At the Center of Customer Conversations: Q&A with Pypestream Chief Customer Officer Donna Peeples


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Chief Customer Officers are becoming more common in recent years. According to the CCO Council there were fewer than 20 CCOs in 2003. Now there are hundreds, maybe thousands (although not all using that title) in this role, defined by the CCO Council as:

An executive that provides the comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and creates corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.

Jeanne Bliss, a former CCO herself and now running the consultancy CustomerBLISS, says the CCO role is all about “helping the company earn the right to growth by improving customers’ lives.” To succeed, the CCO must unite the organization to “embed the way they go to market, the way they support customers, the way they enable employees to deliver value.”

Donna Peeples, Pypestream
Donna Peeples, Pypestream

Pypestream, a secure mobile communications platform, recently appointed Donna Peeples as its CCO. Here are five questions I asked Donna about her new position via an email interview.

1. Why does Pypestream need a Chief Customer Officer?
Pypestream recently named me as its first Chief Customer Officer, a role where I have the unique opportunity to work with brands and businesses around the globe to embrace mobile messaging to better engage with their customers.

Creating a great customer experience and having a meaningful dialogue with customers is absolutely vital to the success of brands today. We’re living in the age of the conversational web – where beyond comments on social media – customers want to be able to message brands and businesses in their lives as they would their friends, without having to deal with the traditional pitfalls of customer service.

Pypestream is working with brands across categories to strengthen their relationships with customers through our secure mobile messaging platform. In many cases, we’re also developing automated chat capabilities or chatbots for businesses to be able to provide 24/7 real-time customer service and communication.

My role as CCO is focused on ensuring a profitable customer strategy for Pypestream with a goal of acquiring, retaining and serving the right customers. But most importantly, it’s about putting our customers at the center of everything we do.

As we advise businesses on how to improve CX though mobile messaging and chatbots, we need to make sure we are taking the right approach for their business…one size fits one! Being at the center of the conversation with customers – solving problems and exploring new opportunities – is what I love most about my role.

2. How did your background prepare you for this challenge?

Throughout my 30 year career, I’ve held roles with various organizations with a focus on customer experience, customer service and marketing.

As Chief Customer Officer for AIG Property and Casualty, we were able to achieve and sustain high customer satisfaction rates, despite having to manage though a number of challenges. In my role at AIG, I was responsible for leading our communication, management, service delivery strategies and practices for customers across more than 60 lines of commercial and consumer insurance in more than 130 countries worldwide.

Prior to joining AIG, I held various leadership positions at AGL Resources, Optimum Energy Sources, Peachtree Natural Gas, Shell Energy, Lennox Industries and United Guaranty. In 1996, I also founded Motivated, Inc., a customer experience and sales training company. I am also a member of several boards including the Customer Experience Professionals Association and the Rutgers CX program, where I teach along with you and other experts in the field.

3. What are your key goals? Unique challenges to overcome?

With more than 1.6 billion users worldwide, the opportunity with mobile messaging for brands is massive. Our goal at Pypestream is to help our customers worldwide to maximize that opportunity.

The future is no longer about how you’re going to make your mobile app better, but how are you going to leverage mobile messaging, alongside your other channels to improve the customer experience.

As always, the key to a great CX is delivering experiences that are successful, memorable and easy for the customer, as well as repeatable to achieve scale for the business.

As businesses leverage Pypestream to message with customers, and we develop chatbots, both a challenge and opportunity for us is making sure we partner effectively with brands to deliver a consistently great customer experience. Messaging with any brand should improve customer service, provide solutions, save customers time or aid them with their buying decisions in some way.

4. How will you measure success?

We have a number of metrics in place, but the core focus for us right now is customer growth and delivering a great experience with our platform as businesses onboard their customers.

Since launching in December, more than 12,000 businesses of all sizes from over 65 countries have adopted Pypestream to message with customers, employees and other stakeholder audiences. As Pypestream’s secure global infrastructure scales, brands will be allowed to invite unlimited customers to connect to their Pype.

Another key metric for us is adoption of Pypestream’s artificial intelligence system that automates routine customer service inquiries. These ‘bots’ as they are more popularly known, allow dramatic cost savings for brands and keep the conversation flowing with customers. Conversations can take the form of marketing initiatives like offers, promotions and bill pay to reactive initiatives like customer support and advice.

A key metric for me as CCO is ensuring customer satisfaction throughout their journey – from awareness through onboarding and ultimately advocacy – and maintaining a high bar for the experience on the Pypestream platform. We’re actively listening and so far, the feedback from customers has been tremendous and we’re continuing to apply key learnings as we continue to grow and scale our business.

5. What do you see as a key focus area in the near term?

Mobile messaging needs to be at the forefront of every brand’s agenda today. One of our key focus areas right now is getting the word out about Pypestream and our truly unique value proposition.

Customer service and other interactions you have with businesses shouldn’t require constant searching online, call centers or a clumsy toggling between apps. With Pypestream, consumers can securely chat with the brands in their life as they would their friends – with chatbots helping to provide options or quick answers for common questions inside the message stream.

Investment by Facebook and other players in chatbot platforms is opening up new opportunities – making it easier for consumers to message with brands. But beyond Facebook, there are many other opportunities for brands to leverage messaging for customer service, commerce or other conversational services.

We believe here’s a huge market opportunity for secure business-to-consumer messaging and commerce, incorporating existing platforms and live agents into the chat experience, and we’re just seeing the beginning of that wave.

About Donna Peeples

Pioneering, strategic thinking executive with a dynamic record of driving sustainable growth and managing resources by connecting people, process and technology to deliver business results. Donna Peeples is an accomplished senior executive with extensive P&L responsibility and verifiable results in a variety of industries and global markets. Peeples is a versatile strategist who combines her keen market sense and strong orientation in top line growth and negotiations with her experience, entrepreneurial spirit, and business acumen to transform innovative ideas into profits.

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