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Susan Abbott
Toronto, Canada
Specialist in customer experience, insight and innovation
Interests: Professionally, I'm interested in organization design, innovation strategy, customer experience, qualitative research and culture. My actual work involves qualitative research, studying trends, facilitating innovation, and professional speaking. Personally, I'd expand this list to art, travel, the great outdoors, skiing and scootering. Plus I love great design, stationery stores and cool tech stuff.
Recent Activity
Good companies are still innovating in online travel -- get inspired by two simple things Lufthansa has done that you can steal and apply in your own environment. Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
When people let you into their inbox, you really should treat them with a little respect. This means reading the messages they send you, and giving them genuine contact preferences. Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
When Levine, Locke, Searls and Weinberger told us in The Cluetrain Manifesto (1999) "Markets are conversations" we should have readily seen the corollary would not be far behind: Conversations become markets. Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
What do senior public policy experts and government leaders really think about public opinion research? A new study provides insight. Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
Keurig wanted to capture every nickel, every penny, from every cup of coffee. It didn't work. And in the process they damaged their brand. They wound up looking greedy, out of touch with their customers, and insensitive to growing environmental concerns. Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
I've had a Vimeo Pro account for a few years, and have been really happy with them. I recently completed a survey for them. This was the last page. I found this screen quite problematic for a few reasons: [1] They didn't tell the truth about their intentions up front. The purpose of the survey was stated as (broadly) understanding our experience and improving the service. [2] They want to impose a pretty high standard on the individual offering the testimonial. Contacting them if your opinion changes, for example. Can you imagine actually trying to do that, and how much aggravation you would encounter? [3] Completely one sided. They get to choose what my testimonial is and how to use it, including my avatar, and I get ... umm, well, nothing. Seeing this actually changed my impressions of the company. I found them to be less trustworthy than I had... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
In the digital era, it is challenging to be a responsible consumer. Pre-digital shopping was kind of simple. If I buy a toaster in a store and pay cash, there is a very limited exchange of information. We have added a few things to that transaction now that permit data gathering, like loyalty cards, electronic transactions that capture some information, and so on. But the toaster itself was pretty straightforward. Even though it probably has instructions, you probably threw them in the recycling without reading them. Even relatively complex transactions, like buying a home or a car did not give the other participants in the transaction much ongoing right to information other than whether I made my payments on time. Okay, they got your credit bureau. But they didn't get your browsing history, did they? And these kinds of transactions have a LOT of consumer protection built into them. Buying... Continue reading
Posted Apr 22, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
If you are charging someone's account every month, you are in a trust relationship you need to earn every month. This is the essence of the Software as a Service marketplace. So don't be evil with confusing instructions, strange cancellation policies, and other gotchas if you want brand advocates. Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
Ancient cultures may have their shamans, but modern culture has some unusual roles emerging as well. The cultural curator role has expanded enormously, with both professional and amateur versions. People with Pinterest boards, many blogs and blog-like content sites are not so much new content as they are curated content -- the curator shares their taste in something, sifting and sorting what they find into consumable information bits for others. There are certainly paid cultural curators -- they hang out in journalism in the fashion pages, they may be professional speakers, or even celebrities in their own right. (An example isn't popping into mind right now, but perhaps Gwyneth Paltrow would be pretty close. Although she was a celebrity for skills other than her opinions about taste.) A role that is not much talked about is the explainer. Explainers are not experts in the fields they explain, so much as... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
free training about brainstorming in this new video series Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
we're getting closer to the launch of the new Idea Studio Marketplace. It's going to be awesome. Sign up for updates here. Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2015 at Customer Crossroads
This blog started in December 2004, when blogging was still sexy and new. Or newish, anyway. In early 2012, I was feeling really restless about the content, as my professional interests were shifting more and more towards creativity and innovation. So the blog was renamed The Idea Studio, and took on a new domain, while still keeping the old one. Well, more changes are coming soon. The Idea Studio is going to have its own home and its own new site, where it will become a marketplace for creativity tools. I'll be telling you lots more about that soon. And this blog will carry on under its old banner of Customer Crossroads. I'll still post here from time to time about customer experience topics, and the related things that catch my interest. And the existing content, close to 1000 posts, will still be here of course. Over the next few... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
The recent spate of celebrity bad behavior (Bill Cosby, Jian Ghomeshi) has really brought home how much our individual and collective judgement is colored by unrelated facts. We can all learn to suspend judgement, to listen better. Continue reading
Posted Dec 4, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
People talk about the high rate of new product failures (about 85%) as if there is no way to change it, and no way to understand the market. Like innovation is some kind of hit and miss affair, or magic. It's not. Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
Economists seem to have finally determined that rational theories of behavior are in fact not descriptive of reality. Other disciplines knew that, but we are finally getting some convergence of research. This is a good thing. Continue reading
Posted Oct 20, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
When CIBC sold their Aerogold portfolio, they sold me along with it. I didn't want to be sold. And the process involved in switching is proving to be a big hassle. So I'm not quite as loyal as I used to be. Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
Call centre staff are now trained to turn transactional encounters into sales opportunities. This is a good idea, as long as it doesn't become pushy. How to avoid being pushy in this situation is simple: ask for permission. Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
Were Pine and Gilmour just restating Abraham Maslow? Kind of looks that way, according to Michael Mattalo of Fifth P, when talking about employees as part of the customer experience and the brand. [Still blogging live from CMA's Customer Experience conference] Mr. Mattalo says we typically only look at the front line employees' connection to the brand, but should be looking at everyone. He offers a great illustrative example -- corporate legal department that is responsible for the legal agreements which so commonly do not align with the brand at all. Policies, processes, systems and facilities are often not covered in the brand book. [Why is this so hard? I feel like I have been talking about this stuff for more than a decade... wait, I have. Very tough to execute.] WestJet's employee slogan, "owners care" is a nice example of how to activate company brand internally. What is your... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
Here at the CMA Customer Experience conference #cmacx, the first presenter Dr. A.K.Pradeep is talking about what we know about the brain. And it is clear to me that we are violating a lot of these rules in many (most?) categories. His initial statement is a grabber -- we need to consider a sequence like this: attention -- emotion -- memory retention. He says that 95% of our thinking/decisions are non-conscious. Music is a driver -- emotion is an effect. [I wish you could see his jacket, with sequin collar and cuffs.] 7 dimensions that are important to the brain 1 Do I have enough information to decide? A category-busting metric -- e.g. in cameras it is megapixels. In computers it is gigahertz. In colas, it is zero calories. Ask yourself what is the category-busting metric -- if you don't have one, the consumer will default to price. For the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
Recently, a package from Lands' End showed up at our house. Except it was not for us.Bit of a delivery error. My spouse, a good guy if ever there was one, helped the package find it's way to the right destination, a couple of blocks from our home. In order to do this, he had to contact Lands' End to get the correct address. Not only were they grateful, but they sent him a nice gift certificate for $25.00. How do you say thank you? Related articles Is loyalty a one way street? What The top 5 things that best drive a client/customer experience with your organization? Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
I do believe if you really work at these five things, your business will do better than if you don't. Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
I've been talking to Anne Crassweller of NADbank about research and the challenges faced by companies like hers, so I know this is going to be an interesting session. NADbank collects the data about readership for the daily newspaper industry, how many people read a newspaper every day and throughout the week, and all the related data. Frank Graves is a major figure in political polling, and has been a big advocate of IVR polling. This is where you pick up the phone, and get to respond to a very small number of polling questions through an interactive voice response. I kind of enjoy these, they are fast, and usually interesting. And faster than a real person, frankly. Anne: It's all about the sample. But that doesn't mean we can do, or want to do things, the way we did them in the past. Consumers do not all use land... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
I'm a big fan of having people take videos and pictures of events in their lives, whether that is using an ATM machine or walking their dog. And with smart phones, handhelds and tablets, all of this is just so much easier to do. So I'm of course interested to see what kinds of things Caroline Fletcher will be showing us. Why use mobile video ethnography: genuine behavior creative expression cost effective pre-post task - review footage together There are so many ways to approach qualitative research projects, when do these approaches make sense? when people would not want a researcher there. e.g. carving the Thanksgiving turkey, other private or special moments capturing pain points, like setting up HDTV, setting up home internet WiFi, IKEA furniture assembly Saw a nice sample of some edited video. Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
I met Tom deRuyck at the speakers dinner last night. We had a lively discussion about what "community" means in the context of marketing research, and found that we largely agreed with each other! He says his firm has done more than 500 communities in the last 8 years. Based on that, these are the things that companies need to survive: being open - embracing the empowered consumer being agile - moving quickly to respond to consumers The average CEO finds this scary, and some bravery is needed to be open and agile. Most companies do not have two-way dialogues with consumers, even when they claim to. They are concerned about what will be said if they actually open up a dialogue. deRuyck asserts that marketing (in campaigns) and research (ad hoc projects) are not responding to the continuous nature of experience. Silos in departments, and process-oriented marketing result in... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2014 at Customer Crossroads
Love the title of this presentaiton - "Behavioral Economics: New, or just new to you?" You will be familiar with Annie Pettit from her @lovestats Twitter feed and terrific blog of the same name. She thinks it's a whole lotta hooey. Interesting start! [Can't say I agree totally, but I am a little tired of people trying to explain all of human motivation through loss aversion tendencies.] Definition: Behavioral economics is the application of insights and research from psychology to economics. Basic tenet behind BE: humans are irrational. No surprise there. Next up: she shows a number of historical figures dating from Adam Smith and covering the next 300 years. People who all documented how human behavior is not fully rational. Her real argument here, I think, is that there is a lot of documented psychology (e.g. Asch conformity studies in the 50s, MIlgram obedience experiments, Zimbardo situational studies with... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2014 at Customer Crossroads