Why Customer Service Does Not Equal Customer-Focused

Why Customer Service Does Not Equal Customer-Focused

Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group, joins the Content Experience Show to discuss the reason many businesses deliver inconsistent experiences and how to move past customer service to being customer-focused.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

A Shift in Focus

If you’re breathing, chances are you’ve received some sort of marketing content you didn’t care for. Maybe it was an email, a video ad, or even an old-school piece of “junk mail.”

Most businesses have teams for marketing, content, customer service, etc. Unfortunately, it’s less common that they all work together to create a consistent experience for their customers. It seems that the default is to have people who come up with ideas, people who implement the ideas, and people who handle the results, with the customer falling somewhere in the middle of that process.

According to Jeff Pedowitz of The Pedowitz Group, it’s time to shake up that process. Too often marketers sit in brainstorming sessions to come up with ideas they think will be effective for the customer, but rarely do they actually begin by asking what the customer actually wants. It’s easy to feel like your customer is your top priority when there’s a great customer service program, but by putting the customer at the start of the entire process, your business will become truly customer-focused. In this way, you ensure that that email, blog post, video, etc. you’re creating is hitting the mark because you know exactly where to aim!

In This Episode

  • How to define “marketing operations,” and who should be involved.
  • How to shift your marketing to be customer-focused.
  • The difference between “multi-channel” and “omni-channel” experiences.
  • How to help the product team and the content team work together to ensure a wholly consistent experience.

Quotes From This Episode

“There’s a big difference between customer service and customer focus, and if you truly are trying to operationalize the customer experience, you have to be customer-focused.” — @JeffPedowitz

Everyone in the company shares responsibility for the customer journey. Click To Tweet

“Marketing ops is taking a step back and looking at the different channels and the different people that you are trying to reach and figuring out how to deliver consistently across that brand promise.” — @JeffPedowitz

The customer understands that we want to sell our stuff, but people want a relationship and to know that you respect them. Click To Tweet


Content Experience Lightning Round

What do you often find yourself shopping for online?

Jeff is an avid online shopper, whether it be clothes, food, gifts, whatever. With three kids and a busy work schedule, nothing beats the convenience that the many online services offer these days!

What are you into on Netflix?

As a self-described lover of binge-watching, Jeff and his wife just finished binging the entirety of Gotham. On the other hand, they both thoroughly enjoy disconnecting for periods. They have even purposefully vacationed in places where they may not be able to find WiFi!

See you next week!

What Great Brands Do That Good Brands Don't in Content Marketing

Okay content is easy. Killer content is hard. This nifty eBook shows you the difference, based on our real-world work with dozens of brands. A must-read!

Episode Transcript

Randy:Thanks for joining us on Conex. The Content Experience Show. I say us because I'm used to having Anna with me, but I'm Anna-less today. Anna's away with a sore throat and hopefully on the mend, but we make up with it with our really powerful guest this week. And I always like to make sure that if people are going to tune in, they know what's coming. So let me tell you a little bit about my time with Jeff Pedowitz when he was in chatting about content experiences.
Now, with Jeff, we tried to not to just about content experiences, but what he liked to call the customer experience. I found that really interesting in terms of how his take of the way marketing operations is starting to work in different organizations. And you look at the traditional sense of thinking as he talked about it, around customer service versus being customer focused. And I think a lot of us in our organizations, as I thought more about it, we talk so much about customer service or some of us have really cute names for it these days; like customer success, I say cute not to make anything less of it because we call it that here as well. And I do think there's a difference.
But, there's an even bigger difference between responding to customers as Jeff talked about versus planning for customers and interacting with customers. And I think what you'll take away from this week's podcast with Jeff, is to think about how is your organization embracing the customer. Jeff talks all about how different organizations, like Amazon and Netflix, go about really interacting with us so that we can deliver these omni-channel experiences. And that's really what all of us are expecting today. We want to go anywhere we go and get that same, coordinated approach from the brand. And that's a big undertaking for us as marketers to adapt to because we need to almost start to quarterback what's happening inside of our organization.
So, I really think you're going to enjoy this time with Jeff. It's an intense 25 minute chat. We're going to dig right in and I'll open up right now. Welcome in, Jeff.
Hey, Jeff. Thanks so much for joining us this week on Conex. You and I know each other because we're always at events; although, we talked before recording this as to how you kind of sat them out this year, but we've spent lots of time chatting about content and strategy and the buyer map. But, maybe for everyone else, let people know what Pedowitz Group is and how you've gotten into this space over the years.
Jeff:Sure Randy. And thank you for having me on the program. Great to help out. Pedowitz Group is a revenue marketing company. So we specialize in helping our customers increase their marketing performance through marketing operations. And there are three areas that we focus on. Business accountability, digital transformation, and the customer experience. And with all three of those areas, we're working with people, process technology, top rational high standards to help our customers scale.
So, I feel like in some ways I'm a bit of an old dog now. I've been in this for a while. So Pedowitz Group is soon going into its 12th year of business and then before that I was a VP of Professional Services at Eloqua, employee number 32, over there and helped develop a lot early best practices. And then probably been working automation and demand gen since 2002-2003. When I was at Eloqua, just really got inspired with all the great work customers were doing, and the early partners, and I figured, hey, why not, go out and hang up a shingle. So, I've been doing it ever since.
Randy:That's great. You hit on a lot of topics there that I'd love to dig in over the next 30 minutes together. But, before we get to customer experience because I think that's a really interesting topic, but before we get there. I'd love to get your definition of marketing operations and who's involved in marketing operations because I think for a lot of people listening in on this podcast, some of them are content marketers, some of them are digital marketers. We often have demand gen marketers who listen in on this. The question is, is marketing ops a department in an organization or is it an individual or is it a coming together of various people?
Jeff:Well, it's a really great question. Actually, it's a little bit of both because depending on the size of the company, marketing operations can be done really by an individual or by a couple people. If it is a smaller, but then as you get into bigger organizations, it is definitely an established department. So I mean, if you think about sales ops as a traditional function, marketing ops is its counterpart. And this marketing works more and more and runs more and more like a business. It becomes incredibly important for it to have that as a department.
So, sometimes marketing operations can include demand generation. Sometimes marketing ops reports into demand gen. But more often than not, it is a separate and distinct function. And it can cover areas of technology management, vendor management, process, documentation, project management, analytics and insights, just to name a few of the more common areas. It just depends on the company. Depending upon how broad they may or may not want to go into it.
Randy:Gotcha. And maybe you can let us [inaudible 00:05:35] we have people listen to this podcast who are groups of 10 person marketing team and then we have people who listen who are 100 plus marketing team. When do you kind of see it go from that individual to a team? And what size of marketing team that usually start to translate.
Jeff:It really goes, I guess, to the size and scope of the marketing team and what they're doing. How much global demand gen responsibility they have. I don't know if there's a tried and true, you know, if you have an X number of marketing people you need X number of people in marketing ops. It's a ... think of it more of a capability and it really goes to each customer's ability to set it up. But if you think about the discrete areas, there's probably four major areas of responsibility in marketing ops. You have technology, data and analytics. Let's kind of put them into one area. You have process, engineering and optimization as a second. Project management and training as a third. And then you have change management and customer insights as a fourth. Depending upon how big your stack is, how big the global responsibility is, how much technology is controlled by IT versus sales versus marketing. That could influence how many people are in that department.
But, usually once it becomes a dedicated function, there's going to be several people at least in marketing ops. And we've seen teams as big as 50 or more. Just depending upon what you're doing.
Randy:That's interesting. So Jeff, like, the fourth bucket that you gave there. I think it was change management? Is that right?
Randy:Maybe that's a good segue. I don't know if you did that on purpose, but getting us to this idea of the buyer journey and I think you also threw in there this idea of understanding the customer. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about who in the marketing org these days is tasked with understanding the customer the most when you interact with these groups because I think this is something as we talk about customer experience, it's really the first step in my mind. It's who are the customers that we need to care about at every stage.
Jeff:Yeah, I think there's a big difference between customer service and customer focus. And a lot of companies they want to take care of their customers and please them; but, there is a difference. And if you truly are trying to operationalize the customer experience you have to be customer focused.
So if customer service means you set up departments like call centers, chat bots, you have SLAs, right, you want to respond and resolve customer issues in a timely manner to a given set of performance standards. And so the customer's happy with your response. But that is not the same thing as customer focus, which is, taking your products, your teams, your activities, your metrics and completely revolving them and focusing them on the customer. And so how does this relate to content?
Well, most companies, their content is still heavily product orientated. Feature, function versus user, buyer oriented; what they need. The emotional arches. What they need to experience. Content is still very heavily focused on the acquisition's side of the coin. In almost every business, we're trying not only get customers, but keep and grow them. So, whether you're in a subscription business or SAS model, where it's a hockey stick effect over time, right. More and more revenue comes from that. Or you have maintenance contracts or you sell widgets. You're still trying to grow your customers. But, a disproportionate amount of marketing and sales activity is spent on funneling acquisitions and very, very little spent on onboarding, on value realization, on loyalty, on adoption. What kind of content and programs and campaigns are being developed to service your customer and generate lifetime value?
So, we believe that everyone in the company shares responsibility for the customer journey. I mean, of course, the customer, themselves owns their journey, but everybody in the company is on the hook for gathering those insights, but marketing is the tip of the sword. So, a great role for the marketing ops function is to drive that change management across the company to be more customer oriented and to develop those insights. So, you're working to get alignment with sales and other stakeholders. You're trying to drive different types of measurement and accountability. You're driving innovation. You're driving collaboration, communication and really there has to be a governance aspect to it because if it's not driven from the top down and people are not held accountable. It won't get done.
And it's really just figuring out what your customer focus strategy is and how you scale it. And so, it's really not a matter of necessarily of how much content you produce, but are you producing the right type of content. Sometimes, businesses can produce one great asset, one great content piece and be very effective. Or maybe they need a hundred or maybe they need 1,000; but, you're not trying to generate content for content's sake. You're really trying to do it with purpose.
Randy:I love that ... that distinction. I mean, it's funny, how many companies are probably still thinking about the term customer service or maybe they've adopted customer success as a term, but they're still very much thinking about how do we respond to customers. And I think the biggest shift that I saw not answered what you're describing is that customer focus is really an entire organization. And I think that's ... that's a big shift for some organizations who maybe still at the point of thinking of their marketing teams as demand generation, right? Is how do I generate demand for my org versus how do I support that entire customer journey and it's something really interesting. I'd love to dig some more into that. We're going to do that right after the break here on Conex with Jeff Pedowitz. We're going to dig into understanding how to think strategically about the content you need for this strategy.
On today's podcast, we talked all about the buyer journey and a company called ICUC.Social is a company you want to take a look at if you're focused on the buyer journey. Now their philosophy is all focused around social media with how to understand your ROI and revenue generation through social media strategy. They partner really closely with their clients to understand their challenges and provide really effective solutions. I really encourage people to check it out. And to do so, well you can actually get is a free seven day access to monitor up to 50 of your business locations to help you see how your business locations are performing regarding online search, local reputation, competitor bench marketing and more. All you got to do is visit ICUC.Social/audit.
We're back here with Jeff Pedowitz talking all about marketing operations and a customer focused approach to the entire buyer journey. And Jeff, I really enjoyed that last answer you gave before the break. This distinction between customer service and customer focus. And I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about content ... a little bit deeper from the strategic approach because, you know, a lot of what you talked about came from marketing operations groups. But, quite often we don't see the content team reporting into that marketing ops group. So, how does that relationship often work best in the companies you've seen?
Jeff:Yeah, it's really ... and you're right, it very seldom does. I don't think I've actually seen content report into marketing ops, but marketing ops is really trying to manage the whole process, though. It could be supporting multiple agencies. It could be supporting product marketing groups or different stakeholders around the business because they are centralizing and managing the production and execution of the campaigns. So there needs to be a consistency to the creative brief process. A governance around reports, analytics. Consistency to brands and value realization across the assets. So, that's really an important role that marketing ops plays. So, from a strategic standpoint, it's really taking a step back and looking at the different channels, and the different people that you are trying to reach and figure out how to deliver consistently across that brand promise. Because a lot people also interchange terms: multi-channel and omni-channel. And there's a difference there because multi-channel, which most businesses do to some degree. You know, you're emailing, you have a website, and if you have a mobile app, you go to a trade show, you buy some advertising on Google. Those are all channels, right. So, you're executing.
But, it's very seldom coordinated. So that each of those channels, different people are running those groups and there's different content. There's different assets, different experiences from a customer point of view. They're getting an inconsistent experience. Omni-channel ensures that it doesn't matter what channel it is. Whether I'm on my mobile device, I'm on my laptop, I'm in the store, I'm online, I'm on television. The content, the brand experience, with that company is the same.
Randy:So, all right, I love that. So maybe for those that are less familiar ... and I know I'm putting you on the spot a bit here Jeff, but, whether it's the clients you've worked with or brand you really admire out there. Who do you think is doing a great job at delivering that omni-channel experience?
Jeff:You know what, there's actually a few. I mean, certainly, I think, Starbucks, Disney are two great examples on a consumer point-of-view, direct to consumer. Where, you know, if anyone ... I'm sure almost everyone's had the Disney experience. But, you go to the website, you're going to start researching properties or vacations and it sends you to a trip planning website and you download the app on your phone and you can make reservations. And then, when you get to the park they give you the magic band and you can use that for scanning on rides and making reservations and then because they know where you're at and what you're doing, they can offer a very specific promotional messages and content. So, as an example of really using all the channels as well as creating a channel, as those magic bands are the only channel that Disney created.
Starbucks with their loyalty program. So, hey, you've got the app on your phone. So as soon as you're within the vicinity of Starbucks you start getting, you know, the thing flashing on your phone. You're near a store. You go in. You realize you're low on your ... you don't have enough points on your loyalty program or you want to put more money into your account. You can do it right there in store or you can do it online. You can do it at home. So those are two good examples.
On the banking side, Bank of America has really come a long way the last couple years. If you think about it, smartphones are only 10-11 years old. And for the first couple years, nobody was, at least in the US anyway, was banking online. It was unheard of because people don't trust it. Now, significant amount of people are, so you could drive by your bank, it's a ghost town. They shut down the drive-thru lanes now. It's like two towers in there because people aren't going to the physical locations anymore. So, but beyond that, from a content standpoint, why that means that I can go online and do my banking and then I can launch the mobile app and I'm going to get a very similar experience. I can do similar things. I can get similar messaging. And that's really where it's important, that content asset has to be repurposed across multiple channels.
So, even something as long as a white paper, how do I make the white paper more interactive because most people aren't going to want to read a white paper on a smartphone. So how do you break it up into smaller pieces? And so, it's really more about understanding the purpose of the content, the strategy behind it, the channel that you're trying to deploy it in, the audience that you're trying to reach, and the best way of repurposing that content so it's effective.
Randy:That's really interesting. I love the Disney example. It's funny, I was just on vacation and I tried to convince my wife to go to Disney, but she's ... I don't want to call it Disney here, because then people are going to think she's this terrible person. But, she can't buy in. I love the Disney experience. So we kind of settled in the middle. We went to Beaches, which also delivers an amazing omni-channel experiences as you described there. But, a lot of the things that you talked about with Disney or that I experienced on my vacation recently, they're very product minded. So, what we kind of skipped over back on the first segment on the podcast here was, how does the product team and the content team need to interface to make sure that the ebook that you speak of or the blog post that we may write to complement really reflect that actual product that's being offered at the end.
Jeff:I think what they have to do is literally take a page out of Amazon's book. Areas on meetings. There literally is a blank chair. That chair represents the customer. And Jeff Bezos and the team literally talk to the chair. Because the point is, it's really easy for us, especially as marketers, we're all creative types. We can get in a room. We can come up with all kinds of great stuff. But, how do we know that the customer really likes it and will validate it? So, the best way for product marketing and content people to collaborate marketing ops is to get the voice of the customer. Really understand and make sure that's present and when you're doing an ask that customer; hey, when you're on your website, how do you interact with our content? What do you like, what do you not like?
Because all of us know ... doesn't matter what the product to service is. Every one of us wants an Amazon or Netflix experience. That's what we've come to expect and demand. So, we have to raise our game, no matter what we sell. And so, the best way to do that and when I talk to a lot of clients, people survey their customers, but it's more of the quarterly or annual net promoter, like are you happy, would you recommend us. But, they're not really talking to the customer. They're not really finding out, hey, who'd you talk to before you came here? What do you like about our products? What do you not like? Are we delivering on our brand promise? What content that we produce do you read and why? If you don't, why? What channels do you use? Are there other sites that you go to or compare us or go to that you would prefer to read it? What's the best way to reach you? How do we do that?
And so, one of the best things about GDPR, and I mean it's going to ... especially in [inaudible 00:19:52] anyway but, as it's going to work its way back here to US companies that do business over there. Is it's going to finally force marketers to really respect people's preferences. And not just respect them, but serve them. I mean, understand what the customer really wants and give it to them. I mean at the end of the day, of course, the customer understands we want to sell our stuff, that's a given. But, people want a relationship, and they want to know that you respect them. They want something that's real.
Randy:I love those examples. And I always go back to the Netflix example. Funny, I often tell the story when we onboard people here at Uberflip to our own team is we talk about the mistakes that Blockbuster made. Right, you know, contrasting to Netflix or Amazon. Wherein, I don't know if you know this story, but this was before they were ... you know, Netflix was streaming, they were sending DVDs in the mail, right. And what they did, they did a focus group. And the focus group came back where they asked the wrong questions. The opposite of your point, I guess Jeff, which is, they said, what do you like about going to Blockbuster? And, do you want us to change to the mail DVD? And people said what they liked was seeing their neighbors.
But what they ignored was all the things that they didn't like. Like, putting your boots on in the winter. Getting there and not finding what you want. I like that way you listed off some really deep, meaningful questions there that we need to ask people before it's too late; before they've completely tuned us out. And I'm wondering, how do you ... maybe the last question before we start to wrap up here is, how do you work with companies to push them to think about those questions effectively that we need to ask customers?
Jeff:A lot times before we go onsite, we ask our customer to invite some of their customers into the meeting. It's a great way of forcing the conversation. And we really make the meeting very much about their customer. And then we won't facilitate the dialog. We're there ... this is not a ... the trials where you're watching people through the window. This is like, just talk to the customer and get their honest opinion. And we ask our clients, hey, invite in some customers that you have great relationships that will be supportive, but also invite in a customer that you've had a hard time with because we want to get the full perspective. And that's one of the best ways to do it. And I would say, probably 90% of the time or more, it's the first time they've ever done something like that.
Randy:Absolutely. I think that's great. I mean, our VP of Success here, very much subscribes to that. And obviously we want to learn from customers at all times and we want to drive value from our customers. But, even when we do fail or a customer does turn, we view that as an opportunity to learn and really dig in there and understand what could we have done differently. Where would the value have lived? And sometimes you learn more from those than you would from any other interaction with the customer.
Jeff, this has been great. We've got a couple more minutes if you could standby and we'll just ask you a couple questions. Get to know you outside of the marketing operations world. We'll right back here on Conex with Jeff Pedowitz.
All right, Jeff. We've got a couple more minutes here and we always like to get to know our content experience pros. And I had a couple questions for you. You kind of opened the can of worms by talking about the Netflix experiences and the Amazon experiences during our interview. So, first thing is; what are your top three things that you love to search on Amazon for? Like if you're buying on Amazon, where will you go and buy there that you would not have previously?
Jeff:Oh gosh, it's kind of funny because I think there is probably a package arriving almost everyday now. I don't know ... I think ...
Randy:It's wild, huh? I'm like, what did I order? I'm like, you see that box and you're like did I order something this week or am I getting a present?
Jeff:Well, it's funny and it's not just Amazon. It's Door Dash or Grub Hub, or, Uber Eats or any of those things. It's just more and more and more, it's between the kids because we have three kids, and the business and travel. It just seems there's less and less time. So, feels like I'm spending more and more time online doing the things I would have previously done just to make my life easier. And even if I have to pay a little bit more, most of the time I don't care. As long as the service promised is fulfilled. It could be anything. It could be clothes. It could be electronics. It could be gifts. Those are probably some of the main things.
And then on Netflix, it's harder and harder to just sit down and watch TV with the schedule. I love binge watching. My wife and I actually just binge watched Gotham. Over the last ... took us about three weeks to get through. All the seasons, we watched it beginning to end. So yeah, it's great to be able to do that and just find time and services like that can make life better and at the same time we also love to travel and when we travel, we turn everything off.
Randy:All right.
Jeff:Because I don't want to see an email. I don't want a phone message. I purposely try and find places where there's no WiFi. Because going into my 12th year having the business, first couple years I wouldn't even take a vacation. And then when we went, my wife and I, because she's a partner in the business, too; we were both working. And so, it took us three or four days just to unwind. And so we'd only go away for a week and basically, you relax for a day and it's time to come home. So you've got to have balance. I think the downside about the world we live in now is just too many channels. Too many things on all the time. It's exhausting and overwhelming. So when we unplug, we really unplug.
Randy:I like that. I like that. It's funny, my wife recently disconnected from a whole bunch of her social media. It was her cleanse and she's no longer on Instagram and she's no longer ... but every once in a while, I catch her sneaking a peek online. It's like she can't fully disconnect and then on the flip side, I'm less obsessed with impressing others. I wanted my wife just to like my photos. So I'm posting less now that I don't have my audience even though it's an audience of one. It's tricky to find that balance to your point in this world of devices and this world of Netflix and Amazon and everything around us at all times and you know vacations are great for that. So good on you for finding that balance in your life. And Jeff this has been great.
I think balance is actually a really good word to leave us on from this podcast because I think a lot of us have to take a look at where our marketing efforts are focused. Are they too focused on lead gen or do we truly understand that customer focus, that customer experience at every stage and I really thank you Jeff. Maybe, I'll give you a chance to just throw one call to action and where people to should go to learn more about Pedowitz Group.
Jeff:Oh sure. It's really easy, pedowitzgroup.com. And we've got a lot of great resources. I'll give you a plug back. We've been using your platform to organize all of our content and we've really enjoyed it.
Randy:That's amazing. Love that. Jeff, thanks so much. For everyone who's tuned in to the Content Experience Show. Thank you so much. If you've enjoyed this. Come to our omni-channel experience in Toronto end of August. The Conex Show Live. Two days of great keynote speakers. August 20th to 22nd. In the meantime, continue to check out all of our other podcasts, whether you catch them at Google Play, iTunes, at Stitcher, at Spotify. We are pretty much everywhere on these channels, ready for you to engage and we thank you so much for joining us.
Jeff:Thank you.
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