General

11th December
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa


There are moments in time where industry leaders step out and make personal commitments and a call to action for a new future. If you haven’t yet fully understood the “Internet of Things” as the next wave beyond the “Internet of Content” it is time to step up and see what is going on around you. The Internet of Things is the description of the future when just about every piece of industrial equipment, vehicle, consumer product and appliance will be networked and made “intelligent.” Before you write it off as a joke that your Prius will have it’s own Facebook page, pay attention.

At TM Forum’s Management World Americas conference in Orlando last week, I delivered a presentation on how to spark innovation in this area. In doing the research, I couldn’t help but see the exact parallels to the first wave of the internet and how even very large, branded companies wiped out on that technology wave, such as Borders, Blockbuster and Kodak.

Microsoft could have gone the same way, but in May 1995 Bill Gates wrote a memo to his leadership team titled, “The Internet Tidal Wave”.

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6th November
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

(click for full size reference)

How will you leverage social and mobile in your strategic plans? Some of the impact is here today and it will only grow in importance. Similar to the web being viewed early as a glorified company brochure, social and mobile are at times being considered only marketing and PR vehicles. That’s today’s reality. Tomorrow’s future will require leveraging of social and mobile in new ways and the companies who take advantage of those innovations first, will profit most. As you build your 2013 strategies, answer the question, “what will you do with these technologies to revolutionize your business? (more…)

6th November
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

A recent Forrester survey identified that 70% of CIOs put the ability to measure IT’s impact on business performance as a high or critical priority. The report goes on to discuss the need for not just new online reporting tools, but rather calls for a transformation in how IT operates within the business. The core is a mindset and capabilities shift that puts IT right at the center of innovating customer experiences.

Who ever said that every other department in a company is “the business” and IT is something separate? Perhaps in the very early days of computer systems this was the case when computers were not so intertwined with daily operations. However, today, IT systems in many cases are the the business, the product, the service. Beyond obvious examples of online retailers, think about the systems FedEx uses to allow immediate tracking of a package anywhere in their network. Ford and BMW both are running TV ads where navigation and entertainment systems are featured as much as traditional product comparisons such as performance, reliability or safety. (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…)

13th August
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

One of the most important shifts recently in the software industry has been the move towards cloud services. What this means is that instead of buying software and loading it on your computer, you pay to use software that is housed somewhere else and runs remotely. In essence it is renting the software capability rather than buying. As this shift begins to shape the strategies of traditional software companies making the move into cloud services, executives are realizing how significantly business models and operating models need to change to be successful in this new world. It is a complete customer experience transformation that is required to win. Some companies are making the shift while others remain too deeply rooted in the old models to win in the new markets. This post outlines two critical tips to launching the cloud services transformation journey.

Jim Steele, Chief Customer Officer at Salesforce.com, the market leader in cloud services, recently shared his insights with Executive Conversation. His shared wisdom highlights the required elements for transforming the traditional software business approach to succeed in cloud services. These concepts should be required reading for board members and managers at software companies to begin reshaping how the company runs and the metrics of success that truly matter in cloud services, which are completely different than traditional software companies. (more…)

4th August
2012
written by Michael Kanazawa

The results of a Customer Experience Transformation should look simple, to the customer. However, the process and tools are not as simplistic as a single metric, tool or platitude of “putting the customer at the center.”  The good news is that there is a series of specific steps you can take to generate the breakthrough results you desire

This past week I had the pleasure of being asked to co-host a webinar about how B2B businesses can take corporate level initiatives on customer experience and turn those into sales and profit improvements on the front lines of business. The CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association) is the leading organization in the field of customer experience. My interest has been in learning and contributing around the areas of using a customer experience view to develop corporate strategy and lead transformations that can change the results trajectory of companies, growing revenue and increasing earnings.

If you are a member, you can listen to a replay of the webinar, which features the head of Offshore Pipeline Solutions at TD Williamson. We share a set of three tools and describe how those have been used at TDW to more deeply understand customer needs, develop a focused growth strategy and product/service roadmap and engage the full organization in aligning to execute an improved customer experience. The process and tools are outlined below. In the webinar we walk through each of these elements in some detail.

For those who are not CXPA members, but would like more information, I’ll take some time in the next month or so to do a short post on each of these tools and the overall Customer Experience Transformation Process. We’ve been working with companies in cloud services, energy services, healthcare and financial services who have been able to design and execute shifts in their strategies that have produced some great results and I’d like to share these capabilities more broadly.

If you are not a CXPA member, you should consider joining. I am a member of our education committee and in addition to this webinar I just conducted, there are many others with great perspectives and experiences that are being shared by corporate leaders and consulting experts.

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

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…)

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