Saturday, September 25, 2021
Home Interviews CXBuzz Interview With Ellen Sluder Head of Marketing at smrtPhone

CXBuzz Interview With Ellen Sluder Head of Marketing at smrtPhone

Hi Ellen, tell us about yourself and your background and how you got to the CX space?
I am the Head of Marketing for smrtPhone and smart studio Global, a SaaS software company that provides call management products for real estate investors and small businesses with high call volumes. Call Management has a crowded competitive landscape, with relatively low barriers to entry, and we know that the provider with the best customer experience will dominate. The desire to drive the most efficient and effective customer experience is at the core of what sets smrtPhone apart.
Personally, I am an expert in brand and marketing strategy and execution. I started my professional career as a B2B brand development consultant and have evolved to be a specialist in building marketing departments from the ground up for high-growth potential companies. I’ve worked in a wide swath of industries including technology, healthcare, real estate, legal, aviation, business services, e-commerce, and telecom. As a functional expert,
I’m able to see the commonalities across industries and see how the tenets of developing a successful CX strategy can stay steady, even as audiences and offerings vary widely. My background in branding has taught me that you can say all you want about who you are and what you stand for, but ultimately, perception is reality. This underscores the importance of shaping, influencing, and nurturing the customer experience to build favorable impressions of your brand.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?  
Data is the king when it comes to optimizing the customer experience. Reviews provide insights on many levels.
At the highest level, just knowing what channels your customers use to leave reviews will give you a greater understanding of their patterns and behaviors. Do most of your reviews come through social platforms like Facebook or Google or do they use dedicated review sites like Capterra?
Look at the timing of reviews – was there an event that triggered a big push? Did you roll out a new feature that helped or hurt you?
Then, look where you land on the numbers. Knowing where you are on a simple 1-5 stars can become a helpful benchmark to track progress. If you’re averaging a 3 now, what will it take to move up to a 4? How many reviews do you have versus competitors? Are you getting the most reviews, or is the field dominated by someone else?
And then, of course, you can dig into the details of the reviews where your customers will tell you what they value most. You can gain insight into what they think is what truly makes you different and superior to alternatives – you can then dial-up that part of your outward messaging. Or, you’ll find out what is missing. Often the next breakout feature will come from an ask from a current customer.

Ellen’s checklist for CX strategy

In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good customer experience strategy?

  1. Determine how you want to be perceived. What do you want your brand to stand for? What makes you better than competitors?
  2. Outline what actions you need your audiences to take (typically tied to revenue growth.)
  3. Know your target audience’s needs, both functional and emotional.
  4. Understand the customer journey and the buying phases.
  5. Clarify your messaging. How can you influence your audience at each stage to move to the next?
  6. Map your resources to the journey for a consistent experience. This should bring together technology, people, platforms, and processes.
  7. Decide metrics for success – and create a plan for collecting data (as close to real-time as possible) that will help you make wiser decisions.
  8. Launch and refine –  collect data, analyze regularly, define opportunities, prioritize updates, implement improvements. Then, repeat!
How much has the role of customer experience changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
In-person, communication is the richest, nuanced, and personalized communication method. With social distancing and the wearing of masks, in-person communication has lost effectiveness – which highlights the importance of a strong digital customer experience. When a customer is sitting at a computer, they have many more competitive options at their fingertips with little effort.
You have to work harder to create an engaging experience that builds loyalty. But, you are also granted more personal access to their lives which is powerful. You are literally inside their houses (via their screens) which is an opportunity to build familiarity, trust, and loyalty.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
Innovation and creativity can never be stopped. Human beings are built to adapt.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events; what was your favorite one?  
I obtained a certification in Leadership Through Organizational Sciences, led by Pravir Malik of Zappos. It was a fascinating series that focused on how you can use behavioral data at the market, company, and individual level to make better decisions and obtain better results.
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?
At this point, I think most companies have a process for getting the routine work completed. As work from home conditions persist, executives should tune into how to capture and build upon non-routine work and aspects of team relations that support the daily work being done. It’s primarily through culture, team building, and finding moments to enjoy and celebrate each other. When operating on a distributed model, you have to take a more active hand in keeping employee morale up.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Customer longevity. Or, the converse, customer churn.
These are high-level metrics, but they are the best summary of the success (or failure) of your customer experience.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsonshttps://www.prsoprano.com/
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.

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