Hi Tom, tell us about yourself, your background?
I help small to midsized B2B technology companies generate more high-quality leads and increase brand awareness through digital marketing. I define that as five areas: SEO, PPC advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, and influencer marketing.
I’m the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing Software”; been named to several lists of top B2B and social media influencers; written for leading blogs; been quoted in publications including Fast Company, Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. magazine; and presented at blogging and social media conferences. I’m pretty active on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Before starting my own consultancy in 2017, I spent 14 years in corporate marketing and 10 years at a B2B marketing agency.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
First, ask for reviews! Generally speaking, you won’t get what you don’t ask for.
Second, make it easy as possible for customers to provide reviews. Focus on one platform and make it as simple as possible for them to add a review there. Include links in your messages as well as (if appropriate) within your product itself.
Finally, make use of that content. Publish your ratings and select customer quotes in multiple places on your website.
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
Reducing friction at every step. Every step a customer needs to take, from learning about your product to getting specific questions answered to ordering, payment, and activation should be designed to be as easy and seamless as possible. Amazon recognized this years ago when they introduced one-click ordering.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
Absolutely. Customers expect at least the basic elements of communications (such as using their name) to be personalized, and for offers and information to be relevant. Sending customers completely irrelevant offers (e.g, advertising patio furniture to apartment renters) is borderline offensive and may even get you email labeled as spam. Customers expect you to get the basics right, to demonstrate some fundamental understanding of who they are and what they are interested in. Even for small companies with relatively narrow product offerings, some level of email list segmentation (along with message personalization) is usually essential.
What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?
Always be talking to customers, of course, but don’t rely on them to do all of your quality assurance testing.
Periodically have employees (preferably members of the executive team, at least from time to time) walk through the entire customer journey, from searching for your website to navigating it, filling out lead forms, making a “purchase,” and contacting customer service.
This isn’t a one-and-done exercise. Things change, new products are added, new features are implemented, people leave, things break. The larger your company and the more extensive your product line, the more frequently you should do this.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
I’d say probably…”Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller. I learned a simple messaging process several years ago. His approach uses some of the same ideas, but really builds upon and expands on it. It’s an excellent exercise for any new product introduction, as well as any business rebranding effort.
Tom’s predictions for the future of CX
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
It will become even more of a differentiator. Consumers and business buyers are overwhelmed with loyalty, membership, and rewards programs. The best companies will incorporate technology to do most of the work for customers. People appreciate getting something they view as special treatment (discounts, extended hours, gifts) that they didn’t have to jump through a lot of hoops to receive.
It’s easy for established companies to get lax in the CX area, to take their eye off the ball. This is especially true in industries with few real competitors, and all of whom have long track records. There are entrepreneurs out there looking for just these types of situations in order to disrupt the industry, based on a CX focus plus innovative use of new technologies.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Revenue growth from current customers. There are lots of “feel good” metrics, but this is one of the most meaningful. The achievable range varies considerably, of course, across companies and industries. But if a company can achieve, for example, 10% year-to-year net revenue growth from existing customers, then any new customers added are highly profitable bonus growth.