Two steps forwards, five steps back: No-one said transforming the Customer Experience is easy!


bang head here

Every job has its ups and downs. Whether you are a teacher, a doctor, an accountant, a sales rep, an IT consultant or an artist, some days will be better than others. I could continue to name more professions, but the principle would be the same – as sure as night follows day, good will follow not so good and vice versa. Throughout our lives we will face challenges – from the moment we come into the world, to the moment we depart it – how we deal with those challenges in our personal and professional lives is what defines us as people on this planet.

The profession that is Customer Experience is no different. It is not exclusively challenging – or indeed more or less challenging than any other profession. It is a tough job that requires as much mental strength and fortitude as it does skill and technical knowledge. Like other professions, the job itself deals with a principle that to many is just plain good sense. Many feel that the concepts that encompass the world of Customer Experience are indeed obvious. However, the reality with most things that are obvious to some is that they are not always obvious to others.

In my career as a practitioner of Customer Experience, I have faced an unmentionable number of the ups and downs that we all experience. I have sometimes been heard muttering ‘everyone get out of the building – there is no hope!!’ On other occasions, I have been so elated at the progress being made, that I have had to pinch myself to check that I am not dreaming. Influencing the transformation of Customer Experience in any organisation is a remarkably rewarding role – but no-one ever said it would be easy!

The reason for writing this blog post is to reassure all Customer Experience Professionals (CXPs) who sometimes question the direction that their efforts are taking them. In defining the experience that customers have with organisations, I encourage companies to consider how it FEELS to be a customer – both in the present day and how the company would like them to feel in the future. I would like to take the same principle and explore how it FEELS to be a CXP by delving in to the emotions that they WILL inevitably experience in their daily role. The emotions can be described in the following diagram:

Emotions of a CXP

I have experienced all of these emotions over the last few years, let me further describe each one in turn:

THE WALL – the emotion I describe as akin to ‘pushing water uphill’, this is an emotion that is difficult to prepare for, irrespective of how often/hard peers or teachers try. If you have ever tried to get the support of a senior leader, or a board of directors, or even your boss and struggled to get their buy in/support; or if you have been talking about customer feedback in a room of people spending more time looking at their smartphones than paying attention to the invaluable insight being shared; or if you have ever been given feedback about a meeting that completely contradicts what you experienced – you will know how this feels. ‘The Wall’ emotion is one that is impossible to avoid – especially if your primary role is to influence change or transformation of the Customer Experience.

I recently observed a session between a brilliant CXP who has enabled remarkable progress in their organisation and a group of very senior executives. With mixed body language and interaction throughout the session, the result was (in my opinion) a very positive one. The feedback received from this CXPs ultimate boss was completely contradictory – the CXP felt the full force of ‘The Wall!’ The instant response was one of hopelessness. ‘Is this really all worth it?’ ‘Show me a wall and I will bang my head against it!’ Fortunately, the wall is only one of three emotions – as often as you experience ‘the wall’, you will also experience ‘the high’:

THE HIGH – as a mid-life crisis runner (jogger), the obvious analogy to this emotion is completing a physical challenge. I will never forget how I felt when I crossed the finish line at the end of my first marathon. The raw emotion that accompanied my huge sense of achievement will live with me for a very long time. I have many memories of significant milestones in my Customer Experience career that feel just the same. Seeing the lights in people’s eyes alight as they are hit with the ‘light bulb moment’ is a joy to behold. Last year I delivered a workshop with a fellow CXP – we had to give each other a man hug at the end of the workshop as an expression of our enormous sense of achievement in helping a group of people ‘see the light’.

The CXP I referred to in my description of ‘The Wall’ has since experienced a number of ‘high’ moments. In observing the adoption and delivery of CX behaviours that are required to deliver transformation, as well as receiving very positive feedback about the meeting with senior executives, this individual has bounced between both ends of the emotional spectrum. Experiencing a mix of ‘walls’ and ‘highs’ is completely ‘normal’.

THE USUAL – the third emotion is the one that we experience most often – although we are less conscious of it than the other two more extreme emotions. The overwhelming amount of effort exerted by CXPs is required to develop and maintain momentum for the tactical and/or strategic approach being taken in transforming the Customer Experience. This is the daily toil – communicating with teams; building and implementing measurement systems;  defining CX strategy – the list goes on. Most of the time this work allows the CXP to make progress in the right direction – that is ‘the usual’.

The reality to all of this is that there is a point where all three of these emotions meet. The reality is that ALL CXPs will experience ALL three of these emotions. The reality is that this is completely NORMAL! No approach to CX will work perfectly – no CXP will only ever experience ‘highs or walls’ – likewise it is unlikely that things will trundle along with ‘the usual’. Experiencing ‘the wall’ may not be pleasant but it is NORMAL. Transformation is tough – you sometimes need to experience resistance to propel your approach to CX further forward. Experiencing ‘the high’ is a wonderful feeling, but it will not last long – you can never rest on the laurels of this emotion.

Transforming the Customer Experience is not easy. Being conscious of the emotions that you will feel is a good thing – you will often feel as though you are taking two steps forward and five steps back. Sometimes you will feel as though you are taking 5 steps forward and 2 steps back – this is NORMAL. The most important thing as a CX professional is to listen and learn with every emotional experience you have. CXPs, like the organisations they serve can never stand still – it is our ability to continually adapt and evolve that will help the organisations we serve to do the same for their customers.

 

Opinion or Reality? Does Customer Experience really make a difference?


CX opinion or reality

I am unlikely to be the first person to write an article focusing on whether or not the Customer Experience really makes a difference. I am also unlikely to be the last. On a weekly basis, Customer Experience Professionals all over the world are being challenged to demonstrate the ‘tangible’ value focusing on the Customer Experience really delivers. Often tasked by individuals in businesses who demand to see an immediate financial return for any investment made, it is extremely easy to dismiss the need for being a more Customer Centric organisation as just the ‘opinion’ of one person versus another.

In other words, some do not believe a greater focus on ‘the customer’ will actually make any difference to the financial performance of a company whilst some do. It is the prerogative of any human to have an opinion – it is also completely acceptable for one human to disagree with another humans point of view. I have recently been engaged with a debate that highlights just such a scenario. It was suggested that I spend too much time quoting theory and opinion when it comes to the subject of Customer Experience and not enough time sharing reality. It is therefore with this in mind that I have chosen to write this post.

The debate I refer to came about as one opinion (mine) suggested that negative Customer Experiences have a detrimental effect on an organisations sustainability – in the short, medium and long term. Whilst an organisation may not cease to exist as a result of delivering consistently poor (or just inconsistent) experiences, it is extremely unlikely that a business operating in such a way will be able to predict growth – certainly not sustainable growth.

The opinion on the other side of the debate suggested that this is largely nonsense – the ‘speak of Customer Experience folk’. The debater argues that if the opinions of the Customer Experience community were true, then businesses would be ‘bleeding revenues’ and ‘the management would be kicked out’. The very well read and respected professional on this side of the debate continued as follows:

Almost every business is doing well enough by doing well enough for most customers most of the time. And this works well enough for customers at the level of behaviour – irrespective of what they say. Complaining is a favourite human past time in modern society. It is like going to the movies. Then the movie is over, and folks go back to life as usual.

So this valid opinion made me seriously question the very profession I work so passionately to represent. Does Customer Experience really make a difference? Is the reality that whilst it is ‘nice’ to talk about the principles of being more Customer Centric, the reality is that a business more focused on the customer will fare no differently to one that does not?

Those of you that ‘believe’ that focusing on the Customer Experience absolutely does make a difference will be pleased to know that  agree with you! My ‘opinion’ has not changed as a result of the challenge from an alternative perspective. Allow me to explain why. The debater set me a very valid challenge as follows:

Now please explain to me how it is that the almost every single business is doing just fine: customers continue to shop, companies continue to make sufficient revenues, and profits. The only ‘thing’ that gets cut is the employees – including those who directly serve customers – and replaced by one form or another of self-service. Let’s deal with this through numbers. Name the companies that have gone bust? Name me companies other than Ryanair and Tesco that are struggling because they have leaked customers like a sieve?

This was my response:

Please allow me to remind you of the following company names:

Woolworths; Comet; Land of Leather; Borders; JJB Sports; Zavvi; HMV; MFI; Jessops; Focus DIY; Habitat; Threshers; Dreams; Clinton Cards; Peacocks; Past Times; Barratts; Phones4U; TJ Hughes; Ethel Austin; Oddbins; Adams (childrenswear); Allied Carpets; I could go on…… and bear in mind that I am only quoting names of UK companies who have either entered administration or ceased to exist altogether in the last seven years.

Yes these failures occurred during a financial crisis. However, the crisis only served to push companies over the edge – companies who were already teetering at the top of a cliff. In almost all cases, these brands had lost touch with the evolving needs of their customers and the world around them. Failing to adapt their propositions resulted in customers voting with their feet – the predominant reason why a business ultimately will cease to exist.

Companies struggle to survive on a regular basis – again this is largely down to the fact that their product, service or experience is no longer aligned to the needs of their customers. Look at Nokia, Kodak, Radio Shack – this is not just a UK phenomena.

In fact I would like to remind you of the most clear cut example of all – JC Penney. In 2011, as the new CEO of one of the largest department stores in the US, Ron Johnson (once of Apple) made a number of strategic decisions without the benefit of either employee or customer insight. Johnson decided to change the established logo, change the pricing policy (including the halting of sales and the elimination of coupons). He also changed the layout of the stores. A very traditional business with an extremely loyal customer base, the decisions were catastrophic. This is an excerpt from his profile on Wikipedia:

Many initiatives that made the Apple Store successful, for instance the “thought that people would show up in stores because they were fun places to hang out, and that they would buy things listed at full-but-fair price” did not work for the J.C. Penney brand and ended up alienating its aging customers who were used to heavy discounting. By eliminating the thrill of pursuing markdowns, the “fair and square every day” pricing strategy disenfranchised JC Penney’s traditional customer base.Johnson himself was said “to have a disdain for JC Penney’s traditional customer base. When shoppers weren’t reacting positively to the disappearance of coupons and sales, Johnson didn’t blame the new policies. Instead, he offered the assessment that customers needed to be “educated” as to how the new pricing strategy worked. He also likened the coupons beloved by so many core shoppers as drugs that customers needed to be weaned off.”

By the time he was fired in 2013, JC Penney had lost over $4 billion during Johnson’s tenure. Having fired him, they launched a nationwide TV advertising campaign apologising to customers and ‘begging’ them to come back.

JC Penney apology

This is the reality of what could happen if you do not listen to your customers or employees. Just because a company still exists, it does not mean it successful at delivering consistently good customer experiences. The challenge is for business to achieve sustainable growth – all good things come to an end eventually if you do not remain focused on both commercial goals AND customer needs. You can read more about the JC Penney story in this Forbes article.

The reality is that nothing lasts forever. Organisations thrive, whilst others struggle. Businesses cease to exist on a daily basis. The larger the organisation, the more unlikely it is to fail altogether – but it is not impossible. As we have seen with the likes of Tesco and Marks and Spencer in recent times – failure to continually adapt your proposition to align to the changing needs of your customers will likely result in financial struggle.

The reality is that even already financially prosperous companies have realised how important the Customer Experience is to their future sustainability. I have had a number of conversations with board members of very large UK companies since January – these are companies whose financial fortunes have IMPROVED consistently since 2008. However these companies have openly acknowledged that unless they put the Customer Experience at the top of their priorities NOW, the future will not be as rosy.

This is not opinion. This is fact. This is reality. Does Customer Experience really make a difference? I will leave it for you to form your own opinion.

Leveraging the soft and fluffy: how important are soft skills in delivering Customer Experiences?


Fluffy Dog

Yesterday I had the enormous pleasure of co-chairing the first ever Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Members Insight Exchange to be held outside of the US. The gathering of Customer Experience Professionals (CXPs) from across Europe was as inspiring an occasion as I hoped it would be. I have always said that when you put a group of CXPs in a room it acts as a mass counselling session – the Member 2 Member principle that underpins the CXPAs approach enabled everyone present to learn from each other in a wonderful collaborative environment.

What struck me throughout the day was the clearly evident ability of almost everyone present to communicate and integrate together in friendly, engaging and warm conversation. It is not often you put practitioners and vendors in a room together, many of whom are technically competitors of each other, only for them all to act as extended members of family!! The CXPA is all about learning from each other (as I have already said), but it is one thing stating the ambition and a completely different thing seeing it actually work in practice.

It was therefore fascinating for me to reflect on the day by connecting some of the thoughts from the very first speaker with everything else that followed. We were honoured yesterday to be addressed by a business that has incredibly successfully re-invented itself in the UK over the last few years. Unlike it’s US parent, McDonald’s UK has managed to maintain a very firm place in the heart of millions of UK consumers. Jack Upton, UK Director for Training, Education & Customer Services shared his thoughts on what lies behind their success – ‘blending the employee and customer experience’.

Jack Upton addressing the CXPA UK Members Insight Exchange
Jack Upton addressing the CXPA UK Members Insight Exchange

Jack shared many valuable insights – from their use of the ‘people-profit chain’, to the increase in importance of ’emotional engagement’ between employees and customers, to the principle of ‘fusion’ – the better the delivery of customer experience at McDonald’s, the greater the value for the employee. Yet it is when Jack started to talk about ‘soft skills’ that my ears pricked up. Yes…..soft skills.

I, like many CXPs am often accused of talking only about the ‘soft and fluffy’. In fact I have used the image of the lovely cute dog at the head of this post in many presentations I have made to senior leaders over the last few years. Whilst I take the ‘soft and fluffy’ accusation in my stride, it is important to consider whether there is actually anything wrong with talking about the soft and fluffy!! Jack’s insight into the importance of soft skills to the McDonald’s business helps to explain why.

Before I expand on Jack’s thoughts, let me clarify what is meant by the term ‘soft skills’. I shall do this by quoting the modern ‘font of all knowledge’ – Wikipedia:

Soft skills is a term often associated with a person’s “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people.

McDonald’s is one of the biggest employers of young people in the UK. The development of soft skills in these young people is core to their approach. In fact the development of people is one of the cornerstones of the success of McDonald’s this side of the Atlantic. I have seen this in evidence with my very own eyes – McDonald’s training facilities are quite simply fantastic.

Research led by McDonald’s and backed by other organisations including the CBI, Barclays and learndirect, as well as entrepreneur James Caan has identified that Soft skills such as communication, teamwork and time management contribute £88 billion to the UK economy! You can read more about the research in an article published in HR Magazine in January 2015 – in it Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills said:

“Business is clear that developing the right attitudes and attributes in people – such as resilience, respect, enthusiasm and creativity – is just as important as academic or technical skills.”

I could not agree more. In fact some of the best examples of genuinely Customer Centric organisations are those who solely recruit based on the ‘soft skills’ elements of Neil’s statement. Zappos, the online retailer now owned by Amazon, is perhaps the most famous example of all. Jack confirmed that this approach is just as important to McDonald’s. Soft skills alone do not guarantee the consistent delivery of great experiences, but if you are able to leverage the power of these skills, the behaviour of your people will go a huge way to developing unbreakable emotional bonds between employees and customers.

With this fresh in my mind, it was therefore no wonder that a room full of CXPs was able to engage with each other so successfully. CXPs do not just possess a collective obsession and passion for all things customer experience. They are also living, breathing examples of people with highly developed ’emotional intelligence’. CXPs understand the importance of a strong work ethic; having an unbreakable positive attitude; great communication skills; good time management; the ability to solve problems; working as a team; accepting and learning from criticism; flexibility; adaptability; working well under pressure; and doing the right thing. These are the attributes of brilliant CXPs – these attributes are known as ‘soft skills’

Maybe the soft and fluffy is not such a bad thing after all. I have met many leaders in my time who do not understand the importance of ‘soft and fluffy’. These leaders do not possess an abundance of emotional intelligence. One of these so-called leaders once called me ’emotionally immature’ – I will never forget it – although it is one of the many things I have learned from in my career.

I believe that the more you can leverage the soft skills within your organisation, the more your organisation will want to engage emotionally with your customers. Emotional engagement and empathy generate advocacy. Advocacy leads to loyalty. Loyalty leads to sustainable growth. Makes perfect sense to me……what about you?


If you have two minutes, please take the time to complete my 2 question survey to find out your personal #1 brand for delivering consistently good customer experiences. I also want to know what makes the brand your #1! The research will be used for an upcoming blog post – many thanks for your time!

You can complete the survey by clicking here

 

Guest Post: The Importance of Personal Growth for Customer Service Professionals


Deanna Ayres

This week I am focusing my blog on the importance of developing ‘authority’ as a Customer Experience Professional in celebration of the upcoming CXPA Members Insight Exchange on the 10th February in London. If you have not read all about how to earn authority as a Customer Experience Professional here.

I am delighted to follow my post up with a guest article that also speaks of the importance of ‘personal growth’ – this time from the perspective of the Customer Service Professional. Written by Deanna Ayres, I am sure you will find a lot of value in her wisdom…


Customer service professionals are one of the major points of contact between the consumers and the company. Considering that they are a representation of the brand, customer service workers must be well trained and knowledgeable in a wide variety of topics, both general and pertaining to the company itself.

When people leave school, most people consider it the end of the studying, exams and assessments. For customer service professionals, however, it is important to continue their learning process to meet the continuously evolving needs of the customers.

Whether we choose to accept it or not, employees are constantly being judged on their skills and benchmarked against their colleagues. And, unlike studying for a final exam in college, new technology, customer demand and legislation make for an ever-changing environment.

According to a 2012 survey by an adult learning organization, there is a strong correlation between continued learning and sustained employment, especially when it comes to those fields with direct customer contact. Staff that participate in learning programs are more capable of adapting to changing requirements of organizations, putting them in a better position for promotion in their current company or with a competitive edge in the job market. They are also more likely to be viewed by their superiors as highly motivated and engaged in the business, two positive attributes to have for any employee.

Some organizations are good at providing learning opportunities for subjects that directly translate to improved performance on the job. In customer service environments, as well as many other work environments, keeping your employees happy is a way to boost the bottom line. To keep employees happy, companies often invest in creating a culture of learning by organizing continuous learning programs for employees to better themselves and their performance. There is plenty of evidence that these types of work-based learning programs are dollars well invested by the company. They cultivate engagement, flexibility in work schedules and an increased sense of appreciation and connection with the company.

To promote personal growth, companies can bring in guest speakers; encourage employees to start office-based clubs built on their interests, and implement computer rooms in the office where employees can participate in online training programs. Each of these three possibilities can be tweaked according to the type of business you operate in to meet the needs of your employees specifically. To help the company help its employees, it is worth it to invest in a call center management software as well just to ensure that the entire process stays on track and remains beneficial for everyone.

What the company offers in terms of training options, however, may not be in line with what you really want or need for your career. Depending on what area of your job you are looking to improve, there are a variety of ways to get started with your personal growth.

A great place to start is to look at past performance reviews or speak with managers, colleagues and the human resources department to seek advice from those whose skills and careers you are aiming to achieve. To improve these areas, you can identify workshops; approach someone in the business to be a mentor or sign up for an online study program. Another idea is to shadow someone who is very good at the skill you’re looking to improve. You can shadow them for one day, one week, or once a week for a longer period of time.

Instead of identifying areas of improvement based on comments of those working close by to you, you can benchmark your skills according to the job market. Check out advertisements of roles similar to yours to understand what it would take for you to get hired in the case that you were unemployed. Are your IT skills up to par? Negotiation skills could use a little improvement? Whatever the job market is looking for, you can adjust your learning program to accommodate those skills.

Sometimes the skills you need to work on aren’t so much about learning something completely new, but rather about refreshing and updating old skills. For customer service professionals, a brush up with handling difficult customers, communication skills or people management skills, for those looking to climb the ladder.

Outside of professional training, personal development outside of work can often lead to the gain of soft skills that can improve your performance in the workplace as well. Volunteer work, fundraising projects, joining local committees or participating in research activities are all ways to create personal growth without focusing on one, specific skill.

A good workplace makes employees feel like their company invests in and believes in them for the long term. Providing and promoting personal growth for customer service professionals leads to happier employees which creates bigger returns for the company and its investors. It’s a cycle with an endless amount of benefits, which just keeps going around.


Deanna Ayres is the SEM Strategist and Community Outreach Supervisor at The Marketing Zen Group & Kova Corp. She loves to come up with new content strategies for and with her team and believes that connecting on a personal level is vital to success. Growing up in Europe has allowed her a unique insight into cultural differences in business & marketing. In her spare time she is a photographer, hobby cook with a love for coffee, gamer and geek. Follow her @deanna_ayres

The secret diary of a Customer Experience Professional (aged 41 & 3/4)


0 cx day

This blog post is written to mark the second global Customer Experience Day on Tuesday 7th October 2014. Join thousands of CX Professionals all over the world in marking the significance of Customer Experience in our lives today! You can find out about physical and online events throughout the 7th October here.


What you are about to read are the exploits of one Customer Experience Professional as he went about his business during a working week. Whether it makes you laugh, cry or feel pity for me, I genuinely hope that my diary provides a useful insight into my work in helping organisations to become more customer centric.

Monday 29th September 2014

0 sept 29

As has become normal recently, I am up at 4:30am to embark on a long journey from the North West of England down to the South. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I load my car up with a suitcase, laptop bag and enough sticky notes and sweets to sink a battleship! This week will see me delivering two workshops for two different companies and I need plenty of supplies!

By the time I arrive at a McDonald’s close to my location, I start to feel ready for the week ahead. Sipping my Americano, I go about dealing with my first task of the day – of most days to be honest – dealing with my emails. Getting them out of the way before the working day really begins is essential. I need my mind fully focussed on the major task for this particular Monday morning – the delivery of a ‘current state customer journey mapping workshop’ for a relatively new client.

Having already spent time ‘immersing myself with said client, I and my colleagues at Custerian are not expecting the day to be an easy one. A challenge for any CX Professional is assessing the ‘readiness’ of a business to ‘transform’ – to become more customer centric. This particular business has fantastic people, yet their desire to accept change is less overt. The workshop proved to be as challenging as anticipated. Ultimately we achieved what was necessary – but it was not easy. Sometimes it can be so frustrating working with people who on the face of it appear to be resistant to change – even if on the inside they are not.

I believe that a good CX Professional will determine the ‘pace’ that an organisation can work at as they embark or continue on a CX transformation. We must be patient and sensitive in understanding the issues, behaviours and mind-sets of the people we work with. I must admit that I struggled with this today – something I openly admitted to the participants of the workshop. Although I said the right thing, I said it in an inappropriate way. It is so easy to do! I must apologise to the person I spoke to as soon as possible.

Back in my car driving further south – I am tired and reflective. It never ceases to amaze me just how different every business I interact with seems to be from another – this is why I love doing what I do. I learnt a lot today as I continue to do on a weekly basis.

Tuesday 30th September 2014

0 sept 30

I spend the night at my parents flat in North London. I am immensely grateful for their kind hospitality and generosity. In the early days as an independent CX Professional, keeping costs low for me and my clients is important. Today is an exciting one. I am visiting a potential new client. Business development is a vital component for any CX consultant (I hate that word, although that is what I technically am) and I must admit I do not particularly like doing it.

This is a business that has been introduced to me by a long term friend of mine. I am very confident that the company will want to work with me – especially with his endorsement. Arriving early (as I ALWAYS do), I find a lovely café in West London and catch up on my emails over a coffee and a pain au chocolat!

I have just come out of the meeting – it did not go quite as I expected. In fact it went far worse than I could have imagined! I learned a long time ago that not everyone is going to like me, my style or my view on the world! The meeting this morning saw me present to two people who did not appear to connect with anything I said or did. I keep going over everything in my head – did I say something to upset them?

Meetings like this are so frustrating – I put so much time, energy and passion into my work. Yet to come across people who do not appear to recognise it at all is very de-motivating. I am sure that the expectation set prior to the meeting was the major contributor to the problem. I must work harder on ensuring that everyone I meet going forward is crystal clear about expectation so as to avoid meetings like this.

Walking back to the tube station I feel so deflated – after the challenges of yesterday, it has been a tough week already…..and it is only Tuesday lunchtime!! I cheer myself up by going back to the café and writing my weekly blog post. A review of the 2014 Customer Experience Awards – reminiscing on the fabulous event goes some way to restoring my faith and mood!

Blog written, I telephone the person who I had a ‘disagreement’ with in the workshop yesterday. I apologise for what I perceived to be my insensitivity – he was very grateful for my humility. We both understand each others perspectives better after the call – a very useful call to have made.

I am back in the car on the way south. I do not have long to dwell on anything these days – Wednesday and Thursday I move on to another client and the delivery of a two day Customer Experience Workshop – happy days!

Wednesday 1st October 2014

0 oct 1

Up at 4:30 for my morning run – I love running, but do not have much time to fit it in…..unless I get up at silly o’clock!! It does make me feel good though. Today is the start of a new month and it could not be starting better. A few years ago I became a full time Six Sigma trainer for GE – I never realised how much I would enjoy training other people…….that is still the case today. I am excited about spending two days imparting knowledge to another of my clients – surely the week can only get better from here!

I arrive at the clients offices at 7:30 – the sun is shining – everything seems good. As the delegates start to arrive with smiles on their faces, I become even more optimistic about the day ahead. I was right to be. I am blown away by the energy, enthusiasm, passion and drive of the 18 people in the room. The mood could not have been more different to Monday.

Again, it is astounding how different my two clients this week have been. Totally different industries – completely different people. Both have very different challenges. The common denominator is that through their people they can both make a difference – they can transform for the good of customers and colleagues – I have no doubt they both will.

The day has come to an end – I feel radically different to yesterday – my faith in myself has been restored. I shall sleep well tonight.

Thursday 2nd October 2014

0 oct 2

I did not think I could improve on yesterday. I was wrong. The delegates arrived early for the workshop today – early!! I am inspired by their desire to want to know more. I so hope this company succeeds in its mission to become more customer centric – I will do everything in my power to help them do so.

There is not much more to write about today – it continued as it started. At the end of the day, the delegates presented their learning’s back to me – it sent a shiver down my spine (a good one that is). The last two days validate to me why my job is so important. To be able to help people influence their own organisations to change is a wonderful thing. The questions and requests that followed the workshop bowled me over.

The only slight sad thing about the two days was the absence of any senior leader. They had said that they were committed to attending, but ‘work emergencies’ ruled them out at the last minute. Sometimes I do not believe it when senior leaders ‘abandon’ their commitment to attend a CX workshop – in this case I do believe them. It is such a shame though – I wish they could have witnessed the passion of their people. Hopefully the feedback they deliver will do the trick.

I arrive back in Chester at 23:30 – a VERY long day – but so rewarding, I feel energised rather than exhausted. My happy head hits the pillow for a very good nights sleep.

Friday 3rd October 2014

0 oct 3

Where has the week gone? Another week? Seeing my beautiful wife and children is a real bonus – I can no longer take it for granted that I will see them more than one day a week these days! I drop them off at school before returning home to catch up on everything I have been unable to do for the last couple of days.

Emails and invoices take up most of my morning – it is a productive few hours. Feedback keeps coming in from the workshop on Monday and the two day training workshop. It is all good news. Despite Monday being a challenge, our client is very happy with progress. They know how hard change will be, yet they are delighted that we are making the right progress – they do not see my behaviour as insensitive – they see it as necessary.

The delegates from the two day training workshop keep emailing – some of them are telling me about the customer centric things they have done since the course ended – yesterday!!!! I wish I could share some of their immediate stories with you – but now is not the time. Safe to say that they are taking action on the things they have learned – the most successful outcome to the week I could ever have anticipated.

I have another call with a different client – not one I have worked with this week. Their challenges are different yet again. On Monday I am to present to their board of directors. We expect the presentation to be challenging – nothing new there! Some of my client’s colleagues do not think there is much to do on the CX front – we do not agree. I have just finished the presentation and am happy that I have a good story to tell to help influence them. I am hopeful that my start to next week will be a good one!

It is time to turn off the laptop for another week – the weekend is for my family – not for work. What a week it has been. The typical rollercoaster ride of a CX professional – the ups and downs are constant and continuous…..I would not have it any other way!


This blog post is part of the 2014 CX Day Customer Experience Blog Carnival hosted here:  http://community.cxpa.org/blogs/val-moschella/2014/10/07/cx-day-blog-carnival-cx-core-competencies