Episode 127 : How to Master Using Marketing and Customer Experience to Support Each Other

Megan Gilhooly, as VP Customer Experience at Zoomin Software, Megan has made it her mission to change how organizations think about product content. Prior to this role, Megan spent two decades managing content teams, driving content strategy, and delivering stellar information experiences at company like Amazon, Ping Identity, and INVIDI Technologies.

Her experience includes content for Support, Sales, Product, and Marketing. As a former online retail business owner and Certified Scrum Master, Megan brings a unique perspective to managing information development and content strategy. She has a BA in Speech Communication, a Ms in Journalism, an Ms in Strategic Management, and a Masters Certificate in Technical Communication.

Questions

  • Could you share Megan, with us a little bit about your journey, how it is that you got to where you are today?
  • What’s going to make me stop on your post or your video, or your content to partake in whatever it is that you’re sharing. There’s just so much information, you’re bombarded with daily from all the different social media platforms plus emails that people are sending you. How do you navigate through that? What would you recommend?
  • How can organizations put marketing and customer experience together to support each other in the best way possible?
  • If you are a company and you wanted to, let’s say replicate the Netflix experience? How can other organizations utilize this model in their own businesses?
  • Could you share with us what’s the one online tool, resource, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you, it could be a book that you read recently, or maybe a book you read a very long time ago, but it still is having a great impact on you.
  • Could you share with us what’s one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about – either something that you’re working on to develop yourself or your people?
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Could you share with us maybe a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you’ll tend to revert to this quote, because it will help to refocus you or get you back on track if for whatever reason you feel de-motivated or derailed?

Highlights

Megan’s Journey

Megan shared that she has always been in content of one form or another. She started her career in journalism and then very quickly moved into Technical Communications. So when she really was at the beginning of her career, she spent a lot of time writing very large books that told people how to use technical software or other technical products.

And she has kind of grown up through there, she has gone back and forth with some marketing, she calls herself a bit of a closet marketer because she was never fully in marketing, but she always did marketing. The one thing that she really recognized throughout her entire career is that product content really is the best source of marketing for customers.

Customers need to have content that’s useful, content that’s understandable, they don’t like marketing fluff. So the marketing fluff of the 80s won’t pass today. And so, she has come into sort of this marketing world in that way. She actually implemented Zoomin software twice in her career. And so, after she went to Amazon for a little bit and led global content teams there, she was looking for a new and exciting challenge. And Zoomin was growing. And so, she actually came on board as the VP of Customer Experience at Zoomin because she knows the product, she knows the industry and she is very quickly learning the role of VP of Customer Experience.

Using Content to Capture Your Customers’ Attention Through the Different Social Media Platforms

Me: So you spoke a lot about product content. Content, that is such a powerful word it encapsulates so many different things. Just thinking about my phone and the amount of information that it pushes out daily.

How do you know what content is going to capture the persons that you are trying to get their attention?

Because what is going to make me stop, I was watching this LinkedIn video a few months and the young lady on it has this thing called a scrollstop or a thumbstop, I don’t remember what was the actual ring line that she had to it. But basically what’s going to make me stop on your post or your video, or your content to partake in whatever it is that you’re sharing.

There’s just so much information, you’re bombarded with daily from all the different social media platforms plus emails that people are sending you. How do you navigate through that?

What would you recommend?

Megan stated that it’s a really good question, she would see technical product content being a little lower in the funnel, it might not be the first thing you send to a customer.

Instead, it’s a place you send prospects to do their own homework. So if you think about the way that people buy today, people don’t buy because a salesperson calls them necessarily, certainly the salesperson is very important in the process. But a lot of times, these prospects will do 80% of their homework before even contacting the sales team.

And so, the product content is the stuff they’ll look at to see how your product works exactly, what it is compatible with, they might look up what your support org does to support the product, how well you can self serve.

And if they feel like they can self serve by getting their answers immediately, then they’re going to have a better experience and a better impression of your company. So she thinks product content really does come a little further down the funnel. But she will say that one of the companies that she used to work with, they brought on Zoomin and after she left, she heard from somebody who was at the company, that the CEO actually said, “Product content is the new marketing.”

And she thinks that’s such a powerful phrase, because it really is, marketers are trying to create useful information that will engage customers. And you know what, it really comes down to, they want to know what your product does. So that’s where she thinks it falls into marketing.

Using Marketing and Customer Experience Together to Support Each Other  

Me: Tell us a little bit about how it is you see marketing and customer experience playing a more supportive role for each other. Because over the years, marketing has always been a separate part of an organization than customer experience or customer service.

As a matter of fact, I think maybe it’s probably in the last 10 years that you actually have organizations segmenting customer service and customer experience, because they realize the importance of it.

As we move forward, especially coming out of this pandemic, how is it that you think organizations can really marry those two departments together in a very symbiotic way?

Because at the end of the day, yes, marketing is to get the customer but at the same time, all organizations want customer retention and loyalty and that can only happen after the marketing is done and as you mentioned, is there support?

Can you get in touch with them?

How easy is it to do business with them?

How can we really put those two together to support each other in the best way possible?

Megan shared that they are so inextricably tied. The way she thinks about customer experience is it really is kind of a subset of marketing, as well as a subset of customer success and sort of over overarches both of those two things.

Now, when you think about SaaS platforms today, they don’t have the luxury of, “Oh, they bought and installed the product. So it’s sticky on its own.” Their customers can leave at any time.

So it behoves the customer success team to ensure that they’re getting really good retention, that they’re providing the experience that the customers need in order to have them upsell and cross sell and expand into their other offerings. So, that’s all very, very important from a revenue standpoint.

At the same time, if their customers have amazing customer experiences, that makes it a lot easier for marketing to get case studies to work with the customer success team and their customers on advocacy, and things that will help marketers to more effectively market to prospects.

So, she thinks there’s such a big tie today that really customer experience is all about making decisions with the customer first and foremost. So rather than leading by project or leading by product or leading by sales, or leading by anything else, you really have to lead with the customer in the forefront and then everything sort of falls out from that.

How Organizations Can Replicate the Netflix Experience and Use this Model in Their Own Businesses

Me: So, there are a few organizations that take that approach. Netflix is definitely one of them, and so is Amazon. If you are a company and you wanted to, let’s say replicate the Netflix experience? Provide a high level of personalization. I’m fascinated each time I go on Netflix, now found a way to tell you the top 10 movies that are being watched per country, they’ve broken it down into geographic favouritism.

And of course, automatically you look at those top 10 and you’ll probably end up picking something because you’re saying hey, well, if this is number one in Jamaica or this is number one in the US, maybe it’s worth watching.

I know it’s purely data driven because it’s clearly the numbers that they are watching and able to put this out to us.

But how can other organizations utilize this model in their own businesses?

Megan share that that’s a really interesting point, the Netflix experience is really impacting everybody. So if we think about the consumerization of content, Netflix is one of the big drivers of that.

We as professionals eventually go home at the end of the day, and we sit down in front of the TV, and we open up Netflix, and Netflix hands us exactly what we want to watch, without us even really knowing ahead of time what we want to watch, it’s just served up to us.

So then we go to work the next day and whether we work in B2B or B2C, we expect that all of our tools that our vendors are selling to us are going to serve up answers in a very similar way.

And this is something where the consumer world is way ahead of the B2B world but the expectations from customers are there. So she’ll give a really good example. When she wanted to buy runners, so tennis shoes, whatever you want to call them, she wants to buy athletic shoes. She always, always, always now goes with Brook Shoes. And Brook Shoes was not always her favourite, she always had a different favourite, until she got the app for Brook Shoes.

And the coolest thing about it is, its content but it steps you through a process within the content that explains how you need to choose your shoes but it doesn’t give you a bunch of technical jargon.

So for example, it doesn’t say, “Do you pronate or supinate?” It says, “Take your shoes off, stand with your feet parallel and look down and see where your toes are pointing.” And then it shows you a picture of one with the toes pointed out and one was pointed in and one of them neutral. And then you pick the one that matches what you see. And so it’s very easy.

Now, if you want the scientific reasoning behind it, you can click a link, and you can get to it, so that’s great. But it makes it so easy to figure out what type of shoe, what type of Brook shoe, she needs, that she has become a loyal Brook’s user to the point where she has four children.

Her children now wear Brook Shoes but it’s easy for her to say, “Okay, let’s go through this little checkbox and go through it and figure out what shoes are best for you.”

So that’s experience that she has as a consumer that has made her a loyal Brook Shoes fan.

Now, at the end of the day, she’s not here to sell Brook Shoes, she doesn’t care if people go to Brook Shoes or not but it’s just such a compelling example of where content really drove her loyalty.

And now when she goes to work, she has similar expectations of vendors when she’s trying to get answers, when she’s trying to self serve, when she’s trying to figure out what the best overall experiences for her, she keeps that in mind.

And so it’s Netflix, it’s Brook shoes, it’s Amazon, it’s all of these consumer products are really driving the expectations that their customers have for them in the B2B world.

Me: I totally agree. I talk about that all the time that customers’ expectations are based on four things. They’re based on what we communicate to them, they’re based on past experiences they’ve had with you, they’re based on experiences that you’ve had with other companies that are not similar to them. So as you mentioned, you’re comparing, let’s say, for example, how your supermarket app is interfacing with you versus your Brooks app, which is two different companies, two different set of commodities. But the reality is, that’s what people look at, they’re thinking to themselves, well, if they can do it in this space with a product that’s a little bit more complicated, why can’t they do it with something like this? I sit and wonder that to myself all the time. So, I do agree with you that what we experience out there, even if it’s not similar to what we’re comparing it to does drive our expectation of that product or service.

App, Website or Tool that Megan Absolutely Can’t Live Without in Her Business

When asked about an online resource that she cannot live without in her business, Megan shared that she thinks this is probably the same answer Yanique gets from almost everyone. But Slack, they could not do their business without Slack, especially in this digital world. So that’s a big one for them certainly. And there are probably some others in the marketing world, they couldn’t do without HubSpot. But ultimately, there’s other tools that do that, nothing really quite does what Slack does in the way that Slack does it.

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Megan

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Megan shared that she has to admit that because she works full time and they’ve been crazy busy throughout the pandemic and she has four kids at home, she hasn’t read a lot this year.

But the one book she did read, which is a must read for any company that is going through hyper growth is called No Dumbing Down: A No-Nonsense Guide for CEOs on Organization Growth and it’s written by a woman by the name of Karen Walker.

She knows Karen personally; she’s done some work with some of her teams. But she started her career, she shouldn’t say started her career, back in the day, let’s say the 80s when Compaq was going through its hyper growth phase, she started at Compaq as the 100th employee.

She left around 15 years later when they had 17,000 employees; she saw the growth and revenue from zero up to $15 Billion. So, might have some of those numbers slightly wrong.

But basically, she has a very, very impressive view of what it means to be in hyper growth and how to do that successfully, they were the fastest growing company in America to date.

And so her book, No Dumbing Down provides five internal strategies for sort of succeeding through hyper growth. And then it also talks about how do you drive those strategies throughout all the levels of the organization. Really, really powerful.

What Megan is Really Excited About Now!

Megan shared that has she mentioned, they are going through a tremendous amount of growth here. So they’re doing all kinds of things in order to support that growth and it’s fun to see all of the things that are going on.

So from hiring and ramping people up quickly to trying to ensure that they’re setting the right strategies so that everyone has the Northstar that they need to shoot for, to fixing processes, those are all really, really big, exciting projects right now.

So she thinks if she were to pick, there’s just so many, but one in particular, that is actually starting this week, is they’re building a customer success playbook. And she thinks that’s a very important thing that they sort of have pieces of right now but they haven’t yet taken the opportunity to sit down and really flesh it out.

And so, starting this week, they have a project where they’re starting to work on that. They have some really cool marketing initiatives that are going on that are keeping them incredibly busy. So they’ve got a ton, but she thinks that playbook is one that she’s most excited about, because it will really help to solidify, what do we expect of the customer experience?

And then how do our customer success managers actually operate in order to get us to that ideal.

Where Can We Find Megan Online

LinkedIn – Megan Gilhooly

Twitter – @MeganGilhooly

Email – megan.gilhooly@zoominsoftware.com

Website – www.zoominsoftware.com

Megan shared that she also sends out a Friday email where she collate a bunch of different contents, Yanique’s podcast may show up on at one time. And so that is at the Zoomin website, so if you go to www.zoominsoftware.com and then you go to the Resources page, there be a place where you can sign up for that.

It’s not really marketing, it’s very much what’s going on in her brain this week and what’s going on and oftentimes she tells silly stories about her kids or funny stories about her husband, she puts out a lot of personal things into it.

It’s very short and then she brings in relevant content because she does read a lot of content even though she’s not reading books. She spends a lot of time reading really rich and great content, so she likes to send out the best of that so that other folks don’t have to wade through all the bad to get to the good, the little nuggets of wisdom.

Me: That’s nice. And the reality is, I think that’s how most people consume content nowadays, there’s just not enough time in the day to really sit down and take on long pieces of information.

So when you can get them in bits and pieces, I find, at least for me, it makes the learning experience that much better. I recently joined Tik Tok because of my daughter’s influence, and I used to think it was an application that people go on to waste time.

But I actually have learned quite a few things on it, like different tips and tricks in terms of iPhone, maybe there are features on the phone that I was not familiar with, or tips and tricks in Microsoft Excel with different tools that can help me to analyze the data better. And it’s short, it’s not a YouTube video, that’s like 20 minutes, and I’m like, sure there are 20 minutes to watch this video, it’s just like a two minute video and you’re like, Oh, I got it, and you save it to your phone and you have it as a reference point. And I thought it was brilliant. I underestimated Tik Tok.

Megan shared that that’s interesting. She tried to get on Tik Tok a couple times. And she just failed, so she’s going to try again. It thought she was somebody she wasn’t because it kept serving up the wrong content. But she thinks it’s because she just didn’t give it enough time to learn who she was. Because she heard that it can be very, very good. But it really thought she was a teenager that just wanted to do dances. So she’ll try it again.

Me: Because you’re very correct. Because what I noticed as I started using it was it started to pick up on content that I was interested in and then it started to push more of that and less of the garbage that was there originally when I just started.

Megan shared that there’s such an alignment there with how she talks about product content. When we serve up content, when our customers serve up content to their customers, we expect that it will serve up the content that’s related to the version that they want to be on that’s related to their role in their organization.

We don’t want to just throw content out there. And so, Tik Tok, there’s kind of this mirror image between Tic Tok and the product content that we deliver. So that’s really interesting.

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Megan Uses

When asked about quote or saying that helps her to get back on track, Megan shared that for her, whenever she gets off track, or she feels like people in general are getting off track, I go back to very customer focused quotes.

And so there’s one by Marc Benioff from Salesforce, who said, and she may get part of this wrong, but, “You need to get to the future, ahead of your customers and be ready to greet them when they arrive.”

And she thinks that’s so powerful to think, especially during difficult times. So let’s say even through the pandemic, when you think about the organizations that just sort of sat back and said, “Oh, we can’t do that, because of the pandemic.” or “Oh, we’re gonna do fewer hours because of the pandemic.”

Those are organisations that have now a really frustrating customer experience. But for the companies that actually said, “Okay, we’re in a pandemic, but at some point, we’re going to get through this pandemic. Now, where do we need to be? And how do we are we going to be prepared to be ready, no matter where we are along the path of this pandemic.” Those are the companies that have maintained a really positive customer experience. So that’s a quote that she often looks at, she has it posted on her wall.

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