Scaling a CX Program? Start with the Hustle.


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In this age of the customer, businesses need a rigorous customer feedback program to help understand and improve experiences. But we all know that listening to customers is only the first step in getting an organization to be customer-focused – or even better, customer-obsessed.

David Yin, VP of Consumer Insights and Brand Strategy at Ancestry, knows this well. David took a crawl, walk, run approach to aligning the organization around the Voice of the Customer and galvanize teams into taking action.

David recently shared with me how he gained the momentum needed to scale the impact of a CX program across Ancestry. Here is a summary of David’s approach.

The 3 Pillars of Scaling CX

Getting people on board with a CX program and scaling it requires an evolution through three key pillars: content, culture, and context.

1. Content

First things first, any project that you’re going to build from scratch starts with the hustle. Your new CX project might be an exciting one to you, but because people aren’t familiar with CX, they might not understand it, nor will they know what kind of questions to ask. This is where the hustle comes in because you need to get other team members to care about what customers are saying.

Be proactive in understanding the needs of the organization and what can be reasonably influenced. Find questions that can be measured in real time and that are immediately actionable. CX metrics, questions that measure loyalty like Net Promoter Score or satisfaction like CSAT are questions that anyone in the company can understand and value. These questions are a starting point for getting a foot in the door and producing the right conversations.

According to David, the goal is to be the victim of your own success. Once you’ve gotten people on the right track and they’re starting to see the sheer power of a rigorous customer feedback program, the hope is that they start reaching out to you and coming to you with their own questions.

How do you generate this kind of demand for your knowledge and expertise? In David’s case, he saw that while Ancestry was gathering Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction feedback, teams were focused on the numbers. He realized that the best way to launch his CX initiative would be to start by unlocking qualitative, human data from those survey responses they already had. The goal was to understand the “why” behind the NPS and CSAT metrics.

David was able to get people to become invested in his CX project by “bringing the data to life.” With text and sentiment analytics, he got his organization to look beyond the numerical outcomes of surveys by quantifying themes in verbatim feedback. David paired these analytics with human commentary and quotes to make the data compelling and relatable. As a result, his CX team was able to convey what was most important to Ancestry’s users and align business teams on priorities for improving customer experience.

2. Culture

The next pillar is establishing a consumer-focused culture, and there are four steps to getting there according to David: teach, influence, democratize, and empower.

When you’re first implementing, people often have no idea what the programs is about. And so your role is to be the expert. Your job is to teach people what Voice of Customer data is available and help them understand how they can leverage the information that you’re bringing in.

Once your organization is familiar with Voice of Customer metrics and data, it’s important that you influence people to make them feel comfortable to move in the right direction on their own, building off of what you’ve identified as significant. “It’s proving things out slowly over time,” says David.

Next, you want to democratize. In order to scale the impact of a CX program in your organization, you can’t always be everywhere to help people. So, you want to make sure that all this valuable information is accessible to everyone and that teams feel comfortable reviewing the data and interpreting it for themselves – no more data silos. Having an analytics platform that’s easy to use supports adoption by other teams.

In Ancestry’s case, CSAT scores for some beta products were moving up and down. David invited members of the product team to dig into analysis. David emailed them sample customer quotes, theme data, and a link to access the source data in his CX software platform. They could look at exactly what various segments of users people were saying and determine what and who was driving the score. It was “a real light bulb moment” – people suddenly understood how valuable CX data could be, and they felt empowered to interpret the information for themselves.

Ultimately, your goal should be to make your overall organization feel empowered to ask questions. The insights that arise from asking the questions should galvanize people into action. As David says it, people should feel “empowered to be customer obsessed.”

3. Context

The last of the three pillars. Context. As you’re implementing a CX program, David says it’s important to always keep in mind that you’re building a strong foundation of customer knowledge. Don’t just focus on what’s right in front of you. The insights that you’re getting from your CX program aren’t just going to be considered for a few weeks or a few months; you’re looking for fundamental themes that will influence the business in the long run. This is one reason having a central repository for Voice of Customer data analytics is helpful.

But how do you look at things from a broader perspective? David’s CX software uses machine learning to auto-tag feedback, which automatically categorizes verbatims into specific topics. With this “theme” metadata, he is able to see correlations between topics, sentiment, and business outcomes across sources of feedback, over time, all in one place.

Ultimately, It’s About Keeping the Faith

In the end, to implement a CX program and grow it into something to be respected, “it’s important to always keep on pushing,” says David Yin. When you have a new idea, it’s often hard to get people on board. There’s no denying that. But oftentimes, you just need one person to start the momentum behind a good idea. David likes to quote the entrepreneur Derek Sivers, “The first follower is what transforms a ‘lone-nut’ into a leader.”

As a customer champion, David says he’s an influencer. He works to transfer momentum and a deep customer understanding to the right places. By investing energy in evangelizing customer centricity, a consumer insights team can power improvements in customer experience that span the organization.

Lisa Abbott
Lisa is the former Vice President of Marketing at Wootric, now InMoment. She brings a passion for the customer experience to brand building, and led marketing and customer research teams at Kraft Heinz and HanesBrands. An advocate for digital transformation, Lisa is the editor of the ebook “CX for Every Stage: How to scale your Voice of Customer program from Startup to Enterprise.” Attracting ideal customers and guiding them to success and advocacy is marketing nirvana for her.


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