Monday, July 12, 2021

Customer Service, Customer Experience, and Customer Success

Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, customer experience, and leadership experts. One of these experts is Tony Bodoh, who I met on Twitter. We recently had a discussion about customer experience marketing and its impact on the overall brand experience, and highlights of our conversation follow Tony’s introduction.

Tony Bodoh is the CEO of Tony Bodoh International (TBI), a customer experience consultancy. TBI focuses on applying the science of human experience to deepen the customer relationships that build brands and grow businesses. Recently, he joined the marketing agency, DiMassimo Goldstein as their Senior Behavior Change Strategist (contract). Tony is a speaker, podcaster, and co-author of three #1 Best Selling books. In 2018, Tony was named one of the “Top Customer Service Movers and Shakers You Should Follow” by the Miller Heiman Group based in the UK. Check out his website at:; his LinkedIn profile at; Facebook page at; Instagram @TonyBodoh; and Twitter @TonyBodoh.

QUESTION: How do you differentiate between customer service and customer

TONY BODOH: Customer service focuses on delivering or fulfilling promises made in a brand’s marketing. It often involves helping the customer onboard, resolve issues, and is usually done in a reactive manner. Self-service is replacing some human-to-human contact but there is a continued desire for human connection, especially where the issue may be somewhat complex.

Customer experience focuses on staging an environment to stimulate a memorable positive emotion. This can include the design of the product, policies, processes, procedures, and training of employees at each customer touchpoint. Technology enables the creation of the environment, but too often becomes the center of customer experience design. Experience is fundamentally human.

I would like to offer an additional consideration: Customer Success. Customer success focuses on transformation of the customer. Here, companies identify the customer’s aspirations for identity and achievement. Then, they proactively work with the customer to help her realize her aspirations. Customer success uses the tools of customer service and customer experience to evoke transformation in the customer, rather than these tools being the end or goal themselves.

TWEET THIS: Customer success uses the tools of customer service and customer experience to evoke transformation in the customer. ~@TonyBodoh #CX #brandexperience

QUESTION: According to Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Have you ever had an experience that began horribly and ended by your becoming a happy advocate for the brand?
TONY BODOH: I have had a few. I think what really made the difference in these cases was that I trusted the brand because of the personal referral I was given or because of the overwhelming number of positive reviews I saw online. This helped me pause my emotional reactions long enough to recognize the person on the other end of the phone or desk may just be having a bad day or she might be new to the job, etc. With that in mind, I calmed down and reassured the employee that I was sure that the challenge was not their fault, and then we focused on finding out who could help solve my problem and what my options were.

As consumers, we need to remember that, like us, the employees we talk to are under tremendous pressures at work and at home these days. Often, when the customer displays some empathy for the employee and takes responsibility for their own reactions, it can change the whole situation. Everyone wins.

It is important for leaders to realize that customer satisfaction is not to be sought at the expense of an employee’s mental and emotional well-being. Some customers are just angry, manipulative, and narcissistic. Leaders must protect their employees from these types of customers even if it means that their satisfaction scores take a momentary hit.

QUESTION: What customer experience metric should every brand use, and why?
TONY BODOH: I don’t think there is one standard metric that works for every brand. It really depends on the stage of maturity of the company. I typically recommend to my clients that they focus on capturing an experience rating, a value rating, and gathering open-ended comments from customers about their experience. The metrics can answer “What” questions. The comments explain the “Why” of the metric.

Once we have this data, I encourage my clients to segment it in a three dimensional matrix that involves slices of a third metric that is appropriate to their stage of company growth like retention, profitability, or life-time value. We plot the average experience and value scores and note the most common themes from the comments for each segment on a series of maps. One map might show what the most profitable 10% of customers are saying and their average rating. Another map might show what the least profitable 10% of customers are saying and how they rated the experience and value. While it is more complex than having one metric, it can very quickly give leaders the answers they need to make good decisions and take immediate action.

TWEET THIS: There is not one standard #CX metric that works for every brand. It really depends on the stage of maturity of the company. ~@TonyBodoh #brandexperience

QUESTION: To quote Denise Lee Yohn (@deniseleeyohn on Twitter), author and speaker, “Teach employees to love bringing their brand to life for customers.” Additionally, to quote, Bruce Jones (@Joneseybi), Senior Programming Director of Disney Institute in Florida, “When a service failure occurs, it’s essential to resolve the issue quickly. With tens of thousands of visitors each day to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts around the world, we recognize that issues will occasionally come up. Therefore, it’s essential that employees are equipped with the tools to enable them to quickly resolve as many issues as possible on their own. At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, customers discover that everyone is the right person when it comes to providing speedy service recovery.” Therefore, how do you train employees to provide excellent customer service?
TONY BODOH: I am going to assume here that the brand’s customer service team has the tools to resolve the problems that arise and that they have been sufficiently trained on how to use these tools. That is the foundation that the brand absolutely needs. If a client does not have these in place, that is where I tell them to start.

After the foundation is set, I then recommend a mental performance training program. In 2014, I partnered with Dave Austin, one of the top mental performance coaches in the world. I have adapted the practices he uses to train Olympians, pro athletes, and even the U.S. Military to focus and perform in a peak mental and emotional state when under intense pressure. The training we provide helps customer service professionals build their emotional resilience and mental focus. As a result, they can diagnose problems faster, provide more effective solutions, and keep the experience a positive one for the customer.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite customer service story?
TONY BODOH: One of my favorite customer service stories goes back to 2008 when I managed customer experience for the Gaylord Hotels brand. I was examining the data from Gaylord Palms and noted that nearly every guest who attended a specific convention filled out the survey and something like 97% of them gave top box ratings. While we had great scores as a brand, this was an outlier. I called Franz Krieger, who was the Director of Operational Excellence at the resort, and I asked him if he knew how they achieved this.

He told me that they conducted an experiment. The night before every guest from the convention was scheduled to leave, they had a STAR (what Gaylord employees were called) telephone the room. If the guest was there the STAR confirmed their departure, asked how their stay was, and then asked if there was anything else they could do to make the last few hours of their stay even better.

This proactive action delighted the guests and they felt compelled to respond to the survey they received after departure in a very positive way. What I loved about this was the creativity of Franz and his team and that they found a way to leverage the science of Peak-End Effect to create a lasting positive memory for these guests. It was easy, relatively inexpensive, and impactful.

QUESTION: If you could be the Chief Customer Officer for any brand, which would it
be, and why?

TONY BODOH: I have not really considered a specific brand, but I do know some of the criteria I would look for. First, it would be a direct to consumer brand so I can have an impact on the lives of the customers. Secondly, the company would be preparing for hyper-growth and ready to create the brand experience that customers will admire and feel compelled to share. Thirdly, the brand would be applying technology in a disruptive way with a focus on transforming the customer’s life through positive behavior change.

I believe a company that meets these three criteria would give me the platform to really change lives and demonstrate how brands can help customers successfully take on new identities and world views that benefit society as a whole. I believe a company like this could have profound ripple effects that not only impact the present moment, but as lives are changed, they will alter the trajectory of human history. That would be a company worth working for.

My thanks to Tony for appearing here on my Blog and for sharing useful take-aways for all brands to improve their customer experiences.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

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