Building lasting customer relationships takes more than award-winning products and services. Understanding and addressing customer needs – especially when the business environment is challenging, changing and unpredictable – is fundamental. We recently spoke with Debra Mariniello, VP, Client Engagement and Solutions, about CCC’s Customer Experience First program, or “CX1” as it’s known here. (Also see our earlier interview in this series with Stephanie Fox.)

Before we dig in: can you give us a refresher on what CX1 is and how CCC came to adopt it?

DM: Certainly! CX1 stands for Customer Experience First and at CCC we look at it as a recommitment to placing the customer experience at the forefront of what we do. When you launch a program focused on customer experience, it can look like you’re trying to remediate something. But that’s not the case for us. We’re not trying to fix anything. We’ve always been a customer-focused organization and we’re proud of—and grateful for—the happiness and satisfaction of our customers.

And, like any smart organization, we’re always reassessing our practices to find ways to improve. That’s why we developed our CX1 program—to highlight the great work of our teams; renew our focus on how our customers experience us across all our interactions; across time. And seek out ways to make that experience with us better.

How do you think embracing the CX1 philosophy will impact the customer experience here at CCC?

DM: I think this renewed focus on CX will mean that our customers start to see small roadblocks and inconveniences melt away. They’ll see our processes become more streamlined and—in many cases—they’ll see improvements they didn’t even know they wanted.

Our CX goal is simple: make it easy for our customers and prospects to engage with us and give them an exceptional experience along the way. To this end, we’ve been combing through every possible way in which our customers and prospects interact with us to identify areas—both big and small—in which we can improve. And we’re covering everything—from small online touch points that often occur when a prospect first learns of us to more complex onboarding processes that guide our customers through the adoption of our products (and beyond). We’re determined to make the customer experience seamless, intuitive and exceptionally pleasant.

Can you share any recent examples of CX1 in action?

DM: We recently discovered that when a customer wanted to add on a particular service, we rerouted the request through several different departments within the organization—making for a lengthy and unnecessarily frustrating process for the customer. We knew immediately that this needed to change so we empowered the team that was in direct contact with the customer from the beginning. That front-line team can now give our customers what they need right then and there. It was a simple fix, but it made a big impact on our customers’ experience—removing red tape and saving them valuable time. And if we hadn’t been looking for this hiccup in our process, we might not have found it. This serves as a perfect example of why we undertook this initiative and is a testament to the value of our CX1 commitment.

As the VP of Client Engagement and Solutions, what is your role—and your Department’s role—in furthering this agenda and making CX1 happen?

DM: In my role, I act as an internal champion for the CX program and for our customers’ experiences. The team’s role is to listen to our customers, advocate for their needs and challenge the status quo. What we’re asking everyone here to do is listen and to not just accept the way we do business as the way we will always do business. We want to improve and CX1 helps us to focus on the changes that matter the most: those that will directly and immediately benefit our customers.

What’s your take on the progress so far?

DM: I’m incredibly excited about what we’ve accomplished. Not only have we made improvements in the ways we engage with our customers but we’ve created a framework and a mindset that we’re promulgating across the organization. And the best part is that we’re seeing tangible results. One of the best examples of this is the Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year we won just a few months ago. It was so encouraging to get this recognition and it’s created some really amazing momentum for us.

What’s next for CX1 at CCC?

DM: We’re going to continue to build on the foundation we’ve created. For us, CX1 isn’t just an initiative or a project with a beginning, middle and end. It’s a mindset. And it’s about building a culture in which we put the customer first in everything we do.

So we’ll continue to think critically about how our customers experience our organization—from start to finish—and seek out ways to make their interactions with us easier, more streamlined, and exceptionally pleasant.

Wrapping up then: If you could speak directly to your customer, what would you say CX1 means for them?

DM: CX1 means that we are committed to delivering the highest quality service to our customers; not just through our customer service teams, but in every way our customers interact and engage with us. It also means that we want to hear from our customers and other participants in our marketspaces. We want to know when we get it right and when (and how) we can get better.

CCC exists to make it easier for content users to get access to —and use —the content they need within their workflows. They don’t need to work with us, but instead they choose to —we are aware that there are other ways (less efficient and effective ones, we believe) our customers may accomplish this outside of CCC, so we don’t take that for granted. Our hope and expectation is that our CX1 initiative will help us continue to serve their needs in a way that makes their jobs easier and their professional lives more pleasant and productive—and that they will continue to choose us.

Author: Dave Davis

Dave Davis joined CCC in 1994 and currently serves as a research consultant. He previously held directorships in both public and corporate libraries and earned joint master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and Medieval European History from Catholic University of America. He is the owner/operator of Pyegar Press, LLC.
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