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Driving Amazing Customer Experience

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To become a member of USAA you have to have a family member in the military, it was founded by military members. Dan’s dad was in the service. Dan LOVES to call them. They are great to deal with, they make it easy to do business with them. (Who loves to call their insurance agent?)

One call connects him to one person who takes care of everything he needs.

One time there was a hailstorm in his neighborhood that really did a lot of property damage. “The neighborhood was destroyed”. He called USAA and he felt so taken care of. His was the first house on the block to get fixed. I want that for our customers, vendors and employees. I want them to be as excited and pleased with us at every interaction as I am, when I call my insurance company.

So how does he as a company strive toward this?

Philosophies

First and foremost - the customer is at the center of everything we do on a macro and micro level.

Secondly – realize that everyone is a customer, from a business who buys our products and services, to the vendor or manufacture who lets us represent them to our employees and shareholders.

So our cloud team is relatively new to the organization. We purchased two companies a little over two years ago to develop a hybrid solutions platform called BlueSky that has gone live this year in our NA, LATAM and APAC regions. The team (developers, managers, designers, etc.) dedicated to this effort has grown to X. 

BlueSky is our “single pane of glass” or unifying bridge between our customers, employees and vendors that. It’s a transactional engine that allows us to offer channel-centric features that allows our customers to create and deliver hybrid solutions. (Ties back to keeping the customer at the center of everything we do.) We know we’re on track with providing customers what they need because we continually work with them at events, peer groups, pilot testing, surveys and polling methods.

If you think about the complexity of developing the engines that support BlueSky, plus the integration with our vendors’ APIs, plus integrating the data systems into SAP, globally…along with educating and training our employees and customers…in 7 different languages across 170 countries…Something simple in concept blossoms very quickly into a complex project.

So, how do we keep things simple?

Methodology

Our senior VP of strategy, Steve Garrou, recommended that we apply the Agile menthodology to our Cloud initatives. Agile is a methodology primarily used for software development. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this methodogloy, you can learn more about it here.

In short, Agile, takes a complex process, breaks it down into its main componenets or worksreams. Each workstream is given an leader and a team. This team is responsible for mapping out their milestones and objectives long term, and held accountable for reporting back to the leadership team in 4 – 6 week “sprints” on their progress towards these milestone.

This process, which is applied to all aspects of our cloud practice (platform development, marketing, web design, education/training, vendor relationships, etc.) opens up the lines of communications between the “feet on the street” and the executive team so resources and support can be provided quickly. This gives the teams a sense of progress and satisfaction because they have something to show for their efforts after every sprint.

Empowerment

We also encourage team members to manage their workstreams and projects as if it were their own business. They are empowered to make the decisions they believe are best for the cloud practice. This gives them ownership, flexibility and nimbleness to move forward past “red tape” that can sometimes exist in large organizations.

Open communication

We also realize that we need to be transparent about our work so people don’t wonder what the teams are doing behind the curtain. Internally we’ve launched bi-weekly communication plans that go to all employees updating them on our cloud practice progress, wins, accomplishments and development road map, globally via email, video and intranet updates. This gives everyone in the company access to the information they need, when they need it about what’s going on with the cloud practice.

We’ve leveraged SharePoint to create a cloud practice resource library.

Communicating with our customers and vendors

We regularly communicate with our customers and vendors with all forms of communication. Events, web sites, blogs, newsletters, email, webinar etc. Each region delivers the cloud practice message, updates and enablement programs they need to support their customers, all with the support and backing of a global team. All while never losing site that we need to be clear, concise and precise in our message at every level.

We have more to do here, as we do with the rest of the initiatives. I can say that by adopting these practices and methodology, we have come a long way in a very short time. We have strengthened our teams who now work toward common and shared goals.

Here are some of my favorite resources on keeping things simple and keeping the customer at the center.

https://hbr.org/2016/07/how-to-stop-people-who-bog-things-down-with-bureaucracy

The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda

https://www.virgin.com/entrepreneur/richard-branson-three-rules-of-simplicity-that-every-business-should-follow

I’d love to hear what you’re doing in your organization to simplify the complex and also hear how we’re doing.

Until next time…

Dan Connolly

SVP & General Manager, Cloud Practice at Westcon