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The Personalized Experience

Release Date: February 2, 2021 • Episode #151

The CX pro has many tools at their disposal but few are as powerful than the ability to adapt to a customer’s needs quickly and deliver a positive experience. The need for personalization cannot be understated, but how do you develop the relationships required to help deliver a personalized experience that differentiates your company from the rest? Host Steve Walker welcomes Shane Murphy Reuter from Intercom to discuss the importance of personalizing the customer experience.

Shane Murphy-Reuter

Shane Murphy-Reuter
Intercom
Connect with Shane

Highlights

First-mover disadvantage

“I think there’s a few trends going on now that I think personalization is always important. And now more than ever with like the breaking down barriers for companies to set up new products and you just have a proliferation of new services spinning off to target individual specific needs. I use… the term first mover disadvantage. It’s like Henry Ford. When Henry Ford launched, he was like, you can have a model to any color you want as long as it’s black. Literally the opposite of personalization.”

Beyond the simple “transactional” experience

“B2C is a much shorter experience… B2C and consumer packaged goods, where you buy a pair of shoes and then you don’t really have a relationship. And then I think you’ve got… many B2C brands that are now creating experiences. Like actually I’m looking outside my window here. I’ve got to Traeger Grill. Traeger is basically just a barbecue, but they’ve got an app. There’s a community on there sharing recipes. So I do think actually, B2C increasingly is shifting towards more of a ongoing relationship, even for something as sort of commoditized, as a barbecue.”

Transcript

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Steve:
One of the more powerful tools in your CX arsenal is the ability to adapt to your customers' needs.

Shane:
I think personalization is always important and now more than ever. It's like breaking down barriers for companies to set up new products. And you just have a proliferation of new services springing up to target individual specific needs.

Steve:
Building relationships that deliver a personalized experience on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at Walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello everyone, I'm Steve Walker, host of The CX Leader Podcast and thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. The CX Pro has many tools at their disposal, but fewer as powerful as the ability to adapt to a customer's needs quickly and deliver a positive experience. Personalization is a practice we often preach here on The CX Leader Podcast, and its importance cannot be understated. But how do you develop the relationships required to deliver a personalized experience that differentiates your company from the rest? Well, my guest today comes from a company that specializes in building relationships through personalized messenger based experiences. Shane Murphy-Reuter is the senior vice president of marketing at Intercom, and he's going to tell us a little bit more about how to build personalization into your CX strategy. Shane, thanks for being a guest on The CX Leader Podcast.

Shane:
Thanks very much. Too great to be here. Always excited to talk about something that's dear to my heart, not only because I work at Intecom, where it's a core part of our founding story is kind of personalization and building relationships. But also I'm a marketer and, you know, marketers job really is to connect businesses with customers. So it's something I've thought about for ages, one of my 17 years into my career, something like that. So very happy to be here to chat about this.

Steve:
Well, that's a great way to start us off. I always like to give our guests a little bit of a chance to introduce themselves just to lay some context. So just let us know what your background has been and what took you on the journey to get to this position with Intercom and and kind of how you fit into the whole CX space?

Shane:
Yeah, yeah, sure. I kind of break my career up into two halves. The first half I worked in consumer marketing in London for predominantly for brands. I started with a company called Orange and and they entered sort of old school industries like TelComs, which is where Orange went and very much focused on building a brand around humans. And so at the time, in Orange or in the market, telecoms is all about the technology and very much a B2B product. And they launched and took over twenty five percent of the market very quickly by creating a brand all by humans. And so the first half of my career was all about that human connection and building brands. And then the second half I flipped completely towards the technology side and I joined a company called Paddy Power in Ireland. And I was head of digital marketing and learned the power of how technology could really bring you closer to the right person at the right time. And and then went on to Agrella, which was a company that does digital marketing, which is all about personalization, marketing as well. Now at Intercom, where Intercom's founding principle was, how do you bring customers closer to the business. And so I've kind of spent most of my career either thinking about human connections for more of the brand perspective, I actually had you connect with them emotionally and then the second half around how to use technology to put those messages to connect and encourage the customer to connect to the businesses with the customer. So it's been fascinating to see it from both those angles.

Steve:
So why don't you tell us just a little bit about Intercom and also kind of how the field of play has changed for building relationships with customers, you know, with with the advent of some of the new technology?

Shane:
Yeah, well, Intercom's founding story, which is probably being told over a million times by now, the founders were in a coffee shop or used to frequent a coffee shop in Dublin called 3fe, and 3fe built an incredible brands, mainly through just having these incredible connections with the customer. The customer come in, they serve coffee, they create a real sense of community. And so the founders were like, how do we do that with businesses, online businesses that seem so, online businesses divorced from the customer. It's like actually, do you think about it most of the time you go to online businesses, those barriers put up between communicating for the customer to communicate with the business. You've got these terrible contactless forms, email as a tool as email was invented in, I want to say, the seventies. And it's still our primary form into the way that we communicate with our customers is just ridiculous. And and so they decided to develop technology that would bring the customer closer to the business. And the early incarnation of that was very simply live chat. And so, yeah, why don't we just like, allow our customers to talk to us in the product when they're doing the thing that they're trying to solve right, like they're trying to send their bill and the product. Why don't you just let them ask questions there and then? And so most people probably going to come for that little bubble in the right hand side of that many, many Web sites across the Internet. And Intercom is the original one of those bubbles. There are other ones out there now. We'd obviously argue and certain sites that you two would say that we are still the best. And because we've just maniacally focused on how to build the capabilities of and having that real estate in the product where the customer is doing the things they want to be doing, as opposed to email, which is an outside of the product.

Steve:
You know, again, your your background fascinates me because, you know, I certainly came at it more from the pure market research side. But just like marketing kind of early on in my career, it really couldn't be siloed. It had it had to be pervasive throughout the whole organization. That's really what I think CX has become today. And to your point, with B2B, it's a little harder to create sort of an image in B2B because the use or the experience with the product or service tends to not be as transactional. So but in some of the B2B stuff, you know, you've got these ongoing relationships. So just talk a little more about why personalization is so important in these more complex relationships.

Shane:
Yeah, I think I think there's a few trends going on now that I think personalization is always important. And now more than ever with like the breaking down barriers for companies to set up new new products and you just have a proliferation of new services spinning off to target individual specific needs. I use the example of I use the term first mover disadvantage. It's like Henry Ford. When Henry Ford launched Great Guy, he was like, you can have a model to any color you want as long as it's black. Literally the opposite of personalization, right? Sadly, dear Henry. Now, Ford, I like there's so niche that maybe the most niche car company where they're just doing trucks, whatever. Right. And what happened there was that, hey, there wasn't a huge amount of technology for Ford. Right. All these other car brands set up and started targeting more specific niches within the market. You want to go driving your family up the hills, you've got a Subaru. You want to, like, have a status symbol that goes fast, you buy a Porsche. You have over time what happens is that markets fragment into niche and tailored services for individual types of customers. And that happens as well. You know, even if I look at Intercom, you know, we were the we were the Henry Ford of the Messenger. Right. As I described. And the big risk for a company like Intercom is that and this has happened, you know, there is a company called Aidi who all they do is automation for e-commerce specifically, and that's what their brand is about. We would argue our technology is still better, but because they're able to tailor their experience to e-commerce customers, they look and feel like they're more tailored. And so, OK, so with all that context line, like what's how do you how do you stop that? And and you do that through personalization. You can't have a generic brand. You can't have a brand that is just sort of and one experience for all different customer types. If you do that, you end up in Henry Ford's territory. What you need to do is use technology and market research and everything to do understand, OK, what are the key different customer personas, if ever you want to call them that we want to build a great relationship with. And how do we use technology to ensure that they got a personal experience so they feel like, oh, yeah, this is a brand that really speaks to me and my specific needs. And so that's kind of like the how I think about the background to it. And as I said, there's many technologies out there that can help particularly Intercom and with allowing you tailor your experience by persona.

Steve:
Personalization is something that we've taken a look at. We did a study in 2013 that predicted how it would evolve from an experience standpoint for B2B. And our biggest finding from that study is that B2B customers were leveraging their B2C experiences. So in 2013, I think you could call an Uber at that point, Netflix was just starting to emerge and yet you couldn't track your package for your business or some of those other things. So, you know, personalization I think is something that is going to continue. And I love your description of how markets kind of break into these submarkets that really not not a Henry Ford can't play in every one of them, so they basically shut the incumbent out by focusing so much on the smaller niche there that you described. But is B2B still trailing B2C in in these respects, in your opinion?

Shane:
Yeah, I think it's harder to to your point previously, B2C is a much shorter experience. But what I need be careful B2C consumer packaged goods right where you buy a pair of shoes and then you don't really have a relationship. And then I think you've got you do have many B2C brands that are now creating experience like actually I'm looking at outside my window here. I've got to Traeger Grill. Traeger is basically just a barbecue, but they've got an app. There's a community on there sharing recipes. So I do think actually, B2C increasingly is shifting towards more of a ongoing relationship, even for something as sort of commoditized, as barbecue. So overall, I actually think the world is B2C and B2B are coming closer because of our ongoing relationship. And so I of say that answer your actual question is B2B trailing: I think this is going to sound harsh. I do for a number of reasons. One, I actually think B2B marketing overall is a much newer discipline than in consumer with less and probably less historical seat at the table on the executive team. Like when I worked in consumer, the marketing team ran the P&L, they ran product… Like it was marketing that it.

Steve:
Yup.

Shane:
B2B a lot of the time in certain companies and I've been fortunate enough not to work for the marketing is very much the same as they generate the leads sales on the P&L. They're the they're the most important person or team on the go to market side. There has been a shift, though, and one of my favorite marketers is Bill Macaitis. And, you know, I think he's a good example of something. He was CMO, Zendesk, then Salesforce and Slack made this unbelievable career and he took a huge amount about the need for a B2B business is making sure that all of the executives and the functions within the business own the brand experience. And I think at Slack he actually also runs sales for an example, would be they brought in for the sales team and essentially they were comped on NPS as well as the amount of revenue they brought in to protect the experience that the customer was having with the sales team. And that's an example. I'd like to answer your question. Same with that problem, isn't there? There's like one team managing experience on the B2B side. You've got the product experience, you've got the sales experience you've got, and then you've got marketing reaching out to the customer. There's a massive risk of that experience as a result, becoming very splintered and inconsistent. And so I think, yeah, in B2B, the even the idea of having somebody solely responsible for the customer experience is not very common. Whereas in B2C companies in Orange, actually we had a very senior person and their sole job was customer experience. You're having a bit of an AHA moment, which is it's probably more needed to B2B, to be honest, that B2C. And we don't really have that, you know.

Steve:
Yeah, I think your your perspective, it's you know, it's probably not an either or B2B or B2C, it's it's really more a spectrum of how much the relationship is ongoing. And even your example of the grille Traeger, you know, they're kind of reinventing the category is as more of an experience. Right. And and we see that all the time. I mean, you mentioned earlier like coffee, you know, 25 or 30 years ago, coffee was not an experience in the US. It was you know, you bought the cheapest cup you could find and hurried on down the road. But, you know, it's become almost more of a lifestyle type of thing. So and I think this is key for, you know, particularly B2B marketers, because they've already kind of got a they've got a leg up because they they do have all these different touch points. And actually, there's probably a downside to that, too, is that, you know, if they're off track with their customer experience, it's going to go on for a while. And, you know, they do have this ongoing relationship.

Steve:
I want to take a moment to tell you about Walker's new report, Next-level CX for B2B Companies, which focuses on helping B2B companies rise to the next level of their CX excellence. Walker collaborated with the Qualtrics XM Institute and discovered some insightful conclusions about CX maturity and how B2B is performing compared to B2C. Download the report for free today at cxleaderpodcast.com/nextlevelcx.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week is Shane Murphy-Reuter, he's the senior VP of marketing at Intercom, a company that provides personalized messenger based experiences. And we've been having a fascinating dialog about how to leverage technology to create the kind of brand and experience you want your customers to have. Can you just give us an example of where personalization really went well or maybe alternatively where personalization just isn't done, done at all?

Shane:
And yeah, from the Intercom perspective, I think a good example would have been, take COVID. It's the most recent COVID issue, you call it. You know, brands certainly had a huge need to deal with customers at scale in a very personal way because two things are happening. One, the number of inbound queries a lot of brands were getting was going through the roof. If you were travel company companies, the most extreme, you are obviously getting a huge amount of inbound blogging people asking questions around what's going on with flight and all of that. And so you had one where you had you had volume increasing significantly and then at the same time, you had those customers. There was a lot of emotion involved, right? There was a lot of like stress wanting a very good personal experience so as to kind of like make them feel better. Right. And historically, I think it's sort of like the volume and experience have very much been in contradiction. Right. It's very difficult to do person on volume at the same time. And Intercom's philosophy is very much that online businesses can move to almost like our banks have moved to a world where ATMs can handle sort of the roads. You want to just take out money, you want to change your pin or whatever to an ATM. But if you've got a more sort of challenging problem, you walk into the bank and you have a truly personal experience. And so that's a big philosophy, that income has their own technology. And so a lot of our customers will use automation to chop off essentially to at first the target the customer. If we have data about the customer and you can set up different parts to ask different questions depending upon where the customer is in the product or what type of customer it is. And and the best thing about that chat board is that technology has limitations. You can only predict so much what you think the customer experience and the customer experience that the customer wants. And let them tell you, let the chatbot triage it. It's like, hey, what's your problem? Here it is. OK, cool. Yeah, we need it. We'll put you in touch with this specialist over here. And so a lot of our customers start implementing around the COVID time our chat bots to triage the questions up front. If you could answer it like an ATM. We're just like that. Here is the answer. If not, get you really quickly to the exact right person to answer your question. And so that's a good example of where you're using a combination of technology to target the right customer, but not overreliant on it, then use the chalkboard, sort of triage it and then get them in the hands of the right person to answer the question. And that allows you to do these personal experiences at scale in a way that other technology just doesn't.

Steve:
You keep making me think about our 2013 study and we identified personalization is one aspect, but you mentioned the other two just in that description. One is speed. So you said, get it, get them to the right person quickly. And then you also talked about making it easy for the customer. So, you know, maybe just with your background and with your kind of technology bent, how would you see those three playing off of each other in a in a CX situation, personalization, speed and being easy to do business with?

Shane:
Yeah, the biggest thing that I would say is we need to, like, kill email. I'm sorry. Let's just get rid of it like it is. As I said, it was invented like the seventies. It's just a terrible tool. And marketers that we are and marketing CX people are just so I don't know, we're still like holding onto it. It's an awful tool and it's not in the app like it's not in there. It's like I use a story, like I went into a store and I was like, hey, do you have these jeans in a size forty two? And they're like, yeah, we sent the answer to your house in a letter and then you can leave the store, go out and read it and come back into the store. And so the first thing I'd say is let's kill email. And I'm talking very much like certain industries. Right. I'm about to say move the experience to where the customer is. Right. So I'm mainly talking about on the. If the person is on your website or in your app, give them the ability to ask the questions there, then or even better, and your customers can look at this. We recently launched this concept of the conversational support funnel and where essentially the idea is that you have proactive outreach. So you use your targeting to think, well, what might the customer… problem like the customer, have here. you actually send them a note before or message in the app before they have the problem. And so, for example, we know in telecoms where people get their bill, they're always confused by the bill. So why don't you just reach out and say, hey, check out this way to explain your bill. Then if the proactive outreach doesn't solve the problem, use automation to answer the other questions. So put in your app and some sort of chat about our technology like a help center to the customer. Just answer the simple ones and only then. So you've come to that stage more than 50 percent of the questions. Only then do you need to actually get them to talk to a human. And we found that not only is that the best experience for the agents of the customer on the business side, and because you have fewer things to answer and it's also better customer experience. Customers don't want to talk to somebody. Most of the time they just want to get their answer like that. And only if it's really a hairy problem do they want to talk to somebody. And so, yeah, like your readers, if they do a conversation with support from an Intercom, they can see your whole concept of this like proactive, proactive, and if that doesn't work, automated and then a human really at the end.

Steve:
Well, Shane, we've reached that part of the The CX Leader Podcast where I ask all of our guests to give their take home value so that our listeners can take the best tip that you've got and take it back to their office still this afternoon or tomorrow or next Monday and actually go ahead and improve what they're doing for their customers experiences. So, Shane, what's your best tip for our CX pros out there?

Shane:
My best tip is to stop using email as your primary form of communication, bring the experience in the app, communicate with them there where they want to solve their problems. So that's my big tip. And yeah, let's just destroy email.

Steve:
Shane, thanks for being a guest on the The CX Leader Podcast this week. Fascinating discussion. Really appreciate it.

Shane:
Thanks, Steve. It's great to be here.

Steve:
Hey, and if anybody would want to continue the dialog with you, they find you on LinkedIn?

Shane:
Yeah, LinkedIn is great. Also Twitter to relatively active on there. I'm @shaneMurfy, on Twitter. The "ph" was taken. So that's me.

Steve:
If you want to talk about anything else you heard on this podcast about how Walker can help your business' customer experience, feel free to email me at a podcast@walkerinfo.com. Be sure to check out our website, cxleaderpodcast.com, to subscribe to the show and find all of our previous episodes. They're also organized by podcast series and subject. And we have a contact information. You can even drop us a note if you have an idea for a future podcast or let us know how we're doing. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker. We're an experienced management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at Walkerinfo.com. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you again next time.

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