Tag Archives: CTS Symposium

Bringing Brands to Life

This post was originally published in 2014.

By Nancy J. Sirianni

Sirianni_NancyBrands are created by companies, but it’s the end customer who ultimately determines what the brand means to them. So, how do customers come to truly understand a brand and what it stands for?

Service brands are experienced on a personal level, with employees engaging customers during one-to-one social encounters, but many firms fail to include employee-customer interactions in their brand strategies. Because human-delivered services are performances and can vary from employee to employee, firms can find it difficult to create coherent experiences that drive home their brand imagery in a consistent manner from customer to customer.

For several years, I was part of a research team at Arizona State University that explored what brand managers can do to overcome this challenge. Through a series of consumer behavior experiments and a large-scale critical incident study that included dozens of service industries, we tested how customer brand experiences can be made more consistent through the behavior of frontline service employees. That is, we examined how service firms can recruit and train employees to internalize brand imagery in order to authentically bring the brand to life with customers in what we call “branded service encounters.” Continue reading

Delivering an Effortless Customer Experience

In early September, I traveled with friends along the Dalmatian coast, enjoying the sunshine and lingering over cappuccinos late into the night. One evening at dinner, I couldn’t help but remark about the wonderful service at the restaurant. While it was the end of the busy tourist season, our waiter was amazingly attentive. He made it easy for us to order the right amount and variety of fish for the table, tailoring the offering to meet individual preferences. I suggested to my friend that I was surprised that although he knew he’d never see us again, he delivered exceptional service. A native, she told me that the customer was an integral part of the dining experience. For the business, ensuring customer satisfaction was as important as ensuring the quality of the food.

So how can companies everywhere deliver effortless, memorable experiences for its customers? How can they ensure that the service they deliver lives up to its brand promise?

It’s simple. The best companies deliver straightforward, reliable experiences that meet real needs. People want to interact with companies where doing business is personalized, easy and hassle free. Consider Starbucks, where you get a consistent experience and your morning jo customized for you no matter what city you are located in. Or Nordstrom, where you can link directly from Pinterest to their store to order the latest products that catch your eye.

Delivering an effortless experience begins with listening to your customers. It’s important to take the time to look at your business through the lens of your customers. This involves setting up multiple listening posts to capture different viewpoints. Most importantly, you need a robust system to capture and categorize that feedback in a manner in which your organization can easily act on it. At Verizon, we have a social media team that monitors posts across a wide variety of sites. The data they collect is analyzed using Clarabridge, a data analytics platform, that lets practitioners quickly identify trends.

Once you understand what matters to your customers, leveraging tools like Six Sigma makes it easy to effectively eliminate pain points. The goal of your process reengineering effort should be to create a simple and intuitive process for your customer. To coin an old phrase, “eliminate the small print”. If you have to explain the offer, it probably isn’t pain free.

Structured, data centric decision making is not only a powerful way to drive problem solving, it also helps align your stakeholders. Verizon found that it was easier to align its leaders when data formed the basis for the conversation.

Finally, successful businesses need alignment throughout their organizations. If the customer service organization isn’t prepared for the latest product offer, it can’t provide the training necessary for a successful launch. If the sales organization isn’t aware of what the marketing team is putting out into the market, it isn’t going to present a consistent message. So, in short, align your brand message internally before you take it external.

____________________________________

Join the Center for Services Leadership at Compete Through Services Symposium on October 26th, 2016, to hear Carol Fink, Director of Executive Relations at Verizon, speak on Branding Your Customer Experience.

_____________________________________

carol-finkCarol Fink is Director of Executive Relations at Verizon.  In her current role, she has responsibility for voice of the customer analytics and process improvements across Verizon’s major businesses.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s degree in Business from the University of South Florida.  She is a certified six sigma black belt, a certified work out planner and a “Playing to Win” strategy facilitator.  She leverages voice of the customer, employee engagement and six sigma principles to improve the customer experience.   Carol is based in Basking Ridge, NJ at Verizon’s corporate headquarters.  She is a member of the CXPA.

 

Branding Your Customer Experience – 2016 Compete Through Service Symposium Theme

We invite you to join us for 2016 Compete Through Service Symposium on October 26-28th, in Scottsdale, AZ!

This year the Symposium will emphasize three themes:

  • Branding Your Customer Experience
  • Digital Transformation of Service
  • Growing the Service Business

Day 1 will focus on insightful and dynamic presentations on Branding Your Customer Experience. Our speakers will share best in class strategies that ensure that the critical touchpoints on the customer experience journey support and align with the organization’s brand promise. We will also explore what Branding Customer Experience means in B2C and B2B context. You will further dive into the topic by participating in our engaging and highly interactive breakout sessions in the afternoon of Day 2:

Breakout A: Authentically Branded Service Experiences

In today’s competitive marketplace, more and more companies are seeking to engage with customers by creating authentic and memorable experiences for them. In this session we will look at the critical role of frontline contact employees in creating memorable service experiences that are consistent with the brand’s positioning. We will share research on employee authenticity and branded service encounters and their impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty intentions. Through an applied exercise, you will examine what authentically branded service might mean for your company and how you can effectively link your employees and your brand image to create positive outcomes for customers.

Breakout B: Environment and Behavior: The Power of a Branded Customer Experience 

Touch-points placed on a timeline can create a great branded service experience, but in order to carry that brand story from touch-point to touch-point, each of those moments has to be dense, using every tool at our disposal to make that happen. This talk will focus on the ways that physical space influences behavior, the ways that architectural elements predict movement, the ways that physical and digital information access can influence decision making and finally in the way those all of those things can contribute to a great branded service experience.  I will share research, insights, and case studies that will give participants tools and understanding that will expand their thinking about great service design.

To learn more about Compete Through Service Symposium and to register, visit CSL website.

We look forward to seeing you at the Symposium!

2015 Compete Through Service Symposium: Recap in Pictures

Thank you everyone who attended Compete Through Service Symposium this year!  You made it another great event!

Mark your calendars for the next year’s Symposium, which will take place on October 26-28th, 2016. We look forward to seeing you there!

Leading a Culture of Service

By: Christine McHugh

My experience in customer service started in middle school, working for my grandparents at their retail gift shop.  Subsequently, a stint as a restaurant hostess and then a receptionist at a hair salon led me to managing a chain of espresso carts in Seattle where I enjoyed making coffee and talking with customers.

When I began to look for another job that provided health insurance, Starbucks was suggested given their reputation as an employer and my background in coffee.  I was hired as a barista 26 years ago when we had just 36 stores.

As a new Starbucks partner (employee), I went through extensive training on product quality, preparation and, of course, customer service.  When I was promoted into management, I received additional training on what it meant to be a customer service leader.  We had mantras like “if you’re not helping a customer, help someone who is”.

Fast forward to present day – I‘m now responsible for customer service at one of the most admired companies in the world.  And while we are often noted for great service, we do not consistently make decisions that protect and enhance the connections our baristas make with customers.

I’ve come to realize that creating a culture of service and leading a culture of service requires a constant focus, organizationally and behaviorally. Organizationally, every decision needs to be scrutinized as to whether or not it elevates the customer experience.  This requires a tremendous amount of cross-functional effort and influencing but also prioritization to focus on what matters most.

Behaviorally, employees must have clear expectations about what service looks like, accountability to those expectations, and celebration when those expectations are achieved.  For an organization and/or leader to really instill a culture of service, four practices need to be in place:

  1. Hiring for a service mentality
  2. Training and setting expectations for service
  3. Creating an environment of service
  4. Growing your business by looking at ways to analyze and improve your service

These four things are not rocket science and they are probably on the priority lists of many organizations but instilling them in the culture is the real challenge.

Hiring for Service

Do you only hire people who can connect in a genuine way?  How do you assess that?  Do they look at things from the customer’s perspective? This should be the first filter in assessing talent, not experience, not availability, not references.  If you don’t feel that a prospective employee can connect with customers, has a desire to understand customers or has a true genuine desire to serve others, then don’t hire them.

Training and Setting Expectations

Does your training plan focus specifically on customer service?  This is so critical because initial training signals what’s important and what’s expected.  Ongoing training investments reinforce concepts and develop new skills.  As a leader, you also need to show that you care about customers by demonstrating how to connect with them and telling your customer stories often.  By modeling service, you are showing what’s expected.

Creating the Environment

People want to work in a fun supportive environment, with each other and with customers. How do you recognize and celebrate customer service behaviors?  Do your customers get involved in recognizing and celebrating your employees for great service? Conversely, when service does not meet expectations, is swift coaching and action taken?

Analyzing and Improving

You probably have a lot of data available to measure the customer experience such as surveys, sales reports and research. This is valuable information but should not be taken on its own.  Analyzing and improving service also requires talking with customers and observing interactions between employees and customers.   Being solely reliant on data and metrics is a limiting perspective of the customer’s experience.

Leading a culture of service means alignment across the organization that customers and their experiences are the imperative.  Having the supporting systems, tools and expectations reinforce that alignment helps everyone understand what matters most –customers.

_________________________________________________

Headshot_ChristineMcHughChristine McHugh is currently vice president, Customer Service and Operations Services.  Christine oversees the company customer service strategy including the programs and philosophies for our retail stores.  Her team is also responsible for operational planning and implementation of all other company programs and initiatives that are deployed to our to our retail stores in the U.S. and Canada.  Prior to her current role, she was on an 18-month assignment reporting to a member of the senior leadership team to develop and deploy the Starbucks 2014 Global Leadership Conference for 2,000 district managers from around the world.  Previously, she was the vice president, Global Business Optimization, where she was responsible for the company labor investment strategy, work and process improvement using Lean principles and functional store design and engineering.  Christine joined Starbucks in 1989 as a barista and has held a variety of roles during her tenure in the organization including operations, licensed business development, foodservice sales, office coffee, human resources and learning and development.   

Christine is a graduate of Antioch University where she majored in Leadership and Organizational Studies. 

Join the Center for Services Leadership at Compete Through Services Symposium on November 5th, 2015, to hear Christine McHugh, Starbucks speak on Customers at our Core – Leading a Culture of Service.

Shared Lessons for Customer Service and Field Service Organizations

Jeff Wartgow

By Jeffrey Wartgow

In preparation for this year’s upcoming Compete Through Service Symposium, I took time to reflect on the trends that will impact field service over the coming years. After sifting through analyst reports, notes from customer meetings, and other industry insights, some major themes kept surfacing – and one overarching idea emerged:  what affects field service ultimately impacts all aspects of customer service. Lessons learned in the field can have major implications for contact center employees, the design of self-service portals, service management, and vice versa. Keeping the concept of the holistic service organization in mind, here are three major themes to monitor.

Self-service is not just for customers

One of the biggest trends impacting service organizations is the customer’s increasing desire for self-service. Whether it’s through a web portal or in a vibrant online community, customers want the freedom to search for answers quickly and efficiently, using methods that give them complete control. This phenomenon includes not only customers, but also actual service providers. Contact center personnel and field technicians prefer to look up the answers on their own rather than call for assistance. In addition, self-service is never a one-time event, and most millennial-aged service providers prefer to look up an answer multiple times before committing that answer to memory. Taking these concepts into consideration, it’s not enough to merely enable customer self service – organizations must also allow agents and field technicians to self-serve as well. This phenomenon is one part of a greater industry concept commonly known as “the consumerization of IT.”  Service providers expect the same level of self-service in their jobs as they do their personal lives.

The closer you get to the customer, the greater the expectations

Today’s customer lives in a world of instant gratification. As a result, they expect each person they interact with in a service organization to play every position. Nowhere is this more apparent than in field service, which is often the last mile of the entire service experience. If your customer wants to use a different credit card than the field service agent has on file, can the field worker update the customer’s profile on the spot? Can your field service representative independently schedule a follow-up appointment for the customer, eliminating the need for another inbound call? Could the field service representative also upsell and offer new products during the appointment? Does he know everything about the customer’s account and their current issue or need? That is the new expectation.

Machines are customers too

What is the difference between man and machine in regards to the impact they have on a service organization? Both can contact your organization by phone, SMS, email or web. Both probably have specific contracts and entitlements. And both can have a detrimental impact to your business if they are not serviced properly. Many of the field service technicians I speak with even go as far as saying every machine they work on has its own unique personality, just like human customers. As a result, whether your customer is a person waiting at home or a gas line running through the middle of the desert, both will require the same levels of attention. Service organizations will need to gather as much information about a machine as possible, pre-diagnosing problems before a field agent is dispatched, just as if that machine reached out to the contact center. In addition, information about the machine, future service requirements, and other critical data, must be gathered by every field service representative. Leveraging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, is allowing your machines to follow similar if not the exact same processes as your human customers.

Field service is just service

In the world of field service, we are constantly looking at the trends that impact the worker of the future. How much power can we give that worker? How easy can we make his job? What kind of customer will he be servicing – a real human being, or temperamental and complex machine signaling that it needs some attention? As we develop the tools to meet these challenges, we can learn how these changes will not only impact the field, but the entire service organization. I look forward to discussing these topics in more detail this November at the Compete Through Service Symposium. Hope to see you there.

____________________________________________

linkedintwitterJeffrey Wartgow leads outbound product management for Oracle’s Field Service Cloud. In this role, Jeffrey works closely with both Oracle’s customers and technology teams, helping enable the design products that modernize customer experience. Jeffrey came to Oracle through the acquisition of TOA Technologies, an industry leader in cloud based field service management solutions. Before joining TOA, Jeffrey spent two and a half years as a Director at FTI Consulting in San Francisco, where he was charged with developing the company’s first formal partner program. Prior to FTI, Jeffrey served seven years with Dell Inc. During this time he managed Dell’s Strategic Alliances for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Dell’s Competitive Intelligence team. With more than 15 years of experience in diverse roles across the technology industry, Jeffrey is an expert on mobility, predictive analytics, enterprise cloud computing, technology ecosystems, partnerships, and the dynamic relationship between hardware, software and service in enterprise IT architecture. Jeffrey holds a BBA from the University of Notre Dame, a MBA from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a MIM from Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Join the Center for Services Leadership at Compete Through Services Symposium on November 5th, 2015, to hear Jeffrey Wartgow, Oracle, speak on The Roadmap to Modern Field Service

Internet-of-Everything and the Future of Service

By Darima Fotheringham

Two weeks ago I attended Frontiers in Service, (#frontiersinservice) a global conference on service research. This year, the conference was sponsored by IBM and a lot of discussion was around the Internet-of-Things (IoT) or Internet-of-Everything, as it was frequently referred to. One of the presentations that I found especially interesting was by Irene Ng, Professor of Marketing and Service Systems and Head of Service Systems Research Group at the University of Warwick. She talked about smart technology, interconnectedness and data in a different context than the one that prevails in the IoT industry discussion. I found her perspective both simple and deeply profound. It highlighted a few important questions that I want share with you.

Technology developers are constantly pushing the envelope of what’s possible. However, it seems that in their fascination with the new technological capabilities, companies sometimes lose track of the most important element; humans as the ultimate customer and consumer of IoT. It is important to bring the human factor front and center into the design and use of smart things. IoT allows smart things to track and make use of large amounts of data, but it’s humans who are the integrators of data. It is not about our smart dishwashers being able to talk to our smart fridges. It’s about how these capabilities of smart appliances, and their “conversations”, can be integrated in our lives in a useful and empowering way.

We are generating vast amounts of data by using smart things, but we also give this data context, without which any data will be meaningless. Currently most of the data that’s being tracked is fragmented and owned by a few big players, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon. Opening access to the data and giving ownership back to the individuals can take IoT to the next level. Think of what you could do if you had access to the insights from the data that’s being collected about you across different service providers, and what new applications, new business models and services could be developed for us and with us. By the way, Irene Ng and her research team launched a project called Hub-of-All-Things, or HAT, to enable just that by creating a new platform powered by the IoT. I highly recommend checking it out. You can even sign up for your personal HAT to try, once it becomes available. Currently, it’s limited to UK and Singapore.

The new technological advances enable smarter things, smart phones, smart appliances, smart homes, which can do amazing things at a speed and accuracy that are outside of our ability. News reports share unnerving statistics about how many of our jobs will soon be taken by robots in the near future. For example, Gartner predicts that about one-third of jobs will be done by smart machines by 2025. Stories about the powers of AI make us believe that we are in direct competition with our smart devices. However, as Irene Ng pointed out in her presentation, a more useful approach is to view these smart things as amplifiers. They amplify and enable us to do more, by extending our capabilities. These smart objects are created by humans, for humans, and ultimately should be used to improve our lives. It brings to mind the example of the electronic spreadsheet invention, which eliminated hours of tedious manual calculations and transformed the industry. As a result some jobs were lost, but even more new ones were created and new horizons opened. NPR Planet Money did a great episode (Episode 606: Spreadsheets!) on this subject.

When you change the lens through which you look at smart things, it becomes clear that these objects are not smart on their own, they need collaboration with humans. It’s us, humans, who breathe life into these inanimate objects and make them smart. As humans, we operate in a complex social world, and it is not enough for the devices and products to be simply smart, they have to be “socially smart”, as Irene Ng puts it. She goes further to explain the meaning of “socially smart” in the context of smart objects:

  • It means co-creation, collaboration with a human. An object cannot be smart on its own, without a human input. Socially smart objects can amplify our abilities by removing or reducing our limitations and opening new possibilities that we co-create together. It is not about simply serving us ready-made solutions based on predictive analytics.
  • It means understanding context. We live complex and unpredictable lives, responding and reacting to a variety of different situations every day. Socially smart objects are able to fit in and amplify our capabilities within the context of each situation or scenario, independent of how consistent or irregular these situations or scenarios are.
  • “Socially smart” does not mean socially responsible. Socially smart objects can amplify to serve a good purpose or a harmful one, all without moral judgment. They have no intentions, positive or negative. The moral judgment is completely in the hands and minds of those who control the smart objects. Take the story about Uber tracking and sharing stats about one-night-stand rides of shame on one hand, and on the other hand, the story of online Syrian activists transforming the media, social movement, healthcare and financial services during the Arab Spring, as two very different examples of data use.

This Frontiers in Service presentation was a good reminder to bring the focus back to the customers, the humans who are the ultimate consumers of the smart IoT.  It also gives a lot of food for thought about the future of the fully connected world and the design of a socially smart IoT that will power new services. You can find more information about the HAT project and Irene Ng’s keynote presentation at Hub-of-All-Things website and watch the video of her presentation on YouTube.

While the Frontiers in Service conference is over, there is another conference focused on services that you may be interested in attending this year. It is the annual Compete Through Service Symposium (CTS) hosted by the Center for Services Leadership. It will take place in Scottsdale, AZ, on November 4-6, 2015. We hope to see you there!

___________________

Darima_headshotDarima Fotheringham is a Thought Leadership Program Manager at the Center for Services Leadership (CSL), W.P. Carey School of Business, ASU.

linkedin twitter