The Michelli Experience

New York Times #1 bestselling author, Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., shares customer experience, leadership, and business insights from Mercedes-Benz, Starbucks, Ritz-Carlton, Zappos, Pike Place Fish, and many more. At The Michelli Experience, we help front-line employees, managers, and senior leaders deliver relevant and engaging service experiences. To that end, we provide keynote and workshop presentations, short-term and extended consulting services, and bestselling books to meet your needs.

When lamenting unforeseen and adverse events, my momma Michelli was prone to say, “I would never wish this on anyone, but now that it’s here, what are we to do?”

Not surprisingly, during the past week, my mind has searched for “momisms,” “dadisms,” and the wisdom of the ages, to cope with uncertainty like none I’ve encountered in my lifetime. Leveraging off my mom’s aforementioned phrase, I’ve been reflecting on this question – what can we learn and do in the face of this Pandemic?

For years now, I have been equating leadership with managing in a VUCA world.

While the acronym VUCA has origins in Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus’ 1985 book titled Leaders – The Strategies for Taking Charge, the first use of the acronym occurred a couple of years later in Army War College documents. As you likely know, VUCA refers to navigating a world replete with:

Volatility

Uncertainty

Complexity, and

Ambiguity

In continuation of my series on leading transformational human experiences in uncertain times, I’ve been struck by how well VUCA describes the challenges that leaders face in the context of the coronavirus.

I’m in the throes of difficult planning sessions with clients as they seek to communicate with and ready themselves to care for their team members and customers in a time of heightened uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. For some clients, these conversations revolve around possible disruptions in a supply chain; for others, it takes the form of remote sales strategies or enabling team members to work from home.

Maybe I am unusually lucky, but in contrast to political leaders who can get bogged down in blaming their opposition for problems, the people with whom I work are spending all of their time looking for solutions on behalf of their team members and customers. I thought I would share some of these strengths in the hope that they will be of benefit to you.

I’m convinced the pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus happened upon an enduring truth when he said, “you can’t step into the same river twice.” I heard that quote when I was a freshman in college and it was the same year I’d read the classic book by M. Scott Peck titled The Road Less Traveled. In this book, Peck suggested above all else people fear change.

That made me wonder if we also fear that things won’t change. In other words, we get bored when things become stagnant and become overwhelmed when change exceeds our ability to cope.

For me, the world of human experience elevation is a perfect mix of dynamic change.

I’m a fan of both business leaders and customers. However, of the two groups, it seems that customers are winning when it comes to embracing change.

While customer expectations are increasing at a lightning pace, the fundamentals of customer experience delivery have remained relatively constant across the past decade.

Smart customers realize that they have the power to choose brands that care about them and exceed their expectations.

Less smart leaders believe that customers make decisions predominantly based on the benefits, attributes, quality, and price of their products.

Quite frequently, my team and I are asked to develop customized frontline and leadership training materials in support of an enhanced team member or customer experience. Having reviewed a lot of generic service training materials available in the market today, I find myself cringing when the curriculum proceeds down any number of over-traveled paths like these...

We believe kindness is a choice that is demonstrated through action. Rather than practicing “random acts of kindness” we believe kindness must be intentional. We also believe that it is not enough to be kind only when it’s expected. We want to surprise others with kindness!

Finally, we believe stories of surprising kindness serve to inspire others, so we hope you will share stories of leaders, managers, team members, colleagues, friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers who have been surprisingly kind.

Given limited resources, I spend a lot of time helping my clients look for ways to deliver excellence at the highest value moments across the journey of their core customer segments.

While each customer group will differ on the moments-that-matter most to them, certain customer interaction points play a fairly universal role when it comes to customer engagement or customer churn.

Let’s look at some data reported by Adobe and Econsultancy in a report titled Experience Index 2020 Digital Trends. That study reflects the input of more than 13,000 marketers, IT professionals, and creatives from across the globe.

Let’s take a look at a couple of these findings and what they can mean for your business.

 

You probably know I’m a fan of customer experience research conducted by PwC. For example, in my recent book The Airbnb Way – 5 Leadership Lessons for Igniting Growth through Loyalty, Community, and Belonging, PwC kindly gave me permission to use their global research on consumer expectations for human care and technology deployment.

Today, I’ll share some of PwC’s findings from their 2020 Retail Marketplacestudy, which has broad implications beyond the retail sector. In that research, PwC identifies a number of key drivers affecting customer expectations today...

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