July 2, 2024 | Podcast

This is Digital, Episode 37: The 10-Second Customer Journey with AMA’s Todd Unger

Todd Unger, CXO & SVP of Marketing & Member Experience, AMA

About the episode

We explore the evolving customer journey and expectations, strategies for recovering from marketing mishaps, and the art of minimizing customer friction. Todd sheds light on the pivotal role of the Chief Experience Officer, emphasizing the importance of breaking down silos and prioritizing user-friendly digital journeys across various industries.


Todd Unger

Todd Unger is the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) & SVP, Marketing & Member Experience at the AMA, overseeing membership, marketing and customer experience initiatives, as well as leading organization-wide digital efforts. Todd is responsible for acquiring, retaining and engaging AMA members, expanding the reach and impact of AMA's mission-based work, strengthening the AMA brand and driving digital transformation initiatives.


In your book, The 10-Second Customer Journey: The CXO's playbook for growing and retaining customers in a digital world, you mention that the marketing funnel has now shifted to a tornado funnel. Could you elaborate?

Traditionally the customer journey was a linear process, where it began with the awareness stage followed by interest, trial, and repeat. However, now all these stages happen simultaneously within a matter of a few seconds. If companies today do not prepare to execute the entire customer journey in 10 seconds, they’re going to lose customers. The reason why 70% of online carts get abandoned today is because of little glitches or friction through the entire process that stop people in their tracks and end up hurting the growth of companies. 

You talk about friction as the enemy. How does friction pop up and why do you think it exists? Is it a lack of orchestration? 

I think “orchestration” is a good term to think about, and it starts in the targeting world. Therefore, it’s more important than ever that companies understand their target audiences and feed those dimensions to their digital platforms. It’s also important to note that the customer journey progresses in a certain manner quickly. Thus, friction can occur at any stage. So you can imagine in organizations where different divisions are responsible for different stages in the customer journey, orchestration can be difficult. At the end of the day, customers don’t care at what stage they experience friction, they just blame the organization. Therefore, it’s imperative for people in organizations to pay attention to any sources of friction throughout the customer journey and fix them.  

Before joining AMA, you had various other roles in different industries. How did you navigate the balance of bringing an outsider’s perspective and connecting with the mission and members at AMA? 

I've worked on many different things in my lifetime, from mouthwash to dental rinse to gamers among other things. No matter what the industry is, though, the key thing is always getting to know your audience, which happens through talking to people in so many different forms and through data. 

A big part of what I talk about in my book is defining your target audience. I understood AMA’s key audience and segmented it into ways that were meaningful for our marketing and communications. Understanding the audience has been key and the first step in every role I have ever had.  

You sound like a believer in storytelling. I know I'm a believer in storytelling. Is that something that you came to at a point in time or have you always seen the benefits of telling a story? 

Absolutely! I believe storytelling is a way of expressing your brand promise through a variety of means of expression. In this digital age, we don’t often get to sit with people and talk through things, so what we need to do is be able to share our brand promise withing seconds. There are various platforms through which this can be done – podcasts, videos, social shares, and articles, and even word of mouth. For us, if you have a clear vision of the physician's powerful ally in patient care and there's an architecture to how we measure that, the next step is: How do you tell that story? That’s where our campaign Members Move Medicine is so important.  

As you think about all the potential chief experience officers listening today, what advice might you have for them? 

My number one piece of advice is to align yourself with growth. I like to think that this job has both technical expertise and organizational expertise. This role entails being able to align yourself with growth, identify growth engines, and be the influencer in the organization that brings the pieces of that growth engine together from end to end.  

This is Digital

West Monroe's team of experts and guests pull back the curtain on how to build digital throughout an organization. Through real-world examples, you will learn how to spot digital transformation in real life, and how to make small decisions every day that make a big impact on growth.

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