Required Reading: With Customer Experience, More Is More

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By and large, businesses understand that investing in customer relationships has the potential to yield significant returns, but still, many fail to set their priorities accordingly. Hindered by concerns about shareholders and earnings statements, companies too often place customer experience lower on their to-do lists. In her new book, More Is More, author Blake Morgan advocates following the lead of organizations like JPMorgan Chase, whose CEO, Jamie Dimon, went on record as saying that he ignores quarterly profits and pays attention instead to customer feedback. Associate Editor Oren Smilansky interviewed Morgan to hear learn how short-term efforts can lead to long-term benefits. 

CRM magazine: What is the top mistake you see companies make with customer experience?

Blake Morgan: The number-one issue is that executives have no clue what the customer experience actually is. If they did, they probably wouldn’t even shop with their own company. It’s important for CEOs to understand the customer experience, to know what it feels like to be a customer—to be maniacal about the customer experience. [Amazon CEO] Jeff Bezos and his executive team spend time in the call center every year. If you call Amazon customer service, you might speak to Jeff himself. This is a company that clearly cares about every step of the customer journey and wants to know it very well.

You write that a CEO’s worst nightmare should be “the 95 percent of unhappy customers who don’t complain” to them. Why?

I have an 8-month-old baby, and this week I got a feedback survey in the mail with my doctor’s face on it, the pediatrician, and it was three pages long. This is a major hospital, one of the biggest in the country. They expect me to sit and fill out a three-page survey and send it back via snail mail? No way. I have a business, a baby; I don’t have time. Companies are still relying on customers to fix their problems rather than finding out what their customer experience actually is. If you do want feedback from your customers, a yes-or-no question is really what you should do—like Net Promoter Score. After a transaction, send the customer a one-question email, or however you’re sending that form, asking, would you recommend us? Did you have a good experience? If the answer is no, you should find those customers and find out what went wrong. And at least you’ll know if you are going in the right direction. But companies today are ridiculous in what they expect customers to do. 

You touch on the dangers of complacency and cited Blockbuster as an example of a firm that suffered because it failed to adjust to customer demands. Are there any companies or industries you see falling victim to complacency? 

Entertainment and media. Recently, ESPN laid off hundreds of people. The reason ESPN—which is owned by Disney—did that is that it’s losing tons of money and market share. We’re seeing the slow death of the media industry, of the way that we’re familiar with advertising, because things are changing. Eyeballs are moving, people are spending [more] time on Netflix and Hulu and less time watching the [networks] because consumers don’t want to sit and watch ads on their TV that aren’t even tailored for them. TV and media are still so slow to understand what customers actually want from media. They’re still relying on that old model where advertisers pay and that pays for the content and programming. But who would want to sit and watch hours of ESPN pundits talking about sports when you have more exciting content on YouTube and Twitter now? Even Amazon paid a lot of money to broadcast live sports programs. 

How can established companies keep up with the speed of change while staying true to what has worked for them to date? 

It’s important to have that discussion of innovation at your company. And big companies have tons of resources to be able to do that. [That could mean] starting an innovation hub within the company or actually buying or partnering with a start-up. There are young, hungry innovators that can benefit from the resources of a big company, and the big company can benefit from the ideas and innovations coming out of the start-up world. In that way, big companies can see how consumer trends are changing and cater to those changes.

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