This movie tells the story of the 70-year-old Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a widower who is tired of being retired. Trying to get back in action, he seizes the opportunity to land a job on an online fashion website. It is a comedy-drama that also features Anne Hathaway, as Jules Ostin, a young entrepreneur, who dedicated her life to this start up that grew too fast and now feels the pains of growth. Jules is heavily overloaded and has no time for the family and prefers not to face her problems to avoid spending too much time on it. Ben is part of a kind of mandatory senior internship program, but Jules does not want anyone working too close to her, especially an intern, even more if this intern is 70 years old. The reality is that she needs his help, as a senior business person, as a driver, as a support on her many different roles and mainly as a best friend. It turns out that she finds out that she can handle the hurdles of the growing business, as long as she has his support and delegates some stuff.
This movie has a number of scenes that gives us material to discuss here many different aspects of CX and leadership for CX.
1) Customer Service Sequence 1:
Jules on the phone with a bride with no dress. Somehow the pink dress purchased was delivered in charcoal grey and the wedding is 3 days away. Empathy and solution – Jules apologized for the mistake and took full responsibility for the problem. Did not ask questions, simply solved the problem by shipping a new dress. To show she really cares, she offered to refund the full amount of the dress, as a compensation for the stress created on the bride 3 days before her wedding. To make even more personal, she offered her cell phone number in case anything went wrong again. She promissed to check on the dress personaly before it is shipped and she will most likely actually do it. The secret of success here is that she made the problem hers instead of the Customer’s. She made it personal, she offered an immediate solution, with guarantees, to fully remos the stress and she went beyond the expectation of the Customer, by offering the full refund, so the Customer will always remember the solution, instead of the problem itself. You can be sure people will know about this solution. Another important issue here is that she did not try to find out where the problem was while the Customer was waiting. She solved it in the spot and will figure out what needs to be changed to avoid the problem to happen again later. This issue also involved a supplier and Jules did not care whether the problem was created by the supplier or not. She offered a solution and would discuss with the supplier later and mainly, she did not push the Customer to talk to the supplier, outsourcing the problem resolution. She kept the solution for herself, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because she can use that to provide the Recovery that will keep the Customer coming back, that makes the Customer become a fan. She wants the Customer to be her fan and not her supplier’s.
2) Customer Service Sequence 2:
When Jules’ assistant comes to take her to go do other stuff that she was already late, Jules explains that she loves to take a few Customer Service calls sometimes, as this is a great opportunity for her to learn. This is the same that Walt Disney used to do with his senior executives. Ask them to go to the parks to meet the Customers and do clerical work so they could see first hand the problems the cast members face every day, so better solutions could be developed for the sake of better Customer Experiences, but also for Employee Experiences and for more profitable business. One can only understand the Customers if they are close enough. Customer Experience requires exposure and it takes real life solutions that address the fundamental needs of the Customers. This is something I would strongly recommend, being in the front from time to time to keep the feeling on how to deal with Custmers alive. Nothing worse than a desk to cloud your vision of how to improve your business.
3) Receptionist Sequence:
The receptionist is the image of your company to the world, together with all people that are out there facing the Customers, in person or over the phone or a live chat. Showing Courtesy is not only the right thing to do, but the smartest thing to do. It is the right thing because you make people’s lives better, but at the same time, you are prompting people to a better interaction, with less stress, more patience and most likely with a better outcome. In business Courtesy improves the financial results and the Customer Loyalty. This receptionist was very nice and welcoming. Ben was not a Customer, but he could well be. Regardless he is a person, that deserves respect and why not, a drop of Courtesy. That probably makes his day better and the receptionist’s day better as well. This behavior must be fostered within the organizations, because everyone wins.
4) Interview Sequence:
This sequence is great to illustrate that the protocol doesn’t necessarily provide all the right directions while interacting with another person. Being a Customer or a candidate, it doesn’t matter. Every time we interact with another person, we have to be smart enough to understand that every person is different and the pre-conceived ideas we have may not apply to everyone. One-size-fits-all does not work in most Customer interfaces, particularly in a fashion shopping business. In this sequence, the interviewer used the good old script to interview Ben, asking a 70 year old man where he sees himself in 10 years (typical HR question while interviewing an intern – but not a 70 year old intern). Clearly an inappropriate question. This is an important lesson while we are interacting with Customers. The script is just guidance and not something to be used across the board. Good judgement should prevail, to allow every interface to be customized, making the Customer feel important. Quality standards and prepare responses to specific cases is a great idea, as long as you prepare your people to read the situation and use the script as guidance for decision making and for proper responses.
5) Getting a Soup Sequence:
In this sequence, Jules had a meeting with a potential CEO for her company. She was very nervous with the meeting and she had nothing to eat. Ben, paying attention to her emotional state and to the fact that she did not have anything to eat, bought her a bowl of soup from a place he knows. The CX lesson here is that we must be attentive to what our Customers will see as value at any given time of their Journey with our Brand, Products and Services. This very simple and inexpensive gesture addressed a few things. He was able to deal with her emotions, with her senses and with her basic needs at the same time. This was unexpected gift to warm up the stomach and the soul. Remember, she was stressed out and probably dealing with fear. He made her feel taken care of as soon as she entered the car. He also used the smell of the soup to trigger a memorable feeling. She will not forget that. He also addressed her hunger. But most of all, did you see how she reacted to the whole thing, smell, surprise, timeliness? She was clearly having a strong positive reaction, that helped her to deal with the bad feelings she brought into the car from her meeting. You never know when someone needs you to support them, but in this case, Ben knew. He caused a huge positive impact out of a simple and inexpensive treat. This is what CX is all about. Creating those “magical” moments that will stick to our brains and shape our decisions going forward. Later in the movie she regretted not wanting him around. Why? Because people may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
6) Secret Shopper Sequence:
In this sequence, Jules plays the Secret shopper. She purchases something to be delivered to her place to check the quality of the packaging, which is an important differentiation of her company’s offering. The Experience of the Customers while unboxing their products is part of the overall Experience which makes this company so successful in such a short period. This is an important action in CX. We shall never lose sight of what our Customers are getting from us and we need to make sure we remain consistent while delivering whatever we deliver to them. Keep trying what you are offering.
7) Warehouse Sequence:
In this sequence, after realizing that the quality of the packaging is not up to the standards, Jules goes to the warehouse where the packages are made and brings the team around her to show how it is done. That’s what a real CX leader does. Walks the talk and goes to the front to help the team to understand what good quality is. Jules at the same time is training the team, showing first-hand what good quality packaging is, also showing the value that are behind the success of the company and is also engaging the team to deliver better quality. It is not a procedures book that shows what needs to be done. It’s the owner that shows what that procedure is all about. Looks like the team is happy about it. She did not go there to find who made the mistake. She went there to show the importance of doing it right. She makes it personal. More than an operational directive, she was there to show the value the good package delivers.
8) Dress to Impress Sequence:
An intern colleague, much younger by the way, is always dressed like he was working on his basement. When confronted with a situation where he could potentially be going to a Customer’s place and knowing this Customer was Jay Z, he panicked, as he did not know how to behave. The first thing Ben told him to do was to “Dress to Impress”. This is a very old technique in business, but still very effective. The image you portray says a lot about you and the company you represent. When you display a overly comfortable wardrobe, you may be saying that you don’t care about your Customer. When you dress up you are showing a sign of respect. Why indigenous people used to paint their bodies to go to war? Because it sends out a message. The proper clothing is fundamental to deliver the message that you respect the Customer and that you care enough to put on the appropriate clothes. Dress to Impress actually works.
9) Coffee Sequence:
This is a sequence that talks about humility. Jules had asked another executive in the company to transfer Ben because she felt uncomfortable with his presence. That happened before she could see how much he could be of help to her. When the executive transferred him to another job, she realized she made a mistake. She was not afraid of putting herself in a very humble position. She went after him, where he was picking up coffee to others and she apologized for her mistake and even offered help doing that typical intern job. Servant Leaders are not afraid of changing their minds and being vulnerable. When leaders behave like Servant leaders, making themselves available, having open conversations, with no Egos involved, they multiply the team’s capacity to deliver Great Customer Experiences.
10) Handkerchief Sequence:
This scene, although some may find it sexist, the concept behind it is very important. All we have to do is to expand the concept to everyone. In this sequence Ben explains to his colleague what are the handkerchiefs all about. It is all about Chivalry – We use handkerchiefs for the others not for ourselves. The idea behind that is to be of service. You never know when someone may need your help, may need a handkerchief. It is about thinking of others before you leave home and carrying something that can be actually used by someone else. However the handkerchief is just a symbol. What you are giving when you offer the handkerchief is your attention, your sensibility to that persons moment of vulnerability and you are there to support them. Those who understand the True Meaning of Service, always carry “handkerchiefs” in their pockets to offer to others. Courtesy is a type of “handkerchief” that we can always carry along and we can offer at any time.
11) Zoom In Sequence:
In this sequence Jules is informed that the Zoom-In function on her website is not working. Just a technical issue. Just a simple functionality, right? Wrong. Jules understands that one of the distinctions of her website is the ability the Customers have to look at the quality of the products they sell in detail. This means that the Zoom In function of her website not being available significantly impacts the Customer Experience, therefore their interest in purchasing. This functionality affects the sales, but also the Customers’ Satisfaction. This is why she gets so nervous with such a simple functionality on her website. She has a commitment to the quality of what she delivers and to the Experience of her Customers, reason why she never takes issues that impact Customers for granted.
12) Hotel Minibar Sequence:
In this sequence Jules and Ben are discussing, in the middle of the night, her most private issues in her marriage. As the conversation goes, she is so nervous that she needs to grab a bite and she goes directly to the Minibar to get some stuff, like a snacks. Ben immediately calls her attention to the outrageous price of that stuff. You can see on Ben’s face that he is very uncomfortable with this situation. The offering of a US$ 7 water bottle, or a US$12 bag of chips, which some people may see as a convenience to the Customer, frequently is seen by the Customer as a very bad type of exploitation. Most people do not eat or drink stuff from the minibar, exactly because it is expensive and those who do, feel guilty after doing it. The hotels that do this are pushing their Customers away. They make the Customers crave for those snacks and make them frustrated because they cannot consume, as their companies will not pay and they do not accept the idea of paying from their pockets. The hotels that truly care about the Customers Experiences, they offer the convenience at a reasonable price, which incentivizes the Customers to purchase and they make money over volume and not margin and at the same time make Customers happy.
13) Wedding Dress Sequence:
In this scene, the bride that Jules took care of in the beginning of the movie sends a picture of all bride’s maids dressed by her company, with the intent to thank her for the amazing job she did fixing the problem, which made the most important day of her life a success. This is a happy Customer, sharing that happiness with you. This is an invaluable Experience that will probably go beyond a simple Thank You note. This bride will be talking about this for so long, to so many different people. The investment Jules made, by refunding her payment, will become free of charge marketing, but not just any marketing, but the best type of Marketing. The one made by the Customer telling their story. This is a great way to measure the ROX (Return on Experience), the Experiential equivalent to ROI (Return on Investment).
This movie is filled with Customer Experiences for us to explore, but the ones above are the main ones. As you watch the movie, if you find some other CX messages worth talking about, please let us know, so we can start a discussion around those.
We hope you enjoyed learning how CX goes to Hollywood.