Hi Jerry, tell us about yourself and your background.
My background includes a 30-year United States Air Force career, reaching the highest levels of enlisted leadership. During my time in the military, I was able to rise to the highest levels by having a servant-leadership mindset. Understanding that my success was dependent on the success of those beneath me. Supplying those people with the correct knowledge, resources and tools enhanced their own and team success.
I took this approach into the corporate world when I joined Citibank as a Global Workforce Manager. After working in that position for two years, the company moved the location of their workforce management team, placing me into an infrastructure management role. Shortly after this role, in Sep 2018, I was hired by 7-Eleven to head and revamp their customer experience team. I moved from 7-Eleven to Director of Consumer Services at UnitedHealthcare in December 2020. Then moved to my current position in ServiceNow, as the Director of Customer Workflows, Leading Practices.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
After retiring from the USAF in 2015, I was hired as a Workforce Manager for Citibank. At this job, I managed 40 workforce analysts that monitored and tracked global call centers tracking fraud, and retail services for the high priority clients. My team worked around the clock, 24 hours / 7 days a week. It was in this time in which I started to understand that it was the customer experience that drove the members to call our centers. During this time, I connected with the Social Listening and Engagement team to understand when call volume would be elevated by the customer engagement in social media comments. I took the call center and social listening engagement experience to my next position at 7-Eleven and really started digging into the customer insights in delivering on the overall customer experience.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?
My current role is to investigate and observe ServiceNow custom workflow platform implementation strategies. My team is responsible for identifying and documenting the best implementation practices, to align new customers with the best implementation strategies for their businesses.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
Companies are surveying their customer at an enormous pace. In fact, some companies are overburdening their customers into survey fatigue. What are these companies doing with the survey results? Are they asking the right questions that will provide insight to the experience they are delivering? Everyone is looking at NPS to help drive customer experience, but NPS is deceiving.
If the questions asked are referring to how the phone agents did on the call, but the customer is highly upset with the company policy, is this truly a correct measure of NPS? Many companies are surveying to shift the blame on the call center agent but, in realty, the customers are telling them the process of their policy is broken.
Companies need to ask the right questions to get to the root cause of problems they are trying to solve. Generic questioning leads to false negatives or positives. Is the survey truly telling you that the execution of company policies, procedures, or processes are bad? Or that you have bad customer service agents? In order to better listen and understand their customer base, companies need to ask the hard questions internally, they cannot be afraid of what their customers may or will tell them.
What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?
Zappos, Delta Airlines, and Chick-Fil-A; These companies all have a couple of things in common, they all listen to their customers and deliver on what the customer is telling them They also start with a customer first mindset, working from the customer’s perspective.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
Make sure that you have the processes in place before trying to implement digital technology. When trying to undergo digital transformation, technology is there to compliment the customer experience, not to complicate the journey. Many companies look for the technology to solve the friction in their customer’s journey when in fact it is not technology but the process that is broken.
For example, how many companies have employed voice recognition IVR systems that complicate the customer’s journey. Instead of getting the customer directly in contact with a customer service representative it just bounces the customer around in a continuous loop of questions, further frustrating the customer with no real solution to their pain point. In reality, those companies are facing staffing issues and rather than facing call avoidance up front, they are implementing a delay tactic to hopefully be able to provide service. Companies would be better served by digging down to the root cause of the customer pain point issues before implementing technology.
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
Some tools that I have been keeping an eye on are knowledge base management systems (KMS). Many software solution companies have knowledge management included in their software packages. But is this truly an extensive KMS or just a depository of information?
The systems I’m keeping an eye on are not only able to store and access the information but also can provide analytical data behind the utilization of the data. Knowledge article utilization, knowledge article change management, integration into the various digital platforms, maintaining consistency across all channels.
Is the information easily assessable? And does it provide the right answer at the right time? Many companies are utilizing a SharePoint type KMS but it takes a lot of manpower to maintain. Successful KMS implementation is the basis for all communication channels. Being able to analyze and manipulate the KMS in real-time is key to successfully delivering on the correct customer messaging at the right time.
Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?
The Inspirational Leader by Gifford Thomas, How Successful People Lead by John Maxwell, Talent Keepers by Cristopher Mulligan and Craig Taylor, and The Power of WOW by the employees of Zappos.
What is your favorite CX metric?
First contact resolution. Measuring the percentage of customers satisfied during their first contact or the percentage of issues resolved during the first contact. It is first contact resolution because if the customer connects with the business through email or chat, is the issue resolved or does it result in a phone call?
When effectively executing first contact resolution at a high level, companies are able to drive down a substantial number of contacts in all channels. What does it take to deliver on first contact resolution? The proper number of trained staff, correct technology, and a sincere effort in delivering on an effortless and seamless customer experience.