Lesley Elwell, Vice President of Customer Service at DIRECTV, and Paul Brook, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Customer Success at LivePerson, discuss strategies for fostering both customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty and the role HR and workforce analytics can play in meeting customers’ needs.
Paul Brook: Lesley, please tell us about your role at DIRECTV.
LESLEY ELWELL: I have a dream job. I get to work side by side with Ed Balcerzak, the Senior Vice President of Customer Care, and his amazing team that is helping evolve and shape the culture of our organization. I am responsible for taking both the customer and employee experience to extraordinary levels and for continuing to build and develop the magnificent talent that we have.
“HR needs to prepare leaders for broader roles more quickly; and develop and sustain the capability of the organization to continually challenge itself to improve.”
What role should HR play in developing the customer experience journey, so that it not only tracks customers but also establishes customer loyalty?
HR needs to prepare leaders for broader roles more quickly; and develop and sustain the capability of the organization to continually challenge itself to improve. The analytical mechanisms to manage change are necessary yet not sufficient (i.e., the structure, the processes, incentives, knowledge). Leading the hearts is as important as leading the minds. The competencies, skills and attributes needed (i.e. self-awareness, forward thinking, positive energy, inspiration) are critical to the success. The ability to develop and sustain these capabilities is HR’s number one priority in our journey.
How have workforce analytics helped drive your customer experience strategy? What are some best practices that you’ve implemented at DIRECTV?
A lot has been written about workforce analytics in the past few years. The hardest part is not the analytics themselves, but rather building an “analytical mindset” within the organization. Sometimes, we run into the danger of focusing solely on computing and reporting analytics. However, when you can start actually predicting how your talent decisions drive business performance, that’s when you can start achieving transformational results in this area. Regarding best practices, we are on a journey to develop the key behavioral indicators (KBIs) to improve the overall proficiency of our frontline management, as well as our customer service representatives. Having that ability to measure, analyze and predict behavioral versus performance indicators has made a huge difference for us. Another best practice revolves around our partnership with McKinsey in our customer experience journey. We have worked hard to re-define the employee experience that aligns to the customer experience that we strive to deliver to achieve customer loyalty for life.
How does DIRECTV work to appeal to both prospective employees as well as customers?
That’s a great question. We start with a very solid brand. We are the best in our industry. We have a great foundation that appeals to prospective employees and customers. To be more innovative, we are starting to reach out to potential employees in the way that they communicate, research, investigate and make decisions today. That means more online and social networking efforts. We are integrating ourselves much more with our customer relationship management team to better understand our customers’ lifestyles and needs, and then drive products that work for them.
“Customer satisfaction is important, but not sufficient, we also want to foster customer loyalty. That’s our ultimate goal. The most effective way that we can do that is by focusing, first and foremost, on the fact that we are a customer care organization.”
What are the most effective ways that you have found to improve service levels and customer satisfaction?
Customer satisfaction is important, but not sufficient; we also want to foster customer loyalty. That’s our ultimate goal. The most effective way that we can do that is by focusing, first and foremost, on the fact that we are a customer care organization. We think about how we can essentially work ourselves out of a job by finding ways to work horizontally across our organization in different ways to simplify our business. If we work ourselves out of our jobs, we have simplified customer care and we have more loyal customers. Everybody leads such hectic lives today. The last thing that a customer wants to do is spend a lot of time on the phone to fix a problem.
When those calls do come, we must be consistently extraordinary in our service delivery. We must be consistent at providing an effortless, extraordinary experience in each and every call. We start by solving the customer’s problem, we then anticipate the customer’s future needs and prevent that next call, and we do it in a way that customers feel how much we value them. To do so, highly engaged employees is a must. We ensure that each of our employees’ interactions with each other, with their supervisors and their support organizations, is one that yields a 10 Net Promoter Score. We lead the industry in employee engagement, and it is no coincidence that we were able to almost double our retention in the last three years. We can improve even more, yet we’re definitely moving in the right direction.
It sounds like you’ve had an incredible 2013 and are reaping the rewards and return on investment of all the strategies and innovations that you drove last year. As you look ahead, are there any new initiatives that you plan to develop to further improve on DIRECTV customers’ experiences?
We know that the customer experience journey that we’re on is the right one. We will continue the strategies that we’ve implemented to ensure that we evolve that customer experience and bring profitable growth to the company to sustain and improve our business. We also will continue to invest in talent and prepare our leaders for broader roles more quickly; that is a key priority for us. We’ll continue to leverage our workforce analytics and overall business analytics and integrate them together to have different insights that allow us to continue to create and provide specific programs to our employees and customers that better fit their needs.
Paul Brook is the Senior Vice President and Global Head of Customer Success at LivePerson. Paul is a member of LivePerson’s executive team and is responsible for Professional Services, Customer Value, Customer Support, Account Management, Education, and Customer Experience. Prior to joining LivePerson, Paul spent almost two years at SuccessFactors where he was Chief Customer Officer and Head of Customer Success for SAP’s Cloud division. Paul’s career has also included 13 years at Oracle where he held a number of leadership positions including Vice President, Global Applications Support, where he was responsible for running a global support organization of 2,500 employees. Paul has over 19 years of wide ranging information technology experience including 15 years managing global support organizations where he has demonstrated and proven track record of implementing corporate strategy and vision. Paul is a customer advocate who believes that beautiful products deserve a beautiful support experience. Paul is a seasoned support leader who believes that Customer Success, Customer Satisfaction and Service Excellence delivered at the most attractive cost structure, is the cornerstone of any successful business. Paul has also led support organizations at GetThere LP and Versys Corporations.
Lesley Elwell is vice president of Customer Care Human Resources for DIRECTV. In this role, Elwell focuses on delivering workforce strategies and capabilities that will enable a new standard for consistent, improved performance in service levels and customer satisfaction. Workforce strategies include, but are not limited to, achieving improvements in speed to competency; turnover and performance management; and creating the necessary employee experience /empowerment that allows achievement of the DIRECTV Customer Service strategy.
Prior to joining DIRECTV in 2012, Elwell was director of Human Resources planning at Sprint. In this role, she influenced Sprint’s 2010 workforce productivity improvements in the customer care, consumer retail and business frontline organizations, achieving an average of approximately 20 percent year-over-year improvements across their key performance indicators. Additionally, she spearheaded the design of a human resources operating model to support 16 internal and 35 outsourced call centers. This model helped identify and implement opportunities to improve customer care commitment and consistency, and improve performance in first call resolution and customer satisfaction for 12 consecutive months in 2008-2009. Under Elwell’s leadership, customer care voluntary annualized turnover decreased 22 percent in approximately one year.
Elwell also worked at Sprint in a variety of other roles including senior manager of Learning and Development for Sprint University and senior manager of Marketing Operations. During her tenure at Sprint, she led the design, development and implementation of the top training tool used by Sprint’s indirect sales channel. She also created and managed the go-to-market process for all Sprint marketing programs which contributed to the achievement of gross activations targets and ARPU goals.
Elwell holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Nacional Experimental del Tachira in Venezuela. Additionally, she was selected as a Latin American Fulbright scholar for the master’s degree in Engineering Management, which she received from the University of Kansas, Regent Center. Elwell also participated in a High Potential Executive Leadership Program created in partnership between Sprint and Duke University. She also served on the Board of Directors for Mattie Rhodes, a non-profit organization focused on bilingual and bicultural mental health and social services tailored for Latinos in the Kansas City area.
Elwell is based at DIRECTV’s Denver offices.