Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomeInterviewsCXBuzz Interview with Mike Kendall, Managing Director at The Customer Lab

CXBuzz Interview with Mike Kendall, Managing Director at The Customer Lab

Hi Mike, tell us about yourself, your background?

Sure. Despite my youthful ambitions to become a rock-star drummer, better judgment led me to a career in business (although I’m still keeping my chops up).

I am passionate about helping leaders and teams create amazing customer experiences, value, and thriving communities. I’ve lived this out through leading CX, Design Innovation, and Operations teams for companies like Intuit, Capital One, Humana, and Citigroup. Most recently, I’ve taken this passion and experience into the consulting world and have been privileged to help create substantial customer value for companies like Roche, Procter & Gamble, 7-Eleven, and others.

Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?  

Whether it is from consumer reviews, online surveys, or other sources of feedback, it is important to have a robust, rapid, and action-oriented Voice of the Customer Listening approach.

I use a VoC Maturity Assessment to help organizations evaluate and create awesome VoC systems that drive improved products, experiences, and customer loyalty. Some of the key elements include:

  • Comprehensiveness: Are you listening to customer’s voice from across all of your key products and touchpoints?
  • Targeted: Do you know what the key drivers of loyalty are and how well are they being measured for both functional and emotional success at these moments?
  • Predictive: Have you instrumented your experiences to anticipate when customers may have a “flat-tire” experience?
  • Reliable: How consistently accurate is your VoC data? Does it represent the true sentiment of your customers?
  • Accessible: How easy is it for customers to let you know how you are doing?
  • Actionable: Are the data and insights you collect driving improvement and innovation that help you attract and retain customers?
  • Responsive: What happens when you become aware of a negative customer experience? How immediate (or existent) is your response and recovery?
  • Shared: To what extent are feedback, insights, and your response to them shared with customers, employees, leaders, and partners?

What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?

The most important element of any customer experience management strategy is an intentional approach to attract and retain customers. This means you have an offering that is so compelling it delights customers beyond any other alternative and leads to loyalty and positive affection for the solution and your brand. I use a 3-legged “Delight Stool” metaphor to explain how to evoke customer affection and loyalty. Three legs because without one, the stool cannot stand, and customer loyalty and business success suffer.

Three Legs of The Customer Delight Stool:

  • Customer-Centric Design
  • Customer-Centric Delivery
  • Customer-Centric Culture

Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?

If nothing else, the global pandemic was a customer-centricity wake up call for many. Interestingly, local businesses were often quick to pivot delivery and service methods while larger enterprises frequently struggled to change.

As more events, businesses, and travel begin to open up; customers are likely to have a wide variety of comfort levels reengaging. Understanding those emotions and adapting to them will be critical for businesses. Training employees and leaders in customer empathy techniques, equipping them with a number of alternatives to accommodate differing customer needs and reinforcing that behavior will help set brands apart.

What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?

I mentioned the “Delight Stool” as a key strategy for creating customer value. Here are a few elements of the three legs to consider:

Leg 1 – Customer-Centered Design:

  • Deeply understand your customer, their problems/pains, and how well your solution(s) addresses their needs.
  • Get empathy for your customer’s situation, run rapid experiments to test if your hypothesized solutions solve the pain, and use the evidence from those experiments to make decisions about pivoting, persevering, iterating, or stopping together.

Leg 2 – Customer-Centered Delivery:

  • Deploy & Analyze. Ensure your experience is designed from end-to-end, define key loyalty drivers, and understand those drivers’ economics.
  • Manage. Set goals for customer loyalty, establish end-to-end experience ownership and create operating mechanisms to plan and confirm that the teams understand what is most important for customers, how well they are delivering it, and establishing and reviewing priorities for improvement.
  • Improve & Innovate. Conduct those regular experience reviews, leverage your customer listening system, and close the loop both for individual experience failures and larger systemic issues.

Leg 3 – Customer-Centered Culture:

  • Establish and reinforce a noble, inspirational, and aspirational purpose for your company and your products/services. Create a compelling case for serving others that attracts, motivates, and retains top talent.
  • Agree upon shared values and behaviors that help your team drive toward the noble purpose.
  • Articulate the specific behaviors that lead toward high-performing teams and success. Ensure you have systems, structures, rewards, compensation, and norms established that support the behaviors.

What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?

I’ve actually been reading some early material from New York Times Bestselling Author Brant Cooper’s upcoming book Disruption Proof.

Brant uses powerful case studies from notable companies like Intuit, 3M, Cargill, and others, to demonstrate how to ensure organizations can become resilient, agile, and dynamic enough to endure long-term weathering from storms of disruption and uncertainty. What I love about this material is the detailed methods of progressing through stages of implementation to embrace a new way of working and moving from uncertainty to certainty in decision making. It is available for pre-order here if you want to check it out.

Mike’s predictions for the future of CX

What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?

If you asked me this question in February of 2020, I would have been absolutely wrong, so please take my answer with a few grains of salt.

I believe Customer Experience, as a discipline and profession, is still in its adolescence. Unlike 4,000 years of agreed-upon norms and standards for double-entry accounting, to say that CX is even a “thing” at this point is a bit presumptive. I do, however, think we can all agree that there is a great need in our companies to 1) Understand that business success is tied to the creation of long-term customer value, 2) Focusing on short-term economic gains over time erodes customer value, 3) Organizational silos and bureaucracy create more customer pain, and 4) A new way of working and organizing is needed for the 21st century.

We are already seeing some companies address these “knowns” by installing end-to-end customer experience owners and giving them substantial power and authority to cut through the silos. We are seeing goal setting, metrics, and rewards being recalibrated around long-term value creation. And, we see approaches like Agile, Lean Innovation, and Human-Centered Design jump out of product and lab organizations and spread across all organizational functions.

These are great rays of hope but seem to be moving too slowly to catch up to the accelerating changes in our economy, customer preferences, and social norms. That tension is certainly exciting for those of us who love to help drive transformation, so hopefully, more CX professionals will go beyond journey mapping, VoC, and improvement projects to insert themselves into the bigger game. We need everyone to jump in!

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

With my Twitter handle being @DelightAposlte, you might have guessed that Customer Delight would be my favorite metric. The economic differences between satisfied and delighted customers are massive and should motivate every leader to stretch their goals to be the very best at what they can be. Delighted customers spend more, stay longer, cost less to serve, spread the good word about your company to others, and freely give of their time to help advance your brand and co-create new products and solutions.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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