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Strategy

Strategies For Pandemic-Winning Businesses to Maintain Momentum After COVID-19

2020 will go down in history as a year that vastly changed customer behaviors, expectations, and needs for good. And while that was bad for some industries and businesses, others whose products and services were ripe for digital-only and socially distanced environments saw major increases in customer acquisition, engagement, bookings, and overall sentiment.

 

For example:

 

  • Companies like RVshare & Cruise America saw an 846% increase in bookings, as homebound individuals and families sought out adventure and reconnected to nature.
  • Vacation and short-term rentals including AirBnb, VRBO, and AvantStay saw their numbers reportedly triple, and struggled to keep up with the demand.
  • Subscription services experienced immediate growth just weeks into the pandemic, seeing monthly customer acquisitions increase as much as 85%.
  • Grocery stores saw “double digit profits” compared to 2019.
  • The pandemic reshaped the fitness landscape as health and fitness equipment revenue more than doubled from March 2020 to October 2020.

But, as the world returns to some sort of normalcy and consumers begin to venture outside their homes, pandemic-winning businesses are forced to answer the question: What strategies will help sustain recent customer acquisitions and growth? As consumers get tired of doing things they were forced to do during the pandemic, and a resurgence of options become available, pandemic-winning businesses will have to rethink the customer journey and uplevel experiences to avoid their recent success from tapering off.

Business who opt to maintain rather than innovate and improve customer experiences, risk being left behind.

6 Ways Pandemic-Winning Businesses Can Carve a Path Forward

1. Identify Industry Changes & Trends That Will Continue Past the Pandemic

Understand what changed within your industry due to COVID-19, but more importantly, focus on identifying what the staying power of new and emerging trends really are. This will help ensure your business’s time, money, and energy is focused on creating change where it matters most, rather than reactively and wastefully catering to temporary trends that won’t drive long term ROI.

 

For example, according to an analysis conducted by the budgeting app TrueBill for The Washington Post, subscription boxes and services aren’t going anywhere. “Power subscribers” – consumers with 10 or more recurring payments that add up to an average of $145 spent per month – is growing exponentially. In fact, the subscription economy is predicted to grow by $1.5 trillion by 2025, says financial services firm UBS.

 

By understanding the staying power that subscription services have, you may be able to find ways to incorporate unique and convenient subscription-based experiences. Creativity is key. Take for example Tripadvisor. In an attempt to bounce back from hits the travel industry took during COVID-19, they’ve launched a $99 annual program that offers exclusive deals and dedicated service lines to subscribers as a way. Six Washington, D.C. restaurants found a way to play in the subscription economy by joining forces and creating a “supper club” that delivers gourmet meals prepared by different chefs each week to subscribers’ homes.

 

If there’s a will, there’s a way. And there’s a lot of money you may be leaving on the table if you don’t take time to identify trends that are here to stay.

2. Reevaluate Consumer Groups & Update Your Ideal Customer Profile

Consumer groups have inevitably changed, due to COVID-19. Whether it’s just the needs and wants of your existing customers that have evolved, or you find that a completely new customer mix now engages with your products or services, it’s crucial to understand exactly who you’re serving, and how you can create better experiences for them in the future. By gathering and mining audience data, you can uncover new behaviors and update your core personas and customer profiles to inform future customer experience design.

 

For example, the experience and relationship restaurant owners need and want from their produce suppliers changed due to the pandemic. As part of a larger customer journey initiative to better understand everyday business needs and experiences of existing customers, we created and executed a customer survey focused on 1-2 restaurant locations segments for a food distribution company. The intent of the survey was to understand unique attitudes and behaviors that could provide more opportunity to focus on increasing share and loyalty, and to further understand segmentation differences within customer groups. By gathering insights directly from our clients’ customers related to technology and tools, COVID-19 impacts and competition, and perceptions associated with our clients’ existing services, we were able to update attitudinal segmentation within their customer mix and uncover future opportunities for improved experiences.

3. Consider New Customer Behaviors & Usage

With limited options during the pandemic, many customers found new ways to use products and services than originally intended. For example, many rental homes that were typically reserved pre-pandemic for short-term vacations turned into long-term homes away from home. Cars that were previously used to get from point A to point B became safe-havens and temporary escapes for overworked parents. Video communication softwares such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype evolved from connecting business colleagues to hosting virtual game nights, happy hours, and family celebrations.

 

As you mine audience data to uncover new and update existing consumer groups and personas, it’s also important to pay attention to how behaviors or usage shifted during the pandemic. Did customers engage with your products or services in new ways? Were they seeking new results or using your business to complete unprecedented tasks?

 

Use this information to expand the customer experiences you provide by designing, imagining, or inventing new uses for your product or service that provide added value.

 

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

4. Pinpoint ‘Aha!’ Moments Within Your Customer Experience

The “Aha!” moment is when your customers truly “get it.” They understand the value that your product or service provides and realize why they need it – or simply want it – in their lives.

 

Evaluate and pinpoint where “Aha!” moments take place within your current experience by mapping the customer experience using both qualitative and quantitative research methods . Then, using the map, identify ways to either optimize, improve, or manufacture completely new “Aha!” moments to ensure continual value creation and engagement.

 

It’s important that customers perceive value at every stage throughout the customer journey to ensure repeat behavior. Don’t miss opportunities to drive an emotional bond and connection and establish a healthy customer-brand relationship by closing the loop too soon. The experience doesn’t end at the purchase point – the experience you provide creatively continue to drive value far beyond that.

 

Also read: 9 Quantitative Research Methods With Real Client Examples

5. Create New, Innovative, and Added Value For Customers

This is where we bring things full circle, and if you opt to maintain rather than innovate and drive your customer experience further, you’ll get left behind.

 

Through evaluating consumer groups and updating customer profiles, you may find that your business acquired new customers during the pandemic that wouldn’t have considered your product or services in a different time. As they start to return to pre-pandemic norms and habits, how can your businesses ensure you can convert newly acquired customers into repeat customers long-term? Well, using your customer experience map and analyses, look for ways to add value.

 

For example, new customers may not know how to use your product or service fully. If that’s not intuitive, you need to add value in the form of content (think opt-in texts, email nurture strategies, website quizzes and tools) or A.I. assistance to help customers use or leverage your product or services in new ways. By doing this, you can help educate consumers and push them closer to realizing value without selling them anything new.

 

Also, find ways to build community. Now more than ever, people are craving connection and want to support brands whose values align with their own and they can see themselves in. Consider connecting with and reaching new and existing customers by leveraging platforms such as Instagram, and TikTok to start conversations, allow people to attend offline events digitally, provide a look into your business “behind the scenes,” and more. The more authentic and human you can make your community and digital presence, the strong connection and support you’ll forge.

 

Also read: Developing Nurture Strategies That Decrease Time to Value 

6. Help Customers Navigate & Transition Into a Post-Pandemic Landscape

Lastly, be helpful. This is just another version of value, but in this case, it’s selfless. It’s not about acquiring, upselling, or converting. It’s simply about doing what’s right and holding empathy for your customers by extending value beyond the reason people are (or were) forced to use your products or services during the pandemic.

 

Play a part in helping them navigate the bounce back to pre-pandemic life in a way that feels aligned with your brand but puts the wellbeing of consumers at the core.

 

Need help envisioning and implementing strategies to maintain success in a post-COVID world? We can help. Contact us today.

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Value Realization

Defining & Maximizing Value Realization For Customers

But when and where does value realization occur? Well, that depends. Value realization can vary by product or service, and – depending on the priorities and needs of the consumer – can be very subjective.

 

Take, for example, a new pair of Nike running shoes. Value realization doesn’t typically occur at the purchase point within the customer journey. Instead, the customer realizes the true value of the shoes when he or she looks in the mirror and thinks, “Wow, these look great!” Or takes them for that very first run and notices an improvement in comfort and support. Or wears them about town and receives a compliment from a stranger or friend.

 

For CPG products like Coca-Cola, value realization may occur when customers take that first sip to quench thirst or receive a caffeine-boost of energy.

Value realization is the idea that there’s some point within your holistic customer journey when the value of the product or service is fully realized. It’s that realization that can illuminate the path for future and ongoing engagement, retention, and opportunities for upsells. Each business has to find and understand where value occurs for their customers and try to measure the moment by proxy. This unveils opportunities for change and innovation to then bring that moment of value realization further up the funnel.

Value realization isn’t always a metric. Oftentimes, it’s more of a concept. It’s an idea that there’s some point within your holistic customer journey when the value of the product or service is fully realized.

Pinpointing Moments of Value Realization

As with most things, you must start the crusade for quick value realization by going back to the basics and evaluating your business’s offering and delivery method inside and out.

 

More often than not, businesses and brands create products and services with their own goals and ideas top of mind. While this may result in experiences that please internal stakeholders, it isn’t always optimized for the customer or end user that you’re trying to engage and reach. Instead, you need to create a customer experience and evaluate value delivery from the perspective of the intended consumer. And in some cases, you may have to manufacture and intentionally test moments to pinpoint specific opportunities to drive or accelerate value realization.

 

For example, we work with a SaaS company who developed an AI-powered search and discovery platform. Right now, they – like many software companies – provide a compelling free trial that strives to demonstrate value in quick, small ways in order to convert trial users to regular users. While they may be able to leverage data to quantify users’ activities, and track and understand customers, an upgrade or purchase doesn’t actually reflect value realization. In fact, a conversion doesn’t guarantee a user has even had a customer experience that includes that coveted moment of truth, yet.

Instead, to truly gauge opportunities for value realization, they may consider building an interactive tool that comes pre-loaded with several data templates. In doing so, a product developer and potential customer can quickly approximate how the tool might work with their environment and enable them to realize the value right away. Airtable and Asana, for example, do this very well.

 

A proactive approach like this can help eliminate ambiguity associated with value realization and give businesses back the reins, by allowing them to manufacture (and measure and iterate!) a singular moment of truth.

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map Your Customer Experience

Understanding the True Value of a Product or Service For Customers

This is easier said than done. It seems simple – most business leaders and innovators think they know the bottom-line value being offered to consumers – but when in the thick of things, striving to grasp the big-picture and bring it to life, the actual value that’s felt by customers can get lost in the larger dream.

 

Also read: Data Driven Insights Into the Evolving Customer Experience

Instagram is a great case study of this. The now-immensely popular and profitable app was first brought to life in 2009 under the name Burbn by Kentucky whiskey lover and hobbyist coder Kevin Systrom. In Its first life, it functioned as a location-based app (inspired by Foursquare) and allowed users to check-in at places, make plans for future check-ins, earn points for visits, and post pictures of get togethers. The thing was – it had so many features that it was too complicated, and therefore, not all that successful. But it had potential. Systrom analyzed and evaluated how users were engaging with the app over time and then brought in a second programmer – Mike Krieger – to help. By leaning into analytics and mapping user behavior, Systrom and Krieger discovered that the check-in features were a complete flop. No one was using them. They were, however, enthusiastically using the photo-sharing feature. So, with a new sense of clarity, Systrom and Kriefer stripped the app down, studied new potential competitors, and released Burbn 2.0 – an easy photo-sharing app named Instagram. The rest is history.

 

Considering that example – where did value realization occur? Systrom brought an innovative idea to life: He enabled people to check into locations, discover new hot spots, create future plans, and earn points by basically drinking. But while he saw value in all the knick-knacks, users didn’t care. It required too many hoops for them to jump through. What they cared about – where and when they perceived value – was in sharing photos that other friends would like. That simple series of actions ­– the intentional sharing and passive yet instant gratification of acknowledgement back – delivered users an emotional and addictive customer experience. That was the singular moment of truth. And value realization, it seems, lay hidden in a much more simplistic experience than Systrom originally thought.

 

With that being said, how can you and your team identify the moment of truth that delivers value realization for customers? And then bring that further up to reduce the amount of time and effort required to recognize value? Here’s a few ways we help our clients do it: 

  1. Apply quantitative and qualitative lenses to your customer journey to determine where moments of truth may lie – not just to convert users into customers, but to drive repeat purchases, upsells, and lifetime satisfaction and value.
  2. Break down quantitative data to uncover moments of customer churn and identify thresholds that transcend customers into advocates and encourage more engaged, continual use.
  3. Interview and engage customers in conversation, both ones who have disengaged and ones who chose to repeat, to outline differences between the consumer groups and identify moments that formed their perceptions.
  4. Artificially manufacture and design moments of value realization that doesn’t necessarily reflect the materialistic product or service, but more importantly, demonstrates the value. Execute competitive analyses to identify opportunities to accelerate time to value.

Create customer experiences and evaluate value delivery from the perspective of the intended customer or end user.

The Bottom Line

Over the years, consumers have grown more differentiating and discriminating about the value they’re receiving and feel less loyal to brands. That means businesses must not only continually improve products and/or services, but truly optimize value realization to occur earlier in the customer journey to maintain wallet share, grow their consumer base, increase customer engagement, and lead the market.

Categories
Customer Engagement Innovators Series Interviews Value Realization

Innovators Q&A: How Blink Fitness Embraced Digital Transformation During the Pandemic

Can you think of a global event that shook the fitness industry as much as COVID-19 did? With no option to continue business as usual, fitness gyms across the world were forced to contend with digital transformations– and fast – by developing apps, delivering content, and finding new, creative ways to provide value to members that were indefinitely stuck at home. And while some succeeded, for many, the weight of the pandemic was too great, and they were forced to shut their doors.

 

In fact, the IHRSA estimates that the US gym and health club industry lost $20.4 billion in 2020. By May 2020, about 500,000 people in the gym industry had been laid off; and by July 2020, 60% of Americans reportedly planned to cancel gym memberships.

 

On the flip side, brands who invested in and focused on delivering digital-first experiences saw a boom of success. With 74% of Americans reportedly using at least one fitness app during the pandemic, home fitness app downloads saw a 46% increase between quarter one and quarter two of 2020, while companies like Peloton, Beachbody, and Tonal (as well as businesses that produce at-home fitness equipment) reported massive revenue growth.

 

Alas, it was fitness gyms that had formerly relied on in-person experiences and only dabbled or recently entered the digital space that were given an ultimatum: Hurry up and create new experiences that put members’ needs at the core or throw in the towel. One gym that experienced this first-hand is Blink Fitness. With 100+ franchised gyms in 10 different states, Blink Fitness strives to change the narrative – and emotional landscape – often associated with gyms.

“Blink is a motivating space with a staff of mood-lifters. We take pride in challenging fitness industry norms and celebrating every unique body,” their website reads. “It’s what’s on the inside that counts… Blink offers a sparkling clean, spacious design with bright colors, scientifically proven to enhance your workout and elevate your mood.”

 

Sounds cool, right? Well, definitely. Except when you can’t actually access the space.

 

So, as the global pandemic reared its ugly head, Michelle Horowitz – Blink Fitness’s Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing and Communications – was tasked with ensuring that the uplifting, body-positive brand could transcend and traverse new digital demands.

 

To learn how Blink Fitness tackled the challenge, our own Partner Robert Wallace sat down with Michelle for our Innovators Q&A Series to discuss the evolving consumer journey, member-first mentality, data-backed strategy, and the future of the fitness industry.

Q&A with Blink Fitness’s Senior Vice President & Head of Marketing & Communications Michelle Horowitz

Robert Wallace: Hello everyone. My name is Robert Wallace. I’m a partner at we’re a customer experience design company, and I am pleased to an honor to be the host of our fourth installment of the new interview series that we’re putting on called the innovators. I’m really happy to have a conversation today with Michelle Horowitz, which she was named one of Brand Innovators Top 100 Women in Brand Marketing, and she’s a visionary in e-commerce marketing and leader experience in a variety of industries – B2C and B2B. She’s built high performing teams that and [has been] really customer obsessed throughout her whole career in marketing communications. And now she is the Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing and Communication at Blink Fitness, which is a premium and affordable fitness brand that challenges conventional fitness stereotypes. [Michelle is] responsible for leading the brand and digital evolution of the company through innovation and movement.

 

[Michelle], obviously that is a timely industry that you’re in and we’ve all gone through a tough year, and an interesting year. So, first of all, welcome, and thank you so much for taking the time. I just went through [your] standard bio, but I’d love to hear in your words a little bit more about your professional journey. You’ve been through sales and marketing… I’d love to just hear really briefly about your career and your journey and how you landed where you are.

 

Michelle Horowitz: Yeah, for sure. Thanks. Thank you, Robert. I’m super excited to be here and it’s an honor to have this conversation with you. So, thank you for having me. I took a circuitous route to be where I am today and where I am today is completely passionate about the health and wellness industry and obviously the impact that fitness can make. It’s never been more apparent than right now about how important it is for us to stay well. And certainly, you know, it’s not just the physical impact of what we’ve been going through [but] also the mental impact. So, to be with a brand that [lives that] ethos is super exciting.

 

Previous to this, I spent some time in fashion and then retail-specialty area, particularly in lifestyle. So, I’m super proud of the work that I’ve done during that time. And it really was all about customer centricity as we built and developed the Loft brand and expanded beyond the US borders into Mexico and Canada. And then I was part of the team that created the Lou & Grey brand, which was really the first foray from a specialty retail perspective that moved into lifestyle. So, it was a big, bold step that the brand took prior to being acquired, and was part of the growth from a D2C brand into 12 stores. So, that’s been the majority of my CMO experience – in the fashion space – but always with an eye to customer centricity and the impact that a brand can have on its consumer base.

Similar to how people feel about the e-commerce experience, they want [fitness] to be there when they want it to be there.

RW: How would you say you’ve segued that customer and member-first mentality, so to speak, in your new role at Blink?

 

MH: Yeah, it’s interesting. I recently took responsibility of the customer service center, as well. So, I think it really speaks to a marketer’s responsibility of the customer journey and thinking about it from the moment of acquisition through to retention and then, obviously, loyalty. So, to put the consumer at the center of it all, from identifying the issues that come through customer service and then being able to be really thoughtful about how we treat our customers and how we have that sort of member-first mentality. But I would say that, stepping back – as we hopefully are through that gateway of the end of the pandemic – that we really pivoted quite quickly at the beginning of the experience, which is more than a year ago, where we had to close down the business and had to really think about how important it was for not only our employees, but also our consumer base to keep them actively engaged and to put their health and wellness first.

 

So, we were very fortunate that we actually have an app – a fantastic app – that was created in 2019, that has three functional areas. One is obviously about the capability to have access to classes, where we partner with a lot of brands, but also create our own content. And then we have nutrition and rejuvenation. So, to be able to sort of engage fully behind that and share it with the community and really open it up – because at the time, it was one membership that had access – we opened it up to everybody. And then, as an engagement vehicle, we actually worked very closely with our personal trainers to create our own content. We began to host live stream content every day that really allowed people to [make] their health and wellness [a priority] as we transitioned to working at home.

 

That was another example of how we did it. And now, as we come out of this pandemic, or we’re traveling through hopefully the tail end of it… As we reopened the gyms, we actually, again, used [and are using] the app as a vehicle to help people feel more comfortable coming back to the gym. And, obviously, health and wellness was the priority for our employees, our communities, and the members that we serve by following all of the CDC guidelines, as well as local guidelines. But, in addition to that, we wanted to use the as a vehicle to help make it easier for everybody. We had that frictionless entrance where they didn’t have to touch or engage with anything. They could use their app. But, in advance of even doing that, they could still reserve their space in the gym, [and] look at capacity.

 

And if they’re not ready to come back to the gym, which some people are not yet ready… They can actually currently take personal training classes through the app. So, we’re constantly trying to think about the consumer experience. And, I think, a natural evolution of this is: “How are we going to continue to marry the digital world with the in-gym experience?” Which I think, until we find stasis, is definitely an “and,” I would imagine that people sort of live in both of those worlds.

RW: It’s interesting because it sounds to me that it boils down to – or what has happened – is it’s almost what does Blink Fitness really stand for? Meaning what businesses is it really in? And the delivery mechanism has changed. So, it has forced you to think about, “Oh, we’re about accessibility and democratization of really high-end health and wellness and fitness. And that used to be delivered through the gym, and now, when the phone goes away – at least partially goes away or has fundamentally changed – how else are we going to fulfill our brand promise while they can’t get to that particular delivery vehicle?” And it’s really interesting how you’ve thought about that and broadened your perspective. The only way you can do that is by putting [the] customer first.

 

MH: I think, even as people sort of flex and figure out what it all looks like, the nice thing about it is, if you [are] coming into the gym and [are] enjoying – whether it’s the weights or the elliptical or whatever the machines are that you choose, or even the stretch area – you might not have time, or you might be doing it in-between appointments or whatever. [But] you can always go home and continue that journey, whether it’s doing a yoga class or a meditation class or more stretching from home. So, I think, similar to how people feel about the e-commerce experience, they want it to be there when they want it to be there. And the app is definitely a vehicle that gives our members what they’re looking for.

 

RW: That’s fascinating, too. The idea of a 360-degree brand is one that that has come up. It came up in my footwear experience, and you probably saw too, where– and I’m dating myself here – but there was a time when you started selling online or selling catalogue or whatever channel is new, there was this fear that you would be cannibalizing your existing channel. And that never happened because it really just made it a 360-degree brand. I can buy whatever it is I want to buy whenever and however I want. I can do it on my phone. I can do it online. I can order through the catalog, if you still want to do that, or I can go into the store. So, it’s fascinating that fitness is going through that same thing.

 

MH: Yeah. And interesting, too. I remember from my retail days, it’s like that haptic social community feeling that you get when you’re walking through a retail store or you might have the urge or that window of time that you’re able to do it at home through the digital experience. I think there [are] some similarities there, for sure.

When you look at the true customer journey, that's not a marketing thing. That's not a product thing. That's not an operations thing... It's everything. The customer – or the member, in your case – doesn't much care what departments or silos exist.

RW: There’s an emotional connection that you touch on, in some cases from actually shopping, but certainly I think a lot of gyms – you have an emotional connection. How do you cultivate that? First of all, how do you think about cultivating connections with your members, but [also], how have you thought about how that has changed online or how you had to evolve that?

 

MH: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. It’s a very community-focused brand, right? When we come into the community, we are committed to the community and the local members. And we think a lot about local. When we first come in [to set] up the gym, we partner with a lot of nonprofits. We work very closely with local government to really engage and let them know that we’re here and we want them to come in and be part of that community. We have – what we call the people that work in the gym – we call them “Mood Lifters,” and they really set the tone and the feeling for coming into the gym.

 

We want people to come in and feel like they’re part of something… The music sets the tone and the friendliness of the Mood Lifters and the personal trainers really create that local community touch point. And often people obviously establish relationships, whether it’s with their trainers, their Mood Lifters, or their local managers. So that really, in and of itself, was really the ethos of the brand that was built. And when we went through COVID and started to create those live streams, we really began to allow the personal trainers – when they taught the daily classes – [to let] their personalities, their excitement for their brand, and for health and wellness, really shine through. And we actually included the capability for people to ask questions and engage, whether it was during the workout or after the workout, so we could really create that continuity.

 

Obviously, in the digital world, it becomes a little bit more difficult, but in the same way that we want to help people curate or navigate their fitness IQ, we see that as a lot of potential in the digital world to sort of [help] continue people on their journeys in the digital world. So, I think part of it is the content that we provide on the app by curating from the nutritional, from the rejuvenation, and then from the classes. And the partners that we’ve chosen, whether it’s Daily Burn or SworkIt or Aaptiv, it’s been very thought through. Of course, there’s tons of opportunity to continue to personalize that experience and really think of that journey. But we look at one as being an extension of the other.

 

RW: Yeah, fascinating. When I think about personalization, I invariably get to the data issue or the data situation. How are you thinking about data? The collection of data? We may soon be in a cookieless world… How does Blink think about this? How do you think about it?… Tell us a little bit more about the personalized experience that you touched on.

MH: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And, you know, obviously from a brand perspective, it’s a member-first mentality, right? So, you know, and it’s a value exchange, by understanding more particularly, [it] becomes a lot easier obviously in the digital world – through the app – to understand what content appeals to people, where their interests lie, and we can begin to really curate that.

 

So, for us, it’s all about making the experience [and] constantly evolving the experience to make it better: Being really thoughtful in the data-sense from a marketing perspective – obviously, in addition to focusing on the member experience – we have to be very attuned to the applicable laws, legislations, and I think an ever-changing landscape.

 

Also read: How Johnson & Johnson Is Pairing Data With Creativity to Connect With Customers Like Never Before

 

At the beginning of the week, I was listening to Kara Swisher’s podcast “Sway” from the New York Times and she was interviewing Tim Cook. Tim believes that privacy is at the forefront of what things are going to be about. And certainly, from Apple’s perspective, you know, they’re introducing the ATT – the ability for people to choose their privacy settings. So, I think it’s still an interesting time. There are many different things happening at many different levels, from the policy perspective – around section 230 – and, you know, there are some… Amy Klobuchar is very involved with making refinements [to] – I think she’s calling it the Safe Tech Act. You have Virginia announcing that they’re going to be doing very similar [things] to what California did with the CCPA. That they’ve now adopted their version of that. And, I think, from what I heard, there’s another eight states following suit.

 

So, a brand has a responsibility to align with and be aware of that. And then, in addition to that, you also have the platforms, right? Like, Facebook has a lot of responses to Apple and there’s a lot of activity. I look – from a marketing perspective – the importance of staying on top of it and putting member privacy at the forefront is what we are looking at. And staying in tune, too. But there’s, there’s so much going on from a marketing perspective, we work very much in line with our legal department and technology [teams] to make [sure] everything aligns. So, needless to say, I guess there’s a lot going on, Robert.

RW: The ground is shifting, too. I mean, what you just spoke about is going to be different maybe even by Monday. Every day you see that there’s new legislation, or just new technology, and how companies – all of them – are reacting to it. To me, the brands that at least make it, first and foremost, “Hey, we’re paying attention. And we’re doing our best to put you – the member – first.” That starts to build enough of a trust factor that, “Hey, we may not keep up with every single thing, but we’re trying and your first, so you – the member – are first,” I think that’s critically important for most brands to think about, because it’s not necessarily possible to keep pace with everything.

 

MH: Yeah. But I think it’s our responsibility to, as brands, to do that. But I think it also speaks to, you know, the agility and the cross-functional partnership that takes place now, certainly through this time… We’re in it together and navigating through it.

 

RW: So, for sure. When you look at the true customer journey, that’s not a marketing thing. That’s not a product thing. That’s not an operations thing. It’s all of those things – [including] service. It’s everything. The customer – or the member in your case – doesn’t much care what departments or silos exist.

 

MH: One hundred percent. I love that you say that. I mean, we work so closely together – the Head of Operations – we all work so closely together to create this member-first experience and we’re, like you said, it’s an evolution. Simon Sinek talks about “The Infinite Game“. It’s this constant [goal of] doing it better and putting the member first.

 

Also read How to Holistically Map Your Customer Experiences

 

RW: I think organizations are being forced, especially during COVID – because [the] customer became front and center, whether you thought about it or not – and it forced a lot of companies to think about, “How are our departments interacting with one another? And how are those interactions even touching the customer? How do we need to maybe be more agile?”

Our North Star really is thinking about the member first and that member experience.

MH: Yes, I love that you said that. I was just going to say, I think these keywords came out of the pandemic, right? Like, the acceleration of behavior or technology, resiliency, agility. And, obviously, from a leadership perspective, empathy is at the, at the cornerstone, which I think has only made us better and stronger as individuals and teams. So, I agree with you. I think those are some of the keywords that are definitely coming out of this moment in time.

 

RW: Ultimately, that’s a good thing. So, there’s some silver linings. I think it’s all good. So, we’re almost at time, but if you cast your vision forward a little bit, what do you see in terms of the fitness industry, or technology, or any trends, or any combination of the three? What do you see out there in the market? Where do you see things going?

 

MH: Yeah, I think – just touching back on what we started talking about – I really do believe it’s this constant continuation of the member experience. And what does it mean to offer that member experience? From a technology point of view, from a people point of view. Bringing that all together and continuing to deliver that. And, I think, it’s about understanding this moment of stasis: When, you know, the technology and the digital world and the four walls live together. What does that look like? So, I feel like we’re on a journey that was accelerated by COVID, for sure. I don’t think we’re the only industry. Obviously, there’s many that we can point to that have been [impacted by] this acceleration. But, again, a lot of the behaviors that you’re talking about, and that we’ve touched on – the agility, the resiliency, the cross-functional partnership – will be key in this experience. But I think our North Star really is thinking about the member first and that member experience.

 

Also read: Trends Driving CX Design In the Hospitality Industry: Q&A with Marriott International’s Christine Kettmer

 

RW: Yeah. Awesome. Well, I I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few conversations with you. Each one is awesome, and each one, the time sneaks up on us. We could keep on going for a while. But I do want to thank you, again, for taking the time. This has been wonderful. I know our audience is going to appreciate it and learn a lot from it. Is there a URL for Blink Fitness that [people] should check out?

MH: [Yeah], it’s just BlinkFitness.com. Right now, we actually are allowing people to download the app for 60 days trials, no matter where they live. So, I welcome anybody that would be interested. Just go to our website and download the app, or to the app store and download it that way.

 

RH: Excellent. Everyone go do that, go download [the app].

 

MH: Stay healthy, stay well, right?

 

RH: Yeah. Everyone: Stay fit and stay well. That’s exactly right. This will help you do that. So, I’ll do that when I hang up here. But thanks again. It’s really been a lot of fun.

 

MH: I look forward to continuing the conversation. Thank you so much.

Want to be featured in our Innovators Series? Reach out to us now!

Categories
Strategy

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

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

 

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

 

Enter: Design studios.

What Are Design Studios & Who Are They Right For?

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

 

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

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

7 Ways Design Studios Help Teams

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

 

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

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

 

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

How to Host a Design Studio

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

 

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

Step 1: Assign roles & make Design Studio decisions

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

 

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

 

The timekeeper does just that – keeps time.

 

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

 

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

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

Step 2: Explain the Rules

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

 

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

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

 

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

Step three: Start sketching

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

 

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

 

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

Step four: Present ideas

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

 

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

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

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

Step five: Allow dot voting

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

 

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

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

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

Step 6: Start defining and project planning

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

 

 

Also read: How to Holistically Map the Entire Customer Journey

The Bottom Line:

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

 

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

Categories
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 your 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 customer’s 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
News This Week in CX

This Week in CX: 3 Companies Launch New “Unparalleled” Experiences Aimed at Improving Common Life Events

There are three things most humans can likely agree they’re fond of: Money, parties, and food. Ways in which experiences can be designed and delivered around each are plentiful. But three companies in particular are making big moves that all have one thing in common: They’re attempting to reinvent common (and sometimes mundane) life experiences in a way that encourages people to weave them into the everyday fabric of their lives.

 

Here are the biggest business, brand and tech developments that occurred this past week and will most certainly impact how we design and deliver the customer experiences of tomorrow.

New Customer Experience Involves Free Money

 A new FinTech startup called Millions – whose business model and services haven’t been fully unveiled yet but relate to reinventing the credit card – is giving investor money (read: millions of dollars) away via Twitter and their app. The concept is said to tease a new business model that will allow brands to be more involved with customer and fan giveaways.

 

How does it work? Well, it’s actually pretty straightforward. Money seekers follow Millions on Twitter (since starting the account in July 2020, they’ve gained 22.2k followers) and just keep an eye out for opportunities. Millions regularly rewards small dollar amounts – usually $100 – to people who are tagged in comments or retweet a post, but now they’re upping the ante. This month, they’re hosting weekly drawings and giving $1 million to users who win number-guessing games. All people have to do to be eligible is: One: Follow Millions on Twitter; Two: download and create an app account; and Three: Guess a sequence of six numbers. That’s it. Whoever’s numbers match the weekly draw, wins big. It’s basically a digital lotto.

The “anonymous founders” (who aren’t so anonymous – a few Google searches revealed Kieran & Rory O’Reilly, the founders of gifs.com, as the brains behind the new company) claim it’s a different approach to paying for customer acquisition. Instead of forking money over to Facebook, Instagram, Apple, or Google to find customers for them, they’re using that same budget to attract fans directly by, well, giving it all away. And they hope the initial fun, which one investor called an “unparalleled, engaging customer experience,” will result in a loyal customer base eager to support the company’s future launch.

 

While details are still underwraps, another investor, Allbirds co-founder and CEO Joey Zwillinger went on record explaining his monetary support for what Millions is building, and revealed some clues regarding what’s ahead. “This company is creating delight from what would otherwise be the mundane, everyday necessity of swiping a credit card,” he said. “We invested in Millions because they will spark joy in people’s lives, and think the traditional points model of accumulating hard-to-use airline and hotel points is tired, and ripe for reinvention.”

 

But is this customer acquisition ploy sustainable, and will it really create authentic brand affinity and customer engagement? Or will it just rack up the brand’s Twitter following and create synthetic app engagement with people who are just looking for some extra dough?

 

“The strategy is interesting,” says Tallwave’s Director of Performance Marketing Dallas McLaughlin. “But I think people are overthinking it by trying to understand the product, the game, the acquisition costs, etc. Let’s not outsmart ourselves here.”

The Millions "game” is just a facade that makes consumers feel comfortable entering a ”cash for data marketplace.”

As Dallas put it, Millions simply came up with a way to incentivize people to willfully hand over their demographic and mobile device data. That’s all it is.

 

“Each time someone follows them on Twitter they are going to receive their name, age, gender, income, interests, accounts they follow, etc. Millions then hands the follower cash for this information. Exchanging consumer data for Millions’ cash. Then, when they download their app – where the game actually takes place so it’s a requirement – the consumer is willfully accepting the terms of service which in all likelihood will include handing over the majority of the mobile device data which will include social logins, geolocation, app usage, apps installed (think banking, insurance, shopping) and more.”

 

Essentially, the Millions “game” is just a facade that makes consumers feel comfortable entering a ”cash for data marketplace.” Yes, that is a phrase that Dallas made up.

 

“Mobile device data is the new gold and the gold rush is on. Millions figured out that consumer privacy concerns go out the window as soon as something is in it for the consumer and they did it in a way that is fun for the consumer. It’s a win-win for all. Until the story breaks a month from now about how they are using the data.”

 

Also read: How Tallwave Optimized Paid Media Strategies For a 40,000% Increase in Leads

 

Well, that’s always the caveat with datat: Do consumers actually have privacy and can brands truly cultivate feelings of trust? Only time will tell for Millions.

Will You Be My… Pop-Up Drive-In Date?

Drive-in movies are getting a thematic makeover. FunFlicks announced a new initiative to provide pop-up drive-in events as alternative solutions for high school dances (think proms, formals, homecomings, etc.) and graduations. Calling it the “natural next step in helping the community move forward together and begin to heal,” the events offer safe ways for people to celebrate big moments and create memories together, in a time when we can’t physically be too close together.

It’s a shining example of how a company – perhaps less relevant in our regular lives than say, 70 years ago – can employ creativity and empathy to launch a marketing strategy that does more than build awareness and rely on advertising dollars. Instead, FunFlicks’s new offering finds a modern and unique way to once again become a fabric of old and new customer’s lives.

 

“For years we have provided pop-up drive-in movie theatre rentals for all kinds of events and had great success,” share a company spokesperson for FunFlicks. “In the beginning of COVID-19, we began a robust campaign to give back and help support the community by providing free downloadable movies to cope with lockdown, as well as donating important relief supplies… I strongly believe that it is time for us to begin using drive-in movie theaters in a way that can return positivity and some type of normalcy to the community.”

 

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

 

While we can’t see this being a permanent thing – it’s safe to assume that most people would prefer in-person dances and graduation ceremonies bounce back in a post-pandemic world – it may create long-lasting customer appreciation and support amongst FanFlicks fans who are provided with a safe space to relax and connect during a most difficult year. Even more, it may change consumer perspective and attitude towards drive-in movie nights, for good.

In the Future, People Will Decorate Their Porches With Mini-Fridges

Walmart announced a new plan to pilot “smart boxes” this spring. Essentially front porch mini-fridges with compartments for various items depending on their temperature needs, the smart boxes are controlled via a phone app and aim to “ease the pitfalls” of grocery deliveries.

HomeValet Instagram reveals picture of smart box

The smart box manufacturer, HomeValet, says it will allow shoppers to continue conveniently grocery shopping online but won’t require they be at home for the delivery – the food will stay fresh and smart box owners will have full control over when the box is locked (or unlocked) while on the go.

 

And while Jack Simms, the co-founder and COO of HomeValet, says the smart boxes can hold up to seven or eight bags of groceries, he foresees consumers using them in a more agile, as-needed way.

 

“We think there will be a big market for auto-replenishing perishables”, he told MediaPost. “How nice would it be to have milk and eggs delivered without even having to order them? And instead of buying a week’s worth of meat at once, having it take up space in the fridge and worrying about cooking it by the sell-by date, people can get it delivered more often, maybe daily. So, that will improve the quality and freshness of food.”

 

The pilot program is in partnership with Walmart, but HomeValet has consumers at its core.

 

“This will be consumer-owned and brand-agnostic, Simms explained. “People won’t want it if it’s connected to just one store. It works for deliveries from grocery stores, the butcher, wine deliveries. Even if the vendor doesn’t have the technology, customers can leave the box open and lock it via the app once the delivery has been made.”

 

Also read: How to Brainstorm For Innovation

HomeValet announces Walmart pilot program

While this new technology certainly does improve convenience of home grocery delivery, the Tallwave team wasn’t sold on its necessity, with 70.8% of those surveyed saying they wouldn’t buy the product.

Tallwave survey regarding smart boxes

“Most of the existing food distributors use dry ice to keep content at the appropriate temperatures. Fridges cost extra electricity and most likely space. It could be helpful for people that are not working from home, but it’s hard for me to relate to the use case. I think its an interesting product concept for the problem, but the fridge is not the solution in my opinion,” said one Tallwaver who took the survey.

 

“Sounds awesome and highly convenient if the price is right and it’s not an eyesore for my porch,” said another Tallwaver. “The HOA may nix it.”

 

Meanwhile, a potential problem was also brought to light.

 

“I say ‘Yes!’, but my front door area does not actually have space for this type of unit to be placed, so the practicality of it is limited. What about people who live in apartments or smaller houses? The convenience aspect of this is nice, but not necessarily a game-changer, in my opinion. I like the idea of eliminating waste from grocery deliveries in lieu of having a place to put it in front of my home, but there’s still the question of resource use, and the impact production of these units will have on the environment, as opposed to paper bags. I would love for retailers to find more innovative ways of continuing the home delivery services while also looking for ways to mitigate the waste associated with them.”

 

Price was also a contentious issue. Nearly 50% of responders said they’d be willing to pay between $150-$200 for the product, The other surveyed ranged between $0-$150. Zero responders said they’d be willing to pay over $200. The price of the smart box units is currently unknown.

Smart Box survey regarding price

While we didn’t get an overly enthusiastic reaction to the new smart box technology from our Tallwave Team, people originally thought the Edison light bulb and telephone wouldn’t catch on, either. And look at where they are now.

 

Either way, we hope HomeValet and Walmart use the pilot program to dig into consumer concerns, sentiment, and core needs and address concerns or experience gaps before pushing the product to market. 

Would you purchase a smart fridge? Weigh in and tell us why or why not in the comments below.

Categories
News This Week in CX

This Week in CX: 3 Big Healthcare Tech Companies & Providers Announce Future CX Plans

The healthcare industry was always going to need to integrate and provide more personalized digital-first experiences for patients. The 2020 pandemic just sped up that demand.

 

Patient experiences in healthcare – and how to improve them – is something we talk about a lot. Whether with prospects, our current healthcare clients or internal teammates, we’re always hypothesizing, testing, and implementing new data-driven strategies designed to solve the acquisition, engagement, and retention challenges that many organizations are facing. These solutions always have one theme in common: They’re developed with humans at the core and with heart.

 

This week, a number of companies dedicated to developing technologies and holistic strategies that streamline healthcare experiences and improve patient engagement made announcements that will help organizations get one step closer to delivering truly personalized CX. No matter your CX speciality, these stories serve to showcase the ways in which companies are getting creative with innovative technologies and may provide some much-needed inspiration into CX takeaways for businesses small and large.

 

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.

 

HIPPA Just Gave a New Telehealth Video Feedback & Engagement Platform the Green Light

 

Twenty-first century technology is so cool. A new “video feedback and engagement platform” designed for healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies fits that bill. Medallia, Inc., a SaaS company that develops technologies for customer experience management, is getting ready to change how healthcare needs are heard and understood with their newest product, Medallia LivingLens.

It all comes down to making patients feel seen, heard, understood, and authentically cared for.

The video solution – which achieved HIPPA compliance this past week – gathers real-time customer and employee sentiment (feelings, perceptions or attitudes that arise during experiences) during telehealth sessions. Using proprietary AI technology, the solution “captures six times more information with video feedback than tradition, open-ended text based solutions, including nonverbal communication, such as body language.” This results in action-based insights that enable practitioners to predict and overcome barriers associated with providing optimal care and exceptional telehealth experiences.

 

One company currently using the solution, Just Worldwide, says the Medallia LivingLens allows them to analyze patient “video diaries,” understand how patients feel, and uncover what they wish their caregivers knew. “We use it to get the emotional impact of a patient,” explained Sally Udayakumar, Research Manager at Just Worldwide.

 

This is going to open up a whole new world of care that practitioners are able to provide to patients – including preventative care.

 

“Organizations and practitioners can only truly be lifelong partners if they are emphasizing and providing preventive care to patients,” says Tallwave Product Designer Chelsey Gloetzner. “Those who are proactively providing preventative and whole-person care will naturally improve patient engagement in-between sick visits.”

 

Also read: Innovators Q&A: How Avidon Is Solving the Patient Engagement Problem In Healthcare

It all comes down to making patients feel seen, heard, understood, and authentically cared for. Previously, practitioners could only know what patients verbally told them or they could physically observe. Now, Medallia LivingLens allows them to dig so much deeper, and provide a level of care that they’ve never been able to before. And it will only contribute to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

 

“Patients that know and believe you have their best interest in mind will more willingly partner and trust healthcare providers long term,” says Chelsey.

 

But will this technology – and telehealth appointments – still persist as the pandemic chapter comes to a close? You can count on it.

 

“Many patients who have become comfortable with telehealth will still prefer this type of appointment in a post-COVID world,” predicts Chelsey. “More doctors are experiencing the benefits of taking these types of appointments as well. In the future, it is feasible that telehealth will not lose its demand.”

 

That doesn’t mean all telehealth challenges are resolved. In fact, there’s one outstanding problem that we’re currently helping clients solve for: The need for increased education to help onboard older generations.

 

“It is a unique challenge because those who would greatly benefit from telehealth appointments due to age, physical limitation or challenges finding transportation to appointments, tend to have the most difficult time utilizing the technology,” Chelsey says. “Without the proper introduction and training for this technology, a large demographic of potential users will not be able to benefit from telehealth appointments. Putting walkthroughs or training within the technology itself will not meet the needs of those who must learn how to utilize this type of technology and the devices they would use it on.”

 

So, once you know how to connect with your practitioners via the internet, you can bet that computer or mobile phone lens is allowing them to peer right into your soul.

Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot Migrates to the Azure Platform

 

If you haven’t noticed, you’re surrounded by robots.

 

Internet bots, that is (think chatbots, Alex, Siri – you get it). And if healthcare organizations weren’t using them before, you can bet they’ll be embedding them into their customer experiences soon.

 

Microsoft announced their plans to migrate their Healthcare Bot to the Azure platform, enabling healthcare developers to customize bots for both clinical and/or operational uses and build new conversational tools. Additionally, organizations will be able to use the new Azure Health Bot as virtual health assistants, ensure compliance requirements related to privacy and security mechanisms, and merge electronic medical records into touchpoints to drive more personalized, holistic experiences.

 

“It’s really great to see healthcare companies leveraging and investing in technology to remove barriers and friction from the customer experience,” says our Senior Product Designer Alyssa Hayes. “Healthcare on its own can be notoriously complicated and stressful. Even the routine stuff, especially when you toss in some unexpected illnesses or accidents, can be a burden to navigate. Using technology to naturally provide personalized care – while delivering an experience that’s more approachable and predictable – will help put patients at ease and enable them to understand what they need to do to achieve better health. It gives them one less thing to worry about.”

 

That’s something everyone could use a little more of, these days.

 

Also read: Real People Tell Us What They Want From Healthcare In 2021

"This type of bot technology is providing great opportunities for healthcare practitioners and organizations to build trust and provide care that is truly valuable."

“There’s nothing more personal than your own health,” says Alyssa. “This type of bot technology is providing great opportunities for healthcare practitioners and organizations to build trust and provide care that is truly valuable.”

 

Our Chief Operations Office Ed Borromeo is also on the bot train. “It’s great to see this technology advance,” he says. “It provides so many opportunities to improve experiences within the healthcare space, overall – for both patient and healthcare workers.”

 

And the benefits aren’t exclusive to the healthcare industry. “We see increasing use of this class of innovation in a lot of other verticals: Banking, travel, even HR. Bots have a lot of utility and, frankly, they’re super cool. Beyond efficiencies, those who can seamlessly transition a bot user experience to, say, a human-to-human user experience with no clunkiness will be winners in the CX space.”

 

Note for all businesses out there: If your customers already explain their problems to bots, don’t make them repeat it when connected to human representatives. Make the changeover from robot to representative as smooth as a cut from a scalpel.

Walgreens Taps Microsoft & Adobe to Drive New Personalized Experiences For Shoppers

Walgreens is doing big things.

 

On the heels of an 18 month partnership with Microsoft, in which the two companies worked together to modernize technology and move their health-related operations to the cloud, Walgreens announced a second phase this past week – one that brings Adobe into the powerful fold to help craft next-level experiences and improve engagement with the store’s customers, both in-store and online.

 

By partnering Walgreen’s global customer data with Microsoft’s cloud-based data platforms and Adobe’s Customer Experience Management solutions, the trio will design holistic CX strategies that connect pharmacy, immunization, and retail interactions.

"Having a personalized experience like this can help customers feel like their time and business matters.”

One example of this is what they’re calling “individually tailored” prescription experiences: Today, customers are contacted numerous ways – by text message, email, phone call – when prescription refills are ready. In the near future, instead of being bombarded through multiple channels, none of which drive a valuable experience, they’ll receive an email that not only reminds them about the refill, but provides a “landing page” filled with information that encomapsses dosage, prices and other educational resources.

 

And since so much of a great customer experience is saving customers time, shoppers will also receive alerts that refills are available when inside Walgreen stores, so they don’t have to make a second trip later.

 

“Customers want to have your undivided attention,” says Alejandra Guillen, a Tallwave Content Specialist. “They want to feel like they matter and like businesses actually care about them. Having a personalized experience like this can help customers feel like their time and business matters.”

 

And Walgreens’ goal to connect their in-store and online experiences are key to sustaining customer affinity and loyalty.

 

“Before, in-store purchases were the gold standard,” explains Alejandra. “Now, especially with the pandemic, online shopping is becoming crucial. While people will always make in-store purchases, online shopping will continue to thrive even after the pandemic for convenience.”

One brand doing this well? According to Alejandra, Target.

 

“The Target app remembers your in-store purchases and combines them with your in-app purchases to deliver personalized deals and reminders to buy goods you have purchased in the past. This method is great for both an excellent customer experience and boosting a company’s profits.”

 

And last, but certainly not least, Walgreens’ new strategy to educate shoppers when reminding them about prescriptions will increase the bond and attachments customers have with them.

 

“Customers want to know what they’re buying and what they’re putting in their bodies. When it comes to prescriptions, no one is reading the long pamphlets that come with medications,” says Alejandra. “Formatting this crucial information into easy-to-understand landing page content will help customers build and establish longtime trust with Walgreens.”

 

Anyone else switching their regular pharmacy to Walgreens?

Categories
Innovators Series

Innovators Q&A: How Avidon Is Solving the Patient Engagement Problem In Healthcare

Meet Avidon Health, the behavior change solution that’s solving the engagement problem in healthcare for good.

 

Born in 2020 after the merger of MedPro Wellness and SelfHelpWorks, Avidon Health enables Healthcare organizations across the country to touch their patients’ lives and inspire long-lasting change. By leaning into cognitive behavior training and technologies that advance human connections, they launched a platform called Engagement RX™. This platform not only enables providers, hospitals and telehealth practitioners to increase patient engagement, but also guide their patients to optimal health by focusing holistically on the individual, rather than just their conditions.

 

In this week’s episode of Tallwave’s Innovator Series, our Partner Robert Wallace talks to Clark Lagemann, the co-CEO of Avidon Health who is responsible for spearheading the strategic direction and implementation of Engagement Rx™. They discuss Clark’s journey from sales and marketing to entrepreneurship, the “aha” moment that inspired Avidon Health’s newly-defined purposes, the true definition of innovation in the modern digital age, and how Clark’s personal and professional experiences – including being a three-time Ironman athlete – has influenced his business mindset and approach.

Q&A with Avidon Co-CEO, Clark Lagemann

Robert Wallace: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us today, Clark! You’ve had a pretty interesting and inspiring professional journey so why don’t we start at the beginning… In your Linkedin profile, [I love that] you say, “I climbed the corporate ladder and then jumped off into an entrepreneurial world.” Tell us more about how you made that leap from marketing and sales into entrepreneurship.

 

Clark Lagemann: You’ve probably heard the story many times among entrepreneurs. I wasn’t that great in school. I didn’t know what I was going to do but I graduated college and thought, “Well, now what?” I lived close to New York City so the idea to go onto Wall Street or in finance was prominent amongst most of my fellow graduates and friends, but I was someone that could tell a pretty good story, so I decided to go a different path [and] into sales. I said “I’ll go a couple years here and just figure it out and come back and do something else.”

There are [an] infinite number of problems to solve. There’s no shortage of challenges if you think about how much we spend from a GDP perspective on healthcare. How the aging population is being addressed and treated...

So, I started getting into sales, interacting with people, really learning where problems [were], and leveraging a set of solutions that enabled us to solve problems they had for their business. I spent a couple years at a company called ADP, a payroll company, arguably one of the best entry level sales positions and training you can go through. I really had a strong interest in healthcare and transitioned into GlaxoSmithKline. [I] helped that company launch a variety of pharmacologic agents, and then went into the medical device world, where I was working directly with physicians and patients to impact their lives in a very meaningful way. On that journey – let’s just call it 10 years or so – I saw a lot of inefficiencies or difficulties or challenges [that] weren’t being solved…

 

I liked sales because it helped problems get fixed by solutions. In many cases, you’d have a bag you [could] pull out and say, “Here’s a solution that fits for you, Robert…” “Here’s a solution that fits for you, Clark….” But, if you don’t see the solution ever being built, you have to say, “I don’t have a solution for that.” Or you can say, “I’m going to build it myself.” So, I decided to build it myself.

 

RW: I’ve seen a fair amount of entrepreneurs throughout my career and they’re typically either great sales people or great product people. Sometimes, they’re both. Sometimes the best ones are able to – no matter where they started – be that translation layer between here and what the market needs and [then] translate that into what people want and will pay for. What challenges and lessons would you say, as you built your own company, especially in healthcare, were primary lessons that [you learned]?

 

CL: There are [an] infinite number of problems to solve. There’s no shortage of challenges if you think about how much we spend from a GDP perspective on healthcare. How the aging population is being addressed and treated. I would say there’s no limitation to where you can go and solve something, but ultimately it comes down to: Can you solve it quick enough with the budget you have?

 

Many people have this idea that they want to have the beautiful house, corner lot, multiple acres of land, in-ground pool, but they have the budget for none of that. So, how do you eventually earn and get the right to build that house [that] you’ve always dreamed of? It’s by solving micro-problems that ultimately become macro-solutions, and that can be deployed across large scale populations.

RW: How would you articulate the biggest problem that is specifically in healthcare today?

 

CL: [That goes back to] my “Aha!” moment, and where we changed the direction of our business in a very meaningful way.

 

Forever, in my origin story – in starting my own business – I was in an operating room in a very prominent New York city hospital system and I was helping a surgeon do a case. So, basically, surgery. The person we were doing this case on was there only because they weren’t taking care of themselves. My [“Aha”] moment [occurred one day as I was] sitting in the OR – wearing my scrubs, wearing my mask, watching this person through this procedure – and [thinking], “I can’t believe he didn’t just do X, Y and Z, and if he did X, Y and Z, he wouldn’t be here today.” I became so frustrated that people weren’t treating the health and wellness of themselves… I saw that there was this huge opportunity to flip it. To say, “Let’s help these people get healthier.”

 

That was kind of my origin story, where I said, “I’m going to build a business to help these people get healthier.” So, six plus years into running the business – this happened about a year ago, prior to COVID; prior to this incredible change and shift of landscape – I had [that] “Aha!” moment [and] realized, this whole time, I was trying to fix people and help them get healthier. But that’s a byproduct of what we’re really solving, which is: How do you get someone engaged around health? How do you get someone to enroll, to participate, and to complete a set of activities that will change either their health or their life? So, all of our attention went into solving that problem of engagement.

 

That is the problem that we think is the biggest in healthcare, today.

I was trying to fix people and help them get healthier. But that’s a byproduct of what we’re really solving, which is: How do you get someone engaged around health?

RW: That’s well said. A lot of people just have those “Aha!” moments in their everyday lives. Those solutions are sitting out there. It just takes the right people, at the right time to put them together… Tell us about Avidon Health. The company merged two smaller companies in the past year and a half… What you guys are doing and how?

 

CL: Our belief is [that] healthcare is driven through human connection, but the problem with human connection is that it’s very expensive. In a perfect world, I’d have a doctor, a nutritionist, [and]a personal trainer living with me and telling me what I should and shouldn’t eat, how to workout, making sure I get my vaccinations and take my vitamins, but that’s completely unscalable, and not realistic for most normal people…

 

We spent five [to] six years doing health coaching, so, one-on-one interactions with people all across the country and identified certain trends we recognized that people need to work with. We sought out a digital solution company based on the West Coast that had an incredible cognitive behavioral training process and video courses to support a coaching methodology. We said, “One plus one probably doesn’t equal two, but one plus one equals three.”

 

It took those two pieces: [Being] human-centered and coach-driven, and layering in enablement technologies to make the coaches more successful and effective. [That’s what we] think is a huge differentiator [for us] – [we empower] technology with a human-centered focus and [partner it with ] a human-first approach. We’re having our coaches and our care teams and clinicians say, “Here’s all the things people need.” Then, the technical team and engineers build it. So, now, it feels like you’re really interacting with one person.

 

 

Our Work: Upleveling a Product That’s All About Great Service

 

RW: There are a lot of solutions in and around that space, but you really seem to have a lot more empathy around what people are facing, and understanding that connection. It seems to be more about the combining of real people and technology, and trying to figure out where that happy ground is, because it seems neither one on their own is fixing the problem.

 

CL: Changing unhealthy behavior is hard. Most people are going to fail. The most ambitious, driven individuals are not always achieving what they hope for in their health and in their wellness.

 

The belief behind this is [that] there aren’t great solutions – that we’ve identified – that are solving that problem. There are great solutions that have assets that could solve that problem. But, the problem is, Robert – as I say problem six times in a row – they’re not being used. There is no engagement. There is no acceleration, on top of that. You can’t just do text messages and emails, because it doesn’t feel natural. It doesn’t feel like a person. It doesn’t have [that] connection. So, we’ve been able to incorporate that human connection into all the other steps [we were] taking.

 

RW: I have at least three health and wellness apps on my phone, and I don’t use any of them. But, I do track certain things, and I do answer when my human trainer yells at me. That, I pay attention to.

 

CL: Accountability is incredibly important.

Our belief is [that] healthcare is driven through human connection, but the problem with human connection is that it's very expensive.

RW: Tell us about your business and how it’s structured – who do you sell to?

 

CL: We’re an enablement solution or technology for third parties. So, we [identify where] people [are] trying to interact or engage with a large population, and [ask], how do we make it run better, faster, stronger, longer?

 

Primarily, you think of the BUCAs – the Blues, United, Cignas. They have a large number of members that interact with them for health and wellness. Can we make their solutions run better? The answer is: Of course, we can. We have incredible third-party data and case studies that validate and demonstrate [our] efficacy in creating more meaningful change. Then, [we] just go down the line [considering] where people interact with health. So, hospital systems and healthcare providers…

 

Prior to COVID, people weren’t talking about virtual coaching – how [to] make engagement in people’s homes and communities. They were doing it a little bit, but COVID happened, and it’s like the whole world shifted. [Our] expectations – as consumers, consuming healthcare – are a lot different than they were a year ago. [We’re] not waiting for the doctor for 45 minutes, [we’re] expecting things to be delivered to [our homes], [and we’re] expecting things to be easy and simple. We believe – and you know this, Robert, from your experience – [that Healthcare is] slower to implement newer technologies… We can help give them a little more speed… Consumers are expecting that right now.

RW: I’ll diverge here for a minute. In many ways, a lot of the things that have happened in E-commerce over the last 12 months pushed everything forward five years. I think there are some things in the healthcare world that happened, too, around telehealth.

 

Telehealth was a thing, for sure, but now, I think it’s been pushed forward five years. And here we stand. That plays well for Avidon Health.

 

I actually heard the other day, you know, the Mirror, the fitness solution recently bought by LuluLemon? They’re now thinking about having that be the portal for telehealth. That’s an example of how the whole thing got disrupted right under our noses, and it bodes well for the kind of integrative approach Avidon Health is taking.

 

CL: Again – going back to the problems – think about a huge problem right now that’s across every state. It doesn’t have any empathy. [It doesn’t care about] your social, economic class: Substance abuse.

 

People are addicted to pain pills, addicted to different substances. They’re having a difficult time going to their traditional therapies and treatments, because they’re not in their same environments, anymore. So, we said, “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to leverage what we’ve learned and throw it against a big problem that many Americans across the country, healthcare systems and communities are suffering from…

 

So, we built out a program to solve that, because we can acknowledge that there’s this [fear] that [people battling addiction aren’t] going to be able to get the treatment they had in the past. Now, we’re doing something where they can get [treatment] 24/7. Within minutes, [they can] be interacting with an experience that can change their lives and help them get off of – or stay off of – those abuses and different substances they [are or] were on.

Can we increase the interactions? The completion rate of certain predetermined clinical paths or clinical protocols? While we are a face fresh in the industry, we have a tremendous amount of experience.

RW: How are you thinking about the customer experience? You’ve described a much more different, and potentially effective, way of doing things for the business, but how are you thinking about how the customer experience is being effective? How are you ensuring you’re effective? Are there specific metrics you look at?

 

CL: Ya, going back to engagement. Can we increase the interactions? The completion rate of certain predetermined clinical paths or clinical protocols? While we are a face fresh in the industry, we have a tremendous amount of experience: [We’re impacting] four million lives right now, [and hosting] hundreds of thousands of interactive coaching sessions. Everything we’ve built has been built on the problems and pain points that we were trying to solve for ourselves, and now, we’re saying we can package this whole thing up, and give it to another organization and say, “We know you have these problems too. Take this box and open it. It will give you all the tools you need to be successful and engaging with your own populations.”

 

RW: How does the product actually work. I’d love to hear about how the pieces interact: What a customer might go through and how they interact with the technology, coaches and content?

 

CL: Almost always, someone has a solution. They have something they’ve worked on, built, or is sitting on the shelf behind them that they want to use, but don’t know how.

 

We built our solution to fit into their solutions. So, robust APIs, webhooks, [and] documentation. People can take our solution, and bring it right into their universe and environment. The end user would never know it’s us…

For those [who] don’t have a solution, we say, “Well, we’ll give you something that’s white label, so again, the end user will never know that we’re there.” They’re just running with the solution. We give them all that at their fingertips with a few clicks.

 

[Now], the end user’s perspective. This is where it becomes very fun and very interesting. The greatest solutions in the world only work if you use them, you know about them, and you’re engaged with them. This is a repeated theme, over and over. So, we built out what we call a Recruitment Phase. Most solutions start with the person actually on your product. That’s, like, step five. You don’t just download an app and put in your information – that’s crazy talk, man! You had to have a moment, a life event, [or] a motivation to get signed up.

 

Now, once you’re there, [that’s when] everything happens. Our magic starts when we try to get you interacting. We say. “We’re going to educate you and engage with you.” We look at zip codes where people are [interacting from]. We have data to support different personality types of those zip codes. So, we look at one of five different personality types that you will most likely have if you live in a certain zip code. Then, we start to create a messaging strategy to get you into our system and solution. You come on our solution, you verify that our assumptions were correct, and your experience begins.

 

Some personalities say, “I want to tell you everything about me, I’m going to give you my life story!” Other people say, “No, thank you, just give me what i need. Give me my answer.” So, as you’re interacting. the solution evolves and shows you things that are more relevant for your personality type. Then… it gets exciting. We’re dancing at that point. [The solution surfaces] interactive content relevant to your health risks, holds you accountable and makes sure we use – and this is really important – cognitive behavioral training actually influence your activities long term.

Avidon post about the importance of content

RW: That’s really smart. When I think about customer experience, I use the term “Persona,” but what personas really are are amalgamations of behaviors. What you’re saying: You’re trying to think about what behavior types and what personality types lead to certain behaviors and build the product around that – or at least form the pieces of the product based an individual person’s needs. That’s really interesting.

 

CL: Ya, and think about this: There’s five generations in the workforce right now… It’s insane! Think of someone in their mid-60s working, and someone in their early 20s working. Do you think they want the same solution? No, absolutely not! Yet, the idea behind it is, “Let’s build something that fits all people.”

 

Our solution is focused on the individual. Not the condition, but the individual. Their personality, their interactions, their learning style – which we haven’t even talked about. How people learn is different. You may want to consume something that takes you seven minutes to read; I may want to consume video content. So, how do we serve it up to you [so that it’s] relevant and timely?

 

RW: I have more of a philosophical question, when you define innovation, do you think it has to be disruptive?

 

CL: When you hear the word innovation, it’s sexy and people want to just slam down innovation and say, “Thats me, look at what I can do!” But innovation happens everyday. I look at my daughter – she’s 2 years old – she’s innovating, she’s telling me what she wants. It doesn’t need to be so disruptive that it changes the world, but it [needs to change] her world.

 

For me, if I can innovate on something that makes a meaningful change for one of my employees. or for a person that’s consuming our product, it could change their life. [Even if] it’s just a small change for them, [it could] ultimately amass into something very large because it’s so incredibly needed for their own experiences or personal beliefs.

Changing unhealthy behavior is hard. Most people are going to fail.

RW: You’re a technology person. You’re also a healthcare person. Do you see any larger trends that you believe are moving one way or the other for 2021, 2022, or even over the next five years?

 

CL: I think of the acceleration of everything – virtual and remote – that happened with COVID. It was really incredible. Where I thought the market was, as you touched on, it basically got sped up by three years – five years potentially.

 

So, where I thought we were going to be going, we’re almost there now, which is kind of crazy because i was only thinking – as an entrepreneur you look at, “What am i going to do tomorrow? What am I going to do in a month from now? What am I going to do in a year? Three? Five? You’re not twenty years out. That’s just not realistic. So, where I think we’re going is almost what I see coming at me right now, which is leveraging this highly personalized approach to interact with people in their homes, and a very convenient time that they desire, versus forcing people to get into their cars, to wade into buildings – typical brick and mortars – with a dozen other people waiting. You don’t get seen on time; the experience is not great. It’s not a consumer experience. You’re going to take that experience whether you like it or not because you have to.

 

Now, there’s a different way. It’s making it more interactive and more compelling.

 

RW: A lot of startups are ahead of the trends and, a lot of times, they have to either hope they can pull the market with them, or hope the market catches up with them, and that those two things hit each other while the company stays alive. You were doing that and everything went like this, and now, you’re standing here saying you have a perfect solution for the time. It’s so fascinating and rare.

 

CL: Before [we acquired] the company in the West Coast, we just saw white space and thought this is where [things were going]. We started pulling it together, and as COVID happened, it came almost too fast… It’s a good problem to have.

 

Now, it’s a matter of, “How do we translate our story, so that it’s compelling to the budget holder that’s making that decision, that has some sort of solutions or budget in place?” They’re deploying against this problem that isn’t getting better. People are not reversing the curve in healthcare – healthcare costs are getting more expensive every year, it’s insane. But yet, we’re doing the same thing, over and over and over again, with a different skin, maybe a different smell or a different taste, but it’s the same general solution.

 

So, we say, “Let’s take that solution, and let’s make it a hell of a lot better.”

RW: Right. I mean, stay healthier. There’s the first answer, right?

 

CL: I’ll take that. Yes, please!

 

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

 

RW: I want to switch to a personal question and fun fact. Our research team dug up that you’re a three time Ironman, is that correct?

 

CL: I’ve suffered those hours on the course, yes.

 

RW: My guess is that what you learned during those Ironmans has helped you in how you approach your professional work. Is that a fair statement?

 

CL: It is. To get to that starting line, the amount of work you have to do… People [associate] overnight success [with] entrepreneurs, but [they] only see the final product.

 

It [took] eight months of training to get to my first Ironman, and it forced me to cut out noise. When I started training for it, I cut out social media. I just disappeared because my primary focus – just like when you’re running a business, is making sure this thing gets to the starting line. Not even the finish line, to the starting line. And when you get there, you’ve got this race, the cannon goes off, and you realize: There’s a whole community of people that are there, that want you to get to the finish line.

 

So, just like an entrepreneur, as I’m seeing right now, there’s a whole community – yourself including – that wants to see us get to the finish line. And the finish line for me could be different than someone else’s finish line, but the idea is that we rally behind our entrepreneurs, and people want to see them do really well. But you have to earn the right to get to the starting line. You’re sure as hell not going to go do it without thinking about it. You have to earn the right to get to that starting line. That, to me, was my “Wow” moment.

This business that we’re doing right now is going to change the way people interact with healthcare in a very meaningful way.

RW: There’s also a mental stamina to entrepreneurship. Those overnight successes you mentioned, and people think about the “Unicorns.” Those unicorns are 10 years old. Those first seven or eight years were really difficult, but no one remembers that first half of the process.

 

CL: I remember when I ran across the finish line at my last Ironman. It was 15 ½ hours on the course. I was exhausted… As I’m coming up to the finish line – I’m not having a good day. I’m not feeling well. I was telling my wife and family friends that were there, “I’m sure as hell not going to do this, again. No way. I’m done, I’m exhausted, this is stupid. What was I thinking?”

 

The next day, we’re in wine country having a couple glasses of wine celebrating, and I say, “I’m going to do this next year.” And [my wife] said, “You told me you were never going to do it again?!”

 

What you said is so true. You forget the pain that got you there. Ya, it was painful to get there. But I have this desire to run this business. You see a problem, you go to solve it, and if you don’t have the solution, you keep working on it.

 

RW: It isn’t about the money, it isn’t about the finish line – well, it is but it isn’t. It’s about doing what’s necessary to see if you can make it happen.

 

CL: How often in life do we have times like that? We have a finite amount of time to be here. For all the things I’ve done, there’s so much more I want to do and achieve, and I need to force myself to do it.

 

It’s easy to let a week go by. And [then, when it’s gone] you don’t realize what you’ve done and achieved to help make yourself better, your family better, or your community better. I want to make sure that I’m doing that.

 

This business that we’re doing right now is going to change the way people interact with healthcare in a very meaningful way.

Learn more about Avidon Health by visiting their website and staying up-to-date with them on LinkedIn

Categories
News This Week in CX

This Week In CX: Mylk Tries to Be Funny, Masks Get a High-Tech Upgrade & More

Recently, a couple people have asked us what customer experience encompasses and why we select the stories we do for This Week in CX… afterall, they really run the gamut! From news about advertising campaigns to product development, rebrands, research, and algorithm updates, they speak to every sector of a company’s business and growth milestones. But the reason for that is quite simple: Every single interaction and/or touchpoint a potential or existing consumer or client has with your brand factors into your overall customer experience. The quality of the experience – whether it’s friction-less and purpose-driven, or full of frustrating, confusing, or triggering moments – continuously informs and evolves a customer’s perspective and affinity for your brand.

 

And the minute details – the words and images used in the messaging, the colors chosen for design, the tools used to deliver customization and personalization, the ease of navigation and product design, the foresights into changing consumer behaviors and expectations, the optimization that enables discovery and education – it all impacts a customer or consumer group’s experience with you. Like we always say, #ExperienceIsEverything.

 

Extreme care and intention must be carved into every business decision made, whether it obviously impacts the external customer, or not (because hint: employees are the drivers of experience and if they’re not happy, we bet you’ll notice a trickle-down effect). Cross-functional alignment on values, purpose, mission, voice, and personality is essential to providing consistent experiences that build rapport, dependability, and advocacy.

 

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

 

Hopefully, with that explanation, we’ve made our why behind the stories we choose a little easier to understand (if you’re still confused, we’d love to continue the conversation! Send us a DM here, here, or here). So, without further ado, here are the biggest product, marketing, and research developments that occurred this past week and will most certainly inform how we design and deliver the customer experiences of tomorrow.

The quality of the experience – whether it’s friction-less and purpose-driven, or full of frustrating, confusing, or triggering moments – continuously informs and evolves a customer’s perspective and affinity for your brand.

One Milk Alternative Brand Took Transparency to an Udderly Risky Level (Or Did They?)

 

Companies by and large have had to get creative with their marketing efforts as work-from-home and social distancing mandates have continued as our new normal. For example:

 

Apple released a commercial that showcases a slideshow of photos and videos – safe to guess all shot on iPhones – with the message, “Creativity goes on.” While simple, it does the job. Some of us may or may not have felt a little choked up.

Women’s Aid – a UK-based organization that provides live-saving services to those impacted by domestic abuse – took to the streets to capture footage of empty sidewalks, parks, stripmalls and sqaures. In between the commercial’s montage, simple white letters appear on a black screen that read, “Domestic abusers are no longer walking among us. They’re locked inside with their families.” A sobering reminder and plea to donate to help women and children in our communities whose homes are anything but safe.

Coors Light turned one Grandma’s tweet into a massive social campaign (and free beer spree) that ultimately raised brand awareness and customer sentiment. After 93-year old Olive Veronesi posted a photo with a beer can in one hand and a sign in the other that read, “I need more beer!”, Coors was quick to jump into action.

Grandma holding Coors Light and I Need More Beer sign

They delivered 10 cases to Olive’s doorstep (to which she posted another picture with an updated sign, “Got More Beer!”) and started a Twitter giveaway – one that resulted in dropping off a whopping 500,000 beers to people’s doorsteps – with the #CouldUseABeer hashtag.

Twitter #CouldUseABeer tweet

So, with creative ad campaigns piling up, what’s a new brand – who can’t supply samples in grocery stores to potential consumers but wants to make a splash in the marketplace – to do? Lean in, take risks, and follow the lead of the unconventional.

 

Milkadamia, a new nut-based milk alternative brand, introduced itself with a little transparency and light-heartedness. Afterall, we’ve all had a very serious year. They recruited seven Chicago-based comedians and sent them boxes of unidentified food items. The comedians (read: not scripted actors) were told to unbox the items and try them. On-camera. That’s it.

 

They called it the “Just One Taste LIVE campaign” and, while they aimed for authentic reviews of their products – ”I won’t say I wasn’t anxious,” CMO Christina Downey said – they also did some good by paying out-of-work improv actors to sit in their PJs and drink Milkadamia’s new macadamia nut milk. Although, just to be clear, none of them were actually wearing PJs. They look quite presentable in the final video. Which, come on, making the rest of us sitting in three-day old sweat pants look bad.

The campaign’s goal was to open people’s minds up to the possibility of plant-based milks, and while they may have achieved that, some Tallwave experts felt the campaign fell a little flat.

 

“The idea is good… But to be totally honest, the video feels kind of forced,” reviews our Manager of Content Strategy Holly Ringerud. “I know they said it was unscripted, but it’s obviously edited and everyone is well-lit. It’s just not as high concept or entertaining as I think it could have been.”

 

She finished: “But it’s an interesting update on the ol’ taste test!”

 

So, there’s that.

 

Our Director of Operations Kailen Campbell also loved the idea but was left wanting more. The biggest problem? It didn’t stay true to the campaign’s name and promise.

 

“The video campaign says it was ‘recorded for subsequent public distribution,’ right? So, this was not truly a live event – despite being called ‘Just One Taste LIVE’ – where people like me could join the Zoom and watch the big names taste everything in real-time,” Kailen pointed out. “Believability matters a whole lot with things like this.”

 

She did have some kudos to give.

 

“Creative? Totally! Unique? Yep. Good for them for giving us all something a little different.”

 

But it was actually another Milkadamia video that sparked greater interest in the brand and product for Kailen.

 

“I actually really enjoyed the educational promotional video more. I don’t know much about milk alternatives. I drink cow’s milk! So, the educational information made more of a lasting impression on me.”

 

It seems unanimous. A for creativity. A for taste. C for execution. Sorry, we can nut lie.

Facial Masks Get a High-Tech Makeover

Bonatone, a British electronics firm, recently released a high-tech, protective face mask that solves a pain point all mask-wearers have encountered at least once. With earbuds and a microphone built-in, Maskfone gives multitaskers the power to stay safe while continuing conversations – or listening to music, podcasts, etc. – while on the go. As CreativeBloq [https://www.creativebloq.com/news/maskfone-ultimate-face-mask] put it, “Anyone who has tried removing a mask with music plugged in will know it’s a recipe for lost earbuds, while trying to speak on the phone through a mask is a recipe for a sore throat.”

Simply put: Bronatone developed a product with hopes of changing the experience humans have with their protective masks, whether on a jog, at the grocery store, or taking a professional call while chasing a kid around Target.

 

But the real question of the hour: How has the pandemic changed people’s perceptions of crowds, germs, and distancing, and will newly-acquired safety-precautions – like wearing masks – continue once the threat of COVID-19 has passed?

 

“I think people will be more mindful about cleanliness – continuing to use hand sanitizers and wipes – while in public places and crowds. Companies may continue to offer sanitizing products to the public. I also foresee virtual experiences, such as Telehealth and contactless options continuing,” says Jenny Alexander, Product Designer at Tallwave. “But I definitely don’t see the use of masks persisting once the pandemic is resolved. There is already a lot of resistance to wearing them. Potentially a few extra cautious people may prefer wearing masks, but I only see the trend lasting for a short period in the post-pandemic world.”

Well, hopefully for Bronatone’s sake, the mask – which is made with four filter layers, washable and water-resistant fabric, comes with a variety of ear hook sizes and features controls buttons on the side, along with an app that can boost the speaker’s voice – sells out before we all go back to living the unmasked life.

 

Also read: How to Brainstorm For Innovation 

 

Speaking of COVID-inspired items… Has anyone created the bottomless toilet roll yet? Now, that’s a life-changing invention right there. 

New Survey Reveals New Charitable Donor Insights 

Data Axle released a new report titled New Best Practices to Connect With Today’s Charity Donors that highlights current behaviors, preferences, and sentiment among today’s charitable donors, particularly as they vary by age, gender, income and political affiliations.

 

Being that we work closely with a couple nonprofits and charitable organizations to improve their donor acquisition, digital footprint, and reach new (younger) audiences, we were interested.

"It all comes down to a charity’s customer experience."

Some key takeaways shared in the report include:

 

  • Preferences surrounding donation channels vary by age; 45% of donors 60+ prefer sending donations via mail; while all demographic groups between 18-60 prefer making donations by going to a nonprofit’s website unsolicited and donating online (ahem, a strong digital experience – and digital brand awareness strategy – is key).
  • Young donors (18-44) favor making monthly contributions to charities of their choice – it’s all about ease through recurring (subscription-like) models these days.
  • Omnichannel strategies and cross-channel communication is crucial. Email, direct mail, and social media were reported most important – with basically no one wanting to receive phone calls. However, and potentially most important, according to the report, donors prefer to “receive communications via one channel and donate through another, [so] synchronized cross-channel strategy is vital.”

“These findings do align with what we’ve seen through our partnerships and respective campaigns with donor-dependent nonprofit and charitable organizations,” says Tallwave Consultant Benjamin Pressman. “It all comes down to a charity’s customer experience. The starting point has to be internal alignment on what success looks like. This evaluation must rely on factoring the lifetime value of new donors into acquisition costs. In our experience, nonprofits can’t rely on each individual acquisition channel delivering a positive return, but instead need to, at a minimum, combine all acquisition and retention efforts’ costs to view the overall lifetime value return. More sophisticated evaluations can be developed to understand the influence each channel has on initial donation and retention of donors, but there needs to be an understanding that all channels contribute to the overall revenue brought in from donors.”

"In our experience, nonprofits can’t rely on each individual acquisition channel delivering a positive return."

And while cross-functional alignment and a defined roadmap for success and ROI is key, so is crafting a personalized, seamless cross-channel experience that encourages donations, as well as engagement and advocacy.

 

Also read: Optimizing paid media strategies for a 40,000% increase in leads

 

According to Benjamin (Benjie, as he’s known around the now-virtual office), there are two steps organizations should take to improve their cross-channel experience.

“The first is focusing on the current donor base and finding similar donors:

  1. Charities should analyze their current donor base and find common factors to acquire similar audiences that provide the needed long-term return in revenue
  2. Building in audience analytics to the acquisition funnel will also help charities understand where the pain points are in the prospect CX, and test and learn to alleviate those pain points
  3. Similarly, retention efforts’ pain points should be be evaluated through customer research to inform improvements in retention efforts

These efforts will provide the roadmap to acquiring new donors that align with the existing donor base. Then, charities should use 3rd party research to identify who their new donors likely are. Based on that determination, a new CX flow should be created to accommodate expectations for that audience. This could be a simple tweak of existing creative assets and site content, or a need to more broadly create new experiences.”

 

Helping nonprofits and charitable organizations expand their reach and deliver their mission to more audiences is something we’re so incredibly proud of and passionate about. We hope to use these new findings to continue that pursuit and drive more unstoppable growth, change, and impact.