Meet the CX Network LIVE speaker: Director of Customer Experience at Amtrak

Amtrak’s Director of CX discusses key learnings from their digital customer experience transformation journey.




Our next CX Network LIVE virtual conference is taking place next month, and we’re very excited to introduce our first speaker today. Waves Mowatt-Kane is the Director of Customer Experience, Customer Insights and Digital Analytics at Amtrak, the National Passenger Railroad of the United States. 

Within her current role, she leads the design of Amtrak’s new digital omni-channel platform and next generation customer experience. As a CX Leader, Mowatt-Kane has developed methods for working with multi-disciplinary teams that create focus on human-centered design.

Over the past 18 years, she has led global technology transformations for such companies as Sprint, AOL, Northrup Grumman and the Corporate Executive Board, where she served in leadership roles directing customer-centric enterprise initiatives. 

SEE ALSO: How travel & hospitality brands can thrive through CX


Mowatt-Kane describes herself as a story designer, CX strategist and technologist, enabling companies to transform their culture, digital footprint and integrate the voice of the customer into their brand’s story.  

At CX Network LIVE: The Smart Customer Experience she will be presenting a session titled Preparing Your Internal Culture for a Digital Customer Experience Transformation. Today she gives a sneak peek at what’s in store for audience members, and she talks about the digital CX transformation at Amtrak.

Hi Waves, first of all, tell us three things we should know about you! 

  1. I lead the design of Amtrak’s new digital omni-channel platform and CX team.

  2. Amtrak CX, for which I led the team, was a honouree for the 2018 Webby Award for Best User Experience.

  3. I was one of the first women to graduate with a MBA and MA degree from the prestigious MAMBA Design Leadership program at Johns Hopkins University and Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

Excellent, thanks for that introduction. You’ll be presenting at CX Network LIVE next month, why should people attend your session?

As you embark on your digital customer experience transformation, have you considered how important it is to prepare your team for the challenges that this change will create? Especially in an omni-channel world. How do you connect the customer dots, while maintaining or creating a customer-centric company culture?

In my webinar I will explore how technology and innovation are not the only bridges CX leaders will have to cross to work smarter with their teams in driving through change. Ask yourself this: is your organisation structured for the transformation you desire?

“As you embark on your digital customer experience transformation, have you considered how important it is to prepare your team for the challenges that this change will create?”


What will they uniquely take away from it?


I will help attendees evaluate whether or not their teams might be ready for change as they shift focus to a customer-first digital world. I will look at:

  1. Culture: when legacy thinking creates fear of innovation

  2. Analytics: Guardrails for data-driven decisions

  3. Leadership: Have you prepared your team for teamwork?

The theme of the event is The Smart Customer Experience. We’re always talking about ‘working smarter, not harder’, but what has been the best thing you’ve achieved to make this a reality for the CX strategy of your organisation?

Working as a team to change the internal organisational conversation to focus on human-centered design and customer-centric products and services. The transition allowed me to create models for customer insight and testing.

Sounds interesting! Can you tell us more about those models? How have they changed the CX you’re providing?

Managers are asked to first determine both the success and failure criteria for testing. Also, teams must agree if a test fails within the prescribed time window, then coordinated decision points are orchestrated. They must agree together, without emotion, what will constitute success and failure as well as what course of action to take if a given test fails. This method allows you to fail fast and limit stakeholder conflict.

And on the flip side, what has been the biggest CX challenge you’ve overcome in your role? What steps did you take to tackle this obstacle?

Patience. Understanding that the pace of your cultural transformation may be dictated by the pace of leadership adoption. As a leadership team we have to build infrastructure that supports teamwork, minimises channel thinking and facilitates change.

“In my webinar I will explore how technology and innovation are not the only bridges CX leaders will have to cross to work smarter with their teams in driving through change.”


That’s so true, how did you build this infrastructure?
 
As managers we should examine performance measures to determine whether or not we are actually creating an environment of ‘competition vs. teamwork’.  If employees are evaluated on their ability to surpass each other, then it’s difficult to foster teamwork and an omni-channel customer-first cultural shift.

What trend, innovation or disruption do you believe will make the greatest splash in customer experience in 2019 – and, if applicable, how are you preparing for this now?

Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.  While I can’t share specific strategy, I can tell you we are keeping our eyes on the horizon and determining the best integrated solution for our customers.

Are you able to share what parts of AI you’re looking at for Amtrak? Is it chatbots, for example, or automation?

Unfortunately, I am not able to share. However, at Amtrak it is important that we continue to create solutions that are easy, personal and intuitive by utilising the latest technologies.

“That the pace of your cultural transformation may be dictated by the pace of leadership adoption.”



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For more insights on CX in travel, check out this podcast interview with the VP of Customer Experience at from Canadian low-cost leisure airline Air Transat.




Finally 3 quick-fire questions…

What is the best customer experience you have ever received?

One of the best customer experiences I’ve received was VCU Health Neuroscience and Wellness Center and their use of beacons and a concierge engagement. For a standard appointment you are greeted at the front desk, then given a bracelet. A beacon is clipped to your shirt and you are provided with an examination room number, in the same manner you check in to a great hotel. The beacon notifies the doctor when you have arrived at the examination room so there is no delay in interaction.

What is the most overrated CX buzzword – and why?

Personalisation. You have to have a deep understanding of your customer before you can really integrate a personalised experience. Simply learning a customer’s name and minor interests is not enough. You must challenge yourself and your team to use every avenue to better understand your customer.

And, finally, what has been the biggest CX learning from your career to date?

There are three things:

  1. The importance of keeping a data driven understanding of the wants, needs and desires of your customers through multiple interaction points across the journey.

  2. The importance of leadership planning for cultural change.

  3. The importance of a sound integration plan for legacy systems and data.

Wonderful, thanks so much for sharing these great learnings with us today!

“You have to have a deep understanding of your customer before you can really integrate a personalised experience.”


Would you like to hear more from Waves Mowatt-Kane on Preparing Your Internal Culture for a Digital Customer Experience Transformation? Make sure you register today for CX Network LIVE: The Smart Customer Experience to attend her session and join the live Q&A straight after!