A Chat with Leah Groos: The Anatomy of a CX Leader

“We’re all responsible for the customer experience, every single person that works with the company.”

Leah Groos is the VP of Customer Experience at Starship. This growing NYC company is described as “the modern, mobile health savings account.” Leah offered great insights into the role of a modern CX leader.

“We’re all responsible for the customer experience, every single person that works with the company.”

Introducing the Modern CX Leader

Leah reminded me that the customer experience executive, or CXO, hasn’t been around for very long. Not until very recently have CX leaders secured a place at the executive table. This opens up company-wide, collaborative discussions about the customer and the why behind products. 

“The emergence of social media and how customers kind of have a megaphone all the time has forced companies to really take the voice of the customer and integrate it into their products,” said Leah. 

To ensure the voice of the customer is heard, the CX leader is responsible for assembling a good team. 

“I think it does start with the people that you hire and really focusing on building a team that is going to come in with a kind of natural skill set of customer-centricity.” Leah has first-hand experience with this process. She selects for empathetic new team members who are good listeners. She also zeroes in on drive and genuine interest in the industry and product. 

It’s not enough to have a great customer experience team. The intel collected by this group must be shared across the company and folded into the product life cycle. Leah also reminds us that another important role of the CX leader is to consider the agent experience. 

“If agents don’t have the right tools, if they’re not empowered and given a toolset that makes it super easy for them to follow up across channels and do their job, it’s going to be very frustrating.”

Communication: As Important as Ever

Leah has certain tools that she likes and a tech stack she’s used in the past, but she doesn’t come into a new company and say, “Yep, this is everything we’re going to do. I’m just going to bring everything I did before and do the same thing here.” That just doesn’t work.

Lead advised CX leaders to evaluate the company’s product and target customers in order to decide which communication channels to use at the beginning. You can’t start with every single channel because if you can’t deliver on everything well, chances are you’ll end up with unhappy customers.

The one channel she hasn’t tried yet is SMS. 

“I have not had the opportunity to really build a strong process around SMS, and in my mind, it’s probably one of the greatest ways of communicating with people these days.” Lean ignores most push notifications while she still notices text messages. Finding the right way to bring this new tool to her team is an exciting future challenge.

Bringing People and Technology Together

When the time comes to add a new CX tech tool, there isn’t a set list of evaluation criteria. 

“I wish I had a magic formula, but I don’t. I like to experiment. I like to use the data.” 

Leah has always paid close attention to the words being used in support interactions, where traffic comes from, age and location demographics, and even the kinds of devices people are using. These types of insights help CX leaders understand what might bring customers joy. 

When selecting a new CX tool, Leah prioritizes longevity.

“Is this tool going to serve us for the next five to ten years, or are we going to have to switch again in the next two years?” she typically asks her team. 

After all, it’s up to the CX leader to oversee the implementation of new technology. Leah encouraged teams to consider how the new tool would contribute to a customer-friendly omnichannel experience. This means finding ways to integrate into the product and meshing with engineering and product departments.

Remember the Team

The next step in new tool implementation is training and supporting employees. Leah brings team members along with her during this process. 

“A lot of the time, I will work with the team and somebody else will take the lead,” she explained. ”We share the burden of making sure the whole team is trained up, and as new people come on board, I have the team actually train them.”

A strong CX team will keep on learning by teaching each other, Lead said, and that is a great culture to foster and maintain.

Never Stop Learning

As a CX leader, you must constantly be learning, Leah insisted. CX leaders should try to understand human behavior and psychology as best as possible. For instance, thinking about different personality types is helpful when building teams that are going to be happy and productive. 

Leah has always encouraged her team to “fail forward.” This means getting out of one’s comfort zone, constantly learning, and drawing inspiration from unrelated things. 

Closing Notes

Talking to Leah painted a vivid picture of the responsibilities and challenges of a modern CX leader. She also offered her take on the Airkit platform: 

“One of the reasons I do like Airkit is you are truly mobile-first. You’re looking at a way of implementing a traditional kind of support process or customer interaction and now enabling it to go through seamless channels that are already in the palm of our hands.” 

See Airkit in action here.

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