February 12, 2020 | By

CXNext Live: How Spartan Race Takes CX from the Digital World to the Racecourse

Most CX strategies don’t require getting in the mud, literally.

Not so with Spartan, creators of obstacle course races worldwide. On the latest episode of CXNextLive, our weekly LinkedIn broadcast, we sat down with Aja Varney, Director of Global Customer Engagement at Spartan, for an inside look at their CX journey.

Here’s the dirt:

Growing exponentially on a global scale: the Spartan way.

In just a few years, Spartan went from hosting a handful of events in Vermont to hosting events every weekend across 56 countries. That requires providing a customer experience that speaks their customers’ language, literally and figuratively.

To do that, you need customer feedback – specifically, in your customers’ local language. Spartan encountered a hiccup when customers in Taiwan weren’t responding to customer satisfaction surveys as expected. They knew they were doing a good job, but there was no interaction. Turns out, the survey was in English.

Luckily, this was an easy fix. But as Aja points out, what you do after a misstep is an opportunity to create greater loyalty. Spartan always looks for ways to turn around a negative experience and make that customer more loyal.

It’s also important to remember that the same experience you’ve always relied on may not make sense in another market. To understand what works, Spartan turns to their customers.

Getting to know the customer. Even when they’re slinging mud.

Spartan encourages all staff, whether in marketing, finance, or customer service, to experience the full customer journey for themselves ­– from registering on the website, to building their team, to going through the racecourse.

Immersing themselves and experiencing exactly what their customers are experiencing gives them tangible ideas on how to improve CX.

Spartan had a lightbulb moment when they discovered that while they were providing a good CX on their website for new and returning customers, the same wasn’t the case on the ground at their events. When they looked at their festival experience through the eyes of a new customer, they discovered it wasn’t as customer-friendly as they assumed. So they went where their customers are. They staffed tents and info booths to understand what that new customer needs, like more signs pointing them in the right direction, people to talk to, a map, or an app that helps them through the experience.

Spartan has a lively customer base, and they’re vocal, sometimes with negative comments. Aja’s perspective is, if you’re truly immersing yourself and trying to improve the customer experience, those negative comments are an opportunity to learn. Understanding where they’re coming from and why they feel moved to give you this feedback is really going to help you in the long run.

And it’s good to remember that if a customer is vocal about a negative experience, they’re likely going to be just as vocal if they had a positive experience. That’s why it’s important to turn that experience around.

Leveraging technology to remove obstacles.

With a fully remote team spread all over the world, technology is essential. Starting early on, they relied on tools to collaborate, meet, and get on the same page.

That’s not to say it isn’t a challenge to support customers in both the real and digital worlds. Spartan ensures agents on the ground are as trained, informed, and empowered as the agents answering e-mails and chats. Spartan provides on-the-ground teams with the same FAQ information that backend teams use and give them clear escalation access. If they’re dealing with a customer and need help, they have direct access to senior leadership.

For customers, self-service is a great solution. But Spartan didn’t want a chatbot to convey that they don’t want to speak to customers. So alongside their chatbot, they provide a clear option to reach a live person. What they ultimately found was that having that clear option for plan B, and making the chatbot easy to use, people were happy to self-serve.

Technology is an area where Aja is dedicated to staying current. As she says, if you’re not, somebody else will and their experience for their customer might be more modern and better meet customer expectations.

You don’t want to be left in the dust.

For more of the inside scoop from Spartan, be sure to check out the full conversation between Aja at Spartan and Chris Savio from our product marketing team on CXNext Live: How Spartan Race Takes CX from the Digital World to the Race Course.


About CXNext Live

Tune in weekly as we dig into topics focused around building better customer experiences. In these episodes, LogMeIn’s Ryan Lester, Senior Director of Customer Engagement Technologies, and guests from various roles and backgrounds discuss CX strategy, technology and market trends, recent events, and real-world examples. Find details on the next episode and past recordings at LinkedIn #CXNextLive.

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