Hi Mike, tell us about yourself and your background.
I’m Storyminers’ founder and managing partner, IBM’s former eVisionary, a digital agency founder, and a 5-time professional services entrepreneur who speaks four languages. My job is to help leaders find profitable opportunities, sharpen their ideas, win support from their teams, and create more value for their customers. My clients have called me an “expert at defining what’s next.” My favorite creative media are stories, strategies, and customer experience design. I’m also a global speaker, podcast guest, blogger, and media contributor.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
At the practitioner level, many younger professionals believe that CX is the way to help the company do more of what’s suitable for clients. At the leadership/sponsor level, CX is often seen as a tool to help customers do more of what benefits the business. Like spend less time on the phone, go into a store less frequently, and do more support tasks independently.
The most significant misunderstanding (underutilized application, really) of CX is using it as a tool to help achieve other business outcomes. In my experience, the highest and best use of CX is to set the business outcomes for the enterprise. Focusing on creating value for customers helps organizations achieve more success and sustain it. For an expanded definition of value, see the 2016 HBR article by Eric Almquist, John Senior, and Nicolas Bloch called “The Elements of Value.”
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
When applied in equal measure to customer outcomes and to internal outcomes, artificial intelligence is creating positive results for individual situations and groups of customers and back-office team members.
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
Offer customers better value in ways that they prefer. No amount of manipulation of scores, tools, incentives, or software can do as much as genuinely delivering crave-worthy value. And the only definition of ‘value’ that matters is what customers value. It’s really that simple.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each company’s history, current needs, and positioning, and future trajectory are unique. One thing is true, you get more of what you measure, so spend a moment to decide what you (and your team members and your customers and your partners) need more of.
If I could invent a new measure that would ‘win’ this competition, it would be the CVC or customer value creation score. One that measures how much value (again, with the definition being what customers value) an organization delivers to its customers. The more value we give our customers, the more value they can share with theirs. So much of today’s business logic is based on scarcity. The reality is, we live in a world of abundance. Many leaders still aren’t designing with that parameter in mind.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
Since the name of my company is Storyminers, it must be about stories. What I’ve learned over the years is that the best salesperson for a company’s product and services isn’t its star salesperson. It’s happy customers. This isn’t a new idea, but I’d encourage hero making among one’s clients. They probably already know your next new customer. Why not enable them to help you find them?
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
They are in their infancy. The longer these bots run, the better they will get (at least that’s my hope). I’d love to see customer-owned bots that work across different systems. They would represent the customer’s interests and interact with company-provided bots to negotiate best-for-both outcomes. Having shared protocols for customer-dedicated bots (can you imagine it?) would also decrease the complexity of company-supplied ones. Everyone could get more of what they want at lower levels of effort and cost.
Imagine ‘your’ bot negotiating with the FedEx bot on the best time for you to take delivery on an expensive, signature-required package? Without any intervention from you, the bots could determine the best time between your convenience and the FedEx routing manager’s route efficiency needs.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
Wonder Woman 1984. What can I say? I like it when the good guys win 😉
Mike’s favorite CX metric
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Since I’m a big fan of employee experience comes before customer experience (when it comes to what to do first), I’d have to say employee retention and progress. How long people stay in front-line jobs is a pretty good indicator of a good customer experience. How far up the ranks they advance is another.