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Experience Points featuring speaker, skilled facilitator, and marketing expert, Rohit Bhargava

Avtex Chief Experience Officer, Kurt Schroeder sat down with Aaron Mosby, our Director of Federal Business Development, to discuss our latest Experience Points episode and share their key CX takeaways. In this episode, Kurt and Aaron discuss creativity in regulated industries, brand adversaries, and preferred communication methods for customers.

Fake or Fact

[Kurt] This episode shows you how fluid the advertising space is, in terms of brands trying to be creative and represent themselves, and getting the message across that they want to. I thought one of the things that was interesting was towards the end of their discussion they talked about authenticity. And my guess is that's probably what threw Rohit off a little bit.

But authenticity is important, not only from the time you consume a message but from the time that you have any kind of interaction with that organization. They have to be authentic to their brand and their brand promise and the messaging that they're conveying about what kind of experience you're going to have.

[Aaron] Absolutely. I work within our Federal business area, a very regulated industry, and when you are providing a public service or a public good, you don't have a lot of space for creativity. But you do have quite a bit of space for authenticity. And I think a lot of brands and organizations leave some of that on the table. I think there's an opportunity to say, “Hey this is who we are and this is what we do. It might not be the most creative, sexy thing you've ever seen, but you can guarantee that when you have an experience with us, we're going to connect the dots.”

[Kurt] So that's interesting that you bring that up in terms of regulated industry. In those spaces, there're certain things that have to be counter to the brand promise that they have to convey into the market. So you talked about being creative around that. Tell me a little bit more about that, I find that really fascinating.

[Aaron] So say you are a government agency that's looking to increase the number of people who are applying for a grant program. You may want to go out and have a clever marketing campaign around that. But in reality, Congress has said, “You guys are going to provide this grant funding and you need to make it available to these constituencies.” And the process has to go like this because it's prescribed in a regulation that you have to follow. So you may want to hire someone to come in and help you have a clever outreach but in the reality, you’re going to be somewhat boxed in by the regulation itself.

[Kurt] Interesting. I know that they were talking about the role marketing plays in this. I read a stat not too long ago that talked about in 2021 - the year coming up that I hope isn't as much of a dumpster fire as 2020 - and they were estimating that marketing departments will spend more on CX than they will on ad placements in media. I think it’s interesting that marketing, which has traditionally been about image awareness, brand structure, and brand personality, is now leaking into the CX space. That really has the potential to create a continuity of experience, from the time that I am aware of your brand to the time that I'm interacting with your brand as well.

[Aaron] One thing that I’m interested in is when you're talking to organizations, how important is it for their CX leaders to be coordinating with marketing or any other part of the business, as they think about CX challenges?

[Kurt] That’s a really good question. As a CXO those are conversations that I have with my peers, that is starting to be more and more prevalent. There is a large discussion going on about when you look at the entirety of a consumer or customer journey it all starts with the consumption of something that was probably put out by marketing. So syncing up that content to what the experience is actually going to be, is extremely important.

What Happened?

[Kurt] What they're highlighting in this discussion was exactly what Joseph Pine was writing about when he wrote the book called The Experience Economy; how this thing called the experience economy is really the movement of people from this passive consumption of goods and services to this idea of active participation in the economy. And what they're talking about in this episode is active participation. The idea that just says not only do I buy a product, but I also talk about the product, I Yelp about the product, I tweet about the product, I Facebook about the product, etc. And if it's a bad experience, I might just be a little bit of a dog with a bone and just go after that bad experience.

[Aaron] Yeah, exactly. The term that they use in their discussion was "brand hater" and that could be someone quietly simmering, but I really feel like these people are "brand adversaries", right? People who are geared up with weapons of social media and looking for every opportunity to take this brand down. And it feels like there's more energy there, as opposed to a "brand advocate" who wants to tell you about a great experience they had.

[Kurt] Yeah, so it is interesting. I think a couple of things. One, if consumers had a bad experience, there was some stats that basically said 95% of them just go away quietly. I think that's shifting. I don't think people go away quietly anymore. Two, I think more and more people are out really advocating, as you said, being a brand adversary, or quite frankly, a brand promoter.

I know you have a couple of million followers on Twitter. I don't. So at best I might influence three people. But if you think about the whole world we live in - and I'll throw cards on the table, and show my age - I don't get the whole “I'm an influencer and I'm getting paid for it” thing. There is now a role in social media specifically to influence people's choices. I find that amazing, right? So can talk about how people are participating in the economy, not just consuming. Any other takeaways for you?

[Aaron] Well that you can actually get good service in New York but New York has a very short window of patience. Businesses close every day here.

[Kurt] And that promotional ad for New York is brought to you by Experience Points.

Think Fast

[Kurt] This was all about texting and preferred communication methods. What does that mean to you?

[Aaron] I think about our clients, and the technology partners that we work with to provide an incredible suite of products that are baked in. We know that from a technology perspective, what you need in order to interact with customers, but our clients typically don't have an understanding of the full stack of tools that they have at their disposal. I think that's the piece where a lot of people think they have to get their checkbook out again, when you’ve already paid for it. How about unlocking the value that you have there?

One of the things that I'm interested in is where do you start with helping clients understand how to weave that huge stack of technology into their CX?

[Kurt] I think it all starts with working from the customer back to what you want the experience to be. Also, what do your customers want the experience to be? And if they prefer certain channels of communication, you're really compelled to make sure that you can provide that.

I do think the move to texting and the desire for that is fueled by how poor of an experience we sometimes have when we call in. The amount of time it takes me to text a message versus call may point to a better use of my time. Consumers are motivated by wanting to respect their own time, and they're expecting you to do that as well. So that's why we're headed in that direction.

[Aaron] Some of these roadblocks that you're talking about are because of the way the organization has decided to organize their touchpoints with customers, and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts around how should we be organizing ourselves around those customer touchpoints?

[Kurt] That’s a really good question. I think your point is really around function. We have our texting function, and that’s supported by a group of people that are really good at texting and replying quickly and then our social media response group, and the list goes on. I'm a big fan of organizing around the customer segment, then you have a team that's solely focused on your best customers, and the things that we talked about are just the competencies that exist within that organizational structure.

I'd like to see us move towards more of an organizational structure that is organized around the customer segments and then making sure that you're providing them a distinct customer experience through that organization. Not trying to straddle the customer experience across a bunch of different functions.

[Aaron] Right. Not a technology-focused approach, but a customer-focused approach that uses the right technology for this group of customers. As opposed to you're the text guy, so every text message you're going to respond to, right?

[Kurt] Yeah. I think that's exactly right, and that's why organizations who have an outside-in approach versus an inside out approach are the ones that are going to win in this customer experience economy.