Interviews

Interviews with CX Experts

CX is the backbone of every business – any CX expert can tell you this. And what better way to learn about CX than from the experts themselves. We’ve interviewed a variety of CX experts from around the world and gathered their valuable insights below.

Creating a Customer Experience Capability – Interview with Mara Bain, Chief Experience Officer, Western National Insurance

Aiming for the Heart of their Customers

This is the second in our Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers interview series, with seven Minnesota customer experience leaders sharing their strategy for the coming year. You can see all of the interviews here:

Overview

The Western National Insurance Group is a 500-person private company that offers property and casualty insurance. Mara is the company’s Chief Experience Officer, a role she began mid-year. Mara came to Customer Experience through an unusual route, having previously served as their Controller. She has hit the ground running, however, working with teams from throughout the company to create a Customer Experience framework, and launching programs to help further improve an experience that already has many strengths.

Defining Customer Experience

Mara Bain, Chief Experience Officer, Western National Insurance

“We have three customer segments. First are our independent agencies.  We recognize that many key policyholder touch points are controlled by our agents.  By optimizing our agents’ experience with us, we are positively impacting the service they provide our ultimate customer.   Next is our ultimate policyholder, which can be either an individual or a business. Finally, we have our employees as customers.” The employee was unique. While most customer experience programs recognize the employee as a key stakeholder, it is unusual to include them as actual customers.

Read more

Setting the Customer Experience Stage – Interview with Dave Kirsch, CEO of Shipper’s Supply

Aiming for the Heart of their CustomersWe’re starting off 2014 with the interview series Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers. These interviews showcase the current state and 2014 plans for seven customer experience leaders in Minnesota. You can see all of the interviews here:

Overview

Shipper’s Supply is an 85-year-old distributor of everything a manufacturer needs to create a great impression, from the actual shipping supply to the automation equipment needed to package products.

This is the first in the series Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers. I chose Shipper’s Supply to begin the series because they are in the very beginning of their customer experience journey, and serve as a great case study of this phase. CEO Dave Kirsch shared the history behind their approach and how they are beginning their focus.

Building Customer Intelligence

DKirsch Read more

Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers

Welcome to the new year! To kick things off, I have been fortunate to interview a number of Minnesota customer experience leaders on their plans for next year. Seven have agreed to have their interviews published over the next two weeks. The list includes two CEOs, two VPs with responsibilities that include customer experience, and three who are specifically tasked with running customer experience in their companies.  The list includes:

Dave Kirsch, CEO, Shipper's Supply Dave Kirsch, CEO, Shipper’s Supply

Mara Bain, Chief Experience Officer, Western National Insurance Mara Bain, Chief Experience Officer, Western National Insurance

Ghita Worcester, Senior VP of Public Affairs and Marketing, UCare Ghita Worcester, Senior VP of Public Affairs and Marketing, UCare

Lisa Hoene, VP of Brand and Marketing Services, Allianz Lisa Hoene, VP of Brand and Marketing Services, Allianz

Robin Schribman, Vice President, Customer Insight and Customer Experience, Thomson Reuters Robin Schribman, Vice President, Customer Insight and Customer Experience, Thomson Reuters

Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Customer Officer at Prime Therapeutics Ingrid Lindberg, Chief Customer Officer at Prime Therapeutics

Rhoda Olsen, CEO of Great Clips Rhoda Olsen, CEO of Great Clips

Look for their interviews over the next two weeks.

Customer Intelligence: Bring Your Customers to Life for Your Employees

RetailEmployeeI once met with a VP of Sales for a Fortune 25 company who argued, “We don’t need to learn about our customers. We just need to execute the plan.” It’s no surprise that, while they were the market leader, they also had the highest percentages of customers who closed accounts each year.  As a result the company’s revenues were growing slower than the rest of the market.

It’s easy to get caught up in executing the plan. We’re busy and taking the time to learn about customers cuts into our “productivity.” But if you don’t take that time, how do you know you’re doing the right thing?

Read more

A Case Study in Loyalty: The Cabela’s CLUB

Cabela's Logo How do you create a world-class customer loyalty program? Focus less on providing best-in-class benefits and more on creating a great customer experience. That’s the advice of Sean Baker, the incoming CEO of Cabela’s World’s Foremost Bank and leader of the Cabela’s CLUB program.

I interviewed Sean to learn more about Cabela’s CLUB and its critical role in driving their customer experience. The lessons certainly apply to retailers as a class, but also have something to teach anybody wanting to create better relationships with customers.

CLUB Components

First, a quick background on the program. The Cabela’s CLUB is a loyalty program paired with a Visa card. It began as a partnership with a small regional bank as a way to give their best customers free gear, but in 2001 Cabela’s brought the program in-house. They are now one of only two retailers who entirely own their own bank to run their loyalty program (Nordstrom’s is the other). Read more

Case Study: Personal Customer Connections + Employee Empowerment = a Great Customer-Inspired Experience at Davanni’s

“We pretty much let our employees and customers decide what’s on our menu.”

That’s a great example of the philosophy that has led to long-term success at Davanni’s, a Twin Cities pizza and hoagy restaurant. While their local focus and fun atmosphere are definitely part of the mix, it is the extreme efforts to keep fresh with customers and employees that really drive their results.

Davanni’s has 21 locations throughout the Twin Cities. They have been in business for 37 years, featuring family-friendly food on the lower end of the cost spectrum. I originally asked to interview them about their experience with Coke’s new soda machine. But I ended up discovering the best example I’ve found of a company trusting their strategies to their customers and front-line employees. This story is a great example for any industry. Read more

Tekserve: A Blueprint for a Great B2B Customer-Inspired Experience

“Our job is to make our customers look good to their bosses.” 

That’s the philosophy of Tekserve, an Apple retailer and IT services provider in New York City, as articulated by Director of Marketing Jazmin Hupp.

Imagine that you are a long-time Apple retailer and supplier, and then Apple builds their flagship store just two miles from you, then four more just as close. Some might find it time to close up shop. Instead, Tekserve used the challenge as an opportunity to refocus on their customers. Their reward? Consistent growth, being featured in the Crain’s New York Business Fast 50 and the Computer Reseller News’ 2012 Solution Provider 500 list, which ranks the top technology integrators in North America.

Tekserve doubled-down on the service surrounding Apple’s products, particularly for businesses.  Almost 2/3 of their revenue comes from B2B relationships, where they are far nimbler than Apple. Much of their work involves integrating Apple products into existing networks, including wholesale conversions from PCs to Macs.

Tekserve credits their growth to three main areas of focus: Read more

Dunn Bros Coffee – the Non-Chain Chain

“Coffee houses are about neigh­bor­hoods,” Dunn Bros Coffee co-CEO Chris Eilers tells me while we drink light roasts and blues music plays overhead.

Dunn Brothers is a popular Midwestern coffee chain with most of its locations in the Twin Cities. The company was started by Ed Dunn and now boasts 83 locations. Whereas Starbucks and Caribou (another Minnesota-grown coffee shop) have primarily corporate-owned locations, Dunn Bros focuses on attracting franchisees, who typically run and work at only one location.

This interview discusses the Dunn Bros Coffee history, how they use their franchisees to develop their unique customer experience, and how the company uses market research and social networking to learn more about their customers. It concludes with an analysis on how they do in creating a customer-inspired experience, as measured through the Heart of the Customer model.

Read the interview in Dunn_Bros-the_Non-Chain_Chain-White_Paper.

Great Clips – Driving Organic Growth through Customer Focus

“At every level in the organization, if people don’t understand what’s going on face-to-face with the customer, it doesn’t matter what else you’re doing.” That’s the advice of Rhoda Olsen, CEO of Great Clips. It’s the same strategy that has driven 30 straight quarters of same-salon revenue growth. But it wasn’t always that way. Back in 2005, “We thought we were a pretty customer-focused organization, as everyone does,” says Olsen. But that year sales and customers dipped for the first time in history. This wake-up call showed Great Clips they needed to better understand the current state of their customer needs. After conducting significant research, they discovered their brand wasn’t very well-defined and category confusion was significant. Customers had a difficult time distinguishing Great Clips’ value proposition from other salons. Read more the full interview, including an analysis of efforts, in Great Clips – Driving Organic Growth through Customer Focus Interview with CEO Rhoda Olsen.