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This Week In CX: Brands Put Humans, Connections & Post-COVID Plans First

In a week like the one we’ve all had, it’s hard to sit down and write a blog with banter and applause. In fact, many of us at Tallwave have had moments of staring at our computer screens in astonishment, disappointment, disapproval, and tears. And while we try to move forward and learn from every experience we face, we know that being sad is more than okay. It’s absolutely crucial to take breaks and allow space to breathe. To question, ponder, and search for, “What next?”

 

The fact is, something unprecedented happened to all of us – it impacted our friends, families, communities and democracy. But if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we can not stop trying to be the positive change. We can’t let divisiveness, ugliness, or hate win. We must support one another with empathy, put our fellow neighbors and citizens first, and evaluate the role we play and want to play in our ever-evolving world.

 

In honor of looking for the helpers – in this case, the people and brands who are doing some good – here are the biggest business, tech and data developments that occurred this past week and will most certainly impact how we design and deliver the customer experiences of tomorrow.

If we put humans first and work together to create positive change, we can and will prevail.

Bringg & Uber Announce Partnership to Enhance Delivery Capabilities For All

Shopping has changed immensely since the onset of COVID-19, and so have business demands on retail delivery.

 

Well, to answer the troubles and tribulations felt by many business owners who strive to deliver exceptional customer experience – which involves availability of delivery providers and proper operational engineering of delivery workflows and driver engagement (ahem, because employee experience impacts customer experience) – Bringg (a leading delivery and fulfillment cloud provider) and Uber announced their plans to join forces for one common good.

 

“The world is rapidly changing, and retailers need to adapt to meet customers where they are,” said Niko Avrutov, VP of Alliances at Bringg. “Our partnership with Uber provides retailers with more flexibility in the delivery cycle, not only ensuring that our customers get their orders when and where they want, but enables them to do so without compromising quality or profitability in the delivery cycle, which is key to an excellent customer experience and maintaining a healthy business.”

But the partnership isn’t only beneficial for the delivery cloud provider; it will enable Uber to expand its services into the retailer space, as well – and fast.

 

“The partnership between Bringg and Uber is neat,” Tallwave’s Senior Product Designer Alyssa Hayes thinks. “It demonstrates how two different companies can find opportunities and adapt their services to suit this rapidly changing landscape. By leveraging and combining their respective strengths and products offerings, they’ll be able to provide a better experience for their own customers (businesses), which in turn enables those businesses to confront the challenges of access and fulfillment for their customers.”

 

The partnership is a perfect silver lining result of the new normal we’re all living in.

 

“By not being able to go into stores as easily, as frequently, or even at all in some cases, our shopping experiences may extend across days and weeks as we now depend on the abilities and bandwidth of couriers to facilitate the hand-off from store to buyer,” explains Alyssa. “For some, this is simply a minor inconvenience of being forced to delay gratification between purchase and use. For others, it has caused significant issues in not being able to access essential and necessary items for daily living. And for businesses, this has created friction in the ability to maintain sales and get products delivered quickly and easily.”

"They'll be able to provide a better experience for their own customers (businesses), which in turn enables those businesses to confront the challenges of access and fulfillment for their customers."

The Bringg-Uber partnership will help to resolve this. According to Alyssa, strategic partnerships like this – ones that create stronger, more efficient and more flexible delivery networks – will help people get what they need, when they need it. “Think prescriptions, medical supplies, or food for those without access to their own transportation,” she says.

 

And it may even make way for people to support local businesses more. “I would love to see this as a way to potentially help people shop smaller and sustainable businesses in their community rather than leaning on Amazon as the go-to for (literally) everything.”

 

Alexa, you can take a break. We’ll order our goods elsewhere.

Also read: Solving For the Lack of Diversity in CX

Connection Still Matters. New Survey Reveals 46% of Consumers Still Want to Shop In Store

The days of in-person shopping aren’t over – or at least, consumers don’t want them to be. A new survey conducted by Raydiant found that 46% of respondents, when given a choice, would choose to shop in-store rather than online. Now, while this figure is down 9% compared to 2020, it’s vastly better than many businesses were expecting.

 

The most crucial takeaway from the survey, though, was the emphasis on a store’s in-person experience and its impact on a customer’s likelihood to return. Sixty percent of respondents said they’d abandon a retailer after a poor offline shopping experience. Conversely, 65% said they’d likely support a business both online and in-person after a good in-store experience.

 

What makes a good experience, you ask? The top five factors contributors were reportedly quality of service, variety of products, store layout and organization, health and safety procedures, and checkout efficiency.

These survey results weren’t a huge surprise to Tallwave Chief Operations Officer Ed Borromeo. “In-store and in-person experiences are still very important to overall brand experience,” he says. “While we’ll continue to see this shift to digital, I’m witnessing some of the most progressive brands – even those that started as digital-only – strongly consider and implement useful and valuable in-person experiences. In the post-pandemic world, those who can integrate health & safety into seamless in-store experience will have an advantage.”

 

The question is, as businesses attempt to return to some version of normalcy in 2021, how will they ensure the trust and safety of all shoppers who wander in, whether they’ve been vaccinated or not? Be it a phased approach, mask mandates regardless of vaccination, continued limited capacities or badges that signify vaccination, we’ll have to see. One thing is for sure: It’s no longer “Shop ‘til you drop!” It’s now “Shop ‘til you feel your health is at risk.”

"In the post-pandemic world, those who can integrate health & safety into seamless in-store experience will have an advantage.”

Scotiabank & Cineplex Join Forces to Enhance Loyalty Programs & Serve Customers Right

In more partnership news from overseas, Scotiabank and Cineplex announced their plans to collaborate on an improved loyalty program that will deliver more desirable benefits and rewards for users. Not only will points be redeemable for entertainment and dining, but members will soon be able to use them to purchase brand-name merchandise, book flexible travel, or pay off credit bills.

 

This is big news because loyalty programs are where it’s at in 2021.

 

“Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to leverage their interactions with brands,” says Tallwave’s Senior Consultant Jason Edwards. “As price variations in many markets like entertainment, travel, and retail becomes tighter, brands are looking for ways to further engage with their customers. Loyalty programs have the ability to provide a boost.”

 

But, there’s a catch.

 

“The structure of the rewards plays a very important role in the success of a program. The opportunities to ‘earn’ rewards along with the ability to ‘burn’ (redeem) earnings are key elements to creating the right loyalty program,” explains Jason.

While Scotiabank and Cineplex are certainly on a fruitful, consumer-centric path, there’s a new key element Jason says they – and any consumer brands – may want to consider incorporating into the near future.

"Consumers are increasingly looking for ways to leverage their interactions with brands"

“Now loyalty programs need to be more than simple ‘earn & burn’ opportunities for customers. There is a limit to the impact loyalty programs generally provide. In part, since customers must spend money to earn rewards, these kinds of programs often don’t provide value to occasional customers or those with lower spending habits.”

 

What does that mean brands that are wanting to improve and innovate their loyalty programs should do? Strategize through a holistic lens.

 

“Consider providing rewards earlier in the customer’s engagement,” Jason suggests. “This could include non-monetary benefits of programs, or by lowering the threshold for reward accumulation. Another way to further empower loyalty programs is to find ways to make the customer feel a part of a group. American Express’s tagline ‘Membership has its privileges’ is a good example of the thinking that brands should be invoking.”

 

Community is everything. Serving humans should be prioritized above all else. Place these values at the forefront of your strategic planning and consumers will celebrate you with their own rewards – satisfaction, loyalty, and long-term support. And, if you ever need a helping hand, Tallwave is here for you.

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Strategy

The Power of the Micro-Yes: A Guide to Modern Sales & Marketing

Let’s start with an example.

 

I have an 11-year old daughter, Bailey, that intuitively understands the value of the micro-yes. It’s something she (and many other kids) seem to know from birth.

Here’s a Micro-Yes scenario:

 

Let’s say on Tuesday she and her best friend, Jordan, decide they’d like to have a sleepover at our house. They decide that they’d like to go to Amazing Jake’s, get DQ, and camp out in the living room to watch Netflix. Of course, dad and mom have no idea this is coming, but my daughter has a plan.

 

Now, she could tell me the whole plan when I pick her up from school and try to get my buy-in. But, would that be the best approach? No.

 

Instead, she’ll warm me up by telling me what a great dad I am when I pick her up at school. And, then casually drop in that she’d like to have Jordan over on Saturday for a sleepover.

 

Of course!

 

Then, later in the week, she might drop the line about how fun it was the last time we went to Amazing Jake’s together. We’d reminisce. And, then she’d have a great idea! “Could we all go to Amazing Jake’s during the sleepover?”

 

Sure!

 

Then, while we’re having a blast at Amazing Jake’s (with her friend next to her), “Hey could we pretty please stop for Dairy Queen on the way home.” And, they’d both break out the sad eyes.

 

Oooookaaay.

 

And, well, you get the point. She’ll get everything much more easily if she breaks those “asks” up into bite sized chunks. What’s crazy is, growing up, we all intuitively know this – and it worked to such great effect as children.

If employee experience is not something you’re actively monitoring, you should take steps to do it today. There’s no time to wait.

So, why do we so frequently forget all of this in marketing AND sales?

How often do we see websites with a buy-now button without a flow through the benefits and value proposition?

 

How many cold emails have we all received with a pitch before so much as an introduction to a value prop?

The Micro-Yes Approach

This graphic by MECLABS shows the road to the Ultimate Yes – a conversion – including all the parts or decision points that can be optimized themselves to increase your conversion rate or probability of a sale.

The Ultimate Yes

The Ultimate Yes is at the top of the funnel denoted by Yu. This is the conversion action you would like your customers to take. This is likely a purchase. For a non-profit organization, though, it might be securing a donation.

Micro-Yes: The Key to the Ultimate Yes

Before getting to Yu, there are a series of smaller decision points. Each of these must have a micro-yes (Ym), in order to get to a Yu. If at any point along the process your potential customer says no, you can’t get the sale. Even more important, if you try and rush to the Yu, the likelihood of a no increases significantly.

 

For example, if your conversion goal is to get someone to purchase a product via e-commerce, the decision path to micro-yeses might look like this:

 

  • Customer opens an email = Ym
  • Customer reads email due to email headline = Ym
  • Customer takes the CTA due to email body copy = Ym
  • Landing page headline leads to reading the landing page = Ym
  • Landing page body copy gets the reader down to the call-to-action = Ym
  • Landing page call-to-action is accepted = Ym etc.

If your conversion goal is to get someone to purchase a SaaS subscription from a sales rep:

 

  • Subject line (yes gets an open)
  • Email headline (yes gets the email read)
  • Email body copy (yes to a phone call/web demo)
  • The phone call sets up an agreement to receive a proposal
  • Etc.

If employee experience is not something you’re actively monitoring, you should take steps to do it today. There’s no time to wait.

For each decision point, you are trying to secure a micro-yes. Think of them as nods in a sales meeting. The more nods your customer provides in a sales meetings are agreements or Yms or micro-yeses. Over time as you get those yeses from your leads, you are developing a relationship and building trust.

 

Your prospect is weighing the perceived value of the action you’re asking him to take versus the perceived cost of that action (denoted by Pv and Pc in the graphic). And, the more someone is saying yes the snowball starts to take effect.

 

Just like my daughter who got her Yu in the original example.

 

Note: This article was originally published April 6, 2016 and updated and republished January 1, 2021. 

Categories
News

This Week in CX: LinkedIn Goes Shopping, Burger King Loans Its Crown & More

In this week’s installment of “This Week in CX,” we list the biggest business, tech and data developments that occurred this past week and will most certainly impact how we design and deliver the customer experiences of tomorrow.

Volvo unmasks car consumers’ new wish list

Auto-brakes are so 2019.

 

Volvo partnered with The Harris Poll to figure out what drivers really want from their cars in a post-pandemic world and discovered that the definition of their brand core value – safety – has taken on new meaning.

 

After navigating a year of viral fear and uncertainty, consumers are re-evaluating how they interact with the outside world and are finding more creative ways to have experiences from the safety of their cars. They’re attending drive-in movies, zoomin’ through zoos, going for scenic drives, throwing drive-by celebrations and enjoying some quiet time by designating vehicles their “alone zones”. Cars are no long just a means of transportation – they’ve become a place for peace and connection during COVID.

 

And as the world settles into the new normal of being more homebound and socializing from a distance, this trend won’t stop. As public transportation and ride sharing services take a hit, people will continue to explore the outside world from the protection of their cars. It’s this change that is also driving new demands for built-in safety features.

 

According to Volvo’s Safety First: The Evolution of Driving and Mobility in 2020 report, air conditioners with germ filtering technology is the number one wish on many driver’s lists, followed by car sanitation services as part of standard packages, contactless service/maintenance offerings, built-in sanitizer dispensers and a place to store masks.

 

Also read: What’s In Store For the Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World?

 

“Given all that we’ve experienced this past year, the uncertainty and the safety risks, people just don’t feel safe,” says our Head of Strategy and Innovation Jesus Ramirez. “We’re all in constant fight or flight mode. People are looking around for any way to feel safe and for any semblance of security. Brands and businesses have an opportunity to account for these concerns in their products and services. Whether it’s restaurants and the precautions they’re taking to keep patrons safe, to product packaging, to airline procedures, to auto manufacturers.”

"We’re all in constant fight or flight mode. People are looking around for any way to feel safe and for any semblance of security."

Are you asking yourself how your business can increase safety and trust felt by customers? You should be. And, by the way, we can help.

LinkedIn gives users a new way to spend money

LinkedIn is no longer just a platform where users can socialize, search, stalk, and scroll; now it’s transforming its experience from passive to active by rolling out a digital storefront.

 

By allowing companies to build Product Pages into their profiles, LinkedIn is helping brands cultivate conversations and connections with customers and followers. These Product Pages will educate users about a company’s solutions, generate new qualified leads, and ultimately contribute to overall growth. Even better, Rishi Jobanputra, the Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, said the pages will help brands build “a network of people who can become advocates of products.” Marketers will be able to gather ratings and reviews, highlight product endorsements and testimonials, and drive new and existing consumers to request demos or schedule meetings with the sales team via a call-to-action button.

“While Account Based Marketing has garnered Linkedin a lot of buzz in the performance marketing space lately, I believe their latest announcement of the launch of Product pages will move Linkedin from a trendy tactic to a must have strategy for every B2B marketing plan,” predicts Tallwave Senior Strategist Brian Hambrick. “Product Pages and the in-the-works Services Pages moves Linkedin from a top- and mid-funnel media channel to a full-funnel media channel where marketers can even close the sale within the platform.”

Brian suspects that most brands will want to use the Product Pages to drive customers to their existing websites, but with an audience of 722 Million business professionals who trust the platform, thinks the customer value of that strategy will be challenged.

 

“B2B brands will need to figure out how Linkedin can play a role in their customer journey and how these Product Pages – and the actions brands can generate from them – will fit into their larger CX strategy. Either way, Linkedin is quickly becoming one of the most important media channels for B2B marketers.”

 

Hey, it’s our favorite social media platform, so we’re here for it all.

Burger King UK promotes tacos, pasta and other stuff

No, they’re not expanding their menu, they’re just extending a helping hand.

 

Back in November, Burger King UK told their 350,000 followers to eat at McDonalds as a way to encourage people to support fast food chain restaurants during the pandemic and shelter-in orders.

It must have boded well for them (it did, they received tons of media coverage and fanfare), because this past Monday they took it a step further and announced the #WhopperAndFriends campaign.

“As we head into tier three across more parts of the country, it’s clear independent restaurants need all our support,” Burger King UK said in their social media post. “So we’ve decided to give you a break from our burger pics and make our Instagram available to all restaurants. Until they reopen, they can advertise on our Instagram for free.”

 

Pretty damn cool, in fact, our Associate Creative Director Albert Barroso said it was one of the coolest things he’s seen from a big brand in a while. By simply tagging Instagram food photos with #WhopperAndFriends, smaller businesses can have their signature dishes shared with burger lovers everywhere.

 

Albert wasn’t the only Tallwaver giving Burger King kudos for this do-good campaign. Paid Media Coordinator Lauren Franklin also called it a whopper (see what I did there?).

 

“It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is hurting. Burger King using their platform to help their competitors says a lot about them as a company,” she explains. “A lot of companies wouldn’t be comfortable with openly promoting their competitors but by doing just that – elevating their competitors in such a public way – they have, in turn, elevated their own platform.”

 

Also read: How a Powerful Brand Works as Insurance

 

So, basically, by telling fans to eat somewhere else, Burger King indirectly increased their own customer advocacy and support. They reflected their values in their actions and gave their customers those warm, fuzzy feelings that drive long-term retention and loyalty. And this, folks, is why they wear the crown… well, when they’re not loaning it out.

They reflected their values in their actions and gave their customers those warm, fuzzy feelings that drive long-term retention and loyalty.

AR, AI and Voice continue to take over the world

Are you ready for the future? Because, if you didn’t notice, it’s here.

 

AllWork.Space released its marketing trend prediction for 2021 and it’s all about voice search. Based around SEMrush’s forecast that more than half of all households (55%) will own smart speakers by 2022, AllWork.Space says voice search will evolve from a nice-to-have to an absolute must-have marketing strategy in 2021.

 

When pinged about the prediction, Tallwave’s Senior Product Designer Austin Baker wanted to share his own thoughts and projections on technologies that will force companies to raise their standards and re-envision their experiences in a post-pandemic and more distanced world.

 

First up: Austin says XR – short for extended reality, XR encompasses all augmented, virtual and mixed reality technologies – is finally becoming mainstream.

 

“It’s something that’s been played with for the past decade, but is just starting to work smoothly and easily. From virtually trying clothes on to seeing how furniture would look in your home or sitting down for a telehealth appointment with your doctor, XR will definitely start driving and pushing brands to create new 360-degree customer experiences.”

 

“On that same note,” Austin says, “I think VR paired with AR will start to become more available. Many schools and companies will continue to work from home and the challenges associated with remote working and learning won’t go away. I suspect, because of this, we’ll see some AR/VR technology that was shuffled onto the back-burner resurrected. Even better, in 2021, I bet we’ll see the first good iterations of VR meeting rooms – they’ll be closer to photo realism and much less cumbersome.”

 

And, as AllWork.Space reported, we can’t overlook voice search. While Austin says voice technology continues to improve (“Alexa works great, Google works great, Siri is… OK….”), the real problem is with the user experience.

 

“Alexa is integrated into every room of so many homes. It operates the lights. It turns on the TV. But when things go wrong – it plays on the wrong speaker or plays an explicit hip-hop song instead of Hamilton – frustration ensues and everyone starts yelling at the in-home robot. It’ll get there,” Austin says, “but the challenge has more to do here with how we expect the interaction to occur. Privacy and proper AI integration are going to be the greatest driving factors for experience. We can’t have devices listening for context without trusting that our privacy is protected for, as well.”

"The challenge has more to do here with how we expect the interaction to occur."

Overall, Austin wants to see all of the technologies come together to work synergistically towards making products – and experiences – more seamless and accessible for everyone.

“For example, they can be better utilized for people with disabilities. AR/VR technologies can be used for voice or eye tracking. That’s going to be something that companies that are committed to inclusivity and creating change start to explore. That will be really exciting and is much needed.”

 

Also read: Solving For the Lack of Diversity in CX

 

What a note to end on. We can’t wait to help Austin’s predictions come true by creating exceptional experiences that are designed with everyone in mind.

Categories
Mindfulness Strategy

Help Us Support Healthcare Heroes This Holiday Season

In the words of our leaders, 2020 was surreal and challenging, but also a year of immense of learning.
  
Through it all – the pandemic action plans, work from home, civil unrest and political elections – our healthcare workers remained steadfast in their mission and promise to take care of our communities. They have felt the long hours and longer days, held our loved ones who’ve recovered and passed, forfeited memories with their own children and partners, and supplied us with information when we needed it most. We are so thankful and forever in debt.

Throughout it all, our healthcare workers remained steadfast in their mission and promise to take care of our communities.

Help us help them

 
To put action to our words of thanks, on behalf of our Tallwave employees and clients, we are donating meals to the healthcare heroes of Banner Health. If you feel so inclined, you too can give back in the following ways:
 
  • Give a monetary donation here.
  • Donate personal items: If you have connections to secure bulk items of individually packaged meals, snacks and beverages, or bulk donations of personal care and comfort items (gentle and unscented skincare products, lip balm, cooling towels, mini fans, and more), contact Loren Bouchard at loren.bouchard@bannerhealth.com or 602-747-7439.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, our healthcare workers need our support more than ever. No action will ever be thanks enough for all they have done and continue to do. We are so grateful. 
 

A few words from our leaders

 
If you’d like to hear a few words about 2020 and how Tallwave navigated through the year, please watch the message from our leaders below:

Categories
Strategy

Solving for the Lack of Diversity in CX

Diversity and inclusivity – or lack thereof – in customer experiences impact all internal and external stakeholders touched by a brand. First, employees and second, consumers.

 

Throughout 2020, many companies – including our own – vowed to increase education, advocacy, and efforts towards diversifying talent and improving inclusivity in brand messaging. They set their sights on reaching new audiences and, in doing so, growing their core customers to include minority groups. But, as we’ve learned first-hand while working with Dr. Daryl Jones – a leadership development, organizational transformation & DEI consultant – that’s easier said than done. Creating diverse CX isn’t just a strategy to connect with external customers, it starts within a company’s walls where the true drivers of your experiences live and play.

 

In this Q&A, we talk to Dr. Daryl Jones about what it really takes to solve for the lack of diversity in CX and how this work contributes to the trust, confidence, and safety customers feel throughout their individual journeys with companies.

 

Also read: What is CX & Why Does it Matter?

Q&A with Dr. Daryl Jones

Photo of Dr. Daryl Jones

Tallwave: Thank you so much for speaking with us today! To kick this off, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

 

Dr. Daryl Jones: Sure, I grew up in the Midwest… completed my undergrad at Michigan State with a marketing degree. I went to graduate school in Chicago at DePaul and then went on to get my doctorate at Case Western in Cleveland. From a career perspective, I started off in the automotive industry and ultimately ended up in the sports industry with Nike. I spent about 19 ½ years there in a number of different roles, primarily in revenue generation, but I also did a really formative stint in diversity and inclusion. I was really focused on transforming the internal culture and how we made decisions around diverse communities. I taught college for a couple years and now I have my own consulting practice focused on diversity, equity and inclusion.

 

TW: So, as you mentioned, you guide and consult organizations through diversity, equity, and inclusivity (DEI) work. What are some high level trends you’re seeing in your work right now?

 

DJ: I’m seeing a lot of energy around racial diversity. I’m seeing a lot of learning around racial diversity. I’m seeing a lot of sensitivity in bias awareness. Where the fork in the road tends to appear is that separation between using this work as a branding opportunity versus an opportunity to transform and evolve the existing business model. That becomes a personal decision based on leadership. I am also seeing some really tough decisions having to be made, especially depending on the industry, about what a company’s vision is and how they foresee the nature of their workforce – demographics, psychographics, etc. Changes are having to be made if they plan to evolve…. But I’ve also seen companies use this [COVID] as a real opportunity to transform. While the chips are down for other companies, a lot of them have taken a leadership position in this zone and it has paid off.

TW: Why does work around improving diversity in CX have to start from within? A lot of companies want to craft diverse experiences for external customers but they can’t do that without first making internal choices and change. Why is that?

 

DJ: I think it’s very difficult. You may have a few [external CX] wins just by being innovative but eventually you’ll screw up, and when that time comes, the price can be heavy. We see it all of the time. It’s the minute you try to do too much and you convince yourself that you’re an expert in something you actually know very little about – which oftentimes is culture – or you appropriate a culture, that’s when the light shines on you. So, I think before innovative companies can stake a claim in this space, they need to check themselves on how diverse they are and to what extent they embrace diversity across seven clear principles [voice, values, opportunity, respect, transparency, authenticity, and culture]. Not just the way we think or the experiences our employees have, but do you embrace this whole concept and the entire journey of every single employee that you have psychographically and demographically? And is their experience allowing them to add value to the organization like anyone else? Just having the numbers usually isn’t enough… Before you try to be an example or guide someone or a customer, you have a lot of work to do internally, whoever you are.

"Before innovative companies can stake a claim in this space, they need to check themselves on how diverse they are."

TW: Many companies want to attract more diverse clients. How have you seen DEI changes within the company impact external success?

 

DJ: There’s a lot of two-way learning that takes place at that executive level [during the DEI work]… From an optics perspective, it’s important that the organization sees what the executive team says it values actually play out. [When that happens], the optics change. “Wow, okay, I see that person in the seat. I see that person making a decision. I see that person adding value at a high level, it’s not just talk anymore.” That’s empowering for an organization. From a business perspective, we talk a lot about how it adds to innovation and it does. But beyond innovation, when I talk about diversity, I assume talent. I’m not talking about making any concession to bring diversity on. I assume a high level of talent just as I do with someone who’s “non-diverse.” So, you’re adding talent to the organization – folks that have a professional journey that no one else has. That adds value to the organization…. That cascade [effect] has many aspects to it. The tough part is when organizations have operated so long without it and deem themselves successful. It can be tough to get around that corner because you’ve never experienced it. You are 70% of the time hitting your profit margin goals; your profit logic seems to work for you. Leaders sometimes question why they really need to make this change any higher than the baseline folks in the organization.

TW: It comes down to what you deem success as. Hitting quotas and making money is one type of success, but if you’re in the business of serving your community – even if you’re achieving your goals and the board is happy – you’re not really succeeding in the community.


DJ: The community aspect is really important. I’ll even stop short of that and say how successful do you want to be and have you been limiting your vision of success because you haven’t experienced diversity? There are markets you haven’t even pursued. So you’re making tough decisions now but it’s going to [end up benefiting] everything… If you’re serious about maximizing opportunity, I think not pursuing high level diversity is a big mistake.

 

TW: Let’s rewind and start at the beginning. How does your DEI work with a company typically begin?


DJ: I start with a conversation with the highest level executive team. I like to understand what their sense of the organization is right now. What’s prompting them to do this work? Are they willing to make really tough decisions down the road and maybe have some discomfort? Then I shift into a conversation with that second level of the organization and understand what’s the history been around diversity? What are the statistics telling us? What are the demographics of the organization? Then I like to hear from the organization and that’s where cultural assessments come in. It’s very difficult to do this work if you jump into training and development, but you haven’t accessed the organization across critical principles – that’s the next step. That’s the beginning of the work for me. It’s oftentimes the toughest part, especially when the data is staring you right in the face and the organization has been clear because everything we do is anonymous. So those are the first steps – to hear from everyone in the organization and not assume anything.

 

"How successful do you want to be and have you been limiting your vision of success because you haven’t experienced diversity?"

TW: How do you guide people through the realization and acceptance of the statistics that they did not intend to be racially unequal or biased in the company?

 

DJ: Fortunately, I have a pretty long history with a company who has had its peaks and valleys as it relates to racial diversity, and gender diversity quite honestly. So, part of what I can do is speak to experience and how – if a decision is made and embraced – how successful you can be… On the other hand, there are certain organizations that I wouldn’t try to convince a racially diverse employee base to work with because the culture is wrong for them. So, what I try to do is convince a leader that this journey they’re about to embark on must be personal and professional, but it must be personal first. If you’re disconnected outside of work, you’re going to have a much tougher time making critical decisions about DEI at work. Don’t think you can step in and step out – the Clark Kent Superman scenario – you can’t do that. This becomes a life journey and the two entities [personal & professional life] are connected. And if you don’t see it, employees see it. There’s a transparency piece to this that extends beyond working in the office. What does your life at home look like? And that’s the part that is often tough – you have to bring that personal shift into the office, you can’t put it on once you get to the office.

TW: What are some things people need to evaluate about their life at home? How does that impact their diversity efforts in the workplace?

 

DJ: Well, there’s a couple things. How willfully ignorant are you? Do you allow yourself to stand on the periphery of racism? Or are you active and addressing it? How complicit are you? Do you allow conversations to be had that are unacceptable in your presence? Are you dismissive? And I think another one that people really tend to overlook is how conflicted you can become when these other three things happen. Are you saying one thing at home and in your social circles and trying to say something different at work? I think that’s more important.

" If you're disconnected outside of work, you're going to have a much tougher time making critical decisions about DEI at work."

TW: How does social media play into this? How powerful is social media as an activist?

 

DJ: Well, I think social media can be powerful, but I think there are a number of people who use it as a crutch. There are some people who don’t post anything at all who are doing more work than any of us. Social media can tell us a lot, but I don’t rely on it for my answers. I have a process that I use to separate the branding aspect of this from the business model aspect… Social media plays a role, as it does in so many different sectors of life, but I personally don’t rely on that to make any determination on where a person is in this journey. It’s too easy to post or not post, or be so innovative in other aspects of your life, but when it comes to [DEI work] you become a re-poster, for example. So, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.

 

Also read: Social Media Mission Statements: What Are They & How Do They Help Your Strategy?

TW: Many companies shared sentiments of support for #BlackLivesMatter on social media but were then challenged to share what their plans for learning, listening and improving really were. If a company said the right words but didn’t know what actions to take, where can they start?

 

DJ: Honestly, maybe I’ve been around too long, but long enough to be skeptical. I don’t buy into the narrative of confusion and not knowing what to do. I buy into the narrative of it not being important enough. There are so many aspects of business where leaders have become experts because it was important to them and it was an undertaking that was a requisite. This isn’t treated as a requisite. I don’t know how you could be so confused about this, but so enlightened in other areas of the business. So, when I hear the words, “This can be confusing!”, I’m skeptical of that. I think you haven’t decided how important it is to you, yet. Or you have and you’re not talking about it. You’ve made a decision – it’s not important to you. I’ve been around too many business leaders who are great at some wonderful things. Being confused about this is confusing to me.

 

TW: That makes so much sense. You’re really fond of golf, and you want to be an expert in golf, so you go out and do it.

 

DJ: First thing you do, you hire a pro. Second thing you do, you buy clubs and you start practicing. It’s very simple if you want to be great at it. DEI is no different. What hasn’t been decided with a lot of leaders is “I want to be good at this and I want to make change.” Because there comes a point when the data is there and the numbers are staring at you, and it’s not about what I tell you anymore, it’s about what you want to do. And I love it when we get to that point because it’s not in my hands, anymore. The charter is there. The people who have stepped up and exercised their voices have done so with passion. What are you going to do?

 

Also read: Why Customer Experience Can’t Be All Data Driven

"I’ve been around too many business leaders who are great at some wonderful things. Being confused about this is confusing to me."

TW: You’ve mentioned the need to make tough decisions a couple times. What are some of those tough decisions that companies often have to make?

 

DJ: If your executive team is all white and you claim you want to build a diverse organization, you have a tough decision to make. If you want to stay like that and still claim you’re going to be diverse, I think you have some really tough decisions to make. It’s not easy to change the composition of a team, initially… Oftentimes, I find that the work that they do remains lower down in the company. There’s no intention of shifting that homogenous group at the top. But to think you can remain static [within your leadership team] and bring [other] diverse employees in who think, “I’m not even going to get [advancement] in my head because there’s no one there that even looks like me, understands me, wants to connect with me.” I don’t see how that’s a viable journey for business leaders. If you say this is your vision, then you have to rethink everything. So, one of the toughest things for me is when we get to this charter phase – developing a charter for diversity – these decisions start to fall on the organizations. I can provide skeletal models and [outlines of] things you need to think about, but then decisions need to be made at the executive level. It needs to be authentic to them.

 

TW: So what kind of data or KPIs do you usually suggest for measuring how efforts are playing into overall business?

 

DJ: It’s critically important to understand the seven aspects that are critical to DEI – voice, values, opportunity, respect, transparency, authenticity, and culture. I measure employee sentiment on each one of those using a SWOT analysis. Do the responses represent a strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat for your organization based on your employee feedback? Same with all seven. That tells us a number of different things: A) How employees feel because the SWOT analysis is anonymous, and B) what to measure our progress against. It provides a baseline for future work to see how valuable the change implemented is when we do additional assessments in 6-12 months. So, as opposed to simply relying on narratives, we use hard numbers. That tends to provoke folks to act. Along with that, we do supplement with narratives. Say more about the company’s voice and ask employees for feedback on that. It’s pretty much consistent though with the scores that we get. What’s interesting is we can get scores that range from a nine, which means this is a strength for the organization, or one, which highlights a threat. Leaders have to own all of the responses that they receive. For example, if you have an organization of 75 employees and 10% of your organization say opportunity is a threat, but your score ended up at an average 9.2, are you going to own that 10% or does that not matter? That threat is living and breathing in the organization. If it’s anonymous, what does that 10% look like? It’s the 10% who doesn’t feel relevant to the culture. So, we’re very diligent about that step in the process and were very diligent about leadership taking accountability.

"Decisions need to be made at the executive level. It needs to be authentic to them."

TW: Any last comments you’d like to share?

 

DJ: I believe in people and I believe in talent. I know how I grew up, and I don’t think hard work is enough. I think we have to acknowledge certain things that are systemic and certain things that we may not want to buy into. I like to get leaders out of embarrassment mode as soon as I can because a lot of embarrassment comes with this. You’re typically not producing when you’re in embarrassment mode. It’s okay to be embarrassed for a night when these numbers come through and you don’t like them. Turn around, get back to work, get out of the embarrassment mode, focus on what we’re going to do. Because often, this was never a focus. How could you have great assessment numbers?… [Leaders] can relearn and we can create new habits and beliefs, [they] just have to put in the work.

 

Learn more about Dr. Daryl Jones by checking out his podcast The Conscious Vibe and following him on LinkedIn, and read more about Tallwave’s culture on our website here.

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News

This Week in CX: Party City Reimagines Celebrations, Barnes & Noble Goes Hyperlocal & More

Also included in our second installment of “This Week in CX” (a weekly series in which we discuss some of the biggest news in tech, data and business that could impact experiences of tomorrow): The BIA Advisory Services released their local media ad spend predictions for 2021 and SEO experts everywhere started analyzing the impacts of Google’s December 2020 Core Update. 

 

Let’s jump right in!

2021 ad spend predictions are here & traditional media is… dead?

The BIA Advisory Services have spoken. Forecasts for advertising dollars are out and, despite still dealing with a pandemic, local media spending is expected to start recovering from this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Increasing 2.5% ($137.5 billion) in 2021, the projections still fall almost $24 billion dollars short of the ad spend in 2019. BIA says they don’t expect to see a full recovery until at least 2022… and even that might be wishful thinking.

 

What really got our Tallwavers talking, though, is where the money is expected to go. According to the forecast, traditional media is taking a huge hit. Advertising dollars in local TV will decrease by 14.2% next year – that’s 15.7 billion dollars. But simultaneously, online, mobile, and TV stations local OTT (short for over-the-top, OTT usually refers to streaming or video-on-demand content options) and CTV (devices that are used to watch TV online including smart TVs and gaming consoles) predictions are seeing big dollar signs. OTT and CTV are predicted to increase 20% ($1.2 billion); online is expected to grow by almost double digits to 9.5% (23.3 billion) and mobile should take up 18.4% ($23.4 billion) of the yearly ad spend revenue. With those numbers, online and mobile will represent a third of all U.S. local advertising “a shit ton,” as our Director of Performance Marketing Dallas McLaughlin put it. Meanwhile, direct mail is expected to remain the largest U.S. local media platform accounting for 23% ($31.2 billion) of the local advertising share, and local radio is expected to hold strong with a 1.4% ($12.6 billion) increase.

Local media spending is expected to start recovering from this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

Curious how accurate this forecast could be? Our Senior Paid Media Specialist Kelsey O’Grady says it’s right on the money. “Consumers’ day-to-day behaviors have adapted to our new way of living during quarantine, but we are still consuming a lot of media.” So, what does that mean for companies who are planning their ad spend strategies for 2021? Just keep swimming.

 

“After the 2008 recession, businesses who maintained strong ad spend left the recession with higher brand recognition and affinity,” Kelsey explains. “Tallwave has a lot of clients who have maintained a strong digital presence throughout 2020 with a lot of success, and I believe they will continue to find success in 2021.” But don’t go spending your money just anywhere. 

 

“The key goes back to knowing your audience. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who they are and what their affinities are. With digital advertising continuing to grow and become more competitive, prices will go up for quality placements and it will be more important than ever to make sure you are showing to the right user.”

 

One last tip: Be sure to define your goals (KPIs) for your 2021 ad spend and evaluate how you’re progressing month-over-month. “One of the things that it is important for brands to keep in mind is sometimes it’s better to look at your media performance holistically than it is to hyper focus by channel,” advises Kelsey. “Upper funnel tactics will have different KPIs than lower, but it doesn’t take away their value in your plan.”

 

Also read: Nat Geo Goes Extinct, Salesforce Gets Some Slack & More

Three Companies Make Huge CX Moves

Make way, make way. Legacy companies are unveiling their CX transformation strategies for 2021! A number of companies made announcements this past week revealing plans to evolve their experiences and products in the coming year. From coolest to “lamest,” here are the changes that are worthy of taking note.

Party City wants to spend every Saturday night with you

Who’s ready for some virtual fun? Party City announced  their plan to help customers “imagine well” by providing new ways to party both safely and virtually. And they’re getting the word out by leaning into content creation and communication rather than advertising.

 

“We are trying to make it easy for customers to still celebrate,” Party City’s CMO Julie Roehm told MediaPost. “We would like to be the author of more trends, rather than a follower of them. With the insights and the knowledge that we have about the celebration space, I think it’s our purview to do that. We have an entire party planning team that we’re setting up B2C and B2B, and it’s not paid.”

But how are they doing it exactly? By bringing virtual party planners to a computer near you. No matter the event, Party City’s customers will be able to find inspiration, how-tos, and shopping lists on their website (or in-store on their “inspiration walls”). Then they can opt to be connected to Party City virtual party planners or members of the “Joy Squad” (which also includes social influencers, store associates, etc.) who will pull the materials together for their little shin-digs. It’s a huge rebranding initiative that requires every associate and exec chip in. And they managed to get that company-wide buy-in – albeit a few bumps in the road – by over-communicating the plan and finding “change ambassadors” and “change champions” in every region to provide valuable employee and customer feedback to continue improving the experience for all those involved.

 

“This is my favorite story of the week,” says our VP of Brand Strategy Jesus Ramirez. “It shows a company/brand rethinking the role it has in the lives of its customers, especially under the context of our new norm. For them, it was helping their customers rethink ways to stay healthy and spark joy in a time when joy is hard to come by.”

 

"It shows a company/brand rethinking the role it has in the lives of its customers, especially under the context of our new norm."

“The other lesson from the story is that this type of seismic transformative shift requires leadership and buy-in from top to bottom,” Jesus explained. “That starts with boldness and vision from leadership, relentless communication throughout, to empowering their teams to be the champions of change.”

Survivor: The Barnes & Noble edition

After years of struggling to sell books and increase foot traffic in their brick & mortar stores, Barnes & Noble is making “the most ambitious restructuring ever undertaken at the company.” It’s one they hope will change (and save) “the future for traditional bookselling.”

 

Led by the fearless and passionate independent book owner Chief Executive James Daunt, their plan to give curation power back to executive managers is already underway. Envisioning a future where shelves are thoughtfully stocked to align with hyperlocal tastes rather than paying-publishers’ agendas, Daunt let nearly half of the company’s New York-based corporate sellers, book buyers, and powerful tastemakers go.

“It’s an interesting move and one that plays to their strengths,” says Jesus. “But they’re also betting on local curators being better at recommendations than Amazon’s algorithms, which is tough. What I’d love to see them adopt is what we at Tallwave call a ‘data-powered human curation’ model that leverages personalization data and adds a layer of personal touch to close the loop with the consumer. It’s something we’re helping several of our clients with at the moment.”

 

Also read: What’s in Store? The Future of Retail in a Post-COVID World

 

He’s right. Barnes & Noble is making a bold move, but in trying to give the huge chain little “shop around the corner” vibes, Daunt hopes the grounded, more intentional approach will decrease return rates and encourage former customers to reconnect with their store and books. We’ll just have to wait and see how this new chapter unfolds.

Crest becomes squeezably sustainable

And in what we’re calling “Jesus’s least favorite story of the week,” Procter & Gamble announced their plans to market fully recyclable Crest & Oral B toothpaste tubes across America starting in January, with the goal of selling only recyclable tubes by 2025.

 

Despite being good for the environment – which don’t get us wrong, is great– it leaves us wanting a little more. “For me, while great, it isn’t innovative or bold enough. ” explains Jesus. 

 

“To meet the current climate crisis brands need to make bolder transformational moves: Eliminate packaging altogether. Create a direct-to-consumer line that requires less external packaging and delivers larger quantities. Offer a sustainability program that allows consumers to send back packaging for rebates on future products. Create new product formulations or form factors that don’t require such sensitive packaging. Honestly, what they’re currently rolling out is a bit underwhelming.”

 

"To meet the current climate crisis brands need to make bolder transformational moves."

There ya have it – Party City FTW, Crest… give us a call next time.

Google does Google things, changes algorithm before the holidays

In somewhat unexpected but wholly unsurprising news, Google gifted marketers a new algorithm update this holiday season. Making the announcement last week and just hours before its release, Google tweeted, “It is called the December 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before.”

So very detailed. While the news of the core update is old by now, what it means for search moving forward is still very much unknown. A number of data companies have claimed that the core update was “major” – bigger than any others that Google has released in recent history – and they fear it could negatively impact a lot of businesses right before the holidays.

 

According to RankRanger, rank volatility, average position change, and rank volatility by niche all saw substantial changes compared to the May 2020 core update. Meanwhile SEMRush (who just announced a huge rebrand, by the way) said industries that felt the largest desktop search changes included health, real estate, travel, finance, and law and government. On mobile search, health, law and government, jobs and education, pets and animals, and real estate were served up the biggest hits. Among the “winners” of the update, SEMRush claimed LinkedIn, Ebay, Vimeo, FourSquare and Yahoo saw the greatest benefits; alternatively, the update treated brands including Getty Images, Wish, Urban Dictionary, Yellow Pages and AliExpress unfavorably.

 

But our Senior Optimization Strategist Chase Alyeshmerni says there’s no need to panic, it’s just time to shift your perspective. “It can be difficult to pinpoint what needs to be done to reverse any negative impacts to your site after an algorithm update,” Chase says. “These updates consistently serve as reminders to SEO strategists, marketers, and webmasters that we need to take a step back and observe the website and the competitive landscape holistically. We should be focusing on providing valuable content to our users, and that should remain our North Star.”

"We should be focusing on providing valuable content to our users, and that should remain our North Star."

So, to sum it up, stop worrying about fulfilling Google’s algorithm demands, and instead, focus on fulfilling human needs. After all, Google changes its algorithm regularly to improve the experience they’re providing to their users. If you’re already crafting excellent experiences, then Google algorithm updates should no longer make you stress sweat.

 

“It’s critical that when users are searching for a product, service, or solution organically, they are met with content that is not only relevant to them, but delivered in a way that is easily digestible.”

 

And, of course, we have to point out that this all circles back and contributes to our favorite topic – the bigger picture: Delivering excellent CX that helps your brand stand above the rest.  

 

Also read: What is CX & Why Does it Matter?

 

“The focus of SEO is to maximize CX,” explains Chase. “All while adhering to search engine guidelines and leveraging the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) landscape.”

 

The game of creating content from an authentic, useful and optimized way takes a lot of brain power, but luckily, you’ve always got lots of (incredibly smart!) brains at Tallwave to call on.