The Experience Points Blog: Rohit Bhargava
by Aaron Mosby
Avtex Chief Experience Officer, Kurt Schroeder sat down with VP of Marketing, John Seeds to discuss key takeaways, and share what stood out about how to create exceptional experiences for customers. In this episode, Kurt and John discuss sticking to your brand promise, the power of moments, and the different interactions that play into your experience.
[John] This is a fascinating topic, especially because we're geographically distant, as in we are in different areas of the United States. I always love traveling to Minnesota, where we're headquartered, mainly because I get to experience all the different types of wild rice that you try to put into my food and the weird Caribou coffee that you guys prefer up there.
Even in the United States, there are some differences but I think the interesting thing that's highlighted here because it's a concrete example of geographic separation creating different preferences. But it's the preference piece that's really important to determining the experience. What are some other things that companies need to consider when thinking about this holistically?
[Kurt] Not only do different areas of the world have nuances to how you want to render an experience and specifically what their expectations are. But also what they deem, quite frankly, as acceptable and unacceptable. All of that even translates back into the US. And that's why with a lot of the customer experience work we do, we always take a look at personas because even things like life stage represent a change. It's really important for organizations, whether it's globally or locally, to understand the nuances between the different customer sets that they’re designing the experience around.
I think that's what this highlighted, but it doesn't mean that you abandon your brand promise. The story about McDonald's ... Oh and by the way, I've been to a McDonald's in Moscow.
[John] Yeah? How was that burger?
[Kurt] They kept to their brand promise. There are some nuances around the taste that I think are aligned with the Russian palette if you will. But they delivered on their promise. It was quick, the quality was consistent and the whole brand experience was very similar to what you'd receive in the United States. But there are some regional nuances so they take that into consideration and still deliver on the brand promise. I think that's important for organizations to understand. It doesn't need to be the same experience but it does need to be an equal experience if that makes sense.
[John] That takes me back to my experience traveling the world and even traveling in my town with Coca-Cola products. You get Coke out of a bottle, it tastes very different than Coke from McDonald's, where I will add that my mom swears that the Diet Coke's from McDonald's is the best tasting Diet Coke. And that differs from what you're going to get in Mexico or Europe but it still has that Coca-Cola taste and feel, even though there are these little nuances that make it a little bit unique and almost add to the experience of the brand perception there.
[Kurt] I think the message here is really understanding what your brand promise is about and then be able to accommodate the delivery of that brand promise through the experience design that you make based on the nuances and preferences within the cultures or personas that you're dealing with. Don't be so rigid that you're not able to do that well.
[Kurt] One of the things, I want to talk about is the power of moments. They created a moment for this guy by sending him the book and he even said it: it was like Christmas. Christmas is a moment that only comes once a year, so it really speaks to how powerful creating a moment for a customer is. And then the referral cascade, and especially since we live in a very, what I would call it, participative economy. Where people are doing reviews or talking about it on the blogs, It doesn't take long, and that moment gets spread to 1000 people or 10,000 people extremely quickly.
[John] I've taken a personal look at this. I'm hypercritical of things, working for a CX firm, right? I'm always thinking about and analyzing my own behaviors as I go out and interact with the brands that I do business with, both on a business and personal level. Because of the dissociated way that we're viewing content now. It's not you sit down and you have commercials on TV all the time. It's a bunch of different media. And so I'm not necessarily currently inundated with advertising.
I've got multiple kids and it’s come in more force recently that I don’t see a lot of parental advertising. Most of my purchases, are on my kids, but those are coming through discussions with other parents, right? The impact these moments have on parents is really coming through in ways that are visceral from the standpoint of “You have to buy this. You guys have to go look at this, I found this awesome thing. And I'm also hearing not just that the thing is awesome, but I had this problem and these guys went above and beyond, they did this really cool thing for me.”So those experiences are shining through as well and that can tell you if a brand is going to be good to do business with or not.
[Kurt] I think that the challenge for organizations is to have a little faith that referrals. And that the basis of net promoter score, would you refer a family or friend, actually works. Organizations do need to trust the research. They do need to trust the history behind when you're able to drive referrals there is an impact on your top-line revenue, and there's an impact on your bottom line operating income. But it's a little bit of a leap of faith, you have to trust that. And it's clearly not as simple as running a spreadsheet to see how much it costs sending out a book.
[John] That is the hard part. But we go back to one of the studies that we cite when we're talking to customers a lot about the ROI of CX. And the folks that are in Forrester's CX leader quadrant are outperforming the S&P 500. And the laggards are hundreds of points behind, right? So there is a return on that. But you're right, it is a little bit of a leap of faith there because you can't control how a customer can go out and evangelize your brand.
For this guy specifically, he's got a blog. And he's got a bigger voice than maybe just you talking to your neighbor, but you don't know that when you're sending the book, right? You don't know what that following is. And so it's the act itself and the purposeful dedication to creating an above and beyond experience to value that one customer.
[Kurt] There was one other thing that they brought up in their discussion that I thought was interesting, which was this idea of where are you putting your emphasis and your resources? Are you putting it on acquiring new customers because you think that’s equal to growth? Or are you putting your dollars on retention as well? I don't think it's an either-or. But I do think the emphasis on retention becomes important. And not only retention but turning them into raving fans.
And here's the interesting thing that you're going to see in the next two to three years, is a pretty seismic shift taking place in contact centers. Because the confluence of technologies and how they integrate are really going to take a lot of the burden off the contact center agent. Which is going to shift their responsibilities from being, and answering transactional questions to really becoming relationship managers or relationship liaisons to the customer on behalf of the company.
[John] I think that speaks to something we talk about a lot at Avtex right? Is that the technology itself isn't the answer. The design of what you're trying to put in place isn't the answer. But It's the merger of those two that continue to enable each other along the way to success and future-proofing, and building for the future of what these experiences can and should be, like you said, in this participation type of economy.
[John] So this is fascinating. And it's something that we all deal with, even if we just scroll to the bottom and skip it. But T's [Terms], and C's [Conditions] are something that we don't necessarily immediately say, "Yeah, that's an experience." But it is part of our interaction with the brand. And so I think that it's an interesting case study for how to understand and dissect some of these interactions with a brand.
[Kurt] I think it's a reflection that number one, the world is ruled by lawyers. And I understand that lawyers exist for a really good reason, to protect the organization, and protect us. But they could, if they wanted to, write this in human language so people can understand. I thought the example of USAA was interesting. USAA is extremely well known for being accommodating to its members. They have done some good work around making sure that these documents that are needed, are written in a way that people can understand.
And I think that's, to your point, all a part of the experience. And if we don't think it is, if we think we have a great experience and then we ask the customer to sign a five-page document where the sentences are 40 words long, and you need an advanced degree to read it and understand it, then that's a problem because that's part of the experience as well.
[John] I think that there's a key point there that you hit on in a different context, but one of the things they also call out is asking the customer. If you're asking the customer to sign this, have you had any communication with them before about what their reaction to this type of information will be or anything else that you're doing from a business standpoint?
[Kurt] I'm a huge fan of research. I think not only just in terms of asking them how they interpret these documents, but also asking them what they think about the experience, and doing good qualitative, quantitative, and ethnographic research. We talk about that with our clients all the time when we organize and structure our research work. Too many organizations just kind of guess or think they know what the experience is like, but boy, go out and ask the customers. Talk to them. You'll find out really quickly what they like about the experience and what they don't like. You'll find out whether they can read that document, whether they care about that document or if it's just confusing to them.
And by the way, that document is also a reflection of your brand. So if your brand promise is supposed to be around being accommodating, being there for your members, being there for your customers, and then you roll out the 30-page document that no one can read... That goes against the brand promise you're actually trying to deliver with the rest of your experiences.
[John] Then their response is "Okay, well, great. We want to change the document. Whose responsibility is that?" I think that this is where I get a little bit passionate when I talk about CX because sometimes a lot of people try and pigeonhole customer experience into one part of the journey, either customer service or the digital experience, or the contact center. What we really need to understand and grasp as businesses is that it's everything. It's the sum total perception of your brand based on all of the aggregate points along the way.
From that perspective, there needs to be a partnership either with an internal customer experience team or a partner like Avtex where every department is collaborating with these CX experts so they can then go utilize that expertise to, as you said, talk to the customer, bring them into the business more, and bring them into the conversations about how they're going to feel about some of these different things and take advantage of that.
[Kurt] I think that's true because, if you really want to understand what your CX North Star is, and you want that to permeate through every touchpoint, you have to ask questions. Once you've defined your North star, what do we want to be known for in our experiences? How does that come alive in our legal documents? How does it come alive when we talk to people on the phone? I think sometimes, to your point, that deployment of the North Star of what do we want to be known for, of the overall CX strategy gets somewhat parochial in certain functions versus others. And it really is everything. And I think that's the key message here. They're using legal documents as a proxy to say, even in the legal documents, you need to deliver on your CX North star.