Quick 6 With Ian Golding, Shop Direct Group

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders.

  • Name: Ian Golding
  • Title: Head of Group Customer Experience
  • Company: Shop Direct Group (the UK’s 3rd largest online retailer)
  • Length of time on the job: 6 years
  • Previous position: Lean Six Sigma Deployment Leader

1. What do you most like about your role?

The ability to influence and enthuse the whole organisation behind a cause that they can all relate to. There are not many roles where you are able to be evangelistic!! At the end of the day we are all customers – and in our case, all customers of our own organisation – I am in a privileged position to help our people really make a difference for ourselves, our customers and our shareholders

2. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

There are many things I can point to, but the number one is the creation of our Customer 1st Aid programme. In 2007 I suggested creating a closed loop customer experience issue resolution process – enabling all 10,000 employees to identify issues detrimental to the customer experience and feed them in to a centrally controlled resolution process. Customer 1st Aid enables every one of our colleagues to actually make a difference in improving the customer experience. Despite significant skepticism from our senior leaders (along the lines of – we do not want to know what all the problems are; how can we possible manage to fix any of them; it is too complicated; etc..) Customer 1st Aid has been one of the most significant stepping stones to transforming our organisation in one that continuously thinks about the things that we are not doing so well for our customers. This led to us winning a UK Customer Experience award in 2010 for the programme!

3. What has been the most surprising challenge?

Without question the biggest surprise to me has been the continuous debate around ownership of the customer experience. It is actually no longer a surprise to me that this is an issue as many other organisations have explained similar issues. In my 6 years in the organisation the experience has been ‘owned’ by our Chairman, Group HR Director, Chief Operating Officer and two different Sales & Marketing Directors!!! Not only does this highlight issues with organisational culture, as an influencer, you have the challenge of almost having to start from the beginning every time ownership changes – despite this, I am immensely proud that the evolution of our customer experience strategy is where it is – however, with more consistent leadership, it is possible we could be even further forward.

4. How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

I would describe us being 30% of the way there! For the first time in our organisations history (we are over 100 years old!!) customer experience is explicitly part of our business strategy – this is a real pinch yourself moment for a customer experience professional. After 6 years of sweat, blood and some tears, the business recognises the need to embed customer experience into our strategic decision making. This has led to the development of our customer experience strategic framework, held up by a simple vision that the whole organisation can get behind. However, this does not necessarily mean the culture and behaviour of the organisation has changed – it has a little, but there is a lot more that needs to happen here.

5. What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

We have a number of significant ‘fixes’ to our customer journey planned and scheduled – these fixes are as a result of 12 months work in responding directly to our VOC programme – it is also the first time that our executive board have committed to investing in fixing significant customer service issues – addressing them should see a real step change in the way our customers perceive our business.

6. What advice do you have for someone who is about to take on a similar role?

Patience, Persistence, Belief!! The three words I keep saying in my head every single day. You cannot change an organisation overnight; you cannot change an organisation by yourself. Turning around a business that was not designed with customer experience as its major reason for being is very often a lonely and depressing thing – build a strong network of customer experience professionals from a variety of industries – speaking to them regularly will ensure that you know you are not alone – as well as giving you great ideas you take to your own company. Membership of the CXPA is a great way of achieving this as well as getting credibility for your efforts.

Extra credit question: What would people be surprised to find out about you?

Not sure if it is surprising, but I am currently going through the classic male mid life crisis. Having never run anywhere in my life (except to catch a bus!), I have completed 16 half marathons in the last three years. I am not quite sure what happened, but I started running one day and now cannot stop!! A little like Forest Gump I suppose. I often feel that running long distance is a great analogy for being a customer experience professional – it starts out as a great challenge, starts to feel terrible half way through, but the euphoric feeling you get at the finish line is like no other!!

Quick 6 With Parrish Arturi, Fidelity Investments

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders.

  • Name: Parrish Arturi
  • Title: SVP, Customer Experience
  • Company: Fidelity Investments
  • Length of time on the job: 1 year
  • Previous position: SVP, Personal and Workplace Investing Online Channels

1. What do you most like about your role?

Working across multiple areas to help the rest of our organization live up to our core value of “The Customer Is Always First”. Fidelity helps millions of people accomplish their goals and dreams, and having the ability to influence that in a scaled fashion is really powerful.

2. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

Getting the organization – from top to bottom – excited about transforming our customers experience and understanding that Customer Experience is not a project but something that needs to be in our corporate DNA.

3. What has been the most surprising challenge?

That at the end of the day this work is all about change management – it’s hard work getting multiple functional areas across different levels moving in the same direction. That said, it’s incredibly fulfilling when you hear others talking about customers and the difference they can make for associates and customers in their work.

4. How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

We actually have a great foundation from which to build, which includes having a legacy of innovation and committment to doing right by customers. We are mid-way in our journey – we have a solid strategy and program plan and are now in the midst of executing against it. There is a huge organizational focus to achieve our vision of providing the best customer experience in our industry, and it feels very real now that we have a number of tangible elements in place.

5. What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

I’m really excited about 2 things: First, is the work we’re doing around end-to-end process improvement, which includes everything from addressing chronic issues that customers and associates have told us about to diagnosing and making sure we are flawless in those moments that matter most to customers. Second is the internal and external communications work we’re doing to drive excitement with both associates and customers about the fact that we’ve heard their feedback, are turning that into action and are closing the loop with them.

6. What advice do you have for someone who is about to take on a similar role?

Take the time to create a gameplan and don’t get sucked into the latest issue of the day. People will assume that because your title or mandate is around customer experience that every problem is yours to solve. Having a gameplan for the elements of the business system that need to get established or improved, and being diligent about getting wins along the way, makes a huge difference.

Extra credit question: What would people be surprised to find out about you?

Before and after grad school I traveled the country with a friend in a beat up Jeep visiting most of the Major League (and some minor league) ballparks. And if you didn’t guess… I’m partial to Fenway.

Quick 6 With Ingrid Lindberg, CIGNA

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders.

  • Name: Ingrid Lindberg
  • Title: Customer Experience Officer
  • Company: CIGNA
  • Length of time on the job: 37 months
  • Previous position: CMO Ceridian Benefits Services

1. What do you most like about your role?

My personal drivers are altruism and hedonism. I want to help people and have a great time while doing so. This role, and this industry, allow me to really make a difference in our customers’ lives and my team helps me to have fun while doing the work.

2. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

We know that a customer’s understanding of their benefits is correlated to how much they trust us as their health service company. And we know that the more they trust us, the more likely they are to participate in their health and wellness with us. We also know that if people are willing to enroll in health and wellness programs with us, we can help them live healtier lives. So – something as simple as simplifying the language of health care directly correlates to helping our customers’ live healthier lives. That’s why I come to work every day.

3. What has been the most surprising challenge?

I thought the culture change would be really hard – but we have thousands of employees who simpy were waiting for someone to help lead the way to a better experience for our customers. And some of the technology stuff that I thought would be really easy, coming from financial services, is in fact, really hard – due to the complexity of the benefits designs we support.

4. How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

I always know it is working when we have other “experience” groups and projects popping up all over a company. We now have multiple projects who have “experience” as a part of their project title, and we have “Experience architects” embedded in many projects across the company. It is amazing to me that in just a little under three years, we’ve gone from almost always talking about the b2b part of our business to almost always talking about the b2b2c part of our business. People ask and push and really advocate for what is right for the customer. I can’t get answers out fast enough..

5. What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

We’re doing some really neat work with our own employees that will teach us even more about our customers. As long as I can continue to learn more – I’m excited.

6. What advice do you have for someone who is about to take on a similar role?

Make sure you have a ceo who is willing to be out in front of you, leading the charge. It is one of the most important things I look for when I’m taking a customer experience role. I’m extremely lucky that my ceo, david cordani, is as passionate about customers and customer experience as I am.

Extra credit question: What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a total introvert.

Quick 6 With Karyn Furstman, Safeco Insurance

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders.

  • Name: Karyn Furstman
  • Title: VP, Customer Experience
  • Company: Safeco Insurance, member of Liberty Mutual Group
  • Length of time on the job: 8 months
  • Previous position: SVP, Customer Experience, Washington Mutual

1. What do you most like about your role?

Building and creating the Customer Experience discipline in the organization as the first Customer Experience Officer for Safeco

2. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

In six months, creating a vision, strategy and role/engagement model for Customer Experience within the organization. Also building some foundational components of the strategy such as touchpoint mapping and implementing closed loop feedback pilots in multiple business lines.

3. What has been the most surprising challenge?

Changing the perception that Customer Experience is everyone in the organization’s responsibility and helping people understand what their role in this work is, whether front or back office employees.

4. How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

In the beginning of the journey and always reinforcing this is not about a program but rather a ‘way of life’ we are embarking on.

5. What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

Three areas of focus: experience design through prioritized moments of truth defined by customers; listening and fixing through closed loop feedback; and internal experience acculturation that supports our brand through consistent service behaviors across the organization and service recognition program.

6. What advice do you have for someone who is about to take on a similar role?

Define a vision and multi-year roadmap with early quick wins and showing value to the organization. Find executive leaders that can be your passionate advocates and help tell about their successes in Customer Experience wins.

Extra credit question: What would people be surprised to find out about you?

I really like spending time listening to customer calls and even complaints since I think you can gain great insight into what they are looking for to help turn them into being a promoter of your company in the long term.


Quick 6 With Doug Meyer, Sage Software

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders.

  • Name: Doug Meyer
  • Title: Chief Customer Officer
  • Company: Sage North America
  • Length of time on the job: 18 months
  • Previous position: President, Industry Solutions Division

1) What do you most like about your role?

The best thing about my job is being able to point to the substantial, positive impact we’re having on both our company culture and the customer experience we provide. These results have been possible because of the strong leadership support I receive; Sage’s brand promise of an extraordinary customer experience; and our company’s culture, which has been built on a foundation of providing excellent customer support and service.

2) What are you most proud of accomplishing?

After just over a year, customer experience is top of mind for our leadership and with virtually all of our 4,000 employees. It is moving from “something to do” to “who we are”. Significantly, all 4,000 employees (in groups of 15) have participated in 2.5 hour workshops over the past year. Led by Sage executives, the workshops went a long way in helping us to develop a common understanding of what we are trying to achieve with our customer experience efforts.

3) What has been the most surprising challenge?

Sage North America consists of 24 acquisitions over the past 12 years. This has resulted in a lot of our early work being “foundational” – moving toward common processes, policies and systems. This has been important, but time consuming work.

4) How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

We’re still in the early stages – lots of foundational work continuing, but we are turning the corner to focus on competitive differentiation via customer experience in our product and service offerings.

5) What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

We have some really exciting initiatives involving our product and support offers that are designed to truly help our customers get a better return on their investment with Sage. As well, we’ve closely linked our customer experience efforts with our business performance via key metrics and drivers. These links result in even more focus on our customer experience strategy and execution.

Extra credit question: What would people be surprised to find out about you?

They’d probably be surprised that I was a top distance runner in high school. Also, I’m an engineer by education.


Quick 6 With Graham Webster, Telefonica

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders. In this edition: Graham Webster from Telefonica.

  • Name: Graham Webster
  • Title: Director of Customer Experience, Telefonica Europe & Telefonica S.A
  • Company: Telefonica S.A
  • Length of time on the job: 3 years
  • Previous position: Senior Vice President Strategy, Telefonica Europe

1) What do you most like about your role?

The ability to enhance people’s lives

2) What are you most proud of accomplishing?

Helping increase the customer focus across Telefonica businesses

3) What has been the most surprising challenge?

A quote by an internal person – “The brand and people are nothing to do with quality!”

4) How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

Progressing slowly but nevertheless progressing with senior management leadership

5) What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

Customer Feedback Systems dashboard trials

6) What advice do you have for someone who is about to take on a similar role?

Make sure the CEO is committed and not just in words but budget and actions when times get tough

Bonus question: What is one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?
I used to be a Civil Engineer designing bridges

Quick 6 With Steve Furman, Discover Financial

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders.

  • Name: Steve A Furman (blog: Expedient MEANS)
  • Title: Director: E-Business Customer Experience Design & Social Media
  • Company: Discover Financial Services
  • Length of time on the job: 11 years
  • Previous position: Founder of Expedient MEANS, independent, interactive marketing firm

1) What do you most like about your role?

There is increasing focus on the customer experience inside our firm. As someone who works daily in this realm, it’s gratifying to see this transformation. Others are beginning to seek out assistance from myself and team members related to customer experience as they design products and go to market with digital campaigns.

2) What are you most proud of accomplishing?

No one thing. Instead I’d say it is a series of efforts stitched together over the last 11 years, evolving discover.com from a simple read only site to the interactive experience, including mobile and social, it is today. We are proud of our digital platform that was built expressly to offer a great customer experience with the capability of positively impacting business outcomes.

3) What has been the most surprising challenge?

Underestimating what it would take to shift the inertia from marketing via paper and servicing via phone to performing these functions in digital channels.

4) What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

We have worked hard to connect the E-Business and Customer Service teams on several levels. We are wrapping up an exciting project of re-engineering our Help Center with dynamic content and the ability for the field to publish as they see what’s coming into the call center. This was fueled by an analysis of data not previously looked at. New metrics are always energizing.

5) How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

We are moving into a phase of high activity and focus cross-functionally across the organization. Using the Passive, Willing, Engaged framework, I’d say we are entering the engaged phase with a bullet.

6) What advice do you have for someone who is about to take on a similar role?

Read the book, “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels” and follow that advice. And, network as much as your time will allow both inside and outside your company.

Extra credit question: What would people be surprised to find out about you?

That I’m old.

(Editorial note: No he’s not!)

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