I’m excited to be back with new episodes of the Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show. In today’s episode, I have an engaging and enlightening conversation with Craig Langlois, the Chief Experience Officer at the Berkshire Museum in beautiful Berkshire, Massachusetts. This is a great conversation to listen to, whether you’re in the museum/cultural institution world or business (both B2B and B2C).
When Craig became the Chief Experience Officer, the institution was going through a master planning process. Leadership was thinking about the museum’s role as a community organization and a repository for historical objects in history. It was important for Craig and his C-Suite team to determine how these facets of the museum intersect and how they can better serve the community. There was a need to be experience-focused rather than product-focused.
Craig and I explore how they developed strategies to improve the customer experience and flow of the museum, how they handle hiring and employee experience, and the incredible community work they’ve done to prepare parents and young children for Kindergarten. There’s a lot of great information that we discussed which didn’t make it to the show notes, so please give this a listen!
Think About the Long-Term Vision
Craig shares that the experience of the museum, exhibitions, collections, and education was not matching what the community needed. He and his C-Suite team decided to focus on a big strategic vision around what the museum was going to be like for the next hundred years. They started to redesign the flow of the museum and think through how they trained their staff, including the security guards, to create a friendly and welcoming experience. This also included taking a look at their digital footprint, ensuring that what was happening in the museum mirrored their website and social media.
In Craig’s role as the CCO, it’s his job to listen within the community and to other staff members, to understand the subtext of conversations and determine how it relates to a visitor’s experience at the museum. He had to shift his mindset in a way that positioned the visitor’s experience being the main element of the museum rather than the objects as the center of it all.
As a museum #CCO, it’s important to listen within the community and to other staff members, to understand the subtext of conversations and determine how it relates to a visitor’s experience. Click To Tweet
3 Steps to Solidify Your Foundations
When Craig assessed the work that needed to be done when he first stepped into his role, he took care of 3 major aspects of customer experience. Take note, these actions can be implemented by leaders across various industries, not just cultural institutions.
Take Care of the BasicsWhen it comes to your institution, ensure your buildings are clean, your front desk is welcoming, and your bathrooms aren’t dirty. No matter how cool the museum experience is, these are aspects that add up to the bigger picture and will be things that visitors remember.
Craig mentions that it’s important that everyone understands the very wide definition of the word accessibility. He and his team think through creating materials for the visually impaired and making sure they accommodate physically for accessibility.
Tell a story with what you offer
How are museum objects used and what stories are told with the objects? Craig and his team spent time researching how they wanted to tell the story of the museum’s objects in a way that would be relevant to visitors. Realizing that a lot of children, grandparents, and young adults come to the museum, they wanted to create an experience that would allow these diverse groups to have conversations around art history and natural science. Craig and his team found a way to bring visitors together on a journey of the collection of these objects very experientially versus walking around a museum in a detached manner.
Strengthen your internal team
Craig shares that given the nature of the work, they were already hiring people who looked at the world differently. Working in a museum requires a kind of passionate mindset. After the first round of interviews during the process, Craig and his team ask the interviewees to put together a Pechakucha presentation in which they talk about something that they’re passionate about for six minutes and 40 seconds. Through this presentation, Craig is able to get a sense of the potential candidate’s presentation skills and a sense of how creative and passionate they are about things that may be within or outside the museum world. He also believes it’s a great way to get a sense for an individual’s skillset.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“I think the big one for me is understanding what it means to be in a leadership role. I think when you start out in an organization, people see the individuals who are working at the C-suite level as you know, entities above everyone else. And that’s not really the case.
It’s that the strategic work takes a lot of thought and a lot of behind the scenes work before other individuals may see any sort of institutional change or thinking. But, and I think a lot of people misunderstand what it means to be a leader and that a lot of times being a leader means owning responsibility for success and owning responsibility for failures and being able to live within that world and adapt and adjust quickly if something fails, you know — and how to make it better.”
About Craig LangloisCraig Langlois has devoted his professional life to developing innovative educational experiences in the arts as a teacher and a curator. Now Co-Acting Director, with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) from Long Island University, as the museum’s Chief Experience Officer and during nearly a decade of service to the museum in other roles, Craig has created and implemented innovative programming at the Berkshire Museum.
Craig is active as a community leader as well, working with local nonprofit organizations and schools to strengthen education and expand learning in the region.