Google Fiber appoints first growth officer - here’s her plan

Google Fiber's newly appointed chief growth officer, Melani Griffith, believes in the power of customer experience to reduce subscriber churn.

“Having a great experience for our customers is as important to me, if not more important, than how I'm growing the overall customer base,” Griffith told Fierce Telecom.

"Customers look around because they're fundamentally unhappy with the service they're getting already. We are going to make sure they're not, because we are going to have transformational customer experience."

Griffith was Google Fiber’s VP of customer engagement for five years, and last week became its first-ever chief growth officer. In an announcement the company said the new role will be responsible for overseeing the entire customer lifespan from brand and marketing, sales, digital, customer service and public relations.

That role will be just as much about Google Fiber’s growth as maintaining its existing subscriber base.

“We are in a growth mode. The growth part is incredibly important,” Griffth said. “But equal to the growth part is making sure that we are giving our customers a transformational experience so that they want to remain our customers.”

Griffith’s ideal scenario is that Google Fiber subscribers are the company’s best marketing channel, “evangelizing” others by talking about their service.

“I want other people talking about how great their internet service is and that they get it from [Google Fiber] and that is why people buy it,” she said.

Griffith noted that generally, customer service surveys and scores are low in the cable and ISP industry.

“I mean, people prefer their experiences with the IRS and gas stations more than they do with this industry,” she added.

In many ways and particularly since COVID, internet has become a necessity Griffith compared to power and water. “For people, internet is their lifeblood, and we have not treated our customers with the same recognition of how important it is as an industry,” she said. “We need to recognize that this experience is incredibly important to them, and the demand on this service only gets higher.”

Google Fiber is taking several actions to better its subscriber experience. It's auto-crediting customers that experience a service outage and proactively switching out boxes that are not providing the level of speed that it's committed to, for example.

Google Fiber is also focused on “personalizing customer experience,” from how a customer wants to communicate with the company (e.g. text versus email) to using an app to check the “health” of their internet service in real time.

Griffith said it’s important to help subscribers choose a speed tier that makes sense for their lifestyle. As she put it, for instance: “Do you just have your laptop and love to watch Netflix at home and it's just you in your super fun apartment? Or are you a massive gamer with three screens, and you will die if there's any jitter while you play?”

Last week Google Fiber demonstrated how a household could use its nascent residential 20-gig service. But even though the company is touting its speed capabilities, it will still only recommend its highest tiers for those who really need them.

“We don't want to just say oh, we're going to sell you 2-gig because we feel like it,” said Griffith. “You may have different needs. We want to understand what people's lifestyles are and serve them that way.”

As for her new title, Griffith said the chief growth officer role is “so important, because we're going to do something, frankly, that nobody else has ever done. We are going to redefine customer experience. We're already starting to do that. We have a lot more to do, and we will continue to do that.”