Business Design. Evolved.

Category: Strategy

Next level customer experience – A case study for the new CXO

While rummaging my hard drive basement last night, I ran across the start of a case study I was developing to accelerate results from implementing a customer experience program.  At the time I was working with a few mid-size banks that were measuring customer experience but had not yet figured out – so now what do I do?  This draft is a start at that case study…

Oh, and since that time I have really been focused on adding more critical thinking about employee engagement and stakeholder engagement.

The Next Level of CX by Rick Otero

Have fun!


PS.  Call me or hire me if you need help.

Four Premises about Growth – From Charlie Krone’s All in a Business Family

Charlie Krone and Growth

Often, in order to move forward, one must break long-held patterns and beliefs. Growth, and how we perceive that a business grows, is one such belief/pattern area.

Back when I was the Transformation leader for DuPont Nylon, Charlie Krone presented our team four premises about growth, which were integrated into our “Generation” project (which led to our going from 20% global market share back to 27% market share in the mid 90’s). The principles have held up well over time.

1. The pursuit of growth and evolution is essential to the perpetuation of the state of existence that a value adding process can provide its stakeholder constituencies. For a school the value adding process might be curriculum and teaching methods with the outcome metric based on development of a student. Pursuit is about the ongoing dynamic change to continually push the edge of collective vision. An underlying concept is also that a value-adding process must be steady-state to evolve, or in the negative – an organization can go into turmoil as complexities of growth work are added.

2. Growth should be a vehicle for differentiating the product offering of each value adding process, implying that each value adding process should be distinctively able to support particular market spaces or segments. This is tough work. All too often the commodity effect settles into a organization pattern to “maintain” and “be cheap enough” and “just good enough”. Bring forth a new “distinctive” and organizing to be “differentiating” requires critical thinking about evolving both value adding processes and the people that execute those processes. Distinctive is about bringing forth an offering value that is differentiable from current and future competitive offerings and that will be of a higher order in that marketplace. Often the work of growth is about redefining the market space (aka segment) and driving for deep customer understanding in order to reposition a current offering or pursue a new offering.


3. When thinking about growth an important critical thinking shift is “better” over “bigger”. Healthy margin growth is a function of clearly being better driving BOTH margin and growth.

How? Perhaps through focusing on:

  • a more perfect product (perfecting ahead of the competition vs waiting for the absolute perfect product);
  • a product that integrates more effectively with the value adding processes of the customer and industry;
  • a product the BEST matches the discriminating judgments applied by the decision makers and stakeholders in the market space you are targeting;
  • a product that establishes the best harmony with what the stakeholders are seeking to accomplish.

Each of the four points is an imaginary growth level to cross… the more perfect offering; that better integrates with the customer’s value adding process; that creates distinction within the marketplace; and wins superior approval and acceptance from all stakeholders.

Think about how Apple responded when there were stakeholder concerns about the quality of life issues from society stakeholders regarding their contract Chinese labor practices. The reason that Apple could respond with credibility is the the other three levels were “crossed”.

4. Creative thinking about growth involves creating a vision of an offering and/or its value adding process that has greater potential. Then execute that vision by translating it back into virtues and qualities that need to be brought forth; implications to changes in your value adding processes and those of your customers; and implications in “being” and changes in “being”. Most of this reverse engineering is the hard work – making the possibility real – and requires a different mental energy from the day-to-day organization. “Being” and changes in “being” relate to the spirit and level of energy from your stakeholders – and while concepts of branding and marketing can enable the perception escalation in that regard – the “core” of offering, value adding process, and most importantly – the people executing to deliver that new offering and process need to be choreographed

All this is leading to expand my thinking from customer experience as a singular pathway to growth to thinking more broadly in the context of stakeholder engagement.

Ready to grow?



PS.  Charlie – we miss you!

Often when I am conducting a workshop I often need to reframe how people think… is what you perceive reality?


Brand to Stakeholder Engagement – the DDO Brand Model

Written in 2012….

A while back I designed a customer experience training program for the Banking Administration Institute called “Moments that Matter”.  Unfortunately I had to simplify the bigger MOM in order to focus on the critical few topics that newbies in customer experience management have to work through.

The core topics I focused on started with the net promoter score and how, when used as a system, it really is a catalyst for getting your company culture more focused on the customers. Seriously, how much is easier is it to get employees focused on “being the best at creating promoters” rather than “drive top 2 box from 53% to 57%”?

The second topic is using the service profit chain as an enterprise backbone to better connect customers through employees and the supporting people, practices, business processes, and technology systems.

The third topic is maximizing the use of SERVQUAL to connect capability to deliver with customer promises.

Last but not least is to walk through the series of steps in implementation to take a customer experience concept and execute it in an effective and profitable way (a special thanks to Joe Wheeler and the folks at Service Profit Chain Institute for helping me get better at that this past year).

However, one element of what I did not include was the brand to customer promises section.  A customer experience transformation often is the outcome of either a “bottoms up” or “top down” direction.  A “bottoms up” is usually when NPS detractors are being formed en mass at multiple customer touch points or by a rapidly escalating detractor event (look at Target’s rapid service recovery due the Missoni online gold rush as an example of what to do right vs. Sony’s online downtime or slower erosion of the promise.

One “bottoms up” erosion example I went through recently was the deterioration of service on the Verizon system in the NYC metro area during the recent “strike”(2012). First, we saw significant deterioration in FIOS bandwidth and performance to the point where we gave up making critical calls on the FIOS land line and resorted to critical calls using AT&T mobility, which surprisingly has made dramatic improvements in the NYC area. We called Verizon customer service on three occasions and had them come out – all to no avail.   Now who can do the “can you hear me now” commercial – not FIOS.

Another example I live through on almost a weekly basis (when I was teaching at ATT leadership institute) is the subpar first class service on US Air when I go to Dallas – chips and attitude – versus the surprisingly delightful and friendly real first class service on American to Dallas (pre-merger!) – hot meal and honest caring – and shock, smiles!  I’ve started to shift the majority of my business over to American as a result (for the record I fly coach and get upgraded due to points status).  The “top down” approach is much more challenging. This often occurs when a CEO makes a statement like, “How do we make Brooks Brothers brand more relevant in a younger demographic?” or “What do we need to do to instill trust in the Bank of America brand?”.

These are big meaty brand to customer experience delivery overhauls.  The challenge is “brand” means so many things to many people. What does brand mean to you?

My interpretation of brand is really more from an enterprise and systems thinking point-of-view and best demonstrated in a brand framework developed by  Dubberly Design Office (DDO).  At the time I was Director of Top Line Growth at DuPont and one of my projects was applying brand to a commodity Nylon 12 product. It was my proof case of our business team creating a boutique brand in a commodity business. The leadership team – marketing through ops – used the framework to design transformation objectives and created a brand blueprint and action plan that had a dozen major changes ranging from a new brand tag line and logo to changing our B2B service delivery and support.  The result – triple digit marketing ROI.  The framework is comprehensive.

Of course, perception of a brand does not arise on its own, rather, it grows out of experience with a product. Here, product is used in a broad sense incorporating the results of many activities commonly associated with marketing. Likewise, experience means here any point at which contact is made with a potential customer

Try this…. Print out a copy of the framework and ask three C level executives (CMO, CFO, COO) the following questions:

  • What does brand mean to you? Circle the areas they touch upon on the framework.
  • Who owns the elements of brand based on (1)? Write down the names or functions
  • Are we missing anything in how we translate brand into action? Listen and learn.

Let me know how it goes and then ask yourself this question. If you really want to translate brand into customer promises and consistent delivery of those promises, what do you need to differently?

I’d love to hear about any frameworks you may be using and if you run the three question test how it goes.

Good luck!

Oh…check out all the concept maps at the Dubberly Web site… talk about “pay it forward”.

Well done DDO!

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