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Prepare, Survive, Thrive: CX Strategies to Recession-Proof Your Business

But is This a True Recession?

That depends on your school of thought. Generally, a recession is a period of economic decline in which the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country falls for two consecutive quarters. However, there are many other factors to consider. Check out our white paper for more detailed information on recessions and recession-proofing strategies.

Though there is much academic debate around whether we’re technically in a recession or not, consumers are wary, and once again discretionary spending is trending down. As a general guideline, the National Bureau of Economic Research states that a recession lasts around 11 months on average, but the effects can be felt long after it has officially ended. So whether this economic downturn is a recession or a harbinger of one to come, savvy business leaders are positioning their companies to adapt so they can strategically navigate this challenging market.

Proven Recession Resilience Strategies

We’ve been here before. The recession brought on by the dot-com crash negatively affected a generation of investors, and though it was shorter-lived, it left a lasting impact. Most recently, the Great Recession of 2007-09. And though many businesses faced insurmountable challenges, others thrived. Here’s a look at some strategies leveraged by a few companies that came out stronger in the end.

Invest in Empathy

At the start of the Great Recession, Starbucks was struggling. The former king of coffee closed hundreds of stores, laid off thousands of employees, and was saddled with a pretentious image that alienated it in a time of financial insecurity. In 2008, under new (returning) CEO leadership, Starbucks immediately shifted focus to reignite the emotional attachment with its customers.

Starbucks developed a social program where customers could share ideas with each other and the company, giving input on products, services, in-store music and layout, and even corporate social responsibility. And Starbucks leadership listened—they implemented over 100 of their customer’s ideas! One of the first corporations to invest in a mobile app, Starbucks met its customers where they were, reigniting the brand by reestablishing trust, building a vibrant online community, and developing a devoted following.

Double Down on Brand

On the brink of disaster in 2008, Citigroup did an about-face, pivoting from a product-centered strategy to a client-first focus. Citigroup’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives became its driving force. It invested in understanding its individual customers, focusing on segments within each generation and catering to their diverse needs. Citigroup developed technology to measure customer feedback, allowing the bank to react and improve trust. It launched and maintained a social network presence that directly enhanced its brand image. The banking giant invested in its people, training and promoting top talent. Additionally, Citigroup segmented its products and services and operationalized a similar strategy for corporate, government, and business customers.

Since its near destruction in the Great Recession, Citigroup has focused on rebuilding its reputation and its been successful. The company continues to rank very highly in customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power, American Customer Satisfaction Index, and their steadily improving Net Promoter Score.

Market Smarter

Facing many challenges leading up to the Great Recession, Netflix invested in research and development and strategic marketing to not only survive the recession but thrive in it. Netflix was going up against Blockbuster and Redbox in the physical DVD rental space and struggling to win market share. But when consumer spending sharply dropped, Netflix not only doubled down on its convenient mail-order model of movie rental but, having taken note of the role played by video game consoles and the all-new Smart TV, it pioneered an alternative method of media consumption: online streaming offered at a price lower than that of cable and satellite providers. Through strategic partnerships, Netflix targeted consumers with gaming platforms, streaming devices, and Smart TVs to promote a low-cost, no-late-fee, convenient, in-home entertainment option. Exactly what the budget-conscious consumer wanted.

Netflix has continued to be a leader in data- and customer-driven integrated marketing, creating a seamless, personalized experience for its users across all demographic groups. It continually optimizes the user experience based on user preferences to actively engage customers, not only enhancing their experience, but informing Netflix’s user data so it can continue to effectively personalize its customers’ experiences.

Increase Operational Efficiency

When economic crises hit, simply lowering headcount and reducing costs across your budget can help in the short term. But the most resilient and top-performing companies to emerge from the Great Recession focused their energies on improving operational efficiency. This strategy not only helped businesses survive the recession but succeed beyond the economic downturn by maintaining their momentum. After the dot-com bubble burst, devastating the tech sector, Target took a daring but well-calculated approach. During the recession, Target drastically improved productivity and supply chain operations through strategic partnerships. Additionally, it increased its marketing and sales spend, ramped up investment in credit card programs, opened more stores, and grew its internet business. And these measures paid off handsomely. Over the course of the recession, Target saw increased sales and profits that lasted well after the economy righted itself.

Target continues to invest in operational efficiency. In 2020, coming out of a record-breaking year, Target invested heavily in fulfillment services and supply chain to reduce friction points and scale capabilities. Additionally, and equally important, Target continues to invest in technology to provide customers with a more personalized and streamlined experience, increasing loyalty and driving growth.

Recession-Proofing Recommendations and Approaches

While many businesses failed in past recessions and economic downturns, the businesses featured above show that investment in resilience strategies can help companies both navigate challenging markets and carry the benefits of those investments into the future. Understanding and optimizing your customers’ experiences, strategically marketing your products and services, defining and refining your brand, and increasing operational efficiencies are solid strategies to drive customer acquisition and loyalty, increase market share, and drive growth.

Economists have predicted a 40-70% probability of a global recession in the next 18 months. While there is uncertainty regarding when, to what degree, or even if we will enter a true recession, looming economic uncertainty poses many of the same challenges.

What Other Business Leaders Are Doing to Prepare

We spoke with partners and business leaders across multiple industries to find out how they’re preparing for a potential recession—what they’re doing to protect their businesses and, where possible, gain an advantage over their competitors. Read our in-depth report Recession Proof Your Business: CX Strategies for Recession Resilience for valuable insights, expert opinions, and strategic approaches on how to prepare your business to not only survive but thrive in a challenging economic environment.

Ready to Increase Your Business’s Recession Resilience?

There are a lot of questions surrounding the current economic environment, and whether or not we are technically in a recession or one is on the horizon, investment in a strong CX strategy will help position your business to withstand challenging economic conditions. Ready to learn more? Let’s chat!

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Do You Hate the New Instagram Update? You’re Not Alone

Why Has Instagram Made All of These Changes?

The short answer is: TikTok. Earlier this year, Meta (formally Facebook) announced that users are spending less time on its platforms and that they expect revenue growth to slow. This caused Meta’s stocks to drop 26%, resulting in a loss of  $232 billion. Meta chief, Mark Zuckerberg, said on the company’s call with investors in February, “People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly. And this is why our focus on Reels is so important over the long term.”


TikTok has done a great job engaging younger audiences with short-form videos and increasing their time spent on the app. This has been made possible with TikTok’s unique algorithm, which learns how each individual uses the platform and feeds them content accordingly. The more time you spend on the app, the more the app will understand which videos to show you. Cue the Instagram changes. At a high level, both platforms are serving video content to users based on their behaviors. So why is Instagram drawing backlash from users for taking a page from TikTok’s playbook? It’s all about the value proposition each offers for users. TikTok was designed as a video-centric platform, so recommending exclusively video content based on user behavior is consistent with what users expect from the platform. By contrast, Instagram started as a photo sharing platform allowing users to connect with friends and family through sharing images. By not just introducing video, but prioritizing video (including video from accounts users don’t follow) over photos from accounts users follow, Instagram’s changes undermine the value proposition for many of their users.

What Does This Mean for Paid Media?

While the changes to Instagram have been on the organic side of the platform, they could have a chilling effect on users that impacts paid advertising on the platform. If users decide to leave Instagram over the changes the platform is making, this could dramatically decrease the reach of advertisers. Additionally, if advertisers want to be effective on Instagram, they would need to modify their ad content to keep up with the changes Instagram is making. Video has proven to be a priority for Instagram, specifically videos made to fit into Reels, so advertisers would need to make ads tailored to Reels if they want to remain effective. Not only would videos need to be reformatted for a vertical  9:16 ratio but they would need to capture attention quickly which might mean using trending audio, a trending dance, or a trending challenge.


Lastly, if Instagram does in fact become more and more like TikTok, advertisers may need to shift their advertising strategy within Instagram. Users have been drawn to TikTok because they can sit on the app and scroll for hours while being entertained by video. While TikTok successfully launched ads in early 2019, the ads have shown to be great for brand awareness. A study by MediaScience® showed that TikTok ads drive strong brand recall and positive sentiment across various view durations. Brand awareness is great, but Instagram has done a  great job at driving direct conversions. If Instagram continues down this path to be similar to TikTok, ads on Instagram may not perform as well as they used to in the past in terms of CVR or ROAS. This is most likely because users are not as likely to click on an ad and make a purchase while they’re being entertained by videos, similar to YouTube, another platform great for awareness, but not as great for direct conversions.

What Should Advertisers Do?

Instagram is still an important platform to advertise on so advertisers must be prepared to adapt if they want their media dollars to be impactful on this channel. Instagram is a well-established, highly effective platform that reaches 1 billion users monthly, whereas TikTok reaches 689 million monthly users by comparison, and 72% of Instagram users cite that they have purchased a product they’ve seen on Instagram. Being able to leverage Instagram alongside TikTok is the key to success. This will help ensure a wide reach among advertisers’ target audiences and exposure on a platform with proven results.


To continue success on Instagram advertisers need to stay up to date with the changes that Instagram is making and the overall trends with social media channels. This is a great time to start creating videos specifically for Instagram Reels and testing them in Reels-only campaigns. While Instagram has delayed some of the rollouts they had planned due to the backlash, it isn’t likely that they will stop pushing Reels. Advertisers need to get ahead of the curve and shift their strategy to align with Instagram’s shifting strategy. It’s in the best interest of advertisers to align their social media ad content with Instagram’s ambition to push Reels as they try to stay competitive with TikTok. Pro Tip: most trends find their way on both platforms.
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What’s the Big Deal with Consumer Data Privacy?

Data has become the fuel that fires successful business strategy. From achieving a 360-degree view of your customer to drive a stronger customer experience to moving beyond measuring marketing program performance to predicting consumer behavior in response to marketing stimuli, a strong data strategy makes it possible. As powerful as the relationship between organizations and their data can be, this has become secondary to the relationship between consumers and their personal data.

 

In the last few years, concerns about consumer data privacy have dominated conversations about how data is collected and used by businesses. With Europe leading the United States in terms of the stringency of consumer data privacy legislation around the collection and use of consumer data, US-based companies, marketers, advertising partners, and data brokers have been watching from a relative distance as those serving global audiences have grappled with the impact of European data privacy laws and, in some cases, suffered from fines and even bans for missing the mark. 

 

For those serving the US market, Google’s 2020 announcement that they would phase out support for third party cookies signaled that broad reaching changes to consumer data privacy were coming stateside. Two years later, marketers and publishers have found ways to navigate a world where consumers have significantly more control over their data. With Google announcing that they will no longer collect data in Universal Analytics properties starting July 1, 2023—a move that will provide a more holistic view of the consumer journey while also adapting to new consumer data privacy legislation—many companies are scrambling to plan for that change to avoid potential data loss. With Google Analytics serving as the primary web analytics platform for an estimated 86% of websites, the impact is far-reaching.

 

So what should companies be doing, both in the near term and the long term, to set themselves up for success in an increasingly data privacy-focused world? We’ve got recommendations to help you make the right moves now to protect data integrity and continuity in the face of forced migration away from Universal Analytics and to evolve your data privacy strategy for the long run. But long-term success requires a big picture view of where the world is headed when it comes to consumer data privacy. That begins with understanding how we got here in the first place.

The Evolution of Consumer Data Privacy Legislation

In 1950, the European Convention on Human Rights put a legislative stake in the ground on privacy, stating that “Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.” With the invention of the Internet and the proliferation of global technologies that completely changed what “correspondence” could look like, the European Union had to adapt and they implemented the European Data Protection Directive in 1995, which set minimum standards for consumer data privacy and security.

 

In 2012, the European Commission introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with the primary aim of giving individuals control over their personal data and to simplify regulations within the EU. The GDPR became enforceable in 2018 and established a model for many national data privacy laws in countries such as Chile, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Argentina, and Kenya. As of today, the United States government has no single consumer data privacy law similar to the GDPR. Instead, the U.S. takes a ‘sectoral’ approach, which relies on a combination of legislation, regulation, and self-regulation rather than government regulation alone.

 

While the GDPR was taking shape in Europe, the state of California introduced the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This state statute enhances consumer data privacy rights and consumer protection for California residents. When the CCPA passed in 2018, many companies and industry groups came out in favor of passing a federal consumer data privacy law. Now, California has gone a step further, introducing the California Privacy Right Act (AKA CA Prop 24). The CPRA imposes new requirements for businesses to protect personal information, including minimizing data collection, limiting data retention and protecting data security.

Why is Data Privacy and Security Strategy Important to Google?

As companies serving European audiences have begun adapting to more stringent consumer data privacy regulations, the degree to which US-based data platforms comply with those regulations hasn’t been cut and dry, with contradictions in policy complicating the issue. For example, a 2020 judgment from the Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield, a legal framework designed to allow enterprises in both the US and the EU to exchange personal data for commercial use. Because the US surveillance laws like the CLOUD Act require data disclosure from US-based companies when requested by the government, the EU-US Privacy Shield was ruled to provide inadequate protection to comply with GDPR requirements. This left a lot of companies and data platforms, Google being the largest, scrambling to address compliance gaps. That’s where GA4 comes in.

 

For the majority of US-based companies, migration to GA4, the fourth iteration of Google Analytics released by the company in 2020, is a likely part of the near-term strategy for complying with consumer data privacy legislation. Google released additional privacy controls in April of 2022 to further shore up the platform’s compliance with GDPR. Then they upped the ante for all companies using Google Analytics, whether they serve international audiences or not, by announcing that data collection via Universal Analytics, the predecessor to GA4, would stop July 1, 2023. While migration to GA4 or some other data platform is a pressing concern for most digital marketers and technology teams (and if you’re in that boat, we can help you with your GA4 migration), this is also an opportunity for both to come together to craft long-term, big-picture strategies focused on the very human emotion behind these technical shifts in data handling: the desire for trust.

What Does Consumer Data Privacy Mean for Your Data Strategy?

Experience defines how people feel about your brand and your business. Trust is built when brands and businesses consistently create experiences that deliver value to the people who interact with them while making them feel safe. Rather than focusing on the short-term proposition of choosing a new data platform, companies will be better served by focusing on long-term strategies for capturing, storing, and utilizing first-party data. Not only will this better equip marketers to navigate consumer data privacy regulations restricting third-party tracking capabilities, but it will create more valuable experiences for consumers, earning their trust and increasing the likelihood that they’ll willingly share their data based on the expectation of receiving value from that exchange. Here are some big-picture considerations for your long-term strategy for data privacy:

Prioritizing Data Ownership

Companies whose data privacy strategies prioritize data ownership will be better positioned to succeed as access to second- and third-party data becomes more limited. Customer databases and CRMs can be treasure troves of first-party data companies already have access to and can begin leveraging. Creating and gating high-value content or using other incentive-based strategies can be an effective way to convert zero-party data while offering consumers something of value. Investment in your data insights infrastructures is also critical for enabling a strategy for data privacy that also makes the most effective use of owned data to inform marketing strategy and drive performance..

Investing in Deep Knowledge of the Customer

Intimate knowledge of the customer has always been a foundational part of an effective marketing strategy. As shifts in the consumer data privacy landscape are leading the targeting capabilities available on third-party marketing platforms to become less precise, depth of knowledge of the customer will increasingly become a competitive advantage. The companies that know their customers best, from knowing and documenting their demographic and socioemotional characteristics in persona profiles to understanding how they verbalize their needs and pain points through search, to mapping their thoughts and behaviors throughout the customer journey, will be able to mitigate the impact that ongoing changes in the consumer data privacy landscape might have on their business.

Resisting Overreliance on Low-funnel Tactics

When it comes to marketing strategy in general and paid media strategy in particular, many companies are over-indexed in low-funnel investment. Given their proximity to the point of conversion, it’s easier for companies to draw a direct line from investment in these tactics to tangible returns. The truth is, that’s always been short lived in its effectiveness. Without investing in activity that feeds the funnel by introducing unaware audiences to your brand, the volume of those who make it to the bottom will dwindle over time. As new consumer data privacy regulations change the way success is defined and performance is measured, building the kinds of consumer relationships that drive long-term growth will take on renewed importance. Implementing full-funnel marketing strategies with content that attracts and engages customers throughout the customer journey rather than an overreliance on low-funnel paid media tactics will help companies maximize audience reach and create momentum throughout the funnel.

Moving Beyond a One-size-fits-all Customer Experience

According to a BCG and Google joint survey on consumer privacy and preferences, consumers are interested in the benefits that come from marketers’ ability to deliver a data-informed experience, like personalized content and increased content relevance. But consumer willingness to provide the data needed to create those benefits vary greatly by segment based on the kind of data being sought and consumers’ perceptions about how it will be used. Rewards programs, loyalty points, discounts, VIP programs, and content gating can help companies create the kind of value that consumers want to see in exchange for their data. But the research indicates that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t be effective. Companies that invest in understanding their audiences, segmenting them effectively, and creating segment-specific experiences will be better equipped to create value and inspire trust among their customers.

What Is Your Strategy for Data Privacy, Now and in the Future?

The kinds of monumental shifts we’re seeing driven by an evolving consumer data privacy regulation landscape present an opportunity for forward-thinking brands to advance businesses. While ensuring you have an effective, compliant data platform implemented in time to avoid data loss as Google sunsets Universal Analytics is a critical immediate move, this is a great time to explore your overall strategy for data privacy and measurement along the journey of your customers or users. And if you aren’t clear on the current or ideal journey to drive acquisition, engagement, and loyalty, now is the time to prioritize that discovery work. All to say, this is an opportunity not just to migrate today, but to position your company to advance and transform for tomorrow. If you’re looking for immediate GA4 migration support or you’re interested in transforming your CX to be more consumer-centric and first-party data-driven, contact us today.

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GA4 Implementation Strategies and Solutions: 5 Key Questions to Prepare You for Migration

Many companies rely on Google Analytics to support their data strategies. In fact, with an estimated 86% of websites using Google Analytics as their primary web analytics platform, Google is squarely the market leader in the web analytics space. The current version of Google Analytics (GA), officially called Universal Analytics (UA), was launched in 2012. Since then it has seen many updates and evolutions, but Google is officially deprecating the tool in 2023, and GA4 will be the only analytics platform available from Google. This is not just Google officially ending support for UA, but disabling data collection through the platform altogether, leaving any organization using UA without an active analytics platform. While Google Analytics is just one component of the data strategy framework (this article lays out broader data privacy considerations and insights relevant to data strategy), it’s a critical one. The deprecation of Universal Analytics will have tactical and strategic impacts for companies that rely on the platform and now is the time to ensure you have the support you need for a successful GA4 implementation.

 

The standard implementations of Universal Analytics will stop receiving new data on July 1, 2023 and the premium Google Analytics 360 implementations of UA will stop receiving new data on October 1, 2023. This may seem far in the future, but avoiding data gaps through this transition requires parallel implementation of GA4 alongside UA before data collection through the latter stops. Companies using Universal Analytics that delay their GA4 implementation could experience significant negative impact to their data strategy, such as the loss of YOY reporting during the time between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023 in which data was not being collected in GA4.

 

Beyond the need to ensure data continuity, migrating to GA4 can unlock some new features and capabilities not previously available in Universal Analytics. But because there are quite a few differences between the new and legacy platforms, the sooner brands familiarize themselves with GA4, the more prepared they’ll be to make the most of what it can do. If you’re preparing to make the move to GA4, here are answers to 5 big questions that will help you make a smooth transition and set your data strategy up for success.

1. GA4 vs. Universal Analytics: What’s the Difference?

GA4 is designed to reflect the changes in consumer behavior that have happened over the past decade. Consumers are using multiple devices constantly, and data collection methodologies need to allow for collection of data from multiple devices. Additionally, with ongoing changes to data privacy regulations, new approaches will be needed to define and measure success. Here are some of the advantages that GA4 offers when it comes to data collection and analysis:

New Features in GA4

Improved cross-device tracking

Universal Analytics was mostly constrained to using device ID to identify users, with user ID functionality limited to only a few reports. GA4 uses a combination of device ID, user ID, and Google signals to identify users across devices, allowing for more accurate digital analytics and customer journey analysis during an ever changing cross-device, cookie-less landscape.

Enhanced machine learning and automation

In response to the growing concerns around data privacy, GA4 will utilize enhanced machine learning and automation to help compensate for the absence of signals advertisers have historically relied on. Additionally, these enhancements will help advertisers predict future behavior of their consumers so that advertisers can better forecast metrics like purchase probability and predicted revenue. 

Advanced exploration reports

Another big difference between Universal Analytics and GA4 is how reporting is done. UA has many standard reports, but lacks flexibility when it comes to customized reporting. GA4 has fewer standard reports, but the reporting suite has enabled much greater ability to build custom reports. For example, the current UA reports are limited to two dimensions (e.g. Page and Channel), but GA4 reporting allows for as many dimensions as needed. With the greater ability to add segments, dimensions, and metrics, users can perform deeper analysis, such as looking at conversion funnels or cohort analysis. These custom reports will also minimize the need for GA data export and the use of external data processing programs to run pivots or perform other analysis.

BigQuery export

Previously only available for 360 customers, BigQuery export functionality is available to all GA4 properties. This allows you to download and store raw GA4 data so you can join and enrich your GA data with other marketing/CRM/business data, report in your visualization tool of choice, and take advantage of many other advanced analysis opportunities.

2. What happens to the data I have collected through Universal Analytics

Once the deprecation happens, the data in Universal Analytics will become read only for at least six months. Google has not officially published an exact end date for data access at the time of this article’s writing. However, the data will be available to export into a database tool such as BigQuery. Creating a data backup is a recommended step as it will enable data harmonization with new data collected through GA4 as well as other data sources.

3. When is the Best Time for GA4 Migration?

The time to plan your GA4 implementation is now. GA4 is currently available and while more features are planned for the future, many are already available for use. Additionally, there are aspects to all GA4 implementations that were previously only available to users of Universal Analytics 360, Google’s premium analytics platform. Getting experience with these new features will help current users of the free UA platform explore the full range of possibilities of GA4.

 

That said, setting up GA4 is not as simple as flipping a switch. There is a learning curve to the implementation that will require an appropriate investment of time. Once the initial implementation is complete, QA will be required to see how data aligns with what is currently being gathered. The sooner your GA4 implementation is completed, the more time you’ll have for that QA. Once that QA is complete, any commonly used reports or data visualizations will need to be updated.

 

For a more granular view of the steps you need to take to successfully migrate, check out our GA4 Implementation Checklist below.

4. How Do I Prepare for GA4 Implementation?

From a broader perspective, this is an opportunity to evaluate what conversions are being tracked and whether they align with the current state of your business. A thorough audit of your current Google Analytics implementation, discussions with key stakeholders, and review of existing reports will enable a clean implementation of GA4 that will provide the exact data and insights needed. All of this work will take time, and the sooner implementation occurs, the longer the period of adjustment and refinement will be.

Whether you’re tackling GA4 implementation on your own or request support from Tallwave, there are a few key steps that will help you prepare for and execute a smooth transition to GA4:

  • Audit Your Current Google Analytics Implementation: Conducting a thorough assessment of your existing Google Analytics implementation and Google Tag Manager configurations will help you prepare a mapping strategy to transition your existing UA tags to an improved GA4 setup.
  • Build Your Tracking Implementation: Creating a comprehensive implementation guide that documents in detail the UA-to-GA4 mapping strategy and key configurations for GA4 will help ensure that your new GA4 property is configured properly, including setting up key property settings (Google Ads linking, Google Signals enablement, attribution settings, etc), Google Tag Manager configuration, and event and conversion tracking.
  • Conduct a Thorough QA: Carefully validating your new GA4 implementation against your existing UA implementation will allow you to quickly identify and resolve any major discrepancies and uncover any unanticipated differences based on GA4’s revised event-based data model.

Need GA4 Solutions? Tallwave Has Answers

While change is never easy, it is in this case necessary. The good news is that there’s still time to take the necessary steps to make this a smooth transition. Use this time to reflect on what data you need to make the best decisions for the success of your digital marketing. GA4 has many features ready and in the pipeline that will provide much deeper insights and understanding of what is driving success. With proper planning (and the right partner) this can be a net positive change. If you need support for your GA4 implementation, contact us today.

Want the GA4 Implementation Checklist? Download our full insights.

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Make Way for Mom: Why Better Employee Experiences for Working Mothers Is the New Competitive Advantage

The Women in the Workplace 2021 report from Lean In and McKinsey & Co. highlighted that all the slow but measurable gains women have made in all levels of management could be wiped out in a single year by the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on women in the workplace. In fact, the report finds that more than one in three women may downshift or leave their careers as a result. This impact is compounded for working mothers, particularly those with young children, who feel scrutinized for taking advantage of options that make balancing work and the demands of home and family easier and are less likely to feel comfortable sharing their personal struggles with others. 

More than one in three women may downshift or leave their careers as a result of the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on women in the workforce.

At Tallwave, we believe experience is everything. Employee and customer experiences are inextricably linked—great employee experience is a key driver of great customer experience. It’s impossible to sustain one without the other. Conversely, when companies create employment experiences that fail women, they’re setting themselves up to fail their customers. With women making up 51% of the overall population and 57.8% of the labor force, losing ground on female representation in the workplace could have devastating effects. The state of our female workforce hangs in the balance, and with it, the health of the companies that depend on their valuable contributions.   Also read: Crafting Employee Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences  Here at Tallwave, 54% of our employees are women, which means more than half the work taken on by our company—and more than half of the value we create for clients—is in the hands of women. As a customer experience design company, it’s important for us to both reflect on the experiences we’re creating for the women among our own ranks and to serve as a thought leader for brands that recognize the unbreakable link between EX and CX. So we did something far too few companies do. We invited a group of working mothers at Tallwave to get together for a discussion facilitated by our VP of Marketing, a working mother of three herself, to share their perspectives on what’s working within employment experience for working mothers, what’s not, and the recommendations they have to help companies better support women. 

Create Space for Employees to Bring Their “Whole Selves” to Work

The idea of needing to give employees an invitation to be who they are at work may seem startling, but what we discovered from our group of Tallwave moms was that the ability to bring your “whole self” to work, including sharing the demands you face at home and the need to harmonize them with the demands of work, is not a given. For Martha Schulzinger, a program manager at Tallwave and mother of two, the ability to be her authentic self at work isn’t something she takes for granted. “Tallwave has proven time and time again that I can be my authentic self and I won’t be shunned for it. I’ve worked in some pretty toxic places where you can’t bring your whole self to work and it’s a constant struggle.”    Her experience in an environment that embraces her entire identity, including the demands of motherhood, has also led to deeper bonds with colleagues and even clients who have seen her in “mom mode.”  “Being able to be your authentic self and knowing the people you work with aren’t going to judge you if you have a kid there with you in the room has been kind of magical. My teammates have seen my kids grow up. Even some of our clients have seen my three-month-old become a two-year-old. They’ve seen him grow as he’s come in and out of the screen, and that’s pretty neat.”   But Martha acknowledges that openly sharing the demands she’s juggling at home wasn’t necessarily something she was immediately willing to do, and she credits colleagues, particularly Senior Consultant and fellow mother of two, Erin Nielsen, with helping her find the courage to be more open about the challenges she faces as a working mom. “Erin has been a role model for me. In the very early days of the pandemic, she had her kids on camera and I was very afraid to do that. But she showed up like a total boss, just owning whatever it was that she needed to talk about. She was present, then the kids would come in, she’d handle them, and come right back to whatever she was doing without skipping a beat. And I was like, ‘Okay, I can do that, too.’ I’m really thankful to her for that.”     For Erin, it was simply a question of what she was and wasn’t willing to sacrifice as the pandemic caused her personal and professional worlds to collide. “When I realized we weren’t going to be home for two weeks and then go back to the office, I took a step back and asked myself, ‘How do I want to act through this?’ I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my kids’ happiness and pretend they weren’t here so I could keep working. I don’t think I made a conscious decision to test my company, but I’m a mom first and I’m never going to not be.” She decided it wasn’t worth pretending her reality was anything other than it was. “I chose to be my authentic self. And if I got pushback or didn’t feel safe, then I’d know I wasn’t in the right place and that it was time to move on. And I found what I was hoping I’d find, which was a supportive group of people, which was really cool to see.”  Recommendation from the Moms: In both Martha’s and Erin’s cases, their decisions to stop trying to hide what was happening at home wasn’t inspired by overt assurances of support and acceptance, even though that’s ultimately what they found in their colleagues. So what’s the takeaway for companies trying to do better for moms? Don’t assume the mothers in your employ feel welcome to bring their whole selves to work if you haven’t made the invitation. If employees aren’t being explicitly encouraged to be open about how their personal lives impact work or at least seeing leadership model the choices they’re making to balance these often competing demands, they may assume they won’t be supported if they do.  

Know the Difference between Sympathy and Empathy and the Value of Both

While experiencing the sympathetic support of colleagues and managers was a common theme for all the Tallwave moms in our conversation, so was the desire for the kind of empathetic support that shared experience creates. Overwhelmingly, they felt genuinely supported by their direct managers. But in many cases, their direct managers had never been working mothers themselves. As working moms, they craved support from others who’d shared their experiences and they’ve been grateful to find it in other colleagues outside their direct reporting structures. Looking back on her professional experience prior to having children, Erin acknowledged the limitations of her own understanding. “You just don’t get it when you’re not a parent. I certainly didn’t get it, and I put my foot in my mouth plenty of times before I was a parent.”    Experiential empathy creates deeper understanding, but it can also inspire hope. Many working mothers perceive their career goals, what it takes to achieve them, and how much they can afford to give as incompatible. But having access to other women who have grappled with the demands of working motherhood helps them challenge their own perceptions. This was especially meaningful for Sierra Dommin, Business Analysis Manager at Tallwave. “That statistic about more than one in three women putting their career aspirations on hold really spoke to me. I really want to take the next step in my career and it’s not that I don’t think I have that opportunity at Tallwave. It’s that I don’t feel like I can seize it right now because my kids are so young and I just don’t know how to balance it all. I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread. I feel like I have to just stick it out because adding another stressor to my plate will tip me, and my family will suffer. These two things that are both so important to me seem impossible to reconcile. It makes me feel stuck and it’s really frustrating.” But hearing the experiences of other working moms, particularly those who were further into their motherhood journeys, made her feel more optimistic. “Where I am with my kids and my career, just seeing someone else who’s been through it brings relief. Knowing that others have faced similar challenges and that they’re still here gives me hope.” For working mothers, being fully present for your family and fully engaged in your family feel like binary choices. And no matter which you make, you end up on the losing end. For Martha, the cost of leaning into her career is guilt. “I’m so happy to be at Tallwave and to have challenges in front of me in my career. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. But every night I go to bed with so much guilt because I’m not present with my children. I work from home and they’re right here with me. They want me to play with them and I can’t because I’m working. I go to bed early so I can have a few hours of productive work time before the kids get up, so I’m mentally drained and too exhausted to do anything for myself.”     As Martha is quick to point out, it’s not that her colleagues aren’t supportive. Many simply don’t share her experience. “My coworkers are amazing and I love them. But there’s just no way for them to fully understand. In between meetings, maybe they refresh their cup of coffee but I’m changing blow-out diapers. As much as I want to give more to my work, I’m also giving so much at home that there’s just nothing left.” This strikes a chord with Erin, too. “I adore my coworkers, all of them. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how those who don’t have children have come to the table. But you just don’t get it if you’re not in it. Talking to other moms who have confronted the same things we’re facing—putting up boundaries, finding your own happiness, living through the endless juggle of work and family—these little nuggets go such a long way.” Recommendation from the Moms: Access to other women striving to harmonize careers and families is an incredibly powerful tool for working mothers. Awareness of other working mothers—particularly those in leadership positions—improves visibility, empowering working moms to feel more seen, heard, and represented. The ability to discuss the shared experience of working motherhood helps working moms find support, seek advice, and draw inspiration. For working mothers whose direct supervisors don’t share their experience, it’s particularly important to provide other paths of access, like employee resource groups, mentorship programs, organized meet-ups, and discussion forums. 

Recognize that Making Work Better for Women Isn’t Women’s Work  

For women who are accustomed to serving as constant problem solvers on the home front, solutioning, actioning, and accommodating may come naturally. But far too often, companies are content to let working moms solve their workplace problems alone, starting with the transition from maternity leave.  While some of the mothers who participated in our conversation had employers who created comfortable places for new moms to pump, that was generally the extent of the effort their past companies put into helping them successfully navigate workforce re-entry. Reflecting on her returns to work after having her two children, Erin’s experience aligned to those of virtually everyone else on the call. “You come back and you’re stressed out and that never stops because you’re trying to figure out how to be a first-time mother, and then a mother of two or three or more on top of everything else. And it’s always on you to figure it out and you just don’t feel like there’s any support there. You’re expected to perform at the exact same level while you’re trying to find time to pump or nurse. You’re forced to start making choices between meeting work expectations and the expectations you had for how you’d care for your baby. And those forced choices never stop.” As companies look to advance their goals and initiatives, supported in large part by working mothers, they rarely consider the personal impact of the work that working moms must take on. For Chelsey Gloetzner, Product Design Manager at Tallwave, she recognizes that fully embracing the work that excites her may come at a personal cost. “We have a lot of women in leadership, which is fantastic. As we’re pursuing large goals, a lot of moms are doing the work. I recognize my responsibilities in supporting our goals as a manager, and I’m pumped to do it. But I also don’t want to put in an extra two hours every single night to get projects over the line and miss my kids’ childhoods. As companies set goals, they need to recognize how the associated work trickles down to parents.” As Erin is quick to note, the trickle-down responsibilities don’t just come from companies’ revenue and growth goals—culture-building initiatives are often disproportionately driven by women. In fact, the Women in the Workplace 2021 report finds that compared to men at the same level, female managers take more supportive actions with their teams, helping them manage workloads and keeping a pulse on their overall wellbeing. The report also finds that women in senior-level positions are twice as likely as male counterparts to spend substantial time beyond their normal job responsibilities on diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives. Throughout her career, Erin has seen not just women, but in many cases working mothers, step up to the plate more than their fair share. “Ensuring our teams are coming together, that people feel rewarded, that there’s a balance of face time and fun activities in our work and that company culture is being strengthened, all those types of activities that keep the ship afloat are often led by mothers because we care and naturally step up. But we can’t keep bearing the brunt of treating the office like our family. We have nothing else to give.”

Compared to men at the same level, female managers take more supportive actions with their teams, helping them manage workloads and keeping a pulse on their overall wellbeing. Women in senior-level positions are also twice as likely as male counterparts to spend substantial time beyond their normal job responsibilities on diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives.

Recommendation from the Moms: With women making up well over half of the workforce, companies must recognize that every business decision they make will inevitably impact women. And for the working mothers among them, the impact may be much more difficult to absorb. It’s important to recognize that barriers to success for working mothers are barriers to success for their companies, and they should be treated that way. That means rather than leaving working mothers to fend for themselves in an inhospitable working environment, companies should be enlisting allyship from across their ranks to create an environment that better supports them. This can include things like:

 

  • Confronting gender bias head on. From addressing big-picture issues—like equal pay and advancement—to challenging common daily implicit biases by resisting an overreliance on women to fulfill administrative and culture-building duties, and addressing overt sexism in the moment, a better workplace for working mothers starts with a better workplace for women in general.     
  • Investing in allyship development programs to drive awareness of and support for women in general and working mothers especially.
  • Training managers in active listening and leadership techniques to better equip them to not just listen but to seek to understand what working mothers need to help them succeed in their careers. 
  • Considering the disproportionate burden of emotional labor that women face in company decision making. With women carrying greater responsibility for household chores and caretaking than men, scheduling meetings over lunch, allowing meetings to run late, or requiring sustained >40 hour work weeks will have a bigger impact on working mothers than their counterparts. 
  • Institutionalize support as much as possible and model utilization at the leadership level. Offering things like flexible work schedules, child care, parental leave, job sharing options, and parental leave reintegration support can go a long way toward creating a more hospitable environment for working mothers. Seeing those supports used by company leaders sends an even stronger message.
  • Actively advocate for moms transitioning back to work after maternity leave. The difference between passive support for new mothers to “take the time they need” and actively supporting them through formal programs and resources can be transformational for new mothers returning to work. Companies that know, attend to, and proactively advocate for the rights of working mothers under the Family & Medical Leave Act and Fair Labor Standards Act by helping them become more knowledgeable about their rights and having defined programs and/or policies in place for things like altered work schedules and appropriate pumping/nursing accommodations will be at a significant advantage in keeping working mothers engaged and retaining them over time. 

Final Thoughts

No company succeeds by leaving women behind. While that’s rarely the intent, it’s the inevitable result of not taking deliberate action. At Tallwave, creating an inclusive culture for all employees, including working mothers, has been an ongoing focus. Like most companies, we know we still have work to do. But the fact that this group of Tallwave moms felt safe sharing their experiences, perspectives, and recommendations openly wasn’t the result of simply inviting them to. This kind of open exchange is possible because we make deliberate choices to create an environment where employees feel safe speaking up. Maintaining this kind of culture takes conscious, continuous effort, but it’s an investment we know is well worth making.

 

Companies that create supportive, empowering employment experiences for working mothers not only unlock greater potential from their workforces than those that don’t, but they also unleash an incredibly diverse and powerful set of skills. After all, few experiences are as effective at developing the kind of patience, creativity, resourcefulness, problem solving, critical thinking, negotiation, diplomacy, tenacity, optimism, and commitment that motherhood requires. And few customers are as unreasonably demanding as children. By creating the conditions that help working mothers succeed in the workplace, companies just might discover that the key to unlocking their own potential has been there all along.

 

Special Thanks

Tallwave would like to thank the incredible working mothers below who shared their perspectives for this piece and all the women of Tallwave whose efforts are instrumental in our success and the success of our clients.

 

Caroline Meehean

Chelsey Gloetzner

Erin Nielsen

Jen Bonfilio

Jes Pumo

Martha Schulzinger

Sierra Dommin

 

Categories
Strategy

8 Signs Your CX May be Headed for Heartbreak

For consumers, strong CX is the universal love language. Nothing shows your customers you care like the ability to truly understand and attend to their needs. But as with any relationship, brands and their customers inevitably experience ups and downs. When there’s more of the latter than the former, customers will do what any of us would do in an unfulfilling relationship: they break it off. The good news is, there are almost always signs that can signal you and your customers may be headed for a breakup. The key is to recognize them so you can take action before your brand ends up in the lonely hearts club.

 

We recently attended a virtual conference with CX leaders from a wide range of market verticals and industries. Through every keynote, roundtable, and one-on-one discussion we had, we saw a consistent trend in how the indicators used to evaluate the strengths and opportunities within the customer experience are shifting. Traditional CX metrics like customer satisfaction and net promoter scores have long been used to provide a holistic read on customer engagement levels and how they change over time. But increasingly, CX leaders are recognizing that these traditional metrics are really lagging indicators – they highlight that a problem has already occurred, but offer limited utility when it comes to taking action.

 

How can CX leaders identify early when friction is occurring and take action before it translates to a hit to their holistic engagement metrics downstream? It’s all about narrowing focus to specific make-or-break moments within the customer experience and leveraging the operational metrics tied to those moments as leading indicators of the overall strength of the customer experience. Here are 8 signals of distress to look for at key CX make-or-break moments:

Moment of Consideration

Within the customer journey, the moment of recognition is the first time your product, brand or service registers and creates an impression with a potential customer. This often happens when a potential customer bumps into your brand out in the wild, whether they’re served an ad, read about you through earned media, learn about you from an influencer, or even hear about you through word of mouth. Whatever their path to exposure, the moment of consideration comes when that exposure connects to a consumer’s need and inspires them to consider the solutions you have to offer. What happens (or doesn’t happen) immediately following that moment can signal trouble:

  • Site Bounce Rate: Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website who leave without navigating beyond the page they land on. If you’ve been successful enough in that moment of recognition to inspire a prospective customer to take the action of visiting your website but the experience when they get there isn’t compelling enough to drive further consideration, it’s time to evaluate the strength of your CX in these early moments of the customer journey.
  • Winding Paths: There are many potential navigation paths through any given website. But paths that follow a logical sequence for consideration are fewer. If your path to conversion data shows that prospective customers seem to take the “scenic route” and miss key consideration content on your website, that can signal that prospective customers aren’t finding what they need.

Moment of Commitment

If you’ve made a positive impression on a prospective customer and inspired them to take action to actively consider your product or service as a solution to their need, the next make-or-break moment in the customer journey is the moment of commitment. This is the moment a consumer demonstrates real intent. But there are signs that can indicate barriers in customers’ paths:

  • Failure to Advance in Conversion Flows: For any digital experience, there are high-value actions you want consumers to take. Taking those actions often requires customers to complete multiple steps. If you’re seeing significantly high drop-off at one of these steps compared to the others, that can signal that the customer is encountering friction at that point in the process.
  • Cart Abandonment Rates: The act of putting a product into a cart is a big signal of purchase intent, but there are a number of reasons a customer might not complete the purchase process. If you’re seeing significant and persistently high cart abandonment rates, it likely signals friction in your purchase process.
  • Inconsistent Conversion Rates Across Platforms: Depending on the nature of the commitment you’re asking customers to make, you may see higher frequency of conversion on desktop vs. mobile or vice versa. However, when the rate of conversion varies drastically across platforms, it’s often a signal that customers are encountering friction on one platform that they aren’t on the other.

Moments of Doubt

Moments of doubt happen when a customer has a less-than-ideal experience. For any brand, it’s not a question of if this moment will come—it’s a question of when and what to do about it. For brands that think ahead and craft a strong CX to support these moments, these are golden opportunities to earn brand loyalty. These indicators can signal how well your brand holds up in moments of doubt:

  • Ineffective Call Deflection: Providing customers with effective digital means to resolve problems, either before or during a call for customer support, can be a win/win. It’s a more cost-effective way for brands to solve customer issues and it’s often faster and more convenient for customers. That is, unless the self-service options create a whole new set of problems. If customers deflected to digital self-serve channels are returning to the phone to get their issues resolved, this can signal friction in your self-service UX.
  • Inconsistencies in Inbound Support Requests: When you receive an inbound support request, something has already gone wrong in the eyes of the customer. When something goes wrong in the process of getting help, it doubles the frustration. If you’re seeing sudden spikes or drops in inbound support requests, that can signal an issue within your support systems, which could lead to failing customers not once, but twice.
  • Issue Resolution Time: When it comes to the time it takes to resolve customer issues, extremes are the enemy. Call times that are extremely short can signal that customers may be getting shortchanged by agents that are too eager to get off the phone. Conversely, call times that are too long can indicate that agents are running into trouble and aren’t able to resolve issues efficiently. Issue resolution time on either end of the spectrum can signal unresolved issues and unhappy customers.

BONUS

A classic signal of a struggling CX at any moment is good old fashioned customer feedback. If the experience you’re delivering isn’t living up to your customers’ expectations, they’ll talk about it to you, to their friends, and potentially to the world via social media and other public digital forums. 

Bottom Line

Once you’ve seen the signs from your customers that there’s trouble in paradise, what you do about it could mean the difference between making up and breaking up. A strong CX strategy could be just the therapy you need to keep your brand and your customer together. We’ve got the CX Enhancement Solutions you need to write your happily ever after.

Categories
Uncategorized

Data Driven Insights into the Evolving Customer Experience

Data-Driven Insights into the Evolving Customer Experience

Pre & Post-Pandemic
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The world as we know it has changed forever. Or has it?

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The effects of COVID-19 were immediate and felt by every industry and business across the globe. Customer behaviors and expectations changed overnight as fear and anxiety swept through communities, resulting in pandemic trepidation. Some businesses struggled to restock products that were flying off shelves, while others were directed to lock their doors and go home. 

 

Events and experiences of all types – especially traumatic ones – shape customer behavior, expectations, and needs. Since the initial onset of COVID-19, analysts and forecasters predicted that buyers’ behaviors would change for good, and businesses would permanently change – pivoting from prioritizing convenience and cost to safety and wellbeing. Following suit, automotive brands began reimagining how they could incorporate mask holders and anti-microbial features into vehicles. Brick & mortars started redesigning spatial layouts and offering curbside experiences.

But instead of latching onto a single line of thinking and blindly following the suggested “new normal” best practices for our clients and their customers, we took pause. How do you validate where you really want your business and the experiences you craft to go? Is incorporating health and safety precautions more important than overburdening the customer? Do you continue to invest in something without first confirming it’s what customers really want? 

 

Best practices are guidelines to be referenced, not hard and fast rules. In fact, innovators and market leaders who want to implement experiences of tomorrow shouldn’t be followers. Curiosity and critical thinking should lead the way. Uncovering pockets of opportunity that can change market strategies and transform experiences should be the goal. 

 

That’s why we gathered insights to facilitate a different type of conversation. Is safety indeed the number one priority for customers across demographics and customer groups moving into a post-pandemic world? Or will businesses see digital experiences abandoned and customers eagerly flooding their physical stores? 

 

We have to admit, the results of our research surprised us. And they might surprise you, too. 

About the
survey

The Data-Driven Insights Into Evolving Customer Experience Report relied on quantitative research, surveying 1,010 individuals ages 24-65+ from across the U.S. through the Harmon Research consumer panel. Respondents were asked a series of questions in order to understand changing customer behaviors, perceptions, and needs before, during, and after COVID-19.

 

The online quantitative survey was conducted in April 2021. Some of those surveyed work from home, while others work in an office. Income levels varied, as well.

1,010

Individuals surveyed from across the U.S.

24-65+

The average age of individuals surveyed about their COVID-19 experience

Key Highlights

Customer behavior changed as a result of the pandemic, but not as starkly as we initially believed it would. While respondents willingly tried several new customer experiences during COVID-19, they also yearn to return to in-person experiences that were the norm in 2019.

Convenience Is Still King

Convenience is still King when it comes to developing experiences that meet customer expectations and needs. Despite many brands focusing on health and safety, survey respondents clearly identified convenience as their top expectation and need. Safety came in second with all age brackets, with the exception of Gen Z.

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Digital Experiences Increase Customer Sentiment

Majority of respondents who used digital experience provided by businesses during COVID-19 reported a more favorable impression of the business, proving that flexibility to choose their own “adventure” is essential for the post-COVID customer.

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Hybrid Experiences Are More Important Than Ever

More than half of respondents said they want to return to in-person experiences once COVID-19 is over. This highlights a need for brick & mortars to connect in-person with digital experiences in stores to offer one cohesive, seamless experience that empowers customer engagement, value realization,  and increased brand affinity.

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Digital Experiences Aren’t Universally Accessible… Yet

Interest in accessing experiences that are solely digital decreases with age – typically dropping off starting with the 45-54 age demographic. Sixty-six percent of respondents 55 and older reported no desire to continue any type of digital experience post-COVID-19. This highlights a growing need to personalize experiences and provide education by persona groups and digital literacy in order to drive greater adoption and long-term engagement. 

Convenience Is Still King

Convenience is still King when it comes to developing experiences that meet consumer expectations and needs. Despite many brands focusing on health and safety, survey respondents clearly identified convenience as their top expectation/need. Safety came in second with all age brackets except Generation Z.

key-highlights-convenience

Digital Experiences Increase Customer Sentiment

Majority of respondents who used digital experience provided by businesses during COVID reported a somewhat or much more positive impression about the company providing it, proving that allowing consumers options to choose their own “adventure” based on their preferences and time restraints is essential for the post-COVID consumer.

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Offline Hybrid Experiences Are More Important Than Ever

More than half of respondents said they want to return to doing everything in-person once COVID is over, which highlights a need to bring digital transformation efforts into storefronts to connect the experiences and offer one cohesive, seamless experience that empowers customer engagement, value realization and increased brand affinity.

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Digital Experiences Aren’t Universally Accessible… Yet

Interest in accessing experiences exclusively digitally decreases with age, typically dropping off starting with the 45-54 age demographic. 66% of respondents 55 and over reported no desire to continue any type of digital experience in a post-COVID world. This highlights a growing need to both personalize experiences and provide education by persona groups and digital literacy to drive greater adoption and long-term engagement. 

How does this impact the future of your industry?

How should your business continue driving and investing in digital transformations as customers leave their homes and embrace the COVID-19 reentry phase? Download our industry insights below to use while crafting a holistic plan. 

Healthcare
Use of telehealth saw some of the greatest increases compared to other digital customer experiences, with 63% of respondents saying they used telehealth medical visits over the last year, and 59% using them more than before the pandemic. The demographic that reportedly used telehealth services more during COVID-19 versus before fell between the ages 24-36, closely followed by respondents ages 37-54. Our survey results illuminated a sharp decrease in telehealth adoption during COVID for those 55+. This highlights potential barriers for patient groups who are less digital literate.
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Insurance and Finance
Mobile banking saw huge use and adoption during the pandemic, with 85% of respondents confirming the use of mobile banking during the past year, and 46% of respondents saying they used it more than before the pandemic. However, only 24% say they plan to use mobile banking technologies and services once COVID-19 ends. Respondents between the ages of 24-44 engaged with mobile banking & insurance services almost twice as much as those 65+. Without improved education and/or removing digital literacy barriers, these digital experiences will likely only be embraced by Generation Z and millennial post-pandemic customers.
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Retail
Grocery stores and delivery services successfully attracted new customers across all age brackets, with those 55+ being primary users during the pandemic, due to safety concerns; however, only 31% of people who tried grocery delivery services plan to use them once COVID-19 ends, illuminating potential barriers and friction points to be addressed to ensure continual digital adoption. Convenience was cited as the top benefit for all digital retail experiences, including BOPIS, DTC, online shopping, and subscription models.
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Education
44% of respondents said they participated in virtual educational classes or courses during the past year. On average, of those who participated, 49% said they engaged with e-learning more than before. An increase of virtual education was greatest for those between the ages of 37-44 (62% of respondents who reportedly engaged with e-learning did so more than before COVID), followed by age groups 24-30 (52%), 45-54 (52%), and 31-36 (50%). 42% of respondents 55+ reportedly use e-learning more during the pandemic than before. At least a fourth of all respondents plan to continue e-learning courses in the post-COVID world.
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Want more industry insights? Download our full report.

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“Experiences are what draw customers into a brand and keep them hooked over time.  It’s the strongest differentiator and next competitive frontier for brands.  Markets are disrupted and new markets are created when a new entrant is able to take CONTROL of the experience.  Making an investment into your experience today will enable you to control the experiences of the future.”

Jesus Ramirez

Vice President of Strategy & Innovation

The 5 Pillars of Future CX Design

So, our survey results ended up challenging predictions made by larger organizations in 2020 and even early 2021. But the fundamentals for crafting and driving excellent customer experiences are only reinforced by the survey results. Business leaders and changemakers dedicated to prioritizing, strategizing, and implementing new experiences for the post-COVID customer should keep five things in mind as we progress further into the pandemic’s reentry phase:

01

Digitize the Traditional

Because of COVID-19, customers have become a lot more familiar with and accepting of digital experiences. This provides organizations and companies with opportunities to improve and streamline the overall experience for employees and customers by digitizing what was traditionally done in person.

02

Lean Into Personalization

Personalization is now a key factor in driving customer loyalty. Providing individualized attention helps remove digital barriers and build emotional bonds with customers by giving them the control back and making them feel understood and valued.

03

Provide Curated Education

Many companies and organizations across industries struggle with customer retention and engagement, which prevents customers from realizing the full value of their services or offerings. By improving educational offerings (personalized to meet the needs of different customer groups) and increasing learning opportunities through omnichannel marketing, brands can help customers discover, navigate, adopt, and engage with services, products, and/or offerings faster and for longer periods of time.

04

Bring Your Digital Transformation In-Store

As our research suggests, people are ready to return to in-person experiences. But that doesn’t mean companies and organizations should halt digital transformation. Instead, it’s important to bridge in-person and digital experiences by implementing digital transformation strategies into the physical spaces to create cohesive brand experiences, rather than differentiated ones.

05

Rely on Data to Continually Iterate & Improve CX

Data is the key to unlocking cross-functional alignment, agile decision-making, and unstoppable momentum when it comes to customer experience design. By ingesting, aggregating, and analyzing first, second, and third-party data, companies and organizations can better target, personalize, and customize content to satisfy ever-evolving customer needs.

This graph represents the percentage of respondents who utilized specific digital experiences more during the pandemic than they did before.

Final Takeaways

Despite living through a viral pandemic for the past year, what customers still value most in their experiences is convenience. Whether in-person or digital, the customer experience must be easy, pleasant, and frictionless, with value being delivered and realized in a short amount of time. Affinity for supporting local businesses and avoiding human interaction will no longer drive purchasing behaviors for the post-COVID customer, according to our survey results.  

Safety, though, does have its place. In fact, survey respondents voted safety the second most important factor for customer experiences in most age brackets (excluding Gen Z). This new information calls for businesses to shift their thinking and look through a new, slightly different lens – one in which experiences are designed with convenience as King, and safety, security, and certainty as “new normal” best practices.

41%

of respondents reported convenience as the primary benefit of using digital experiences during COVID-19

Price and cost savings still played a factor, averaging 20% of respondents’ primary vote. Older customers were more likely than younger to choose “safer”as a primary benefit.

Our survey respondents also showed significantly more enthusiasm and affinity towards in-person experiences than we expected. Many anticipated that – after a year of digital-everything – customers would covet the internet for making their lives and daily routines easier. Businesses across industries were forced to speed up digital transformations by five years (simply to remain relevant and stay afloat), and because of customer adoption and preference to digital-first, it was expected that the trend would continue. 

 

But it seems everyone is tech fatigued. While some survey respondents said they plan to continue with digital experiences (grocery shopping delivery ranked higher on that list), 10% said they plan to go back to doing everything in-person once the pandemic ends. Only time will tell whether that desire for in-person activities will persist. Running errands and dealing with customer service lines can lose their appeal pretty quickly.

50%

of survey respondents reported at least one experience they won’t return to in person after the pandemic is over. In-person banking is the experience they are most likely to avoid.

As we saw earlier, 85% reported using mobile banking during the pandemic, and close to half of those said they used it more than before the pandemic. However, on the flip side, it’s important to note that half of respondents said they want to return to doing everything in person, post-COVID.

So, as people venture out of their homes and in-person business bounces back, should the digital-first transformation be put on pause? No. Many companies may do that. They may be forced to, so that they can recoup some of what they lost, but for others, it’s an opportunity to become leaders and pioneers in delivering exceptional hybrid experiences. Because one day soon, there will be no differentiated experiences. In-person and digital will (or should) be one in the same. 

 

With this, leaders are called to empower internal teams to be change makers and use this reentry phase as an opportunity to be one of the first to offer cohesive, connected hybrid experiences. When done right, it’s these that will drive differentiation, fuel business growth, increase customer engagement, and empower ongoing value realization. Because innovation is the key to unlocking unstoppable momentum. 

 

Now is the time, and experience is everything.

Turning Insights Into Action:

Our client had a goal of growing revenue from $3 billion to $10 billion in five years. Learn how we used consumer insights & competitive research to set the vision & rally stakeholders around new future state plans.

What's next?

There are efficient and effective strategies that can be employed by any industry to identify gaps or opportunities throughout the customer journey and brainstorm for innovative solutions to meet the post-COVID customers’ needs.

 

Some common practices used at Tallwave to help brands optimize the conversion journey, reduce churn, accelerate value realization, acquire new customers, and expand into new markets include holistically mapping the customer experience; redesigning specific elements of the user journey; conducting qualitative and quantitative research to inform core consumer group and competitive market decisions; facilitating design studios to help teams envision and implement tomorrow’s experiences; utilizing proprietary tools to breakdown data silos; and optimizing performance marketing strategies to increase customer engagement, share of voice, and overall brand awareness. We’re ready to help you craft an exceptional customer experience and unlock unstoppable momentum. Are you?

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Categories
Customer Engagement

9 Quantitative Research Methods With Real Client Examples

Business research goes beyond gut feelings to uncover real trends and motivators. And while it could sometimes involve assessing a gut feeling – qualitative research – it also often involves using numerical data to identify trends. This is called quantitative research.

 

Quantitative research can help fill gaps in understanding or determining a path forward when decision-makers have varying opinions about future customer experience, user experience, or product design and development, or even overall brand messaging and marketing. Conducting regular and accurate quantitative research is essential to developing an informed perspective on how to increase your customer engagement.

 

For example, 71% of consumers recently reported little faith in brands to deliver on promises. Knowing this is a customer pain point highlights an opportunity for businesses to conduct quantitative research in order to understand how to improve trustworthiness and increase positive customer sentiments.

 

Here are some methods to help you launch your own quantitative research initiatives in-house.

Quantitative research is essential to developing a clear understanding of consumer engagement and how to increase satisfaction.

Primary Quantitative Research Methods

When it comes to quantitative research, many people often confuse this type of research with the methodology. The research type refers to style of research while the data collection method can be different.

Research types

These are the primary types of quantitative research used by businesses today.

 

  • Survey research: Ideally when conducting survey research businesses will use a statistically relevant sample to understand the sentiments and actions of a large group of people. This could be their current customers or consumers who fit into their ideal demographic.
  • Correlational research: Correlational research compares two variables to come to a conclusion about whether there is a relationship between the two. Keep in mind that correlation does not always imply causation, which is to say you need to account for external variables that could cause an apparent relationship.
  • Experimental research: This form of research takes a scientific approach, testing a hypothesis by manipulating certain variables to understand what changes this could cause. In these experiments, there is a control group and a manipulated group.

Also read: 6 Factors Influencing Customer Behaviors in 2021

Data collection methods

Launching the above research requires creating a plan to collect data. After all, quantitative research relies on data. Here are the common primary data collection methods for quantitative research.

 

  • Surveys: A common approach to collecting data is using a survey. This is ideal especially if the business can obtain a statistically relevant sample from their responses. Surveys are often conducted through web or email questionnaires.
  • Interviews: Yes, interviews can be used to obtain quantitative data. While this form of data collection is typically associated with qualitative research, interviewers can ask a standard set of questions to collate formal, quantitative data.
  • Documentation review: With an increasing amount of business occurring digitally, there is more documentation now than ever before to help inform quantitative conclusions. Businesses can assess website metrics such as return visits, time on page or even use a pixel to track customer movement across websites. They can also view how many times their app has been opened and actions users have taken on their platform to determine customer engagement.

Secondary research can be helpful when formulating a plan for obtaining primary quantitative data. It can help narrow areas of focus or illuminate key challenges.

Secondary Quantitative Research Methods

Secondary data is information that is already collected and not necessarily exclusive to the company but still relevant when understanding overall industry and marketplace trends. Here are a few examples of secondary data:

 

  • Government reports: Government research can indicate potential regulatory roadblocks, customer pain points and future opportunities. For example, a fitness company might use government data that shows an increase in use of outdoor running trials to develop a new product used to meet that specific use case.
  • Survey-based secondary data: Polls or surveys that have been conducted for a primary use could be reused for secondary purposes. This could include survey data obtained by other companies or governments.
  • Academic research: Research that has been previously conducted and published in peer-reviewed journals can help inform trends and consumer behavior, even if it doesn’t apply to a company’s specific customers.

 

Secondary research can be helpful when formulating a plan for obtaining primary quantitative data. It can help narrow areas of focus or illuminate key challenges. It can also help when it comes to interpreting primary data, especially when trying to understand the relationship between two variables of correlated data.

 

Also read: The What, Why, & How of Customer Behavior Analysis

Real Examples of Quantitative Research

We regularly use quantitative research to help our clients understand where they can best add value to increase customer engagement. Here are three examples of quantitative research in motion.

Example 1: Leading food distribution company

We helped a leading food distribution company identify changes in the needs and values of their restaurant clients as a result of COVID-19. This helped inform opportunities to become more valuable partners.

 

The research plan involved creating a survey that was emailed to clients. The questions were specific and numeric. For example, respondents were asked what percentage of their weekly spend was used with the food distribution company. They were also asked to assign a percentage to the way their food ordering had changed during COVID-19 and to rate their satisfaction with the food distribution company.

 

The results showed changes that had occurred for clients of the food distribution company as a result of the unique stressors of the pandemic. We were able to determine changes in weekly food supply and customer count as well as menu adaptations and purchase behavior.

 

Example 2: Leading credit card company

Our work with a leading credit card company required us to understand what current travel card members valued about the rewards program and their preferred communication method for booking travel in order to create an omnichannel servicing strategy and ideal customer journey.

 

Through an online survey of younger cardholders, the target demographic for this project, we asked questions such as length of card membership, total spend and the number of annual leisure trips in addition to more specific questions that showed how members get inspiration for trip planning and where they research.

 

The results highlighted ways to overcome resistance to pricing by proving more value. It also illuminated ways to make the benefits of membership more tangible to card holders and how to influence travelers in the early stages of planning their journey.

Example 3: Internal research report

We’re in the business of drinking our own champagne, so to speak, which is why we conducted our own quantitative research aimed at understanding the consumer trends that were spurred by the pandemic and how these will transform behaviors in the future.

 

There’s no question that new customer experiences emerged from the pandemic. Think of offerings such as “buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS),” or blended restaurant meals that are cooked at home. We wanted to understand how consumers truly felt about these new experiences and which they were likely to continue using even after restrictions were lifted. We also wanted to know more about the changing expectations for branded communication and how all of these pieces of the puzzle fit together to create consumer engagement. Our method of data collection was a survey.

 

Our research led us to develop insights we could use to inform our customers in their decision making. For example, we found convenience is paramount for consumers who are seeking out hybrid experiences such as BOPIS to take the best of both worlds. We also found many of these changes are permanent as consumers embraced new experiences that made their lives easier.

We regularly use quantitative research to help our clients understand where they can best add value to increase customer engagement.

The Bottom Line

Quantitative research is essential to developing a clear understanding of consumer engagement and how to increase satisfaction. Though online surveys are one of the most common methods for obtaining data, research isn’t limited to this strategy. It’s important to use whatever strategies are within your scope to constantly evaluate new trends and consumer behaviors that could significantly impact your offerings. The results can show you how to re-engage customers and drive loyalty.

 

Interested in partnering with us to learn more about your customers needs, wants, and behaviors to inform future experience design? Contact us today!

Categories
Uncategorized

6 Factors Influencing Customer Behaviors in 2021 (With Original Research)

With fast-evolving customer experiences and technologies rolling into the market what feels like everyday, only one thing seems to consistently remain the same: Consumer behaviors, expectations, and needs never stop changing.

 

Cultural, social, personal and psychological forces influence what consumers do and why. And as consumer behaviors change, marketing strategies must change, as well. But for brands and businesses to craft the customer experience that can lead them through the next frontier of business, they must first understand what customers are truly prioritizing.

Better marketing comes from better understanding consumers.

According to our recent research report, here are the top six factors that are changing the customer experience design game today:

1. Convenience

Convenience is consistently the most significant way consumers are evaluating companies post-pandemic. It turns out that consumers like some of the adjustments they had to make as a result of the pandemic. For example, 31% of those surveyed said they will still use grocery delivery services even after restrictions are lifted in their area. Consumers want purchases that are easy to make. That doesn’t stop at simply digitizing offerings. It also means upgrading customer service experiences so consumers can get help when and where they want it.

 

Keep in mind that consumers aren’t necessarily looking for virtual-only experiences. They are keen to combine the best of digital and personal touchpoints to do whatever is easiest. That’s why “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) has become popular. A total of 68% of our survey respondents indicated they have tried this approach, two thirds say it made them feel somewhat or more positive about the company that provided it. That’s because convenience rules the day. Companies that can blend the best of their offerings to create the most streamlined experience are winning post-pandemic.

2. Safety and Well-Being

Most age groups we surveyed indicated that safety and well-being are a major factor in their decision-making process. Excluding Gen Z, every other age group voted safety as their second biggest concern. Safety and security— both physical health and data— must become the standard operating procedure for businesses. Cleanliness and a focus on well-being are no longer extra steps that businesses are taking during “unprecedented times” but the expectations that are leading the way in every customer experience.

3. Immersive in-person experiences

The decline of physical retail shopping has accelerated in the pandemic, but marketers have found a way to bring customers in-store to develop loyalty: experiences. The concept of retailtainment has been gaining traction, with 52% of millennials saying they spend on experience-related purchases. Experiential marketing is more important than ever, especially as customers emerge from the pandemic and are hungry to make up for missed experiences.

 

In the digital-first world post-COVID, a lot of general shopping will be ordered via recurring subscriptions or deliveries. Capitalizing on the appetite for experiences, businesses can entice customers to come in-store with valuable experiences that educate and connect. As a bonus, a truly immerse experience can help earn coveted word-of-mouth and organic social presence.

The pandemic has highlighted social inequalities in daily life and consumers are choosing to vote with their pocketbooks to create change.

4. Social Responsibility

Customers are increasingly loyal to brands with a conscience, especially as the global pandemic has hindered the well-being of so many people. It’s clear that customers expect brands to lead with kindness and empathy, even at times using their resources to fill gaps left by local governments or to support social causes.

 

In a survey that assessed consumer perceptions of corporate social responsibility, three out of four respondents said that the way a company looks after their customers and employees during COVID will impact their loyalty to the company post-pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted social inequalities in daily life and consumers are choosing to vote with their pocketbooks to create change.

5. True and Ongoing Value

It’s clear that consumers are even more sensitive to value realization now than before the pandemic (learn about value realization here). At some point during your customer’s journey there will come a time when the value of your product or service is fully realized. This can set the tone of the future of your customer’s experience with you. Not only do they need to see value early, but it needs to be consistent throughout their lifecycle in order to increase your customer lifetime value.

 

Also read: Developing Nurture Strategies That Decrease Time to Value

 

Wary of a possible recession in the wake of the pandemic, in addition to increased inflation, consumers are prioritizing the value you bring before they’ll part with their hard-earned cash. Your products and services need to be well-priced and solve a real problem. Premium add-ons are less of a priority for consumers, unless they target other specific desires such as social responsibility or safety.

Ratings and reviews help build this confidence in a way that feels legitimate to wary consumers.

6. Trust and confidence

Third-party and peer recommendations are deeply integrated into the buying process, especially post-pandemic. New data rates rankings and reviews as the number one most important factor impacting purchase decisions, above price and even free shipping. Nearly one in two customers read between one to 10 reviews before making a purchase decision, and 68% of customers say they prefer products with at least 26 reviews.

 

It’s clear the pandemic has caused consumers to lose some faith in traditional institutions and they are consistently relying on communities of like minded people to act as thought leaders. Ratings and reviews help build this confidence in a way that feels legitimate to wary consumers.

Bottom Line

Synthesizing all of these consumer changes to carve a future path requires companies to take a strong look at their to take a step back and understand the problem they are trying to solve, the “why” behind reimagining their products and customer experience. This can help realign with what consumers are expecting today. We walked through this same process with a leading travel brand, taking the time to define what it means for them to be in the travel business in the first place. Using those answers, we were able to define success. Then, we looked at what changes would be in scope for the brand. You might not be able to accomplish everything you dream of or know customers want, but defining changes that are within your ability is a good first step.

 

Implementing changes is the purpose for all of this research and brainstorming, which is why the last step of the process is understanding what partners will be necessary to help innovate. Iterating on your products, services, and overall customer experience isn’t easy and making cross-functional changes can be challenging, but given the massive shifts in consumer preferences post-pandemic, it is more important than ever to understand these factors and adjust to ensure value realization.

Need help understanding your current and future consumer’s needs? Contact us today

Categories
Innovators Series

Innovators Q&A: How Banner Health’s Digital Marketing Strategies Increased Customer Trust During COVID-19

As soon as COVID-19 hit, healthcare systems and organizations across the world scrambled to craft new strategies to serve their communities whilst keeping employees and patients safe. But despite their efforts, there was often one barrier that often prevented patients from seeking care in times of need: Trust. Trust that they’d be protected from contracting COVID-19, should they visit a hospital in-person.

 

In the latest episode of Tallwave’s Innovator Series, our Vice President of Marketing Jessica Pumo talks to Patrick Knauer, the Director of Digital Marketing for Banner Health’s Ambulatory practices, about developing and implementing digital marketing strategies to give patients peace of mind, as well as what he believes is in store for the future of healthcare, the patient experience, and digital marketing as a whole.

Innovators Q&A With Patrick Knauer

Jessica Pumo: Hello everyone. I’m Jessica Pumo, Vice president of Marketing at Tallwave, a customer experience design company. Welcome to the latest installment of our Innovators Series. Today, I am thrilled to be joined by Patrick Knauer, Director of Digital Marketing for Banner Health Ambulatory Services. Welcome, Patrick.

 

PK: Hi Jessica. Thank you. It’s great to be here.

 

JP: Now, at a high level, Patrick, you work with Banner Health’s ambulatory service lines to align marketing strategies to business direction, and then you work with the broader marketing and media teams to execute marketing campaigns. So, I know you’ve got great perspective to share.

 

To kick things off today, I’d just like to start by hearing a bit about your professional journey. What initially attracted you, like so many of us, to digital marketing, and how did you get to where you are today?

 

PK: Yeah, I started off in digital marketing, working for a search engine optimization company, not knowing how much I would love it, but it really became my passion just because it changed it. It felt like every two weeks Google would reset the landscape and we would always [have to] adjust and have to rethink our approach.

 

That sense of excitement really stuck with me as I grew and it’s still that way. I’ve been in digital marketing for over 15 years now and it does feel like every two weeks there is a new tweak to keep you on your toes. So, that excitement hasn’t faded.

 

JP: So, let’s get a little more specific about how your role contributes to Banner’s larger mission. How is success defined for you and your team and how does that help Banner reach its established business goals?

 

PK: Yeah, so, Banner is working to meet consumers where they need healthcare, and that’s in an ambulatory setting. My role and the teams that I work with, are working to make sure that we’re easily accessible. That we’re easy to find through digital channels and that when our consumers need care, it’s not troublesome or burdensome to schedule to get into a healthcare clinic and to get out.

 

So, we have a lot of communication that we need to do, and we have a lot of marketing that we need to do to make sure that we’re omnipresent on various digital platforms that consumers use today.

There was a fear about being inside small spaces and healthcare locations. People were more hesitant to just walk in. They wanted to use their digital tools to limit their time, to limit their exposure, and [to] make that appointment on the computer.

JP: Wonderful. As, as we narrow our focus a little bit, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t start with something that I know has changed the landscape for all of us. And it must be an understatement to say that the pandemic has changed the healthcare landscape.

 

So, given that the pandemic has driven a lot of changes to how consumers find and engage with businesses of all kinds, what kinds of changes have you all seen in terms of how consumers search for and engage with ambulatory services?

 

PK: One of the best examples that I could give you would be just our online appointment rate for our Urgent Cares, which is of our ambulatory service lines. We see the most volume out of our Urgent Cares. We have over 50 locations in Northern Colorado, [and] Arizona, so a lot of different points of access.

 

And, what we noticed from the beginning of the pandemic to its peak, was that our online bookings rose by 37% [percent] all the way up to 50% [percent]. So, about half of the patients coming through the doors were scheduling online. And the reason we saw that increase was because there was a fear about being inside small spaces and healthcare locations. People were more hesitant to just walk in. They wanted to use their digital tools to limit their time, to limit their exposure, and [to] make that appointment on the computer.

 

JP: Since you’ve mentioned it, I would love to jump to that idea: How concerns around personal health and safety have changed with the pandemic.

 

I know that’s really put those concerns front and center and the need to build trust with consumers has never been more important than it has been just these last several months. This need must have been even more acute when it comes to ambulatory services.

 

So, I’m curious what data points have you used to help understand patient needs and patient pain points as they’ve evolved through the course of the pandemic?

 

PK: Our analytics demonstrated that, prior to COVID, the most popular action that we would see consumers takes were clicks over to our website where they could access more information on the location or the services that were there.

 

But during the pandemic clicks to the website went down and direct phone calls to our clinics went up… We extrapolated from that there was more information that they needed directly from a person: To hear what steps were being taken or specific situations – if you’re at high risk for COVID or you have an auto-immune disease, or you’re in a certain age bracket – you might need reassurance of talking to someone at the front desk, and asking questions [such as], “Can I be seen?”, “What special requirements or services do you have for me?”

 

That was one data point that we really noticed, and it helped to kind of informed the communication that we put out there to our consumers because we were able to take those data points out of the conversations and understand, what are the concerns? How do we address them [and make] them easy to find, and put them in front of our consumers so that they already know the answers to some of their questions?

 

Also read: Data Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience

There’s a myriad of different digital transformations that are happening, but most of them are revolving around improving the ease and the experience.

JP:  It’s really fascinating to hear how you’re looking at those digital signals and interpreting them as indicators of how that experience needs to change, knowing that the experience inevitably – in an ambulatory setting – is going from online to in-person. How has Banner worked to build patient trust through marketing and messaging from what they experienced in local search to what they experienced when they arrive in-person at an ambulatory services center to inspire and build that confidence and trust and drive continuity in that experience?

 

PK: That was the main challenge with COVID. And the main objective was to really make sure people understood the efforts that, as an organization, Banner Health was taking to make care safe.

 

So, we created a safe place for care, a logo, and a brand campaign… [We put that logo] on communications, whether it be a top of the funnel advertisement or bottom of the funnel, actually inside the clinic. We had the steps we took to clean a clinic, that we ask our patients to [wear a] mask, and the other steps that we take for our own employees to make sure everyone [is] safe. And we put those pieces of communication on our website, on our blog, within our emails – all over the possible digital touchpoints, so that no matter where the consumer interacted with Banner, the logo was there and the information was there. And if they needed a deeper dive, we provided the URL where they could go and read exactly the steps that we were taking behind the Safe Place For Care campaign.

 

JP: When you look at any one of those individual touch points, the changes that you’re describing may seem really nuanced, but when you look at them in [the] aggregate, that really is some significant changes to the patient experience.

 

PK: It really was. And it was a lot of work to spread that kind of communication across 400 plus clinics, [through] email, blog, or website advertisement. But that was our mission. That was our objective. I was proud to be a part of the team, and the outcomes were great because we had a lot of people tell us that they felt safe, and they appreciated the efforts that we took.

JP: Which is so important. So important. Well, let’s move from innovation to transformation here for just a second. Something that’s top of mind for me and for the Tallwave team, based on our recent Tallwave research report, is telehealth as a prime example of the digital transformation underway in the healthcare space. What does digital transformation in healthcare look like for you and your team?

 

PK: It looks like a lot of things. That’s a difficult question to unpack because it could be an app on the phone that has a host of capabilities – from communicating with your provider to accessing lab reports, to making an appointment. And that’s just within an app. But there’s also other touch points out there, on the web on a mobile web, where you need to have other capabilities like online scheduling.

 

One of our most popular digital transformation features is our symptom checker, which is really easy to use. You can just pop onto BannerHealth.com, open up the symptom checker app, tell our computer exactly what you’re experiencing: What you’re feeling, [and] what your symptoms are. And after a series of questions and answers, you get a mini-diagnosis, and it’ll point you to the right level of care, which is important in healthcare, because you don’t want to go to the emergency room when an urgent care visit is perfectly appropriate.

 

There’s a myriad of different digital transformations that are happening, but most of them are revolving around improving the ease and the experience, overall, that you have interacting with healthcare.

 

JP: I know we’ve talked about some of the complexities of managing that experience within the pandemic, but I certainly don’t want to lose sight of how complex that is for you and your team, just on a day-to-day basis.

 

In general, outside of the pandemic, I know Banner has leveraged a really diverse constellation of digital touch points to address patient needs and pain points by meeting them where they are, when they’re there. And I know that really does cut across a lot of different teams at Banner. So, how do you set the stage for smooth handoff, from your team to the next, so that that patient experience feels really seamless as they move through multiple points of engagement from the Banner websites to social, to email, to Google My Business, and everything in between?

 

PK: Yeah, that’s one of the core responsibilities of my role. As the Director of Marketing for our ambulatory service lines, I need to understand the objectives of one of our business units, like Urgent Care or the medical group, and come forward with a marketing plan that meets the goals that they’re trying to accomplish.

 

Then, I put that together into what we call a marketing playbook, which lists out: What are we trying to accomplish? What are our goals? What are we going to use as our call to action? What are our proof points, or what we like to call “reasons to believe” in Banner Health or Banner Urgent Care or Banner Medical Group. [I] put that into a centralized tool, which we use work from, and pull all of the various teams together and have kickoff calls, and installation meetings, and go over all of this planning [around] the direction, and everything that we are going to use so that everyone understands: “Let’s use these calls to action. Let’s use these reasons to believe. Here are blog resources. Here are website resources.”

 

And then, whenever it’s time to actually execute, the teams can go into [that] work, [and] know that they can pull the information [and] that will be the same information that the web team is pulling, or the email team is pulling, and the advertising team is pulling. So, everything is the same across the board, and you have that nice, beautiful experience that’s consistent.

We know that the level of trust that we encounter through Google My Business and organic search is higher just based upon the way our consumers convert and make those appointments – but paid search is a very high converting platform in itself.

JP: I think you you’ve touched on some things that really are very actionable for all of us. I think there are very few marketers out there who are not working hand-in-hand with other marketers who may be on different teams, different departments, different divisions, but the idea of starting with a really clear unifying strategy in enrolling everyone into that strategy together, so that you’re all on the same page, and then offering up the tools and resources that everyone needs to do the job. I know it sounds simple. It’s hard to execute and certainly worth bearing in mind. So, thanks for calling those things out.

 

As a marketer who manages a combination of paid search and organic search, which are needs supported by different teams in my world, it’s not lost on me how challenging it can be to marry those things. That really should be two parts of a whole. So, I’m curious, Patrick, how do you think about organic versus paid search as it relates to the patient experience, and how do you coordinate your efforts on the organic front with those of your partners managing the paid activity so that those things work together?

 

PK: I think they’re both extremely valuable and, in my mind, there’s not a difference between the two. There’s performance differences – we know that the level of trust that we encounter through Google My Business and organic search is higher just based upon the way our consumers convert and make those appointments – but paid search is a very high converting platform in itself.

 

The thing that we want to do is make sure, again, that our messaging is consistent, that we’re using the same reasons to believe, because we know from analysis of how long it takes some to convert, that there might be multiple touch points along the way. Paid search might be two of three touch points. So, we want to make sure that the messaging, the reasons to believe are consistent no matter where they interact with us. But from a strategic level, they’re both lower funnel for us. And they’re both of high importance,

 

JP: [It] all kind of goes back to recognizing that those things have to be seamless in the customer experience. Right? So, how do you see local search within the ambulatory services space changing and how is your team adapting?

 

PK: So, yeah, I think that’s an interesting question. Real estate in Google is shrinking, and Google is owning more of the first page for its own products, like Google My Business, for zero click information. I think that that’s going to continue. I think paid search is going to stay rather consistent with the results that you see on the page and the real estate that it’s given, but zero click information and Google My Business, in my mind, has more of a future because the big change in healthcare would be if you can make an appointment to get into your doctor or to an Urgent Care clinic directly from Google, [without ever] having to click over to Banner Health or any other health system, that would be a zero click conversion.

 

Google is working towards that in many industries, including healthcare. And it’s probably not going to be a 2021 solution that you see, but it’s not too far down the road. And being able to provide our consumers with as much information, and as much access as they can out of local search is an extremely strategic focal point for us at Banner Health, and one that we’re keeping a close eye on.

 

So, we’re very active within our local search tools, [and] with our listings. We want to make sure that we’re providing everything that we can, and the information in there is as up-to-date as possible. So, we solicit reviews. We post new information. We provide videos. We provide images. And that continual effort to work the local search has paid very good dividends for Banner Health.

 

Also read: 9 Metrics That Help Measure Customer Engagement

Being able to provide our consumers with as much information, and as much access as they can out of local search is an extremely strategic focal point for us.

JP: I think that’s a well-informed look at what may lie ahead. When it comes to that local search space, what other changes are on the horizon for you and your team in a post-pandemic world?

 

PK: That is yet to be known. Right now, we’re kind of letting the data tell us what to do. Our research team is constantly bringing us new information on the consumer perspective [within a] COVID and a post-COVID world. And, right now, we’re continuing our messaging of safety and a Safe Place For Care, but we realize that that may not last forever, and that we need to plan for the future.

 

I think what we want to do is make sure that, no matter where you are on the spectrum of COVID-concern, whether you feel very comfortable without a mask and you’d like to go about your life like it’s 2019, great! Or if you are forever changed, and you need to know that there are certain safety protocols for you wherever you go, great, we also want to make that person feel very comfortable.

 

So, planning for those two different consumer types is something that is existing at Banner Health, as well as understanding the nature of the changing landscape of healthcare with the digital space, and how those two things can work together to be each other’s benefit.

 

JP: Such an interesting road ahead, no doubt, regardless of how that crystal ball changes over time. But you’ve been very generous with your time today, Patrick, thank you again for joining us, and for the great conversation.

 

PK: Oh, thank you so much, Jessica. I enjoyed it.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Banner Health, you can visit BannerHealth.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, all at Banner Health.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Tallwave and how we help companies design exceptional customer experiences, contact us today. You can also read and download our recent research report, “Data-Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience” here.

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