Mark Bartlett is the Chief Experience Officer at FPX and has over 20 years of experience leading customer experience and commerce practices. He helps FPX modernize the way businesses buy and sell across all channels through FPX’s enterprise CPQ solution.
Mark was recently interviewed by Frank Sohn, President and CEO of Novus CPQ Consulting Inc. for Sohn’s CPQ Podcast. During the first part of the interview, the two talked the evolution of the Chief Experience Officer role, delivering Amazon-like experiences, and the importance of listening to the customer.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from part one of the podcast.
What does it mean to be a Chief Experience Officer at a CPQ company?
The title comes from taking a user-centered approach to solving technical and business problems. I was fortunate enough to cut my teeth in the early days under one of the pioneers and practitioners of user-centered design who came out of Apple and brought these user-centered design principles to the world of commerce and interactive design in the mid 90s.
That moment was when commerce and ecommerce were starting to form the digitalization of experiences. Being able to solve these problems through the eyes of the end-users and letting the customer perspective be the true North for solutioning a technology system or an ecommerce platform was really influential as my career was starting out.
Flash-forward 20+ years...some of those user-centered design principles are now the best practices of design thinking. Organizations are [using them] to help solve these digital transformation problems that we still encounter today.
When I came to FPX, I was able to bring that user-centered design approach to start to think about the customer experience that FPX engenders and delivers with our software products. As the Chief Experience Officer, what I’m responsible for is not only the experience that our customers have with our products, but ultimately the experience that the end-users, our customers’ customers, have when interacting with the solutions that we put into market and help deploy.
Having a software company in general, and a CPQ software company in particular, choose to fill that chair and create the position of a Chief Experience Officer was something bold and innovative that FPX was able to do. It was very exciting to help FPX begin to think about solving these complex business and technology problems through the eyes of the end-user and not just take a traditional software approach of looking at technology feature by feature, function by function, and screwing in a bolt to fasten a particular system together and call the job done.
Instead of a technology-out approach, we really want to take a customer-in approach to solving these complex problems, because it’s not just screwing in nuts and bolts anymore—it’s about delivering outcomes and participating in this next wave of digital transformation.
How does it look like from a customer or end-user point of view? How does your design thinking contribute to solve issues from their perspective?
The goal is to really create a seamless, easy-to-use journey for those end-users across whichever channel and whichever touchpoint they happen to interact with. It may be a collaborative, consultative, co-creation moment when working very closely with direct sales, but oftentimes it begins with this journey of self-service, especially with the evolution of ecommerce and other self-service channels in B2B.
We need to be able to deliver that Amazon-like experience and maintain consistency across all touchpoints because in B2B, the customer journey is so complex. Today’s end-user is going to interact with an enterprise organization across many channels, from self-service/self-discovery, through the indirect distributor or channel side, and ultimately back to engaging with the enterprise’s direct teams.
What we’re striving to do with our technology solutions is help facilitate that experience across all of those different channels and make it not only consistent for the end-user, but also for the internal user—the direct sales person, the partner or channel sales person—to ensure that they’re seeing a consistent view and set of information so that everyone is speaking the same language and can have a much more proactive dialogue and collaborative experience. If we can get there, we have succeeded in creating something that is as easy to use as shopping on Amazon or choosing a show to watch on Netflix.
Who’s helping you on your team or whom in addition to your customers are you listening to?
The customer has a firm seat on our product advisory board; we work with the end-user of the technology to ensure that they have a voice at the table.
This is an emerging field in our industry and the best practices are being codified now. [As such,] we have to look to research, industry publications, and thought leaders out there who have charted this ground in other, adjacent industries in order to model their behavior and success. Personally, FPX has looked at the realm of B2B ecommerce closely because of the adjacency of the type of journeys that end-users and customers are going on in their commerce experiences.
There’s a lot to learn from the evolution of that field that we can apply to the CPQ space in particular. Some of the leaders of commerce have been extremely influential in how they’ve adopted some of these user-centered or customer-in approaches to solving commerce problems; we can adopt those and bring them in to solve some of the more complex CPQ problems.
Curious to learn more? Stay tuned for part two of this interview coming soon. Can’t wait? You can listen to the entire podcast here.