Chris Chapo refers to himself as a "design thinker," a technique he learned while working at Apple. It's a problem-solving approach.
“Once you understand the problem it allows you to
create the solution,” he said, explaining that the model allows someone to immerse themselves in the actual problem and consider what the consumer needs. It’s also about bringing the
principles into software development.
Chapo spent most of his career at Apple, Gap, Intuit, and JCPenney. Now he is VP of customer success at Amperity, a customer data and identity platform.
He is charged with expanding the company's analytics and customer intelligence services offering following Amperity’s recent acquisition of Custora's customer analytics platform.
Amperity’s focus this year will provide useful insights through data.
In fact, the company’s building a powerhouse of data gurus. Other recent appointments include Jeanne Jones, who joined from Alaska Airlines as VP of customer success management; and Matthew Biboud-Lubeck, who joined as VP of customer data success after seven years at L’Oreal.
Data & Programmatic Insider caught up with Chapo to talk about his work with Apple, Gap, Intuit, and JCPenney, and how it applies to his new role at Amperity.
He also provided his thoughts around COVID-19 and how companies can help their clients. Excerpts from the conversation follow.
Data & Programmatic Insider: What did you do while at Apple as director of retail analytics?
Chris Chapo: We were focused on the Apple retail stores. We were an internal consulting group who worked with the marketing team and store site collection and merchandising teams. We taught them how to use analytics to achieve their business goals and built models for new stores.
D&PI: Did you always want to work with numbers?
Chapo: I always had a love for numbers. I trained to be a scientist growing up. I was involved in science fairs since fifth grade and missed my high school prom because I chose to go the international science fair instead.
The love for numbers and data and well as the curiosity to know what makes things tick drove me. Really understanding what’s behind things is my passion. My graduate project was in physical chemistry. I believe the international science fair was in Biloxi, Mississippi. And when I was in high school, I spent time working in the research lab at the University of Florida.
D&PI: Do your parents have a love for numbers?
Chapo: They don’t, but always supported me in everything I do. I’m an only child, but they look at me now and ask 'what’s that thing you do again?'
Loving numbers takes a lot of relationship building. People need to understand what they mean, so there’s a lot of teaching involved. You can gain really good insights, but if you’re not able to understand them, it’s a moot point because no one will do anything with them.
D&PI: What’s the best piece of advice you received during your career and who gave it to you?
Chapo: Ron Johnson, former Apple SVP of retail operations, once told me to think out loud and explain your thought process with teams because the answer is less important than helping people understand how you reached the conclusion.
It’s also important to keep explanations simple, especially when it comes to technical things. During a presentation on a real estate model, a team lead looked at me and said ‘I don’t understand. Keep it simple. Talk to me in my language.’ It’s then I realized we spoke in the language of statisticians. They were more used to looking at plans in maps, so we had to figure out a way to bright that communication.
D&PI: What is the one thing people misunderstand about online advertising?
Chapo: People think it’s an exact science. It’s not. There have been a lot of tools developed like multi-touch attribution, but in reality the results don’t match up to what’s happening in the real world.
D&PI: How has COVID-19 changed your plans for work this year, and what is the one thing you hope to accomplish?
Chapo: We serve direct-to-consumer companies (D2C) such as retailers, airlines and hospitality, but you can imagine that this is a scary time for them.
In this period of disruption, how do we help them remove cost through our technology? We can help them be more targeted in their digital advertising because we can resolve customer identities. And then when we come out of this, how do we help them prepare? We’re really focused on how to help them manage costs and prepare to push through once we get through this.
D&PI: Is there an opportunity to take market share or become close with consumers?
Chapo: Yes. It’s about playing a niche role in a moment of need -- if the brand can create an emotional connection.
If you don’t have the emotional connection, you don’t have loyalty. Consumers might spend a lot with your company, but it won’t keep them as customers through the difficult times.