Nothing beats good customer experience in promoting your business. When customers feel that they are being taken care of by a company, they tend to generate repeat business and referrals. However, customer experience isn’t just a buzzword. It is a whole system in itself with a number of moving parts. In this episode, Scott Carson interviews customer experience and service expert and bestselling author, Adrian Brady-Cesana, who discusses the four pillars of customer experience and how you can optimize each to create what could be the greatest revenue-driver for your business.
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Team, Tools, Process And Feedback: The Four Pillars Of Customer Experience With Adrian Brady-Cesana
I’m excited about our special guest. He has done some amazing things out there. I know you’re going to love what he’s going to be sharing with us in this episode. He’s Adrian Brady-Cesana and he’s been working in the customer experience and service sales and operations management consulting for many years. I know that many real estate investors out there struggle with a variety of systems or services. We always sometimes are feeling like we’re juggling multiple balls, but this guy has done an amazing job not only launching companies but also growing them, raising capital and taking things to amazing levels. He’s also an author and a bestseller on Amazon, The Four CX Pillars to Grow Your Business Now. We’ll be talking a little about tools, team, process and feedback. We are honored to have Adrian joining us all the way from nice and sunny Buffalo.
Thank you. I appreciate the awesome introduction. I was joking with Scott before we started that we’re in the sweet spot of our summer in Buffalo, New York, right on Lake Erie where it’s like the high 70s, low 80s, and people are soaking it in. Scott, we’ll have snow here in the way the Buffalo does.
Adrian, for those out there that are reading this, you’ve got an awesome resume. You’ve launched some amazing things, but let’s dive into it because you’ve got a passion. When we were speaking on the phone, that passion comes across. You’ve got a passion for working with businesses. Can you talk a little about what’s developed that passion over the last few years for you and what led you to where you’re at now?
I’ll give you the 2 or 3-minute elevator to give you a sense of how I developed that passion. How I even accrued the experiences to be able to understand what got me lit up and ready to rock and roll with some of these things inside of the business to give the reader a better understanding of what my background is. From there, it sets us up. For me, I’ve been a bit of a venture capital startup journeyman. I’ve spent the last few years working at a plethora of different companies in New York City. I’ve had such an incredible privilege to be able to see not only the number of different incredible, super-intelligent, innovative startups, but there are wildly different spaces and industries.
To Scott’s intro points, there’s a ton of items that kept repeating themselves. There were trends. They are things that I got to see it again and again, which has allowed the next experience a little bit easier. You also started to get a sense for what are the major trends of the major themes across industries and different businesses in different customer portfolio spaces. After you see it in 3, 4 different times, you’re like, “Why aren’t people building their companies with some of these thoughts, principles or some of these pillars in mind from the get-go?” I got to spend time as the General Manager and Head of Customer Operations at a company called H.Bloom in the Flatiron District of Manhattan. We were one of the country’s fastest-growing floral subscription companies.
For the reader out there, when you’re walking into a hotel, a restaurant or maybe you’re walking into your building lobby, you see those beautiful floral arrangements or those gorgeous plant setups, that’s what H.Bloom was bringing. I had the pleasure of working with an incredible group of people in New York City and across the country as we eventually scaled the company and grew to over 25 different markets in the US. It was an incredible experience to work with some incredible customers and incredible designers. As Scott mentioned too, this was my first experience where I got to pull up a chair at a venture capital-backed company that was raising millions of dollars to make that dream a reality and to make it happen. As we all know in this show, money is what usually gets the world moving. You need it to get going.
From there, I moved on to another business. Scott, you and I were chatting about this. Onefinestay is a business that is going to interest the reader. Long story short, when Airbnb went to work spreading their flag across planet earth, Onefinestay was a London-based company that went straight to the top end of the portfolios that they’re in. They started stitching together this incredible portfolio of townhouses, penthouses, apartment suites, mansions on the lake and on the water. I’m talking some incredibly dope places. What they did is they took the top of the market over. I had the pleasure of working as the head of the customer experience in New York City, working with our host and our guest relations teams.
Scott, you and I were joking about it. This was a tough crowd to keep happy. You had hosts who were given the keys up to their multimillion-dollar homes. These places are gorgeous, but then on the flip side, you had guests who were coming in and they didn’t mind spending $8,000 for four nights stay in New York City for $2,000 a night. The host and the guests’ triangle there was a fun thing to manage. I got to work with a group of incredible teammates in New York City every single day, making those day-to-day hosting guests interactions as special as possible. I took a wildly different course and I joined a company called Hometeam in the Flatiron District in Manhattan and Hometeam was trying to build beautiful days for older adults.
Essentially, we’d come up with a software technology that allowed us to do a variety of different activity tracking, scheduling, bill management, service management for home care for older adults. People loved ones that need help on the day-to-day. Once again, I found myself in a position where I was asked to come together with an incredible group of people in New York City and build a customer experience team from scratch to not only manage the customers and the patients but to manage our caregivers as well. We had over 400 HHAs in New York, New Jersey taking care of older adults every single solitary day. I got the pleasure of working at the sole unicorn in Buffalo, New York, ACV Auctions. It’s a digital auction automotive space that allows dealers across America to buy and sell their cars online, literally laying on the couch while they’re watching the kids play with their toys on the floor.
They get to essentially do away with the days of having to go to the auction, sit in a bunch of lanes, watching a bunch of cars rolling through, figuring what you’re going to bid on, what you’re going to buy on. Figuring out how you’re going to transport it home and get it back to wherever you came from. ACV Auctions takes all the pain out of that. We work with these incredible dealers every single day to help them buy and sell their cars. I’ve been building CXChronicles. We thought this would be an awesome session for our readers. CXChronicles is going through all those experiences I chatted about. I kept seeing the same patterns, themes and trends.
This is where The Four CX Pillar methodology was developed. Scott, you and I will get into this more, but in short, we’re going to talk about how team, tools, process, and feedback can be one of the easiest things to start with when you’re either building your company, scaling your company, growing your company. Maybe you’re about to take some capital because you saw an avenue that you can blow up ten times. The Four CX Pillars are going to be a great way for you to think about how you can control and optimize that growth moving forward.
That’s the thing I loved about having commodities because we get so many let’s say part-time investors or part-time entrepreneurs that are transitioning. They’re working on their job and they’re transitioning into something new away from working for their 9:00 to 5:00 or whatever the job is into an entrepreneur aspect of it. They’re transitioning, they see an opportunity of some sort, whether it’s baking cookies, they’re flipping real estate or they’re buying like we talked about. Out of those four pillars, what would you say is the first thing that they probably need to focus on more than anything else?
It’s funny because even on our CXChronicles Podcast, I always ask this, “Which of the four CX pillars do you tend to spend?” I would say 9 out of 10 times, you’re going to get a customer-focused business leader that bring up the first pillar team. Many times, in many conversations that I’ve had with different people talk about how without the team or without beginning a foundation of building a team or without having some type of a support system that is your team, those other three CX pillars become a little bit harder. Tools becomes a little bit difficult to understand.
What’s the best? What’s the most cost-effective? What’s going to give us the biggest bang for our buck? What can we implement? What can’t we support? We don’t have the technological support or we don’t have the money to be able to pay for that support. The team is going to oftentimes dictate the tools aspect and how people are even able to build their toolkit. It’s the same thing with the process. It’s like the better the team you have, the quicker you’re going to develop a super laser-sharp toolkit with processes that are baked right into how you have to run the damn toolkit to be able to get the results that you need with your business.
Lastly, feedback. Scott, you and I were talking about this. Depending on what people’s experiences are working with different people, everyone’s worked at a business or worked for an individual who is excellent at soliciting feedback, whether it’s from their customers or from their team. Everybody’s worked for either a company or an individual who doesn’t ask at all. They don’t care at all what the customer thinks. They don’t care at all what the employer or the team thinks might contribute and make the best possible result. They do their own thing. I don’t know about you, but I know that for me and my experience, it has been more fun to work for the former where you have a business that cares about what the customer thinks and cares about what the team thinks.
If they don’t care, they won’t be around for long.
That’s what we spend a ton of time talking about at CXChronicles. A lot of people don’t realize it, but the reality is this. As hard as you work for your business, whether it’s super small or a huge Fortune 500, the power of the promoter and detractor is interesting. You can work super hard to make an awesome experience and create Scott, who’s a promoter. He’s only going to go on to talk about that awesome experience maybe 8 or 9 times with his people. When we have Bob right behind in line, and Scott and he has a bad experience and becomes a detractor, he’s going to talk with sixteen people about how terrible that experience was with that company. Thinking about how to double down on the power of curating as many promoters as possible in whatever business you’re in is key. It’s simple too.
Many entrepreneurs and business owners, we’re all control freaks at some point. That aspect is difficult for people to do a variety of things. Team is what I always believe as one biggest thing, but the team is more than how you got to hire a ton of staff. Your team is your vendors. Your clients, your favorite cheerleaders are for you. Building an environment that you’re open to constructive criticism and feedback. Your clients are definitely important, but if you’re not on the front lines, you’ve got to listen to the people that are taking the phone calls or people that are monitoring the social media stuff to see who’s angry or who’s willing to voice their concerns.
It’s funny because most of the people on this show that are reading, they already know how damn hard it is to be able to get a potential customer or get a potential lead, get somebody on the phone, get someone to start answering. That is hard enough as it is. Not only that you’re spending some money for it or you’re spending some amount of time to get that lead to even be able to want to talk to you in the first place. Once you get these people flipped and you made them a customer, taking a couple of extra minutes or a little bit of extra time to solicit the feedback around, “Why did you work with us all the way through the sales cycle? Why did I get you from being a person who maybe was going to talk with me on LinkedIn to now I’ve already got you buying my thing or working with my service or working with my team?” Ask them which key areas along that customer journey trapped you or got you and made you want to talk to me. It’s super important because then you can repeat on that stuff.
The thing is figuring out where they came in, what they liked, what they disliked and in hearing that feedback, what can we do better? One of the biggest things I’ve always done on an annual basis, sometimes twice a year, as soon as we send out an email out to our database, “How are we doing?” Asking the questions. We do our different virtual events. We’ll ask survey questions. “What are we doing? What’s your biggest need?” Tailoring your business to what your clients want versus the big mistake a lot of entrepreneurs make is thinking that they know everything their clients want and going that route.
For me, some of the companies that I chatted about that I was fortunate enough to be able to have be a part of and be a part of helping to build those companies, the one major takeaway that I got to see close up that SMB, specifically Small and Medium Businesses, need to double down, especially post COVID here, Scott, where we both know. As if things weren’t already hard enough to be an entrepreneur or to have your own business or run your own shop, it just got a lot harder. I’m going to be brutally honest and come out and say. There’s going to be some Darwinism outplay here where the strongest, the sharpest, the best, the people that dig into this feedback, dig into what their customers want, dig into what works for the team and what doesn’t work for the team. Those are going to be the people that are going to be able to grow ten times into the future.
The ones that think that none of this stuff matters and think that all that’s hoopla if it’s not directly correlated to the bottom line or to the EBITDA, get out of here with that. It’s going to be a little bit different. When you look at what some of the brightest financial minds in the world are thinking about things right now, people are still hanging on to see what key one’s going to look like. Now more than ever, love your customers. Be all over the customers and the incredible employees that are keeping those customers for you every single day.
That’s the thing. It’s always easier to keep a client than it is to go out and find a new one, whether it’s someone buying a physical product and investor, things like that. Don’t we get wrong? Everybody goofs up on this at some point, figuring out, “How did we screw this up? What do I go back to fix the screwup?”
You’re not wrong. Think about it. Here’s another thought for some of our readers, which is some of the best companies in the world, they do that. They spend millions doing what you said. Meaning, they have teams of people, whether it’s analysts or BizOps specialists who literally understand every little facet of the business. They could break it down mathematically or they can give you a quantified view of what it looks like. They spent a ton of money doing monthly turn reviews that shows them exactly what they’re breaking down on again and again.
They take that data and it will tee up or it will essentially spring forward next month what OKRs or Objectives and Key Results need to look in terms of how to improve that. They’re taking it two steps further where they already know what their business math looks like around how much that costs the company to lose those people. You’re seeing all these ROI investment traits where you can absolutely see what are the major customer breakdown areas in your business that you have to fix in order to avoid the leaky bucket syndrome later on down the road.
It totally makes a lot of sense there for you. It keeps popping in my mind when you were saying that stuff. Who do we screw up on? Even dialing that back, when you look at the 6x compared to what and it depends on 5x, to keep a client versus a new client. That’s a dramatic amount of money and time and marketing across the board too.
When you see some of these big news stories about XYZ company raising XYZ ridiculous amounts of millions to do whatever they’re doing, a huge part of that is these guys have already shown that within some of the early modeling, these LTVs or Lifetime Values of those types of customers are great that they can afford all the burn now. They can afford to raise the type of capital worth. If it needs 2, 3, 5 years to bring that thing to fruition, it doesn’t matter. They’re going to make the money later on down the road. There are tons of examples that we see like that out there.
A question that a lot of new entrepreneurs get into the business, getting to where they’re focused on and they struggle with, and this goes back a little bit to maybe some of the tools we talk about. It’s that constant marketing aspect of things. I see many people that get in and they think, “I’ve got 5,000 friends on Facebook or I’ve got 10,000 connections on LinkedIn, but I’m going to do one post. That’s all I need to drive in the business.” I know I hear this from my students. Many people fail on understanding that it is a process that you’ve got to consistently market on a regular basis. On a survey we did with our audience, and this may make your skin crawl. We asked about 30 questions, but one say, “How often are you marketing to your database?” It was either once a week, once every two weeks, once a month, once an email. Over half said once an email or once a month. I’m like, “That’s not enough.”
You’ll see a lot of different points of view on that. It depends on what type of business you’re in. What is your marketplace or what is your customer base even wants to see as far as engagement? Let me give you some examples here. If you’re a marketplace like an eBay, or if you are a marketplace like an Amazon, you can drip every single day because Scott and Adrian both already have the next three things teed up in our Amazon checklist. We already know that. If I’m looking for golf balls, go ahead and drip me on golf balls. I’m either buying them now, tomorrow or on Thursday. As we’re loading up the cart, that’s one example. Let’s say that you’re looking for that special piece of art or you’re looking for that one artist that you’ve been looking for forever and you want a specific type of print.
Show me every one of those prints. If you already know that I’ve searched for 15 or 20 of those items, that’s all day long. I think where things get a little bit different is when you get some of these companies that it’s more of a commodity-based thing. Maybe you went to a carwash in your neighborhood. They at least had a tablet set up where you could enter all of your information. That’s cool. They have a nice POS. It’s modern and awesome to be able to collect customer information. If you start dripping on me every single week for about a carwash, I don’t know that that’s going to yield the same type of results. It’s a different type of experience. It’s a different type of thing.
Especially in the age of stuck at home. I’ve got a friend who owned a company, a car detailing business in San Diego with fifteen full-time employees and shut down permanently. I’m like, “I’m sorry to hear. What other marketing are you doing? Are you maybe instead of going from the consumer base, you thought about going into business?” “I didn’t even think about that. We were doing email.” “Nobody’s driving. The only people that are only driving companies.” Figure how to pivot your message to your different client base out there.
Scott, to add under that example because that’s an awesome example. The other thing too, when you think about COVID right now, especially as a small business owner or a small business investor, would you have to be looking forward more than ever, not where we’ve been? You need to be looking for what are the different possibilities or the different opportunity points before. Take your car wash example. Maybe I might not go to the car wash right this second right now. If somebody pulled up into my driveway and they could get my car nice and clean and I didn’t have to do anything, they were going to do it in the driveway, I would do that. I think it’s a different experience. The other thing too is it feels to me like that might be a possibility what car washes even looks like in the future.
You might not go to a thing anymore. Rather you have some awesome truck that rolls by with 1 or 2 men and they pop out and your car is perfect ten minutes later. Maybe I might even pay more for that because I know it costs more to do that. I know the other thing, the physical thing, they already have that built. They can rinse, wash, repeat that, keep whipping cars through a building. I do think there’s some flex here. If you understand what the experiences or if you understand what the business is trying to provide you in terms of a value or service offering, you will be willing to pay more for that.
The fact is that you’re serving them and we all know people make decisions based on either money or time. You can say that time allows you to charge more for your product or service providing a variety of things out there. The thing that also popped in my mind as we were talking about that on the VC side of things, it wasn’t real estate, banks, debt and stuff like that. Some people that come to me say, “I’m going to raise the capital before I find the product.” Investment doesn’t want to talk theory. They want to see a product. When you’ve approached VC or been in those conversations, what are some of the things that you see people stub their toes on when it comes to raising capital?
The first thing to talk about is which you already hit on, which is a lot of times the businesses that you see that are raising capital. The one major thing that people often forget is very rarely is it simply on an idea or simply on a back of a napkin type of situation. Unless you’re talking about some multi-time winner, some stallions, some him or her CEO or founder who has crushed it multiple times and act like an Elon of the world. You know that whatever they get their wild brains into, they’re going to win and dominate. That’s such a small clip.
Most people are coming to these VCs and they’ve already got an interesting business or they’ve already proven some interesting big market possibilities. Whether it’s a product, whether it’s a service, whether it’s a technology, that it gets those VCs interested. For me, I’ll talk more specifically about some of my experiences. I know with H.Bloom, we were in a position where our New York City market, we’d already went after it. Within one year’s time, we’d won out some global brands. We were doing things for Eleven Madison Park. We were doing things for Burberry. We were doing things for some of the biggest hotels in Manhattan that you walked into another potential customer’s office. We said, “We’re doing the flowers for Burberry now.” They say, “Sign me up right here.” It was easy.
When it came time to raising capital for H.Bloom, we already had a huge model that was producing millions of dollars of reoccurring revenue on the initial market that we had built out. That was a little bit easier of a story to where you could go to some of these investors and make it clear, “We’ve already got a proven business model. We’ve got a team that’s built like our flagship market in arguably one of the hardest markets in the world to do business.” For anybody that’s done business in Manhattan, that’s a different ball game, especially if you’re running a service, operations or a logistical perspective. Try moving ten vans around Manhattan from 7:00 in the morning until 7:00 PM or sometimes 10:00 PM. It’s a mess but it can be done. Multiple companies have proven it.
When we talk about Onefinestay, it was another interesting situation because by us going and building out the high-end of the portfolio and having hundreds. Eventually, if you look at Onefinestay, thousands of listings. The hotels immediately took notice of that because they knew, “We’re not going to be able to rebuild or refabricate a Park Avenue townhouse. We have a nice hotel and we could put you in the presidential suite, but we don’t have a townhouse per se.” Some of them do now. Some of them got into that, but for Onefinestay, when our founders went to raise more capital for that company, we have proven across some of the biggest cities in the world, London, New York City, Paris, Los Angeles, not only can you go out and find hosts who are super high net worth individuals, but also, if you go to a host and tell them that you can deliver hundreds of thousands or maybe a $500,000 of rental income back to them per year. We’re going to do everything and you keep 80% or 90% of it.
A lot of people that understand money, that sounds good to them. They know exactly which points of the year when it’s lower demand, they bring their families to their place and they use the damn thing for two weeks or a month or for whatever they want to do when they’re in New York City. With that business, that was interesting where getting interest in that space was easy. Onefinestay ended up getting purchased by Accor Hotel Groups. That’s how that business was exited.
The Fyre Festival could have used you guys for that.
They definitely could have used this. They could have used a lot of people’s help, to be honest with you.
It’s an awesome documentary of things that you should not do. Adrian and I are both fans of going someplace and travel and watching different documentaries now since we’re all stuck at home. Everybody knows our passion for travel too. That’s the thing. If you’re putting good teams together and you’ve got tools, having your teams help develop your tools. That’s ease for them versus ease for you a lot of times. For most entrepreneurs, their role has got to be the figurehead, the one that’s going out, beating the bushes, driving innovations, and looking back versus the development and the customer service, “Let’s fix this.”
You’re right because most founders or most business owners, your big job is to be a part of the sales creation, customer development, and the big picture idea of what it is that your business is here for all of us. Why is it here? That is what most executives need to be focused on. If you think about the pillar of process, I know we hear this all the time, but as a business owner, I do everything. If I don’t do these ten things, my business won’t run. That’s where the process part comes into play. There are so much content, books and many examples of how by taking 10, 30 minutes, one hour, a week out of your busy schedule to create living playbooks, customer journey maps and employee journey maps.
If you’re having a problem with people leaving your business, meaning, “I keep getting these great people and then they leave me six months later.” Did you look at your employee experience map because maybe it sucks? Maybe you’re not thinking about certain things that are important to your employees. Maybe you should start there. That process piece though becomes the thing that once you do it then it becomes an ongoing refinement. It’s not as crazy as it sounds, but having processes documented, understanding where people need to go to do certain things. I don’t care how big or small your business is. That’s imperative. If you’re like a three-man team, it could be a one-pager with the gospel of things that you’ve got to know about this specific business and how we operate with our customers and how we operate as a team. You could be a Fortune 500 and have tens of thousands of employees. You’re still going to have a big, robust SOP playbook that tells you exactly what’s expected of you and gets into the weeds and all the things that you need to know to perform well and to keep your job.
An important thing a lot of people struggle with is they get used to trying to Band-Aid it all together with duct tape and copper wire. They want to be their own MacGyver.
It’s easy because these days, as an entrepreneur, there are many wild ebbs and flows your way. You’re riding the highs. You’re riding the lows. You’re avoiding bombs every single damn day. I get it. It’s easy to fall into that. Even more, that’s how that process can give you some regularity to manage that circus along the way.
The thing is putting the steps in place. That then allows for you to free that up off your plate by delegating into an assistant, an employee, a virtual assistant. You can do a lot of this stuff remotely and reduce cost-wise for you to get rocking and rolling. Even if you can take 10% off now and then 15% the next day, that adds to you being able to not only be creative and not stressed out and run around like a crazy person.
Even simple tools like a Calendly. For people that haven’t started using it, for example, or use whatever scheduling tool you want. I’m a tool agnostic here. I can try to work with as many tools as possible, but how many hours a week has that saved you and your business? Probably tons.
It saves it a ton because it’s in one spot. When we do our events, we’ve got a link that saves. When you fill it out, you had your bio, you get all your information in one spot. I can forward that email to somebody or my assistant can log in and take a look at that stuff. They get all that stuff for editing. It saves us hours and hours.
I hate to say it, but one step further, maybe not for everyone, but post COVID world, that’s the type of experience. Whomever you’re working with, whether it’s one of your customers, people that is interested in your training, whether it’s someone you’re doing a deal with on the side. You’ve got a property that you’re looking at and you’re trying to get at somebody, having them be able to access your calendar, link in, logging in, and then people like Scott either get, “That’s tomorrow’s 9:00 phone call. You’re ready to roll. Here’s all the information. Here are all the details.” You didn’t do anything. The next day you have to get on the damn call and do your magic.
There are many great things out there to not only make it great for you but also you’ve talked about them. A lot of people don’t understand the customer journey. We’re doing a lot of revamping with a lot of that stuff, tweaking it. Identifying what you would want your journey to be in sitting down with your client, your customer to do it and then put it in place a little bit. They need to go from A to B to C to D, not A to J and back to B and back and forth. A confused mind is no mind that doesn’t spend any money with you.
Here’s the other thing. I’m loving that you put this one down here, Scott, but the customer journey map and the employee journey maps are relatively easy. We do a lot of customer journey mapping work at CXChronicles. We’re happy to help people, but I’ll give you the magic sauce right now, because frankly what you do with it is the hard part. What we try to do when we’re working with some of our different customers on customer journey maps is I recommend to make a living customer journey map. Force your business, force your team to do this thing, whatever you can manage. If you can do a quarterly, awesome. If you can do twice a year, great. It’s fine.
Minimally it’s once a year. You better be going back and looking at that thing and ripping it apart. If you’re telling me you have the same customer journey map right now that you did 365 days ago, I don’t believe that. We all know how fast the world moves. We’re constantly changing things every day. I’ll give you a couple of thoughts. We break down this customer journey map into a few simple buckets. Let’s go back to a pre-COVID world. You’re at your favorite conference room with your team or with your people. You’ve got your whiteboard and whomever your best white boarder is up on the board. We use a simple mapped out approach. You spread this thing across the way.
What you’re going to do is have a bunch of people kicking in ideas around how they see the day-to-day customer journey. You’re going to create a few different buckets. We start with the biggest one from your left side as awareness. Go around the team, around the table. What are all the different ways you even get somebody to be aware of the fact that your business, your product or your service offering exists? These are going to be your marketing people. These are going to be the people that typically think about the top of the funnel. You move over a little bit to the way and you put down your consideration themes. Now you’ve got awareness. You’re thinking about consideration. What are all the different parts of our customer journey for why someone even considers using us? Awareness is different from, “Scott, I might be interested in one of your training.” Now I’m considering Scott.
I’m already taking a further step down the journey map there. I’m getting a little bit closer to Scott closing a deal. After your consideration items, now you’ve got to go through all the different touchpoints that you’re thinking about your consideration. You get to conversion. This is all of our favorite product. You smell the blood in the water. You know that you’ve got maybe a new person, get a little bit closer to working with your business, working with your product, working with your service. Think about conversion in and of itself. You’ve got all of these different ways that a customer might convert. Maybe you convert them over the telephone. Maybe you convert them in a hotel lobby when you’re in a pre-COVID world when you’re doing your sales training and you could chat with someone for ten minutes and close them on the spot to get them into your next session.
Maybe it’s live chat. Maybe you have such a direct need as a business that you can close somebody for the next thing right on a chat. It could be all these different channels. After the conversion, this is the big one that’s got the people blow. I’m talking from the smallest of businesses in the world to the biggest, most well-financed companies in the world. Customer onboarding, I know that a lot of people are starting to see more and more content out there around what’s a perfect customer onboarding. How do I optimize onboarding? Onboarding is huge. I’ll keep this simple. What do you do with your brand-new customers in the first 5, 7 days, 2 weeks, 21 days? I don’t know what your business cycle is. What are you doing to make sure that you’re optimizing customer onboard? You better be doing a ton.
Most people are going to answer, “I don’t know what we’re doing with onboarding.” That’s not a good enough answer. After you get past onboarding, these are the fun parts. You’ve got your account management piece. How do you make sure that they’re constantly coming back to you? This is where you’re getting into some of your drip marketing, your drip campaigns, being friendly reminders, “I’ve got this training session coming up. I’ve got this free content that I don’t even need anything from you. Read this new thing I did. Here’s some more good stuff.” That’s the account management that keeps your customers keeping you top of mind. They’re thinking about you. Even if you’re not buying right now, they know that when they need that thing, you’re top of mind.
Customer loyalty for your best customers. The customer loyalty part, the best companies in the world, they’ve mastered this piece. Whether it’s your American Express of the world doing whatever they have to do to make sure that you don’t even think about another type of credit card offering. Whether it’s your favorite hotel that feeds you free nights or they feed you the upgrades, whatever it looks like because that’s the hotel that you’re using or airliners. Airline companies that take care of their customers because they’ve seen that Scott flies 52 weeks out of the year and Scott gets something because he does that. Those are a couple of thoughts around giving you some ideas for how you could think about building out your own customer journey within your own business or team.
The thing is in that customer experience, it does not have to be crazy expensive. We have a membership that we do. People get more excited about a sticker.
Swag like stickers and hats. People love that stuff.
A thing that a lot of people struggle with is it overwhelms them in a lot of things. I’m like, “It can get overwhelming. It can get expensive if you don’t understand the value of your clients.” As your clients grow or invest with you or work with you, that’s great. Have different levels of communication. Maybe say, “Thank you for being a part of our team or levels of stuff pop up out there. Thanks for investing with me all the time. Here’s a bottle of wine to celebrate.” It doesn’t have to be that expensive to do a lot of that stuff. A lot of times, it’s that thought that counts more than anything.
It’s thinking about the little things. It’s the little touches. I hate settles but handwritten notes or use one of the new digital services like a handwritten or something like that technically will do your handwritten notes if you do have 5,000 of them. I couldn’t agree more. Those little thoughts. Scott is getting something from Adrian. “Adrian thought about that. That’s cool.” Top of mind. You’re thinking about Adrian the next time that you need help with something.
We can sit here and talk all day, but I want to get to one of the bigger things here. You’ve got the new book out.
We are excited. When COVID hit, I had been working on this for a while leading up to that and it was right around my birthday. It was March 12th or so. I had all this work done. I was getting ready to do a New York City book launch. I was going to go back to New York. We were going to get a place in Manhattan and have all of our friends, have a bunch of people that have been on the CXChronicles Podcast and come down. We’re going to do the whole shebang. It didn’t happen. It’s been a different ball game. I’ve been doing a lot of social media types of bursts around the book. I have been super fortunate to be able to tap most of my actual network for all the different businesses or all my friends and family’s businesses out there. For anybody that has a customer-facing agent sitting inside their business have had a number of different people that have picked up a bunch of copies of the book. Share around their team.
In short, Scott, a lot of the stuff that we’re talking about, it’s right in here. This is the CX Playbook, all for success. I took all of the different things that I learned during my own customer experience leadership journey at all the businesses that I shared with the reader. We get into the weeds on teams and all sorts of different ideas around different things that you can do with your team, optimize for what we call employee experience or EX, which is going to be a huge space. A lot of CXers spent a lot of time talking about EX because on the top restaurant of businesses, Fortune 500, Fortune 1000s, these guys already are investing millions and millions of dollars, making sure that they are providing awesome employee experience because they want to keep talent where it is.
They don’t want talent moving around. We get into a bunch of different ideas around tools. I know Scott and I didn’t get into it too deep, but one of the big things that we do at CXChronicles, we’re partnered with a number of different CX oriented SaaS solutions. We work with Zendesk, we work with Freshdesk, Salesforce, HubSpot, and all of these other different tools that allow your business to think about how, when, and where do you need a CRM to manage all the different inbound customer information we have. Better yet, some of the stuff Scott and I are talking about, how do you get excellent in knowing everything about Scott, know everything about Adrian? Essentially, use each experience, each interaction or each transaction as another opportunity to further solidify the business relationship and make sure that both parties keep working with each other moving forward.
Spending a lot of time to know which tool is best for your business. Some of the businesses that I talked about that grew to over 1,000 people, you might need some robust tools like a Salesforce or Zendesk to run those. If you’re talking about some of our friends’ businesses where you’ve got ten people on the team, there’s a whole other path that you can take. Those are a lot of the things that we do with our clients at CXChronicles. We help them build what their CX and the EX roadmaps need to even look like. Not only that, we can save people a ton of money because one of the things we didn’t get into about the venture capital world is how much money they burn. That’s not Scott and Adrian’s money. That’s somebody else’s money. It’s interesting to see how that money gets spent.
Sometimes you might as well light a match to some of it.
I have seen some interesting things in my journey, whether it’s over hiring and getting a little over-ambition. “We’re going to have all this stuff, so let’s overhire.” Whether it’s the tools piece. This is probably the biggest one. This is probably one of the biggest value adds that we can give to your growing business. Don’t go and sign a $150,000 contract for a tool that’s not going to work for you 24 months later. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Let’s talk about what the goals are and what your approach is. Let’s talk about, what are you even trying to do with scaling your business before getting into it?
Here’s the thing. These SaaS companies are excellent at selling and they have built phenomenal selling machines. They know how to get people on the phone. They know how to get people super excited and how to get people to pull out the credit card real fast. Not that anything’s wrong with that. I love all of that, but for business owners and entrepreneurs who don’t know a lot about this stuff, make sure you take the time to talk to somebody who does before you get yourself into a 2 or 3-year deal especially when we don’t know what’s going to happen come Q1.
That is what has happened with Zoom. They did a great job rolling out, but they’re also great in getting people to sign up. I’ve seen a lot of people popping up, get a little frustrated on some of the customer service and then send the other little tips and tweaks. Who expected that? I wish I’d bought some stock at Zoom. Let’s talk about that. You’re doing a lot of things out there. You’re talking about sitting down and helping them on their journey and a variety of things, what’s an ideal client for you?
We work with a plethora of different venture capital and private back startups or growth-focused companies. Most of the businesses that we’re working with are either maybe they’ve raised their seed or their Series A or they’re already working on a Series B or Series C all the way up to a Series E. For some of our clients, we have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and have over 1,000 employees working at their businesses. For us, it’s that scale part that you were hitting at. When a business is about to hit their hockey stick moment, they’re about to explode in phone calls, explode in emails, explode in live chat.
Maybe you raised $15 million or $20 million on a Series B and the whole purpose of raising that is you need 40 additional inside sales team members to 40 times your sales activities. Give us a call. We can help with that. We’ve seen this built multiple times. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work. The other big part of it is being a part of what that customer journey needs to look like from the get-go so that we can put some guardrails around what’s worked at some of these businesses and what has not worked in some of these businesses.
That brings up a good point I want to ask you there with your experience and the things. If you can get away without mentioning any names, what’s been one big failure you’ve seen happen that was a surprise for you at those organizations? What was the solution to overcome that?
I’ll let me keep it generic so that I can be respectful of all past experiences. This is funny because there’s a blend of this that’s happening to some of the places that I’ve been fortunate to work out. I would say oftentimes there’s a tendency to miss the scent around where the biggest gain might be for the business. Let me be clearer. Many businesses start off thinking that maybe they’re like a B2C business or a B2C product and service offering, but then maybe a year or 18 or 24 months or $5 million later, you say, “After dealing with 5,000 B2Cs, now we realize this thing that we built. Let’s target those 100 B2Bs that are 1,000 times more valuable. They have way more money. They’re way more valuable, yet they’re going to have longer sales cycles and they’re going to be more difficult to manage. They’re going to be more difficult to close, but let’s go after them because the return is going to be so much greater.”
That’s a different thing. I’ve seen multiple times where you have these excellent products. Frankly, from a revenue curation and generation, seeing some of these businesses blow up to $5 million, $10 million, $15 million, $25 million, $50 million in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 years. Maybe you get a scent or a sniff of that B2B possibility or that B2B scope or side. Maybe the investors or the board is pushing you to say, “Why are you screwing around with all these little guys when you can appease those 100 big guys?” That gets tricky because a lot of times then you’re going with the same camp of people that was built to serve a B2C type of portfolio.
They’re super high empathy. They’re great with people. They’re awesome at service. They’re great at doing the whole nine yards around keeping people happy, keeping customers happy. Now you’re in an enterprise play. That’s a different skillset. That’s a different education. That’s different financial and mathematical knowledge altogether. You need to be able to compete and to be able to work with some of the brightest financial minds on planet Earth because that’s where a lot of those people end up. They end up at these big, massive companies where their quants and some of their analysts are super talented with being able to tell you financially and mathematically, what’s a good buy? What’s a bad buy? What’s a good customer? What’s a bad customer? That’s part of why they get big and fast.
I could see that definitely when you grow to a different level because it’s a different mindset, different client base, different pricing model when you’re going B2B versus B2C for a lot of people out there.
You’ve got to ride the wave. I’m not hating. I’m just saying that you’ve got to be careful with how you ride those waves and figuring out which seeds you’re going to send that shit out into.
What’s the best way for people to reach out to you, the best way to connect with you, Adrian?
Check us out at CXChronicles.com. We’re going to have a little bit more information about myself, more information about the services that we offer. Just like every other business in the world, every phone call and every customer conversation that I have for the day is rationing. You better be reading because you’ve got to be thinking about where the ball is going to go, not where it is right now. Check us out if you’re interested in the podcast, which to be perfectly honest, that’s the best place for your readers to learn a little bit more about me too. Check out a couple of our episodes. We have customer-focused business leaders from across the world coming on the show talking about the four CX pillars and talking about their businesses. You’ll be able to learn a lot more about some of the things that we think about, and then feel free to check out the blog too at CXChronicles or any of our social mediums. We’re on Instagram, Facebook, and we’re in all those places. CXChronicles, just google it. You will find a lot more about us and about myself.
Adrian, thanks for being on. I look forward to hanging out with you in the future somewhere. Probably a drink.
Scott, it’s been my pleasure. Thank you for having me on the show. I do appreciate it.
Thanks for being here. That’s going to wrap it up for this episode. As Adrian talked about, those four pillars are all important, but you’ve got to start with that first one. Start working your way up there and growing, realizing that all big companies have very small beginnings. Get rocking and rolling and growing in scale so that we can see you all at the top. Be safe. We’ll see you later.
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About Adrian Brady-Cesana
I have been working in Customer Experience and Service, Sales and Operations Management and Consulting for 15+ years.
Most recently I had the pleasure of working in New York with ACV Auctions, Hometeam, onefinestay, H.Bloom, and other venture capital backed leadership teams.
I’ve been thinking about, starting, building and scaling companies and internal customer facing teams my entire career. I’ve developed an in-depth understanding and appreciation for what it takes to succeed in startup and growth phase businesses as well as the importance of understanding the power of building a cohesive team focused on people, process and product to achieve scale.
I also spend much of my time working with our amazing team at CXC working with incredible clients to help them optimize the Four CX Pillars — Team, Tools, Process & Feedback! Check out my new book on Amazon today “The Four CX Pillars To Grow Your Business Now — The Customer Experience Playbook”. If you are looking for new ways to re-engage your customers & employees within your business, then grab this playbook for success!
I’ve also started several of my own companies over the years including; RPM Marketing, Property Armor LLC, Simply Travel, Maids of Manhattan, American Buddha Co, WNYCatering, WNYBnB & most recently CXChronicles, as well as the CXChronicles Podcast. I love building teams and working with customers, it’s my favorite part of the game, hands down.
Please feel free to reach out to me today — I’m always open to meeting and discussing new business opportunities and finding new connections for the future!
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