Customer Experience: Service, Support, and Personalization

Tonya Berry

Vice President at Serta Simmons Bedding

Learning Objectives

Many companies feel they are losing customers to the digital/ecomm space. The reason is often for convenience and price. But, what the digital space cannot implement and execute is the customer experience and service levels that many legacy businesses have been built on. How should companies use these competitive advantages to stay relevant in the digital revolution?

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding marketing fundamentals is still key to being successful in customer understanding

  • Digital marketing is a tool, not the foundation of marketing

  • Customer experience and helping them solve problems is more important than digital access and data capturing

"There are ways to create customer experiences that can be small or that can be big, as long as you understand who your customer is, what they want, and how you can service them. "

Tonya Berry

Vice President at Serta Simmons Bedding


Hi, my name is Tonya Berry. I am here today to talk to you about something that is near and dear to my heart, and that is building amazing customer experiences.

I’m interested in this topic for a couple of reasons. The first is that I’ve had the opportunity, and I’ve been quite blessed to work at a lot of different companies over my career. What all these companies had in common is that they struggle with building customer focused and customer led innovation and activations. The second reason is that I talk to a lot of young marketers, and I commonly hear that they want to be digital markers, which is fine, but what I want them to understand is that digital marketing is a subset of traditional marketing. And with that, you need to understand the fundamentals of success in traditional marketing so that you can be successful as a digital marketer.

If you take anything away from this presentation, what I’d love for you to do is if you have a young marketer, share it with them, make sure that they understand the fundamentals if you’re training them and helping them, and enjoy. I’m going to be sharing a lot of examples of brands that I love, and fit them into the narrative.

Let’s get started. We all know we want loyal customers, it’s kind of the holy grail. We want to imagine that we have relationships with them. We sharpen up social feeds every single day. We follow them around our digital lives, in their emails, and their Facebook feeds. We have their data, but do they love us? That’s what I want to help solve for today.

To gain customer love, we need a firm understanding of marketing fundamentals. I kind of think about it in two buckets. You have to understand your target. If you’ve come from the P&G world, it’s who’s the who, right? Who are these people? What their needs are? What is their journey? Then, you need to understand your brand. What is your position? What do you promise? What is your story? When you combine these things in an optimal way, you create the brand and customer experience, which becomes your ultimate customer experience, which drives loyalty and love.

I want to spend a bit of time talking about how you define your targets and your brand. Let’s talk about targets first. How do you develop a true customer understanding? I’m not talking about demographics, and race and financials and how many kids they have. That’s something. But who are these people at their core? What are their unmet needs? What are their motivations? What are they get out of the bed every day? What is their purchasing journey? How do they buy? What are their touch points along that journey that you can impact?

I’m sharing this example of Dove. Everyone knows that yes, it’s an example that’s been shared over and over, but there’s a reason why. Dove really understood their consumer. They knew from their research that women struggled with self confidence, so they want it to help turn that around. Hence, the real beauty campaign. They know that when you look at television, and when you’re looking at magazines, the women there don’t represent you. Dove wanted to change that perspective. That’s why the campaign was successful. It came from deep true customer understanding.

Then, talk about your brand. Who are you? What do you want to be? What’s your positioning? What do you stand for? What are your values? What do you offer that is unique, inspiring, and ownable? What is your promise? What problems do you solve for the customer that no one else does? What is your story? What new ideas are you bringing to the category? What is your innovation?

For my example here, I want to talk about Chick fil A, one of my hometown brands. I live in Atlanta, and Chick fil A has been around for a long time. They’re not really creating a lot of new innovation, but Chick fil A as a brand is very strong and very confident in who they are. They believe in being a part of their communities. They believe in their customers lives and making them better as well as their employees lives and making them better. They believe in this idea of faithful stewardship. They show that in all that they do, even being closed on Sunday when they could be making a whole lot of money. They give their employees that day off so they can choose to worship if they want and to spend time with their families. Their mission is to be the number one quick service restaurant in the United States. I think they’re pretty successful at that. I don’t know if you’ve been to Chick fil A takeout but it’s very efficient. I’ve been joking with my friends that if Chick fil A ran COVID testing right now, everyone in the country would have been tested already. Great brand.

When you know your customer, and you know what they want, and you know your brand, you know what you offer, you can then create pun intended a thrilling customer experience for them. The example I want to use here is Porsche. Porsche is a brand that is all about speed, is about a sexy car. My husband is a huge fan. One of their experiences that they offer is they have a track at facilities all over the world, one here in Atlanta, and you can actually go and drive a Porsche or have a Porsche driven for you around a track at high speed. That’s a thrilling experience. You can’t do it on the highways, but you can do it at their facilities. They let you pick the car that you want, and you can experience what it’s like to be a racecar driver in one of their cars. That is the ultimate customer experience for their targets, and they do a great job with it. They have a lot of customer love and loyalty because of it.

I want to shift gears a little bit here. I want to move from brands that are doing a good job in this space to talk more about specific examples about how you do it. One of the themes that helps you build customer loyalty and build customer experiences is understanding that there are a lot of options for you in your toolkit. There are digital touch points, and we’re using them a lot right now because of COVID and we can’t really get out of the house. But there are also physical touch points that customers experiences every day that we could be a part of their lives.

Digital marketing is important, but it’s a part of a broader toolkit that helps you reach your customer everywhere that they are. I’m not going to go through the details of this graph in super detail, but what I do want to show is just a couple of examples of how at each customer journey step, their digital touch points and physical touch points that you can take advantage of.

From an awareness standpoint, we all know search. Everyone starts off looking for something with search, but there’s also PR and word of mouth. How can you activate that? Then, you can get down to the service aspect. You can do mobile apps. You can do chatting. You can do community service. But from a physical perspective, there are call centers, there’s agents and brokers that we can use. So, this is intended to show that whether you’re online or whether you’re in person or doing something physically, in order to gain customer love, you have to do it at all the possible touch points as you can where your customers live.

There are a lot of brands that do this well, but I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. Because brands that use they’re all the tools that they’re disposable, and they touch their consumers wherever they are, they touch their hearts and minds and they build the most meaningful experiences.

The first brand I want to talk about is L’Oreal. I actually had the fortune of working for L’Oreal as a young marketer. It was my first marketing job out of business school and taught me a lot about marketing, but also created my passion for marketing. The thing I love about L’Oreal is that L’Oreal believes that beauty is accessible for everyone, no matter what level that you’re at. If you’re familiar with the portfolio of L’Oreal brands, you will find a L’Oreal brand at high end store. You will find a L’Oreal brand at your drugstore. They want to make sure that beauty is accessible for all. This is an example of one of their pop up shops where L’Oreal Paris brand wanted to highlight all their products in one space. This created the L’Oreal beauty experience the way that they wanted it presented unlike it will be presented in a CVS.

You have Apple. I’m a big Apple fan. Again, very popular brand is often referenced. When you think about Apple and how it’s building community through technology, you have a place that you can go through the Apple Store, but you can have a totally a total online experience. I have a watch, I have an iPhone, I have an iPad, and I have an Apple community that I can reach out to and touch just because I have that product.

Disney is one of the brands that I probably would not have referenced last year, but in the COVID times in particular and with Disney plus, I think they’ve done a wonderful job saying, “We can’t have everyone come to Disney World, but we can bring the Disney experience to your couch,” and they’re going to give you all of the movies from classics when I was a kid all the way to what my kids love now, and you can buy the their products you can go to their stores. You can experience them any anywhere that you are at any time.

Lastly, LEGO. My son is a LEGO maniac. We probably have about 50 different LEGO sets. What I love about LEGO is that whatever your hobby is, you could be a space shuttle enthusiast, or you can just love Harry Potter, they have a product for you. That product can be found in many places, but it can be found at LEGO Land, which is an experiential amusement park that they have. They have LEGO hotels.

What all of these brands have in common is they understand what their customers want. They take what their brand stands for me and they create a customer experience that is meaningful to those customers. It can be physically it can be online, but it’s accessible for them everywhere that they are.

I don’t want you to think that creating meaningful customer experiences is about spending a lot of money or building brick and mortar locations. A lot of brands are doing just that in the current times without spending lots of money. COVID has provided companies a lot of opportunity to redefine how they interact with their customers and define who they are based on what the customer needs are. They’re solving unmet needs and solving problems for the customers.

The first example I want to talk about is MoMA or the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. I’m not sure if anyone here loves going to art museums, or loves going to galleries, but it’s a special thing to go and see artwork that you may not necessarily be able to see on a regular basis. MoMA is one of those amazing spaces and amazing museums. They have decided to put their entire collection online, so that customers can still interact with them and get that escape without physically going into New York City.

Warner Brothers is another example where they’re changing how they distribute movies because of COVID situations. If you’ve heard of Wonder Woman 1984, which will be coming out in 2021, Warner Brothers has made the decision to partner with HBO Max, so people can actually experience the movie at home instead of going to a theater if they don’t feel comfortable. But if you want to go to theaters, they will release it in theaters prior to online so that those who go to theaters and love being the first people to see the movies will have that experience as well.

This is a local brand called Oh, Fourth Ward Distillery. They are a distillery here in Atlanta area that makes bakos and gins. When COVID really started ramping up and we were running out of hand sanitizers, they decided they would take their product and make hand sanitizers for people to purchase and to give away to first responders. They took their brand and spread it out.

Lastly, Amazon. This is not necessarily COVID related, but they had a lot of complaints about people stealing their packages, and people not knowing when things were going to show up. So, Amazon did build technology so that you can track your package when it’s on its way to you. Whenever someone drops it off at your door, they send you a photograph so that you know that it made it safely. All these things are, some are big, some are small, but there are steps that a company has taken that pushes a little bit further to give comfort for consumer and to solve a problem for a consumer.

Then, there are companies that can take it a step further. You have building customer experiences for the masses. But then there’s this idea of personalization that comes along with that as well. A lot of brands are doing a really good job right now, trying to create personalized customer experiences.

The first one I want to share is The White T-Shirt Company. They’re an online company that creates white t-shirts, that’s where they sell. They know that everyone wants a classic white t-shirt, and they want something that’s going to last, so they created a business where you can customize your white t-shirt to what you want it to be. It’s sustainable, and it’s quite quality shirt, but it’s customized to you for fit, sleeve length, and how it’s cut for your body.

Another one of my favorite brands is HelloFresh. Without it, I don’t know if my family would be eating these days. You get a wide variety of menus every single week. You pick the ones that you want, and they deliver it to your home with instructions. It gives you an ability to customize your meals without you having to do all the work of going out and figuring out what you want to do. It’s one of my favorites.

Then. the Apple Watch. I actually have my own as well. What I love about Apple Watch is, quite frankly, is that every single one of us could have one and they would all look different. You can take your faces and change them. Mine is my memoji. You can take your band and change it. You have one watch for the masses, with each one has its own personal touch.

With all these examples, what I wanted to share with you is that there are ways to create customer experiences that can be small or that can be big, as long as you understand who your customer is, what they want, and how you can service them. So Based on that, what do you think you’re going to do differently going forward to ensure that you can provide the best customer experience possible for the people that matter most to you? It could be big, it could be small, but it just needs to be meaningful, and it needs to be authentic. That’s all that I have today. Thank you so much for your time. I hope I get to see people in person one day. It’s been great. Thank you.

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