CX Success Stories – Carter Machinery

Bryan Gregory, Leader, Customer Experience, discusses how they are making CX a cornerstone of the culture at Carter Machinery.

 

Transcript:

Lynn Daniel:
Today I’m with Brian Gregory, who is the CX director for Carter machinery caterpillar dealer based in Salem, Virginia. So, Brian, thanks a lot. I really appreciate your time. And why don’t we start by just telling us a little bit about about Carter and what, and your role at Carter.

Bryan Gregory:
Well, thank you, Lynn. We love working with you guys and your team and appreciate every minute we get to spend with you, but thanks for allowing me to join. It, it is a super exciting time, which is he is probably somewhat of a vanillas qualifying statement about CX there’s. A lot of people who care about customer experiences, a lot of people who are passionate about it, one of the things that we’ve been afforded, the opportunity to do to have here at Carter is to really reinject the voice of our customers and that data that you guys so brilliantly provide, inject that back into the organization and, and get traction with it. And, and not just to use it for teeth, but to use it for hugs and handshakes. And it it’s really fun because we get to literally bring the customer back to life right down at the front lines that, that matter most. And we’ve got great executive support. We’ve got great frontline field support. So we’re thoroughly enjoying ourselves at the moment.

Lynn Daniel:
When you say, bring that customer back to life. Tell me, tell me a little bit more about that, Brian. That’s an interesting turn of phrase.

Bryan Gregory:
Yes. And, and, you know, every, there’s a customer journey for every customer we have and that, that journey can be several things. It can be pretty simple, it can be complex, but then we serve them. You know, we fix their machine, we sell them their part. We sell them the machine, we serve them. And then in many cases, that’s where things can end or at least slow way down. And so with, with the tools and, and kind of the muscle that you guys have built in capturing that experience, they just had in a timely manner shortly after the action or, or what the interaction we can then turn that back around right into the organization. And it’s not the CX champions waving their hands and shaking their fists saying, Hey, store number 22, you messed up. It’s not that it’s taken the realities and the context of what the customer’s giving us and then sharing it back in an appropriate way. And sometimes it’s constructive criticism. Sometimes it’s an urgent need. We got to fix many times. It’s a compliment where the customer says you did this really well. And, and that’s the beautiful thing about being kind of in the DNA here at Carter is, is it’s very important for us. Two of us in CX to know the business really, really well. So as we understand the context of what the customer’s giving us, we can make that fit in a very small digestible way back to a store manager at the front line. And then, and when, you know, you think about how shop supervisors are using good job reports in their morning meetings, you know, letting their technicians know here’s what the customer just said about Larry. They loved him, Larry Good job. All of a sudden it gets real in that moment. And that that affords you then the opportunity when you’ve got not so good news to share, everybody responds equally, equally passionately because they understand it’s fair.

Lynn Daniel:
Now. you’ve, you’ve clearly come a long way in your journey. It’s a forever journey. We all know cause customers are forever changing. Organizations are forever changing. What have been some of the more significant barriers that you’ve had to overcome to get to, to where you are? What, what, what were those things that really tripped you up job?

Bryan Gregory:
Great question. First of all, happy to report there weren’t too many of them, but the, the walls we did have to climb were steep in some cases. And probably the number one thing. When you think about Carter machinery, 95 year old dealership been doing this a long time. One of the reasons I came here three years ago is it was blatantly obvious to me, this company cares about its customers. So that was an easy fit for who I was and what I want to bring to work every day. The same is true for many people across Carter. So therefore one of the difficult changes in taking CX to the next level is to get people, to knock down those walls and say, okay, let’s do even more. Because what I saw was people saying, look, you know, we’re running the scramble drill to take care of the customer. And what we’re trying to bring to this is some level of optimization and how do we scale, you know, great CX, not just at one or two or 10 stores, but at all 29. So a significant barrier was getting people to think of CX, not the way it had always been. And it had been done, which was simply fix the phone calls that we got on the surveys, call those people up, do damage, control the end. And so to think about it completely proactively of look, we’re going to design processes and systems and budgets and everything else to drive the CX. Our customers deserve that’s a big pendulum swing. And that, that was a big one. You know, getting another element would be in the, in the world of CI. So Carter machineries had a continuous improvement team for six or seven years, and they’ve taken on many, many projects and many of those projects cross over directly into a customer experience or two or three. And so I, figured out pretty early on don’t offend the CI people, right? Because they’ve been hard at work trying to figure this stuff out. And, and now all of a sudden we’re showing up saying, Hey, that’s good, but look what the customers saying about it. And in some cases it required a little bit of optimization or change on a CI initiative. So learning the politics of handling, you know, working congruently with CI not being another dimension that was a little bit of a trick, but I’m happy to report we’re in a good spot.

Lynn Daniel:
That’s interesting. You mentioned that because one of the things I say to clients is if you’re going to do CX, you need to do CI and you, your dimension to this was okay. You can take CI a little too far on occasions. If the customer likes it. Great. If not, then you got an issue. So, but I, I do think CI helps to juice up your CX efforts

Bryan Gregory:
For sure. And, and one of the first things I did as a, as an offering to the CI team in that space, cuz we got a bunch of smart people over there. And so one of the first things I did is said, you guys need to have access to the Daniel group data. You guys need to, as part of your project management as a key input, here’s where the customer’s voice is. Go get it and use it. And, and it’s not, it’s not my opinion. I’m not going to arm wrestle with you. I want you to hear it as an input. And they appreciated that because they’re great project managers and they understand the value of inputs. And so now, now we’re working together pretty darn well, but that, that was a, that was a barrier for a little bit.

Lynn Daniel:
Good. any “aha’s” as you’ve gone through this process, any sort of big “aha’s” that you’ve seen, understood and say, well, wow, that’s interesting.

Bryan Gregory:
You know, I was process, I was proofread your questions there and processing well, how would I answer that? Probably the first answer to “aha’s” would be I think this was more of an expectation than it was in aha, but I am very delighted. It worked out this way and that is as I began to listen to actual recordings of the surveys that the Daniel group team does on behalf of Carter, when I would hear those surveys, of course, I hear the emotion in the, in the voice of the customer and having grown up in television and media, the first part of my career for many years and days, that was my job is to stimulate that emotion and bring it out in whatever medium I was working in. And so I knew it was there, but I didn’t know. And, and I knew I should share it with the organization, with the right leaders at the right time when it’s the right subject. But I didn’t know what the reaction would be. I didn’t know if they would go, oh yes, I don’t have time to sit and listen, do a call. And that call was eight minutes. You want me to spend eight minutes on that? Or how would, how they’d receive it. And man, I saw, I, I saw everything from people shift in their seats like, oh boy, oh boy, you know, hit pause pretty soon, Gregory all the way through, you know, the president of the company saying, can you play that again? You know, in a room full of leaders because that’s how powerful the actual voice of the customer is. And so some people may just take for granted, that’s part of the partnership with the Daniel group is they give you the verbatim and then they give you the recording. But really they give you the result. What I see is a lot of dealers just acting on the result and skipping that media part and which is the emotional inventory that, that comes with it. And that’s how we’ve been able to, you know, change things. I think so quickly is on Carter TV all over the dealership at all stores you’re seeing and hearing from customers every day, a hundred times a day. And so that was a, a delightful, somewhat of an aha you know, moment. The, the second, maybe the only other one that’s probably worth scoring and counting here is when I was asked to move from my original role of marketing strategy leader for Carter, which involved a lot of things like where are we taking the business in five years? You know, frontline work with drew Parker and the team and, and then pick up CX and kind of reinvent it. And reorchestrate it. I said, you know, I’m not doing this alone. You know, the guy who was doing this before was, was alone, is a seasoned veteran of 30 some years, you know, at Carter. And I saw the want to, but he was, he was one guy and there’s only so much you could do. And so my pushback or challenge to Carter was look, if, if you’re going to light my fire and say, go get CX and you’re as serious about it as I think you are. And I’m as serious about it as I think is, I want you to know, I am, I need a Robin, like, you know, if you’re asking for Batman, you got to have a Robin. And, and so it’s going to be at least two of us and we need to have the freedom to grow, you know, that capability. And they said, okay. And so I’m fortunate, you know, brought a rockstar, Camille, who was on my marketing strategy team over. And that was a little bit of a, a aha moment that they said, okay, go get it. And it’s been licensed to, to win ever since

Lynn Daniel:
Lastly, Brian outcomes or measurable benefits that you’ve seen so far from your CX efforts, and maybe as you think about the future, what would you like to see happen? Outcome wise?

Bryan Gregory:
Yes, I, I love this question and I’ll probably ramble on too long. You have to edit a bunch of it, but I love the question. I would say right now, we’re probably at a 60, 40 60 40 ratio in terms of outcomes, 60% internal think E ex and I’ll come back to that 40% external. And it, that will continue to tilt. I, I, frankly, I hope it stays in a range of 50, 50, maybe 70, 30 over time. But internally has been the biggest benefit because you create the awareness with a score, which earns you the right to have a conversation and then play a clip from a customer, good, bad sideways, whatever it is now, you’ve got credibility and trust. Now, 29 store managers out there know there’s at least two people in CX and probably their bosses and the boss’s boss that want them to be successful. And they’re going to try to have a key input, be that voice of the customer that changes their employee experience because they trust Carter a little more. They trust their leader a little more, they feel a little more supported and confident in decisions they’re making. So that’s been a huge, huge outcome that continues to spill daily, you know, and these CX autos are just super powerful. Maybe 30, 40% of the outcomes have been customer facing where we were either, either able to go manifest change based on a theme we saw with customers or even down to a store level, you know, fix something that was repeatedly broken parts business, nobody answering the phone at a single store that kind of stuff. So plenty of it has shown up for the customer in a very positive way. But right now the, the big movement is internally. We’re creating a culture of CX and then kind of the final exclamation point on that. We’re in the process for the next 18 months or rolling out a whole new dealer management system. That entire system is being designed and built by Jeff Bowman and his immediate team. I’m one of his direct reports. So is the transformation team, blah, blah, blah. We are all working together that at the center and the peripherals is CX. So are we in the customer journey when it begins at a trigger stage? What’s the CX beginning, then all the way through the middle CX centric, every single system, every single inner key that is going to take all the way through the end, you know, of, of the transaction interaction or life cycle of the customer. And so we literally, from the inside out, won’t have to refer to this as the CX team or CX initiatives in the future. It will just be who we are.

Lynn Daniel:
Brian, thank you so much. This is a fascinating interview. I’m really pleased to see what’s happening with Carter. I’m really pleased to see the kind of energy that the Carter organization is putting into it and the improvements you continue to make. So again, thank you so much.

Bryan Gregory:
Hey, thank you, Lynn. And again, your team, we couldn’t do this without your team and you guys are pros across the board and we’re so grateful to have that caliber of help in this battle with us and, and we’re winning and customers are ultimately going to win and you guys are frontline part of that.

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