What We Learned From CX Experts at Empower 2019

Last verified May 20, 2021

One of our favorite things about Empower 2019 was how our speakers were focused on customer experience. It’s certainly something we’re passionate about at Guru; after all, an amazing product means nothing if you don’t have anyone using it. If your company isn’t focused on the customer experience at every level, you might as well throw your revenue goals out the window. In fact, PwC found that customers “aren’t willing to pay more for bells and whistles unless core elements of customer experience are met,” and that every industry sees a potential price bump for providing great customer experience.

With that in mind, we wanted to share some of our favorite takeaways from Empower’s CX-focused discussion track.


A knowledge-first culture requires sharing what you have

Jason Collette, Senior Director of Field Technical Services, and Paul Wickes, Senior Consultant at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), kicked off the afternoon with an interactive session showcasing what it means to share knowledge. First, they gave each attendee half a puzzle and then asked them to search out the person who had the other half. While it was partially an opportunity for networking, the real focus was to discover that the person who can best help you is not always the one right next to you. They explained how building a learning, knowledge-first culture involved everyone at HMH being willing to share what they knew — to be stewards of knowledge if they didn’t own the knowledge themselves.

By pooling knowledge to solve bigger problems, they were able to activate their knowledge network in a way that allows them to drive revenue and business growth — and avoid the business versions of pitfalls featured in HMH’s own Oregon Trail, the longest running video game franchise in the world.


Nope! They stayed alive and activated their knowledge to ford the river.

Hearing customer feedback is everyone’s job

In a lightning session moderated by Hillary Curran (Guru’s own Head of CX), Sarah Sheikh, Head of Customer Success at Front; Shauntle Barley Head of Growth at MaestroQA; and Camille E. Acey, Head of Customer Success at Nylas discussed what it means to listen at scale and glean actionable insights from a large volume of customer success interactions.

“Our CEO actively looks at NPS responses.” — Sarah Sheikh, Front

While each woman had a different approach, they all came back to the core idea that it’s not just the responsibility of a CX team to understand where the customers are coming from — it’s everyone’s responsibility. Check out the full session below:

Great customer experiences start with a great internal culture

If there was one big theme in the session by Margaret Rosas, VP of Customer Care at Looker it was that the desire to do right by employees and customers alike is what drives a successful company. In addition to an intense focus on data and hiring for a culture fit, it’s an openness to new knowledge — and to the sharing of knowledge — that has allowed Looker to become one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in recent history. Learn how she helped build a customer care org that focused on creating a support job “that doesn’t suck” in the full session recording below:

CX is about being the voice of the customer

In the fireside chat hosted by Guru’s Product Manager, Nora West, both Caroline Nolan, CX Manager at Brooklinen and Maria Jiang, Director of Marketing at Solvvy agreed that CX is the newest brand differentiator.

At the end of the day we buy from the people that we like and we trust. And I think that customer support has such a key role in establishing that trust. — Maria Jiang, Solvvy

Maria pointed to a study predicting that by next year, customer experience will overtake both price and product as a key differentiator, while Caroline argued that CX is really about surfacing the voice of the customer to the rest of the company. If CX is to be the ultimate differentiator, making sure the customer has an advocate in the company is key for every company, whether B2B or B2C.

Implementing CX tools that work together leads to a definitive ROI

For the final CX session, Autodesk’s Director of Customer Success Operations, Eraj Siddiqui took the audience through the Gainsight/Slack/Guru relationship, and how using them together has allowed his team to realize a virtuous cycle of adoption. He explained that “by making collaboration challenging, teams tend to operate in silos,” whereas implementing tools that encouraged collaboration and sharing of knowledge led not only to a much more positive customer experience, but also a much higher level of tool adoption. Check out his story here.

The customer should be the focus of every effort

While the specific CX track may have ended on Day 1 of Empower, every one of our speakers talked about the importance of putting the customer at the center of your company. We think that Kate Leggett, VP, Principal Analyst Serving Application Development & Delivery Professionals at Forrester, summed it up best when she explained:

“It's about people. It's about motivating [and] incentivizing your people to do the right thing for the customer**. It's not about holding your agents to productivity and efficiency measures (or driving sales to be able to get the biggest deal) if it's not the right thing for the customer.”