In a previous article, Tony Bodoh defined 'micro-moments' and explained how an understanding of them could transform customer experience management. In this follow-up article, Tony shares a seven step process that should enable nearly every company to identify and improve at least one critical customer experience micro-moment - within thirty days.
A few years ago I was sitting in the boardroom of a hotel with the General Manager. His entire body portrayed his skepticism. I could tell that he was flipping through the printed slide deck I’d given him as a way to process what he’d just heard. I realized that I made a mistake. Until that moment, I hadn’t really thought about how what I said would sound to someone else, let alone this GM.
The challenge, he admitted later, was that he was conflicted. He knew what my team was capable of; we’d done work for him in the past. He saw recommendations and case studies from other hoteliers. But, what I told him seemed impossible. There was no way in his mind that he would ever see real improvement in the hotel’s customer experience in just 30 days.
What most CEOs believe
Like most of the CEOs I speak with, this general manager simply did not believe it is possible to find and fix a critical micro-moment of customer experience that was dragging down his online ratings and internal survey scores in as little 30 days. In part, it was a rare occurrence for anything to happen that fast in his hotel. Everything seemed to take months or even years to resolve. And, as he pointed out, they “already harvested all of the low-hanging fruit.”
This is a relatively common reaction to my claim that nearly every company has at least one critical customer experience micro-moment that can be identified and improved within 30 days - if they follow my seven step process. And, this micro-moment of experience is usually so significant, that the transformation will be measurable and noticeable.
Three reasons you should target 30 days
I am willing to make the bold claim for a 30 day transformation because my team and I have done it repeatedly. There are three good reasons you should do strive for 30 days in your customer experience discovery and improvement efforts:
- You will prove your expertise. This will give you credibility early and earn you the opportunity to expand your scope, responsibility and funding.
- You will show measurable results. Providing measurable results is rare for most projects, and it is unheard of doing it in 30 days.
- Your CEO and CFO have short attention spans for new projects. You have to prove yourself quickly and generate an ROI immediately.
Finding critical micro-moments at the hotel
When we finally did get the project approved by the GM, we analyzed the hotel's online ratings and internal surveys. As expected, we quickly identified dozens of potential opportunities. Then we ranked and rated them based on the effort involved to fix them and their potential for ROI impact. Prioritization was based on our ability to help the hotel deliver immediate results that were measurable.
One opportunity we found involved the language on the hotel's website. It evoked a positive micro-moment and set an expectation by implying that the hotel was just steps from specific tourist attractions. This was quite an exaggeration.
Guests were often upset to learn that they could not walk to these attractions, but instead, they needed to board and pay for one of the hourly shuttles or take a taxi. As a result, the guests experienced a very powerful negative micro-moment that affected how they viewed their entire stay and how they ultimately rated the hotel.
When we shared this opportunity with the general manager and his operations team, they initially responded that they could do nothing. The website was managed by a corporate marketing team and it would take months to convince them to change it.
We were not fazed. We pointed to what was in their control. They managed the transportation of the guests between the hotel and the attractions. We suggested that they could increase the frequency of departures, improve the quality of the experience and reduce or eliminate the cost of transportation to the guests. These considerations opened the team’s mind to what was possible and they immediately set to work building the plan to resolve the issue.
Simple changes with immediate results
I shared examples of customer experience micro-moment transformations in a previous article.
The CEO of the real estate company immediately decided to supplement automated 'thank you' responses with a handwritten ‘thank you’ note upon our recommendation. She saw a measurable increase in word of mouth referrals within two weeks. I recently learned that she has taken additional steps to build a community of clients on Facebook and invest in giving them micro-moments of joy by rewarding them for their loyalty with gifts and surprises. To fund her efforts, she stopped ineffective marketing efforts where she was competing with many other real estate companies for low quality leads.
In another case, I described how hotel leadership changed their reservation script to simply say that they noted the preferences of the guest after realizing they inaccurately claimed to guarantee a guest’s room selection. This hotel experienced a doubling of the satisfaction scores in just three weeks.
The 7 steps to a 30-day transformation
You can have the same success in transforming the micro-moments of your customer experience in 30 days with the seven steps outlined below. These steps may seem simple, and you may be tempted to skip one or two. I’ll warn you now, that each of these is required. Just be patient and trust the process that we have used and perfected over the last decade.
- Audit your feedback from customers who gave you less than a perfect score to identify clusters of themes around touch points. This will help you see which most commonly mentioned themes correlate to low scores.
- Select clusters that involve processes that provide nearly immediate feedback. This helps you avoid a common mistake most analysts make. Because they are focused on analysis and not implementation, they don’t consider how long it will take to generate results after a micro-moment transformation. In the end, the transformation is either never implemented due to the long-term commitment required or it is never measured because the analysis is long-forgotten. Both cases leave their theories unverified.
- Choose one cluster of the subset of themes you selected in step #2. This cluster should have the least number of departments that need to be involved with a change. The more complex a transformation is, the more time, money and resources it takes and the more likely it is to fail. If it does succeed, your team may never be given your due credit for the success. Remember, your goal is to build your credibility. In the case of the hotel, I realized the marketing copy on the website was not a short-term fix in the mind of the general manager and his team so I focused their attention on improving the transportation which was within their scope of control.
- Go on the customer journey exactly as your customer would. You do not need to create an expert-level customer journey map. Just document what you did, what happened to you, how you felt, what is measurable, the flow of information, etc.
- Find micro-moment(s) during the journey that set false expectations AND that have a measurable negative impact on behaviors. In other words, the feelings caused the customer to choose to do something different than you wanted them to. This is where you will focus your transformation efforts.
- Transform the micro-moment(s) so they set appropriate customer expectations that can be met in an excellent manner consistently by your company. Ensure that your solution is highly valued by the customer. This may involve explicit expectation-setting like in the example of hotel reservations team changing the script language or it could mean aligning with implicit expectations set by the industry, cultural norms or common practices.
- Monitor and measure results so you can make adjustments where necessary and report back as soon as possible. The earlier you know you are having success that you can directly attribute to your transformation, the better it will be for your credibility and long-term success.
Some tips to help boost your motivation
There may be days that this work gets challenging and you begin to feel it is hopeless. Know that these days are likely and prepare for them in advance.
- Create a clearly stated and specific vision of what you intend to achieve.
- Read it and feel it as if it is complete every morning before you start your work and again whenever you feel your motivation or focus fading. This technique has worked well for me.
- Find additional support in creating a list of past successes that you can read through when you are feeling lost or afraid that you will not succeed. These memories may trigger motivation to continue or even ideas of how to proceed.
Why companies fail to transform their micro-moments
Many companies have not started their 30-day transformation because they don’t have the resources, technology, analysts or skills to do so. They believe they need to wait to get more data, implement a software package or hire a person to lead the effort. In essence, they have the desire to move forward, but they don’t know what their next step should be. We can help.
Many executives contact us for a quick evaluation of their situation. All of them learn what their next step is. Sometimes it is collecting more data or even launching a survey. Other times they have everything they need, except the analyst. Still others need help in the innovation of solutions or the implementation of recommendations.
If you have feel like any of these describe your situation, contact us and we can evaluate your situation and show you what your next step is. And, don’t let the size of your company stop you. We’ve worked with companies that were just starting out and those that have hit the top of the Fortune 500 list.