The Value of Customer Relationship Management: An Interview With Dawn Mergenthaler

Dawn Mergenthaler has been leading CRM marketing teams for healthcare, retail, and Software-as-a-Service companies for over a decade. She works closely with customer experience (CX) professionals to understand the insights gained that can be leveraged for CRM. She’s well-known for partnering cross-functionally to improve the customer’s communication experience across an organization, ultimately working to improve customer experiences and increase sales for an organization.

We caught up with Dawn to provide her insights into how CRM and CX best fit together in an organization.

CRM can mean different things to different organizations. To start off, could you give us a quick explanation how you describe CRM?

Sure. It stands for Customer Relationship Management, and like customer experience, it’s a strategy. CRM uses different initiatives and methodologies than CX to achieve the goals of improving customer experience and increasing sales.

Similar to CX, it involves collecting customer information and data that’s used in a variety of functional areas across an organization to provide a cohesive customer experience. Read more

Interview with Bob Thomas of the YMCA: Confident Employees Make Satisfied Customers


Bob, not in the proper uniform

Bob Thomas is the chief experience officer for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. He is responsible for engaging community members to help them meet their personal goals while ensuring a great Y experience through integrated marketing, membership sales, and healthy living programs including swim lessons, group exercise, personal training, chronic disease prevention, and healthy aging. Prior to joining the Y, Bob held marketing, sales, and sales operations leadership positions at Boston Scientific. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from the University of St. Thomas. Bob serves as the chair of the board of The Sheridan Story and actively volunteers at Colonial Church of Edina.

Bob recently led a rollout of new uniforms for the Y’s employees, referred to as team members. The goal was to influence team members to better engage with customers and further increase their pride in the Y brand.  Team branding creates a work environment where every decision and every behavior embodies the specific attributes of the brand. We asked him more about the move to the new uniforms.

You recently led a change to the YMCA team uniforms. Could you tell us a little about the background of the uniforms, and why it was time for a change?

About six years ago, the Y switched from their old, black-and-red logo to a dual-color logo that uses five different color combinations, which was meant to symbolize diversity and flexibility.  The change in logo came with a change in uniform: At the time the decision was made to embrace all of the colors of the new brand, so the uniforms consisted of polo shirts that came in a variety of colors, but were primarily white—which meant they showed dirt, and looked bad even after very little basic wear-and-tear. To add to that, they didn’t fit very well, and team members soon began to express their disappointment with the required uniform.  The uniform became known as the “bowling shirts.” Read more

Every customer experience project is a culture project

Culture is the biggest determinant of effective customer experience. While that’s especially evident in the service space, it’s also true for every other type of company. When your culture focuses more on its own viewpoint than your customers’, you end up with convoluted processes, terrible return policies, and overly-complicated products.

That’s why I was happy to see some of the results from our first-ever journey mapping survey. We’re finalizing the analysis, which will be available soon. So, here’s a teaser about some of the results that are relevant to building a customer-focused culture. Read more

Guest Post: We Hold These Truths: Implementing CX Governance

1JFMNQLRE8This guest post comes from Darin Byrne, Senior Director of Professional Services at Wolters Kluwer.

As the summer goes on and the Fourth of July approaches, I’ve found myself thinking once again about the principles that our nation was founded upon. I am reminded that the signing of a document, even one as revered as the Declaration of Independence, was such a decisive point in our history – actually in the history of the world. And I’ve been pondering even more broadly about all of our governing documents, from the Magna Carta to the Constitution: how they came about and how they still affect us today. We agreed amongst ourselves what our goals were, how we would operate as a country, the checks and balances we would put in place to achieve our goals, and then we wrote them down and implemented them, and – even more amazing – we continue to adhere to them today. It really is pretty amazing.

Relating to CX

And that, of course, got me thinking about what I do every day. Because, much as we might like it to be true, a bunch of people don’t just show up to work and decide individually what they’re going to do all day—we need guidance in the way of a set of goals and principles. And while a so-called “benevolent dictator” might rule in some companies, the truth is that this is not a sustainable model for a business. In order to achieve your company goals, you have to have guiding principles, an overriding plan, and people to maintain and carry out that plan—that is, governance. Read more

The best (and worst) uses of journey mapping workshops

ccexpo_0581We often get calls from organizations who want to hold a journey mapping workshop, but have no time or budget for research.

Our willingness varies depending on what the client is looking to accomplish. There are times when a workshop is absolutely the best journey mapping methodology – and times when it’s a train wreck. Let’s start with the best ways.

#1 As a way to internalize research results

We frequently end our research projects with mapping workshops. After sharing the research results, we have participants map out the customer journey, using the voice of the customer as their guide. Read more

Creating a “Heart-Wired” organization – an interview with Chrisie Scott, VP Marketing at Meridian Health

CAS headshotWhile all customer experience strategies are important, healthcare brings it to a whole new level. Patient experience, and the potential for harm, amps up the significance of customer experience principles, creating literally life-changing outcomes.

That’s why I really enjoyed working with Chrisie Scott, VP Marketing at Meridian Health, a leading and still growing integrated health network in New Jersey. Our work with them will be published as a case study in the forthcoming book Mapping Experiences. After our project I had the chance to interview Chrisie about her organization’s overall approach to customer experience.


Approaching CX

She begins by contending that patient or customer experience isn’t so much what you do, but more about who you are and what you value as an organization.  At Meridian, they take a comprehensive approach to experience, collaborating across the organization to create consistent expectations and improvement. “Marketing, nursing, HR, operations, guest relations, and quality are coming together so that our ideas and initiatives are note created in silos,” Chrisie explains. “We’re changing how we approach patients and families and viewing those we serve as true partners. This view is helping us humanize the experience.” This core philosophy influences how Meridian recruits for talent and takes care of team members, how they set expectations for how team members treat and interact with each other, how they respond to consumer inquiries, and how they support front line caregivers who take care of the ultimate customers — patients. Read more

Why You Should Care About Journey Map Design

62IPO7VGWF-1Who cares about journey map design? After all, it’s your data that should be taking center stage in your maps. Who cares if it’s glitzy, as long as it shows your findings?

I’ve actually seen posts that make this argument. As if facts and data are all the really matter. But you’ve probably seen what happens when you try to sway your company using facts and data. The end result? Not much.

Even worse, I read a post from somebody who purports to do journey mapping saying exactly this: don’t worry about a pretty journey map, focus on content. But while of course content is important—your journey maps need to accurately communicate the voice of your customer!—design is an essential element to success.

We know as CX professionals that emotions matter (in fact, I wrote a whole post about it). When we design customer experiences, we know to keep the customer in mind at all times. So why not do the same with our journey maps? After all, journey maps are an experience unto themselves – we need to apply these same CX principles to a map. Read more

Customers Aren’t Rational — So Why Are We Designing Like They Are?

D6BZSQ2NM2-1In my years as a CX professional, I’ve run into plenty of organizations with CX programs that worked wonderfully, and plenty that didn’t—and plenty that seemed like they should work, but didn’t. These can often be the hardest to change, because everything about them seems to make sense—so why does the journey break down?

As an example, let’s look at a hospital client of ours. We studied their outpatient radiology, including MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds, to better understand what it was like to be a patient. The hospital’s business problem was in patient loyalty—patients who needed multiple scans weren’t coming back for their next procedure.

We discovered a number of problems, but a major one was that over 10% of patients got lost in the hospital on the way to their appointment. Over 10%! There were many well-marked signs, and even a staff person to welcome incoming patients. (By the way, the lost patients would eventually find a doctor who would escort them to the right room, but I’m sure we can agree doctors probably have better things to do.)

The lost patients were on their way to a very stressful medical procedure. When you’re worried you might have cancer, of course you’re not rational. So designing systems based on a rational mindset doesn’t work. And that’s where it always seems to go awry – assuming your customers are rational. Read more

Journey Mapping = Effective Customer Service Strategy

Maps_70172637_m-2015It’s no secret around here that journey maps are key to a successful customer service strategy for your business. We do a lot of customer journey mapping, using data straight from your customers. But there’s more than one kind of journey map, which can lead to questions about what kind of map to create—but also, how to integrate more than one type of map to better understand each facet of your company, employees and customers, to improve your customer loyalty and business outcomes as a whole.

While you’re probably familiar with customer journey maps, employee journey maps are ideal complements to get the entire picture.

You might ask yourself, how do I actually merge customer and employee journey maps in a way that actually gives me valuable information? It’s not always an easy journey, but if you keep a few basic guidelines in mind, it can be a streamlined process with a significant effect on how you understand your company. Read more

Journey Mapping: Not Just a Research Project

6 v2As more and more people are learning about journey mapping, it’s becoming clear to them just how useful it can be. And that’s great! But sometimes journey mapping can be misunderstood—or rather, only used at a fraction of its potential. While many people conceive of journey mapping as a research activity, in truth it can be so much more than that, if you do it right.

The true usefulness of journey mapping lies in instigating organizational change. Doing it right obviously involves lots of time researching with your customers. In fact, a key reason that some see journey mapping as only a research tool is that it is a research tool—but only in part. Viewing customer journey maps as a research project leaves out the most important recipient of the journey mapping process, and the one that makes it a truly unique tool—those parts of the business that most need to understand your existing customer experience. Read more