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Customer Engagement Uncategorized

Tallwave year in review: Creating value, contributing knowledge, and pursuing growth in 2023

As we draw near the close of 2023, our sights are set on the year ahead and in true Tallwave fashion, we’re turning our focus to the challenges and possibilities of a new year. But before we run headlong into 2024, we’re taking a moment to reflect on all we accomplished this year. 

Our incredibly talented teams executed high-value work that made a real impact on our clients’ businesses. The brilliant thought leaders among our ranks contributed knowledge to the benefit of prospective clients, partners, and business leaders of all stripes. And Tallwavers at every level of the organization seized opportunities to learn, develop, and grow, demonstrating that our value of relentless pursuit isn’t just a series of words, but words we live by. In the spirit of honoring auld lang syne (times long past), here are the highlights the Tallwave team will be toasting as we ring in the new year.

Creating value for our clients

Looking back over our work in 2023, data enablement and modernizing the technology and strategies for delivering on customer needs stand out as themes in some of the most ambitious challenges we helped our clients tackle.  

Powering up a customer portal strategy

In 2022, we were engaged by a private, independent energy company with over 35 years of experience in the industry. They’d always been technology-forward thinkers, and their customer connect portal was already a differentiator that set them apart from competitors and contributed to their number one ranking in the industry for customer service. As a tech-forward company, they were planning for ongoing evolution of their portal into a best-in-class solution that continued to meet the needs of their customers. 

After evaluating their portal and making strategic recommendations in late 2022, the stage was set to translate strategy into action in 2023. Over the course of the year, we’ve worked with our client to design, test, and validate a new customer connect portal 3.0 solution, implement a measurement strategy to evaluate the performance of the new portal solution, and provide ongoing analytics maintenance, reporting, and strategic insights for a portal that’s always evolving, improving, and creating value for our client’s customers.

Enabling growth through an upleveled internal asset management strategy

One of our largest, most complex clients, a multinational financial services corporation, enlisted our help to establish the proper team and organizational structure, improve data quality to unlock insights that empower decision making, standardize global policies and procedures, and strengthen relationships that align into the broader enterprise with the right engagement models. These desired outcomes coincided with an increase in demand for internal technology assets, intensifying hardware budget management demands, and the increasingly complex logistics for supporting a global workforce’s technology needs.

They initially engaged us to help them create a playbook of standard operating procedures to drive predictability, agility, and efficiency in servicing employee tech needs. But as we helped them imagine the art of the possible, we set our sights higher, ultimately building a strategy for service automation and digital experiences that work in concert with SOPs and designing an MVP solution and a framework to continually build upon their internal product ecosystem to drive efficiency, scale, accuracy, and predictability. This, in turn, will help our client optimize their internal technology asset investments, reduce risk, and improve the quality of service to colleagues.

Enabling data-driven business processes by translating between business needs and infrastructure parameters

CP Skin Health Group, Inc., a division of Colgate-Palmolive focused on product and service innovation for dermatologists, estheticians, and other skin health professionals, found themselves in a position common among our clients. Rapid growth, including the merging and acquisition of well-established and high-performing brands, led to a fractured data ecosystem. They were leveraging multiple disparate data sources and systems across their business units and many of the processes required for their business relied on manual data entry, which negatively impacted their sales and marketing teams’ ability to operate effectively at scale and created a poor customer experience. They needed a partner to work alongside their Global IT team to create a more unified technology and data infrastructure to serve the needs of the business.

We brought business stakeholders together with their Global IT team to map their data environment, identify and document technical limitations and risks in their data inventory, and define problem statements. As a result of our work, the skin health division and the Global IT team were able to align on a shared data strategy and vision that would pave the way for better support for the skin health division’s business needs and lay the foundation for future data analytics capabilities. This allowed the skin health division’s marketing team to operate more effectively and efficiently and optimized sales processes to deliver better customer experiences and business outcomes.

Bringing a new mobile app to life at the speed of light

Working with one of our development partners, we embarked on a journey to redesign and develop a new mobile application for a national broadband communications provider. The new application required some complex features—like account registration and management, bill pay, service appointment scheduling, and more—that also played high-stakes roles for the customers who would ultimately use them. And the timeline for getting it done was tight. But that’s just the kind of ambitious challenge the Tallwave team thrives on.

We mobilized our wildly talented product design team to quickly develop a digital brand UI kit, UX/UI designs for 3 new complex user flows, front-end code acceleration training, and consultation on UX/UI execution, usability, and accessibility in the span of just a few weeks. The team’s work was a shining example of our ability to deliver great mobile app design at the speed of light without sacrificing our commitment to deliver a great CX for consumers.

A power-packed, end-of-year kickoff for a 2024 product strategy 

We partnered with a new client, an energy management services, procurement, and energy infrastructure development firm, in December to help them define and package their intellectual capital and expertise into an ongoing and scalable data-as-a-service (DaaS) product. Starting our engagement this late in the year, it would have been easy to assume we’d kick off in January. But with a client who shares our bias toward rapid action, we decided there’s no time like the present to get the ball rolling. 

This month, we mobilized our team to head out to the client’s offices in Texas to lead them through a full-day workshop with their senior leadership team to understand the energy ecosystem and value chain and begin to formulate ways to package their unique value to customers. Seizing the moment to begin our work now puts us in a strong position to advance our plans to design, develop, and test the product concept with prospective customers and develop a go-to-market plan that drives immediate adoption upon launch in the new year.

Contributing thought leadership to the industry

The work we did for our clients wasn’t the only way we created value in 2023. Tallwavers showed up as thought leaders, contributing their knowledge and perspectives on hot industry topics like data unification and enablement, conversion rate optimization, and more at industry events and a few of our own. Some standout moments include:

On the physical stage at Brand Innovators

At the Brand Innovators Sports Marketing Upfronts in Scottsdale, Arizona in February, Tallwave Partner, Robert Wallace, had the privilege of moderating a panel session with members of the marketing team from Riddell Sports Group, a leader in high-performance football gear.  

Tallwave Partner Robert Wallace speaks with marketers from Riddell Sports Group.

On the virtual stage at the GDS CX Innovation Summit

Our SVP of Marketing, Jessica Pumo, hit the big screen at the GDS CX Innovation Summit in May, presenting a Masterclass Keynote on bridging the data divide. The topic of overcoming fractured data ecosystems to harness the business power of data resonated so much, she gave a special live encore presentation at our invite-only dinner for current and prospective clients focused on data unification and enablement in August. 

Tallwave's SVP of Marketing, Jessica Pumo, have a keynote presentation at the GDS CX Innovation Summit in May

Spreading the word on the value of CRO

Conversion rate optimization can be an extremely effective strategy for improving conversion rates and maximizing return on investment in traffic-driving marketing. But it requires a highly integrated approach to execute, making it difficult for clients and many other digital agencies to capitalize on. Our Integrated Marketing team brought their knowledge, experience, and expertise to conversion-conscious brands of all kinds in a CRO webinar in May. 

Pursuing personal and professional growth

Our ability to do great work for clients and contribute thought leadership to our industry is fueled by our relentless pursuit of growth. In 2023, Tallwavers fed their brains, expanded their knowledge, and refined their perspectives on a wide range of topics through conferences, events, and other personal and professional development opportunities. Here are two that really blew us away:

Making quality connections at KPMG /Michigan Ross QuantumShift

Tallwave CEO, Jeff Pruitt, had the rare opportunity to attend QuantumShift, an exclusive four-day peer-to-peer learning experience for the top decision-makers of fast-growing private companies. This experience took Jeff out of his day-to-day business environment to share with, learn from, and collaborate with leading CEOs from around the country as well as top professors from the University of Michigan’s world-renowned Stephen M. Ross School of Business. It was a highly impactful experience that allowed him to live our value of thoughtful rigor in a whole new way while embracing the power of human connection.

Having flurries of fun at the Snowflake Data Cloud World Tour

Senior Data Strategist, Brooke Weidenbaker, and Engagement Manager, Rikki Ebenal attended the Snowflake Data Cloud World Tour event in Austin, Texas where they plowed through presentations, demos, and customer breakout sessions celebrating data centricity and came away with new ideas and examples to share with clients as we help them navigate the data maturity curve.

Raising a glass to the past and focusing on the future

Reflecting on all we’ve done, everywhere we’ve been, and everything we’ve accomplished, we’re proud of the year we’ve had. And we’ll be raising a glass in gratitude for the opportunities it’s brought us to learn, grow, and evolve and to help others do the same. It’s been a year worthy of celebration. But when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, our gaze will be squarely focused on the future and all the opportunities that lie ahead to help our clients dream bigger about the growth possible for their brands, discover a path to achieve it, and not just do what it takes to get there, but to constantly strive to do better together.

Categories
Customer Engagement News Product Design Uncategorized UX Design

It’s never the end: Continuously evolving product improvement

About this series: Great products are built using good problem-solving, and the best way to solve problems is to define needs and then meet them in every user interaction. Alignment across teams and channels ensures that expectations are set correctly and delivered on effectively at every stage of the user journey. Great design starts way back at defining the problem and extends through the entire product lifecycle, continuing long after launch and into the ongoing iterations of product development. Great design is a cornerstone for great products, driving great business, and creating opportunity. Read on to learn how ongoing iteration and innovation in the product design process makes great product design and the business value it creates sustainable. If you missed the first two installments, be sure to check out the other blogs in our series: 

The design journey continues post-launch

Embarking on a successful product launch is a journey that requires planning, strategic collaboration, and continuous improvement. Crafting an effective launch strategy is the foundation, involving comprehensive market research, targeted messaging, and utilizing diverse marketing channels to build awareness and demand. Integrating a motivated and informed team becomes paramount as the launch unfolds, fostering a collaborative environment where each member contributes to the product’s success. Post-launch, the journey doesn’t end; it transforms into a dynamic cycle of continuous improvement. User feedback emerges as a guiding force, steering the development team toward iterative enhancements that align with evolving user needs. The importance of great design in this phase cannot be overstated, as design systems, seamless handoffs, and branding alignment contribute to a visually cohesive and engaging user experience. 

Crafting effective launch strategies for product success

Launching a new product is challenging and the foundation for success is laid in the earliest stages of product development with a well-thought-out strategy centered around a clear and strong problem statement. That problem statement should provide connective tissue through the product development process and into planning for the product launch, including product positioning and go-to-marketing messaging. Ensuring that your product strategy as a whole is driven by a clear problem statement will help ensure consistency and alignment at every stage of the product journey. Additionally, you must leverage the right mix of marketing channels based on your target audience’s preferences and behaviors, such as social media, email, and influencers. This ensures a broad reach and sustained interest leading up to the launch. This comprehensive approach creates excitement and establishes a strong foundation for the product’s success in the market.

An effective internal launch paves the way for a successful external launch. Creating buzz and anticipation across your cross-functional team is a crucial aspect of a successful product launch. A cohesive team that is well-informed and motivated can significantly impact the outcome. Communication is key; share the vision, goals, and milestones with your team to foster a sense of unity and purpose. This will ensure that a single vision will be promoted across the team and translate seamlessly into the customer experience. When every person on the team knows how the pitch will go, they can all use their collective resources to lean into launch.

Allowing team members to contribute their unique perspectives by encouraging open dialogue and idea-sharing is also important as you consider external launch. By involving everyone in the process, from marketing and sales to product development, you harness the collective energy and expertise of your team. This collaborative approach not only generates creative ideas, but also ensures that everyone is aligned and committed to the launch’s success. Crafting an effective internal and external launch strategy is a dynamic process that requires adaptability and ongoing assessment to ensure the success of your product in the ever-evolving market.

Learn more about Tallwave’s Digital Experience Design Services.

Driving iteration with user feedback in the continuous improvement process

As a new product is launched to the market, it’s easy to assume that’s where the product team’s job ends and the marketing team’s job begins. But in truth, product launch is a phase that should bring these teams even closer together to bring the product to market while closing the feedback loop to drive continuous product improvement. Following launch, monitoring the performance of the product and features is paramount. This holistic approach to performance evaluation provides valuable insights into customer preferences and behavior. Utilize analytics tools to track key metrics, such as user engagement, conversion rates, and customer feedback. By analyzing the broader landscape, you can adapt your strategies and address any issues that may arise swiftly. 

Continuous improvement is a cornerstone of long-term success, and by keeping a close eye on performance metrics, you can make data-driven decisions to refine your product and marketing strategies for sustained growth. Regular updates and releases based on user insights not only demonstrate responsiveness to customer needs but also foster a sense of trust and loyalty. This iterative approach transforms the product development process into a dynamic, user-centric journey, where each iteration builds upon the last, leading to a more refined and valuable end product.

The role of design in continuous improvement strategies

Great design plays a critical role in driving iteration and responding to user feedback effectively. Design systems provide a framework for consistency, enabling seamless integration of new features while maintaining a cohesive user experience. Additionally, well-managed handoffs between design and development teams streamline the implementation of design changes, reducing friction and accelerating the iteration process. Aligning branding elements across marketing channels and into the product will ensure user expectations are met at every turn. During iterations, a holistic approach to design, design systems, handoffs, and branding alignment ensures that the process is not only efficient but also results in a cohesive and engaging user experience.

Product success factors and the pursuit of excellence

In the ongoing journey of product development, launch is never the end; it’s the beginning and it launches the team into a cycle of perpetual refinement. Our products can exceed audiences’ expectations by embracing user feedback and integrating it into the continuous improvement process. The collaborative spirit within teams and the strategic planning behind launches form the basis of success. Throughout this dynamic journey, it’s important to celebrate the milestones achieved, learn from the challenges faced, and remain committed to the pursuit of innovation. The combination of effective launch strategies, user needs-driven iteration, and thoughtful design ensures that  products stay relevant and evolve into solutions that resonate deeply with users. Here’s to the continuous pursuit of excellence in product development and the exciting possibilities that lie ahead on this ever-evolving path of innovation.

Are you ready to pursue product design excellence with a team that understands cross-functional teams and embraces continuous innovation? We are. Let’s talk.

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UX Design

Unlocking success: The impact of collaborative product development

About this series: Great products are not just about great functionality, pretty graphics, or even revenue. Great products are about solving problems for the people who use them so well that they return again and again. It’s easy to miss the needs those humans have when focusing on the individual components from a specific (and inherently limited) perspective. Each department in your business sees a different part of the story and a different way that customers engage with products. As we continue to explore the business value of great design, remember that only the BEST problem statements deliver the best designs. And when it comes to delivering the best problem statements, cross-functional teams have the advantage. Let’s unlock the potential of great design as the ultimate path to great business and how cross functionality advances it.

See the first installment of our three-part series here: Define the problem, not the solution.

What happens when teams align?

Design excellence requires more than individual brilliance; it demands diverse talents and perspectives. Digital products today are so easy to build that great digital products must shine brighter than most, which means solutions must be sourced from across the business landscape and not just from one person or team. Collaboration is pivotal for exceptional design and each player has a vital role toward innovation in product development and customer experience. 

There is power that arises when different disciplines converge, contributing their unique insights to sculpt a solution and then align on building that experience together. Let’s look at the magic that happens when teams align for collaborative product development.

Introduction to cross-functional teamwork

The concept of cross-functional teamwork is easy to grasp; when more perspectives are available, there should be fewer gaps during design and build. Executing well on a cross-functional team, however, can be incredibly challenging and depends on many factors, including leadership, organizational structure, time and talent available, and individual personalities. Much of the challenge of effective teamwork in general is alignment. It can be difficult for a company to work toward a single strategic goal if one team is doing something radically different. Cross-functional teams have a distinct advantage in this situation as they can draw on team members’ experiences from various disciplines to move toward a singular goal. Collaborative product development enhances efficiency and becomes a cornerstone for cultivating a culture of creativity and adaptability within an organization.

When companies organize by customer experience or mission rather than by feature or technology stack, there is a lot of opportunity to build cross-functional teams with shared goals. This strategic approach allows a customer outcome to be analyzed and improved from various perspectives, unlocking gaps or opportunities that might have otherwise been missed. Think about a customer that is signing up for a new software product. In that single customer experience, they will likely encounter the general marketing of the company and the product itself, as well as welcome emails, onboarding tutorials, and probably a community of users, not to mention new targeted social media ads. In a cross-functional team, there are a lot fewer gaps than if different team members handle each of those customer touch points. 

Building cross-functional teams

At the heart of building effective cross-functional teams lies the intentional structure of diverse skill sets to propel creative problem-solving. That doesn’t mean that all skill sets are required all the time. Building a cross-functional team is as much about communication and timing around when and how skill sets are brought together. Understanding how and when to bring team members in and out of the conversation (with the right amount of context and background) is a skill that each organization must build and refine. 

As we shared in the first part of this series, great design starts with a strong problem statement. But problem statement development can also be the starting point for effective cross-functional collaboration.  Sharing qualitative and quantitative UX research results across a diverse team to build a great problem statement will ensure that the right team members are being consulted for the cross-functional team to create the best customer experience to solve that problem. It’s useful to bring various stakeholders together during a solutioning conversation, essentially beginning with the ‘entire’ team to get perspectives on the customer experience and potential solutions. It might seem like a design or marketing team is all that’s needed in this ideation stage, but it’s incredibly valuable to bring varying perspectives in at this point. After that, it’s more useful to think of all of those participants as stakeholders who need to be ‘informed,’ but the responsibility will shift from department to department as the development progresses. 

As in the example above, there are various customer touchpoints that different teams might own, but all of the stakeholders involved need to be informed each step of the way in order to ensure a cohesive customer experience. For example, when the marketing website for a new product is being launched, the product design team needs to ensure that the expectations set on the marketing website reflect the realities of the final product. Similarly, the customer success team needs to ensure they aren’t asking customers for information they’ve already provided via the marketing website or other pre-sales activity. By keeping these cross-functional team members informed, they can hold each other accountable for gaps, missed opportunities or missed expectations throughout the customer experience.

We know a thing or two about communication across teams. Learn more about how Tallwave builds bridges between business and technology.

Critical information for critical stakeholders

Cross-functional teamwork is vital to the success of a good product but that doesn’t mean that each stakeholder must be present for each conversation. Being efficient when sharing critical information can really elevate the communication across team members. Documentation and communication needs to go beyond live, collaborative communication to consider how to effectively institutionalize critical information in a way that contextualizes it for different stakeholders while driving alignment to an overarching vision and topline business goals. These versatile communications become more than just documents or “updates;” they evolve into powerful tools that communicate a unified vision, fostering cohesion and alignment among teams and organizations. A well-built roadmap is an excellent example of a flexible communication strategy that can share the most critical information to a variety of stakeholders. When presenting to leadership, the roadmap can be collapsed to only show the highest level strategy and initiatives. As conversation is required and/or different stakeholders are included, the roadmap can be expanded to show various tasks and strategies that will come together to deliver the initiatives. Leveraging communication tools that can adapt to the intended audience is a valuable way to keep communication up to date across team members.

Summing it up: Embrace a collaborative process

Creating and fostering a strong cross-functional and collaborative culture may not be the most obvious enabler to exceptional product design. But the impact of driving diverse perspectives into the product design process is key to unlocking its full business value. It can be difficult to create a highly collaborative environment, particularly when time is tight, the strategic importance of collaboration isn’t clear, and organizational silos get in the way. Enlisting the help of a neutral third party can be an effective way to broker buy-in on the value of strong cross-functional collaboration, align priorities across different teams and departments, and challenge historical organizational silos. Beyond the product design strategy and execution support we provide to our clients, we often find that the role we play in uniting cross-functional teams behind a common goal and achieving a shared point of view is equally valuable. 

Are you ready to embrace a cross-functional and collaborative design process led by a strategic partner? Tallwave is ready to get to work and help your organization excel. Let’s talk.

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Customer Engagement Product Design Reaching New Customers UX Design

UX design: Define the problem, not the solution

About this series: In the fast-paced business world, it’s all too common to hear about companies striving to become “product-led” and chasing after metrics like velocity and conversion rates. While these numbers undoubtedly hold significance, they often overshadow the underlying force that drives the success of great products: design. Design is not just about aesthetics; it’s about understanding your customers, empathizing with their needs, and crafting solutions that meet and exceed their expectations. In this exciting three-part blog series, we will dive deep into the realm of design and design strategy and its pivotal role in achieving business goals. Let’s unlock the potential of great design as the ultimate path to great business.

Understanding the cornerstones of great product design

In the ever-evolving landscape of product design, success hinges on the ability to navigate a maze of user needs and expectations. Understanding the need at hand and then defining the actual problem is a crucial first step that can make or break the entire journey. You might have a fantastic idea for a product but if you aren’t drilling down to the true problem that this product is solving, then you aren’t going to be able to truly satisfy customers. This design stage uncovers true pain points for customers to ensure your product is solving the right problem and a real problem. Understanding user needs and defining the problem are cornerstones of successful products, ultimately paving the way for continually high business value.

Empathy: The heart of a user’s needs

User needs are the foundation of good design, placing the customer at the very heart of the product development process.  It’s imperative to empathize with users’ unique experiences, desires, and pain points when creating designs that resonate. User needs specific to a problem serve as a constant reminder that humans (specifically users) are at the core of the design process. By placing the human at the center of design, user needs act as constant reminders that the end goal is not just a product but a solution that addresses real-life challenges.

Moving from good to great design requires more than just a surface-level understanding of desired functionality. It requires a combination of both qualitative and quantitative UX research techniques that delve deep into user needs. First, quantitative UX research methods provide a structured and data-driven approach to learning about user behavior and preferences. Understanding the numerical data and statistical analysis can help you quantify user interactions, preferences, and performance. Surveys, questionnaires, A/B testing, and analytics tools are common examples of quantitative research techniques. Teams don’t need to use all of them every time, but carefully selecting a combination of methods will bring some helpful data to the surface as you assess user needs. These methods allow for the identification of patterns and trends, enabling UX researchers to create informed hypotheses about user needs. Quantitative research complements qualitative research by offering a more objective and measurable perspective, providing the necessary data to think through problems and have support for business decisions.

Qualitative user experience research methods provide valuable insights into the intricacies of user behavior, emotions, and perceptions. These methods delve deep into the more nuanced and harder to quantify psychological aspects of user interactions, aiming to understand what users do and why they do it. Qualitative research techniques, such as in-depth interviews, usability testing, and ethnographic studies, offer a way to channel the individual perspectives and experiences of users. Open-ended questions and real-time observations can help researchers uncover users’ needs, pain points, and desires, shedding light on the nuances that quantitative data often cannot capture. Qualitative research is an indispensable tool for human-centered design, enabling designers and businesses to truly understand user needs on a deeper level.

User needs are the baseline of effective design and encapsulate the essence of what the user truly desires and values. Before jumping to solutions or pixels, design teams must first empathize with their target audience, truly understanding their hopes, aspirations, and pain points. Taking the time to crystallize the human-focused needs and desires of the users ensures that every design decision is rooted in empathy and a genuine desire to enhance the user experience. Businesses that research, prioritize, and build products for these needs are not only better equipped to stay competitive in an ever-changing market but also to forge lasting, meaningful connections with their customers.

We know a thing or two about consumer values. Check out our post on the new persona playbook.

Crafting the perfect product design problem statement

With a solid understanding of user needs in hand, next up is crafting a clear problem statement to fuel product creation. A well-defined problem statement encapsulates the precise challenge that needs to be addressed, serving as instructions for design teams. Outlining the problem’s scope and context ensures that the design effort remains aligned with the customers’ real pain points and needs, allowing for a solution that truly resonates with them. This clarity and alignment fosters creativity and innovation in finding the optimal solution. It ensures that the entire team is headed in one direction, toward solving one problem. A well-crafted problem statement that is based on solid UX research guides the design process toward an excellent customer experience.

When thinking about the parts of a perfect problem statement, you must consider the person as well as the problem. This might be a problem that only a certain type of person has or a problem that lots of people have but only at specific moments in their lives. The person in the middle of the problem is just as important as the problem itself and cannot be separated from the problem statement. In addition to the who, problem statements must also consider the why but without the how. When the right amount of research has been done, there should be no trouble succinctly explaining for whom the problem exists and why. As the team sets out to create a solution for this problem, user needs and problem statements come into play. The goal is to reach an actionable problem statement that defines for whom you’re  building the product or feature and why.

The positive impact of a clear problem statement reverberates through the entire business ecosystem. First and foremost, it reduces the risk of costly missteps in product creation. By defining the problem clearly, teams can avoid the pitfall of investing time and resources into solutions that do not address the root issues. It ensures that design efforts are aligned with the actual needs and pain points of the target audience and that the team is setting out to solve for the user and their why. As a result, products are more likely to resonate with and create value for users, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. A great problem statement empowers businesses to differentiate themselves in the market, gain a competitive edge, and drive sustainable growth. In sum, a clear problem statement acts as the catalyst for great design, and when design excels, so does business.

Learn more about Tallwave’s Digital Experience Design Services.

Wrapping Up: Great design, greater user experience

In the realm of product design and business success, two critical elements stand out as paramount: crafting well-defined user needs statements and clear problem statements. These statements act as the guiding light that illuminates the path to exceptional design and, in turn, outstanding business performance. User needs statements distill the essence of what customers truly value, enabling design teams to create products that resonate, cultivate customer loyalty, and fuel lasting trust. Clear problem statements also serve as a map for design, defining the challenge, scope, and objectives. They streamline decision-making, stimulate innovation, and ensure that design efforts align with real customer needs, ultimately reducing the risk of costly errors. The result is a positive ripple effect that enhances customer satisfaction, differentiation in the market, and sustainable business growth. In sum, these foundational statements are the key to unlocking the synergy between great design and great business.

Are you ready to embrace great design and improve customer experiences? We’re all ears. Let’s talk about your next project. And there’s more on the way; stay tuned for the second installment of this series! We’ll delve into how collaboration leads to the best design outcomes.

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Customer Engagement Strategy Uncategorized

Data-centricity: Takeaways from the Snowflake Data Cloud World Tour 

We recently had the privilege of attending the Snowflake Data Cloud World Tour event in Austin, Texas. It was a full day of presentations, demos, and customer breakout sessions dedicated to discussing the technical and cultural challenges that organizations face as they strive to become more data-driven. Industry leaders who have harnessed the power of Snowflake’s data processing technologies and platform experts convened to shed light on the evolving landscape of data utilization and the critical need for businesses to adapt.

In today’s business environment, where access to data has reached unprecedented levels, success hinges not on the sheer volume of data you have access to but on how effectively you can leverage it to make informed decisions on an ongoing basis. In fact, research by Mckinsey & Company found that insight-driven companies report above-market growth and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) increases of up to 25%.

Our most significant takeaway from the event was the pervasive sense of urgency, coupled with encouragement, that resonated throughout the sessions we attended. In the fast-paced world of business, staying ahead of the curve is imperative. The lifeblood of modern organizations is data, and if your company hasn’t already placed your first-party data at the forefront of your decision-making process, you risk falling behind. While it’s one thing for decision-makers to prioritize data, it’s another to instill a data-centric culture throughout your entire organization.

During the event, heard from business leaders who recounted their early efforts to get their data houses in order. Some of these efforts date back to 2017 and 2018 when these visionaries recognized the transformative power of data and embarked on a strategic journey. Fast forward, as 2024 approaches, data isn’t merely a choice—it’s a necessity. If your organization hasn’t embraced a data-centric approach yet, the time to dive in is now.

Right after returning from the event, we received a timely report from Experian Research, focusing on the “Data Quality Revolution.” The message was crystal clear: if your business isn’t placing a strong emphasis on access to high-quality data, you should be, and the time to act is now. Continue reading as we explore the key takeaways from both the Snowflake event and the complementary Experian report.

The shift towards data-centricity: Where we stand

In the realm of data-driven decision-making, businesses are no longer tentatively testing the waters; they’re taking a deep dive. As highlighted in the Experian research report, “Over a third of business leaders say that better and faster decisions using data is a top priority to respond to market pressures. A continuous influx of accurate data enables team members—technical or not—to act with confidence. This is a claim that we see year after year and is vital in a market that is moving faster than ever.” 

This sentiment echoes the progressive strides made by forward-thinking companies showcased at the Snowflake event. For instance, the Senior Director of Data Architecture, Engineering, and Platforms at a Fortune 500 athletic retailer shared insights into their innovative use of real-time data. By monitoring inventory levels and analyzing optimal pricing strategies in real-time, they’ve effectively maximized space utilization and ensured optimal profitability without compromising margins. This sophisticated approach underscores how organizations at advanced stages of data maturity leverage their data reservoirs to tackle genuine business challenges. Experian defines data maturity as “the extent to which your business can collect valuable data, derive meaning from it, and leverage this information in the decision-making process.” 

Successful companies are often able to point to a mature data strategy that is disseminated throughout the organization that lends them a competitive edge. Consider Netflix or Amazon, for example. Both companies utilize their data to personalize content and provide product recommendations that increase customer satisfaction and ultimately drive greater customer engagement, retention, and overall revenue. 

However, this level of sophistication isn’t universal. For numerous organizations, the journey along the data maturity curve is just beginning. Bridging the gap between recognizing the potential of data-centricity and effectively implementing it remains a common challenge encountered across various industries.

A graph going the data maturity curve

The challenges: Technical and cultural hurdles

One of the key challenges emphasized at the event was the demand for tools that can expedite the transition to data-centricity without subjecting organizations to extended development timelines. In today’s fast-paced business landscape, waiting months for development to design and implement complex systems is simply not feasible and leads to frustration throughout the organization. 

What businesses need are solutions that are agile, efficient, and user-friendly. Experian “[s]urveyed businesses are looking at their technology to plan for scaling, expanding, and innovating data quality initiatives including easy-to-use tools for business users (50%).”  The emphasis on user-friendly tools highlights a critical aspect of overcoming technical hurdles—providing accessible platforms that empower business users, regardless of their technical backgrounds, to harness the full potential of data, ensuring that the journey towards data-centricity is smooth and collaborative.

Learn more about building bridges between business and technology.

Embracing the potential, feeling the pain

Many organizations now find themselves at a crossroads—they’re acutely aware of the immense potential that a data-centric approach offers, but they are equally familiar with the growing pains that accompany this transformative journey. The heightened awareness of the benefits is juxtaposed with the acknowledgment of the challenges. This duality can be both motivating and overwhelming. The Experian research report echoes this sentiment, revealing a profound truth: “Year after year, we find that data investment equates to business growth. Our study shows that 95% of super performers—these high-achieving and data-mature leaders—believe that data quality is fundamental to business operations going forward.”

This statistic underscores the critical importance of data quality in the contemporary business landscape. It’s not merely a matter of investing in data; it’s about investing in high-quality, accurate data that can fuel informed decision-making and drive business growth. The realization that data quality is intrinsically linked to future success is a powerful motivator for organizations navigating the complexities of the data-centric journey. It signifies a shift in mindset from viewing data as a mere asset to recognizing it as a cornerstone upon which robust business operations are built.

While the challenges are palpable, so are the rewards. Embracing the potential of a data-driven approach means not only understanding the significance of data quality, but also taking proactive steps to address it. As organizations grapple with the intricacies of data utilization, this awareness becomes a guiding light, illuminating the path toward transformative change. By investing in data quality, businesses not only mitigate risks but also position themselves for sustained growth and innovation.

In this landscape of shifting paradigms, Tallwave stands as a strategic partner, ready to navigate the complexities of the data revolution alongside your organization. We offer tailored solutions designed to guide you and your teams to think through what data matters to your organization and build a culture that ensures your business is not just prepared for the future but actively shaping it. Let’s embark on this transformative journey together—where challenges become opportunities and data becomes the cornerstone of your success.

Tallwave: Your partner in the data journey

If your organization is ready to embark on the journey of embracing data-centricity but you’re uncertain about where to start, Tallwave is here to provide expert guidance. We know the intricacies of this transformation, offering expertise in both technical solutions and cultural adaptations across various teams in your organization. Our approach is tailored to your specific needs, ensuring a seamless integration of data-centric practices into your existing framework.

Ready to make the shift?

Don’t wait until you’re left further behind—take action now. Discover the business benefits, navigate the challenges, and transform your data potential into tangible results. Your journey toward a data-centric future starts today. We’re ready to lead the way.

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Customer Engagement Innovators Series Mindfulness Reaching New Customers Value Realization

The smart money is on treating marketing as an operating expense

As a digital agency CEO with a strong financial bent and a finance leader with deep experience in the agency space, we’ve seen the financial dance between marketing and finance teams more times than we can count. And we’ve heard some pretty creative approaches for classifying marketing expenses in different ways. While there’s no hard and fast rule that’s 100% right 100% of the time, more often than not the most compelling case is for treating marketing as an operating expense. This decision isn’t just a matter of semantics; it can have a significant impact on your business’s financial health and agility. 

Operating vs. Capital expenses

Before we dive into why you should treat marketing as an operating expense, let’s clarify the difference between operating and capital expenses.

What Is an operating expense?

Operating expenses, often referred to as OpEx, are day-to-day costs incurred to keep your business running. Think salaries, rent, utilities, and yes, marketing expenses. OpEx is immediately deductible against your revenue, reducing your taxable income.

What is a capital expense?

Capital expenses, often referred to as CapEx, are investments in long-term assets, like buying a new factory or upgrading your IT infrastructure. CapEx is typically depreciated over time, which means it’s deducted gradually over several years.

Now that we’ve defined these two expense types, let’s talk about why we recommend putting marketing investment on the OpEx side of the ledger.

The temptation of a capital expense classification

While we believe the strongest argument is for classifying marketing as an operating expense, we understand why some companies may be tempted to categorize it as a capital expense. It can inflate the company’s assets on the balance sheet, potentially presenting a more favorable financial picture to investors and stakeholders. Additionally, tax implications can sometimes favor capitalizing marketing expenses, especially when a company is looking to spread out deductions over several years to minimize immediate tax liability. However, it’s essential to weigh these potential benefits against the flexibility and transparency that come with treating marketing as an operating expense to make an informed decision that aligns with the company’s overall strategy.

 In cases where marketing initiatives have long-lasting effects, such as brand-building campaigns, there might be an argument for considering them as capital investments. One area where this argument tends to be the strongest is in investment in digital properties like websites.

Websites can serve as long-term assets, contributing to a company’s brand image, customer acquisition, and revenue generation over an extended period. This aligns with the capital expense criteria of enduring benefits and a useful life spanning several years, so classifying website investment as a capital expense has its merits. By capitalizing website development costs, companies can gradually expense them over time, smoothing out the financial impact.

However, there’s a counterargument to consider. Capitalizing certain marketing costs so they don’t hit your expense line and EBITDA can be enticing, but in the future, these become dead expenses because they’re being depreciated. Doing this over multiple years will lead to carrying depreciated expenses that you’re not realizing tangible return on, which hinders your marketing team from driving a full return on each year’s expenses.

Additionally, the digital landscape evolves rapidly, and website technology becomes outdated quicker than many other capital assets. Treating website development as an operating expense recognizes the need for continuous updates, improvements, and adaptations to keep pace with changing user expectations and technological advancements. Moreover, categorizing website investment as OpEx offers immediate tax benefits, as these expenses are fully deductible in the year they occur, potentially reducing tax liability in the short term.

Ultimately, the classification of website investment as a capital or operating expense depends on the specific circumstances and strategic goals of the company. CFOs and finance teams must carefully assess whether the long-term benefits and gradual expense recognition of capitalizing website costs outweigh the agility and tax advantages offered by treating them as an operating expense. It’s a balancing act that requires a nuanced understanding of the company’s digital strategy and financial priorities.

The argument for marketing as an operating expense

Potential exceptions like website investment aside, marketing investments represent ongoing, essential costs incurred to sustain day-to-day business operations, promote revenue generation, and adapt to dynamic market conditions. Treating marketing as an operating expense aligns with the constantly evolving nature of the marketing landscape and offers a host of advantages:

It gives you the flexibility needed to adapt to rapid change

One of the primary reasons to treat marketing as an operating expense is that it reflects the reality of the marketing landscape today. Marketing isn’t a one-time investment; it’s an ongoing effort to connect with your audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales. In today’s fast-paced digital world, consumer preferences can change on a whim and marketing campaigns must be able to adapt rapidly. When it comes to marketing, you can’t simply “set it and forget it” like you would with a capital asset.

When it comes to marketing, you can’t simply “set it and forget it” like you would with a capital asset.

Treating marketing as OpEx provides greater financial flexibility, allowing you to adjust your marketing budget more easily in response to changing market conditions or business needs. When marketing is a capital expense, you’re stuck with the initial investment, whether it’s performing as expected or not, which can limit your ability to evolve and adapt. As companies take greater control over their data and leverage technologies like AI and ML to execute data-driven decision making at scale, the capacity for ongoing, real-time optimization of marketing activity to drive performance improvement will only increase. With OpEx, you can scale your marketing spend up or down as needed, allocate resources to new marketing channels, and pivot your strategy without making the same level of long-term commitment from a finance and accounting standpoint and without the burden of depreciating assets.

It enables better ROI tracking and more accurate financial reporting

Accurate financial reporting is essential for making informed business decisions. When it comes to marketing investment, treating marketing as an operating expense ensures your income statement accurately reflects the real cost of doing business. This transparency helps you understand the true profitability of your operations and facilitates more accurate forecasting.

For its part, marketing efforts have high expectations for delivering quantifiable returns, whether it’s in the context of return on ad spend, reduced cost of acquisition, improved lifetime value, or any number of other metrics used to evaluate return on marketing investment. When marketing is categorized as OpEx, it’s easier to track and measure its ROI in real-time. You can see how your marketing efforts impact revenue and adjust your strategy accordingly. With CapEx, ROI calculations become more complex and less immediate.

It makes your CFO’s job easier

Given our roles and backgrounds in financial stewardship, we know the importance of prudent financial management. And we know that’s the love language of most CFOs. Treating marketing as OpEx actually makes your CFO’s job easier. Here’s how:

  • Clearer financial statements: Treating marketing as OpEx leads to cleaner, more straightforward financial statements, simplifying your job in preparing financial reports and ensuring transparency for all stakeholders.
  • Easier budget management: With marketing as OpEx, you have greater control over the budget. You can allocate resources more dynamically, responding to changes in the market or business priorities. It’s easier to manage and forecast expenses when they align with the business’s actual needs.
  • Reduced risk: Capital expenses carry inherent risks. What if the asset becomes obsolete or doesn’t perform as expected? Treating marketing as OpEx eliminates the risk associated with depreciating assets, offering a more predictable financial landscape.

Take it from us, it’s a great way to endear yourself to your head of finance, which can grease the wheels when you’re looking for approval on decisions that need to be made quickly.

It can send the right signal to strategic marketing hires

This last advantage of classifying marketing as OpEx is an easy one to overlook, but it can be really impactful. Top marketing talent often prefers companies that treat marketing as an operating expense. You might be surprised if this question comes up in an interview for a strategic marketing hire. But when a candidate poses this question, it can be a great indicator of strategic thinking about the level of ongoing business value your company ascribes to marketing. Because they know it demonstrates a commitment to staying current and competitive, being able to tell candidates that you classify marketing as OpEx shows that your company views marketing as a dynamic and mission-critical function and is willing to invest in it continually for long-term success.

Betting on marketing as a dynamic driver of growth

Things are rarely cut and dry when it comes to strategic budgeting, and marketing is no exception. There will always be a need to balance near-term and long-term financial constraints, business goals, and the marketing strategies and assets that support them. And there may be sound business reasons to capitalize on certain marketing investments under particular circumstances. But in general, treating marketing costs as operational versus capital expenses provides the greatest benefit when it comes to optimizing marketing performance, maximizing ROI, simplifying marketing budget management, and positioning marketing as the dynamic level for driving business growth that it is. 

Regardless of how you classify marketing expenses on your budget sheet, fostering collaboration between marketing and financial leadership is key. Driving ongoing conversations between marketing and finance will help ensure that your finance team has a clear understanding of the business context for marketing investment, including the roles that various marketing investments play in achieving business goals, how return on those investments is defined, and what short- and long-term management and stewardship of those investments looks like and requires. It will also help your marketing team understand the broader financial parameter and requirements within which the business operates and the considerations that go into expense classification. 

Sometimes the best way to foster understanding between your marketing and finance teams is with a partner who understands both sides of the coin and can translate between their unique points of view. If you’re looking for guidance or support bringing these critical business functions closer together, let’s talk.

Categories
Reaching New Customers Strategy

Swift Moves: What marketers can learn from Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce

The suspected budding relationship between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce has become a major media moment. Whether you’re team “ Tayvis” or “Swelce” (or you remain unaffiliated), it’s almost impossible to escape the very real effects this speculated pairing is having on pop culture, whether romance is real or not. But what does this celebrity romance have to do with marketing? Well, hang on to your Eras tour T-shirts, because there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

Let’s explore how the “shipping” of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce by both music and football fans alike has sparked newfound engagement within the NFL community and the lessons marketers and growth leaders can draw from this phenomenon. …Are you ready for it?

Electric Touch: The high-voltage power of unexpected partnerships

When marketing strategies get a little stale and your standard playbook starts gathering dust, a creative and unexpected partnership can be an effective way to shake it off. This is an approach Swift has deployed herself in collaborations with unlikely artists like Kendrick Lamar in “Bad Blood.” The media attention on Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s apparent joining of forces is a great reminder that successful marketing often involves unexpected partnerships and the value of being open to collaboration opportunities outside of our comfort zones. 

The media attention on Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s apparent joining of forces is a great reminder that successful marketing often involves unexpected partnerships and the value of being open to collaboration opportunities outside of our comfort zones. 

While the generated media attention  is great for driving cross-audience awareness for Swift’s and Kelce’s respective personal brands, is there a more substantial quantitative impact behind the hype? Absolutely. Consider this: the NFL, a sports giant with massive brand awareness and a highly engaged core audience, is experiencing increased engagement from Taylor Swift fans because of her connection to Travis Kelce. In fact, the Chiefs vs. Bears game where a cheering Swift first caught the attention of viewers and sportscasters was the most watched game of the week with nearly 25 million viewers, including a 63% increase in female viewers aged 18 to 49, according to Roku. This unexpected alliance demonstrates that sometimes, the most fruitful partnerships come when you’re willing to break the ice and think outside the box.

Emotional Connection: How soulful and authentic storytelling hits different

When it comes to authentic storytelling and connecting with people on an emotional level, Taylor Swift could teach a master class. She’s poured her heart and soul into her music, sharing her life’s ups and downs through songs like “Love Story” and “All Too Well.” Her lyrics and melodies tap into the human experience, making listeners feel like she’s singing about their lives and her uncanny ability to connect with her fans on an emotional level has turned them into a community of loyal followers.

In marketing, it’s crucial to tell your brand’s story authentically. Customers connect with brands that share their values and experiences. Marketers can create emotional connections with their audience through storytelling, relatable content, or simply empathizing with their customers’ needs. Finding that end game of emotional engagement can make all the difference, so don’t be afraid to share your journey and be as fearless as Taylor when it comes to opening up to your audience.

Staying Relevant: ‘Tis the damn season for a reinvention

In marketing, adaptability is key. Both Taylor Swift and the NFL have showcased remarkable adaptability in reaching and engaging their expanding fan bases in the face of an ever-evolving digital landscape. From her country beginnings in Tim McGraw to her pop reinvention in 1989 and her indie-folk venture in folklore, one thing Taylor Swift is known for is her ability to adapt and evolve with the times. She’s consistently changed her style, not just to stay relevant to an evolving audience base but to reflect the evolution of her own identity as an artist and brand. She seamlessly transitioned from country to pop, experimenting with indie-folk, and all the while, leveraging digital platforms to release surprise albums and engage directly with her fans on social media. The result has been a resounding and quantifiable success.

For its part, the NFL has recognized and responded to the shifting media consumption habits of younger generations and embraced digital platforms to livestream games, share highlight reels, and interact with fans in real-time on social media. Travis Kelce specifically has showcased a remarkable ability to engage effectively with a digital-native audience, elevating his status as both a sports personality and a brand. Kelce’s active presence on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok allows him to share behind-the-scenes glimpses of his life, showcase his unique personality, and connect with fans beyond the football field. And New Heights podcast with brother and Philadelphia Eagles center, Jason Kelce, has become a dynamic platform where the Kelce brothers engage with their fans on various topics, including sports, lifestyle, and personal experiences. By leveraging the podcasting medium, they’ve created a space for candid conversations, special guest appearances, and authentic storytelling, further solidifying their status as relatable sports figures in the eyes of their fans. The podcast serves as a prime example of how athletes can use modern digital channels to connect with their audience on a deeper level and bridged the gap between traditional sports and the digital age, appealing not only to sports enthusiasts but also to a younger, tech-savvy audience.

By adapting to the digital era and staying attuned to their fan bases’ preferences, Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce, and the NFL as a whole have proven that flexibility, digital prowess, and a willingness to reinvent are essential for sustained success in an ever-evolving digital marketing and entertainment landscape. And you must be ready to pivot and reinvent your strategies to keep up and you can’t be afraid to begin again when necessary.

Crossing Boundaries: Challenging the borders of audience and pop culture

Travis Kelce’s fanbase in the NFL is predominantly sports-oriented. Taylor Swift’s is music-focused. It might be easy to assume that those audiences are mutually exclusive, but they’re not. In fact, Tallwave Product Manager, Anna McKee, sits squarely in both camps. “I’ve been a Chiefs fan my entire life, and I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since her career first launched. I’ve seen 5 Taylor Swift concerts—two at Arrowhead—and have owned Chiefs season tickets for the last 5 years. I’m right at the center of the Taylor and Travis Venn diagram.” Anna was at the fabled Chiefs vs. Bears game and experienced the phenomenon of this pairing firsthand and then had the experience of watching it from afar catching the Chiefs vs. Jets game a week later. “It was wild how clear the effect was between the two games but in totally different ways. Without the benefit of a TV broadcast to provide a birds’ eye view while I was physically at the Chiefs/Bears game, the conversation was about Taylor the entire time. Whether it was a question out loud or a text or a tweet, everyone wanted to know why she was there, who she was with, and whether it was a PR stunt. Regardless of the speculation, the general consensus with the women I was with was that we didn’t care, we were just excited she was there! Watching the Chiefs/Jets game a week later on TV, the broadcast kept cutting to her, which made it even more real and, in some ways, more exciting.”

“I’ve been a Chiefs fan my entire life, and I’ve been a Taylor Swift fan since her career first launched. I’ve seen 5 Taylor Swift concerts—two at Arrowhead—and have owned Chiefs season tickets for the last 5 years. I’m right at the center of the Taylor and Travis Venn diagram.”

Anna McKee, Tallwave product manager

The steep spike in NFL engagement among women suggests that the apparent relationship has bridged these two seemingly disparate communities, creating a fusion of interests. And Anna’s experience and those like her who are long-time fans of both found another reason to engage more deeply. If there’s one lesson here for marketers, it’s the power of tapping into multiple affinities where possible.

Staying Social: Be a trendsetter, a star

The sudden surge of engagement within the NFL community due to Taylor Swift’s involvement demonstrates the importance of monitoring and staying on top of trends, particularly when it comes to social media. And on that front, Taylor Swift is a force of nature. For example, when it comes to social following on Instagram, Swift’s following outpaces the NFL’s by an order of magnitude. She’s got 273 million, over 9 times the NFL’s 28 million. And Swift’s social power is translating to real gains for both the NFL and Travis Kelce. 

While the NFL is still trying to find its footing on how to maximize its return on the Swift halo effect (posting references to Swift’s presence at the game and then subsequently removing them after receiving some backlash), there’s no question they’ve benefitted. As just one example, with the boon of content focused on Swift and Kelce as a pair, the NFL has seen record views on TikTok content. That halo effect has extended to Travis Kelce, too, helping him pick up 380k new Instagram followers and boosting his podcast into the top spot on Apple’s charts.  

The surface lesson for marketers here is straightforward: an active and engaging social media presence on platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok can help you connect with your audience, share your story, and foster a sense of community. This is particularly beneficial for driving engagement with your audience outside of high-intent moments, which can add up to real value over time as it helps cement your brand in the minds of your audience. But there’s a deeper takeaway about the art of timing. As the saying goes, “timing is everything,” and the Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce relationship proves this point. Their romance coincided with the NFL season and Swift’s record-breaking Eras tour, leading to a perfect storm of increased engagement. This isn’t the kind of thing that’s easy to anticipate, but marketers recognize the brand-building value of this kind of rare serendipitous moment. The NFL did, too. While every move they’ve made to capitalize on that moment hasn’t necessarily been pitch perfect, they didn’t let perfect execution be the enemy of perfect timing, which is a valuable lesson in itself.

End Game: Summing up 

In the ever-evolving marketing world, we can learn valuable lessons from unexpected sources, just like the budding relationship between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. Embrace unexpected partnerships, tell your brand’s story authentically, and leverage emotional connections to engage your audience, including in more casual interactions with your brand. Adaptability, engaging diverse audiences, and capitalizing on pop culture can open new doors for growth. And to complete your mastermind marketing strategy, don’t forget the role of social media, monitoring trends, and be ready to seize those rare and powerful serendipitous moments to propel your marketing efforts forward.

Whether you’re ready to see sparks fly between Taylor and Travis or you’ve got bad blood with this attention-grabbing romance, there’s something to be learned from this pop culture phenomenon. Let’s take these lessons to heart, just as we would with our favorite Taylor Swift songs, and create marketing strategies that create a lasting love affair with our audience.

Are you ready for it? We are. Let’s talk.

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Strategy

Customer portals: Powerful platforms for CX success

It’s a fact: great customers have great expectations. Not only do your valuable customers expect an outstanding product or service, but they also demand an exceptional experience. And today, an excellent customer journey depends on meeting your customers where they are and accommodating ever-evolving demands. 

One consistent trend is autonomy. Today’s customers want to help themselves — studies show that 70% of consumers want to resolve issues independently. Where do they go to find help? Online. Close to 65% of consumers always or almost always turn to a company’s online resources when they have a simple question or need a quick fix.

Infographic showing that 70% of consumers what to resolve their own issues and 65% of consumers turn to online resources.

Customer portals: An inclusive CX solution

Combining today’s customers’ need for independence with other emerging CX demands like deeper personalization, more immersive experiences, and even conversation and connection seems like a heavy lift. But there is a solution that covers all of these needs: a thoughtful, well-designed customer portal.

Online customer portals have emerged as a vital component of successful business-consumer relationships. These dedicated digital platforms provide customers with a personalized and streamlined experience, allowing them to access essential information, manage their accounts, build affinity, and engage with your brand more efficiently and effectively. 

But it goes even further than that. A great customer portal doesn’t just meet consumer demand; it also helps meet your company’s needs. Customer portals free up company resources and human capital, optimize internal processes, and much more. 

What is a customer portal?

A customer portal is a secure, web-based platform that serves as a centralized hub for customers to interact with a business. It offers a range of self-service functionalities, such as accessing account information, making transactions, progress tracking, tracking orders, submitting support tickets, engaging with support agents, and retrieving relevant resources. You can easily empower customers and foster stronger relationships by giving direct access to these features.

Customer portals are a gateway to the various products, services, and information brands and businesses offer. By bringing together crucial functions in one place, customer portals simplify the customer journey and create a cohesive and engaging experience.

How do customer portals benefit consumers?

Customer portals aren’t just important; they’re necessary. Numbers from Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service report indicate that nine out of 10 U.S. consumers expect a brand or organization to have an online portal for self-service. 

Infographic indicating nine out of 10 U.S. consumers expect a brand or organization to have an online portal for self-service.

These numbers make sense, too. Millennials and Gen Z, both digital natives, comprise nearly half of the U.S. population and significantly shape consumer trends. As self-service becomes the norm and younger consumers drive digital demands, online customer portals become even more essential. 

Why are customer experience portals important to consumers? Here are three benefits to consider:

Customer portals provide space for seamless communication

As users embrace ChatGPT, Bard and Gemini, and other natural language processing AI platforms, the demand for conversational customer service will likely increase. Interactions in a customer portal can be protected and stored so that historical context is quickly available when a human takes over. They can pick up the conversation without missing a beat and provide seamless communication.

Portals let your business meet digital demand in real time

A recent ZenDesk study found that 72% of customers want immediate services. Customers appreciate the ability to access their account details, view past transactions, track orders, and make changes to their profiles on their time without relying on customer support.

Self-service options foster trust

By providing a secure and personalized space for customers to engage with the brand, businesses can use online portals to foster a sense of exclusivity and strengthen their relationships. Customers feel valued and trusted when they can easily access relevant information and resources, and this positively influences their perceptions of the brand.

How do customer portals benefit businesses?

From a business perspective, customer portals contribute to operational efficiency. By enabling customers to perform self-service tasks on their own, internal stakeholders can streamline the support processes. You’ll also likely be able to put your money where it matters, as self-service in an online portal costs less than one-on-one back-and-forth with an agent.

You can also use information from your online portal to improve experiences and drive data-backed decisions. Incorporating analytics and reporting capabilities into your portal gives you rich insights into customer behavior, engagement levels, and portal performance. Learn more about leveraging data-driven insights to improve customer experiences.

Another important consideration is that effective customer portals can help craft an outstanding employee experience. When consumers are empowered to meet their needs, your agents feel less pressure. They aren’t dealing with monotonously repeated questions and are free to focus on more complex issues, which can undoubtedly be more engaging and fulfilling. 

And perhaps most importantly, a successful customer portal can enable growth and prepare for a profitable future. Your customer portal has the potential to become the central hub of your customers’ experiences. These self-service functions will meet consumer demands, lessen agent burden, and let you scale offerings as your business grows. 

Learn more about Tallwave’s Digital Experience Design Services.

What does it take to make a great customer experience portal?

With so many benefits and significant touch points, interactions with customer portals can be make-or-break moments in the CX journey. A great customer portal empowers your customer with a cohesive and engaging experience.

Eleven considerations for CX portal success

There’s a lot that goes into creating a great customer portal and best practices must be considered. Here are 11 essential features and factors that go into making a successful product:

  1. User-friendly interface: A well-designed and intuitive interface ensures customers can easily navigate the portal, find the necessary information, and perform desired actions without confusion.
  2. Secure authentication: Robust authentication mechanisms, such as two-factor authentication, help protect customer data and ensure only authorized individuals can access the portal.
  3. Personalization: Customizable dashboards, personalized recommendations, notifications, account support features, and tailored content based on users’ preferences enhance the user experience and make the portal more engaging.
  4. Self-service functionality: The ability for customers to independently perform tasks, such as updating information, accessing essential documents, managing subscriptions, and initiating support requests, reduces their reliance on customer support and improves efficiency.
  5. Communication support channels: Integrating communication channels — including chatbots, live chat, support ticket systems, or community forums — allows customers to interact with support teams directly and receive timely assistance.
  6. Mobile responsiveness: Nearly 80% of smartphone users have used their devices to make purchases, so ensuring your customer portal is mobile-responsive is crucial. It should adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes and provide an optimal experience across various devices.
  7. Foster feedback: A great customer portal fosters a feedback loop that you can use to improve your audience focus. You can see what topics get the most engagement and track other metrics to leverage data for future improvements with built-in user feedback mechanisms.
  8. Data enablement: The metrics you collect from customer portal interactions can help you retain customers, enhance customer experiences, and achieve sustainable growth even as the economy shifts. Additionally, reporting and data visualization within the portal make key information accessible to stakeholders.
  9. Accessibility: Your customers are diverse, and your portal should be inclusive and accessible. This involves considering factors such as color contrast, text size, and compatibility with assistive technology.
  10. Seamless integration: A successful customer portal should integrate smoothly with existing systems, like CRM platforms, e-commerce solutions, and support ticket systems to provide a seamless end-to-end experience for customers.
  11. Continuous iteration: Product design and development teams should adopt an iterative approach, gathering user feedback and monitoring portal performance to identify areas for improvement and make ongoing refinements to enhance the user experience.

Empower customers and enable growth with Tallwave

Customer portals have revolutionized how businesses interact with their customers, offering a range of self-service capabilities and personalized experiences. By understanding the significance of customer portals and incorporating essential features and elements, you can leverage your portal to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty, and long-term success.

Tallwave has hands-on experience creating customer-centric online portals that empower and delight. We apply a heuristic methodology to evaluate how consumers interact with digital products, like online portals, and through our iterative design process, turn our findings into a successful product that exceeds the expectations of internal and external stakeholders.


Ready to learn more about Tallwave and how we can enable your business’s growth? Let’s explore the opportunities together.

Categories
Strategy

Make Way for Mom: Why Better Employee Experiences for Working Mothers Is the New Competitive Advantage

The Women in the Workplace 2021 report from Lean In and McKinsey & Co. highlighted that all the slow but measurable gains women have made in all levels of management could be wiped out in a single year by the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on women in the workplace. In fact, the report finds that more than one in three women may downshift or leave their careers as a result. This impact is compounded for working mothers, particularly those with young children, who feel scrutinized for taking advantage of options that make balancing work and the demands of home and family easier and are less likely to feel comfortable sharing their personal struggles with others. 

More than one in three women may downshift or leave their careers as a result of the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on women in the workforce.

At Tallwave, we believe experience is everything. Employee and customer experiences are inextricably linked—great employee experience is a key driver of great customer experience. It’s impossible to sustain one without the other. Conversely, when companies create employment experiences that fail women, they’re setting themselves up to fail their customers. With women making up 51% of the overall population and 57.8% of the labor force, losing ground on female representation in the workplace could have devastating effects. The state of our female workforce hangs in the balance, and with it, the health of the companies that depend on their valuable contributions.

Also read: Crafting Employee Experiences That Improve Customer Experiences
 Here at Tallwave, 54% of our employees are women, which means more than half the work taken on by our company—and more than half of the value we create for clients—is in the hands of women. As a customer experience design company, it’s important for us to both reflect on the experiences we’re creating for the women among our own ranks and to serve as a thought leader for brands that recognize the unbreakable link between EX and CX. So we did something far too few companies do. We invited a group of working mothers at Tallwave to get together for a discussion facilitated by our VP of Marketing, a working mother of three herself, to share their perspectives on what’s working within employment experience for working mothers, what’s not, and the recommendations they have to help companies better support women. 

Create Space for Employees to Bring Their “Whole Selves” to Work

The idea of needing to give employees an invitation to be who they are at work may seem startling, but what we discovered from our group of Tallwave moms was that the ability to bring your “whole self” to work, including sharing the demands you face at home and the need to harmonize them with the demands of work, is not a given. For Martha Schulzinger, a program manager at Tallwave and mother of two, the ability to be her authentic self at work isn’t something she takes for granted. “Tallwave has proven time and time again that I can be my authentic self and I won’t be shunned for it. I’ve worked in some pretty toxic places where you can’t bring your whole self to work and it’s a constant struggle.” 

Her experience in an environment that embraces her entire identity, including the demands of motherhood, has also led to deeper bonds with colleagues and even clients who have seen her in “mom mode.”  “Being able to be your authentic self and knowing the people you work with aren’t going to judge you if you have a kid there with you in the room has been kind of magical. My teammates have seen my kids grow up. Even some of our clients have seen my three-month-old become a two-year-old. They’ve seen him grow as he’s come in and out of the screen, and that’s pretty neat.”

But Martha acknowledges that openly sharing the demands she’s juggling at home wasn’t necessarily something she was immediately willing to do, and she credits colleagues, particularly Senior Consultant and fellow mother of two, Erin Nielsen, with helping her find the courage to be more open about the challenges she faces as a working mom. “Erin has been a role model for me. In the very early days of the pandemic, she had her kids on camera and I was very afraid to do that. But she showed up like a total boss, just owning whatever it was that she needed to talk about. She was present, then the kids would come in, she’d handle them, and come right back to whatever she was doing without skipping a beat. And I was like, ‘Okay, I can do that, too.’ I’m really thankful to her for that.”  

For Erin, it was simply a question of what she was and wasn’t willing to sacrifice as the pandemic caused her personal and professional worlds to collide. “When I realized we weren’t going to be home for two weeks and then go back to the office, I took a step back and asked myself, ‘How do I want to act through this?’ I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my kids’ happiness and pretend they weren’t here so I could keep working. I don’t think I made a conscious decision to test my company, but I’m a mom first and I’m never going to not be.” She decided it wasn’t worth pretending her reality was anything other than it was. “I chose to be my authentic self. And if I got pushback or didn’t feel safe, then I’d know I wasn’t in the right place and that it was time to move on. And I found what I was hoping I’d find, which was a supportive group of people, which was really cool to see.”
Recommendation from the Moms: In both Martha’s and Erin’s cases, their decisions to stop trying to hide what was happening at home wasn’t inspired by overt assurances of support and acceptance, even though that’s ultimately what they found in their colleagues. So what’s the takeaway for companies trying to do better for moms? Don’t assume the mothers in your employ feel welcome to bring their whole selves to work if you haven’t made the invitation. If employees aren’t being explicitly encouraged to be open about how their personal lives impact work or at least seeing leadership model the choices they’re making to balance these often competing demands, they may assume they won’t be supported if they do.  

Know the Difference between Sympathy and Empathy and the Value of Both

While experiencing the sympathetic support of colleagues and managers was a common theme for all the Tallwave moms in our conversation, so was the desire for the kind of empathetic support that shared experience creates. Overwhelmingly, they felt genuinely supported by their direct managers. But in many cases, their direct managers had never been working mothers themselves. As working moms, they craved support from others who’d shared their experiences and they’ve been grateful to find it in other colleagues outside their direct reporting structures. Looking back on her professional experience prior to having children, Erin acknowledged the limitations of her own understanding. “You just don’t get it when you’re not a parent. I certainly didn’t get it, and I put my foot in my mouth plenty of times before I was a parent.” 

Experiential empathy creates deeper understanding, but it can also inspire hope. Many working mothers perceive their career goals, what it takes to achieve them, and how much they can afford to give as incompatible. But having access to other women who have grappled with the demands of working motherhood helps them challenge their own perceptions. This was especially meaningful for Sierra Dommin, Business Analysis Manager at Tallwave. “That statistic about more than one in three women putting their career aspirations on hold really spoke to me. I really want to take the next step in my career and it’s not that I don’t think I have that opportunity at Tallwave. It’s that I don’t feel like I can seize it right now because my kids are so young and I just don’t know how to balance it all. I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread. I feel like I have to just stick it out because adding another stressor to my plate will tip me, and my family will suffer. These two things that are both so important to me seem impossible to reconcile. It makes me feel stuck and it’s really frustrating.” But hearing the experiences of other working moms, particularly those who were further into their motherhood journeys, made her feel more optimistic. “Where I am with my kids and my career, just seeing someone else who’s been through it brings relief. Knowing that others have faced similar challenges and that they’re still here gives me hope.”
For working mothers, being fully present for your family and fully engaged in your family feel like binary choices. And no matter which you make, you end up on the losing end. For Martha, the cost of leaning into her career is guilt. “I’m so happy to be at Tallwave and to have challenges in front of me in my career. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. But every night I go to bed with so much guilt because I’m not present with my children. I work from home and they’re right here with me. They want me to play with them and I can’t because I’m working. I go to bed early so I can have a few hours of productive work time before the kids get up, so I’m mentally drained and too exhausted to do anything for myself.”
As Martha is quick to point out, it’s not that her colleagues aren’t supportive. Many simply don’t share her experience. “My coworkers are amazing and I love them. But there’s just no way for them to fully understand. In between meetings, maybe they refresh their cup of coffee but I’m changing blow-out diapers. As much as I want to give more to my work, I’m also giving so much at home that there’s just nothing left.” This strikes a chord with Erin, too. “I adore my coworkers, all of them. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how those who don’t have children have come to the table. But you just don’t get it if you’re not in it. Talking to other moms who have confronted the same things we’re facing—putting up boundaries, finding your own happiness, living through the endless juggle of work and family—these little nuggets go such a long way.”
Recommendation from the Moms: Access to other women striving to harmonize careers and families is an incredibly powerful tool for working mothers. Awareness of other working mothers—particularly those in leadership positions—improves visibility, empowering working moms to feel more seen, heard, and represented. The ability to discuss the shared experience of working motherhood helps working moms find support, seek advice, and draw inspiration. For working mothers whose direct supervisors don’t share their experience, it’s particularly important to provide other paths of access, like employee resource groups, mentorship programs, organized meet-ups, and discussion forums. 

Recognize that Making Work Better for Women Isn’t Women’s Work  

For women who are accustomed to serving as constant problem solvers on the home front, solutioning, actioning, and accommodating may come naturally. But far too often, companies are content to let working moms solve their workplace problems alone, starting with the transition from maternity leave.
While some of the mothers who participated in our conversation had employers who created comfortable places for new moms to pump, that was generally the extent of the effort their past companies put into helping them successfully navigate workforce re-entry. Reflecting on her returns to work after having her two children, Erin’s experience aligned to those of virtually everyone else on the call. “You come back and you’re stressed out and that never stops because you’re trying to figure out how to be a first-time mother, and then a mother of two or three or more on top of everything else. And it’s always on you to figure it out and you just don’t feel like there’s any support there. You’re expected to perform at the exact same level while you’re trying to find time to pump or nurse. You’re forced to start making choices between meeting work expectations and the expectations you had for how you’d care for your baby. And those forced choices never stop.”
As companies look to advance their goals and initiatives, supported in large part by working mothers, they rarely consider the personal impact of the work that working moms must take on. For Chelsey Gloetzner, Product Design Manager at Tallwave, she recognizes that fully embracing the work that excites her may come at a personal cost. “We have a lot of women in leadership, which is fantastic. As we’re pursuing large goals, a lot of moms are doing the work. I recognize my responsibilities in supporting our goals as a manager, and I’m pumped to do it. But I also don’t want to put in an extra two hours every single night to get projects over the line and miss my kids’ childhoods. As companies set goals, they need to recognize how the associated work trickles down to parents.”
As Erin is quick to note, the trickle-down responsibilities don’t just come from companies’ revenue and growth goals—culture-building initiatives are often disproportionately driven by women. In fact, the Women in the Workplace 2021 report finds that compared to men at the same level, female managers take more supportive actions with their teams, helping them manage workloads and keeping a pulse on their overall wellbeing. The report also finds that women in senior-level positions are twice as likely as male counterparts to spend substantial time beyond their normal job responsibilities on diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives. Throughout her career, Erin has seen not just women, but in many cases working mothers, step up to the plate more than their fair share. “Ensuring our teams are coming together, that people feel rewarded, that there’s a balance of face time and fun activities in our work and that company culture is being strengthened, all those types of activities that keep the ship afloat are often led by mothers because we care and naturally step up. But we can’t keep bearing the brunt of treating the office like our family. We have nothing else to give.”

Compared to men at the same level, female managers take more supportive actions with their teams, helping them manage workloads and keeping a pulse on their overall wellbeing. Women in senior-level positions are also twice as likely as male counterparts to spend substantial time beyond their normal job responsibilities on diversity, equality, and inclusion initiatives.

Recommendation from the Moms: With women making up well over half of the workforce, companies must recognize that every business decision they make will inevitably impact women. And for the working mothers among them, the impact may be much more difficult to absorb. It’s important to recognize that barriers to success for working mothers are barriers to success for their companies, and they should be treated that way. That means rather than leaving working mothers to fend for themselves in an inhospitable working environment, companies should be enlisting allyship from across their ranks to create an environment that better supports them. This can include things like:

  • Confronting gender bias head on. From addressing big-picture issues—like equal pay and advancement—to challenging common daily implicit biases by resisting an overreliance on women to fulfill administrative and culture-building duties, and addressing overt sexism in the moment, a better workplace for working mothers starts with a better workplace for women in general.     
  • Investing in allyship development programs to drive awareness of and support for women in general and working mothers especially.
  • Training managers in active listening and leadership techniques to better equip them to not just listen but to seek to understand what working mothers need to help them succeed in their careers. 
  • Considering the disproportionate burden of emotional labor that women face in company decision making. With women carrying greater responsibility for household chores and caretaking than men, scheduling meetings over lunch, allowing meetings to run late, or requiring sustained >40 hour work weeks will have a bigger impact on working mothers than their counterparts. 
  • Institutionalize support as much as possible and model utilization at the leadership level. Offering things like flexible work schedules, child care, parental leave, job sharing options, and parental leave reintegration support can go a long way toward creating a more hospitable environment for working mothers. Seeing those supports used by company leaders sends an even stronger message.
  • Actively advocate for moms transitioning back to work after maternity leave. The difference between passive support for new mothers to “take the time they need” and actively supporting them through formal programs and resources can be transformational for new mothers returning to work. Companies that know, attend to, and proactively advocate for the rights of working mothers under the Family & Medical Leave Act and Fair Labor Standards Act by helping them become more knowledgeable about their rights and having defined programs and/or policies in place for things like altered work schedules and appropriate pumping/nursing accommodations will be at a significant advantage in keeping working mothers engaged and retaining them over time. 

Final Thoughts

No company succeeds by leaving women behind. While that’s rarely the intent, it’s the inevitable result of not taking deliberate action. At Tallwave, creating an inclusive culture for all employees, including working mothers, has been an ongoing focus. Like most companies, we know we still have work to do. But the fact that this group of Tallwave moms felt safe sharing their experiences, perspectives, and recommendations openly wasn’t the result of simply inviting them to. This kind of open exchange is possible because we make deliberate choices to create an environment where employees feel safe speaking up. Maintaining this kind of culture takes conscious, continuous effort, but it’s an investment we know is well worth making.

Companies that create supportive, empowering employment experiences for working mothers not only unlock greater potential from their workforces than those that don’t, but they also unleash an incredibly diverse and powerful set of skills. After all, few experiences are as effective at developing the kind of patience, creativity, resourcefulness, problem solving, critical thinking, negotiation, diplomacy, tenacity, optimism, and commitment that motherhood requires. And few customers are as unreasonably demanding as children. By creating the conditions that help working mothers succeed in the workplace, companies just might discover that the key to unlocking their own potential has been there all along.

Special Thanks

Tallwave would like to thank the incredible working mothers below who shared their perspectives for this piece and all the women of Tallwave whose efforts are instrumental in our success and the success of our clients.

Caroline Meehean

Chelsey Gloetzner

Erin Nielsen

Jen Bonfilio

Jes Pumo

Martha Schulzinger

Sierra Dommin

Categories
Strategy

8 Signs Your CX May be Headed for Heartbreak

For consumers, strong CX is the universal love language. Nothing shows your customers you care like the ability to truly understand and attend to their needs. But as with any relationship, brands and their customers inevitably experience ups and downs. When there’s more of the latter than the former, customers will do what any of us would do in an unfulfilling relationship: they break it off. The good news is, there are almost always signs that can signal you and your customers may be headed for a breakup. The key is to recognize them so you can take action before your brand ends up in the lonely hearts club.

We recently attended a virtual conference with CX leaders from a wide range of market verticals and industries. Through every keynote, roundtable, and one-on-one discussion we had, we saw a consistent trend in how the indicators used to evaluate the strengths and opportunities within the customer experience are shifting. Traditional CX metrics like customer satisfaction and net promoter scores have long been used to provide a holistic read on customer engagement levels and how they change over time. But increasingly, CX leaders are recognizing that these traditional metrics are really lagging indicators – they highlight that a problem has already occurred, but offer limited utility when it comes to taking action.

How can CX leaders identify early when friction is occurring and take action before it translates to a hit to their holistic engagement metrics downstream? It’s all about narrowing focus to specific make-or-break moments within the customer experience and leveraging the operational metrics tied to those moments as leading indicators of the overall strength of the customer experience. Here are 8 signals of distress to look for at key CX make-or-break moments:

Moment of Consideration

Within the customer journey, the moment of recognition is the first time your product, brand or service registers and creates an impression with a potential customer. This often happens when a potential customer bumps into your brand out in the wild, whether they’re served an ad, read about you through earned media, learn about you from an influencer, or even hear about you through word of mouth. Whatever their path to exposure, the moment of consideration comes when that exposure connects to a consumer’s need and inspires them to consider the solutions you have to offer. What happens (or doesn’t happen) immediately following that moment can signal trouble:

  • Site Bounce Rate: Your bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website who leave without navigating beyond the page they land on. If you’ve been successful enough in that moment of recognition to inspire a prospective customer to take the action of visiting your website but the experience when they get there isn’t compelling enough to drive further consideration, it’s time to evaluate the strength of your CX in these early moments of the customer journey.
  • Winding Paths: There are many potential navigation paths through any given website. But paths that follow a logical sequence for consideration are fewer. If your path to conversion data shows that prospective customers seem to take the “scenic route” and miss key consideration content on your website, that can signal that prospective customers aren’t finding what they need.

Moment of Commitment

If you’ve made a positive impression on a prospective customer and inspired them to take action to actively consider your product or service as a solution to their need, the next make-or-break moment in the customer journey is the moment of commitment. This is the moment a consumer demonstrates real intent. But there are signs that can indicate barriers in customers’ paths:

  • Failure to Advance in Conversion Flows: For any digital experience, there are high-value actions you want consumers to take. Taking those actions often requires customers to complete multiple steps. If you’re seeing significantly high drop-off at one of these steps compared to the others, that can signal that the customer is encountering friction at that point in the process.
  • Cart Abandonment Rates: The act of putting a product into a cart is a big signal of purchase intent, but there are a number of reasons a customer might not complete the purchase process. If you’re seeing significant and persistently high cart abandonment rates, it likely signals friction in your purchase process.
  • Inconsistent Conversion Rates Across Platforms: Depending on the nature of the commitment you’re asking customers to make, you may see higher frequency of conversion on desktop vs. mobile or vice versa. However, when the rate of conversion varies drastically across platforms, it’s often a signal that customers are encountering friction on one platform that they aren’t on the other.

Moments of Doubt

Moments of doubt happen when a customer has a less-than-ideal experience. For any brand, it’s not a question of if this moment will come—it’s a question of when and what to do about it. For brands that think ahead and craft a strong CX to support these moments, these are golden opportunities to earn brand loyalty. These indicators can signal how well your brand holds up in moments of doubt:

  • Ineffective Call Deflection: Providing customers with effective digital means to resolve problems, either before or during a call for customer support, can be a win/win. It’s a more cost-effective way for brands to solve customer issues and it’s often faster and more convenient for customers. That is, unless the self-service options create a whole new set of problems. If customers deflected to digital self-serve channels are returning to the phone to get their issues resolved, this can signal friction in your self-service UX.
  • Inconsistencies in Inbound Support Requests: When you receive an inbound support request, something has already gone wrong in the eyes of the customer. When something goes wrong in the process of getting help, it doubles the frustration. If you’re seeing sudden spikes or drops in inbound support requests, that can signal an issue within your support systems, which could lead to failing customers not once, but twice.
  • Issue Resolution Time: When it comes to the time it takes to resolve customer issues, extremes are the enemy. Call times that are extremely short can signal that customers may be getting shortchanged by agents that are too eager to get off the phone. Conversely, call times that are too long can indicate that agents are running into trouble and aren’t able to resolve issues efficiently. Issue resolution time on either end of the spectrum can signal unresolved issues and unhappy customers.

BONUS

A classic signal of a struggling CX at any moment is good old fashioned customer feedback. If the experience you’re delivering isn’t living up to your customers’ expectations, they’ll talk about it to you, to their friends, and potentially to the world via social media and other public digital forums. 

Bottom Line

Once you’ve seen the signs from your customers that there’s trouble in paradise, what you do about it could mean the difference between making up and breaking up. A strong CX strategy could be just the therapy you need to keep your brand and your customer together. We’ve got the CX Enhancement Solutions you need to write your happily ever after.

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