How to Leverage Your Past to Prepare You For a Customer Experience Role

How to Leverage Your Past to Prepare You For a Customer Experience Role

If you look back on your career journey, do you recognize specific skills and experiences that paved the way for you to succeed in your current role? In today’s episode, I revisit conversations with two customer experience leaders in healthcare, Geeta Wilson, VP of Consumer Experience – Enterprise Transformation at Humana, and Jackie McAtee, who at the time, was vice president of marketing and customer experience for Mayfair Medical Imaging. Both Geeta and Jackie have marketing backgrounds, which served as one of many building blocks that helped them thrive in their current cx roles.

The conversations address each leader’s career journey that led them down the path to becoming a change agent within their organizations. Additionally, Geeta and Jackie share tactics and strategies that helped them prioritize and assess the initial work to be done when first stepping into their vice president roles.

Honor Your Past as You Shape Your Future

TWO LEADERS IN HEALTHCARE SHARE HOW THEIR PAST PREPARED THEM FOR THEIR CURRENT CX ROLESGeeta Wilson’s career began in marketing, where she advanced from coordinator to analyst, then management. This background helped her understand how data, and the customers’ perspectives and needs, can be used to help organizations better serve their audiences. Her stint in human resources gave her insight to the importance of the candidate experience. As an HR manager, Geeta saw the challenges of talent recruitment, growth, and retention in the healthcare system; she saw how important the people experience in organizations really is.

Jackie’s background in marketing, brand management and hospitality, taught her how important good service is. Her foray into the world of event management allowed her to think more deeply about when the customer experience for people actually begins. While working with Calgary Stampede, an outdoor rodeo and festival in Canada, Jackie realized that an in-person experience doesn’t necessarily begin when the gates to an event opens. The event preparation, anticipation, and emotional journey were all different facets of an experience that contributed to its success. This was the last job Jackie held before leading customer experience at Mayfair Imaging.

Both Geeta and Jackie’s experiences show that there’s an important intersection between marketing and service, as both careers train you to think from the perspective of the customer.

Assessing and Prioritizing Initial Work to be Done

Immerse Yourself in the Culture

When Geeta first stepped into her position, she had senior leader and executive buy-in, which provided support she needed to implement changes. Then, she immediately immersed herself in the culture of the organization. She read everything the chief consumer officer was writing, went to town hall meetings, and conducted internal and external research. Geeta needed to know as much as possible about the organization and the members.

Geeta shares the following strategies and tactics employed to tackle her initial work:

  • Become familiar with what has been done and what’s been tried. Don’t try to come into the organization thinking you’re the first person to try something. Communicate with others to learn the inner workings of company.
  • Conduct one on one conversations with other leaders. These 1-on-1s with leaders of other silos allows you to understand their perceptions, incentives, and vocabulary.
  • Understand the skills of your new team. Geeta inherited a team when she joined Humana, so it was important that she knew their capabilities. She made sure that the members of her team had a desire for consumer experience and the grit to do the work. Find out what their ambitions are in relation to their goals (who’s strategic, who’s more tactical, who can do both?).
  • Look at yourself as a customer. Geeta joined Humana’s health plan so she could understand what it was like on the consumer end.
  • Learn the values of the organization. Incorporate them into your everyday work. Geeta learned Humana’s values and made sure to double check brainstorm ideas and new strategies against the value system.
  • Transparency and communication is important. Every week, Geeta shares a weekly update with the president about what’s going on in the organization.
  • Be humble. Forsake your own credit and your own need to be recognized. Be as collaborative as possible. Don’t think that other people aren’t customer centric.

Gather Research and Data to Build a Framework

Click to view Jackie’s research deck

When Jackie took on her role at Mayfair Medical Imaging, there hadn’t been anyone in the position for a while. This means she was stepping into a position which required her to pick up some missing pieces while also initiating new strategies. Jackie shares how she filled in some gaps to help build the organization’s customer experience:

  • Gather data to make informed decisions. In order to put together proposals for big pieces of research, Jackie needed data. She needed to know where Mayfair was in the market place, who were the customers, who were employees, and what the demographics of patients were. This foundational research helped her develop strategies for figuring out how to reach these groups of people.
  • Find some quick wins. Appease the C-suite to earn the right to keep doing the work and doing it in the right way.
  • Build internal communications. Keep employees in the loop of what’s happening in the organization. Jackie realized many employees didn’t really know what was happening within the organization. She worked with the CEO to develop a newsletter of communications to help unite teams and improve the employee experience. This newsletter included a social events calendar, changes in a clinic, etc.
  • Create a 90-day roadmap. It showed where Mayfair was currently, where they need to get to, and what the stages are to get to the work. This helped clarify the process so employees could understand the role they played in the transformation.
  • Engage leadership. Work with them to show that you’re their partner rather than a customer. You’re there to build a better experience.
  • Bring together silos. Like Geeta, Jackie had a lot of one on one conversations with heads of the department. “I want you involved in that because you’ll have an interesting perspective.” which provides valuable insight.

So much of your initial work as a CX leader in a new role is about gaining knowledge and relationship building. As you’re learning and simultaneously trying to gain some quick wins, don’t underestimate the importance of building your overall framework for advancing your work so you can continue to earn the right to do so.


Note from Jeanne: I want to let you know that we’ve welcomed a sponsor for our show, Customerville. Until now, I have been paying for all of the expenses of the show myself. I love doing these for you – but they cost quite a bundle. This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on.  Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!

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