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Choosing the Right Partner for Your Business

If you’re a leader at a company, no matter what industry you’re in, your goal is the same: nurture the business and help it grow. But growing an organization takes a lot of work. You need to understand your evolving marketplace, competitors, and customer needs. At first, handling everything in-house may seem doable, but growing a team at the same pace as your ambitions can sometimes be too much. At Tallwave, we believe that in order to meet your organization’s goals you should be doing a little of both in-house and partner collaboration.

 

If you’re on the fence about working with a partner, we get it. Relinquishing aspects of your business to an external partner might be easier said than done, especially if your business is your baby. Here’s what to look for when selecting the right partner.

In-House vs. Agency

We don’t believe in separating in-house and agency work – we should all be striving to do a little of both as an organization. An agency partner isn’t going to know your brand as well as your in-house team, but your team might not have the resources to adequately scale your business. Working with a blend of both should result in an achievable but strategic plan to grow your market share.

 

If your tactics have not been performing as desired with an in-house team, it’s not that there’s a lack of expertise. More likely, it’s a lack of experience. This is where having an agency partner comes in handy. Making business decisions in-house with people who are in the day-to-day may result in similar ideas you’ve already come up with – the same ideas that could be stunting your growth. A partner can help you locate blind spots and bring a fresh perspective, new techniques, and the experience that an in-house team might be lacking. Since helping brands is the entire purpose of agencies, they are able to help businesses reach their goals with the resources, creative approaches, and networks they use.

 

An in-house team may also be too invested and biased towards their current models and processes, which could limit their ability to make bold, but necessary decisions. Working with a partner can bring an objective perspective and help push businesses towards making these key decisions. Additionally, partners see similar patterns in challenges, goals, and circumstances across companies. This is usually much broader than what an in-house team has come across. A good partner can leverage their work and capacities across clients with similar business models while acting as a counterpart to your deep domain expertise.

What Do We Look for in a Client?

While the client is vetting us, we’re doing the same to ensure we would work well together. We want to feel just as comfortable working with them and vice versa. As a partner, we’re looking to help our clients grow, expand their business, and reach their goals. We want to work with change agents within companies who have dug a little deeper than your basic, high-level thinking. We want potential clients to come to us looking for an answer on how to solve a specific problem.

As a partner, we’re looking to help our clients grow, expand their business, and reach their goals.

For instance, instead of saying, “We need somebody to do SEO for us,” we’re looking for clients who have asked themselves, “What program am I trying to drive?” Now, if you haven’t asked yourself these questions, that’s okay! As your partner, we can help you uncover these larger questions you’re having trouble answering. Maybe you need help with customer acquisition or full funnel conversion optimization. When clients ask themselves these deeper questions, we can see that they’re hungry for growth and looking at a more holistic picture, rather than their immediate needs. This way of thinking will make them more responsive and open to new ideas on how to achieve their goals.

 

We also look for a willingness to learn and collaborate with our potential partners. As outsiders, we don’t know your brand or customer base as well as you. This is where collaboration comes into play. By working with your in-house team to learn the ins and outs of your business, our teams will be able to develop a better strategy to help reach your goals.

What Should Clients Look for in an Agency?

As noted before, both agencies and clients are vetting each other before settling on a partner. We’ve noticed that many companies today are still looking for vertical expertise. This means clients look for partners that have experience in only one type of industry or specialized needs. We understand this rationale – if you’re in the healthcare industry, you might want a partner that has experience working with other healthcare clients. However, this way of thinking could result in similar campaigns to competitors or outdated technologies. Isn’t the point of working with a partner to think outside the box and set yourself apart from the competition?

 

In today’s world where the customer is everything for a brand, you should be looking to understand the customer’s motives and needs. With this in mind, clients should be looking for a partner that has worked cross-industries, is focused on the customer experience, and truly understands user personas and needs. In turn, the partner they choose to work with should be able to design and drive performance for their client no matter their industry, trade, or profession.

 

Next, you should be looking for an agency that is ready to learn the intricacies of your business. The way we like to do this at Tallwave is by setting up workshops with our clients to learn the brand and how we can help meet their goals. We pull in our client consultants, capability consultants, and salespeople to ask more in-depth business questions than a typical agency. We ask that our clients do the same by bringing their key stakeholders into these workshops. Rallying up the people who know customer experience, acquisition, and the brand will give an agency partner the ability to see a full picture of your business. While these teams will likely have different initiatives, budgets, and perspectives, they all impact growth.

 

Last but not least, you should look for a partner that is going to challenge you. They shouldn’t be overly aggressive, but they should have a strong enough voice to stand by their decisions. Being challenged by your partner means they’re invested in the right outcomes for your business, not just the work.

 

Deciding which approach works best for your business can take some time. It took Tallwave some time to figure out how we wanted to work with our clients as well. We started as three separate companies that focused on separate initiatives. After some time, we pulled those three companies together because we saw the need to combine those different skill sets in order to achieve solutions for our customer’s biggest pain points. Since merging, we’ve done a lot of learning and growing ourselves from our clients. This added knowledge has helped us refine and adjust our tactics as needed so that we’re able to cater our services to each client, regardless of their industry. If you’re still not sure what’s best for your business, give us a call. We’re more than happy to talk through this journey with you.

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Why Customer Experience Can’t All Be Data Driven

Customer experience (CX) is reshaping the way brands do business. Having a customer-centric approach is no longer a buzzword. It’s a linchpin to the success and longevity of organizations as competitive landscapes continue to evolve at breakneck speeds.

 

As more organizations begin to realize the customer must be at the center of all they do, the question then becomes: who should own the experience and what data should be used to construct it? The fact of the matter is, one person or even one department, cannot be held solely responsible for running point on CX. It must be woven into the entire company – and it can’t be built on data alone.

 

Don’t get us wrong, CX initiatives should most certainly be constructed around shared data points from across the organization, but numbers shouldn’t be the only ingredient. Leaders must remember emotion is also a key factor in effectively delivering a winning customer experience.

 

It takes a delicate balance between understanding data and keeping real emotion in mind. But if your organization doesn’t figure out how to leverage the two to create an unforgettable experience and emotional connection, customers will start looking elsewhere.

Going Beyond the Data

Yes, the data gives powerful insights into customer and prospect behavior. We can identify purchase behaviors, what messaging they responded best to, what content they engaged with, and the list goes on. But at a more fundamental level, do you know what prompted your customer to even begin their search for a solution in the first place? Or even who or what along their purchase path may have influenced their decision-making process?

 

These are questions that will only be answered through one-to-one conversations with customers and prospects. Talking with your customers enables you to dig deeper and really get to know the person behind the purchase.

 

Also consider the person making the purchase may not be the one using your product or service. It’s important to talk to both the purchaser and end user. With this insight you are better equipped to not only make more effective marketing decisions, but also know which functions, features, and updates to prioritize based on user feedback, which impacts the customer experience.

 

Also consider the person making the purchase may not be the one using your product or service. It's important to talk to both the purchaser and end user.

 

Beyond serving as an important feedback loop, conversations with customers also give you a way to test and eliminate assumptions while understanding how your product or service makes your customer feel. Forrester released a report outlining the importance of emotion as it relates to customer experience and loyalty. After interviewing 45,000 consumers, the findings revealed that emotional experience accounts for almost half of customer loyalty to the brand.

 

So while customer numbers and account activity should be part of your data collection and reporting process, what your customers feel while using your product matters and should be measured.

Building the Path

If coordinating one-to-one conversations with customers and prospects sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. It can be. There are ways to systematize and even automate to a certain to degree in order to make these conversations a much more fluid process. This approach has to be a company-wide effort and even woven into the fabric of your company culture. This is an all-hands-on-deck operation.

 

This might start with automated feedback loops – general surveys or quick Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys – but then there has to be a process for reviewing and taking action on that feedback. Who on your team will be responsible for collecting, analyzing, and acting on the data? Keep in mind, in many cases, this will not be a one-person job.

 

For instance, if the feedback is pertaining to a product issue, perhaps there’s a person on the product team who is elected to run point on customer outreach. This person can help better understand the issues the customer may be having. Or for more general feedback, it could be someone on the customer service or success team. Once the feedback is collected, it’s key to take the conversation to the next level with a direct conversation with the customer.

 

Who on your team will be responsible for collecting, analyzing, and acting on the data? Keep in mind, in many cases, this will not be a one-person job.

 

Consider nominating a CX advocate in each department as every step of the customer journey contributes to the individual experience. A recent report revealed that 75 percent of consumers expect companies to provide a consistent experience wherever they engage with them both online and offline.

 

The first step to delivering a positive customer experience on all fronts is ensuring your internal procedures are consistent company-wide. This is where things like data collection processes and procedures are paramount.

 

Remember: the decisions based on data are only as good as the data collected and the ease of data accessibility to everyone within the organization. If your data isn’t properly collected, or even if it is but it’s locked up, you’ve already lost.

Asking the Right Questions

There are plenty of specific insights that will be valuable to various individuals within your company. Your product team will want to understand feature usage. Your sales and marketing teams will want to understand what hooked them to finally sign up for a demo.

 

Uncovering a particular customer experience requires a specific set of questions. To ask the right ones, start first by making a list of the ways you think you are already delivering a good experience.

 

It’s time to cut through the norm and ask the prodding questions. If you don’t, they’ll find another product that can do similar things, and make them feel better while doing it.

 

Once you’ve identified the valuable and actionable data, it’s time to consider what changes your organization should make to improve the experience your customers are having. And remember, this is a company-wide effort. Work first on building the infrastructure for supporting a customer-driven approach, then begin the outreach.

 

Not sure where to start? We can help. Give us a call or sign up for our conversion audit service. Here, we’ll help you pinpoint where your customer experience is lacking.