Customer Analytics

Make Customer Experience Your True North

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What do red plaid, 80s hair bands, and gravy-covered french fries have in common? If you live in Canada, the answer is obvious, it’s the rapidly growing phenomenon that is the franchise of Smoke’s Poutinerie. With over 100 locations opened throughout Canada in 6 years and new locations in the US, there is no stopping this brand. It’s distinctive and flashy but red plaid is more than just their signature look—it is, quite literally—the fabric of their company culture.


As NextGen CX 2016 wraps up this week, one common thread was prevalent among every session, speaker and keynote—culture. Ryan Smolkin, Founder and CEO of Smoke’s, is entertaining and spirited beyond what a 5pm conference crowd could have hoped for. His energy is also the life source of the company culture. As he sang 80s rock on stage, he shared with us the brand that turned a traditional Canadian side dish, the poutine, into a crowd-drawing main course star.

Here are the key cultural factors driving customer experience that I learned at NextGen CX this year.

Your front line

Your employees are your front line when engaging your customers and providing them with customer experiences beyond the ordinary—the wow moments. Janet Song, SVP of Member Services at the Dollar Shave Club said, “Values drive behavior internally and how we behave towards our customers impacts the customer experience.” Employee engagement, empowerment, education and recognition are critical to how they see their role at your company and how they can help deliver on the brand promise. Your front line, interacting with customers every day, must be involved in developing your customer experience program. They must also have an understanding of customer behaviors and how to improve customer experiences.

We also heard that customer experience must be built into performance objectives is if it is to be a part of the company culture. And that those objectives must emphasize quality over quantity.

Your customer’s voice

You must listen to the voice of your customer—this goes for everyone throughout the organization. If you want to drive the wave of CX, you must democratize your data, sharing the voice of your customers with all your employees. Again, Janet Song offers her advice: “Arm your team with VOC data, CX metrics and customer insight. Invest in robust reporting tools and deploy them.”

Another source of customer data is your call center, the information that customers willingly provide at their point of frustration.

Your True North

Dexter Johnson, Head of Customer Experience at Farmers Insurance, declared “We want to make customer experience our True North.”

So how can you make customer experience a change agent throughout your organization? You must commit to the customer experience journey. It must be your True North.

Dexter made the case for creating a financial linkage to continue to reinforce customer experience as a priority, including, metrics such as share of wallet, retention, and word of mouth because, without a financial linkage “you will run out of energy.”

C-suite buy-in is also a must. To communicate with your c-suite, dashboard to show high-level metrics and demonstrate how you are doing compared to your peers. Make sure any changes have campaign-specific objectives. Always be available for urgent or emergency situations. In those situations, analyze and make decisions quickly to determine if the change will have material impact on customer loyalty.

So, as Smoke’s Poutine works to achieve its ultimate goal of world domination, be sure that you are staying true to your customer experience, making it your True North, and weaving it into the fabric of your company culture.

Learn how to visualize your customer journey and deep dive into customer behavior. Download our ebook on 3 new ways to understand and improve your customer experience.

If you’re ready to start listening to the voice of your customer, learn more about our Customer Analytics at

Marketing Manager, Content Marketing, IBM

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