CX Notes from the Field: I Believe What You Do, Not What You Say


I went to log onto AT&T’s website today, and I was greeted with a warning from my password manager (the incomparable 1Password by AgileBits). It cautioned me that I’d be submitting my password using an unsecured HTTP page.

1Password looking out for my security online

Wait. What? Was that right?

I took a look, and, sure enough, no lock icon was present in the address bar. That means that someone on the same network as me could intercept my data. Whoa! Not good!

Now, this situation is probably something that most AT&T customers will never notice, but that doesn’t make it less real for them. I was only made aware of the issue because 1Password looks out for me. If it detects a questionable situation, such as an easy-to-guess password or an unsecured form, it warns me. AgileBits cares deeply about their customers’ security online, and over the past few years they’ve added features that go beyond simply keeping passwords safely encrypted and easily accessible by their owner.

AgileBits has made the security of their customers one of their top concerns, to the point that it has become a core principle at the company.

It doesn’t take a mission statement or a blog post from the CEO for me to get that AgileBits is committed to my security online. (Besides, we’re so used to getting lip service from companies that such claims aren’t often believed anyway.) With AgileBits, I can see plainly from their actions that they give a damn.

Living your company’s values attracts and retains customers who have similar concerns and priorities. When a business acts in accordance with its values, that resonates with aligned customers. Conversely, when a business acts against its values — or if it has poorly defined values and fosters confusion by sometimes acting one way and sometimes another — it creates discord that can turn customers off and give them a reason to take their business to a competitor.

In her excellent book, I Love You More Than My Dog, Jeanne Bliss calls this having “clarity of purpose,” and it’s one of the foundational principles that beloved companies share. She writes:

Beloved companies take the time to be clear about what their unique promise is for their customers’ lives. They use this clarity when they make decisions so they align to this purpose, to this promise. Clarity of purpose guides choices and unites the organization. It elevates people from executing tasks to delivering experiences customers will want to repeat and tell others about.

When an organization has clarity of purpose, it’s easier for them to make decisions. I worked at backup software company that had clarity of purpose. What mattered the most to them was that their customers could restore their computer to a functioning state. If a developer found a way to increase backup performance, it had to also have zero negative impact on restore reliability. Otherwise, it went against the company’s clarity of purpose, and they would not implement such functionality.

With AgileBits, their brand promise is clear; I get it from their actions. With AT&T, I’m left scratching my head.

The AT&T website has several articles on their website about security and how I can protect myself in a variety of situations. One of them covers the dangers of using an unsecured public Wi-Fi network. Another educates me about phishing and fake websites. It seems that AT&T cares about my security.

But then I go to log onto att.com and 1Password throws up a warning that my login and password can be intercepted, because AT&T has chosen an unsafe method of login. Wow. That’s worrisome. What AT&T is showing me with this action goes against their claim that they care about my security. Like most people, I’ll believe actions over words.

What are your company’s actions — including those taken by your employees and in the operation of your products — telling your customers? What kind of experience are those actions creating? Is that the experience that you want your customers to have and share with their friends, family, and colleagues?

It’s time to get proactive about your customers’ experiences. I can guarantee that your competitors soon will, if they haven’t already. As Brian Solis, leading marketing blogger and author of What’s the Future of Business, puts it:

“Customer (and employee) experience happens with or without you; so, design it.”
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