Dan Gingiss
February 11, 2022

What B2B CMOs Need to Know About CX

Guest: Dan Gingiss - CEO, The Experience Maker, LLC

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When Dan Gingiss and his family went out to a nice steakhouse for his son’s 15th birthday, little did he know that he’d walk away with a perfect metaphor for how to deliver an extraordinary customer experience. Remarkable CX is as simple as replacing a birthday candle with a sparkler—the small, seemingly simple changes to the way you celebrate and serve your customers can go a long, long way.

Are you ready to celebrate yourself, or someone you love, by throwing a luxurious, magical, and unforgettable birthday party that’s as unique as you are? Imagine a sophisticated party, designed to your specifications by a good birthday event planner, during which you’ll be able to relax, enjoy and have fun.

This episode comes from a CMO Huddles Bonus Huddle (re: a private Q&A) with Dan, an international keynote speaker affectionately known as The Experience Maker with a wealth of insights and stories about the power of phenomenal CX. Tune in to learn all about how B2B brands can up their CX game, how marketers play a key role in building better customer experiences, and more!

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • The integral role marketing plays in building great customer experience
  • What B2B brands can learn from B2C brands about CX
  • How to build an extraordinary CX strategy into your entire organization

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 279 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned

Time-Stamped Highlights

  • [0:00] Cold Open: Airing the CMO Huddles Bonus Huddle
  • [1:28] Who Should Own CX, and Who Should Be Responsible for It
  • [7:45] Marketing’s Role in CX
  • [11:50] State of the Art B2B Customer Experience: Celebrate WITH the Customer
  • [15:08] The Relationship Between Customer Experience and Customer Success
  • [20:44] How to Build CX into Your Product: Code in Some Personality
  • [25:00] How the WISER Framework Can Build Better Customers Experiences
  • [33:05] Use a Sparkler, Not a Candle: How to Be a Shareable B2B Brand
  • [35:51] How Actions of the Customer Data Can Get You to Extraordinary CX
  • [40:14] How to Produce Helpful AND SEO-Winning Content
  • [43:17] A Simple B2B Brand Promise for Better CX

Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Dan Gingiss

[0:00] Cold Open: Airing the CMO Huddles Bonus Huddle

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! Today’s show comes from a CMO Huddles Bonus Huddle we held a few months ago about driving Customer Experience AKA CX with The Experience Maker himself, Dan Gingiss.

What’s a CMO Huddles Bonus Huddle, you ask? It’s a specially curated huddle we hold once a month, with experts sharing their insights into the topics that are most important to our huddlers.

Let me tell you, this episode was a big winner for our huddlers—Dan brings years of insights and experience into how to build a world-class Customer Experience at your B2B organization—I didn’t say B2C— at your B2B organization, and the very important role that marketing and brand play in creating extraordinary experiences. I really hope you enjoy this episode. We had a ton of fun recording it—now let’s get to it.

[1:28] Who Should Own CX, and Who Should Be Responsible for It

“It's also really important that we empower every single employee in the company to believe truly that they're in the customer experience business.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Welcome to our bonus huddle. I’m thrilled to introduce you to Dan Gingiss, known as “The Experience Maker.” Dan and I met at a social media conference many moons ago when he was the head of social for Humana. Before that he had worked at Discovery for a long time. And I had a chance to hear him speak on—at the time it was social media, but it was leaning heavily into amazing experiences.

So, after Humana, Dan went on to McDonald’s, and since has gone out on his own as a CX consultant, speaker, and author of a new book just happens to be The Experience Maker which I finished yesterday, just in time for this thing. So, hello Dan!

Dan Gingiss: Hey Drew, thanks for having me. I’m excited to have the conversation today.

Drew Neisser: Well, it’s great to see you. One thing, I know you’re not in your hometown of Chicago. You were somewhere talking to some bowling people? What’s the story?

Dan Gingiss: I am. I’m in Reno, actually. First time in Reno for the West Coast version of the Bowling Center Convention. Bowling Center Owners Convention. I did the East Coast version in Atlantic City last week.

Just like every other industry, it’s fascinating when you do a deep dive into a single space, and you see where customer experience plays a role. I had some fun with them actually unpacking the experience of going to a bowling alley and, you know, what are the fun parts? What are the annoying parts? What are the sights and smells and feels and all that? I had a great time and it was a terrific crowd.

Drew Neisser: Believe it or not, I’m actually a big bowling fan. Grew up bowling. And it is one of the reasons—so whenever Dan is posting about speaking about this, bowling, I can’t resist a bowling pun.

Dan Gingiss: A good bowling pun, yes.

Drew Neisser: I just can’t. And part of it is, I have to say in his book, there’s this framework called which is “WISER,” rhymes with Neisser, “WISER,” and the first letter is W for Witty. And so, while puns aren’t necessarily witty, it’s the best I can do.

Let’s start with the poll. The question is, “Which leader owns the customer experience at your company?” Dan is dying to know what the answer to this is. I’m dying. Let’s see what the results are.

Dan Gingiss: Wow, it’s pretty spread out.

Drew Neisser: Oh yeah, really spread out. Wow. And how does that compare to your research, Dan?

Dan Gingiss: This is fascinating that it’s spread out and it actually highlights one of the main issues with customer experience right now. Frankly, nobody knows where it should go.

I think that my viewpoint on it is that you do you have to have a centralized organization, which is generally going to be either a Chief Customer Officer or Chief Experience Officer. The reason for that is that you’ve got to have that 30,000-foot view that looks at the entire customer journey from beginning to end.

Most people, especially as our companies get bigger, and they’re more siloed, most people in your organization are responsible for only one part of the journey. And so, if no one’s looking at the whole journey, you get a lot of choppy transitions.

That being said, it’s also really important that we empower every single employee in the company to believe truly that they’re in the customer experience business. And it’s not just your frontline employees. There are people in finance and legal and other places that may not think they’re in customer experience, but what they do has a direct impact on the experience. That cultural movement toward empowering people and, frankly, educating them that they are in the customer experience business is equally important.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. I listened to a podcast that you did with someone who talked about that. But you also raised the problematic nature of saying, “Well, everybody owns customer experience.” And of course, the opposite of that means that no one owns it.

So, we’re clear that somebody at least needs to own it and plan it and set what the North Star is and how to measure it, right?

Dan Gingiss: Yes, it’s like the old RACI model with a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed, right? You need one person who’s accountable or one group that’s accountable, and that’s your Chief Experience Officer, Chief Customer Officer, your CX team.

But I do believe that you can have virtually everyone in your employee be R or Responsible, and responsible for the customer experience in their area. And that means understanding the decisions that we make that feel like they’re behind the scenes have a big impact on customers.

Think about a finance person, for example. That finance person is probably responsible in some way for billing or invoicing. Now we know that’s not the most fun experience, when we get the bill, right? But what if? What if we could have an enjoyable experience receiving a bill?

I’ve got a fun example now that I use in my keynotes of a woman who runs a design agency who made her invoices actually fun to read. Wow, who would have thought?

When I worked at Discover, one of the challenges we had was that not every merchant accepted Discover Card. Now that’s basically not a problem anymore, but when you think about it, the payment options that you offer your customers, which are probably decided by a finance person, have an impact on their experience with you.

If they want to pay via Discover Card or cryptocurrency or whatever and you don’t accept that, that’s affecting the experience. That’s the part where, you’re right, it can’t be everyone’s jobs because then it’s no one’s job. But it can be everyone’s responsibility to at least think through business problems through a customer lens.

Drew Neisser: So, here’s a great question that just showed up in chat which says, “How do you give a CCO or CXO power when the role is so cross functional?” It must come up for you.

Dan Gingiss: It’s a great question. And that’s exactly why I say you have to do both. You have to have this centralized area and empower everybody. Otherwise, the experience team is like the auditing team, right?

No one wants them to come visit because they’re gonna tell us we’re doing something wrong. And we don’t want that.

We want people to feel like the experience team is an extension of their own team. Because if I run the finance department and I feel empowered to do the best that I can to make business decisions based on the customer and to keep the customer in mind when I’m rolling out changes, etc., then the customer experience team is just there to help me do that.

We’re paddling in the same direction; we have exactly the same goals. But you’re absolutely right. If you don’t have that piece, that empowerment piece, then yeah, the CX team, we don’t want them looking like the auditors, otherwise, everybody’s afraid of them.

Drew Neisser: Right. It’s sort of like the old days of the brand police, but they’re the experience police, so they’ve got to have a little bit more.

[7:45] Marketing’s Role in CX

“Marketing is almost always the first part of the experience.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: I want to step back for a second, because I want to make sure that 23% of the folks that responded said that the CMO was responsible, so those folks definitely understand why we’re having a bonus huddle on this sort of connection between customer experience and CMOs in B2B land. So, for those that don’t have to report to them—and it may be an obvious answer for everyone else—but speak to that. Why is this so important and where does customer experience fit in the B2B CMO world, if you will?

Dan Gingiss: Well, first of all, I want to tell you, I am the host of a podcast called “Experience This” and we have these different segments that we do and one of the segments that I do with my co-host is called “Agree to Disagree.”

We take an issue and we battle it out. We just recorded one where the question was: “Should customer experience report to marketing?”

I won’t tell you what side either one of us took but it was a very fun discussion. With marketing, I think one of the keys—and by the way, you guys should know, as Drew is explaining my background: 20 years in corporate America almost all in marketing. I have a marketer’s brain, I have a marketer’s heart, I graduated from college with a degree in psychology and communications and learned later that that basically is marketing. I just didn’t know it at the time. It’s psychology plus communications.

So, I always come at customer experience from a marketing perspective. I believe that marketers, first of all, they have a key role in the sense that marketing is almost always the first part of the experience.

I like to call it the experience before the experience. Because how do we ever find out about the existence of a brand, especially a B2B brand? We find out because we see some sort of marketing. We see a social media ad or we get an email or we get something in snail mail.

Whatever it is, the experience has already begun even though we’re not customers because we’re already forming our opinion of this company. Are they a fun company to work with? Are they trustworthy? Do they have products and services that are valuable, etc.?

Somebody was mentioning in the chat about a BDR calling when the sale was already made. That doesn’t give you a whole lot of confidence about a company. True story, when I was at Discover, we once got pitched by a B2B company and they walked in the door, they put on the first screen on their PowerPoint, and they had spelled Discover wrong on the cover.

That’s it, guys. That’s, you know, you failed already. In Jerry Maguire, you had me at hello? This is the opposite; you lost me at hello. So, I do think marketing plays a super important role there.

The second thing is I believe that marketing’s role is actually evolved into the promisers of the experience. If you think about what we’re saying and what we’re communicating in most marketing, we’re telling people what it’s going to be like to do business with us. We’re telling people, if you think of a consumer lens, how they’re going to feel when they drive our car or when they drink our diet soda or whatever it is. This is promising the experience.

I do think B2B marketers can take a page out of B2C in this sense because B2B tends to be so functional and benefit-driven versus like, what’s the impact of our product? What are you going to be able to do? How are you going to feel? What are you going to be able to accomplish when you use our product?

I’ve sat with a bunch of sales teams in the B2B space and one of the activities that I run them through is trying to explain their B2B product in 8 to 10 words. I’ll tell you, that’ll kill a salesperson. I always start by saying, “Well, give me the pitch, because I’ve been the recipient of hundreds of pitches. Give me your pitch.”

And then 10 minutes later, after they’ve stopped talking, I tell them, “Dude, I’m really sorry, but I kind of fell asleep about two minutes into that and you kept going for eight minutes.”

So how do we take this message into a promise that is 8 to 10 words? When you do that, all the sudden, the recipient is like, “Oh, okay, so you’re here to solve this big problem that I have? I’ve got some questions, I’d like to engage you in some conversation and find out more,” versus the typical sales pitch, which is “We’re going to solve every problem you’ve ever had, including world hunger and cancer.” And then people are like, you know, mind exploding.

[11:50] State of the Art B2B Customer Experience: Celebrate WITH the Customer

“Put that arm around the customer and say, ‘Customer, welcome to the family! You just made the best decision of your career, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure that you are unbelievably successful using us.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: I’m hearing a lot of different things in that and the first thing I’m hearing is marketing needs to do a better job communicating to sales so that they can simplify their story and set the table if you will, for a more meaningful conversation with a prospect. I get that.

I’m sort of wondering from a B2B standpoint, you know, it’s so easy—and in your book, I mean, let’s face it. CX sort of rises to the surface because we see it and feel it all the time in B2C. It’s just easy, right? You just see it. “I got a coffee cup and it’s a cool coffee cup. Cool. Done.”

B2B is harder, right? We’re talking about all these touches over a long period of time. I’m wondering what state of the art for B2B customer experience is right now?

Dan Gingiss: That’s a great question. And I’m going to I like to teach by example, so I want to give you an example here that I think is—it’s a generic example, but I think it applies to so many B2Bs.

When you make a new sale in the B2B organization, usually what happens is there some celebration that happens. Some people have Slack channels where they celebrate. Some people have a bell that they ring. Some people when we’re in the office, we go out for drinks, whatever it is.

The problem is, is that we’re not inviting the guest of honor to the celebration, the guest of honor being the client that just signed the contract.

Now, let’s put ourselves into that person’s shoes. Just like any purchase that we make as consumers, when we make a big purchase and we sign on the dotted line, there is some very natural fear about whether we’re making the right decision or not. It’s a fear of buyer’s remorse.

Except it might even be bigger than a fear of buyer’s remorse when we buy a new car because our job might be at stake, right? “I just went through this whole RFP. I looked at six different companies. It was my responsibility to choose Company X. Man, I hope this works out okay, otherwise I’m gonna get fired.”

So, you’ve got a new client who’s sitting here nervous whether they made the right decision, and you’ve got salespeople that are partying because they just signed a new contract but they haven’t invited the customer.

What I’d like to see B2Bs do is whether it’s virtual or in person, I want you to put that arm around the customer and say, “Customer, welcome! Welcome to the family. You just made the best decision of your career, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that you are unbelievably successful using our product or service.”

Now that customer is like, “Phewf, I just made a great decision to do business with these people.”

And the thing is is that what I just said isn’t hard, it isn’t expensive, it isn’t even that outlandish of an idea. And yet, so often in B2B, it’s just not how we’re operating. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Usually what happens is, after that party’s over with the sales team, what do they do? They kick the new customer over to a different group, to a customer success group or to an account management team.

So, I just bought from Drew because, like anything, I buy from somebody that I know and that I like, so I buy from Drew and Drew says, “Thanks very much, I’m out. I’ve gotta go make another sale.”

So, we don’t treat our customers in the way that gets them really engaged into our product or service and our brand, and I do think B2C companies do that better. B2B can learn from B2C, but the important thing is to understand that you’re not excused from customer experience just because you work in a B2B space.

[15:08] The Relationship Between Customer Experience and Customer Success

“We've got to make sure that people understand our product and that we set them up for success.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: I’m getting all of that and I’m feeling really good about these little things. That’s something that we do as part of the experience for CMO Huddles.

Dan Gingiss: Excellent!

Drew Neisser: Right? I feel really good about that. But one of the things that’s interesting is, I think there’s some confusion, or the notion in the difference between, say, customer success, customer experience, and often—and I think I saw this in your book, or I heard it on one of your podcasts—this notion that customer success is really upsell and cross sell. It’s a sales job.

Dan Gingiss: Yep. I’m saying that from experience because my last job before I went off on my own was in customer success, and I was entirely, entirely judged, scored, and rated based on whether I could get the customer to spend more money next year than they spent this year.

The problem with that is, again, if we put ourselves in the customer shoes, they don’t want to spend more money, they want to spend less money! So why would we incent our people to go exactly against what our customer wants?

Instead, if customer success was really what it sounds like it should be, they should be incented on whether the customer is having success with our product or service? Is our product or service delivering and hopefully over delivering on the promise that we as marketing or sales made to them?

So often, that product is not living up to what we promised and we’re still trying to upsell them. That’s just not a good combination.

So yeah, I think customer success—I put customer success up among those, the list of fantastic descriptor words that people came up with… And I do not mean this as a political statement whatsoever, but I think the person that came up with the term pro-life was absolutely a genius because if you’re not pro-life, you have to be either anti-life or pro death, right?

Same thing with customer success. That really sounds good. It sounds like that team is there to make me successful. But if the team’s really just there to make me spend more, then that doesn’t align with the goals of the customer.

Drew Neisser: I think it’s interesting because I think customer success does report up into marketing probably more often than customer service. And sometimes it reports into marketing, sometimes it reports into sales.

What you’re basically saying is customer success through the lens of incentivize people to help make sure the customer is using the product to its fullest and getting them to buy some more is not the same as what we’re talking about here, which is a great customer experience.

But there’s nothing wrong with trying to get your customer to use more of your product. They just seem to be competing interests. So, when we talk about customer experience, do we have to have something that’s a little different than customer success? Or do we look at customer success differently? I’m confused.

Dan Gingiss: I think customer success can play the role of customer experience in a B2B. The reality is, look, we’re selling a product and we’re making promises about that product. The first thing we want to make sure is that our customers understand the product and how to use it and what the benefits are, etc.

So often—and man, I have been the back-end recipient of this—I sit through tutorials on how to use a piece of software and the guy or the gal that’s running the tutorial, who of course has used this software for 10 years and knows where all the skeletons are hidden, is going through showing me how to use this like this.

And I’m like, “My head’s exploding. I just don’t understand this whatsoever.”

“Oh, well, you just go to this menu, and you go to this drop down and go do this.”

It’s like, wait a second, this does not make any sense to me. So, the first part is, we’ve got to make sure that people understand our product and that we set them up for success.

There’s that word again, right? We’ve got to make sure our customers are set up for success early on in the engagement so that they have a better chance of really getting out of the product or service what we promised they would.

Then the rest of the customer experience really becomes about being there to support them in doing that whether they have a problem, whether they get confused at something, whether they’re not using our product or service to its potential.

So many software programs have—it’s like Excel, right? The best Excel user in the world knows about 3% of what Excel does and that’s true of a lot of software. We should be able to tell that company X is only using 3% of our software’s capability, and we should be proactively helping them get more out of the software.

What’s going to happen then is, then it’s going to be easy to sell them on more. Then they’re going to want to invest more because they see the value. I think we miss that first step often and we get so eager to get them to buy more, but they haven’t even really taken advantage of what they’ve got in the first place.

Drew Neisser: Well, it’s interesting, because one of the impacts of COVID in the early days of COVID when a lot of the CMOs in Huddles realized, “We may or may not be essential, we better go and hug our customers really carefully.”

And what they found in those calls was the customers weren’t using their products or services to the fullest capacity. By making the calls—and this was marketers, not just salespeople—they were actually able to find business because some of the things that the product did or the software did actually was really helpful during COVID as folks were going remote.

So, it’s interesting how it took this crisis to get marketers to go back and look at customer engagement as, you know, it became really important to keep your customer. More than anything, right? Because nobody knew where the business was going to be. And of course, as it turned out, B2B did just fine.

[20:44] How to Build CX into Your Product: Code in Some Personality

“It's about finding little opportunities within the experience to create some personalization.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We’re talking about now this intersection between product and product design, if you will, and customer experience and we’ve got a question in chat: “How do you get product management to support a world class customer experience?”

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, it’s a great question. I’ll point you to one example that’s in my book, and actually Drew mentioned it earlier and didn’t even realize he was mentioning it, which is Slack.

When you log into Slack, there is the default message that says, “Please use Slack responsibly,” which I put under the “witty” category because we know that that’s a play on words from the alcohol industry and it’s humorous. Not only that, they allow admins to put in personalized messages so that you can change the message you see every day.

This is the kind of thing where you are building experience into your product, and I love examples of that. And yeah, there are a lot of examples in B2C as well for this, but B2B, especially software, coding in a little bit more of an experience is not particularly difficult.

There’s another example in the book of a solopreneur who changed her login button on her site to say, “Login Darlin'”. And if you know this woman, that is perfectly her personality. I can go into WordPress and change my button to say, “Login Darlin’.” That’s not hard and I am not a web designer or a technical guy at all.

But there’s so many places where we can build experience into the product. And I think in B2B, you’ve got an advantage there because it’s not about manufacturing something or having to change the specs on some physical product. It’s actually all digital, which means it just takes a little bit more coding.

The way to start with this is to think about communication and every time you communicate with a client. Yeah, communication often falls under marketing, but think about the number of times within a digital experience that we’re being communicated to.

Let me give you an example, again, it comes from B2C, but we can learn from it in B2B. When I log into my bank, it says, “Good morning, Daniel!” Well, that’s nice. That’s a nice attempt at being personal. There’s only one problem. The only person who calls me Daniel is my mother and when she’s mad at me. I don’t want to be called Daniel.

So, they’ve made an attempt at being personal, but in fact, they don’t know me at all. If they knew me at all they would say, “Good morning, Dan.” We can do that. How come when I log into Slack or whatever software program, how come it doesn’t welcome me by name? It absolutely could. And when you do that, be sure to ask people what it is they want to be called.

It’s about finding little opportunities within the experience to create some personalization, to create an experience which, again, is easier done in the digital space than it is in the physical space.

Another example in my book from Chase: They decided that on their login page for their bank accounts, they built something into the URL that basically could tell from the IP address where the person was logging in from, and the background picture changed based on where you were.

What was super cool about it is that the photos they had were not typical tourist places. So, if you’re in San Francisco, you’re not seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. You’re seeing a unique part of Chinatown or you’re seeing an area that, if you live in San Francisco, you know it’s San Francisco, but the whole idea there is to personalize it and to create that connection, where Chase is trying to basically say, “Yeah, we’re the biggest bank in the world, and we’re also your local bank.”

And so again, let’s bring it back to what you guys do in the B2B space, right? When we go to log in, we’ve got a landing page. There’s so much that we can do there that we can have some fun with, create personality, create some personalization, customization, etc.

To me, that all falls under the product space. But we’ve got to empower them to have a little bit of a personality. One of the things I love to say when I’m speaking is, there’s no law that says you have to be boring. And a lot of us are in industries where we think “Oh, well, I’m in a boring industry, so I can’t be witty.”

Not true at all. It’s just that you in your industry have chosen to be boring. And there’s no reason there’s in there that says that you absolutely have to be.

[25:00] How the WISER Framework Can Build Better Customers Experiences

“The number one element towards getting to customer loyalty is reducing customer effort.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: In the book, you have the WISER framework. W-I-S-E-R. W for Witty, which is really, let’s bring a little personality, a little bit perhaps of joy or wit or charm or something to these experiences. Let’s start there. Maybe you’ve already covered that with some examples, but I want to go through them one by one relatively quickly. Why this order in the context of B2B?

Dan Gingiss: Well, besides from rhyming with your last name, which of course was completely intentional. WISER is—the first part of WISER is Wise. And that’s about making you wise to customer experience. It’s four elements that I believe contribute to the types of experiences that people want to talk about.

Let’s back up here for a second because remember, I told you I come at customer experience from a marketing perspective. What’s the best marketing that we can have? Word-of-mouth marketing, especially in B2B. Referrals, that’s how we grow our business.

Today, most of how we get referrals, we beg customers to do it: “Will you please do a testimonial for us?” “Oh, we’d love for you to do a video testimonial if you could.” “And do you have any referrals for us?”

What I want to happen is I don’t want you to even have to ask because people are getting such value out of your product and a great experience with you that they’re talking about you anyway.

So, WISE helps you do that and WISE stands for Witty, Immersive, Shareable, and Extraordinary. And then we get to “Well, if we’re going to be WISE, I’d rather you be wiser than the competition.” And so, the R stands for Responsive because after all, when we get people talking about us, we’ve got to be part of that conversation.

And trust me, this works in B2B. This is not just a B2C thing. But one of the things we’ve got to remember in B2B is that every one of our customers is also a consumer. Whether you like it or not, they are comparing the experience working with you to that amazing restaurant they went to last night where the service was impeccable and the food was incredible and it was a great atmosphere. And they’re saying, “Well, why can’t every company that I do business with have this kind of experience?”

Drew Neisser: I’m wondering what the CMOs are thinking about that as they hear that. It’s hard because the businesses are so complex, there’s a long sales cycle, there’s a lot of people involved, they’re big deals. There are so many issues. The difference from W as in Witty, as in having a personality and being more human—I think a lot of this is going to resonate pretty easily with the folks on the call.

What about Immersive? What are we talking about there?

Dan Gingiss: Immersive is really about creating a consistent experience throughout the journey. So, when I gave the example before of the salesperson handing me off to somebody else, as soon as I sign the contract, that’s not consistent. That is a herkie-jerky experience instead of being something that’s smooth and consistent.

Easy way to fix that, by the way, is just to have the salesperson stick with the client for the first 60 or 90 days so that the client knows, if I have any problems, if something’s happening that is the opposite of what the salesperson said, they’re still here for me, I can contact them.

The salesperson doesn’t have to show up to every meeting and doesn’t have to be actively involved. You just have to let the customer know that they’re there for them if anything happens.

Sometimes it’s something as silly as we assign somebody to an account management team and there’s just a personality conflict and they just don’t get along very well. They loved the salesperson, and they don’t really love the account manager. Okay, that’s a pretty easy fix.

If you think about it, we just move them to another account manager and we move on. But the person is not going to tell the account manager that, right?

Now, Immersive also has to do with being able to appeal to lots of different either emotions or senses during the experience, and this is tougher in B2B, no question. But the basic idea here is, I want every time I use your product for it to be a pleasure to use your product.

It’s like, when I go shopping on Amazon, is it ever difficult? No, it’s easy every single time. If I have a problem and I need to return something, easy. So, how do we make our experience in the B2B world that same kind of easy? Where you’re not standing in my way.

You mentioned that there’s a lot of complexity. But that does not have to be apparent to the customer. To the customer, it should be easy. In fact, there’s a stat in the book that says the number one element towards getting to customer loyalty is reducing customer effort. That is the number one thing.

And so, when we think about customer effort, I want you to look at, “Okay, if I want to do X with your software, how many clicks does it take for me to get to X?”

We had this happen at Discover. Again, B2C example very relevant back to B2B. We had this happen at Discover where we noticed from the data that the number one reason why people logged into the Discover website was to look at the recent transactions.

But we had buried recent transactions three clicks deep. So, we built a Facebook-like feed on the homepage, so that as soon as you logged in, one of the first things you saw were your last 10 transactions. And overnight, something absolutely magical happened. Tens of thousands of people logged into the Discover website and logged right back out. And didn’t click on a thing.

Now, Jeff Bezos would say that was a bad result because we need people clicking, putting in carts, and checking out. But not when you’re on a credit card website! What we did was we got out of people’s way, and we gave them exactly what they wanted. And they loved it.

Our customer satisfaction scores skyrocketed, and it was the first year out of eight that we beat Amex and won the J.D. Power Award for customer satisfaction. All because we were willing to say, “We’re making this too hard for our customers, so we’re gonna stand out of their way and not try to upsell them or cross sell them or throw pop ups in front of them. We’re just going to let them see their transactions because that’s what they want to do.”

I guarantee you there’s an element in your product where you’re doing the same thing right now, where you can make the same kind of change and really remove those barriers. So that’s really what Immersive is about. I want to feel as a customer, that it’s consistent, that it’s clean, that it’s simple, and that it just flows.

Drew Neisser: I love the example. It’s a great thing. And I’m sure as folks are listening to that, they’re thinking about all the ways that they are or aren’t making it easier for both the customer to buy and to work with them.

One of the thoughts that occurred to me—and I’ve seen this be very effective, and it provides a continuity—the CMO is part of a team of executive sponsors of the larger clients. So, they are there from the beginning in these big deals and they stay all the way through it and they’re the neck to choke if you will for this one particular client.

That to me sets a really interesting message and creates a good part of the experience assuming that contact information is there all the way and that individual. But it also goes back to what you were saying earlier, which is that person, the CMO, could in fact, if they were the executive sponsor, be celebrating with their customer at that moment, right?

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. And by the way, I don’t mean that you have to spend a ton of money and take them out to a giant steak and lobster dinner. That’s not what I’m talking about. There’s a great example in the book as well about a company called Punkpost.

You go to their website or their mobile app, and it allows you to send cards to people. You tell them exactly what you want it to say, and they hire an artist to hand design the card. And these are gorgeous cards.

The cost, by the way, is not much more—it’s basically the same as buying a Hallmark card and putting a stamp on it. Except it’s so much more personal. And what they find at Punkpost is that people keep these cards because they’re like works of art.

They put them up in their cubicles, in their office, or even on their refrigerator at home, and they remember you every time. That’s a great way to thank a brand-new client and welcome them into the family, right? It’s a little bit of a surprise and delight. It’s not spending a ton of money. But it is something that’s really personalized.

Drew Neisser: And it’s shareable.

Dan Gingiss: And it’s shareable. In fact, yeah.

[33:05] Use a Sparkler, Not a Candle: How to Be a Shareable B2B Brand

“I want you to look in your business for the place where you're using a candle and you can use a sparkler instead.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: So let’s talk about Shareable. We talked about Immersive; let’s get into Shareable.

Dan Gingiss: So, Shareable is really about being intentional about getting customers to share. And so, what part of your experience is the moment where they say, “Man, I gotta tell somebody about this because this is really cool.”

Now Shareable, again, the examples are often B2C, but I am a big believer that one of the mistakes that B2B companies make is they only look to other B2B companies for inspiration. They should be looking to B2C because there are so many things that we can take from B2C.

The example I want to share with you here is really metaphorical. I took my son to a steak dinner for his 15th birthday. When we walked in, the maître d’ handed him a birthday card that was signed by the staff. And I gotta tell you, it’s hard to impress a customer experience person, but I was definitely impressed.

One thing that was super interesting was it actually built an expectation during the dinner. It built this anticipation. My kids even said, “Boy, if they gave us a card, they’re probably gonna do something really special at the end of dinner.”

And we were excited about it. The steakhouse did not disappoint. They came out with this box of chocolates that were handmade in their kitchen, sitting on a plate where “Happy Birthday” was spelled out in cocoa powder, and they had a sparkler instead of a candle.

Now, the metaphor here is, there’s nothing wrong with a slice of cake and a candle. It’s a very nice gesture. The only problem is it’s not shareable because every restaurant does it. So, I want you to look in your business for the place where you’re using a candle and you can use a sparkler instead. Where everybody else is doing it this way, so let’s do it this way, and it’s going to help you stand out.

When we got that dessert, nobody told us to share it. And yet all four people at the table pulled out their phones, took a picture, mom and dad shared to Facebook because that’s where we are, the kids shared the Snapchat because that’s where they are. And boom, that restaurant got four shares for a single experience without ever having to say, “Hey, guys, would you please take a picture of this and share it don’t forget to tag us on Instagram?” None of that had to happen.

B2Bs, you have an opportunity to create experiences like that. A sparkler experience where somebody says, “Man, I never would have expected that from the SaaS company that I just signed a contract with.” There’s your opportunity to get people talking about you, which as we all know is so much more credible than us talking about ourselves.

Drew Neisser: Well, Dan, you scored big with uses sparkler not a candle. I totally agree. What I love about it is it is easy because there’s a lot of candles out there in a lot of the processes both from a marketing standpoint and of course in the organization.

[35:51] How Actions of the Customer Data Can Get You to Extraordinary CX

“Here's the secret: Almost everybody's experience is ordinary. All we have to do is be a little bit better than almost everyone else, and we're going to stand out.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Now we merge into this territory of Extraordinary. I don’t know if sparkler is Extraordinary but what does that mean? And can we get there?

Dan Gingiss: Yeah, Extraordinary. Sparkler is extraordinary as well. And the good thing is these can have more than one piece of WISE in them. So, keep in mind that the word “extraordinary” simply means a little bit better than ordinary.

So yes, it would be extraordinary if you treated all of your clients to a private firework show and concert by Beyonce, right? But none of us have that kind of budget to do that. Yes, that would be extraordinary. But extraordinary is just a bit better than ordinary.

And here’s the secret: Almost everybody’s experience is ordinary. All we have to do is be a little bit better than almost everyone else, and we’re going to stand out.

The way to do this is to look at different parts of your experience. Again, I want you to say, “Where are we doing things that everyone else is doing?” Or “Where are we doing things, because we’ve always done it that way?” Or “Where are we doing things because we think we have to do it this way?”

There’s a terrific example in the book about a study that was done with B2B companies by a design agency. The design agency was frustrated at its B2B client because they were trying to get them to change the navigation labels on their website. The client was resisting. Because… anyone? Well, everyone else uses these same navigation labels. That’s why they wanted them.

So, the study was, they went out and actually created a fictional website with these same labels that everybody was using. They asked—I don’t remember how many it was—a thousand customers: “Where would you expect to find XYZ on this site?” And the choices are “products,” “services,” “resources,” you know, all these generic words.

What was incredible was that basically, customers equally chose every one of the tabs. They literally showed no preference for one tab or the other because they didn’t know the difference between any of them. “Well, is this a product? Or is this a resource? Or maybe it’s a service? I have no idea.”

That study is what finally got their client to look at changing the navigation labels on their website to create something that makes more sense to people.

Drew Neisser: As you’re talking, I’m just thinking of all the SEO people who have made everything bored-inary instead of extraordinary, right? “Oh, you’ve got to have it this way because everybody in the industry does, and this is what people are going to search.” So, therefore is bored-inary, not extraordinary.

Dan Gingiss: This is easy to fix, right? First of all, you’ve got—and I’m gonna veer off for just a second here, Drew, but we’ve heard the voice of the customer. And hopefully you have a voice of the customer program where you are listening to customers, you’re serving them, you’re doing focus groups, you’re actually hearing what they have to say.

There’s also something that I introduced in the book instead of VOC, which is AOC. And I’m not talking about the congresswoman from New York, I’m talking about actions of the customer, and actions of the customer we get from data, for example, our website data. You should be able to tell from your data where people are going on your site. What are they clicking? What navigation labels are they clicking on?

And by the way, you can also tell if they’re clicking on a navigation label and then going back because they made a mistake and they’re clicking on a different navigation label. If you have a search bar on your website, take a look at what people are searching for.

By the way, that’s a pretty good indicator they can’t find what they’re looking for. That’s why they’re searching, right? So, we get all this “actions of the customer” data that can tell us so much, and you don’t have to do this just for your external website, do it in your product itself, right?

Watch where people go in your product, watch how many clicks it takes them, how many times they have to go backwards, how many times they look confused. Then you pair that with consistent focus groups where you’re building new products and new things into your product, you’ve gotta have customers walk through it before you launch it and do some usability testing so that they can tell you, “Look, this is great, but I don’t understand this. This doesn’t make any sense to me.”

We used to do it at Discover. Before we launched any page on the website, it had to go through usability testing. It was unbelievable how differently our programmers and our customers think. The programmers would be making something that made total sense to them, and then we’d put it in front of customers they’d be like, “Yep, makes no sense at all,” so we’d go back to the drawing board.

[40:14] How to Produce Helpful AND SEO-Winning Content

“You can have great #SEO and still stand out with content that is helpful, that shows a little more personality, that doesn't sound exactly like everyone else.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: So, there is this SEO thing, and I was joking about it with bored-inary but it’s really true. The SEO professionals say, “You’ve got to call it this because that’s what’s going to show up in search.”

Part of it is the moment of the interaction, how people are coming in, right? Because someone searches for something, and you come up because you’ve done your architecture better than somebody else and you have good content on there.

In that battle at that moment, sometimes extraordinary might fail you. I think there is a balance here and I’m wondering if you have experience or thoughts on that.

Dan Gingiss: Yeah. So you mentioned content. And I think content is really, that’s a place where you can differentiate for sure. I mean, the navigation is but one piece of the SEO puzzle, and I’m not an SEO expert at all.

For SEO work, but I would recommend is you check out, my friend, Marcus Sheridan’s book, which is called They Ask, You Answer, and it’s really about becoming the best educator in your industry, so that as people—we think about when people put a search into Google, many times, it’s a question. “How do I? Where do I find? Who, what, where, when, why?”

If you’re the site that’s answering that question, they’re going to land with you. And one of the stories that he talks about early on in his book is answering the question: “How much does it cost?”

And B2Bs are known for this, right? There’s a whole tab that says pricing, and then you click on it, and you know what’s not there? Pricing.

I don’t know what Google thinks of that, but I can tell you as a prospect, really annoying. So, in this particular example, Marcus, he couldn’t give his pricing either because it was too complex. The answer was “It depends.”

So, he wrote an entire blog post on his site that said, “How much does it cost to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” That’s exactly what people were typing into Google. The blog post was, “It depends.”

And then the blog post laid out everything that it depended on. Even though you didn’t get—and I think he gave a range, right? And his particular product, it’s a big range. It could be anywhere from $20,000, to $100,000. But it depends on 17 different factors, here’s the factors.

But now people felt smarter about this product and felt like they were knowledgeable enough to understand, “Well, here are the levers I can pull to make the price more or less expensive.”

It’s like buying a new car and there’s a thousand options you can add and if you add them all, it’s gonna be a lot more expensive. So, if you ask somebody, “Well, how much is the car?”

The answer is, “It depends. Do you want all the options? Or do you not want all the options?”

It’s very similar in B2B, it’s just that we tend to be too afraid to lay out what it depends on and what are the elements that affect pricing? I really do think that SEO, you know, be careful that it’s not that it’s not the cart leading the horse, but SEO, you can have great SEO and still stand out with content that is helpful, that shows a little more personality, that doesn’t sound exactly like everyone else.

Because after all, if you sound like everybody else, you’re not going to benefit from SEO because everyone else is going to be exactly the same.

[43:17] A Simple B2B Brand Promise for Better CX

“Focus on the one thing that you do better than everybody else, and nail that.” —@dgingiss Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We’re running in towards the end of the hour. One of the things that I think about a lot is brand in totality and this consistent experience. I really admire MasterCard, for example, because they took the priceless idea and they actually then created priceless experiences on all sorts of levels in all sorts of places. Really, to me, that was a global campaign that translated all the way back to customer experience on some level, certainly from a marketing standpoint.

We need to have this big brand idea and we also want to have lots of cool ways of having great customer experiences. How do these two things mesh? Where these experiences enhance and build back to the big brand idea?

Dan Gingiss: I mean, obviously, one of the most successful brand campaigns in history, so a great example. And remember that MasterCard is really a B2B2C if we’re being honest, right? I mean, we don’t get a credit card as a consumer generally, because it’s a Visa or a MasterCard. We get it because the bank that we do business with is issuing it, right?

And so, it just so happens that it’s running on X network or Y network. I think that campaign was just as much for banks and for their B2B clients as it was for the end consumer.

But what’s great about it is it’s a brand promise, and it’s a simple brand promise. It doesn’t take a half an hour to explain. It takes only, in fact, in this case, only one word to explain, which is really remarkable.

As I was saying before, when I worked with sales teams, I challenge them just to get to 8 to 10 words and that’s pretty hard. Can you imagine defining Salesforce in 8 to 10 words? That’s going to be challenging, right?

But at the end of the day, and I’ll tell you, Salesforce is an interesting example because for years Salesforce has tried to be everything to everyone. “We do everything. We’re the only piece of software you need in your entire company because we do everything.”

But at the end of the day, like most companies are trying to be everything to everyone, they’re really, really good at certain things, and they’re only average on other things. So, if I’m trying to sell Salesforce, I’m focusing in on here is where we are the best in the world. And by the way, we also do this other stuff.

I do think for marketers in the B2B space, the idea is: Focus on the one thing that you do better than everybody else, and nail that. I think that’s what MasterCard was trying to do by creating priceless, which is, when you use your MasterCard, you’re going to have a different experience than when you use any other card. And I think that’s why that was such a successful campaign.

Drew Neisser: Right. At a time when they anticipated the experience revolution, which we’ve all sort of been into. I want to thank you, Dan, for joining us and wrap up this portion of the conversation.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser—hey, that’s me! Audio production is by Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, and learn more about my new book, visit renegade.com. I’m your host Drew Neisser and until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.

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