Smartphones give consumers a louder voice and bigger presence
As our readers know, SurveySparrow is always hard at work, building next-generation digital tools designed to help you enhance your Customer Experience (CX) initiatives (see our online survey tools, our offline survey tools, or our chatbot tools for example). However, from time to time, we do take a break to reach out to thought leaders who’ve influenced the niches we serve. This has helped us bring you, our readers, up to speed on the latest developments in topics that you are most interested in.
Today, SurveySparrow was lucky to have the opportunity to chat with Judith Aquino from 1to1media about her work covering Customer Experience related topics for one of the most popular CX blogs online. So let’s jump in!
SurveySparrow: Hi Judith and thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with our blog readers about your stories in the CX space. So, you work as the senior editor for 1to1 Media where you cover all topics related to customer experience. Why don’t you get things started by telling us a little about yourself? How has your personal journey in the CX space evolved over the years?
Judith: I entered the CX space with a background in journalism. As a graduate student at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, I interned at TheStreet.com, New York Daily News, and Working Mother magazine—quite the mixed bag! Fresh out of grad school, I applied for a job at DestinationCRM where I was very new to the technology reporting space.
As part of the interview process, I was asked to interview an analyst about a merger for a short article. I remember asking the analyst, “so where is the company’s back office in relation to its front office?” There was a pause on the other end before the analyst explained that he wasn’t referring to a physical back office. Luckily, I still got the job. Since then I’ve reported on martech and adtech news before focusing on customer experience.
SurveySparrow: Let’s talk more about your earlier days. Your previous writing and editorial jobs had you covering topics related mostly to advertising and marketing. Then around 2014, you began delving into the customer experience sector. What inspired you to take the leap and start focusing on CX? Out of all the topics you could have specialized in, what was it about CX that you found irresistible?
Judith: What I love about being a writer is the opportunity to delve into and learn about different topics. I think it was in 2013, while covering the marketing and advertising space, that I started hearing more and more about the need for companies to be more customer-centric in order to transform the user experience. It was also around this time that e-commerce was starting to encroach on traditional retail, social media was taking off, and smartphone adoption was quickly rising.
In other words, consumers were gaining a louder voice and presence. And by fortuitous timing, I was approached to join 1to1 Media (a subsidiary of TTEC) as a reporter covering customer experience. I jumped at the opportunity to cover a topic that I could see was quickly growing and evolving.
CX leaders want real-time data insights and often struggle to prove the value of initiatives since many include intangible benefits for customers and employees.
SurveySparrow: Seeing as your previous jobs mostly involved marketing, what was the transition like from handling exchange relationships to prioritizing the experiences of customers? How has your past knowledge in marketing helped you in the world of CX?
Judith: One of my biggest takeaways from working as a reporter is that people want stories that explain complex things. Transitioning from covering advertising and marketing technology to CX wasn’t very difficult since I was still using my skills as a storyteller to explain why a developing trend, challenge, or case study matters. I also had a head start on understanding the challenges that companies face in delivering a better customer experience. Like advertisers and marketers, CX leaders want real-time data insights and often struggle to prove the value of initiatives since many include intangible benefits for customers and employees.
SurveySparrow: Throughout your career in customer experience, what’s the biggest change with regards to customer behavior that you’ve noticed? How do you think this change will affect CX in the coming years?
Judith: A major change that I’ve noticed is how deeply integrated smartphones are in meeting people’s personal and business needs and how it’s changed customer behavior. A few years ago, the common belief was that consumers didn’t want to receive mobile messages from brands but now consumers will initiate a conversation with companies over text; they’ll use a bank’s app to manage deposits, hail a ride, and a plethora of other tasks.
This behavior is already carrying over to voice assistants as people get more accustomed to having an AI-powered assistant in their car, home—wherever they are. But customers also expect a seamless connection with other channels, including speaking with a human, and so companies have to figure out how to efficiently connect even more channels and determine whether the touchpoint should be automated or human-assisted.
SurveySparrow: According to a study from the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, 89% of businesses today are made up of companies that have less than 20 employees. The challenge here is that these firms often have limited resources. What do you think are some important areas SMBs, who are often already stretched thin, should prioritize so they can design amazing customer experiences into their company culture?
Judith: It comes down to understanding customer expectations and aligning those with the company’s brand promise. Trying to make every interaction with the brand an amazing high-touch experience will only drive up acquisition costs.
SMBs need to be as efficient as possible, so they need to understand which interactions are acceptable to their customers as an automated or otherwise generic experience and which ones should be prioritized. For example, if the SMB’s brand promise is environmental sustainability, the company should focus on products that reduce their carbon footprint, even if it means not offering same-day deliveries, etc.
SurveySparrow: One of your past articles entitled “Put the Customer Back in Customer Loyalty” suggests that testing and learning is essential for firms to find new ways to innovate. This approach implies understanding how the mindset of your customers work. How can companies most effectively use online survey software to help foster customer loyalty? What are some surveys or feedback strategies you’ve seen produce great results?
Judith: The best online survey tool is the one that customers will respond to. Especially today when consumers are inundated with emails asking for feedback, making the survey process as convenient and painless as possible is critical. The best strategies I’ve seen set expectations by indicating how many questions will be asked or how long the survey will take and if a change is made based on feedback, communicate that change to customers.
SurveySparrow: Evolving trends in today’s world have led companies to find new ways to engage their customers. Artificial intelligence, conversational forms, and chatbots are technologies that are being introduced to help companies improve customer experience. Who are people or companies out there who you feel we should all study because they are doing a good job of using technology wisely to better customer experience? Obviously, these tools used improperly could do more harm than good, but if used well, they can really help improve the experience. Who are you personally inspired by from a technology use standpoint?
Judith: I appreciate companies that reduce customer effort and provide transparency. For example, HomeAdvisor is a marketplace for connecting with local contractors. In addition to giving me a list of screened contractors, the company explains how its screening process works and provides other information that I might find helpful, such as the average cost of similar projects in my neighborhood.
SurveySparrow: As the senior editor for 1to1 Media, I’d assume that you go through a lot of CX news and articles daily. No doubt you’ve seen a lot of trends come and go over the years too. With that said, what are your predictions for customer experience in the next 5 years? Are there any technologies out there or currently in development that you think will be game-changers for the CX space in the coming years?
Judith: What I’m anticipating over the next five years is for businesses to dig deeper into CX initiatives that are already in the works. Companies will continue to merge automation with human support internally and externally, add more analytics and data science tools to their CX teams, and digital and physical experiences will be even more connected to the point where they fully complement each other.
I think there are a few technologies such as 5G, AI, and blockchain, with the potential to improve customer experiences, but it depends on whether organizations have the foundation in place to integrate the new technology so that it’s not a siloed investment.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today Judith. It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to learn from you.