The world of customer satisfaction is complex and many organizations approach it differently, and with specific goals in mind. At Vector Solutions, we call it Customer Experience, and we know exactly what it means to us - and why it matters as we invest in our mission to meet and exceed customer expectations. Part of our continued investment and strategy for Customer Experience led us to welcome Jeff Chapman as our first Chief Customer Officer position. In this article, Jeff shares what Customer Experience means at Vector - and why it’s a critical component to achieving our mission of helping the everyday heroes in our communities make safer, smarter, and better decisions.
Jeff’s extensive experience in technology operations, sales, and general management paved the way for his current role as Vector’s Chief Customer Officer. “Customers don’t buy products, they invest in solutions that solve their pain. My experience in tech, sales, and management taught me the importance of alleviating that pain, making sure customers aren’t caught up in tech issues, and building trust to establishing long-term relationships with them.”
Every organization needs to determine what Customer Experience means to them, and then they must invest in it. Businesses enter different stages of growth and their process of scaling can change the way customers experience their brand. By investing in the leadership roles, teams, resources, and solutions to ensure Customer Experience, you make it a central pillar and value of your organization, which has a positive impact on internal and external stakeholders.
For Jeff, optimizing Customer Experience at Vector Solutions comes down to four critical areas:
As a business scales, the temptation can be to hire your way out of the problem, which is a mistake many organizations make, according to Jeff. “You cannot possibly hire enough people to service 33,000 customers and over one million users - you have to free people up to touch customers to bring value to them.” As you scale, it’s critical to bring in the right tools and technology to solve issues as well as strategic, scalable procedures that can grow with your organization. “Your tech and customer operations team can fall down if your process is not set up to enable and empower your team members.”
Getting the right tech and tools in place to support the humans at your organization frees them up for the high-value work of supporting clients. Then, leverage your data. “How often are your customers using the system? Are they getting the value they purchased the solution for? You have to know the answers to these questions so you can use that data to optimize and continue to positively impact your customers.”
At Vector, we believe that communication is critical, and that belief is central to the way we function. In customer interactions, communication takes on special importance. “We are supporting customers, so by and large our conversations happen when they need something, not when things are going perfectly. Support issues, negative feedback, that’s our world. Where we worry is when things go silent. If they’re not talking to us - that’s a problem.” By creating open, trusting, long-term relationships with customers, you’re ensuring dialogue and an opportunity to resolve their issues and support them to success. “Disengagement is the enemy.”
For Jeff, part of this process is being available where your clients and team members need you. “10 years ago we were always on the phone, but now our customers have so many modes of communication at their fingertips and preferences for when they use which. It’s important to us to meet them where they are at.”
Many organizations make the mistake of dispersing Customer Experience into different roles and departments, and not making it a dedicated pillar of their business. “They don’t bring it under one umbrella, they don’t have a Chief Customer Officer role so that dedication to success and support doesn’t ladder up to someone ultimately responsible for the customer experience.” That said, every department and role plays a part in the overall customer experience. If a team member is in sales, they are still part of the Customer Experience process; every team member plays a role in ensuring support to our customers that is efficient and valuable.
Jeff recognizes that his role is rare and new. “My title didn’t exist 5 years ago. There aren’t a lot of companies that invest in Customer Experience. It’s a sign that Vector Solutions takes the customer experience seriously and wants everyone to know that.”
Jeff is inspired by the Navy SEALs motto “cover and move.” “You have to work together as a team, think about how others can help, and understand that the rest of the organization is here to help ensure positive outcomes for our customers. I work cross-collaboratively. Ultimately, I’m responsible for Customer Experience at Vector, and I am always looking through the customer lens.” By focusing on what matters and reducing complexity, you create efficiency, which allows you to cover more ground and do more for your customers.
Of course, it all ties back to our mission to help our customers make safer, smarter, and better decisions through our mission-critical training technology solutions. When you’re working with the critical sectors of our communities, it gives your daily work a profound sense of purpose. “This is an incredible organization because we serve heroes. We are keeping our customers safe, making sure they are properly trained and can go home at night. When you think about that, it’s clear why the customer experience is so important.
“Our jobs here are more critical than at other organizations I’ve worked with because if our customer is in trouble, we have to react - it can be a matter of life or death. We're serving frontline heroes and ensuring our products are effective, optimized, and up and running is always our top priority.”
At Vector, customer care isn’t about troubleshooting tech issues, it’s about advocating on behalf of our customers. “You can get overly focused on a task, resolving a complex issue, and lose sight of the customer - of the human being who is counting on you. Give them your attention, empathy, respect, and talent - that’s what matters most. You’ve got to wrap that care around your customers.”
It’s important to remember that Customer Experience is a key differentiator that can set your organization apart from the competition. “The piece here that is so inspiring, is that making sure the customer is successful isn’t a job or a strategy, it’s truly the economy. That customer experience and everything we do is the game-changer, it allows us to either be successful or not. So we want to make sure we revolve around that customer experience and really take it to heart and understand that is a differentiator for us.”
Chief Customer Officer
As Vector Solutions Chief Customer Officer (CCO), Jeff Chapman leads Vector’s customer strategy and brings over 20 years of experience in general management, customer success, and service delivery in B2B software. He brings passion and experience for enabling organic and M&A business growth through scalable and repeatable processes. Prior to Vector, Chapman was the EVP of client success and services at Virgin Pulse, a leader in employee engagement and business outcomes. He also previously served as SVP and General Manager of the Global Trading and Risk division at Enverus as well as held senior executive positions with SumTotal Systems and Lawson Software. Chapman earned his MBA from Emory University's Goizueta Business School.