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“Customer Experience is not just about

passion. It is about profitable results.”

~Lior Arussy

Emotional Connections are the Icing on the CX Cake

Posted: May 20, 2015 by Tim Douek

I just returned from a great couple of days in San Diego at a Customer Experience conference.  Even if the conference had only been so-so, it would be hard to visit San Diego and not have a great time.  The perfect weather and stunning landscape make this town a little piece of paradise.  Add to this the comings-and-goings of all kinds of amazing military hardware to and from the Naval Amphibious Base (home of the Navy Seals) on Coronado Island, and San Diego never fails to deliver.

As it happens, the conference was great – lots of great examples of winning programs and strategies and some really inspiring presentations by people like Derrick Hall, president & CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Derrick’s passion, warmth and sense of fun is really contagious and inspiring.  He spoke for 90 minutes about some of the amazing things his organization has been able to accomplish and the progress they have made in building and sustaining an incredibly loyal fan base.  There is, as there always is in successful programs, a common “thread” that weaves its way through everything Derrick and his team is doing at the D-backs.  I’ll sum it up in a sentence:  They have established a vision for their organization, and they empower their people to live that vision. 

It sounds so simple, but, in reality, it really takes effort, especially in the beginning as you begin to plot a course and set things in motion.  It’s about hiring and nurturing the right people so you can develop an “intentional” culture in the organization.  It’s about putting your money where your mouth is and investing in programs that demonstrate and reinforce your values.  It’s about being accessible to your employees and your customers—always.  It’s about listening and acting and doing the right thing—no excuses.  It’s about shared values, shared responsibilities, and shared successes.  It’s about heart.

There was a lot of talk at the conference about making emotional connections with customers, and there is no question that this is really important.  Loyalty is an emotion after all.  But emotions can run hot, and they can run cold. The emotional connection is part of a love triangle that also includes results and effort.  These three elements are the customer experience, and it can be easy to favor one over the others. Doing so is a mistake that will cost you!

Leaving the conference, I loaded up my rental car and promptly locked the keys in the trunk.

Emotion: Feeling really stupid.

I know—given my last blog about spilling coffee on my laptop, I’m beginning to establish myself as a bit of a walking disaster!

In any event, the car was one of those vehicles with proximity keys that allow you to open the doors without “plipping” the remote, so I figured I’d be fine. But when I went to open the driver side door, it would not open.  It turns out, I’d managed to remote-start the vehicle when loading my bags and now, as a security measure, it would not let me open the doors from the outside because the car “thought” I was already inside!  Ugh!  Work to do, airport to get to, colleagues to transport… 

Emotion: Feeling stressed and even more stupid!

I called the rental company, Enterprise, and promptly got disconnected after being on hold for 10 minutes. CX FAIL!

Emotion: Annoyed!

I tried again.  This time, things went much better.  The agent was friendly and thoughtful. 

“Your car might have On-Star,” she said. 

“It does!” I replied, as I begin to sense where she was headed. 

“If it is still active, they might be able to unlock the door for you.”  

30 seconds later – click! The car unlocked.

“You beauty!” I exclaimed to the agent. (Note: I am not Australian, but, for some reason, I resort to Aussie aphorisms during times of joy.)

“You’re welcome,” she replied.

Emotion: Elation!

So what’s the moral of this tale?  In the space of 15 minutes, my emotions were all over the place. I would have had an emotional connection to this incident irrespective of outcome, but the fact that 2 separate companies, Enterprise and GM, had a business process in place that allowed them to painlessly and efficiently resolve my issue was what really counted. 

They got me the result I needed: I got back into my car.  They did it without me needing to expend too much effort.  They knocked it out of the park in terms of the CX holy trinity of emotion, effort, and result.  Well done, Enterprise and GM!  And well done, US Military forces: without you, we’d have no GPS and no satellites through which On-Star can unlock the cars of wallies like me who lock ourselves out!