Carminia Panlilio has always loved having a sense of purpose and a compelling goal. And as Viasat’s Customer Experience Director, she’s got both.
Her charge is to help ensure Viasat customers love not just its connectivity services, but every interaction with the company. That includes everything from their first glance at the website and chat interactions to the apps and online bill payment. She also works to ensure the experience is intuitive and positive for users of all kinds around the globe, including airline passengers, Community Wi-Fi users, business, government and residential internet customers.
“We want to delight our customers, with not just the connectivity but all of the products and customer touch points,” Panlilio said. “That includes the full customer journey, starting from the time they first discover Viasat.”
It’s a complex process with a tight deadline; many product teams that she’s working with are aiming to deliver products in time for the first ViaSat-3 satellite’s service launch. The first of three ViaSat-3 satellites is expected to launch in late 2020 or early 2021, with service anticipated to start a few months later.
Panlilio isn’t daunted.
A former IT director for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, she’s accustomed to large-scale planning and working under pressure. When she discovered Viasat in 2013, it was a clear career match. Viasat’s military products and services aligned with her work experiences, and the plans for global internet connectivity struck a chord.
“I’m driven by a good mission; I want to do good things for the world,” she said. “That’s what really excited me about Viasat and why I came here after being in federal service – that they were on this mission to connect those who were unconnected.”
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“Viasat is solving a really tough problem so many other companies are trying to solve. It feels like Viasat’s technology is going to get us there.”
Her experience meeting other Viasat employees cemented her decision to join the company.
“I was struck by how genuinely happy people were about the work and the difference they were making,” she said. “During my visit to Viasat, the focus wasn’t on the volleyball courts or any other amenity. I noticed people focusing conversations around the really tough challenges they were working to solve, and they were so excited to be doing it.”
Panlilio started with Viasat as a program director and last year stepped up to her current post. While her goal is to make the customer experience with Viasat feel similar with every interaction, that doesn’t mean those processes will be identical in every country or with every product.
“A big factor in design is you can’t make assumptions about certain markets or products based on other markets or products,” she said.
Panlilio works to help teams be more design driven. That includes working closely with the head of product design to ensure designers are guiding the development of customer-focused products and experiences. One wall of her office is dotted with rows of Post-It notes, outlining teams, contacts and assignments.
“It’s a little bit like air traffic control,” she said. “But it’s also fun. I’ve always been someone who likes to look at complicated puzzles and problem-solve.
“My favorite part is the real strategic thinking. We always start by asking, ‘what’s the ideal experience?’ Then we factor in the real-world constraints and skew on the side of the customer experience. No two days are ever the same; you’re constantly observing and learning and applying all those insights to make better products.”