Syrup Culture

Welcoming VP of Customer Experience Katie Kenney to Syrup

Greg Babel
Greg Babel
May 1, 2024
5 minutes to read

The Syrup team keeps getting stronger. Our newest leader, VP of Customer Experience Katie Kenney, sat down for a quick chat. Keep reading for her thoughts on refining how we put our customer obsession into practice, how cold is too cold for a summer splash, and the dangers of getting food advice from Buddy the Elf. We’re incredibly excited to welcome the newest member of the rapidly growing Syrup team:

Greg (Digital + Content Marketing Manager): Welcome to the team! To get things started, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Katie (VP Customer Experience): Katie Kenney here. I live on the south shore of Boston with my husband Andrew (also an early-stage tech start-up enthusiast) and our two kids: Miles is 7 and Macy is 5, so they keep us busy.

I grew up in Maine, which is still my favorite place in the world to be — you will catch me there a ton in the summers! However, I grew up on an island and now find the water far too cold for my liking, so you’ll find me hanging out at the lake these days.

Greg: I heard you fought hard to ensure your title was VP of Customer Experience (CX) — compare that to something like VP of Customer Success. Can you walk through your thinking?

Katie: The fight wasn’t too hard — James (Ed.: Syrup CEO James Theuerkauf) was actually the one that caught onto the small nuance in my terminology and quickly adopted it himself.

I prefer to call the team Customer Experience for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, we as a company have a collective responsibility to ensure that our customers are successful. There obviously needs to be joint ownership over that outcome.

And when I hear Customer Success (CS), I hear an organization that focuses more narrowly on the outcomes of individual customers.

Customer Experience (CX), on the other hand, encompasses the entire journey a customer goes through when interacting with Syrup. Which also of course includes ensuring successful outcomes! But it’s ultimately a much more comprehensive way of approaching the relationship.

Greg: Tell us a little about your career journey.

Katie: I graduated from Bates College with a Major in Economics and a Minor in Rhetoric. I actually started my career in early-stage companies and fell in love with the entrepreneurial mindset and passion that those teams tend to possess. I love always having a big meaty problem to solve or process to create.

I started in sales, but I quickly learned that while I loved working with customers, I enjoyed the post-sale process of seeing their outcomes fulfilled much more. In 2011, I started at Acquia, a leading provider of cloud-based digital experience management solutions, which at the time was around 50 people. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to wear many hats and watch a company go through many phases and transformations.

More recently I worked at Bitrise, a CI/CD platform designed specifically for mobile app development, where I was able to get back to my roots and build out the Customer Experience team.

Greg: And so now you’re at Syrup. What helped solidify for you that this was the right next step?

Katie: Honestly, as I began to think about what was next for me, I had a few non-negotiables and a couple of nice-to-haves — and Syrup checked the boxes on all of them.

First, I knew who I surrounded myself with was my number one requirement. I wanted to be surrounded by super passionate, like-minded folks who wanted to do amazing work. Every conversation that I had with the folks here at Syrup fulfilled that requirement and brought to light how much Syrup cares about the team, the customers, and the mission.

Second, I wanted to have a role where I felt I could help make a positive impact on the world, and the sustainability impact of Syrup’s technology resonated deeply with my values and aspirations.

Lastly, AI was an area I really wanted to dive deep into — while it wasn’t a requirement, it was definitely the cherry on top!

Greg: Folks at the fashion/apparel companies Syrup serves range from AI experts to curious neophytes. How can we ensure everyone has a 12/10 customer experience as they adopt our AI tool, regardless of their experience?

Katie: I love this question and love that one of Syrup's values includes providing a 12/10 customer experience. To do so, we need to ensure a consistently excellent customer experience, regardless of the user's level of expertise.

We can do this in the product by focusing on user-centric design to ensure that it is equally impactful for both the AI curious and the experts — or through areas like ensuring the onboarding experience is appropriately tailored to the user's proficiency level.

It’s also super important to create feedback loops and ensure we have access to the customer’s voice across all proficiency levels. Listening to different personas using the product really enables the team to iterate and remove customer roadblocks, ensuring a seamless experience for everyone.

Greg: What are the biggest challenges specific to the fashion/apparel space that you and your team can help solve?

Katie: I think there are many areas where the team will contribute to key industry challenges, but I’ll highlight two here.

When it comes to the end user, our team can help with the most precious of resources: time. We can help ensure a customer is enabled and optimizing their use of Syrup, which we know is happening when they are making smarter, faster inventory planning decisions.

Maximizing their usage of Syrup allows customers to remove a lot of the manual overhead of planning, providing both a huge time saver for the planner as well as added margin for the company from both employee time saved and less excess inventory.

When it comes to the industry as a whole, the team can have a huge impact on sustainability. By ensuring our customers are able to reap the full benefits of the Syrup platform, we can help our customers sell more while manufacturing less, helping to avoid the overproduction that often gets sold at deep discounts or goes unsold and can end up in landfills or incinerators.

Greg: I’ll ask you the same question I asked Alex as we wrap up this chat: what’s your favorite way to enjoy maple syrup?

Katie: Personally, I prefer syrup on french toast (preferably with fresh raspberries and strawberries). My kids adopt a ‘Buddy the Elf’ approach and see it as a food group.

Interested in joining Katie and the rest of the Syrup team on our mission to make commerce less wasteful? Explore all of our open roles.

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Welcoming VP of Customer Experience Katie Kenney to Syrup

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