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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: Category: Business
Oct 20, 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, pharmaceutical companies around the world are rushing to develop a vaccine to COVID-19. In an industry that typically takes years to create, test and market new drugs, the incredible time crunch for the COVID vaccine is pushing companies to their limits. 

But it’s not just pharmaceutical companies that are in the race to create a vaccine. There are also companies helping behind the scenes with digital transformation. NECI and its president Tom Ramundo are working with pharmaceutical companies to create a digital stack so they can bring their product to market much more quickly. 

Digital transformation and industrial automation greatly speed up the testing process by using data and predictive analytics to see how a vaccine performs in trial. Ramundo says that many of the companies working to create a COVID vaccine were born to be digital companies. They are taking the digital fingerprint of the protein that makes up the virus and utilizing it to develop their product. When working on a project that changes the timeline from months and years to days and weeks, companies must be digitally enabled. Without a digital transformation, companies couldn’t come close to creating a COVID vaccine in record time. 

Companies don’t need to be finding the cure to a global pandemic to undergo a digital transformation. Ramundo says it’s critical for every company, no matter the industry, to adopt digital solutions to improve their processes and become more efficient. 

Ramundo’s work on the COVID vaccine has highlighted three digital transformation trends: 

  1. It’s not all about technology. Digital transformation centers around digital tools and capabilities, but the people are equally important. Without passionate people, a digital transformation can fall flat. Ramundo says the COVID team at NECI all volunteered to work on the project because they are passionate about the cause, which helps things move even faster.
  2. Leadership must be engaged. Everyone has to be on board for a successful digital transformation. Starting from the top, leaders and executives must be engaged and lead the cause. Leaders also need to develop a plan for employee buy-in to get everyone on board and show the value of the changes. Digital transformation includes everyone, from IT to HR, finance and beyond.
  3. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Digital transformation is about smart, integrated technology, but at the end of the day, it has to solve problems. A digital solution that is flashy but doesn’t actually improve the company is a waste. What are the problems you are trying to solve? Ramundo recommends starting small, achieving business results and then repeating the process on other problems. 

Digital transformation is paving the way for a COVID vaccine to be introduced in record time. It can have an equally transformative effect on companies that focus on strategy and tie the digital offerings back to their business goals.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Oct 14, 2020

Most companies and consumers know they should fight against climate change and want to make a difference, they just don’t know how. 

With carbon emissions increasing across the globe, it can feel overwhelming to make a difference. Companies don’t know how to start or even if their efforts will pay off and actually have an impact. 

Austin Whitman is founder and CEO of Climate Neutral, a non-profit organization that makes it simple for companies to track and offset their carbon emissions and certifies companies that are actively working to reduce their carbon emissions. The goal is to provide companies a turn-key addition to their sustainability work and to start conversations with consumers about climate change. 

Whitman believes that the fight against carbon emissions is improved when companies involve customers in their eco-friendly initiatives. Not only does it empower customers, but it also creates a powerful partnership for good. Here are three ways to connect with customers on climate change:

  1. Make it simple for customers to make a difference. Modern consumers are overwhelmed by choices. Many consumers want to make responsible choices but simply don’t know how. Climate Neutral makes it easy for customers to purchase the most eco-friendly products. Companies that have gone through the certification process can put a label on their products to show customers their products are fighting against climate change. When customers are faced with options of products to buy, they can simply choose the product with the Climate Neutral symbol and know they are making the best choice. The goal of companies should always be to make customers’ lives easier, especially when it comes to making sustainable choices.
  2. Show customers change is possible. Whitman says it’s powerful when brands engage with their customers on climate change. Brands need to show consumers that fighting against climate change can lead to real results. Show customers that brands can still deliver high-quality items while reducing their carbon emissions. Focus on what’s achievable. Many consumers are hesitant to make eco-friendly purchases because they don’t want to change from their favorite products or dramatically alter their lives. But when brands showcase that progress can happen without taking away products and quality customers enjoy, it can lead to real change.
  3. Offer optimistic solutions. Instead of using scare tactics to engage customers in the fight against climate change, brands should stay hopeful and optimistic. The key is to start a conversation and provide solutions instead of just highlighting the problems. Many consumers feel they’re on their own to make the best decisions to limit their carbon footprints. Show them that it’s a collaboration between brands and customers and that together, we can all make progress. 

Climate change is a real problem for our world, but customers and companies can make a positive difference when they work together. Climate Neutral shows organizations that it’s possible to take a real stand against carbon emissions. When brands involve their customers in the conversation and action, the movement becomes even more powerful.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

 

Oct 7, 2020

After months of quarantine and isolation, consumers are slowly starting to adjust to a new life with COVID-19. As stores reopen and re-adjust, they are faced with customers who are drastically different than they were just six month ago. According to Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, in order to transition and move forward, stores must re-build consumer trust. 

Moving forward in the pandemic starts by understanding what customers are thinking and feeling. Robb’s current company, S2G Ventures, recently published a report about the future of food in the age of COVID and uncovered many changes to customers’ mindsets. Today’s customers are out of their pre-COVID rhythm and are trying to find and settle into new routines while wrapping their heads around all the changes. Customers are adjusting and adapting by doing more things at home, leaning on different experiences and connecting with friends and brands digitally. 

Amidst all these changes, what customers really want is trust. They want the safety, security and transparency of trusting the companies they do business with. That includes things like knowing where their food comes from and understanding the manufacturing process for their clothes and home items. 

According to Robb, today’s retailers are at a tipping point: with a new generation of shoppers and a new world situation, companies have to contribute to solutions—they can’t just sit back. Retailers must actively work to build consumer trust by being transparent and authentic. 

Robb says retailers can re-earn trust and loyalty through three key principles:

  1. Act with integrity in every interaction. Customers interact with brands in a number of ways, from apps to in-store experiences and new digital platforms. Each interaction is a chance for a brand to re-earn trust and loyalty. Lasting trust comes from consistent actions. Customers have to know what to expect and that they will get great service every time they interact with the brand. Building trust doesn’t require huge actions—it’s the simple, everyday interactions that make a difference when they are authentic and consistent.
  2. Be willing to serve customers. Some customers say they want to be served in certain ways, such as grocery customers saying they want to pick up items in store or have certain things delivered. It’s up to brands to develop the capabilities to serve customers how and when they want to be served. Brands earn trust when they listen to customers and are willing to meet their needs.
  3. Use data to understand customers. Most customers are willing to share their personal information with a brand if it leads to more personalized experiences. Modern customers expect companies to know who they are and act according to their individual preferences. Brands can’t build unique experiences and establish trust if they don’t know their customers. 

COVID has changed how customers think and act, and retailers need to respond accordingly. To build trust, brands must understand modern customers and find ways to rebuild trust every day.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

 

Sep 29, 2020

What do you do when everything about how you run a business goes out the window? 

Software company Red Hat is regularly recognized as one of the best places to work, in part because of its strong community and culture. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees around the world to work from home, the company had to find new ways to support its employees. 

DeLisa Alexander, Red Hat’s Chief People Officer, is leading efforts to stay connected to remote employees and support them to become their best selves, even in times of stress and uncertainty. 

Here are six ways to support employees during COVID-19 and how Red Hat has turned a crisis situation into an opportunity to continue to build its strong culture. 

  1. Start with yourself. Alexander says that leaders and managers have to breathe before they can help others breathe. If a manager is stressed with their own life, they won’t be able to connect with employees and help them work through their stress. Leaders at all levels need to build their resilience and take time to re-energize themselves so they can best lead others. Alexander regularly reminds herself and other leaders that it isn’t selfish to take time to do what you need to do to generate energy to lead your team.
  2. Let them grieve. Not everyone has lost loved ones, but the seismic changes to everyday life because of the pandemic have caused people to lose other things, including trips, family time and expected experiences. Employees are grieving for missed opportunities and the loss of their normal lives. Leaders need to acknowledge that it is fine to grieve and to work together to overcome those feelings. Red Hat hired a chaplain to create a grief framework to provide its employees with the best emotional outlets to handle these major changes to their lives.
  3. Give them time to recharge. With most people working from home, employees around the world are working more than ever and feel the need to be constantly available. Red Hat realized its employees needed more time to themselves but weren’t actually taking their available paid time off. Red Hat instituted Recharge Days when the company is shut down for one day a quarter and no one is allowed to work. Alexander says the two Recharge Days so far have worked wonders with employees and brought everyone back feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into work without feeling burnt out.  
  4. Allow for flexibility. With so much of the world in flux, leaders and organizations must be flexible to meet their employees’ needs. Managers need to lead teams in a way that people can be open and honest about their challenges. If someone needs to cut back on their work, someone else steps in, no questions asked. Teams work together to get the work done in whatever way that entails. Flexibility allows for employees to feel supported at work and that they can be their whole selves. Instead of feeling they must always be performing at peak levels, even amidst their many trials, employees know they can have an honest conversation with their manager to get help when needed.
  5. Build community. Even though employees aren’t together physically, they still crave human connections and community. Soon after everyone started working from home, a group of Red Hat associates volunteered to curate content for regular newsletters. The weekly employee newsletter provides updates and resources for everything from childcare to remote work. Red Hat also moved the viewing of its internal video program “The Show” online and had thousands of employees from around the world sign on to watch together and chat. Community improves productivity and is a huge boost to employee morale.
  6. Involve employees. Even as employees have settled into some sort of rhythm of working remotely over the last six months, there is still plenty of uncertainty for the future. As Red Hat works to solidify future plans, it regularly updates employees and requests their feedback. A team of employees is looking at the future openly and transparently with employees to think through the best options for the company. Alexander and her team are upfront with people that things have changed and include everyone in creating meaningful experiences that engage employees, no matter where they are working. 

No matter the global situation, Red Hat believes employees should always feel supported and empowered to bring their whole selves to work. COVID-19 has changed how that happens, but staying flexible and finding new ways to support employees has helped the company continue to grow its culture.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Sep 22, 2020

The B2B space is often an overlooked area for customer experience. But customer-centric experiences are crucial in the B2B world and come from listening to customers and continually evolving. 

When Kristi Langdon joined Daimler Trucks, she saw the company was incredibly product-focused, but not very customer-focused. The company was successful because of its great products, but Langdon knew B2B was shifting its focus to give more power to customers. She stepped into her current role as Daimler’s Head of Customer Experience and worked with the CEO to lead an effort to put customers at the center of Daimler’s B2B experiences. 

Daimler’s true first effort into customer-centricity came in November 2017 with its Customer Experience Day. All 22,000 Daimler employees around the world paused their normal work and spent the day listening to customers and learning about their experiences of doing business with Daimler. During those sessions, one customer made a comment that has become a driving force in the company: “You have great people and an amazing product, but your processes need work. We’ve got to work together on your processes.” 

Customer Experience Day also introduced employees to design thinking, Daimler’s new approach to customer experience. Employees broke into groups with trained facilitators to practice empathetic listening and creating prototypes to solve problems and improve processes. The entire day showed employees the true customer experience, what can be improved and how their work makes a difference. Daimler’s Customer Experience Day is now an annual occurrence and reminder that everyone in the company has a role to play in customer experience. 

By listening to customers, Langdon and her team learned that customers’ main pain points were a lack of communication and nearly everything about truck service and repairs. From there, the customer experience team looked for ways to automate processes to create smoother customer interactions and more self-service options. 

Leaning in to technology to better serve customers requires removing silos, especially between the business and IT sides of the company. As Langdon says, customer-centric models require partnerships between departments. Daimler is focused on shifting technology investments and increasing skills of the workforce so its people and developers know how to best serve customers and help with automation. 

Creating customer-centric experiences means being vulnerable and willing to listen to feedback that isn’t always pleasant. Langdon and her team discovered that Daimler customers have to contact the company an average of six times to get a problem solved, which was much higher than they thought. Daimler is working to lower the number so that customers only have to contact the company once or even not at all because of proactive service that reaches out to customers before problems arise. Getting regular feedback from customers and being willing to listen and improve the unpleasant aspects of the business helps Daimler stay connected with customers and constantly improve. 

Daimler’s push towards customer-centricity is continual. Building customer relationships, opening feedback channels and leveraging technology help the company deliver strong B2B experiences and create a competitive advantage.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit TTECDigital.com

Sep 15, 2020

No one could have ever predicted what would happen in 2020. Aside from the pandemic and its impact on the global economy, unemployment, remote learning and a host of other issues, there are also widespread cries to end systemic racism, fires and natural disasters and a tumultuous presidential election. It’s more than anyone could ever have imagined, and it’s taking a toll on consumers. 

But even with these unique conditions, companies are moving forward and working to grow and provide great service to customers. The question many companies face is how to connect with customers when so much about the world has changed and people are facing so much stress. 

Amelia Dunlop, Chief Experience Officer at Deloitte Digital, refers to it as the emotional toll COVID-19 has taken on people. No matter how it affects each person, the pandemic and other crises have caused stress and exhaustion and changed people.  

Deloitte Digital set out to get a pulse on how customer behavior is changing amidst all of the chaos. A survey of 28,000 Americans introduced numerous stories about the changing human experience and showcased what Americans are going through, where they need help and what companies can do to stay relevant. It comes down to one key area: be human. Consumers want companies that are empathetic and see them as individuals in the middle of a crisis, not just shoppers who are the same as they were six months ago. 

Deloitte Digital’s results found three ways companies can become more human during a crisis:

  1. Build trust. Companies have to balance the natural tension between the safety of the group with each individual customer’s freedom in a way that builds trust with customers and is open and authentic.
  2. Signal safety. Customers are concerned about safety and often don’t know who to trust. Companies need to create a comprehensive safety plan and clearly communicate it to customers. People look for safety signs that they can see, feel, hear and smell.
  3. Redefine connection. Companies must change their approach to physical and virtual interactions to meet the human need to connect while still being safe. Customers still want connection, even if it comes in a different form.  

Being human requires companies to understand their customers and especially how they are reacting to challenges of the current crisis. The Deloitte Survey also found that people fit into three different clusters: 

  • Protectors: These are the people who are more concerned about health risks and tend to only trust themselves or their immediate family in regards to safety. They feel anxious and are acting with concern.
  • Prevailers: This group is skeptical about how long the crisis will last. They are optimistic about reopening the economy and are likely to be the first for in-person experiences. Prevailers feel skeptical and are acting with confidence.
  • Pragmatists: This group falls in between the others and tries to balance health and safety with a push to return to normal. People who fall into this category are feeling calm and acting with balance. 

Although everyone is going through the same crises, Dunlop says each person values different things. For companies to stay relevant and stay human, they have to build empathy and softer experiences for stressed consumers. 

Crises will always be part of doing business, even when they are as unpredictable as 2020 has shown. Keeping a good understanding of customers and staying human can help companies navigate crises and maintain strong relationships.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit TTECDigital.com

Sep 8, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may have upended nearly everything about how we live and work, but it hasn’t stopped innovation. 

While many people and businesses are struggling to stay afloat and work through their day-to-day issues, Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of FutureThink, says there’s never been a better time to be innovative. She views COVID-19 as the great reset that has paved the way for innovative changes. Innovation is more important now than ever, but it requires a new approach in our new world. 

COVID-19 can act as a catalyst for innovation and allow us to turn changes we were forced into by a global pandemic into productive and long-term changes in our organizations. Here are three ways to stay innovative in the age of COVID-19. 

Question Assumptions

How we innovate is based on our assumptions. The key to strong innovation and being open to new ideas is to question the assumptions we’ve always had or that are part of society. For years, we’ve assumed certain things that are now being challenged. Many companies assumed they couldn’t have their employees work from home. But when they were forced to let go of those assumptions, they realized remote work can be effective for their teams. Questioning that assumption has allowed companies to create innovative remote work practices. 

As you set out to innovate, question the assumptions you hold personally or within your organization. Ask yourself why you think a certain way and why things matter. Innovation comes when people are willing to find creative solutions and re-create norms. 

Simplify

When processes are inefficient or redundant, people can feel burnt out or too busy to innovate. The goal of simplicity isn’t to get more work done, it’s to do the work that matters. Bodell says anything can be simplified, but especially our processes, mindsets and schedules. Start by stripping things away to the essentials and only adding back in the things that matter most. Evaluate every aspect of your schedule or process to ensure it is valuable and not just busy work. Pharmaceutical company Novartis simplified its processes to drive collaboration and innovation. Video is now mandatory for all meetings, and any meeting longer than 30 minutes requires permission. Other companies are only allowing meetings to be scheduled on certain days of the week so that employees can focus on their own work the rest of the week. 

When your mind and schedule is free of pointless or busy tasks, you have more energy to dedicate to innovation and can clear the space for better ways of doing things. 

Know Your Skillset And Pivot

Innovation requires individuals and companies to pivot to something new. Successful innovation is often based on your skills and abilities. Instead of trying something completely new, you can pivot to an area where you know you will be strong. 

Bodell recommends knowing your skillset and pivoting within those boundaries. Start by examining your skills and abilities. Where are areas you excel or that you know you can thrive? Use those skills as a jumping off point for innovation. Bodell shares the example of Dyson, a company that has a well-established production process. When COVID-19 first hit, the company was able to easily pivot from manufacturing vacuums to manufacturing respirators. Because of the company’s expertise in manufacturing and established culture of curiosity, Dyson could pivot to a new product area and innovate. 

COVID-19 has proven to be a catalyst for innovation. To keep innovation moving forward, focus on questioning assumptions and simplifying so you and your organization can become agile and be able to pivot, no matter what is happening in the world.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit TTECDigital.com

Sep 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic rocked companies and customers around the world. As businesses struggled to survive, many put focusing on their customers on the backburner. 

But that’s not the case for Workday. The software company is regularly ranked one of the best companies in the world for its customer service and boasts an impressive 97% customer satisfaction score. As the world fell into chaos, Workday stayed close to its customers and used the crisis as a chance to strengthen relationships. 

Emily McEvilly is Workday’s first-ever Chief Customer Officer. She views her role to be the chief customer advocate and ensure that the customers’ voice is present in everything the company does. Never has that been more important than during the global pandemic. McEvilly said Workday was faced with three main waves of COVID-19 response. The first wave was when stay-at-home orders were first issued. As companies tried to wrap their heads around working from home, Workday B2B clients were mainly focused on business continuity and keeping things moving forward. 

The second wave came later as companies and employees found a groove of working from home. They had managed to stay afloat, but now faced the challenges of adapting potentially long term. Workday continued its standard personalized approach to customer service but tailored it to meet the many needs of its clients. Employees known as Customer Success Managers were assigned to groups of customers to develop strong relationships with them. Those employees serve as a point of contact for customers and use their knowledge of each customer to offer personalized service. Instead of customers having to blindly call customer service, they have a single person they can contact directly to meet their needs. 

Workday covers clients in nearly every industry around the globe, and the different needs of those companies became clear during COVID-19. A one-size-fits-all response to the pandemic wouldn’t work with the differing situations. Instead, Workday divided its employees to each serve certain customers. During a crisis, speed is of the essence, and pre-assigning employees cut down on customers having to wade through red tape to find the right person to help them. 

McEvilly shared the example of one large U.S. retailer that wanted to give its front-line workers an hourly increase. Workday’s customer-centric response helped the company quickly make the change to best help its employees. Another much smaller company has a different type of global workforce that wasn’t used to working from home. Workday employees updated the client’s software to allow managers to easily track employee tasks and even provided consulting hours to help them make changes in their apps. Going one step further, Workday shared the experience in its customer portal so that any customer could see how the product could be tailored. 

According to McEvilly, the third phase of COVID-19 response hasn’t yet arrived. That will be when companies get back to working in person or with a long-term remote work strategy. In preparation for that phase, Workday is already building new partnerships to strengthen its products to deliver agile features customers will need. 

Like with many other companies, COVID-19 pushed Workday to implement digital programs earlier than originally planned. Workday accelerated the launch of its Digital Customer Experience, which optimizes all systems related to Workday applications. The applications themselves are powerful and efficient, but the programs that support the applications and educate customers needed to be refined. The digital approach is improving how customers search for information and learn about their Workday products to get the most value. 

Customer-centricity is never more important than during a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic shows that customers crave connection and want personalized service to keep moving forward. By offering personalized, digital solutions, Workday is able to keep its customers central to everything it does, no matter what is happening in the world.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit TTECDigital.com

Aug 25, 2020

What do you do when your entire business is built around parties and celebrations, but people can’t actually get together? 

That’s the question faced by Party City during the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of slowing down as social distancing severely limits gatherings, Party City is taking the opportunity to pivot and introduce new services to customers. 

After its stores closed in mid-March, Party City quickly pivoted to buy online, pickup in store and same-day delivery. According to CEO Brad Weston, the company already had these services on its omnichannel roadmap but had to quickly implement them in a few days instead of months or years as originally planned. Party City partnered with a leading digital fulfilment and delivery platform to enhance the delivery experience from start to finish. Delivery has been a huge boost for the company, especially for balloons. A common frustration for customers used to be going to the store to have balloons filled, only to find they didn’t all fit in their car. But with balloons being delivered, customers aren’t limited by the size of their trunk space. 

Even in a pandemic, celebrations still happen. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, new babies, holidays and a host of other things give people a reason to celebrate, just in a different way. COVID-19 has forced the store to pivot many of its products and experiences, especially around virtual events. It now offers kits for easy virtual and at-home celebrations, including a DIY movie night in a box, beach day in a box, graduation in a box and many more. Party City also expanded its online resources to help customers plan and host virtual parties with step-by-step guides. In many cases, customers didn’t need tons of supplies for a virtual celebration, but the resources helped build the experience and push Party City to its new experiential focus. 

Party City is in the business of helping people find and celebrate joy. Much of that starts online. Weston believes that to get customers’ attention, retailers need to provide aspirational and inspirational experiences to start customers down the journey instead of just making products available. In the case of Party City, that means providing inspiration for the entire party experience including entertainment, décor and food, instead of simply selling party supplies. Customers want a one-stop shop where they can plan amazing celebrations and be inspired. 

Party City’s pivot to experiential customer service starts online by providing ideas and planning services. The company is making the big shift towards adding a marketplace of services that customers might want, including balloon artists, caterers, musicians and more. The goal is to help customers with every step of the party process, from brainstorming and big-picture ideas down to the little details and vendors.  

Celebrations don’t stop because of COVID-19. Today’s customers are celebrating together while remaining apart. Party City’s pivot during the pandemic provides new resources and ideas for customers while also putting the company on the path to a more holistic, experience-based approach to celebrations of the future.

Aug 18, 2020

For decades, healthcare has had a reputation of being bureaucratic and difficult to work with. Customers expect to have to jump through hoops and wade through confusion to find answers to simple questions or manage their care. But the future of healthcare is anything but difficult—it puts customers first to create convenient, proactive and personalized solutions. 

Kathy Klingler is Chief Consumer Experience and Marketing Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and she brings decades of experience in banking and other consumer industries. Her approach turns the traditional healthcare model on its head to put customers first. 

Customer experience is crucial at Blue Cross Blue Shield. Klingler’s unique position puts her in charge of everything from brand strategy to digital marketing, customer experience and market insights. She works closely with the Chief Strategy Officer to integrate customer experience into the overall strategy of the company and the future of healthcare. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s strategy reaffirms that putting the consumer at the center of healthcare is the most important thing the company can do. The company’s customer-centricity plan breaks into three pillars:

1. Digital capabilities. One of Klingler’s main focuses since joining the company four years ago has been to build out Blue Cross Blue Shield’s digital capabilities. There used to be disparate systems without a place for members to understand their plans or how to get the most value. A new digital hub is personalized for each member’s needs and allows them full access to the information they need to understand and get the most out of their plan. Modern customers crave digital convenience and being able to get information on their own schedule.

2. Communication channels. For decades, the traditional way of communicating with healthcare customers was by phone. But modern members want to interact digitally and in more convenient ways. Blue Cross Blue Shield aims to meet customers where they are in channels they already use. Customer-centric companies create more communication channels to match customer preferences and ensure those offerings are seamless and convenient.

3. Data and analytics. Blue Cross Blue Shield leverages data in a way that allows it to engage with members in more meaningful ways. Data paints a picture of members and allows contact center agents to proactively suggest care that members might need. Data and analytics add a powerful tool to understanding and serving customers. During COVID, Blue Cross is proactively reaching out to members who are at higher risk or live in hotspot areas to ensure they get the care they need. 

The mission of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is to put customers first, and it’s something that the employees and leaders live and breathe. By staying in contact with customers and combining customer data, third-party data and behavioral data, the company understands what its members need and is constantly adapting to meet their needs. 

In the future of healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s customer-centric strategy will become the norm. Healthcare companies must become more transparent and make it easier for their customers to get the care they need in the way they want to access it. Instead of bombarding customers with information, that means delivering personalized information clearly and simply from an ally who can guide them. 

The difficulties of traditional healthcare are on their way out. In order to succeed in the future, healthcare companies must put customers first and deliver on the three main pillars of customer-centricity.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

 

Aug 11, 2020

A customer focus and strong customer experience starts from the top. In order for companies to be totally customer-centric, they must have strong leaders. 

However, we’re facing a leadership crisis today where most leaders don’t know how to lead. Jacob Morgan (who just happens to be my husband) is a best-selling author and expert on leadership and the future of work. As he was conducting research for his book, The Future Leader, he came across this startling statistic: most people become leaders in their mid to late 20s, but they don’t receive formal leadership training until their late 30s or early 40s. That means most leaders go more than a decade without any training. No wonder we have such a lack of strong leadership. 

To be effective, leaders have to take training into their own hands. The first step is to create your own definition of leader and leadership. We are surrounded by leadership, but few of us can actually define it. Establishing a definition allows companies to create filters for who they hire and promote. Those filters ensure that the organization is filled with consistently great leaders instead of a mix of great and sub-par leaders. 

Jacob’s definition of leadership is being a lighthouse. The purpose of a lighthouse is to shine light on ships in the harbor and guide them to safety and success. Similarly, a leader’s purpose is to guide their people and organization to success. But a leader lighthouse is useless without ships. Leaders can’t just focus on themselves—they must focus on others. 

From interviews with more than 140 top CEOs, Jacob created the Notable Nine: the skills and mindsets leaders need to adapt to succeed in the future of work. These skills are crucial to becoming a customer-focused leader and creating a culture of customer centricity. 

Mindsets

  • Explorer: Become a perpetual learner, be curious and focus on agility and adaptability.
  • Chef: Balance humanity and technology.
  • Servant: Serve your leaders, your team, your customers and yourself by being humble and vulnerable.
  • Global citizen: Surround yourself with different people and look at the big picture. 

Skills

  • Futurist: Look towards the future and think through different scenarios.
  • Yoda: Practice emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Translator: Develop listening and communication skills
  • Coach: Motivate and engage others and create effective teams across geographies and generations.
  • Technology teen: Embrace new technology and be tech-savvy. 

A common element for all leaders, especially those leading through the current uncertainty of COVID-19, is to focus on people, not profits. Successful leaders develop their people, set a vision, engage and coach them to be more successful. They are focused more on engaging their employees than hitting their quarterly revenue goals. As Jacob says, putting people first is a philosophy backed by a set of actions. Don’t just believe it—you have to show it. 

Customer experience leadership impacts the entire organization. In order for a business to succeed, leaders must focus on people and strive to become lighthouses that guide others to success.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Aug 4, 2020

For most people around the world, the excitement of attending an in-person event has been replaced by sitting in front of a computer screen. As the coronavirus pandemic cancels in-person events of all sizes around the world, more companies than ever before are taking their events online. But staring at a screen isn’t nearly as engaging as seeing something in person, and many companies and event attendees have struggled with the new format. 

Abhishek Vanamali, CMO of Zensar Technologies, is a strong believer in virtual events. Although they can’t exactly replicate in-person events, he believes virtual events are the future and have the potential to offer amazing, engaging experiences for organizers and attendees. 

Vanamali’s advice to create an amazing virtual event comes down to this: stop thinking about limitations and embrace what’s possible. 

Many organizations focus on what virtual event platforms can’t do—things like not being able to network one-on-one, raise a real toast or test out new products. But to plan a successful virtual event, no matter if it is a huge conference or a small team meeting, organizers must change their thinking to see what’s possible. Vanamali says that everything we thought isn’t possible virtually is actually possible in some form. The first step for event organizers and marketers is to educate themselves and discover the possibilities of virtual events. 

Virtual event technology has come a long way in recent years, even before the pandemic hit. There are numerous platforms available that offer features like registering attendees, facilitating breakout sessions and allowing attendees to chat with each other during sessions. 

When looking at the possibilities of virtual events, the sky's the limit. Technology makes it possible to create nearly any kind of event in a unique and memorable way. Vanamali shared the example of a high-end auction house that was forced to take its auction online. Instead of being weighed down by the idea of selling high-end art without customers seeing it in person, the company created a full-blown production. It ran an all-day virtual event complete with green screens, professional lighting, expert auctioneers and interactive content to tell the story of the art. The virtual auction wasn’t simply a recreation of an in-person auction—it was a new type of event that leveraged technology and helped the company sell $420 million of art online. 

One of the biggest challenges of virtual events is keeping participants engaged. It’s one thing to sit in a room with hundreds of other people and absorb a presentation, but it’s completely different to be alone at home with dozens of distractions. The Zensar Technologies annual sales meeting addressed this challenge when it added a gamification element for its 300 attendees. While the event was happening virtually on one screen, attendees were also using a companion mobile app to scan AR markers on presentation slides. The person who scanned the most markers over the three-day meeting won a grand prize, and participants got competitive as the leaderboard changed. Zensar also used the app for trivia contests and quizzes between sessions. Vanamali says participants were engaged by the unique gamification piece, which led them to pay more attention to the content and have a better experience. 

The global pandemic has put virtual events at the forefront of business, and they aren’t going away any time soon. Now that companies have seen the potential of virtual event technology, more events will stay virtual or adopt a hybrid model. To create a great virtual event, remember to embrace technology and consider its many possibilities instead of getting weighed down by its limitations.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit www.Zendesk.com/modern.

Jul 28, 2020

With a wealth of customer data available, companies have more opportunities than ever before to deliver personalized customer experiences. But creating a unique experience for each person can take valuable time and resources. Successful companies leverage data to balance personalized experiences with scalable interactions that appeal to everyone. 

Bryan Flores, Group Vice President, Marketing & Strategy at Frontier Communications, says companies must weigh the tradeoffs between individual experiences and universal truths. The aspects of the experience that apply to everyone are universal truths—things like nobody wants to pay more than they need to or the idea that the service always needs to work. Those universal truths should be table stakes and a built-in part of all experiences. 

Individual experiences, on the other hand, can change depending on the type of customer. Each person has different needs and preferences, such as a Frontier Communications customer who prefers to stream video on their smartphone versus someone who uses wireless internet to homeschool their children on a laptop. Both customers want the same universal truths—dependable internet at a fair price—but how they receive the service and their interactions with the company will be different. 

All experiences rely on data to be effective. Flores says his company looks at a huge array of data to truly understand its customers, both on a large scale and an individualized basis. Data shows how customers are using the internet, what devices they use to stream and watch TV and what they are looking for in their own experiences. Data shows consumer trends and individual preferences. 

Data is also a powerful tool for employees to better know the customers they are serving. Flores says using technology to make employees’ lives easier can greatly impact the customer experience by giving employees the tools they need to provide excellent service. Data powers dashboards that make the most pertinent consumer information available to Frontier Communications representatives. When a customer calls, the employee can quickly see their transaction history and preferences to provide a unique experience, while also understanding the larger data for the entire customer base. The employee may know that the wider customer group in that geographic area uses the internet primarily at certain times a day and can combine that information with what they can see about the customer, such as that they work from home, to recommend the best internet to meet their needs. 

Leveraging data allows companies to provide individual experiences at scale. Instead of having to sort through data individually or take time to get to know each customer, companies can rely on data to track customer interactions and predict what each customer wants and needs. Data can also pinpoint why customers do certain things to offer a clearer understanding of their lifestyles and habits.

Modern companies don’t have to choose between individualized experiences and scaled experiences. By leveraging data, they can have both. Taking advantage of data makes employees’ and customers’ lives easier and helps everyone get a customized experience, no matter how many customers there are.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit www.Zendesk.com/modern.

Jul 21, 2020

After months of stay-at-home orders and closed doors, small businesses across the globe are starting to reopen. But the world they face today is drastically different from the one they were operating in just a few months ago. To succeed in this new world, small and mid-sized businesses need strong resources and support systems. 

According to Kim Dixon, COO of FedEx Office, SMBs face two main challenges as they reopen:

  1. Managing regulations and customer expectations. Businesses need to follow safety guidelines, but it can be confusing to know which regulations are the most accurate and up to date. On top of that, changing customer expectations place a higher emphasis on health and cleanliness. SMBs face the challenge of making sure they have clean environments and clearly communicating their practices and protocols to customers
  2. Getting business back. After being closed or partially closed for months, small businesses have to grow awareness with new marketing efforts and clear communication. They also have to adjust how they operate and the marketing materials their customers use in store, such as switching to single-use menus or individual flyers.

Overcoming these challenges can be overwhelming to small and mid-sized businesses, especially as they traverse an unknown world and anxious customers. As FedEx Office navigates its own transition in the COVID world, it also creates experiences to help its customers with their reopenings. 

According to Dixon, the first priority for FedEx Office and other SMBs should be to create a clean and safe environment for customers and employees. In most cases, that means establishing new health and cleaning protocols, switching from reusable to disposable or digital items and adding tools like hand sanitizer and face masks. Once a business has created its cleaning processes internally, it can communicate those practices with customers through direct marketing, mailers and email and social media updates. 

Within the businesses, many items need to be rearranged or spaced out to accommodate social distancing. Many small businesses use social distancing floor graphics to make sure customers are properly spread out. Customers won’t return to a store if they don’t feel safe and clean. Establishing processes and clearly communicating them with customers is one of the most powerful marketing messages during the COVID pandemic.

FedEx Office also sets the example to its SMB customers of how to interact with their own customers. FedEx Office created special pricing and promotions to help during tough economic times and made in-demand resources, such as templates for social distancing signs, easily available to customers. Similarly, SMBs can follow the example to make things as seamless as possible for customers.

FedEx Office also listens to customers and regularly implements their feedback to eliminate pain points and improve the overall experience. Customers weren’t satisfied with the design offerings, so FedEx Office partnered with design leader Canva to make it fast and cost-efficient for brands to create beautifully designed materials. To survive in the current global landscape, SMBs need to listen to their customers and find ways to make their lives easier by eliminating pain points.

Small and mid-sized businesses face an uphill battle as they reopen in the middle of a global pandemic. But finding strong partners and resources and clearly communicating with customers can help them overcome their biggest challenges.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit www.Zendesk.com/modern.

Jul 14, 2020

People browse Pinterest for inspiration on recipes, fashion, home décor, health and wellness, travel and much more. But in the future, that browsing could easily turn into shopping. Pinterest is leading the charge for smooth, shoppable content—the future of retail and customer experience. 

According to Dutta Satadip, Chief Customer Officer at Pinterest, the company tries to strike the balance between knowing when to personalize and when to scale. Customers want relevant recommended content, but they also want access to a wide range of ideas. Most customers come to Pinterest to find something, so Pinterest is moving in the direction of not only showing users the content they are looking for, but also making it seamless to instantly purchase that item. The vision of shoppable content is that in the future, every pin is a starting point for shopping. Instead of simply using Pinterest as a way to get inspired, users will be able to seamlessly go from pin to purchase and trust that they will get high-quality products.

Although it might seem like a relatively simple problem, Satadip says it is actually quite complicated. 

One of the big obstacles to overcome is when Pinterest users find images on the site but don’t know where to actually buy those items. They may see a great beauty product or piece of furniture, but clicking through the image doesn’t take them to a place where they can buy it. Pinterest and its advertisers are working together to eliminate friction and drive more shoppable content. 

To do so, Pinterest is making sure its shoppable links are for reputable sites. Satadip says Pinterest doesn’t want to connect customers to vendors that don’t sell high-quality merchandise or don’t portray an accurate representation of their products. If a customer clicks through Pinterest to purchase a clothing item, Pinterest wants to make sure that what the customer ends up getting matches the original image. To that end, Pinterest created its Verified Merchant Program. Once a seller has been verified as trustworthy, they receive a checkbox by their name so that customers know the brand is trusted. The program is a win for both customers and retailers because verified retailers can get wider distribution, and customers can purchase with confidence. Building trust is the first step to making customers feel more comfortable clicking through an image and giving their credit card information.

The future of shoppable content comes from finding the balance between personalization and scale. High-quality items have to be scaled to be available to everyone across a wide range of topics, but users also want personalized recommendations to purchase things that match their lifestyle. Satadip says Pinterest is working on finding the balance between high-touch services, such as the white glove Verified Merchant Program, and tech-touch services that use data to scale product recommendations. The secret to building strong shoppable content is to combine humans and technology—both sides are needed to give users a frictionless experience.

As the line between social networks and shopping blurs, shoppable content will appear on many platforms. Pinterest is setting the stage to play a major role in shoppable content that is as smooth as it is beautiful.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit www.Zendesk.com/modern.

Jul 6, 2020

In an age where most consumers interact with companies through websites, apps and other digital channels, the utility industry is constantly lagging behind.

 

A recent report from JD Power found that customer digital satisfaction in the utility industry is substantially lower than other industries. As companies in nearly every other industry, even notoriously antiquated industries like insurance and banking, prioritize the digital experience and provide innovative and convenient digital solutions for customers, utility companies lag behind with outdated channels and methods. According to Jon Sundberg, Senior Manager of Digital Communication at JD Power, utility companies update their websites an average of once every five years—a lifetime in the digital space—meaning that most websites look and feel outdated and offer a clunky user experience.

 

By not embarking on a digital transformation, utility companies run the risk of becoming digital laggards. Aside from dissatisfied customers, Sundberg says they are also missing a chance to become more efficient and reduce costs. Without convenient digital tools to find answers, track their energy usage or pay their bills themselves, customers are forced to call the company, which is one of the most expensive customer service methods.

 

To stay relevant and build a stronger experience, utility companies must prioritize these three digital areas:

 

  1. Apps. Fewer than half of utility companies across the country have apps, meaning they are missing out on a convenient and cost-effective way for customers to track their account and energy usage. Even companies with apps need to take them one step further. Sundberg says apps need to go beyond the base-level of convenience and move towards offering advice and real-time notifications about how each customer can reduce their energy load to lower their bill and help the environment.
  2. Online chat. In most other industries, online chat is standard practice, but 80% of utility companies don’t offer the service. Instead, customers are forced to connect with the company on the phone or in person, which is not only less convenient for customers, but also much more expensive for companies.
  3. Mobile website. Because utility companies update their websites so infrequently, most sites aren’t optimized for mobile. Modern customers predominately visit websites on mobile devices, which means utility websites need to be streamlined to help customers find the updated information they need on the go.

 

Digital transformation is crucial for every company, no matter the industry. Because utility companies often don’t face as much competition, they tend to be slow to adopt new digital solutions, which makes life much more difficult for customers. As utility startups gain steam around the country, competition is increasing, which means it’s more important than ever for utility companies to offer a strong digital experience. The best digital experience is built around customers and starts with companies listening to customers to find out what matters to them. Prioritizing feedback and creating convenient digital solutions for customers can set utility companies up for long-term success.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit www.Zendesk.com/modern.

 

 

Jun 29, 2020

In the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are now balancing numerous responsibilities: working from home, keeping their kids entertained, stressing about staying healthy, checking in on elderly family members, trying to take care of themselves—the list goes on and on. These responsibilities can weigh on people and lead to mental health issues for busy employees.

Guru Gowrappan is CEO of Verizon Media, a company that has seen tremendous growth in the last few months as media consumption has skyrocketed. But even with his many responsibilities as CEO, Gowrappan believes his most important job is to take care of himself and encourage his employees to take care of themselves. It’s easy for employees to become overwhelmed and burnt out during normal times, and that risk is amplified during the uncertainty of a global pandemic and widespread social unrest. Gowrappan believes in doing everything to help employees with what they need to work from home and answer questions about benefits and other changes. He believes it is table stakes as CEO to prioritize employee mental health.

 

As employees work from home, their four walls become their universe. Those walls can quickly start to close in and become suffocating, which impacts an employee’s mindset both in work and their personal life. Gowrappan says it’s important for people to take care of themselves and find balance. He starts each day with exercise and meditation and has provided mediation resources and apps to all Verizon Media employees, as well as free access to 24/7 crisis and counseling support.

Working remotely blurs the lines between work and home, which means leaders and employees may find themselves in meetings for more than 12 hours a day with limited breaks. That constant mental energy can be draining, so Gowrappan and his team at Verizon Media encourage leaders to give more breaks. Even a short five-minute nap or 10-minute video game session can help employees reset and have the mental energy to continue with the day. Breaking up the rhythm of the day with as many small resets as possible builds good consistent energy.

Everyone is in the same boat with the pandemic, but it impacts everyone differently. Gowrappan believes this is a great opportunity to build empathy as we work through a shared challenge together. He encourages his employees to be as flexible and empathetic with each other as possible. If an employee feels overwhelmed or is struggling with their balance or mental health, they can be open and honest with their leaders or their team and have other people step in to make up the difference. Although the pandemic may be stressful, in many cases it is changing our view of other people and our relationships for the positive.

Along with providing employees with resources to reset and re-energize, leaders and organizations should try to find ways to lower employee stress. During the current pandemic, uncertainty can be a major stressor for employees. Gowrappan believes strongly in transparency and communication. He holds daily 30-minute live Q & A sessions with the entire company to keep them updated on how Verizon Media is pivoting and planning for the future. Gowrappan believes CEOs are today’s chief communication officers and have a responsibility to keep employees informed to lower their stress. 

Employee mental health matters. Especially during challenging times, leaders and employees need to take care of themselves, and organizations must provide their employees the resources to prioritize their mental health and find balance.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit www.Zendesk.com/modern

 

 

 

Jun 23, 2020

Women like Beyoncé command attention, both on stage and in the boardroom. But channeling your inner Beyoncé starts by avoiding a common and costly mistake most women make in business. Trust the woman who served as the personal attorney for many famous musicians, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Jennifer Justice, better known as JJ, spent years as a music lawyer before founding The Justice Department, a female-focused strategy and law firm. She says the biggest mistake women make in business is not negotiating for themselves.  

Justice says that too often, women don’t hire proper representation to negotiate for themselves. They may hire an agent to negotiate business contracts and deals instead of a lawyer or hire a man who doesn’t understand the business perspective they are coming from. Justice says that men often don’t fight for women because they don’t understand what women have to endure in business and life. Not only are women frequently left out of leadership teams, but women are regularly paid less than men. That pay disparity is only getting worse, especially after women were harder hit by the economic effects of COVID-19.

How can women overcome these mistakes and better stand up for themselves? It starts with hiring the right representation. A female lawyer understands the prejudices women face because she has felt them as well. While the power difference with men makes many female clients feel intimidated to ask questions, female representation can create a comfortable environment so that women feel empowered and educated.

Women also need to learn to keep pushing and not settle. Even when women think they are getting the best deal, Justice says they are still making less than men. The first step to asking for more and closing the gap between men and women is to properly value yourself as a female. Too often, women become the worst perpetrators and undervalue themselves. Justice says females have to demand more for themselves and for each other. But women are often insecure and don’t feel confident advocating for themselves. Justice recommends women don’t think of it as representing themselves, but rather representing a higher purpose. Changing your thinking about how you represent yourself and your value can give women more confidence and strength to ask for what they deserve.

Women face an uphill battle in business, no matter the industry. The top mistake they can make is not negotiating for themselves. Don’t just accept what you’ve been offered; know your value and keep pushing. The more women can represent and stand up for each other, the more the gap between men and women will close and the sooner women will begin to earn what they are worth.

 

 

 

 

Jun 15, 2020

It's no secret in a post-COVID world, much of the shopping is happening online. That said, the internet is a great opportunity for brands, but it can also be overwhelming for customers. Not all websites and online customer experiences are created equally. One of the best aspects of an online experience for customers and brands are sales funnels.

According to Russell Brunson, co-founder and CEO of ClickFunnels, a sales funnel is completely designed around the customer experience. Traditional websites tend to have complex navigation systems with dropdown menus and lots of options. While some companies think providing customers with choices helps customers get exactly what they need, it can actually confuse customers. When there are too many options or products, customers can get lost in the chaos and end up leaving the website for something simpler.

A sales funnel simplifies the process to walk customers down a more direct path. A funnel shifts the experience so that customers only have one thing they can do on a page. Instead of being bombarded with choices and products, customers only have the choice to enter their email address to get access to something they want or to leave the page. From there, the next page also has one option. Each page has one call to action to take customers through a systemic step-by-step sales process.

Brunson compares sales funnels to going to the grocery store. Visiting a traditional website is like wandering the grocery store without knowing exactly what you need and putting things in your cart without thinking or getting too overwhelmed and leaving the store without making a purchase. On the other hand, a sales funnel is like meeting someone at the store who shows you exactly what to buy for a recipe, step by step. They take you through a logical sequence of events to make sure you leave the store with everything you need. 

A sales funnel streamlines customer experience and moves people through the process. Customers get exactly what they want. In many cases, the funnel even moves them to things they didn’t realize they needed but are the next logical step in the process. It’s like your knowledgeable friend showing you the grills at the store and then taking you to get propane and grilling supplies that you didn’t even realize you needed but that will make your grilling experience so much better.

As an added bonus for companies, Brunson says sales funnels also lead to a huge boost in sales. Customers aren’t overwhelmed by the process, so they stick around to work through the funnel and drive revenue.  

Sales funnels resonate with customers because customers often aren’t looking for huge, over-the-top experiences from brands. They would rather have something simple and personalized, which is exactly what can happen through a sales funnel. Brunson uses a simple formula to sell things online: hook, story, offer.

The hook grabs someone’s attention with a catchy video or headline. That opens the door to tell them a story to build connection. Then, a brand can make an offer because there is a strong relationship. The three steps might not happen all at once, but they work to create relationships that can lead to eventual sales.

Sales funnels, like the overall customer experience, are all about making things easier and simpler for customers. Building a relationship and finding and improving on customer pain points can help companies make sales and create winning online experiences.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

 

Jun 9, 2020

Building a better experience for customers often starts internally by creating a customer-centric culture and strong teams. And for many successful companies, those teams are transitioning to become more agile.

Agile is a buzzword often thrown around with teams. According to Sarah Elk, author of Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos, there’s a difference between companies that do agile well and companies that don’t do it properly and end up with more issues than before. What does it mean to be agile? It’s a way of organizing and running teams that helps them change businesses, test fast and stay in tune with customers. Agile teams are focused on innovation and experimenting with new ideas with a strong feedback loop.

When done right, agile teams are completely customer-focused and can make a huge impact in strengthening relationships and creating high-quality customer experiences. One thing to remember is that agile teams are a tool, not a strategy. Successful companies have a purpose and a strategy to achieve that purpose. Agile is a tool or methodology to help companies be more efficient and customer-focused, but it isn’t the entire strategy.

Elk says agile’s role is essential to customer experience because it puts the customer at the heart of everything the team does. When done correctly, multiple agile teams in the organization are focused on innovating different aspects of the customer experience. One agile team could be working on customer solutions, another on adapting technology systems and another on improving communication. Each team is testing new ideas to find what will work best for customers. Each team has its own agile focus, but they all work together to deliver something different and relevant to customers.

Many companies are moving enthusiastically to agile teams, but the entire company shouldn’t be agile. Hierarchical structure and traditional teams are essential to keeping the business running with routine operations. Agile and bureaucracy are complements to each other and balance each other out to keep the business moving forward while also finding new solutions to improve the customer experience.

Successful, customer-centric agile teams start with strong leadership and culture. In an agile world, the customer dictates the right answer because teams are testing and learning. Leaders often need to step aside and let agile teams work so that customers can speak for themselves. Elk says the most critical piece of an agile team is the feedback loop. Teams need to be constantly in contact with customers and learning from and applying their feedback.

Agile teams have incredible potential to change customer experience and create relevant and innovative interactions with customers. Elk says that at the end of the day, agile is about hope and optimistically looking towards the future. Agile’s goal is to make a business better and should create a fun journey—for both employees and customers.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. 

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit www.Zendesk.com

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

 

Jun 2, 2020

Every modern customer is familiar with the basic customer service script. It’s often what they hear after waiting on hold and having to work through a phone tree, when what they really want is a quick answer to a question or a human to have an actual conversation with. Instead, they’re left with a frustrating interaction that takes too long and is ineffective.

According to Ruth Zive, head of marketing at automated customer service company Ada, human-first customer service is broken. Too often customers have to wait on hold only to get the runaround with questions and feedback that are irrelevant to their issues.

An automation-first strategy allows companies to use their humans wisely. Automating customer service doesn’t mean companies need to eliminate human support, but it does mean human employees can be better used. The vast majority of inquiries are repetitive—things like checking on an order status or tracking a package. These questions can easily be answered by automation in a way that is quicker and more convenient than waiting for a human employee. By automating the mundane questions, human representatives are then free to address the more complicated questions and the customer interactions that matter most. Automation cuts costs for simple queries and allows companies to deliver a truly human experience when it’s most needed.

Air Asia is one company that has made the transition to automation-first service. According to Zive, using a robust automation platform helped the company seamlessly transition during the COVID pandemic to be available to answer customer questions around the clock. Air Asia’s chatbot through Ada also empowers customers to do things like change their seats and order meals before their flights. If a customer needs a human, the escalation happens seamlessly. By adding automation-first service, Air Asia was able to cut its wait times from over an hour to less than a minute, leading to lower costs and higher customer satisfaction.

To get the benefits of automation without the overwhelm of transitioning an entire system at once, Zive recommends companies start by automating the 10 most frequently asked questions, which she says can lead to a 30% call reduction within 30 days. From there, companies can move on to automating more sophisticated questions and integrating back-end systems. 

The key to a successful automated service strategy is to stay actively involved instead of just setting it up and moving on. Automation underpins an organization’s entire support strategy and requires updates and maintenance. Many successful companies have teams or entire departments dedicated to managing automated service.

Human-first customer service is outdated and inefficient. Companies need to turn to automation to increase customer satisfaction and reduce their costs. With a strategic automation system that combines convenient responses with quick escalation to humans when needed, customers can get the support they need and brands can best use their resources.

This podcast is sponsored by Ada. More about Ada: 

ADA is the leader in Automated Customer Experience with their easy to implement AI Chatbot Software. ADA was born with the understanding that live agents have more to contribute than responses to frequently asked questions; with an appreciation for customers’ preference for on-demand, self-service support; and with the knowledge that they could deliver a product that would offer a highly personalized and engaging opportunity for automation across the customer journey.  Learn more at ada.support

May 26, 2020

Even the most forward-thinking companies couldn’t predict the magnitude and impact of the COVID pandemic. If the future is unpredictable to even the most prepared companies, how can organizations future-proof their businesses? The answers might come from our current situation.

Change is unpredictable. No one know the next big global catalyst for change expect that it will happen at some point. But to be as prepared as possible for whatever comes next, companies need to learn from the present and look towards the future. According to Tom Libretto, CMO at Pega, future-proofing starts by looking inside at the business architecture. The future will be fast-paced and constantly changing, so a company’s structure needs to be able to move fast and pivot alongside the changes. Libretto says a lot of architectures of the past were too brittle, and those flaws are now being exposed. In the future, an adaptable business architecture will be more important than ever. Companies should focus on being more stable and establishing flexible systems so they aren’t caught off guard again.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers have been contacting companies about new issues and have had more interaction with brands than before. These interactions have taught companies the importance of responding to the needs of customers in ways that make the company more resilient in the future. Libretto says that companies often respond to customers with a one-and-done mentality and move on to the next issue. To be future-proof, organizations need to respond to customers in a way that makes them stronger and adds to the company’s architecture. Take these opportunities to build relationships, learn from customers and prepare to pivot instead of simply addressing an issue and moving on.

One of the most crucial qualities of future-proof organizations is empathy. This has been shown in many ways during the current pandemic. Everyone around the world is experiencing the pandemic, but it happens in different ways, and some are devastating, especially for customers who have lost family members or their jobs. Successful companies have models in place to embed empathy at the heart of all their customer interactions. Empathy will always be important and will satisfy current needs and retain relationships for the long run.

Mixed with the human elements is a need to automate to prepare for the future. Libretto gives the example of using an email bot to sort through the deluge of customer emails and automatically trigger the right response, either back to the customer or in process through the back office. Future-proof organizations embrace technology and look for the best ways to automate.

The future is uncertain, and it will likely continue to get more uncertain as time goes on. But companies that build agile architectures, show empathy and automate will be on their way to being future-proof and ready to face whatever comes their way.

This post is sponsored by Pega. About our sponsor:

Pega is the leader in cloud software for customer engagement and operational excellence. The world’s most recognized and successful brands rely on Pega’s AI-powered software to optimize every customer interaction on any channel while ensuring their brand promises are kept. It’s almost time for PegaWorld iNspire, the annual conference from Pegasystems. Join them online for free on June 2 from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time to learn how the world’s most impactful companies are driving digital transformation – which is more important than ever in the COVID-19 age. They’ll have compelling keynotes, demos, and case studies in a highly interactive virtual format and a few surprises as well. Go to www.pegaworld.com to register for free and check out the full agenda. I’ve attended the last several PegaWorlds in person and I can’t recommend it highly enough, so go register today! That’s www.pegaworld.com.

May 19, 2020

Every consumer has their go-to brands—the companies they will do business with again and again because of a trusted track record, great product and strong service. Every company wants to be a go-to brand, only about one-third of them reach that status. In order to become the preferred brand of customers of the future, brands need to focus on connection and progress.

To better understand the ever-changing needs and demands of customers, Lippincott brought together specialists from a number of fields to predict what the world and customers will look like in five years. Those findings help drive brands’ current strategies to prepare to serve customers of the future. According to Dave Mayer, Senior Partner, Brand Strategy at Lippincott, one of the biggest takeaways is the need to prioritize customer experience. That comes from both connection and progress.

Connection

Go-to brands like Apple, Samsung and Charles Schwab drive real connections with their customers. They strive to continually improve the experience to make themselves loved by customers. Instead of simply delivering a functional need and being a transactional brand that a customer uses once and leaves, go-to brands create relationships and understand their customers to keep them coming back again and again. One of the best ways to measure connection is through NPS. If a customer says they will recommend a brand to family and friends, they likely feel a strong connection with the company.

Progress

But connection alone isn’t enough to create a resilient go-to brand. Brands that drive loyalty also help customers do something they couldn’t do before. Customers of the future want to interact with brands that fill a need they can’t get filled anywhere else. Progress means pushing customers forward, opening doors and introducing them to ideas and services they didn’t even know they needed. 

Connection and progress work hand in hand. A brand that offers progress without connection runs the risk of deflection. As soon as another brand comes with a better option, customers will abandon ship for the competition. Similarly, connection without progress means that customers will likely eventually leave for other brands that have more forward-thinking options.

Connection and progress are vital to creating go-to brands now, but they will be even more crucial in coming years. Mayer says that go-to brands grow five times faster than transactional brands and endure themselves to customers and shareholders to become resilient through difficult times. The customer of the future is values-driven and wants to connect with brands they believe in and that do good in the world. That’s progress. But they also want highly personalized experiences, which create connection. Brands must deliver on both sides to deliver a strong customer experience.

The customer of the future is changing, but they will remain loyal to their go-to brands that continue to offer both connection and progress.

May 12, 2020

Like all industries, banking has faced huge disruptions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. And although the challenges facing banks have led to many negative effects, there could be a silver lining as the pandemic moves companies closer to full digital transformations.

According to Marc Andrews, VP of Financial Services and Insurance Strategy at Pega, many banks were working towards digital transformations before the pandemic hit, but they weren’t all the way there. Banks were on digital transformation journeys to allow customers access through online channels, but none of the banks had completed those journeys. With new challenges and nearly everyone banking remotely, the gaps are now highlighted.

Banks are faced with struggles from two sides: internally and externally. Internally, employees are forced to work remotely without protocols in place to scale security and efficiency. Internally, banks see the impacts of economic struggles and high unemployment as they face cash flow issues with many customers out of work and unable to make their loan and bill payments.

As challenges grow and evolve, banks are having to quickly shift resources. Requests like fee waivers and small business loans are going through the roof, so much that banks are having to bring on new employees and shift things around internally to manage the flow. All while employees are working remotely in an industry that never expected to be able to work from home.

With incomplete digital transformations, banks simply weren’t prepared to handle the huge number of requests and didn’t have tools in place to enable customers to bank without going into a branch. Andrews says most banks started by trying to manage the crisis with basic websites to capture customer requests. Those basic forms collected information, but the requests often had to be handled manually and created a huge backlog.

Most banks are now moving to the second phase: business stabilization. By now they’ve largely figured how to have employees work from home and customers bank remotely and they’re turning to partners to create more intelligent forms to capture customer requests and automate the responses.

In Canada, one bank partnered with Pega to create an intelligent form to automate payment request from the government. Within the first three days, the bank automated more than 60,000 payments and allowed customers to make and track their loan concession requests. The digital system was much faster and more efficient than doing it manually.

For many banks, the pandemic will act as a catalyst towards full digital transformation. Banks and their customers will see that they can’t live without these technologies. Instead of focusing only on certain aspects of the digital transformation by offering digital tools just in certain areas, banks will realize how much they need to fully transform. They need to deliver end-to-end digital journeys that aren’t specific to a single channel.

Andrews says that in order to be successful, banks must build from the middle outwards instead of starting from the front end or the back end. A full digital transformation allows people to use any channel on the front end and any system on the back end.

Digital transformation is the future of banking, perhaps now more than ever before. Our world is constantly changing, and banks that offer full digital journeys will be best set up for long-term success.

This post is sponsored by Pega. About our sponsor:

Pega is the leader in cloud software for customer engagement and operational excellence. The world’s most recognized and successful brands rely on Pega’s AI-powered software to optimize every customer interaction on any channel while ensuring their brand promises are kept. It’s almost time for PegaWorld iNspire, the annual conference from Pegasystems. Join them online for free on June 2 from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time to learn how the world’s most impactful companies are driving digital transformation – which is more important than ever in the COVID-19 age. They’ll have compelling keynotes, demos, and case studies in a highly interactive virtual format and a few surprises as well. Go to www.pegaworld.com to register for free and check out the full agenda. I’ve attended the last several PegaWorlds in person and I can’t recommend it highly enough, so go register today! That’s www.pegaworld.com.

May 5, 2020

Today, Apple regularly tops lists of companies with the best customer experiences and the most innovative products. But that hasn’t always been the case.

When Apple was founded, few companies even considered customer experience. As the company was first gaining traction, Steve Jobs brought on people who understood customers to take risks and prioritize experience when few other companies were. One of those early leaders, John Sculley, went on to become CEO of Apple.

The goal of Apple under Steve Jobs was to create beautiful products and an experience so wonderful that everyone would want a computer, even people who weren’t tech-savvy. Instead of focusing solely on the processing power and technical aspects of the products, Jobs, Sculley and other Apple leaders prioritized the design and experience. They understood far before many other companies that without a great experience, customers wouldn’t be loyal, no matter the quality of the product. When all other tech companies were run by engineers and focused only on harnessing processing power, Apple realized that computers were for everyone and that great technology could also be combined with a strong experience.

In order for customer experience to permeate through a company, Sculley says it must become a core principle of the organization. Leaders set the example of the importance of experience. This is best done when founders see the value of customer experience and make it a foundational principle of the company.

Sculley says experience has always been relevant, but how it comes to fruition is different now than it was decades ago.

As an executive at Pepsi, Sculley was faced with the problem of being heavily outsold by Coca-Cola because Pepsi lacked brand recognition. Sculley created the Pepsi Challenge to immerse customers in the experience and show the quality of the product. Pepsi ran commercials of customers participating in blind taste tests. Without a label on the bottle, customers largely preferred Pepsi. While the commercials ran on TV, Pepsi also hosted the Pepsi Challenge at malls and events around the country, giving customers a chance to let their tastes decide. Putting customers in charge of the experience gave Pepsi a huge boost and helped it compete with Coca-Cola.

Jobs recruited Sculley to work at Apple because he had helped Pepsi outsell Coca-Cola. They shared a love of design and a desire to do something bold for consumer marketing. Focusing on customers helped create a company that today is beloved by loyal customers around the world and known for creating customer-focused products.

Sculley’s experiences at Pepsi and Apple show the power of focusing on customers and taking bold actions to put customers at the middle of the company.

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