Q&A: Talking with CRM Customer Experience Leader Sandra

Leadership that’s focused on connecting with others

4 min read

November 2019

Portrait of Progressive Customer Service Leader Sandra

While Customer Experience Leader Sandra was pursuing her MBA, she frequently asked herself, “How can I take this knowledge back to make my team better?” That thought’s indicative of her leadership style. She’s here to help others; to lift them up and make them better. We caught up with Sandra to find out more about her outlook on leadership and what makes Progressive feel like a continuous adventure for her.

Tell me about your role at Progressive.

Previously, as a site manager in our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) organization, I oversaw other leaders within our group. Together, we led our Specialty organization, which includes groups like our Snapshot Service Team, Customer Preservation Team, Internal Relationship Center Assist Line, as well as our groups who work directly with our customers and agents when it comes to sales and service for policies. I really saw that role as being the support for our people and processes.

Just recently, I’ve become Director of the Customer Contact Journey in CRM. In this role, I essentially get to extend my work as a site leader. I’ll continue to support our contact center teams in many ways while also developing strategy and designing experiences for our customers. So I’m still in the business of advocating for our customers: now it’s both internal and external. In addition, I’ll manage our Research and Testing unit and coordinate the design of customer experiences that have diversity and inclusion at their center.

What makes our services organization unique?

For starters, we call them relationship centers because we truly believe our role is about relationship building—with our customers and our team members. We’re a data-driven company, for sure. But for my former teams especially, we see it as a people job that wears a metrics costume. What do I mean by that? I focus on building relationships and making the right connections with my folks. I need them to feel good about themselves and what they do. If that all falls into place, then we can accomplish any goal.

What’s your perspective on career pathing at Progressive?

What I appreciate about working here is that many people truly build their careers here. You can work across business areas and broaden your horizons while staying at Progressive. You can go from Customer Care to Commercial Lines, from Commercial Lines to IT, and beyond. And you can do that while keeping your tenure, accrued vacation time, benefits, etc. It’s really something. The big question is really just, “How do you keep yourself relevant?”

At Progressive, we want you to grow and develop, whether you plan to stay in your current work group or go elsewhere in the company. Your career path is what you make it. Once you realize that you’re the driver of your career and your leaders are here to help you realize the outcome you want, the sky’s the limit. But you have to be doing the work to keep yourself relevant and ready to apply for that job you want when it opens up.

What’s helped you stay relevant?

I started in our sales organization about 21 years ago. I was part of our first direct sales class. That’s how new the function was when I joined. Around 2003, I moved into my first official leadership role, managing in the relationship center. I’ve stayed in leadership in this part of the organization ever since, and I’ve kept myself challenged in my roles.

I’ve been fortunate to have outlets for development. One in particular was working in the infancy of our diversity and inclusion efforts here. I was a founding member of one of our Employee Resource Groups (ERG), specifically, the Progressive African American Network. I was way out of my comfort zone, but that work taught me a lot about the ability to influence without authority. It allowed me the opportunity to work with leaders that I likely would not have worked with otherwise, and I expanded my business knowledge. In so many ways, it helped me be a better leader for my people.

See how you could make a difference with our customers

Sandra Adams is Director of the Customer Contact Journey in CRM at Progressive Insurance. She’s also an active member of Progressive's African American Network (an employee resource group), previously serving as a member of their National Board. She continues to support Progressive’s African American Network as a facilitator and mentor.

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