In today’s episode with Amy Shioji, Head of Customer Experience at USA Today Network, we talk about how she advocated for a more holistic view of customer experience and loyalty at a media company, a vertical we don’t usually discuss. Facing challenges from the disruptive nature of the media industry, we talk about how she worked to break down internal silos, improve the digital aspect of the USA Today experience, and improve the employee experience as steps to put the customer at the center of their work.
Going Digital and Putting Customers First
When Amy joined USA Today, she led the company’s first subscriber loyalty program, a program designed to provide added value to your subscription through events, experiences, extra content, and deals. After seeing that the program had a lot of success driving behaviors that lead to greater business loyalty, they realized they needed to make material improvements to the overall customer experience on a day to day basis.
Given that media and journalism is in a more challenging environment than ever before, it was important that the company create a cohesive and reliable experience for USA Today customers. In order to survive, USA Today must become essential to a new generation of users, and in order to do this, it is focusing on becoming digital first and growing the audience by putting customer experience first. USA Today serves as an essential companion to seeking knowledge and understanding, so Amy and her team want to ensure they can help their audience get news in a more trusted way.
What did Amy’s process for implementing a CX transformation look like?
- Getting buy-in and alignment from the C-Suite. Specifically, she got buy-in from the CMO and Chief Strategy Officer.
- Amy did a lot of listening; she conducted interviews with peers, customers, and stakeholders to go through feedback sources. She wanted to understand the state of their people, processes and systems. These interviews helped her get a pulse for the culture of the employees and their views of the company as well.
- She realized they had to understand and define what customer experience means for Gannett. Needed to know what they were going to be driving towards and what mattered to the company and the customer.
- It was critical that they determine what the key metric for customer experience was going to be. In their case it was: satisfaction and demonstrating that correlation to subscriber retention. After determining this was their focus, they were able to make a business case for more formal investments like listening tools, more staff, and things that would enable them to implement and move forward from a CX perspective.
- Demonstrate quick wins where possible: Amy and her team redesigned bills to make them easier to understand, to pay online, and reduce customer effort and call volumes. It showed that CX adds value to the business.
It took Amy about 3 months to pull together all of her feedback and put it into a summary and present to her C-Suite while also running the loyalty program. Since Amy was driving this CX implementation, she was passionate about moving the program forward so they could truly demonstrate the impact of this work.
Highly Engaged Employees Create Stronger Customer Satisfaction
As we all know, a supportive C-Suite helps move the work along. Amy’s C-Suite was approachable and involved in the day to day work. With the CX team reporting in to the Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, her team received feedback and insights from the marketing and sales side, and then also strategy and product development, research and insights from the CSO. Amy even had support from the Chief People Officer, i.e – the head Human Resources department. Factoring in the customer experience also became a part of their on-boarding experience. With participation from the C-Suite, they’ve been able to work on an employee engagement survey, making sure the questions are well aligned in terms of understanding what drives satisfaction on the employee side around empowerment, autonomy, and enablement.
Amy understood that employee experience was a key metric because highly engaged employees help create high satisfaction and loyalty with customers. The team pulled in Glassdoor reviews and any other feedback from review websites to understand what employees thought about them, and how the company improve employee satisfaction and performance. Over time, Amy has seen employees become more motivated to take initiative and do right by the customer.
What do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
- Be authentic. Your metrics shouldn’t be internally driven, they need to be tied to your customers and how you improve your relationship with them in a meaningful way.
- Do fewer things, better. Customer experience is as much a discipline of what you won’t do, in addition to what you will do.
- Focus on the work that really delivers against the most important parts of the experience. Ensure that you have the people and processes in place to deliver in a systematic way every single time.
Focus on the work that really delivers against the most important parts of the experience. Ensure that you have the people and processes in place to deliver in a systematic way every single time. - Amy Shioji @usatoday #CX Click To Tweet
Lastly, Amy leaves us with this line: customer experience is an endurance sport, it’s a long game in a lot of cases where you have short wins, but you also have to be sure you’re having a good time doing it.
About Amy ShiojiAmy is Vice President of Customer Experience & Insights for the USA TODAY NETWORK. In her role, Amy leads the NETWORK’S customer experience strategy for USA TODAY and 109 local media brands nationwide, focused on maximizing value and increasing consumer loyalty and retention.
Amy’s focus is on improving the NETWORK’s overall customer satisfaction, loyalty, and engagement with customers, and owns the “voice of the customer” in helping to drive feedback and improvements across key touch points. She also oversees the development of key consumer insights, data science, and actionable models designed to grow audience, revenue, and CX at scale across the customer lifecycle.
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