Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Annette Franz. Annette is CEO of CX Journey Inc, a boutique consulting firm specializing in helping clients ground and frame their customer experience strategies in/via customer understanding.
Annette’s passion lies in teaching companies about customer experience and helping them understand the critical linkage between the employee experience and a great customer experience.
Q1. Hi Annette, thanks so much for joining me today. First question – You are one of the leading proponents of “customer experience,” but in today’s challenging marketplace many businesses focus more on generating revenue than on the positive experience their customers receive. How do we get back to understanding that business is about the service and the experience we receive?
This is one of the most perplexing challenges for customer experience professionals today; it seems like such a no-brainer. We know the business needs to focus on the employee experience and the customer experience over revenues. But most executives still adhere to the old management adage that they’re in business to maximize shareholder value. How to overcome this?
We need to build the business case: Listen to customers, make improvements, and show ROI (return on investment). We can also share publicly-available data comparing CX leaders and CX losers to their market performance to help tell the story and build the case. And we share customer feedback, stories, and pain to help executives understand that when things are bad, the customer will not return.
Or develop a customer immersion program where executives get to live with their customers as they try to use the company’s products and services. There are a lot of other things we can do, but the bottom line is that we have to make our case and sell it.
Q2. You have written that the customer experience is an ever-evolving journey. Can you explain what you mean by that?
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The customer experience really is a never-ending, ever-evolving journey. Once you’ve designed the best experience for your customers today, their needs change, their expectations evolve, the business evolves, new products and services are introduced, different customers with different needs come on board, etc. Our work is never done!
Q3. Those of us in the customer service industry are usually very opinionated about the service a business provides – we’re either very understanding or very critical. When you are the “customer” are you forgiving of a business’s shortcomings, because you know the challenges the provider must deal with, or do you expect the same high level of service as anyone else and voice your concerns when it’s not received?
I expect the same high level of service anyone else does. Being in the know can be even more frustrating than someone who doesn’t understand that “it’s just the script” or that it’s not the employee’s fault. Being in the know means we know that the issue shouldn’t even be happening, that there are often simple fixes, that the executives chose revenues over customers, etc.
Q4. You have received numerous awards and recognitions, such as “The 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter” and “10 Biggest Influencers in Customer Experience Around the World”. What do these accolades mean to you?
Honestly, I am honored and humbled with each accolade. It’s always great to be recognized for your work. The recognition shows that your work means something to someone. It’s nice to be appreciated for what I do.
Q5. Please share 3 things about yourself that most people don’t know (strangest job, hobby, most embarrassing moment, etc.).
Oh my. Let’s see. (1) I grew up on a farm. I used to show horses, sheep, and chickens. Yea, chickens. (2) I’m a competitive person/athlete at heart. I ran both track and cross country in high school. We didn’t have a girls’ cross country team, so I ran on the boys’ team. And in track, I was the second fastest miler in the state of Ohio. (3) I’ve been a competitive bodybuilder in the past; no plans to do that again.
Q6. What are your top 5 tips to provide great customer service?
There are so many more than just five, but here’s what’s top of my mind:
- Listen to your customers; act on what you hear.
- Know and understand your customers; deliver the experience they want.
- If you put employees first, they’ll take great care of customers. Fix the employee experience.
- Communication is so important. Be responsive, clear, and helpful.
- Appreciate your customers; don’t forget to thank them for their business.
Thanks so much for asking me these questions. I hope my responses are helpful to your readers!
Thanks Annette, it was a pleasure having you part of my Leadership Series and I know the readers enjoyed meeting you!
Some more information about Annette:
Annette’s passion lies in teaching companies about customer experience and helping them understand the critical linkage between the employee experience and a great customer experience. She has 25 years of experience in the CX space and has been recognized as a top influencer in Customer Experience. An active CXPA member, CX Expert, CX Mentor, and a SoCal Local Networking Team Lead; she also serves as an executive officer on the association’s Board of Directors.
You can connect with Annette on her social media accounts here: