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Experience Points featuring Matt Kazam

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 Matt Kazam. In this episode, Kurt and John discuss loyalty marketing and viewing customers as fans, empathy in your CX, and reviews can interact with your organization and strategy.

Fake or Fact

[John] I think this is interesting. Some of the points that he made at the end were particularly salient for me around, like, you can't advertise, "Come lose your money." It's an industry where you can't say, "Hey, we're going to take your money from you." Right? So, thinking about how you pivot and focus on the experience at each stage of the journey, such that even when people have walked away losing money, they still want to come back, is kind of a fascinating paradigm.

[Kurt] You know, what I thought was interesting about this is, as an industry, we've created this concept of loyalty marketing, but I would kind of challenge our listeners to think about, is it loyalty marketing, or is it really transaction marketing?

In other words, just because I'm spending a lot of money with you, does that really indicate loyalty? Loyalty is an emotion. And we have different loyalty programs that, you know, your SkyMiles are really a rewards program versus loyalty. I think we need to make sure that we don't confuse the difference between rewarding behavior, with the emotional connection that loyalty really is. And make sure we understand, how do we reward both?

[John] Yeah, I think that ties in really well with the previous example they talked about with wrestling. It sounds hokey, but what if we transitioned our thinking about customers, and we just called them, "Fans," no matter what business we were in? And we're talking about how we serve our fan base, right? Because that has a different connotation in terms of their perception of you as a brand because it carries that connotation that there's some affinity there beyond the transaction, as you say.

[Kurt] Well, I think that's really interesting, back in the early '90s, there was a book written called Raving Fans, and it was, expressly to your point, about, how do we turn our customers into raving fans? And raving fans that no matter what you do, man, they're going to buy it.

That speaks to when you look at engagement. Fans engage, they engage in the event, they engage with the brand in a much deeper way than just transactions. To me, transactions end up being the ante on the table, and then what do you need to do to accelerate that?

[John] Yeah, I think that's fascinating. I think what you spoke to is the need to think about curated experiences around the product or service that you're delivering. In order to go beyond transactional and into a true loyalty scenario there has to be an experience around it that they can get attracted to, and then associate that experience to the brand itself.

I think the word that I wrote down here that they used is, "Special." Does this make me feel special? So, what things can you do in your business? And it takes focused thought. If you're just focused on delivering the status quo every day, you're not going to kind of take that next leap into loyalty.

[Kurt] What I really liked was the idea that they took the example of the baseball cards. They did the analogous model research where they said, "Who else has fans? Who else has people that follow them, that has individuals that you would want stats on?" And they moved it over into the WWE environment, and it became their second best seller. So I think the idea that says, "Where are there adjacencies” in what perhaps may not seemingly apply, but because it's going after a marketplace that has such a strong customer engagement, that it's going to work.

What Happened?

[Kurt] Well, they had me at the word empathy.

[John] Same. I'm there.

[Kurt] But I think it's really true, in the story they gave, there was some level of empathy. Gosh, you got the wrong piece of equipment, so I've got it in my truck... It was nice that the problem got fixed right away

But I think it's so true, that if you're going to design and orchestrate a memorable experience, it's not so much meeting the functional need. It's also meeting the emotional need, and you can only do that if you have deep empathy, and really understand the consumer, or the member, or the constituent's point of view.

[John] Yeah, and he said that in a number of ways. He touched on all aspects of the design orchestration spectrum that we talk about a lot. But to your point, they said, the problem's going to be the problem. It's how you come at it. I think there's a fascinating concept of the customer leading the torch for other customers to follow them. And them not wanting other people to have that same example. So there's a lot there, but the empathy thing really got me thinking in the context of what he was talking about.

One of the things that I wanted you to talk through is, in the consulting that we do and the work that we do with our clients, how do we start to elevate their understanding of these experiences that are going to cause problems later. Because one of the key things there is to: Make it an issue. Let's deal with it upfront through either transparent communication or additional options for the customer so that it doesn't necessarily become this bigger issue later on. How do we identify some of those points in the work we do with our clients?

[Kurt] Yeah, so we do that in a couple of ways. One way, and it's not that exciting, but it works, which is to do root cause analysis. And so, once we've done the journey mapping, and we understand the pain points and the moments that matter, we look at those pain points and we say, "Okay, well, is it a pain point at that instance for a particular reason? Or what's the root cause of that pain point?"

And we go through, and we'll do the five why's until we're able to go all the way back to what is really causing that less than desirable experience or that pain point in that journey? And try to fix it at the root cause, not at the symptom. Because too many organizations will deal with the symptom and they'll try to fix the symptom versus really understanding the root cause.

Sometimes the root cause is related to measurements that are put on the organization, that because those are the key indicators, it's creating behavior on the part of team members that creates a poor experience. And so, really diving deep into the root cause is a very helpful methodology and approach to remedying some of those downstream issues.

[John] Well, I'll end on that point. Because one of the things that I think is tucked in what you just said, is this need that we continue to hit on because I continue to see it confused in the marketplace, is that customer experience is much broader than one department. It is all of it, in aggregate.

Think Fast

[Kurt] Reviews are an important piece of input these days and more and more organizations are getting systematic about how they collect, process, analyze, and then respond to reviews. So in fact, I would argue that especially on Amazon, I mean, think about our own personal behavior. Reviews are some of the first things that I look at. The first thing that I sort on, I don't want to look at a hundred items. I only want to look at the 10 that have five-star reviews.

[John] Yeah. And then I also look at the ones that have two and one-star reviews to see if their complaints are legitimate. Because getting that full view of what you're purchasing in a digital world, is the desire, right? The desire isn't to do what other people are doing or to have a perfect product or service, the desire is to use the digital means to have a more full understanding of the experience itself.

I think that's an interesting component to reviews that I’ve noticed personally is that it's not about the product or the service itself. A lot of times it's to a point that's like, the line was too long or the bathroom is too far away or the mail didn't deliver on time.

To be honest Kurt, I think they're just going to be more and more prevalent, right? The ability and the platforms that are available to collect and solicit instantaneous feedback are just more and more prevalent. I think that you have to be purposeful with what you're doing with the data and how you analyze it.

[Kurt] Well, and also don't be afraid to engage. We've seen multiple stories about this, where you'll see people posting a review on Facebook or on Google and the companies respond and that's important. It's important to respond in a way that recognizes the problem that was caused and offer a solution to it.

And to be able to step up, I don't think people expect perfection, but I do think people expect some level of recognition of what the issue is. So what I find interesting as I consume different reviews and look at different things, are the review where companies are saying “my gosh, that is not our intent, here's our number, call us, let's see how we can remedy this for you in a meaningful way” versus the ones where just reviews have been made.

I've always been a big fan of the true test of an organization is not when things are going well, but when things don't go so well, how do you respond to it. And respond in such a way that you're actually creating a customer for life.

[John] I think that's right. That's where that backend data really does come in handy. And he talked about, in terms of, changing your offering and changing the experience based on the qualitative data that you do get from reviews because that is powerful. People are telling you not only what went wrong, but oftentimes they'll tell you directly what they would prefer and then you can use that and then test it against the rest of the customer base to see if that's true or not and evolve along with your customers because your customers are always evolving based on the reviews.

[Kurt] In addition, and I think this is particularly true. There're many brands that have people that are dedicated, they're trained, they're equipped to respond to and engage with customers and do it in a way that promotes the brand voice. I think that's important. Don't just react defensively. And so there is a whole lot that goes into the training that goes into that, which is extremely important for organizations to understand because it's easy to be defensive. It's harder to accept that criticism, fix it in an earnest genuine authentic way, and then move on and correct it.