“The experiences start from the beginning; the customer has to start feeling that empathy from the beginning when they are prospects,” says Francis Cordón, the first Chief Customer Officer at Rigor. Like our previous guest, Patricia Pedhom Nono, Francis is a tech guy who made his way into customer service, taking on CX leadership in the company’s newly created role. Rigor is a SaaS company that offers digital performance monitoring and optimization software that allows customers to monitor their user’s experience throughout the development lifecycle. At Rigor, employees take action to improve performance with step-by-step optimization insights and they offer their users a faster and better digital experience.
In this episode, Francis and I chat about the different tactics he has implemented during his 8 months at Rigor in order to improve customer relationships and facilitate customer-driven growth.
Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your Customer
After spending so many years being a vendor, Francis became a customer in the tech/digital world, which began to fuel his passion for customer experience. He realized that in all of his time as a vendor, he thought he understood his customers and they understood him – but that wasn’t exactly the case. During his first week as a customer at The Bank of New York Mellon, he realized that there was a major disconnect between receiving a product/service and the actual experience that comes with it.
When Francis joined Rigor, the company was ready for an executive leader that represented the customer – they wanted to create a customer first culture. Since he spent some time as a customer himself, he understood how important it was that vendors and customers form valuable relationships. As a leader at Rigor, he was able to communicate this lesson to his team and implement processes to help facilitate this engagement.
What did the first 1-2 months of Francis’s job look like?
- Though the company was ready for a CCO, he still had to spend time defining and tweaking the role and was able to do this with the CEO, who was extremely supportive. This is a common occurrence, as many CCOs that I’ve spoken to have mentioned that this was a part of their process as well.
- Francis had to think about how to improve the experience for customers based on his experience. How can a vendor be more valuable? He started with explaining why a specific service can help the customer and began providing email summaries of calls.
- He also saw it fit to dig deeper – how does the product become a savings tool for the customer? How do you empower this customer to go to their boss and tell them why the session was valuable so they can sell it internally to their team. How can you help your customers achieve their KPIs?
- Francis and his team identified places where people needed Rigor to step in as a partner and help them be successful. Once they started figuring out how they could have something objective in their hands to tell their boss that it was valuable, Rigor saw an immediate improvement in relationship building.
It was really important that Francis and his team spent time with customers, explaining the full value of the products and services they were using. Based on his experience at Bank of New York, he understood how easy it was for people to have a product that wasn’t being used to its full potential.
Communicate Value to Your Customers in an Engaging Way
How do you internally communicate customer successes? Francis understands that as a leader, you can only be as good as your team, and shares how he worked with them to create a “journalist hat” communications channel. For every interaction, he wanted employees to think about how to communicate with the customer in a valuable way that tells a story. As Francis puts it, he said “For every interaction you have with the customer, imagine you are a journalist. And as a journalist, you need to come up with an article.” How do you create value in that interaction?
These interactions were then logged into the journalist hat channel for others to see and learn from. The interactions with customers became short, interesting articles. The journalist stories became important wins for Francis and his team because they were succinct articles that showcased how employees were able to help their customer save money, contributing to improving the bottom line. The journalist hat became so successful internally that leadership was invited to the channel; this became a tremendous source of recognition and satisfaction for Francis’s team as the leaders were able to see positive customer engagement.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
- Working with customers and making customers happy is infinitely more emotional than anybody is willing to admit. The reason we’re not willing to admit it is because it’s a little bit intangible when it becomes emotional.
- Learn to understand the reasons behind why people are looking for something, what they truly want out of the relationship, and how they can convert your service into value to their bosses. It’s extremely important to give your customers what they’re looking for or they’ll find it in a new vendor.
About Francis Cordon
Francis Cordón leads Rigor’s customer strategy and execution, ensuring all departments contribute to delivering world class service and a unified experience across the entire customer journey.
Francis has a background in engineering and tech, and was previously the senior director of customer success and professional services at Turbonomic, a computer software and cloud platform. At Bank of New York Mellon, Francis served as first vice president, chief performance architect, solving performance issues at the bank.