Digital Customer Experience: Ama's Rx For Growth

Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer & Senior Vice President, Physician Engagement, American Medical Association
Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer & Senior Vice President, Physician Engagement, American Medical Association

Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer & Senior Vice President, Physician Engagement, American Medical Association

The first thing I did after being named Chief Experience Officer of the American Medical Association was to try to find a great definition of ‘Customer Experience’ that made sense in a mission-based and membership organization.

It proved to be more challenging than I thought.

A lot of what you read about CX is rooted specifically in design, customer service or live interactions. And while those are all key elements of customer experience, they don’t provide a great road map for an organization like ours. We had to build our own.

The challenge and opportunity at AMA became quickly clear: very low awareness of the terrific work the organization was achieving on behalf of physicians and patients. With our live events geared to a limited number of people, it was clear that we needed to use digital platforms to build and scale our member experience. That meant creating ONE organization and infrastructure with the

--Consumer marketing orientation of Procter and Gamble
--Digital publishing expertise of New York Times or Washington Post
--e-commerce, analytics and data platform of Amazon

  Don’t undertake a “transformation” effort with digital blinders. Instead, start with a deep understanding of your audience and how they were interacting with you 

Over the past 2 years, we have executed a customer experience re-boot to increase the awareness and impact of our mission efforts and drive deeper engagement with our audience, and the results have been phenomenal: we doubled our member growth rate, drove our digital audience up 50 percent, engaged and inspired our members, and changed minds. Here are three key lessons from our efforts so far:

Start with the Target. Don’t undertake a “transformation” effort with digital blinders. Instead, start with a deep understanding of your audience and how they were interacting with you. We ditched an old, demographic segmentation for a far more predictive built around our audience’s content interests, and it’s driven everything: product, content, and marketing. This new segmentation unified our vision for digital publishing and our technology infrastructure, allowing us to continually improve our segmentation, identify deeper audience interests, and personalize our content offering and marketing communications. Not surprisingly, it is having an amazing impact on open rates, conversion, and content engagement.

Walk in the Customer’s Shoes: Every Step. Before we focused on “top of the funnel” marketing, we had to upgrade every step in our digital marketing funnel, emulating best practices from digital marketers across all industries. This meant communicating more crisply in highly optimized landing pages, re-building and optimizing our sign-up, log-in and account management flows, integrating effective calls to action and thoroughly testing different digital marketing approaches. There was a lot of low-hanging fruit here that delivered big results, but continuous, step-by-step optimization of the funnel has continued to improve our results.

Our CIO, Leslie Weber, has been an essential partner in moving this forward fast. Because she came from an e-commerce background, she innately understood the value of building a world-class subscription engine and unifying this with our data and marketing platforms. She’s identified e-commerce experience as an important (and unusual) skill set for an organization like ours.

Market the Experience. Instead of expecting our audience to interact passively with our initiatives we have taken the experience to them. Content has been our most effective engagement and marketing tool, but we went beyond that to develop fully integrated lead generation platforms that identify audience segments across many channels and connect them with the AMA. Reaching physicians through social channels has been particularly effective in telling our story.

A key part of this effort has been quantifying the value and impact of both AMA’s initiatives and our members. Our Membership Moves Medicine™ campaign, launched a year ago, combines harder-hitting “proof point” campaign with an inspiring look at how are members themselves are moving medicine. The campaign, fielded across multiple channels, has been a big hit and showed there is no more compelling way to tell our story than through the voices of our own members.

Let Data Drive Culture. Better data not only drives customer experience, but also provides a growth engine for culture change. Testing provides a constant drumbeat of improvements and success, which motivates the team and spurs further innovation. Quantifying and showcasing wins demonstrates how to iterate quickly without “betting the farm,” and the move toward data-driven decisions and away from “opinion battles,” while occasionally humbling, is incredibly liberating for an organization.

In this era, and especially for the AMA, customer experience is the ultimate blending of marketing, technology, product, content and commerce. But how you deliver should be transparent to the customer, best summarized in one simple “definition” of CX that particularly resonates with me:

“CX is a company’s delivery of its brand promise.”

--Jeanne Bliss, Co-founder CXPA and President, Customerbliss.com

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