Laurie Englert is the VP of customer experience for Legrand | AV, and she’ll be delivering our keynote presentation on the much-anticipated ProAV Day of LAVNCH WEEK 2.0. I was excited to hear what Laurie was planning to discuss for her LAVNCH WEEK keynote; so to find out, I asked her my five burning questions. What I quickly discovered is that Laurie’s keynote topic is unique and fresh, something I haven’t seen much of by the way of thought-leadership in recent months. Her answers just might surprise you — so keep reading!
This is an interview with Laurie Englert, as written by Leah McCann. It has been edited for clarity.
LM: Hi, Laurie, and welcome! To start, I’d love to hear about you — can you tell me a bit about your background in AV and about your work as VP of customer experience for Legrand | AV?
LE: I was employee number 85 at Chief Manufacturing back in 2004. That’s when we were just one brand, about $30 million and focused mostly on mounts. Since that time, we’ve added 10+ brands in both residential and commercial and changed our company name to CSAV to accommodate growth, then to Milestone AV Technologies until we were acquired by Legrand in 2017 and became part of a multi-billion-dollar business. So it’s been quite a ride in the AV industry, and I still love it! During the course of those 16 years, we’ve always focused on customer relationships and knew that it drove our success. In 2012, we also started down an innovation framework path using “Design Thinking.” The whole premise of Design Thinking is gathering customer empathy before and during the development process. This focus on empathy has led us in so many cool directions. It has helped us understand customer pain points at a whole different level. It drove us to create personas and journey maps and, ultimately, changed our initiatives completely based on customer input. We found the customer experience journey so important that we created a diverse team of customer-facing departments to form the customer experience team — which includes everything from customer care to marketing to training to digital experience. I’m just lucky enough to lead it.
LM: Design thinking and journey maps — those are two interesting concepts. Can you break them down a little further as a preview for our readers? How do these processes help the industry innovate?
LE: I consider Design Thinking the innovation framework that continually helps us improve the customer journey. Design Thinking can be used on a variety of different types of projects, from developing a new product to improving a service issue like even making “returns” a positive experience for partners. A journey map is a look from the customer’s lens as they interact with Legrand | AV — from the time they first become a customer to the product research they perform to their after-sale support experience. During that journey, they have good experiences and some not so good experiences. When the experience is not so good, we call it a “cliff.” The job of the customer experience team is to dive into that cliff and look for those unmet needs so we can surprise our customers and outperform our competitors. To do that, we use Design Thinking. We use Design Thinking every day, but we’ll go out and recast our customer journey maps every 18 months or so to ensure we are continuing to improve their experiences with us.
LM: That’s helpful! So how do you plan to frame (and present) the concepts of design thinking and journey mapping during your LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 ProAV Day keynote?
LE: I get lots of questions on Design Thinking in general — like, how does Legrand | AV use it to innovate? Is it hard to embrace the framework? What’s the most important part? How do I get started? So I like to share our story and tell people a little about Design Thinking and how we use it, then show them some examples of projects we’ve done. I also give them some resources in case they want to dig a little deeper. If it can help them improve their business, that’s a win/win.
LM: As the audience of ProAV Day will largely be AV integrators (along with EdTech managers and some end users), what’s the main thing you want this audience to take away?
LE: I want to help them get more business from their customers by simply understanding more about them. If they thoroughly understand their customers’ pain points and use that information to innovate solutions for them, they can gain loyalty and have really happy customers. If I can help give them some tools and resources to do that, I consider that a big win. I’ve done a lot of Design Thinking work with many customers just to help them improve some of their own business challenges. And they love it! If integrators can even just learn the skill of interviewing customers using really big, wide-open questions to hear stories, pare those interviews down to themes and then create some strategically cool stuff as a result, they’ll win big with customers. It’s not hard but you have to spend time on the upfront work … even if you think you’re too busy to do it!
LM: What resources have you been using to learn, pivot and stay abreast of the critical changes in AV and ProAV right now? Do you have any you can share with us?
LE: Oh, my goodness … everything! We’ve completely pivoted our initiatives to help integrators help their customers with everything from telemedicine to distance learning to working-from-home products and solutions. And we’re going beyond product. We’re digging out information to help integrators know where investments are being made — like $14 billion going to higher education through the CARES Act.* We’ve put together short webinars, white papers and web pages to give them resources they need to navigate all the changes. I just sat on a webinar from one of our buying groups in which a futurist talked about how businesses had a plan to work on work-from-home initiatives over the next 10 years, but they had to pivot and do it in 10 days due to the pandemic. That’s real stuff, and we’re all faced with those challenges. But I must admit, it’s caused us to think differently to help our customers even more.
Don’t miss Laurie Englert at LAVNCH WEEK 2.0 on Tuesday, June 23; her keynote on ProAV Day will offer a full version of the topics we discussed today. Register here, and visit rave.pub/LAVNCHweek2 to learn all about LAVNCH WEEK.