Content By Annette Franz

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

The terms “customer-centric” and “customer-centricity” get thrown around a lot; oftentimes, it’s quite clear that they’re being used out of turn. I believe “customer-centric” is often confused with “customer focus,” but the two are very different.

Let’s look at some definitions.

Customer focus means that a brand focuses on the customer. All brands will say they focus on the customer. They listen to the customer (surveys, surveys, surveys), but they don’t really take the time to understand their customers. There’s no real differentiation of who customers are. Everyone is treated equally: as a customer. These brands approach customers tactically and reactively. It’s short-term and transactional: What does she want? How can we be nice to her? What can we do to get her to buy from us or to come back again? Customer focus happens at the front line, person to person, face to face. Customer focus is self-serving in that it is used to achieve business goals, not customer goals.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

In 2019, I wrote about a marketing phenomenon that I kept hearing about, that customers are in control, that they have all the power. I never felt like that was right.

In that post, I wrote:
“So, when you see those headlines about customer control and customer power, what are they really talking about? I don’t believe customers want to be ‘in control.’ Honestly, it’s less about control and power, and more about expectations and having their expectations known—and met. It’s more about brands doing the right thing and doing what’s right. It’s about customers knocking brands over the head and saying, ‘We’re tired of being treated like crap! Why is this so hard? You ask us for feedback. You capture all this data about us. And yet, you still deliver an experience that is primitive, at best.’”

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

I’ll keep today’s article simple—and fun. Bob Farrell, founder of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors, shared the secret to a great customer experience in 1973 (yes, almost 50 years ago!), when he developed a motivational speech for new employees called “Give ’em the pickle!” It was based on a letter he received from a disappointed customer.

The key lessons of that letter? Check out this video to get the details on the letter and his speech.

What’s the extra or special thing that you do to make (and keep) customers happy? Certainly, Farrell advocates for you to make serving others your No. 1 priority.

And don’t be opportunistic. Don’t make a dime (or 75 cents) just because you can. That’s the point of the pickle story.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

Over the years, I’ve written a lot of posts about change and change management. In an article I wrote earlier this year about change and some of the learnings and takeaways from the pandemic and the business crisis that it created, I noted that we had (and still have) a lot to learn. Here’s one of those takeaways that I haven’t written about yet: the importance of conducting pre-mortems and post-mortems, especially as they relate to business continuity. These should already be in your CX toolbox, and if they’re not, you’ve got them add them in 2021.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

I recently read a Recruiterbox article that stated: “Culture can either immunize or infect a company. Good culture can revitalize and motivate. Negative culture increases employee absences and turnover while decreasing their overall productivity while at work.... Employee turnover alone can cost a company anywhere from 30–50 percent of an entry-level employee’s annual salary.”

As you know, culture = core values + behavior. Culture is a favorite topic of mine because it is at the root of any customer experience transformation. It’s also at the root of the experience employees have with the company.

Remember, you get the culture that you design or create—or the culture you allow (which is why it can either immunize or infect a company). Core values are at the root of the culture you design; they support and facilitate the culture and the business model you desire, and they support the vision you have for the business, for your employees and their experience, and for your customers and their experience.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

There’s a little bit of irony in the title of this article. Why do we have to make sure the customer—and employee—experience is crisis-ready? Well, as John Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

Back in November 2012, I wrote an article titled, “Are You Ready for Black Friday?” The point of that article was related to what I’m writing about here. I’m sharing my updated thoughts on this topic because they relate to the current Covid-19 situation.

If your organization is customer-centric, and if you are working to improve the customer experience every day, then today (or this year) is no different in terms of what you should be doing to deliver a great experience. Consistency in the experience is key, regardless of the time of day, the time of year, or a pandemic that lasts months or longer.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

I write about organizational culture and core values quite often. One of my most recent articles on this topic was about whether employees believe in their companies’ core values. I shared this statistic from Gallup: Only 23 percent of U.S. employees believe that they can apply the core values to their work, while only 27 percent believe in the values. That’s pretty dismal, and I think I know why that’s the case. When executives and managers don’t live the values, why should the employees?

Yes, just like with everything else in the organization, executives and managers are not immune from any changes, any required behaviors or actions. As a matter of fact, they are the role models. They must be the catalyst. When they do things right and do the right things, so will their employees. If executives exempt themselves, employees won’t take any of it seriously.

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

Being a customer experience (CX) professional is hard enough; misinformation just makes our work more challenging. Misinformation or confusing information by a person with a ton of followers and a ton of influence makes our work even more challenging.

Recently, Seth Godin published a post on his site titled “Sneaky Surveys (and Push Polls).” I’m a big Seth Godin fan, but this post made me pause. As of today, it’s already received almost 4,000 likes (stars) on his site. In his post, he makes six points about surveys. I’ll address each one.

Open access online surveys

His comment on this topic is: “All open access online surveys are essentially inaccurate, because the group that takes the time to answer the survey is usually different from the general public.”

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

You’re listening to customers. You’re combining their feedback with those bread crumbs of data that they leave with every transaction and interaction with your brand. You’ve developed customer personas to better understand who they are, what problems they are trying to solve, and what jobs they need to get done. You’ve mapped their journeys to understand their experience today and their expectations for a better experience tomorrow. You have done all of that, right?

And you’re analyzing all of that together to learn everything you can and to tell a better and more robust customer story.

And there you are. Stuck. Now what? What do you do with all of those insights? How do they get consumed and acted upon? And they must get consumed and acted upon—otherwise, it’s all just expensive trivia!

Annette Franz’s picture

By: Annette Franz

There’s a lot of bad press out there about journey mapping. And there’s a lot of bad journey mapping (or what people think is journey mapping). A few months ago, I shared my six-step journey mapping process. Remember, journey mapping isn’t just a tool; it’s also a process. Know the tool and create it correctly. Embrace the process because the process is what’s going to ensure you achieve your desired outcomes.

I would call journey mapping the most critical and pivotal component in any customer experience transformation. An in-depth understanding of the experience today—what’s going well and what isn’t—is the only way to really drive change going forward. (You can’t transform something you don’t understand, right?) This is why journey maps and the journey mapping process are often called the backbone of customer experience management.