The Friday Five: Highlights From the Week in Customer Care​

The week of January 19, 2015: This week we’re introducing something new to our blog: a regular, weekly round-up of all the week’s top highlights, opinions and news in the area of customer care. Each Friday we’ll feature five of the top posts from around the web related to customer care and contact centers.



First off this week, companies think they understand how customers experience their product or service, only to discover that this isn’t so. In her post “The Challenges of Understanding the Customer Journey” Jeannie Walters at 360Connext says it starts with where the customer journey actually begins.

The customer journey begins earlier than companies think, and ends later than they think as well. Using airlines as an example, not only does the customer experience start well before we board the plane – it starts before we even purchase our tickets as we weigh all of our options in order to arrive at our decision.

Jeannie pinpoints five questions organizations need to answer when looking at customers’ end-to-end experiences:

1. WHAT does your customer really want to do?
2. HOW does your customer come to this conclusion?
3. WHY does your customer want to interact at all?
4. WHO is your customer?

And while we’re on the topic, have a look at “The Outstanding Characteristics of Successful Customer Experience Mapping”"To Find Your Customers, Reverse Your Own Customer Journey" and "Business Process is Dead: Long Live Customer Journeys!"



Next up on the topic of customer behavior, and again using airlines as an example, Michael Schrage at the Harvard Business Review, in his post “Your Customers’ Behavior Is a Competitive Advantage”, talks about asking a senior JetBlue executive what JetBlue’s customers could do to improve the airline. After a pause, the exec responded that, simply put, nicer customers would make for a nicer customer (and employee) experience.

Improving customers and clients, Michael insightfully argues, makes for good business. Customers need to learn as much from companies and companies need to learn from customers. In this regard, companies such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook, he points out, have set the bar not only for customer experience, but also for guiding customer behavior.

It’s the tiny investments in improving customers themselves that can ultimately lead to improved customer experience.

For more on this idea, look at “How Starbucks Trains Customers to Behave”.



Continuing with our emphasis on customer experience, Chantel Botha at customerthink.com, in her post “Customer Experience rescue lesson: The art of an apology”, looks at the one thing in her years of coaching customer service representatives that has lead to improved outcomes when dealing with angry customers. Saying sorry.

She discusses some of the situations that make customers angry:

1. Things change (e.g. systems and processes)
2. Things break or don't work as expected
3. Lack of connection in an interaction
4. Expectations are not met
5. A sequence of events goes awfully wrong

She then offers tips on winning over a furious customer:

1. Acknowledge the problem
2. Empathize and connect
3. Solve the problem
4. Keep your promises
5. Be human, be kind, don’t be scared

She makes a compelling argument for letting representatives “be human, to make mistakes sometimes, to abandon the script and to be empowered to be creative about problem solving.” After all, you get a sincere apology from someone, in most cases it’s not possible to stay angry for long.

For more on the art of corporate aplogies, check out "Best Way to Apologize? Starbucks, Business Experts on the Art of Saying Sorry" and "The Art of the Airline Apology".



Moving on to everyone’s favorite demographic, Micah Solomon writes on Forbes that “The Millennial Customer Has $200 Billion To Spend (But Wants A New Style Of Customer Service)”. These children of the Baby Boomers comprise the largest demographic shift since the baby Boomers themselves, and they’re poised to become the greatest consumers in history, with buying power that will overshadow that of their parents.

In order to pull in Millennials in as customers, companies first-and-foremost need to know how to serve them, Micah argue, highlighting five changes organizations need to implement:

1. Deploy human beings in ways that actually provide value to customers
2. Spice up the customer experience with adventure
3. Stop controlling customers. Focus instead on collaborating with them.
4. Speed up service, but never rush customers
5. Make sure your customer service style is genuine. Never talk down to this generation of customers.

The best way to engage Millennials is with eye-level service, in a way that proves that a company’s values match its claims. Millennials will reward a company if its behavior mirrors their own ethics, and punish it if it doesn’t, Micah concludes.

To read more from Micah on the subject of Millenial as customer, look at "2015 Is The Year Of The Millennial Customer: 5 Key Traits These 80 Million Consumers Share".



In our last post of the week, Rob Tarkoff, CEO of Lithium Technologies, writes on Huffington Post about “Dazzling Customers in an Era of Extreme Expectation”. Whether meeting CEOs, VPs or customer service and community managers from a range of companies offering a wide variety of products, they all tell him the same thing: that customer expectations are higher than ever.

He then highlights the stat from a recent Forrester Research report that only 11% of companies deliver outstanding service. As a consequence, here’s what he has to say:

1. There is no time like now
2. Digital marketing is marketing
3. Embrace your total community
4. Help people find answers (and happiness) before you market to them
5. Engagement is not the goal for most businesses
6. Use negative feedback to create positive outcomes

Customers may have extreme expectations, but companies can meet those expectations, companies need only shift their mindsets.

For another look at extreme customer expectations, read "Can social media save banks from disruptive customer expectations".

And that's it for this week's round up. Come back next week to keep yourself up-to-date on everything that's current in customer care.

Květa Vostrá, Director of Communication and Training


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