How Two CX Leaders United Their Organizations Under Shared Value Systems to Transform Customer Experience

In my recent Daily Dose video, I talk about the importance of letting your purpose unite your company and share two case studies regarding companies that embody their values. In this podcast, I’m expounding on this concept and revisiting conversations from two CX leaders who have united their organizations to conduct a CX transformation led by a specific purpose and mission that enhances the overall experience. 

You’ll hear an excerpt from Vishal Bhalla, VP and CXO of Parkland Hospital, whose 2-year journey with hospital visits inspired him to serve and become a leader in healthcare. You’ll also hear from Lee West, Pastor of Guest Experiences at Gateway Church, who shares how his personal experience witnessing new church member isolation inspired him to map a welcoming strategy to make these new members feel more included and engaged with the community.

Empathize with Your Clientele and Make Them Feel Welcomed

As a business leader, Lee West was moved by a story that he read about the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The Queen was unbelieving and skeptical of King Solomon’s kingdom in Jerusalem when she first visited. She heard so much about him and had to see for herself if he really was as wise and prosperous as they claimed. Lee internalized this story and the Queen’s approach and thought about how this type of attitude can be seen in the professional realm. He thought about the skeptical experience that some first-time visitors have when they attend Gateway church.

After conducting research, Lee found that within the first 7 to 10 minutes of someone’s visit to a church, they’re deciding whether or not to come back. Given this, it was important to him that first-time visitors felt truly welcomed at Gateway. He noticed the initial journey was something like: come in, get a handshake at the door, then sit alone in the sanctuary with no one to talk to. These visitors didn’t know where to find bathrooms, or that coffee in the cafe was free — the little things that add up to the overall experience.

Empathizing with the new attendees, Lee believed that he could help make a difference in this experience. He had to inspire what he wanted to be delivered. It was important to him to reduce the anxiety level of new members so they could be more receptive to receiving the messages of the church.

Inspire what you want to be delivered. - Lee West, Pastor of Guest Experiences @GatewayPeople Share on X

Inspire What You Want to be Delivered

How Two CX Leaders United Their Organization Under a Shared Value System to Transform Customer ExperienceLee and his team came together to look at every touch point that a prospective member experiences, and map out how it could be redesigned in a way so they don’t feel intimidated or isolated. They dissected three areas in the church that could be redesigned to foster this new vision:

Zone one: the parking lot is the first attendee experience. Think of the feeling you get when you pull into a Disney parking lot, you see banners, palm trees, you’re excited, and can’t wait to get into the park. Lee wanted attendees to anticipate the church experience before entering the building, so they created a space for food trucks in the parking lot with subsidized costs for members. Lee also proposed that they also institute trolleys to pick people up in the parking lot and bring them into the church, which would be great for the elderly.

Zone two: this is the common and lobby areas. Instead of feeling confused and overwhelmed about the new space, Lee wants people to enter a welcoming and friendly environment. His team created check-in systems, clear signage indicating where things are located, and floating greeters who wear visible tags to help greet and guide visitors who are unsure of where to go. Extending beyond the front door handshake, these greeters are trained to look for those who may look confused and engage them.

Zone three: the sanctuary. This is where the service happens, where everything is pulled together to create a feeling of inclusivity – rather than a feeling of “cliquish-ness.” Lee himself has been a part of churches that felt a little cliquey, because members had their own circle of friends and stuck to them. To mitigate feelings of isolation, Lee created a “host team” of church volunteers (rather than call them ushers) to be in charge of assigned sections in the church. The host teams greet attendees in the pews, engage them, offer mints, and create a friendly environment.

Lee also credits a great internal value system that helped them usher in this new system. He mentions that each of their areas of ministry had a heart for guest experience and wanted to implement a change. His team was united in a vision and all had a desire to work together, which is one of the first steps in CX transformation — uniting leadership.

The Employee Experience Directly Impacts Customer Experience

Vishal is an experienced C-Suite leader who worked in hospitality for about 20 years until his personal experience at a hospital changed his outlook on his career trajectory. He realized that his calling was to serve in healthcare. The desire to align his purpose with action placed him in an entirely new industry, working in a hospital that also aligned with his values. Parkland is a county hospital, fundamentally, they do not turn patients away; their mission is extremely focused on serving the community.

Before becoming Parkland’s chief experience officer, Vishal was the director of talent acquisition and helped streamline the process for recruitment. He saw firsthand how the employee experience directly impacts customers and the culture of the organization, so he worked on embedding the employee experience into the overall hospital experience. Fostering a strong employee experience and culture has a positive effect on the customer.

How did Vishal implement some of these changes?

  • Interview team members. He spoke with employees, volunteers, contractors, and some patients to understand what has and hasn’t worked in the past. It was important to understand where the hospital currently was so he could determine the baseline.
  • Look at the current state of affairs. Vishal looked at how employee engagement surveys were previously conducted, what the results said, and how the organization went about implementing changes to address inefficiencies. He realized that a lot of action items were unaccounted for and fell off of people’s radars and wanted to change this process.
  • Create a new way of doing things but don’t overcomplicate. In order to create action items that people and teams could be held accountable for, Vishal and his team designed a new employee engagement survey that looked at what variables of the experience are independent and which ones are dependent —focusing on the independent variables, which would allow them to execute real action items.
    • For example: after identifying 10 questions that were important across the whole organization, an independent variable they all agreed on was an objective to get everyone to agree upon “My team works well together.”
      • Next, they got everyone together as a team to agree they were all going to work on “my team works well together,” with three action items. Each team decided on the three things they can do to get the teams to work well together. For some, it’s a picnic once a month, recognition of birthdays, or a pizza party.
      • Vishal created a poster with the phrase, “my team works well together,” for all of the teams to hang in their department. It’s a reminder of their main goal, with all three of their specific action items listed on it.
      • Following that, to hold someone accountable for this executing this objective, the team supervisor’s goal was to determine “what do I need to do to support my team?”
  • Continue to follow up on new procedures. Vishal and his team created a second survey that they distributed three months later. This survey asked questions to determine what type of movement has been enacted on the plan.

Additionally, to continue improving the experience, Vishal was building a reward and recognition program based on Parkland’s values. When I interviewed Vishal, they were designing this program whereby anyone could nominate someone in 30 seconds or less to recognize the work they’ve done and what they specifically did to emulate the value. Vishal reminds us that living your company’s values is more than just etching it on a wall or memo, it has to be proven through actions and should be celebrated.

Living your company’s values is more than just etching it on a wall or memo, it has to be proven through actions and should be celebrated. - Vishal Bhalla, CXO, @Parkland #CX Share on X

The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Customerville. Customerville transforms customer experience surveys into rich, interactive experiences using its unique Design-driven Feedback™ platform.

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!


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