CX5 Talks - An Interview with Nate Brown

I talked to Nate Brown, founder of  CX Accelerator about the intersection of CX and technology. Nate is a perpetual student of the world’s greatest experiences and the people who create them.

Nate currently serves as the Chief Experience Officer for Officium Labs and can be found at a variety of conferences speaking and training on the CX topics he loves.


Question 1:

Jarrod: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today Nate. With CX being new relatively speaking, there's a lot of talk about what companies should be doing. But I wonder, what CX myths out there do you see now? What have you seen the last few years that actually isn't a good idea or hasn't worked out?

Nate: One dangerous myth is the idea that hiring a CX leader makes you a more customer-centric organization. This is false.  In fact, if people project their responsibility of practicing great CX onto the new leader, things could get even worse! It's the job of the CX leader to get everyone else excited about and contributing to a larger experience strategy. This is why having a strong cross-functional CX change coalition is the best strategy of all!

Question 2:

Jarrod: Where do you see technology improving CX today and importantly, where do you see it hurting? Is it different on the agent and customer side?

Nate: The key word here is knowledge. Technology is helping to connect people with the knowledge they need much faster. This is the heart behind omnichannel, self-service, and even automation. When we give great knowledge to great technology, magic happens! When we give crappy knowledge to great technology, the result is still crappy. 

Technology is giving us a remarkable opportunity to do more than ever before in how we collect Voice of Customer information and how we give meaningful information back to our customers. When we combine a good knowledge management strategy with an advanced toolset you are likely to be way ahead of the CX curve.

Question 3:

Jarrod: How important are desktop tools and software for agents and how does that translate into overall customer experience?

Nate: I believe at the heart of this question also is knowledge. In order to facilitate a quick and accurate resolution, agents need immediate access to relevant information. It’s impossible to make this happen without advanced tools. Having the best technology is a great step, but even more important is the way the knowledge is curated and the tools are maintained.

The recent G2 “State of Software” report indicated that over 50% of employees indicate being unhappy at work because of the tools they are using. A recent 8X8 workforce productivity report showed that 49% of agents spend between 30 minutes and 2 hours each day trying to track down information. Just imagine the implications of this! People are wasting a tremendous amount of time and energy looking for information that should be readily accessible. This reality is having a very negative impact on both the agent and the customer experience. We can do better!

Question 4:

Jarrod: There's a lot of talk about being customer-centric but honestly, that's pretty vague and hard to measure. Especially in big organizations, that means it likely won't succeed. Can you give us some specific things a large business can measure to see where they stand?

Nate: It would seem that most companies truly want to be customer-centric.  The steps involved in getting there are just…well...painful. A metaphor that I’ve used to describe this process is viewing your company like a piece of real estate.  There is “the gate, the fence and the house.”  

Step one is for the leaders to clarify the culture they are working to create, and identify the specific behaviors and mentalities associated with this culture.  Now we are tenacious about only hiring people who match new reality. This is “the gate,” and the action is only letting people in who will to add to the new culture in a positive way.

“The fence” is a bit harder.  At this point, senior leadership is activity demonstrating and communicating the new culture.  They are activity reinforcing the behaviors and mentalities identified at every opportunity. Essentially, they are pushing employees off “the fence” and forcing a decision.  Either they jump into the new culture with both feet…or they make a decision to leave the residence. Both outcomes will bring you closer to a customer-centric culture, however this is a painful and extended transition.  Honestly most organizations do not the appetite for it long-term. This is why we see so many great culture initiatives that sadly burn-out.

“The house” is all about reinforcement and taking great care of your employees.  They have committed themselves to the culture, and are actively demonstrating the behaviors and mentalities correlated to great CX.  This hardly means our culture transformation is complete, however. Senior leaders must continue to be diligent in their reinforcement and prevent the inevitable “culture drift” that can happen so quickly.

This post breaks it down in much more detail:

Question 5:

Jarrod: This builds on the previous question. Some people wish that CX would be a C-level KPI. But for that to be true, there'd have to be an agreed upon method of measuring it. Do you think CX should be a C-level KPI and if so, what data should go into measuring it?

Nate: The short answer to that question is YES. We measure what matters. For CX to remain a strategic priority, it requires a strong KPI that is regularly reported on the executive level. There are two metrics that I believe work best for this purpose:

Customer Growth Engine: As proposed by Jeanne Bliss in Chief Customer Officer 2.0, the Customer Growth Engine provides a simple yet incredibly power view into the state of the customer. It is measured by calculating the total volume and value of your overall customer base for a given period of time, and showing the rate at which your true customer base is either expanding or declining. The magic question...have we earned the right to grow our customer base, yes or no? See more on this metric and others in “The Ultimate CX Primer.”

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): Especially in a business model where renewals are essential, there is nothing better for measuring CX than Customer Lifetime Value. This is a true depiction of both loyalty and share of wallet...which at the end of the day are the things that really matter.

One or both of these metrics will enable a CX leader to demonstrate the tremendous value associated with experience management.


Having spent the first decade of this career managing a complex technical support environment for Occupational Health and eLearning software, Nate transitioned to Customer Experience 2015.  He was dubbed the “CX Influencer of the Year” by CloudCherry in 2019, as well as being named a top CX thought leader by TruRating, Qminder, ProcedureFlow, LifeHelpNow, ICMI, and Exceeders. As a passion project, Nate recently created CX Accelerator, a first-class virtual community for Customer Experience professionals. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Share article:

More interesting articles