Have you ever been shocked when a brand you're loyal to surprises you? In her debut article for CMSWire Raising Prices? Raise the Customer Experience, Nichole Devolites recounts her experience finding out that a chain she was loyal to was charging 78% more for a bottle of wine she liked. She did some investigating on other items and found that the store was charging anywhere from 60% to 72% more than other stores for the same items. That ended her relationship with the store.

Nichole's perspective emphasizes her belief that humans crave genuine connections that lead to favorable outcomes for not just themselves, but those around them. She believes that customer surprise and delight can come from the little things, such as "unexpected personalization, human connection and establishing/maintaining a culture that customers identify with and want to continue to be a part of." 

Nichole has been in the tech industry for over 20 years and has worked with some of the most notable tech leaders in the world to solve challenges in the areas of sales, marketing, customer experience and operations. Read Nichole's recent columns here. And check out our video Q&A with her above from earlier in the year.

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. 

Say 'Yes' to Every Opportunity That Comes Your Way

What excites you most about the space you cover?

I love being inspired and challenged by how humans think, react and evolve. All too often, we forget that those around us are people, too, and that we're all doing our best to live up to what's expected of us from ourselves and others. Thus, I love observing the world around me in customer/vendor situations, taking these observations and applying them to CX principles, then providing more humanistic views to them that produce relatable advice and thought-provoking discussion.

Related Article: Customer Experience Meets Community Experience: Lessons From Overseas

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

I think CX professionals are going to be in a tough battle next year, trying to determine the right balance of digital versus human-touch programs and strategies with less resources and budget at our disposal. Therefore, alignment and enforcement are key, which means there will be a central focus on a well-defined (and very detailed) customer journey that is supported by automation where possible.

I also feel that organizations, particularly tech companies, will have a larger focus on improving customer enablement, via multimedia learning strategies, as customers are overwhelmed with lengthy, poorly written documentation that doesn't cater to unique learning styles.

Finally, I believe in Q2 and through to the rest of the year, there will be a growing focus on employee happiness and what can be done to support retention for the sake of a better internal culture that leads to a more stable customer base. Right now, it's reverberating, significantly, across almost every industry, which is continuing to cause high customer churn.

Related Article: Scenes From an Italian Restaurant: Great Customer Experience, Personalized Touch

Learning Opportunities

What's the best career advice you ever got?

Say "yes" to every opportunity that comes your way — even if it isn't necessarily in your job description. I don't believe in accidents in life, so being asked to take something on, learn something new, etc., only adds to your professional "toolbox" for your future self and possibly a different/better career — something that happened to me and I'm darn proud of! It also allows you the opportunity to get to know different teams you'd otherwise never interact with and trust me, that pays off in spades, especially in unexpected moments!

Related Article: A Forgotten Customer Experience Art: Decency

What's the best personal advice you ever got?

Be genuinely kind to everyone (within reason) and always overuse the word "thank you." Granted, that was my parents "reminding" me everyday through childhood, but it has served me well. Kindness is something in short supply these days (it seems) and you really don't know what someone else is going through. Even just saying "thank you" or smiling at someone can turn their entire day around and certainly, when I see that it's done that for someone else, it does it for me as well. Those kind of uplifting moments, believe it or not, will actually open new doors in life — remember that!

Related Article: Raising Prices? Raise the Customer Experience

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

Hmmm ... people already know of my love of travel, food, wine and whiskey, via these articles (haha). So, I guess one new fun thing is my love of music. To me, it's a universal language. My other half, Mike, and I have what we call a "70s-inspired" lounge room with a big comfy couch and large coffee table, a record player and over 300 records! We go in there to listen to all sorts of genres of music and play board games. It's our way of unwinding, and it's super fun.