Customer Experience

What can other companies learn from the successes and failures of your adoption of experience strategy?: 

Key learnings include:

  1. Don’t go it alone. Instead, seek out experts, partner with them, and learn. Share your experiences in return. You can also learn from leaders and experts outside your team, department, or company.
  2. Executive support is critical: Top company execs must understand the benefits of an “experience-first” strategy, and the complexity of implementing such a strategy. They must also support the effort to do so, from start to finish. We’ve been fortunate to have the vocal and active support of our CEO from Day 1.
  3. Go for quick wins early: To make a splash at the start, pick projects where you can quickly make a visible, obviously significant impact on user experience.
  4. Make everyone a partner: Educate your execs, managers, and employees in the value of putting experience first. Teach them how to do this in their jobs, and help them to do it—to both their and your benefit. Make clear that everyone has a user, and a duty to improve that user’s experience. In addition, watch for design leaders in the making in unexpected places. Be creative in using Design Thinking to connect employees with one another, wherever they might be. Touch and track every major business and operational function at your company, to guarantee that design and innovation are both pervasive and persuasive elements of your business.
  5. Celebrate all successes: By celebrating successes, you give a pat on the back to those who’ve earned it, and you show everyone else that putting experience first can bring them attention and praise. Be sure to celebrate all experience improvements, ranging from those that better the lives of product users, to those that make it easier to use company-internal systems, such as intranets.
  6. Pick impactful collaborators for big project investments: Your resources are limited and you don’t want to deplete them. Neither do you want to undermine your own credibility by boiling the ocean or working on projects that won’t have an impact. Pick collaborators who’ve shown they can get things done, and who can help you to get big wins by significantly impacting the experience of a large number of people. At the same time, be empathetic within your company. Some groups will get Design Thinking right away, while others will take longer. Don’t assume it will be an instant learning experience for all. Be patient and put yourself in the shoes of others who’ve never experienced this approach to problem solving.
  7. Remember: It’s a journey, not a destination. Culture change and leadership development is an ongoing process of evolution and revolution. Be flexible and adjust as the company responds to new ideas.


How does your company articulate its experience strategy?: 

We articulate our strategy in several forums: Customer Experience now reports to the CEO. As a result, we’re able to define a strategy from the top down in conjunction with other executive divisions such as product, marketing, sales, and support. Design Thinking is now formally part of our corporate strategy and will soon be included as one of the Citrix Leadership Blueprint competencies, against which all employees are measured during the annual review process. Supporting mechanisms include:

  1. Feature content on the company website, and our Design Matters website: This includes articles and video updates on projects we’re driving, as well as celebrations of those who’ve made an impact, either in partnership with us or on their own. In each case, we tie the story to a broader narrative, explain its value, and outline our experience vision and strategy for achieving it.
  2. Other employee communications and presentations: Catherine has made several presentations on our experience work in our quarterly all-employee meetings. She, Managing Director Julie Baher, Senior Manager Andrew Day, Principal Designer Uday Gajendar, and others have also made dozens of presentations on customer experience work and its value, to a wide range other employee forums.
  3. Design Principles: We feature these in office posters, a YouTube video, as well as countless presentations to execs and employees. These principles tie our Design Thinking method to a concrete, succinct set of techniques for implementing it.
  4. Design Thinking classes and workshops: We’ve trained more than 4,000 Citrix employees and execs in Design Thinking—our method for understanding users’ core needs, finding ways to meet these needs, then successfully implementing those that will have the maximum positive impact on user experience. We’ve also sent more than 100 execs and employees to the Stanford d.School boot camp, to get a crash course in Design Thinking.
  5. Press features: A number of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and Fast Company have featured the work of Catherine and the Citrix CX Group. In all cases, we make sure these articles and videos serve to convey the Citrix experience vision and show how we’re implementing it. In this way, press coverage educates our customers and peers about our cutting edge experience design work.


What structural and leadership changes were required to implement your experience strategy, and how did they affect you success in realizing the strategy?: 

Of critical importance have been:

1. Elevating Customer Experience within the company: In October 2012, with the promotion of Catherine to Senior Vice President reporting directly to the CEO, Customer Experience became a major player in the overall business strategy at Citrix. The team works to empower all divisions of the company, from executives to individual contributors, to make innovation and customer focus central to their thinking. Our goal is to equip an entire organization with 21st century leadership skills: from curiosity, to a bias toward action; and experimentation, to the ability to collaborate across boundaries. We believe these are the leadership skills that will drive innovation across the business. Often referred to as a “center of excellence” for design-driven innovation, this new organization brings Design Thinking and doing to the highest levels of executive leadership at Citrix. We consider everyone at the company an active contributor in creating exceptional experiences for customers and partners, both inside and outside the company. At Citrix, everyone can be a design leader.

2. Executive support and collaboration: In addition to the support of CEO Mark Templeton, the enthusiastic, active support of other Citrix execs including David Friedman, head of HR and Legal; David Henshall, COO and CFO; Al Monserrat, SVP of Sales and Services; and others. In each case, we’ve worked to earn the active support of these execs, by collaborating with their organizations to make real improvements in the experience they give their users. Key efforts include the revamp of the Citrix intranet; leveraging the creativity and expertise of salespeople to make their newly on-boarded colleagues more effective on Day 1; and big improvements to financial reporting techniques.

3. A world-class CX team: We’ve built a team of A-players, hiring UX and visual designers, managers, editors, and other specialists from such companies as Adobe, Apple, PayPal, and eBay. We’ve supplemented them by hiring junior staff coming out of top-notch design programs at Carnegie Mellon, SCAD, Stanford, and other top schools.

4. Creating a Business Design team: Our Business Design team, created in 2012, fosters collaboration with all divisions across the company (Sales, Human Resources, Legal, Operations, IT, etc.) as part of a series of strategic initiatives, and to develop exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. The BD team drives projects that are having or will have a lasting impact on the experience of Citrix employees and product users. Key projects include a companywide Design Thinking education and training apparatus, the redesign of the company intranet, and design and prototyping of innovative new products based on Citrix product APIs.

5. Engaging with every part of the Citrix organization: We’ve made a concerted effort to run classes and do meaningful projects with mangers and employees in every part of Citrix. We work across specialties, from Product to Marketing to Sales to IT and HR, and across geos, collaborating with our peers around the world. In this way, we spread the word about the value of design, get people working to implement Design Thinking to improve the experience of a wide range of users, and sow the seeds of dynamism and innovation throughout the company.


How has your company’s adoption of experience strategy manifested in your products, services, and other customer- or user-facing touchpoints?: 

We’ve had a major positive impact on a wide range of Citrix products that have won more than 20 awards since we adopted an “experience-first” approach. Of note:

  1. XenDesktop 7, released in 2013 to much acclaim. It’s now quicker and easier to get started using XenDesktop, and to set up and manage even the most complex virtualization infrastructures.
  2. XenMobile 8.6 and the Worx suite: XenMobile has been a big success; in large part because of the quality of experience it offers both mobile device and application administrators and end users. Particularly notable is the Worx suite, which leverages the efforts of our research and design team, to give end users a consumer sector-standard experience, while using fully secure, enterprise-managed mobile applications.
  3. Citrix Receiver for Mobile, which won the 2011 Best of Interop and 2012 Best Mobile for Enterprise awards. This involved an intensive collaboration between designers, developers, and product management and led to radical simplifications of end-user workflows and a greatly improved user experience when using Receiver on multiple devices.

More broadly, as noted above, our focus on “experience first” has brought Citrix to the attention of a number of top professional and general-interest media outlets. This in turn has created great buzz about our work, and our company, both among our peers and the public.


In setting out to adopt its experience strategy, what goals or measures did your company set for itself, and what did you learn from how well those were achieved?: 

Our goal from the start was to leverage the power of great experiences to give us a competitive advantage in all the areas in which we make and sell products and services. We took as our models companies such as Virgin, Disney, and Apple. Perhaps naively, we didn’t realize that implementing design change would in fact be the hardest part of the journey…turning Design Thinking into real results. We’ve done a variety of things to ensure the success of our new design leaders. Key among them:

  1. Focusing our Design Thinking workshops on participants’ work: Day 2 of our 2-day Design Thinking workshop focuses on helping participants identify and develop a plan to tackle a key problem from their daily work. We help them craft an execution plan around a design challenge from their everyday responsibilities. Participants explore how their project benefits Citrix and Citrix customers, and then create a journey map of the current landscape, noting any current customer pain points and uncovering how user needs are served today. As part of the plan, participants create a core team and extended team, subject matter experts with whom they will engage, and a clear executive sponsor. The plan also shapes their empathy work by identifying analogous and extreme users to target. Participants end the day with a commitment to taking that crucial first step to execute their plan.
  2. Leveraging our network of Catalysts: Nearly 120 people are designated as “Catalysts” at Citrix. A Catalyst is a graduate of the Design Thinking boot camp, charged with effecting change in their area of specialty and sharing their learnings and Design Thinking expertise with others. They live within different functions in the business, which multiplies the effectiveness of our efforts to spread the power of Design Thinking across the company.
  3. Finding and working with great collaborators: We’ve found that without great, results-oriented collaborators, it’s hard to have success implementing an experience-first agenda. We’ve learned to focus on projects where we can work with these folks, whether they be product managers, intranet specialists, salespeople, legal affairs staff, or finance analysts.
  4. Engagement as a measure of success: Almost 4,000 Citrix employees have participated in hands-on design training, and demand for these classes has been overwhelming. We measure success, in part, by knowing we have a constant list of employees ready and eager to attend internal and Stanford classes to learn more about Design Thinking. We currently have 250 people scheduled for internal design classes (after adding two courses to meet demand), and still have 35 people on the waiting list.
  5. Embedded experts: The Business Design team embeds their innovation leaders into live projects. They advise project managers throughout the company on their implementations of Design Thinking, so far serving more than a dozen major departments (Product, Finance, HR, Sales, Legal, Customer Marketing, etc.) on more than 50 projects, ranging from workspace design to process re-invention. The momentum and call for support has been purely viral, as leaders with a design vision reach out to the team for support.
  6. Return on Investment (ROI): We’re calculating ROIs in the millions across projects, demonstrating that an experience-first strategy is better for business, whether it’s a new product being launched, or a revamped internal process.
  7. Thought leadership: News articles in top-tier business publications position Citrix as a thought leader, and describe the success of Design Thinking at the company.