“You can’t change Rome in a day. You need a plan and you need to take baby steps,” said Sue Martin Homes, Global VP of Customer Service at Newegg, the leading tech-focused e-retailer in North America. In today’s lively chat with Sue, we talk about her customer service experience and leadership that paved the way for her success in transforming the CX culture at Newegg, a multi-billion dollar company that has been customer-focused since its inception.
Customer Experience Leadership Means Being a Team Player
Sue has been leading customer service and experience work for more than 3 decades, and she really knows her stuff! Before getting into the tactical action plan that she put together for Newegg, Sue shared some general CX transformation wisdom with us. When it comes to navigating silos, Sue emphasized that customer experience involves all departments and can’t be done in silos. All teams play a part in customer experience because their work contributes to the customer journey, so it’s imperative that you get all leaders on board as you plan for company-wide initiatives.
Another good piece of advice that Sue shared is, you can’t get caught up in the emotions of the work. Be sure to think things through. You need to be able to take a look at something and not react when there’s a change, especially if the change may be perceived as negative.
When it comes to #CX work, be sure to think things through. You need to be able to look at something and not react when there’s a change, especially if the change may be perceived as negative. - Sue Martin Homes, @Newegg Click To Tweet
Assess the Current State and Build a Plan for Progression
Amazed by Newegg’s customer-centric attitude and loyal audience of techies and gamers, Sue had an overall positive experience upon joining the company. With the support of the CEO and the HR Department, she was brought onboard to transform the customer service department, slowly integrating improvements across the entire organization. Here is how Sue assessed the work that needed to be done when she first joined:
- Set expectations with your boss up front. The first month or two within your role is all about discovery. Your boss and C-Suite need to understand that you’ll spend this time getting a lay of the land. Sue told her boss not to expect any changes for 3 months; she needed this time to truly understand what was happening in the company.
- What department will you focus on first? Since customer service was Sue’s major focus, she spent a lot of time at the call centers, assessing their operations and workflow.
- Be aware of any ‘stupid rules‘ that might inhibit your employees. Do you have “talk time” countdown timers in your customer service centers? It’s time to do away with them! When Sue met with the frontline and listened to the calls they took, she was shocked to find out that there were countdown clocks in the call centers. Reps were expected to solve problems within a 3-minute “talk time.” She immediately got rid of this restriction, which placed undue burdens on the call reps and customers, who had to call back multiple times. In order to fully be customer-focused, problems should be solved without time restraints.
- Categorize the various factors that affect your CX and assess their statuses. Sue created three different buckets for the factors that played a role in the customer experience: processes, technology, and people. Each bucket was ranked from: things they’re doing great (green), things that we need to worry about (yellow), and risks (red). After presenting her findings to leadership and the C-Suite, Sue built a 3-year plan to tackle those buckets with assessment questions:
- Where are we in the process?
- When do we need to deal with the risks?
- How do we keep what’s going well – going well?
In addition to categorizing the many parts that feed the CX machine, Sue developed a sensible 3-year plan to help the teams get a big picture image of what to expect with the transformation:
- Year 1 – focus on training. How competent is your current team? Perhaps managers and supervisors need better development training. Additionally, it’s worthwhile to ensure they’re trained on how to handle emotional reactions to stressful situations, especially for those who deal directly with customers. Sue brought in outside agents to train the frontline on how to effectively and emotionally deal with customers.
- Year 2 – build an internal feedback mechanism in order to facilitate changes. You need to leverage your existing customer data. Use it to inform decisions. With all of the customer data they had at Newegg, Sue and her team categorized and prioritized how to select which items to improve for customers; this was where they began changing things.
- Year 3 – build customer service value proposition. Newegg needed to figure out its true purpose, so they designed a customer service value proposition. It was important that customers knew what to expect and employees knew what to deliver, reiterating that Newegg places value on employees first so they can provide value to the customers.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
- You can’t force anyone into your vision. You need to meet them where they are. There needs to be buy-in and everyone needs to have skin in the game.
And as some parting words, Sue reminds us to treat your employees the same way you’d want to treat your customers. Give them experiences and listen to what they’re saying. Teach them how their role is affecting the customer.
Treat your employees the same way you’d want to treat your customers. Give them experiences and listen to what they're saying. Teach them how their role is affecting the customer. #CX - Sue Martin Homes, @Newegg Click To Tweet
About Sue Martin HomesSue Martin Homes is a Global E-commerce Customer Service Executive with over 25 years experience in Customer Service, Call/Contact Center, and Business Operations Management in E-commerce Retail, Outsourcing, Wireless, Cable, and Airline industries. Directly responsible for overall operations, strategic planning; business plan development, preparing tactical operation and multi-million dollar operating budgets. Direct the management of forecasting, staffing, training, scheduling, and management development in single and multiple, multi-channel National and International Contact Centers. Executive Level responsibility for the overall customer experience; including social cloud monitoring, data mining, and analysis of customer value and experience.
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