Customer Connections by the Facts Not by Total Nonsense

While researching the book I just completed about elevating the “patient experience” in healthcare, I encountered a powerful quote about the “lemming mentality” of business leadership. In their book entitled “Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense,” Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton note, “Business decisions, as many of our colleagues in business and your own experience can attest, are frequently based on hope or fear, what others seem to be doing, what senior leaders have done and believe has worked in the past, and their dearly held ideologies—in short, on lots of things other than the facts. Although evidence-based practice may be coming to the field of medicine and, with more difficulty and delay, the world of education, it has had little impact on management or on how most companies operate. If doctors practiced medicine the way many companies practice management, there would be far more sick and dead patients, and many more doctors would be in jail.”

That quote has inspired me to seek out more evidence before I go chasing new management approaches or tools. Take “Foursquare” for example. As you are aware, New York mobile startup Foursquare is a very hot Internet company. The software application “Foursquare” is enabling friends to know one another’s locations and enabling businesses like Starbucks to engage customers in collecting points, prize “badges,” and coupons, while regularly connecting with those customers on the customers’ mobile devices. With droves of people signing up for Foursquare almost at it’s inception, many business leaders hopped onto the Foursquare bandwagon out of the of fear of being left behind. But how many of those businesses will execute well on the Foursquare platform before they let that strategy drift for yet another poorly executed “next big thing.”

As you contemplate various customer engagement approaches this week, (like whether to connect with customers on Foursquare) I thought I would compile some data for you to contemplate, so you can operate in the words of Pfeffer and Sutton from the “hard facts” and not the “half-truths” or the “total nonsense.” This set of facts come from a colleague, Bruce Temkin, who I worked with at an event in Miami a couple of years ago. Bruce’s team the Temkin Group published a new study entitled “The Current State of the Customer Experience” which is purchasable at their website. The highlights of the study however were posted at a Linked-In discussion group for Customer Experience Professionals and includes the following:

“Only 16% of respondents think they always or almost always delight customers getting customer service online.

95% want to improve profitability, but only 43% want to improve the work environment for employees.

37% have had an executive in charge of customer experience for at least 12 months.

57% have a formalized voice of the customer (VoC) program.

32% have been using Net Promoter Score (NPS) for at least 12 months, but 19% are not familiar with NPS.
31% analyze conversations in social media sites like Facebook and Twitter; the most commonly used of 11 social media activities asked about.”

From Bruce’s data, I think about the importance of learning to walk before I run. Rather than bolting off into Foursquare, I have to ask myself (and you may wish to do the same):

How can I delight my customers more consistently with my existing online presence?
What should I be doing to elevate my staff experience in the service of our customers?
Is our Voice of the Customer program appropriately formalized?
Can we use our Net Promoter Score data more effectively to leverage improvements in the customer experience? and
Should our business be focused on executing well in the main social media portals (Facebook and Twitter) before we venture out to less travelled locations?

Don’t get me wrong I like being an “early adopter” of technology but I love being an “effective executor” of compelling customer experiences EVEN MORE!

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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