Collaboration: The Skill to Tackle Your Biggest CX Challenges


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What’s your biggest CX bugaboo, that one that just doesn’t seem to go away?

Maybe it’s those frustrating silos, creating compelling business cases, data integration headaches, selling CX to senior leaders or skeptics, or figuring out your AI opportunity.

Whatever it is, if you can master or even just improve how you collaborate, you’ll make that seemingly unsolvable challenge solvable.

Now, this is when you say to me – “Listen. I’m good on the collaboration front. I work in customer experience, I always have my customer hat on. I’m always thinking end-to-end. I’m a team-player. I’m the poster child for collaboration.”

To which I say – “But are you… really?”

Collaboration is about thoughtfully looking for opportunities to connect your smarts and skills to people with different smarts and skills to achieve something bigger.

But more often than not, when we ponder our big challenges, we ponder them with people who have varying shades of the same knowledge and skills we have.

We create echo chambers that bounce around fairly predictable challenges and solutions instead of creating more opportunities to bring in new people, new ideas, new knowledge, and new skills to solve big problems.

Collaboration, real collaboration, extends your reach, multiplies your impact, and fast-tracks the adoption of your CX vision across your organization.

Towards Better Collaboration

Here are 4 simple shifts you can make to boost your collaboration prowess:

1. Think bigger.

Got that big CX challenge in mind? Good. For now, ignore the things that have been holding you back. Just think about what you want to achieve.

Now think bigger. Much bigger.

Don’t worry how bold or crazy or over the top it sounds. Go for it. The whole enchilada.

Why think bigger? Well, chances are the dream won’t be something you’ll be able to do on your own. You’ll need help. Thinking bigger is a great way to nudge yourself to collaborate more.

2. Break it down.

Now, look at your plan. What are you going to need to get it done? Research? Financial models? Business casing? A great pitch? Data Science expertise? New compensation approaches? Training? Change Management strategies? Communications? What else?

Looking at the list of what you’ll need, jot down everything that’s a strength for you, the things you can easily do on your own.

Now list out those things that aren’t in your wheelhouse. It might be business-casing, compensation models, chatbots, selling, training, etc. Whatever it is, after you’ve listed it out ask yourself:

“Who are the people who own, are responsible for, are good at those things, or have those skillsets?”

Jot those names down – this is your list of collaborators.

3. Start at the beginning.

Always start at the beginning and start early.

Have the seeds of a great idea? Reach out. Your plan doesn’t need to be perfect, pretty, or full-fledged. The idea is to collaborate after all, and that’s something you do together. You might say something like “I’ve been tossing around a new idea and I’d really like to get your thoughts…”

Starting early gives your collaborators more time to give thoughtful, creative input. You don’t have the stress or pressure of timelines or due dates yet which can quash great ideas. No one can say “Great idea but we don’t have enough time”.

Another reason to start early? Asking someone for input on something that’s almost fully baked isn’t asking for collaboration, it’s asking them to “rubber stamp” it and that doesn’t get you great ideas or strong partnership, it usually just makes things awkward.

4. Be a creator not a critic.

You’re looking to collaborate because they have the expertise you need. You want to set the stage for ideas and creativity to blossom. So spend your time listening more and talking less. After they’ve tabled some thinking and ideas, help keep the creativity going with a question like ‘And what else?” – What else do you think we could do/we should try/might be an option/would really push the envelope? Etc.

You can worry about a critical review of all the ideas later.

And at the end of any chat, it never hurts to ask who else you think should be invited into the fold. It expands your team and thinking.

Collaboration at TELUS

Collaboration has long been a TELUS value, but I’d say we really took it on with CX gusto in 2012.

Our CX efforts were going well, but we wanted to do better, to be better. We wanted customer experience to truly be a team sport, to have every single team member – every role, every department, every level – be a part of bringing our Customer First promise to life, every single day. With that lens, collaborating with HR was a must – they’re our experts in people, culture, and change, and they shape how we work and what work gets done.

Our collaboration with them led to our largest collaboration to date – engaging our entire organization, end to end, from front line employees to executives to figure out how to bring everyone into the CX fold. This gave us our 4 TELUS customer commitments – the behaviours we can all do each day regardless of role to make sure we always put our customers first.

Within 12 months of this large-scale collaboration, we realized the largest improvements in customer and employee experience results in our history.

At TELUS we’re definitely not perfect when it comes to collaboration, but we keep working at it and we continue to make progress. Proof of that for me is when I see things like an article our Supply Chain team published on our intranet the other day about some of the work they’re doing to elevate the experience of our customers.

Things like that tell me we continue to collaborate across the business for our customers, and that customer experience isn’t a department – it’s what matters to us, all of us.

So, if you haven’t already, reach out to those finance wizards, selling super-stars, legal geniuses, compensation crackerjacks, masters of change and cultural transformation, etc. Collaborate!

Connect your smarts and skills to people with different smarts and skills to achieve something – bigger.

If you’re interested in more collaboration:

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.


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