Keeping CX Simple, Elegant… and Effective

Sarah Simon

Sarah Simon

Author Bio

With over 20 years’ experience in customer experience, Sarah’s passion lies in operationalizing the Voice of Customer to drive outstanding customer experiences. Her specialties include VoC architecture, developing linkages to business performance, reduction of customer defection and analyzing customer feedback to tell the customer’s story. Her expertise in VoC survey design has combined with omni-channel customer listening to structure sophisticated, customer-friendly VoC programs. 

Currently, she serves as VoC Consulting Director at Confirmit, where she combines her industry thought-leadership with customized needs-analysis to architect new feedback initiatives and corresponding customer experience strategies. She also runs diagnostics on existing programs to optimize structure and function to yield significant business insights from mature programs.

Author Bio

Last Thursday, I enjoyed an opportunity to interview, fireside chat style, Terry DuVarne, First Vice President at PennyMac Loan Services. Terry’s small team of two owns the process of listening to the Voice of the Customer and making customer experience improvements in their division. Terry and her analysis ace Melisa DeSimone have made incredible strides at improving how PennyMac does business with the customer without spending a fortune or causing drastic organizational upheaval. Their solutions are simple and elegant yet incredible effective. What are their secrets?

  1. Harvest innovations from the open ends

PennyMac customers were sharing a wealth of service innovation ideas in the open-ended text boxes of their surveys. Fortunately, Terry and Melisa leveraged Text Analytics to gauge customer sentiment and monitor feedback trends. Through this analysis, they isolated two simple but impactful improvements to make to communications sent to customers. More detail on those changes below, but the changes were simple, eloquent and effective.

  1. Be a data-wielding customer advocate

Terry has taken it upon herself to be the squeaky wheel that advocates for process improvements that will benefit the customer. She admits that this isn’t always the easy or popular position, but that it is the obligation of a dedicated CX practitioner to do so. She reminds us, though, that no matter how much your colleagues like and respect you and support CX, it is the job of the CX practitioner to make the case for why other departments should change what they’re doing. To persuade colleagues to take action, Terry shows up armed with credible data produced by Melisa so that customer-facing teams are comfortable prioritizing her CX recommendations.

  1. Limit the number of new CX routines

Often in their rush to improve CX, practitioners hurry to introduce the new: New procedures, new features, new roles. Terry and Melisa instead leveraged existing action channels within PennyMac to enact the change customers were demanding in survey results. “We’ve leveraged and integrated ourselves into existing processes and routines and tried to limit the number of new CX routines.” Instead of reinventing wheels and enacting drastic revisions to how things are done in an organization, it’s easier to use existing channels, relationships and processes to develop the customer experience a practitioner envisions.

Terry and Melisa’s efforts resulted in two notable improvements to how PennyMac communicates with the customer:

  • With the collaboration of multiple departments, they’ve clarified the content of the welcome letter to avoid confusing new customers. This simple and concise welcome communication eliminates new customer confusion, providing a warm welcome to the business and removes the need to call the service desk for an explanation.
  • Various background data processes were synched with the new customer lifecycle, eliminating extraneous customer communications and providing a smoother onboarding experience during this critical phase of the customer relationship. 

The changes were a subtle enough shift that other departments were comfortable adopting and standing behind them, but have made a lasting, real impact on the experience of new customers working with their company.

Terry and Melisa’s recipe is repeatable thanks to its sleek design: Listen to what customers have to say in their open-ended commentary. Use data to advocate for the customer and make CX improvements a priority. Importantly, minimize the number of new CX routines required to enact change by taking advantage of existing relationships and procedures. This is CX at its most simple, elegant and effective.