Saturday, October 30, 2021

Facebook Rebrands and Becomes Meta


By now, everyone has heard the surprising news. On October 28, Facebook announced a new name: Facebook will now be known as Meta, which is Greek for “beyond.” The new logo is a blue infinite symbol that accompanies the name. Is this the most important marketing news of the year?

According to the press release from Facebook:

As Mark Zuckerberg described to media, the company is betting that it’ll be the next major computing platform after the rise of smartphones and the mobile web – thus, the impetus for the rebranding from Facebook to Meta.

Mark Zuckerberg explained, “Today we’re seen as a social media company. Facebook is one of the most used technology products in the history of the world. It’s an iconic social media brand. [But] our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future. From now on, we’re going to be metaverse-first, not Facebook first. Over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and identity on what we’re building towards. [But] our mission remains the same – it’s still about bringing people together. Our apps and their brands aren’t changing either. We’re still the company that designs technology around people. As we broaden our vision, it’s time for us to adopt a new brand.”

Under the new arrangement, Facebook and its family of apps (Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp) will be a division of a larger Meta company still led by Zuckerberg that will ALSO focus on AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), and metaverse efforts. The company’s stock ticker will change from FB to MVRS on December 1, 2021.

If this sounds similar to Google’s restructuring, you’re correct. In a surprising move in 2015, Google became a subsidiary of “Alphabet.”

According to CNN Business, “A rebranding could be part of an effort to overhaul Facebook’s reputation and turn the page following a series of PR nightmares, including misinformation on its platforms, content moderation failures, and revelations about the negative effect its products have on some users’ mental health.”

On another note, apparently, when translated into Hebrew, “Meta” means “dead.” So, the hashtag that appeared on some social platforms was #FacebookDead.

Also, after the Meta announcement, fast-food chain Wendy’s changed its Twitter handle to “Meat” stating that it is going “Into the Meataverse.”

Will this rebrand achieve Zuckerberg’s goals? Will Facebook fans and users embrace the new name and logic behind the rebranding efforts? And finally, will Meta become the leader in the metaverse space? Only time will tell.

So now, back to the initial question of this post: Is Facebook’s new name the most surprising marketing news of the year? You’ll have to return to this Blog on January 1, 2022, and read my “Top 10 Marketing Highlights of 2021” post for the answer to that question.

Image Credit: Facebook/Meta.

Monday, October 25, 2021

The Importance of Reputation Management

Over the last 12 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege of meeting a myriad of amazing marketing, branding, customer experience, leadership, and social media experts. One of these experts is Craig Badings from Australia. We recently discussed reputation management, corporate culture, and crisis management, and highlights follow Craig's bio.

Craig Badings has spent over 30 years advising major corporations and senior executives in Australia and South Africa on their reputation in good times and bad. Much of that time has been spent working in the trenches with boards, management teams, and in-house communication teams assisting them with issues and crisis preparation and management, media coaching and media relations, communication strategy, social media strategy, and thought leadership. Craig is also the author of two ebooks and two published books on thought leadership. Follow on Twitter at @ThoughtStrategy and connect on LinkedIn at

QUESTION: How do you define "reputation management?"
CRAIG BADINGS: Reputation management revolves around three things: context, stakeholders, and culture. To protect and enhance a brand or a corporation’s reputation, that entity needs to have a strong handle on the context in which it is operating and specifically how it's key stakeholders view that context and how it impacts their lives, their decision making, and their perception of whether the brand is operating within or beyond its social license.

You can have the best reputation management practices in place, but if your culture does not align with your values nor your purpose, your organisation’s risk exposure is dramatically increased. Over three decades, almost all the crises in which I have been involved have stemmed from poor culture or a breakdown of what was done versus the values or purpose of that organisation.

(Read more on this topic by Craig in his post: Avoiding the post-pandemic culture chasm:

TWEET THIS: If your culture does not align with your values nor your purpose, your org's risk exposure is dramatically increased. -@ThoughtStrategy #CorporateCulture #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: You recently wrote about three types of response to a crisis. Can you share brief highlights?
CRAIG BADINGS: There are three types:
(1) The Ostrich – they bury their heads in the sand hoping it will blow over or subside. Some companies purposefully employ this strategy, but it can be high risk on two fronts; 1) the news, social media and public sentiment can run away from you very quickly and grow increasingly negative and sometimes hostile; 2) the company can be accused of trying to hide things, ducking their responsibility and being irresponsible or intransigent in their response.
(2) The Pugilist – the company goes on the attack and comes out swinging punches, i.e., legal letters, statements and social media responses which are very defensive in nature and tone, reacting too quickly, denying things without really knowing the full facts, not showing empathy nor offering an apology, ignoring the context, saying or doing things (or not doing things) which can result in a secondary crisis, or which further inflame the situation.

(3) The cool, calm and collected – they have the plans, the necessary structures as well as crisis experienced people in place inside and outside the organisation. They’ve also tested them in some form of crisis simulation. They respond quickly but in a measured, empathetic way and always with a broader understanding for the context. They realise who their stakeholders are, how and when to communicate with them every step of the way, and they take control of the narrative. They balance advice from communication consultants and their lawyers – they don’t hide behind the law but realise that a well-placed, authentic apology, and the right empathetic tone can help enormously in managing how they are perceived to be handling the crisis.

QUESTION: Can you name three CEO’s who have stepped up following a crisis, and what did they do?
CRAIG BADINGS: Here are my three:

(1) The Whole Foods Co-CEOs Walter Robb and John Mackey when accused of overcharging customers sent out a video message in which they fully accepted responsibility. Said Robb: "Straight up, we made some mistakes. We want to own that and tell you what we’re doing about it."
(2) At the start of Covid-19, Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson said he would forfeit his salary for the year and that Marriott would donate hotel rooms to front-line workers to help fight the pandemic. He also asked executives to sacrifice half their salaries.
(3) In 2018, two African American men were arrested for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks while waiting for a friend. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson travelled to Philadelphia to meet the arrested men and announced he would close all 8,000 US stores for half a day so that about 175,000 employees could attend racial bias education to address implicit bias and prevent discrimination. Johnson’s communication was also spot on: "I want to offer a personal apology to the two men who were arrested in our store. What happened in the way that incident escalated and the outcome, was nothing but reprehensible, and I am sorry...Now there’s been some calls for us to take action on the store manager. I believe that blame is misplaced. In fact, I think the focus of fixing this: I own it. This is a management issue, and I am accountable to ensure we address the policy and the practice and the training that led to this outcome."

QUESTION: In your book, Brand Stand, you described seven steps to thought leadership. Can you share highlights?
CRAIG BADINGS: When I wrote that book, I spent a year researching what had been written about thought leadership. I was amazed to find there was nothing outlining a process or methodology to arrive at a thought leadership position. Most of it was how to take your thought leadership to market, the content, the channels.

That prompted me to come up with a five-step process:
(1) Understand the challenge, i.e., the biggest issues facing your stakeholders and the objectives for your thought leadership.
(2) Develop the thought leadership strategy, i.e., do the research (you need empirical evidence), allocate internal resources including senior management buy-in.
(3) Content development and production, i.e., develop your collateral, coach your spokespeople, and launch internally first.
(4) Launch your thought leadership communications program, i.e., build a pervasive presence with your stakeholders (depending on who they are, this could include media, social media, events, etc., but it must be relevant to the way your stakeholder’s consume content).
(5) Measurement, evaluation, and recalibration, i.e., measure against your original objectives and then make the necessary changes - the best thought leadership is built over years and is not a one-off.

QUESTION: There is an important alignment between reputation management and public relations. In March 2021, Burger King experienced a PR crisis, and you commented with the directive, “Know your audience.” Can you elaborate?
CRAIG BADINGS: What I was saying is that you cannot afford to be tone deaf to the context in which you operate. You run a huge reputation risk to your brand if you aren’t tapped into monitoring environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. At its core, this means knowing what they are and understanding how your stakeholders feel about these things. Companies which sometimes hide behind the mantra of their legal right are often defensive or na├»ve.

Look where it got Rio Tinto, who was legally entitled to blow up the Juukan Caves, but it was a decision so out of kilter with stakeholder and societal expectations that it resulted in a huge crisis for the company and the loss of jobs for many senior executives. Read more about the Juukan Cave destruction in my article in PR Week:

The role of PR practitioners has changed. It's no longer good enough to only think about content, media, and selling the benefits of your brand. Instead, PR is a lot more all-encompassing and should be focused on the entire gamut of reputation management.

In our experience at SenateSHJ, this revolves around three key areas: Promotion, Engagement, and Protection. Here is a bit more on each of those:
(1) Stakeholder engagement: executive visibility/profile-building program, thought leadership, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) communication, proactive media and government relations, social media and content marketing.
(2) Engagement: employee engagement and communication, culture change, leadership behaviour programs, behavioural programs, and change management.
(3) Protection: crisis preparedness, crisis management, issues tracking, stakeholder engagement, alignment with other corporate risk frameworks, e.g., BCP (Business Continuity Planning).

TWEET THIS: The role of PR practitioners has changed. It's no longer good enough to only think about content, media, and selling the benefits of your brand. -@ThoughtStrategy #PR #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What are your three favorite brands, and why?
CRAIG BADINGS: Here are my three:
(1) Fenn surfskis: First, because I am a surfski nut and get out paddling on the water on Sydney’s beautiful harbour waterways as well as the ocean off Manly Beach. Second, because they are made in the country where I grew up, South Africa, and every ski purchased supports local employment in a country suffering from high unemployment.
(2) Apple iPhone: The only time I ever completely missed my train stop going home from the city was when I got my first iPhone. I was so engrossed in the incredible features, apps, and the user friendliness of it that I went a few stops past mine. It remains my favourite piece of tech in my life.
(3) Patagonia: I read founder, Yvon Chouinard’s book, Let My People Go Surfing, many years ago well before ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and sustainability was fashionable. I was struck by their strong sense of purpose and their values right from the outset.

My gratitude to Craig for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring marketing and reputation management insights.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Social Media’s Impact on Employee Engagement and Customer Experiences

Over the last 12 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, leadership, social media, and customer experience experts. One of these experts is Kathi Kruse from Southern California. We recently discussed social media, employee engagement, and customer experience marketing, and highlights follow below Kathi’s bio.

Kathi Kruse is an automotive digital retail expert, social media strategist, dealership profitability expert, blogger, author, speaker, and Founder/CEO of Kruse Control Inc. She lives with her cats Jack, Sammy, and Daisy; and is a volunteer board member and marketing/online fundraising chair of Hanaeleh Horse Rescue. Ten percent of Kruse Control profits go to animal welfare. 

Connect with Kathi online:





QUESTION: We met via Twitter and Facebook back in 2013 when you provided a brand tip on my blog. You wrote: "It’s never been more important to have a customer-centric culture. Everything you say and do – including how you treat your employees – is being broadcast throughout the web. Make sure your culture is ready for prime time. Being able to tell the story of your business in a meaningful way connects your brand to your prospects and customers. By communicating how you do business, you initiate the customer experience long before they walk on the lot or visit your website." How has that tip evolved nearly a decade later?
KATHI KRUSE: Honestly, I haven't seen much evolve around this subject (at least in auto retail) so my tip remains relevant. The pandemic advanced the car business 10 years in 10 short months, so there's been a lot of upheaval and scrambling. Inventory shortages are causing a lot of disruption, so the daily operations process has had to adjust, which makes it super challenging to forecast and earn a profit. Retailers are doing well if they have cars to sell, but many do not, and they're understandably worried. Once the shortages subside, operations will have to adapt again, along with consumers' new-found freedom of buying more online. But my tip still stands exactly as I said it nearly a decade ago.

QUESTION: In 2015, you contributed to a post on my blog featuring social media tips. You wrote: "Brands must do a better job of generating employee engagement and participation in content marketing. Employees, especially salespeople, are the fountain of quality information that your customers crave. Start with a social media policy, provide training, make content submission easy, establish WIIFM (what’s in it for me), and encourage growth of employees’ personal brands. Employee expertise = quality content!" How has that tip evolved over the years?
KATHI KRUSE: Most of this tip is still solid, too! Employees are integral to a brand. Taking a holistic approach to unite the digital and traditional components of operations often means restructuring long-held beliefs. Outdated behaviors and processes constitute change, and employees play a significant role in any plan toward digital retail transformation. What's changed with my tip is that it's not just content marketing anymore that employees should participate in. Now, it's representing themselves online in a way that aligns with the brand and integrating Social Selling techniques to laser-target their prospecting and establish rapport through existing connections.

TWEET THIS: Employees are integral to a brand. –@KathiKruse #EmployerBranding #BrandExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What's your favorite social media platform, and why?
KATHI KRUSE: Twitter. It's a great way to meet more people, introduce them to my business content and capitalize on common interests. I'm an equine advocate/Board member at Hanaeleh Horse Rescue, and Twitter allows me to share more information to those that don't know what's happening on our public lands with wild horses and burros. 

Instagram is a close second for me, for different reasons. At the end of the day, I can fire up Instagram, navigate to Beth Stern's (Howard's wife) account, and see what kittens she's rescued and adopted out. Also see what Toby Toad's doing. If you're not following him, you're missing out!

 Check out Beth Stern at:

Check out Toby Toad online at:

Check out Hanaeleh Horse Rescue online at:

TWEET THIS: Twitter is a great way to capitalize on common interests. —@KathiKruse #Twitter #SocialMediaMarketing #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: According to Bill Gates, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Have you ever had an experience that began horribly and ended by your becoming a happy advocate for the brand?
KATHI KRUSE: This is about turning a bad experience into a positive one. I had a problem with one of the sensors on my home security system. I called to get help, and it didn't go well. The person was clearly untrained, which made them unsure of themselves and unable to help me. Since I wasn't able to get my situation handled, I gave up that day after getting very frustrated. 

I was seriously contemplating going to a different company, but rather than jump, I waited a few days and called again. This time, I talked with a great gal who walked me through replacing the sensor myself. She also explained that the person who had frustrated me earlier was based in another country and does work very hard. I felt bad for being so frustrated with the company. That rep turned things around for me and saved me from jumping ship to another company.

QUESTION: If you could be the Chief Customer Officer for any brand, which would it be, and why?
KATHI KRUSE: I do love a challenge. I would choose Ariat, a brand of footwear and clothing for equine enthusiasts. As I mentioned earlier, as a volunteer at Hanaeleh, I'm around horses every weekend. Ariat makes the BEST barn boots I've ever used (and I've tried many). I still have the first pair I bought nine years ago! And I've bought at least 8 more pairs since then. These boots have to stand up to dirt, water, hay, mud, and, of course, poop (!), and they are fantastic. Unfortunately, their customer experience isn't up to par with their product. I've witnessed a lack of connection to customers over the years, and I'd love to help them turn the brand into something everyone talks about - even those that don't work with horses all the time.

My thanks to Kathi for sharing her marketing insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Tips to Establish Your Digital Brand

Over the last 12 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, leadership, and customer experience experts. One of these experts is Zen Yinger from North Carolina. We recently had a discussion about marketing, and highlights follow below Zen’s bio.

Zen Yinger is the CEO of ZenSocial, and as a digital marketer for over a decade, she loves to help technology and cybersecurity companies and C-Suite teams begin and scale their digital presence to become thought leaders within their industries. She also coaches entrepreneurs and professionals who are in the process of making a delayed entry into the digital world. She has been recognized in Onalytica’s Top 100 for Social Media Marketing Influencers and Top 100 PR Influencers. Also, she is passionate about #WomensAdvocacy #WomenSupportingWomen #HeForShe and #TechForGood. Her website is; her Blog is; and she can be found on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Pinterest as Zen Yinger.

QUESTION: On your website, you wrote about the importance of, "Establishing your brand as an industry expert, promoting your thought leadership and keeping your communities, brand advocates, and clients coming back for more." What key ways do you recommend accomplishing this?
ZEN YINGER: When it comes to building your social authority, it’s all about ‘show – don’t just tell.’ By sharing relevant information, your thoughts, and insights consistently; engaging with your community by participating in social chats, and through meaningful engagement, you begin to build your community of peers, fans, brand advocates, and prospects who become clients. If you are genuine and do your best to help folks without the hope for a get (aka, something in return), you become a well-respected member of your community. As I discovered when I first began my journey with social media, “The Power Of Your Community Will Make Your Brand The Next Big Thing.” It was true a decade ago, and just as true today.

TWEET THIS: If you are genuine and do your best to help folks without the hope for a get, you become a well-respected member of your community. -@ZenYinger #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: Many people remember the famous OREO Tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl. With that in mind, what's your favorite social media marketing campaign?
ZEN YINGER: B2C brands get a much better opportunity to use creativity and visual marketing to their advantage to connect with their audiences through high impact, high recall, social media marketing campaigns.

It’s time we see more B2B brands create high impact, high recall social media marketing campaigns. That said, I loved Coke’s #ShareACoke campaign and Dove’s #ShowYourself campaign with messages that were simple, yet they connected deeply with me. The Zoom Background Competition via Twitter last year was fun too.

QUESTION: What's your favorite marketing or social media buzzword, and why?

#Organic Content: Non-paid branded content which is how brands used to post and engage on social media, to be social instead of “doing social” via paid content. Unfortunately, brands have to pay now for impressions and reach on most social networks, because social media algorithms have started showing only a tiny percentage of organic content to a brand’s community.

On Twitter, I often use #WomenSupportingWomen #HeForShe #MarketingTwitter #socialmedia #digitalmarketing and #Marketing hashtags. I also LOVE using emojis whenever relevant, especially during Twitter conversations (or in Twitter speak, convos).

QUESTION: What's your least-liked marketing or social media buzzword, and why?
ZEN YINGER: I do not like the buzzword #hustle that many marketers use. I prefer the word being in the "#flow," which is when we are working at our best using less energy, more receptive to creative solutions, achieve positive results and greater success.

QUESTION: What do you think will be the central focus of our social media marketing discussions a year from now?
ZEN YINGER: All through 2021-2022 and beyond, we are going to experience a marketing makeover with our digital world adapting to a post-pandemic target audience which has adapted to a new remote work or hybrid environments. People all over the world have developed new habits, with accompanying new wants and needs.

Brand marketers will need to do more social listening, engage more to understand, so they don’t drop the ball on clear and effective messaging to connect with their post-pandemic audience.

There will be a massive uptick in social media customer service, where even smaller brands will have to join the digital world and be available 24/7 if they want to keep their clients/customers happy. Almost everyone will have to become digitally savvy to navigate our ALWAYS ON digital world.

TWEET THIS: Brand marketers will need to do more social listening to connect with their post-pandemic audience. -@ZenYinger #BrandTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My thanks to Zen for sharing her social media marketing insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.

Monday, October 11, 2021

What Makes Effective Leaders?

Over the last 12 years, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege to meet a variety of amazing marketing, leadership, and customer experience experts. One of these experts is Wally Bock from South Carolina, who I first met via Twitter back in 2010. We recently had a discussion about leadership, and highlights follow below Wally’s bio.

Wally Bock is an award-winning author and blogger. He writes the popular Three Star Leadership Blog, and his Writing Edge Blog has more than 1,000 posts on how to write a book you can be proud of. His eBook, Become a Better Boss One Tip at a Time, has 347 tips to help you do a little better every day, and is available on his Three Star Leadership site. Wally’s book Now You're the Boss: Making the Most of the Most Important Transition in Business is available as a paperback and eBook on Amazon. He works with clients as a coach and writing partner to create great business books, and some of the books have won awards and become bestsellers. Follow on Twitter @WallyBock.

QUESTION: Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in early 2020, how has it impacted the role of leadership?
WALLY BOCK: The move to remote working exposed a lot of incompetent managers. There were (and are) too many managers that can only judge by the activity they see. When their team members are out of sight, those managers didn’t know what to do.

Every leader was tested because work still had to be done and team members still had to be supported, even though the pandemic changed a lot about the work environment. The pandemic added other stresses. There was the flu, and the threat of illness. Some people were suddenly working from a home filled with other family members. Others were suddenly cut off from normal contact with others.

QUESTION: What three traits define a good leader?

WALLY BOCK: I think studying traits is a colossal waste of time. A trait is a “distinguishing characteristic” according to Merriam Webster.

I think it makes more sense to look at the behaviors of effective leaders. Effective leaders touch base a lot and communicate their core leadership message constantly. Effective leaders set clear and reasonable expectations and deliver consequences of good and poor performance. Effective leaders protect their team and teammates and help them grow and develop.

TWEET THIS: Effective leaders protect their team and teammates and help them grow and develop. -@WallyBock #Leadership #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: How do you recommend people who aren’t in a leadership position, or don’t have a leadership title, make a difference in the workplace?
WALLY BOCK: Do excellent work and help others do excellent work. Have the courage to speak up.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?
WALLY BOCK: If we’re talking about CEOs, the term “brand ambassador” is one of those trendy phrases that obscures reality instead of illuminating it. The CEO represents the company to the outside world, but so do salespeople, customer service reps, repair techs, and a host of others. The CEO’s role is to set the tone, training, supervisors, and rewards, so that all those people and others who never work directly with customers can do good work.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO create a culture that inspires its employees?
WALLY BOCK: I don’t think you “create” or “build” culture. Culture is an emergent property of millions of actions. The CEO’s challenge is to decide what he or she should do so the people at the company can do good work. That often means: paying ruthless attention to who gets hired, how they are trained, and how they are supervised. It always means setting the example.

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does this quote mean to you?
WALLY BOCK: The job of any boss from CEO to a first line supervisor is to help the team and team members do good work today and better work tomorrow.

TWEET THIS: The job of any boss from CEO to a first line supervisor is to help the team and team members do good work today and better work tomorrow. -@WallyBock #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

My thanks to Wally for sharing his inspiring leadership insights and for appearing here on my Blog.

Image Credit: Krakenimages via Unsplash.

Monday, October 4, 2021

The Alignment Between Customer Experiences and Marketing

Over the last decade, thanks to social media, I have had the privilege of meeting a myriad of amazing marketing, branding, customer experience, leadership, and social media experts. One of these experts is Dan Gingiss from Chicago. We recently discussed customer experience marketing, and highlights follow Dan’s bio.

Dan Gingiss is an international keynote speaker and customer experience coach who believes that a remarkable customer experience can be your best marketing. His 20-year professional career has consistently focused on delighting customers, spanning multiple disciplines including customer experience, marketing, social media, and customer service at companies such as McDonald’s, Discover and Humana. Dan is the author of two books, The Experience Maker: How To Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait To Share (released in September) and Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. He also hosts the Experience This! podcast and The Experience Maker Show, and was a regular contributor to Forbes. Check out his website at, and follow on Twitter at @dgingiss.

QUESTION: Your website features this quote: "A Remarkable Customer Experience Is Your Best Marketing." How can a brand accomplish this on a consistent basis?
DAN GINGISS: When we create positive experiences for our customers, they naturally want to tell other people about them. This is because most of the experiences that we have with brands are average at best, and no one talks about average. The good news is that it's not very hard to differentiate your brand based on customer experience. It simply requires looking at every interaction your customers have with the company, and focusing as much time (and money) on your existing customers as you do on acquiring new ones.

QUESTION: Those of us who live in the marketing and customer experience worlds have heard the Jeff Bezos empty chair story many times. What does this mean to you?

(Check out the story here:
DAN GINGISS: One of the best compliments I received in my professional career was from the chief digital officer of Discover when he recruited me to head up digital customer experience. He said that he had observed me in meetings and that I always had the proverbial customer hat on. I always looked at business problems from a customer perspective. That insight actually changed my entire career path.
The empty chair tactic is great, as are the chairs that literally say “Customer” in Comcast's conference rooms and executive offices. But these become unnecessary when every employee realizes that they have a direct or indirect impact on the customer experience and must think through decisions and implementations with the customer in mind.

QUESTION: Since March 2020, which brands have stood out by providing excellent customer service during the covid pandemic?

DAN GINGISS: Charles Schwab impressed me early on in the pandemic by identifying my brokerage-specific needs (help navigating through a volatile stock market) versus the standard “enhanced cleaning procedures.” Once grocery stores and retailers figured out curbside pickup, that became a convenient enhancement that I believe is here to stay post-pandemic. Medical and dental practices did a great job of reinventing the patient experience as well.
QUESTION: What customer experience metric should every brand use, and why?
DAN GINGISS: Customer retention. Most companies have what I like to call a “leaky bucket,” whereby customers are leaving without even saying why. And usually, they’re headed for the competition. The leaky bucket is extraordinarily expensive, since we all know it costs much more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

On the flip side, the more customers we can keep, the more revenue we generate both from them and from their referrals. Customer retention is also a great complement to traditional CX measurements like Net Promoter Score because while the latter tells us what the customer says, the former tracks what they actually do.
QUESTION: To quote Marilyn Suttle (@marilynsuttle on Twitter), "The secret to providing exemplary customer service is making it the priority and part of every employee’s job description." Sounds easy on paper, but difficult in execution. How do you execute this?
DAN GINGISS: I’d probably substitute “customer experience” here for “customer service” only because service is a tactical component of CX that not everyone is qualified to provide. But every employee should look at themselves as contributing to the customer experience in some way, and therefore looking for ways to improve that experience by making it simpler, faster, or more convenient. For example, someone in the billing department may never actually talk to a customer, but they should still be looking for ways to make payments easier. After all, why would we want to stand in the way of a customer paying us?!

TWEET THIS: Every employee should look at themselves as contributing to the customer experience in some way. ~@dgingiss #EmployeeExperience #CX #BrandExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: What's your favorite customer experience story?
DAN GINGISS: Well, I make a living as a customer experience storyteller so it’s hard to pick just one favorite! But I’ll choose one from my new book, The Experience Maker: How to Create Remarkable Experiences that Your Customers Can’t Wait to Share:
If you’re like me and travel a lot for work, that means you also stay in a lot of hotels. There’s a dirty little secret about frequent travelers that most of us don’t want to admit: Sometimes we wake up in the middle of the night with absolutely no idea where we are.

“Am I in my bedroom? No, it’s a hotel, but wait...which hotel is it again? Where is the bathroom? And why is it so dark?”

Even if you don’t travel frequently, waking up at night in a strange place can be quite disorienting.

At one hotel I stayed at (naturally, I can’t remember which one), I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. As soon as my feet hit the floor, a motion-activated light turned on from the bottom of the nightstand. It lit the path to the bathroom! Brilliant.

Now, being the customer experience guy that I am, I got down on my hands and knees and examined the light. It surprised me to find that it was a small stick-on light that probably costs fifty cents at Home Depot. Clearly it was not expensive, but it completely changed the experience of getting up in the middle of the night in a dark hotel. That counts as extraordinary in my book. (Literally.)

My gratitude to Dan for appearing on my Blog and for sharing his inspiring customer experience marketing insights.

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey.