How Volkswagen is leading Customer Experience, With Jason Bradshaw – CB035

Episode Overview

Jason Bradshaw is the senior leader for customer experience — same role as a CCO, essentially — for the Volkswagen Group Australia. He’s been there since October 2015. Previously he held similar executive customer-facing roles with Target Australia, Fairfax Media, and Singtel Optus.

There are a lot of interesting aspects to my discussion with Jason, but one of the bigger ones is his hiring process, which was quite thorough. He had to present a proposal for his first 90 days in the role.  And, most importantly, he went through a very extensive set of interviews with every level of leadership  he would be working with.

About Jason

From his LinkedIn: Jeanne Bliss Jason BradshawDetermined to inspire engagement with employees and customers to deliver successful outcomes. Since the age of 14 I have been demonstrating my entrepreneurial skills and building a career that combines education, professional experiences and passion to transform businesses delivering improved operations, higher profits, engaged employees and excellence in customer experience.

Lead Transformational Change in a highly change fatigued organisation, revitalising employee and customer focus while driving major process reform programs.

Exceeded revenue targets by 30% and delivered green field ICT project providing sector wide savings and unprecedented levels of NSW Government Agency buy-in.

Increased contract utilisation by $5.26million within first 8 weeks as Senior Vendor Manager.

In short? He’s very vetted in this work.

Jason’s First Six Steps

Once Jason got through the hiring process, he went through six major steps to make sure he quickly and effectively built up a customer-driven growth engine. Those were:

Define and clarify this question: “What is customer experience?” This is where a lot of CCOs must begin, and Jason was no different.

Line of sight and operational implications: This is where you “frame up” what the work will look like across the organization, and who else might have their deliverables impacted.

Create momentum with focus: Jason outlined CX principles to present to other leaders and staff, complete with examples to make those principles come alive. It was all part of a broader plan — “What is CX?” communication strategies and training. I thought this was crucial overall, and have seen a few other successful CCOs try it. Oftentimes seasoned execs in other departments have an understanding of the customer (maybe not always data-driven) and how that customer relates to their silo. So, they don’t always understand why a new executive role has been created to focus on the customer. Defining it and focusing on it is key.

Study tour: This was really cool. Jason and his team created a study tour for leaders within Volkswagen and dealers across the network. It included:

  • An immersion trip to the Disney Institute
  • Keynote speakers
  • Ritz-Carlton leadership training
  • Tracking how dealers on the trip changed and improved

Customer hero network: Jason’s customer hero network consisted of dealerships working together to participate in driving change. This was a strong baseline of support for his team, as well as people they could tap re: stakeholder questions.

The “we” approach: … as in, we’re all in this together. It’s not operations and customer. It’s how operations affects the customer. Similarly, marketing can’t work without understanding the customer — so that needs to be a two-way street where each side is informing the other. I call this “one-company leadership.”

The Pay-It Forward Question

I end each interview with this question: “What do you know NOW that you wish you knew THEN?” Jason’s responses included:

  • Contextual communication: The message you deliver to a CFO is different from a CEO. With each stakeholder, you need to make the work real — and put it in terms and vocabulary they can understand.
  • Link it to business growth: How does the business advance as a result of your work? If this link isn’t there, very few will ultimately care.
  • Market the value (and hope) of the work: Understand how the work you do every week is benefiting the lives of others — both customers, but also stakeholders and other employees.
  • Your peer group: Too often we forget about peer groups at work as we manage up and down. Don’t do that. Engage your peer group as partners consistently.

Let me know some of your favorite parts of the discussion in the comments!


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