I was extremely excited – and quite proud! – that our friends at SAP (the $20B global enterprise software company) published intimate details of their Customer Success program in their most recent annual report. SAP is leading their industry by publishing customer-focused metrics right alongside financial measures. Based on the Net Promoter System, SAP has gone beyond measuring customer sentiment to incorporate true best practices for B2B businesses, including:
- Measuring customer success: “We view customer success as being so critical to our own that we have made it one of our four company-wide strategic goals, in addition to employee engagement, growth, and margin.”
“…a shorter questionnaire that hones in on what really matters to customers – such as the degree to which SAP solutions contribute to their success.”
- Understanding the level of engagement with their customers by defining coverage and response rates. Notably, “Our secondary goal was to achieve a response rate of 70%. While we fell short of this goal with a response rate of 67%, we were encouraged by the high level of customer engagement in providing feedback on our solutions and services. Our plan is to continue to promote our new methodology to sustain this feedback.”
- Focusing on improvement, not measurement. “…we are putting much more emphasis on responding to their concerns. In 2012, we greatly expanded the respective training for our employees, introducing a new e-curriculum that covers the subtle skills required to manage customer relationships. We can already document that our follow-up on issues has improved significantly.“
Congratulations and best wishes to Phil Morin and his global team on these achievements – truly an exciting development for SAP and for our “Customer Experience” industry! I’d also like to acknowledge Mary Brigden for her pioneering efforts that helped SAP get to this point.
This is the first time I’ve seen this level of customer focus published in this way … are there other examples? The customer success section of the annual report can be found here:
I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with JBara and Marketo in which we discussed how “Customer Success Managers” (who are typically focused on customer retention and cross-sell/up-sell expansion within their existing customer base) have implemented customer surveys to support their goals. Mike Stocker, Customer Success Team Lead from Marketo, spoke about the specific process he uses at Marketo, while I discussed successful strategies and tactics from other companies, including:
- Knowing your customers sentiment (“temperature”) with complete certainly before you contact them
- Making best use of customer interactions to drive sales
- How to construct a questionnaire to manage the customer success process
We had a great turnout, and so there are interesting results to our poll question to understand what experience the attendees might have with Net Promoter as a system, instead of feedback as a score.
To watch the webinar click here
(which will take you to the “Implementing a Successful Customer Survey” recorded webinar at http://www.jbarasoftware.com/upcoming-webinar-best-practices-in-surveys/ )
Waypoint Group hosted a local networking group we have endearingly entitled BICEP, Bay Area Innovative Customer Experience Professionals. It was a fabulous opportunity for local customer experience folks to gather over lunch to share challenges and collect best practices from other local companies. As one of the attendees expressed, “It was a fantastic way to discuss my program challenges with peers and gather great new ideas for how to drive very specific improvements!” Represented were CX & Net Promoter professionals from Cisco, Intel, SAP, VMware, USF, PeopleMatter & Integris Performance Advisors. Autodesk, HP & Symantec were also among the RSVP list, proving there is TONS of interest for this type of open forum, attended by, & provided for, local Bay Area customer experience practitioners.
Some of the take-aways offered by the participants included…
- Wordle (http://www.wordle.net) is a free service for creating word clouds for displaying comments
- A practice that moved the needle: Even if the overall scores are “OK”, do take the time to read verbatims and follow-up with people who asked questions or stated issues
- Connect your Voice of Customer Program with your company’s lost-customer program by linking the financials of each lost customer to the costs of “proactive” service. For companies with “trapped” customers, model the cross-sell offers to see the lost opportunity cost.
- Using Sales Pipeline data may be an easier way to show sales execs the power of customer feedback. Pull out pipeline data from your B2B sales team and show the connection between pipeline and scores.
- Analysis tip: Aggregate scores according to your company’s organization (e.g. by region, by product, etc), and show growth rate against Ease of Business score. You’ll see “market share givers” vs. “market share takers” and how scores relate to sales performance.
- Create a 1-page list of specific customer verbatim comments for each of your company’s departments to show their impact on the customer experience.
- Impactful survey question: “If you had a few minutes with NAME [your company’s CEO], what would you tell him/her?
Bottom-line: Make sure to position your role as not one of running surveys, but instead to capture Voice of Customer in an actionable way.
We are thrilled to be able to provide a productive forum for local practitioners running customer experience programs. We are planning our upcoming holiday event to be held in downtown San Francisco. If you are interested in joining us, please let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you in early December – !
MindTouch provides software and services to help enterprises deliver exceptional “help” experiences. We recently sat down with Corey Ganser, the Customer Experience leader for MindTouch, to discuss MindTouch’s customer experience program and how it benefits them.
Q: What prompted you to start a Customer Experience program?
When I initially started with MindTouch I was leading the Customer Support department and I needed to understand how well MindTouch was doing in the customer’s eyes. How could we improve? As a smaller company, being customer-focused is critical, and a main competitive advantage. Therefore the focus was on ensuring customers were happy and not on ‘tickets closed’ or other internal metrics.
While our initial measure of customer success was focused on end-user interaction with the Support organization, we realized that was too narrow. We leveraged Net Promoter – adding a periodic “relationship” questionnaire that also uses the “recommend” question – to make sure customers are happy overall. We also ask what can we do to improve MindTouch, and that’s where we learn critical customer priorities: While the majority of that feedback is around product enhancements, we also learn quite a bit about how to improve our communications, training, documentation, and processes.
Q: How did you go about implementing this program?
“To make it work, the key component was to develop strong internal relationships.”
One of the most critical elements was to shine the light on this effort across the company. To make it work, the key component was to develop strong internal relationships. I made sure I had a solid understanding of each department’s objectives, initiatives, and processes. Only then did I collaborate with the CEO and executive team to provide the required insights to the rest of the organization.
In that regard I was able to make sure that the feedback and required actions fit with existing priorities and didn’t just “throw feedback over the wall.”
Q: What would you say are the key outcomes so far?
MindTouch has grown. We’ve been able to tie this process to individual customers that have grown over time. Relate it to a personal experience: Have you ever felt that a company has listened to you? What would you do if they did? Note that while this effort secures sales growth from existing customers, it doesn’t stop there.
“While this effort secures sales growth from existing customers, it doesn’t stop there. The benefit of a referral is huge, and you only get it if you ask for it. ”
The benefit of a referral is huge, and you only get it if you ask for it.
There is also a connection between employee loyalty and customer loyalty: People stay, they are happy, and that drives results. We’ve been able to hire smarter to bring in the right DNA.
On the “dark” side, we found early on how important it is to follow-up with everyone. We have found that feedback deteriorates if we don’t follow-up, even if it’s just a “thank you” for positive comments. We must respond back to the customer.
Q: What are 1 or 2 things you would tell someone just starting this effort?
The most critical part is the follow-up process. After I triage the issue, the rest of the organization takes action on all feedback.
- When a customer responds to the recommend question as an “8 or higher”, they are happy with MindTouch so we reach out and ask for case stories, referrals, and even up-sell/cross-sell opportunities.
- For Scores of 7 or lower, within 2 hours we reach out to find out why and what’s bubbling under the surface.
Second is to use feedback in the Account Management process. Complementing our Support experience process is a periodic, relationship program that goes out to more people. Of particular importance is to engage the “quiet” people who may not respond. Our account managers understand the importance of building relationships, so they use the process to unequivocally know how things are going, and what’s working or not. Of course, they are finding new sales opportunities through this process as well.
Going forward, we’re continuing to refine customer-facing communications and also improve our internal, employee facing insights. One example of this is an overall dashboard for each customer showing customers’ “temperature.” The more we can help drive action, the better off we’ll all be.
Neff Hudson, AVP Emerging Channels at USAA shared some of their secrets to success in their customer (“member”) experience strategy at last week’s CXPA event. “Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do” is a core part of USAA’s strategy. Therefore, conversations generally don’t start with internal measures or processes: decision making at USAA starts with customer evidence.
Like the rest of the Financial Services industry, USAA is going through a major change. Mobile will become its largest channel by next year. The challenge is that for every live customer call – where there is an obvious opportunity to build loyalty – there are 20 visits to their digital sites. The Financial services industry is highly competitive, so they need to reserve the humans for the touchpoints that matter most. Everything else must be delivered exceptionally well through cross-channel customer experiences.
To accomplish this, USAA operates with these 3 pillars:
- Know our members: The ability to create personalized solutions starts with products “pushing” information, and then often move to segmentation strategies that are more about” pulling” information and driving conversations. Ultimately, USAA strives to be member centric, where they can anticipate needs.
As an example, Neff talked about a change of address procedure. Instead of just changing the address, they can provide a tailored package that deals with this important life event more holistically.
- Organize around members: Instead of being “product” focused, provide solutions to members that meet their needs now, and in the future, from a single point of contact.
As an example, when a member called to add a car to their call insurance it was thought to be a good opportunity to talk about the loan. But this is too late in the cycle – USAA wants to be more proactive. So now they provide auto-buying advice that covers all the aspects of the car buying experience. In one case, a customer inquired about loans for a used car and USAA was able to get the same car brand new and delivered to the member’s home.
- Make it about a bigger mission: Know what the member’s needs really are. As an example, a recent tornado leveled a neighborhood. Instead of just sending a claims adjuster to work with their members, they provided advance payment on same day it was reported to enable customers to get into hotels and feel some confidence. Claims are settled completely within 7 days. And now, dealing with cross-channel experience, 12% of initial loss reports are completed online.
Looking to the future, Neff believes digital channels will certainly have the opportunity to be more empathetic and provide an emotional connection with customers. For evidence, just think about IBM’s Watson winning at Jeopardy, a game that has many linguistic nuances and even humor injected into questions. For now, solid customer-centric design based on anticipating customer needs is certainly effective.
Signature Health Care’s VP Customer Experience, Andrew Smith, and Strategy talked about the challenges of operating in the nursing home market. Signature Health care found they had “satisfied” customers but no promoters, largely because expectations were so low. Recognizing that people want quality care and compassion, Signature set out to transform their culture.
Similar to UMPQUA bank, they researched companies like Zappos, Chik-fil-A, Ritz Carlton, and Southwest Airlines, and got started documenting their service values – those non-negotiable service elements of their culture. What they found through their process is that wisdom was a missing yet critical ingredient, so they engaged their employees to help get answers to the critical questions that underlie healthcare, including
- Attitudes toward death
- Belief in miracles
- Most important relationships at work
- What customers value most
They found that while their employees felt cohesive bonds with one another and wanted to deliver excellent care, their mission (“Mission: To radically change the landscape of long term care, forever”) wasn’t exactly inspiring to their employees and “corporate hypocrisy” was the #1 threat to their culture.
The journey established “4 chambers” that use the very words that their employees provided and started working to implement core processes that make it stick. Starting with “test facilities” they implemented service standards, training, compensation incentives, and more. They are transforming the nursing home from just care for the sick, to instead be a center of wisdom and transformation. They co-locate with schools to promoter intergenerational learning, provide meaningful connections with society (including arts and social entrepreneurship), and even engage their workforce with gamification and whole-health (mind, body, and soul).
Nothing does more that to reduce the sense of hypocrisy than to have the executives walk in their employees shoes. Taking care of customers isn’t beneath them. In fact, everyone at the company is required to acquire a CNA to be a capable nurse when needed.
What is your company doing to reinvent your industry? How do you stand out? Can you differentiate through the experience?
Day 2 of the CXPA Insight Exchange was opened by Ray Davis, President and CEO UMPQUA Bank. Ray seems to be no ordinary CEO, and UMPQUA is no ordinary bank.
UMPQUA’s biggest challenges were to differentiate, determine work out how to get people in to stores – one of the best opportunities to engage customers and sell – and create a compelling value proposition that was truly differentiated. Especially as more and more interactions go online, banks need to work out what to do with all their real estate.
While their competition thinks like a bank, UMPQUA doesn’t. Since UMPQUA didn’t have the resources of the big banks they decided to learn from firms like Starbucks, Disney, Nordstrom, and Ritz Carlton to deliver a differentiated experience. Stores are designed to be fun environments that don’t look at all like a bank, and there is an emphasis on technology that helps make it fun and educational. They also use the facility as “community centers” and even hold Wii Bowling events in the middle of the work day! But the key isn’t a “fancy store” – it’s more about how the store is operated.
On the “people” side UMPQUA has some practices that are unique to the banking world. For example, they don’t have “tellers” and instead have Universal associates that are experts on everything in the store. Ray describes the culture as empowerment and gives accountability to the front line. Incorporated into the environment of high expectations and “tough love,” Ray instructs employees to call him directly if they are ever criticized for doing something they think is right, and he commits to following up. And critically, culture doesn’t end at the front line and is extended into all the bank’s operations.
Ray told a story about how a front-line employee used some of their “recognition” funds to send a bouquet with a personalized letter to a customer that had lost their dog. Employees don’t need to get approval, and they trust (with some oversight) that the funds are used as intended (and Ray says they are).
It’s not all fun and games – expectations are high, teams are measured, and low performers are coached to improve or quickly removed. One metric Ray highlighted is their “Return on Quality” (RoQ) score, which is an index that combines customer feedback with sales, and the metric rewards both individual and team performance. Stores are stack-ranked, and any store that is in the bottom-third for a few quarters better have a plan to improve.
I could go on and on with stories (team “motivational moments” sessions), but I think a link to Ray’s book is probably most appropriate.
Ray’s only regret? Do it faster. Ray says, “You are even building the business or killing it. There’s no in-between.”
“No one can grow the business the way customers can.” Here at the CXPA Member’s Exchange in San Diego Simon Lowe, Director Field Operations, 1-800-GotJunk, shared their real-world results that back up this statement. 1-800-GotJunk realized that satisfied customers will not grow the business – growth comes from loyal “promoters.”
While the company was growing at such a phenomenal rate (from $1M to $119 million in 7 years), customers had become jobs. Customer complaints hit the web, and remember that Google never forgets. So they’ve made it very easy for customers to tell them where there are issues, so that those issues don’t go to Google.
- They make sure that one person facilitates all complaints through their complaint resolution program, and they make it right within 48 hours. Having one person facilitate the process helps 1-800-GotJunk maintain consistency, which is critical to their business.
- This team also builds process improvements to make sure they don’t repeat the same complaints. As a result complaints are down 15% from 2010 to 2011, which is 2.7% of total jobs. And they are striving to reduce it to zero.
Before their focus on customer experience, repeat business was declining. With this new focus, they found
- 4% of Detractors (score a 0 to 6 on the feedback survey) repeated from 2010 to 2011
- 8% of Passives (score a 7 or 8 on the survey) repeated
- 18% Promoters (9 or 10 response) repeated
Their Net Promoter Score has grown from 68 to 85. This has translated from 31.6% repeat customers in 2009 to 35.01% in 2011. And from 7.8% referrals in 2009 to 8.7% in 2011.This is $1.5 Million in incremental revenue.
Some practices Simon noted:
- They teach their truck teams to actively listen to customers to determine what value means to them. What is the customer really looking for? Loyalty is impossible without value.
- Removed all bonuses based on revenue, and instead bonus based on NPS. No one can grow the business the way customers can. Surveys come from the head office, and they encourage truck teams to make sure customers will give a high score so they can correct any issues on the spot. They track every touch on the customer corridor, and scores impact everyone that touched a given customer, not just front-line.
- They recognize repeat customers – this is more than just technology; it’s education for the front line to listen and watch for ways to remind the customer that they know them. For example, “Can we get you the same coffee as lat time?”
- At the end of their customer feedback surveys, if the customer is a Promoter (scores a 9 or 10) then they ask for referrals right away, both with localized links to social networking sites and also by asking for contact information. We can see from the numbers above that this is working.
- They shine the light on customer experience. For example, they post a stack ranking of complaints per franchisee on their intranet. And they keep it top of mind with cut-outs placed on executives desks showing the competition stealing away their customers.
Loyalty doesn’t allow complacency. It doesn’t take much to turn a Promoter into a Detractor.
An article about our friends at Autodesk, “Autodesk Channels Customer Satisfaction” only scratches the surface.
We all know that when rolled-out improperly, “tying customer satisfaction scores to partner compensation” (as the article states) leads to gaming, poor customer experiences, and reduced customer loyalty. Just think about any recent automobile transaction where the rep tries to “incent” (bribe?) their customer for giving high scores.
While the article covers some of the results that Autodesk has been able to achieve, space constraints prevent the author from detailing some of the best practices that Autodesk has deployed in this multi-year journey. I need to keep this brief myself, so I’ll just elaborate on 3 key items:
- By focusing more on “carrots” than sticks their partners have gained real insights. For example, Autodesk couples “peer benchmarking” insights across several dimensions with proven best practices. A given partner can understand the strength of their customer relationships and resulting business metrics relative to other “partners like me,” and gain expertise around what has worked to drive those improvements.
- Critically, Autodesk has established that the effort is not about the “scores.” Response and coverage targets are combined with peer benchmarks to encourage the best behaviors and outcomes (loyalty and relationship building in pursuit of profitable growth). Autodesk channel partners gain every ability to have candid dialogs – the right feedback from the right people at the right time – to drive incremental growth.
- Autodesk provides their channel partners with value-added infrastructure. They save their partners millions with scalable processes and technology that would be far too costly for individual partners to have to create on their own.
Their winning formula that combines the right data with best-practice insights and tools behind-the-numbers has helped Autodesk’s partners grow. And it’s working: revenue and margins have improved significantly per quarterly and annual filings.
Autodesk has been able to walk a very fine line by focusing on the right business outcomes. Congratulations to our friends on their achievements!
One of our clients has posted a bit about the excellent work they are doing with customer feedback. Although they are using Net Promoter, I believe the most important aspect is that they used the right processes to help prioritize the right initiatives. They included a preliminary subset of the analysis, and more important is the discussion around how we linked the feedback with financial data in order to have the right discussion within the c-suite. Check it out!