Becoming a Customer Experience Conductor - with Danielle Anderson

23 May 2023

5 min read

Image of Danielle Anderson
Image of Danielle Anderson
Image of Danielle Anderson

If you work in Customer Experience, imagine an orchestra for a second. You have all of these different sections – brass, woodwind, percussion, etc. – who all have the right music in front of them. But how do you get them all working together to create a harmonious symphony? You need a conductor at the middle, keeping tempo and encouraging certain parts at different times.

The best CX leaders are like a conductor. At least that’s what Danielle Anderson told us on our recent edition of the eCommerce Customer Experience podcast. Danielle has an amazing track record of working with and for corporations such as Burberry, Richemont (dunhill), and Pets at Home, as well as the Boston Consulting Group and Chelsea Football Club – so she knows CX through and through. 

Back to the conductor. The best CX leaders need to balance a number of skills, departments, and needs to be able to get down into the details as well as pulling back to see the bigger picture. As Danielle puts it they need to be: “Someone who can lead the customer experience really needs to be able to tie together everything that marketing is doing, technology is doing, the people team’s doing, operations, and even, for example, property and interior design to create that simple, incredible experience for the customer.”

That’s what we have always understood implicitly about the Customer Experience, that it permeates every aspect. But it’s good to be reminded that no element sits in isolation. 

What does good CX look like

We’ve spoken a lot on our podcast about great customer experience and customer-centricity needing to start at the top of an organisation. But when you are balancing all of these different departments, how can a conductor stitch it all together? 

One example Danielle saw was with Pets at Home. A key realisation was that the customer was not just the pet owner, but was the pet. Being able to use that thought to creatively think about the customer experience helped them. They turned that into an actual holistic plan.

“What they did was literally a customer experience map, and it aligned all teams and gave them a sense of not only what their place was in the customer experience, but how they contribute, how people, processes, and technology overlap.”

This kind of process allowed the inherent complexity of customer experience to be very clear throughout the organisation. Plus it allowed Pets At Home to think about customer experience as a lifelong process, not just a one-time thing. 

How to measure CX success

We’ve spoken in detail to our customers about metrics, and when you think about measuring CX it’s tempting to dive straight in. But, Danielle says you should pause.

“One of the first things that I do in any consulting assignment or in any role that I’ve had is I ask if they’ve mapped the customer journeys, if they have a bigger picture of the customer experience. And more often than not, they don’t.”

By plotting these kinds of journeys, CX professionals can see the pinch points, the bottle necks, and the areas that really matter to customers. In essence, what sort of customer experience do you want to track?

Once that it is in place, however, you can start to look at both qualitative and quantitative metrics. Let’s look at qualitative.

“We naturally are asking customers for feedback on our products and services. So the question is, do you have a standardized or consistent feedback loop where people aren’t just rating you 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, but actually giving you kind of what I call meat on the bone, giving you information that you can respond to, that you can act on.” Danielle points out. 

Taking in isolation, a low score in something like Customer Satisfaction doesn’t help you get down to understanding why. Whereas if it’s combined with feedback it can give you a nugget of information that can help you understand. 

CX success is not an overnight process

Once you have identified that Customer Experience is a priority, it can be tempting to throw the kitchen sink at it in terms of technology and processes. But that is one of the biggest mistakes companies can do, according to Danielle. 

“There are some fundamental basics that are before the big investments in CRM tools or feedback platforms,” Danielle told us. “It’s thinking first, it’s strategizing first. It’s not suddenly putting in a bunch of solutions where you don’t know the purpose.”

Identifying what you want to do is the first step, and then going to the how. Of course, customer experience is something that everyone in the business has some impact on, so in turn everyone owns. But if everyone has some responsibility, who should have overall accountability?

“There has to be on person being the conductor, one person that has a seat at the table. It’s similar to how you might think of a chief financial officer or a chief people officer.” In other words, why wouldn’t you have someone who represents the voice of the customer for any major decision. 

Who does Customer Experience well?

All of this is fine in theory, but in practice, what does great customer experience look like? Danielle identified Patch Plants as a brand has great customer experience. “They’ve thought about the full customer journey… once you buy the plant, they’ve thought as a digital brand, how do you create an incredible physical experience when you receive the product?” 

As well as providing a care guide, the customer representative actually explained where it would sit best in my house. “This is a big lesson for digital brands: you still have to think about that physical moment when your customer receives the product.”