Industry Insights: Ask a CX Leader — With Nate Brown


This edition of Industry Insights features Nathan Brown, Senior Director of CX at Arise, an award-winning CX consultancy platform, and Co-founder of CX Accelerator, a virtual community for CX professionals.

We spoke to Nathan about career insights gained from a rocky start into CX, tips on how to balance human and automated support, and how to streamline your support while maintaining great CX in uncertain economic times.


Q. How did you get into customer support and what inspired you to stay?

Like so many, I got pulled into the work completely by accident. I was selling postage meters on the streets of Jacksonville, FL. Let’s just say it was not going well. I was getting kicked out of a lot of strip malls…and was just generally ineffective as a sales person. What I did discover, however, was that I really enjoyed building a relationship with our existing customers within my territory. Once the postage meter nightmare ended, I was able to snag a customer service role inside of a software company called PureSafety. I was taking 80+ tickets a day and loved it. I was happy to make a bunch of people’s day a bit easier.

As I moved into leadership positions and the team expanded through acquisition, the customer service puzzle became even more complex. The stakes became higher and the issues got tougher. It only fueled my desire to do the work even better and understand our customers more. Customer service can be such a rewarding career in the right organization!

Q. Speaking to aspiring CX leaders out there, what advice would you give them?

A few tidbits that pop into my mind:

  • Keep the focus on making people’s lives better and easier. The work will be meaningful and you will be more successful at it.
  • Set proper expectations with those you work for. CX work is very much a marathon not a sprint. And even the marathon metaphor falls short, because there is NO finish line to this work. It takes time to go through a full CX cycle and demonstrate tangible value.
  • Do NOT try to do Customer Experience by yourself or even with a small team. Having a CX Change Coalition, made up of cross-functional stakeholders, is how to properly extend the work across the organization.
  • Finally, make the work fun and exciting! Both for yourself and the people you serve. This really is wonderful work we get to do. Enjoy it!

Q. What is the one trend or approach in CX that every organization should be implementing today?

To me, a good VoC (Voice of the customer) process is just soooo important. Leveraging modern CX metrics like Customer Sentiment, Customer Lifetime Value, and Customer Health/Engagement Score will make your VoC that much stronger. Utilizing a capable Customer Experience Management platform to collect and organize your structured and unstructured VoC data is no longer optional. You gotta do it! 

90% of CS teams are reporting higher customer expectations than ever before. What do you think has caused this rise in consumer expectations?

The bar truly is higher. We’ve created a bit of a monster, it would seem. To quote Emily Stewart of Vox: “We want things to be cheap, we want things to be fast, we want things to be efficient. For decades, American customers have been told they’re always right. Naturally, they’ve come to believe it.”

I know we can find the path back to a healthier balance. But right now it can be a bit of a scary time to be a CX professional.

Q. In uncertain economic times, companies want to streamline operations and drive efficiency. How can support teams do this without impacting the quality of customer care?

Now’s the time to reduce friction. The average enterprise company has 464 custom applications they’ve purchased or built. Data gets trapped, and even simple tasks become very difficult to achieve. The best technologies enable the flow of information and integrate seamlessly into the core toolset.

When we simplify our tech stack and improve the flow of information through the business, employees spend way less time looking for trapped data. They can see their customers with greater clarity, and deliver a better experience to them!

This leads to tremendous cost savings as well as opportunities to enhance quality of service. Take a look at this piece on mobilizing an army of “fiction fighters” for more!

Q. It takes both technology and human talent to provide standout customer experiences. How can CS teams find the right balance between agents and automation?

The sweet spot is maintaining focus on great interactions, both human and digital. Automate things that should be automated. But don’t force people down a path of automation in cases when this is likely a dead end. Have great people ready to engage when there is an opportunity to interact with your customer human to human.

This type of issue anticipation and journey design will pay massive dividends in the form of reduced customer interactions, reduced customer friction, and ultimately, increased customer lifetime value.

As inspired by “The Effortless Experience,” we must guide customers to the best resolution path. This is the key to finding balance.

Learn more CX tips & tricks from Nate Brown