Street signs with questions

    Words Matter.

    When I first started working (more than a few moons ago), my very first corporate job was in finance. I remember being so confused by all the financial terms. De minimus. APY. ETF. APR.

    I remember when we were creating all of our web pages while at Amex. We built a glossary for all the terms and acronyms for consumers to use. DB vs DC. 401(k) vs 403(b). A glossary!

    Then I went to health care. HSA. HRA. Deductible. Premium. Co-insurance. I’ll never forget arriving at Cigna in 2005 and being handed a 200+page acronym dictionary. No wonder people were confused!

    I learned early on that people really, truly thought that the health care industry purposefully tried to confuse them by using such complex language. And the more research I did, the more it seemed evident that that may be the case.

    It became very, very obvious to me that language mattered. From my first day at Definity Health back in 2001, I’ve worked to make it simpler for people to use and understand healthcare. I created and launched the award-winning “Words We Use” program at Cigna in 2005.

    Our learnings since then have led us to develop the “Let’s Be Clear” program. And we have helped many companies to launch it within their walls!

    Comic Strip

    I’ll tell you — there is still work to be done. But what I’ve learned can be applied to just about any communication — whether it be customer, board member, or employee. And it can be applied to any industry. Here are a few of our tips.

    1. More is almost never better. Ensure that your communication is clean, clear and to the point. That means fewer words, more bullets, and really, really concise information.
    2. Focus on one topic at a time – if you can. I know, I know, I know. Everyone wants to be able to pile on information into the piece you’re sending out. But let’s be honest. We know what is really valuable and we know what isn’t. Stand up and ensure that your communication brings value to your reader.
    3. Ensure that your communication has a call to action. Make it very clear exactly why you’re sending it and what your recipient is supposed to do. If you are just sending out an FYI, rethink it. People don’t generally need FYIs — they need to know what they have to do to respond. Find that call to action.
    4. Strive for a 5th or 6th grade reading level. This doesn’t mean your audience is stupid. It means that your job is to take your complex product or service offering and make it super, super easy to understand. And it means that we all skim. We are inundated with information, and I promise you, people spend their time reading and understanding the things that are really important to them. Everything else gets skimmed.
    5. Make it easy for your audience to know where to go if they have questions. Include phone numbers, email addresses, websites. But make sure you have multiple ways for someone to find out more/do the thing they need to do/ask a question. Trust me — ensuring that it is easy for your audience to do the thing that you’re asking them to do will only raise you in their esteem.

    We have a ton more tips over here at Chief Customer, and we love working with companies on simplifying communications, building their communications strategies, and a whole lot more. We’ve had incredible success installing our “Let’s Be Clear” communication strategy at numerous companies — and we’d love to help you!

    WholeFoods Prime Produce

    Mastering The Art Of Getting It Right

    Hold onto your horses (because there is no need to whip out a credit card) — Amazon Prime Day is almost here!

    In the Customer Experience world, companies are constantly striving to be “more like Amazon” or to “Amazonize” their product offers or customer focus. If you’ve ever heard me talk or read my blog, you know that I believe that you can’t “be” Amazon. They’re already taken and I don’t think Mr. Bezos is looking for a buyer …

    First, a few facts:

    The holiday that Amazon created, “Prime Day,” is just around the corner. Prime Day has only been in existence since 2015 — yet it has rocked the market.

    For instance, Black Friday (2017 Friday online-only sales of $7.9B, total sales of $682B) saw an increase in sales of 4 percent between 2016 and 2017. However, Prime Day saw a 60 — SIXTY!!! — percent increase between 2016 and 2017. No one else in this space can claim that.

    Let’s put that into perspective: If Amazon sees a 60 percent increases in Prime Day sales for 2018, and then again in 2019, that would put them at almost 10 percent of the sales across all retailers on Black Friday alone. And one percent of the total holiday spend. And this isn’t a Black Friday sale. This is a day that Amazon made up three years ago, claimed as their own, and is now so popular that it is being copied.

    Prime Day has had such an impact on retailers that many are jumping on the “Christmas in July” bandwagon “The number of retailers offering deals through RetailMeNot increased 340% last year, from 27 in 2016 to 119 in 2017.” And, we’re not just seeing offers increase — some retailers are making up their own versions of Prime Day.

    I personally love the riff from Sur La Table — their “Lime Day” happened on July 9.

    Sur La Table Lime Day

    And you all know how much I love pineapples …

    Sur La Table Pineapple

    With all of this excitement and fingers on the keyboard, ready to buy, there are a few things we can learn from what Amazon has done. They’re focusing on the three most important things to measure: helpfulness, ease, and enjoyability.

    1. They’re maximizing all of their channels to ensure helpfulness. As so many retailers shutter their storefronts, Amazon keeps opening their own. Whether Amazon Books or Whole Foods stores, Amazon is not only focused on digital. They understand the importance of having that face-to-face interaction option with their customers, when their customers want that channel. Not only are they meeting people where they want to be met, they are going to have an impact on grocers this year with what appears to be a whole new slew of deals at Whole Foods, and an extra 10 percent off sale items for Amazon Prime members.

    2. They understand how to make it easy for you. Prime Day means deep discounts on even more ways to interact with Amazon that can make your life easier. The newest Alexa devices feature video screens. With Amazon’s acquisition of Ring security, Prime members can not only seamlessly stream audio and video content from Amazon and see the recipes they ask Alexa for — they can check their security cameras, too. All from one location, with one device. And shoot, when you realize that you’re out of toilet paper, you can still ask Alexa to buy it for you.

    3. They know how to make shopping online enjoyable. They have mastered the art of exclusivity. We all love to feel like we’re getting secret access — or that we found something before the rest of our circle did. Well, Amazon nails this. They use Prime Day to launch exclusive new products from their partners, in limited quantities, to Prime Members. Need a faucet you can talk to? Or the new Fingerling Unicorn that lights up? Well, only you can get it. And only on Prime Day. And only if you’re a Prime Member. Feel special yet? They’ve mastered it.

    Work from home on Monday, because you may be spending more time on Amazon than you do working. Good luck and happy finds!

    Elegance of Simplicity

    Hello CX Peeps!


    I’ve just returned from a trip to Singapore where I was lucky enough to get to do some significant design work with a client.


    For those of you have been a part of my CX peeps world for a while, you know that even though I’ve led CX efforts for years, my heart truly still loves where I started — on the design side. Read More From The Chief Customer

    Haunted House of Customer Experience Horrors!

    Waaaay back in a galaxy far, far away, I was just learning how to really change cultures into customer centric ones. And I’m talking about doing more than writing a new mission statement. (Don’t get me wrong, that’s a very important step, but only one step in a Culture Roadmap.)

    We had a great customer experience strategy, we had a great mission and vision. We knew what our priorities were. We had executive support. We’d rolled out Guiding Principles and new language guidelines. I’d gone out on a roadshow and talked to every single employee about the fact that we had to make a change. Still – we had a problem. Read More From The Chief Customer

    Customer Experience Execs In HealthCare – It Is Time To Do Something Bold

    A few days ago, I was at AHIP Institute in Las Vegas. For those of you who aren’t familiar with AHIP, it is one of the largest gatherings of health insurers. AHIP is a place that I hold dear in my heart. It was the first platform in healthcare that I was given to talk about Customer Experience. As a matter of fact, I’ve been speaking at every AHIP since 2007 on this topic.  In 2015, I did a look back on the many changes I’ve seen in the dialogue. Read More From The Chief Customer

    An Open Letter to Health Plans

    Every time I turn around, there is another person who is complaining to me about the customer experience in the health care system. As soon as they hear that I’ve worked for and am working with health care plans, they are so willing to share their stories with me. I get it, and I appreciate their frustration, so I thought I’d write a letter to the health plans.

    These three issues are the three I hear time and time again.  Read More From The Chief Customer

    No Culture, No Customer

    How many times have you seen the quote “Culture eats strategy for lunch” (or breakfast, as the original Peter Drucker quote reads)?

    I’ve seen it everywhere for years. On more presentations that I care to remember, on more blog posts that I care to admit I’ve read. It seems to be the rally cry to get people to understand that culture is important. The genesis of the quote is much more interesting to me though.  Read More From The Chief Customer

    Do You Have Lost Luggage? Metrics that Matter.

    Almost every firm that I walk into has a balanced scorecard where they are measuring hundreds of micro metrics. Many of them also have a macro metric that sits above all that they do – think NPS, Customer Satisfaction. The problem with both of these scenarios is that most of the time, neither of them actually afford the organization a view into what really is happening with their customer base. Read More From The Chief Customer

    The Fifth Step to Building a Customer Experience Strategy – Get CEO Buy In

    In this series, I’ll be talking about the 5 steps to building a differentiating customer experience strategy. The Customer Experience Strategy is a part of the Competency pillar within the Three Cs Framework I introduced in 2010 – Competency, Credibility and Culture.

    The 5 steps to building a customer experience strategy.

    Step 1: Understand Corporate Strategy

    Step 2: Who are you as a company?

    Step 3: What do your customers want?

    Step 4: Redefine your mission statement

    Step 5: Get CEO Buy In

     After you’ve done this, start to id your holes. Read More From The Chief Customer

    The Fourth Step to Building a Customer Experience Strategy – Redefine Your Mission Statement

    In this series, I’ll be talking about the 5 steps to building a differentiating customer experience strategy. The Customer Experience Strategy is a part of the Competency pillar within the Three Cs Framework I introduced in 2010 – Competency, Credibility and Culture.

    The 5 steps to building a customer experience strategy.

    Step 1: Understand Corporate Strategy

    Step 2: Who are you as a company?

    Step 3: What do your customers want?

    Step 4: Redefine your mission statement

    Step 5: Get CEO Buy In

    After you’ve done this, start to id your holes.

     Mission. Vision. Value. Purpose. Many times these words are used interchangeably to describe the same thing. The big thing. The thing that is supposed to drive you in your decisions every day. The thing that is supposed to align the company. Read More From The Chief Customer

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