“I’m not a supply chain expert, but I have tried to buy before. And I have been a government agency executive that has worked with procurement folks before. One thing I know for sure is that we need great suppliers and great vendors to create great experiences for customers.”
Stephanie Thum, Founding Partner, Practical CX
The field of customer experience management (or “CX”) has only formally been around since the early 2000’s, but it has quickly grown to be one of the most important areas of investment for companies. Whether they have responsibility for big companies, small companies, startups, or government organizations, leadership teams want to make sure their customers are happy, and that success stories reach new prospective customers.
Stephanie Thum, a Founding Partner of Practical CX, comes to customer experience management with a background in journalism and communications. Both have proven essential in roles focused finding practical ways to build value-driven loyalty between companies and their customers.
In this podcast interview, Stephanie talks about CX with Supply Chain Now Co-hosts Greg White and Scott Luton:
· The impact CX is about to have on the supply chain industry and how companies can be prepared to implement meaningful programs that are successful in the long term
· The importance of context to creating a customer experience that provides solutions for customer needs and problems
· How CX is actually a critical component of well-rounded risk management programs
Intro – Amanda Luton (00:05):
It’s time for supply chain. Now broadcasting live from the supply chain capital of the country. Atlanta, Georgia heard around the world, supply chain. Now spotlights the best in all things, supply chain, the people, the technologies, the best practices and the critical issues of the day. And now here are your hosts.
Scott Luton (00:28):
Hey, good afternoon, Scott Luton and Greg white with you here on supply chain. Now, welcome to today’s show Greg, how are you doing? I’m doing great. I’m pretty excited about this. We’re going to talk about some transformational analytics for supply chain. We are, and you know, this is going to be a unique show. If you look at our 415 or so episodes, this is really the first time we’re focusing on the area. We’ve got a business we’re going to industry leader. That is also a huge thought leader in the world of customer experience. And this is going to be our first really dedicated show to this, this topic. So I’m excited. I’m ready to learn something or you I’m sure anybody who listens to us knows that I don’t care much about customer experience, right? That is not something in about every single show. So that’s right.
Scott Luton (01:11):
Um, yeah, I’m excited. So more to come on our guest speaker in just a second, but Hey, quick programming note, if you enjoy today’s episode, be sure to find us and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from. So you don’t miss a single thing. All right. So Greg, with no further ado, let’s welcome in our featured guests here today. Stephanie tomb, founding principal at practical CX. Stephanie, how are you doing? Hey Stephanie. Hi guys. How are you? Good, good. We’re doing really well. Uh, really enjoyed, uh, our collaboration, especially kinda around Sapphire. Now the big SAP event, your, your ears may have been burning because we’ve been keeping you on our radar. We’d love your in particular on Twitter, of course, other plenty of the platforms, but I love the content and just your general approach on Twitter. It’s, it’s very unique.
Stephanie Thum (02:00):
I haven’t, I have a good time, you know, I’ve been on for like 11 years and you know, it’s so good.
Scott Luton (02:05):
It really is. And I’ve learned a ton, just speaking for myself, Greg’s an expert and everything. But speaking for myself, I’m new to this formal school of thought around customer experience. I’ve got a background of six Sigma of core service levels, which we’ll talk more about. And, and, and for that matter, the voice of the customer is, is the North star in supply chain, but really geared up about this interview and picking your brain. So Greg, why don’t we dive right in? Let’s do that. So we know where you are now, you’re in the DC area, but we’d love to hear where you’ve come from and how you got there. So tell us a little bit about where you’re from your childhood, any life shaping moments or anything.
Stephanie Thum (02:49):
Well, I grew up in rural, Missouri, Southeast, Missouri, and the boot Hill of Missouri, kind of halfway in between Memphis and st. Louis. Um, I got my degree from Arkansas state university while working three jobs and a master’s degree at Duquesne university in Pittsburgh. And now I’m a part time PhD student at Indiana tech growing up in Southeast Missouri. Yeah. Learned a lot. Um, you know, as far as our baseline about what we need to think about and consider in customer experience. And I know it may sound a little bit weird, but we can get more into that.
Greg White (03:23):
So were you around Hannibal ms?
Stephanie Thum (03:26):
No, I grew up in Canada, Poplar bluff, which is way down there in the boot Hill, almost into Arkansas.
Greg White (03:31):
Yeah. Um, so I lived in Springfield. We did a lot of, uh, before you did it for money fast before they were bass pro tournaments, they were just fast turn shops founded in Springfield. Right.
Stephanie Thum (03:45):
Lots of great fishing in the area.
Greg White (03:47):
Yeah. Amazing. That’s a, that’s a great part of the world. So that’s really impressive of noodling we’re we’re we’re folks, you know, get into the lakes and they catch catfish with our hands. I don’t know about that. I don’t know where the home is, but I know it’s been done there. I might know somebody personally who’s done it. Um, so, but it is, and it’s always done in the darkest dankest nastiest water because that’s where catfish are. Wow. Not for me. Sorry. I was noodling there a little bit. Um, let’s talk about any life shaping moments, which we now know was not noodling thankfully for you. Cause that’s a great opportunity to drink a lot of Lake water. But, um, tell us, tell us a little bit about your childhood and, you know, may tell us someone or somebody that had a big impact on,
Stephanie Thum (04:38):
Oh my gosh. Well, you know, my step grandparents owned a farm and um, some of my best life lessons were learned on that farm about hard work and community and mindfulness and resourcefulness. And I think it’s a kind of a funny story. My step grandparents had chickens on their farm and my sisters and I sort of had this contest where every day we would take turns and we would go out to the hog house to collect eggs. And it was sort of a contest. Whoever could bring in the most eggs, you know, we were sort of the winner. It wasn’t any big contest. It was for cool points, namely. And one day I went out to collect the eggs. It was my, my turn and I grabbed a tin pale as I always do and went out and gathered the eggs from that, um, from the hog house and I got seven eggs and it was like, whew, you know, this is the big jackpot.
Stephanie Thum (05:26):
And I was, you know, maybe 10 or 11 years old. And I was so proud and I was walking back up to the farmhouse, swinging that pale and I dropped it. Yes, you knew where this was going, didn’t you Greg? And I dropped it and those eggs broke. And that was my first lesson for me in mindfulness learned on that farm. And you know, when I think about customer experience and where my career has gone, that mindfulness and those lessons on that arm, not just the mindfulness, but the resourcefulness and sense of community have kind of shaped where I kind of went in life.
Greg White (06:03):
There are so many tough lessons learned on a farm or ranch and, and you’re always, you’re always generously forgiven when something like that happens,
Stephanie Thum (06:12):
My grandmother kind of laughed and it was just like, Oh, well,
Scott Luton (06:16):
Yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s such a great word. Mindful, Greg, that’s the word we don’t hear enough. And this, this concept of mindfulness and, and that picture, that the story you just shared paint such a perfect visual for that. Uh, so really appreciate you sharing that. That’s um, I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna talk to my three kids this afternoon about mindfulness space, this conversation. Yeah. Somehow I was picturing the front porch, uh, from the house and secondhand lions and heading across the yard up to that. So, well, that, that’s really interesting. So, you know, from Missouri, is that, did you spend your whole youth growing up in that area? The state or country?
Stephanie Thum (06:58):
So I’ve, I’ve moved around in my career. I’m a 22 year military spouse. So I’ve been accompanying my spouse as we’ve traveled around for the last 22 years as an army family. So we’ve lived in several places.
Greg White (07:12):
I’ve always been fascinated by that. You know, Scott’s from the air force, I’m from an air force town. So I had a lot of friends for two years and my, I was a Kmart brat, which is a lot like billing being a military brat, except you never did anything good for your country. So I can empathize with that moving around thing. It creates a certain dynamic in you. You can evaluate people really rapidly and that sort of thing. How did that rub off on you?
Stephanie Thum (07:38):
I was very fortunate, you know, to have the internet. Um, and it was different. I remember when, um, the, my, our life together started in my grandmother. Um, who’s passed now. Um, told me some things about waiting for my grandfather in world war two. And it’s just, there’s so much less to complain about now, you know, compared to where we have been, but I had the internet. And so because of the internet, there were opportunities to find other military spouses to lean on and to become friends with. And I’m still friends with a lot of them now after 20
Greg White (08:13):
For several years. Uh, your husband’s, uh, he’s about to retire, right? Full bird Colonel. Yes. Did you work while he was on active duty?
Stephanie Thum (08:21):
Yes. Um, actually one of the jobs that I had was really instrumental in sort of catapulting me forward in the field and practice of customer experience. I, after graduate school, went to work for the big four accounting firm of Ernst and young. We were living in Pittsburgh at the time. That was one of the places that we live. We also lived in st. Louis and Columbus, Ohio, but my, my time, my nine or so years there instant young was really kind of where I started with, uh, having Eureka moments, I guess. So to speak around customer experience.
Greg White (08:51):
Were you on those projects? I assume you were doing projects, but well, on those projects, were you helping design or design processes for retailers or what, was there a segment of the, of the marketplace that you worked with particularly?
Stephanie Thum (09:09):
So let me tell you a story. I went to Ernst and young to work on business development. And, um, I worked on as I started proposals and proposals where the big place where I started, you know, I came from a communication background. My undergraduate degree is in broadcasting. My master’s degree is in corporate communication. So I started working on proposals, but I had a background in journalism. And while I was at Ernst and young, they started this program and they, um, hired some up-and-coming people in the firm to go out and form this well, they formed this new group and this group was supposed to go out and talk one on one with the biggest clients, the at risk clients, the high revenue clients to find out what’s working well, what could be better? What were our, what were our risks? Um, what were the business development opportunities?
Stephanie Thum (09:58):
And it was really your early voice of the customer program. So I joined this group and that’s kind of where I got my start. That’s where I got bitten by the CX bug, because I would sit down with these clients, these fascinating CEOs, CEOs, CFOs, and they would talk about the connection between their buying choices as to why they decided to work with Ernst and young versus a competitor. And it had nothing to do with the proposals I was working on and it had everything to do or a beautiful advertisement. It had nothing to do with that at all. It had to do with, you know, could they get their tax attorney on the phone? Could they get a place to park where the bills, right. And so bam, all of a sudden, we’re talking about experiences, experiences that lead to buying choices that lead to our livelihoods. And so that’s really where I was bitten. And that was one of the roles that I had, um, early on in my career and live in his life.
Greg White (10:56):
So you were sort of an internal consultant to one of the biggest consulting agencies in the world, right?
Stephanie Thum (11:02):
Well, you know, I had a journalism background, you know, I know I love stories. I’ve always loved stories. And when I started sitting down with these clients, I started figuring out where that story intersects with business development and bam, you know, we’re talking about how do we need to adjust our processes? How do we need to be measuring and monitoring and triaging red flags internally with our clients to make sure that they don’t go to one of our competitors. And so that was early two thousands. So that was kind of before we were really even calling this thing, customer experience, customer experience
Greg White (11:38):
May not have even had much of a name at that point, right?
Stephanie Thum (11:41):
No, no. The work that I was doing was, um, if we look back at it now, it would be voice of the customer and governance. That was really, you know, how we would classify it now.
Greg White (11:51):
So I’m curious what described is what maybe may have been your biggest, but I’m curious about any that, or, you know, expanding on that or any other kind of Eureka moments that you had in your career. I mean, what, was there a point where something really shifted your point of view?
Stephanie Thum (12:12):
That story that I just told you was a huge shift because the story that we had been told all through, you know, late eighties, when I was high school going into college in the nineties coming up, you know, it was sales, marketing, sales, marketing, sales, marketing, and nothing about experience, but I just knew, you know, I felt, you know, I felt it, um, all along the way that something wasn’t quite right, you know, you don’t just sell somebody something unless they need it and they don’t keep coming back unless there’s a reason why. And so it started to sort of evolve through customer experience. It sort of was, uh, maybe, uh, uh, the dim started getting brighter to, to understand what that was and that’s what we were working on. That’s what we were developing at the time. And now we have a term for it.
Greg White (12:59):
It’s really interesting how often it takes to make a critical breakthrough. Right? The breakthrough moment is what I think people often remember. Um, but how long it takes to get to that level of awareness is interesting. And I think that’s a good lesson for listeners. If you feel like something is missing, it probably is. And you may not be able to put your finger on it, but if you keep looking for it, if you keep seeking that thing that you can’t put your finger on, you will have that aha moment.
Stephanie Thum (13:34):
I agree with you, trust your gut. That’s one of the things that I wish that I’d learned earlier in my career to trust my gut.
Greg White (13:41):
Yeah, well, I, you know, I think in our era or our early era, you were, you were taught to believe that the, the old guard had the answers and you were to learn the answers from them. And I think that the fortunate happenstance for the generations that are coming into and, and taking over the workplace today is they were not taught that, right. They were taught by us children of hippy parents, most of us, right. Um, question authority, right. Or ask as my mother, the big mistake my mother made, uh, once was to say, Hey, ask forgiveness, not permission. She regretted that the rest of our living life.
Greg White (14:20):
But I think that that’s a, that’s an important awakening, uh, for folks. And I think that’s been an important shift in our, uh, in our society, frankly. Right. Agreed. All right. So let’s bring things forward. I love that. Um, how you said you you’re bitten by the CX bug in that, in that pivotal role at E and Y that internal console, that that’s such a great story for how you really found maybe your calling and, and, and, and really had the basis of what now you’re, you’re helping so many others with this customer experience, regardless of what, when, when that became the name for it, my hunches, everyone kind of knew what it was, but it wasn’t such a formal, deliberate direction to dive in and study and, and, you know, build best practices around. So that’s, is that a lot of what you do now as founding principal at practical CX?
Stephanie Thum (15:13):
So, you know, my sweet spot happens to be content and customer experience and governance and voice of the customer, collecting those stories, synthesizing them, and then putting frameworks in place to take action on them. But also, you know, content does have a significant role in how customers experience your product, your service. I mean, anybody who’s ever bought anything from Ikea and tried to make sense out of the directions, knows what I’m talking about with respect to, to content, having a role in the experience that you have with something. So at practical CX, I work with big companies, small companies, startups, and government organizations to help them kind of put it all together in ways that makes sense for them. There’s so much advice out there now it’s kind of a crowded space from a consultant perspective, and there’s a lot of confusion. And so what I want to do is help my clients make sense of what’s gonna matter all of the tools that are in the toolbox. You don’t have to use them all, but what’s going to make the most sense for your business and in the context of your customer base,
Scott Luton (16:10):
Let me back up just a smidge. W when did you, did you, you found this the firm, right? Yes. So what was the, um, the moment the epiphany you had where you said, you know what, not only am I an expert and, and, uh, a, um, uh, I was gonna use the word preacher, but I’m trying to a guru, a guru in customer experience. What was that moment and say, you know what, this is my calling. I’m going to found the company and we’re going to go out there and help others. What I’ve learned.
Stephanie Thum (16:40):
I have to give credit to my network, to my colleagues and my friends who were knocking on my door over the year saying, I got this thing. Can you help me? Um, you know, I got this problem. I know you got a full time gig, but could you just give me five hours a week? Or could you help me out with this? And, um, and that the continuing message was, I don’t know what to do. I’m hearing this over here. And now that we’re here, help me make sense of this. And, um, actually one day my husband and I were out on a long walk, and I said, I’m going to call it practical. I’m going to call it practical CX, because that’s what my clients and the people who are knocking on my door were looking for. They wanted practical solutions, amidst all of the, the advice that’s out there as what made sense for their business. And just having, you know, 15, 20 years of experience now and understanding all the tools that are in the toolbox and having just a natural inclination at wanting to understand more about tech and AI and all of the things that are out there that create experiences. Now, I kind of know what’s in the immediate toolbox and what’s going to be available to assume. So being able to put all of that together as something that my clients have continued to value
Scott Luton (17:53):
Love it. And, and, and how, how long ago did you found it?
Stephanie Thum (17:57):
Um, almost a year ago.
Scott Luton (17:59):
And it’s the culmination of doing this for so long, and I love how you can put it. I know you’ve got a full time gig, but give me just five hours a week and there’s just things just build up. So it makes so much sense. And before we move any further, Greg, I know that that story speaks volumes to you, way in what what’d you hear there? Well, I mean, what I think is people should recognize when there is an opportunity, right? And that I can tell you this, if you have any question, whether a business or going out on your own is, is the right thing to do, then listen, listen to those that are asking you, right. Um, there’s no better way. And I, I mean, you know, I advise tech companies all the time. You need friends and family, you need not, not just for investment, but also as customers, you need someone who hires you because they trust you, right. As much as they appreciate your skill. And that, that becomes a really, really important, important part of any business, because the truth is your business practical for now. It is you and, and a technology company is too. It is the founder until it reaches a certain threshold. So it has to be about you and your network and those people that trust you. And when people express that, it’s a great opportunity to make the leap.
Stephanie Thum (19:26):
It’s such an honor to be trusted. And I see that more clearly now than before, and most definitely agree with everything. Yeah.
Greg White (19:34):
This is why we have this business too, is, you know, so many people they know, and they trust Scott Luton. And, you know, that’s not just the people who grace us with their presence like you, but it’s the people who sponsor some of our shows. It’s, and it’s the people who listen, frankly, because they know they’re going to get something great. Just like your, your friends and colleagues who came to you to deliver that. So I have, can I shift gears a little bit? Sure. And I have a question about your philosophy on CX, because w I think we talked a little bit briefly about this pre show, but I have long thought, and I know you’re not a supply chain expert, but you have had some conversations about it. And I think you did stay at a holiday Inn last night. So, um, I know you didn’t, I know you didn’t, um, but there are probably people in our audience who don’t even know what that means.
Greg White (20:34):
Anyway, marketing campaign, it worked for awhile. Um, but, um, I have long thought that we in supply chain and I’d love to get your opinion on this. We in supply chain are just one step short in terms of our goals or in terms of, uh, being the intent of our goals. And CX has come to the fore in the last five years or so as something that retailers are really, uh, knowledgeable about. And I think, and, and I think consumer brands and that sort of thing, but I think we in the supply chain practice need to recognize that customer experience is our goal. That is the end goal, right? A great customer experience is our end goal. And we’ve used other terms like perfect order or, you know, complete fulfillment or even service level 99% service level to equate to that. And to me, I think service level, which we have typically used as a, as a metric is just a subset of, of CX and CX that experience that keeps customers trusting you and coming back is really, that’s really the end goal. So I’m just curious of your thoughts about how CX plays into some of these other goals and metrics in a company.
Stephanie Thum (21:55):
Well, you’re swirling around the truth, you’re swirling and you’re, you guys are about to land on it. It sounds like the supply chain world is about to land on this. It’s really important. You know, when we think about CX being more important than ever before, we have to keep a clear view of what we’re talking about. When we talk about customer experience, because they’re our customer experiences, we’ve all had them. We all know them. And there is customer experience as a business discipline. And that business discipline includes competencies and skills and tools to understand from your organization and how you serve customers from the outside in, rather than the inside out voice of the customer governance practices, human centered design employee experience related metrics and measurements, and the things that we look at from a business perspective to improve our business, that actually also encapsulate customers and employees.
Stephanie Thum (22:49):
Um, you know, you, don’t just, it’s not a fleeting moment of empathy. It’s not a training program. You can’t just put on a training program and say, bam, you know, we’ve done customer experience, we’re done it, doesn’t work like that. Great experiences for customers. And for employees are deliberately designed. You use the tools in your toolbox from a CX practitioners perspective or a perspective to design those. And it’s not one of those easy breezy things. So when we try to figure out where we’re gonna land from a, from a, from a CX perspective in supply chain, it sounds like, you know, the, the operational metric you’re talking about is indeed part of that story, understanding that customer story from the outside in you also need some other things. You know, you need to understand the customer’s viewpoint on that story. If you’re going to tell the story, tell the story with data and metrics, and it could be unstructured data, it could be structured data, but figure out what makes sense for your business and it all together. But it isn’t, it usually, isn’t just one thing. It’s usually a combination of, of metrics and measurements, but that is what we do in CX as a business discipline. It’s not a one time thing. It’s not a one, four a month thing. It is a forever thing.
Scott Luton (24:00):
Sure. It’s gotta be part of the culture is what I’m hearing. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah.
Stephanie Thum (24:04):
You need, yeah. Interweave those practices and principles into the fabric of your culture.
Scott Luton (24:09):
All right. So maybe a stupid question, but I’m gonna ask anyway, well, let’s go for it. That’s all I can ask the stupid questions. So, um, it seems like you would agree that that, um, the customer experience is more important than ever before. Uh, first of all, for starters, do you agree with that right now?
Stephanie Thum (24:28):
Absolutely. Competition is crazy.
Scott Luton (24:31):
And, and so the followup question there is, is, is why, why is that you, you you’ve mentioned the, the competition word. What else is there that you think is driving customer experience and our fascination with,
Stephanie Thum (24:44):
Oh my gosh. Um, everything about context, um, you know, the context of the world that we’re living in and this, you get a different answer from different people, depending on where you are about what experience actually means to them. A CEO’s opinion is going to be different than a line employee or some, someone else it’s going to be different. Um, but every one can agree that I think everyone can agree. We’re living in weird times. I don’t know what other word to call it right now, because people are tired of hearing new, normal and next normal and COVID era, you know, but, but the fact remains, and you know, you guys were talking about this. I listen to your show yesterday with Robert too. Um, when you were talking about how there are new business problems, now that need to be solved and CX, if you think about the tools that we have available to us in CX, you know, think about putting those in your tool, shed area in your toolbox and use those as tools to help solve those business problems.
Scott Luton (25:39):
Love that. Cause it, it, it, it makes so much sense, especially from that supply chain perspective. Right. Um, let’s talk about this is, this is one of the questions I’ve just been dying to ask as part of this interview pointing to some organizations that really in your belief and your expertise really get customer experience. Right.
Stephanie Thum (25:59):
I love this question. And I think folks actually expect me to name a retailer or, or some somebody who’s really getting this right. But you know what good experiences are subjective. They really are subjective. So I’ll just tell you mine. The last time I renewed my car tax through the Virginia DMV, it took me five minutes and that was it. So, you know, for a, for a government organization that gets a lot of flack for not doing a good job, cheers to the DMV because I was able to get on and get it done. And it was hassle-free now there are others who will point to Nordstrom or Zappos or Amazon. And those are great. If those are the organizations that you use, you like the experience and you use it, you know, it’s a subjective thing.
Scott Luton (26:47):
Yeah. That’s a great point, Greg, what would you add or what would you, uh, respond to it? Yeah. So, um, you named a lot of the big names that are really good. Uh, actually you made me think of it. First of all, that’s has to be the first time that a government agency was ever mentioned on the planet as a great customer experience, frankly, when you mentioned it, when you mentioned it, I thought of my last couple of experiences at the DMV, a particular DMV facility near my house. And I don’t know why. Oh, I do know why I got a couple of new classes of driver’s license over the last couple of years. So I was there like three times in a year and a half or two. And they felt like family by the time I was there for the third time, I mean the physical experience was not unpleasant. And, um, and they were very accommodating, so it can happen anywhere, but I even, I would not have thought,
Stephanie Thum (27:44):
Well, what you’re talking about is organizations that regardless whether it’s government or private industry organizations that make things clear, consistent, they treat you well. You know, even if you’re going to be there having to wait for an hour, you know, at least they’ve got water and a place for you to sit down, you know, and they’re managing your expectations along the way. And, and, you know, you were talking about how things have changed now. Well, you know, there are, there are changing expectations around clean contactless, inclusive experiences, privacy centric experiences that have to be considered now. So, but, you know, regardless of what, whether we’re talking about the DMV or we’re talking about pennies, it’s, it’s kind of the same things about ease.
Greg White (28:24):
Well, the, the consumer is in more control of their experience than they have ever been. And there’s more ability for them to express it’s. I think this, I think the focus here started some years ago when people started being able to post reviews and then there became this great human cry to respond. At first, it started out as we’re going to respond as to why we’re so terrible at this. And then it became, as you’re talking about Stephanie, and clearly you must have ushered this in, no, we’re not, we’re going to respond and we’re going to get better. And we’re going to learn from this vast amount of data. Right,
Stephanie Thum (29:03):
Right. It’s a cultural thing. So Stephanie
Scott Luton (29:06):
Kind of piggybacking on what Greg thought there, um, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like the may transparency is a wonderful dynamic that helps fuel customer experience. Um, and, and, and this society, we live now pandemic or, or, or non pandemic, there’s more transparency than ever before. Thanks to the digital revolution. Um, but what else do you think, especially when we talk about these, I love these government, uh, agencies that are, that are great beacons of customer experience. I love hearing that because that’s been my experience here in the last few years that our, our DMV as well. So, Hey, this is going to be a level of the DMV episode. Those are hard working people, you know, so glad to hear it, but aren’t, I aren’t, we all three surprised to hear two other people say that they had a great experience. Yeah, that’s fascinating. Is there that much pressure, regardless if it’s the public sector to private sector government, is there more pressure to get customer experience? Right today?
Stephanie Thum (30:05):
Pressure is on all around. You know, I work with a lot of government organizations that advise government organizations and from a federal perspective, right now there’s a new inflection point because the president’s management agenda includes a goal on customer experience. There are now white house guidelines for federal government agencies, the big ones, they call them the high impact agencies on implementing the practices and principles of CX as a business discipline into the fabric of those cultures. So whether it’s coming to you based on what your customers are demanding from a profit perspective, legislators and bureaucrats are trying to make sure that they implement into the government, setting the pressures on all around. You know, there’s more, more, more emphasis on it than ever before. And it also, you know, is trickling into other areas. Now, you know, this, this new inflection point that we’re at, you know, it’s about more than a website experience. Now it’s about more than an app experience. You know, we’re seeing the principles and practices of CX as a business discipline trickling into risk management areas of organizations and into, you know, to your guys’ world, into the procurement ecosystem.
Scott Luton (31:11):
Perfect segue. You’re reading them on here. So as we’re speaking to, if you were speaking to our core audience, which is, you know, global end to end supply chain professionals, right. At all levels, what we get a lot of feedback from listeners that are new to the profession for that matter, that there are still students at the collegiate level working a way through, and then a big chunk, a big plurality of our audience is senior level leaders and all points in between if you’re speaking to that core demographic, why, and, and, you know, I feel like this is not a stupid question because we’ve already made the case, but what else would you add that while supply chain professionals need to pay attention to customer expense,
Stephanie Thum (31:50):
This is where it is in my mind. And you know, I’m not a supply chain expert, but I have tried to buy before. And I have been a government agency executive that has worked with procurement folks before. And one thing I know for sure is that we need great suppliers and great vendors to create great experiences for customers. We can’t do it without there being great vendors in the ecosystem. Right? And so from a, from an experience perspective, maybe you want to back up just a little bit. You might not want to call it customer experience. Maybe you want to call it experience management and take a look at the whole ecosystem. Is it easy for vendors to find you and work with you? How are your procurement rules and processes? Are you sending great vendors running the other way? Because it’s too hard to figure out it’s too convoluted to figure out your rules.
Stephanie Thum (32:38):
And, and you gotta think about that in terms of your customers. Okay. So what’s the ripple impact on your customers from a cost perspective? How about your employees, you know, are your employees having a difficult time managing disparate systems and inconsistent experiences for themselves internally? And what’s that ripple impact on your business? So think about it from an experience perspective, maybe not just customer experience, but employee experience and experience management in general, because these practices and principles that we ascribe to in customer experience, voice of the customer governance, human centered design, these are tools that work in the procurement ecosystem, the same way they work when you’re trying to solve other business problems like your website design or your app or your product, you can still apply those principles to making things smoother for the vendors and suppliers that you want in your ecosystem.
Scott Luton (33:29):
There’s so much, I’d love to dive into tech next five hours, but, but really what my favorite part of what you just shared is as you are evaluating, not just suppliers, but in reverse how, how we own board suppliers, how, how we build those relationships, you know, how our organization, at any point in time, the supply chain, how, how are we making it easy to do business with? Because you know, in any industry there for years, there are, it’s been a knack to make things difficult because this is our policy. And sometimes oftentimes there’s policies don’t even make any sense. Um, so I love what you described there and you say you’re not a supply chain expert, but Greg, I think she’s much more of a supply chain expert. And she she’s given her stuff closer to expert than novice. Can I get a package or something?
Greg White (34:17):
Yeah, actually, we’re working on that. The supply chain now, expert award, Greg, what else did you hear there that you really find intriguing before we kind of broaden the conversation, how your team’s experience impacts your customer’s experience? I immediately flashed to every time I’ve heard somebody say this darn computer would lock up now or choose to download X or, you know, this system Y right. That sort of thing. Those are the kind of things you need to think about in, in terms of some of the customer experience and ha and you also mentioned risk management. So, you know, if you’re a retailer and or a restaurant, if you’re a restaurant, for instance, a big, big company here in Atlanta with the best chicken sandwich in the world recently, recently in the last five years, diversified their vendor environment, supplier environment so that they were never out of certain products because they were having difficulty, not difficulty that was even yet impacting the consumer significantly, but they wanted to have a provision. So risk management is part of your customer experience journey as well.
Stephanie Thum (35:32):
Absolutely. Absolutely. I can tell you a little story about that if you want to hear it. So I was working in professional services and I was going to see clients to find out what was going well and what wasn’t going well. And I went out to see a client and long story short, I found out, um, was professional services setting. This client was getting the wrong bills, so they weren’t getting their bills. They were getting the bills for yet another company in another industry, in another town. So think about that in terms of the operational risk for the firm that may have just possibly run the risk of a confidentiality breach. So when you start asking your customers questions and your employees questions in the right way and start listening to them, you can get ahead of risks that you may have never even thought about it, even, you know, even the Pentagon is doing hackathons now because they want to find their risks and their vulnerabilities. So applying these thought processes to your risk frameworks, it’s the right thing to do. Um, you know, in government, the inspectors general for the veterans administration, are you now using employee and customer feedback and veteran feedback to get ahead of operational risk? So it’s not a new, it’s not, it is a sort of a new thing, but if you do it, you’re not going to be the first one. So don’t be scared.
Scott Luton (36:51):
I love it. Uh, you need to, you need to write a book full of stories. You’ve got, uh, I bet you could probably fill a whole series. That’s a great idea, Scott. I mean, think about, and imagine the stories you could get, if you haven’t experienced it yourself, that would, that would be a great series. What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you or most memorable, good thing or whatever. Right. Well, going back to the earlier point, Stephanie, it is so subjective, you know, and, and one person’s homeowner experience is the next person’s, ah, a double off the wall experience, you know, um, it, it, I’ve never really thought about as I was prepping for this conversation and really thinking about the formal business discipline as you call it customer experience, I was thinking standardized metrics and the set and the other, but it is, that’s probably one, one of the things that makes it so difficult is it’s so subjective.
Stephanie Thum (37:44):
Yeah. Because, um, it definitely is subjective. So that’s when you have to step back from a business perspective and figure out what’s going to be best for the business. And my recommendation is, think about this in terms of your strategic planning initiatives, you know, work these things into, into your plans at that level and figure out, okay, suppose we create a goal to improve the ease of doing business for customers. What does that look like? Establish your standardized metrics and measurements, which, you know, they don’t necessarily have to stay standard. If you need to change them, change them. Don’t be afraid, you know, just explain it depending on whatever environment you’re in and triage that, you know, set up your governance framework, where you’re, you’re measuring, monitoring and triaging those metrics from a customer’s perspective, your customer experience metrics, your operational metrics, your service level metrics that you’re talking about, triaging on a regular basis with a cross disciplinary team to, to move the business forward. So it needs to be at that, at that very basic level of how you run your business.
Scott Luton (38:45):
Love it. And the, one of the common themes here through this conversation is don’t be afraid. Don’t do it different, do something different. Don’t what’s the worst or the most dangerous phrase ever is because we’ve always done it that way. I mean, um,
Stephanie Thum (39:01):
You know, I, I worked with a small manufacturing company CEO, and we just wanted to start somewhere. And where was the most appropriate for him was to get his human resources person himself and his plant manager together once every 10 days or so. And they had about four metrics that they looked at, like hiring order volumes, you know, a couple of different things that they looked at and may just start it, just start somewhere. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be complex. Eventually you’re going to want one to work your way into like writing down some guidelines and getting something on paper, but just start,
Scott Luton (39:38):
Love it. No wonder a practical CX is thriving. All right. So let’s, let’s shift gears, let’s go broader. Um, and there’s no shortage of, of things getting everybody’s attention. A lot of folks, as we all know, really challenging times on a variety of levels, what’s, despite all of that, what is a trend or an issue or two that, that you’re tracking more than others kind of in the greater general business sense right now?
Stephanie Thum (40:02):
Well, kind of in the vein of some stuff we’ve been talking about one big thing on my radar is the work of the U S general services administration. And for those who don’t know, GSA is a government agency that serves other government agencies and they have what they’re calling a federal marketplace. They have right now, they’re working on it. They’ve got a team associated with this, a federal marketplace strategy. And what they’re trying to do is take the concepts and principles of CX as a business discipline and apply it to that maze of the buyer seller ecosystem. And I absolutely love this because if government can do it, why not other companies, you know, and also I love it because, you know, we’re so often in search of the low hanging fruit and the quick wins, this is not going to be a quick win.
Stephanie Thum (40:49):
So this signals that GSA and that team has the 42 to really dig in and to figure out where they can make change and adjustments and simplify the process, um, remove the barriers to entry for qualified sellers. And to me, that is something definitely worth tracking along with the new frictionless acquisition president’s management agenda goal, which is sort of in that spirit where the government needs great suppliers and great vendors to serve customers. But it’s amazed, even GSA refers to that ecosystem as amaze. And they want to smooth that out with whatever, whatever they can do, they need to focus on what they can do, because it is a very complex convoluted with a lot of rules and regulations that are not going to change overnight, but they were focusing on what they can do and they’re in it for the long haul. And that’s why I’m tracking him. And that’s why
Scott Luton (41:42):
Love it. You know, Greg, I’m all for there’s, there’s so much friction in the general climate right now. If there’s any way we can, we can make, you know, pick and choose our places where we can really make it easier and streamline it. Uh, I’m all for that, Greg, what do you say? Yeah, likewise, I mean, this is, you know, what Stephanie is describing is why we wind up with a hundred dollars screwdrivers and $500 toilet seats is because there are so many hurdles and regulations and, you know, we need this thickness of fiberglass or whatever toilet seats are made out of. And, um, you know, and they make such specific requests that it’s very, very costly when commercial grade product will do yeah. Right. Needless specs. So yeah, certainly we need to do that in government. I think likewise, uh, in, in the private sector you can do similar things, make the onboarding process is Stephanie was talking about, make it a smoother, no, your specifications, but no, the specifications also of the industry, right?
Greg White (42:46):
Why redesign a product that already exists? You can use a screwdriver and say that is sufficient quality. Anything of equivalent or greater quality is acceptable. Yeah. I think the operative word you just said there is that is a three letter word. Why and one of them and, and, and continuous improvement. Yes. It’s one of my favorites too. One of my favorite simple tools is the five. Why you apply that to problems and you really trying to get the root cause. Uh, no one why you do anything is what I’m hearing. Both of y’all speak to.
Stephanie Thum (43:18):
So you just use root cause analysis. That’s a tool in CX. So you’re saying you’re not a CX expert, but root cause analysis is one of the techniques that we have
Scott Luton (43:28):
Love that you get a certificate or a bad certificate and you get a certificate, you get certificates. All right. Well, this has been, um, uh, as, as learning or as, um, enlightening of a conversation, as we knew, it would be really glad that we could find some time and your busy schedule and our busy schedules to come together and have this customer experience conversation. So Greg, how do people get ahold of you, Stephanie? Cause you know, they’re going to want to,
Stephanie Thum (43:58):
Well, I’m on LinkedIn. I’m also on Twitter, Stephanie tomb at Stephanie tomb on Twitter, Stephanie tomb on LinkedIn, a practical CX is on Twitter and LinkedIn and it’s on the email@example.com.
Greg White (44:12):
Follow Stephanie on Twitter. It’s Kik.
Stephanie Thum (44:15):
It’s funny. I’ll follow you back. I promise I follow back.
Scott Luton (44:19):
It’s it’s unique. She’s got, what I love about it is, um, you know, Greg, you and I have a little bit of a sense of humor we’ve been accused of having and in Twitter, you know, you’ve got my, one of my favorite things. You got folks that takes Twitter very seriously, and we’ve gotten some, some ads about, you know, maintaining that sense of humor. I’ll tell ya, 20, 20, there’s no time that has needed to maintain a sense of humor, right? And to keep things, just keep the mole Hills, the size of molehills, don’t make it, you know, anything that you don’t have to, into a mountain. And that, you know, as you inform and educate your audience, Stephanie, I’ve really appreciated that sense of humor because it comes out in spades and, and it really makes our interaction, uh, not just enlightening, but really fun.
Scott Luton (45:05):
So appreciate all that you do. Stephanie tomb, uh, at practical CX. And we’ll make sure we include for our listeners ease and convenience for their experience. There you go. Make it easy for them to connect and follow you. Awesome. Thank you so much. It was so fun. Absolutely. We’ll do it again. Thank you. All right, Greg, before we wrap up, uh, one last question for you. What has been all this goodness that Stephanie has has delivered here today? What’s the one thing that you really have found the most effective or powerful or intriguing? I felt like I was aware of this. I hope that I became more aware and I hope this brings awareness to our, our viewers and listeners is that customer experience is more than, as Stephanie said, it’s more than how your website works. It’s more than how your, your, your shopping cart works and things like that.
Greg White (45:56):
It is, it is the totality of delivering a meaningful and pleasant, pleasing experience to whoever your customer is. And the thing that I really definitely did learn is whoever your other constituencies are, whether that is supplier suppliers or your employees or partners or whoever it might be. Um, I think that’s, that’s a really meaningful awakening for me. And I, I hope for our viewers and listeners as well, I’m with you, I’m with you and do something if you do it wrong, right. Don’t be afraid to do something. I love that. That was one of the common threads of this conversation. I’ve really enjoyed because now’s the time to take action for sure. Especially in the business world. Um, but on that note to our listeners, hopefully you did enjoy this conversation as much as, as I did very selfishly. Um, it was what I thought it would be. So, uh, but check us out, you know, if you enjoy these types of conversations, you can check us out at [inaudible] dot com. We’d love to hear from you, get your feedback on maybe something that you would like to hear more about, but it’s going to be customer experience. But nevertheless, we’re going to wrap up this episode, Greg, like we always do challenge our audience, just like we challenge ourselves. Hey, do good. Give forward, be the change that’s needed. And on that note, we’ll see you next time here.
Stephanie Thum is a long-time customer experience consultant and former practitioner who has spoken and written extensively on the field and practice of customer experience as a business discipline. Her experience includes work with government, B2B, technology, and nonprofit organizations. She served as one of the U.S. federal government’s first agency-level heads of customer experience from 2012-2016. During this time, she also served as an advisor to President Obama’s cross-agency task force on customer service, now known as customer experience. Her background also includes work as the Executive Strategist for CX Content for the Customer Experience Professionals Association and as the Chief Advisor for Federal CX at Qualtrics, where she counseled governments around the world on effective customer experience practices.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Adrian Purtill serves as Business Development Manager at Vector Global Logistics, where he consults with importers and exporters in various industries to match their specific shipping requirements with the most effective supply chain solutions. Vector Global Logistics is an asset-free, multi-modal logistics company that provides exceptional sea freight, air freight, truck, rail, general logistic services and consulting for our clients. Our highly trained and professional team is committed to providing creative and effective solutions, always exceeding our customer’s expectations and fostering long-term relationships. With more than 20+ years of experience in both strategy consulting and logistics, Vector Global Logistics is your best choice to proactively minimize costs while having an exceptional service level.
Joshua is a student from Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey Campus Guadalajara in Communication and Digital Media. His experience ranges from Plug and Play México, DearDoc, and Nissan México creating unique social media marketing campaigns and graphics design. Joshua helps to amplify the voice of supply chain here at Supply Chain Now by assisting in graphic design, content creation, asset logistics, and more. In his free time he likes to read and write short stories as well as watch movies and television series.
Director of Communications and Executive Producer
Donna Krache is a former CNN executive producer who has won several awards in journalism and communication, including three Peabodys. She has 30 years’ experience in broadcast and digital journalism. She led the first production team at CNN to convert its show to a digital platform. She has authored many articles for CNN and other media outlets. She taught digital journalism at Georgia State University and Arizona State University. Krache holds a bachelor’s degree in government from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans. She is a serious sports fan who loves the Braves. She is president of the Dave Krache Foundation. Named in honor of her late husband, this non-profit pays fees for kids who want to play sports but whose parents are facing economic challenges.
Vicki has a long history of rising to challenges and keeping things up and running. First, she supported her family’s multi-million dollar business as controller for 12 years, beginning at the age of 17. Then, she worked as an office manager and controller for a wholesale food broker. But her biggest feat? Serving as the chief executive officer of her household, while her entrepreneur husband travelled the world extensively. She fed, nurtured, chaperoned, and chauffeured three daughters all while running a newsletter publishing business and remaining active in her community as a Stephen’s Minister, Sunday school teacher, school volunteer, licensed realtor and POA Board president (a title she holds to this day). A force to be reckoned with in the office, you might think twice before you meet Vicki on the tennis court! When she’s not keeping the books balanced at Supply Chain Now or playing tennis matches, you can find Vicki spending time with her husband Greg, her 4 fur babies, gardening, cleaning (yes, she loves to clean!) and learning new things.
Founder, CEO, & Host
As the founder and CEO of Supply Chain Now, you might say Scott is the voice of supply chain – but he’s too much of a team player to ever claim such a title. One thing’s for sure: he’s a tried and true supply chain expert. With over 15 years of experience in the end-to-end supply chain, Scott’s insights have appeared in major publications including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and CNN. He has also been named a top industry influencer by Thinkers360, ISCEA and more.
From 2009-2011, Scott was president of APICS Atlanta, and he continues to lead initiatives that support both the local business community and global industry. A United States Air Force Veteran, Scott has also regularly led efforts to give back to his fellow veteran community since his departure from active duty in 2002.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Allison Krache Giddens has been with Win-Tech, a veteran-owned small business and aerospace precision machine shop, for 15 years, recently buying the company from her mentor and Win-Tech’s Founder, Dennis Winslow. She and her business partner, John Hudson now serve as Co-Presidents, leading the 33-year old company through the pandemic.
She holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Georgia, a Masters in Conflict Management from Kennesaw State University, a Masters in Manufacturing from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Certificate of Finance from the University of Georgia. She also holds certificates in Google Analytics, event planning, and Cybersecurity Risk Management from Harvard online. Allison founded the Georgia Chapter of Women in Manufacturing and currently serves as Treasurer. She serves on the Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation Board as its Secretary, the liveSAFE Resources Board of Directors as Resource Development Co-Chair, and on the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association Board as Membership Chair and is also a member of Cobb Executive Women. She is on the Board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s Northwest Area Councils. Allison runs The Dave Krache Foundation, a non-profit that helps pay sports fees for local kids in need.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain Now and TECHquila Sunrise
When rapid-growth technology companies, venture capital and private equity firms are looking for advisory, they call Greg – a founder, board director, advisor and catalyst of disruptive B2B technology and supply chain. An insightful visionary, Greg guides founders, investors and leadership teams in creating breakthroughs to gain market exposure and momentum – increasing overall company esteem and valuation.
Greg is a founder himself, creating Blue Ridge Solutions, a Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader in cloud-native supply chain applications, and bringing to market Curo, a field service management solution. He has also held leadership roles with Servigistics (PTC) and E3 Corporation (JDA/Blue Yonder). As a principal and host at Supply Chain Now, Greg helps guide the company’s strategic direction, hosts industry leader discussions, community livestreams, and all in addition to executive producing and hosting his original YouTube channel and podcast, TEChquila Sunrise.
Principal, Supply Chain Now
Host of Supply Chain is Boring
Talk about world-class: Chris is one of the few professionals in the world to hold CPIM-F, CLTD-F and CSCP-F designations from ASCM/APICS. He’s also the APICS coach – and our resident Supply Chain Doctor. When he’s not hosting programs with Supply Chain Now, he’s sharing supply chain knowledge on the APICS Coach Youtube channel or serving as a professional education instructor for the Georgia Tech Supply Chain & Logistic Institute’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) program and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga Center for Professional Education courses.
Chris earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University, an MBA with emphasis in Industrial Psychology from the University of West Florida, and is a Doctoral in Supply Chain Management candidate.
Host of TEKTOK
If there’s one Supply Chain ‘Pro to Know,’ it’s Karin. She’s earned the title for three years and counting – culminating in her designation as the “2020 Supply Chain Pro to Know of the Year.” Karin is also an award-winning digital supply chain, business strategy and technology marketing executive. A sought-after speaker at industry conferences, you will find her quoted in a variety of supply chain publications – and active in forums like ASCM/APICS and CSCMP.
With more than 25 years of supply chain experience, Karin spearheaded strategy and marketing for Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader and IDC MarketScape Leader, Logility. Karin has the heart of a teacher and has helped nearly 1,000 customers transform their businesses and tell their success stories. Today, she is a sought-after advisor helping high-growth B2B technology companies with everything from defining their unique value propositions to introducing new products and capturing customer success. No matter their goals, she makes sure her clients have actionable marketing strategies that help grow global revenue, market share and profitability.
Host of Digital Transformers
Kevin L. Jackson is a globally recognized Thought Leader, Industry Influencer and Founder/Author of the award winning “Cloud Musings” blog. He has also been recognized as a “Top 5G Influencer” (Onalytica 2019, Radar 2020), a “Top 50 Global Digital Transformation Thought Leader” (Thinkers 360 2019) and provides strategic consulting and integrated social media services to AT&T, Intel, Broadcom, Ericsson and other leading companies. Mr. Jackson’s commercial experience includes Vice President J.P. Morgan Chase, Worldwide Sales Executive for IBM and SAIC (Engility) Director Cloud Solutions. He has served on teams that have supported digital transformation projects for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the US Intelligence Community. Kevin’s formal education includes a MS Computer Engineering from Naval Postgraduate School; MA National Security & Strategic Studies from Naval War College; and a BS Aerospace Engineering from the United States Naval Academy. Internationally recognizable firms that have sponsored articles authored by him include Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix and IBM. Books include “Click to Transform” (Leaders Press, 2020), “Architecting Cloud Computing Solutions” (Packt, 2018), and “Practical Cloud Security: A Cross Industry View” (Taylor & Francis, 2016). He also delivers online training through Tulane University, O’Reilly Media, LinkedIn Learning, and Pluralsight. Mr. Jackson retired from the U.S. Navy in 1994, earning specialties in Space Systems Engineering, Carrier Onboard Delivery Logistics and carrier-based Airborne Early Warning and Control. While active, he also served with the National Reconnaissance Office, Operational Support Office, providing tactical support to Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
Host of Logistics with Purpose and Supply Chain Now en Español
Enrique serves as Managing Director at Vector Global Logistics and believes we all have a personal responsibility to change the world. He is hard working, relationship minded and pro-active. Enrique trusts that the key to logistics is having a good and responsible team that truly partners with the clients and does whatever is necessary to see them succeed. He is a proud sponsor of Vector’s unique results-based work environment and before venturing into logistics he worked for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During his time at BCG, he worked in different industries such as Telecommunications, Energy, Industrial Goods, Building Materials, and Private Banking. His main focus was always on the operations, sales, and supply chain processes, with case focus on, logistics, growth strategy, and cost reduction. Prior to joining BCG, Enrique worked for Grupo Vitro, a Mexican glass manufacturer, for five years holding different positions from sales and logistics manager to supply chain project leader in charge of five warehouses in Colombia.
He has an MBA from The Wharton School of Business and a BS, in Mechanical Engineer from the Technologico de Monterrey in Mexico. Enrique’s passions are soccer and the ocean, and he also enjoys traveling, getting to know new people, and spending time with his wife and two kids, Emma and Enrique.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Kelly is the Owner and Managing Director of Buyers Meeting Point and MyPurchasingCenter. She has been in procurement since 2003, starting as a practitioner and then as the Associate Director of Consulting at Emptoris. She has covered procurement news, events, publications, solutions, trends, and relevant economics at Buyers Meeting Point since 2009. Kelly is also the General Manager at Art of Procurement and Business Survey Chair for the ISM-New York Report on Business. Kelly has her MBA from Babson College as well as an MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and she has co-authored three books: ‘Supply Market Intelligence for Procurement Professionals’, ‘Procurement at a Crossroads’, and ‘Finance Unleashed’.
Host, Veteran Voices
Mary Kate Soliva is transitioning from active duty in the US Army. She is currently in the Doctor of Criminal Justice program at Saint Leo University. She is passionate about combating human trafficking and has spent the last decade conducting training for military personnel and the local community.
Jeff Miller is the host of Supply Chain Now’s Supply Chain is the Business. Jeff is a digital business transformation and supply chain advisor with deep expertise in Industry 4.0, ERP, PLM, SCM, IoT, AR and related technologies. Through more than 25 years of industry and consulting experience, he has worked with many of the world’s leading product and service companies to achieve their strategic business and supply chain goals, creating durable business value for organizations at the forefront of technology and business practices. Jeff is the managing director for North America at Transition Technologies PSC, a global solution integrator, and the founder and managing principal of BTV Advisors, a firm that helps companies secure business transformation value from digital supply chain technologies and their breakthrough capabilities.
Chief Marketing Officer
Amanda is a marketing veteran and entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience across a variety of industries and organizations including Von Maur, Anthropologie, AmericasMart Atlanta, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. In 2016, Amanda founded and grew the Magnolia Marketing Group into a successful digital media firm, and now she develops modern marketing strategies, social campaigns, innovative operational processes, and implements creative content initiatives for Supply Chain Now. But that’s just the beginning of her supply chain impact. Amanda also served as the VP of Information Systems and Webmaster on the Board of Directors for APICS Savannah for several years, and is the face behind the scenes welcoming you to every Supply Chain Now livestream! She was also recently selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Supply Chain by Supply Chain Digest and IBM. When she’s not leading the Supply Chain Now marketing team, you can find Amanda with her and her husband Scott’s three kids, in the kitchen cooking, or reading.
Business Development Manager
Clay is passionate about two things: supply chain and the marketing that goes into it. Recently graduated with a degree in marketing at the University of Georgia, Clay got his start as a journalism major and inaugural member of the Owl’s football team at Kennesaw State University – but quickly saw tremendous opportunity in the Terry College of Business. He’s already putting his education to great use at Supply Chain Now, assisting with everything from sales and brand strategy to media production. Clay has contributed to initiatives such as our leap into video production, the guest blog series, and boosting social media presence, and after nearly two years in Supply Chain Now’s Marketing Department, Clay now heads up partnership and sales initiatives with the help of the rest of the Supply Chain Now sales team.
Trisha is new to the supply chain industry – but not to podcasting. She’s an experienced podcast manager and virtual assistant who also happens to have 20 years of experience as an elementary school teacher. It’s safe to say, she’s passionate about helping people, and she lives out that passion every day with the Supply Chain Now team, contributing to scheduling and podcast production.
Host of Dial P for Procurement
Billy Taylor is a Proven Business Excellence Practitioner and Leadership Guru with over 25 years leading operations for a Fortune 500 company, Goodyear. He is also the CEO of LinkedXL (Excellence), a Business Operating Systems Architecting Firm dedicated to implementing sustainable operating systems that drive sustainable results. Taylor’s achievements in the industry have made him a Next Generational Lean pacesetter with significant contributions.
An American business executive, Taylor has made a name for himself as an innovative and energetic industry professional with an indispensable passion for his craft of operational excellence. His journey started many years ago and has worked with renowned corporations such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (GT) leading multi-site operations. With over 3 decades of service leading North America operations, he is experienced in a deeply rooted process driven approach in customer service, process integrity for sustainability.
A disciple of continuous improvement, Taylor’s love for people inspires commitment to helping others achieve their full potential. He is a dynamic speaker and hosts "The Winning Link," a popular podcast centered on business and leadership excellence with the #1 rated Supply Chain Now Network. As a leadership guru, Taylor has earned several invitations to universities, international conferences, global publications, and the U.S. Army to demonstrate how to achieve and sustain effective results through cultural acceptance and employee ownership. Leveraging the wisdom of his business acumen, strong influence as a speaker and podcaster Taylor is set to release "The Winning Link" book under McGraw Hill publishing in 2022. The book is a how-to manual to help readers understand the management of business interactions while teaching them how to Deine, Align, and Execute Winning in Business.
A servant leader, Taylor, was named by The National Diversity Council as one of the Top 100 Diversity Officers in the country in 2021. He features among Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs and maintains key leadership roles with the Executive Advisory Board for The Shingo Institute "The Nobel Prize of Operations" and The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME); two world-leading organizations for operational excellence, business development, and cultural learning. He is also an Independent Director for the M-D Building Products Board, a proud American manufacturer of quality products since 1920.
Social Media Manager
My name is Chantel King and I am the Social Media Specialist at Supply Chain Now. My job is to make sure our audience is engaged and educated on the abundant amount of information the supply chain industry has to offer.
Social Media and Communications has been my niche ever since I graduated from college at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. No, I am not a West Coast girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey, but my travel experience goes way beyond the garden state. My true passion is in creating editorial and graphic content that influences others to be great in whatever industry they are in. I’ve done this by working with lifestyle, financial, and editorial companies by providing resources to enhance their businesses.
Another passion of mine is trying new things. Whether it’s food, an activity, or a sport. I would like to say that I am an adventurous Taurus that never shies away from a new quest or challenge.
Lori is currently completing a degree in marketing with an emphasis in digital marketing at the University of Georgia. When she’s not supporting the marketing efforts at Supply Chain Now, you can find her at music festivals – or working toward her dream goal of a fashion career. Lori is involved in many extracurricular activities and appreciates all the learning experiences UGA has brought her.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator
Katherine is a marketing professional and MBA candidate who strives to unite her love of people with a passion for positive experiences. Having a diverse background, which includes nonprofit work with digital marketing and start-ups, she serves as a leader who helps people live their most creative lives by cultivating community, order, collaboration, and respect. With equal parts creativity and analytics, she brings a unique skill set which fosters refining, problem solving, and connecting organizations with their true vision. In her free time, you can usually find her looking for her cup of coffee, playing with her puppy Charlie, and dreaming of her next road trip.
Ben Harris is the Director of Supply Chain Ecosystem Expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. Ben comes to the Metro Atlanta Chamber after serving as Senior Manager, Market Development for Manhattan Associates. There, Ben was responsible for developing Manhattan’s sales pipeline and overall Americas supply chain marketing strategy. Ben oversaw market positioning, messaging and campaign execution to build awareness and drive new pipeline growth. Prior to joining Manhattan, Ben spent four years with the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Center of Innovation for Logistics where he played a key role in establishing the Center as a go-to industry resource for information, support, partnership building, and investment development. Additionally, he became a key SME for all logistics and supply chain-focused projects. Ben began his career at Page International, Inc. where he drove continuous improvement in complex global supply chain operations for a wide variety of businesses and Fortune 500 companies. An APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Ben holds an Executive Master’s degree in Business Administration (EMBA) and bachelor’s degree in International Business (BBA) from the Terry College at the University of Georgia.
Host, The Freight Insider
Prior to joining TeamOne Logistics, Page Siplon served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics, the State’s leading consulting resource for fueling logistics industry growth and global competitiveness. For over a decade, he directly assisted hundreds of companies to overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities related to the movement of freight. During this time, Siplon was also appointed to concurrently serve the State of Georgia as Director of the larger Centers of Innovation Program, in which he provided executive leadership and vision for all six strategic industry-focused Centers. As a frequently requested keynote speaker, Siplon is called upon to address a range of audiences on unique aspects of technology, workforce, and logistics. This often includes topics of global and domestic logistics trends, supply chain visibility, collaboration, and strategic planning. He has also been quoted as an industry expert in publications such as Forbes, Journal of Commerce, Fortune, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, American Express, DC Velocity, Area Development Magazine, Site Selection Magazine, Inbound Logistics, Modern Material Handling, and is frequently a live special guest on SiriusXM’s Road Dog Radio Show. Siplon is an active industry participant, recognized by DC Velocity Magazine as a “2012 Logistics Rainmaker” which annually identifies the top-ten logistics professionals in the Nation; and named a “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Executive Magazine in 2014. Siplon was also selected by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Georgians” for 2013, 2014, and 2015. He also serves various industry leadership roles at both the State and Federal level. Governor Nathan Deal nominated Siplon to represent Georgia on a National Supply Chain Competitiveness Advisory Committee, where he was appointed to a two-year term by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and was then appointed to serve as its vice-chairman. At the State level, he was selected by then-Governor Sonny Perdue to serve as lead consultant on the Commission for New Georgia’s Freight and Logistics Task Force. In this effort, Siplon led a Private Sector Advisory Committee with invited executives from a range of private sector stakeholders including UPS, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, Delta Airlines, Georgia Pacific, CSX, and Norfolk Southern. Siplon honorably served a combined 12 years in the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. During this time, he led the integration of encryption techniques and deployed cryptographic devices for tactically secure voice and data platforms in critical ground-to-air communication systems. This service included support for all branches of the Department of Defense, multiple federal security agencies, and aiding NASA with multiple Space Shuttle launches. Originally from New York, Siplon received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering with a focus on digital signal processing from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He earned an associate’s degree in advanced electronic systems from the Air Force College and completed multiple military leadership academies in both the Marines and Air Force. Siplon currently lives in Cumming, Georgia (north of Atlanta), with his wife Jan, and two children Thomas (19) and Lily (15).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kristi Porter is VP of Sales and Marketing at Vector Global Logistics, a company that is changing the world through supply chain. In her role, she oversees all marketing efforts and supports the sales team in doing what they do best. In addition to this role, she is the Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, which assists nonprofits and social impact companies through copywriting and marketing strategy consulting. She has almost 20 years of professional experience, and loves every opportunity to help people do more good.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Kevin Brown is the Director of Business Development for Vector Global Logistics. He has a dedicated interest in Major Account Management, Enterprise Sales, and Corporate Leadership. He offers 25 years of exceptional experience and superior performance in the sales of Logistics, Supply Chain, and Transportation Management. Kevin is a dynamic, high-impact, sales executive and corporate leader who has consistently exceeded corporate goals. He effectively coordinates multiple resources to solution sell large complex opportunities while focusing on corporate level contacts across the enterprise. His specialties include targeting and securing key accounts by analyzing customer’s current business processes and developing solutions to meet their corporate goals. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Sofia Rivas Herrera is a Mexican Industrial Engineer from Tecnologico de Monterrey class 2019. Upon graduation, she earned a scholarship to study MIT’s Graduate Certificate in Logistics and Supply Chain Management and graduated as one of the Top 3 performers of her class in 2020. She also has a multicultural background due to her international academic experiences at Singapore Management University and Kühne Logistics University in Hamburg. Sofia self-identifies as a Supply Chain enthusiast & ambassador sharing her passion for the field in her daily life.
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Jose Manuel Irarrazaval es parte del equipo de Vector Global Logistics Chile. José Manuel es un gerente experimentado con experiencia en finanzas corporativas, fusiones y adquisiciones, financiamiento y reestructuración, inversión directa y financiera, tanto en Chile como en el exterior. José Manuel tiene su MBA de la Universidad de Pennsylvania- The Wharton School. Conéctese con Jose Manuel en LinkedIn.
Host, Supply Chain Now en Espanol
Demo Perez started his career in 1997 in the industry by chance when a relative asked him for help for two just weeks putting together an operation for FedEx Express at the Colon Free Zone, an area where he was never been but accepted the challenge. Worked in all roles possible from a truck driver to currier to a sales representative, helped the brand introduction, market share growth and recognition in the Colon Free Zone, at the end of 1999 had the chance to meet and have a chat with Fred Smith ( FedEx CEO), joined another company in 2018 who took over the FedEx operations as Operations and sales manager, in 2004 accepted the challenge from his company to leave the FedEx operations and business to take over the operation and business of DHL Express, his major competitor and rival so couldn’t say no, by changing completely its operation model in the Free Zone. In 2005 started his first entrepreneurial journey by quitting his job and joining two friends to start a Freight Forwarding company. After 8 months was recruited back by his company LSP with the General Manager role with the challenge of growing the company and make it fully capable warehousing 3PL. By 2009 joined CSCMP and WERC and started his journey of learning and growing his international network and high-level learning. In 2012 for the first time joined a local association ( the Panama Maritime Chamber) and worked in the country’s first Logistics Strategy plan, joined and lead other associations ending as president of the Panama Logistics Council in 2017. By finishing his professional mission at LSP with a company that was 8 times the size it was when accepted the role as GM with so many jobs generated and several young professionals coached, having great financial results, took the decision to move forward and start his own business from scratch by the end of 2019. with a friend and colleague co-founded IPL Group a company that started as a boutique 3PL and now is gearing up for the post-Covid era by moving to the big leagues.
Host, Supply Chain Now
The founder of Logistics Executive Group, Kim Winter delivers 40 years of executive leadership experience spanning Executive Search & Recruitment, Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Advisory, Motivational Speaking, Trade Facilitation and across the Supply Chain, Logistics, 3PL, E-commerce, Life Science, Cold Chain, FMCG, Retail, Maritime, Defence, Aviation, Resources, and Industrial sectors. Operating from the company’s global offices, he is a regular contributor of thought leadership to industry and media, is a professional Master of Ceremonies, and is frequently invited to chair international events.
He is a Board member of over a dozen companies throughout APAC, India, and the Middle East, a New Zealand citizen, he holds formal resident status in Australia and the UAE, and is the Australia & New Zealand representative for the UAE Government-owned Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), the Middle East’s largest Economic Free Zone.
A triathlete and ex-professional rugby player, Kim is a qualified (IECL Sydney) executive coach and the Founder / Chairman of the successful not for profit humanitarian organization, Oasis Africa (www. oasisafrica.org.au), which has provided freedom from poverty through education to over 8000 mainly orphaned children in East Africa’s slums. Kim holds an MBA and BA from Massey & Victoria Universities (NZ).
Host, Logistics with Purpose
Nick Roemer has had a very diverse and extensive career within design and sales over the last 15 years stretching from China, Dubai, Germany, Holland, UK, and the USA. In the last 5 years, Nick has developed a hawk's eye for sustainable tech and the human-centric marketing and sales procedures that come with it. With his far-reaching and strong network within the logistics industry, Nick has been able to open new avenues and routes to market within major industries in the USA and the UAE. Nick lives by the ethos, “Give more than you take." His professional mission is to make the logistics industry leaner, cleaner and greener.
Sales Support Intern
Alex is pursuing a Marketing degree and a Certificate in Legal Studies at the University of Georgia. As a dual citizen of both the US and UK; Alex has studied abroad at University College London and is passionate about travel and international business. Through her coursework at the Terry College of Business, Alex has gained valuable skills in digital marketing, analytics, and professional selling. She joined Supply Chain Now as a Sales Support Intern where she assists the team by prospecting and qualifying new business partners.