Hi Michael, tell us about yourself and your background.
Hi, I’m Mike. I have over 11 years of experience in CX, marketing and branding across sports, retail, finance, and media. My experience has enabled me to build expertise in content creation and strategy, loyalty, storytelling, brand management, customer behavior, UX and multi/omni/cross-channel.
I’m currently a Principal CX Consultant for Oracle, translating my clients’ goals, objectives and challenges into actionable strategies and roadmaps to maximize conversion and revenue, and improve brand loyalty, customer lifetime value and customer experience.
I’m also the Loyalty Manager for Red Bull Racing and responsible for creating the loyalty strategy, direction and ongoing evolution of the loyalty program, The Paddock.
I have a BA in Advertising and Brand Management and a MSc in Multi-Channel Retailing, and I also live in the UK with my fiancée Chloe and our 3 cats, Coco, Mimi and Sakura.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
Officially, I started working in the customer experience space during my time at JD Sports Fashion, when I completed my Master’s and specialized my dissertation, called “Shoppers Fatigue: Customers need to be infatuated with change. How does a business need to update its content?”. I was interested in the continuous improvement of content, how to learn from our customers, use that learning to improve, and in turn keep up with the ever-increasing expectations of the customer. I created a continuous improvement framework that I use to this day, and this got me a job working for Oracle in the CX Adoption team, where CX is at the heart of everything that we do.
That being said, I’ve always been interested in CX ever since a lecture at University over 11 years ago that was on emotion, and I couldn’t get the concept out of my head. How and why customers do what they do based on emotion, why a brand means something to one person and means absolutely nothing to another, and as a result, how brands then react. I found it fascinating and kept that intrigue with me throughout my career, learning about the many elements of CX and how emotion can be that driving force for a customer’s inevitable experience.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?
I’m a Principal CX Consultant for Oracle on the CX Adoption team within EMEA. As above, I translate my clients’ goals, objectives and challenges into actionable strategies and roadmaps to maximize conversion and revenue, and improve brand loyalty, customer lifetime value and customer experience. What this means is helping clients navigate their own journey of growth and helping them understand their own level of CX maturity. Helping them understand where they are now (what is their benchmark). Helping them understand their vision and where they want to be. And putting in the key objectives and strategies to enable them to achieve their vision through a CX lens and execution.
I’m also the Loyalty Manager for Red Bull Racing and responsible for creating the loyalty strategy, direction and ongoing evolution of the loyalty program, The Paddock. An exciting place to be at the moment, designing for the fans and defining the meaning of loyalty.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
First of all, there needs to be a clear and understood reason why the company wants to do it, the why needs to come from a sincere and authentic place too. Once they understand the why and what they are trying to achieve, it is knowing what data they have available to tell this story, and just as important, what data are they missing – and as a result, how will they then get this data. By data, I mean both qualitative and quantitative. Are you able to track online behaviors? Are you A/B testing designed experiences? Are you directly talking to your customers? The benefit of both qualitative and quantitative approaches is to see: are your customers doing what they say they are doing? Customers don’t always know what they want until it is made apparent for them, so you need to ensure you are able to understand what is being said, but equally what isn’t being said.
Once you have all your relevant data points, ensure you can collate and interpret.
What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?
For me Netflix and Amazon clearly stand out. Netflix, for the work they put into the optimization and continuous improvement space. Learning from their customers’ behaviors to constantly evolve the product. And Amazon, for setting the bar for how simple and effective a cross-channel experience can be from browse and purchase through to customer service. It doesn’t have to be the prettiest to correctly serve the customer.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
Ensure all stakeholders are clear on the why and what you as a business are trying to achieve. Ensure everyone is bought into the vision. It can’t be a knee jerk reaction to a competitor for example, it must be right for you, but customer first and business need should be aligned. Nurturing the right environment and culture for change is essential, that should naturally flow from the reason why.
Once you have the vision, understand where you are right now, you should measure against yourself and your own growth and define what good, better, best looks like.
Allow a level of flexibility, but ensure everyone keeps themselves accountable to timeframes, milestones, and deadlines. Everyone should know what each other is doing and what they are responsible for.
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
I’m being biased but Oracle’s Infinity IQ and CrowdTwist. Infinity IQ allows businesses to track customer data in real time and as a result offer personalized recommendations based on that customers’ behavior. Combined with A/B testing this is a powerful tool to really learn more from our customers and enhance the customer experience. CrowdTwist is Oracle’s loyalty engine, with the ability to incentivize engagements and activities, and offer rewards based on the program’s rule set. There is a huge opportunity to disrupt the loyalty space across multiple industries, and it goes well beyond ‘spend £1 get 1 point’.
Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?
Measure What Matters by John Doerr – Detailing how using OKRs (Objectives Key Results), can lead to incredible results and growth. I have adopted OKRs into my work and personal life and I’ll continue to use them.
Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss – Interesting read about a former FBI hostage negotiator. As a consultant, I found the insights very useful as the majority of conversations can be boiled down to negotiations.
Into The Woods by John Yorke – As a huge fan of storytelling, I loved this book. About how stories work and why we tell them. From a CX point of view a compelling story is what a customer needs and understanding that is how to enhance the experience for that customer.
What If? by Randall Munroe – This one just for fun. Randall provides serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions. E.g., “How many Lego bricks would it take to build a bridge capable of carrying traffic from London to New York?”
What is your favorite CX metric?
I would say CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), most likely because it can mean so many different things to different people. The definition of value can change by industry and market, which makes it a difficult but an interesting one to calculate. As CLV considers all touchpoints over the lifetime of a customer, once solved it can tell you so much about the types of customers, users, members you have. CLV also keeps focus on the longer-term goals of a customer and business, and ensures all aspects are considered.