1. What makes an effective CX management process?

    August 26, 2015 by ahmed

    This is the question that the Cranfield Management Forum (CCMF) set out to answer in its recent white paper: Stages of customer experience management: Case studies from the UK Customer Experience Awards.

    Researcher Dr Farah Arkadan studied the winning entries from the UK Customer Experience Awards 2015 in order to gain insights into how organisations manage and deliver a superior customer experience across seven stages of customer experience.

    To read the full article about the seven management stages of customer experience and download the free white paper

  2. Sheikh Mohammad launches fourth generation of government excellence system in Dubai

    April 20, 2015 by ahmed
    Shaikh Mohammed and Shaikh Maktoum at the launching of the fourth generation of the government excellence system

    Shaikh Mohammed and Shaikh Maktoum at the launching of the fourth generation of the government excellence system

    Originally posted on Gulf News

    The aim of the fourth generation of the government excellence system is to upgrade the system of government work on innovative basis

    His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice- President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has launched the fourth generation of the government excellence system which is the first of its kind across the globe that focuses on results and was designed to develop government performance.

    The aim of the fourth generation of the government excellence system is to upgrade the system of government work on innovative basis and standards based on achieved results as a foundation for excellence in government services in three main areas: achieving the vision, innovation and empowerment in realising the highest satisfaction rates and people’s happiness.

    “Today we have launched the fourth generation of the government excellence system representing a new phase of excellence to which we aspire in the work of the government. It paints a proactive approach to the governments of the future to serve our people and country. It is also a completion of the path of excellence that we started 20 years ago when we launched the Dubai Quality Award,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

    “We have come a long way of successful excellence, and the world at large has witnessed to that. Our country has come in first places and topped global competitiveness indexes. Today we want to build over this achievement to move to a new stage in work titled: excellence based on the results,” he added.

    “In the race toward the first place we look to excellence as a challenge rather than an achievement. Achievement is what we realize for the future of our people; while the march of excellence is continuous and does not stop at any limits or borders, however it goes through various stages. The race for excellence does not recognize the limits of time and space,” he further indicated.

    The fourth generation of the government excellence system was launched at the presence of Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Mohammad Abdullah Al Gargawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs.

    Shaikh Mohammad also reviewed some stages of the government excellence process which began in 1994, with the “Dubai Quality Award”. At the time, it drew the first steps toward achieving excellence in the private sector through the adoption of best practices and trends and the construction phase, which was launched in 1997, through the Dubai Award for Government Excellence and developed. It set the international standards for quality to be applied government departments and then the leadership phase marked by the launch of Emirates Award for Excellence in Government Performance in 2009 to form the highest award for institutional excellence at the state’s level.

    “After we passed these stages successfully the government reached an important stage of maturity and excellence in performance, its programmes, goals and clarity of vision. So it was time for a new challenge to build upon and through these achievements to launch a broader and more comprehensive system of excellence, thus to continue through it the road to the future that we aspire for our country, making our country the best in the world and our people the happiest and for the UAE to remain a pioneer and most advanced and innovative in government work in the world,” he pointed out.

    “The content of the fourth generation of the government excellence system is in line with these trends . It focuses on the results of what constitutes an incentive for continuous improvement in the labour regulations proportional with the governments requirements of the future that are capable of understanding the needs and aspirations of the people and meeting them,” he said.

    “It represents a step forward and a new approach in the process of work and performance of future governments” He also stressed that ” The gates of future governments will not allow traditional ideas and outdated work methods to cross.”
    “Every effort by the government aims at making people happy and content. Achieving people’s interest is a government priority before anything else, and this makes it imperative for the government to be proactive and innovative, competing with itself, does not wait or delay, rather it foresees prospects for the future. Government work must focus on achieving results in the field, which is reflected positively and effectively in people’s daily lives,” he concluded.

  3. Employee attitude can create a stellar customer experience

    March 28, 2015 by ahmed

    Originally posted on Customer Service Experience by Dr Jason Price

    One of the great things about commenting on customer service is the day you get to tell a story about the little things that, in reality, go to create a truly spectacular customer service experience.

    Leading management author, Ken Blanchard, has written extensively [1] about how customer service employees make the difference in providing an exceptional customer experience.

    Ken’s experiences tell us that satisfied customers aren’t enough – we should look to create experiences that make “raving fans” of our organisation.

    Today, I’m a raving fan of Upper Hutt City Council in New Zealand for the simple, dedicated actions taken – well above and beyond the call of duty – by their website administrator, Maria. It’s a story that I think should be mandatory reading for every customer service advisor who works on an e-mail response team anywhere on the planet.

    Proof positive, just like my previous article on FedEx, how simple, thoughtful and committed belief from one customer-facing employee creates a genuinely exceptional customer experience enhancing an organisation’s brand.

    A great customer experience is driven by employee attitudes

    What’s got me so excited? It wasn’t a tough enquiry, but the response I received from Maria showed the kind of commitment to customer service values that every manager is crying out for in their team.

    Here’s what happened to me last night…

    I’m at home, in the evening, browsing the Upper Hutt City Council website for some property related information. It’s a routine transaction and I quickly find the right page from a first time search. However, when I click on a link to the relevant document, it turns out all the links on this page are broken.

    That happens in any website sometimes, so I selected the ‘feedback’ form on the page and left my comment that the page links were all broken. It was 8:46pm at night.

    At 9:51pm, I received a very polite e-mail from Maria thanking me for the feedback, apologising for the inconvenience caused and letting me know that the site links had been fixed if I’d like to try again.

    This wasn’t an auto-response e-mail letting me know a team would look into it. This was a personalised e-mail from a human being, telling me (at quarter to ten at night) that they’d received my e-mail, fixed my problem and were terribly sorry I’d been inconvenienced.

    Not since Craig from FedEx appeared at my door with a cheery grin holding a parcel have my expectations been so dramatically blown away. I clicked on the page again, and lo and behold, all the links were fixed and I was able to look up the information I wanted – in a fraction over one hour from my first contact.

    Now let’s be clear about this, Upper Hutt City Council is a relatively small Local Government authority at the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island and Maria left the office at 4:30pm.

    Global businesses with 24×7 contact centres that tell me they value my feedback, but refuse to actually respond when I provide it (and trust me, I always provide feedback)? Your contact centres could learn more than a thing or two from Maria at Upper Hutt City Council.

    Going above and beyond to excel in customer service

    Blanchard talks at length about the role of customer contact employees going above and beyond customer service, and that delivering whenever possible is the key to creating raving fans. It’s this dedication to service that creates unforgettable customer experiences [2] .

    In this case, an employee who’d actually finished her working day at 4:30pm cared enough about an individual’s customer experience to put something right – and send them a personal response right there and then to help them get their business done – rather than waiting for the next morning.

    That’s a definitive example of putting the customer first, above and beyond the call of duty.

    As with my FedEx experience, it was the final response I received from Maria that propelled this from a story about commitment into a stellar customer experience. Simply put, her final e-mail demonstrated a personal belief in customer service that would gladden the heart of so many contact centre managers.

    When I expressed my thanks for such a fast fix, her e-mail reply (again, within minutes at 10:21pm) was to say that “I know it’s frustrating and inconvenient when technology does not provide the information you need – when you need it!”

    Rather than an automatic out of hours response, I got a dedicated, personal service from an off duty employee who cares enough about her customers, her job and the brand reputation of Upper Hutt City Council to go the extra mile. In doing so, she created a raving fan.

    Simple, caring employee actions make all the difference.

    Exceptional people, like Maria, make for a stellar customer service experience.

    [1] Blanchard, K, Bowles, S (1993), Raving Fans: A revolutionary approach to customer service, New York: HarperCollins; Blanchard, K (2007), Leading at a Higher Level, London: Pearson.
    [2] Blanchard, K (2007, p.55), Leading at a Higher Level, London: Pearson

  4. Service leaders follow the money

    December 23, 2014 by ahmed

    Originally posted on Service quality institute by John Tschohl

    Service Leaders consistently have more revenue, make more money, plus have a stronger brand and market share. They dominate the market and crush their competition.  In this issue I will share my ideas on Apple, Metro Bank London and my investment of $1000 each in 9 service leaders in May 2003.

    Financially How do Service Leaders Do?

    (Turning $9,000 into $29,000)

    Everyone says we should focus on customer service but what is the financial impact on a firm that drives its business around customer service?

    In May of 2003 I wanted to track monthly an investment in 9 service leaders. I invested $1,000 in each of them. During the last 11 years I have shared results from this investment with our readers and clients.

    The values below are as of November 8, 2014.


    Leaders Lead

    As I have said before, a firm that can build a brand around the customer experience will increase its value by over 25%. The leaders at the top continue to prove the point. It is very difficult for most firms to keep their focus on a service strategy but not these guys.  They are unrelenting in their focus on customer service.  It continues to baffle me why other companies do not get it.

    Results over 11 years

    TD Bank – Vernon Hill sold Commerce Bank in 2007 to TD Bank. Had he still been running Commerce Bank it would have out performed Amazon.  Commerce Bank for 4 years always out performed the other firms. Then it was sold and customer service is no longer king.

    Dell– was one of the nine I selected. They lost their focus on customer service when Michael Dell retired in 2004 and put a financial guy, Kevin Rollins in charge. Dell returned in 2007 to rescue the company. Last year Dell went private and I got $460 for my $1000. It took 10 years for me to lose 54% of my money. Once Dell lost its focus and brand on service the value never recovered.

    Southwest Airlines -For many years the airline stock did poorly. Most of this growth is in the last 12 months. They have never lost their focus on customer service.

    Walmart – Sam Walton built a business around customer service and price. Starting with CEO Lee Scott in 2000 they focused on price and lost interest in customer service. They have record increases in sales since 2003. The market place places a much higher value on service leaders. Based on sales and profits Walmart stock should be triple what it is, I will repeat — The market place places a much higher value on service leaders. Walmart is no longer a service leader. Better than K-Mart but not much.

    General Electric – Jeff Immlet, the CEO, has done a remarkable job of increasing his pay. He gets paid over $19 million a year ($7,380,000 as a bonus) In the US with executive pay there is often no relationship to results. GE results are average. GE, under Jack Welch was the best managed company in the world. GE has lost its customer service focus. One of its credit card divisions, Care Credit, has lousy customer service.

    JetBlue -The company was built around great service. With the February 17, 2007 winter Valentine’s Day snowstorm where the passengers were kept on the plane for 13 hours they have STILL NOT recovered. The problem was NO service recovery. It was too little and too late.

    Financial impact

    The facts continue to prove the point…ONCE you lose your customer service brand it is difficult to keep the value of the company.

  5. Lean design – Learning from Apple

    February 26, 2014 by ahmed

    Lean is optimising a process to preserve value with less work. Lean manufacturing is a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS).
    Lean aims to eliminate waste in the entire value stream, by creating processes that need less human effort, less space, and less time to make products and services at lower cost, therefore Lean simply means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.

    However, how does this relate to Steve Jobs and iPod in particular or all Apple’s iDevices in general?

    Steve Jobs used Lean in another way, instead of thinking of lean as a way of minimising waste in the production process he looked at how to eliminate waste in the way the customer interacts with the iPod.
    For example, the volume up button could have different functions such as selecting a menu choice or taking a photo. This approach enabled Apple to produce mobile phones with just five buttons.

    Apple’s (or perhaps Steve Jobs) innovation is by focusing on customers and how to offer them products without the un-necessary extras from design stage until displayed in an outlet.

    I have an instinctive aversion to hero worship. There is a fine line between valuing the lessons demonstrated by great leaders and slipping into a blind devotion that masks the inevitable flaws to be found in every human personality. Steve Jobs had more than his share of flaws and he possessed more than his share of genius. Reading Walter Isaacson’s recent and excellent biography of Jobs I am struck by the intuitive sense of lean, of flow, of simplicity, that he demanded from both the aesthetics and the technical workings of every product. You would be hard pressed to find an executive with a better sense of the interaction between the social and the technical.

    The Lean Mind

    When we think of lean our mind first goes to the workings of the Toyota factory. However, the principles of eliminating waste and achieving interruption free flow may be found at an even more profound level in the design of Apple’s breakthrough products and the intuition of Steve Jobs. Only nine percent of Americans today work in manufacturing and we might do well to turn our attention to the application of lean principles to less obvious endeavors such as product design and the use of technology.

    From the design of the first Mac to the design of the iPad, Steve obsessed on their design. He understood what we wanted before we wanted it and that was his genius. We didn’t know we wanted GUI’s, an iPod or iPad, and even less did we think we would be attracted to a product by the elegance and simplicity of its packaging. He imagined the customer experience before we had experienced it. This is intuition, a zen appreciation for the movement of the hand and eye and the imperative to eliminate distractions to allow the mind of the user to flow from the first thought to the engagement in the utility of the device.

    On the design of the iPad:

    “As usual Jobs pushed for the purest simplicity. That required determining what was the core essence of the device. The answer: the display screen. So the guiding principle was that everything they did had to defer to the screen. ‘How do we get out of the way so there aren’t a ton of features and buttons that distract from the display?’ Ive (head of design) asked. At every step Jobs pushed to remove and simplify.” (page 514)

    With the story of the development of each product it is easy to see why Jobs nearly drove those around him crazy. It was normal for him to walk around and look at the work of designers and engineers and immediately pronounce their work to be crap! And, a week later he would be gushing about the very same thing he labeled “crap” a week earlier. It was also normal that the work on the new product would be almost finalized, or finalized in the mind of others, and he would wake up in the middle of the night and realize why he was not comfortable with its design. The radius of the corners was wrong! Or, the ionized aluminum casing wasn’t exactly right. He would stop everything and have the entire team working on the product go back and fix things based on his simple feel for the design. Inevitably he would be proven right. And in every case it was a matter of the flow, the movement of the eye and mind from one interaction with the product to the next. It was about “lean” although he would not have felt the need to label it as such. It wasn’t the lean of the factory, but the lean of the customer experience.

    I doubt that any CEO in the history of business has been as intimately involved in the design of breakthrough products. His contribution was not that of a traditional executive at all. It was total intimacy with the customer experience that was his contribution.

    Costs vs. Value

    The way lean is implemented in many companies today it is viewed as primarily a cost reduction tool. Eliminating work-in-process, reducing the need for space, and increasing output per employee are all the natural results of lean and all result in positive impact to the bottom line. Rarely was reducing costs the primary motivation behind Steve Jobs’ decisions. The decision to open retail stores provides a telling example.

    Jobs obsessively wanted to control the entire flow of work from the design of chips to software, to the design of the case, the screen and the packing. This was the motivation for his decision to open Apple Stores. He and Ron Johnson spent many months designing the stores, developing prototypes and obsessing on every detail. From a traditional retailing perspective it made no sense. They didn’t have enough different products to fill a store. Most analysts thought it would be impossible to push enough product through the stores to justify the cost of the space. Gateway was failing miserably in their retail stores and Dell was selling direct to customers. But that is not how Jobs was thinking at all. He was thinking about the brand, the customer experience, the joy that the stores would create.

    Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle was a close friend and Steve repeatedly invited him over to walk through his prototype store.

    “On each visit Jobs prodded Ellison to figure out ways to streamline the process by eliminating some unnecessary step, such as handing over the credit card or printing a receipt. ‘If you look at the stores and the products, you will see Steve’s obsession with beauty and simplicity – this Bauhous aesthetic and wonderful minimalism, which goes all the way to the checkout process in the stores,’ said Ellison. ‘It means absolute minimum number of steps. Steve gave us the exact explicit recipe for how he wanted the checkout to work.” (page 386)

    That is lean thinking at its best.

    Most experts predicted failure. “Maybe it’s time Steve Jobs stopped thinking quite so differently,” Business week wrote in a story headlines “Sorry Steve, Here’s Why Apple Stores Won’t Work.” The retail consultant David Goldstein declared, “I give them two years before they’re turning out the lights on a very painful and expensive mistake.” Gateway’s stores were averaging 250 visitors per week.

    On May 19, 2001 the first Apple Store opened in Tyson’s Corner Mall, one of the most expensive retail properties in the country. By 2004 Apple stores were averaging 5,400 visitors per week! That year they had $1.2 billion in revenue, setting a record in the retail industry. In July 2011, a decade after the first store was opened, there were 326 Apple stores. The average annual revenue was $34 million, and the net sales in 2010 were $9.8 billion. They were not only profitable, but they boosted the brand and reinforced everything else that Apple did.

    The development of Apple stores and Apple products demonstrated an aspect of lean thinking that is not understood by most lean practitioners. It is not simply about cutting costs. It is about creating value in the customer experience by optimizing flow.

    The Lost Opportunity of Bureaucracy

    Many lean writers and practitioners have not been willing to step up to the plate and address the issues of organizational structure and systems. But, if you don’t you are not likely to be lean. The story of Sony’s lost opportunity and the development of the iPod proves the point.

    Sony had a music division and contracts with a large number of the most popular bands and artists. They were a dominant force in the music business. They had another division that had created the Walkman, a personal device to carry and play music. They had a computer division producing personal computers. They even had software to sell music online. And, at the time, they realized that Napster and other free music download websites were destroying the profitability of their business. It was out of control. Within the Sony brand they had every piece required to solve the problem. However, the three big and powerful divisions fought among themselves and could not collaborate to develop a solution.

    At Apple Computer there was a leader who understood disruptive technology. It wouldn’t be unfair to call Steve Jobs the Crown Prince of disruptive technologies. At that time Apple was merely a personal computer company. They produced no personal or portable devices. But, Jobs loved music. He understood that the personal computer could be the music hub. He personally led the charge to develop the iPod and there were no warring divisions within Apple. Jobs personally met with music royalty including Bob Dylan, Bono, the head of Universal, Sony and other music studios. He went to Japan and found the disc drive at Toshiba that could hold a thousand tunes. He developed an end-to-end solution that met the needs of the artists, the music studios, his own company, and most important, the customers who loved music! He practically lived with Jony Ive, the chief designer, whose aesthetic sense of elegant simplicity for not only the device, but even the packaging, created a unique brand image and advantage. The combination of iTunes software for your computer, the iTunesstore, and the iPod, met the needs of all key stakeholders. It was a victory of seamless integration. It eliminated waste in every component of the music delivery process. It could only have been achieved by an organization devoid of silos and a leader who understood the advantage of a seamless experience by the end user.

    In every instance of product development and marketing, Steve Jobs understood and demonstrated how eliminating waste from the flow of work and the flow of the customer experience results in the creation of value. Perhaps more than any other executive in our lifetime he understood the interdependence of the human and technical factors in product development and in their use. This is the lean that needs more of our attention.

    This article was from Larry Miller’s website “Management Meditations