The Early Days—Flipping Marketing on its Head
For as long as she can remember, Andrea Krohnberg, CCXP, has been fascinated with understanding why people make the decisions that they do. She found herself intrigued by the science that underpins how companies discover the people who needed their programs, products and services, and this curiosity shaped her career, propelling her into the world of customer experience.
Early in her career, Andrea focused on customer loyalty programs at a global hospitality company. Her work went beyond basic marketing perspectives, focusing on how to get smarter about data use and “build one-to-one marketing, which builds into CRM, which builds into customer strategy” and then flows into CX.
When Andrea’s career path changed and she started working for a global marketing services firm, she went from the client side of CX to the agency side. “Clients would come to us to ask ‘How do I market to people better? How do I get them to buy my products?’ We would flip it and talk to them about their customer experience and what will help drive that relationship that you're trying to get,” she explains.
After five years of consulting on customer engagement and customer experience, Andrea moved into the nonprofit world where she helped a very large organization build out their customer experience discipline from the ground up. “The job involved building out a robust set of knowledge and then implementing experience design initiatives, organizational culture change - a whole variety of CX principles,” she says.
All of those experiences have brought Andrea to where she is now - taking that past experience across all of those other positions, and bringing that to her current employer, where she’s consulting with senior-level leaders on how to build out employee and customer experience for targeted B2B customer groups.
And although the work of helping others in an organization understand customer experience isn’t easy, Andrea has seen a lot of progress over the years.
“I think what really made me understand that we were making great CX progress was when teams started to proactively look for the customers’ point of view identify CX opportunities and to guide decision making,” she said.
A Grassroots Approach
Andrea says that the present moment is an exciting time for CX. “I do think there are a lot of people who are really trying to propel this discipline forward,” she says. Along with that excitement, however, must come greater clarity. “People sometimes have a perception about what CX is, but they’re not entirely certain,” she says. “In the absence of clarity, they just start making things up.”
Experienced CX leaders, she says, must help define customer experience for their organizations. “We really need to talk about the customer experience in a much bigger and broader way than just a retention or a loyalty metric. When I come in, I treat my new organization as if they were a consulting client, and I go through some strategic insights and investigations.”
That involves looking at the data and market, interviewing cross-functional team members, and creating segmentation models that go beyond geography and demographics and into behaviors and psychographics. From there, Andrea identifies the gaps and opportunities, overlaying that information with the organization's priority list to understand where CX fits.
Laughing, she acknowledges that sometimes the reaction from management is viewed as “you do that and let us know how it's going,” as opposed to integrating CX into the company’s culture.
To improve buy-in, Andrea creates what she calls an “engagement roadmap” to chart quick wins for customers and employees, as well as map future opportunities to transform the culture. “I don't steamroll in and say, ‘Hey, CEO, I need you to change the way that you think and the way that you're doing a strategic plan.’ Instead, it’s more of a grassroots initiative to build credibility for our work, and then start to infuse it in the day-to-day operations and strategic planning.”
Above all, Andrea’s top priority is to tell compelling stories about CX that resonate with organizational decision-makers. “I want them to know that these actions are driving real value and tangible business outcomes,” she says. “My focus is on telling a story that resonates with the decision makers, so that customer experience is valued and embraced throughout an organization, and gets embedded in its DNA.”