The MX Money Experience Summit event mostly focused on learnings directly from people in the financial industry, but it also featured leaders from industries beyond banking, including Mike Reese, Mobile Marketing Manager at The North Face; Alexa Maher, Sr. Manager Ground & Lounge Experience at American Airlines; and Jennifer Valentine, Head of Adidas Soccer for North America. See their full presentations here.

We’ve gathered a takeaway from each of them here to bring a new perspective to financial services.

1. Retail is a 24/7, data-driven experience.

As mobile marketing manager at The North Face, Mike Reese says that mobile devices have created an evolution in what retail means. “If you have a retail location, you have an experience that customers come to know,” he says. “But now they can have an experience on their phone that might be more convenient for them.” He adds that the goal is to “allow customers to interact with you where they want when they want,” and that “the mobile space lends itself to that 24/7 access to your services.”

To best guide customers through this digital experience, companies need to optimize their data. “At the end of the day,” Reese says, “the one thing that everyone knows as a marketer is that you're trying to get as much information on the customer as possible to inform how they interact with your brand. So leveraging the data such as purchase history is really important.” He adds that “the biggest takeaway I think anyone can have in the digital space is leveraging data to make informed decisions and to help increase brand affinity and drive transactions for your company.”

Unfortunately, all of this data can at times lead to a sense of overwhelming complexity, which is just the opposite of what should happen. “The biggest advice I can give anyone is just to take a step back and simplify what you're trying to get the customer to do.” 

2. Adapt your way through chaos by listening to customers.

Few industries were affected as deeply by the Covid-19 pandemic than the airline industry. And yet Alexa Maher, Sr. Manager Ground & Lounge Experience at American Airlines, managed to help lead innovation on the ground. “We've invested heavily over the last couple of years in customer experience,” she says. “We launched our flagship lounge and first dining on the ground. We're the only US carrier to have an on the ground restaurant-style dining experience for our premium customers.” She also talks about having “the most aircraft of any carrier with high-speed WiFi” and explains that their focus is on “listening to what customers want and what they need from us when they're traveling with us.”

Of course, the 2020 pandemic made listening to customers more important than ever. “Adapt is the word of 2020,” Maher says. “I've never seen the industry pivot so quickly. Things that used to take us months now take us days. Once we rolled things out to the customer, they needed flexibility and reassurance. And so we started looking at not only educating the customer on all the things we do today that make the aircraft so safe and clean but enhancing those protocols to intake them as additional measures that will make them feel safe when they're flying with us.”

The changes have consistently been unexpected. “If you had told me what I would have been a part of at the start of 2020, I would have thought you were crazy,” she says. She’s spent a lot of time learning the benefits of HEPA filters and figuring out ways to articulate those benefits to customers. “We're rolling out Purell hand sanitizer stations at our hubs and our lounges, and we're doing everything possible to make sure that the customer is reassured and has that added peace of mind when they're with us.” 

The goal all along has been to understand what the customer wants. “Go deep with your customers before you go broad, and deeply understand what your customer’s needs are,” she says. “The customer wants choice. And they want control over their experiences."

3. Don’t overlook relationships within your company.

Jennifer Valentine, Head of Adidas Soccer for North America, gives insights into her top takeaways on how she’s been able to keep things moving forward throughout these uncertain times. She says, “It's been a roller coaster ride, for sure. I don't think anyone anticipated a year like 2020. It certainly showed how resilient and dynamic people can be and show up every day.” 

Although things have been hard with all the uncertainty, she’s found a few ways to keep her team engaged and motivated by asking them questions about their daily lives. She says, “I’ll ask questions like what's the latest show you've binge-watched, or what's the latest book that you've read or the latest podcast. I encourage everyone to put it into the chat function so that way everyone can feel comfortable participating.” She also often checks in on her team. “I do check-ins. I have everyone rate from a scale of one to five where they’re at every day and ask them to use an adjective to describe how they’re feeling to pull people in and get them to start talking.” 

Valentine then gives insights into some of her biggest takeaways during this time. She says, “Number one is the virtual component. There is definitely value in everyone signing on and being present at a meeting, even if we might not physically be in one room. Secondly, and this is probably a sensitive one, but just the overarching topic of racism in America is a tough one. We'll have small group conversations… and it's really where I see the most engagement from the team on it. We continue to share resources and know the way we operate needs to evolve and change. And lastly, is just being human and remembering to connect. It seems like the most obvious thing, but for some reason, when you're stressed, and you've got to deliver results in pretty impossible circumstances, the competitor in me starts driving — I need to get this done, we need to solve this problem. But it’s important to pause and remember to connect with people.”

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Perhaps the primary takeaway from all of this is that regardless of the specifics of each industry, we’re all people working with other people. Even something that may at first glance seem removed from the living, breathing human experience (such as digital interactions) is really at its heart about humans interacting with other humans. Whether you’re perfecting the digital experience, listening to customers, or improving relationships between employees, it’s all human. In a year that has been full of distancing, it’s a lesson that may be more important than ever.