A customer's experience with a brand is affected by every interaction they have with it. It's important to think about every touchpoint — they either make or breaks the buyer's experience. In this episode, we discuss how to create great user experiences by thinking about customer needs and how to address them within every opportunity.
INTRO: Building a great company is a marathon not a sprint. Each week Krista Ankenman and the team at TANK New Media take on growth challenges, explore technology, and interview business leaders that are always upping their game. If you're ready to build scalable systems to drive your business forward, this podcast is for you.
KRISTA: All right. Welcome, everyone. Today we have Taylor Kack on. She specializes in creating brand experiences through design and user experience. Welcome.
KRISTA: How are you today?
TAYLOR: Good. It's been a good one.
KRISTA: Good. Good. We're going to talk a little about creating customer brand experiences. So tell me what exactly are we talking about when we say customer experience? Is it customer service, customer satisfaction, or is it something totally different?
TAYLOR: So I think when you think of customer experience it's both of those things. But ultimately it's thinking about what your customer needs are and putting those at the center of what your company is doing, really making sure you're servicing what they're looking for, what their needs might be, and making sure you're incorporating those ideas along all the touchpoints of their customer journey. And making sure that they have that flawless, seamless experience as they're working through their customer and buyer's journey that you're providing them. So when a customer is satisfied with a company it is not only a lower cost for you to serve them, but they have more potential to become loyal brand advocates for your company. I think HubSpot does a really great job of thinking about this. They've kind of seen the change in the marketing and sales funnel that worked for a long time to describe success for marketing and sales but it didn't quite paint that full picture. So they adopted more of a cycle or a cyclical style graphic that they call the flywheel that really includes that full cycle of the buyer's journey. So starting on the left side of strangers, and moving into the marketing and sales funnels, becoming customers and then the end, what we just kind of we're talking about before, is that loyal promoter or that vocal advocate for your company. That whole entire customer journey and buyer's journey is... are all of those experiences out there. They're kind of experiencing along the way. And you really want them to become those brand advocates for you, it saves you money, it grows your business, and helps you retain some revenue along the way.
KRISTA: Wow. And I just saw a stat the other day that was 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior experience but actually only 8% of customers agree. So there must be some kind of misalignment here with expectations.
TAYLOR: Yeah. And I think it's because a lot of people kind of consider customer experiences as more of those big-ticket items maybe it's you know can there is a web website functioning?
TAYLOR: Can you open an email? Those aren't wrong. Those are customer experience touchpoints. But it's every little touchpoint that they have along the way. You know if they don't understand the content on your website if they, you know, if your forms too long, if the tone of voice is off, if you're not reaching them on the proper channels. There's a wide-wide net of things that could be hindering that customer experience that companies maybe aren't considering or realizing or kind of off-kilter to what their customers are actually experiencing.
KRISTA: I see. I see. So overall you really feel like it kind of breaks down into touchpoints? For the most part, so every interaction you have with a client really breaks down to an individual touchpoint where it's an opportunity to have a positive experience not just you know skating by and like everything's functioning. It's like how do we really improve how people are interacting with your brand and your company.
TAYLOR: Yeah. And past that you know you want them to have a positive experience but you want them to be... build a relationship with not only you but your brand, right? You know customer's experience, you want them to have a good experience it is about how you know they're kind of working through those touchpoints. But it's also making sure that you're creating a... a relationship that's able to be built upon because that ultimately goes back to them becoming those brand advocates, which are helping you communicate the value in, you know, quality of your product or service.
KRISTA: I see. So can you just expand a little bit on the idea of a customer journey? You mentioned that a couple of times I just wanna make sure everybody kind of understands what that is.
TAYLOR: Yeah. So this is that sum of experiences that customers are going through when they're working with your company or brand. We touched a bit on it with that HubSpot methodology idea before but it's really just looking at that big picture, seeing all of the different you know touch points and areas that they're kind of experiencing while they're moving through your marketing and sales processes, and what those different experiences accumulate to is the idea of the customer journey. So big picture when you look at your customer journey it's really the story that you're able to tell that your customers are having with you in your business and how they behave, why they keep coming back, and you know what would maybe incentivize them to continue to advocate for your business and service.
KRISTA: I see. I see. So why is it really important for everybody to keep in mind?
TAYLOR: I think an ultimate goal for every business should be to have a positive customer experience. I don't. I would be confident to say that nobody's really advocating for poor customer experience. I would hope most people don't want that for their buyers and their customers but focusing on this really allows you to get insight into common customer pain points you can have. How you can improve. Define what your customers are needing, what they're looking for. Look at prospects how can you help ensure that their experience is going to be better than you know the last person that came through and really make sure that you're helping them complete that whole funnel or cycle of purchase. It really allows you to see how customers are interacting with your business, what you can do to improve that and make sure that that whole customer experience is what you're expecting your customers to have.
KRISTA: Sure, sure. And with stats like it takes seven to twelve touchpoints to deliver a qualified lead to sales, that's from the Content Marketing Institute. You know you really have to look at every single interaction if it's going to take seven times of connecting with them you want each one of those to make an impression.
TAYLOR: Yeah, and it's important to remember... remember that customers are doing a lot more work upfront. They don't go to the sales lot and talk to the sales guy anymore. I was listening to the podcast that you had with Thad for Unlocking Demand and he, he said it really well you know people are doing a lot of the legwork upfront. They're researching and finding this information out on their own and so they may have, you know 7 to 12 to 20 touchpoints before they even interact with somebody in your company. So you really have to make sure that not only your customer-facing teams are working well for your experiences and your brand. But you really wanna make sure that those touch-points that maybe aren't so humanized are still connected and aligning with what your brand standing for.
KRISTA: Absolutely. So let's hone in on this just a little bit and tell me what a branded customer experience is.
TAYLOR: So this kind of includes everything we've talked about previously that customer experience making sure that they're having, you know, no pain points there's not a lot of friction but the branded portion of it kind of talks about what is unique to you and what customers and clients can recognize as your experience. What you are providing them that differentiator that sets you apart from different competitors in the marketplace. I think it really is built from what your brand is standing for it's... It stands on that solid foundation of your brand and really gives you the credibility to be able to say this is our customer experience and it's aligning to our brand identity that we've kind of set for our company.
KRISTA: So what are some key areas you could focus on when thinking about your customer experience?
TAYLOR: So this is a... This is a tricky one to answer. I think there is a lot of different ways people could focus on it depending on their company. But I think there's some maybe some high level or good touch-points to kind of start with considering. One of them is reachability. So where are your... where are your customers at, what channels are they active, on how are they being used? How are they interacting with them? And focusing on the approach and the ability to serve them in those realms. So it allows you to engage with them where they're looking for their information and where they're most in need of help. You know it, it's that thought of don't spend so much time focusing on you know email marketing if they're looking for their content and information in blogging. I'm not saying don't do email marketing. I'm saying maybe focus some of your, you know, making sure that your blog experience is really seamless and beneficial to them and then move on to email marketing and try to pull some of that stuff over. So really focusing on where your customers are, where they're looking for information and making sure that those... those experiences are aligned back to your brand and your values that you've set for yourself.
TAYLOR: Another one we've kind of touched on this a little bit before but that service or that self-serve convenience is really important today. People are doing so much more work upfront. They feel more empowered than ever to make decisions and solutions for themselves and I think it's really important that you don't hinder that.
KRISTA: Yeah. Don't stand in the way.
TAYLOR: Yeah. You don't want to give them any reason not to go through and make the decision on their own. Some people will need more information or may go through that process a little bit differently. But you really want to make sure that the information that they're looking for and trying to find on their own is unique to you. It's communicating what you want. It's allowing customers to see what your brand experience is and really gives them the ability to make that decision on their own. So it-it just reinforces that point that there is a real significance to the brand and customer experience. They may spend a significant amount of time in that upfront portion of researching on their own. So they really need to be able to find that information and have that kind of experience that aligns to your brand there.
KRISTA: Yeah absolutely.
TAYLOR: Another one I would maybe consider is personalization. This one's... So this one's a little tricky. This, I think when people often think of personalization I think the first thought that comes to their mind is like let's add personalization tokens to everything. Let's put your name on a box. Let's put your name in an email.
KRISTA: Pearls right?
TAYLOR: Yeah. So those like those are great. I'm not... Those are really helpful it makes you feel like you're getting more of a human experience. But I think what I'm talking about more, so here is how well is your business caring or meeting an individual's needs? So I think a good example of this is kind of thinking about smart content. So if a customer comes to your website and they download an awareness level offer maybe it's you know preparing, how to prepare your garden for the upcoming spring and they come back instead of re-showing them that information or offering the same download maybe you use smart content to swap that information out for a bit more decision-based offer. So here's some good plants or trees that your... your company may offer that can grow well in this climate or something to that effect. That then is helping tailor their experience so that they're really kind of getting this custom-tailored customer experience through their journey that's really focused on their needs and what they're looking for.
KRISTA: Almost nurturing themselves down the path, in a way.
TAYLOR: Yeah exactly. And I think that that's a real benefit. You know. People are going to look a couple different times 7 to 12 touchpoints it's really important to be able to kind of provide them with that feeling that you're invested in providing them with information that's really relevant to them.
KRISTA: Sure. Absolutely.
TAYLOR: So then the final one I think is simple and easy to use. I think keeping that in mind is is big today we're in a mobile-first world. This does kind of caveat into like user experience and I don't want to confuse the two. Customer experience is a little bit different, but it does it they do kind of connect. You want to make sure that their customer journey isn't getting bogged down, it's streamlined, it's straightforward, it's optimized for them and really focused on providing them the information and the content they need in the easiest form. So don't make them jump through 16 hoops to get through something that's you know maybe like an awareness style offer. So making sure you're kind of considering the level of the ask for the level of the reward. So making sure that it's just set up to be a positive experience for them, the give and take matches, it's aligned back to your brand experience and kind of what you've built your whole entire brand system on.
KRISTA: Gotcha. OK. So just a quick recap there because that was a lot of really good information. So we were just talking about some of the key areas too, areas to focus on when you're thinking about customer experience and it was reachability, service convenience, personalization, and simple and easy to use. Let's just talk a little bit, so now I think we kind of have the areas to focus. We know what we're really kind of looking at here so how do we go about doing it? How do you go about creating a branded customer experience?
TAYLOR: So I think this whole idea would start with focusing on your brand. You need to have a baseline to build this experience on, and I think that obviously starts by making sure your brand has been defined. So the first step in delivering that brand experience is making sure you have some type of system to fall back on or set of values and goals that you can really build from. And I think it's it's important to remember you know "brand" is such a tricky term anymore because it's used for a variety of different things, it's-it's a-it's a big area anymore. So you know it's it's the story that your company is telling, it's-it's the values you've built your company on, it's everything that you really are promising to your customers and you want to make sure that you have that kind of ironed out and a really good feel for why you're delivering the things that you say you're going to, in order to be able to then determine what you want that experience to be. So once you have it defined you can, you can then begin to start to implement and kind of put the pieces out in the world. Obviously, you want to have a consistent and, consistent and cohesive look and feel.
TAYLOR: But you want to make sure that you're still looking at all of those touchpoints along the way. So your website content is, you know, relevant to your brand and customer experience. Your advertising is matching those, voicemail tone, there's a million different things touchpoints along the way that you can consider but you want to start looking at maybe what are those bigger pieces, how can we make the most impact, and then work through those and slowly start to kind of you know work your way down the list that way.
KRISTA: Gotcha. OK.
TAYLOR: So then one area that I think often gets forgotten but is almost the key critical part to all of this is interpreting your brand. And I think this falls really closely in line with your company culture. So do your employees believe in the brand and the experience that you're wanting to provide? I think a lot of people will be, their immediate answer might be yeah, totally, everyone here does. But I think it's kind of, it's not necessarily always true. You know Gallup did a research study that said 23% of employees agree that they can apply the organization's values to their everyday workday and only 27% strongly agree in their company's values. That's significant.
KRISTA: That's crazy.
TAYLOR: And these are the people that are advocating for your business and advocating for the customer experience and if they can't buy into and believe in it then...
KRISTA: How are they going to get others to?
TAYLOR: Yeah and how much, how hard are they truly going to you know want to push that and make sure that those experiences are being delivered upon? So I think one-one caveat to that is thinking about "OK are our values and our experience and our brand accurate?".
TAYLOR: Do we actually have a system that's kind of set up in actually how our company is going to operate and how we're going to deliver on those promises? And then the other is remembering to communicate and educate your employees. It may be that your system's correct but maybe they're not quite understanding the why or how you got there or they just need a little bit more education around where your brands at and why you've been that way.
KRISTA: It seems like it's a really easy thing to sort of take for granted you know as an owner you know all of these things and it's sort of in your DNA but then you have to make sure you pass that on to employees.
TAYLOR: And consistently, right? I think oftentimes it gets put in a welcome packet or an onboarding kit or...
KRISTA: H.R. running through it.
TAYLOR: Yeah. Painted on your hallway down the thing but no one really you start it create banner blindness and it's like "Yeah we've went over that, Yeah I know what they are" but you know it's kind of like that refresh of like this is why, this is everything that we're standing for and making sure that you're just consistently remembering the why and the values that you've set.
KRISTA: And making those making business decisions based on those values so everybody knows that is truly where you're operating from. You know I think can help reinforce your brand and your brand experience internally. At least you know we're talking about externally here but you know there's a whole brand experience internally that you know we could do another podcast on.
TAYLOR: So then the last one I think we can kind of talk about is just more of an experience brand I think considering you know maybe your brand has been established for a while. You feel like you might have these pieces kind of put in place but just making sure that your culture is still driving that brand experience making sure management is holding itself accountable doing their part to deliver upon the brand, the employees and those customers saving customer-facing teams or kind of buying in and making sure that the communications and the experiences are all aligning, and then making sure that your customers are still having that branded customer experience. So just because you've set these to be what you think. You know, Rome wasn't built in a day it is sure it can evolve it can keep moving. So just making sure that all those things are still connecting and you don't need to evolve portions of your brand or portions of your experience to make sure that they're all staying aligned.
KRISTA: Gotcha. So I feel like this can kind of feel very intangible. Are there ways to measure this? So companies feel like they know they're going in the right direction.
TAYLOR: Yeah I think there's a couple things that we could maybe consider. One of them is those employees or customers style surveys so using that information to kinda collect insight and understand how your customer's experience went with your product or service. It allows you to kind of see different data and, in a variety of insights to those different touchpoints along the customer journey and really analyze customer's feedback from the source itself. I think you need to remember to stay open to those answers. It can be a little bit of like a defense mechanism to beat. That's not, that's not right or that's not...
KRISTA: Start blaming. Yeah, get defensive.
TAYLOR: You do need to keep that in mind and you do... You do need to keep in mind that surveys are often kind of extremes one side of the spectrum, so kind of keep that in the back of your mind when you're looking at them. But it really does give you a good insight into some pain points or some really good successes that may be coming from your customer journey. I think another one to remember is customer churn. This may seem kind of scary, it's not. Customer churn is part of business, it's gonna happen. I think if you can really turn that idea and those rate rates and reasons into a learning point it can really help your business understand maybe why those customers are leaving. Is it a cycle thing? Is it they get frustrated at a certain point? Is there something better? Do you need to kind of add a feature service or value into what you're offering? So I think if you can kind of capitalize on some of those insights and understand what is happening to make that-those customers walk out the door, I think it's important to kind of consider-consider those things as well. And then this kind of falls back into the customer survey. I think it's just asking those customers for product features or requests. You know what are you looking for what don't, aren't you satisfied with what maybe would be an upgrade or a feature you would consider. Making sure that you're continuously providing that value and opportunity for you to succeed. I don't think it has to be, you add a new product or you know upgrade your service. I think it can be something maybe like providing them a video that explains, you know, the maintenance on your machine or you know following up and reminding them that there's something left for them to complete. Things like that, that kind of improve the customer service experience and that customer journey. Just making sure that you're staying current with what your customers and your-your clients are kind of expecting.
TAYLOR: And then lastly I think just making sure that you're looking at customer support trends. Oftentimes the service portion I think falls towards the end of the cycle and it kind of gets forgotten but it kind of has that secret source of information. There's a lot of really good and valuable insights that you can have from the customer support tickets. So by looking at those questions and problems that your service team is reporting it really could be some good insights into what your customers are looking for and the frustrations they were, they might be running into. I was just listening to a video that HubSpot put out talking about how insane it is that customer service often works out of a different system. That's kind of why they've adopted this kind of software and a platform that really shares from one source of data because they have valuable insight into what your customers are experiencing.
TAYLOR: And that should be an ultimate goal for your company, improving that experience, making sure you're delivering on it time and time again. So why would you not want your marketing and sales teams to be...
KRISTA: In line.
TAYLOR: Yeah, and have access to that information and be building upon it. So I think you know you can do this in a variety of different ways. I just think making sure that you're aware and looking at those customer support and service calls and tickets and all of those kinds of things are really good insights.
KRISTA: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean these are a bunch of good ideas you know really to be able to create those brand experiences and then to make sure ultimately that you're moving forward in the right direction. I know that's-that's where we, we all want to go is really improving those experiences keeping customers longer improving revenue improving churn all of, all of those pieces.
TAYLOR: Yes exactly.
KRISTA: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Taylor. We appreciate all your insight today. And don't forget everyone to rate review and subscribe.
KRISTA: Learn more at TANKNewMedia.com.
Co-founder & VP, Client Services
Krista also has more than a decade of professional experience under her belt. Her expertise lies in graphic design, project management, and digital marketing for both high-profile and growing businesses. Currently, she functions as the VP of Client Services and lead strategist.
Building a great company is a marathon, not a sprint. Each week Krista Ankenman and her team at TANK New Media take on growth challenges, explore technology, and interview business leaders dedicated to growing better through continuous improvement. If you’re ready to build repeatable and scalable systems to drive your business forward, this podcast is for you.
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