Dixie Dunn, VP of Customer Experience at JFrog

February 3, 2022
30 min

As a CX leader, how do you stay grounded in our fast-moving, complex world? 

Dixie Dunn, VP of Customer Experience at JFrog, keeps it simple. 

She brings clarity to the chaos using tried-and-true methods to prioritize customer outcomes. She finds focus by mapping the customer journey, identifying critical interactions, measuring them, and making them better. 

Dixie lets us in on her approach, sharing the questions she asks herself and how she breaks complicated processes down into bite-sized components. 

We dive into purposeful metrics, the importance of targeted feedback, and ways to make a tangible difference in your customers’ experience.


If you’re feeling flustered and need some focus, listen in.


- Get crystal-clear on the outcomes you want to achieve. 

- Identify and measure critical moments in your customers’ journey. 

- Gather more customer feedback and act on it.

Things to Listen For:

[04:30] Becoming customer-centric in all areas of your business 

[07:15] Breaking down the customer journey 

[10:30] Identifying critical interactions 

[13:00] Clarifying the purpose of metrics 

[18:00] Balancing self-service and relationship building 

[23:30] Getting feedback throughout the customer journey

Dixie Dunn,
VP of Customer Experience

Dixie: When you get the customer voice coming back into the organization is when you can actually facilitate the best change or outcomes, but you need to break it down into logical places because otherwise you could miss some of those inputs. And so I'm always looking at, how do I break that down? All the interactions the customer could have, and it's not always linear by the way. Like, people make the assumption that if you say I'm going to map a customer journey, it's some kind of linear path. Not necessarily.

Flourish CX, the only show helping CX leaders do one thing: empower their customers. Each episode democratizes best practices while leaving you feeling both inspired and equipped to take action. Let's get to it.

Alon: What does the CX journey have in common with bodybuilding? More than you might think. I'm Alon Woks, your host for this episode of Flourish, CX.

In personal fitness, like CX, the first step is creating a plan for success that is unique to each user. But if every customer's journey is different, can it really be mapped? Dixie Dunn, the VP of Customer Experience at JFrog, a software delivery platform, says it can. The secret is looking at the customer's journey as a science. That includes using feedback to determine whether or not the milestones you've laid out are being hit.

As you listen, think about how you’re using customer feedback and how you can improve the ways you collect and implement it. But first, let's hear Dixie's thoughts on parallels between CX and bodybuilding.

Alon: In many podcasts and interviews, people ask you for 10 minutes to tell them about your resume and what you've done. We're going to let them do that somewhere else. Today, we're going to ask you about: who would you be if you were not this amazing leader in the world of customer first? What kind of role, what kind of cool job would you have?

Dixie: I would probably be an amateur bodybuilder. Five years ago I started getting into weightlifting. I was an avid runner and I kind of switched into weightlifting and bodybuilding. And I'm super excited about it because it gives you all these incremental goals you can give yourself as you go and you can kind of see a transformation about yourself. And so if I were to quit working tomorrow, this is probably what I would do.

Alon: I love it. I think it's great. Do you think this has got to do anything with customer facing or customer centricity or just completely separate?

Dixie: You know, it kind of does in a way because, when you're bodybuilding, you're seeing improvements. So you're making a commitment and you're seeing the outward improvements.

And to me, that's everything about CX. Everything about CX is a journey. It never ends. It starts and it goes and it continues and you're always trying to progress it. Bodybuilding is a committed thing. It's not like you can just, one day, step away. CX is like that, too. It's all-absorbing. It starts to occupy your mind when you're not on the job. So I see it as very similar.

Alon: Continuous improvement is part of bodybuilding, physical physique and experiences. Okay. So, you know, one of the things we love doing on this podcast is just to get us, you know, into the mood and energetic is, give you this amazing power. I wanna give you magical power to eradicate annoyance from the world and tell us: what drives you crazy in the world of customer experiences? What is the rant or the vent that you have that people just don't get?

Dixie: Probably the biggest thing is that lack of curiosity. So you'll get to a point eventually where everything is kind of, this is how it is, or, it could be this way, versus progressing. Like basically looking for how you're going to make your progression and how you can make a radical change in a customer experience. 

I don't just want to make incremental changes. I wanna to work with people who are curious and like-minded, and it's why I've always liked to work for startups and growth companies is because you come in at a point where you can make an influence or real influence. And it's something that's an annoyance and sometimes in a slow-moving corporate world, they say, ‘I want to do something radical on the customer experience side,’ but doing something radical requires radical behavior. I really want to be with curious people, people who are pushing the boundaries.

Alon: Do you think the reason for that is… one of two things that I might raise and I want you to, uh, help me with that. Is it lack of understanding what really CX is, because it's just a big buzzword that everybody checks the box on? Or is it because people talk about CX, but like, okay, this CX person, CCO, VP Experience, VP Support, VP Success own it. Yeah, yeah, it’s important, but… we don't need to do anything about it. Which one is it?

Dixie: It’s probably the latter one. Like, it's important, but what are we really able to do about it? And then you have to be able to tell a story, but you also have to have the right, you know, kind of level in the organization. 

Like you kind of see in a lot of cases that it's a, maybe a job given to someone but it’s not integrated with the organization. And I think it's super important to realize that the mission of the organization is CX. And sometimes you get into a scenario where it's really not something that actually happens. You may hear it, but it doesn't happen. And you have to have an actionable, really committed organization if you're going to make a difference in CX.

Alon: So let's talk a lot about that more. Cause you know, some terms that are used a lot, founders, CEOs, boards, investors, is customer centricity. Love it. 

Of course you should need to be customer centric, especially in a subscription model, otherwise you're probably going to lose some customers if you don't treat them right. But in that case, do you feel like it's something that's inherent and it's connected to MBOs and KPIs of more than just the customer owner in the company? Is that something that everybody is like dedicating mindset and dollars to?

Dixie: It depends. For me, I've been fortunate to work for companies that have dedicated minds and dollars to that effort. And again, it's one of the reasons I picked the companies and the experiences that I've been involved in. But I do think in a lot of cases you can basically have a desire to move in the direction of customer experience, but you don't really have the mechanics in place across the organization. So when I look at it, I think it's a multi-headed beast.

One, you need to have each business unit understand what the goals are. And I'm a huge believer in people. I think people in the business, they know they're in the business to satisfy their customer. And if they understand really what they need to do in order to meet that mission, people rise to the occasion.

So you need to be able to give pretty clear objectives to each business department around what it is they're going to do around the customer experience, and then having a strategic narrative or a strategic person that drives that cross organizationally. Just make sure that all the efforts are coming together in a roadmap and a strategy that you want to achieve as a company.

So this is how I think it works best when it's done well. And when it's not, you, you start to get micro objectives standing in the way of eventually getting there. And it's always a challenge. I mean, business is a challenge. You have so many objectives. You've got to decide where to put your resources.

Alon: So taking that in mind, we always talk about, is it a team sport? Or is it… somebody owns it? Do you feel like it's both? And then which element is that support? Is that success? Are they all should be a team sport or just some of them?

Dixie: All. All to me as a team sport, because it starts with everything in the business. It starts with the product itself, the way that you want to deliver support, as it relates to the product, the knowledge articles that you create, the business processes that you put in place and how quickly those business processes enable an employee to execute on a customer facing mission. 

So if you have very slow and inefficient business processes, it'll show up eventually in your customer experience. So I think it's an overall cadence across the business that impacts the customer experience. And you focus in different places depending on where you're at in the company's growth, in the company's trajectory. But it’s a continuous mission all the time. Across the company.

Alon: You're talking about, if it's a mission and you have milestones about it, then do you feel like you have a good way for you as the owner, and then also would love to understand how you measure success. And then if not, who helps you get there?

Dixie: Well, everyone is helping you get there, but it has to be focused. Like anytime you're going on a mission, you have to have a map and then you have to have way points on that map.

And then you have to have a way of measuring. Am I going north, south, east, or west? Your directional, um, metrics that tell you those, where you're really going. And I think there isn't any one specific CX metric. That's the case. The way I've traditionally done it is I kind of look at the customer journey and I break it down into key, outwardly facing components.

I'm looking at what is the outcome I want to get at the customer, the outcome at our customer. And then what kind of feedback would I need to see that I'm achieving that outcome. And then I kind of back into what kind of business metrics might I attach to the inwardly facing parts of departments that ensure that they're linked to that outcome.

And of course there's a lot of things like I can measure customer feedback directly after an interaction with a customer, but that, uh, process that is in place to get the feedback and then move it back into the business. There are still things occurring in the business that impact eventually whether or not I'm able to do anything with that feedback that the customer gave me.

So I'm always breaking the components of the journey down. Like, to give a concrete example from a very typical like product-led cell company. I could say, I want to measure how fast a customer onboards. I would say no, no, no, no. I want to measure how fast the customer gets value. I don't want to just know that he onboarded, I wanna know, when did he get value?

And then I want to ask him, how was your experience getting to this value? How do you perceive the value? Is it what you expected? Is the time it took for you to get to this point what you expected? Were there pains along that process? So I'm kind of taking the journey and getting it into those sort of metrics that give feedback back into the company, because the organization responds to the customer. 

When you get the customer voice coming back into the organization is when you can actually facilitate the best change or outcomes. But you need to break it down into logical places because otherwise you could miss some of those inputs. And so I'm always looking at how do I break that down? All the interactions the customer could have, and it's not always linear by the way. Like people make the assumption that if you say I'm going to map the customer journey, it’s some kind of linear path. Not necessarily. 

It's just, again, mapping the business outcomes that the customer can expect and how the business reflects that feedback from the customer into their operating procedures. And it's not like someone will give you, like, a metric that you can go in and hang your hat on. You're kind of a bit swimming in figuring out those metrics yourself.

Alon: So now let's talk about these two things. First of all, I think we'll talk about the journey and then about the metrics. So let's start with the journey.

So, do you believe that most people are trying to focus - just like in marketing, hey, I'm a marketer, I try to do the customer acquisition journey, the customer upsell journey, the customer expansion journey, and then the customer loyalty journey. I have a whole flywheel, the journey never ends, the life cycle. Do you believe that a lot of time people are too pigeon holes into, he has to go to onboarding 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and only then the next? Versus people can jump stages and you just got to look at the data to have leading indicators?

Dixie: Yep. People will move around depending on their need, you know? So I think you just need to know what some of the critical interactions are and be able to measure those interactions. I mean, there'll obviously be some parts of it that are more linear than others, but I think you have to be prepared for… For example, maybe the customer joins your free tier product or your demo product and they don't finish and they decide to purchase. I mean, there's a lot of different ways that customers interact with you and you just want to know what those key points are and be able to measure them, you know, satisfaction from the customer side and feedback from the customer side.

Alon: So collecting of data is an important piece here. Data, for example, can be anything from onboarding, usage, use case adoption, to, I have a question, number of tickets, I'm looking for content. This is all things that every company should have, but is it off the shelf? Is there like a solution or most of the time you just got to build it for your own company?

Dixie: Most of the time, I feel like you are building it. And the key approaches that I've taken, whether they be right or wrong, is… Oftentimes, there are some set of infrastructure that exists. And so you might as a starting point, you know, understand how can I flex that infrastructure? And then in some cases you realize it won't scale and it won't size up and you have to change.

But there is no one solution on the market. There's different products that cover some portions of that journey better or worse than others, but there’s no one product. You're going to have to build the technology stack, you're going to have to leverage that technology stack and then you have to scale it for different phases of the business.

Alon: The second thing you mentioned of course is measurement. And this is one of my favorite topics about customer in everything or just customer experience, but it's like, let's call it the health of the customer or value of the customer, which I think most of us are starting to talk about more cause it's about at the end of the day, if a customer does not get value, good luck retaining, or getting them to come again, whether it's a subscription or not, even in retail to say. This is something that is always asked on this show: is there a metric, first of all, is there one KPI, one measurement that really determines the state of your customer?

And if not, what do you look at? What are the ones you look at? And you do, maybe you create a soup of measurements.

Dixie: Yeah, I don't think there's any one measurement, to be honest. And I don't think there's any one place. I mean, you can aggregate data and you can come with a score, but in the end you're still aggregating different aspects of the journey.

So again, what I tend to do is break down the journey and I'm looking for metrics that kind of group the journey for me. So for example, if it's like, how long did it take the customer to see that first value? It's kind of a critical metric for me, because I feel like, hey, they need to see value and if they see first value, it tends to have a better trajectory over time. 

So I'm looking for those early indicators. And then I'm looking for the group of indicators as the customer ages with you. Like how long does it take for them to upgrade or use more? How many additional users come? You know, what kind of time are they spending on the product?

And I start to look for things like not just feature consumption, but key use cases. And then I want to share feedback to the customer. Hey, Mr. Customer, based on your segment, here's key use cases that are of value to you. So I'm trying to look for key points I can insert value in that customer journey, and there is no one map.

You know, I've spent a bit of time with significant strategic companies mapping this out and no one has it one map. So it's kind of not a soup of metrics in my mind. You need to have purpose. So I think what I take out of it for myself is I need to bring that purpose, that clarity, that thought process, that outcome and the feedback.

And then I can kind of say, okay, based on where we're at, I want to measure these five things. And I want to know where the customer’s aT in each of these five things distinctly. And I don't prefer sometimes to make it a one metric fits all, but I have used, you know, AI machine learning, different tools to get to my one of the five metrics.

And to measure the factors that impacted and to understand what those factors and attributes are. But in the end, there's usually to me, four or five, very critical parts of the journey that I independently want to know are happening and how they're happening, both at the customer local level and at an aggregated level. Across the customers. 

And that way you can have a good feel for the pace of the business. And then for each individual business unit, I want them to have feedback directly from the customer. Very critically. It doesn't mean I'm not still aggregating the customer journey and getting that data. But I do want each department to have direct feedback on their specific business with the customer.

And that way, I think as an overall, you can kind of get the right picture, but I don't want to make it seem complicated because I think in some ways it's simple, but you have to think with purpose. You have to think with purpose what you're trying to accomplish.

Alon: At the end of the day, it's not like a off the shelf, you have pipeline and then you have closed deals and that's like the goal and how you get there is a complexity. The complexity is: what is value? The complexity is: what is a healthy customer? When and how do you detect their path to it and try to steer them towards value? 

I think that's the art and the science of this whole world of customer success operation, customer success analytics, and the world of the CX and CCO today is about how well do I understand where my customers - if I can put them into a one to one or one to few bucket - are on the way to success and health? And that's going to be very important going on.

Dixie: Exactly. As you kind of said, like, when do you intervene? Right? Like when you're seeing certain metrics with a customer, how do you intervene as a business?

And what do you end up changing or doing as a result of those metrics? Because you're not just collecting the data for no reason, you're doing it for achieving an outcome.

Alon: For sure. So that’s actually a very good transition into the next point about, about data and getting understanding of where customers are.

So we talk a lot about, on the show, about the value and importance of self-service or, in another way, empowering customers to do things on their own. One thing we joke about a lot is everything is now led growth, product-led growth. We're now talking about content-led growth, community-led growth. So, where is the empowerment-led growth or self-service-led growth?

Is that counter-intuitive to scalability because, hey, give everybody a CSM, they'll be happy?  But customers want to do things on their own, we do it in our our day to day. So what's your mantra and belief on this, on the balance between self-service and high touch?

Dixie: It will probably sound too simplistic, but I like stories. You know, we're living in such a complex world.

Fast-moving, fast-paced. I sometimes think you need simple narratives to ground you and say, okay, with all the data, with all of the different things I can do, what does my narrative tell me? And the way I think about self-serve is I feel to some degree, it should be logical. If my customer - and I've worked in environments with very technical customers, not like just a retail customer or someone who's coming into a store to buy something that can be measured. Customers who are very technical in their own domain. And what I always use as a mantra across all of it is: what would I logically expect if I'm a highly educated domain professional? 

I could be expected to self-serve in these instances, I want to give it to them. Right? I don't want them to feel awkward in the interaction with me. So this is always a mantra I think about when I think of the customer self-serve experience, or the customer experience in general. When I'm looking across the customer experience, what would they expect in this interaction? What level would they expect to be able to self-serve because people, they don't want to interrupt their day.

They do want a relationship with you, but they don't want to interrupt their workflow to develop that relationship. So you need to think very carefully about that when you think of self-serve or customer experience in general. So these are like my simple mantras that I always give myself is what would I have expected if I were that professional person using this product?

And then you try and do as best you can to improve that over time.

Alon: I love it. So tell me if you believe in this, or is this over, over-simplifying it or maybe over like, breaking news, trying to make a title here. If somebody can do something on their own, that is a win-win for the customer and for the company, always.

Is that true or not always the case?

Dixie: I think you'll hear people say they want to have… a… relationship with the customer and does self-serve give you the relationship with the customer? In my opinion, if they can do it themselves, I want to make sure they can do it. And the relationship building is on the side.

I can always call someone who had a great experience and say, ‘Hey, just wanted to connect with you.’ And they're going to be more likely to pick up the phone, right? Or I can call someone who had a terrible experience. They definitely want to pick up the phone! So those are the two extremes that you can always count on building a relationship.

And in between, there's a whole vast number of people who, they just want to do their day-to-day work. And so I always look at it as a win-win, if they can do it. I'd rather let the customer do what they can do. And then again, my feedback mechanics, my way of getting feedback from the customer is separate from that because I don't want to get in the way of their day-to-day ability to use my product.

So this is how I always look at it. It's very simple for me, but maybe it might be controversial. I’m not sure.

Alon: No, no. I think actually simplicity makes us do things better and focus. One thing at Zoomin, who brings us this podcast and this community of Flourish, is we talk a lot about with our partners and customers, is about the role of the customer success person, customer success manager, rep, and so forth is it needs to be a trusted advisor and be there for them to drive mutual value. Definitely customer value, hopefully company value. And if it's things that you can do on your own, and don't want to talk to somebody about, just let me go and do an integration, an implementation, a launch, a publishing look, an analytics, a report, then save those conversations for more value.

Value doesn't mean do everything for me. And that's I think counterintuitive sometimes the way I look at it.

Dixie: No, I think it's a hundred percent true. When I look at it, even in a broader context as well, like than just self-serve, I actually really liked to give customers analytics about how they're doing, how their segment is doing, you know, what value can I bring insights to them?

And I even think at that level, I like to give it to the customer proactively. And the relationship building, as you said, it's something that you're going to do. But you're going to come from a healthier place because the customer's happy. They're able to get value. I really have to focus on the value. If I'm delivering value, then I'm going to have a relationship with that customer.

And so I look at it from that point of view, like, the human interaction is a relationship interaction and everything else is just doing business. It should just happen.

Alon: I, I tend to agree with that. Everybody needs to learn. And if a product can improve, that's why customer voice and the feedback is there.

But if we can give them the things on the channels that they want to, then people will say, thank you, please don't take me off my journey, make me go to a 30 minute meeting in two days. I just want to do this thing right now. So please just let me continue with my journey. So, I think we're in agreement on that one.

We have a few more questions on this podcast that are very much about giving you, again, this magical power. So I'm going to give you this fairy dust or wand or hammer or axe or whatever your, your tool of choice is. Is there a metric or is there something that people are too focused on that they think: this is CS.

For example, C-SAT. Oh, C-SAT survey, done, we have customer experience in our company. What would you eradicate in this world, or misconception you think is overused?

Dixie: I think I would definitely come back to the point that we spoke about earlier of, what are your objectives? You know, I'm a big advocate of, I can measure many things, you know, you can do a lot of data analytics and you can establish, many times, great correlations that are tempting.

They can give you a quick win or a feeling of accomplishment because I see a correlation, it's not a causality. And I think having, maybe if I were to say, one thing I would challenge people is to get more feedback. Because the direct feedback, outward looking feedback, it will help you more than almost any other thing you do to kind of tell you, are you going in the right direction? Are you really measuring things in an effective way? 

But the feedback needs to be about outcomes. So when I look at getting feedback when, for example, a customer has a ticket event. To me, it's not sufficient feedback. I want to get feedback on those journey elements that we spoke of earlier. And I think it's super important for people to realize when you're getting feedback it's that cumulative feedback of these different points of value creation that you really need. If you're going to take one point of feedback at one point, particular point, it's like biasing the witness because I'm getting feedback against that particular event, but I want to have feedback across the value that I'm providing.

And so I encourage getting this feedback and thinking about the journey. And are you missing any feedback points on that journey is super important to help you stay grounded. Because, again, you're trying to get to an ultimate outcome, not just a point in time, a kind of effort, you have a business relationship with the customer so you need to measure effective points in that business relationship and not just CO points. And so I would say that to me is probably the biggest thing when you're looking at the, you know, the customer journey or customers… CX as a science.

Alon: I love it. CX as a science. That's a good one, too. 

And then the one more thing that we want to talk about is, a lot of people now are saying, okay, I need to invest in customer centricity and customer experience. But not every CEO or founder actually know, always, what is the roadmap to invest and have a great CX.

So what would you tell them is like important in going towards CX? Whether it's slow down, think about objectives or other things. What would you say is something that they don't always know that you should guide them on?

Dixie: I would really, again, say to them, where are those big interactions where they could lose business? If you wanted the customer to experience your company and walk away from your company with the best possible outcome and feel satisfied, what is it they need to consume?

And then you need to build your CX around that. If you're wanting them to experience a certain product value or outcome. How am I building my CX? And it doesn't mean it's a person, meaning I have to have a CES or CS person sitting there in that chair to make that happen. You need to think about the process of it.

How do I get the customer to experience that value? What are the critical steps in getting there? That's CX. And then you build what you need in the organization to make that happen. Okay. Too often, people are building a person and not a process. And I really think you've got to think about your product.

Every product is different. The customer achieves the value in a different way. So you should start again with that mapping of how do I get value and how do I get value faster? And CX to me is about always getting the value faster. And easier. So it's efficiency of value. So I'm always looking at those mapping points and not the people first, but how does this happen?

And then if I need to invest in people, make very clear that those people understand what their role is in achieving that value, and then think to yourself about how I'm going to incorporate it in other ways that make it more efficient for the customer to just naturally realize it. And you're great.

Then your CX experience is going the right direction. So I think it's pretty simple. It's about when and how I deliver value, and everything else will fall into place. It's not one formula. Depends on the product and the company.

Alon: To summarize this great chapter in our Flourish CX podcast set: If you don't know your time to value and you don't know how to map that value, then that's what you got to start with.

Understanding the value to your customers, how you gather it, what’s the way, look at data, optimize, rinse, repeat, feedback loop and voice of the customer. Because at the end of the day, if the customers don't see value, neither will you.

Dixie: Exactly. It’s a perfect summary.

Alon: Excellent, Dixie. Thank you so much for this chat. The Flourish community is better for having you on the show. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Flourish CX. To learn more head over to zoominsoftware.com/podcast and follow along wherever you get your audio.

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