024 | Five Drivers of Customer Experience with Mary Drumond of Worthix | Studio CMO
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The Episode in 60 Seconds
Why do your prospects become customers? Why do your customers stay with you? Why do your customers leave?
The science and art of Customer Experience (CX) can answer these questions and help you grow your business in the face of your competition and a tumultuous market.
In this episode, we explore:
- Why Worthix was started
- How customers’ expectations change
- Why CX is important to ROI
- The five drivers of CX and how they apply in different industries
- The KPIs you need to measure CX
- The difference between frequency and impact of customer feedback
Mary Drumond is the Chief Marketing Officer at Worthix. She is the past CEO of Advance Languages, where she rose up from the marketing and sales functions to senior leadership. She serves on the board of advisors at the University of Georgia Masters in Marketing Research Program and co-chairs the Atlanta, Georgia chapter of Latinas in Tech
Voices of CX Podcast
Mary interviews top marketers, industry experts, thought leaders, and best-selling authors on how their markets overlap with Customer Experience. She investigates tech innovations in data sciences, market research and surveys, behavioral analytics and design, and more to help companies improve their customer’s experiences.
Worthix helps companies understand their worth and keep their value propositions updated by deploying AI-assisted surveys that tap into customers’ decision-making process, capture the voice of customer, and harness raw, unbiased insight that delivers a clear portrait of what value means to customers.
Find out more about Wothix here.
The self-service sale has revolutionized B2B business. We discuss it in depth in this article and this video.
2020 has demonstrated how quickly customer expectations can change. Think for example of the number of issues that have stolen our attention this year: pandemic, social justice, the election, and more.
When you look at big data, when you look at the technology that’s out there tracking consumer behavior, all of it is like looking through the rear view mirror, because what you get is transactional data on past behavior, but with behavior changing so quickly because the world is changing, everybody has like a blank page, a clean slate. – Mary Drumond
Understanding your competition is one of the most important foundations for building your customer experience activities. Golden Spiral’s Competitive Analysis Worksheet remains one of our most popular downloads because it gives B2B tech companies such clarity. Download it today
Your customers’ experiences must be linked to your profit and they have to be used as a growth strategy. And if that’s not how you’re doing CX, then you’re not doing it right. If you are not able to prove to your executive board, to your C suite, to your leadership, that the work that you’re doing with the customers is actually resulting in more money for your organization. You’re going to be canceled. – Mary Drumond
The Five Drivers of Customer Experience
Depending on your business, your product, and your market, these will have different levels of importance.
- Brand Identification
- Social Proof
Check out information about Worthix’s relationship with Praxair .
Mary and the Worthix team recently discussed McDonald’s CX differences per market in this article .
Want to know more about NPS scores? Check out Golden Spiral’s article about the survey technique.
What does it take for a company to be able to cater to so many different people with so many different needs on a global scale? It takes really good listening skills and large-scale empathy. – Mary Drumond
Read more about empathy from Golden Spiral.
Satisfaction is not enough. It’s subjective. You can be super happy and still leave for a series of reasons. – Mary Drumond
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Mary Drumond (00:04):
If you are not able to prove to your executive board, to your C suite to your leadership, that the work that you’re doing with the customers is actually resulting in more money for your organization. You’re going to be canceled.
Mark Whitlock (00:33):
Welcome to Studio CMO, the podcast, designed for B2B tech marketing professionals to have real life conversations, to look at some of the wins and woes that they face on an ongoing basis. And John, today, we’re going to look at something that is a struggle for a lot of B2B tech companies, something that they don’t spend enough time concentrating on it.
John Farkas (00:52):
Yeah. You know, as we’ve often discussed here on Studio CMO, one of the essential understandings for B2B marketing is that a huge part of the sales funnel now is now self service. The process of digital discovery, where people in search of solutions, research and discover and engage online before they ever have direct conversations with anyone. And that’s the start point of what’s becoming known widely as customer experience, but customer experience goes way past that. I mean, it’s how you engage them throughout the sale, how you onboard them, how you continue to engage them as active customers, and then how your platform or product looks, how it performs, how it expands and transforms, and then how you engage in lead customers through those changes and movements.
John Farkas (01:45):
All of that is part of customer experience and a critical component of brand. As we look at what brand is, what it means for the B2B company, our guest today is an expert in that universe. She lives and breathes customer experience, maybe more than any human. I know, but Hey, she knows a lot about this topic. I’m excited to dig in Angus, tell us who we’re going to talk to.
Angus Nelson (02:15):
Well, it is my pleasure today. We are talking with the chief marketing officer at Worthix. It’s an AI driven self adapting survey, SaaS product. She’s also the host of “Voices of CX” podcast, where she has interviewed some of the most influential customer experience, thought leaders, practitioners, and academia on challenges and innovation in CX. Her goal is to broaden the reach of customer experience, connecting it to marketing business design, thinking data science, statistics, and behavioral economics. Or we’re going to get all up into your mental grill. Please welcome to the show. Mary Drumond.
Mary Drumond (02:51):
Hello. I’m happy to be here even though I feel like I missed a memo and I should have shaved my h ead.
John Farkas (03:03):
There’s still time, Mary. We could, we could roll video and make that happen. And I bet our ratings would go, go pretty crazy for sure. So Mary, tell us a little bit more about worth it.
Mary Drumond (03:18):
So Worthix is extremely cool. And I know that this is a very biased thing to say because I work here, but it really is the only bit of software out there that’s capable of explaining customer decisions. So there are a whole bunch of different platforms, a whole bunch of different methodologies that focus on listening to the customer and voice of customer and processing feedback. But what ends up happening is that companies have this pile essentially of feedback that they don’t really know what to do with. And it really is like finding a needle in a haystack, because imagine you have a small company, that’s got, you know, 20, 30 customers and you can survey them one by one and talk to them and get a really good grasp on what their needs are, what their concerns are. What’s making them loyal to you, or if they’re considering any competitors in the market, et cetera.
Mary Drumond (04:15):
But if you take that and you multiply it by a hundred thousand or something like that, and you get massive enterprises with hundreds of thousands or even millions of customers now imagine processing that feedback and amongst all of those open ended questions or answers in this case where customers are trying to tell the company how they feel what’s not working for them and what they really need improvement in, in order to continue doing business with that company. Imagine what it’s like for data analysts or data scientists or market researchers on the other end to process that information and extract anything actionable from it. How do you know, how do you know what’s actually making a difference in customer’s lives or not? And that’s what we’re the X does worth. X is able to pinpoint the precise experiences that are causing customers to churn or to stay loyal because we have a way to gauge impact and understand which drivers of the experience are causing customers to stay with you, or just be unhappy.
Mary Drumond (05:24):
It’s also able to tell you where the customers are looking in regards to their expectations, because the one thing that we know for sure, and I really hate to bring up COVID times, but it’s kind of impossible not to do that. 2020 was the year where a really, really fast market went into fast-forward mode. Things change so quickly that we lose track. One day, we’re talking about virus and pandemic and God knows what’s going to happen. The next moment we’re talking about civil rights and racial issues, nobody knows what’s coming. Nobody knows. So for decision-makers all over the globe, understanding where their customer needs are headed, what they need to be able to provide in order to stay relevant for their customers. That’s a whole other issue that there is not a single product in the market that’s offering. When you look at big data, when you look at the technology that’s out there tracking consumer behavior, all of it is like looking through the rear view mirror, because what you get is transactional data on past behavior, but with behavior changing so quickly because the world is changing, everybody has like a blank page, a clean slate.
Mary Drumond (06:38):
Nobody knows what to base their decisions on because there’s no historical data. When people say we’re on unprecedented times, it’s become really cheesy, but it’s true. And the reason people keep saying it is because nobody knows what to do because all of the data that they have is based on the past. So what we need to be able to do, and this is one thing that Worthix tries to solve is to provide companies and decision-makers with current experiences and future expectations. That way you’re driving the car, looking out the window, as opposed to looking in your rear view mirror.
Angus Nelson (07:15):
So Mary, as you’re looking through the windshield, you’re looking at the four progress. Like now we’re in the thick of it. What have you observed as a company? Is there anything across the board that buyer behavior is starting to really reveal itself in light of what’s going on? Currently?
Mary Drumond (07:29):
One of the strongest things that’s happening is that the drivers of decisions have changed radically. So whereas before people were basing their decisions, I don’t know, maybe quality after pandemic, it became availability or depending if people were furloughed or had lost their jobs, price drivers that were extremely strong previously, like social proof. In other words, you know, how people would perceive you, those all of a sudden dipped in importance, um, while other things like quality, like price went way up, something that changed a lot as well is the importance of customers identifying with the brands that they do business with and feeling like that brand sees them and, um, is paying attention to their needs. And the moment that they’re going through, whereas before that was something that was kind of relative, especially when it came to politics, et cetera, in the middle of a pandemic, um, companies putting their customers first or more importantly, companies putting their employees first, nobody wanted to do business with a company that was treating their employees badly because there was a lot of empathy that was going on as well.
Mary Drumond (08:44):
Everyone had family members of loved ones who were on the front lines battling through this and, you know, essential workers, et cetera. So that was something that all of a sudden became important as well. customers’ perceptions of how companies treated and interacted with their personnel and their employees. So that was maybe one of the strongest things that changed. But another thing that was really important is the way that the quick shift between one focus and the other, I remember at the beginning of the pandemic, when we were all talking a lot about work from home, for example, and it was a big deal and we were still very unsure of what was going on. We’re still unsure, but there’s a little bit more clarity I’m going to say now than there was like six months ago, but right when the focus shifted really drastically from, you know, stay at home, wear a mask, and that was the message that was going out to join the rallies, join the riots, speak up for human rights, defend your fellow man, and both sides of that really polarizing angle of the human rights movement.
Mary Drumond (09:49):
So it went on a couple of months ago and are still happening in a lot of capitals today that started reflecting really strongly on customer behavior as well. And people not wanting to do business with companies that they felt didn’t take an aggressive stance. So it was a really pivotal moment for companies to understand what their customers expected from them. There are companies that did that really well. A lot of sports brands did that really, really well and positioned themselves very strongly and very clearly on certain political stances. Others got a lot of backlash it’s really delicate, and I wouldn’t want to be a CEO or a decision-maker at a company that had that kind of social pressure because depending on who your audience and who your market is, if you get it wrong, that could be the end. And one thing that’s happening quicker than ever is companies going out of business for a series of reasons. One of them, the market is an absolute turmoil. We don’t know what customers are going to do. So it makes it very difficult to make any decisions. And most importantly, because from one moment to the next, the customer can decide that you’re the enemy and no longer want to do business with you. You know, so understanding what’s actually worth it and what your customer expects from you is really important. And then that’s one thing that Worthix is able to do really, really well.
John Farkas (11:05):
So Mary you’re really pushing into this issue, which, you know, from my perspective, customer experience used to be this kind of little quaint subset of customer service, right? So existing customers making sure that they’re okay, but it’s expanded past that. I mean, it’s moved into the sales universe because we’re seeing experience as a consistent thread. So it’s moved into sales and now moved into the marketing sensibility and pull that thread together, kind of help us understand how customer experience starts and where it goes and why that understanding is important.
Mary Drumond (11:47):
This is one of my favorite questions to answer normally, because I have really different answer than everybody else. Um, the whole of customer experience has been going on for like 20 plus years. There are several different trains of thought that led to the conclusion that customer experience is important. Where does it overlap with other practices? Where does it get kind of muddled with customer service, customer care, customer success, et cetera. What I like to say is that customer experience is a lot more macro than these individual things, because it has to do with the way your customers feel and perceive and live every single moment with your brand from before they do business with you. When they’re just observing you in the market two way after post-purchase or churn where you still exist in the same universe as they, and they may come back to do business with you at any given time.
Mary Drumond (12:44):
So it’s every single way that the customer experiences your brand throughout their entire lives, actually, especially with some brands that have been there since forever. So it doesn’t really ever stop. One thing that you said, which is really interesting is that it used to be kind of this cute little idea or concept, but that concept didn’t actually lead anyone anywhere. And it was really pretty and it was really nice and it was great and inspiring to hear about how we should put our customers first and we should value them. And, you know, you had a lot of speakers and a lot of consultants preaching this message and it was great. And I think what happened is that some executives and some boards got on that bandwagon and decided that they were going to invest in customer experience. And what ended up happening is that you had this big push towards putting customers in the center, listening to your customers and providing the company with metrics that proved that you were somehow making your customers happier.
Mary Drumond (13:56):
And it resulted in absolutely no difference to the money that was put in the investment of creating these customer experience programs. And I think that even more tragically, there was no correlation of those programs with company numbers. So the profit didn’t go up, customers didn’t buy more on paper and they didn’t churn less on paper. That’s a big problem because why would any executive invest in a program that costs time, money, and effort when ultimately the results just aren’t there. And that’s when, what I like to call customer experience 2.0 was kind of born with that idea that your customer experience efforts have to tie into your ROI. Somehow they have to be linked to your profit and they have to be used as a growth strategy. And if that’s not how you’re doing CX, then you’re not doing it right. So that’s a message that I focus on. And I really try to hit over the head all the time. If you are not able to prove to your executive board, to your C suite, to your leadership, that the work that you’re doing with the customers is actually resulting in more money for your organization. You’re going to be canceled. And if I were the CEO, I would cancel you too, because it’s not a smart business decision to continue investing in something that has no proven results.
John Farkas (15:25):
So what does customer experience as a growth strategy look like, take us under the hood a little bit and say, what is the anatomy? What are the KPIs? What are we, what are we staring at there that will make us compelled to hold this as a critical initiative?
Mary Drumond (15:44):
If you consider that the way to get people to buy more is if you’re able to provide them with a solution to their need, okay, let’s start right there. So I think that in general, people tend to have this mistaken impression that customer needs are constantly changing. The truth is that the need itself doesn’t change. The needs have always been the same because, you know, if you look at, I don’t know, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are some essential needs right there that as humans we always need, and that doesn’t really change. What you get is expectations that customers have, depending on how the market is progressing through innovation, through technology, through disruption that constantly affects where customers are looking when it comes to solving that need. So, you know, an example that I like using is car shopping, because it tends to be an example that everybody can relate to, right?
Mary Drumond (16:45):
So if you look at what we call the customer decision loop and what leads people to make decisions and actually exchange money for a product or service with a company, which has growth, right? If you consider that the need isn’t, I need a car, the need is transportation. And that has always been there. You know, maybe it was a horse, maybe, um, it was a wagon nowadays it may or may not be a vehicle. I mean, it could be a bicycle, it could be a suitor, but one way or another, you need transportation, right? So when you start looking at the market and what the market offers, you, you’ve got a plethora of alternatives, you know, ranging from a super powerful, a gas guzzling SUV, all the way to like an E car that doesn’t pollute. You’ve got options like Tesla, which is now super technological.
Mary Drumond (17:37):
So you mix technology with horsepower and clean energy all at the same time. Right. And all of the options out there start forming the expectations of the, as to what they need. Right. So let’s imagine I’m super environmentally conscious and I want to do something good for the environment. Right. So I’m like, okay, I want an electric car, but I’m also a bit of a classy bitch. So maybe I want a fancy car. Okay. So I want something that’s, you know, sleek and beautiful and has all the little girly accessories that I’m personally looking for in a car, maybe something European. Right. I don’t know. Um, so I put out my expectations and then I immediately weigh them out with what I’m able to afford. Right. So, uh, can’t afford a Tesla. So that’s out the window. What are the other options that are cheaper?
Mary Drumond (18:33):
Okay. And I start considering that. So I weigh out my expectations with my reality and I decide what’s worth it for me. So is it worth it for me to possibly go into debt to buy a BMW, or should I maybe consider a Chevrolet volt or something like that, which will give me that those electric features, et cetera, without breaking the bank. So I’ll make that cost benefit decision in my mind until ultimately after weighing all of the pros and cons decide what’s worth it for me as a consumer right now, who gets to control those aspects, the company, the company controls the expectations that the customers have with the brand. Right? But one thing is for sure, once the customer decides that something is worth it, they weighed out the cost versus the benefit. Now we’re talking about cars right now, but if we apply that same idea to anything else, cost can be money, but cost can also be time. It can also be effort and the benefit can be a product, or it can be a service, or it can be anything when it comes down to it, that worth it decision exists in every single aspect of our lives.
Angus Nelson (19:47):
So we’re going from classy, bougie ratchet to, you know, this B to B context. So we can go from cars and, and context of the customer. Who’s looking at, you know, a product of a consumer brand. So let’s take this into like the business brand. Now they’re looking at software, that’s going to accomplish something in light of everything that’s going on. We’ve got contextually trying to look forward, you know, w w how do we get in front of this number two is what, uh, what do you know our clients want? And then the third piece is what’s going to be most efficient for our companies. Like, can you kind of unpack all of that for the business side?
Mary Drumond (20:26):
I mean, all you have to do is change those variables a little bit, right? If instead of a car, it’s a SaaS platform, right? The drivers are still exactly the same. Because even though you’re like, Oh, it’s B2B, it’s still a person on the other side. And that person is still looking for certain elements to make it worth it. So you may think that it’s a company. No. All they have to do is make sure that whichever decision they make aligns with company values, but ultimately it’s still a person on the other side, and they’re still going to weigh out those costs versus benefits. Sometimes those costs are, Oh, I might have to push this a little bit further up the line because it’s more expensive. And sometimes it’ll just be, we actually don’t have the budget to spend that. Right. But in general, when it comes down to it, we have found that there are five decision drivers that are responsible for, with like a 92% confidence level for all decisions, whether it’s B2B or B2C there’s absolutely no difference when it comes to that. Decisions are still made by humans and humans are motivated by these same drivers when it comes to purchasing decisions and they are cost quality now in no specific order. Okay. This varies according to what it is that they’re buying, but it’s cost, price, relationship, brand identification, and social proof. Now you may think that, Oh, BTBY it. Social proof doesn’t count for B2B at all. And I will tell you right now that that is not true at all.
Angus Nelson (22:00):
Or G2 would lose their entire business model if that wasn’t the case. Yeah.
Mary Drumond (22:05):
Yeah. I mean, there are some companies that rely almost exclusively on social proof and they’ve built that really, really well. So those motivators that actually impulse or drive the decision to purchase or not, that’s what companies have to be aware of. They have to be aware of which drivers, the company, the customer is looking at when making a decision, because that’s when you get to actually design products or services that are tailored to that need, right? So if you know that your buyer is really sensitive to price, then you understand that you’ve got to drive that price as low as possible. And you may be able to compromise other areas of the experience because what matters to them is price. But if they’re more focused on brand identification, then you know that the, the material that you’re putting out in the media, the messaging that you’re getting across, there are plenty of B2B brands out there that have really strong corporate messaging because they understand how important that is to their buyers.
Mary Drumond (23:14):
And they do this on purpose. They do this because it matters, you know? Um, and so what happens is there are times that one of these drivers takes absolute precedence over everything else. And then all you need to do is fine. Tune it specifically to that one need. There are other times that it’s more leveled out. Maybe it’s a little bit here. Maybe it’s a little bit there. Maybe this changes according to how the market is moving, maybe there’s a freaking pandemic and all of a sudden everything shifts out of place as a, you have to have that constant finger on the pulse, and you have to understand what’s changing in your customer’s expectations as the market moves along. So this has to be a constant effort. You can’t just listen to your customers once and then make all your decisions to kingdom. Come based on that moment.
John Farkas (24:03):
Yeah. Mary, do you have a specific case study of a B2B company? That’s doing a really nice job of following that thread.
Mary Drumond (24:09):
We work with a couple of B2B companies, but I can give you an example of social proof of a company that we worked with a little while ago. And it was Praxair Praxair. For those who don’t know, essentially sells air, they sell oxygen, they sell nitrogen, et cetera, normally commercial grade, uh, one of their biggest consumers is hospitals, but, uh, manufacturing is also a really big consumer of those products. And it’s all cylinders right now. Praxair tends to have a higher price point than the rest of the market. So in the project that we ran oppressor was trying to understand how they could raise their prices without churn. So they wanted to make sure that if they raised their prices, they wouldn’t lose all their customers. At that time, there was a bit of a financial instability in the market that we were running the project in, and it was actually kind of a big deal.
Mary Drumond (25:06):
Now, our study, like I said earlier, pinpointed that one of the main influencers or drivers of the purchasing department for, for the buyers that were responsible for making those purchases, they didn’t want to risk low quality because there was a lot hinges on that. In many cases, there were lives hinging on that because it was for hospital use. So the most important thing to them was that they trusted the brand and that the market trusted the brand because you see what happens is for that buyer to say, Oh, I decided to go with a cheaper option to test it out. Versus I went with the very best brand in the market that everybody trusts, if something goes wrong, can you blame that person? No, they went with the market leader. So in that case, and in that market, the benefit that Prax air had with their social proof was really, really strong. So the recommendation in that case was to send out corporate messaging, trying to reinforce that position and that leadership as the number one in quality as the number one in processes and in maintenance, et cetera, et cetera, and then raise the price. And what happened is that it worked, they were able to increase their prices with very, very little low churn because the companies that were buying them had that extra strong messaging that by buying with Prax air, they’d be making the right decision.
Angus Nelson (26:51):
So if there’s a CMOs listening right now, obviously they’re threatened by a CMOs listening to this conversation and obviously threatened not only by the conditions of the market, but obviously current events. What are the questions that they should be asking who on their team do they need to go to? And what questions specifically, should they ask to start uncovering some of these most critical issues?
Mary Drumond (27:13):
I would say that there are two options. One is understanding customers’ expectations. I would say that that’s the most important thing. And being able to keep track of how they’re changing, because they’re changing really, really fast. So finding out what’s top of mind for your consumers, the last thing that you want is to become the world’s next Blackberry or toys R us where in a, in a heartbeat, some new player or some new product comes and just obliterates, not only your market leadership, but your company entirely because you were so fixed on keeping that Cordy keyboard, which was amazing by the way that you fail to innovate in the direction that the market and your customers are heading and you just end up becoming yesterday’s news. And the other thing is that you have to really have a deep understanding of your competitive landscape because sometimes your traditional threats or the competitors that you’ve done, such a good job in mapping out, they have just as hard, a time in adapting to change as you do, especially if you’re a large organization, when you have enterprises turning that ship, it takes a second change.
Mary Drumond (28:33):
Doesn’t come fast. But if you consider a player in the telecom industry, for example, like Verizon, Verizon’s biggest threats, aren’t 80 and T and T-Mobile because those companies have the same struggles and challenges with speed and agility, but you have to be most concerned about is that little startup in some garage, out in the middle of nowhere, that’s coming out with the next technology that’s going to make you entirely irrelevant, irrelevant in a heartbeat. And one thing I can say for sure, your customers see that threat or that option popping up in their radar way before you do most of the time, because you’re so focused on the competitors that you’ve mapped out and on their actions and what they’re doing next, that you, you don’t have the tools or you, you don’t even have. I don’t even think it’s possible to keep an eye on the entire market.
Mary Drumond (29:35):
At the same time. Customers do, customers are always looking for the next best thing and the next way to save them when it comes to that cost versus benefit, how can I spend less and gain more? This is what we’re constantly looking for as consumers. We’re programmed to do that. And once again, that cost isn’t always money. There are plenty of people and plenty of organizations that are not cost sensitive, but price sensitive, money sensitive, but they may be sensitive to other things like effort, right? And that’s also something that they have to give up in order to gain that benefit. So understanding not only what your customer is sensitive to, but understanding that they are always looking for better alternatives in the market and they know before you do so you can ask them and they’ll tell you, that’s the best part. You can ask them.
Mary Drumond (30:35):
And they’re telling you, and we are able to design a really amazing competitive landscape where you see emerging threats and the emerging threats option in worth X is probably one of the coolest things on our dashboard, because sometimes you’ll see a player that’s like way off in the little corner, and they’ve got a little tiny bit of market share, but their potential of taking over your business is super duper high. So that kind of angle, or that point of view on your competitive landscape is really important, especially for organizations that have multiple locations. So, you know, the U S is a huge country. It’s continental, and it changes so drastically from West to East, North to South. But imagine how difficult it is for a global company that has customers that speak different languages that have different cultures, that they can’t even relate to. The things that one market has.
Mary Drumond (31:31):
You know, I like giving the example of McDonald’s because I recently interviewed a top marketer at McDonald’s that explained to me that McDonald’s changes everything depending on the region, like the local franchisees, they can change the colors, they can change the menu, they can change the wording, they change everything. So, you know, you go to India, you’re not gonna find a beef Patty. And if you go to France, you find Palm oil on the menu, you know, and there are some countries that McDonald’s is green instead of red, because red has a yucky connotation in that culture. What does it take for a company to be able to cater to so many different people with so many different needs on a global scale? Well, it, honestly it takes really, really good listening skills and it takes large scale empathy to be able to understand and cater to each of these individual groups appropriately.
John Farkas (32:26):
So let’s jump into a little bit of a practicum here. I’m a marketing leader of an organization. As I fight the war of trying to prove out and get things showing up on my board of I’m impacting the sales equation and the revenue equation, what is consistently jumping in my way. And I’m hearing it on multiple fronts is we have a customer experience problem. It’s showing up in reviews. It’s showing up in the conversations in peer to peer organizations, it’s showing up multiple places and I’m getting that feedback. How do I begin to address that from my seat? I’m in marketing. Okay. I don’t have control of the whole chain, but I certainly have ability to underscore the issue. How do I start that conversation?
Mary Drumond (33:18):
It really depends on the organization that you are in and the leadership that you have. If you have a CEO that’s onboard with switching things up, so that you’re more customer focused, then you might just be able to have a conversation with that CEO and make it happen. Now, in cases where you’ve got several different tiers of leadership, you may not have access to the individuals that are responsible for making the decisions that will actually matter. You still have the possibility of changing your corner of the world. So to say, and if you’re in marketing, the one thing that you do control to a really large degree is corporate messaging and the message that the company is getting across. And one of the biggest issues that we tend to find in customer experience, John is expectation gaps, which is the customer perceives the experience as being different than it actually is. And when that happens, what you get is really, really deep frustration. And, you know, to paraphrase Yoda here, you know, frustration leads to anger and anger leads to churn. Um, and that’s something that you can definitely affect from a marketing perspective, you know, because if you’re telling your customers that they are going to have XYZ, and once they sign on, they’re getting F S and w you’re going to have a problem on your hand. And of course it may not be that clearly cut. And there may be a lot of different aspects in the organization that are affecting the outcome. So maybe there’s a problem in manufacturing. Maybe there’s a problem in supply chain. But one thing that we know for sure is that once expectations are reset, the customer becomes more tolerant. A really good example of this is Amazon. Amazon is always used as examples. It’s frustrating that they always get it right.
John Farkas (35:15):
They have a little bit of data. They do,
Mary Drumond (35:19):
You know, it’s interesting because we’ve got, you know, I’m a prime member, whatever I get two day shipping, but if I get an email say, Hey, there’s been a problem with your order. And your delivery is going to be delayed. I’m like, okay. I mean, there may or may not be an outlier in which, Oh my God, I actually needed that product within eight hours. And now you’re ruining my life. But again, that’s an outlier in general. Customers tend to be really tolerant when they get an email saying, Hey, there’s been a delay period. That’s it. You reset the expectations. The problem is that they communicate nothing. And then you start getting a whole bunch of calls. You get frustration, you get, um, impatience, you get all these negative emotions that lead to a negative experience. Amazon is able to foresee and anticipate that and actually give people a heads up.
John Farkas (36:09):
Yeah, it’s true. I mean, I think that we have a pretty unique angle as marketers because part of our job is to stay objective. Part of our world. We talk about as being the translation layer between the product and the market and part of our job is to maintain a degree of objectivity that allows us to listen. Well, that allows us to reflect the closest thing that you have inside of an organization to truth, because we live in a highly subjective existence. Sometimes we’re the last to know when an emerging competitor comes out here because we’re not focused on that horizon. We’re focused on making our product, our service, the best it can be and getting our numbers. The marketing serves an important alert function oftentimes and saying, okay, we can’t resolve these equations if we’re not providing X, Y, Z type of experience, because we’re not living up to our promises.
John Farkas (37:05):
We’re not holding our brand promise here because we’re falling short in these critical elements. And if we’re not reflecting that back as the objective translation layer, that’s a critical misstep and an important part that marketing plays in the equation of experience. Absolutely. So I’m jumping in the beginning to understand the critical nature of customer experience, and I’m wanting to identify some KPIs first, what would be an essential KPI that I need to start measuring? And how would you round out the picture? What are some of the things that I need to be putting on a scorecard that will help me make meaningful movement in this direction?
Mary Drumond (37:46):
Well, it’s kind of an unfair question to ask me because Worthix is a KPI. So you’re only going to get one answer from me, which is Worthix
John Farkas (38:01):
[inaudible]. Mary you’re welcome. Okay.
Mary Drumond (38:03):
A little shameless plug right there. Thanks for that, John. Um, so yeah, Worthix does have a KPI, which is the worth index. And of course, I believe that it is absolutely the greatest and you can take my word for it, or you could consider me super duper biased, but I’ll explain, and I’ll give some context. There are plenty of KPIs out there, and they do a really good job at explaining very specific things. So you have customer satisfaction, which has been used for a really long time, right? Which is basically, are you satisfied? And then there’s a scale from either zero to 10 or zero to five or point scale. You want to use the problem with the customer satisfaction scale. Going back to Blackberry for a second, Blackberry was actually peaking and it’s customer satisfaction scores the day, the year that it went out of business, because satisfaction is not enough, super subjective.
Mary Drumond (38:54):
You can be super duper happy and still leave for a series of reasons. So even though I think it’s important to understand if your customers are happy, right? It really helps with that expectation gap that we were talking about earlier. I don’t think it’s enough, right? Another option that’s really popular out there is the net promoter system, right? NPS that’s widely used by many organizations and it’s a Bain company product. And it’s a really decent product with really brilliant people behind it. And the question that it poses to its respondees is would you recommend it and this product to your friends and family and the idea behind it is that if you would recommend a product to the people that you love, then you’re likely to rebuy that product. Right. So, yay. I mean, it’s great. Again, it’s on a scale from either zero to 10 and zero to five.
Mary Drumond (39:52):
There are a lot of really good things about NPS. I think that it works really well as a thermometer. Okay. To be an initial way of diagnosing, if you have a problem or not, right? It says, Hey, your scores suck. You need to improve, right. There’s something that needs to be looked into, but it doesn’t do a good job diagnosing what the problem is. Um, I do believe that Bain has a consulting part of the organization that does do this diagnostic work, but it won’t do it quickly in a one or two question survey. It doesn’t provide those answers on a silver platter to the company. And that’s where worth X comes in. I think, and we see a lot of companies that run NPS because it’s part of their bonus structure. It’s part of their organizational ready. And then they use worth X to help them understand the fluctuations in that KPI, or understand how to make it go up or why it’s going down because worth X works a lot more as the blood work, going back to that thermometer analogy, right?
Mary Drumond (40:54):
So the thermometer says, Hey, you have a fever. You probably have an infection. Now, what is causing that infection? And what do you need to take to make that infection go away? And that’s what worth X can do because we get into the nitty gritty and we’re able to pinpoint, Hey, your customer is giving you shitty NPS scores because they’re buying your product and your product has a defect in this one very specific issue. And it’s causing them to then have to return it. And then they have to go through all of that effort. And nobody wants that. So we’ve had cases where, um, it was a lingerie company and they had this like massive detraction where lost all these consumers over an amount of time and worth X was able to pinpoint like down to like really, really minute detail. Like there is a problem with this thong that the laced hairs phone within three weeks, and it’s an expensive thong. And then they have to try to return it because they bought it online. And then that sometimes they give up on returning it because they don’t want to go through the hassle. And then they end up with that crap product. And then they’re just like, I’m never going to buy from you again.
John Farkas (42:06):
I hate it when that happens.
Mary Drumond (42:09):
So relatable, not only understanding why your scores are high or low, but being able to identify what you need to do to make them stop being low and start being high, I think is really important.
John Farkas (42:26):
The thing that I love about what Worthix does, and I’m going to follow you here, Mary, so you’re welcome again. Um, but the thing I love about what Worthix does is it takes a, multi-variant highly subjective, difficult to translate aspect of what we do as product providers and give it some really objective legs data speaks. It absolutely does. And it’s hard to, to pull through all the time. And that’s the value of what you do, because experience is very important and it is very subjective. The ability for organizations to take that huge data set that was the multi-variant universe and distill it down into some actionable elements that we can put into a practice is a real opportunity. And I think it’s a real opportunity for marketing executives to jump the hurdle of what do we do with this and get it into action, because it does make a difference.
John Farkas (43:26):
And in a world where we’re facing lots of reviews happening, we have lots of channels where people are talking about their experiences with different solution providers. And that is an increasingly critical part of the buying decision, because that’s all part of our research vector. We’re looking for those jumping the fence for a second in the consumer. I was just talking about with the guys before we started the interview with you, I’m increasingly losing trust on reviews that are put in, in the context of like Amazon, for instance, I don’t trust Amazon reviews anymore. Can’t I have to look outside that I have to do research outside that loop to make sure that what I, the jump I’m getting ready to take is a good jump.
Mary Drumond (44:14):
One of the most elementary mistakes that are made in marketing research and a voice of customer feedback is that frequency is not impact just because a complaint shows up all the time. It doesn’t mean that that complaint is causing customers to stay or leave. We were trying to explain where the XO I work at with IX, with my husband, my husband is the CEO. And really early on when the company was still in its inception, he was trying to explain the concept of frequency versus impact to an investor. And he was having a hard time with it. And he recalled a situation that had happened before he left the house, which is that we were newlyweds. And he had this terrible habit of walking out of the bathroom and throwing his wet towel on the bed. But it wasn’t only on the bed. It was on my side of the bank. So that when I got under the blankets at night, it was like, damn right, like really shitty. And I,
John Farkas (45:19):
Okay guys. Faux pas!
Mary Drumond (45:23):
I would lose my shit monumentally. Like every time it happened, right? So he drew from this example and said, look, if you were to ask my wife right now, her number one complaint about our marriage is she’s going to say the wet towel. It’s going to be the wet towel. She bitches about this every single day. And it’s true. I did the, here’s the thing. I never get a divorce over a wet towel. I would never leave my husband because he leaves the wet towel on the bed. Now, if on one occasion I were to get home early and find him in bed with somebody else done, right? That’s the difference between frequency and impact. So understanding which shirt frequently negative experience can eventually wear someone down, of course. But if you had to focus on something that would maybe eventually longterm cause your customers to churn or something that when it happens, even once it causes your customer to leave you, which one would you focus on? You know, prioritize impact is probably the most important element to evaluate and customer feedback. And there are so few companies out there that are actually doing that.
Angus Nelson (46:39):
Hmm. I’ve got a hashtag for today. Hashtag classy, bougie hierarchy of data. That’s a little bit hard to spell impact frequency.
Mark Whitlock (46:55):
Well, Mary, thank you so much for joining us on studio CMIO.
Mary Drumond (46:58):
Well, it was my pleasure. I hope I didn’t talk too much. No, we can always edit it out.
Mark Whitlock (47:07):
We can. And one of the things that Mary talked about was the idea of coming up with a competitive landscape, understanding your competition. So when you come to studio, cmo.com/worthix that studiocmo.com/worthix, you’re going to come to the show notes for this episode and we’ll link out to the Worthix website where you can check them out. We’re also going to link one of our most popular resources that we offer here at golden spiral. And that is our competitive document. It gives you a chance to look at a competitive analysis and how to build one for your company. So come to studiocmo.com/worthix, and you can download that free resource from Golden Spiral.
John Farkas (47:46):
I was going to make a pithy comment that told Mary’s husband. He he’s safe to leave the towel on the bed, but I looked up his name and I can’t, I don’t have a shot at pronouncing it. And I’ve just got to ask, how do you pronounce your husband’s name?
Mary Drumond (48:02):
His name is Guilherme, which is essentially William in Portuguese because he’s from Brazil. Um, Guilherme is a really difficult name to pronounce even for the greatest linguist out there. So Gi is what he goes by and to make it easier at clarified butter, um, Gi. So D and last name, Cerqueira, which is also a mouthful. But if you think of cicadas, the annoying pesky summer bug, then it makes it easy. So clarified butter cicada.
Angus Nelson (48:35):
Now you live in Atlanta for cicadas. There you go.
Mary Drumond (48:38):
You know what? There’ve been very few cicadas this year. It’s weird. Maybe they know about the pandemic and they’re keeping their social distance.
Mark Whitlock (48:46):
Thanks for listening to studio CMO, and always remember.
Mary Drumond (48:49):
to be worth it,
Angus Nelson (48:50):
understand your buyer’s problems.
Mark Whitllock (48:52):
lead out of an empathetic understanding.
John Farkas (48:54):
and make your buyer the hero.
Mark Whitlock (48:56):
We’ll see you next time on Studio CMO