Hi Luke, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am the founder and CEO of FirstRoot, a Benefit Corporation devoted to creating great economic equality. My previous company, Conteneo, was an enterprise software company that helped global companies manage investment portfolios using Participatory Budgeting. Now I am leveraging the experience I gained working with some of the world’s largest companies to help prepare our children for their future by bringing Participatory Budgeting into schools to teach financial literacy, civics, and design thinking.
I consider myself to be an old-school Silicon Valley entrepreneur — instead of building companies to flip, I build companies that make the world better!
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
The biggest misunderstanding is that customer experience is about the user interface of a product or the front-line workers in a service. Customer experience is vastly deeper and more important. It begins with the intrinsic quality of the product or service. Simply put, not amount of ‘good customer experience’ can overcome an intrinsically inferior product. And your brand cannot save you from poor quality.
A great example is a recent personal experience my wife had in purchasing a Wolf stove. While Wolf is known for expensive appliances and acceptable levels of customer service, their lack of product quality created an awful customer experience. With a large family, my wife is a very busy cook. After nearly 15 years of heavy use, our previous oven failed. She thought that upgrading to a Wolf would be a great idea. What a mistake. Within one week of installing the new oven my wife could tell something was wrong: it simply did not cook properly. After another week, the electronics shorted out and failed. Wolf replaced them under warranty. The electronics failed again. After another set of phone calls my wife managed to get Wolf to replace the current oven and replace the electronics a third time. And no, the current oven does not cook evenly (she’s done many experiments). And no, we have zero faith that the new oven (whenever it may arrive!) will work as advertised.
It should be obvious in this story that a customer experience would have been an oven that worked. By failing to deliver the most essential aspect of the product – what Ted Levitt would call the ‘essential product’, Wolf failed every other aspect of good customer experience.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
I like SAFe and its focus on customer centricity and design thinking as a means to improve CX.
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
For software / tech companies, focus on the basics: ship products with fewer bugs. Ship features that work.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
The most relevant of these metrics is the metric an organization chooses to use. No metric matters if they organization ignores the data it generates.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
The first step is understanding the social media their customers are using. From there, the company and listen first, understand the social norms, and then integrate into the social media landscape in a respectful manner.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
I think they are a promising technology that contributes to the multi-channel customer support experience.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
Oh man — this one is tough! I thought The Platform was quite gripping.