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Everything you wanted to know about great customer experience but were too afraid to ask

by Nina Brakel-Schutt, September 19, 2017

What is a great customer experience?

If you build it, they will come. It’s a catchphrase (no pun intended) from the ‘80s baseball movie “Field of Dreams. If you’re my age (old enough to have seen the movie in the theater, young enough to remember), you’ll never forget the dreamy look on Kevin Costner’s face as a whispery voice tells him, If you build it, he will come. The sentiment has since been modified to “they will come” and has a different connotation than constructing a baseball diamond in an Iowa cornfield. The trick is deciding what to build and who you want to come. This was the topic of Widen’s keynote presentation for the BMA Milwaukee Marketing Visionaries conference at the end of August.

As consumers, we have more information available to us today about any product or service, at any given moment than any time in the past — which means we have higher expectations from the brands we trust and even the ones we’re just getting to know. We want to be wooed with great experiences because as humans, we’re drawn to them.

So Widen started the morning by asking the audience what customer experience (CX) meant to them. They responded with answers like “memorable,” “trustworthy,” and “easy.” Which are all correct. Customer experience is about using your customer as the lens for everything you deliverfrom the moment they find you to the moment they start using your products and services and beyond. And that experience should be easy, memorable, and inspire trust.

No doubt, customer experience is a buzzword. But it’s not a trend. It’s simply hot now because you can analyze more about customers than ever before. Indeed, you can measure every web page visit, every email open, and every click. Today, a great CX is less about doting on the customer and more about understanding what they want from you in order to build a holistic experience for them as they interact with your business.

At Widen, we call ourselves a 69-year-old startup because we’ve had to think like one in order to evolve and stay competitive in a rapidly changing business climate and industry. Through the years, we’ve pretty much seen it all — growth and decline, leadership change, culture shaping, product evolution, and organizational restructure. Through it all, we’ve made our customers number one and it’s paid off in a unique, rich experience for the people we encounter all along the customer journey.

The things to remember from our keynote are below, but the takeaway that stands out most is not being afraid to fail. We’d never be the customer-centric company we are today if we hadn’t tried, failed, and tried some more.

Five things to remember about building a great CX:

  1. Customer centricity + your brand + useful products/services =  A GREAT CX.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of something new.
  3. Empower people to contribute to the success of your customers and your business.
  4. Map your customer journey and provide audiences with helpful content at every touchpoint along the way.
  5. Find the right mix of tools to support your customer journey and marketing strategy.

BONUS: Take a risk! (It can pay off tenfold.)

Contact us to get the full presentation. Just tell us that’s what you’re interested in.

We had a blast speaking about a topic we love. And we really enjoyed meeting the other speakers who shared their take on bringing the pieces of the CX puzzle together.

Technology, process, and people. What’s necessary for CX success?

According to Lou Friedman, CRO at Bento, and Kristen Wright, CMO at Cielo, marketers will need to be even more focused on aligning technologies across organizations and resisting the silo trap. You can’t have separate systems in separate areas of your business and expect to measure success in a consistent or reliable way.

Also, beware of technology creep! When you use tools because they’re free or just there, they start to creep across the entire company anyhow. Then it can be difficult to remove them from everyday work life. Your tools need to solve your customer’s problems in order to be an important piece to the organization. So, give them a proper evaluation before using them.

In terms of people, it’s important to know your team and who can take on new technology initiatives. Follow through is a common challenge when getting a system in place, so find someone who knows the tool and your culture, then let them champion the onboarding process and own it.

As Bill Furlong, senior advisor at B2B Marketing said, you need to continually recruit and train good people to support your technologies. Despite the hype out there today, the world and workforce will not be changed in every way by the expansion of artificial intelligence. You will always need good people to drive good process and provide the human touch necessary for a great CX.

The brand: to be or not to be

Authenticity and brand are critical to a successful CX. Some would even argue that the brand IS the CX.

Being who you are is the only way to drive customer engagement with the right people — the ones who value the same things you do. But you need to know who you are in order to be who you are. Your customers expect authenticity. They can smell an ingenuine experience from a mile away. So, make a brand promise you can keep and deliver on consistently through your people, culture, products, and services.

Analytics opportunities and challenges

And then there was the conversation about analytics with Mike Blyth of Aginity. Mike said companies fail on analytics because of three common issues:

  • Expense and speed
  • Inconsistency
  • Inability to react

So the entire crowd had a roundtable discussion about analytics challenges they face and the opportunities that could come out of those challenges. The group cited a myriad of problems with data, such as:

  • Collecting and visualizing data
  • Getting the premium data out of numerous data sources and simplifying it for your sales and marketing teams
  • Trusting the data you receive and using it to your advantage (good data vs. garbage data)
  • Knowing what data will create actionable outcomes
  • Telling a great story from your data in the right context for each audience
  • Keeping agile with data when you have to rely on IT to collect information for you
  • Creating personas based on perception vs. data
  • Knowing how much time to spend on analyzing data and connecting the dots
  • Managing data across different platforms to have one view
  • Getting sales teams to manually enter important data for customer follow up

And the opportunities discussed really played off the challenges. They included things like:

  • Aggregating data and making sense of it in systematic ways
  • Segmenting data and drawing business insight to make data actionable
  • Matching your analytics to the touchpoints along the customer journey
  • Devoting time to stay on top of all your data regularly

The biggest opportunity, however, was unanimous: Learn who your customers are and use that knowledge as a guide for the data you collect and analyze. Then customize the messages you send buyers and customers to get a better return on your marketing and sales efforts, which leads to a better experience overall!

In the end, your customer should be at the center of your business because they’re the best compass for future success. Get out there and talk to them, take them to dinner, ask them what they want and need from you, and watch your business and culture prosper.

Want to learn more about how customer experience, technology, and data can move your business forward? It’s our favorite conversation, so contact us anytime!

Topics: Customer Experience

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