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Achieving Success in Retail CX


Samantha Conyers, Chief Experience Officer at First Retail Group, is a seasoned professional with a diverse background that spans various industries and continents. Hailing from Trinidad, Samantha's path to becoming a CX leader is a testament to her dedication and passion for customer experience. Samantha's journey began in retail, selling costume jewelry during her first job.

She then pursued an economics degree and worked in London, gaining invaluable experience in a bank's customer experience team. Returning to Trinidad, she transitioned into the insurance sector, where she was pivotal in transforming her position from Customer Relations Officer to Customer Experience Manager. This change marked the start of her deep dive into CX, a field gaining momentum around 2006-2007. Her career trajectory took her to Digicel, a leading telecommunications company in the Caribbean before she ventured into CX consulting and ultimately joined the retail industry with First Retail Group.

What advice do you have for someone's first 100 days as head of CX?

Samantha emphasizes the importance of having a strategic plan for anyone stepping into a CX leadership role. She advocates for a current state assessment to understand the business, its challenges, and opportunities. Building relationships with key stakeholders and understanding the team dynamics are crucial steps in establishing a strong foundation. As a CX leader, being seen as a change agent is essential, and having a structured approach ensures that initiatives are perceived as strategic rather than superficial.

What does your CX strategy focus on currently and in the future?

Samantha's current CX strategy at First Retail Group focuses on an "inside-out" approach. In retail, especially in a B2C environment, aligning the team with the organization's vision, mission, and values is critical. This alignment fosters a culture that resonates with frontline staff, many of whom are experiencing their first job. By embedding core values into daily operations and recognizing behaviors that reflect these values, Samantha ensures that the customer experience is deeply rooted in the company's ethos.

How Do You Measure Success With CX?

Success in CX is measured through customer-centric and traditional sales KPIs. Samantha integrates customer feedback tools and employee satisfaction metrics into the performance appraisal process. This holistic approach prioritizes operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, creating a balanced scorecard that drives overall business success.

What pain points do you have leading a CX team?

Leading CX comes with its challenges. For Samantha, recruitment and onboarding are significant pain points. Finding the right talent and ensuring they are onboarded effectively is crucial for maintaining high service standards. She believes any failure in this area reflects on her leadership, highlighting the importance of a robust recruitment and onboarding process.

How do you establish partnerships and gain buy-in with the C-suite?

Gaining buy-in from the C-suite is vital for any CX initiative. Samantha has been fortunate to work with supportive CEOs who understand the value of CX. However, she acknowledges that change is a complex process, and building trust and demonstrating the strategic impact of CX initiatives are ongoing efforts.

Do you have an example of utilizing customer feedback to improve your company?

One notable example of utilizing customer feedback was implementing a mystery shopping campaign. This initiative provided invaluable insights into the customer experience, highlighting areas for improvement in service delivery and visual merchandising. By setting clear expectations and using the mystery shopping results as a baseline, Samantha was able to set measurable targets and drive improvements across the organization.

What is the future of CX?

Samantha envisions CX's future as predictive, leveraging data from various sources to forecast customer behavior and personalize experiences. She emphasizes the importance of technology in enhancing CX but cautions against over-automation. The goal is to use technology to facilitate human connections and resolve customer queries efficiently.

About Samantha Conyers

Samantha Conyers headshotBeyond her professional life, Samantha is a parent juggling the demands of a full-time career and raising two children. She values networking with like-minded professionals and is keen to contribute to the CX community. Samantha's openness to learning and sharing knowledge makes her a respected figure in customer experience.

Samantha Conyers can be found on LinkedIn, where she actively engages with the CX community. Her journey and insights inspire aspiring CX professionals looking to make a meaningful impact in their organizations.

About CX Chats

CX chats is an interview series with Ben Holland, where we talk to industry leaders in the field of customer experience and customer success. Each interview dives deep into the insights from each leader and highlights how they became successful, tips for aspiring CX professionals, and their thoughts on the future of CX.

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