CX Design Across High & Low Involvement Options: Interview with Walmart (Blog 1 of 3)

How hard are customers willing to work? We found that successful companies are offering customers the option to work as hard as they want while remaining loyal to the brand. We set out to understand how companies are designing CX to meet the needs of high- and low-involvement customers to grow their business and increase customer loyalty.

Our first interview in this three-part CX design series is with Jennifer Stahlke, Vice President Consumer Marketing at Walmart.

CMA: What customer insights informed your organization’s strategy to redesign CX into high- & low-involvement options?

Jennifer: Everything we do within Walmart starts with the customer. We’re always asking ourselves ‘what problem are we trying to solve for our customers, and what needs to happen for us to grow?’. Of course, the same is true of CX. We’re striving for a seamless customer experience, one that minimizes customer pain points, and dramatizes customer benefit. We’re focusing on the friction points that touch the largest number of customers and have the greatest impact, and those insights aren’t new. If you’re close to your business, you know where the big opportunity areas are.

The Marketing role in this is to provide a total enterprise view. Within retail we operate in a matrix environment, so I support the enterprise, not just one business vertical. That means I have a unique vantage point to see where the universal friction points are, and ultimately bring the organization together to have an omnichannel view of what a great customer experience looks like. CX is owned across the business, no single area drives the customer experience. The exciting part for me is being able to leverage all of that in how we communicate with our customers.

CMA: What metrics do you use to measure the success of your CX plans? What did you learn beyond the CX metrics?

Jennifer: We leverage many different metrics. If it’s Online Grocery, we’re looking at Customer Satisfaction and Repeat, if it’s Stores we measure clean, fast, full and overall price perception. And we do this across the box, in various departments and key areas of interaction with the customer. As an overall measure we use Net Promoter Score but have started breaking that apart as well to understand what is really driving that score so we can continue to improve for our customers.

CMA: What were the successes and shortfalls of your high- and low-involvement CX options? How did you rectify the shortfalls and how did you replicate the successes?

Jennifer: In a large organization like ours, history would show that we had to have everything figured out before it hit prime time. Over the past few years, we have really embraced agility and test-and-learn, and we’re OK with failure, as long as we learn from it.

I think our past failures have likely been where we veered away from the customer-centric approach. Maybe we introduced technology for the sake of technology, or we had driving sales alone as the goal. Where we’ve seen the most success is where we understand what the customer challenge is, and we work to solve it in the simplest way possible. And we iterate on that until it’s great.

CMA: What has been the reaction of your customers to your different CX options? Are customers utilizing one or multiple CX options?

Jennifer: I’m going to give you two recent examples. First, Scan & Go. The customer can use the Walmart app while they shop in store to scan each individual item, and then bypass the checkout by simply scanning a barcode that completes the customer’s purchase through their ID and associated payment method. The friction point? Long lines at the checkout – customers want to get out fast. The solve? No checkout. Our customers love it. It’s a learning process for sure, but such a great experience.

In this example, we still need to root this solve back to our Customer Value Proposition.  So in order for the customer to want to interact with the app, and experience the ease, we still need to show them how it will save them money. It’s clear as we test out new experiences, that if it’s not rooted in saving Canadians money, it just won’t work.

Secondly, Shop Online with free Pick Up at store was another success. It’s available across grocery and the broader business. Customers save on shipping and they can control the timeline so it’s convenient for them. We’re continuing to think about how to expand this to take advantage of our scale across stores and ecommerce to differentiate, while staying true to our Customer Value Proposition.

CMA: What advice would you give to organizations that are looking to redesign their CX journey to offer high- and low-involvement options?

Jennifer: Stay customer centric. Understand your customer friction points and work to minimize them. There is a lot of flashy technology out there. There’s no shortage of amazing ideas to implement. The best ones solve a customer challenge, which will lead to sales growth. If you’re pitched anything else, walk away.


Walmart provides us with a case study of how to integrate an enterprise-wide view of CX into a matrix organization. A few takeaways from the Walmart experience for organizations looking to optimize their CX:

  • Identify a customer problem to solve, aim to minimize customer pain points and dramatize customer benefits.
  • Be agile by adopting a test and learn approach.
  • Be ok with failure as long as you learn from it.
  • Stay customer centric, resist introducing technology that does not solve a customer challenge.

Authored by CMA CX Council Members:
John Chan, Managing Director, Pearl Strategy and Innovation Design Inc.
Jennifer McLeod, Vice President, SinglePoint Group International Inc.
Lori Cohen, Head of Marketing, KPI

Tags: customer experience, walmart, customer involvement, value proposition, CX metrics