“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” is a great quote from Maya Angelou, that Claudiu Coltea, EVP and Head of Customer Experience for Citizens Financial Group, shared while answering the pay-it-forward question, that I ask in every podcast interview, “what do you know now that you wish you knew then?” Claudiu mentioned that he lives by this quote, and I think it’s a phrase that truly embodies what customer experience is about. Our work as CX practitioners is to put the customer first and think about how we can positively affect their interactions with our brand and organization.
In addition to this quote, Claudiu and other guests on my show have all shared valuable lessons they’ve learned while serving as a CCO or related C-Suite executive managing customer growth. Today, we’re revisiting some of the answers to the pay-it-forward question, which will be helpful to both current and aspiring CCOs. I encourage you to keep a running list of the advice that resonates with you (take a look at last week’s post for even more words of wisdom). As the going gets rough and you’re in the trenches with CX transformation, this list will be a friendly reminder with advice to help keep your head in the game.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
Check Your Ego at the Door
Transforming CX in Financial Services, with Claudiu Coltea
In this episode, Claudiu, who has over 15 years of customer-centric leadership from multiple industries, including financial services, healthcare, and consulting, shares his strategy for transforming customer experience within an organization.
- I wish I would’ve known from the beginning that you shouldn’t worry about having the spotlight on you in this role. By putting the spotlight on others, you will get so much work done. Don’t go into it thinking, how will people know how much work I’m doing? You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by making everyone else look good. Putting the spotlight on others truly changes everything. Check your ego at the door.
- People will come around to the work, have patience. The clients you want, often do come around and become partners if the fit makes sense. But the process is going to often be very long.
- Think about your own CX: How do other people experience you? We’ve got to deliver an experience to others. Be the change you wish to see in the world and begin that change with yourself. That’s often how it plays out the best.
Engage Middle Management Early in the CX Transformation
How Fidelity Embedded Customer Experience Across the Business with Parrish Arturi
Parrish Arturi is the SVP of Retail Service and Experience Delivery at Fidelity Investments. As a seasoned executive, Parrish is adept at creating customer-driven growth for organizations. In this episode, Parrish and I discuss how CCOs can ‘own’ their silo, while embedding the overall idea of customer experience across the business.
- I didn’t understand how important engaging middle management was. When you come in and the company declares CX as a core differentiator for the company’s success, you would think that everyone would get in line. But middle management might be a bit more skeptical about corporate initiatives. It might seem like “another one” of those projects that will be forgotten. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage middle management early on.
- You have to understand the different audiences and how to communicate why this work is relevant, and what’s in it for them.
- It has been an honor to lead this type of work. It’s not always easy and there are days when you wonder why every one can’t get in alignment quickly, but at the end of the day it’s so rewarding.
Create Spaces That Allow People to do Things Differently
Human-Centered Design at Northern Trust, with Scott Dille
In this episode, Scott Dille, SVP of Customer and Partner Experience at Northern Trust, shares his broad Customer Executive Leadership role, and his path for leading an experience transformation by focusing on human-centered design.
- I wish I knew about the importance of creating value with the partner and client experience team. These teams must be careful that they don’t become just the delivery mechanism for data, or a communication channel; they have to create value. That can be in the voice of the customer, discerning insights, and making sure they’re delivered in a timely and actionable way to stakeholders. The teams involved must enable the company to embed new skills and help it to achieve greater value. For example the human-centered design lab enables the development of differentiated experiences that move the needle.
- There’s power in having space. We’ve been surprised at how effective the space we design is in communicating both how we’re connected in our organization, but also suggests at the same time, that something different is happening. For example, think about creating a customer room, that definitely shows that you’re approaching something in a different way.
- Give people permission to think differently, which leads to new concepts.
CX Work is Truly Fulfilling
From Chief Information Officer to Chief Customer Officer with Brian Lillie
As Chief Customer Officer and EVP of Technology Services at Equinix, the world’s largest IBX data center and colocation provider, Brian directly leads the Global Customer Success Organization and spoke to me about how he transitioned into his CCO role from Chief Information Officer.
- I didn’t know how hard it would be to be human duct tape; it’s difficult. I don’t know if I’d done anything differently, but it would’ve just been nice to know.
- It’s very fulfilling to work with so many customers and departments. You are truly the champion of making the customer’s life better. It’s really fulfilling, and it’s exciting to see others get excited about it. When you ask for opinions regarding how you can make things better, and what are the stupid rules we should kill, you’ll find that it’s a fulfilling equation on both sides. You get a lot out of working with the customers and the internal folks.
Celebrate the Small Wins
Building the CX Platform at Cisco, with Rachael McBrearty
Rachael is the Chief Creative of Customer Insights and Experience at Cisco and is responsible for identifying new ways to deliver value to customers while accelerating growth. With a love for analyzing customer data and turning insights into better experiences for customers, Rachael shares how she is building capabilities inside the organization to value customers, show impact, and focus on their priorities.
- How do you make sure you and your team are ready to help drive a big mindset and change that doesn’t happen over night? I didn’t anticipate the amount of energy it takes to do this work. I have learned you really need to pay attention to your own core values, the things that fill you up. For me, I like to drive change and innovation, and sometimes I’m unable to do that. When this happens, I shift to family, friends, and staying healthy, so I make sure I let some of those values lead. You have to keep that balance because you’re not always going to have success.
- Work won’t always be successful, and it won’t always be the types of tasks you want to work on. So move your various eggs around different baskets. Be intentional in thinking that way.
- You need to set milestones and measures of success along the way. Constantly remember with your team what you’re capable of, what the vision is and how you can achieve that. Market hope back to the organization and celebrate the small wins: This is crucial to avoid your team thinking it’s all heads down, deliverables-driven work.
Your Career Arc is a Journey
Google’s Customer Experience Leadership, with Catherine Courage
As VP of Ads and Commerce User Experience at Google, Catherine delivers world-class products and services that drive customer adoption, loyalty and business results. She advocates a design-thinking approach, which focuses on customer empathy, experimentation, design, and innovation. Catherine and I chat about creating a CX role and how to define success.
- You need to understand your journey, where you’re at, and how the transitions are going to be challenging. Your career arc is a journey, and understanding it and the various roles you serve is crucial. It will also give you a deeper appreciation for company culture, which, until you think about things this way, can often seem like a fluffy term.
- Be a culture sleuth. The culture aspect has been so interesting to me. You have to really understand it in order to drive change and unite the C-Suite. Thankfully, people have been gracious and willing to share their stories to help others.
- Ask for help: It’s OK and doesn’t make you weaker. Paradoxically to some, it makes you stronger.
Demonstrate Value and Sell Your Work to Internal Stakeholders
Developing a New CCO Organization for Dell – During Their Merger with EMC, with Karen Quintos
Karen Quintos is the EVP and CCO of Dell Technologies. In this conversation, Karen talks about navigating a merger between Dell and EMC, and how as CCO, she defines and develops Dell’s customer experience strategy and programs to maximize customer satisfaction, acquisition, retention and profitability.
- An unbelievable value can be unleashed if you bring together all of the rich value that you have across the organization in a 360 view. Unite the data gathered from all silos who have customer data.
- Don’t underestimate the amount of focus you need to dedicate to changing mindsets about the work internally. When you bring together two different cultures, there’s a lot of change management, and you have to ask yourself, how do I enable this? How do I become the catalyst?
- You need to demonstrate value and you have to sell your work internally to other stakeholders. Communicate the needs for specific things that will help you in your job.
To all of my CX leaders and practitioners out there, I’d love to hear from you. What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started your work in customer or user experience?
Note from Jeanne: I want to let you know that we’ve welcomed a sponsor for our show, Customerville. Until now, I have been paying for all of the expenses of the show myself. I love doing these for you – but they cost quite a bundle. This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!