Welcome to a new series of interviews that introduce the different roles and people who work at Marvel. In this post, we talk to Rich Crossley, a Customer Experience (CX) Manager at Marvel and find out what it means to be customer-centric.
Can you introduce yourself and let everyone know what your role in customer experience (CX) at Marvel is about?
My name is Rich, and I joined Marvel in January of this year. In my opinion, a Customer Experience Manager is the glue between all the different departments within any company. There are many key tasks that I do day-to-day but looking after Enterprise customers that use Marvel within their workflow is the most important. I also take on some customers' viewpoints, their feature requests, bugs (if they have them), and relay those to all the other teams within Marvel. Often, I'm the voice of the customer for my colleagues, but I'm also the voice of my colleagues for our customer. Essentially, my role is to provide strategic support, which includes training, beta testing programmes and design thinking workshops. That's what I do on a day-to-day basis.
Why is your role important in the current customer-centric world?
People buy from people, and people invest in people. They want more of a service than they do a product. They want to be supported, have a friendly face that they can go to via email, book a chat via Zoom, or face to face when we're not in these uncertain times. Someone available to talk to and get advice from.
I think there's a lot more that goes into software than just the products you use. There's making sure that a customer's embedding it in their workflow to the greatest extent that they can. Providing additional support like training to help them go to the next level and giving them ideas that could challenge what they're doing now, or what other teams are doing to help reshape their workflow to be more efficient or more successful.
“Providing additional support like training or giving them ideas to challenge what they are doing now to reshape their design workflow, to be more effective or successful, will benefit everyone.”
Customer experience is one of the most important areas that any company, no matter its industry, should spend time on and invest in. Because at the end of the day, if your customer is not happy, they're not going to come back and they’re going to tell other people that they're not happy, and that's the last thing you want; it’ll drive into a spiral of unhappy people not liking your product and/or company.
How would you define the Marvel customer experience? What does this look like for a Marvel customer?
Customer experience (CX) varies from companies to industries, but at Marvel, it’s unique to the user. That would be my description, it's not a one size fits all, it adapts to what their needs are.
You need to get to know who the customer is, how they want to use Marvel, what their goals are, and how we can work with them to put milestones in place to achieve that. We shape a success plan for each customer, of how we're going to support them throughout their time using Marvel whether that be over one, two, three years, or more. Our success plans are tailored towards who they are and what they want to achieve rather than what we want to achieve, it can be as interactive or as non interactive as they want. We're not going to bombard people with emails and calls every day or week if it's not appropriate to them, it’s just not our style.
“We tailor their success plan based on who they are, as a customer and what they want to achieve rather than what we want them to.”
One of the principal things that we do is a kickoff call to get to know each other. We rarely jump into the product on a kickoff, it’s mostly focused on information gathering so that we can better understand what the company does, what the main contacts’ roles entail, what they were doing before and what their general interests are. It's really nice to get to know who you're talking to, as a person, not just a company as well as why you're talking to them. Then we get into creating a real plan that both sides agree on. What does the best support look like from us? What do they need from us to be successful with Marvel? How do they want to receive it from us? Like I said, some people want to have a chat over the phone, some people just want to reply by email. It’s good to know what kind of communication they prefer from the get go.
It's really crucial, at the start, to make sure that your messaging is in the right format. Then from there, we create a strategic plan, unique for each customer and tailored to their exact needs. Whilst there are key milestones such as the 3 month feedback session and mid-year review, everything else in the plan is created off the back of that first contact between the CX Manager and the new Marvel customer.
How do you use Marvel in your role as Customer Experience Manager (CXM)?
I like to be a product expert when showing Marvel off to customers. I use Marvel for demoing features and benefits when on calls to our customers, as well as going through tips and tricks of how to use the product.
I also present using Marvel, It's a great way of having a single source of truth that can be changed by a CX Manager or indeed, any other member of the Marvel team as the product changes. Typically, I might have something like a kickoff deck on Marvel with key contacts and information that the customer can always refer back to by clicking on the shareable prototype URL. I can also add it into their workspace, should they wish, so that then their end users, the people that are integrating Marvel in their day to day workflow, always have something to look back on if they want to upskill/get help.
In a way, it’s an additional layer to the product you’ve just bought, similar to an instruction manual, your go-to-guide for getting in touch with Marvel if you like! We can link to additional things that our customer will find relevant and helpful, such as to the resource hub that has ebooks and case studies, or to our blog, where they might be more interested in a specific topic like design thinking, user testing or even visual design.
If you're the kind of person who doesn't want to have that human interaction. If you want to be self-sufficient, it's another way that we are able to communicate to make sure everyone has access to all the information they need.
Can you give an example of when you needed to use Marvel to help a customer out?
Prototyping is an incredibly new industry, especially for mobile app prototyping. I think it’s around 11 years old, since Apple first released the App Store on the iPhone. Every week there is always something new showing what you can do and achieve with various apps. Many customers might come to me and say, "Hey, Rich, I really want to be able to do X." It might be having something like a fixed scroll bar, or an embedded Google Map or a Vimeo video. They might not always be readily available to jump on a call straight away for me to demo how to create these features that they’re talking about.
In these cases, I put together a quick prototype with some basic design screens that shows them exactly what they want to achieve, and then do a screen recording of me using Marvel and demonstrating exactly how to achieve it. I can send them not only the prototype link so that they can see and confirm that it’s the solution that they are looking for, but also how to replicate it. With this link I’ll also send a two-minute video, which they can immediately share with their team, so they can see it instantly rather than having to wait until we can both get on a call to actually talk through things together.
Check out this tutorial on how to add containers to your prototypes;
Do you have any tips for companies who are looking to become customer-centric?
The most important thing is to take the time to get to know your customer. Don't just jump in with a prearranged roadmap of exactly what you want to achieve and how you're going to do it and all of these different messaging that you're going to have. Often you'll find that will fail within the first few months, and it can be detrimental because you can end up annoying people if your messaging is not in the correct format that they want to receive.
I’m a strong believer that to be customer centric, you also have to focus internally on being employee centric. If you've got the right culture within your company, I think that speaks a lot to how your customer experience team will communicate with customers. Making sure that your culture is great internally will project that outwards.
“To be customer centric, you have to also focus internally on being employee centric. If you have the right culture within your company, that speaks volumes to how your customer team will communicate with people outside of the company.”
Another thing that many people forget is that you can't teach people how to be nice. If somebody is being disingenuous and just saying what a customer wants to hear, they'll be able to see through that really quickly. Be a trusted advisor. Be a friend, talk to them about more than just work. Get to know them, get to know how the product fits into their company, how it fits into their workflow, and build more of a friendship so that they have trust in your opinion, but also what you might suggest for them. Remember that the person on the other end of the email is a person, not just an @domain.com. Make the experiences unique too, I would personally never recommend something that I hadn't tried myself and didn't know that it was successfully going to improve their workflow within a company. I wouldn't ever recommend something if I didn't feel that it was going to add value. So yeah, just get to know your customers, make them your friends.
Do you have any thoughts about the future of the customer experience industry?
If you look at customer experience from, say, the past five years to now, it's already become an important tool in companies and businesses. I think what we're now going to see, is more innovative technologies that will support customer experience teams. Whether that be in delivering data or personalizing experiences through AI or AR, to making more customer touch points feel personal and have a human interaction element to them. Using things like video responses or voice feedback rather than just form surveys, will definitely be a trend that I think we'll see over the next few years. I hope that even as new technologies emerge that we don’t jump on them straight away, but we take the time to realise how we use them in a way that's going to be beneficial; we have to slow down to speed up.
I think that some companies will have to rethink how they use their current technology, things like bots that provide responses for support teams or pop up and offer a customer a trial of a piece of software. They're great, but they're not customer experience. They're simply a customer response tool. For many industries, I think it will be important for them to be able to balance between not only having great response times but also delivering the right information that the customer has requested.
I hope that customer experience is going to become more and more prevalent in many industries, as companies begin to realize that the old saying of “people buy from people” still rings true. I think that whilst many customers crave speed, they’re not willing to sacrifice the human interaction for it, or the experience for it. We want it to be part of the package and whilst we love the speed, we also want to feel great using a tool or a piece of software at the same time.
My main mantra has always been that a customer wants three things: to be seen, to be heard, and to be recognised. Whatever happens over the next 10 years, as long as we use that as our North star, I think customer experience will always be a successful industry for any business.