“Customer Experience” is a frequently heard buzzword in our industry today and as marketers, we are always looking for opportunities to improve the experience. Imagine my delight when I learned about The Experience Management Summit billed as the “Annual Gathering of The World’s Experience Leaders” being held just two blocks from my office.
Qualtrics, the sponsor of the conference, promotes it as “brilliant minds from some of the most successful, admired brands” sharing their strategies and secrets on building world-class market research and experience management programs. What I found this year was inspiration for leadership and creative takeaways to support my marketing initiatives.
There was certainly no shortage of ideas for new and enhanced shopper experiences at the conference. It was a great conference and I left with pages of notes. I thought I’d share my top 5 inspirational take-aways:
1 - One of my favorite speakers was Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and CEO of Thrive Global. She talked about living life by focusing on things that would be important to be included in your eulogy. Her advice was to not look at your phone as soon as you wake up. Take 1 minute to set your intention for the day. Begin the day with that intention - not what your phone is demanding.
2 - I’m not much of a basketball fan and wasn’t expecting to learn life lessons from Earvin “Magic” Johnson, President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers. However, he had some helpful advice. He recommends doing a SWOT Analysis on yourself. He does one on himself once a year. What a simple idea for someone who has written more SWOTs then I care to count and a perfect start to setting my personal goals each year.
He also shared a story about going, as a young boy, with his father to pick up trash (his dad’s part-time business at the time). It was Magic’s job to pick up the trash that fell around the cans. Temperatures that day were freezing and Magic decided to just pick up a few pieces since he was so cold. His dad promptly took him back to break up the ice where trash had fallen and reminded Magic – that if you are going to do a job, you need to pay attention to the details. This is a lesson that Magic has continued in his life. His annual personal SWOT analysis is proof that Magic is constantly looking at the details.
3 - Imagine reading a book on vacation that changes your life. That’s what happened to Lin-Manuel Miranda. He randomly bought Ron Chernow’s biography about Hamilton at Borders. Only two chapters in, Miranda was envisioning the hip-hop flow of each of the characters and was inspired to write the musical. He credits the success of Hamilton to the collaboration of a team of superstar talent. I loved how he paid tribute to the team, who he referred to as superheros. He also talked about how, when he was younger, his mom told him that his heartbreaks and challenges would offer him material for his writing. I thought this was profound advice that seems to have served him well. We can all learn from our heartbreaks and challenges and this was a great reminder.
4 - Liz Wiseman, author of the Accidental Diminisher, reminded us that most managers underestimate how widely employees’ talent is underutilized. She encouraged managers to offer bigger challenges to their teams – which will be more exhilarating for them. People will do their best work when stretched and that they will have a more satisfying work experience. She said to ask better questions that spark learning.
Wiseman also described different leadership styles such as the "rescuer", the "idea person" and the "rapid responder". Be aware of your leadership style since instead of motivating your team, your style may be accidently diminishing your team. I’m guilty of being the “idea leader" so I need to remind myself that my team doesn’t necessarily want to brainstorm at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon. Note to self: Put Accidental Diminisher on my reading list.
5 - How could I not take advice from Shawn Achor, who is known as a Happiness Expert. Some of his advice included:
· For 21 days, compliment a different person each day via text message or email. Thank them for something. These are good reminders that you have people that are meaningful in your life, but also that you’ve just meaningfully interacted with them.
· Start your day by writing down 3 things that you are grateful for – and they don’t have to be major things. Research has shown that your brain cannot feel grateful and depressed at the same time.
· Keep a journal and write every day about one positive experience that you have had in the past 24 hours.
These things not only increase positivity and social support, but also increase productivity.
Another idea for event planners – Qualtrics offered the X4 Dream Team, their personal concierge service for the show. Your request could include having an ice-cold beverage delivered to your breakfast session or turning down the A/C at dinner. I witnessed someone who had texted that their feet hurt, and the Dream Team delivered a pair of new Nike shoes. One of my co-workers asked the dream team to surprise him and mentioned Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and they delivered a duffle bag full of chocolate. Qualtrics did a great job in bringing together some great experience makers for the conference and extended those great experiences to their attendees.