Improving the Customer Experience: An Interview with Michel Falcon

Pete Abilla

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On May 13, 2013
Last modified:July 15, 2013


Interview with Michel Falcon, a customer experience management consultant. He shares his thoughts on how to improve the customer experience and how to enhance for loyalty and retention.

We’re very pleased to have Michel Falcon share with us his thoughts on how to create brands people admire. Michel Falcon is a customer experience management consultant. In other words, he helps organizations build world class customer experience program and strategies. The ROI that he provides organizations is organic growth through repeat and referral business. He helps organizations become admired 1. | | @michelfalcon

1. Hi Michel, can you share a little bit about yourself and how you came to focus your career on the customer experience?

In 2003, I was accepted into a great university in Vancouver, Canada. After my second year, I was at a crossroads because I didn’t know what I wanted to excel in. I knew I wanted to learn how to grow businesses, I just didn’t know in what field. Should I go into sales, marketing, pr? I didn’t know.

After a conversation with my grandfather, who was a successful entrepreneur in Lima, Peru, he said, ‘go out and be the master of customer service.’ He gave me evidence of how his business grew simply by devoting all of his efforts to earning true customer loyalty. That was the tipping point in my career.

I ‘postponed’ my business administration degree to go find a company that grew from nothing to something admired. Shortly after my hunt to find an organization I could contribute to I found 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I started off in the call centre as a frontline employee and worked my way up the Operations side of the business. It was there that I learned about Net Promoter Score and many other great customer focused initiatives. Together, we built an admired customer experience strategy.

Today, I operate Falcon Consulting Group, a customer experience management agency based in Vancouver, BC. We help organizations build the right strategies to ensure they are delivering amazing service, earning customer loyalty and growing their revenue and profits. I’m also a partner in Instarferral, a software that systematizes the way small businesses gather testimonials and collect referrals. Lastly, I travel often to attend businesses conferences where I speak about customer/employee experience and customer loyalty.

2. As you know, there are many firms adopting NPS. What, in your view, are the right ingredients for an effective NPS Program? And, what does success look like? Is there anything beyond the score?

The #1 ingredient is ‘organizational adoption.’ Everyone from the CEO down to the newest front-line employee must know what NPS is and how it is calculated. Not only this, they must also understand the purpose of the program. It’s very easy to tell someone ‘what’ to do but the value is understanding ‘why’ we must adopt NPS. Part of the beauty of NPS is its simplicity. You don’t need to be a black belt in six sigma or have a MBA to understand it. Organizations are guilty of putting together a NPS program and harboring the data with their senior level executives. Share the data and learn! NPS is a great way to remove silos in a business.

Another key ingredient is to audit your program internally regularly. I’m currently working with an organization who had a NPS program operating for five years however they never completed an audit. What we found was that all of their data was skewed. Their score was not accurate, their comments were being categorized incorrectly. It was a disaster and they were making businesses decisions off of their skewed data.

The success does not lie within the score. I have a saying, “the score is for the score board, the comments are for the playbook.” What I mean by this is, yes, your score is important because it’s your thermometer but the value lies within the comments. By focusing on what your customers say you will be able to make educated businesses decisions.

To give you a concrete example, a client of ours found that 19% of their ‘detractors’ were caused because of the packaging of their product. They reviewed all the data, held a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting and redesigned the packaging WITH their customers rather than in isolation. It is a world class case study of working WITH your customers not AGAINST them. We look forward to tracking these exact same detractors and see when they return and at what rates. This is the ROI of NPS.

3. In terms of organizational structure within a large company, where (in your experience) would it make the most sense for a customer experience group to belong?

I answer this question once a day, at least. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all answer. However, for the most part I believe it should sit within the Operations department. I say this because if the organization is structured well the OPS team should be in collaboration with all other functions/departments within the business.

Please keep in mind that EVERYONE in the organization have their role in the customers experience with the brand, it’s not a way of doing business . . . it’s the only way.

4. During your time at 1-800-GOT-JUNK, the firm quickly became an example of a customer focused company. How was 1-800-GOT-JUNK able to do that and how did the NPS program aid in its transformation?

The proof is in the numbers. When an organization is growing organically through repeat business and referrals you must have a laser focus on the customer experience. Think about it, what drives referrals and repeat business? The only way we grow organically is by delivering world class service. I’ve never heard someone say, “Michel, you should use ‘company ABC’ they have an amazing logo!” I hear, “Michel, you should use ‘company ABC’ they have amazing customer service, they took care of me and I trust them!”

NPS gave 1-800-GOT-JUNK? an incredible amount of customer intelligence (CI) to make operationally sound business decisions. Rather than making anecdotal assumptions, we were able to step back, remove ourselves as invested team members and make decisions based on what was best for the customer. We are all guilty of being in a management meeting and saying, “I think we should do it . . .” or “No, we should we doing this . . .” Who are we? Often, we aren’t the customer. NPS gives customer intelligence that is invaluable.

5. In terms of metrics, what other customer experience measurements are available that the audience might consider in their own customer experience programs? Are there any that you would consider to be a complement to NPS?

Everyone needs to know their customer retention metrics. I’d bet that most organizations have no idea how often their customers complain and for what reasons. Sure, we may have an idea but we need raw data.

At 1-800-GOT-JUNK? we built a Complaint Resolution System that allowed us to escalate, categorize and resolve customer complaints in one business day. It was an outstanding success! We were able to reduce system wide customer complaints by 33% in one quarter. That is a number I’m still very proud we were able to accomplish.

Customer retention is the carrot cake of business . . . we all know it exists but no one wants anything to do it with.

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  1. satya says

    Great Q&A. I really like every points made by Michel. The one that caught my eye is:..customer experience is not a way of doing business..its the only way.
    On customer retention, I am on an opinion that customer retention does not equal customer loyalty. In a monopolistic environment, customer have no choice but to seek a required service from a monopoly, however bad the customer service is.

  2. Michel Falcon says

    Hi Satya-

    Thank you for your comment. I agree with your monopoly reference even in an oligopoly. However in a ‘fair game’ industry customer retention is crucial.

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