In this episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Parrish Arturi. Parrish is the SVP of Retail Service and Experience Delivery at Fidelity Investments. He’s no stranger to making the rounds on business journalism and customer experience shows — he previously appeared on the Fast Leader podcast and did a ‘Quick 6’ of questions with Customer Experience Matters. He’s a visionary leader in our space, and here we talk a lot about building customer experience across the business. That’s a key area that many new and emergent CCOs struggle with — they know they ‘own’ their silo, but they need to embed their silo and the overall idea of customer experience across the business. How can you do that? Parrish offers a couple of distinct ideas in this episode.
About Parrish ArturiParrish is a seasoned executive adept at growing and leading organizations to create outstanding experiences and deliver superior business results. He possesses a deep understanding and ability to integrate technology, marketing and operations to grow businesses through customer-centered, relevant products and services. He’s repeatedly displayed leadership in developing cross-organizational relationships to achieve successful outcomes across diverse projects, people and programs. Many of his approaches are now cited as best practice across industries.
Parrish is on LinkedIn here.
Understanding Voice Of The Customer
As with many different guests I’ve had through my first nine episodes, Parrish opens by talking about how to get after a company’s aspirations. Normally a company has goals, and those goals involve its customers in some way (hopefully many ways). But as Parrish notes, when you’re newer to a CCO-type role, there’s often a wide gap between internal perception of where customers are and how they think — and, well, how the customers actually think and behave. He talks about doing voice of the customer activities and actually getting out and speaking to customers. Understand them. Once you have this understanding of where they’re at, only then can you start tying the customer experience across the business — and you do that by linking it to road maps and other strategic planning activities.
The Enormity Of The Work
None of us want to be pitching and begging with the rest of the C-Suite, and that can happen when people confuse ‘customer experience’ with ‘customer service.’ Those conversations have to take place first to ground the rest of the C-Suite, and there needs to be an explanation that companies who focus on customer experience tend to see greater revenue growth. Customer service is part of customer experience, but they are not the same thing. It’s a very different methodology. If you don’t get the rest of the senior leadership team understanding that from the get-go, the work can seem enormous — and you may run in a lot of circles.
Campaigns vs. Systemic Change
When you’re building customer experience across a business, oftentimes there can be a focus on campaigns. This is only logical, because campaigns are a logical series of tasks, logistical checkpoints, and deliverables — and typically those make people in each silo feel more comfortable. To do customer experience work right, however, the focus has to be way more than just campaigns. You’re aiming for systemic change around how you think of and drive your business forward. It isn’t a one-off campaign and then onto the next one. It’s a real change, and as we all know from personal and professional endeavors, change is very hard.
Embedding The Vocabulary
One thing Parrish did early on at Fidelity is make sure that every quarterly review between the CEO and his lieutenants involved the term ‘client experience.’ Each direct report of the CEO had to explain what they were doing in terms of client experience when they met with the CEO each quarter. This embedded the vocabulary and behaviors so that each functional silo began seeing the true importance of customer experience — both to the leader individually (he/she needs to explain it to his/her boss) and to the overall company goals.
Engaging Middle Management
When executives discuss a topic, the assumption sometimes can be that everyone else will fall in line. That’s a deadly assumption, especially in big companies. You cannot drive customer experience across the business unless you get buy-in and engagement from middle management around execution and making sure they know it’s relevant — again, to the company and to them individually. Most companies focus on engaging the high-end and the front-line, but forget this ‘middle earth’ portion.
What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then
We end every podcast with this question. It’s a ‘pay it forward’ question. Parrish refers to a couple of key ideas here:
- Understand the role of incentives: Oftentimes, by shining light on the work that others do, you create a more tangible bond between them and the organization than you could simply from paying them more money. People want respect, they want to be recognized, and they want to do interesting work. It’s about more than just money, which ultimately creates a transactional bond.
- Engage middle management: This is discussed above, but Parrish realizes it was a crucial point in his evolution as an executive. Everyone in a business enters the business with different ideas, backgrounds, and preconceived notions about what’s happening and the strategic direction. As a result, you need to engage and interact with everyone in different ways — and this is especially true in middle management, where a lot of the execution-driving work is really getting done.
A new episode will arrive next Tuesday!