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Empathy for the Customer is the Biggest Challenge

Metrics are not people. The greatest weakness most web teams have is a lack of empathy for their customers.

While task performance scores provide the logical, rational and statistical evidence of issues for the Cisco Support team, it is often the videos that pack the punch with management and ultimately drive insights into action.

The video is the only artifact I have seen capable of creating empathy for the customer,” Bill Skeet, senior manager of Customer Experience for Cisco Digital Support states. “Watching and hearing a real user struggle with the website creates a connection. People who were previously reserved and detached from the customer can become catalysts for change.” 

Video is an empathy driver, but it requires careful editing. Very few people will watch a 60 minute test session. But if you carefully select the critical failure points and keep it under three minutes, that sort of video can be viewed throughout the organization (including by senior management). What we often do is highlight a particular failure point or problem area and then show three or four test participants failing at that same point. Bring it all together into a single video, ask people to watch it and explain: "This is systematic. It’s happening to thousands of your customers every day." If there's anything that can motivate an organization to become more customer-centric, it's a well-edited video. 

One of the reasons the Cisco support team can do a good job is because Cisco’s management is engaged and on board. “Customer success is not only a personal passion of mine, but our first priority as a company,” John Chambers, CEO of Cisco has stated. “No matter how good we are, the one thing that can bring us down is getting too far away from our customers.” To this end, Cisco has initiated a major initiative called "Ease of Doing Business." It is this sort of senior management engagement and commitment that allows a genuine customer-centric culture to be maintained.

The results for the top tasks approach are measured based on whether these tasks are easier and faster for customers to do. It is a truly customer-centric approach. And this is certainly the case when it comes to the number one top task for Cisco customers, Download Software. Back in 2010 when the testing started, a typical software download could involve an enormous and complicated 15-step process and an average of 280 seconds to complete. Now, the software downloads task can be completed in four steps and about 50 seconds. Similar positive results are happening with many more of the top tasks.

For example, as Skeet states,

Our registration tasks are improving because we now have teams engaged on the issues. Finally, we have made improvements to search, guided by TPI research. This has led to better scores on most of our tasks that require content to be found.”

Martin Hardee, Director for Cisco.com, cites an example of the password reset process. In 2011, it had a failure rate of 37 percent. Some initial work reduced the failure rate to 23 percent. “These were sometimes complex systems, and implementing further improvements,” Martin explains, “required coordinated effort from multiple IT teams, usability and experience design people, and even content editors.” When the task performance tests were run in December of 2013, there was a 100 percent success rate.

About the Author

Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994. His latest book is titled The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online.

 
 
 
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