I’ve been following Annie Tsai on Twitter for quite a while now. She was featured in the Best Customer Experience Blogs post a few monts back for her great insight and expertise in customer experience.
Annie recently founded CXP Bootcamp, a customer experience management program. I was curious to learn more, so I sent her a quick note and she graciously agreed to share all the details with us here.
Tell us about your professional background, how’d you get here?
Throughout my career I’ve always focused on being a problem solver. That’s manifested itself in a number of ways – from sales to sales engineering to marketing strategy to operational and process streamlining to mentoring people professionally and personally. I’ve worked with organizations of all shapes and sizes, but my favorite continues to be the small and medium sized businesses that are excited about creating something meaningful for their customers, and want to continue to do so as they grow.
What are you doing now?
I recently stepped into the startup life to own all things “customer” at Demandforce, whose mission is to help service-focused small businesses thrive in the Internet economy.
What I really like about our mission is that it rightly assumes that most small business owners don’t have the time to become experts at online marketing, nor do they have the resources to invest heavily in their online presence. From a technology perspective, it feels great to empower our customers with a much more holistic solution – they can use us for online lead generation, retention management, lost customer reactivation, and managing their online reputation.
With a 99% retention rate and very satisfied customers, I get to focus on how to provide even more value over time with an elevated experience and targeted outreach.
Where does your passion for customer experience come from?
A mentor guided me early on with his belief that our notion of Customer Experience as a technology company had to change if we were going to evolve with what our customers expected of us. At the same time, as a consumer I was becoming much more empowered to have my voice count. I saw what was happening in the B2C world and knew that we had to do the same in B2B.
We started by empowering our customer-facing teams with the tools to effectively represent the company – more training, information, access, and the ability to make certain kinds of decisions. At the same time we took feedback from customers and represented the customer internally when it came to product development, support, and value-added services. The response was pretty immediate – the relationship we had with our customers improved, employees were happier, and we were able turn around more relevant product releases faster. After that, I was hooked.
In your opinion, why is customer experience so important for companies today?
As businesses grow, at some point they face the challenge of figuring out how to scale so they can continue to thrive. Everything needs to be scaled – systems, people, processes, style, perception. Companies that service more than one country have it tougher in that at some point they need to take into consideration individual market needs. More seasoned companies with older technology infrastructures have it even tougher as they need to figure out how to be just as nimble as newer, smaller companies that get to start from scratch.
Customers are so much more aware and engaged than they ever used to be, and if they don’t continue to invest in the experience, they will quickly fall behind.
Tell us more about CXP Bootcamp. Where did the idea come from?
I have to give props to James Andrews at Everywhere who does a fantastic job with taking the still rather intimidating task of integrating a social media strategy into your corporate marketing mix and breaking it down into consumable and actionable gold nuggets. When the Everywhere team ran some of my last company’s marketing team through the Social Media Bootcamp, it was immediately apparent that what started out as overwhelming became extremely approachable.
What exactly is CXP Bootcamp?
Customer Experience is similar to Social Media in that it’s a really ambiguous discipline to those who aren’t in the middle of it. Once you take a look at the individual components like figuring out the “why”, “who”, “when” and eventually “what”, it’s pretty easy to gain buy-in and get started.
CXP Bootcamp is sort of like the quick start guide you get when you buy a new gadget – these are the basics that you need to know so you can quickly impact the low hanging fruit specific to your organization. Participants can start with online content to get more general information and then we can engage in a live environment to get into specifics based on your organization. While you’re focusing on those low investment, big impact fixes, you then have the opportunity to run through a high-level experience audit, which will assist in deciding what to focus on next.
What type of companies is CXP Bootcamp designed for?
The program is available to all companies that know they need to begin focusing on Customer Experience but have yet to implement a formal strategy and don’t know where to start.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to use this program as a platform for giving companies realistic ways to positively impact their customers. The most important thing I can do for the Customer Experience community is to use my voice and experience to help drive the conversation and turn the movement into the norm. My ultimate goal is to help companies see that improving your customer’s experience can be easy, and the return will be evident.
A big thank you to Annie for setting aside some of her valuable time to give such a great interview.