Haunted House of Customer Experience Horrors!

Waaaay back in a galaxy far, far away, I was just learning how to really change cultures into customer centric ones. And I’m talking about doing more than writing a new mission statement. (Don’t get me wrong, that’s a very important step, but only one step in a Culture Roadmap.)

We had a great customer experience strategy, we had a great mission and vision. We knew what our priorities were. We had executive support. We’d rolled out Guiding Principles and new language guidelines. I’d gone out on a roadshow and talked to every single employee about the fact that we had to make a change. Still – we had a problem. People hadn’t connected to what they actually needed to do differently.

I’d heard about “War Rooms” or “Customer Rooms” – where people would put all of their customer data.. This was generally done at the home office, in the “executive board room”.. I knew that although something like that could have an impact on an executive team who still needed reminders, it wasn’t very far reaching. I knew I needed to come up with something different – something more impactful and more inclusive.

One night, while I was sleeping, I woke up from a terrible nightmare. I’d been trapped in a haunted house. (I strongly dislike anything horror-like). In a bit of a cold sweat, I came up with an idea.

My idea was to build a traveling haunted house. But a haunted house of customer horrors.  A space where we could make it visually obvious to the employee population what was wrong. A space where employees could actually experience how hard it was to be a customer. And most importantly, a place where we could illustrate the future we were working towards. I called it a “Customer Experience Immersion Room”.

The first Customer Experience Immersion Room was something that I built back in the very early 00s..It was done on poster boards and felt like a science fair. It had some impact, but it wasn’t as impactful to cultural change as I had hoped.

The Customer Experience Immersion Room that perhaps was my first real success was the one that we built at Cigna. We didn’t spend a ton of money on it, but we did put a ton of heart into it.

My team spent weeks putting the exhibits together. We took thousands of 1-800 numbers and strung them up on fishing line to create a mobile of epic proportions – illustrating how hard it was to find the “right” number. We rented over 100 tvs and hung them up in a room – each connected to one of the “live” websites we had. So confusing. We walked people through the most impactful 10 moments that a customer could have with us. And we showed our employees what we were working towards: One phone number, one website, easier access.

We also did my first promise wall. We asked everyone who went through it to sign up to be a part of the change. It was amazing to see over 35,000 signatures on it when it was done touring.

I knew we were onto something when Forrester wrote about it. Then we started to see other companies building them. Greatest form of flattery, right?

As I’ve built more and more of these with my clients, we’ve done everything from make them all digital, so that employees can experience them from their respective computer where ever they are to building permanent structures that stay in place and continue to get updated. I’ve build them with multi-experience tracks, by persona and we’ve made very simple ones. The tool is a wonderful tool, regardless of which version you build. There are a few things that I’ve learned are imperative.

#1. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on this project. I’ve pulled it off for as little as a couple of thousand dollars and I’ve spent as much as $100,000. The key is to make the spend match your culture. If you’re in the middle of layoffs, don’t make it flashy.

#2. Everyone needs to see it. I’ve learned that it is best when leaders tell their teams that they are going, and then simply bring their teams along. I’ve made it mandatory – and that works too, but doesn’t have the same affect.

#3. You have to show how bad it really is. Be prepared for backlash. I’ve seen people cry. I’ve received Human Resources complaints. You have to be brave.

#4. You have to illustrate where you’re going. You simply must illustrate that there is progress being made and that this is going to take time.

#5. I highly recommend asking people to sign up to be a part of the change. It really does make a difference in creating a culture of customer.

For more tips, learnings and help in building your Customer Experience Immersion Room, please contact us at www.chiefcustomer.com. We offer services from ideation workshops to design to coaching on how to build your own!




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