In a recent Linkedin Live conversation, I spoke with Natalie Petouhoff, a senior customer experience strategist and business consultant at Genesys. Her previous experience includes work with brands including Salesforce, Hulu, Marriott, General Motors, General Electric, and many more.
Natalie Petouhoff also holds a PhD in material science and engineering and is a former aerospace engineer. She believes we can imbue technology with our hopes and dreams for a future focused on bettering humanity. Natalie addresses some of the ways this can be operationalized in a book she co-authored, Empathy in Action: How to Deliver Great Customer Experiences at Scale.
During our conversation, we discuss blind spots in leadership, the fifth industrial revolution, and why leaders must put customers and employees at the center of how they make decisions.
Measure Your Success Against Improving Customers’ Lives
Natalie shares that she found that about 80% of companies generally thought they were providing a great experience, but once customers and employees were asked about their experience, only about 20% had positive sentiments. Too often, companies give themselves false positives and pat themselves on the back because they’re measuring against action items that don’t actually impact the life of the customer.
She emphasizes that too often, leadership is “measuring the things that reinforce our backpacking activities which feels good in the moment.” Natalie also stresses the importance of sitting in the seat of the customer and having the experience yourself. You may realize that it isn’t as cracked up as you thought it to be.
Don’t Run Your Business Like an Assembly Line
“Businesses shouldn’t be run like an assembly plant,” says Natalie. She believes that the current structure of business organization is still built on a method of simply maximizing profits without concern for employees or customers—a framework which was built from the industrial revolution. “And the truth is that the zeitgeist today—emotionally, psychologically, customers and employees are like, ‘You know what? If you really don’t care about me, I don’t need to be part of your buying cycle or your employee,’ ” says Natalie. This is a sentiment that has been seen during this “Great Resignation” period, where employees are leaving to find more fulfilling work.
As we see more and more, technology is an extremely important part of our business strategy and Natalie believes that we need to ask ourselves: how can we leverage technology to make the work more efficient in terms of experience? She asks, “Have you interacted with your chatbot to see how it truly functions? What data are you collecting and how are you using it to help your customers from their POV? Are you using technology to help rather than constantly upsell?”
3 Levels of Commitment To Change CX Internally
- Look at your organizational structure and how that comes together to help the customer. How will leadership, sales, marketing, order management, and engineering ultimately serve the customer’s needs?
- Look at your culture. Are people able to have open and honest conversations about how things are going? Are employees getting what they need? You need to open up the floor to say, my job as a leader is to get you what you need. How can we create an atmosphere where employees feel like they’re truly supported? The fear of speaking up needs to be removed and there needs to be a level of understanding to implement changes that support the team. Customer and employee experience needs to be in the DNA of the company. It’s something that’s acted upon day in and day out. It lives in the strategy, the people, process, and the use of exponential technologies.
- The heightened alertness and concern for employees’ wellbeing that leaders expressed during the pandemic shouldn’t fade. Exponential technology only means that things get faster and blind spots create danger. As things move faster you need to think through your decisions and be sure it doesn’t put you in a direction that’s detrimental.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
“I wish I really understood the concept of empathy. I think that as someone who prided themselves on really thinking that they were listening, and understanding and acting and learning, I think that the journey to codify this right? And really lay it out as a framework has really helped me see my own blind spots. And I would say that one of the key things that we as leaders can do is help the people who are coming up into our organizations understand the concept of a blind spot and and create cultures where it’s okay to say I have a blind spot.”
About Natalie PetouhoffNatalie Petouhoff’s career spans many years in technology and customer and employee experience. Over the years, Natalie has focused on the interplay between the evolution of technology and who we are as humans. From her early days as an engineer, she remains a true believer in “what is good for employees and customers is ultimately what is also good for companies.” Natalie believes we can imbue technology with our hopes and dreams for a future focused on bettering humanity. We just need to understand what we are optimizing for and why.
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