In the second of our interviews with thought leaders from the industry and across Questback, we got to talk to Julia Beizer, Chief Product Officer for Bloomberg Media about her views on digital, diversity and disruption.
Which boxset is currently getting in the way of you and your beauty sleep?
I’m a massive fan of True Detective on HBO. With the mystery of it and so many storylines to follow, I have to admit, I’m pretty obsessed.
What about when the sun comes up?
During the day, I run product for Bloomberg Media, the consumer-facing arm of Bloomberg. The Media Group is a small division, keeping customers ‘in the know’ with news and current affairs across television, radio and digital channels. Digital is my home base, so much of my day job is spent immersed in the interfaces where our customers meet us, those being the website, our apps and our streaming products.
What drew you to the Board of Questback?
Companies around the globe are waking up to how important it is to have a finger on the pulse of their customers and their employees. I also felt Questback was a fantastic strategic moment. Frank Møllerop, the CEO, is inspiring in his leadership style as well as his vision for the future of the feedback industry. The idea that feedback before long will be embedded in workplace productivity tools such as Microsoft Teams is thrilling. It’s a cool journey that I’m really excited to be part of.
Who has the power to be more disruptive, your customers or your competitors?
I believe your customers can be a disruptive force and often for the better! Customer expectations are growing by the minute. They expect you to be faster, stronger, better and more creative than you were before. You’ve got to pre-empt what they’re thinking, and this is what I take to heart in my day job. Always trying to make sure I’m one step ahead of where the customer wants to be, and in hyper-competitive times I think this is more important than ever.
Does size matter when you’re operating in hyper-competitive times?
I think hustle matters as does customer fanaticism. If all of your oars are pointing in that direction, what size you are really shouldn’t matter. Thinking about some of the great disruptors of our times, Apple, Google, Amazon. They all started small and grew from there. I believe that as long as you’re laser-focused on the need (or the inherent need) of the people you want to reach, how big you are shouldn’t matter one little bit.
How are you seeing customer expectations and behaviors changing?
The most significant change I see is in our expectation for everything we want to be available when we want, which is for most, at the click of a button or scroll of the screen. Just think about how long you’re willing to wait for a video to load on your smartphone. The answer’s not very long. It really wasn’t that long ago when you’d ’suffer the buffer,’ waiting for content to load. However, customers won’t put up with that anymore. It’s crazy to think that change in dynamic happened at lightning speed, within just a couple of years.
How can feedback help companies deliver the ultimate customer service?
As businesses, we need to continually strive to serve people what they want and when they want it. If I think about the B2C (business to the consumer) world, the companies that are doing better than the rest are the ones that are making that happen, within a few taps of a finger. Feedback is a crucial component of any business strategy. It gets you inside your customers’ heads to understand what they expect, where they’re headed. Once you get a sense of that, you can start to figure out the strategy for delivering that all-encompassing customer experience.
What are your views on the role of technology in society?
The reality is that we’re at the very early days of what technology will be able to do. But, one of the lessons we’ve learned over the last couple of years is that technology has the incredible power to unlock forces for good into society. The opposite is also true. Take machine learning, for example, that technology doesn’t train itself; rather humans train the models to begin with. Let’s take the analogy of fire. It can do amazing things, but it can also burn down your house. So, as a human race at the forefront of this, we need to be thinking and acting responsibly. Together, we’ve got to figure out the best way to leverage all of this incredibly powerful stuff for the betterment, not the detriment, of our society as a whole.
What would your advice be to your younger self just starting on your career?
In short, say yes as often as you can. Try new things. Try new experiences. I started my career as a lifestyle reporter, and along the way, I got asked to work on a tech project. It changed the entire course of my career. It’s often human nature to stay in a place where you feel safe and very comfortable. Yet, if you push yourself outside of that comfort zone, you’ll open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Is there a particular company or industry you think is doing a great job of tackling gender equality in the workplace?
I’m not sure that a specific company comes to mind, but I do think that companies the world over are waking up to the reality that when you add women into leadership positions, your results are stronger. Additionally, when you listen to a diverse set of voices, that diversity is undoubtedly going to be more reflective of your customer base. So, those companies adjusting the makeup of their boardroom to be more inclusive are taking an important first step. Do I wish it was happening more quickly? You bet I do.
Why do you think the gender pay gap continues to be so persistent?
First, I have to say, I’m not convinced that the blanket reason for the gap is due to women taking career breaks when starting a family, which is one of the often-cited ones. In fact, my career took off right about the time I was becoming a mother. Instead, I think it has to do with the cultural and unconscious bias that happens early on in the hiring process, from the moment a woman comes into a company. Typically, they come in on lower base pay, and once that benchmark is set, the gap is set too. Employees tend not to question gender pay parity as they progress because they have a tendency to believe in the meritocratic nature of their employer, even if the pay gap evidence suggests otherwise. Companies need to work toward parity from the get-go and paying the person for the job, as opposed to the lowest they can get away with.
Do you think stories are something we tell our kids at bedtime?
Funny you should ask that. In fact, a lot of what I do on a day to day basis is tracking and understanding the user journey. For example, how am I going to start a relationship with a customer? How am I going to educate my customers on what I have to offer? Crucially, how am I going to provide value continually? The moment I stop providing value, my customers will cease to value me. Using storytelling as a way to engage, educate and excite is a big part of my work and a huge part of modern business today. We always have to be relevant or our customers will edit us right out.
How do you differentiate products or services that are very similar, if not identical to a competitors’?
It’s true, in every sector, there are similar products and services competing in crowded marketplaces. But, if you anchor your efforts around the precise problem you’re solving for your customers and prospects, the expression, the brand, the experience will be different. It’s that experience which will ultimately drive differentiation.
Last, but by no means least, how does customer feedback drive innovation?
One of the unintended consequences of how companies are leaning into data and employee and customer feedback is the conundrum of knowing what to do with it. Let me share an example from my career: my customers told me they wanted a ‘search function’ for a product I was responsible for. So, I made the best search function ever known to man. But only after I’d built it and the search complaints persisted, did I realize that it was actually a bigger problem than search. It was in fact about ‘discovery’. I tell you this because it’s a reminder that data alone won’t give you the answers. It’s useless without proper interpretation and human insight, which is one of the reasons I love Questback’s raison d’etre: People matter. Get their insight.
About the Interviewee
Julia Beizer | Chief Product Officer at Bloomberg Media
Julia is the Chief Product Officer of Bloomberg Media, Bloomberg L.P.’s global multi-platform media organization, shaping the company’s consumer-facing experiences across all platforms and devices. Prior to taking on this role, she held senior product roles at Oath, HuffPost and The Washington Post. She spends her days sweating the details of user experience and execution.