Delivering solutions in complex technology environments means balancing many competing priorities, both internal and external. There’s always a risk that the customer experience takes a back seat, with predictable consequences.
That’s why CX – customer experience – has become such a hot topic across the tech industry as vendors try to find ways to improve and maintain the customer experience.
Here at TuxCare we recognize that, beyond just delivering industry-leading technology, we also need to deliver an outstanding customer experience. That’s why, in 2021, we appointed David Mello as Chief Experience Officer (CXO) for TuxCare.
David joined us to make sure that the customer’s voice gets heard every step of the way – from the boardroom, right through to the individual TuxCare staff members that make our products great. In this article, we outline the role of our CXO, what we achieved so far, and why it matters so much for our customers.
Introducing the CXO
Let’s start at the top. The CXO is one of a handful of C-level appointments, sitting next to other positions such as the chief executive officer (CEO), the chief technology officer (CTO), and the chief security officer (CSO).
In recent years many technology companies have come to realize that CX needs to be given more prominence at the highest management levels and that the customer experience matters as much if not more than other typical C-level concerns such as security, finance, and technology.
While CX specialists are nowadays commonly contributing day to day in specific CX roles within tech firms, it’s become apparent that CX must have a voice in the boardroom too, simply because management decisions impact the customer either directly or indirectly.
Giving a single, C-level person a specific CX remit is an attempt to address this concern and that brings us to the chief experience officer – the CXO. Essentially, CX needs leadership and that requires a C-suite appointment.
Managing the customer viewpoint within the C-suite
Without someone to voice the customer viewpoint at the highest levels, there is a risk that boardroom conversation becomes too inward-looking, without sufficient thought given to the customer viewpoint. After all, senior-level executives rarely deal with customer concerns on the ground.
Clearly, the work of our new CXO starts at the top – and a large element of what David does is simply operating as an influencer, giving customers a seat at the executive table. That includes highlighting how important a two-way customer relationship is in achieving organizational success.
Because the CXO is appointed at such a senior level and because the CXO is consistently present during decision-making, CXOs help to inform and influence executive decisions. That ensures that customer needs are taken into account when competing objectives come into play.
It’s a push for customer centricity. While it’s easy to say that customers are at the center of the organization, it’s less easy to ensure that it remains the case at the executive level. A CXO can ensure that this happens.
Advocating for customer centricity across the organization
That said, David’s role doesn’t stop in the boardroom. A custom-centric view matters beyond the C-suite too. And, just like other C-suite leaders, our new CXO leads across TuxCare, advocating for the customer throughout the organization.
Every aspect of organizational behavior affects customers. Take the simple example of decisions around the way customers are billed – and the way customers pay. These everyday experiences are not core to the product, but greatly impact how customers feel about their overall experience with TuxCare.
Whether it’s in sales, finance, or support, CX is an important consideration that can sometimes conflict with the reality of business decisions. Technical teams, for example, may have priorities that conflict with the customer experience – particularly in the short run.
Balancing these priorities can be challenging, and it is David’s job to ensure that the customer viewpoint never gets lost within TuxCare. At times it can be an exercise in diplomacy. In essence, CXOs like David act as an influencer – informing, gently pressing for results, and always advocating the customer viewpoint, and supporting ground-level CX staff in their work.
Understanding the issues customers really care about
You can only truly advocate for customers if you have a real understanding of customer needs. CX leaders including CXOs need to build a picture of what it is that customers need – and how customers use products and services.
In his role as CXO, one of the first points that David identified was that a large proportion of TuxCare customers preferred self-service. By this we refer to the ability of customers to find solutions to questions and problems without the need to consult with a TuxCare representative.
Self-service matters because many technical people – and our customers generally fall under the category – like to self-serve. In part because technical users are problem solvers, but also because it’s often a quicker route to problem resolution in comparison to contacting customer services.
So, after a closer look at TuxCare’s documentation and guidance, David realized that while there is extensive self-service help available, the guidance isn’t sufficiently visible and easy enough to navigate. That observation triggered a review of how TuxCare’s self-service documentation is presented so that TuxCare users could self-serve more easily.
There’s another step in this process: what exactly are customers really doing with our products? And what value are customers gaining on the ground? Knowing what customers are using TuxCare products tells us more about what customers need from customer support.
Tuning the customer support model
Not every customer is the same – including in their support requirements. During his work at TuxCare, David identified that some customers benefit from a more premium support structure.
When looking at the needs of enterprise customers, the need for a technical account manager became clear – in other words, a technical lead who looks after just ten or so customer accounts. Just like a key account manager in a role but with a more technical remit. Furthermore, technical account managers go beyond product support to also examine what (technical) value customers derive from their accounts.
In fine tuning the support model David also identified a need to look beyond traditional reactive support tactics to go beyond the day-to-day reactionary responses to support incidents. That’s why TuxCare is working towards implementing an early warning system.
Customers who are in frequent touch with problems and concerns go into a yellow category, with those showing the most escalation going into a red category. This warning system will alert us to customers who are getting frustrated and will help us to flag where this happens even if it’s not been explicitly communicated to us. It allows TuxCare to be responsive to concerns, acting preemptively to help customers that are at risk of disengaging.
Getting to grips with customer intent
In our previous support example, we pointed out that customers don’t always communicate what they’re thinking – even if customers are frequently running into service issues, they might not be vocal about it.
A major part of the CXO’s role is to assess the real on-the-ground customer experience – and customer intent – without necessarily receiving any direct customer input. After all, it’s not the role of the customer to communicate their needs to their vendor.
Moving on from support, a CXO also considers what it is a customer is trying to achieve with a purchase. For example, a customer may want to reduce the time they spend maintaining their OS instances by 5%.
That’s why at TuxCare, we’re now placing more focus on actively trying to help customers to try to achieve their specific goals – and where they don’t achieve it, assessing how we can help them fulfill those goals.
It comes down to customer engagement
Understanding customer intent helps us to avoid purely transactional relationships, where customers simply take what they need and move on – into a relationship that is much more engaged.
While CXOs should attempt to infer the customer perspective, there’s always also the traditional way to get feedback from customers: surveys. Analyzing survey responses can be very insightful, but it won’t necessarily say that much about customer engagement.
But survey engagement is a trend that can be monitored, and survey engagement can contain significant signals about customer engagement because low survey engagement suggests low product engagement.
Surveys are commonly just a question or two – or as little as a star rating. Customers who don’t spend a few seconds responding to a survey may be signaling that they don’t care that much about our product. It’s the difference between a customer whose needs are merely satisfied and a customer who is genuinely engaged with the product.
This proxy customer engagement measure is something that David will keep a close eye on over the coming years. By tightly tying together the customer experience right across the organization TuxCare can deliver the products and services that our customers really love to use.
And, thanks to our new CXO, TuxCare has already made significant progress in moving TuxCare’s products and support services much closer to the everyday needs of our customers.