Customer experience (CX) is everywhere. Forget the outdated notion that it’s only about customer service. It now stretches across every touchpoint and expectations are high. And that means that marketing is being tasked with more aspects of CX all the time.
Here’s a recent chat we had with Jeannie Walters, CEO and Founder of Experience Investigators. CX is in her DNA and she wants to show you how it can be in yours too.
I love that your mission is to create fewer ruined days for customers. Can you tell me more about that and what it means?
It came about when I started doing this work in customer experience more than 20 years ago. When I would say “customer experience”, people would look at me like what is that? Or they thought it was a buzzword. So, when I started this company in 2009, I thought you know what – we’re all customers in our daily lives.
There’s just no way around that in our modern world, and so every single time we interact as customers, we have certain expectations and we’re trying to achieve a goal. We’re trying to feel something. We’re trying to do something for somebody else.
When things don’t go right in those moments, they add up to making a worse day than we could have had. And what I realized was, if we can prevent those moments, we can create moments that work for customers. At that point, we’re not just creating a better experience for them, we’re giving them a better day.
My bigger mission is about creating a better world by creating better days for people. It’s not just about customers, it’s about serving people. That’s what makes me so passionate about it.
You often say customers are going to have an experience with you no matter what, so you better pay attention. Could you elaborate on that?
I’ve got news for you: your customers are already experiencing your brand and having a customer experience.
The formula that I use for customer experience is perception minus expectation multiplied by emotion. What I mean by that is we have an expectation of what’s going to happen and whether or not that is lived up to, or exceeded, or not met. That’s what ultimately creates our perception. Are they reliable? Are they friendly? Are they dependable? Plus, we also bring our own emotions into the space because humans are very emotional creatures. So, when you look at that and you try to figure out that formula, it can be a little daunting because it can feel like either, oh, that’s common sense, right? Just be nice to customers. That’s all. But, when you’re talking about what happens inside your organization, you’re talking about customer experience management, and you’re talking about being proactive and intentional about the kind of customer experience you want to deliver so that you can design it.
That’s what happens with the brands that do this well. They’re very intentional about how they manage and design customer experience.
You’ve said that the real trick is to have a cross-functional customer experience team. What makes up an optimal team in your eyes?
This is such a great and hard question because it can be so different from organization to organization. But what tends to happen is, sometimes there are organizations that are lucky enough to have a Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer, somebody who’s really in charge. But oftentimes that is not the case.
And a lot of times, you default to measuring feedback metrics, so things like, our customer satisfaction rate went up or down this month, and it’s reported out and everybody says good job, you’re doing customer experience. However, customer experiences are about every single touch point that a person has with your organization. And I say “person” very intentionally because the other thing I hear is, well, we’re B2B, so this doesn’t really count, but last I checked, businesses are still made up of people and they are still the ones making decisions.
We all have to connect on that level throughout the entire journey from when they first become aware of your brand all the way through to when they leave you, or even better yet, when they stay with you forever and refer all their friends. When you’re looking at how to put a team together, you need to think about who has influence and accountability over the parts of the journey.
Can marketers and teams on a tight budget still improve their customer experience?
Yes, I love this question because I have yet to meet that organization that’s like we have unlimited resources for this, so do whatever you want. Everybody can do something and the one thing that I recommend first is creating a customer experience mission statement. If you can get people to internalize what is the promise that we’ve made no matter where somebody is on the journey, and if you can get every single person in your organization to understand that they have a role here, it’s not just about customer facing roles. If you can get everybody to understand that our job is to show up a certain way for the customer, then that makes everybody aware so that you start seeing changes within your organization.
I think that if if you talk about the brands of the last 20 years who had been the disruptors, they’ve all been based on experience. Every single one of them.
And if you look at your own industry and you think, well, we’re in this old industry, nobody is going to disrupt us. I always say be your own disruptor, because if you can look at things with this experience lens, you will see things that do not make sense in your organization. For your customers, you will start hearing feedback differently and start realizing that there are small changes you can make that really improve the experience for your customers, and that’s what makes them more loyal. That’s what makes them tell other people. That’s what makes your employees happier.
Your session at the B2B forum is called Three Universal Truths about Customer Experience. What do you hope marketers who attend your session walk away with?
Well, I think part of it is understanding exactly what we’re talking about. Like how do you understand your customers’ real life and what does that mean on an ongoing basis? If we can tap into that, we can start really moving things forward in a way that is meaningful.
The world is very unpredictable right now and the best thing we can do is stay connected to our customers. So, my hope is that anybody who attends walks away with tools so they can stay connected to their customers in a way that’s meaningful. We can’t just do this to be nice to customers, we must understand how to prioritize and that ties back to what are our goals and how do we tie those into the efforts that we put into customer experience so that we see ROI and that all goes together.
I’m excited because it’s about making meaning out of all of this, and that’s what I’m so passionate about, and I think that’s what marketers in general are passionate about.
Where can folks follow you?
You can find me at experiencedinvestigators.com and on LinkedIn and Twitter @JeannieCW.