Build a personalized experience: Use digital tools to build a personalized experience for your customers throughout their online buying journey. This is also a key driver for turning them into repeat and long-term loyal customers.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Tamminga.
Ryan has spent his entire career working inside companies to help improve processes and customer service. His energy for solving complex business problems shows in the solutions and processes he is building at Alchemer, as well as in the company’s incredible customer support team. Prior to joining Alchemer, he was VP of Professional Services at ReedGroup after leading similar groups at consulting firms Deloitte and Accenture. Ryan is a graduate of Santa Clara University.
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?
I have spent the majority of my career in consulting focused on complex business transformation for Fortune 100 companies, developing meaningful and lasting client relationships with my clients, and cultivating people and offerings. I was lucky to gain an inside view of how many of the world’s top companies treat their employees and customers, and the resulting impact on their business performance. These experiences helped shape my perspective for how we, at Alchemer, can create amazing experiences for our customers, and how, in turn that translates into helping our customers to do the same for their customers.
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?
I am not sure I would call this a mistake, but instead a reflection of experience and how important relationships are. When I was first starting out, I didn’t have the appreciation that I do now for how the way you treat people and conduct yourself personally and professionally creates a lasting legacy that can help or hinder you down the road. I just ran into a colleague last year that I hadn’t seen since my early consulting days. He had also moved on from his career in consulting, and was now a potential customer of ours. What was amazing was just how quickly we were able to catch up and how our common experiences helped bridge the relationship between our two companies. The key takeaway is that you never know who you are going to meet again in the future, so try to keep as many relationships as you can on a positive note.
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 been really fortunate to have fantastic mentors in my career. They have taken a personal vested interest in my development, pushed me hard to be better, and have positioned me to take on new challenges and growth opportunities. They have taught me the value of stewardship and how important it is to take care of the people around you. Our people are the lifeblood of our company, and I strive to create a culture where that is paramount.
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?
If you treat your customers as transactions, that is exactly how they will feel. People want to be valued. Providing consistently great customer experiences proves to your customers that you value them and their loyalty. The loyalty of our customers is what truly drives the success of any 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?
A poor customer experience can be caused by multiple factors. It could be due to the fact you don’t truly understand what your customer is looking for in that experience. It could be that employees aren’t engaged or empowered to deliver the best customer experience. It could be a result of a conscious decision a company made for a good reason that may indirectly impact that experience. Helping companies overcome these challenges is what we do at Alchemer every day. We work with our customers to help find ways to best capture their own customer’s feedback and wire that feedback into their business operations to impact customer interactions when it matters most. It is essential that companies provide the tools required to connect their employees and customers at the individual level.
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?
Consumers today have more choices than ever, and the rapid digitization of our world caused by the pandemic has forever changed how customers and companies engage. If companies aren’t constantly listening to the signals their customers are providing and adapting to meet them where they are, they will find another business that will. From an external pressure perspective, I don’t think there is a bigger force today than how the pandemic has impacted face to face interactions. While digital transformation has been great in many ways, it makes it more challenging to truly connect with customers. Providing a personalized customer experience in this new environment is the key to success and the solution for overcoming the transactional nature of digital interactions.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Late last fall, I was traveling over the weekend to visit one of our customers in the UK, and while I was at the airport checking my NPS Slack channel, the customer I was going to visit submitted an NPS response. They noted in the open-text comments section that they were having login password issues. The NPS submission immediately triggered a support ticket for our customer support department. An on-call customer support team member quickly and personally responded to the customer and provided the instructions to solve their challenge. All this before I was even on the plane.
When we arrived at the customer’s office the next day, the reaction was one of disbelief. He said he didn’t think anybody monitored NPS reviews, let alone responded with the support he needed to solve his challenge, ensuring his work week would kick off without disruption.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
Absolutely it did. The customer knew and felt that we truly cared about their success, and believe that Alchemer is here to partner with them for the long term.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Quality product/service: Quality products and/or services matter for driving repeat experiences. This, in turn, is a key driver for building customer loyalty.
- Seek out and act upon customer feedback: It is critical to capture the voice of the customer and to act on that feedback to maintain that personal connection to customers, and ensure they feel valued. Ask them for feedback at different points in their journey, such as immediately after purchase, after their order has been fulfilled, or after having spoken with a customer support rep.
- Customer experience is powered by leaders on the front lines: Giving customer-facing employees the tools and authority to impact the customer experience is critical to success. Democratize the ways in which different parts of the organization provide world-class customer experiences.
- World-class customer support: A fantastic customer support experience helps engage your customers with your product and/or services, and builds the trust in your ability to deliver the value that was expected with the purchase.
- Build a personalized experience: Use digital tools to build a personalized experience for your customers throughout their online buying journey. This is also a key driver for turning them into repeat and long-term loyal customers.
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?
A: Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is to turn your promotors into actual promotors of your company. Provide and direct your customers to places where they can share their experience. At Alchemer, we do this by directing our customers who leave positive feedback to sites such as G2, where they can leave a positive review- truly turning our promotors into promotors of our company. There is nothing better than letting fiercely loyal customer share their passion for your company with others.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can follow me on LinkedIn as well as follow Alchemer’s social channels.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!