Episode #60: The Hidden Power of Memorable Experiences

Grad Conn

January 21, 202116 min read

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We take a short break from our DCFTS series to look at StoryWorth, a remarkable service that helps you create an experience journal of your life. In this meta-episode, we unwrap an experience within an experience as we embrace the power of memorable customer interactions. It’s a mom-approved, CXM Experience extravaganza.


All right, welcome to the CXM Experience. As always, I am Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr. And today we’re going to talk about my mom. Yeah, we are. So if you’re following on these daily podcast, we have been in the middle of a really fun series on the Digital Customer-First Transformation System that we have at Sprinklr. The topic for today… we had just finished the capabilities model and the value model. We covered those off in four shows. Today’s show was going to be on the maturity model, which is actually one of my favorite ones to talk about, so I’m super looking forward to that. But I want to take a quick break and, and go over some other experience type stories, and then we’ll hit it back probably in about two shows.

So I know my mom listens to these. Not all of them. She may not actually ever hear this one. But my mom does listen to many of these. And so if you’re listening, mom, Hi, Mom! How’s it going? There’s some important information in this podcast for you, so listen carefully. This is kind of a meta show. By meta, what I mean is I’m going to talk about a product I bought for my mom called StoryWorth, StoryWorth like story and w-o-r-t-h, StoryWorth.com. And then I’m going to talk about one of my mom’s answers to one of those StoryWorth questions — and I’ll explain that in a minute — that also led me to muse about experiences and how we need to do a better job as companies on them, and what happens when we do a great job.

So let me talk about StoryWorth for a sec. You may have heard about it. Essentially, it’s a product designed to capture and memorialize memories, often designed for older members of the family who’ve got a ton of great stories. And people keep saying, boy it would be really great if we could get these written down, or you should write a book, or whatever. What StoryWorth does is it divides the task of getting all those great memories down into a bunch of bite sized chunks. So essentially, every week, they give you a question. And then every week, Mom, you’re supposed to write an answer. And actually, my mom’s been really good. She’s gotten behind a couple times. But I’ll go kind of crazy. And then she catches right up. So she’s been right on track.

And the questions are really cool. The way they start is you buy it. And then you get an introduction from your personal manager who’s running that. And then they send the upcoming questions to the people who bought it. So that was Rachel, my fiancé, and myself, who bought this for my mom. And we bought it for Mother’s Day. So it runs for a year. Now my mom seems to be under the impression that we bought it for her birthday, which is February 13. And so I think she thought that she’s almost done. Like she’s only got about a month left. But in fact, it was purchased in May. So Mom you still got a few more months ahead of you. You gotta buckle down and keep going. You’re doing great. That’s an important piece of information I wanted to get to her.

But Rachel found this and Rachel thought, gee, your mom’s got all these amazing stories. And I’d love to hear more of them. And by May 2020, as everybody knows, we were mid pandemic, and we couldn’t do the family get together, couldn’t sit down and talk. And we do weekly Zoom meetings, which has been awesome. But yeah, it’s not the same. And so Rachel suggested that we buy this and I thought, great idea. And so we did. And so the gift is from Rachel and myself to my mom.

And so my mom gets questions. And Rachel and I get an email from StoryWorth, that tells us what question is going to be sent to my mom. And then we get cc’d on my mom’s reply, and then we can actually reply to her. I have not done a very good job of this. I should have done it more often. But I have occasionally replied to some of them with Wow, or Holy smokes, I didn’t know that, or are you kidding me? That kind of stuff is great. And then mom will get that reply.

I’ll give you an example of some of the questions. I’m not going to go through all of them, obviously, because it’s been almost a year’s worth. But the first question that she got on May 11, right at the beginning of it, was how did you feel when your first child was born? And what’s interesting is that StoryWorth picks these questions, but you can go in and pick your own. You can change them if you want to. But they have a structure for eliciting great memories. And the questions are somewhat orthogonal. As opposed to saying, Tell us about your first child. It’s like, how did you feel when your first child was born? So the first comment, the meta comment on this, is that what StoryWorth has done, I think in a really clever way, is they’ve done two things really well. One is that they’ve broken down the task of writing down a lot of memories into manageable bite sized chunks. And then they’ve incorporated a social component because we’re looped into the process with my mom. So if she has an answer, I can see that and I can talk to her. And if she does something really cool, I can actually give her positive reinforcement as she goes along. So that’s the first thing… to encourage the writing down and recording of all these memories. The second thing they’ve done, which I think is pretty cool is they ask about how you feel. I’ll take you through a few of the questions. But the questions aren’t just pedantic. The questions have a really interesting flow to them that stirs your sense of experience. And what I would say if I was to think about what StoryWorth really is, it’s essentially an experience journal of your life. Essentially moderated by them. And you can also give them pictures so they can turn the whole thing into a book. What they do at the end of 52 weeks is they take all the answers, they turn it into a book with all the pictures, they bind it and then they send it to a bunch of people. So we got copies for my brother and my sister, and ourselves and my mom.

And I’ll give you some more question and examples. Which fads did you embrace while growing up? Kind of neat, right? Fads. You know, it’s a neat way of asking the question. What is one of the most selfless things you have done in life? Like, right? Kind of a neat question. Think about that yourself? What is one of the most selfless things? Describe one of your most memorable birthdays? As I read these questions, it’s like they’re very evocative, right? You start to think about what you might say to answer that. At what times in your life, were you the happiest? And why? My mom’s answer to this question was unbelievably compelling. I’m not gonna go over it in public. But wow, blew my mind when I read it. It was really, really, really cool.

What is one of your favorite trips that you’ve taken? What made it great? What made that experience interesting? What made it great? What is one of the bravest things you’ve ever done? And what was the outcome? Isn’t that cool? What is one of the bravest things you’ve ever done? And what was the outcome? Terrific question. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Kind of neat, right? Everyone’s gonna have a different answer to that question. This one’s kind of cool. Are you more like your father or your mother? In what ways? Again, super interesting answer to that question. I’ll do two more. And then I’m gonna go into what my mom said. What is one of your favorite memories of your mother? Very neat question. And what’s some of the best advice your mother ever gave you? Great questions, right? So this goes on and on and on. Because there’s obviously 52 weeks. As my mom replies, I can see her answer. And then I can reply to her on what she said. And I’ve learned actually a bunch of new things.

What’s been actually fascinating is my mom and I have actually spent a fair amount of time talking over the years. I mean, growing up, we spent a lot of time together. And I went shopping with her all the time and was home a lot. And I felt like I had a pretty rich upbringing with my mom and got to know her quite well. And in recent years I’ve talked to her frequently. And I’d say over the last year, maybe last year and a half, actually, I think I’ve talked to her every day. I think yesterday I might have hit her three times. So we’re actually communicating a fair amount. And what I love about this StoryWorth stuff is that she’s writing stuff down, and I’m reading it and I’m like, I didn’t know that. Wow, that is cool. It’s just, you know, the depths of a person.

And then I read this week’s. And when I read this week’s I was like, wow, that is super compelling. And I think it belongs on the show. So the question from StoryWorth is: if you could thank anyone, who would you thank and why? Great question, right? If you could thank anyone, who would you thank and why? So I started reading it. And the first paragraph, which is about eight lines long, the first are her parents, right? They’re immigrants, worked hard to give a great life to their children. Allowed her to go to school. And then she talks about how they always bought her great shoes, because she had narrow feet. So her feet were always taken care of. Very supportive, and she wishes she’d said thank you more, right? I think all kids feel that way. Or maybe most kids end up feeling that way. But the irony, though, I think it is one irony of parenthood and maybe being a child is that for some reason, like there’s a weird stage in your life where you don’t really think your parents had anything to do with where you were in life. It’s mostly not true. I guess it’s a conceit that’s necessary to keep going forward without them. I think that’s probably why we do that. Like, I’m not with my parents every day. I don’t want to think I was dependent on them. I need to think I did it all myself, I get that. So that’s her first answer. Makes total sense. Thanks her parents. Great.

Secondly, her sister. Now, my aunt Charlotte was amazing. Like, oh my god, the worst thing for me I think every day is that she’s not around. My auntie Charlotte was amazing, like a force of nature. True flower child. Lived in San Francisco. Some of the craziest adventures are stuff that Auntie Charlotte told me, that I never tell anybody, not even you mom. And so auntie Charlotte was an amazing force in our lives. And it was terrible that she’s gone. And my mom was deeply influenced by her. Makes total sense. Got it. So it’s pretty long, not as long as the first paragraph. It’s about five lines long.

And then the third paragraph is four lines long. So each paragraph’s a little shorter. So sister Mary Joseph. She was one of her teachers. My mom went to a Catholic school run by nuns. I’ve heard some pretty interesting/horrifying stories about that. But Sister Mary Joseph who I’ve never heard of before, did my mom a great kindness which I’m not going to read here, but did my mom and great kindness and my mom really appreciated that. So i thought that was pretty cool, right? So parents, sister, teacher.

Then her fourth one, also four lines long, is the caretakers at Westlane Secondary School. So my mom taught high school French for many, many years. And she has this really cool idea about how the caretakers would always accommodate the fact that she had to work late and would help her when kids would steal her keys and all the other kind of shenanigans that occurred at school. And sounds like she had a great relationship there. And I can just see my mom interacting with them. And thought that was kind of neat, and that was a little bit orthogonal, but came up and that’s cool. But big, big part of her life. So so far, we’re like, her parents, her sister, her teacher, and the people she spent 20 years working in high school with, right? And that seems like a really decent flow for thank yous.

Then the fifth paragraph, which is almost as long as the paragraph about her parents. It’s six lines long, her parents paragraph is eight, so it’s not quite as long. But it’s six lines long. It’s definitely longer than sister, teachers, caretakers. She wants to thank Big Mike at Niagara Battery and Tire. I’m reading this, I’m like Big Mike? What’s going on here? And he’s the manager at essentially a tire retailer. And she goes… I’ll just read some of this cause my mom’s a great writer, so I’ll just read it: “I’d like to thank Big Mike. He was the manager at Niagara Battery and Tire, a huge man. Lumbered around in ill-fitting massive pants, and my first impression wasn’t great. But he took wonderful care of my vehicle’s tire needs. He always found me the best prices and could make great deals. He was courteous and lovely to deal with. His gentle, velvety voice belies his brusque exterior. When I needed tire service, I called him directly, I went to his office, he took my car keys, and my car would be next in line. I never had to wait for hours as others did, and as I do now. Mike retired two years ago, and the place is just not the same without him. Nobody can fill his shoes and his office stands empty. I haven’t been able to develop a similar rapport with anyone else. I was so sad to read his obituary a couple of weeks ago. I always thought he might turn back up at the shop one day. I always peeked into his office to check.”

Wow. Now if you wonder whether experience is important in your business… okay, this is a tire business. Generally speaking, I’ve put a lot of tires on a lot of cars. And I would say this experience my mom is talking about is alien to me. I’ve never had a Big Mike in my life. It’s pretty grim, usually, at these tire places. But what an amazing impact this person had on my mom. That in the list of all the people she’d liked to thank over the course of her entire life, he’s one of them. Do you get that? That is huge. That is the impact we can have as businesses on people. That people are thinking about us years later, remembering that amazing moment. There’s something I’m going to talk about in the next couple of shows. Experiences that happened to me. Some really weird ones at Hertz this week, and some really amazing ones at Delta, as usual. But it’s like these things have lifelong impact.

And then I’ve got to end with the last paragraph. It’s only three lines long. It’s the shortest one. But this was like incredible. I’m not going to read the whole thing because part of it is a little personal, which is actually amazing too. But finally she’d like to… “thank Mary. She’s a cashier at my grocery store Food Basics. Mary always looks pleased to see me, has a smile for me, and is quick to compliment me on my appearance. She always notices a scarf, or a coat, or a dress. It’s nothing, but it’s everything. And it’s nice to have someone take time to be nice, it makes my day.”

You know, it doesn’t cost Food Basics anything for Mary to be nice. It doesn’t cost Mary anything to be nice. It’s just two human beings relating to each other and connecting. And Mary in a way, if you think about CXM, Mary has got a little CXM database. of my mom. She sees her every day, knows what she’s wearing, is able to notice these different things. I’m sure she knows a bunch of things about the kids and about different parts of my mom’s life. So they’re able to have relatively short — I mean, how long does it take to check out, a couple minutes — a relatively short interaction, but on a frequent basis.

And it’s personal enough, and it’s engaging enough and it’s pleasant enough that again, in the grand scheme of my mother’s life, and all the people she would like to thank, Mary and Mike beat out her kids. Just in case you’re counting, right? So, I don’t know, I found that compelling. I found that compelling. I thought it was really amazing that businesses could do that and have that kind of impact.

Anyway, so I’m gonna wrap up in a second. I do have one more message for my mom, which is in that last paragraph on Mary, when you say that she is quick to compliment me on my appearance, you spelled compliment wrong.

All right, the CXM Experience. This is Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr and I’ll see you next time.

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