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The Survey People

Release Date: December 8, 2020 • Episode #145

The practice of customer experience must permeate the entire company. But that can be difficult, and CX pros are sometimes not take as seriously as they should. So how do you, as a CX pro, change that mindset – how do they move beyond the label of “the survey people?” Host Steve Walker welcomes guest Roxie Strohmenger, vice president of customer experience strategy at UKG, for a discussion on how customer experience professional should market themselves within their organization.

Roxie Strohmenger

Roxie Strohmenger
UKG
Connect with Roxie

Highlights

You have to market yourself

“I never thought, to be honest when I started this, how critical the role of marketing oneself really plays into this. And this is really about sort of that internal campaign. How do you build a groundswell of just people being bought into the vision. And this is yes, of course, executives, CEOs, we need to be bought in, but it’s all the way down to the front line. It’s all the way to the back stage and talking with them, having them to get to know who you are, having them to hear the perspective that one may have a CX professional has a what does CX mean?”

Make CX “Sticky”

“So, again, it becomes this to be sticky, you have to think and talk in the way they the individual you’re working with thinks and talks. What are they incentivized by? That’s partly why those chats that you’re talking about, what drives you, what keeps you up at night and so forth, that’s how you start to learn what matters to them so that when we position what we found, what we’re learning, what we’re recommending to do, it is in the context with those metrics that matter most.”

Talk Their Way

“…we can’t expect that others are equally as passionate about those awesome nerdy stuff like we are. And so instead, we need to go to them and think in their way and talk in their way. Now, over time, they might start to talk like we do, and then we start to get really savvy on how we think about things. And that’s like the Holy Grail when they start talking to you and your your speak, which is awesome. But that’s how that’s how you get sticky. You have to you have to talk in the way that they talk.”

Transcript

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Steve:
Let's be honest, we're all human and we have a tendency to create perceptions about the people within our companies: marketers are the creatives, I.T. folks are technical, sales are extroverts. So what are the CX people?

Roxie:
We do get technically relegated to that thought of the survey people, because we predominately use surveys still as our mechanism for capturing insights and feedback versus let's take it to the next piece. How do I make you smarter, better? And that, I think, is the value that we can provide.

Steve:
Moving CX pros beyond the label of "the survey people" on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at Walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host The CX Leader Podcast. And thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. We've had numerous conversations on this podcast about the importance of culture and buy in from your organization. The practice of customer experience must permeate the entire company. But that can be difficult and CX pros are sometimes not taken as seriously as they should be. So how do you as a CX pro change that mindset? Well, our guest on this episode has some great thoughts on that subject. And I'm delighted to have Roxie Strohmenger, she's the vice president of Customer Experience Strategy at UKG, a company that provides workforce management and human capital management solutions. Roxie, thanks for being a guest on The CX Leader Podcast.

Roxie:
Thanks for having me, Steve. How are you doing?

Steve:
I'm doing good. And, you know, I'm really looking forward to this episode because I think this is just such a great topic here as we get towards the end of the year. And people are kind of like assessing kind of what they accomplished this year in this very challenging year. But we also get grateful for what we got and we get hopeful about what the future will bring. So thanks again for being on the show. Glad you could do it. Why don't you just you know, you should be famous by now, but maybe not all of our listeners are familiar with you. But why don't you just give them a little bit of background on you and your company and sort of how you got to this profession? Because it's always interesting to hear how our folks find their way into the customer experience world.

Roxie:
Yeah. So I've sort of my history sort of started… Have always been passionate about understanding how people tick and think and process things. So started with the psychology background in undergrad and then had a really great opportunity in grad school to dive into judgment and decision making and really understanding the role of emotion and just what influences how we behave. And then sort of wanted to sort of shift into, well, how do I take all of this information and help companies be successful, help individuals make decisions that have that foresight into it. And so I had a really great opportunity to work at Forrester Research, had a real long stint there, a variety of different roles, but all center around how do we make customer experience really resonate and help leaders make the right decisions? The right calls? Had a wonderful opportunity to create the CX index that Forrester had with with Megan Burns and then had this fabulous opportunity two and a half years ago with UKG formerly at the time, it was Ultimate Software. We've just merged with Kronos this year into this great company that is constantly thinking about the individual putting the customer first. Our tagline is "Our purpose is people." And so this became a really great opportunity to to be aligned with a company that has that philosophical bent that really values the culture. So it is all about we have to treat ourselves and the company, the people that are in the company well, and then in turn, we will then work with our customers in their best interests at heart and have the opportunity to continue to evolve the CX strategy and how we approach this. So it's this great way to continue a journey that started in undergrad. I'm just saying, why do people think the way that they think and do what they do, which is awesome.

Steve:
Yeah. So you came up through kind of a common pedigree, I think, of some of the CX pros that have been out there. But you packed a lot into it. But obviously, you know, the background with Forester. Megan Burns has been on our show, also spoke at one of our client conferences. Great background. And let's get into it a little bit. One of the things I like to say on the show is it's a great time to be a CX pro. We got so much more mindset than we had, say, 5 or 10 years ago. But what's your take on the impression of the CX person in in most organizations that I'm sure there's a range there. But just what's your perspective on where we're at today?

Roxie:
Well, we're definitely seeing nuances, right? So in the B2C side of the house, it has a longer pedigree of evolution and adoption within the organization. So typically, financial services sort of started that path. And really you started to see it evolve into the retail sector and the travel and hospitality sector and so forth. And where you saw that evolution was first of getting a wealth, of understanding of who our customer is, what their unmet needs are, and then starting to sort of figure out, well, how do you take advantage of that? How do you leverage that information to be smarter, maybe potentially predict customer behavior and so forth? So what I've seen over the years is there's a really healthy adoption of just the focus on CX. And obviously the age of the customer has has accelerated that where consumers have the power now because we have all the information at our fingertips and then you're starting to see things such as the convenience, revolution and other elements, sort of. Take a hold into that. And that's the B2C side and it's great. What I'm more excited about is that CX is now having its day in B2B because historically it was it's all about price or it's all about future functionality, and especially in a SAS world into that. And now and obviously Walker loyalty was one of the ones that made that call, that by 2020 you would see that emotion would play a much stronger experience and so forth, plays a much stronger role than price for feature functionality. And you're starting to see that. And so now CX really matters. And now the CX professional in a B2B side of the house now has a voice where leaders are saying, OK, price, and feature, functionality, we can't… We can compete but that's just sort of like, sort of a wheel just going over and over and over again, because once you get a new price and get to a certain point, your competitors will compete against it. But where the power is, is how do you differentiate in the experience, because people are willing to pay more for a higher quality experience, and that's in B2C and B2B. So that's where I think it's we're starting to have a strong enough voice that executives and leadership are paying attention, which is a huge opportunity. Now, the question is, how do we take advantage of that where we look strategic, partnering, consultative than just purely informative. That's where we really need to hone in on is that conversion into being a strategic partner and like a consultant, in essence.

Steve:
What are some of the tricks or advice you would have for a CX pro to just enhance their reputation internally within their organization? Maybe they're already respected or maybe they're maybe they're not. And they're a little frustrated with that. What are some of the things you've seen?

Roxie:
So it's… I never thought, to be honest when I started this, how critical the role of marketing oneself really plays into this. And this is really about sort of that internal campaign. How do you build a groundswell of just people being bought into the vision. And this is yes, of course, executives, CEOs, we need to be bought in, but it's all the way down to the front line. It's all the way to the back stage and talking with them, having them to get to know who you are, having them to hear the perspective that one may have a CX professional has a what does CX mean? Because there's a lot of definitions that people have to sort of align it into, say, as a whole, we're going to define CX is this and this is how we're going to think about it and focus on it. And it's just really sort of that in turn, all of this is what we're going to do. We're going to try this circle back, get their feedback. Then once the next piece happens, circle back, inform them. And it's this it's a lot of effort. And it's a it's a campaign of sorts internally. And that's where I found between that and then just moving beyond telling them what we found and instead constantly converting it into: and the implication for you is X or Y. That packaging that story is I think is critical because otherwise we do get technically relegated to that thought of the survey people, because we predominantly use surveys still as our mechanism for capturing insights and feedback, and then we just package it up into dashboards or presentations. But still, it's just that reporting of info versus let's take it to the next piece. How do I make you smarter, better? And that, I think, is the value that we can provide.

Steve:
Yeah, I was going to go there with the teaser because I love that. One of the things I think we've seen over the time is you've got to meet people where they're at and you know, as opposed to cram in the dashboard down the operating manager's throat, you know, maybe you build a relationship. There you go, have lunch with them. You you try to find out what's on their minds from the business and then start to offer some insights that maybe he or she is not even aware the organization already has.

Roxie:
And another thing I think it's very much you know, it is a brokering of a relationship between oneself and whomever you're engaging with within the organization. It's understanding what their fight is, what their fear, uncertainty and doubt is. What are they goaled with? What are they… what are they tasked with? Like what's their vision? Like that is… and maybe this is my bias when I from my psychology background of like it's sort of like we're like therapists in a weird way to sort of sit there and say, talk to me, tell me what keeps you up at night, what are you trying to drive towards? And then let me figure out how I can help you. Let me figure out what information do you need? What recommendations? What best practices have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? Oh, you want to see if this works? Let's do an experiment. Like that's where I think where it becomes collaborative rather than I need a data point. I need this. I need that. OK, here, let me pull up from the survey instrument or this IDI or focus, whatever it is that we're capturing the feedback, it's to sit there and say, I'm going to help work with you on figuring out the solution. And I think that's when we become sticky. And then we're not the nice to have we're not the cost center. We become the strategic consultative partner.

Steve:
Have you ever seen a case where the survey people complained that nobody ever used the data, nobody ever used the data, nobody ever used the data, and then it suddenly somebody gets it. Somebody influential in the organization starts to get it. And then all of a sudden they've got the opposite problem.

Roxie:
Yes. And then all of a sudden they're like asking for more and then coming. And then they're like and I well, that is it's a lot right time and all that. It is so much better the problem to have…

Steve:
It is.

Roxie:
…constant. So like, I'd rather be a ton of requests and go, right, how am I going to make this work? How is my team going to be able to run with all of this? I rather have that problem then the like. Pay attention. Did you see this inside? You want to you know, let's try this. Let's try that.

Steve:
How do you then leverage that up to the senior level in senior management? I've always joked around like, you know, it's possible to do this kind of culture shift without C-level support, but it's a lot faster.

Roxie:
Definitely a lot faster. I mean, there's a reason why it's always stated of, yes, you can stand up a VOC program, yes, you could journey map and all that type of stuff. But in reality, the first focus is get the culture and make sure that that has to be fully to what you envision. But just get the culture where they're bought into the concept that CX matters. And just saying CX matters is sufficient to then start the conversations and then dependent upon the individual. You get different varying degrees of being brought in and like, what could you do and stuff like that. When it goes into higher up in the organization? I mean, this starts getting into setting up like I have reoccurring, whether it's bi weekly or monthly with all of each leader. And it's sort of like, you know, chat time. Tell me what's going on. This is let me tell you and give you an update of what we've been seeing that impacts you. Let's think through. Does it make sense to stay the course as it makes sense to to tweak, to adjust? So it's, again, the internal marketing campaign where you just have to always be like, hey, I'm here. And over time it sticks, right? It becomes sticky. Then they start coming to you. Then they start saying, hey, we were talking about this in a leadership meeting. We immediately thought of what your team could do to help. And so then this synergy starts playing into it. It's also what helps is for UKG, we stood up a steering committee that consist of the leaders in the C suite and to sort of talk through the biggie stuff, things that, OK, we're running into potentially this challenge or hurdle. How do we take that out? It's immensely partnership forming and constantly talking in a manner of either it's this is going to be a way to protect revenue. This is going to be a way to expand revenue. This is going to be a cost to serve play. This is a process efficiency angle. Like it's it's constantly in those metrics to say if we do this, this is what we hypothesize will happen. And this is the impact always having that top of mind. That's where we stay in that level of a conversation.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week is Roxie Strohmenger. She's the vice president of Customer Experience Strategy at UKG, a company that provides workforce management and human capital management solutions. And we are getting a quite a primer on how CX pros can enhance their reputation within their organization. And Roxie's bringing a lot of her social science background and years of study and research to this project. Now, one of the things I have in my notes is something about a three part story.

Roxie:
Yeah. So, you know, we seem different. So we're not… We don't want to be the survey people but I'm a very firm believer that you've got to do triangulation, really try to understand who the individual is, how they perceive the experience at a variety of different levels. And historically, we had sort of focus at the highest level. So the first part of the story. Right? Overall satisfaction, general customer satisfaction, things along those lines that just gave you that thirty thousand foot view. Not to say that that's not important, but that's like the first it's the entry into the story. Then it starts to go into, OK, so now let's really understand the perspective of the individual in that experience. So this gets into the quality dimensions of the experience. And for me, I am a firm believer of the definition of customer experience, is how an individual perceives that experience, the quality of it, because whatever happened objectively, it doesn't matter. It's the rose colored glass that people have that influences how they make their decisions, how they behave. So then you have to look at the second part of the story. So now we're diving into what about the quality of that experience? The role of emotion beyond just was it did feel good, feel bad. So that Vaillant's concept, it's down to specific emotions. Did you activate? Because we're feeling confident. Customer feeling respected, if that's critical. Did you ensure that you mitigated frustration or disappointment or whatever the critical emotion pieces are for one's industry? This gets into the ease dimension things along those lines. So that's sort of that second part. So it's like we're now down to the fifteen thousand foot view. Then the third part of the story is what are the specific factors, those CX drivers that we know matter most, that we know differentiate ourselves relative to others and to measure, well, how well are we doing on those particular pieces? And so then you're now down to the 500 foot view. So you've got this like story. So then when you position is to leadership and you talk about, well, what are we seeing? It becomes this story since those three types of metrics gives you the story of how you pitch to the executives, OK, this is what's going on. And as a result of all of this, the your recipe for success. So that's like another term that I say is like your recipe for success is this we're recommending that you tweak this. Why don't we try this, let's know and so forth. And that sort of helps sort of package the information, the recommendations, those insights that I think make it sticky that they remember because you told it in that story.

Steve:
That is great. We're going to get get to take home value here in a minute. But if our listeners didn't write their notes there about the three part story, that is exactly how you ought to set up the story that you're telling. It's it was really brilliant. So thank you for sharing that. We've talked about a lot of great tips. And the three part stories is a great tool. You know, if our listeners didn't write it down, they ought to back up their cursor and listen to that part again and take some notes. But, you know, one of the things we've talked about a lot is wanting to make our function in the organization stickier. And you've used that phrase several times. But maybe just for the benefit of our listeners. What is Roxy think make CX sticky or or where are we trying to go with making CX sticky in our organizations?

Roxie:
Yeah. So the CX sticky piece is that, so we predominantly focus on perception metrics. Where we become more sticky is that our perception metrics should always be tethered to descriptive metrics or outcome metrics. So descriptive metrics might be the time it took to resolve an issue, let's say, from the call center or the tenure of said customer, if that's could potentially be a moderating variable in terms of the insights and that outcome metrics would be, say, ARR. So annualized reoccurring revenue or whatever those sort of cost to serve those types of things. Where because more times than not, who we're working with, what they're focused on are the descriptive metrics and the outcome metrics. Now, yes, the perception metrics are interesting and they're sexy and they are we love CX, we love our metrics, but that's what they're focused on. That's what they're goaled on. So, again, it becomes this to be sticky, you have to think and talk in the way they the individual you're working with thinks and talks. What are they incentivized by? That's partly why those chats that you're talking about, what drives you, what keeps you up at night and so forth, that's how you start to learn what matters to them so that when we position what we found, what we're learning, what we're recommending to do, it is in the context with those metrics that matter most. It's always figuring out the language in which the individual you're trying to work with speaks, thinks, lives and breathes and do it and communicate it to that way. Don't have them think the way we think. Given our history as CX professionals, a lot of us are researchers at heart, data wonk's, you know, data nerds, the whole…

Steve:
Survey people.

Roxie:
…survey people and we're all good. And that's and that's fine. But the thing is, is we can't expect that others are equally as passionate about those awesome nerdy stuff like we are. And so instead, we need to go to them and think in their way and talk in their way. Now, over time, they might start to talk like we do, and then we start to get really savvy on how we think about things. And that's like the Holy Grail when they start talking to you and your your speak, which is awesome. But that's how that's how you get sticky. You have to you have to talk in the way that they talk.

Steve:
Roxie, it is that time of the program where I ask each of our guests to give their best tip. We call it take home value. And this is something that our CX pros could take from you and go right into the office or wherever they're working from these days, and they can apply and improve their program right away. So, Roxie, what is your take home value for our listeners?

Roxie:
Oh, wow. So this one is something and I will have to say I we have to give immense credit to to Forrester in my training at Forrester. And those who have worked with Forrester probably have heard analysts and the like say this, but it is a always think the WIM, what it means. One of the tips that I took from there and incorporated it at UKG is whenever we present something, even let's just talk about our PowerPoint decks. The slide always will have above a data point. It will be the WIM, the implication, the strategic implication of that information so that you're not presenting the data finding – what you are presenting is the implication of that finding. And that's what you tell the audience in your presentation. You actually don't talk about the data insight. You talk about the implication it what it means. And if they happen to ask questions, you've got the data to back it up or the data in the appendix. So that's constantly if you look at anything that you have, the first thing out of your mind should be what does it mean for them? And it be a strategic business implication, not a, OK, you just need to hire somebody else or something as simple as that. And so that training was instilled into me and I think it has been immensely successful in my role. My team's role at UKG is sort of always sit there and say, here's the win, and then that's what they take away, not the data insight, because that keeps us as the survey people, the cost center and instead we become the consultant because we're telling them about an implication.

Steve:
That's great take home value. And that reminded me of what I was going to say is that and I think this is sort of been the theme that's been throughout your whole podcast today is, you know, focus on the user, not on yourself. My guest on the podcast this week has been Roxie Strohmenger, and she is the vice president of Customer Experience Strategy at UKG. Roxie, thanks for being a guest on the The CX Leader Podcast. And if anybody wanted to continue the dialog, could you give us a like a website or LinkedIn profile or something that people might be able to reach out?

Roxie:
Yep. So my LinkedIn, the normal handle with "rstrohmenger" on that piece. So "rstrohmenger". Obviously take a look at UKG.com and the great work that we do. Where were our purpose people. Which is, which is great. So we help companies really deliver the best experience for employees and how to support their their needs and their benefits. Feel free to reach out. Always happy to have these types of conversations. And thanks for inviting me. I really do appreciate it.

Steve:
If you want to talk about anything else you heard on the podcast about how Walker can help your business customer experience, feel free to email me at podcast@walkerinfo.com and be sure to check out our website, cxleaderpodcast.com to subscribe to the show and find all the previous episodes, podcast, series and contact information, you can drop me a note right there if you'd like to. 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 we'll see you again next time.

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