Expert InterviewsPodcasts

Ideas to improve customer experience: interview with Sue Brady – E71

By February 13, 2020 No Comments
VP of Marketing and Customer Engagement at HUGHES, Sue Brady, shares insights about her team’s CXNow! program, an innovative approach to unearthing ideas to improve customer experience. Sue and show host, Julia, discuss the genesis for the program, the resulting impact on the customer journey and what had put CXNow! in a different stratosphere from your run-of-the-mill employee suggestion box. If you’re interested in a real life example of how CX professionals are realizing change and making CX relevant in their organization, then this episode is for you.

A CX leader in action

Sue Brady is the the Vice President of Marketing and Customer Engagement, HUGHES Networks Systems. Sue is a strategic and results-driven marketing executive with a proven ability to grow revenue and profits through online and direct marketing channels. In addition to her marketing duties, in the last two years she has been co-leading a newly created Customer Experience Team. The goal of the team has been to spread the practice of always putting the customer first.

Hughes Network Systems, LLC (we’ll refer to it as HUGHES from here on out) is the global leader in broadband satellite technology and services for home and office. Its flagship high-speed satellite Internet service is HughesNet®, the world’s largest satellite network with over 1.4 million residential and business customers across the Americas. Headquartered outside Washington, D.C., in Maryland, Hughes operates sales and support offices worldwide, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation

Like many CX professionals, Sue comes from a marketing background, though she has been involved with customer experience for many years. HUGHES’ parent company EchoStar has always emphasized customer experience, and when the leadership team decided to formalize a CX function, Sue was a natural fit for the role. Her skills have been complemented by those of her CX co-lead who hails from a customer service support background. They both had CX-related responsibilities already as a part of their ‘regular’ jobs, but this shift put more focus on CX. It sounds like HUGHES has found a way to bring together the best of both worlds to great a CX powerhouse in their organization.

Sue Brady Vice President Marketing and Customer Engagement, HUGHES

To learn more about Sue, be sure to check out her LinkedIn profile or follow her on Twitter, where she often posts nuggets of insight about CX And digital marketing. If you’d like to learn more about HUGHES, they’ve got a great website with details about their products and services. 

CXNow! in the spotlight

Customer journeys are works in progress. As customer wants and needs or the technology underpinning the experience evolves, so should the journey. But how do CX teams gather ideas to improve customer experience? One approach is to go straight to the horse’s mouth and ask customers what they want. Most organizations with a CX program do this, and it yields tons of insights, but it can also be difficult or time-consuming to manage customer listening on an ongoing basis. That’s why many organizations also turn to their employees as an additional source of ideas for journey improvement. Since employees have a unique perspective about what goes on behind the scenes, they are well-positioned to combine this with things they have had to troubleshoot in the past. 

HUGHES CXNow! program does just that. The program was designed to encourage employees, service center contractors and installers to start thinking about ways that the company could improve customer experience. Ideas are submitted through a centralized email inbox, where they are reviewed, vetted and actioned by a cross-functional team on a weekly basis. Team members who submit ideas are recognized through posters, video reels and badge pins. This campaign aspect of the program helps create a sense of ownership and sustain organization-wide energy around the program. 

CXNow! was selected as a finalist for the CXPA 2019 Innovation Awards, a prestigious recognition for Sue and her team. The essence of the CXNow! program is probably best summarized in their award finalist submission video:

More than just crowd-sourcing ideas to improve customer experience

Of course, a main aim of the program has been to solicit and consolidate ideas to improve customer experience, but an added benefit has been the element of employee (and stakeholder) engagement. 

We wanted to let employees know that we value their ideas. Plus, our Customer Care Centers talk to our customers every day, and we wanted to make sure we had a way for those contractors to contribute as well. And, we opened it up to our installers too, since they are in our customers’ homes when our product gets installed. – Sue Brady

Sue stressed the point that this stakeholder engagement was probably the biggest “win” from the program. Getting cross-functional teams to think about customer experience has been key to customer-centric culture change. At their last annual sales meeting, Sue was impressed by how many software and hardware engineers, along with service delivery employees and others organically mentioned the focus on customer experience. CX is clearly something everyone at HUGHES is now thinking about.

The future of CX

Sue’s efforts to engage all stakeholders with their connection to the customer journey dovetails perfectly with where she sees the future of the profession. She, like many others, believes that CX will gradually evolve into a distributed model of ownership for the customer mandate.

The Disney approach makes the most sense to me, where they don’t necessarily have a separate group focusing on CX, but CX is integral to every employee’s job. I think that’s the future and the big win. – Sue Brady

To remain relevant and lead this transition, CX teams and leaders need to be champions for customer advocacy. During meetings, Sue often finds herself asking “how will that benefit the customer?”. As CX professionals, we need to continually ask that question, encourage other leaders to do the same and guide all stakeholders to “think customer”.

Want to keep learning about CX?

Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business define customer experience strategy that delivers results, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services or get in touch via email. To hear other episodes of Decoding the Customer, click here.

Julia Ahlfeldt

Author Julia Ahlfeldt

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