Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Popular Science Magazine on Influence and Persuasion

Check out the interesting infographics from April's issue of Popular Science.  click here

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Purchasing Glasses Online update

http://cemexecutive.blogspot.com/2010/01/buying-glasses-online-customer.html is a summary from 2010 that talks about what one should expect when ordering glasses online. Prices have dropped since this post. I end up spending about $15 for my glasses and $20 for my wife's glasses (her prescription is super strong). This price includes shipping.

The main challenge is how to measure pupillary distance (the distance between your pupils in millimeters). Most optometrists do not give this to you, which may force you to buy glasses from them. It is easy to do. See http://static.zennioptical.com/media/Zenni-Optical-PD-Ruler.pdf for a printable measuring device.

Figuring out which frame will fit you best requires measuring your current glasses. Use a ruler with millimeters to measure the temple (the arm that goes from the front to behind your ear), the total width across the front, and measure the height and width of each lens. You can also measure the distance between the lenses if you are concerned about the space for your nose. Every online site shows these measurements for each frame. I find it most difficult to get a temple length that matches the total width. I think there must be a lot of people out there whose ears are very close to their eyes. See http://www.goggles4u.com/eyeglasses_size_guide for more info - and how to interpret the size information already printed on your current frames.

You can get all of the same options (i.e. coatings, tint, and thin and light lenses) from every site, but some sites include things in the price of the lens, while others are a la carte, which can add to the price quickly. For example, I select from the free frames on Goggles4u, get the normal distance lens (1.57 CR39) for $6.94 (which includes UV and anti-scratch coatings unless you get bifocals), and add the anti-reflective coating for $4.99, for a total price of $11.8. At ZenniOptical I select frames for $6.95, the 1.57 lens are included ($0), UV coating and anti-scratch coating are included ($0), and anti-reflective coating is $4.95, for a total cost of $11.90. At EyeBuyDirect I select frames that are $6.95, the 1.5 lenses are free and include anti-scratch, but I want to be comparable so I must use 1.57 (1.5 are very thick; the higher the number the thinner the lens; going to 1.57 like the two glasses above adds $10), UV is $4.95, anti-glare (same as anti-reflective) is $6.95, for a total cost of $28.85. Shipping is about $6 per glasses from each site.

I sign up for the emails from the following vendors and then buy glasses when they send me a sale notice. I typically buy when it is buy one get one free, free frames, or something similar. As long as I can get glasses for no more than $15-$20 (total price, must include shipping), I buy them during the sale. The following vendors typically get me my new glasses in 3 weeks and I have been able to quickly resolve any mistakes in the making of the glasses with each of them. There are several other vendors that have taken 5-6 weeks or have not resolved the mistakes that they made when making me glasses.

http://www.goggles4u.com/ - I have been using this company for my last several pairs because they have had the lowest prices (e.g. today they have a special for a complete pair for $9.90 - which includes shipping, but my wife's will be a bit more due to her strong prescription); it is easy to shop by the size, shape, and other frame features; more variety and selection than the others
http://www.zennioptical.com/ - used to have the lowest prices and the largest selection, but the others have caught up (none of the discount frames fit either of us so we rarely use Zenni any longer); use Refine Your Search drop-down to search by size, etc. (You can only pick exact measurements, which means I only get 2 options once I pick 136mm x 136 mm.)
http://www.eyebuydirect.com/ - often has good sales and has been fast, but is usually far more expensive; use Filter Results to get a range of sizes (I get 120 frames, but only 9 of those are $6.95, and of those, only 1 is my size)

Here is another comparison of full-rim, black, geeky, plastic/acetate, bifocals that I recently shopped for online:

EyeBuyDirect.com - There were no glasses that were even close to my size (or larger because smaller are very uncomfortable and will give you a headache by squeezing the sides of your face) so I just found a cheap pair of frames that matched my style demands.
http://m.eyebuydirect.com/fashion-glasses-tillamook-black-p-11261.html for $14.95
Frames $14.95
Lined bifocal lenses $19.00
1.57 lenses $10.00
UV coating $4.95
Anti-glare $6.95
USPS 1st Class shipping $5.95
TOTAL $61.80 via credit card or PayPal

ZenniOptical.com - There were three frames that met my style requirements. Widths were from 137 to 140 and temples were 138 - all good fits.
http://www.zennioptical.com/264321-plastic-full-rim-frame.html for $12.95 (not big enough for bifocals)
http://www.zennioptical.com/232012-plastic-full-rim-frame.html for $15.95 (these are the ones I picked)
http://www.zennioptical.com/246216-plastic-full-rim-frame.html for $19.95 (dark blue and black, but close enough)
Frames $15.95
1.5 lined bifocal lenses $17.00 (1.61 are $46.00)
Anti-reflective coating $4.95 (free on single vision, but extra on bifocals)
UV not available on bifocals
Standard shipping $4.95
TOTAL $42.85 via credit card or PayPal

Goggles4u.com -
http://www.goggles4u.com/men-s-glasses/elegant-90163-eyeglasses-by-goggles4u.html for $0.00 (for some reason all of the cheap ones have loud colored arms)
http://www.goggles4u.com/men-s-glasses/goggles4u-eyeglasses-3897-html.html for $4.95 (bright red arms are not my thing)
http://www.goggles4u.com/men-s-glasses/betty-86765-eyeglasses-by-goggles4u.html for $4.95 (not as thick as I wanted)
http://www.goggles4u.com/men-s-glasses/inspire-86498-eyeglasses-by-inspire.html for $4.95 (white arms are not what I wanted, but least worst of arm colors)
http://www.goggles4u.com/men-s-glasses/elegant-86310-eyeglasses-by-goggles4u.html for $4.95 (I chose this frame)
Http ://www.goggles4u.com/men-s-glasses/prescription-eyeglasses-by-geek-7178-html.html for $89.00 (too wide for my taste)
http://www.goggles4u.com/men-s-glasses/prescription-eyeglasses-by-geek-7179-html.html for $89.00 (tortoise shell is not my color)
Frames $4.95
1.56 lined bifocal lenses $25.00
UV and scratch-free $4.95
USPS $4.95
TOTAL $39.85 via credit card or PayPal

I purchased glasses from Goggles4U because the lenses are lighter, UV is available, and they were the least expensive.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Online Reputation Management

The company where I presently work tracks our online reputation using http://www.startpr.com but prior to that we used Google alerts and frequently checked the following websites, which I believe were referenced in a Forbes magazine article that one of our team members passed around.

I am very curious - how does your company track your online reputation?

http://www.ripoffreport.com/ consumers can complain, view news videos about scams, and buy a book that teaches you how to get revenge

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/ consumers can complain, but most of the complaints seem to be aggregated from other sites into "articles" about the companies

http://www.planetfeedback.com/ consumers can complain or praise and reply to any note on the site, many comments seem to elicit active discussion

http://www.complaintsboard.com/ consumers can complain and anyone can comment on each complaint, fairly active site

http://www.my3cents.com/ consumers can complain and anyone can comment on each complaint

http://www.iripoff.com/ consumers can complain and anyone can comment on each complaint

http://www.complaints.com/ consumers can complain and anyone can comment on each complaint

http://www.thesqueakywheel.com/ consumers can complain and companies can respond to complaints

http://consumerist.com/ articles about questionable business practices and concerns that consumers can comment on

http://www.consumeraction.gov/ US government site that teaches consumers how to complain

http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/scamsdesc.htm US government site that posts the latest large-scale scams and fraud

http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm US government site for complaining about companies regulated by the FCC

http://www.bbb.org/ the Better Business Bureau is not the government, but they are the largest complaint registration organization in the US

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pricing Strategy and Revenue Optimization Summit

Darin Phillips will be speaking at the Pricing Strategy and Revenue Optimization Summit on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 11:30 am.  His presentation, "What About Market Segmentation? How Well Do You Know Your Customer?", will help revenue management leaders leverage the relationship between customer satisfaction and willingness to pay (WTP).  If you are in the Miami, FL area that week and you have responsibility for your organization's pricing strategy, you can register for the summit at http://www.priceandrevenuesummit.com.  Specifically, Darin will be teaching:
  • How to collect emotional customer reactions that are the foundations of customer loyalty
  • How to gain executive buy-in to the attitudinal data and the lessons for your organization
  • How to encourage ongoing attention to barriers to satisfaction that hinder your customers' willingness to pay
The summit will be held at the Hyatt Regency Miami.  It will be produced by FinanceIQ, a division of IQPC.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Emotional Incident Methodology: Theoretical Underpinnings

Social psychologists who use inductive research techniques ask the respondents to tell them what they believe, how they feel, or what they did (e.g. to capture beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors) and then the psychologist clusters the responses into categories.  Social psychologists that use deductive research techniques create lists of attributes from research and ask respondents to cluster those findings into categories.  The inductive researcher creates the categories herself.  The deductive researcher relies on the wisdom of crowds to create the categories.  However, the inductive researcher relied on the wisdom of crowds to identify the original attributes to be clustered, whereas the deductive researcher relied on her own wisdom to identify and select what research to use.  There are clear pros and cons to each research methodology.
Emotional Incident Methodology is a hybrid of both social psychology techniques.  The original factors that are to be categorized are provided by the respondents.  A separate group of people then cluster those responses.  This is actually a fairly common event in social psychology research.
In classical deductive research, the psychologist starts with a theory and a hypothesis.  Observations are used to test the hypothesis.  
In classical inductive research, the psychologist starts with observations that lead her to a hypothesis.  The hypothesis is then used to create a general theory.
Pure practitioners of both research methodologies will criticize Emotional Incident Methodology.  The deductive researchers will say that the results are invalid because the project began without a base theory or hypothesis.  (This is the criticism often made about The Big Five personality attributes, but that is the only model that has any validity when trying to predict workplace performance.)  The inductive researchers will say that the results are invalid because the project ended with a group of lay persons determining the final hypothesis and theory.  They believe that only trained experts should be making the final determination.
At the end of the day, there is a solid reason why people often say, "There are lies, damn lies, and then statistics."  Research methodologies are all flawed when it comes to measuring the human condition - we are just too complex.  Causality is impossible to prove because no research into human beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors can replicate the same results 100% of the time.  We also live in a personal bubble of perception because we individually decide which facts are true or not.  In fact, if we behave in a way that is inconsistent with our beliefs and attitudes, we simply create new beliefs to justify our attitude and behavior in that moment.  And what researcher is completely free of her own biases?  That would have to start with a complete and accurate understanding of self that no one has.  That is why triangulation is used in Emotional Incident Methodology.  Collectively, the group is less fallible than any one individual, even a trained expert.
If enough objectivity permeates the results of Emotional Incident Methodology then you will see measurable results when you apply the lessons learned.  My own findings at Royal Caribbean Cruises and Silver Hill Financial led to statistically significant results.  But I cannot claim absolute causality because there were many other variables at play within the organizations, industries, and economy.  Again, the complexity of the situation prevents the type of certainty that classic researchers demand.
Emotional Incident Methodology is a post-positivism approach that rejects the relativist idea that we cannot reach agreement because our unique life filters and biology have resulted in us having different biases.  It is a constructivist approach that relies on triangulation to gain objectivity across multiple fallible perspectives.  After all, social psychology is the study of individuals within the context of a group and no two people in any group are exactly the same in every respect, not even identical twins.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Buying Glasses Online - the customer experience

After picking over the frames available from our eye doctor, my wife and I decided that there must be a better way to get our prescriptions filled.  I decided to do a little research and found a couple of websites where online eyeglass vendors were reviewed.  Glassy Eyes was the first site that I found and it was loaded with helpful information from a guy who decided, as we did, that the mall eyeglass stores and optometrist offices were simply way too expensive for what you are getting.  The author of that website seems to focus on the more conspiratorial issues around why prices are so high, but he also provides a thorough review of many of the leading Internet eyeglass vendors so it is worth a look (http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/). The other site, Eyeglass Retailers Reviews, seemed to be a bit more objective in their reviews of the Internet vendors.  In fact, the "old site" that is archived at http://www.eyeglassretailerreviews.com/ was the most helpful in making apples-to-apples comparisons amongst the main players.  I did not see ads or coupons on Eyeglass Retailer Reviews and I appreciated the reader forums where many disgruntled customers were helping me understand the challenges I would face ordering online.  Glassy Eyes reviewed far fewer retailers and every review includes a coupon code that reads something like "glassyeyes".  That always raises a red flag for me.

Between my wife and I we had several eyeglass prescriptions that we could fill.  We both had our regular eye checkup with an optometrist and associated prescriptions, but we also had special visits to ophthalmologists for further screening and received another prescription from there.  Finally, I was given a separate prescription for reading glasses.  With five prescriptions in hand, and a bit of online advice, we set out to find the best online retailer.  Of course, these experiences are based solely on only one or two transactions with each vendor.  Your actual experience may vary considerably (as you can read on the Eyeglass Retailer Reviews forums).

First, we needed to know our papillary distance.  That was not written on our prescriptions and the bricks and mortar eyeglass retailers are not willing to tell you what it is.  They are becoming more concerned about the online stores and don't want to make it easy for you to defect.  We found several techniques listed on the online retailer sites and tried all of them.  The results were fairly consistent so we were comfortable that we were fine with the final numbers that we submitted.  We know now to always ask for papillary distance to be included on our prescription.  The optometrist did not object when we asked for that number this year.

At a glance, here are the glasses we ended up ordering online:
Date ordered
Date arrived
Total Price
(includes shipping)
Discount-Eyeglasses.net 01/26/09 02/14/09

19 days
Normal Glasses
Right: -1.00, -2.00 x 092
Left: -0.75, -1.25 x 072
(aka Shultz Optical)
01/26/09 02/09/09

14 days
Right: -3.25, +2.50 x 003 +2.25
Left: -2.00, +1.25 x 160 +2.25
SpecsOnTheNet.com 02/21/09 03/09/09

16 days
Reading Glasses
Right: -1.00, -2.00 x 092 +1.25
Left: -0.75, -1.25 x 072 +1.25
Optical4Less.com 02/21/09 03/13/09

20 days
Reading Glasses
Right: -3.25, +2.50 x 003 +2.25
Left: -2.00, +1.25 x 160 +2.25
(aka Shultz Optical)
02/24/09 03/12/09

16 days
Normal Glasses
Right: -3.25, +2.50 x 003
Left: -2.00, +1.25 x 160
EyeBuyDirect.com 01/26/09 02/06/09

11 days
Strong Prescription Glasses*
Right: +2.50, -2.75 x 003
Left: +3.25, -4.25 x 173
Goggles4U.com 02/21/09 03/07/09

14 days
Strong Prescription Glasses*
Right: +2.50, -2.75 x 003
Left: +3.25, -4.25 x 173
EyeBuyDirect.com 03/01/09 03/12/09

11 days
Strong Prescription Sunglasses*
Right: +2.50, -2.75 x 003
Left: +3.25, -4.25 x 173

* My wife's prescription is very strong and many online retailers do not offer lenses with her prescription.  Those that do charged extra for high index lenses.  For example, I filled out the order form at SelectSpecs.com for my wife's glasses and they sent me an email asking if I wanted to continue with the order for an additional US$45.00 for 1.67 lenses.  I was able to easily cancel the order via email.  So even if the online form allows you to enter a strong prescription, you may be asked to spend more.  That is why her glasses were much more expensive than mine.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What is Customer Experience Management?

My job title is Director, Customer Experience. So what do I do? Better yet, what am I supposed to do?

My background includes organizational development and strategic human capital management (often called talent management, but not the kind that represents entertainers). In those roles I would approach this problem by completing a job analysis. I might use the Hay Methodology or I might use critical incident debrief or I might just Google for awhile to get things started. Of course, the path of least resistance is to search the Internet so that it where I started when I was hired.

Now, I know that I was hired because Silver Hill Financial likes to capture strong talent when they find it on the street (and then figure out how they can add value) and they liked my work with customer-impacting processes, systems, and people while at PQS, Mundo Strategies, and Royal Caribbean. What I did not know about was this field called Customer Experience Management that they kept talking about. They had a few specific projects that were assigned to me right away. I filled the rest of my time with understanding the business and researching CEM.

What I found was fairly interesting. Clearly, the field of Customer Experience Management is fractured or simply immature. So many vendors of so many disparate products and services were all claiming to be CEM experts and service providers (e.g. ResponseTek has Google's current #1 ranking but only sells opt-in surveys and analysis). However, each of them had very narrow views of what CEM is. (Their definition of CEM just happened to be exactly aligned with what they were selling, but I am sure that must have just been coincidence.) I learned that:
  1. CEM is really just another term for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) - at least that is what Wikipedia would have me believe.
  2. CEM is really NPS (net promoter score) according to Fred Reichheld's fans.
  3. You can get a certification in CEM, which results in a lot of ideas.
  4. CEM is "the process of strategically managing a customer's entire experience with a product or a company" according to brand guru Bernd Schmitt.
  5. CEM "represents the discipline, methodology and/or process used to comprehensively manage a customer's cross-channel exposure, interaction and transaction with a company, product, brand or service" according to prolific blogger Leigh Duncan.
  6. CEM "combines research insights and experience design expertise to measure and enhance each of these "moments of truth," based on what is most important to the customer"according to LRA Worldwide, which seems to have the most complete view of the work that needs to be done.
The deeper I dug, the more I turned up. If you are in the customer service department then your vendors are telling you that they have Customer Experience Management solutions. If you are in marketing then your vendors say the same thing. If you are in product or store design, the same. Call center, the same. Sales, the same. IT, the same (especially if you are in charge of the company's Internet or mobile phone site). HR, the same...

HR, you ask? Well, yes, HR is the department that makes sure you hire, train, and reward people that deliver exceptional "moments of truth". If you don't believe me, just ask the HRIS software vendors!

However, I also found vendors that are starting to use research to point out that competitors are not being accurate in their claims of Customer Experience Management excellence. For example, the call monitoring companies that claim to provide the best CEM solutions started attacking the CRM software vendors by pointing out Gartner research showed that 55% of CRM implementations actually drive customers away. (See my favorite CRM demo here.) Vendors of alternative survey questions have attacked NPS. Customer service solution providers have been attacked because the teams they serve are often called after a service failure, which is reactive instead of proactive. In fact, if you look for articles that debunk Customer Experience Management or attempt to expose the myths, you can spend several hours reading online.

I am left with my original question. What is Customer Experience Management? It seems that the answer is short, but very broad. Customer Experience Management is the active management of all aspects of a company that have any impact on the customer at all. Suddenly, we realize that decisions made by executives that lead to lower employee morale have an adverse impact on our customer's experiences. When we inadvertently put incorrect information on our website or a press release then we have hurt the experience. When we actively monitor references to our company in the press and online we are engaged in CEM. When we ensure that new hires who may contact or be contacted by our customers have the right "price of admission" competencies we are managing the customer experience. When we record and score calls made by our contact center we are actively managing the experience. When we streamline a process that reduces cycle time by 3.4% we have improved our customer's experience. When we switch to recycled plastic containers because research indicates that our most profitable customers are "green" then we are using great customer experience management. The list goes on and on. CEM requires a passion for the customer's experience by the company's executives and everyone else. It has to be ingrained in the culture and a part of every decision. That is what Customer Experience Management is.