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How to scale customer experience – an interview with WeWork’s Head of Experience Strategy

Companies can use data to guide their plans to scale their experience

As your business grows, you trade one set of challenges for another. Instead of providing a highly curated experience to a select group, you’ll focus on scaling your efforts across new markets and audiences. But it’s hard to anticipate how your new customers will engage with your product.

That’s where Ange Temple comes in, WeWork’s Senior Director and Head of Experience Strategy.

With a solid background in science and liberal arts—she has studied data science and has a masters degree in communications management from Australia’s University of Technology Sydney—Temple believes the secret to a good customer experience at scale can be found in the data that companies collect about their customers.

“The foundation should always be in your customers’ data,” said Temple, who cited companies like Netflix and Nike as leaders in the customer experience field. “You have to understand what you have, what your gaps are, what your technology is, and how you’re going to pour that into different channels.”

Using data to scale your customer experience

But for companies of every size—even those who are nailing the experience for their customers—one area still presents a challenge: How do you scale it?

She emphasized that while scaling an identical experience is nearly impossible, that’s actually not what most companies should aim for. “You have to find the things that are core to your brand and your business,” Temple said. “You say, ‘This is very important to us. We have to do this thing this way’, but everything else is where you add in the cultural nuances.”

That layer of cultural flavor and nuance is what makes a largely consistent customer experience relevant and appropriate for each company location. It’s slightly varied by deliberate design. The rest of the experience is consistent thanks to data and automation can help communicate consistently with customers around the world across multiple touchpoints.

Temple called herself “a massive proponent of automation” and advises that once a company determines its key experience, it should automate it as much as possible, but you have to leave room to customize.

A WeWork example: 12 country Growth Initiative

An example at WeWork was the Growth Initiative rolled out in 12 countries. Temple said, “We scaled ‘Growth’ experiences while leaving room to customize region-by-region based on cultural nuances, for example emphasizing workplace reformation in Japan.”

The project took a data layer or data-first approach, built on hypotheses collected through customer research on the ideal state customer experience we want to design, then delivered market-by-market and iterated based on local nuances.

At the end of the day each location in a global company is going to deliver its own flavor of customer experience, but it should still be essentially consistent with the brand’s global tenets. “That’s something we’ve done well at WeWork,” Temple said. “It’s evident with the welcome of the community team, the look and feel from our design team, and even the amenities like coffee that our CSA team delivers. As we traveled to locations across the world for the Growth Initiative, we always felt at home when we walked into the office…that was incredibly powerful and memorable.”

Businesses will know that they’ve hit that sweet spot between automation and personalization when a customer’s experience has just enough information behind it so that it feels curated.

A partner example: Bluestone Lane

As an example at one of our partner companies, Temple pointed to Bluestone Lane, the Melbourne-inspired coffee shop with 50 locations in the United States. In Episode 1 of the new Up at Night podcast, Nick Stone, the founder of Bluestone Lane, discussed his concerns about how to ensure every location provides customers a personalized feeling.

“Going into a coffee shop and someone knowing your name and your order: That can be curated through digital means or it could be the physical rapport with that person,” she said. “It’s a matter of feeling like there’s a connection there and feeling like the brand understands your needs—sometimes even before you even have the needs.”

Use your intuition

There’s a final ingredient that companies often overlook when scaling up culture and delivering amazing customer experiences. Even with all the data available to a business, intuition still plays a big role.

It’s a big reason why Temple doesn’t worry about technology replacing people at a grand scale. A customer is more than a data point, she said, and the differences between people from country to country—or even from city to city within the same country—are tremendous. Cultural differences among customers mean that your business in San Francisco will be different than your business in Austin.

“There’s no set formula because everyone needs to be treated differently,” Temple said. “The way that technology is today, we can deliver highly personalized experiences at scale, but we always need to have a level of human intuition.”

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