Kristina, previously working in the Software sphere in Malta for several years, is now working in the gaming industry as a CRM Manager. Kristina is passionate about customer success and has been through a very interesting path of developing herself and getting out of her comfort zone, both personally and professionally. Through her career, she has learned that human and deeper conversations, not automated communications, is what drives customer success.
Muriel: “You say that Email Marketing is ‘about setting the right tone of voice’ and you don’t believe in automated responses like ‘Do not reply’ messages. According to you, how do successful organizations develop the best customer relationships?”
Kristina: “The best way to cultivate a strong and lasting relationship with your customers is by communicating the right information at the right time, through the right channels, with the right tone of voice. It’s essential that at every step of the way, as a marketer you pre-empt all the possible concerns that may come to the customer’s mind when presented with your communication.
Utilize all the resources you have available - especially customer support. These people are at the frontline of all customer interactions; the feedback that they can provide is instrumental, as it directly feeds back into the system, allowing Marketers to make more customer-centric decisions.
I personally find it important to have more than one frontline interaction with the customer. It’s always good to have other mechanisms at play that can provide more insight.
Once you find the right channels, the next best thing is to make sure you’re using the right content. Creating interesting and engaging content is pivotal to customer success; moreover making it human and not ‘automated’ is key, as it allows you to have deeper conversations with your customers. One-size-fits-all content won’t get you too far! The focus needs to be on addressing the customer, and certainly not having sender communications marked as ‘do-not-reply’ - It needs to be a two-way conversation where the customer can join in.
It is the human characteristics of communication that help create strong bonds, and if done really well, this can result in customer loyalty - And that’s the best bond you could ever have with your customers.
Consistency is also a big part of the communicational element. This refers to the frequency of interactions, timing, and most importantly, ‘the tone of voice’. The content should embody the brands' personality and unique selling proposition, making it easy for the audience to recognize your brand.
All these elements are part of building a strong relationship with customers, but what really bridges everything together is that of aligning resources internally. This allows businesses to get really close to their customers, so they can make products and services that the audience truly wants – making them BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER…”
Muriel: “What do customers expect from brands and services nowadays?”
Kristina: “This is a simple one: customers expect companies to DELIVER! i.e. The product or service needs to do exactly what it’s been advertised to do.
If it doesn’t give all the feelings and results that were promised, then the consumer will develop cognitive dissonance, meaning that the customer will start doubting their purchase, doubting the company, and doubting whether they should trust the company – and that’s loyalty down the drain!
Over exaggerating features and benefits will only get you short-term sales. The idea is to set realistic expectations. The excitement ends if the product does not do what it is supposed to do; your product needs to be just as amazing as you said it would be.”
Muriel: “How would you ensure your customers are happy and successful?”
Kristina: “Firstly, you need to make sure you’re targeting the intended audience. Today, customers have variety, they have options, they have complete power. So, you cannot expect that your product is going to satisfy everyone’s needs.
To ensure success, you need to set certain service standards that safeguard reliability. In essence, it’s all about active support. Your customers need to know that you have their best interest at heart and you’re there when they need you.”
Muriel: “Does innovation and brand redesign play an important role, or is success related to the level of customer communication and crisis management?”
Kristina: “I feel like you cannot choose just one. Everything is important in this dynamic. Customer communication is key, but it goes beyond the traditional meaning.
Brands and companies alike, communicate their identity in numerous ways, i.e. through channels of communication, company image, leaders / representatives / brand advocates, the tone of voice – and so much more!
Communication is not just the spoken words. It’s a combination of numerous parts put together that creates an experience which the audience can sense – feel – see – hear – taste – touch.
Yes, it’s also about ‘innovation’ – how flexible and open the company is to listen to new ideas, and how creative they are even when bound by restrictions and limitations.
‘Redesign’, I prefer to talk about ‘optimization’. I see redesign is more about stripping a company from its identity and giving it a new one, while ‘optimization’ is about further building on the brands' identity – and making it even better!
Crisis management is yet another important piece. People think that crisis management happens once there is an actual crisis. For me ‘preparation’ is crisis management. It’s about making sure you have all the resources and information your customer needs at the time when they need it, anticipating their questions and having solutions to those concerns. If you’re not ready and do not have the answer, for me, that’s a crisis!
Here are some personal mantras and rules I like to keep in mind:
- Stay grounded, “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground” - Teddy Roosevelt.
- Have a plan in place not just for success, but also for failure.
- Be creative and keep an open mind.
- Be passionate about your work.
- Empower users with great products and services.
- Stick to the main goal, but be flexible to change.
- Remember your values (Remember why they chose you in the first place!)”
Muriel: “How should every Organization map their customer journey?”
Kristina: “From experience, there is no one way to do anything. There are plenty of different ways that organizations can map out customer journeys. It depends on numerous factors, such as the type of audience you’re targeting, your product, your brand, your overall company goals - and so much more!
But what I can say for sure, is that mapping out your customer journey needs to start and end with the customer in mind. This helps you set the right tone for everything. Think best days to send communications, frequency, and time-zones. Test different material out to see how your audience responds and create content that is meaningful.
As part of your strategy, you need to learn a lot about your customers, their interests, their likes and even their dislikes. Essentially, it’s about really listening to their needs. Align Customer Success, Customer Support, and the Product team and this will be your driving force to having a successful customer journey.”
Muriel: “Your manager once told you: ‘you have this way with people’. Can you tell me what he meant by that?”
Kristina: “Just a bit after I graduated from University, the Software Company I previously worked for as an intern got in touch and asked me if I’d like to have a full-time position as a CRM. At the time, I was unsure whether Customer Relationship Management was really my area, as there were so many other areas of Marketing to explore. But the General Manager at the time gave me confidence and told me that he believed that I would make a good fit for the job, saying I had this way with people.
The funny part of it all is that I’ve always been introverted by nature, or at least that’s how I see myself. But yet, I’ve always ended up in very social situations, especially professionally.
Luckily with the right foundations, guidance, and support, I’ve managed to grow tremendously, both personally and professionally. I can’t say it’s been a piece of cake; there were good times and some rough ones too - a lot of hard work - bumpy rides - internal battles - and things I had to let go of for me to move forward. But it’s definitely been a great journey.”
Kristina Grech, born and raised in Malta, is a University of Malta graduate in Communications.
She previously held the position of Operations Manager in the Catering industry, then moved to software solutions as a CRM Executive / Customer Success Specialist for a start-up Company.
She is now specializing in campaign optimization, deliverability, and engagement within the Gaming industry.
Kristina is super passionate about Customer Success and taking customer experience to new heights.
Muriel Matta (BSc, MSc, MPhil, Cert CTT Practitioner) is the Founder of Maravilhosa.
She is a multilingual Human Resources Management expert, with extensive cross-cultural experience, spanning 26 years in MENA, Europe and CIS.
Through her work with Organizations and Individuals, she helps solve the toughest HR challenges by customizing unique training and coaching solutions to inspire change, positive thinking and transformation.
Muriel can be contacted via email: Muriel@maravilhosa.net