Melissa Eaton advocates for her team and the customer at Pie Insurance

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Melissa Eaton, Pie Insurance
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A natural leader her whole life, Melissa Eaton, VP of Customer Success at worker's compensation insurtech Pie Insurance, is drawn to being very vocal, expressing her opinion, advocating for others and focused on delivering results. She says a strong work ethic and focus on relationships has opened many doors in her career.

“I took every opportunity in front of me, and I was always willing to say yes,” Melissa says. “I’m driven by people, passion and purpose, and they all converge here at Pie.”

Melissa says that there was some serendipity involved in in her current executive role. “I’m amazed at how all my experiences thread into my current role,” she explains. At age 22, she was in charge of a transportation logistics program, managing 50 truck drivers. “It amazes me how relevant that experience is in my current position at an insurance startup – the connections, the relationships, the strategies used to motivate people, the focus around detail-oriented analytics to get the right results,” she notes.

Pie Insurance, which specializes in workers’ comp insurance for small businesses, launched in 2017, and Melissa joined the executive team a year later. She not only brings extensive customer service experience, but she also brings a decade’s worth of insurance industry knowledge to the table. Prior to her role at Pie, she led customer-facing teams at Esurance, first as the Vice President of Client Services and later as the Vice President of Customer Experience. Under her stewardship, Esurance won two JD Power customer satisfaction awards and the company’s customer net promoter score rose thirteen points in just one year.

As VP of Customer Success, Melissa sets the vision and long-term direction for the customer success organization and its culture with a concrete plan that aligns with the company’s objectives and strategy. She also develops and implements the process and performance strategies to scale. In addition, she leads premium audit and claims teams across all locations and serves as a customer advocate and representative at all executive-level sessions. Melissa also uses customer insights and feedback to inform critical decisions, and analyzes customer data to improve experience. She also helps identify trends in the market and builds out strategies to apply them within the customer success team.

A values-driven leader, Melissa focuses on building strong relationships with her team based on trust, confidence, and ownership. She believes that a team will deliver the best results when they trust in and respect their leader. She encourages her employees to “star in their roles” and prioritizes celebrating the things they do well. Melissa uses regular huddles and individual development programs to keep communication lines open and mentor her team members. “Advocating for my team and our customer is my mission and passion,” she explains. The biggest challenges she faces in her career are that those two things are sometimes pushed down for profitable results.

Since joining the startup in 2018, Melissa has grown the customer success team from scratch to more than thirty representatives, who serve thousands of policyholders and agents across the nation through every complex circumstance. She trusts her team at Pie to take ownership of every customer’s particular situation, concerns and goals and respond with the best solution for each customer.

Crediting her immigrant parents as her greatest influences, Melissa says she also has learned from each of her former bosses. “My mother taught me tenacity, resilience, grace and confidence, to know I can take care of myself if anything happens, that showing empathy doesn’t necessarily mean weakness,” she explains. “Mark Pitchford, who was Managing Director of Marketing, Sales, and Service at Esurance, taught me to stand up for what I believe in. He advised me to get to meetings early, get a seat at the table and lean in – and participate. It was the first time a leader advocated for me as a leader. I also learned to expand my perspective, and to listen openly and not talk so much because the right answer is not the only answer.”

When she’s not at Pie, modernizing small business insurance, Melissa keeps busy with her family and friends. Listening to and playing music is a big part of her family’s life, and Melissa has taken her children to concerts since they were very young.

Melissa advises women to find their voice, know what drives them. “Know what you want to say and who you want to say it to. Be confident and courageous, but not at the expense of listening to others,” she offers. “Lifting others will also lift you – it’s not a competition. Authenticity and connections matter, as does surrounding yourself with others who will challenge you, call you out and make you better. And for women, and also for leaders in general, it’s important to know what your limits are and if there’s a point where you need to walk out the door. Trust yourself that there will be something better.”

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Women in Insurance Leadership 2020