Former VP of CX at Rollins says, “Talk to Me!” - Argyle Executive Forum Events
Martha Craft
ABOUT MARTHA CRAFT Martha Craft counsels brands on improving relationships with customers by looking at all interactions through the customers’ eyes. A fearless problem seeker, her expertise comes from 30 years of Public Relations and Corporate Communications leadership, where she realized that Customer Experience issues often stem from poor communication between brands and their customers. After launching and leading the Public Relations and Corporate Communications team at Rollins, Inc. for more 16 years, she launched and led the Customer Experience team for this $1.5-billion holding company for 15 separate pest control brands. In this new role, she officially took over the Customer Experience work she’d led informally as part of her PR and Communications role. In this capacity, she created customer experience strategic direction, headed online brand-reputation strategy, led internal communications to more than 12,000 employees, and directed the company’s crisis communications strategies. Craft is a frequent speaker on how a five-star customer experience begins with five-star communications, voice of the customer insights, and hidden communication messages. Over her career, Craft’s communications programs have garnered national and regional awards including the Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil, Bronze Anvil, and Phoenix Awards. A native of the Atlanta area, Craft’s extensive public relations and customer experience work spans many sectors including consumer products, consumer services, retail, healthcare, employee communications, food and beverage, hospitality, insurance, special events, and nonprofit. Craft volunteers with You Lucky Dog Rescue and sings in the Grammy award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and the Trinity Presbyterian Church chancel choir. She, her husband, and pack of rescued dogs reside in the Morningside community of Atlanta.

Martha Craft, Former Vice President of Customer Experience at Rollins, explained how five-star communications create a five-star customer experience.

At the outset of her keynote presentation at the 2019 Customer Experience Leadership Forum: Beyond Satisfaction, Building Loyalty, held on April 9 in Atlanta, Craft stated, “I got where I am today through common sense and empathy. I can put myself in your place and figure out what it is you need, what it is you want, and what’s going to mean something to you. If I can’t figure that out, I’m going to ask you,” she said.

“We need to be problem seeking not just problem solving. Unless you seek out the root of the problem first, you don’t know what problem you’re going to solve. Be aware that social media represents the voice of the customer. The customer is talking about your brand, and you have no control over that. The best you can do is respond quickly and honesty to address the problem. Five-star communication drives five-star customer experience, and everything you do communicates your brand,” she emphasized.

“Most customers don’t complain—they just leave, or they publicize their issue on social media. Five-star behavior means ruthlessly seeking out issues before they become large problems. Track customer complaints for trends, and create consistent, company-wide processes for known service failures that anyone in the company can implement. If there have been negative news stories about your brand, can you identify a trend so you can find a solution?” asked Craft.

“Bad news is better than no news. If we don’t talk to our customers, they think we’re hiding something. Saying you don’t know or you’re sorry there’s a problem is a good response—but you have to start figuring something out and giving your customers updates.”

Craft observed that Amazon, Uber, Zappos, etc. have set the communication bar for all industries and all companies. “Every communication is some kind of promise. We’re expected to deliver what these companies are promising. Do you call back in an hour when you say you’ll call back in an hour? Do you have a frustrating, multi-hour, delivery window? Do you provide text updates?” she asked.

Seek out hidden messages, and look at everything from your customers’ viewpoint. Go in the front door, so you see your business the way your customers see it. Ask yourself if your contract and return policies inspire trust. Do you have a cumbersome loyalty program?”

Lastly, Craft advised making it easy for customers to reach out to you. “We spend a lot of time and money on marketing and connecting with our customers, but do you make it easy for them to talk to you? Customers expect you to communicate with them in real time and on the channel they choose. Is your email address and phone number easy for customers to find on your website? Are they able to chat or text 24/7? Do you provide automatic confirmation/update messages with next steps?”

If nothing else, said Craft, adhere to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. “Figure out what your customer wants and give it to them. After all, isn’t that what we’re always trying to do?”