Hooked on Customers: An Interview with Bob Thompson

After reading an advance copy of Bob Thompson’s new book Hooked on Customers, I knew I wanted to connect with Bob and find out more about some of the insights from his book. I was particularly interested in the five organizational habits that he centers the book around. In the interview below, Bob gives us a sampling of some of the topics he covers in Hooked on Customers.

Bob Thompson | Hooked on CustomersBob Thompson is founder and CEO of research and publishing firm CustomerThink Corporation and editor-in-chief of CustomerThink.com, the world’s largest online community dedicated to helping business leaders develop and execute customer-centric business strategies.

An author, keynote speaker and international authority on business management trends, he has been a thought leader in customer-centricity since 1998.

Follow Bob on Twitter: @Bob_Thompson, and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Hooked on Customers: An Interview with Bob Thompson

Why do you think many customer experience-based strategies are overrated?

Strategies are just high-level plans. Unfortunately, most CX “strategies” are about fixing service problems, which is what most every business is doing. Having a strategy is important, but what I’ve found is that it’s the execution of that strategy that separates winners from losers. That’s what the five customer-centric habits are about.

You list five habits of legendary customer-centric companies. Which habit do companies fail to execute well most often? Why?

Create and Delight are the habits that the more mature top-performing firms tend to master. Since this represents at most 10% of companies in my research, these are also the habits that most companies struggle with. It’s not easy to innovate and exceed customer expectations.

Which of the five organizational habits is the most crucial to customer loyalty?

They are all crucial, the habits should work together as a system. For example, “Listen” is important to understand customers, but unless that insight is translated into change that customers appreciate, there’s no loyalty impact. That said, I think the most untapped habit is “Delight” because when you exceed customer expectations that creates a memorable experience and helps build an emotional bond.

You mention that companies use technology to make interactions less memorable. How are companies using technology to do the opposite?

For something to be memorable it has to be different from what was expected. I think mobile apps is a fertile ground for CX innovation right now. But the problem is that technology-based experiences are relatively easy to duplicate. For example, in the banking industry mobile check deposits was an exciting innovation 3 years ago, but now it’s available by all the major US banks.

Why are companies missing the mark with customer analytics?

The opportunity for gaining insight from new forms of data is real, but companies can waste a lot of time looking for a customer insight needle in the Big Data haystack. Data scientists I’ve interviewed generally recommend starting with key decisions and then looking for the information and tools to support making that decision more effectively. The opposite can lead to a lot of dead ends and wasted time.

How are companies turning creative innovation into sustainable habits?

Executives create a culture where failure is not, well, failing. My favorite example is Intuit which I cover in some detail in my book. I really like Intuit’s “Design for Delight” initiative because it focuses the entire company on creating new solutions that put a smile on their customers’ faces. This is remarkable for a company that sells what most would consider boring financial software.

Tell us a little about your philosophy on empowering employees?

Give employees the authority and resources they need, then trust them to do the right thing. This helps foster more engaged employees which can drive productivity. Loyalty research also finds that customers like dealing with empowered employees who can get things done without always having to check with the boss.

For more insights, check out Hooked on Customers on Amazon.


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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