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Episode 61: “What Are Customers Thinking?” with CJ Warriner, Senior Marketing Director at Broadridge

Find out what customers expect from their communications experiences as CJ Warriner and Matt Swain share key survey data points and insights from Broadridge’s fifth annual CX and Communications Consumer Insights report. 

Matt: I'm Matt Swain, and you're listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast, where we discuss the opportunities and challenges facing companies on the road to optimizing their communications for the future. Today, I'm so excited to be joined by CJ Warriner, senior marketing director of Customer Communications at Broadridge. CJ, thanks for joining.

CJ: Thank you for having me, Matt. I'm excited to be here today.  

Matt: I'm so excited to have you in front of a mic today instead of behind the scenes. So, maybe with that, CJ, you're doing a lot of work across our customer communications business and other parts of Broadridge as well. Can you take a minute to introduce yourself and what you do here at Broadridge?

CJ: Certainly. I've been in marketing my entire career. So, over 20 years, primarily in customer communications and most recently with marketing communications at Broadridge. I've left to pursue other opportunities from being a creative director to working in healthcare communications.

But I've always been drawn to technology, and that's why I just find so much passion in this particular role at Broadridge. It's fascinating to look back and see how all of our various life choices lead us to where we are today. When I was just fresh out of high school, I didn't know what I wanted to do, what I wanted to major in, and I knew that going to college was definitely in the cards for me. My grandpa, in particular, was very into making sure his granddaughters all went to college. But without knowing what focus I wanted to pursue, my grandparents paid for me to go to San Francisco for some in-depth aptitude testing. And aptitude is really your natural abilities, what are you good at?

So, after going to this extensive multi-day aptitude testing, I discovered that I was good at communications and marketing. And at that time, I didn't even know those were really career options. So, I ended up graduating from my college in communication studies with an organizational emphasis and a business minor, and graduating top of my class, and just combining my aptitudes with education I have been so fortunate to be able to work in this field of customer communications, communicating about communications.

Matt: CJ, thank you for that background. And given that background and focus, are there specific marketing initiatives over the last 20-plus years that stand out as particularly gratifying for you?

CJ: Absolutely. I have worked on many exciting initiatives and campaigns over my career, including our CX and Communications Consumer Insights survey. Another one that stands out to me is launching our new communications experience, Wealth InFocus, which really takes an investor-centric approach by consolidating and presenting the most important information to investors across their various accounts and regulatory communications. The other campaign, Matt, that really stands out to me is our Women in Technology campaign. For the last two years, this campaign has featured Broadridge Women in Technology who are not typically in the spotlight. These are women who are busy behind the scenes, making great things happen. And it is an incredible feeling to spotlight them and give them recognition.’

Matt: And Naadia Burrows had a chance to talk about that as well, so I’m glad we’re able to highlight it here. CJ, I don’t know if you did this just for my benefit, but I certainly appreciate the CX and Communications Insights report that we do and that you and I collaborate on. Each year we really try to dive into those insights with a different guest on the podcast. And I really was excited to have you come on because I thought we could talk about the data and the insights, things that you’ve been close to over the last five years. But I also wanted to take a step behind the scenes because I don’t know that the average reader of the report or listener to the podcast actually recognizes how much work goes into this ahead of publication. So, with that, could you provide a little overview of the process in how we get to this final report each year?

CJ: You bet. For the last five years, we have launched our CX and Communications survey every February, but the process really begins around August. We dust off the old files and identify what questions we want to retain for year-over-year trend purposes. We look at what questions we want to drop, mainly because the data wasn’t that interesting, or it’s no longer relevant, and we determine what questions we want to add. And sometimes we get questions from our clients, and we weave those in so that we can capture the results in the next year. We look at industry trends, we look at what is going on in our world, and how all of those factors may impact customer experience and communications expectations. But creating and asking the right questions is just step one. Step two is organizing and packaging the data. It really needs to flow. It needs to tell a story. It has to have an intuitive, clean design. And after that, it’s all about promoting the research externally and internally with a webinar, press release, social post, search, sales tools, and, of course, podcasts.

Matt: So, CJ, why do we conduct this research each year?

CJ: Well, the research is awesome, I think we can both agree on that, but it’s really valued by our clients, the media, and our associates. It's great content. I think as consumers, we know what experiences and communications we favor, and which ones lack. But we also tend to be fickle, changing our opinion and views based on our moods, how the wind blows. And by surveying consumers each year, we are able to share these key communication and experience trends with our clients so that they can better anticipate and meet their customer expectations. And we also offer solutions to help meet those expectations with the Broadridge Communications Cloud, for example. Our clients actively seek this research, hoping we will continue to offer it each year. And the data points have also proven to be quite popular with the media.

Matt: And on that note, around the media interest in the survey, can you give an example of what you mean by that?

CJ: You bet. One of the data points that we've seen get a lot of media attention is that the majority of consumers stated they have cut spending with companies that don't meet their CX standards amid ongoing economic uncertainty. And with the economy being on everyone's mind, it's pretty understandable why this is resonating with the media and is being cited in various articles and placements. Another stat that stands out is that 69% of consumers would look elsewhere for similar products or services after two or three negative experiences with the company. Again, that is newsworthy. If everyone were happy, I'm not quite sure it would make the news. So, those are just a couple of examples.

Matt: A more recent one that I think of as the Fortune call-out that we had. I don't know if you wanted to speak to that one as well.

CJ: Yes. We were recently featured in the CFO Daily Fortune e-newsletter with all of our stats. And it was great timing with their announcement of the Fortune 100 companies. So great media pickup for us.

Matt: Collecting the data is one thing, but then being able to tell the story and relate the information to what's happening in the market and what's important to our clients is part of what helps bring it all together.

CJ: Absolutely.

Matt: The really great and gratifying thing for me is seeing the way people react to the research. And each year we have some recurring questions, but then we also have some brand-new questions that we are trying to look at things from a different angle. One of the recurring questions that you know I love is relative to customer dissatisfaction with the customer experience provided by most of the companies they do business with. And we saw that continue to grow again in ‘23 to 69%, that is nearly double the 35% we saw five years ago. Are there other stats that you love, or do you have a favorite stat from this year’s research or from the past?

CJ: I do. I actually have two favorites this year. The first is that 61% of consumers judge a company’s level of innovation based on the communications they send. This is a new data point for us, and since it’s the first time we asked it, I wasn’t quite sure what we would get back. And I think many companies say that they’re innovative, but what really influences your customers and prospects to see you that way? It’s your communications. So, it always goes back to communications. My other favorite is that 74% of consumers want a more personalized summary communication with goal-based performance updates, key activities, and recommendations. And that’s really what Broadridge’s Wealth InFocus communications experience is all about. So, I just love that one too. I have a question for you. You are often in front of our clients across various vertical industries. What are their favorite stats?

Matt: ’It’s a great question, and I actually just fielded a question from a client that tends to align with that favorite stat that we hear from clients, and it often is about paperless adoption. So, we ask a question about how you receive communications from the various companies you do business with. This is consumer-based research, of course. And the consumers report back, I receive this only in paper. I don’t have digital access. I have this in paper, but I also have digital access. Or I only receive this digitally, there is no paper.

When we have the conversations around that paperless adoption stat, they often then say, " How do we move more people to paperless?" So, another favorite stat of mine is around creating a more engaging digital experience. Because we found that 82% of consumers said that they would go paperless if they had a more engaging digital experience, and that's up from 71% last year. So, we really think that a better mousetrap, a more engaging digital experience helps our clients increase their paperless rates, which, again, ties back to their favorite stat. How do we compare to the rest of those in market?

CJ: Right. The benchmarking aspect is quite popular. You were talking about creating a better digital experience. And while it's not my favorite stat, the one that surprised me was when we asked consumers if they saw any digital improvements across nine different areas, including cybersecurity, data analysis, and visualization tools, the metaverse, and so on. And their top response, Matt, at 29%, was, "I haven't seen any of these improvements in the last year." And that just really surprised me, given the focus and the buzz about digital transformation. What are your thoughts on that?

Matt: We have clients that are very focused on digital transformation, as you said, and oftentimes they are focused on the back-end processes and improvements to workflow or technology stack or otherwise, that the consumer doesn't immediately see the benefit of. At the same time, some of the questions are unfair in a sense that the consumer is reporting on what they see and reporting what they see versus the actions they take. And the things they do are sometimes different.

CJ: That's true, and I know when we presented this stat at our recent webinar, we emphasized the importance of making sure companies communicate these improvements to their customers so that they don't go unnoticed. And again, it goes back to communications. Did any data point surprise you, Matt?

Matt: So, yes. Every year, we have questions that we get a little surprised by the results on. One is the use of QR codes. So, in the past, we saw less usage and less awareness of QR codes. And then with the pandemic, we saw that continue to grow. Our clients often say, "Well, I have an older demographic and they're not going to engage with a QR code." What we found in this year's research was over a third of baby boomers said that they did want to use a QR code to access information online, moving from the print to the digital experience, and wanted more depth of insight. And I thought that was really an interesting takeaway because we can go back to our clients with a data point like that, where it's actually helping show them that, yes, fewer of that older demographic want to interact with the QR code than a millennial or Gen Z, which I think was at 74%. But at the same time, you still have a third or more than a third of a baby boomer demographic that's asking for that kind of capability. So, I think it creates a lot of opportunity to use the print to drive to more engaging digital experiences.

CJ: Absolutely.

Matt: So, as a marketer, what tips would you give to peers who want to launch their own research or are just exploring whether or not it's worth investing in their own research?

CJ: Good question. I would suggest starting earlier than you think you will need, because it can certainly be a heavy lift and really have clear objectives of why you are conducting the research. Make sure you know what you are hoping to get out of it and how it's going to help your audience and your business. But that said, don't go in with preconceived notions of what you're going to get out of the data. Like you said, Matt, if you go in with an expectation, you might get disappointed. And I think my last tip would be, spend as much time promoting the survey internally as you do externally. I think it's common for marketers to really focus on the launch dates and those external deadlines and you forget that you have these advocates and evangelists internally that you need to make sure are aware of the research so they can help you amplify and extend its reach.

Matt: So, CJ, I think about your comment about having preconceived notions about what the data might tell. And as I noted, I had similar preconceived notions on some of the data points. But I'd be curious if you had a specific example from the most recent research or in past years.

CJ: I sure do. And this is a simple example, Matt, but it really illustrates my point. One year we thought we'd get creative and ask consumers to capture their customer experiences with a song title. And we offered, “Taking Care of Business" by BTO, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by The Stones, "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits. You get where I'm going with this. Well, when we got the data back, there wasn't a clear winner, so we had to throw the question out. But I was really looking forward to having a theme song that year. It just wasn't meant to be.

Matt: Well, next year maybe we'll try it again and see if we can get a different response. Maybe we need better theme songs, CJ.

CJ: It's worth trying again.

Matt: So, CJ, you know it's coming, but the closing question that I like to ask, how do you expect the customer communications market to continue to evolve in the coming years?

CJ: Well, as I look into my crystal ball, I'd say digital is going to continue to advance beyond our expectations, personalized content is going to take on a new level. And with any luck, I'm going to continue to survey, capture and share the latest CX and Communications trends for years to come.

CJ: Matt, I'm curious. How do you expect the customer communications market to continue to evolve in the coming years?

Matt: Well, that's not really fair because I'm usually the one that gets to ask that question, but I'm going to take a pass on it. Everyone is talking about ChatGPT and Generative AI right now I think that’s going to be a really interesting point to watch in the coming years. Certainly, ChatGPT specifically came out after we were doing our research. And we asked about AI, in general, and how AI could be used to answer simple questions from a customer service perspective. And we see a lot of consumer interest in that self-service versus calling a call center. But I think that we need to dive deeper on that one in next year's research to better understand as the consumer thinks about how they want to engage, how generative AI, including ChatGPT and others, will and can play a role in simplifying that communications process or simplifying or enhancing the ways that we communicate.

Certainly, Broadridge is experimenting with it. One thing that we're doing right now, in a sandbox environment, we're looking at how that might play with advisors prepping for a discussion with their investors, and the advisor being able to ask questions of that chatbot to assess the portfolio, talk about three key things that we want to cover. How do I put a captivating subject line on this email to make sure my client opens it? Those types of things that that could be really interesting in the future, and we're playing around with that on the wealth platform. But I would say, in general, the trends from paper to digital and that whole transformation will continue. There's a desire from a business perspective for it to accelerate. Even through COVID, we did not see that level of acceleration. So, I'm really curious to see if some of the emerging technologies and creating better and more engaging experiences is going to help with that acceleration.

CJ: I'm fascinated by that, too, and I can't wait to dive in next year with some of those topics.

Matt: Excellent. Well, I look forward to it, too, CJ. And thank you very much for joining today.

CJ: It's my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Matt.

Matt: I'm Matt Swain, and you've been listening to the "Reimagining Communications" podcast. If you like this episode and think someone else would, too, please share it, leave a review, and don't forget to subscribe. And if you're ready to reimagine your communications experiences, consider the Broadridge Communications Cloud, an end-to-end platform for creating, delivering, and managing omnichannel communications and customer engagement. To learn more about Broadridge, our insights and our innovations, visit or find us on LinkedIn.

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