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How To Lead A CX Team By Listening First, Failing Fast, And Proving Value

How To Lead A CX Team By Listening First, Failing Fast, And Proving Value

We sat down with Lee Kemp, the Vice President of Customer Experience at Veritiv, an accomplished CX executive with a diverse background and a passion for driving positive change. In this conversation, Kemp shares his journey, insights, and advice for fellow CX professionals.

He highlights the exciting opportunity for professionals from various backgrounds to contribute to CX. Through his role, he's discovered that every department can influence customer experiences, making CX a holistic effort across the organization. Lee's passion for the field shines as he encourages others to step into the CX space, emphasizing that it's a fantastic time to be part of this transformative journey.

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

For those stepping into a CX leadership role, the first 100 days can be both exhilarating and challenging. Lee emphasizes the importance of active listening during this critical period. "Ask the right questions, challenge the business, and ask how decisions affect the customer," he advises. By gathering insights, understanding existing metrics, and identifying gaps, CX leaders can lay a strong foundation for future success.

Lee shares his experience of spending the initial phase at Veritiv engaged in a "listening tour." By immersing himself in understanding the organization's nuances, he could devise a tailored strategy that aligned with the company's goals.

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

Crafting an effective CX strategy demands alignment with business goals and a relentless focus on value delivery. "Numbers matter," Lee emphasizes. Demonstrating the ROI of CX initiatives through data-driven metrics helps secure buy-in from the C-Suite. Lee's approach involves not just reducing churn or elevating NPS scores but also tying these achievements to tangible business outcomes.

How Do You Measure Success With CX?

Lee suggests that a combination of data-driven ROI calculations and customer interviews can be instrumental in garnering support from senior leadership. Sharing direct, unfiltered customer experiences allows stakeholders to see the impact of CX efforts firsthand.

What pain points do you have leading a CX or CS team?

While CX leadership offers the opportunity to shape customer-centric strategies, it also comes with its share of challenges. Lee sheds light on the complexity of managing without direct authority and the art of influencing change. Balancing the demands of driving strategy while managing day-to-day operations can be daunting.

A pivotal factor in overcoming these challenges is building a dedicated team that shares the same customer-centric ethos. By empowering the right individuals to manage day-to-day tasks, CX leaders can free up time to focus on long-term strategies that drive sustainable growth.

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

One of the key strategies Lee employs is customer interviews. By capturing firsthand accounts of customer experiences—both positive and negative—CX leaders can humanize the data and present compelling narratives that resonate with the C-Suite. This approach offers a direct link between CX efforts and real-world outcomes.

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

Lee's company adopted a "fail fast" philosophy, prioritizing early and honest communication with customers. By conveying potential challenges well in advance, they fostered greater customer trust and loyalty. One notable instance involved informing a customer that a product would be delayed, allowing them to adjust their plans accordingly. This transparent approach solidified a long-lasting relationship, highlighting the power of honesty and consistency.

What is the future of CX and CS?

While many discussions revolve around the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies in CX, Lee envisions a shift back to the basics. Amid the rapid technological advancements, Lee emphasizes the importance of focusing on fundamental principles—listening and acting on customer needs. He believes that effective CX doesn't have to be overly complex; rather, it involves influencing and leading the organization through challenges.

Lee encourages a balanced approach, suggesting that AI can enhance customer experiences, but the core solutions will remain predominantly human. To achieve impactful CX, businesses should remember the timeless values of honesty, consistency, and empathy in their interactions.

About Lee Kemp

lee kempA people-focused and results-driven leader in Customer Experience (CX), Operations, and Supply Chain, with over 20 years of leadership experience. Lee has developed and led successful, award-winning global CX programs and strategies for Fortune 500 companies, leveraging advanced analytics and innovation to drive truly best-in-class performance and customer experiences.

A US Army officer combat Veteran driven by the desire to make a meaningful impact through purposeful leadership and transformative ideas. Lee holds an MBA, MPA, and a bachelor’s degree from top-tier universities with additional certifications in Training Development, Change Management, and Lean practices.

If you're interested in learning more about Lee Kemp and his insights into the world of CX, you can connect with him on LinkedIn. He welcomes conversations with individuals and groups who seek guidance in navigating the complex yet rewarding realm of customer experience.

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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