Having recently started a new role working with his Vice President, Whitney Reynolds, focusing on Customer Experience Matt Boretti, Director, Strategic Programs, Teleflex, was a prime candidate to take part in the day-long stream on the topic at the forthcoming Field Service Medical conference held this year in La Holla, California.
We spoke exclusively with Boretti ahead of the event to find out more about what he would be covering off in his presentation and why CX has become such an important area both in his organisation Teleflex and also within the broader medical sector.
"The customer experience group is a relatively new initiative in our organisation" begins Boretti.
"We've done extremely well financially across the last number of years, which has been primarily fuelled by a growth strategy that has been based on acquisition. As I'm reading and learning more around customer experience, I've come to understand that it is not unusual for companies that are in a heavy acquisition mode tend to not have the ASCI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) scores, so we were probably not unusual in that regard."
"Our President of the Americas, Jay White, recognised this and I believe he was hearing from a number of our customer's if I didn't have to buy from Teleflex I wouldn't - I think that was a pivotal moment for him where he realised we need to do something different. In other words, what got us to this point where we are at now, is not going to get us towards where we want to go next."
With White identifying the importance of service to his organisation's aspirations, he pushed the topic and gained buy-in from his fellow senior execs with the result being Boretti and Reynolds heading up the newly formed Customer Experience group back in August last year.
As one would expect just six months in it has been a phenomenally busy period for the two, but perhaps crucially they have gone into the task with a solid understanding of what needs to be achieved and a well thought out roadmap of how they are going to get there.
"When we initially took this on we realised that we're not experts in this!" Boretti admits humbly. "So the first thing we did was we started to read a lot, and we also identified some organisations that had helped companies like us with similar projects such as this - which is change management at the core."
"We whittled a list of ten initial companies down to three who came to us to present their ideas. Then we finally chose a company called Strativity, who had worked with companies like Delta and Mercedes Benz, and they've established a straightforward process that was easy to understand so we could visualise how we should fit into that."
"The first step of the process for us was alignment, and in many ways, Jay [White] had already started that process via some of the socialisations he had done with the leadership group. However, there was still a lot of details to be established, so I think they were onboard, but they didn't exactly what they were signing up for. Therefore our first objective was to get everyone up to speed on what we would be undertaking here."
With this objective set, the first move was to hold a management alignment meeting to make sure all essential personnel were on the same page. However, it soon became apparent to Boretti that the path they were heading on wasn't going to be one of simple linear progression.
"What really struck me in that first meeting was that alignment is not just a phase that we will move out of. We will probably move from alignment into discovery, then back to alignment then into design and then back to alignment and so on. It really does need to be a journey of continuous improvement and refinement."
Of course, while as Boretti asserts alignment needs to be a continuously reviewed aspect that is returned to and evaluated through any process that will fundamentally shift a corporate culture, such as bringing customer experience to the fore, another vitally constant aspect that needs a concerted focus is on communication.
"We started doing a lot of communication from very early on," explains Boretti. "People would ask me what I was doing exactly, and I would say there are three things that we are doing. Great things are happening in the organisation that Whitney [Reynolds] and I had nothing to do with that were improving the customer experience, so the first thing we are doing is highlighting those great things and making sure people are aware of the good things that are already happening in the organisation."
"The second aspect was that we started to understand in the different functional areas of the business units where we wanted to make improvements for the customer experience but that were not easy and had obstacles in place - whether they be processes, people or systems. We wanted to gain an understanding of those which would be important to our group and help remove some of those obstacles so we could accelerate some of those."
"Then the last piece was the transformation itself. We knew that we had to change the mindset and to some extent our culture regarding how we view our customers and how we view ourselves servicing those customers - ultimately that is what we see as the long-term aim for the CX group."
Fortune favours the brave
For even the most seasoned service and change management professionals identifying the core areas of focus, building out a strategy and then beginning to implement that plan would be viewed as a reasonable return for an initial six months of hard work. However, Reynolds realised that they had the wind in their sails and in October tasked Boretti with holding a Customer Experience Week in December.
It was a bold move, for while it presented an opportunity to really drive home the awareness the for how the company was evolving concerning its customer focus, it would mean a lot of hard work to bring it together within less than two months. If the delivery of such an event is executed well, it can potentially have an adverse effect amongst the workforce. It was a definite sign of trust in Boretti and the CX group as well as the viability of what they were trying to achieve.
Fortunately, that faith was repaid, and they not only pulled it off but in doing so have been really able to accelerate their program so far. So what exactly did they include in their inaugural Customer Experience Week?
"There were three parts to customer experience week," explains Boretti. "Firstly we introduced an off the shelf training package from Miller-Heimann called Building Customer Loyalty where so we brought some of our trainers together who run leadership training internally and then trained the trainers, based on that course."
"We also brought in our customers into give presentations as well. It was interesting because when I first suggested this, a few people asked 'can we do that?' But this was a customer experience week so for me; it was essential that the customers were involved."
"With the customer presentations, we basically asked them to tell us three things when they came in. We wanted them to tell us what they expect from a medical device company, how they viewed our partnership and to tell us what we were doing well and then to tell us where we were falling short, what do we need to do differently, what do we need to do better."
"The final thing that we did was what we called departmental sharing. The thinking is that we everyone in the organisation either directly impacts the customer experience or enable the customer experience. We gave everyone a passport, and they were asked to go around the office, and they would get a sticker on the passport, and they would put the passport in Dropbox when they were done to enter a draw."
"Out of around 550 people within the office we had about 250 that participated in that event and another 200 involved in the training and about 150 that attended the customer presentation - so we really did manage to touch all of the office, and the reception was really positive."
Next step on the journey
So with a whirlwind six months plus and a highly successful Customer Experience week behind them already what is the next step on the change management journey for Boretti and his CX group within Teleflex?
"The real benefit for us from undertaking the CX Week is that we're now going to be producing a Customer Experience guide which we will be looking at in the June/July timeframe. What the event allowed us to do was identify what worked well, what didn't work well and what would we do differently."
"So we really have a strong baseline now for when we launch at full throttle in mid this year. Also, to come back to the point about alignment being a content area of focus for us, it helped us in terms of making sure the whole team could have some visibility into exactly what we are doing and why."
In many senses what the team at Teleflex are trying to achieve is not necessarily something new, customer-centricity and adopting an outside-in perspective of the business is a fundamental concept amongst companies with high CSAT scores. However, as Boretti raised above it is also an area that many companies, especially those that have grown through acquisition and therefore have multiple cultures embedded within them, struggle to master.
From speaking with Boretti though it certainly seems that Teleflex is adopting a sensible approach to establishing a central culture that has Customer Experience at its heart - something that will stand them in good stead for many years to come.
Want to know more? Why not join Matt and as well as the Field Service News team in La Jolla for field service medical in Feb 26th to 28th. Field Service News subscribers have an exclusive 25% discount for this event and if you are a field service practitioner then you may qualify for a complimentary industry subscription
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