CX Collective

Member Spotlight

Q&A with Heather Crichton, General Manager, Member Success – Support Services, PEXA

The CX Collective is an incredible congregation of the region’s CX leaders, collectively transforming customer experiences. Each month, we’ll be profiling one of our esteemed members to shine a light on some of the extraordinary leadership in the Collective.

Heather Crichton

Property Exchange Australia (PEXA) has digitised the way people buy and sell property. In collaboration with lenders, legal practitioners, land registries and the extended industry, PEXA offers an electronic alternative to paper conveyancing. Today, more than 4.6 million transactions in excess of $760 billion worth of property value has been transacted on PEXA. Via the online platform, documents can be lodged with Land Registries, and depending on the financial institution, sellers can have access to cleared funds within minutes of a settlement. PEXA is the faster, more efficient and safer way of transacting property.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your career journey and how you came to be in a CX role?

A: Like most people, particularly most people in our generation, my career has not had a linear journey. I started out in law and worked as a lawyer for five years before moving to legal education, and it was from that role that I came to PEXA about four and a half years ago.

While I was studying at university, I worked in hospitality, like so many of us did. Reflecting on that time, I realised that the foundations of my knowledge around customers and customer service were really formulated then; the basics don’t really change across industries when you’re dealing with people.

In PEXA, I started out managing a small frontline team which grew substantially as both our member base and the transactions flowing through the PEXA platform grew. We were doing anything and everything we could to help our members and help them with the adoption of PEXA, so things like getting them registered, training them to use the platform, helping them to position it with their clients and guiding them until they were confident using the system were really important. A lot of empathy was required as most of our members had spent years, even decades in their businesses working in a very paper laden environment, and the transition to digital was a really big step for them. Understandingly, some of them were incredibly nervous about it! We really had to take a step back and focus on getting to know them and their business so they were comfortable with us.

From there, I came into my current role which is as a general manager looking after our member services team, a team of teams. This consists of member support which is our contact centre, account services which is a high level administrative function responsible for onboarding members , member training and capability, insights and reporting, and very relevantly, member experience. It’s a big portfolio but the functions really complement each other. Although I knew the basics of CX, this role has really allowed me to develop a better and more thorough understanding of CX principles and the benefits of having a dedicated CX team in a business.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: I’m not exaggerating, there really is a lot to love about my job! But broadly speaking, I’ve really love having the opportunity to play a role in transforming an industry that I’ve been a part of my whole career, just in different ways, having worked in property law and starting off attending lots of paper property settlements as a baby lawyer. I remember thinking at the time there must be a better way, it just seemed so ridiculous having so many people involved and having to coordinate a time and a place for everyone to turn up. But through this role I’ve been able to achieve that, and I feel an immense amount of pride in having been involved in digitising property settlements nationally, and even when times have been really challenging I’ve reflected on that and reminded myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I also love that every day here is different. Having come from a legal background which is obviously quite conservative, where there is a lot of structure around how you work. I realise now that I thrive not having too much of a routine. Although we are more of an established business today, it wasn’t too long ago that we were a start-up and had all the elements of start-up culture – fast-paced, dynamic, collaborative and hungry for ideas. And the positive elements of that really remain here which is why the culture is so fantastic. If I had a role now that was very regimented or routine, it would just drive me mad!

Managing different teams is really exciting and I get a huge amount of satisfaction from being able to bring together people from different areas to be able to work towards a common purpose.

On the member side of things, and I really felt this in the early days of my time at PEXA when I was on the road seeing our members more, I like to think that through using PEXA, they (our members) are able to provide a better experience to their own clients; that we’re enabling or empowering them. And our goal is to help our members do their jobs more safely and efficiently.

Q: How has a failure or apparent failure of yours set you up for later success? And do you have a favourite failure?

A: One of the teams within my remit is our support team, our contact centre. Approximately 12 months ago we upgraded our telephony platform – moving from an on-premise system to cloud based as many businesses have. When we were planning the project we had stars in our eyes and actually included a knowledge management system into the scope. Thankfully before we signed any contracts, I had one of those ‘wake up 2am in a sweat type’ moments and realised we could not possibly run those two projects together. We then decided to remove the knowledge management system from the telephony project scope, and knew we would come back to it. Sometimes, although we’re very well intentioned, we can get a little over excited about all of the things that we want to do without thinking about what we’re capable of achieving, not to mention everything else we have on our plates. So I was pleased that we pulled that out, but as expected, we’re revisiting it now as it will benefit both the employees and our members. It’s without a doubt that we definitely could not have managed the two projects at the same time. I often think about that moment of panic and as a result, I’m much more realistic now when I sign up to projects or commit to any sort of deadline.

Q: What would you say has been your biggest achievement in your career so far?

A: As I mentioned, my first professional role was as a lawyer – a very conservative, established profession. If you’d told me back then that I would working for a company like PEXA, or in a role like mine today, managing so many teams and people, I absolutely would not have believed you. But when I look back, I am really proud that I’ve said yes to new opportunities and challenges, and in many instances sought them out, stepping out of my comfort zone. Today, I really feel that I’m in a role where I can effect a lot of change, both for our organisation and for our members, people who were once my peers.

Q: How do you continue to strive to put the customer at the centre of everything you do?

A: It’s really no exaggeration to say this, but our members are at the heart of everything we do – it’s part of our DNA at PEXA. It was really pleasing to see that the results of a recent employee engagement survey conducted late last year, showed that by and large our employees agreed with that. Those in my teams rated member-centricity at 100% which is almost unheard of; they’re front-line teams and customer-facing so you would hope that they think that we’re customer-centric, but to get the score at 100% is really wonderful. I believe that this can be attributed to the member open days we run a couple of times a year, where we throw open the doors of the Melbourne office and welcome in members from all states and all business types, so lawyers and conveyancers together with banks, and even some of our industry partners like land registries and revenue offices come along. Invariably the feedback from attendees is that their favourite part of the day is meeting our employees, and that sentiment is definitely reciprocated Those who aren’t in frontline teams are really curious about meeting members and dispelling some of the myths that they might have about us, and how we work. We also have a VoC tool, Medallia, that we have made available for every single employee right up to our board members, so people can access member feedback at any point they wish. This is a wonderful exception as I don’t think too many organisations offer that to all employees across their business.

Q: What advice would you give to your peers about being the best CX professional you can be?

A: As mentioned previously, when I was at university I worked in hospitality, in bars and nightclubs for many years. I really think that although we have so many tools at our disposal now, and CX is starting to become a really well understood discipline, it’s important not to forget the basics. The fundamentals continue to ring true today, and we really subscribe to this at PEXA. The customer may not always be right, but they should always come first. Empathy and compassion are so important, and when you’re recruiting people for your business, you need to make sure they display those qualities because your customers will really feel that. When I reflect on the great experiences I’ve had as a customer, there’s really nothing particularly complicated about what was so wonderful; I’ve felt valued, special, and where no question I asked would be thought of a silly, and no request I’ve made was thought of as too much. For us here at PEXA CX is essential in everything we do, and we’re really careful with recruitment to make sure we get the right people who will be caring and empathetic towards each other and our members.

CX Collective Member

Heather Crichton

General Manager, Member Success – Support Services



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