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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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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.

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.

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