Surprisingly, companies still need to be convinced to focus on their customers before making money. Treating customers badly is no longer an option. In this episode, learn how to earn your customers’ love and admiration, as well as grow your business. Today, I’m talking to Jeanne Bliss, president of CustomerBliss. Jeanne describes how companies focus on sales goals, internal KPIs, and and other metrics, and tend to forget about their customers – who actually drive all of those metrics.
Listen to This Episode:
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- Convince companies to focus on customers – earn your right to grow by keeping more customers than you lose
- Customer Map: Identify your new customers
- Figure out and understand why customers leave
- Identify why a customer turned away – dig into data about orders and renewals
- Business tends to be about getting something from customers; grow by delivering value to them vs. getting something from them
- Framework for earning customers’ love and attention
- Step 1: Build customers’ assets (did you earn the right to grow – ask your customers?)
- Step 2: Recreate company’s work (what are a customer’s goals and journey?)
- Heart and Habit: What’s in your heart is your values and the habits you are being forced to use at work
- Step 3: Pick a couple things to focus on and build from the customer’s life and goal; redesign the customer’s experience to build on that goal
- Co-creation: Company and customers meet and work together
- Train managers to not contradict customers or defend, deny, or explain away actions
- Step 4: Map current experience from customer’s view; start with customers’ emotions and needs
- Step 5: Redesign experience and ask customers to provide feedback
- Convince customers to spend time with a company; tell them the company’s leaders want to listen to them
- Keep up with technology, customer, and other changes; one thing that does not change – are you reliable?
- Customers prefer companies that do not fear honest feedback from them
- Jeanne watched how well her dad treated customers as a shoe store owner; she was inspired by him
- Marketers have a bad reputation; it’s not marketers as people, but marketing as a way to get something from a customer vs. what you want to deliver and earn
- One bad practice marketers do that should not be done is selling too soon; let customers absorb information about your product and brand before pushing them to buy something
- Marketers need to learn about the blending and engagement of marketing and customer experience so that they become united, not isolated
- Pre-Order Jeanne’s New Book on Amazon!
- Jeanne Bliss on Twitter
- The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show
- Chief Customer Officer; Chief Customer Officer 2.0; I Love You More Than My Dog; Would You Do That to Your Mother?
- Customer Experience Professionals Association
- David Darmanin: Avoid Marketing Best Practices at All Costs
- Intercom CEO on Twitter
Louis: Bonjour! Bonjour! Welcome to another episode of everyonehatesmarketers.com, the marketing podcast for marketers, founders, and tech people who are just sick of shady, aggressive marketing. I’m your host Louis Grenier.
It’s quite funny that when I talk to listeners, a lot of them don’t know we have a website, and we do. It’s everyonehatesmarketers.com. You can get all of the information about every episode, all the resources we are mentioning during each episodes, you just have to go to everyonehatesmarketers.com and you’ll have this information for free.
There is something that blows my mind, I have to say, is that in this day and age, we still have to convince companies to focus on their customers first before making money. Some companies treat their customer in such a bad way and they really wouldn’t do that to their own mothers. That’s kind of a hint for what’s coming in this episode.
Today, in this episode, you’re going to learn how to earn you customer’s love and admiration and grow your business. My guest today pioneered the role of the Chief Customer Officer more than 20 years ago which is amazing to see because now everybody’s talking about it. But 20 years ago, I assume that it wasn’t the case. She did amazing things for a lot of companies she worked for and she’s now the president of CustomerBliss and have many, many clients like Johnson & Johnson, the US Postal System, the AAA, and Brooks Brothers.
Join me in welcoming Jeanne Bliss to this podcast. Jeanne, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for joining in.
Jeanne: Oh, you’re welcome. It’s a pleasure to be with you.
Louis: Right. Let’s dig in straight away into the meats of this episode. Why do you think we still have to tell companies to focus on their customers first?
Jeanne: You know what’s interesting? I just got done recording a podcast myself with someone who leads customer experience in a big corporation. It’s because the things we talk about are internal metrics. We care about our sales goals, we care about our internal KPIs, we care about our marketplace position, our cap, our EBITA, and we forget to think about the fact that customers are the ones who drive all of these things. I think a lot of it is the metrics that leaders use to talk about the business that leaves the customer out of the mix.
Louis: How do you convince those companies? I assume that your clients are companies that understand the benefits of focusing on the customers instead of trying to make money first. But how do you convince when you come across people who don’t agree with this philosophy? How do you convince them that this is a right way?
Jeanne: It’s a good question. One of the big things is I always say you have to ring the bell of the money guys and connect the dots between customer experience and business growth. This isn’t kumbaya, we are the world, let’s go hug a customer, this isn’t the customer service department where you’re spending money to solve problems. This is about earning the right to grow by keeping more customers than you lose. What we do with almost every organization that suddenly creates a highlight is we do something simple called customer math.
Customer Math is simply getting your CEO, your CFO, your CIO, and whoever gathers the customer data together and creating a one company version of knowing what are your new customer’s volume and value–in whole numbers, I don’t wanna use retention rates or churn because we need to think about humans. You brought in 67,000 new customers, here’s their potential lifetime value or the value that they bring when they come to the party. But in that same quarter, month, or year, we lost 47,000 which list much greater value. Everybody’s ringing the bell around new customers but they’re not doing the math and subtracting loss.
When you subtract loss from new, oh, my gosh–I’m Italian so you may know this word, it’s [ojuda 00:04:59]–you wanna make people sick in the belly that you’ve lost more customers than you gained and all those marketing dollars were just about filling that leaky bucket. When we do that, suddenly all people care, why, why, why? We need to get leaders who care about the why.
Louis: The “why” customer is leaving.
Jeanne: Why were they leaving, and use simple math. You cannot refute that if you brought in 50 and you lost 27, or you lost 45, or you lost 67, that your marketing dollars can bring them in but your experience is gotta keep them. Companies are just spending good money after bad instead of keeping the ones they’ve got.
Louis: Pardon me, this is a simple question, in a business where you only sell subscription, where you’re not really able to know how many people have canceled the subscription, let’s say just sending t-shirt or whatever it is. How do you know if a customer has churned?
Jeanne: There’s a couple of things–again, the wonderful cultural thing that occurs, change that occurs is digging into the data. I was just talking to a company that sells vitamins. They can look in their customer database and look at orders and renewals. We look at a couple of things, one is did they stay or go, did they increase or did they downgrade their buying patterns, or are they lapsed.
What you wanna do is tell the story of customer’s lives and that’s gotta start with did we earn the right to grow and what are the customer behaviors that indicate an engagement or a reduction in their interaction with us?
In this day and age, everybody’s got the operational data but it’s doing the work of uniting all the operational data, giving agreement on what is new and what is lost, and letting people not spend all their time refuting the methodology because you give them a seat at the table of building it, and instead of saying, “Oh, my gosh, you’re right. We’ve lost more customers that we gained. We’ve spent all these money marketing but we gotta respend it because we haven’t kept our most valuable customers.” It changes things.
Louis: This is an interesting point of view, something that I haven’t really come across before. I talked to a few evangelist of customer experience as a whole but it’s the first time I’m hearing such a practical answer to the thing that, “Okay, you should care about your customer because you might be losing way more than you think. You need to understand why because you’re losing money in the meantime.”
Jeanne: That’s right.
Louis: That’s quite practical already. We’re gonna dive into even more practical things. I suspect what you just said might be repeated in the step-by-step methodology that we’re gonna dive into right now. But that’s already quite practical. Let’s take a step back.
Louis: Let’s say that we are working with a company and that I am the startup founder, a company founder, or marketer within this company, I care about this company, I’m involved in it somehow. I know that earning the customer’s love and attention, that making them love the company and giving them a great experience, I know that this is the right way forward but I don’t really know where to start. It might be a tricky thing for you because depending on the size of the business or the type of business is that we take as an example, it might change, but let’s try to take an approach that might work with a lot of different type of businesses. Step-by-step, how would you advise to start improving the experience or at least putting the customer the center of everything?
Jeanne: Sure. This is what I do for a living. A lot of what I’m gonna walk you through is in my third book called CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER 2.0 which is really what you mentioned a framework or methodologies. It’s practical stuff. This isn’t rocket science but it takes diligence.
Number one, build your version of what I call Customers as Assets. From the beginning, get your leadership team, it’s simple. Did we bring in more customers than we lost? What are one or two, maybe three other behavioral shifts? Create a fearless conversation where leaders are willing to share that with the company as a result of the experience we all delivered–this isn’t a sales number–did we earn the right to grow?
The second thing is we create what you consider to be the work of the company by the customer’s goals or missions. A lot of people call it the stages of the experience, that’s fine, I don’t care what you call it. But we think by stage of your journey or by interaction with your customer, what are their goals? What are they trying to accomplish? Then go by stage of that journey and evaluate how reliable are you from a one company standpoint. Are you always delivering the information? Are you always clear to them? Are you 100% reliable or are you delivering and it depends experience.
If you can start thinking instead of the silo we poured out, I know this happens even in smaller companies, we get so involved in our silo work, but instead say what is the onboarding experience? What is our new customer experience? What is the downloading a product experience? This shifts immediately the culture. I’ll take a breath so that you can ask me questions.
Louis: Yes, just take a breath. That’s an interesting overview. Now I can listen to my listeners in my ears telling me, “Okay, ask her about details now.”
Louis: How do you go about it in practical terms? Because this sounds like a big deal. Customer journey as an experience could span many different channels, many different departments and teams inside the company, how do you actually go about it?
Jeanne: Okay. Here’s what it is, it’s butcher paper, and it’s bringing in some customers, and again, what happens to a point is when we talk about customer journeys, people go way the pendulum swings, way to the far end which is, we’re gonna map every process, and everything. I’m talking about just start by naming the stages of the journey. If you just start by naming the stages, and you can bring customers, and talk to your frontline, and get your leaders to start thinking about accountability by stage of the journey versus by silo, that changes everything.
By the way, name those stages by what your customer’s trying to accomplish. The first stage of the journey in a lot of sales or marketing-driven companies is sell the product, or download a demo, well in fact, the customers is, “make me smarter, give me no-strings-attached information to make me smart without selling me.” That’s the glue. What’s your magnetic pull in that first stage that will make customer smarter?
Louis: You mentioned two ways at least of getting this information. Number one is to get customers literally in your office and talk to them.
Jeanne: Get them in your office and ask them simple questions. What are you trying to accomplish first when you’re thinking about what we do? What do you need to accomplish next? What’s the most important to you then? Because as they talk, you’re gonna be able to step outside your silo and instead rethink your operation from delivering value to them versus getting something from them. Do you see the difference?
A lot of times, our business is about getting something from customers; we will grow by delivering value to them versus getting something from them.
Louis: Amen to that. I completely get it. Trust me. I’m evangelizing that anytime I can. Everytime I interview smart people like you, they all say the same thing in their own words. At some point they’ll say, “Talk to your customers.” I’m not crazy. When I listen to people like you who have a wealth of experience and knowledge and smarter than me, I know that I’m in the right track. This is very interesting to hear.
I’m talking to listeners right now, you’ve heard that before, many times, you can see that the theme keeps coming back to the same thing; talk to your customers and you will get the first insights that you need. The second point that you made which is quite interesting is you said talk to your first frontline. What do you mean by frontline?
Jeanne: It can be the frontline and the middle too. My thing about listening is create a discipline around how you listen and ask because what you wanna do initially is really figure out the stages of the journey, ask them from the stages, not just how is it going, you need to have a framework.
Then for your employees, I also then will say by stage of the journey, what’s getting in your way of delivering value here. For example, if you’re a company with account reps that need to go out and call on customers and you say you’re customer driven but you send them on 40 visits a week and they only have time to really do a drive-through without really adding value. Your frontline will say, “Look, you’re not giving me the time. You’re not educating me. You’re pinning in all these rules, I constantly have to do workarounds, I have frustrated customers.” By stage of the journey, ask your employees what’s getting in their way of delivering value.
Louis: Yep. Amen to that as well. That’s a nice way to think about it. It’s not only about the customers. I will tend to say, your own place, your team members, the people who are part of your business are also your customers in a sense. You need to take care of them as much as you need to take care of your own customers because the way you treat them will have an impact on the way you treat your customers.
Jeanne: Yeah. Here’s what I always say, what’s on the inside shows up on the outside.
Jeanne: You gotta take care of people. If they feel like they’re pending and aren’t able to act with what I call congruence of heart and habit, they’re not gonna stick around with you for a lot longer.
Louis: You call it congruence of?
Jeanne: Heart and habit.
Louis: God, you’re using words I don’t even understand. It’s beautiful.
Jeanne: What that means is what’s in your heart, or your values, what you are taught at home, and they have it set your being enforced to use that work.
Louis: Thanks for making it simpler for me.
Jeanne: Sorry about that.
Louis: No, you’re fine. I’m just playing dumb as well. I think it’s good to define some terms that might not be that obvious for people to understand.
Louis: Alright. At this stage, we have talked to customers, we have talked to our first frontline, and we have at least a rough understanding of the stages that people go through throughout the journey.
Louis: What do we do next?
Jeanne: The next thing is pick a couple of things, don’t boil the ocean. What happens with this work is, especially as customer experience as a buzzword and everybody in their brother is jumping on the bandwagon. I guarantee you that if you’ve got 25, 200, or whatever intersection points or touch points across your journey, there’s probably 10-15 that are most important. Figure out what those are. Again, you can do that with your customers and employees and then pick one or two. Not 15, not even 7, pick 1 or 2 and build it from the customer’s life outward.
Start with the customer’s life and their goal and redesign the experience to deliver on that goal. That’s where you build competencies where rethinking how you do the work at the company. This is the hard part. Customer experience, everybody’s like, “What’s this program or voice of the customer?” It’s really about redesigning the work of the operations of the business so that you’re delivering against those customer values, against those customer needs.
Louis: Based on the interviews, based on you talking to customers and talking to your frontline and listening to stages, how do you identify those very important intersection points or touch points then? Do you have a process for that?
Jeanne: I have a process and we use magnetic boards. What’s interesting is that the more high-tech things become the more low-tech things also are touching a nerve. We bring 10-15 customers in, we bring leaders in as well, we video it, and by stage of the journey, we’ve got some of the initial touch points on a board as magnetic strips because we talk to employees and they’ve given us some of them.
Then, by stage of the journey in about two hours, we go by stage with the customer and say, “What are you trying to accomplish here? What do you need? What’s working? What’s not?” As customers are talking, they’re not gonna say, “Here’s a touch point.” But they’re gonna say what’s important to them, and then in real time we have people at the back of the room writing these new touch points on magnetic strips. It’s very cool because it’s co-creation.
Then we give the customers 15 magnetic dots at the end of this thing. We take two hours, let’s say you’ve got five stages of your journey. In 2 hours, you go through all the stages, your customers are engaged, they’re talking with each other, you’re facilitating it, you give them these 15 magnetic dots and you say, okay, tell us where to focus.
You need to do three, four, or five of these depending on how much you need validation. But after the second or third one, your customers are gonna start putting dots on the same touch points. You don’t have to go crazy, don’t boil the ocean, these are probably things that you’ve known already that you’re gonna get validation from but you’re gonna get a lot more granularity than what you would get from just sending out a survey.
Louis: Right. You go really full blown into this. When you say talk to your customers, you really talk to them, which is interesting because most of the time when we talk about customer understanding customer research, customer development in this podcast, we talk about Skype interviews or video calls. But you’re already talking about meeting them face-to-face, putting them to the same place then your leaders and you make them work almost as hard as the employees of your business.
Jeanne: That’s right. We make the lead we make, we engage the leaders in part of the conversation. We coach the leaders beforehand, we coach the leaders to ask customers clarifying questions about what they meant. Beforehand, we tell the leaders you can’t defend, deny, or explain away what the customer is saying because to the customer that’s a very real experience or perception they’re having. I’m here to tell you that in 15 presentations of data the leader has, there’s nothing like them sitting eyeball-to-eyeball with customers having these conversations, it changes things.
Louis: Yeah. It does. You are mentioning something very interesting but I think it’s actually step two. Step one is the mapping of the first, the stages according to what you think all the stages but you mentioned something quirky that is very interesting is the fact that you need to train people to do a few things. Can you repeat what you said? You need to train them not to contradict the customers, is that it?
Jeanne: With leaders, as they’re talking to customers and any of us, we’re human beings. Sometimes in these sessions, customers will bring up things as problems that the company might already be doing but that means that we haven’t communicated it well enough to the customer to know that it exists. We coach team leaders, you can’t defend and say, “Here’s what we’re doing at…” Deny or explain a way why you’re doing this stuff, you have to just say, “Tell us what’s happening for you. Help us know what you’re feeling. Do you mean this?” Because this also evolves and help us understand is we may believe we’re doing all of this good stuff but we made it so complicated to get to or we haven’t even explained it.
I’ve got a great example, we had a company that had a lot of robust information on their website. The guy who ran marketing was so proud of the amount of time customers were on that website and how many documents they had downloaded. He was using those metrics as success metrics. When we talk to the customers they said, “We’re on your website so long because it’s so complicated in the way it’s organized. We download so many documents because we can’t get the answer in just one, we have to download five documents to get try to piece the answers together.”
Louis: That’s a great example. I guess this is something that is really mind-blowing for a lot of people listening because you really wouldn’t consider putting customers and leaders in the same room. But you have to do it. I guess this is one of the best way to convince leaders to listen and to change things if they were not ready willing to do that in the past.
Louis: I love this way of thinking. We are at step three right now where you have customers really helped you to identify the key touch points. I guess the step four would really be identify one or two.
Jeanne: Yeah, focus, focus, focus. Don’t boil the ocean, don’t boil the ocean.
Louis: Great. Let’s say we have one for the sake of simplicity.
Louis: We have this one big touch point that we know that if we change it, the experience of people we really improve and therefore sales should improve and order as should follow. What do you do next?
Jeanne: The thing here then is to first of all map the current experience typically and don’t map it from an internal process standpoint because you can’t have everybody and says, “You do this, and you do that, and you do that.” Map it from the customer’s standpoint. It turns into a spaghetti bowl.
Let’s say it’s onboarding a new customer, what happens first? Who connects to them, what if they can’t reach somebody? What if their information doesn’t download? You’ve gotta map the real life experience the customer’s having today and baseline it. Then get everybody to agree. Then what you wanna do is start with customer’s emotions and needs and redesign the experience to meet those emotions and needs. Through the process, we bring customers back in. Is this what you meant? Is this the right metric? Is this the right internal KPI? You can’t do this in a vacuum.
Louis: Okay. Let’s break that down because you said a lot of interesting stuff, but I think this has more details. You’re really drilling to the touch points from the person’s point of view and really understand the scenarios that could run, that could happen. As you said, perhaps, the person, the customer service is not available right now, or what if the item is not delivered, so you play kind of a “what if” game of understanding what could happen. Then you said something that I like quite a lot, talking about emotions and feelings, can you repeat this because I think it’s another step?
Jeanne: Of course. Yes and thank you. In fact, one of the things that we do–I bring leaders together before we do this process to prepare them and level set them on the stages–by stage of the journey and across the journey we talk about the emotions customers are having. The work is to flip it from what sometimes are negative, fearful, or worrisome emotions and we find this in B2B and in B2C to one of the positive outcomes or emotions that we want customers to experience and be able to describe.
Then the other thing is by stage of the journey, what do we want customers, in their own words, be able to say that they accomplished, and we actually go through a quote exercise where we write the quotes we want to earn from customers by stage of the journey of what they were able to accomplish because we were in their life.
Louis: For every major touchpoints, you kind of make them say in their own words what you wanna accomplish once you’ve…
Jeanne: We do that initially just for the stages of the journey and then as you go deeper into the touchpoints you can do that same exercise.
Louis: Okay, we have the touch points, we have the emotions as we want people to feel, or at least the emotions we want them to stop feeling in a sense, because if they feel stressed or anxious, this is not an emotion that you typically won’t in a business I assume. Then you said you basically bring them back which is quite good. You bring them once, you do the exercise, then you work in the business, and then you make them come back. Do you bring the same customers?
Jeanne: No, it depends on what you’re working on typically, sometimes we will, and if we don’t bring them back, you have to make sure you keep communicating with those customers so they feel like they’ve spent the day and their time for some good. We might bring other customers in as well as we’re working on the process or the experience. You’re gonna be informed who you bring in based on what you’re working on.
Louis: Right, before I challenge you on the next steps and try to ask more details into them, I can also hear listeners thinking, “Okay, that’s all well and good but how do you convince customers to spend that much time with me? Why should they care?”
Jeanne: Here’s what’s interesting. We’ve done this all over the world, big and small companies, every kind of organization. When you invite your customers to come to a session and you tell them that the CEO of a company and the leadership team is gonna be there and they wanna listen to them, wow. We’ve had the biggest oil companies in the world, we’ve had the biggest retailers, the biggest SaaS companies, and we do this in B2B and B2C, you bring your partners in. They all say, “I have never had a company be this honest and transparent and fearless in having this conversation.” If you start that way, and it is genuine, they’ll wanna keep having a seat at the table.
Louis: In practical terms, you actually pay them to come to the office for example?
Jeanne: Good question. Most of my clients will give some kind of a gift to thank you, it depends also on the rules around the vertical industry. For example healthcare, you can’t pay a customer, there’s rules around that.
Louis: Okay. Let’s go back to the step. I think we’re nearly done to have a solid framework that people can use. You say you bring people back, tell me again what do you check with them?
Jeanne: You check are we delivering the experience? Sometimes we’ll create prototypes of them, this is all about design. We also check with them the internal metrics operationally that we’re now going to put into place for the organization they have to live by so that in addition to did the customer stay or go, we have another set of indicators of are we delivering here, are we hitting the mark here. We bring our employees back in, our leaders, and the people who were part of it to listen to this feedback. It’s really checks and balances as we’re building these new experiences.
Louis: Right. I assume, once you have that, you have the prototypes and starts to work then you implement them in the business, I think that sounds like the next step. But as you know, the world is changing quite fast, the markets are changing very fast, new products arrive everyday, new companies arrive everyday, customer change, technology change, how do you manage to keep up with this change then?
Jeanne: That’s one of the most important questions. There’s a couple of things about experiences that won’t change, are you reliable in the basic interactions you have with your customers? I want to encourage people to start with those things. Are you reliable in how you deliver, how you inform if you don’t deliver, the information, the way that you explain, the reliability of your platform, all of those things are usually a lot of the early projects. And that’s how you build your competency for doing the work.
Then after that, what you are able to start doing is embedding the ability to do this work inside of the rest of the organization. That’s probably a while down the road but the reliability parts of running the engine of a business, regardless of how fast it’s moving aren’t really critical to get right initially.
Louis: You said a word that is very interesting, you said the word fearless, just to thank you first of all for finishing this step-by-step, I wasn’t expecting you to get into that many details, which is good. You know what, I’m gonna be transparent and honest with you right now, I always fear when I interview people, smart people like you, I always fear that at the end of a number of interviews on this podcast that we’re gonna repeat the same thing over and over again and the people will get bored. Every single time, without fail, I learn something new. Every single time, there’s something, at least something. To be honest, in this interview so far, I’ve learned more than one thing that I’ve never heard before. This is important. This is what keeps me going as well is that I keep learning new things and I hope that listeners keep learning new things as well. Thank you for doing this exercise because I know it’s not easy.
Going back to fearless, the adjective fearless, you said customer like the fact that, they say I’ve never seen a company that is that fearless. Then, what are companies afraid of in general?
Jeanne: Fearless, the word fearless in that context was to invite customers in and tell us, and again, we organize it by stage of the journey so it’s not just willy nilly, but be open to honest and open feedback and communication from customers not with the constraints of survey questions, but eyeball-to-eyeball conversation with the leaders of the company. That’s what they love.
Louis: Okay, makes sense.
Louis: I don’t know you very well, obviously, we have just started talking a few minutes ago, but I can feel a huge drive, and you have a really strong personality and you’re not afraid to say things as they are which I very much like. If you have to pick a story of something related to you personally that made you who you are today, what would it be?
Jeanne: Probably growing up, I was one of seven kids, my dad–you may not know this brand–but he had a Buster Brown Shoe Store which was a children shoe store, all seven of us kids watched my dad how he treated customers. He took care of the very first pair of shoes that young moms would put on their feet. It was not about the shoes, it was about the life and this mother and the importance of her putting shoes on her first child, her child’s first pair of shoes. He became a part of the story of people’s lives. He shoed a generation of children and their children’s children. When he retired, a line of people–four blocks long–stood to say goodbye to him. That’s the gift of my life and why I do this work and I learned that watching my dad.
Louis: Wow, thanks so much for your transparency in this. This is why I typically ask this question because usually that leads to this type of answer. I’m curious to hear, apart from you who got inspired by your dad’s work, are your other siblings, have they been inspired by your dad in other fashion?
Jeanne: Yeah. The way we were raised–it’s actually the reason I’m writing my last book–gave us our value system. All of my siblings, there’s a lot of us, it’s kind of a lens through which we live our lives, it stays with you.
Louis: Makes sense. It reminds of an interview I’ve done with the CEO of HotJar, David Darmanin months ago. He mentioned something quite similar, the story actually he mentioned was his granddad, that inspired him, and funny enough I think he was also involved in making shoes somehow.
Louis: It’s funny. That’s two stories that sounds very similar to me, at least from my perspective.
Jeanne: Oh yeah.
Louis: This podcast is for marketers, it’s a marketing podcast, but it’s not only for marketers. But I’m curious as you might have guests from the interview so far and the conversation, rather so far, we are not afraid to say things as they are, we’re not afraid to fight against the bullshit in marketing. I’m curious to hear your perspective because you’re not a marketer per se even though you probably do a lot of marketing. Why do you think marketers have such bad reputation nowadays?
Jeanne: I don’t think it’s marketers as people. Let’s just put that to the side. Sometimes, marketing, as I mentioned earlier, become about what you wanna get from customers versus what you wanna deliver and earn. For example, the word loyalty has taken on an interesting connotation because it’s about upselling and cross-selling. We spend all our time pitching versus earning. I think that it’s not the people, it’s just some of the practices that have emerged out of the discipline in marketing.
Louis: Yeah. I appreciate you saying that. We are not against the people in particular, even if the title of the show might imply that it’s against every marketer, it’s more about the bad practices that are out there. If you have to pinpoint one bad practice, one thing in particular that marketers tend to do that shouldn’t be done, what would it be?
Jeanne: I think we sell too soon. This happens as we talk to customers over and over again, the first stage of a journey for example should be about no-strings-attached education and information. Instead, let’s say I’m on a website and I download a document that I wanna read, the first thing I get is a prospecting email. What do you want? What do you need? Can I call you? When can I call you? It’s like holy moly, please let me absorb this, find out if it’s valuable and give me good content, be valuable to me so that I can reach out to you. I think that’s the big thing we hear over and over again from customers.
Louis: I remember seeing this email, this tweet I think from the CEO of Intercom, which is a software to communicate with people at scale in a personal way. I remember seeing his tweet recently which reminds me of what you just said, he took a screenshot of the emails that says people send him asking for a 15 minute chat. You could see the screenshot as they search in his Gmail and the keyword is 15 minute chat, and he can see all of those conversations from people saying, “Hey do you have 15 minutes to talk? Are you free for 15 minute chat?” He’s making the point that nobody has time for a 15 minute chat. It’s never about the chat, it’s about, as you said, if you deliver value first of all, if you really help them out and give them the information they need, they will reach out to you. You don’t have to ask them for a chat if they don’t have time and if they are not ready to buy anything yet.
Jeanne: Yeah, yeah. For example, microcosm of this is LinkedIn. People ask you to link with them and I’m happy to link but then the first thing that happens is I get some kind of prospecting email.
Jeanne: Oh my goodness. You lose your mojo I think if you’re always prospecting. That’s why I’m a broken record, you need to replace selling with earning, you need to earn the right to grow, you need to earn the right to the customer’s advocacy, you need to earn the right to their emotional connection to you.
Louis: Yep. Amen to that. What do you think marketers, and as I said, not necessarily marketers, but marketers, tech people, startup founders, anybody who wants to use marketing in their own job or business, what do you think they should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, even 50 years?
Jeanne: You know what we’re seeing is a blending of marketing and customer experience so that they become united from the standpoint of not isolating the work of communicating with customers, knowing customers to the front of the sales funnel, embed and learn the discipline of engaging with customers in genuine and real ways across the entire journey. That’s why we’re seeing a lot of CMOs also take on this Chief Customer Officer role and expand to customer experience. I think the more that that happens, the more also I think marketers will love the expanded role because it connects to the entirety of the operation and not just the beginning of the funnel.
Louis: With that in mind, what key resources would you recommend people to check out to start this journey?
Jeanne: I’m the Co-Founder of something called the Customer Experience Professionals Association, we’ve created it to help create the discipline of customer experience for anyone who’s interested in making that a part of their career. I’d also shamelessly encourage you to listen to my podcast which is called the Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show where I interview someone leading customer experience, some are CMOs, some are just CCOs around the world, we have about 86 episodes.
Beyond that there’s some great LinkedIn groups that are connecting the CMO councils and the CMO groups I think are also expanding into customer experience. I think the biggest work is around talking to others doing the work as we really learn by standing on the shoulders of the people that came before us.
Louis: Thanks for those resources. I think you forgot the key resources at the people to check out as well. You have written already three books. Can you remind us…
Louis: No. It’s fine. I know you are not salezy but it’s my job as well to put you in the good light because you’ve been really helpful in the last 40 minutes and it’s only fair to mention the books and people should definitely take a look, can you remind us the three book you’ve already written?
Jeanne: Sure, my first book was called CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER, it came out 2006. I led customer experience for five major US corporations so I was a practitioner and my last role was the General Manager of Worldwide Customer Partner Loyalty for Microsoft. Two years after that I wrote the CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER book. It was the first time somebody had written around the customer experience leadership role. I wrote a book called I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY DOG, which is an aspirational book about how to become a beloved company. In 2015, I rewrote the CCO book it’s called CHIEF CUSTOMER OFFICER 2.0. It’s a complete framework, and a lot of the customer journey work we talked about is in there. I have another one coming up in 2018.
Louis: Yes, right. At this stage, if you’re listening to this episode, we are in 2018, and the book…
Jeanne: Oh, wait.
Louis: No, it’s fine. I know it’s not easy. The book is quite good, I kind of like the concept, how is it called?
Jeanne: It’s called Would You Do That To Your Mother?
Louis: Yeah. That answers the question that I started in the introduction saying that companies do the customers badly sometimes and they really wouldn’t do that to their own mother. If you pass the mom test in a sense, if every major touchpoints of your journey, you would treat your mom this way, you wouldn’t mind your mom going through it, then you are probably in a good place, is that right?
Jeanne: It is. It’s also around building a company that’s aligned to the values that we grew up with from our moms. It’s broken into four key chapters that are fun, be the person I raised you to be, don’t make me feed you soap, put others before yourself, and take the high road. It gives a framework like the dog book did of things to be good at and things to think about your mother and as you build your business.
Louis: Jeanne, you’ve been an absolute pleasure to talk to. I’ve learned a lot from you. Where can listeners connect with you and learn more from you?
Jeanne: Sure, thank you for that. My website is customerbliss.com. I’m on Twitter @JeanneBliss. But if you go to customerbliss.com, we’ll be launching the book from there. All kinds of great resources, things that you can download, chapters of my book, and lots of resources there as well.
Louis: Jeanne, once again, thank you very much for your time.
Jeanne: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.