We recently learned that a good friend of ours and member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, Diana Helfinstine, VP of Customer Experience at Essilor, the world’s largest manufacturer of eyeglasses has passed away. In tribute to Diana, who has been a pillar in the CX community, we’re revisiting this podcast episode. Diana shared how she implemented customer experience strategies that fueled Essilor’s customer-driven growth, and created greater value for their customers and patients.
Align Business Visions and Assess Work to Be Done
Since Diana’s role at the time was newly created, she was able to essentially create her own job and figure out how to define the role. This can be fun and innovating, when you think about it. When Diana was first hired, she actually had 17 interviews! It turns out these multiple interviews were helpful, as they gave her more insight into the company.
During the interview process with the various executives, Diana learned about their goals and visions for both CX and the company as a whole. In many cases, leaders shared the same visions, and Diana realized she would have some alignment when starting this work. As we know, having support and unification from the C-Suite is a key factor in driving the customer experience implementation.
When it comes to defining CX at Essilor, Diana said, “it’s anything we do that it makes it easier for customers to do business with us.”
Diane’s first steps as a new CX Leader :
- Understand what your role is. Know your strengths and weaknesses so you can learn what you can realistically do for the organization.
- Realize who has a job of influence on the teams. Diana learned to listen to all of the different staff to hone in on what the opportunities and issues were. When you’re in a position of influence, you may not necessarily be a “leader.” You may find that it’s someone else, the “go-to” person on the team. Diana helped these influencers get more support and hop on the bandwagon for the CX work they were trying to accomplish.
- Gather your data and touch points around the customer journey and condense this information in a way so executives will look at it and understand it. Diana specified that you’ll need to walk the leaders through the customer journey so they can know what their customer is experiencing. Often times, executives want to do the right thing but are unaware of what’s actually happening at the customer interaction level.
Form a Partnership with the C-SuiteOftentimes, especially as the leader in customer experience is taking on a new role, the C-Suite will view the CCO as a service provider and not a partner. That’s not a beneficial approach to take, as alignment is necessary to make strides in the implementation. Diana mentioned that learning how to package your communications becomes essential because the attention spans are “pretty low.” For instance, she created “one-pagers” with easy-to-digest data from the customer journey for the C-Suite to grasp quickly. The one pagers also served as record-keeping tools and was a good support resource when new technologies or enhancements were needed to help customers and employees.
Diana approached her interactions with the C-Suite by showcasing how they’d benefit from the customer experience work. Essentially, her presentations allowed them to see how the work would affect their specific bottom line. This is a logical way to get the attention of C-Suite leaders, have them think about their compensation!
Take the lead when it comes to keeping the C-Suite partners involved. Diana mentioned that she needed to “stay on top” of other C-Suiters, because with a million plates spinning and competing priorities, it’s easy to be dropped from their list of priorities. “I am a pest,” she admits.
Diana’s Words of Wisdom
- Really listen and don’t take what you hear the first time as carte blanche but dig underneath to understand what the goals truly are. A common example is the oft-stated “the customer is No. 1.” That’s a great statement but if there’s no measurement around it, it’s meaningless. It won’t matter to senior staff and it can’t be tracked internally.
Really listen and don't take what you hear the first time as carte blanche but really dig underneath to understand what the goals truly are. #CX Click To Tweet
- Go listen to and talk with customers. It’s a huge advantage and value-add.
Go listen to and talk with customers. It’s a huge advantage and value-add. #CX Click To Tweet
- “Relationships are everything,” she finally notes.
Relationships are everything. #CX #CustExp Click To Tweet
About Diana HelfinstineEssilor is the world’s leading manufacturer of eyeglass lenses, recognized as one of the top 25 Most Innovative Companies in the World by Forbes for the past two years. (While predominantly B2B, Diana notes that B2C is always in the back of her mind.) A global company, Essilor provides corrective vision across 54 countries, driven by the mission to “Help The World See Better” for over 160 years.
As the VP, Customer Experience, Diana’s role was to compliment Essilor’s award-winning products by creating and implementing customer experience strategies that further differentiate their services, creating greater value for Essilor customers and their patients.
Diana was passionate about delivering the “voice of the customer” to provide actionable insights, enabling organizations to make better business decisions and meet/exceed corporate goals and objectives.
May Diana Helfinstine rest in peace; she will most certainly be missed. If you knew Diana and would like to share any of your thoughts about her and her contributions, please comment below.
Note from Jeanne: I want to let you know that we’ve now 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 new partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!