A Talk With Jeannie Walters: Creating Meaningful Customer Moments
Jeannie Walters is a CX expert with more than 20 years of experience as a consultant, coach, and speaker. She’s also an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council and a featured instructor for LinkedIn Learning.
Our team was fortunate enough to interview her on all things related to customer “micro-moments.”
Q: What is a customer micro-moment?
This is a term of Jeannie’s invention. Micro-moments are small, seemingly insignificant interactions between a brand and its customers. The bad ones go unnoticed because customers don’t usually complain. These experiences are only slightly annoying, but they’re significant because they build up over time and erode trust.
Jeannie offered a great example: “You’re in a relationship with a friend or a loved one, and all you do is once a year make a big deal about their birthday. But you basically neglect them for the rest of the year. That’s not a successful relationship.”
Proving to customers that they can trust you can be difficult, so Jeannie challenges CX leaders to ask themselves the following question: “What are scalable small things that we can do throughout every customer journey, to show customers that we care about them, that we empathize, that we are investing in the relationship?”
Q: How can companies identify micro-moments both online and offline?
To help companies identify those valuable yet overlooked moments, Jeannie recommended journey mapping. When journey mapping, professionals should play the part of the customer, imagining each exchange with the brand. Additionally, companies shouldn’t assume that customers will only engage through one channel.
“You need to think about the whole ecosystem in which people live. You’ll start seeing these moments where you can really serve the customer just by being more aware of the moment they’re actually in, then reflecting a better micro-moment in response,” Jeannie advised.
Q: What sets apart companies that are better poised to deliver good customer moments?
CX is about a meaningful experience for the customer, not corporate “blah.” Getting everyone in line with this idea makes for a team with the right mindset and a clear strategy. Good companies are set apart by having a clear strategy that the whole team knows and believes in.
“You have a strategy in place to deliver your customer experience that is well-defined and well-articulated, so that every single person in the organization, from the executive to the individual contributor, understands what the experience is that we’re delivering.”
Q: Is there room for creating special customer moments in difficult times?
According to Jeannie, we live in a world where everyone’s anxiety is increasing. Customers are trained to be cynical and skeptical, to expect companies not to care. Savvy brands find ways to reassure the customer.
“There are no small moments, in some ways, because every single one of these moments is amplified right now,” Jeannie sad.
“It’s all about setting expectations and then delivering on those smaller promises throughout the journey.”
Lastly, Jeannie added that it’s indeed possible to use automation to improve these high-value moments. There are ways for companies to add thoughtful touches even when interactions don’t happen person-to-person.
“I think there are so many places right now where customers are looking for very specific guidelines, very specific help. And we can automate that for them,” Jeannie pointed out.
Q: Over the course of your career, has there been a shift in customer attitudes?
Today, customers can give their unfiltered feedback on a brand, for all the world to see. This sometimes makes it harder to serve customers, as they can approach brands in a defensive mindset after seeing negative reviews.
“The customer expectations are increasing so much and customers are getting more defensive. That’s why I’m so big on being proactive and setting expectations,” she said.
Jeannie reminded companies that customers have many perfectly reasonable demands, some of which aren’t met. Businesses must communicate very clearly and deliver as promised, down to the smallest detail.
“Customers are more demanding, and rightfully so. They also have richer, more robust relationships with brands now that go on for many years. [Companies] have control over our personal data and very personal parts of our experience.”
Q: Do you have any favorite examples of companies capitalizing on small moments?
Jeannie called out MailChimp. MailChimp’s responses are friendly, even in unexpected places like error messages. The thoughtful, encouraging writing gives the impression of a team that cares about their customers.
“I think we underestimate the power of language and the power of those small phrases. You know, making sure the tone reflects your brand, making sure that it feels one-on-one.”
Q: Are some parts of the customer journey more important than others? If so, how can they be identified?
Jeannie prefers to hone in on moments right around purchase. For B2B transactions, the first few months of onboarding a new customer are crucial. Too often, companies ship off new clients to the account management department, where they receive less attention.
“A lot of the time what happens is we manage the customer journey based on our org chart in that moment, instead of the actual customer,” Jeannie said.
When she works with clients, Jeannie focuses on finding ways to be proactive instead of reactive. Customers can be wooed away if they don’t feel engaged and valued.
“Think about when you have a relationship where all of a sudden it’s boring, because yeah, it’s working the way it should, but there’s nothing to it. Suddenly, somebody else comes along and they look really exciting.”
For identifying and bolstering important moments in the customer journey, Jeannie also stressed recognizing good employees. These individuals have in-depth knowledge of pain points along the customer journey, as well as customer requests. Those insights should be translated into best practices.
The bottom line is that creating a meaningful journey for customers is more important than ever. Learn how you can build personalized experiences with Airkit’s low-code platform here.