In my new book, Do B2B Better, which comes out next Tuesday, on CX Day, I provide deep dives into numerous real-world customer experience programs and lots of practical tips. But in anticipation of the book release and the daylong Do B2B Better 2022 Conference that Heart of the Customer is hosting October 18 in Minneapolis, I have been particularly pleased to introduce you to exemplary guides and programs through this blog series of book excerpts.
These excerpts explore how these Change Makers and their organizations deploy effective strategies to create measurable business impact from their CX activities.
We hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to hear directly from a couple of them, and other successful CX leaders, at the Do B2B Better conference. To help make that happen, we’re offering a special discount on registration for blog readers. Sign up by October 1 using promo code CHANGEMAKER22 to get $50 off the conference fee! You’re not going to want to miss this exceptional experience full of actionable learnings, fun networking activities, and valuable takeaways. (Not to mention the boisterous kickoff we’ve got planned for you.) CCXPs will also get 5.25 CEUs toward certification. Hope to see you there!
Today’s Do B2B Better excerpt, the last in this series, is a little different than the previous three. We’re spotlighting “Natasha,” an anonymized version of a CX Change Maker I interviewed. She leads customer experience at a global SaaS company that we’ll refer to as XYZ Software.
Natasha was promoted to Global Vice President for Customer Experience soon after our interviews began, reporting to the Chief Design Officer. As I wrapped up writing the book, she was promoted again, this time to Chief of Staff for one of XYZ’s product lines. She manages a seven-person team and works across the organization’s 70,000 employees. She’s been with XYZ for more than a dozen years now. Prior to her CX roles, Natasha led Operations and Finance functions.
Natasha’s experience in these functions informs her work, as she applies numbers in deliberate ways to measure improvements and implement initiatives to improve the experience of using XYZ’s products. She shared her thoughts on her approach to CX:
“What I love about CX is that it is both an art and a science, a perfect combination for me. That’s how I landed in this role and have loved it ever since. My goal is this: How do I make XYZ be the best in class with CX from a B2B standpoint, using technology and data to drive better experiences for our customers? And I think there’s a lot more that we can do.”
While B2B companies typically have fewer customers than B2C, XYZ is one of the world’s largest SaaS companies. The size of its customer base makes it almost like a B2C company in terms of modeling journeys and financial outcomes. For example, it creates a CLV calculation at the customer company level, which is how its CX program shows value.
With her background in Finance and Operations, linking customer experience to business success comes naturally to Natasha. Earlier in life, she worked as a financial analyst for a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors. She recalls:
“I spent close to nine years there. And that’s where I ended up implementing their cost accounting system, and that was where I fell in love with data and systems and technology. Then I went into consulting with KPMG, where I helped CFOs transform their finance organization, and I loved it because it was such a great way to learn how companies solve problems. And then I joined XYZ because I was helping the CFO, and XYZ invited me to join them.
So, I joined as a finance business partner. And in that role, leaders kept saying, ‘You’re really good with data.’ And you know, just that strategic vision of what you do with information, I ended up implementing our analytics tool. From there, I went to work for the office of the CEO. I didn’t know I was doing customer experience until one day, when I was doing a journey map, someone said to me, ‘There’s something called customer experience.’ I had never heard of it! And I just fell into this role, and I felt like everything that I was doing led me to this point.”
XYZ is all about customer success. Its Customer Success Managers are CX’s cousin. They focus on individual accounts instead of customer segments, with a similar goal of creating outcomes in which customers decide that it makes the most sense to their business to work more with the company. As such, the natural way to measure this is customer lifetime value. As Natasha explains:
This allows us to also understand key drivers of customer loyalty and their impact on our financials. With models like this, we can make investment decisions on where to improve. While CLV is the end goal, we break it down. For example, we analyze ACV, which is annual contract value, as well as annual order value, but we also look at renewal rate, as well as retention rate. Those are ultimately what we will work toward, knowing that if we do well there, CLV will take care of itself.
One metric we’ve seen that strongly predicts these is time-to-value for new accounts, especially for our smaller clients. We use our Journey Builder product to deliberately create a strong beginning because we know that when customers start on the right foot, they’re much more likely to stay with us longer and add on more products, the key components of CLV.”
By identifying the sources of value from customer experience, reporting on these, and working with teams to improve these drivers, Natasha and her team show the impact of an improved customer experience, receiving approval for continuing investment.
XYZ relies on multiple tools to align its teams to improve the customer experience. Executives participate in customer advisory boards and attend customer listening tours. XYZ also has executive sponsors for key strategic accounts. Natasha explains her approach to aligning teams across the organization:
“A few years ago, we created an internal program called the XYZ Pledge, which is an initiative to reinforce the importance of putting our customer in the center of everything we do. The program brings teams together and breaks down silos to solve for customer issues across their journey with XYZ. For example, how can we make our customer’s experience more seamless and easy? It’s about harnessing the full power of XYZ to live our value of customer success.
We also use our training product and created a path called the Power of Customer Experience. To date, over 34,000 employees have completed the trail, one of the top three paths completed by our employees. We also created a CX ambassador program, where we put employees through training on fundamentals of CX as a practice, and [teach them] how they can apply these concepts to their day-to-day job.
This serves as an inspiration for our employees and a great way to provide recognition. We recently created a dedicated program for our CX ambassadors that includes training and certification. We create this cohort that goes through a twelve-week program. We have guided conversations every week. And every other week, we host a learning session where we watch videos, go through the material, and do the exercises together as a team. And we talk about how the learning applies to our company, and so we have very pointed discussions led by a member of our team.
There are three series: a beginner, an intermediate, and then an advanced version, where we’ve created our own course on what CX means. This is a two-day in-classroom training course, but it is now available online, too. We take classrooms of twenty to thirty participants, and we talk through key areas that are very specific to XYZ and how we do customer experience.
For example, we’ve focused on measurement because everyone is very interested in terms of how we measure customer experience. This is a great way for us to educate how, while it might not be easy to measure customer experience, it is possible. And we have teams to look at NPS, CSAT, sentiment, analysis, and usage data because we always convey that it’s not only what customers say, but what they do. This leads the CX team to do journey mapping. And then, from an advanced standpoint, we are beginning to teach them about service mapping because at the end of the day, a lot of them are in operational roles and are looking to improve our internal processes to meet the customer needs and improve the experience.
And then we can bring in the back office to assess how we set up our processes and programs to really deliver on those experiences. We’ve had 200-300 participants go through the program. But that’s just a beginning. Now, we engage them on a monthly and quarterly basis. We encourage word of mouth about the program and share the resources that we have to bring more people into the fold.
They evangelize the program, so as they do in their day-to-day job, so where there are opportunities for improvement in customer experience, they let the team know. The second part of this program is that these evangelists have their ears to the ground, so we discover where we can be better from an experience standpoint.
And then the third part is connection. It’s such an amazing platform, where they get to see all of these different priorities and initiatives that are being worked in the company. And they’re connecting the dots and breaking down silos. The feedback we have been getting is that it’s a great platform for our teams to have vision across the company, for removing any duplication in projects, and for breaking down silos.
All of this just sort of evolved naturally. Educating on customer experience strikes at the second A (or Ability) in ADKAR, needed to drive change and is something I haven’t discovered nearly often enough.”
Are you educating your teams on customer experience? Are you undermining your change management efforts in other ways? Or maybe you are looking to implement change management techniques for the first time? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re going to want to join us October 18 in Minneapolis for the Do B2B Better conference!
Qualtrics’ CX Center of Excellence Director Aimee Lucas, CCXP, will present “Applying Theory to Reality—Driving Customer-Focused Change at a CX-focused Company.” She’ll explain how even with the best tools at your disposal, change management is still essential for moving a culture from product- to customer-focused. Aimee will also share how she’s applying change management within Qualtrics to ensure customer feedback drives action at multiple levels. Register now – and don’t forget to use code CHANGEMAKER22 for $50 off!