Welcome back to The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show. In this episode I speak with Renee Cacchillo, who is the Senior Vice President of Customer, Brand and Technology at the Safelite Group. Renee’s path to customer experience leadership is one I like to highlight because she earned her role through the years by proving her ability to lead and run a successful operation. As with many CCO-level leaders, Renee first ran service delivery and operations, then added brand as the CMO of the organization, then customer experience. She has recently added technology so that she is responsible for much of the experience delivery of the organization.
In our conversation, Renee outlined her clear path in embedding customer experience, including engaging with a data scientist to tell the story of customers’ lives and compel the organization to care about the “why” behind customer experience, emotions and business growth. She then walks us through the progression of actions that led to engage employees and leaders to elevate Safelite to the beloved position that they have with customers today.
There are some show notes below, but this interview has a ton of interesting aspects — so I’d definitely encourage a full listen.
About Renee Cacchillo
Named a 2015 Customer Champion by 1to1 Media, Renee Cacchillo is the Senior Vice President, Customer, Brand and Technology for Safelite® Group, a leader in vehicle glass and claims management services. Since joining Safelite Group in August 2011, Renee Cacchillo has been an influential leader who helped achieve the company’s goals by working collaboratively across various business units. She is responsible for leading Safelite as a world-class service organization, by driving performance in the areas of customer service and labor management. She also is responsible for enhancing the company’s brand journey, including data analytics, digital marketing. Additional, she leads the strategic direction of Safelite’s technology team. In this unique role, she is responsible for leading the company-wide effort to align the customer experience, marketing efforts, and technical enhancements more acutely.
With more than 15 years of experience, Cacchillo brings a wealth of experience, best-practice knowledge and a proven track record of success around improving the customer experience. Her background includes delivering results in fast-paced, consumer-focused businesses such as Bob Evans and Mimi’s Café Restaurants, Bath & Body Works/Limited Brands, Hallmark and Dillard’s Department Stores. She also has more than 5 years of experience at Accenture in leading large scale system implementations as well as in change management.
The importance of leadership buy-in
“If you’re people aren’t happy and they’re not bought in to what you’re doing,” says Renee, “then how can they provide a great experience back to the customer?” This is a crucial question in CCO work that is easy to gloss over with a focus on silos or quarterly returns. You need to, essentially, treat your employees and your customers in the same way: they’re both extremely valuable assets. Disengaged employees don’t benefit customers. As such, if your only focus is on customers (and you ignore your employees), you won’t be successful with customer work. The front lines (your employees) won’t execute on your strategy, because they’re disconnected. (Even Vegas casinos are beginning to embrace this idea.) Having buy-in from the CEO on down, as Safelite does, is crucial to this happening successfully.
You need to move from widgets, spreadsheets, numbers, and KPIs to a “why” culture — and one centered around stories. “A lot of our intuitive guesses about performance and the business were wrong,” says Renee. Here’s one example: Safelite had a hypothesis that all customers wanted a two-hour time window, i.e. between 2pm-4pm. Right now, they have a four-hour time window. It takes 1 hour and 20 minutes to change a window, so a two-hour time window doesn’t set the technician up for success. Safelite designed a survey and here’s what they found: customers just wanted to know 30 minutes ahead of time if their technician was on the way. They didn’t care about the specific time window. They had the options to check that on the survey, but what they cared about was being notified. It’s all about telling stories and getting customer feedback. These lead you to challenge your conventional approaches and thinking, and that’s crucially important to business growth.
Techniques for getting customer information
Renee recommends two major channels: customer focus groups and data points. Data points can include digital — such as time spent on various pages, or when web chats were introduced — and can also include more traditional, such as time on phone with a service rep. “If you do a successful customer journey map, you can really see all the areas when you interact with your customers,” says Renee, “and then you know where to focus and what to work on.” Operational performance and people performance can be aligned better via this type of customer journey mapping. For more on customer journey mapping in an entirely different context, listen to our Episode 4 with Samir Bitar of the Smithsonian.
Renee looks at along two key measures: (a) how easy Safelite is to do business with and (b) ensuring that their customer experience is memorable. “We have an excellence in service program for our technicians and they often go above and beyond the day-to-day operation,” notes Renee. “We have criteria that we look at which exceeds everyday circumstances, and that allows us to reward our technicians for going above and beyond.” In short: road maps are crucial to business, but they can’t be boxed-in, can’t-be-changed plans. You need to be open, have a vision, and be willing to change your mind. You also need to find those spots where you can reward and acknowledge, as Safelite did with the technicians.
“What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then”
This is my pay-it-forward question. I’ve asked all my guests this one — and I hope some younger CCOs in the making are using it as a road map for their own careers! Here’s what Renee said:
- It doesn’t have to be perfect to start. Get moving.
- You need leadership support. If they don’t believe in it and support it, it’s going nowhere.
- You’re going to be a change agent. Be prepared for this, because you will become the change agent in your company. As I joked with Renee, “Sometimes I feel like people want us to go away.”
- People claim to have a good culture, but then don’t focus on people: This is commonplace at some organizations, in part because issues around “culture” are harder to measure and define. The bottom line is this: if you want a good culture, which in turn will benefit your customer experience, you absolutely need to focus on your employees and their wants/needs as well.
We’ll be back Thursday with a new blog and next Tuesday (wow, August already?) with a new podcast guest.
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