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Building Customer-Obsessed Marketing

Ever-growing competition over consumers results in a demanding customer with endless choice. The only way to successfully market in this environment is to obsess over your customer.

Video Transcript

– So, we are the first panel that is customer obsessed, today, that you are seeing. How many people had wine with lunch? No one’s admitting it?

I saw people with wine glasses in their hands. Okay. Raise your hands higher, because you’re the people I’m going to ask questions to. All right. So, Amit was up here this morning, and he was going through this litany of slogans, and mission statements, and positioning statements that these brands made, right? Starbucks is about creating community, and American Express is about membership, and Disney is about guests, and so on, and so forth.

And as he was saying all these things, in my head, I was saying, “Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.” How many people agree with that? How many people heard something cynical in their head when he was saying that stuff? Okay. So what I want to do first, before we get into the panelists and their discussion, is ask some of the audience members to give us examples of customer obsession in their own lives.

Not their companies, but where they as customers, where you as customers, had a great experience that is reflective of this term. So who had some wine, over here, with lunch, that will admit it? Okay. I’m just going to call on somebody. All right. You, tell us either the definition of that term in your mind, or give us a real-world example where you as a customer experienced something which was worthy of that term.

And who are you? – [Eli] I’m Eli from Optimove. And I was just chatting with Seth, so I missed the term that you would like me to define.

– No, I don’t want you to define it now, because you’re with the company. So can you come up with any examples of customer obsession in your own life?

– I think Shilav brand here locally at Israel for kids clothing and stuff, quite good at their marketing and being customer obsessed, I feel.

– What does that mean, actually? Give a real example.

– Trying to really tailor their offering to me and catch me at the right moment to purchase the right thing that they would like to push my way.

– You’ve been a marketer too long. All right. Who’s next? An example of customer obsession. Are you another Optimove person? No. Okay.

Optimove, Optimove. Who’s not an Optimove person? Okay. – [Female] Well, I was actually trying to recollect any cases of obsession, of myself being as a customer, and I can’t.

– You can’t, right, exactly, precisely. Okay. You want to give us a…? I’m going to trip over this camera here. Hi. – [Ophel]

Do I introduce myself?

– Yeah.

– I’m Ophel [SP]. I work at Fiverr. And I once pre-ordered a book on Amazon, and, like, two or three weeks later, they sent an email saying so many people bought the book that they can now lower the price, and they returned, like, a dollar-and-something to my balance. It was good.

– Okay. That’s a pretty weak example, but that’s not bad. All right. So, who are you, and who do you work for? Alex, you start. – [Alex]

Hi. I’m Alex Baillargeon. I head up e-commerce at Diane Von Furstenburg. It’s a 45-year-old woman’s contemporary luxury clothing company based out of New York, but with a global presence. – [Elisha] I’m Elisha Singh.

I’m with Talkspace, and I am their lifecycle product marketing manager, just a bunch of words. If you don’t know what Talkspace is, it’s a mental health app. And, right now, if you take the subway in New York, you get to see Michael Phelps all over the place promoting Talkspace. – [Lucian] So, hi, I’m Lucian. I work as a CRM manager.

With my team, I kind of cover the offsite communication touchpoints. I work for Culture Trip, which is a company that operates in the travel, media, entertainment space. We’re basically trying to write stories about what makes places and people unique. – [Ron] I’m Ron. I’m managing the CRM for GVC brands, some of GVC brands.

It’s a big gaming company located here in Tel Aviv. That’s it. – [inaudible] Can these not be on at the same time? Okay. And you let everybody win to deliver against the customer expectation?

– To some extent. No, definitely not.

– So I’ll do the same thing to you that I did to the audience. Give us examples of where you were customers and you had an experience that rose to the level of customer obsession.

– So I’ll start. We said we would not mention, but it’s Amazon again. So Amazon is really a customer-oriented company, but I’ll give a negative example of customer obsession marketing. I was in London last week, and I ordered a bunch of stuff, and I got probably 20, 30 emails if I’m satisfied with the delivery, the product came as I expected, etc., etc.

And the bombardment of, “We want you, as a customer, we want you to be happy,”was way too much. So this is obsession that should be treated in another way.

– Obsession gone wrong.

– Yeah, exactly.

– I think the example I have is of Revolut.

– Do people know what that is? It’s an app?

– Yeah, banking app. I think there’s an echo. Is it? No? So the example I have is, basically, every time you travel, when you land in a country, they tell you what’s the exchange rate and what you can buy for a Shekel or a specific amount, and that’s really good. Also, when you’re in the airports always in Heathrow, they kind of told me if I want travel insurance.

I felt like that was a good customer-obsessed strategy, tactic.

– So are we confusing good customer experience with customer obsession?

– Sounds like it.

– People have low expectations. We heard earlier that there were rising expectations of companies, but these are tepid examples. These are not such super-strong examples. It’s a good experience, but I don’t know if that’s customer obsessed.

– Well, it depends. I think it depends what you kind of want. So one example I also have from inside the company, which I kind of mentioned, is the [inaudible]… We have web, website, and we have an app, and people sometimes take screenshots on their app. And it’s a question of why they do that when they can… Arguably, they share it with a friend or they save it for later. So why wouldn’t they use a functionality that’s within the product already?

So, obviously, I can create a real-time campaign and send people a wishlist request or tell them to download the article on their app. But I can also go to the product manager and talk to him and say, “Why aren’t people using these features that we have, and they’re using the screenshots?”

That’s an example of something that we, as a business, are looking into, customer obsessed.

– You have to go and sell that to the product marketing.

– Yeah. So I have to identify how many events are happening, and how many people do that, why do they do that, and all that kind of stuff.

– And I think, actually, Alex, you said something really interesting earlier today about how it’s like an organizational shift, right?

– Yeah. For me, customer obsession is not any longer just one department’s mandate. For me, customer obsession is when it permeates the entire organization, whether it’s structurally… At DVF, it’s physically where we sit. So, typically, siloed teams like retail and e-commerce were on separate floors. Now we sit together.

And people from designers down to true product marketers, product managers, are thinking of the customer, and what they do, and ideating ways they can raise the experience for the customer, even if it’s in the face of profits, necessarily. But if it’s right for the customer, all teams in the organization are thinking that way from the get-go.

– So grade your own organizations. You’re giving examples of improvements that you’ve made on the path toward customer obsession. Who here is in an organization that’s worthy of that term? Be honest. Is anybody?

– I think the key thing in your question is, “What is this term?” Because we hear in the last 5, 10 years, “customer focused,” “customer centric,” “customer obsessed.” Where, eventually, it’s everything about the customer. I think that obsession for customer, it’s behind the scenes. Because all of the time we’re trying to communicate and understand our customers. It’s not something new.

It’s not new to us. It’s us, as a marketeer, as an organization, something that we do. The obsession is maybe you can look behind the scene, and the understanding of the company that all departments should now be focused on the customer. So the typical, let’s say, fight in any company is between marketing, product, and R&D.

Everyone has their prioritization. They want to do stuff, but now we need it for the customer. I say it, in my company, it’s become much higher, let’s say, in the [inaudible], in the tickets that we were opening. So, it’s getting much more scaled, rather than… It used to be, “Okay, we need this feature.” “Why do we need this feature?”

“Because it’s in the road map.” Even if the customer…we don’t know if they need it or not. They may need it. But the thing is that behind the scene, we see more and more from the CEO, like Alex mentioned, top-down, everyone thinking about the customer. So obsession in this manner is the understanding of the company, “Okay, the customer, it’s what matter, and not the road map, and not bringing 10 more features because this is the sprint we are working on now.

– So less about the product and more about the attitude in the organization?

– I would say so. Again, eventually the product, it’s what bring the money, so obviously we need to work on it. But it’s no longer some people sat in a product meeting and say, “Okay, we have this killer feature.” No one know if it will work or not, but everyone committed for it, and then you see what happens when it’s released.

So this is the thing. Let’s bring the customer to the table. Let’s bring the customer to the product meeting. I know it’s…especially with companies of 2 million customers, you cannot bring all the customers, but focus groups, retention people meeting the actual players.

Well, it used to be, at least in my industry, in the gaming industry, it used to be the other way around. You have VIP manager, the retention, I’m managing the retention. We never met the players, which is insane. So in the last year, we start to establish VIP meeting the CRM guys, and we came with a lot of promotion that works really good. We didn’t even have to think about them, so it’s easy job for us.

– Do people in the audience think customer obsession is a real thing or just a marketing term? How many people think it’s just a marketing buzzword?

– I do.

– You do. Okay. And how many people think it’s a real thing? All the Optimove people, raise your hands. Okay. Okay, go ahead. Why?

Why is it just a buzzword?

– Because at the bottom line, it’s always going to be this win-win situation. I think that is not baloney. There is this, like, fine balance between doing what’s right for the business, but doing it passionately so that the client is also happy. You can find that balance. It’s very tough, it takes a lot of failures, it takes a lot of testing, and it takes a lot of fight.

And I’m going to kind of go into a little bit of what you said about this internal marketing of talking to the product manager, and he’s like, “Well, I got to ship these 10 things by the end of this quarter,” because it looks cool to checkbox all the pieces. God. So, this is actually why I’ve sort of switched. So what’s really fascinating, I think, in more startups or more agile environments, is that I come in doing marketing, saying, “Okay, well, I have these revenue goals or these subscriber goals.”

But at the same time, I get to hear back from the customer. I also send those emails, and I look into Zendesk and see what people write in. And, at the end of the day, I realize what I’m saying sometimes is so off-kilter, it is so wrong, that I realized I was building in this bubble. So what ended up happening is I started to do a lot of integrations, software integrations, product integrations, and then also “selling” the features that the clients actually want to our internal product team.

Which is now how I have this weird title of lifecycle product marketing manager.

– More buzzwords.

– Yeah, it’s too much. But, at the same time, I’ve created that bridge, and the rapport, and the trust that now we’re building features that people actually want. And, hey, it’s one big feature that’s it’s going to ship at the end of the quarter. You know what? You can at least say, “I built this big thing, and people are much happier for it.”

– So, Alex and Lucian, you have to talk more. This is what we agreed.

– Yeah. I do believe that it might be a buzzword, but I think the way you look at it… Obviously, there’s customer centric, customer focused. I think this is just a 2.0 kind of thing, where we’re just revamping the stuff just to give it a bit more energy and pizzazz.

– So how does it show up in your organization, though?

– So our company, as I said, we’re a media company and we’re going into the travel industry, into the booking industry. We’ll become an OTA. Hello, lastminute.com. And I think we’re doing that in the way that we kind of looked outside and there’s people that get inspired from all these kind of sources, Instagram, their friends on Facebook, all that kind of stuff, and they put things down in an Excel sheet and then they go to Booking.com or lastminute.com, and then they book a hotel.

Well, we think there’s a room to keep everything on the same platform and provide people with the inspiration, which we’re doing very well, provide them with a way of saving their inspiration on a wishlist, and then giving them the opportunity to book stuff and share it with their friends. So I think that’s an example that kind of goes beyond what’s out there and fulfills a need that a customer has, not something that they have explicitly told us they need.

– So did your customers express the desire for that capability on your site, or is that a revenue-driven thing where, “We’ve got to find a way to make more money, and so we’re going to add booking into the mix?”

– It’s both. Every company wants to make more money. I don’t think that’s fair to kind of pick on that. And it’s not something that the customer tells you explicitly. They tell you their problem or, as I mentioned, I think, earlier, you kind of look at the events that your customer triggers. And you can’t just create a campaign based on those events. You’re going to have to think, “What was this guy trying to do?”

and make sure you kind of tick that box instead of getting him to the next event that gives you a higher propensity of him to buying something.

– I want to hear from you.

– Yeah. I think customer obsession is just a filter through which you can look at your organization, where it’s not a box you check, say, “Yes, we’re customer obsessed.” It’s a journey that you’re on, perpetually, where you’re never going to quite be there, because the customer expectations are always shifting. But if you can even think of them in those processes, I think you’re on your way there. Thinking about sort of branding and advertising back in the mad men days, there was one brand vision and voice, and that’s all the customer saw.

In the past 10 years, you’ve thought of the customer, you’re trying to personalize, but you’re not truly thinking of them as an individual. You’re saying, “Oh, you’re a segment, so 100 of you can get this message.” And I think the future is getting down to the individual and trying to create those one-to-one relationships that you experience in the store with a great sales associate.

It’s a journey, though. It takes a lot of buy-in, a lot of selling internally, it takes the technology to help enable it. But, at the end of the day, we’re all creating experiences with our consumers. And I’m not just selling dresses. I’m selling a dream of her confidence in a board room, or her first interview. It goes beyond just retailing and selling. It goes into adding value to her life, in my case, and his life, and [crosstalk].

– This is where that little bullshit meter in my head goes, “[vocalization].”

– Okay, so I’ll give you a real example. So, we sell dresses. We also do things that are totally not profit driving for us but that create community for our customers. So we, once a week, have panel discussions and networking nights for female-founded, female-led entrepreneurial organizations.

– In your stores?

– In our store office space. It’s a co-working space in the Meatpacking District in New York. And there’s no selling whatsoever in those events. It’s open to the public. It’s a forum for female-led organizations to share their message and to recruit. But it’s truly just to create community and to add value in a way that a dress doesn’t do, right? And so that’s where, I think, it’s not bullshit.

It’s doing something that’s in the face of profits. In fact, it costs us money to host these events, and have catering, and whatnot, and entertainment. But it’s something where you elevate the experience, and you don’t just become the retailer. You become a friend and a resource to the customer.

– So how do you know…? Go ahead.

– I have a question. How do you deal with the fact that, in retail, especially in the fashion, the time to market is way longer than any online business where we can hear the customer saying, “I want this.” We can develop it or not, but we can develop it right here, right now. But you you’re doing these gala nights or whatever, and you hear the customer say, “I don’t like this dress.” Then it’s another cycle of…

You mentioned something before, like six months. So how do you deal with this gap between, “The customer wants the dress in this shape, and size, and color,” to market time?

– That’s a very specific use case.

– If I can add on that. Also, how do you sell that to your designer that kind of thinks he knows what’s best? He thinks that next year red’s going to be in fashion, so, “I don’t care what your customer said.They want blue.I’m making red, because that’s what people are going to buy.”

– Indoor and outdoor wear, right?

– Yeah.

– Yeah, I think it’s a bit of an art and a science, right? So the science of it is the data you get, the amount of people saying they want this one thing, or the number of times they’re giving feedback on a product error. The art is that designer’s point of view. And there has to be a healthy tension. I think that’s when you see great design work done in the retail space, and it’s a healthy tension between a vision, and data, and business-minded logic.

So the example we were talking about earlier is, at DVF, we had customer comments that the wrap dresses which we’re well known for were not printed on the inside, they’re white, and it doesn’t photograph well, it kind of looks a little bit chintzy. And so our designer said, “Why don’t we take this opportunity to make reversible wrap dresses, where the inside is a totally different print?” That’s not going to increase our UPT.

She’s going to buy one dress and get two. But, at the end of the day, it was a product opportunity based on customer feedback, and we think it’s right for the brand and better for the customer.

– Did you test that idea out with customers in any way? I mean, you got the feedback, but then did you go out into the market before you developed it and ask people what they thought of it?

– Yeah. Because our store is right below our office, we do have active customers in there daily. So they workshopped it with the store associates and had prototypes with the customers walking in, and the feedback was quite positive. But it’s, again, it’s something that there’s no magic bullet. In that one use case, that takes six months to develop, from idea to on-shelf.

In digital marketing, we can execute next day.

– Exactly.

– So I think you have to be firing on all cylinders across the various execution and customer touchpoints.

– You were going to ask him another question?

– No, I just [inaudible].

– It’s okay. So one of the themes that we talked about, and you alluded to it just a second ago, the art, the science, the data, and the vision, is this idea…the 1.0 to 3.0 is turning the brand over, or the experience over, to the consumer, from the top-down vision, the one-to-many, to the many-to-one that Amit talked about. How do you manage what certainly is tension between the one-to-one vision of all these customers who are now controlling your brand with their experience and their feedback, versus the need for coherence and some sort of vision?

How do you do that? Any of you, if you can speak to that. Alex, you could start if you want.

– Sure. You know, I think it’s tough to personalize and hyper-segment while maintaining that brand voice and that sensibility. You can do all the trigger emails you want and just plop in product images, but it won’t have that context of, “Why, are we recommending this to you, in Florida, and you always browse red dresses?” We’re going to show you short-sleeve, low-neckline red dresses.”That copy context, you can’t AI-machine-derive that.

That needs to be a copywriter kind of telling that story. So, our struggle is going into a more one-to-one direction in scaling while maintaining that brand vision and voice. And that’s why I think a lot of luxury players have been slow at this game is because they want to hyper-control the message, and the terminology that’s used, and what’s put out there to the world.

They’re all catching up. A lot of these DTC brands who started in digital and they’re digital natives, they’re way ahead of us, because they didn’t have those brand constraints from the heritage legacy that they’ve had. So it’s a struggle, it’s a balance of technology to enable, but also having that human touch. And you need to have that context that a human brings to the table, where a machine or a AI-driven algorithm won’t necessarily have.

So it’s definitely a struggle, for sure.

– I think it’s interesting. Obviously, it’s easier for us to kind of create products. Our product is content, and we write loads of it, and it’s easier to personalize specific communications to what people actually want. So both of you might be interested in London, but one of you is interested in cocktails and one of you is interested in beer, so we kind of have all of those.

So it might be, still, a London segment, but within it, you’d have specific-niche kind of portions. So that’s kind of easy for us.

– Do you feel like that’s manual? Because that is actually my fear, is, like…

– Manual in what way?

– It’s manual in that you have to kind of think of all those combinations, and you actually need to create those pieces.

– This is why we have Optimove.

– Yeah. So, I mean, that’s one question. So, obviously, we’re investing a lot of time and money into content feeds and figuring out what the user want. It is manual at this point, but it kind of provides a use case for what customers want. So they obviously search for bars and cafes in London, they land on the London article that we have, and then from there we kind of build specific reading history of what that person wants.

And as we know more of them, we can give them specific things.

– This can be one of the tricks in obsession, because you want to achieve…the ultimate goal is to know every customer you have. And if you try to tackle every customer with a different offer or a different type of how the website look for him, or whatever A/B test you want to perform, then the obsession will just not work.

The teams that are operating will collapse. The margin of error is increasing way high. So the obsession should come in a manner of understanding your client, but understanding that when you’re working on a mass, find this common language for the group that you need.

– It’s a question of what makes a difference, right? Because I could do personalized content for each, but that wouldn’t necessarily make a difference in terms of money, or retention, or any kind of thing.

– Yeah. So, again, money and revenue, this is what pays the bills. Eventually, we need to take care of it. But it used to be, at least in the gaming industry, all the segments were based on deposit. Whoever deposit more will get more, and not about, “Is this player spending a lot of time with us?Is he good?Is he bad?”

Whatever. So, this dive into micro-segments is a true blessing, and this is the behind and [inaudible] using a lot of Optimove. But we found ourselves sometimes struggling and going way, way deeper than we should into micro-segments and finding ourself targeting 15 players, because, “Oh, they performed the exact same way.” But, still, they are 15 players.

A customer, it’s a singular, but eventually, when we work on a mass, it cannot be singular anymore.

– Who’s a member of an airline loyalty program? Who hates their airline, that’s also a member of the airline loyalty program? I just crossed a million miles with United, not this year, but lifetime miles. And I despise their loyalty program, and they’re forever pushing it in the direction of higher and higher spenders.

– What did you expect from them?

– You chose the wrong airline.

– Well, all right.

– Team Delta.

– All right, clearly. Let me challenge you. So, what we’re talking about is sort of the balance between customer feedback, customer helping design the product or giving you input about the product, and something else, which is maybe top-down vision, or founder vision, or something like that. So Apple Computer, no longer called Apple Computer, Apple, right?

Extreme example of this. Steve Jobs never took customer feedback into account. It was all top-down vision, and they were customer obsessed, right? He would obsess over the buttons, and the colors, and the fonts. And for years, and years, and years, that worked really well. And Tim Cook, the current CEO, is much more egalitarian, much more responsive to feedback from users.

And you could argue that Apple is in a much weaker position now, from a product perspective, than they were when they had a megalomaniac, monomaniac in control.

– Genius.

– Well, I actually think that has to do with growth, right? So when you first come to market, there’s all these… You’re trying to fill that need of people that are reaching out, right? They’re like, “I need…” In my case, “I need a therapist.I can’t find a therapist.It’s really expensive, especially in America.” So what do you do? You build an app, it’s really easy to access.

It’s fairly affordable. And from there you kind of just decide, “This is what I’m going to give the clients.” And then, at some point, maybe seven years later, you have to follow the data, you have to listen to your customers. They are no longer happy that they can just send asynchronous messaging. They want to send PDFs of whatever. They want to send photos.

They want to send audio messages. They want integration with Alexa. So all of these things now, we realize… I don’t want to say it’s a constant struggle, but it feels like it sometimes when you want to say to the founders, “You know, I think you guys came out with a great idea.On board.We all love it.But now it’s time to take a back seat.We have enough data.It’s been years.Let’s listen to the customer.”

So now we’re putting together actual focus groups. We’re actually gathering this data. But then it kind of gets a little dicey when you start to send out surveys that are a little bit too leading sometimes, depending on who the product manager is.

– Also, those who answer negative usually answer the most, so it’s already a problem.

– True.

– So this raises the question… So there’s a difference between behavioral data that you’re getting and survey data and focus groups. So there’s a question about whether customers actually know what they want.

– I’ll give an example of something we had this summer. We saw a decrease, a big decrease, in the numbers one day, and we didn’t understand why. So, immediately, we contacted some of the VIPs that are more close to us and some other, like, less [inaudible] and asked them, “What happened?” Because we didn’t see anything in the product that should bring to a decrease in the numbers.

– Sad day for gambling.

– You were suffering declining usage?

– In usage, in deposit, all metrics, basically. Then even three people said the exact same thing, “It’s Germany.We have a heat wave.We don’t have air conditioners in our house.We are spending the time in the mall and restaurants.We don’t want to play, because we are outside.” So immediately we get together all the marketing team and come up with an idea, “Okay, let’s buy 10 air conditioner and do a leaderboard for all of the players.”

And we stopped everything, so this is about… Okay, we said we have this monthly calendar, and we want to do it pre-planned. Not everything is possible. But we stopped everything and we did it. In one day, we managed to come up with a leaderboard for all of the players, and it was the successful by far, the successful promotion of the year.

It was purely from listening to the players. All of the team sits here in Israel, and we don’t sit in Germany, which this is our main…for this brand, this is our main audience. Listen to three players. Heat wave? Okay, they don’t have air conditioning. It’s Europe. They don’t have a lot of this in every house.

And we got amazing feedback. The numbers skyrocketed. This is obsession, I think, to listen to the customer.

– Go ahead.

– Question for Elisha. So how do you create that time and space to actually continue to innovate? Because customers don’t necessarily know… they know what they don’t like, they don’t know what they don’t even know. So I don’t think anyone looked at a Blackberry and said, “This should not have keys.Let’s wipe out the keys and just make everything gesture-based.” So I think it’s important to have that space to be a true visionary. So how do you incorporate that so you’re not just reacting to customer needs but you’re creating customer needs?

– Yeah. So the proactive efforts there are really coming from… Honestly, we have a very diverse team, and everybody uses different types of technologies. And what’s really fascinating there is we do a lot of internal marketing, right? I show that this is my opinion. I’m going to go into this generational thing. You know, I live with my phone.

It sleeps next to me. That’s probably bad. But I have my opinions of the best apps out there, so I’m going to take those opinions and show them, “Check out this example from ClassPass.Check out this example from Delta.” And I kind of go in with that perspective, and bring in examples, and try and be smart about it. Because, at the same time, there are other leaders in this space, maybe not in mental health, but in subscription or in apps, that I think it’s totally fine to take from.

You know? So that’s kind of how we do it. And then what I kind of do is I kind of ask the question, I run the email marketing, so I’ll just send an email, like, “Hey, guys, what do you think about this?” And there are some vocal people, and I’ll take it. In mental health space, it’s really fascinating, because you want to be able to cater in a private way. I think when we sort of solicit feedback from ideas, people are actually pretty open about it, so I’m wildly fascinated by…

It’s a testing, it’s a whole thing, so I don’t have the perfect answer. But that’s kind of what we do.

– A key point to what you said, it’s about seeing other apps and understanding what they’re doing. So a lot of the time it’s not about inventing the wheel. We can just improve what we have. And this is important in term of time to market. Because you see a good feature. You know in your head, “Okay, maybe I need to think of something to compete with it,” but why not just improve it and modify it to your customers?

Even by calling some customer and saying, “We’re planning this feature.” Even explaining the same feature that you just saw, and ask, “What’s your opinion?What would you want extra, on top of it?” So this is a combination of [crosstalk]…

– It’s not [crosstalk] sectors, right? It’s also people outside your industries are doing something similar.

– Yeah, of course, of course. Listen to all opinion, yeah.

– Go ahead.

– I was going to say I think it’s also important to think of not just the customer you have, but the one you want, and sometimes those are very different. So, for DVF, we have a much older customer. She’s 48 on average. It’s kind of our perfect bell curve. And we’re struggling to get that younger customer, so we’re going at it from various directions. None of them would have said, “We want to rent dresses.” We’re not the first to do this.

Rebecca Taylor is in the audience, and I want to speak to you at some point. But we’re launching a rental business in February, that’s white-labeled for DVF, for what we’re seeing as a macro-industry shift from ownership economy to experience economy, Uber, Spotify, Netflix, Airbnb. Consumers, especially millennials and younger customers, want to experience something and not necessarily own it.

And we went after that opportunity from our market-fit perspective, not because younger customers said, “We want to rent dresses,” but because we saw it as a way to go for the customer that we want, and we think it’s going to be compelling for that younger customer. So looking at not just the current database you have, but surveying the field of who you want to be in your network.

– Have you run some test groups on it, like focus groups? Does people want…or it’s just an idea that came from…?

– Very informally. We’re a bit scrappy at DVF. And we’ve seen success and heard great things from those who have done similar…

– So you already think there’s market validation for that. Obviously, you talked about other examples.

– I was going to say I agree with that. We did a bit of research into this, and we have a big study that’s called “Cultural Mindset,” and it kind of looks at how people travel. People think that the first thing you do is book a hotel, you read some stuff and then you book a hotel. I mean, the hotel is not that important for millennials and younger generations. They care about the experience.

So everything that’s around the hotel, things that you need to do, all of those are actually the important things that kind of form the package that makes or breaks their holiday.

– So you raised a really interesting and important question about different audience segments. And we’ve heard different things today about treating different audience segments, and Optimove is all about that, obviously. So how do you manage that? Do you obsess over certain customers more than others?

Do you treat every segment equally? Do you pay attention to the most vocal or the most lucrative? How do you deal with that?

– It’s a mixture of a lot of things. Of course, you will always tend to treat the VIPs in a… now, and it’s, I think, any other industry, to give them much more attention. But eventually…

– Define VIP for you.

– Sorry?

– Define who a VIP is.

– Loyal, deposit a lot, obviously, above some certain threshold. But mainly loyal, because we can have high roller coming in and then leaving us after two days. And if we would treat him like a VIP, giving him a lot of money without knowing and understanding who the player is, we’ve just lost money there. And he will go around every other… because in all the competition.

He will try to fish for the best deal out there, which is legit from a customer point of view. But we, as a business, we need to identify it and not going blindfolded, “Okay, we have a high depositor.Let’s stop everything.Let’s treat him.Let’s give him whatever he wants, a bottle of champagne, more money, money to his account.”

No. Loyal, this is exactly about obsession. Loyal become a key factor in segmentation. So it’s not, “Okay, we have this depositor who deposited so much money in the first five days.But, okay, let’s take a second, think about, ‘Who is this guy?’Let’s do some research.Let’s talk to him.” It used to be, early days in the industry, you just throw money at him thinking you’ll make him stay more, which works in some cases.

But eventually, you see the margin. You will lose more on the long term. So a loyal player who deposit less is not less valuable to you in your business than a player that just came in with a lot of money. Because, also coming back to obsession and listening to the customer, a loyal customer that run with you for three years is someone that you can call.

Even if he’s not a big depositor, you can call him, you can ask for his opinion. He probably went for, like, six product version with you in those three years, so he has a legit opinion. And he’s probably playing in other places, so he’ll say, “Okay, so in this casino, I saw this feature.Why you don’t have it?” And then we stop, “Okay. Maybe we should,” or maybe it’s not in the road map even.

– You know what’s really interesting, is I actually obsess over anybody that’s, like a risk of churn, right? Because at that point, I think that’s my highest impact. You kind of go into any job, and I’m just going to get real real here, but you come into any job and you want to make big changes. How do you make the big changes? Not just by driving that top-level acquisition.

It’s going to be, “How are you keeping people on your platform?” Let’s just say maybe the product’s not where it needs to be, or the service itself is still not where it is. But as a marketer, you have this opportunity, or product marketing, to really give the user the experience that they’re looking for. So, I’m actually looking at the people who had a bad experience…

– I 100% agree.

– And I’m figuring out, “Why?What did I do wrong, or what did we do wrong?” And I think those are the tweaks that I’m making. The people that are actually happy with our platform, I leave them alone. I don’t talk to them.

– A key factor is understanding what is a bad experience. To understand and to acknowledge it.

– Right. I mean, there’s so many variations.

– For us, it’s number. We saw a player that lost for two weeks in a row, we know he has a bad experience. How is it for you in your industry?

– For us, so it’s really interesting, especially in subscription and mental health. There is such a thing as good churn. It just means you feel better, so that’s great.

– It’s good to come to the management and say, “We had some good churners [crosstalk].

– This is where the marketing plays a part. You know, I promote. I’m spinning sort of this story into… Well, it’s your wellness. You pay for the gym. Even though you hit your goal weight, you still shouldn’t quit the gym, right? You’ve got to maintain it.

Same with your mental health. So that’s how I figured that one out. But there are other pieces too. People come in with expectations of feeling better within 24 hours, and my job is to sort of level set on those expectations or cost. People don’t know that therapy is generally very expensive, especially in the U.S. So, again, my job is there to either make that cost shift… And what’s interesting is something that we’re working on is thinking about different types of plans based on engagement with the platform, versus just, like, a weekly-basis payment plan, right?

Because I think, at that point, we realize, “I’m looking at user engagement and behavioral marketing, and that’s what’s driving me,” which is, again, why I’m going into the risk of churn. Are they risk of churning because they’re not engaging, or losing, or not feeling better?

– So are there any questions? We’ll keep going. We got five minutes in change left. Does anybody want to say anything or ask any questions?

– I have a question. I wonder how many here in the audience and in the panel, how many marketeers, let’s say, give attention to employees…? I mean, like, marketing teams, how many give attention for them listening to CS calls? Literally, sitting in CS for a day or two, or an hour a week, or whatever, just listen and understand.

[inaudible] all getting this really detailed report from customer support, because this is obsession in the easiest way. This is what the customer wants and complain about. Detect it, decrease it, and here you have obsession at its best. So I just wonder how many give it…?

– Does anybody in the audience…? There’s one hand. So, only one person? Two?

– So, start.

– A few. A few. So Brooklinen, which I referenced earlier in our private discussion, are a direct-to-consumer brand in the U.S. I don’t know if they’re international.

– What do they do?

– Like, sheets.

– It’s sheets, but they’re moving into furniture as well. Every new employee has to do two weeks of customer service, every single one, regardless of what role they’re hired into, for precisely that reason.

– It’s super important.

– But you know what? It’s a little scary sometimes. So I do this at Talkspace. I really encourage, especially when we have interns come in, for them to sit with the CS team at least for a day. Again, I get daily emails reading everybody’s complaints, so I like to scroll that first thing to know what my goals are for the day. But what’s really interesting there is that sometimes I worry that people will build in a bubble. They’ll say, “Oh, this one person had this fiery response to…” whatever, and then they build it.

I’m like, “Listen, that was one person.”

– Exactly. We need to know to screen it, how to say, “Okay, don’t get panic because it’s one.” On the same note, think why he said it and if it can be an indicator to a much wider issue.

– Okay. We’re going to accelerate now to get through more material in 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Okay? So the role of failure or mistakes in becoming more customer obsessed. You talked about it, paying attention to your churn customers or your negative experiences customers. What role do mistakes play, or failure play, in this process of becoming more customer obsessed?

– I was going to say I think it’s important. I mentioned earlier that sometimes your users don’t actually use a specific product functionality. And instead of kind of accepting that as a specific failure and looking at why they’re not using that, you tend to throw more money or resources at it that will push more emails out to kind of get people to use that feature, instead of should accept the failure and then go back and see how that feature should have been better integrated with different things.

So that kind of helps you. That’s the role of failure.

– You just have to jump in.

– Sorry. Very talkative. For us at DVF, one thing we’ve done is we have monthly fit/try-on sessions in our stores below the office with everyone, from CEO, to customer service, to e-comm, to logistics. And we’re all hearing customer feedback that they’ve received over the course of the month on fit and things that are not working correctly. I think to accept your failure is to be very self-aware.

I think a lot of, to your point of building in a bubble, a lot of brands lack self-awareness of where they’re dropping the ball. You have to be very humble to accept your failure and to act on them, but it’s important to continue to try to meet that customer obsession.

– How transparent are you about failures to your customers, right? How do you deal with failure that’s public, or do you make failure public?

– I think it depends on how bad the failure is. Luckily, we haven’t had one so bad that we have to sort of do a mea culpa yet under my watch in the past year.

– Compensate the players, usually.

– Okay, super users versus ordinary users. Social media influencers, super VIPs, are you listening to these people more? Do you care about them more versus the democratic mass? What’s your orientation to that?

– I think we shouldn’t listen to them all, but it’s becoming this way because, eventually, they have more impact. So talking about obsession and everything, and everything we have discussed in the last 40 minutes, eventually we need to think of revenue as a key factor. So, yeah, whether you want it or not, it will become…

Just going back to our mistake, so this is a perfect mistake. We had two VIPs that complained about something, and we stopped everything and we changed all the plan because two VIPs. And it made no difference, because there were only two opinions, and this is a mistake. We listened.

They are the right players to listen. They are really important. But we spent a lot of time, so it’s not a mistake toward the players, but internally it was mistake. Yeah, it happens. Again, we’re human.

– I was going to say, is it…

– Quickly.

– Is it random chance, or are those people VIPs or super users because they went down a specific path, or because they were looking for that specific thing? I think, ideally, you just try and put people on a super-user path and then see if that provides you with similar results.

– So the discussion we haven’t had is, what’s the right metric to measure whether you are customer obsessed or fulfilling that definition, but we’re at 39 seconds. So, instead of that question, one thing you want to say about this idea of customer obsession that’s really important for the audience to understand. Say it quickly, and then we’ll go this way, and that’s the end.

– Two things, not one. One, I think you cannot manage what you don’t measure, so you have to be communicating a metric, like customer lifetime value or LTV-to-CAC ratio to the board level in our quarterly board meetings. If they don’t understand that, it’s not going to trickle down to the rest of the company. Let’s leave it there, actually. Go ahead.

– I think, for me, it’s balancing the good and the bad. Don’t always just listen to your bad customers, but also don’t always listen to your good customers, and don’t think too highly of yourself.

– I think you need people of a specialty, but also look at the overall thing.

– So, eventually, it’s about the customers, but don’t forget you have knowledge inside the company and people with knowledge. Use it, combine the customer in it, and I think this is the key for win.

– Okay. Please join me in thanking the panelists for their excellent thoughts.