CX is a love story: Howard Tiersky tells the tale of winning customers' hearts

Aishwarya Suresh

June 8, 202313 min read

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The digital world is pretty much a bustling marketplace where customers are like agile birds that can hop from one branch (or brand) to another like the wind. When COVID-19 struck, the digital marketplace became a sky filled with these agile birds. Some companies spread their wings and quickly adapted to these changing customer preferences, while others floundered, unable to provide the seamless experience that customers were searching for.  

Today, providing outstanding customer experience is more important than ever, like a delicious feast that keeps customers coming back for more. In this crowded marketplace, businesses that fail to provide a satisfying experience risk losing customers to a flock of competitors who are always ready to swoop in and offer something better. 

While chatting with our host Nathan Bennett in the CX-Wise podcast's third episode, Howard Tiersky pointed out: “Sometimes large companies aren't able to change fast enough, and change means both to provide those capabilities and also to provide them in a way that's really competitive.” It's all about standing out from the crowd — it’s about understanding how change is the only constant. To stay ahead of the game, you must adapt quickly and not just meet but exceed customer expectations. It doesn’t justq boil down to providing the necessary features — anyone can do that. But how are you going to deliver them in a way that steals the spotlight from your competition? 

Howard, the digital maestro who's been orchestrating winning performances in the online world, is the CEO and founder of FROM, a digital transformation agency. He's been leading the charge to help businesses hit all the right notes with their customers. With his Wall Street Journal best-selling book Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance, Howard has shown that he's a true virtuoso in the digital arena. No wonder IDG has recognized him as one of the top 10 digital-transformation influencers to follow today. 

In our podcast, Howard opened up the treasure trove of digital success. According to him, you've got to be nimble, compelling and competitive to hit the bullseye in the digital world. Howard's secret sauce is sprinkled with examples from the real world, making it an irresistible recipe for digital success.

If you're ready to take the plunge and create waves in the digital space, read on to let Howard show you how to make a splash! 

Table of Contents

Emotional intelligence for customer connection 

Picture yourself at a concert. The artist on stage is performing his latest album and the crowd is a sea of passionate fans, singing along and swaying to the music. But in the crowd, you see some people who don't seem to be into it, looking bored or even annoyed. 

At first, you might think that the artist should be trying to win over those who don't seem to be enjoying the concert. But as the show goes on, you realize that the artist is doing the opposite. He’s not trying to please everyone, instead he’s focusing on connecting with his fans. 

The artist knows that his music isn't for everyone. He has a unique style that resonates with a specific audience and is not afraid to embrace that. He performs with passion and authenticity, creating an emotional connection with his fans that goes beyond just enjoying the music. 

As a result, the artist has a loyal and devoted following. His concerts sell out within minutes and his merchandise is always in high demand. He doesn't need everyone to love him — he just needs the people who feel connected and inspired. 

This same principle can be applied to big brands, as having a wide reach often means having some people who aren't fans as well. 

To succeed, you must create an emotional bond with your ideal customer by designing products and messaging tailored specifically for them. This creates a devoted fan base that loves your brand and values — as you know, customer behavior (fueled by those emotions) drives brand success. 

Want to create emotional connections with your customers and inspire love for your brand? Keep reading to learn about Howard's unromantic technique for understanding customer behavior. 

 The CX love story: Journey of falling in love with a brand 

Howard proposes a pyramid of three fundamental elements: 

The CX love story: Journey of falling in love with a brand

At the base of the pyramid lies the key to winning customers' hearts: consistently meeting their needs, within your area of expertise. Keep an ear out for what your customers want and make sure to consistently meet those expectations. While perfection may be impossible, your customers will value your efforts to understand and fulfill their needs. Keep your promises and you'll earn their trust. Take Apple as an example. It delivers high-quality and innovative products, regularly updates them and improves their customer service. This reliability has earned them a loyal customer base. 

Moving up the pyramid — the second level involves going above and beyond to surprise and delight your customers. It's the small details that count, so consider how you can personalize their experience with a thoughtful touch. By taking that added step, you show how you appreciate your customers for doing business with you, creating a lasting impression in the process. Zappos, an online retailer, is known for its exceptional customer service. It offers good service by providing free shipping both ways and training its representatives to do more than what's expected. In one instance, when a customer called to return shoes after her mother passed away, the representative offered condolences, arranged for the return at no cost and sent a bouquet of flowers. By showing compassion and making a great impression, Zappos earned the customer's loyalty. 

And then we climb to the top. At the pinnacle of the pyramid lies the most powerful way to inspire customer love: standing for something that aligns with their values. When your brand embodies a mission or cause that resonates with them, you create an emotional connection beyond your products or services. This sets you apart from competitors and builds a strong bond of loyalty. Take Patagonia as an example of standing for something that aligns with customers' values. Their commitment to environmental activism resonates with customers who care about sustainability. In a sea of competitors, Patagonia shines by being a true ally and partner to their customers. Their mission speaks to people on a deeper level, creating an emotional connection that inspires loyalty. This is why their customers are willing to pay more for their products. 

All right, so we’ve looked at the essential ingredients of a CX love story. Now, it’s time to put a dash of the twist. Adding storytelling to Howard's pyramid of steps is like adding spice to a dish — it can transform the flavor and elevate how your brand presents itself to customers.  

Let's dive into the magic of storytelling and unlock the secret sauce that can take your brand from ordinary to extraordinary! 

Master brand storytelling to delight your customers

Have you ever been captivated by a story that made you forget about the world around you?  

Stories have the power to transport us to another place and time, stir up emotions and stick with us long after they're told. This is why storytelling is so impactful for enhancing your brand marketing and relationship with customers. 

So, how can you use storytelling effectively in your brand marketing? 

As a marketer, storytelling is a powerful tool to draw in customers. It's like being a magician who uses words mostly to captivate their audience. However, with so much noise out there, making your story stand out can be challenging. Everyone has a unique perspective that affects how they receive and interpret your message. That's why crafting a compelling story that resonates with your audience is crucial for making a memorable impact. 

In today's world, when it's time to grab the attention of your audience, bring on the drama like a soap opera! So, don't be afraid to highlight problems or conflicts. Your customers want to know that you’re understanding their problems, fixing something and making their lives better. Think of it as "The Bold and the Beautiful" of marketing. 

Wondering how to make your stories one of a kind? Marry your storytelling with data — it’s like weaving a tapestry — the data’s threads bring credibility and relevance while the narrative’s strings add to the creativity and enchantment. This way, you’ll be creating an exceptional story for holistic digital experiences. 

Data-driven storytelling for digital experiences 

As mentioned above, we all know how important data is in creating digital experiences. But have you ever struggled to make a story resonate with everyone? Well, that's because every individual is different and not every story will connect with them. So, to make your story more effective, divide your audience into segments and target the right story to the right set of people. 

But wait, we have a great opportunity in front of us! With the vast data available today, you can create personalized stories that speak directly to each customer. That's where AI saves the day — segment your audience based on their likes, location and quirks to craft a compelling tale that resonates with them. It's like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but the customer is the star! 

As Howard says: “The key to a story being interesting to an individual and not interesting to another, is resonance.” Sure, there will be mistakes along the way, but that's part of the learning process. And that’s what machine learning is great at — “Figuring out over time what works and what doesn't.” It caves a pathway to relevance. And in the digital landscape, relevance is the key to survival and those who stay relevant thrive, while others fade away. 

“Winning Digital Customers: The Antidote to Irrelevance”

Are you aware of the saying "out of sight, out of mind"? That's what happens to businesses that don’t keep up with the times and stay relevant. Take, for instance, the example mentioned by Howard about RadioShack and Blockbuster. They were once wildly successful, but when times changed, they didn't adapt fast enough and soon fell off the map.  

According to Howard, “irrelevance is poison,” especially for digital customers. Who are digital customers, you ask? They're the ones who live and breathe all things digital. And guess what? In the US alone, there are approximately 311 million internet users — that's a whole lot of people who crave smooth digital interactions!

You must not only claim to live your customers' values but demonstrate them, especially when it comes to providing an elegant digital experience. 

How do you create that experience? 

Let's face it, many leaders claim they have the secret to setting up their brand digitally for success, but they often fall short. Is it because of a poor digital strategy or an uninspired customer experience? Oh, it could also be a lack of funding, support or unified vision, perhaps? Well, to really succeed, you need a winning combination of digital strategy, change management and customer research

Now, imagine a struggling bookstore. Its sales are declining, and its customers don’t want anything to do with it. Instead of trying to solve the store’s problems with a one-sided approach, the employees decide to take the proactive path. They conduct research to gain insights into their customers' preferences and behaviors. And based on that research, they discover that their customers are avid readers who crave personalized recommendations. So, they step up their game and create a user-friendly mobile app and a loyalty program that offers tailored book suggestions. Suddenly, their customers are more engaged than ever, and the store’s sales skyrocket! 

The moral of the story? If you want to win big, understand your customers, embrace digital tools and create an experience that keeps them coming back for more. And as Howard says, “If you don't, you're flying blind.” 

Stuck in the digital dark age? 

In the fast-paced world of technology, deciding how to level up your experience can be overwhelming. Should you invest in new technology or upgrade your old one? Is it time to add more channels or try out a chatbot? But hey, taking risks is part of the game. You might even encounter obstacles like tight budgets, confusion about what your customers want or clashes with stubborn colleagues who hate change. It's like a never-ending game of Tetris, but with higher stakes and more pressure.  

The secret lies in Howard’s book — to start with some good old-fashioned customer research. Think of it like a treasure hunt — you're searching for the treasure that is your customers' hearts and minds. Once you've found it, you can create a clear and compelling vision of what the future experience should look like. It’s like building a house — you need a strong foundation to make sure your vision stands the test of time. Starting with customer research is like laying the groundwork, making sure your structure is solid and stable. From there, you can build up the walls and add the finishing touches, creating a beautiful and lasting home for your customers. 

But don't get too carried away with your dreams just yet — you also need a roadmap to get there. Think of it like a GPS system, guiding you step by step towards your destination. You need to figure out what changes are necessary to make your vision a reality and how much it's going to cost you. Once you've got all the pieces in place, you can then start implementing different products and technology changes, chunk by chunk, like building blocks that will bring your vision to life. 

So there you have it — the secret to CX success in the tech world.  

It’s digital makeover time! 

A solid methodology and clear vision for winning digital customers are like a superhero's cape and mask — they'll help you power through any obstacles, even when economic headwinds and budget cuts are throwing kryptonite your way. Don't let the naysayers get you down with their ROI skepticism — keep on fighting the good fight and you'll emerge victorious.  

So put on your digital superhero suit and get ready to save the day with the unbeatable approach and vision presented by Howard Tiersky! Oh, and here’s the icing on the cake — you just have to check out this podcast, and you’ll stand a chance to get a free copy of Howard’s book.

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