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April 27, 2009


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Tak Ishikawa

Another possible factor for this lack of results is the widespread idea that customer experience improvement is a process of diagnosing and correcting problems. Because of that, most CE executives, managers and supervisors focus their transformative efforts on the bad things (the habits need to be cut) and forget about the good things a company has (the behaviours a company needs to preserve and promote). In my experience, I have seen that customer’s satisfaction don’t change despite a company’s efforts to detect and correct problems, because CE improvement is more about doing more good things, than fewer bad things. In other words, absence of bad incidents doesn’t guarantee a good experience.

By focusing on the positive experiences, identifying the behaviours that led to them, and encouraging staff to repeat those behaviours, companies can drive change more effectively at both the strategic and operative levels. Here is why:

- Customer feedback on good practices is more actionable in the short term than negative information: what a company does right today, no matter how infrequent, can be done more often with few changes in structure, procedures, or platform.
- It is easier to tell people to do things they have already done, than telling them to stop doing things they normally do.
- Desirable habits are perceived as easier to adopt because the behaviour already exists; all you are doing is encouraging people to replicate.
- Since the company is emphasising the good experiences, employees have fewer reasons to play the system and/or hide negative feedback.
- Asking clients to recount their positive experiences enhances their good experience; in contrast, encouraging customers to inform about their bad incidents force them to relive the situation, thus worsening his negative emotions.

Admittedly, this paradigm sounds counterintuitive at first, because it seems to invite companies to ignore their own problems. However, as successful behaviours become more frequent, drawbacks are overcome and customer experience improves.

So, what do your do with bad experiences? Do we just ignore the client that happened to have a bad experience? No. But that is a different topic; please, click on the link and find my answer.

More about this approach to organizational change called Appreciative Enquiry can be found in this book:

Syed Hasan


Makes a good point and the use of positive feedback is as important if not more important than negative feedback. The challenge for CE exec's is often that they are not operating at the actual "voice of the customer" level, good or bad. They tend to be removed from where the rubber meets the road and also unaware of how technology can be leveraged to achieve their CE goals.

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