Jeff Pedowitz of The Pedowitz Group: 5 Things a Business Should Do to Create a Wow Customer Experience
Talk to your customer and ask them what they want and what are they missing from other key vendor relationships — then give it to them.
As part of our series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Pedowitz.
For over twenty years, Jeff Pedowitz has been helping marketing departments reclaim authority, credibility, and job security by transforming themselves from cost centers into revenue centers. His company, The Pedowitz Group (TPG), has developed an unparalleled reputation in the marketing community, emerging as a beacon of insight on topics such as digital transformation, customer centricity, business accountability and marketing technology. TPG is passionate about helping its clients generate revenue. With over seventy expert consultants in twenty-four states, TPG has services over 1,500 corporate clients, many of which are household names from the Fortune 500. It has launched over ten thousand marketing campaigns and helped generate over $250 billion in marketing-sourced and marketing-influenced revenue.
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?
This is my third business. I started my career owning and operating 35 Subway Sandwich stores before transitioning into software. I held various leadership roles in marketing and professional services and ran a sales training company for a while. In 2004, I discovered Eloqua and I found my calling. After serving as their VP of Professional Services and developing a lot of the best practices around demand generation that are still used today, I ventured on my own to start TPG.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Well, it is probably funnier now than it was then. It was about 6 months after we started the company and my wife and I were back home with the kids visiting my parents for the holidays. We were in a Radio Shack when I got a call from one of our clients that their entire database was corrupted. I remember sitting down on the floor in the middle of the store and I turned ashen. My entire business is going to be ruined! I composed myself, picked myself up off the floor (I think my wife helped) and called the customer back. I told them it was my fault, and I would work on nothing else until the matter was fully resolved. I only worked for that one client for a solid month, fixing everything that was broken and not charging them a dime, taking full responsibility. At the end of the month, when everything was resolved, the client awarded us with a 6-figure annual contract and said that many other vendors would have skirted the issue and not done what we did. They recognized our integrity and commitment to their success and wanted us as a long-term partner. Integrity matters. Doing the right thing because it is the right thing matters.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have had a lot of positive role models and have worked with a number of intelligent people, all of whom I have learned from. But honestly, my wife, Cherie is the person who has helped me grow the most. There are too many stories to mention, but she has given me the freedom to be me and make my own choices, supported me when I was down, took the lead role in raising our children and has been entirely selfless. Through it all she has been a great friend, a tremendous business partner and my soul mate.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
I think a lot of businesses forget why they are in business in the first place. It is not to make money, to build products, or deliver services. It is to help the customer. When businesses spend too much of their time on their own problems and internal processes, they lose their compass. Great customer service and a great customer experience need to go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. Customers have way too many choices in a modern digital world. It is very easy to switch for just about any product or service. Great experience is what builds loyalty and sustainable revenue.
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?
Most companies say they care about their customer, but in reality they care about themselves more. That is why they spend so much time on systems, processes, technology, and bureaucratic B.S. Managers spend all their time putting out fires and reacting to the world around them. The focus is on pipeline, revenue, profit and efficiency. These are of course very important areas for any healthy business, but they overwhelm and crowd out the actual focus on customer centricity. Most executives are not compensated on customer retention and growth — another reason why this isn’t more of a focus.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
You would think it would, but I still see far too many companies not changing or not changing fast enough. Most companies take too much of an insular view towards their marketplace and are missing the bigger picture. Significant customer attrition, lost market share, declining revenues or massive staff reductions can all trigger a change in attitude and approach towards the customer experience.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
We have been working with a financial services client for 9 years now. We started with a small implementation project and have grown with them and now we support them globally. One of their case studies is here: https://www.pedowitzgroup.com/customers-overview/financial-services-case-study/
We WOW them every week — week after week, year after year by focusing on the people and the team. We actively listen, work hard to solve their problems and quickly course correct when needed. As a result, we have become a trusted global partner.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
It has led to significant revenue growth for our client and for us.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. 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.
- Map out your client experience from inception. What do they need? When do they need it? Then map your services, departments, functions, technology to those needs.
- Talk to your customer and ask them what they want and what are they missing from other key vendor relationships — then give it to them.
- Design and build a great onboarding program.
- Focus on adoption and value realization, not cross-sell and up-sell.
- Focus compensation on customer centricity.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
- Invite them to rate the experience online via Google, G2 or other ratings locations
- Ask them to do a case study
- Ask them for a referral
- Ask them to join a customer advisory board or focus group
My particular expertise is in retail, so I’d like to ask a question about that. Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Price is important, but so is quality, service and brand. A good pricing strategy incorporates multiple elements. Customers do not buy only on price. Focus more on your market and what they need. Analyze the competition and then develop a strategy on where you want to compete — then design your pricing approach from there.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
We already have — it’s called The Loop, where we are encouraging companies to move away from the Funnel and focus more on the Customer. Check out the book on Amazon — “F the Funnel. A new Way to Engage Customers to Grow Revenue”
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!