How does a former clothing brand founder and CEO make his way to Chief Product Officer for UserIQ?
His resume reads like a list of dream jobs.
Get a job at the global healthcare IT leader and live abroad. Audit internal IT controls for household names like Delta and Home Depot. Start your own environmentally responsible apparel company. Work as a product marketing manager. Build and lead the inaugural customer success team at a software company. Write for Forbes, Fortune and Entrepreneur magazine. THEN, be named Chief Product Officer.
Before he ever had the words “customer success” in his title, Lawton Ursrey worked as a senior product marketing manager at a business management software company. While toiling away on his daily product trend research, he stumbled on an article that would change the trajectory of his career. The article encouraged him to examine the customer journey and introduced the idea of customer success as its own viable entity.
“After examining the journey of our customer end-to-end, it was all too clear how disjointed the experience was for them,” Ursrey says. “I knew if we wanted a great customer experience that we were proud of, we’d need to unify the end-to-end customer experience and ensure we took complete ownership of it.”
With a fire in his belly (and a bulletproof proposal in his arsenal), he took his findings directly to the GM of North America at the time. He didn’t skirt the issue. His immediate recommendation was to form a customer success team.
He got instant buy-in from the executive team.
I know what you’re thinking. How did he get that immediate buy-in?
Ursrey credits showing the current customer journey visually with getting the buy-in he needed. He highlighted each touchpoint that was failing the customer and explained what was happening backstage at the company that created undesirable customer outcomes.
He presented the executive team with two options as to the future of the company.
Option A: Be a disjointed company for the customer and create negative experiences, leaving them frustrated and confused.
Option B: Be a unified company obsessed with the end-to-end customer experience who creates smooth transitions and positive experiences.
“It was a no brainer,” Ursrey says.
The pièce de résistance to his argument was proving that at that time there was only one party who was experiencing the end-to-end customer journey. And that was the customer. Nobody internally had full authority to oversee their journey from start to finish.
Having just been deputized to form the new customer success team at his company, he had his work cut out for him. He immediately pulled together a team consisting of sales and support members to work to close the painful gaps customers were getting caught in.
“It’s those tiny instances like your sales and support teams not using the same chat client that make for a disjointed journey and can ruin the customer experience,” Ursrey says. “These things will seem small to you, but they have a massive impact on the customer especially when they are repetitive workflows.”
Ursrey stresses the importance of finding and eradicating silos from within your organization. The best way to achieve this and create cross-departmental buy-in is from the customer journey. It will do the talking for you and data helps to remove opinion as you seek to create new internal alignment.
The best companies often find success by creating a culture of customer obsession across all departments. The importance of nailing the details of a great customer journey and focusing on their experience cannot be understated.
His advice: The teams involved in the customer journey must obsess over it and know it by heart. Never let it become stagnant. It should be an ever-evolving and constantly reviewed process. It is easier said than done, but this shift in team pays off big time.
Fast forward through an almost decade-long career in customer success and Ursrey has been named the newest Chief Product Officer at UserIQ. He brings the knowledge cultivated from his years of experience in product marketing and customer success to his role.
He says being able to tap into his past successes and mostly his failures inform his decisions today.
“When I find myself faced with an issue or a problem that needs solving, I always look to the customer journey first,” Ursrey says. “This helps me frame the challenge clearly and see the desired outcome from the perspective of the customer. I used this technique throughout my years in product marketing, customer success, and still do today as I consider our product strategy.”
Meet Lawton Ursrey
- Role: Chief Product Officer
- Previous position: VP of Customer Success
- Hobbies: Gardening, woodworking, guitar and being a father to his new son
- School: University of Georgia - Terry College of Business
💡 Ursrey’s one tip for someone breaking into customer success:
“Customer success professionals have plenty on their plate. They are a busy breed. With that, it’s easy to lose sight of what a customer’s goals were originally. This is one of those little details that often gets missed for various reasons by CS professionals in all parts of their career. It is what one must have to be a great CSM and this will never change. I have also learned this the hard way. Never ever lose sight of what the customer originally gave you as their goal. Document it clearly, have them certify its accuracy and keep coming back to it for direction. It is the compass bearing to never lose. This seems obvious, but still, this fundamental is far too often missed. It’s like that classic example in sales where the little yet critical detail that is often overlooked is to ensure you “ask” for the sale.”
You can connect with Lawton on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lawtonu/