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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

Categories
Strategy

How to Holistically Map Your Customer Experience

But what is a customer experience map?

 

It’s a visual timeline that illustrates and examines a customer’s entire experiences with a brand, identifying every behavior, interaction, and touchpoint across a variety of channels. Unlike a customer journey map – which only outlines touch points involved from exposure to sale (and sometimes post-sale) – customer experience (CX) maps dive deeper, evaluating omnichannel experiences and internal processes and workflows to illuminate who and what customers interact with, pain points that arise, and moments of truth that are ripe for innovation and improvement.

Overview of the Customer Experience:

  • Start with the customer perspective. Utilize a mix of qualitative and quantitative data (methods below) to map key touch points
  • Map the internal stakeholder journey, including people, processes, systems, via a service blueprint
  • Combine the maps to begin comparing and contrasting the data and employee expectations versus consumer feedback
  • Identify gaps and opportunities, assess impact of innovation and prioritize for the future

While collecting customer feedback through both qualitative and quantitative (also known as moderated and observational) techniques is key (think web analytics, customer surveys, customer marketing data, customer recordings and interviews, industry research, etc.), it’s also equally important to map your internal stakeholder’s (aka, employee’s) journey, detailing moments they believe to be most important in an end user’s experience (this is often referred to as service blueprinting).

 

Once both maps are completed, they can be compared and contrasted to uncover discrepancies in the customer and internal experience. Pinpointing moments of friction illuminates root causes of customer experience breakdowns that create incredible drag on company retention and growth. Only by taking this holistic approach can you truly start to cultivate next-level strategies for improved customer experiences.

How to Create a Customer Experience Map

As you venture into making your own customer experience map, here are some things to watch out for:

 

  1. Don’t get stuck in the surface. Make sure that you’re driving to the core and really trying to identify the root cause of experience friction points or issues.
  2. Ensure you take an interdisciplinary approach. It’s important not to be siloed in this thinking.
  3. Don’t just take qualitative notes. When interacting with customers, take a multi-faceted approach. You want to ultimately be able to map your qualitative data with quantitative data. Incomplete data can lead to poor decision-making.
  4. Don’t get too bogged down in the details. Come up for air and focus on the biggest areas of opportunities for improvement. It’s all about prioritization. Lots of companies try to solve or map everything, when in reality – sure, you need to challenge your data and ensure you have a complete view – but you also have to prioritize as you go. It’s a delicate balance to strike.

To get started, you must first acknowledge that every touch point is interconnected and feeds into a customer’s perspective and sentiment towards your brand as a whole. The exercise must be authentic. Your goal is to understand your brand’s latent needs and to uncover opportunities that exist due to changing market dynamics, customer expectations and technology breakthroughs.

 

Then, you must allocate one person or team to see the exercise through to completion. Typically speaking, customer experience mapping should be co-created with an external party. Research done solely in-house can be blanketed by unconscious bias, thus muddling results and growth opportunities. Plus, it’s important stakeholders surveyed throughout feel comfortable expressing their true and honest opinions in a confidential and removed setting.

 

Once that’s done, it’s time to get to work.

Step 1: Define your goals, scope, and personas

Your team must first align on goals. Conduct a half-day session with the key internal stakeholders across a number of teams to define business and user goals and pinpoint what you want to learn, what you’re hoping to uncover, where you want to drive focus, and how you plan to quantify and validate insights uncovered.

 

Then, define the personas you want to explore with during the experience mapping exercise. Many businesses have numerous consumer groups. While you can (and eventually should) map the experience and expectations of all of them, you’ll want to identify who they are first. Key details like age, marital status, occupation, daily activities, needs, wants, hobbies, internet behaviors, social media interactions, etc. are all a great starting place. Remember the 80/20 rule and prioritize which groups you’re going to start with. These are your primary personas.

 

Now that you have them identified, you’ll want to start the mapping exercise by capturing existing hypotheses about your customers and their experience. Be sure to capture their needs and emotions felt throughout all of their experiences with your brand. Some key questions to remember here:

 

  • What is driving their buying behavior? Why are they interacting with your business?
  • Where do they interact with your brand (before and after purchase)?
  • How many steps do they go through to purchase?
  • How do they feel as they decide to purchase? Is there a touchpoint after they purchase?
  • How do they interact with your brand after they’re a customer? etc.

Next, decide which part of your experience you want to map. In an ideal world, you’d map the entire experience over the tenure of a customer’s relationship with your brand, but that’s likely not doable in your first few sessions. To get started, break experience mapping into segments. Do you want to map the onboarding or registration process? The purchasing journey? Gauge the interactions your brand has with customers once they’ve already bought in? .

 

Also read: Understanding the Buyer’s Journey to Drive Targeted Campaigns

If you’re stuck – simply try to pinpoint where you think there is the most pain, friction, or confusion in your customer journey. Whether it’s the first, tenth or fiftieth exchange, one bad experience can greatly increase risk of customer churn. A customer who is dissatisfied with an experience will tell between 9-15 people about it* (and that number increases quickly if they take their negative review to social platforms!).

Step two: Evaluate from within

Holistically mapping out your current end-to-end customer experience requires that you evaluate every touchpoint from the surface to the core. That means, you must first evaluate your own people, processes, and systems that impact and touch the customer experience in any way (many organizations refer to this as service blueprinting).

By doing this, you can uncover deep rooted issues or discrepancies between what internal stakeholders and external customers deem important. This is a critical step in effecting meaningful change to your customer experience. But be mindful to avoid these common pitfalls as you execute:

 

  • Getting bogged down in the internal perspective: Make sure all focus efforts are on pain point identification as it relates to the customer or your ability to deliver to the customer. This isn’t an exercise solely dedicated to internal frustrations – if you’re wanting to improve the employee experience, that’s a true service blueprinting exercise. For holistic customer experience mapping, you want to make sure your focus is on pain points that have a line of sight to your end users.
  • Settling for the surface answers: Push to go beyond and really discover the root cause or root opportunities present in your current experience.
  • Missing the opportunity to loop in interdisciplinary perspectives: Often, the connection between business units – especially ones that have overlapping activities related to the customer experience – is where you’ll uncover the greatest opportunities for improvement. Every company has handoffs. It’s important to consider them all.
  • Hinder real discussions from happening between stakeholders: Bringing people together can be massively beneficial. This is an opportunity to create alignment. By bringing teams together to work towards one common goal and share their individual team’s hurdles, your teams will naturally discover micro-solves that can be executed immediately, and contribute to the macro-solution.

Now, to get a revitalized understanding of your business’ performance and efficiency, conduct workshops with internal stakeholders – this can include customer service and sales reps, researchers, customer experience specialists, marketing leads, product owners, designs and more. These service blueprinting workshops should include a few important exercises:

 

  1. Hypothesize and map out internal interpretation of the customer’s journey. Be sure to identify each phase and define customer interaction points.
  2. Map out the people, process and systems that are in play at each of those key interaction points.
  3. Capture what internal stakeholders say about those key interactions (qualitative). Simple things like definitions of words, or what they want customers to feel after that interaction can all be important in understanding the internal impact on your CX.
  4. Articulate underlying assumptions and beliefs around language commonly used to describe KPIs and company-wide goals. This will help identify and deconstruct misunderstandings between teams and enable a fresh start where everyone is on the same page and working from a consistent understanding.

At the end of the workshop, you should be able to identify each phase in the customer’s experience, who and what they interact with within your organization, and how you meet their needs along the way.

 

Keep in mind, for some companies, a workshop is all that is needed to gather internal perspective. On the other hand, sometimes workshops are just the starting place and then require deeper dives with specific departments, business units, or individual role types to further precipitate areas where exploration is needed. So, once your workshop is completed, identify whether or not you need to go deeper, and, if so, what types of roles, departments or business units you need to go deeper with.

 

Continue to conduct stakeholder interviews until you feel confident that you’ve really mapped out the impact those areas have on the internal customer journey or end customer experience.

 

Need an example? Let’s talk about articulating underlying assumptions. Healthcare organizations often use the word “encounters” as a measurement for improving patient engagement. However, when we’ve asked organizational team members to define the term, no one in the room has the same definition or knows how to explain it. If everyone perceives and defines a goal and/or measurement like “encounters” differently (or in many cases, can’t define it at all), it’s impossible to know how or when to measure and define success. The solution? Get it on paper (or a whiteboard or shared digital document)! When you put something down in writing and rally around a common definition, you can identify optimal procedures to measure it. This will ultimately contribute to agreeance and alignment necessary for not only standing up successful marketing programs, but proving ROI.

If everyone perceives and defines a goal and/or measurement differently (or in many cases, can’t define it at all), it’s impossible to know how or when to measure and define success.

Step 3: Hone in on the end users

Now it’s time to look beyond the internal perspective and focus the lens on your customers. This requires the most time and could take anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple years to complete, depending on your scope.

 

Before you get start, there are a few tips to consider that will help you avoid common pitfalls at this stage:

 

  • Ensure you get to the real root cause of pain or opportunity and don’t get caught in optimizing for the surface level. As with other phases, this requires that you push beyond the surface of what users tell you qualitatively. A great way to do this, no matter what process you use, is to ask “Why?” three to five times. Once a user shares an observation that seems important, ask why. Then ask why again, and again. Many companies gather initial observations and never get to the true root cause, therefore they’re stuck treating only symptoms of problems.
  • Don’t rest on qualitative data. Instead, pair it with quantitative data. Find ways to objectively measure what is happening to your user’s experience at key milestones throughout the journey. We often do this by merging qualitative data with surveys or other analytical data (think customer CRMs, google analytics, website data, or MPS data).
  • Avoid intuition as your primary method of gathering user experience. Qualitative techniques we often employ include interviews, focus groups and ride alongs.
  • Give yourself time to really hone in on the user experience. Many companies never gather this information, at all; instead, they architect their journey based on internal perspective and move forward. It’s always important and useful to get real, quality feedback from end users.
  • Don’t forget that your customer base is diverse. Get feedback from multiple personas as you go.

Also read: Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data in CX Design: Everything You Need to Know

 

During this phase, you and your team should use qualitative and quantitative techniques (learn more about that here) to obtain real customer feedback by guiding them through each phase of the outlined journey to validate their needs, wants, and experiences. 0 By sitting down with real customers, you’re able to explore their goals and needs respective to your product, services, and/or digital presence. In the end, you’ll be able to expose valuable insights that can drive future focus. Often, this phase identifies opportunities for re-engagement. While your goals may be more specific, it is still important to see the full picture before drawing any conclusions about your overall customer experience. At this stage, compiling as much information as possible is key.

 

Need an example? Sometimes this phase can give rise to specific problems, including the root cause of customer conversions. One of our clients – a leading nation-wide insurer group of automobiles, homes and small businesses – was seeing a dip in quote yields and overall conversion rates. After doing a deep data dive – using both qualitative and quantitative techniques – we discovered the majority of drop offs were occurring moments before clicking the, “I’m ready to complete my quote” button. Why would users go through the trouble of filling out 99% of the form, only to abandon the process right before getting the information they originally sought? The answer was buried in the messaging.

By speaking to customers, we discovered the last question in their quote-request form – one that asked the user if they’d like to enter information to receive additional insurance quotes – was causing feelings of exhaustion and frustration for potential customers. Instead of marking “No,” and continuing on, they simply bounced away from the site – and, likely, with no intention to return. This not only illuminated the main pain point, but allowed us to execute focused competitive analyses to get inspiration from competitors, develop potential solutions, test them, and then launch the solution/s to the market.

Step 4: Review, analyze, and map it out

It’s time to start putting the puzzle pieces together.

 

With an integrated team spanning a variety of disciplines (including research, business innovation, experience design, and consulting), review the customers’ experience data from every angle. Doing this will provide a more holistic view necessary for creating a more robust and useful map.

 

Conduct another workshop to synthesize and compare data from internal and external perspectives on your customer experience.

 

Starting with the qualitative data, use tools like an an affinity map to clearly identify where your customers’ needs are being met – and where they’re not. This should expose service gaps and highlight opportunities.

 

Next, test the customer feedback against the internal perspectives map previously created. More often than not, it will reveal discrepancies between what internal teams believe is important, versus what customers really assign value to. This visual approach, while also displaying challenges within the current experience, will make achieving cross-functional alignment around future plans easier.

 

Also read: Crafting Employee Experiences to Improve Customer Experiences

 

Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is continual evolution. Take the time to test and, as you do, update your journey map.

Lastly, to pinpoint exact moments of friction and/or leverage in yoru customer experience, pair the quantitative data – which analyzes customer sentiment and perspective at every stage and interaction – with your new qualitative understanding of the user experience. By overlaying these data points – like a customers likelihood to renew – you’ll be able to pinpoint specific moments that drive loyalty or churn and their financial impacts.

 

At this point, now all that’s left is to prioritize the areas of opportunity and roadmap short- and long-term focuses to improve business workflow. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is continual evolution. Take the time to conduct ongoing testing and, as you do, update your experience map.

 

Need an example? A major broadband communications company who had been in the business of delivering entertainment and connection companies and companions long before the internet existed was struggling with gradual increases of customer dissatisfaction and churn. Month over month, the company’s acquisition and retention numbers decreased. Thei business and market share was at risk. By pairing quantitative sentiment with our qualitative understanding and visually mapping both, we were able to pinpoint the main points of friction that we needed to solve for: Severe client and market variability, inconsistent structure and resources a reactive servicing model, disparate systems and processes, a need for continued product training, and shifting client expectations. To summarize, the experience being delivered was afflicted with challenges and creating volatility throughout the journey, ultimately contributing to churn.

By outlining the specific issues, we were able to build a path forward to develop a proactive and consultative CX that focused on the most essential needs, including:

 

  • Elevating the customer care solution to create a repeatable experience that promotes consistency while preserving autonomy
  • Simplifying the employee experience to reduce friction by streamlining backend systems and processes
  • Modernizing client interactions with omnichannel and digital-forward experience
  • Invest in delivering an experience that is predictably proactive and drives consultative value
  • Clearly demonstrating the ongoing value of partnering with a customer care solution

Pinpointing the needs and developing solutions enabled us to become part of the client’s strategy, not just a one-off tractic. Next, we built a roadmap that encompassed recommended initiatives, identified workstreams, defined what success would look like and outlined how the work would enable continual program evolution.

The Bottom Line

By consistently completing the customer experience mapping exercise (don’t set it and forget it!), you can empower your team to problem solve from a data-driven perspective and establish plans for future CX initiatives and investments.

 

At the end of the day, customer experience mapping is about connecting with your customer, and deeply understanding and empathizing with their needs and wants. If your company can prioritize solving customer’s problems as the world evolves, you’ll set yourself up for unstoppable momentum.

Categories
Strategy

Qualitative vs. Quantitative Data In CX Design: Everything You Need to Know

This is a common issue for many organizations, big and small, but it’s not an impossible one to solve!

 

If you’re experiencing a similar situation, you need to invest in gathering persona data that will not only tell you who your customers are and what they care about, but why they care and how they expect brands to make them feel.

 

To get started, let’s define each set of data, how it’s gathered and what it’s used for.

 

What is qualitative data?

Qualitative data – or primary data – is commonly gathered by businesses and plays an important role in understanding target audience sentiment and informing customer journey design. By conducting unstructured or semi-structured first-person user interviews, discussions, on-site observations, in-house moderated user testing, web analytics, and focus groups, qualitative data-collecting techniques allow companies to interact directly with their key customers, see how they’re using their products or services and receive feedback in real-time. It helps define the customer journey and establish an initial foundation and understanding of all internal and external customer experiences.

 

There’s just one problem: Sometimes people don’t know what they want, don’t have the words to truly express how they feel, or simply, aren’t honest.

 

That’s when quantitative data comes in.

Quantitative data enhances primary research and design efforts by quantifying key problem areas.

What is quantitative data?

Quantitative data – which can be gathered through a variety of structured surveys, questionnaires, and polls – is essential secondary research. When transformed into statistics, it enhances primary research (qualitative data) and design efforts by quantifying key problem areas. It also allows marketers, developers, business leaders and customer experience drivers to peer into customer details, attitudes, and behaviors from a data-driven standpoint, and test hypotheses established from qualitative data.

Qualitative Data vs. Quantitative Data: When Should You Use Each & How?

Let’s start with the when. To craft the best customer experiences, companies should collect and analyze both data sources on an ongoing basis. Because – and this is a big one – audiences and their expectations are always changing. By executing primary and secondary research to gather qualitative and quantitative data, companies make themselves better equipped to not only identify, but truly understand their customer base – how they interact, experience, and feel about a website, application or overall brand.

 

And don’t forget to gather employee input, as well! Employees are often the first to know what’s working and what’s not. Most organizations shy away from gathering input from employees, but in our experience, leveraging this powerful knowledge base sooner rather than later helps identify root challenges and opportunities to improve faster and more effectively.

 

Also read: Crafting Employee Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences

 

Now, the how. After both qualitative and quantitative data has been collected, follow these steps:

Map your qualitative data

Example of mapping internal & external qualitative data

Using the qualitative data gathered, map internal perspectives around critical touch points and test it against customer feedback that was collected. This should reveal discrepancies between what internal teams believe is important, versus what customers assign value to. By taking this qualitative approach, teams can visually display opportunities and challenges within the current experience. Providing a picture that illuminates the differences between internal and external stakeholder perception makes achieving cross-functional alignment on future plans easier. There’s not a whole lot to argue about when the writing’s on the wall.

Pinpoint exact moments of friction and/or leverage in your customer journey

Utilize quantitative methods via surveys and other previously mentioned techniques to analyze customer sentiment – opinions and responses – as well as perspective at every stage of the journey. Keep in mind, each interaction a consumer can have with your brand, both passive and active, is a touchpoint and part of your overall brand journey. Therefore, every interaction must be diligently and continuously monitored, evaluated and iterated because one singular touchpoint can cultivate customer affinity or aversion.

Pair quantitative customer sentiment with a qualitative understanding of the user journey

Pairing qualitative and qualitative data

Quantifying the customer journey creates a data-driven understanding of the critical inflection points that drive loyalty and churn. This naturally illuminates root causes of friction (or conversion!) and enable teams to be data-driven in problem solving and planning for future CX initiatives and investments.

How To Use Qualitative & Quantitative Data To Decide on Next Steps

At Tallwave, we create an ‘Impact Matrix’ – this tool highlights opportunities for improvement and compares the impact they’ll each have against the level of effort and investment they’ll require. This helps create alignment and buy-in for low-risk, high impact initiatives that are critical to shaping and improving the customer experience.

 

Find a similar exercise or tool to visually demonstrate all the opportunities that lie ahead and inform the build of a new strategic roadmap that can take your teams and company into the future.

 

Perhaps most importantly, don’t let perfection get in the way of progress! Making big system changes to your end-to-end user experience may take time, but avoid trying to solve it all at once. Identifying the biggest opportunities and making incremental improvements over time, while learning along the way, will make a huge difference.

 

Last but not least, don’t stop. This isn’t a “set it and forget it” game. Customer behavior – be it with an existing website, application or with a brand across numerous touchpoints – must be closely monitored to ensure both user and business goals are consistently met. If they’re not, all teams – Content Strategy, Product Development, People & Culture, Performance Marketing – must align to identify solutions for evolution and continue growth.

 

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

Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress! Identifying the biggest opportunities and making incremental improvements over time, while learning along the way, will make a huge difference.

Bottom Line

Let data be your guide. Qualitative input is key, especially early on, but also leverage quantitative data as much as possible to make decisions. The combination of qualitative and quantitative helps you identify where there is friction, but also gives you the context you need to develop solutions that hit the mark. And if you don’t have the right data infrastructure set up today, that’s a good place to start.

If you need help collecting, comparing and mapping your qualitative and quantitative data to improve your customer journey and overall experience, contact our team today!

Categories
News Strategy This Week in CX

This Week in CX: Sephora Plans For a CX Makeover, General Motors Unveils Rebrand & More

Four words have been on repeat throughout our virtual office as of late – reband, redesign, rinse and repeat.

 

If you didn’t notice, Tallwave executed a total 360 rebrand in 2020 (what else was there to do when we were all hunkered down in our homes?!), so naturally, that’s been on the mind. And it appears some major legacy companies are changing their brand and visual messaging, as well.

 

Redesign is continuing to be a top priority for companies – big and small – in 2021. As the world changes and the new normal settles in, all businesses are being called to evaluate their customer journey, improve and iterate. And that’s no small feat. It takes alignment across all teams including research, design, content, development, marketing, branding and People & Culture to work towards a common goal and ultimately pull off a successful customer experience redesign. It’s a lot of work… we would know.

 

And lastly, rinse and repeat, or, as we often say, never set and forget. Now, these words don’t necessarily pertain to the stories we’re sharing today, but they’re crucial for any companies carrying out rebrands and redesigns to plaster on their walls. Why? Because even though both business milestones – rebrands and redesigns – require extremely heavy lifts, the job isn’t done once the final products and plans are announced and unveiled. Communities, customers, and cultural climates are changing faster than ever before, and with evolution comes new technologies, expectations and demands for businesses to do and be more.

 

So, cheers to the companies putting in the good work to serve their customers – employees and consumers – first. Celebrations are certainly in order. But once the dust settles, it’s time to go back to the beginning and measure, evaluate and continue to build.

 

With that said, 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.

 

Sephora: Your Scheduled Appointment For a Customer Experience Makeover Is Confirmed

 

Big kudos are in store for Sephora! On the heels of releasing “The Racial Bias in Retail Study,” the major beauty retailer announced plans to address and resolve racism, discrimination and other unfair treatment throughout their customer experience.

"Racial bias and unfair treatment exists at all phases of the shopping journey, even before a shopper walks into a store."

“It operates on multiple levels across the consumer journey,” Cassi Pittman Claytor, one of two academic partners who collaborated with Sephora to conduct the study, says in the report. “From the very start when people even think about things that they want to buy, to actually making a purchase, using a good — every step along the consumer journey, retail bias, racism is evident.”

 

The statistics in the report are pretty bleak, but if viewed through a different lens, they also uncover major opportunities for all retailers to make change. According to the study:

  • Three in five retail shoppers have experience discriminatory treatment
  • Two in five shoppers have personally experienced unfair treatment on the basis of their race or skin color
  • Three in five employees have witnessed bias at their place of work
  • Three in four retail shoppers feel that marketing fails to showcase a diverse range of skin tones, body types and hair textures
  • Four in five retail shoppers don’t believe there is a representation in brands or companies that are made by and made for people of color

To put actions behind their survey and words, Sephora revealed their D&I action plans to cultivate a sense of belonging for all consumers, regardless of race, skin color or shape, and they hope other retailers will do the same. The plans include new production guidelines designed to increase diversity in all marketing materials; improved in-store processes and mandates for greeting customers and gathering monthly D&I feedback; and more inclusive talent and employee recruiting, mentoring and training programs related to unconscious bias. Progress made across all sectors of their customer journey will be shared publicly on a bi-annual basis on a dedicated section of the company’s website.

It’s this full-picture approach that’s going to make the biggest impact.

 

“As companies take an introspective look at how well they’re serving the full diversity of their customer bases,” says Jessica Pumo, Tallwave’s Vice President of Marketing, “the most effective strategies for addressing racial bias will be those that consider the customer experience holistically across the entire customer journey and how well that experience meets the needs of all customer personas at every touch point.”

 

While strong representation in marketing, in-store staffing, and product assortment are key for creating an inclusive customer experience, Jessica says the employee experience is also paramount.

 

“Employees are the key drivers of customer experience. Sephora’s efforts to not just train employees on diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias, but to create an employee experience that delivers on the emotional outcomes they want to create for their customers should help them set the stage for authentic, lasting change.”

 

Also read: How to Craft Employees Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences

Even the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) Is Evaluating Their Customer Experience

Get ready to put “new vehicle registration tags” on your next grocery store list. The MVD is expanding its efforts to improve their current services because, well, frankly – and I think everyone would agree – the experience stinks.

 

“DMV’s have so much opportunity to improve customer experience,” says Tallwave’s Senior Digital Intel Strategist Brooke Weidenbaker. “You would be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys going to the DMV.”

 

Luckily, individual states are aware of their CX problem and looking for ways to improve. Just this past week, New Mexico started testing self-service vehicle registration kiosks at the popular chain grocery store Albertsons. To speed up the registration renewal process and print new tags right on the spot, shoppers can visit voice-enabled kiosks before or after picking up their weekly supply of eggs and milk.

"The kiosks will be able to collect data that otherwise might not be available at the in-person locations."

“We’re excited about being able to offer a convenient way for MVD customers to take care of business with us. Whether it’s online, over the phone, in person or now through these new self-service kiosks, we are committed to finding the best ways to serve everyone,” Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke said in a recent news release.

 

These new self-service registration kiosks New Mexico is trying out are an excellent start.

 

“Not only in providing consumers another option but also from a data perspective,” Brooke further explains. “The kiosks will be able to collect data that otherwise might not be available at the in-person locations. This is a great step in the right direction that will hopefully kickstart more improvements to the MVD experience across the country.”

 

Well, if nothing else, I know one thing: I’m buying an electric car next so at the very least, I don’t have to deal with emissions and the MVD. Which, speaking of emissions, brings us to our next story…

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter?

Kia and General Motors Unveil Rebrands For a Cleaner Future

New year, new me isn’t just for individuals – it’s for entire organizations, as well. Kia and General Motors both announced huge rebrands this past week, introducing updated visual logos and identities.

Kia's new logo 2021

“We designed the [new] logo around two basic principles. The first is symmetry that symbolizes a sort of stability and confidence that we have towards the future,” explained Karim Habib, Head of Kia’s Global Design. “The second principle is the rising gesture that you see on the K and on the A, meant to symbolize a rise in what we want to achieve with the brand and what we provide in terms of the brand experience to our customers in the future.”

 

General Motors also unveiled its modern-twist on their original logo that hasn’t substantially changed since 1964 – the change is meant to visually communicate its shift towards focusing on zero-emission vehicles.

GM's new logo 2021

As seen in the image above, the custom-designed font is now all lowercase with the ‘M’ featuring arches that symbolize the prongs of an electric plug. The more vibrant color is meant to represent their hope for bluer, cleaner skies.

 

“A logo is the customer’s front door to the brand,” says our Art Director Sean Tucker. “It is usually the most visible component and it represents the brand at the highest level. A great or compelling logo can make an impactful first impression – a chance to put a stake in the ground and say ‘this is what we stand for.’”

 

But Kia and General Motors did more than just rebrand their visual logos. They also evolved their overall messaging.

 

“The new Kia is undergoing a full transformation to deliver meaningful experiences, products, technologies, and design that are all focused on you – our customers,” explained Karim Habib. “From now on, every time you encounter a new element of the Kia brand, we want you to be inspired.”

 

That’s quite fitting given Kia’s other major brand messaging changes, swapping the “Power to Surprise” tagline for “Movement that Inspires” and dropping “Motors” from its corporate name to reflect a future in which they offer sustainable mobility solutions for everyone around the world.

 

Meanwhile, General Motors is also fighting for a zero-emissions future. “There are moments in history when everything changes,” GM’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said. “We believe such a point is upon us for the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Unlike ever before, we have the solutions, capability, technology and scale to put everyone in an EV. Our new brand identity and campaign are designed to reflect this.”

"Sure, we need to teach customers about our product and hopefully convince them to buy it, but the real magic happens when we make them feel something."

When carrying out a rebrand, companies must first start at the core – the heart – of the company and identify what they believe and value most.

 

“A brand is so much more than just its logo,” adds our Art Director Sean Tucker. “It is critical that the brand is built with thoughtful messaging and communications. Sure, we need to teach customers about our product and hopefully convince them to buy it, but the real magic happens when we make them feel something. The most successful brands have built lifestyles around their products that their customers truly believe in. Nike isn’t Nike because of their (kind of awkward) logo. Nike is a dedication to being faster, stronger, and better. Millions of people put a little Apple sticker on their car when they got their first iPhone, but that’s not because it’s a really great illustration of a fruit. It’s a badge of honor, it says ‘I believe in this.’”

 

While consumers have varying opinions on the new visual logos, most agree that Kia and GM’s commitments to creating a healthier, more sustainable world is what matters most.

Categories
Innovators Series Strategy Uncategorized

Innovators Q&A: How Genexa Is Challenging the Pharmaceutical Industry & FDA

Welcome to our first of many interviews with innovators, mavericks and leaders across the globe who are challenging convention and changing the CX status quo!

 

To kick off the series, our Partner Robert Wallace who leads Tallwave’s strategic market and growth opportunities interviewed Kelli MacDonald, Chief Marketing Officer of the world’s first clean medicine company Genexa. Founded in 2014 by two dads who were concerned about the ingredients in their family’s medicine bottles, Genexa has one simple mission: To put people over everything. They believe in expanding health education and improving accessibility to clean medicines for all. And in 2021, they’ve got some pretty big goals – some backed by data, and others inspired by their ‘StoryDoing’ ethos. 

 

Learn how Genexa plans to evolve from start-up to household name, Washington D.C. lobbyist, and the brand that changed the over-the-counter (OTC) industry for good. 

Q&A with Kelli Lane MacDonald, Genexa CMO

Robert Wallace: To start, I think it would be worthwhile for you to give us a brief overview of your background and an introduction to Genexa.

 

Kelli Lane MacDonald: Sure! I [started my career cutting] my teeth at various different advertising agencies up and down Madison Avenue, if you will, in New York City. I went back to school while working at one of those agencies to really dig into customer experience, human centered design – to expand my knowledge.

 

Through that process, I landed at a brand strategy firm that really focused on putting the person at the center of the experience. [They] hung their philosophy on this idea of ‘StoryDoing’… [it’s] the concept that you [not only] need a really powerful story and mission – you need to do that story in the world. The best brands in the world – [the ones that] are most famous, impactful and giving back to society – are the ones that follow that kind of philosophy. So, through that work – through my previous agency where I was the Managing Director – we started working with Genexa to help them finalize their brand and really take them to the next level with the launch into stores – 40,000 different retailers like Target and RiteAid, Walgreen, Whole Foods and many others. So, I bring a lot of experience with marketing, communications and consumer insights – how to speak with, touch and provide value to consumers everyday.

 

What really drives me every morning to wake up and [makes me] excited to do this job with Genexa is what they’ve built. The founders of Genexa, David Johnson and Matt Spielberg, are two dads. About five years ago, they looked at what was in their children’s medicine and couldn’t believe the artificial dyes, colors and ingredients – literally the poisonous ingredients in substances like Antifreeze – that are being used in micro-doses in our medicines and we ingest to make us feel better. They felt there had to be another way and so they embarked on a journey to really create alternatives that are just as effective and have the same active ingredients, which is the reason you take a medicine – acetaminophen, diphenhydramine… the reason you take Tylenol or Mucinex or Benadryl – but take out all of the dirty, inactive ingredients and replace them with organic, non-GMO alternatives. Our whole company is built around this philosophy ‘People over everything…’ That everyone deserves access to cleaner, better for you medicines. And you know, we’re thankful to all of our retail partners who are helping us bring that to everybody.

"Our whole company is built around this philosophy ‘People over everything…’ That everyone deserves access to cleaner, better for you medicines."

RW: Thank you for that. It’s a really interesting concept. When you looked or are looking at building out Genexa, do you take into consideration any specific touchpoints in the over-the-counter buying journey? What user experience components do you believe to be most critical to customer conversions and loyalty? 

 

KLM: That’s a great question. There’s really two kinds of OTC drug shoppers and all of us are those two personas depending on the situation that we’re in. There’s the emergency situation: Your child has a 103 degree fever. It’s 11pm at night. You need to go get relief for them to bring that fever down. Or you are not in a moment of crisis and are thinking about how to improve your health, be prepared and clean up your medicine cabinet or find alternative options.

 

As consumers, there’s been a clean revolution in all kinds of industries – food, beverage, beauty – to me, it’s actually the most counterintuitive thought in the world that the medicine we put into our bodies to make us feel better would be the products that are still dirty and have dirty ingredients.

 

As we think about those two personas – the emergency shopping persona versus the non-crisis but trying to prepare [persona] – there are different needs, right? If you’re in an emergency situation, [you’re] not ordering something online and waiting two days for it to [arrive]. It’s not useful, at that point. Where as.. If you’re thinking about how to live a less stressful life or help with sleep at night because of the changing of time zones, you’re more in that reactive mode. Because of that, we made a really conscious decision to be the only pharmaceutical company that sells omnichannel. We, obviously, have an in-store presence with retailers. We have a .com, we have Amazon, we’re selling through instacart. [We’ve made] a conscious decision that we never want to force a consumer to shop in a way that is not natural or useful for them, and, therefore, we had to build out sales and marketing strategies that supported that.

RW: How did you come to those realizations that it needed to be a 360 customer experience or to understand that those were the two primary personas that you were looking at? Did you do audience research?

 

KLM: Yes, we did quite a bit back in [quarter one] of last year. To give my counterparts that run sales internally at Genexa credit – they started having retailer conversations long before the marketing team did tons of audience research and segmentation and said this was the right decision: To go have those conversations. I think, originally, like any entrepreneurial culture, there’s probably a little bit of gut feeling, a lot of talking to people in aisles. Everybody on our executive team walks into retail aisles and just talks to customers – well before COVID. We don’t do that currently. And so, it starts by understanding the customer – we used research to validate that – and also find additional insights to understand how to reach them, how to add value and [to uncover] what their need states were.

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter

RW: How did you identify or evaluate which channels to go after first? You have DTC, big and small retailers, instacart – how did you prioritize those or even think of those when crafting omnichannel funnels? What was most important to you and your strategy?

 

KLM: It’s chicken and egg, honestly, because from my perspective, depending on who you are as a brand – that’s where I think you need to really start: Do some soul searching, figure out what is authentically you. Then use that to inform how you think about your business and where to build, invest time, money and effort first. But I think the egg side of that is – especially with more entrepreneurial startup environment – you have to get your product into people’s hands. So, really organically, our sales team went to the Erewhons and the Sprouts in LA [where it was founded] with backpacks of product… and just asked for some time with the decision-makers of those stores.

 

But I also think, coming back to the brand point, part of what makes Genexa so different is that we call ourselves the only human funnel. We are pharma with a face. Our founders phone numbers are on every single product on the box. We have Founder Fridays where our two founders actually call customers. Our customer service team are people, they’re not robots or offshore. They sit in the office with the rest of the teams. It was really important to us to make sure that, when we’re thinking about where we’re going to show up, we do that in a way that ladders back to the brand and that humanity.

RW: Is that a good example of ‘StoryDoing?’

 

KLM: Yes! My team gets tired of me saying this, but I constantly say, ‘Living out our purpose is not the job of just the marketing team.’

In order for a company to be successful – [for] a brand to be built and have long-term loyalty and really impact change in a society – every single person in the company, whether in quality or compliance or legal or sales, they need to understand what mission we’re on and they need to shape and drive their actions accordingly.

"Every single person in the company, whether in quality or compliance or legal or sales, they need to understand what mission we’re on and they need to shape and drive their actions accordingly."

RW: I agree. You think about brands people truly love – truly covet – and have an emotional connection to. Those people that have that kind of affinity, they don’t talk about it in terms of a product thing or a customer service thing or a marketing thing. It’s a brand thing and that means every touchpoint has to be right in line. You’re making a promise as a brand – you have to question if everything else is fulfilling that promise.

 

KLM: Right, [you have to consider] every interaction [a person has] with the brand: Opening the package of a medicine bottle, where [they shop for that, calling customer service or, obviously, the social impact work that we do. All of [those are] our brand touchpoints. [They’re all] opportunities for consumers to create a relationship, good or bad, with the brand. The companies that are doing it poorly are only thinking about advertising – they’re talking, they’re not walking. It’s those that are on the flipside of that – that understand that purpose has to be embedded into everything you do as a business – that are most successful.

 

Also read: Real People Told Us What They Want From Healthcare in 2021

RW: It’s that idea of authentic awareness. It’s not just about doing a mass market campaign, but doing something authentically that actually speaks to people in a way they care about. It’s not just driving eyeballs, that’s only part of it. So, you have the authentic awareness part of things, you have the culture storytelling… you obviously have a product that’s cleaner, better and healthier for people. Those are departures from other OTC brands out there, but is there anything else you’re doing that’s different from other legacy brands you’re competing against? Not that those two alone aren’t enough.

 

KLM: Yes. We’ve been working on a [longer term] impact strategy, so we’re going to have a couple of pretty significant initiatives kick off this year that are in service of driving change at a systemic level. So, with the FDA – I don’t know if you know this but Europe actually has the European standard, which is the equivalent of the FDA in Europe, and the standards that they put out are incredibly more strict than they are in the U.S. All of the ingredients that are on Genexa’s ‘X List’ – which is our growing list of ingredients that we vow never to put in our products and are in our competitor’s products – 98% of those are banned in Europe. So, it’s not even a question for European products. That really gets you thinking. How come European citizens have access to carte blanche better products than there are in the U.S? It doesn’t seem sensible. So, Genexa is really leading the charge. I don’t want to give too much away, but we’re going to be partnering with some other brands that you know and love to really drive that change at a systemic level in Washington D.C. [and with the FDA.

 

We’re also really looking at – I said the word access earlier – [increasing] knowledge. First and foremost, people don’t know that these ingredients are in their medicines. Then, [it’s about getting people] access to the actual product. We’re standing up an initiative that will help bring education and actual products to communities that otherwise don’t have access, have been forgotten about or are often overlooked because – especially with clean products – I think marketers realized a couple decades ago that they could mark those products up to be premium pricing. Genexa does not believe in [in that]. Our products are more expensive to source because they are better-for-you products – they’re not synthetically made in a lab – and so what we’ve done is kept those price points as competitive as possible. They’re never more than 15% of the leading skew. That’s really driven by this idea of ‘People over everything’. Everybody deserves knowledge and access to better products.

RW: How do you measure ‘People over everything’? You have this idea of people – it feels qualitative… super important but qualitative – but then you have to measure that somehow. How are you measuring your impact or how are you using data to measure whether you’re on the right track or not?

 

KLM: There are some really incredible brand impact partners that have built out tools to help do that. I think there’s probably a more formal way to do that, which we’re working on standing up.

 

I think informally, we do donate quite a bit of product to different organizations – new moms that don’t have health insurance… Baby2Baby does a lot of really good work with new moms. We don’t shout it off of the rooftops. We feel we’re privileged enough to be in a position where we can give the product to people [who] need it. And that’s our duty, we are fortunate to be in that position. Two years back, we actually built a clean water well in Central America because access to clean water is really the fundamental starting point for good health, or better health.So, we’ve really acted out quite a few initiatives over the past few years that we can more informally measure.

 

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

But to answer your question, there are tools that – when you design your brand impact strategy – you look at societal and cultural health and there are all these different metrics that you can measure the impact your brand is having over time to help move that needle. One of our goals over the next few years is to start getting the FDA to cross out previously approved ingredients in all medicines, [so] Genexa [is not] the only [brand] that has better ingredients. That’s a tangible measurement. If we can get five of those products removed – or however many ingredients removed – across the U.S., that’s longterm going to incrementally have an incredible impact on people’s health.

 

RW:  If you’re successful in what you’re setting out to do, that will disrupt the OTC market quite a lot. Do you feel that disruption is a prerequisite of innovation or do you think that you can innovate and do cool things that aren’t necessarily disruptive but still effective?

 

KLM: The latter. If you go back to the famous Henry Ford quote of 1920-something, when he said ‘If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.’ He wasn’t necessarily looking to disrupt horse and buggy [businesses], he was identifying an opportunity to create a better product, a better experience. [He was identifying] a need state for people. So, I think disruption is one way, but I also think consumer insight – understanding where people are and what they need most – [can be disruptive].

 

I love the Swiffer example, too. They went in people’s houses and looked at how women, primarily, homemakers were cleaning floors. One woman wet a paper towel and mopped up the coffee grounds off the floor. Again, not setting out to disrupt vacuums, but trying to define a better option. In-between the vacuum happens to be a Swiffer.

"It was really important to us to make sure that, when we’re thinking about where we’re going to show up, we do that in a way that ladders back to the brand and that humanity."

RW: I love that example. The spinbrush is another one. So, this has been a big year for everyone, obviously: 2020. But Genexa went through a rebranding, released a new line of products, launched some campaigns and even established a partnership with Nintendo. That’s a big year. What do you see as your mandate as CMO for 2021?

 

KLM: To make 2020 feel like it was just a step on the journey. This year is all about growth. Last year was about foundation and reinforcing foundational elements and starting to put the pieces in place for serious growth. Obviously, getting a presence in 40,000 doors is growth, but it was really just starting to reinforce that foundation. This year is about taking us to the next level. Ultimately, I want Genexa to be a household name. I want everybody to understand that they don’t have to settle for less than acceptable ingredients in their medicines. Then we can start thinking beyond just OTC… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

RW: We’re marketing people. It’s what we do. Thank you so much, Kelli! I love what Genexa is doing. I love your passion for it and I love the idea of really being authentic in how you’re doing your business and at scale. Genexa looks like it’s well on its way.

 

KLM: Thank you, Robert!

Want to learn more about Genexa? Visit their website and check out their latest advertising spot below.

Categories
Strategy

Crafting Employee Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences

The employee experience – also known as EX – is defined as the psycho-cognitive sentiments or perceptions that employees have about working at their specific companies. To translate that into English, it encompasses the feeling employees have about their work, their colleagues, the culture and every encounter and observation they have over the course of their tenure. As customer experience (CX) continues to become a pillar to brand success and differentiation in the 21st century, many businesses are starting to realize that, since people are their greatest assets, more energy and effort must be afforded to both the experiences that internal and external stakeholders have.

 

There are many factors that play into the employee experience:

 

  1. Location: Where they work, either physically in an office or remotely from home, and the communication and professional tools that are afforded to them in those situations
  2. Relationships: How they work and regularly interact with their bosses, peers, leadership team, and those that they serve (clients/customers)
  3. Culture: How connected, understood, accepted, supported, and cared for they feel within the larger company – it’s important to note that work-life balance comes into play here Mission: How well they understand their individual goals, the company’s overall goals, and the expectations their performance is evaluated against
  4. Purpose: How well they understand and align with their work and company mission, and how much they feel their contributions matter

Also read: Why Tallwavers – Old & New – Say Tallwave Is a Great Place to Work

How Does EX Impact CX?

 

Picture this: Your company spent weeks, months, maybe even years executing a digital transformation that allows customers to easily search, compare and buy products on your website and coordinate curbside pickup. The experience is dialed in. The site is easy to navigate, the content – from both an editorial and design perspective – is clear, and every stage of the buying journey motivates users to take action and convert. But then, when time comes for the customer to pick up the order, she is greeted by an employee who carries it out with his mask hanging below his chin. In a time when people prioritize safety and trust over everything, exceptional digital CX isn’t enough to prevent customer churn after a poor in-person interaction.

 

So, how do you ensure your business delivers exceptional experiences, whether digitally (via real people or A.I.), in person or via a hybrid of them all? You focus on your employee experience first. And employee engagement – the most common metric for identifying positive or engaging employee experiences – is directly related to the customer’s experience.

Employer Net Promoter Score helps employers measure employee satisfaction and loyalty within their organizations.

If you look at employee net promoter scores (ENPS) and compare them to customer net promoter scores, you’ll see that the metrics are highly correlated. When one is up, the other is typically up. When one is down, the other is usually down. And it’s not hard to understand why. When people are engaged in their work environment – no matter what they’re selling, what the company does, or what industry they’re in – they’re bringing their best self to work. They’re going the extra mile and innovating on the fly. That mindset pays off downstream for customers.

 

On the flip side, if employees feel disconnected – say, for example, they feel their wellbeing isn’t cared for – they’re probably not doing their best work. They’re not promoting the organization to others because, frankly, they don’t really like it. In turn, they create a lackluster customer experience for everyone involved.

 

No matter the industry, your people are who drive your customer experience. The larger your organization, the more critical that is because, as leaders, you’re typically further away from the frontline of customer experience. You must rely on your people which is why the investment is so crucially important.

The Biggest EX Mistakes

There have been a few trends in employee experience over the last decade. For example, game rooms were once the big thing. If you had a game room in your office – allowed employees to play pool or tennis table during encouraged breaks – that meant you were creating a really engaging, cool experience. Don’t get me wrong, the fun stuff does matter, but other things are more impactful than the perks, frills, and extras that companies often tout as cultural differentiators.

 

The biggest misstep organizations make is not asking employees directly what they want, what they value, and what’s most meaningful to them.

 

When you don’t ask those questions, you’re making assumptions based on what you think and read is the hot fad of the moment in employee experience. You’re likely spending money, time, and effort in areas that aren’t as appreciated by your employees as you think.

The biggest misstep organizations make is not asking employees directly what they want, what they value, and what’s most meaningful to them.

6 Ways to Begin Improving Employee Experience

Employee experience and the ways in which it can and should be implemented is multifaceted, but here are six ways to begin improving your EX today.

1. Lead with vulnerability

One of the most underutilized but most important leadership qualities is vulnerability. It is especially important these days, during the current pandemic and crisis. Leaders should project an image of consistency, confidence, and resilience but also be humble, authentic, and vulnerable. Admitting to not having the answers or making mistakes can empower the cultivation of an open and honest work environment.

 

If you’re going to ask teams for feedback, plan to address the feedback and actually do something. That, in itself, goes leaps and bounds in helping bring that engagement and bring those employees along for the ride.

 

If you’re just surveying for the sake of surveying, you’ll likely end up with an irritated team and an even worse employee experience.

2. Understand what your employees really want

I suggest using an employee engagement survey-type tool to solicit feedback from teams. The tool you choose doesn’t need to have 47 reports and multiple different ways to slice and dice data, especially if you’re not a big organization just yet. What’s most important is to pick a couple of benchmark metrics that you’re going to use to consistently look over time. When surveying, you’re trying to accomplish two things:

 

  1. Identify what’s working and what’s not so that you know where to focus your efforts.
  2. Over time, measure how the actions and changes you make actually impact engagement

Short but frequent surveys are best – you don’t want to wait six months or a year to get an update or a pulse check. Anonymity is the other key factor in gathering real, honest feedback. However you’re sending surveys out to the team, make sure they feel confident to share how they really feel.

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

3. Measure improvement with metrics

The two most commonly used benchmark metrics for employee engagement are overall engagement and employee net promoter score (eNPS). They are widely used and consistent definitions that act as monitors for organizations to track progress as they make changes.

 

There are, of course, questions that sit underneath metrics that help define how engaged employees are in their job – including relationship with managers, work/life balance, and wellness – but employee engagement and eNPS are good places to start with a plan to dig a little deeper later.

 

The very first survey should be used to establish benchmark numbers that every following survey is compared against. This approach will reveal how effective your actions are in driving and improving employee engagement.

 

Also read: How to Brainstorm For Innovation

4. Prioritize mental health over everything

Mental health was relevant pre-pandemic but even more so now. Everything is moving so quickly. Our personal and professional lives are melding together in ways they never have before. If you’re not intentionally creating safe spaces for employees to take breaks, you may be doing a disservice to the organization.

 

Taking time is about so much more than just avoiding burnout. It’s in those disconnect times that teams and employees find moments to grow – to think about what’s possible, instead of what you have to do today. Architecting and innovating time to breath can empower positive feelings and greater commitment to work.

If you’re not intentionally creating safe spaces for employees to take breaks, you may be doing a disservice to the organization.

5. Reimagine what’s possible

As you begin looking for ways to create more space for your teams, you may find that old techniques don’t work anymore. Strategies may need to evolve, including those crafted with the intention of building team connectedness.

 

Here are some ideas:

 

  • Swap virtual happy hours for virtual escape rooms or other competitions.
  • Change the location up! Instead of meeting in a conference room, try parks or (in a post-COVID world) coffee shops.
  • Think differently about recognition. If you previously sent flowers for birthdays or gift cards to restaurants, are those things still valuable? How about sending a box of cookies to a team member on a tough day? We’ve found that to be more valuable than a $100 gift card to a high-end restaurant because, in the moment, that’s what they needed.

Only you and your team can know what’s right for each individual. Get creative and think outside the box to cultivate a sense of connection that goes beyond a Zoom screen.

 

Also read: Solving For the Lack of Diversity in CX

6. Get started today

If employee experience is not something you’re actively monitoring, you should take steps to do it today. There’s no time to wait. It’s not even about taking action, it’s about gaining awareness of where you are right now and how your employees are feeling. If that’s a blinder to your organization, you’re missing out on a whole component of your business that is likely having an impact on your end-of-the-line results and overall customer experience.

What’s Next for Employee Experience?

The word “workplace” is defined differently today than it was even a year ago.

 

As we move forward, expect to see more integration of wellbeing in the workplace. The days of trying to make time for self-care – whether after work, over a weekend, or in-between errand runs – are gone. People are beginning to prioritize their own wellness as highly as they have for their families and loved ones.

 

The challenge? The path to wellness and wellbeing is different for everyone. Some people need to practice stress-relieving techniques, while others prefer engaging in physical activity, reading a book, furthering education via a certification, or relaxing at a spa. Whatever it is – they all have one thing in common: It provides space and time for people to breathe, explore and grow. The longer we stay in a dispersed work environment and the more weight that continues to fall on people’s shoulders, the ways in which time is spent will be prioritized. Organizations that can find ways to seamlessly integrate these kinds of opportunities into their organizations will benefit. They will become the true differentiators for employee experience.

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter?

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

The Bottom Line

The most successful employee experiences must be crafted with the whole person in mind. When you understand who people are – not only when they’re on the Zoom call but who they are when they’re off – and you provide opportunities and experiences catered to them, your end-of-the-line results and overall customer experience will benefit.

Categories
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
Strategy

Are Multiple Brands Better Than One?

When companies undergo the process of transformation as they seek to differentiate themselves and solve for ever-evolving consumer pain points, it’s not uncommon for new ideas, product lines or service spinoffs to hatch. Unrealized possibilities tend to be unearthed and opportunities to break into new audience segments are revealed.

 

Many organizations soon encounter the challenge of fitting new brand offerings within the original parent brand. With each addition to the product or service line, do you create a different name, package, and marketing strategy? What is the best way to maximize the value of both the unique offering and the brand as a whole when you introduce something new?

There are several common approaches: masterbrand, endorsed, individual, and hybrid. Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages depending on your goals and the needs of your customer.

When to Link Brands Together

If your company makes multiple products or offers multiple services that play well together, you’ll most likely have success sub-branding them or creating a brand extension. This type of structure can include the following approaches:

 

  1. The endorsed brand in which each sub-brand may carry the same values, but will have its own distinct brand identity. An example would be Marriott with its JW Marriott, Residence Inn and Ritz Carlton sub-brands.
  2. The branded house or masterbrand in which the parent brand influences the identity of the sub-brand. An example here is Google with Chrome, Maps, Drive, etc.
  3. The hybrid, which is a blend of individual and masterbrand. Coca-Cola Company for example, has multiple individual product brands like Sprite, Dasani, Fanta, etc., but they also have their series of classic Coca-Cola products.

The so-called “halo effect” of sub-branding in the hybrid brand scenario can permeate into new audiences who may not be served directly by the parent brand’s core offering.

Let’s look at Uber Freight as an example.

 

Created by the parent company Uber, Uber Freight looks, feels and performs much the same as the app the company is best known for, but it serves a completely different, and very niche, audience. Based on the needs of this particular audience, the brand was able to take the “Uber experience” and tailor it to this untapped segment while maintaining its core brand principles. Uber didn’t stray from its core offering of better transportation, but the two brands have completely different strategies for attracting users and a different voice, tone and messaging.

 

Uber knew that when it came to truckers, they didn’t have the benefit of brand recognition – in fact, most truckers at that time had never even heard of the app. The company had to take a step back and really learn the market: The pain points, how to get truckers to adopt new technology, and how to communicate with them. The Uber Freight team hyper-focused on a specific region (in this case, Dallas), hired people who were experts in the industry and could speak the language, and began more of a direct outreach approach. A sub-brand with the same underlying purpose as the namesake brand, but a different approach and infrastructure for gaining users.

If your company offers multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences…

Then, in this case, the individual brand approach might be more fitting. Companies that offer multiple products or services that appeal to distinctly different audiences, so much so that a given customer likely wouldn’t even consider buying one product but would be very interested in another, could benefit from brand individuality.

 

This is not to be confused with brand extension, whereby a company will branch out into completely different product spaces altogether (like Guinness brewing beer and publishing a book of records). An individual brand is more like a sub-brand with a completely different look, feel and even price point. It’s where a parent brand will have a series of unrelated, independent brands under its umbrella. Think Unilever with Dove, Persil, Vaseline, Lipton, Korr, etc.

 

With the individual approach, each brand has vastly different personas they appeal to. Going the individual route is tricky for this precise reason, but the opportunity to increase personalization with each brand in order to reach disparate audiences can be enticing for organizations.

 

Also read: What Is CX & Why Does It Matter?

When To Build From Scratch

Finally, in some cases you’ll find two completely disparate brands that ultimately can be traced back to one company. This is often done if the two brands serve different audiences and have completely different visions and values. If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn’t share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

If the new product or service aims to fulfill different purposes and doesn't share a particular stance, it may be best to completely separate the two brands.

When this occurs, the originating entity often doesn’t publicize the fact that they are behind the two brands, and in many cases customers of either brand is none the wiser the other exists. This tends to be the least common of the three brand architectures, as most organizations have an underlying vision, purpose or stance that is echoed throughout each of their offerings.

 

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

How to Know Which Strategy Is Best For You

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers. Does your current customer base have a need that this particular product or service solves for? Does the new product fulfill upon your existing brand’s deeper purpose and vision, or does it have a completely different mission of its own? Answering these will help you determine which approach is the best option.

 

Keep in mind, if you commit to the individual branding approach, while it’s not completely necessary to make perfectly clear the brand connection, it is important to ensure you carry the same vision and values through each of your separate offerings.

The answer on which direction to go often lies within your vision, values and customers.

Another advantage of individual vs. pure sub-branding is that one misstep with a individual brand won’t damage your overall organization as much as a sub-branded failure. Because most sub-brands are visually and tonally in line with each other, bad publicity or a colossal failure in even a smaller venture can have disastrous consequences. We’ve seen this play out with well known brands like Samsung with its Galaxy Note 7 and Apple – even the most diehard Apple fans will abandon the brand across the board if one product doesn’t meet their expectations.

 

Individual brands don’t carry quite the same risk, though the lack of obvious association can be a drawback if a smaller off-shoot brand performs particularly well. It’s also worth noting, when a company brand spins off too many offshoot product brands all geared towards a similar audience segment, it can cause a tremendous amount of confusion.

 

An example of this is Centrieva, an accreditation management software for higher education. They launched a series of new products, each with its own brand name and all for a tangential market, and consequently, their customers and prospects became increasingly confused about the offerings. The solution to this problem was to parse out Centrieva as the corporate brand (which would live in the background) and create Weave as the master brand with each product as a sub-brand of Weave. In applying “Weave” to each product name, we helped create brand association and recognition and showed how each product works together as one cohesive platform.

 

On the path to transformation, as you uncover the latent (or obvious) wants, needs and desires of your audience, it will become more clear which brand architecture is best suited for your organization. You may discover, like Uber did, that you are dealing with a completely different audience segment who doesn’t even know you currently exist. If you’re creating a product that addresses a subsequent pain point of your existing audience, your brand name will likely carry levity. And in that case, you could go the route of Virgin, applying your brand name to product descriptions or sub-brands.

 

Note: This article was originally published on October 11, 2017 and updated and republished on December 29, 2020.

Categories
Strategy

How to Set Content & Design Teams Up For CX Success

Content is crucial to a brand’s success because it communicates what a brand is all about.


Design is equally as crucial to a brand’s success because it helps customers retain those very messages that took so much effort to thoughtfully craft.


The ways in which content and design teams collaborate can often vary from company to company; some organizations umbrella all content and design employees into one big creative team who collaborate on projects regularly, while other digital companies break them up and pair them together on a project-by-project basis.


When working in silos, both components individually contribute to the way consumers feel and think about a brand, but when performed synergistically, they deliver seamless experiences that support the same objectives, speak to the same audiences, and project consistent characteristics. The end result? Increased customer sentiment, satisfaction, and likeliness to return.


Whether you’re building a website from scratch, developing an omnichannel marketing strategy or executing a complete company rebrand, there are a couple things that must happen in order to set content and design teams up for collaborative success.

Start with research

When planning a strategy for a digital CX transformation, research is key. There are two areas of research that design and content teams should prioritize: their audiences and their competitors.

Audiences

Both teams need a common understanding of who their audiences or core customer groups are, but they can’t just know the who – when crafting CX, it’s crucial to understand the why. These are the basic demographic questions that brands typically answer to identify their “who”:


  • What does your target audience look like?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • What is their annual income?
  • What is their relationship status?
  • What generation do they belong to?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What problems do they have?
  • What questions do they often ask themselves?

However, by answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups:


  • What deeper motivations or beliefs drive their decision-making?
  • What is causing them to seek out solutions now?
  • How do they assign value to the things they deem important?
  • Why do they value what they do?
  • What are their interests? (This is different than their hobbies) What are their opinions on ___________? (Fill in the blank as it pertains to your product or services)

By answering psychographic questions – or the “why” – brands can craft more meaningful experiences curated for specific core consumer groups.

Competitors

When looking at competitors, teams should choose 3-5 of their top competitors and take a deep dive into their CX strategy. How do they speak to their audience? What do they highlight as their defining features? Which social platforms are they utilizing? What types of content (video, infographics, blog post, etc.) do they have? What are their colors? What is the look and feel of their photography and design? What is the voice and tone?


The most important component of competitive research may be looking at competitors as a collective to discover opportunities to stand above the crowd. Gaps in the market allow brands to be unique and develop key differentiators and characteristics in design and content strategies.

Write the story

Every brand has a story, but it has to be written down and widely shared (and repeated) for cross-company alignment to manifest.


When developing a brand story, it’s important for companies to define their objectives: What should potential customers understand? What are the key takeaways? What are the shared values that drive them forward? Creating a shared understanding of the story lends way to crafting a mission statement and list of core beliefs that employees and customers can rally around.


On top of that, decisions must be made about the brand’s verbal personality and attitude – namely, voice and tone. Brand voice reflects how language is used to convey purpose and intention. It’s defined by a brand’s style of communication and can vary based on persona and values and can range from intellectual or authoritative to fun, witty or anything in between. Conversely, tone can change depending on what channel is being used or who is being addressed – however, a framework of how and when different tones are used should be established for consistency.


A brand story should be simple, clear, and straightforward, so much so that any stakeholder – internally or externally – could sum it up in one sentence. Of course, that’s not always easy. In fact, it often takes months of writing, rewriting, debating, discussing and exploring a variety of approaches and perspectives before a brand’s message becomes clear. When that’s complete, though, design and content are armed with a singular ethos that can inform the implicit and explicit messages their creations deliver.


  • An effective story should:
  • Communicate what a brand does
  • Make customers – both internally and externally – care
  • Explain the problem the brand is trying to solve for
  • Foster trust & loyalty with everyone it touches

Here are some brand statements from top companies that do just that:


  • Apple is dedicated “to bringing the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”
  • Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman believes, “if you have a body, you are an athlete.” And Nike, “stresses to show each and every person how to reach the athlete within themselves.”
  • Airbnb is creating “a world where anyone can belong anywhere.”
  • Coca-Cola strives to, “craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit.”
  • Southwest strives to, “connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Then visualize that story

It’s not just words that drive initial interest. emotional attachments or an overall experience with a brand. In fact, sometimes, design can play an even bigger role in that, especially when viewed through a lateral or psychological lens.


Voice and tone, as mentioned previously, set the stage. It gives a designer purpose to create, illustrate, and plan around. But taking that voice and tone to the next level with a visual archetype that aligns with things people have seen before, creates connection and relevancy, or elicits an emotional response can enable a brand to be understood without ever having to read anything.


A great example is Pinkberry. When defining the brand story, they chose a sweeter, more feminine look. Their visual design, whether on social media or in their yogurt shops, reflect a consistent aesthetic and mood. By using cursive typefaces, pastelle and airy colors, and curved illustrations, customers – old or new – immediately associate the brand with playful, approachable, youthful and delightful attributes.

 

Photo of Pinkberry's website

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story. Some things they take into consideration are:

Color:

  • Red: Communicates energy and urgency; Red is often used to communicate boldness, youthfulness and excitement
  • Orange: Sometimes perceived as aggressive, orange creates a call-to-action; it can elicit feelings of confidence, cheerfulness or friendliness
  • Yellow: An attention-grabber, yellow typically elicits feelings of optimism, clarity, and warmth
  • Green: The easiest color for the eye to process, green is often used in fields related to science, government and HR. It can cultivate feelings of peace, growth and health.
  • Blue: Often associated with feelings of trust and security, blue is seen as clean, calming, and professional, as well as dependent and strong.
  • Purple: Regularly used in the beauty industry, purple is associated with being wise, creative and imaginative.
  • Gray: The most practical and timeless of the colors, gray is used to communicate balance, neutrality, reliability and a level of calmness.
  • Black: Often used by luxury brands, black is seen as powerful and sleek. It can contribute to feelings of credibility, power, professionalism, and precision.

Shape:

  • Circular: Elicits feelings of community, friendship, love, partnership, unity, stability and innovation. Example of brands with a circular logo include Google Chrome, Starbucks, and Audi
  • Angular: Elicits feelings of professionalism, stability, and efficiency, as well as power, strength, balance, and reliability. Examples of brands include Mitsubishi Motors, Microsoft, and AirTable
  • Linear: Elicits feelings of exuberance, balance, sophistication, energy, and dynamic movement. Examples include AirBnB, Adidas, and Cisco

Whatever colors and shapes are used, the end result should visually represent the brand’s values, voice and tone.

Make the creative game plan

One question brands often ask is: Does the design framework come first? Or should content be strategized and written to drive design?


The answer: There is no answer. In fact, figuring that out is part of the creative process.


Some designers prefer to have content before they create a mockup. Some content creators prefer to know what space they need to fill before they begin writing. There is no right or wrong answer to your team’s plan as long as it is clearly defined, timelines are established, outlines are created and good project management is executed.


Teams who stick to the schedule and hold one another accountable benefit from more effective communication that helps bring the brand vision to life.

 

Professional designers know the importance of considering psychology and neuroscience when matching visual designs to the written brand story.

Evaluate your work & iterate regularly

As content and design work together, flexibility is key. A good CX strategy should be consistently evaluated, refined, evolved and transformed to meet ever-changing audience needs and compete with advancements in the industry.

 

Delegating tasks can help brands stay on top of potential and necessary updates: Direct content teams to share new trending keywords that can relate to a brand’s business or audiences and designers to report on new industry trends and evolving capabilities.

 

Ideally, all assets and content creation strategies should be evaluated at least once every six months.

The bottom line

Content and design can create powerful and consistent customer experiences when they work synergistically and are aligned on desired messaging. By bringing a number of creative brains with a variety of backgrounds and experiences to the table, you’ll be able to rethink what’s possible and create something that not only drives initial brand differentiation, but a process for continued improvement and growth that exceeds customers expectations and delivers exceptional value at every step of the journey.