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Chief Customer Office organisation becoming more relevant to Dell Technologies: EVP & CCO

Sangeetha Chengappa Bengaluru | Updated on October 28, 2019

Karen Quintos, EVP & Chief Customer Officer, Dell Technologies   -  Special Arrangement

Karen Quintos joined Dell in 2000 as an executive and rose to become the Chief Marketing Officer in 2010. Three years ago, Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, had chosen Quintos to start the company’s first-ever Chief Customer Office organisation. In her role as EVP & Chief Customer Officer, Dell Technologies, Quintos leads a global organisation devoted to customer advocacy and helps define as well as develop Dell’s customer experience strategy and programmes. Quintos is also responsible for Dell’s strategy and programmes for diversity & inclusion and corporate social responsibility. In a chat with BusinessLine during her recent visit to Bengaluru, Quintos said that the Chief Customer Office organisation has a key role to play in driving Dell’s topline.

How long did it take you to get to the Executive Leadership Team?

I joined Dell as an executive in 2000 and ran our supply chain for about two years. My boss was trying to convince me to stay here and ultimately run all of manufacturing but, I really wanted to get back in front of customers because that’s where I get my energy and my passion from. That was when Dell was going through a major expansion and I was in charge of all of our sales and technical support centres in Central America and North America. So we started off with Oklahoma city, numerous sites in Canada, Panama City, El Salvador and I did that role for a couple of years. Then I moved into the marketing role and did small and medium business marketing, ran our Americas marketing, the public sector global marketing organisation and then moved ultimately into the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) role in 2010. Then, when we brought Dell and EMC together Michael (Dell) asked me to start our first-ever Chief Customer Office organisation in 2016.

Was the Chief Customer Officer’s role conceived with you in mind?

The thinking behind conceiving this role was threefold. First, Michael certainly saw where the whole customer experience paradigm was going and how all of that was changing at a really fast pace given what was going on in digital transformation. So, it was the recognition around the role that customer experience was going to play. Second, he just wanted somebody on his leadership team as he integrated Dell and EMC, that woke up every single day worrying about nothing other than taking care of our customers. He wanted that voice at the table because he knew the integration was going to be hard and he also wanted that voice that would ask customers what they want from Dell Technologies when we bring these two companies together. And lastly, I asked him the question when he offered me the CMO role, why me? And one of the things he said is, ‘because you are the most customer-centric executive that we have’. I bleed customer, I’m always the one saying – ‘well, I don’t know if that’s what our customers want, or customers want this, or customers want that’. It was a combination of those three things that led to creating the role of a Chief Customer Officer.

Do you take a tiered approach to your customers, classifying the most important under Platinum, then Gold, Silver and Bronze in their order of importance to the business?

I have a responsibility for customer experience priorities, so setting the strategy for the company around what are the most important things, how do we invest in them, how do we ensure progress around those critically important things. I also own all of our customer loyalty programmes, so when I first moved into the role, one of the things that I discovered is, outside of our fantastic sales team who intuitively knew who were the most important customers in terms of size, revenue, margin growth, etc, for everybody else that supported these customers it was candidly a one-size-fits-all. Therefore, we tiered our customers. We have a set of 5,000 customers around the world that are most important, growing the fastest and buying the most from us, and within these 5,000, we have a global subset of customers and tiers within those. But, if you think about the fact that we have millions of customers, there are 5,000 that we really want to serve in a differentiated way. So, they are the ones that get the vast majority of our Executive Leadership Team’s time. They get invited to big events, we ask them to be reference accounts, they are a part of our advisory council programmes. If they have a particular issue, we give them a higher level of service and support. These 5,000 customers contribute to more than half of our business. And have been with us for a long period of time (10-15 years on average) and they are the fastest-growing.

As CCO, how do you begin your interactions with customers?

I almost always go in asking how are we doing serving you? The conversation can go a number of ways. They can say, you guys are doing great, I need you to help us with our data centre consolidation, help us figure out our workforce transformation, or they would like us to partner with them in the area of more women in STEM. Sometimes the conversations go - you are really good at this, but you are not so good at this, and I need your help in fixing or addressing that. And there are a handful of times when I or my team get called in because the salesperson is like, they (customer) just want to talk to a senior leader at Dell who doesn’t have anything to do with selling them something or anything like that, help me turn it around. So, we get called in a number of times to be the so called “Switzerland” and they want to know that I am the person that can rally around them, because I can, because I report to the CEO and I have great relationships with all of my peers and I can call them and say – look, I need you to get one of your best people on this or your best person on that or we need to go and do 24/7 monitoring of this particular customer’s environment because they are confident that they are not going to have another problem.

Does your work in the Chief Customer Office organisation directly contribute to Dell’s topline? How is it measured?

We measure customer NPS, like a lot of companies across industries do. It is one of the four metrics that Michael Dell measures the success of the company which has 150,000 employees. We have actually been able to correlate what 1 point of NPS drives in terms of revenue improvement by going back and just measuring with all the direct customer data that we collected over the years. For instance, if a customer gave us an NPS of 6 last year and gave us an NPS of 10 this year and bought $10 million more of product and services from us, we have all that data. We can consolidate all of that data and I can tell you the happiest sales people that we have, they have the highest quota attainment, have the highest customer NPS. I can actually drill it down for you at a sales rep level, at a customer level, at a revenue level and really we have built the analytics and regression capabilities to understand what happens. We have a 200-member Chief Customer Office organisation, some of who are in India who work closely with the sales teams and others in driving our social good platform, our D&I (diversity & inclusion) platform.

I understand that Dell is targeting to add $3 billion to its topline this year. What part of it will come from your organisation?

A lot of it, because we continue to drive improvements in Customer NPS (Net Promoter Score). If you see the kind of opportunities that my team helps our sales teams win by going into customer meetings when they couldn’t get the customer meetings. But, when we go in talking about diversity, about customer experience and some of these more revolutionary futuristic topics, we can get the meeting sometimes when our sales teams can’t. My team has directly contributed to actually winning business that our sales team says “I would have never gotten that business had your team not come in”. It is important how we respond when we mess up with customers, which we do from time to time, we are not perfect. But our ability to get in, listen, fix, respond, take accountability and turn these customer accounts around is what counts. I just had two customers over the weekend write directly to me and Michael talking about the work that we did to turn these big global situations around. I don’t have very many days when we get two of these letters thanking us, on one day. It was pretty rewarding. Dell’s Customer NPS is up by 10-20 per cent since I took over as CCO in 2016.

How many women entrepreneurs have you enabled through your DWEN (Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network) programme in India?

Not very many in India, because we just started the India chapter six months ago. But ,we have touched millions of women with our DWEN network efforts over the last 10 years. We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary of DWEN in Singapore. We had 11 entrepreneurs from India at the event, who are part of the DWEN chapter in India. This programme has really helped us address some of the unique barriers that women entrepreneurs face – access to capital, access to networks and access to technology. So, what started 10 years ago as one event where we brought 100 of these women together and asked how can Dell help you, it has now turned into a network of a couple of thousand women, many of who participate in regional events and one big global event. We are now going to invite them all to these solutions tours that we do around the world, because they all have technology needs and want to understand more about the technology. Today, 16-17 countries are part of the DWEN network which initially started in China.

Published on October 28, 2019

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