All posts by cbuehrens

Don’t Fool Yourself – Just “Meeting Expectations” Sucks

Carol Buehrens RavingCX Meeting Expectations Sucks

Exceptional customer experiences are one of the few brand differentiators that are still hard to imitate. To encourage and cultivate raving customers, you want to provide outstanding experiences that set your company apart and leave an indelible impression.

Meeting expectations is tablestakes

I’m not saying don’t meet expectations. But, that just the ante for playing in the game. I’m implying that “good enough” is not good enough anymore. In order to raise the bar and achieve the WOW factor, your experiences that you provide customers must go above and beyond their expectations. This may sound like a broken record, but this bears repeating! Your customers aren’t wowed by “good enough” experiences that just “meet” their expectations. Being “good enough” won’t give you a competitive edge.

To have a growing, thriving business, you need to have customers come back time and time again. Loyal customers. They need to spread the good word about your company.

To foster customers like these, raving customers, you must do more than simply meet their expectations! You need to provide innovation experiences that exceed their expectations and delight their senses.

Customer expectations are evolving – fast

Keep on top of your ever-changing customer’s expectations by talking to them, gaining their feedback, and creating a strong relationship. If the experiences you provide your customers aren’t continually innovative, you may find yourself playing catch-up while falling further behind your competition.

Image provided with permission by Microsoft

Maximizing the Power of Customer Feedback

Maximizing the Power of Customer Feedback
(From the book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!)

Successful customer experience companies listen to their customers. They work to ingrain the voice of the customer throughout the organization. They know that, be it a complaint or suggestion, it is a wonderful customer indeed who invests their own time to improve your organization.

You’ll want to grow your staff’s appreciation of all customer feedback. Think of every comment that you receive as a present!

After all, this is priceless information.


10 Ideas to maximize feedback

  1. Integrate all data across all channels. Combine data to get a holistic view of customer feedback from multiple sources,in order to understand the full impact on your brand.
  2. Identify what you want to know. This will help you develop your research methods and collection strategies based on your desired outcome.
  3. Focus on your target group. Concentrate your beginning efforts on the customers that matter most to your business and will provide you the highest return on your investment.
  4. Watch for trends. As you collect structured and unstructured feedback, look for ways to organize both that allow you to cross compare and uncover trends. This will help you prioritize your efforts.
  5. Utilize live feedback methods. Employ an online monitoring system that allows you to be alerted during failed transactions. For example, a customer aborts a process and a support representatives immediately reaches out to the customer to learn and help with the problem.
  6. Distribute good and bad feedback internally. Make sure that all of your employees know what your customers are saying, not just one or two departments or stakeholders. The best customer experience improvements will come from all employees actively listening and the resulting operational teamwork across your organization.
  7. Host feedback sessions. Hold workshops to discuss the latest feedback. Gather employees into teams and task them to brainstorm improvement ideas. Be sure to include the good feedback too – this provides insight into what customers like.
  8. Employ a personal follow-up program. Close the loop with customers whenever possible. Ask their perspectives on the issues. Let them know that you’re committed to partnering with them to resolve problems they’re experiencing.
  9. Engage customers in real conversations. Don’t “marketize” your conversation – keep it real and honest. Say you’re sorry when appropriate and mean it. Then show customers you are willing to do something to rectify the situation – and fix it.
  10. Assign “Client Insight Managers”. When negative feedback is collected, assign an employee to the customer, so there is one point of contact. Give them the authority to focus on and correct the problem. This individual acts as the liaison for the customer and follows the case to a successful completion. Allow them to go “above and beyond” whenever possible.

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

In my new book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, “Chapter 8. G =  Get Feedback” focuses on ideas and strategies to incorporate listening techniques, management of customer feedback, and techniques to empower employees to take action.

Buy it now on Amazon


Image provided with permission by Microsoft

Are Your ‘WOW Factors’ Impressing Customers or Holding You Back?

Carol Buehrens RavingCX What was WOW once may hold you back

It’s amazing how fast everything moves in this day and age. 2015 will be no different. In fact, it promises to be the most exhilarated year for customer experience.

The same holds true for our customers. Customers are, quite literally, raising their expectations and pushing the bar higher daily. What was once considered WOW last year may now be ordinary, mere table-stakes to stay in the game. In fact, your previously differentiated experiences might even be holding your company back today.

What was WOW once…

A close friend of mine recalls this story about traveling for business and how the WOW factor can quickly change. A few years ago, she would go out of her way to stay at certain hotels that offered a “business office”. This was the WOW factor for her; a small room by the main hotel office that provided a few desktop computers and a low-end printer. These early offerings were available during certain “open hours”, you had to leave your room to access the computers, and typically the Internet availability was restricted. If you needed to complete an important presentation for a meeting the next day, you’d be force to trample downstairs in your bunny slippers and robe, hoping that the business office was opened, or at the very least, that a computer was available.

Skip forward a couple of years and this same WOW offering became a table-stake for hotels. If they didn’t offer it, they literally lost the business traveler trade. In other words, it was no longer a WOW, customers raised it to an expectation.

Jump ahead another year and the WOW factor became in-room Internet connections, usually with a room fee. Of course, you had to be in your room to enjoy it. That’s certainly not a WOW anymore. In fact, most of us probably expect the hotel we’re staying in to have internet Wi-Fi technology, accessible throughout all areas of every room, including meeting hotel rooms, restaurants, and of course, poolside.

Today, if your hotel only offers a business office and no Wi-Fi capability, you’re out of the business traveler game. What was once the WOW is now holding you back.

Stay on top of the WOW

Don’t settle in and think that your WOW experience is going to continue to satisfy customers for years to come or even in the short term. To truly differentiate, you must stay in front of your customer’s expectations!

Image provided with permission by Microsoft

Strategic Goals for Exceptional Customer Service

Exceptional Customer Service is at the Heart of Amazing Customer Experiences…

Often, I find myself explaining the difference between customer experience and customer service. (There is a difference. For example, customers might only need customer service due to a poor customer experience.)

But I want to be clear; customer service excellence is foundational to great customer experience. You may have your customer experience strategy neatly in place and improvements to your customer’s journey may be afoot. But, unless you can deliver excellent service, consistently and across all channels, the biggest “proof-point” of your brand value will be a failure.

Exceptional customer service doesn’t happen by accident; this is carefully nurtured with passion. It demands a customer service strategy, alignment with business and customer experience strategy, and a well-designed plan and roadmap.

To assist you in getting started, here are seven strategic goals that can be adapted for your own use. You’ll come up with more and change things around, but I hope that these will give you a good head start. (The free E-Book Workbook goes into much more details!)

  1. Understand your customers better.
  2. Become a more “customer-centric” organization.
  3. Deliver emotionally engaging customer service.
  4. Develop and maintain a customer service model and definitions.
  5. Continually measure and improve.
  6. Grow leadership capabilities.
  7. Drive cultural change.

Free E-Book from my workshop

Download your free E-Book “Seven Strategic Goals for Exceptional Customer Service Workbook” to help jumpstart your Customer Experience Action Plans!

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

In my new book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, “Chapter 4. A =  Align with Strategy” focuses on how you can create a customer experience strategy and a plan that contains the important ingredients for success. Your customer service strategy and goals work hand-in-hand with your customer experience strategy.

Buy it now on Amazon

Images created by Carol Buehrens

Four Steps to Making the Customer Romance Last

What if you could create journeys for your customers that made them feel special at the beginning, middle and end, throughout their entire journey with your company? Wouldn’t your customers be raving about you?

ravingcx-a-roseIt seems that you would want to relentlessly pursue ideas to help your customers feel “special.”

Interestingly, the average company spends a lot of money doing just this — right before customers actually become consumers. In fact, if you examine the entire customer lifecycle, a disproportionate amount of the budget is spent romancing and luring new prospects into becoming new customers. Most companies make sure that this is a delightful time, one that’s full of glossy brochures, razzle-dazzle and alluring promises.

It’s like a first date with your customers, complete with roses and fine dining. It’s all about making them feel special so that they are “bought-in emotionally”, and they make the buy!

The problem is, once the purchase is made, clients become ordinary customers.

After they sign on the dotted line, there’s an invisible hand-off from marketing to operations and support. Here’s the kicker for your customers – the level of experiences that these functions provide are radically different. One day, everything is flowers and champagne. The next, the hard reality sets in and all the thrills are gone. Sadly, they are now “just another customer“.

Take the extra step to keep the romance alive

In raving customer experience terms, the marketing and sales period is only a tiny fraction, in fact the smallest part, of the overall romance your customer should have with your company! Instead — Imagine giving each touchpoint of your customer’s journey the same attention that’s given to seducing new customers! Here’s a few steps to get you started.

Step 1 – Take a reality check. Map the journeys your customer are currently experiencing. Get these maps in front of everyone, and have them look for gaps in your services and disjointed interactions — the best and the worst of your brand value.

Step 2. Talk to customers. Try to understand how they “feel”. Identify the peaks and the valleys of their emotional experiences. Find the truly enjoyable moments at which happiness runs high, and the low times when frustration, discontent or disengagement takes over. The high points are direct clues as to what your customers like and enjoy. You’ll want to reuse this “magic”. The low points are your opportunities for improvement.

Step 3 – Involve your marketing and creative teams. Get them in a room for a brainstorming session. What are the tricks they use to continually engage and motivate “prospects”? Have them look for ways to use the same techniques and strategies to seduce your customers, even after they’ve signed the dotted line.

Step 4 – Take action. Integrate the ideas into the journey. Take the opportunities you identified and add the WOW factor. Or, look for lifecycle lag moments and jump in to surprise and delight — it’s always better when a “gift” is least expected!

These are just a few ways that you can improve the “marriage relationship” you have with your customers!

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

In my new book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, “Chapter 6. I =  Innovate in Unexpected Ways” focuses on how you can exceed your customer’s expectations and develop loyal, raving customers.

Buy it now on Amazon
RavingCX readers SAVE 10% at– enter discount code: CG83XLJ6

Image provided with permission by Microsoft

Hold on to Your Hat – It’s High-Speed Journey Mapping!

carol_buehrens_journey_map_next_gen_2014_4Can you imagine having only three minutes to create a high-level journey map? Or five minutes to define a touchpoint? Who would ever dream of creating a customer journey map, complete with persona, detailed touchpoints and emotional mapping, in less than an hour? Sound crazy? It is – crazy fun!

Speed Mapping

carol_buehrens_journey_map_next_gen_2014_2Set to a “Speed Dating” theme, speed mapping is an exciting way to learn about customer journey mapping. Participants roll up their sleeves and make a mad rush to complete the various stages during a series of timed exercises. It quickly breaks  down the common barriers to learning what may have seemed like an insurmountable task.

Successful Workshop held at Next Gen

carol_buehrens_journey_map_next_gen_2014_3Over 80 Customer Experience Professionals attended Speed Mapping at the Next Generation Customer Experience Conference on March 18. They had innocently signed up for a Customer Experience Journey Mapping workshop with no idea of what they were in for – and they were in for a big surprise.

This was no “sit back and listen” session. Having extremely short times to complete several exercises (giant timers flashed on the screen), everyone quickly caught carol_buehrens_journey_map_next_gen_2014_1onto the fast pace.   They were grouped into “silos”. They completed a high level map. As silos, they  detailed one of the touchpoints.

Silos were broken down as groups were joined together to connect their touchpoints into continuous journeys.  In just a few short minutes, teams were cooperating, selecting touchpoints to innovate, and finding ways to WOW their customers.

There were journeys everywhere – on tables, easels, floors and walls!

During the final exercise, many groups had 1 minute to present their journeys. The results were amazing. These professionals took touchpoint to new heights and, together, made this workshop a huge success.

Whew! That’s a lot to accomplish in just one short hour!

Remarks from participants:

“I learned I can really do this. This workshop definitely removed my fears.”

“This was fun. We’re going to have a workshop like this when we did back to the office on Monday.”

“That was crazy! I love these tools.” 

“I thought I knew journey mapping, but this opened up my eyes to other possibilities. This was enjoyable, contagious, and engaging. Absolutely my favorite session of the conference.”

Images provided by Carol Buehrens

Do YOU have the Votes to Change?

You put together the very best Customer Experience Strategy ever invented. It’s so cool that it’s the envy of all — the best created in the world.

Yet, for some reason, it isn’t working. No one is following it. It was printed and distributed, and then filed away, never to be seen again.

You may have missed the most critical step – getting the right votes

Just like your business strategy, this is a top-down effort. In fact, your Customer Experience Strategy has its core based in your business strategy! Nothing will kill it faster than neglecting to have the full buy-in from your top Generals. If your CEO and executive management don’t cast a “pro-vote”, your efforts will fail.

Make no mistake about it — this is a true cultural shift. For your company to be a successful “Customer Experience excellence leader”, your employees need to live and breathe your customer experience strategy. Everything they do must be on behalf of their customers.  Your customers won’t feel the love if your employees aren’t giving it. You need devoted, dedicated, unwavering leaders to help your employees make this change.

Without the right “votes”, you won’t get your CX strategy off the ground.

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

In my new book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, “Chapter 5. V =  Vote to Change” focuses on how you can take care of politics and get your leaders aligned with customer experience.

Buy it now on Amazon
RavingCX readers SAVE 10% at– enter discount code: CG83XLJ6



Six Essential Goals for Customer Experience Strategy

Your Customer Experience Strategic plan should deliver results.


Download the Free E-Book “Six Essential Goals for Customer Experience Strategy” by Carol Buehrens

But does it? Why make a Customer Experience Strategy Plan unless you can see it through. But, it’s no easy task to get everyone following your marching orders (and I know this from experience). To strengthen your plan and develop your roadmap, you’ll need to formulate appropriate, actionable goals. And, you’ll want to partner each goal with measurable objectives.

While every business is different and goals will vary, here are Six Essential Goals that are pretty foundational to any CX Plan. Download the free E-Book, “Six Essential Goals for Customer Experience Strategy”. This E-Book also includes helpful objectives in easy-to-use Customer Experience Goals workshop templates. I hope this gives you a big head start in preparing your own Customer Experience Strategy Action Plan!

 Six Essential Goals…

  1. Understand your customers better.
  2. Become a more “customer-centric” organization.
  3. Deliver emotionally engaging customer experiences.
  4. Continually measure and improve.
  5. Grow leadership capabilities.
  6. Drive cultural change.

Free E-Book

Download the free E-Book “Six Essential Goals for Customer Experience Strategy” to help jumpstart your Customer Experience Action Plan!

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

In my new book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, “Chapter 4. A =  Align with Strategy” focuses on how you can create a customer experience strategy and a plan that contains the important ingredients for success.

Buy it now on Amazon
RavingCX readers SAVE 10% at– enter discount code: CG83XLJ6

OCUX – Journey Mapping Workshop

I was recently invited to present a hands-on “Journey Mapping Workshop”, hosted by the Orange County User Experience group in January. It was fantastic! Over 40 UX professionals participated in creating journeys.


A team works on innovating their customer’s journey during the Journey Mapping Workshop, presented by Carol Buehrens

In the first exercise, they identified touchpoints for a customer journey and added these to their high-level map template. Next, they each detailed out one of the touchpoints, providing information as to what the customer was doing, their expectations, motivations, roadblocks, emotions, and other critical components.

During the final exercises, they grouped into “Journey teams.” They developed their target customer and created a brief persona. Combining their touchpoints together into a map, they collaborated to innovate one or more of their touchpoints. With most team members not working together before, this challenge was an exercise in breaking down silos!

At the end of the workshop, the teams held up their maps and made a short presentation, explaining their target customer, how their team innovated the journey, and how journey mapping might help them in their jobs. It was great fun and a wonderful group of people! Enjoy the photos below.

innovating-touchpoints-1 innovating-touchpoints-3

Presenting_the_map_1 Presenting_the_map_2

Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!

In my new book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers!, “Chapter 3. R =  Reality Check” focuses on how you can identify the journeys your customers take with your company, in order to deliver experiences important to them.

Buy it now on Amazon
RavingCX readers SAVE 10% at– enter discount code: CG83XLJ6

Images provided by Carol Buehrens

Total Customer Experience 2013 – You should have been there!

Total Customer Experience Summit 2013 San Diego

Total Customer Experience Summit 2013 San Diego

Had a great time at the Total Customer Experience 2013 in San Diego, November 6-7. Amazing messages, great keynotes and presenters, lots of cool takeaways.

I had the wonderful opportunity to present Customer Experience Journey Mapping to a very talented group of professionals. Here are some key takeaways: Your customers are having many experiences with your organization – people, systems, processes – every day. It makes sense that you should know what those experiences are so that you can effectively plan them. Journey maps, which help you document customer touchpoints and interactions, are essential tools that allow you understand and improve those experiences. You can take baby steps in mapping your customer’s experiences. And it can be fun!

My own key takeaway from this session? Include more workshop type activities! Everyone enjoyed this part of the presentation the most. And, as they say, you learn best by doing.  In the hands-on session, participants identified the details of their selected touchpoints, which included customer motivation, emotions, artifacts, questions, and barriers that could cause customers to be unsuccessful.

Here are a few pics for you to enjoy!

Total Customer Experience Summit 2013 San Diego carol_buehrens_total_customer_experience_summit_6

carol_buehrens_total_customer_experience_summit_7 carol_buehrens_total_customer_experience_summit_9

carol_buehrens_total_customer_experience_summit_5 carol_buehrens_total_customer_experience_summit_3


Images provided by Carol Buehrens