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March 29, 2017

Why “Your Why” means everything in Customer Service

dollarbadlineA personal story:

We were all a little excited, done being on a plane for four hours, and ready to get to vacationing.  My son, girlfriend, and I finally had a chance to get away to Orlando for a short, long weekend. As a Customer Experience Consultant, my schedule can run hot or cold depending upon my client’s needs and projects, so being able to plan a time to get away with the people I love can be difficult. I am sure it is difficult for most people now-a-days with work, kid’s sports, family obligations, and everything else.

After landing, we made our way over to the car rental area. As we approached the car rental corridor, we were buzzing about going to Universal and wondering what the river pool at the hotel was all about. The rental area was fairly clear of crowds, except for a couple of families in our rental agency’s line.

The Process Manager in me realized quickly that there was probably room here for some improvement in efficiency, but I was not working, right? There are four agents, three of which were not assisting any customers, and one is helping a customer who appeared to come from the car lot with an issue. 10 minutes go by. 20 minutes go by. A half hour in, and the two families in front of us are still there. A sizable line had started to form behind us. The other agencies were shuffling families off to their car to begin their vacations. Blood pressures started rising. We checked online to see what the cancelalation policy said, and it required a loss of deposit, so we decided to stick it out.

At the 45 minute mark, we were next in line, but I was well past aggravated. At the 50 minute mark, a man who was not helping anyone for the last 45 minutes, called us up. We got our car, and everything was fine with the transaction, but I was still fuming over the experience. As much as I wanted to let it go (even with my car mates singing Let It Go), the experience marred the beginning of my vacation. The vacation that took a bunch of planning, sacrifice, and dollars began with this impression.

So what went wrong? Probably a lot of things, but I think the most important part that went wrong was the car rental service forgot “Their Why”. I’m sure they collect Net Promoter Scores, measure some form of retention, and manage a number of service metrics and SLA’s. But those are results, not why it is important to service their customers well. “Your Why” is never a result, it’s a reason that means something substantial to your customer or WHY your company exist. Examples of possible why’s this rental agency (especially at a tourist town like Orlando):

·       Your vacation (or memories) starts with us

·       We know we are the last thing standing between you and your vacation, let us get you moving

·       We’re your first ride of your vacation (but the line is nothing like Space Mountain)

Your Why should be the foundation of your Customer Service culture, strategy, tactics, and metrics. It is part of a clear and articulated culture, upon which your talent, technology choices, process management, and data metrics should be looking to accomplish.

I am a huge fan of Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, and creator of the most valuable 15 minutes on YouTube.

Let’s look at an example from my consultancy of when a Why was clearly articulated, and the power of understanding it.

In the first official meeting with a luxury jewelry company’s Director of Customer Service, I asked her the question “Why is it important to create a great customer experience?” After a moment, her answers sounded like:

·       Strong C-Sat or NPS scores

·       Retention

·       Advocacy

·       Customer Lifetime Value

·       Loyalty

After each answer, I said no that is a result. Tell me why it is important to your customers to deliver an amazing experience. Finally, we started hitting on the real why’s:

·       Celebrating life moments (like weddings, anniversaries, special occasions, etc…)

·       Making memories

·       Retail Therapy (yes, it is a real thing)

·       Making a connection

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” – Simon Sinek

We articulated our culture around our why’s. Yes, you need to write it down. We used our why’s to recruit incredible talent. We didn’t recruit based on call center experience, but recruited people who could make instant or fast connections with our customers. We selected and leveraged technology that made it easy to make a connection and relate to customers. Our processes centered around making a connection, finding places to celebrate life moments, and budgeting for making memories.

The result was amazing and immediate. We launched their new customer service, and after the first month Stella Services™ rated them as the #2 eCommerce customer experience in the world. Not just other luxury brands, but we beat the Zappos, Amazons, LL Beans of the world. In our second month, we became the #1 brand among all brands. Since my project ended, they have remained in Stella Services™ top 10.

My rental car company forgot, lost, or never understood their WHY. They lost my business forever. My client who lives their WHY has beat their own high expectation eCommerce expectations every quarter since.  Find Your Why.


How do you value the Customer Experience Executive role?

captain of shipBy Larry Streeter on October 19, 2011

A week or so ago, I was having a conversation with the SVP of Customer Service for a well known SaaS software company when the conversation turned to determining what value a Customer Experience Officer role would bring to their organization.  This was a company that clearly gets the importance of the total customer experience, but had not quite reached a size where they felt a full time role was justified.

The conversation hounded me for days.  And as I thought about how a company justifies the creation of a full time customer experience executive position, these are the questions I imagine are often asked.

Q.  “We already measure Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter, isn’t that enough?”

Satisfying customers will always be important.  Think about it!  No customer becomes loyal without first being satisfied.   But Customer Satisfaction metrics only represent a customer’s opinion of you at that moment in time instead of looking at your entire body of work.  These metrics can often times be discrete measures of specific touch points, such as “how satisfied are you with our product” or “rate your satisfaction with our Knowledge Base”.  A customer may rate each of these isolated interactions high, but what if the experience of going from the product to the KB is kludge?

Remember, satisfied customers will always come back to see what you have to offer but also are just as likely to check out your competitor!  Building a complete customer experience that creates loyalty will keep them from shopping elsewhere!

Q.  “We already have someone responsible for User Experience.  Aren’t they one in the same?”

A User is just that: someone using your product or service.  A Customer is someone continuously evaluating you based on the total experience.

Not long ago I gave a presentation where I describe the overall Customer Experience as similar to being engaged.  Both represent:

  • a commitment to a long-term relationship,
  • being proactively involved in the relationship, and
  • having an emotionally, psychologically, and physically connection.

Someone using your product or service may like what’s right in front of them but not necessarily be committed to the long term.  Almost like “Yeah, he/she is fun to hang out with, but I wouldn’t bring them home to meet my parents”.  Someone in your organization needs to be looking at the total lifecycle of touch points your customers have with you, not just how to go seamlessly from screen to screen in your product.

Q.  “We’re already a customer-focused company from the top down.  What can an executive responsible for the Customer Experience offer?”

It’s hard to believe anyone would dispute the long-term value of a superior customer experience.  Many studies have been done quantifying increases in retention and revenue from companies that exhibit world-class effort on achieving an awe-inspiring customer experience.  But the ROI doesn’t have to take years to realize.  Making the leap to dedicate someone full time can bring immediate, short-term benefits companies often overlook.

Companies may have top-down commitment on being customer focused but is their alignment amongst the executives and senior managers on exactly what that means?  People may be working hard to build a great customer experience within their own silos but the glue that holds them all together is a well-defined customer experience roadmap.  With the input from others, a customer experience executive can bring exceptional focus to defining and shaping that roadmap and clarity and organization to achieving success.

Sustainability of customer experience improvement efforts is always a challenge.  Kick off meetings and initial efforts to begin making improvements can soon lose their momentum as people go begin slowly gravitating back to their day jobs.  Unfettered by anything else, the customer experience executive’s “day job” is just that: making sure the organization’s commitment to the roadmap remains top of mind.

And finally, there’s always the bottom line!  Accountability for defining and measuring results is often overlooked on cross-functional efforts to improve the total customer experience.  And while the customer experience executive can provide that single “ring-able neck” for the definition and reporting of customer experience improvements, it does not necessarily make them solely accountable for the results achieved.  In a company that defines themselves as “already focused on the customer experience from the top down”, everyone from the executives on down are responsible for the actual results!

Companies at the top of the lists for revenue growth and customer satisfaction already recognize the long-term value associated with a dedicated executive at the helm of the customer experience.  But they didn’t wait to achieve these results before bringing them aboard!  Can your company afford not to have someone with their “hands on the wheel” today?


Guest Writer: Larry Streeter

Larry Streeter is a contact center / customer experience executive with 20+ years experience building award-winning customer support organizations that drive customer long-term value through the contact center. 

His passion for delivering an extraordinary customer experience, building scalable infrastructure while increasing shareholder value, and developing top performing teams as well as future leaders has helped world-class companies achieve significant growth and customer satisfaction.

You can find Larry on Twitter @lstreeter01 & blogs at