How IT leaders can champion developer-led innovation
Outside of IT, our role can look like we're just the "fixers" for the organization. Got aproblem? Call IT.
But what's becoming increasingly evident in a post-pandemic, AI-driven world is that our IT teams have a massive role in shaping how the organization pursues innovation and creative customer experiences.
So, how can IT leaders support the growth of developer-led innovation?
As the CTO, I must lead the way for what I want the team to do. One of our Contentstack values is "we are curious trendspotters and brave trendsetters," so I intentionally embed curiosity and exploration into my own – and our team's – processes.
The more we can set the scene for developer-led innovation, the better the products and experiences we can offer our customers.
Give the team a box to dream inside
It's hard to set anyone free with the vague directive, "Go think of some great ideas." So, Mace and Cavanagh discussed that every idea their team comes up with should align with their guiding principles:
"This should be a platform that anybody can use. We want to keep it simple and user-friendly. We want things to be quick from a developer's point of view and scalable and automatable. We're happy with it if it fits those guidelines and principles."
For Contentstack, our guiding principle is centering the customers we serve. Whatever makes our customers' lives' easier so they can help their customers is something we want to pursue.
Of course, that can often get incredibly vague, so we've developed persona profiles that break down the needs and complexities of our roles, like the developer, the marketer, and other stakeholders. We check in with the right persona profile when we want to know if an idea aligns.
The idea must also be feasible to develop and fit nicely with our excellent product roadmap. The team understands that if their vision checks all these boxes, I will say, "Let's go for it."
Facilitate the relationship between your developers and customer-facing teams
If you need to see a continuous exchange of ideas within your team, you might evaluate the distance between them and your customers. There needs to be more connection between SaaS developers and their customers today, which is a problem. It's much easier for your team to innovate when they're close to the need. In practice, it's more practical for developers to get close to customer-facing teams versus the customers.
To get these teams together, the leader must lead. Mace acts as the bridge between the editorial team and his developers. The editorial team brings their ideas, needs, and concerns to Mace, and he facilitates discussion among the developers.
That's similar to how my developers and our customer success teams interact. At least every two weeks, I try to meet with Greg Luciano, Contentstack's Head of Customer Success, to talk about his top 10 customer success "wish list." From there, I take the priorities to the team and discuss them. We share our engineering sprints — part of a sprint is dedicated to customer success fixes and feature requests, and the other part goes to our projects.
How can you be the bridge between your developers and customer-facing teams?
Provide the space
If you want your teams to prioritize innovation, it's up to you to set the expectation to go above and beyond and provide the space for them to do it. Too often, developers can get bogged down in the day-to-day - bug fixes, upcoming feature requests, and the next big thing on the roadmap.
I experiment with a revolving door of tools and discuss my findings with the team. It's a clear expectation that I want them to do the same. As a company, we set an objective of 40 hours per person per year (at a minimum) for learning about things that might improve our work and product. That means I'm also held to 40 hours a year, at least.
We provide space in other ways. We carve out a few days a year to host hackathons like DevFest so we can all collaborate and present new product feature ideas. We're also in the middle of our Contentstack AI Immersion program, challenging everyone to learn about how AI can impact their daily roles and present their findings to the team. We'll send the teams with the best ideas to an AI conference in New York.
For the team at Sky, their expectation of trying new things and pursuing innovation was initiated by a director. Mace said she "wanted us to have that attitude of being bold and brave, and operate in a way that a startup would, and push ourselves."
That's why Mace and Cavanagh block time on developers' calendars on Fridays. They call it "Boost Time," and their team has only one priority: to learn something new that they are interested in that will help them in their job. During that time, they cannot take meetings or work on sprints.
If innovation is a priority for your team, it takes creativity on leadership's end to make it possible.
What we do at Contentstack and what Mace and Cavanagh do at Sky may not fit your organization. Ultimately, it is up to your leaders, culture, values, and team to decide what will best pave the way for ideas and collaboration. But prioritizing it will pay off for you, your team, and your customers.
Transforming customer journeys with digital experience strategy
Drive brand loyalty through a compelling digital experience strategyHere's how to develop a customized digital experience strategy that resonates with your audience and elevates your brand.Leverage Digital Platforms and TechnologiesUnderstand the Difference Between DX and CXFocus on Key Components of DXImplement a Digital Experience Platform (DXP)Adopt Emerging TechnologiesPersonalize the Customer ExperienceCreate an Omnichannel ExperienceMonitor and OptimizeKeep reading to learn more.Did you know 65% of customers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising? And that 71% of customers recommend a service or product after a great experience. That’s where digital experience (DX) is essential in enhancing the customer journey. Brands that provide a great shopping experience at every digital touchpoint of the customer journey are more likely to generate loyal customers.So, what is a DX, and what digital experience strategy can you follow to enhance this experience?Let’s explore!Digital experience landscapeA digital experience (DX) is an interaction between a customer and a brand. DX is possible only because of digital platforms or technologies.Usually, a digital experience begins on one platform and transitions onto another. For example, a customer may download your mobile app but start the conversation by sending an email requesting features of your products. The same customer visits your website to end the conversation (make a purchase).Websites, social media platforms, mobile apps, e-commerce sites, content, and smart devices provide customers with a digital experience.Today's digital experience landscape includes artificial intelligence (AI), headless CMS, and customer data platforms. With these technologies, brands can design a hyper-personalized and real-time customer experience. This translates to higher engagement and loyalty. But how is it different from customer experience (CX)?While CX and DX may sound identical, they’re not. DX consists of online platforms like mobile apps, smart devices, websites, and mobile apps. However, CX exceeds the boundaries of these channels and includes customers' online and offline experiences.In short, DX is a subset of CX. Key components of digital experienceThe key components in creating a successful DX include:User interface (UI)The user interface is the face of the technology through which the user first sees and interacts with your business. The login screen or homepage are all examples of the UI your potential customers initially see. It controls the look and feel of your digital interface. UI shapes the first perceptions about your brand.With a well-designed UI increasing website conversion by 200%, ensure your UI is intuitive and easy to use.User experience (UX) designUser experience (UX) design reflects your brand’s ability to deliver a smooth and seamless user experience. Through user research, UX design predicts how customers will use your digital products and services.UX design is about ensuring a consumer can complete the task at hand. So, it’s crucial to consider accessibility, responsiveness, and ease of use.Customer experience (CX)The customer experience approach focuses on the perception that a customer develops while buying a product or a service from your brand. CX involves nurturing good customer relationships for repeat purchases and referrals.With positive customer experience encouraging 81% of customers to purchase, CX ensures customers enjoy their lifetime with your brand.The role of a digital experience platformA digital experience platform (DXP) is an integrated collection of technologies that manages your brand’s DX across various touchpoints.E-commerce, content management, localization, analytics, and personalization are the core elements of the DXP. It helps you deliver a consistent experience. Brands can use DXP to build, deploy, and improve websites, mobile apps, and portals. After a DXP implementation, brands:Provide a digital experience with timely, unified, and continuous access to information, knowledge, and interaction.Apply UX design practices like journey mapping, personal modeling, and data-driven insights. This improves the overall customer experience at all touchpoints.Personalize content content creation and product recommendation. Aggregate and track key performance indicators (KPIs) by gathering data from multiple digital channels.Today, digitally sophisticated and visionary companies cannot afford to ignore DXP platforms. Brands with multiple touchpoints and high stakes in digital experience are more likely to benefit from DXP platforms than others. Case studyLet’s understand the role of a composable DXP using a case study. Solo Stove, a mid-market retailer, switched to Contentstack’s composable DXP to drive higher conversions and sales. The composable DXP helped the company increase web traffic by 60% and online orders by 200%. Adopting a composable DXP is the future for brands looking to create omnichannel campaign experiences to drive higher conversion rates.Strategies to enhance digital experienceCreating a digital experience doesn’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t give modern brands the bandwidth to ignore it. But the good news is that by using a few strategies, you can elevate your DX.Know your customer expectationsAn excellent digital experience is built on knowing what your customers expect. Brands need to understand that customers have different requirements at different times. So, you need a solution that works for individual customers.Once you know what content they love, how they navigate, or what kind of UI design attracts them, you can enhance their digital experience.That’s where digital experience platforms (DXP) like Contentstack provide you with information, such as engagement and interaction data of customers. This helps you create a robust digital customer experience strategy. Create personalized experienceWith 71% of customers feeling frustrated with an impersonal shopping experience, providing personalized experiences is the key to an effective digital experience strategy. Show customers that you’re looking for them and not targeting a particular demographic, segment, or personality under which they fall. Instead, you’re searching for them as individual customers. Companies like Netflix are witnessing tremendous growth — they curate their content and products for individual customers. You can achieve this by using artificial intelligence and machine learning to study, analyze, and understand individual customer behavior. A personalized experience starts when you recommend products or services based on the customer's recent search. Implementing this type of personalization isn’t a one-time effort — it’s an ongoing process. If your customers are ready to share data and information with you, they expect something in return!Use omnichannel for a unified experienceGiven the numerous digital touchpoints customers use — whether mobile apps, websites, social media platforms, or email — creating an omnichannel experience is challenging.Providing an omnichannel experience means having a unified design, synchronized customer data, and integrated customer support across all your digital points. For instance, if a customer interaction starts on an email and continues on a mobile app, customers receive the same experience. The interaction starts from where they left off.That’s good because you know where to restart the interaction when a customer reaches out about the same issue on different digital channels. Use digital twins for advanced experience planningDigital twins are virtual twins of your product or service. You can test them under various scenarios in your digital environment and measure their performance before building on them in the real world. A digital twin is a great way of creating avatars representing your target audience. This helps you visualize them, better comprehend customers’ behavior, and identify areas for improvement.For instance, your customer’s digital twin may reveal that customers leave your website within two to three minutes of arriving on the home page. This may suggest issues with the user interface or the content quality. You can test different strategies through these digital twins. For instance, you can tweak some of the elements in the user interface and then measure the effect on the customer’s behavior.Watch the video below to see how Contentstack helped ASICS Digital deliver global experiences.After successfully addressing the needs of its global consumer and business-customer base, Peter Nealon (Vice President, Engineering at ASICS Digital) said:“By making the switch to Contentstack, we’ll be able to provide creative, unique content experiences and operate with speed and flexibility for years to come.”Emerging technologies in digital experienceEmerging technologies enhance the speed and smoothness of the digital experience and provide a uniform and consistent DX. Here are a few technologies that can impact the future of the digital experience landscape.Artificial intelligence (AI)With customers getting used to interaction with chatbots and various voice command devices, AI is one technology that will profoundly impact the digital experience.Today, based on what chatbots have learned from their past conversations with customers, they can predict the next best action and even handle transactional calls, which humans previously answered.By recognizing customer’s moods and emotions, chatbots can transfer calls to humans, providing a seamless digital experience.Predictive analyticsPredictive analytics employs past and present information to predict future customer actions. With predictive analytics, you can understand customer needs, enhance your marketing strategy, and make data-backed informed decisions. This helps you offer tailored products or services to customers before they even realize their need for such products.Customer journey optimizationCustomer journey optimization improves a customer's experience with a brand. This optimization starts when a customer hears about your brand and lasts until the customer makes a purchase and beyond.By monitoring each touchpoint, you can understand which needs you can fulfill to improve the digital customer experience.FAQsWhat is the best approach to building an effective digital experience strategy?In developing a digital experience strategy, understand what your customers expect, leverage suitable tech tools in your tech stack, and continuously enhance your services using customer feedback.What tools are required for digital experience management?The tools you require for digital experience management are DXP, analytical tools, data platforms, and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.What metrics help you assess the success of your digital experience strategies?You can use metrics such as conversion, customer satisfaction, engagement, and retention rates to measure the success of your digital experience strategies.What distinguishes digital experience from customer experience?Digital experience refers to every digital interaction a customer has with a brand. In contrast, customer experience considers interactions through online and offline platforms.Why should AI be used in digital experience strategies?Artificial intelligence is crucial in digital experience as it helps with personalization, predictive analytics, and automated customer care. This offers a seamless customer experience.Learn moreAs brands strive harder to achieve customer loyalty and fulfill their expectations, providing a superior digital experience is necessary. That’s why a composable digital experience platform (DXP) is the key to a successful digital experience.Composable digital experience platforms (DXP) like Contentstack assist brands in delivering unique omnichannel digital experiences. Request a demo, or if you have a question, do not hesitate to contact us.
Implementing a winning digital customer experience strategy
How to provide a seamless and unified digital customer experience (DCX)Evolution of the Digital Customer ExperienceUnderstand how customer interactions with brands have transformed over time.Explore the impact of social media and mobile devices on personalization.Embrace omnichannel strategies, personalized interactions, and intuitive user experiences in 2024.The Importance of Personalization in DCXDiscover why personalization is the X-factor of DCX.Learn how it improves customer satisfaction, increases brand loyalty, and enhances conversion rates.Harness the power of personalized product recommendations to meet customer needs and preferences.Understanding Digital Customer ExperienceDefine DCX and its role in online brand interactions.Explore digital channels such as websites, mobile apps, social media, email, and live chat.Recognize the impact of DCX on customer behavior, brand perception, and retention.Key Components of an Effective Digital CX StrategyDevelop an overarching plan to enhance digital interactions.Prioritize personalization at every touchpoint to meet customer demands.Customize experiences based on customer needs, interests, and preferences.Utilize data-driven insights to deliver personalized product recommendations and tailored content.Don't miss out on the opportunity to maximize customer satisfaction and build long-term loyalty through a winning digital customer experience strategy. Ready to take your digital customer experience to the next level? Keep reading to learn more!You’ve put numerous hours into building a revolutionary digital product. Your branding is spot on, your website looks aesthetically appealing, and your market research shows product enthusiasm in your target audience. But when customers engage with your brand through your website, mobile app, or social media channels, they may face too many challenges. When they experience frustration with using the simplest feature, they often turn to your competitors without looking back at your brand. That’s the harsh reality facing every brand!With 73% of customers admitting that experience plays an important factor in their purchasing decisions, brands that focus on providing a seamless and unified digital customer experience (DCX) are the ones that build a loyal customer base.In the age of digital transformation, DCX ensures that every touchpoint fosters lasting customer relationships and meets their demands.This article provides a roadmap for digital experience customer strategy (DCX) as you learn about effective digital customer experience strategies and understand its key components.The evolution of the digital customer experienceOne aspect of customer experience (CX) that has witnessed a landmark change is how customers interact with brands. Though Amazon has been a master of personalization since the late 90’s, their efforts were minimal.The revolution exploded with the rapid adoption of social media and mobile devices in the early 2000s, adding an extra pinch of interactiveness and personalization. This brings us to today when the level of personalization companies offer is second to none. As a result, the DCX has become a must for companies as it encompasses various customer touchpoints, such as websites, apps, social media, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. As we enter 2024, DCX will focus on omnichannel strategies, personalized interactions, and intuitive user experiences.The importance of personalization in DCXAccording to 60% of shoppers, brands delivering non-personalized content can lose customer loyalty. Unfortunately, many brands are not delivering the level of personalization customers expect. In this digital age, personalization has become the X-factor of DCX. With 80% of customers likely to purchase from brands offering personalized products and services, a hyper-personalized experience can differentiate your brand from others. Here are a few reasons why personalization is important in DCX:Improves customer satisfactionPersonalized product or service recommendations show your ability to meet the customer’s needs and preferences. Personalization helps you deliver tailored solutions that align with your customer’s circumstances. This leads to long-term customer satisfaction and positive word-of-mouth publicity. Increases brand loyaltyWhen you consistently provide personalized and proactive services, you create a superior experience. Customers who receive personalized recommendations, timely product recommendations, and ongoing support will likely stay loyal to your brand.Enhances conversion ratesPersonalization makes the CX relevant, efficient, and enjoyable, increasing sales and conversions. For instance, if a customer has recently shown interest in a laptop series, they may receive an email about the latest computer accessories. Such personalized recommendations increase the conversion chances.Understanding digital customer experienceDCX refers to all the online interactions with a brand using digital channels. These digital channels include websites, mobile apps, social media, email, and live chat.Your customers create a perception of your brand every time they interact with it. Hence, brands must try to enhance the DCX through these digital channels.Your brand must offer smooth channel hopping and personalization.Today, with companies offering similar products or services, one place where brands can stealthily compete is the DCX.When you offer a superior DCX than your competitors, your level of customer loyalty increases. Besides increasing loyalty, DCX impacts your customer behavior and brand perception as it:Increases customer retentionReduces customer churn ratesEnhances customer lifetime valueEnsures higher brand equityDecreases costs of serviceAccording to a study, 65% of customers shift to a new brand when they have a bad experience in digital channels. As a result, good CX is now a business-critical mission.Key components of an effective Digital CX strategyA digital customer experience strategy is an overarching plan that encompasses all aspects of your digital interactions. It explores how brands can leverage technology to provide unique CX, keep up with changing demands, and facilitate smoother digital customer journeys.The ideal DCX approach ensures that you dictate how customers view your brand, ultimately promoting increased business growth.Here are some key components of the DCX strategy:Personalization at every touchpointDigital customers don’t look for personalization; they demand it. 80% of business leaders said that personalization encourages users to pay 34% more.Now is the time for brands to provide personalization at every digital touchpoint of the customer journey.Regardless of the digital channel through which your customers interact (website, mobile app, social media platform, or service call), ensure that you customize the experience based on their needs, interests, or preferences.This includes personalized product recommendations based on past purchases or browsing behavior. Besides this, you can tailor your content to fit the customer’s interests or provide a personalized greeting that refers to them using their name.Personalization improves engagement and grows brand loyalty, improving conversion and business growth.However, it’s important to strike a balance between personalization and privacy. This ensures you handle customer experience data (X-data) and operational data (O-data) responsibly and transparently.Nevertheless, there is a need to balance personalization and privacy to handle personal data.Case study: How did GetYourGuide use Contentstack to personalize and enrich travel experiences?When GetYourGuide, a pioneer in the travel industry, faced workflow challenges, the company adopted Contentstack, a headless CMS. This helped GetYourGuide streamline content creation and significantly reduce time spent on support and approvals. This transition focused on personalized travel experiences and innovative offerings. As a result, more than 500k unique visitors received personalized, optimized content daily.The modular content structures facilitated rapid expansion, including exclusive experiences promoted with rich videos and influencer content.What did our customers say?“Contentstack sits at the center of our new MVP program, where we’ve empowered our marketers and digital teams to suggest new content and experiences. We can then test and deliver on them within days.” - Pedro Henrique Torres, Product Manager at GetYourGuide.Read the case study, “GetYourGuide uses Contentstack to personalize and enrich travel experiences.”Unified and seamless omnichannel experienceWith 72% of customers expecting the agent to know about their issues and history across digital channels, providing a unified and seamless omnichannel digital experience is essential.This ensures that all digital touchpoints are interconnected and provide a consistent experience.Today, customers expect a frictionless experience when switching from one platform to another.When brands synchronize data across various platforms, it will give rise to omnichannel integration. This allows real-time updates and personalized interactions to occur. It is an approach that promotes better and more streamlined customer service.Moreover, omnichannel integration provides a holistic view of customer's journeys, helping you customize and improve your offerings.Case study: How did Contentstack help RetailMeNot provide an omnichannel experience?When RetailMeNot ran into problems associated with content modification and integration among various systems, they opted for Contentstack. Using headless CMS from Contentstack made generating and presenting the content easy. The reusable elements of Contentstack helped RetailMeNot deliver a seamless cross-channel experience.What do our customers say?“Contentstack has definitely helped us to get experiences out faster. It’s now easier to get changes made, previewed, and delivered.”Gary Newcomb, Principal Engineer at RetailMeNotRead the case study, “RetailMeNot creates omnichannel content at light speed“Real-time customer feedbackYou must seek real-time customer feedback to understand their needs and preferences.As you collect feedback throughout their journey, it comes at a rate at which you can effectively use it. Real-time feedback provides actionable information that helps you build trust and interact further with customers.That is how you identify their problem areas and solve them. Real-time feedback can be incorporated through live chat, website surveys, or social media interactions.Future trends in digital customer experienceThe future of DCX is bright, and here are some future trends:Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)Utilizing AI and ML lets you know what your customers are up to and how they behave and helps you develop a personalized CX.For example, many brands utilize AI-powered chatbots that provide round-the-clock assistance and responses to questions.ML allows you to use your customers’ data best because you can analyze their behavior and patterns. This helps you anticipate future expectations and personalize your goods and services.For example, ML suggests products they may like based on the customer's browsing history and previous transactions. This creates a personalized online shopping experience.Predictive personalization Predictive personalization uses analytics and data from your customer’s past purchases and browsing history to analyze their behavior, predict what they expect, and provide them with content and product recommendations before they know what they need.It allows you to predict their interest and provides a positive experience.Predictive personalization ensures you determine when customers will likely churn or leave. It ensures you take the initiative and make sure you retain them.The growing importance of mobile experiencesToday's people turn to mobile phones for shopping, gathering information, and ensuring interaction with other brands.As a result, you need to focus on mobile-friendly designs, fast-loading websites, and interactive mobile apps.Mobile offers an opportunity for immersive, personalized experiences – from geo-targeted advertising and notifications to personalized recommendations based on user behavior.Additionally, mobile empowers you to reach customers wherever they are, at any time, enhancing accessibility and convenience.FAQsWhat is the relevance of an omnichannel approach to DCX?An omnichannel approach in DCX simplifies all customer interactions across various touchpoints. This approach improves their journey by empowering them to switch between digital channels and receive the same level of service and support. For instance, if customers start shopping on a mobile app, they can easily continue shopping on a brand’s website without losing any saved information.How can brands improve their digital customer service?To improve digital customer service, brands can make it easy for customers to give feedback, follow their data trail, know the ins and outs of their target audience, and unify experiences on all digital platforms. What differentiates digital customer experience from traditional customer service?Customer service is a sub-set of DCX. DCX refers to the complete digital journey of a customer, from initial awareness to post-purchase care. On the other hand, traditional customer service refers to the support and help offered to customers when they reach out to a brand for support. Can technology improve DCX?Yes, digital technologies can improve DCX. For instance, brands use data analytics tools to provide customer insights and AI-powered chatbots to offer personalized assistance.What are the metrics for measuring the success of the DCX initiatives?To measure the impact of DCX on business objectives, brands can use various key performance metrics, like customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), net promoter scores (NPS), and customer effort scores (CES).The most critical element of your DCX is your customer!The best CXs don’t happen by chance. Brands with a successful DCX strategy follow the people-first approach. By understanding and implementing the key components of DCX, brands develop a loyal following and increase their sales. With the right platforms, you can have an effective digital customer experience strategy up and running. That’s where a headless composable DXP like Contentstack comes in. Contentstack helps your brand provide unified omnichannel digital experiences and hyper-personalization.Schedule a free trial or demo of the Contentstack composable DXP platform and see why top brands choose our platform.
Make unconventional decisions as your company grows
I've always leaned a little unconventional— a CEO sommelier. I am a first-generation Indian American growing up in a primarily Hispanic community with Filipino best friends— a non-techie leading tech company from a non-Ivy League school (that was a mouthful).It's been a fact of my life and my career. Part of it was because I needed access to the same opportunities early on, so I had to nudge my way through. But another part was more choice. If there's a "book" to live by, I prefer to take what works for me, throw out the rest, and write my version based on values and dreams.That's led to a lifetime of entrepreneurship and the ultimate dream of leading Contentstack from a product-within-a-service company to one of Deloitte's 500 fastest-growing tech companies this year.And guess what? I've made some unconventional choices along the way. Here, I've reflected on some of the biggest ones, with help from a recent "People Changing Enterprises" podcast.Starting where others didn't From the start, we had a good idea: we built a product the market needed. That's because we created Contentstack due to seeing first-hand the frustration our Raw Engineering services customers were experiencing because of their monolithic CMSs. The speed of business and culture was increasing, web, mobile, and social media platforms were exploding, and cloud computing was the apparent future. Still, their current systems needed help to keep up.This early customer testing ground led to customer funding when we spun out Contentstack. It's unusual. Many founders would move immediately to VC to scale fast. But we took longer to stay close to the customer, continue iterating based on demand, and prove product-market fit. By the time we did raise VC money in 2019, it was for a much more significant sum than we could have a few years earlier. We had laid the groundwork for a sustainable, customer-driven business model (vs. the growth-at-all-costs mentality that became popular). Those anchors don't tend to steer you wrong.In the People Changing Enterprises episode, Bjørn Kreijen, director of Digital and e-commerce at equipment rental company Boels, also transitioned from brick-and-mortar to digital-first unconventionally. While he knew the company would eventually move to a composable architecture, he chose the opposite direction at the outset: a monolithic CMS.This move allowed them to assemble the team and capabilities quickly. "First go for the monolith, make sure that you have the right capabilities on your team, that you have the technological knowledge. And then start decomposing. That's how we did it...But the CMS platform that we chose was built in the cloud, so it made the switch to composable easier."Investing in Customer CareWe're just one of many who know that focusing on customers is an innovative business practice. Bjørn explained that another unconventional decision Boels made was to build its entire online presence around five customer journeys – not personas (are you a painter, plumber, or landscaper?). The persona analysis needed to give them a meaningful distinction to build off of. However, they found the journeys differed based on the organizations' size, so Boels ultimately broke those out on a scale from corporate customers to individuals doing DIY projects.For Contentstack, these are some of the unconventional ways customer care comes to life:When we hire, we look for signs that candidates care about customers and their outcomes. Our interview scorecard asks if the candidate "Gives a damn."We built a proactive customer-level monitoring tool based on API usage that catches technical issues before they become a customer problems. This is a win-win because it ultimately helps customers save on infrastructure and helps Contentstack save on support costs.We created an ecosystem of support from Care Without Compromise™ to Contentstack Academy and the Go Composable website.In the most unconventional way, in 2021, we acquired a team of CMS experts from Raw Engineering, the service company I launched that served as the origin story of Contentstack. The team pioneered headless CMS years ago, coming home in a real full-circle moment. Together, all these efforts help customers with implementation, overcoming roadblocks, and developing their internal expertise. Looking for Talent in Undiscovered PlacesI didn't go to an Ivy League school. I had to fight like, hell at a previous company to hire someone who became one of my top performers without a college degree.Why would we revert to old ways of thinking and hiring when we've seen what diversity of thought and backgrounds can mean to an organization?At Contentstack, we focus on unconventional hires, including partnering with organizations that support mothers' re-entry into the workforce and placing underprivileged high school students in paid engineering internships. Our annual Tech Surf competition in India received over 34,000 applications from students across 3,000 colleges. The winners get a chance to apply for several Associate Application Engineer positions.We also focus on transferable skills more than direct experience. That's how we ended up with an accountant student as one of our top engineers and a bodybuilder as Chief of Staff. It's about finding people willing to learn and driven to build something and hustle. We won't change our unconventional ways anytime soon — and neither should companies like Boels. Instead, we'll continue focusing on building the most beloved product on the market by listening to partners and challenging the status quo. Like Judy Garland said: "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
Five rules of leadership rallying
You have a new goal to hit or a new tool or CSR program to launch company-wide. It's critical that you get people – a lot of them – on board.In Narisa Wild's case, she was preparing to launch a new Digital Skills Index across Informa, a massive events enterprise powering conferences worldwide. On our "People Changing Enterprises" podcast, she explained the Index would measure digital maturity to help balance the employee divide. But how would she get employees to take proficiency tests and leaders to prioritize digital upskilling – two responsibilities that can fall low on a priority list when tackling your "must-dos?"Rallying your people isn't easy. It's also not a moment in time. Successful rallying starts as early as building the right team and includes knowing when it's not your turn to lead, among other things. Here, I'll share the five rallying rules I've developed along my leadership journey. 1. Hire people with the drive to strive for better.As a leader, your time for rallying will inevitably come. Setting yourself up for success starts with hiring the right people. I don't look for people who want a job; I look for people who go after "better" when they see the possibility. I want to hear about a time when they chased improvement.That way, when it's time to rally around a new goal or challenge the status quo, they get excited by the potential. (Hiring this way also builds a culture of innovation.)On the podcast, Narisa advised: "If someone is smart, intelligent, willing, hungry, have the desire, they can pretty much wrap their arms around anything. Just look at our career paths. We probably didn't start anywhere near where we are now."I started in tech PR, moved to product management, and then to founding and running a tech company. So, I agree. 2. Show people how the cause positively impacts them.Would you hop on a bus with no destination? Or one with a destination of "nowhere special?" Leadership rallying involves clearly and repeatedly articulating a vision and how that vision impacts the people you want support from.Use empathy to understand the underlying factor that would most motivate the largest swath of your target group. Here are some considerations:Will the initiative make their jobs and lives easier?Is there a David vs. Goliath story?Will people have the opportunity to do something that's never been done?Will they get a reward or incentive for participation?Will they make important personal connections?Will they positively impact a community or close a societal gap?Will they have the opportunity to satiate curiosity and grow in new ways?Psychology Today published a list of common motivators that could help you think through this even more. But Narisa broke motivation down in the simplest terms of all on our podcast: describe "what this new 'toy' is bringing to them." 3. Make it fun.Nobody is hoping for another email telling them what to do. That can be part of a rallying strategy, but not the only part. Have fun and be creative with your initiative.One of our rallying cries, #LFG (it means what you think it means), was born out of the stressful post-pandemic period where we had lofty goals in what felt like a shaky market. I made #LFG tee shirts, shared pictures, and incorporated #LFG into our efforts. We hit the number, and I think rallying was a big reason why.Similarly, we recently wanted to rally around public voting tied to our South by Southwest Panel Picker submissions. Apart from distributing the voting call across all channels, we hosted a live voting session attended by close to 100 people. Our General Counsel, Jessica Shor, committed to donating a tree for every vote. We'll find out soon if our ideas are chosen, but the motivation here is clear: help Contenstack get on stage and improve the environment while you're at it. They aren't immediately relatable, but it works! 4. Build followership by letting people lead.In my youth, I went from student body president to part of the Pioneer Leadership Program at the University of Denver. This involved living on the same residency floor with 30 other Type A leaders. I learned quickly that I couldn't always lead. There were times when my most helpful role for the moment was following. That experience ultimately influenced my leadership mantra of unblocking and getting out of the way.Sometimes, the CEO or department head isn't the best person to rally a group. If you're looking for a Gen Z upswell on social media, for example, maybe it's a Gen Z leader, you must make it relatable. In these instances, listen to what the Gen Z leader requests from you regarding support and make it happen as best as possible.When team members request my participation in an initiative, I ask myself: do I have something unique to bring to the table? Can someone else make a more significant impact than me? I'd be excited about it if it's primarily tech-related but I would probably rely on our CTO or VP of Product, who have more authority. 5. Rallying isn't always enough.I've had moments of superb rallying that still led to failed experiments. I once built a parking app that launched at TechCrunch Disrupt and secured coverage in USA Today and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. We passed out fake parking tickets that served as app credits.All this rallying created a viral sensation in its day, but the app was unsuccessful, likely because we hadn’t yet solved for product-market fit.Rallying is excellent – even essential – to a new initiative's success. But it'll not be easy to go far without other pieces in place, like the right business plan, people, and product-market fit.A rallying leader propels their team and organization forward, transforming setbacks into opportunities. I hope these "rules" will help you go after those opportunities…and have fun.