Customer service is about the customer. It’s about making them happy, leaving them with a wow feeling. This concept inspires everything we do here at Botsify. Of course, we’re in the business of developing technological tools (like our website chatbot or Facebook chatbot) to help support the design of that “wow” moment, but at the end of the day helping to develop positive experiences is what we’re striving to do here at Botsify.
However, we don’t just do this by giving you access to great technological tools. We also do this by educating you on how to improve your own Customer Experience (CX).
Today we’re excited to bring you another in-depth educational post about improving your own CX. Botsify was fortunate enough to be able to chat with Adam Toporek, a leading voice on the topic of CX and the founder of Customers That Stick, about what it takes to implement a successful CX campaign.
Let’s jump into the interview.
Thanks for joining us today, Adam. You’re a reputable keynote speaker and helped many businesses with the development of their CX strategies, and, most importantly, you help them ensure the internal structures are in place to keep up what was learned in order to execute it continuously. What exactly inspired you to jump into businesses and lend a hand like this?
First of all, thank you so much for having me. It's an honor to be here.
There are a lot of things that inspired me, but I think deep down that I have a teacher's heart. I enjoy sharing ideas that can make an impact. Whether I'm working with business leaders or frontline teams, I love sharing strategies that can help them design better experiences and deliver more successful interactions. It’s great to see the light bulbs turn on when people make distinctions that can help them be more successful.
I truly believe that better customer experiences can make people's lives easier.
It says on your personal description that you’re a “third generation entrepreneur”. Are there any timeless tips or values that you learned from your predecessors that are directly related to the world of CX?
How long do we have? There are so many lessons that I learned growing up in and around small business. Part of that lens I bring to my speaking, training, and advisory; it’s an understanding that most organizations are trying to deliver experiences with limited resources. They don't have enough budget, they don't have enough staff, and they don't have enough time.
Having a real-world lens is crucial. So much customer experience advice is pie in the sky. I believe we always have to look at strategies that are profitable and scalable.
Now, that doesn't mean that every transaction has to be profitable, but the strategy and tactics must be profitable over the long term.
Within the method outlined in your company team trainings, you highlighted 3 reasons why most trainings don’t work, and the third one is “It doesn’t last”, which is also a pivotal aspect of your overall approach. You touch on the main idea of this pitfall, and you say that many motivational speakers get a team amped up, then the energy fades and the company is left at square one, with lots of new, unutilized knowledge (despite some great memories of a fun training session). What are the biggest reasons training sessions end up losing their initial pop? And what techniques do you use, and teach, to solve that problem?
The biggest reason training sessions lose their initial impact is because there is no followup. There are different studies showing how much we retain after training, and the summation of all of them is that much of what you learn in a training room is lost very quickly.
It doesn’t mean customer service training isn’t impactful, it can be incredibly effective at opening minds and helping people understand new service strategies. However, customer service, like anything, is a skillset, and like any skill set, repetition and habit are key to making the skills second nature.
You would not expect somebody who went to a baseball seminar to be good at what they learned if they never practiced it afterward. Reinforcement matters.
The best way to solve this challenge is to have a plan for reinforcement after the initial training. That plan can be one that a provider like our company delivers for you or one that the organization executes itself.
The key is to make sure that the learning from the training isn’t a one-time thing; it has to become part of the culture of the organization, from leadership to the front lines.
And as an extension of the above question, can the techniques you teach to make the CX inspiration last be used effectively in an online. remote setting?
Like the channels we use to service customers, each learning method has its pros and cons, its strengths and weaknesses. While some techniques can be only used in person, virtual or remote training can be very powerful.
Virtual training is often more cost-effective, is easier to schedule, and is very helpful for distributed teams. Also, virtual training is a fantastic way to follow up in-person training.
You offer a service called “Strategic Advisory”, where you guide businesses on creating the best CX strategy. As one of the key points in the training, you say that you employ “Strategic use of technology in experience”. That’s something particularly relevant for our readers, since they’re using online platforms, and making use of new technologies, such as chatbots. Could you share any of your tips for implementing innovative, new technologies smoothly into one’s business? For example, let’s say there’s some brand-new bot or program that most customers haven’t experienced before, and the technology is still being perfected. Those new technologies have to be rolled out eventually, and many of our readers want to jump on that bandwagon as soon as it starts moving. So how can businesses use these brand new technologies, especially through their initial bumpy periods, with minimal risk to their CX? Is there anything business owners can do within their strategy to back up possible failures or road bumps while the new technology integration smooths itself out?
It really depends on the nature of the customer relationship and the nature of the technology being deployed. However, here are some top-level principles that should apply to most circumstances.
Organizations need customer education to make the customer aware of the technology, how it benefits them, and how to use it.
Organizations need employee education to make sure employees know how the new technology fits in the customer experience and what their role is in either directing customers to it or supporting it.
Organizations also need to map out the most likely failure points and to have a plan, a backstop, for how a team member can smoothly and quickly jump in to help save a customer interaction.
Now I’ll steer back to the topic of maintaining inspiration within a team delivering the CX. Obviously, the company’s leadership plays a huge role in this. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen well-intentioned leaders do to motivate their employees that don’t work, or even worse, backfire?
The biggest challenge almost always comes down to leaders who don't walk the talk, even if unintentionally.
It's really easy to talk about customer experience. It's really easy to say that we value our customers, but so often organizations are not designed to be customer-centric.
For example, different silos might be incentivized around sales in one case and productivity in another, and the customer experience suffers as a result.
The leader might mean well, as you mentioned, but they aren’t realizing the mixed messages that are being sent by incentives and priorities throughout the organization. And the larger the organization, the deeper the silos and the more pronounced this challenge is.
I just love all the book reviews you do on your site. You take interesting, relevant books on business and CX, and throw in your two-cents for your audience. One that stood out to me, in particular, was yourreview on the book “The Intuitive Customer”. Within that book, the authors break down “7 imperatives”. You mention imperative number 6, which is called the “One Win”. You then say it defines how “apparently irrelevant aspects of your customer experience can sometimes be the most important.” That’s a concept that really hits home for many of our readers, as they’re all striving to hit every aspect of the CX, particularly the seemingly insignificant ones. Can you give us an example of one of those “apparently irrelevant” aspects? In what part of the CX strategy does it need to be addressed?
First of all, thank you so much. We love doing our One Win Book Reviews.
There is a philosophy we teach at CTS Service Solutions: every touchpoint is important, but every touchpoint is not equally important. Organizations have limited time and resources to dedicate to improving their customer journeys. Leaders need to focus on the big touchpoints first.
That said, we have to understand that every touchpoint does matter, and because of the unique nature of human psychology, certain touchpoints, which might seem inconsequential to most, can be truly important to individual customers.
I have an example from a fine dining restaurant, where they received a customer complaint that the flatware was not arranged on their table using the correct placement. Now, the customer was technically correct; however, you wouldn’t think that such a touchpoint would rise to the level of an angry customer complaint.
In light of all the dedicated reading you do within your field, as is evidenced by the array of book reviews you share, how important do you believe continuing education is within a workplace, particularly in keeping your team inspired within the CX? How often do you suggest a company offers this, and to what degree?
Obviously. I think reading is crucial, and I also think it's crucial for our teams.
Right now, the world is competing for the attention of every single employee in your organization, and most of what it's delivering to them is not helpful or empowering.
As for how to do it... Certainly, share content from our team or our many fine colleagues in the CX space. Also, if you want to share books, I recommend a buddy of mine, Arnie Malham, who started a program at his advertising agency where he actually paid his employees to read books. It was so successful that he created a platform to help others do that. It's called BetterBookClub.
Finally, if you could jump ahead 10 years into the world of business, what major differences do you believe you would see in the values and delivery of CX throughout all industries?
Well, predicting future values is super challenging, but I’ll give it a shot.
I think we'll see certain industries and organizations become more customer-centric, and other parts of the economy moving away from customer experience as a strategy.
As far as service delivery, technology is going to massively transform the delivery of customer service. Within 10 years, many low-level transactions will be taken over through artificial intelligence. Hopefully, this tech, if deployed correctly, it will leave human agents the time to create better, more impactful, deeper customer interactions.
Thank you greatly for taking the time to chat with Botsify’s CX blog readers today Adam. We truly appreciate it. To our blog readers, if you’d like to learn more about Adam and the work he does you can follow him on Twitter or head over to his website here.