Digital Everest: Delivering Brilliant Experiences in a World of Unprecedented Scale
Today, we’re living in an increasingly technology-driven, interconnected world, with all the challenges and opportunities that brings. It’s now possible for brands to reach more customers further and faster than ever before—and that means that a global audience of billions of diverse individuals is yours for the taking if you can offer up customer experiences that are relevant and valuable.
But doing all that while also handling the scale that comes with a massive, global audience presents its own key challenges. To explore those challenges—as well as the insights, strategies, and best practices that make it possible to handle them—Braze CTO and Cofounder Jon Hyman and Kaitlin Sennatt, Senior Manager of Customer Engagement at the fast-growing tele-health brand, American Well, took to the stage last fall’s LTR conference. Let’s take a look at how these thought leaders have used creative approaches to deliver engaging, high-quality user experiences, even as their customer bases rapidly grow.
Keeping the Customer Experience Personal
As a larger and larger number of people begin to engage with a brand, it can become harder to deliver the kind of hands-on, high-touch experiences that customers have come to expect. That’s why both Hyman and Sennatt emphasize the importance of leveraging technology to make the customer experience feel relevant to each individual user—no matter how many of them you might have.
“The customer experience is so paramount,” Hyman says. “Because you’re going to be competing against, not only the competitors in your peer group, but really everyone on [you customers’] phone[s] for attention for eyeballs. And there’s a bar that gets continually raised by good examples of personalization.”
To keep up with the competition, Hyman recommends that brands emphasize personalization from the very beginning of the customer experience. As your brand onboards new users, it’s important to let them know what value they’re going to see from your brand right away—and then you need to take steps to ensure you’re delivering that value immediately.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Once users are onboarded, your brand needs an engagement plan that’s suited to each customer’s unique needs and preferences. “As you grow, I think it’s hard to stay in touch with the customer,” Sennatt says. “So, for us, it’s really about finding those relevant times to re-engage people and keep your product top of mind.” To make that happen, you need to remember that different customers have different needs and different engagement patterns—and you need to ensure you’re collecting and leveraging the kinds of customer data that can let you adjust your engagement efforts to fit their preferences.
Organize Your Teams to Support Scale
Consider it a rule: As your company’s audience grows, your internal organizational practices and strategies have to evolve, too. To solve customer issues and problems quickly and effectively, the right people need to be in the right roles, within the right structure. At Braze, mastering this scaling challenge meant reorganizing the Product and Engineering organization into different product verticals and then, within those verticals, having product managers, visual designers, back-end engineers, front-end engineers, and engineering managers who are empowered to work successfully and efficiently.
But what do you do once the right organizational system is in place? “You need to now increase communication internally,” Hyman says. “Planning becomes more important, structure becomes more important, and you just need to be able to think ahead.” In short, different groups with different expertise need to be able to get in contact easily so they can pool information and solve problems efficiently.
Treat Scale as an Opportunity to Optimize
Scale doesn’t just produce challenges for companies—it also provides opportunities to make your customer experiences even better. For Sennatt and her team at American Well, scale gave them an opportunity to improve their campaign testing capabilities. As the number and size of clients at American Well grew, their data set grew, too, making it easier to carry out tests that could produce statistically significant findings. That allowed American Well to test new initiatives with sample clients, track outcomes, and apply takeaways from these experiments to their broader network of clients.
Sennatt notes that her team works with both large hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic, as well as with smaller medical organizations, such as a 2,000-member hospital based in Beaufort, South Carolina. Scale has made it possible for American Well to use learnings developed in partnership with these larger hospitals and spread the wealth to smaller clients that might not have enough customers to test campaigns effectively on their own. “I think having that scale has allowed us to make some of the smaller players more successful,” Sennatt says.
Approach Optimization with Care
While scale can make your engagement efforts more effective, having a large-scale customer base also means that the stakes are higher. When thinking about optimizing messages, campaigns, or marketing strategies, your organization needs to be thoughtful and consider the potential consequences—especially if you’re in a highly regulated vertical. “In our space, a mistake or a product feature that you push out too early when it still has a ton of bugs can be a real killer for your relationships and your business,” Sennatt warns.
According to Hyman, Braze addresses these risks by carefully launching any new features and clearly outlining which users will receive them when, and through which pipelines. “We can't put it out there without thoughtfulness and deliberation,” Hyman says. When you’re operating at a massive scale, you’re inevitably going to have a large number of customers—and a new feature that detracts from the customer experience, even in a small way, can be costly when multiplied across all those customers. Getting it right in this kind of environment is a must-do, not a nice-to-have.
Dealing with scale can be a challenge—but it’s a lucky challenge to have, since it means that your brand is doing a lot of things right and resonating with the people you’re trying to reach. To dig deeper into the technical challenges and opportunities that massive scale can lead to, check out Hyman’s post on network scalability and the steps Braze took to ensure that the company could grow with its audience.