CX Confessions: Candid conversations with customer experience leaders

SurveyMonkey's VP of CX Christine Rimer shares her thoughts on the evolving role of CX to kick off our monthly LinkedIn livestream series.


Camille Rasmussen

April 17, 2020

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CX leaders want to make a difference. They don’t get into customer experience because they want to be great at asking questions, nor do they want to analyze for the sake of analysis. What they do want is to understand how best to improve their customers’ experience so they can make it easier for people to do business with their organization. But getting organizations to act on insights and improve the experience is consistently listed as a top challenge for CX leaders.

While there’s lots of articles and reports on how to run a CX program, we’ve repeatedly heard from CX leaders that what they want is a chance to hear authentic, practical advice on how other CX leaders have tackled their biggest challenges. Given SurveyMonkey has helped people gather and act on customer feedback for years, we decided to launch a LinkedIn livestream series, CX Confessions. We’ve invited some of the brightest, most experienced CX leaders to share their stories so we can learn what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what they would do differently.

To kick off the series, SurveyMonkey’s Director of Social Media Rhonda Hughes sat down with our VP of Customer Experience & Advocacy Christine Rimer—who will be hosting the conversations going forward—to dig into her own experience running the Customer Experience program at SurveyMonkey. If you missed it, you can view the livestream on demand, or read on for the top four themes of the discussion.

Taking action on insights

So often, CX teams gather and summarize customer feedback into thoughtful reports, highlighting recommendations and next steps for their cross-functional partners. Unfortunately, if the reports come after resources and roadmaps are committed, the teams that have the talent needed to improve the experience aren’t in a position to take action on the insights. This leaves everyone frustrated with the lack of progress—including your customers.

In taking on her new SurveyMonkey role in January, Rimer started with the question, ”How do we orient the program to assure we take action on our customers’ feedback to drive meaningful business results in 2020?" 

She started the year by meeting  with the most senior leaders and asking where customer feedback would help them make better decisions this quarter. "It's kind of a backwards way of looking at it,” Rimer confessed. But she realized she needed a fresh way to run her CX program—one that would improve the customer experience in weeks and months, not years.

It’s uncomfortable, she admitted. You’re confronted with such a long list of "I should, I should, I should, I should.” But she’s tried to keep questioning, “if you’re not going to take action on the feedback, is that the place to focus?” as her North Star beacon. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gather feedback from broader rNPS, CSAT, or Customer Effort programs across the business to get broader insights. But given there’s always limited capacity for taking action, it’s important to balance the 1 or 2 cross-functional initiatives that can take months or years to implement with the efforts that align to existing priorities in order to see action and impact in weeks.   

Building trust within the organization

Putting action first helps with gaining organizational buy-in. “Instead of saying, ‘Here's all the data,’ you're saying, ‘What data do you need?’ to start building that credibility and building that trust within the organization,’” Hughes observed.

It’s flipping the script, Rimer agreed.

It's really thinking about the customer experience role as, ‘How can I be of service to my peers?’

This helps CX pull people from multiple functions together, she said. “We are in service of our business leaders in product, success, support, marketing and finance so they can make better decisions by listening to the voice of the customer.” 

The evolving role of CX 

One topic discussed at length was how the customer experience role continues to evolve. 

Following the lead of SurveyMonkey’s social leader Rhonda Hughes who last year surveyed over 400 of her social leader peers at top organizations, Rimer and Hughes created a peer survey for CX professionals to learn more about the evolving role of CX. The 20-question survey examines what CX teams look like from company to company (including roles, reporting structure, and responsibilities), the maturity of CX programs, and the biggest challenges facing CX initiatives today.  

In discussion with other CX professionals, we hear two things come up again and again: what does it take to build a culture of customer centricity, and how can CX leaders overcome the barriers they encounter when it comes to driving action from insights? So the survey aims to tease out not just how CX teams are organized, but “how do they define success and prioritize their time?” 

“Really,” Rimer said, the survey is “in service of CX leaders,” so they have the benchmark data they need to lead their organizations.

We’ll share the results of the CX peer survey on the April 28th episode of CX Confessions if you’re interested in signing up.    

Emotional impact

Of course, the importance of measurable goals and programs came up in the discussion too. But, Rimer pointed out, while measurements help leaders benchmark their programs, it’s the emotions and storytelling that help motivate people to take action.

“Very few people are motivated by moving from an NPS of +37 to a +45,” she said. “What does that mean? But, they are motivated when they know that they're having an impact on people's lives and improving that experience. The numbers come to life with the stories.”

“Customer experience programs include identifying the right places to ask customers, measuring customer feedback data, and integrating that feedback into systems—but that’s not enough,” Rimer said. “To effectively mobilize people in multiple functions to take action, you need to be thoughtful about your storytelling.”

That’s what CX Confessions is ultimately all about. CX leaders sharing their stories. It’s going to give you the inside scoop on what keeps CX leaders up at night, what they see as big opportunities for 2020, and more. Sounds great, right? Check out the upcoming episodes we have planned, and make sure to follow us on LinkedIn so you don’t miss out!

Next up, we’re thrilled to host Brandon McGovern, Sr. Director of Customer Experience at HP on March 22nd. View the rest of the our upcoming livestreams here!
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