Nick Webb – Author – What Customers Crave [CX Innovation]

Nick Webb talks about CX Innovation, what Customer Crave, and why you should stop thinking about customer service as a best practice.

Nick Glimsdahl  0:04 

I’m excited to be joined by Nick Webb. Nick is a CEO, best selling author, adjunct professor, award winning inventor, keynote speaker and Chief Innovation Officer and filmmaker. Welcome to the podcast, Nick.

Nick Webb  0:19 

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Nick Glimsdahl  0:20 

Yeah, I saw online that you have a few patents. Can you get into how many patents you have?

Nick Webb  0:27 

Yeah, right now I have I think somewhere around 41 or 42. issued patents, I have another half a dozen or more pending on new technologies that are relevant to the new disruptive economy. I started my career as a medical technologist, I invented one of the world’s smallest medical implants for ocular surface disease. Then one of the first wearable technologies before there was a functional internet. I started my career as an innovator and a product signal lover,

Nick Glimsdahl  0:54 

you created a patent, that was a wearable technology before the internet. Yeah, go through that process on what made you think about, Hey, you know what, I’m going to create this patent. And I think this is going to be the future.

Nick Webb  1:08 

I think that the best innovations come where you find the connective tissue between enabling technologies in need. Since I do a lot in healthcare, one of the biggest problems in healthcare is what we call pharmacological, or regiment compliance. In other words, reminding people to make sure that they’re taking their life critical medicines. And back in those days, he had just came out with this amazing new technology called a two way pager. And it looked like the original pager, except you’re able to press the Yes button or no button. So I designed and invented a computer algorithm that basically automatically sent out a page to grandma at 8am at noon, and three and at 9pm, for an example. And if grandma doesn’t respond, yes, I took the medicine, then there was a series of things that would go back, we would pay her a few more times depending on her disease process. And so there’s a whole set of steps that allowed us to make sure that we saved lives by making sure that people were complying to drug regimen, tations and other post procedural treatments. And it was cool. I sold it for some money back in the day and moved on to my next one. But yeah, that was that’s how I made that connection. Now, that seems simple today, but realize, when I invented that there was no internet. That was it. It just wasn’t a thing. The only way you could connect was through RCC radio common carrier,

Nick Glimsdahl  2:35 

tell me about a time when you actually had an innovation that failed.

Nick Webb  2:39 

Oh, when my daughter was now 25 was in kindergarten, they were having the day where they brought the parent in and talked about the parents career. And on the way to school, my daughter asked me, What do you do, and I said, I am an innovator, which basically means I’m in the failure management business. And so she gets there and they go now dealer, tell us what your dad does. And she said, My dad’s a failure. So thank you for that. Look at that is, is really what innovation is really all about. It’s the ability to find I in my current best selling book, The innovation mandate, I talk about a definition that innovation is the process of creating novel value, meaning new, valuable, that serves your organization and your customer. Those are the four elements of what innovation really is and with that developed systems around it, but I’ll give you one great example I had this wonderful idea that everybody needed an inflatable abdominal fitness product. So I spent a half a million dollars of my kids college fund. And I invented an inflatable abdominal machine. And as a healthcare product developer, I had a tested with the orthopedic Research Institute, the product actually worked amazingly well. It eliminated the lower back print plain pain and use the chambers within this device to be able to roll people up into a setting position without risk of back injury. So I partnered with with time live, which was part of Reader’s Digest and we created this amazing infomercial. And And I’ll never forget I was out by the swimming pool and it was the day of the test and they tested it in 30 markets around the country the night before. And after these 24 hour tests, they’re able to determine just how successful the product is going to be. And my wife said the producer is on the phone for the infomercial and she hands me the phone and I’m looking at her gloating Can I because I couldn’t wait to tell how much money we just made on our $500,000 investment. And I go Dave, how do we do and he goes Nick, your product was like a Hoover vacuum. I’m thinking that is amazing. They must have sold 100 million Hoover vacuums, right. And it goes Nick I don’t think you understand your product sucked and blew all at the same time. It lost $500,000 in a matter of a few moments. So I’m looking at my daughter who is in the swimming pool swimming. And I’m thinking I just spend your college fund and everybody else’s for that matter. But innovation is really about a stock portfolio, you do high risk, high reward and investments into innovation. And you do some of the no brainer, low risk, low reward, if you do it from a prep portfolio or risk portfolio, it uses a risk opportunity matrix. And usually you get ahead and for an example, I made a connection, on the underproduction of that infomercial, that turned into a multi million dollar opportunity for me, although I did lose on the infomercial, at the end of the day, it worked out and that’s how innovation typically works. Sadly, 2% of the 3000 patents that are issued each and every week ever successfully make it to the marketplace. And it’s not so much that good innovations fail, it has a lot more to do with people filing patents on bad ideas. You know, they had a half of an idea. And oftentimes people give up on their idea before it has a chance, which is a better innovation, the iPhone are my pillow. I don’t know I’m seems like Mike Lindale has sold a mind pillow to everybody on the planet. So it doesn’t have to be technology, it doesn’t have to be earth shattering. It just needs to be able to provide meaningful value in a way that serves you and your customer.

Nick Glimsdahl  6:25 

With your book, it is what customers crave. It’s how to create relevant and memorable experiences at every touchpoint. What made you write this book?

Nick Webb  6:36 

I think it was psychotherapy, we’ve all been the victim of really bad customer experience. As a management consultant, I work with some of the top brands in the world. And we have been involved in delivering what’s called cx innovation for years where we help our clients innovate ways to improve the experience. And so I spent about three years researching some of the best and worst organizations on the planet, with the idea of trying to find out is there a way that I can find the x factor that that makes these great organizations great? And is there a way to take the complexity of customer experience and make it simple. That was really my goal. And I think I achieved that some people think it’s too simple. His iPhone too simple at the user level, probably. But behind that screen is incredible complexity is easy to be complicated. It’s hard to be simple. Because if it’s not simple, it’s not executional bowl. And if that’s the case, you don’t benefit from it, customers crave relevancy. And they crave customization, they want you to deliver experiences that are relevant to their hates, and their loves. And that was one of the big discoveries from this book is that I was taught in business school that we’re supposed to look at psycho demographics, we’re supposed to look at ethnic demographics, and seasonality and all of these different economic drivers. So the 35 year old male, affluent customer, right. And it turns out that all that stuff is a joke. It doesn’t mean anything. What really matters is dicing your customers up into hate love personas. And I do a chapter in there in the book on a carwash that use this method to identify four different types of customers they serve so that they could invent customer relevant experiences. And for example, one of them is speedy, that just wants to get through there fast. So we invented a fast lane for them. There are people that are thrifty that just want a cheap carwash. So we create ways of making certain days when the carwash was slow to make the carwash is less expensive, and so on. So they want relevancy The main thing if I were just saying what is the one thing that they all hate? Everybody hates friction, we are moving towards friction, freedom. And the biggest mistake, the first thing that we look at when we talk to an organization is how can we eliminate friction? That’s what makes people hate you. So that’s it. What do they hate? How do we eliminate those hates? What do they love? And that is very specific to a range of four to six personas,

Nick Glimsdahl  9:02 

what does good customer service equal bad customer experience mean?

Nick Webb  9:06 

I think that it’s easy to deliver good customer service from a superficial perspective that customer service is something that that is generic, that’s nonspecific, that’s non customizable, that’s at the baseline level of customers expectation. The good customer experience is one that is holistic in nature.

Nick Glimsdahl  9:25 

It’s so important to not just go through the motions with either customer service or customer experience and kind of check the box of, Hey, I set it and forget it, right? Like I’m doing my best effort. What is your best effort mean? Is it what’s best for the customer? Or is it what’s best for you? Why is it important to hang out with your customers.

Nick Webb  9:45 

There was a management theory that was popular back in the late or the early 80s called management by walking about and what they found is, and I see this all the time with Net Promoter scores, I see it with independent mock customer surveys, Steve Jobs, never took a look at a customer survey he invented things that they didn’t even know they needed yet. So there is a common method that we use called ethnography, where we live with our customers to understand them at an emotive level to really understand their behaviors and their loves and their hates. You can’t be good at this. One of my favorite CEOs is Ken Grossman, the CEO of Sierra Nevada brewery, he isn’t just a guy that produces beer. He’s a deca millionaire. And he’s hanging out with people at the pub talking about beer. And I asked him, I said, Ken does this isn’t this getting old, it’s sell this place, go sit in an island, go buy an island for that matter, because this is what I love. I love my customers, I love collaborating with them, I love co creating with them. Snap on tools loves their customers, they know their customers really well. They co create with their customers in their labs. And because of that they develop hits it create two to 300 new products a year, all of them successful because they live with their customers, and they are their customers.

Nick Glimsdahl  11:04 

When it comes to customer service, a lot of people are thinking of it more of a best practice and not as a way of doing business in the frontline in the voice of the customer. Why should people stop thinking about it as a best practice.

Nick Webb  11:17 

Because if you look at this as a machine as customer insights as data nodes, and you look at journey maps as a signature for design, you’re always going to be bad. This is humans serving humans. And all of these best practices, I was really surprised when I researched this book, how many authors are out there talking about how to get rid of your non profitable customers and how to leverage customer experience designed to increase customer throughput for maximum profit. If that’s your target, you suck, you’re never going to be good you this is a human to human experience, to the extent that you’re empathetic to the extent that you really care. I give an example. I think maybe even in the book, where a friend of mine who was really into whole natural food, and he opened up this really gorgeous, a beautiful fruit stand in a very affluent area of Santa Monica. And here, we get out there and he would talk about grapes and figs and fruits to all these millionaires that would come into his shop every day. And then one day a lady came in, and she slipped on a grape that was on the ground. And she sued him. And I remember coming in a couple of weeks afterwards, and the entire place was signs. He made things, no grape zones, he had hazmat signs. And when I talked to him, his spirit was broke. No longer was it about serving the customers, I had a shared passion. He was about defending himself against the predator that he then considered. And few months later, he was out of business. So that’s what happens is that we have a thing called corporate life cycles where we start because we love an area and a market. And the customers that occupy it, we create beautiful, cool things that they’re going to love. And then we have to manage HR. And then we have to manage risk. And then we have to manage facilities. And once we lose our customer Mojo, it’s just a matter of time before bankruptcy comes knocking.

Nick Glimsdahl  13:17 

That’s an unfortunate story. I would love to have a gourmet fruit stand sitting in my neighborhood and be there all the time. Yeah. At the beginning, you mentioned innovation. You also mentioned that you’re working with some of the largest companies in the world around cx innovation. What does customer experience innovation mean to you

Nick Webb  13:36 

know, you have to ask yourself, what do we really want to achieve? What is it that we want to achieve with our cx initiative. And then the second thing you have to do is you have to put together the insights that are not fake survey insights, you have to find out what your customers crave. We do something that’s real exciting. That’s incredibly effective. We do cx hackathons. And we start by going through and this happens every time I just did one not too long ago, I did a virtual one a few days ago. And you break your team up into six or seven teams with the six to 10 people in each team. And you ask them each to identify your four main customer personas. And then I tell him to call them something right. Every time they create four personas in that company. I just did one for a credit union. And they had they had needy, and they had complaining and they’d be held these different names for him. And it was interesting to see that every group came up with something almost identical in terms of the four personas. And then I asked them to invent across the five touch points. What is the pre touch moment? How do they what happens when they look for us? What does that look like? Are we can’t the three things you need during the pre touch moment? Can you be found on the internet? If you’re found, do they land in a relevant spot that’s highly relevant. And thirdly is your website a value dispenser? So we innovate in the pre touch moment, the first touch moment the core moment the last touch in the in touch moment. So at the end of that hackathon, we actually build out a cx strategy. And I gotta tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever done it I’ve done, I don’t know, maybe 70 or 80 of these, I don’t think there’s ever been a time where major innovations weren’t created as a result of the CX hackathons.

Nick Glimsdahl  15:14 

So interesting. I’ve heard of journey mapping and having customers come in, but I haven’t actually heard of a sex hackathon. So I’m gonna have to keep that in my back pocket. Give me a call later, there was a guy in my master’s class, who showed up with a suit that was really big on it was during a presentation and everybody else was looking sharp. And he joked that he bought it from a warehouse that said, one size fits most, it wasn’t technically a large or medium, and it looked like it too. But one thing that you had mentioned in the book is how do you finding ways to avoid a one bucket cx customer experience and finding ways to maximize customer satisfaction? So how do you go about avoiding that one size fits most customer experience?

Nick Webb  16:01 

Yeah, it’s interesting. It turns out, there was a study that was done by Bain that I talked about in the book where they interviewed over 300 executives. And they asked them a simple question, how would you rate your quality of customer experience, and something like 89% of them said, excellent. And then Bain said, Wow, that’s pretty amazing that we have 89% of the CEOs, three over 300 of them telling us that they have got an incredible customer experience. So they went out and they surveyed the customers of those companies, and only 7% of the customers agreed. So the first thing we have to do is we have to get through this sort of dysphoria of this confusion about really how good we really are, chances are, you’re not as good as you think you are. And since the baseline level of customer expectation is always rising, if you’re not always getting better, you are falling behind for sure. So the first thing we have to do is recognize the fact that we need to improve, then we have to ask ourselves, how do we go about identifying the hates and loves of our customers across a range of personas, because if you don’t understand them, from that emotive level of hate love personas, you really can’t invent better experiences. And then from there, you have to test that across the five touchpoint journey, you have to make sure that it’s actually playing out I have clients that have really good organizations and crappy websites are your website is part of the value that you deliver in a time of blended experiences, right? So it’s the challenge you have is you have to provide a holistic experience meaning across all personas. And then you have to provide a good experience across all personas across five well defined touch points. That’s not easy. Dutch Brothers does it well, In and Out Burger, does any organizations have been able to scale this? In a way? That’s really impressive?

Nick Glimsdahl  17:52 

So why do these organizations like Dutch Brothers like in and out, why are they doing it really well? And why are they different, and making that switch, or that aha moment, to switching through those five steps,

Nick Webb  18:05 

let’s say get an Alberta for an example. They’re very secretive organization, we tried to interview them, many people have, and they don’t want to, they don’t want people to know their secret formula. But we did our research. And we’ve discovered that back in the founding, I believe was in 1957. Their founder developed what they call the Bible, which is in their safe in their granddaughter who is a sole heir of the of In and Out Burger. So has, it was a our principles, what we stand for. And they really care about their principles. They care about their principles, and the kind of people they hire, in the way in which they support and honor and respect and train the people that work for them. And they are unshakeable on that. So it scales because being great to people at every touchpoint. And you having amazingly good principles always results in success. If you look at from a journey map perspective, way back when they were doing this, the FSR the faster restaurant business was very new. But the one thing In and Out Burger realized is if that we were going to serve these people, we needed to be able to hear them and they needed to be able to hear us. If you look at the In and Out Burger restaurants that were put up in the 50s 60s and 70s. The speaker is actually a big megaphone. So you can hear them very clear, and they can hear you very well. If you go to some restaurants, they have a speaker of the size of a half dollar, and you can never hear what they’re saying. Seems like a little deal, but it’s part of the first touch point, right. The other thing is that they decided that they can’t be good at everything. But they can be really good at hamburgers. So when you go to the In and Out Burger sign, it’s not confusing. There’s a there is a challenge when we have lots and lots of options. It’s actually an adverse thing for customers. Right? So you have a handful of things that you can order and every one of them are perfect. Literally they actually have special bakeries that make their sponge bread they use sponge bread even though it rots really fast, because nobody else will use it because you can’t store it for long periods of time. But they use it because it’s the best you can possibly get. And so they bring in fresh sponge bread every day. They have special growers that grow their onions and tomatoes, everything has to be literally perfect, I dare you to find a wilted piece of lettuce or a bad tomato or onion, it’s not going to happen. The other thing that they do when you drive through, they have this big pane glass window, not because they want their employees necessarily to look out, they want you to see the employee working at the french fry extruder, making fresh french fries all day long. That’s a story. At the end of the day, they tell a great story of cleanliness of freshness, their hospital likeliness inside their kitchen, from the the outfits they wear that are impeccable. everything they do is about telling the story of quality, everything they create is perfect. And they never ever waver from that Bible that was created back in 1957.

Nick Glimsdahl  21:04 

That’s such a good story. I’ve never I’ve been there probably five, six times, I’ve never had a bad experience that in and out the story holds true. Yeah, in chapter 12. In the book, you talk about technology in the future of CX, where do companies succeed and or fail when it comes to implementing technology, and doesn’t matter if they should focus on the customer experience or not.

Nick Webb  21:27 

So the neat thing about technology is it provides us this new concept of the surveillance economy. And there’s a lot of criticism about how we can use cookies. And we can use GPS tracking and all this kind of stuff. So the best way to look at technology and it’s important on CX, if we use technology, for good instead of evil, we will succeed. The problem is that most people look at technology as another way of tricking somebody or spamming somebody are engaging somebody I literally own maybe in my business 50 Apple computers. So Apple knows how to find me, and Apple has my email, my home address, my phone number, they have everything. And Apple is very careful to only contact me when they can do something good for me. I in fact, got an email from their local business or my local business concierge at the local Apple store because their stores codes and she wanted to let me know that she’s available if there’s anything she can do for me. She didn’t send me a coupon, she didn’t send me a buy now incentive, she contacted me and leveraged the covenants of that secret information only to serve me, we could go into a lot of detail about technology, I will tell you that we’re going to be able to increase tracking, we’re going to be able to increase access to lots of personal information. The real point here is organizations need to use it for good instead of evil and it will serve them well.

Nick Glimsdahl  22:56 

It’s great advice when it comes to technology. It’s Yeah, you’re gonna have to give up a little bit of your privacy. But what’s the benefit? Right? If the benefit out risks of having your privacy, like you said, Apple is going to be able to see you from 50 separate laptops. But if you can improve the experience and solve the issue of the customer, then it I think that’s a win for everybody. I wrap up every podcast by asking my guests two questions. The first question is what book or person has influenced you the most in the past year? And the second one is if you could leave a note to all the customer experience professionals, and everybody would receive it. What would it say?

Nick Webb  23:37 

I’m writing, I’m actually almost done with a book called hayday, which will be out in 2021. And 80, basically is a story of all the amazing teachers that have appeared to me in my travels around the world. But I recently referenced a book that kind of got the party started for me. And that was the magic of thinking big by Dr. David Schwartz. And it was interesting to me to find that a Seth Godin, and many other highly successful thought leaders, when they asked him there, the book that was most impactful to them. They also mentioned David Swartz. So I think even though it’s written 4050 years ago, I don’t know a long time I read it as a young lad and I’m 62. That book has been unbelievably influential in my life. I think if I were to leave a note to every ch executive, I would say that the current ether, in the area of customer experience, in my humble opinion, is generally wrong. And it’s wrong because it’s focused almost exclusively on if you take a look at the people who propagate a lot of the customer satisfaction surveys and it’s great for them because it must be nice to make that much money selling these software packages. But at the end of the day, customer experience is about serving on Honoring and respecting human beings. And if we do everything from the perspective of decency and honesty, and love, we can’t lose it this right? You can’t lose at this. If you use those tools to try to make more money, it’s a paradoxical intent or what some refer to as purpose trimmer. The more you try to make money from customers, the poorer you get, the more you try to serve them. The more wheelbarrows of money that surprisingly land on your desk and that would be my advice.

Nick Glimsdahl  25:36 

That is great advice, Nick, what is the best way my listeners can get in touch with you?

Nick Webb  25:42 

So my speaking website is Nick Webb with two bs calm. My consulting business is simply go leader logic calm. I also serve as a chief innovation officer and an adjunct professor at Western University, one of the country’s largest medical schools. So I spend a good amount of my time over there as well. always glad to share ideas with people and I appreciate having the opportunity to share some of these ideas with you.

Nick Glimsdahl  26:05 

I highly recommend grabbing his book what customers crave how to create relevant and memorable experiences at every touch point, Nick, it’s been a pleasure. I appreciate your time.

Nick Webb  26:15 

My pleasure. Thank you.


The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.

Nickโ€™s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:

  • Customer service & customer experience leaders
  • A hostage negotiator
  • Award-winning authors
  • Home Depotโ€™s Senior Director of Customer Care
  • Former VP of Disneyโ€™s Magic Kingdom
  • Lyftโ€™s Head of Partner and Customer Engagement
  • Deputy Chief Veteran Experience Officer from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

On every episode Nick asks his guest two questions:

  1. What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
  2. If you could leave a note to all the Customer Service and CX professionals, what would it say?

You can find all the podcast guests’ answers under their episodes below.

If all you want is the guests’ book recommendations, you can go here.

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