How proactive are you about providing content to your customers to help them along their journey?
Jeannie Walters, Founder and CEO of Experience Investigators, calls content the unsung hero of CX. Jeannie says organizations can create positive micro-moments throughout the customer journey by offering up the knowledge they need, before they have to look for it.
Listen in to learn how to properly use content to empower customers.
- Why CX isn’t just about delivering great experiences for customers, it’s an overarching, winning business strategy
- How to predict the next step in your customer’s journey so you can provide the content needed to move them forward
- What it means to create positive micro-moments for your customers to build trust
[02:21] What inspired Jeannie’s passion for CX
[04:37] Common misconceptions around CX in B2B
[07:06] How Jeannie defines customer experience
[09:52] Adding meaningful micro-moments to self-service
[13:48] Using content to empower customers
[17:07] Building a proactive self-service strategy
[20:37] The impact of employee experience on CX
We design all these self-service journeys that look so good on paper, and we never take the time to think, okay, if something goes wrong at any of these touchpoints, what is the customer supposed to do? And what is the information we're giving them? And if the information is simply error and they're stuck, that's a negative touchpoint.
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Odds are your customers are going to run into an issue at some point during their journey. Nothing's perfect. And since we know that, why not be proactive about making even a problematic part of their experience as positive as possible. I'm Shannon Katschilo, your host for Flourish CX. In this episode, I'm joined by Jeannie Walters, founder and CEO of Experience Investigators. Jeannie reminds us that it takes a whopping 12 good experiences to overcome a negative one. She says, "Companies need to be constantly making deposits in their customer's emotional banks so when a withdrawal is made, there's still enough trust left to keep moving forward." Jeannie and I discuss how to create positive micro moments in places in the journey that are typically overlooked, whether it be a humorous error page or prompting customers with content that can help solve their problems. As you listen, ask yourself what micro moments could you be creating to delight your customers?
Jeannie, as we get started, can you tell us a little bit about Customer Experience Investigators and some of your guiding methodologies?
I am founder and CEO of a company called Experience Investigators. And essentially our mission is to create fewer ruined days for customers. And the way we do that is by empowering leaders to really think about customer experience as a strategy. It's a winning strategy for business. It's not just about delivering great experiences for customers. So we do that through lots of education, training, workshops, videos, all those things, as well as advisory programs, where we walk side by side with leaders to really help them create a mission and a strategy. And then also how to implement that.
Wonderful, thank you for sharing. And what led you to start and be CEO of this company. Any background that really led to a passion around CX?
The story that I always come back to is thinking about when I was working in a different capacity, in a more traditional marketing communications capacity. And I was in a room where we were talking about launching the very first online insurance quoting and purchase, which seems so natural now, but it was a big deal back then. And I was looking around the table thinking nobody is really here representing the customer. And it was the first time that we didn't have brokers or agents or people in the middle of that experience. It was the first time we were going to have that direct communication between a brand and a customer. And so it really kind of was an aha moment of figuring out what somebody needs to advocate for customers in this, because it's too easy to stay in our internal view and focus on our internal processes. And none of us as business people, frankly, are trained to think this way.
And so if you look at a traditional business plan, it's all about acquisition, it's all about how do you get those people in the door? And then you turn the page, and it's all internally focused, it's all about operations and process. And so that was really the start of this passion and then finding kind of the industry and finding just how many leaders are wanting to do the right thing and don't have the right tools and resources. So I started this business in 2009 and it's been really encouraging how more and more people are really understanding how important customer experience really is.
You brought up that most people are business mind and not thinking about what the customer is going through, but in our daily lives, like we are all customers. And what I found really interesting is the CX maturity gap between the B2B and the B2C organizations. And I think we're seeing throughout the years and with thought leaders such as yourself, the advancement in that. And definitely with our listeners, there is greater focus on the B2B world, and how do we increase CX? Would love to hear from you any common misconceptions about CX and B2B. And if you don't mind kind of touching on the state of CX and B2B in general. Would love to hear your thoughts.
I think it's so important because a lot of times when I talk to maybe a large audience or I'm at a conference or something, I always have people come up to me and say, "Customer experience is great and what you said resonated with me, but we're B2B, we're so different." And they really think that they are not accountable in some ways, for the same expectations that we have in our daily lives as customers. And I disagree with that. I think that everybody, no matter if you're B2B, or B2C, or nonprofit, or government or whomever you are, you're trying to do something when you're having a customer experience, you're trying to achieve a goal. You're trying to feel something, you are trying to deliver on someone else, sometimes you're trying to get something for someone else. So you're trying to kind of live your life. It's not, if you are filling out a form, if you're a business person or you are a patient in a doctor's office, that experience should still be as seamless and effortless as possible.
And I think for a long time within B2B organizations, I hear things like, "Oh, we've been around for 150 years. We don't have to change." Or they are convinced that they are basically the only option for their customers. And so they don't really invest in customer experience. Or they talk about their customers as if they're these big faceless entities. And really those companies, those brands, those organizations, all have people who are trying to get things done. And so the more that we can focus our lens on that person, the more we can relate to what's actually happening in B2B, and the more urgent it becomes, because I do think we've given ourselves a lot of excuses in B2B of why we don't have to provide the same experience. But customers are asking for it, they're expecting it, they see it happening in their daily lives. So why isn't it happening in B2B? So I think we still have a ways to go, but I am seeing some encouragement in the way B2B leaders are approaching this now.
One of my favorite questions to ask on this podcast is how you define customer experience, CX? Because it can be very different and it's an emerging focus, definitely. So would love to hear how you define it.
Well, I think it's important to make a distinction between the customer experience and what happens inside an organization to provide a customer experience. So when we're talking about customer experience in general, we're really talking about what is the experience that a customer has end to end with a brand, meaning the minute they become aware, the minute they walk by a building, or see an advertisement, or anything all the way through to if they purchase, if they are in a subscription model and they have to renew any of those touchpoints. Even how things are done when they receive their bill, how is payment handled all of those touchpoints end to end, all the way through to when they're with you forever and they're singing your praises, or they leave you and they're telling everybody never to go to your brand. So that's customer experience. But when you look inside the organization and you talk about CX, we're really talking about customer experience strategy and management.
So for instance, when we talk about doing CX or people say they want to run a CX program, that's about doing everything we can to be proactive in providing a positive customer experience. So that includes every part of the organization, that includes making sure that when somebody calls in for customer support, it's as seamless and wonderful as it can be. But it also means that when they receive a bill, when they are walking into a building, anything like that, that's been proactively planned. That's thoughtful, it's designed. And I think when we look at it that way, suddenly it becomes more about running the business instead of this magic that we treat it. And I've seen so many leaders who get really upset and they say, "This is common sense. This is just common sense. Why don't people get this?"
But they've literally just said to people deliver a great customer experience. And then they also say to them, by the way, meet your sales quota every quarter. And if that means ignoring your current customers, then cool, because that's what you're measured on. And they also say things like we have to be as efficient as possible. And people take that to the nth degree and leave customers in the dust. So we give all these mixed signals and we really need to define what is success? What does success look like here in this organization for both our customers and the experience we deliver, and also the results that we're going for? What are we focused on? And that's where we have to marry things in that customer experience: strategy and management.
One of the things that you've spoken about that I'm really interested to hear more about is the role of micro moments. What do you think companies can be doing to add more meaningful micro moments in that self-service B2B experience?
I like to remember that in any relationship we have, it takes 12 positive experiences to overcome 1 negative one. And so when you're in a relationship with a customer, the same thing is true. And the elite brands, the ones who do this really well, they actually deliver 22 positive experiences for every 1 negative one. And what that tells you is we have to look for ways to invest in enough positive moments so that people feel better when things go wrong, because they will. Not everything is going to be perfect. So we have to put what I call deposits in the emotional bank. We have to make sure that we have enough positivity in there so that when they have that withdrawal, there's enough there that they trust us to move forward.
So micro moments are an opportunity to really look for places in the journey that are typically neglected or overlooked. And if you can crank up the volume on the positivity, just a little bit, on these, not very important necessarily. These aren't the moments where people will say, "Oh my gosh, I'm never going to do business with you again" and storm out. But they're the types of things that if you neglect or overlook, they can chip away at that trust that we have with customers. So that eventually there can be a breaking point, or if you flip the script and look for ways to be positive, they actually put those deposits into that emotional bank with the customer. So B2B is so full of opportunity here because we hear what people say, we hear when they say, "Oh my gosh, I tried to do something on the mobile app. And it was so slow. It didn't do this. It didn't do that." Or they say, "Yeah, it's fine. It serves its purpose, but I find myself wanting to call so and so, because that's going to be faster."
When we hear signals like that, that's a good opportunity to look at, okay, how can we make the self-service experience that much better, just a little bit better. You can also do this with things like humor. You can do this with things like humanity. So one of the things I always look for is we design these beautiful programs, we design all these self-service journeys that look so good on paper, and we never take the time to think, okay, if something goes wrong at any of these touchpoints, what is the customer supposed to do? And what is the information we're giving them? And if the information is simply error and they're stuck, that's a negative touchpoint.
But if we give them information of how to move forward or, hey, we see you're having trouble or using humor, there are a couple of 404 pages that have become viral simply because they're funny. So I think we can really work on that in B2B and look for those opportunities so that we're responding to the actual moment in that journey to provide a micro moment that is more positive and proactive and really just thoughtful instead of neglected or overlooked.
A couple of things. So first off the 12 to 1 ratio, I'm going to share that with my husband because I think it can relate in many different areas of life. And what I'm hearing you talk about as well, these micro moments, maybe it's super obvious, but it's like, how do you humanize that B2B experience? How do you start to infuse ... 404 pages are such a great example, a little bit of humility and [inaudible 00:13:23] up and they are. They bring a little chuckle, and that's what you want in life, when things do go wrong between two humans is a little personalization and humility to it. I'm also curious to hear your thoughts about how support and the product content experience can really create those micro moments throughout the customer journey.
Content in general is the unsung hero of really what we're trying to do when we build these relationships because we are all so self-sufficient at finding information now. And I think any time in B2B that we are missing that opportunity, that we are forcing somebody to pick up the phone, call because they can't find the right information. We are basically saying to them, we're old school. We're not with the times. I think when we can make the, especially around products, but in general content really thoughtfully designed around the customer journey. Then you can start doing things like I've complained about this phrase before, but people say, "Oh, we need to educate our customers more." And that's like a red flag for me because a lot of times, that means we're not trusting them. We don't think they're smart enough. We don't think that they're figuring this out. So we need to teach them how to be a customer of ours. And really the way I think about it is if there's a journey, there's a natural journey that your customers go on.
If you can use content to give them way, finding throughout that journey, then they'll feel empowered, they'll feel independent, they'll feel like they're figuring it out. And so content can be used in all these wonderful ways where we can basically predict their next move and say, "Hey, here's some content to help you with that. Here's a video about that product that you just downloaded. Here's a recording of our CEO talking about how this product is going to change the world or whatever." But I think that when we think about content as a separate thing and not part of the customer journey, we're really missing out on an opportunity, especially in B2B, especially in B2B. And yet there's so much out there that is still for lack of a better word, brochureware where it's basically just a catalog online and it doesn't really say to a customer, "Hey, you're doing this. We think this will be really valuable for you. We're going to help guide you through to that next step."
And I think about the consequences as well of not serving it up in a manner that is accessible. I was talking to network company and let's say all the networks go down, they're going online to try and fix this. Obviously, high pressure if you're working in an organization, and then you've got to scroll through 20 page PDF to kind of find the answer. And your frustration is just mounting. And I think one of the big catalysts in the industry as well within B2B is there's just more choice. So when you do have that level of experience, you're probably going to look at more choice and really think about, is this an experience I want to continue to have? Or is there another provider that can serve this up in a manner?
We talked a little bit about self-service and how that can be such a great micro moment. I'm always, even as a B2C customer, I love when I can do just do something on my own and it's a very pleasant surprise. I'm like, oh nice. I can use this chat bot and I don't have to call in. That's amazing when it works. Can you talk to us a little bit more about how self-service can fit into a more proactive strategy?
I think there is a lot around this, that we're right at the cusp of this. It's so cool because I think a lot of organizations are starting to realize that this is what people want. And I think for a while we were fighting some old school thinking on that. One of my very first bosses had this thing against anything automated. And so he didn't understand that we all wanted voicemail, because everybody in the world had voicemail. And he'd be like, "No, no people want to talk to a person." And we would get these little paper slips with our messages that we would have to decipher and call back. And I think that some of that thinking carried on, like people thought, oh, nobody wants to go online and fill out something. Or nobody wants to use an app.
And I talk to a lot of leaders too who think they're very special. They think they have the best people in the world. They think they have the best product in the world. And maybe they do. But if I have something to achieve, I don't necessarily want to talk to the best people in the world. I just want to get stuff done. And so I think there's a ton of opportunity here to really look at what is the goal? How can we assist them? And how can we, to your point Shannon, make them feel empowered and proud of it? And you look at what's happening in B2C with delivery. We get all these updates. Sometimes you can pull up your phone and see where the little truck is. All of those things. In B2B, that's almost unheard of. And people are asking for it. They want that level of visibility. They want that level of self-service. And yet we're not prioritizing those things in B2B because for some reason we don't think it's as important.
And so I think there are all sorts of opportunities around self-service if we really just looked at the customer journey from that perspective of that one person, instead of talking about this as if these faceless brands or even job titles as personas. We have to think beyond that, we have to think about this is somebody's real life.
There's a technique we use called micro mapping, which is literally saying, okay, you've told me that people get stuck in this phone queue at this time of day. It's really crazy. Instead of looking inside, let's micro map, what is that really like for the customer? Okay, well they're on a lunch break. They are trying to get this done before their kid comes home from school. They're trying to do this because they have to walk into a meeting with their boss and give a status update. Like all of those real life scenarios, once you get to that level, then people start realizing, you know what? This is more important than reducing the number of minutes somebody's on hold. This is about providing tools and resources so people can get things done and feel good about the way that they got it done.
You bring up a really great point as well. The employee experience, they are needing these tools to do their daily work. And I think what we're seeing in the industry as well, the employee's voice is having a much bigger impact and they have a bigger say at the table now. And there's been some really great studies as well about how tooling access to great technology is a high level of engagement for employees. And that actually transcends really well into the other question I had around what's going on in the economy and a lot of the cutbacks in technology. And you're working with all these incredible CX professionals across the globe. I'd love to understand are you seeing the employee experience having an impact on the customer?
Well, I think mean these two things go hand in hand and they go back and forth. There's not like a leader because in order to deliver a great customer experience, you need a great employee experience. And in order to create a great customer experience, you actually need to get employees to live the customer experience that you're aspiring for. So if you say for instance that within your values as an organization, you say that you're going to be responsive to customers and that's something that's very important. And yet inside the culture of your organization, that's not really something people feel like they need to deliver on for each other. That disconnect will cause this misalignment and people will feel like, well, this is kind of bunk. If we're promising this publicly, but we're not behaving like this inside our organization, then that's not really going to work and they won't feel good about it. They'll leave. They won't tell their friends to work there.
And I think that's something that we also see is that when you get this right, when you have a customer experience mission, when you know what success looks like, and all of that is aligned with your employee experience in real ways, then what happens is you have happier employees who are willing to deliver happier customer experiences. And in this market, they are your advocates for hiring. They are the ones who are going out and saying, this is a great place to work. They're leaving you great reviews on Glassdoor. All of those things.
When that's not aligned, the opposite happens. And I had one situation where we were in a workshop and one of the women who had been there a long time, she said, "Five years ago, I used to tell all my friends to work here. And I don't say that anymore." And that's what got the attention of the leaders. And so I think sometimes we have to really think about what are the levers that are most important right now today? And how do we make sure that we're leveraging both the employee experience and the customer experience in ways that everybody wins? And I really believe that everybody wins this way.
Going back to some of the earlier comments about the micro moments, and if I think about that on the employee side, they don't want hundreds of calls a day about password changes. They want to have deep, meaningful conversations and things that drive them. And so I think it's all wrapped up into one and I think you've got to pay attention to both of course, but they're definitely two sides of the same coin. And we're in some tough economic climate, and hopeful of course, that things will turn around, but would love to hear your advice right now for organizations of all sizes, with limited funds and resources, how do you put the customer at the heart of everything you're doing? What's the best way that these organizations can face these headwinds?
I really believe it all comes from the very idea of the strategy. So if you have what we call a customer experience mission statement, which is basically saying, who are we no matter? How do we show up no matter what for our customers? That's your North Star. And then we also use something called a customer experience success statement, and that's where we take, okay, these are our organizational goals. This is what we're working on. How are these things related? And how do we know if we're successful? Because I think we do act like people should just know what success is with customer experience. For instance, okay, you know what? Our acquisition numbers are going to go down. We're not going to get as many sales in the next year. Well, what can we control? We can control retention. We can proactively reach out more to our customers to make sure they have what they need. So we're going to create KPIs and create our metrics around those goals instead of just status quo and telling people to just buck up. So I think that is a big part of it.
And then over-communication about these things too, really looking for what is going well? And let's say you had a great experience where somebody in your organization saved a major account. Celebrate that, talk about it because otherwise it can feel very monotonous after a while, it can feel like people aren't getting the praise. And if you relate it all back to that mission statement and say, this is living our mission, people start really internalizing it and understanding how their daily efforts are connected to that bigger mission. And that's what creates that wonderful alignment of people feeling really good about what they're doing.
I really like that piece of advice as well, because on the other side of that, the organizations that think like that, that really invest and put that level of focus, they're going to come out of this even better. It's going to be like on the upside. And I think that in tough times you can learn and really, really grow. Jeannie, this has been wonderful. Was there anything that you didn't get around to sharing today that you'd like to share with our listeners?
I just think it's really wonderful that people are willing to learn about this and willing to really try to find ways to get better every day. Because I think we sometimes underestimate the importance of this work, and really what we're doing is we are connecting with humans and we are making their lives better. And I don't think we should ever overlook that. So come see me at experienceinvestigators.com and we've got lots of resources there for you too.
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