PODCASTS

The Importance Of Customer Experience For Building Materials

The Importance Of Customer Experience For Building Materials

Kip talk to Stacy Sherman having Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience Specialist  about The Importance Of Customer Experience For Building Materials.

 


 

Podcast Participants:

Graham: Product Director Concora
Kip Rapp: CEO Concora
Stacy Sherman: Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience Specialist

 

Graham:

Hello folks and welcome to The Concora Corner, a podcast dedicated to bringing you interviews with people working in the AEC and BPM industry. I’m one of your hosts, Graham Waldrop, a director of product here at Concora. Today on the show we’re talking with Stacy Sherman. Stacy is a published author, podcaster and an expert on sales, marketing, and CX AKA customer experience. Stacy has a great conversation with Kip about what exactly CX is and best practices for doing it well. And the answers are far more multifaceted, detailed and important than you might think in terms of establishing and then cultivating the many areas of your business and how CX impacts that.

We haven’t talked to anyone yet who specializes in CX so this is a great interview with someone who is a critical thinker and is extremely good at what she does. If you need help with CX at your company we think this episode can really get the ball rolling for you in terms of breaking down what CX is and how to execute it efficiently. We hope you enjoy today’s interview with Stacy, but before we begin, here’s a quick word from our CEO Kip Rapp.


Kip
:

I wanted to thank everyone again for listening to our podcast and if you’re interested in knowing more about Concora, we help building product manufacturers get specified and purchase more by providing a great web experience that’s bolted onto your website. It makes it easy for your architects, engineers and contractors to do business online with you. We sum it up as three things, it’s providing a good web experience, good content and good tools. And we have some great tools such as metals, sustainability, project showcases, or anything else needed by your design community to specify and purchase products. We’d be more than happy to show you a quick demo and you can go to concora.com, to learn more, read case studies and see how other customers have grown sales with our partnership.

All right. Well, thanks for joining us Stacy and I really appreciate your time today and I know you’re busy and was looking forward to this conversation cause we really don’t talk as much with people that are in your passion and discipline of customer experience, right? And it’s been, I guess, a background of mine in prior lives, where we worked around NPS in customer side. And it’s definitely something you don’t hear about as much especially with the smaller companies that we work with because they’re even struggling just to have a good marketing team or a good sales team, let alone having a customer success or customer experience type of focus. So, definitely interested in sharing what you do and what makes it important and any type of best practices that you can tell our listeners today. And normally how we start is just introducing who you are and what you do and go from there.


Stacy
:

Thank you. Yeah, very happy to be here. Stacy Sherman. I am living and breathing, doing customer experience right by day in a big global company. I’ve worked in a lot of different companies of all different sizes in sales, marketing, and CX (customer experience). And then in my spare time, I’m writing about doing CX right. I’ve got a website, a blog, author of two books, co-authored and love speaking and starting a podcast about customer experience and employee experience because they go hand in hand. Happy employee, happy customer. So, it’s about doing and that’s what I’m excited to share with everyone today.


Kip
:

That’s awesome. Yeah, and I know customer experience has such a broad term and when someone says it, it means different things so, could you walk us through what it means to you and why it’s valuable for a company and employees? Yeah.


Stacy
:

Yeah. I love that question because I want to tell you what it’s not, or I should say it’s a piece of. For long time historically, people have said customer service. Customer service is absolutely really important in the customer experience framework. It’s a piece of it. It’s not the whole thing. So, that’s what I want to just make sure people really understand. Don’t use them interchangeably. Customer experience is a holistic view of a customer engagement at all different points in a customer journey. So, for example, how does somebody, that somebody is your target audience persona. How does that person, he or she, learn about your products and services, your brand, the awareness and learn, which is clearly marketing, but there’s a very clear intention and value proposition that goes into that? How do they learn? How do they buy what you have to offer? Is it e-commerce? Is it a retail store? Is it both? Is it a sales channel?

So, you have to really define what are the touch points and what are the experiences in that touch point or what I call moment of truth. So, there’s a journey, the learning, buying, getting, using. Getting help, absolutely important that’s customer service and if any part of the customer experience goes bad, or let’s say the reverse, let’s say buying is great, easy, and a low level of effort to get set up and use the product, but if getting help when someone needs it is awful, it doesn’t matter, the whole experience is short. They’ll either leave or tell others. Does that make sense?

Kip:

Yeah. And it reminds me where I used to work before where, when you were thinking about a truly, let’s say having maniacal focus on your customer experience and it’s across everything they potentially do with your company. So, as you pointed out its learning, how do they browse, shop find? And as they browse and shop and then purchase and then delivery and then use, and then reuse, right? And it appears that’s what you’re saying. It’s that whole entire life cycle that customer to make them want loyal for many many years. Is that the idea?


Stacy
:

It is. So, if we really get into the CX practice and doing CX right, which is what I am helping people really apply, in that is yes. Map out that customer journey. Walk in the customer’s shoes, bring all your teams together, finance, they affect the bill and pay experience, marketing and your e-commerce channel if you have one. So, all the different teams, map out the customer journey, then where the magic happens is you take it to the customer, the real customer, and you ask them, what you designed, does it meet their expectation? Where does it fall short? And that’s that process to really make sure that you are designing experiences either that you have now, or that you evolve to, but it’s based on an outside-in approach, not inside out.


Kip
:

I appreciate that because even in my background with product management, you’re always talking about outside-in versus inside-out, or get out of the building because you’re not going to solve problems in your building. You got to be out there where your customers live and certainly that customer centric focus. And I do appreciate that where you’re saying, hey, you think he may have the touch points, but really validate it with those people that matter and reiterate on that, right? Is that the idea?

 

Stacy:

Correct. And I want to mention something because you said product development, which is huge, huge. When I worked at Verizon, I was in the CX organization within new product development. Well, that is brilliant let me tell you. Because instead of building and hope that customers will come, we actually did the other way. We built it with the customer at the table. And then it was an agile process and we’d get the voice of the customer and the voice of the employee to, to build products and services that would meet real needs and then you launch, and then you continue to get feedback. So, it’s really important and I want to emphasize one more thing, which when I talk about get feedback from customers and employees, they’re both really important and I recommend people marry the two, but do not replace the customer feedback and go to your employees instead. You have to go to your customers. You can’t shortcut it by going to employees who clearly, especially your front line, they know the customer, but you can’t bypass the customer.


Kip
:

Yeah. Yeah, and that’s interesting because I’m thinking, you have happy employees, happy customers and the other way around, and to me, with happy employees, it’s certainly about culture and more of the management and how that’s all enabled so that you have authentic employees and that are passionate and because I can see that with an employee, happy employees, there’s things that are important to them. And then part of that is doing well to the customer and having that passion, but were there some overlays like that or are there ever conflicts that that can appear?


Stacy
:

That’s where what comes to play as good leadership, great leadership. So, you need the buy-in at the top to enforce and remind that the customer experience is number one priority. And so, it starts at the top, and then it requires a bottoms-up engagement and adoption too. And one of the ways that I like to help drive that is to really understand people why. I really spend a lot of time and encourage other leaders and colleagues, get to know each other’s why, because if you understand that and can support their why, why do they… How, how do they feel valued? What’s important to them? Why are they there? What’s their mission, what’s their goal and how you can support that, then when they feel valued and appreciated and included, they pay it forward. It’s human nature.


Kip
:

Gotcha  And I’m also kind of reading into there that the companies, as you mentioned, starts from the top, is then… Are there guiding principles? Because you have some companies like Amazon that have their principles of leadership and that kind of guides their hiring process and their culture, but is that also important? Is there certain characteristics that you see that are important?


Stacy
:

Absolutely. It starts before employees come to the building. I mean, I’ve had cases where I’ve interviewed and there’s no follow up and it’s awful. And you bet I’m a customer too, I’m not going to buy from them. Same thing with exit interviews. If you work somewhere and nobody cares about why you’re leaving or what could they do to make it better? That leaves a lasting impression too. So, from everything, from hiring to onboarding to the experience while you’re there. It’s the whole picture. And so there’s an employee journey, just like there’s a customer journey and that’s where you need the leaders and the skill set to… It doesn’t happen automatically great experiences, nor does it happen overnight.


Kip
:

No, that’s great. And as you… Let’s say for our listeners Stacy, they understand what you’re saying. Maybe it’s a foreign thing a little bit because they have some marketing, they got operations and they got some sales and then you’re talking about a fairly interesting philosophy about everything you do should be focused on customer and employees and that should drive all the other practices of your company. So, if there’s, let’s say at square one or square zero, how do you get them to square one and square two?


Stacy
:

Probably start with a workshop and really go through with an expert like me, to go through, ask the right questions, find the gaps of what you’re doing really well to service customers and where you’re not. And there’s a lot of low hanging fruit. I’m not even talking about buying really sophisticated technology, which, technology certainly helps but I’m talking about getting the basics right. I’m talking about… And I did a workshop with a medical office and they wanted to know why are customers… Why are patients unhappy? And they tried to figure out what’s going on because the doctors, the psychiatrists are top notch. It’s not the service they’re getting but why are they still not really happy? And why are they actually leaving? And he came to find out that the front office staff, in scheduling the appointments were so unfriendly, so unhelpful and once we were able to actually fix that, the rest of it worked itself out. You wouldn’t know that unless you had somebody really diving into the journey and finding those gaps and they’re easy to fix, they really are. It’s human.


Kip
:

And then how do you interpret or balance out that, you have a lot of customers potentially, and by and large, they probably, if you look at all of them, they’ll give you great insights on what loyalty means and what success means, but then you also have customers that might be your outliers that maybe don’t give you the right advice. So, how do you balance that?


Stacy
:

Yeah. I mean, look, every situation is different. There’re some customers that are not worth the energy. It’s very complicated, it’s very… I mean, every customer is important, however, if it comes to a point where you are not meeting their needs and you’re doing everything and I mean everything, and sometimes it’s literally just communication. Communication, if you are really communicating, you’re being transparent, you are following up, you’re giving updates even when there’s nothing new to tell them, but you’re like, I didn’t forget about you and you’re doing everything right, and the demand is if you just can’t meet their needs because they’re so high and unrealistic, then you really have to look at what’s the value of financially and non-financially and morale to your business to determine who’s the right fit. It’s a two-way street.


Kip
:

Thanks for sharing that. And then back to your example, when you were saying, hey, if you’re new to this, you’re recommending a workshop. Let’s maybe have people together with either someone like you or another expert, and they have this workshop and then they’re identifying things maybe like this front desk thing in the medical situation. But what do you recommend after that? Once they have identified a few things that are maybe detractors to that whole customer journey or customer success, is this where something that… Is that a program or do they need to hire someone or bring in a consultant to implement a plan or any thoughts on that?


Stacy
:

Yeah. I mean, look, I believe in a crawl, walk, run approach. So, can’t boil the whole ocean at once. So, it’s about doing the basics right. Are you measuring customer satisfaction today? Yes or no? If yes, well, what are you doing? What are the questions? And really getting to what I call the heart and the science around what your approach is. And you might be, I mean, there’s a lot to say around this, but I’ll just say, if for example, you are measuring customer satisfaction or let’s say NPS is a very common net promoter score, how likely someone going to recommend your company, your brand. Well, let’s say you’re not doing that today. Well, that’s an easy thing to get started on.

If you are doing it and you’re more advanced in your CX practice, I would say, okay, well, what is the feedback you’re getting? And are you getting the why? The why they would or would not recommend because NPS is not the end all question. It’s a good indicator. So, there’s a lot of things to talk about in terms of next steps. It’s, there’s the easy stuff. The quick wins are what I like to highlight first and then go from there.


Kip
:

Yeah. It makes sense. Low-hanging fruit that after kind of a good discussion with maybe a facilitator, you can identify quick things that aren’t hard maybe, and could have big impact. And then you can move on, I guess to other things that could be a little more nuanced but, and I appreciate the NPS comment, because it’s something that I haven’t heard in 15 years until my other company’s life. Yeah, it’s like that one question, but to your point, it’s the why. It’s being able to understand why there are promoters and why there are detractors and doing something about that.

So, I do like what you’re saying there and I know where bigger or small companies and you alluded to earlier that this is something that starts at the top, customer experience. How do you… Let’s say I’m an employee and I have a boss or a CEO that I say, hey, I really believe in what Stacy’s saying. Customer experience is a great way to think about how we can do better as a company. What would your success suggest for that when you have to convince executives that this is…? Because it seems like it has to be a really serious type of philosophy and in one way, so that this gets progressed out through the organization. So, any thoughts on that?


Stacy
:

It’s hard to drive business transformation, change management. It’s not easy. And so, when there’s something, because I’m a change agent. I don’t go with the status quo. I learned how to live in the environment that I’m in. If it’s a slow ship or a fast ship, I adapt. At the same time, my best advice for people who are in organizations who want to drive that customer centricity, that is a brand differentiator, start with a pilot program, prove it out, show the numbers, show the quantitative and qualitative impacts and then scale it. And that works because then, it takes away the risk and the fear factors that some leaders might have. And at the end of the day, I mean, people don’t buy based on price alone. They don’t.


Kip
:

Yeah. And to your point, with a pilot program, I’m guessing that it needs to have all the right representation so that it’s effective for getting either the product or the marketing and the sales or the customer service team right. In that case, is that what you’re saying?


Stacy
:

It is. And also think about it. When people are brought into the decision-making and the program, they’re going to embrace it more, they’re going to feel more empowered and then they’re going to want to see it succeed because they’re part of it. So, there’s… It’s a ripple effect.


Kip
:

I know we had a shorter session today because of the scheduling, but I really enjoyed what you’re saying about customer experience and one, educating everyone what it is, the value, how you can potentially start and crawl, walk, run, and then how you can potentially influence it with a leadership team. So, and the benefits and walking through some of the practical examples like that medical one that you did. So, if people want to reach out to Stacy and you’re Doing CX Right, how could they do that?

Stacy:

Yeah, two ways or a couple of ways. One is doingcxright.com is my website and there’s tons of resources to help people really elevate their skills and transform their brands, whether they’re small or big brands, and sign up for my newsletter because there’s lots of golden tips there. I’m on all the social media platforms and if anyone is into clubhouse, that is the new social platform, it’s drop-in radio like audio. I have a club Doing CX Right and there’s a lot to that clubhouse so, if you don’t know about it, I’m glad to share. It’s a great resource.

Kip:

Thank you again Stacy for your time and I hope you have a great rest of your day.


Stacy
:

Thank you for having me.


Graham
:

All right folks that wrap us up for today’s show. So, you can find our podcast on Apple Podcast, Spotify and SoundCloud by searching for The Concora Corner. And if you’d like to, we’d love a rating and a short review if you listen on Apple. Any feedback is appreciated on any of our shows that are coming out and, or just the show in general or if you just want to say hello. You can find out more about Concora and our services at www.concora.com. We’re on Facebook at facebook.com/ConcoraLLC. We’re on Twitter @Concora and you can find us on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/concora. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

 

Concora is the Web Experience Platform for Building Product Manufacturers.