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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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9 Quantitative Research Methods With Real Client Examples

Understanding what customers are expecting from you is essential to developing products and services that meet their ever-changing needs. A lot of the time, companies gauge customer preferences by the gut feelings of their sales and service staff or executive visionaries. But, there’s a more reliable way to gather this information: research.

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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!

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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.

Categories
Customer Engagement Uncategorized

9 Metrics That Help Measure Customer Engagement

Gaining new customers is only half the battle when it comes to sustaining a healthy business — keeping customers engaged and loyal to your company long-term is just as important. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, especially considering the changing nature of customer preferences.

 

Most companies are challenged with constantly iterating their customer engagement strategies. Oftentimes larger enterprise companies bear more of that brunt in order to maintain market share as more agile upstarts join the scene.

 

Also read: Data Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience 

 

Case and point: A large entertainment and communications firm – despite having experience that predates the internet – came to us with plummeting retention rates. Identifying the cause of their customer churn was essential to strategizing and implementing an improved experience for the future. By conducting research to understand the end-to-end customer journey, we were able to uncover and map out internal and external stakeholder perspectives at each stage. Using that information, we identified which stages in the journey had the greatest impact on customer loyalty. Then we were able to create a prioritized list of suggested improvements to enhance the customer experience and drive a greater bond between the business and their audience.

 

It’s this kind of work that can make the world of difference when it comes to increasing customer engagement.

 

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today. A recent Salesforce study found that 95% of consumers said trust makes them more likely to remain loyal while 80% said the customer experience is just as important as the product or service.

 

Reviewing the journeys your customers take helps to identify ways to increase convenience and drive engagement, which is essential for success. Here are some top methods to measure customer engagement.

Reducing friction and inspiring trust are the cornerstones of customer engagement today.

Top Customer Engagement Metrics

There are a variety of metrics you can use to create a full picture of your customer experience and increase customer engagement. Here are some of the most frequently used methods::

1. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS is the leading metric for measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. This is accomplished by asking customers one, simple question to rate the likelihood that they would recommend a company, product or service to a friend or colleague. The rating is on a scale of 0 -10, with zero being “not at all likely” and 10 being “extremely likely.”

 

How to calculate: Respondents are divided into three groups based on their score.

 

  • Promoters: (rated 9-10) are loyal customers who will also refer others to your company.
  • Passives: (rated 7-8) are satisfied, but not enthusiastic.
  • Detractors: (rated 0-6) are unhappy customers and could potentially damage your brand by spreading negative reviews.

To calculate your NPS score, subtract the percent of Detractors from the percent of Promoters. Here’s what the formula looks like: % Promoters – % Detractors = NPS. Your NPS can range anywhere from -100 to 100 depending on your ratio of promoters to detractors.

% Promoters - % Detractors = NPS

How it infers customer engagement: Your NPS score is a good measure of your customers’ overall perception of your brand. Customers who fit the Detractor category are unhappy, these are the customers most likely to speak poorly about your brand to others or leave negative reviews. Customers who fit the profile of Passives are not excited about your business and are unlikely to be loyal if a competitor comes along with a sweeter offer. Customers who are considered Promoters are not only loyal, but will act as ambassadors for your company. It’s best to compare your NPS to others in your industry and also to your past scores to monitor any changes in your customers’ perceptions.

 

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

 

Best for: This classic customer engagement tool is best for gaining a high-level understanding of customer experience and how loyal your customers are.

2. Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)

CSAT is short for Customer Satisfaction Score. It is a popular metric to gauge customer satisfaction levels for a specific product/service or action you took rather than an ongoing customer relationship.. A CSAT score is expressed as a percentage (100% to 0%). Using the results from a customer surveys that ask respondents to “Rate their overall satisfaction with the goods/services they received. Respondents use the following 1-5 scale:

 

1 = Very Dissatisfied (or Very Bad)

2 = Somewhat dissatisfied (Poor)

3 = Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied (Neutral)

4 = Somewhat satisfied (Good)

5 = Very Satisfied (Excellent)

 

How to calculate: To understand your CSAT, you’ll want to divide the number of satisfied customers (represented by those who responded with a 4 or 5 ) by the total number of customers.

 

Use this formula to calculate: Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

Number of satisfied customers (4 and 5) / Number of survey responses) x 100 = % of satisfied customers

How it infers customer engagement: Your CSAT score is helpful to measure customer satisfaction after an experience or touchpoint with your business. It’s not typically used to represent customer engagement over time, since it’s a snapshot of how each individual customer was feeling during the exact circumstances of the survey.

 

Best for: CSATs are typically easier to collect than other data points because you’re not asking a lot of your customers. CSATs are also easily understood across many channels of your organization. This makes them ideal for creating company-wide benchmarks that you can update consistently.

3. Customer Lifetime Value

Your customer lifetime value indicates how much your company can expect to earn across an entire relationship with a customer from start to finish. Segmenting your customers by lifetime value can help your company get strategic about the most important groups to engage for long term revenue growth.

 

How to calculate: Before you can calculate the customer lifetime value, you need to know the average customer value. You do this by determining the average purchase value and then multiplying that by the average number of purchases. That first formula looks like this: Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value.

Average Purchase X Average Number of Purchase = Customer Value

Then, put that number into the following formula: Customer Lifetime Value = Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan.

Customer Value X Average Customer Lifespan = Lifetime Value

How it infers customer engagement: It goes without saying that the happier your customers are with your product or service, the more likely they are to continue purchasing renewals or upgrades. Focusing on improving your customer lifetime value typically means you’ll surround customers with support and incentives, which can also lead to higher customer engagement scores. Best for: Compare your customer lifetime value to the cost of acquiring new customers so you can understand if your value realization is strong enough to offset the marketing or sales costs associated with generating demand.

4. User Activity

User activity measures how many unique customers are interacting with your product or service in a specific time frame — typically daily or monthly. This is an ideal customer engagement metric for SaaS companies or apps.

 

How to calculate: Calculating daily user activity hinges on accurately defining what you’ll consider a user and an activity. To get a strong sense of how users are interacting on your platform, you might want to count actions such as pulling reports or collaborating with team members instead of merely sign ons or app opens.

 

How it infers customer engagement: By measuring activities that would only happen if the user was engaged — like creating reports, for example — you can begin to understand how often your users are incorporating your features into their lives. If you notice some features are under-utilized, this could be a warning sign that your customers aren’t fully engaging with the potential of your offerings.

 

Best for: This metric is best for understanding what features of your product are most engaging for customers, so you can continue to iterate on these and improve your value realization opportunities.

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map the Customer Experience

5. Visit Frequency

Measuring the visit frequency shows you how often the same customer returns to your site or store location. This helps you to understand how familiar your customers are with your brand and the extent to which they are actively seeking your company.

 

How to calculate: Using Google Analytics, you can pull a count-of-session report to understand visit frequency to your website. Measuring visit frequency for brick-and-mortar locations has historically been more difficult, but new technology, such as Ripple Metrics, can actually measure return frequency in addition to other actions your customers take in store.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have many of the same customers returning over time, this shows a higher level of engagement. However, if you have customers visiting your site or location once and not returning, this shows you have more work to do in order to foster customer loyalty.

 

Best for: Visit frequency can be seasonal. For example, if you work at an oil change garage, you might only expect customers to return once every six months. That’s why measuring visit frequency is a good metric for companies that understand what the patterns of a happy customer look like. Gain clarity on the big picture of your customer journey so your visit frequency inferences will be valuable.

 

6. Screentime

Measuring how long a customer spends on your site can tell you how valuable your content is and the extent to which you are helping to make the lives of your customers easier. If your customers spend a long time reading an article or watching a video, congratulations, that means you gave them something to stick around for.

 

How to calculate: Using your website analysis tools, you can pull a report to specify the total time on site or get specific to understand how long customers are spending on each page.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you notice customers are routinely spending a few seconds on each page, that could be a sign that your website content is not engaging. Typically the first action users take when they realize a webpage doesn’t have the information they need is to close it and move on to the next one. This metric can help you determine what content is hitting home with your customers and what needs more work.

 

Best for: This metric is essential if you rely on content marketing to drive sales or improve the customer experience.

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on.

7. Pages per Session

Pages per session shows you the average number of pages a visitor to your website reads before they leave your website. Similar to screentime, this metric can show you the extent to which visitors are enjoying your website and gaining value from it.

 

How to calculate: You can determine the pages per session by dividing the total page views by the total amount of sessions for any given time period. If you use Google Analytics, this number should automatically be pulled for you through the program’s standard reporting in the acquisition overview section. To get more detailed, remember to segment by source. You might find that visitors coming from one channel are more heavily engaged, which could influence how you spend advertising dollars.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high number of pages per session it’s likely visitors to your site are finding a lot of useful information and that you are providing a quality user experience. If you find this metric drops over time, it could signal that you need to revisit your content or maintain your website.

 

Best for: Use this metric to understand how well your website is performing when it comes to serving your customers.

 

8. Churn Rate

Your churn rate measures the number of customers who are concluding their relationship with your business over a set period of time. For example, if you are a service with subscribers your monthly churn rate would show the percentage of users who have cancelled their subscription each month.

 

How to calculate: Calculating your churn rate is simple, just divide the number of customers who have stopped doing business with you by the total number of customers. For example, if you have 20,000 subscribers and 1,000 cancelled last month, you would have a churn rate of 5% for the month.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If you have a high churn rate you can infer that somewhere along the line your customers are becoming disappointed. You’ll need to do some work to understand where in the journey they are seeing less value so you can improve these pain points and extend the customer lifespan.

 

Best for: This is a good metric for softwares or subscription services that rely on monthly recurring revenue.

9. Social Media Engagement

Your social media engagement can show you how interested your customers are in hearing from you and sharing about the work you do. A high social media engagement rate doesn’t always equate to increased sales, but it can definitely help guide your team to know if you’re on the right track in developing rapport, loyalty and strong word-of-mouth.

 

How to calculate: To get a high-level view of your social media engagement, measure your average engagement rate by adding the total number of engagements on a given post (this includes likes, comments and shares) by your total number of followers.

 

How it infers customer engagement: If your social media engagement numbers are low, this could be a sign that you need to do more work providing daily value to your current customers to turn them into brand evangelists. Not all companies rely on social media though, so if your social engagement numbers are low but you have another channel that does well, such as a newsletter, you might want to weigh both sets of metrics against each other before taking action.

 

Best for: Social media engagement can help companies understand how well they are doing when it comes to creating brand awareness and enthusiasm.

Bottom Line

Understanding your customer engagement isn’t always a matter of gathering the most information, but of understanding which metrics to focus on. Every brand should choose a handful of metrics that matter most to their business operations. Depending on your goals, there are only a few metrics that should be tracked regularly to gauge engagement, loyalty, value realization and growth. For the client we mentioned at the start of this article, we were trying to solve for high customer churn. We decided to narrow available data down so we were only focusing on mapping customer satisfaction. We felt this metric could most accurately predict churn. By understanding where in the journey customers were least satisfied, we were able to identify where drop off occurred.

Curious how the evolving customer experience is changing customer sentiment? Check out our recent research report, or contact us today.

Categories
Strategy

Design Studios 101: What, Why, & How to Use Them For Innovation

Most companies share three universal struggles: Breaking down siloed teams, overcoming limited long-term thinking, and resolving internal misalignment around  goals and strategies. So, when it comes time to brainstorm for innovation, these issues cause teams and companies to get stuck in what exists now, rather than envisioning services, products, and experiences that could exist tomorrow.

 

In some ways – that’s a good thing. Pragmatism and realism are essential to growing and scaling any business. But sometimes – and more often than not – it limits teams from meeting their goals, crafting simple, valuable, and meaningful experiences, and driving market demand. On top of that, when numerous puzzle pieces are moving at the same time, the cross-functional sharing of ideas and integration of work streams can suffer, ultimately delivering a less efficient and effective end result and customer experience. All of which can hinder customer engagement and value realization. 

 

Enter: Design studios.

What Are Design Studios & Who Are They Right For?

A design studio is a rapid iterative process that allows teams of varied individuals to share knowledge, work together, solve problems, and create a synergistic roadmap. It’s all about quick collaboration, ideation, and idea creation to find efficiencies in the work, tackle multiple user needs simultaneously, and create a more streamlined and impactful user experience that lends itself to higher conversions, increase customer engagement, and value realization.

 

And design studios aren’t just for product design teams. Sure, they’re most effective when a team is working towards solving problems that have some sort of visual aspect, but they can be utilized for conceptualization, as well. The design thinking practices used throughout Design Studios help push ideation beyond opportunity and optimization, and encourage new ways of aligning and envisioning the future state of a service or product for all teams and work streams. For example, when design thinking is applied to defining the scope and length of media strategies, performance marketing teams can cultivate alignment around target demographics, communication styles, engagement opportunities, and projected outcomes.

Refinement is not the goal, exploration of multiple and near-indefinite ideas is.

7 Ways Design Studios Help Teams

Design studios help people communicate pain points, opportunities, and day-to-day issues in a natural, uninhibited way, which ultimately uncovers moments of truth that maybe wouldn’t have been pinpointed in formal conversations. Because of this, design studios help teams:

 

  1. Establish a framework for teams to fully understand design challenges.
  2. Hear ideas from all perspectives within the team.
  3. Share, iterate, and solidify team ideas.
  4. Break down siloed team initiatives and, instead, empowers a culture of shared ownership.
  5. Generate many ideas within a short span of time.
  6. Encourage open and honest critique in a safe, judgement-free space that allow teams to break down barriers within organizations in a positive way.
  7. Force team members to defend their ideas and negotiate with other team members, establishing productive and useful habits long-term.

From the business development side, design studios help teams assess and identify root causes of internal obstacles and misalignment. Perhaps there are gaps that haven’t been explored because the right questions haven’t been asked. Design studios provide a unique opportunity for leaders and partners to understand the company’s problems through a variety of lenses, and encourages cross-functional collaboration to build on ideas and learn from each other.

 

The biggest thing to remember is that exploration is key and the ultimate goal of a design studio. Too often, teams focus on refining one idea, rather than welcoming and considering new ones. If real commitment to exploration isn’t integrated into the process, opportunities to refine and uncover potentially better solutions may be lost. So, refinement is not the goal, exploration of multiple and near-indefinite ideas is. Once all the ideas have been shared and outlined, refinement can begin.

How to Host a Design Studio

First, make sure all participants have a clear understanding and definition of the target or buyer personas. Questions to answer before a design studio include:

 

  • Personas: Who are you designing for?
  • Scenario: What situation are you designing for?
  • Design Principles: What guidelines should you consider?
  • Business Requirements: What are business requirements, if any?
  • Layout Studio Organization: What does everyone need to do?

Step 1: Assign roles & make Design Studio decisions

You should have one person designated as the facilitator, the timekeeper and the recorder.

 

The facilitator essentially runs the show and ensures all rules are followed and a safe, collaborative environment remains intact throughout the process. It’s the facilitators’ job to problem solve on the fly, as needed, to ensure  all Design Studio steps are completed from start to finish.

 

The timekeeper does just that – keeps time.

 

The recorder takes notes on all expressed pain points, presentations, disagreements, negotiations, ideas, and agreements that surface throughout the process, as well as outlines the plan for initial next steps.

 

This team of Design Studio leaders should decide how many design iterations will take place and the timeline for each step. The time allocated and number of iterations largely depends on the size of the group and the total time you have for the Design Studio in its entirety. The leaders should figure out “the math” and then create a brief itinerary to be shared with all participants at the beginning of the studio.

Tip: When we host Design Studios, we usually allocate five minutes for people to present and explain their sketches.

Step 2: Explain the Rules

Whether in-person or hosting a Design Studio virtually using Zoom or other digital conference tool, kick-off off the exercise by sharing the three cardinal rules:

 

  1. Everyone sketches! All participants in a design studio are doers, not viewers, even if they’ve never done this type or work before. Forcing everyone to actively participate illuminates a huge opportunity for digital experience teams in the organization to come together to work toward one common goal.
  2. No whiteboarding. It has its place and purpose, but it doesn’t belong in a design studio. If your group, team, or table is talking, you’re using group think, not generating new, unique ideas.
  3. Have fun and be creative! The goal for the design studio is to reimagine what’s possible in a creative safe zone. Often, companies focus on an opportunity and have a hard time thinking beyond current limitations and capabilities of technology. Instead of imagining what the experience could be or should be, they identify a specific project, workflow, or stage within the existing user experience they want to improve, but the point of the studio is to give team members an opportunity to reimagine. Disagreements can be verbalized, but it should be done in a kind, drama-free way. And remember, no idea is “too big” or “too crazy.” Encourage your team to push the envelope – or even bust it wide open.

This is also a great time to share the Design Studio agenda and field any remaining questions!

 

Also read: How to Set Content & Design Teams Up For CX Success

Step three: Start sketching

As outlined in the rules, everyone in the Design Studio is required to sketch. If hosting an in-person Design Study, all participants should be armed with lined or dotted letter paper, black pens for drawing, and colored pens for annotating. You can choose to provide sharpies for creating bold lines, light gray markers for filling in background areas, highlighters or colored markers for emphasis on call-to-action buttons, and post-its, as well. Digital sketching tools, such as drawing apps on a tablet, are also acceptable.

 

Virtual Design Studios require a bit more equipment to pull off – planning is key. Everyone will need a phone, camera, or scanner for taking photos of their sketches. We often suggest an iPevo camera. Additionally, a digital board – like Miro or InVision – will need to be set up to collect and organize sketches.

 

Sketches can be quick and unfinished, communicative, and iterative. All participants should avoid getting too sketchy – straight lines are best – and keep color and illustrations (people, stars, avatars) to a minimum.

Step four: Present ideas

If in-person, all participants should present their designs and then hang their drawing on the wall.

 

If hosting a virtual Design Studio, all sketches should be uploaded to a group chat or designated Invision or Miro board. If uploaded to a group chat, the facilitator is responsible for adding them to an Invision or Miro board. Ideally, participants would then present their sketches in real-time using an iPevo camera.

But what about feedback and questions? Ideally, participants should be encouraged to ask questions after each sketch presentation and time should be allocated at the end of each iteration for everyone to chat about the ideas. But, ultimately, it is up to the facilitator to determine if the conversation at hand is worth the time it’s taking. You should empower people to collaborate, ask questions and challenges ideas as they are freshly presented, but if the timeline for the Design Studio is very tight, you can save all conversations for the end.

Tip: When hosting virtual Design Studios, we utilize and upload all images to Invision boards. It's well organized and allows all ideas to be in one place for every single group, every iteration. This is one great way to overcome logistical challenges associated with hosting remote design studios.

Step five: Allow dot voting

This is the step within the Design Studio when everyone evaluates all completed sketches and – using their assigned number of dots (we allocate five per iteration to each participant), distribute their dots according to preference and favorability. So, say, for example, someone was really excited about one idea. They could give it all five of there dots to that singular concept – that denotes highest value. Or grant single dots to individual components or features that were sketched.

 

The voting stage is just as important as the sketching stage! Everyone must participate in order to identify the ideas that are strongest and drive ultimate agreeance and alignment. If you run out of time and can’t execute this step during the Design Studio session, you can enable dot voting after the fact, but be sure to communicate a due date for all votes to be in.

Step 5: Synthesize all sketches, ideas, and voting results

Have a product designer or UX expert synthesize all sketches and ideas, group them into themes, outline insights, and recommend a plan for next steps. This synthesis should then be sent to all stakeholders across departments for validation and final buy-in.

Step 6: Start defining and project planning

Next, identify and organize design phases so that concepting can begin.

 

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map the Entire Customer Journey

The Bottom Line:

Design Studios are incredibly useful when trying to break down silos, create integrated workflows, establish shared ownership, and innovate around existing experiences or solve problems. By bringing numerous perspectives, ideas, experts, and opinions into one room, they can pave the way for innovative ideas and visions for the future, and help improve cross-functional collaboration, communication, ownership, and alignment across stakeholders and departments, which ultimately impacts the final customer experience, increases customer engagement, and improves value realization.

 

By executing or working with partners to power Design Studios regularly, companies can encourage proactive future thinking and help cultivate a stronger, more collaborative work culture that’s focused around the customer experience and ongoing improvement.

Categories
Interviews Strategy

The Evolving Landscape of DTC: A Q&A with SimpleTire CMO Phuong Petersen

Jesus Ramirez: Let’s kick things off! Just a little bit about me. My name is Jesus Ramirez. I’m the VP of Strategy and innovation at Tallwave. And I’m here with Phuong Peterson, CMO at SimpleTire. I’m really excited about this conversation. We’re going to cover quite a lot of topics, everything from the direct-to-consumer space, to building a great brand and customer experience, to looking at new consumer behaviors and opportunities for brands. [We’ll also discuss] what’s on the horizon – [what’s] coming down the pipeline [for Simple Tired] that we should all be excited about. So, there’s a lot to cover, but to start., you have such an amazing background. I’d love if you could share a little bit about your personal journey, your experience, and your background with us.

 

Phuong Petersen: Yeah, absolutely… [I went to] college at Hamilton College, a small liberal arts school. I love small liberal arts because I think it helps you understand all the different types of connections you can make across a lot of disciplinary disciplines. And so that was a really great background. I then jumped into finance, which is kind of odd as a marketing person, to start in finance. But finance was a really great way to start my career. I believe that it’s really important to understand the fundamentals of what makes a business model work and how you [can] make businesses profitable. After a couple of years in finance, I decided that I wanted to be the person who was like making the decisions [on] how to drive revenue and drive growth in the business versus analyzing and trying to inform the decisions.

 

So, I decided to go to business school with the intention of transitioning into marketing. I was able to go to Procter & Gamble after attending Wharton. It was such a great fundamental start… It’s the classic CPG [organization] where you learn all the [buzzwords], branding and marketing fundamentals. I [learned about] consumer insights and how you [can] use insights to drive communication and messaging strategies, but also [about] product development. How you bring all that to life in a creative idea and amplify that through a brand campaign. And then last, [I learned] how to partner with all the other people within [the] ecosystem, like retailers, to really drive growth, not just for you, but for your retailers to grow growth in the market and the category.

 

After several years at Proctor, I left because I had the opportunity to move closer to home and to my family. So, I we went to Boston and actually, looking back in the switch, it was a really odd switch, candidly. I went from CPG brand management to commercial insurance. So, jumping from CA consumer packaged goods to commercial insurance and insurance financial services industry, and then not only that, but doing B2B marketing. I didn’t realize how drastic [that] switch [was]… But it was really a great experience because it’s still taking a lot of the frameworks, I learned in brand management, [and] applying [them in a different way] … There’s a lot of richness in B2B marketing that I don’t think, as business to consumer person, you would know until you do that.

 

So, having that stint to learn B2B marketing in a very different industry kind of like made me realize there’s a lot more out there to learn in marketing and thinking about how you apply marketing tactics and strategies across different disciplines and industries. From there, I, maybe late in my career, realized, “Wow, there’s digital advertising. That’s out there! Maybe I should learn a lot more about it.” This was when DTC was starting to pick up a lot and we were testing a lot of direct-to-consumer products in the financial service industry space – the insurance space. And so, from there, I was able to get my hands dirty and go into at a startup incubator within Liberty Mutual and start learning how to do ad word campaigns. What’s SEO? How do you think about email and deliverability of email? And fortunately, I was then able to jump as COO virtually at Wayfair, which was a really nice. [It] really rounded out my skills because I [still] got to work with the business owners to understand: How do you create the brand strategy? The creative? You know, how do you think about a lifestyle brand like what we did at Birch Lane? But then also own the performance marketing side and own the ad spend efficiency and top line growth. So, a couple of years there was a really great place to really figure out how to put all the pieces together and think about that as a holistic CMO.

 

And then lastly, I joke[that] my husband’s an early adopter of SimpleTire. So, when SimpleTire was coming around, he was like, “You should take a look at this company. It’s got a lot of things going for it. You might not expect and [I] really fell in love with the founders, the culture, what they were doing and realized that it was another place to really hone in on that holistic CMO-skillset at a smaller place where you can actually build something, and then scale it. And it was right at the right time to be able to do that.

Innovation is a really important part because we know that the environment is changing constantly.

JR: That’s fantastic. Yeah. Thanks for sharing all that. I think what I find fascinating about your background is just the diversity of your roles and the well-roundedness of your roles, given all the different types of businesses that you’ve worked on. And it’s interesting because there’s certain things that are commonalities across all industries, like focusing on the customer… or the importance of brand, but then there are very, very big differences if you go, say, from B2C to B2B. So, it’s interesting that you have that experience across all of those… For those in the audience who may not be familiar with SimpleTire, can you tell us a little bit about the company?

 

PP: Yeah. SimpleTire was started in 2012 by two brothers, Andy and Josh Chalofsky who saw a new way to think about: How do we deliver [and] how do we improve the tire buying experience for the customer in a tech driven way? So, they partnered with Kenny Pratt, who’s our CTO, to think about a new business model. What they realized was customers don’t really see the selection of tires that they can get when they just go to a brick and mortar, and secondly, the range of prices you can get with that selection. And so, this was when DTC was starting to pick up. They said, “What if we can do this? Deliver this in a way for the customer that simplifies the process a little bit? So, they have selection, they have the value, they have an easier way of selecting the tires and [having them] delivered in this e-commerce way.”

 

So, the team built that model. [They] built that network of connecting all of the suppliers together, and then having an interface through e-commerce to be able to provide that for the customer. I would say, in the last couple of years to evolve that even more, it wasn’t just about providing the selection of tires and the prices, but actually then thinking about how do we provide a better customer experience in the whole tire replacement journey. Tire replacement probably isn’t the most exciting thing someone looks forward to when they have to do it. And it’s quite a daunting task, if you think about, when you realize you have to solve the problem. So, they realized not only can we actually help select tires, but how do we create convenience out of it and do it all in one solution? Recently we were able to build our network further and have installation partners join our site to be able to let the customer find a place or find the tires, select the tires, purchase tires, and book the installation and pay for all of it online, which is starting to create that convenience and the customer experience that I think is really important, especially for something like replacing tires.

 

JR: Yeah. It’s not the best experience to replace tires. And I love it. It sounds like there’s two really core aspects of what you’re building: One being the convenience factor., and then two being the transparency factor. Transparency around pricing, selection, and just [providing] information. [There’s] a certain amount of education that’s involved.

PP: Yeah, absolutely. So, when you think about what we’ve done, we’ve been doing a lot of consumer research recently, and when someone understands that they have a problem – that they actually have to replace their tires – you start asking yourself locked questions. And one of the things I think is convenient with online is that you actually could: One, do it at your own pace. So, if you’re not ready to tackle it today, you can take your time to do it. Versus when you go to a brick and mortar, you might feel a little more pressure to make those decisions quicker. So, you can take your time to figure out how you want to solve the problem. You can research a lot of information online, the way you [want] to research it… You can find the right shop for you that might be closest to you. You might find the right availability of the tire that you’re looking for. You might not even know what tire size you should have for your vehicle, which is actually the first part of the process, which is a little daunting, itself. And, so, having the ability to do it online, I think helps lower the [customer’s] anxiety a little bit, because they’re able to control the experience more.

 

JR: One thing that’s interesting is that SimpleTire is a part of this growing trend of companies that are moving from what I would say is sort of a traditional retail sales model to a DTC model. We’re seeing this with mattresses, appliances, even cars. Right? And, and so I’m curious, what are some of the unique aspects and challenges of a DTC model [are] that may not exist in traditional model?

 

PP: You mentioned the several categories and even on, you know, virtually from Wayfair, furniture was another big one, as well, because a lot of people like to see it in-person and touch it and understand the dimensions. And so, the first thing I think you think about in terms of going from traditional to DTC is that it’s just a new process. We’re so used to going into a store and looking at things, right? So, the idea of just starting a whole process, it’s a new habit or new routine that you have to figure out how to tackle. So, that’s the first challenge. And when you have something unfamiliar, the question then [is how do you try] to make it more familiar so [that] it’s not so daunting.

 

For example, like I mentioned on, on SimpleTire, we actually just released our simple snap feature… It’s really difficult to find your tire size, you don’t even know what a tire size is. You’re trying to figure out where it is on your tire. So, we actually created a product where you can take a picture of your tire that will identify your tire size, and then ultimately you could just upload a picture, and we’ll get your tire recommendations. What I love about that feature is that everyone knows how to take a picture on their cell phone, right? So, you just have to point your phone and take a picture where all the numbers are on the tire. Then it will just automatically tell you what the right tire sizes [and surface what] the recommendations we [suggest you] think about for your vehicle.

 

It’s taking something familiar that you’re used to, and trying to make it a little easier and simpler to adopt the new process… So, trying to figure out how to connect certain familiar steps to [your process] in a way to be able to help grease the wheels when trying to [drive adoption of] a new habit or a new routine.

 

I think the second piece is [that] there’s a lot of anxiety around a new process. One of the things we learned in our process was when you have multiple players in the experience – like the installer, us, and the customer – there is this question of, “Do I know if all of it is going to happen seamlessly?” We found communication [to be] really important [in order] to lower that anxiety so that everyone’s on the same page and [being] brought along for the [same] ride… Communication [as] part of the customer experience is really important to alleviate some of the anxiety that people might have [about] a new experience, [whether it’s] doing something online, like buying tires or mattresses or a house or whatever it is nowadays.

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map the Customer Journey

Communication as part of the customer experience is really important to alleviate some of the anxiety that people might have about a new experience.

JR: That’s interesting – this notion of the anxiety. Maybe not knowing the full picture. One of the things that I was thinking about is when you’re making a decision about something like tires, what if something goes wrong? That’s probably inevitably one of the questions that people are thinking about in this experience. And so, there’s ways I imagine to mitigate that upfront, so that those things aren’t a concern. Right?

 

PP: Exactly. So, you know, obviously like easy returns is the way. What I love – to your point – about some of the experiences I’ve had: How do you think about connecting the dots on what you experienced in your current role? You know, when I was at CPG, you always think about the product itself. What are all the different components that [can] make the toothpaste experience better? What’s the basic function of toothpaste? What do you want the experience to be when people are actually brushing their teeth and [done brushing their teeth]? For example, the experience of your [teeth being whiter]. There’s all these things and components you think about from a product experience.

 

It’s very similar when you think about the overall DTC experience. How do you have all those pieces fit together to make an overall seamless experience that someone doesn’t even think about? So, you know, those worries or anxieties of, “Will the installer know that I’m supposed to show up?” for example. How do you make sure… they don’t have to have those questions? The other piece, too, [is], ‘What happens if I don’t really like the tires? What do I do with them?” You just have to think about all the different components that you’d need to build an entire process and product [around] to make sure it [delivers] the experience that you would want to experience as a customer.

 

JR: Yeah, that’s great. It’s an interesting challenge to try to anticipate some of those challenges along the way and address them early on. One thing that I really appreciate that you mentioned, and it sounds like this was very intentional from get go, is that SimpleTire is really trying not just to build a great business – and certainly it is – but also trying to build a great brand. A recognized brand that has lasting power and is recognizable. And so obviously, you know a lot about building great brands with your experience at P&G and Wayfair and Liberty Mutual. How do you think about building great brands, and not just great products or even great businesses? What’s the difference between the two and what are some of those components that you need to focus on early on?

PP: It’s interesting because there’s the three components we talked about: There is brand, product, and business, and they’re actually tied closely together in very different ways. So, I’ve been trying to figure out how to dissect that a little bit. When you think about a brand, the brand starts off with the product, right? So, when you think about the brand, it’s tied to a specific product. And what you try to do as a brand is elevate the brand into something a little more than just functional benefits of a product, but actually elevate it more to make an emotional connection with the customer around a certain higher order benefit, or even something like your brand vision. And so, I think that’s the aspiration of a lot of brands: How do you get a person who associates your brand with a certain product that you might have at the beginning… Obviously you have to deliver the product benefit – it has to be consistent in what the brand is going to stand for, so there’s some consistency there that you have to make sure is there. But ultimately, how do you elevate the whole experience or the idea of the brand a little higher or more so that you create that emotional connection? I think that takes time, it takes – from a product point of view – it takes not just thinking about the product experience, but actually all the experiences after or before the product, so you kind of have to think about this halo effect of what the experiences is. It’s not when you actually use the product, but it’s before, it’s after, it’s when you see the product on shelf. And then, what’s interesting about the business side of it, the business model enables some of that product or customer experience then to elevate the brand.

 

If you don’t have a sustainable business model, if you’re not allocating the right resources, then you’re never going to be able to build a better product, build a better customer experience, and then build – and ultimately spend money – to build the brand. So, the business model itself… you have to have the unit economics right for the business model to be able to fund and grow and nurture the product, the customer experience, and then the brand. And lastly, what I think is really exciting… The business and the products evolve over time. It’s not like it’s static. So, then the question is, how the brand stretches equity and grows as the business grows and as the products grow. So, I use an example, like Amazon. It started off as just an online retailer of books. It probably was just associated, at one point, with books. But then, as the business model grew, as it stretched its equity, now it stands for something completely different than books.

 

That takes time, but that’s where I think there’s a challenge for brand builders, because what you’re trying to do is create consistency [in] what people think of your brand, but [at the same time], your business is stretching and growing. So, how do you ensure you keep the consistency, but [are still able to] push [the brand] in places and ways that you know your business model or your expansion of product lines [are going] into. And then ultimately, how do you elevate it in a way [that] it’s not even just about the products, but it’s about an emotional connection? [For example,] Apple with innovation, Nike with ‘Just do it,’ or [their ethos of] perseverance and powering through things. Those brands have a lot of equity that they’ve been able to stretch and build over time.

 

Also read: Disrupting the Status Quo With a Travel App

You have to have the unit economics right for the business model to be able to fund and grow and nurture the product, the customer experience, and then the brand.

JR: I think one of the things that that resonates is this clarity of message that you need to have around your values, your vision, and how the brand needs to represent something other than the product itself. The product or the service really becomes a manifold, like one of the manifestations of the brand. You see this over and over. I think a really good example of this is Disney and Disney+. They came out and, you know, they have theme parks and, all of a sudden, they launch a subscription service, and it immediately takes off because what people are buying is the brand, and not necessarily the product or the service.

 

PP: And it’s the experience that the brand elevates in those different ways that they are able to do it. It’s pretty incredible… With kids too. Now that I have kids, I think about certain brands like Legos. They have such a higher order brand, in terms of creativity, imagination, education, but they’re able to – to your point – have it manifest through these great products that kids are always wanting… It’s their way to express themselves. That took years. So, it’s pretty amazing how a collection of leaders is able to keep the ship steered in certain direction, but then [also] add an element to evolve with generations. It’s really impressive.

 

JR: That’s awesome. So, I’m going to shift a little bit… The way your model works, there [are] actually three parties involved. You have to take into consideration your customers, obviously, but you also have your suppliers and now you have your installation partners. So, in essence, you have a multi-sided marketplace here, and I imagine that you have to keep them all happy. What unique challenges does this represent? How do you provide value and a great experience for all of them simultaneously?

 

PP: Yeah. What I really love about my role is that my role doesn’t just own brand and performance marketing, but actually when it’s merchandising. [That includes] channel strategy, pricing, and promotion. So, it really is like thinking about, how do you partner with all these different people, and have all those components work together to make it a win-win relationship with them? The nice part is [that] we all have the same goal in mind. [For example], suppliers [want] to make sure they deliver the right tire to the customer, right? And installers want to us and the customer to have an amazing experience, and vice versa. What I love about SimpleTire is when we think about our brand purpose, it’s how do you take something complex and make it simple that doesn’t just resonate with the customer, [but] actually resonates with our suppliers.

 

So, how do you think about your brand, not just on like what’s forward-facing with the consumer, but how do we make sure our brand is expressed through all of our partners, as well? How do we simplify and make it easier for our partners to work with us? [That] is actually a really important part of our brand. And having a similar brand purpose and promise to all of our partners, including our customers, I think really helps us be able to just make sure that we’re all embodying the same spirit across all three [touchpoints]. With that said, how it manifests itself is just a little different [when it comes to] how we think about working with our suppliers and what simplification in working with us means for [our suppliers], our installers, and our customers.

JR: Yeah. I love that. Your brand values have to resonate with all three parties. You don’t have different ones for each. It’s one that resonates across all three. I think that’s fantastic. With this idea of having installation partners, if you think about the entire customer experience that that you’re involved in from the very beginning where it’s thinking about or researching, or even just recognizing that you need to replace your tires all the way through to doing the actual installation. Like you said, there’s probably several steps after that to just stay top of mind, and to continue to deliver an amazing experience, but there are parts of that process and that journey that you’re not in complete control of. When you pass off a customer to an installation partner, you don’t have e as tight as tight of control, as you do say, [with] the online experience. How do you drive a really consistent and cohesive brand experience across channels or parts of the experience that you may not own entirely?

 

PP: That’s a great question. And I think a lot of DTC brands in our situation probably have the same challenges. I think the first thing is really ensuring that, again, we all have the same goal. We want the customer experience to be great. Obviously, the installers want the customer to have a great experience because we just gave them a lead. They got a new customer, that they might have not had in the past. So, clearly, they have [an] opportunity. We’ve heard this from installers, they appreciate it. They’re like, “You just gave us lead. It’s our job to do a really good job.” Then we can help. We can have that customer experience and make it a win-win for both. Ultimately, they want to see if they can maintain that relationship with the customer in the future.

 

So, understanding what we both bring to the table, what we have this common goal for, I think is important. And then the second piece is… It goes back to my B2B days. It’s really about relationships and making sure that the installation partners and ourselves, they see that we are in a partnership with them. How do we actually drive more value for them on our site? How do we make sure their digital presence is better? How do we make sure that we are representing their shop in a way that they want – [providing information that] they want the customer [to know, whether] they specialize in certain services, et cetera. We’re actually working very closely right now to evolve that experience further and make sure that we’re doing that work… I think that’s a really important part of the overall experience, and also just being a good partner to them to make sure that we have that end-to-end relationship.

Your brand values have to resonate with all three parties. You don't have different ones for each consumer. You brand values must that resonates across all of them.

JR: Yeah, absolutely. And it sounds like there is a continuous process to learn, not just about the needs and the pain points of your customers, but then also the pain points and needs of your partners, and continuously evolving the experience and the functionality and the things that they need to be successful. You’re supporting, in essence, an ecosystem and you have to be continuously evolving the value that you’re providing to each side of that ecosystem continuously. So that’s fantastic. You know, one of the things, and I think you mentioned this, which I liked, this notion of values-based alignment, and almost like driving an emotional outcome, or aligning on an emotional outcome that you’re driving for your consumer, as well… I want to get one last question, and then I think we’re going to switch over to question Q&A… As you continue to evolve SimpleTire: The brand, you’re offering. How do you think about creating other parts or other products, or involving other products and making other products available – is that part of the roadmap, or how do you think about that? What comes next? What do you offer as a part of this platform?

 

PP: Yeah, I think it always starts with customer and consumer research. So, I think innovation is a really important part because we know that the environment’s changing constantly. And so, you want to really be up to speed with what the consumer [is] thinking today, what are their needs today? And then hopefully understand the pain points, [or] even predict what could be their needs in the future. And so, I think every brand is constantly in that innovation cycle. Again, it starts with the research. And so, for us, I think we’ll continue to start thinking about that and figuring out what are the pain points that customers have even with our current online experience. Maybe there might be some pain points or in the future what are ancillary experiences they might have and be able to do that. So, more to come, but we’re just continuing to try to figure that out for the customer.

 

JR: Yeah. That’s great. Well, I think we’re going to switch over to a Q&A, so there’s a couple of questions that are coming in. One of them is, what’s it been like to join a brand-new company in the middle of a pandemic?

 

PP: There’s a lot of people that I’ve met have done this. I think on my team, several two or three people have joined, as well, during the pandemic. We were growing so quickly as a company. And so, it’s really interesting. I would say one: You realize it’s pretty seamless in some ways to get up to speed with technology now. Honestly, it sounds weird to say, “Oh, you just shut one computer down from one company, and then you open up a computer and then you’re at the next company.” It’s not as seamless. It can seem seamless like that. But I would say the hardest part is really connecting with team members and trying to connect, particularly with our leadership team… and then my team members.

 

And so that’s probably the hardest part. We joke. We’re like, “We haven’t even met each other in person, and it’s been a year!” … I think the nice part though, I will say is, making sure you take the time to make that connection and meet people. Get to know people and try to create those bonds. So, you try to do happy hours, you try to do all of these new, innovative ways of connecting and bonding through virtual games. For example, we just had a virtual game night, our whole company, last night for St. Patty’s Day. And I think that’s been helpful to do that. But you still have to figure out how to create comradery, I think, even though you don’t see each other. It’s just a little more difficult.

 

Also read: Customer Experience Trends Driving the Hospitality Industry

JR: Yeah. One thing that’s been interesting is the need to be intentional about all the communications or the onboarding. Just continuously creating these moments where you can have informal get-togethers, and things like that. You have to be very intentional about it. One other question: How you think about what comes next, and this is either [trends] in the DTC space or just the marketing space, in general?

 

PP: Yeah. It’s a great question. You have to make time for it. Sit down and think – that’s the hardest part. You’re online, you’re trying to just get things going, and then you’re like, maybe I should take a moment to sit down and think more broadly and next year [or] a couple of years out. So, I actually have to do it. I think about it actually now in a couple of ways. One, on the marketing end: There’s this whole – as a marketing person [and] having a passion for marketing – there’s this whole space of like, how do I learn? How do I think about the future trends of marketing, like digital advertising and marketing? How do I think about content? How do I think about digital content strategy end-to-end? How do we learn more about it? So, from a functional point of view, there’s this whole space of how do I think years out? And then there’s this business-sense [related to] the tire industry? How do I think about the trends and marketplaces and entire industry? How do I think long-term? So, it’s exciting, but it’s actually kind of like, how do I? And then, how do I put the pieces together and think [about how they intersect]? It is difficult to do because it does require you to get outside what you do normally, day to day, and actually have that external thinking, an external viewpoint. You have to be curious and passionate about what you’re reading and doing to be able to think about what’s next and taking the time to do that.

 

Whether it’s a lot of content – reading or subscribing to a lot of things – and then meeting a lot of different people. Keeping the connections, you’ve [made in the past is so important]. I can’t tell you how many people I now tap into [from within] my own network that I haven’t maybe talked to in several years, but hey, they’re in a different space or different places. It’s like, “Hey, let’s just connect so I can hear what you’re up to, and what you’re thinking about.” Those are actually really important, as well, to make the connection and to get that perspective from someone else. To see what they’re seeing and thinking.

 

Interested in having a conversation with one of our team members or participating in private roundtables with other business leaders? Send us a message through our contact form

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Tallwave Named to CIOReview’s 2021 Most Promising Customer Experience Management Companies

Read the original article published on CIOReview

 

CIOReview, March 2021 – Today, businesses are designing their organizations to maximize their customers’ experience. However, their efforts often fall flat as siloed systems within their organization block the flow of vital information between different departments. Without internal collaboration and alignment, companies are unable to meet rapidly changing customer needs. Enter: Tallwave. A Customer Experience Design Company, Tallwave combines a data-centric approach to understanding human behavior, first-hand qualitative and quantitative customer research, proprietary technology, as well as user-centered design and marketing expertise to create and implement exceptional customer experiences. Whether it’s branding, product design, content strategy, or customer acquisition and retention, Tallwave is a one-stop-shop that creates unparalleled experiences that ultimately wins the hearts and minds of their clients’ customers. “From employees to end-users, Tallwave analyzes the thoughts and experience of every customer to provide a holistic CX strategy,” says Jeff Pruitt, CEO of Tallwave.

 

While other companies work in a reactive state and, therefore, only optimize singular components of their client’s existing CX at a time, Tallwave approaches their work through a holistic lens. Relying on data to drive surface-to-core roadmaps and achieve cross-functional alignment, they identify key moments of friction and opportunity at each stage of the customer’s journey, and use those insights to craft cohesive and intuitive experiences at every touchpoint. This whole-picture method enables them to design agile work streams for continuous momentum and growth.

While other companies work in a reactive state and, therefore, only optimize singular components of their client’s existing CX at a time, Tallwave approaches their work through a holistic lens.

Leveraging their proprietary, proven solutions Tallwave is able to help clients improve customer acquisition while decreasing customer acquisition cost; increase customer engagement; grow market share; decrease customer churn; expand into new markets; and develop new products and services to meet the evolving needs of their clients’ customers.

 

To do this, they bring stakeholders together to participate in fast-paced, collaborative workshops and help develop integrated workstreams to drive critical, cross-functional outcomes. As a result, silos are broken down and cross-functional alignment on goals and metrics needed to gauge regular progress are established.

 

The Tallwave team marries this work with full digital intelligence on customers and the market to develop strategic plans, and helps to execute many of the workstreams, which often include user testing, rapid prototyping, product developing, acquisition marketing, rebranding, program managing, redesigning employee experiences to better deliver on customer experiences, and more.

 

Recently, one of Tallwave’s biggest clients – a leading global credit card company – saw the demographics of their core customers changing. The benefits and service offerings they desired, especially as it related to travel, were shifting, as well. The client needed to innovate and deliver improved digital-first travel experiences to prevent customers from abandoning the brand. The answer? Developing an omnichannel travel booking experience that allowed travelers to book itineraries, make changes and add personally curated plans through a travel consultant or on their own through several mediums. In order to do so, Tallwave worked with travel consultants, and unpacked the systems and processes that were responsible for delivering the current experience. From there, they outlined the necessary future state by pulling in consumer insights on what benefits and experiences were appealing to this new demographic. By combining all these insights and breaking up the work into different workstreams, Tallwave was able to deliver a seamless experience by working from the inside out.

Also read: Creating a contemporary experience for a strong, timeless brand

 

This agile and adaptable mindset helped Tallwave to navigate and thrive through the pandemic, as well. A thoughtful action plan maintained employee retention and grew the core business. They also underwent a strategic rebrand effort themselves that helped galvanize the team and set a new course for the company’s future. “COVID-19 helped us understand the human experience more deeply and provide more value to clients,” says Pruitt. This drove the ethos behind their new rebrand, revitalized company values, and customer experience design strategies: To always employ an approach that incorporates the heart, the mind and the matter and put empathy for humans at the core. “We look forward to the inspiration that comes from being with one another, but we also look forward to embracing the human value of being able to work in a place where one can get great work done,” ends Pruitt.

Want to learn more about our work? Send us a message via our contact form 

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Tallwave Takes Texas: Meet the Dallas Team

As a customer experience design company, our people are essential to creating and delivering remarkable solutions for everyone we work with.

 

We know that doing big things requires people who get it – people who are told they can’t change things and then go ahead and change them anyway. People who embrace a maverick attitude, who challenge convention, and think beyond the ask. These are the kinds of people that affect positive change and growth for our company and clients, and the kinds of mavericks we’re loading our new Dallas office with.

 

Meet the Tallwavers helping us serve the Dallas market on the ground. And if you’re in the area, schedule a virtual or socially distanced coffee with them by emailing Dallas@Tallwave.com or dropping us a note here. They’re ready to help you create unstoppable momentum and deliver exceptional customer experiences.

 

Learn more about our Dallas expansion here

Matthew Kiesel, Senior Consultant

Matthew Kiesel Tallwave bio

A highly-motivated management consultant and client development professional, Matthew joined the Tallwave team with 14 years of experience with aviation finances, joint ventures, merger and acquisition integrations, sales and distribution, revenue management, and loyalty programs. Working previously at Sabre, a travel technology company focused on airline software and service, as well as American Airlines and United Airlines, Matthew is Tallwave’s travel expert. A Texas-native, Matthew is a Texas Christian University graduate and self-proclaimed “rowdy Horned Frog football fan.”

3 Questions with Matthew

  • What’s your favorite thing about Dallas?  Dallas has all the benefits of a big city, but still maintains a small town feel. I love that Dallas has everything a world class city should offer: an amazing restaurant scene, sports teams, museums, and fun activities. Yet you can easily run into friends around town, and the attitude of the people mimics the charm of small town Texas.
  • What expertise and specialities do you bring to the Tallwave team? My background prior to Tallwave is in management consulting and corporate finance, specifically in the travel industry. Coming to Tallwave I’m hoping to share my financial acumen and experience in strategy development with our team and clients. Blending my formal consulting experience with Tallwave’s pursuit of “thoughtful rigor” and “maverick attitude” should benefit our client engagements.
  • What experiences of the future are you most excited about? I can’t wait back to get back to travel — both personally and professionally. Prior to the pandemic, I was traveling around the world for about 2/3 of the year for client engagements. Additionally, I love seeing and exploring new countries on my own time. As the world reopens, I am excited to get back on the road. Additionally, I’ve yet to meet any of my Tallwave clients in person. So extending my client relationships beyond Zoom is a top goal for the near future.

Check out our work: Distrupting the Status Quo With a Travel App

Dannette Urquhart, Consultant

With experience in account management, retail, and technology, Danette brings passion and a proven track record for building and retaining customer relationships that grow businesses and increase sales to the Tallwave team and Dallas market. A Dallas-native, Dannette yells her Texas pride loud and proud. An undergrad alumni of the University of North Texas, she is now pursuing her MBA at Southern Methodist University, and is a devoted Cowboys and Texas Rangers fan.

3 Questions with Dannette

  • What’s your favorite thing about Dallas? Dallas is home. It’s where I’m from. I particularly love the patio dining and drinking scene, the summertime poolside fun, and participating in the football at AT&T stadium or one of our many cool sports bars. Most importantly – the people are great.
  • Why did you become a Consultant? Because I love strategizing and creating solutions for clients by developing relationships. I get to be creative and push boundaries in a way that makes businesses better. Plus, I get bored easily, so I appreciate that every client and account is different, and brings with it it’s own unique challenges.
  • What’s your personal and professional life motto? KEEP GOING! There’s no such thing as failure, only learning opportunities. Those opportunities build strength and character that make you better and enable you to help others.

Brooke Weidenbaker, Senior Digital Intel Strategist

Brooke Weidenbaker - Meet Team Tallwave

Brooke is a business and marketing professional with experience in both agency and client-side communications and analytics across multiple industries including, technology, retail, CPG, auto, financial services, education, and more. Prior to joining the Tallwave team, Brooke was the Lead Retention Operations Consultant for AT&T, and Director of Analytics for both Rockfish and Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles, Originally from Kansas, she lived in Texas for 10 years; now she splits her time with her two rescue dogs between Los Angeles and Dallas.

3 Questions with Brooke

  • What’s your favorite thing about Dallas? I moved to Dallas in 2011 and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Dallas has so much to offer, a booming economy, delicious food, amazing art all throughout the city, and a variety of entertainment options including sporting events! I think my favorite thing about Dallas though is the people I’ve met. Growing up in middle America people were always very friendly but in Dallas, the southern hospitality really makes newcomers feel welcome!
  • Why did you become a Senior Strategist? My career has taken many turns throughout the years. I started in Finance and Telecom, then shifted to Marketing after I realized I wanted a balance between numbers and people! After graduating from TCU with my MBA, I entered the agency world. I also grew up in an entrepreneurial family and have owned my own small retail business on the side for the past five years. I really enjoy working as a Strategist at Tallwave because it presents the opportunity to creatively solve business problems for a variety of clients across multiple industries. No day is ever the same!
  • How do you employ empathy and creativity into your job? In my mind, both are vital to success and working well as a team! So much of our work at Tallwave is collaborative, therefore, having empathy for not only our team members but also our clients is imperative. We have a great team at Tallwave, we all care about each other personally and professionally and are available to help each other out when things get overwhelming. As a Strategist, I have the opportunity to creatively shape deliverables on a daily basis. That is part of the fun of it. Charting the path forward!

Check out our work: Upleveling a product that’s all about great service

Brian Hambrick, Senior Strategist

A 6th generation Texan, Brian comes to Tallwave from Dallas where he built his career working in various Strategy and Planning roles at Advertising Agencies such as Deutsch, Tracylocke and the Integer group. Brian brings over 12 years of experience in research, strategy, and planning and has worked across a wide range of clients in the CPG, Hospitality, Food, Retail, Automotive and Telco industries. Most recently Brian worked at Cici’s Pizza as the Director of Innovation helping the brand develop new pizza flavors and transition from a traditional media approach to a digital first media approach.

Interested in joining the Dallas team? We’re hiring! Check out our open positions here

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News

Continuing Our Growth Story By Joining the Dallas Market

Momentum is movement. Momentum is change. For our clients, we aim to create positive momentum in the form of improving their customer experience, growing their business, or disrupting their marketplace.

 

For Tallwavers, positive momentum can be found in the ways we push ourselves to grow – personally and professionally.

 

Momentum never stops. It evolves with every experience we have.

 

Now, we’re adding to our growth story by bringing our customer experience design services to Dallas’s robust business and tech ecosystem.

 

Read the official press release

Proprietary processes, tools, and tailored services enable Tallwave to deliver repeatable and actionable outcomes for clients.

What does Tallwave uniquely bring to the Dallas market?

Our empathetic and client-first attitude. We partner with stakeholders and change makers within companies to help them achieve the results and ROI they need to exceed expectations and defined KPIs.

 

Additionally, we bring a team of diverse designers, researchers, brand developers, marketers and strategizers who break down barriers to accelerate growth and deliver unparalleled customer experiences. By utilizing human-centric design practices, Tallwavers aim to win the hearts and minds of our clients’ customers. They lean into their own personal and professional experiences to challenge convention and offer fresh perspectives to drive fast results.

 

Lastly, the expansion brings “The Tallwave Way” to the Dallas market. Our proprietary processes, tools, and tailored services enable us to deliver data-backed repeatable and actionable outcomes for clients. Our guiding principles – to lead with empathy, curiosity, and humility – and heart, mind, matter ethos enable us to creatively solve for specific needs.

 

Also read: Tallwave Takes Texas: Meet the Dallas Team

The Tallwave Way

How does Tallwave’s expansion into Dallas benefit current and future employees?

Tallwave is a fast-growing company, so we’re always looking to add great people to the team who think beyond the ask and possess a growth mindset. Although we offer remote work and flexible office hours to all employees, we believe it’s still important to provide a safe space where employees can go to focus, connect, and work together, as needed. It also presents a promise of even more room for growth as our Dallas office and other geographies grow.

View open positions

What else should business leaders in the Dallas market know?

Companies are often wrestling with one of three situations – they’re looking to grow market share, they’re looking to disrupt their market, or they’re trying to stave off disruption. We have integrated solutions specifically designed to help these situations.

Interested in seeing some of our work?

Check out the case studies below:

Are you in Dallas? We’d love to grab coffee, virtually or socially distanced. Email us at Dallas@Tallwave.com or send us a message via our contact form.