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CXBuzz Interview With Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience M4 Communications

Hi Sue, tell us about yourself, your background?

Steve Jobs said you couldn’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backward, so where I am now – customer-obsessed and helping organizations establish and sustain their CX programs – is exactly where I was meant to be. I received my BA in Economics and thought corporate finance and analysis is where I wanted to be. I climbed the ranks to Director of Finance, and then I received a lovely offer from the Vice President of Marketing in the company I was at to be a Senior Product Manager. Little did I know that experience was going to prepare me for CX governance and teach me how to create Customer Advocacy Boards.

From there, I took a sales leadership role establishing a wholesale telecom sales unit for a cable company, as I found previously when Sales chatted with marketers, there was little trust (stemming from a sales lead vs. a marketing qualified lead battle). That role was my inflection point as it gave me more credibility with sales teams as a marketer. I then moved to Silicon Valley as things were going excitingly crazy in the startup world as a Director of Product Marketing. Then the dot-com bubble burst hit, and I started my consulting company, serving in CMO, VP of Marketing roles to build and scale marketing teams, and then I pivoted into CX to help organizations build their CX programs.

Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?

Companies must embrace what the customer’s voice is telling them, not pay it lip service. Read the reviews, identify trends and patterns and improve processes based on this info. To go further, if your company doesn’t have a solid VoC program in place, establish one. VOC must go beyond simply surveying to reaching out to customers either via phone or digitally engaging them.

From a digital perspective, unstructured data is key to understanding what is going on. Also, what is sentiment analysis saying? What is social telling you? What are 3rd party sites communicating? Look at your customer metrics. What are they telling you? Companies should be able to craft a story on where there are gaps, opportunities for improvement.

Sue’s tips for personalization

What tips do you have for companies that want to improve their personalization strategies?

Recently Forbes reported that three-fourths of execs said less than 10% of their marketing budgets are dedicated to personalization. That is a big disconnect considering customers want personalization – again, three-fourths of customers want personalization and get frustrated when they can’t get it. They want relevance. First, ask customers regularly – at least twice a year – how they want to be communicated with/engaged. Watch their behaviors, what are they doing, what are the journeys they are taking? This will give you some ideas on how to survey your customer base on how to improve. Ask them questions on personalization that means the most to them.

Relevance is key for customers. Segmentation is crucial as different groups may want different things, for example, how they get service, is it self-service, or do they want a higher-touch – i.e., interact with a live agent? Do they want to control the types of content and frequency of said content? What are you doing to offer customers more convenience in digital shopping, service, and engagement especially? Perhaps there are opportunities to co-develop personalization with customers?

Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?

The only constant is change, and in the CX world, customer expectations are always changing. Companies need to be steps ahead of customers – this comes down to being proactive to customer needs/expectations, knowing what resonates and what is convenient for customers. Double and triple down on digital experience is crucial. But also ensuring that there is consistency of experience across different devices and different channels. Companies that do not have customers, also known as the keeper of the brand, will lose at the center of the operation. Those that do will be rewarded with a larger share of wallet and customer growth.

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 biggest issue I still see is that many brands are still fairly unresponsive on social with regards to service. Social is the number one method to reach out to a brand when a customer has a service request. Twitter, I believe, is the number one social channel to reach out to a brand for a service request. I reach out to brands on Twitter first when I have a service issue. Brands must be responsive. There’s no excuse why a brand can’t respond to an issue within 1-2 hours. And respond and work the problem, don’t pass the buck and say “email service at…”

What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?

As a CX professional, I’m always studying the human condition. I’m interested in how people make decisions, interact, act/react, think and feel. This is probably why I enjoy biographies. Because of my love of 70’s music, I have been fascinated with Norman Sheffield, who ran Trident Studios in London and who helped artists like David Bowie, T Rex, Queen, and others get their start. His book, Life On Two Legs: Set The Record Straight, is a fabulous read of that time period and actions he took.

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?

Corporate leaders must be transparent and proactive – share plans and plans of action with employees, care about employee’s wellbeing and show them, care about the voice of the employee and enable employee feedback and participation in the company strategy and operations, ensure employees have the tools they need to do their jobs and help them develop. Employee Experience is such a huge factor in the success of companies now that they must invest in it much more. When you have a great employee experience, it creates engaged employees, and engaged employees help drive customer experience and corporate growth.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

CLV – customer lifetime value – it’s the closest to a solid core metric that we have.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
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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