Katrina Schiedemeyer of Oshkosh: "A cross-functional VoC group enables each department to have a CX expert ... and allows diversity of thought."

Katrina Schiedemeyer is passionate about understanding how customer experience (CX) tools and principles can positively impact engagement.

“In customer focus groups, we utilize two metrics — Candor Score and Engagement Score — to understand how eager our customers are to engage with us and how open or evasive they are in our discussions with their answers,” she said. “This helps us understand what feedback is most valuable — for example, an evasive customer may not provide the best data.”

Schiedemeyer is currently senior engineer, global procurement and supply chain at Oshkosh, a manufacturer of vehicles used commercially and by emergency services and the military. Her primary responsibilities include leading Oshkosh’s customer experience program and collaborating with its suppliers to ensure successful relationships.

Evaluate Customers’ Candor and Eagerness to Engage

Schiedemeyer joined Oshkosh in May 2016 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh with a degree in supply chain management. She first became interested in customer experience while leading Lean and Six Sigma projects.

“As I dove into the root-cause-analysis of these projects (part shortages, hydraulic leaks, etc.), I wanted to understand the metrics impacted by them,” she said. “I quickly learned each one of these problems were linked directly to customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction).”

Through using a combination of interviews and focus groups, Schiedemeyer was able to dive deeper into problems to examine not only the customer journey, but also the employee and the supplier experiences.

In focus groups, Schiedemeyer uses the subjective 1-5 Likert scale rating, where 1 equals "evasive," and 5 equals "candid," to evaluate how eager customers are to engage in dialogue and to rate how candid they are.

“Is someone sharing information with you to genuinely solve the root cause of a problem? If so, great — continue to collaborate,” she said. “Is someone’s body language suggesting they do not want to engage in the conversation? If so, perhaps you are eliciting a neurobiological stress response. Are there any actions you can take to make it a more engaging discussion?”

Schiedemeyer is a speaker at CMSWire’s DX Summit taking place Nov. 4 through 6 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Chicago. She is giving a session at the conference titled “Scaling VoC Culture Across the Organization,” on Nov. 5.

We spoke with Schiedemeyer to elicit her best-practice advice on building a voice of the customer (VoC) program; her recommendations on creating cross-functional VoC teams; and her thoughts on the importance of employee engagement.

Use VoC Skills to Improve the Entire Order-to-Cash Experience

CMSWire: What do you see as the most important trends in digital customer experience today? In your opinion, what kinds of digital customer experience will become possible within the next five years?

Schiedemeyer: As technocentrism becomes more prevalent, customer experience needs to become more human-centric.

Many organizations turned to automated surveys, AI and robocalls. However, humans are overwhelmed with the amount of automation and the decrease in human connection. This is resulting in many organizations turning back to human-centric customer experience centers (CECs).

Despite the technological evolution we are experiencing, the basic human need for Maslow’s "Love and Belonging" is still prevalent. It is important for CECs to embrace creative problem solving and to fulfill self-actualization needs without forgetting about the need for human belonging.

I expect the next five years to include the development of technology to automate standard processes, resulting in more capacity for humans to connect with each other.

CMSWire: How has Oshkosh’s voice of the customer (VoC) program and research directly impacted customer experience and its manufacturing process? What’s next for VoC at Oshkosh?

Schiedemeyer: At Oshkosh, we are committed to creating an outstanding experience not only for our customers, but also for our suppliers.

We are utilizing CX tools and CEM platforms to understand what our supplier experience is and to improve it. Just as CEM tools, surveys and focus groups can provide information on an organization’s NPS (Net Promoter Score) for external customers, it can also be used to assess supplier success, capacity management, etc.

Oshkosh is constantly innovating to find new ways to enhance our VoC skills to improve the entire experience from order creation to cash collection. 

CMSWire: What advice would you give organizations keen to start or revamp a VoC program? How should they approach creating a cross-functional VoC team in terms of which roles to include and encouraging team collaboration? 

Schiedemeyer: I highly recommend anyone starting a VoC program begins by developing an ambassador program. When starting a VoC program, many companies are on a fixed budget, therefore, it is difficult and often expensive to hire new CX professionals to join your team.

An ambassador program is created by developing a few key top-talent (non-CX) team members within your organization to teach them the VoC skills necessary to be successful. These team members will receive an incredible professional development opportunity to enhance their VoC and leadership skills and you will gain a network of VoC influencers to help the program grow.

I like to select team members in each functional group — IT, engineering, marketing, supply chain, etc. This diverse cross-functional group enables each department to have a CX expert to ask questions, and also allows our program to have diversity of thought. 

CMSWire: Alongside VoC, why is it so important that organizations measure employee engagement and create a voice of the employee program? How might a company ensure that it’s regularly capturing employee engagement?

Schiedemeyer: Employee engagement is one of my favorite topics because it requires a high attention to detail and patience to master.

Many organizations confuse positive scores with high success — in reality, this may not always be true. Oftentimes, team members may simply rate employee engagement as high due to low trust or to simply "put the check in the box" on completing the survey.

Sometimes, a lower score is a positive indicator that your team is ready to open up. To combat this, I’ve found that creating high-trust focus groups is an incredibly beneficial way to remove the mask of the computer and dive into the root cause of the problem.

A wonderful leader taught me the skill of humble inquiry and avoiding emotional reactions to feedback. By capturing feedback often via face-to-face and frequent surveys, an organization is able to create a high-trust culture while receiving regular and actionable feedback. 

CMSWire: What has been your best vacation so far? What made that trip and experience so memorable? If you were encouraging someone else to visit the same place, what would you recommend that they see and do, and why?

Schiedemeyer: My family and I are incredibly adventurous — think impromptu flights to Budapest, kayaking around volcanoes in New Zealand, and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.

While all of the trips are amazing, my favorite trip is still with my family to Europe this past summer. My family loves to share knowledge with each other. It was so exciting to listen to my family teach me about some of the great wonders this world has to offer.

I highly recommend anyone going to Italy takes time to connect with the locals. Some of my favorite memories of the trip were the friends we made with the local shop owners, restaurant staff, etc. If you are genuinely interested, people will open their hearts up to you and teach you the beauty the world has to offer.

Learn more about the Digital Customer Experience (DX) Summit .