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“The caliber of the team here is remarkable, and I’ve never seen anything like it. So, that was the reason why I decided to join them. Now it’s been a little under two years, and I still feel the same way,” says Aurelia Pollet, the Vice President of Customer Experience at Exemplis. Exemplis is a B2B2C, which makes custom chairs and lounges for offices. 

In this episode, Aurelia tells us about the impressive company culture at Exemplis, and how she’s been supported in her role to lead the company’s CX into the future. Aurelia shares different approaches and strategies that she implemented in order to improve processes and better understand their customers (the furniture dealers), and ultimately, the end consumer.

Commit to Developing Your Company’s Culture

When Aurelia interviewed for her position, she was told that the first step of the process was to ensure she would be a cultural fit. Exemplis, a company whose motto is, “being easy to do business with,” was looking for employees who had the personality to fit within the organization. Aurelia was impressed by their commitment to the culture and she wanted to know how that translated to day-to-day behaviors.  

The Exemplis team shared with Aurelia that their core values guide their day-to-day decisions. These values impacted the behavior of employees; she mentioned one of them was selflessness. Employees are eager to help and work together to get the job done.

In addition to meeting her executive team, Aurelia also met with her direct team. Aurelia shares that she received a lot of feedback about the transparency of the company, which was impressive. Every day, the company’s main focus is to make sure they give customers what they want, and her role is to continue moving the work forward.

One of the core values at #Exemplis is selflessness. Employees are eager to help and work together to get the job done. -Aurelia Pollet, VP of #CX
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Understand the People and Process

When Aurelia first took the role, she explains that she wanted to understand the people processes from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. She spent time in the boardroom with the CEO and with the executives who presented a high-level overview of the department. This allowed her to learn more about their customers and consumers.

Similar to many other leaders who embark on this journey, Aurelia shadowed her team members to understand the work from their perspective. She shares that she started looking at the customer processes; what was the website experience like? How do you place an order? How do you get an invoice? After assessing these experiences, she created the first draft of a customer journey. She wanted the company to have a clearer view of what things looked like from the customer’s standpoint.

Additionally, Aurelia noticed a CRM system wasn’t in place. With a desire to scale the business, they soon implemented Salesforce and developed relevant KPIs to measure for daily, weekly, and monthly performance. “We can only improve what we can measure,” was a phrase that stuck with Aurelia from a former boss. With this thought in mind, she focused on scaling the business and addressed some of the gaps she found in the customer journey.

Is it Good for the Customer?

As Aurelia increased awareness of the CX work across the company, she presented a new concept to her monthly management meeting. She shares that whenever someone on the team wants to change a process, add a service, or make a decision—there are two questions to ask: is it good for the brand and is it good for the customer?

Team members started using the questions on each other and executives used these questions in presentations, says Aurelia. When employees and leaders start incorporating CX language into their own work, it’s powerful and keeps the momentum going.

Whenever someone on the team wants to change a process, add a service, or make a decision—there are two questions to ask: is it good for the brand and is it good for the customer? -Aurelia Pollet, #Exemplis #customerexperience
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What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Aurelia says:

“I really focused on the customer part of the journey at the beginning and I think that the employee part of the journey is as important as the customer and so it’s really looking at it from both ends and not just mapping the customer journey, but understanding, how does that look like for the people in the organization?

And usually when we look at customer journeys, or how to improve processes, we think the CS Team, the Customer Service Team, the people on the phone, the people answering emails or chat, but it is necessary to look at everybody in the organization because if you say you can deliver a product in a certain amount of time, is it true from a manufacturing standpoint? Do you have the tools to tell you that it is deliverable? […] So, not only customer-facing teams are important, but the entire organization when you’re building a customer experience strategy.”

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In lieu of a regular Daily Dose video, I want to share with you an excerpt from a keynote I presented recently that focuses on the lessons of my most recent book, Would You Do That To Your Mother

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.

Would you roll your mother into a hospital hallway and then leave her there? You know that you wouldn’t. But this kind of thing happens in every single one of our industries, because we’re focused on processes that are built for efficiency, and in doing so, we wire the human out of it.

How to Show Up as a Caring Company - YouTube

In this example, a wonderful tech probably took your mom out of the hospital, doing what he or she was supposed to do, rolled her to in front of the lab and put your mom in the hallway. The lab technician came out, did the tests for your mom, rolled her back in the hallway. That’s because we haven’t thought about weaving dignity into the experience. We haven’t operationalized hope and caring in a deliberate way.

Start with the Life at the Center, Not Technology

As technology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives, what’s important is to acknowledge the purpose of technology, which is to enable care and enable people to do the right thing. But it takes starting with the life of your customer to know when to wire the technology in.

I have to tell you, an app alone will not get us there. If you are operationally efficient only because of your technology, it will only give you parity in the marketplace. Yes, if you’re lucky, your refrigerator repairman will keep you posted on when he or she will get to your home, but it’s the man or the woman and how they welcome you, if they put booties on their feet, and how they care for your furniture that tells you the kind of mom they’ve got.

Yes, you can walk completely through an airport without talking to a human, but it’s that gate agent who notices that you’re frantic because you’re about to lose and miss your flight who honors you with grace because he or she have been honored themselves.

3 Key Actions to Show Up as a Caring Company

In 2010, Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of Cleveland Clinic, brought everybody together. There were thousands of them, and he said to his entire team, “People respect how we deliver, how good we are technically at what we do in healthcare, but they don’t like us very much.”

So what they did back then was focus on three key actions, simple things that we can do. Those three things moved them to a very high “love” rating from patients and families, and also allowed them to become ranked number two by US News and World Report.

Click to open the file full-size and hit “File > Save” to download it.

Number one: they created a very simple “no passing” rule. What that means is that no matter who walks by a hospital room with that red call light on, you must go in and care for the human. You must go in and care for the human. It doesn’t matter if you’re a florist or a tech or whatever your job is, you are given permission to stop and take care of the life.

Number two: everyone was given the added job description of “caregiver.” Prior to this only doctors were caregivers; now on everybody’s card, they have caregiver in their title. This raises people’s level and gives them permission. If you’re delivering flowers and you see that somebody’s pillows are rumpled, you can take the time to care for them. You will be celebrated for it.

Give your team permission to take action and care for customers lives. Show them that they will be celebrated for it. In this video, I share a case study from @clevelandclinic that showcases how they #MakeMomProud.
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Number three: they got rid of that crazy silo experience. If you’ve ever been in a hospital for yourself or a family member, you know you have to keep telling your story over and over and over and over again, depending on the doctor or the person taking your blood or the tech or the nurse. Instead, they have implemented 360-degree rounds. They go as a unit and care for the whole life.

When you care, you receive care back. So ask yourself: do you show up as a caring company?

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“I was really looking to achieve an experience that was elegant. I’m a big believer in that,” said Eleanor O’Neil, regarding her decision to create a customer success forecasting system. Eleanor is the Chief Customer Experience Officer at Workshare, a B2B company that manages document productivity and security software for legal firms.

Having held previous positions in the company as the Director of Commercial Operations, and Chief Information Officer, Eleanor ran the internal functions around operations and infrastructure and grew an awareness of what the customer lifecycle looked like. With this experience and insight, she knew she’d be able to scale the business and focus on how Workshare’s services can truly benefit the customer. Eleanor’s goal was to figure out a system that would improve customer success while also lifting some of the burdens off of the sales team.

Create a Customer-Focused Culture 

As CCEO, Eleanor’s role is to run operations and influence the selling experience since the two are connected to the customer journey and lifetime value. She shares that her goal was to help customers get impactful outcomes; it’s her responsibility to raise awareness of the customer within the organization, not just her own departments.

Eleanor explains that she wanted to tackle the customer culture inside the organization. Similar to other leaders, she noticed that their approach to customers was more reactive than proactive. Sales people were operating on a constant fear of customers leaving. To assuage these fears, Eleanor created a forecasting framework, showcasing that only a minority of the customers were actually in a churn space while a majority of customers were healthily engaged and using the product. With this finding, she shifted the optimal positioning goal for customers from stable and engaged, to advocates—ideally, these customers would advocate for Workshare.

Given this, the customer success function’s goal was not just to deliver happy, healthy customers, but to also create enthusiastic customers that wanted to tell their own Workshare success story. Eleanor tells us that it was important that she starting having meaningful conversations about churn. She introduced the phrases: control churn and strategic churn.

The customer success function’s goal was not just to deliver happy, healthy customers, but to also create enthusiastic customers that wanted to tell their own Workshare success story. -Eleanor O'Neil @workshare #customersuccess
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Be Practical in How You Approach Churn

Eleanor’s approach to churn is to understand that it’s impossible to avoid. Rather than solving customer one-off problems, she invested in “customer success forecasting.” This forecast system is used to detect that something is going in the wrong direction with a customer as early as possible in order to resolve it. Eleanor has developed rules for forecasting based on factors like engagement, productivity/usage, potential mergers, and others.

Click to expand. (Photo Courtesy of Eleanor O’Neil; Workshare)

By regularly viewing the forecast, Eleanor and her team minimize churn. In addition to being mindful of these churn triggers, Eleanor recognizes that this system works both in the numeric sense and through customer service management.

Relationships can’t just be transactional and it’s important to strengthen relationships with customers as well. Know when your customer is going live, know when it’s time to renew, figure out ways to provide value to them and keep them apprised of the best ways to use the system.

The Customer Engagement Chart showcases how the teams able to look at data to analyze potential churn. These two quadrants of churn risk space: Poorly Engaged and Over Adopted, helps them focus their interests.

Eleanor’s experience has shown her that the science of sales is methodical and rigorous. When you combine that with the charismatic element of being out and about and engaging with customers, you can be powerful and get closer to customer success.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Eleanor says:

“Honestly, I underestimated how loud, how authoritative, and how strategic the customer voice needs to be inside an organization, and I don’t think it can be loud enough. I think people holding these roles shouldn’t be held back by fear, or held back by what other parts of the organization would think. I think the customer is a really, really important part of the success of a technology company. And so I just hang on to that thought now and I think going forward that is something I will not let go of.”

I underestimated how loud, how authoritative, and how strategic the customer voice needs to be inside an organization, and I don't think it can be loud enough. - Eleanor O'Neil, @workshare #customersuccess
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About Eleanor O’Neil

Eleanor O’Neill is the Chief Customer Experience Officer at Workshare, a legal technology company headquartered in London and serving customers globally.  Prior to her current role, Eleanor held the position of Chief Information Officer and Head of Operations at Workshare.  She is first and foremost a technologist and a transformational leader, and it was her passion for seeing technology delivered with excellence that brought her to the CCO role.
At Workshare, Eleanor leads the Customer Support, Customer Success, Digital and CX functions as the organization continues on a journey to embrace SaaS and deliver its next generation of legal technology products.
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In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

Today’s video is an excerpt from my online course, inspired by my book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? Click here to learn more about the course and enroll. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.

Do you believe customers are assets or cost centers? Thinking about customers as assets is my first customer experience competency. The idea of “customers as assets” gives you a simple way to measure whether you did or did not earn the right to customer-driven growth. In today’s episode, I bring this idea home with a story that’s all too common:

A Loyal Customer

When a new pet store moved into Jeanine’s neighborhood, she was ecstatic. Her schnauzer, Buddy, could now be just minutes from care if he needed it. And she just loved the convenience. The day after the store opened, she went over and registered Buddy, signed up for the loyalty program, and made an appointment for his first grooming. She continued those appointments every six weeks, like clockwork. Over the years, she also purchased all of Buddy’s toys and food from the store, and she went there for any physical ailments that he had. She was a devoted pet mom to Buddy, and she kept giving her business to the store because it was so close.

3 Actions to Take to Honor Customers as Assets - YouTube

But Jeanine was felt like something was missing in the experience with that store. It felt to her that Buddy was just a number there. Because the staff turned over constantly, no one recognized Buddy as a regular. The staff often didn’t check records before Buddy’s appointment to get to know him or to get to know Jeanine.

So when Jeanine showed up 10 minutes late for an appointment and was told that, because she wasn’t there on time, they had moved on to the next dog and she would have to reschedule her appointment, she’d had enough. The staff made no effort to give her the benefit of the doubt or even to contact her to find out where she was. They didn’t know her and certainly hadn’t tallied up all that she had spent there.

Jeanine stopped shopping there after five years of weekly purchases, constant grooming, and care that she went to that store for. The value she took with her as a customer was over $40,000 a year.

Customers Expect to Be Known. Do You Provide Your Team the Tools to Do So?

Would you take your mom’s money for years and then not recognize her or cut her a break? Well, you know the answer to that question.

Jeanine, like most customers, yearns for a company to keep track of and know how much they have given to an organization, and how much they’ve been loyal to them. They want people to know this information about them and honor them accordingly. They expect to be known.

Think of your own life as a customer. What’s the first thing you think of when a company you’ve been loyal to treats you like a number? It’s, “Don’t they know how much I spend here?”

If you walked into your favorite restaurant every week, and no one recognized you after the fifth visit, how would you feel? Would you eventually stop going?

Remember customers, take care of them, and don’t take them for granted. This is our opportunity to honor customers for how they honor us.

Most customers yearn for a company to keep track of and know how much they have given to an organization, and how much they've been loyal to them. They want people to know this information about them and honor them accordingly.
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Commit to Understanding Customer Value

But it takes doing the hard work to know customer value, it takes the commitment to give your people the information and also the permission to make informed decisions about actions to take with and for the customers in front of them. According to Econsultancy, only 42% of companies are able to measure customer lifetime value. Those that do it, behave differently with their frontline, and with how they serve, and in how they reach out and embrace their customers.

Make-Mom-Proud companies, give their people the tools to know customer lifetime value, and to prepare them with options to ensure customers know they’re valued. This is our opportunity to say to customers, “We know you, we value you. We realize that without you, we don’t have a business.”

Signal That You Value Customer Loyalty: A Case Study

Alaska Airlines, for example, resists industry practices that signal to customers that they’re undervalued. Instead, they prove that they value customer loyalty, for example, by continuing to award miles to customers based on mileage. This presses against the industry shift to instead give miles based on ticket price.

This Alaska practice says, “We value you, that you fly with us.” Not, “We value you when you pay more.”

Listen to my podcast for another case study, featuring St. Jude Children’s Hospital, on honoring customers (in this case, donors) as assets.

HOW WOULD YOUR COMPANY ACT IF EVERY CUSTOMER WERE YOUR MOM?

How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?

In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”

Learn more
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How does a logistics company shift its gears to become more customer-focused? In today’s episode, Scott Allison, the Chief Customer Officer of DHL’s supply chain, shares some strategies and tactics around communicating the brand’s message, telling the customer story, and improving employee and customer experience.

DHL is a global leader in the logistics industry. Though the company operates on a B2B level, Scott understands that the business has a big impact on individuals, and wants his employees to remember that their services help improve lives.

Tell the Customer Story

According to Scott, DHL’s CEO of the supply chain business, John Gilbert, said, “we are going to be the most customer-focused logistics company on the planet,” and that’s why his role as CCO was created (in addition to other customer-focused roles). When Scott started his role, like many other CCOs, he dedicated a lot of time talking to customers and senior leaders within various teams. He shares that he wanted to know what customers and employees thought was going well from the customer perspective.

Upon gathering this information, Scott looked for common threads in the answers. After assessing the responses, he found that he was able to draw together quite a few commonalities from his interviews. During this process, Scott discovered that DHL was doing a lot of great things for customers, but they weren’t communicating this. No one was telling the customer story; the focus was on the functionality of the business. DHL was celebrating the number of airplanes and warehouses it had, but not how their efficiency ultimately affected the end customer. Through social media and other channels, they’re telling more of these stories. 

Scott walks me through an example of how DHL services have worked together to improve services to diabetic patients. Through the use of an app, customers can choose all of the items they need for their diabetes management, and DHL carefully gathers all of the supplies to be shipped in one package. They’re working to reduce the number of handoffs for the diabetic patient for a more pleasant and streamlined experience. So to Scott, it’s not just about invoices and packaging, it’s about recognizing that these acts serve the greater good of helping the customer.

It’s not just about invoices and packaging, it’s about recognizing that these acts serve the greater good of helping the customer. -@scottallison1 #DHL #customerexperience
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Craft Your Brand Message and Be Present on Social

During this conversation, Scott shares that he realized it was important for DHL to hone their messaging both internally and externally. By creating strong messaging that communicates DHL’s value proposition, versus what they actually do from an operational perspective, Scott believes this will help employees better understand what their purpose is.

DHL is continuing to focus on getting their messaging right so they can share relevant content on their social platforms. Scott believes it’s important for DHL to be on social media because it enhances their reputational value. He knows what it’s like to receive skepticism regarding social media and its effect on sales, saying that people come to him expressing that they haven’t seen a sale come from a Twitter post. Despite the naysayers, Scott stresses that it’s important to be present in these places, especially since the competition tends to be there. Don’t underestimate the value of social media and get left behind when it comes to business growth.

Internally, Scott explains that they’re spending more time improving the employee experience. In some DHL centers where they have more space, they’ve created town halls, personal experience corners, and innovation corners. In their Brussels location, they’ve created a logistics customer rooms where employees can take customers, to show off the new projects that DHL is working on. This allows customers to build better relationships with the employees, as they’re able to have conversations around how the work gets done.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Scott says:

“I know that the customer pays my wage every two weeks. So that’s the main thing. I wish everyone would realize that. I don’t understand that, but sometimes I have conversations and I have to think about why we’re doing this.”

“I saw a video online with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, recently that really resonated with me, and Warren Buffett said that the only thing he can’t really buy is time, right. So when I have my mentorship sessions with my mentees and so on, a lot of things are spent around time management, and I don’t mean being on time for a meeting, but what are you doing with your time. Does your boss ask you at the end of the year how many emails you answered? No. He asks you, ‘Hey, you set out to meet some goals this year. Did you achieve those goals?’

And I think it’s really about having time set aside to sit back and think about what those goals are and how to achieve them, and then really having a laser focus on going after them relentlessly.”

I think it's really about having time set aside to sit back and think about what your goals are and how to achieve them, and then really having a laser focus on going after them relentlessly. -@scottallison1, #DHL
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About Scott Allison

Scott Allison is a Scottish national who’s been living with his family in the US since 2013. Currently leading the Service Logistics commercial activities globally within DHL Supply Chain, he is passionate about the development of supply chain techniques across the entire supply and value chain. Scott previously held leadership positions for 30 years within the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector and Technology sector.

Leadership from a people development and personal growth perspective is important to Scott, helping others develop themselves and their careers in a large enterprise environment.

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In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

Today’s video is an excerpt from my online course, inspired by my book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? Click here to learn more about the course and enroll. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.

Would you turn down your mom’s warranty claim three days out of warranty? No. Of course not, you would want to hear her story. You’d want to know her customer history and if you’re on the front line, you’d want to be given the chance to make an informed decision. You’d want the company to honor your decision because you had gathered more facts to guide its outcome than could be covered by the standard blanket policy. You’d want your decision honored because it was based on the values, empathy, and ability to make a good decision, which you were hired for.

Trust the Front Line to Extend Grace and Honor Your Customers - YouTube

When we are validated and even the slightest concession is made to accommodate us as customers, it makes a difference and that difference adds up in how we stack up the companies we will go back to and talk about.

This is not a plea to throw company profits out the door by loosening every rule willy-nilly, it’s about preparing employees. It is about trust for your front line, proven to lead to business growth. It’s about enabling employees to act in situations where valued customers are at risk. It’s about them letting them make the call to let a few hours slide off a car rental because they have a high value customer in front of them, or honoring that warranty claim for your mom three days out of warranty because well, because it’s the right thing to do.

How the Golden Rule Will Impact Your Bottom Line

Why not let policy and the golden rule collide? As we become increasingly self-sufficient in almost every part of our lives as customers, it becomes even more urgent that when someone connects with the humans of your company, that the contact is meaningful.

The authenticity of these connections, people’s ability to really help and the front line’s respect for the customer because they themselves are respected are more critical now than ever. Doing human interactions well in an increasing self-service world will set you apart.

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A post shared by Jeanne Bliss | CustomerBliss (@customerbliss) on Dec 28, 2018 at 11:30am PST

Companies that are putting in the work to enable this are reaping the rewards. For example, Mercedes Benz USA began taking this approach in their customer assistance centers where they enable call center reps to balance standard operating procedures with information about the customer they have in front of them. In many cases, the informed exceptions that they make lead to increased advocacy and a more profitable customer.

A study of 20,000 customers by C Space measuring the “CQ” or customer quotient score validates the importance of outreach that is worth customer’s time and that honors their need especially when they choose to stray from that self-service path.

What do customers want? And what can your front line do about it?

Customers want openness, relevance, empathy, experience, and emotion. These are all experiences front line folks want to deliver but need permission and the ability to extend. What we know and you know as a customer is that most of us don’t want to take a company for anything. We want to be treated fairly. We want to be known. We want to be honored when inevitably Murphy’s Law kicks in and that warranty expires the day before our computer wipes out its motherboard, or the brakes go skittish on our car, or that vacuum cleaner we bought goes on the fritz.

Often at these times, we encounter someone who sheepishly has to tell us the bad news and stand by it, and whatever limits their ability to help, even though the thought of it makes them squeamish, and that message is sorry, I can’t do anything for you. What if the front line was trusted, to have some wiggle room, to make a judgment, to do the right thing? What if they were prepared to act in these moments? Both customer and employee experiences would improve. Easier said than done.

Moving from talk to action here requires knowing which you’re kidding customer experiences can be planned ahead of time to give employees that wiggle room. It requires giving employees customer information so they know the value of the person asking for the exception and training and support, and most important, trust. To let good people think on their feet and make that right call.

What if the front line was trusted, to have some wiggle room, to make a judgment, to do the right thing? What if they were prepared to act in these moments? Both customer and employee experiences would improve. #MakeMomProud
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HOW WOULD YOUR COMPANY ACT IF EVERY CUSTOMER WERE YOUR MOM?

How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?

In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”

Learn more
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It takes skill to synthesize the knowledge you’ve gained and then disseminate in a way that will help leaders make financial, cultural, and leadership decisions. Rosalyn Curato, CCO of Allovue, a startup EdFinTech (education financial technology) company, knows how to leverage this skill. In today’s episode, Rosalyn shares how her background in finance and education consulting contributes to success in her CCO role.

“There’s that kind of element of being able to really understand finances to set your team up for success,” says Rosalyn. She shares that focus and speed are important because of the urgency of the work. Keeping this in mind, you’ll be able to get to your goal quickly and add value.

Train Your Customers on How to Effectively Use Your Product

Within her first six months, Rosalyn realized that training and optimizing for the first interaction with the product would be a big portion of her work. She mentions that if people don’t get value of out your software the first time they log in, they might give you a second chance, but most likely, they may never log back in.

  • Rosalyn and her team invested in training customers on site. The Allovue team spent dedicated time with customers so they could specifically learn how to use the product and get value out of it. Rosalyn says that this was a successful strategy because they had a captive audience who was essentially being forced to log in, subsequently realizing the value of the product.
  • After the training, Rosalyn’s team used a recording software to watch how customers interacted with the product. By tracking movements of the mouse on the screen, the Allovue team saw where customers lingered, hesitated, and ended up clicking. They used this feedback to make product improvements in order to minimize click and make things less confusing.

Additionally, during the first six months in this role, Rosalyn spent time with the C-Suite, providing them with feedback. She believes that in addition to their innate desire to focus on customers, providing the C-Suite with continuous exposure to what customers are saying and how they’re getting value out of the product, helps get their buy-in for what’s needed.

Providing the C-Suite with continuous exposure to what customers are saying and how they’re getting value out of the product, helps get their buy-in for what’s needed -Rosalyn Curato, @AllovueBalance #Edfintech #CX #customerexperience
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Focus on Retention and Establish Relationship Managers

Allovue is a B2B2C SaaS company that builds software solutions to help school districts around the country interact with their financial data more strategically. As CCO, Rosalyn knew that she would be strategizing around an acquisition and retention plan.

  • Rosalyn says that focusing on renewal was, and is, a major part of her job. Additionally, she knew that it was important to gather feedback to see how customers were using the product. This feedback would help the Allovue team decide how to update the product and ensure it was user-friendly, to increase stickiness.
  • While focusing on retention, Rosalyn started to see a pattern emerge. She realized that having a relationship manager was the lynchpin to ensuring that the customers would gain more value from the product. Once a CSM was in place, she was able to really scale and grow the customer base.
  • Rosalyn talks about the customer delight approach, which people talk about a lot. However, at Allovue, they didn’t see much of an ROI with this method. She said that though people were happy to receive flowers and nice messages, it didn’t correlate to customer retention.

Having a relationship manager was the lynchpin to ensuring that the customers would gain more value from the product. -Rosalyn Curato, @AllovueBalance #edfintech #CX #customerexperience
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4 Lessons Learned During the First Year of Implementation:

In Rosalyn’s first year at this startup, she learned a few things along the way:

  • Having relationship managers is an effective approach to customer retention.
  • She learned about the type of customers that were a good fit for Allovue and shared this information with the sales team.
  • After getting comfortable with a process of adding more customers, Rosalyn decided to create a pilot program which would allow customers to test the waters before fully committing.
  • Understand what factors lead some customers to early renewals and what are the early warning signs of churn. Share this information with the sales team so they can be mindful of these specifics when generating leads.

This last lesson was particularly important for Rosalyn. She shares that now that her team understands what some of the warning signs are, they can get in front of the problem and know when to start escalating. This knowledge is then communicated from the sales team all the way to customer service, which helps everyone improve their customer relationship.

“I think any CCO will say that the biggest part of their role is making sure you’re communicating the right information into the right parties and that there’s a timely cascade of information throughout the organization,” says Rosalyn.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Rosalyn says:

“Honestly, a lot of it goes back to the people part of the job, especially at the CCO role, you’re spending a lot of your time on management and strategy. I wish I had a crystal ball to envision what customers we would have had and how much time we would be expending on certain things, so I could have rethought some of my hiring decisions in the past.

As I mentioned, I think we originally decided we may spend more time on training, we may spend more time on interactions with users, but really, we ended up seeing that the value came from these SMEs, so I wish I’d just been able to predict my head count for my team back then, whereas now, I feel like I have that clarity in my hands.”

About Rosalyn Curato

Rosalyn Curato is Chief Customer Officer at Allovue. She was drawn to Allovue after working in education consulting for two years and seeing how much time and effort was spent in analyzing financial data in order to make it actionable. By providing educators with data that is ready for interpretation, Rosalyn believes that school leaders can be more strategic with their time, making resource allocation decisions that will lead to improved student outcomes.

Prior to her role at Allovue, Rosalyn worked at Afton Partners providing financial and operational consulting to the education sector serving school districts, charter management organizations, and funders of innovative schools.

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“Customer delight is incredibly important, but it’s also insufficient,” says Jon Herstein, Chief Customer Officer at Box, a cloud content management company that serves about 90,000 customers. Jon goes on further to say that delighting the customer is insufficient if they’re not receiving value from their investment in your product or service. Delivering value is ultimately the key point of B2B customer success and delight.

In today’s episode, Jon explains how he delivers business outcomes to his customers in a B2B SaaS company, where the relationship between the vendor and the customer is no longer simply transactional, it’s a long-term relationship that has to be nurtured over time.

2 Tactics to Further Customer Success

Jon shares that customer success is a combination of customer-oriented operations enacted during the pre-sales cycle, the initial implementation of the solution, and post-sale relationship development with customers.

Jon says, “in pre-sales, your sales team knows why the customer is buying the product because they’re the ones who convinced the customer to do so.” The sales team communicated the ROI and the value the customer was going to receive. As CCO, Jon has established that the expectation set by the sales reps must be shared with the rest of employees who are a part of the customer life cycle.

For Jon, this means that his consulting team, customer success managers who own post-sale relationships, and support team, should all be aware of the customers’ expectations. When it comes time for renewal, a CSM can then say: “here are the three things you said you wanted to do when you bought our product,” and then follow up by stating what they believed they delivered for the client. 

1. Develop Core Values

I always advocate that organizations develop and commit to a set of core values that will guide the actions of leaders and employees. It was great to hear that Jon and his Box team use core values to help them on their path to customer success. He shares that “blowing customers’ minds” is a core value that’s been in place for years. Jon goes on further to say that the scale of customer success became large enough to the point that they had to become more focused on the outward-facing view of the customer and how they engage with them.

Jon also shares that they have a Make-Mom-Proud core value! He understands that this is a concept that can be applied internally to how people interact with one another and most importantly, customers. For instance, he shares, if someone sees an empty cup in the conference room, they should pick it up and take it to the kitchen, don’t let someone else do it. Jon believes that when you start to combine the Make-Mom-Proud value with the notion of blowing your customers’ minds, you instinctively start to do the right thing for the customer. 

When you start to combine the #MakeMomProud value with your notion of blowing your customer's minds, you instinctively start to do the right thing for the customer. -@jonherstein @boxworks #CX #CCO
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2. Continuously Market the Value of Your Product or Service

What would a SaaS company be without its product upgrades and updates? Jon informs us that when it comes to Box product updates, his team constantly educates the customer on new capabilities and functions; it’s important that customers get the most value out of the product. Jon mentions that it’s common for a customer who’s been with Box for three or four years to be stuck using the product the way it worked upon signing on, without taking advantage of the upgraded functionalities.

After realizing that customers aren’t always using the product to its full advantage, Jon incorporated marketing techniques into the customer success function to increase their knowledge of how to use the product. He explains that in on-boarding, email campaigns, nurture campaigns, and during renewal conversations, customer success employees are communicating the benefits of the product upgrades.

Framework for A CCO’s Six Areas of Focus

Jon stepped into his role less than a year ago, and shares that he spent some time with a consultant experienced in customer experience, to help him determine what the scope of his work as CCO would be. They developed a framework consisting of six areas of focus for a CCO:

  1. Customer experience – continue to blow customers’ minds through experiences delivered to customers. It’s an outbound, outward-facing view of the experience provided to customers.
  2. Voice of the customer – bring the perspective of customers back into the business. Use it to refine the way products are built, the way services are delivered, even the strategy of the company. Essentially, do things for the company on behalf of the customer.
  3. Customer centricity – similar to the voice of the customer, but slightly different. Get everyone in the company thinking about customers more consistently. As your teams get bigger and your roles get more specialized, don’t lose the connection to your customers.
  4. Customer relationships – forming advisory boards, executive sponsorship programs, to maintain and nurture their relationship with customers over time.
  5. Customer advocacy – developed a customer advocacy program called Box Stars. These advocates promote Box externally and build an army of advocates.
  6. Thought leadership – working on being more public about the things that they do to promote customer success within the industry.

Jon shares that it’s also helpful that he has a CEO who is personally committed to the customer success agenda who encourages him to try new things and provide new resources. The instinct is to figure out how to do more for customers rather than try and find ways to do less.

What do you Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Jon says:

“One thing I would reinforce is what I said at the onset, which is customer delight is important but insufficient. Make sure that as you’re building out your capabilities, that that’s a component, as a leader, a component of how you talk about the work that you do, but don’t make it the only thing. I see some teams that are called customer happiness. I think, your job is actually not to make the customer happy, right? Your job is to make sure the customer is deriving value from their investment in your product or service. If you can make them happy while you’re doing it, that’s great, but if you’re only making them happy and you’re not delivering value, again, you’ve got a retention problem. It’s just a question of when. So I would just really emphasize that for folks.”

“If you’re in a growing and scaling situation, a company that’s doing well, you’ve got to be flexible in your approaches and be willing to change things and mature things. That can be painful. I get a lot of feedback from my team about the pace of change and it’s tough to absorb and you have to think a lot about change management. You will not always do it perfectly, but if you’re not changing and you’re still doing things today the way you did them four years ago, in a fast world, you’re not succeeding. So just being willing to make the adjustments, make the change, listen to feedback, and continue to grow your capabilities.”

Your job is to make sure the customer is deriving value from their investment in your product or service.
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About Jon Herstein

Jon Herstein is Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Box. In his role, Jon guides the client services, technical support, consulting and implementation teams, ensuring Box is a trusted advisor for its customers to power their digital workplace, drive digital business transformation and enable a successful Box deployment. Previously, Jon worked with some of the biggest names in tech, including Accenture, Informatica and most recently NetSuite, where he served as Vice President of Professional Services for North America and EMEA.

HOW WOULD YOUR COMPANY ACT IF EVERY CUSTOMER WERE YOUR MOM?

How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?

In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”

Learn More

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In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.

On today’s Daily Dose, I want to talk to you about how to suss out potential roles/positions that comes across your desk. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of calls from recruiters for very, very high-level CX leadership roles. So if you’re interested in one of these roles, let me know, because I have quite a few in my pocket that I’m helping people find C-suite candidates for.

Moreover, if you are interested in one of these roles and are interviewing for one of them, let me walk you through several things that I—and the C-level executives I interview in my podcast—recommend that you do to make sure the job is real and that the commitment from the company to take CX seriously is real.

How to Evaluate CCO Positions: 5 Steps to Ensuring the Right Fit - YouTube

1. Does the Job Description Go Beyond Tactics?

This may seem silly, but read the job description very specifically. Look for language around leadership engagement, culture, and that your role is defined beyond tactics. If it’s just talking about voice of customer, journey mapping, or the specific tactics—but it’s not really around transformation, and business change, and values, and helping to instill those things—you maybe looking at a technical role, but not necessarily a transformative role.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Go deep on the company’s background. Look at leadership decisions that have been made. Go through the papers and background materials, and look to see what has impacted major company decisions, so that you have an indication of the kind of company it is. People (and organizations) don’t change overnight to suddely become customer-focused. Look for the breadcrumbs of the kind of groundwork and the kind of leadership that already exists. You want to know what you’re walking into.

In addition, you can go online and read reviews about that employees have left, but we find, sometimes, you have to take some of those with a grain of salt.

3. Get Into the Underbelly

The third thing that people have been suggesting, and I love this, is: Ask to speak to a lot of employees of the organization, not just the people in your interview process.

You want to do is get deep in the underbelly and really talk to the people doing the work.

4. See What the Customer Experiences Now

Then, of course, conduct a “be the customer audit.” Go through a number of the steps/experiences that customers have to go through when dealing with the business to understand the baseline that you’re walking into.

5. Get to Know the Leadership Team

Then, finally, get a very clear picture from the leadership team that you’re dealing with on how they see their own skin in the game, as it applies to customer experience. How do they define the role? And most importantly: whether or not they see themselves as true partners with you. Are they looking at passing this off to you as something to execute versus a partnership that’s about to begin?

When evaluating a potential CCO position for fit, ask: Does the company's leadership team see themselves as partnering with you? Or are they passing off responsibilities for you to execute?
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Furthermore: ask them to define the future state. What are the values of the organization? And what are their goals for improving customers’ lives?

Ask them the simple things: For example, “What are the non-negotiables? What are things that you would never, ever do to customers? What are things you would always do for customers?”

What’s interesting is they may not have thought about it, but their answers are going to give you an indication into the organization, the culture, and the psyche of that leadership team and the company.

I hope that you’re getting some of these great offers. Let me know if you want to hear about more of them. And, hopefully, these tips for interviewing will serve you well.

Want to get Daily Dose videos delivered straight to you? Follow me on LinkedIn or Facebook or subscribe to the blog.

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“The expectations of people, thanks to technology, are different. You want it now, you want it fast, you want good service, you want it with no friction,” says Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King, regarding the company’s transformation to improve its guest experience and meet customer needs. In this episode, Fernando, an extremely successful marketer who’s been featured in Adweek and Forbes, shares how he works closely with operations and the franchise owners to make great CX come to life.

I encourage you to listen to the full episode and hear this lively conversation. You’ll find there’s advice that all of us CX practitioners can use, even if you’re not a part of a global corporation with thousands of franchises.

Establish a Framework to Connect All Facets of Your Business

Fernando shares 4 key marketing pillars that his team has instituted, which plays out in the way they look at their guest experience. These pillars aren’t exclusive to marketing and need to align with actions that are being carried out for CX improvements.

If the guest doesn’t have a good experience at a Burger King restaurant, they’re probably not going to return, so here are the 4 components that Fernando and his colleagues refer to when creating a pleasurable experience:

  1. Advertising and Design: Is this consistent across all stores? Is the story being told accurately and is the design of the store on brand and guest friendly? 
  2. Technology: How can it be used to improve the guest service both in the store and outside of it?
  3. Food/Food technology: There are a lot of initiatives around cleaning up ingredients and sourcing of official colors and flavors. Additionally, they’re working on limiting preservatives, looking into sustainable sourcing, and environmental sustainability.
  4. Analytics: helping markets to structure their calendar, understanding their segments better, knowing what type of communications works and doesn’t work, and help with media optimizations.

How can technology be used to improve the guest service both in the store and outside of it? @fer_machado123 #BurgerKing #CX #CMO
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You Need To Be A Team Player At All Levels

Burger King has a multitude of franchises, and Fernando has to work with these business owners and develop strong relationships so that they feel connected to the Burger King corporation. Fernando shares that establishing these relationships was an important step in making an impact beyond guest services.

After spending time with the various owners, Fernando started to understand how to best communicate with them and began sharing their success stories with leaders at the corporate level. Fernando stresses the importance of being a team player and putting the spotlight on others. He saw this as a way to galvanize the owners in moving the global vision of the corporation forward.

According to Fernando, being a team player is embedded in the Burger King ethos. He explains that his corporate office is an open floor concept, where he’s in close proximity with other leaders in the corporation. This open floor plan allows him to work better with the people around him; they spend a lot of time working together in a culture that’s transparent, team-focused, and not hierarchical.

Fernando explains that working together in the office and working various shifts at a Burger King restaurant helps leaders come together as a team. Like many other leaders taking charge of CX, he understands the importance of experiencing the field work. Fernando shares that everyone in the corporation, including the CEO, has to spend at least three days working in the restaurant. Having hands-on experience in the store, helps corporate leaders understand how the decisions they make at the top impact the employees doing their jobs on the field. 

Having hands-on experience in the store, helps corporate leaders understand how the decisions they make at the top impact the employees doing their jobs on the field. -@fer_machado123 CMO, #burgerking
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It’s a Competitive Market, Invest in Technology

In today’s fast food market, there’s a lot of competition, and customers have higher expectations. According to Fernando, at Burger King, they are making it a priority to keep up with the evolution of the consumers’ needs.

Another core piece of the guest experience is ensuring that people feel good in the environment they’ve created. It was up to him and his team to think through design elements that would cater to the needs of their guests—such as comfortable seating, wifi, power outlets, music, and more.

According to Fernando, technology plays an important role in the way we eat, and he shares that Burger King is investing a lot in its technology. They want to use technology to make the customers’ lives easier, which means creating seamless apps, improving drive-through services, and developing partnerships with delivery services.

In keeping up with the needs of customers, @fer_machado123 shares that another core piece of the guest experience is ensuring that people feel good in the environment they've created. #Burgerking #CX
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What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then? 

Fernando says:

“I think that I wish I was more patient in the beginning of my career. I wish I knew how to influence people the same way I influence people today. I wish I grabbed the phone more instead of sending emails. I wish I knew the power of creativity and how to leverage that consistently when I was a brand manager.”

“People need to work on something that they are completely obsessed about, you know? I love what I do. So people sometimes say “oh my God, this week you put really long hours.” Yeah, but it didn’t feel like that because I really love what I do. I want to cause an impact on the industry, to the brand. I want to see people smiling when they see a material from the Burger King brand. I want to see people happy when they see the design that we did for the restaurant. You know, I am obsessed about the work that we are doing here because I love this. And if you feel otherwise in relation to what you’re doing today, maybe that’s not what you should be doing. And there is something out there for you. You know, find what that something is and be obsessed about it.”

About Fernando Machado

Prior to joining BK, Fernando worked for 18 years at Unilever. Starting as an intern, he moved up the ranks working different product categories and brands, including Dove where he led the groundbreaking “Beauty Sketches” (Titanium GP in 2013).

Fernando was recognized by Adweek as Grand Brand Genius in 2013 (and again as Brand Genius in 2018), by the AD Club of NY as Marketer of the Year in 2017, by Business Insider as top 10 most innovative CMOs in both 2017 and 2018, and by AdAge as top 50 most creative people in the business in 2017.

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