The Customer Experience SmackDown


comic-customer-serviceI have spent over 26 years in IT, much of it, meeting and working with customers. It remains the part of the job I continue to enjoy the most. I get to talk about the products we develop, the technology that goes into them, and the people who build and support them. But the most valuable parts of these meetings include feedback on the customer’s experience, and how we are doing.

This includes things users like, things they don’t, and things we are missing. The more open and transparent we can be on both sides, the better. We can then take that input and channel it back into the right parts of the organization.

The concept of understanding your customer’s experience is not a new one, and goes across just about every organization and company. So much so, a day called “Customer Experience Day” (AKA CXDay)…

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The Power of Face to Face Engagement

Studies say we live in an increasingly connected world.  Smartphones are the ever present reminder that we can reach or be reached at any time.  Similarly, companies have made great strides to become more connected to their customers.  Frequent emails, surveys and webinars are now common for organizations large and small.   But text messages hold no tone or body language to read.  The same goes for surveys and emails. How do you know if a webinar attendee actually understood what was presented?

I’m not saying that we should “destroy the machines”,  I work at a computer company after all.  What I am saying is that we have to better leverage the face to face time that we do get.  For instance I was checking emails during dinner my family tonight. My wife gave the look, put her hand out and the phone disappeared until dinner was over.  I actually appreciate that. For work EMC World is the ultimate opportunity to make a real connection with customers and partners.  Every interaction allowed me to read the person I was engaging with and shift the conversation to make it more meaningful.  For the Total Customer Experience team, our biggest opportunity was at our booth.  The goal this year was to create one thousand meaningful engagements, but as the initial numbers are coming in I think we blew that away.

Paul VIA

What is a meaningful connection?  Here is an example.  I was manning the Voice Insight Action (VIA) tool for most of my time, collecting stories.  One customer told me about a product install that went horribly wrong.  I will spare you the details but the project went over by two weeks and by that time everyone was supremely frustrated.  I listened and took down all of the details and then steeled myself for the last question I had to ask “how likely are you to recommend EMC? You can be honest”.  The customer replied and my eyes shot up.  “Of course I will always recommend EMC.  After I got it installed it runs better than anything else.” He went on to explain that even the support is great it was just some miscommunication on a common process that caused all the issues.  That gives me insight into the people I am working for everyday.  Knowing that we are doing our best and that 99% of the time we get it right means something.

What else means something?  Being heard.  Another customer told me about an issue he had to get involved in just the night before.  I once again took down all the details and this time had a few suggestions.  I apologized for the challenges he was running into and his response was “I’m just glad I know someone is listening”.  Maybe I’m taking liberties but that sounds an awful lot like “thanks for doing your job”. He felt better and I felt better.  THAT is a meaningful connection.  And we have over a thousand of them.  Now it’s time to start digging in and build plans from all that feedback but knowing who it is going to help is all the motivation I need.

P.S. If you are totally lost on what’s going on here follow these links to a recap of each day at EMC World.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

“How Employee Advocates Drive Real ROI” webinar in review

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a webinar hosted by Social Media Today on the power of employee advocacy.  Social media advocates are those who promote a brand or company because they believe in it.  Similarly, employee advocates promote their brand, but are not necessarily part of corporate marketing.  The objective of the webinar was to call out some of the benefits of employee advocacy and explore ways to successfully execute a advocate strategy. The panelists included Ted Rubin: social media strategist and thought leader and Sarah Goodall: social business lead at SAP.

Without getting into too much detail here are some of the key takeaways:

Why do Employees make the best advocates?

  • Authenticity – Employees know the company better than anyone and customers would rather hear from an individual than corporate marketing.
  • Employees connect with many people who otherwise may never hear about your company and 90% of people trust recommendation from people they know.
  • 50% of employees what to share information about their company. If they are going to do it anyway, give them the tools to send the right message
  • It would cost thousands to generate the views created by advocates AND engagement is better


How to do it right

  • It starts with leadership. Management has to buy in and participate for others to follow suit.
  • It takes time. Give advocates time each week to be social (recommended 1hr)
  • Highlight the personal and professional benefits of social growth. Social media is a skill in demand.
  • Training is key. Provide detailed training on how to build a profile, a network, dashboards and more.
    • Great Quote “What if we train them and they leave? What if we don’t and they stay?”
  • Let people know they are being heard. Employees are also a great source of feedback.  Listen to what they are saying and enable them to engage customers
  • Reward People with access to executives, thought leaders, and knowledge sharing. The best content will come from those who are well informed.

You can listen to the recorded webinar here

And read the social conversation on Storify

The Past and Exciting Future of Your CXPA

I started this blog because I believe in the power of community. I happen to be in the CX business but the alignment is to perfect to miss. Let’s come together and admit something to ourselves. When customers are satisfied with their experience it improves the experience for the business and all it’s employees. As former Customer Service engineer of 5 years I can tell you it would have made that time much easier. So if we can make customers happier and employees happier and take the competitive factor of CX off the table by requiring it why wouldn’t we.

Maybe this is just my little utopian dream but it sure seems like the CXPA shares that dream. One where all companies work together to share best practices and solutions so a life in business is just a little more enjoyable for everyone involved

Customer Experience Matters®

I wrote this POST for the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) blog, but decided to also post it here because it’s an important message for all CX Professionals…

As 2014 comes to an end, it’s a great time to reflect on where the CXPA is at in its evolution. Or to put it another way, let’s be proud about what we’ve collectively achieved. If this was a “State of the Union” address, I’d say that the state of your association is strong, and getting even stronger.

cxpa_logo horizontalThis past year was a great year for our association. We introduced the first-ever industry-wide professional certification in our field, the CCXP, expanded our community to new heights as we helped our members succeed in their roles with webinars, Local Networking Events, Best Practice Visits, Coaching Calls, CX Tools, Ask the CX Experts, our Insight Exchange, and many other…

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Total Customer Experience Day

I am now officially part of the EMC Total Customer Experience Communication team! That’s all the time I had to celebrate because I was then handed my projects.  My first big projects I have to work on is the preparation for Total Customer Experience day which is quickly approaching on October 7th.  For us TCE Day is about celebrating EMC’s customer centered culture.   It is the one thing that every employee can agree we have in common no matter what department you work for.

TCE Day Inside EMC Header


This is going to be a global event happening in 10+ locations in 6 countries.  Here is just a short list of different activities we have planned:

  • Executive Game Show – putting our big names on stage for TCE flavored games. Guaranteed to educate and embarrass!
  • Experience Analytics Expo – Putting our feedback insights on display with some touchscreen data visualizations
  • “You Define TCE” – This is an internal effort to collect as many stories from employees about how they impact the customer no matter where they are or what they do.  These stories will be shared
  • Surprise Guest – We have guest speaker(s) coming to EMC locations to speak about the importance of the people that support you customers, fans (hint hint!), or otherwise.
  • The entire EMC TCE organization will be available to talk about programs and processes ongoing and discuss new ideas


For all of this I have been asked to head up our social media marketing internal and external. This is a huge learning experience for me.  First and foremost is that knowing your tactical social media doesn’t mean you know squat about your strategic social media.  Need a comparison?

  • Just because I can:
    • write a blog/tweet/FB post/etc
    • assign searchable tags
    • attract views and followers
  • Does not mean I know how to:
    • Choose how many audiences to target
    • know how many social communications to send
    • know how many of which social channels to use

The biggest and oddest issue is internal vs external branding.  The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) launched the first event last and named it CX Day. It’s a perfectly fitting name but internally all our branding and messaging is around TCE.  So to avoid any confusion internally we refer to it as TCE Day and externally it’s still CX Day.  Fun huh?  Over the next couple weeks I’ll have more on CX\TCE day so stick around and feel free to start your own celebration.


5 Reasons Why I Love Customer Experience Day

EMC will also celebrating CX Day. I think I need a blog about that.

Customer Experience Matters®

Have you been to the CXPA’s Insight Exchange or to one of our local networking events? They’re great. Why? Because CX professionals are a fantastic bunch of people. If you haven’t been to one of those events, then I highly urge that you do so in the future.

CX professionals are a happy group. In Temkin Group’s research, State of the CX Profession, 2014 (which is free for CXPA members), we found that 98% of CX professionals agree with the statement “customer experience is a great profession to be in.” Let’s face it, CX professionals are a fun, engaging community!

If we can create a lot of positive energy from pulling together dozens of CX professionals, think about the power of pulling together thousands or 10’s of thousands of them. That’s why we created Customer Experience Day (CX Day).

CXDay_TitledCX Day will be celebrated this year on October 7

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Keeping the Positive Attitude

Silver award

One of the biggest things that anyone will tell you is that if you want more hits/like/retweets/etc. you need to have a positive message. I wholeheartedly agree. But then I look back at my posts and see that I didn’t put in the positivity that they deserved. Then I was looking at the award on my wall and realized this is more than just an ‘attaboy’. So this is a little reminder to myself on how far we have come.

Here is a list of things my team didn’t have before that we have now.  

  • User who participate on internal and external social media.  Better yet, many do so with no reminder.
  • A Total Customer Experience (TCE) website, every opportunity people have to find us is a good thing.  Not specifically social but it does link to our social content. 
  • Someone who is officially in charge of managing the TCE social media strategy.  Yup, that’s me.  A blessing or a curse it means we take social engagement seriously.
  • Engaged customers, partners, and employees.  Seen by the great participation in the TCE Ask the Expert session. (2200+ views, 42 replies)
  • A new look and branding for our TCE intranet page.
  • New co-conspirators: I’ve made some very unlikely alliances with the people i thought would fight the hardest against using social media
  • BIG PLANS – We have big plans for this year and next.  A list of blogs and engagement opportunities.

Our next big adventure? An entire day about our favorite topic. TCE!


Overcoming Organizational Barriers to Collaboration

Ties That Bind - Views on a Social Life

Everything changed with the June 2, 2014 launch of our social intranet.  And lest you think that I’m exaggerating, let me share just one quick story.

One of our corporate departments published a notification of an upcoming change in a benefit plan (trying to be a bit obtuse here, forgive me).  They have done that routinely in the past, posting it to the intranet with a “click here to discuss” button that would bring employees to the social collaboration space to comment.  Rarely did anyone do so.

For reasons unknown, aggregating the intranet with our collaboration space yielded far different results.

There were 123 responses to the change announcement.  Initially, comments were positive but then began a downward spiral of employees who were incredulous about the change, unhappy that they weren’t asked their opinion in advance,  and generally feeling ‘left out’ of the decision making.

Let’s face it, that’s usually…

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