Episode 129 : How to Enhance Your Customer Experience Through Community Building

Chad Neufeld is the Director of Marketing at Chaordix (kay-or-dix), a Canadian online community platform. He works with global brands like LEGO, Bosch, HPE, Stihl and Decathlon to make community central to their customer connection. Chad also founded a seasonal D2C company called Small City Stockings to create curated stocking stuffer packages (and so he could add the title Head Elf to his LinkedIn). When he’s not at work, he’s probably writing a sci-fi novel or trying to get better at volleyball.

Questions

  • Could you share a little bit about your journey in your own words for us? How it is that you got to where you are today?
  • The idea of having a community customer connection, could you explain to our listeners what that’s all about?
  • So tell us a little bit about Chaordix, what you do in terms of marketing and product development, and how has it been since we’ve been going through a global pandemic.
  • What kinds of companies do you think benefit primarily from this type of community involvement? Do you think this could be applicable, because I know LEGO is a kids company but do you think this type of engagement could be applicable to any type of organization?
  • Could you share with us what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you also share with us what’s the one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about, something that you’re either working on to develop yourself or your people.
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that haven’t had the biggest impact on you? Maybe a book you read a very long time ago, or it could be a book you read recently, but it’s definitely had an impact on you.
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to keep you focused and get you back on track.

Highlights

Chad’s Journey

Chad shared that he came out of University, and he started in the world of advertising. And so, he jumped into kind of his first role was managing digital projects like complex website development and honestly, he had never built a website before in his life. But he was coming out of school and he thought that he knew more than he actually did.

And so, that was kind of the first six months of his career was thinking that he knew what he was doing. And then he got his six month review, and found out that the people that he worked with kind of saw through that and didn’t think that he was very good at his job, which is absolutely 100% true. He didn’t know what he was doing but he pretended that he was and coming out of College, he was kind of a big fish in a small pond when you’re coming out of University and then you start working with professionals and kind of top performers. And so, he learned really, really quickly that he didn’t know what he was doing.

And so, that kind of set him on a path of learning. And so in the next kind of 4 years of working in the agency, in the ad agency world, he tried to get much better at understanding the objectives of the people that he was working with and build relationships, and be much more humble and recognize how much he kind of had to learn.

So he did 4 years on the agency side while he was working for marketing agencies, he was also starting to experiment with some stuff on the side, so doing some freelance work with friends, he sat on the board for a local theatre group here in town.

And started a small kind of side hustle with some friends called Small City Stockings, as mentioned and they launched. Basically it was their first attempt at eCommerce and the 3 of them and so they tried to set up this business building stocking stuffer packages. And so, the idea was people hate shopping for stocking stuffers, it’s like a Christmas Eve kind of thing and you’re grabbing a bunch of plastic garbage and throwing it into a stocking and everybody’s kind of disappointed.

What if there was curated stocking stuffer packages filled with kind of local goods. And so, they started that as well and that ran for 2 years and was incredibly fun.

And he also joined Chaordix, which as mentioned is an online community platform here in his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And he guessed that kind of gets them to here where he is right now at Chaordix, he leads product marketing, brand marketing and growth and customer marketing as well.

Having a Community Customer Connection

Me: So I think one of the things that intrigued me about dealing or having an interaction with you for this podcast was the idea of having a community customer connection. Could you explain to our listeners what that’s all about? Because I was really, really intrigued when that was put forward to us?

Chad shared that Community is this term that he personally think is really overused in marketing and in customer experience and because oftentimes when somebody says community, what they really mean is audience or what they really mean as list like, “Join our customer community,” but really, they’re like, sign up, get emails that tell you when we have a discount, and that’s not a community.

If you think about community, it’s a bunch of people coming together to do something special, or it’s a local group. So, it’s people that live around you, or it’s people who have a similar interest to you that are trying to get better at something or learn more, or engage with other people with similar interests.

Chad Neufeld

And so, their community platform allows brands to launch their own customer communities. And so, you can think about it, he likes to describe it kind of community, there’s two approaches to community building so you can either kind of go to where everybody is and so Yanique has a Facebook group, for example, with customer experience professionals, and that’s on Facebook. And so that’s kind of that first approach. So you’re going to where everybody is, you’re setting up a community that’s part of Facebook, that’s on Facebook, that’s hosted by Facebook, that’s one approach.

The other approach is building something special that you own that people come to. And so it’s a bit like kind of Amazon versus Shopify, you can sell your products through Amazon and that’s great because Amazon has this huge customer base. But you also have to deal with kind of all the baggage that’s associated with the Amazon brand, and you have to play by their rules.

Or you can build your kind of own online store using Shopify. And so you get to use world class technology, but you get to make your own rules. And so, they’re kind of like a Shopify for building customer community.

So you can kind of think about it as your own private Facebook for your brand and what it allows you to do is connect with your customers in a space you own and control, you can give them fun and interesting things to do, communicate with them, give them kind of a peek behind the scenes, give them insider access, allow them to connect with influencers and kind of leaders within your organization, help you create new products, answer questions and stuff like that.

Me: That’s pretty cool. It’s just a better way of really getting to know your customers on a deeper level, and then on a platform that you own. So you have a little bit more leverage to do what you want. And of course, you own the content, or you own the whole platform, so you can manage it better.

Chad agreed and stated that you get all that data as well. So you would know how much you’re able to get from Facebook, because you run a community on Facebook. But what you’re able to do when you own the community is you can really get to know and understand those individuals, build personas because you have you have all that data.

Marketing and Product Development at Chaordix During the Pandemic  

Me: So tell us a little bit about Chaordix, what you do in terms of marketing and product development, and how has it been since we’ve been going through a global pandemic, my sister lives in Canada, and she’s constantly complaining, “Oh, they’re locking us down again.”

Whereabouts does she live?

Me: I think she lives in Toronto. Don’t quote me. The last time I went to Canada was when I was 12 years old and I just turned 40 what, two weeks ago, so I’m not too familiar with the burroughs that’s what you guys refer to them as right burroughs.

Chad stated that maybe not out west here. So he’s in Calgary. So it’s kind of the other end of the country from Toronto. It’s snowing right now as he looks out the window. But it has been seasonally nice, they we had a very mild winter up here outside of a couple of weeks where it was -40, which was hard to live through. But so when it comes to marketing, they sell to a large enterprise brands, their largest customers LEGO. So they host the LEGO IDEAS community. And there are 1.7 million members of that community hosted on their platform. And they’re a little bit of an outlier; they’re a massive household name. They also work with brands like Rustoleum, and Ford and Procter and Gamble, and Bosch.

And so they’re really trying to get in front of kind of global leaders in customer engagement and marketing and customer experience. And those folks are honestly, they’re not easy people to market to because they’re extremely busy, they’re very discerning when it comes to what they’re looking for, they plan far out when you’re selling into organizations like that, you have to expect that it’s going to take six months to a year to even just go through the procurement process.

And so, what it requires on their part, when it comes to marketing is ensuring that they are kind of stewarding people through that whole process, educating them about community because it’s relatively new still, not very many organizations recognize that the tools exist on the market to allow them to build really vibrant communities. Oftentimes, communities are seen as kind of their one dimensional, like there’s just forums for answering questions like, if he can’t get his dryer to work, he’ll go on the LG forum and ask a question, and hopefully somebody will be able to answer it. And community can be so much more than that.

And so, marketing a lot of times for them is really about thought leadership, and helping people understand the power of community. And so, it involves a lot of writing and a lot of making videos and a lot of webinars and stuff like that.

What Type of Organization Benefits From This Type of Community Involvement

Chad shared that he thinks that it would be much harder to think of a type of organization that wouldn’t benefit from building a relationship with their customers. He thinks that once people wade into community, once people experience what it’s like to have a direct connection with their customers just 24/7, it’s something that people don’t give up because they go, “Hey, my executive, my boss’s boss, asked a question of my boss, who said, hey, how do I answer this question.”

And you can go to the community, and within less than 24 hours you can have hundreds of responses from engaged users of your product. And that’s something that just really is impossible in a scalable way without a community. And so, if you’re an individual running a yoga studio, building a connection that is more than just an email list where people can engage with one another, can encourage one another and kind of build relationships with one another around your brand, that is extremely valuable because it locks people into that relationship, it helps them feel better about your brand, it helps them expand their knowledge.

And that scales all the way up to a brand like LEGO and although they are a kid’s brand, the LEGO IDEAS community is actually for adults. And so there are 1.7 million adults who are building new LEGO sets and so LEGO is crowdsourcing ideas for new LEGO sets from the people who actually use those. And so you can see that most brands who build something for customers and those customers can be business people, like they can be B2B brands, or it can be consumers. Either way, having that direct connection to your customers is invaluable.

App, Website or Tool that Chad Absolutely Can’t Live Without in His Business

When asked about online resource, Chad shared that for him it’s Notion. Notion’s a basically a project or it’s kind of like Evernote. He thinks a lot of people are starting to use it. It’s just a visual way to kind of build and organize information. And so, when he’s doing his planning and writing, he’s doing it in a way that he can organize and so Notion’s a super fun way to do that. So personally, that’s been kind of his secret weapon for the last year.

What Chad is Really Excited About Now!

Chad shared that they’re launching a new website at Chaordix and that’s something that is really exciting. It’s a project as he mentioned earlier in his career, he built websites and so it’s really fun to build one for a brand that you really care about and love and so as part of that experience, he gets to do a lot of writing and thinking about how to explain what they do and the value they bring into the world to somebody who might have never heard about them or has no idea how much impact community can have. And so that’s something that he’s doing right now for work that he loves.

And then on the personal side, he’s working on a Sci-Fi novel, and he’s writing a pilot for a TV show with his wife, and so those are like those fun things. They will probably never see the light of day, but it’s something to do during COVID and quarantine that gets the creative juices flowing.

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Chad

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Chad shared that one of his favourite books that he’s ever read is called The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer. So Amanda Palmer did a TED talk that is wonderful and she was one of the first artists to actually crowdsource, using Kickstarter, she crowdsourced an album. And he thinks she raised a lot of money on Kickstarter.

And she’s a really wonderful person and her book is all about being authentic and being emotionally open and realizing that it’s better to just ask for help or ask for support, then pretend you have it all together. And there was one thing that he noted in that book that he thought really, really stuck with him over the years.

And she said that everyone out there is winging it to some extent, the professionals know they’re winging it, and the amateurs pretend they’re not. And that really stuck with him because every day he’s listening to podcasts, even people on this podcast, he’s going, “Man, there’s no way I could manage a workforce of 50,000 people,” for example. That’s crazy.

But he thinks if you think about it that way, and go, every one of us is just trying to make sure that by the end of the day we’ve kind of held it all together. And sometimes it’s just pure luck and when you realize that he thinks it helps you not feel so small and incapable of kind of managing those big things.

Where Can We Find Chad Online

Website – www.chaordix.com

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Chad Uses

When asked about a quote or saying to he tends to revert to, Chad shared that he does, this one is a tiny bit gendered. But it’s from Seneca and he was very old school.

So it’s, “If a man knows not to which port he sails, no winds are favourable.”

And to him, that just goes to show like you need to have a vision in your mind for where you want to get to and once you’ve got that vision, it allows you to make a plan. And having a vision and a plan, he thinks leads to conviction and once you’ve got that conviction, and you can share that with the people around you, he thinks it’s much easier to lead a group to the right destination. So, that’s something that he read a while ago, that’s really stuck with him.

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