PeerBound Podcast Feature: AskNicely CEO, Kirsten Newbold-Knipps’ Journey through Customer-Centric Leadership

AskNicely Team

In a recent episode of the PeerBound Podcast, Chief Edition, Kirsten Newbold-Knipp, the CEO of AskNicely, sat down with host Sunny Manibhanan to discuss her unique journey that led her to leading Team Purple at AskNicely. The discussion showcases Kirsten's quest from the hospitality sector to the pinnacle of tech leadership, highlighting her deep-rooted commitment to customer experience, outside-the-box problem solving and compassionate leadership. 

The Early Years: A Foundation Built on Customer Experience

Kirsten's foundational years in the hospitality industry were critical in shaping her customer-centric philosophy that remains so prevalent in her role at AskNicely today. Following in her father's footsteps—despite his reservations—she embarked on a career that taught her the nuances of customer service from the ground up at renowned establishments like The Breakers and the Ritz Carlton. Kirsten learned early that managing customer expectations is crucial, saying, "Happiness is the difference between expectations and reality." She explains how valuable these early experiences with customers were – “they gave me a flavor for what it’s like to help people have a wonderful experience.” This early career stage taught her the importance of not just meeting but exceeding customer expectations to cultivate lasting loyalty. 

Transitioning to Tech

The move to the tech industry was a pivotal shift in Kirsten's career, sparked by her interaction with a new software product at her hospitality role. This exposure to tech product management opened her eyes to new possibilities beyond the operational challenges of hospitality. Reflecting on this period, Kirsten shares, "I thought the concept [of the software] was so interesting... And I learned through that what product management was, how you actually might run a business with it, how you understand customer needs, how you then build a solution to that problem.” This experience illuminated the path towards product management, where she could influence and innovate at the intersection of technology and customer needs.

Leadership in Tech: Learning and Leading

Through her roles at Siemens, Intel, and later HubSpot, Kirsten discovered her passion for product marketing and her aptitude for fast-paced, dynamic environments found in startups. Her time at HubSpot, as one of the first 100 employees, was particularly formative. Kirsten describes this experience as a period of rapid growth and learning, where she was able to experiment and embrace the startup culture of moving quickly and learning from failures. This was where her fiery passion was truly ignited, “Gosh,  I loved engaging with customers. I loved understanding the market. I loved building messaging and positioning and working with sales to help them win” she says. 

AskNicely: Leading with Customer-Centricity

In her role as CEO of AskNicely, Kirsten’s experience, skills and passions come together in a perfect symphony, reflecting her career-long commitment to enhancing how businesses use tech, and engage with their customers and staff to create awesome experiences. 

She brings this idea to life explaining her recent experience with AskNicely customer, Aptive Pest Control. Kirsten went along to some of the Aptive team huddles, and met a gentleman named James on the frontline who had received some constructive feedback from a customer. He explained that although it was initially hard to hear, it lit a competitive spark within him, and he used the feedback to correct his service delivery in that specific interaction and every interaction going forwards. The customer was thrilled, and now requests James by name every time. Kirsten says “Now, that's what you want. He heard some hard feedback. He took it to heart. He did a better job. And now that customer is like, no, no, I want James at my house every time. That's the kind of thing that will get James promoted, which is really, really nice.

Career Reflections: Tackling Challenges and Continuous Learning

Throughout the interview, Kirsten emphasizes the value of embracing challenges and continuous learning through feedback. Her career advice is grounded in practicality and strategic foresight. In her experience, "The bigger problem I tackled, the more likely I was to get that promotion, to earn that reward, to get to the place where there is recognition of the work and the impact that I've made." This philosophy has guided her through various industry sectors, and inspires her to lead through innovative approaches to problem solving, feedback, and recognition – which happens to align seamlessly with the AskNicely platform. 

Kirsten’s journey from hospitality to the CEO of a tech company underscores a career driven by customer focus, adaptability, and visionary leadership. Her story is not just about climbing the corporate ladder but about building a ladder that others can climb as well. Her leadership at AskNicely promises to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible in customer experience technology. Watch out! 

Tune in to the full episode on Apple or Spotify. 

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

AskNicely Team
About the author

AskNicely Team

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