How to scale customer experience

Exceptional customer experience at scale starts with the right data

As your business grows, you trade one set of challenges for another. Instead of providing a highly-curated experience to a select group, you’ll focus on scaling your efforts across new markets and audiences. But it can be hard to anticipate how your new customers will engage with your product.

That’s where Ange Temple comes in. As WeWork’s senior director and head of experience strategy, Temple has a solid background in science and liberal arts—she has studied data science and has a masters degree in communications management from Australia’s University of Technology Sydney. She believes the secret to a good customer experience at scale can be found in the data that companies collect about their customers.

“The foundation should always be in your customers’ data,” says Temple, who cites companies like Netflix and Nike as leaders in the customer experience field. “You have to understand what you have, what your gaps are, what your technology is, and how you’re going to pour that into different channels.”

Using data to scale your customer experience

Temple emphasized that scaling an identical experience is nearly impossible—and it’s not what most companies should aim for. “Find the things that are core to your brand and your business,” Temple says.

Automation can help communicate consistently with customers around the world across multiple touchpoints, says Temple, who calls herself “a massive proponent of automation.” Once a company determines its key experience, she says, it should automate it as much as possible—while also leaving room to customize.

“You say, ‘This is very important to us. We have to do this thing this way,’”she says. “[Then] add in the cultural nuances.” That layer of cultural flavor and nuance is what makes a largely consistent customer experience relevant and appropriate for each company location. It’s slightly varied by deliberate design.

A WeWork example: a 12-country growth initiative

An example at WeWork was the Growth Initiative, which was rolled out to 12 countries. The project took a data layer or data-first approach, built on hypotheses collected through customer research on the ideal state customer experience we want to design, then delivered market-by-market and iterated based on local nuances.

“We scaled growth experiences while leaving room to customize region-by-region based on cultural nuances,” explains Temple. “For example, emphasizing workplace reformation in Japan.”

While each location delivers its own flavor of customer experience, they are all consistent with the brand’s global tenets. “At WeWork, that’s evident with the welcome of the community team, the look and feel from our design team, and even the amenities like coffee that our CSA team delivers,” Temple says. “As we traveled to locations across the world for the Growth Initiative, we always felt at home when we walked into the office…it was incredibly powerful and memorable.”

Businesses will know that they’ve hit the sweet spot between automation and personalization when a customer’s experience has just enough information behind it so that it feels curated.

A partner example: Bluestone Lane

Temple points to Bluestone Lane, the Melbourne-inspired coffee shop with 50 locations in the United States, as an example of a parter company that has succeeded in scaling with a personal touch. In episode 1 of the Up At Night podcast, Nick Stone, the founder of Bluestone Lane, discussed his concerns about how to ensure every location provides customers with a personalized feeling.

“Going into a coffee shop and [having] someone know your name and your order—that can be curated through digital means or it could be the physical rapport with that person,” Temple says. “It’s a matter of feeling like there’s a connection there and feeling like the brand understands your needs—sometimes even before you even have the needs.”

Putting intuition to work

There’s one last element that companies often overlook when scaling up culture and delivering amazing customer experiences. Even with all the data available to a business, intuition still plays a big role.

It’s a big reason why Temple doesn’t worry about technology replacing people at a grand scale. A customer is more than a data point, she says, and the differences between people from country to country—or even from city to city within the same country—are tremendous. Cultural differences among customers mean that your business in San Francisco will be different from your business in Austin.

“The way that technology is today, we can deliver highly personalized experiences at scale, but we always need to have a level of human intuition,” she says.

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