Interview With CX Ambassador April Obersteller

Interview with April Obersteller, senior manager of customer experience at YETI, a seller of premier outdoor gear, about her career in the customer experience space.

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Sara Staffaroni

May 4, 2020

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This month's CX Ambassador is April Obersteller, senior manager of global customer experience at YETI, a seller of premier outdoor gear. A former sales manager, April is now leading the growth of YETI’s customer experience program, making YETI stronger across all departments.

Q: How did you find yourself in the CX space? 

I am in the CX industry because of the opportunity to connect directly with our customers. It is an honor and a huge responsibility. Not only do we get to connect with them, but we are then given the task of taking their concerns, feedback and experiences and drive change throughout the organization. We get to be the voice of the customer in the company, which is incredible.

Q: How would you describe your customer experience program? 

I would describe it as a feedback loop that continuously pours into each area. The Voice of the Customer (VoC) steers our training, coaching, recognition and cross departmental projects. We have our surveys set up on a live dashboard which everyone on the team has access to and we communicate customer’s feedback daily to the entire department. This information is at the core of what we do and sets our strategic priorities.

Q: How is your CX team structured? 

We have an incredible team of people who specialize in each channel that our customers communicate with us. This includes phone, email, chat, social, international, marketplace, and our amazing customization team that takes the designs our customers submit and converts them into high-quality artwork. This allows for each employee to really play to their strengths and be fueled by the work. Our support team consists of CX managers for each channel as well as a business system analyst and CX trainer, QA and content specialist.

The biggest challenge we are currently facing is meeting our customers where they are at, which is constantly changing! It requires us to know our customers more than ever so they can have personalized their experience with us.

Q: What is a typical day in the life for your team? 

The team walks into the doors with a clear picture of our vision and mission and carries this out with every interaction. 

Our vision is “to be the global service leader for outdoor consumer products.”

Our mission statement is “Creating lifetime customers through a genuine, unmatched customer experience every time, every way possible.”

Each channel team has a Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Contacts Per Hour (CPH) goal they work towards with continuous improvement and teamwork weaved throughout. They rally when things get crazy and they lift each other up with each suggestion to get better. The goals they have are not easily obtained, which you can see on the team’s faces as they leave the office pretty tired but fulfilled because of their impact.

Q: What are you most proud of in your customer experience career? 

The people. During my leadership tenure on the CX team, I have had the honor of witnessing over 80 people be promoted, many of which to other departments across the company. This has allowed the customer to be carried to each department and have a seat at the table. Those people and everyone currently on the floor refuse to settle for status quo and push the limits on what is possible. Their posture and mindset is the why behind every success we have had as a team and every win we have created for the customer.

Q: What has been your biggest customer experience challenge? 

Challenges are opportunities and as a fast growing and innovative company, we have new ones pop up every day. I think the biggest challenge we are currently facing is meeting our customers where they are at, which is constantly changing! It requires us to know our customers more than ever so they can have personalized their experience with us.

Keep asking for feedback and do something with it. It is one thing to collect information, but it takes strategy and intention to build your goals off of it. 

Q: Is there anything about your work with CX that keeps you up at night? 

We hire amazing people that are driven, service minded, goal oriented and truly know their why. As long as we continue to support them with the tools and time that is needed, they will do the exact same for our customers. As we grow, both in size and location, the complexity of how we take care of our people changes. The thing that keeps me up at night is that simple but heavy question: “Are we doing enough to take care of our people so they can take care of our customers?”

Q: What's missing in your CX program that you'd like to have? 

Speech analytics is something that we don’t have up and running today but are working towards. This will allow us to expand the VoC from a larger pool of information which in return will give us more data to base our goals on. Like our product innovation, we want the customer to be the center of all our CX strategies.

Q: Based on your experience, what are some best practices that you would recommend to other CX professionals? 

Look at technology as a beautiful partner in your mission. It is not only necessary but can give your people so many amazing tools to service the customer and create amazing efficiencies. 

Never under-estimated the power of a handwritten thank you card. Both for your customers and your people. It makes a difference and the impact will be multiplied. 

Keep asking for feedback and do something with it. It is one thing to collect information, but it takes strategy and intention to build your goals off of it. 

Data is not only helpful, it is your best friend when it comes to decision making. Dig deep into what the numbers are telling you and don’t have a siloed view. Look at the holistic picture and bring data into every part.

Q: What's next for you and your CX team? 

We are working more closely than ever with our cross-department partners to ensure a frictionless experience from every single experience gateway. We are also looking to expand the channels and hours in which our customers can visit with us through.

Q: would you define great customer experience? 

I don’t think I can top the words that I heard many years ago from the amazing Horst Schultze. It is as true today as it was when he first said it: 

  1. Defect-free product or service.

  2. Timeliness response.

  3. Kindness.

The key to no.3 is that it can overcome the top 2 but we should never be content with just offering kindness. We have to keep driving towards improving our product/service with cross-department collaboration and timeless response with urgency and focus. 

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