From “Product Guy” to “Customer Champion” — Transforming Myself & Lenovo
I have been a product guy for most of my professional life. My computer engineering degree, coupled with my MBA, were a natural fit for my role as a desktop PC product manager at IBM.
After spending several years in the desktop world, I graduated to the ThinkPad product group at Lenovo. You could say products — computers — are in my career DNA.
Since then, I’ve had to take my product-first outlook and adapt it to a new mission. As Lenovo’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, it’s now my role to help Lenovo know our customers and what matters to them. What are their needs and what problems are they trying to solve?
In the past, answering these questions were difficult. When I ran our ThinkPad product group and launched new ThinkPads, there wasn’t an easy way for me to know what people thought about our products. One of the only ways I could do this was talking to enterprise customers, a couple of months after a product launch, or reading press or industry reviews. It was a challenge for me to understand in real-time what our end users or customers thought.
Understanding how our customers feel
Thankfully, technology has enabled us to create our own tool to uncover customer insights — our customer insights dashboard. We built this dashboard by pulling data from hundreds of websites and leveraging text analytics to share a real-time voice-of-the-customer with not just the product teams, but with everyone within the organization.
I’ve had to take my product-first outlook and adapt it to a new mission.
Added to this rich customer data are our Product Ownership Survey results. Customers are quite open to sharing their feedback with us, and after inviting them, we receive thousandsof these completed surveys from customers every month.
For me, and the whole organization, the ability to access so many customer voices is a refreshing change from the past. We can immediately read, see, or hear what our customers want to tell us about our products.
Once you’re able to really listen to customers, you broaden your perspective. Our customer insights dashboard has helped us understand how we make customers feel. Our customer voices come from many touchpoints — our products, our website, or interactions through our support channels.
Transforming into a Customer-Centric Organization
Access to greater information brings greater responsibility. If we now have timely customer insights, the challenge for us is to be customer-centric in everything we do.
Our teams are now starting to look at the entire journey a customer has with Lenovo instead of a single product touchpoint.
To help us be customer-centric, we developed a ‘culture cascade’ to help the insights from our dashboard flow through every team, department, and thus the organization. As part of the cascade, we reached out to every executive, every manager, and every employee, and invited them to share in the customer-centric journey.
We asked every employee to identify a customer-related key performance indicator (KPI) and every executive to determine at least two KPIs centered on customer experience (CX). What can I do in my role to create a great customer experience? A great question to encourage our people to have a personal stake in our customers’ experiences with us.
To add meaningful context to CX, we’re also working to include these 3 core CX tenets, from Forrester Research, Inc. into our daily work lives:
Creating Effortless Experiences
Our products, near and dear to my heart, are just the tip of the iceberg. In my role as Chief Customer Experience Officer, I’m aiming to continually improve the overall experience customers have with us.
To do this, it’s important to look across all interactions our customers have with us. Our teams are now starting to look at the entire journey a customer has with Lenovo instead of a single product touchpoint.
More specifically, each step in the customer journey is an opportunity for us to make a customer’s life easier.
Make selection easy: Make it easy for customers to select what they need (our web experience). Always try to optimize our website and improve the web experience for customers. At Lenovo, we use several tools to understand our customers’ experience — site intercepts, surveys, usability studies, competitive benchmarking and more. Using this feedback, we recently launched a brand new homepage and navigation experience to make it easier for customers to find Lenovo products and information.
Make purchasing easy: Either through the web or a retailer to see the product in store. If a customer wants to talk to us on the phone, make this easy also. Availability plays a big part in this too. Thanks to customer feedback, we learned that we needed to improve our shopping cart and check-out experience on mobile devices. We’ve recently made these changes, which will be available to customers starting October.
Make tech support easy: Easy to find (on forums, on our website, or finding the number to call) in the channel you want to support and getting the resolution in a timely manner. For example, customers can either choose to call us or now get the same level of service via our Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/LenovoSupport/) and Twitter channels (https://twitter.com/LenovoSupport). We encourage customers to follow us on these channels not only to get support but also learn more about existing tips and tricks to get the most out of their products.
People lead busy lives and we don’t want to complicate them any further. We always need to be empathetic to this. Simplicity is what works for customers. The success in the marketplace of easy-to-use devices like the Chromebook is proof of this.
The standard for what great customer experience looks like has been redefined by ‘born-on-the-internet’ companies like Amazon and Airbnb. The PC industry is sprinting to catch up, but we now have the insights to help us transform our company culture to one aligned with our customers.
We need to balance building high-quality products with the entire customer journey. Our success will be defined by a successful customer journey.
We strive to focus on the important questions:
- Did we deliver a solution that met their needs?
- Did we make it easy and effortless to do business with us?
- How did we make them feel throughout the ENTIRE customer journey?
The Journey Has Just Begun
When I was a product manager, I had a burning question — what do people think about our products? Now that I know what our customers think, my focus is on our collective transformation journey.
The road from a product guy to Chief Customer Experience Officer has been a surprise. I’ve discovered it’s all about a greater purpose. It’s truly about taking the product out of the center of our decisions and moving the customer into the center of all our decisions.
About the Author
Dilip Bhatia is Lenovo’s Vice President of Global Marketing, User & Customer Experience, PC & Smart Devices. As Lenovo’s Chief Customer Officer, Dilip drives the company to achieve its goal of being the leader in the PC, smart device, data center and mobility space. Start a conversation with him here, or on LinkedIn and Twitter.