Party City CXO Julie Roehm Puts the Joy in Event Planning
A heavy dose of adulting can hurt anybody’s psyche when planning a party or event. It doesn’t matter if the occasion is a 50th anniversary or Oyster Day; planning it can leave a person feeling frazzled and seeking peace.
Such a frantic predicament is not only a customer’s nightmare; it haunts the dreams of any chief experience officer. It’s the CXO’s responsibility to use predictive and analytical tools to ensure the shopper at a company enjoys experiencing its website or store.
Julie Roehm fulfills dual roles as the CXO and chief marketing officer for Party City, the top party goods and Halloween specialty retailer in North America according to revenue. Within 60 days of arriving, Roehm and the customer experience team tinkered with their website and other marketing touchpoints to help ensure the customer experience is joy-filled
“When you think about what most people have to do when getting ready to throw a party, it’s a long list, and it can be stressful,” Roehm says. “It’s like, ‘Did I forget something? What if I didn’t invite somebody? What if I forgot the cupcakes or the favor bags?’ There are so many things that could go wrong. And it can be very stressful. Our job is to deliver quick tools to make it easy for people so that it isn’t only the celebration that is joyous, but the whole process is joyous.”
New CEO Streamlined Operations Via Vertical Integration
In 2019, Party City’s new CEO, Brad Weston, promised to deliver a streamlined approach to operating more than 850 stores. Weston vertically integrated Party City so that it continued to manufacture and sell party products. Still, he set a higher bar for the shopper desiring a one-stop shopping experience so customers can plan events, from invitations to balloons, in stores or on the website.
Julie Roehm chatted on “The Marketing Stir” podcast from Stirista, a digital marketing technology company, to explain how customer and journey mapping helped Party City improve the customer experience from start to finish.
Digital and brick-and-mortar businesses depend on the customer experience going happily because the alternative – shoppers’ alienation and bad reviews on Yelp – can poison the well. Unhappy customers can create learning opportunities for customer-facing teams, but no company wants them.
“My goal is to drive consideration,” Roehm says. “I need to get more people to know what we do and bring them in a little closer to get them into that consideration phase. Hopefully, they’ll enter the looking, buying, and conversion phases.
Julie Roehm and Team Carefully Mapped the Customer Journey
Within 60 days of Julie Roehm’s arrival in 2020, the customer experience team created a customer journey mapping process. This exercise gave them a roadmap of how customers interact with the Party City brand from initial research and discovery to purchase and retention. The team uses the blueprint to make the customer experience as seamless as possible.
“We mapped out a couple of customer journeys,” Roehm told “The Marketing Stir.” “We mapped out a birthday journey and a Halloween journey and saw where all the friction points. This mapping led us down the path to a new website and digital tools.”
The customer experience team created a more personalized experience for planning a birthday journey. Any customer can easily plan a birthday party based on the data gleaned from customer journey mapping. The marketing team can examine how customers shop online and at the retail store.
“These digital tools allow people to create their own bespoke experiences for something meaningful to them and their particular situation and making it local,” Roehm says. “It is much more specific, and because celebrations are personal, it’s not a one size fits all. It is a very personal experience.”
Now, customers can learn party planning steps on Party City’s website and post photos on Pinterest or Facebook. From an end-to-end experience, especially from a digital transformation experience, there’s a massive opportunity to master marketing with her enthusiastic team
“It is my job to help to set the strategy, to help to provide insights, to help to provide guidance. But at the end of the day, it is a team-wide effort to help to deliver joy in the easiest way possible.”