Ignited by his marketing and customer experience (CX) background at Fortune 300 companies, Dan Gingiss is on a burning mission to “make the brand lovers louder than the haters by creating experiences they can’t wait to share with their friends and followers.”
Gingiss is a keynote speaker, experience consultant, co-host of the “Experience This!” podcast, and contributor to Forbes with both of his ears keenly tuned to everything CX. That means he’s increasingly focused on the “Experience Economy”—a shift in power in which customers drive innovation and view their brand experiences as inseparable from a brand’s products and services. We asked what CX trends, tactics, and best practices are on his radar, and which brands are leading in this fascinating era.
What best practices are separating the leaders from the pack?
It may sound simplistic, but the first is essential: They are their own customer! Your consumer instincts will be pretty accurate with what your customers are thinking about their experience with you.
The second insight is they understand that the customer journey is not linear. In the past, we researched, considered, bought, and used. But not anymore. It’s vital for companies to know there's a lot of back and forth, pauses and sideways. We go on tangents and look at competitors.
Related to that is my third observation which is that leaders must eliminate organizational silos because those were built for a linear customer journey. Customers view organizations as a single experience. When we are organized in a siloed way, we create siloed customer experiences.
Small changes make a big difference. Starting a CX program doesn't have to require millions of dollars in infrastructure. It’s about finding and fixing the small parts of your experience that cause customer pain.
Is CX in B2B as important as in B2C?
Yes, they’re equally important. I’m often asked, “I work for a B2B company. Does this apply to me?” My answer, which is not meant to sound sarcastic, is, “Are you marketing to humans?” Just because you’re in B2B doesn’t mean you're marketing to a building. The human you market to is a consumer who has had amazing CX experiences on a B2C level and expects the same from all companies, including B2B.
Beyond the CX giants of Amazon, Netflix, and Uber, who else should we watch?
I used to work for this company, and I swear they’re not paying me to say this, but Discover is a great example. It’s the nation’s smallest major credit card company, so leaders realized early on they needed an exceptional differentiator: customer experience.
Discover is the only credit card company where the customer service is 100% based in the United States. When you call, the agent answers with, "Hi. I'm Sally in Phoenix." Oftentimes, the customer's first response is happiness that they're talking to someone in the US.
They also focus on simplicity of the digital experience. They found all the places that required two clicks and reduced them to one click. That and similar changes make it easy for consumers to do business with Discover. For example, a key customer pain point was that people didn't like being upsold when their call purpose was service, so Discover eliminated it. That was smart to say, “We know this is a painful part of our industry and we're no longer participating in it.”
Starbucks has also done exceptional work drilling down to customers’ likes and dislikes. The first two “likes” are product consistency and a terrific rewards program. Also, they are one of the nation’s leaders in the prepaid market, because their mobile payment option is incredibly easy to use.
Another company to watch is Imperfect Produce, based in San Francisco. They source fruits and vegetables farmers can't sell to supermarkets because they're not as pretty, but they’re just as tasty and nutritious. Imperfect Produce is absolutely nailing a social issue, with reminders that you're doing good for the world by helping farmers and eliminating food waste. They added gamification to their app so as you continue to buy from them, you can see how many pounds of produce you personally saved from the landfill, plus the equivalent CO2 and water savings from farmers not having to replant.
What channels for augmenting CX are making a difference?
You may have noticed a theme here that augmenting CX results in significant impacts. These companies I discussed combine multiple aspects of their business—remember eliminating silos?—into creating a great experience. Self-service channels such as Google, apps, and websites are important, particularly for Gen X and younger, as they prefer to solve problems themselves. Emailing, chatting, or—as a last-ditch effort—calling will be frustrating for them.
Another trend is “private social”—social media direct messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or Twitter direct message. Companies like them because customers complain in private instead of in public on social media. Customers like them because they’re fast and easy with no active wait for an answer. Responses can sit in customers’ inboxes until they’re ready to read them.
The Last Word
Excelling in customer experience and the Experience Economy can be daunting, to be sure. However, industry leader Dan Gingiss distills his observations to a few key themes: embrace the Experience Economy in which customers are in charge, work together, and extend CX beyond B2C to B2B.