Elon Musk

Customer Experience is The Future of Selling

I recently did a webinar for Citrix on how Customer Experience (CX) can drive revenue growth and amazing profitability by reducing both the cost of sale and customer churn. We all need our customers to be advocates for us in the market and this webinar provides strategies and examples from some of the world's best corporations including Tesla, Apple and Qantas.

The transcript follows and starts at 4 minutes into the recording and this is the basis of a keynote I will be delivering at the leading Customer Experience Conference in Asia-Pacific (August 8th and 9th). Advance to 4 minutes to skip the introductions.

Transcript [begins 4 minutes into recording]

I might just kick off with an interesting stat, and that is that according to Gartner this year almost 90% of the people in charge of marketing inside businesses have identified that customer experience is something that they’re going to be focusing on to really drive sales. Now, that really begs the question: if almost everybody else is focusing on this, how does focusing on customer experience really differentiate you in your marketplace?

The thing I would say to that is that it’s really the way that we sell rather than what we sell that has a huge impact on our success. Certainly individual salespeople have understood that for a very long time, but what I’m seeing in the marketplace is really a move away from focusing on who we are, what we do and how we do it, also a move away from our product features and functions, really to instead focus on the way that we go and engage clients. In business-to-business selling there’s certainly a very big focus on leading with insights, acting as a trusted partner – I know it’s sort of a cliché term – providing insights for your clients, and in a business-to-consumer world to really be able to provide exceptional customer experience. For all of us that hire millennials in our business, this is really a generation of people that don’t just turn up and hang around for about two weeks and say, “When are you promoting me?” but they’re people that turn up that are very tech-savvy, they expect there to be an app for each kind of process that you’re wanting them to run inside their business, and as we talk about customer experience today I’d really encourage you also to think about the fact that it’s not just about creating a great experience for customers but also for staff and any ~staff~ in your business. 

The other thing with customer experience is that it’s something that we just have to do. Believe it or not, there was a time in businesses not that long ago where people realised that neon lights had been invented and everyone needed a good neon light in front of their business. Then they realised, “Do I or do I not invest in the yellow pages?” and after a while it was just, “Well, of course I do – I have no choice!” People realised that they had to have a website, that they needed the customer relationship management system. More recently people are realising that they’ve got to embrace social media and have a social media plan, and now really the next big thing – it’s already got lots of momentum – is “I need to get good at creating customer experience.”

So let’s begin by really defining what customer experience is. There’s lots of cliché terms out there, but this is really my definition: customer experience is really just the result of the interactions between a customer and the supplier during the lifetime of their relationship. When we think about customer experience, you could maybe use another term which is customer life cycle management. So it’s really how do we engage with a customer throughout their entire life cycle? It’s a big mistake in business to just think about how we work with clients at the moment that they become a contracted customer or a paying customer, and then how we make sure they’re happy and do additional business with us; today we need to think about how do we act strategically by engaging as early as possible. 

So the reason that customer experience is important is obviously creating great customer experience is a way to differentiate ourselves and drive new revenue, but it’s also how we can retain and grow clients. If we think about it strategically, there’s really two key elements to that in my mind: one is the hallmark of operating strategically in this area is we engage early, and the other hallmark is that we’ve managed to take our customers to make them advocates for us in the marketplace, so that’s really a piece of evidence. In that previous slide I was really showing you the customer buyer journey, this is a simplified version, but let’s just talk about the customer journey for a moment, because this is the first thing we need to do when we think about customer experience.

Every single new client that we acquire became a new client because something happened in their world that caused them to realise that they needed what we offered, or that they were unhappy with our competitor and that they decided to switch, and usually their journey starts online. There’s well over 3,000 million Google searches every single day, and the first thing I’d really encourage you to think about is what happens in your customer’s world. What do they go and look for before they ever know to actually look for you? What comparisons do they actually make online? ~I’ll~ tell you a short story.That’s actually a picture of a car I’ve just purchased – I pick it up in a couple of weeks, I ordered it a few months ago – but my journey in looking for cars started online as well. I found a website here in Australia that helps consumers buy cars in essence at wholesale and not have to go into a dealership, so I’ve decided that I wanted to see if I could get a great experience in buying a motor vehicle without going to a dealer – I didn’t want to be put through a car dealer sales process and moved into the sales manager’s office and pressured to buy – but when I found this website they had a great strategy but they executed incredibly poorly. Their website wasn’t clear, they required a lot of information online, they were then meant to contact me and they didn’t, I filled in the form a second time, I still didn’t get contacted. I phoned them, I got voicemail, I phoned them again and got on to a person, and when I explained my tortured story he got very defensive with me, and I said, “Look, the reason I’m saying all this is I don’t want to repeat everything I’ve already put online twice,” he assured me that I wouldn’t have to and then proceeded to ask me all the questions again. 

So, a lot of companies will have customer experience strategies or online strategies or disruptive strategies in how they want to grow market, but it’s really all about great execution. So one of the things I’m going to be focusing on today is not just technology; technology should be an enabler of our strategy, it should be an enabler of a big chunk of the customer experience that we want to go and create, but it’s certainly not the whole thing on its own. Let me tell you why customer experience is so important based on the evidenced research. Corporate Executive Board surveyed 5,000 purchasing organisations, and they actually asked them, “What causes you to select one supplier over the others when you make a comparative decision?” The interesting thing here is that 9% of that decision was price, almost 20% equally was brand and then the features and functions or capability of the product or service being offered, but more than half of their decision is based on the experience that the buyer receives when they engaged with the seller. There’s another stat there you can see on the screen from Corporate Visions. Their research found that almost three-quarters of buyers will choose the supplier that was the first one to provide them with some value or insight. So this mantra of mine that the way we sell is more important than what we sell is truly evidenced here in the slide.

So let me jump into a few things. I want to talk about design generally. My father that you can see pictured on this screen actually passed away 18 months ago. He was a legendary engineer and designer, has quite a number of patents to his name, and he took me into business about 35 years ago believe it or not, quite a while ago. As an engineer he would often say to me when he was seeking to solve a complex problem, he would ask himself, “How would the Germans do it?” because he regarded the Germans as the best engineers in the world – That piece of construction equipment you can see, he designed and built everything you can see in that machine – but he would often ask, “How would the Germans do it?” What I want to do today is really ask ourselves, “How would the leaders in creating customer experience really approach this problem?” So, in line with the fact that it’s not really about technology… It’s really about fundamentally more human factors.

If you haven’t seen this video previously, I’d really encourage you after the webinar is over to jump on to YouTube and just search “Simon Sinek: Lead with Why.” It’s a short video, it’s not great audio quality but it was a video that went viral, it’s had many millions of views. Simon Sinek makes a really important point for anybody wanting to create great customer experience, and that is we need to be passionate about the difference that we’re seeking to make in the lives of our customers, and not just our customers but our employees and all of the stakeholders that actually work with us. If we can be passionate about the difference that we’re seeking to make, then we know what we want to build customer experience around, and I just want to give you an example of this.

I don’t know who was on this webinar that was online, watching the launch of the Tesla Model 3 but they launched this vehicle online, and in just 72 hours on launch they took deposits for over $12,000 million worth of car sales. It was the biggest ever car launch in the history of the world, and the thing that amazed me is they took about 320,000 orders, where people paid 1,000 US dollars online. So they basically bought the car – and you can see it here, on the left there – basically on an online shopping cart, without tight specifications, without firm delivery dates. So all Elon Musk really committed to was that the vehicle would be in shipping by the end of 2017, it would be $35,000, these were the core features they’d be offering, and they had well over 300,000 people buy online. Now, they weren’t people walking into showrooms to buy the car, they weren’t talking to salespeople; they did it online, which I think is incredible, and the reason they did is they bought into Elon Musk’s strategy and vision for really wanting to change the world. And he wants to change the world around sustainability, and he’s very clever with technology in creating something that is just really, really cool for people to own. So, really think about what’s your why, what are you passionate about and how are you seeking to change the lives of customers and employees, and that’s what you’re going to start to build customer experience around.

I’ll just get into some other basic design things. It’s so easy for marketers to fall in love with their product; we’re all like narcissists staring into the pool of water, sending ourselves crazy with how beautiful we think the thing is that we’re selling. If you look at Heinz, they’re the oldest manufacturer of ketchup or tomato sauce, they’ve got a high-quality product, they put it in a beautiful glass bottle, they have nice packaging, and they’re thinking it’s job done. But the first thing is we need to design not for us the seller but we need to design for our consumer, and the reality is that the customer doesn’t care about the nice-looking glass bottle. They get frustrated by the fact that they can never get the last of the product out of the bottle; if they put it in the fridge, they certainly can’t get it out at all, they’ve got to bang the bottom of it. What they wanted was a plastic, flexible container, leave it upside down all the time so that they can always get it out.

That’s an example of taking an “inside out” approach to designing for the customer in mind and it’s really transformational. Even simple things like doors, just putting [~5, 15:24] basic and it shows that you’re really thinking about the client – that’s kind of a funny sign on the right-hand side of that screen; someone had put a sign on the door but clearly doesn’t care what people think, that’s just a piece of humour – but really small things make a huge difference. I don’t know about you, but when I go to a restaurant or a café, whether I have a great customer experience or not has got more to do with the little things than other things that maybe that café or restaurant think is important. If I’m sat down at a table that rocks every time I try and cut a lean on the table, that drives me crazy; if there’s salt on the table but it’s clogged up and doesn’t work, if the pepper grinder is broken… These are really basic, small things that don’t require technology, they don’t require hardly any money; they just need us to be thinking about and obsessing about what’s the experience that the client is getting when they come into my premises or engage with my business. So we need to think about what clients really want; we need to stop trying to project what we think is value but understand how they define it.

Now, this is a typical kind of advertisement, something you’d seen on a website for a drill manufacturer. Maybe many of you on this webinar have heard this example before, but I had this told to me in sales training many years ago that people don’t really want a drill, what they want is a hole in the wall and they need to have a drill to buy the hole in the wall. But my view is that that’s not actually really true. Most people don’t want the hole in the wall either, what they really want is they want their pictures hanging on the wall and they want the feeling they get from standing back, looking at those memories or those beautiful pieces of art that’s actually hanging on the wall. So as a drill manufacturer, imagine if rather than this kind of specification sheet or advertisement, instead of that imagine if you were able to put up a website where you explained to people how they could hang multiple pictures perfectly straight on a wall, or how they can drill into really difficult surfaces. If you provided the insights and the information on how to use a drill well if you weren’t an expert, ~people would get~ educated and they would associate that with your drill, and what you would do is you would become the emotional favourite.

Imagine if you were targeting tradespeople, and the real issue for them is know how to use a drill, they’re already expert at that, but for them the thing that they care about is batteries running out of power halfway through the day or during a job, so imagine if you had a website that talked about how can you do a great job in managing battery life and getting the best out of your equipment. When you start to answer that question “What do my buyers or my clients look for online before they even know to come and look for me?” as they go through that Google search they’ll start to find your content, they’ll start to be educated, and you’ll become the emotional favourite – again, with that research that three-quarters of people have a bias toward the person that’s helped educate them – and I’ve certainly found that that’s the case in all of the purchases that I’ve made in my life.

Let me now talk about some examples of companies that I think do an incredible job of creating customer experience. I know that Uber has been done to death, everybody talks about Uber, but the reason I put this up as an example is that I chose to go and become an Uber driver about a year ago. The reason I did it isn’t because I wanted to go and make additional money on the side, I just wanted to understand how do they approach both ends of the customer experience equation, how do they recruit drivers, what sort of experience do they give them – it was pretty easy to see the experience that they give clients – and I was incredibly impressed. What they do is they had this beautiful balance of dealing with people and technology, as well as understanding the processes and working out how they can automate everything incredibly easy. 

There were a few things that you needed to do in becoming an Uber driver where they needed to see you face to face. They needed to look at some documents to validate that they were originals, and you as the person wanting to become a driver had to sign a form that enabled them to do a police check, but almost everything else could be done online and they made that incredibly easy, not just in front of a traditional computer but also online. The thing that Uber recognises is not that they’re a disruptive taxi company, what Uber really is is a customer experience company; they create exceptional customer experience, with elegant design, and they obsess about simplification of every single process to make it easier for people. In one of the markets that Uber was operating in, the local regulators deemed that they were an illegal taxi service and closed them down; I know that’s quite controversial, it has been here in the Australian market. So the UberBLACK drivers are proper, registered limousine drivers, they’re all okay, but UberX drivers often do not have the correct levels of insurance and there’s risk to passengers for that reason alone, there were issues around collecting goods and services tax. They haven’t been closed down in Australia, but in one market they were, and they quickly pivoted to become UberEATS; they thought, “Well, we’ve got people with vehicles, so let’s get them delivering high-quality restaurant food,” so they were able to pivot flexibly. Again, if your specialty is in creating incredible customer experience, you can then pivot easily in business, which is really important today. The other thing that they did is they’d then gone to a third line of business which is in essence being a metropolitan courier and they’ve taken that same approach to customer experience into those markets as well. So this is just an example that if you focus on creating great customer experience and knowing those markets incredibly well, and creating hybrid models of both physical, real-world service and online engagements with technology, you can create a great business.

Apple is often held up as an example. Three years ago I converted my entire life, for me and my family, over to Apple and it was a really enlightening experience. I’ve had sort of a love-hate relationship with technology my whole life, I’ve worked for technology companies for most of it, but we all know how frustrating technology is when it doesn’t work. The thing that’s blown me away about Apple is not just the elegant design of their products but the elegant way in which they go and engage with clients. On the very few times that I’ve had a technical issue with Apple, getting on their website was incredibly easy, to make an appointment to go to a Genius Bar at an Apple Store near me. And on occasion I’ve decided to click a button to ask someone from Apple to call me, and within 60 to 90 seconds… I know this sounds incredible, but within 60 to 90 seconds someone’s on the phone and they’re helping me resolve my issue. So they understand that it’s not just about pushing people online to reduce their costs, it’s about engaging with people the way that they want to be engaged with and delivering a really, really good customer experience. What I believe we can learn from Apple is this concept of elegance, of simplification, of being as minimalist as possible in our design.

The other thing that I’d just encourage us to think about too is take these big industries that historically have delivered poor service. My first ever job when I’d left school many years ago was working in the bank, and I remember that model where all of us working in the bank were behind counters with bars to stop people jumping the counter and stealing the cash. So there was a massive barrier between staff and clients and customers were forced to line up endlessly, and the opening hours weren’t particularly friendly. Now, the banking system has gone through a massive transformation, and not just in providing online banking but changing the experience they deliver for clients when they go in. One of the things they’ve done is this concept of a concierge. To my great surprise, in the last year when I’ve had to go and engage in my state, in New South Wales, to renew my driver’s license, the experience in a government service office was very much like what banks used to be, but I was shocked when I walked in and got greeted by a beautiful, smiling face of a person asking me what is it that I wanted to do. She said that I would need to see someone behind a counter, she got the ticket for me and told me what my number was; she said was there anything else I needed to do, and there was, and she said, “Well, you can actually do that online. Why don’t you come with me and I’ll help you do it online.”

You can see in this screenshot here that they’ve got kiosks where you can go and do self-service but with someone standing beside you to help you. So it’s not just that they seek to push people off to the Web, they show them how to do it and actually make it incredibly easy for them, so these are really good. I know it sounds crazy to transform like government, but I’m seeing government departments increasingly think about how do we do citizen engagement better, how do we treat citizens as clients, how do we deliver great customer experience? If the public service is able to do it, then certainly any of us in business should absolutely be able to do it.

The next thing I’d encourage us to think about – and as I get through these examples, I’m going to give you some actionable takeaways at the end here, things I think we need to do to actually execute on this – I think we need to think like airlines. Airlines have gone through massive, massive transformation, and it’s really been driven by their horrible business model. I’d never want to own an airline; it requires huge amounts of working capital that’s tied up, you incur massive fixed overheads, huge costs before you get one paying passenger on a flight, so they’ve been forced to think, “How do we cut costs and be more flexible?”

The thing that’s always impressed me about Richard Branson and Virgin is in the airline business he very cleverly redefined quality of service as being the quality of the attitude of the people that are serving. So Virgin basically dialled things back, as far as the amount of leg room that you’ve got, the quality of good or drink on a flight, so they were a budget airline, but where they invested was making sure the staff had wonderful attitudes and gave people a great, fun experience on the flight. So the culture of the people is a massive piece of creating great customer experience. And yes, they’ve also done a really good job with technology. I think all of us that have flown in the last few years have seen this massive transformation that’s occurred, from the moment you book your ticket online to when you board the flight, so that when we turn up now to those big [~2, 26:16] at the airports, it’s basically self-service. When they first rolled out those self-service kiosks for checking your own bags in, for weighing them, for printing your own boarding pass and bag tickets, I was very sceptical, thinking, “I’d rather just deal with the person. I’m paying them all this money. Why are they now asking me to do their job?” but I quickly realised this was a much better customer experience. And now the ability to actually check into the flight, to get my boarding pass, just download it into my mobile phone, to get the seat that I want, to be able to turn up to the airport and walk on really easily without even printing the boarding pass is a great example of using technology well. So the airlines have driven costs down but improved the level of the service that they’re delivering through technology.

But I just want to hark back to an example around the fact that it’s really the people that deliver great customer experience, not technology alone. I don’t know whether many of you are familiar with the story, but a number of years ago an Airbus A380 out of Singapore, Qantas QF32, was on climb-out and one of the engines on the aircraft exploded. It shot shrapnel at a greater speed than the speed of sound, it went through the fuselage of the aircraft and the wing, it partially severed the main fibre-optic trunk lines through the aircraft – it’s all fly-by-wire that control it – the plane was incredibly degraded. The command pilot, Captain Richard de Crespigny, and his flight crew did an incredible job of getting that plane back on the ground safely, they just did an absolutely phenomenal job.

But here’s the really interesting thing: when Captain de Crespigny got that plane back on the ground safely, he actually went into the airport terminal and he said to the passengers, “When you fly Qantas, you’re flying with a premium airline, and you have every right to expect a superior level of service than flying with a budget airline, and you’re going to get that today. There’s 1,000 Qantas staff that have mobilised, finding you hotel rooms. We’re organising buses to get you to those hotels, we’ll provide you with money so you can buy toiletries and clothing. We’ll be getting you back to Sydney as soon as we can.” But then he did something amazing. After saving the aircraft, he then said to the passengers, “Can you please get out your phone, or if you’ve got a pen and a piece of paper… I’m going to give you my mobile phone, and I want any of you to phone me if you don’t feel you’re getting the right level of service from Qantas that you’re entitled to,” and interestingly he did not receive one phone call from an unhappy passenger. 

This is an example of there being a great culture inside Qantas of not just safety but a great culture of customer service. On every flight that he commands he makes a point of walking the entire aircraft, and the reason he does it – obviously when the co-pilot is in control and they’re just in cruise – to make sure that all of the flight crew on board know that the captain’s going to be walking around the aeroplane, and it causes the flight crew, the staff on the flight to really lift their game and make sure they do a great job.

So let me just morph this into the importance of technology, and we’re going to talk about social and mobile computing as key aspects in delivering a great customer experience. When that engine exploded, that Rolls Royce engine exploded on QF32, parts of the engine rained down on parts of Indonesia, and if you can see in the left-hand side of that screenshot, that’s actually a share trading screenshot. You can see that at 2 PM when it happened Qantas’ share price plummeted dramatically, and Alan Joyce the CEO was with one of his other executives in a car going to a meeting, and the question was asked, “Why is our share price falling through the floor?” So before the CEO and key managers even knew about this incident, people had taken to social media, predominantly Twitter in Indonesia, and the word was out there about what had happened. This is an example of how unhappy customers can spread the word very, very quickly, and we need to be monitoring social as part of our strategy.

When you think about how mobile and social platforms, the first thing that I normally hear from people is there’s so many different social platforms and social tools, so I’m really not sure where I would even start. I’m going to talk about what the big, important social platforms are in a moment, but let me just talk about mobile. I don’t know whether you’re aware of this, but last year was the first time in history that the number of computer users on mobile actually crossed over and became greater than the number of traditional laptop or PC computer users. There’s more computing done, there’s more interaction on mobile now than there is in traditional computing, and we all know that there’s lots of apps that are being created to deliver really good customer experience. A good friend of mine Randall Cameron works in the mobility space, this is a slide that he provided to me: this is an example of a government and corporation that’s creating apps to make it very easy for employees and contractors to go and execute their role, and they can even do it on their own devices.

One of the things that millennials and Gen Ys expect today is to be able to come into the workplace and use platforms and technologies that they’re familiar with, and even use their own devices if they can. Now, these applications, there’s a bunch of icons there on that screen, that shows you the kind of technology that’s being used to deliver a great experience for those forestry workers. So they’re not having to use big tablet computers and a truck, they can simply use their own handheld devices and go and execute their roles incredibly easily. The other thing that’s going on with mobile is the concept of geo-fencing and beacons. Even for someone like a coffee shop, they really now have the ability – if they wanted to today, and not at high cost – to be able to make it possible for a regular client as they walk into their shop or get near their shop that it automatically gets displayed in the system to make them their favourite coffee or their favourite breakfast, so they don’t even have to stand in line and ask to be served. These were works of fiction five or ten years ago, but now it’s very easy to do without a whole lot of cost. So wireless beacons inside premises and things like geo-fencing enable us to be aware of the proximity of clients as they come in and out of premises or a building or a work site, and be able to deliver an experience for them really, really easily.

Let me talk about old world customer experience and then what I think new world customer experience needs to look like, and I’ll talk a little bit about those platforms we can use as some takeaway. I showed you this buyer’s journey previously, where they go through a trigger event and consider change, do some research and it will generate a bias towards someone in particular; they’ll then go through a formal selection and negotiation process, they’ll take ownership and implement what it is they’re doing, and then obviously we want them to stay as a client and renew or upgrade with us later. On the leftthere you can see the traditional approach of push marketing, basically interrupt and push a message to people. We’ve all have a website typically at the heart of our strategy, and then once someone is a client we’d like them to give us referrals, we focus on delivering good customer service through some form of account management, that’s the way we’ve traditionally tried to deliver customer experience. But the really important thing here is that if we want to be strategic, we want to think about trigger events and what causes them to consider change and where are they online, learning, where do they go to be educated. That’s how we can go away from that model and instead attract people, inform them, provide insights, align with them what’s important with them. We can them collaborate with them in how they evaluate and select and even implement, and what we end up with is a customer that’s a strong advocate. 

These are some of the leading tools. Obviously people are searching Google; hopefully they’ll find your website, but increasingly today they’ll find a Facebook page. With a lot of the things I research, I have a bias away from the vendor’s website because I know that’s going to give me their positive view of the world, I want to find the truth, so we tend to find that on other places, places like YouTube and Facebook; if I’m looking at engaging with an individual, I’d research them on LinkedIn. The other thing we can do is we can use things like GoToWebinar that we’re using today to start to engage with people and provide insights. You can use Citrix GoToMeeting to engage with people face to face to share information, to run projects, to collaborate without having to jump on aeroplanes and trying to get very, very busy people together at the same time in the same room. So there’s ways for us to deliver experience using the technology really well, and obviously the Net Promoter Score index is a really good way to measure how we’re tracking in that regard.

I just want to give you a quick example of the power of using social media well. I told you that story of QF32, it’s a great example of delivering great customer experience and having a customer-centric culture, with Qantas as the example. I wrote a white paper and published it, and in about a 15-month period I had less than 100 downloads. Now, I thought to myself… It was a good piece of content, and I thought, “You know what? My market for me – because I’m in the business-to-business arenas, as in LinkedIn – I decided to repost that content in LinkedIn as an article, and that’s had towards quarter of a million reads versus less than 100, with 2,500 likes and I think over 400 comments that people have made and lots of shares. So what’s happened is by going to where my market is and providing good content there, what I created was a whole level of engagement, which is what we’re wanting to do in creating customer experience. So if you’re thinking, “How important is social really? We’ve got a website,” I think that’s an example of why it matters.

So let me just talk about these big platforms. If we’re in business-to-business, if you’ve got a small business and you’re wanting to contact journalists or the producers of radio shows and get interviewed and build your brand, we don’t need to go to a PR agency these days, all of those people are in LinkedIn and you can run a strategy to get to them and find them. There’s 420 million-odd members, two people join a second, it’s a great place to start to build personal brand. And at the beginning of today I talked about this thing of being very intentional about our why, why do we do what we do, why does a conversation with a potential client matter, and that’s where we can make sure that that message shines through loud and clear in LinkedIn. It’s Facebook for business, it’s where people will go and check us out before they meet.

If we’re in the business-to-consumer world, obviously Facebook is incredibly important; they’ve embedded autoplay for video content now which is skyrocketing engagement as well. The average Australian spends seven hours a week inside this platform, so it’s a great place to do social listening, to create social advocacy, user groups, people do a lot of research in Facebook so we need to make sure we’ve got a good, strong presence there; and YouTube is really powerful if we’re wanting to drive cost out, of engaging and supporting clients and improve the experience that they’ve got. For almost anything that we’re selling to people there’ll be an instruction manual or they’ll need support or they’ll have questions; it’s a very good investment to create videos that you can put up online. They don’t need to have high production value, so long as everything’s in focus and the audio and lighting is good; the more human and real they are, the owner of the business doing them is great. This is an incredible way that you can broadcast yourself over the entire planet, access to billions of people, and you don’t have to pay anything for it. It’s amazing how powerful these platforms are and they’re free.

And then Twitter to me is a great social listening tool. One of the things I haven’t focused on heavily today but it’s very important is part of creating great customer experience is listening. We should listen for the hashtag of our business or of our products, and whenever anybody is unhappy or has a question we should jump in and engage with them, we should enable clients to log a support ticket or a case with us in Twitter or in any of these social platforms as well. It’s a case of going and understanding, “How do my clients engage out there in social and on mobile devices themselves and how can I make the whole engagement process with them as easy as possible?” Then the other thing is when you’re wanting to support people – again, not just YouTube videos but recording webinars – being able to collaborate with people effectively is really important. There’s research there on the bottom of this slide that just shows that if you respond in one hour, you’ve got 60 times greater probability of engagement than if you wait 24 hours, and if you can respond within five minutes with somebody it’s 100 times. The ability today to go and create engagement with people and see them face to face with a webcam by using things like GoToMeeting is incredibly powerful. 

Let me just give you what I think the key takeaways are for today and then we’ll throw it open to questions. The first thing is as we think about the buyer’s journey and then mapping customer experience ~to~ buyer’s journey, the first thing is we want to be very clear about leading with why. We want to create evangelists and advocates for us who share our vision and mission. This is very much what Elon Musk has managed to do with Tesla; it’s very, very much what Steve Jobs has always been about, he was very passionate about design and elegance in what he was doing. Both of these people created almost religious zeal within their customer base, people that would try and convert others. There’s a couple of key questions here: the first is what is it that you believe about how you change the lives of your customers? Not an easy question to answer for people, but we don’t have any chance of creating the right customer experience unless we do that. And then the second piece is how can we differentiate by the experience that we provide? So rather than trying to differentiate in the product itself, how can we differentiate in the way that we go and support our market? Really important questions.

The next key takeaway… Here’s, again, part of the definition of being strategic is to engage early, so the next thing is how do we attract with great content. So what we’re wanting to do is to attract and engage, we want to understand where do they research, and then we want to be able to put that content up in multiple channels, not just on our website but out on those forums and groups where they go and to their research. So this question of what do my clients look for before they ever know to come and look for me, where do they learn online and what kind of content can educate and provide valuable insights, that’s what really starts to create good, qualified leads and clients engaging with us that have a bias toward us because we were the ones that started to educate them and help them, not just around our product but around all available options that they’ve got available to them. 

And the third thing is, the third key takeaway is we need to elegantly engage with people. And it’s the really small things, I think you’d agree, the really small things that really make a difference. I didn’t put it up in the slide, but I think a great example of this is the hotel industry. They’re in a ferociously competitive industry, massive fixed overheads as well – every time a room goes empty, if they don’t get to sell it again later that building window is gone forever – but the thing I’ve seen now is often when I go and stay at hotels overseas or interstate is it’s very easy for them to go online and have a look at my picture, I’ve got a strong presence in social, I’ll turn up and they’ll recognise me, and it’s happened at hotels I’ve never stayed at before. So clearly what’s happened is they’ve got a list of people that are coming in and they’ve just gone and had a look on social and seeing what they can find out about them. On one occasion I’ve checked into a hotel here in Australia, and they knew that I was speaking at a conference in Melbourne and they said, “Welcome to the hotel, Mr Hughes – I hope you have a good time speaking at the conference!” which really blew me away. It was a very simple thing for them to do, it didn’t cost them any money, it surprised me and delighted me –because people love the sound of their own voice I guess and like themselves being made to feel important – but it didn’t cost them money, it’s just inside the culture of the organisation.

So, how can we elegantly engage and really delight people? How do they want to engage and how can we simplify? I think a lot of us have processes that we haven’t revisited for a long time that we force our clients and staff through, and if we just kept saying, “Do we really need to do it that way? Is there a simpler, better way? Is there a simple app that we could create for that?” we’d go a long way to really transforming customer experience. So with that, I’d really like to throw it open to Q&A and I’m more than happy to take your questions, so I’ll just pass it back to Teneille.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Get Everwise - Elon Musk