The April Experience @Home

More than a year ago, challenged by Sampson Lee to write something about Customer Effort for SME’s, I wrote this article about it, taking a restaurant in the Madrid mountains as an example. I tried to prove that even for SME´s, evaluating the customer journey and finding areas of improvement on customer effort is useful. Now during my recent holiday in Vietnam I remembered this post, while ha in diner in a restaurant called Home in Hanoi, it inspired me to write another post about a real dining experience.

We booked this to have a special diner on the last evening of an extraordinary holiday, encouraged by the excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. Since Tripadvisor never fails me, I was looking forward to something special. A place called “Home” implies a very bold brand promise. How can you be making feel everyone at home when this is such a personal sentiment? How can you live up to such high expectations?

This is what I experienced: We made a reservation for 21:00h, and when we arrived the restaurant was full, both terrace as well as indoors, the atmosphere cozy and happy, and we were asked to wait a bit while they prepared our table. This gave us time to observe the place, glance at its history via the menu (which has a newspaper format, explaining the history of the restaurant and the dishes ) and have a glimpse of other tables, dishes being served, the way the waiters moved around and tended the tables, etcetera. This waiting period was not annoying at all, it was adding to the notion of having chosen the right place. Expectations soured.

Once seated, our waiter introduced himself to us: “my name is April, I am here to serve you, please take your time to read through the menu and please ask me if you need any help.” Off he went, giving us time to study the menu and the wine list at our own pace. After having spent 3 weeks in Vietnam and eating local food e very day, it was not too difficult to choose what we wanted, and when April came by to ask if we were ready to order, we did so.

The food was excellent, and so was the wine. You can read all about this in my review in tripadvisor. But what was more important to me than the food, and the mean reason for writing this post, was April, and his colleagues. They made the dining experience memorable. April and his colleagues made us feel truly @home, they were simply themselves, authentic, funny, respectful. In my opinion any experience should be like, when you feel you’re special.

After ordering desert, we were asked to fill out a survey. It was short and concise, and from a professional point of view I was now very pleased too!

I gave good feedback, as you can see in the picture, and left a comment (a short hint to other customers: many of you are not bothered to do this, but this is so important for the persons who serve you!).

After collecting the survey and bringing our desert, April came by to say goodbye, he had to rush off. It was only then that I realized how quickly time had passed and that it was already way passed closing time, but no-one ever mentioned the time, there was no pressure at all to finish our diner.

When I think of all those other occasions that I´ve been asked to ask to fill out a survey with the promise of it being quick and easy, and later ending up annoyed and bored, I once more realized how important the touchpoint “survey” is on the customer journey!

As a last gesture before he left, April handed us a card with a personalized message. Again, we were delighted by the small but personal gesture. Why don’t we do this more often?

April has had a big role in making the evening memorable and inspires me enormously professionally. By delivering authentic experiences he contributed to the brand image of @home, of Vietnam and of himself. The people factor in CX is without doubt the most powerful one. Thank you April!

nota de prensa BEX 2018

BEX 2018: Press release

The new Labour Director General at the Ministry of Labour, Migrations and Social Security, Mr. Ángel Allué Buiza, is taking part in the IE Business School presentation of the First Employee Experience Barometer held by the Business School HR Center and the consultants enEvolución and Buljan & Partners

80% of the nearly 8000 employees that have participated in BEX 2018 positively value the efforts made by their companies to improve the quality of their experience as employees

  • 80% of employees rate their company’s effort to improve employee experience as 5 or above, with an average mark of3 out of 10.
  • 40% of the employees from the companies are promoters and actively recommend their company.
  • Over 90% of workers consider working relationships, work conditions and salaries as very important in their experiences as employees.
  • When it comes to gender, females tend to be more demanding and are more concerned with their company’s initiatives. While males, especially more senior employees, are collectively more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work. The recommendation rate among women is 14 versus 21 for men.
  • Years lived are more important than years employed; Employee experience deteriorates more with age than with longevity. Over 20 years of employment, emotion decreases by 12 points, while with age it only decreases by 6 points.
  • Face-to-face departments and technical departments are the chalk and cheese of Employee Experience. Management departments which are more involved with personal and customer decisions tend to have a better employee experience, more recommendations and higher levels of satisfaction. The complete opposite can be said for technical departments, such as IT.  
  • Which sectors; employees from the Supply and Distribution, Commerce and Retail sectors are those who most recommend their companies.
  • A good employee experience is not free…the better the turnover, the better the employee experience: Companies with a turnover of more than 300 Me have a better employee experience, they value increased effort more (HR effort: 6.4 and 7.1) and they have better positive feeling ratings (+7%-10%).

Madrid, September 2018. – Backed by the IE Business School’s HR Center, and the consultants enEvolución and Buljan & Partners Consulting, the Employee Experience Barometer (BEX) was presented today. It is an innovative study that aims to help companies learn about and improve their employees’ experiences in order to better achieve corporate objectives.

In the words of Mrs. Pilar Rojo, Professor and IE Business School HR Center Director: “The data collected from the BEX 2018 is in some respects revealing and in other aspects supports the data collected on other indicators from the HR Center. For example, from what the almost 8000 participating employees tell us, while training can never be disregarded, assessment systems need to be revised to make them clearer, more on-going, and more objective-based. Development, recognition and balance are key for engagement while communication and the breaking down of barriers are perhaps still further required in HR. The BEX 18 conclusions allow companies to localize and analyse the critical moments in their employees’ journeys to both attract and keep talent as well as improving their reputation and brand value”.     

 According to Elena Méndez Díaz-Villabella, Director at enEvolución and Raquel Calleja, Partner at Buljan & Partners: This innovative Employee Experience measurement allows us to more clearly identify employees’ daily experiences, what is happening where, to who, how people feel, and what are the most important factors for workers. If companies measure and interpret the experiences in their organizations, the data provided can contribute towards more efficient resolutions being designed for the most important elements. This will lead to better work, better commitment and loyalty and better overall results.   

Mrs. Teresa Martín-Retortillo, IE Executive Education President, Mrs. Pilar Rojo, Professor and IE Business School HR Center Director, Mrs. Elena Méndez, enEvolución Director and Mrs. Raquel Calleja, Partner and Head of Employee Experience at Buljan & Partners Consulting explained the results and the benefits of the BEX Barometer for companies willing to actively listen to their employees. This pioneering analysis localizes and interprets the key factors for the improvement of employee experience.

 The Employee Journey displays the 6 different phases that professionals pass through in companies: hiring, onboarding, growth, consolidation, change and exit.

 Identifying these phases and their Moments of Truth (MoT) enables companies to apply the necessary initiatives to improve their employees’ experiences, adding even more to the value of the work carried out by the Human Resources department.

 Among the new techniques provided by BEX, the measuring of the 24 significant moments during the 6 key phases of an employee journey within an organization is particularly noteworthy: Hiring, onboarding, growth, consolidation, change and exit. Throughout these phases the employee develops their potential, their relationship and their loyalty with a company.

The BEX analysis explores new factors, such as the “gains” and “pains”, as well as exploring the main indicators that influence the profits and reputation of a company.

BEX provides a comprehensive vision of what is happening in a company through the real life experiences of the protagonists, allowing companies to optimize both their human and economic resources. The work of the Human Resources Department continues to advance in terms of measuring the development of people and companies. In this regard, the innovative and complete analysis provided by BEX is a strategic tool for the differential development of a company.

Indicators measured by BEX. New terms for a comprehensive analysis.

  • eNPS: Employee Engagement Index. The most powerful reputational tool around. What do employees say about the company? How is the company seen on the job market? How is it seen in the sector, by competitors and society as a whole?
  • HR Effort: This is the effort index of the company to improve the experience of its employees. How does it perceive and value its workers? This indicator will determine a worker’s scale of satisfaction or frustration, which will subsequently impact on their work performance.
  • StEx: The feelings that employees have towards a company. The BEX analysis uses 10 different descriptions, such as happy, disappointed, bored and motivated, determining how an employee really feels about their day-to-day challenges.

HR Center IE Business School à

Founded in 2002 as an academic centre that creates and boosts people management knowledge, it aims to support HR managers in the carrying out of their professional duties. Its main objective is to be a creativity and knowledge exchange forum within the different areas of this spectrum, with a special emphasis on emerging issues that may soon affect people management capabilities.

Buljan & Partners Consulting à

Expert consultants specialising in Customer Centric Management (CCM) and Customer Experience (CX). Since 2002 they have worked to help their clients improve the relationships and the experiences of their customers, in both B2C and B2B business models. Buljan & Partners Consulting pays special attention to the customer experience, specifically the feelings and motivation of customers, ensuring the success of those projects where human nature is the best business strategy.

enEvolución à

A network of senior management and organizational and professional development experts, who have been offering companies new people management outlooks and solutions since 2006, with a strong focus on Human Centered Design. They develop projects to help build companies that people want to be part of and that are good places to work, to develop and to achieve even better results.



metrics customer experience

Which Metrics do Spanish Companies use to Measure Customer Experience?

This is surely the most pressing question for those in charge of measuring Customer Experience. The information has been obtained from the “First maturity research on brand experience in Spanish companies” which we carried out in April 2018, with the Leading Brands of Spain Forum ( and ESADE.

Here is some information on the metrics used by Spanish companies to quantify the experiences of their clients…

  • Surprisingly, there are companies who claim to have no metric in place for Customer Experience.
  • Surveys, Focus Groups and Mystery Shopping are the Customer Opinion tools most used (39% claim to use them).
  • The NPS® (Net Promoter Score) indicator is no longer just a trend, it is now implemented in various companies, 21% of those companies surveyed in the research claim to have this metric incorporated in their business. In addition to the NPS®, other indicators are also used which measure the Level of Consumer Discontent or Net Promotion.
  • Operational indicators are used such as returning customers, renewal rates, increases in sales and invoices (8%).
  • The complaints index is seen as a must in order for a company to know where it is going wrong.
  • Related to Customer Experience are Reputation and Employee Experience Indicators, such as Great Place to Work, which is used by 8% of companies.
  • Social networks are a great source of information which must be analysed and managed.
  • Marketing Science is customer information analysis tool for the implementation of future improvements.

It must be said that there are a significant number of indicators used behind the scenes in Spanish companies, and it is pleasing to know that they want to understand more about our experiences and our interactions as customers.

However, the key is if these companies are capable of digesting such large amounts of data, and if they can use it to implement actions for future improvements. What we see in our day-to-day work as specialist consultants is the speed in which data is captured can be overwhelming, and the priority of companies, and the speed with which they address or improve customer suggestions is much slower, frequently being left aside in an odd piece of paperwork.

While it is true that there are no good or bad indicators, our recommendation is for every business to define indicators which provide them with the most value when making decisions, preventing this procedure from becoming a negative experience triggered by the company’s eagerness to gain this information.

Written by Miguel Sanz for Buljan & Partners Consulting

Miguel Sanz is a Customer Experience Management expert and has experience in CRM and Project Management in various different industries dating back to 2009. Find out more about Miguel:

Access the full report here:

Take a look at our recommendations and find your own Customer Experience route here

customer journey Spain

Half of Spanish Companies do not have a Defined Customer Journey

Here, we continue to provide data collected in the “First maturity research on brand experience in Spanish companies”, spearheaded by Buljan & Partners Consulting, Leading Brands of Spain Forum ( and  ESADE.

Although the research measured the maturity of experiences in different areas, such as strategy, HR, procedures, metrics etc., in today’s post we will delve deeper into the data related to the maturity of the Customer Journey.

The title of the article is resoundingly clear: half of companies do not have a defined Customer Journey. The Customer Journey is understood as being the representation of all the contact points that a customer has with a company, being defined from their point of view, and not from a procedural point of view.

The research data would appear to suggest that the glass is half full, which ordinarily would be good news, however, there are still 50% of companies which are yet to incorporate Customer Experience as a differentiating factor into the Customer Journey. This is significant as the Customer Journey is a key tool in Customer Experience, and it is the foundation from which internal procedures can further develop.

The second question on Customer Journey arising from the research asks is if a company has a specific Customer Journey for each related sector. The data collected is less decisive than for the first question but is just as meaningful as it shows a level of superior maturity. A little over a third of companies have a specific sectoral definition, which helps provide their customers with more personalised experiences, gaining their loyalty and increasing their trust and value in the company.

The importance of the Customer Journey within the Company

In conclusion, I would say that Spanish companies have already invested significant time in implementing actions to improve Customer Experience, and this is reflected in the defining of foundations and the work carried out within their sectors. I would also add that, due to not finding any other related data in Europe, Spain appears to be one of the countries that is most keen on the implementation of Customer Journey and Customer Experience initiatives, though there is still work to do in this regard.

Written by Miguel Sanz for Buljan & Partners Consulting

Miguel Sanz is a Customer Experience Management expert and has experience in CRM and Project Management in various different industries dating back to 2009. Find out more about Miguel:

Access the full report here:

Do you need to define your company’s Customer Journey? Find out more about our Customer Journey service

An intern´s thoughts on Buljan & Partners´ culture

By Maite Eraña Salmeron

We could call it a stroke of luck, really. The placement process was rather ambiguous, which is why I still can´t believe how well this position suits me. I am a recent graduate from Boston University School of Hospitality Administration and I came to Madrid to complete a study abroad program that includes an internship and coursework components. You can already tell I have had a positive experience, but the real question I hope to answer with this blog post is the following:

How is the commitment to customer experience expressed within the walls of this leading consulting firm?

I should start by explaining more thoroughly why I find my position here so valuable. In my opinion, to be an intern means you learn to actively develop any company´s most valued competitive advantage: employee commitment. As an intern you often ask yourself nervously, “Will I be doing something meaningful? Do I have enough experience to be here?” And while it´s absolutely true that you want to quickly get adjusted to doing your job effectively, I would not underestimate the opportunity to embrace the ambiguity and take in how the company makes a difference in the lives of its employees. This time is crucial because the newness can help you be objective and honest about your expectations and your employer´s expectations. In this competitive business environment, employee commitment is not only the result of the appropriate strategies and support systems, but that of each employee internalizing how he/she can encourage intentional care of all stakeholders. As I reflect on my internship experience, I keep in mind a question I like to share with my employer:

How will you help me be a better version of myself today?

As an intern the most crucial thing I can do is to make a habit to always be learning, because this is how I challenge my employer to think differently, to embrace change, and to want to invest in me as much as I want to invest in them so that we may both be successful.

So how does Buljan & Partners respond to this?

I think the most impressive way they address customer experience is through their commitment to empower others. The Madrid team has a culture dedicated to raising the standards within the individuals who work here so that the firm can be innovative and adept to the opportunities that come with change and diversity. Their expertise in customer experience recommendations is in fact an initiative they first live by example within the office. We could talk about all the details that help them be so successful, but I would like to focus on a few ways in which they have impacted me the most, and through which they have addressed my previous perspective on being an intern.

Since the minute I got here, I have been considered a valuable team member. My main responsibility is to support the team of consultants with their projects, which involves a variety of tasks including developing offers, creating presentations, translating documents, etc. They have made me feel proud of the experience I have, and they have given me an opportunity to apply such knowledge. There´s a great balance where I am encouraged to share my insights, as well as to receive guidance to apply them to the established frameworks.

The team wants to collaborate with me and they express that often. This is not just encouraging, but it allows me to connect with each team member more personally. As a result when it comes to networking, the relationships I am learning to build here take on a whole new level of depth. The relationship is valued for more than what each party can provide; it is based on bringing the best out of people and seeking through collaboration to make a difference that is tangible and influential in our businesses.

There is also an emphasis to communicate honestly and often.

More than one person a day will check in with me to ask how I am handling the workload, to offer me an opportunity to collaborate, as well as to get to know me. I find such awareness for a team member the first of many intentional ways to foster trust and loyalty. Buljan & Partners also offers great flexibility to express our ideas, which promotes our personal responsibility to lead and keep each other accountable. These efforts may seem simple, but their effects are lasting and is what I will remember most as I continue to develop professionally.

In conclusion, my experience at Buljan & Partners has been one of profound impact.

I can confidently say that what they do every day for their clients only scratches the surface in comparison to the dedication to customer experience they foster at the core. They take seriously how to invest in their own employees so that they may grow as people. Customer experience is an attitude; one of servant leadership that must be lived fully in order to make a difference, and one that I am grateful to experience so passionately while working abroad.

recomendaciones aerolineas

My top 10 Recommendations to Implement in Airlines


I would like to share with you some actions that, in my opinion, could be implemented in airline companies and that do not involve great costs, are easy to implement and aim to improve the customer experience:

1. Bereavement fare:

in the event of a family death and given that the tickets bought the day before are really expensive. In this possible contingency, passengers should have the option of a tariff adapted to their situation, not implying a great cost. This would show a great interest in the customers and their circumstances. The company could request written proof, and it would be a tariff similar to the “large family” one.

2. What if you are flying the day of your birthday?

If the company detects that you are flying the day of your birthday, wouldn’t it be a good idea to offer you to travel in business class or to receive an extra drink? The crew could also sing happy birthday to you! (It is not necessary that they look like Friday’s waiters) Airline companies collect a lot of information from us, so they could take advantage of that to offer a greater experience for the user.

3. Bottle of water for loyal clients.

First, considering that Cabify provides a bottle of water to each customer for a few euros, an airline could think about providing the same service to every customer with a loyalty account. In my perspective, this could be a good idea to attract new customers, apart from satisfying the current ones.

4. Eliminate unnecessary procedures.

Does the duty-free make any sense? Almost no one buys there. Additionally, I received a survey to complete each time that I fly, being a frequent flyer. Finally, don’t you find senseless that the business passengers get on the plane before a queue of 150 people? Tell me that I am not the only one.

5. Including new procedures.

For example, on a connecting flight that is delayed, the company could facilitate the plane change picking up the passengers in the runway and taking them to the other plane, although the suitcase arrives the day after (good idea in Lufthansa). The crew assistance is also susceptible to be improved when passengers get out of the plane, we usually see that the contact with the members of the crew is restricted to the flying hours. In KLM I could see two members of the crew getting out of the plane and guiding the passengers on their way to the suitcase collecting area or to the airport’s exit.

6. Improving the food service:

  • The food metal trolleys are usually full of blows, they could have a brand-customized cover to add a classy style to the service.
  • In general, food is delivered in a quick way, the service should be provided more calmly, it usually looks like a marathon. In Qatar Airways the service is excellent, I was really surprised with their food delivery.
  • The coffee is delivered right after the food. A second round of drinks (mainly bottles of water) would be appropriate given that the passengers are normally thirsty afterwards.
  • Wouldn’t it be a good idea to reach an agreement with Nespresso or Costa for the coffee?
  • In long-haul flights, if you are in the last row you get the food that is left.
  • The bread is usually not likely to be eaten.

7. Cleaner toilets:

When I am on a plane, I have the feeling that toilets are not completely cleaned, usually there is toilet paper or liquids on the floor. A more frequent review process should be implemented by the crew, although I feel that this is not their job or that they lack proactivity.

 8. Children reserved zone:

At the end of the plane, children altogether, in seats close to the toilets to avoid disturbing the rest of the passengers. As far as I know, just one company has carried out this strategy.

9. Platform to get to know the crew:

To increase the interest of the passengers for the company before the flight. It can be a reason to get a better connexion with the crew and to facilitate the interaction during the flight.

10. Make communications more attractive and practical:  

We receive emails based on offers, but nothing on experiences or on the best price on the dates to travel. I get offers all the time and I don’t think that everyone is traveling every weekend to Porto, Paris, London…

vulnerable customer

The vulnerable customer as a type of customer

Written by Lisa Rottmann for Buljan & Partners Consulting

In this blog you’ll find ideas, support and references for exceeding your client’s expectations and consistently improving their experience. But what happens when customer experience theories fail? when the customer does not choose you? does not buy your products or services or simply doesn’t take them seriously? How can we exceed their expectations if they have a negative predisposition towards us and, due the pressure, they’re just not themselves?

How is the client vulnerable?

We get queries from companies who tell us that traditional marketing has been ineffective and even detrimental to their image. While they understand that exceeding customer expectations is profitable and rewarding, they don’t believe that the theory is applicable to their reality. That reality is the world of companies and organizations that deal with “vulnerable customers”.

At some point in our lives we will all become vulnerable customers when we have to face painful, difficult and complex situations: being admitted to hospital, losing our autonomy when we can no longer live alone, facing life-altering situations that can change our future, depending on social assistance or suffering the loss of a loved one.

In places like hospitals, nursing homes, adult day care and funeral homes, emotions run high. Tension, despair, sadness, pain, relief, familiarity, ire, anger, guilt, confusion, loneliness and gratitude are just some of them. All these emotions are present in the minds of the customer who comes into contact with an employee.

In addition to the main source of anguish and pain, the vulnerable customer may also feel hurt by the way their situation was handled or how they were treated during the first 72 hours of the process. For example, this type of secondary harm can be caused by the cold and impersonal treatment they receive from the professionals taking care of them. The lack of clear information on the steps that must be taken or not knowing how to deal with certain situations.

The importance of knowing how to care for a vulnerable client

Of course, the key to success for companies that deal with “vulnerable customers” is all about the corporate culture and the way in which their employees assume the role of supporting people in tremendously difficult, varied and unpredictable situations. We understand that in the lives of these professionals, every relationship, every situation and every environment is complex. They have been trained to keep a certain distance, to the extent possible, so that they are not affected by the customer’s experience. What we are seeing is that making vulnerable clients a priority gives meaning to their day-to-work and makes them feel good about themselves. The trick is that the treatment must apply to the particular customer and adapt his/her situation, emotions, memories or beliefs, which are as varied as the people themselves.

Most of the people who deal with vulnerable customers know them well and have a vocation for their chosen profession. We advise managers to give them a vote of confidence to assume responsibility and make decisions autonomously. The pride of giving back to society and the customers’ gratitude, combined with the employer’s vote of confidence, provides a strong foundation for giving their all every day and overcoming the difficult moments they spend with vulnerable customers. In the end, companies are really just PEOPLE helping PEOPLE.

Lisa Rottmann is Managing Consultant in Buljan & Partners Consulting. Lisa is expert in strategy consulting in Customer Experience transformation projects and technology.

customer emotions

Managing emotions in stressful situation for clients

Written by Miguel Sanz for Buljan & Partners Consulting

The words “managing customers’ emotions” are tremendously attractive to companies and there is no doubt that they are key to establishing an emotional bond with customers.

What do companies do to manage customer emotions?

Let’s take a look at the essence of this topic, without delving too deeply into sophisticated but not so useful explanations. How do companies manage customers’ emotions? Are they able to detect and manage stressful situations when they occur?

The answer I’m about to give should not be taken as the last word on the subject (it is not in my humble nature to dogmatize). In my experience, many companies invest resources in training their employees (DISC or Enneagram of Personality) in order to identify the behaviors or the personality types of their customers. This enables them to better understand their customers and teaches them how to adapt to customers in order to more deftly manage the customer’s experience. It is also true that many companies do not invest in this type of training because they don’t believe in it, they don’t have the resources or they think that their employees already possess this knowledge.

Emotions management training for employees

I applaud the companies that invest in their employees to teach them how to manage their own emotions and those of their customers. But I’d like to reflect on three situations that lead me to believe that there is much more to it than just training your employees. In business management, it is very important to ensure that everything customer-related is coordinated in the same direction.

I’m going to explain how I felt in three different situations that were somewhat critical for me:

  • Some time ago, as a customer of Mutua Madrileña I called to cancel my car insurance and at the end of the process the agent asked me if I would like to take out health insurance with them, to which I replied that I was leaving the company. I was breaking off relations with the company and they were trying to get me to stay on by selling me a different product, without understanding how disenchanted I was.
  • Subsequently, as a Direct Seguros customer, I was involved in a minor accident due to a wrong turn taken by the other driver. I called Direct Seguros on the spot to find out how to proceed and although the telephone service was good (still in “shock” from the accident), the agent asked me if I wanted to supplement my coverage or something to that effect. I replied that at that moment I was not in a position to think about purchasing anything and that I just wanted to relax and try to resolve the accident that had just left me without the use of my vehicle.
  • As a “superfan” of ING I have to say that on one occasion I went to the ATM of another bank to withdraw money and upon seeing the high commission they charged I decided to cancel the operation. However, at the same time I received a message telling me that I had withdrawn €40 from the ATM and I confirmed that it had been deducted from my account. I called ING immediately (customer service was good as always) and they told me that the operation had been canceled but that the system took a while to update. What puzzled me was that at the end of the call I was asked if I wanted to take out a loan. Obviously, my response was to say, “thank you very much but now is not the time because I need to withdraw cash and I’m in a hurry.” Clearly, they did not know how to identify or manage my level of stress, which at that time was relatively high since I thought I had lost the money I wanted to withdraw due to a computer error or my own mistake.

In all three cases, I was not in the proper emotional state to evaluate whether or not I wanted to take out a loan, supplement my coverage or take out a new policy. In that moment, when my emotional stress level was at a peak, the only thing that mattered was to answer my questions, nothing more. Employees can be trained, but in designing business processes and objectives, everything goes hand in hand and common sense is paramount.

In concluding this post, I would just like to note that all three of these companies have taken some very good steps in the area of customer experience but the situations discussed here should be considered and avoided.

Miguel Sanz is Senior Consultant in Buljan & Partners Consulting. Miguel is Service Line Leader for Customer Experience Management and has experience in CRM and project management across different industries since 2009.

More on Miguel:

Apple, the best customer experience?

Written by Luis Hergueta for Buljan & Partners Consulting

In my opinion, it is difficult to find a remarkable customer experience in product centric sectors. There are some automotive companies with a genuine interest in customers’ concerns, which want to take the basic standards and processes to the next level, and which really care about customers’ needs and concerns.

Is Apple the benchmark for all companies concerning Customer Experience or has it lost importance? Is it still the company conceived by Steve Jobs or has it become a company controlled by marketing?

There is no such thing as the perfect company

As I usually explain in my talks, I believe that the perfect company doesn’t exist. However, there are companies with a nearly perfect customer experience, or that rise again, as great champions (such as Rafa Nadal) do, if their customer experience leaves room for improvement. They overcome their issues to achieve a very high level, that is, they know how to face adversities.

My last experience with Apple was everything but coordinated among departments or omnichannel. They didn’t go the extra mile to surprise the customer.

  1. A poorly trained employee who didn’t know that you can issue invoices to individuals.
  2. The flagship store in Sol didn’t answer the phone nor multiple emails. I received their 1st answer after one week. After 7 emails, they didn’t give me a document indicating “invoice”. They insisted on giving me a ticket, which wasn’t what I was asking for.
  3. Departments that weren’t able to coordinate by phone with the store to issue my invoice correctly. “We are bound hand and foot”, they even told me via email. “The store is the store and the technical support service is the technical support service”, they said. What a great omnichannel coordination!
  4. Overcrowded stores with enormous queues, where they were unable to send a digital invoice by email. “I can’t. Do you want me to scan it with my personal phone?” they replied. “We comply with the law, which requires us to give you a paper invoice”, they added. That’s right, but that isn’t going the extra mile.
  5. When I wanted to file a claim, I was only given one legal form (there are usually 3 carbonless forms) without a self-learning internal format. “We learn from the official one”, they explained. “What if I want to send a claim to Apple?” I asked. They indicated me a post office box address in Cork, Ireland. Shocking.

Their products are exceptional, with a high-quality design, and an excellent hardware and software. Their Apple Care service is also undeniable (in Spain we don’t have their Plus product, which is the one that really pays off), as well as their technical department, which always tries to make sure that your product is in good condition, but is that enough?

It may have been an isolated experience. Unfortunately, it was shocking. From my point of view, not only were they mistaken, but they didn’t know how to react. The points were they failed were:

  • Omnichannel management.
  • Dealing with reasonable customer requests, they should avoid using the “one size fits all” approach.
  • Lack of training.
  • Insufficient resources (overcrowded store).

Is it enough to have one of the best products/technologies? Is it enough to have a spectacular store? Frankly, I don’t think so. People, processes, customer experience, attitude and leadership can change everything.

Luis Hergueta is consultant at Buljan & Partners Consulting and specialist in customer centric marketing. Luis is consultant for customer centric and customer experience projects accross several industries at Buljan since 2011.

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The tower of babel in the Customer Experience

Written by Silvana Buljan for Buljan & Partners consulting

A desperate customer in search of help and solutions often finds himself confronted with complex procedures, incomprehensible sales pitches and decisions made unilaterally in the corporate world. Further still, rather than be lessened, he finds his frustration increases because he fails to receive an acceptable solution. This is an ongoing trend in many companies, even while claiming that the customer experience is the focus of their strategic priority – in today’s world it doesn’t look good if you don’t have a Customer Experience department.

We will use the biblical story of the Tower of Babel to illustrate this problem: “man” wants to be God, reaching as high as the heavens. As punishment, God takes away the universal language spoken and introduces different languages and the chaos caused by the lack of understanding ensues. Finally, “men” end up fighting each other and the tower is abandoned.

Implement customer experience vs. add value

Many times, in the corporate world we make the same mistake as that of the Tower of Babel by seeking to define and implement a customer experience strategy; “I invest in this so that I can be the best in the industry” and, rather than searching for what really adds value for the customer, we seek superficial excellence in methods, metrics and awards to be won.

There is a desire to reach as high as possible simply because there is the belief that customer value is directly correlated with the amount of internal resources used. The reality is that with every stone that I place in my Tower of Babel, I move farther and farther away from my customer. With each rule, guideline, framework or performance target, I achieve exactly the opposite of closeness: disconnection and lack of an emotional connection, which is exactly what the customer wants when looking for a distinctive and memorable experience.

The importance of putting yourself in the customer’s shoes

What is this “emotional connection”? Nothing more and nothing less than putting myself in customer’s shoes, understanding their state of mind in dealings with the organization and conveying that I am actively searching for solutions and am not simply completing tasks to meet my company’s guidelines.

From our point of view, the emotional connection that a company should nurture in the relationship between its employees and its customers can be built on six aspects: empathy, motivation, training, a helpful attitude, commitment and responsibility.

  1. Empathy fosters a “put yourself in the other person’s shoes” attitude and facilitates a better understanding of their point of view. This requires a process of openness in the person who wants to have an empathetic attitude: being open to a point of view other than their own, questioning their own stance and connecting with the person.
  2. Motivation is contagious and fills the customer with the same passion that the employee feels for finding innovative solutions and taking care of the details. It is a very positive emotion that removes all indifference.
  3. Employee training is a basis for establishing a relationship of trust: if the employee has the freedom to break the rules and autonomy to make decisions that ensure an excellent experience, the customer not only recommends the company, but also perceives that it relies on its employees. This is a criterion that is increasingly being demanded by customers.
  4. A helpful attitude is, however, the most powerful tool in making the customer feel that he is more than just a sales transaction and ensures that he isn’t treated like a number. Here the important thing is differentiating between serving and servility, which is in no way liked to a helpful attitude.
  5. The employee’s commitment in fulfilling the promise given to the customer is fundamental in avoiding dissatisfaction. Fulfilling a promise is fundamental for satisfying the customer. For the customer to be committed to a brand requires more than fulfilling the promise: exceed their expectations, because that conveys that the company cares about their interests as a customer.
  6. Responsibility means being educated, prepared and willing to deliver a service in a professional manner and with an exemplary standard of quality. Customers who believe that an employee does not feel responsible for doing his job very well can hardly feel that he is in an environment of trust.

Connecting with the customer through commitment and trust

Applying these six aspects ensures that the Tower of Babel is nothing more than a biblical story and that the company achieves its objective of being close to its customer, being connected with its customer and fostering a relationship built on commitment and trust. The metrics then fade into the background and are understood as a result of the emotional connection and not as the “mathematical” goal.

Silvana Buljan is founding partner of Buljan & Partners Consulting and Service Line leader for Customer Centric Management Leadership. Silvana is a specialist in design and implementation of Customer Centricity, Customer Experience, CRM, Project Management, Organizational Change, and Executive Training & Coaching projects across several industries since 1998.

More info on Silvana:

  • @silvanabuljan

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