CXpert Talks: UX Manager of John Lewis, Steve Kato-Spyrou

Lauren Burgess  |  January 15, 2019

Lauren Burgess  |  January 15, 2019


This series is aimed at breaking down some of the mystery around managing, improving and measuring customer experiences at every digital touch-point. Every day we hear the message that having a great digital experience is key for generating sales and increasing customer loyalty, but rarely do we get actionable advice for creating them. 

Each interview is packed full of essential tips for digital teams looking to connect with their customers through meaningful experiences. Participants have been selected for their extensive backgrounds in the industry and the unique insights that they’re able to contribute as a result.

5 things you'll take away from this interview

  1. Why cross-departmental collaboration should be a major focus for CX professionals
  2. The importance of the digital process in managing customer experiences
  3. Why every customer-facing employee needs to be empowered with the right tools
  4. The challenges of implementing digital in long-standing enterprises
  5. How John Lewis plans to enhance customer experience in the near future

In this installment of CXpert Talks, Steve Kato-Spyrou, UX Manager at John Lewis, discusses his approach to customer experience at the world-renowned 150-year-old retailer.

Steve Kato-Spyrou photo

Kato-Spyrou has almost a decade of experience in UX design and management at a wide range of enterprises businesses including Sky and Burberry.

Currently, he's helping to develop test and learn thinking (that has persisted in digital for a long time) at an organizational level. Significant achievements include designing everything necessary for the componentization for both Sky and John Lewis's websites in order to create a consistent CX and drive production efficiencies. 

His current passion is creating ways to facilitate leadership level workshops in order to champion CX throughout the business and avoid circular debates.


1. What does digital transformation mean to you?

An uncompromising approach to not just making everything digital, but utilizing the processes and techniques that have been born out of digital and IT across the entire business. This covers productized ways of working, agile and Kanban and those techniques that have been robustly tested in an online world and proven to be more useful than standard waterfall techniques.

The digital process is infinitely more important than just an end digital product.

It of course also means evangelizing those techniques to the rest of the business and getting them on board with new, more efficient ways of doing things. The digital process is infinitely more important than just an end digital product.

2. What are the key elements of a truly brilliant digital experience?

Anyone directly dealing with the customer has all the tools they need, whether digital or not, and they’re empowered to use them.

It’s really about personalization. It’s the recognition of who the customer is and knowing how to meet their needs with minimal friction. As a UX professional, my job is to pull together all the threads of a journey and make it smooth and easy.

3. What are the biggest challenges you face in your role?

Cross-departmental collaboration is the biggest one. I spent a lot of time over 2018 trying to champion collaboration in this 150-year-old business. There are always going to be blockers, but by actively embracing collaborative working, you can achieve the best possible results in the shortest time.

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4. How do you identify opportunities for improving customer experiences?

The key thing for me is just engaging with as many departments as possible. We’re very lucky at John Lewis. There are 1,500 of us in my office building but I can easily get to the right people to have those essential conversations and help them out.

For example, right now I’m working with the buying department to help improve their ways of working. Every time I do this I’m building connections and being introduced to areas where I know I can improve experiences for customers.

For digital we of course also have an incredibly mature analytics department that’s constantly feeding information in real time to the business. We take their insights and mobilize the right people around those issues.

5. What do you think the future holds for ecommerce experience?

For John Lewis, the future means deeply integrating online and in-store in a way that enhances the customer experience of both.

Ultimately, every retail store could sell the same things – you need to give consumers a reason to shop with you. For us, that means offering great expertise and experiences to our customers.

For John Lewis, the future means deeply integrating online and in-store in a way that enhances the customer experience of both.

That’s where collaboration comes in – building internal teams that involve both online trading managers and offline buyers so that it’s a symbiotic relationship, with OKRs that aren’t specific to digital or in-store but consider both. In this way, the website enhances the store, and the store enhances the website: that’s the future for us.


A big thanks to Steve for sharing his thoughts with us! Keep an eye out for the next installment of our interview series.

Read our Ultimate Guide to Digital Experience Transformation.

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Lauren Burgess

Written on January 15, 2019 by:

Lauren Burgess

Lauren is a Digital Marketing Executive at Decibel.


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