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Introducing Customer Transformation | Chris Hood


David McBee: Hello and welcome to TV. I'm David McBee. Our guest today is Chris Hood, founder of CH Digital. Chris is a digital strategy expert and author of the book Customer Transformation. He boasts 35 plus years in online entertainment, marketing and business development, and he hosts the Chris Hood Digital Show where he guides organizations on innovation and customer-centric leadership. Former roles include heading Google's digital business strategy, crafting transformation programs for Fortune 500 companies, and developing storytelling technologies at Fox Broadcasting and Disney. As a co-founder of Blind Squirrel Games, his influence stretches across multiple industries. Chris also teaches at Southern New Hampshire University. Chris, welcome to TV. Chris Hood: Thank you. Appreciate it. Looking forward to the conversation today. David McBee: That's quite the pedigree you have there. Chris Hood: Every time somebody reads my bio, I say, "Well, who are they talking about?" So sometimes I just have to step back and think, yeah, I did a lot of things over my career. So I've just been fortunate to be a part of a lot of really exciting things and be able to then bring that knowledge to people. David McBee: And you're doing that today on our podcast, so thank you. Let's talk about your book. It's called Customer Transformation, right? Chris Hood: Yes. David McBee: So what exactly is customer transformation? Chris Hood: So customer transformation is basically a business strategy that looks at an organization's culture, people, technology, processes to really align with their consumers and then drive business value from that. And so if we compare this against digital transformation, digital transformation is this concept of let's change all of our technologies to be more relevant. Well, I wanted to remove the focus on the technology itself, the digital aspect of that, and focus more on the customer because ultimately the customer is the individual that we need to align with in order to be successful in our businesses. David McBee: Let's say I'm a digital marketing agency and I'm sitting down to talk with my client about customer transformation. Where do we even start? Chris Hood: Well, the starting point is to understand who your customer is. I think a lot of people will say, "Well, duh, of course I need to know who my customer is." It's amazing how many organizations don't know that though, but this is really about something a bit more than knowing a demographic. This is about understanding the goals of your customer. And too often we think about what our business goals are, and we don't really focus on our consumer's goals. Now, we all know that the foundation of a strong business is to solve a problem. That's why we're in business. We solve problems. That's what our products are for. And marketing is all about acknowledging what that problem is and then building language to appeal to the consumer to demonstrate that we have a product that solves that problem. But this is just a little bit more deeper. There's an empathy behind this. It's the cliche of being in somebody's else's shoes. We actually have to understand what the ongoing continual goals, aspirations are, and then be able to develop messaging specifically around that to get them into the overall process. David McBee: Can you share a hypothetical example? Chris Hood: Yeah. I use a lot of fast food references in these because I think there's pretty simple. Even, for example, Starbucks, which I think we all partake in at some point in time, what do we think the goal of Starbucks is? Well, we could argue it's to sell more coffee drinks, right? I want a cappuccino, I'm thirsty. The problem for the consumer from that perspective is, "Yeah, I need a boost. I need energy. I'm thirsty." Those goals are often not what we're thinking about. We're thinking about the experience, the journey. Well, okay, yeah, they're thirsty, but now how are they going to buy it? Well, we can pull up our mobile phone. We can tap in the app. We can use our loyalty points. We can get recommendations. All of those marketing things are typically very simple in nature, but the starting point for the whole journey is understanding that the consumer wants to partake in a beverage. And that simplicity of thinking customer first, what their goal is, again, is the foundation for what I outline inside of Customer Transformation. David McBee: So are you saying that Starbucks main focus should be quenching thirst? Chris Hood: Well, that's what they do. If we think about Starbucks as an entity, what are the primary things we think about? Well, I'm going to go get a drink. In some cases, maybe some food, or the social experience of enjoying that drink with friends, going and meeting somebody. First dates are part of the Starbucks experience, and yet when they're there to partake in that activity, they're still there to enjoy a beverage. That's the root element that you have to remember. If you go to Starbucks and they're like, "Oh, sorry, we're out of coffee today," they don't have a business for the day because that's their main product. All of the other things that they have available, whether it's the music or the atmosphere or the community or the USB plugs, that's just to get you there and to enjoy the environment to going back to the original concept, enjoy a drink. David McBee: I'm tracking with you. All right, so I've convinced my client to focus on that core solution. What's the next stage in the process? Chris Hood: The second stage of customer transformation is interface. This is all about how we actually engage with the businesses that we want to visit. So if we continue with our Starbucks theme, we mention maybe it's a mobile app, but maybe there's other ways that we actually engage with Starbucks. And the process of traveling and getting to the Starbucks and how we, again, either make our orders or look through the menu or actually partake in that connection between awareness and then experience, there's a process in there of understanding how they're going to engage. That's that interface piece of it. So from even an advertising perspective, an advertising system is just simply awareness. There's then a call to action. That call to action is basically your interface, and there's any number of ways that we think about those today. It's no longer... Often we might call them a touchpoint, a touchpoint along the marketing trail, but we're not touching things anymore. Yeah, we have our mobile devices, but we may also have voice activation with our smart home, our smart devices. We have now visual elements, virtual reality. We've even got systems that are out there, like taste, to be able to taste things. I know we're not there yet, but imagine an advertisement where you could actually lick the screen and taste the Starbucks before going. Those are the interfaces that we are starting to think about. And advertisers have to figure out what that call to action is. And again, it may not simply be click on this ad for a coupon or click on this ad to learn more. It may be click on this to unlock some type of new experience that is going to further engage them to reach that experience or that journey in the marketing cycle. David McBee: Good stuff. Thank you, Chris. Any final thoughts before we wrap things up? Chris Hood: No. I mean, obviously I will promote my book really quickly. If you're interested in learning more about Customer Transformation, you can find that on my website,, and you can also reach out to me through all my social platforms there. David McBee: Chris, you read my mind. I was just about to ask you about your book and how people can reach you. Chris, besides your own book, is there a book that you feel has been instrumental in your success? Chris Hood: Well, crazy as it sounds, a lot of my favorite authors are all the classics, so going all the way back to Mary Shelley's, Frankenstein, and some of the classic sci-fi. All of those classics, I just love reading through. And this goes... One more thing into just marketing, you can find inspiration anywhere. Do not just focus on your own industry to look for that inspiration. Go pick up a monster book. Hey, it's almost Halloween here. How can we drive advertisements to Starbucks leveraging monsters? It's there somewhere, believe me. David McBee: That's fantastic. I actually did a podcast once on all the valuable lessons that I learned from Toy Story, so I'm totally on board with that. Chris Hood: I love it. Yes. David McBee: Well, thank you so much for being my guest on TV today, Chris. Chris Hood: Appreciate it. David McBee: And thank you guys for watching. TV is sponsored by, helping you to maximize relevance and multiply results with our industry leading media buying and workflow solutions. For more information, visit Thanks for joining us today, I'm David McBee. Be awesome, and we'll see you next time.

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