THE CX Skill for 2018


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Be curious. Be lazy. Be often.

Now, I am guessing your eyes might be lingering on the word “lazy” and be ready to stop reading. I get it. As a CX leader or practitioner, you’re busy with a never-ending task list.

You wear many hats. You’re a juggler, a cat-herder, a statistician, a storyteller. There is a priority and expectation that you come with a solid plan. That you have the answers. You’re an expert. You get stuff done.

You are anything but lazy!

But I am going to ask you to give lazy (and curious, and often) a chance.

Why? Because these things can put you on the path to becoming more “coach-like”.

Ok…but why should you care about that?

Because being more coach-like (not running off to become a full-blown coach, just borrowing some of the tricks of the trade, hence “coach-like”) is the key to working less hard, but getting more done and having more impact.

It’s about unlocking and leveraging the full potential of the people and teams you work with so you can have more impact, and without having to do it all yourself (fewer cats to herd, balls to juggle, etc.).

Now, if you’re worried that becoming more “coach-like” will just add to your overflowing CX plate, let me assure you it will not.

It doesn’t add to your workload, it transforms it: Less but better.

At TELUS, we are in the midst of re-thinking and refreshing our approach to coaching.

We are looking at how we can take what is typically thought of as a lengthy process and conversation only for leaders and their direct reports, to a way of working. How we can create a coaching culture focussed on unlocking and leveraging the potential of everyone – leaders, peers, direct reports, vendors, customers – every day, so we can generate new and better ideas. So we can have greater, more meaningful impact as individuals and as a business.

One of our partners on this journey is Box of Crayons. They are helping us learn how we can all be more coach-like, and as it turns out, it does not have to be a long, complicated process.

We’re learning that what gets in the way of us having more impact is often our desire to be helpful!

We want to help, we want to add value, so we’re quick to jump in with answers and advice and start running. The rub is, when we rush in to help we often miss a boatload of great ideas (many better than ours!) and take on things that we didn’t need to take on.

We’re learning that if we slow down a bit we can:

  • Be more curious. Stop rushing in to give answers and advice – tap into the potential and ideas of others first.
  • Be more lazy. Instead of taking on everything ourselves, asking others how we can help first. They might not need us or, they may need something different!
  • Be more often. Make every conversation more coach-like, and more impactful.

But how do you slow down when everyone is racing?

Ask more questions.

There are 7 questions in “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier, founder of Box of Crayons. They are crafted to help you:

  • Generate more possibilities
  • Solve the right problem
  • Take on the right work
  • Make sure it happens

Here I will share the 4 questions that I think will have the most impact out of the gate for CX practitioners.

(1) “And what else?” (Generating possibilities)

Generating new ideas and possibilities is key to continuously improving and innovating the experience you deliver to your customers.

Whether you are trying to get to the root of an issue, exploring a new course of action, brainstorming etc., asking “And what else?” is probably the quickest and easiest way to uncover and create new options, new possibilities, and new solutions.

It keeps you from running with the very first idea that pops up, which is never the only idea and rarely the best. It helps you tap into the collective experience and thinking of the group. Keep asking it until the answer is “There is nothing else!”

Some other ways to frame it?

  • And what else is a challenge?
  • And what else might be possible?

(2) What is the real challenge here for you? (Solve the right problem)

We love to get things done. We love to move quickly. But moving too quickly can mean we find ourselves working on the wrong thing.

Asking, “What is the real challenge here for you?” helps you slow down and make sure you are solving the right problem, the one that will really move the needle when it’s solved.

So after you have gotten a list of challenges through asking “And what else?” continue and ask the group or person you’re working with: “So, what is the real challenge here for you?”

Resist the temptation to jump in and start fixing. Just listen. You’ll leverage their expertise to narrow down the problem to solve, and you’ll make sure you are working on the right thing.

(3) “How can I help?” (Take on the right work)

You want to add value. You want to be helpful.

So, you can find yourself in a rush to jump in and take things on. The result is often an overloaded plate, and sometimes expending a lot of effort when it might not even have been needed.

Asking “How can I help?” stops you from leaping directly into action. It gives the other person or team time to think of what they really need and to make a clear ask of you.

So with a good question and a little slowing down, you can make sure you’re spending your time where it’s really needed, adding value (and appreciated!).

(4) “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?” (Make sure it happens)

The problem with getting things done isn’t usually a shortage of ideas, its execution. It’s finding the resources to make it happen.

One of the ways to increase the chances of your CX plans having the impact you envision is to ask this question when new ideas or plans are on the table:

“If you/we are saying yes to this, what are you/we saying no to?”

It puts a spotlight on what is needed to make sure you have the space, focus and energy to get the “yes” done.

Take your time before you say “Yes”, and if you do, make sure it comes with some “No”s.

So, before you add one more thing to your CX plate. Before you spread yourself too thin. Consider being more “coach-like”.

Be curious. Be lazy. Be often.

You’ll start to nudge towards a CX culture that is focused on unlocking and leveraging the potential of everyone every day. Generating more possibilities, solving the right problems, taking on the right work, and making sure it happens.

Some additional resources:

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 Stacy! Thanks so much for your note and for sharing your article – I really enjoyed it! I agree – lots of interest and opportunity on skill building and career growth for CX!


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