Tracy Posadowski Of IrisCX On 5 Ways To Create a Wow! Customer Experience
An Interview With Fotis GeorgiadisAspart of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Posadowski.Tracy Posadowski is a technology go-to-market expert, passionate storyteller, relationship builder and currently serves as the CMO at IrisCX. She has successfully taken new and emerging solutions to market in over 15 countries, developed brands from the ground up and co-founded a B2B SaaS company which resulted in a sale to the world’s largest technology distributor. When she’s not on the slopes debating how early is too early for apres ski, Tracy can be found on the links trying to emulate the one golf shot of the day that will convince her to play again.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?Absolutely. Like a Jane Austin novel, this one is a classic.It goes like this: Girl has a wonderful childhood, but longs for something more. She goes to university, gets a job in tech, and finds love. Two amazing kids later, love fizzles and she’s determined to make it on her own. Bit by the tech bug, she becomes obsessed with the art of communication and the science of marketing. Business takes her abroad. She starts her own company where she finds wild success, and marries the love of her life. Then, with wisdom and experience on her side, she finds her niche — building brands and experiences that customers LOVE.Which brings me to this interview today.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?The thing about mistakes is they are never funny at the time. They are only funny once we’ve learned from them.One mistake I made when I was first starting my career was thinking that I was qualified to do roles that I wasn’t actually qualified to do. I had one boss tell me he appreciated my ambition and respected the hustle, but I lacked the experience and business acumen to succeed in a role that I had applied for.Looking back, his feedback was 100% valid. I had no business running a departmental strategy of a multi-billion dollar company at 26 years old (shout out to the people that do, but that wasn’t me). I was somewhat closed off to his feedback at the time. Youth is a precarious thing.Oh, the hours I wasted trying to take that next big step when I should have been focusing on upping my game and learning everything I could!It wasn’t until I made a lateral move to a new role that it clicked — I had a huge gap in my knowledge and needed to round out my understanding of the business as a whole, not just the department I was in. I made a point to take lateral roles in different departments going forward. That decision shaped my business acumen that eventually brought me to co-founding and running my own business.If I didn’t have a trusted leader to tell me, “patience, young grasshopper,” can’t imagine where I’d be today.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’ve been fortunate to have exposure to excellent leaders and mentors, many of them women. There is one person in particular I have always looked up to. Linda Thomas was the VP of Marketing when I was a young marketing leader. Linda has an impeccable talent for seeing business opportunities, translating them into strategy and rallying the troops to execute. Most importantly, she had a high EQ.I was in charge of planning and executing a very high profile event. Linda pulled me aside to congratulate me on its success. I replied, “It wasn’t me, it was a team effort.” To which she pointed out, “That may be so, but it was successful because you led the charge.” Her message was subtle, but it has always stuck with me. Yes, the event was executed well due to everyone who did their part. But, have the courage to acknowledge and take pride in your contribution.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?It sounds intuitive, but in practice it’s not always.People buy from people they like. Companies have things they want people to buy. An amazing experience at all points of the customer journey is critical for companies to sell their products and services.When people perceive they have encountered a bad experience, either with a person within the company, a company policy, or in extreme cases a fundamental difference in values or ethics of a brand, they are less likely to buy or make a repeat purchase.Customers are more likely to leave a bad review after they’ve had a poor experience and we all know that hurts sales. In today’s culture, we are more likely to trust reviews rather than brands, because we collectively believe that reviews are written by people who actually had the experience. Therefore, it must be true.Again, it goes back to people trusting people. Brands have to earn the trust of people in order to be successful. Providing a customer experience that goes beyond expectations of customers increases trust and therefore the company sells more.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?Providing and receiving service is inherently human.For years now, business gurus have preached the importance of “the customer experience.” And for years, companies have invested in call centers, online chat, customer service bots and enterprise software solutions that were all meant to help garner the love and loyalty of consumers, along with the purchases and revenue that result.Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked. Most consumers still think service is generally unsatisfying, annoying or just plain lousy. Research shows that they long for a more human experience, where they’re treated like a person and not like a sales target or an anonymous stranger.Because many companies struggle to tie tangible business metrics to customer experience, and by its nature CX is emotive rather than rooted in facts and figures, it’s easy for brands to pay lip service to customers. Think of some of the biggest brands you know. There are some experiences that you love, and some you could do without.The companies that truly take their time to understand their customers and just as importantly find pain points in the customer journey and address them are the companies that are most successful.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?There are two parts to this question.First, new customers have a choice. Behavioral science will tell you that customers want to feel in control of their decisions and they do this through research, talking to others and ultimately talking to different brands before making their choice. But, they have to be motivated to buy.An analogy often used is about leading an elephant to water. The elephant is a different analogy to a horse. You can lead a horse. You can’t move an elephant. If the elephant is thirsty, the clearest path to get to water is the one the elephant will take. If the elephant isn’t thirsty right now, but knows it will be in the future, the clearest, easiest and shortest path to water in the world isn’t going to make the elephant move. And, you can’t lead it to water because you can’t push the elephant.Ultimately, what the customer perceives as the easiest path to get their desired outcome is the one they will follow.The second part refers to customers that are already with a brand, but the service and experience are poor. The same elephant analogy applies. Customers perceive that changing providers or switching to a different brand that sells the same product is difficult. Therefore, they have to be very motivated to do it.Ultimately, competition is only a threat if they are offering a path to a desired outcome with less pain points and the customer is motivated to act now.Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?I enjoy building relationships. Working in the IT channel ecosystem for several years taught me that you need to build trust and credibility by listening, then acting or you get left behind. I prefer to think of my business relationships as partnerships. When both sides are invested in a common outcome, nine times out of 10 that outcome is not only achieved, but expectations are exceeded.The company I co-founded was a B2B2B play (yes, you read that right. We sold to IT resellers and distributors that then sold to other businesses using our software). We had one client in particular that was looking to differentiate in a very crowded space. For resellers and distributors, their value-add for customers comes from what they offer in addition to hardware and software. Services play a huge role.Working with that client, not only did we agree to key objectives for their technology-as-a-service program, but I also thought outside the box about how we could truly elevate the value the program brought to resellers. We applied for and won several awards, issued press releases and secured media coverage, developed onboarding and training programs, made it onto internal town hall agendas and we became an extension of their team.Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?Aside from the program becoming a raving success with the company’s resellers, ultimately the company invested in and purchased my company. The solution and program we developed is still a core differentiator of the distributor today.It was a partnership that reaped rewards on both sides.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.
- Make it human. This is different from personalization. Just because my first name shows up in the greeting of a marketing email sent through automation software doesn’t make the message personal or tailored to me. The companies that are going to win in the long term, particularly in a challenging economic climate, are the ones that take the time to truly understand their customers.
- It’s not about you. Why have customer experience solutions fallen so short? Just look at the related KPIs that companies measure. Customer churn rate, customer lifetime value, NPS, average resolution time. Most of them have less to do with the customer and plenty to do with the company. Likewise, a lot of “customer experience” solutions are designed more around helping the business connect with the customer. Instead of helping the customer connect with the business. In other words, they’re more business-centric than customer-centric. Maybe that’s why customers are so dissatisfied: the customer experience hasn’t usually been about the customer. No wonder relationships suffer.
- Build a better experience. For both your customer and you. Engagement means creating a deeper connection with your customers about the products and programs that are relevant to them. Engagement builds trust. It builds real relationships. That’s what keeps your customers coming back for more.
- Offer customer-centric assistance at critical points in the customer journey. Take a consultative approach to sales, helping customers choose the right products for their specific situations. Think beyond the world of IVRs, chatbots and even brick and mortar stores. There are some incredible enhanced video, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and process automation solutions that help you reach your customers on their terms. This seriously improves your speed to lead, but more importantly, allows your customers to choose the type of contact they want.
- Take your own journey. If you really want to engineer processes, train teams and remove friction for your customers, go through the end-to-end customer journey yourself. If you find it difficult, confusing, annoying or frustrating, just imagine how your customers feel. Fix the problems you find. Test, iterate and get customer feedback that you can action. Never stop taking your own journey.
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