By Darima Fotheringham
Bruce Temkin, CCXP, is a Co-Founder &
Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and the Managing Partner of Temkin Group. He is widely viewed as a leading expert in how large organizations build differentiation with customer experience. As the Managing Partner, he consults for leading global companies, is a keynote speaker at top industry events, researches customer experience trends, and is the author of Customer Experience Matters, influential CX blog. Prior to Temkin Group, Bruce spent 12 years with Forrester Research during which time he led the company’s financial services, e-business, and customer experience practices.
I interviewed Bruce Temkin at the 25th Annual Compete Through Service Symposium, where he spoke about Customer Experience and “Tapping Into the Power of Purpose, Empathy, and Memories”.
Q: Today we heard about service innovation from three different speakers. I wanted to ask which of the ideas they shared resonated with you and why?
A: I think a number of them resonated and I won’t go into all of them, they presented great stuff. I think the notion of starting with the customer and working back in was an important theme that showed up across the board. I also really liked the way that Amazon talked about having a very simple metric. They ask: “Were we able to solve your problem?” And I think when you use simplicity in your measurements, it frees up the people in your organization to spend time and feel they can do other things. A lot of the discussion was around how you get that innovation from your employees, because employees are the biggest source of innovation we heard about today. We have to create an environment where they feel comfortable, and feel they have their time and feel empowered. Those were some key takeaways today.
Q: We also heard about trendsetting and how it’s a lonely business, yet “you have to innovate or die”. What are the new trends that service companies cannot afford to miss?
A: To me one of the key trends is simplicity. In this world of complexity we sometimes add things on and make things harder and harder. But if you look at some of the key new innovations, whether it’s Uber or Airbnb, and you look at the models they have, they are very simple. I think the service models have to follow that and become very simple.
Q: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that service companies are facing?
A: They face a lot of problems so probably the biggest to start with is customer expectations are rising. Whether you’re a B2B company or a B2C company, people expect things to happen now, they expect them to be easy. That’s hard to do, especially for companies that are trying to deliver complex services or complex products. I think that’s a challenge. The other challenge continues to be around how you create an environment with your people. I’m a big believer that a lot of the success or failures come not necessarily from the technologies or processes we use but from how we deal with the people we have. How do we get the right people? How do we enable them? And how do we let them loose to deliver the great service we want? To me, the challenge number one is: How do we make sure that we are engaging our people on a path that allows them to deliver the innovations and deliver the service at the level that our customers want into the future.
Q: We hear from companies about a skill gap in the workforce. Is that something that you come across working with different companies? Is there a skill gap and what is it?
A: Well there are lots of skills gaps. One of the key skill gaps that we run into and see all the time is in the area of insights and analytics. There aren’t enough people in what I would consider the hard core analytics. Over the next years many companies are going to increase their use of predictive analytics, text analytics, so we need people who can do that. But the real people we need doing this work are the ones that can balance the analytics with an understanding of the business, people that can bridge the world of deep analytics with the needs and insights of the business. That’s one skill gap.
Another skill gap that people don’t talk about much, but it relates to what I was talking about earlier, is the ability to manage and motivate an employee workforce. Historic of the last several years, we’ve really worked on management skills that are more hard core, people who can manage and drive. But we haven’t created leaders, people who can inspire and people who can communicate, people who can get their people to do better. I think that’s an important skill gap that has to be filled.
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