April 03, 2022

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Customer experience: Go big or go home

The business podcast where powerhouse founders, CEOs, CTOs, COOs and change-makers share how they drive innovation and forward progress.

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When you think of used-car buying, it doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture. It’s almost as if the process was designed to deceive innocent customers looking for a good car at a decent price.

Toby Russell, founder and co-CEO of Shift, an online platform for buying and selling used cars, saw a huge opportunity in an industry that is notorious for making it as difficult as possible for customers to come out ahead.

“Buying a car is a massive deal,” he said. “We personally had bad experiences and thought that technology could be used to really transform the space.”

Dig In to Stand Out

Recognizing opportunity is one thing. Building a business around it is another. With all the stops and starts Russell experienced at Shift and in other ventures, he learned that staying focused on customer experience was the one non-negotiable way to succeed.

“Too often, the customer experience is forgotten from the start, or is unintentionally deprioritized as the business grows and scales and things like margin, marketing efforts or internal organizational structures are put on the forefront,” Russell said. “Plus, add on a layer of complexity to the business or industry that the company is operating in, and they could be in for a whole heap of trouble.”

Russell talks a lot about working backward from the customer, not forward from the business. Remaining disciplined about what you’re trying to achieve for them provides clarity when those complicating factors come into play. At Shift, that resulted in designing a system based on the customer’s end-to-end experience that could take the guesswork out of the buying process.

Change Experiences to Change the World

It doesn’t quite sound like your typical car-buying experience, does it?

Russell’s mission to transform the industry with e-commerce is full of lessons learned and creative solutions. Hear more about his journey using technology to make a traditionally impersonal transaction more human. Listen at Mission.org.

The Business X factors podcast features top executives and their X factors — the tools, technology and culture that give them a competitive advantage. It is produced by Mission.org and sponsored by Hyland. New episodes drop every Thursday.

Change the world. Don’t just mess around with 3 percent, 5 percent changes. Look for the 5x, the 10x — go after that.

— Toby Russell, Founder and CoCEO of Shift