What began as an entertainment experience has turned into an innovative way for people to have fun and make memories together. Dave and Buster’s was formed when friends Dave, who ran an arcade, and Buster, who ran a restaurant on the same street, noticed customers going back and forth between their establishments on any given evening. They took a risk to open the first combined food, drink, and arcade establishment and have had great success. Part of the reason for Dave and Buster’s strong growth and reputation is its focus on customer experience. According to president and COO Dolf Berle, Dave and Buster’s is focused on providing an entertaining environment where people can have fun with friends, family, and colleagues and take a break from the stress of everyday life.
To be successful, Dave and Buster’s is constantly innovating, and it uses metrics to stay on top of customer experience. Using a program called InMoment, Dave and Buster’s tracks a comprehensive array of metrics on everything from a customer’s experience at the bar to their likelihood to return to the arcade. The ultimate goal of the metrics is to gauge customer satisfaction and a customer’s intent to recommend Dave and Buster’s to friends. To get quality results, Dave and Buster’s adds incentives to its survey invitations, usually in the form of a free appetizer or a reduced game card on a person’s next visit. It gets more than 50 surveys per store each week and then combines those metrics to get an overall look at the company.
Dave and Buster’s looks at trends in the metrics as a way to measure and improve the customer experience. Dolf himself looks at the metrics on a weekly basis to see if guest satisfaction is building over time and if there is any variability between different areas of the establishment that can help him know where to focus the company’s strategic efforts.
Dave and Buster’s has found that customers who have a better experience have more interactions with the staff, which fuels its corporate culture of fun. From its early days, Dave and Buster’s has focused on making employees an integral part of the customer experience—if the staff is involved and treated better, they are more likely to create a better experience for guests. To put that into action, employees go through a lot of training to help them feel like an important part of the corporate family. Employees also use the metrics provided by InMoment to see where they can improve and how they can better the guest experience.
As Dave and Buster’s continues to lead the way for innovative entertainment, its focus will always stay on making sure customers have great experiences. With the help of a strong, metrics-driven measurement system, the company will always know exactly where it stands.
Machine learning is a powerful way to access information about your customers in order to personalize the experience to meet their needs. James Staten, chief strategy officer for Microsoft Cloud, works with customers around the world and knows the importance of having a complete picture of how and when customers interact (or don’t interact) with a brand.
Instead of simply sorting customers into basic groups, machine learning can access huge data sets through the cloud, including data your company might not collect itself, such as social media analytics and information from retailers. The cloud allows users to aggregate huge amounts of data to give instant insights and predictive analysis.
European soccer team Real Madrid uses these tools to create an amazing customer experience. The team uses machine learning to analyze everyone who comes to their website or connects with them on social media and breaks them into sub-groups. For example, some people are fans of a particular player rather than the whole team, so that sub-group gets messages about player news, uniforms, and appearances. Fans who have never been to a game get information on how to watch the games online and can even get product recommendations based on what team gear they have purchased previously. By breaking their fans into micro-markets, Real Madrid can provide personal experiences to each fan that best meets their needs.
Another of Microsoft’s cloud clients is a clothing company that uses machine learning to understand how and where customers are buying clothes. The company then uses that data to personalize recommendations and outreach, and the results have been amazing—many targeted customers say they are very impressed with their personalized recommendations.
Machine learning opens up a new world of customer experience potential. Some brands are even leading the charge of cognitive analytics, which use facial recognition software and security cameras to detect who a customer is when they walk into a store. The system can then provide customer service and sales recommendations to associates in the store.
However, cloud technology isn’t without its challenges. At the top of the list is dealing with multiple sources of data and turning it into formats that can be analyzed by the right technology. Data needs to be tested for reliability, and not using enough data can lead to incorrect conclusions. However, as machine learning grows and more companies adopt the practice, the challenges should subside.
If you’re interested in using machine learning, James recommends considering if you have as much information as you can get about your customers. If not, gather data sets from inside and outside the company. Consider also what decisions your company makes that aren’t data driven and try to incorporate data into everything you do. Lastly, think about what you want to know next—there’s likely a machine learning and analytics solution to any problem.
With innovative technology like the cloud and machine learning, the entire customer experience can be transformed to create a personalized approach with amazing results.
With more than 20 million customers a year, Bridgestone Tires is well verse in customer interactions. The world’s largest tire and rubber company operates more than 2,000 retail stores around the world, as well as an extensive commercial tire business. So how does the company stay on top of the ever-changing world of customer experience, especially with so many customers involved?
For Phillip Dobbs, CMO of Bridgestone Americas Tires Operations, it starts with knowing the customer. Since tires are something everyone needs at some point, Bridgestone customers fall into numerous personas and can be focused on anything from price to safety. Departments within the organization share their insights and research so everyone, especially marketing, can best understand the customer.
Two of the main areas where Bridgestone focuses on the customer experience are in the store and via social media. Most customer interactions happen in a retail location, so the focus is on creating an experience that answers customers’ questions and is helpful and enjoyable. The customer experience is even a major consideration as marketing function when bring new products to market. Each retail store is given the power to make decisions when working with dissatisfied customers and can generally solve a problem as it sees fit, within the general guidelines of the company. As a whole, Bridgestone has a guarantee to make things right as quickly as possible.
And although Bridgestone tries for a great customer experience every time, it doesn’t always happen, especially with so many customers. Instead of writing a letter to the CEO like people used to do, customers now take to social media to address their concerns and bad experiences. Bridgestone contracts with a service provider to monitor social media for any potential issues, which it then addresses itself or notifies the proper store or department. In one example, the social media monitoring company saw a tweet from an unhappy customer who was sitting in a Bridgestone waiting area. The company was able to call the store directly and let the manager know about the unhappy customer. The manager came out to talk to the customer and update her on the progress of her service, which greatly improved her experience. As we get immersed in emails and social media, we often lose sight of personal communication, which can be one of the most valuable customer service skills. Bridgestone also takes a proactive marketing approach on social media, especially when it comes to building brand loyalty and partnering with other organizations.
At Bridgestone, maintaining loyal customers and developing new customers is a constant discussion. To do this, the company stays focused on the future of the customer experience and the role technology can play. By being strategic in which systems and technologies it uses, the company can maintain a great customer experience in the most efficient ways possible.
Lisa Lisson, president of FedEx Express Canada, knows the importance of customer experience. As a leader of more than 6,000 employees, her goal is to help them deliver the best possible customer service solutions. Meeting customer expectations wins business, but exceeding expectations leads to customer loyalty, which is the ultimate goal of FedEx Canada, even in the changing world of customer experience.
There have no doubt been changes in how we work, especially in the shipping business, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is still the customer experience. To stay on top on current trends and new technology, companies need to be constantly aware of the customer experience they are providing. It can be tempting to implement new tactics quickly, such as apps and mobile programs, but if they don’t match or exceed the current customer experience, they should go back to the drawing board. The growth of e-commerce and social media has greatly changed how many customers interact with brands due to their increased amount of online shopping and the ability to get goods around the world. Brands who embrace customer experience, like FedEx Canada, know that customers want to communicate with companies in their method of choice, which is why many companies have seen huge growth in chatting and other online communication.
One of the reasons FedEx Canada has been so successful in exceeding customer expectations is because of their corporate culture. Lisa spends much of her time interacting with employees because she believes a good leader has to get out from behind the desk and burn shoe leather. Many of her best ideas come from interacting with employees and going out on sales calls with customers. Employees are more likely to be motivated to build customer loyalty and have a great experience when they are invested in the company and feel valued. Because FedEx Canada employees feel they are part of the team through trust and respect, they deliver on impeccable service to customers. FedEx Canada gives every employee a “toolbox” they can use to give employees a great experience. Building off the culture is an internal program called the Purple Promise. Posters cover the company’s call centers reminding employees to make every FedEx experience outstanding for the customers as a way to build loyalty.
Companies that are successful at evolving with the customer experience spend a lot of time and resources measuring their success because they know they live and die by the customer experience. At FedEx Canada, that involves periodically gathering employee representatives from all areas of the customer experience and talking about what can be done in each area to improve the process. Those meetings help management see the entire process and empower employees to do whatever it takes to please the customer.
Lisa proudly tells the story of an employee who responded to a call from a customer whose package had been lost with special baby formula. When the employee saw the package was in transit but that the customer needed it right away, she called health food stores in the area until she found the formula, then purchased it on her own credit card and arranged for expedited delivery to the customer’s home that evening.
By empowering employees and making the customer experience a vital part of your corporate culture, you can be prepared for industry changes and continue to create exemplary customer experiences.
The consumer experience is transforming, and technology is at the center of it all. One company leading the way is health insurance provider Humana. There are a lot of options to focus on with the customer experience, but according to Geeta Wilson, director of customer experience at Humana, the company looks for where it can make the biggest impact first—by using technology to deliver a better experience to the customers. Humana breaks down its interactions with customers into two categories: assisted and unassisted. Assisted service is when a person needs help to answer their question or perform their task. This is usually done on a phone call or via a chat experience. Unassisted service is when a customer can get the answers they need without any intervention from a customer service representative. To streamline the process and help customers to have a good experience on their own terms, Humana is turning to artificial intelligence. The new Ask Humana tool helps customers get the answers they need by using an online tool similar to a live chat. However, instead of chatting with a human, customers are communicating with a machine that uses trends and previous knowledge to provide the right answers. One area where artificial intelligence tends to lack is with emotional connectivity. Humana has been working on building a better emotional experience by mimicking the connectivity customers have when talking to and chatting with real customer service representatives. There are a number of challenges involved with artificial intelligence, including making sure the information is updated and accurate, that the experience meets customer satisfaction levels, and that the program meets the company’s success metrics. What sets Humana apart in its quest to better the human experience is its approach. The company is focused on finding solutions through rapid experimentation to test their hypotheses. Once a hypothesis is found true, they continue to build on it. Humana starts broad to go narrow by framing the problem, making sure the team has a strong understanding of it, and then framing an experiment to test a solution for the problem. Because artificial intelligence is such an unknown area, the company is in uncharted territory and works to lay out the assumptions and let the results speak. To prove the technology, Humana relies on a number of metrics, including a unique emotional score. Because customers make 70% of their decisions with an emotional response, Humana uses a CPS-style approach to measuring emotion in AI interaction. The company has found that as emotional metrics improve, so do their other success metrics like overall satisfaction and the length of the call. As technology continues to develop, the customer experience will evolve out of necessity. Geeta predicts that advanced machines will be able to analyze data quickly, providing for improved automated processes and customized interactions with customers. Artificial intelligence is just one way that is happening.with customers. Artificial intelligence is just one way that is happening.