WalkMe: a Great Way to Improve the User Experience and Harvest Business Benefits?

Issue: how do I do this online?

Travel is an essential part of my life as a management consultant and business advisor. Occasionally, whilst I am on my travels I get  a call from either my wife or children asking me for help on getting some task done on the web.  During these remote conversations I tend to be gripped by a sense of frustration and futility. Why? Because I get that the most effective way to help them, and not get another call, is to be by their sides guiding them through the job they want to get done online.

Solution: WalkMe?

This week I came across WalkMe and spoke with their Head of Marketing, Boaz Amidor. He tells me that the founder of WalkMe found himself in the same boat – his mother needed the help again and again – and this is what led him to create WalkeMe.

What is WalkMe™? It is an “interactive self-guidance technology that guides prospects, customers, employees or partners through any Web experience.”  As I understand it, WalkMe it sits on top of your website and as such does NOT need any integration or changes with the underlying site.

Why use it? If you use it intelligently – focussing on the scenarios/tasks that matter – then WalkMe reduces your customers’ frustration of waiting for assistance, shortens the time it takes for support personnel to handle an incoming request and strengthens your company’s support reputation. It also occurs to me that this technology can improve sales conversion as not all customers who want to buy from you call support when they cannot buy from you – some go elsewhere, I do!

How does it work?  “Through a series of interactive tip balloons overlaid on the screen, tasks are broken down into short, step-by-step guided instructions, which help customers act, react and progress during their online experience.  As a result, customer support managers can empower their customers to self-task successfully even through the most complex processes.”

You can get an introduction to WalkMe by taking a look at a short demo video: http://vimeo.com/48888010

And , you can learn more about WalkMe and even try it for free. Check out www.walkme.com

What can you expect from the WalkMe team?  Boaz Amidor told me that their customer support team is not called the customer support team, nor the customer services team.  It is called the Customer Success team. Why?  Because “The philosophy here is to make sure that our team is committed to the success of the customer. WalkMe brings the value and our team is here to ensure the success.”  I say that this resonates with my idea of service.

About WalkMe

WalkMe was founded in 2011, has offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv.  It is funded by  Mangrove Capital Partners, Giza Venture Capital and Gemini Funds.

WalkMe recently WON the Red Herring Top 100 Award.  Alex Vieux, publisher and CEO of Red Herring, said the following regarding WalkMe’s win: “We looked at hundreds and hundreds of candidates from all across the continent, and after much thought and debate, narrowed the list down to the Top 100 Winners. Each year, the competition gets tougher but we believe WalkMe demonstrates the vision, drive and innovation that define a Red Herring winner.”

WalkMe has been included in the list of “Cool Vendors” in the “Cool Vendors” in the CRM Customer Service and Social 2013″ by Gartner.

You Should Know

I am not a fan of complex technology, I have grappled with it (MIS, ERP, CRM, e-commerce) and it tends to be hard work to implement, and it rarely generates the promised benefits.

I am a fan of simple technologies that are easy to implement, simplify-enrich lives, and create value.  This is how WalkMe showed up for me this week and this is why I agreed to write this post.

I am not being paid, in any shape or form, for writing this post.  Or any other post that I have written to date. My commitment is to write from a context of service.

As with everything I write, I urge you to “try things out AND do your homework”.

Thank You and Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year

Hello to each and every one

It is Christmas time.  It is the time of the year that I take a good look at my life including getting present to all those who have contributed to my life. I am clear that you have contributed to my life in 2012.

I say thank you to each and every person who is subscribing to this blog.  You matter, you make a difference to me and my life.  I am clear that I am called forth to write and keep putting my authentic voice into the world only because your provide a listening for this voice of mine.  Without your listening there would be no value in my speaking/writing.

I thank each and every person who has provided me with encouragement whether by commenting on this blog, my reaching out to me via email and/or by retweeting on Twitter.  In particular, I thank Adrian Swinscoe, James Lawther, Kristin Zhivago, Colin Taylor, Annette Franz Gleneicki, Mary Bartels-Cook, Richard Sheahan and Richard Shapiro. 

I thank Bob Thompson at CustomerThink for reaching out to me back in March 2011.  For providing encouragement when it was welcome. And for being a great ‘sparring partner’ in 2012.  It was great meeting you face to face this year Bob.  And I thank Neil Davey at MyCustomer.com.  It was great to meet you face to face as well Neil.

I thank Kevin Smith and Nick Davey for sticking with me pretty much since the beginning of this blog – you are the first two people to subscribe to this blog.  And you have stuck with me for 2 years and 2 months!

I thank Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino for being the person that helped me to set this blog up back in the summer of 2010. Whilst we have not been in touch, I carry you in my heart and wish you the very best.

If I should have mentioned you and have not mentioned you then please forgive me.  And do know that I am truly grateful to each and every person who has taken an interest in The Customer Blog and/or me.  I am clear that you and I exist in this world together.

I wish each and every one of you a great Christmas and the very best for the New Year.

And finally, I ask that you get present to the fact that you matter: how you show up in the world does make a difference

At your service and with my love

Maz

“I matter, you matter, he matters, she matters, they matter, we matter.  Let’s live ‘extraordinary’ lives and co-create a ‘world that works, none excluded'”

giffgaff: what impact will the 8 hour service interrruption have on brand reputation and customer loyalty?

The giffgaff network: 8 hour service outage

Last Friday (16th) the giffgaff network went down and it stayed down for 8 hours.  It is not unusual for a mobile network to go down, it happens and many of us don’t even notice it because the outage last a couple of hours.  The giffgaff outage did get noticed – it got noticed by my wife, my son and plenty of other customers.  In our case the impact was not earth shattering.  Yes, my son who was feeling unwell was left hanging around outside for 50 minutes because he could not reach his mum.  As he said, it was annoying to have wait for 50 minutes when you are feeling ill but it’s not a big thing. For me, it is no big deal as I have two phones and had access to a second network that was working fine.

I think about switching until I get this email

The interesting thing is that the service outage did get me wondering as to whether I should switch the family over to say O2.  That was until Fri 16/03/2012 21:24 when I got this email:

We’re sorry

You may have experienced loss of service today (Friday 16th March), we’re sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you.

This was due to a burst water pipe which took out the power at one of our 3rd party suppliers. Engineers have been working on this and have put a fix in place which we are now monitoring for stability. During the period where service is restored you may notice that your service is intermittent.

We’re continuing to work on this issue and regular updates will be provided in the community Noticeboard. Additional information is also available via our Blog where our CEO Mike Fairman has popped up a quick update.

Once we are sure that full and stable service has been restored for all members we will look at ways to make it up to you.

Again, sorry for the inconvenience.

Regards,

The giffgaff team”

Upon reading this email my reaction was “I’m sticking with giffgaff!”  Why?  The email struck me as the kind of response that I would expect from a decent and professional human being who had mistake and was now doing everything to make things right.  No, that is not enough.  It occurred to me that this is the kind of email that can only come from someone who has heart – who cares about doing the right thing.  Specifically:

  • The subject header is exactly right -“We’re sorry”.  Isn’t that what we expect and what our friends/family say when they have messed up?
  • The cause of the outage is explained;
  • It provides reassurance (we are continuing to work on it) and access to more information (Noticeboard, blog) for those who need it;
  • The line “Once we are sure that full and stable service has been restored for all members we will look at ways to make it up to you.” is a perfect line.  giffgaff get that whilst it is important to make it up to their customers, it was even more important at that time to deal with the issues (e.g. number porting) that had piled up (and were impacting) customers.
  • The email doesn’t just start with sorry it also ends with sorry.

What does the customer base think?

I trawled through the comments left by customers and the ratings of the comments.  Based on that I’d say that the customer base is split into two camps – polar opposites of each other.

The first camp is not happy with an 8 hour outage and it is best characterised by the following comment:

“I’m with the people who are wondering how this can possibly happen.

We get it, accidents happen, you can’t plan for everything etc… but for one water burst to knock out your entire network is unacceptable. Sure a lot of people just couldn’t text their friends or whatever, but some people might have had an emergency and were without a phone.

I’m glad I had the foresight to buy myself a backup pay as you go orange sim card in case this happened, I would never have done that with any other network…but with giffgaff, I felt it was necessary.

You can’t keep customers with your amazing prices alone, you have to provide a good and reliable service.”

The other segment of customers get that the service outage was a pain and yet give giffgaff full credit what they are about (the value proposition) and how they went about addressing the service outage.  This is best captured by the following comment:

“Thank you GiffGaff employees for getting our network back up and running. Was a hell of a pain without service but hey these things happen, maybe it can be classed as a learning curve for the future. I love GiffGaff and won’t leave you because of the occasional hick cup. Im sorry that so many people feel the need to complain, we have all suffered one way or the other because of this, but for god sake people find something to moan about that really is worth moaning about. You get great value from GiffGaff and they work hard for us when things do go wrong. So stop whingeing and give them a cheer and a big thank you for working so hard to fix the issue.

THANK YOU GIFFGAFF AND ALL YOUR EMPOYEES FOR WORKING SO HARD.”

What are the implications for giffgaff?

If I have read the comments correctly then I’d say that giffgaff have not burned their bridges with the bulk of their customer base.   To the contrary, most of the comments were positive about giffgaff.  Yet giffgaff does have an issue.  Why?  The phone is not just a device, it is THE device for most people; once customers sign-up with a network they expect it to work perfectly and all the time.  They might not notice short service outages, they definitely notice longer service outages: 8 hours is a long, long service outage.

My advice to giffgaff? You have done a good job in the way that you handled the service outage.  And that kind of service outage should not have happened.  So you should do the following:

  • take this opportunity to learn what needs to change (technology, processes, people….);
  • let your members (customers) know what you are doing to make sure that this kind of outage NEVER happens again;
  • invite (and engage) your members to play their part in what needs to happen – that way it becomes something that we do together, that way the ‘ownership’ of giffgaff continues to be distributed;
  • keep your promise and make it up to them – you can use this as an exercise to build more rapport with your customer base if you go about it in the right way.

Final observation

The impact of the  CEO’s post setting out the position (status) and offering an apology is interesting: many customers found that comforting / reassuring  and as a result it generated goodwill for giffgaff.  That strikes me as being an example of a leader leading.

Reflections on customer loyalty and customer satisfaction: not the usual perspective

So much talk, so much confusion – round and round we go

Round and round we keep going writing about, talking about, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.  Some say that the route to customer loyalty is customer satisfaction and others say that the abode of customer satisfaction does not lead to mountain of customer loyalty.  Everyone has an opinion and if you look deeply that opinion, the point of view, the white paper is totally in line with what that person is selling. So let’s start there.

I am not selling you anything.  I am not even interested in convincing you of anything. And I don’t want to teach you anything.  Why?  Because the purpose of this blog is simply this: a vehicle for me to get present to my point of view on all things customer and to share that point of view with anyone who wishes to access it.  Also, I am open to entering into conversation (and friendship) with you on what I write and which speaks to you. So now that I have shared the context of all of my writing let’s explore the topics of customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.  Before I address the customer dimension I simply wish to explore loyalty and satisfaction in terms of my experience.

Are customer loyalty and customer satisfaction two distinct phenomena?

When I look into my living and get present to my experience I notice the following:

  • Loyalty has been present (to specific people) even when I have been highly dissatisfied with these people;
  • I have been satisfied (with people and institutions) without being loyal.

This leads me to suspect that loyalty and satisfaction are two different phenomena (and domains of experience) and that the access to each is likely to be different.  You might be wondering what the heck I mean?  To use an analogy and speak in blunt terms, the access to my wife’s love (of, for me) is through the route of being present, being patient, being interested in her, listening to what she wishes to say without judgement, providing the helping hand as and when she needs especially when she does not ask for it.  Now compare that with sex: the access to sex with a prostitute is the right amount of money.  If I was to confuse the two then I would be setting myself up for a lot of trouble.  It occurs to me that this is exactly what we, the business folks, are doing when it comes to customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.

Loyalty – how/when/where does it show up in our experience?

As far as I can see people are loyal to people, institutions, religions (and other ideologies, and even products.  Furthermore, it occurs to be that most of us are thrown into the state of being loyal without actually choosing to be loyal – there are exceptions.  Most of us find ourselves being loyal to:

  • Our family members and our ‘tribe’ (community, race, nation…) – we are indoctrinated that way and when we are not being loyal then we feel some element of guilt;
  • The same applies when it comes to those born into religious families and communities – not only do we tend to be loyal to the religion itself but also the institution/s that represent that religion.  Take a moment to think about how the abuse by members of the Irish Catholic church went on for many decades even though evidence suggests politicians knew, policeman knew, priest knew and the Vatican knew.
  • Political parties: children born into families where the parents vote Conservative, inevitably end up doing the same irrespective of the policies being put forward, the same is true for Labour, Republican, Democrat etc
  • Specific products simply because we grew up with them: some people grow up drinking Coke and Coke is all they will drink; my mother always used and continues to use Lurpak butter no matter what.

From the above I assert that loyalty is related to identity and vice versa.  More specifically, I assert that loyalty and identity are two sides of the same coin or you can think of them as the yin and the yang.  If I strongly identify with family, religion, political party, product then they came part of me.  When I am being loyal to these people, institutions, ideologies and products then I am being loyal to me as my identity.  Why did I write it that way?  Because as and when we change our identities in a significant manner our loyalty also changes.

What has that got to do with customer loyalty?  Everything.  Apple fans are Apple fans because Apple is such a strong part of their identity.  Starbucks loyalists are loyalists because Starbucks is part of their identity not Costa Coffee (competitor in the UK).  Burberry is doing fantastically well because Burberry is core part of the identity of the affluent.  So the challenge for companies is to get people to incorporate their brands into their identities.  And that does not happen simply if you build a product that is a little better than the competition or provide service that is slightly better than the competition.  The core challenge is to stand for something that presses the emotional buttons that are already present in human beings.  I have given you a clue about some of the buttons and there are plenty more (which I might just write about in another post).

The other point that I wish to make with regards to loyalty is that the real test of loyalty is when I am presented with a choice (just as good or better than my existing choice) and I can take it at no cost to me.  Imagine that I am a married businessman often away on business and I am presented with a no-cost, no-risk, opportunity for sex with a woman that I find attractive.  I am tempted, really I am tempted – it occurs to me that it would be a great experience at no cost/risk to me.  If and only if I decline that opportunity am I loyal to my wife.  In this case (one of no cost/no risk) my loyalty arises out of my declaration of loyalty to my wife.  In the same as our loyalty to our country arises out of our oath of allegiance and to betray our country is termed treason.

Lets press on.  Once I am operating out of the context of loyalty I can dissatisfied with you and yet continue to be loyal to you.  Lets make that real.  I am loyal to my brother and yet there are many aspects of my experience with my brother that I am dissatisfied with: when we meet each other we are as likely to ignore each other or to trade unkind words.  Yet when it matters we are there for each other – this is not talk, it is what is so because it has happened several times and will happen again.  Or think about the Irish Catholic Church.  Why did the politicians, the policeman, the priests do anything?  I suspect they were highly dissatisfied at what was going on yet they did not break ranks with the Church.  Why?  Out of their sense of loyalty?

Satisfaction: it can lead to repeat behaviour and not necessarily loyalty

Let’s go back to the analogy I used earlier.  I visit a prostitute and when I came out of her chambers you ask me to complete a survey and I give her a score of 8,9 or even 10.  Does that mean I am loyal to this prostitute?  Not necessarily!  I might turn up next week and see a new member of the brothel that is younger, more seductive, more/different in one or more ways that get my attention.  And I switch.  You are confused: why did you switch?  And you are perfectly ok with switching yet you scored 10 in the last customer satisfaction survey!  I switched because I did not incorporate the first prostitute into my identity.  Now if I had then it is not likely that I would have switched and if I did switch then I would have felt some element of guilt, of remorse.

Here is my assertion:  improving the customer experience (the product, the service across the customer journey) is most definitely likely to improve satisfaction.  It will make your customer happier and a happier customer is that much more likely to return and come back to you.  Yet, that absolutely does not mean that the customer is loyal to you despite giving you a 10/10.  I know because I scored my osteopath 10/10 and yet ended up going elsewhere because it was more convenient to me.  If you look into your experience you will see this for yourself – you are human just like me.

Conclusion

customer loyalty and customer satisfaction are two distinct phenomena.  The access to each is different. If you do not get this then you are in for interesting times.  Most of the people I read and listen to are doing a good job of not getting it or pretending that they do not get it.  I wonder if in 10 years some of us will look back and ask how come customer loyalty did not improve despite all of our investment in social media, customer experience, CRM and product development.

The missing piece of the customer experience puzzle

What is the missing piece of the Customer Experience puzzle?

Is it customer service?  Hardly, it seems that it is rather old-fashioned to say customer service when the speaker is talking about customer service.  No, the in-term is customer experience.  Is it marketing?  No, whilst it has taken a back seat many authors do recognise the importance of marketing communications (brand, advertising, direct marketing….) on the customer experience.  Is it the website? No, many of us get the need to design websites so that they are attractive, usable and useful and thus contribute to the Customer Experience. So what is the missing piece of the Customer Experience puzzle?

The ‘product’ is the missing piece

Just imagine that you head to the hairdresser and everything is perfect: the name, the location, the ‘store’, the welcome that you receive, the pricing, the staff that serve you….Yet your hair does not turn out the way that you expected?  What impact does that have on your entire Customer Experience?  Turns it negative right?  In this case the ‘product’ has failed to meet your expectations and that one failure has turned what had been a positive experience into a negative.

The product is the missing piece.  Nintendo turned around its fortunes and claimed the number 1 slot when it launched the Nintendo Wii.  Dyson did the same thing for vacuum cleaners.  And of course Apple with the ipod, the iphone and now the ipad.   The product is the reason that the buyer searches you out and becomes a customer.  If you have the right product then the customer will put up with all kinds of interaction hassles to buy that product of you – and come back to buy accessories.

Why do I say that the product is the missing piece of the Customer Experience puzzle?  Because it simply is not mentioned in Customer Experience speeches, articles and conversations.  The assumption seems to be that Customer Experience = Interaction Assessment and Design.  The need to pay attention to the product was brought home to me this week because two products failed to meet my expectations in a big way.  Allow me to share those with you.

A headset that is uncomfortable on the head

I needed a headset and was in a hurry to buy one so I did not do any research.  Instead I popped into a store and picked the first one that looked like it would do the job at a reasonable price.  The headset was well presented.  And I was delighted that some thought had gone into the packaging – making it easy for me to open up the packaging without having to get a chainsaw to cut through the plastic packaging that is all too common for some electronic products.

The surprise came when I put on the headset – it simply is not comfortable and does not fit around my head.  After about ten minutes of using it I took the headset off because it pinched by head – I could feel it pressing into my skull.  I would call that a major design flaw: a headset that cannot be worn because it is uncomfortable. Being scientifically trained I decided to see what other users had to say about the product.  I found it on Amazon and sure enough there were people complaining about the fit/comfort about the headphone.  Will I buy any other product from Creative?  Unlikely.

Twinings Earl Grey tea – new coke / classic coke?

I am a tea drinker and the tea that I drink the most is Earl Grey and as my wife is the one that does the shopping she buys Twinings Earl Grey tea.  I have got used to it and I like it.  Except that now I don’t like it at all.  Let me explain.

Twinings have changed the Earl Grey formula – to my palate it simply does not taste the same.  So I did some research and found that I am not the only one: “Twinings changes its Earl Grey tea formula and customers revolt”.  Digging into it deeper it appears that Twinings have changed the formula for the UK but will stick with the “classic” formula for all export markets.  And due to the customer reaction Twinings will allow customers to buy directly from them via their website.  Here is the Twinings statement and customer comments on that statement – worth reading the customer comments to see how much the product matters.  Personally, I have asked my wife not to buy Twinings Earl Grey anymore – I will give other brands a go.

Conclusion

The product is the centre-piece of the customer experience in the sense that if you get this wrong then it does not matter what else you get right.  You can add all the customer experience wrapping that you want but if the product is weak then you are fighting a losing battle because the flaws in the product noticed and shared with the world – like I am doing right now. I will never buy a Creative product again: if they can’t make a simple headset what can they make?

If you have a winning product with a loyal customer base then think twice before changing that product.   In the customer age ‘products’ belong as much to customers as they do to the companies that make them.  Changing these products without involving the customer base (co-creation, new product development) is asking for trouble.  Customers like to be in control and they do not like to have things taken away from them.  I wonder how many letters, emails and calls Twinings is receiving from customers?

Make sure that you think deeply about the ‘product’ and your customer’s experience around the product.  There is no surer way to build an empire than to create a ‘must-have’ product and then promote this through the right marketing and advertising.

Thank you

Dear readers, professionals and fellow human beings

I thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  Your reading encourages me to write and share my point of view with you.  And I always look forward to hearing your point of view.

I thank you for taking the time to comment on what I have written.  Your commenting leaves me feeling connected.  It also makes me feel that it is a useful use of my life energy to write.

I thank you for writing to me directly to let me know what you think of this blog and what contribution it makes to you.

I thank you for connecting up with me on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

Please know that I am grateful that you exist, that our paths have crossed and that we are in conversation.

I hope you will make this Christmas  a joyous one for yourself, your loved ones, your fellow human beings.  And I wish you the same for 2011.

If I can help you then please do reach out to me.  My philosophy is simple: we can make heaven or hell for each other, I have no interest in hell as it is already crowded, I am totally passionate about co-creating heaven with you!

Be well.  Be great.  “Be the change you wish to see in this world”  Gandhi.

Every Customer Experience / CRM change agent should read this book

Any and every person involved in organisational life can benefit from reading this book.  It is a must read for anyone who is a change agent.  Everyone working on getting a better alignment between the customer and the organisation will benefit from reading and applying the insights of the book.

The book is written by Barry Oshry and it is called “Seeing Systems: unlocking the mysteries of organizatonal life“.

If all the people working on / impacted by Customer initiatives – Strategy, Insight, Experience, Engagement, CRM – read and applied the insights then I am confident that their organisation can save a lot to money, time, effort and heartache.

Incidentally Barry also has a blog: The Seeing Systems Blog