Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Customer Experience is “Finger Lickin’ Good”

Greasy food and computers usually don’t mix well. Rule one: do not touch anything while eating fried chicken. Rule two: use those dang wet wipes! They’re there for a reason. So, KFC was mindful of the challenges that face always-connected customers who are trying to eat a bucket of fried chicken. They distributed a wireless, rechargeable, paper-thin, and grease-resistant tray typer on each tray during a one-week campaign in Germany. Armed with robust customer understanding, CX pros used research based stories to map out how a customer moves and feels between the moments they have along the way at KFC. Simply put, CX pros looked for connectors and moments to elevate the customer journey.

Instead of trying to accomplish the massive task of meeting customers’ every need at every point in time, KFC focused solely on the negative nodes of the experience and rerouted the experience along a more pleasant path. But eliminating negative nodes is not just about technology design. Rather, it involves personal interactions, tone of voice, and proactivty. For example, when a Delta passenger contacts an agent after Delta texts her about an automatic rebooking due to a flight cancellation, and the agent immediately asks if she is calling about the rebooking text message. This turns what could have been an emotionally-fraught moment that left the customer experience in tatters into a seamless transition. Continue reading “Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Customer Experience is “Finger Lickin’ Good””

Your Customers Are Talking. Are You Listening?

Over the past several decades, technology has changed everything – including people. Consider the impact that the internet has already had on education, communication, science, travel, government, and business. In the past, a bad customer experience may have meant a lost customer or two, but today’s rapid advancements in technology have challenged that notion. As a result of social tools and online connectivity, the customer’s voice is amplified and has the potential to outshout the corporate marketing machines.

Ask any customer experience, research, or marketing executive, and they will tell you that gone are the days of companies engaging prospects through one-way dialogue. Customers will not simply be talked at, so market leaders have shifted their listening and response mechanisms to capture more of the customer’s input and behaviors. Now more than ever, customer relationships have a lot more to do with listening and engaging – that’s why developing a VoC and CEM program (Customer Experience Management) offers a huge opportunity to drive loyalty and increase sales. Continue reading “Your Customers Are Talking. Are You Listening?”

Agile, Scrum, and Kanban: What the Heck Do These Words Really Mean?

In my current role as a Senior Product Manager, I often hear about “new agile frameworks”. Leading up to my current role and responsibilities, my colleagues and I likely did the Homer-Simpsonian nodd, pretending that we knew what it’s about, but we might have one, and only one, question: What the heck does “agile framework” mean? I’ll try to explain and to clarify some of these terms.
Agile methodology is a general approach to project management and product development, which has mainly been utilized in software development. However, Project Managers and Product Managers everywhere are finding we can apply agile principles and practices to virtually any business area in a the company. Continue reading “Agile, Scrum, and Kanban: What the Heck Do These Words Really Mean?”

Project Managers Needed on Deck

Cruise ship operators are now undertaking projects to offer passengers satellite Internet, onboard texting networks, digital signs with touchscreens, streaming video and interactive online gaming. One of the last holdouts against high tech is finally coming around. The complexity, technical limitations and costs of upgrading vessels constantly on the move are big reasons cruise lines have been slow to undertake connectivity projects. Project teams face a host of challenges unique to the industry when integrating new technology into cruises.

Later this year, Royal Caribbean will finish building its third smartship, featuring cocktail-mixing robots and passenger wristbands that serve as room keys. And by late 2016, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will complete a project to roll out free unlimited Wi-Fi access for every passenger. Continue reading “Project Managers Needed on Deck”

A Foundation for Innovation

In order to stay relevant with today’s highly connected and empowered consumers, I’ve been monitoring how some of my favorite retailers are setting out to ensure they don’t get left behind.  The pace of change is showing no signs of slowing down and I’m fascinated by how companies are embracing the new shopper journey. Shoppers will continue to embrace the ‘I Want What I Want When I Want It’ mentality, and the industry will need to evolve along with that sentiment.  As we continue to see the physical and digital worlds blend, the focus of retail is going to become more about creating fully immersive and integrated shopping experiences that start at the point of consumer inspiration and need.

Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Zappos, Walmart, Sephora, and Lowe’s are among the growing list of retailers launching internal innovation labs. These labs feature dedicated tech teams and change agents who focus on understanding shifting customer preferences, investigating emerging technologies and solutions, and implementing new strategies across all revenue channels. These companies are examples of brands with a clear plan to solve key pain points with technology. There’s no lack of ideas or opportunities, but they are not just testing flashy products or ideas without a clear strategy. Continue reading “A Foundation for Innovation”

The Holacracy Vision at Zappos

Delivering Happiness. An excellent book and great for business owners. It's a game-changer.: One of the greatest parts of my job in the Voice of Customer industry is that I’m constantly learning about the brands I love and admire while hearing what customers are saying about them.

Over the years, Zappos has inched its way to the top of my “most loved” list. I admire the company because it provides a great selection of products and designers at a reasonable price. As time goes on, I’ve come to appreciate their focus on great customer service and hassle-free delivery, returns and exchanges. But most recently, I’ve come to admire the company’s CEO Tony Hsieh for his ongoing focus on finding and retaining the best employees to drive his business forward.

It can easily be argued that Hsieh’s business practices are unorthodox. After all, what other C-level executive would actually pay his employees to leave the company? In 2008, Zappos made headlines when the general public got hold of their new onboarding policy. After employees are hired, they enter an extensive, four-week training program to learn about the overall company culture, as well as business strategies and processes. A week into the program, Zappos gives these employees the ultimate proposition, as noted by Bloomberg: “If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you worked, plus a $2,000 bonus.”   Continue reading “The Holacracy Vision at Zappos”

Rediscovering the Starbucks Customer

Late afternoon today, I sat in the eighth-floor conference room at 111 N. Canal St in Chicago and reached for my regular Friday indulgence of a Starbucks white chocolate mocha topped with whipped cream. As I waited for my colleagues to join me, I reflected on the company’s recent performance. While other retailers are still reeling from recession, Starbucks is enjoying consecutive years of 5% or more comparable store sales growth. However, more recent market research has revealed some unexpected findings and according to the data, they are not always meeting their customers’ expectations in the area of customer satisfaction. As a result of these concerns, leadership had come up with a plan to invest an additional $40 million annually in the company’s 4,500 stores, which would would allow each store to add the equivalent of 20 hours of labor a week.

The guiding point was to improve speed-of-service and thereby increase customer satisfaction. Further foundational questions have me wondering, “do they believe what their customers tell them about what constitutes ‘excellent’ customer service? And if they deliver it, what will the impact be on their sales and profitability?” What makes Starbucks’ success even more interesting to me is that the company has spent almost nothing on advertising and marketing. Most of their marketing budgets consist of point-of-sale materials and local-store marketing and is far less than the industry average. (Most fast-food chains have marketing budgets in the 3%-6% range.) Continue reading “Rediscovering the Starbucks Customer”

A Culture of Collaboration

Most of us are familiar with Post-it Notes. But what most people do not know is how they came to be. Unlike so many companies that develop products by imagining and then trying to build something – 3M (formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) owes the development of Post-it Notes , and so many of its other products, to one simple thing: its culture of sharing.

Spencer Silver, the scientist who is partially credited with the creation of the Post-it, was in his lab at the Minnesota-based company, actually trying to develop a very strong adhesive. Unfortunately, he wasn’t successful. What he actually made was a very weak adhesive. Based on the requirements given to him, he had failed it seemed. But Silver didn’t throw his “failure” in the trash out of embarrassment. He didn’t keep his error a secret out of fear for his job or risk of losing credibility. In fact, the unintentional invention was shared with others at the company…just in case someone else could figure out a way to use it. Continue reading “A Culture of Collaboration”

Why I Think Nordstrom’s Digital Strategy Works

For nearly 100 years, Nordstrom’s purpose has been to provide a fabulous customer experience by empowering customers and the employees who serve them. To fulfill this purpose, as far back as the late 1990s, Nordstrom started looking for opportunities to invest in technologies that would further empower their employees. These investments included Nordstrom.com and a perpetual inventory system that allowed them to offer an integrated consistent multi-channel experience by 2002.

Then, between 2004 and 2014, Nordstrom made an extraordinary series of investments, each aimed at that same purpose of providing a fabulous customer experience. First came a new point-of-sale system that included personal book software so that salespeople could track individual customer requests and needs online. This was followed in quick succession by the launch of an innovation lab, the creation of Nordstrom apps, the introduction of popular social apps that created buzz as well as mobile checkout, support for salespeople texting, and ultimately the acquisition of a cloud-based men’s personalized clothing service. Continue reading “Why I Think Nordstrom’s Digital Strategy Works”

How the Beauty App Revolution is Changing the Way I Shop

Lately I’ve been interested in the explosion of beauty apps in 2014. It presents me with a new way to engage with colors that I like as well as make-up brands that I love. With the bigger picture in mind, the rise of personal data collection and analysis in the health and beauty markets are being revolutionized by new tools allowing consumers to explore their products whenever and where ever they want to.

As a consumer, I’m interested in the idea of using technology to help with my shopping experience. As Mintel research shows, a quarter of lip, eye and/or nail make-up users are interested in using a device to virtually try on products in-store (e.g. a digital mirror to test a lipstick shade on an image of themselves.) This rises to 30% among 16-24-year-olds. Continue reading “How the Beauty App Revolution is Changing the Way I Shop”