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A Tale of Two (or Three?) Customer Experience Speakers

Jim Tincher Jim Tincher 07/15/2013

What is the heart of your customer experience?  Do you have very specific outcomes you are trying to accomplish?  Two recent opportunities to hear fellow customer experience speakers reminded me of the importance to be tight on your desired outcome and design your entire experience towards accomplishing that goal.

In the least year I have been speaking quite a bit on customer experience, so I was excited to hear two of my fellow speakers within 24 hours to compare notes.  How did they compare, and what lessons do these speakers offer for your customer experience?

Key Highlights

The first was Bruce Temkin. Bruce is the founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), and is certainly an expert on the topic.  I saw him speak as a guest of Nice Software, whose systems help companies manage the feedback as part of a customer experience program.  They brought him to Minneapolis for a semi-public event.  The next morning I saw Stevie Ray.  Stevie is the owner of a local comedy club and a frequent speaker on multiple topics, offering “Customer Engagement: Three Little Words” at a Minneapolis leadership event.

The experiences were as different as you might expect.  Bruce played the role of thought leader, walking us through his research and showing five trends that will impact our future.  It wasn’t interactive, but was very informative.  As a contrast, Stevie was entertaining, leading his audience through multiple exercises.  But he started with 20 minutes about living in Minnesota.  In fact, he didn’t even mention the phrases “three little words” or “customer experience” until 60 minutes into his 75 minute talk!

As a customer experience writer and speaker myself, it would be easy to dismiss Stevie’s talk as fluff.  Yet, if you ask participants which speaker they want to see again, Stevie will probably win.  The truth is that, once you consider their goals, both accomplished exactly what they set out to do.

Bruce was hired as a spokesperson for Nice. His role was to be the industry thought leader, educate the audience, and not overshadow the sponsor’s speaker who followed him.  Had he provided the interactive experience that Stevie did, he would have made his sponsor’s speaker look bad in comparison.  By focusing on great content, Bruce setup his sponsor very well.

Stevie gave the gig for free as a lead generator for his speaking and training business.  While he clearly doesn’t have Bruce’s broad knowledge on customer experience, he still had great content.  He discussed neuroscience and persuasion science, and then applied it to customer experience at the end.  His highly interactive approach represented him well, and likely more than a few members wanted to hire him.  Additionally (and more importantly), his audience was primarily small businesses.  These businesses could not really use Bruce’s information, which focused on call centers and other big-company concerns.  But they could certainly implement Stevie’s three little words that best define your brand.

Your takeaway

What does this mean to you?  Both speakers were successful because they understood their audiences and designed a customer experience specifically to fulfill their needs.  Whenever I develop a speech I do the same – each is custom based on my audience’s needs.

Do you give your same canned experience to each customer, or do you segment your customers to develop a unique experience customized just for them?  Start with your goals for the experience, then work relentlessly to develop the experience your customers need.

Then maybe you can come to Minneapolis and speak on customer experience as well!

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