In common parlance, customer experience is a measure of the relationship between the business and the consumers. Although the number of business-to-consumer (B2C) companies are more, their sales are far less than those of business-to-business (B2B) companies as they sell to large businesses instead of individuals. Creating a strong customer experience is now a priority for B2B organizations as selling their expertise and reputation requires building lasting relationships through exceptional customer service. This requires specific strategies to differentiate the business through customer experience. Melanie Bell, the founder of Strategic Piece, works towards helping B2B companies create strategic, information-driven customer experiences that fuel exceptional revenue growth.
Melanie obtained a B.A. degree in International Development from McGill University, Montreal, and an MBA from Rice University, Houston. She started her career by holding marketing positions at Waste Management and Ecom Access, a marketing software startup based in Montreal, Canada. She then became Director of Marketing at the SURGE Accelerator/SURGE Ventures), handling everything from marketing to P.R., communications, and events. In 2014, she founded Marketing Interface to help growth-stage companies achieve their business goals by reaching their target market, convert potential customers into paying customers, maintain business relationships, and measure the results of their marketing initiatives using technology.
Melanie’s rich experience while working for startups in the digital marketing space made her realize that new software and technology are the keys that could help early-stage businesses increase their reach and better serve their customers. Since she saw a gap there that needed to be filled when it came to knowledge about what tools to use, it instilled a desire in her to start her own venture to help those who were looking to grow their businesses.
Melanie founded Strategic Piece in 2019 with a vision to help B2B companies deliver exceptional revenue growth by strategizing and uniting their marketing, sales, and service verticals around a technology-driven customer experience built on the HubSpot platform. Keeping the customers’ needs and wants in mind, two approaches are used by the company while working with clients. For some, the team dives deep into understanding the hindrances that are getting in the way of delivering exceptional results and polishing the related parts of their business as they move ahead. For others, an end-to-end upgrade model is used by working through various aspects of their customer-facing operations to help align, streamline, and fuel performance.
Strategic Piece works on four different modes of engagement – Assess, Advise, Action, and Amplify. In the Assess mode, the team seeks to understand, assess, and diagnose the key components of the business, and produce a set of recommendations. In the Advise mode, guidance is provided to the client’s team as they pursue improvements. In the Action mode, the team acts as an extension of the client’s team and does more of the heavy lifting. Most importantly, Melanie and her team work with the client to decide which aspects of the project require Advise mode and which demand Action mode based on the in-house skills, experience, and staff availability. Lastly, in the Amplify mode (which is when the project has wrapped up), ongoing support is provided as the client’s team continues to learn and embed those skills and processes.
Adequate Tech Tools
With numerous technology tools available for business use, the goal is to select and implement a combination of software tools that enable greater productivity, effectiveness, and scalability. Strategic Piece is a gold-tier HubSpot Partner, and for most of the clients, Melanie suggests that as the right software to align teams, run operations across marketing, sales, and service, and be the system of record when it comes to analytics. After confirming with the client regarding the software, the existing databases/CRMs are shifted to HubSpot, and then begins the setup process to cater to specific business needs, be it workflow management, reporting, or asset-sharing between teams.
Fiction is Powerful
When someone talks about leadership development, our mind immediately goes to workshops, white papers, podcasts, or business books. After a hard day’s work and the digital boom taking over, reading has taken a backseat. But the importance of learning for personal and professional growth cannot be undermined. An avid reader herself, Melanie believes that reading fiction can help with business development (it made her a better leader while consulting clients) as studies have revealed that different parts of our brains go into overdrive when we read fiction or other books. The major difference between reading business books and fiction is that the former breaks down the problem to the principle, whereas the latter has complicated characters which prohibit jumping to conclusions. This enables proper thinking to evaluate a situation rather than jumping to conclusions which is an important aspect of any business.
To foster this habit, Melanie started “Leaders Who Fiction” to help people acquire and develop leadership skills through fiction reading and indulge in intellectual, business-oriented conversations that are centered around the selected novels. In short, reading fiction can help enhance reasoning skills, understand complex problems, increase empathy, release stress, and give you strong role models.
Melanie has been working for herself for eight years now, and one thing she feels bogged down by at times is the feeling that she has been doing the same thing ever since. She had to deal with Imposter syndrome early on as she was trying to make it as a business owner in a male-dominated industry. But she also stresses on how she faced more challenges as a female employee than as a businesswoman.
Melanie, therefore, advises keeping building skill sets and upgrading yourself to prevent burnout and boredom. “You do not have to figure everything out all at once, as that is impossible. You just need to know what you are going to do next. When that pressure gets off your shoulder, it will allow you to keep going and follow your dreams. Owning a business is like riding a roller coaster, but if you really want to do it, then just go for it,” said Melanie.
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