Tell us about yourself…
I am a father. Husband. Son. Professional. Citizen. Teammate. Athlete. Cancer Survivor. Human. I believe the world deserves better experiences – customer experiences, employee experiences, citizen experiences, medical experiences. Really, at the core, we deserve better experiences as humans. My mission is to team up with brands to create better experiences for their customers and employees. To help each brand deliver on their brand mission to add value to human lives.
How did you get your start in Customer Experience?
Growing up, my mother was a single parent to me and my 3 siblings. She worked double shifts in order to support our family. As a result, we were responsible for household chores like mowing the grass. I remember visiting our local department store with her to purchase a new lawn mower. As we walked into the store, my mother shared with the salesman, “I need a lawn mower that is safe. I don’t need all the bells and whistles. This is my budget. If you can check all the boxes, I will buy it today.”
The salesman walked us over to the top-of-the-line lawn mower with all the bells and whistles, which was completely out of her budget, and proceeded to “sell” my mother on why she should adjust her budget.
It was at that moment my mom grabbed our hands and we rushed out of that department store. My siblings and I sat in silence, as we could see my mom was very frustrated. At a stop light while our car was stopped, she turned around and pleaded with us: “I don’t care what profession you choose when you get older, but please promise me that you will never minimize the needs of your customers/patients/employees to hit your own goals.” My mom understood the sales guy was trying to meet his quota and therefore minimized her needs.
I was 7, and I was only concerned about my kickball game at recess. But that experience – that plea from my mother – burned deep into the core of my soul.
Fast forward about 20 years. I found myself in an executive meeting and the CFO challenged me, cutting me short while I presented customer research: “It is your job to convince our customers they need this specific product.” Our CFO wanted to push the higher-margin product vs. the aspirational products our customers wanted. He minimized our customers’ desires to hit our short-term P&L.
In that moment, I had a flashback of my mom and her plea to never minimize the needs of others to hit our own goals. I had the courage to challenge our executive leadership and replied, “My job is to deliver the experiences our customers want. If our strategy is any different than that, we have greater issues as an organization.”
Shortly after, I was asked to lead the customer experience strategy at the organization.
What is your favorite customer experience benchmark?
Although Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the most widely adopted customer experience benchmark around the world today (and a benchmark I have personally used in the past while leading Customer Experience Strategy for Aaron’s), I do not have a favorite benchmark.
Benchmarks create a finite view of the customer experience. Too many brands become focused on their benchmark score and how it compares to their competitors. This finite focus creates complacency.
As a practitioner and executive advisor, I spend most of my time looking at customer feedback, reading verbatim comments and analyzing the sentiment analysis (% positive & negative). Customer feedback is the heart of a brand’s experience. Benchmarks do not transform your experience – customer feedback does.
What excites you about joining Chatter?
The people and technology. The first call I had with Simon (CEO) was absolutely inspiring. We were completely aligned regarding the challenges facing the experience industry today – the lack of focus on taking action. We shared ideas on how to tackle that challenge, and the innovative visions we had for delivering on client value. After that conversation, I had to join the organization. The technology is innovative and ahead of the industry, and delivers the incredible value that brands need to create better experiences for their customers and employees.
Other than creating incredible experiences, what other passions do you have?
I am an absolute sneakerhead. My favorite sneakers are the Air Jordan 3’s and 11’s. I have more than 50 pairs of sneakers and will always be wearing them. I also love my Peloton and Tread (#ironzack), and anything outdoors – hiking, cycling, stand-up paddle boarding, and lake life! Our family is active, so we are always on the move. I am also a diehard Atlanta United (MLS) fan and attend every home game possible.
Connect with Zack for a chat
Senior Vice President, Chief Experience & Strategy