CX and EX Insights From the Trenches

CX and EX Insights From the Trenches

The Gist

  • Employee happiness. A positive workplace culture and happy employees can greatly impact the customer experience.
  • Exceeding expectations. Delivering a positive customer experience is not only about having a good-looking website or a great product, but is also about exceeding customer expectations.
  • Human being, please. The use of chatbots and AI in customer service can be helpful for certain tasks, but it’s important to provide customers with the option of speaking to a live agent for more complex issues.
  • The good old days. The power of invoking nostalgia in branding to create emotional connections with customers can lead to strong brand loyalty and customer retention.
  • Community and empathy. Creating a sense of community and empathy in customer experience is vital; brands can foster this through their products and interactions with customers.

While positive employee experiences can enhance customer experiences, negative employee experiences can have the opposite effect. A famous SNL sketch parodies the frustrating experience of trying to cancel cable service, with a customer being repeatedly put on hold, transferred to different departments and subjected to aggressive sales tactics from customer retention specialists.

The sketch highlights the all-too-common problem of customer service employees who are not engaged or motivated to provide good service, resulting in a negative customer experience. To avoid this scenario, businesses need to prioritize employee engagement and create a positive workplace culture to ensure that employees are motivated to deliver exceptional customer service.

CMSWire Contributors Nichole Devolites, principal consultant of LYSI Holding Company and Justin Racine, director and lead commerce strategist at Perficient, emphasize this point and provide real-life examples to illustrate the impact of positive workplace cultures on customer experiences in this CX Decoded podcast. They also discuss the use of chatbots and artificial intelligence, the power of invoking nostalgia in branding and creating a sense of community in the customer experience.

You can take a look at their previous columns here: Justin Racine and Nichole Devolites. 

Editor’s note: This transcript was edited for clarity.

Dom Nicastro: Hello, everybody, again, Dom Nicastro, managing editor from CMSWire, super jacked and psyched today about today’s show, we got a couple of CMSWire contributors on the line, now who are the contributors for CMSWire. They don’t work for us, but they write for us and they do a lot for us and these two here. You know, I think it’s fair to say they’re in the GOAT conversation for CMSWire contributors, they were named CMSWire Contributors of the Year for 2022. And here we are in 2023. They’re already contributing more content, and our contributors are awesome. They just contribute from the field, talking about CX issues, marketing, and we love it. And these two are going to talk about some personal experiences they’ve had as consumers, and how that relates to the business world and how we can do better basically in CX. So it’s great to have them on, and I’m going to introduce each of them individually. First up, Nichole Devolites principal consultant of LYSI Holding Company. Nichole, what’s up?

Nichole: Hi, Dom, thanks so much for having me.

Dom: It is a pleasure to have you and new in 2022 for contributor content, and we appreciate it more than you can know. Thank you.

Nichole: Yeah, it’s so much fun doing these things for you guys.

Dom: Her co-guest is going to be Justin Racine, director and lead commerce strategist at Perficient. What’s going on Justin?

Justin: Hey, Dom, how are you? Thanks for having me on here. Looking forward to having a spirited conversation here today.

Dom: We are, there’s gonna be all kinds of spirit going on here today for sure.

Justin: That’s right. That’s right.

Dom: Yeah, the day this recording is Valentine’s Day. So if I sound extra giddy, just excuse me, it’s my favorite holiday of all time. I’m just so into it. So bear with me. Nichole, let’s start with you with just an introduction, what you’re all about. And I know you were in your past world before you were a consultant, you were a CX practitioner, a CX leader.

Nichole: Yeah, I’ve actually spent the last 10 years in the CX world developing all sorts of customer programs. And now you know, I’m very blessed to be able to consult and help multiple companies really beef up their customer journey — and in some cases, start out their customer journey. And I just feel like this industry is growing. It’s been so much fun and so exciting to bring my personal experiences into it, and just see everybody thrive in this space.

Dom: Yeah. And your role seems like it’s perfect now because you have that combination of, hey, I used to practice this and do it like you. And I’m also happy to be a consumer of things. So I see things now a lot clearer. So good vantage point for you. And Justin, at Perficient, you know, longtime CMSWire contributor, thank you again, let’s bring our listeners up to speed on what your focus area is now in your role and how you got there?

Justin: Sure, yeah. Well, I’m sort of a lifelong ecommerce and customer experience veteran, I’ll say, since I graduated college, it’s kind of been the space that I’ve operated in. But yeah, I really focus in on customer experience with the clients that we work with, obviously, but more so just really kind of honed in on the experiences that we all as consumers have in our daily lives and how we can have relatable pieces of information that brands can take away. And if you pay attention in your daily life, there’s tons of things that you can learn and apply to what you’re working on or your personal life. So that’s kind of the perspective I try to take with my articles at CMSWire. And I think brands should definitely look at that as well, too.

Positive Workplace Cultures and the Impact on CX

Dom: Yeah, and that’s why each of you here today, thought you were the perfect combination of using those personal experiences and living them, breathing them and remembering them and writing about them. So it’s like a great formula. And there’s lessons learned for CX leaders who read So that’s what we’re gonna do today, we’re gonna talk about some of the articles you guys have written — and some key lessons learned. So we’ll start off with Nichole, and Justin feel free to pipe in after she kind of gives us the lay of the land with what she was going for — the first one, Nichole was talking about Customer Experience Meets Community Experience, and I believe this happened overseas. I know you’re like a seasoned traveler, you make me jealous, jealous of all the articles you write about your travel adventures, but in the travel adventures, you get some huge, huge CX takeaways. So what was this one about?

Nichole: Yeah, so my other half and I we were traveling through Scotland, and Scotland — if anybody’s been there — knows that hospitality is huge there. They’re just the kindest people. and I’ve had a few really positive experiences, but one that’s always really stuck out to both of us actually. And it’s it’s prompting us to go back in 2024 to make a pit stop in Edinburgh is this Michelin star restaurant that we went to that’s in a bed and breakfast. 

And you would think, of course, you know, it’s Michelin star, it should have great service. And actually, that’s not always the case. This is very much is about Scottish tradition. And, but it’s more than that. It’s — we start talking to the host, he’s a fantastic guy. And I asked him, you know, what got you into the hospitality industry, just even at the start, nevermind the fact that it’s a restaurant. And he said that he loves the owner, that the owners had other restaurant locations, they’re different concepts, they all sit within these very small boutique bed and breakfasts. And he just loved how he was treated or has been treated, he’s still there, by the owner of these concepts. 

And as we started to discuss more about it, he started talking about how he started out at you know, another location, and couldn’t wait until a position had opened at the restaurant that we were at because the staff just loves working there. The team loves working there, the team loves each other, the team loves the owner. And so the takeaway for me from this was, you know, CX isn’t just about what we provide out to the customer. It’s what we provide each other as employees, co-workers, whatever you want to call it, and how that’s going to reverberate out to the customer. 

And so when you see someone so happy to be working for a place, it becomes part of the customer experience. And for us, I mean, it was so memorable, the staff was so incredible, we could have had the worst food in the world, and we still would have come back. I mean, the food was fantastic, but but we would have come back. And it’s it’s just because of that energy that was radiating from them. And that positivity that I think we take for granted in our daily working lives and the people that we work with and manage.

Related Article: The Importance of Positive Emotional Connections With Customers 

CX and EX Metrics Should Be Combined for More Comprehensive Insights

Dom: That brings up a point of EX meeting CX, right, we always talk about it, we’ve had editorial themes about it, employee experience meets customer experience. And it’s so easy to say, and you’re showing us an example of an actually in action. And for that industry, too, service to actually be inspired by your team. Love your boss. That’s rare, isn’t it? Right? In that kind of industry? Because it’s like a ruthless industry, with customers in your face all day. Justin, are you seeing that in any of your experiences with organizations like the importance of employee experiences? Does it come up in like these gigs, where you’re talking to companies and CX leaders, or they talk about employee experience a lot?

Justin: Yeah, absolutely — 100%. It’s one of the emerging areas that we’re seeing our clients focus on this year to all the points that Nichole had just alluded to, you know, I mean, when you have an employee, and I think I wrote an article about this last year, I think it was Walmart or somewhere else where …

Dom: Oh, that Justin was his name, maybe … no no. That’s your name. What was the name of the employee, Scott? I forgot.

Justin: Chris. Be Like Chris.

Dom: Chris, right.

Justin: But at any rate, it’s totally true. And Nichole’s story is a perfect example of that, where when you see employees who are so passionate about what they do day in and day out, it inspires you to want to come back and be a part of that experience because it’s like, Hey, look at this guy. He’s over here. He’s running around, but he’s having the time of his life. And you know what, it enhances the experiences that we have, as customers at that restaurant, and makes us want to come back and get to know more about that person and who he is and what his story is, and how he got to the spot, and what his real true drivers are behind that passion. 

And if you can tap into that, as a brand, the ROI metrics can be through the roof, right? Because that’s how you develop positive customer loyalty. And you keep people coming back. It’s because of the employees that you have within your business and empowering them to be spokespeople and also interact with customers is just a no brainer in 2023. 

Dom: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about metrics. I think we need a metric for the two like a combined metric. I know there’s eNPS and then regular NPS, CSAT and all that. Nichole, is there any employee experience meets CX metric? I don’t think so yet. 

Nichole: Yeah, no, I don’t think there’s a combined one. I mean, I think the closest you can probably get as a CSAT score, right, that would at least give a little bit of an indication as to how the employees are feeling, right, within their organization and how much they enjoy working there. But no, I don’t think there’s a combined one.

Dom: Yeah. Because you wonder, right? Does Netflix have a great employee experience? And does Amazon because, you know, their customer experience is through the roof. It’s awesome. Right? It’s easy, it’s easy to use, and tools are great. But you wonder if they look at that closely, EX, right?

Justin: They should and I would imagine that they are because they’re somewhat you know, will say that they’re their quote unquote leaders in the CX space which can be debated right. I think in some areas they are and other areas they’re not but they definitely should be tracking that because not only is it important for employees to be passionate and excited and be good at what they are doing because that helps the right customers convert, which is important, but what is the value? Or what is the cost of trying to rehire an employee that is as passionate as the folks that you have today. And that cost can be massively higher than you’d want it to be right. 

So you don’t want to let the folks go that you have that are passionate about your brand, and it comes in, you know, you have to kind of take that into account and make sure you’re constantly taking care of the folks that are servicing your customers, in addition to taking care of your customers. So the pendulum swings both ways. You kind of have to try to find the balance, but you really need to make sure that both customers and employees are having good experiences at the same time.

Good or Bad, Customers Remember How They Were Treated

Dom: All right. CMSWire contributor article number two up for discussion. This one’s Justin’s — The Customer Experience Secret Amazon Doesn’t Want You to Know About — what a leading, intriguing title there that that editors just love. Thank you, Justin. So what’s this one about?

Justin: This is a great story. So a few years back, I think it was either last year or the year before I was attending a New Year’s Eve event down here in Austin, Texas, that was put on by some of my friends who I actually mentioned in an article that went live today. And the theme of the event was like a gold and black sort of New Year’s Eve party. And I needed a gold velvet jacket. Right? Which is, you know ..

Dom: That’s what I’m wearing right now. 

Justin: Pretty stylish, right? Exactly. So of course, like any good consumer, I turned to the internet and Google and tried to find the best gold jacket that’s out there that’s velvet, which is somewhat unique. 

And sure enough, I found a few different websites that I might venture to say are a little bit more than sketchy and decided that I found a jacket that was perfect. It was nothing like I’d ever seen before. I said this is going to go great with my outfit. I’m going to crush it on the dance floor for New Year’s Eve, order the jacket on the site, right and had no indication that there was any stock issues. It said it was in stock, order was placed, great. 

And come to find out a few days later — I didn’t receive any sort of order update or FedEx or UPS tracking number. And I said, What the heck’s going on here? Where’s my gold jacket? And sure enough, I reached out — I had to proactively reach out to this business. And they said, Oh, we don’t have that jacket anymore. I said, Okay, well, why is it on your site? And why does it say that it’s in stock? And they couldn’t give me an answer. 

Long story short, I only had three or four days to find another gold velvet jacket to purchase and ultimately turned to Amazon, which of course, you know, their reliability and inventory is always 99%. It’s good, right? There’s some occasions where you don’t receive things, but for the most part, they’re very good, especially if you’re Prime. So I ended up having to order the jacket through Amazon, it arrived on time, I crushed it on the dance floor, of course, right? 

Dom: Well, we don’t know that we didn’t see it. 

Justin: Okay, all right. That’s true. There might be video evidence out there somewhere. But we’ll, we’ll leave that for another day. But the moral of the story is that I don’t even remember the name of the company that I started this search with and I placed the order with. In fact, that I left my mind as quickly as possible because I’ve never wanted to purchase with them again because they didn’t exceed my expectations. 

I went to the site, it looked a little sketchy, but it said that the product was in stock, it would ship same day, and I would receive it in two, three business days. Fine. However, after I placed the order, no proactive reach out, didn’t have any sort of order status update, and I had to resort to finding it on Amazon. 

So the moral of the story is that the real secret that Amazon has is their product detail pages haven’t changed in like 15 or 20 years. They all look the same. But they’re so good at inventory management and order management, you know, you’re going to get what you place when they say that you’re going to get it in most cases they exceed that expectation.

And that is a big reason why people go and shop on Amazon. It’s not because the site looks good, which is what we typically think about with good customer experience or good experience design, right? It’s because of how they’ve set their business up and how they exceed delivery expectations.

Dom: Yeah. And now folks, we have these two parables, I guess I’ll call them these two little tales from each contributor here are spot on because Nichole’s was a good experience. And here she is months and months later, still talking about it. Justin’s was a bad experience. And here he is, months and months talking about it. 

So the point being, we remember how we are treated. That’s what being a human is. Nichole, customer experience leaders — do enough of them recognize this, that how the experience is how you are treated. And I think you’re gonna talk about this a little later, like showing just a little bit of decency. You know, these experiences are just hammering this point home of you remember how you were treated?

Meeting Customer Expectations Is Crucial for Success

Nichole: Yeah. And you know, I think as CX leaders individually, I can’t speak for everybody but individually. We all want a great human experience. Right? I think when it comes to specific organizations and how they perceive customer experience, you start to get a lot of other opinions in the room that start to dictate the direction that a customer experience journey is going to go in a lot of times, and I mean, this is a departure from every single experience I’ve had. 

There have been times where they’ve tried to influence me, I say they, previous organizations have tried to influence me on how I run programs. And as a CX leader, yes, you have to satisfy a lot of different people. But ultimately, you’re kind of the linchpin for how well revenue could go, how well recurring revenue is going to go, right. It just, there’s so much that’s riding on it that I think a lot of people forget about, a lot of times people see numbers and they go great, we’re not hitting our numbers, you need to send out more emails, well, that’s probably the last thing you need to do. 

And that’s just an example. But it’s that panic mode. And us as CX leaders have to kind of remain in this space, of being calm, trusting what we’re doing, trusting that as humans, we know what we’re doing. And that it’s ultimately going to lead to positive outcomes. 

And what you’ve alluded to actually, with another experience, which I’m sure we’ll get to is what happens when the customer ends up providing that experience. And that’s like the best thing a CX leader could actually be a part of right, because then all of a sudden, people are creating their own great experiences from something that you might not have been able to create for them. So it’s just a fascinating thing. 

It’s why I always write about the human aspect of things, because that is the most important. I’ve had things go horribly wrong when it wasn’t human to human contact. And I’ve had amazing experiences when humans were involved. So, you know, we all need to kind of keep that in mind as leaders that we’re all humans doing human things in this world. And we all need to treat each other as such.

Dom: Justin, I want to get back to you on that specific issue, the breakdown of that company had because you deal with this a lot in the commerce space. What happened? Like, why does this happen? Because to me, that’s like the magic moment, someone gave you money. And you just abandon the ship. After that, like, how does that happen? What in your experience is the most common breakdowns that these commerce leaders the CX leaders have?

Yeah, it’s a great point. And I think it really kind of starts with brands, who maybe aren’t as mature, who are looking to kind of move into the space and sell their gold jackets, for lack of better terminology, right. And they might have really great gold jackets, and it might be their specialty, maybe they’re in a few locations throughout the country, right. But they’re not set up with an infrastructure that is conducive of supporting a good customer experience, i.e., if someone walks into their store, let’s say that they’re based in California, sure, they can deliver a great experience, they see the gold jacket that’s on the shelf, they can try it on, someone can walk out great. 

But you know, that’s only one aspect of their business, you know, you talk about truly being omnichannel with customer experience, you have to be in all the channels that customers are, but you also have to exceed the expectation. So if you’re going to build an ecommerce website, and look to sell throughout the entire country, you have to be able to meet expectations of other competitors.

And even though you might be a local shop in California, you’re still going to compete against Amazon. So you have to make sure that your experience is up to par with what the goliaths out there are doing. And I think that’s what happens quite a bit is you have people who make really great products, really great gold jackets, but they don’t have the business set up in a way that’s conducive to what they’re trying to achieve on a larger scale. 

And that’s where you can get into trouble. Because you’re trying to do too much too soon. You should focus in on building what your business is within your geography and then taking the proactive steps to invest in things like an order management system or other pieces of technology that will allow you to exceed customer expectations as you sell on a broader scale.

Dom: Kind of walking the walk of what your content promises. 

Justin: Exactly. 

Dom: They promised you a gold jacket. You found it. They were great at discoverability. You were ready to rock, never got to you, crazy. 

Justin: Yep. 

The Importance of Human Interaction in Customer Service

Dom: Let’s go to the next article. And that’s from Nichole. In this one. I’m just gonna throw out a timespan here. And then Nichole, you chime in? So here’s the deal, as Joe Biden would say, 23 Minutes, 4 Seconds. What was that about?

Nichole: So I was canceling my internet, which I think everybody could probably sympathize with, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. But this particular company had used chat only — they got rid of their phone numbers.

Dom: Ah, channel forcing— channel forcing. 

Nichole: Absolutely. And look, I always say I see both sides, right. I see the side where you’ve got record of the conversation, you’ve got receipt that it’s been cancelled or whatever the transaction is. And if something goes really wrong, right, that record’s there. The other side of it is we’re not training people to do this correctly. And so what I mean by that is my experience was great. Gotta cancel it. Click on cancellation, it said, opens an instant messenger box. 

And I’m going, Oh, great. This is exactly what I needed today. Because to me, it sounds weird, but I’d rather have my phone next to me on hold with the hold music, which you know if anybody that saw that Budweiser commercial, I think Dom had it on LinkedIn, it was great, wasn’t it? I’d rather listen to that, and wait and talk to someone live and get it done quickly. I know that sounds kind of weird considering the fact that you’re waiting longer probably than using a chat. 

Dom: No, I like it, to jump in. I love waiting. No, I don’t love waiting on hold. I don’t mind because I can do world during it. I have to work. If I have to do the chat, you know. 

Nichole: It’s a constant fear of Oh, my God, did I close the window? Am I over, I mean, there’s so many unknowns. But the thing that’s really unfortunate, and you’re seeing more companies do this is like I said, the staff isn’t being trained properly. So they very much and I’ve had several experiences, this was probably one of the worst, where it seemed like I was texting with somebody. And the problem that comes along with that is that it’s very informal. Things go missing the article that I wrote, I think this was the one that was just posted last week talked about the fact that there were typos, he was chatting with me or he was typing while I was trying to type out my statement, he wasn’t paying attention to my request, meaning that all of a sudden, I can tell there was a chatbot that was semi-involved that said, Okay, click cancellation if that’s what the customer is asking for. But he must have clicked something else. Because all of a sudden, he’s asked me questions as though I’m starting up service. 

And it wasted 23 minutes and four seconds of my time, when I could have been doing other work while on hold and had the requests completed more efficiently that way than having to go through this I am and only focus on that for that amount of time. 

Chat-Only Customer Service: A Cost-Saving Measure or a Recipe for Frustration?

Dom: So clearly, that’s far too long to cancel your subscription, that should actually be a one call to action. And they should say You sure you’re like, yep. See you later. And the whole chatbot thing and I’ll bring Justin in because obviously generative AI has taken off the last three months. And we need a CX leaders to nail this. And we need to capitalize on it in a good way. So what’s your take right now, as we stand here with chatbots and customer experience, Justin, are you looking heavily into those experiences right now?

Justin: You know, they’ve been around for a while. And Nichole’s story is a perfect example of where they can go sideways. So chatbots and AI are great for certain elements. But when someone wants to speak with an actual agent live, you have to give them what they want. And as much as you try to force them through the process, because maybe you don’t have people who are ready to take those calls, or for whatever reason it might be, it still is not conducive to what customers are looking to do. And at the end of the day, that’s the goal, right? 

So yeah, they are important, they can service some areas, right? Like, if you want to check on your order status, you can put your order number into a chatbot. And it can provide details, right. 

But when you need more complex things done, like Nichole’s story, it becomes more and more challenging. And having you know, an actual person to be intervened into that and actually have the historical tribal knowledge of the conversation that’s already taken place is just a process plan that needs to happen better internally at that organization. But they do serve a purpose, they can be the frontline defense for customer issues. 

Source link