3 Ways to Humanize Your CX Strategy


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Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

Just over a year ago on a beautiful summer day here in Toronto, my husband and I had spent the day working in the garden and were coming back into the house to unwind and relax.

Relaxation was short-lived, however, as 5 minutes in I found myself dialing 911. We would later learn that my husband had a major heart attack.

Doctors and nurses cycled in and out over the five-day hospital stay, typically showing more interest in their files and the dashboard-like monitors than us. Sometimes we were barely acknowledged.

They would spout numbers and acronyms, probabilities, levels etc. — often discussing the state of my husband’s health as though we weren’t even there! To us, it seemed that they were more interested in the brightly lit monitors and the stream of numbers and beeps that continued day and night than they were in communicating with the people in their care.

The treatment we received from the hospital was both effective and efficient, and I am forever grateful to them. But on more than one occasion we felt like an imposition.

Don’t forget the human element

It reminded me of a critical lesson in CX. Just because companies have better technology, more data and better analytics than ever before doesn’t mean we can lose sight of the human element. We have to remember that CX is short for “Customer Experience”, and that we have to keep the customers – the people – front and centre.

You’ve probably heard or read that human beings are actually hard-wired for connection. We innately want to be helpful, to be kind. Our brains are energized by it.

When you help your organization go beyond the charts, graphs and dashboards to connect with customers as people, you start to build a customer experience culture that is as engaging for your team as for your customers.

At TELUS we are passionate about improving the lives of our customers and our communities. Here are three ways we help our team see beyond the data and stay close to our customers.

1. We put faces on our numbers

In our Small Business market, something that really super-charged our performance was the addition of Personas.

Each persona was brought to life with a detailed narrative of who they were and how they built their business. Each had rich details about their workdays, their greatest accomplishments, their needs and goals, and their feelings about technology and TELUS. And, most importantly, each had a name.

It changed the conversation from products first to people first.

Instead of just talking about spend, product mix, growth potential, etc… people said things like “Amy is all about being available to her customers and building loyalty, so, […] would be a great option”. “Victor’s long-term game-plan is to build global presence, so, […] is the offering that makes the most sense”.

Everyone was more engaged, and business results were stellar. For example:

  • Marketing campaigns close-rates tripled.
  • When we integrated the Personas into our technician training program, technicians could better gauge how much time they were going to need to spend (affinity and comfort with technology was part of the Persona picture) and how they could best support.
  • Customers started to tell us that they felt heard, and that we “got it”. That we “got them”.

2. We build improvement plans with our customers, not just for our customers

A while back, we saw that our CX improvement plans for our some of our largest business customers weren’t having the impact we expected, and we knew we were missing something. So we decided to invite some of our customers in for a working session – to build the improvement plans together, side by side.

We learned more that day and probably enjoyed the improvement planning process more than ever before. People were already eagerly planning the next one before the first one was even wrapped up!

The plans we built together were more streamlined and simple than the previous ones, and our customers told us that they were also of higher value. Furthermore, when we shared what we had done and the plans with our larger customer base, other customers asked to be included in similar sessions.

Oh, and our results improved and participation rates in customer feedback programs doubled.

3. We spend time together

At TELUS, we really are passionate about improving the lives of our customers and our communities. And we don’t think you can achieve that by staying tucked away in your office-building.

We like to spend time with our customers.

Each year our “TELUS Days of Giving” initiative brings together team members, retirees, partners, and our family and friends from across the country to give where we live by volunteering our time.

We believe customers want to do business with companies that share their values regarding their community and environment. We believe that to realize our goals, we need to be a company that our customers are proud to connect with. And it’s hard to make a connection with someone you don’t know.

Not only do we tend to come back to the office with new understanding, appreciation and ideas after meeting with customers in-person, but we often have a refreshed sense of purpose and pride. We are reminded of why we do what we do, and more importantly, who we do it for.

Here is a short video celebrating our 10 year anniversary of “We give where we live”.

And sometimes we give some extra special care to one of our cities to say thank you to our customers and to get to know them a little better.

So continue to love your numbers, your data, and your models. But don’t forget who this is really about — the customers behind the numbers.

Put faces on your data. Build improvement plans with your customers. Get out there and spend some time together. You’ll build a culture that enables your CX vision and is as engaging to your team as it is to your customers. And that’s when the magic happens!

Krista Sheridan
Krista Sheridan is a Customer Experience veteran with a passion for helping people better understand how they are connected to the customer, the value of the work they do each day, and how to drive actions that engage customers and deliver strong business results. Krista's current focus at TELUS is Leadership Development for a Customer First Culture.


  1. Hi Krista! Thanks for sharing such a personal story about your families experience. You are absolutely right that even with the cast amount of technology, the human element is still a critical aspect of the customer experience. Technology should allow companies to create a better process for their customers, but not forget to still engage the customer when needed. You’re company has put some great tools in place to humanize this experience, and these are very helpful tips. Great read!

  2. Hi Brittney! Enabling better healthcare and health outcomes for Canadians is a big focus for TELUS. I’m proud to say we focus as much on the people part as the technology! Thanks so much for reading, and for your note – I really appreciate it!


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