Monthly Archives: March 2009

System generated username suggestion

I love this. We are working with a financial services business (we work with many) and during the registration process you have to select a username. If you choose one that someone else already has the system offers an alternative. Here is what this system suggested:

Not so easy to memorise
Not so easy to memorise

The different name was input buy my colleague.

I thought this type of thing became extinct in 2002!

To me the problem goes beyond the initial feeling fo despair that any customer going through the registration process would feel at this point. What if an absent minded customer actually selects this user name? The support costs for the constant reminders and the damage to brand will go on and on. There can be no winners in this scenario and it is just lazy development.

Customer Experience in retail

This is brilliant! The website is from a Dutch retailer called HEMA. Their first store opened on November 4, 1926, in Amsterdam and now there are 150 stores all over the Netherlands . The link is to HEMA’s product page and although you can’t order anything and it’s in Dutch if you wait a couple of seconds things start to happen.

Management Today “dis” Customer Experience

Management Today’s March 09 issue covers Customer Experience in their Master Class column. This is a regular feature that reviews the latest terminology and trends and at the bottom of the piece a ‘Fad Quotient’ is offered. I was disappointed to see that Customer Experience received a 7 out of 10 and so I decided to write to the editor to explain where I think they are misjudging the area.

Customer Experience Master Class

Your customer experience master class was accurate and informative right up to the final section on the direction it is going where I think you missed the point.

Whether consumers or customers are hard up or affluent is irrelevant. They will be interacting with organisations and brands and judging them either consciously or subconsciously based on the quality of those interactions and that in turn will impact their likelihood to recommend or return. Just because an organisation doesn’t embrace customer experience it doesn’t mean their customers won’t have an experience. This is the fundamental difference with CRM.

Customer experience strategy is not only about differentiation it is about consistency with brand perceptions. So taking your example of Travelodge – it is quite acceptable to be an economy brand provided the experience meets or exceeds those expectations. Ryan-air personify this with an awful experience but one that nobody is surprised about.

The reason the Internet accelerated the adoption of customer experience thinking is that to do it well you have to think holistically. Most organisations treated their web presence as a separate business and the level of autonomy that created meant that for the first time someone could genuinely impact most if not all of the contact points in the customer interactions. That knowledge is helping drive the benefits in to other, older channels.

The term ‘Customer Experience’ may warrant a 7/10 for FAD effect, but what it relates to clearly cannot.

Bob Cialdini and the science of Persuasion

Last night, 4th March 2009, I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Chatered Institute of Management to attend an “Influence Masterclass” being given by Bob Cialdini at the Royal Society of Physicians and sponsored by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). To explain why the UKCES had decided to invest tax payers money on a subject with such tenuous connections to its goals, Chris Humphries the current CEO took the podium.

Chris Humphries’ presentation focused on how far the UK is likely to fall behind the rest of the OECD (organisation of economic co-operation and development) over the next 10 or so years in areas such as employment and productivity. He showed how the UK was becoming a nation of haves and have nots with the South East for example having high employment and productivity but the North of England possessing neither. The audience was too polite to point out we were performaning better than his homeland of Australia!

The answer is to train our people more often and more effectively and his hope was that if people with training needs for themselves or their teams could learn how to influence and persuade budget holders better we would be more likely to achieve those goals. A worthy goal but for anyone who had read either one of Cialdini’s books on the subject of persuasion they would have already known there would be little to go on.

Once you get over the fixed facial expression and nasal American accent, Cialdini delivers a good presentation. Whilst there was little different from the research described in his books, he brought the examples to life and his stories and anecdotes meant I left able to share some of the learning with colleagues quite easily.

Cialdini focused the presentation on three of his six principles of “Ethical Influence”. The six are:

  1. Reciprocity – if you do something for someone they will do something for you; but you have to offer up first.
  2. Scarcity – something increases in value if it is shown to be scarce or rare
  3. Authority – people are convinced more easily by people they see as authority figures.
  4. Consistency – if someone publicly commits to something they are more likely to stick with that idea
  5. Consensus – People are more likely to be influenced by similar actions of a group of their peers
  6. Liking – no surprise here, but people are more easily influenced by people they like

We heard a little about each area and in depth about scarcity, authority and consensus. The area of authority was really interesting and the use of the word “but” was revealed as crucial for establishing trust. Cialdini explained that most people in a pitch when trying to get their point of view across, front end the benefits and then, to establish that they are honest, throw in a couple of limitations at the end. For example I might say that Foviance is a world leader in usability and customer experience consulting ‘but’ we don’t do graphic design.

Cialdini argues that people will only hear and retain the information after the ‘but’ and that all we have to do is switch the order  of what we say to be more compelling. So, what I should say is “Foviance doesn’t do graphic design, ‘but’ we are world leaders in usability and customer experience consulting. In order to be an authority that you are likely to believe when I say this, I can improve my chances by having a colleague introduce me and say a little about my credentials. What Cialdini is quick to observe is that his techniques only work where there are genuine arguments and honest benefits, ‘but’ you can’t have everything can you.