Hi John, tell us about yourself, your background, and how you got to the CX Space?
I’ve worked in the tech space my entire career, and I’ll be celebrating my 23rd year with Softchoice this July. Over the years, I’ve held several roles in Operations, IT, and Business Transformation that drove me closer to the customer. I came to realize that products and services are easy to access or replicate; hence it came down to creating an exceptional customer experience that would help us lead in our space.
A number of years ago, we pitched a CX Team formation, wholly focused on the customer, and we’ve had fantastic support ever since. Customer Experience is now one of our strategic pillars and drives the way we show up in front of our customers.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so has consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
Feedback is a gift. It’s imperative that brands use every listening channel to pay attention to what customers are saying. That feedback, or reviews, guides what to continue to do and what to improve upon. It is like being a fly on a wall. Put what you learned to good use. If you don’t, someone else will.
John’s tips for personalization
What tips do you have for companies that want to improve their personalization strategies?
The advice I would give is to start small and don’t boil the ocean. Leverage the information you have and apply small changes that continuously personalize the experience you deliver or the outputs you produce. Put your CRM to good use and start collection relevant information about your customers. Mine the information that you already have in order to build relevant offerings tailored to your customer. Word of caution, many folks confuse customization with personalization. Customization isn’t typically sustainable at scale and could end up providing a poor customer experience in the long run.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
Definitely! And this has been an ongoing trend for some time now. There are several fantastic organizations that are continuously setting a new bar for customer centricity and all that goes with it. Customers do not compare us to our competitors, they compare us to the last best experience they had. The challenges of the past year with people working from home, balancing work and family, have created a great deal of added anxiety and pressure. Customers have less time and dealing with more demands. People’s emotions are heightened. We need to find ways to help lighten their load and make things easier and frictionless for them. This means tailoring solutions and services that are geared towards the customers’ most pressing needs. At Softchoice, we always lead with the customer pain point and try to create solutions and services that help address our customers’ most pressing needs. This is key as organizations that do that well, will thrive and be rewarded with customer loyalty.
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?
Far too many companies do not leverage social media. Some do so passively or assume that customers are not talking about your organization. Quite frankly, you need to be where your customers are. Really great companies engage with their customers across an array of platforms. These platforms encourage engagement and are bi-directional in nature. Make sure you have custody over your brand. Additionally, people are social creatures and want to connect. Not engaging with your customers, wherever they are, is a huge miss. Connect with your customers and make it memorable for the right reasons. Do it well and they’ll become brand advocates.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
I tend to flip between fiction, personal growth and CX books so I’ll give you two. The first would have to be White Fragility by Robin Diangelo. It was one of several recommended by our Black Employees Resource Group (the BERG) and focuses on unconscious bias. To say that it didn’t open my mind would be an understatement. The second would be Measure What Matters by John Doer. A fantastic book that’s turned into the template for how my team and I focus on the right objectives and key results to drive success for CX.
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?
Executives and leaders need to have a pulse on how their teams and their people are coping during these times. Ensure that their people have the tools to excel in their jobs and the support they need to handle the demands of life under COVID. Find new ways to stay connected with your teams since its very easy to slip into a mode where your only touchpoint are meetings. Chatting between meetings or going for coffee isn’t a thing right now, so find a way to fill that void. I also recommend looking to the future and determine what work will look like in a year. For many, it’s likely not going to return to what it was back in January of 2020. Consider how to connect both remote and in-office teams in ways that enhances collaboration and enables flexibility. We’ve had a Future of Work committee in place since the pandemic broke out, , and I’m very confident that we have the right plan to execute a hybrid working model.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Most CX metrics measure one dimension of a customer’s experience, like loyalty, ease or advocacy. Forrester has this great measure called CX Index or CXI. I like it because it measures a number of different CX dimensions like Ease, Effectiveness, Emotion, Retention, Advocacy, and Enrichment.