The Experience Points Blog: Brittany Hodak
by John Seeds
Avtex Chief Experience Officer, Kurt Schroeder sat down with VP of Marketing, John Seeds to discuss our episode of Experience Points with Dennis Wakabayashi. In this episode, Kurt and John discuss transforming your existing brand perception, CX being everyone's job, and knowing the ROI of your CX.
[John] I think that one of the interesting things that we're seeing is how experiences are really taking the lead in crafting the perception of a brand. I found it fascinating, this empty/full vessel conversation, and I wanted to get your take on whether you think it's harder to have a name and then create a brand around that from scratch or take something that's existing, that has some bias, and really move the needle in terms of how people perceive that brand.
[Kurt] That's a really interesting question. I think it's easier to start with the name and create something from scratch than it is to try to transform an existing brand, with not only its biases in the marketplace with customers and consumers but even biases with employees.
I think many times the greatest hindrance to future success is previous success. We want to keep rendering the experiences that we want to render when consumers have moved on perhaps, and are looking for, or have different expectations. But yet the organization is still stuck on delivering their experiences the way they've done it for the last 10 years. And it may be a slow, painful struggle, but they need to change.
Versus a new organization that can define their customer experience around their brand and what they want that brand experience to be and deliver it from day one and not have to worry about retrenching, retraining, reorienting, recommunicating what they want their brand to be.
[John] I think that's fascinating and definitely right when we think about that journey. To get existing brands to move, I think that, it wouldn't be out of bounds to say that your fastest path there is to focus on the experiences. Rather than, let's redo our logo and try and trick people into thinking we’re somebody new or, changing our pricing model or the products themselves. But, what's an argument to think about customer experiences first and then use that as a way to transition.
[Kurt] Study after study has said that especially in 2021 organizations will spend more on the customer experience, definition, and orchestrating as the way of defining their brand, than any other areas that they could spend in. So what I think organizations have recognized, and if they haven't, they need to, is that spending on customer experience is probably the most important thing you can do to define your brand. If I can put words on a page, then I can do all sorts of other things in the marketplace to define my brand. But if the experience that ultimately is rendered to customers doesn't match up to that, customers are going to figure out pretty quickly and look at it as inauthentic. And we have talked in previous episodes about the importance of authenticity when it comes to the experience because that authenticity needs to be a reflection of your brand.
[John] Yeah, I think that's right. The interesting thing about customers moving on, I sometimes like to think about consumers as a whole, almost an organism, right? That continually grows and evolves and, changes. And so you get into dangerous territory when you’re grounding your future planning in past successes instead of directly listening to the customer and aligning their needs with who you want to be and finding those nexus points that you can build around experiences.
[Kurt] I think this episode brings up an interesting observation. Clearly, someone knew or someone should have known the first time they showed up, that the windows weren't the right kinds. The second time they showed up the windows weren't the right kind, the third time it was cracked. So there's somebody somewhere that should have known that before it ever got to the customer to figure out.
What it really speaks to is that CX is everyone's job. Yes, I may be, "only the installer," but I should check to make sure that what I'm installing matches what was sold. I may be only putting on the packing slip and doing the packaging of the window, but I should make sure that the packing slip matches what was sold. It's everyone's job to provide an exceptional experience to the end customer, even if you never ever deal with or talk to or interact with that end consumer.
[John] I think that's an important point. It's something that we're starting to see some trends on and some topics and some thought leadership, but sometimes gets lost and we think about customer experiences, the job of the person interacting with the customer, right? But there's so much that leads up to it.
Which, by the way, the stuff that happens before that customer action, you can't just default to, "That's the employee experience." No, the customer experience is building towards that delivery, and I think that it goes back to the definition of CX. Which is the sum perception of all the engagement points across the lifetime of that customer. There are specific handoff points that happen in every customer journey where the responsibility of engaging that customer at a particular point in time changes hands and changes responsibility within an organization. Those points are ripe for disaster or friction that I think companies can just really start to look at today after they finished listening to this fantastic podcast between us two, and they can go look and say, "Okay, well, what does this feel like for the customer and is it what we would want them to feel?"
[Kurt] It all goes back to that kind of old saying of, "If you're not serving the customer, you're most likely serving someone who serves the customer." That's a cultural change in organizations, to be so customer-focused, that even though I have never had any kind of interaction with the customer, I'm serving someone, and I need to make that experience for them the best possible.
The other thing that I thought was interesting was this idea of what I'll call vertical integration of measures, where he talked about really having a measure that incorporates the customer experience measure, the employee experience measure, and then he talked about the leadership experience measure. I think that's an important concept.
For a long time, the Net Promoter Score has been the gold standard of how we measure loyalty and sometimes how we measure experiences. But I think it's time to also rethink the universal application of NPS and should we be thinking about a measure that is more reflective of the connective tissue between employee experience and customer experience.
[John] I think that one of the things he was looking for is an industry-wide standard, but to your point, Kurt, don't sit and wait around for that. Call us, call Kurt Schroeder and he'll come give you a great measure. I joke, but I think that there's something there to a holistic measure that's more tailored for your organization that can be a little bit personal to the way that you want to service your customers that might not be reflective of an industry-wide organization, just like your products and services and experiences might not be reflective of an industry-wide standard.
[John] It's funny, as we reflect on a lot of the themes that have come out in these conversations, I think it's representative of some of the things that our clients talk about, think about and obsess about with their customer experiences. I think we hit on a number of different topics that are just fascinating, and why it's something I'm so passionate about in this space, and why I love being part of the experience community.
[Kurt] I thought some of the facts that they shared were interesting. The fact that 56% of the people don't necessarily know the ROI story behind their CX work. But I was expecting it to be a lot more.
[John] What have you seen from our customers?
[Kurt] I was thinking that the numbers should have been closer to 75%. I was excited to hear that it was lower. The thing that this tells me is that you still have a large portion of your team members, a large portion of folks that are working internally or serving those who serve customers, who really don't understand how the organization is measuring the customer experience. And so it's hard for them to contribute meaningfully if they don't know how it's being measured. The old saying that says, "Inspect what you expect." So making those measures more broadly known, I think will do a lot to improve the overall delivery and orchestration of the customer experience.
The second point I'd like to make is the onboarding comment was telling around a more broad issue, which is that too many times we focus on getting the process done and checking the box and moving on. So once all the tools are set up, well, yeah, they're “onboarded” but maybe onboarded from a functional perspective and not from an emotional or experience perspective, where they're connected to the organization. Changing our thinking to equating onboarding to lifetime value or onboarding to some other measure of engagement, versus “Did I check the box and get the tool set up?”
[John] I love the comments around anchoring the end state goal around lifetime value. I love that because it speaks to the perpetual need to think about the customer not as a single transaction, but as a series of engagement points that continue in perpetude, because you don't necessarily have a projection of, "Oh, the lifetime customer value will end here." You want it to keep going, and you want to continue to elevate how you're providing value. Anchoring the discussion around CX in terms of lifetime value, what value you're getting from the customer, but also by necessity, what value you're delivering to the customer through experiences over the entire lifetime, I think, is the right anchor to be thinking about.
[Kurt] I also think, there are multiple examples beyond just onboarding, where we've reduced the experience to a set of actions that we take around our processes and what we need to deliver. And then we assume that once we've checked all the boxes, that we've delivered a great experience. When in reality, maybe we haven't delivered that great of an experience, even back to our measurement discussion.
How do we measure how effective it is? Not just that we've been efficient, but have we impacted the customer in a meaningful way? Did we provide them an experience that they want to talk about to others? Because the promise of customer experience is so powerful in a way that organizations can differentiate. But if we don't start measuring correctly and aspiring and embedding it into the culture, then it's really going to continue to be just all about our processes. And that's not what customer experience is about.