One of the things that makes being an independent consultant different from work ‘on the inside’ is that doing things like keeping up with LinkedIn and other ‘work-related’ social networks is actually part of the job. While it may seem a luxury to be able to find cool stuff here or find out about promotions and career moves of connections, LinkedIn and other such platforms are bread-and-butter. It’s where we connect, sometimes where we find leads, and always where we share our insights. If you’re not in this sort of business, LinkedIn may be something you rarely even think about or a site you hardly ever visit. I know that, in my last corporate incarnation, I had several colleagues who never used LinkedIn, some of whom didn’t even have profiles. I had one co-worker who insisted that she never used it because she didn’t want to give the impression to the boss that she was looking for work (she wasn’t, but still, her reasoning went, why give anybody a reason to think so?) If you’re not as active as those of us who live and breathe business networking but still want to find a good way to stay in touch, below is an article I wrote a few years ago while I was working full-time that I think still stands up. I’ve updated a couple of spots and of course, edited it for clarity. Enjoy. (more…)
I was recently speaking with a friend who’s a Chief Customer Officer. She was in good spirits but nonetheless was lamenting a bit about her colleagues: “It’s like I feel I have to defend my existence sometimes,” she said. Oh, boy, have I been there. My career has included time within PMOs, BPM/BPI organizations, and of course CX. Some organizations approach these sorts of disciplines as nice-to-haves, often because it’s fashionable to put effort (or appear to do so) into these sorts of things. At the end of a lean quarter, or if temporary business enthusiasm simply starts to ebb, you find yourself on the chopping block. No matter how poorly sales go, it’s never sales they come looking to get rid of. But our sorts of ‘ancillary’ organizations are often in the crosshairs.
Fortunately, my friend didn’t mean it that way. She didn’t feel her job was on the line or that her team could be cut because people didn’t see the value. That’s a relief. But more frustrating for her was that she found it difficult to gain traction and buy-in for her CX improvement efforts. She has the support of her boss, the CEO, who often speaks of the importance of CX and why having a Chief Customer Officer is so valuable. But whenever she attempted with her peers to institute a change or to improve something in what they did in order to improve their CX, she ran into continual pushback. (more…)
Where a CX function is located within a company is a frequent discussion topic among CXers. I’ve been thinking about this recently and, while obviously each company is unique and every situation different, it occurs to me that where a CX function resides isn’t nearly as important as is what it’s chartered to do.
But if I could get all Simon Sinek-y here, naturally the greater question still, is the Why. Let’s look at the charter of what your CX organization should be in the first place, then we can start to look at what difference it may make as to where it’s located. The why should drive the what, and therefore, the where will really just be a slight tweaking and refinement of range of influence. (more…)
I’m blessed to have been recruited to work in the field of Customer Experience. I came to the practice of CX via Process Engineering (Lean Six Sigma, or LSS). Using PE to better our CX is an incredibly fulfilling use of a legacy approach to improving what we do. Years ago, before I was involved in CX, I saw how, sadly, PE was often used to ‘find efficiencies’, which usually meant looking for redundancies and people to fire. Back in the day, I mortified my then-boss when I posted the following article to my professional network about why that’s a bad idea. Somehow it didn’t get me in trouble (too much). I recently re-read it, gave it some buffing, and present it to you here today. Plenty of organizations still use PE organically simply to reduce resource use and eliminate waste in their business processes; a noble endeavor as well. Regrettably, the trend still exists to cut people as a spoil of those improvements. For those who aren’t yet using PE for CX purposes, perhaps this can still resonate with you. Enjoy.
One of the things my colleagues and I emphasize when we educate our partners about Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement is that it shouldn’t be used to reduce headcount. Some managers and executives I train think that new-found capacity after a process improvement is made is a good opportunity to draw down. Here are two important reasons why that’s a very bad idea: (more…)
A few years back I was at lunch with a mentor and there was something we needed or wanted that we had to ask for. The waiter replied somewhat along the lines of: “Well, we’re not supposed to do that, but I’ll go ahead and do that for you.”
We thanked him, but after he walked away, my mentor turned to me and surprisingly said, “what poor form for him to say that.” When I asked what he meant—after all, I was glad he’d singled us out for special attention—he explained, “so what, now we’re in his debt? Like he’s done us a favor?” (more…)
One of my favorite Process Engineering tools is the Five Whys. The basic principle is to consider a problem or imperfection, ask why it’s the way it is, and then ask why that explanation is so. We keep digging (as the title suggests, five times, but your mileage may vary) until we’ve uncovered the true root cause of an issue. The idea here is to work toward better understanding what’s behind a problem rather than simply fixing the facial, obvious symptoms. This aids in efficiency as we’re less prone to waste our time simply swatting at proverbial flies but rather identifying an underlying failure, fixing it, and thereby avoiding further deficiencies.
Now, as with any tool, it can be overused or misapplied. Some folks will barge into a problem-solving situation, claim to ask “Why?” five times, and call themselves heroes for having broken through the “it’s how we’ve always done it” mentality. Nice try, but the Five Whys is more than just seeming to be an iconoclast or dynamic thinker. If you’re only asking “Why” rhetorically or just to be snarky or look like the smartest person in the room, it’s likely you’ll miss the whole point. The purpose of asking “Why” is actually two-fold: to search earnestly for the root cause, but also to better understand the systems that are currently in place and, well, why they’re there (the jobs they were intended to accomplish). (more…)
Executive escalations can be a real life-saver for an organization. Whether it’s a high-profile Customer or just someone whose experience has gone completely off the rails, sometimes escalating dramatically can truly save the day for CX. I recently had an experience that was saved by an executive escalation. I happen to know a Senior Director at a service provider that had recently disrupted its service, potentially causing a serious problem for me. He’s in CX too, and as a benefit of swimming in these waters, I was able to reach out to him directly and ask for help. As you’d guess, my issue was handled with great effectiveness and speed.
But that experience got me to wondering: what if I hadn’t ‘known people’? When I worked for a corporation in the Customer Support organization, we had an executive escalations team that was top-notch, filled with professional problem-solvers who had all the tools at their disposal with which to address any issue our Customers may have. They were a well-oiled team, run by one of the best senior managers I’ve seen. But as with any other organization, there are a few inherent risks with executive escalations and how we handle them. (more…)
“You’re soaking in it.” Do you remember that commercial for dishwashing soap that was supposed to be so incredibly good for your skin that the lady who’d gone in (to see Madge, remember?) for a manicure was unknowingly enjoying its benefits, thinking she was dipping her fingers into some wonderful skin tonic? Or have you heard the concept of fish not realizing they’re wet because they’re surrounded by water? (more…)
Can I start a controversial article being completely uncontroversial? Thanks. Here goes: Good employee engagement is an absolute requirement in order to drive good CX. Okay… now, feel free to refer to that as you read on, because I’m not trying to say that engagement isn’t fundamental; in fact, it’s a bedrock necessity if you’re going to provide a good Customer experience that you first ensure you are providing a good employee experience.
With that throat-clearing out of the way, I was shocked (shocked!) when a nontrivial number of contributors (all CX pros) to a forum in which I recently participated seemed confused about the difference between Customers and employees. (more…)