Most of the advice I get from the smartest leaders is through podcast interviews, and on my podcast The Modern Customer some of the most customer-centric leaders have shared their insights and proven methods with me. I wanted to share their insights with you.
To be the best, you have to learn from the best. Here are 10 best practices and pieces of advice from customer experience leaders:
1. Leverage cross-functional teams.
– Alicia Walters, CMO at Crate & Barrel
“I feel strongly that marketing teams should talk to people from other functions who are innovators. I’ve even pulled people from sister brands within the portfolio to give us a fresh perspective. It’s about getting a cross-functional team together. We also integrate our social and customer service teams as true voices of the customer. That’s the first place we go for weekly and daily reviews to look at comments, understand feedback, and leverage them to share brand messages.
2. Focus on what customers care about.
– Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, CMO at DoorDash:
“What helps us communicate and focus is to boil it down to a simple thing: How can we help right now? What do Dashers care about? If you can keep bringing it back to customer needs, particularly in an environment where the world is changing around all of us, chances are you’re going to have the right answer. We found those types of questions to be a really useful communication device because everyone could go back to that, understand what they were hearing from their customers, and then act accordingly.”
3. Be on the ground.
– Tricia Griffith, CEO at Progressive Insurance:
“Listen to the compliments and the complaints. Take them seriously. Be out and about. Every year, I’m on the phone with our call centers or in a car with a claims rep to understand their jobs and how we can make things easier for them, which will make things easier for our customers. Leaders should be on the ground. Don’t just sit up in your office and think things are going well or that you don’t need to question things. When you’re part of a process change, it’s easy to think things are going well. But every CEO should question everything, especially if they were part of the decision.”
4. Treat customers like friends.
– Ali Bonar, CEO and Co-founder at Oat Haus
“Treat your customers like they’re your friends, talk to them like you’re talking to your friends on social. Act as though you’re an influencer, don’t act like a brand. Don’t try to sell things to people 24/7. People who feel like they’re friends with you as a brand and connect with you in that way will want to buy whatever you represent. We try to be personal and a non-brand brand, just really vulnerable and authentic.”
5. Think like a Chief Customer Officer.
– Donna Morris, Chief People Officer at Walmart
“I think if we all have the lens of being a Chief Customer Officer, we do more to unlock the potential for our business. Similarly, I’d love for all of our people to think like a Chief People Officer because they’d be focused on creating the environment that allows us to attract, engage, develop, and retain the best associates or employees. If our own associates don’t have a great online or in-store experience here at Walmart, how can we expect those who don’t receive a paycheck from us to think of it as a great experience?”
6. Retain existing customers.
– Frank Boulbon, Chief Revenue Officer at Verizon
“It’s more important to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones because it’s more expensive to acquire new ones to replace the ones who have left. So how do you keep the customers who are already with you? It’s by delivering a great experience on the product. And for that, it’s very important for the Chief Revenue Officer to have a voice, if not the primary voice, in setting the priorities in terms of customer experience. I want the touch point experience to be seamless across channels.”
7. Be hypothesis-driven.
– Emily Essner, Chief Marketing Officer at Saks
“Sometimes it feels overwhelming because there’s just so much data available. Our team takes a hypothesis-driven approach. We’re very focused on the lifetime value of our customers and understanding what drives a customer’s lifetime value and the actions we can take to improve it. But marketers need to understand that no one metric alone will be a determining factor. LTV, for us, is very guiding, but it is only one of a few metrics we use. You have to understand how you will use the data and have a holistic measurement strategy.”
8. Create brand moments.
– Elie Donahue, SVP of Marketing at Rothy’s
“We create brand moments people can grab onto. We tell our founding values on social and on our website so there’s interesting fodder and nuance about the brand that people can tell their friends. For example, we started a recycling program and opened our stores so people could bring their old Rothy’s that we’ll turn into thread for future shoes. We made it exciting and something customers can actually be a part of. Customers want to be part of something bigger. We aim to reflect our customers in our marketing and open up the brand so customers feel part of it.
9. Leverage technology to scale.
– Chris Goossens, SVP of Customer Experience at FedEx Europe
“The purpose of an organization is to serve its customers: make a customer, keep it, and grow your business. Thanks to a lot of innovation in technology and information, we can better scale the customer experience. Now you can deliver great service cost-effectively with the cloud data in real time, where it used to be cost-prohibitive. The technology has brought customer experience back to the forefront. The dream of serving every customer like an individual is now possible because of advancements in technology and big data.”
10. Stay in touch with customers.
– Shawn Nelson, Founder and CEO at Lovesac
“We have robust marketing teams that we call Customer Love Teams, and they talk to customers every day. We invest a lot in research and spend a lot of time sitting down with customers. But beyond that, one of the most useful things to me is that I lead a very open public life on Instagram, and Lovesac is active on social media. I hear from customers every day through DMs and comments. And even with a brand that’s fairly large, being plugged in and seeing their problems is useful. There will always be problems and damages that occur in shipping. But I think staying plugged in, especially at the CEO level, and the team being in touch is incredibly valuable.”
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist and the author of The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly email here.