Friday, July 16, 2010

Customer experience dialogue

 From a chat on customer experience I had at the Adobe offices with Dawna Maclean.


Update: ClienteerHub abandons idea of dialogue

Clienteerhub, where this video was originally posted, is essentially a boondoggle that was purported on an industry of customer experience professionals through some clearly unprofessional and shady tactics.  We (the community of professionals that I am a part of and support) essentially got excited by the idea of a community and helped by contributing content and articles to the cause of building this community.  The site has since been taken down by the "CEO" <-hah! and has been re-assembled with some dodgy YouTube videos and no content or contact information.

While I appreciate the willingness and urgency to remove and dis-attach our names from this initiative, I strongly caution anyone who would consider a relationship with people behind this initiative.  I have never had to write anything like this in my life before - I hope that this is the last time that I do.

At this point, my understanding is that some of the ethical folks that were roped into this are working to refactor some of the valuable content and conversations into a more usable form.  I hope to be able to share this again soon.  I profusely apologize if my promotion or participation in this has caused any issues whatsoever.  I should have checked into things more fully before participating.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Superhype » Blog Archive » Allstate’s customer experience journey

Great post from Razorfish on Allstate's presentation at the recent Forrester Customer Experience Forum. Patty Van Lammeran clearly gets it, and the six year journey they have taken to get it right provides some deep, clear insights that are invaluable to anyone thinking about this space.

One of her first steps: create a customer experience forum, which is a monthly meeting where Allstate execs (including the CEO) have a spirited discussion on how to improve customer service. She also enacted monthly “customer staff meetings” with managers at a more tactical level to come up with ways to improve service. At one of her first meetings, she required managers to role play as if they were Allstate customers — from angry to happy.
She also dedicated customer satisfaction specialists to specific business units (like embedded journalists) in order to focus on day-to-day management of customer satisfaction.
But the process did not stop there. In the ensuing months, she:
1.  Made customer satisfaction everyone’s business by linking employees’ 401(K) profit sharing matching contributions to improvements in Allstate’s customer loyalty index.
2. Improved customer service standards and held agents accountable to them.
3. Acted as chief customer experience evangelist throughout the company. She made 54 presentations to 9,000 employees in 2009.
4. Clearly communicated throughout Allstate customer wants and needs in the voice of the customer. She asked every business unit owner to develop and refine actionable and measurable “declarations” for improving customer service.
5. Changed Allstate’s public reporting. On earnings announcement day, Allstate began reporting its customer loyalty index scores along with earnings results to send a message: customer satisfaction is intertwined with business results.
6. Improved the customer complaint management process to be faster and more responsive. “We decided we needed to view customer complaints as a gift” — a way for Allstate to learn and improve its operations.
7. Began to attack the company’s operating processes. She discovered that Allstate has too many processes for servicing customers inside business units — but not across business units. Allstate is now examining all its processes and figuring out how to make them span the entire company — not an easy thing to do because “at Allstate we have a process for everything except eating and going to the bathroom.”
8. Improved metrics mostly by examining other companies’ best practices. She realized that Allstate needed to do a better job tying customer satisfaction measures to company leading performance indicators. As she says, “We are just scratching the surface on measurement.” Also, Allstate now compares its satisfaction results with other companies inside and outside its industry (something Allstate previously never did).

Some lessons learned:
1. Allstate needs to move faster to keep pace with customers’ rapidly changing needs.
2. Allstate needs to let its customers lead them instead of trying to lead its customers.
3. Allstate must empower people. As Patty says, “Customers do not want a relationship with technology. They want a relationship with people.” Empowering employees means “hiring people who like people” — sounds obvious, but Allstate realized it was hiring too many technicians who really understand the content of insurance but lack adequate customer service skills. She also enacted a self-selecting employee ambassador program. Ambassadors receive special attention from Allstate. (For instance, ambassadors received a preview of the company’s social media guidelines before the guidelines were launched throughout the company.) To date, more than 3,000 employees have volunteered to be ambassadors. (She likes making the program voluntary because employees who sign up are more likely to be motivated.)

Friday, July 09, 2010

CHART OF THE DAY: Android Used By More Developers Than Apple

Visible says Android has passed Apple with developers because Google's developers kit costs less, and because Google has done a good job marketing its open source model. Further, Android phones are selling well now, so there's plenty of customers.

The gap between Apple and Android isn't that great, so Apple should hold its lead in apps for a while to come. And, most developers say they are developing for more than one platform at a time.

Other than Apple and Android, the rest of the mobile platforms are being left behind. Vision Mobile says, "anecdotal developer testimonials suggest that half of Windows

Phone MVP developers (valued for their commitment to the platform) carry an iPhone, and would think twice before re-investing in Windows Phone."

Click here for more charts on Android, Apple, and mobile developers →

chart of the day, App Developers, Mobile Platform, june 2010

Do Android developers outnumber iPhone developers? This Vision Mobile poll indicates that more mobile application developers have experience with Google’s Android platform than with any other mobile platform, including Apple’s iOS. Developers polled cited: large market penetration, speed of development, potential to make money, and low cost dev tools as reasons for initially choosing Android.

Posted via email from bitpakkit

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Dirtiest Word in UX: Complexity

Is Simplicity Overrated?

Although most people would say they seek simplicity in life and products, our actions say something different. We actually enjoy, and at times prefer, complex things. Imagine looking at a sky that's completely clear and compare that with a sunset with a variety of colors, layered with clouds, and the beams of sunlight striking the sky. One view would seem less interesting or not as photo-worthy.

Love the notion that removing the confusion DOES NOT mean removing complexity. If you need to make tough decisions, chances are you need a lot of data to do it effectively and if an app can't give it you then it's basically useless, or plays a supporting role at best.

Posted via email from bitpakkit

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Curiosity is key to customer experience :: UXmatters

“Caring about users and their lives is absolutely at the core of user-centered design. Curiosity is a natural outcome of caring, and it is the single greatest contributor to effective user research… Caring and curiosity engender personal investment, and investment motivates a researcher to develop a deep understanding of users.” – Demetrius Madrigal and Bryan McClain

Posted via email from bitpakkit

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Experience game on and the clear winners are the fans

The facts:
  • Forrester Customer Experience Forum, New York, NY
  • June 29-30, 2009
  • 900+ attendees (original target for Forrester was 500)
  • Adobe role: Adobe VIP luncheon on building great experiences for the enterprise with presentations by myself and Jonathan Browne
Analyst meetings:
  • Liz Boehm - Healthcare
  • Victoria Bough - Customer Experience practice lead
  • Vidya Drego - User Experience Practices
  • Paul Hagen - Customer Experience
  • Emmet Higdon - Financial Services
  • Andrew McInnes - Customer Experience (awards)
  • Ron Rogowski - User Experience - Emotional Experience Design
  • Brad Strothcamp - Financial Services

Some side discussions:
  • Ally Financial
  • BMO
  • Effective UI
  • RightNow
  • Tandem Seven
  • UX Magazine
The idea:
Since I effectively missed 72 hours of the World Cup I will use 'the game' as an analogy for my report.  

The story:
No clear winners yet, except the fans
From the first kick right through to overtime, the Forrester Customer Experience Forum here in New York was a mental and physical challenge made all the more exhausting by the back-to-back 1-on-1s that were generally a lot more like 1-on-3s as my team mates lead the way into battle.  While my time was primarily spent introducing some analysts to Adobe’s thinking about customer and user experience in the enterprise, I did welcome the opportunity to present to some of our invited guests and a few of our customers at a VIP lunch, took in a few of the excellent track sessions, and tried to meet with as many of the vendors that were sponsoring the event as humanly possible.
My customer experience (as a Forrester customer) was very positive.  Harley Manning’s keynote speech was stacked with great data and energized and prepared the room for his colleague Ron Rogowski, who delivered a passionate and tear-jerking follow-on performance that knocked the whole idea of emotional experience design out of the park.  Ron sailed us through the personal journey of having just completed a 100 mile run across the California Sierra in under 23 hours and surfed through some good, bad and ugly of some valiant attempts at experience, and then touched us down with the incredibly insightful and powerful example of how engaging the senses online had a direct impact on his family during his wife’s pregnancy.  Everyone is fine today, thank goodness, except maybe a few brands that might want to look into why they made the wrong side of that presentation.
Forrester’s coach had already been quick to realign the team based on individual strengths, moving the first line around role-based research and it showed.  Pre-conference investment in hardening a well-heeled practice around Customer Experience Management had the team looking great and the even better news was that it left the refs no choice but to make sure we all played fair from now on. It was indeed a great experience for the much larger than expected turnout.  Incredible presenters, great side conversations, worthy and productive meetings and signs of some clear shots on goal for us, our partners and our customers. We lined up behind the ball and got ready to engage directly with this brave team of analysts lead by fearless and thoughtful leader, Victoria Bough.
For me this experience crossed the goal line in a lot of different ways.  If you know me you’ll know that while I do have a lot of opinions about customer experience but I tend to apply them a little more rigorously to thinking about user experience.  Good news was that as soon as I had the ball I had no shortage of opportunity to pass and shoot, including a very insightful and unexpected sideline conversation with EffectiveUI author, Jonathan Anderson.  Time melted away and I dug a little deeper to expose some of the more meaty issues that were going to decide the game.
Then a break – and thankfully our local NY sales team saw fit to make sure their out-of-town counterparts got a good local and late night tour of NYC so there was nothing keeping me up at night anymore after that.
Spending time with analysts like Vidya Drego and Ron Rogowski should be my full time job – I really love the kind of practical and tactical thinking which I can apply tomorrow to the things that I am working on today.  But its not – and that’s because the challenge is actually much larger than methods, tools, patterns and practices, wireframes and the craft of user experience.  The challenge, the journey we have begun, is into the back office, the culture, the IT group and the solutions and products that are going to fuel a revolution in how great consumer experiences are going to be.  The challenge is uncovering the ROI, finding the budgets, shifting focus and effort, finding our allies and knowing our enemies, as we march towards our ‘happy spot’ and beyond the islands of hope created by a few thought leaders who have already been able to wrangle some budget to get it right.  The fact that some of our expectations are being met and that we are occasionally delighted serves to fuel the urgency of this discussion, and that urgency actually adds even more complexity to the equation.
In a very insightful chat about healthcare with healthcare analyst Liz Boehme I grabbed onto something I will be able to use forever when I need to explain why sometimes the problems require a broader stroke than just UI or interaction design to solve user problems.  We were deep in a discussion about the complexities of the mythical electronic health record, and had gotten on to a great tangent about how the underlying information in insurance systems dealing with patient conditions and treatments was actually written out as short-form legal definitions of how an insurer (payer) might define the cause of a claim or the potentially insurable treatments they need.  As we discussed the futility of simply trying to build a better mousetrap (website) Liz exclaimed, “Now we can get to the information we don’t understand faster.”
Boom!  Trying to dribble the ball beside her in my newly expanded understanding and respect for healthcare solutions I ran directly into the wall, popped out through the windshield and bent my nose on the scratchy brick wall in front of me.
A new brand innovator’s dilemma for me – I can fix what appears to be broken but what if I’m busy making useless information look usable.  Maybe I should let sleeping dogs lie.  If a customer’s best option was to pick up the phone and try and sort out some confusing information then a great user experience simply gets them to an FAQ and a 1-800-HELPS-ME.
Not one to bother searching for silver bullets, I pressed on in search of wood behind the arrow.  I continued mining until I had several tons of insight about healthcare, financial services, the various ways that Forrester is approaching inquiry and the growing demand for land in the new frontier of experience.  I tirelessly ducked around the obvious impressions of what Adobe builds and does.  I bounded between islands of PDF ubiquity, Flash value reassurances and some hand-waving architecture that I use to describe closing the gap between user expectations and complex enterprise systems, and why we continue on unwavering after 10+ years of building things that work for banks, governments, insurance companies and a host of other verticals, each with unique constraints and issues.  “This is all real, all available now,” I reiterated to raised eyebrows, “But what we are doing is taking this on from a more holistic approach and we are working with our customers and our partners on real customer-centric and very engaging solutions that are changing the mindset around how to effectively tackle big, tough traditional IT problems.  We have the personas, end user needs and known gaps, and they happen to fit very neatly into the domain d’jour.  Not so much by design as by demand.”
In the end, we all smiled and nodded.  This was good.  We had a lot of work to do but noone was scared to roll up their sleeves.  We would see each other again soon and we would be further along than we were today.  We would be better equipped to help.  We would have more case studies and excellent examples of how design was unlocking the ROI we always knew was in those complex systems.  Our products would be further along and more people would know about them.
In the end, I didn’t cover the entire field, I just couldn’t.  But I felt like I had done pretty good and the dull, peaceful state of mental exhaustion and contemplation was going to be my travel companion for the rest of this trip.
We knew that our team was one step closer to the finals, we had turned up a few yellow cards but no real red ones, and that the teams, structure, process and ideas that were on the sidelines were going to move us one step closer to the podium.  The vuvuzelas went quiet for moment and we left the field to huddle and get ready for the next bracket.  And the fans, those tireless consumers of sites, products, apps, experiences and more – gave a quiet cheer somewhere in the NY heat.  They knew that no matter what happened on the field, it was they who would be the winners in the end.
Their voices had been heard above the noise.