Focus

17th January
2013
written by Michael Kanazawa

Fast Start

By Michael Kanazawa

The Wall Street Journal article about the NY Jets executive search for a new General Manager referenced a recent post by Ted Sundquist on his blog about what new NFL GMs should do in their first 30 days. He used a post I had written a few years ago with a framework and checklist for First 100 Days for New Leaders based on Big Ideas to Big Results. What Ted Sundquist did with the First 100 Days plan and translating it to his business context is a great example of how to apply these ideas. Take a look at Ted’s plan and how it compares to the original list and it will give you ideas on how to develop your own plan next time you take on a significant new leadership role.

With the renewed interest in the First 100 Days ideas, below is a repost of the original blog post and tips… (more…)

13th August
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

The 1963 split-window Corvette. Now THAT was a complete customer experience.

As General Motors continues to build back from it’s near collapse in 2009, customer experience is playing a more transformational role. Recently, Alicia Boler-Davis, VP of Customer Experience and Global Quality shared perspectives on the growing strategic importance of customer experience for GM.

In many companies pursuing a customer experience strategy tends to be too focused on an internal definition of the customer journey. Sometimes “quote to cash” becomes the primary view, where the view is that from beginning the sales process to collecting the cash is the full interaction of the company and it’s customers. In other cases, customer experience is equated to customer service, where the effort focuses just on post-sale support and service. There is nothing wrong with paying attention to these areas, but it misses the opportunity to truly build the business based on a complete set of ways that the customer experiences your company, which is about their total experience. (more…)

19th April
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

Customer Experience Transformation: Gold Service, Mobile Experience and Branded Signature Points

I have been, or should say had been, a long time loyal Hertz customer. It used to be that they were the only rental company that could provide preset documentation and agreements, had covered parking stalls for Gold customers and had the very innovative and high tech (for the 1990s) name boards. The name boards were a signature point experience that clearly reminded you how efficient Hertz was as a competitor and how personalized and streamlined they made the rental process for loyal customers. However, over time, the Gold experience became tarnished and made me feel like the premium I was paying to rent with Hertz was more like buying fools gold. The boards became very dated and clunky compared to the slick LCD displays of other information you would see in the airport, taking away from the high-tech, highly efficient brand signature point for Hertz.

Functionally, the boards began to run out of listing space, so if you’re like me, you may have stood in front of one of these leader boards late at night, in the cold, impatiently waiting for your name to scroll around and finally show up somewhere. The boards that once were signature point experiences became counter points, where they demonstrated that Hertz was dated, low-tech, and had a misperception of what being a Gold customer should represent. (more…)

21st February
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

Consistently delivering “a superior customer experience” represents a key part of American Airlines’ strategy as it works to become a “competitive, profitable and growing” business, CEO Tom Horton says. Pertinent to the passenger experience, American plans to modernize its brand, products and services “by investing several hundred million dollars per year in enhancements that will, once again, make American the premier airline of high-value customers”, says Horton.

As American Airlines drivers to regain financial strength and market leadership, it is clear that customer experience is a primary element of the corporate strategy. This is encouraging to see a CEO make such a clear statement about the scope and business value of customer experience initiatives. (more…)

21st February
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

BNET recently posted an article on Delta Airlines’ attempt to improve customer experience. Their solution…charm school. This would seem to be insulting to the majority of well intentioned customer facing employees at Delta and totally ineffective for those employees who don’t have good basic manners.

It is surprising to see such a major investment in this type of program. Something to keep in mind when building your customer experience strategy is that if your employees are not hired for specific traits, such as manners, service orientation, friendliness and caring, then no amount of initiatives and efforts to improve customer experience will work.

In addition, if you have good employees and your product, services and tools are not competitive, that can turn good attitudes into poor attitudes. The answer to fix this issue is not charm school. The answer is to invest in building a competitive company that your employees are proud to represent and are confident in their ability to provide great service to customers.

21st February
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

The company iRobot has done a great job of creating the market for consumer robotics solutions to help with routine tasks at home. The Director of Global Technical Support describes in the attached video how customer experience is the “new” brand. In other words, she clearly points out the concept of Brand Integrity and that Roomba is know for saving customers time. So, if that is the case, then technical support help needs to mirror that same value of saving customers time.

Too often you will see a mismatch between the brand promise and customer experience realities. For example, a broadband internet company that promises speed, may have a slow customer portal website with too many slow-loading Flash elements. This is what we would call a “counter point” where the experience directly contradicts the brand. Although these two areas are not always considered together in building strategies, customer experience and brand are inseparable and should be intentionally synchronized.

9th December
2011
written by Michael Kanazawa

Last month I delivered a keynote speech to a group of business leaders in Athens, Greece. The HMA had adopted the concept of replacing the old concept of trying to do “more with less” with the concept from our book, “doing more ON less.” I loved the signage for the event. The concept of “more with less” is completely overused and in crisis situations just results in lots of under-funded activities, diffused leadership attention and gridlock of any progress. Doing “More ON Less” is about reducing the focus to the highest impact activities, concentrating funding on those items and focusing leadership attention on just a big initiatives. Here is how the idea of transforming through “More ON Less” could be applied in Greece today. (more…)

17th June
2011
written by Michael Kanazawa

Very often I am asked, “do we really need ‘every’ department to participate in our customer experience initiative. My quick answer is usually, “if a department truly has zero impact on customers, then maybe they should be eliminated or outsourced.” Many times this drifts into a follow up question to test the edges, “…well, what about our legal department for example.” I’ve seen this too many times and have a great recent example to share with you on why even legal departments can make a huge difference in customer experience.

Recently while booking a business trip, I found a good deal on a flight on my normal carrier, which is United. After booking it, I realized that the return date may need to flex and was wondering what any change fees or penalties may be for this potential change. That’s when I was hit with this perfect “Counter Point” example where legal language makes all the difference in the customer experience. (more…)

7th May
2011
written by Michael Kanazawa

In our strategic transformation work we are often asked the question, “why should we limit ourselves to just three major initiatives?” Executive teams feel that a short list of initiatives is not a stretch for the organization or that it is too limited to create transformational change. The truth is that when it comes to execution, transformational change comes from making major progress on a small number of things. It is about stacking up the resources on the most high impact initiatives that will have meaningful impact on customer value and the customer experience.

Harvard Business Review just published research from Booz Allen & Company that was based on a broad executive study of 1800 global executives. Here are some of the highlights for you to consider and to use with your stakeholders and team to make the case for focus.

* Most executives (64%) report they have too many conflicting priorities.
* The majority of executives (56%) say that allocating resources in a way that really supports the strategy is a significant challenge, especially as companies chase a wide set of growth initiatives.
* 81% admit that their growth initiatives lead to waste, at least some of the time.
* Nearly half (47%) say their company’s way of creating value is not well understood by employees or customers. (more…)

1st February
2011
written by Michael Kanazawa

In the past five years or so, our transformation work is experiencing a major shift in how to generate the engagement and alignment of all employees in an organization. It is now more common that teams at all levels may not be co-located in a single office, people collaborate across global time zones, and we have learned how to develop social clusters of expertise that extend both through and beyond traditional organizational boundaries and connections. In this post are the beginnings of a list of solutions that are worth exploring. (more…)

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