This is the fifth in our Aiming for the Hearts of their Customers interview series, with seven Minnesota customer experience leaders sharing their strategy for the coming year. In this article, we catch up with Robin Schribman, VP of Customer Insight and Customer Experience at Thomson Reuters.
Thomson Reuters is a global B2B information, software and news company, with customer experience roles within each of their professional business units. Robin’s role, in the Global Brand Marketing Group is to focus on customer experience and insight that includes content creation, guidelines and integration efforts. She has specific responsibilities for customer insight in the financial and risk business.
Robin’s role was created two years ago to build consistency across the organization. Much of her effort is leading efforts, saying, “If we are to be a customer-first organization, what does that look like, and how do we bring that to life for our 60,000+ employees?” The role is deeply rooted in customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention.
To jumpstart this effort she put together their first annual customer experience workshop with 90+ employees across all divisions. The workshop included not just those with customer experience in their title, but also marketing and brand, sales, help desk and services. They spent the day discussing goals and objectives, governance, best practices, and system enablement.
As she says, “We spent a lot of time talking about how you take customer experience and make it end-to-end. Our customer experience is closely attached to our brand. What do we want to stand for? What is our mission, vision and purpose? And how do we live that every day within our employee base and our customers? The bigger question becomes; are we delighting our customers at every touch point?
“From my standpoint, it’s not only the touch points, but it’s building the bridges between them in all the ways our employees interact with our customers. Even the people who feel they aren’t connected to the customer are.”
Robin shared three major accomplishments in 2013. The first was the workshop, but also the ongoing sharing of best practices that came out of it. “The ability for all parts of the business to meet monthly and share challenges and best practices – given our time constraints and the natural tendency for each unit to focus on their own business, that’s not always the easy thing to do.”
A second success was to create a shared approach to customer satisfaction. Historically, each division had their own approach. While this worked well for each division, it made it difficult to compare results – particularly when businesses are customers of multiple divisions. Robin led the effort to create a consistent method of measuring and reporting customer insights, including a common customer relationship score.
A third focus was to insure customer driven decisions and driving actions that would have the most value to our business and our customers. “Getting the commitment to sending so many people to the workshop and agreement to the central loyalty and satisfaction reporting could never have been done without executive commitment to customer experience. They’ve created roles where people are actually responsible for delivering against customer experience.” In some cases separate CE boards have been established in the business units.
Planning for 2014
Looking to 2014, Robin told me, “We want to understand our professional customer better than anybody else. We did a study in 2012 of 4500 professionals in 7 countries in all the industries we serve. We’ll talk about part 2 – how do we continue to understand the professionals we serve better than anybody else? What motivates them? What innovation will have the most value? It’s all tied into the experience that creates true partnerships.”
“The second thing we’re going to do is to talk about the connections. I call them bridges, but they’re the connections between touch points. We need to identify across the organization where we need to repair those bridges and/or build new ones. This includes employee engagement and clarity of purpose”
Customer Experience Advice
Robin had the following advice to anybody new to a customer experience leadership role: “This is a listening and a partnership role with a sincere commitment to understanding and living within the customer’s world. You need to be passionate about your customer and your brand. If you’re not, it’s probably not a good role. And if you think that you will ever be finished or stay the same, be prepared for a surprise. Being flexible and driving for real behavioral change is essential.
“I also believe that when you focus efforts on each touch point and internally between touch points the experience we want our customers to have will come to life. It is the consistency and commitment that matters. Don’t sit in your office. Visit your customers, get out with your business partners.”
Her final advice was to remember why customer experience matters. “When you’re in a business, there are times when you’re insulated within that business, and to remain curious and customer-focused you need people who are committed to bringing that voice of the customer into your organization. Building the bridges between departments, business units and divisions, that is truly connected to your brand and revenue goals. Without that you can become very myopic and very product-focused. It matters now more than ever to think about that and how you’re going to be a part of your customer’s life and work.”