Customer Experience: The Basics

CSB

In case you haven’t heard me obsess about it before, I’m a Jay Baer/Convince & Convert addict. Jay and his team are the definition of social media pros. From content to digital media and everything in between, they are my go-to resource for any questions or curiosities I have in relation to social media, content, or PR.

One of Jay’s many content streams are his #JayToday videos, in which he spends 3 minutes chatting about a topic every weekday. I recently viewed this video by him, and it sparked some thoughts in me. Especially the quote, “If it requires 5 steps to do this today, how can we make it 4 steps. And then how can we make it 3.” That is the core of…

CUSTOMER Experience 

A great customer experience is essential in setting your company apart from the clutter. But before we get too far, let’s define “customer experience.”  To aid in this, a quote from the Harvard Business Review:

Companies have long emphasized touchpoints—the many critical moments when customers interact with the organization and its offerings on their way to purchase and after. But the narrow focus on maximizing satisfaction at those moments can create a distorted picture, suggesting that customers are happier with the company than they actually are. It also diverts attention from the bigger—and more important—picture: the customer’s end-to-end journey.

Customer experience is less about optimizing individual pain-points within a customer’s interaction with a brand and more about the overall journey. Hence,

Customer Journey Mapping

A customer journey map is literally a diagram that illustrates the various steps that your customers go through in engaging with your company. It can range from product to online to retail or anything in between – and it covers everything. The more complex your process is, the more difficult to create but important this tool will be.

Let’s think about an example of this in the banking industry, specifically at the process of signing up for a new checking account at a brand new bank. Where are some possible touchpoints in this process?

  • Performing online research on the bank
    • Comparing one bank’s website appearance to others
  • Navigating the website to find account information, locations, rates, contact info, etc
    • How easy is the site to navigate?
    • How many clicks?
    • *This comes back to User Experience
  • Sending an email to the bank
    • How long will they wait for a response?
    • Is an automated response sent?
    • Do they receive a phone call after sending an email?
  • Calling the bank
    • Who answers? (loan officer, receptionist, teller, etc.)
    • What is the process for transferring them to the right person?
  • Visiting the actual bank

The list could go on and on. Journey Mapping allows us to display all of the touchpoints with a consumer in one easy format, so that we can identify pain-points, perhaps like these:

  • The need to call to set up an account – can’t I just do it online?
  • The absence of a free checking account – what if I don’t want one with a minimum balance requirement?
  • Complexities in the website design (User Experience) is the website difficult to navigate?
  • If/when I do call the bank, how long am I on hold? Or what is the automated answering machine like to navigate? How much information do I have to give to whomever I’m speaking with?

It’s important to remember while doing customer journey mapping what the customer is likely feeling/thinking at each touchpoint.

So what does the customer journey map actually look like? Here’s a beautiful example from my company, Flint Group, that details the customer journey of filling up with gas:

cjm

As you can see, this journey map takes into account Justin’s thought process, what he encounters throughout the experience, and how it affected him (ie. what the pain-points were). That’s not to say that every customer will go through this same experience, and that’s why it’s important to develop those audience personas, like Justin.

As you can see, customer journey mapping can unveil serious sticking points within your customer experience process, as well as highlight what you’re doing really well already. Try it out for your organization – and share what you discover!

#EmilyFayeSays

T-Swift is at it again

Whoda thunk. The same sappy, love-sick, boy crazy young girl who brought tweens lyrics like “It’s a love story baby just say yes” and “He’s the reason for the tear drops on my guitar” would turn into an bad***, strong, professional, & independent ultra-mega-super-star.

Taylor Swift.

I must admit, my affection for her has traveled like a roller coaster. As an emotional, small-town teenager myself, I loved her. As a young adult, towards the end of Taylor’s country career, I found her extremely annoying. But as an adult who appreciate strong, positive female role models and savvy business-women, I adore, envy, and respect her.

The woman’s a straight-up marketing genius. She’s authentic, engaging, and relatable. She goes above and beyond to show her customers (fans) that she appreciates their business (obsessions). She’s got the hyped-up release thing down pat. Plus I just feel like I could chill with her, in my sweats, at her NYC apartment, drinking Diet Coke, eating pastries & being totally cool with each other’s love of cats. Tay, if you’re out there, hit me up.

But seriously, can we talk about her 1989 album release tactics? Specifically on Instagram, T-Swiz had fans SHAKING (get it?) (if not just shake it off…) in anticipation of her album’s release with her gradual postings of song lyrics. Some examples:

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lyrics2

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You get the “picture.” (Ha, I kill me.) Not only was she super engaging with fans online, but offline she literally invited fans to her house(s). Yes, into her home. She had her team scout out the true, die-hard Swifties via different social channels, and then invited them to “Secret Sessions” at her home where they could meet Swift & her kitties (!!!) and listen to the 1989 album before anyone else. This “Swiftie hunting” continued past album release, and Tay would follow up on certain fans’ questions or concerns with things like money, hand-written letters and/or thoughtful gifts. She was (& still is) truly engaged and so so so down to earth.

The real question, though: did all of these tactics actually work?

During the first week that 1989 was released, Taylor had $1.287 million in album sales. That’s the highest-grossing week for an album since the release of Eminem’s “The Eminem Show” in 2002. I think it worked. And I must admit, I helped out those numbers! I think that was the first physical CD I purchased since “From Under the Cork Tree” by Fall Out Boy in 2005. Yikes.

Now, Swizzle is at it again with the launch of her “Bad Blood” music video. Have you seen these insane images with mega-stars she’s been sharing? So far, the lineup consists of some major names along with some bad*** images:

  • Taylor: Catastrophe
  • Lily Aldridge: Frostbyte
  • Zendaya: Cut-Throat
  • Haley Williams: The Crimson Curse
  • Gigi Hadid: Slay-Z
  • Ellie Goulding: Destructa X
  • Haliee Steinfeld: The Trinity
  • Lena Dunham: Lucky Fiori
  • Kendrick Lamar: Welvin Da Great
  • Karlie Kloss: Knockout
  • Serayah: Dilemma
  • Jessica Alba: Domino
  • Martha Hunt: Homeslice
  • Ellen Pompeo: Luna
  • Mariska Hargitay: Justice
  • Cara Delevingne: Mother Chucker
  • Cindy Crawford: Headmistress
  • Selena Gomez: Arsyn

BB3

BB2

BB1

The music video will air May 17th during the Billboard Music Awards, and you bet your Swiftie butt I will be waiting & watching (and posting an update!) And it’s not like I’m this major, crazy, Taylor-obsessed fan. I just am truly intrigued, and all of the exciting lead-up is definitely to blame. I fell for it – hook, line and singer (that’s how it goes, right?) (can’t stop won’t stop) and I’m not ashamed.

T-Swift, you keep doing you, and keep showing the world that even if you started out as a boy-crazy, hormonal, crazy teenager (like we all did), you will get past that and blossom into a smart, talented, professional & inspirational woman if you try.

UPDATE

Here’s the video with some Buzzfeed commentary. Guys, I’ve gotta girl crush. So many powerful women in one place. Can’t. Stop. Watching. That is all.

#EmilyFayeSays

10 Things I Wish I’d Known in College

College is the time for knowledge (rhyme unintended) (or was it?). It’s a time to immerse yourself in your studies, find your passions, uncover your skill set and blaze your personal trail. At least that’s what your high school guidance teacher tells you when you’re a senior and about to graduate.

But for a lot of kids, when you get there it takes a different path. It’s more about independence, no rules or curfews, freedom, making friends, trying new things, and probably spending too much money. Often times, that means that studies fall to the wayside. And don’t get me wrong, that’s okay to a point, but like Joni Mitchell warned, “you don’t know what you got til it’s gone.” (definitely had to Google who sang the original – millennial problems…)

grad

As a graduate now and someone fortunate enough to have happened upon my desired career path fairly early in life, I find myself looking back at what I wish I’d done differently in my college experience. And while, like many college kids, I wish I’d taken less student loans and studied more, this list gets into it a bit more than that. So, here you go…

10 Things I Wish I’d Known in COLLEGE

 1. College professors are actually really awesome. They’re not your high school teachers. They aren’t there to make sure you behave, hold your hand, keep an eye on you etc. They’re there because they are passionate about what they’re teaching, and they want to share that knowledge with their students. Don’t waste the chance to develop relationships with these folks. They can write you recommendations, give you career guidance, and maybe even become your mentor one day.

2. You will regret a bad grade more than missing out on a night of partying. AKA: get your priorities in order. If you have a sociology exam Friday morning, then maybe (just maybe) your time would be better spent in a cramming session vs drinking from a flat keg at a frat house until 3AM. I get it, FOMO is real, but so is having to retake a class after you fail it, or missing graduation honors by decimal points of your GPA. Be smart.

3. Get real-world experience within your major. Some majors, like nursing and education, already have requirements in place that you actually experience the jobs before you can graduate. However others (ahem, marketing) don’t. But it is so important to have some kind of relevant experience within your major when you graduate, because it will give you a definite leg-up on the competition. For example, finance major? Get a teller job. Management major? Work your way up in retail. Communications major? Good luck. Just kidding, you could check out administrative positions. You get the picture. Or maybe if you can’t find anything or nothing seems to fit, do your own thing! Which leads to my next point…

4. Differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. What are you passionate about? Animals? Social media? Children? The environment? Now think about this: how can you use that passion to differentiate yourself? Maybe it’s volunteering at a shelter, becoming a big brother/sister to someone, offering to do a company’s social media for free, or getting involved with environmental legislation. Whatever it is, getting involved and following your passion will not only differentiate you, but will help you get a career that you want, rather than a job you have to have.

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5. Really f***ing try in class. I made the mistake of saying “I’m so over this” about 498 times during my college career. I got good grades still, blessed with good guessing skills & my natural ability to BS my way through anything , but what benefit was it to me? After all I was PAYING TO LEARN. The point of college is not simply to just make it to graduation. And while there are things I learned that I still carry with me today, there is so much more I wish I could go back and really absorb. Read textbook. Ask professors hard questions. Stay after class if I didn’t understand. Really…. try.

6. You don’t need those $78 jeans. You will never in your life need $78 jeans. You will learn this about 6 months after graduation, when your first student loan payment is due. You will never pay more than $25 for a pair of jeans again. And a $30 t-shirt. Fahgettaboutet. Thrift stores, clearance racks, using what  you have… stop buying expensive clothes. Save. Your. Money.

7. Spaghetti-o’s and Dr. Pepper do not a meal make. You know, the dining hall does have a salad bar with low-fat dressing. Also, you can buy frozen vegetables for about the same price as those canned monstrosities with the “noodles” and the “meatballs.” Oh, and wheat bread tastes the same as white bread. I know, right? Take care of your body. Just because mom’s not around to cook for you, doesn’t mean you can go gain 20 pounds. Also: stay active. Your school’s gym is cheaper and nicer than anything in the real world, so don’t waste the chance to use it.

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8. Show your school spirit, damnit. At St. Cloud State University, we had a saying we’d use sarcastically: “St. Cloud Proud…”. We’d say it whenever something bad/embarrassing would happen at our school. Not exactly bubbling over with school spirit. But I have friends who went to other schools who are the opposite. They go to alumni events, they cheer on their sports teams, they are involved and they’re really passionate fans. I find myself jealous of them. I wish I’d been a better fan, because then I could be part of the Husky community with more pride.

9. Use social media wisely. I’m not going to preach the whole “no beer bongs on Facebook” thing because you’ve heard that 15 times over. However, I do feel that college students can use social media wisely and strategically. Connect with your professors. Reach out to businesses you’re interested in. Stay active on LinkedIn. Use Twitter less for retweeting @CommonFemale or @GuyCodes and more for retweeting at @Forbes or @Kiplinger. Use your social presence wisely. (For more tips, check out my slideshow here.)

10. Cherish. Every. Second. You’ve heard this before, but take it from a once-jaded college grad who couldn’t wait to throw up deuces to my university and start pounding pavement: you will miss it. I miss the simple things. Learning. Flexible schedules. Meeting new people. Writing essays (for real). I wish I could go back sometimes. So cherish every second of it. Because it’s going to go fast, it’s going to be crazy, and you are going to miss it.

#EmilyFayeSays

Is your brand believable?

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a superfan of the Fast & Furious franchise. I have seen every movie multiple times (just saw 7 last night, so many tears!), and any time one is on TV, I find myself sucked in again. There’s just something about these action-packed, insane, funny, beautiful movies that gets me every time. Why on earth would a movie that is centered around extreme, out-of-the-box action scenes sit so dearly in my heart? I realized that I can trace my answer back to one thing: believably.

If you’ve ever seen a Fast & Furious movie, you know that the main character, Dominic Toretto (played by Vin Diesel) places family at the highest importance. And in the movie, all of the actors do an amazing job to make their “family” look so real. How? Because they’re all a big family on and off the screen. They live and breathe what they do and who they portray, and it translates to the big screen beautifully.

This is an important lesson that can be translated to many other areas. Specifically, though, I want to talk about brand. Is your brand believable? Do people trust that your brand’s mission translates to your brand itself? Here are some examples of big, successful brands and their mission statements.

Coke

Coca-Cola: To refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, to create value and to make a difference.

Nike

Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

Google

Google: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

How believable are those statements pertaining to their brands? Pretty believable, right? How do you think they were able to make them believable? Through their actions, of course.

Coca-Cola: Coke founded the Coca-Cola Foundation in 1984, with the goal of enhancing the sustainability of local communities worldwide. This Foundation has since partnered with international organizations to promote water stewardship, women’s rights, healthy and active lifestyles, community recycling and education, as well as disaster relief.

I think they’re making a difference.

Nike: Through the Nike Foundation, Nike leverages the power of their employees, brands, consumers and partners to create positive, long-term changes that increase access to sports, empower girls and women in the developing world, and support the communities we live, work, and play in.

Oh, and by athlete, Nike means “every person with a body.” 

Google: The Google Foundation focuses on many different important efforts. To name a few, they are working on fighting disease, increasing environmental responsibility including protecting wildlife, improving computer science education, fighting human trafficking,  and empowering women and girls. All of this is done through technology – working to develop smarter, better, faster ways to make a difference.

Takes a lot of information. 

These brands have been able to make their messaging believable, because they live and breathe what they say every day. It’s great to have aspirations and values, but if your company and brand are not living them, then how are you going to be believable? If you stay true to your mission at the office and at home, people will notice.

#EmilyFayeSays

PS: for other FF superfans like myself, you need to watch this extended Today Show interview with the FF cast – I promise you tears and laughs.

It’s okay to lay down

As a woman in the professional world, I am accustomed to being the target of feminist, “girl power” messaging, while also being subjected to the realities of gender inequality in the workplace. I won’t get into the politics of that right now, but I will get into one thing that I do feel strongly about. To quote the beautiful & talented Willow Sweeney:

lay down quote

Now, let me start by saying that I have not read word-for-word Sheryl Sandberg‘s work, but I can say that I have gathered the basic points of it through reading reviews and other literature written about it. I am completely on board with the general premise of the book – that women deserve equality in the workplace and should work to achieve it – however I find myself somewhat exhausted by the Lean In campaign as a whole.

I work hard to succeed in life, and I value solid work ethic and following your passions as much as the next person. But I’m also a big fan of napping, binge watching crappy reality television, splurging too often on 800 calorie desserts, not vacuuming regularly, and skipping my morning workout. My point being, I don’t want to be fabulous, badass, professional and put-together all of the time. And that’s okay.

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Women so often – especially in recent times – feel a pressure to be the perfect woman. You must put your family life on hold to strive to become a CEO. You must workout four times a week to burn off that paleo diet. You must know how to raise children well, keep a clean, stylish house, cook meals that would make Chef Ramsey proud, and be the sports-loving, beer-drinking, “cool girl” wife (thanks Gone Girl), all while maintaining a $75,000/year dream job where you put in 60 hours a week.

Lets. Be. Real.

It’s time to stop apologizing for your mistakes. It’s time to stop feeling inadequate because your neighbor just hit her weight loss goal and got a raise in the same week. It’s time to stash the shame when your kid is the last one of their friends who learned to ride a bike because you weren’t a good teacher. It’s time to stop envying every other woman’s “perfect” life… as depicted by social media. It’s time to remember that if you’re trying your hardest and you’re a good person, then you’re good enough the way you are.

& It’s okay to lay down.

#EmilyFayeSays

Staying productive during downtime

We all have it every once in a while (that includes you, busy-braggers) (you know who  you are): downtime. And while we may not admit it, we’ve all passed that time with mindless activities, be it chatting with coworkers about nonsense, perusing Facebook until our eyes burn, or scoring some sweet (unnecessary) deals from our favorite online retailer.

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But as a young professional – especially one looking to stand out in their career field – how can we better-fill that downtime? How can you see it less as a detriment and more as a chance to grow? Here are some ideas that have worked for me.

Read industry news/blogs. 

Pretty obvious, but sometimes it’s hard to find that good content. Often times, your employer will already have online subscriptions to industry-related news sources that you didn’t even know about. Or, if you’re familiar with influential individuals in your industry, see if they have a blog or something like it that you can check out regularly. Being in the marketing industry with a passion for social media, here are a few sites/blogs that I frequent:

Convince & Convert

Adweek

TechCrunch

Social Media Examiner

Pro Tip: Subscribe to your favorite new sites’ email newsletters! Then you don’t have to hunt.

Jack up your LinkedIn. 

Notice I didn’t just say “LinkedIn Profile.” While I’ll never bash perfecting your profile, LinkedIn has even more than that to offer. Check out Pulse (under Interests) for articles related to your interests and industry. Follow companies you care about to stay up to date on their posts. Engage with clients, colleagues, and others in your network to grow your presence. Follow industry influencers to stay knowledgeable.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re not viewing profiles anonymously, and then view with purpose. LinkedIn notifies users when someone views their profile, so if you’re looking to show up in someone influential’s notifications, it’s a good, non-invasive way.

Grow as a social media professional. 

When I first started in the world of marketing, all of my social media accounts were for personal use only. And that’s not to say I was posting inappropriate pictures or vulgar statuses all over, but I simply wasn’t using social for a professional purpose.

my twitter

Fast-forward 2 months, and I really started to gain an understanding for how I could use social media, specifically Twitter, in a professional sense. So, I decided to create a “professional-only” Twitter account, and I also took the privacy settings off of my Instagram account. Not only do I now use them for connecting with colleagues & clients, but they are now my “window to the world” in the marketing industry. I use them to connect with industry professionals to gain knowledge on industry trends. I use them to connect with others at industry-related events I attend. Plus, I love using my Twitter account for industry “chats” (specifically #AdweekChat). While I don’t devote every waking second to them, I do take advantage of downtime to update my profiles, find interesting things to share, discover new people to follow – you get the picture.

Pro Tip: While you should always keep a professional tone on your professional social media accounts, it’s okay to be silly/fun. Don’t sound like a robot – make jokes, comment genuinely, and, well, be a human!

Go above and beyond for your client/company. 

This might already be expected, but often times we’re too busy to devote time to it and then forget when we actually have time. Think about it: how can you go above and beyond to either wow the client or improve things within your company (or department)? Devote 20 minutes or so during downtime to thinking up “free ideas” for clients. Or spend 10 minutes chatting with coworkers about a certain work process to see how others feel it could be improved. Who knows, you might just come up with a big solution!

Pro Tip: Regularly block out time on your calendar for brainstorming. Good ideas often come from a flowing thought process, so avoiding interruptions can make for the best results.

& when all else fails… take a break.

I used to work for a company that allowed 15 minute breaks ever morning and afternoon to go for a group walk around the development. It might seem like a waste of time, but so often I came back more awake and energized and ready to start pumping out some great work. Removing your brain from the task at hand can recharge your system and get you re-inspired. Just make sure to check with your employer first 🙂

Pro Tip: If a walk isn’t your thing, offer to make a coffee run to a local Caribou or Starbucks. Ask your coworkers if they want anything. Not only will it get you out of the office for 15 minutes or so, but you’ll be delivering smiles (& caffeine) to your coworkers – win/win!

starbucks

What do you do with your downtime? How do you stay busy? Share your tips in the comments! & as always, thanks for checking out what #EmilyFayeSays!

The value of strong company culture

I recently attended an educational luncheon conducted by the AdFed of Central MN called “Everything You Say & Do is a Commercial for your Brand.” (by Dan Day) Expecting it to be a presentation on client branding, I thought sure why not, and attended.

As it turned out, though, the presentation was less about client branding and more about company culture as it relates to brand. To quote Dan’s presentation: “True customer engagement is driven by brand-conscious employees who are themselves engaged.” To me, this means that to really succeed in activating your consumers, you need employees who truly understand and live your brand. This made me realize something about the company that I work for:

Flint Group totally rocks at this.

We all have really good understanding of what exactly it is we do here: “We do work that gets results.” We know that, while pretty creative is nice to look at, if it doesn’t accomplish a set goal then it’s useless. And we definitely know that we could throw money at a mass media calendar, but if we’re not strategic and customized in our approach, we might as well be flushing that money down the toilet. We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver work that makes a difference.

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The Flint Group mission statement.

Aside from our mission, we have some pretty amazing employees.

Flint employees are brand advocates. We genuinely love what we do, and we’re not afraid to share that with people. We want to brag about our awesome jobs. And while of course there are times when we’re at each others’ throats with deadlines, vague requests, client feedback etc., we are able to push past that if it means delivering success to the client. We live and breath Flint culture, because we totally understand it.

It’s the best job in the world, but somebody’s gotta do it.

How is your company doing in this area? Are your employees your brand advocates? Do they totally understand your brand, culture, mission and values?

Encouraging your employees to live your brand results in voluntary consumer engagement. When your employees understand your brand and your values 100%, they operate in a way that’s a positive reflection of your brand, and that will become apparent to your customers upon interaction.

So think about it – if your culture + your people = your brand (Brandtender), are you as an employee representing your company and brand in the best light? OR are you, as an employer, giving employees the tools they need to do so?

Employees are the most valuable marketing tool a company has. Don’t waste ’em.

#EmilyFayeSays