Ted Hunting on the 5 Ways To Create a Wow! Customer Experience

Ted Hunting leads marketing at Bright Pattern, a leader in innovative cloud customer experience platforms. Hunting is a recognized speaker in the customer experience industry with keynotes and presentations at top conferences including Gartner, Forrester, Customer Contact Week, ICMI, Enterprise Connect, Execs in the Know and more.
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As part of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ted Hunting.

-Authority Magazine

“It feels like every day a new technology changes the way we live. We shop differently, exchange money differently, and communicate with each other in ways never-before-seen and at speeds never-before-seen. This presents unique challenges and incredible opportunities for businesses and organizations serving customers through a call center.
Call Centers have come a long way since their inception. While who made the first call center is in dispute, one thing remains the same — call centers are vital in creating an experience that assists customers so well that they remain loyal to your organization. This remains true today, especially when we consider digital transformation trends. In fact, a call center may be the key to ensuring businesses keep up with customer demands.”

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Without making the story too long, I am basically a tech marketing guy who has too many hobbies and too little time. I like to think that everything you do outside of work all helps you in your “real job”. I have had some of my best work ideas after a long run and what you do for fun helps bring out creativity and new ideas. I love to be a bit overloaded with work and hobbies. I love cooking, running, backpacking, windsurfing, scuba diving and skiing but gave up flying for safety reasons — all help with balance, keeping work fun and fresh, and new ideas.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

This may not be a funny mistake but too me it was one I carry with me every day on how to operate. Although I am a marketing guy I also have a finance background. In one first role as a pricing analyst, I remember my boss saying to me as I was analyzing data on a spreadsheet: “Ted the answers aren’t in there they are out there!”. Meaning talk to others and listen. We are truly smarter when we put our ideas together and my biggest satisfaction in work is when people together come up with an idea or solution that individually would not have happened. We are smarter together than we are individually. Human creativity together is amazing in what it can do. Look out not only in was my lesson.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I would say my grandmother would be that person. Very caring person who made a difference for me in many ways. I think if everyone would take that approach and effort to make it a priority to help someone out in their lives, it can be lifechanging. The “pay it forward” approach if we all follow it can be a huge tidal wave of positive change.

Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?

There are some stats from both the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) that show how critical great customer service and CX from a business standpoint. The ACSI found that companies in their industry that outperform their industry peers from a customer satisfaction standpoint have market valuations over 60% higher than their peers — showing the C-level importance and ROI of great CX. Similarly, the CEB found that companies with low effort in the customer experience are 94% more likely to repurchase vs only 4% if high effort (repeating information, having to make multiple contacts to a company, etc). And also, if effort is low customers are 88% more likely to spend more vis 4% if effort is high. So clearly great CX and service is critical to a company’s value, increasing revenues, and retaining customers.

We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?

Industry analysts have noted that offering a great customer experience is one of their top 3 priorities every single year for the last 10 years, yet they continue to fall short. I think companies actually DO make it a priority but unfortunately, they are often using old customer service technologies that make it hard for customers and agents to interact. For instance, channels have exploded from phone to email and then to webchat, video chat, SMS and now messengers yet most companies do not offer a low effort omnichannel conversation across these channels. They may have a separate desktop application for each channel for an agent, so agents have to navigate multiple systems when dealing with a customer. Contrast that to a single omnichannel desktop in a cloud contact center platform where the agent can handle every interaction on every channel and see the entire customer’s journey across all those channels! A single pane of glass that makes it easy for agent to offer great personalized help and service. The best people and agents can’t be superheroes of customer service without the tools and technology to help make it possible.

Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?

Absolutely. Companies today are more concerned about disruption than ever before and offering a great customer experience is a key way to differentiate. In many industries it is a matter of survival. What was good enough in one industry years ago may not be good enough now as customers expect the great experience, they had in one industry should be the norm with other businesses too. I recall a government contact center leader at a workshop I conducted declaring “we want our citizen service to be as good as Nordstroms!”. Customers today expect companies regardless of industry to offer great CX. The CEO of Gartner a few years ago at their largest future of tech conference proclaimed that the companies that will win — and be the disruptors and not disrupted, are the companies who make “the most of the business moment”. And if you think about it contact centers are all about the business moment as we are right at that nexus when a customer calls, chats, texts, or message you — that is the business moment. So, you can argue that contact centers leaders are in a position to help their companies be the disruptors and not be disrupted.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

First let me share two CX stats of key importance. CSAT or Customer Satisfaction and NPS or Net Promoter Score. NPS in particular is one of the top stats companies look at today. It is essentially how many of your customers would recommend you. One of our customers is the largest office supply chain in Australia. They had a problem connecting customers with in-store employees for help. Using Bright Pattern in their 167 stores in two months they reduced NPS detractors by 90% and they improved Store Answer Rate 267% which are huge improvements. They also never knew what issues customers were reaching out to in-store employees about and had no way to measure in-store productivity. But with Bright Pattern they now have 100% visibility into each employee’s productivity and also now know what issues customers are calling about so they can then fix those issues proactively. Huge improvements in 2 months.

Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

The deployment just happened but the ripples are already significant. But they next plan to reduce customer effort even more by allowing customers to communicate with store employees not only via calls but also via SMS, chat, and messengers. So basically, a huge digital transformation in CX will be the next big wave.

Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Allow your customers to easily communicate on the voice and digital channels of their choice.
  2. You can’t improve CX if you can’t measure it yet most companies do not measure the quality of the interactions on their voice and digital channels. You need an omnichannel quality management system that measures every interaction on every channel. One of the insurance companies we work with in Asia is today doing this for every customer interaction.
  3. Focus on digital and mobile transformation for the future. McKinsey noted that digital and mobile adoption vaulted forward 5 years in 8 weeks due to COVID so meet customers where they are on mobile devices and digital channels. Also, messengers like Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp are expected to grow and surpass webchat as the #1 digital channel in the coming years. HairClub one of our customers for example when they couldn’t meet with customers during the pandemic could take pictures with their phone of their hair and share with their consultants using their mobile phone. Basically, re-inventing their business model and approach for working with customers using mobile and digital channels.
  4. Allow your agents to be super agents with a single omnichannel desktop so they can interact with customers easily on any channel. Cloud contact center is key to making this happen with a single platform to handle all interactions.
  5. And last but not least is train and help your contact center agents. To the customer they interact with, they are like your CEO as they represent your company. And happy agents make happy customers. There has been research lately that says that one of the keys to great CX is great EX (employee engagement).

Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?

I think the companies who ask “wowed” customers to share their experience on review sites or via social are the best way. We all look to reviews now like never before so great reviews and encouraging customers to do this is key. And if companies make it easy by sharing a simple link via a text message or email at the conclusion of a great interaction, they are much more likely to get that great review.

My particular expertise is in retail, so I’d like to ask a question about that. Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

I think brand promise and customer service/customer experience remain the single biggest way to differentiate yourself when faced with products that are manufactured in China and in some cases very similar to other products. Companies may copy many aspects of a product, manufacture it at lower quality or even similar quality but at a lower cost yet the service they offer and the “brand value” may not be seen as on par. Companies with strong brand and great service can counter these new competitors. But they also need to continually strive to offer a low-cost product as well as product quality and cost is equally important to service. And the competition is not only companies who may copy or largely copy another product as even retailers like Amazon themselves with their “basics” brands can be competitors too.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I am lucky, I will figure this one out but I havent yet. But rather than helping one person out at a time, it would be great to find a way help huge numbers of people help themselves. Teach them to fish vs providing the fish if you will but at scale. There are so many people in the world with so little and I think it would be amazing to find a way to apply some high-tech business model approaches to help people. The Kiva loan model is today one example of that: Make a Loan, Change a Life. It’s a concept I have thought about and I would like to come up with another related model to help others at scale too using technology bringing others together to help others with less.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

@TedMktgGuy on Twitter. Or On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ted-hunting/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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