Building Brand Loyalty Through Frictionless Customer Support

Kailey Raymond on August 25th 2022

Good Data, Better Marketing |  Episode 07

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In this episode, Adele Hedden, Head of Customer Experience at Faire, talks about how to build a proactive customer service model built on data, why companies need to be strategic around service modality, and how creating a unified customer view improves employee experience and customer experience.

Guest Bio

Adele is the Head of Customer Experience at Faire, an online wholesale marketplace built on the belief that the future is local. Adele currently serves as an Expert for Primary Venture Partners and as an Advisor for Aneta Ed. Her previous CX roles include Director of Customer Operations at Rent the Runway, Director of Operations and CX at Great Jones, and Senior Program Manager of Community Operations at Uber.

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Adele Hedden, Head of Customer Experience at Faire. With a decade of experience at publicly traded companies like Rent The Runway and Uber, Adele is focused on transforming customer journeys through brand loyalty and foundational metrics.

In this episode, Kailey and Adele discuss the service recovery paradox, upleveling your CX strategy, and how the employee and customer experience go hand-in-hand.

Key Takeaways

  • The best customer experience is not having to contact customer support at all. Having robust data allows you to identify opportunities to provide proactive support to customers in need. 

  • The customer and employee journey go hand-in-hand. In order to deliver a frictionless customer experience, the same needs to be done for employees. Investing in a unified view of your customers for your employees is also an investment in your customer experience.

  • Brand loyalty hits an all-time high when a company recovers and corrects issues quickly. This is called the service recovery paradox. Customers feel more positive about a company after an issue is resolved than before there was an issue at all.

Quotes

“I think that the best customer experience when you're engaging with a brand is generally one that is as frictionless as possible. I really subscribe to this belief that the best customer support you could possibly get is not needing customer support at all.” – Adele Hedden

Episode Timestamps:

‍*(02:10) - Adele’s customer journey background

*(06:04) - Adele’s role at Faire

*(07:11) - Trends in wholesale customer experience

*(13:57) - Foundational data points Faire is using to create customer profiles

*(18:06) - Biggest challenge in building customer experience journeys

‍*(22:49) - An example of another company doing it right with customer experience (hint: it’s Trader Joe’s, Netflix, and Delta)

*(32:42) - Adele’s recommendations for upleveling your customer strategy

Connect with Adele on LinkedIn

Connect with Kailey on LinkedIn

Read the transcript

Kailey Raymond: Building and maintaining brand loyalty is the goal of every company and one way to achieve that is through exceptional customer experience. But what exactly does that mean? Take pet supply retailer Chewy, who has made headlines for their generosity towards customers after the death of their pets. One shopper received a full refund on an unopened bag of prescription dog food, flowers and a card after her dog passed away. Others have said they were given hand painted portraits of their beloved animals. These small acts of kindness create a deep emotional connection to the brand. That's why I invited customer experience expert Adele Hedden onto the show.

Adele is the Head of Customer Experience at Faire, an online wholesale marketplace, connecting brands and retailers across the globe. Faire's aim is to create a customer experience so frictionless that you don't even know it's there. In today's episode, Adele and I dig into the service recovery paradox, metrics you should be tracking to up level your CX strategy and how the employee and customer experience go hand in hand. 

Adele, thank you so much for being here, it's great to see a familiar face. The way that I like to start these off is learn a little bit about you and how you got to where you are today. 

So I know you've been on a career journey and customer experience has been your realm of expertise for quite a while now. Tell me about some of your starting places and how you got to Faire?

Adele Hedden: Thanks. I'm super happy to be here. So I've been working in customer facing operations teams for almost all of my career. And candidly, really stumbled into the role. I wanted to break into tech, I didn't know where to start. I took a customer facing ops role at what at the time was a startup called Uber and figured that I'd just get my foot in the door and figure it out from there. I ended up just really loving the work, I think large scale customer facing roles play really well to my skill sets. I love people and this area of the business is just entirely about people. As an entry level employee, I was on the front line, directly interacting with drivers and interacting with people day in and day out. And as I've grown and progressed in my career, I don't spend my time directly interacting with customers, but the focus of my job has always been about people.

I'm either designing an experience for customers or for people or thinking about how to manage and inspire a large team and a group of people. So ultimately I think every problem that I look at boils down to a people problem and I love that and so I've stayed in this space ever since. I spent a little over six years at Uber, working at a variety of roles in their customer operations team and led CX at a small startup and then took a leadership role at Rent the Runway on their customer operations team and now I lead customer experience globally at Faire.

Kailey Raymond: That's amazing. So let's learn a little bit more about Faire, it might not be as familiar to some of our listeners. Faire is a B2B marketplace, as I understand it, but would love to learn a little bit more in your own words of what y'all do?

Adele Hedden: Faire's a wholesale marketplace taking a data driven approach to connecting local, independent retailers with the best brands and artisans to stock their shelves. And ultimately the mission of Faire is to help entrepreneurs chase their dreams. Whether that's the artisan candle maker hoping to grow their business or the enterprising shopkeeper looking to stock their shelves with unique goods for their local community. So on the retailer side, Faire let's retailers try before they buy and use financial terms that eliminate inventory risk and provide access to capital. And this levels the playing field in key areas that previously prevented small businesses from successfully competing against major retailers. On the brand side, the platform provides sales, marketing and analytics tools so that sellers can simplify their wholesale business and actually focus on making great products.

Kailey Raymond: That's an amazing mission. So very mission-driven company that it seems like would probably be a little bit competitive with some of the bigger guys like Amazon. So how do y'all differ from some of those big-box retailers like the Amazons or Alibabas?

Adele Hedden: Yeah. So from the beginning, the success at Faire really depended on the success of brands and retailers. So unlike a traditional channel, like a trade show or something like that, which would demand an upfront fee from a retailer in order for them to participate, we only make commissions on sales when a retailer and a brand finds a new relationship on our platform. This is a lot of the magic in Faire and why customer experience becomes so important is there's so much magic in the customer community. And there, honestly, isn't a really solid comparison between Faire and Amazon simply because of that structure, we're really trying to do something fundamentally different. We're operating in tangentially, but not similar spaces.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah. Y'all are breaking the wholesale model completely in a lot of ways. So there are two sides of a marketplace, customers and making sure that you have the retailer side, the supplier side. What is your role? Where do you fit in? How are you making sure you're building great customer experiences at Faire?

Adele Hedden: Yeah, that's a great question. And I know that customer experience differs depending on the company. So at Faire, I lead the customer experience organization. This is a large organization, it's got hundreds of employees and we're responsible for ensuring that customers at Faire have a frictionless experience on the Faire platform. 

So we support over 500,000 retailers across North America, Europe, Australia and 70,000 brands from around the world with all aspects of their experience with the Faire platform. From sales to dispute, to shipping, you name it, we would support the experience. Additionally, we serve internally as the voice of the customer, helping to advocate for and support the design of a frictionless and seamless experience and really ensuring that our product teams have the right information that they need to build the product and build experiences that solve customer pain points.

Kailey Raymond: That's amazing. So as the voice of the customer within the organization, I am sure that you are the tip of the spear as it relates to understanding the trends that are really driven by consumers. So can you walk me through what some of those trends might look like as it relates to customer experience in this wholesale, retail space?

Adele Hedden: I think there's a lot, I think customer experience has really changed over the last five to 10 years. There’s two trends that really stand out to me. The first we're seeing across the board is a real reduction in the need from a human-to-human interaction when you're engaging with a brand. I think previously when you engaged with a brand, it was either through marketing and sign up and then if you had an issue with a brand, you really talked to a person, you were on the phone or you were sending an email. And I think across the board, we're seeing a shift towards proactive support. So customer support doesn't even require you to reach out to a brand. So a brand knows that your shipment is delayed and lets you know about it so that you don't need to reach out and follow up on your shipment. Your video has trouble buffering and Netflix alerts you, corrects it, lets you know what to do.

That's one piece of it and the second piece of it is self-service. So how can we automate a lot of the actions that were previously being done by a person and enable customers to do it themselves. I think that's one major trend that I've seen. 

And then the second that I would call out is just this idea of personalization. And I think this hits all aspects of the customer experience. So I think whether or not we're personalizing the customer journey, like what I see when I go to the Faire website or what I see when I turn on my Netflix differs from what someone else would see, to also things that my team would deal with. So personalized issue resolution. So depending on who you are, if an issue arises, we take different steps to resolve it.

Another example of where we're seeing personalization in the industry is I think surprise and delight with a really personalized touch. I think a brand that does this really well is Chewy. And so seeing how brands can go above and beyond for their customers based on data that they have about their customers.

Kailey Raymond: You're trying to get some Chewy referral codes right now?

Adele Hedden: Always trying to get Chewy referral codes. I've got dogs that you'll probably see in the background. Love what they're doing, both from a customer experience and product perspective.

Kailey Raymond: Shout out to Chewy. Yeah, they definitely do have great customer experience. I've heard some amazing ones as it relates to if a dog passes away, they give you credits towards dog food that was on the way and send you flowers in the mail, unbelievable above and beyond customer experience, which is so one-to-one and so meaningful when something big happens in your life. And personalization is something that I hear about all the time on this podcast, which I think is really interesting. One of the things that I was picking up on in your first answer is software is getting more and more important, especially cloud based applications. I'm really curious to learn more about some of those softwares or some of the data that you're leveraging - a lot of this has really transitioned to digital. How is that impacting your strategies as it relates to the teams that you're building?

Adele Hedden: So how data impacts broader strategy. At a high level, I think the best customer experience when you're engaging with a brand is generally one that is as frictionless as possible and doesn't require you to directly engage with the company. I really subscribe to this belief that the best customer support you could possibly get is not needing customer support at all. And so that's, I think, high level strategy. And there's so many areas where data plays a role in executing that strategy. So data will help you identify opportunities and subsequent policies for something like self-service. It'll enable the business to actually monitor the impact of self-service and proactive support. Because when you remove the one to one interaction with a brand, you lose a bit of the feedback loop and it becomes increasingly important that you're looking at data to monitor how customers are reacting to the policies that you've rolled out?

Do they like this $5 credit or are they so off that they never come back again? Pieces like that. And so I think data becomes increasingly important as you remove that feedback loop, for lack of a better word. I think the other piece of customer support strategy and customer experience strategy that I think about is when you do need to engage with a brand, how can you make that experience as frictionless, efficient and personalized as possible? And that's another area of the business where I think data plays a key role. So when you think about a frictionless experience, to me, that's one where it's super easy to contact support. You can text them, you can tweet at them, you can call them, you can email them. And that type of modality strategy requires incredibly robust data because it requires super granular forecasting and requires you to really be staffing your team and supporting your team to meet the inbound needs of customers.

And then I think on the efficient side, I think we're seeing data really play a role in how quickly issues can get resolved. If you know as much as possible about your customer before your customer reaches out to you or before your customer needs to engage with your brand. And again, that's all a data problem. So if you call an airline, do they know that you've already taken the flight? Do they know that your flight is delayed? And can they use that information to make the situation right for you? And then the final is obviously personalization, which we've already talked about. But data really enables that personalized touch, which I think helps a lot. And I think one of the things that I think about from a strategy perspective is obviously the best case scenario is that there are no issues at all.

But something I think about a lot in my job is something called the service recovery paradox, which is really this belief that if your brand loyalty is at a certain point and something goes wrong and an organization really recovers and really goes above and beyond for you, your brand loyalty will actually be higher after the recovery than it was before something went wrong. And I've seen that so many times in my career, when you ask people, why do you love Apple? Why do you love Delta? Why do you love Ritz Carlton? It's because those brands went above and beyond when something went wrong. Really, ultimately in order to enable those types of experiences, you need data, you need to know what the policy should be here? What happened and how can we make it right? And it's just ingrained in every piece of what we do.

Kailey Raymond: That's so right. It's making sure that you're giving somebody a human experience, even though it's a brand - owning up to a mistake if you're making it is probably just the most human thing of all time. And yes, I am loyal to certain airlines for pretty much that exact reason.

Adele Hedden: Exactly. No, it's huge. Airlines and brands become famous for this, I mean, L.L.Bean, I feel like is famous for their returns policy, they are famous because they make things right for you.

Kailey Raymond: 100%. Patagonia.

Adele Hedden: Yep.

Kailey Raymond: That's amazing. I love those examples and I think that what you're talking about is, "Everything relies on data, an underlying data set is super crucial, and so is getting really granular with it." You've had a few different lead roles at these organizations and marketplaces, building the customer success strategy and customer experience strategy. What are some of the foundational data points or even sources of data that you're looking at to make those customer profiles? How are you thinking about that as you're starting in a new role? What are the pieces of the puzzle that you're bringing together?

Adele Hedden: A main piece of data is looking at both contact rate and defect rate and that's going to be measured differently depending on your organization. For example, contact rate in an e-commerce company, it would just be orders, at Uber it was trips. How frequently do customers contact your organization over the denominator of trips or orders or whatever? So what is the rate that customers are getting in touch with you as you're delivering products? That's a really important one because that obviously impacts how many one-to-one human experiences your team needs to be prepared for and equipped for. Defect rate is another really important thing to look at as we increasingly shift towards self-service and we shift towards less and less human interactions. It's critical that companies continue to look at defect rate.

And defect rate is a combination of both contact rate and also how many times did customers engage with self-service tools to resolve their issues? And that metric is going to give you a really good pulse on whether or not your product experience is working or whether or not your product experience is broken and your customers are frequently contacting you to fix things. Either talking to a person or resolving the issue themselves on the help center or via self-service. And so that I believe is the north star metric that should guide most customer experience organizations because it's giving you both, on the contact right side, a really good pulse on what you need to be planning for on the operation side. And then the defect rate side, giving you a really good peek under the hood as to how the customer experience is working for customers and the product is working for customers.

Other things that I look at are more focused on the team operations side. So you're looking at things like SLA, you're looking at efficiency, you're looking at CSAT, you're looking at those classic metrics that you would use to manage a large scale operations team. I think those are really important. And I think probably a little bit out of scope for this podcast, but really important data points in terms of just managing the backend operation. The other data point that I think is increasingly important is looking at issue typing and having really solid issue type data so you know why customers are getting in touch with you. And there's been a really interesting uptick and focus in this space is actually looking at customer emails and customer contacts and pulling out issue type and really. Kailey Raymond: Using AI to do that?

Adele Hedden: Exactly. Using language trusting to figure out what customers are talking to you about. And that I think can also really inform both how you stack your team because most teams are going to be staffed basically by some sort of issue type grouping for specialization. And also how you share information more broadly in the company as like, "Hey, here's what 50% of customers have issues with and we should, as a result, do X, Y and Z."

Kailey Raymond: That's interesting. I feel like every organization that I've ever run has been a Salesforce organization. And whenever I'm trying to get inspiration for a new campaign, I'll run a closed won, a closed loss, report in Salesforce and a lot of it has to do with that field, which is closed:lost, reason. Which is exactly what you're talking about right now, which is in many ways and in most CRMs, super manual. So I'm like, "Yes, let's use ML, let's use AI to be able to more accurately categorize these things so we can get better data and better results to actually run effective campaigns."

A lot of the time sales people are running so fast, they don't want to do this, they're chasing down another deal. And so from the B2B side, I am empathizing with these people that are getting commissions and trying to chase the next deal after they've lost one and not giving us good data in return, but that's challenging. What do you think is the biggest challenge as it relates to building customer experience journeys? Have you experienced any on your team currently or maybe in previous roles?

Adele Hedden: Plenty of challenges.

Kailey Raymond: I'm sure.

Adele Hedden: I think one of the biggest challenges in running a customer experience team is expanding focus beyond just the day-to-day operations of the team. And I think one of the biggest challenges that I've seen regardless of where I am is, how do you establish a scalable operating system to ensure that customer feedback is being leveraged to inform product decisions? I think as a customer experience leader, you're sitting on a wealth of information, your team is the team that's most frequently engaging with customers, you have really good insights into what's working for the customers and what's not. But there usually tends to be a disconnect between those operations teams and some of the product and design and engineering teams actually building products for customers. And so I think about solving that - what's the feedback loop there? How are we surfacing things like contact rate and issue type data to products and engineering teams in a way that actually works is a tough one to solve.

At Faire, we've established a customer advocacy program across the company. This program has enabled our engineering, product design and data teams to partner directly with customer facing team members at all stages of the product life cycle. And very tactically, we've identified high performing, tenured customer facing team members and we've taken them off of their roles in the front lines, supporting with customers and we've embedded them within the product and engineering teams. And so these are employees who've spent years directly interfacing with our customers, they're incredibly knowledgeable about the customer experience. And then they're shifted into a new role where they can advocate for the customer voice, they can help resolve escalations that come up as a result of a new launch. And they're the employees at the company who are responsible for supporting the enablement of a feature post-launch.

So building out the internal knowledge base resources and really equipping their former peers to respond to issues related to a new feature launch. I think that this has been a really impactful program, I think for many reasons. One, I think it's really helped solve the problem of how do you get feedback to the product and engineering teams? And how do you make sure that customer facing teams have a seat at the table? Second, and this is related to my other passion, is it's a really compelling career path for a customer operations team member. And I think oftentimes, something that is really exciting to me about leading customer experience teams is just the bench of talent that you get to build and finding opportunities to get employees exposure to other areas of the business outside of operations is so exciting to me. And I think there's just a lot of talent in CX that deeply understands the customer and getting exposure across the business is really important.

Kailey Raymond: I fully hear you there. I was a customer marketer and I ran customer education at my last company and CABs and making sure that we could embed that feedback loop into the product engineering was something that we used to think about all the time. And really, I mean, some of the solutions were so manual and making sure that you're pulling G2 product reviews and manually categorizing them and sending them over into Slack channels. And we created automations between Salesforce and Slack channels in the same way, making sure that sales people would input new ideas or feedback they were getting from the customers.

But it's a really hard thing to scale and I love the elegance of just saying, "Let's put somebody who knows this really well into the seat." That is brilliant and something that I haven't heard before. I always interview sales people to be marketers because I think that they are the tip of the spear, they have the best ideas. So in my world, I think that a little bit of an equivalent is, "You know this way better than anybody else, you can speak to our customers better than anybody else, you probably have the best ideas and so come over and let's learn from you because you're doing this every single day."

Adele Hedden: Right. Let's value that providing the feedback and serving as the voice is a role, not a side job, this is your job. And I think that also has really helped a lot in making this really stick.

Kailey Raymond: I love that. Not a side job. And I think that, that's something that most companies think it is. If you're running a CAB, you're probably also running seven different other programs and that in and of itself is such a rich source of data. And making sure that you can really pair a lot of that qualitative data that's coming from those experiences and matching it up to a lot of what you're tracking and a lot of the quantitative data that you were just saying to piece together that strategy. Who do you think is doing it right in terms of customer experience?

Adele Hedden: In terms of customer experience?

Kailey Raymond: Yeah.

Adele Hedden: Ooh, jinx. In what context?

Kailey Raymond: Give me a few.

Adele Hedden: There's so many companies that I take note of in my day-to-day. So we already talked about one. So I think from a surprise and delight perspective and really going above and beyond for those magical moments, I think Chewy is really best in class. Another huge part of my job is employee training management and empowerment and how do you equip your employees to really deliver a fantastic experience? There are some companies that do a phenomenal job in this space and whose learning and development programs, I just am fascinated by. I'd call out Trader Joe's as one and Disney as another - just super interesting operationally. And I am a huge Trader Joe's fan and can point to so many examples across any state of when they've opened a bag of peanut butter, dark chocolate cups for me and it just rocks.

Kailey Raymond: I love it. Did you see that they shut down their wine store in Union Square?

Adele Hedden: Yeah, I'm upset about that, but we're moving on, they're still on my list. So they're definitely one. And then I think there are the big players who are just really good at delivering a really consistent and frictionless experience. So really on this best support is no support, they are really best in class. And I'd call out Netflix for doing a fabulous job there. I have used Netflix every day of my life for years and years and years and I've never talked to Netflix.

Kailey Raymond: You're right.

Adele Hedden: Yeah. Ever, literally ever. I think Apple is another one, obviously that's really an industry leader. I think the other area of CX to call out is modality strategy and what channels are you talking to customers? And I think across the industry, we're seeing a real death of the phone. Millennials have become an increasing part of the consumer base and I think millennials hate the phone, you can not pay me to make a phone call.

Kailey Raymond: The worst. It's like when my mom calls me, I'm like, "Is everything okay?" That's the first thing out of my mouth.

Adele Hedden: Exactly. So we're shifting away from the phone and I think a lot of brands are doing a good job of responding to that. And I think particularly some of the airlines actually have done a really nice job. I think Delta has done a really good job, I think JetBlue does a good job of communicating with you via text or via chat. I'm really meeting you where you're at, you can be running from gate to gate in the airport and getting support from Delta, whereas it would be super inconvenient to be on the phone with them.

Kailey Raymond: That's interesting. I'm curious to hear a little bit more about modality strategy. Obviously on the marketing side, we always talk about different channels, channel of choice, making sure you're hitting people across, of course, their channel of choice and their preference, but also every channel. Surround sound, making sure that people really understand the whole brand experience. You just talked about how phones are perhaps on their way out or maybe have specific use cases. What are some of the channels that you all are leveraging more? What are some of the ones that are always going to be ubiquitous and here to stay?

Adele Hedden: Yeah. So I mean phone and email are always going to be here to some extent. I think there's always going to be edge case issues that people want to talk it out on the phone and I think there are also always going to be customers who want to engage on the phone. Emails again, I think always going to be a modality that you have to service. The other modalities that we're starting to see is we're starting to see more text based. So actual SMS support or support via iMessage or support via WhatsApp is becoming increasingly common. And then live chat, obviously. And then either an in app or a web chat support experience. And then the final one is social media. I think increasingly over the last five years we've seen social media actually show up as a support channel. Something goes wrong and people tweet at the brand and the brand is expected to reply.

And a lot of people actually use social media as a hack like, "Oh, I'll get a faster response if I just light them up over Twitter." And that's something that brands have to think about and service and make sure is a channel in and of itself. I think on modality strategy and I think where CX actually differs a little bit from marketing is there's a huge strategy from a CX side of, obviously you want to be available to customers and you want to meet customers where they're at, but from a cost-to-service perspective, there are certain contacts that as a business, I would prefer to answer over email because it is more efficient and more scalable for our business to respond to this over email. There are certain contacts, which it may be beneficial for the business to respond to via chat. You're literally trying to place an order and you have an issue, if we meet you right where you at and solve that issue, you'll probably place the order. But if it's a 24 hour delay on email, maybe you won't place the order, maybe you'll forget about it.

And so the difference I think in CX is there becomes not only should you offer this array of modalities, but you need to be really strategic about where you route customers. And based on your customer value and your issue type, we want you to chat with us, we actually don't want you to call us. And so we're going to surface certain things to push you towards chat over phone. Phone's still available if you really want it, but we're going to nudge you in the direction of a modality that makes sense to us and works for us. And where I see brands getting modality strategy wrong is they don't do that, they just offer five different modalities and it's just like a free for all and they haven't taken the next step of, "Yes, we have these offerings, but here's how we want to leverage these offerings and here's what we want to do with these offerings." And I think that's where you can really level up on the modality side.

Kailey Raymond: That's super smart. I think the frictionless idea here, me not knowing that you are serving me a particular modality over another is just brilliant. And knowing that about your customer and segmenting them in different ways is fascinating.

Adele Hedden: Yeah.

Kailey Raymond: Very cool.

Adele Hedden: And that's a data problem. What are they contacting us about? Is this an issue that is better resolved over chat? And also, what do we know about this customer? How valuable is this customer to us and how much do we spend on the interaction?

Kailey Raymond: Interesting. Is everything running through a CDP? What are some of the tools that are actually powering this strategy that you have?

Adele Hedden: I've seen it many different ways. So I think there are great off-the-shelf CRMs for CX. And I think a lot of people leverage Zendesk, they leverage Customer, they leverage those softwares to manage customer facing interactions. I've also seen just purely built in-house. So fully integrated with tools, embedded into the app and just a part of the in-house experience. I think you can do it either way from your baseline CRM. I think the layer on top of it is really important, it's really important to invest in tools that empower agents and give agents the right level of information so that they can resolve and deliver the experience that you're looking for. I think a tool that I've been super impressed with recently has been Guru, which is a knowledge based platform that surfaces inside stages.

Kailey Raymond: I've used them.

Adele Hedden: Yeah. I think they've done a great job in their space. And then the final piece is obviously on the data side, which we've talked about and making sure that your CRM data feeds into the broader data system at the company. I think I've seen in organizations where the customer experience data is orphaned from the broader organization and it becomes really challenging to then pull the customer experience data to drive insights. And then also we talked about this, but using products that connect with the CRM to pull insights. And I think Chattermill is a great example of a product that embedded on top of the CRM and can pull insights and help you understand why customers are contacting you, how frequently they're contacting you and things like that.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah. We hear that all the time - making sure that all the tools fit together and it's just a frictionless experience, they talk to each other. And that can happen in real time because I'm sure that, especially on your side of the house, things that are happening are at least in the customer's shoes, exceptionally urgent and need to be solved right now.

Adele Hedden: Yeah.

Kailey Raymond: So being able to actually do that in real time, where as close to real time as possible is going to be important.

Adele Hedden: Yeah. If the goal is to deliver a frictionless experience to customers, you also need to deliver a frictionless experience to your employees who are interacting with customers. And the idea that you could just have a smooth, seamless interaction with a customer if the employee is going to 10 different places, can't pull the data that they need, can't get the information that they need, it's never going to happen. And so it needs to be frictionless I think on both sides. An investment in the employee experience in these cases is usually an investment in the customer experience down the line. And I think that's an important one to think about.

Kailey Raymond: I love that so much. You have so many of these little nuggets as it relates to making sure that people are getting the most out of their careers and using a skill set in one way and transitioning into another. But that's amazing insight that I've never heard before, which is that your internal experience is probably going to be mimicked in your external experience, especially as it relates to tools. You're right, if I'm searching around in 20 different apps to try to figure out and solve my problem, it's probably going to be mimicked on the customer's side of the house.

Adele Hedden: Yeah.

Kailey Raymond: Yeah, I've seen that happen a couple times.

Adele Hedden: Yes.

Kailey Raymond: What's your favorite piece of data? If you have one.

Adele Hedden: Ooh, I think we talked about this, but I think looking at defect rate and contact rate and making sure that, that's just a north star. And to the extent that you can embed that as a north star metric across the company, I think it's really powerful. And then if you can go one level deeper and map different issue types within contact rate or defect rate to specific product pods or however your core organization is organized and actually hold specific pods accountable to the friction that they've caused on the customer side, I think that can be a really powerful tool for creating and designing a frictionless experience.

Kailey Raymond: Very cool. And what are your recommendations for somebody? If they were to delve into customer experience for the first time or if they're looking to up level their strategy, what would you share with them for words of advice?

Adele Hedden: Oh, wow. I think I just gave my word of advice in my metric question. I think to the extent that you're able to have at least one north star, company wide metric that you're talking about, that's related to customer experience, I think it's really important. And I think contact rate or defect rate or whatever you're looking at is usually the right one. And then we talked about the modality strategy piece, which is, I think, another piece of advice. It's not just about offering those systems, it's about making sure that you're using them the correct way. And then the third is, invest in the team. I think the best part of my job is the team that I get to work with and the employees that I get to engage with and the careers that I get to think through development paths for. And I think actually spending the time investing in the team has just an outsize impact on the experience that you ultimately deliver to customers. And also, I think can be one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.

Kailey Raymond: I love that. Customer experience in so many ways starts with the team experience and the culture that you are building internally. Adele, thank you so much for everything today. I really appreciate it.

The State of Personalization 2022

Our annual look at how attitudes, preferences, and experiences with personalization have evolved over the past year.

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