“Who wants to start?” I ask.
“He’s older,” laughs Stephanie Linville, CCXP.
Her husband Brad Linville, CCXP, agrees. “I started my career first, so I should probably go first,” he says. His CX journey began 30 years ago when he joined Indianapolis-based Walker Information in the early ‘90s. At that time, even though CX wasn’t CX as we currently know it, Brad was still thrilled to build on his graduate school foundations and examine how to make customers’ interactions with organizations better. “I worked in a group that was then known as customer satisfaction measurements,” he recalls. “Even then, the idea went beyond market research to the question of ‘how do you satisfy customers?’”
As CX matured, so did Brad’s career, as he held a series of progressively more responsible roles within the company.
“My career has been spent consulting with companies on how best to use information, whether that's customer market research information, strategic information from other informational sources of truth in companies, employee perception, supplier perception, or marketplace perception, and to turn those sources info business advantage and success,” he says.
While at Walker, his path crossed with Stephanie, who joined the company in part because of the great reputation it had within the Indianapolis community. “I was able to start my career at a great place, learn to drive strategy, and get the foundation for great market research principles, and all the quantitative best practices that go into effective voice of the customer survey design,” she says.
Walker proved a launchpad for two successful careers—and a marriage that has lasted over 25 years. “I met Brad and his wit, charming personality, and intelligence won me over,” she says.
Brad’s path took him from Walker to Confirmit, where he serves as the Principal Director of Global CX Consulting.
“I’m very fortunate,” he says. “I get to continue to work with customers and clients to make sure that the strategy they set forth, the methods by which they're collecting data, the insights they draw from that, and the decisions and actions they can take from them are optimized.”
Stephanie left Walker to shift focus from being a provider of CX services to a practitioner. “I wanted to get closer to the customer,” she says, “and see how the work impacts customers and employees within an organization by activating business and cultural transformations, working with business leaders to understand what metrics are important to them.” That passion led her to Wheaton World Wide Moving, where her work to transform and elevate culture won her a CXPA Impact Award in 2017. “I really built, scaled, and elevated the CX function within that organization from the ground up,” she says. “They had a survey for many years, but it was used more to evaluate their agents than as a strategic catalyst for change and differentiation within their industry.”
Currently, Stephanie serves as the Director of Client Experience for CO-OP Financial Services, where she’s excited to work with a larger CX team led by a Chief Experience Officer to drive CX adoption and impact throughout the business. Brad’s work continues as Confirmit has merged with FocusVision to become Forsta, where he’s eager to continue to help organizations turn insights into action to fuel their success. "Our new company is built from the best of both the Confirmit and FocusVision cultures and history," he says. "Forsta means to ‘understand’ in Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish which embodies our business intent. This connects to Confirmit’s Scandinavian heritage. The "F" is a nod to our FocusVision legacy. Our vision is to become the technology partner ambitious organizations turn to when they’re looking to discover more, understand better, and grow smarter."
Brad feels fortunate to have had a front-row seat to the founding of CXPA, and the introduction of the CCXP.
“I was certified almost as soon as I could have been,” says Brad. “And then I've kept that renewed and up to date each time. Because I think as time passes, it really does give you some credibility and sets your point of view apart from others, because people are recognizing what it means.”
Stephanie is proud to continue her involvement with CXPA as a member of two workgroups—one focused on developing a better-than-ever CX Day experience in 2021, and the other focused on advancing CX within institutes of higher education. “My involvement in the CXPA, whether in the local Indianapolis chapter or in the specific leadership committees at the global organization level, has proven to be a valuable resource for inspiration, support, professional development, and networking that is unparalleled by any other group or affiliation.”
Bringing CX Home
Because of the fact that CX is at the heart of one another’s daily work, Brad and Stephanie try to draw clear lines between work and home. “I do think it's healthy for us to have some boundaries,” says Brad, though he admits that the shift to completely virtual work has changed the dynamic. “We seek each other’s opinions, we bounce things off of each other. If she’s got an industry experience I don’t have, I’ll seek that out.”
Stephanie agrees. “I like to think out loud. I like to collaborate. I find lots of value in the ideas that he has and the suggestions that he offers.”
As for suggestions to members of the CX community, their combined experiences have provided perspective. “Having all those different wheels in motion and making sure they're all going in the same direction can be a real challenge for an organization as it seeks to build and scale the CX function,” Stephanie says. “The strategy must be cohesive, where people are coming together, sharing, and collaborating, and the CX professional has to be able to help facilitate that.”
Brad says that the beauty of CX lies in the opportunity it grants its practitioners to seek out new ideas and perspectives in service of better experience. “CX offers a unique ability to do that, where you can get into all sorts of different areas and challenges and priorities because of the fact that they touch the customer,” he says. “You’re seeking information and feedback on how to better that. And so, for me, that's why it's been such a great area to work in, and why it’s been so fulfilling for me all this time.”