At a time when more and more people are taking public transportation, customer experience for commuters has a big impact on their daily lives. How do you create great service for such a complex system? In today’s conversation with Anand Sampat, the head of customer experience for c2c, a public London commuter train that services 40,000 daily commuters, we discuss how he manages the customer experience for a service that so many people rely on. Starting off as a customer insights manager with a degree in engineering, Anand shares how this role gave him an opportunity to understand more of the inner workings of the company and use his analytical skills to bridge gaps and problem solve.
Over time, as the customer insights manager, Anand’s role began to evolve and he was able to start framing his work as the head of customer experience. When he saw things like low customer rating scores, he wanted to know what could be done to turn that around to improve services. Like many other companies we’ve seen, c2c didn’t have a holistic CX approach, they just had a small reactive team who handled customer relations and problems.
5 Steps to CX Management in the First 3 Months of Your Leadership Role
The role of head of customer experience hadn’t existed before, so Anand had a lot of work cut out for him. How did he spend the first 3 months in this position?
- Use the data you have to dig deeper. Anand talked to people on the team and communicated what he already knew from the consumer insights to gain a deeper understanding of what they meant, from the teams who handled that specific work. Before trying to plan anything, he wanted to understand what the issues were from the internal side of things.
- Communicate your role to your colleagues and peers. Anand needed to be clear about what his role was and how he’d be working with other team members. He did this through conducting meetings with employees and via the company’s internal messaging systems.
- Prove to the C-Suite that you’re a partner. In this case, journey mapping helped Anand work with his fellow leaders to see things holistically. He created two separate groups to analyze the different aspects of the customer experience.
- I thought this was a great way to tackle CX for a complex system like public transportation. One team managed the on-train experience and another managed the station experience.
- Anand then divvied up the analytics per each group and went through the specific issues for the groups to address.
- Determine where you can find quick wins. Look at where you can bridge the gaps between the insights and solutions and try to knock off some of the easy fixes.
- Realize that you can’t be everything to everyone. Anand and his team looked at who their core customers are and what their needs are. By doing that, they were able to focus more on the specific strategy.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reorganize and Restructure Your Team
Now, if you’ve been listening to my podcast or reading my posts, you know that customer experience is also largely affected by the employee experience as well. Anand realized that in order to have an effective transformation, he needed to go through a reorganization. He had to think about how his team was currently serving him and what would be beneficial moving forward:
- Look at your roadmap and see who’s needed to execute what. By looking at the customer roadmap, Anand was able to better determine who could help him deliver on the work that needed to be done.
- Recruit deliberately. Anand now has 5 direct reports rather than his initial two. These roles are designed specifically to handle the various portions of the CX work. For instance, there’s a customer policy manager, someone who does service quality management, and even a head of digital who can communicate to the internal team about what information should be displayed on the website based on what the rail regulator is saying.
- Determine who will help drive your CX strategy. There’s now a customer focus group at C2C made up of senior leaders to help drive the future direction of the strategy. Anand first consults with the C-Suite to ensure they’re on board with the suggestions and he passes the work down to the focus group.
- Establish employee guidelines. Since C2C is a commuter service, many of the employees are on the frontlines managing tickets, keeping stations clean, and providing customer support. It was important for Anand and his team to establish service guidelines for how staff should be behaving, as this hadn’t previously existed.
- Ensure the C-Suite has visibility to the frontline. C2C now has an internal customer service week once a year. The C-Suite shadows staff and visits the stations to talk to the frontline staff about good customer service.
Anand has shared this c2c branded video which shows the company’s dedication to CX
What Do You Know Now That you Wish you Knew Then?
- It’s good to understand the business, the processes, how things connect to each other, what are the teams, what they do and how they fit into the customer experience delivery. You’ve really got to connect all of these different dots so you can know how to prioritize your efforts.
- If I could go back, I would definitely spend more time, perhaps even just under the radar, understanding the processes and sort of the underbelly of the company before proposing ways to change it.
- Maintaining and building relationships at any opportunity is important. So if you can, be a bit nosey as well. Try to find out if you could attend a certain meeting where you can, try where you can to have a picture in your head about how the company works, how it operates, what drives it, how different people respond to different conversations.
About Anand Sampat:
Anand is Head of Customer Experience at Trenitalia c2c, an award-winning UK train operating company running commuter services into London. In his role, Anand leads on future customer experience strategy, securing investment in customer experience initiatives and overseeing the company’s customer contact teams.
Prior to his current role, Anand was a market research consultant with Oliver Wyman and has also had previous managerial roles within the hospitality and financial services industries.
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