This is the 100th episode of the Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show, and I have YOU to thank for it! I’m sending a huge, heartfelt thank you to all of the podcast guests I’ve interviewed since the launch of this podcast back in 2016. And of course, thank you to the listeners who support this show and tune in to hear all of the wonderful CX insights, lessons, and tactics discussed.
I look forward to speaking with more CX leaders across various industries in order to provide you all with strategies and key takeaways to enact within your own organization, so you can be the change you wish to see in your organization.
In this episode, I speak with Amanda Sachs, General Manager, Customer & Partner Experience, at Microsoft. We discuss how she created a path for her global role leading customer experience across all of Microsoft, and how she has engaged with the organization to translate CEO Satya Nadella’s mantra of “customer obsession” into its operating model, engineering and culture. Our conversation about scaling the CX role with just a 50 person staff is one everyone should hear!
Be Patient and Gain Credibility Before Driving Transformation
Since working at a call center after graduating college, Amanda has been entrenched in the world of customer service. While working at the call center, she got a taste of the thrill that comes with being able to successfully support and delight customers. Amanda quickly developed a curiosity to know more about why things did or didn’t go well with customers and how to problem solve. She parlayed this skillset and inquisitiveness to her roles at major tech companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.
When Amanda took on her role as general manager of customer & partner experience in 2011, it was important to her that she understood how she would fit in with the culture of the organization and with leaders. Being patient and taking the time to gain credibility was an important step that helped her enact transformations and make breakthroughs when the time was right.
When she was ready to assess the work to be done in her role, Amanda did the following:
- Looked at all VoC and customer listening systems to know what the customers were saying. The data was more important to understand rather than just going by her own opinions. It was important to understand parter feedback and what work was and wasn’t successful.
- Spoke to internal leaders and influencers to understand how they felt about the progress.
- Used maturity models to give themselves a baseline grade to understand where they were in respects to progress.
- Drove a “rhythm of the business” with her teams: defined key moments in the week, month, quarter and year in which they could pause and reflect on their performance.
- Took the time to understand cultural differences. Since Microsoft is a global corporation, it was important to Amanda that she travel and meet with global partners in order to understand how they do business. Forming these connections also allowed her to be an internal advocate for her global partners.
It took about 9-12 months to create a trajectory of change within the organization. During this process, Amanda shares that a lot of the work was about formalizing processes for reporting and staying customer driven. Traditionally, much of the reporting was ad hoc, or problems were tackled as a one-off. As we know, handling issues as a one-off rather than getting to the root of the problem isn’t helpful for long-term success. Amanda and her team were very deliberate about creating an internal customer experience that would integrate teams, break through silos, and develop a process for problem solving so that customer experience complaints and needs for improvements weren’t dumped on one team.
Unite the C-Suite and Partner with Key Leaders
Amanda’s work was also led by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s mantra of “customer obsession.” With support from the CEO and COO, Amanda worked with human resources and key leaders across the organization to define what customer obsession meant and what behaviors should be emulated in order to achieve it internally. They developed customer obsession priorities to understand how these actions can be tied to financial success.
Amanda shares how she was able to operationalize customer obsession priorities with HR and the C-Suite:
- Hold people accountable for work and projects that they influence.
- Look for measurements that aren’t just survey based, find the right, actionable measurements. Don’t look at the hard numbers like a percentage increase or decrease, you’ll have to balance survey metrics with other metrics.
- Storyboard the employee lifecycle to better understand internal processes.
- Communicate effectively with middle management to ensure they’re coaching for the right behaviors to be clear that they’re doing the right work.
If you’re leading CX work for a global corporation, you should definitely listen to this full episode to hear Amanda’s tactics for scaling culture change and work. From launching a global community, to bringing a VoC program to the sales team to improve account transitions, to developing incubation periods for problem solving, her advice will help you develop a plan to tackle a CX implementation that affects partners on a global scale.
What do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
- During this empire building, you have to learn how to approve and standardize everything. Not everything can be a priority, or else you won’t really build much at all. Don’t become the drop-off location for things people don’t want.
- We all need to think about multiple listening systems and how you use them in efficient ways. Move away from the survey score. We’re bringing together storytelling with data; it’s important to bring in the human element because using anecdotes supported by data can be powerful.
- Embed in the employee lifestyle – it’s important to involve middle management, you can’t rely on your C-Suite CX leader to take care of it all.
About Amanda Sachs
Amanda is responsible for the Customer and Partner Experience strategy at Microsoft, where she manages an organization in charge of several key voice of customer programs and measurement systems. Amanda partners with senior leaders across the company to increase a customer-centric culture at the company.
Again, thank you for your support of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show. We’ve got a lot more great content for you in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!
P.S – At the end of the podcast I remind you about the goodies you can receive when you pre-order a copy of my forthcoming book, “Would You Do That to Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers.“
The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Customerville. Customerville transforms customer experience surveys into rich, interactive experiences using its unique Design-driven Feedback™ platform.
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!