Hi Joanna, tell us about yourself, your background?
I am 27 years old and am currently working as the Head of Customer Experience at Mid-Day Squares. I was born in Montreal, Canada, and am of Portuguese descent, originally working in the Hospitality Industry.
I finished my studies in 2016 at l’Institut de Tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) and began working as a Front Office Supervisor for the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain shortly after. To obtain my diploma, I was required to do internships abroad in international locations. I got to travel and work at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui as a Front Office Intern and then to Barcelona to work as a Conference Concierge at Hotel Arts (Ritz-Carlton).
After my internships, I returned to Montreal and accepted a job as a Front Office Supervisor at the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain. After a couple of years of working in Operations, I decided to switch to Sales as I was looking for a new challenge. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit and caused major layoffs to occur in our industry. As a result of this, I was temporarily laid off from my functions as a Sales Manager at the AC Marriott Montreal.
Fortunately, I discovered that Mid-Day Squares, a startup company that I had been loving and following for a couple of years, was looking to add a key Customer Experience role to their team. I jumped at the opportunity, and here I am today.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
I think there is a lot of free data and information out there; thanks for social media, Google reviews, amongst other platforms. It’s so important to read these comments and feedback so you can learn about your customer and grow as a company. I always say we shouldn’t get annoyed at negative reviews but rather put yourself in our customers’ shoes. Last year was really tough, and people are having a hard time. Don’t look at it as an attack but rather an opportunity to learn and grow as a company. Also, listen to your customers! They are the key to your success. Without them, it just doesn’t work.
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
I think it’s important to be unapologetically yourself and to be consistent. It’s important to build trust with your customers first and foremost. So ask yourself and your team how we can do that?
Make sure that you are relatable and offering a positive experience. Be yourself and use your own voice. Yes, brand voice is important, but it’s also important to be you. When you fake it, people can tell, and it’s a turnoff. Also, understand that there are no time limits with your customer. If it takes an hour in your day to resolve an issue and make it brilliant, then take the time. Don’t rush it – your customer just wants to be heard. Listen to hear and understand. You won’t get the gist of what happened if you listen just to respond.
At Mid-Day Square, we call it the ‘’Sneezer Effect’, which is basically a domino effect. If you provide an excellent experience, your customers will likely go share that experience at the dinner table with their peers and inspire others to give you a shot. This happened to me just this week. I had a customer who was really upset about something that happened and had said that she could no longer purchase from us due to this. I jumped on the phone, gave her a call, and we talked it out. Together, we found a solution and made it work. She sent me a follow-up email saying that she spoke to her family about me at dinner, and as a result of that experience, her father purchased his own box of bars. People don’t always remember what you said, but they definitely remember how you made them feel, and that’s usually something to talk about!
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
Yes! Absolutely. At Mid-Day Squares, we are all about humanizing the experience. We need to stop being so robotic and start listening to our customers. They are the number one key to the success of the company. Without them, we are absolutely nothing. If you don’t understand that, you’ll never be successful.
Getting to know your customers as though they are my friend is how I make it work. Listen. Be empathetic. Hear them out without being annoyed. People are going through hard times right now and just want to be heard. With social media, it’s so easy to get up and personal with your customers. Send them a video, a voice note, Facetime them, or anything that will make them feel like you are truly listening and not just responding or copy-pasting text behind a screen.
What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?
You need to have core values and truly believe in them. It’s not enough to have a sign on the wall with text that states a company’s mission. The entire team needs to believe in their core and live it every day.
You need to have empathy and be customer-obsessed. It’s not enough to just put out a good product anymore. You need to make people feel something, and I think that’s what’s so cool about Mid-Day Squares and the epic community we have built. People definitely come for the chocolate, but they come back for the community!
We also make sure to share the entire journey on our social media so our customers feel like they’re on the journey with us, which makes it more relatable.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
I didn’t read many books in 2020, to be fully honest but I have been reading ‘’Mastering Fear’’ by Brandon Webb, who was a US Marine. The book is amazing and provides helpful tips on how to get past the fear and use it to your advantage. He breaks this down into 5 important steps.
Joanna’s predictions for the future of CX
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
I think personalization and humanization will be the new norm. People will demand more transparency, and I think they truly love to see the behind-the-scenes. It’s not enough to just refund something or send a basic email anymore. I think we’re entering a time where we have the technology to offer amazing customer experiences, and we should definitely be jumping on that. As much as AI is super-advanced now, for me, it’ll be important that the experience never becomes robotic and always stay as personalized as possible.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
As a startup company, we aren’t using any systems or programs to measure the experience. What I like to do is read emotions and scale them. We create different experiences based on how we read our customers. On a scale of 1-10, how is your customer feeling? Are they sending anger in a comment? If so, I’ll approach that in a certain way. Perhaps a different way than someone who has written me their story in a feedback email about how our bars have changed their life. Of course, we read and analyze every comment and review so we can truly understand our customers. We like to print out these comments and showcase them, so we are reminded of what we’re doing here. Talking through, brainstorming innovative ideas, and acting on them is the best way to grow the experience and make it better. We have also created a separate social media (Instagram) account to showcase our customers and the reviews, videos, and posts that they make about our brand.