Podcasts  •  June 06, 2022

Leveraging Innovative Tech to Drive Client Experience with Jodi Sweeney, DFIN’s Chief Client Experience Officer

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"The Insider by DFIN" is a series of video interviews featuring the latest trends, topics and key perspectives on the global capital markets.

Join DFIN Chief Client Experience Officer Jodi Sweeney as she shares her insights on transforming the client experience in this special edition of The Insider by DFIN.

jodi sweeney

Jodi Sweeney

Chief Client Experience Officer, DFIN

Dana Barrett - Welcome to the Insider by DFIN. I'm Dana Barrett, and joining me right now is Jodi Sweeney, the Chief Client Experience Officer for DFIN, and in a brand new role.

Jodi Sweeney - I am.

Dana Barrett - So welcome to the company, I guess we should say.

Jodi Sweeney - Thank you so much. Thank you.

Dana Barrett - Yes. Before we talk about client experience, because I'm pretty sure everybody knows what each one of those words means separately, and even maybe to some extent what they mean together, but as a role in a company and as a priority for a company, I definitely want to get into that but before we do all that I want to hear about you. So tell me about your background and how you sort of got into this whole world of client experience.

Jodi Sweeney - Sure, I mean, I really have done services my entire career. So I started, you know, very early on in my career running data centers and call centers and then really moved into this role really more back probably in 2007, when these types of roles were coming together. I started at a company called Avid, and I ran their customer support organization and I think as that company, and as the industry changed, they realize that a customer really wants a full experience, not just people to come in on the back end when something is broken, but really a team that can really help them throughout their life cycle. So that's when we started combining pieces of the services organization from customer support, professional services, a customer success team, to really provide a customer with an end to end services experience.

Dana Barrett - Yeah, I feel like in my own career, I worked in in the technology sector for a long time on sort of like the client project management side and then, you know, customer support was separate.

Jodi Sweeney - Yes.

Dana Barrett - Sort of as you're describing and it makes sense that a customer's having an experience the entire time, every time you interact with them, even be it through the website, through text message whatever it is, email, it all is part of the experience. No?

Jodi Sweeney - It is. Exactly right and I think, you know, for some people and for some customers, they feel like, you know, you love me a lot in the beginning as you get the sale, but then, you know the sales team needs to move on to, you know, another organization and continue to sell.

Dana Barrett - Right.

Jodi Sweeney - But who understands what I was trying to do, from beginning to end.

Dana Barrett - Right.

Jodi Sweeney - And so having that services organization from presales, all the way through support, really helps them make sure that the teams and the company understands what were they trying to do? Are they accomplishing it? And how can we help them further what they need to do to accomplish and be successful.

Dana Barrett - Right, and that it's sort of cohesive from the first time you meet all the way through their whole client life cycle.

Jodi Sweeney - Exactly.

Dana Barrett - It's so funny. When you said that it reminded me of like when you date and you get flowers all the time, and then you get married and he's like not so much.

Jodi Sweeney - Not so much.

Dana Barrett - Yeah.

Jodi Sweeney - Just getting me on a subscription of flowers every month. Right?

Dana Barrett - Problem solved. You should be like a marriage client experience officer. Right? So you mentioned, when you were talking about your career being on sort of the customer support side and running those kinds of departments for companies and I think you threw in there, you know, as this client experience became more of a real role that companies were starting to do.

Jodi Sweeney - Yes.

Dana Barrett - Do you know when that happened? Like around when was that?

Jodi Sweeney - You know, I think there are some companies that are just continuing to do that. So I think different companies, depending on where their journey is? And I think particularly as, you know companies are becoming software companies, and software as a service company.

Dana Barrett - Yeah.

Jodi Sweeney - That matters more. So I think there are a lot of companies today that may not even still have that, and maybe don't feel the need for it, but I think as you move into the software realm and as you provide something that's as a service. It's really more and more important to do that. So, you know, my first experience was really probably back in 2007 when I saw those areas come together and different companies are at different paces, but I definitely think as a software company, you see more and more companies bringing these pillars together.

Dana Barrett - Interesting. So do you feel like it's mostly in the tech world that this has sort of become a thing if you will, versus like all kinds of different industries?

Jodi Sweeney - You know, I would say my experience is in the tech world and I think that it's definitely much more common today, that you see these types of roles and these types of, because the importance of service is kind of more now than ever in most capacities.

Dana Barrett - It's kind of funny that the terminology, you know SAAS or software as a service really had nothing to do with actual service.

Jodi Sweeney - Right.

Dana Barrett - Like it meant, you know, being served from one place, from the cloud to the people kind of thing. But really it has a whole other, you know meaning if you put, you know your work on top of that, it's as a service.

Jodi Sweeney - Right.

Dana Barrett - We should be serving our customers, right.

Jodi Sweeney - Constantly, every day, from the beginning to the end, and not just when they have a problem.

Dana Barrett - Yeah that's so interesting and I know with DFIN they have, you know traditionally been a services company and it's only in the last several years that they have, you know, become more of a software company. I know the goal is to move even further down that path to be a software provider first, really,

Jodi Sweeney - Yes.

Dana Barrett - To lead with that. So they are really needing and wanting to adopt this, you know, this way of thinking that you're bringing to the company, correct?

Jodi Sweeney - Right, and I think, you know, we're so lucky of DFIN's heritage. I think because they were a services company, they really know our customers. They really know who we are, what we can do, and our customers really value the team and the people, and what we're trying to help them do. I think that gives us permission to be able to also now provide them software as a service, in addition to the just the services that we were providing for.

Dana Barrett - Right, and you've obviously done this numerous times or you wouldn't be in the C-suite, my friend, but in your last role you were with Salesforce.

Jodi Sweeney - I was.

Dana Barrett - So obviously software as a service.

Jodi Sweeney - Yes.

Dana Barrett - Large Company.

Jodi Sweeney - Yes.

Dana Barrett - What is the day to day of delivering that client experience when a lot of the touchpoints are digital?

Jodi Sweeney - Right, I mean, there really is a lot of interaction with the customer. I think, you know, from anyone who works at a company, you know, really the customer is everything and what we want to understand, is who are they? What are they trying to accomplish? And that is still face to face conversations about really understanding, “What are they trying to accomplish and how can we help get them there?” And, you know, we still do, even though it's digital, kind of fingerprints everywhere, there's nothing like still talking to a customer and understanding what is their business and what problem can we help them solve?

Dana Barrett - So you mentioned when we started the conversation about sort of people kind of feel the love in the beginning during the sales process and then maybe less so in an ongoing, you know, way. So is part of what you do, sort of make suggestions about, listen, you need to go back every so, you know, at this sort of cadence, you know, to reengage with the customer face to face, or you know, voice to voice at least, to sort of?

Jodi Sweeney - It depends on the situation.

Dana Barrett - Right.

Jodi Sweeney - I think, you know, in the beginning, understanding what are their requirements? How does the product meet those requirements? Are there things from a services or support that we can help them with. At some point you hope they don't need you at all, right? I mean, and you know, it's like if you have, you know an appliance in your home, while you like the service person who may come fix it for you, you'd prefer never to have that problem in the beginning.

Dana Barrett - That is a very good point, Jodi.

Jodi Sweeney - So, you know, I think it's always that mix of making sure that we provide a great solution, a great product, and that over time we cannot touch them, and they don't have to call us.

Dana Barrett - Sure.

Jodi Sweeney - But when they do, we are there for them and I think it's really about being a partner with them giving them advice and counsel on best practices. How other companies are doing it, how can they be more efficient? How can they be more effective? Where can they automate?

Dana Barrett - Right.

Jodi Sweeney - So it's also really being a counselor and a partner to them in many ways.

Dana Barrett - Right, well, we were talking earlier with the force management team.

Jodi Sweeney - Great.

Dana Barrett - Right, and they were talking about sort of the importance of that handoff, right? That, you know, the salesperson may come in and do everything you're talking about, you know ask the questions, what are the outcomes you're trying to achieve? What are your goals? How can we support you in that way? But if that information doesn't get handed off-

Jodi Sweeney - Right

Dana Barrett - To the next group, to, you know, the product managers or whoever's doing the implementations or whatever the case may be, or maybe they're implementing multiple products, maybe it's a partner. If that information isn't handed off and the person has to sort of reiterate their whole story again, it can be quite frustrating.

Jodi Sweeney - It sure can be and I think that's what we hear a lot from customers is they want a company that knows them.

Dana Barrett - Yes.

Jodi Sweeney - In an intimate way and they don't want to feel like I've told the story and now the ball has been dropped and now someone's going to, to your point, they have to like waste time. Right?

Dana Barrett - Right.

Jodi Sweeney - It's now re-explaining and talking about it. So what we like to do in the services industry is really push those people up front. So it's not just a handoff and drop off and, you know, we're included way up front in the presales engagement, it's really important.

Dana Barrett - Yeah, yeah. All right. I want to kind of shift gears a little bit and just talk about what a client experience organization looks like. When you're building out your team, you know, what do those people focus on in a day to day? What do you focus on in a day to day, and how do you all interact with all the other parts of the company?

Jodi Sweeney - Right, I mean, it's a great question and we in the services touch everything, right? So in order for us to be successful, we have to know the customer. We need to know the industry. We need to be in tight coordination with the product team and the engineering teams. We have to be in quite, you know, concert with sales.

Dana Barrett - Right.

Jodi Sweeney - And so it really is a very cross-functional organization and team, who needs to understand all of those different pieces, and then be able to differentiate and decide, what are the most important things to the customer, and then to the marketplace.

Dana Barrett - Yeah, yeah.

Jodi Sweeney - Because sometimes you can't do everything, and so I think really understanding the customer and the industry, what priorities need to happen, and making sure that that's good. Most importantly, for our customers, for our employees, and obviously the company too.

Dana Barrett - Right, no, if I'm on the other side and I'm the client and this is sort of something that DFIN is really, you know digging into now- am I going to feel the difference as a client?

Jodi Sweeney - You know, we hope that it's not something that switches from night, you know, on off switch. Right?

Dana Barrett - Sure, sure.

Jodi Sweeney - So I think it's like anything, it will be a transformation over time, and that hopefully it will be something in a period of time you'll look back and say, wow, that has changed, and it's for the better.

Dana Barrett - Yeah, yeah.

Jodi Sweeney - But I don't think it will be something that tomorrow you wake up, and you feel something's completely different. We want to take them on the journey with us, and we want to be on the journey with them.

Dana Barrett - Okay, I want to now talk about the journey.

Jodi Sweeney - Okay.

Dana Barrett - Because you said journey. I know we've already been sort of talking about it, but what is the journey? How do you come in and not sort of disrupt, you're new, you're coming in to this organization that's very large and has a lot of, you know, disparate parts that hopefully are working together pretty well, but you're coming in to sort of be almost more glue to bring all these groups together. How do you do that without being disruptive?

Jodi Sweeney - You know, I think part of it is really appreciating the heritage that comes with DFIN. I mean, they have a great reputation. They have a great customer base.

Dana Barrett - Yeah.

Jodi Sweeney - Amazing employees and I think you have to listen and learn in the beginning and so I think there are things that I know from my past in terms of what I think may be able to work or not work. But you can't really do any of that until you really understand the landscape and everything's a little bit different. There's not just one recipe that will get it, you know that will bake the cake. So I think, you know, in the very beginning it's really listening and learning, understanding where there's value, where we can differentiate as a customer, and really listening to the employee and customer base about what's working, where there's opportunities for improvement, and where we can innovate next.

Dana Barrett - It's going to be very interesting to see. I hope we get to talk again, like, you know next year and see, you know kind of how it's been and you know, what's been happening in this world and how it's, you know, impacting DFIN at the bottom line really, or with their customers. So talk a little bit about what drew you to this position. Like what made you want to come to DFIN? You obviously have mentioned already, their reputation is good and they've been around a long time. They have a great suite of products. We know all of that, but was there something specific about the challenge that was exciting for you?

Jodi Sweeney - Yeah, I think the last few jobs I've taken, it's the transformation that they're undergoing.

Dana Barrett - Yes.

Jodi Sweeney - And really, you know, I think they're at a great point in time in terms of what they've already accomplished, and what they've done, and really the next step in the journey of really ramping up where they want to be in terms of a software company, and what that can mean, to the services organization and to our customers. So I think, you know, the biggest pull was really where they are in their journey and their transformation.

Dana Barrett - Yeah.

Jodi Sweeney - I think is exciting, and I do think, I hopefully can add a lot of value to that. I think, you know, knowing that it is such a great service organization already today and that they're delivering. I, you know, we were listening earlier to a lot of the customers and listening to the videos and a lot of them were talking about, one of the reasons that they chose DFIN was for their great services and support, and to be able to come into an existing organization that really just delivers so much value is pretty impressive.

Dana Barrett - Right, so you're not having to come clean up a big mess. You're coming into something that's already good and making it even better.

Jodi Sweeney - Yes, yeah and then I think, you know, it's really, they've done such a great job up to now, And for me it's like, what's the next step and where can we continue to enhance that?

Dana Barrett - Well, and I have to assume there's a certain amount of how do we make it, you know, repeatable, trainable, so that everybody that comes in brand new knows that this is how we deliver our service, and this is how we create this experience.

Jodi Sweeney - And that's what growth is, right? And then it's growth for our customers and that's growth for us is to be able to, as you continue to grow as a company, you do want standardized processes and systems and tools. It makes it easier for our customers to understand, and it's also really good for our employees.

Dana Barrett - Yeah, very much.

Jodi Sweeney - Yeah.

Dana Barrett - All right, before we wrap it up, is there anything you're particularly looking forward to in the next 12 months, in terms of growth, change, departments you want to work with, products you want to work with? I mean, this is a different industry. You know, it's still a software company and a services company, but it's a different industry than what you've been in. Is there anything in particular that you're sort of jazzed about?

Jodi Sweeney - I mean, I think all, I think my career has always been about changing industries, to be honest.

Dana Barrett - Yeah, me too.

Jodi Sweeney - You know, I've done different industries and that's what I like. And so for me, it is about learning this industry and being able to take really the past and the present and the future and kind of making sure that we have like a roadmap, you know, to success moving forward. So I'm really excited about meeting the teams, understanding what they currently do today, where we can move forward, and really getting to meet our customers, which I'm really excited about.

Dana Barrett - Awesome, well, Jodi, thank you so much for jumping in on this interview. Just brand new to the company. I really, really appreciate it.

Jodi Sweeney - It's been a lot of fun. Thank you so much Dana.

Dana Barrett - Absolutely. This has been the insider by DFIN, we'll see you next time.

This has been the Insider by DFIN. We'll see you next time.