Monday, June 18, 2018

Sharing Secrets about Customer Experience Marketing

When one is active in social media, one can build an amazing and inspiring network. Several years ago, due to a passion for customer experience marketing, I met Annette Franz on Twitter and soon after for lunch since we both call Southern California home. Annette has shared useful quotes on my blog, and since too many businesses lack an understanding about walking a mile in their customers’ shoes, I decided to invite Annette to appear on my blog to share some advice. Highlights from our Q&A follow below Annette’s introductory bio.

Annette Franz is founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in laying the groundwork required to establish a customer experience (CX) strategy that will drive culture transformation efforts. She has 25 years of experience in the CX space and has been recognized as one of “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” by Business Insider and by several other organizations as a top influencer in Customer Experience. She is an active CXPA member, as a CX Expert and CX Mentor; she also serves as an executive officer on the association’s Board of Directors. You can find Annette online at her website at, on Twitter @AnnetteFranz, and on LinkedIn at

QUESTION: What appeals to you about customer experience marketing?
ANNETTE FRANZ: Any time any part of an organization puts the customer at the center of what it’s doing, it’s a win-win – and, obviously, that is very appealing to me as a customer experience consultant.

Customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the relationship with the brand; it also includes the feelings, perceptions, and emotions elicited by those interactions. Marketing is one of the touchpoints that a customer has with an organization; the interactions with marketing are typically in the form of messaging, branding, communication, etc.

Customer experience marketing is all about putting the customer at the center of marketing efforts and shifting the focus from trying to sell to actually engaging with customers in a timely, personalized, and relevant manner – with an intended outcome of retaining customers through a better experience.

QUESTION: How do you explain the difference between brand advocates and brand ambassadors?
ANNETTE FRANZ: To me, the biggest difference between the two is that a brand ambassador is hired by the company and is usually paid, while a brand advocate is a customer who voluntarily promotes the brand and influences others because he’s had a great experience – and wants others to know about it and to join the brand community. I think the other difference is that brand advocates are the real deal; they are customers who use a brand’s products and services and are loyal customers. You don’t necessarily know that this is the case with brand ambassadors. I’ve seen ambassador solicitation campaigns that are quite random, i.e., the individual who receives an invitation has never used the product.

QUESTION: How can brand advocates and brand ambassadors each create a positive brand experience?
ANNETTE FRANZ: The best way that both can help to create a positive experience is through providing feedback to the company about its products and services. This might come in the form of providing direct feedback based on their own experience and usage, bringing to the company what they hear from others who’ve used the brand’s products or services, participating in journey mapping workshops and other co-creation exercises, and more.

QUESTION: How do you define a customer journey map, and how do you convince companies to create one?
ANNETTE FRANZ: A journey map is a visual story-capturing/storytelling exercise during which you paint the picture of the customer experience for a specific interaction by walking in the customers’ shoes to capture their steps, needs, and perceptions of the interaction.

Journey mapping is a creative process that allows you to understand – and then redesign – the customer experience. The output is not just a “pretty picture;” once the map is developed, it is meant to be a catalyst for change.

Quite honestly, the best way to convince companies to journey map – other than sharing real-life examples – is to explain to them that there is no other tool to really help them understand the end-to-end customer experience. I always say that you can’t transform something you don’t understand. Journey maps help you understand; they make it very clear where things are going well and where they are not.

Fortunately, it takes a lot less convincing today than it did five years ago. People understand what a great tool it is. But the real key, as with any other information you have about your customers and their experiences, is to use what you learn to make things better. So think of journey maps not just as a tool but, more importantly, as a process.

QUESTION: How do you measure customer experience success?
ANNETTE FRANZ: You can’t measure customer experience success until you talk about goals and desired outcomes of individual customer experience improvement initiatives. You will also need to identify what success looks like for all stakeholders including employees, customers, and the business. Then you can measure it.

Examples of business success metrics include: cost savings, retention (employee and customer), revenue/recurring revenue, profitability, customer lifetime value, share of wallet, and first call resolution.

Examples of customer success metrics include net promoter score, customer satisfaction, customer effort score, repeat purchases, ease of doing business, transaction accuracy, first call resolution, expectations met, speed of resolution, and quality of resolution.

Examples of employee success metrics include: employee engagement, employee satisfaction, employee happiness, retention, promotion rates, learning and development metrics, and eNPS.

My gratitude and appreciation to Annette for appearing on my Blog and for sharing her insights about the very important specialty known as customer experience marketing.

Image Credit: Industry Week.

Monday, June 11, 2018

At IHOb, It’s Now All About the Burgers!

By now, everyone has heard that the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) has changed its name and will be known as the International House of Burgers (IHOb). If you’re a big fan of the pancake house, don’t worry, because the 60-year-old brand’s president has been quoted as saying that the name change is only temporary.

Last week, thanks to an effective social media marketing campaign – so effective that all brands can only dream about such social media success – IHOP shared news that it would make a big announcement about its name on June 11, 2018. The announcement was that the brand name’s P would become a B. With that hint, fans and customers immediately started to share their suggestions on social media platforms.

Here were some of the proposed new names:
•    International House of Breakfast
•    International House of Brunch
•    International House of Bacon
•    International House of Bourbon
•    International House of Berries
•    International House of Biscuits
•    International House of Buttermilk
•    International House of Brownies
•    International House of Bananas – suggested by Chiquita Banana
•    International House of Burgers

To celebrate summer, the new name of International House of Burgers makes good sense. Thanks to the name change, IHOb has offered to be the place to be for burgers if you don’t grill your own. In fact, there are seven new ultimate steakburgers to try – instead of pancakes.

"We are definitely going to be IHOP," Darren Rebelez, President of IHOP, told CNNMoney, "But we want to convey that we are taking our burgers as seriously as our pancakes." According to CNNMoney, "An IHOP in Hollywood, California, is getting new IHOb signs, and some others might get the treatment. The new IHOb Twitter account even retweeted photos and video of a construction crew putting up the new sign in LA. But Rebelez said the vast majority of the nearly 1,800 other locations will still go by IHOP."

The social media campaign was simple. The announcement was made that a single letter was being changed in the brand’s abbreviated name, IHOP. This was a brilliant marketing campaign because the buzz was planted in social media. On Twitter, there were several clever tweets and responses to fan tweets. And on Facebook, there were similar posts and responses. The mainstream media also picked up the news and discussed it. When was the last time the mainstream media talked about brand marketing or brand equity?

The only thing I would have done differently was to launch a teaser during the Super Bowl. Can you imagine the buzz that would have been generated? No one would have paid any attention to the football game, rather, everyone would have been talking about this name change. IHOP could have been the next Super Bowl Oreo. Of course, Super Bowl ads are expensive, and perhaps, the cost was too high for IHOP.

Or, the extent of media coverage over the last week was so large that IHOb didn’t need to advertise during the Super Bowl to get people talking.

Image Credits: IHOP/IHOb.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#LeadershipTips If You Don’t Have a Fancy Title

It’s a fact that if one is active in social media, one can build an amazing and inspiring network. Recently, I “met” Terri Klass through my activity on Instagram and Twitter because we share an interest in exceptional leadership, and I invited her to appear on my Blog.

Terri is a leadership training consultant, coach, and speaker who partners with organizations to create cultures of empowerment and to develop future leadership. She believes that, regardless of position or title, everyone can be a leader. She delivers highly successful leadership workshops and is a speaker and author of articles about leadership and working with different generations in the workplace. Terri has a weekly Blog about leadership, where she shares challenges that leaders face daily. She is also the co-author of the book, “Energize Your Leadership.” Find Terri on Twitter @TerriKlass, on her website at, and on Facebook (TerriKlassConsulting), and LinkedIn (in/TerriKlass). Highlights of our conversation follow below.

QUESTION: What are three traits necessary for a good leader, and why?
TERRI KLASS: Here are my three traits for a good leader.

Whether we are a leader on a large global team or a leader in a small organization, our ability to be trusted will impact our performance and relationships. There’s no way around it. If we can’t be trusted, we will never be able to reach our potential and become influential. A great place to build trustworthiness is by:
•    Following through on what you say you will do.
•    Taking interest in each member.
•    Being honest in a respectful way.
•    Making yourself approachable.
•    Owning our missteps and mistakes.

As long as leaders are willing to consider new perspectives, they will continue to grow and evolve. Always thinking one is right is a sabotaging mantra. We need to allow our curiosity to drive our conversations. It may be difficult for some of us to include different perspectives or even weigh suggestions that seem far-fetched, but impactful leaders welcome lively discussions and an exchange of divergent opinions.

Leaders recognize that they can’t accomplish great things without the help of others, and that means being appreciative, giving credit to others, and showing kindness. To continue to grow our leadership, we need to continually build vibrant and meaningful relationships. Not only do we need to delve more deeply into our team members’ interests, but we must also help make connections for others. By building networks for the leaders throughout our organizations, we are also cultivating our own leadership.

TWEET THIS: Not only do we need to delve more deeply into our team members’ interests, but we must also help make connections for others. –@TerriKlass #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: How do you recommend employees who are forced to work in silos by their leadership teams overcome the silos and work together?
TERRI KLASS: To be a high performing team, it is essential for leaders to not only develop strong bonds within their teams but also cultivate connections with other teams. My philosophy on leadership is that we don’t need a title or a position to lead. We can lead from wherever we are. That means employees who feel they are working in silos have the ability to reach out to other departments and cultivate relationships on other teams. Employees can set up coffees or lunches with members of other teams to learn about one another. They also owe it to their team to stay open and flexible when working with different teams to create the best end product.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite leadership book and why?
TERRI KLASS: I have so many favorite leadership books, but one author that I love is Patrick Lencioni. His brilliant book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” has been a guidebook for a great deal of my training and coaching. I believe in these five critical elements to create high performing teams and leaders.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization’s number one brand ambassador?
TERRI KLASS: To be a brand ambassador, CEO’s need to first believe in their organization’s vision and core values. They must be clear on the benefits of their products and services and how they make a difference in their customers’ lives. Then they have to empower their employees to see the bigger picture of their contributions. Employees need to see how their individual jobs contribute to the success of an organization. Employees can also be an organization’s greatest ambassadors so it is critical for a CEO to energize and excite their organization through positive storytelling about customer satisfaction.

TWEET THIS: Employees need to see how their individual jobs contribute to the success of an organization. –@TerriKlass #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding

QUESTION: Lastly, one of my favorite quotes about leadership is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): “Leadership is a gift, not a position. It doesn’t require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to trust and be trusted – and block and tackle for others.” What does this quote mean to you?
TERRI KLASS: As I previously shared, trustworthiness is critical to a leader’s success and influence. In fact, the foundation of any relationship is trust, and without it, leaders cannot lead. Anyone can be a leader who takes action, holds himself or herself accountable, is trustworthy, and puts others first. We are not born leaders. Each of us can lead from wherever we are if that is our mission. To be impactful, we must remember that leadership is about developing trusting relationships and helping others reach their north star.

My gratitude and appreciation to Terri for appearing on my Blog and sharing her leadership insights, and thanks, of course, to Instagram and Twitter for the introductions!

Image Credit: Terri Klass.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Are Prequels Necessary for #BrandStorytelling?

There is something unique to television called binge watching. Despite the amount of time to binge watch (which can be ten hours or more, depending on the series you binge watch), there is an important take-away from the attraction of binge watching for all marketers: FANS LIKE STORYTELLING.

According to the BBC, "Collins English Dictionary chose binge watch as its 2015 Word of the Year. Meaning to watch a large number of television programs (especially all the shows from one series) in succession, it reflects a marked change in viewing habits, due to subscription services like Netflix.”

According to Wikipedia, “Storytelling describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment…Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters, and narrative point of view.”

And, according to Harvey Deutschendorf (Twitter: @Theeiguy) in Fast Company, “To be effective, the audience must be able to relate to the story. Talking about an experience on a yacht would not be a good way for the CEO of an organization to connect with front line workers. This would likely have the opposite effect and distance the audience from him or her. Telling a heart-felt story about going fishing with a family member or a grandchild would be much more effective as this would be something many in the audience could identify with.”

TWEET THIS: To be effective, the audience must be able to relate to the story. ~@Theeiguy #brandstorytelling #brandtip

So, how do you tell your brand’s story? Consider the cultural phenomenon of Star Wars. George Lucas began the movie franchise with episodes four, five, and six. He then told the stories of episodes one, two, and three – which are an example of a “prequel,” a story, or in this case, movies, containing events that came before those of an existing work.

Consider the Walt Disney Company. Everyone knows how the company started, and to quote Walt, "It all started with a mouse." But what if there were more to the story?

Consider the television series Homeland on Showtime, which just concluded its seventh season. While there are rumors that the eighth season may be the show’s final season, I recently discovered two books that serve as prequels to the show. While the series has changed dramatically from the first three seasons, these two works of fiction offer some undisclosed background for the initial season.

TWEET THIS: When telling your brand’s story, did you start at the beginning or somewhere else in your brand’s lifecycle? ~@DebbieLaskeyMBA #brandstorytelling #brandtip

In what order have you told your brand’s story? Did you start at the beginning and strategically provide all the essential plot points and characters so that fans and customers can follow along? Or did you start somewhere in the middle of your brand’s lifecycle based on product or service successes or leadership successes? Either way, have you been completely clear so that your stakeholders can follow along every step of the story?

After I read the two Homeland books, I began to wonder about the value of prequels for all brands. Would a prequel be valuable for your brand? What if you created a prequel in the form of an e-book? Whatever you decide, storytelling may be a way for your brand to stand apart from the competition.

Click to read: “Three Branding Lessons from Binge Watching”

Click to read: “The Simple Science to Good Storytelling”

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey's library.