The ICONIC Mindset

Delivering Iconic Customer Experiences: It’s Now Back To Basics

July 09, 2020 Calvin Stovall | John Avola
The ICONIC Mindset
Delivering Iconic Customer Experiences: It’s Now Back To Basics
Chapters
1:12
Intro: Delivering iconic customer experiences
9:34
The Customer Service Game Changer
15:37
Strategy #1: Retention is the new acquisition
19:58
Strategy #2: Focus on delivering effortless customer experiences
25:24
Strategy #3: Be proactive
28:50
Strategy #4: Don't forget about your employees
35:39
Strategy #5: Double down on digital
42:46
ICONIC Points
The ICONIC Mindset
Delivering Iconic Customer Experiences: It’s Now Back To Basics
Jul 09, 2020
Calvin Stovall | John Avola

Delivering Iconic Customer Experiences: It’s Now Back To Basics
Episode #4

COVID-19 has brought on many challenges for everyone across the globe. Customers’ wants and needs are changing constantly, and you have to change just as fast to keep up with them.

In this episode, Calvin and John discuss how delivering ICONIC customer experiences in this environment is all about focusing on the basics of customer service. Beyond adapting new measures to ensure safety, learn what you can do to set your business apart from the competition by focusing on 5 ICONIC strategies that will differentiate your brand when engaging with your customers and employees today and in the future.

  • 0:01:12 - Intro: Delivering iconic customer experiences
  • 0:09:34 - The Customer Service Game Changer
  • 0:15:37 - Strategy #1: Retention is the new acquisition
  • 0:19:58 - Strategy #2: Focus on delivering effortless customer experiences
  • 0:25:24 - Strategy #3: Be Proactive
  • 0:28:50 - Strategy #4: Don't forget about your employees
  • 0:35:39 - Strategy #5 - Double down on digital
  • 0:42:46 - ICONIC Points

To learn more about John Avola and Calvin Stovall, visit iconicpresentations.net. All The ICONIC Mindset episodes can be downloaded at theiconicmindset.com. If you enjoyed listening to this episode, please subscribe to our show.  Remember to select a star rating and/or write a review for The ICONIC Mindset podcast.

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To leave a podcast review:

  1. Open your podcast app and search/navigate to The ICONIC Mindset
  2. Scroll to the subhead titled "Ratings & Reviews" 
  3. Tap to give a rating and/or select "Write a Review"
  4. Once you've finished, select "Send" or "Save" (top-right corner)

Thank you for listening! We value our listeners and subscribers.

Don't just be, Be ICONIC!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Delivering Iconic Customer Experiences: It’s Now Back To Basics
Episode #4

COVID-19 has brought on many challenges for everyone across the globe. Customers’ wants and needs are changing constantly, and you have to change just as fast to keep up with them.

In this episode, Calvin and John discuss how delivering ICONIC customer experiences in this environment is all about focusing on the basics of customer service. Beyond adapting new measures to ensure safety, learn what you can do to set your business apart from the competition by focusing on 5 ICONIC strategies that will differentiate your brand when engaging with your customers and employees today and in the future.

  • 0:01:12 - Intro: Delivering iconic customer experiences
  • 0:09:34 - The Customer Service Game Changer
  • 0:15:37 - Strategy #1: Retention is the new acquisition
  • 0:19:58 - Strategy #2: Focus on delivering effortless customer experiences
  • 0:25:24 - Strategy #3: Be Proactive
  • 0:28:50 - Strategy #4: Don't forget about your employees
  • 0:35:39 - Strategy #5 - Double down on digital
  • 0:42:46 - ICONIC Points

To learn more about John Avola and Calvin Stovall, visit iconicpresentations.net. All The ICONIC Mindset episodes can be downloaded at theiconicmindset.com. If you enjoyed listening to this episode, please subscribe to our show.  Remember to select a star rating and/or write a review for The ICONIC Mindset podcast.

Connect with us!

To leave a podcast review:

  1. Open your podcast app and search/navigate to The ICONIC Mindset
  2. Scroll to the subhead titled "Ratings & Reviews" 
  3. Tap to give a rating and/or select "Write a Review"
  4. Once you've finished, select "Send" or "Save" (top-right corner)

Thank you for listening! We value our listeners and subscribers.

Don't just be, Be ICONIC!

Introduction:

Welcome to the ICONIC Mindset podcast with John Avola and Calvin Stovall. This is the only place that uncovers the multiple levels of iconic businesses and brands. Every episode reveals the secrets behind what it takes to make your business idea or movement iconic. Here are John and Calvin.

John Avola:

Calvin, how are you today?

Calvin Stovall:

Hey John, what's going on, man?

John Avola:

Calvin, I've been working on my posture a little bit since our last podcast. There's this brand called Upright. It's a little device that sticks in the center of your back. I've been sore. I realize how much I slouch during the day. I'm excited to be here today. I know our listeners are excited to hear from us. In the last couple of episodes we went through the four Ps and kind of broke each P down and shared some examples.

Calvin Stovall:

Today we're going to be covering delivering iconic customer experiences. It's now back to basics.

John Avola:

Back to basics. Calvin. I couldn't agree more. It is time to look back and really uncover what the fundamentals of basic business relationships, customer service, and marketing are, especially at the time that we're in. Businesses are beginning to rebuild and the basics is where it begins.

Calvin Stovall:

Absolutely. Losing precious customers usually means you probably wronged or offended them or didn't meet their needs and expectations. However, this time, John , we experience the plot twist. I love movies with a plot twist, like Usual Suspects, Se7en, and the Sixth Sense. But you know what? The weird thing is the top reason for lost business right now is that the customer landscape changed in ways beyond our human control, the so-called black swan event of COVID-19.

John Avola:

You're right. The COVID-19 has brought on so many challenges. And we've mentioned in previous podcasts , it's brought up challenges for everyone in the world. It's affected all businesses, entrepreneurs, sole proprietors, even large corporations and iconic brands. No company was spared and entire industries have been shut down. Companies of all sizes have been forced to adapt and evolve and everything has changed. Today businesses across the world are transforming the best that they can. There have even been studies out there showing that people are trusting businesses and brands over governments due to some of the inconsistent information that's been out there. In fact, a recent study by Edelman Trust Barometer says that 62% say the country will not make it through the crisis without brands playing a critical role in addressing challenges. So no pressure, right?

Calvin Stovall:

That's crazy. Yes. It's been a long three months, 13 weeks and a gazillion hours of Zoom calls, but who's counting? Like you said, people are walking the streets again, hopefully six feet apart and masked. Hopefully masked. I always say your brand is defined by the experience you create for your customers. And you can either stand out or stand by it. I'm a believer that you're only as good as your customer's last Amazon brand experience. And today, you're being compared to the best of the best in customer experience regardless of the industry you're competing in today because the Amazons of the world shape the customer's expectations .

John Avola:

Absolutely. And you've seen it. Brands are working around the clock to adapt to what I like to call the next normal, hitting those customer expectations, making opportunities easier for customers, making their lives better, and just simply bringing back that normalcy to their lives in a more convenient and easy way. I think we'll be talking about some of those examples today, won't we Calvin?

Calvin Stovall:

Absolutely. We're talking about having an iconic mindset and what we need to do. We have examples of people adapting to new measures to ensure safety. The obvious first step is to update and maintain stringent health and safety standards. Like CDC is saying, notifying customers about your changes and helping them interact as safely as possible. Brands like Disney, they've taken extra precautions as they reopened the gates in phases. And just take note, John, about how they present the information. They're complete and thoughtful as possible without being overbearing. They're pretty simple and direct, but it keeps their brand in mind too. And many businesses will need to make some operational changes as well, to encourage safe interaction. For example, restaurants.

John Avola:

Yeah. It's a different way to dine out there today. It's true to what you said, brands are re-imagining those customer experiences just to stay alive.

Calvin Stovall:

They're offering takeout services in lieu of standard dining. They're still seating tables, but they're far fewer and in between, but they have plenty of space in between them. Costco, their stores won't even let you in without a mask and only one per card. Some stores are even providing on-site mask and sanitizing stations at the door.

John Avola:

I've got to stop you there. I've got to tell you about this Costco experience real quick. I was in there the other day in the return line. And you know, sometimes people don't necessarily wear the masks correctly. You might see it just cover their upper lip, completely missing their nose. So there's one lady that was standing behind me. Her mask looked like she might've worn it since the start of COVID. It was falling apart. She might as well not have had a mask. Later on in the store, I'm walking around and get my items. I see the same lady. Costco came out and gave her a new mask. They replaced her mask.

Calvin Stovall:

I don't know how to feel about that. Should I be mad? Or should I be happy?

John Avola:

Customer experience, Calvin. Customer experience.

Calvin Stovall:

So here's the deal. Those are the basic things . Making sure that your place is clean. Making sure that you're following safety measures and things of that nature. But our intent today is to move beyond what I like to call tickets to the ballgame . The cleanliness and the social distance , the protocols , are all basic customer expectations. People are going to expect you to do those anyway. These are things they're going to have to do just to be in the game, period . But we're here. You and I are here to help brands and businesses become iconic. Beyond those things, what else can you do to set yourself apart from the competition during this COVID pandemic and beyond? I believe you're going to need a game plan. And again, a game plan beyond these new measures to ensure safety is imperative. I believe that you keep an iconic mindset by staying in tune with the changing needs, wants, and expectations of your customers and acting on them.

John Avola:

That's the most important part there. It's not just being in tune, but acting on those needs and wants from your customers. There was actually a study by McKinsey and Company that came out with three priorities that would define a memorable customer experience. The study went into the importance of digital excellence, which I know we'll talk about today, that safe and contactless engagement, which customers and consumers around the world are now expecting. And then of course you have your dynamic customer insights, which is all about the data, the technology, being able to evolve in the current marketplace and really almost kind of predicting what your customers need before they actually know they need it.

Calvin Stovall:

Yeah. That's awesome. And some companies do it a lot better than others and John, I think you and I are very, very bright people.

John Avola:

I'll take a compliment, Calvin!

Calvin Stovall:

But I do know you and I can't predict the future but we know what we can do. We're going to focus on that. We can make sense of what's going on right now. Customers' wants and needs are changing constantly. And again, you have to change just as fast to keep up with them and that's what we're going to help our listeners with today.

John Avola:

Awesome. I think this content is absolutely relevant. I know we've heard a lot from our listeners that they really appreciate the tips and best practices that we're providing them on how to not only rebuild and refocus their brand, but to keep that iconic status regardless of the size of the business. You could be a Costco or a Disney, or I've got to bring it up, you can be that dumpling company. It doesn't matter the size of your business Calvin.

Calvin Stovall:

The dumpling company is back! Here we go again.

John Avola:

They are our most featured brand. I think they've made it in all four episodes. The size of the company doesn't matter. It's the experience that you're delivering, that's what counts.

Calvin Stovall:

So what I want to do today, I'm going to throw this out there. Here's the premise of today's podcast. This is going to be pretty much everything we talk about today because it's going to be our main focus. Customer service is going to be the game changer in this market. I believe that customer service is going to be a really important aspect of the customer experience. It's going to be a huge differentiator when dealing with customers today and in the future. I really believe that. And we're going to use some research in here. We're going to talk about that today and we're going to show our listeners how to use customer service to take things to the next level.

John Avola:

And now more importantly than ever before. Customer service should have always been that differentiator. But now it's an obvious differentiator, right? This is it. Customer service is going to make or break brands as we head into the future.

Calvin Stovall:

So to do that today, John , I want to highlight a survey that was done by an organization called Kustomer. That's Kustomer with a K. And they surveyed over 150 customer service professionals across a variety of industries, to truly understand how their businesses and teams are affected by the global pandemic. They asked the question, what percentage of companies say customer service is more important than ever? 90%! I believe a lot of organizations are going to be focusing on this. And then a follow up , they asked what percentage of customer service organizations are being significantly impacted by COVID-19. Now here's the deal. The response was 79%. So you say, well, what about the other percent of people? It was on a sliding scale. From not affected at all to affected a great deal, like a massive difference in your business. Basically that 79%, I guess, had a massive impact on their business. Only 1% had no change at all. Here's my question, who is that 1%? Who wouldn't be affected? Most highly valued service attributes in order of importance. Okay, you ready? Empathetic service, personalized service, quick service, flexible policies, proactive outreach. And then omni-channel support like email, phone website, chat t exts, and all social p latforms.

John Avola:

So empathy was first.

Calvin Stovall:

Empathy was first. Probably before COVID, empathy might've been on the list, but probably down, maybe a few.

John Avola:

And I'm even thinking some of that, the digital marketing channels you mentioned there toward the bottom of the list, was probably more mid-tier prior to COVID. There was a ton of focus on digital marketing and reaching your customer almost as a priority over customer service. And that may be a little segue into our next episode there Calvin. Reputation. Reputation matters.

Calvin Stovall:

Yes, it does. And they talked a little bit about what customers need, and we will talk a little bit more in detail about that, but they said people want to feel like they're being treated like humans, not tickets, numbers, or items. Of course that's a good thing, but team members now, when dealing with customers have an opportunity to do more than just answer a question or address a customer's problem. Now, with empathy being so important, they have an opportunity to really connect with the customer and represent your brand values and be the face of your brand. It could be an opportunity to really get a customer to build a stronger connection with your company .

John Avola:

I think social media also played a big role in giving employees that voice. You see now any company has a social media policy, not just for the organization, but it's part of the HR handbook, how you handle yourself as a representative of the company you're working for. So that alone. Plus giving the employees the opportunity to make a difference. They're the frontline . Any employee is the front line of the company and giving them the opportunity to make changes, innovate, re-imagine , giving them the voice. I'm sure there's some information out there on how those companies have succeeded by listening to the employee feedback.

Calvin Stovall:

Here's the challenge that I see looking at all this data. I've already said that customer service is going to be critical. A lot of companies are significantly impacted by COVID in that study, but they also say that 63% of companies report they had a need to cut costs, which means they've had to cut staff. The study also talked about the fact that a lot of these organizations are dealing with a higher level of greater requests with less people. I think that's going to be challenging. And those people that work in customer service, they're having to learn the policies. They're dealing with more complex issues, and some of them don't even have the resources to do their jobs effectively. They're seeing an increase in upset customers. It's going to be very challenging to build efficiencies and things of that nature, but we've got to do it. We've got to do it. And that's what I'm hoping we can do today with some of these strategies.

John Avola:

I'm excited. I think these strategies are going to be excellent takeaways for our listeners.

Calvin Stovall:

Here we go. Five key strategies to help you have an iconic mindset, to become an iconic business. First strategy: retention is the new acquisition. What am I saying here? How do you keep the customers you have in the boat? Or as I like to say, because I love music on the dance floor, how do you keep your customers on the dance floor?

John Avola:

You want a dance floor that's full, right?

Calvin Stovall:

You want a dance floor that's full and they're not walking off of it. It's going to be difficult to shore up new business . It's going to be challenging in this market. It's going to be expensive. Businesses are seeing a 30% to 50% reduction in website traffic, not having nearly as many face to face meetings, and so forth. Now I don't want people to think, oh, Calvin, you've got to always sell . Yes. I do think you've got to always sell. And I'm going to talk a little bit about that later too. I'm not saying acquiring new business isn't important. You still need to do that, but it's going to be even more important to not let any more of your customers fall out of the boat. I love soul music, right. I'm a soul music fanatic. And one of my favorite soul artists , from back in the day, was a guy named Johnny Taylor. He had a song called It's Cheaper to Keep Her. So here's the deal. This is my COVID-19 anthem. It's going to be less expensive for you to keep the people that you have, except you've got to keep her and him in this case, you've got to keep them in the boat. The thing is in that one, focus on retaining your customers, and my next thing I'm going to talk about as a follow-up to that, you don't want to let anybody fall out of the funnel .

John Avola:

Keeping those customers that you already have is extremely important because those are the customers that are going to bring you that new business, keeping those customers happy. A good example here is you look at the hospitality industry, right? Hotels. They've got regulars that may come in or used to come in on a business trip or maybe vacation. Here we are in the summertime. And so they've had to do a lot around retaining their business, whether it's opening up day suites , or you've seen a lot of price reductions as well, trying to get their regulars back in . We're in a different environment. You can't let the new environment take over. You've got to continue to innovate and be strong, but also remember those customers that you have and focus on how they're feeling.

Calvin Stovall:

Absolutely. We talked about the iconic framework. This is that people one, the connection one. Focusing on that and staying connected with them. I really believe customers are going to remember the decisions you make during this time. I think we've talked about this before, but you've got to find a way to stick with your customers. They're going to remember when you got in the trenches with them and fought with them versus against them.

John Avola:

A good point to that, Calvin, too, is that retaining customers can also mean a slight change in your product as well. A transition to what you're offering could also help that retention. I want to talk about Mattel, for example. They recently came out with a new new superhero and we're not talking about a new Marvel or Superman. We're actually talking about the superhero that's in front of all of us and that's our essential workers. Mattel created a new line of Fisher Price action figures, directed exactly at what we're talking about, their current customer base, allowing those that are avid Mattel consumers to purchase figures or figurines that represent essential workers, delivery, drivers, grocery store workers, healthcare professionals. This pivot shows that Mattel understands who people are and how they're supporting them. And they're honoring these people in the time that we're in. Then I was reading a little bit more and not only have they remanufactured these new items, but they're also giving back on a charitable note. 75% of the purchase price of this first responder initiative is going back to healthcare first responders. You can order online, shipments begin early this fall, and you can support your local healthcare first responders while also picking up some one of a kind new essential worker figurines.

Calvin Stovall:

I love that. Alright . First strategy is retention is the new acquisition. Second strategy: you've got to focus on delivering effortless customer experiences. And what I mean by that is I think we're starting to see a shift in brand advocacy a little bit. For example, pre-COVID, a brand could kind of live on its brand alone. Nike, if you like Nike, you like Nike, even when they mess up. I still like Nike. But I think we're starting to see a shift in the marketplace. We're in what I'm hearing now is kind of a "frictionless economy." People are going to go wherever they get the least amount of friction. Whether that's ordering food online or whether they're changing flights, customers are looking for ease and simplicity today. And the brands that do this exceptionally well will score high. If they do well on the effortless scale, they will be the ones that are going to win in this market because people are stressed out. They're stressed out financially, physically, mentally. They're just worn out, and I believe the sentiment now is I don't really care what your brand did in the past. What are you doing? What have you done for me lately? Remember that song? What have you done for me lately? I'm in a song mode through this, but people want ease and simplicity today. The companies that do this are going to be well positioned to take advantage of where this market is headed . You've got to make it easy for your customers to do business with you. It's back to basics. That's iconic.

John Avola:

They want it quick and they want it easy and they want it effortless. You mentioned their ordering line or ordering food online. You notice that many restaurants have quickly adapted and are selling fresh food items, whether it's online orders or curbside pickup , offering easy takeout options and the ability to quickly pull up and have your food brought out to you. I've seen customers being able to order vegetables, meats, even those takeout adult beverages as opportunities there just to help make it convenient for the customer. I've seen many brands do the same. You have Panera, they're offering bread, milk, produce. California Pizza Kitchen , they introduced a CPK market. The market features lettuce wrap kits , build your own pizza kits for kids. And then they also sell those basic essential items, like milk, rice flour, meats, pasta, bread, and they even have an alcohol option as well, for those that want to take a six pack out to the car, along with their food. It's an innovative way. And I think the other brand that we have to mention here around effortless and easy communication, and that's one of our favorites, Calvin, that's Subway,

Calvin Stovall:

Subway, man. We used to eat so much Subway.

John Avola:

For those of you who don't know, Calvin and I used to work together and we ate Subway probably three out of the five days a week. This little gas station on the corner, we'd head over there. And they knew us by name. It was a great experience. What they're doing, which is really interesting, is they've offered a new line called Subway Grocery. They're marketing this as an opportunity to "skip the line and get grocery essentials delivered." The idea behind this strategy is to introduce fresh food, like baked rolls, sliced meats, onions, and tomatoes, where customers can simply pull up and get a few of those essential items and head out without having to really deal with a mass amount of people or crowds. I did a little more research on Subway. They have nearly 50,000 locations worldwide and they are actually the restaurant with the most locations in the world. Over Starbucks, over McDonald's, Subway has the most locations. And so you put that in perspective and you look at national grocery chains like here in Memphis, we have Kroger, in the Southeast, maybe Publix, in the Northeast is Stop and Shop, but you look at Subway. If they were to roll this out to more of their stores, think of the convenience for the customer. There's a Subway almost on every corner versus having to travel miles to your nearest grocery store. So there could definitely be a lot of opportunity there. They've rolled out Subway Grocery in about 250 locations. And so far from everything I've read, it seems to be going very positive.

Calvin Stovall:

That's innovative. And then customers don't have to deal with the big crowd. Probably it's not a lot of people in there too.

John Avola:

Less crowds, immediate service. It's Subway. You just walk through that line. You don't even have to shop, Calvin. It's just one counter.

Calvin Stovall:

Get your sandwich and the tomatoes!

John Avola:

Grab a meatball sub. That Italian BMT. Grab a little extra lunch meat , some cheese, and you've done your shopping and you have lunch.

Calvin Stovall:

That's awesome. Great way to offer an effortless customer experience. Good job, Subway. All right , let's move on to number three. You've got to get proactive. This one here, John is going to separate the Elton Johns from the Milli Vanillis. This is a biggie. You just can't sit on your assets and wait for your customers to come to you. Now is the time to go outbound with your communications with your customers. This, again, is highlighting the people, the P in the framework. You've got to reach out to them, but don't just reach out to them with your typical COVID-19 message. You want to add value in your communications. Don't bombard them with the whole COVID messaging. I think people are getting worn out with it. I know people are aware of it that it's out there, but they don't want to hear that all the time. But people love talking about themselves and what they're dealing with. This is a time to offer value to your customers. I truly believe if you give value, you get value. So just be a bit more human. Be empathetic. We talked about that customers are looking for empathy. Just be a little more creative in your approach, and really talk to them about how you can support them in their journey. People are dealing with a lot out there. You want to try to just be creative, be a little different, and be real in your communications. But you've got to start. Don't wait on them. Get proactive.

John Avola:

I like what you said around to give value, to get value. We've seen a lot of opportunity, too, around partnerships in that same regard. Companies like Papa John's, for example, they're expanded their digital capabilities around instant ordering, but they did that through Facebook. They looked at Facebook and that's where their customers are. That's where their people are spending most of their time, especially being indoors under quarantine. They partnered with Facebook Instant Ordering. They were one of the first companies to take advantage of that opportunity. And Papa John's was being proactive in that they were going out to their customers and not only being empathetic, but delivering a service instantly for them in their natural environment. They didn't need to switch over to a different app or a different website. They're just natively looking through Facebook and click on a Papa John's ad, place their order, and continue scrolling down their feed. So it really opens up that ease and simplicity, but also being proactive and trying something new for your customers.

Calvin Stovall:

They're taking advantage of that Omni channel thing that I talked about earlier.

John Avola:

Then you have companies like Walgreens, who have partnered with Postmates, very similar to Shipt, a goods and service delivery service. And their whole idea to partner with Postmates is to deliver those quick, convenient on-demand delivery items. Look at Walgreens, more cosmetics, even over the counter medicines. With Postmates, they can have that delivered instantly to anyone who needs it. Again, kind of being proactive in that if you can't leave your house, or you're uneasy about leaving your house, but you need to get to Walgreens for those daily personal items, you've got an opportunity now where you can have those delivered instantly and brought to your home.

Calvin Stovall:

There it is. Get proactive, get proactive. So we've covered retention as the new acquisition, delivering an effortless customer experience, getting proactive. Number four is you can't forget about your employees. Employee experience, employee experience, employee experience. Now I know a lot of organizations have had to have their employees work remotely. There's flexible workspace and I believe some companies are doing a great job with communicating with their employees. I've seen things like daily virtual huddles, Zoom socials.

John Avola:

And those virtual happy hours, right ?

Calvin Stovall:

Yes. I like those. I want to pose a question to the leadership out there. How is the remote situation going? Ask yourself that question, because you have some people on your team that are living alone. They may not have working Wi-Fi in some cases. And some people are working from home and they're not in an ideal situation in every case.

John Avola:

No , you're right. It's the same storm, but we're all in different boats.

Calvin Stovall:

There it is. I love that. Great analogy. You have some people who are parents having to homeschool, with two, three kids. One spouse is furloughed. All possible scenarios could be going on. And a lot of people are at home dealing with a lot of anxiety. And I think as leaders, we have to find ways to keep these people engaged, keep them involved , and find ways to make sure that they still feel connected, cared for, loved. You've got to show them love and empower them to make sure they can continue to enthusiastically deliver those brand experiences your customers come to expect. It's a challenge, but you've got to do it. You've got to take the time again. We're lifting up their people - P again. It's about connection. You've got to connect with them. Can't forget about your employees.

John Avola:

No, you can't. It's a simple question. How are you doing? And it's one that I've asked my team regularly. It's a question that never gets old. Just having that empathy, going back to that first stat there by Kustomer, it's showing empathy, not necessarily with the company outward to your customers, but also as the company to your employees. And you mentioned a really interesting thing there , Calvin, and you know I love my stories. You mentioned having parents working from home, but also managing school activities. And then you mentioned the word about feeling connected and that just kind of triggered an example there that I was looking at recently, which was Lego. And Lego, as you know, they're building blocks. Thinking about being connected, working from home, an opportunity for education, they've put together an initiative which is called #letsbuildtogether. Love that hashtag. I think it's perfectly brand representative. And the whole idea around #letsbuildtogether isn't necessarily for the children. It's for the parents to help keep their kids entertained and educated with daily inspiration, content, different challenges. So really trying to look at an opportunity to bring in what they know as their own product, but use it in a way to help their customers. What I love about this idea and where I'm going with this is it wasn't a customer requested idea. It was an employee who thought of the idea on let's build together. And they brought that to the leadership team. The leadership team not only loved it, went forward with it, but also added a charitable giving component. In addition to the initiative around helping parents work with their children, there are also dedicated factories to help make protective glasses and masks, and Legos donated 500,000 Lego sets to children in need. And t hey're just overall a great example of how a company is leveraging its skills, really for the k now h ow a nd the greater good of not only their employees, but their customers as well.

Calvin Stovall:

That's awesome, John, and I think we talked about that in the last podcast. Listen to your employees. You have to, because they have some great ideas and then Lego did a good job with that.

John Avola:

I agree. And another one is Under Armour . They've done a 30 day fitness challenge that also came from an employee as a way to get people motivated or to stay in shape or to exercise during the pandemic. And this 30 day fitness challenge, again, was brought to leadership. Not sure exactly the conversations that were had, but the outcome was a $2 million pledge, $1 million going to Feeding America. The second million is , I guess, a promotion around getting users to sign up for the 30 day challenge. So depending on those that sign up, I'm sure there's some dollar equivalent for a number of registered users, but they're benefiting Good Sports, which ensures youth leagues have the necessary sports equipment and apparel. Another great example of listening to your employees. Under Armour is a major worldwide brand, and you have a few that got together to say, let's start a fitness challenge. And here we are. Not only are they going to do it, but they added some donation to the experience as well.

Calvin Stovall:

That's awesome. And again, John, I think what's really great about some of the things we're talking about today. I think you said this in the earlier part of the podcast, being iconic and having an iconic mindset, it doesn't matter what size your company is or where you're located. All of that is irrelevant. Some of these things that we're talking about, really, they're not expensive. They don't cost you anything. To retain new customers, what is that? Phone calls? Customer experiences that might take some effort to erase some pain points and looking at your customer journeys a little bit differently, really no money. There's time to sit there and do it. Getting proactive, communicating. How do you do that? Email, social phone calls, whatever, really no money. And then the employee experience, that just takes heart and caring and being empathetic. Again, no money. Putting all these things in place, you can do it . It doesn't matter.

John Avola:

I think some of that's being shown. I know we were talking a little bit before the podcast around channels that have seen the biggest increase in usage. And I think you mentioned phone. We've talked a little bit prior to getting on here today. But I think phone calls were probably one of the highest increased usage channels. That one-to-one relationship, actually picking up the phone and talking to somebody. Having been at home all day it's good to get on the phone. You might have some other stats there. I think email was a close second around an increased channel, but that's good information.

Calvin Stovall:

It was phone and then email and then social. And that leads into my last strategy. It's all in digital, all in digital customer. Your customer is going to communicate with you the way they want to communicate with you. And you've got to double down on your digital platform efforts. You've got to start thinking about an Omni channel experience that you deliver. Now, I know most organizations out there, we love our email. We love our phone and you need to use those things, but you've got to start thinking about the other ways customers want to engage with brands. I think you mentioned Papa John is doing that, with the social. I'm sure there are other brands that are doing it. A perfect example of this was when COVID hit. I have two little boys and of course they couldn't go back to school and I have to tell you, John, I was super impressed with how their education platform quickly shifted to digital. It was absolutely a phenomenal thing to see. Of course my boys were really excited because they didn't have to go to class, but I was really impressed with how they just pivoted. Could you imagine if this happened maybe five, six years ago? I don't think the educational system would have been ready for that.

John Avola:

How quickly your boys adapted, too. Both sides, the teachers and your kids.

Calvin Stovall:

Yeah. I think it was the adults that had the most problem with it. It was no big deal. I mean, they were up, they were doing Zoom calls with their teachers as a class, individual coaching sessions with their teachers, assignments were uploaded. It was just a phenomenal experience to see. And I felt good about it because they were still very active and learning and things of that nature. So the only thing they missed was the social interaction, but they did the best they could with that, via the Zoom calls. But I just couldn't imagine this happening several years ago. We just wouldn't have been ready.

John Avola:

I wanted to make a point too. You mentioned all in digital, almost going back to the McKinsey and Company study around digital excellence. And I pulled out a quote from their article that reads, "companies that accelerate their digital offerings can see an increased engagement now and be prepared for lower cost operations years ahead. They should focus on creating a virtual digital experience that is on par with the in-person experience." So education. I couldn't think of a better example than what you just went over, right ? Think about it, being in the classroom or being at home, but replicating that digital experience that's on par with the in-person experience.

Calvin Stovall:

Sephora is a brand that has always been focused on delivering digital experiences. They actually closed all their stores in mid-March to help flatten the curve, and then they waived all shipping fees for a time, but they do a great job on digital. Another company that does a great job at this and I didn't even realize it until the other day, right before we did the podcast. I'm a member of Planet Fitness. I thought about this and I haven't seen any debits from Planet Fitness. They stopped charging in March when they closed down and I didn't even realize it. But the other thing, I went back and looked through my emails and they have done a wonderful job staying connected and creating a digital experience. They've produced a series of daily workout videos. They have included streaming on social media and video archives or YouTube. And they've been constantly and consistently communicating via email about the digital resources and how they're handling COVID. And when I look back, they haven't even charged.

John Avola:

And you have access to all the content, live streaming. Wow .

Calvin Stovall:

It all caused me to become, I guess you would say, a little more endeared to the company. I just was so impressed with their efforts to stay connected with me as a member and offer resources until they reopened. Here in North Carolina, they can't open for another three weeks here. So I just think that was great. And the experience has caused me to want to remain a member.

John Avola:

They're not charging you and they're offering you content. That's pretty cool. I've seen a few other kinds of fitness facilities that had to get creative when their physical locations closed. I was at the Peloton app and they were offering 90 days free for anyone. That worked for my wife because she used it for all 90 days and now she's a subscriber. We have another company, Orange Theory. And so what they did for their customers is they not only made home workouts , streaming online, but they used household items. Instead of having to purchase a weight set in order to complete the workout, they were looking at items that were common around the house that people could work out with, like maybe lifting the chair. It's just kind of neat to see how they were incorporating household items into their workouts as well. So it's going back to that. Re-imagining looking at new ways to really get the same product across, but making it more comfortable and convenient for your customers.

Calvin Stovall:

Yes sir. It's all in digital though. For you listeners out there today, if you thought going digital was a joke before, or you were being a wallflower because you didn't want to make the investment, it's time. It is time to start putting a digital strategy together, when things are slow. So when things turn around, you'll be ready.

John Avola:

It's time. To back up that point, Calvin , we all know Target, right? They average close to about 25,000 downloads per day. They decided to take their app and go completely digital during COVID. The app also started an integration with Shipt, another delivery service. The prominence of going digital plus the integration with Shipt has doubled the number of downloads so now, they're averaging 52,000 downloads a day. Over doubled the app downloads based on integrating with Shipt and making their app their primary focus among any other marketing capability.

Calvin Stovall:

Wow. That's incredible. So that was our five, John. And I think now we're coming to the close on our podcast , but we cannot leave without iconic points. All right . Number one is back to the basics. Ladies and gentlemen, back to the basics. Customer service is going to be a game changer for you. Customer service is going to be king, and it's going to be a really important aspect of the customer experience. So focus on delivering a seamless frictionless customer experience. Focus on ease and simplicity. Whatever you can do to erase the pain points for your customers, do it. That's going to help you stand out, particularly in this market. Number two, be human, be authentic, be personable, be real, be iconic.

John Avola:

One more. Be empathetic.

Calvin Stovall:

Yes, absolutely. Gotta be. Not only to your customers, but also to your employees. That leads to number three, stay connected with your team. Again, all work from home situations are not optimal. Make sure you're staying connected with them, make sure you're showing them the love, make sure they're thriving and doing well so they can continue to deliver those experiences that your brand represents.

John Avola:

And teamwork, right? That's what it all comes down to, teamwork. Ask, how are you doing?

Calvin Stovall:

How are you doing? Simple. No cost there. Alright . Last but not least. Get in the digital game now. The time is now. You have to make the investment. You don't have to do a whole huge overhaul. But you've got to start thinking about, how can I make my experience on a more digital platform and omni-channel. You have to think about that as well.

John Avola:

I couldn't agree more. I think that one may be my favorite just because of the digital marketing background I have. But, focusing on digital will hands down increase your return on investment. I can't stress that enough. Doubling down. Go digital. It's going to benefit you.

Calvin Stovall:

Well, John, I'm feeling pretty good about today. I hope our listeners got a lot out of this. And again, I know that the five strategies that we talked about, not a lot of investment, but you've got to be deliberate about it and focus on it. And again, you can better position your organization to be ready for the market now and in the future.

John Avola:

Absolutely. And I think that's the key point of everything we talked about today, Calvin. It's not just immediacy, as in now, but it's in the future. You're making the investment today to prepare yourself for whatever the future holds, that next normal that we mentioned. You've got to invest now. You've got to do the best you can. And hopefully things will work out in your favor.

Calvin Stovall:

So John, as we close, what are we going to talk about next podcast?

John Avola:

Well, thanks Calvin. I think next week I'd really like to dive into brand reputation and specifically why brand reputation matters. You know, we talked a lot about customer experience today, but if you look at the company itself and the importance of having a positive reputation, one that you can continue to build over time, one that you can invest all your efforts into, it's extremely important for success. We can come across with some real good takeaways for our audience that I think will be really relevant to their businesses and how they continue to improve upon their own business in an effort to be that iconic brand.

Calvin Stovall:

Well awesome, John . Thank you. This has been a blast, as always. I'm excited to talk to you and I hope our listeners got something out of the day and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

John Avola:

That's right. Likewise, Calvin, absolutely enjoy this time together. Thank you as well. And I guess until next time, don't just be. Be iconic.

Intro: Delivering iconic customer experiences
The Customer Service Game Changer
Strategy #1: Retention is the new acquisition
Strategy #2: Focus on delivering effortless customer experiences
Strategy #3: Be proactive
Strategy #4: Don't forget about your employees
Strategy #5: Double down on digital
ICONIC Points