Differentiating on the Human Experience to Drive Customer Loyalty and Growth

DuffyBy M. Bridget Duffy, MD

In an era that challenges healthcare organizations to do more with fewer resources, patient experience is often considered an add-on. However, in an increasingly competitive environment, organizations can no longer solely focus on stripping out waste and reducing costs. A growing body of evidence points to the human experience as a key driver for employee and customer satisfaction, loyalty and performance.

Therefore, it is important to integrate traditional approaches to efficiency and quality improvement with strategies that transform the culture. The imperatives of this infrastructure include:

  1. Create an emotional connection

Customers choose service providers based on personal experiences, trusted relationships and valued recommendations. To understand customer needs and expectations, organizations must first map the gaps in efficiency plus empathy. Market leaders must provide services and use technologies that restore empathy to the customer experience. In addition, they must focus on building connection and relationships into all aspects of the organization – from executive leadership to frontline staff – so that from the first impression to the last, people feel a connection. Going beyond customer service to creating a real emotional connection to a product, service or company will drive market differentiation, customer loyalty and growth.

  1. Build a culture of humanity

An organization that cares about optimizing the wellbeing of its staff will deliver better results. It takes only one employee to destroy an optimal customer experience. Every employee must be connected to purpose and the mission of the organization. That is why organizations must create a work environment that allows employees to bring their full selves to work and don’t have to check their souls at the door. A culture that enables employees to feel empowered by and connected to the company and the mission drives results. Successful organizations foster a culture in which staff members at every level are viewed as valued members of the team. Organizational culture and communication among team members influences the quality of working relationships, job satisfaction, and has a profound impact on performance. Inspired, engaged and happy employees are loyal and powerful. They generate positive experiences that create market differentiation, loyalty and growth.

  1. Infuse the voice of employees and customers

To strengthen employee and customer connection, industry leaders must keep their finger on the pulse of what matters most to both of these stakeholders. Truly listening to these voices requires more than simply deploying random satisfaction surveys, which only scratch the surface. It is essential for organizations to build an infrastructure where staff and customers feel empowered to share their voice and know that they will be heard. Experience-focused organizations collect real-time staff and customer voice and tap into their wisdom in the design and innovation process for added insight into product and sales strategy.

  1. Create a Checklist of Always Events®

In healthcare, Always Events® are practices or processes that should always occur when patients interact with healthcare system. Borrowing from this concept, other industries must create a checklist of Always Events to hardwire humanity and empathy into day-to-day operations and design optimal experiences for employees and customers.

  • Map the gaps in efficiency plus empathy
  • Reconnect employees to purpose
  • Walk in the shoes of employees and customers
  • Create emotional connections and trusted relationships
  • Enable peak performance by empowering staff

To request the whitepaper Differentiating on Human Experience: How Healthcare Organizations Drive Lasting Loyalty and Growth, click here.

M. Bridget Duffy, M.D. will be speaking at the 25th Annual Compete Through Service Symposium on Thursday, November 6th, 2014.


Bridget Duffy
, M.D., is Clinkedinhief Medical Officer of Vocera Communications, Inc. and co-founder of ExperiaHealth and the Experience Innovation Network, where her mission is to assist organizations in rapidly transforming the patient experience. Dr. Duffy was the first Chief Experience Officer in the United States, establishing that role at the Cleveland Clinic. She was an early pioneer in the creation of hospitalist medicine and launched programs to accelerate clinical discovery in the field of integrative and heart-brain medicine, helping establish the Earl and Doris Bakken Heart Brain Institute. Dr. Duffy is a frequent speaker on the subject of why patient experience matters and how it impacts clinical outcomes. Her work has earned her the Quantum Leap Award for spurring change in her field, and she was featured in HealthLeaders magazine as one of “20 People Who Make Healthcare Better.” In 2014, she was named one of the “Top 50 in Digital Healthcare” by Rock Health, a full-service seed fund that supports startups building the next generation of technologies to transform healthcare. Dr. Duffy attended medical school at the University of Minnesota and completed her residency at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

Note: All content within this website is the property of Center for Services Leadership. Any use of materials, except for social media sharing, without the prior written consent of Center for Services Leadership is strictly prohibited.

Are all channels truly equal? How to design and manage a successful Multichannel Customer Experience (CX) Program

BBS  Philipp Klaus 1A copyBy Phil Klaus

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing insights from my research and consulting work in a series of posts, which will discuss critical aspects to delivering successful CX experience. You can read the first post, Demystifying The Black Box – How To Design, Manage, And Measure The Most Profitable Customer Experience (CX) Strategies, here. The series will conclude with a podcast with the Center for Services Leadership, where I will be answering questions from the CX community. I invite you to share your questions and comments through the blog or via Twitter (#CXquestion) and I’ll be happy to address them in the podcast. This is the second post in the CX series.

Social Media—a manager’s curse or blessing. To use the words of some of my clients, “As if managing offline channels wasn’t hard enough already?”
Managers worldwide, while almost evangelistically embracing the new multi-channel environment, are often left with very little guidance on: (a) how to take advantage of online channels, (b) how to develop a corresponding multichannel strategy, and (c) how to manage the multi-channel strategy in the best possible fashion. This, in turn, leads to frustration in the boardroom about both the benefits of online channels and the influence on the overall customer experience (Klaus, 2014a).

CEOs worldwide are questioning the push towards adding new online channels, and whether they are destined to be an expensive cost-of-doing-business to meet customers’ ever-rising expectations of service quality, with no incremental return (Klaus et al., 2014). The alternative may be a different impact upon business performance that might better assess, and, therefore, improve how positive outcomes are generated from multi-channel strategies (Maklan, Peppard and Klaus, forthcoming).

In our global research, which consists of multiple longitudinal studies dissecting multi-channel strategies and their performance, we explore a dynamic, competitive environment. We developed a typology that can be used to benchmark existing practices to the described state of management, including how different multi-channel practices are linked to performance. We found clear evidence that social media has an important role in successfully managing the multi-channel customer experience (Klaus, 2013). The most successful firms use social media for stakeholder communication, resource allocation, competitive environment tracking, and segmentation practice enhancement. Thus, social media delivers key insights for the internal and external perceptions of the entire multi-channel strategy, elevating it from being solely a channel of, to a key component of, the overall strategy.

Based on our results, we suggest that to develop and take advantage of opportunities, firms must:

  1. develop an online channel strategy focused on multiple channels,
  2. manage transformations of this strategy internally,
  3. upgrade their skill sets, and
  4. integrate new technologies such as mobile devices and social media, in order to
  5. improve the customer experience.

The development of a new multi-channel transformation plan requires a coherent buy-in from all functions inside the firm. Our findings submit that many firms are struggling to come to a consensus on how these changes will be formulated and implemented. The documented tensions between the different channels have to be overcome in order to succeed with a company-wide accepted vision, including the new marketing approach reflecting the new channel mix.

Once this is achieved, firms face the task of managing the transformation internally. We found support for the proposition that the introduction of an online channel program influences the constellation of the entire firm. Entire business models and constellations, such as financial services (see Klaus et al., 2013), hospitality, retail, need to be scrutinized and reconsidered to adapt to the new multi-channel environment (for more details see Klaus, 2014b; Klaus and Nguyen, 2013).

The main benefit and challenge of the new multi-channel environment is to create immediate access throughout all channels, to not only gain insight in the new customer-experience-driven behavior pattern, but to also deliver the corresponding experiences. We found clear evidence that once organizational barriers to use of digital tools fade, they form a foundation of entirely new business processes.

For example, a national real estate agency now uses a platform allowing them, while at location with a client to sign a binding contract, to initiate loan application/approval, fix an appointment with the notary, set-up telecommunication, electricity, gas, and water services ‘right on the spot.’ This unique, customer-experience-focused solution led to higher customer satisfaction, positive recommendations, an increase in return business. A management consultant firm used social media effectively as a platform to allow their employees to engage in, and freely exchange ‘best practice’ examples, leading to both, a more defined learning and experience exchange, and higher employee satisfaction. These processes, thus, in turn, improve performance significantly. Firms able to address and master the multi-channel challenges deliver better customer experiences, leading to superior financial performances. (Klaus, 2014b)

There is no doubt that the online channel is a crucial ingredient in firm strategies worldwide. Firms will use them to support a range of business processes to create stronger links to employees, suppliers, customers and vendors. A key challenge that remains is managing unavoidable multi-channel strategies in which all channels – face-to-face and online – must co-exist and deliver the best customer experience possible (Klaus and Maklan, 2013). Thus, all channels are truly equally important.


Dtwitterr linkedinPhil Klaus is Professor of Customer Experience and Marketing Strategy and holds multiple visiting professorships around the globe. His multiple award-winning research has appeared in a wide range of academic and managerial journals. Phil is a frequent keynote speaker at public and in-company seminars and conferences around the world. He has an active, international portfolio of Blue-Chip clients, for whom he advises on customer experience strategy and profit enhancement.


  • Klaus, Ph. (2014a), Measuring Customer Experience – How to Develop and Execute the Most Profitable Customer Experience Strategies, Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • Klaus, Ph. (2014b), “Towards Practical Relevance – Delivering Superior Firm Performance Through Digital Customer Experience Strategies,” Journal of Direct, Data, and Digital Marketing Practice, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 306-16.
  • Klaus, Ph., Keiningham, T., Edvardsson, B., and Gruber, T. (2014), “Getting in with the “In” crowd: how to put marketing back on the CEO’s agenda,” Journal of Service Management, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 195-212.
  • Klaus, Ph., Gorgoglione, M., Pannelio, U., Buonamassa, D. and Nguyen, B. (2013), “Are you providing the ‘right’ experiences? The case of Banca Popolare di Bari,” International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 31, No. 7, pp. 506-28.
  • Klaus, Ph. (2013), “New insights from practice – exploring online channel management strategies and the use of social media as a market research tool,” International Journal of Market Research, Vol. 55, No. 6, pp. 829-50.
  • Klaus, Ph. and Maklan, S. (2013), “Towards a better measure of customer experience,” International Journal of Market Research, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 227-46.
  • Klaus, Ph. and Ngyuen, B. (2013), “Exploring the role of the online customer experience in the firms multi-channel strategy – An empirical analysis of the retail banking services sector,” Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 21, No. 5, pp. 429-42.
  • Maklan, S., Peppard, J. and Klaus, Ph. (forthcoming), “Show Me the Money: Improving our Understanding of How Organizations Generate Return from Technology-Led-Marketing Change.” European Journal of Marketing.

Service Innovation – The Experience Is Not Enough

lance-bettencourtBy Lance A. Bettencourt

I just got off a flight from Indianapolis to Chicago. Checking my email, I see a survey from American Airlines. They want to know: “How was the flight experience?” I’m on a flight right now from Chicago to Montreal. Guess what will be in my email inbox when I arrive?

As a consumer, like you, I am inundated with satisfaction and service quality surveys. Get a repair done. Get a survey. Have a meal. Get a survey. Stay at a hotel. Get a survey. Many companies have clearly bought into the idea that it’s important to get feedback from customers on the service experience.

Though I applaud the effort to get customer insights, there is a problem with using such insights to guide meaningful service innovation. And many companies do just that.

While customer satisfaction and service quality initiatives seem to be customer-centric, their fundamental weakness for guiding service innovation is that they seek to answer questions that are actually company-centric: How are we doing? How did our solution perform? In contrast, true service innovation and true customer centricity requires getting insight into different questions entirely. To the customer, we must ask: How are you doing? How well were you able to achieve your goals?

This is more than just semantics. When the questions we ask customers anchor around a current experience, the insights we get will be constrained by how things are done today. This provides an important perspective for improving the service we already offer, but it is insufficient for gaining insight into new service opportunities.

And here’s why: No one hires your bank, your lawn care service, your consulting, or any other service you offer so they can have a good experience. Rather, we hire a bank to help us buy a home. We hire a lawn care service to get rid of weeds. And we hire consultants to make better decisions. A nice experience is the icing, but it’s not the cake!

The cake is the customer job-to-be-done. It’s the fundamental goal a customer is trying to accomplish or a problem they are trying to resolve when they buy, use, or otherwise rely on your service. It’s the reason you are in business. As such, it must be the primary focus to guide meaningful service innovation.

Consider how this plays out in practice. An online travel agency such as Expedia might field a survey that gets customer ratings of ease of website navigation, the speed that pages load, appearance of the website, and the amount of available information, along with a half dozen other aspects of the customer experience. The problem is that these aspects of the experience are not tied to the reason travelers hire an online travel service. As such, the best they can do is support incremental improvements in how things are done today: return search results faster, make the site more attractive, and so on.

The reason travelers hire an online travel agency –the job for which the service is hired– is to make travel arrangements. The very fact that this job can be done without the use of a website is a key indicator that the experience attributes in a typical survey are insufficient to guide service innovation.

With a focus on this customer job, the insights we seek from customers are very different, and much more helpful to service innovation. We can now get customer inputs on solution-independent needs the traveler has when making travel arrangements.

As shown in the table, for example, travelers want to spend little time reviewing flight options that don’t meet their needs, be aware of potential issues with a flight option such as cancellations and delays, ensure that a comfortable seat is available before choosing a specific flight, and quickly determine which flight is best based on individual preferences for airline, flight time, connections, and so on. Unlike customer experience needs, the service innovation possibilities for helping the customer better satisfy job-focused needs are limited only by company creativity and the value they deliver.

Solution-focused Job-focused
Ease of website navigation Spend little time reviewing options that don’t meet needs, such as connections with a high probability of delay
Appearance of the website Being aware of potential issues with a flight option such as cancellations and delays
Amount of available information Ensuring that a comfortable seat is available before choosing a specific flight
The speed that pages load Quickly determining which flight is best based on preferences for airline, duration, connections, and so on

A focus on the customer job for which your product or service is hired is the basis for redirecting attention away from how things are done today –including the customer experience– to the value customers are really seeking. In other words, a focus on the customer job enables a company to ask the most fundamental questions that should guide service innovation: How well is the customer able to get their job done? and How might we be able to help?


twitterlinkedinLance A. Bettencourt, PhD, is a service innovation consultant and speaker with many of the world’s leading companies. He is the author of Service Innovation (McGraw-Hill 2010) and several papers on service and innovation best practices in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, and others.

Lance Bettencourt will be speaking at the annual Compete Through Service Symposium on November 6, 2014. He will be discussing service innovation in one of the breakout sessions. You can hear him speak and enjoy the rest of the symposium by registering to attend. Please click here for more information.

Note: All content within this website is the property of Center for Services Leadership. Any use of materials, except for social media sharing, without the prior written consent of Center for Services Leadership is strictly prohibited.

Profiting from Services and Solutions

click on the slide to begin the webcast

Leaders of product-based companies are under an enormous pressure to stay competitive by shifting revenues from selling goods to delivering services and solutions. Yet few executives realize the extent to which they must change their organizations to succeed in growth through services. In this webcast, Dr. Mary Jo Bitner, Professor and Executive Director of the Center for Services Leadership at W. P. Carey School of Business and Dr. Steve Brown, Emeritus Professor and Strategic Partner of the INSIGHT Group, talk about their new book Profiting from Services and Solutions: What Product-Centric Firms Need to Know, which draws on the authors’ years of academic research and consulting work with several Fortune 100 member companies.

In the webcast, the authors introduce “The Service Infusion Continuum” framework and highlight two of the six important success factors, Capabilities and Collaboration with Customers, that are critical for product-centric companies in their business transformation as they move along the continuum from products toward higher valued services and solutions.

Foundational research for the book was sponsored by the Center for Services Leadership at Arizona State University and several of its Fortune 100 member companies. Profiting from Services and Solutions: What Product-Centric Firms Need to Know is available on Amazon and Business Express Press website.

Our readers are invited to receive a special offer on the book from the CSL partner, International Society of Service Professional (ISSIP). The International Society of Service Innovation Professionals promotes the professional development, education, research, practice, and policy work of its member individuals and institutions working hard to improve our world’s diverse, interconnected, complex service systems.

To receive a special book offer from ISSIP, follow the steps below.

Show you care: initiating co-creation in service recovery

NLP-course-for-customer-serviceBy Dr. Yingzi Xu

Customers are no longer passive receivers of service offerings from companies, but rather value creators themselves. Companies realize that involving customers in service production and co-production is a cost-saving strategy and an effective way to satisfy customers. Co-production expands to co-design of new services as well as to co-recovery, which allows companies and their customers to work together to find a solution in the event of a service failure.

Continue reading

25 Years of the Compete Through Service Symposium – an interview with Dr. Mary Jo Bitner


Pictures from CTS 2013

This November in Scottsdale Arizona, business executives, academic faculty and students from a wide variety of industries and backgrounds will come together to be part of the 25th Annual Compete Through Service Symposium, hosted by the Center for Services Leadership (CSL). 25 years ago, it started with humble beginnings – the CSL had crafted a presentation at the request of its board of advisors to present the latest knowledge in what was then a new field: the study of services as a source of competitive advantage in the marketplace. The CTS Symposium is now widely considered to be one of the foremost business conferences in the services field in the world. We speak now with Dr. Mary Jo Bitner, Professor and Executive Director for the Center for Services Leadership, on this year’s program, the enduring as well as the newest topics in services, and on the Compete Through Service Symposium experience.

Q:  This year’s Symposium is structured around three main topic areas in the services arena – Service Innovation, Customer Experience and Engagement, and Service Revenue and Growth. Could you tell us a bit more about these themes and how they were chosen? Continue reading

Service-Dominant Logic in a Nutshell

LuschBy Robert F. Lusch

There is no other Business than a Service Business

Ingrained in our mindset, through schooling, industry practices and government accounting is the belief that the economy consists of primary or extractive industries such as mining, fishing, forestry and farming; secondary industries such as manufacturing which takes the outputs from primary industries and produce stuff (units of manufactured goods); and tertiary industries, referred to as services, which are essentially defined in contradistinction to what is not primary or secondary or what is not “tangible” or “goods” like. These industries include finance, insurance, government, transportation, wholesaling and retailing, education, healthcare and many others. These industries produce intangible units of output vs. the primary and secondary produce tangible units of output. In Service-dominant logic (S-D logic) Steve Vargo and I show that is blatantly incorrect. Continue reading