Heidi Cohen interviews Dan Gingiss.
Heidi: To start, what inspired you to write this book?
Was it a specific event or did it grow out of your past consulting?
Dan: I had been collecting customer experience examples for years and wanted to share them all in one place. I found storytelling really inspires people to take action, which is the goal of the book.
For the book I created a simple methodology to organize all of the examples and ultimately teach readers how to create remarkable customer experiences at their own business.
Heidi: What do you want readers to take away from your book or how do you want them to be different as a result of reading it?
Dan: Competing on price is a loser’s game; it’s simply a race to the bottom.
Competing on product is becoming harder and harder as even the most innovative companies get copied.
And the good news is:
Any business can compete on customer experience.
When we focus our attention and marketing dollars on our existing customers—the ones who actually paying the bills—we can get them to become our best salespeople. That’s the power of a remarkable customer experience.
Heidi: At the heart of The Experience Maker is your WISE(R) Model. How did you come up with your WISE model? What specific work experiences inspired you?
Dan: WISER stands for Witty, Immersive, Shareable, Extraordinary, and Responsive. The first four letters (WISE) are the methods successful companies use to create “remarkable” experiences—literally, worthy of remark.
You don’t have to use all 4 of the elements, but every element can contribute to making average experiences more memorable. Once you create those memorable experiences that your customers can’t help but share, you then need to join the online conversation, which is being Responsive.
Heidi: I love that you show how transforming the customer experience can yield measurable results in terms of increased sales and lower costs. Even better, you start by discussing ROI (aka: Return-On-Investment) on page 10 of The Experience Maker.
By contrast, since customer experience (aka: CX) depends on soft factors, many marketers use less tangible metrics.
At what point in your career did you realize that you needed to make the business case for CX in terms of trackable numbers? What can readers do to show measurable results for their businesses?
Dan: I argue that CX is not a “soft skill” at all, and therefore it shouldn’t depend on soft metrics.
I always advise my coaching clients to focus on the financial metrics that executives care about if you want to get their attention. I learned this while leading several social media teams in Corporate America. Likes and followers and retweets may be fun to brag about, but if an executive doesn’t see the connection to profits then he or she won’t really care.
Heidi: What can readers do to show measurable results for their businesses?
Dan: Focus on cost savings and revenue generation. For example:
- Every time you help a customer self-serve or prevent a pain point from surfacing, you save a call to the contact center. The number of calls per year x the average cost per call = a big total cost savings for the company.
- When customers feel they’re treated well by your company, they stay longer and spend more. Look at the average tenure of customers and track how that improves over time. Multiply that by the average revenue per customer per month to show total incremental revenue to the business.
- Customers who enjoy remarkable experiences will share them with others, becoming your company’s best salespeople. Your referral rate and/or incremental new sales multiplied by the lifetime value of a customer shows total incremental revenue.
Heidi: I agree with you regarding the importance of customer service and IVA (Intelligent Voice Assistants including IVRs and chat) to the total customer experience. The caveat is that businesses must allow prospects and customers to talk to a real person when, where and how they need them. This includes the endless IVR branching that leaves callers pushing every button and shouting “Human”.
Research by McKinsey (October 14, 2020) shows that B2B customers use digital formats, most notably video conferencing and chat, at every step of the buying process.
And, marketers pay attention since this includes sales of $50,000 to $1+million.
Dan: I try to stay brand agnostic when it comes to tools, but companies should not look at artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots as potential replacements to human interaction. Instead, look at them as complements.
They can help customers to:
- Get to where they’re going faster, and
- help agents acquire needed information faster so they can spend more time serving customers.
To track results, I also recommend:
- Voice of the Customer (VOC), text analytics, and social listening tools to get a clearer understanding of what customers want and how they are using your products and services.
Heidi: How has your perspective about how businesses deliver customer experiences to delight people in the post-pandemic period changed? BTW, I refer to this period as post-Seismic Marketing Shift. (Here’s the full description of the Seismic Shift in Marketing.)
Dan: The pandemic changed everything, and it shined an even brighter light on customer experience.
Customers flocked to companies that were there for them when times were rough, and switched away from companies that weren’t.
You must remember that switching costs today in almost every industry are incredibly low, so customers aren’t afraid to leave your business for your competition if they don’t get the experience they expect!
Specifically, the pandemic brought 3 key issues to the forefront:
- Business continuity planning (BCP): This is still a relatively new practice, but it’s a good bet that every company will take it more seriously going forward. In fact, I predict that BCP experts will be in high demand for several years, as companies attempt to shore up risk and prepare for whatever lies ahead. Too many many companies were woefully unprepared for supply chain shortages, employees working from home, statewide shutdowns, and other challenges.
- Safety has long been a core human need. With rampant fears about the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, safety once again returned to the forefront of people’s minds. And, it will likely remain so for a long time. So you must consider it as an important part of the customer and employee experience going forward. Simply put, customers will not buy from companies when they don’t feel safe (based on how they define safety). Also, employees won’t work for companies that don’t provide a safe work environment.
- Digital: Many companies reported completing digital projects in record time during the pandemic. In the process, they changed the perception how long it takes to innovate. Many customers, especially in older generations, moved to digital out of necessity but will stay out of convenience.
Heidi: What are 3 books on marketing or business you would recommend that our readers check out? Why did you like each of these books? How did they inspire or influence your work/career?
- They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan is a must for any company struggling to create content or with sales or service teams that are answering the same questions over and over again. I have used this book with clients and have recommended it to hundreds of people over the years.
- Never Lose A Customer Again by Joey Coleman outlines the importance of the first 100 days of a customer’s experience with a company, and how critical that time period is to keeping them for a long time or losing them way too early.
- What Your Customer Wants And Can’t Tell You by Melina Palmer explores behavioral economics and the psychology behind why people buy. It’s a fascinating look at human behavior that can, ethically, be “nudged” toward the results businesses want.
Heidi: What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your life or career?
Dan: In Corporate America, I felt that my skill set wasn’t valued as much as I thought it should have been. For example, I was consistently known as a great people leader, and yet it was often the poor people leaders that got promoted. I also didn’t like playing politics; I always thought that putting your head down and delivering results should speak for itself.
So what did I do?
After 20+ years I stopped working for The Man and started working for The Dan! I now realize how much I over-indexed on salary, bonus, title, and other tangible benefits and under-indexed on the equally important intangibles: job satisfaction, happiness, and mental health.
Heidi: What’s something unusual or fun that most people don’t know about you?
Dan: I got to sing the National Anthem at three Major League Baseball stadiums as part of a business school a cappella group called The Bottom Line. We sang at Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park (now Guaranteed Rate Field) in Chicago and Miller Park (now American Family Field) in Milwaukee.
Heidi: Thanks Dan!
Name: Dan Gingiss
Company: The Experience Maker
Other book(s): Winning at Social Customer Care
Twitter handle: @dgingiss
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