As CIO, you can make or break the Student Experience

Ask a University or College student what their number one concern is for a great technology experience, and they’ll probably look at you funny. But fill a lecture room with 300 students and watch wifi access grind to a halt, give students access to a breakout room with uneven wifi coverage, or open a new campus half-way around the world and listen to students’ complaints about intermittent wifi access, and it becomes very clear that fast, consistent wireless internet access is top of mind for students…at least when it doesn’t work.

Of course it goes without saying that for students to have a great Higher Education experience, the product has to be great; i.e., the faculty have to be thought-leaders that deliver engaging lectures, the campus environment, the layout and structure of the buildings and lecture rooms have to be highly functional, and the culture of the institution has to align with the students’ values.

But underlying the bricks and mortar is the dependence of students on technology – to be in the know about the goings on on campus, to be able to pick their courses at the start of the term, check the online ratings of professors, take notes that synch with their phones, do research, look up their marks, collaborate with fellow students, discover which campus events are worth going to. The list goes on.

…underlying the bricks and mortar is the dependence of students on technology

Indeed, in the “old days”, when I did my MBA at least, cell phones weighed about two and a half pounds and computers were “luggable”; not portable. We faxed notes to one another and carried around books that took their toll on our shoulders. When we had to hand in a group paper, we asked the guy who knew how to type, to consolidate the notes and key them into Wordperfect. Then he’d print the report on his dot-matrix printer, run off hard-copies for everyone, and hand the final copy in to the professor the next day.

Fast forward to today, and we no longer think about the technology that touches almost every aspect of our lives; of student life. It’s taken for granted; expected. We no longer breathe air. We prefer wifi and 4G instead.

The ubiquity of mobile, means we’re always on. Service delivery is not only measured by the quality of the solution, and the attitude of the University staff, but by the number of minutes it took to solve the problem. Who can wait days or even hours any more? We live in a just-in-time world.

This puts huge pressure on IT staff, because if you dissect the student journey, right from making the decision about which institution to go to, to applying to a University or College, to getting accepted and choosing a program and courses, to being a student and all that it entails, to graduating, to getting involved in the alumni community, to giving back to the school…each touchpoint has an underlying element of technology. Each point at which the student and institution cross paths is likely layered with some piece of technology – a mobile app, email, a social network, an online community, a legacy system, a piece of data, an interaction with the Student Information System, whatever. There’s no way around it.

Each point at which the student and institution cross paths is likely layered with some piece of technology…

And it’s at any of these touchpoints that the student can either be left with a positive memory of “wow, that just blew me away!” or a negative memory of “what a terrible #fail!”…strong emotions of delight, or frustration and disbelief. So what happens next? Where does the student turn? …time to share that experience with friends and family perhaps? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat?

You can be pretty sure that if the strong positive or negative emotion was triggered by an event that helped define the student’s opinion of the institution, that she will very likely share a comment or story about the incident on Social Media. And so it goes. If we do something really well, people talk about it. If we do something really poorly, people talk about it. But few talk about the boring stuff in between. No one has time to share a comment about the status quo. And people often think “if no one’s complaining about us, we must be doing an OK job”. If this is what you’re thinking, you’re fooling yourself. Consider that over 50% of angry people never complain about a problem. So what does this imply about those students who simply accept the status quo?

As technology leaders and enablers of the flow of information in our various institutions, CIOs are in the unique position of being able to impact the student experience and raise the bar on what might otherwise be boring, average interactions between the students and the school. Taking this a step further, if 50% of complaints are not being heard, can we afford to be complacent? Sure, we can bury our heads in the sand and say “it’s not my job to worry about non-technical student concerns”. But then we’re supporting the status quo in our Universities; supporting being average in our Colleges, and we’re potentially supporting disruption of our institution. We need to be constantly thinking of innovative ways to create “wow moments” by adding value (technological or informational) at various touchpoints along the student journey.

…CIOs are in the unique position of being able to impact the student experience and raise the bar on what might otherwise be boring, average interactions

Here are 7 tried and tested ways for CIOs to create or facilitate a winning Student Experience:

  1. Get out of your office. Walk the halls. Listen to the conversations students are having. Find out how they really feel about the University systems and applications they use on a daily basis. Ask them. What works? What doesn’t? Listen to conversations staff and faculty are having about students. What are some of their struggles? Take notes. Document the feedback. You may even want to share it openly with the school as your starting point; your baseline from which to move forward.
  2. Spend a half-day at the College Help Desk. Observe how your staff speaks with students, faculty, and staff on the phone, how they interact in person, their body language. Watch the reaction on the faces of the people asking for assistance. Do they look happy after the interaction or did they leave with pursed lips and a feeling of frustration? If faculty and staff leave the service desk frustrated, this will likely trickle down to students. Let’s not forget, students don’t exist in a silo. Their interactions with people outside of the student community impact their overall experience at the institution.
  3. Get on Social Media. Specifically, create a Twitter account. Listen to what students are saying. Open the lines or channels of communication that are used by students. Engage with them. Help them to see your human side. Just because you’re in IT, doesn’t mean that all you think about are bits and bytes…at least one would hope not, especially if you’ve made it to the CIO or IT Director level.
  4. Sit in on a lecture or two. What’s the experience like for students; for the instructor? Is all the classroom technology working the way it should, is the Professor fumbling around to get it all working, or might it help if he had a PhD in engineering? How’s the Professor doing as an instructor? Is she engaging? Is she boring? Is there anything you could help this faculty member with to perhaps make her delivery more interesting? …after all isn’t she in the role of delivering/sharing information with her students? Just as the CIO is in the information enablement and delivery business, are Professors not serving a similar function?
  5. Introduce technologies that are intuitive. When was the last time you read the Facebook user manual (if there is one)? How about Dropbox or Asana or Gmail? These easy-to-use applications are the standard by which all software learning curves are measured. My rule of thumb is, if it takes me more than 10 minutes to get the overall gist of a new technology and its features, it’s going to be an uphill battle for students….a battle I may not be prepared to fight. If they’re not going to adopt it and use it, why even take the risk of investing in it and bringing it into the school? New technology implies change, and no one likes change, no matter how often they’re confronted with it. If you can lower the barriers to adoption, you’re more likely to succeed and have students reap the benefits of its use.
  6. Put together a Student Advisory Committee. Reach out to students who you feel would take an active role in dialoguing with you about technology at the University. Meet with them formally once a term, and as they move through completion of their degrees, bring on newer students to replace those that have graduated. Another less formal way of doing this might be to simply meet with individual students that have taken an interest in technology, on a one-on-one basis through the year just to dialogue about what’s working and what’s not working.
  7. Develop an IT Strategic Plan that is student-centric. As you develop your short and long-term plan, each deliverable should impact the student community in some positive way. Make sure that as you prioritize these deliverables, they are projects that the students, through focus groups, discussions, and/or surveys, have identified as areas that would provide them with high value but that the university is falling short on. Focus in on those with the biggest gaps between what the students want and their level of satisfaction. Try to steer clear of prioritizing projects that have a lesser impact on the student experience.

As CIOs we need to see things from the “inside-out”; through the eyes of the student. We need to understand and make their pain points our priority. I tend to view students through a customer service lens – I see them as our most important customer. We need to give them the highest priority on the service scale. After all they ultimately pay our salaries.

As CIOs we need to see things from the “inside-out”; through the eyes of the student.

As technology leaders in Higher Education, we need to worry less about buying the latest pieces of hardware or upgrading to the latest versions of software and more about “how can I use or introduce technology to reduce friction that the students are experiencing, so that they can focus on achieving their main goal – learning and completing their often rigorous programs” and “how can I find a way to add some technology (at this particular touchpoint) that will improve the student experience and create a feeling of delight; something worth sharing”. Keep in mind the strongest form of marketing comes from within – from our existing customers…our students. They can be our biggest, most vocal advocates, and share positive stories with their friends and family…but only if we deliver great experiences that elicit emotion and make them worth sharing.

Some of us may want to rethink our priorities as CIOs. Do we have our heads buried in the sand, or are we focussed on ways to create great experiences for our students? A consequence of making the wrong choice is that disruption may interrupt our comfortable careers faster than we think.

Should you be investing in Social Customer Service? Have you asked your Customers?

My eye caught a couple of interesting tweets the other day at lunchtime. They were snippets of a Twitter chat that was streaming across my screen. In or out of the context of the chat dialogue that was running in the background, these two tweets raise some interesting questions about the importance of investing in a Social Customer Service strategy.

First tweet: “The “right” social channel depends on where your customers hang out. You party where the party is happening” and then second tweet: “…it makes little sense to be on Twitter if your customers don’t use it despite its popularity”.

Putting on my Customer Experience hat (because that’s my current lens), when we think of the various touchpoints where customers interact with a company to resolve service issues, Customer Care, the Call Centre, the IVR channel, the corporate website often come up in Journey Mapping exercises. However, we’re starting to see Social Media, and in particular, Social Customer Service, coming up as a touchpoint that people want to delve into in more depth in the mapping process.

Whether brands like it or not, customers are forcing their hands to use Social Media to communicate with them. Because customers can now control the message, they have the power to generate their own negative groundswell about a brand. Now whether this will impact a brand’s success depends on the brand strategy; i.e., consider the fake RyanAir Facebook page created by angry RyanAir customers. RyanAir has made a conscious choice, as a deep discount airline, not to engage with its customers on Social Media. Will the fake account impact sales? Probably not. But if a fake Twitter or Facebook account were set up to spoof a more mainstream or premium brand and was used to create negative buzz, or if an avalanche of negative comments went viral in Social Media, it could have some reputational damage for the brand.

Because customers can now control the message, they have the power to generate their own negative groundswell about a brand.

What I’ve discovered from working with clients at major brands across the country, speaking with colleagues, and just my own observations, is that companies are at different stages in the Social Customer Service life cycle.  And don’t kid yourself, these are early days for most. Companies are still experimenting with what works and what doesn’t.  While some companies have a strategy around how they’re rolling out Social Customer Care, others have just jumped into it in a “trial by fire” sort of way. Some are at a very early, very cautious stage with PR doing the listening; others have been at it for a couple of years and have a team of Customer Service agents engaging with customers. For many, Marketing is handling all the Social inquiries.  Some companies are listening and engaging 9 to 5, on week-days only; others, 24 x 7 and across the globe.

Rogers and TD Bank have multiple agents manning their Twitter accounts and engaging with customers about service issues. Flight Centre has multiple geographic accounts with multiple agents, so that it’s handling service issues 24×7. Canada Post is into the third phase of its recently launched Social Customer Service strategy (they just went live July 3rd) and is priming for high volume engagement over the Christmas season, according to Brian Beehler, their Director of Social Media. Interestingly, retailers in fashion especially, are quite diverse in how they engage. A quick scan of their Twitter accounts, while still marketing-heavy, show clear distinctions from zero engagement and one way push, to ongoing conversations and great engagement. One might intuitively think that fashion retailers would be pretty aligned in their Social strategies.  Yet just look at the low to high engagement continuum between The Bay, Holt Renfrew, Club Monaco and Aldo Shoes, respectively as you scan the activity in their Twitter profiles. Can you see how they differ?

Aldo does a great job with its Twitter profile

Others, like Town Shoes, doesn’t seem sure how they’re going to engage yet. So there’s a real mish-mash out there. Seems pretty random to me, but perhaps just a function of where the company is on the Social Media adoption curve.

In order to help build the business case for Social Customer Service and put it on the priority list, an important question companies should be asking is whether providing Customer Service via Social Media is a “Moment of Truth” (MoT) or not? In other words, will the interaction between customer and company at the Social touchpoint, be an event that helps define the customer’s opinion of the brand? Do we have an opportunity to leave our customer or prospect with a lasting memory of a great experience that they’ll want to share with their friends and colleagues?

In order to help build the business case for Social Customer Service…an important question companies should be asking is whether providing Customer Service via Social Media is a “Moment of Truth” or not?

At the company I work for, we have a methodology for defining “Moments of Truth” quantitatively. We define a “Moment of Truth” as a large gap (on a 100 point scale that’s relative to the size of the other gaps – usually over 30 points) between what the customer says is important to them and how satisfied they are with the touchpoint. [Note the red box around the Social Customer Service touchpoint, in the image below. The MoT gap is 36 points.] This “Moment of Truth” is determined by presenting our customers with a series of quantitative questions where they’re asked to rate the importance and satisfaction of various attributes about each touchpoint). So if customers are telling us that Social Customer Service is important to them, and they are highly dissatisfied with their experience at this touchpoint, this would suggest we have an opportunity to invest in and/or improve Social Customer Service and create lasting memories for them. We would prioritize this as a touchpoint we want to invest in. And by invest, I mean, not only to improve the experience through better tools, training of Social Agents, and interactions, but also to create an innovative approach that would differentiate us in the marketplace.

“Moments of Truth” help us focus in on what’s most important for our customers

Why are businesses investing in Customer Experience strategy in the first place? It’s to help differentiate themselves in a commoditized world. It’s to help them create lasting memories at specific touchpoints so that their customers want to share with their friends, family, and colleagues how they felt about banking at the newly-designed branches, experiencing the cool vibe at the restaurants, speaking to an empathetic, upbeat customer service rep on the phone about returning a product, getting a tweet about a delayed flight responded to positively within 3 minutes, etc.  The emotional rush that we get from an exceptional experience and the desire to share the story with people we know, is the essence of the Net Promoter Score a metric used by many leading organizations, it’s at the heart of Word of Mouth marketing, and it’s shown to have direct links to increased loyalty and increased profitability.

Why are businesses investing in Customer Experience strategy in the first place? It’s to help differentiate themselves in a commoditized world.

Let’s not forget that organizations have limited budgets. Social Customer Service is but a single touchpoint where our clients (depending on the business we’re in) can engage directly with us. Social Customer Service may well be worth pursuing; however, if we can’t build the business case for it, will our executives give us the funding to invest in the staff, training, and tools to make it a success? You may be able to show how an investment in Social Customer Care can offset some of your Call Centre costs (if you have a Call Centre); you may be able to sell it to the executive committee using fear as a tactic; i.e., if you ignore service requests on Social, it may lead to a PR nightmare. At the end of the day though, as organizations become more customer-centric in order to differentiate from their competitors, unless their customers are telling them that this is really important and the company is doing a lousy job at it, it’s probably going to be low on the priority scale for executive investment.

What do you think?  Do you think an investment in Social Customer Service is important for your own company?   How important do you think it is for your customers?

ING Direct’s FOR SALE sign needs to include: “…featuring an awesome Customer Experience”

Who will the “big fish” be?

“Some news to get while on Vacation!!” That was the reply I got from Jaime Stein, ING Direct Canada’s Manager of Social Media, when I sent him a direct message on Twitter last Thursday. Word had gotten out in the media about the Bank’s impending sale, and I was curious if Jaime had some inside information. “Nothing.” He asked me what I knew. “No idea”, I said. Jaime and I had kept in touch over Twitter since connecting at ING Direct’s first “Meet and Tweet” in Toronto [PIC] back in January 2010. (Jaime was Manager of Digital Media at the Canadian Football League back then). He’d only been in his new role at ING Direct for 5 months when he got word that his company was being sold.

If you haven’t already heard, ING Groep NV, the Dutch parent, is planning to sell off the Canadian Direct Banking unit in order to restructure and pay down a good portion of its remaining debt to the government from the 2008 financial bailout. The Canadian Financial Services market is abuzz with speculation.  Who will the buyer end up being?  National Bank?  Scotiabank?  Manulife Financial?  PC Financial?  You can be sure that a slew of Barbarians are just chomping at the Gate.

When you read through the various opinion articles, from both Canada and abroad, and the analyst predictions, the stories are about return on assets, book value, the impact on the banking sector, market share opportunity, predicted purchase price.  Nowhere is there any mention of the human side – the uniqueness of the ING Direct Canada brand, the transparency of Peter Aceto, the CEO, their involvement in building and supporting community, the unique culture created by the 1,100 employees, the Café experience, the high proportion of millennial customers.

Why is it that the human side is so often ignored in these stories of corporate acquisition?

Why is it that the human side is so often ignored in these stories of corporate acquisition? Aren’t stories of human interest, culture and people what make for engaging articles? Isn’t it the stories of great leadership and approaches to creating social good, that engage peoples’ interest?

ING Direct Teams ING Direct Olympic Event - Vancouver British Columbia Photos courtesy of WWF-Canada/Linda Lee and Kris Krüg, respectively, on Flickr

When I look at ING Direct, I see an organization that has employees committed to the brand, I see a CEO that has taken risks in such a regulated market and puts himself out openly and regularly on Social Media, I see a company that has taken very simple financial products and has bundled wonderful experiences around them, I see a Social Brand that has put its values proudly on display for all to see.  To think that ING Direct’s value proposition is about its direct online approach to delivering their product – they can offer lower fees and higher rates of return than the Big 5 because they don’t have the overhead of physical space – would be naive.  What’s really differentiated them in the marketplace is how they execute, how they build brand advocacy from within, how they’ve created an open organization, their leverage of Social Media as a tool of engagement and collaboration, and how they’ve developed trust with their clients.  ING Direct has built a brand that offers its customers unique experiences they don’t get with other financial institutions. The commoditized world in which we live would do well to learn from these guys.

What’s really differentiated them in the marketplace is how they execute, how they build brand advocacy from within, how they’ve created an open organization, their leverage of Social Media as a tool of engagement, and how they’ve developed trust with their clients.

When we think back to TD Bank’s acquisition of Canada Trust in 2000, it learned that it could differentiate itself on the retail side, through a focus on customer service, and doing it well would lead to increased profitability.  When they subsequently bought Commerce Bank in the US seven years later, TD learned how to offer unique branch experiences, and what that also meant for the bottom line.  TD Financial understood that banking services are highly commoditized; that the only way to offer something competitive in the market is to create unique experiences for their customers, and continually work to innovate and keep those experiences fresh and exciting.  And as a result, TD leads the market in customer loyalty.  It’s in an enviable position to hold.

Fast forward to this week. The Canadian Banking Sector is primed for a bit of a shake-up right now, with ING Direct’s “FOR SALE” sign out on the front lawn.  The almost $40 billion in assets or the return on assets are not all that’s at stake here.  (Consider that CIBC, the fifth largest of the Big 5 had assets of over $350 billion at the end of last year, and RBC, at number one, had assets of over $750 billion). I see the real opportunity as being among ING Direct’s almost 2 million loyal customers and its 1,100 engaged employees. ING Direct has a groundswell of advocates. And you know what they say about the value of brand advocates. The prospectus for this sale needs to highlight “awesome Customer Experience” as a key asset. It needs to highlight the human factors; the strong culture; the strength of brand advocates both within the company and among its clients.

The prospectus for this sale needs to highlight “awesome Customer Experience” as a key asset.

As we speculate about potential buyers, it’s possible that TD Financial may end up picking up ING Direct. Anything’s possible. Remember, it has to work both ways. If that happens, you can be sure they’ll win the JD Power award for highest in Customer Satisfaction for an 8th year in a row.  If one of the other big banks succeeds, they’ll have a better chance of dethroning TD, if they are prepared to learn from the ING culture and can think outside the hard asset box. If one of the smaller guys buys them, this could get exciting.  Word is, we’ll find out by the Fall.  Let’s hope for the best, for the sake of the employees and the customers of ING Direct.

Do you have what it takes to become Chief Customer Experience Officer? This VP Marketing did.

We live in a social, consumer-driven economy that is highly complex and offers many points of interaction for the customer.  Companies that will thrive, are those that can engage with their customers meaningfully across all touch points.  Corporate marketing  can no longer control the message or the brand.  Engagement with the customer must become the responsibility of the entire organization.   In effect, as Tom French, Laura LaBerge, and Paul Magill of McKinsey stated so clearly in their July 2011 article, “We’re all marketers now“.  In this new era of engagement, marketing is the organization, and it’s all about the Customer Experience.

What does this shift mean for the VP of Marketing or the CMO?  If marketing is the organization and engagement is the responsibility of the entire organization, then these roles have to evolve, and perhaps this builds a strong case for companies to now rally around a Chief Customer Officer rather than the person who runs Marketing.

Westminster Savings, a British Columbia, Canada-based Credit Union (ranked 14th largest in Canada by asset size), has recently gone through some structural change as a result of this type of progressive thinking.  Maury Kask, who’d been in the VP Marketing role for over three and a half years, was just promoted into the newly-created role of SVP Chief Customer Experience Officer, at the beginning of March.  I caught up with Maury on the phone last week, to better understand what the implications of this move were for the company, his own career, and for other marketing professionals who can see the writing on the wall.

Here are Maury’s responses to the questions I asked:

1. When did the topic of Customer Experience first pop up on your radar screen?

Maury:  Last February, as we were starting our strategic planning process, Customer Experience became an increasingly important part of the discussion, because we were starting to think about who we were, what made us different, and what was going to be the future value proposition to help us differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.  This is when the subject of Customer Experience began to get talked about in earnest, in the company.

2. Can you share a bit about your career background?

Maury Kask - SVP Chief CE Officer

Maury:  I’m a cross-functionally experienced marketer.  My background spans strategic marketing, branding and communications, e-commerce, product marketing and promotions, corporate sponsorship and citizenship, sales, and anything in between, which I’ve been doing for about 23 years.  I have a background in information technology, consumer packaged goods, transportation, hospitality and tourism, Telco, and five years working internationally.  I have only been working in Financial Services since 2008.  Instead of staying in one vertical and rising up through it, I wanted experience in a variety of sectors to increase the value I can provide.  I’ve worked in different businesses of different sizes – from a small software start-up in Seattle Washington with 6 people, right up to a global multinational with close to 1,000,000 employees.

3. What is the mandate of a Chief Customer Experience Officer?   What does the new structure look like?

Maury:  At the strategic level, it’s being the champion for the strategy, leadership, planning, and execution of all Customer Experience related strategies at an enterprise level.  This is a fundamental part of our new Strategic Plan. Tactically, the mandate is a comprehensive view, and probably a very authoritative view of our customers and developing and executing strategy to enhance our differentiation, maximize acquisition, retention, and customer profitability.  It requires a comprehensive, strong view of our customers that is very insight-driven, that helps us to differentiate in a very undifferentiated space.

The functions that I directly oversee today are traditional marketing, communications, internal communications, community investment, products and services and how they impact our channel and delivery strategy.  I also oversee our mobile and e-commerce channels as well as our customer Contact Centre. I work very collaboratively with other delivery channel owners.  We’ve also created a new position – Manager, Customer Experience – that directly reports into me.  I’ve got everything from traditional, promotional and marketing communications that customers are seeing and experiencing – advertising, and all the associated components, all the way through to the products and services they use.  I impact the delivery channels in which they use them, and that extends down into how customers engage with us, and ultimately how we translate our brand promise into what we do in the community.

For me, the move doesn’t feel risky. It feels like a natural extension and kind of the world that every marketer wishes they had…

4. When we talk about career moves, people often play it safe and stay within their comfort zones; where they’ve developed most of their experience.  Moving from Marketing into Customer Experience, is a bold, risky move.  How do you see it?

Maury:  Going back to my first comment, as marketers, we regularly talk about the need to live and breathe our brand. In this new position, not only can I promote that mantra, but I’m now also responsible to help make it happen throughout the organization, which is a very enabling move for me. I’m also expected to work cross-functionally to look at all policies, practices, processes, the entire customer experience, everything that should be a reflection of what our brand promise is. It’s hugely fulfilling.

For me, the move doesn’t feel risky. It feels like a natural extension and kind of the world that every marketer wishes they had, because as a marketer you have control of your functional area and you try as best as you can to impact others.

5. Doesn’t it scare you?

Maury:  The things that scare me about it are probably 1. The size, the scope, and the complexity of the challenge probably presents a bit of a scare for me because now I have to look at things through an entirely new lens and a much deeper lens; and 2. I don’t have an Operations background here and a lot of Chief Customer Officers come from an Operations background in some way, shape or form. I’ve worked in Operations in other industries but not in Financial Services; so this is new for me. Fortunately I work with a great team of people at Westminster Savings and we’re all out to do our best together.

I’m very fortunate to have the full support of the Executive team.

6. As a Customer Experience practitioner, I know first-hand how difficult it is to get buy-in from the Executive Team about investing in Customer Experience. How difficult was it for you to get buy-in from your peers and the CEO, for this new position?

Maury:  I’m very fortunate to have the full support of the Executive team. As part of our strategic planning process, the Executive Management Team collectively agreed that someone needed to take ownership of it at the Executive level, and I was approached as a candidate. This was presented to our CEO and he agreed.
So at the start of last year I was put in charge of leading the development of our Strategic Plan. As part of building our strategy, talking about our strategy, and helping to prepare the document, I became a bit of an authority on our strategy and what we’re trying to accomplish. So from that standpoint, it felt like a very natural progression to go into this kind of role, because for the most part, I was assigned to leading the Strategic Plan over the course of that same year.

7.  What are you hoping to achieve for the business in this new role, that you were unable to do as VP Marketing?

Maury:  First, I’ve got to take off my VP Marketing hat. While I still oversee the marketing function, I’ve got to take that hat off in order to see our business differently. Working with the rest of the Executive Team, I’m looking to make a very strong cross-functional impact. Based on our Strategic Plan initiatives we know we have to break down some silos and make our Customer Experience even better than it has been in the past. We know it’s already very good, but our challenge is how to make it even better and take a customer view across our process – re-look at everything we’ve done from a policy, procedure, practice, and strategy perspective and look at it from a total customer view. It’s going to mean working horizontally across the organization, working collectively with the executive management team, and ultimately it’s all about delivering some differentiated Customer Experiences that are going to set us apart from everybody else.

Based on our Strategic Plan initiatives we know we have to break down some silos and make our Customer Experience even better than it has been in the past.

8.  What sort of advice can you share with other Marketing Professionals about the importance of Customer Experience?

Maury:  I’d probably come back to what I’ve said before, which is, in most service-oriented businesses, it’s almost entirely about the Customer Experience.  If you’re not thinking about how your organization delivers on its brand promise, then you’re not thinking about Customer Experience and you need to be thinking about it.  Customer Experience is a fundamental part of what we’ve done in a marketing function for quite some time.  Now the opportunity for marketers who’ve always taken a customer insight-driven approach to building marketing strategies, is how to extend that to directly impact a customer’s experience.


So for Maury Kask, this move from VP Marketing to SVP Chief Customer Experience Officer, made perfect sense.  His immersion in leading the Strategic Planning process for the past year, and incorporating the Customer Experience as an integral part of the plan, made this new role a natural fit for him.  How about for others?  What if you didn’t come from Marketing or Operations? What if you had to gain the support of your Executive team? Do you feel you have what it takes to become Chief Customer Officer?

Disclosure: Westminster Savings is a client of Strativity Group, the company I work for.

By the way, Maury’s promotion is so fresh, that at the time of this writing he hasn’t even had a chance to update his LinkedIn profile.