“I think the power of collaboration and people talking together and sitting together shouldn’t be underestimated,” says Charlotte Dunsterville, Chief Customer Officer of Sure International Telecom, a mobile, fixed and enterprise telecommunications supplier in Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, part of the Batelco (Bahrain Telecom) Group of companies. In this episode, Charlotte and I talk about how she united the C-Suite and other departments within Sure International to implement a customer experience program, and how her background in customer service and experience helped her be the transformative leader she is today.
Listen to the Customer and Bring Internal Teams Together
During Charlotte’s career, she was immersed in the world of customer service. Starting off at British Telecom, she was in a role where she was talking to customers on the phone daily. This process of always being engaged with the customer slowly trained her to become the CX leader that she is now; Charlotte places high value on listening to the customer. After spending 2 years on the front line, she became a manager of the call center, moved into product management, and even did a bit of marketing and user experience. In all of these roles, she thought about how to put the customer first.
After a few years, and with plenty of experience under her belt, Charlotte became the CCO at Sure International. With a larger role that impacted more departments and people, she had to assess what work needed to be done in order to make the customer experience more seamless.
How did Charlotte assess the work to be done?
- Charlotte had a clear brief from the CEO about internal challenges and what he expected. She spent 2-3 months speaking with the company’s staff, learning about their processes, what problems existed and understanding what these problems were.
- “Day in the life” internal process: talk to people who were doing the work and find out what was enabling them or getting in the way of them doing their work.
- Listened to calls from the contact center to understand the kind of complaints they get and how they’re resolved.
- Looked at how to bring sales and customer service together.
Walk the C-Suite and Departments Through the Customer Lifecycle
During Charlotte’s “day in the life” process, she deliberately walked the C-Suite through the lifecycle of the customer. She wanted them to see the journey which starts with a new customer who has placed an order and ended up on the phone with a rep. It was important for the C-Suite to also see how these customers were ultimately supported. Charlotte got the C-Suite on board early for the “day in the life” implementation and believed that this initiation made them more engaged with the work. She mentioned that this process helped make the C-Suite more aware of what type of work was happening on the front line; they also had feedback about how things could be changed.
The product team and marketing department were also positively affected by the CX transformation. Charlotte worked with the product team to get them thinking more deeply about a product launch. Specifically, she wanted them to think about how would they communicate to customers, how systems might need to be altered, and how would they ensure proper customer support.
When Charlotte spent time with the marketing team, she showed them the affect that their messages had on customers; how some of their call-to-action messages affected the volume and types of calls received in customer support. One inaccurate detail or unclear message could greatly impact the call center. This process allowed the team to directly see the impact of their work. I found it interesting to hear that Charlotte took this approach, especially considering that more articles are being written about integrating marketing and customer service.
Formalize Customer Research and Build a Customer Journey Map
In addition to having other departments conduct shadow work with the call center, Charlotte realized that Sure needed a process for customer research; they needed to a customer panel for feedback. She starting with the areas where she knew there were customer pain points and gathered the customer feedback. Eventually, they got more formal in eliciting feedback from customers, and even by informal ways through friends and family. She also found that it was helpful to get outside on the island and directly talk to customers.
As with many organizations, when it comes to customer complaints and issues, Charlotte found that the problem needed to be tackled from the inside-out, like billing issues and internal processes. Instead of accommodating the customer, many processes were built on the way that Sure did business; a sort of “my way or the highway approach.” In order to change this approach, Charlotte developed a customer journey map and faced the challenge of getting folks on board with understanding the customer journey and pain points. When creating this customer journey map, they mapped out the complaints process and emphasized viewing issues through the customers lens. The approach became, “no, don’t think about Sure and our problems. As the customer, what are you experiencing?” After creating simple customer journeys, Charlotte worked with the teams to create a framework for how they can solve customer problems at their root and make improvements for the overall experience.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then
- “I think whatever you tell people, or you thought you told people, twice or three times, there’s always somebody who actually hasn’t heard it, or wasn’t there, or hasn’t read the email. I would be even more thorough with the communication and just make sure it’s crystal clear, everybody has seen it, that everybody’s on board with what we’re trying to do, and how we’re going to do it.”
- “I definitely would say don’t ignore your internal detractors. It’s great to have champions and to be very focused on positive people, but it’s actually the detractors who will probably pull your program of change back, so take some time to get them on board.”
- “You do have hard days, but be confident. You’re doing the right thing. You’re taking the business forward to the benefit to the customer. That will pay dividends so stick with it, and be confident.”
About Charlotte Dunsterville
Charlotte is a Customer Experience specialist who combines strategic marketing and sales with a pragmatic operational approach. She joined the Executive Committee of Sure in 2013 to head up the newly formed Customer Experience division encompassing customer strategy, communications and operations and subsequently in 2016 expanded her responsibilities to include both Consumer and Enterprise Sales.
Charlotte is passionate about the customer and describes her role as “representing the customer on the board”. She transformed the Customer Experience division into an open, collaborative and customer focussed organisation with a significant shift to a customer based culture and delivered a high profile Net Promoter Score program to the Sure business and then as the Group lead on customer experience within the Batelco Group.
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!