Lumen Q&A: Adopting a Customer-Centric Culture


As customer expectations continue to evolve, companies must innovate and transform to keep those customers at the center of every action and decision. Ryan Willis, Director, Experience Management at Lumen, knows this strategy firsthand.

In recent years, Willis has led multiple aspects of the customer experience transformation at Lumen, focused on driving a culture of customer-first thinking. His work centers on putting the customer in the driver’s seat to advance strategic initiatives, particularly in the digital space.

We recently spoke with Willis to learn more about Lumen’s customer experience philosophy, how it’s transforming CX strategy on the Genesys Cloud™ platform and the critical role digital plays in addressing key initiatives to meet the evolving needs of customers.

What is your current role and what does it entail?

Ryan Willis: My team and I partner with key leaders in Lumen to drive a customer-centric culture. This includes development, planning and execution on a clear strategy by leveraging customer and employee insights through journey management best practices, such as journey mapping.

Our team launched a series of journey management training courses that enabled CX Journey Champions across the business with a customer-centric culture and mindset. These champions proactively identify customer and employee experiences that can benefit from journey mapping and journey management. The program scales our journey management transformation and educates employees on driving improvements with a customer-first mindset.

The hours we dedicate to journey mapping and understanding the customer’s experience is time well-spent. It helps us better understand pain points and uncover opportunities to delight. We can then prioritize where we need to act to drive a better experience, increased loyalty, and revenue growth opportunities.

Can you tell me a bit more about the CX Journey Champions?

Beginning in 2020 and throughout 2021, our team has focused on transforming our journey management and mapping practice. To scale and balance, we built a three-layered approach.

Real change comes when people across the company approach products, processes, and problems through the lens of our customers. The training component is the foundation, but 2020 challenged us as we were forced to go virtual just as we prepared to roll it out.  Our team built a three-day interactive training from scratch so the Champions would still be able to launch their journey management initiatives.

To date, we have trained and certified 80-plus CX Champions who are taking what they have learned back into their areas of the organization and driving customer-first change.

The approach is already paying dividends as our champions have completed journey mapping initiatives and are acting on improving our internet self-install and overall billing experiences, among others.

What does customer experience (CX) mean to you? What’s your philosophy when it comes to the customer?

Willis: Customer and employee experience are the ways in which we will differentiate Lumen.

Customer experience begins with how our customers perceive their interactions with Lumen. It’s not just the rational interactions to achieve a goal (buy a service, get support, pay a bill), but also how they think and feel across each of those interactions.

Our philosophy is that customers are the primary focus. Without them, we cannot be successful, so we must approach everything from their perspective. Doing that, we can drive a better experience by keeping our promises, communicating and being responsive.

Internally, we know a positive employee experience drives a positive customer experience. Our employees want to do the right thing for our customers, but sometimes they don’t have the tools, systems, and processes to accomplish that. Therefore, we must also focus on equipping them to drive improvements and successful outcomes for customers, themselves, and Lumen.

How has your approach to customer experience shifted over the past five years — and why?

Willis: My approach to CX has evolved as our company transforms with a heightened sense of being customer led. Customer experience was always top of mind, but it is becoming more ingrained in our Lumen culture.

As a result, my focus has expanded to educating and empowering our employees to “Own the Experience.” We equip them to think customer first and teach them how to employ journey management best practices and tools. By understanding the end-to-end experience, we can drive change.

How has the cloud enabled your company to deliver a better customer experience?

Willis: Cloud enablement provides more opportunities for scalability and reliability. This allows customers to:

  • Gain greater control to move workloads without barriers with real-time connectivity to their data centers.
  • Quickly turn up new cloud-based applications and services using the Lumen portal or customer-facing APIs.
  • Minimize exposure to external threats by using private and secure network connections

Can you share any details around your approach to digital? What channels are you currently supporting or plan to support in the future?

Willis: Digital transformation is one of the primary focus areas of our business and one of the greatest opportunities. We are investing in resources and key initiatives to ensure we have the right digital strategy in place. Instead of deciding on which channel we will meet our customers with digital, we take the position that we need to meet them in the channel of their choice.

Whether customers want to do everything themselves, want us to do it all for them or want a hybrid approach between digital and the human touch, we need to meet them where they want to be.