Illustration in orange backdrop and white lettering. On the left, CMSWire Contributor Q&A With Ken Peterson and has Ken's headshot in black and white to the right.
Interview

CMSWire Contributor Q&A With Ken Peterson: Urban Legends of Customer Experience

10 minute read
Dom Nicastro avatar
CMSWire Managing Editor Dom Nicastro catches up with CMSWire Contributor Ken Peterson on his four urban legends of customer experience.

Folklore and urban legends arise when there's a a lack of information, and then, people being people, just fill in the gaps with their own information. And, voila! There you have it — the making of an urban legend.

The information gets passed along in the same manner as the old children's chain-of-transmission game called "Telephone," where one person whispers a word, let's say, "duck" into another person's ear, and the process continues down a line of players until you get to the last person, who then says the word out loud, which usually has undergone a transformation and ends up being something else, like "clock."

Not exactly the most accurate way to get your information, but it happens all the time.

In this Q&A, our CMSWire Contributor Ken Peterson, gets us straightened out on some customer experience urban legends. Peterson, president of customer experience with QuestionPro, wrote about this in his CMSWire piece, The Top 4 Urban Legends of Customer Experience. And we caught up with Ken for a video Q&A earlier in the year.

Check out the full transcript, edited for clarity:

Customer Experience Equals Customer Service — Not!

Dom Nicastro: Dom Nicastro here, managing editor of CMSWire with our latest CMSWire contributor. It's Ken Peterson, president of customer experience with QuestionPro. What's going on, Ken?

Ken Peterson: Not much? I'm good, how about you? 

Nicastro: It's great to be here with you. And I asked you before we hit the record button, if that's a real background because it looks super real. And I know you're in the land of paradise in Hawaii. 

Peterson: It is a real background. It's not real right now. But it is about four minutes away from me. And I figured I'd personalize my background with something that's really close. 

Nicastro: Yeah, it's, I'm in my own little paradise here, Ken. This is New England, and I'm in a coffee shop. And it's pouring raining out right now and freezing on this early spring day. 

Peterson: We're a little chilly here, too. 

Nicastro: So? Yeah, well, at least at least, I'm happy to be in a coffee shop. You know, this has been like a long time coming, and I work from home. And you know, to just to be out with like, strangers in a coffee shop with the background noise and the music going is like a good feeling. So, happy to have you as a CMSWire contributor, you've been with us now for quite a bit. And you know, looking at the story here today, you have some urban legends, a customer experience kind of things that CX pros kind of assume going into the whole practice customer experience. And let's talk about two of them, two out of the four. We'll let the readers read the other ones. One of them is, you know, customer experience equals customer service. Not quite. 

Peterson: Yeah, that's one of those. It sort of started with me, when I started getting, I used to get inquiries from sales reps, saying we know how to build your customer experience. And since you're in charge of customer experience, and then you start reading on it, it's like, well, they're talking about customer experience as, hey, we can do an outsourced call center for you. And it is part of the customer experience, there's no doubt about it. But the customer experience really goes from the point that a consumer becomes aware of your brand, right on to the point where you lose them, or they, you know, churn out of your product for whatever reason. I mean, certainly we don't all expect to use diapers for a — lifelong for our children, we hope and ...

Dom: We hope. At the end of the life, at the end of life, they come back.

Peterson: So when they turn 18 We hope that that's already out of that phase at that point. But we definitely, you know, the customer experiences every touchpoint every time they think about your brand along that path or have an interaction with your brand. And so that from a consumer standpoint, that's very broad. And from a business-to-business standpoint, it can be from purchase consideration, right through to, you know, getting that client, servicing that client — and even losing a client. 

Related Article: Is Your Voice of the Customer Program Silent?

Customer Experience — Not Just Surveys

Dom: And the other one is that customer experience just totally equals surveys, hey, we do surveys, we have a customer experience program, like we asked them how they felt about that transaction. And that is our CX program. Not quite either. 

Peterson: Yeah. And it's tough coming from someone who basically makes, you know, at the core of what we offer is surveys, but their customer experience is so much more than that. It's about offering that closed loop feedback. And, you know, we talk about closed loop feedback, usually very tightly in our industry about, hey, a customer complains, get back to them, offer them a coupon and make everything better. Well, that's great. I fully applaud that approach with everyone.

But I think, you know, it's also missing the idea that it also has to be strategic in nature, sometimes you have to look at those problems and say, you know, there's ways to eliminate these systemic issues that come up. I mean, you're, you're in a coffee shop, if they keep burning you with the coffee, like, you don't want you know, 100 customers complaining, hey, I got burnt by your coffee, you say okay, well, hey, look, this temperature is sitting here at 100. What it should be sitting at is 90, so let's fix that. 

Related Article: How Has Pandemic Thinking Affected VoC?

CX and Feeling the Pressure of Increasing Prices

Nicastro: Yeah, exactly. Well, this is a good little snapshot in your piece of some urban legends that customer experience professionals may have, and I get it, I get it. We hear a lot about surveys, we hear a lot about customer service, but those are like two parts of the equation and it makes perfect sense. Ken, we wanted to ask you, you know, kind of what you're following in 2022? You know, what do you think might give you some inspiration for some future columns in CMSWire? 

Peterson: Well, there's, there's a couple of key elements. Obviously, we can't get away from the fact that prices are increasing. But expectations are going to increase with that. I mean, that's, that's without a doubt something we're gonna watch and, you know, you go through these ups and peaks and valleys and ups and downs with regard to that. Sometimes prices matter when you're trying to understand the customer experience. Sometimes they don't.

Learning Opportunities

It's certainly going to matter and when you go to raise prices and just like anyone if we raise our prices, our customers, the first thing they say is, what am I getting out of it. So really understanding that balance, because we're all going to have to go through it. And we're all going to have to take part in it. And then a lot more of the other things that are, we're really looking at how, you know, I'll phrase it, you know, how delight impacts the customer experience, because we've spent, I mean, almost 20 years talking about NPS ,and we talk about promoters, passives and detractors, and some of the things that I focused on the last few years, so then, hey, these passives get forgotten.

We don't even include them in the computation. You got promoters minus detractors. You know, so we've been talking about that with regard to are they a churn risk, but then further is, is someone that's a promoter really delighted with your company? I mean, you could you know, my favorite story, you know, when you get man, we won't name the name of the company. But when you get their survey that says, would you recommend our operating system to your friends and family? Like, how many of us do that? 

Nicastro: Right? Is Uncle Bob and B2B manufacturing? Like, you know what I mean? Like, I totally get that. And it's context, it's context.

Peterson: It's context. So people are saying, oh yeah, I'm fine. And you know, there's, you know, if you go to the auto dealership, you get pressured to, you know, you better give me a 10 or I'm going to be fired, I'm gonna end up homeless, lose my wife, my kids, yeah, and be destitute on the street. And so, you know, are those nines and tens really delight? Or are we doing something to delight the customers?

And that's really, I'm working on that pretty extensively right now and understanding and researching, like, where do we draw that line? I mean, we have these hypothetical lines for passives, detractors and promoters, but there's also that level of those people that really will patronize your company, regardless, I mean, keep them and retain them because you've done something that just completely wowed them. And I mean, I have so many examples of companies that have done that, just in the little things they do every day, but they do it right, perfect.

Nicastro: Yeah, that's a great point, coming back, again, and again. And hopefully, it's not because they have to come back, like, i.e., cable industry, well it's not cable anymore, I should say internet WiFi industry. Yes, I have to come back to you guys every month. Absolutely. Hopefully, it's something that makes them want to come back, even if they don't have to. Go ahead again, one final point. 

Peterson: And we're calling it sort of the North Star of delight, you know, basically just something that pulls you in. I mean, imagine if, you know, my boss actually had an experience where they offered to let him pay for his oil change in crypto. 

Nicastro: Wow. Innovative.

Peterson: And he's like, that's innovative. And it's nothing that he would use necessarily right now at this point in time. But that innovation makes him think that, you know, hey, they're looking out for their customers. 

Nicastro: Yeah. And here's the big question, did they try to upsell them on cleaning the air filter, changing your lights and putting new brakes in and the windshield wipers left a streak, how about I throw those in. And all of a sudden it's a $350 oil change. 

Peterson: Hey, you've been there? 

Nicastro: Yeah, actually, I got one recently, and I said, you know, I'm trying to save a little bit. Can we do the lower level oil this time around? And they flat out said no. Like, your car requires the higher level. I didn't even look it up, Ken, I just wanted to get out of there. Go. Okay, whatever. But, Ken, it's been a lot of fun. We look forward to following you, Ken Peterson, QuestionPro. And hopefully some of the things you talked about can translate into some CMSWire articles. We'll be looking forward to that for our readers.

Peterson: Absolutely.

Nicastro: All right. Thanks, Ken, for joining us. Have a good one.

Peterson: You too.

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