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Fannie Mae, IBM execs among CXPA Impact Award winners amid CX Day celebration

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Fannie Mae, IBM execs among CXPA Impact Award winners amid CX Day celebration

2020 CXPA Impact Awards

They may be transforming the way their organizations operate in critical ways, but winners of the 2020 CXPA Impact Awards shared a common sense of humility and a desire to credit their team members, judges said in a ceremony broadcast Tuesday.

As part of its annual CX Day celebration, the CXPA unveiled the Impact Award winners while also announcing a new Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Emerging Leader Awards program. Details about eligibility and entries will be posted later this month, the CXPA said. (Disclosure: I am a member of the CXPA but cover it with complete editorial independence.)


The 2020 CXPA Impact Award winners included Steve Bieri, client experience advocate at IBM, who led a project that transformed the way the tech giant handles surveys across its customer, channel and partner ecosystem.

CX Future founder and CEO Faran Niaz, who was among he Impact Award judges, noted that Bieri and his team not only grew the number of surveys IBM conducts but made sense of more than 20,000 responses. Bieri’s project also involved an impressive use of artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze the survey data and segment it to improve different aspects of IBM customer journeys, Niaz said.

“He said over the last two years, NPS has improved by 50 per cent,” Niaz said, noting that Bieri was quick to deflect attention away from himself when he was contacted about his win. “He was constantly using the word ‘unbelievable’ and ‘talented’ when he was talking about his team.”

At Fannie Mae, director of Single Family Russ Shield was recognized with an Impact Award for his work in drilling into the different reasons more than 40,000 people call into the organization in order to provide more consistent outcomes.

Ian Stokol, senior customer experience manager at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and another CXPA judge, said Shield’s efforts have required breaking down silos and garnering buy-in from a range of stakeholders. 

High-touch people skills to engage with the right ones and solve those that come out with complex organizations or issues. The way he brings that humility and his ability to engage people with the biggest challenges that Fannie Mae faced.

“He literally is the glue that brings the organization together,” he said. “He gets people to work together in order to solve issues, and not make it about themselves.”

Serena Riley, director of customer experience at Ann Arbor, Mich.-based software firm LLamsoft, earned her Impact Award from the CXPA for the development of a community portal that consolidated a process of accessing resources that normally required between seven to 13 URLs and five or more user/pass accounts.

“What really stood out was around the focus of looking at the discipline and how to push forward in a structured way each year,” said judge William Mulhern, CX manager at Cisco. “(In talking to her), there was always this idea of pushing forward.”

Another tech firm, UKG, got the Impact Award spotlight based on the work of Roxie Strohmenger, its vice-president of CX strategy, who have overseen projects to build out diagnostics, explanations and guidance monitoring efforts.

Stokol said Strohmenger’s nomination embodied her mastery of the CX Competency Framework and demonstrated how true leaders can drive impact.

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“There was a lot of physical evidence about how her program is directing benefiting organizational outcomes,” he said. “It’s having that deep intimacy from the data that doesn’t just come from looking at the numbers, but seeing what the numbers mean.”

The CXPA broadcast included a video where winners were informed about their victories, with almost all of them near-incredulous.

“CXPA sets the standard,” said Strohmenger. “It’s the benchmark. It’s what you aspire to.”

Shield agreed.

“It’s validation of the work and the time and energy spent thinking about the customer,” he said. “My main message (to other CX leaders) is keep at it. It pays off.”



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