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The Modern Customer Podcast

The Modern Customer Podcast is a show exploring the intersection of customer experience, digital transformation, and the future. We will also dive into related leadership topics. The show is hosted by Forbes contributor and customer experience futurist Blake Morgan and author of the new book The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles for Winning Tomorrow's Business. The show features guests that include practitioners, authors, influencers and other tastemakers.
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Now displaying: Category: Business
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experience and provide innovative and convenient digital solutions for customers, utility companies lag behind with outdated channels and methods.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websites an average of once every five years—a lifetime in the digital space—meaning that most websites look and feel outdated and offer a clunky user experience.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.

Apr 28, 2020

A company striving to grow its revenue and an organization dedicated to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes may have different goals, but one important principle stays the same: they have to connect with their audience. Just like customer experience is crucial in the for-profit world, supporter experience drives the success of non-profit organizations.

In both industries, data plays a vital role. Sri Mishra, Chief Data and Technology Officer at JDRF International, knows that data holds the answers to staying relevant and connecting with supporters, no matter the type of the organization. Data is often overlooked in the nonprofit world, but it is a vital piece of an organization’s success.

Here are five ways nonprofits can use data to drive the supporter experience:

  1. Know supporters. For-profit customers are fairly easy to identify, but non-profit supporters tend to be more unique. Mishra says segmenting supporters is the biggest challenge organizations face, and trying to understand supporters manually can lead to data inaccuracies. Data helps organizations understand their many types of supporters and what matters to each group, as well as segment their approach for personalized experiences.
  2. See architecture holistically. Nonprofits need to believe in technology and invest in it. That means looking at the technology holistically and considering entire systems instead of just pieces. Holistic thinking allows organizations to connect pieces of data together for a full view of the organization, its supporters and its progress. When an organization sees things holistically, it can predict the future and plan for long-term success.
  3. Partner with tech teams. A digital transformation is an organization-wide endeavor. Business teams can’t do things on their own, and the technology team can’t create an effective data system without involvement from the business side. Data brings together the entire organization to unite every department to a common goal.
  4. Break down silos. Many non-profits run into pieces of data done manually in different parts of the organization, which creates inaccuracies and inefficiencies. Instead of the data working together to solve problems, it fights against itself and makes it difficult to understand what is really going on. Data allows organizations to automate their systems, which breaks down silos and unites the organization around a cohesive strategy with shared data. Without silos, the organization can run more efficiently and better serve its purpose.
  5. Create partnerships with tech companies. Most non-profit organizations don’t have technology resources to tackle data effectively on their own. Mishra says non-profit organizations have to partner with technology companies that understand the world of data and can apply their products to the organization. Strong partnerships help the non-profit adopt data systems more quickly and effectively.

Using data effectively can help non-profit organizations fulfill their purposes and meet their goals. To look towards the future and build lasting and effective relationships with supporters, nonprofits have to use data and find the partnerships that make it possible. 

This post is sponsored by Informatica. About our sponsor:

Digital transformation changes customer expectations: better service, faster delivery, with less cost. Businesses must transform to stay relevant and data holds the answers. As the world’s leader in Enterprise Cloud Data Management, Informatica provides the foresight to become more agile, realize new growth opportunities and create new inventions. With 100% focus on everything data, we offer the versatility needed to succeed. Explore all that Informatica has to offer—and unleash the power of data to drive intelligent disruption. Please visit Informatica at www.informatica.com. 

Apr 21, 2020

“AI needs data, and data needs AI. They go hand in hand.”

Those are the powerful words of Ansa Sekharan, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Informatica. Data or AI alone is only part of the equation; true success in customer experience comes when the two sides work together. Informatica leverages the power of data and AI to serve its customers and provide tools for its customers to serve their end-users.

AI and data are a powerful combination for the future of customer experience. But the biggest challenge for companies is to know how to collect good data and act on it. The recent explosion of data provides both challenges and opportunities, but in order to properly leverage data and use it in tandem with AI, companies must know the best data to use.

Informatica faced a similar problem in knowing how to provide relevant content to its customers. With so much data and content available, the challenge was to narrow down the data. Informatica created a micro-learning program to get the right information to the right customers at the right time. The company collected data on its customers and on a variety of potential information to share with them. Then, using AI to understand each user and where they were in the product lifecycle, it was able to provide relevant content tailored to each customer and applicable to their current needs. Instead of bombarding customers with huge amounts of content, Informatica combined AI and data to provide a personalized customer experience that not only helped customers but also showcased its products.

Many of Informatica’s customers use a similar approach to AI and data to reach their own customers, Sekharan said. He shared the example of FedEx using data and AI, along with Informatica products, to optimize its delivery routes and improve shipping times. By taking data of what packages need to be delivered and combining that with AI, FedEx is able to create the best routes to more efficiently get deliveries to customers.

Data helps companies truly understand their customers, and AI allows them to automate much of the experience to deliver customized interactions at scale. Together, data and AI deliver powerful insights into what customers are looking for and how it can be delivered. Informatica realized this firsthand when it switched to a subscription model and started focusing more on relationships and experiences than products. Its data showed that customers wanted strong relationships to choose a product for life, and AI made it possible to deliver on those experiences in a way that mattered to each customer.

Data and AI are a powerful combination. When leveraged correctly, they can propel customer experience to the next level and create long-term relationships and strong benefits. To successfully use both sides of the equation, companies need to understand their customers, look at the data and find ways to automate personalized experiences.

This post is sponsored by Informatica. About our sponsor:

Digital transformation changes customer expectations: better service, faster delivery, with less cost. Businesses must transform to stay relevant and data holds the answers. As the world’s leader in Enterprise Cloud Data Management, Informatica provides the foresight to become more agile, realize new growth opportunities and create new inventions. With 100% focus on everything data, we offer the versatility needed to succeed. Explore all that Informatica has to offer—and unleash the power of data to drive intelligent disruption. Please visit Informatica at www.informatica.com. 

Apr 14, 2020

Successful, customer-driven companies put their customers first in everything they do. Even if those customers have four paws.

BARK, the company behind the wildly successful BarkBox, was created when its founders wanted to make functional and stylish products that would make their dogs happy. As co-founder Henrik Werdelin says, BARK does everything from a dogs-eye view.

Personalization has been a hallmark of the company, especially with its monthly subscription boxes that have served more than 3 million dogs. But instead of viewing the company as a subscription box company, Werdelin says BARK views itself as a company in the business of making dogs happy, which is best done through subscription boxes.

Each monthly BarkBox comes with two treats, two toys and a chew for the dog. But Werdelin says the reason it’s so successful is because of the experience it provides for owners to share something special with their dogs every month. The products are exclusive to BARK and fit a monthly theme for the box.

Taking things to the next level is BARK’s amazing attention to personalization. Of the one million boxes it sends out each month, there are around 120,000 different varieties based on the size and breed of the dog and things like allergies. Personalization also comes in the form of tailoring boxes to individual dog’s needs. The BARK team makes an effort to talk to as many customers as possible, which usually ends up being around one-third of its customers each month. From those interactions, the company’s Happy Team, which focuses on customer experience, created the No Dog Left Behind program. If a customer calls in with a certain request for a product, the team goes out of its way to make it happen. At one point the team had 20,000 boxes going out, each one hand assembled with notes of the customer’s request. One customer didn’t want pork treats in the BarkBox for her pig, so the team handmade her a box with treats for pigs. Other customers called wanting toys that could withstand their aggressive chewer dogs, so BARK made a new line of products and put them in those customers’ individual boxes.

The company has since built technology to match the needs of the team and customers and to scale the personalization process. But Werdelin says his best advice is to do things that don’t scale. Companies often want to create big systems to solve problems by mass, but customers are unique. The best solutions happen when a company and its employees have empathy and think of what’s best for each individual customer. Most brands can do something manually for a long time before coming up with a scalable solution. BARK even sends out and answers its customer emails individually to gain insight and build strong customer relationships.

Personalization is the root of BarkBox’s success. Paying attention to individual needs and really taking the time to not only listen to customers but go above and beyond to meet their needs makes a difference. By putting customers and their dogs first and making their lives easier and better, BARK has secured loyal customers—both humans and canines.

Apr 8, 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has changed how businesses around the world operate. But according to Ann Mukherjee, CEO of Pernod Ricard, times like these reveal character. Instead of be afraid of the changes and challenges of the current landscape, companies have the opportunity to move forward through ambiguity, be agile and think differently about profits. Now is a great time to build community and strengthen connections. 

Like all leaders of global companies, Mukherjee worries about the personal safety of her employees and customers. Her company has prioritized safety, family and community first. With so much uncertainty around the world, Mukherjee and her team choose to focus on what they can control to help their people feel protected. In many cases, that has helped strengthen relationships and build community through positive actions.

In the wake of a global shortage, many of Pernod Ricard’s alcohol brands around the world have shifted to manufacturing hand sanitizer. An employee suggested making the switch, and within 48 hours the program was approved and ready to start production. The global response has changed distilleries into hand sanitizer factories and helped keep people safe and healthy. 

Building community also means being aware of people in the industry who have been hit hard by the economic repercussions. The Jameson Irish Whiskey brand donated $500,000 to an emergency fund to support bartenders who are out of work. Taking things one step further, the brand also promised to match donations, which inspired one of its distributors to also donate $500,000. One donation started a movement to support many people impacted by the pandemic. The brand and its employees want to do everything they can to help people who are out of work, and that goodness spread to others.

As the beverage industry changes and restaurants and bars around the world change their operations, Pernod Ricard has also adjusted. Customers are increasingly favoring virtual happy hours and toasting each other over technology. To support the new way of connecting, the company has strengthened its e-commerce business and worked towards pickup and delivery options.

In times of uncertainty, Mukherjee advises to make adversity an advantage. She realizes she can’t solve everything that’s coming in the future, but she can take it one day at a time. As she focuses her energy on what she can control and make it better, that attitude permeates throughout the company to create a mindset of positive change and community. The world may be volatile, but companies can do their best to create community and strengthen connections, even during difficult times.

Mar 31, 2020

It’s no secret that we are experiencing a moment in history that is uncertain and distressing. The coronavirus pandemic has affected millions of businesses around the country, leaving employees and leaders in a state of panic. Executives at these businesses hold a heavy responsibility on their shoulders to remain calm, adaptable, and resilient. As the world changes drastically around us, we are looking to these c-suite leaders to step up and set an example. 

Damon D’Amore, C-Suite Advisor and Elite Performance Mentor, works with executives every day to help them build their legacy, meaning the clear and consistent message the stakeholders in his clients’ lives and businesses will share when they are gone. While he believes we all have to focus on tactical and immediate business needs, the only way to secure a legacy, the narrative of which you control, is to make tradeoffs with time and dedicate resources to focusing on what matters most. This is done by focusing on these three pillars:

Psychological: Mindset

Create filters to determine what time and resource demands are worthy of focusing on. You are the one who prioritizes your time, not your employees, customers, or board. The result is establishing confidence that you are focused on what matters most.

Emotional: Resilience as a Lifestyle

Resilience is not about surviving one challenge or trauma. It is being an optimist in the sense of waking up everyday knowing things will go wrong but you have the tools to survive and thrive. Knowing you will be ‘OK’ combined with the confidence that you are focused on the right priorities, you will be equipped to lead effectively. 

Narrative: Share Your Story

Use the data points of your life and career to tell a unique and compelling story. Your story will gain advocacy for your goals from all of your stakeholders like your company’s board, customers, investors, family and friends. You need to know your story, believe it, and learn how to communicate it. 

For executives out there that are still at a loss for how to cope with the changes that coronavirus has brought, and will continue to bring, Damon says to compose yourself and take stock of what you have and what you need. If you’re safe and have food, shelter and whatever medical supplies you need for a couple of weeks, you’re likely in a good place. You should also find a way to be present and focus. That can mean learning to meditate, breath work, or practicing gratitude. You don’t need to travel to a mountaintop in a faraway land to learn to do any of these. You can watch a video online, listen to a podcast, or download an app. 

Another helpful tool is to find an accountability partner or group. Even if it’s just 1 hour per day, get on a video chat with coworkers or peers. Set an intention or goal for the next hour, mute your video, put on headphones and do the work. Just seeing others being productive will alleviate some stress and help you to focus. The reassuring news is that many of us are in the same boat and there’s no need to be embarrassed about sharing your feelings with your peers.

As we all navigate this new reality, let’s not forget that this is an opportunity to build a legacy that we are proud of. Getting your mindset right, being resilient, and having the confidence to share your story in a vulnerable way sets you apart from the masses. As an executive, your responsibility is just as large as the impact you are capable of creating.  

Mar 3, 2020

Financial services might not seem like the most emotive industry, but consumers tend to have some of their most emotional moments connected with their finances—things like going to college, buying a house or saving for retirement. So when Citi performed an audit a few years ago and realized it wasn’t coming across as emotive, it knew it needed to make a change to better connect with customers.

According to Jennifer Breithaupt, Citi’s Global Consumer CMO, the company switched its aim to lift people up with purpose-driven campaigns. One of its major components was storytelling. Breithaupt says Citi created a simple recipe for purpose-driven marketing:

1. Stop talking so much. Up until that point, Citi was known for talking at its customers through every second of a commercial. It started using big, beautiful visuals instead of constant words to share its story.

2. Put people at the center. Storytelling is all about people, and one of the strongest ways to connect people to a message and purpose is to involve other people. Sharing stories and inspiration became the focus instead of just giving a sales pitch.

3. Use music. Citi started using large, sweeping melodies to elicit emotion and drive home that connection.

The move to purpose-driven campaigns allows Citi to build better connections with customers. It shows customers that the brand cares about more than just making sales and opening accounts, but that it really wants to support its customers and build relationships. Internally, the switch gave employees a renewed sense of purpose to do their best work and improve their customer interactions.

Modern customers want companies, especially financial brands, to do more than just make money. They want them to have a purpose, share a message and contribute to something bigger. Citi’s switch to purpose-driven marketing allows it to position itself as a life partner to walk alongside customers during their ups and downs. It also helps the company give back and contribute to charitable organizations around the world.

Emotion plays a huge role in customer experience. To feel invested in a company, customers want to connect to a purpose. Citi’s switch to purpose-driven campaigns demonstrates that showing emotion instead of sales pitches can lead to big gains.

Feb 25, 2020

In the fast-paced tech world, it’s tempting for companies to rely on their products. But Logitech, one of the world’s largest hardware companies, knows the importance of being customer-focused instead of just product-focused.

The company takes a unique approach by having its CIO, Massimo Rapparini, also lead customer experience. But the connection between technology, information and customer experience works as Logitech builds a customer-focused company that delivers quality tech products and forward-thinking digital solutions. Marrying IT and CX helps the company lead the charge for innovative support solutions that serve customers. Rapparini points to Logitech’s growth in VR, chat and a worldwide omnichannel experience as success behind the integrated design of technology and customer experience.

Logitech's CX principles drive a customer-focused culture. Employees are encouraged to think through the design of every step of the customer journey. The core CX principles are known in the company as the 5 E’s:

·  Empathy

·  Expectations

·  Effortless

·  Engaging

·  Error-free

Each principle puts the customer at front of mind. Rapparini says that starting with an empathetic mindset puts all Logitech employees in the shoes of the customer and helps them see things from their perspective. From there, they can work to clear set expectations, make the experience as few steps as possible, build customer relationships and remove errors.

Logitech’s diverse customer base comes from creating a wide range of products, from gaming headsets to enterprise technology accessories. Focusing on the customer instead of just the product helps the company grow. The core principles are timeless and applicable to all customers, no matter where they are in the world or what products they purchase. Logitech uses design thinking to create consistent experiences that consider every interaction a customer may have with the brand.

Products may be a draw for customers, but what really keeps them around is the experience. By building a customer-centric culture and focusing more on people than products, Logitech has built a successful and sustainable company with a loyal group of customers.

Feb 12, 2020

More than 150 million Americans will file their taxes in the coming months. But how many of them will have a good experience doing it? H&R Block aims to create a smooth experience for its customers that both instills confidence and wows them. And that comes from continually evolving the customer experience to leverage both technology and human connection.

H&R Block’s 20 million customers run the gamut of what they are looking for in an experience. According to CMO Vinoo Vijay, the first wave of customers files early because they want to get their refund as soon as possible. Later in the tax season comes the second wave who just want to get their taxes done. Each group has different needs and emotions relating to their taxes, which means the company needs to offer a wide variety of services. But no matter if a customer is doing their taxes themselves online or sitting down with a tax professional, H&R Block aims to create a steady experience with consistent vocabulary and a singular narrative. Customers will hear the same terminology and receive the same level of service no matter if they file online in January or in person in April. Vijay says that focusing on the tiny parts of the customer experience accumulates into a great experience that wows customers. 

At its core, Vijay believes marketing is about experience. In recent years, H&R Block has focused on experience as a core value to drive business. Connecting with customers on an emotional level builds the relationship, which is then strengthened with technology-supported services. In its continual evolution of the tax process, H&R Block is rolling out new services this year, including the ability for online customers to chat with a tax pro about questions and a digital drop-off program for customers to send in their tax forms electronically so that their taxes are already in process for their in-office appointment. The overall goal is to not only simplify the tax process but also provide great service and meet the needs of all types of customers. Some customers just want to file their taxes as quickly as possible, while others want to learn about the process and have a conversation with an experienced professional. H&R Block provides services that hit all points on the spectrum. 

Companies across all industries, especially H&R Block, have to balance the push for new technology and automation with the natural urge for human connection. Vijay says H&R Block’s goal is to make sure human connections are more tangible and valuable. Even with all of the new technology and automation, it doesn’t want to lose sight of human relationships. 

“It would be terrible for us to forget that our human needs are greater than speed,” Vijay says. “We need to find ways to serve the fullness of our communities and our people.”

Helping customers file their taxes in a convenient, simple and personalized manner comes down to continually evolving and adopting new technology without letting go of what makes us human—those connections with other people. By tapping into all areas of the equation and building emotional connections, H&R Block can continue to improve its customer experience.

Feb 4, 2020

When Sascha Mayer had her first baby, she realized a common problem for working moms: not having a good place to breastfeed or pump for their baby. Especially when she travelled for work, Mayer had difficulty finding a dignified place to use a breast pump and often found herself pumping in the bathroom. In talking with other moms, she realized she wasn’t alone and that the problem was rampant across the country.

Mayer kept expecting someone else to solve the problem, but when no one did, she and her colleague Christine Dodson accepted the challenge. Using their backgrounds in design, they created Mamava, a portable lactation suite.

Every aspect of the Mamava pod is designed with mothers in mind. Mayer is a strong believer that empathy leads to great design. From her own experience, she was able to design a place that appeals to mothers while meeting their needs and providing a dignified place to feed their babies.

Mamava suites are now in airports, conference centers, arenas and offices around the world. Every aspect of their design is intentional to not only provide a great experience for users but also to stand out and normalize breastfeeding. The curved walls are deliberate to make the pod look different than anything else in the area and provide a feminine touch. Users unlock the pod via an app and enter the clean area that holds benches, a table and chargers, plus an overhead fan to regulate temperature. The pod is designed to be comfortable and convenient without being a place where people want to spend all their time so other mothers can have a turn.

By thinking through the entire experience, even down to the type of non-porous materials that are easy to clean, Mayer built a product that resonates with mothers. She has been surprised by how many customers quickly become advocates for the brand and even take pictures of themselves inside the pods and share them on social media.

Design thinking and empathy play a huge role in customer experience. By putting herself in customers’ shoes, thinking of her own experience and working through every detail, Mayer was able to help build a transformative company and a great experience for busy moms.

Jan 29, 2020

The mattress industry definitely hasn’t been sleepy in recent years. With the success and growth of online, direct-to-consumer mattress companies, industry stalwarts have had to undergo major transformations to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. Melanie Huet, CMO at Serta Simmons, says the company’s reset has renewed its focus on consumer-led innovation and put customers at the heart of everything the company does.

According to Huet, Serta Simmons’ success comes from its three recent transformations: digital, marketing and product.

Digital Transformation

The digital transformation involved putting more resources and focus on consumer targets and insights. Serta Simmons used data analysis to better understand its customers. Instead of getting most of its insights from retailers as it had in the past, the company shifted to listening to customers to better understand what they want and need in a mattress. Serta Simmons also uses an innovation team to pilot new ideas, especially related to technology, to create a smoother internal and external experience.

Marketing Transformation

Serta Simmons’ marketing transformation involved shifting from the goal of satisfying customers to delighting them. The company built out its marketing team to better understand and connect with customers. One group that it found was missing from any mattress company was Gen Z and younger consumers. This is the group that is starting to or will soon be moving out of their parents’ house or finishing college and moving out on their own. Serta re-launched its 150-year-old Simmons brand for Gen Z. The idea is built around a crash pad—a basic first mattress that serves as a place to sleep and hang out. The mattress is part of a lifestyle, and the company’s effective new marketing approach is all about having fun and connecting with younger consumers.

Product Transformation

Serta Simmons’ research found that most consumers don’t understand the differences between mattresses or think they are really that different. But a renewed focus by consumers on getting quality sleep has led the company to create new products. Serta Simmons’ product transformation completely changed how the company thinks about its products to focus on issues most important to consumers, such as comfort and temperature, to create amazing sleep experiences. Huet says sustainability is a huge issue in the industry and one that mattress companies in general haven’t embraced. Serta recently launched its first sustainable Beauty Rest product to reduce the amount of plastic in oceans.

Like all industries, the mattress business is constantly evolving. In order to stay ahead of the curve and avoid being disrupted, Serta Simmons underwent multiple transformations. Successful companies will follow in its footsteps and continually adapt.

 

Jan 21, 2020

When you think of your interactions with brands, you likely find yourself experiencing some kind of friction. In physics, friction is anything that slows down progress, like a block trying to move across carpet. In customer experience, friction is any unnecessary effort to complete a task, and it can hurt the experience and how a customer views the brand.

Roger Dooley is the author of Friction: The Untapped Force That Can Be Your Most Powerful Advantage and my podcast guest this week. He says that although friction is a relatively simple concept, it’s obvious that not everyone is aware of it because of how much friction we face every day. Friction is anything that slows customers down. Reducing friction often doesn’t involve huge changes. In many cases, it’s the small changes that remove friction and create a compelling customer experience. Roger shares the example of Amazon’s one-click ordering. The simple button simplifies the check-out process and removes friction without completely uprooting the shopping process.

In the podcast, Roger shares more examples of companies that have removed friction and how every brand can find ways to create a friction-less experience. Every aspect of friction lessens the customer experience. Reducing friction through small actions creates a seamless customer experience and offers a powerful advantage over the competition.

This podcast is sponsored by Fujitsu Computer Products of America, leader of the document scanning industry and a subsidiary of the world's third largest IT products provider.

Jan 14, 2020

How do you create a great experience for customers of different generations? That’s the challenge faced by children’s hair salon Pigtails & Crewcuts, which has two very distinct and different types of customers: children and parents. According to CEO Wade Brannon, the key is creating a personalized and comfortable experience for everyone.  

Haircuts can be stressful for both children and their parents, so Pigtails & Crewcuts aims to create a relaxing atmosphere that is inviting for everyone. Children appreciate going somewhere that is designed for them with child-sized furniture and activities. The salons are also designed to be comfortable for parents with a colorful environment that isn’t too over the top. The salon also has plenty of places for parents to sit nearby so they can also have a comfortable experience.

For children, the main goal of the salon is for them to be comfortable and enjoy their haircut. That’s done through employees who are trained to interact with children and create a safe and calm atmosphere. Instead of rushing children through their haircuts, employees are encouraged to take their time to make sure each child is comfortable. According to Wade, parents look for a salon that makes their kid look good and takes out much of the stress of giving a child a haircut. When children are happy, parents are more likely to also be satisfied with the service.

Pigtails & Crewcuts creates a controlled environment where both parents and children know what to expect. Every time a customer walks in the door, they are greeted by an employee, who explains the entire process from check-in to wait times and even takes new customers on a tour of the salon. Being clear with the process helps customers of all ages know what to expect and helps things move more smoothly.

Both children and parents are involved in the haircut process. Employees work to make sure children are comfortable, and they regularly check with parents throughout the haircut to make sure they are creating what the parent had in mind. Afterwards, parents receive an email follow-up to ensure their expectations were met.

Pigtails & Crewcuts aims to take a sometimes painful activity and improve the experience with a controlled and personal environment. Focusing on both children and parents and being clear with expectations and service creates an environment fit for all groups where both children and parents look forward to returning.

Jan 2, 2020

The supply chain isn’t typically a strong consideration when building a customer experience strategy. But at Nordstrom, the supply chain is a critical element of delivering quality customer experiences. The company recently re-imagined its supply chain with customers at the center to create a delivery and logistics process that gets customers exactly what they need, when they need it.

 In order to build a new approach to the supply chain, Nordstrom had to let go of the historical concepts of what a supply chain can do. According to Ngoc Phan, VP Supply Chain Systems and Engineering, Nordstrom set out to create a system that can evolve with changing customer demands and help customers engage with the brand on their terms. One size doesn’t fit all, which means the supply chain needs to be customizable for each customer.

Phan says Nordstrom looked to optimize its supply chain for customers instead of the traditional cost or transportation considerations and looked at three opportunities:

  1.     Flexibility. Modular solutions help Nordstrom adapt as customer needs evolve and change. The supply chain acts as a framework that can adjust with customers.
  2.     Space. Nordstrom has existing physical assets in many markets where customers live, so it looked for solutions to optimize the existing space in its network.
  3.     Operational simplicity. The supply chain doesn’t need to be complicated. Nordstrom wanted to increase productivity and decrease the time it took to train and onboard new employees by using intuitive solutions.

With these opportunities in mind, Nordstrom’s revamped supply chain leverages its existing physical space, as well as new technology like robotics and automation, to quickly deliver products to customers. No matter if a customer wants to pick an item up in store, browse the racks the find the perfect item or have it delivered to their home, Nordstrom’s customizable supply chain helps meet their needs and provide great service.

Nordstrom shows that the supply chain is a crucial aspect of customer experience and a piece that shouldn’t be overlooked by companies that want to provide consistent experiences to their customers from all sides.

Nov 22, 2019

A company that rose out of tragedy is now a leader in experiential retail. Painting with a Twist was started 10 years ago after Hurricane Katrina to give people a safe haven and fun escape during a difficult time. Customers flocked to the chance to enjoy an evening painting and drinking with friends to escape from their cares and worries, and one of the first experiential retail businesses was born.

Today, Painting with a Twist has more than 300 locations across the country and has created the sip and paint industry. The company encourages groups and friends to come together to paint a picture and enjoy drinks and snacks. Everything about the night, from the painting itself to the easy-going attitude of the artist instructors, encourages guests to let loose and have a great time. Aside from simply teaching guests to paint, the artists tell jokes and play games with the class. The goal isn’t to teach people to become world-class painters but rather to inspire them to have fun with the people around them and try something new.

One of the main target demographics are groups of women looking for a unique way to spend time together without going to a bar or restaurant. Painting with a Twist quickly learned that everyone can enjoy a carefree escape, even if they aren’t going through a tragedy. CMO Katherine LeBlanc says that focusing on why the company exists and delivering on a great, unique experience keeps people coming back because they feel relaxed and free to enjoy a great night with friends. The company competes against other entertainment brands, including movie theaters, restaurants and even escape rooms, but has built loyal customers by offering personal connections and a truly unique experience.

Painting with a Twist continues to expand its carefree experience with new offerings, including pop culture paintings of favorite movies and nostalgic TV shows. It also hosts birthday parties, family days for younger children and trivia programs. Franchises are encouraged to build partnerships with local businesses to make each store unique and reflect the local area. LeBlanc says the company is also developing partnerships to create new experiences, such as adding music with local bands or other pop culture painting options. All experiential retail brands can learn the power of creating an immersive experience from Painting with a Twist.

No matter if the group is a ladies’ book club, kids’ birthday party or corporate retreat, Painting with a Twist aims to deliver a unique and consistent experience and create an environment where people know they can relax and enjoy a carefree escape with their loved ones. Delivering on that promise creates an experiential retail brand with loyal customers.

Nov 12, 2019

Some companies let customer experience come together on its own, while others take a more intentional approach. At Slack, the thoughtful, intentional approach has made it leader in customer experience as it constantly evaluates and updates its experience to meet customer needs.

The thoughtful approach starts internally. Ali Rayl, VP Customer Experience, has been with the company from the beginning. As Slack experienced rapid growth, Ali and other leaders realized it was too big for one person to know everything. Slack customer service representatives now specialize in certain areas of the program and become specialized experts. Employees benefit from taking ownership over certain areas, and customers can be served more quickly by automatically sending their question to a specialist in that area instead of moving aimlessly through the service department.

Rayl encourages her team to start conversations with customers and facilitate seamless transactions. Because Slack is a workplace communication tool, customers contacting the brand offer the company a unique opportunity to showcase what the product can do and to highlight how easy and smooth it can be talk to someone at work.

The thoughtful approach is driven by data and analytics. Customer service agents track the type of questions and calls they get to understand who is asking for help and what questions they have. From there, the service department works closely with the product and engineering teams to look for ways to change the product. Rayl sees two ways to look at customer problems: to either manage them through the support team or to solve them through engineering. The key to a quality experience is to find balance. Some common issues can be changed through engineering, while it’s easier to simply manage other issues. No matter how their issue is solved, Slack wants all customers to feel valued and heard.

A thoughtful customer experience comes from more than just solving problems. At Slack, it involves listening to customer feedback and looping it back to make the product better. Involving the entire company and building strong relationships with customers turns customer experience into an issue that impacts everyone and that everyone can contribute to. A thoughtful approach to customer experience changes with customer needs but always puts making the customer’s life easier at the center of everything.

 

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