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Paul Carysforth & Clare Willetts

Putting the Human Back in Platforms

COVID-19 has reminded us that ultimately, we don’t have customers, visitors, or users—we have human beings with needs and emotions.

If there is a new normal, then it’s a requirement to refocus on this human angle to create experiences that resonate across your digital platforms. For some, “thinking human” will be a big shift in mindset. “Thinking human” also requires a new set of tools to measure the effectiveness of our platforms in delivering experiences and how we can benchmark ourselves against the competition.

So where do you start? This half hour webinar will equip you with the tools you need to begin thinking human rather than customer.

Paul Carysforth, Data Intelligence Director at Kin + Carta Connect and Clare Willetts, Co-Founder at not only pink and blue, will talk about how customers are changing in surprising ways and introduce a new way of evaluating your platforms—a human index that actually calculates the emotional impact of your platforms. Take a step beyond the raw data and evolve to truly connect with customer needs now and in the future.

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Paul Carysforth, Data Intelligence Director at Kin + Carta Connect
Clare Willets, Founder, not only pink and blue and Ex-Head of Customer Experience at Virgin
Claire Robinson, Customer Experience Director at Kin + Carta Connect

What is customer experience? 

I joke with people that are in my staff, that when I started off at Virgin group, I walked around asking people, what do you think customer experience is? And I would get multiple different answers from: it's a time when you have to contact the customer center, it's when they send that email, it's the point of purchase. And so I kind of walked around with a presentation in my back pocket saying, "No, no, it's everything," and journeys, as we know, aren't linear, they dot about all over the place. And that includes anything that gives you an expectation of the brand. So that could be talking to your friend who works for one of the Virgin brands in the pub. And they're talking about what it's like to work there, or it could be something you read about, Richard Branson, for example, or it could be actually an experience. But the key thing is that the brand itself sets that expectation and customer experience is delivering against that promise. So a brand gives you a promise of what you're going to get. You've got to deliver it in the customer experience. And I think you just got to think, it's everything, it's as much as you can. And some you can influence some you can't. The other side is you have to make sure that your employee experience lives up to that as well, because how can an employee give a great customer experience if they fundamentally don't believe in that brand and they are not an advocate. So you have to marry your customer experience with your employee experience, and then they'll be able to be the best advocate for your brand.

51% aren't getting those great experiences that they want. And I think it really taps into a lot of the research into Gen-Z and actually people coming into Covid and what they're expecting from brands. And what's really clear is customers want genuine brands. They want authenticity. They want real people behind the brand. And I think the challenge is that's offset with, if you look at where the internet's born from 25 years ago, now it was really born from IT, from business centric thinking. And I think a lot of that is still true today. I don't actually think a lot has changed, look at the language even of how people report on success. It started out as hits, still impressions, it's traffic, all of these hard and soft metrics, whatever that means. It's almost anything that dehumanises the fact that these are people visiting, visiting your site. And I think that that's one big barrier, is that the language is wrong. I also think this entrenched views of what channels are that to do. So I think the social channel is where a brand can be more human, can be more conversational, but the website is where the brand has to be more formal. And I think that that kind of thinking is really limiting a lot of companies because they've got these entrenched views and it is what's delivering a lot of these misaligned experiences that just aren't aligning with what customer needs are now. And I think when you look at what disruptors are doing effectively, they're throwing that rule book out the window. And focusing in on, essentially focusing on customers as people. Delivering exceptional service design, that's our focus and the metrics are looking at what they call love metrics, which are much more around just buying into the brand and the retention. And it's much more focused on customers and what they're getting or humans, what they're getting out of the brand. And I think that those are, those are the big learnings for me.

The business case

The latest Adobe survey shows that 84% of people said that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services, a staggering 51% say that the companies fall short to that. So if you think about the gap between those two figures, only one third of humans are actually getting the experience that they want from brands. And that's even more staggering when you actually think about differentiated customer experience is proven to drive ROI. We know that customer first brands are sharing, they're a bit able to increase revenue through having more loyal customers, but also being able to reduce costs by up to 25%, that's the power of satisfied customers and the effect of advocacy. So we know that customer experience is valuable, but how do you actually drive that value? We've known for a while now that emotion is the magic ingredient for experience. You can see there on the Forrester scale, elite CX brands are delivering 22 positive emotional experiences to every one negative, and that's how those brands are really kind of leading the field. I think moving on, that's true that kind of emotional engagement is true, both inside the business and outside the business. So it's important to think about the humans internally as well. 

Ensuring that humans are engaged emotionally, both internally and externally really unlocks this kind of human multiplier and helps brands and businesses actually grow. So that's why we at Kin and Carta Connect really believe that there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way that we talk to customers, in the way we talk to people. I think if one thing has come out of the whole Covid process is that we're not dealing with just a pure commercial relationship. We're not dealing with visitors or users. Actually, we need to start thinking about the human beings on the other end of the experience that we're delivering as a brand. And we need to move from that kind of transactional functional conversion focused way of thinking, to much more human centric, way of thinking. So thinking about longer term relationships, thinking about the emotional needs of our users, and that is really our kind of central belief on the topic. So I guess that for me is a change in job title, moving from Customer Experience Director, to Human Experience Director.

What steps can brands actually take, to resonate on a human level? 

In the last 10-12 weeks during COVID certainly in the UK and other countries as well, it has been interesting to watch communication strategies. We've really seen that brands want to obviously say something about things that are going on. They want to be part of the conversation, but unfortunately what we've seen quite a lot is a very formulaic approach to that. So from a big comms perspective, that we understand, we're here, we're by your side. Oh, and by the way, can you come and buy our product at the end of it? And actually, there are some brilliant kind of takeoffs of those things on the internet, where literally there is a formula. Say this, get this kind of music, have these kinds of images and then state your product at the end. And I think consumers are very skeptical about that. They're very cynical. They know that actually, that's not delivering what your brand stands for. So for me, it all comes back to purpose and values. So you have to align with that. And of course brands have something to say. And so they should, but it has to align with actually what they believe. And it goes all the way back to that. You know, if you've got the right beliefs, and you actually deliver against them, both for your employees and your customers, then of course customers believe you because a very overused word right now, but it's authentic and it has to feel authentic. It has to be authentic.

How can brands achieve this digitally? 

I've definitely seen companies having very siloed insights. So they'll have insights in their different channels, their social team will have this, the customer insight team may have the NPS data and then you'll have the web analytics. I think the first stage is really to unify those insights. I think that's a critical first step, because there's no point having insights on your customers, on your individuals, separate across three or four different departments. So the first stage I'd say is to unify those insights. The second of which I'd say is, go beyond what I would call functional insight. So a lot of people will implement, let's say on a website, Google Analytics, but they won't go beyond headline data. They won't use segmentation to try and understand how different audiences behave. And I think that's just such a huge missed opportunity if we stay on analytics and you look at say, let's take a 4-0-4 page. So that's a pretty negative experience, but, companies don't even label that that's a negative experience. It's something that's possible to do, but they don't add any context for hearing those experiences. So I'd say that that for me is a critical part as well as implementing or the tools, whether it be things like FullStory or constant square that give a better and deeper understanding of behavior on a website and really compliment your core analytics. And secondly, I think to me, I think very few companies, particular websites will actually ask the visitor what they're here for. I think it almost flies in the face of actually what would happen offline. And I think it's a critical opportunity where it's companies just aren't using those kinds of techniques to actually, and it's something that disruptors do really, really well is to actually engage and have a conversation with the customers. Going back to that point, I was making around we're too formal. We can't have a conversation with a customer on our website. And I think that it's about breaking down those barriers for me. I think one final point we'll talk about is the language as well. I think conversational language is a critical and really overlooked part of websites. It's copy goes at the end of the experience. And for me, customers don't see it like that. You want to craft the experience as one collective team.


Focusing time, resource and budget

Nobody has infinite time, money, effort, resources, all those things. And quite frankly, inclination like you can't do everything amazingly. That's the whole point. And actually, nor should you, the research shows, that you shouldn't do everything amazingly. You need to have those kind of drops as well in that too, to make people appreciate the good things. So, take Virgin, for example, obviously very complicated company, 60 of their branded companies are global, all at different stages of their life. They were, some are legacy companies that have got bricks and mortar, others are new startups. And so how I approach that there was to say, let's look at those journeys, let's take a sample. So we took 20 companies and said, okay, let's take those journeys. We know they're not linear, but let's get as close as we can. And now let's look across them and see where are the points that, that kind of match up, that they have similar points in that journey. And now let's look at it from a Virgin perspective, what would we want to deliver? 

That goes back to values, it goes back to purpose. What are we there to do? Which of the points that we could make that difference, and our third layer was: what are the points for customer or human that would make an exponential difference to them? Because we know people don't want everything to have a big Starburst on it. They don't want congratulations on every part of the journey, because the reality is some things, you just want them to work. You just want to be able to press pay, get your receipt through and to say, yep, your order has gone through or whatever it might be. That's not the point at which you want someone to spend 10 minutes with you going "Yay, look at this." So once we'd done that, we said, okay, there are actually, there were seven key points that we think as Virgin, we can make a massive difference. And of course every journey is different. All the different companies have different journeys, but these are the seven points that we can pull together to say, actually, this makes it a Virgin experience. And I think for companies you need to really start with, again, it's always back to your values. What are you there to do for the person that's buying from you? And then you can look at where the right places are on that journey and don't try and do everything. It's not worth it, but also you don't need to just find those key points and then you'll be identified by consumers for those points, which is what you want.


Once you have those moments, once we know what those key journeys are, and it's about really focusing in on those as Clare said, but focusing in on those in terms of understanding where you stand at the moment. So how are you delivering against those experiences and getting that combination of intelligence from, from your analytics, but also from the lights of usability and these other technologies to get that rounded understanding of how you are performing at that moment in time? I think secondly, and this is a real book bear, is the reportings, how you report, I've seen most digital reporting that I've ever seen is almost starts acquisition, engagement, conversion. And it isn't based around the journey or the moments that the customer has. It's based upon what the business wants to report and what it means, what it makes is it's very unactionable for teams to actually do. However, if you spin it and look at tracking on moments and on those journeys and understanding that behavior, it becomes a lot more actionable for the teams. And that to me is probably the key point. And then, and then finally use testing, use AB test and a big part of customer experience is showing value from those programs. And the great thing about the channel that we work in. We've got this, a massive data that we can run AB tests. And again, those experiences incrementally show that this is better than, than, than a or b. And I think that that is the other really key part is once you have that, it's really optimized, but do it as a collective team, not just the data guys, it's a collective team, optimizing those experiences.

Is your experience resonating with customers? 

There’s been quite the focus on NPS for quite a long time. And, and it's really quite limiting to be honest, because that doesn't tell you about experience. It tells you about a single moment in time and that changes. It might be if it's five minutes after, if it's half an hour after, if it's an hour after, if it's a phone call. So some that are done in person, they're done by phone, they're done on computer. That they're, they will elicit different results. And actually it's kind of helpful. But what's interesting is if you go to most of the teams who are measured on NPS and ask them, what, how is it calculated? You'll find that a lot of them don't really know, and they'll say they're aiming for a specific number because it's an X percent increase on how it was before, but they don't really know what that number stands for. And they don't really know why. And so if someone doesn't know what they're looking for, or why they're trying to get to that point, then it doesn't really make any difference. And so why should they? They're just bonused on it or however you decide to do it. 

We need to look much broader than that. And again we worked on a big project to look at what are the other things that you can measure, and that is totally dependent on your business. I mean, we've talked a lot about love and emotions and actually they are really strong and they do need to be looked at and thought about, and there are lots of different things along that journey. And again, you've got to pick your points, you can't do everything. But we also know that if someone is a massive detractor, actually, if you deal with that, well, if you turn that round, they become your advocate. And actually what might've looked like a very low score actually treated in the right way, becomes much more than anything that you would have expected. So actually there are even in those really negative moments, there are incredibly positive outcomes that can come and then those customers will then actually go against other people. If they think they're having a bad experience and push back on them and say, no, no, no, no, no, that brand does not do that because when it happened to me, this is what happened and that's what you need to do. And that's where you need to look for the measurement. That is not as simplistic as NPS. It has its place, but it can't be the only measure that you're using to look at your customer experience.

Applying CX to your digital platform

It links back to cultural shifts - moving away from these business based metrics, these business based reports. And because I think you have to start by identifying whether whatever those love metrics may be or whatever the metrics you want to choose for your audience. But I think it is about not just thinking about business goals, it is about understanding what customer needs are, how are you meeting those needs and how you reportin' on those needs in it, as Claire said, it needs to combine a NPS, but it needs to combine a number of different other, other types of metrics. But the cultural shift is certainly one. I think there are technologies out there now that really can understand struggle score, so they can understand if it uses clicking on things. If the mouse is moving around frantically, because they can't find the information they need. So I think there's real opportunities. Emotion analytics is really coming of age now. So you can actually understand through facial gestures, whether or not people are actually happy. And that should be really for me, brought into your UX testing. And yeah, I think that it's really about rethinking a lot of kind of established thinking, because I think that's one of the biggest challenges, is it's been born from 10-15 years of thinking. And I really think that that's a big challenge that businesses just need to reset in a lot of ways to allow them to think more from a human perspective.

Interacting with customers on your site 

A chatbot is a great mechanism by which to really get deep into specific needs and have that conversation. Whether it be a tool like Usable or whatever technology, there's so many different technologies out there. For me, that would be the one to start with, is a technology that allows you to capture some level of micro feedback. I think that's probably one of the crucial points. It's a reason why we partnered with Usable specifically. Cause what we don't want is disruptive experiences that effectively get in the way of what users are trying to do. So I think for me, it would be to leverage technology, whether it be Usabilla or something similar, to start to ask those questions. Cause I think you've got to start. And then at a broader level, it is like I said before around actually thinking about, what are the key reasons that users visit and striving to understand deeper about what and are they able to achieve those? And I think that that's about really unifying those insights that are available within the organisation.

Measuring your customer journey

From an end to end point of view, I think there's a lot of opportunities to bring, tracking a user from end to end all the way across all those different channels is obviously still to a degree a Nirvana, because a lot of those platforms still are quite closed. Obviously if you're running well paid activity, then that's something that's possible to be able to track and essentially where you hold that data, whether it be a customer data platform or data management platform, where you hold that data is obviously one that is needs to be understood, whether it be as Euro or whether it be a Google, these are all technologies. But I think bringing it into reporting, I think to me too many companies try to get too complex. I think fundamentally for me, where I would begin is it's those moments that we were talking about earlier, pinpointing how you deliver and go deep on what are those key moments within the journey and not just that end conversion goal that's business centric, but what are the key points for the customer and make sure that they're the ones that you're focusing on and make sure that you're delivering that to the right teams within the business. That for me would be where I think the starting point would be.

Breaking through silos to deliver a seamless or connected CX 

I think that's so valid and is so true that so many businesses, even if you just look within marketing itself, are siloed, let alone within the whole business. I think that I hate this term, but cross-functional is really valid here. I think making sure that everyone within the business, doesn't matter which department they're in, understands that they are part of that customer experience. However you look at it. And I think using human terms actually really helps here because people really get it then. They forget that it's, they kind of think of a customer, lots of them as a number because that's what they do. They're looking at spreadsheets or whatever it might be, but actually got to move away from that. And really the kind of CX or the human experience department needs to be across everything. And for me, the best way to do that is invite them in. You've got to invite in all of those departments, get their opinions, get their thoughts. They are customers too, you know, they have bought from your company probably, slightly different way, but they still would have bought. They probably bought before they arrived at your company. So all of those things get that feedback, get it from them and then get them part of the solution as well. So as you produce those solutions, as you talk about the points in the journey, you know, what does everyone think? And it's not about asking everybody possible and taking all of those opinions, but it is about saying, "Okay, I just want to sense check it." Because we're all different, right? And that's, and that's really important too, because you can't, you can't cater for every nuance, but you can certainly make it that something that feels collectively right for your business. And finally don't forget your values and your purpose. Cause whatever that sits at, I know I say all the time, but actually it has to flow out from there. And if it feels right for that, then it will be right and you will deliver your cut your employees will believe and so will your customers.


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