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Home Interviews CXBuzz Interview With Francine Johnson, Customer Experience Leader at F5

CXBuzz Interview With Francine Johnson, Customer Experience Leader at F5

Hi Francine, tell us about yourself, your background?

I lead the Customer Experience organization at F5. Over the last 20 years, I have worked in various customer-driven roles in the technology industry and have led teams in start-up, private, and public sector companies. About 11 months ago, I re-joined the F5 family to build and lead the CX program after a 5-year hiatus.  The primary focus in my role is using data to understand our customers’ needs and wants, driving customer growth and loyalty, and anticipating the types of problems our customers will need to solve in the future.  As F5’s Customer Experience Leader, ensuring customer obsession is engrained and practiced as a core principle in our culture is key! Outside of the office, I volunteer with local organizations focused on solving the problem of food insecurity, coach and mentor youth in underserved communities, and spend time with friends and family.

Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?

Great question!  I believe brands can better utilize this data by focusing on experience improvements that can be made at different points along the customer journey. The reviews often provide insights into areas of product quality or customer support that may be delighting customers or causing friction.  Not only are these reviews an authentic unsolicited form of feedback, they often provide actionable, real-time signals we can then tie to trends and themes from other Voice of the Customer efforts. Listening and responding to customers is key to creating and maintaining a great Customer Experience.

Francine’s tips for personalization

What tips do you have for companies that want to improve their personalization strategies?

As we continue to embrace customer-centricity, focusing on personalization is key.  A few tips I’d suggest are (1) using a consistent voice through both human and non-human interactions and (2) using data and analytics to craft a personalized experience that leads to a better understanding of a customer’s priorities and decision-making process.  For example, if I were developing a proposal for the CISO- Chief Information Security Officer in a Fortune 100 company, I would use the data we have collected based on discussions with others within the organization and research to determine which solution(s) would be most appropriate to present to them based on their history, environment, and future goals. This personalized approach would, in turn, lead to increased engagement and add value for the business and the customer.

Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?

Yes, absolutely, especially as we are all competing for the same limited “air-time” with zoom and content fatigue challenges. A huge benefit of building a customer-centric culture is the addition of improvements to the overall customer experience.  In the coming year, it will become even more important to focus on the accuracy of the data we collect and conducting ongoing analysis of the voice of the customer sentiment in order to successfully execute and deliver a brand message with a personalized approach that will stand out from the competition.

Social media pages have become crucial for companies in most industries, especially in eCommerce.What is the most common mistake you see in a company’s social media strategy?

During this pandemic, our company has acknowledged that every tech company has shifted its focus to developing a stronger social media strategy. Here are 3 areas I believe improvement could be made to a company’s social media strategy: (1) focus on the “right” audience-this is the target audience aligned to your business strategy (2) provide diverse content – also diversity of thought in content and (3) eliminate the noise (avoid spam).

What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?

Dare to Lead By Brené Brown is one of the most insightful books I have read this year, and I highly recommend it.  My key takeaways from the book were around (1) leadership development and (2) responsibility. No matter where we are employed, we will at some point experience miscommunication, misalignment, mismanagement, conflict, unethical decisions, criticisms, pressures to excel, and so much more.  Dare to Lead reinforces that strong leaders are needed in order to build trust, authenticity, develop empathy, and care.

It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should Executives gear up to the changing times?

Some form of remote work is definitely here to stay!  In order to navigate these changes in the workplace experience, I suggest Executives focus on these 4 things: (1) applying a human-first approach and being sensitive to child and elder care needs; (2) adapting quickly to employees’ changing needs, i.e., flex schedule; (3) maintain transparency with remote and hybrid policies; and (4) embrace the shift into the virtual business world which means fewer in-person meetings and less travel.  One thing is true, we have discovered ways to be just as productive in a remote environment as we were in the office, and a lot of employees expect some level of flexibility with their work from home options in the future.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

 My favorite CX metric is the Churn Metric. Customer churn, in simple terms, is referring to the number of customers/subscribers who leave a company during a given time period. In using the churn metric, we can better determine the areas of customer dissatisfaction we need to address in order to remove these areas of friction along the customer journey. This metric is a great way to reinforce our ongoing focus of being “customer-obsessed” and build brand loyalty.

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