A Source Code for Customer Conversations?

577-AllTimeSmiley_SvN In programming lingo, source code is text written in a computer.

It is primarily used as input to the process that produces an executable program (i.e., it is compiled or interpreted). It is also used as a method of communicating algorithms between people (e.g., code snippets in books).

As movie concept, it became a complicated story with a few holes in it, yet still enjoyable because of its fast pace.

What got me thinking was the idea that by going over recent past situations and focusing only on key elements of the experience one could solve an issue and possibly change the course of an entire situation.

Imagine how different customer experience could yet be if people truly stopped accepting status quo and insisted on humanizing interactions as a matter of life or death. That it is, it's just not as easy to  notice as a big train explosion, like in the movie.

I talked about making customer experience a defining moment for your business extensively. Here are just a few choice links:

  • Designing the customer experience – Complaints are symptoms, and they will lead organizations down the reactive path every single time. Plus, only 2% of the population — or even less — bothers to say something, anything. Many just won't go back after a bad experience, and they will tell their whole circle of friends and family.
  • Emotions, trust, and control at the heart of customer experience – Service providers need to recognize how emotions, trust and feelings about control shape how customers perceive their service experience. Emotions influence what we remember, how we score encounters and the decisions we make. Trust is a primitive psychological variable that is essential to any robust and enduring relationship. Control over one’s environment and knowledge of how events are going to evolve are fundamental psychological needs.
  • Twitter, customer service, and good brand management – If monitoring conversations and knowing what you're listening for is the first ingredient in good online best practices, knowing when and how to respond is much more than good etiquette. It's become an integral aspect of brand management and can mean the difference between a flop – or worse, a crisis – and a deposit in your company's reputation bank.
  • Reinventing the customer relationship to drive growth Making meaning with our customers is one way to growth. Part of it depends on our product and services – are they innovative, do they keep up with the needs/wants, do they help customers in substantial ways? Part of it is contingent upon a proactive conversation.

  • Customer service is already social – Automated social recommendations will in many ways replace ads. Why? Because trust is built in the visibility of what others do vs. your polished online ad. That's why customer service is already social. If you do well by customers, you can proudly play back to them the comments, reviews, and discussions they have about how well you did. This is the transparency payoff in digital media.
  • 3 steps to mapping the customer journey – Mapping the customer journey means visualizing how customers interact with you and your business across multiple channels and touch points at each stage of their involvement with your service.

Key elements of customer experience are placing a strong focus on what you can control and relentlessly removing effort for customers. Just like editing for writers, this means you will be carrying the effort so that the end result feels and looks easy.

Don't just collect data, analyze it, compare it to statistical information, and use what you learn to execute.

[image courtesy of 37signals]

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0 responses to “A Source Code for Customer Conversations?”

  1. This a powerful collection of posts and a valuable path forward for companies willing to pay attention to customer service / customer experience. Imagine how much more successful more companies would be if they indeed made customer experience the ‘defining moment’ as you say here.
    We just had the absolute worst banquet dining experience at our daughters school auction Saturday. While it didn’t take away from the cause and sense of community, all of us at the table were in agreement at just how bad it was – a new low. What this venue/caterer missed was the opportunity to create a delightful experience with good food and service (there was neither) and possibly gain new customers out of the many professionals there who may influence events / catering in their respective companies.
    Instead of spending money always acquiring more customers because they can’t keep the ones they get, companies should see the customer experience as an investment in building loyalty, word-of-mouth – and long-term sustainability.

  2. The dilemma about collecting & analyzing is a very actual one for every business. I see tons of posts about free analysis tools popping up like flowers in spring, yet no one really goes further down the road and actually does something with all that collected data, or find out how to read that information correctly. It’s like with newsletters, we collect tons of email addresses and then always neglect to nurture our lists (and I am the first guilty in this).
    I say, if you don’t know how to use the data you collect, don’t bother – even if it sounds silly – and spend your resources somewhere else.

  3. Great post. Another challenge I’ve seen is in getting companies, especially large ones, accustomed to addressing the entirety of the customer conversation. Old channels make it easy to hide from inadequacies in service and break down in communication. Mapping internal processes for addressing every issue is one way to address it, but there’s no substitute for support from the top to get an initiative like this off the ground. And, most companies won’t come to it on there own, they’ll be forced into it by outside events that expose their inability to meet the expectations of the modern customer.

  4. And we’re still somehow surprised by the lack of understanding on this point. Maybe organizations never connect the dots? The people in them never see the continuum with referral business?

  5. You’ve nailed the source code for conversation. It’s customer experience.
    The big question is ‘What are you doing to give your customers something to talk, tweet, blog or post to Facebook about?’
    I’m a big proponent of building in little unexpected extras or what I call marketing lagniappe. Do it correctly and you can differentiate your product, delight your customers and drive positive word of mouth.

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