Jeanne Bliss

A 3-Stage Approach to Your Company’s New Customer Experience

Are you responsible for building an entirely new customer experience path for your organization? Monica Whiting, Vice President of Customer Experience at TECO energy, shares tactics and plans to help you strategize short-term and long-term goals for CX, regardless of your industry. TECO is a utility company that provides electric and natural gas services in Tampa, Florida, and gas services across the state of Florida.

With a background working in PR & communications, local government, and the non-profit sector, Monica gained plenty of skills and experience that would help her succeed in her current role at TECO. Once Monica began working in the utility space, she found that she was drawn to the purpose of delivering a life-sustaining, economic, core service that we all need in order to power a better quality of life.

Monica shares that she found her purpose doing customer experience work, and after creating a new customer-driven culture in her prior position at JEA (an electric utility company), she was looking forward to leading a CX transition from the ground up.

3-Stage Approach to A New CX Transformation

When Monica first stepped into her role at TECO, she was immediately tasked with helping TECO retire its 30-year legacy and transition into a new customer information and billing system. Monica shares that this system was the core of TECO’s customer services and a project of this magnitude requires about a 12-18 month stabilization period, so she was essentially leading CX for a company that was going to be operating as a new organization.

In order to lead the customer-focused work, Monica explains that within her first 6 months on the job, she set up the initial work to be done in 3 stages. She didn’t want to be seen as the “whack-a-mole” person and needed to be deliberate in her steps about creating a system for problem-solving.

  1. Be prepared to go live: In January 2017, TECO deployed its first online portal, allowing customers to conduct transactional services. This meant dealing with real-time issues and constantly monitoring technology, ensuring that the process would be stable. Monica shares that while she was in the midst of launching this new technology, she was meeting people within the organization to understand typical customer pain points, data analysis, etc.
  2. Develop a quick hit strategy: Monica suggests that you find the low-hanging fruit. She shares that during this time, they put together action plans to improve things they already knew were problematic. They also determined what processes and procedures could be streamlined. For example, Monica wanted to reduce the number of times a customer needed to contact TECO in order to complete one simple task.
  3. Build your long-term strategy: During this time, Monica started planning how TECO needed to define the organization. What does delivering a world-class customer experience look like? What is customer commitment? Monica shares that these were some of the questions they asked themselves. During this time, they also developed organizational principles for how they would interact and communicate with customers.

Don’t Forget to Engage Your Employees

According to Monica, the secret sauce of a successful CX transformation is to have internal engagement. She clarifies that the only way you can truly mobilize is through the hearts and minds of the employees of the organization. Monica shares some of the steps taken to engage their employees:

  1. Build a customer commitment statement: This statement is rolled out to employees to unite the organization under a shared promise. Every employee is to be trained on the commitment statement and how it’s relevant to their specific job.
  2. Share messages from leadership: Leadership has recorded video vignettes sharing why the customer focus is so important and what it means. Employees need to understand the importance of their jobs and how that impacts the overall customer experience.
  3. Form a customer experience council: Monica shares that they organized the CX council by drivers of satisfaction that are important to customers in the utility industry. Align actions against the principles developed. Monica was able to hire a dedicated leader to shepherd the council’s work.
The secret sauce of a successful CX transformation is to have internal engagement. -Monica Whiting @TECOEnergy #CX #CustomerExperience Click To Tweet

Ensure the Customer Experience Council is Focused

Monica explains that there were different groups within this council to focus on specific areas of work. She outlines some of the building blocks put together so the council leader could move the work forward. According to Monica, one of the drivers of satisfaction in the industry is power quality and reliability. With the understanding of this driving force, it’s up to the council to then act on the following:

  1. How do the customers rate us in this regard? Look at operational metrics and gap analysis. You need to know how you’re performing.
  2. How timely are we? If there’s an outage, how quickly are TECO employees responding? How are they communicating with customers?
  3. Look internally and determine who are the subject matter experts that are required in each specific area in order to get the work done?
  4. Does your team have the right competencies? You need problem solvers, you’ll want people who are open-minded, and you’ll want people who are comfortable pushing back and challenging you to make things better.

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

Monica says:

“Find your passion first. Find your purpose, find your passion and you might stumble upon it, right? I did. But we give so much time and so much energy to our work, that if you’re not doing something that you love, you will be miserable. So that would be the first piece of advice.”

“The second piece is not to lose sight. While we’re all in business, and we have business goals to meet, it’s all about people. And that’s a piece we can’t ever forget. And not just from the customer perspective, but from a leadership perspective. And I’m so grateful for the mentors in my career who grounded me and taught me that.”

“I remember one of the new supervisors, like my first month on the job, after that presentation, she came into my office and she said, ‘That was so good. And that was so impressive. And I don’t know that there are too many people that are motivated by accomplishing customer, or accomplishing company goals as you are.’ She goes, ‘But I’ll tell you, this team that you’ve just taken over, they’re not motivated by company goals. They’re motivated by people, and so you need to figure out how to turn your message around so that they’re motivated to make it happen. Because if you make it about people, they will move mountains for you.’ Really powerful lesson.”

While we're all in business, and we have business goals to meet, it's all about people. And that's a piece we can't ever forget. -Monica Whiting @TECOEnergy Click To Tweet

About Monica Whiting

Monica Whiting is vice president of Customer Experience for Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. She is responsible for leading Tampa Electric’s and Peoples Gas’ customer experience strategy and operations for TECO’s more than 1.2 million residential and commercial customers. This includes leadership for the customer experience phone and digital centers, customer billing, payment and collections, account management & economic development, new customer construction project management, customer research, customer strategy and customer solutions.

Whiting joined TECO in January 2017 after spending nearly four years as the chief customer officer for JEA. She has more than two decades of utility experience in customer service, marketing, communications and product development at utilities, including Colorado Springs Utilities and Anaheim Public Utilities.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations/Journalism from the University of Southern California.

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How A Legacy Organization Embraces Digital Media to Engage Audiences in a Meaningful Way

How does a legacy organization integrate digital media in a way that facilitates a meaningful customer experience? Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer and Senior Vice President of Physician Engagement at the American Medical Association (AMA), shares insights, and lessons he’s learned along the way, while leveraging his background in product development, and marketing and advertising, to transform a 170-year-old company’s communication methods into the world of digital.

AMA is a powerful ally to physicians and helps them do what they love most—helping patients get better.

Todd, who came up with the idea for Gladware plastic containers, “the containers you love to use and can afford to lose,” understands how important it is to provide real solutions to provide a better experience that meets the needs of the end user. In this episode, we hear more about bringing together functional and emotional benefits to create something that’s compelling to people.

Bring together functional and emotional benefits to create something that’s compelling to people. [email protected] #CX #customerexperience Click To Tweet

4 Cornerstones to Building a Digital Experience

147One of Todd’s focuses upon first starting his role was to continue to grow the organization’s members and retain current ones. He shares that in this time where attention is extremely limited, he had to build a brand strategy that would communicate what AMA does in a succinct manner.

Todd shares that he built a brand strategy with core pillars, pulling in 4 cornerstones to his foundation.

Some priorities and tactics:

  • Email: How can email be used to generate memberships and engage your current audience? Focus on improving templates, focused call-to-actions, content layout, and A/B testing. Learn which emails perform better than others and continue to tailor along the way.
  • Website: Todd shares some marketing expertise here—if you’re going to improve emails and direct traffic to your website, the website needs to be high functioning as well. He tells that they re-designed the digital platform on the web and on the mobile app to bring content together in a unified and engaging way.
  • Consumer segment: Figure out who your consumer segments are and gain true insights into what drives them so you can create relevant experiences. Go beyond demographics. Todd mentions it’s more about behaviors, attitudes, and usage. He goes on to say—think about similarities people may share. Unite people under commonalities rather than things like age or location.
  • Awareness: All CX practitioners need to internally market an organization’s new processes and initiatives. “Everyone wants to focus on the product and they don’t think about the marketing. If you don’t think about both of those at the same time, and especially early in the stage, you’re not gonna be successful,” says Todd.

Before he was able to fully implement all of the above, Todd shares that communicating the vision of improving the physician experience to AMA members and employees was a very important aspect of the work. A large scale project can only be done if others are onboard and align with your mission. 

Connect with Your Audience Through a Dynamic Media Site

Is your website truly engaging your audience? Your website is the main place where your audience is going to experience your brand online, as CX practitioners, you need to ensure the website is designed in a way that allows your audience to easily consume your content and become more deeply immersed in the brand.

Being the marketing expert that he is, Todd explains that he knew his website needed to be a tool for audience generation and engagement. Before AMA’s website re-design, he claims that it seemed to serve more as an association site than a dynamic media site. Todd’s goal for AMA was to become an enthusiast site so that people who are really into medicine and treating their patients can easily access information, learn more, and connect with AMA.

According to Todd, he wanted the website and AMA’s marketing campaign to communicate what the organization does for its audience. “Here’s what we’re doing for you. Here’s how you can be a part of it, and why your membership is so valuable,” was Todd’s approach to the marketing. As more physicians became interested in interacting with AMA and the website, he received requests to use less stock photography and feature real physicians and various events – sharing that one physician stated, “when I look at that photograph, I feel really powerful.” Even the simple choice to showcase real people and real places make for a stronger connection and form of engagement.

Customer experience and marketing go hand in hand. Listen to this episode featuring @toddunger, who talks about the importance of improving an experience through digital media. Click To Tweet

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

Todd says:

“There are three things for me that can solve any problem and it’s patience, perspective, and perseverance. And when I look at my career and I look at the ups and the downs of it, I wish I knew earlier along the way that with the application of those three things, 95% of all your problems will go away. And so I try to maintain a sense of, ‘I don’t have to have everything now. I don’t have to win at everything right now.’ That most problems go away on their own and that you really your job is to figure out which ones really matter, and you need to address your time too, and then just stick with it.”

About Todd Unger

Prior to his role at AMA, Todd Unger served as the CMO and Chief Digital offer at Daily Racing Form, leading its digital transformation from print-centric publisher to digital gaming and premium content/data platform. Unger has also led digital organizations at Lifetime Television, Time4 Media, and Major League Gaming, and has built Digital City/AOL Local into the country’s leading online city guide.

A graduate of Harvard University and Miami University, Unger supported consumer product brands in brand management and advertising at Procter & Gamble and Leo Burnett, for a decade.

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3 Steps to Telling a Robust Customer Journey with Chelsie Rae Lee of SnackNation

Does your organization have a system in place for measuring customer churn? In today’s episode, I chat with Chelsie Rae Lee, Senior Vice President of Customer Strategy at SnackNation, a subscription service that delivers snacks to homes and offices. In this sense, SnackNation is a B2B2C company, as it partners with grocers and other businesses, while also selling directly to consumers. Diving deeper into your analytics will help you understand why your customers left, if they’re thinking about leaving, and how you can work to keep them on board. 

Chelsie talks to me about defining her role as the SVP of Customer Strategy and how she worked with senior leadership and her team of account managers to improve employee experience, create a customer journey map, and understand customer churn. 

1. Create A 90-Day Plan For What You Want Your CX to Look Like

According to Chelsie, when she first stepped into her role as Senior Vice President of Customer Strategy, she was able to design the role in a way that allowed her to have full accountability of the customer experience.

Chelsie shares that she initially had to look at what the organization wanted to become and what the growth trajectory would look like over the next three years. She needed to learn the customers, who they were, and measure the experience through journey mapping and determining KPIs.

Chelsie explains that when she first stepped into the role, she created a 90-day plan, thinking through what she wanted the CX to look like in the end. She wanted to understand what lead to customer churn and subscription cancellations. Through this process, she realized she needed more data in order to put the pieces together to fully understand the customer journey. Chelsie noticed that they didn’t have a lot of customer survey data and had no NPS. She shares that she needed to figure out how to interview customers in order to gather data that would plug some of the holes.

Chelsie tells that she was able to create a dashboard story around the present situation, while also leading up to where SnackNation should be in the 90 days, and lastly, by the end of the year.

2. Make Your Dashboard Metrics About Human Beings, Not Just Revenue

Chelsie explains that her dashboards always have a “people component” placed at the top. This component might be a retention metric for those managing a large team of call center folks, or it could be an employee happiness metric.

It’s important to Chelsie that her employees see the dashboards, knowing that she prioritizes human connections. She tells me that revenue is the secondary metric, which was a new way of looking at things for SnackNation. Chelsie shares that even though everyone understood the importance of employee experience, she had to push to ensure that it would really move forward as part of the agenda. We chat about the importance of taking care of employees because they’re the ones who help you meet your metrics, so you can’t have good CX without good EX.

Chelsie shares that she maps CX, theoretically from the top down around what are the outcomes that she wants a customer to do or to feel, and to then take action on it every step of the way. From there, she shares that the KPIs are measured around execution. At SnackNation, measuring and impacting churn is important, so one of Chelsie’s goals is to understand how can churn be impacted through better customer experience.

As CX leaders, you need to understand how can churn be impacted through better customer experience. -Chelsie Rae Lee @snacknation #CX #customerexperience Click To Tweet

3. Present Information to Leadership In A Digestible Format

Like all other CX leaders, Chelsie has to synthesize this information and present it to leadership. She shares that upon meeting with the leadership team to chat CX at least once a month, she presents her customer analysis scorecard. This scorecard talks about the outcome that she’s looking for: the churn, the cancellation, and reduction percentage. Chelsie then breaks these down into manageable smart goals for her team to achieve. She clarifies that it serves as a goal map that everyone has bought into at the very beginning of every quarter, and they do quarterly goals.

Photo courtesy of Chelsie Rae Lee, SnackNation

Additionally, Chelsie shares that she does A/B testing around certain cohorts and their purchasing behavior to understand the impact it has on churn. She tells us that she’s been able to use this data to map the behaviors.

To Chelsie, CX is more than just an NPS score, she wants to understand where the customer is by mapping their behaviors on a chart. On her chart, the NPS score is on the Y-axis, and on the X-axis, there’s churn propensity, which is calculated using a lot of different factors that they’ve been able to analyze (see left, for example).

Chelsie explains that by mapping the customer’s value proposition (such as cost, wanting the next level of snacks, and their communication cadence), they can know whom to build a better relationship with and how to build that with them.  

I encourage you to listen to the full episode as Chelsie goes into further detail, sharing more strategies regarding SnackNation’s approach to employee experience.

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

Chelsie says:

“Learning [how] to articulate in the moment, the impact, not just that somebody did something good in your organization or a customer story, but the impacts that they’ve had specifically.

I think this helps us in all of our lives. It’s not just enough for me to tell an account manager, ‘Hey, you met your number. You did a really great job.’ I want to tell them, ‘Yeah, you met your number, but I had three customers write in and say this about you. They said that their life is better because you were part of it.'”

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How One B2B Software Company Shifted Its Mindset to Unlock Growth

How must we examine the complete customer journey to understand the underlying drive of customers? How can we use that customer journey to develop digital products that better meet their needs? In this episode, Mark Bartlett, Chief Experience Officer at FPX, chats with me about the importance of developing your customer narrative and understanding their behaviors, so you can design products that they’ll get the most benefit out of.

FPX, a B2B software company, simplifies buying and selling experiences to align enterprise businesses with the expectations of modern customers. Mark’s B2B experience in technology and engineering have shown him that too many times, engineers and developers build products, only to be disappointed in the end when nobody uses them in the way it was intended. He shares tactics that have been helpful as he rebuilds FPX from a customer-first perspective, to be a B2B value-driven engine. 

Shift the Mindset of Your Operational Approach

Mark shared an interesting insight regarding his original business approach, which was, “if we build it, the user has to use it. It’s just part of their job function. It’s a tool they just use to get their job done, and they might complain about it, but hey, this is how it works. This is the process they have to follow.” He shares that this was an outdated way of thinking and understands that B2B companies now need to emulate the best B2C practices. There’s a digitally native generation that’s entering the buying and selling workforce and have different expectations of how their technologies should function.

With his new understanding of outdated methods that were preventing true growth, Mark shares that they had to change the cultural mindset of their culture and approach to journey mapping. He explains that he and his team had to spend time looking at the ways their customers interpret FPX technology before they even start using the features and functions of the console. It’s important for them to know how customers are looking at the industry and how they’re influenced by their B2C experiences. By doing this, they can put the journey together in a story and narrative that can be better communicated to the customers.

B2B companies now need to emulate the best B2C practices. Mark Bartlett, @fpx Click To Tweet

Start with the People, Then the Process. Lastly, Implement New Technology.

Mark explains that his ideology to improving the organization’s CX was to focus on a customer-end approach. Rather than thinking about technology first, think about the customer and their behaviors and needs. He found it useful to develop the customer journey and create a narrative around it. He tells us that once you’ve put together your customer’s story, you can bring together processes and technologies to help validate the story, and ultimately, make the process smoother for them.

This idea of not relying on technology to be the impetus of your CX change goes back to my conversation with Thales Teixeira about market disruptions. Thales told us that it’s not about the technology that makes a difference, it’s about understanding your customers’ behaviors and needs, which will allow you to develop a value-creation process that supports them.

Mark shares that at FPX, they created a tool that they internally refer to as SOS. The SOS system allows employees to aggregate data that comes in from their customer tickets. The system showcases what’s happening inside of the product road map. Everyone inside of the organization has access to the information within the SOS system, which provides more insight into what’s happening with front line support and product management. Employees are able to see the status of customer actions and can determine when a customer may be on the cusp of leaving. With this system in place, the appropriate actions can be taken to intervene and help the customer achieve their goals. By creating a seamless internal system that houses information that everyone can access, Mark and his team began the first step of improving their CX.

For Mark, the initial step to CX transformation began with a bold statement about taking a customer-end approach, then evangelizing that story by backing it up with the customer journey flow and data from the customer’s point of view. According to Mark, once they had the customer story, they were able to bring together processes and technologies to validate it.

Once you’ve put together your customer’s story, you can bring together processes and technologies to help validate the story, and ultimately, make the process smoother for them. -Mike Bartlett, @fpx Click To Tweet

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

Mark says:

“You don’t have the answer, right? The hubris aspect. I think I saw that a lot in my career. From the early days, we were the first generation of “user experience professionals” at a really tactical level. And there became a kind of moment of hubris of, hey, we know what’s best for the customer. We are the experts from a client services point of view. You, the customer, are paying us, so we are the experts and we know what’s up. I think we don’t have all of the answers and the business is changing. The customer expectation is changing so quickly that if we better listen to the customers and then couple that with our depth of experience to come up with an answer, and then test, and prove, and iterate on what we think is that answer, then we can be successful.”

About Mark Bartlett

Mark Bartlett is a leading practitioner of eCommerce and digital transformation, with more than 25 years of experience. Throughout his career, Mr. Bartlett has leveraged his deep understanding of customer journeys to develop a conceptual framework for what has come to be known as “experience-driven commerce” — an approach that unifies content, commerce, and communications into a seamless and cohesive experience.

With his blend of industry and commerce category expertise, Mr. Bartlett helps FPX continue to modernize the way businesses buy and sell across all channels through FPX’s enterprise CPQ solution. Before joining FPX, Mr. Bartlett led customer experience and commerce practices for agencies such as Digitas LBi, Sapient, and Razorfish.

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