Today we sat down with Paul Tiedt—Senior VP, Research—to learn more about evolving CX trends, what brands can do to meet those shifting consumer expectations, and what role the employee experience plays in the customer journey.
Your team has been cranking out a high volume of research during the pandemic. What stands out?
There are a few key themes that have emerged:
As states reopen non-essential business, what do consumers expect from brands?
Naturally, the pandemic has created heightened health concerns and today’s customers expect brands to “show them clean.” This means they want to see employees cleaning frequently touched surfaces, wearing personal protective equipment, sticking to social distancing guidelines, offering hand sanitizer at entrances/exits, and providing contactless experiences.
If you had to pick one, what’s the most interesting stat you’ve seen recently?
The rate at which brands and consumers have embraced contactless experiences. From the growth of curbside pickup to the use of buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) and the implementation of contactless delivery, organizations have managed to innovate in days what they had planned to do in years—and the majority of consumers are embracing the change.
When you think about all of the data you’ve evaluated in your 17 years at SMG, how has the customer experience evolved?
The Service Profit Chain has been the foundational theory that has guided my career at SMG, and the testament of a good model is that it still holds true today. It’s been fun to engage in the evolution of the model in the employee and customer journey. In 17 years, how employees are engaged with organizations has evolved. Rewarding work, learning and growing are key dimensions but how that is operationalized has advanced – training resources are more holistic and scheduling tools have put more control in the hands of employees for instance. Likewise customers engage with brands in more ways today than 17 years ago: in-store, curbside, post ship, etc. And, the expectation is that the customer experience is consistent across all the touchpoints that a consumer engages with a brand. The evolution of employee and customer experiences has allowed me to learn, grow professionally, and have fun doing it.
How did you get started in research?
I started in operations research, which is where I cut my teeth in statistics. Over time, I became more interested in consumer research and how it could be applied to improving employee and customer experiences. I enjoy poking and prodding in the data with a purpose to support our clients and, at the same time, elevate employee and customer experiences.
What do you love most about your job?
My career at SMG has given me the opportunity to work with many of the best restaurant, retail, grocery, and healthcare brands in the world. And although The Service Profit Chain has remained largely unchanged, how brands deliver on it continues to evolve. With more channels, there are more consumer touchpoints, which requires brands to continually evolve their service models. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to be on the journey and play a small part in shaping it, too.