Libby Duane Adams is a disciplined and mature CCO leader who shares her 6-year strategy for making the role a growth driver in her organization. For those driving B2B technology companies, you will not want to miss her actions, path and how she drove success.
Libby is the Chief Customer Officer and founding partner of Alteryx, Inc, Alteryx® provides strategic analytics software for enterprise and SMB companies making critical decisions about how to expand and grow. For the past decade, Alteryx has empowered strategic planning executives to identify and seize market opportunities, outsmart their competitors, and drive more revenue from their current businesses. Alteryx is a desktop-to-cloud platform designed for data artisans and business leaders. It brings together the market insight, location analysis, and business intelligence today’s market requires. Customers such as Walmart, McDonald’s, and AT&T rely on Alteryx.
Along with co-founders, Libby knew she could make a difference in the strategic analytics sector by combining software and data to match business requirements with easier to use, faster to deploy and more affordable agile Business Intelligence.
Prior to Alteryx, Libby was a leading sales representative for the media, advertising, telecommunications and automotive industries at Strategic Mapping, a provider of spatial analytics and mapping software. She sold early renditions of desktop-based geographic business intelligence solutions before the Web emerged as the most effective tool for deployment.
Libby also served as an account manager at Donnelley Marketing Information Services in Stamford, CT where she was responsible for customer acquisition in the advertising, media and telecommunications industries. In this role, she was responsible for defining both the company’s national sales growth and vertical-specific product development.
Libby earned her BS from Castleton University in Vermont.
Losing customers in a period of growth
This is all too common, as people / organizations get fascinated by the new shiny penny, i.e. the new customers. They forget about the last tier of customers who entered, lose sight of them, and then growth slows. This is an important aspect of growth companies to understand; the first wave of customers that began the growth are still as important as the most recent customers.
Customer experience is not customer service/support
As many in our field know and understand, customer experience is just that: the full experience. But in the early stages of a company committing to CX, that’s not always clear to the pre-existing stakeholders.
Her early days setting up customer journey stages:
Initially, they realized the customers didn’t actually care about some of the aspects they had spent time and money on. They needed to refocus. At the time of the initial discussions with stakeholders and results presentations (done when the company was about 150 employees), she went to the executive level and explained the dichotomy between “what we’re doing” and “what customers care about.” They needed to know what to improve; in this process, the executive team also became stakeholders. It moved the CX journey map process outside of just the CX silo.
Here are the five stages they use, journey mapping wise:
Normally my guests have been in the role 2-3 years, but Libby has been around longer, so I wanted to take a longer-term framework in speaking with her. What did she try to do each year?
Year 1: Internally, all departments had to understand what CX meant and how it connected to their work. Externally, they needed to learn from their customers on what was important. Customers liked the product, for example, but complained about onboarding into it or implementing it quickly in their orgs. So externally, she needed a quick win on helping a new user.
Year 2: Much greater focus on the sales process, as customers were giving feedback on “the selling motion” in this year. Messaging, scripts, value proposition, etc. Important aspect to this year: while making the sale is what’s scored and “counts”on the spreadsheets, the sales experience is actually what’s important and drives the sales.
Year 3: They focused more on onboarding and how to work with the user base/community. This covers installation of software, training, and identifying the problems they (customers) can solve with the software. They actually moved away from classroom-style training during this period. Customers were saying “We want to learn the product the way we want to learn it, not the way you want to teach us the product.” This was a significant transition for the company.
Year 4: This is when more and more people started to “get it,” and the platform continued to grow and expand. Libby had to understand this meant the work was even more relevant, because now it was embedded in more and more silos. Externally, they had to focus on messaging. As the company had grown and some of the training had shifted, the message about value had changed. The platform was still valuable, but in new ways — and customers felt disconnected with the existing message, which was also going to present a problem for new customers. They used closed door sessions with customers to ask “What do we do well for you, and how should it be described?” They tested messaging in that way.
Year 5: The focus was user experience inside the platform, i.e. interface implementation and product experience. Notice that this initiative has to be cross-functional between engineering, customer experience, customer support, marketing, etc. Everyone has to touch this concept, from who builds it to who promotes it. They also did a refresh of customer journey mapping. (See above.)
Year 6: This is where Libby resides now. She’s working on re-evaluating messaging, prospect experience (their software is free for prospects), more onboarding improvements, and specific support initiatives for longer-term customers. There will probably be a lot of measurement this fall to set up the 2018 plan. (Amazing to think we’ve reached the part of the year where everyone is doing the ’18 strategic planning.)
“We get feelings that something isn’t right…”
… that’s when it’s time to invest and test/iterate. As the user base and platform has changed, they needed to make sure they heard more from the user community. This idea of only getting “intonations” when something is wrong led to the revamp of the customer journey map and some other processes, such as onboarding.
The Pay It Forward Question
“What do you know NOW that you wish you knew THEN?”
- It takes a team: This isn’t individual work. There may be one person at the top of the team/hierarchy, but it all comes from team.
- Don’t say “customer experience belongs to everyone:” It creates diffusion of responsibility and no one does anything. It should belong to every team, but each team/silo needs to know what their deliverables are in relation to customer experience.
- Don’t be afraid to be a change agent: Don’t be afraid to break the habits and processes that existed beforehand. After all, sometimes change isn’t as hard as we think if someone is just willing to take the lead on it.