Apps, culture and customer journeys


Photocredit: Personal

Photocredit: Personal

It is too dark in this office.

I have an app to measure the lumen.

Feel a little bit stressed.

There is an app for that.

My blood pressure is too high

There is an app for that.

May be a resolution for 2015 might be to consider how apps are supporting your customer journey. And even more import, how to include this opportunity in your customer service operations


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What Every Traveler Needs To Know About Customer Service This Summer

Bio: Amy Clark is the lead author and editor of two customer service blogs – I Want It Now, which examines the era of instant gratification, and  Self Service Central, which provides her thoughts on how best to help customers assist themselves online . She also serves as Customer Success Director at WalkMe.

The days are longer, the air is warmer and, everyone is looking to take advantage of the summer.

One of the busiest vacation times of the year, travelers across the globe are packing up and heading out in search of a little rest and relaxation. After one of the coldest winters on record in the US, it comes with no surprise that the demand for summer travel has increased substantially from the year before. Whether they are traveling by plane, train, boat or car, the journey to paradise can be hectic for both novice and experienced travelers.

There is always a chance that something can go wrong.


Nothing can dampen a vacation like stress and tension; therefore, it is imperative for companies to step in and help stop these problems before they happen. While in the digital age, travel booking has increasingly taken on a “do-it-yourself” fashion, with airline and hotel websites such as Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, among others, providing an avenue for self-service, there is still a significant role that travel and tourism service providers must place in providing an easy customer experience.

Effective customer service is an immensely important aspect of the travel industry, as it can truly determine whether customers will begin their vacation with either a smile or a frown on their face, and whether they will stay loyal to the company for future vacations.

With that in mind, we have compiled a list of tips every customer needs to know about customer service when travelling by air, car or train this summer.

  • Air Travel

In recent years, airlines have used technology to effectively communicate with consumers and ultimately improve their customer service initiatives.

Alan Bender from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University agrees with this notion by stating,

“Airlines are now totally proactive instead of being essentially reactive” .

In being proactive, airlines are now, for example, able to cancel and rebook flight in advance either by email, text or even social media (Forbes). As the most “socially devoted” industry, airlines have effectively harnessed the power of social media to answer questions, alleviate concerns and ultimately ease the entire travel process (Forbes). In doing so, airlines have opened new lines of communication that can help prevent a number of avoidable travel disasters.
If a problem arises, remember to use these social channels (such, as Facebook, Twitter, Apps etc.) to communicate with your airline before it escalates.

Yet it’s not just one-directional, or even just a single customer-service provider relationship anymore. Customer review websites such as TripAdvisor allow customers to share both positive and negative experiences about a particular airline or travel service provider, and these companies should pay attention. Pay attention not just to see where there is customer resentment and to focus on ways to improve, but also to engage customers and to let them know that you value their feedback and are working hard to make their experience better.

In addition to review websites, there are sites to compare flight and package prices as well, such as Kayak, and Skyscanner. Customers can see – very openly – which are the least expensive options, and make informed decisions based on their preferences (do they mind a stopover, if the flight is cheaper? Does the time of day/night work best for them?).

Gartner Analysts point to KLM who has a new CRM model in order to make sure they are taking care of their customers:

“This strategic approach allows KLM to go beyond loyalty program metrics and focus on a more accurate, value-based segmentation of existing customers. The company can then define a strategy and plan of action for each segment, and apply the plan to every interaction with customers, across all points of contact.”

Gartner continues:

KLM now interacts with customers on a personalized basis, to deliver a better customer experience. Instead of reacting to people simply on the basis of program status, KLM can base interactions on customer value, both current and potential.

Whether through social media, price comparison or customer review websites, the common themes that have characterized the new customer experience environment is transparency and communication. From all directions, customers, prospective customers and the service providers themselves, each side can be aware of what the best options are, what each’s expectations are and how to best meet those expectations.

  • Car Travel

RRL Riders

Photocredit: RLL Riders

Packing up the car and heading out on the open road is an ambitious, yet unforgettable experience. Besides ensuring your car is maintained and your route has been planned, there are a number of things you can do in advance in order to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch.

For instance, remember to bring all appropriate documentation (such as, ownership, insurance etc.) to ensure that any problem can be resolved with ease. Many insurance companies offer additional tips and apps  to remember when travelling by car as well so do not be afraid to ask.  Think about the back of your routeplanner is recommended.

Additionally, it is important to ensure accommodation (if necessary) is planned in advance since many hotels during this time are filled to capacity.

Like air travel – and this applies for train travel as well – customers can nowadays compare prices on rental car providers and see customer feedback on review sites as well.

In addition, and this also applies to all forms of travel, mobile apps from service providers allow for accelerated and streamlined online and advanced booking, with the goal of ensuring that the time spent in checking in at the airport, train station or rental car station is short, smooth and stress-free.


  • Train Travel

With more than double the growth of domestic air travel over the last decade, train travel continues to remain a popular travel option. (Power Engineering). Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, train travel can often be a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

However, in order to avoid any disappointments, it is important to plan ahead.

For instance, it is important to choose the right ticket. If you are traveling to Europe, train travel is an excellent way to see several countries in a short period of time. When buying a rail pass it is important to decide ahead of time if you would like a consecutive (valid for unlimited train travel) or flexi (valid for a fixed number of travel days) rail pass since choosing the right option will help minimize costs and maximize travel time. Also, it is important to consider onboard amenities (such as, dining options, internet connections etc.) for any journey, regardless of duration in order to avoid any mishaps along the way. And again, use the apps of the train company, if available.

With proper planning, it is easy to prevent a dreaded travel disaster.

It has also never been easier to get answers to questions when and where you need them through a number of different communication channels. Many companies employ a number of effective customer service strategies in order to alleviate stress during this busy travel time.

It is helpful to make a checklist with important contact information before venturing out, ensuring you are prepared for any situation. These are essential things you need to know about customer service.

Most importantly, don’t let travel stress hold you back – get out there and enjoy everything the short summer season has to offer!

Photocredits: RLL Riders, the clotheshorse


It is the delivery system, stupid that impacts the new normal

Nowadays, your are reading more and more we read about explanations why technology is stirring up society and dusted organizations.

How sad, is it not?

by Vanilla and lace on Flickr.

It is your job that is at stake. As is your organization and any institution that must adapt.

Are you middle-class? It will be hard to thrive in this ago of disruption.

Do you belong to the happy few? Chances are that your wealth in spite of all of the crises has increased substantially in the last few years.

We all witness that technology enabled us to move away from traditional concepts to the re-invention of goods, services and experiences

It is not that old technology stuff hat has lost its relevance; it’s the underlying delivery system. Due to to the rise of technology and social in one’s personal and professional lives.

The rise of new delivery concepts

As a service designer, contemplating about  the intersection of business and technology, I realize how essential it is to understand and adapt to enabling technology. But for me, it is not about technology. It is about grasping how we are moving to a service based economy and its consequences. Not only for the business context, but also for the political and societal consequences.

One-way street

From a theoretical point of view, the use of technology might deliver more profitable corporate  environments, better aligned with the functional and emotional needs of your employees and the rationale for the company. Applying relevant targeted concepts and being able to transfer these concepts to the working environment and professional lives.

However, things have changed.

Your customer, your client, your employees do no longer accept – in spite of all the state of art technology – a one way street of coordination and communication. In almost every business context service elements dominate now the way of creating value. Value is created in an excellent symbiose between the client and the organization (and often, there fits technology).  People, citizens everywhere are demanding that they have a say in the way their experiences are created.

A new challenge: the ecosystem

Was everything just that simple. To be truly successful one has to reframe the landscape in which you operate. Reframing is more than an insight: it is about shifting your fundamental thoughts about how the world works. Getting equipped with a sound reframe, companies and institutions can discover new value creation opportunities in many markets.  Delivery is not limited to a the traditional core business. Profits can be made in other often

by Halley Alexa

loosely coupled markets.

Sounds good, is it not?

But what is possible for you, is also possible for all participants in all other ecosystems.

New economics

Economics will always be governed by the rules of supply and demand. But in the new normal needs and service based solutions will pave the way to a profitable future.

Any way, it is up to you.  You do need some beliefs to chart a path to a better future . And in the new normal, for me acting like a strategic service designer, and not merely being a technology fan, will be your ultimate weapon.



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How not to live in old school marketing

The core

The Marketing Agency Blueprint  presents 10 rules for building tech-savvy, hybrid agencies that will disrupt and transform the marketing services industry.

Written for agency leaders and professionals—PR, SEO, advertising, content and web—readers are presented with a practical and candid guide to:

  • Generate more qualified leads.
  • Win clients with set pricing and service packages.
  • Secure more long-term retainers.
  • Create diverse and recurring revenue streams.
  • Develop highly efficient management systems.
  • Construct more effective account teams.
  • Recruit and retain top talent.
  • Deliver greater results and value to clients.
  • Increase client loyalty.


About Paul Roetzer

Paul Roetzer is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency, specializing in public relations, content marketing, search marketing and social media. PR 20/20 was the first agency in HubSpot‘s value-added reseller (VAR) program, which now includes more than 250 certified firms.

Prior to launching PR 20/20 in 2005, Paul spent six years as a consultant and vice president at a traditional public relations agency.

“I Live With Ghosts” by Graham Dunn

His book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint, serves as a guide for building tech-savvy, hybrid agencies that are more efficient, influential and profitable than traditional firms.

He is a speaker, writer and advocate for change and innovation within the public relations and marketing industries, and a frequent contributor to the PR 20/20 blog.

In 2010, he was recognized by Smart Business with an Innovation in Business Rising Star.

New school marketing

Some claim that marketing’s of the last 5 years beats the changes of the last 50 years. This book supports the thesis that marketing and pr is indeed changing. With a focus on technology, value driven activities and a sound orientation on measurable results.

A marketeer in the Mad Men era was a talker. Reading this book you have to admit that marketeers have to adhere to the highest professional levels to survive and thrive.

Management of small enterprises too

Roetzer has an opinion about how firms are rewarded  by their customers and how customers should evaluate their supplies. Roetzer is an evangelist for tangible, smart services, charging


not the input but the results.  Focus on results (outcomes); no longer services delivered/outputs.

New school management

Roetzer’s The Marketing Agency Blueprint inspired me to reconsider some basic thoughts about entrepreneurships, startups and managing small firms. Having a corporation background, i have to admit that some of my beliefs about management and marketing are that wrong (valuation of an agency). Thank god, some of my insights are also supported in the book (have the best talent, data-driven operations).

This book will make you feel uncomfortable and exhausted. Those who have aspirations for leadership in an agency must read this book. Be aware, it has a lot of checklist and to do’s. But be sure you need those to thrive in an era of change.

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Digital means: it must be fast

Investing in algorithms is paramount in web design tools. That was one of my conclusions in my post Yabba-Dabba Do or here comes WebYdo.

Welcome to the real world

In the Netherlands I’m subscribed to a monthly called Telecommerce. Such a name creates impressions of the late 90’s. That’s why the publishing company decided to restyle all associated touchpoints. The rebranding of the offline version took some effort but is there; rebranding of the online version not yet because as the chief editor stated “ICT”.


Recently I read about a public institution that is aiming to relaunch its website september 2015. Yes, indeed 18 months after today.

Bye bye old world

Not being able to deliver with a certain speed, a lack of ICT-skills  and not being able to innovate, is indeed something of the late ’90’s.
But your world has transformed.
Underlying the transformation in the business and professional world (and admit it, in your private life too) are two major forces:

Speed of change

The rate of change has exploded, creating a demand for technology driven concepts. Your customers live in  real-time world. They demand real-time solutions,  integrated as much as possible online, offline and with all relevant social networks.

Control of scarce time

Customers choose where and when to interact with brands. If possible on their mobile devices. Lacking time, they prefer touch points that are state of the art and create an impression of the near future. Companies must anticipate to meet those changing customers need.
My two real-world examples deny that the business world has changed.   One might wonder  how business addresses topics like digital business transformation , mobile or omni-channel-service in such a paradigm.

Hello new world

To give a right answer to the above-mentioned forces, I’m an advocate of agile development and continuous improvement.

  • Apply the principles of agile development across all business functions.
  • Adapt and accelerate processes to keep up with and take advantage of rapid technological change.
  • Embrace the power of networks, platforms and partnerships.
  • Adopt next-generation technology to reach your business, professional and personal goals.
As a fact of life: enterprises and organizations need to reshape themselves to become faster and, often, that goes for digital touch points, its content and services too. Some claim that to achieve success this requires a fair amount of planning, meetings and reporting.

Rachel Palmer

However, for me design thinking and service design are superior to such an approach.

The focus on human needs (emotional and functional) requires that discovery, defining and design are the fundamental steps before developing and deploying the touch points. Steps taken as fast as possible.

The growth of design thinking is a fine example for how tech-development-only approaches can become nimble.

In our old world, it was always about big projects, huge project failure rates and pushing the outdated technology concepts into the market over the course of time (too late, too little functionality).

In the new world, there are touch points that are constantly changing. Our world has become about nonstop adoption with multiplying possibilities. You can not connect to an emerging social network once in a year. If you do, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant.

What’s crucial is an entrepreneur’s mindset.

Their agile and lean mindset is necessary when it comes to be successful in today’s world. For your successful future, use the tools and services that bridge the divide between traditional approaches and the new digital reality.

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Teach your employees well: treat them like your customers

For sale: classrooms

When was it that you attended a course in a classroom?
Probably a long time ago.

KRISTIANA VASARINA – UK Fashion and Lifestyle Blog: WILDFOX

Nowadays in customer case training specialists can transform their young professionals into excellent performers by creating a perfect blend of internal stuff and exercises, supplemented with the abundance of available educational resources on the web, social and professional networks. in my opinion, customer service agents training should be structured around these external elements with a proper inclusion in the curriculum and training milestones. Structuring your training contents has other positive outcomes: your agents will become aware of how their customers behave on their search for information. In such a way  an external mindshift will dominate the internal focus, which is often the underlying theme in customer service training

Many concepts have become available

Customer service organisations may embed webinars in the external knowledge transfer process. Webinars are often free, available on demand, can be stopped and replayed if necessary and are place, channel and time independent. With such characteristics you have to admit that these are indeed incredibly efficient training resources. On the negative side,  a webinar can not be tailored to your companies needs. A perfect fit into your company courses might imply some rework,Being a passionate book reader i always state the value of great books. In customer service many us are familiar with popular management books. Readable in a hour, fine exercises and often creating breakthroughs in a team culture and personal attitude. I still love  the story of the world famous Pike Place Fish market.  Create for your team or classes recommended reading lists and even consider starting an e-book library. In case there is (and be sure, it is) there is a a lack of time, considering sharing outlines (free available on the internet and Or pay for the services of the Berlin start-up a perfect source of inspiration for your middle management.
Real-time sharing is also a fine teaching tool. In case senior managers share their activities, their goals and feelings on the internal network, anyone can benefit. Sharing good and bad news, recommendations with regard to resources, blogs to read and sources of inspiration on twitter.Invite some of your raving customer fans to real time sharing. Tools like yammer are free available.
Why do you not role playing in a live environment. Not in the classroom but in front of peers, customers and managers.

KRISTIANA VASARINA – UK Fashion and Lifestyle Blog: WILDFOX

Sounds probably intimidating? But be sure: it is the best way to creating meaningful experiences, enabling your staff to alter their behavior and improve their performance.

In these days of  MOOC’s (massive online open courses), check out  excellent online resources. Build your internal curriculum around these free elements. There are some limitations (e.g. the dominant use of the English language).  Participating in the course,  establishing new relationships with course attendants are powerful knowledge and confidence boosters
Another fine example of training your staff is using group exercises. Assign challenges to teams (a blend of all departments and if appropriate customers and leads), have a great kickoff, meet again to share the gained insights, learning from each other. Use technology like the before mentioned yammer, basecamp or .

A means to

Analyze critically how you train your customer service staff. Are you using state of the art concepts or are you still adhering to the obsolete black board. Can it be done more efficient and deliver you productivity gains. And most of all, will it contribute to more customer and employee satisfaction.

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Ever wanted to be beaten in a game?

The fall of corporate training

One of the many enterprise battlefields will be the market of corporate training in the forthcoming years.

Many corporate training concepts still have their roots in classroom-concepts with a central spokesperson (trainer or coach), an emphasis on group work, interaction between participants and role plays.

Scanning on google trends for corporate training, one can notice the loss of relevance of corporate training in the old world and the rise of the concept in the emerging countries.

How sad, is it not?

It is not corporate training that has lost its relevance; it’s the underlying delivery system. Due to to the rise of technology and social in one’s personal and professional lives. And probably also the shifting relationships between employees and employers.

The rise of new delivery concepts

For me a fine reference with regard to corporate training is a 2013 Accenture report: a survey with perspectives on training. Executives are continuing to use new methods of delivering training to employees: mobile delivery, social, MOOC‘s and gamification.

Gamification in corporate training


From a theoretical point of view, the use of the concept of games might deliver more stimulating training environments, better aligned with the functional and emotional needs of your employees and the rationale for the company. Applying relevant targeted concepts and being able to transfer these concepts to the working environment and professional lives.

Sebastian Deterding defines gamification as the use of game design elements in a non-game context. To understand gamification you have to assess how to apply gamified applications in relation to your company’s goals, the course objectives and what game elements are embedded within the course concept. From the perspective of the employee the distinction between gamification in a company course and regular entertainment games (e.g Candy Crush) is that company objectives reign the course content and course elements. And therefore, gamification will use elements of games but ultimately are not designed to create wonderful gaming experiences.

In a training context, Dweck’s theory of motivation is very relevant.  In a former life as manager, our staff members were praised as a team, the effort was more important than the actual result and there was a focus on continuous improvement (yes, i used to be a contact center manager). But there is even more: using games without a business or professional context will always be a waste of money and time. In a level-based gamification training system, the goal of merely surpassing levels will not be relevant for many of your employees.

A new challenger: Wheeldo

Shani Kleiner

I recently chatted with Shani Kleiner about their concept. Wheeldo aims to be more than corporate training. They claim that their concept of gamification can also be applied to internal communication and marketing. After the chat i got an invitation and a info pack. I was challenged to play some games and was invited to share my thoughts about the concept. In line with the assumption that corporate training concepts will be disrupted, I realized that the kind of concepts (Wheeldo is still in beta) will impact the corporate training experience. The concept needs some iterations (e.g. look and feel, more personalisation and more real time interaction). Using the package, one can create much better learning experiences, collaboration and deployment of insights to the workplace as a team or as an individual. Ultimately, the success of Wheeldo will depend whether it supports reducing training, marketing or internal communication costs  and simultaneously increasing the competences of the staff, company engagement and – in case it is applied within a marketing environment-  to increase profitable turnover.

As far as I understood , the underlying idea still is that trainers develop the games, manage  the aspects of the game and deploy the content to the gamers. One can imagine that employees can define their own games, using market places or third party vendors.

After understanding the concept, i looked for its successful application in a corporate training environment. I can imagine using the concept with employees focusing in improvement by getting things better done without claiming external rewards. Or employees sharing external news or teaching others new working methods and concepts.

For me, Wheeldo will be successful if playing the game will be more important than playing to win. And in such a way it has the potential to transform certain elements of corporate training.

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