Matthew Dixon

Matt Dixon is Executive Director of the Financial Services practice and Customer Contact Leadership Council at CEB.  In this capacity, he has management responsibility for the membership programs serving front office and back office financial services leaders and their teams, as well as the programs serving customer contact executives across industry. 

A seasoned research leader, Matt has overseen dozens of original quantitative and qualitative research studies on topics ranging from customer service strategy to sales effectiveness and has presented findings to hundreds of senior executives and management teams around the world, including those of many Fortune 500 companies.

In addition to his management responsibilities, Matt is a noted business writer.  His first book, The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation (Penguin, November 2011), was a Wall Street Journal bestseller and won acclaim as “the most important advance in selling for many years” (SPIN Selling author Neil Rackham) and “the beginning of a wave that will take over a lot of selling organizations in the next decade.” (Business Insider).   He’s been published multiple times in the Harvard Business Review­­ with articles such as “Dismantling the Sales Machine,” “The End of Solution Sales” (July-August 2012) and “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers” (July-August 2010) and he is a frequent contributor on sales and customer service topics on a number of blogs, including that of the Harvard Business Review.  His most recent book is on customer service, The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty, was released by Penguin in September 2013.

Prior to his current role, Matt had management responsibility for CEB’s Sales Practice and held management and leadership roles in CEB’s internal New Product Development function.

Matt holds a Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh as well as a B.A. in International Studies from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he graduated summa cum laude.  Matt currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife and four children.  

Nick Toman

Nick Toman oversees the global research operation and product development for CEB’s Sales Leadership Council, which serves more than 650 sales organizations around the world.

For the past decade, Nick has conducted numerous research studies in the space of customer service and sales effectiveness and presented these findings to Fortune 500 business leaders and management teams. Nick’s expertise spans a variety of topics including talent management, customer experience management, sales and service operations management, sales and service strategy, sales enablement and organizational culture. He most enjoys researching the intersection where behavioral economics and social science meet traditional business management.

Nick has authored several articles featured in Harvard Business Review (“Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers,” July-August 2010, "The End of Solution Sales," July-August 2012, and "Dismantling the Sales Machine," November 2013). He is a principle contributor to The Challenger Sale (Penguin/Portfolio, 2010) and ongoing research on the Challenger™ model and Insight Selling™ approach. Nick is a frequent contributor on sales and customer service topics for a number of blogs, including that of the Harvard Business Review and Freakonomics, as well as on CEB’s sales and customer service blogs.

Nick holds dual degrees from the University of Chicago: A.B., Sociology and A.B., Law, Letters & Society. He graduated with both general academic honors, as well as departmental honors in Sociology. Nick currently resides in Washington D.C., with his wife and son. In his spare time, Nick competes in tournament fishing and enjoys other outdoor activities.

Rick Delisi

As a senior director and executive advisor for CEB, Rick’s intense passion for communications and customer relations is only rivalled by his love of college basketball. When his alma mater Syracuse University isn’t playing, Rick’s attention is focused on helping executives unlock the extraordinary potential of communication to solve business problems and contribute to the bottom line.

Drawing on more than 20 years of experience, Rick tackles these challenges in addition to offering solutions in key topic areas including how to effectively manage social media, building communications strategies to drive measurable business results, enhancing the customer experience while continuing to reduce operating costs and boosting customer loyalty in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Rick is the co-author of The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty (Penguin USA, 2013). He is also a frequent contributor on sales and customer services topics on CEB’s marketing and communications and sales and customer service blogs, and as keynote speaker at events such as the Net Promoter Customer Experience Conference and the ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference.

Prior to his work with CEB, Rick spent more than two decades working as a journalist and in the airline and tourism industries, specializing in customer communication and public relations strategies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University. A native of Long Island, Rick resides with his family in Ashburn, Va.

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Principal Contributors

While this book has three authors on the cover, it is, like all CEB studies, the product of an enormous team undertaking. At the top of the list of contributors are several individuals who, along with the authors, formed the core of the research team behind this work:

Lara Ponomareff

Currently research director of our customer service program, Lara was the lead researcher on our work that uncovered the control quotient (CQ) as well as our work on customer service channel preferences—two studies discussed at length in this book. She was also a key lieutenant on several other critical studies that underpin this book—most notably our 2008 study that originally posited the notion of effort reduction. Through it all, Lara has been a phenomenal researcher, project manager, coach, and friend to all of those who have had the pleasure of working with her. A rare talent, Lara truly embodies all of the values we aspire to as a firm—Force of Ideas, Member Impact, Spirit of Generosity, and Stewardship of Exceptional Talent.

Peter Slease

Although he joined the team just as our initial discoveries about the power of the effortless experience were first uncovered, nobody has introduced this concept—and its implications—to more companies over the past several years than Pete. Working as an executive advisor, he has traveled the world many times over, conducting strategy-setting sessions and workshops covering every step of the low-effort journey. Pete possesses a truly rare combination of skills—he is both a former customer service leader as well as a former teacher—and this experience, as well as his incredible knowledge of our research, has made him invaluable to the thousands of CEB members he has worked with, as well as to the authors of this book. All three of us consider Pete to be truly extraordinary, both as a teammate and as a friend.

Lauren Pragoff

Lauren was, as we say at CEB, “present at the creation”—not just of the customer effort concept, but of our customer service research practice itself. Starting as a research associate with the program, Lauren is now a project manager, responsible for major deliverables and member engagements across the calendar year. Over her many years in our customer service practice, she has played a role in nearly every research study and every finding referenced in this book. Topping it all off, Lauren is a truly gifted coach and developer of research talent. Nearly every researcher who has passed through the program in the past five years has Lauren to thank for their personal development and advancement in the firm.

Karen Freeman

A founding member of our customer service research team, Karen served as research director of the group from 2007 to 2008 and was the driving force and principal thought leader behind the original customer effort research study. She also coauthored our 2010 HBR article on the research, “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” Karen currently serves as managing director of CEB University, our internal learning and development function, which is responsible for, among other things, providing the latest training and development experiences to new CEB researchers. Karen was a recipient of the “Force of Ideas” award, one of the highest honors bestowed to a CEB employee, in 2010.


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