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CX best practices: Lessons learned at ABPM

18th May 2019
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This year's theme at the Association of Briefing Program Manager's Spring Conference was 'Monumental Collaborations, A Capitol Idea'. Yes, it was fitting that the 4-day conference took place in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. - but more importantly, it speaks to the changes taking place across the executive briefing/customer experience space for large enterprises.

We know businesses now compete mainly on experience (not price), so organizations that operate high-touch, customer-facing areas within their venues are paying attention to what 'experiences' they are currently delivering. 

Let's break it down: 

Monumental = great importance

Collaboration = collectively create something

Capitol = building, structure

Idea = course of action 

So, while at the conference, we jotted down a few ideas for inspirations and inclusion for your customer experience program. We're all looking to build something of value, and your executive briefing center, innovation center, customer experience center, whatever you call it... it matters, it's important, and deserves an experience that showcases it.

Build Trust & Credibility 

You, your team, and the organization you individually and collectively represent are a reflection of your company's prowess. Ability to deliver. People that interface with your customers, briefing professional, sales rep, subject matter experts, are directly responsible for building trust and credibility with a prospective or even existing customer.

Presentation is as much about people as it is about your center. Think of the characteristics we associated with building a relationship with people - and they can likewise be applied to your physical spaces too:

Cosmetics. The way we dress tells a story of who we believe we are and how we want others to see us. The same goes for your EBC. The cosmetic impact, albeit aesthetic, also tells a story to your customer. Is your physical environment healthy, is it up to date, is it smart, is it modern, is it outfitted with the tools and resources to build your trust and credibility in your industry?

Nonverbal Communication. Even if we're not talking, we're still 'saying' something. Our feelings and intentions can be emoted in several different ways including body language, facial expression, and even something as minor as our breathing. Likewise, within your meeting spaces, nonverbal communication tells a story. Akin to cosmetics, are their pictures on the wall that evoke a certain feeling or emotion? Does the lighting appeal to the right mood you want to set (blue for calm, yellow for appetite)? Does your physical space including tables, chairs, exit and entry all map back to a positive customer experience that demonstrates your company's capabilities.

Verbal Communication. The conversations we have internally and externally within the organization have direct impact to the customer. Tonality and language can set you apart from the crowd 1:1, in meetings, and even in larger groups. People that are able to command a room and draw people in to want to listen tend to excel. Is your EBC set-up for good conversation. Are you enabling the types of discourse you want to have and need to have with the customer? Are teams across the organization telling the same story?

At the end of the day, what you're trying to say in as many ways as possible is "I'm a leader in my field. I'm here to help you. You can trust me". Thanks Mark Bowden @truthplane for that nugget.

Plan For the Before, During, and After

Much of the conversation at this year's conference was about planning for pre, during, and post-meeting touchpoints. This is not a new concept. However, briefing programs and teams are understanding not only the importance of accounting for these milestones in the customer journey but also uncovering pathways and tools that will help them accomplish this.

Before. This is a time where you can clearly sets goals, expectations, and anticipation for the customer.  Are you prepared? Is your customer prepared? Are cross-functional teams prepared? Have you accounted for the proper communication channels to set things off on the right foot?

During. Obviously the most critical touchpoint as you're undergoing face to face interactions. But are you also accounting for other things in and around the meeting that impact the overall experience? 

After. Often times we see this an an underserved component of the customer journey. We all fall victim to out of site, out of mind from time to time. But there's a cure! Be sure to map out what things or action items or collateral your customer might need once they've left your site. Anything goes, but personalized, meaningful things like content, follow-through, and communication are beneficial.

Standardize each touchpoint across different teams and leadership for a cohesive brand story and consistent delivery of every person your customer may come into contact with. 

Collaboration And/Or Thinking Spaces

When it comes to your venue, headquarters, or EBC, It's as much important to have hands on demonstrations or  rooms that showcase innovation and your product or portfolio, as it is to add in white spaces as well. These are areas where customers can pull away from shiny objects to give themselves time to think, reflect, and most importantly imagine.  Imagine what it's like to continue their working relationship, or imagine your product in their environment. 

For each journey, the moments that matter are created by the spaces and experiences you've enabled.

We Help Our Customers Do [x]

Getting to the so what. All of these things should be culminating in a story that clearly showcases how working with your organization and your team will help your customer accomplish, improve, better, [fill in the blank]... something. You have to be able to answer the question, what can you do for me? But there are several ways to answer that question and they are all a part of the customer experience lifecycle and even the on-site customer journey. 

In Gerald Zaltman's book, How Customer's Think: Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market, he argues that 95% of decisions are made by the subconscious. So whether or not your product is the best or the cheapest, or the flashiest, decisions are typically driven by elements down-deep - like emotion. 

By making your customers 'feel something' when they are on-site, helps them connect your brand with their emotions - ideally the positive ones. So the key is to highlight the emotional response a consumer will achieve by using your product and working with your teams. 

So to summarize, when it come to 'Monumental Collaborations, A Capitol Idea' for briefing programs, think, what does your digital and physical real estate do for you? Identify what is missing or what needs to be optimized so that you can address these gaps sooner rather than later. When it comes to the EBC - you're the portal to the customer. Information and people flow in and out all day long. 

How do you want your customers to remember their experience with you?

Thank you Washington, and good night!

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