Catherine Iger, Vice President of Experient Group, is a customer experience expert with 20 years of experience building award-winning digital strategy and experiences for major brands, including AutoTrader.com, UPS, The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Turner, HoneyBaked Ham and the International Olympic Committee.
Her leadership experience across the corporate, consulting, and startup worlds gives her a unique perspective on strategy, transformation, and problem solving.
Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- About Experient Group
- What does Customer Experience (CX) mean
- Example of good CX
- Some trends in CX that listeners can take advantage of
- Process to creating the right CX for a brand
- How do they measure CX success
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:25] Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, Onpay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Catherine Iger with Experience Group. Welcome.
Catherine Iger: [00:00:43] Thank you so much. Great to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:45] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about the Experience group. How are you serving folks?
Catherine Iger: [00:00:49] Sure. So we do transformational consulting for large brands across industries. We focus on customer experience, technology and management consulting.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:59] So what’s your backstory? How’d you get involved in customer experience?
Catherine Iger: [00:01:03] Sure. Well, I think it’s funny. Somebody was saying that I’m kind of really been doing it my whole career, which is true. I started out doing customer experience from sort of a more agency consulting background, and then I did customer experience from a corporate perspective and then started my own company that was a customer facing startup. And so I’ve really done it and now I’m in consulting and so I’ve really done it from kind of all angles. I’ve been doing it my whole career and I love it.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:37] So can you define how are you defining customer experience? Like, where does that start and stop?
Catherine Iger: [00:01:44] Sure. So, so people have defined this differently, but I would say it’s how customers perceive their interactions with a brand so that that can be informed by their interactions with employees, systems, channels, products, and it includes the business impact of those perceptions. So some people would say that customer experience, they kind of see it as user experience. It’s really it’s really much broader than that. It’s how the entire system of a brand interacts with the customer and how that impacts their revenue.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:18] So are you defining customer not only as the consumer who purchase, but it could be anybody in the ecosystem? Yeah.
Catherine Iger: [00:02:26] That’s exactly right. Yeah, we absolutely have clients who are B2B, so it’s not, you know, it’s not necessarily just consumer facing, it can be B2B, but we do tend to say that the customer is the person who is buying the product. So if it is B2B, it’s the it’s the business, if that makes sense.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:46] Now, what does an engagement with you look like? Does somebody come to you and say, I want to be better at this? Or they have another pain that kind of translates to a customer experience problem?
Catherine Iger: [00:02:58] Yeah, that’s a great question. And of course, the answer is it depends, right? We absolutely have clients who come to us with a specific problem, like, for example, Hey, we’ve got a particular customer segment and we’re not penetrated enough here. Or it can even be we have an idea that this might be the right solution, but we’re not sure or even to the point where they’re like, We’re pretty sure this is the right solution. Can you help us figure out the right way to build it? That said, we also have customers come to us and say we need to be better at customer experience, and so we help them build internal capabilities to help to make that sustainable for them.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:35] Now, what are some examples of maybe symptoms of a customer experience problem that your client or potential client may not even realize they have?
Catherine Iger: [00:03:45] That’s interesting. So so symptoms of a problem. Meaning like.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:50] Like maybe they’re having issues. Maybe it’s with if it’s like e-commerce, maybe they’re abandoning the shopping cart or maybe if it’s brick and mortar, they’re not buying as much as they used to buy. But maybe something is lacking in a customer experience where customer experience is part of the solution, where they’re attributing the problem to something else entirely.
Catherine Iger: [00:04:12] Yeah. So one way to approach that is to look at some basic measures of customer experience and kind of go back to how, how are these baseline metrics performing. So for example, Csat is one where most organizations would start, so it’s really the most traditional metric. It’s often captured through survey questions asking about their satisfaction. They might look at NPS, which is Net Promoter Score, and those kind of determine the levels at which customers would be willing to recommend or endorse the product or the company. Customer effort Score is another one which is measured ease of use. And then of course like retention, churn rate, loyalty, lifetime value and revenue itself. I mean, that’s all that said, as everything becomes more personalized, this whole system is going to shift towards getting more predictive and remediating issues in real time. So we’re helping our clients with things like that today, helping them to predict drivers of churn and save customers before they need savings. So it’s well, think about it. It’s almost. Like Minority Report in a way, except for the good guys.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:28] Well, you’re trying to anticipate where the problems are before they become real problems, I guess. Yes. Now, is the expectation of the consumer different today than it was 15, 20 years ago when it comes to this? Is this something where we’re getting kind of spoiled in that we want what we want when we want it? We expect a higher level of service despite the lower price. You know, like our expectations are kind of getting much more ambitious compared to how much we’re willing to pay a lot of the times.
Catherine Iger: [00:06:04] I think that’s true. And I think the problem is or I guess the good thing is we’ve got some companies out there who are really setting expectations that that then other companies really have to hurry up and follow. So whereas before we might have been willing to wait in line, I mean, I don’t know about you. I mean, I can’t I can’t wait in line anymore. You know, we’ve absolutely leveled up in terms of expectation. So everybody expects for things to be frictionless and seamless across channels and responsive and personalized. And like we were sort of just talking about anticipatory and definitely empathetic. So, yes, all of that stuff has absolutely leveled up.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:45] And is that is that because there are a handful of firms that are really pushing that customer experience value line a lot more aggressively? And then like you said, it’s forcing the whole industry or whatever niche they’re in to really follow or else they get left behind pretty rapidly.
Catherine Iger: [00:07:06] I would say so. I mean, I know Amazon, I mean, I kind of use this Amazon example of, of where I returned a sweater to Amazon and Amazon said they didn’t receive it, so they took back my refund and I called them and I said, Hey, I sent it, let me give you the receipt. And they said, Oh, you don’t have to prove anything to us. We trust our customers. And they immediately reinstated my refund. Like they they didn’t ask for paperwork. I mean, think about how what a drastic contrast that is to so many companies that require you to give them all of this paperwork. So I think there are companies like Amazon that are setting a very.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:45] Now, when you’re working with a client, how do you kind of implement something that could be very disruptive to their culture? It could be disruptive in their way. They communicate. You know, sometimes it requires kind of a drastic change.
Catherine Iger: [00:08:05] Yeah, absolutely. Yes. So I think this goes back a bit to this idea of of helping them to build their own capabilities. So one big one is, is culture and change management. And so, um, you know, sometimes we’ll work in companies and there will be pockets of folks who are really customer focused and they’re kind of pushing against the rest of the company that’s not as customer focused. And so one of the things we do is we will partner with them and really help them to lead that charge within the company. So while on one hand, we are helping them to build a new experience with their customers, we’re also helping them to change the way people think internally to make it easier for them to continue down that path.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:50] Now, sometimes when you’re working with a client is there. Maybe a incongruency in terms of how they think that they’re doing and what reality is.
Catherine Iger: [00:09:07] Yes, sure. Of course. And I think that goes back to some of those baseline metrics and really making sure that you are connecting the customer oriented metrics and the revenue oriented metrics, because sometimes you can have customer impacts that will have a trailing impact on revenue and and companies tend to be fine with it until it starts to impact revenue. Right. So I’m okay if customers are complaining a little more than usual, but if they start actually leaving, then I’ll recognize it’s a problem. And that’s where it goes back to this notion of of getting more predictive and really understanding what the leading indicators are of some of these revenue impacting behaviors like churn.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:57] Now, how how do you recommend your clients deal with the the social media conversations that are happening around their brand? Because a lot of times a handful of vocal people could cause a change that maybe isn’t necessary or to that level of change that a handful of vocal people think it is.
Catherine Iger: [00:10:19] Yeah, that’s absolutely true. You know, this does get into a bit of a PR area, but I will say we always recommend that companies track sentiment analysis, which is kind of the aggregate of how people speak about a brand on social media. So we always recommend that we that they track that and we tend to partner with PR to say, you know, we’re starting to see this kind of sentiment increasing. What can we do to increase? What can we do to remediate those perceptions within the experience, within the marketing communications, and then also in the press facing communications?
Lee Kantor: [00:11:00] Now, is there anything that a smaller business can be doing? Is there low hanging fruit that you see that more and more companies could be implementing if they would just take some action around a handful of things? Is it is there some easy wins for a company when it comes to customer experience that they can do on their own?
Catherine Iger: [00:11:20] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that there are things like I mean, I wouldn’t say that they could do it necessarily on their own, but I think it’s not it’s not that difficult and it’s certainly a starting point. They could certainly do it on their own if they have somebody internally who knows how to do it. But customer journey management is a great place to start. So really getting everybody to understand what how the customer flows through their experience, understand that, that the customer does not experience the company in silos. They do not experience the company as just marketing or just product management. They experience the company as their own view and they touch all of those things. And so if companies start to segment and and really see the journeys for their customers based on those segments and share that those insights internally so that internally people have more empathy for customers, that is a big game changer. You know, it’s not new technology and it’s, you know, it’s not. But it really does make a huge difference when you have everybody internally that have some real empathy for the customer.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:32] Now, you used and mentioned the word empathy several times in this conversation. Do you think that that’s really an issue for a lot of companies that maybe they knew they had a good handle on who their customer was at one point and maybe the customer is slightly different or has evolved since that point, and they’re kind of using old information to make new decisions.
Catherine Iger: [00:12:57] Oh, 100%. I mean, you know, I used to work at a corporation, so I. I understand this completely. You get really focused on what’s happening within the walls of your company and you don’t think as much about how the customer sees things, right? I mean, I think everybody, particularly people who’ve worked in a corporation, can relate to that. I think they they do lose track.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:18] Now, does it require just constant conversations and surveying customers? Does it mean relying or helping kind of the frontline people bubble up information and share it with other people in the organization higher up? Like how do you kind of make sure that you really know who your customer is and what they really, really want?
Catherine Iger: [00:13:43] Yeah. So I usually recommend a combination of, of quantitative and qualitative. I kind of went through some of those quantitative ones earlier where and they tend to be pretty survey based based like like Csat and NPS scores are survey based. You also want to layer in box. So a voice of the customer program where you kind of determine where the right listening points are across the journey and make sure that you are regularly baselining and understanding how their perception of you is evolving. And then you also want to layer in the quantitative side of it where you are talking directly to real people and correlating those two.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:30] So who out there is doing good work when it comes to customer customer experience? Are there kind of you know, you’re kind of Mount Rushmore in this area?
Catherine Iger: [00:14:42] Sure. I mean, I think that I have different Mt. Rushmore in different areas. I can give you some examples that that Amazon example is one that I love, particularly because they said to me, we trust our customers. And I was like, oh, I love that. You know? I mean, that really made a huge impression on me. I’ll tell you, I bought a bed from Crate and Barrel and there was an issue with it after the warranty had expired and they said, yes, this is out of warranty, but we’re going to help you anyway. And they sent a bed medic like who knew there was such a thing to my house and fixed it. You know, there are things that some restaurants do really well. So when I go to my favorite Thai restaurant, they know my order as well as all of the variants of that order. And they sometimes remind me to order thing like, Oh, don’t you remember that you need to order the rice. They remind me to order the things that I forgot. It’s funny like that. This is the thing. Great experiences to me are the ones that this is going to sound a little cheesy, but please bear with me. They are the ones that fill you with joy and optimism about humanity and they make you want to tell everybody about it. I love telling everybody about the Crate and Barrel story because it was so good, you know? I mean, they were like, I got you. I know that this isn’t doesn’t follow the rules, but I got you anyway because we have a real relationship. And that’s why I love what I do because we’re really engineering joy.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:07] Now, in the examples that you shared, they seem very personable, personal, and they seem very kind of one offs in some ways. Is it possible to create that one off feeling at scale?
Catherine Iger: [00:16:24] It absolutely is, yes. And that’s that’s really what that’s really what personalization is. So so personalization is essentially tailoring an experience to an individual based on the information that you know about them. And so that’s what companies have to get really great at really fast right now. And so it means they have to figure out what their customer needs. Personalized. A lot of companies are very focused on just product personalization, product recommendations. That’s not true. Like if you think about what you pulled out of those individual stories is that I felt like they were talking to me, right? It felt like a real relationship builder and that is a part of what personalization is. It’s not just a product recommendation. It’s it’s really knowing me and having a conversation with me. And there are these capabilities that companies can build that allow them to scale personalization around systems and data and analytics and content creation and things like that.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:23] So what are some. Like you mentioned, some of the trends, I guess personalization being one of them and speed and being another. What are some of the other trends in customer experience that you’re seeing?
Catherine Iger: [00:17:41] So I would say more immersive and connected experiences in general. We’re seeing, you know, with the Apple vision goggles, a lot of things like that meta metaverse. And of course I with a particular focus on building and maintaining a trusted person to AI relationship. So right now everybody’s kind of focused on ChatGPT and how do we build a custom instance of ChatGPT? And you know, they’re really not thinking about what is the future of how I interact with my customers and how does I play a part in that and think about how hard it is to keep trust with your customers when customers are dealing with people. And imagine how hard that’s going to be when they’re dealing with AI systems and, you know, really thinking about how do you build trust between AI and humans. To me, that is that is a huge, really important next frontier, of course, especially.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:36] Because trust is so fragile.
Catherine Iger: [00:18:39] Yes, exactly. And it’s the core of all of the things we’re talking about right now. Like the the example I was saying about Amazon when they said to me, we trust our customers, that made me feel like I trust them. Right. And that that’s part of that. The power of all of this is connection.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:54] So who is the ideal client for Experian Group?
Catherine Iger: [00:19:01] Um, so we do tend to work with larger brands across a lot of industries, particularly retail and QSR. But we have a lot of clients in health care, things like that. So it’s not industry specific. We’re automotive as well. Um, so an ideal client for us is someone who really understands the value of customer experience and wants to differentiate.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:31] And what is the problem they’re having today that you’d be able to help them with?
Catherine Iger: [00:19:39] Sure. So a place that we like to start is developing a customer experience, North Star and Roadmap and that kind of. So often we’ll see that people are and I’m not really great at sports metaphors, so bear with me. But they’re skating to where the puck is at this moment in time instead of where it will be by the time they get there. So we’ll see people on these big transformation journeys and they’re five years long and by the time they get there, they’re going to be at parity with their where their competitors are today. So that is a big problem that we see everywhere. Everybody’s doing these digital transformations and in some cases they’re very behind those people that we talked about in the beginning who are setting the bar, setting the expectations to customers. So one way we help customers to get ahead of that and to not be, you know, to skating to where the puck is going to be is by helping them develop this customer experience, North Star, that gives them a clear path forward based on a deep understanding of their customers today. And then also really importantly, what their customers are going to need in the future. So that helps them kind of get around that. And we have a whole methodology for helping them to understand where they can play in the future in the next 5 to 10 years.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:02] So you’re looking for companies that want to be leaders in customer experience, not kind of laggards or followers.
Catherine Iger: [00:21:10] That’s right. Yes. I mean, those are ideal. We, of course, have clients who, you know, are catching up and then will ultimately be leaders. But yeah, I mean, I think it’s always really fun to work with people who are very excited about this as we are.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:25] So if somebody wants to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team, what is the coordinates for Experience Group?
Catherine Iger: [00:21:34] Oh, well. So we, they could go to Experian. Group.com Um, yeah, I think that’s probably the best resource.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:43] And that’s Experian. T Group.com. That’s right. Well, Catherine, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Catherine Iger: [00:21:54] Thank you so much, Lee, Great to talk to you.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:57] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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