Customer Experiece
Customer Experience

Ulta's Melissa Berscheid on Mapping Out Your CX Strategy to Elevate Impact

Liz Dominguez
Managing Editor
Liz Dominguez

What makes for a great consumer experience? For one thing, it’s not an accident. 

“Great consumer experience is intentional, deliberate,” Chris Padgett, managing partner for consulting firm Working Strategy, shared at RIS and CGT’s most recent League of Leaders meeting, a gathering of retail and consumer goods executives who convene quarterly to collaborate cross-functionally.

He was joined by several industry members, including Melissa Berscheid, senior director of member marketing and technology at Ulta Beauty, to reflect on CX mapping and share where they are within their own organizations. 

For companies that want to differentiate themselves from the competition, “it’s important to understand and recognize that it’s not just a B-to-C thing or a marketing thing,” noted Padgett. “It’s how your company shows up and interacts with anyone that interacts with your company.”

Immerse Yourself In the Conversation

Dive deeper into CX and other timely topics by tuning in to the podcast Change Cultivators, hosted by Patrick Fitzmaurice, with this special episode recorded onsite at our latest League of Leaders meeting. Explore unconventional perspectives, invaluable change leadership examples and personal experiences, and golden nuggets of change activation. Featuring guests such as Albert Guffanti, VP, Retail Technology Group - Retail Leader, RIS, CGT, EnsembleIQ; Judy Moon, VP, global head of revenue, Digimarc; Derek Gaskins, chief marketing officer, Yesway; and Justin Honaman, head, worldwide retail and consumer goods go-to-market, AWS. 

Mapping Out a Successful Customer Experience Strategy

First, why focus on CX? According to a BCG study, companies that score high in customer satisfaction have a dramatic growth differential in shareholder value — it’s almost double when looking at growth over the span of 10 years, said Padgett. 

To have great CX, it’s all about having a strategy. Here are some core elements of a basic CX plan, recommended by Padgett. 

  • Consumer Understanding: Turning data into insights. Understand what’s important to them. 
  • Journey Mapping and Orchestration: Focusing on the consumer lifestyle, identifying critical journeys. 
  • Activity Measurement and Analysis: Quantifying current efforts within existing journeys. Are consumers using the search bar, reading reviews, etc.? Optimize based on choices.
  • Outcomes/Opportunity Analysis: Putting dollars to what’s happening in a CX plan. Is the company generating more revenue? Are they sustaining shares within their category?

Companies can use this model to gauge where they stand, said Padgett. “Ask yourself, how much automation and orchestration do you have? Understand where the friction is to fix it.”

[See CX Strategies in Action: Early and Often: How Loverboy Is Customizing CX]

View From the Front Lines

Ulta’s Berscheid said that the biggest challenge for her organization is a lack of automation — a lot of things are being done manually. 

But it’s okay to start small, she said. “Even if you have just five journeys that you can build out really robustly and they cover a lot of your customers. Don’t overcomplicate it.”  

There are, however, two missing key elements, according to Jeremy Anderson, founder of Fifty Gazelles: culture and leadership. 

“We have visceral reactions from these companies, and as leaders how do we help our teams engage with real people?” asked Anderson. 

According to Padgett, these are the key factors to CX success:

  • Commitment to better consumer experiences
  • Grounded in deeper consumer understanding
  • Powered by robust consumer and performance data

Anderson emphasized that companies really need to be shining a spotlight on great CX experiences — particularly as it relates to new product innovation — while leadership talks about how to make this profitable, how to make sure that it’s regulatory compliant, etc. 

If given a magic wand for exceptional CX experiences, Berscheid said she’d want to easily be able to identify an area of opportunity and immediately apply an action. 

“Just prioritize and get it done. Sometimes that becomes a stumbling block across different functional areas and achieving what we need to do,” she said.