Better works with teams to design better customer experiences. Founder Vincent Hunt shares how his 23 years in the industry set him up with the knowledge and skills he needed to then go on to help other companies. Vincent illustrates the three main avenues through which they help their partners: to help empower teams to make better design decisions as it pertains to the customer experience, strengthen the partnerships between them and their partners, and to delight customers.
And at its core, Better serves to help its partners go beyond pretty things, to go above what the public sees, and to determine what kind of design is really going on within the culture and organization, in order to keep organizations from breaking their promises to their partners.
Topics in this episode
Differences between US and international companies in regards to customer experiences
Defining customer experience, and what falls within that category
Conversations with a client in the early stages to understand their current status
The importance of examining internal processes as a starting point
Customer experience ecosystem
Possibility thinking versus competition thinking
How to make more informed design decisions
Mike Kelly: Welcome to the podcast. Today we have Vincent Hunt who's the founder of Better. Vincent works with teams and companies to design better experiences. Welcome to the show.
Vincent Hunt: Thank you. Thank you for having me, Mike.
Mike Kelly: Tell me about Better.
Vincent Hunt: Better, yes, we are an experience design company, and I always say that we're a United States-based experience design company because you see a lot of experience design happening in the marketplace, but a lot of it is really kind of overseas. That's where you see a lot of the activity as it pertains to really, really diving into the customer experience, or really, really unfolding that science. I always like to flog the banner of we are a United States-based experience design company, and what we do is basically help our customers, or help our clients or what we call our partners, one, empower their teams to make better design decisions as it pertains to the course of customer experience.
Vincent Hunt: The second thing that we like to say that we do is, of course, strengthen the strategic partnerships between, of course, our clients and their clients, their partners. Then the last thing that we like to say, which is ultimately the end game, right, delight customers. How do you do that? Better is set up to do that work.
Mike Kelly: Customer experience can mean a lot of different things. Why don't you unpack what you mean when you say customer experience?
Vincent Hunt: Wow. When I say customer experience, we think about customer experience in the context of the totality of an organization's customer experience ecosystem, right? In that case, we're talking about everything from the sales team, how are they performing, how are they interacting with potential clients or customers, all the way through the backend? What's happening on the operational context? If you have a supplier or a partner supplier, how are you actually working with that partner, that experience? Because, at the end of the day, I think everything kind of trickles down whether you know it or not, it falls into the lap of the customer.
Vincent Hunt: For instance, if we have a bad experience with a supplier, if that experience is broken now we have delayed delivery times on certain ... whether it be raw materials or the actual product in itself which then, in turn, turns into an extended wait time for the customer. So there's all of these nuances within a customer experience ecosystem that we like to take into consideration and then designing for that. If it's a process, if it's a product, like you say, it could span across a lot of different things but, at the heart of what we do, is really taking a look at the customer experience ecosystem and helping our clients understand and navigate that in a more efficient way.
Mike Kelly: When you first sit down and start talking with a prospect or an early stage client, what do those conversations look like to understand where they're at and what needs they might have?
Vincent Hunt: Yeah. It starts off as you would probably imagine. For instance, let's take a digital product. A digital product, "We've gotten a lot of feedback on our UI, we think our UI is broken." Okay. That's part of the experience, right? We then dial into that and say, "Okay. Let's think about the UI of this digital product and let's really analyze the user in themselves." Now you start talking more about the human centered design experience, but then when we start unpacking that conversation and really start unfolding it, it really does now start to permeate into the organization as a whole because there's backend things that have to happen, there's all this stuff that actually affect the end game.
Vincent Hunt: Usually a client will come to us with the end game. "We need a better UI." Or, if it's a product that's in the marketplace, let's just say an industrially designed product, a physical thing, they're not getting a lot of traction, right? Maybe it's a packaging problem or maybe it's just a product in itself. So they start looking at these things, and what we understand is their view or their perspective of it is very myopic in a lot of cases, but when we pull back and get a bigger view of what's really going on, the totality of things, sometimes it's not the product. Maybe it's how we're communicating about the product. Maybe it's just the packaging, so you really have to kind of dissect and unpack these things with the client.
Vincent Hunt: We encourage a lot of research, a lot of user research, really digging into the customer and looking at those customer journeys and how we can actually make those better.
Mike Kelly: Got it. Go through some of the ... and you just rattled off a couple of them there with tactics you might use to better understand what might be broken, what the real experience is today, current state, things like that. Why don't you run down just maybe a short list of some of the tools in the toolbox that you might bring to bear against a specific problem to understand where we are and what we might need to do?
Vincent Hunt: Yeah. As surface level at best, right? Let's look at the typical situation where we're trying to dial into, and let's go behind the scenes a little bit, because I think it's easy to talk about the things that are consumer-facing. Let's talk about internal processes. If we think about internal processes and we think about, let's just say order fulfillment. You have a team that's working a order fulfillment because you have a physical product that you're putting into the marketplace. We have to start thinking about, let's just think about Curtis. Curtis is over in that department and it's his job to make sure that the orders are fulfilled on time. But what happens when some of the software that's being used on the inside of the organization is slow and cumbersome?
Vincent Hunt: Then we go and we interview Mary, so here's a tool, interviews right? Doing a lot of interviews with the people that are on these teams and finding out what their experiences are and where they're actually having sticky points, or things are cumbersome. Interviewing is one way to do it.
Vincent Hunt: Another way to do it, of course, is to put out, of course, which is another form of interviewing, surveys. Put out a survey. Ask. "When you come in in the morning, what are your experiences?" Or, "What are some of the things that make you kind of begrudging to your work?" Or, "What are some of the things that super-delight you? What do you like about your work?" Asking questions of the actual stakeholders in any part of the process as it pertains to the channels and, in this case, we're talking about order fulfillment. Asking questions, digging in. We really have a human center. When we say we have a human center-based practice, we really, really do.
Vincent Hunt: There's tons of technology that you can pull in. There's ways to actually analyze the things that you get back. The data that you get back? We can use technology to do that. But a lot of times it's about just talking to the actual people who are actually in charge of those experiences. Ask them questions, so if there's any one holy grail tool, is interaction. Go in and ask the questions. And that's the hard part. If we could automate everything, that would be one thing, but getting in and asking questions, that's a whole nother thing.
Mike Kelly: I can imagine when you do that you'll find a lot of opportunities.
Vincent Hunt: Tons.
Mike Kelly: How do you prioritize those opportunities?
Vincent Hunt: Yeah, based on business needs, goals and objectives, it always goes back to business, right? What are the things that we can do now to ... Let's just say it's about strengthening the bottom line. Efficiencies, right? If you have an efficiency that you actually deploy or actually design something that would actually make something more efficient for the company which then, in turn, would save them money, that goes back to the bottom line. Those things are going to get higher priority, those things that have actual direct business impact, those are the things we're going to go after first.
Vincent Hunt: Then there's all the other stuff, what we call the super-delight stuff. It's the stuff that goes above and beyond, like, "Are we actually putting handwritten notes in everything that we send out? Do we actually do that?" Those are some of the things that can be designed that we called super-delights, and so really putting it based on priority, based on business goals, objectives, getting those taken care of first, knocking those out. Then we go into this whole layer that we love to work in which is, of course, super-delighting, the end users, the customers, the surprise moments, like, "Why did they do that?" Those aha moments that really make things stick.
Mike Kelly: How often, when you go in to work with a company, are you looking at that company's competition to understand how they interact with their customers, or how customer experience as relative to the rest of the market?
Vincent Hunt: Yeah, absolutely. We definitely do competitor's analysis. For instance, if you're talking hotel versus hotel, or coffee shop versus coffee shops, ones that are winning, ones that aren't. All of that is definitely smart business. Going in, kind of seeing what's going on in the landscape, and we do that. For instance, if it is a ... Let's take, for instance, a software development shop and how that they're actually delivering their products and services to the end user which, in this case, would be, of course, development in software.
Vincent Hunt: Looking at another software company and saying, "What does their process look like? How efficient is that process? How fast are they getting projects done? What are they delivering? At what level of excellence?" Going through, doing an analysis on that, looking at that and then looking at our partners and saying, "Okay. How do you measure up? What are your efficiencies? How are you delivering on excellence?" Those types of things. All of that is there and that's just smart business.
Vincent Hunt: But one area that we like tippy-toe into, that we really talk a lot about at Better, is possibility thinking versus competition thinking. We really find that that's kind of like the separator in the game today, because if we compete, because I come from an innovation background. If you compete, nine times out of ten you're going to be doing what we call incremental innovation. Okay. "They have a flat screen, our sis going to be a little bit flatter. Theirs is curved, our is going to be curved a little bit more. Theirs is one resolution, ours will be a little bit higher resolution."
Vincent Hunt: We can do that all day, but where things get interesting is when we really start pushing the envelopes with our clients and saying, "But what's possible though?" Let's take a coffee shop. Coffee shop versus coffee shop. Both of you are serving coffee, both of you have killer customer service, both of you remember the names of your customers, all of these things, right? But what can we do, what is possible? That becomes the question. That becomes the challenge, doing what's possible, and we've seen it in the marketplace. Apple, Microsoft, we can go for days on the companies that are possibility thinking versus competition thinking and what that actually means in today's marketplace where we have so much capability. Are we tapping into that capability? Using technology to extend those boundaries?
Mike Kelly: How do you start somebody the path of possibility thinking. What does that look like?
Vincent Hunt: Yeah, it's small bits. Small bits. A lot of times, because possibility thinking can be a little scary. For instance, we're working with a community bank, and with this community bank they were saying, "Vince, we want a better experience on the front end for our customers when they actually walk into the bank." That makes sense. Better signage, make it easier for them to find certain things, have the concierge type experience where they're offering them maybe coffee and cookies early in the morning, those types of things are easy to do. But when we start pushing the possibility thinking and we say, "Okay, but what if you were to use augmented reality to actually have somebody helping them in the front lobby versus a physical person? What does that look like?"
Vincent Hunt: What magically came out with their technology, we started thinking about mixed reality, this stuff is real. You have somebody there, virtually, able to answer questions gives a human kind of a feel to the scenario and, at the exact same time, providing an experience that they will talk about. That's one of those super-delights. "Oh my God. I went into the bank and a virtual assistant helped me, but they were standing there, for real." That's awesome. So you can push those boundaries.
Vincent Hunt: Again, it can be scary when you start talking about possibility thinking versus competition thinking, but then you have small bits. Instead of it being actually mixed reality, why don't we do something on our phone that when they actually walk through the door they get a push notification that begins to walk them through the concierge type experience. That's the first step of it, right? And if that was awesome, what if we did this? It's that's kind of stuff that we like to push our partners into to get them thinking in that way to super-delight their clients and their customers.
Mike Kelly: Why did you start Better?
Vincent Hunt: Wow. I started Better because I think we can just do better at design. Now, this is no rag now when I say that, right? This is no rag on any other designer, not at all. But we have so much capability now, so much information, so much data, so much insight as it pertains to human behavior now versus what we used to have. And when you think about the tenets of design, when you think intention, designing to the user, those types of things, now with all, as hyperconnected as we are, are we doing all that we can do to actually find out as much as we possibly can about our potential clients and customers and truly providing better experiences?
Vincent Hunt: It's funny, because even when potential clients come to us they say, "Vince, we're looking for a better way to do a certain thing." Most people are in pursuit of better, so I designed Better or created Better so that way it's this whole theory I have about designing beyond the pretty things. Design is rooted in research, understanding, right? If you can do a better job at research and understanding, really looking at the dat and long-term your design be data-driven, insight-driven, versus just, "Is it pretty?" Now I think we're tapping in to what we deem as better design, more human-centric, designed on the user no matter who that user is, and we have multiple channels, as we talked about earlier. Internal teams, what does their day look like and how does that affect the end user. And, of course, the customer, the aka client and user customer CX.
Mike Kelly: How do you figure out where to start when you engage with a company?
Vincent Hunt: Usually when companies come there's two ends to the sword. The first end is if we're reaching out to an organization, let's say they have a customer experience manager. Because of the way Better is designed, Better is designed not only to be a facilitator of services, doing services, building and creating experiences, we also serve as an education platform, teaching, giving deeper understanding, tools, resources. So in that context let's just say I'm reaching out to a company because they have a customer experience manager introducing them to new concepts, bringing them in, letting them learn from us, giving them all the premium stuff.
Vincent Hunt: Then what happens is they ultimately start asking questions. When that beings to happen, that's when we begin that engagement process. "How can we become partners in this form of exploration?" For instance, one of the biggest things is the lack thereof, and this blew my mind when we started doing the stats on this. This is why the whole customer experience ecosystem mapping, that practice is at the center of what we do because we found out that 20% of customer experience managers, as well as practitioners in the field, don't even use that. They're doing spot checks, right? Like, "Oh, I want to fix UI. Okay, better fix UI." Let's find the customer journey on the UI and fix UI." Devoid of everything else, do you see what I'm saying?
Vincent Hunt: And so, by working with with organizations in a more holistic kind of way, we approach an organization and just ask them for that one artifact, "We would love to do a free audit on your customer experience ecosystem." "That document doesn't exist. Of course it doesn't. That work doesn't exist." "So who does that work?" And we delivery that in two different formats. You can come in and learn and we'll teach you how to do yours.
Mike Kelly: All right, so teach me. I'll bite. I have a number of companies. None of them have a customer experience ecosystem defined. What does that even look like? I wouldn't even know what that would be.
Vincent Hunt: And the thing about it is, no bad, right? The thing about it is unless you know ... And again, and I take blame for this, this is why. You asked the question, "Why did you create Better?" There's just a better way. If we stop short cutting and taking orders as designers and creatives, and truly becoming a partner with our partners, we can help them in a more holistic kind of a way.
Vincent Hunt: Mike, okay, you want to fix one process within your organization, I hear you. But what about all the other processes that affect this? And this is where this ecosystem comes into play. The question begins, "How do you start that process?" You have to do an audit of the entire organization. Go find all the channels, what are all the things that you do and all the people that are in those channels, and who owns each channel and the experience that that channel produces. Once you've mapped that out, then you start going through and you start asking the questions, "Is this running as smoothly as it should? Are the experiences that are being had in this channel at the optimum peaking performance that they should be at?" Or, "If not, what can we do to make it better?"
Vincent Hunt: It's easier to do when you have a smaller company. Let's just start there, because you don't have so many moving parts.
Mike Kelly: It's no joke. You don't have all those processes.
Vincent Hunt: That's it. But they're coming.
Mike Kelly: So you're basically saying, I'm going to say this back to you to make sure I got it, lay out every process with it. Let's do Startup Competitors.
Vincent Hunt: Start-up Competitors.
Mike Kelly: The podcast that we're on.
Vincent Hunt: There we go.
Mike Kelly: We generate reports for startup founders so they better understand the competition in their market, so we have processes for when an order comes in that kicks off a whole production process to create the report. We have a process for how we communicate status and updates to the founder that ordered the report. We have financial processes for how we close months at the end of the month in QuickBooks. What other processes do we have? It's a pretty small, simple business right now.
Vincent Hunt: Which is awesome.
Mike Kelly: Yeah, so-
Vincent Hunt: That's the best place to be in.
Mike Kelly: ... I might have just said, I'm sure there's a couple of others, but I might have just said all of the processes right there. We have very few processes-
Vincent Hunt: How many channels do you have?
Mike Kelly: ... which is great.
Vincent Hunt: Break down channels. Think about it from a channel perspective.
Mike Kelly: Channel meaning?
Vincent Hunt: Departments, a channel.
Mike Kelly: I mean, it's a two-person company.
Vincent Hunt: There you go, real simple.
Mike Kelly: It's really simple.
Vincent Hunt: Right now?
Mike Kelly: Correct.
Vincent Hunt: Right. When it's small like that, this is the best time to start building that ecosystem because it's small, so it doesn't a whole bunch of moving parts. You take those channels, you break it down, find out who are the owners of those channels and what are the processes within those channels, right?
Mike Kelly: When you say process, I'm visualizing a whole workflow, Visio diagram workflow kind of a thing. That's what you said, to find all of those for each channel?
Vincent Hunt: Absolutely.
Mike Kelly: Okay.
Vincent Hunt: And have an understanding and see them but, above and beyond that, let's go back to the human beings that have to execute this. Ask them, "How is this working out for you?" Because here's the thing. Whenever we're working with organizations and, again, I've been in this space for a long time so I've worked in different capacities where I'm seeing these problems, just there was never, ever one organization that would serve this subset of things, right? For instance, you go in and you say, "Okay, we have these very simple processes. It's a very small team and this is what we're going." I got that.
Vincent Hunt: But let's just say that Kevin is the person who's ending out the month every month, and Kevin begrudgingly comes into work at the end of the month every month, he's not telling you, he's just doing it. He's coming in, he's like, "Oh my God, there's this end of the month thing I got to do. It sucks." Now what our job is to do is find out how can we make it not suck for Kevin? Because if we make it not suck for Kevin, what happens is his performance increases, we start thinking about the true value of understanding your ecosystem was his retention, whether it be client or employees. Now you got no more retention problems, you've reduced that, and we've created a better environment, haven't we?
Vincent Hunt: It's looking at it from that perspective. Now, when it's small it's easier to go ahead and do that audit. I would do it now.
Mike Kelly: What is that? Yeah. Let's scale that up. Now let's say you have a 50 person company which has seven departments, every department has 30 processes. When you say lay out that ecosystem, this is three-ring binder kind of stuff, right? Nobody's going to do that.
Vincent Hunt: That's why Better exists. That's why we exist. At the heart of what we do is defining that ecosystem and making that ecosystem visual for the actual stakeholder. Because the opposite to that is what we're doing now.
Mike Kelly: How do you make that visual?
Vincent Hunt: Right. Whenever you go in and you're mapping that ecosystem, so each department, each channel, if you think about it from a customer journey standpoint, you know what that looks like?
Mike Kelly: Yeah, I know what those look like. Yeah.
Vincent Hunt: Okay. So if you take that and you take that per department-
Mike Kelly: To be clear, we do good work for our clients-
Vincent Hunt: Absolutely phenomenal.
Mike Kelly: ... we don't do good work for ourselves. That's every founder ever.
Vincent Hunt: Yeah, right. I call it the barber effect. Have you ever noticed the barber never has the fresh haircut?
Mike Kelly: Yeah.
Vincent Hunt: He or she never has time to do her own stuff. But, at the end of the day, even in that, when you think about opportunities, think about it from an opportunity standpoint. If you go into and you're doing your client's work but you understand the totality of their ecosystem, you're seeing all kind of broke stuff but they've got bandaids on. It's pumping, it's doing what it's doing, but you're like, "Did you know that you could actually do that better? Like this part. And Mary's level of happy will go from a six to a ten if you fix this one thing. So the probability of you retaining Mary would be higher, would you not agree?" They would say, "Yes." "Now you have more work to do because now you can fix that problem, and technology plays a big role in that."
Vincent Hunt: When you start talking about the digital transformation and all the other things that we talk about, when you understand the ecosystem you understand where technology can actually come in and actually prove valuable in organizations because now they can see it. Right now we haven't been able to see it and it's not because it doesn't exist, because we know it exists. Again, only 20% of the CX professionals out there right now are even doing the work of mapping. Only 20%. That leaves 80% out there just fixing problems on the spot, which is easy to do. That's easy work. It's easy to say, "Oh, you got X broken? Let's just fix X. Let's just do ..."
Vincent Hunt: And now we start talking about customer journeys and customer journey mapping, that's point A to point B. That's simple and let's just fix that. Versus when you think about it in the totality of the ecosystem and how all these parts work together because they're not disjointed. There's one thing that we say at Better and I don't think it would go remiss if I didn't say it, but it's this idea. We believe that an organization and its brand promises ultimately realized through the experiences that it delivers. That's the first part of the statement.
Vincent Hunt: The second part of the statement is, one broken or one disjointed experienced in that can actually break the brand promises, and we've actually seen it happen, right? We won't say it, but let's just say you're a famous sneaker maker. Everything on the front end looks great, but then you find out that part of the ecosystem, the labor part, is severely broken and it broke the promise. We can do better, right? That's the key. Understanding and looking at an organization at the totality.
Mike Kelly: Now they're never going to be a sponsor of the show. I hope you're happy.
Vincent Hunt: No. They don't know who they are.
Mike Kelly: Yeah.
Vincent Hunt: But you see where I'm coming from?
Mike Kelly: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Vincent Hunt: We experience it every day in small ways. We can go to the local grocery store and, because the local grocery store is looking at the customer experience from the managerial level, how are they responding, the person that's bagging the groceries is jacking the process up, breaking the promise, you see? So, being more mindful and being more holistic as it pertains to design approach I think is important. When you work with organizations and, for us, and it also gives us a leg up.
Vincent Hunt: For instance, partners. Let's just say Better partnered now with developer channel. You have Better developer channel. Better goes in and does the ecosystem. Who can he hand that off to? Now you see it. Now you can peruse that whole ecosystem and say, "Wow, wait a minute. Did you know that Chuck over here in his department's having a really, really bad day? Not only is it Chuck, but it's also Larry, Susan, Katie and Bob. All of them are having the same problem. How can we fix that?"
Mike Kelly: You're mapping out the ecosystem, so each of the department's processes within those departments. Then you're going through you interview all the key stakeholders and that-
Vincent Hunt: Yes, owners.
Mike Kelly: ... in that process, for each of those processes, right?
Vincent Hunt: Yup.
Mike Kelly: Talk to them about that, capture those findings visually? How do you capture those findings?
Vincent Hunt: Visually and, of course, in narrative format.
Mike Kelly: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Vincent Hunt: Yeah.
Mike Kelly: But you're layering that on top of the ecosystem, right, so you can see somehow the hotspots of where you need to focus first?
Vincent Hunt: Exactly. Exactly. Because then you do an analysis of it. You really start thinking about, "Okay, well how are these things affecting the business as a whole, and then you start to highlight and illuminate, like those super, super red hotpots."
Mike Kelly: I really have to really see it.
Vincent Hunt: Yeah, it's super dope. It's fun. I'm telling you, it's awesome. Think of it. For us, the revelation behind it all because, of course like you said, we're all pretty good at customer journeys. Those are point A to point B. When we started becoming more mindful of the ecosystem as a whole experience, and that's why Better is an experience design company because people say, "Well, Vince. Why don't you just a customer experience company?" Because it makes sense, right? Or UX, that makes sense. But when you think about experience as a whole, the more imperial bigger umbrella, right, it's all of the experiences, so it's not just the end user, the customer, the customer, the customer, the customer. The customer is super-important. We're living in a time of the CX, right?
Vincent Hunt: But the totality of all of that, all those experiences, need evaluation, they need considering. That's what we do. And it all goes through the same design process, right? Ultimately, at the end of the day, the outputs and the deliverables are a little bit different, but it all should go through the same design process. Design thinking, of course, is at the core of what we do, so all of things things working together creates just a more informed design decisions, which is one of our purposes.
Vincent Hunt: Because ultimately, if you really about it Mike, at the end of the day once you have the ecosystem in place, and the stakeholders now are aware of how their role actually affects chain of events, they start making more informed decisions. There's no longer isolated, "Okay, I'm over here just order processing. That's all I do." It's my ability to do this more efficiently and greater actually leads to higher chance of client retention, customer retention, more loyalty. Dang, never saw me as in that role, right?
Vincent Hunt: So you start illuminating some of these nuances that need to be illuminated, especially now when the competitive factor is, seriously. And you see it. You see it across organizations that have it. There's a software that we just started using here recently because, again, we're small enough to kind of move quickly. When you think about how we actually manage our proposal processes and all that kind of stuff, we use a platform and the concierge experience that we had with that, everything from the CEOs email all the way through us becoming members of that platform, all of that.
Vincent Hunt: You could tell that was super well thought out. I was like, "That's super, super-dope." Right? And because of that, the chances of my retention are higher. But you could feel the remnant of that throughout the totality of the process, not just that the software is elegant, awesome, easy to use, it was all the other stuff, the other touch points and how I got there. All of that made a difference to my affinity with that piece of software.
Mike Kelly: If somebody's listening to this an they want to start thinking about building a design ecosystem for their business, or even just to think differently about customer experience in their business, where would you tell them to start?
Vincent Hunt: One, I'd have them reach to Better. I think we can help you do it better, absolutely. Shameless plug. We can definitely help you do it better. But, at the exact same time, there is information out there, just start searching. Start searching. If you start searching customer experience ecosystem mapping, right? It's a long, pretty drawn-out process, it really, really is, and that's why of course I would recommend hiring and organization to come in. And another thing that you have to think about is what happens when you're actually living in a ecosystem. If you've been in a ecosystem for a long period of time, nine times out of ten you probably don't see all the pain points because we are adaptive creatures, and so having somebody from the outside coming in with fresh perspective and 100% candor, being able to tell the trust, is so, so important.
Vincent Hunt: One, do research. Go out there. If it's something, if you have a smaller team, exercise it. Do it. You can do it step-by-step. They'll show you how to do it. I would recommend doing that. If you have a bigger team and there's a lot more convolution going on, there's a lot of moving parts, have somebody come in and do that and, of course, I would recommend Better to come in and do that. But it's that. Do research. Do research on it, start to unfold it, and look at your organization in a more holistic kind of way.
Mike Kelly: You familiar with traction?
Vincent Hunt: No.
Mike Kelly: Also referred as entrepreneurship operating system EOS, EOS framework?
Vincent Hunt: No. Scoop me.
Mike Kelly: Well, it could be a long podcast then, but so there's a book. Do you know Wickman wrote a book called Traction years ago. It's basically a book for startup founders, company founders to give them a more simplified framework for how to run a business. It's kind of built on the whole theory of work on the business not in the business, right? So how do you find clear roles and accountabilities? How do you identify those critical processes that need to be run and then who's going to run them? What are the key metrics that you need to track on a weekly, monthly basis to make sure that you're driving the business results that you need to? How do you effectively communicate as a team? All that kind of stuff.
Mike Kelly: So he wrote this great book called Traction, it's kind of got a big following and from Traction, kind of the spin out of that was the entrepreneur operating system, EOS, the EOS framework. Now EOS is a whole thing. There's software packages around it, there's consultants, I mean you could spend as much money, just like anything, spend as much money as you want.
Vincent Hunt: Getting it, yeah.
Mike Kelly: Getting it, not that that stuff doesn't have value, but there's a lot out there. One of the things that is resonating with me as you're talking, so we use Traction in one of our companies and, for that team, we've defined some of the various roles that they have, we've identified who's playing the role on the team, we've mapped out a handful of our processes, certainly not all of them. We track on a weekly, monthly basis we have key metrics that track. We meet every week and do what they call and L10 meeting, Level 10 meeting, which the theory is the L10 meeting is the only meeting you should need each week as a team to communicate. You might still have working sessions, right, but meeting as just sharing just information. The L10 should the place that you do that, and collaborating on problem solving.
Mike Kelly: One of the things that's interesting about what you're saying relative to what some of the fundamental tenets of EOS, clearly defined roles, clearly defined processes, understand who's responsible for those, understanding the business impact of those, and then ideally, whenever those aren't, then in a perfect world the numbers should be telling you when one of those processes is broken, right?
Vincent Hunt: Yup.
Mike Kelly: And then diving in to understand why that is. It's just, for whatever it's worth, while you were talking originally about the design ecosystem, I was in my head visualizing some of the stuff that we've done in that business, particularly around EOS and Traction for that. It might be something for you to look at.
Vincent Hunt: Oh, absolutely.
Mike Kelly: And I know that you would find, and my suspicion is, I guess I should say I know this, my suspicion is you would find people in those companies that would be very friendly to your world view and how you talk about customer experience and the things that are involved in that. I mean, it's going to translate very well to people who have been thinking about that from day one and they're basically, "How do we define and manage these things?
Vincent Hunt: It's interesting and I love that you shared that because, at the end of the day, and I think we said this a little bit earlier, when you have a small company, start. It's just like a garden. Think about it like a garden, right? You got a little garden and the very first thing that you're growing is tomato, that's one channel. Now, all of a sudden, because it was pleasurable to grow your tomatoes, you say, "Okay, now I'm about to go grow some cantaloupe." Now you've got tomatoes and cantaloupe. "But that was really awesome, and I love the cantaloupe and I love the tomatoes, let's go add something else."
Vincent Hunt: Just like any other ecosystem, your business ecosystem grows the exact same way. The only challenge that we have today is some of these ecosystems are ginormous, so there's so much going on. And being able to go in and because you didn't really check the tomatoes and the cantaloupes, you didn't track that part, you didn't track any of it. It's just there and everything's just kind of firing on cylinders. But we're living in a time again, now, of customer experience, right? So the customer's feeling it, they're getting it, they're just not realizing is it the cantaloupe or is it tomatoes, what is it that's messed up in the ecosystem but it's still a little wonky?
Vincent Hunt: Again, one broken experience can actually break the brand promise as a whole, so with the smaller companies, absolutely start this exercise now. Start tracking and being very, very aware, and having owners of each one of those channels so that way each one can be efficient and be great, be better for the client because, at the end of the day, that's what matters. Does that make sense? I'm glad you shared that. Most definitely I'm going into dig into that and dine on that because I think there's a lot of insight to be had there.
Vincent Hunt: But I think we're starting to realize that the more that we traverse into the creative economy as a whole, which is a macro-conversation for me, there's no more factories. And because there are no more factories, in other words we can just keep stamping and doing things, business as usual, right? Business is never usual now. That thing changes so fast because clients now, or potential customers, come at us from so many different touchpoints. Before it was only the touchpoints that we would give them. Now it's every touchpoint that they can find, so it's completely different now.
Vincent Hunt: In that, if we're not aware of the totality of customer experience ecosystem looks like, then how do we know how to optimize, or how do we know where to super-delight a potential client? So it's a clutch, so key.
Mike Kelly: All right. I'm writing down, I'm not even paying attention to you, I'm writing down personal notes based on the conversation. You've given me a lot of-
Vincent Hunt: Awesome.
Mike Kelly: Yeah, yeah, this is good.
Vincent Hunt: Good, good.
Mike Kelly: I just gave myself a couple of to-dos.
Vincent Hunt: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
Mike Kelly: It's good. Let's end on a lighter note. Give me some awesome war stories of going in and you start doing the research and interviewing people, and just maybe hit me with one or two awesome things you've discovered where it's like, "Wait, what? Like you guys are doing what?" And maybe that became a shocker to the leadership team as well.
Vincent Hunt: Yeah, absolutely. One that sort of sticks with me and resonates with me, now this didn't even happen ... Because Better's only been around for 90 days, right? Better's a baby. The whole idea of Better is a baby. We have traction because I've been in the marketplace for over 23 years, so me it's just a continuation of the work, just under a brand name, Better.
Vincent Hunt: But there was one experience that happened. This was probably about eight years ago. There was a particular NFL team, they were doing work with this NFL team-
Mike Kelly: Oh yeah, this is going to be good.
Vincent Hunt: This is going to be fun. So the NFL team what they wanted to do is they wanted to reach a greater ... For instance, where they were located, because I can't because it would put them on blast, they wanted more Latino, more Latin engagement with their brand of the team. So the Chief Marketing Officer calls us in and says, "We need you to really come in and find out what the problem is because we're not reaching the demographic that we really, really want to reach with our brand." We're like, "Okay, that's cool enough."
Vincent Hunt: Just even back then, using the normal tenet of ideation of design thinking, going in and really looking at the organization and I'm an observer, right? So leading this whole facilitated effort with there the facilities are rock star fresh, everything is great, I'm going in, but when I started going through the Operations Department the people were making phone calls and doing the work each day, reaching out to potential season pass holders and all this stuff. I saw every jersey pretty much under the NFL banner, I mean, I'm talking about Steelers, Cowboys, everything, all up under there, and I'm like, "Wow. Isn't this one team?" But there's so many teams in here, right?
Vincent Hunt: Taking a mental note of that, when I'm doing the ideation I'm going through the ideation, we're talking about all the stuff, we're talking about all the obvious things, like, "What are we doing in the stadium? What are we doing as pertains to our normal advertising, and commercials and all the stuff outfacing, outfacing, outfacing.
Vincent Hunt: We get to the end, or coming to the end, and I said, "But what about all the disjointed brand communications going on the inside?" He's like, "What do you mean?" I was like, "I saw every jersey under the sun out there. Like I'm the Dallas Cowboy fan calling saying, 'We would love for you to be season pass holders,' yeah. Right? Where's the sense of belief or conviction in that brand?" Long story short, we illuminated that a lot of the work that needed to be done, again, this is this whole methodology or this ideology I have called beyond pretty things. Above and beyond the stuff that the public sees, what kind of design is really going on within the culture, within inside the organization?
Vincent Hunt: When the Chief Marketing Officer saw that, the company that was actually contracting us as consultants to come in and help them, it wasn't only just a communications project that they got, but they got a legacy project that actually helped them actually straighten up the whole interior of the organization as a whole. And then, back to business, right?
Vincent Hunt: What they found is when they actually built more brand loyalty on the inside of the organization, it translated well to the outside. There were just natural organic conversations that started to happened that then, in turn, started to turn more enthusiasm and more excitement toward the actual team. It was pretty phenomenal.
Mike Kelly: It's interesting. There's another book reference I'll drop. Have you read American Icon?
Vincent Hunt: Yes.
Mike Kelly: Oh, so you know this. When Mulally got to Ford he was literally walking through the parking lot, sees that not a single executive is driving a Ford vehicle. They're all driving ... I mean, they were technically Ford vehicles because they were owned by Ford, but they're driving Jaguars and Land Rovers, right? And he's like, "Yeah, of course our cars suck. We can't even drive them." And then leveraged that as, "First rule of business, you're all driving Fords."
Mike Kelly: And also, the other thing that stuck out with me, is he then went to the fleet manager at Ford and said, "Hey, I want to drive Toyota home tonight because I want the experience of what it's like to drive a Toyota," and the fleet manager's like, "We don't have Toyotas." Right? And he's like, "Oh no, you're going to go out and buy one of everybody's competitor's cars and have them in our fleet, and then the entire executive team is going to take turns driving these vehicles because we need to know how good the competition's experience is. We need to know what it's like to drive these cars."
Mike Kelly: He just went to this first principle, which the jerseys reminded of this, of like, "Hey, if we don't believe it, nobody's going to believe it and we need to understand our own vehicles as well as the competition's and what everybody else is doing." It's a great book. I know you've read it, but if you're listening and you haven't read American Icon, it's-
Vincent Hunt: Definitely game-changing.
Mike Kelly: ... fantastic. Yeah.
Vincent Hunt: Absolutely. Because again, the revelation that we have. We have a very small team and some of the things that we have conversations about are those epiphany aha moments. So if we believe, because of course we're getting down to why does Better even exist? Why did we even create Better? And it's because we all share that one unified belief that an organization and a brand promise is ultimately realized through the experiences that it delivers. We just believe that, fanatically.
Vincent Hunt: But, at the exact same time, if those experiences are broken, or if they're disjointed, or they're dishonest, they're not real, they're fabricated, right? We can build through that stuff now which then, in turn, breaks the ultimate brand promise which people can feel. To keep organizations from breaking their promises I just think we should design better, and so that's why we're in the game doing what we're doing. All of this leads back to that.
Vincent Hunt: That was one instance where it was an eye-opener for me and I said, "Well, I wonder how many other organizations are like that?" And this was some time back. The evolution of where I am today as a professional and the birth of Better didn't just happen overnight, right? And so, that is why I think it's so imperative that Better does the work that it's doing to make companies more holistic, and give them a better view, more clarity as pertains to the bigger situation that's going on around them.
Mike Kelly: If someone wants to get ahold of you or your team, how do they do that?
Vincent Hunt: Just reach out. Vincent@WeAreBetter.design is the best way to reach, or info@WeAreBetter.design is the best way to reach us. They can call me personally, for real, 850-524-7271. Just call me on the phone, like, "Vince, I'm just looking for Better, seriously."
Mike Kelly: Brave man.
Vincent Hunt: No. Because I mean, at the end of the day, our brand promise is just that. We're human beings and being able to be touched and to do work. Now, you might go to voicemail, I'm just playing, but you will go to ... But, for real, call me, Vince. We're in pursuit of better and we're wanting to partner who are in that pursuit, that are fanatical about the customer experience. Those are the people that we want to do work with.
Vincent Hunt: If you love your customers, you know what I'm saying, and you want to provide the absolute best experience, above and beyond that you love your company and the people that work in it. That's what we want to do. Empower your teams, strengthen those strategic partnerships and, at the end of the day, super-delight the customer. So reach out to me, straight up. Say, "Vince, I just want Better," and we're going to get it done.
Mike Kelly: Awesome, man. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Vincent Hunt: Well, thank you, Mike, this is awesome. Appreciate you.