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The Modern Customer Podcast

Go behind the scenes with customer experience leader Blake Morgan to explore the secrets of the world’s most customer-centric companies. Blake is one of the world’s top keynote speakers, authority on customer experience and the bestselling author of “The Customer Of The Future” The Modern Customer reaches thousands of people each week conveying a message of how we make people feel - in business and in life - matters. Her weekly show explores how businesses can make customers’ lives easier and better, featuring experts that provide simple, tangible advice you can immediately apply at your own organization. Today’s customers have the luxury of choice. The answer is simple; choose customer experience and customers will choose you. Learn how to put a stake in the ground on customer experience by tuning into The Modern Customer Podcast each week with Blake Morgan.
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Now displaying: 2019
May 14, 2019

Digital transformation can have numerous goals, from saving money to improving customer satisfaction. But at Sprint, the goal is to empower both internal and external customers to do what they want, where they want, when they want. Rob Roy and this team called The Hive take a unique approach to finding creative technology solutions that meet the needs of customers and employees.

Digital transformation at Sprint is a reverse cultural transformation. It means embracing new ideas and working across the company to build long-term, sustainable products. A major focus of the digital transformation is internal, with the philosophy that if employees have the tools they need to succeed in the digital world, it will spread to customers. Roy often brings on digital natives with fresh ideas to his team. They also partner with startups and other entrepreneurs who have fresh perspectives on the future of digital.

In order to build a successful digital transformation that is accepted within the company, Roy says that it’s important to ask two questions:

  1. What is the direction of the company, and how does digital transformation align with those goals?
  2. What is the customer saying? What are their main pain points?

Combining the answers to those questions can help companies prioritize the areas that are the highest need and that will have the biggest impact. Sprint uses customer feedback, analytics and real interactions with sales representatives to set its digital transformation priorities. After all, digital transformation isn’t effective if it isn’t accepted by employees and goes against the goals of the company.

Instead of simply building digital products and hoping for the best, the team at Sprint gets input from employees and customers on what matters to them. Members of the digital transformation team flew to platinum care centers and sat with top care representatives for weeks to listen to their calls and understand how agents go about their days and work with their systems. Seeing the technology in action helped identify pain points and ways new technology could improve the efficiency and work of the representatives. The team then built a program called AI Agent Assist that is tailored to how representatives actually interact with customers. Many companies get pushback on new technology because the systems aren’t intuitive and require too much change, but Sprint’s new programs are familiar to employees because they played a role in designing them. Instead of working in an isolated box, Roy says it’s important for teams to work shoulder to shoulder across the organization.

For Sprint’s digital transformation, it’s important to embrace new ideas and create an innovative environment. Roy and his team spend hours every week thinking through processes. They experiment with new technology, brainstorm with outside thought leaders and surround themselves with people who want to press beyond the norm.

Staying close to customers and embracing new ideas has helped Sprint’s slightly unconventional digital transformation lead to amazing results that are driving future ideas.

 

May 1, 2019

Are loyalty programs worth the cost? According to research by Citi, the answer is a resounding yes. As the company transformed its rewards program and analyzed customer preferences, it found that modern customers are more loyal and valuable when they participate in a loyalty program with a great experience.

Mary Hines, Head of Customer Engagement and Innovation at Citi Cards, aims to deliver a seamless experience across all customer touch points. Customer loyalty programs are critical, especially in the retail and financial services spaces. What started in the 1980s for airlines and was often viewed as an unnecessary expense is actually a powerful way to engage with customers. Citi surveyed 1,000 consumers and found that 89% are more loyal to businesses where they are a rewards member. Citi customers who redeem their points spend twice as much as customers who don’t redeem their points. That engagement and loyalty can make a huge contribution to customer retention and the bottom line.

However, not all loyalty programs are created equal. When Hines started with Citi in 2012, customers had to call the company or use a website to redeem their points. Now, the vast majority of customers redeem their points through a mobile app for intuitive and convenient access to their rewards. Citi’s research also found that 83% of consumers are more likely to participate in a loyalty program if they can access the program easily from their mobile phone. That number jumps to 94% for millennials.

In many ways, customer loyalty programs reflect customer experience as a whole. Customers want resources that are accessible and applicable. They don’t want to go out of their way or jump through hoops to access a loyalty program. They also want personalized offers. Citi’s survey found that 95% of customers who are enrolled in loyalty programs are more likely to engage if they can get personalized offers. Hines has made a push to partner Citi with other popular retailers so that customers can easily redeem their rewards points right where they already shop, including Amazon, Best Buy and 1-800-FLOWERS. Rewards redemption also varies around the world based on culture and customer preferences.

Customer engagement has a huge impact on loyalty. Providing a seamless and forward-thinking rewards program that is driven by digital can create a band of loyal customers who provide incredible value to a brand. Engaging with customers and getting more of their loyalty drives the bottom line and creates a company that customers are proud to be a part of.

 

Apr 23, 2019

Two of the biggest buzzwords in customer experience are AI and empathy. But are the two concepts mutually exclusive, or can they be used together to create a harmonious customer experience?

Dr. Rob Walker, Vice President Decision Management at Pegasystems, believes customer-facing AI initiatives can be programed to be empathetic. However, empathy is often lacking in customer interactions. It’s difficult for customers to feel empathy from brands when they are being spammed, have to repeat themselves constantly or are forced into irrelevant conversations. The majority of modern customer interactions are driven by AI, and there is a need to add empathy to those conversations.

In order to show empathy in the customer experience, Dr. Walker says brands must make every conversation one-to-one. Many companies fall into the trap of traditional marketing and send the same message to every customer, which often ends up with customers getting multiple messages from different departments of the same company. It’s confusing and overwhelming. A one-to-one conversation focuses on the need of each individual instead of simply blasting them with the same message as everyone else.

Another important principle is to take the customer’s view. Companies need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes and consider if their approach is appropriate or relevant. Just because a company can sell a customer something, should it? Understanding a customer’s circumstance can quickly build and show empathy.

Personal experiences naturally build more empathy. It’s easier for customers to see empathy from a company when they interact with the brand one on one instead of just being part of the masses. AI plays a crucial role in identifying opportunities for a personalized approach. AI allows companies to target specific customers. It can decide the most relevant approach in real time that creates the most mutual value for customers. Instead of human employees having to guess their way through a conversation, AI makes it possible for companies to be more exact in their approach.  

Combining AI and empathy to best connect with customers can require a culture shift in many companies. In a truly customer-centric organization, different departments won’t compete with each other because they want to do what is best for the customer.

Dr. Walker recommends operationalizing AI and empathy, but says that brands shouldn’t look too far out because technology and ideas are moving quickly. AI is constantly changing and could soon infer empathy. For now, it is a powerful tool in creating personalized experiences that allow for more connection between customers and brands, which naturally builds more empathy.

Apr 17, 2019

Imagine being able to stream anything anywhere without having to worry about bad signals or data limits. Soon connecting to the internet will be as commonplace as connecting to electricity. 5G has the power to unlock limitless computing and impact the entire world, including the customer experience.

Cristiano Amon is the president of Qualcomm, a company that has technology in every smartphone in the world. Amon is considered the godfather of 5G because of his work planning, advocating and creating the technology. He is passionate and optimistic about the potential of 5G to change the way we work, communicate, shop and live.

The most obvious impact of 5G will be super-fast internet, with speeds up to 10 times faster than current levels. With current 4G, customers can experience poor signal areas where they don’t have the power to stream or access the internet as quickly as they like. That trouble won’t be an issue with 5G, as everyone around the world will have guaranteed connections no matter where they are.

The impact of massively increased speeds is enormous. In recent years, even slightly faster internet speeds have allowed consumers to stream music, so they don’t need to buy CDs or download MP3s. The same buying shift will happen with 5G as consumers can stream 4K video anywhere in the world, which means they won’t need to buy DVDs or download movies.

5G will also have a huge impact on social media and allow for instantaneous connections. People will be able to share things in real time and have live conversations around the world.

Gaming could also boom with 5G and cloud-based gaming. Instead of having to purchase expensive computers to handle large games, 5G will allow consumers to play any game on any device no matter the computing power required.

5G goes hand in hand with the growth of AI. Because of 5G’s fast speeds, everyone will essentially be constantly connected to the cloud. Al and machine learning can also build faster connections and flag activities that aren’t normal. Amon says that with this growth comes the need for more protection of our digital selves on par with how we protect our physical selves.

What does this mean for the customer experience? Everything is changing. Consumers will be able to connect with brands in real time and will expect faster service and responses. Connectivity will impact innovation and allow products to come to market more quickly. Brands will also have more data on their customers to provide uniquely personalized experiences just when customers needs them. The world will get smaller as connectivity increases.

Unlike today’s wireless technology that is primarily used in the wireless industry, 5G will touch all industries in both B2B and B2C. 5G will become part of the critical infrastructure and change manufacturing, IoT, healthcare and so many more industries.

Amon says that consumers who like their smartphones today will be very happy once 5G is up and running. Companies will need to match that love and excitement with service and experiences that leverage the power of 5G.

 

Apr 3, 2019

Digital transformation is all about using technology to better solve customer problems. But a new report from global telecommunications company Telstra found that many U.S. companies lean too heavily on the technology side and don’t focus enough on the people behind the decisions.

According to Nicholas Collins, Telstra President for the Americas, digital transformation loses its effectiveness if companies forget about people. Brands need to continually evolve their businesses as technology and customer needs change. Instead of chasing technology, companies need to focus on what they want to be for their customers.

“Technology alone is not a silver bullet for digital transformation. While investing in the right technology is crucial, placing too much importance on the role and performance of technology in digital transformation is a barrier to success,” Collins said.

There are huge opportunities for companies that have yet to start a digital transformation. Collins says it starts with a top-down commitment from leadership. Companies need to strategically decide what they want to achieve through digital transformation. From there, they should assemble the right teams to bring those goals to life. The foundation of successful digital transformation is people, especially through strong leadership and culture. Telstra’s study found that focusing too much on technology can lead to stalled progress and a lack of measurable outcomes.

It’s easy for companies to get caught up in the technology behind the transformation, but the most effective digital transformation simplifies how people work so they can be engaged and better serve customers. As businesses grow, they often add new products and services that only add to the complexity of the company. Collins recommends that companies regularly take stock of their offerings and processes and find ways to simplify. Work back from the customer and what the brand is trying to achieve and then streamline or simplify as much as possible relating to the customer experience.

Digital transformation really comes down to using technology to simplify and streamline how a brand operates interacts with customers. Collins recommends involving the employees who are closest to the customers because they can often provide insights that people who don’t regularly interact with customers might not see.

Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. No matter where companies are on that journey, there is still plenty of opportunity to grow and develop. But in order to be successful, companies have to think about people and not just technology.

 

Mar 21, 2019

It may have the word “medical” in the title, but by all accounts, The American Medical Association is actually a media company seeing the fruits of its digital transformation. In the last 18 months, association membership has grown by more than three times, thanks largely to a new digital approach.

The AMA helps physicians in their quest to improve patient care. A large part of that is creating quality content from medical experts, including white papers and other documents. But that content is ineffective if it isn’t meaningful to members or easily accessible.  

Digital transformation is a business buzzword, but it can be scary to people. Instead, Todd Unger, chief experience officer and SVP physician engagement at the AMA, likes to start with the business of basics, such as identifying the audience, the company’s growth goals and what digital platforms will help the brand perform on a bigger scale. The digital solutions for one group might not be what another group needs. In order to be effective, companies must segment their audience and tailor their approach for reaching out to certain types of people.

Unger came to the medical world with a background in e-commerce and horse racing. His fresh perspective helped him see areas that could easily be improved. One of the best ways to build momentum for a digital transformation is to start with the low-hanging fruit. For the AMA, it was as simple as adding a button to its homepage that people could click to join the organization. Those simple changes can make a big difference to the overall experience, but it often takes someone with fresh eyes to find those simple solutions.

Unger’s best advice is to start small, move fast and get quick wins. Digital transformation can be scary and overwhelming, but quick wins from low-hanging fruit can provide positive momentum. Success can also show people who are hesitant about the need for a digital transformation just how powerful digital tools can be.

With that fresh perspective comes the need for a cohesive team. Unger says many companies have problems with digital transformations because the responsibility of digital marketing is split across multiple departments, which takes away accountability and makes it hard to get results. Within a few months of starting the digital transformation, the AMA brought its digital marketing teams together to one cohesive unit and immediately saw faster progress.

Unger’s team tests everything to drive growth. Even something as simple as an email template needs to be tested repeatedly to prove that it can effectively meet customers’ needs. Testing helps digital teams move to making fact-based decisions instead of relying on their opinions.

In the end, digital transformation comes down to trust. Are you communicating and connecting with customers in a clear way that builds trust? Digital solutions can drive growth and create meaningful relationships with customers. As Unger says, there’s never been a more exciting time to be in marketing. And it all starts with digital.

 

Mar 7, 2019

Most people consider customer experience the ultimate goal for companies and marketers, but according to marketing professor Peter Fader, customer experience isn’t for everyone.

It’s no secret that modern customers are all unique. They have different preferences and also different value for brands. As Fader says, not all customers are created equal. Some will be loyal to the brand and purchase every new product, while others will only purchase items on sale and could dabble in other brands. While both types of people are customers, it’s definitely more worthwhile for the brand to invest in the loyal customer who makes bigger purchases. When it comes to customer acquisition and retention, brands should focus on quality, not quantity. 10 brand-loyal customers who recommend the product to friends and make repeat purchases are better than 20 customers who only purchase when it’s cheap and convenient.

Today’s customers realize they aren’t always treated the same as all other customers. Some customers get VIP treatment and special offers, while many others don’t. Customers understand the difference and realize that companies are simply rewarding customers that deserve it a little more.

That’s where customer experience comes in. Different customers have different kinds of relationships with brands. Fader uses the example of Stitch Fix, which offers a completely different box of clothes to each customer to create a one-of-a-kind experience. As technology and personalization continues to improve, Fader says that customized approach will become the rule more than the exception.

In order to best grow and nurture a relationship with customers, brands need to understand what tactics are most effective, and it’s not the same for every customer. Some customers might respond well to a rewards program, while others may resonate more with customer experience. Companies can’t pick one tactic and think it’s the best thing for all customers all time. A large-scale customer experience campaign might only move the needle for some customers in some circumstances instead of being the ideal solution for every customer. Fader says the best brands use a variety of tactics because they understand their customers and the value they provide.

Customer experience is still crucial to brands and can have a tremendous impact in creating loyal, long-term customers. However, as companies try to connect with customers, the key is to understand their value and preferences and build relationships in the way that best works for each person.

Check out a great talk from Peter Fader at Google here.

Feb 13, 2019

Digital transformation is everywhere these days. But the idea of updating everything about how a company works and interacts with customers can be overwhelming. Comcast’s recent digital transformation shows that moving strategically and focusing on solutions customers love and employees champion can lead to great results.

Comcast has made a major push in the last few years to get to a level where customers love the brand. The goal of the company’s digital transformation was to solve traditional problems with technology and create an easy and consistent experience for customers.

Digital transformation is possible, even at large companies with standard processes. Scott McAllister, SVP Digital Transformation, narrowed the digital transformation down to four steps that proved incredibly successful for Comcast:

  1. Get senior level support. McAllister says it’s vital to have support from the CEO and other executives. At Comcast, the CEO was on board from the beginning. All executives in the company make two customer calls a month to discover customer pain points. Those calls showed leaders the importance of creating simple digital solutions for customers.
  2. Set clear objectives. Comcast started the journey with what it called a North Star metric: the percentage of customers who interact with the brand digitally. Tracking that single metric would show the success of the digital transformation. The number started in the low 60s% and is now up to the high 70s%.
  3. Get everyone in the company involved. It’s important to engage at each level of the organization to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Comcast invited employees from all levels and divisions of the company to have a voice in the new digital experience. Involving everyone gave all employees buy-in and helped create digital products that represented all viewpoints.
  4. Create an initial focus on certain transactions. An entire digital transformation can be overwhelming, but McAllister recommends starting with the lowest-hanging fruit. For Comcast, that was bill pay. Figuring out how to transform the interaction and move bill pay to digital set the stage for the rest of the transformation. By solving one problem, the company could move more easily to other areas.

Digital transformation is vital in today’s world to build customers who love the products and won’t go anywhere else. Digital solutions offer amazing opportunities to meet customer needs and deliver an experience that goes above and beyond.

Comcast shows that involving everyone in the digital transformation creates internal champions and helps manage change. Although there will be bumps in the road, following these four basic steps to a digital transformation can keep your company on top of trends and first in customers’ minds.  

 

Jan 31, 2019

You’ve probably experienced this familiar scene: going to the doctor, having to wait to be seen in a sterile office, feeling rushed through the entire appointment and finally going home without feeling much better. It’s no wonder healthcare is one of the top five hated industries in the world.

But One Medical is out to change people’s negative perceptions of healthcare by focusing on the patient experience and making it something people actually enjoy. It’s part of the growing trend to the consumerization of healthcare. According to CMO Doug Sweeny, One Medical thinks through the entire patient experience from start to finish to make visiting the doctor enjoyable. Instead of waiting weeks to get an appointment, patients can use an app to book a same-day appointment or virtually visit with a provider after hours. From the moment a patient walks in, the feel of the office is different. The modern style and calming décor is a stark contrast from typical waiting rooms. There aren’t phones at the front desk, which means receptionists can actually greet patients and talk with them instead of being distracted by a phone call. Appointments start on time, with the average wait time of just 30-60 seconds.

The experience continues throughout the appointment. One Medical has automated much of the paperwork processes to allow healthcare providers to do what they love most—care for patients. They can take the time to build real relationships and meet the needs of each patient. Studies have shown that having a strong relationship with a doctor adds value to members and prevents things like urgent care visits.

Aside from typical healthcare services, One Medical also offers services that patients really want, like mental health coaching, weight management classes, sports medicine, physical therapy and much more. The purpose is to help members meet their health goals instead of only seeing them when they’re sick. The company has partnered with large hospitals across the country to offer advanced specialist care to its patients.

One Medical also works to engage with its employees by allowing them to focus on what matters most: patients. Instead of getting paid based on how many patients they see, all One Medical doctors are salary based.

The entire experience is drastically different from the typical healthcare environment and could revolutionize the industry. One Medical remembers what many other healthcare companies don’t: that patients are people. Visiting the doctor can be an enjoyable experience. Like in other industries, consumers can take their business elsewhere if they aren’t satisfied, so healthcare companies need to understand changing consumerization trends to create a positive and personal experience.

Healthcare is changing, and companies like One Medical that focus on patients and relationships will be the ones paving the way.  

 

Jan 7, 2019

Customer experience is a major focus of the B2C world, but it’s also vitally important for B2B companies. As B2B customers become more digitally savvy, companies need to focus on digital transformation to ensure high-quality customer experiences.

According to Dushyant Mohanty, global head of transformation at Tata Consultancy Services, that means moving from being product-centric to being customer-centric. Mohanty helps companies around the world transform to meet the needs of modern customers. He is an expert in B2B manufacturing, energy and financial services.

When creating a transformational customer experience journey, B2B companies should put themselves in the shoes of their customers to see if they are getting an immersive solution that meets their needs, or if the company’s offerings are outdated. An immersive omnichannel experience includes all types of outreach and technology. In order to make it happen, Mohanty says companies often have to include people who aren’t typically part of the buying experience. Involving these people earlier in the process can help companies get a more accurate view of their customers and help create a cohesive experience with everyone on the same page.

In a digital transformation, the customer experience needs to be customized and in real time. That means adjusting as needed and using the correct customer persona. Just like how modern customers expect customization in their B2C experiences, they also want it in their B2B interactions.

In theory, this new approach to B2B customer experience is relatively simple. Putting it into practice, however, can be quite challenging. Mohanty says executives need to first pinpoint the reason for the transformation. Is it to drive top-line revenue, or is it to establish their market share? Knowing the reason for shifting to a customer-centric company can help drive strategy.

Once a company understands its incentive for changing, it should look at its current contracts to see what customers are asking for. An effective customer experience means that the company is responding to customers’ needs. The contracts can tell the true story of if that’s actually happening.

Mohanty points out that a digital transformation is more than just updating a few processes. For many companies, it’s a complete overhaul of their approach to service and customer experience. Small changes will only get small results. To make a real change, executives need to take a step back and look at things objectively to see if they are reaching customers and achieving their goals. The underlying technology structure has a huge impact on customer experience, as does the data strategy. Start with these as a foundation to customer experience.

In the end, it really comes down to having a growth mindset. B2B companies that can embrace digital transformation for customer experience are the ones that don’t simply do what’s always been done but instead look for new solutions to meet customers’ needs.

Just like in the B2C world, B2B companies need to always be evaluating their approach to customer experience to stay on top of new trends and technologies. A digital transformation can help companies become more customer-centric to guide their customers through the changing digital world.

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