Close the loop with clients, but mean it!

In the first weekend of October, me and my wife Angela decided to celebrate our 2nd anniversary with a long weekend at one of the iconic Pousadas de Portugal – Monument and Historic Hotels, part of Pestana Hotel Group, the largest and most famous Portuguese tourism and leisure group, known for its quality.

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The hotel is situated at the top of a high hill, on the back of the famous Sanctuary, with the same name – Santa Luzia. The view is breathtaking, to the sanctuary, the town, the river, the beaches, and the Atlantic ocean. It is a fantastic and beautiful place, luxurious, quiet and well decorated.

Our 3-day stay was outstanding, and I guess our mood and the celebration also helped tolerate or overcome the less great things – e.g. the hotel doesn’t have a gym, and I really like (and in this case, needed) to do some exercise. That is why, when asked at check-out, we both smiled and said “everything was great!”.

But when I received the request for feedback, via email, a few days later, I thought it would be important to flag a couple of things that, at the time, we didn’t bother mentioning, to avoid ruining our good mood – as we still had a full-day and trip back home, until the weekend was over.

My response to the feedback survey was really positive with regards to staff, service, accommodation, etc. But I pointed out that… a) in both nights we found, and had to kill, two centipedes; b) the quality of the food in the hotel restaurant wasn’t up to their standards.

The hotel’s response came into my inbox a couple of days later, which I must say, impressed me. But when I opened the email, noticed it was sent from a generic email address (even though signed by the Operations – Unit Manager) and contained a very obvious standard message.

Thank you for your preference (…) as well as the time for filling out our questionnaire (…) pleased to receive the evaluation and the comment about your stay (…) we work daily to meet the expectations (…) hence the comments of our clients are a stimulus and an opportunity for continuous improvement”.

The truth is they clearly didn’t address my comments, or even bothered apologising. So I replied again, saying that although I appreciated the prompt response I was disappointed and felt the feedback survey was just a formality, and not something they look forward to, in order to feed continuous improvement.

In less than one hour (44 minutes to be precise) Célia Marques (the Operations – Unit Manager) sent me a personalised email from her email address, assuring me that my comments and criticisms did indeed merit her attention, and apologising for the standard response.

Explaining that the centipedes situation was very hard to avoid in such a historic building with the characteristics inherent to the time it was built (wooden floor and poor insulation), and the restaurant feedback had already found its way to the chef “to jointly carry out the corrective actions to improve quality”.

I was delighted, and will certainly go back. However, the poor experience with the standard email was completely unnecessary. And it could put some people off. Or just prevent them from giving the hotel invaluable feedback next time, which would be a lost opportunity for improvement.

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Qualtrics, Medallia and Challenges for CX Pros

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Forrester as just released their Q4 2018 Forrester Wave™ for Customer Feedback Management Platforms, identifying, analysing and scoring the most significant vendors in the market. The report “shows how each provider measures up and helps customer experience professionals choose the right Customer Feedback Management vendor for their organization“.

Forrester’s last evaluation in this space was back in Q2 2017, and since then significant changes and improvements were noticed in the technology platforms. However, challenges on the CX space are still there for CX professionals to face. They are struggling to improve CX due to…

  • Missing strategy and cooperation across the organisation
  • Ad-hoc and uncoordinated projects and initiatives
  • Shortage in customer experience measurement data
  • Disparate operational (O-data) and experience (X-data) data silos
  • Absence of a C-level or senior leadership sponsor
  • Lack of one single experience and feedback management platform

Qualtrics and Medallia are clearly leading the pack, not only in terms of offering but also market presence. And these are the ones I usually hear and talk about, when I’m discussing with my clients.

Forrester recognises that Qualtricshas made significant investments (…) strengthening its position” in particular in its “analytics capabilities by adding the ability to conduct complex conjoint analysis (…) and introducing Predict iQ, which lets clients move from being reactive to proactive by identifying at-risk customers“. But Qualtrics is much more than just a CX platform, as they have built a comprehensive XM platform that brings brand, product, and employee experience together with customer experience.

The other leader, Medallia, also “enables a culture of CX, democratizing insights by bringing the VoC to the frontlines and incorporating the voice of the employee”, and they also “updated its text analytics capabilities and introduced new features like Conversations, which lets customers provide real-time feedback across messaging platforms such as SMS and Facebook Messenger (…) and VoC Anywhere, which lets companies collect feedback natively through various internetconnected devices or platforms”.

One thing is for sure, a Customer Feedback Management platform is critical to CX transformation. Forrester says…

To transform customer experience, CX professionals rely on customer feedback management technologies and services (…) because it helps manage complexity, by centralizing and automating key VoC activities [Listen, Interpret, Act, and Monitor]“.

“Customer What?” – a CX must read

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Customer What? is definitely one of the best Customer Experience (CX) books I have ever read – and believe me, I have read many of them! Ian Golding promised us something and I feel he over-delivered. The books is just a fantastic guide for CX practitioners, and the description in cover is spot on: The honest and practical guide to customer experience.

It is indeed honest. Ian is absolutely telling the reader what he truly believes is the best approach and practice. As well as sharing what he experimented and used. Those who know Ian (I’m one of those privileged people) can surely “hear is voice” when they’re reading. The way it is written is the exact same way Ian would tell you.

It is surely practical. Ian is not trying to share concepts, beliefs or ideas. He shares some very important principles, for sure, as well as some very good ideas. But above all he is sharing practical actions, tasks, steps – those which have worked for him – and the detail. The biggest chapter is named “Making it happen in practice” and is actually about doing.

Furthermore, the book’s structure and layout is great and really focused on being a practical manual, rather than a book you read once and put in the shelf. There is a notes area in most pages (the only thing preventing you from having it always in your back pocket is the size) and all chapters have 3 sections: Theory, Practice, and Story.

Even there you can see Ian’s character in the book. I’m sure most people (or editors) would say that having personal stories in a book would not be interesting or relevant to the reader. But in this case Ian’s stories are absolutely crucial and spot on, to depict the key points he is making in each section. Just like being in his workshops!

Thank you Ian. Your book has not only taught me a lot, it has also been a fantastic guide and manual whenever I’m supporting my clients and my teams.

7 OSvC features to comply with GDPR

GDPR came into play 3 months ago, but companies are still struggling. One of the main concerns is related to the systems and databases where they hold customer data – be it personal, operational or experience data.

A significant number of Oracle Service Cloud (OSvC) administrators and super-users have recently contacted me, asking what actions to take to ensure they are GDPR-compliant. Like so many other technology vendors, Oracle is developing the platform.

Last week the OSvC product/development teams at Oracle and the OSvC All Stars got together to review the features available, look at the roadmap, and discuss what other solutions or developments could help the companies who use OSvC.

The truth is that the features that will help comply with GDPR are being released since 17C (Aug 2017), and there is a very busy roadmap, with other features coming.

1. The Bulk Delete API was released in 17C for Incident and Opportunity objects, expanded in 17D for Contacts and Custom objects, and expanded further in 18A for Accounts and Organisation objects. It allows you to efficiently delete large data sets, having the flexibility to select the data to delete using ROQL queries.

2. Until now, when you created a test environment, you would get a clone of your instance with all your data. The difference is that the emails had a .invalid suffix. Having real/production data in a test environment could be a GDPR breach. Since release 18B it is possible for administrators to create a test instance without standard transactional data.

3. Various enhancements to the Audit Log are going to be released in the next few versions of OSvC. 18C provides the ability to capture viewing of Contact records, as well as report downloads. 18D and 19A will introduce Field Level Audit Logs on individual attributes of the Contact object. And to answer your questions re. space, the Audit Logs will be written to a secondary store, unloading the primary database.

4. Bulk Data Extract capability will be available from release 18D, for Incident and related sub-objects. This would be supported by an asynchronous REST API that will allow you to extract large volumes of data, into compressed .csv files. Enabling organisations to archive data that is old or not needed, but needs to be retained.

5. Deleting OSvC interfaces was something that companies struggled with, as it usually went wrong, impacting other interfaces. Since 18C this capability was enhanced by Oracle, allowing you to contact Customer Care and request interface deletion, to reduce database size.

6. The Data Lifecycle Policies user interface is available since release 18A, and allows you to easily manage data lifecycle policies for objects. In 18A it supported a limited number of transactional objects, 18B brought it to Incident archive/purge, and 18C for Custom Objects and indexed system attributes on Incident and Contact objects.

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7. Finally, in release 18C you can redact or anonymise sensitive information in Incident Threads.

Does changing NPS scale make sense?

Recently, a few clients were asking my opinion on NPS and the way it is calculated, scored, as well as its scale. And one of them pointed me to this article: Why there needs to be a European variant of the Net Promoter Score

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By Alexander Dobronte in http://www.checkmarket.com

It is an interesting article, and you can see that the author put some thought on the topic, and tried to build a logic around it, and for that alone it is worth reading. However, I must confess it is the first time I see such a thing, even though I would not be surprised if someone told me others have already suggested changing the way to calculate NPS.

I completely understand where the author is coming from, and what he says may even make sense in certain scenarios. But, it would fall short if we look at it from various other perspectives. For example, in my home country, Portugal, the school grades are given on a scale of 0 to 20. Also, I think that a person with low expectations would easily give a NPS score of 10 for the same service or experience that a person with high expectations would class as a 8 or 9.

No system is foolproof, and applies to every scenario in the same way, or is interpreted by every person the same way. I think the way people react and respond will always depend a little bit on one’s idiosyncrasy. As well as one’s cultural, educational, sociological and economical backgrounds. Sometimes even one’s momentarily mood!

And it is probably recognising exactly that, that the NPS creators and the majority of CX practitioners and specialists, choose to respect NPS score/scale. There’s no point in trying to create multiple variations of the way you calculate NPS, otherwise every company would end up with a different way of calculating NPS, defeating the whole purpose of a standard and consistent way of measuring.

As we all know, NPS was created (and is a trade mark) by Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company, and Satmetrix. And the way it is calculated and measures is well explained in the official site – with Detractors (0-6), Passives (7-8) and Promoters (9-10).

What are your thoughts? Are you using the official NPS scale or diverting from it?

Bank Policies – Killers for CX and EX

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Photo: Alamy

This week I decided to close a bank account that I have in Portugal and don’t use anymore. Expecting it would be quicker, I went to a Santander Totta branch, where I was greeted by one of the employees. In order to identify the account in the system, she asked me for a card associated, and then printed a few forms for me to sign. So far, so good.

To close the account, she said it was mandatory for me to provide both the credit and the debit cards associated with the account. As I don’t use the account, the credit card is in a drawer in London, and I was in Portugal. “Can you just inactivate the card in the system?”, I asked, only to see her face frown.

She continued to click and type on the computer, and until the end of the meeting never referred the credit card again or the obligation to hand it over. What followed was a request for me to sign two forms, which I did. “Sorry sir, can you please sign as per what I have in my computer”, she said, turning the screen in my direction.

I almost didn’t recognise the signature. My wife said, “Is that your signature?”. The signature was over 20 years old. Naturally, my writing had changed since, and I wasn’t able to recreate that. Her face frown again. “Well, you can check my id card. My signature is there”. Reluctantly, she accepted, and asked to copy the id card for proof.

Despite a few hurdles, all items in the close-bank-account list seemed to be ticked. But I had €2.19 in the account. She put the options to me: a) I could deposit €7.81, go to the cash machine (ATM) and withdraw €10. Or b) I could go to the teller and pay €5 to withdraw the €2.19. Needless to say, it was my turn to frown. I don’t usually like to be treated like a fool.

In any case, I didn’t want the €2.19 but could not contain myself and said the second option was non-sense. She responded “It is just the way it is. Rules are rules”. Again, I could not stay quiet, and told her it didn’t need to be that way, and it shouldn’t be that way. And that certain rules are just idiotic. She didn’t empathise with me.

I decided to try and explain. Put a smile on my face, and said “You know, it is not your fault. You’re just following orders. But the person that is comfortably sitting at a desk, on the 30th floor of the bank’s HQ, very well paid to come up with these rules, would probably need to come down, and visit the gemba”. Finally, she got me!

Sir, if you don’t do anything, when the account is closed, they will send you a letter asking you to come in and get the €2.19. Then, you don’t have to pay or deposit anything to get the money”. She thought I would be happy with this hidden option c) and was disappointed when I frown again. “Really, and you think that makes sense?”, I asked.

At this point she was confused and probably thinking that I was one of those who is never happy. I tried to explain again. “You see, the bank will spend around €5 (paper, printer, post) to send me a letter, so I come and withdraw €2.19. Isn’t this non-sense?” Again, she got me, and nodded.

This is a very good and real example of where a bank is making up rules and policies that serve no real purpose, and sometimes make absolutely no sense. Killing the customer and employee experiences.

Rules and policies that will only increase customer effort, distrust, irritation and disloyalty. Also creating friction between customers and employees, who then get increasingly frustrated and feeling powerless.

We bump into similar things in retailers, telecom providers, hospitals, public services, etc. CX and EX killers which make no sense but amazingly aren’t eliminated, simply because there isn’t a process in place, to actually find them and measure their impact.

The first step to o find these CX and EX killers is definitely to put in place Voice-of-Customer (VoC) and Voice-of-Employee (VoE) initiatives. Without feedback, how will the policy makers understand the impact of their ideas? And how will the Experience Managers improve CX and EX?

High street retail done right, by John Lewis