On this episode of Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show, I chat with Ross Garretson, Vice President of Customer Experience at Hunter Douglas North America, about how he builds out both the business to business and business to consumer experience for the worldwide leader in custom window treatments and architectural products.
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Ross Garretson, A VP and Leader of Strategic Operational Designs
Ross Garretson has spent nearly two decades in the consumer goods space, holding a variety of executive positions and leading large, transformational reorganizations and strategic operational designs.
Throughout his career, Ross has had extensive experience reviewing, designing, and implementing technology systems, including a successful enterprise-wide CRM implementation to all Hunter Douglas sales and service employees in 2013.
In 2015, Ross accepted the newly created role of Vice President of Customer Experience for Hunter Douglas North America. The new organization combines several customer-facing teams and is focused on improving all dealer and consumer touchpoints, including Customer Support, Learning & Development, Field Services, and CX Business Systems.
Align Leadership and Company Around One Goal: A Shared Vision
At Hunter Douglas, executives aligned around the top goal for the company, which was to improve customer experience. There’s a lot of important foundational work to tackle in order to create consistency and reliability, and to optimize technology.
Implementing a customer experience program started with process redesign – bringing in new platforms, and trying to find new solutions to improve the service and the experience customers were having with the company (both suppliers and consumers).
Within the first 3 months, the following steps were taken to begin improving CX and communicating about it
- Get executive support around the CX idea.
- Identify key projects to address problems. Map out “early” wins with observable projects so other colleagues can see what’s happening and join the movement.
- Focus on the ‘big boulder’ issues, those large problems that have been rolling around in the organization for years but may have only been tackled bit by but at a time. Don’t just try to “whack-a-mole” each little project. Ross and his team addressed these boulders by forming councils to vet ideas and customers feedback as a sounding board. They also set up customer feedback forums to collect voice-of-customer data in an unobtrusive way.
Indicators of Progress Within First 3 Months:
- To begin making progress, an immediate focus was on building a team that could deliver on the promises we were making in terms of building the CX experience. Having the right talent development and team structure was critical in getting the work done.
- During this process, we brought UX design in-house. We wanted this position to that know the subtleties around the unique experience for our customers when developing digital tools. This was going to be something that’s important for years to come and not just a one-off project.
- Find a common outcome metric for everyone to look at and use to gauge success. There were different metrics within each different functional area that could be considered, but at the end of the day its about increasing sales, customer loyalty – things of that nature.
Communicate Constantly About How to Achieve The Goal
When moving this customer experience program forward, it’s important to unite the C-Suite; they have to be a team with you. Yes, it’s challenging, but it’s helpful to find out what their challenges are and start developing based off their points. Know what’s important to move the needle with the C-Suite so you can identify opportunities to build on and move forward confidently.
Spend a lot of time communicating about what’s important to achieving the goal and bring back feedback directly from the customers (in Ross’s case – feedback was from supplier customers as well as consumer customers). Ross was fortunate to have an engaged team. Management and executive leaders did a lot of interacting with customers, and his CEO was engaged, and wanting to know more about how to improve the experience.
You can’t avoid the consumer experience. At Hunter Douglas, it’s becoming more and more important, and the dealers realize that too. With this increased focus on improving the customer experience and being transparent, we’ve developed a stronger relationship with both the dealers and our consumers – which has also helped us begin to develop a customer mapping journey. There’s more of a partnership between Hunter Douglas and the suppliers, and there’s an increased willingness on their behalf for us to intercede with the consumers as necessary. It’s important to us that we provide a robust relationship with consumers whenever possible.
What Do You know NOW that You Wish You Knew THEN?
I underestimated how much cross-functional work you really need to be successful. There’s no question that managing relationships and identifying stakeholders who want to be a part of the journey is really important.
Also, I wish I understood more how important talent development is. Having individuals on your team who’ve done this type of work before and could teach you a thing or two helps accelerate the process.
There’s so much great information in this podcast, so I encourage you to listen to get more details about how Ross structured his team for customer-driven growth, built robust customer feedback systems, and improved data collection.
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