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Q&A: Bestselling Author and Customer Experience Guru, Joseph Michelli

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Experience 2016 — the must-attend event for customer-focused leaders — is just around the corner. And as it approaches, we wanted to give you a sneak peek of what’s in store by introducing you to some of our speakers.
To kick off this blog series, we’d like to introduce Joseph Michelli. It’s safe to say that this New York Times bestselling author is customer-obsessed. When he isn’t helping organizations create CX-oriented change, he’s writing books on customer experience leaders like Starbucks, Zappos, and The Ritz-Carlton.
Joseph Michelli headshotAt Experience 2016, Joseph will be joined onstage by Mercedes-Benz USA’s GM of Customer Experience, Harry Hynekamp, for a discussion on the company’s radical CX transformation. But before we steal his thunder, let’s hear from Joseph in his own words:
Why is CX important?
Alas, the days when you could create a sustainable business on the back of a “craveable” set of products is gone! In a truly global marketplace, products are replicated and produced quickly by competitors. Today products are distributed rapidly and ubiquitously. Differences in the benefits and attributes of products also tend to narrow. Even service (getting it right during service delivery) has become a table stake for iconic product-focused brands.
With ease of access to products, mobile technology, instantly available information about products and services, as well as the proliferation of customer reviews on social platforms, a customer empowered revolution has taken place. As part of that revolution, customers have developed an insatiable appetite for effortless relationships with brands that “care for them” and “care about” them. This tectonic shift in consumer expectations makes it imperative to effectively listen, design, and execute experiences that engage and delight customers.
How’s that perception changed across industries?
Most of the research on customer behavior shows that globally, and irrespective of industry, customers want to interact with knowledgeable employees who can address their needs on their first encounter.  They also want to access information quickly, have regular communication through their desired channel, and work with staff members who acknowledge, value, and respect their lifestyle needs.
While there are nuances for business-to-business customers versus direct-to-consumer brands, those differences are often less than most people think. Business buyers (just like direct consumers) want to work with people they can trust and that value their business. I have come to conclude that “all business is personal,” even though the level of personal connection may differ across industries and sectors.
Do you think companies can afford not to be paying attention to CX?
Well the very short answer is “only if a company wants to make very short-term profits.” Let me string together just a couple of empirical findings to support the criticality of differentiation through branded customer experiences:

  • According to the Boston Consulting Group 72% of Millennials say they choose experiences over products.
  • Accenture validates that bad customer experiences (not price) represents the main driver for customer churn.
  • The White House Office of Consumer Affairs reports customers who are happy about the way a problem is resolved, on average tell 4 to 6 people.
  • Bain & Co has shown that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire than retain customers.

What are you looking forward to most about Experience 2016?
Experience 2016 brings together thought leaders, solution providers, and people with a passion for improving the experiences of those they serve. I am looking forward to the conversations, knowledge sharing, and being a part of a community of like-minded individuals.
What do you plan to talk about at Experience 2016?
I will be partnering with Harry Hynekamp (General Manager of Customer Experience at Mercedes-Benz USA – MBUSA) to talk about his company’s multi-year transformational journey.  I consulted for and wrote about MBUSA’s shift from product-focus to customer obsession in my recently released book Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way. Mercedes-Benz USA is a great company to benchmark for insights on how to drive enterprise-wide, customer–centricity by focusing on people, process and technology.
Meet more Experience 2016 speakers and register before tickets sell out!

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