Do you remember Quality Circles, TQM and CIP? If you do, it’s pretty obvious you cut your professional business process teeth in the Eighties and Nineties. You probably also know of the outstanding work Jan Carlzon did at Scandinavian Airlines, where he turned the Nordic airline around in the early 1980’s.

Carlzon was a Swedish businessman, who gained an MBA way back in 1967, and after working his way up to become the group CEO in 1981, Scandinavian was losing $17M per year, and even worse, had an appalling customer reputation for being late. By 1982, Carlzon had turned the airline reputation around and it had become known for its punctuality; in fact it was the most punctual European airline of all by the end of 1982.

What Carlzon did was put the customer first, and look at the business and its constituent processes from a customer perspective. He regarded every interaction with a customer as a “moment of truth” where the customer response could be “Fantastic!”, “It was OK.” or “Yuck!”

This became known as the “Outside-In Approach” where the focus was on how the customer perceived you and then making changes to improve that customer perception.

The traditional way of thinking was to establish customer satisfaction metrics centered on the employee. This metrics-based approach relies on the tenet that “you get the behavior you measure,” but underlying this was the (mis)understanding of actual customer behavior and perception. If a service call is resolved within 10 minutes, the customer has fast, first resolution – the staffer resolved the customer issue with one call and promptly, therefore the customer must be satisfied.

Except we now know this is not the case.

Customer experience and customer satisfaction are very different, and while the customer may have had a good experience with their problem resolution, it does not mean they are satisfied with the service delivered.

Maya Angelou expresses the sentiment best, “people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” So, returning to Carlzon’s moments of truth, we are moving away from metrics based on how an employee behaved to metrics based on delivering insight into customer satisfaction.

This brings us to the customer journey, and the objective of delivering an optimal customer experience AND satisfaction. Metrics based on employee actions and performance are not suitable here, where the moments of truth are indeed a collection of touch points that together result in a great customer experience.

Each of the customer experience metrics should be refined and tested, and this is also a reiterative process too. We should also question whether the experiential metrics we are using to measure customer experience and satisfaction are truly appropriate. In practical terms, we are no longer trying to measure what we can see, but instead are seeking to measure the intangible, emotional, how our customer feels about us.

About Josh Yeager, COO

As HighGear’s COO, Josh is responsible for managing the Product Development, Professional Services, and Customer Support teams. His eye for detail and quality are what drive the company forward in its pursuit of excellence.
He’s been at HighGear since the very beginning, helping to build it from the ground up as its co-founder. First, he was responsible for leading product design, but as the company and his experience grew, he took on more management responsibilities, eventually becoming HighGear’s Chief Operating Officer.
He’s a graduate of the University of Maryland. Prior to HighGear, Josh worked on veterinary pharmaceutical reference software and custom business applications.
He’s married to his beautiful wife, Tara, with whom he has four children. In his free time, Josh loves nothing more than enjoying a good book.

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