Customer Enchantment: An Interview with Bob Caruso

Bob Caruso is a Managing Director at Endeavor Management bringing over 20 years’ experience in reinventing, redefining and energizing customer experiences. He’s been a part of the irreversible power shift in the relationship between customers and service or product providers and to the complex personalized experiences of today.

As an alumnus of powerful global consultancies, PwC, Deloitte and J.D. Power and Associates he’s been assisting clients all over the world to bring CX from the basement switchboard operator to the C-Suite. Designing and implementing CX strategies, systems and performance metrics are his passion. 

Today’s conversation revolves around his view that the best path to a customer’s mind is through their heart.

In a recent CXPA SoCal meeting during our open discussion I was intrigued when you talked briefly about the concept of Customer Enchantment.  What’s that all about?

Today’s society is all about emotionally connecting to our stuff.  We love our cars, our technology, and our apparel lines because they represent who we are to others.  Apple addicts would never consider any product not created in Cupertino.  Southwest Airline fans would rather make two stops to get across the country than resort to booking another airline.  We are enchanted by these experiences.  They touch our emotions.  They embed in our minds. We are as emotionally invested in experiencing the products and services of these providers as we are in our own personalities.

Winning in today’s economy demands that organizations deliver enchanting experiences flawlessly. Customer Enchantment is a method and toolset to build the strong bond between provider and consumer.

You’ve mentioned a couple of examples of enchanting companies.  In your experience what allows them to build such powerful connections to their customers?

Sean, in my experience with really enchanting organizations I’ve learned that they share some key attributes.  First and foremost is a clear mission that employees can rally around and customers enroll in.  Let’s take the consistent CX leader in financial services USAA as an example.  Each member of the USAA team clearly understands their mission to support active duty military members, veterans and their families.  There is never a doubt about what the CX should involve.  The folk in San Antonio dig hard and deep to ensure that when a military member is deployed and they need help USAA is there to deliver on their mission.

Secondly, believing that every employee is the most important product the company supports.  I’ve heard the rhetoric from every business in the world about their commitment to employees.  In reality a very low percentage of those that espouse the value of employees actually deliver on that belief.  Let’s be real.  C-Level executives seldom ever meet a customer, let alone serve them.  The individuals that build emotional connections and enchant are the guys like Danny with United at my home airport in OrangeCounty that’s the best gate agent ever.  Danny always has a smile, assists flyers and balances issues with answers.  Without enchanting Danny to commit fully to his role the CX strategy fails.

Deep understanding of customer wants, needs and perceptions is crucial to Customer Enchantment.  It’s pretty tough to get a date if you don’t know what gets your heartthrob’s attention.  Same is true when building relationships with customers.  Enchanting companies use every method at their disposal to collect feedback, mine data, innovate, pilot and divine what moves their intended customers.

I get the Customer Enchantment idea.  It sounds like a high bar to get over.  What’s the roadmap look like?

Getting to Customer Enchantment is more of a closed-loop cycle than a roadmap.  The Enchantment Cycle has 5 Phases of activity that should constantly be in motion.  Listen to customers, their influencers, employees and other stakeholders to truly understand wants, needs, and perceptions.  Take that data and Define how the organization will meet or exceed those determined expectations.  Make a clear, resonant Promise to customers and employees.  Shout it from the highest mountain and commit to Deliver on that promise.  It’s all in the delivery, words are cheap.  Flawless execution on the promise is where enchantment happens.  Reinforce the promise and flawless delivery in every interaction and communication with customers and employees.

Five clearly defined phases all constantly moving in their own cycles connecting to one another.  Each phase develops cultural behaviors in enchanting organizations.

Enchantment is a pretty soft and fuzzy word.  How’s it going over with your clients?

You’re right.  Enchanting customers does sound like a squishy way to describe something that’s incredibly hard to achieve.  Initially executives chuckle a bit about the characterization and then begin to understand their own enchantment with experiences.  Hey, we’re all consumers.  Just because we have a passion for understanding and delivering compelling experiences doesn’t preclude us from having those experiences.  Once we make the personal emotional connection that our clients have with their Harley or hair product acceptance of enchantment follows.

How would I know if I was part of an enchanting organization?

As a member of an organization that enchants you love what you do, have opportunities to develop and grow while feeling valued and respected for your contributions.  Your strong connection to the organization is accentuated by your customers’ validation of the business through continuous feedback and a commitment to making your organization a regular part of their lives.