Is Trying to Delight Customers Really Just a Fool’s Errand?

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Craig Nishizaki, Head of Business at UpTop, shares insights on the biggest challenges with customer delight and what CX leaders should focus on instead. Learn about the three must-have tools to reduce effort and friction in the customer journey and how to use them to improve customer experience. Discover practical tips and recommendations to make it easier for customers to do business with you and accomplish their objectives faster and with less effort. Don’t miss this interview from the GDS CX Insight Summit on March 7, 2023.

Interview Participants:

  • Moderator: Julia Belle, Presenter @ GDS Group
  • Craig Nishizaki, Head of Business @ UpTop


Julia Belle: In a few moments, we’ll have our insights break, which is a snappy 10-minute session that packs a big punch. But in advance of that, I want to check in with you and ask a quick poll question. You should see it appearing on your screens now. And it asks this, what are the key challenges impeding customer experience improvements at your company today? And for this, folks, if you could select your top three, that would be great. So is it a lack of executive alignment and buy-in, i.e, where the C-suite are not in agreement on digital business objectives and priorities. Is it technology limitations? Is it weak cross-departmental coordination, i.e, teams working in silos without those bridges that Vincent outlined there. Importance of that. Is it resources, i.e, a lack of internal expertise. Or a lack of cash, a lack of budget. Or is it cultural resistance to change?

So some options there. And then at the bottom, we’ve also got something else. Perhaps we’ve missed something. We’d love to hear what that is. So pop it in the chat. That question once more. What are the key challenges impeding customer experience improvements at your company today? I’ll close that poll very shortly in 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1. Okay, folks, that poll is now closed. I can’t wait to discuss it with our speaker who I’ll welcome up to the stage now. Craig Nishizaki, head of business UpTop will pose the question, Is trying to delight customers really just a fool’s errand? Intriguing stuff. Craig, welcome to you. How are you?

Craig Nishizaki: I’m doing well, thank you. How are you?

Julia Belle: I’m good. Thank you very much for asking. That’s very sweet of you. Now, we’ll unpack this really interesting poll shortly. Looking forward to hearing what those challenges, those hurdles are. But in the meantime, could I just throw the floor to you for a quick introduction about your role and your world?

Craig Nishizaki: Sure, sure. My name’s Craig Nishizaki. I’m the head of business for UpTop. And we’re a user experience strategy, product design and development agency based in Seattle. And with offices in Germany and Ukraine.

Julia Belle: Awesome. All right. Well thank you for that. Now, Craig, I’d love to just unpack this poll result with you and see what you make of it. So production team, could we get those results up? Of course, we asked, what are the key challenges impeding customer experience improvements at your company today? And of course this won’t amount to a 100% because we offered you the opportunity to pick up to three. So Craig, I’m interested to see your thoughts on this. A big front-runner, weak cross-departmental coordination came right up top. 81% of the votes in that. And then to be honest, a pretty even spread for these other options. They all came within between the 30s and 40 percentile. Really only 1% said something else. So Craig, with your options here, you offered everything. So weak cross-departmental coordination being that key challenge, that key hurdle. What do you make of that?

Craig Nishizaki: That’s something that we see a lot. Because everyone’s working on their own objectives to accomplish the business strategy that’s laid out. And their objectives sometimes are competing, because they have their commitments that they’ve made for the quarter, and for the half year, and for the year. And as you’re trying to make improvements, oftentimes those improvements hinder your ability to accomplish your goal in that shorter term. And as we do cross-functional workshops with teams, we often find that, in a lot of cases, there’s water that’s been under the bridge. There’s relationships that have been broken in the workplace. Because of, you know, whether it’s politics or motives, or objectives that aren’t necessarily aligned. And one thing that you’ll find as you start moving toward a goal, whether it’s, let’s say, it’s your improvement of CX and really thinking about that end customer, or the employee that has to interact with them. And starting to have some empathy for them. It’s working together that’s actually going to accomplish those goals. And so what we found with digital transformation projects that come to a grinding hall or even digital projects that come to a grinding halt, oftentimes it’s that lack of cross-functional working relationships in siloed work.

Julia Belle: Yeah, I really like the intentionality of putting those workshops forward and making sure that you continually break those down where needed. Now listen, the title of this session, Craig, really intrigued me, is trying to delight customers, really just a fool’s errand? What do you mean by that?

Craig Nishizaki: Well, it’s funny, I didn’t want it to be like a Twitter bro clickbait type title, but it’s based on research. According to Gartner and CEB, customer delight only happens 16% of the time and increases operating costs by 10% to 20%. So is this really the best goal for us to try to accomplish from a CX perspective? And when you think about two of the biggest challenges to trying to delight. First and foremost, people want their basic needs met with minimal effort at whatever point in the journey that they’re at. And people have different definitions of what delight means. And different expectations based on what they’re trying to accomplish and where they are in the customer journey. So what we believe a better objective to aim for, and the group prior speaking about this hit on it as well, is reducing effort and reducing friction.

And we were introduced to this concept in early 2019 by Michael Chiu, a Gartner analyst. And we worked with Gartner for a number of years. And he cited research by CEB, that’s in a book called The Effortless Experience. And I have the book right here, a plug for them. And in this book, there’s research that talks about how reducing effort and creating low effort experiences has tremendous impact on repeat purchases and customer loyalty, and things like that. And so we had our leadership team read the book and the associated research. And we, in fact, we gave the book to all of our clients that year, because it really aligned with our focus on identifying and reducing friction at key moments in the customer journey. And to do that, there’s three must-have tools, and I think all the delegates here have these tools in place.

It’s your voice of the customer program, where you’re capturing feedback and sentiment with indirect and direct data. Your customer journey maps and your personas. And one thing we found in talking with clients and working with clients is oftentimes the customer journey maps and the personas are more static artifacts, and they really need to be living breathing artifacts. Or I shouldn’t even say artifacts, living breathing entities. Because if you think about it, when Covid and the pandemic hit and life changed radically for all of us, many companies went and updated their journey maps and their personas to account for that. But now that we’re living, in this new stage of normal, going through all the supply chain issues that companies had going through the shift in remote work, going through the shift of delivery or online purchasing. Even for big ticket B2B purchases, instead of being face-to-face with a enterprise rep. Those journey maps and personas just need to be revisited, updated, and iterated on.

And so as we think about the journey in general and where you can make those improvements, there’s two main questions I think that you could ask yourselves and your cross-functional team. And those two questions are at every stage in your customer journey as you’re revisiting it. Is, how can we make it easier to do business with us? And how can we help customers accomplish their objectives faster and with less effort?

Julia Belle: It’s so interesting that you’ve really just taken a complete different angle at this customer delight piece, because of course that is a phrase that’s used time and time again. But just questioning it and touching in with what’s the most important thing? And how does the data back it up? Like you say, the research here implies that reducing effort, reducing friction, that might be where those priorities are. Thank you so much just for outlining your perspective on that. And then Craig, while I have you for a couple more minutes, could I ask you to dig into, perhaps there’s a scenario that causes friction on the top of your mind that you could share, that could be reduced as a tangible takeaway for our delegation?

Craig Nishizaki: Yeah. Couple scenarios that come to mind. So, Amazon returns over the past few years has provided new options for returning products. Depending on the market you’re in, but in the US, you can return products to Whole Foods or Kohl’s or an Amazon Fresh store or UPS. And then they also changed how you package that return. Whether you take your QR code and show it at the store, or you have to print off a label and package it, or you just take it and drop it off. And as they made those changes, as Amazon does, they incorporated those changes into the current user experience, into the current flows. And as customers started having to make those choices, what they found was there was more and more customer contacts happening with their contact center and different channels. And so they have an initiative to improve that overall satisfaction. Because they know that if a customer’s satisfied with their return process, they’re going to buy more from them.

Julia Belle: Yeah. Yeah.

Craig Nishizaki: And so we got involved with them a few years ago to help them improve that by improving the communications and transparency in that process. Setting the expectations and communication about status, especially if there’s a delay. Having more clear instructions on what you need to do to return the product. And then optimizing it for a mobile experience, because they found that more and more people, more and more customers are initiating returns and checking status on their mobile device. And then incorporating personalization of the experience based on the type of customer and then making it consistent everywhere. And through that process, we ended up prototyping and testing 32 different prototypes in eight markets across the world. And the improvement in OPS that they’re forecasting will dramatically reduce operating costs in the multiple of millions of dollars.

And so that’s kind of where you’re thinking about it from the end state of improving the satisfaction of the return process to ultimately sell more. And if you think about all of the CX initiatives and digital transformation initiatives out there, the goal really is to sell more, sell faster and improve profitability at the end of the day.

Julia Belle: Yeah. Craig, I really did mean when I said this was going to be a snappy session, that packed a huge punch. Thank you so much for sharing such evidenced learning and expertise with us on the platform. Really appreciate it.

Craig Nishizaki: You’re welcome.


Additional Reading:
03/17/23 | Julia Belle | GDS Group
A Costly Distraction? Why Customer Delight Could Be Fool’s Gold