Hi Dawn, tell us about yourself, your background?
I’m transformative marketing communications professional with 20-plus years experience in Marketing, Corporate Communications, and Public Relations. As the CMO for FocusVision, I drove marketing strategy to create a WW marketing strategy to drive revenue through brand and demand.
At my previous position as Senior Director of WW Digital Marketing and Brand Strategy of Commvault, I built an always-on customer-driven Marketing model based on data, including intent signals and digital body language, to increase revenue and market share. Aligning Sales and Marketing to strategically connect digital engagement with personal interactions across prospect, customer, and partner audiences is at the center of health and growth for modern businesses. As a result of my groundbreaking work, I was named to the Top Women in MarTech and Digital and won the SiriusDecisions ROI Award for Digital Content Marketing Strategy.
Earlier in my career, I held positions in corporate communications with Veritas Software, Quest Software, and Infragistics and worked with numerous Technology companies while on the agency side.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
Customer reviews are the very best feedback a company can get. Still, we need to put a process in place to systematically gather that feedback, deliver it to the right stakeholders within the company, and action on it. If companies don’t learn from customer reviews and modify how they do things to improve the customer experience, then they are not only tone-deaf but are passing up at an invaluable opportunity to create a customer experience that delights and, in return, grows the business. Customer experience creates loyalty and advocacy, and we all know how important being referred by a friend is. So ensuring there are people and processes in place to gather, analyze, react and evolve is the best way to utilize the data.
Dawn’s tips for personalization
What tips do you have for companies that want to improve their personalization strategies?
Many companies try to fake personalization. What I mean by this is when I land on a website, and it says “Hi Dawn,” and they consider that personalization. But there’s so much more important data that can personalize an experience other than name or location. With the right technology, companies can know the visitors’ interests so that content can dynamically change to match that interest, buying behavior to detect patterns so better serve that visitor, or capture other information like sizes or preferences to make the experience easier. I also don’t think it’s limited to web. Phone can be a part of it as well. Nothing frustrates me more than keying in my 16-digit credit card number and then having to give all my information to the customer service representative when they get on the phone. And, this happens in the B-to-B world with click to chat or request a callback or even an inbound lead. The more the person making the call knows about who they are calling, the better the experience will be for the customer and will help that company stand out.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
Absolutely. It’s been a long year, and a lot has changed but what hasn’t changed is that the customer is still in charge and more than ever before. We saw the shift to a digital marketplace pre-pandemic. Still, it’s been greatly accelerated, making it even more important for brands to not only transform digitally but to create differentiating customer experiences. It’s straightforward to go onto the next site if the one you’re on is frustrating, confusing, or just plain unappealing. The companies that can evoke positive emotions through their customer experience are the ones that are going to survive and thrive.
Social media pages have become crucial for companies in most industries, especially in eCommerce. What’s the most common mistake you see in a company’s social media strategy?
The most common mistake is being unresponsive or slow to respond. Social media has given customers and brands an always open chat line essentially—with the world watching. It’s impossible for any company to do everything perfectly 100 percent of the time, which means there will always be bad experiences and mistakes. The brands that have people responsible for being part of that conversation and empowered to answer and handle negative complaints and situations quickly will come out looking like a company that cares about their customers and will take care of them. Empathy is a very positive brand attribute.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
So much of this past year seems like a blur, and I’ve read so much, so this is not an easy question. But I’d have to say a book that is a couple of years old–Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. It really illustrates how skewed our data can be and why looking at all data—big data from digital body language and small data from quantitative and qualitative research will truly give us insights into why people do what they do. I have a good example of this: A few years ago, when I joined FocusVision, it was the first year that gay pride month seemed to have hit the mainstream. Brands were changing their logos, hanging rainbow flags, putting rainbow merchandise on their shelves, etc. So we decide to do a research project on how customers felt about it.
Looking at the quantitative results, we saw that roughly 40% of respondents said they didn’t like the “rainbow washing.” One would assume that 40% felt that way because of biases. But what we found from the qualitative part of the research was that most people said they didn’t like it because they felt the brands were being inauthentic. Instead of plastering rainbows everywhere, they wanted brands to take real action to support the LGBTQ community through company hiring practices, employee programs, or supporting LGBTQ causes. It was really an aha moment that taught me always to seek the “why.”
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should Executives gear up to the changing times?
For good leaders, this shouldn’t cause too much stress or change the way they do things. There certainly need adaptations in the way we collaborate, but true leaders understand that you need to start with knowing your team as individuals and as human beings that have lives. If you put the employee first and they know and feel that, you get their very best self at work. The of course, a team is a collection of individuals. If they feel appreciated, motivated, and empowered, they don’t bring the insecurities into their work relationships that usually cause bad behavior. A leader needs to be very clear on what is expected and what’s unacceptable. As a leader, you have to be willing to be vigilant about this every day—have the hard conversation when it’s warranted, recognize accomplishments at the individual and team level, and create the constructs and cadence where people can succeed.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
I don’t really have one metric, but I do have a favorite methodology—qualitative research. When you ask your customers how they think and feel, you can truly understand why they do what they do. It’s with that understanding and information that you can truly create an experience that connects your brand to your customer’s lives.