A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:


michael sichmeller gage

Title: vice president, customer experience design

Age: 38


Michael Sichmeller is leading efforts to help businesses engage consumers as the newly promoted vice president of customer experience design at Gage, a behavioral marketing agency in Plymouth

In his new role, Sichmeller heads a team that draws variously from specialists in user experience, visual design, content strategy and writing to assist companies in forging connections in “the age of the empowered consumer.”

“To succeed in this digitally saturated marketplace, companies have to be able to and ready to engage customers in a much more personable and nimble way,’’ he said.

While the team focuses primarily on digital elements of customer experience, it also looks at customers’ interactions with brands over time and seeks to inform and engage them even in “offline experiences,” Sichmeller said.

Initial steps in the customer experience design process include working with clients to understand their brand position and business goals as well as their audience, Sichmeller said. Gage then can help with optimizing part of an experience, identifying a technology solution or developing a plan to drive behavior of customers, consumers and partners.

Sichmeller joined Gage in 2010 as a user experience architect and was later promoted to director of customer experience. He was director of user experience at page10 an interactive marketing agency in Minneapolis, and a lead information architect for commercial banking at U.S. Bank.

Gage offers business intelligence, creative, media, communications, technology and other services.

Q: How do you approach customer experience design at Gage?

A: We’re helping our clients gain insight into their customers so they can look into their world, understand how those customers live their lives and put them at the center of everything. Rather than pushing out marketing messages, we’re trying to help them understand those consumers, what their expectations are and how to connect with them.

Q: What’s the business case for making customer experience a priority?

A: You can’t afford not to connect with people in ways that are meaningful to them. Traditional marketing techniques are supplemental and only work anymore if they’re empowered by that deep customer understanding.

Q: What’s led you to focus on user experience in your career?

A: Since the information age started, it’s kind of been a Wild West out there. Now there’s such a complex marketplace of technology solutions. I see this way of connecting businesses with people, not necessarily business-to-business, not business-to-consumer but B2P, business-to-person, as being the solution.

Todd Nelson