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CX Leaders Q&A – How to Drive Change Within Your Organization


Brands require innovative customer service teams to meet rising customer expectations and adapt to changing business demands. CX leaders play a crucial role in fostering a culture of change by advocating for customer-centric approaches that drive innovation.

In a recent panel at Gladly Connect Live 2024, three CX trailblazers from Samsonite, Holly Hunt, and Condé Nast sat down to speak about how they used Gladly to drive change in their industries and challenge the status quo within their organizations. Read on to learn how they recognized the need for change and their effective strategies for initiating these conversations.

How Samsonite’s Stephanie Kalch Is Using Data to Drive Change

Stephanie Kalch, Senior Director of Customer Service at Samsonite, recognized that there needed to be a change when the Samsonite brand expanded. “When we started acquiring different travel goods brands, we noticed that the overall consumer journey and brand experience was really hard to control in a BPO environment,” says Stephanie, citing why they brought their call center in-house.

“So we used the first couple of years with Gladly support to build a call center from scratch. We wanted to make a brand-specific experience, in-house with our own people.”

Internal disparate systems also highlighted a need for consolidation. “The website, order management — everything had multiple systems doing different pieces, and nothing was connected,” explained Stephanie. “So, over the last two years, I’ve used the data we’ve collected to really push the point with finance and IT and senior leadership that we can do more with less if you have fewer keystrokes.”

Stephanie knew she needed concrete data rather than subjective opinions to advocate for their systems to align and connect to improve the overall agent experience. “The average team has three to five systems to serve one consumer. I took time to know my systems and am now working with IT to link our internal systems behind the scenes so we can then decide as a CX org what systems we want them to use for what. Phase two will be putting all that data into Gladly because I want that to be the one source of truth.”

“We use data to educate other business units and give other teams an understanding of the actual customer experience,” says Stephanie, crediting Gladly Reporting as a huge help with this endeavor. “The Gladly exporting tool has helped us build custom reports. Gladly has been critical to helping us understand the data; hundreds of data points [can get] overwhelming, but the dashboard and analyzer have bridged the gap here and helped us understand and take action on them. We went from lacking data with BPOs to a ton of raw data to Gladly making sense of that data for us.”

“[That’s important, because] every team has their own perspective,” says Stephanie. “You need the data to tell the story. So much of customer service is people’s perceptions of what’s happening with your brand. Tailor your stories to different stakeholders using data — ‘we can impact xyz this way’ — it’s so important having the data rather than opinions.”

As for Stephanie’s final advice for establishing yourself as a CX changemaker within your organization?

“Know your systems and advocate for your teams. Don’t assume because you have it, it works or can’t be consolidated or used better. Poke holes and streamline as much as possible.”

Key Takeaways from Samsonite

  • Use data to advocate: Utilize concrete data to advocate for system alignment and connectivity, emphasizing the impact on agent experience and customer satisfaction.
  • Educate stakeholders: Use data to educate other business units and stakeholders about the customer experience, tailoring stories to highlight potential impacts and advocating for necessary changes.
  • Know systems and advocate: Understand internal systems thoroughly and advocate for team needs, leveraging data to drive change and streamline processes.

Suggested learning: Data and Artificial Intelligence

Holly Hunt’s Leslie Nelson Believes That Change Begins With Understanding Company Culture

Leslie Nelson, Senior Director of Digital Experience at Holly Hunt, was initially hired as a consultant to help with their digital transformation during the pandemic. “Business was heavily analog — luxury home furnishings is mostly an analog business — and the president came in and wanted change,” explains Leslie. “So what was great for me was having leadership support; it came from the top.”

However, as needs changed, Leslie recognized that CX strategies had to change, too. “What’s interesting is that we’re at that inflection point — having stood up ecommerce and proven omnichannel support channels, how do we use what we’ve learned to actually change service for the big challenge at large? How do we deliver a better client experience, pre-sale and post-sale, through all channels, not just digital?”

“Our first choice and easiest choice the organization made was to go with Gladly…Gladly came up as the only platform that put the client at the center. It was a no-brainer that this was the platform that would allow us to execute on our brand strategy for service. It’s all the other things that have been challenging.”

When asked what advice Leslie would give leaders to get the ball rolling on driving organizational change, she joked, “Lots of bourbon. But really, it’s going out and getting buy-in, one person at a time. Build that one-to-one relationship. Will you support this and stand with me? Will you make this happen? What’s the common ground, and how do we build out the case together so it’s beneficial to everyone?”

“There are always competing wants and needs in a business. For me at Holly Hunt, it’s driving more of a culture change than anything else, [especially] working with heritage brands. It takes time to plant the seed for change and then let that bloom. There’s no one way of approaching it, which is very important to understand. There are lots of ways to implement change. Understanding the culture of your organization is key. And figure out your tactical plan, what will get you from A to B.”

Key Takeaways from Holly Hunt

  • Focus on leadership buy-in: Recognize the importance of leadership backing for successful digital transformation initiatives, especially in traditionally analog industries, and start to build those relationships, and plant those seeds now.
  • Build relationships to gain alignment: Secure buy-in for initiatives by fostering one-to-one relationships and finding common ground with colleagues, even without top-down support.
  • Commit to the long haul of change: Drive culture change within organizations, understanding the importance of adapting strategies to fit the unique culture and heritage of the business.

Suggested learning: Introduction to Change Management

How Condé Nast’s Mike Beaubrun Is Selling the Vision of Customer Experience

Mike Beaubrun, Director and Global Head of Customer Experience at Condé Nast, admits that his turning point for driving CX change was relatively easy. “Condé Nast is a 115-year-old business — our claim to fame is print media. The directive for change came from the top.”

However, coming from a legacy system, the steps to revitalize customer experiences weren’t easy. “One of the first things I did was sit down with customer agents to see how things are going,” says Mike. “It was evident that we didn’t have the infrastructure to support this digital transformation — agents worked out of seven different tools. My question was, how do I bring all of this into a single UI to give a 360-view of the customer? So, tech became a focus.”

Gladly was Mike’s first choice and first foray into a digital transformation, as it helped the company fulfill their vision for a 360-customer view. “I also hate tickets as a consumer and agent, so the Conversation Timeline was a huge selling point for me.”

To get buy-in for a new CX solution, Mike had to go through multiple stakeholders and craft different stories and selling points based on the teams’ wants and needs. “I work with everyone — retention, marketing, product — so CX is cross-functional at our business, and we have to work hand-in-hand. Those teams are hyper-focused on their OKRs, but it’s all about really selling the vision around customer experience to them. Emphasize that this is what we’re all building toward, so how can we remove the friction points for the consumer? It’s not just about CX; it’s the entire lifecycle.”

“You have to be able to build bridges and know the different aspects of the business,” insists Mike. “What’s important to me is not for them — it’s about speaking their language and talking about what resonates with them. Multiple voices amplify the message that we need change, and you’re not the only one singing the song. Which means a lot less bourbon.”

Key Takeaways from Condé Nast

  • Start slow and build your way up: “Another thing unique to us is the complexity of having so many brands under one parent company,” says Mike. “My goal is to create a cohesive experience [with Gladly] so that it’s the same across the board. Despite the team, you should all be working toward the same vision and then marry your strategies into one experience.”
  • Assess your infrastructure: Evaluate existing infrastructure to identify gaps and prioritize tech solutions that provide a comprehensive customer view.
  • Befriend other departments: Collaborate across teams to gain buy-in for CX solutions, tailoring messages to resonate with each stakeholder’s priorities and language.

Suggested reading: How To Get Leadership Buy-In for Customer Service

Schedule a demo with Gladly today to explore how we can empower you to drive organizational change and position you as a CX trailblazer.

And be sure to join the Gladly Connect community to network with fellow CX leaders, stay informed about industry trends, and unlock access to exclusive events, learning materials, and mentorship opportunities.

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