Building a Customer Experience Program in the Middle of a Pandemic


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Why build a Customer Experience (CX) program in the middle of a pandemic? The answer is simple as CX is critical to better understanding of a customer’s end-to-end journey with a product and/or service. In fact, some would use the term “essential” to describe CX which is why, at the start of a global pandemic, F5 built a corporate CX program despite the unknown challenges ahead.

As a business-to-business cybersecurity company which recently completed two acquisitions, we strove to design a comprehensive CX program that would help identify areas where customers experience friction along their journey and using the insights to prioritize and anticipate existing and new customer needs.

Our CX program is grounded in customer insights, engagement, communication, and advocacy. We knew that if we were able to address the main points of friction, we could make the necessary improvements to become a strategic partner and assist with efforts to keep our customer’s networks, data, and employees safe.

Striking the right balance

When it comes to CX, our environment as a cybersecurity company is quite complex compared to our colleagues in less technical areas such as hospitality and retail. Yes, we both have a need to understand and predict what it takes to gain a customer’s partnership and loyalty. But earning that loyalty (and keeping it!) by creating inspiring and memorable moments, without the noise, can become a challenge in the business-to-business technology space.

For a cybersecurity company, you have to strike a balance between creating memorable moments and informing customers of potential threats.

Finding that balance and focusing on the timing of customer communications is critical to ensuring program success. When do you communicate? How often? And is the communication relevant?” It’s crucial to find the right balance of keeping customers informed, safe and happy. Customer communications plays a key role in achieving this goal.

Keeping it real in a virtual world

An outstanding CX program focuses on customer’s outcomes first, not business outcomes. You’re better equipped to communicate and meet the customer on their level, which will help you better understand their goals when you lead with empathy. Many companies miss the opportunity for genuine engagement that helps to build trust and loyalty by neglecting to bring a human-first mindset into the discussion.

We know our customers are multitasking with home schooling and daily work duties while also experiencing video meeting fatigue. It’s important to ensure we are engaging with our customers for the right reasons, the reasons that are important to them, not to us.

An internal transformation

As with any CX program, it’s crucial to not only build a competent team but it’s even more important to garner executive support.

Having the support of our CEO, François and our entire Leadership Team made the launch of our CX Program much easier than it would have been had I attempted to walk the virtual halls and evangelize CX on my own. One of our key F5 Corporate Imperatives for FY 2021 is “To Transform How Customers Experience F5. Creating that imperative was intentional, so everyone in the company would have a clear focus and feel empowered to lead with a customer-first mindset. By setting goals tied to actual customer outcomes, we’re creating the alignment with our customers that our executive leadership wants to see.”

How you identify and measure those goals is up to you. For F5, we’ve identified three key metrics to initially focus on: Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), and Customer Churn rate. We’ve also leveraged an existing partnership with Gainsight to gather qualitative and quantitative customer feedback.

The feedback we gather from customers will help us integrate our newly acquired companies and our collective portfolio. Long after the pandemic is over, we’ll have the insights needed to demonstrate our customer obsession and develop long-term valued partnerships.

Francine Johnson
Johnson has nearly two decades of experience leading enterprise and consumer companies across inside/outside sales, global services, training, customer success and customer experience. Johnson is passionate about giving back to the community and working with programs to empower, coach and mentor young women from various backgrounds and ethnicities. She has also helped coach adult women in a variety of career fields and is an avid proponent of expanding the reach to diversified candidates in the field of technology.


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