At this year’s Ticketing Professionals Conference, one of the stand-out sessions was the opening keynote from Bill Hogg on organization culture and how to deliver a great customer experience. This was truly music to our ears as great customer experience is one of the many business results enabled by Activity Stream. So we just couldn’t resist asking Bill to sit down with us for an in-depth conversation on one of our all-time favorite topics. Being quite a customer engagement enthusiast himself, Bill, who for 30 years has been helping people responsible for some of the world’s most recognized brands to change, agreed to an interview-style conversation with Martin Gammeltoft. Here’s how that went…

Everyone who’s ever heard you present knows that you feel strongly about good customer experience and enabling the organization to actually deliver it. What would you say is the most important factor when trying to improve customer experience?

Exceptional customer experience must be at the forefront of the daily conversation by the leadership of the organization. When that happens, it is embedded into the organization starting with the strategic blueprint – the overall critical success facts and measures that determine success in the organization. It then becomes central to all processes that are set up to interact with customers. In a live event, this could be ticket sales, greeting at a venue or follow-up after an event.

When I assess any organization, one of the first things I look for is how customer experience is communicated within the strategic plan. Is it part of the overall objectives of the organization at the highest level? Have clear CX measures been established within personal performance plans that link success to the customer experience? Then I look to see how these overall principles are cascading down into the customer-facing processes.”

Conversely, what do you see as the typical mistakes?

When customer experience is simply a talking point but not embedded into the strategic blueprint, it becomes easy to make decisions that favor other aspects of the business that drive success at the expense of customers. By not including measures into the Performance Plans, it takes the focus elsewhere and expediency or cost savings take precedence over customer experience. There is the inherent cost of providing an exceptional customer experience – but the ROI makes it a good business decision.”

As you know, the Activity Stream team works to enable organizations to spot when specific customer moments are possible – circumstances when customers can be ‘wowed’, as you’ve also described it. It could be a high-value customer returning after a long absence, or someone repeatedly traveling far to come to the venue. What is your experience with organizations working to set up individual moments – what are the results?

The first thing we must understand is that we can’t “wow” everyone — but we can deliver a branded customer experience every time by establishing and consistently executing a service experience that reflects our brand. This comes when we build a strong process that is tuned to the customer’s needs and we make sure our teams are alert for opportunities and have the ability to “wow” a customer when the opportunity presents itself. These situations become the stories that inform and inspire your team of what exceptional looks/feels like and builds your brand reputation with current and potential customers.

The downfall of many organizations is they are not intentional in their search for “wow” opportunities. They assume they will be leveraged, when in fact they are often missed. Building a process into your customer experience process mapping by using some of the technology that is available make this easier. For example, if you know information like birthdates, travel distance, special occasion, purchase habits and intentionally use this information to enhance the customer experience it can create “wow” moments is very little cost or effort. A simple card/note or follow-up call can create a lasting impression that will build loyalty and turn a customer into an ambassador for life.”

Personally, I believe that customer moments have an effect both on customers and internally, potentially motivating employees to do more – a virtuous cycle if you will. Have you seen examples of this?

Recognition is the “Performance Excelerator™”. People feel positive when they are properly recognized for doing good work. When team members are recognized for creating “wow” moments, they naturally look for opportunities to create more. And other team members see what activities result in recognition and they also want to be recognized. When your recognition program is properly aligned with your strategic plan that embeds the customer experience at the highest level and is built into performance planning, then your team is focused on the right activities to create exceptional customer experiences — that drive business results.”

If an organization just decided to start acting on customer moments – how to get started? How do you take those first steps?

I’d start by looking at your strategic blueprint. How is the customer experience embedded into your vision, mission, values, and critical success factors (measures)? Then, how does it get woven throughout the entire plan? If your Customer Experience is a separate element of your plan, then other parts of the organization may be working at cross purposes based on their own performance plans. You need to start at the top and them see how the CX cascades down through the plan and specific tactics.

Many organizations fail when they move from strategy to tactical implementation and have a “hope and pray” approach. Building tactical process maps that highlight specific steps and what information to gather to create “wow” moments is an important first step. Using the systems and technology that is available allows organizations to unearth and leverage information and use it in an intentional manner versus hoping your team spots the opportunities when they arise.”

One of the key aspects of the Activity Stream AI-based system is the Customer Engagement functionality enabling the continuous discovery of customer moments opportunities. Feel free to get in touch to learn more.