“This reminds me of something my mother used to say,” Frannie Matthews, Colorado Technology Association CEO and emcee of the day’s event, said, “If you’re coasting, you’re going downhill.”
The Colorado Technology Association hosted its quarterly Insight Series on August 25th, which RevGen Partners was delighted to sponsor. Our own Director of Customer Experience (CX), Jen Walsh, gave the keynote talk: How Data and Technology are Improving Customer Experience.
In it, she emphasized how customers’ increased expectations lower the perceived value of experiences. That is, unless an organization is actively working to improve that experience.
Understanding which moments truly matter to customers, Jen continued, and then exceeding expectations on them, will cement both customer stickiness — their willingness to purchase more than once based on a transactional value — and customer loyalty, the emotional value attached to their relationship with the company.
Achieving this difficult task, she said, requires both actionable data and cutting-edge technology. A service blueprint, a tool that notes frontline and backstage actions and owners, can help companies understand their gaps and where changes are necessary.
One of the most foundational areas to improving CX is often one of the most forgotten — driving team capabilities and the employee experience.
She flashed a statistic that had the crowd of professionals murmuring in surprise: Companies with engaged employees outperform the competition by 147%.
The panel of experts agreed technology is vital to bolstering this foundation.
“We have a formula,” Matt Schwartz, Chief Technology Officer at Sage Hospitality said, “Empathy plus Execution plus Empowerment.”
Technology, he continued, is an enabler and enhancer for employees to deliver on all three aspects.
Mara Castro, SVP of Customer Experience at Evolve, nodded along. At Evolve, she said, one of the biggest uses of data is helping to identify and prioritize the moments that matter. This, too, helps the employees provide better experiences.
COVID-19 brought about several changes to both the customer and employee experience, Chris Sansone, VP of CX Transformation at DISH Network, added. Beyond moving to primarily remote work, DISH’s processes became leaner. Now, she said, one of her biggest challenges was moving from “survival mode” back into a culture of creativity — one that’s not afraid to fail fast.
She continued, saying that finding the right technology partners is crucial to meeting that goal. A partner must understand your company’s roadmap and ultimate vision. “It’s tech, but it’s about communication and building relationships.”
Much of the conversation revolved around that concept.
“We like the Maya Angelou quote,” Matt said, “‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’”
“Happiness,” Mara added, echoing Jen’s point about perceived value, “is reality minus expectation.”
Evolve’s goal, she continued, is to create amazing moments by making their customers feel seen and heard, and their technology investments must be aligned with that purpose. Then, from an employee experience side, it is critical to understand how implementing that new technology would impact the entire organization and the customer journey.
“Beware of a solution looking for a problem,” Matt agreed.
The key, Jen noted, was having a concrete vision for CX strategy that includes a roadmap for data and technology, with built-in metrics and goals. The plan needs support at the very top and must be communicated widely. That sets the expectations that everyone, from frontline workers to the CEO, is accountable for customer experience.
At the end of the day, however, good CX can be boiled down to one word that came up several times during both the keynote and the panel’s discussion.
“Empathy,” Jen repeated. “When we think about creating an optimized customer experience, the fundamental layers are rich customer data, continually advancing technologies, and empathy.”
RevGen would like to thank the Colorado Technology Association for being such a wonderful host and Mara, Matt, and Chris for bringing their expertise to the lively and insightful discussion.
Jeniffer Walsh is the Director of Customer Experience. She specializes in CX transformation, digital optimization, and Artificial Intelligence technologies for growth.
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