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I go to a lot of conferences. A lot. And frankly, I’m sick and tired of all the bad nametag design that I see — even, or I should say especially, at DESIGN conferences. Here the major problems:

  • Tiny type. Type sizes that are easy to read on a screen or on a printout that you’re holding can be completely illegible in the common conference scenario of viewing a nametag from several feet away (and often sideways).
  • Poor foreground/background contrast. I was at a conference a couple weeks back where my nametag was royal blue with black type. I doubt anyone could read it.
  • Poor information design. The most important pieces of information on a nametag are the attendee’s first name, company, and last name. In. that. order. And yet, most nametags neglect to create any sort of typographical hierarchy. As a reminder, we have different type sizes for a reason.
  • Confusing status indicators. At the conference where I had the blue nametag, others’ name tags were either yellow or white. And some of the white nametags had red dots on them. What did it all mean?? It felt like there was some secret class system that only the conference organizers knew about.
  • An over abundance of logos. The front of the nametags at one design conference I recently attended were half — yes half! — covered in sponsor logos. The extreme clutter made it difficult to focus on any single piece of information.
  • One-sided nametags. Every double-sided nametag I’ve seen has the attendee’s name on the front and other information (or nothing) on the back. And yet many lanyards allow for easy nametag flipping throughout the day, causing the attendee’s name to face his/her shirt instead of other attendees’ eyes.

These problems produce a variety of awkward interactions between attendees:

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I’m often asked about customer experience conferences: What’s out there? Where am I speaking? Which conferences would I recommend?

I’ve compiled the following list of conferences spanning a variety of topics — like CEM, service design, customer loyalty, customer success, and contact centers — that should be of interest to a wide range of customer experience professionals. I've organized the events based on the types of organizations hosting them: professional associations, event producers, service providersmedia companiesanalyst firms, and tech vendors. And, as the title of this post implies, I'll be keeping this list up to date on a rolling basis.

Am I missing an upcoming event? Please let me know!

Event Producers

Middle East's Customer Festival
November 18 – 19, 2014
Dubai

Next Generation Patient Experience
December 2 – 4, 2014
Dallas, Texas

IQPC CX Impact
December 8 – 10, 2014
New Orleans

Customer Experience World
December 8 – 9,  2014
Dubai

IQPC Call Center Executive Exchange
January 25 – 27, 2015
Orlando, Florida

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In recent years, the size and scope of loyalty programs have grown to the point that nearly every customer interaction — from commerce transactions to core product/service usage — is intrinsically tied to either a loyalty program earning scheme or a reward. It’s impossible to shop at a major grocery or drugstore chain without seeing discounts exclusively for members. Most customer-facing point of sale systems are programmed to ask for program identification (like a card swipe or phone number entry) before proceeding to payment screens. And if you’re a frequent flier, every moment that your derrière is in an airplane seat gets you that much closer to a free flight—unless, of course, you paid for your current flight with miles.

As this trend continues to grow, marketers must make sure that they design their loyalty programs to deliver a great experience. The earning scheme and rewards of a program are the core building blocks of that experience. When properly calibrated — “What I’m giving is fair for what I’m getting” — they’re the primary drivers for making the program useful to customers.

The time lapse between earning and rewards also plays into usefulness. Loyalty programs were originally devised to incentivize long-term behavior, and so long-term rewards were naturally the norm. But consumers’ increasing need for instant gratification is changing that. My husband recently signed up for the loyalty program at clothing retailer G-Star after the clerk informed him that his current purchases qualified him for an instant $50 discount. And the free-shipping benefit of Amazon Prime is available as soon as a customer pays her $99.

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The good news: companies of all shapes and sizes are implementing Voice of the Customer programs.  The bad news: customers are being inundated with feedback surveys. Just this week, I’ve received survey requests from United Airlines, my veterinarian, my gym, and Airbnb. Airbnb’s was the only one I filled out. Here’s what Airbnb’s email invitation did right:

It addressed me in a friendly tone. Airbnb’s email opened up with “Hi Kerry,” which immediately set it apart from typical survey invites with more formal (and emotionally distant) language — like the “Dear Kerry Bodine:” salutation used by United (a company that should actually know me much more intimately than Airbnb does). Not only was this greeting effective at drawing me in, it subtly reinforced the new Airbnb brand value of belonging. (I wouldn’t expect anyone to say, “Hi Kerry,” to me in a place where I didn’t belong.)

It told me exactly how long the survey would take. “It’ll only take 3 minutes.” How long did the survey actually take? 4:08 from the time that I clicked the link in the email until I got to the “And you’re done!” page. Sure, this was a tad longer than promised three minutes, but I doubt that any customer without a stopwatch would notice the difference. (I also took screenshots as I went along, which probably added 30+ seconds to a normal person’s completion time.) Compare this to an email I got from Omni Hotels & Resorts several months ago that asked me to “take a few minutes to tell us what you think.” Five minutes into the survey I looked up at the status bar to find that I was only 20% through the survey — and promptly closed my browser tab.

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In a recent post, I talked about the increasing complexity of loyalty programs — and how the earning schemes that marketers employ can influence customers’ perceptions of not only the program, but of the brand itself. However, it’s not just loyalty program inputs that have gotten complex. Program outputs — the rewards that customers get for their continued business — have become just as, if not more, diverse and convoluted.

The most typical (and simple) output is something free or discounted from the company who’s providing the program: a free sandwich, an upgraded hotel room for the price of a standard one, or $25 off the next purchase. Such exchanges make the value proposition of continued patronage quite clear to customers. (“I give X, I get Y.”)

But in recent years, marketers have turned loyalty earnings into virtual currencies that can be exchanged for just about anything imaginable. After amassing a ridiculous excess of United Airlines miles several years ago, I redeemed them — not for flights, but for a DSLR camera, a Samsung TV, and a wine fridge. Starwood Preferred Guest members have point redemption options as diverse as a donation to The American Red Cross or an opportunity to meet singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow at an upcoming concert. By aligning their loyalty programs with other products, services, experiences, and causes that are important to their customers, marketers can create a halo effect for their own brands.

Recognition — via status tiers or exclusivity — is another common output of loyalty programs. It is perhaps the most seductive of rewards, but also the most insidious...

Read the full post on underlinecom.com.

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