Jeanne Bliss

Building Culture and Customer and Employee Experience at The YMCA

Bob Thomas 158

In this episode, I chat with Bob Thomas, the first chief experience officer at The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, about establishing a scalable CX initiative at a nationwide non-profit. Many of you may be familiar with The YMCA (the Y), either from your own experiences at the center or because of the iconic song that many of us have danced to at parties. This legendary organization is a leading nonprofit for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

Bob and I discuss his role and the work that he had to do as a CX leader stepping into a position without a CX team in place. He shares that the Y did a good job communicating he would be in a strong mission-focused role, which was something that was very important to him. We talk about some of the strategic approaches that he and his team took to improve the organization’s culture, and employee and customer experience.

Understand the Environment You’re Trying to Improve

Bob explains that when he first took on the role, he knew that he needed to understand how employees show up for customers, day in and day out. He went to numerous Y branches and spent half a day in uniform, checking people in at the front desk, walking around the pool deck with the lifeguard, and getting a feel for the employee experience on the ground. He wanted to know what interactions with customers were like and what were potential operational challenges. 

On the backend, Bob spent time figuring out how to improve marketing and digital aspects of the work, noting that the CRM system was inefficient and created communication difficulties. He and his team invested in a new CRM. The new CRM helped stabilize the foundation of their digital experience, which was extremely important to the check-in and buying experience.

Bob shares that after fixing the CRM, they started making major investments in digital. He wanted to ensure the digital experience would help frame and organize what’s being delivered to the customer on the ground. With help from a CX expert, Bob and his team created customer journey maps that allowed them to make significant changes.

These changes included improving the welcome e-mail with important information to remind members of what they need when they show up, free classes they can take, available services, and more. All of the things to help maximize the experience.

As a CXO, you need to understand how employees show up for customers, day in and day out. -Bob Thomas, CXO @theymca Click To Tweet

Build Bridges to Connect With Your Team

Bob credits his Chief Operating Officer for helping with the success of the Y’s transformation. The COO had a vision and belief in what the COO’s role was and saw that some of Bob’s actions as CXO crossed over into boundaries that didn’t belong. In order to differentiate and clarify the work, they spent time together figuring out what responsibilities was best for each position.

In addition to building bridges with other leaders, Bob wanted to change the internal culture at the Y to further improve the employee experience. He explains how he set his sights on establishing an internal culture at the Y that would reflect what they wanted their customer experience to be like. Since fun is something the customers expect when they walk into a Y facility, there should be more fun infused within the culture of the organization. Bob was concerned that leaders were taking themselves too seriously, and wanted to loosen things up in the office a bit.

In an effort to infuse more fun into their meetings and hallway conversations, Bob shares that he started incorporating team builder games to foster engagement. For instance, he shares one game in which he asked his colleagues to take a picture of the inside of their refrigerator and send it to him. He would display the images asking his colleagues to guess who’s refrigerator was whose. It’s these games and interactions that help colleagues share more laughs and eases a bit of tension that may come with some of the work. 

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Bob says:

Be patient. It’s okay to slow down and go a hundred feet sideways to get six inches forward because if you don’t have the right alignment with the people that you need, no pushing forward is going to be enough to get you there. So patience is probably the biggest part, and the people side of change management is so critical. If you haven’t taken a change management course, it should be fundamentally a huge part of your curriculum coming into a role like this.

If you don't have the right alignment with the people that you need, no pushing forward is going to be enough to get you there. - Bob Thomas, #CXO @theymca Click To Tweet

About Bob Thomas

At the YMCA, Bob is responsible for engaging community members to help them meet their personal goals, while ensuring a great Y experience through marketing, membership, and healthy living programs.

Prior to joining the Y, Bob held marketing, sales and sales operations leadership positions at Boston Scientific. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from the University of St. Thomas.

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Give Trust to Get Trust: Let Two-Way Trust Define Your Actions

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

Today’s video is an excerpt from my online course, inspired by my book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? Click here to learn more about the course and enroll. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.


For the Chicago Cubs organization, trust and hope—for many, many years—were all the currency they had to give their fans. When they finally won that championship title in 2016, it had been 108 years since a Cubs jersey was in a World Series. Since 1906, the Cubbies had only qualified for the postseason on 18 occasions. Bound together by heartbreak and joy, through generations of families, the Cubs’ relationship with their fans is one of reciprocal trust. Both gave and got.

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Loving the underdog Cubs was a family tradition nurtured by my dad. We made many memories within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. And when that championship title finally came in 2016, my family—as well as millions of other Cubs fans around the world—were rewarded for trusting that their team would eventually win. What’s more, Cubs fans rewarded their team back in kind. Millions came out to cheer them on in a celebration that, by some estimates, is one of the top 10 gatherings in human history. Officials estimate that 5 million people showed up to the parade and rally held for the Cubs in Chicago, making it the seventh largest gathering in human history.

The foundational trust that the Cubs built with their fans is not unlike the trust that grows over time between a company and its customers. While companies may not have millions of people lining the streets to cheer them on, what they end up with is earning essentially the same: a two-way, balanced relationship.

Give Trust to Get Trust

So the goal here is to earn customer trust by trusting them first. Every customer relationship begins because a customer chooses to trust an organization and its people. Physicians are trusted with the health of families. Realtors are trusted to guide a home purchase or sale. Computer manufacturers are trusted to provide reliable equipment to do a job. Banks are trusted to ensure financial safety and security.

Would you invite your mom over to help make dinner, and then chain the blender to the counter? Of course you wouldn’t. But customers can feel at times a lack of trust from companies by how offers are structured, legal wording, and the amount of fine print, or conditions for making a sale. One-sided trust can show up in the manner in which you review new customers you’re considering, or in the contracts customers sign, or requiring compliance to processes that seem to weigh a little heavy on benefiting the company.

This behavior inadvertently makes the customer feel small, and at times defenseless. You know it in your life as a customer. It’s exhausting physically because of the extra time, and the effort required to make sure you get a fair shake, and it’s emotionally exhausting.

This is our opportunity to earn that trust through giving trust. Do you deliberately trust customers back for their trust in you? Do you trust them in your forms, in your paperwork, and in your contracts? Are there any clues that you give them that could indicate a lack of trust, like a pen chained to the desk? Do you have moments where mom might think, “They don’t seem to trust me.”

Give trust to get trust! Do you deliberately trust customers back for their trust in you? Do you trust them in your forms, in your paperwork, and in your contracts? #MakeMomProud #CX Click To Tweet

Inventory Your Opportunities to Give Trust

To move closer to a balanced relationship with your customers, consider inventorying your opportunities for giving trust. Identify communication and compliance to processes required across your customer’s journey. Identify who holds the power in each and why. Then begin to challenge the status quo, and ask the questions your mom would ask.

Ask the questions you know to ask. Overturn and redesign for two-way trust.

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How Johnson & Johnson Creates Value for Customers and Employees

Chester Twigg Episode 157

How does a global consumer brand create value for its customers, consumers, and employees? In today’s episode, we talk to Chester Twigg, the first global chief customer officer at Johnson & Johnson. Chester shares that he was approached for the role because there was an internal recognition that it was a position that could truly add value to the business and the organization, to drive a more global consistency around selling.

There’s a lot of great strategic advice in here for those of you who are improving CX in the consumer goods sector, so I encourage you to listen to the full episode!

Create Value for All of Your Constituents

When Chester stepped into the role, he shares that he knew he wanted to focus on providing more value with their three constituents: the customer (retail partner), the consumer (the shopper), and the company. He knew that he had to think through the following: how do you create the best selling team? How do you ensure that there are consistent systems and processes in place to help them deliver their best every day?

To execute their business objective of providing value, Chester and his team picked 5 areas that were relevant to them. They develop strategies for improvement around these 5 areas under an acronym: RACES, as in “off to the races” to help them remember.

R: Revenue growth management. Determine how to best drive strategy pricing, strategic trade promotion, and assortment portfolio distribution.

A: Accelerate in winning channels. With the understanding that business is shifting heavily into E-commerce, they asked themselves how they could win in this category.

C: Customer team reinvention. Since most of J&J’s business is with big retailers, they have to figure out how to best do business together. How can they create optimal joint business planning?

E: Emerging market excellence. Growth is happening more in emerging markets than in developing markets so how can they reach customers in these new areas?

S: Shopper refocus. Rethink how to work with marketing, R&D, and the supply chain to ensure their products show up well both online and on the shelf.

Chester explains that it was relatively easy for the team to align on these strategies and that some strategies have been tabled for a RACES 2.0 to tackle at a later time.

Keep Employees Engaged and Informed

Internal social networking

At Johnson & Johnson, there are over 4,000 salespeople. To keep the salespeople engaged, Chester and his team have instituted quarterly meetings for updates on the business, priorities, and strategies. There’s also an opportunity to answer questions which can be asked anonymously, which helps leadership stay on the pulse of what’s going on and what people are worried about.

Chester also shares that J&J has a designated social media site called Yammer, where employees can post updates and engage with each other. Chester posts regularly, especially when he’s with customers or key individuals so people know what’s going on. He also updates employees through his blog, Chester’s Chatter which he and the leadership team contribute to each month.

Rethink Training and Hiring Practices

Additionally, Chester and his team spent time improving training within the organization for salespeople. Recognizing that the younger generation of salespeople learns differently, they removed the outdated five-day, intensive “this is how we sell” program. Chester explains that training is now done in bite-sized, Internet-based sessions. This is their way of providing value to employees; giving them access to something when they need it, as they need it.

When it comes to improving the employee experience, Chester also says that at Johnson & Johnson they worked more closely with HR to improve hiring and recruiting strategies. They provided more clarity on capabilities they were looking for regarding salespeople, and also sought to increase diversity.

According to Chester, it’s best to work with HR to get their buy-in for new recruitment strategies by explaining how hiring practices connect back to the purpose of the work, it helps the process move along more smoothly.

It's best to work with HR to get their buy-in for new recruitment strategies by explaining how hiring practices connect back to the purpose of the work, it helps the process move along more smoothly. -Chester Twigg, @JNJCares Click To Tweet

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Chester says:

“I think a better understanding of my organization and the style, which is always hard when you come in, would have helped me to build capabilities and conference even faster. I mean one of the advantages I had in my previous company having worked there for a long, long time was that I knew the people. Either they had worked for you before or you had peripheral experience. And so one of the challenges was understanding how to best apply situational leadership because I’m a big believer that people should be led through situational leadership.”

I'm a big believer that people should be led through situational leadership. -Chester Twigg, CCO @JNJCares Click To Tweet

About Chester Twigg

Chester joined Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. from Procter & Gamble, where he spent over 25 years in various roles across the world including the US, China, India, Singapore and Europe. At Johnson & Johnson, Chester plays an important role in the execution of the company’s global consumer strategy, developing new ways of selling to maximize growth and value creation within the sales organization.

Chester holds an MBA (Marketing) and a B.COM. (Commerce and Economics) from the University of Mumbai, India. Chester is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

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Nurture Customer Rescue Artists

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to...

The Importance of Closing the Feedback Loop: A Discussion with Dropbox’s CCO

“I am a bridge builder and I really like that aspect of my role,” says Yamini Rangan, chief customer officer at Dropbox, a SaaS company that offers file storage and collaboration solutions to both individuals and companies. With a background in sales and marketing, Yamini spent a lot of time talking to customers, mentioning that it was one of her favorite aspects of her job. Her love for being customer-focused was what helped drive her success at Dropbox, 

Though Yamini has only been in her current role at Dropbox for 8 months, she’s been at the company for over 3 years. Her experience has shown her that customers buy technology products because they’re trying to solve a particular problem for themselves, their companies, and for their customers. She shares that when you connect with your customers’ true needs, you’re able to offer better help and provide value to them.

Yamini shares strategies that she has employed within Dropbox, that keeps her leaders and C-Suite aligned to the same goals of customer-centricity.

Prevent Siloed CX Work at Large Scale Companies

Yamini RanganSince Dropbox has gone through a hyper-growth period, Yamini shares that it was important that her teams united internally to focus on customers. The goal was to prevent departments from becoming siloed in their operations. As CCO, her role is about embedding the customer centricity into the DNA of the company.

Yamini shares that she developed a one-year plan within the first 90 days of her role. She spent the first 3 months listening to employees and customers so she could understand both perspectives; she needed to know what was and wasn’t working and take those suggestions into account during planning. Yamini would ask customers, “What’s good about Dropbox – what is not good about Dropbox, and where can we continue to improve.” She explains that they spent time going over the responses to determine what actions they needed to take next.

Yamini tells that her leadership teams and C-Suite are all invested in being customer-focused. Since they’re invested in the vision, her conversations are often around prioritization and sequencing the right set of actions to take. Yamini and her leadership teams and C-Suite spend time listening to customer calls and support interactions. By listening, they’re able to analyze responses, understand the customer journey, and determine how to move forward.

By listening, they’re able to analyze responses, understand the customer journey, and determine how to move forward. -Yamini Rangan, @dropbox #CX #customerexperience Click To Tweet

Take Your Leadership Teams Through the Customer Journey

Similar to many other leaders, Yamini and her team created a focus group, a “customer advisory board,” where they gathered their top 15-20 customers to talk to them about the product strategy and company vision, and they listen to what is and isn’t resonating with customers. According to Yamini, this unifies the executives more than any power point presentation, because they’re hearing it directly from the customers.

Additionally, Yamini and her team developed a Customer Connection Day. She explains that this is where they created immersion experiences that allowed employees to see and understand what the customer journey looks like. Employees needed to understand the various facets of what that experience is like when customers install Dropbox, how it’s commonly used, and what the customer support experience is like.

As Yamini and her team continued to dive into the customer journey, they looked at the qualitative and quantitative data gathered to learn the various customer friction points. By knowing these points of tension, they can improve the usage process for the customer. Yamini explains that in order to be tactical, you have to put yourself through the customer journey, dig into the patterns that drive and improve differentiation for the customers. After this, she shares that they make sure to close the loop on the listening and tactic cycle. Once she works with her team to implement changes at Dropbox, they check in with customers to see how things have progressed.

In order to be tactical, you have to put yourself through the customer journey, dig into the patterns that drive and improve differentiation for the customers. -Yamini Rangan, @dropbox Click To Tweet

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Yamini says:

“I would say that pay attention to the human experience. One of the things that I’ve kind of intrinsically known but now I really know is that it’s not as much the largest initiatives that matter, it’s also the small changes that improve the experience that matters. Pay attention not just to the really large, needle-moving ones but also the small human experiences that change the perception of customers.”

About Yamini Rangan

Yamini RanganAs a strategic and results-oriented technology professional with 20 years experience across sales, marketing, operations, and strategy, Yamini Rangan serves as Chief Customer Officer at Dropbox. Previously, she was the company’s vice president of business strategy & operations.

Additionally, Yamini led the global sales strategy and operations at Workday, and prior to that, she held senior positions at Appirio and SAP.

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Reward Employees for Congruence of Heart and Habit

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

Today’s video is an excerpt from my online course, inspired by my book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? Click here to learn more about the course and enroll. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.


In our lives as customers, we find hope, encouragement, and joy in companies who act with “congruence of heart and habit” – taking actions at work grounded in what they learned at home. In today’s Daily Dose, I want to share a story with you that helps illustrate what wonderful things can happen when companies empower and encourage their employees to act with this concept in mind.

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Blogger Lauren Casper and her husband had navigated their way through their local Trader Joe’s as best they could. The trip had turned a bit chaotic with the two children, and Lauren described how they were rushing to get done and out of the store. “Not only are we two white parents with a brown son and daughter,” she said as she described her day, “but our son has noticeable developmental delays and different behaviors caused by his autism, and our daughter has physical differences with her missing and webbed digits.”

She was close to tears from the outing when she heard someone call out her name in the parking lot. A young woman who worked at Trader Joe’s, who Lauren described as resembling her adopted daughter, held out a Trader Joe’s bouquet to her. As she delivered it to Lauren, she said, “I was adopted as a baby, and it has been a wonderful thing. We need more families like yours.”

Celebrate Kindness, Retain Employees

This type of action is not uncommon for Trader Joe’s employees who are hired and rewarded for team collaboration, innovation, and taking the initiative to delight customers as Lauren Casper experienced with her family. From always walking customers (never pointing) to that can of garbanzo beans that you can’t find, to the many spontaneous dance parties that erupt in the middle of the aisles, to people dashing to the back of the store to get something for a customer who forgot something to put in their basket, people are celebrated for these acts of kindness. It’s no wonder they have an unheard of 4% turnover of employees.

Celebrate and reward your people for their humanity. Make-mom-proud companies build their reward systems to celebrate actions of both heart, what we learned at home, and habit, the behaviors we are encouraged to continue. Congruence of heart and habit has at its core building an organization that reinforces the behaviors we learned when we were young, doing the right thing, taking the initiative, and treating others as we’d like to be treated.

Celebrate and reward your people for their humanity. #MakeMomProud companies build their reward systems to celebrate actions of both heart, what we learned at home, and habit, the behaviors we are encouraged to continue. #CustExp #CX Click To Tweet

Go Beyond Words to Empower Employees

Employees want to do the right thing, and they want to be noticed for it. For example, at the investment firm where Joe worked, customer focus was a core value of the company. It was stressed in every meeting. A credo to customer service was engraved on the wall and survey scores were tracked. Yet, the metrics really discussed and heralded were average revenue per client, and profit margin, and the bottom line. To assist advisors in achieving these goals, they were trained in customer contact approaches and given quotas in the number of customers that they needed to contact each month and the number they needed to convert and grow.

However, to Joe, these guidelines felt limiting. He wanted to spend more time per customer to add value beyond those selling quotas, and this would throw Joe’s numbers and contact numbers out of whack. Joe found that spending more time with customers, guiding them, and helping them with value actually increased his long-term productivity, but he had to go outside the prescribed length of time with each customer. And at times, this meant that he did not meet his established monthly customer contact goals. Each time this occurred, Joe had to defend his approach and recap the growth he achieved with his clients over time because of his different and innovative approach.

And while each of these meetings ended well for Joe, he was always a little sunk that he wasn’t receiving reinforcement for doing the right thing. Over time, the repeated focus on numbers without recognition of the quality of his engagements or his initiative actually led Joe to depart the company to join a firm whose core values were aligned with his. What Joe craved was to be rewarded and celebrated for making good, independent decisions and for his skills in innovating.

Download the toolkit for a huddle card, comic, and discussion guide to rally your team around shifting your company culture.

Employees Value Purpose and Trust

Joe is not alone in this desire. Employees asked about the subject in research conducted by Citigroup and LinkedIn said that they would actually pass up a 20% raise in exchange for more control over how they work. This means being part of a greater mission and being trusted to make decisions and take actions. Otherwise, companies will continue to lose good folks like Joe.

The takeaway…

Inadvertently, as companies grow with the stressors of making deadlines and sales goals, mixed messages can be sent about what is important and what will advance people in their careers. But when employees are recognized and rewarded for taking the time to extend themselves personally, they will want to stay. When the moments when employees take a chance to right a wrong or solve an issue bravely are heralded and rewarded, an elevated kind of company emerges.

So ask yourself, do you recognize employees for their ability to care, to innovate, and to take the initiative?


HOW WOULD YOUR COMPANY ACT IF EVERY CUSTOMER WERE YOUR MOM?

How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?

In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”

Learn more

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3 Steps to Implementing a Stellar Customer Experience at a Startup

Denis Drossart

“Start by being humble and you will inspire your team to be humble,” says Denis Drossart, global vice president of Culture & Experience at Selina, about leadership behaviors enforced within this lifestyle, travel and hospitality brand.

Selina is a startup platform that connects people to local places and activities for purpose-filled experiences. Combining the hostel community aspect with the accommodations of a luxury hotel, Selina breaks the barriers between the traditional hospitality experience and hostel. 

Denis shares some tactics and strategies regarding how they’ve shaped the purpose and culture of this hospitality-disruptive brand. With a focus on leadership and creating authentic connections, Denis and his team have created an essential framework to create the ultimate experience for guests and employees. 

1. Define Your Purpose and Value

Selina is a rapidly growing company that focuses on people and experiences, and Denis’ role was created because someone needed to lead the internal culture of the company. According to Denis, Selina employees can’t create memorable experiences without having an amazing experience within the company. So it became his job to ensure that his staff is supported in ways that empower and enables them to deliver great experiences to guests.

When he first stepped into the role, Denis shares that he spent time watching, learning, and talking to his staff. He needed to understand what was missing in the organization. Denis learned that Selina needed to define the culture, the brand’s identity, its purpose, and the desired experience they wanted guests to have. He explains that they needed language to define the behaviors that will help drive specific feelings.

It became his job to ensure that his staff is supported in ways that empower and enables them to deliver great experiences to guests. -Denis Drossart, #Selina #CX #CustomerExperience Click To Tweet 

2. Create Brand Identity and Values

Denis tells that a core value of Selina is to inspire authentic and meaningful connections with guests. To do so, he needed to align leaders and staff on the purpose of the business, then he developed four core behaviors to trigger the feelings they want to elicit out of their connectors and team.

Selina connectors are people who connect people, places, and communities around the world. A Selina connector can serve as a guide who exposes guests to the local culture, arts, food; sharing knowledge of the city or village. Even the Selina properties have been designed by local artists and incorporate upcycled furniture.

Four core behaviors are as follows:

Trust – care about what you do. Care about your people, the brand, and the communities/environments you work in. This generates trust.

Share – share your passion, share your enthusiasm, share your knowledge. If you keep sharing, people will learn. Sharing and learning goes hand in hand.

Creativity – Selina connectors need to be creative. Creatives drive fun. If people are creative within the organization and within the culture, they will drive a fun feeling.

Connect – guests and employees need to be able to connect. When they connect with one another, they’re able to feel like they belong to the movement they’re creating, which is a core part of the Selina identity.

3. Implement the Work

Once Denis defined the company’s culture and identity and instituted the four core behaviors, he implemented these values through a behavioral activation process.

He shares that this meant going out into the field and doing full-day face-to-face immersion sessions. During this time, Denis and his team take the full day at different Selina headquarters to onboard teams about the culture, experience teams they’re building, the company’s identity, and behaviors.

Denis and his Selina team also worked with an outside company to create a customized blueprint that defines the overall brand ecosystem. This blueprint laid out the company’s “who, what, why, and how,” the organization experience, and what behaviors are needed to trigger the experience. It defines the working plan needed to operate the behaviors as well as the leadership behaviors needed to activate it all.

Denis shares that leadership behavior required humility – which drives an authentic work environment, ultimately driving caring behavior. They also look for leaders who can inspire an educational working climate, as this quality is important for working with the team and connectors. These behaviors are also sought out during the recruitment phase. They actively look for specific behaviors in future candidates.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Denis says:

“Make sure that we align on that language. To make sure that everybody’s aligned on the common desired experience, the desired behavior. And it sounds stupid, but making sure that all your employees, all your leadership team, all your executives, the CEO, they all speak the same language because that’s the ultimate goal of that company; it makes it so much easier. You wake up, and you suddenly know why you’re going to work. And obviously, it’s not for money. Well, I mean, it could be at least the money will be a consequence of your purpose, right? So yes, start with designing a couple of language goals.”

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Earn Your Place in the Story of Customers’ Lives

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to...

How Exemplis Commits to Company Culture and CX Improvement

Episode 154 Aurelia Pollet

“The caliber of the team here is remarkable, and I’ve never seen anything like it. So, that was the reason why I decided to join them. Now it’s been a little under two years, and I still feel the same way,” says Aurelia Pollet, the Vice President of Customer Experience at Exemplis. Exemplis is a B2B2C, which makes custom chairs and lounges for offices. 

In this episode, Aurelia tells us about the impressive company culture at Exemplis, and how she’s been supported in her role to lead the company’s CX into the future. Aurelia shares different approaches and strategies that she implemented in order to improve processes and better understand their customers (the furniture dealers), and ultimately, the end consumer.

Commit to Developing Your Company’s Culture

When Aurelia interviewed for her position, she was told that the first step of the process was to ensure she would be a cultural fit. Exemplis, a company whose motto is, “being easy to do business with,” was looking for employees who had the personality to fit within the organization. Aurelia was impressed by their commitment to the culture and she wanted to know how that translated to day-to-day behaviors.  

The Exemplis team shared with Aurelia that their core values guide their day-to-day decisions. These values impacted the behavior of employees; she mentioned one of them was selflessness. Employees are eager to help and work together to get the job done.

In addition to meeting her executive team, Aurelia also met with her direct team. Aurelia shares that she received a lot of feedback about the transparency of the company, which was impressive. Every day, the company’s main focus is to make sure they give customers what they want, and her role is to continue moving the work forward.

One of the core values at #Exemplis is selflessness. Employees are eager to help and work together to get the job done. -Aurelia Pollet, VP of #CX Click To Tweet

Understand the People and Process

Episode 154When Aurelia first took the role, she explains that she wanted to understand the people processes from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. She spent time in the boardroom with the CEO and with the executives who presented a high-level overview of the department. This allowed her to learn more about their customers and consumers.

Similar to many other leaders who embark on this journey, Aurelia shadowed her team members to understand the work from their perspective. She shares that she started looking at the customer processes; what was the website experience like? How do you place an order? How do you get an invoice? After assessing these experiences, she created the first draft of a customer journey. She wanted the company to have a clearer view of what things looked like from the customer’s standpoint.

Additionally, Aurelia noticed a CRM system wasn’t in place. With a desire to scale the business, they soon implemented Salesforce and developed relevant KPIs to measure for daily, weekly, and monthly performance. “We can only improve what we can measure,” was a phrase that stuck with Aurelia from a former boss. With this thought in mind, she focused on scaling the business and addressed some of the gaps she found in the customer journey.

Is it Good for the Customer?

As Aurelia increased awareness of the CX work across the company, she presented a new concept to her monthly management meeting. She shares that whenever someone on the team wants to change a process, add a service, or make a decision—there are two questions to ask: is it good for the brand and is it good for the customer?

Team members started using the questions on each other and executives used these questions in presentations, says Aurelia. When employees and leaders start incorporating CX language into their own work, it’s powerful and keeps the momentum going.

Whenever someone on the team wants to change a process, add a service, or make a decision—there are two questions to ask: is it good for the brand and is it good for the customer? -Aurelia Pollet, #Exemplis #customerexperience Click To Tweet

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Aurelia says:

“I really focused on the customer part of the journey at the beginning and I think that the employee part of the journey is as important as the customer and so it’s really looking at it from both ends and not just mapping the customer journey, but understanding, how does that look like for the people in the organization?

And usually when we look at customer journeys, or how to improve processes, we think the CS Team, the Customer Service Team, the people on the phone, the people answering emails or chat, but it is necessary to look at everybody in the organization because if you say you can deliver a product in a certain amount of time, is it true from a manufacturing standpoint? Do you have the tools to tell you that it is deliverable? […] So, not only customer-facing teams are important, but the entire organization when you’re building a customer experience strategy.”

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How to Show Up as a Caring Company

In lieu of a regular Daily Dose video, I want to share with you an excerpt from a keynote I presented recently that focuses on the lessons of my most recent book, Would You Do That To Your Mother

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.


Would you roll your mother into a hospital hallway and then leave her there? You know that you wouldn’t. But this kind of thing happens in every single one of our industries, because we’re focused on processes that are built for efficiency, and in doing so, we wire the human out of it.

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In this example, a wonderful tech probably took your mom out of the hospital, doing what he or she was supposed to do, rolled her to in front of the lab and put your mom in the hallway. The lab technician came out, did the tests for your mom, rolled her back in the hallway. That’s because we haven’t thought about weaving dignity into the experience. We haven’t operationalized hope and caring in a deliberate way.

Start with the Life at the Center, Not Technology

As technology is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives, what’s important is to acknowledge the purpose of technology, which is to enable care and enable people to do the right thing. But it takes starting with the life of your customer to know when to wire the technology in.

I have to tell you, an app alone will not get us there. If you are operationally efficient only because of your technology, it will only give you parity in the marketplace. Yes, if you’re lucky, your refrigerator repairman will keep you posted on when he or she will get to your home, but it’s the man or the woman and how they welcome you, if they put booties on their feet, and how they care for your furniture that tells you the kind of mom they’ve got.

Yes, you can walk completely through an airport without talking to a human, but it’s that gate agent who notices that you’re frantic because you’re about to lose and miss your flight who honors you with grace because he or she have been honored themselves.

3 Key Actions to Show Up as a Caring Company

In 2010, Toby Cosgrove, the CEO of Cleveland Clinic, brought everybody together. There were thousands of them, and he said to his entire team, “People respect how we deliver, how good we are technically at what we do in healthcare, but they don’t like us very much.”

So what they did back then was focus on three key actions, simple things that we can do. Those three things moved them to a very high “love” rating from patients and families, and also allowed them to become ranked number two by US News and World Report.

Click to open the file full-size and hit “File > Save” to download it.

Number one: they created a very simple “no passing” rule. What that means is that no matter who walks by a hospital room with that red call light on, you must go in and care for the human. You must go in and care for the human. It doesn’t matter if you’re a florist or a tech or whatever your job is, you are given permission to stop and take care of the life.

Number two: everyone was given the added job description of “caregiver.” Prior to this only doctors were caregivers; now on everybody’s card, they have caregiver in their title. This raises people’s level and gives them permission. If you’re delivering flowers and you see that somebody’s pillows are rumpled, you can take the time to care for them. You will be celebrated for it.

Give your team permission to take action and care for customers lives. Show them that they will be celebrated for it. In this video, I share a case study from @clevelandclinic that showcases how they #MakeMomProud. Click To Tweet

Number three: they got rid of that crazy silo experience. If you’ve ever been in a hospital for yourself or a family member, you know you have to keep telling your story over and over and over and over again, depending on the doctor or the person taking your blood or the tech or the nurse. Instead, they have implemented 360-degree rounds. They go as a unit and care for the whole life.

When you care, you receive care back. So ask yourself: do you show up as a caring company?

Download the #MakeMomProud Quiz

Audit your  company with 32 questions that measure how beloved of a company you are, and discover whether you are earning admirable growth based on behaviors defined in Jeanne Bliss' new book, Would You Do That To Your Mother.

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How to Build Your Customer Success Forecasting System with Eleanor O’Neil

“I was really looking to achieve an experience that was elegant. I’m a big believer in that,” said Eleanor O’Neil, regarding her decision to create a customer success forecasting system. Eleanor is the Chief Customer Experience Officer at Workshare, a ...

3 Actions to Take to Honor Customers as Assets

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to...

How DHL Became More Customer-Focused, with CCO Scott Allison

Scott Allison 152


How does a logistics company shift its gears to become more customer-focused? In today’s episode, Scott Allison, the Chief Customer Officer of DHL’s supply chain, shares some strategies and tactics around communicating the brand’s message, telling the customer story, and improving employee and customer experience.

DHL is a global leader in the logistics industry. Though the company operates on a B2B level, Scott understands that the business has a big impact on individuals, and wants his employees to remember that their services help improve lives.

Tell the Customer Story

According to Scott, DHL’s CEO of the supply chain business, John Gilbert, said, “we are going to be the most customer-focused logistics company on the planet,” and that’s why his role as CCO was created (in addition to other customer-focused roles). When Scott started his role, like many other CCOs, he dedicated a lot of time talking to customers and senior leaders within various teams. He shares that he wanted to know what customers and employees thought was going well from the customer perspective.

Upon gathering this information, Scott looked for common threads in the answers. After assessing the responses, he found that he was able to draw together quite a few commonalities from his interviews. During this process, Scott discovered that DHL was doing a lot of great things for customers, but they weren’t communicating this. No one was telling the customer story; the focus was on the functionality of the business. DHL was celebrating the number of airplanes and warehouses it had, but not how their efficiency ultimately affected the end customer. Through social media and other channels, they’re telling more of these stories. 

Scott walks me through an example of how DHL services have worked together to improve services to diabetic patients. Through the use of an app, customers can choose all of the items they need for their diabetes management, and DHL carefully gathers all of the supplies to be shipped in one package. They’re working to reduce the number of handoffs for the diabetic patient for a more pleasant and streamlined experience. So to Scott, it’s not just about invoices and packaging, it’s about recognizing that these acts serve the greater good of helping the customer.

It’s not just about invoices and packaging, it’s about recognizing that these acts serve the greater good of helping the customer. [email protected] #DHL #customerexperience Click To Tweet

Craft Your Brand Message and Be Present on Social

Episode 152During this conversation, Scott shares that he realized it was important for DHL to hone their messaging both internally and externally. By creating strong messaging that communicates DHL’s value proposition, versus what they actually do from an operational perspective, Scott believes this will help employees better understand what their purpose is.

DHL is continuing to focus on getting their messaging right so they can share relevant content on their social platforms. Scott believes it’s important for DHL to be on social media because it enhances their reputational value. He knows what it’s like to receive skepticism regarding social media and its effect on sales, saying that people come to him expressing that they haven’t seen a sale come from a Twitter post. Despite the naysayers, Scott stresses that it’s important to be present in these places, especially since the competition tends to be there. Don’t underestimate the value of social media and get left behind when it comes to business growth.

Internally, Scott explains that they’re spending more time improving the employee experience. In some DHL centers where they have more space, they’ve created town halls, personal experience corners, and innovation corners. In their Brussels location, they’ve created a logistics customer rooms where employees can take customers, to show off the new projects that DHL is working on. This allows customers to build better relationships with the employees, as they’re able to have conversations around how the work gets done.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Scott says:

“I know that the customer pays my wage every two weeks. So that’s the main thing. I wish everyone would realize that. I don’t understand that, but sometimes I have conversations and I have to think about why we’re doing this.”

“I saw a video online with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, recently that really resonated with me, and Warren Buffett said that the only thing he can’t really buy is time, right. So when I have my mentorship sessions with my mentees and so on, a lot of things are spent around time management, and I don’t mean being on time for a meeting, but what are you doing with your time. Does your boss ask you at the end of the year how many emails you answered? No. He asks you, ‘Hey, you set out to meet some goals this year. Did you achieve those goals?’

And I think it’s really about having time set aside to sit back and think about what those goals are and how to achieve them, and then really having a laser focus on going after them relentlessly.”

I think it's really about having time set aside to sit back and think about what your goals are and how to achieve them, and then really having a laser focus on going after them relentlessly. [email protected], #DHL Click To Tweet

About Scott Allison

Scott Allison DHL CCOScott Allison is a Scottish national who’s been living with his family in the US since 2013. Currently leading the Service Logistics commercial activities globally within DHL Supply Chain, he is passionate about the development of supply chain techniques across the entire supply and value chain. Scott previously held leadership positions for 30 years within the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector and Technology sector.

Leadership from a people development and personal growth perspective is important to Scott, helping others develop themselves and their careers in a large enterprise environment.

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Strategies for CCO Success in Startup Companies with Rosalyn Curato

Rosalyn Curato

It takes skill to synthesize the knowledge you’ve gained and then disseminate in a way that will help leaders make financial, cultural, and leadership decisions. Rosalyn Curato, CCO of Allovue, a startup EdFinTech (education financial technology) company, knows how to leverage this skill. In today’s episode, Rosalyn shares how her background in finance and education consulting contributes to success in her CCO role.

“There’s that kind of element of being able to really understand finances to set your team up for success,” says Rosalyn. She shares that focus and speed are important because of the urgency of the work. Keeping this in mind, you’ll be able to get to your goal quickly and add value.

Train Your Customers on How to Effectively Use Your Product

Within her first six months, Rosalyn realized that training and optimizing for the first interaction with the product would be a big portion of her work. She mentions that if people don’t get value of out your software the first time they log in, they might give you a second chance, but most likely, they may never log back in.

  • Rosalyn and her team invested in training customers on site. The Allovue team spent dedicated time with customers so they could specifically learn how to use the product and get value out of it. Rosalyn says that this was a successful strategy because they had a captive audience who was essentially being forced to log in, subsequently realizing the value of the product.
  • After the training, Rosalyn’s team used a recording software to watch how customers interacted with the product. By tracking movements of the mouse on the screen, the Allovue team saw where customers lingered, hesitated, and ended up clicking. They used this feedback to make product improvements in order to minimize click and make things less confusing.

Additionally, during the first six months in this role, Rosalyn spent time with the C-Suite, providing them with feedback. She believes that in addition to their innate desire to focus on customers, providing the C-Suite with continuous exposure to what customers are saying and how they’re getting value out of the product, helps get their buy-in for what’s needed.

Providing the C-Suite with continuous exposure to what customers are saying and how they’re getting value out of the product, helps get their buy-in for what’s needed -Rosalyn Curato, @AllovueBalance #Edfintech #CX #customerexperience Click To Tweet

Focus on Retention and Establish Relationship Managers

Allovue is a B2B2C SaaS company that builds software solutions to help school districts around the country interact with their financial data more strategically. As CCO, Rosalyn knew that she would be strategizing around an acquisition and retention plan.

  • Rosalyn says that focusing on renewal was, and is, a major part of her job. Additionally, she knew that it was important to gather feedback to see how customers were using the product. This feedback would help the Allovue team decide how to update the product and ensure it was user-friendly, to increase stickiness.
  • While focusing on retention, Rosalyn started to see a pattern emerge. She realized that having a relationship manager was the lynchpin to ensuring that the customers would gain more value from the product. Once a CSM was in place, she was able to really scale and grow the customer base.
  • Rosalyn talks about the customer delight approach, which people talk about a lot. However, at Allovue, they didn’t see much of an ROI with this method. She said that though people were happy to receive flowers and nice messages, it didn’t correlate to customer retention.
Having a relationship manager was the lynchpin to ensuring that the customers would gain more value from the product. -Rosalyn Curato, @AllovueBalance #edfintech #CX #customerexperience Click To Tweet

4 Lessons Learned During the First Year of Implementation:

Episode 151In Rosalyn’s first year at this startup, she learned a few things along the way:

  • Having relationship managers is an effective approach to customer retention.
  • She learned about the type of customers that were a good fit for Allovue and shared this information with the sales team.
  • After getting comfortable with a process of adding more customers, Rosalyn decided to create a pilot program which would allow customers to test the waters before fully committing.
  • Understand what factors lead some customers to early renewals and what are the early warning signs of churn. Share this information with the sales team so they can be mindful of these specifics when generating leads.

This last lesson was particularly important for Rosalyn. She shares that now that her team understands what some of the warning signs are, they can get in front of the problem and know when to start escalating. This knowledge is then communicated from the sales team all the way to customer service, which helps everyone improve their customer relationship.

“I think any CCO will say that the biggest part of their role is making sure you’re communicating the right information into the right parties and that there’s a timely cascade of information throughout the organization,” says Rosalyn.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Rosalyn says:

“Honestly, a lot of it goes back to the people part of the job, especially at the CCO role, you’re spending a lot of your time on management and strategy. I wish I had a crystal ball to envision what customers we would have had and how much time we would be expending on certain things, so I could have rethought some of my hiring decisions in the past.

As I mentioned, I think we originally decided we may spend more time on training, we may spend more time on interactions with users, but really, we ended up seeing that the value came from these SMEs, so I wish I’d just been able to predict my head count for my team back then, whereas now, I feel like I have that clarity in my hands.”

About Rosalyn Curato

Rosalyn CuratoRosalyn Curato is Chief Customer Officer at Allovue. She was drawn to Allovue after working in education consulting for two years and seeing how much time and effort was spent in analyzing financial data in order to make it actionable. By providing educators with data that is ready for interpretation, Rosalyn believes that school leaders can be more strategic with their time, making resource allocation decisions that will lead to improved student outcomes.

Prior to her role at Allovue, Rosalyn worked at Afton Partners providing financial and operational consulting to the education sector serving school districts, charter management organizations, and funders of innovative schools.

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Make Customer Delight About Delivering Value with Jon Herstein of Box

Jon Herstein 150

“Customer delight is incredibly important, but it’s also insufficient,” says Jon Herstein, Chief Customer Officer at Box, a cloud content management company that serves about 90,000 customers. Jon goes on further to say that delighting the customer is insufficient if they’re not receiving value from their investment in your product or service. Delivering value is ultimately the key point of B2B customer success and delight.

In today’s episode, Jon explains how he delivers business outcomes to his customers in a B2B SaaS company, where the relationship between the vendor and the customer is no longer simply transactional, it’s a long-term relationship that has to be nurtured over time.

2 Tactics to Further Customer Success

Jon shares that customer success is a combination of customer-oriented operations enacted during the pre-sales cycle, the initial implementation of the solution, and post-sale relationship development with customers.

Jon says, “in pre-sales, your sales team knows why the customer is buying the product because they’re the ones who convinced the customer to do so.” The sales team communicated the ROI and the value the customer was going to receive. As CCO, Jon has established that the expectation set by the sales reps must be shared with the rest of employees who are a part of the customer life cycle.

For Jon, this means that his consulting team, customer success managers who own post-sale relationships, and support team, should all be aware of the customers’ expectations. When it comes time for renewal, a CSM can then say: “here are the three things you said you wanted to do when you bought our product,” and then follow up by stating what they believed they delivered for the client. 

1. Develop Core Values

I always advocate that organizations develop and commit to a set of core values that will guide the actions of leaders and employees. It was great to hear that Jon and his Box team use core values to help them on their path to customer success. He shares that “blowing customers’ minds” is a core value that’s been in place for years. Jon goes on further to say that the scale of customer success became large enough to the point that they had to become more focused on the outward-facing view of the customer and how they engage with them.

Jon also shares that they have a Make-Mom-Proud core value! He understands that this is a concept that can be applied internally to how people interact with one another and most importantly, customers. For instance, he shares, if someone sees an empty cup in the conference room, they should pick it up and take it to the kitchen, don’t let someone else do it. Jon believes that when you start to combine the Make-Mom-Proud value with the notion of blowing your customers’ minds, you instinctively start to do the right thing for the customer. 

When you start to combine the #MakeMomProud value with your notion of blowing your customer's minds, you instinctively start to do the right thing for the customer. [email protected] @boxworks #CX #CCO Click To Tweet

2. Continuously Market the Value of Your Product or Service

What would a SaaS company be without its product upgrades and updates? Jon informs us that when it comes to Box product updates, his team constantly educates the customer on new capabilities and functions; it’s important that customers get the most value out of the product. Jon mentions that it’s common for a customer who’s been with Box for three or four years to be stuck using the product the way it worked upon signing on, without taking advantage of the upgraded functionalities.

After realizing that customers aren’t always using the product to its full advantage, Jon incorporated marketing techniques into the customer success function to increase their knowledge of how to use the product. He explains that in on-boarding, email campaigns, nurture campaigns, and during renewal conversations, customer success employees are communicating the benefits of the product upgrades.

Framework for A CCO’s Six Areas of Focus

Jon stepped into his role less than a year ago, and shares that he spent some time with a consultant experienced in customer experience, to help him determine what the scope of his work as CCO would be. They developed a framework consisting of six areas of focus for a CCO:

  1. Customer experience continue to blow customers’ minds through experiences delivered to customers. It’s an outbound, outward-facing view of the experience provided to customers.
  2. Voice of the customer bring the perspective of customers back into the business. Use it to refine the way products are built, the way services are delivered, even the strategy of the company. Essentially, do things for the company on behalf of the customer.
  3. Customer centricity – similar to the voice of the customer, but slightly different. Get everyone in the company thinking about customers more consistently. As your teams get bigger and your roles get more specialized, don’t lose the connection to your customers.
  4. Customer relationships – forming advisory boards, executive sponsorship programs, to maintain and nurture their relationship with customers over time.
  5. Customer advocacy – developed a customer advocacy program called Box Stars. These advocates promote Box externally and build an army of advocates.
  6. Thought leadership – working on being more public about the things that they do to promote customer success within the industry.

Jon shares that it’s also helpful that he has a CEO who is personally committed to the customer success agenda who encourages him to try new things and provide new resources. The instinct is to figure out how to do more for customers rather than try and find ways to do less.

What do you Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Jon says:

“One thing I would reinforce is what I said at the onset, which is customer delight is important but insufficient. Make sure that as you’re building out your capabilities, that that’s a component, as a leader, a component of how you talk about the work that you do, but don’t make it the only thing. I see some teams that are called customer happiness. I think, your job is actually not to make the customer happy, right? Your job is to make sure the customer is deriving value from their investment in your product or service. If you can make them happy while you’re doing it, that’s great, but if you’re only making them happy and you’re not delivering value, again, you’ve got a retention problem. It’s just a question of when. So I would just really emphasize that for folks.”

“If you’re in a growing and scaling situation, a company that’s doing well, you’ve got to be flexible in your approaches and be willing to change things and mature things. That can be painful. I get a lot of feedback from my team about the pace of change and it’s tough to absorb and you have to think a lot about change management. You will not always do it perfectly, but if you’re not changing and you’re still doing things today the way you did them four years ago, in a fast world, you’re not succeeding. So just being willing to make the adjustments, make the change, listen to feedback, and continue to grow your capabilities.”

Your job is to make sure the customer is deriving value from their investment in your product or service. Click To Tweet

About Jon Herstein

Jon Herstein is Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Box. In his role, Jon guides the client services, technical support, consulting and implementation teams, ensuring Box is a trusted advisor for its customers to power their digital workplace, drive digital business transformation and enable a successful Box deployment. Previously, Jon worked with some of the biggest names in tech, including Accenture, Informatica and most recently NetSuite, where he served as Vice President of Professional Services for North America and EMEA.


HOW WOULD YOUR COMPANY ACT IF EVERY CUSTOMER WERE YOUR MOM?

How do we cut through the rigmarole of business to give customers the treatment they desire, and employees the ability to deliver it?

In her latest book, customer experience expert Jeanne Bliss recommends making business personal to get the traction you need by focusing on one deceptively simple question: “Would you do that to your mother?”

Learn More

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How to Evaluate CCO Positions: 5 Steps to Ensuring the Right Fit

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.


On today’s Daily Dose, I want to talk to you about how to suss out potential roles/positions that comes across your desk. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of calls from recruiters for very, very high-level CX leadership roles. So if you’re interested in one of these roles, let me know, because I have quite a few in my pocket that I’m helping people find C-suite candidates for.

Moreover, if you are interested in one of these roles and are interviewing for one of them, let me walk you through several things that I—and the C-level executives I interview in my podcast—recommend that you do to make sure the job is real and that the commitment from the company to take CX seriously is real.

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1. Does the Job Description Go Beyond Tactics?

This may seem silly, but read the job description very specifically. Look for language around leadership engagement, culture, and that your role is defined beyond tactics. If it’s just talking about voice of customer, journey mapping, or the specific tactics—but it’s not really around transformation, and business change, and values, and helping to instill those things—you maybe looking at a technical role, but not necessarily a transformative role.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

Go deep on the company’s background. Look at leadership decisions that have been made. Go through the papers and background materials, and look to see what has impacted major company decisions, so that you have an indication of the kind of company it is. People (and organizations) don’t change overnight to suddely become customer-focused. Look for the breadcrumbs of the kind of groundwork and the kind of leadership that already exists. You want to know what you’re walking into.

In addition, you can go online and read reviews about that employees have left, but we find, sometimes, you have to take some of those with a grain of salt.

3. Get Into the Underbelly

The third thing that people have been suggesting, and I love this, is: Ask to speak to a lot of employees of the organization, not just the people in your interview process.

You want to do is get deep in the underbelly and really talk to the people doing the work.

4. See What the Customer Experiences Now

Then, of course, conduct a “be the customer audit.” Go through a number of the steps/experiences that customers have to go through when dealing with the business to understand the baseline that you’re walking into.

5. Get to Know the Leadership Team

Then, finally, get a very clear picture from the leadership team that you’re dealing with on how they see their own skin in the game, as it applies to customer experience. How do they define the role? And most importantly: whether or not they see themselves as true partners with you. Are they looking at passing this off to you as something to execute versus a partnership that’s about to begin?

When evaluating a potential CCO position for fit, ask: Does the company's leadership team see themselves as partnering with you? Or are they passing off responsibilities for you to execute? Click To Tweet

Furthermore: ask them to define the future state. What are the values of the organization? And what are their goals for improving customers’ lives?

Ask them the simple things: For example, “What are the non-negotiables? What are things that you would never, ever do to customers? What are things you would always do for customers?”

What’s interesting is they may not have thought about it, but their answers are going to give you an indication into the organization, the culture, and the psyche of that leadership team and the company.

I hope that you’re getting some of these great offers. Let me know if you want to hear about more of them. And, hopefully, these tips for interviewing will serve you well.

Want to get Daily Dose videos delivered straight to you? Follow me on LinkedIn or Facebook or subscribe to the blog.

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How to Improve Customer Experience at a Fast Food Restaurant with Fernando Machado of...

“The expectations of people, thanks to technology, are different. You want it now, you want it fast, you want good service, you want it with no friction,” says Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King, regarding the company’s tra...

A 3-Stage Approach to Your Company’s New Customer Experience

Are you responsible for building an entirely new customer experience path for your organization? Monica Whiting, Vice President of Customer Experience at TECO energy, shares tactics and plans to help you strategize short-term and long-term goals for CX, regardless of your industry. TECO is a utility company that provides electric and natural gas services in Tampa, Florida, and gas services across the state of Florida.

With a background working in PR & communications, local government, and the non-profit sector, Monica gained plenty of skills and experience that would help her succeed in her current role at TECO. Once Monica began working in the utility space, she found that she was drawn to the purpose of delivering a life-sustaining, economic, core service that we all need in order to power a better quality of life.

Monica shares that she found her purpose doing customer experience work, and after creating a new customer-driven culture in her prior position at JEA (an electric utility company), she was looking forward to leading a CX transition from the ground up.

3-Stage Approach to A New CX Transformation

When Monica first stepped into her role at TECO, she was immediately tasked with helping TECO retire its 30-year legacy and transition into a new customer information and billing system. Monica shares that this system was the core of TECO’s customer services and a project of this magnitude requires about a 12-18 month stabilization period, so she was essentially leading CX for a company that was going to be operating as a new organization.

In order to lead the customer-focused work, Monica explains that within her first 6 months on the job, she set up the initial work to be done in 3 stages. She didn’t want to be seen as the “whack-a-mole” person and needed to be deliberate in her steps about creating a system for problem-solving.

  1. Be prepared to go live: In January 2017, TECO deployed its first online portal, allowing customers to conduct transactional services. This meant dealing with real-time issues and constantly monitoring technology, ensuring that the process would be stable. Monica shares that while she was in the midst of launching this new technology, she was meeting people within the organization to understand typical customer pain points, data analysis, etc.
  2. Develop a quick hit strategy: Monica suggests that you find the low-hanging fruit. She shares that during this time, they put together action plans to improve things they already knew were problematic. They also determined what processes and procedures could be streamlined. For example, Monica wanted to reduce the number of times a customer needed to contact TECO in order to complete one simple task.
  3. Build your long-term strategy: During this time, Monica started planning how TECO needed to define the organization. What does delivering a world-class customer experience look like? What is customer commitment? Monica shares that these were some of the questions they asked themselves. During this time, they also developed organizational principles for how they would interact and communicate with customers.

Don’t Forget to Engage Your Employees

According to Monica, the secret sauce of a successful CX transformation is to have internal engagement. She clarifies that the only way you can truly mobilize is through the hearts and minds of the employees of the organization. Monica shares some of the steps taken to engage their employees:

  1. Build a customer commitment statement: This statement is rolled out to employees to unite the organization under a shared promise. Every employee is to be trained on the commitment statement and how it’s relevant to their specific job.
  2. Share messages from leadership: Leadership has recorded video vignettes sharing why the customer focus is so important and what it means. Employees need to understand the importance of their jobs and how that impacts the overall customer experience.
  3. Form a customer experience council: Monica shares that they organized the CX council by drivers of satisfaction that are important to customers in the utility industry. Align actions against the principles developed. Monica was able to hire a dedicated leader to shepherd the council’s work.
The secret sauce of a successful CX transformation is to have internal engagement. -Monica Whiting @TECOEnergy #CX #CustomerExperience Click To Tweet

Ensure the Customer Experience Council is Focused

Monica explains that there were different groups within this council to focus on specific areas of work. She outlines some of the building blocks put together so the council leader could move the work forward. According to Monica, one of the drivers of satisfaction in the industry is power quality and reliability. With the understanding of this driving force, it’s up to the council to then act on the following:

  1. How do the customers rate us in this regard? Look at operational metrics and gap analysis. You need to know how you’re performing.
  2. How timely are we? If there’s an outage, how quickly are TECO employees responding? How are they communicating with customers?
  3. Look internally and determine who are the subject matter experts that are required in each specific area in order to get the work done?
  4. Does your team have the right competencies? You need problem solvers, you’ll want people who are open-minded, and you’ll want people who are comfortable pushing back and challenging you to make things better.

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Monica says:

“Find your passion first. Find your purpose, find your passion and you might stumble upon it, right? I did. But we give so much time and so much energy to our work, that if you’re not doing something that you love, you will be miserable. So that would be the first piece of advice.”

“The second piece is not to lose sight. While we’re all in business, and we have business goals to meet, it’s all about people. And that’s a piece we can’t ever forget. And not just from the customer perspective, but from a leadership perspective. And I’m so grateful for the mentors in my career who grounded me and taught me that.”

“I remember one of the new supervisors, like my first month on the job, after that presentation, she came into my office and she said, ‘That was so good. And that was so impressive. And I don’t know that there are too many people that are motivated by accomplishing customer, or accomplishing company goals as you are.’ She goes, ‘But I’ll tell you, this team that you’ve just taken over, they’re not motivated by company goals. They’re motivated by people, and so you need to figure out how to turn your message around so that they’re motivated to make it happen. Because if you make it about people, they will move mountains for you.’ Really powerful lesson.”

While we're all in business, and we have business goals to meet, it's all about people. And that's a piece we can't ever forget. -Monica Whiting @TECOEnergy Click To Tweet

About Monica Whiting

Monica Whiting is vice president of Customer Experience for Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. She is responsible for leading Tampa Electric’s and Peoples Gas’ customer experience strategy and operations for TECO’s more than 1.2 million residential and commercial customers. This includes leadership for the customer experience phone and digital centers, customer billing, payment and collections, account management & economic development, new customer construction project management, customer research, customer strategy and customer solutions.

Whiting joined TECO in January 2017 after spending nearly four years as the chief customer officer for JEA. She has more than two decades of utility experience in customer service, marketing, communications and product development at utilities, including Colorado Springs Utilities and Anaheim Public Utilities.

She has a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations/Journalism from the University of Southern California.

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How A Legacy Organization Embraces Digital Media to Engage Audiences in a Meaningful Way

How does a legacy organization integrate digital media in a way that facilitates a meaningful customer experience? Todd Unger, Chief Experience Officer and Senior Vice President of Physician Engagement at the American Medical Association (AMA), shares insights, and lessons he’s learned along the way, while leveraging his background in product development, and marketing and advertising, to transform a 170-year-old company’s communication methods into the world of digital.

AMA is a powerful ally to physicians and helps them do what they love most—helping patients get better.

Todd, who came up with the idea for Gladware plastic containers, “the containers you love to use and can afford to lose,” understands how important it is to provide real solutions to provide a better experience that meets the needs of the end user. In this episode, we hear more about bringing together functional and emotional benefits to create something that’s compelling to people.

Bring together functional and emotional benefits to create something that’s compelling to people. [email protected] #CX #customerexperience Click To Tweet

4 Cornerstones to Building a Digital Experience

147One of Todd’s focuses upon first starting his role was to continue to grow the organization’s members and retain current ones. He shares that in this time where attention is extremely limited, he had to build a brand strategy that would communicate what AMA does in a succinct manner.

Todd shares that he built a brand strategy with core pillars, pulling in 4 cornerstones to his foundation.

Some priorities and tactics:

  • Email: How can email be used to generate memberships and engage your current audience? Focus on improving templates, focused call-to-actions, content layout, and A/B testing. Learn which emails perform better than others and continue to tailor along the way.
  • Website: Todd shares some marketing expertise here—if you’re going to improve emails and direct traffic to your website, the website needs to be high functioning as well. He tells that they re-designed the digital platform on the web and on the mobile app to bring content together in a unified and engaging way.
  • Consumer segment: Figure out who your consumer segments are and gain true insights into what drives them so you can create relevant experiences. Go beyond demographics. Todd mentions it’s more about behaviors, attitudes, and usage. He goes on to say—think about similarities people may share. Unite people under commonalities rather than things like age or location.
  • Awareness: All CX practitioners need to internally market an organization’s new processes and initiatives. “Everyone wants to focus on the product and they don’t think about the marketing. If you don’t think about both of those at the same time, and especially early in the stage, you’re not gonna be successful,” says Todd.

Before he was able to fully implement all of the above, Todd shares that communicating the vision of improving the physician experience to AMA members and employees was a very important aspect of the work. A large scale project can only be done if others are onboard and align with your mission. 

Connect with Your Audience Through a Dynamic Media Site

Is your website truly engaging your audience? Your website is the main place where your audience is going to experience your brand online, as CX practitioners, you need to ensure the website is designed in a way that allows your audience to easily consume your content and become more deeply immersed in the brand.

Being the marketing expert that he is, Todd explains that he knew his website needed to be a tool for audience generation and engagement. Before AMA’s website re-design, he claims that it seemed to serve more as an association site than a dynamic media site. Todd’s goal for AMA was to become an enthusiast site so that people who are really into medicine and treating their patients can easily access information, learn more, and connect with AMA.

According to Todd, he wanted the website and AMA’s marketing campaign to communicate what the organization does for its audience. “Here’s what we’re doing for you. Here’s how you can be a part of it, and why your membership is so valuable,” was Todd’s approach to the marketing. As more physicians became interested in interacting with AMA and the website, he received requests to use less stock photography and feature real physicians and various events – sharing that one physician stated, “when I look at that photograph, I feel really powerful.” Even the simple choice to showcase real people and real places make for a stronger connection and form of engagement.

Customer experience and marketing go hand in hand. Listen to this episode featuring @toddunger, who talks about the importance of improving an experience through digital media. Click To Tweet

What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?

Todd says:

“There are three things for me that can solve any problem and it’s patience, perspective, and perseverance. And when I look at my career and I look at the ups and the downs of it, I wish I knew earlier along the way that with the application of those three things, 95% of all your problems will go away. And so I try to maintain a sense of, ‘I don’t have to have everything now. I don’t have to win at everything right now.’ That most problems go away on their own and that you really your job is to figure out which ones really matter, and you need to address your time too, and then just stick with it.”

About Todd Unger

Prior to his role at AMA, Todd Unger served as the CMO and Chief Digital offer at Daily Racing Form, leading its digital transformation from print-centric publisher to digital gaming and premium content/data platform. Unger has also led digital organizations at Lifetime Television, Time4 Media, and Major League Gaming, and has built Digital City/AOL Local into the country’s leading online city guide.

A graduate of Harvard University and Miami University, Unger supported consumer product brands in brand management and advertising at Procter & Gamble and Leo Burnett, for a decade.

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