A great customer experience is essential for success in business, but what can brands do to help keep the spark alive? As part of an ongoing series focused on the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, Authority Magazine interviewed Matt Conlin, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at Fluent, for his insights. Check out an excerpt from the interview reposted from Authority Magazine below:
Q&A with Matt Conlin
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In 2005, I entered the exciting world of digital advertising, and my passion for sales, marketing, and partner development has been a driving force in my career ever since. By 2010, we founded Fluent with a mission to change the digital advertising industry through outcome-based marketing solutions. We saw outcome-based advertising as the future. Now, we see the industry has fully adopted performance marketing. Brands now know that performance marketing is an important part of growth strategy.
Can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience are essential for success in business?
Wowing customers can have a significant impact on a business’s success. It can lead to increased customer loyalty, higher customer retention rates, and ultimately, higher revenue. However, wowing customers requires a deep understanding of their needs and expectations, as well as a commitment to ongoing improvement. To be successful, businesses need to invest in their customers and create a culture of excellence that permeates every aspect of the business.
We have all had times, either in a store or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
It’s less about prioritizing and more about operations. As a company scales, consistently good customer service is a far more complex endeavor. It means every team member must buy in and put customer service first. Buy-in can happen more simply if you are managing a coffee shop with ten employees (and even that has its challenges), but capturing that sentiment and infusing it across 10,000 coffee shop franchises is a completely different challenge. It’s all about training and development, which are often overlooked and underinvested.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Can other external pressures force a company to improve the customer experience?
I think nearly everyone would agree that competition forces the best out of all of us. And for competitors who prioritize customer experience, the best will get the share of voice, mind, and ultimately wallet.
But yes, other outside factors can also force a company to improve customer experience. Take the pandemic for example. Big box retail adopted curbside pickup so they could continue to service their customers in need and stay in business. Overnight, they had to change the way they service their customers. And there are countless other examples: telehealth, food delivery, online Zoom classes, and more.
Can you share a time when you “wowed” a customer with the experience you provided?
Fluent’s customer service manifests in numerous ways to different types of customers. For the big brands who come to us to help grow their business, we had the opportunity to get to know one client’s business well. We presented a quarterly business report and made sure the data and creatives we shared were tied to what mattered most to them. After the meeting, they sent the QBR to their agency and instructed them to follow our format because that’s how they wanted their reports. That was very gratifying.
Did that Wow! experience have any long-term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
We also connect directly to consumers who are rewarded just to try out new products and games that align with their personal interests. We have received countless letters from people who weren’t sure our offer was legitimate or thought the process would be too long or difficult but were pleasantly surprised when they received their reward and enjoyed trying out new games and products. Just recently, I read a letter from a person who was able to buy a Mother’s Day gift with the reward. I think I was more moved than they were!
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Surprise: The first stage of wowing a customer is to surprise them. Surprising a customer can be as simple as an unexpected discount or a small gift. The key is to create a positive and memorable experience that catches the customer off guard and shows that the business values their patronage.
- Delight: Delight goes beyond surprise by creating an experience that brings them joy and happiness. They tend to last longer and are more memorable. Delighting a customer can be as simple as providing a personalized experience or anticipating their needs and providing a solution before they even ask.
- Impress: Impressing a customer means really showcasing your values as a business. Through this, they now know they can expect consistently good results from your brand. Businesses can make a good impression through exceptional customer service, high-quality products, or a unique selling proposition that sets the brandapart from its competitors. By impressing a customer, businesses create a sense of trust and reliability that leads to a long-term relationship.
- Imbue Loyalty: Imbuing loyalty is the high ground for a brand. This stage is more like a partnership where you are a part of the consumer’s life. There is now a sense of attachment that goes beyond the product or service. Brands can imbue loyalty through personalized experiences and special offers, but more to the point, through consistency and excellence.
- Encourage recommendation: Satisfied customers can become brand advocates who actively promote the business to others. Encourage advocacy through referral programs, social media campaigns, or by providing incentives. By creating a network of brand advocates, businesses can expand their customer base and increase their revenue.
What can a brand do so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
There are many marketing techniques that can turn a happy customer into an advocate. This includes well-placed share buttons and rewarding a customer with added value for bringing in their network. Among app developers, they call it the “K-factor,” which is a metric used to rate an app’s virality. Specifically, it measures how many additional users each existing user brings to the app.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can follow me on LinkedIn here.
If you want to learn how Fluent can help your brand create a Wow! customer experience, starting with customer acquisition strategy, get in touch with us here.