Customer Service and the rise of Millennials, part 1 of 2 posts

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. George Orwell

I was asked to take part in a discussion on the impact of the Millennials on the service industry by the Field Service Magazine What on earth are Millennials you might ask? Well they are a group of people that can be best defined as:

Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort born between 1980 to 2000. They follow Generation X, my generation, who were born between 1965 and 1979.

Other names for Millennials include: Generation Y, Generation WHY, Generation Next, Nexers, The Digital Generation, and finally The Gaming Generation

They are the first generation of humans to have been born and brought up in a digital world. If you think about it for a moment you will realise that before the 1980’s there was no digital TV, no smart phones, no public internet, no Personal Computers, nothing of the Internet of Things, no Facebook, no Twitter, no 24*7 multi-channel TV, etc.

If you wanted to phone someone you either used a public phone box or called from home. If you were working on your homework, researching a topic or revising for exams, you either used the school or college library, the local public library or if you were rich [and we were not] a set of Encyclopedia Britannica books. There were only 4 terrestrial TV channels – BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4 [launched in 1982]. Satellite TV was only launched in 1990! Games were restricted to Atari and Space Invaders, or ping pong.

In the IT service industry, we have seen the technology shift more than anywhere else. When I started in the industry, the kit I used to repair were terminal’s, impact printers, and computers running Basic, Pascal, Fortran or proprietary manufacturer operating systems. Now it is Laser printers, PC’s, Intel Servers and a mix of Microsoft, Android, Linux and Apple OS operating systems – much more standard and non-company specific.

In the IT service world, the challenge is that our customers have equipment that may be very new, or up to 25 years old. This means that you need to have the skills and capabilities to be able to manage and repair a set of products that spans such a wide technology platform. In effect bridging two or more generations of knowledge.

This is the challenge all technology providers and supporters face. How do you have the skills and capabilities that you need to maintain a service for 25 years? We have a workforce that is now more than ever aging. A recent report stipulated that the average age of a customer field engineer was over 40 years of age. That 60% of companies currently report that they are understaffed in their technical positions. We are recruiting new engineers all the time and in a lot of cases, they are under 30 years of age with a Millennial view of the world. So what are the typical attributes of a Millennial generation are:

# Always Connected…24/7 and expect that the technology they use is as well
# Extremely self-confident and assured
# Optimistic and hopeful of the future
# They are very independent and are comfortably self-reliant
# Determined and goal oriented, you need to set challenging goals and reward them
# Highly success driven, they do not like it when failure occurs and seek to question why
# Lifestyle centered which means they are not indoctrinated into a 9-5 office world, work-life flexibility is key
# They live and breath diversity and inclusiveness and do not, in general have the same types of hang up and prejudices as the previous generations
# Every single one I have worked with are passionate about global, local, and community social support and activities. They are at the forefront for any charity or positive social actions
# They partner well with mentors, as they value guidance and support. However, they also expect respect
# They thrive on flexibility and space to explore and develop, so find time bound and structured sets of activity frustrating.
They are comfortable with speed and change and are flexible
# Finally, they are great at working together and you might find this surprising, very service oriented.

Why, would they be more service orientated than the previous generation? It is because of the world we live in and the growth of the service sector over the past 20 years. Since 1995, service sector jobs have grown 2x’s versus non-service sector jobs. In fact, over 80% of the jobs now in both the UK and USA are Service sector jobs, versus less than 15% that are traditional manufacturing type jobs. You only have to walk down the high street to see the plethora of cafes, restaurants, coffee shops and the like [for example Costa, Starbucks, Pret, Yo Yo sushi, and Subway just in the food sector].

In the next article, I will share the Q and A that was the outcome from the interview I did.

I leave you with this quote in homage to Christopher Lee who died on the 7th June this year.

He was one of the outstanding actors that spanned the Baby Boomers [1946 – 1964], Generation X [1965 – 1979] and even was recognised by the Millennials [1980 – 2000]. Think of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit series. He started his film career in 1948 and his last film was this year, 2015 – 67 years. He stared in over 206 films and 65 television appearances. Many a Friday evening I would stay up and watch a Hammer House of Horror film with Lee starring in it ….

What’s really important for me is, as an old man, I’m known by my own generation and the next generation know me, too. Christopher Lee

Mindfulness and the fear of change

If you are depressed, you are living in the past
If you are anxious, you are living in the future
If you are at peace, you are living in the present, Lao Tzu

Life is full of change, I would contend that there are three things in life you can be certain of – Taxation, Death and Change. It is all around us. Whether at work, at home or in your social life. Even within you yourself, we are constantly changing. Every day of our lives we are changing physically, as well as mentally.

Our thoughts and feelings constantly shift during the day, from the moment we wake up, through the working day, and onto the evening when home and social activities take over.

However, and this is the big however, we are fearful of change. We want things to be the same, constant and unchanging. All of us have something that we want to remain the same, be it:

I want to keep the same job that I am doing now; I want the relationship to be the same, intense and passionate; I want to live in the same place for the rest of my life; I want my friends to always be like that; I want my hairstyle to be the same; I want to remain the same weight, size of form; etc, etc, etc.

Go on, reflect for a moment on something, no matter how big or small, is going to be important to you and will be something you want to keep the same. And the fear that something is going to change creates tension and worry. The worry of losing that job, that relationship, that friend, that home, that …….. whatever.

Over eighteen months ago I was facing the prospect of walking away from my job, not because I was not good at what I was doing; rather, the environment I was working in was so stressful that it was affecting my health and mental wellbeing. It was affecting me both at work, as well as at home.

For some people they turn to friends for help; for some, they turn to family and loved ones; some turn to drink, drugs or other escape mechanisms. Me, I turned to Mindfulness. I knew that the fears I had were of my own creation, after all what had effectively changed? The work was the same, the colleagues were the same, the pressure was the same. What had changed was my approach and reaction.

I started practicing Mindfulness meditations every morning as a way to be able to deal with the stress and pressure. I never realised at the start, that Mindfulness was a change programme in its own right. There are numerous studies and articles on how the impact of mindfulness changes the brain – one article I suggest you read is:

I noticed after about 6 weeks, that I was feeling different. I did not know at the time if it was the practices, my change in approach at work – brought on by thinking and being more present, or something else.

I completed the 8 week MBSR – Mindfulness Stress Reduction Programme and reflected that since I had made such an effort; changed my habits, including getting up early in the morning to do both mindful movement as well as a 20 minute guided meditation; that I should carry on for a while and see where things have taken me.

I have practiced mindful breathing at work. I have done it in meetings and even on the phone. I have practiced mindful movement as I walk about the office.

I can truely say, with all honesty, that it has changed my like – both at work and privately. Calmness, being present, being non-judgemental and a more reflective approach are the results for me.

If you have been practicing mindfulness at work, or to help you deal with work or social situations, what have you seen as the results?

Normally I leave you with a quote…. but on this occasion, I leave you with a short passage written by Steve Jobs.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
― Steve Jobs

Customer Service, what do you measure when SLAs don’t work? Processes, outcomes, and benefits

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ― Albert Einstein

If you work in a B-2-B [Business-2-Business] environment, you will, at some point, have the opportunity to be in a customer account review. This is where you will be reviewing the performance of your organisation against the business commitments that the customer has contracted with you.

A recent account review sparked this article as the account review I attended was interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which, was the intense discussion on what we should be measuring to gauge the success of the services that we were providing.

Service Level Agreements and the Water Melon effect
The first topic that came up was SLA’s – or Service Level Agreements. SLA’s are is a part of a service contract where a service is formally defined and documented in the contract. Particular aspects of the service – scope, quality, responsibilities – are agreed between the service provider and the service user as part of the contract negotiations and these are then used to measure how well you are providing the services.

The customer brought up the concept of the “water melon effect” and there were a number of people in the room who did not know what that was, nor where it came from. I did! The source of the concept came from a publication from EquaTerra / KPMG in 2013, please see the enclosed for the article:

The water melon effect is where, on the outside the SLA’s are green and are green every month, but the customer feels that the service is not. Inside the water melon, however, issues abound. Often, SLAs are developed based on some form of fault tolerance. Uptime, mean time between failures, mean time to repair, call time, time to resolution and like metrics may register as compliant in the monthly report. However, these SLAs don’t do much to measure the things that really matter such as quality, working as a team, delivering on the business objectives, and working as a valued partner. So the definition is wrong, the target is wrong, and the calculation is probably wrong as well. Those who rely on service and support day to day know too well the operational issues and the impact on the business. Established at the beginning of the relationship in good faith, these SLA measurements tend to lose their meaning later in the contract, becoming pawns in an emotional game where the stakes are penalties, breach of contract, renegotiations, and even the search for a different provider of service. None of which actually add any value to the organization. And this is what was happening to the relationship we had with the customer. The customer themselves, recognised that the original set of SLA’s were not reflective either of their business, how they were looking to the future and more importantly, how we could support their business.

Processes, Outcomes, and Benefits
What then followed was a wide-ranging discussion on what the customer wanted and in fact what we could do to change? After all, without having to make major changes to the contract – in effect tearing it up and re-writing it, which neither party wanted to do, how could we work together in a mutually beneficial way?

We could, of course change the process measures, but keep the overall SLA’s the same – in effect “cheat the SLA framework”. But this did not go far enough. We were already measuring first-time fix, the percentage of calls resolved within 4 hours, etc. It did not feel radical enough.

We could of course measure outcomes, in effect change the measures around. Instead of first time fix, we could measure availability of store devices, ie, uptime of tills. This would mean we could reflect better the customer’s requirements, that of service availability to their customers, rather than how quickly we could get something fixed. Better, and more reflective of the customer’s world.

Why not go one step further and measure benefits? What were the benefits of the service and SLA’s we were tracking to the customer? This is where we were really putting ourselves into their shoes. Reflecting their business on the service we were providing. What did they really want? The fastest throughput of service for their customers. So that is what we are going to focus on. We are going to pilot a number of preventative services, targeting failing areas of the business. We are also going to be proactive in working with the customer on this. We are going to use the intelligence we have built up on their products and how they are used to suggest different approaches to how we will service them.

This is going to be the most difficult and will take time. But it makes much more sense than being known as a water melon provider!!

As always, I leave you with a quote.

“The true measure of a man is not his intelligence or how high he rises in this freak establishment. No, the true measure of a man is this: how quickly can he respond to the needs of others and how much of himself he can give.” ― Philip K. Dick

Mindfulness and the power of non-habit

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

We all have habits; good ones; bad ones; dangerous ones; ones we love; ones we would rather not have. Habits help us to deal with the tide of daily life that washes over us, sometimes shielding us from some of life’s traumas, but sometimes also putting us in danger.

The reason for this post, is someone asked me the other day, whether my mindfulness was a habit. And, how I came to practice mindfulness so often.

I pondered this, as I wanted to reflect that what I was doing and calling mindfulness, was in fact what it should be – present in the moment – rather than a rote set of activities, that I could then attribute to mindfulness.

The Story…….
Let me start by stating, that I came to mindfulness through a need. My own personal need to understand and stop feeling as if life was running away from me, whilst at the same time crushing me under a weight of all that the modern world brings – work, family, kids growing up, the feelings of time rushing by, etc, etc.

We had people living with us that were stressing the family environment; we are as normal, a family unit of four – mum, dad and two children. Hang on though, think of 11 people living together in one house. We were supporting people that were in transition and were staying with us. However, instead of a few days, think of three months as a timeline. Three months, with a house full of 11 bathroom routines; food and dinner routines; the emotions of the day piled up on one another and a whole set of hormones and stresses. In addition, I was severely challenged at work and felt under tremendous pressure. The type of work pressure that was going to break me, mentally. I was waking up at 3am and was unable to go back to sleep, thinking about both the personal and work issues.

Over time, like chinese water torture treatment, you come to believe that the reason why you you are feeling the way you are is completely out of control, but drop by drop you are starting to drown.

So with all of this piling on top on me, or so I thought, what did I do? I was surfing the internet and came across an article on depression and mindfulness. I read it and recognised many of the symptoms I was feeling. The article referenced a talk given by Ruby Wax at The School of life.

Go check it out. It is one of the most funny, insightful, truthful and honest talks I have seen in a long time.

She talked about Mindfulness and a Doctor Mike Williams. I wondered who he was if he had written any books and checked out Amazon. Bingo – Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world.

I bought the book, realizing it was the 8 week MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Programme that Ruby had followed herself. I started reading it the following Sunday and my life has been completely different ever since. Go on think about it for one moment. Has a single book changed your life so fundamentally??

I followed the course religiously. Completely and honestly. I did every single exercise, practice and even went so far as to download the CD as MP3 audios onto my mobile phone so I could listen to the practices whenever I wanted. For eight weeks I did the practices every day, always starting the week’s practices on the Monday. I would get up early on a Sunday morning and quietly read the next chapter in the book – as each of the eight weeks was explained as a separate chapter in the book. I would then get up at 5:30am during the week to give myself the time to practice the exercises.

At the end of the eight weeks; the last chapter of the book completed; I thought, “what do I do now?”. So I continued to practice the exercises every day. I listened to the guided meditation exercises five days per week. I would do the 3 minute quick check in’s during the day. I would do the body scans on a Saturday and rest on a Sunday doing nothing apart from reading and relaxing. And I have continued this, for over 18 months.

You could say that it has become a habit. That it is now so ingrained in my life that I do it automatically. I would challenge that it is not. It is a non-habit. What on earth is non-habit? That does not make sense.

It does and let me explain why.
I get up every day at 5:30am during the week. I have a routine to get myself ready in the morning to go to work and that it involves the following:

# Get out of bed & grab the clothes I laid out for myself the night before

# Go downstairs and grab my mobile phone – no I am not going to make calls, read texts, play games, or look at facebook. And unlike most people, I do not use the excuse of using my mobile as an alarm clock. I have a traditional one by my bed. I read and believe that you need a break from the technology. Else, you might be tempted to look at the latest tweet, text, or flash when you are falling asleep or waking up.

# Go to the spare room and prepare for work

# Do 10-15 minutes of Mindful Movement exercises

# 10-15 minutes of mindfulness – using the mobile phone as the playback for the Dr Mike Williams recordings

# Shower, shave & get dressed

# Go down stairs, let the dogs out, make a cup of tea and have breakfast. Prepare the tea for everyone else and finally……

# Leave for work

But, you will say that is a set of habits!, OK, I would agree that there is a routine. But, every day, I do different mindfulness exercises and a different mindfulness reflection. The framework of mindfulness is there, but the content remains fresh. How can you say that after 18 months? Because it is. I have added more yoga movements to the routine; I have the “monkey mind” to contend with and since the whole purpose of Mindfulness is to be present in the moment without criticism, it works.

And, I have fundamentally changed. Changed in so many ways. The depressive cycle has gone. And my character has changed for ever.

Is this a habit? A non-habit? A change of direction in life? I don’t know. I leave you to decide. I believe it is a “non-habit” rather a framework to live by.

As always, I leave you with a quote….

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Take the dummy out of your mouth and learn positive verbal communications

“How would your life be different if…You walked away from gossip and verbal defamation? Let today be the day…You speak only the good you know of other people and encourage others to do the same.” ― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Further to the recent article “Take the fluff out of your ears. What on earth is the benefit of Active Listening?” I’d like to follow up with by discussing one of the most powerful tools we have as humans. That is our ability to communicate verbally. There is a very famous, often quoted and argued over set of statistics that were developed by Professor Albert Mehrabian who pioneered the understanding of communications. He currently devotes his time to research, writing, and consulting as Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA. Mehrabian’s work featured strongly (mid-late 1900s) in establishing early understanding of body language and non-verbal communications.

The normal representation of Mehrabian’s findings is typically cited as follows:
7% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in the words that are spoken.
38% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is paralinguistic (the way that the words are said).
55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression and body language.

If you think about the proportion of communication that you think you do, which is talking, and listening, you begin to realise that the words and phrases we speak, only account for 7% of the message we are sharing. 38% is the feelings and attitudes of the words that are said. So when I talked about the need to actively listen, this is where it comes into its own.

So what verbal communication techniques can you develop to help you?

Plan what you want and need to say: for those awkward silences with people you hardly know; and impromptu questions. Whether talking to a colleague or the boss; delivering a presentation; or trying to help someone non-technical understand technical information. You need to understand that a conversation is more than you just filling in those empty holes with words.

Put yourself in their shoes and energise your voice by remembering that a conversation is two-way; by understanding others, they will probably want to understand you. By thinking about the opposing viewpoint you may be able to understand and plan for some of the difficult questions or situations that may arise.

Showing interest and not interrupting will help to build rapport and trust with your audience, they are also more likely to want to listen to you too.

Minimise disruptions and distractions from our 24-7 always on, connected environment. Simply put your phone away or on silent; or if taking notes, looking up and making eye contact with the person, can vastly improve the way we communicate with each other.

Telling a story is one of the most powerful ways to activate your brain and engage your listener. You can paint a picture in your listeners’ minds; bringing your presentation to life; and turning a difficult subject into something interesting and understandable. THis is the approach I like to take. When I am presenting, I like to think of a maximum of three messages that I want to convey. I then state them at the front of the presentation, weave stories and anecdotes on these during the presentation and finish up by reiterating them at the end.

Finally, gestures and body language can be distracting and detract from, your message – you are constantly communicating even when you are not saying a word. THink back to the percentages at the top of the article – 55% of message pertaining to feelings and attitudes is in facial expression and body language.Ask a colleague for some feedback on your non-verbal communication, it’s their perception of what you are doing, rather than saying. Does it add impact to your message, or does it detract from what you are trying to say?

Don’t forget to take the dummy out of your mouth. I leave you with the following quote.

“When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases ….. one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy, the appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved” ― George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

Take the fluff out of your ears. What on earth is the benefit of Active Listening?

“The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” — Ralph Nichols

Customer service involves interacting with customers, positively engaging with them and having a dialogue. A dialogue involves at least two people and the conversation that happens means that you have to listen as well as speak. This is even more important if you are having that dialogue over the telephone where you can not see the reaction to the words that you are saying on the other persons face. This is whereactive listening comes into its own. By the way, active listening is one of the key skills that is needed and often used in change work. It is also used in conflict resolution and often in tense situations such as where there is a hostage. I would also suggest that the best doctors and consultants in the medical profession use active listening techniques – though most don’t!. It was one of the courses that I was able to participate in when I worked in the Met Police, which initially sparked my interest in it.

Listening is one of the most fundamental components of interpersonal communication skills. Listening is not something that just happens (that is hearing), listening is an active process in which a conscious decision is made to listen to and understand the messages of the speaker, not just the words and phrases that the person utters.

So what is active listening?
Listeners should remain neutral and non-judgmental, this means trying not to take sides or form opinions, especially early in the conversation. Active listening is also about patience – pauses and short periods of silence should be used where you can reflect on the words spoken to you. I would encourage you to try a little experiment right now.

Hang on a moment!
Stop reading this and go find someone to talk to. But before you go, remember this, during the conversation, when there is a pause and the other person expects you to immediately respond, pause, just for a moment and see what happens. Humans by our very nature can not cope with silence in a dialogue. Those long pregnant pauses drive people nuts. People fill up those silent elements in dialogue. But it is those pauses, that also demonstrate that you can be listening and actively so. When you have tried it, come back for the rest of the article.

You came back, great. Let’s continue.
Listeners should not be tempted to jump in with questions or comments every time there are a few seconds of silence. Active listening involves giving the other person time to explore their thoughts and feelings, they should, therefore, be given adequate time for that. Did you find that you were experiencing a heightened sense of engagement with the other person? Great if you did. If you did not, don’t worry. It takes time and practice to get it.

Active listening also requires listeners to paraphrase what they’ve heard and restate it out
loud to make sure the other party understands what was said, the meaning and intention of the words spoken. At its heart is a three-step communication technique helps ensure both sides fully grasp the issue and both fully understand it.

Step 1. Really listen. No, really really, really listen.
Most of us are passive listeners, multitasking and surface scanning the dialogue as someone speaks. We get the gist of something and assume that’s good enough. it is not. Active listening requires that you are not distracted or inattentive; you must focus on the other person and try to comprehend everything they’re saying. Listen for emotions as well as facts. Try to hear why the customer is having a problem, what they are feeling and how they are presenting the information. These details can shape the entire interaction. If it seems like the issue is complex or includes several parts, it may be helpful to take notes while you’re listening. This applies to both the business, personal, social and counselling worlds.

Step 2. What is the key pieces of information and the feelings they have?
Now that you’ve done your best to fully engage in the listening process, you can begin to process the information. Review what you’ve heard — both the facts and the associated emotions — and list the key pieces. If you do not have all of the information you need to really understand the facts and the other person’s feelings, now is the time to ask the right questions. What are the right questions? For starters, focus on them, not just the problem. By understanding their perceived state of mind, you can provide the right answers to help meet their needs and expectations.

A good example of active dialogue is where you will rephrase a piece of information already provided with a confirming question attached. In effect, you are playing back part of the dialogue with a further qualifying question.

Step 3. Finally, Mirror back to the speaker.
Now you need to replay everything — both facts and emotions — back to the other person in a summary of the issue and problem they have

While active listening and its key parts — focusing, comprehending and reflecting
are great for all areas of life especially in the change work arena; one of the areas that can really benefit from it, is telephone technical support. What does active listening do for technical support?

You solve the person’s problem, not just the problem itself!
Active listening puts you in the customer’s shoes and focuses your attention on them.
If you’re only paying attention to the problem, you weren’t actually listening and may inadvertently come across as condescending or rude. You may still fix the problem, but you have irritated your customer in the process.

You can build relationships with people, even over the phone.
Active listening in technical support shows that you care about and truly value your customers’ feelings and time. You want to really help the customer, rather than just fix the problem at hand. Too often I hear of the fact that the technical agent may fix the initial issue that the person has, but does not resolve the overall problem.

So the next time, you have a problem and phone someone for support and advice, see if they are using active listening skills to try to help you. The next time you have to visit the doctors, see if they are actively listening to your problem, or surface skimming the conversation and prejudging the outcome. You will be surprised how few people really, truly, actively listen.

I leave you with the following quote. One day, I am going to ask someone to take that bit of fluff out their ears and really listen!

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Customer Experience Design is unique to your companies customers, you can’t copy other people’s

“In the innovation age customer experience is key. Your impression defines their expression” ― Fela Durotoye

I have been a passionate advocate of Customer Experience Design for many years. As a process; as an approach to changing your customer service; as much as an ethos – the idea of consciously and thoughtfully thinking though how you are going to design the experience that your customer have with your organisation – be it public sector, private sector, large or small – is one I feel passionate about.

I have designed organisations and processes around a set of key Customer Experience Design principles; as well as been on the receiver of other people executing a customer experience scenario.

Every single day of our lives, we are both consumers and providers of customer experience. You fill your car up with fuel; buy groceries at a store; go shopping in a mall or shopping centre; go out for dinner / cinema / brunch; or interact with any other human being or via technology [web sites, portals, or online purchase / complaint / ordering systems] and you are a consumer of Customer Experience Design.

Think for just a moment on the last purchase or engagement experience you had. Do you even remember it? If you do, was it positive or negative or just plain bland. Yes, I’ll challenge anyone, that we seek to please through bland and “sameness” of service, rather than seeking to be different.

if you are in the product, produce, or service business, this applies to you. Hang on one minute, I would even go so far as to say, tell me a job that does not involve Customer Experience Design. I find it hard to think of one. But please feel lt to suggest some.

So, what is Customer Experience Design?
Customer Experience Design or CED, is the explicit processes, tools, technology, people and approach you use, to place your customers at the heart of your business, to deliver the experience YOU want to deliver to YOUR customers, that delivers value to your customers, employees and if successful, shareholders.

I stress the words YOU and YOUR as this is a reflection of your organization’s feelings, emotional connection to and way you want to interact with your customers. It is all about you.

you can not and must not seek to emulate, copy or fudge your customer experience design principles. Annette Franz stated it really clearly by saying:

“…..are you more focused on what your competitors or other companies are doing than on your own business, customer and customer experience strategy? I feel like some companies are dumbing down their customers and the customer experience.“

I completely agree. Companies are not looking at they own capabilities and seeing where excellence in their own organisations is. Rather, they are recycling the same excellent examples where previous thought leading organisations have developed their own Customer Experience narrative. I doubt any of those companies deliberately set out to be the exemplar, rather they said:

“what do we need to do to be different; to stand out; to be the leaders in our field; to be the best we can possibly be; to be the company our customers never want to leave?”

Perhaps it is these types of questions you need to focus on instead?

Thanks again to Annette Franz for the post that inspired these thoughts.

I leave you with this quote….

“Companies that were paying attention understood they were witnessing the birth of the “self-directed consumer”, because the internet and all the other tools for the flat world had created a means for every consumer to customize exactly the price, experience, and service he or she wanted.” ― Thomas L. Friedman