Success and failure: CX at ATL

Customer experience isn’t just online—it’s everywhere, and it’s influencing my purchases.  

Since late last year, I’ve been entrenched in a multi-year project that is all about improving online customer experience (CX) for one of my clients. Before then, I associated most all things “X” (CX, UX) with technology, but that’s really only one form of experience delivery.

I just made a trip to Atlanta to visit this particular client and found myself immersed in customer experiences along my journey. Each of these touchpoints influences my feelings about the airport, the airline and the car rental company, and whether I’ll do business with them again.

Your customers are evaluating their experience with you in much the same way, so it’s worth paying attention—and making changes as needed.

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What do customers choose over price AND convenience?

Hand moving a smiling wooden block forward

What do customers choose over price AND convenience?

Customer experience.

This hit home for me recently while I was sitting in the dentist’s chair waiting to have a crown replaced. I had some time to kill while my left cheek and gums were numbed, and I was marveling over the fact that, while having ANY kind of work done on my mouth ranks among my top two LEAST favorite things to do, I go out of my way to see this particular dentist. Over two hundred miles and almost 5 hours roundtrip, to be exact.

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We’re not talking anymore—and that’s a problem

Paper cup telephones

When was the last time you had a live, real-time conversation with a customer…and gained valuable insights that improved the way you do business?

We recently had several of those valuable conversations on behalf of a client. It took fewer than 15 phone calls and we gathered enough information to produce a remarkable improvement in my client’s proposal win rate. 

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The well you’ll keep going back to

I’ve been talking with a lot of customers lately—I’m not referring to my own customers in this case, but to my customers’ customers. I’ve interviewed dozens and dozens of these people about their museum-going habits, perceptions about long-term care, and custom marketing technology needs, to name a few. All of the information we’re gathering is providing solid information my customers use to make critical decisions and move their organizations forward. 

One project in particular has really underscored the value of this customer research—so much so that I’d suggest it’s a step you can’t afford to skip.

The case in question is that of a global company with multiple business units around the world. The company is revamping their customer intranet in each region, starting with North America.

Before I came onboard, the company had already executed a simple yet very informative electronic survey of its customers. It’s something that could be constructed and administered very quickly yet has proven to be invaluable. I’ve been involved for only six months, and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone back to that well of information. To date, we’ve used what we learned from the survey to answer these important questions:

  • What do we think we need to change? Survey results helped us plan two focused internal discovery workshops to refine the project’s scope.
  • What do users think we need to change? Survey results provided the basis for remote screen-sharing sessions with a select group of users for validation of the project scope and focus.
  • Did we get it right? Survey results helped us conduct remote usability sessions with users to make sure we got the prototype right before we moved into full-scale development.

As we prepare to hand off the prototype to the development team, one of my colleagues commented on how we keep going back to that very first survey to ensure we are focusing our work on what is important to users. This information is driving an entire team and providing direction from the voice that matters most—the voice of the customer.

Whether you’re revising your messaging, updating your brand, revamping a department or overhauling a major touchpoint like a customer intranet, make sure it is driven by the voice of the customer. Contrary to what you may believe, it is not too expensive or too time consuming to include this critical step—in fact, it’s one I’d suggest you can’t afford to skip. Let’s talk about how I can help.

Are you solving the right problem?


Are you solving the right problem? It’s a question few stop to ask before diving in head first in an attempt to demonstrate action and produce results.

The trouble with that approach is that the surface problem is many times not the real problem. You can spend considerable resources addressing what you think needs to be fixed, only to find that you get the same outcomes (or worse!).

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Five ways to take action after outreach

A team fine-tuning their marketing

Last month, we extolled the virtues of customer outreach—why you should do it and how you can go about it. So now you have all this delicious feedback from your customers, but your job is not complete. To get any value at all from your hard-won insights, you must apply what you’ve learned.

Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of people get stuck. They think they don’t have time to make changes in their organization, they’re not sure where to begin, or things aren’t broken enough (yet) to make these opportunities a high priority. But as the saying goes, you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results!

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You ask. You win.

Customers interacting with surveys and research objects

You and I could hypothesize until the cows come home about how your brand or your marketing could be better. We’d come up with plenty of potentially great ideas, but without knowing what’s in the heart and mind of your customer, we’d be building a plan grounded on hunches more than hard facts.

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Is this why your project is stuck?

Last month, I wrote about uncertainty being the new normal in our world of work, and how we can embrace that uncertainty and use it as a way to move forward.

So many of my clients are dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis—and it’s more prevalent now than I’ve ever known it to be. But they’re so close to it they don’t always see it for what it is. All they know is they’ve identified a problem and see marketing as the cure. But they need someone who will do more than blindly fill that prescription. Before anything else, they need an accurate diagnosis.  

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Uncertainty—Is it the new normal?

I’m a planner. I like to know what’s going to happen, when, where and how. If you’re familiar with the classic personality types, you can imagine how an environment with no room for that level of certainty could put someone like me (equal parts Type A and Type C) into a tailspin.

Maybe you’ve felt this uncertainty in your work world, too. Maybe direction isn’t clear. Maybe leadership is in flux. Maybe the landscape is changing so quickly that your 12-month plan doesn’t stand a chance of making it past the first six weeks without revision. I have to think it’s not just me. My inbox has seen more than a couple of news bits lately about “corporate chaos” and the air of uncertainty being the new normal. Continue reading