The Experience Points Blog: Jason Bradshaw
by John Seeds
Avtex Chief Experience Officer, Kurt Schroeder sat down with VP of Marketing, John Seeds to discuss key takeaways from this episode of Experience Points with Ramon Ray. In this episode, Kurt and John discuss how to showcase and align on brand personality, the difference between multi-channel and omnichannel, and creating the right retail experience.
[Kurt] I loved that episode. I loved the stories. One thing I got out of it, is your response when something maybe doesn't go exactly right, your response should be aligned to your brand personality. And so, if you think about the two organizations that took more of a playful, "Hey, oops, we did something. Let's have some fun with it," those are two small organizations, relatively new organizations compared to McDonald's, which has been around for a long time.
McDonald's has a stellar brand reputation. And so McDonald's isn't going to do anything that doesn't align with their brand personality. And so I think the first thing out of this is to make sure you're doing something in response. And whether it's on social media, whether it's directly to your customer, however, you're embedding that response into the experience, make sure it aligns to what you want your brand personality to reflect. Because if the customer or consumer is getting different messages, then they lose sight of who you are as a brand.
[John] So that's an interesting component to this. As you've worked with our clients and helped them, we talk a lot about North Star, right? Your brand personality falls from that as part of the tale. Who do you see is responsible for the brand personality of an organization and defining what that is?
[Kurt] That’s a great question. I think that brand personality is the definition of it, and then I would say the orchestration of it needs to fall on the marketing leadership and the customer experience leadership, primarily with the rest of the leadership coming into alignment with that. And in particular, the reason I say both marketing and customer experience is because we know that organizations today are spending more money on customer experience as their primary brand development vehicle than they are in other traditional marketing spend areas. And so making sure that marketing and customer experience are aligned on what that brand personality is and how we want to reflect it in different communications, different circumstances, different interactions is important.
[John] I think that's an interesting call-out. Because if your brand personality is reflective of customer experiences, then it's reflective of the people that interact with your customers, right? And it's a genuine reflection of that interaction on the human-to-human basis, of your employees with your customers. And so, they act as a conduit for understanding who your brand personality is, if you're a little bit more established and may not have codified what that personality is, that's a place to look, right?
[Kurt] That brings up the second key point that I got out of that interaction that we just saw, which is, how do we deal or how do we accommodate employees that make a mistake? And if you create an environment that is so onerous where everyone's afraid to fail or afraid to make a mistake, that's going to be reflected in the delivery of your customer experience. Your customer experience is going to become very tepid, it's going to become very reserved, it's going to become very mechanical. And from a customer perspective, I'm not going to perceive that as being very authentic.
[John] I think that is the type of environment where people can fall and get helped up by the leadership. I think that they talked a little bit about top-down or whatever, but it's extending that hand from leadership to help pick people up, and making that a public statement can go a long way. And that is the takeaway that I got as well.
[Kurt] We all travel. So this one hits pretty close to home, I think
[John] It does. I can really resonate and feel the pain of this couple as they were traveling. Ironically, the guy's name is John, so that's another thing we got going for us. This is one of the biggest kinds of faux pas in my opinion because the airline while providing a bad experience was also wasting a bunch of money, right? This couple was communicating on three separate channels at the same time, and each of those channels had a different person trying to solve the same problem. That's pretty wasteful when it comes to the airline's dollars. And so it just fascinates me that not only is there a chance to provide a better experience, but there's also a chance for cost savings and to eliminate some of that spend in providing that better experience, right? So it's only a win-win for the airline if they can figure that out.
[Kurt] And I think, there's been a huge rush to omnichannel or multi-channel, and my guess is in this case, this airline is multi-channel, but not fully omnichannel, what that means, because they should have recognized that not only was this couple calling customer service, but they're also on Twitter. And by the time they got up to the desk, there should've been some recognition that just says, "Hey, I see that you're already talking to our customer call center. Here's what I can help you with,”. So, there's this unawareness that also is taking place and hence the dollars that are being spent needlessly.
[John] I want to hit on something and it's the difference between multi-channel and omnichannel and I feel like I've been talking about this for over a decade now. Because it’s still a challenge for folks that just because you can spin up a new channel, doesn't mean you should, right? And you have to be prepared to have that channel of communication integrated into your business in a way that provides coordination. Omni-channel is a little bit of a misnomer in some cases because what it really means is coordinated channels, and that you have that same information, that same repository, the same access to how those interactions are happening and the data about the consumer, no matter where they come into, right? And so I think that's an important distinction.
[Kurt] I really liked Ramon's comments regarding, he talked about kind of the six things, but one of them was empathy, right? And I know that agents working contact centers, especially in the airlines, when there's travel, weather delays, mechanical delays, they put up with people who are extremely frustrated, but empathy in these situations becomes so important in how people then perceive the brand. And at several conferences, I talk about an airline experience that I had and the lack of empathy was startling. Especially given we had an emergency situation that we needed to organize travel for. So I think all those things coming together are important. One, make sure you understand what are people doing with you, and in number two, in a crisis situation, in a hard situation, empathy becomes paramount in the experience.
[John] And I think to cap it all off, you can't just put somebody into that situation and say, "Good luck, be empathetic," right? Empathy is not just an innate trait. I think we can teach it. I think we can coach it. I think we can develop it in our staff that has to deal with these hard situations so that we're not just throwing them to the wolves because that creates churn and turnover and additional costs.
[Kurt] Hey John, do you like my shirt?
[John] It's one of my favorites, I'd say.
[Kurt] I wore this specifically for this session today.
[John] Well, that kind of foresight is why you make the big bucks.
[Kurt] So, this is a brand that I really enjoy and I think about the difference between an online shopping experience and an in-store experience, and where I bought this, the in-store experience is wonderful. If you think about experience, it's made up of your senses, and boy, it's a great site experience, it's a great kind of tactile experience, high-quality clothing. They always have some kind of candle or diffuser going and the people are extremely helpful and wonderful. But sometimes I go online as well, and I think where the online experience kind of falls apart is all about getting you directed to the product you're looking for as quickly as possible, and we kind of leave off all the other things about the in-store experience.
[John] Well, what's interesting about that is you do have these five experiences you can tap into, even with some stores doing taste in some form of fashion. And so you're able to control the environment a little bit more that you're bringing your customer into. And when you're going the other way in a digital experience, the consumer is sometimes in bed late at night on their phone shopping, sometimes on a computer, sometimes somewhere else. And so I think that brands need to understand a little bit more about the consumers, and how they're engaging with that brand digitally, and what they're looking for in that shopping experience.
To your point, maybe there is a time when you need to fast track somebody right to the product they're looking for because they know exactly what they want, and they're a repeat customer, and they just want more of it, and they want to get on with their day. Sometimes maybe it's a browsing experience and they want to understand how other people are engaging with this product, or what it does feel like, and how can you think about the understanding that you can glean from your customers and what they're doing when they're browsing digitally, and then incorporate that into the experience.
[Kurt] I think that speaks to the comment, when they said, "What percentage of online shoppers kind of abandoned if they can't find what they're looking for?" Well, what becomes the sole functional need is, "Can I find what I'm looking for? Yes or no?" It has nothing to do with kind of the rest of the experience. So I think you raised a good point, which is, how do you go about finding the product, which is kind of the ante on the table, how else do you create an experience for those online shoppers that's going to be positive and memorable so they'll be willing to talk about it?
[John] I think that that's the key, and it is grounded in that customer understanding, and you really do have to understand the customer in order to craft those experiences. And then it gets more complex because everything's digital. And so then you have to have the right orchestration and technology to provide that digital landscape that meets the vision around what you want to provide your consumers.