#CXPA13 Day One Live Blog: Keynote Tom Feeney, CEO, Safelite AutoGlass


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The Customer Experience Professionals Association annual Member Insight Exchange kicks off this morning in San Diego, CA, at the Hotel del Coronado.

Our first keynote speaker this morning is Tom Feeney, CEO of Safelite AutoGlass. His presentation, “The Road to Success Through People,” is about how Safelite overcame difficult financial conditions to become the dominant auto glass repair company in the country by relentlessly focusing on employees and customers.

Tom kicked off his session by saying that he believes that they have not yet even begun to tap into the greatness within Safelite. Three takeaways he hopes we’ll leave with from his presentation:

  1. Some of the operational changes around feedback and measurement
  2. Lessons learned over time on strategy of putting people first, which positions Safelite for the next transformation of the organization in 2013.
  3. When you put people first, you can correlate to business results.

They operate in a negative services industry, those industries that you don’t think of until you need them. They operate in a low need, low involvement, and low awareness world. But when you do need them, you hope they remember your jingle, remember you. Tough business to be in.

Delighting customers when they have to have the experience is the ticket to revenue growth.”

Creating customer loyalty during the experience is a ticket to referrals, but it’s a long, hard journey.

Safelite Transformation Journey

First chapter of transformation journey: people first
Vision: To become the “natural choice” for vehicle glass replacement and repair services in the United States, where natural choice means to be the one and only company a customer thinks of when they have broken auto glass.

Two important pillars in the roadmap: employees and customers.In the past, Safelite was operationally focused and put shareholders first. To make the change to a customer-driven organization, who comes first: their people come first.

Safelite’s Objective for first stage of transformaion: driving performance with an obsessive focus on talented people inspired to deliver great results.

People first means: leadership, caring, talent, focus. But they needed more detail around that, so they came up with their People Pledge.

Safelite’s People Pledge:

  • You’ll experience great leadership
  • We focus on you first
  • We hire top talent…that includes you
  • You’ll work in a caring culture

Striving for a culture where people are inspired to achieve because they want to, not because they have to.

But leaders must walk the talk! “Leaders are expected to cast a positive shadow.”

Safelite uses NPS as their key metrics because the best way for them to get new business is through referrals. For NPS to truly work for Safelite, it must be more than a score – rather a way of life, part of their DNA.

To transition to NPS, they had to change their vocabulary, from “customer satisfaction” to “customer delight.” Satisfaction is just not good enough any more. They must turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, to differentiate their service. But they also had to have the people to deliver this service. “Delight” is a powerful word and really kicked off a transformation in how their people delivered service.

Employees don’t mind if you raise the bar, as long as they are involved in the decision and get recognition for doing good things.

Customer Delight Lessons

  • Leadership training is just as important as field training.
  • Spread the “best to the rest” (share best practices in peer-to-peer training)
  • Measure and communicate at the individual level
  • Align awards and compensation with desired behavior
  • Celebrate successes

For “best to the rest,” they engage in “boot to boost to boot camp.” Low performers go to boot camp, where top performers share best practices and teach what they do. Then everyone attends “boost” for further training across the board. And finally, top performers are then brought into boot camp again.

Their philosophy in celebrating successes: “over-recognize, over-celebrate… but be authentic about it. Otherwise, you will lose your organization.”

Three key metrics told them when they were ready to move to the next level of transformation: employee engagement scores, NPS, sales and profits.

The higher the level of employee engagement leads to higher business results/performance. It’s millions of dollars on the bottom line, without raising prices, cutting costs, or acquiring new business.

Their NPS moved 14 points in five years, which Tom attributes to:

  • People first
  • Changing vocabulary from “satisfaction” to “delight”
  • Creating a belief in associates that they have greatness within them
  • Following their roadmap for cultural transformation

Second chapter of transformation journey: customer driven

Second stage of transformation: moving from operationally-focused to customer-driven organization. New vocabulary from “people first” to “people powered” and “customer driven.”

Most transformations are “evolution” and not “revolution.” Safelite is evolving as a company and transforming along the way.

The difference between “people first” and “people powered.”

  • “People first” became about me; “people powered” is about the organization.

New objective: drive business performance by putting people first and having an obsessionve focus on having talented people who are inspired to deliver great results. Through…

  • Engagement
  • Talent
  • Leadership development

Customer-driven means to achieve extraordinary results by looking at the business through they eyes of the customer, making us easy to do business with, and ensuring their experience is memorable.

Four elements to a customer-driven strategy:

  • Listen
  • Focus
  • Delight
  • Create

A critical piece of this part of the transformation: change how you think and change the priority of your thoughts.

Individuals can delight customers, but it takes an entire organization to be customer driven.”

A key part of being customer driven is being memorable. This is their associate’s pledge: Service so great… it’s memorable

60 days in, they have found that this is creating a sense of purpose for their jobs. It will likely be a huge part of increasing engagement, as it leads to greater pride in their jobs.

Why is memorable better than delight? “Memories are important because they last.” If you remember the experience, that leads to referrals, which are critically important to Safelite business.

No matter where you are on your journey, there is always a customer waiting to be amazed.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


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