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Who you gonna call? (Your client, of course!)

Release Date: February 4, 2020

Customer experience professionals have an abundance of technological choices when it comes to gathering customer feedback, providing vast amounts of data to use in guiding their CX efforts. But sometimes the “low tech” solution is the best option. Steve welcomes guest Jen Pardi Cusick, senior customer experience strategist at Gogo Business Aviation, to discuss how employees across their company participate in a client callback program to gain better insights into their customers’ needs.

 

Transcript

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Steve:
Technology has provided so many ways for companies to automatically gather customer feedback, but sometimes your customers need something a bit more personal.

Jen:
Every single manager and above is assigned at least one call and they do those calls one to one basis and we place the managers based on what category the comments were. So if there is an issue with hardware, then maybe that customer will get called by the head of engineering.

Steve:
Building relationships the old school way: calling your customers directly on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is a production of Walker, an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. Find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host of The CX Leader Podcast, and thanks 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. I'm just gonna say it: CX pros nowadays are a bit spoiled. Technology has given us ways to gather a ton of customer data in a relatively short time and for many programs that's exactly what you need. But not all companies are the same, right? Some companies need to focus on building relationships, and few things are better than a simple phone call to check in and listen to what's going on in your customers mind. I'm joined today by Jen Pardi Cusick, the senior customer experience strategist at Gogo Business Aviation, a provider of in-flight broadband, Internet service and other connectivity services for business aircraft. Jen, thanks for being on The CX Leader Podcast.

Jen:
Thanks for having me, Steve.

Steve:
Well, I'm delighted that I was talking to you off air here, that I'm a big, heavy user of Gogo business in-flight. And for those of us who do travel a lot, I'm sure many people will recognize that as they've fired up their device on an airline. Give us just a little bit more insight into Gogo Business Aviation.

Jen:
Sure. So like you said, a lot of people are familiar with us from commercial flight Wi-Fi. My division is the business aviation division in which we provide Wi-Fi hardware and service to private aircraft.

Steve:
Oh, cool. I'd love private aircraft.

Jen:
Yes, I wish I had one. [laughing] Does not come with the job.

Steve:
You know, Jimmy Buffett says that's the only thing he's addicted to still today.

Jen:
Yeah.

Steve:
Is travel… is flying private so I could get addicted to that, too.

Jen:
I think once you go private, it's probably pretty hard to go back.

Steve:
Well, this is a cool business. So you guys provide it to private aircraft. So the fractional airline ownership companies?

Jen:
Yes. So we have a few main markets. Ones are corporate flight departments. So those are organizations that own and operate one or more private aircraft. And then we've got the fractionals charter companies, management companies. And then on the other end, we've got our owner operators who are just like Jimmy Buffett, enthusiasts who own and fly their own planes.

Steve:
Now, can a guy flying a plane also be surfing the Internet?

Jen:
Typically not, but they do use the Internet for a lot of their flight planning, weather management, all sorts of things that help them enabled to fly the aircraft.

Steve:
Oh, okay. Of course they would. So actually, that's where they're getting some of their information today is on the Internet.

Jen:
Yes, exactly.

Steve:
So it's the it's the connected airplane.

Jen:
Yes.

Steve:
See? I learn stuff every time I do this show. We'll come back to your company and your program a little bit. Tell us a little bit about how you got into CX. What was your career journey and how you found yourself in this position at Gogo Business Aviation?

Jen:
Well, like many practitioners, it was not a linear path.

Steve:
Yeah, most of us not!

Jen:
I actually started… right? I started in project management and got tapped by a fellow who would later become my mentor to transition into market research. And when I was doing market research, I just fell in love with the whole arena of customer experience and d ove in headfirst. So I've put all my eggs in that basket. That's what I live and breathe and I love it.

Steve:
So are you a quantitative researcher, a qualitative or…

Jen:
I would say my heart's probably more on the qualitative side, but I do do quantitative as well.

Steve:
So you did… you got here through the the market research path? Which…

Jen:
Yes…

Steve:
…is kind of how I came into the field as well. So. And how long have you been at Gogo?

Jen:
I've been at Gogo a little bit over a year and we've done some really incredible things. It was a brand new program. It was the first CX specific hire that they had made. So I had a lot of leeway to create new things.

Steve:
Yeah. What was it that attracted you a year ago? What was the mandate or what was the vision that that you were attracted to?

Jen:
Well, I'll be honest, my passion is kind of starting up these big CX initiatives for companies that have the desire to do so, but not necessarily the experience. So they had an opportunity for me to come in and start driving some of these initiatives that they had big ideas for, but weren't really sure about what tactics to use to get there.

Steve:
Had you done that before you went to Gogo?

Jen:
Yeah. So in a previous company we had kind of stumbled onto CX and started doing a lot of journey mapping and experience design. And I was like, Oh, yeah, I like this. I like starting these things.

Steve:
So Gogo had never done anything in this area and in your division?

Jen:
So I don't want to take credit for everything. They did have a… some basic survey programs that they were doing and we were able to just expand on those and that and increase the visibility across the company. And the… the culture was always there. One of the really cool things about Go-Go is everybody that works here has such a heart for the customer. And it was really cool to be able to take that attitude and turn it into tangible things.

Steve:
Yeah, actually, that's a common theme. I think across a lot of the people that we interview on… on the podcast is that typically the customer focus pre-dates any kind of formal CX organization because the you know, the company was always customer focused and in many ways that's why companies are successful.

Jen:
Yeah.

Steve:
I'm glad to hear you say that, that you actually came into the kind of the culture was there and so you had a nice blank canvas to work with. And that's your passion.

Jen:
Absolutely.

Steve:
All right. So I got to ask you, you're an Internet company and you do telephone surveys?

Jen:
Well, no, not quite. [laughing] So what we do.

Steve:
How ironic!

Jen:
We don't do telephones surveys. What we do is we have our… like a typical relationship survey that we give to our customers once a year. We do it on a quarterly basis. So it's a little bit more manageable internally. And that is a email survey that gets sent out. But then what we do with the results is definitely telephone based.

Steve:
Ok. So it's more the closed loop; the follow up?

Jen:
Yes.

Steve:
Can you give us a… describe that in a little more detail, sort of how the process works, and scope and scale?

Jen:
Yes, absolutely. So we've got our customer base, as you can imagine, that's a little bit smaller than some large companies. Not everybody in the U.S. owns a private aircraft.

Steve:
Can give us like round numbers about how many how many customers do you guys?

Jen:
So we typically send these out to our customers that use our core products and it's about 6,000.

Steve:
Okay.

Jen:
Yeah. And so what we do is once we get all of the feedback back from the survey, we always ask the NPS question, of course, but we follow it up with the comment box, which I think everybody knows by now is best practices with, "why did you rate us that way?"

Steve:
Correct.

Jen:
And so what we do is we we look at all of our passives and detractors, and I'm happy to say there aren't too many, but we organize that based on what… what their comments actually are. So if somebody has an issue with… maybe a technical issue, we'll put that in one category. And if they have an issue with maybe like a service interaction, that's another category. So we categorize all of the comments and then we have a program that we just call internally our customer callback program where every single manager and above in Gogo Business Aviation is assigned at least one call. And they do those calls one-to-one basis and just ask the customer a little bit more. Fix any problems if they can. And we place the managers based on what category the comments were.

Steve:
Right.

Jen:
So if there is an issue with hardware, then maybe that customer will get called by the head of engineering. If there is an issue with the way customer viewed pricing, they might talk to somebody in product or marketing to get more feedback. If they had an issue with their billing, that of course, goes to accounting. And it's been a really powerful way for our employees to interact with our customers on a one to one basis.

Steve:
That is a beautiful example of a best practice about how to engage leadership in actually taking action on customer feedback. So congrats. Is this something that you put in in the last year?

Jen:
Yeah. So previously there were… there was a program to call back – I think it was people who had requested a follow up. But it was very poorly attended on our side. And I think it was just… just a little bit of apprehension and maybe a lack of resources to drive the initiative. So we created a new program, implemented the managers and above created new tracking. We kind of gamified it on our side a little bit, tried to demystify it so that people who are going into this program for the first time, they're not as apprehensive because it can be a little bit scary for somebody who's not in a customer facing role to be faced with contacting potentially unhappy customer. So we tried to do a lot of things to decrease that level of anxiety associated with making callbacks. And it's been really successful.

Steve:
Yeah, this is a classic case. I mean, in some ways it's just about doing the little things and doing them well. And it… just after, you know, decades in this business, it just never ceases to amaze me how many organizations can't seem to just do that to the little things? Well, most of the time. But it sounds like you've got a really great way for doing that. Can you give us any stories, or examples of things that have changed based on on this process or where… I know you said they're empowered to try to make improvements, but has there been more functional or more policy changes that came out of the feedback?

Jen:
Yes, absolutely. One of the great things I think about Gogo is that we really enable people to make decisions that benefit the customer pretty easily. One specific instance was: we were hearing from a handful of customers, it wasn't many that they were having issues with nicks on the antenna. So the product itself, there are antennas that are mounted on the belly of the aircraft. And as you can probably imagine, these aircraft owners like these beautiful multi-million dollar pieces of machinery to shine, right? And during normal courses of flight, chips would occur from small stones flying up from the runway, you know, just kind of like nicks and…

Steve:
Wear and tear.

Jen:
Yeah, normal stuff. And it wasn't affecting the performance of the antenna, but it just wasn't the way they wanted their planes to look. And at the time when we were hearing this feedback, the really only option we had for was to replace the entire antenna, which was extremely expensive. And we heard this feedback from a couple of people and some of our friends in the engineering department took it and said, OK, well, what… what can we do? How can we create a work around for these people so that they can get that shine that they're looking for? And even though it didn't affect the performance and it really wasn't a Gogo problem, quote-unquote, they… they took the extra effort to make a change to the policy and put together work instructions so that the customers could create a paint match and fill the nicks and make it look new again without having to incur any additional costs. So that was a pretty cool thing that they took the extra time to do, just to decrease the pain point that our customers were having that, you know, wasn't a huge pain point, but we definitely didn't want them to have any sort of negative thoughts about Gogo.

Steve:
No, and it's a very simple fix, right?

Jen:
It is, yeah.

Steve:
And and relatively low cost to you, too.

Jen:
Correct. Yeah. There wasn't any cost to us outside of the… the time that our engineers put in. So, yeah, It was a win-win.

Steve:
And I think that's a perfect example of where if you didn't have the kind of process in place that you put in, you might never know that.

Jen:
Right.

Steve:
We are talking with Jen Pardi Cusick, the senior customer experience strategist at Gogo Business Aviation. Frequent airline travelers will know that Gogo is a… provides Internet services on commercial flights. But Jen actually works in the private aircraft – jealous, jealous, jealous – part of the business. And we're having a fascinating discussion about how they provide Internet services to private aircraft and how she's built the customer experience program there at Gogo Business Aviation. Let me change it just a little bit. But, you know, you're relatively new. You came in. The company has a long history of being customer focused. Were there any obstacles that you've encountered or any… any things that surprised you about joining in and being on this journey?

Jen:
I think, like I mentioned, all of the employees definitely have a passion for helping the customer. The only obstacles come to when we're… we're really reaching out and having those one to one conversations. I think it's natural to be apprehensive. I mean, I'll be honest, even I'm apprehensive sometimes when I'm gonna reach out to a customer that has put some really highly angry comments in the textbox. But what we worked through is we… we came up with a few ways to help people who don't deal with customers on a daily basis, complete these calls. And we instituted a buddy system. So for anyone that, you know, just really wasn't into it and didn't feel like they were comfortable enough to do that on their own, they could bring in another person, whether it was someone from a different department, someone on their team or even me to just sit down and do a two on one with that customer. And it just helped them feel supported. We also made it really okay to say you don't know. So these calls can go in any direction. You can, you know, end up talking to somebody who really only interacts with it when they're in the back of the plane and they're surfing the Web, you know. Or you could end up with a really enthusiastic aviation expert pilot who wants to talk about all the nitty gritty inner workings of this kind of technology. And so there… it's a very high likelihood that you will end up being asked a question you don't know. And part of what we tried to do with this program is make it the culture that it's absolutely acceptable to say, I don't know, let me find out. So that helped decrease the level of anxiety as well. And I think the nice thing, having been through several rounds of the program is now we have a lot of these positive stories to tell. And yeah, you might end up talking to a customer that's not happy, but it's been a very rare experience where both people who got off the call didn't feel better than they did before it.

Steve:
Boy, you said a lot there, Jen. I want to unpack a couple of things that you said there, because I'm just fascinated by this. But first of all, what's been sort of the impact with your colleagues, with your associates there, at Gogo from this experience, what was already a customer focused culture? How is this enhance that?

Jen:
I think it's definitely given our employees a firsthand look of what the customer experience looks like. So our engineers wouldn't normally talk to a customer or people in accounting may not normally talk to a customer. And now they're given this opportunity, so when they're making decisions in their daily work, they can think about, oh, yes, so-and-so I talked to he had an issue with this. How can I apply that to this problem that I'm looking at today? And we've seen a lot of really inventive ways that people are attacking problems now that they have a better relationship with individuals. I think overall, too, people are really excited to talk to the customers. I mentioned at the beginning there was a lot of apprehension, but now it's like, oh yeah, it's customer callback time and they know they're going to have really good interactions and fun conversations. Our product team loves it because it's one of the few times outside of customer research that they just get to have a conversation with the customer. So overall, everyone's really excited about those interactions.

Steve:
Are customers ever surprised that you're actually following up?

Jen:
Oh, my gosh. Yes. So I mentioned that it was managers and above. So it's… it's likely that some of our customers are going to be called by an executive. And when you filled out a little survey and then all of a sudden the president of Gogo Business Aviation calls you and says, hey, I want to learn more, that's so impactful. And I think it helps our customers understand how much we really, truly do care about what they think and how they're feeling about us.

Steve:
That's just awesome. Congratulations, for what… what you've put together there. What's your long term vision, or or maybe not even long term, but where do you want the program to go here over the next year or two?

Jen:
So I think the program will continue to expand. We'll probably have more participation across the organization and loop in more non manager people to participate. Beyond that, we've got a number of different initiatives that we're looking at to try and really expand the relationships that we have and start building more customer loyalty. Right now we've got great responses with our customers being satisfied. But as you know, satisfaction does not necessarily equate loyalty. So we're focusing on that arena next.

Steve:
So, Jen, you mentioned that one of the ways that you've encouraged people to participate in the process is through gamification. Can you can you give our listeners a little more insight into that?

Jen:
Sure. So we wanted to make the participation fun. And what we did is we organized our employees into their teams and then created a leader board that updated whenever they completed a customer call. So we turned it into a competition internally. And then we had some fun bragging rights surrounding that. And it was fun to see how that changed the perception of the participants from, "yeah, I'll get to it," to, "I'm going to do it first because I want to see how our our team moves up the leader board."

Steve:
I've got to believe that H.R. loves you, by the way. That, I mean, that is just such a great way to kind of, you know, keep keep the culture moving in the right direction. OK. Jen, we've come to that point of our program where we always ask our guests to provide take home value for our listeners. And this is basically your chance to provide your best tip to your cohorts out there in the world of CX, something that's worked for you, that is kind of your go-to strategy and something that our listeners might be able to take back to their job and or their place of business tomorrow, next week, next month, and actually make a difference in their CX program.

Jen:
Absolutely. I think one of the most important things in CX is to prioritize getting people who don't normally talk to customers, talking to them. And whether it's a full blown program like we have or maybe just, you know, a conversation that you loop someone in here and there, it really increases the culture of the organization. And it also builds really important relationships with your customers that you may not otherwise be able to cultivate.

Steve:
So it's not going to put you out of a job if you let some of your colleagues talk to other customers, right?

Jen:
No, definitely not. That's my hope and dream that everybody loves that.

Steve:
Yeah. Jen Pardi Cusick has been my guest. She's the senior customer experience strategist at Gogo Business Aviation. Jen, thanks, thanks a bunch for being on the show. Really enjoyed having you.

Jen:
Absolutely. Thank you, Steve.

Steve:
And if our listeners want to try to connect with you, are you out there on LinkedIn?

Jen:
Absolutely. Happy to connect.

Steve:
Yeah, it's Jen Pardi: P A R D I, Cusick, C U S I C K. And she's with Gogo Business Aviation. Jen, thanks again for being a guest on the program. And best of luck to you for continuing all the success you've already had.

Jen:
Thanks, Steve.

Steve:
If you want to talk about anything you heard on the podcast or about how Walker can help your business customer experience, feel free to email me here at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or give us a call here in the U.S. at +1-317-843-8890. Be sure to check out our website, cxleaderpodcast.com. You can subscribe to the show and find all our previous episodes – now over 100 – and the podcast series and the contact information and you can let us know how we're doing. We would love to hear from you. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker. We're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for listening. And we will see you again next time.

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