Today’s conversation with Michelle Musgrove, Senior Vice President of Experience at AARP, is chock-full of great tactical advice on what went into building and leading the customer experience program at her organization. As many of you may know, AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age.
Michelle started off her career in the marketing industry and found herself at AARP where she became the VP of the segmentation team in the marketing department. It was in that role, where she learned about the various strategies and models that AARP used to gather insights about customers. Intrigued by the information that was uncovered, Michelle established a Voice of the Customer program for AARP using text analytics to determine what people were organically saying about the organization. This was the beginning of her journey to developing a full-fledged CX program for the organization.
After receiving interest from other AARP leaders regarding customer insights, Michelle was approached to become a customer experience leader at the organization. Over the span of a year and a half, she’s been able to build a customer experience team and program from the ground up.
Lead by Changing Operating Processes and Infuse Them Into the Company
Michelle explains the importance of having a customer experience vision. Especially since in the beginning, you tend to get caught up in the work of fixing problems that you were alerted to from the customer feedback. You don’t want to get caught up in being the problem fixer, so she initiated her plan by looking at what was important for AARP to accomplish in the next three to five years, and how to implement the structure to get the work done.
Michelle states that their work is about embedding the CX skill sets into the organization, and in order to do this, she landed on three tracks of work to streamline the process.
- Enablement: this is where you focus on adopting CX practices across the organization. Here, Michelle and another colleague have gone to the various business units to understand their goals and then embed the CX tools, practices, and mindsets into their day to day operations.
- Metrics: Michelle shares that this is the track in which they focus on how to define success for the organization at the highest level and at the programmatic level.
- Design: “It’s not customer experience if the experience doesn’t actually change,” says Michelle. And in the Design track, her team works on creating new experiences, enhancements, and capabilities that make things easy and effortless for their customers.As a leader, you have to embed the CX skill sets into the whole organization, not just your department. -- Michelle Musgrove, SVP of Experience @AARP #leadership Click To Tweet
Put Your Agenda to the Side
Even with Michelle’s 3-track plan, she reiterates that when you’re initiating an all-encompassing program, you can’t just start off with an agenda of what you’d like to do. You need to understand what are the goals and metrics that you’re trying to accomplish. For Michelle, this means being very personalized and customized when it comes to establishing metrics for each of their business units.
“Build a scorecard, know your stakeholders, and understand what they want to see in a short amount of time,” says Michelle, when it comes to connecting the various silos of the work. She reminds us to be cognizant of the mindset of your internal teams because you always have to think through the lens of the customer. When it comes to the metrics, make sure that you’re measuring what the customer cares about.
Give No-Strings-Attached Information
Michelle and I discuss the importance of giving “no-strings-attached” information. This is actually a concept that Tom Peters and I recently touched on. When you provide value to others at no cost, then you earn your place. “Don’t sell before you sell,” is what I like to say.
Since AARP is an organization that supports the 50+ audience, Michelle shares that COVID-19 had a big impact on its members. She tells us that they used VoC data to learn what their customers needed to hear on a daily basis. During this time, it was important for Michelle and her team to be nimble and utilize all of their resources to share information with members and be a beacon for others.
During this time, Michelle leveraged customer insights and trends to work with her team and innovate and design a new website, Community Connections. This website was intended to get resources to their audience who suddenly found themselves more isolated and vulnerable. With the support of her team, they were able to optimize the experience on the website and have it up and running within two weeks.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“I think it goes back to the prioritization. There are a couple of times where I felt like we expended resources in places that we shouldn’t have expended resources. So just really kind of getting crystal clear on how you are going to prioritize and making sure that you give people some sort of plan B when you can’t take on their big project.”
About Michelle Musgrove
Michelle Musgrove has more than 15 years of specialized marketing experience including strategy, product development, segmentation, multi-cultural marketing, loyalty program management, relationship management and customer experience management.
Prior to joining AARP, Michelle led successful engagement and loyalty programs at AOL, American Express and JP Morgan Chase. Michelle graduated with a MBA and concentration in Marketing from the University of California at Berkeley as well as a BA in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
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