Sue Duris – in her own words is “customer-obsessed”! She is a renowned customer experience expert, currently serving as the Director of Customer Experience and Marketing at M4 Communications, Inc., Palo Alto, CA. Sue has varied interests and this is evident in her work. On one hand, she leverages her two biggest passions – technology and customer experience – to aid tech startups to grow and differentiate through customer experience excellence. On the other, Sue also serves as an advisor to nonprofits such as Golden Gate Opera. That she is Entrepreneur in Residence at UCI Applied Innovation is a testimony to the fact that she is truly vested in the success of startups.
In her career spanning over 20 years, she has played diverse roles. Apart from being an insightful customer experience strategist, she has served as the VP of Marketing and Director of Marketing in various startups across geographies. She has also successfully led customer experience, content, brand, and product strategies across various B2B organizations. Sue is an engaging speaker and a distinguished writer who contributes to multiple online forums and publications. Employee engagement, customer journey mapping, omnichannel customer experience, win/loss analysis, and customer success are a few of her many areas of expertise.
It was an honor to interview Sue and get her perspicacious responses to the following questions.
What role has Customer Experience (CX) played in the journey of your company?
It has meant everything. It’s the axis on which our company revolves and evolves.
In your journey so far, which is the one CX initiative you had pioneered that you are proud of the most?
You hear things like Total Quality Management (TQM) and then Fred Reichheld’s ‘The Loyalty Effect’ paving the way for customer experience. However, for me, it was things like solution sales and Win/Loss Analysis. Win/Loss Analysis was significant, especially, because that was the first way to get feedback on what you were doing or not doing well to make things better for customers.
Generally, teams are always caught up in initiatives that are already planned. In this endeavor to meet the existing KRAs, initiatives that could actually create a positive CX get missed out. How would you handle such a situation and align the team towards the CX goal?
I think we get caught up in this perception that we have to make big changes to make an impact. I argue the opposite – you only have to make a one-degree shift to impact your life and the lives of your customers. For example, a smile at a store, adding one sentence – Thank you for your business – at the bottom of your invoices, calling a customer a day to get their feedback, are small gestures that have HUGE results. By means of such small actions, customers see you care and they’ll turn around and care about you.
What is your vision around CX at your company? How do you see it evolving in the next couple of years?
We’re a big believer that customer experience is the key brand differentiator. It’s going to drive everything. It will be the difference between a sustainable brand and a has-been. When we look at our CX vision, we want to laser-focus in on the outcomes our customers want to have and the emotions they want to have in obtaining them, offer the best consistent experience we can to meet customers’ expectations, and align all of this across the organization and to our brand values and promise. We also know that CX can’t go anywhere without engaged employees, so we really invest a lot to ensure a good employee experience.
What is your word of advice for businesses embarking on the journey of customer-centricity?
Never lose sight of the customers. Always be focusing on meeting their needs and expectations.
Follow Sue Duris on Twitter Follow @SueDuris
Image courtesy: Bram Vanhaeren – HypeBea
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