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Best and worst brand Interactions from 14 CX and marketing leaders

Lynn Pine
Lead Content Producer

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and that is certainly true when it comes to our podcast. We can hardly believe it’s already been six months since we launched Now Brands Talk , but here we are celebrating this exciting milestone as we air our fifteenth episode. (Pardon us while we do a little happy dance.)

Over the course of these episodes, our intrepid hosts, Ruth Zive and Perri Chaikof, have interviewed 14 CX and marketing leaders spanning a wide range of industries, roles, and perspectives. While each episode focuses on a specific topic, all of our conversations center around our mission to investigate the brand interaction gap: the growing divide between what brands promise and how they actually interact with the people who care about them.

One thing we always like to ask our guests is to tell us about their best and worst brand interactions — we love it when they spill the tea. And while their answers were unique and interesting in their own rights, we’ve been especially excited about the common themes that have emerged in both the “best” and “worst” categories.

Let's dig into some of those trends and what they mean for brands like yours.

CX leaders share the best and worst brand interactions

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Best: Leading with empathy

The first theme on the positive side of the spectrum is when brands clue into how a customer is feeling, and act accordingly. We can all agree that it’s not good when a customer is having a frustrating or disappointing brand experience, but it’s also an opportunity for your brand to shine — all it takes is a little empathy . Leading with empathy transforms interactions from transactional to valuable and memorable.

Best: Personalizing interactions

"Even the most automated, standardized supply chain can insert that personalized touch and make all the difference in the world so that the experience is very meaningful."

Ruth Zive

Personalization is another key trend and a powerful way to elevate even the most mundane interactions — and it doesn’t take a lot. Anna Skidmore , VP of Customer Care at BFA Industries , shared a story about receiving a hand-written note from the person who packaged her order and how that little detail made the experience so much better. Even if you don’t ship goods, you can still add a personal touch — for example, by sending a discount for a service you think a customer might enjoy, with a personalized message.

Best: Making things as easy as possible

This one might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often brands overlook the basics. 96% of customers say customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand. So no matter what your company sells or how you serve your customers, you need to make every brand interaction as easy as possible — effortless even.

Getting there means identifying common friction points and taking steps to remove, improve, or resolve them — and you get this from looking at brand interaction data and talking to your CX, sales, and marketing teams. It could mean simplifying your order process, being more transparent with your pricing, or making returns simple. (Think: Amazon.) When you know where to look, you can get ahead of potentially negative experiences and nip them in the bud.

Best: Creating consistency

"The best brand interactions are consistent and reliable. When you can rely on a brand to provide the same experience every time, that builds a lot of trust."

Perri Chaikof
Director of Customer Marketing

The final positive trend we identified is consistency. David Resnick , Chief Commercial Officer at A2X , told us about his experience with Jiffy, a Toronto-based software company that connects customers to home maintenance services. For David, Jiffy makes it simple to find whatever he needs and delivers the same seamless, consistent experience every time — and across the entire customer journey, from finding a vendor to following up once the job is done. He always knows what he’s going to get, and that keeps him coming back.

Ruth lays it out clearly, “When a brand is consistent across all touchpoints, the brand equity is that much greater because you’re meeting expectations across all of those channels at all points in the journey.” To ignore this fact can be detrimental to your bottom line — US companies lose $1.6 trillion annually due to poor customer service .

Worst: Being hard to reach

"Once upon a time, brands thought it was great if customers weren’t contacting us. But it’s actually a good thing if your customers want to talk to you. If you make the experience bad in every single channel, you won’t have them contacting you any more."

Perri Chaikof
Director of Customer Marketing

While we know that most customers today prefer to self-serve for most issues, we also know that a successful customer service automation strategy includes automatic escalation to an agent when a customer is angry, frustrated, or not able to get what they need through automated channels. 

The first trend in the “worst” bucket is making it difficult, if not impossible, for customers to reach a human. Ben Segal , Senior Director of CX at Pair Eyewear , told us about a time he was trying to contact support for a rideshare company and couldn’t find a single way to contact a human — no email address, live chat channel, or phone number. Which left him not only unable to resolve his issue, but also feeling under-valued as a customer.

Ruth says, “In a case like this, it’s hard to imagine that a brand would be able to sustain its reputation without a broken sense of trust.” Perri adds, “Nothing makes me feel less valued as a customer than when a brand doesn’t want to talk to me.” So even with automation handling the bulk of your interactions, make sure your customers can reach a person when they really need to.

Worst: Lack of personalization or empathy

The next theme is closely related, with several of our CX leaders talking about times when they did get to speak to a human but that human was not helpful or empathetic. This is especially problematic if your customer is already having a negative brand experience. Think about the airline industry, which has had a rough go of it for the last couple of years with countless stories in the news about unruly passengers and fed-up flight attendants.

While we can cut airlines, and flight attendants in particular, some slack for having to deal with pandemic-exhausted travelers, it’s also worth noting that airlines now have an opportunity to earn back customer loyalty by providing differentiated brand interaction.

Worst: Info loops and dead ends

Getting stuck in a loop that goes nowhere is another “worst” experience that came up in several episodes. This could mean being put on hold for a long time only to reach an agent who’s unable to resolve their issue. Or it could mean having to repeat yourself over and over as you are bounced around between channels.

Megha Narayan , Head of Marketing at Assembled , once waited on hold for 90 minutes only to find out the call center was closed. That kind of experience will leave customers infuriated and lose their trust entirely, so brands must work to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Listen and learn

To hear all of the stories Ruth and Perri shared from our CX leaders, listen to the full episode linked above. And be sure to listen right to the end when we share an exciting update about how we’re expanding the conversation even further.

Interviews with customer service leaders

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