A Conversation with Tabitha Dunn, the CCO on Ericsson – Using a HumanCentred Approach to Transforming Customer Experience with Tabitha Dunn


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This vlogcast was originaly posted at Eglobalis.

Using a HumanCentred Approach to Transforming Customer Experience

Tabitha: You have all of this responsibility and accountability to make the humans’ lives better.


Ricardo: Tabitha Dunn currently serves as chief customer officer, head of Customer Experience and Global Sales Excellence at Ericsson. In this role, she leads the development of customer experience practice and strategy, the employee experience transformational of the global sales community, and the global sales center of excellence. Previously, she served as vice president of customer and partner experience at SAP. In that role, she led the efforts in building out the customer experience strategy and program as well as developing the roadmap for driving CX improvements in CX disciplines and leading major transformational efforts.

Prior to joining SAP in Concur, Tabitha built and led the Customer Insights practical for Citrix as the managing director of Customer Insights and Development, the CX program for the healthcare division of Philips as the global director of Customer Experience. With 18-plus years of experience as a leader in the CX field, Tabitha also serves as the treasurer on the board of directors for the Customer Experience Association and is certified customer experience professional. Without further ado, let’s welcome together Tabitha Dunn.

So welcome, Tabitha, for The CX Human Lab. Thank you very much for taking the time today to talk with us. It’s an honor and pleasure to have you here. I already introduced you, so you don’t have to worry about that. My first question for you, how are you doing and feeling during this such challenging time in Sweden? How are you adapting with your family there?

Tabitha: Oh, that’s kind of you to ask. You know, I consider myself incredibly fortunate. I recognize that for most people right now, circumstances can be wildly different. And, you know, moving to Sweden in 2019 with my family, we were very excited with the chance to come and…not only to come to Ericsson but to come to Sweden and learn about the culture and get to be able to make new friends. Those were things that my family and I really loved to do.

But I think that if I think about the challenges specifically for 2020 and, in particular, the pandemic, one, I’m incredibly fortunate to do something I love, and I do it for a company that is really, I think, in a really important powerful place to help people right now. And that, you know, knowing that what we do is helping connect people. So many people are doing what we’re doing right now, working from home. We’re lucky to not only have our jobs but have that ability to have connectivity to our offices and our, you know, fellow employees around the world. So those things I’m really grateful for. I think that, you know, it’s best to remind myself of what I have and what is great about it rather than to dwell on what we don’t have or what maybe we’ve missed out on. Because then I easily could get caught upin thinking about those things instead of the bright spots.

Ricardo: Yeah, I understand you. And I think Sweden is a great country as well, so you are in, you know, a very well spot of the world, so that’s no doubt there. How are you adapting to the Sweden business life, and what do you think are the major differences in corporate culture in individual labor and in company labor when you are dealing with global companies and you are operating everywhere in the world?

Tabitha: I’m lucky that for the 20-some-odd years that I have been in CX, I’ve had global roles and worked for global companies.

Ricardo: Great companies.

Tabitha: Yes, without a doubt. And I’ve learned so much in every single one of them. And a big part of learning is really the fact that, you know, everybody is different. Even assuming that everybody in Sweden is the same is not true. As we had talked about briefly before we started, people’s personalities are different, their histories are different. Maybe they’ve traveled a lot or lived a lot of places, or maybe their family comes from somewhere else.

And so, to me, when you have diversity of culture, of experience, of background, of gender, when you have all of those types of diversity in your teams…and in a company like Ericsson, we’re in 180 countries around the world with over 100,000 employees, we have a lot of really outstanding diversity in our company, I think it makes your thought processes better. And the way people think the way they solve problems, it really makes collaboration better, too. And so that is what I love about it.

Ricardo: Yeah, and the outcomes.

Tabitha: It does, it does.

Ricardo: Yeah. But that’s…

Tabitha: But also, you learn something all along the way, right? And that’s, to me, what keeps me coming back for more in this job.

Ricardo: Yeah. Diversity is the best thing in the world because you get so many ideas to solve one problem that you would approach from here, and the other guy will come from here, and it will solve even better the problem, and then it will be out here. That’s sort of like the [inaudible 00:05:58] NBA, but that really works, and that’s what I love about it.

And what do you think would help global organizations to better understand difference in different cultures in order to penetrate those counters? Because many companies come with one model and they think this model will fit everyone, and that’s not always the case, especially now that we focus in CX, EX, everybody have their analyses, have their differences. How would you approach that with your experience today from such amazing global [inaudible 00:06:37] global, so that’s a…

Tabitha: Well, I think what’s interesting about companies is that a lot of what informs the culture isn’t just the people, it’s also what country the company starts from. It does a lot to really inform how the company operates, not just the culture. And I’ll share a story from Philips, that in my early days when I worked for them, someone had explained to me that Philips has a tremendous consensus culture. So, regardless of what part of the world you come from in Philips, and what your experience is, you operate in that consensus culture if you want to be successful.

And the story they told me about it was really fascinating to me because they said that in The Netherlands, and I will probably get this wrong for our Dutch listeners, so please take my apologies as I carry the story forward. But they said it’s because water and land are so precious and so well-managed in many ways in The Netherlands that if they’re gonna build a new canal, or they’re gonna move the direction of the canal, or something is going to have an effect on whether they’re going to clear more land and move water away, which The Netherlands is famous for their engineering skills in that regard, it has to be 100% in the village. So if one person in the village says, “No, I disagree and I will not agree to support the initiative to move the canal,” or expand it or whatever, they don’t do it.

Now, I imagine in today’s world, you know, that maybe there is more compromise and negotiation or maybe things have changed, but it’s something that’s rooted in the Dutch culture that I thought was really fascinating to me, and I say that’s a big part of what drives consensus in Philips. But I think when you go into a company or even before you accept a job, most people, when they are interviewing, should ask a question about culture. That they should really think about, you know, not just the people culture and the culture statements and the values of the company, but how does that affect decision-making. Because that often tells you a lot about how the culture works in the company. So that was the lesson I learned from Philips that I thought was so fascinating.

Ricardo: And I have a question about exactly that point. Consensus is very important, obviously. We all wished we in a meeting and got a better outcome, correct? But not always consensus is the best tool which has better outcomes. Because let’s say you are [inaudible 00:09:31] you are talking with many people and just agree with people, and you really are convinced that that way they wanna take is not the right way, don’t you think that also challenging the consensus can be a good strategy, or do you think that this is unwelcome [inaudible 00:09:52]?

Tabitha: Well…

Ricardo: What’s your thoughts about that? I’m sorry about the question, but just because you said that, so I was thinking…

Tabitha: No, no, no. It’s a good one. It’s not so much that I say that consensus is the best way to operate, more that the example I gave was consensus was core to the Philips culture. It’s not necessarily the same in, you know, any other company I’ve worked for. It doesn’t operate that way. Having worked for SAP, you know, there was definitely a strong, you know, history of the German culture, and now working for Ericsson, there’s a strong history of Swedish culture. Having worked for American companies, you could see American culture.

But it is a good question about consensus, and I would say that I’m not a fan of consensus for consensus’ sake, but I am a big fan of effective change management. Because I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, you know, the hardest lesson I ever learned early on in CX is you have all of this responsibility and accountability to make the humans’ lives better, to make the customer experience better. If you’re doing it really well, you’re making the employee experience better at the same time. But if you aren’t thoughtful about the fact that people don’t change the same way, like, you have all of that responsibility, you have no authority to do it. Because true change comes from people wanting to change or at least accepting that, “Yes, I may disagree, but I’m gonna agree to move forward with the decision and the change.” That really is incredibly important to making true lasting impact.

Ricardo: Yeah, I 100% agree with you. Because just talking here in Germany and in many parts of the world, you have companies that have slogans. And in the time of really leading the change is very difficult for them to go practical with that because not just, let’s change and let’s have a culture of customer experience, doesn’t work. You have to do things to get there and take some time and some effort, I think a larger effort, to change companies and people behavior, especially. That’s my experience with Samsung, now SAP and other companies.

You are a leading employee experience strategist for some of Ericsson verticals today, okay. You are leading sales employee experience. How did you analyze the…not specifically about Ericsson, about your experience, how do you analyze the gaps when you come on board and how you are going to improve things for the company? Because it’s a journey, you know where you are, you have to get to this point, and you have to also convince people to do that with you. How do this process of getting things right? Beyond communications and change management, but what is your thoughts about it? How do you do that?

Tabitha: Well, first, I’ll say that philosophically, any type of improvement initiative you run in a business should really do three things. It should be assessed for, you know, what operational benefit will it give the company, what benefit will it give the employees that will be affected by the change, and what benefit will it give our customers. And, you know, I think, a lot of times, the concept there is that doing things for customers or employees, or both of them is somehow fluffy and it’s the operational piece that really matters. But, truly, if you want change to stick and you want to have long-lasting benefits, you should change it for the humans and the business at the same time. And I find that they work very well together.

And if you’re very analytical and fact-based about how you approach the CX, in addition to the empathy and the humanness that you bring to it, then bringing those things together makes for a better solution design in the end. So if I think about the responsibility we have, none of the salespeople, or our pre-sales, or our commercial management teams report into my organization. Part of why that’s beneficial when I have this responsibility for their employee experience isn’t that I replaced their manager, or the country they work in, or the organization they work in, but instead, I look for what global needs do you have that I can solve for.

And that’s actually very fact-based. They give a lot of insights and data to help with that. That’s everything from behavior, even to go, you know, old-school and do something like time and motion studies, like following a purchase order from the beginning of the process to the end of it, really helps you get data and how the process works, why it’s inefficient, what parts of it work well, and what the employee needs as a result of that, at the same time. You can assess both sides at that equation, and both of them become important parts of the data. And one of the best things you can give employees back is time.

Ricardo: Definitely, I know. Especially [inaudible 00:15:22] is very appreciated, as you probably know, in the…

Tabitha: Exactly. There’s never enough time for everything in your life, you know? There’s always more work to be done, there’s more things you wanna do with, you know, your loved ones or with your life. So if you can find a way to take time out of a process, what a great better experience can you give them?

Ricardo: Yeah. I agree with you. And being part of the work that you are doing now, employee experience and also in sales, maybe personal is not the right word here, I don’t know. I’d have to assume you have many verticals in the company, and Ericsson is a very big company and would not work effectively if you just focus in the sales. We have many different verticals to check here because everything [inaudible 00:16:15] today, you wanna have one company, correct, in the perception of a customer. And how are you dealing with all of those aspects of different verticals and getting them together? We are going to talk about siloes later, but just because you mentioned, that’s why it was about sales, so then that’s something that we cannot separate from other things. If the product doesn’t work, so then you have a problem with the sales, so everything is connected, yeah.

Tabitha: You know, this is now my fifth time building a customer experience practice, and none of them have been the same. And part of that is because the customer needs might be different, the marketplace might be different, the business has different needs of you. When I first was, you know, approached with the Ericsson opportunity, I remember thinking, “Well, that’s unusual that you would put sales excellence and employee experience for our customer-facing teams in sales and customer experience together.” And, you know, I really wanted to explore why is that connection important because customer experience does look at the end-to-end journey of the customer, and we really do look at the ecosystem that sits around the customer.

And so, what came out of, you know, that analysis, as I went through that, was really that in Ericsson, our customers are, you know, the closest to our salespeople. In other companies, when you say sales, you might think of the salesperson who shows up and, “I’m here to sell you something,” and, you know, hopefully, it’s a good experience, and then when the deal is done, they go away. And many other companies have maybe some type of relationship manager or customer success manager that sort of fills, you know, the relationship management role. In Ericsson, it’s the same person. And part of that is because our salespeople could never sell you something they don’t understand what you need and what it takes for you to be successful as a customer. And so that…

Ricardo: Exactly the point, yeah.

Tabitha: Yeah. That deep knowledge they develop of our customers, what they need, and the relationships they build, and how they are there for our customers regardless, like, they are always with our customers, that really made a whole lot of sense to me then because they are that… I love how one of my team once put it, the orchestrators of their customer experience. And that was really neat to me, and I thought to myself, “That’s fascinating.” So I could see then why the people who are closest to specific customers and improving their experience and utilizing their knowledge of our customers is so valuable to improving the customer experience. So they really do, in our world, go very closely together.

Ricardo: Yeah. I never thought in the terms that one person will have…but that’s true. To do sales at all, you will have to understand what you are doing, otherwise, you cannot actually… And it’s better even if they have to keep all the life cycle of the customer because the relationship develops better, you don’t have those customer sales now. Now onboarding I think is really cool. Very different, I must say that, but very good as well. Different model, it works.

What is your definition of great EX, and where do you think global companies are failing on that? Because there are many, especially… I don’t work with startups, but I know many startups that assume that EX is something that you probably don’t see in that way and I don’t see in that way as well. Because they think there’s great conditions to have a great [inaudible 00:20:13], and I’m very far from this thing. What is your take on that, and what is in your perception, in your experience, a real great EX that allows the people to [inaudible 00:20:29], that allows the people to give you real honest feedback because it’s something very tough to do it. Not because you are failing, I don’t know what, especially in the corporate world… Your take on that. I’m sorry about the question.

Tabitha: No, no, no. No apologies. It’s just…it’s a complex answer, unfortunately, so let me see if I could try to break it down, at least at a high-level. The size of a company and the purpose of a company do a lot for employee experience. So you mentioned startups. Smaller companies, whether they’re startups, or they are family-owned businesses, or, you know, whatever they are, the personal touch from the top and the way that that feels like a relationship is much easier to build. Because, you know, you can do wonderful things that are very, very thoughtful and very oriented towards making it feel like a family even if you’re not a family business. You could be that connection.

I think that many companies, when they grow past that stage, struggle with scale. And what’s interesting, you know, for me having mostly worked for very large companies in my life, is that when you reach those points… And you see it a lot because as companies I’ve worked for have acquired other companies, you get to see how that scale starts to be a challenge. And most of the time, a company, when they’re trying to do really good, you know, acquisition strategy and then they go into their integration part, they think about, “Well, we have to integrate finance, we have to integrate systems, we need to move people around.” Like, they do a lot of that.

And there’s now, I think, more of an emphasis on culture, and the employee experience, and how do we preserve some of that, you know, and make sure the cultures connect. But we don’t think about how you scale culture and how you scale employee intimacy. We talk about customer intimacy, that feeling of personal connection really happens from your leadership chain. If you feel connected to the leaders in your organization, if you see them as people, if you can see yourself in the company either growing or progressing in your career, like, if you see that and you have that connection, then I think that that makes it more valuable for people from people from a personal level. And if you are connected to the purpose of the company as well, then you sort of complete the circle.

But for a lot of leaders, they’re not necessarily taught that vulnerability and empathy are strengths, from a leadership perspective. There are many different types of excellent leadership styles, but having more skills and different leadership styles to flex too, I think make for a better employee experience. Because then, some employees don’t want that level of empathy. They won’t come to work, and they wanna deliver, you know, right? So, I should be able to be that type of boss for them. Or for someone who wants more of that empathy and that connection, I should be able to make that available to them, too. So that’s how I think about employee experiences, it really is, what do they say, you don’t leave a company, you don’t leave a job, you leave your boss?

Ricardo: That’s right.

Tabitha: I don’t know if that’s always been true for me, I’ve had some pretty great bosses over the years, but I can say that you might, you know, got connection to them, either makes it easier to say yes to something else because you don’t have a connection or makes it much harder because you do.

Ricardo: That’s a great point.

Tabitha: Yeah. So that’s why employee experience is so complicated because there are so many different elements to it.

Ricardo: Yeah. And, as you mentioned, I think everybody have their own needs and is most like a tailored experience for everyone, but you have to keep being yourself. Because if you are like that, you are empathetic to everyone, you should be to everyone because you cannot adapt or be less empathetic with you because you’re gonna need that… That’s the thing of leadership. Thank you very much. I like you have such a great mind. I knew that. I knew, that’s the reason I invited you.

Tabitha, I have another question. You served at so many great companies, yes? Citrix, SAP, first Concur and then SAP acquired, and now with Ericsson, and all of them have a commonality. You know, the kind of thing in terms of my point of view, and maybe I’m wrong as well, all of them have systems and multidisciplinary or enterprise technology systems which the design is not always human very friendly centric, yeah? And you know that. I’m sure you know that. Maybe less in Concur, but when you got the role in SAP, you know the challenges. And even Bill McDermott recognized the problems before he leaves, so much that he invested €850 millions to change this.

So what is your take in terms of how we can create…? And I think this is connected to your work because to succeed in sales is not just about having great people prepare it but also to create experience for the user standpoint who adopt the solution. What’s your take on that, that the companies, especially enterprise technology, are missing? You know, I have one example for you. When you go to the cockpit of Salesforce, for example, if you don’t know that before, believe me, it will take you time to understand what’s going on there, you know? And I can apply the same thing from a company. They come from Oracle and SAP, and it’s not intuitive, it’s not… What do you think is missing here in this mindset that I have maybe about simplification and renovation, and adoption, because that’s what you are looking for in the sales, correct? Now, I’m sorry about the complex question, but that’s really…I think your take could be very, very interesting to hear.

Tabitha: Well, I think you probably get a lot of different answers from various designers around the world. But I would say that, in my experience, one of the harder things to do from a technology perspective is to find the right balance between features and functionality, and user experience. And that is not always easy. And, interestingly enough, it’s a problem from a customer perspective because not all customers care about their end-user experience. Some companies install the system, and when they are doing the evaluation in the RFP process, they look for user experience but some of them do not. They look for functionality and capabilities and cost, and not user experience, or maybe user experience is the bottom of the list.

When you, as a company, are selling to your customers, if a lot of your customers don’t care about user experience, maybe you don’t prioritize it as much either because it’s not what your customers are demanding from you. But there’s the opposite challenge of customers always wanting new functions, new capabilities in technology, in particular, like you mentioned, the software world. Every time you add something, it makes it more complicated, and it is extraordinarily hard to make the complex intuitive. And I always think, and I’m probably going to get this wrong but I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “I would’ve written a shorter letter but I didn’t have time.” That, to me, is the essence of user experience’s tension with product development.

To simplify the complex takes more time. It’s worth it, and, in fact, that’s actually one of my philosophies for change is I’d rather take more time so it’s easy to get right and difficult to do wrong. It might take twice as long for us to get to the finish line, but it’s worth doing it that way because then you made it easier to do, and that means it’ll be stickier from a change perspective. But, you know, that’s not always something you have the opportunity to do when you’re doing product design. And I would imagine that for most companies, that’s the constant challenge. How do I make it easier? How much time do I invest in making it easier versus how much time do I invest in giving customers the long list of things they want those tools to do?

Ricardo: I agree with you, but it is interesting because what I’ve seen in the market is that as more complex the product is, longer your onboarding program will be as well because you have to… Yeah, and that makes a problem in itself. You’re gonna have to make things bigger to explain, to clarify all of the details. And that’s what, actually two companies that I work with, one that you worked with as well, SAP, are trying to tackle right now. And it’s very interesting to see their take on those things. But that’s another…interesting to hear what you think about that.

When you are creating a better experience for employees, you know, we are obviously [inaudible 00:30:45] we just don’t have a customer experience that’s great [inaudible 00:30:47] tension, correct? And are you also working with other departments in order to have the company working as one, or you are working specifically with the team of sales? Because I think intuitiveness, adoption rate is what business wants today. And I don’t [inaudible 00:31:12] but that’s our intention then of today is when you acquire something today, especially with cloud, is not enough. You have to have adoption, otherwise, I don’t stick with you next year, and that’s the sales as well. So what’s your take in terms of bringing a company together to make both the experience for the employee great and the experience of the customer as well? Because one depends onto the other anyway.

Tabitha: Yeah. You know, one of the things I love about customer experience, and probably why I continue to do this job is because you have the opportunity to work with every part of the company. So, I don’t just work with the frontline-facing teams and sales or services, I work a lot with finance, and legal, and IT, and compliance, like, all of those different groups. I would say that over the years, probably the one I’ve worked with the least is facilities. And I love the fact that right now, facilities is front and center in the employee experience discussion.

I think that’s phenomenal because now companies are suddenly going, “Maybe I can be located elsewhere,” “Maybe I can have a smaller footprint,” which is great for the earth, right? But, at the same time, it can be restructured so that it’s far more flexible and collaborative, and oriented too, when you’re in the office today, this is the way you need to work. And when you’re in the office tomorrow, maybe you need to work differently.

Those types of conversations I think that…you know, only the very bleeding-edge companies have talked a lot about facilities and employee experience in that type of fashion. So, yeah, I think that that’s gonna be what’s interesting to me is when you work in CX, there are so many wonderful things that you get to do and so many people you get to know. And I’m constantly amazed at how passionate people are. And if you were like, “I wanna help. I wanna make this better for our people and our customers,” and that keeps me going especially because, you know, change is hard. And that ability to connect with so many people and be the bridge, that’s really what CX people are, are that bridge that connects across all of those siloes.

Ricardo: Yeah. I love that because it’s exactly what you are saying for me as well. The beauty of CX that you are involved with…you cannot just impact here, we have to impact everything because it’s one company. That’s the approach. And forgive me to mention so many times one company. I have experience with companies that you could see the siloes so divided from outside as a client, you know, as a customer, I mean, not as a professional. So this has really frustrated me. So I was envisioning you and Ericsson creating this one thing company that…obviously, they have many divisions. I worked in front for the division of BSS/OSS, but I really like your take. That’s all I can say right now.

Organizations, as they grow, as we mentioned in the beginning, they become more, you know, they need more control, finance, ERP, logistics, etc. How can we create easy experiences for employees and, ultimately, for the customers? Create inside, you are going to create as well in order to avoid complex… Because as more companies add processes, procedures, things that you have to fulfill in terms of processes, in many companies who turn people off, and I read something about SAP in the past, it was public data, that 40% of the people they found out internally that was supposed to do things that…they was spending 40% of their time doing things that they was not supposed to be doing because they have so many things to get done. So then, you know, you don’t focus on what you were hired for doing, you’re doing other things. It’s part administration, but how do you see this going forward in terms of complexities in our simplification of systems?

Tabitha: You know, you’re probably very familiar with the Prosci model for change, the ADKAR Model. If more people went through that training and learned to apply it, even if all they remembered is understanding the ADKAR Model, I think it would make a huge impact for the ability to drive effective change. And anybody listening, they could go back and count the number of times I’ve talked about change. The reason is because I have been incredibly lucky to learn a lot about customer experience, everything from learning about design thinking at the Stanford Design School, from being able to…like, I’ve done years of research and all of these things that are core to CX.

But, in the end, everything you’re doing in customer experience and employee experience is asking people to change.

And it is the most common mistake anybody makes. Prosci has reams of data on that, that if you’re gonna start a project, you’re the project leader, the sponsor, or you were asked to become a part of the core team, you’re starting right there at knowledge, right smack in the middle.

And so you’re excited to be there, hopefully, or you’re at least willing to change already. I mean, you don’t think that the wider group of people who have to change with you are probably still stuck back at awareness or desire. And that is really the constant part of my brain, is thinking about, “Well, are they aware that we need to change? Are they aware of the problem, even? Do they have the same desire to change? Do they think this is the right priority for us to change? They think this is the right direction for us.” All of those types of discussions help you simplify things because,
‘’Everybody who raises an objection to change or to an initiative is your friend” because they’re telling you something… #cx #customerexperience #employeeexerience ##humancentreddesign #ECXO

Ricardo: They care.

Tabitha: Exactly. It’s the silence that really should worry you, right? You wanna spend time with the people who already support you and believe we should do this, but you need to spend just as much time with the people who have objections. Because those objections really count in either making your solution better, identifying parts of the problem you haven’t thought of, helping you figure out better ways to communicate when you do need to change, or even in just making sure that they know, “I heard you, and here is how what you said is reflected in what we learn and, hopefully, reflected in what we’re gonna do differently as a result.” That ability to embrace objections is a core part of solving the problem you talk about, about making things simpler. It takes a lot more time, but doing that time upfront…

Ricardo: But the result

Tabitha: Exactly. It makes it so much better in the end. And that’s probably one of the most important skills CX people don’t learn, is better and more effective change management.

Ricardo: I agree with you 100%. I really like that. This is one of the tools…it’s like a company, the same things about companies. When your customers are criticizing you, that’s actually great because, first, they care, they’re showing that they care, and the second thing is that…or you listen and enable or improve what they are talking with you, or you start a conversation with them to prove that later maybe if you cannot do that, especially in the technology world. Ability of listening to what you are talking about in end of the day.

But that’s a great point because care is everything about CX. If you care, if you are engaged, you know who is caring about something, in life or in business because of this fact that people give you opinions. You know, that’s how I am as well. I like to think, “Oh, well, maybe you can do better there, maybe you can do better here.” But, sometimes, I’ll come across [inaudible 00:40:02] but that’s my…

Tabitha: Well, you know, it is a cycle, right? Listen, learn, act, repeat.

Ricardo: That’s right. For approaching our end of conversation, I would like to ask you a question about resistance. For sure, you bring a lot of knowledge. You are a very smart girl, you’re a very experienced professional, so the people definitely want to hear you. That’s the reason you are in Sweden right now. But probably not just any country in the world or in any company, you face resistance to change, resistance to certain approach for CX, what’s your advice to people to do when they do deal with those kinds of cases of resistance and also the benefit, what would be my ROI of there? You know, those kind of questions that, like, [inaudible 00:41:00] the people ask for something like that? What is your experience with that?

Tabitha: You know that little phrase I…

Ricardo: It is a good question. I am not sure this is a good question.

Tabitha: No, it is. The little phrase I just said, “Listen, learn, act, repeat,” Most people go listen, act, “I listened, now I’m gonna go act.” But I’m very thoughtful about the fact that listening is only a part of learning. And so, to truly understand, I have to learn. And this is probably one of the hardest things as a leader for me because, usually, you know, at a certain stage, there’s so much going on, a tremendous amount of really important work to do, and people are excited to be a part of it. You need to make progress, there’s pressure to deliver results. It’s easy to forget that listening and learning has to continue to happen throughout the process, and it is if you’re actively reaching out and listening throughout, not just at the beginning, and try to learn from what you hear, then you actually can overcome those objections, those resistance points.

I think it’s very difficult to do if you don’t know why people resist. And if you haven’t spent the time, not just, “Oh, they just don’t wanna change because they’re used to the way they do it.” Okay, but that’s what root-cause analysis is for. Go find out what they love about that old way or what they’re concerned about changing. And how do you then help them say, “Okay, I get it, changing might take more time now, but once you’re used to the new way of working, it’ll actually less time. Let me prove that. How could I prove that to you?” It’s those types of discussions where you’re really thoughtful about, “I’m gonna really learn and get to the root cause of your concerns” that help you devise better solutions and bring people along for the journey.

Ricardo: Impressive answer. I love your answers. Because when you speak, we see experience here, not just reading books and those kinds of thing you are doing. That’s totally different way. I love that. Thank you very much. Tabitha, before I let you go, how do people can talk with you, maybe LinkedIn, maybe how the people can contact you if they want to talk with you? I know that you are very busy, and I appreciate your time here.

Tabitha: LinkedIn is probably usually the easiest way. I will admit that I don’t check it as often as I check my email, but I do try to check it every week. And so, definitely, I encourage people to reach out. And one of the things that, you know, I feel that I get from a lot of people in CX is not only their willingness to share what they learn but to ask the hard questions and to get help. That means that I’m always willing to help. It might take me longer to get to it sometimes, but I am willing to help people, and I learn a lot through that process.

And I appreciate the opportunity to share today some of the lessons I’ve learned. I recognize that trying to cram 20 years of experience into a short period of time, that it’s not as practical as everyone might wish, but I hope that everybody who’s listening today carried one thing away home with them that they go, “Oh, let me think differently about that,” or, “Let me go explore that concept and learn more about that.”

Ricardo: Yeah. I think many people will watch that and will get your insights that I think are very fruitful. Because I told you, [inaudible 00:44:56] so I really liked the experience that you have, and all of the background, and all of your insights. Thank you very much for your time, okay, highly appreciated. Have a great time here in Europe. If you come to Munich, we are here anyway, okay?

Tabitha: I appreciate that.

Ricardo: Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Ricardo Saltz Gulko
Ricardo Saltz Gulko is the founder of Eglobalis and the European Customer Experience Organization. He is a global strategist specializing in B2B enterprises, with a focus on Customer Experience, Professional Services, Design and Innovation, as well as data-driven services. Ricardo empowers major global enterprises to generate new revenue and enhance market competitiveness through the delivery of exceptional global CX, and he employs design to drive adoption and growth. The end results of his work include high growth, increased retention, loyalty, innovation ignition, adoption and growth.


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