The CX Iconoclast

Richard Watts – CX as a Common Language for Boards, Leaders, and Employees

March 06, 2023 OCX Cognition Season 1 Episode 6
The CX Iconoclast
Richard Watts – CX as a Common Language for Boards, Leaders, and Employees
Show Notes

Does your company mourn the loss of customers as much as it celebrates their acquisition? It should, and it should back up that grief with resources to stop a repeat, says our guest Richard Watts.

Richard Watts serves on several boards, including the board of Farmers Insurance, where he’s on the audit committee. It’s a sensible follow-on to his 33 years at Progressive Insurance. From the time Richard joined in 1977 to his retirement in 2010, Progressive grew from a relatively small insurer writing just 70 million dollars in annual sales and with 460 employees, to Fortune Global 500 insurer with 35 billion in annual sales. 

When he left Progressive, as Group President of Sales and Service, Richard oversaw more than 60 million customer interactions, six call centers with about 9000 FTEs, and the overall customer experience. Now, as part of his board service, Richard continues to focus on the customer experience as one of the key aspects of oversight and guidance. So Richard Owen sat down to get Richard Watts’s perspective on CX, since his career encompasses the birth of the discipline, the introduction of the Net Promoter Score, and a great deal of evolution in the space.

As a devoted and thoughtful steward of the customer experience, who guided many changes and enhancements to the customer experience while at Progressive, Richard is well aware of the shortfalls in the field and the CX challenges facing both incumbent and start-up companies.

Some areas of the conversation you might especially focus on:

  • In answer to the question you may have asked yourself during a dark night of the soul – yes, boards do care about the customer experience. 
  • Richard talked about a key shift at Progressive in response to customer churn, from not just celebrating acquisitions, but also mourning losses and exploring their causes in depth.
  • Legacy firms certainly benefit from their longevity and size, but in Richard’s view their ability to improve the customer experience is also hampered by their outdated technology and the thinking that comes with it.

Humans and machines will likely have a happy future together after all.

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