Earlier this week was the first International Customer Experience Day, as designated by the professional organization CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association), and recognized by the U.S. Congress. With live events in 19 cities around the world, as well as numerous webinars and Google hangouts, this was a really big deal in the field of CX.
As a recent transplant to Kansas City, I was thrilled to find around 50 CX professionals attending the local Kansas City event. While the Connective DX Portland and Boston offices celebrated the day with the CXPA webinar, I checked out the Kansas City event.
Hosted at the national headquarters for AMC Theaters, the large group of attendees was a mix of KC locals and professionals from neighboring states, and included representatives from Sprint, Hallmark, John Deere, AMC Theaters, Cerner Corporation, GE, and others.
Customer Experience is Key to Brand Differentiation for AMC Theaters
Brent Cooke, VP of Digital & Guest Marketing at AMC Theaters, led the first session, focusing on brand differentiation based on customer experience. When a large percent of customers search for movie theaters predominantly on location, the industry has a challenge with brand awareness, as well as not being perceived as a commodity.
Brent gave the example of a short market research test in the Times Square AMC Theater. The majority of the people asked could not tell the researchers correctly that they were in an AMC theater… and these folks were inside the facility, surrounded by AMC branding!
While Brent’s major focus is digital, he gave sneak-peeks into some operational initiatives to improve the customer experience, including re-architecting theater seating for better comfort, as well as offering reserved seating in some venues for highly anticipated premiers and popular showings. Whether operational or digital (or a combination), the voice of the customer provides huge value to AMC, enabling them to focus on fixing the highest value pain points along the customer journey.
Above all else, Brent stresses the importance of testing pilots in the field before rolling out new initiatives nationwide. If the field will be affected (and it almost always is, in this industry), the pilot approach gives corporate offices the needed input from both the field and the market to ensure a smooth, effective nationwide rollout.
Voice of Customer Supporting John Deere Brand Loyalty
Erin Wallace, Global Manager of Customer Experience at John Deere, shared the brand’s vision, Delivering for Generations, setting the context for their extensive, global VoC program. If you’re familiar only with John Deere hats and other merchandise, you might be surprised to find out that they also make tractors, as well as other farm and lawn equipment. The products run from really big equipment, like combines and harvesters, all the way down to consumer lines of riding lawn mowers and snow blowers. John Deere enjoys great brand recognition (at the very least, most people know the green and yellow logo) and a rather loyal customer base, but they believe there’s always room for improvement.
Fifteen years into VoC activities, Deere recently standardized on the Net Promoter Score methodology to gauge customer satisfaction and likelihood to be a repeat customer. The corporate culture promotes a closed loop feedback process, sharing results with the distribution channel, as well as co-creating action plans for distributor communication and training. Analyzing the NPS data over the past two years, Deere has been able to pinpoint key triggers impacting customer satisfaction. For example, there is a direct correlation between the average time it takes to fix a machinery problem and average NPS. Logical? Yes. But this data-driven corporate culture is now able to focus on that specific customer pain point, and develop process and field training to improve resolution time. Best of all, there are quantifiable metrics to predict the impact these measures will have on NPS and future re-purchases.
C-Suite Support Enables Major Turnaround at Sprint Corporation
Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint, also gave a great webinar interview in the morning. Dan knows full well that customer experience correlates to brand loyalty, and these days in the telecom industry, customer experience is one of the only differentiators a brand can control. Sprint was in crisis mode and nearly bankrupt four years ago when Dan was brought on board to lead the company. His leadership established three priorities, which continue today:
- Building a great customer experience
- Strengthening the brand
- Generating cash
Dan describes how great customer experience grows the top line, by strengthening the brand and attracting and retaining customers, as well as impacting the bottom line, cutting costs by fixing root causes of problems. The common thread throughout this success story is that Dan, as CEO, is driving customer experience himself, and therefore was able to align the entire organization quickly. He describes two levers that impacted the culture change at Sprint: a compensation system based on reducing the number of calls to customer care by fixing root causes, and customer experience being on the C-Suite agenda every week, thereby demonstrating to the organization that he is “walking the talk.”
One key initiative Dan covers is Sprint’s focus on “seamless bricks and clicks,” ensuring a consistent customer experience across online and offline, and the importance of customizing the experience across all channels in today’s market. Sprint is at the early stages of this big data and digital evolution, and it’s really exciting to hear that the CEO is so passionate and so involved in customer experience.
Sprint results: the American Customer Satisfaction index cites Sprint as having the most improvement in CSAT scores in the past 4 years across any industry. Listen to this inspirational CX story at Sprint here.
All in all, it was a great CX Day in Kansas City. Care to share your CX Day from around the rest of the country?