About James Dodkins
A fan favorite and the CX Rockstar himself, James Dodkins joins us for another round. For those who don’t know him, James used to be an actual, real life, legitimate, award-winning rockstar. He played guitar in a heavy metal band, released albums and tore up stages all over the world. James uses this unique experience to energize, empower and inspire his clients and their teams as a ‘Customer Experience Rockstar’.
He recently wrapped up the ACXS, a program for training and certifying accredited Customer Experience Specialists.
Connect with the speakers
Connect with James Dodkins on Linkedin or Twitter or learn more about him on his website, or learn about the ACXS training program, now available online
Follow Worthix on LinkedIn
Follow Worthix on Twitter: @worthix
Follow Mary Drumond on LinkedIn
Follow Mary Drumond on Twitter: @drumondmary
Customer experience is becoming commoditized
CX has hit mainstream. Lots of companies are jumping on the bandwagon and saying they care about delivering brilliant customer experiences, but some don’t even know what customer experience is. They think “experience” sounds cooler than “service.” People looking for CX jobs can’t find what they’re looking for because the job of customer experience manager, for example, can be anything from a call center agent all the way up to a C-suite team leading company-wide transformation. Because of all the bandwagoners, it’s becoming harder and harder to figure out who’s actually doing it properly versus those who are just saying it because it sounds good.
It’s like how every band thinks they’re a rock band, even if they’re not. It dilutes the term rock music or rock band, making it representative of far too much, so it doesn’t have the same impact it once did.
The definitions of CX are being bastardized
When somebody asks you “what is customer experience”, the only acceptable answer is that customer experience is a term used to describe the business practice of understanding and improving the relationship between an organization and its customers. It’s not just a benefit for your company that will bring customers back and help you make more money. It’s not the sum of the interactions — that’s a customer experience, not the philosophy or discipline of customer experience. As a CX community, we need to be far better at this.
Some people say customer experience is the sum of the thoughts, feelings and interactions a customer has with your company. Nope. That is incorrect. That is the least customer-centric way to look at what a customer experience is. A customer experience is the sum of the thoughts, feelings and interactions the customer has about and with different products and services during the achievement of a goal or an outcome. Once companies understand that bigger picture, they can work towards delivering collaborative experiences. The first step is that redefinition of customer experience and realizing the company is not everything to the customer. It’s just a small part in a bigger picture.
Customer complaints are caused by mismanaged expectations
Literally every single problem or customer complaint a company receives comes from a mismanaged expectation. If you have a million customers and you don’t manage their expectations, that means you have a million different sets of expectations to try and meet. That’s never going to happen, and you’re going to have loads of unhappy customers.
Companies need to take control and set those expectations. One customer’s bad experience can quickly become thousands of potential customers’ bad first impression. These first impressions of companies happen long before customers first interact with them, so companies need to make sure they know what’s going to happen by setting expectations from the start.
Set expectations proactively
Companies need to be honest with their customers. If they know that something someone ordered isn’t going to reach them until two weeks after the original estimated date, they need to be proactive about it. They need to reach out and reset those expectations.
Companies can build this into their experiences. For example, you go to McDonald’s, order at the kiosk, and you see that your order will be ready in five minutes. They’re setting expectations so you won’t be surprised or feel your order is taking longer than it should.
Consumers are now prosumers
Customers have become very good at being customers. They are prosumers — professional consumers. They have tips, tactics and tricks to get the best service and the best prices, and they educate themselves. They go out and set their own expectations. If a a company says their product is the best, customers are not going to just take their word for it – they’re going to go online and see what other people think about it, and they’re more likely to trust the opinion of anonymous people online than what a company says.
Lying should not be incentivized
A lot of employees are incentivized not to tell the truth, which is a shame. They’re getting sales bonuses or NPS bonuses, and they’re not incentivized to be honest with customers, only to achieve something for the company. Companies need to change that, and instead reward honesty and the delivery of a good experience.
Understand where and when your customers’ expectations are actually formed during the customer journey. There are multiple ways expectations can form, but once companies understand how they’re actually forming, it’s much easier to then remold them.
Expectations are formed in 8 ways
Communication is number one — what the company has told the customer. A lot of expectations are formed by what the company has said will happen. For example, “Your package will be delivered at 2:00 PM on Friday” — that’s a communication expectation.
There are certain things people expect when buying an Apple product just because they associate it with the brand. Likewise, there are certain things they expect when dealing with Disney because of the brand.
Let’s say for example, you’ve only ever flown with Emirates Airlines, which is a great airline. They are leading the way in customer experience. Then if you go and fly with a different airline, you’re going to have that expectation formed by another company, a leader in the industry.
If you’re buying something on a website for example, you expect the checkout button to be in the top right corner. That’s an expectation formed by convention – that’s just how it’s done traditionally.
5. The past
Customers think about what has happened to them before. For example, if you ordered something from Amazon and it came on time, next time you will expect it to also come on time.
6. Word of mouth
Opinions of friends and family have a big impact on customers. If you hear negative things about a company, you probably won’t work with them or buy their products.
Expectations are set by the current situation of the customer. For example, if you ring up your mortgage company and you’ve had a family member die, you expect them to treat you in a way suitable for the context of the situation.
8. Personal standards
Each customer has different personal standards that impact their decisions. When choosing a restaurant, someone with low standards might be perfectly happy with fast food, while that won’t cut it for someone who is used to gourmet.
Organize like a soccer team
If you look at the organizational chart of most companies today, it’s going to be pyramid with the boss at the top and frontline workers at the bottom, split out by departments and divisions. They split people out into their different parts of the process, and then of course they end up with managers managing different parts of the process, and all the way at the top they have the person who knows the most about the company who’s in charge of everything.
The problem with the pyramid is that it creates an environment where most employees think that the customer isn’t their job. The only reason they think that is because of the pyramid, but that’s not reality. It’s just a drawing on a piece of paper, a collective hallucination, a figment of their imaginations. Yet every single piece of work they’ve ever done, every single project they’ve ever implemented, every single thing they’ve ever done in their business life has been bound by this pyramid.The further you get up the pyramid, the more important people are and the more they get paid. Those people are also further away from the customer.
So we’re telling people the further away you get from the customer, the more important you are. That’s not the right message to be giving in a world where we want to be delivering amazing experiences.
Instead, companies should be organized like a soccer team. The team should be put together with people who have the different skills and core competencies best suited to deliver a successful outcome. A soccer team wouldn’t put eleven goalkeepers or eleven strikers out on the field because that’s not conducive to winning a game. They put a team together with people who are all very different with very different skills. They have different roles to play, but they’re all part of the same team with one outcome in mind. Companies need to put together experience teams with people who have different skills and core competencies, but can come together to best deliver successful outcomes. Don’t split people up by skillset, but bring people together based on their ability to deliver customer success.
Mary Drumond (00:00):
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to one more season of Voices of Customer Experience podcast. And to open the season with me today, I have the most listened to guest of season three back by popular demand. James Dobkins.
James Dodkins (00:24):
Yay. Go me!
What’s up? Thanks for coming back.
Well thank you for inviting me back. I mean, you didn’t really have a choice, I guess, because people are demanding it.
People were demanding it, sending comments. I had like perfect strangers reaching out and saying how inspired they were by this episode and how fantastic it was. And you want to hear the best part, James? I remember that the day we recorded you were sick.
Yeah you were like under the weather or something. So you were low energy. So today you’re not sick, I’m guessing.
I might use it as an excuse if this doesn’t go particularly well.
It’s going to be amazing, right? So you’re the CX rock star. You bring a different take. You bring a little bit of a different energy than we’re used to seeing in CX. How do you stay excited? How do you keep that energy? How do you keep going?
It’s not really that difficult because I quite like what I do. I think it’s difficult if you’re doing something that you don’t like to stay, you know, infused and energized. But when you like what you’re doing, it’s not really that hard.
You know what, you’re right. I mean, sometimes I’m scrolling through the internet and I see these memes about how people hate going to work and I’m like, I can’t relate. I can’t, I mean I understand that it’s an issue…
What’s your favorite part of your job?
I think doing this podcast. It’s a lot of fun.
Talking to me right now. Wow, thank you.
Absolutely. I mean, the highlight of my year. But for real, for me it’s, I was that huge nerd in school that just loved learning. You know, like that weird kid in the front row that kept asking all the questions and pissing everybody off. That was me. So I try to see everything as a learning experience and the fact that I learn so much and I get so much out of this, it feeds my soul in a great way. So I think that’s my favorite part, really.
Yeah. That’s cool. Well, the thing is like, one of the things that gets me super hyped is anything that can make me think about something in a different way, or anyone that can help me look at something in a way that I’ve never looked at it before. Which is kind of lucky because I kind of need to always be, you know, doing different things, having that next practice, the thought leadership ideas. So it’s kind of cool because I seek that out. I seek out things that make me look at the way that I currently think about stuff and think about it completely differently. So that’s, that keeps me going as well.
So let me ask you something. Do you think that customer experience is becoming commoditized?
Ah, I don’t know really. Um, I’m not sure to be honest. What do you think?
I’ll tell you what I think. I was in my car listening to the radio the other day and there’s a big company here in the U.S. Called Quicken loans. And they do mortgages.
And they were talking about improving your mortgage experience, and that was the moment when it hit me. I think that CX has hit mainstream. So yeah, I mean it’s quite a time to be alive, but where are we going from here?
It’s tough because I mean, in Quicken’s defense, they do a pretty decent job of customer experience, so to be mentioning it in their marketing, for me, that would seem quite an authentic step for them. But yeah, I get it. It’s almost like lots of people are jumping on the bandwagon and going, we are really interested in… Look, right, I’m selling my house at the moment. The people I’m selling it with are like, we care about delivering brilliant customer experiences. They don’t even know what customer experience is. It’s like, I think what a lot of people are doing is they’re taking customer service and going, Oh, experience sounds cooler than a service. Let’s just talk about that. And the big problem with that is…
Or marketing, even, right?
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And of course there is the argument that good customer experience is the best form of marketing, but man, it’s tough because especially I hear this a lot from people that they’re looking for customer experience jobs, for example, and they look on the job boards and it’s so difficult to apply for those customer experience jobs because let’s say the job of customer experience manager, that can be anything from a call center agent all the way through to somebody that’s actually leading a team and a massive transformation in a company. So I think one of the problems is we don’t actually know what customer experience is and so people are jumping on the bandwagon because it’s a cool word that everyone’s using and it’s becoming harder and harder to figure out the people that actually are doing it properly versus the people that are just saying it because it sounds good
And I’m torn as to whether this is a disservice or not. Because a certain part of me understands that the popularization of the term and of the concept is great for our industry and the more people know about it, the more companies and executives will invest in projects, et cetera. But at the same time, I feel like by slapping that label on anything, it’s kind of dooming all of these efforts to maybe fail in the long run. And that’s concerning to me as well.
Yeah. You know what, you’ve got a point there and that that’s the thing. It’s kinda like, if I bring it back to the music thing, you know how like every band thinks they’re a rock band, but they’re kind of not. It kind of dilutes it a little bit and it makes the term rock music or rock band mean far too much and it doesn’t the same impact as it once did.
I mean, I’ve heard people say that BTS is a rock band.
What’s a BTS?
You know, the K pop band.
Yeah, you know what, unfortunately I never did. But exactly. So of course there’s going to be a whole generation of people growing up going, Oh yeah, I really like rock music. And you go, oh what bands? And you say, whatever that acronym is, you go, no, no, no you don’t. And it will be exactly the same with companies going, yeah, we do really good customer experience and you go oh, tell me about it. They’ll tell you and you go, no you don’t.
Yeah. Well I’ll tell you something that I heard on one of the podcasts that I recorded for the season. Uh, which is Joe Pine and yeah, you’ll hear him later on in the season, listeners. But one thing, so Joe Pine wrote the experience economy book 20 years ago and he recently relaunched it. And Joe Pine has a really unique view of what customer experience means. To him, customer experience is the economic offering of time well spent, period. So when companies are able to provide customers with an experience, it slows time down and makes them savor every minute and there is a fee attached to that experience, then that is what Joe considers customer experience. So for him, the experience economy is any economical offering surrounding an experience of time well spent, okay? And everything other than that is the service economy, which is what he considers the economical revolution that came before the experience economy. But the experience economy still needs to provide their customers with good experiences. So his idea of what customer experience is, is different, but it doesn’t mean that the other alternatives are wrong. It’s just a different definition. So the customer experience that we look at as a practice is kind of that sum of all the interactions that that customers have with a company.
See, that’s the thing. Oh, you’ve set me off now. Well done. Congratulations. The rest of this podcast is going to be a write off because it’s all going to be about definitions now. I am so sick to death with the definitions of customer experience being bastardized. Really, when somebody asks you what is customer experience? The only acceptable answer is customer experience is a term used to describe the business practice of understanding and improving the relationship between an organization and its customers. That is the only acceptable answer to what is customer experience and it pisses me off so much when I hear, somebody will say, what is customer experience? They go, Oh well customer experience is so good for your company and you need to do this because they’ll come back and you’ll make more money and they’re not asking that. Or they’ll start to tell what a customer experience is. They say what is customer experience? And they go, well customer experience is the sum of the interactions. No that’s a customer experience. That’s not customer experience capitalized, like the philosophy, the discipline. Or people will say well a good customer experience is this, that or the other. They’re not asking what a good customer experience is. We as as a community need to be far better at this. If somebody asks us what a customer experience is, okay, fair enough. But just people asking, what is customer experience? There needs to be like a dictionary definition, and for me, customer experience is a term used to describe the business practice of understanding and improving the relationship between an organization and its customers. That is it. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. That’s all it needs to be and there’s so many other definitions out there. I mean when it comes to a customer experience, that annoys me as well because people will say, well a customer experience is the sum of the thoughts, feelings and interactions a customer has with your company. Nope. That is incorrect. That is the least customer centric way to look at what a customer experience is. A customer experience is the sum of the thoughts, feelings and interactions the customer has about and with different products and services during the achievement of a goal or an outcome. When you look at it that way, you start to realize that you just play a small little part of a bigger picture. Once you understand that bigger picture and the goal or the outcome that they’re trying to achieve, you can work with other companies that are going to be helping towards that to deliver collaborative experiences, but the first step is that redefinition, realizing that you are not everything to the customer. You are just a small part in a bigger picture. So I’m going to stop talking there because I’ve rambled–
Wait, that was my favorite rant. I loved it because that’s one thing that we talk about here at Worthix. It all starts with a need. The customer has a need, period. The need has always existed, you know. So for example, the need for transportation. People have always had a need for transportation. It’s just changed over the years. The offering has changed over the years, but the need is exactly the same. People still need to get around. So…
Yeah. Well, I mean, what I would suggest is almost taking that a step further. What is the outcome delivered by that need? What is the goal they’re trying to achieve by using transportation? Understand what that is and deliver that better than a competitor. You’re going to be head and shoulders above everyone else.
Yeah, I love that.
Cool. So when you’re not ranting about customer experience, either on the internet or on a stage–
See my talk is scripted because of this exact thing because otherwise I’ll go off on a mad rant for like seven hours and then people would be like, Oh, we kind of need to leave now because we’re going to die of starvation.
I’ll tell you what, rants are emotional, rants are emotional and emotions generate reactions. And that’s cool. I like that. I’m down with that. But back to my thing. So when you’re not delivering CX rants or on a stage doing scripted rants, you also write books. Accidentally successful books. We approached the subject lightly, and the other day you published a review that somebody had made of your book, didn’t you?
Oh man, yes I did.
And I’ll tell you why I’m bringing this up in a second. And the first one was just bashing the book, weren’t they? They’re like, this is the most wretched, horrible, obscene piece of work I’ve ever read, right?
I mean I don’t think it was that bad, but thank you.
But the point was, you sharing that for me it felt really authentic and I was just looking at a new t-shirt launched by Tesla in commemoration of the cyber truck event. Did you see this?
I haven’t seen the tshirt. I saw the cyber truck thing.
They put out a tshirt with the exact imprint, remember how Musk threw a ball at the glass and it shattered and it was a huge fail. Oh my God, what a faux pas, that’s ridiculous. They got the imprint of the ball on the glass and they made it into a tshirt.
So they took their fail, they made it into something to generate profits. So they took that that moment that most people would try to hide behind, or hide away or want people to forget altogether, and they’re just spreading it out as a marketing campaign to the masses. And for me, that’s genius. So with that, I’m suggesting that you’re slightly genius by putting your negative review out on social media, but it does provide your followers and other people with kind of an authentic opinion of what you stand for, I think. And I think that that is very attractive in a world where we’re surrounded by influencers and we have a hard time knowing what’s real and what isn’t real. Is this feedback you get often or is this the first time you’re hearing it?
The thing is, of course, I mean, we spoke about this last time, but in the past when I was trying to be the corporate person, I would have never done anything like that because you know, it’s just not the done thing. But now with what I’m doing, now I’m just being myself. It’s the sort of thing I’d show my mates and be like, lads look at this, so why not show the people that follow me? At the end of the day, I don’t think many people on the cusp of buying my book saw that and then thought, well, I’m not going to buy now. And if they did, so what? I think it’s a nice thing for people to see that you know, just everyone’s normal. Yeah, I’ve got more followers than most people, but I’ve also got a lot of people that don’t like me as well. That’s fine. And to be fair, if I’m taking a purely customer experience lens and sort of view of this, that bad experience that that person had was my fault. If I didn’t set the expectations properly in the description of the book to explain, which I actually think I did but whatever, if I didn’t set the expectations properly or well enough that that person bought the book with some other expectation in mind, that’s on me. That’s my fault. At the end of the day, yes, this person’s a dick for writing that, but whatever… they’re not really, can you delete that part?
I have to take responsibility for that because if I were to set that person’s expectations better, they wouldn’t have been disappointed with it. And we need to kind of think like that in our businesses a lot more. Literally every single problem that happens, every single complaint comes from a mismatch of expectation. Either they thought something was going to happen and it didn’t happen.
I would argue that that’s valid for everything in life. Relationships. Work. When you set expectations, I mean, I think it’s, my therapist probably says this, you know like expectations are just a set up for frustration because you’re putting expectations on someone that they have no responsibility over. Now that’s in a personal interaction. When you’re a company then it’s different because you’re the one that’s creating maybe the guidelines for the expectation. You’re the one that’s promoting your product. You’re the one that’s putting it out there for people to see. So controlling the expectations that people have is actually crucial to not generating frustration, which will then lead to negative experiences.
Yeah, definitely, I’m fairly confident, and I don’t really have any data to back this up, but if anyone wants to help me out with this, do. I’m fairly confident that every single complaint that has ever happened at any company other than the ones where they’re just trying to chance it to get something for free, comes from mismanaged expectations. The thing is, if you’ve got a million customers and you don’t manage expectations, that means you have a million different sets of expectations to try and meet. That’s never gonna happen. And if you don’t set the expectations, customers are all gonna have their own expectations. You’re not going to know what they are, therefore you’re not going to meet them. You’re gonna have loads of unhappy customers. You need to take control of that and you need to set those expectations. And it kind of comes back to the review thing. Like reviews online, they come from bad experiences. And one customer’s bad experience can quickly become thousands of potential customers’ bad first impression. These first impressions of our companies happen long before we first interact with them. So we need to get hold of this. And make sure we set people’s expectations so that they know what is going to happen.
How do you create, or how do you control those expectations?
It’s not that hard, you just tell people.
Okay, as a company, because that’s when it gets kinda messy, how do you control that narrative?
You have to be honest, for a start. If you know that the speaker that somebody’s ordered isn’t going to reach them until two weeks after the date you’ve given them, you need to be proactive about it. You need to reach out, reset those expectations. Or, you know, rather than giving them the bad news and risk losing the sale, which a lot of companies will do, rather than risk losing the sale, they’ll basically lie and be like, yeah we can do this thing, of course, then they’ll get the sale. Then the thing won’t happen. You gotta be honest. You gotta be upfront. You gotta be proactive and it’s just about telling people what’s going to happen. It’s not that difficult. You can build this into your experiences. So little things like you know, you go to McDonald’s, you order at the kiosk, you see how long it’s going to take. They’re setting expectations. They’re telling you it’s going to be five minutes for you to get your big Mac. Now, you could have gone in there thinking you’re going to get your big Mac in one minute. Okay, but they’ve reset those expectations. They’ve told you what to expect. Then if you go up and say, well, I thought I was going to get it in one minute, really, they’ve set the expectations. I think it comes a lot down to marketing, a lot down to salespeople, a lot down to the communications people. If marketers go out and say, Hey, our company does this really great thing, give us money, and then they get in touch with the sales guys and they go, yeah, sure we can do that really great thing, give us money. And then you can’t do it. That’s your fault. You aren’t setting the expectations.
Well marketing has historically been doing this, for I’m going to say a hundred years. And now at this point, I mean, you know, I talk about this all the time, I know I’m getting repetitive, but people have decided that they no longer want to be marketed to in that way. People are rejecting artificial, forced, inauthentic marketing. They don’t like fake storytelling. They don’t like being lied to. And when that happens, it actually generates a repulse of that brand. So I think that companies in general are realizing that if their marketing is creating expectation gaps, it’s going to backfire. So while people might be interested in the initial offering, there’ll be no loyalty and churn will be really, really high. And then what ends up happening is that the cost per acquisition ends up being a lot higher than any sort of profit that they can make off of that sale. And ultimately it’s not worth it. There’s no return. So from an actual numbers perspective that kind of marketing no longer works and we’re having to switch it up and change that game and offer more authentic, more real marketing, which is actually just, number one, creating a good product and number two, talking about it in the most authentic way possible.
Yeah, I agree. Imagine if there was a company that says, Hey, here’s this new thing. It’s really good at this, but it’s kind of crap at this other stuff, but you should still buy it because it’s good at those things. That’d be cool. I’d buy that thing.
Me too. I mean, I could respect that at least. You know, if it lines up with my need then why wouldn’t I buy it?
The thing is, we as customers have become very good at being customers at the moment. We are prosumers — professional consumers. We’ve got tips and tactics and tricks to get the best service from people, to get the best prices and we start to educate ourselves. We’re going out there and setting our own expectations. Now a company says, Hey, we’ve got the best thing. We’re not going to go, wow, that company just told me they’ve got the best thing. We’re going to go online and we’re going to look at what Gary from Belgium thinks about — I don’t know if there’s any Garys in Belgium — but we are more likely to trust the opinion of people that we have never and will never meet online than we are to trust what a company says at the moment.
Isn’t that messed up?
It’s a pretty messed up world. It is messed up, indeed.
Especially with the amount of fake reviews out there.
Do you know what? I’m going to set up a company one day called Expectation Terrorism. And what we’re going to do is, Samsung will come to us and they’ll go, Oh guys, we’re worried about the new iPhone. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to go out and we’re going to start spreading rumors about how good the iPhone is going to be. That it’s going to be able to turn into a robot and clean your room, that it’s gonna have lazers in it. All this really cool stuff and people are going to get so hyped about it that when it actually drops, they’re going to be like, oh, is this all? So our job will just be to go and hype up other people’s products so that they’re actually disappointed when they come out. Do you wanna be my CMO?
Absolutely, the anti-marketer. That’s perfect. Okay, well getting back to a serious topic, which is the company’s role in providing these expectations and how internally, what that means. So I think that part of your job, if I’m not mistaken, is going into companies and telling them what they should do in order to not frustrate or break the expectations of their customers. Is that right?
When you are educating executives, decision makers, practitioners inside organizations of how to do their very best at keeping up with the expectations of their customers, what are some of the key pointers and what are some of the problems that you tend to encounter more often than not?
Well, a lot of employees are incentivized not to tell the truth, which is a bit of a shame. And it means that you know, whether they’re getting sales bonuses or NPS bonuses, or any other things like that, that they’re not incentivized to be honest with customers. They’re incentivized to achieve something for the company. And I think the first step is, stop doing that stuff. Try and incentivize honest stay, try to incentivize the delivery of a good experience, not something else. But the other part is understanding where expectations are actually formed. There’s lots of different ways in which experiences get formed in customers’ minds. Once you understand where the experiences have been formed, it’s much easier to then sort of remold them, if that makes sense. The way I kind of look at it is, you can’t re-engineer an expectation if you don’t know where it came from. If you don’t know how it was formed in the first place. You need to try and understand what people’s expectations are, to start with. But then you’ve got to be like, well, why do they think this? Where did that expectation form? At what points in their journey did they come to think this thing? And for me, there’s probably eight different ways in which expectations are formed. Would you like me to tell you what those eight are?
I’m going to keep track of them to make sure you get all eight.
Oh so I can’t even skip out. Okay, thanks. So, number one is communication. What the company has told me. A lot of expectations are formed by what the company’s said will happen. You know, your package will be delivered at 2:00 PM on Friday. That’s a communication expectation. There’s brand expectations. There’s certain things that we expect when buying an Apple product just because we associate it with the brand. There’s certain things we expect when dealing with Disney because of the brand. There’s leaders’ expectations. Now this is, let’s say for example, you’ve only ever flown with Emirates airlines, which are a great airline. They are leading the way in customer experience and then you go and fly with United, you’re going to have an expectation formed by another company, formed by a leader in the industry.
There’s conventional expectations. So if you’re on a website buying something, where would you expect to see the checkout button? That’s a question to you.
Oh, where would I expect it? The top right.
Yeah. So that’s a conventional one. That’s what everyone does. So there’s expectations that are formed by convention. There’s expectations that are formed by the past. So what has happened to me before? So for example, if you ordered something from Amazon and it came on time, next time you will expect it will also come on time. Word of mouth. Basically what your friends and family tell you. Don’t go with those guys because they are going to set your house on fire. Don’t do that. So when you go into it, you’ll expect them to set your house on fire, so you won’t go with them.
There’s scenario expectations. So for example, let’s say you ring up your mortgage company and you’ve had a family member die and because of that particular scenario you expect them to treat you in a particular way. And then there’s personal standards expectations. Like what are you willing to accept personally? And good example, I’ll use McDonald’s again. I’m more than happy to go to McDonald’s because I don’t really have very high standards. Whereas someone as discerning as yourself may have very different standards when it comes to food.
So there are the eight areas. Did I get all eight? I think I did.
Nope. You did seven.
No I didn’t. No, I did communication, brand, leader.
No I did leader.
Oh the leader. Leader leader, you did do leader.
Conventional, past, word of mouth, scenario and standards. Was that eight? That’s eight. That’s eight. I did all eight.
It is eight. But you know what, you’re right with that personal standards thing. I actually have that problem all the time with, like a TripAdvisor. I don’t trust TripAdvisor reviews. I feel like it should be segmented by standards. I really do.
No, seriously. What they should do is they should match you. Like once you’ve got a bit of a history of ratings–
They should use some AI to do that. I feel like that technology is available.
Surely, surely they could do that. Literally they match your profile with people that have, you know, rated similar things similarly, the same as you. And then you will be able to trust their opinion more than someone else. Because that’s the thing, if I went into McDonald’s and gave it 10 out of 10, and you went to McDonald’s and gave it one out of 10 and we had the exact same service in the exact same meal in the exact same way. Who’s correct?
Absolutely. Me, of course. But um, but absolutely because it really has to do with what sort of expectations do you have about your experience? Here we go again.
It all comes down to expectation management. If you aren’t managing expectations, you won’t meet expectations because you won’t know what they are and everyone’s going to have different ones and it’s going to be chaos.
That’s absolutely true. Last time you were with us, you didn’t tell a story that I wanted you to tell and you didn’t tell it cause we got carried away and here we are 30 minutes in getting carried away again. And I mean, and this story is going to be just magnificent for the folks in the U.S. Who know absolutely nothing about soccer.
Well, I mean you should have learned from your past experience to explain–
My historical expectations. So, well I was, which is why I decided to plug this in. Now, see, there you go. I remember you talking about a soccer team. Now how can we possibly correlate a soccer team with customer experience?
It’s basically, I think that we need to start organizing like a soccer team. Well, the actual term is a football team.
I’m sorry. I apologize.
It’s the one that you played with your feet. But whatever, that’s fine. Really it comes back to, if you look at the organizational chart of any company nowadays, most companies, it’s going to be pyramid. Gonna be a triangle. With the boss at the top, frontline workers at the bottom, split out by departments and divisions. And where this came from originally was from a guy called Adam Smith. So many, many moons ago he went into a pin factory in Scotland. And maybe when you take your trip to Scotland you can go and visit it.
The pin factory, it sounds like just the kind of thing I’d like to do in my Scotland vacation visit. A pin factory.
He looked at what was going on and he said, do you know what would be really interesting? You’ve got really crappy output at the moment. It really depends on who’s in on, you know, any given day and their level of skill. Wouldn’t it be cool if we just split out the tasks needed to create the pins and train people really, really well just to do that one little part of the experience? So you’d get why are extruders, wire cutters, pin sharpeners, pin packages-ers. You get all those people and they would get trained really, really well to do their part of the process. They’d say look, don’t ask about, you don’t need to know about anything else. Don’t even look at those. Just do your one thing over and over again and be really good at it. And this was a massive departure away from traditional manufacturing. Well, let’s say you were making a chair or something, you would be like the master craftsmen. You’d go and find the tree, you’d cut down the tree yourself. You’d drag it back to your workshop, do all this stuff to the wood to turn it into a chair. You would sell the chair, you would service the chair. You would be the person that owned the entire experience from start to finish. And this flipped it on its head. The thing is it increased output by 24000% apparently, which I mean, I’m not a mathematician, that’s a lot of percent. So people started doing it. They said, well that was good, we should start doing it. Apparently it was even cited in the declaration of independence as the model for economic growth, the division of labor, and subsequently the sub division of labor. This was written about in his book called the wealth of nations. Now I mentioned the declaration of independence. Do you know what year that was? Correct?
No, no, I don’t. I’m really bad at that stuff.
- So this model comes from 1776. That’s a long time ago. So what happened was you’d split people out into their different parts of the process and then of course you’d end up with managers managing different parts of the process. And then all the way at the top you’d have the person who knew the most about making pins, for example, and they would be in charge of everything. We’ve just extrapolated that into the current day. We’ve taken a model that was created to make a pin factory more efficient and more effective and use it on companies that were never designed to be run that way. So the way I look at it is we need to flip this on its head and we need to look at it very differently. Cause the problem with the pyramid is, we create an environment where most people think that the customer isn’t their job. The only reason they think that the customer’s not their job is just because of the way we draw it. It’s not reality. It’s just a drawing on a piece of paper. It’s a collective hallucination. It’s a figment of our imaginations. We’re not actually bound by the pyramid. Yet every single piece of work we’ve ever done, every single project we’ve ever implemented, every single thing we’ve ever done in our business life has been bound by this pyramid that was created for a pin factory. It doesn’t even actually exist. Just a drawing on a piece of paper. So we split people out based on their skillset. I think this is wrong. One of the big things about it is the further you get up the pyramid, the more important you are and the more you get paid. That, funnily enough, correlates to the further away you get from the customer. So we’re telling people the further away you get from the customer, the more important you are. That’s not the right message to be given in a world where we want to be delivering amazing experiences or if not amazing, ideal. And so I think we should organize like a soccer team. So I did get there in the end, like a soccer team, or football team. Three questions we need to ask. They are, who is the customer? So for a soccer team, who is the customer? I am asking you now.
Yeah. The fan that comes to watch the game. When they come and watch the game, what is their successful outcome?
Yeah, see the team win. Now what is the thing we need to measure to make sure that we know whether we have delivered that success or not?
Yeah, the score. So we know who the customer is, we know what their successful outcome is and then we know what to measure to know whether we’ve delivered ourself, without actually having to ask the customer. Cause again, if you, I know you’re a soccer fan, if you went to a soccer game and a week later you got a survey saying Hey, on a scale of one to 10 did we win? You’d be like, what is this, this shit? Why are you asking me? So once you understand that stuff, the coach can then put a team together with different skills and different core competencies who are best suited to deliver that successful outcome, to deliver that win. They wouldn’t just put 11 goalkeepers out on the field. They wouldn’t just put 11 strikers out on the field because that’s not conducive to delivering that successful outcome. They put a team together that are all very different, have all very different skills, have all loads of different roles to play, but they’re all part of the same team with one outcome in mind and that is, win the game. So I think we need to be putting together experience teams with people with different skills, different core competencies, who can come together to best deliver successful outcomes. Don’t split people up by skillset, bring people together based on their ability to deliver customer success. Does that make sense?
I knew that the story was good. I knew it. See that’s why I kept pushing it. It’s a great story.
I’m glad you did, thank you.
Tell me about your training course. It’s that ACXS right?
Yes. The accredited customer experience specialist. So the training course, it’s been designed specifically for people, not looking for best practice, but looking for next practice. The training is all about not just showing you what good companies do and getting you to copy that, but helping you understand how good companies think and helping you copy that. Taking the tools, the techniques, the frameworks, the principles, the methodologies and using them in your situation. So really it’s for people who want to disrupt customer experience. Who want to create things that have never been created before. The training gives you that framework to be able to create something that hasn’t been created before. The method you learn is the SCO method, that is the successful customer outcome method, and it is all based around understanding, articulating and delivering successful customer outcomes. So that is the training. We’re actually going to be out on tour this year, the Disrupt CX UK tour. We have got nine dates across the UK starting in London, March 9th to 11th. If you would like to come along, be trained and certified as an accredited customer experience specialists, please reach out to me or check out ACXS.co.uk. And check out some of the other dates too. Thank you for letting me plug that.
And tell me about your speaking engagements in the U S at least for the next, for quarters one and two.
Yeah. So I’m going to be, uh, not speaking, but hosting an awards ceremony for OPEX next week in Orlando. Then I’ll hop over to Nashville where you will be there and you will see me deliver my Rules for Rockstars keynote talk. The world’s first and only musical customer experience keynote. Then after that, I’ve got Vegas, I’ve got Russia, so I’ll come back and try and meddle in your election. Um, then I’ve got Turkey again. I’ve got another one in Turkey. I’ve got a bunch in London. Yeah, I’ve got loads coming up this year. If you are interested in seeing me live at a conference, near you, send me an email and I’ll send over my dates. I can’t remember them all at the moment, but there’s a bunch of them all over the world this year.
So how do people reach out to you in order to find out where you’re going to be? What’s the best way to contact you?
Probably LinkedIn. My guess is there. I mean, I’m doing the Instagram thing now. Pretty cool, you know, down with the kids. Got an Instagram, you can do that. However, I did discover, I had a message today from like three months ago that went in some other inbox, so I don’t really know how to use it.
From me, right? It was my message.
No you know what? Yours was in there too, but it was another person. Yeah. Sorry about that. Blame Instagram.
Okay, boomer. We’re going to teach you how to use the direct messages on Instagram.
Thank you, very much.
This was awesome. James. I’m so glad you came back for one more season and let’s see if we can get you on season six as well because apparently there’s a Rubik’s cube story that you didn’t tell.
Yeah, cause there’s that other one you wanted me to tell, I’m holding it back on purpose. I’ll come back in 2021 and tell you the other story.
Sounds like a plan. I love it. Take care.