2020 – The year that once felt so far away, so incredibly futuristic, is now just around the corner.
Along with this much anticipated year, you’ve probably heard or been reading about a plethora of new and exciting technologies that will fundamentally change how we deliver customer experiences – automation, AI, machine learning, etc.
For some that feels exciting, for others it creates heartburn – still others say 2020 will be a big non-event like Y2K – All hype and not the special, magical, and remarkable pivotal year we were supposed to never forget.
I guess we’ll see.
Working at a technology company what I can tell you for sure is that this conversation comes up a lot – what’s the next big thing? What’s the best investment? What will make the difference? Is this the thing that will change everything? Etc.
But over the last few years we’ve started to talk less about “what” and more about “how”- how we work together. How we get things done. How we create remarkable experiences.
“What” you’re working on can change or go by the wayside all together (I’m talking to you calling cards, pagers, dial-up internet!) “How” on the other hand has staying-power.
“How” you work can become a structured, repeatable process that helps you navigate whatever “what” comes your way – clarifying and simplifying decision-making and execution when the choices seem overwhelming – think of Steve Jobs and “simplify” or Richard Branson’s “fun, passion, listening.”
Here are 4 “Hows” we’ve been focused on at TELUS as we look towards the future. I hope they help you lead the CX pack, no matter what the future holds this year, next year and every year.
1. Think & create with different people.
In other words – collaborate. And the way it was meant to be done – thoughtfully looking for opportunities to connect your smarts and skills to people with different smarts and skills to achieve something bigger. Better.
And while most of us feel we’re pretty good at it, more often than not what we actually do is think, create, and ponder our big challenges 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, can make the seemingly unsolvable challenge solvable, and help you make decisions about the future with less heartburn.
Hereare four simple shifts you can make to boost your collaboration prowess.
2. Set a lower bar for innovation.
You don’t have to be Apple, Amazon or Google to be an innovation powerhouse. It often feels that way though.
We crave and covet the huge, game-changing “life will never be the same” kinds of innovation. That’s what gets the attention. That’s what we celebrate. So that’s where we set the bar.
Thankfully, innovation is simply about “new”, and the opportunity for “new” is there all day, every day, for all of us. Every meeting, every conversation, every insights debrief, etc. – is an opportunity to see something new, and to choose to do something differently.
Innovation is also a process, a way of thinking, and it can be learned – by anyone.
We can all be good at it.
No one can predict where we’ll be 3-5 years out because the pace of change is so great. You can’t know for certain what the next “big thing” will be. But, something you can do, is keep your innovation switch set to “on” all day, every day – seeking and embracing opportunities big and small. You’ll always have a steady stream of fresh ideas and perspective that will power your growth and future-proof your CX strategy.
Learn three things you can do to innovate every day here.
3. Cultivate great conversations.
When you send out meeting invitations, everyone accepts in seconds, and so many people want to join you have to hold multiple sessions just to accommodate everyone. And when you come to the end of a meeting, no one wants to leave. The conversation goes on long past the end-time.
What would that be like?
What would it be like if when you wanted to talk about customer experience people couldn’t wait? They eagerly soaked up every minute and always wanted more?
If this isn’t the case for you today it can be. Or, at the very least it can be more like that.
Tell more stories. Be curious. Be useful.
You’ll engage more people, and generate more and better ideas for the future, whatever it holds.
Learn three ways to cultivate great conversations here.
4. Know the dream.
So you’re collaborating, innovating a little bit every day, and having great conversations – Why? To what end? What’s the goal? Or better yet – what’s the dream?
Something that separates seasoned Customer Experience leaders from the rest of the pack is that they know the dreams of their company and their stakeholders – why they want and do what they do, why it matters – and they can clearly show how working with them will make those dreams happen faster and with less effort and stress.
In other words, they have killer sales skills.
Borrowing from the words of sales expert and author Geoffrey James:
“Selling is the process of making dreams come true”.
It’s not about manipulation, and it’s definitely not about bamboozling or conning or being “slick”.
It’s about connecting the dreams, goals, and desires of others to the reality of what you have to offer.
And if you can do this, when those big CX ideas for the future are on the table, you’ll become a sought-after partner and advisor who helps accelerate the adoption of these new CX approaches across your organization.
Learn three ways to build your sales skills here.
So, 2020 is just around the corner and there will undoubtedly be lots of “what” questions that come your way as you navigate your CX path this year, next year, and every year.
But in the end, “how” you work might just be more important than what you’re working on.
And some “hows” just never go out of style.
Collaborating. Innovating a little every day. Cultivating great conversations. Knowing the dream. Each of these can help you navigate whatever comes next.
Wishing you all an amazing 2020 and great success every year that follows!
You deserve it!