Q&A: B2B Customer Experience Conversation with Avnet’s Peggy Carrieres About Supply Chain Challenges, Capturing the Voice of Customer, and More!

One of the best ways to overcome obstacles is to fall back on your community and brainstorm solutions together. That’s why InMoment hosts regular Experience Exchanges to help customer experience (CX) professionals do just that. 

InMoment XI Strategist Jim Katzman had the opportunity to sit down with Peggy Carrieres, Global Vice President of Sales Enablement and Supplier Development for Avnet and electronics components-industry expert. 

In the conversation, she offered insight into how B2B brands can create transparency, combat supply chain challenges, redefine “customer loyalty,” and drive trust for customers who face an increasingly complex supply chain in one of the most volatile market cycles in recent history.

Our Conversation with Peggy Carrieres of Avnet

Jim: Great to see you again, Peggy! I’d like to start the conversation about the connection between the supply chain challenges many B2B companies are facing and how these challenges affect loyalty. What role does Experience Improvement play here, and how? 

Peggy: I have been in this industry for over 25 years, and back then, it was all about process-focused engineering and technology—and that’s great. Still, we’ve seen the pervasiveness of electronics, and everything we use—from work to play—is packed with technology to make our lives easier. 

For example, a simple light bulb used to house a filament and now has many semiconductors in it. It’s a huge industry and growing like crazy, but over time, it has gotten incredibly complex.

Our product goes to 40 countries to get to market, and we sit in the middle of the value chain between suppliers and customers. 

We’re a value-added distributor with almost 2K engineers globally who work on designing a journey to help our customers get their products to market in a complex supply chain. But at the end of the day, what we’ve found from our trend data since we started our CX program back in 2014 is that relationships still matter. That is probably the most significant lesson in our voice of customer journey: relationships can drive so many other factors in your business, and if you miss the boat, you are going to miss your customer. 

Jim: We all know about supply chain challenges, but in the semiconductor industry specifically, can you talk about how or what role agility plays?

Peggy: It’s important to know that this industry, by nature, is cyclical; it ebbs and flows about every four years and is driven by technology.  What we’re seeing today is different and more complex and has permanent changes to initially temporary solutions. Early 2020 COVID-19 hit but didn’t drive the situation yet, but as it became more and more complex, its influence grew. 

Avnet is a broad-line distributor, operating in over 140 countries globally in every region. We are able to move our customer’s demands from one country to another quickly.  So when you put that through a CX lens, I would say in this industry, what we’ve learned is that it’s imperative to understand global and cultural norms and how people get work done on a day-to-day basis in different cultures.

A lot of the hiccups that happen in B2B are due to miscommunication. We’ve learned that being agile through our supply chain means distributors like Avnet become the control tower, creating transparency across the full product lifecycle.  If you think about it, a customer may have 300 suppliers to purchase from to get their product to market. Their demand signal can be diluted, but because we have established relationships with suppliers, we can get the early warning and adjust to be flexible in our supply chain with our clients.  I don’t think this is a temporary standard; it’s going to completely change how we get business done on a daily basis. 

Jim: Would you say Avnet is like a hub for those 300 suppliers? 

Peggy: Absolutely, 100% I do—a global hub! We have customers who’ve engaged with us that haven’t traditionally engaged with “the channel” and who prefer or even try to go direct to the supplier, but the process is so complex it’s just very difficult. They can’t physically manage every supplier and every step of bringing their products to market, so they come to us. 

Jim: Since Avnet is a global company, you have many different cultures to navigate. How do you listen for, understand, and drive action to counter the communication problems you may encounter due to those differences? 

Peggy: That has been one of the most significant values of our voice of customer program. When we started it, we wanted to build a coalition in every country, but every country did its own thing and tracked its own trends over time.

It’s essential to give the feedback to someone who has context and insight into that culture. For example, we have one response that came through in Hebrew, and our translation team couldn’t translate it. So, I took it to someone who is Israeli, who works on our team here in Phoenix, and who knew the context. She relayed that the feedback was such an endearing phrase that no translation can convey its special meaning. 

This experience taught me that we need global understanding and empathy across. However, we also need context in regions and countries that offer nuance because it’s hard to hear those things sometimes. 

We do that in a consultative manner, and by doing that, over time, our teams have been conditioned to get that feedback and use it to drive revenue and benefit, our teams have made that connection, and it has been highly successful. 

Jim: How does customer experience play a role in how Avnet deals with global supply-chain challenges?

Peggy: The market will change—we are seeing signs of it now. Who the customer is can also change over time. We’re the largest revenue-generated AZ-based company, with 45% in Asia, 30% in Europe, and 25% in the US, so we’re well-balanced. But from the perspective of customer experience and relationships, we needed more. 

We did a cross-correlation with NPS and what has the most uplift in “loyalty,” which is a term I hate because it can change quickly depending on how you react and respond. However, the pillars and drivers for us are ease of doing business, the quality of products and services, and, at the end of the day, how we engage with customers matters. 

For instance, how we respond to a customer’s challenge will be remembered when a customer’s partnership is on the line. I am their advocate to our supplier base; being present at the table to show them I care is mission-critical. These relationships are what drive the B2B space. 

Jim: Yes, I learned that when the executive escalation call comes in, you first hit mute and listen for pockets where you can fix something, even if it’s not everything. I think the key is honing your skill of listening to encompass the whole pain point and resisting the urge to jump in immediately at the first sign of distress.

Peggy: Right, and we’ve seen a complete shift in the focus of this industry. Raw materials, labor, and logistics all cost more now, and so we’ve had to change an industry’s discussion.  It used to be from the total cost down to total price, but now it’s the total cost of ownership, which is the assurance of supply and mitigating risk for our client. 

The conversation has shifted, and if we didn’t have a finger on the pulse of the market and work collectively with our customers, we would’ve missed the boat. If you just show a price increase without offering a conversation, you’ve hurt your relationship as well, and you don’t just come back from that. 

Jim: One thing I hear from our clients is that it’s hard to capture the B2B voice. I’d love to hear how you think and process capturing that flavor in your design approach and how Avnet built its relationship survey with the employee experience in mind. 

Peggy: The value of feedback is trends over time, so one thing we do (as we know who our demographics are) is we have the customers self-identify their role in the organization. We’ve got buyers, engineers, executives, and supply chain materials, and because they see the relationship differently at each level, it’s important to know the perspective behind the individual feedback.

I own our design tools and capabilities, and I focused specifically on the feedback from customer engineers. One thing that has been valuable is we ask them in a simple survey if they’d like to opt-in for a focus group, and we’ve had a pretty good response there. This volunteer participation allows us to quickly pose further and more profound questions to that group about what we’re developing at Avnet.  So, I think it’s important to ask customers to self-identify because every company is different in B2B. A supply chain person in one company may be completely different from a supply chain person in another.

Another thing we are seeing is what we call “customer lifecycle convergence,” where the supply chain and design chain are becoming more integrated than ever before, so you have to be in touch with both of those voices if you want to be successful. 

Jim: So, do you have different relationship questions for the different audiences you’ve identified?

Peggy: We actually just did a voice of the engineering survey, and what we found was that 93% said they spent the majority of their time looking for parts and needed someone to help them.  With this, we were able to develop a new design process based on the current state of the market and trained the field application engineers to use that process.  

In return, our revenue, that’s tied to what we call demand creation, has really increased over the last two years. So having that outside-in perspective and then changing the approach and the selling motion had a huge benefit for us.

That’s a Wrap!

This B2B Experience Exchange was packed with valuable insights about the supply chain challenges. Additionally, awesome employee experience insights also packed a powerful punch in this conversation, and we’ll be including those as part two! Look out for our next quarterly experience exchange, and in the meantime, check out this Guide to building a customer-centric B2B  experience.

XI Café Podcast, Episode 5: How New Zealand Automobile Association Uses Voice of the Customer to Optimize Engagement, Retention and Satisfaction

Welcome back to the XI Café Podcast! In order to continue Experience Improvement, the XI Café Podcast was created so that CX program owners around the world could join the conversation and learn from global businesses and industry experts about the latest experience improvement innovations in technology and research services, industry and market expertise, and customer (CX) and employee (EX) engagement best practices.

In the latest episode of the XI Café Podcast, we interviewed Marina Strbac, who leads the Membership Experience Team at the New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA). Marina is a people-focused, data-informed professional with a passion for customer-centric marketing. 

Here are some of the questions and answers we covered:

Q: What is the structure of the membership experience team at NZAA?

A: Marina leads a small team of four diverse humans from vastly different backgrounds—UX/UI design, math, and marketing all combined together to create optimized experiences for NZAA members. When it came to pitching and embedding an insights-to-action VoC program, the whole team worked together to implement an experience improvement program that would eventually support 1 million+ New Zealanders! 

Q: How did you get the NZAA Voice of Customer Program off the ground and what were the bumps on the way?

A: The team leveraged all their skill sets and adapted as they progressed.

The initiative changed as business circumstances changed. Originally, the team aimed to set up a company-wide VoC program, and eventually, the team pivoted toward a membership-only, journey focused VoC program that was approved by the wider business. Three months later, the program went live! 

Q: You now have a VoC program in place with a large volume of data flowing in. Marketers are somewhat overwhelmed with the vast array of data points already available (website, emails,…) how do you integrate VoC data for marketing purposes?

A: From Marina’s perspective, there’s no need to be overwhelmed by data—instead, ask yourself a few questions. Which insights/data points matter the most? Why do they matter the most? Qualify both of these against your business strategy and business goals. Take your own perception out of it, and instead re-focus on the wider business strategy. 

Once you have the answers, data and insights are pretty straightforward. Measure the baseline of the data points you’re interested in, set up a test and learn matrix, and keep going with reiteration— remove things that don’t work, and keep those that do. Remember that context is important, so do what you can to be data and insight INFORMED, not merely data driven.

In practice, NZAA identified that the “onboarding” member journey was important to track. The team knew engagement was dropping—and with membership retention as a key metric for the business, this was an important challenge to tackle. There were a lot of hypotheses from different people in the business, but ultimately the team needed to understand the “why” behind the onboarding challenge. With that in mind, the team pushed beyond open rates and click through rates, and set key metrics for customer intelligence. NPS, CSAT, and sentiment measures were set and with verbatims on top, understanding the WHY behind engagement drop became easier. Now, the team has the business data overlaid with VoC data, and they can see a fuller picture—they learned it’s a whole lot more complex than the original hypothesis. Through a test-and-learn approach, the membership team is driving optimisations based around justified prioritization.

Q: What was the “aha” moment that made you realise the potential of adding customer data to your marketing decision making process?

A: With 15+ years of experience, and over ten years in direct-to-customer, Marina has always integrated insights into communications and campaigns, and she acknowledges that customer data points at our disposal have evolved. You now need to overlay business data, operational data, and customer insights to get a full picture. The entire business capability needs to be lifted to enable customer centric marketing endeavors. Marketers need propensity models, a well-oiled marketing automation platform, and prioritized test-and-learn matrics just to name a few. As a marketer, you can’t build these alone. 

The aha moments happen when you’re working with other parts of the business, connecting the dots and asking questions like, “is it correlation or causation?” With a focus on customer actions and the passion for creating better experiences, you’ll constantly have those ‘aha’ moments. Curiosity tangents should be encouraged as that is usually where the magic happens.

Q: How are you planning to further grow your VoC program to improve the effectiveness of your marketing?

A: Next up for NZAA is strategic customer journey mapping! The business will identify key pain points and validate these with operational data. Of course, all different business units will have varying opinions, but NZAA will use business and VoC data to validate these. 

Where to Find the XI Café Podcast

You can listen to the podcast on SpotifyAmazon Music, and Apple Podcasts. But, if you are eager to jump right in then you can click the play button below to start listening to this week’s episode!

More of a visual person? No worries. You can also find the video recordings off the XI Café Podcast on our YouTube channel!

Embracing Consumer Duty to Deliver Positive Outcomes for the UK Financial Services Sector

The new FCA Consumer Duty is intended to improve customer outcomes and promote better customer experiences in the financial industry in the United Kingdom (UK) by setting higher and clearer standards of consumer protection. By prioritising customer interests and designing products and services that meet their needs, firms can create more positive and beneficial experiences for customers.

What Is Consumer Duty?

Consumer Duty Principle, proposed by FCA, is a significant new legislation for the UK Financial Services sector. The legislation aims to set a consistent and increased standard of care to customers, and mandates organisations to put the needs of the customer first. 

What Are the Details of the New FCA Consumer Duty?

The FCA Consumer Duty has three golden rules that every UK financial organisation will need to adhere to:

  1. Act in Good Faith Towards Customers: Organisations are required to act in the best interests of their customers and prioritise their interests over their own. They must also ensure that their products and services meet the needs of their customers.
  1. Allow and Support Customers to Pursue their Financial Objectives: Organisations must design their products and services to meet the needs of their customers and ensure they are fit for purpose. They must also ensure that their pricing is transparent, fair, and not misleading.
  1. Avoid Causing Foreseeable Harm to Customers: Organisations must provide clear and accessible information to their customers about their products and services, including any risks associated with them. This includes communicating in plain language and avoiding jargon or technical terms that customers may not understand.

How Will the Act Benefit Consumers and Financial Organisations?

If you get it right, our experts at InMoment foresee the Consumer Duty Principle bringing many benefits to consumers and financial organisations alike, such as: 

  • Customer Trust and Loyalty: Putting the customer’s interests first can lead to increased customer satisfaction, positive word-of-mouth, and repeat business.
  • Efficiency and Effectiveness: By designing products and services that meet the needs of your customers, you are likely to see increased efficiency and effectiveness in your business operations. This can lead to cost savings and improved profitability.
  • Brand Image and Reputation: By promoting responsible business practices and prioritising customer outcomes, you can enhance your company’s reputation as a socially responsible and ethical business.

Consumer Duty + Experience Improvement = Customer Centricity! 

Customer experience (CX) platforms can help financial services organisations comply with the FCA Consumer Duty more effectively by helping them better understand their customers’ needs, improve their products and services, and ensure that they are acting in their customers’ best interests. With an integrated CX approach of leveraging the right data, technology, and CX expertise you can take the right action to comply with Consumer Duty in the following ways:

  • Data Management: Managing customer data more efficiently helps to better understand your customers’ needs and preferences, which is essential to designing products and services that meet those needs.
  • AI-powered Analytics: Analysing customer behaviour and preferences helps you identify areas for improvement and make adjustments to products and services in order to better serve customers.
  • Communication Management: Managing communications with customers more efficiently ensures that they receive clear and accessible information about your products and services and  any concerns or questions can be addressed immediately.
  • Compliance Management: Tracking compliance activities ensures that all customer interactions are recorded and monitored and reported correctly and efficiently. 

Five Ways Financial Organisations Can Prepare for Consumer Duty

To comply with Consumer Duty, better technology, data management, and improving customer experiences will be crucial to the success of every financial organisation in the UK. At the onset and in the future, it will be necessary to make experiences, compliance, and reporting processes more efficient. Here’s a few ways InMoment ca help you to prepare and ensure your organisation is set up for success.  

#1: Proactively Detect Consumer Intent to Complain

Ensure you respond to complaints. Simplify the process by applying a tool that automatically identifies and alerts you to those customers who intend to complain or even switch providers. Using InMoments AI-powered technology, those customers who intend to complain, but have not yet done so, can be flagged, with a formal case raised to resolve their issue, avoiding a formal complaint and potential fine.

#2: Comprehensive Review and Audit of Survey and Listening Posts

Start a comprehensive review and audit of all of your existing survey and listening posts, ensuring you are asking the right questions and capturing the most appropriate metrics in regards to consumer duty. We can provide actionable recommendations to ensure your listening posts are set up to deliver the right outcomes, and that your surveys are WCAG 2.0 compliant.

#3: Evaluate and Solve Compliance Issues at Scale 

Delivering consistent and compliant customer communications can feel like a daunting task. We can help you evaluate all structured, semi structured, and unstructured communication to advise if each piece of communication is compliant with the consumer duty before they go live, providing recommendations for areas of improvement. 

#4: Create Seamless Experiences for Your Most Vulnerable Customers 

It is critical that your most vulnerable customers continue to have a seamless experience with your brand. Our technology can automatically alert you to any aspects of your customer journey that are not providing an inclusive experience. Through our unique Consumer Duty Taxonomy consisting of DEI, Compliance, and the Financial Services Industry Pack, we can identify those customers who are NOT getting the right outcomes, and provide recommendations on how to improve their experience.

#5: Combine a Compliance Focus With a Customer-Centric Culture

The most successful brands will be those that focus on enhancing their customer-centric culture, putting the customer at the heart of all decision making, rather than focusing only on a compliance- first approach. Celebrate and socialise positive customer experiences, champion positive customer outcomes across the entire organisation.

If you’d like to learn more about how InMoment can help, please reach out to voc@inmoment.com or click here to read our full consumer duty solution brief!

XI Café Podcast, Episode 4: Launching a VoC Program With State Revenue Office Victoria

Welcome back to the XI Café Podcast! In order to continue Experience Improvement, the XI Café Podcast was created so that CX program owners around the world could join the conversation and learn from global businesses and industry experts about the latest experience improvement innovations in technology and research services, industry and market expertise, and customer (CX) and employee (EX) engagement best practices.

In this episode of the XI Café Podcast, we’re talking to State Revenue Office Victoria (SRO) Customer Experience Manager, Desmond Strydom. Desmond has over a decade of experience in this field, and in his current role, he has spearheaded and launched the VoC program at SRO. Desmond will talk about the SRO journey of launching a new VoC program, gaining support from leadership, and some of the early success stories the team has seen.

Where to Find the XI Café Podcast

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify, Amazon Music, and Apple Podcasts. But, if you are eager to jump right in then you can click the play button below to start listening to this week’s episode!

5 Reasons To Get Tickets to the 2023 XI Forum Sydney or Singapore!

It’s that time of year again! XI Forum Sydney and Singapore are back and this year, they’re jam-packed with hands-on demonstrations, workshops, and interactive opportunities to help you extract tangible value from our speakers, as well as gain applicable knowledge for your experience program. 

Here are five reasons why you should save your spot today:

Reason #1: Implement ‘Integrated CX’ for Your Brand

What is integrated CX? Not only is this the theme of our upcoming XI Forums, but it’s also InMoment’s approach to help businesses take action on their customer experience initiatives to ultimately deliver measurable business outcomes. 

Integrated CX connects critical aspects of a successful customer experience, including:

  • Integrated Signals: Bringing together the voice of customers and not-yet customers across the full customer journey from surveys, chats, reviews, calls, etc.
  • Integrated Insights: Delivering both leading innovative technology and strategic expertise to deliver ROI
  • Integrated Action: The ultimate goal is to eliminate any and all silos that exist in many companies, facilitating a coordinated, data-driven approach to prioritising which action will get your business the best results

Discover what integrated signals, integrated insights, and integrated actions can do for your experience program.

Reason #2: Learn From Award-Winning Speakers

The 2023 speaker line up has been announced and the content is more practical than ever. Joining us on stage, we have:

  • InMoment’s Chief Product Officer, Sandeep Garg taking delegates through how integrated CX applies to your experience program
  • Craveable Brand’s Chief Customer Officer, Jess Gill will share Oporto, Red Rooster, and Chicken Treat’s journey to shift their culture toward customer centricity and the wins they’ve had as a result. 
  • Downer New Zealand’s National Customer Experience and Marketing Manager, Scott Wilson and HR Business Partner, Jake Barker. Together, they will share how these two business units work together to make experiences better for both customers AND employees.  
  • Aesop’s Voice of the Customer Global Program Manager, Jason Katsambiris will take delegates through what it takes to run a global VoC program across different languages, cultures, and markets— designing a program that ingests and makes sense of linguistically dispersed customer signals to enable customer engagement at scale.
  • Fonterra’s VoC Program Manager, Roshena de Leon. Through embedding an integrated experience program, Roshena will share with delegates her experience driving CX collaboration across teams, using simple frameworks to drive sustainable change.
  • Commonwealth Super Corporation’s Customer Experience and Insights Manager, Katie Bogg, will host a workshop designed to give you hands-on experience on getting your program noticed from frontline employees, buy-in from C-suite executives, gaining momentum for customer-led initiatives, and anchoring your program around an elevator pitch for experience improvement success. 
  • legalsuper’s Data, Insights, and CX Manager, Eslam Affifi—after winning last year’s CX Award for using data to unlock customer insights, Eslam will help you understand the “why” behind your program, and the challenges that legalsuper overcame to build out its experience improvement program.
  • InMoment’s Director of Experience Improvement, Josh Marans will teach delegates how InMoment launched our own internal award-winning experience improvement program, and the mistakes you can avoid when launching yours.

Reason #3: Network With Your Peers

Network with 100+ senior CX practitioners from the region’s leading brands. That’s right—there will be plenty of opportunities to meet new people and create new connections throughout the day and learn from their unique experiences. 

Reason #4: The Conference Is More Practical Than Ever

XI Forum Sydney and Singapore have a reputation for being the most practical conference in the APAC region. The conference is designed to give you a behind-the-scenes look at some of Australia’s best performing experience programs, and take learnings from the experts to apply to your program from day one. You will discover CX resources, client stories, frameworks, and methodologies that will be revealed to delegates for the first time. 

Reason #5: We’re Coming to a City Near You! 

This year we’ve added another location to the XI Forum APAC tour—we’ll be visiting Sydney and Singapore! 

What are you waiting for? We would love to have you join us at one of these locations:

XI Forum Sydney: 15th March 2023

XI Forum Singapore: 24th March 2023

Any questions we didn’t answer here? Reach out to infoapac@inmoment.com

The Elements You Need for A Successful CX Program

We’ve evaluated the pros and cons of primary reporting locations for the customer experience (CX) function and ideal CX leader qualities in previous articles, “Where Should CX Live Within An Organization?” and “Does Who’s Driving the CX Bus Make a Difference?

It’s now time to discuss the organizational elements that are necessary for CX to thrive in an organization (regardless of the reporting structure your organization chooses or the characteristics of the person leading the CX function).

We utilize a continuous improvement framework with our clients that starts with the principle of “design with the end in mind.” This means achieving one or more of the four key economic pillars: acquiring more customers, keeping more customers (reducing churn), growing lifetime customer value (CLV), or reducing cost to serve.

The Five Stages of the Continuous Improvement framework:

Stage #1: Design

Clearly design an experience strategy that aligns with overall company goals and brand promise, driving customer outcomes.

Stage #2: Listen

Thoughtfully deploy modern listening strategies and data integrations across the journey to expand and enhance an integrated view and holistic customer understanding.

Stage #3: Understand

Consolidate all data streams and leverage advanced analytics to identify where and how to act (and the anticipated impact on customer outcomes).

Stage #4: Transform

Create & implement dynamic action plans, training, and policies that facilitate organizational change (and promote activities that drive customer outcomes).

Stage #5: Realize

Evaluate and demonstrate results of experience initiatives including (but not limited to) organizational change, improved metrics, and financial impact.

Building the Foundation for A Successful CX Program: Moving Beyond the Continuous Improvement Framework

Beyond those five core stages, though, there are certain foundational and organizational elements that must be present for CX to thrive in your company.

What these additional elements suggest is that customer experience is a team sport that requires the participation, alignment, and coordination of the entire organization—and that your success will be limited if it is a grassroots effort and not a strategy led and supported by the executive leadership team. That alignment and shared understanding is vital to CX success, and by extension, the wider success of your entire organization.

Our hope is that this three-part series has given you much to consider about your organization’s customer experience efforts. Based on what we see in the marketplace, too many programs are still stuck in the Listen and Understand stages and have not figured out how to get organized to break down silos in order to drive effective improvement efforts or don’t have the executive leadership and buy-in to facilitate this. Breaking down these silos, both in terms of the organizational design as well as internal data structures, requires executive leadership engagement and strategies to enable a single view of the customer.

Driving ROI from your customer experience efforts continues to be the biggest conversation in the CX community and the greatest challenge for most companies. And your C-Level executives, board and shareholders expect this.

Being organized properly, having the right people with the skill sets that we discussed in place, migrating your culture to one of customer-centricity and getting organizational alignment on what customers need and how to best, and most efficiently, meet these desires is really tough work. But it is critical to have all of these elements in place in order to drive the best CX outcomes. And the companies that can do this are the ones that stand to reap the greatest benefits in terms of future revenue and market share growth and long-term profitability.

Does Who’s Driving the CX Bus Make A Difference?

The success of your CX effort is determined not only by where it lives within your organization, but also by who’s heading up the program and driving its goals, actions, and direction within your company.

This job isn’t easy and not for the faint-of-heart; frankly, CX leaders often end up working against what is natural for an organization. Most businesses are organized into silos: marketing, sales, operations, customer care, HR, IT, finance, etc. These silos all have their own priorities, goals, and KPIs. But customer experience is a ribbon that cuts across these silos, and an effective CX program ensures that hand-offs between silos are clean and that no facet of the customer experience falls into the cracks.

More specifically, marketing drives awareness of your products and solutions, and sets the expectations for how they work and what to expect. Sales sells the vision and aligns the products and services against customer needs. Product development and operations have to deliver against those expectations. IT and the digital team have to provide the tools to keep employees and customers informed and educated, while HR has to get the right people in the right roles to deliver the customer experience.

What to Look for in a CX Bus Driver

A CX leader needs to drive cross-functional alignment, build relationships that elicit cooperation, and break down organizational silos to create coordination across the entire customer journey. They must accomplish this task despite not owning most, if not all, of the departments that ultimately deliver that desired experience.

Again; not for the faint-of-heart.

After decades of leading and guiding CX at multiple companies across multiple industries—and learning our fair share of hard-knock lessons along the way—we’ve landed on eight requirements for successful CX leaders:

  • Willingness to be a change agent
  • Executive presence and sensibility
  • Ability to build cross-functional relationships
  • Lead by influence and persuasion
  • Strong communication skills
  • Analytical and data-driven
  • Financial acumen
  • Results-oriented problem solver

Clearly, these skills are all heavily intertwined, as a CX leader must have strong communication skills to build relationships and influence executive leaders. They must be data-driven with strong financial instinct to convince leadership to change behaviors or to take new actions (building a strong relationship with the CFO and their team is a smart early move).

Looking At The Road Ahead

The success or failure of a CX program depends on many factors: the strategy and goals defined at the onset, the internal commitment to improvements, the executives, the employees, and the foundational and organizational elements that are in place. CX success also hinges upon appointing a leader who is an effective communicator and can sell a vision, create alignment based
on shared business goals, and curate a shared understanding of customer needs, expectations, and journeys.

CX leaders must have the will and influence to drive demonstrable culture change, improvement, and ROI no matter where they report within the company.

Customer experience is a team sport that requires the participation, alignment, and coordination of the entire organization. But the skills and personality of the CX leader and their ability to sell a vision, as well as use data and storytelling to persuade others to change is critical as well. It’s not easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

Look for the next article on the other organizational elements that need to be present beyond the CX leader and core team. We’ll come full circle on what all you need to ensure Experience Improvement (XI) for your customers, your employees, and your greater marketplace presence.

Where Should Customer Experience (CX) Teams Live Within An Organization?

Oftentimes, CX practitioners will discuss the best reporting position for a core CX team to give an organization the best chance for Customer Experience (CX) success. Here at InMoment, we’ve seen far too many instances of programs turning into (or frankly never becoming more than) measurement-only programs no matter where they live within an organization. 

After working with many of the world’s best brands for over two decades, we’ve seen CX teams report to the CMO, the COO, and directly to the president/CEO at various points—this conversation made us think about what impact the reporting relationship has on CX success. Is there one best place for CX to live, or can it be successful in multiple areas?

More importantly, it made us think that, in addition to where the function reports, there are other organizational factors that contribute to program success. The skills and characteristics of the person spearheading the CX efforts matter a great deal as well.

Is There An Optimal Organizational Position for Your CX Team?

Regardless of where your CX team lives, the team must remain unbiased and have the purview to work cross-functionally in order to drive collaboration and break down silos. Without that organizational freedom and neutrality, the team’s efforts are already handcuffed and chances of CX success are greatly diminished.

While many companies have added a seat at the table for a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) or Chief Experience Officer (CXO) in recent years, we still see most CX functions report to either marketing (the CMO) or operations (the COO). There are pros and cons to each of these reporting relationships:

The Pros and Cons of Your CX Team Reporting to Marketing & the CMO: 


  • Tied More Closely to the brand promise of the organization (since CX is the fulfillment of that promise)
  • Tied more closely to the communication function. Too many CX functions don’t think about the role communication plays in the overall experience, but this is where the customer expectations get set
  • Part of a more holistic view of the company and the customer journey
  • Marketing (or strategy) is more likely to consider the experience of the future as opposed to only today’s experience


  • May be too far removed from the actual frontline customer interactions, so it can be more difficult to implement change
  • Often too closely tied to marketing’s priorities and budget
  • Can marketing enforce an effective closed-loop process if that work happens elsewhere in the organization?
  • Marketing is often more focused on customer acquisition and top-of-funnel activities

The Pros and Cons of Your CX Team Reporting to Operations & the COO:


  • More closely tied to frontline customer interactions
  • Typically has good success with enforcing a strong closed-loop process (if staffed and funded properly)
  • Operations typically focused and measured on customer retention


  • Unless digital and call centers report to the COO, the program can get too focused on in-person or physical interactions
  • Can be too focused on break/fix of today’s experience and not focused on overall CX strategy, process redesign, or experience design. Programs can get very tactical
  • Susceptible to budget cuts and quarterly targets, whereas CX tends to be a medium-to-long term proposition

The Pros and Cons of Your CX Team Reporting to Executives Such as the CEO:


  • Easier alignment to executive goals and buy-in
  • Budget is set aside specifically for one purpose and can have less constraints
  • Easier to build relationships around CX with each department to break down silos


  • Difficult to get all departments aligned to taking action as they can be seen as an outsider
  • More difficult to be in synch with the day-to-day business rhythm
  • Focus often on medium- or long-term initiatives while peers focus on quarterly results

Customizing CX Team Organization: Considerations for Success

In terms of the reporting relationship of the CX function, one size doesn’t fit all. Every organization, leadership dynamic, employee culture, and business is different. We mentioned above that we have led CX reporting to the CMO, reporting to the COO, and as an independent function. What we learned is that it can be successful in any of these reporting relationships, though we suggest it has a head start if it reports into the predominant power core of the organization.

Some companies are operations-led, others are sales & marketing-led, while others are product-led. Tying CX to the true cultural and power core of the company, though it brings some of the bias mentioned above, aligns it better with the core of the company.

Regardless of where your CX function reports, there are key organizational elements that must be present and the CX leader also has to have certain key skills, strengths and characteristics for it to be successful.

Keep an eye out for two subsequent discussions in this series to learn more about what those elements and success drivers are. In the meantime, compare your current CX structure to the pros and cons laid out above to consider what your reporting structure’s strengths and weaknesses are. You may find that it’s time for a change; if so, don’t be afraid to enact it and thus drive greater Experience Improvement success!

5 Tips For Choosing the Right Survey Rating Scale

You’re sitting down to carve out the newest survey in your customer experience (CX) program. You know what touchpoint you’re examining, what you’re hoping to learn, and what questions you’re going to ask. Now it’s time to settle on the survey rating scale you’ll use.

Unsure of which scale to choose? I’m Kiri Burgess, a Senior CX Consultant at InMoment APAC. Together, with our Director of Marketing Sciences, Sharon Allberg, in this post we’ll share with you a collection of best practice tips for using rating scales in your customer surveys 

What Is a Survey Rating Scale? 

If you’ve ever put together a customer survey, you will no doubt have used a rating scale as an option for respondents. 

Survey rating scales are a way to ask a “closed question” to survey respondents, and collect valuable input in a quantitative way. Here’s an example:

There are a number of important considerations when using rating scales including:

  • Number of scale points
  • Anchoring of scale points
  • Midpoints
  • Colors and images

The choice of which survey rating scale to use can be perplexing. And while academic research is vast, it’s not always relevant to market or customer experience research, which can leave a number of unanswered questions.

Whatever scale you choose, the aim with a survey rating scale is to limit individual interpretation and ambiguity. In an ideal world, you want all respondents to view a scale in the same way.

Having reviewed scale literature and our own internal research; then overlaid client and research experience, here are five tips for survey rating scale success:

Here Are Five Pro Tips for Survey Rating Scale Success

Tip #1: Longer Scales Typically Reveal More Actionable Insight 

There is not a great deal of evidence on the difference in performance between shorter (i.e. 5 point) or longer (i.e. 10 point) scales from a respondent point of view—but the advantage of a longer scale is you’ll get greater differentiation in response. Responses will be more spread out due to having a longer scale. This typically results in stronger driver analysis revealing more actionable insight.  

Tip #2: Keep Survey Rating Scales as Consistent as Possible 

If you can, decide on a rating scale size and stick with it throughout your survey. Greater scale consistency will not only make it easier for respondents but it also makes it easier to communicate what a good result looks like to the business as all questions will calculate ‘good’ the same way with the same scale points. We understand that this isn’t always straight forward so if you do change your scale in your survey, that’s okay. Our advice would be not to chop and change scale lengths multiple times which will cause respondents confusion and fatigue.

Tip #3: Label Your Scales Appropriately 

How to best label your scale will depend on the scale length.  For shorter 5 point scales, we recommend labeling each scale point for clarity. However, this isn’t an easy task for longer 10 or 11 point scales as you quickly run out of space (particularly on mobile devices!). Therefore for longer scales, we recommend labeling the end points only. Whatever scale you go for, labels should only be attached to the appropriate single scale point.

Tip #4: When It Comes to Mid Points, Assess On a Case-by-Case Basis

Researchers like to include mid points for respondents who are undecided.

There is some evidence that neutral respondents will answer randomly if they don’t have a neutral option to pick; however, this point-of-view comes from the world of public policy research. Therefore, at InMoment we recommend a case-by-case approach and to include a midpoint if it makes sense. With satisfaction or agreement scales, it is more common to use a midpoint.

Tip #5: Avoid Scale Colors and Images 

Research has shown that coloring scales (even shades of gray) or adding images or icons (including smiley faces) is not recommended, as this leads to scales being inconsistently interpreted by respondents. Examples include colors being an issue for those who are color blind; and images, icons and smiley faces having different meaning for everyone, particularly those who are neurodiverse (which is estimated at 15-20% of the population).

There you have it—five best practices to help you avoid bias, optimise your surveys, and collect the most actionable insights possible. To learn more about best practice surveys, check out this paper on Transactional Customer Experience Survey Best Practices.

XI Café Podcast, Episode 3: A Deep Dive Into The Maturity of Voice of Customer Programs in New Zealand

Welcome back to the XI Café Podcast! The XI Café Podcast was created so that CX program owners around the world could join the conversation and learn from global businesses and industry experts about the latest experience improvement innovations in technology and research services, industry and market expertise, and customer (CX) and employee (EX) engagement best practices.

In this episode, Melanie Disse from Auckland-based CX firm—Melanie Disse Consulting answers questions such as:

  • How mature are Voice of Customer (VoC) programs in New Zealand compared to other countries?
  • How does your organisation’s VoC program compare?
  • What can you do to elevate the level of VoC program maturity at your organisation?

Melanie is an experienced Voice of Customer strategist with over a decade of experience in CX, insights, research, and data-driven intelligence for some of the world’s leading brands. Melanie explains what drives VoC program maturity and how leaders can increase the reach and effectiveness of their programs to improve customer experience and drive better business results.

Where to Find the XI Café Podcast

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify and Amazon Music, but if you are eager to jump right in then you can click the play button below to start listening to this week’s episode!

More of a visual person? No worries. You can also find the video recordings off the XI Café Podcast on our YouTube channel!

Why You Should Aspire to Drive Customer Lifetime Value—Not ‘Just’ Upsell Customers

Cross-selling and upselling have formed the bedrock of brand aspirations for their existing customer base for a long time now. For several years, it was also one of four economic pillars (along with customer acquisition, customer retention, and lowering cost to serve) my colleagues and I used to frame customer experience (CX) programs for our clients. Using these pillars allows companies to spell their programs out in financial terms, which is essential to quantifying their impact and gathering support.

While cross-selling and upselling existing clientele is certainly important, there’s actually a much more holistic (and ambitious) way to approach new business opportunities within your customer base: drive customer lifetime value (CLV). Focusing on driving customer lifetime value won’t ‘just’ help with identifying upselling opportunities—it will facilitate and create deeper human connections with customers and ensure mutually beneficial relationships built on Experience Improvement (XI). Let’s take a closer look.

Casting a Wider Net

Keeping customers around for as long as possible to sell them as much as possible is a great aspiration, but as I’m sure you’re aware, it’s much easier said than done. However, I’ve been advising companies on this very topic for a long time, and while it’s not simple, what follows are a few best practices that can help you continuously and consistently achieve that goal in ways that are mutually beneficial to you and your clients.

First, if you haven’t already, expand the data sources that you use to understand what your customers are saying and how they perceive you. Many of the brands I’ve worked with for a long time are slowly coming to the realization that they cannot  stick solely to surveys or another singular data source to get customer insights and input. And, while surveys will continue to be important, they only give you part of the picture. Expanding your data repertoire to such sources as purchasing data, location-tracking data, web searches, social media, and online reviews is a must.

Next, it’s vital to take the long view when looking at your customer relationships. This may seem like an obvious tip, but you might be surprised at how many brands get caught up in the lure of “what can I sell you today?” without considering what seeds to plant for even more success tomorrow. Equally important is to understand how your competitors view this dynamic and what, if anything, they’re also doing to be proactive when it comes to building lifetime value.

Letting Customers Tell Success Stories

If there’s one thing I loved doing when I was on the client side as a CX program owner, it was telling  stories. I can speak from experience when I say that letting customers do the success storytelling is an amazingly powerful way to build lifetime value with them. Good storytelling can bring numbers to life, further personalize customers’ experiences, and it gets attention because customers and even employees generally relate more to stories told by, well, other customers.

Executives and program stakeholders love customer-told success stories too. Letting customers do the talking helped me gain mindshare, helped me secure budget, and created the sponsorship that I needed to help make my program better. This strategy also helps executives feel a human connection to your CX program; they love to hear stories about how the organization created a meaningfully improved experience for another person.

The Customer Lifetime Value Journey

The tips I’ve outlined here will help you start (or jump-start) your customer lifetime value journey, but how do you keep the ball rolling? What other methods out there can brands and organizations leverage to go beyond ‘just’ cross-selling and upselling?

You can find all of that and more by clicking here and reading my latest point of view article on customer lifetime value. You’ll learn what else your organization needs to do to create Experience Improvement and a more human connection to your existing customers!

Do You Need a Customer Experience (CX) Manager?

CX operations, or customer experience operations, are all about the systems, automation, and lines of communication that make possible a unified, cross-functional approach to improving customer experience.  Do you need a customer experience manager dedicated to managing this effort? Let’s find out.

Getting customers to fall in love with your company requires understanding the entire customer journey—so you can deliver a seamless experience at every touchpoint. 

That’s not too tall an order if you are a young startup with only a handful of employees, all focused on customer experience (CX). After all, in those early stages, they have no choice but to study every step in the journey. By nature, a startup is all about the big picture. 

However, as your company begins to scale, you may face the same challenges as large enterprises. CX efforts then become more specialized, and that’s when silos begin to form. Before you know it, you’ve got different departments using separate technologies and focusing on different metrics—fragmenting your understanding of the customer experience. 

That’s when it’s time to consider hiring or appointing a CX manager. At this point, you need someone who can break down those silos, unify your tech stack, and unite your directors, VPs, and business units in the ultimate goal of creating a friction-free, productive, and delightful customer experience—from onboarding to renewal and advocacy.

What Is a Customer Experience Manager (CX Manager) ?

In order to understand what a CX Manager does—and why the role is so vital as companies scale—let’s picture a growing SaaS company, for example, that is considering adding this role. They’ve got a sales team focused on enterprise sales, a customer success team that largely spends its time making onboarding simple and straightforward, and a customer support team that’s available to fix problems. And of course, they’ve got a product team constantly working to improve their software with customers in mind.

Obviously, they have plenty of other departments, and each affects the customer experience to varying degrees (e.g., marketing, finance), but let’s focus on these four for the point of illustration. Each department has its own set of metrics, uses its own software, and focuses its attention on one specific leg of the customer journey. 

The issue? You’ve got four different departments using different technology to record different metrics and measure their own aspect of the customer journey. It’s like the old story about the blind men who discover an elephant in the forest. They each know only one part of the elephant—the part they can touch—so nobody can agree what an elephant is actually like. After all, they’re each focused on a different body part (the trunk, the body, the leg, the tail).

If your CX efforts feel like parable of the blind men and the elephant, you might need a customer experience manager (CX manager)
Image from Patheos.com

So, let’s return to our original question:

The role of a CX manager is to determine, implement, and refine the CX technology and vision required to see the entire customer journey from the customer’s perspective.

This role determines the best way to collect, analyze, and act on voice of customer data at key touchpoints across the customer journey. 

  • Determine how, technically, to monitor sentiment at critical touchpoints. For example, what system “knows” when a user is “onboarded”? How can that data be used to trigger a request for feedback? In what customer experience management platform? 
  • Facilitate close-the-loop action. Enable stakeholders to respond to customer feedback quickly by moving feedback into the systems they use everyday. 
  • Democratize insight and action.  This can mean creating CX dashboards that provide stakeholders with the ability to monitor and research what they care about. And, more importantly, to understand what actions they need to take in order to improve the over all customer experience. 

So, What Does a CX Manager in Action Look Like?

The Salesforce Solution Architect and Senior Application Engineer who holds the cross-functional CX technology vision at Glassdoor shares, “The InMoment platform allows our Support team to segment feedback by agent and other relevant business drivers to uncover insights that contribute to optimizing our support function, and it can also reveal bottlenecks that are best addressed by improving product features or design.”

You can learn how Glassdoor, DocuSign, Hubspot and other InMoment customers tackle CX operations in this article, How to Use CX Metrics to Find Bottlenecks to Product-Led Growth, but here are a few quick pointers for now:

  • Define a single source of truth for the voice of the customer (VoC). This can include determining where data will be aggregated into a single VoC feedback hub for research into and across journey points.
  • Work with vendors and cross-functional stakeholders to implement the technology vision. Often this happens in a phased project approach, touchpoint by touchpoint. 
  • Keep the focus on the big picture—to understand that the elephant is more than the trunk, the body, the leg, or the tail.

Try as they might, individual departments have a hard time seeing the big picture since they’re so specialized (and are rarely incentivized by big picture metrics). That’s where the CX Ops manager or CX manager enters the picture.

What Kind of Background Should a CX Manager Have?

We’ve seen a wide range of candidates succeed in the role of CX manager—from Salesforce Administrators to Senior Sales Ops professionals to Customer Success or Customer Experience/VoC leaders. Even marketing folks have successfully led CX ops efforts.

It makes sense that good CX people would come from different backgrounds, since this role is about as cross-functional as it gets. What we can tell you is that there are certain qualities and skill sets, rather than specific career trajectories, that predict success in this role. 

4 Qualities to Look for in a CX Manager

Quality #1: Diplomacy and Negotiation Skills

The person heading up CXOps must have some serious interpersonal skills, able to balance all the stakeholders’ needs and drives with the overarching goals and available resources. They’ll need to convince a range of departments—not just the customer-facing ones—just how vital these efforts are to the long term success of the company. 

They will lead team meetings, communicate strategies, and move projects forward while holding everyone to a timeline (including executives). On top of that, they must be able to obtain a clear mandate and buy-in from their C-suite sponsors (or the head of CX, at the very least). In other words, they must possess both empathy and assertiveness in spades.

Quality #2: Deep Understanding of How the Tech Stack Works as a System

Your various technology platforms (Zendesk, InMoment, Gainsight, Salesforce, Slack, Segment, etc.) need to work together as a system. Otherwise, your information silos stay intact and your customer journey remains fragmented. 

On top of that, they’ll need to find the gaps in your current capabilities and identify solutions to fill them. Sometimes this involves purchasing entirely new systems, other times it’s simply a matter of integrating what you’re currently working with. Usually, it’s a bit of both.

Quality #3: Project Management Mastery

Your Customer Experience Operations Manager will need some serious project management chops, including the ability to plan out timelines and budgets end-to-end (and get everybody to stick to them). They also need to know how to purchase from vendors without using an RFP.

Quality #4: A Strong Understanding of Procurement

“Let’s spend more money on systems just because we can!” Said no executive, ever. 

Executives have grown wary of new B2B software that promises to solve all their problems, and middle-management is rarely overjoyed at the prospect of retraining staff on new platforms. That said, sometimes the current systems don’t cut it, and it’s up to the CX ops manager to understand the tradeoffs when evaluating new technology and delivering an integrated system that gets the job done.

Use Case: What a Fully-Integrated CX Initiative Looks Like

Every integrated CX initiative will look different depending on your existing technology, current integrations, and where you are in your growth cycle. That said, the following is a bird’s eye view of a solid CX initiative, and it should help get you started.

We’ll assume you have created a customer journey map and can tell your CX ops manager the make-or-break touchpoints that you want to optimize. You’ll also be responsible for forming a cross-functional team of stakeholders that are committed to improving the journey and to supporting the efforts of the CX manager. 

Technology Needs Assessment

The CX ops manager should meet with each stakeholder team to understand:

  • The technology they are using today
  • Their CX data needs. This goes beyond metrics. It includes the customer data each team needs to make data segmentation and analysis useful.  For example, support may need to associate customer satisfaction (CSAT) feedback with an agent. Success might need to know the user’s account, role, or pricing plan. Product may want to know how long a survey respondent has been a platform user.   

Gather Voice-of-the-Customer (VOC) data (examples)

  • Relationship data: Gather Net Promoter Score (NPS) data in-app or via email, or wherever you interact with customers.
  • Onboarding data: Calculate Customer Effort Score (CES) from surveys  following the WalkMe onboarding tour (via Segment event data or Salesforce workflows)
  • Customer satisfaction data: Conduct CSAT surveys after Zendesk or Service Cloud case closures.
  • Product satisfaction data: Collect PSAT data after feature use (in-app) and after closing the loop on customer service interactions (in chat or via email)
  • Support tickets: The content of support inquiries is a source of VOC.
  • Reviews: What are customers saying about your on Capterra or G2?
  • Brand or user surveys: Any open-ended feedback from lengthy surveys.

Addressing Customer Pain Points and Closing the Loop

Strengthen the front line: Make it easy for teams to respond directly to customers by getting survey responses into the systems they live in. Populate the data in real time. For example, send InMoment survey responses to contact and account records in Salesforce for the sales team, to Intercom for Support, to Gainsight for Success or to Slack for the product team. 

Leverage your happiest customers: Send review and referral requests to promoters via Marketo, HubSpot, or another customer communication platform like Intercom

Big Picture Analysis

  • Create a roadmap: Allow qualitative feedback to drive your plan for CX improvement. Use it to understand the why behind the metrics, prioritize projects by predicting the potential impact on customer lifetime value. Build text analytics dashboards and reports that are customized for each team (support, success, Product, etc.) in your CXM platform. (Hint: InMoment can do this!)
  • Centralize your data: Build a central voice of customer (VoC) repository for deep analysis. This can mean augmenting customer journey feedback with support ticket content, online reviews, and brand surveys. 
  • Integrate CX into business analysis: Export metrics and metadata to the company’s data lake/business intelligence tool.
Note: It’s absolutely vital to use a CX management platform that integrates smoothly with new and existing systems. 

The Value of Executive Buy-in and Support

As you can see, the success of your integration efforts will rest largely on the shoulders of your new CX manager, who will have their finger on the pulse of the entire customer experience. They’ll connect departments that normally go days or weeks without interacting, so in order to set them up for success, they’ll need support from senior management.

Why is that so important? It’s all about in-group bias. It’s human nature to think of the world in terms of “us” vs. them,” or “our department” vs. “their department.” This potentially puts CX ops at odds with, well… literally every department they encounter—unless the executive sponsor puts those worried minds at ease.

With executive buy-in and support, the CX ops Manager will have the authority and credibility they need to suggest the (sometimes) sweeping changes that would otherwise produce fear and resentment in those who have grown comfortable in their silo. A supportive c-suite executive can assure skeptics that this is the natural evolution of their efforts to serve customers at every stage in the journey. In turn, this paves the way for long term growth and success for the organization as a whole.Customer Experience Operations leaders chose InMoment for customer experience management. Book a consultative demo today.

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