if you don’t listen to the customer from the beginning, a disconnect is bound to happen. The customer’s requirements must be upfront in the beginning of the process so that the needs are met above expectations. Not every project is the same, and identifying each customer’s differentiator is crucial. If the customer does not feel they were listened to, even if the project is successful, they will not be 100% happy.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lysa Miller, President + Cofounder, 3 Media Web. She is a Boston-based serial entrepreneur and self-proclaimed relationship builder. She is the President and Cofounder at 3 Media Web, an award-winning digital agency that focuses on B2B web services and digital growth. Her role as the company’s visionary is to manage and elevate the agency’s brand and develop short and long-term initiatives for ongoing growth. Most recently she was featured on the cover and in the educational and technology section of the Boston Business Journal’s 2020 Annual Book of Lists for her company’s success as a top ten agency in Massachusetts. An avid writer and marketer, Lysa focuses her skills on industry thought leadership and having fun with her company’s culture and brand. She writes consistently on LinkedIn and guest blogs for Clutch.co, UpCity, The Worcester Business Journal, and Pantheon, just to name a few. She is the queen of networking and relationship building and loves to contribute to events and organizations in the local business community. Lysa is also the founder of The MetroWest Women’s Network, an online and MA event-based growth organization with over 4000 female members.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I started my company, Ladybugz Interactive Agency as a side hustle while I was working full-time at CBS Interactive. We offered affordable web design and retainer-based social media and packages. We ranked on the first page of Google under “Boston Web Design” which a was significant key to our growth. Quickly, I became known as an expert and authority on all things web design, and social media. As an expert source, I was interviewed in Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fortune, and CIO. As part of marketing the business I built my reputation by building reviews from my happy customers on various platforms.
In 2014, I met Marc Avila who started his company 3 Media Web in 2001. We met on Twitter and began communicating. We became fast friends and mentors while growing our respective agencies. In early 2016, we merged our two companies under the brand of 3 Media Web; now a 20-person company in downtown Hudson, Massachusetts and Grand Rapids, Michigan. By merging the two companies, we were able to accomplish far more in our businesses than we could ever have done by ourselves.
After combining our two companies, we decided to concentrate on three core offerings: web design and development, web support and hosting, and digital growth for mid-sized and enterprise level companies.
Our clients range from large public companies and corporations to locally owned medium-sized businesses such as retirement communities, B2B companies, physicians’ organizations, manufacturers, biotech, and technology.
Since that time, we have been growing our business by working on our brand and excelling at what we do best; that is being a successful growth partner for our customers. We’ve positioned ourselves to obtain the clients we want and are working with other agencies to continue to acquire some of areas top companies as our clients.
We have created a culture that thrives and a community of customers that we consider our biggest fans. It’s been really fun taking them on our growth journey, and rooting for us from the sidelines.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
About five years ago, I was asked to speak at a women’s conference last minute. I had only two days to prepare but my team rallied for and together we pulled it off. I thought I did a terrible job, and agonized over the event for weeks. I chalked it up to experience and let it go eventually.
Five years later, to my surprise, the same organizer asked me to speak again. This time around I had time to prepare and gained a little more speaking experience.
I had spent all this time thinking about what a terrible job I did that day, and beating myself up about it. When in reality, I rescued the day for the event organizer and realized that I must have done a really great job for her to plan to ask me again.
Lesson learned: Never trust yourself as a critic. I am a huge believer in taking every opportunity you get, last minute, planned out whatever it is, take it and don’t be afraid to fail. You might, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. And it’s part of my secret sauce (not so secret anymore.)
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
None of this would be possible without my business partners. When I decided to merge my previous company with 3 Media Web, it was because I didn’t want to go it alone, I wanted a partner I could share the journey with.
Marc and I are polar opposites, but our skills and gifts complement each other and that has been a winning combination.
In 2019 we brought in a third business partner, Sara-Spector Brown. Sara has been our operations director for 3 years. She keeps the ship running and helps us to continue down our path of growth. It’s an award-winning combination and one of the main reasons we’ve overcome many growth roadblocks.
Having her invested in the business and running a tight ship allows Marc and I to focus on the growth of our business.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
The foundation of any company, including mine, is happy customers.
Happy customers are the key to growth and success.
Happy customers write online reviews, refer your business and continue to grow their services with you as they continue to succeed.
We love happy customers and they love us 😉
Have you ever heard of a successful company with unhappy customers? Unhappy customers quickly go elsewhere.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
The baseline for great customer service begins with your company’s culture.
In a service-based business, if a customer has a poor experience it is usually a disconnect in the company’s underlying culture. For example, if you offer a poor product or a stressful work environment, that will reflect that in the roles of your employees.
The team needs to believe in the company’s products and services, along with the company’s operations. Your culture must be one that creates happy employees that provide customers with a top-notch experience.
In my opinion and from my experience, culture is the drive of all things success, namely customer happiness.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
Competition is one factor that forces companies to improve customer experience. But really, social media is what is truly driving the point home.
If you had a bad experience ten years ago, someone would write a negative review, maybe. But today that one bad experience can go viral to hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. Social media didn’t have that type of power in the past, but as it’s exponentially grown at a very fast pace.
Also, due to the abundance of online resources, today’s buyer is more educated than ever. This has had a huge impact on how companies do business. Even if you are a successful business in general, just one bad experience could turn off your potential next customer while they are doing their research. Even more, you may never discover that you lost that customer (the one you never had).
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed!” by the experience you provided?
We are in the business of “wowing” our customers!
From our inception, it’s been our goal to “wow” customers with our great products and services. One creative director often says in meetings, “we want to design something that makes you say, wow.”
So most of my stories are about “wowing” customers and not one specifically stands out!
What does stand out, is the solid five-step process we’ve built to create top-notch products and services.
We offer award-winning design and development, that “wows” every time. We have learned from the mistakes of other agencies (and our own of course), documented those over time and make sure we don’t repeat them. We have learned from the mistakes of our competitors.
As we grow and scale our business we continue to improve our process and our products and services.
Always be improving is our motto.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
We’ve grown because our customers have been successful and grown, (and of course they have told others about us).
New look-alike clients, see our success stories through our promotions, take notice, and follow suit. We’ve quickly grown our business by building on our reputation. We’ve continued to attract new business with our award-winning products and services and our charming personalities 🙂 of course.
Also, some clients move companies and continue to hire us every time they do that. Some have moved as many as four times and have brought us along each time! We are a digital business yet, 75% of our business is still referral based. That says a lot. And we all know referral business, is the best business.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
Everything starts with culture as I said above. Happy employees make happy customers. They need to believe and trust in your products and services, along with having solid processes to perform their jobs successfully. You need to listen to your customer along the way to make sure their expectations remained aligned along the journey. And last, you need to attract and only accept the right customer.
1. Employees need to love their job, and have a passion for the company and clients they serve.
At our company, everything starts with our team. When we take on new clients, they get to know our employees really well throughout the process and form a positive relationship. We treat our clients as partners in their growth and take an interest in this ongoing relationship. In our reviews, many of our clients talk about the people involved in the project more than the project itself. We want our customers to enjoy the process and continue to enjoy the ongoing relationship. Having happy employees makes that happen.
2. Processes that make the client experience as collaborative and as seamless as possible.
Having solid processes for successful deliverables has been crucial to “wowing” our customers. We’ve heard our client’s past negative experiences and we’ve learned not to repeat those mistakes. One of the main complaints we hear is the projects were not launched on time and budget. So our value proposition is that we vow to do that, every time and we do.
3. Provide products and services that always exceed the client’s expectations.
By winning awards and promoting client experiences, our customers know what to expect when they partner with us. Our goal is to continue to deliver on and exceed those expectations, every time. If we don’t, we use that as a valuable opportunity to improve as an agency. We’ve listened to our client’s complaints about other agencies and we’ve been documenting those to make ensure we don’t repeat any of those failures.
4. Listen to and hear your customer.
Listening to your customer is invaluable in your success plan. You can do the job right, have a successful process and launch a product on time and on budget, but if you don’t listen to the customer from the beginning, a disconnect is bound to happen. The customer’s requirements must be upfront in the beginning of the process so that the needs are met above expectations. Not every project is the same, and identifying each customer’s differentiator is crucial. If the customer does not feel they were listened to, even if the project is successful, they will not be 100% happy.
5. Choose the right clients for your company (yes be selective).
You can’t take every customer just to win business. You have to choose customers whose projects are going to be 100% successful with your process. There are definitely things we watch for to ensure that the customer ‘s expectations align with what we offer.
If a customer had a tight deadline on a project that takes us out of our normal process, that creates a more grey area when it comes to how successful we are. We know how long projects take and to speed up our process, might not always produce the same end result as our standard process. If a customer does not respond back and forth in a reasonable time frame, we know that is not a good customer for us, because we require a certain amount of response time from our customers to meet our deadlines. So saying no to the wrong type of business is a very important factor in your success.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
As a company, we tell our customer stories well. When projects are completed, we work with our happy customers to write project features, build case studies, submit reviews, win prestigious design awards and promote all of that through our many channels. It’s something our customers seem to really love!
Because we promote and brand ourselves around customer success and growth, our client’s are excited to be a part of that. In the end, our clients are not our customers, they are our partners and we want to partner with them along their journey and ours. We are the 3 Media Web family. Ask anyone who partners with us!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to start a non-profit called “Make Someone’s Day.”
The idea is that I would design a free web service where people could submit a form just requesting to “make someone’s day.” We’d then we’d send a gift to that person, just to brighten their day. #lifegoals
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Twitter + Insta @lysapreneur