Episode 276

podcast photo thumbnail



Think about how you build out journey maps or of journey maps you’ve seen if that isn’t something your agency does. They chart out how a potential customer goes from not being aware of the product or service to the point of purchase. Typically, we’re building this journey map to coincide with our work in helping our clients increase their sales. In that way, it makes sense that the map would end at the sale. That’s our job is to get them to that point. But the customer’s experience has really just begun. The real journey begins once you’re in a relationship with the customer and how you nourish and grow the trust and connection with the client moving forward.

The opportunity for our agencies is to help our clients beyond the initial sale. What if our agency also engaged in helping clients build stronger, more resilient relationships with their customers? That’s some very profitable work for us and a lasting value for our clients.

As a certified customer experience professional, Jeannie Walters is an expert on this exact topic. An educator and consultant that comes from the agency world, she has a real passion for improving customer experiences and she’s here to share some insights that will help you serve your clients even better.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jeannie and I dive into the changes in customer relations that were inspired by the pandemic and how companies were forced to evolve in order to survive. We also talk about how the entire supply chain process has come front and center, as well as the continuing need to be innovative, even though the stakes aren’t as high as they were during the pandemic.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Customer experience

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to get your clients to think bigger
  • The need for a customer experience mission in your agency
  • Ways to improve journey mapping
  • The difference between the buyer’s journey and the customer’s journey
  • Why communication is key to the customer experience
  • The way the customer experience differs in a B2B environment versus a B2C environment
  • How to get your whole agency on the same page regarding the expectations of the customer experience
  • How to use a customer experience success statement to measure what is being done right
  • The important of including the billing process in the review of your customer journey
  • How to spot and utilize “micro-moments” to create surprises that delight customers
“The journey of the customer experience doesn’t end with the sale. That’s just where the journey begins.” @jeanniecw @expinv Click To Tweet “If you hear someone say, ‘because it’s always been done that way’, flip the table over because that’s how dramatically we have to resist that idea. ” @jeanniecw @expinv Click To Tweet “Customer experience isn’t just paying attention to the relationship a customer has with a brand but the whole ecosystem around it.” @jeanniecw @expinv Click To Tweet It’s not really about the product or the service, it’s about something greater.” @jeanniecw @expinv Click To Tweet “Businesses don’t hire us. People hire us.” @jeanniecw @expinv Click To Tweet “Every leader who wants to run an organization that is client centric needs to talk the talk a lot, and, more importantly, walk the walk.” @jeanniecw @expinv Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Jeannie Walters:

Additional Resources:

Quick links for Jeannie’s Linkedin Learning courses. Here you go, in no particular order:

Speaker 1 (00:01):

Welcome to the agency management Institute community, where you’ll learn how to grow and scale your business, attract and retain the best talent. Make more money and keep more of what you make. The build a better agency podcast presented by white label. IQ is packed with insights on how small to mid-size agencies survive and thrive in today’s market. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency, owner and agency consultant. Please welcome your host, drew McLellan. Hey, everybody

Speaker 2 (00:32):

Drew McLellan here from agency management Institute. Welcome to another episode of build a better agency as always. I am incredibly grateful that you carve out the time to hang out with me every week. So thank you very much for that. Please don’t think that I ever take that for granted. I know how busy you all are and, uh, I am, I’m thrilled and it’s a privilege to be a part of your regular activities every week. So whether we are walking your dog or we’re on the treadmill together, or you are, uh, sitting on a cozy couch, however, we are sharing this hour together, uh, please know that I am grateful. So thanks for, thank you very much for tuning in. So, uh, the topic today is one that, um, I think is often overlooked in terms of opportunities for us as agencies to create more revenue for ourselves and it create an incredible value for our clients.

Speaker 2 (01:34):

So I’m hoping that, uh, this triggers some new opportunity ideas for you before I tell you a little bit about our guest, of course, uh, I want to tell you about something that’s happening inside the AMI world. Hopefully by now, you know that, uh, we are going to be the host of the build a better agency summit in August of 2021. Uh, it’s going to be it’s my third attempt. So third time’s the charm to try and host a conference that is built just for you for small to mid-sized agency owners. And when I say small to mid-sized, I mean, maybe you have one employee, maybe you have 20 employees, maybe you have 50, maybe a hundred, but probably for most of you, it’s, you know, 50 or less. Um, that’s my definition of small to midsize. And right now there’s no conference out there for you teaching you how to build and solidify and protect and scale the business side of your business.

Speaker 2 (02:35):

And so that’s what we’re going to spend two days talking about, and we have amazing speakers who are going to talk about everything from getting your agency in tip-top shape. So if you decide to sell it, you can get a maximum return on that to, uh, BizDev strategies to, uh, dealing with diversity inside your agency, the diversity issues to imposter syndrome and all kinds of other things. We’re going to talk about how to build your wealth outside the business, uh, in real estate, we’re going to talk about some HR issues. We’ve got it covered. We have so many presenters in so many different formats, so we’re going to have keynote speakers. We’re going to have breakout speakers, but we’re also going to have round table speakers where you’re you and six to 10 other agency owners are going to sit with a subject matter expert and have a very personal conversation around the topic of their expertise.

Speaker 2 (03:30):

So we have, we have, I think covered a lot of topics that are of great interest to you. And I know you’re going to leave those that conference. Those two days of being together, feeling excited, having new ideas, making some new friends, and also just feeling like you are not in this alone, that you are a part of the AMI community and that it is powerful to hang out with other agency owners and leaders and learn from them and be a teacher and share what you know, that there’s great. It’s a great gift to have that and that you can do it in a non-competitive safe environment where you don’t have to be watching your back, uh, that everyone is really, truly there to learn and to help each other learn. So I hope that you join us. You can buy your tickets now on the agency management Institute website, uh, when you get to the website in the upper left corner of the navigation, it’s going to say BA BA summit.

Speaker 2 (04:33):

So build a better agency summit, click on that, and you can grab your ticket. So I hope to see you there. Uh, I think we are all going to be very hungry, uh, by August to be in a room full of people who walk the same walk that we do and that we can have meaningful conversations and make connections and of course, throw darts, uh, while we drink. So I think all of that’s going to be Jim dandy. So I hope you join us. So let me tell you a little bit about, uh, this week’s episode and this week’s guest. I believe that many agencies miss the Mark when we are working with clients, when we’re putting together a marketing plan that a lot of times, and I think a lot of many times this is dictated by the client, but I think a lot of times we sort of stop at the point of the sale.

Speaker 2 (05:24):

And rather than thinking through that customer experience and the journey mapping just up to the sale, I think in some ways that’s just the beginning of the journey and that the real journey begins when we get into a relationship with a customer. And now it’s about fortifying and amplifying and enriching that relationship over multiple transactions over multiple months and years. And I think we, as agencies are uniquely qualified to help clients figure that out and to build a customer experience that surprises and delights, uh, their customers that makes their customers feel loved and appreciated and generates repeat purchases, word of mouth referrals, all of the good things that we know that come out of happy customers. So I think this is a super important topic. So I invited Jeannie Walters to join us. And Jeannie is the CEO and founder of a company called the experience investigators and Jeannie is the real deal.

Speaker 2 (06:33):

So she is, uh, an international speaker. She has done a TEDx talk. She, uh, LinkedIn invited her to create, uh, multiple courses in their learning environment. So she is, uh, she is an expert on this and she comes from our world from the agency world. So she can speak to this from the agency perspective and I’ve known Jenny for years. And, um, she is incredibly intelligent, uh, super articulate speaks in a way that you can understand what she’s talking about. And she has such a passion for empowering customer experiences. And, uh, she really believes that this can be the game changer for brands. And I, I’m going to say to you, I think after you hear her talk for a little bit, you are going to be a true believer as well because she, she teaches from the heart and what she knows in her experience has been, and she’s going to help all of us think about not only how we can do this for our clients, but also how we should be thinking about it from our own perspective as agency owners and leaders, how do we create a customer experience for our clients that is second to none, and that makes our clients feel like they couldn’t imagine slogging through business without us by their side.

Speaker 2 (08:03):

So without further ado, I want to introduce you to Jeannie and I want to get, I want to start digging into her expertise so you can absorb as much of it as you can in this time. All right. All right. Without further ado, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us. Thank you

Speaker 3 (08:18):

So much for having me. I’m thrilled to be with you drew,

Speaker 2 (08:21):

You know, we were saying before we hit the record button, you and I have known each other for a long time, and I don’t know why I didn’t think sooner. So I’m glad we finally got around to introducing you to the audience. Cause I know they’re going to love hearing from you about the whole idea of customer experience. So can you give everybody a sense of, uh, your background and how you came to have this, this vast knowledge on this?

Speaker 3 (08:48):

Thanks. Sure. Yeah. I, nobody goes to kindergarten and tells their teacher they’re going to grow up to be a customer experience consultant. So we all have kind of a jagged path here, but so did you go with like cowgirl? Yeah, I think I went through a doctor phase. I went through a couple of phases, but I, you know, started my background, you know, right after college, I was in fundraising consulting and then I was in traditional marketing and it was really in that marketing role that I realized that, you know, things were changing. This was kind of what I call the Dawn of the big internet, which is when big companies started realizing they needed more than just brochureware for a website they needed for people to actually do things right. And I was working with the Allstate insurance, one of the largest insurance companies out there, and they were, they announced that they were going to be the first ones to have online quoting and online purchase.

Speaker 3 (09:42):

And it’s such a no brainer now. But back then, that was a huge move because they always have middlemen before they always have brokers or agents. And so it was during that project that, um, my partner, who was my brother, uh, he and I kind of looked around and said, this is different. This is more than marketing. This is about an entire experience with the customer. And we really put a stake in the ground and changed how we operated and how we positioned ourselves. And then in 2009, I started this company on my own. And really, because I started seeing how social media was breaking down those barriers between customers and brands and how that was changing the game. And so I’ve just kind of been watching the evolution of this and hanging on and making sure that I am constantly learning and growing. And now there are credentials, you know, I’m a CCSP, which is a certified customer experience professional. So it’s really grown as a profession and I’ve been really honored to be a part of it.

Speaker 2 (10:43):

I know you’re not going to tell us this, but you’re sort of in the top of the heap of people who know this, I mean, you, LinkedIn has asked you to be an instructor. You’ve gotten all kinds of awards. So I’m curious from your sort of position of like you, you’ve known this and done this for a long time. What did you notice? So we are recording this at the tail end of December, 2020. So we have, we have endured the pandemic for almost a year now. What did you notice about the customer experience in relation to the pandemic?

Speaker 3 (11:15):

That’s a great question. And I think it’s something that like, most things we could not have predicted, right? We could not have predicted what the pandemic would have done, but essentially I think it did a couple of things. One is brands that had announced their digital transformation plans that were going to take three to five years. They turn those things around in about eight weeks, right? And it’s because they realized that there was going to be no other way to serve their customers. So I think it showed what’s possible in that regard where if you decide that this is right for the customer and for your brand, you can make it happen on the flip side of that. Customers have totally different expectations now about what is possible as well. And a lot of customers who never dreamed of shopping online and picking up their groceries, curbside, all of a sudden they’re doing that every week and they’re thinking, wow, this is pretty easy.

Speaker 3 (12:11):

I’m going to keep doing this after the pandemic. So I think we’re going to see a lot of those expectations continue even after we kind of get back to where we can all shop when and how we want. Um, and then the other thing I’d say about that is that we’ve also all had a lesson in things like supply chain management. You know, when, when you go to the grocery store and there’s no toilet paper, suddenly you understand the supply chain. And I think that customer experience is really paying attention to not just the interactions that a customer has with the brand, but also the whole ecosystem around that. How are we supporting our partners? How are we making sure our suppliers have what they need so that we can deliver to our customers? It’s becoming a much bigger conversation, which I think is really important.

Speaker 2 (12:56):

Yeah. One of the things I think that we all realized was we get in our own way a lot. So as you were saying, these digital transformations that they were projecting, we’re going to take two years when their back was against the wall. And it was either we get it done or we don’t make any money. All of a sudden, the two year project, there was no politics. There was no committee meetings. There was no 12, you know, versions of review. It was get it up and get it going. I think we learned to be scrappy in a lot of ways.

Speaker 3 (13:27):

I totally agree. I totally agree. And I think the other part of that is, you know, I have seen a lot of, I tend to be a very optimistic person and sometimes that gets in my way, but I will say that a lot of times with clients, I’m kind of pushing them to think bigger about customer experience because they, they think about it in these little incremental ways of how can we improve this just to smudge. And I want them to think like, what could we do to change the game? Because that’s really where you see this amazing innovation. And I think that’s what I saw with all these companies who are able to turn things around so quickly people really thinking in bigger, more innovative ways and willing to, to take that first step, even if it wasn’t perfect because we know that we can keep iterating, we can keep moving, we can keep improving. And so I think that was really exciting to see. And that’s a weirdly positive outcome out of this year, I think. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (14:22):

So the necessity in 2020 forced people to think bigger and think in ways that they pro like no one had ever done it that way before and they’ve thought of it and they executed on it. So we’ve all probably experienced that both in our own agencies, we all had to figure out how to serve our clients differently. We helped our, our clients serve their customers differently. So we, we all thought bigger cause we had to, right. So how do we not lose the ability to think bigger when the stakes aren’t what they were during the pandemic?

Speaker 3 (14:58):

Uh, I love this question. What a good question. So I think there are a couple of things that we tend not to do. And one is we tend not to push change. And what I mean by that is, you know, sometimes I do a lot of work around customer journey mapping, which is really understanding what is the actual experience that your customer is having with your brand? Not the one you think they’re happy having, but the one they’re actually having. And a lot of times, you know, we’ll be doing an exercise and everybody says, Oh yeah, that’s a terrible, everybody hates that process. Every our customers complain about it all the time. Uh, but everybody in our industry does it that way. Worst answer ever worst answer ever because, and I joke about it, but when I leave workshops and stuff, I say, if you hear somebody say, because it’s always been done that way, flip the table over because that’s how dramatically we have to resist that idea.

Speaker 3 (15:49):

So, you know, when we do journey mapping exercises, one of the things I challenge and I challenge agency owners, because this would be a great exercise is, think about what if your industry didn’t exist? Or what if you were the guys who decided we’re going to disrupt this industry? What would that look like? Yes, exactly. Because you look back on all the disruptors, this is what they did. They thought, what if you know cabs, weren’t a thing, right? What if we could figure all this stuff out without all of the things that we hate about all of these processes and journeys. And so that’s what I encourage people to do is like once a year, disrupt yourself, disrupt your industry, disrupt. However you can, because if you’re doing that to yourself, then you’re going to stay ahead of the people who are, are actively looking to do that right now in your industry. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (16:44):

So as agencies, how do we help our clients think in that bigger way? Are, are there questions to ask or are there, is there an exercise maybe that you teach that gets people to put aside the bias? I think it’s so hard to unknown what we know and to forget what is the norm? How do you help people do that?

Speaker 3 (17:05):

Well, I think that with so many industries and agencies have been around a long time now, there are certain paradigms that we all subscribe to. Right. But what we don’t always do is give everybody in an agency, the empowerment to really connect with the client or the customer, even if they’re not what we would call customer facing, we still need them to be connected emotionally to what are we trying to do for our customers? So one of the things that I’m a huge proponent on for any organization is to have a customer experience mission. And this is about documenting, what do we want on behalf of our customers? What, how will we show up for our, no matter where they are on the journey, no matter, you know, what kind of customer they are, if they’re big or small, how are we going to show up?

Speaker 3 (17:56):

And what’s most important and it’s really aligning those values with your organization. And then I like to use it too, to really figure out, is this a good fit? I mean, we talk about that in the agency world a lot, right? Like sometimes you got to fire the customer and all that. And I think this can really help align those values and say, you know what? We want this for you. And if the customer agrees that that’s exactly what we want to, it makes everything a little easier. Cause you can lean on that a little bit and say, are we really living up to the mission here? Are we really doing this on behalf of you as our customer and your customers and everybody in the organization has to really key into that because otherwise they feel disenfranchised. They don’t feel like they’re part of it. And we tend to in agencies kind of lift up the creatives, right? Like they’re the woo. And, but you know what, the people who are sending out invoices might have more interactions with your customers than those people. So also looking at what are the interactions that we have and how can we improve those individual touch points that really can go a long way too, but empower your people to think about it, empower every single person in your organization to understand what the customer experience mission is and then how to deliver on it.

Speaker 2 (19:14):

Can you think of a client or a company that you think has a great customer experience mission?

Speaker 3 (19:21):

There are several that I love. Um, one of the things that I look for, and this is, this is kind of the paradigm that I subscribed to is it’s not really about the product or the service. It’s about something greater. So if you look at the Ritz Carlton, for instance, their mission is about life’s journeys. It’s about showing up for people during life’s journeys. They don’t talk about hotels. They don’t talk about resorts, same thing with Southwest airlines. They talk about this idea of service and the capitalized customer service, um, with a sense of company spirit. And so it’s really about connecting, not just what your customers are looking for as far as a product or service, but what are they going to do? How are they going to live their best life with that? And I’d like to also look for words that are emotionally charged because we can’t be all things to all people.

Speaker 3 (20:11):

And so we have to figure out who are we going to be and how do we show up like that? And so the mission of my company is to create fewer ruined days for customers. That’s it, it’s not even a full sentence. And the way we use that is we introduce it to all of our prospects and clients, everybody we interview, we talk to them about it. I start every staff meeting with it. So it’s really part of who we are, because what I want to know is if we take on this client, are we really going to be helping them create fewer ruin days for their customers? And if the answer is no, then we’re going to rethink that. We might not take that on. And if we do, we might have to redefine that a little bit to make sure that it’s living up to those values. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (20:56):

Makes total sense. You were talking about a journey mapping. Do you think most people, because as you know, a lot of agencies do journey mapping, do you think we do it wrong? Or is there, are we missing because there was something you said that made me think, Oh, she thinks that most people don’t do this quite right. So what are we missing in journey map?

Speaker 3 (21:17):

Wow. I hope I don’t get in trouble with this one. I think a lot of times agencies and marketing groups and folks like that are very focused on the end game of the sale. And a lot of organizations show me what they think is a customer journey map, but it’s really the buyer’s journey. Um, and it literally ends at the buy. Uh, if you look at how business people in general have been educated, how traditional business plans are set up, we don’t talk about it. We talk about acquisition a lot. We talk about marketing. We talk about branding. We get to, how are we going to get all these customers in the door? And then we kind of move on to backend operations. And I think that we have to spend a lot more time looking at the end to end journey from awareness before they even know they need you all the way through to either when they leave you or when they are your biggest advocates. And the more you can explore that, then you’re going to see more opportunities to deliver these moments of delight. You’re going to see opportunities where, you know, what, if we tweaked this just a little bit, we would actually have so many fewer complaints, you know, think about how many. And I know like in, in smaller organizations, sometimes we have that one poor person where we’re like, Oh, send it to Shirley. Shirley’s got the complaints, right? They all go to her inbox and it’s up to her seriously. Surely needs a break,

Speaker 2 (22:46):

Probably a raise.

Speaker 3 (22:49):

And a lot of times, surely isn’t even remotely close to the client side, right? Like they’re the admin or they’re the whatever. And so I think figuring out, you know, what, what is the journey that we want to deliver for our customers? Then you can start looking at those things that come in that are complaints and, and evaluate, what did we do here that didn’t deliver on that? How can we introduce best practices? How can we have more processes on the backend that really will consistently deliver the type of experience we want? So journey mapping is a whole big thing. Um, that’s one of my, I actually have two courses on LinkedIn about journey mapping that are, um, all about this idea because it’s, it really is a great, great tool, but you have to use it as a tool.

Speaker 2 (23:32):

So what I’m hearing you say is we don’t actually map out the entire journey. We map out the first quarter of the journey because hopefully they’ll stick around and be a customer for a long time. So they actually, the post purchase journey should be a lot longer than the pre purchase journey.

Speaker 3 (23:50):

You are absolutely correct. Yes. Because you really want to figure out, uh, what happens when they are happy and continue on, how do we treat those customers? If we treat everybody the same, are we missing opportunities? You know, we have an ironically the more invested a customer is where they are emotionally connected to your brand. The more risky it is when they are disappointed. And I’m sure, you know, we’ve all experienced this on both ends, right? Where people say, you know, I’ve been a customer for X number of years. I can’t believe I’m being treated this way because they are just devastated that the trust that they put in the brand is not being lived up to. And so I think, you know, really figuring out, especially in agencies where you want those long-term relationships, how can we guide people through that? How can we guide brands through that and our clients through that in a way that makes sense for that longterm vision that we have.

Speaker 2 (24:46):

Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. One of the workshops that I teach at, one of the things I talk about is, uh, you know, we do a lot of research with people who hire agencies. And one of the things that comes up over and over again is a lot of times clients fire us because they don’t feel like we love them that much anymore. And to paraphrase what they say is they used to bring me flowers all the time and candy, and now I don’t even get flowers on our anniversary, let alone on a Tuesday. Right? Like it’s like, I don’t matter that much anymore. And again, that’s because I think those agencies haven’t mapped out. How do we continue to nurture and love and appreciate those clients long after they’ve been clients?

Speaker 3 (25:28):

Yeah, I totally agree. And one of the things I talk about is that Bruno Mars song, you know, I used to hold my hand, used to give me flowers. I wish I had the chance, you know, to do that again. But the opposite of love is not hate it’s neglect. Right. And so much of what we do when we have long-term relationships, it becomes neglectful and customers feel the same way. I mean, we, we want to feel special all the time. And so I think it’s really an important point and something that is often overlooked. And I think that’s why I’ve seen in my own experience. I’ve seen a lot of agencies who are shocked and horrified when they find out that their client is shopping. Right. They’re like, Oh my gosh, we are renewals next month. What do you mean? This is crazy. And it’s like, but they didn’t call for six months or they didn’t show up.

Speaker 2 (26:18):

And then they pour on the love. Right. That’s right. And so then the client’s like, Oh, I get it. I need to, I need to act like I’m going to break up with you to be important to you. And now you’ve got a whole different problem on your hands.

Speaker 3 (26:31):

That’s right. That’s exactly right. So it’s the journey mapping and really understanding your client’s specific journey is just such a powerful tool. Not only for, you know, creating those great experiences that we want to for our clients, but getting the business results, we want to, those things are connected. And that’s the other part is this is not a soft exercise. Customer experience is not a trend. I’ve heard that. And I’m like, really? Cause it’s always happening. Your customers are having experiences, whether you call it that or not. So I think that there’s so much potential for really leaning in to some of these tools because you’ll be ahead of your competition. No doubt.

Speaker 2 (27:09):

You know, and as I’m, as I’m listening to you and nodding my head, you know, this is for us as agency owners and leaders. This is important for us to think about, uh, for our own business, but it’s also important for us to help our clients think about it because we’re often the ones doing the journey mapping and sort of helping them sort of figure out what are the touch points. And so this is a huge sort of light bulb we can turn on for them, that they can understand that the journey basically begins when the customer makes that purchase. And now, how do you, how do you enhance that journey for years and years and years to keep making more money, right.

Speaker 3 (27:49):

Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s a huge opportunity that often it’s not seen until like, like we just talked about like when they don’t renew, right. And that’s because somebody else came in and said, you know what? We can not only get them in the door, but we’re going to think about their experience all the way through. And so we can provide support along that journey. So that it’s, it’s something that’s