When Justin Racine decided to tackle the recession in a recent piece titled Cheap Beer and Recessions: How to Survive and Thrive With Exceptional Customer Experience, he went back to his college days and his beer-drinking buddies. He noted how when they got back together in their 30s they chose to buy a case of Keystone Light instead of loftier and more expensive brands that they could then afford.

They did this, he said, because of the positive associations he and his friends had with drinking a less-than-stellar beer when they were broke and going to school. He pointed out that brands could find inspiration for making action plans to survive the upcoming recession from his story and that those plans should include listening to your customers, keeping in mind that disruptions are opportunities and taking the time to plan and promote. 

Justin brings a fresh voice and unique perspective to his columns and has more than 10 years of experience in ecommerce, customer-focused experiences and branding strategy. You can read his recent columns here.

This is part of our end-of-year series celebrating our top CMSWire Contributors of the Year for 2022. These are regular CMSWire Contributors whose articles this year greatly resonated with our community of professionals. These Contributors simply serve as great ambassadors of our brand in the world of marketing and customer experience. 

Work Harder Than Everyone Else, and Take Care of the Customer

What excites you most about the space you cover?

The most exciting element of customer experience is the ever evolving, living breathing nature of what is defined as "greatness." We as consumers are constantly changing and pivoting our expectations based upon new experiences that we interact with on a daily basis. This creates a competitive environment where brands must constantly be in tune and in touch with customers and their expectations to deliver the best possible experience that their customer desires. This competitive footrace to creating an experience that’s better than the competition creates an environment that promotes authentic, unique buying experiences where consumers are delighted time and time again.

I write every article with a perspective that hopefully promotes a sense of genuine curiosity amongst my readers. I try to challenge everyone to "think differently" about the customer experience space by offering real world examples of experiences I’ve had in my life and tie it back to pragmatic ideas and thoughts that can be applied in the real world.

Related Article: Cheap Beer and Recessions: How to Survive and Thrive With Exceptional Customer Experience

What trend(s) do you think will emerge in 2023?

This is such an important question. My first reaction would be to say that “it depends on what industry you’re in and what’s most important to your customer." Not every trend is applicable to each brand.

With that being said, I think you’ll continue to see personalization and immersive shopping experiences take priority. For brands that have both digital and in-person buying experiences — you’ll see a closer collaboration between the synergy of digital and in person behavior mapping. If you’re looking to buy paint and browse a brand's digital store, then decide to go into that brand's retail location, that store associate will have the ability to see what paints you browsed before you walk into the store. They'll also have paints ready for you to sample and try in store. 2023 will be about appealing to as many of the five senses as possible.

Related Article: Retail Is — and Always Will Be — Integral to Digital Customer Experience

What's the best career advice you ever got?

Learning Opportunities

Advice that I heard and witnessed firsthand from growing up in a blue collar family, watching my father run an electrical contracting business: “Always work harder than everyone else, and always take care of the customer." As a kid, I would spend time with my dad watching him interact with his customers and would witness firsthand the work ethic he would bring to job sites. This mentality is critical to ensure that your customer feels like they are the only customer you have — and ultimately creates a level of trust and authenticity that allows that customer to feel comfortable in leveraging the services that you offer. I apply this mindset in everything I do.

Related Article: The Customer Experience Secret Amazon Doesn't Want You to Know About

What's the best personal advice you ever got?

“Make time for the things you love." I think we all get caught up at times in the day-to-day "must do’s" but don't forget to make time for the "want to do’s." Take that trip with a loved one, go play golf with your college friends, drive cross country with your car enthusiast buddies. Life tends to move by at lightning speed — we must consciously set time aside to indulge in these "want to do" activities with the people that we are closest to.

Related Article: The Communal Side of Customer Experience

Tell us something about you not related to your work field of interest.

When I was a kid I was a terrible writer and public speaker — in fact, my third grade teacher Mrs. Smith would write notes and call my parents to discuss her concern. This would be something I would struggle with throughout high school. However, once I entered college, I made a vow to myself to be better each day and was forced to overcome my fear of public speaking and writing.

As I made this promise to be better, I started thinking about my life experiences and how I could relate them into whatever I was required to write for my degree and, to my surprise, I started to get better. Overtime, I started to enjoy public speaking and writing more and more and embraced it as a form of personal expression, and in doing so it became something I couldn’t live without doing on a weekly basis.

I think we all have fears and areas of our lives that we wish we were better at. And sometimes, fears and shortcomings turn into cornerstones of who we are — and become something we love. It’s funny how life works that way. I guess Tom Brady, the undisputed, greatest quarterback of all time, was right when he said, “Sometimes in life the biggest challenges end up being the best things that happen in your life.”