This past weekend my wife and I attended what is called The
One Day University.  This was our first
experience and we committed ourselves to a full day from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM to
learn from a variety of topics delivered by eight stellar professors all from different
institutes of higher learning.  The four classes
that I personally chose and that interested me the most were the following.
  • 1.
    The Civil War and Abraham Lincoln: What’s Fact
    and What’s Fiction?
  • 2.
    The Science of Happiness
  • 3.
    Everything You Must Know About Sleep (But were
    too tired to ask)
  • 4.
    Untangling the Web: Why the Middle East is a
    Mess and Always Has Been
This seemed to me like the most diverse set of topics and my
primary goal in listening to these particular lectures was simply to absorb and
remain completely open to thoughts and ideas as they relate to life experiences
in general and to my work as a Customer Experience professional.
It was intriguing to me that after having spent a full day
in academic lectures that spanned such a wide array of topics that I could have
emerged with insights about my own career and experiences on the receiving end
of being a customer.  Let’s begin with
the obvious.
I willingly signed up for this One Day University which was
not free but was modestly priced.  The
topics themselves were the biggest part of the draw for me, but price and
perceived value set my expectations right from the start.  The professors / lecturers came from among
the most prestigious Ivy League institutions—Harvard, Amherst, Georgetown,
Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, and Rutgers. One hour presentations followed by
15-20 minutes of engaging and solid Q&A.
Setting expectations is such a key element in the customer
experience.  Get that wrong and the rest
really doesn’t matter.
So how might Abraham Lincoln, the science of happiness, sleep
or the Middle East, further relate to customer experience?  The following were my connections and takeaways.  Let’s begin with sleep.
Sleep is a significant factor in determining your happiness
and sleep is a proven predictor of athletic performance and clear thinking.  The reality is that sleep is a necessity and
not a luxury.  The average person
requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
This resonated with my feeling about the reality of a positive customer
experience—it’s a present day business necessity.  Treat it as some exception or luxury and
suffer the consequences.
I learned that 50% of our happiness derives from our genes
and so the other half we must create within our personal ecosystem. I also
learned about the three main components of happiness—(1) meaning in our
relationships with others, (2) engagement and anticipation, and (3)
pleasure.  As I started thinking about
this from a career perspective and knowing the undeniable connection between
employee engagement and customer satisfaction, it occurred to me that happiness
in one’s work is a combined responsibility between employee and employer.  Lose sight of this and you can see where
customer experience can drop off and business outcomes can take a big hit as a
Lincoln was President of the US during the “War of the
Rebellion” or more commonly known as the Civil War—which was anything but
civil.  Lincoln was a storyteller and we
realize the power of storytelling within our own organizations.  At one point, in an attempt explain his views
on the abolition of slavery, Lincoln told a somewhat deflecting story involving
a group of clergy debating and obsessing over how they might cross a particular
river when the eldest of them explained that there was no use in debating this since
in his own experience he never crossed a river until he came to it.  That caused me to reflect upon how many times
I might have engaged in a solving problem exercise long before the problem ever
presented itself.  This is not to say
that thinking ahead doesn’t have merit, but sometimes the pre-planned and
rehearsed responses are the ones that come across as rather insincere.  As consumers, how many times have we heard
the cliché “Have a nice day” coming at us within three hours of midnight?
The complexities of the Middle East are dynamic and
countless for sure and that train of thought led me toward thinking about how
complex and dynamic customers are as well.
As Customer Experience professionals we understand that our mission and
work is never complete and it requires constant attention. But that’s what
keeps us moving forward.  We believe that
the ultimate goal of creating more rewarding and memorable customer experiences
will lead toward better business outcomes and an overall better world for
consumers and for businesses alike.
As a customer, The One Day University experience for me was
a microcosm of the world in general.   Everything I heard and learned connected with
me as a consumer and with my professional discipline.  I’m allowing myself to get more sleep now as
an experiment to prove some of the facts I learned in that session.  I’m working on that 50% of happiness that is
within my control.  I’m thinking of more
stories that I can use to help give color to some of the more black and white
topics I often have to work with. Not too small a set of outcomes for one day!!

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