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The Data that Drives Change

Release Date: February 27, 2024 • Episode #305

If you’re a CX professional then you’ve read your fair share of customer feedback comments. While most CX leaders love to read great comments from customers, there’s always feedback that isn’t so flattering, and your instinct may be to spring into action to fix whatever it was that caused the less than stellar review. Customer insights can be a powerful change agent, so leveraging feedback can be a great way to influence change within your company. What if we had some advice from someone on the operations side of the business; people who are responsible for implementing the changes that CX leaders suggest? Host Pat Gibbons welcomes Darin Byrne, vice president of global professional services at Wolters Kluwer, a global software solutions company, for a discussion on how CX feedback can be a driver of change within an organization.

Darin Byrne

Darin Byrne
Wolters Kluwer
Connect with Darin


Customer experience is more than just data

“…it’s more than just delivering the data. It’s really seeing [the CX team] as a partner. Understanding what we were doing in our business, where we’re understanding that we’re doing an operations and being able to weed out all of the noise and focus on the things that were truly actionable, on the things that were truly bothering customers, that we could improve, and as well as helping us prioritize those things.”

Know how operations work

“If you know how the business works, then you’re much more tuned in. I, again, my CX partner was able to, you know, in some cases she would bring individual customer feedback to me and says, hey, Darin, this is funny you should read this or this is really profound from a customer. You should read this one because it encompasses a problem or it encompasses something that really is a common theme. Because she, you know, again, she understood how we were operating and she understood that was a gem. That was a golden nugget that we could use to motivate people.”


Change is hard, and trying to convince others in your organization that it’s needed can be difficult. But as CX leaders, you’ve got a lot of influence, right?
It’s more than just delivering the data. It’s really seeing themselves as a partner, understanding what we were doing in our business, what we’re understanding that we’re doing in operations, and being able to weed out all of the noise and focus on the things that were truly actionable, the things that were truly bothering customers that we could improve.
Let’s look at how CX leaders can influence change within an organization on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.
The CX Leader Podcast is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at walkerinfo.com.
Hello everyone! I’m Pat Gibbons, this week’s host for The CX Leader Podcast, and hey, thanks for listening. Cause now is a great time to be a CX leader and we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you develop great programs and develop amazing experiences for your customers. So I lead the CX program here at Walker, and I’ve read my fair share of customer feedback comments, and if you’re like me, you love to read great comments from customers, but when you read comments that aren’t so flattering, your instinct may be to spring into action to fix whatever it was that caused the less than stellar review. Well, customer insights can be a powerful change agent, so leveraging feedback can be a great way to influence change within your company. So what if we had some advice from someone on the operations side of the business? You know, those people responsible for actually implementing the changes that we see CX leaders suggest? I bet they would have great advice. Well, enter Darin Byrne, vice president of global professional services at Wolters Kluwer, a global software solutions company. Darin, welcome to The CX Leader Podcast.
Pat, Thank you very much for having me. Really happy to be here.
Well, I’m looking forward to this discussion because I think you have an interesting perspective on how customer insights can really prompt action that drive, change and deliver results for your company, but I guess I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s hear about you first.
Sure, sure.
And, uh, tell us about your experience both in operations and CX and, uh, how you’ve been in the shoes of the CX leader. You know, tell us a little of your background.
Thanks, Pat. Yeah. For for most of my career, I’ve been in, uh, an operations will actually in a customer facing service role, uh, being a consultant from my very first job in the professional world, um, all the way up to, you know, leading our professional services now, um, and so in, in a services role, of course, you have to be very closely tuned in to the customer. Um, and it was several years back where, um, as I was wanting to really make a fundamental change in the way that our company interacted with our customers, uh, that I, you know, decided to research and learn and, uh, try to drive customer experience within the business unit that I was in, within Wolters Kluwer. Uh, and so I got really vested in that, um, and, uh, you know, took it upon myself to, uh, try to change, um, change the culture of our organization, get people motivated, get people on board, um, sort of build this, uh, I guess I call it, like an army of volunteers who were willing to come along for the journey from all the departments in the organization. Um, and so that’s really got me involved in customer experience. I’d never left the operations world. I just had the customer experience responsibilities for our business unit, in addition to the leadership that I had of our services organizations.
Yeah. Yeah. And I know you’ve interacted with, you know, some other CX leaders you’ve been involved in, you know, some of the work in the CXPA, correct?
Yeah. Um, I joined the CXPA around 2014 when I really started to research and investigate, understand the I mean, I studied the Forrester models, um, you know, got involved in the CXPA, started going to local networking, um, information exchange events that they you saw really got myself plugged in, joined the CXPA, and after a little while, I also decided to go ahead and get my certification. So, um, just getting involved in that community gave me so much more, uh, ideas, so many more tools in the tool belt, so to speak, that I can use to drive change in the organization. Um, it’s it’s been a fantastic experience, and I continue to carry that with me. I think it really is fundamental. Uh, I think we need a lot more people in businesses who have an appreciation of both the operations practices as well as the customer experience practices.
Yeah. So, yeah, let’s talk a little bit about the relationship between CX and some of the various operational departments, because in so many businesses we have kind of silos. And CX may be in one part of the organization. But how do you see that working effectively? How should CX be interacting with various operations?
Well, I think, um, you know, my really number one expectation is I want to partner from, uh, whether it’s a market research department or a customer experience or customer insights, whatever it’s called. I want a strong partnership. And I was able to to get that at Wolters Kluwer as as we continue to evolve and, and sort of reorganize our business. Uh, I had some fantastic people working with me on that were able to, uh, drive the programs that we needed to gather customer feedback, whether those were, you know, serving programs or other ways of gathering that intelligence and then be able to pull it together and deliver it. But as you said at the outset, it’s more than just delivering the data. It’s really seeing themselves as a partner. Um, understanding what we were doing in our business, where we’re understanding that we’re doing an operations and being able to weed out all of the noise and focus on the things that were truly actionable, on the things that were truly bothering customers, that we could improve, and as well as helping us prioritize those things. So I had a very, very good partner that, uh, that worked with me in terms of not just a survey program set up that journey mapping activities as well, involving all almost all departments of our organization that did not. So again, it’s not just delivering the insights, but it’s tuning everybody in to what that customer experience looks like. Um, from from cradle to grave from, from across the customer lifecycle. And then that helps them get engaged in taking the insights that come out of the program, the insights program, and turning those into action. And then the role that I took on was really working with the senior leadership team of our business to to prioritize those initiatives and those actions across our business so that we can make incremental change over time to improve the customer experience.
Yeah. So, um, you know, I have a feeling in, uh, this discussion, I may start many of the questions with what advice would you have? And, uh, and I’ll start that now, because, again, I think your perspective is unique. Uh, a lot of times on on our broadcast, we’ll have CX professionals talking about how they do things within their organization, how they run their program. This is on the side of, you know, taking action. And, you know, I think it’s very valuable for your perspective. And, you know, uh, as to how they can be more effective. So, you know, thinking about how CX professionals just think and how they should think operationally. Any advice on how they can kind of think from the perspective of the people that will be implementing programs that would bring about that change or improvement?
Yeah. I it’s I’ll repeat what I said a little bit ago. It’s it’s understanding the business. Um, I think that should really be a high priority for a CX professional. Right, is to understand, you know, maybe the products that are offered, but also how the business does business with customers and, um, in the different touchpoints. So, you know, journey mapping is a very powerful activity. I’m not necessarily, you know, presenting that as, as the silver bullet, but it’s a really critical with what it does is helps take you take take the business through each stage of the customer life cycle and understanding where those pain points are, where the moments of truth are. Um, and so, you know, as, as a CX professional, um, in fact, that was a precursor to the way that we designed our, our customer survey mechanism is really understanding what that life cycle look like. Um, so getting engaged in the business, however you do it, journey mapping or other process, it’s really up to you. But it’s about understanding what are those touchpoints that the business has with the customer unique to the way that you do business? Where are the areas in that where there’s there’s friction? Where are those? Where do we do? Well, um, because that will help the CX professional understand the priority of the insights that they want to deliver to an operations team. That’s what I always valued with, with my partner in customer insights is her ability to know how we did business, know what was the noise and what was the true golden nugget, and give me that insight. You know, give us, I shouldn’t say me, but us on the leadership team, that insight so that we could then, um, prioritize what things we wanted to work on.
Yeah. And I think so. In addition, I think you’re right. Obviously journey mapping I think is is a great example. There’s probably other ways, but they, uh, not only does the CX team learn about your priorities and processes and everything, but I imagine just the collaborative nature of that…
So true…
…is one that it forms kind of a teamwork atmosphere.
Yeah. Absolutely. It was, um, I tell you what it was, it was a lot of fun, actually. Um, you know, we were able to pull a lot of people together. We we did it as a large workshop. We pulled a lot of people together. Just had an enjoyable time being in the same room, going through the customer journey. You know, there was there was good, solid discussion. But of course, there’s just, you know, camaraderie in being there together as well as, you know, a little bit of fun and getting to know people across the business. Uh, at the end of it, really, everybody having such alignment with what we as a business that we were putting our customers through and, and being very motivated to try to make that even better.
Yeah. Well, in working with your CX team was, uh, were you also requesting, like, certain data that you found would be really important for your area? And, uh, kind of agreeing on. Hey, if I can get this on a regular basis, I can monitor. So. And that sort.
Of thing, as, you know, as any professional knows, you’re going to do a variety of different mechanisms of getting data. You’re going to do things that are more relational. You’re going to do things that are transactional. So yes, you know, we had, you know, an annual process of doing, getting some relational insight or even competitive insight. But then we had a day to day process of gathering, you know, real time transactional feedback from all the interactions, primarily from within our our customer support department. Um, but that’s frankly, you know, that’s the primary. After you give the customer your product, that’s the primary interaction that they have with us as a company. So getting that feedback on a daily basis, continuously monitoring and then building in that feedback loop into our process improvement. So into our agent coaching on the front line it was really vital. And so instrumentation of that process with the collection of the data, the delivery of the data, the dashboards, so that we could, you know, see in real time. Uh, that enabled us to deliver it to our frontline managers in, in a prioritized way.
And then, as I said, they could go to the different frontline individuals, agents and coach them, um, give them the feedback, change some of the processes. Uh, and we actually even better, we involved the agents in that process. They looked at the data, they worked with the managers to say, well, what if we did this? What if we did that? We should change this around, you know, that’s how we can better help the customer with this problem or that problem. So again, it’s this army of volunteers. People engage and they want the information to do so. Um, back to your point. Yes. You want to build a number of channels of that insight into your organization for whatever it is, whether you know, it’s a call center or fulfillment operations or anything like that. Uh, the more data that you can get, I shouldn’t say that. I don’t want to say the more data you can get. You have to have good quality data, but you do need data collection and delivery and insights at each one of those critical points.
Yeah. And it sounds like, um, you had a pretty good flow of data. You kind of were able to work with the team to make sure that you got the data you needed so that you could kind of pivot and make the right decisions on a regular basis. I think, um, you know, sometimes and this is another one where I might ask advice that you would share for CX leaders. I think, I think it’s common that, um, a CX leader can fall into, you know, what’s commonly called the curse of knowledge, that you, you get to know something so well that it’s hard to communicate it with someone else. And I think with with we as professionals, all data is so darn interesting. We want to share it all. And to to your point, it’s not the amount of data, it’s the right data. Um, any advice for CX leaders out there that are collecting data? But the advice on, you know, how do you work with your operations team to make sure they get the right data to make, you know, the decisions they need?
Probably sound like a broken record on this top, but again, it comes back to, you know, how our operations work. If you know how the business works, then you’re much more tuned in. Um, you know, I again, my my CX partner was able to, you know, in some cases she would bring individual customer feedback to me and says, hey, Darin, uh, this is funny you should read this or this is really profound from a customer. You should read this one because it encompasses a problem or it encompasses something that really is a common theme. Um, because she, you know, again, she understood how we were operating and she understood that was a gem. That was a golden nugget that we could use to motivate people. Now, I was going to say, I can quote for you one of the terms that a customer used about us, but I won’t here just for the sake of my own, for the sake of my own…
I’m curious.
…reputation. It was a very, very unflattering, extremely unflattering for, you know, a summary of what the customer thought of who we were, um, because of their frustration. But it was a motivating factor as I could deliver that to our product teams in some cases. Of course, they took it personally and we laughed at it. Right. Because it was it was also written very funny, but it was pretty direct. Uh, but it’s very motivating. It’s like, wow, we don’t want to be that. We absolutely don’t want our customers to think of us in those very unflattering terms. Uh, and so as a result, you know, just a little nugget like that became powerful again because the customer insights team understood our business. What was important to us was was able to pick out something that would be very useful to us, also very motivational to us to drive the change.
So, you know, I know in today’s organizations there’s so many, um, people working remote and so many organizations that are spread out. Sounds like you’ve got a pretty close relationship with your CX professional. I don’t know that for sure, but, uh.
Well, it, um, so this was, uh, this was in my last role. Um, so not the same person today. Uh, but actually, no, uh, she was in New York and I was in Minneapolis, so. Yeah. Uh, but but, you know, we we talked very, very frequently. We had a very good relationship, so. Yeah. And had a chance to meet and get together. Of course. Uh, at times.
Yeah, yeah. I’m just kind of thinking about the challenges of trying to coordinate that, particularly when you have various people in different divisions and different locations and, and everything.
How to kind of, as you say, really try to understand their business and understand in each case what you need, what you need, what you need. Uh, because I agree with what you’re saying. That’s kind of where it starts, is how do you work with each of those organizations as a team to be able to say, I understand your needs, I’ll try to provide the data you need and the most relevant data.
Right. Um, it comes down to a process, Pat, and it was the process in which we interacted with that team and the way that that they interacted with us. Right. Each each sort of cycle of I spoke about that annual relationship, competitive cycle, uh, every cycle we would start planning that, you know, six months in advance of us running that. Right. Let’s, let’s let’s understand the questions we want to ask. Let’s understand, you know, which competitors we want to compare ourselves to. What are their products? Make sure we were all on the same page. That required a lot of interaction across our business, with all of our different product managers, with all of our operations managers. So just that collaboration in the in the creation of the process. And then of course, the delivery of the insights at the end of it was again done with everyone who was a stakeholder in the process. So I guess it may be just to summarize it, it’s just very good stakeholder management and including stakeholders in the process. Uh, if you operate in a silo, if you operate in isolation, uh, I don’t think you’re going to be able to deliver. You’re not going to understand the business and you’re not going to deliver probably relevant insights. But if you work very collaboratively with all the stakeholders, then you’re going to understand what their needs are, how they operate, and understand what’s relevant when it comes time to deliver the insights.
Yeah, yeah. So put another way, if, uh, if a CX professional views their job, as you know, I issue the surveys, I collect the data, I send a report to you, and then I move on to the next one. They’re not going to be terribly successful at getting you, you and your organization to change.
Yeah. It has got to be a business partnership. It is, you know, um, and that’s what I loved about the team that I worked with. You know, they were definitely a good business partner, uh, every step of the way.
Yeah. So, you know, a lot of times people don’t like change. Uh, do you ever get feedback from, uh, clients, and then you work with your internal teams, and it’s suggesting that you make a process change, or you make a product change or whatever. You ever have your team say, uh, no. What? What do they know? They’re just the customer. Yeah.
Um, I honestly, I don’t know that I can say that I ever had someone like go, you know, they’re just a customer. Don’t worry about it. Um…
That’s good to hear.
Here’s my here’s my favorite, my absolute favorite story. And it may not seem like consequential, but it’s a really good story. You know, we we were looking at our invoicing process. And surprisingly, you may know this and maybe many people in the CX, but invoicing actually is a is a is not a good, uh, point of interaction for a lot of companies or their customers.
That’s right.
And, uh, we were just delivering confusing invoices and unclear invoices. Not necessarily wrong invoices, but just unclear. So of course, our our support center was getting a lot of calls about them. Uh, and we decided we were going to, you know, try to take this on because it was a little bit of a point of contention. And so over a series of, of meetings and over time we started digging into, you know, what are the main things we want to fix and change about it. Um, and again, the greatest story was, uh, one of my, my teams was in a meeting with a group of people that put in the description of. Of our products into our ERP system. Um, and it was like a series of codes. It was, as we like to joke, it was not human readable. It was just a series of codes. Um, and the remarkable thing was that the person who was responsible for creating those descriptions said, oh my gosh, I never realized this was showing up to our customers.
Oh, my.
And and, you know, knowing that then, you know, it was like a revelation to her that that was the case. But being empowered with that information, then clearly she was motivated like, oh no, now I know. Now I know what I need to think about when I’m doing my job to do that. Um, and that made a significant impact in, in how our customers were. And it’s it’s a shame, right? It’s a shame that in that situation, you know, you’ve got someone over here in your organization doing a job with great intentions, but not even realizing the impact that that’s going to have on the customer. Um, and that’s such an important facet of customer experience, is making sure that everybody knows when and if they have an impact on on the customer experience.
Yeah. Now, you know, actually, I think invoicing is a really good example. And, uh, you know, we’ve we run across it as a consultant and working with a lot of companies that we do have times where we have feedback, you know, that we’ve collected and we’re recommending to the organization that you could improve your invoicing process. And sometimes and, you know, you think about it from a very high level. It’s like, well, everybody gets a bill, you know? So everybody’s going to have that experience. But we tend to think, well, of course they don’t like it. They don’t, you know, they don’t like getting bills.
But um, yeah, my one of my favorite stories that I’ll chime in with is, uh, we had a client that consistently we would see feedback about invoicing, and there was even some statistical validation that this was, you know, potentially a driver of customer loyalty and, uh, you know, but they just kind of passed passed it off as not being that important or just being one of those fundamentals of business that they they didn’t feel like they should focus on. That is, until they had a journey mapping session, uh, you know, back to journey mapping. And they invited some customers to participate in them. And one of them brought a box with them and they arrived. They thanked her for coming. They said, uh, you know, I’m curious what’s in the box? And she said, well, I knew that we’d talk about different points in the journey and invoicing would be one of them. And they said, well, you didn’t have to bring all your invoices. And she said, I didn’t. This is one invoice, this is one. And it took that for them to realize, you know, what was going on. So again, it is one of those points of, you know, I think amongst the skills of CX professionals, they they have to be able to communicate effectively. They’ve got to understand the business as you indicated. They’ve got to know how to work with you, provide the right data and suggest the changes that are going to be relevant.
So those cases like that part are sometimes the keys for people recognizing that there is a need to do something, because what you just described is exactly what I did when I walked into the boardroom with to my senior leadership team just to talk about the invoicing thing, and I passed around copies of our invoices and I said, tell me, can you tell what this is for? And it’s a great illustration. People see something physically that they can realize what the experience is. I’ve heard other people, especially recording of customer calls. You can hear the frustration or the joy, right? And so those things are are many times far more tangible than a score or, you know, a quantitative summary. So I think as a CX professional, that’s another piece of advice I would give you is make it as real as possible and bring the human factor into it. If all you’re going to do is show people a lot of data, doesn’t mean anything. You can show people a customer quote with an unflattering statement about your company, or you can show them what the invoice looks like. Or you can play a recording of a customer with the frustration that they’re having with the situation. It is realistically, it’s more impactful. It’s more impactful. You will get people to recognize that there’s an urgency that needs to be taken care of.
So yeah, I’m glad we went down this path because that’s one of those really key, you know, pieces of advice that I would give to CX professionals. You know, sometimes the story needs the real human element, not just, you know, a bunch of numbers on a on a PowerPoint slide.
Yeah. Good point, good point. Well, we’ve come to that point in our broadcast where we always ask our guests for take home value. So one tip, ideally something that they can kind of put to to use in short order. So Darin what’s your take home value for today?
So so my tip for a CX professional is if you have the opportunity, ask as many people as you can and all parts of the organization, um, how their role has an impact on the customer. It will stimulate some thinking and in many cases you know, it may they may come to a realization or a revelation of of, you know, something that they, you know, didn’t know before about how they had an impact on the customer. Um, I think it’s one of the most powerful things that you can do, because what we really have to understand is every single person within a company, in one way or another, has an impact on the customer experience. And if you think about it long enough, you can trace how your how that person’s actions has an impact on maybe another person’s another until it eventually ends up in the hands of a customer, in your product, in your services, in your invoices, uh, anything like that. All right. Everybody’s doing something that eventually is going to have an impact on the customer. And so it was, uh, one of the things that, um, we really enjoyed doing as an organization. Uh, and it was great. I, you know, I did a, I did CX, we did CX training for our finance accounting organization, and they really wanted to get it, um, because they really wanted to understand if there was anything they could do. So again, when you ask that question, you get a lot of people to turn, you know, as I’ve heard it said, you know, you’re not just looking around inside, you’re looking out the windows of your of your company to the customer.
No, I think it’s excellent advice and true to form. That is something that people can start on tomorrow or even today. Um…
Go out and just start asking people in their organization. So Darin Byrne is vice president of global professional services at Wolters Kluwer. Darin, thanks for being a guest on The CX Leader Podcast.
Pat, thank you. And thanks to Walker for inviting me. And, and, uh, having me on here and for doing these, uh, it I’m sure it provides a huge amount of value to all of the CX professionals that tune in.
And, uh, if anybody would like to continue the conversation, okay if they reach out to you, um, probably LinkedIn? Is that…
Absolutely correct? Yeah. Just, uh, connect with me on LinkedIn. Um, and then I’m happy to interact with you there.
All right. So you can find Darin Byrne on LinkedIn. And that is, uh, Byrne, B. Y. R. N. E. And I’m sure if you do a search, you’ll find it. And if you want to talk about anything you heard on this podcast or how Walker can help your business’ customer experience, feel free to reach out, email us at podcast@walkerinfo.com and remember to give The CX Leader Podcast rating through your podcast service and give us a review, because your feedback will help us improve the show and deliver the best possible value to you, our listeners. Check out our website cxleaderpodcast.com and you can follow the show and all our previous 300 plus episodes, our podcast series, and a link to our blog which we update regularly. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker. We’re an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thank you for listening and remember it is a great time to be a CX leader. We’ll see you next time.
* This transcript was created using an A.I. tool and may contain some mistakes. Email podcast@walkerinfo.com with any questions or corrections.