Hi Sara, tell us about yourself and your background.
Hello CXBUZZ! Hello! It is such a pleasure to be interviewed, thank you for having me.
My passion and enthusiasm for all things experience design started with my mother. She emphasized the importance of knowing that the experience I am having is more than likely not the experience the other person is having. She taught me to value the relationship first, seeing myself in the other person’s shoes as my own.
Everyone has an experience, and where they are on that path is unique. One size does not fit all. Which levers, pulleys, and buttons you need to push to make yours the most engaging and successful depends on your approach.
At Hello Sara Christine LLC, I work with People Leaders. I help them and their teams to customize the exact experience where they can win big with customers and clients as well as increase momentum, productivity and motivation within their teams and people. I focus my energy on helping People Leaders take a Goodyear Tire and turn it into a Nike Shoe.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
Great question. In my experience, I see a couple of big misunderstandings:
1) that customer experience is the same as customer feedback and
2) that everything that encompasses the company’s experience is all grouped under Customer Experience (CX).
While collecting invaluable data, voice of the customer (VOC), is part of the process of maintaining a thriving customer experience, it is often confused with being the full scope of experience teams. And within experience teams, I see CX as one component of what equates to the full Experience Ecosystem. It’s one of the X’s but not the only one.
A company’s full experience ecosystem encompasses not only CX, but Operational Experience (OX), Employee Experience (EX), products and services User Experience (UX), there is even now an additional “X,” Automated Customer Experience (ACX) and more such as Customer Service, Self-Service, and Customer Feedback (VOC) is a part of the whole.
Why is it important to call these out? Because if you have a siloed experience internally, CX teams are working over here, Ops teams are working over there, and so on, there is a higher risk for gaps to form in the experience, and you better believe your customer can feel that.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
Honestly, I’ve been heads down for the past year focusing on pivoting my company, Hello Sara Christine LLC, to do just that, create innovative solutions for the new paradigm in real-time.
And time is of the essence. Every company and person, for that matter, had to pivot quickly to stay in line with the rapidly changing customer and client needs, let alone working from home and staying current with teams and employees. This past year felt like we were all taking a drink from a fire hydrant!
Companies and teams got permission to implement initiatives that may have been in the pipeline for years. These overnight shifts exposed substantial disconnects between the experience that a customer is engaging with today and where the envisioned experience wants it to go. I saw this as an opportunity to provide that much-needed support for People Leaders and generate results in new ways.
Whether it is the company to customer, team to team, or team to brands, I focus on synthesizing the experiences and processes that are happening right now compared to the desired experience, driven by the vision of the Leadership teams.
I do that by collecting invaluable insights from both external customers or clients and internal teams and stakeholders. I love people. Talking to them during in-depth interviews is one of my superpowers. Those findings then drive the creation of clear, cohesive strategic playbooks (roadmaps with actionable insights) – so you can start immediately activating the plan.
Sara Christine’s tips for improved customer loyalty
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
Get out there and talk to your customers and clients. Get on the phone and get one-on-one with them. Get, I dare say, vulnerable. Seek sentiment and get to the root causes of what keeps your clients and customers up at night. Want to start today? Get your sales and customer service teams together in a room and listen to them. I bet they could identify your top ten “ankle-biters,” those repeat issues that they hear all the time over and over, and then start there, solve those challenges first.
Commit to engaging with them as people to people, not a company to the customer. Build trust and loyalty by removing those repetitive roadblocks so your clients and customers can stay excited about your products and services.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score), NPS (Net Promoter Score), or CES (Customer Effort Score)?
All, some, or none. The most relevant score and measurement is the one that works best for your company and your teams. How do you determine that, or course correct?
My first question, “what is your strategic ecosystem?”
What is your desired state experience? Once you know that, then do you know where are you today? Having the North Star is critical. Having an accurate understanding of where you are today is just as important. Then you will be able to create an actionable map that navigates to where you desire to be.
Once you have your North Star (Strategic Ecosystem) and your current state mapped, now we can “play the reality of the scene” and connect the dots from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow. At that point, we can determine “how do you measure your success?” That includes getting everyone internally onboard and super clear on how to move the needle on which score or scores you choose for the right reasons. Not only can you track progress, but you also drive motivation and momentum for your teams as they know exactly what they are aiming for, and that is a score to revel in!
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
Personalization is all about being nurtured. I frequently get asked, “how do I scale from one-to-one to one-to-many? Realistically if you look at your own experience, you are probably not that far off from what your customer or client is going through. Before last year that was not the case, companies could be on all channels trying to cover all the bases, but the pandemic changed the playing field. Suddenly, we were all working from home and forced into our inboxes as our primary communication tool almost full-time (no matter what age group).
Focus, focus, focus where you spend your time communicating. I can’t say this enough; channel killing is now a real strategy. Again, get out there and talk to your customers and clients. It goes beyond surveys, dig deeper, and find out what channels they are primarily using and why then streamline your channels and communications to be there the most. Also, look for those hidden gems, those monthly, weekly communications, like your purchase order, subscription, and invoice emails. Customers and clients love those “ah-ha!” moments of surprise and delight. Shaking things up and elevating even those automated emails helps to connect with them on all levels.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
Love them! They are powerful tools when used as a catalyst to help boost your self-service experience. Self-service is vital, and using your humans wisely is key to being effective and efficient with your resources. It is not the answer to everything. When used strategically, it is a superpower component within your customer’s experience. There are so many incredible AI-based chatbots out there that provide services and capabilities beyond a bot. Use them immediately for what I call your “ankle-biter” problems – “where’s my order?” “where’s my package?” and so on.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
The Year Earth Changed, a documentary that came out in April. If there is a silver lining from the global pandemic, this could be it. The movie documents the rare wonders that happened during our global lockdown and how the smallest changes in our human behavior can have the biggest impact on nature and our environment. It highlights some incredible stories that came out of it. Provides powerful perspectives and opportunities for us to recognize and hopefully grow through these truly extraordinary times.
Also, to note, the best TV show I saw was Ted Lasso. I’m an optimistic rebel and this show embodies the power of optimism, something I believe we could all lean into and use more of as we move forward into the next year.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
My favorite CX metric is the “how did I ever live without you” metric. How often do you hear, “how did I ever live without your products or services?” That is priceless!