across the organization. Teach employees to actively consider why customers are interacting with the organization and think about how those interactions fit within the customers’ broader set of objectives and activities. The goal: Encourage every employee to think about customers’ journeys.

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The Essence of Customer Journey Thinking

The power of CJMs is their ability to help companies design interactions and measurements based on an understanding of the customer’s perspective. This insight, however, does not always require the creation of a map or any extensive research. Organizations can get a great deal of the value of CJMs if employees actively consider customers’ journeys in everything they do.

To propel Customer Journey Thinking, we recommend that organizations teach employees to consistently think about these five questions:

  1. Who is the customer? Start by recognizing that different customers have different needs. So it’s important to understand who the person is before we think about their specific journey. This is a great place to use personas as a mechanism for describing the customer.
  2. What is the customer’s real goal? Customers aren’t usually contacting your company because they want to, they’re doing it because of a deeper need. To understand how customers will view an interaction and what’s shaping their expectations, you need to think about what they are really trying to accomplish.
  3. What did the customer do right before? (repeat three times) When customers interact with your company, it’s almost always part of a longer journey. So you need to think about where they’ve been prior to the interaction in order to understand how they will respond to an interaction with your company. In many cases, these previous interactions will include people and organizations outside of your company. After you’ve answered this question, ask and answer it at least two more times.
  4. What will the customer do right afterwards? (repeat three times) When customers interact with your company, it’s almost never the last step on their journey. So you need to think about what they will do next to understand how you can best help them. In many cases, these subsequent interactions will include people and organizations outside of your company. After you’ve answered this question, ask and answer it at least two more times.
  5. What will make the customer happy? Rather than just aiming to satisfy customers’ basic needs, think about what it will take to provide each customer with the most positive experience–given what employees know about customers’ real goals and their entire journeys. The focus on customers’ emotional state will help employees stay mindful of customers’ holistic needs and raise overall organizational empathy.

The bottom line: Help your employees embrace customer journey thinking.

P.S. Check out this Temkin Group video about the power of customer journey mapping:

Happy People Are More Productive Employees

I recently read an interesting article in Fast Company called Happy Workers Are More Productive: Science Proves It which discusses a UK study of 713 people. The findings make sense and match what we’ve seen, so I decided to do an analysis with our datasets.

Happiness is an element of our Temkin Well-Being Index, so we have a lot of data on it. I dug into our Q3 2013 Temkin Group Consumer Benchmark Study to examine the connection between happiness and productivity for more than 5,000 U.S. consumers. To identify “happy people” we selected the full-time employees who said that they are “always” or “almost” always happy. Our analysis compares those people to other full-time employees who report that they are less frequently happy. As you can see in the chart below:

  • Happy people go out of their way more for their employers
  • Happy employees try harder
  • Happy people take less sick time

1404_HappinessVsProductivityThe bottom line: Hire happy people and keep them happy!

 

 

Like Digital Cameras? Thank Sony’s Organizational Empathy

I read an interesting article by Sony’s former VP of Brand and Strategy in Fast Company called How Sony Learned That Product Features Don’t Matter. The article discuses how Sony adjusted its digital camera design based on a rich understanding of how consumers were interacting with them. Here are some excerpts from the article:

People would snap informal pictures in the middle of the action and share them with people right on the spot using the instant display on the back of the camera. Picture-taking and picture-sharing added to the fun and action of the occasion in the moment. They wouldn’t be the best quality pictures–oftentimes people would take several pictures of the same shot–but now that they were “free” and disposable, getting the perfect picture was no longer as important. Sometimes images would then be saved, printed, and displayed, but many would remain in the camera forgotten after the moment passed.

This kind of behavior had not been anticipated by our product designers. They had assumed, as most of us had, that digital cameras represented a new, more convenient method of gratifying old, reliable emotional needs–to preserve memories of special occasions by putting images in photo albums and hanging them on walls. Many of our efforts had been focused on helping people take high-quality pictures and on transferring image files from camera to computer for printing and storage.

All the improvements you saw in Sony’s digital cameras during the decade of the 2000s–larger, brighter instant displays, easy gallery-style browsing, wireless instant sharing options, and ever smaller camera sizes–were spurred by these kinds of empathic insights into how people felt about cameras and about photographs.

My take: Sony was able to evolve its digital cameras based on the company’s ability to master the three characteristics of organizational empathy: Perceive-Reflect-Adjust.

  • Perceive: Customers used their new digital phones in a different way than Sony originally anticipated.
  • Reflect: Sony sent employees to go watch customers as they used their phones to discover what they actually wanted from the device. They discovered that users actually wanted to look at the pictures immediately and often took many, lower-quality pictures of the same picture.
  • Adjust: Sony made larger, brighter instant displays, easy gallery-style browsing, wireless instant sharing option, and smaller camera sizes to fit this customer need.

The bottom line: Find ways to Amplify Empathy in your organization!

Introducing Amplify Empathy, Join the Movement!

In my CX trends for 2014, I labelled 2014 as the “Year of Empathy.” Rather than just observe “empathy” coming to life this year,  Temkin Group has decided to help accelerate this trend. How? With an initiative that we call Amplify Empathy.

3b bat hWe created Amplify Empathy as a catalyst for individuals to amplify empathy within their organizations. The Amplify Empathy page includes links to relevant content, a process for sharing ideas, and a badge for those who pledge to amplify empathy .

We also are announcing the Amplify Empathy Challenge where Temkin Group will award $2,500 to people who submit the best ideas for amplifying empathy.

I invite you to join the Amplify Empathy movement and make 2014 the “Year of Empathy.” Please join us on this journey by visitn the Amplify Empathy site, sharing your ideas, taking our Amplify Empathy pledge, and spreading the word. Tweet it out with #AmplifyEmpathy.

The bottom line: We succeed because we care.

Building Organizational Empathy: Perceive-Reflect-Adjust

Most people have an innate ability to be empathetic, but organizations tend to dampen this natural instinct. While a typical customer interaction cuts across many functional groups (a single purchase, for instance, may include contact with decisions by product management, sales, marketing, accounts payable, and legal organizations), companies push employees to stay focused on their functional areas. This myopic view is often reinforced by incentives focused on narrow domains, which creates a perceived chasm between customer empathy and employee success.

After examining much of the academic, medical, and business research on the topic of empathy, we developed a simple model for enhancing empathy that we call Perceive-Reflect-Adjust:

  • Perceive: Understand how someone else feels
  • Reflect: Examine how your actions affect those feelings
  • Adjust: Make changes to improve how someone else feels

P-R-A is a helpful model to follow for triggering individual empathy, but how can organizations apply P-R-A within their operations? By infusing it across the four customer experience core competencies:

Empathy4CompetenciesThe bottom line: Look for opportunities to Perceive, Reflect, and Adjust.

Martin Luther King Teaches CX + Empathy

Today, many people are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (it’s a Temkin Group holiday). To honor MLK’s memory in a way that ties with the content of this blog, I decided to share some of his quotes that discuss empathy with a connection to our four customer experience core competencies. I’ve added a question to think about after each quote:

Purposeful Leadership: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” How willing are your leaders to trade-off short-term results for longer gains in customer experience and loyalty?

Compelling Brand Values: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” Is your brand clear, strong and well understood enough by employees so that it empowers them to do the right thing, even if it means breaking some rules.

Employee Engagement: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Are you focused enough on making sure that employees understand and are committed to the goals and direction of your organization?

Customer Connectedness: “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” Are you treating important customers well enough so that they are more than just satisfied, and become raving fans?

The bottom line: I have a dream that 2014 will be the Year of Empathy!

Join Me in Making 2014 the Year of Empathy

As you may have read in my customer experience trends for 2014, I’ve labelled 2014 as “The Year of Empathy.” Hopefully many, many people will embrace the concept of empathy within their organizations and not just treat it as the word du jour. To help in the effort, I’m going to make empathy an ongoing theme in this blog.

Here’s my challenge to everyone reading this post: Join me and the entire Temkin Group team in making empathy come to life within your organizations. As a start, watch and share this video by the Cleveland Clinic: Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care.

The bottom line: If you could stand in someone else’s shoes would you treat them differently?