Do This for Better Presentations

Upon concluding the latest in a series of European speaking engagements, Mike has assembled a list of best practices for getting your presentation right for your audience and your sponsor.

We kick-off part one with tips on connecting with your sponsor to know your sponsor’s goals and ways to connect to your audience. Part two will cover tips on finetuning your presentation, and part three will cover how to end with the best next steps.

Connecting With Your Sponsor

Prior to presentation day, it is essential to get to know your sponsor and their desired outcomes from the event. Spend time talking with the sponsor or event planner asking questions so that your presentation can be spot-on and help both of you achieve your desired results. Nail the sponsor’s goals and you help make the event planner look good as well. There are no rewinds or do-overs with a live audience, so anything you can do beforehand to perfect your presentation will serve you well.

Connecting With Your Audience

As a  presenter, your ability to create an experience for the audience will help to achieve your sponsor’s goals. A big part of creating that experience for your audience comes in part, from connecting with them. So, familiarize yourself with the audience on a personal level. Speak with people in advance – whether that’s days or hours – of giving your presentation so that you truly feel their vibe and understand the latest of their concerns and interests. You will gain further insight on how you fit into their picture and can tweak your presentation so that you are more relatable to this specific group. And by understanding what they are seeking, you can more accurately address their needs and provide valuable solutions.

Another way to present with a more personal touch is to get to know the city where you are presenting. Read up on current events or issues, and include mention of these, if appropriate, in your presentation. What are people in this town proud of? Just a small observation or comment can go a long way in making a connection with your audience. This shows that you took the time to understand their reality and sends a personal message of caring.

 Successful presentations accomplish the goals of the sponsor and connect with the audience on a personal level. Familiarizing yourself with your sponsor and audience offers you the best chance at providing the desired outcomes for both. Once you’ve done that, you are ready to complete final revisions on your presentation.

Up next!  Finetuning Your Presentation

See how Customer Experience helps Show Organizers and Event Planners

Three Common Mistakes Businesses Make With Customer Experience

Customer Experience Design is a way to successfully differentiate brands and build loyalty that results in boosting top line and bottom line performance. But, there are some common traps in Customer Experience Design where businesses get caught that can actually work in opposition to the goal.

Mistake Number One – Implementing Customer Experience Design with the customer first.

Businesses start making promises, tweeting and launching apps before their employees have the opportunity to get comfortable with a new offering. Buy-in from your employees will exponentially increase your efforts at better Customer Experience.

Start by working through your employees first when implementing an experience because it is theirs to deliver. It is people working with people. Engaged employees that are empowered and believe in the values of the business are likely to serve customers with a bit more passion. Customers feel that extra effort and it gives the Customer Experience greater impact.

Mistake Number Two – Believing that the customer knows what they want.

This is not about ignoring your customers desires. Instead, it is about exceeding their expectations, and anticipation is the key. Uncover and then focus on needs that the customer is not aware of…yet. The delight of getting something that you did not know you wanted is memorable and likely to become a story told to others.

The way to knowing those needs is by knowing your customer in a way that goes beyond market research. The problem with market research is that people don’t always tell the truth. It’s not to be tricky, but because they don’t know what they really want or what is possible. Businesses that see the bigger picture of their customer (Sony’s introduction of the Walkman as example) can anticipate what their customers want. Those businesses come across as responsive by anticipating the desire of their customers.

Anticipation is a key to Customer Experience Design that elevates an experience from good to delightful and worthy of repeating.

Mistake Number Three – Businesses let their internal processes dictate their customer’s experience.

This is probably the most common mistake of all. The really hard work of Customer Experience Design is the back-of-house, operations work that must be adjusted in order to deliver the experience. Once you have uncovered what the experience is that the customer wants (and maybe somethings they don’t yet know they want), you then tackle the operational components that make the experience possible.

There are really two halves to Customer Experience Design. Half of the work is coming up with the great new ideas and designing them to delight your customers. The other half is aligning your processes in a way that allows the experience to unfold. These two pieces of the puzzle should fit together seamlessly. To get this right, design from the outside in and don’t stop at your front-line. Let the design continue to work into the heart of the business.


How do you avoid getting caught in these three common mistakes?

  • Ensure that your employees are engaged in the delivery of the Customer Experience.
  • Know your customer better. Maybe give them what they didn’t even know they wanted.
  • Avoid letting your internal processes dictate your customer experience.


Read more about Anticipation

Read more about Employee Engagement

4 Things Customer Experience Should Be For Retail

We hear the term Customer Experience used in many ways these days and there are varying opinions on the definition. In fact, Customer Experience does mean different things depending on whether you are the customer or the retailer delivering the experience.

For the customer, their experience is only about what actually happens to them and how it makes them feel. They are unaware of what the retailer or business owner is trying to accomplish or the steps they have taken to get there. The customer is only aware of the feeling. Did they get what they wanted? Did it feel valuable or pleasant enough to come back? The feeling they get will largely determine whether they will engage again.

Customer Experience Is Entirely Different for the Retailer

From the perspective of someone working on their retail business, Customer Experience is not a feeling but really should be a perspective. It is a perspective that makes you think about the impact of your decisions on your customers. That perspective should be focusing on eliminating the things you do to your customers and replacing it with doing things for them. And in a measure that does not leave the customer weighing the two against each other to decide whether to return.

Also from the business owner or retail managers perspective, Customer Experience should also be thought of as a business outcome. After all, retailers are responsible for more than displaying merchandise and promoting it. They are responsible for the delivery of the actual experience. The Customer Experience is the retailer’s primary business outcome.

Customer Experience is also strategy. It can define operations, set the direction for your brand and become your competitive differentiator.

Customer Experience is your story. Memorable experiences are often re-told. When the experience is great, that story becomes word-of-mouth advertising. The experience is the part that you can control. It is the part that benefits your customers and your bottom line.

What Customer Experience Is Not

Customer Experience should not be confused with Customer Service. Usually Customer Service is the place you visit when, as a customer, your experience has gone wrong. Lining up your strategy and business outcome on the Customer Experience can reduce the need for resources in Customer Service though, and that’s a good thing.

Customer Experience is more than a buzz word, and these four “definitions” of Customer Experience are good places to start change within retail operations. To get it right,  your Customer Experience should be a way of thinking that drives the entire organization. Because no matter what you do, your brand can’t be any better than what your customers experience.

More about Customer Service in Retail

More about Customer Experience in Retail


Three Myths About Customer Experience Exposed

Customer Engagement Magazine publisher Ray Stendall, interviewed Mike Wittenstein for their debut issue in February. Current ideas surrounding Customer Experience were explored and discussed, including some popular myths floating around today that businesses are following in an effort to improve the experience for their customers and gain brand loyalty.

Mike tackled three popular myths from a leadership or manager’s perspective and from a front-line perspective.

Myth number one: Focusing on the numbers is the best way to better Customer Experiences.

Numbers are important in understanding behavior of your customers, especially when you are talking about thousands or hundreds of thousands of customers. But the numbers alone don’t make your experience better. For instance, a restaurant that has a 99% score for cleanliness may not perform well in areas of service or atmosphere or physical design. The customer experience is holistic, a combined feeling of everything all together. The customer cares about how the business makes them feel, the value that they received from engaging with the business.

Myth number two: If you build the “perfect” customer you can design the perfect experience.

Businesses trying to coordinate the Customer Experience across many silos often think that building the perfect customer and lining up the efforts of each silo to that “perfect customer” will work. The problem with this scenario is that people are complex. With any luck, you may get it right for one out of several thousand people because each customer comes with their own expectations and past experiences.

The best solution here is getting the right design. The right design takes into account the needs of the individual customer and the employees. The design also needs to account for back-of-house efforts that will enable your employees to deliver a great experience. Great design (and a few other variables like hiring the right people and providing good training) will give your employees more decision making authority and flexibility which allows them to serve your customers better.

Myth number three: Creating and marking off a checklist of to-do’s is the way to great customer experiences.

Customer Experience is a way of working, a perspective and an ongoing process. It is not something that you can do to your business, employees or customers and then let it roll. The businesses that make continuous little improvements see the most dramatic results.

All three myths may have a bit of truth in them. Numbers, personas and checklists play a part in being able to deliver great Customer Experiences but without the right Customer Experience Design element they fall far short of excellence. Excellence is when your customers are delighted, your employees are engaged, and your shareholders benefit.

You can subscribe to Customer Engagement Magazine on iTunes and use the code mikewittenstein to access three months for free.

Want more? Check out these Five Predictions for Customer Experience for 2014


Part Two: Space Planning Gets A Boost From Experience Design

Retailers looking for ways to increase productivity and incorporate new technology are using Space Planning professionals more than ever before. Experience Designers can help Space Planners up the value of productivity and new technology with better experiences for their retail client’s customers.

Experience Design Facilitates Collaboration

Space Planners typically work in close collaboration with other professionals as members of a team. These include architects, retail facility planners, furniture and fixtures specialists and technology experts and communications consultants. By including an Experience Design (XD) professional into this mix, you harness the collaborative nature of XD that gets everyone on the same page. Collaboration enhances the expertise that each discipline brings to the project.

Better Customer Experiences Build Brand Loyalty

Space Planners collaborating with Experience Designers are working toward a desired outcome that will benefit the client and the client’s customers and employees. Experience Designers uniquely envision the project from the viewpoint of all stakeholders, giving Space Planners a complete picture of the goal for the space. Ultimately, your client’s customers should be unaware of how a space works but sense how well it works. Customers enjoy a better experience and brand loyalty gets a foothold.

Brands maintain that foothold with a space that works for now and into the future. Experience designers provide ideas and techniques that encourage planning for updates and refeshes while still on the current version of the design. Customer expectations evolve along with technology, and the spaces experienced by customers need to evolve with them. The excitement of the shopping experience for the customer is extended and renewed with spaces that meet those changing expectations. Translate the excitement that a shopper feels with contemporary, up-to-date environments that are adaptive to changing expectations by building flexibility into the space from the beginning.

Experience Designers can elevate your next project by getting the various disciplines involved on the same page and helping to create spaces that will be flexible. Collaboration, value for all stakeholders and a vision for what’s to come are trademarks of great Experience Design. Find out how XD can work for your next retail project.

More on how Space Planners and Architects can benefit from Experience Design

Architectural Profession Benefits from XD: Part One

Architectural Profession Benefits from XD: Part Two

Architectural Profession Benefits from XD: Part Three

Space Planning Get a Boost From Experience Design