If you have questions about customer experience, tech, and all things business, Blake Morgan is the person to ask. So we did.
Blake is a customer experience futurist, author, keynote speaker, and consultant. As a company that understands the relationship between customer experience and loyalty, we wanted Blake’s take on the past, the present, and the future of customer experience and we were very lucky to have her answer a few of those questions for us…
We were curious & excited, to say the least.
How did you get into your line of business? What was your inspiration?
I’ve been in the contact center space for over ten years. I really just fell for the customer experience space – starting by producing a podcast and content for a blog called Customer Management IQ and moving on to work at a major corporation and then purely focusing on thought leadership. There truly is no shortage of work to be done in the space. Have you had a recent poor customer experience? It’s likely you have!
We’ve noticed you use a very interesting term, ‘futurist’ to describe yourself. What does being a futurist mean to you and how does it set you apart from others in your field?
A futurist creates different scenarios of what the future could bring. I’ve always looked at trends shaping the future of customer experience and the role technology plays in that. I find it very exciting – never boring!
How does customer experience influence brand loyalty? What key factors go into making a positive customer experience?
Why is it so hard for brands to understand that if they treat customers badly customers will not only leave, they will tell everyone they know? Customers today demand a tailored personalized customer experience. They demand quick and relevant service. Customers are getting this from their favorite brands like Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Spotify. Then they do business with their healthcare provider or bank or cable provider and the experience is terrible. There is increasing research tying the link between long-term customer experience initiatives and profitability. In fact, Forrester has a new report about this coming out very soon.
How has the customer experience changed over the course of your career?
No one was talking about customer experience ten years ago, except for maybe e-commerce companies like Zappos. Today there is more awareness of customer experience likely as a result of social media. Because social media has given customers a voice. Social media has forced brands to look at their customer experience in the face every day online. Social media also required that marketing talks to customer service. Now bad behavior results in an immediate impact for the brand – and brands need to be on their best behavior. I think it’s an exciting time to focus on this area because now there’s such broad awareness of the discipline. When I say I’m a customer experience author and futurist, I don’t need to say much more than that.
Which tech innovation has truly changed the customer experience industry?
It’s too hard to name just one. Contact center technology has exploded, cloud technology, CRM technology, data mining technology, machine learning and machine translation, personalization and content management technology – again too many to name. But it’s the cumulative effect of all of these technologies that have made customer experience an entire area of explosive disruption in the last few years.
Many companies are being left behind in the wake of new technology and big data. What immediate steps should these companies take to compete in the tech-based market of today?
The first step is to first find your data and find out who has it. Are you collaborating across your company with other departments and divisions who might have the data you need to create that seamless customer experience? That’s step one.
You recently predicted that 50 years from now, customer experience will be shaped by the roles of women. How can women position themselves at the forefront of the customer experience industry, today?
Maybe I’m biased because I am a woman and I love working in this industry – but I think women are uniquely positioned to excel in the area of customer experience. Not to gender this to death but women tend to be better with feelings at times. We often are the ones to know the vibe of the room – we are the ones to use our intuition to pick up on invisible cues. These skills of empathy, intuition and being able to “read the room” so to speak will serve women as they advance in their companies as champions for the customer. It’s also a good time to be female because now boards, companies, and even conference organizers, understand how out of touch they look when they feature all men. I get a lot of calls to keynote events because I’m female and they’ve never had a female keynote and hey, I take those calls and am happy to do it.
You also referenced sustainability in your prediction for 50 years from now. How can companies make the shift towards sustainable practices, without inconveniencing their customers? What immediate steps should companies take to be a leader in sustainable business?
I think you would be surprised to find that customers are actually ok with being a little inconvenienced for the sake of creating a more sustainable planet. Every company today should be looking at ways to reduce its carbon footprint, being a better global citizen, and listening to the communities where the company does business. Companies today have to have a heart – because employees want a better world, customers want a better world and anyone watching (customer or not) will raise their hand and voice if they see companies abusing the earth’s resources.
As a consumer, how has technology improved your customer experiences?
Being able to work and live on the go is a big benefit for me because of my job I am often traveling or simply out of the office. Whether it’s scheduling appointments on my phone, facetiming with my husband and daughter or using the many great google apps for a quick work need – I love the ability to work on the go because of my smartphone.
With the development of new tech and retail innovations, would you say customers are harder to satisfy now?
Customers are harder to satisfy because they are comparing you to Netflix, Uber, Spotify, and Amazon. How do you measure up when compared with those experiences? It matters.
The popularity of chatbots has grown rapidly to improve the customer experience in countless industries. What is next for chatbots and AI?
I’d rephrase the question to what’s exciting about AI rather than what’s next – because it’s the cart before the horse. We need to figure out a strategy and how AI can benefit customers before we go too far into the future. However, AI is already a big part of our lives. AI helps put spam into your Gmail spam folder, it mans the airplane for your entire airline flight except for 7 minutes during take-off and landing, and it powers your Spotify music playlists.
What tech should marketers be watching in the next few years?
Tech marketers need to think about real personalization and not just sending out mass amounts of email with the customer’s first name. Real personalization considers a customers’ history and provides true relevance. This is what the modern customer craves and marketers need to think about strategies for serving real personalization and relevance.