Christina Pletnewski, VP of customer experience at Safelite Group, will share how the company is moving from a traditional CX approach to a more agile strategy to drive superior customer engagement, satisfaction and memorable service in a keynote at the upcoming ICX Association Summit in June.
For more than 70 years Safelite Group has been providing vehicle glass repair and replacement services as well as fleet and insurance claims management services with a workforce of 16,000 in the U.S. A subsidiary of Belron, Safelite AutoGlass is the largest vehicle glass repair, replacement and recalibration services provider in the world.
It all began in 1947 with one store in Wichita, Kansas. Now the company operates more than 850 locations worldwide.
But being big and leading an industry doesn’t mean sitting on one’s laurels and accomplishments. It requires innovation and nimbleness and a constant focus on the customer, the customer’s experience and customer engagement.
It also requires eliminating the fear factor in a business transformation, according to Christina Pletnewski, vice president of customer experience at Safelite.
Pletnewski will share how Safellite is approaching that goal in a closing keynote at the upcoming Interactive Customer Experience Summit, hosted by Networld Media Group, being held June 1-3 at the Hilton Columbus at Easton in Ohio.
The annual event, hosted by Networld Media Group’s Interactive Customer Experience Association, is a three-day conference that provides a forum for B2C executives to share success stories and how they are utilizing interactive technologies to enhance the customer experience. The association’s mission is to connect the brands, suppliers, agencies and more who are working to create transcendent customer experiences.
Pletnewski’s keynote, “Removing the Fear Factor: Involving Customers in Your Business Transformation,” will offer takeaways on how to avoid the fear of moving away from traditional organization charts, tips on how to be innovative in meeting customer needs and insight on the best ways to listen and involve customers. Retail Customer Experience reached out to Pletnewski ahead of her presentation for a sneak peek at her presentation in an email interview.
Q. Let’s start with the role you have at Safelite as VP of customer experience. What are your responsibilities and how long have you been in the role?
A. I’ve been a part of the Safelite team for more than six years. I started with the company in 2016 as VP of marketing where I led our traditional media and brand creative strategy, brand research, B2B marketing, PR and communications and in-house creative team. At the outset of the pandemic, I was on a team to re-engineer the service experience and communications to keep our customers and associates safe. Little did I know that I had just positioned myself for an exciting new opportunity. In July 2020, Safelite made the decision to build a customer experience function to create end-to-end experiences that empower our customers and enable our associates. So, in July 2020 I accepted the position of VP, customer experience.
As a career marketer and consumer advocate at companies such as Abbott, Nestle and SC Johnson, the customer experience has always been shared between the brand, product and the retailer. At Safelite, we are in the position of owning the entire journey. This role has given me the opportunity to expand how I can help meet the customers’ needs in a brand right way, that benefits customers and our associates. The CX team at Safelite is designed to be the voice of the customer and a change agent within the organization, bringing end-to-end journey designs to implementation.
Q. The focus of your keynote is removing the fear factor and getting customers involved — what is that fear factor and why is it important to have the customer involvement?
A. The fear factor is finding out the truth about the experience you provide. Chances are good that your perception of your experience is higher than your customers’ perception. At Safelite, we have a very strong Net Promoter Score in the mid-80s and that can lead to over confidence and even complacency. It is human nature to want praise and good feedback. The second you invite your customer into a conversation with you, you are going to hear some hard facts about what is not working.
The fear factor is also knowing that you will have to do something about what customers tell you. And it probably won’t be easy to fix. You are going to have to redesign the experience, build a business case, enroll your operational partners and manage change.
As I mentioned, Safelite has pretty satisfied customers. So, to uncover pain points we have been on a journey to understand the voice of our lost customers. Specifically, customers who scheduled a service appointment and never had their work completed. Why did we lose these customers? Was it me or was it you?
There is only one group of people who can answer that question — your lost customers. And they are the only group of people that can truly design the experience they desire. Without customer involvement, we are simply shooting in the dark and talking to ourselves.
Q. The customer experience today is all about listening to customers and their needs and wants. Can you share some insight on some strategies you, in your role, and Safelite, as a company, have driven forward and the results?
A. These strategies may seem simple and obvious because they are. Putting them into practice is the hard part. When we created CX, we had two market researchers in the building, and they focused on brand equity, advertising and reporting on Net Promotor Score. Much of our customer learning was anecdotal in nature. We had done a simple journey map, but it wasn’t segmented by customer type or service type. I would characterize our research studies as primarily one and done.
Now our goal is to be always on with an insights engine that pulls data and insights from multiple sources and points of view. And even more importantly, to share our learning and work with other functions, to find themes with customer and business value that we agree to take action on together.
Q. From your perspective what are some common pitfalls/stumbles retailers face when driving CX strategies and the goal to be innovative?
A. I won’t place these pitfalls all on the shoulders of just retailers as it exists in other types of businesses too. I see three main pitfalls:
- Not understanding the associate experience as well as the customer experience. This means including the associates that actually deliver the experience in the design.
- Focusing on one touch point in the journey without understanding its implications on the end-to-end experience and how that could impact operations. It is the unexpected consequences that will get you.
- Talking to ourselves. We can love an idea, but if the customer doesn’t see its value, it does not matter.
About Networld Media Group
Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the tech, banking, retail and food service industries. Online properties include ATMmarketplace.com, DigitalSignageToday.com, FastCasual.com, KioskMarketplace.com, FoodTruckOperator.com, QSRweb.com, PizzaMarketplace.com, RetailCustomerExperience.com, VendingTimes.com and BiblicalLeadership.com. Annual events include the Fast Casual Executive Summit, the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit, the Bank Customer Experience Summit (BCX), the Interactive Customer Experience Summit (ICX) and the Self-Service Innovation Summit.