Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What Does the Future of #CX Look Like?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I'm already seeing it: people are starting to talk and write about customer experience trends for 2019. 

It's only the start of Q4! We haven't even made it through 2018 yet! Still lots of time to make things happen. (Right?!)

Regardless, I'm not big on talking about customer experience trends for the new year any more. I have in the past, but I gave up a couple years ago.


Because I'm finding that a lot of companies are still trying to figure out the basics. Sadly.

They can't begin to focus on omnichannel, digital, personalization, AI, AR, and VR, oh my, when they can't even get their executives to commit to putting customers at the top of the priority list (right after employees, of course).

So, when I'm asked about customer experience trends for the next year and what customer experience strategies will look like, I say it's a bit like this:

You know that episode! Lucy and Ethel struggled to keep up with the chocolates on the conveyor belt and ended up using whatever was at their disposal to catch the chocolates and keep them from over-running the conveyor.

Unfortunately, that's where a lot of brands sit today: trying to keep up - if they're even focusing on the chocolates, er, customer experience. Innovation isn't even in their vocabulary.

In a world where products and services are becoming more and more commoditized, customer experience is the only true differentiator. That means that brands need to fight to stay relevant yet  truly struggle to not get Blockbuster'd. It means that brands need to shift the focus onto the customer - and on keeping the customer.

So the trends I'm focusing on for next year are really the same as this year (and last year, and the year before that, and... ): ensuring that companies successfully design and deliver a better customer experience by first having several foundational elements in place.

First and foremost, there must be CEO and executive commitment for the work that lies ahead; without that, the transformation journey ends pretty quickly. Beyond that, there must be a well-defined customer experience vision and strategy, a governance structure to provide guidelines and oversight for the work ahead, a focus on improving the employee experience along with recognition that employees drive the customer experience, and a people-first culture. And finally, companies must take the time to understand both employees and customers, act on what they learn and embrace outside-in thinking, weaving the customer and her perspective into all they do.

Where to begin? With customer understanding.
  • It feeds the customer experience strategy
  • It is the cornerstone of customer-centricity, and 
  • Quite simply, without it, you cannot put the "customer" into customer experience.
Without doing the work to understand your customers, your customer experience strategy will fall flat and fail to outline a plan to deliver an experience that not only meets your customers’ needs but may also delight them.

What does the future of customer experience look like? Good question. No one really knows. What we do know is that companies have their work cut out for them. And until then... customer experience professionals must continue to fight the good fight, helping executives understand the importance of putting customers at the center of all they do.

As I mentioned a couple years ago, going forward, let's not make predictions; let's make resolutions. And stick to them!

The trend that should definitely die is following trends. -Kemp Muhl

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Customer Experience and Customer Success: What's the Difference?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Time to tackle another differentiation!

Last week, I once again tackled the topic of the differences between customer experience and customer service. This week, I'm going to see if I can do justice to the differences between customer experience and customer success.

Controversial? Yes. I think there's controversy when trying to delineate customer experience with customer service, but the conversations become a bit more heated when it comes to customer experience and customer success.

Regardless, let me preface this post by saying: as long as we all work toward a common goal, as long as we all try to do what's right for the customer, it's all good!

So, let's start with defining customer experience again:

Customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the “relationship” with that company… and, especially, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the customer has about those interactions.

What is customer success?

I have always defined it as ensuring that customers get the value they expected out of the products they purchased, that they achieve their desired outcomes. The business outcome is retention. I have typically associated customer success as a B2B endeavor, specifically B2B technology customers.

I did a little homework and came up with the following definitions from the customer success experts.

Lincoln Murphy, who wrote Customer Success: The Definitive Guide, defines it as follows: Customer success is when your customers achieve their desired outcome through their interactions with your company.

I wasn't too far off, but I wanted to keep looking.

Gainsight defines it as: The business methodology of ensuring customers achieve their desired outcomes while using your product or service. Customer Success is relationship-focused client management, that aligns client and vendor goals for mutually beneficial outcomes. Effective Customer Success strategy typically results in decreased customer churn and increased upsell opportunities.

I found this on Wikipedia: Customer success is the function at a company responsible for managing the relationship between a vendor and its customers. The goal of customer success is to make the customer as successful as possible, which in turn, improves customer lifetime value (CLTV) for the company.

Todd Eby of SuccessHacker says: At its heart, customer success is about understanding why your customer hired you, what are they attempting to achieve and then doing all that you can to help them achieve that.

Mindtouch says customer success encompasses the ongoing efforts of an organization to continue delivering value to its customers. A good customer success program aims to deliver value throughout every step of the customer journey, from pre-purchase to post-sale and beyond. This can include (but isn’t limited to) onboarding, product training, customer service and support.

Starting to see a pattern? Yes. Customer success is rooted in companies delivering value and customers achieving their desired outcomes. Guess what? So is customer experience. One more...

The Customer Success Association defines customer success as: a long-term, scientifically engineered, and professionally directed strategy for maximizing customer and company sustainable proven value.


So, I then took a look at some of the ways people differentiated customer experience and customer success.

Helpshift noted that customer success is just one part of customer experience, and includes a longer description of the differentiation, which you can find here, but the key part is summarized at the end of their article: The real key to a phenomenal customer experience is a company-wide, top-down philosophy on what the result of the customer journey should be. It’s not enough to just have good CSAT; you want your customers to have an overall positive association with your brand as a whole. Customer success is just one part of this macro vision of the customer.

Sue Duris of M4 believes that the two will converge, but until then notes that customer experience is strategic, while customer success is transactional and product-centric.

This one is interesting. The Future of CIO blog differentiated between customer experience, customer service, and customer success as follows: Customer service is reactive, available when customers need it, in the channel when customers want it. Customer experience needs to be interactive, to delight customers in every touch point. Customer success is proactive, identifying ways to help customers gain value from the product or service you provide. Customer Experience is the broad umbrella that you deliver from purchase throughout the full "journey." Customers need all of these areas to be a focus of the business if you want them to continue to buy and recommend your products/services to others.

ChurnZero differentiates the two by saying that customer experience is focused on the overall impression a customer has, while customer success is focused on the end results (or lack thereof) of those interactions.


I've read a lot of articles about customer success in the last few days, and the lines between customer success and customer experience are blurred by many; some don't even come close. There are differences, but it seems fuzzy, for sure. Here's how I've boiled it down.

Customer success is:
  • B2B
  • Product/value focused
  • Customer/outcomes focused
  • Account focused
  • Relationship focused
  • Retention/repurchase focused
  • Tactical in the scheme of things, but strategic as it relates to the account
  • One part of the equation, a subset of customer experience
Customer experience is:
  • B2B and B2C
  • People focused: employees and customers
  • Culture based/driven
  • Design focused - design products that deliver value, help customers achieve their desired outcomes
  • Product/value focused
  • Customer/outcomes focused
  • Relationship focused
  • Business outcomes focused
  • Emotions, feelings, perceptions
  • Strategic, enterprise-wide
Makes me question if the customer success role/discipline is really necessary. What do you think? Customer experience is the umbrella. Get the experience right - listen to customers, understand the problems they are trying to solve, innovate, and design and deliver a better experience - and customer success management becomes obsolete, no? After all... it's all about the customer.

Make everyone think about things from the customer’s perspective. -Mike Grafham

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Customer Experience and Customer Service: What's the Difference?

Image courtesy of CXPA
It's that time of year again...

This week, we are celebrating CX Day and Customer Service Week. I love that they land on the calendar at the same time, and yet, let's just keep adding to the confusion!

I've written about the differences before:

Customer Experience is More Than Just Customer Service
Customer Service or Customer Experience
Customer Experience Isn't Just about Customer Service

Looks like I need to get more creative with my blog post titles!

Anyway, here's how I define them.

Customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with an organization over the life of the “relationship” with that company… and, especially, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the customer has about those interactions.

Customer service is one of those interactions or a type of interaction.

And most of you probably already know how I like to differentiate, thanks to Chris Zane of Zane’s Cycles: Customer service is what happens when the customer experience breaks down.

(Am I the only one who sees the irony in the fact that customer experience has one day in the midst of a week of customer service celebrations. By definition, it should be the other way around!)

I thought I'd scour the web to see how others have defined the differences. Here's what I found.

In her recent blog post, Debbie Laskey asked Bill Quiseng to differentiate the two. Bill's response: 
Customer service is all about what you do for a customer. But, customer experience is all about how the customer feels about your company. It’s not only how the customer feels about your service, but also how he feels about every aspect of your company, from the ease of navigation on your website to the simplicity of understanding the final invoice, and literally every sensory touchpoint in between. In today’s very competitive marketplace, great customer service merely gets you into the game. Great customer experience makes you a winner.

In an HBR article, Disney Institute differentiated the two as follows: Customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company. This can include everything from a customer’s initial awareness or discovery of a company, product, or service and progressing through the purchase and use of those products or services. Together these all add up to the critical moments - the touch points - that create an organization’s overall customer experience. Customer experience moves us beyond the traditional definition of customer service - those individual moments when employees are providing direct service to customers. It is also about the bigger picture of what happens before and after these service interactions.

Ameyo provided this differentiation in an article from last year: Customer service and customer experience are not that far apart. In fact, customer service is only one part of the overall experience. Customer service is reactive - it only comes into play when a dissatisfied customer contacts the company. The business can only take action once something goes wrong, and not beforehand. Customer experience, on the other hand, is proactive - a business can take action to optimize the customer journey before the customer becomes dissatisfied. Customer experience is a holistic approach that goes beyond customer service and takes into account the overall customer journey by building long term relationships with customers.

Gartner noted that customer service can significantly impact the customer’s perspective of overall experience but added that they both have a shared outcome: customer loyalty. To differentiate, they added: Customer service works to make it easy for customers to resolve specific issues. The challenge of customer experience is to inject that same ease across all the cumulative interactions the customer has with the organization over time.

Maximizer differentiated the two as follows: Put simply, customer service is assisting customers and meeting their needs. It helps to shape the overall customer experience but doesn’t fully define it. Customer experience includes a customer’s perception of a company, a customer’s interactions with a company and a customer’s recollection of that entire process, from start to finish, at all touch points.

In a nutshell, HelpScout defined each as follows: Customer service is the assistance and advice provided to a customer for your product or service as needed. Customer experience, or CX, refers to the broader customer journey across the organization and includes every interaction between the customer and the business.

In their article outlining the difference between the two, Genesys writes that customer service will continue to be an integral part of a much broader and strategic practice of customer experience. In its simplest terms, customer experience is strategic - a holistic view that connects all the dots of each event. It dives deeply into solving the root cause of an issue, bridges organizational silos, and helps to drive clearer business strategies. Look across the customer experience from the customer’s perspective and across all touchpoints. It’s a smarter way to do business.

I could go on and on. The interesting thing is that there have now been a ton of articles written about the differences - and yet, people still use the terms interchangeably.

Why is it important to differentiate? Think about "potato" and "tomato?" Sound similar. Look similar. But they are very different, right? You wouldn't want to use them interchangeably in a recipe, would you?

Yea, I didn't think so.

Well, the same goes for customer experience and customer service. One is proactive; one is reactive. One is about the entire relationship, while the other is a point in time.

They have distinct meanings. They require different skills. They are not one and the same.

Spread the word.

I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap. -Ani DiFranco

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Continuous Feedback Is the New Way Forward for Employee Reviews

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Dave Mizne of

Traditionally, managers have relied on the annual performance review to provide employees with feedback. However, surveys indicate employees don’t find the process valuable. Simply meeting once a year to discuss their progress doesn’t give employees a thorough sense of their own performance. It also doesn’t give them many opportunities to offer valuable feedback to their supervisors.

That’s why managers are shifting to a continuous feedback approach. With the right tools, like 360 performance evaluation, staying in contact with your workers (even if they work remotely) and regularly updating them on their progress is easier than ever.

The Benefits of Continuous Feedback
Continuous feedback addresses many of the shortcomings of annual performance reviews. First, it allows managers to provide feedback when they have a stronger overall recollection of an employee’s recent performance.

Trying to remember how a worker has performed over the course of a year is difficult. This results in vague feedback during annual review sessions. When a supervisor checks in on a weekly or biweekly basis, they can offer more specific advice.

The organization also benefits when managers provide continuous feedback. Regular check-ins give managers more chances to confirm their employees are focused on the appropriate objectives. If an employee isn’t making the expected progress or is perhaps focusing on the wrong priorities, managers can point them in the right direction before they waste too much time and resources on tasks that may not be essentially valuable to the business.

Surveyed workers directly state they believe annual performance reviews don’t help them better understand what their objectives should be. With continuous performance, this may not be a problem.

Additionally, annual performance reviews have a negative impact on the relationship employees have with their supervisors. It creates a power dynamic that prevents employees from feeling comfortable with having a genuine discussion about their performance.

This is particularly true for the many employees who feel they don’t necessarily understand how the annual performance review impacts their employment. Does it correspond to their pay? Does it impact their job security? Since they aren’t sure what the actual goal of the performance review is, they’re not open during any potential discussions. They’re likely to be on their guard during the process.

This isn’t the case with continuous feedback. When supervisors and their employees check in with each other on a regular basis, everyone quickly becomes much more comfortable and sees the value in the experience. Employees can spend less time worrying about what the feedback means for their pay or job security and spend more time actually listening to and acting on the feedback. Additionally, they get the chance to share their own thoughts with a supervisor.

It’s clear that many people don’t like annual performance reviews. Employees worry about them, human resources professionals believe they’re expensive, and supervisors struggle to make the process valuable. Clearly, an effective replacement will offer more benefits to your organization. Continuous feedback is that replacement.

One may develop the most technically sophisticated, accurate appraisal system, but if that system is not accepted and supported by employees, its effectiveness ultimately will be limited. -Gallup

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for CallidusCloud. It appeared on their blog on March 22, 2018.

Naysayers have been shouting "Surveys are dead!" from rooftops for a couple of years now. Well, they're not dead (yet), but companies are certainly looking for alternative approaches to customer and employee listening in light of the fact that survey burnout is a real problem.

As a result, there's been a greater focus on qualitative research and listening approaches lately. Which ones, you ask? Here are a few options.

Customer Advisory Boards 
Advisory boards offer benefits to both customers and to your company. You get feedback and can shore up relationships, while customers are heard, get face time with your executives, and are viewed as thought leaders. CABs typically meet semi-annually, hopefully giving you enough time to act on what you heard and to then come back six months later with improvements in hand.

Employee Advisory Boards
Employee advisory boards typically meet on a monthly basis to provide feedback to employers about the employee experience, benefits, culture, and more. Employees get their voices heard, and employers can be more agile when it comes to addressing emerging trends that could lead to dissatisfaction and attrition.

Focus Groups
This is definitely a traditional qualitative listening approach. The format is different from CABs, but focus groups are still a great way to get customers in a room and delve deeper into various topics, get product insights, etc. Focus groups typically required skilled moderators to keep the group on task and to make sure everyone gets a chance to share thoughts.

1:1 interviews
This approach is unique and often used by B2B companies to probe for feedback on relationship health and more. Managers use these with employees as well; those discussions are often referred to as stay interviews. There's no better way to let a customer or an employee know that you care than to have a 1-on-1 discussion, except to have a follow-up chat to let the customer or the employee know what you did with the feedback!

Voice of the Customer Through Employees
VoCE includes feedback and insights about your customers that have been gathered by your frontline staff (call center, sales, account management, etc.), the folks who interact with - and talk to - them the most. Formalize the process for employees to capture the pain points and sources of frustration that they hear about from your customers. This is a rich source of information, without a doubt.

Online Communities
I wrote about online communities before, but at that time it was more about using them for support, i.e., customers helping each other solve product issues. Online communities are also a great way to test product concepts and to get feedback about the customer (or the employee) experience.

Social Media
In this category, I'll include not only Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., but also online review sites like Yelp, OpenTable, GlassDoor, and TripAdvisor. There is a ton of feedback on these sites; the real challenge is wrangling it, making sense of it, responding to it, and doing something about it.

Immersion Programs
Walking in customers’ shoes has become a cliché in our world, but that’s what customer immersion programs are all about. They allow executives to experience what customers experience when they (try to) do business with you. Company executives embed themselves into their customers’ lives to gain a better understanding of how they live, work, and do the jobs they need to do - with your products.

Journey Mapping
If you don't think of journey mapping sessions as a way to capture customer or employee feedback, unfortunately, you're wrong. When you map or validate current state maps with customers - and when you co-create and develop future state journeys with them, you are about as close to the customer and the customer experience as you can get without actually being there yourself. And the customer is right there in front of you, telling you about the experience. It's a moment of clarity, and it puts the experience and the feedback side by side, allowing you to immediately take it and design something better.

The next time someone in your organization groans at the thought of doing more surveys, consider one or more of these options. You'll come away with some rich data - straight from the horse's mouth - that can be put to good use immediately!

If you don't get feedback from your performers and your audience, you're going to be working in a vacuum. - Peter Maxwell Davies

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Transforming Your Culture with the Help of a Culture Committee

Image courtesy of Pixabay
What is a Culture Committee? And do you need one? (The short answer is "Yes!")

Last month, I wrote a two-part series about how to stand up your team of CX Champions. Without a doubt, they are an important part of the customer experience transformation governance structure and transformation success.

Another team that's important to your transformation is a Culture Committee. While executives must ensure core values are established and communicated and the associated behaviors are modeled, they can't promote culture and drive culture change alone. Similarly, culture cannot be assigned to - or be driven by - HR. But culture doesn't just happen, either. There must be a grassroots effort among employees - a groundswell of sorts - to create and then to perpetuate and live the desired culture.

This is where the Culture Committee comes in to play.

What is a Culture Committee?
A Culture Committee is a group of cross-functional employees who meet to identify, discuss, and plan ways to promote and to drive the desired culture throughout the organization. You must have cross-functional representation on the Committee, as that diversity ensures that no one area of the company has greater influence over culture development and change than any other.

What traits or qualities do Culture Committee members have?
Committee members are well-respected and are often recognized as role models when it comes to living and breathing your core values and the culture. They are company advocates and love to talk about where they work, are strongly aligned with the company purpose, and want to see the business succeed. Similar to the CX Champions, they are team players, work well with others, and have – or can build – strong cross-functional relationships. They are excellent communicators. They are influential in their departments and, perhaps, across the organization.

What does the Culture Committee do?
The Committee helps to create that groundswell of adoption of the culture traits as defined by the core values and guiding principles through (a) communicating and modeling the values and (b) brainstorming and developing programs, actions, and events that support the company's mission, purpose, and values. (These programs or events might be fun, educational, and healthy/wellness events that bring employees together, again, in support of the company's purpose or values.) The Committee may even help to define (or revisit) the core values.

One of the things that Committee members must do is talk to fellow employees to keep a pulse on the culture and what's happening in the workplace. Do employees feel like the culture is evolving or eroding? What's working and what's not? What matters to them? This is important information to bring into the Committee meetings so that members can identify ways to support the evolution or mitigate the erosion. They may also review feedback from employee surveys to identify opportunities to shift the behavior and the thinking.

Note that the Committee isn't a skunkworks project or team; it is a dedicated group of employees who have the support and commitment from executives. The Committee advises the executives on culture matters and initiatives, and executives must review, approve, and pony up the resources for any programs or events initiated by the Committee.

How many Committee members are there?
That depends on how many cross-functional departments you have. And if you’ve got multiple business units, is there a corporate shared services group from which you can pull folks? If not, be sure to get business unit representation, too. If you’ve got global office locations, you’ll want to consider representation across the globe.

Who does the Committee report to?
Typically, HR will organize and host the Committee.

How do you find Culture Committee members?
There are at least two approaches to finding your Culture Committee members. (1) You can set some parameters and definitions (are they a good culture fit? do they ooze your company DNA? etc.) and then ask for volunteers based on that; or (2) you can accept nominations based on those same parameters.

How else can I identify these folks?
You might already have some people in mind as ideal Culture Committee candidates. To confirm, you can ask these individuals what they like and don't like about the company's culture and why culture matters.

Why do I need a Culture Committee?
Your Culture Committee brings together employees from across the company to provide a more-organized and holistic approach to driving culture change and other culture-focused initiatives. Executives, HR, and Customer Experience leaders can't change culture on their own; the cross-functional Committee members can help with that. They can facilitate speeding up the transformation because they are your boots on the ground around the company helping the change initiatives move forward and advocating for and promoting culture change organization-wide. They are living the change; they are living the culture. And they are helping to weave fun and wellness into the culture.

How often does the Culture Committee meet?
I've seen the cadence vary, for sure. In some companies, the Committee meets every other week; in others, it meets monthly. Early on, they should meet more frequently (i.e., weekly or bi-weekly); as they start to establish how they will work together and what they will do, perhaps the frequency can shift to monthly.

Who attends the meetings?
In addition to the Culture Committee members, typically the head of HR (or the head of People & Culture) attends. The Customer Experience team also has a presence. And, ideally, the CEO will also participate in some of these meetings.

For how long do they serve as Committee members?
Some organizations engage their Culture Committee members for two-year terms. As with the CX Champions, I suggest keeping the initial set of Committee members on the team at least long enough to gain a foothold in the movement or transformation, which tends to be about two years. Subsequent members may be limited to one-year terms to keep the ideas fresh and to give more employees the opportunity to be a part of this Committee.

On what do we need to train the Culture Committee?
Culture Committee members should be trained on what culture is, and they must know what your core values are. Likely, they already know these things, but it's good to revisit to ensure everyone is on the same page. You might also want to give them some guide rails within which they can plan events and programs, propose initiatives, etc.


In a nutshell, the Culture Committee will be your culture champions or your culture cheerleaders. They might plan wellness programs and events, company outings, and other fun events inline with the company culture. They might also assist with new employee orientation and onboarding to help indoctrinate new employees into the new culture. And they might suggest developing a culture book similar to what Zappos does every year so that all employees have the opportunity to share what the culture means to them.

In addition to getting feedback from employees around them, the Committee members can also help by answering a few questions themselves, including:
  • What does culture mean to you?
  • And, more specifically, what does our culture mean to you? How would you describe it to someone outside of the organization?
  • Do you believe employees are living the core values?
    • If not, what's keeping them from doing so? 
    • Ask them to identify something in their daily work that is inconsistent with your core values.
You might also ask them to participate in a culture mapping exercise to understand the culture and what the workplace is like for employees and to identify where improvement opportunities exist.

Suffice it to say there are a lot of ways that the Culture Committee can promote the current culture or help to transform the culture to what you/employees desire and need it to be.

Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. -Simon Sinek

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

How to Create a Brand Identity Your Customers Are Most Interested In

Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Lexie Lu of Design Roast.

Coming up with a brand identity isn’t an easy task. You have to consider the message you want the world to take away from any interaction with your company, and you have to think about what your target audience cares about. Ideally, a strong brand identity will mesh both your needs and those of your customer.

77 percent of B2B marketers say that proper branding plays a big role in company growth. Some key factors play into your brand identity and whether or not it’s one that consumers can relate to.

1. Keep Marketing Simple
Small businesses don’t always have a huge marketing budget. Keep things simple at first, and keep the focus on your main message as a brand. If you’re on a limited budget, study your analytics and where most of your current website traffic comes from. If most of your traffic is from Facebook, throw your advertising dollars there.

On the other hand, if you’re on a tight budget and want to do local advertising, you can do a lot of inexpensive things to reach new customers. Set up a booth at small festivals or hang door hangers in neighborhoods, for example.

2. Find Your Target Audience
Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead, hone in on your core audience and what they’re looking for from a company. Does your brand identity tie into those wants? For example, millennials care deeply about the causes a company stands behind, while baby boomers might be more likely to look at overall reputation. Once you know who your target audience is, it’s easier to come up with the ideal branding message.

Tide does a good job of speaking to the innovation and convenience that millennials love. They explain in detail why their Tide pods work so well and are so convenient. The use of simple images and bold colors also attracts the younger generation.

3. Take Part in Trends
If you want to reach your target audience with the things they’re most interested in, you have to stay up on the trends and be willing to try new things. For example, experiential design brings an entirely new look to a storefront or event venue. Around 89 percent of consumers pay little attention to ads. However, environmental graphics are still new enough to grab their attention.

4. Choose the Right Font
Figuring out which font matches your brand's personality and message is challenging but well worth the effort. The right font has a tone that matches your brand’s identity. If your company is young, hip, and fun, you don’t want a classic font without much added interest. On the other hand, if you run a financial company and need to send the message of stability, then you don’t want to go with a font that’s too frivolous.

Virgin has a unique-looking font for their logo. Richard Branson's brand has a young, fun vibe, and the font used for Virgin's logo is hip, fresh, and reminiscent of travel and fun.Since his brand includes a lot of travel-based investments, such as Virgin Hotels and Virgin Atlantic, it makes sense that the font would have a fun personality along this vein.

5. Learn to Engage
If you want site visitors to turn into raving fans, you must first engage them. This process occurs through a variety of methods, including in-store interaction, emails, and even responding to social media posts. Twitter is an excellent platform on which to engage with others. If a customer takes the time to mention your brand in a tweet, make sure you reply. You'll also want to connect with influencers in your industry and reach out to local media.

6. Offer Transparency
One survey indicated that 94 percent of people are loyal to brands that commit to transparency. Don’t try to hide your flaws, but embrace them and explain why you’re still the best choice anyway. If you donate a certain percentage of profits to charity, share exactly how much money that translates into and where the money went. Be open and honest with consumers, and they’ll be more likely to remain loyal to your brand.

Buffer prides itself on a company culture devoted to transparency. They run their business on 10 core values aimed at being open and honest both internally and externally. Those values include concepts such as embracing positivity, listening first, showing gratitude and defaulting to transparency.

7. Be Flexible
About the time you think you have your brand identity and how to market it figured out, you can be certain that something will shift, and you’ll have to adjust. Don’t get into a mindset that doesn’t allow for some flexibility.

If your goal is to offer the best customer service in your industry, but you have a major issue with quality, then your identity may temporarily shift to transparency and emergency control. That doesn't mean you can't move back to your main focus later, but if you want your business to survive, there will be times when your focus needs to change.

8. Create Authentic Content
Consumers want and expect content that’s reliable and authoritative. About 80 percent of people say content that’s authentic influences their decision on whether to follow a brand. If you're seen as a credible authority, then people will trust and follow what you have to say on a particular topic.

Image credit: Burger King
Burger King highlights the fact that more of their restaurants have burned down than any other chain. Since they’re known for their flame-grilled burgers, the idea of a restaurant going up in flames seems to fit that overall theme. The ad campaign pictured above won an award and features different restaurants that have burned down since the company’s inception in 1954.

9. Pay Attention to Images
Every single thing you put out into the world reflects your brand’s message. Pay attention to more than just the text you use but also to the images on your website, what you include in an email, and what is posted on social media. Images should be relevant and high-quality. If possible, they should be personalized, but if you're just starting, a related stock photo works, as well.

10. Be Consistent
Presenting your brand consistently time after time results in 23 percent more revenue. Figure out how to display your brand consistently no matter where you're marketing. If you put a sign in your storefront window, it should follow the same tone and style as the ads you post on social media

11. Go for Boldness
Don’t be afraid to be a bit bold in your branding efforts. Consumers see hundreds of ads in a given week, if not more. If you want to grab their attention, you must do something different that shocks, grabs attention, evokes an emotion, or draws them in somehow. Don’t be afraid to do something a bit unexpected. Just make sure it aligns with your brand’s personality and underlying values (see #10 above).

Your Customers Are Key
If you want your brand to speak to your customers, you have to invest time into figuring out what they want and how your company can deliver. Once you understand your typical customer, work toward creating a brand they’ll flock to. If they love you enough, they’ll help you get the word out by telling their family and friends about your amazing company. Your customers truly are the key to your success.

Lexie is a web designer and typography enthusiast. She spends most of her days surrounded by some HTML and a goldendoodle at her feet. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow Lexie on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

When a Customer Wins, Nobody Loses, Right?!

Image courtesy of Gerry Brown
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Paul Laughlin, Chief Blogger at

In today's post, Paul shares a book review of Gerry Brown's book, When a Customer Wins, Nobody Loses.

As I’ve shared before GDPR should be a positive customer benefit. As well as being a business benefit, when approached in the right way, GDPR is at root about empowering people/customers.

But, more widely, all is still not well in the CX garden. Despite what feels like a lifetime of various Customer Experience events, books, and consultants – all too often we still experience bad service.

That is the theme of this latest book from Gerry Brown.

I love it, and let me share with you why I think you might enjoy it too.

It’s funny we still need to make the case for "The Customer Wins"
The first positive to express about this book is Gerry’s candour and humour. With a gentle (mostly) and dry Canadian wit, Gerry exposes the first secret of CX: in most cases it ain’t yet working.

Much of the first half of this book is a combination of calling out that "the emperor has no clothes" and sharing buttock-clenching stories of all-too-common bad service. His points are well made.

Much more than fine words and strategy statements are needed to fix the most common customer irritants.

Gerry has been around the block enough, to put things simply, to cut through the latest Digital-Customer Self-Actualisation jargon and to make clear the basic building blocks that are needed to get started. This he does with both practical advice on influence and strategy, followed by tackling some of the barriers you are likely to face.

To achieve the Customer Wins requires technology and people
One of the strengths that Gerry brings to this conversation is his combination of IT expertise and people focus. This enables him to avoid two common pitfalls: too many CX speakers mislead their disciples into believing it is either all about technology solutions or all about people/culture. All businesses who’ve succeeded at CX have developed both.

Gerry explains some interesting back stories to the approach of Four Seasons, amidst other brands, as well as his personal experience with one Holiday Inn. These examples help ground this book in practical examples, showing what businesses need to manage in practice, not just aspirational statements and PR.

Beyond that, Gerry also engages with the work required in both technology and people departments. From cloud computing solutions and use of big data to organisational alignment and Bring Your Own Attitude. There are lots of practical tips to be picked up here.

As I write this post, I’ve just suffered another frustrating experience at a Novotel hotel. This is a brand I want to like, as their design and proposition work for me – but getting the basics wrong (like air conditioning) and hearing frontline staff powerless to do anything about it – confirms so many of Gerry’s points. Technology alone will not deliver CX nirvana; you need the right recruitment, training, and examples to deliver people who care and are empowered to ensure good customer outcomes.

Four principles to ensure the Customer Wins every time
As well as the many practical examples, from firms like John Lewis, Zappos, and Autoglass, Gerry also shares some models and theories. These help provide a framework and approach for those pushing for improved CX in their businesses. There’s more advice than I can simply summarise in this post (including the meaning of the CARE acronym at Four Seasons), but his central four are worth sharing.

In chapter 9, Gerry outlines these four principles to ensure Customers Win:
  1. Culture: beyond mission statements to how organisations have got ‘customer first’ into their DNA.
  2. Commitment: from the top down, demonstrating and expecting everyone to care about and ensure good CX is delivered.
  3. Community: from public visibility to community engagement and social care benefits.
  4. Communication: keeping the CX journey alive, so everyone can see progress and ideals.
Gerry also has some typically frank and useful advice on metrics, including why NPS or CES are not enough; you need to think more carefully about metrics and customer insight.

Case studies on how the Customer Wins
Compared to so many other CX textbooks, one of the reasons that I am happy to recommend Gerry’s book is its real world pragmatism. This is a book and consultancy approach grounded in what is actually being achieved as well as problems often faced. It helps so much that Gerry continues to see things through a customer lens and complain when things go wrong.

In keeping with the many examples, shared throughout this book, Gerry concludes by sharing three short case studies, bringing the challenges and principles to life in the businesses of HomeServe, Autoglass & Metro Bank. Here is a link to see the GoodReads preview for this book.

Do you have any CX books that have helped inspire you or guide your work? If so, please share in the comments below and perhaps Paul can publish one of your book reviews on his blog.

Paul Laughlin has over 20 years experience of leading teams to generate profit from analysing  data. Over the last 12 years he’s created, lead and improved customer insight teams across Lloyds, TSB, Halifax and Scottish Widows. He’s delivered incremental profit of over £10m pa and improved customers’ experiences.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Paving the Path for Positive Customer Journeys

Image courtesy of Adam Toporek
How do you deliver a Hero-Class® experience for your customers?

It's a great question, and, fortunately, I know someone who can answer it for us. Adam Toporek, who I'm proud to not only refer to as a customer service expert but also as a friend, took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for me.

I'll get to the interview in a moment; let me set this up first. Adam is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero, a book with "real world tips and techniques for the service front lines." I'll be joining Adam (and hundreds of other folks) in Austin in October for CCWAustin, but he'll be getting on stage; I'll be on the sidelines.

Before we meet up in Austin, I thought I'd ask him a few questions about the book and about his keynote at CCWAustin. Here's what I learned.

Why did you write this book?
Be Your Customer’s Hero was born out of my frustration owning businesses and leading frontline employees. Coming from small business and retail franchising, I saw firsthand how frontline employees struggled to deliver great experiences. They struggled when things were easy, and they would fall apart when things got hard. 

As a leader, I wanted a single resource that I could hand to a frontline employee and say, “Here is almost everything you need to know to succeed with customers.”

And while there are a lot of great customer service books out there, I couldn’t find one that did that - so I wrote it.

What does it mean to be your customer’s hero?
To me, a hero is someone who is there when you need them. A customer hero is no different.

To be the customer’s hero means one thing above all else: It means being there when the customer needs you and making your personal interaction with the customer as memorably positive as possible.

Now, being a customer’s hero doesn’t mean you can always give customers what they want, but it does mean you always give them your focus, your understanding, and your best efforts.

In a nutshell, what’s the secret to delivering a Hero-Class® customer experience?
To me, you only need to do three things to deliver a Hero-Class® experience:
  1. Meet and, whenever possible, exceed expectations.
  2. Provide a hassle-free, frictionless experience.
  3. Do both of the above consistently.
I’ll be talking about all three in Austin, but my main focus will be on that second dimension — how we can identify hassle and eliminate it from our customer journeys.

Can this concept apply to the employee experience, as well? Can a manager be her employee’s hero, or is that another book?
One of the biggest surprises for me after the release of Be Your Customer’s Hero was the number of people who commented that they used it with their internal teams. I didn’t write it with that in mind, but, as you might imagine, many of the techniques that help you communicate and interact more effectively with external customers can help you do the same with your internal customers.

When I talk about customer experience leadership, I talk about the strategies and techniques you need to be your team’s hero.

And I’ll say this, because it relates to what we’re going to talk about at CCWAustin: One of the most important things you can do to be your team’s hero is to constantly improve the customer experience, because when a customer experience breaks down, when we fail our customers, who feels it the most? Our teams.

Designing a hassle-free customer experience is an integral part of being your team’s hero.

What’s your favorite tip from the book?
I can’t say I have a favorite; I love all of my children equally. :) However, the tip I think that has really been revolutionary for so many frontline representatives and leaders has been to let customers punch themselves out — which, in short, means to let customers vent fully. This can be challenging in any setting but can be particularly difficult in contact centers, where agents might be focused on handle time.

The reason the technique is so powerful is that it is counter-intuitive. Our natural reaction is to interrupt the customer, both to stop the venting and to offer a solution, but when we do that, we are focused on solving the customer’s problem and not resolving the customer’s feelings. And when we have an upset customer, it is the latter that is almost always the most important.

Can you give me the inside scoop on what the audience can expect from your afternoon keynote at CCWAustin? (How cool is it that you’re onstage right after happy hour!)
Hilarity will ensue! Isn’t that what they say?

My goal for every keynote is to make the audience laugh, make the audience think, and help them find one or two actionable ideas they can put to use immediately when they return to their organizations.

In keeping with this year’s theme of speed and efficiency, I'm going to talk about the operational aspects of hassle, which is how we all generally approach this topic, but I'm also going to take a different approach and talk about how hassle relates to customer emotion. I'm going to delve into the “why” behind making hassle reduction a strategic priority.

Plus, I’ve got a story about someone throwing up on a roller coaster you don’t want to miss.


I bet Daymond John, who will be the morning keynote on the same day, can't hold a candle to that story!

Customer Contact Week (CCW) is October 9-12, 2018, in Austin, Texas. If you're planning to join us there, use my discount code (2CCWA_ANNETTEFRANZ) for 20% off your registration!


Adam Toporek is an internationally-recognized customer experience expert, keynote speaker, and customer service trainer who helps organizations transform their relationships with their customers through better strategy, training, and communication. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero, the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog, the co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast, and the creator of the virtual training course, How to Deal with Difficult Customers.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Optimize Your Customer Journey

Image courtesy of Calabrio
Did you know that data is a critical component of your journey maps?

I've written a lot about journey maps and journey mapping over the last several years. I've also written about the importance of data to the journey mapping process, even noting that "data has no place in journey mapping" as one of my myths about mapping.

Where am I heading with this? Customer understanding is a foundational element of any customer experience strategy. There are three primary ways that you can gain that understanding:
  1. Listen. Don't just ask customers about the experience, listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels and ways for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you are performing against their expectations. Understanding these expectations and identifying key drivers of a great customer experience are important outcomes of this exercise.
  2. Characterize. Research your customers. Identify the jobs they are trying to do. Compile key personas that represent the various types of prospects and customers that (might) buy from you or that use your products or services.
  3. Empathize. Walk in your customers' shoes to get a clear understanding of the steps they take to do whatever job it is they are trying to do with your organization. Map their journeys to understand the current state of the experience.
It's this last one, empathize (or walk in customers' shoes and map their journey), that I focus on in my webinar on August 22, 2018, at 11am PT/2pm ET. Now, I know you know I've done other webinars on journey mapping in the past, but this webinar is a little different in that I focus more heavily on the connection between data and mapping - and why the two are important together in order to help you optimize the customer journey. This webinar will also be more focused on the contact center experience and contact center data.

UPDATE: If you missed the webinar and would like to view it, follow this link to register and view it on demand.

It’s got to do with putting yourself in other people’s shoes and seeing how far you can come to truly understand them. -Christian Bale (talking about acting)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Telling Your Customer Stories through Journey Maps

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Do you know the power of storytelling? And do you use it in your customer experience transformation efforts?

Back in 2014, I wrote a post about a museum experience I had at the California Science Center in Los Angeles where a docent told stories about the exhibits and engaged the audience far more than detailed display placards ever could.

I noted that, through storytelling, the docent had power over the audience! The audience was transported and mesmerized!

Through storytelling, he...
  • helped the audience understand
  • conveyed what the people of that time thought, did, felt
  • brought the event(s) or experience to life
  • engaged the audience
  • facilitated empathy and understanding
  • helped the audience connect
  • drew the audience in
  • transported the audience
  • helped the audience relate
  • taught them some history
As you can see, stories are a wonderful communication tool and a powerful teaching tool. They allow you to deliver a message in a way that engages the audience, helps them understand the characters in play, and, hopefully, inspires them. People tend to connect to stories and, therefore, remember them and the message they convey.

One of the my favorite tools available to develop and to tell the customer story is journey mapping.

So, it was with great pleasure that I agreed to an interview with Park Howell of The Business of Story to talk about journey mapping and how to use mapping to tell the customer (and the employee) story. It's a fun interview during which he attempts to coax out of me what the catalyst was for this customer experience consulting career - and more!

In addition to that, in this interview we discuss...
  • How to truly understand and retain your customers
  • The art of using journey maps to connect with your customer and tell their story
  • My 5-step approach to developing your customer experience roadmap and strategy in order to completely transform your business
I'd be honored if you would take a few minutes out of your day to listen to this interview. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about the discussion.

The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think but to give you questions to think upon. -Brandon Sanderson

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Amplify Your Transformation with CX Champions - Part 2

Image courtesy of Pixabay
This is the second part of my two-part series on how to stand up a team of CX Champions to activate your customer experience transformation efforts.

If you missed Part 1, see it here.

I'll dive right in with more details about your CX Champions team.

How often does the CX Champions team meet?
In the early days, the team should meet monthly, but this can be adjusted over time to meet more frequently or less frequently, as needed.

Who attends the meetings?
Attendees include CX Champions and members of the core CX team.

What should be on the meeting agenda?
Typically, the team will meet to discuss and showcase initiatives in order to get them prioritized and approved by the steering committee, if they haven’t already been; they’ll also provide updates on improvement efforts, issues, barriers to success, and more. The core CX team can also take this opportunity to share any feedback or learnings that they’ve received since the last meeting. And they can conduct ongoing CX training (pick a topic each time) during these meetings. Of course, the agenda should always include time for the CX Champions team to ask questions and to get their concerns addressed.

How do team members communicate between meetings?
There’s always email for communication, but it’s probably best to set up a shared directory where the team can find and share meeting notes, action plans, updates, journey maps, customer and employee feedback, and more.

Are CX Champions empowered to make changes?
Yes, they can be empowered to make changes, though they are often not the ones to actually implement change – unless it’s within their scope of work or skillset. (While I believe they should be empowered to make changes, your executive sponsor and steering committee will be the ultimate decision makers on this.) Regardless, they must be provided with the guide rails – based on the overall CX vision and strategy – within which they can design and implement changes.

Keep in mind that they will need ongoing guidance and direction. It’s not a “set and forget” program. Champions need to be trained, informed, and part of the team. They need to be supported, and they need to be able to discuss challenges, barriers, and successes with the other committees of the governance structure.

For how long do they serve as CX Champions?
Some organizations engage their CX Champions for two-year terms. I suggest keeping the first CX Champions on the team at least long enough to gain a foothold in the transformation, which tends to be about two years. The key is, after they rotate out, that they really continue on with the new way of doing things, not going back to how things were two years ago. It’s a learn and live role! In addition, consider setting up staggered tenures in order to keep continuity over time.

CX Champions need to be trained upon accepting this role. On what do I need to train them?
First and foremost, your CX Champions need to be trained on the basics: your CX vision and strategy. What is it? What are you doing? Why are you doing it? How are you doing it? What’s in it for me? What is the intended customer experience? How do you deliver it? And more.

Give the team details specific to what’s happening within the organization, how it’s going to happen, what the desired outcomes are, and how success will be defined. And don’t forget to talk about the culture and the employee experience. If you don’t make improvements there first, the CX work will all be for naught.

They should also be trained on the core customer experience competencies or principles. I would start with the six competencies put forth by the CXPA, which include:
  1. Customer-Centric Culture
  2. CX Strategy
  3. Experience Design Improvement & Innovation
  4. Metrics & Measurement and ROI
  5. Organizational Adoption & Accountability
  6. VOC Customer Insight & Understanding
Once your CX Champions are solidly grounded in these principles, you will want to go one layer deeper and teach them how to use the tools within the principles, including but not limited to:
  • What to do with customer feedback
  • What to do with employee feedback
  • How to analyze and operationalize feedback
  • How to map customer journeys
  • How to facilitate brainstorming sessions
  • How to tell stories with data or to sell the change initiatives
  • How to conduct root cause analysis
  • What change management is and what it entails
These are simply ideas and recommendations. You will determine the scope of what you want your CX Champions to do and how deeply you want them involved in each of the listed items and the six competencies. Remember that they are an extension of the core CX team; they are your eyes and ears on the ground. They can be hugely helpful in a lot of these areas.

Equip the CX Champions with the change story. And storyboard the intended experience in order to illustrate it for them; this also makes it easier for them to take it back and explain it to their departments. At the same time, guide them on how to best model the customer-centric behavior you expect from the company and provide those guard rails and guidelines for how to diagnose, design, and implement changes.

You will be communicating with – and training – the CX Champions on an ongoing basis. While they are an extension of the team, treat them as part of the team; when you do, they will embrace their roles and kick off that organization-wide groundswell that is necessary for any customer experience transformation journey to succeed.

This two-part series provides general guidelines on how you’ll set up your CX Champions team. While your approach may vary, just be sure to provide the knowledge, the guidelines, and the support to ensure that your Champions can rally their colleagues and be change agents on your CX journey.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. -Helen Keller

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Amplify Your Transformation with CX Champions - Part 1

Image courtesy of Pixabay
In this two-part series, I'll  outline how to stand up a team of CX Champions to activate your customer experience transformation efforts.

Do you have a governance structure in place for your customer experience transformation efforts? If not, it’s time to get that done! Not having a governance structure is one of the 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Experience.

Without a governance structure in place, you perpetuate silo thinking and fail to achieve cross-functional alignment, involvement, and commitment. Why? Because a governance structure is about oversight and execution. It outlines people, roles, responsibilities, rules, and guidelines when it comes to executing your customer experience strategy.

Changing the organization's DNA to be more customer-centric is not a journey for one person to undertake; this is an organization-wide effort. As such, the governance structure is critical to the foundation of any customer experience transformation. It outlines who will ensure that there is alignment and accountability across the organization, and it defines roles and responsibilities key to the transformation, including a core CX program team, an executive sponsor, an executive/steering committee, and cross-functional champions.

It’s this latter group – the cross-functional champions – that I’ll focus on now. To simplify, I’ll call them CX Champions.

What is a CX Champion?
A CX Champion is an employee who is engaged, loves the business and loves customers, and is enthusiastic about delivering a great experience for your customers. She knows the company’s vision, mission, and purpose well, and she lives the core values every day. She understands the CX vision, believes in the outcomes, and is committed to be a part of the transformation.

What other traits or qualities do CX Champions have?
They are well-respected and are often recognized as role models when it comes to customer service and customer experience. They are team players, work well with others, and have – or can build – strong cross-functional relationships. They are excellent communicators. They are influential in their departments and, perhaps, across the organization; they know people, the right people. They are leaders and add credibility to the transformation effort. They might or might not be managers, but they certainly have deep knowledge of their functional areas and how they mesh with other areas of the business, and they can hold others accountable for the work that needs to be done. They may have experience successfully executing change initiatives. And they are flexible and willing to learn.

That’s a lot! No, they are not unicorns. Trust me – these people exist in your organization!

What does the CX Champions team look like?
They are referred to as cross-functional champions because there should be representatives from each department on the team. This helps break down silos and allows for each department’s voice, feedback, and perspectives to be brought to the team and heard.

How many team members are there?

That depends on how many cross-functional departments you have. And if you’ve got multiple business units, is there a corporate shared services group from which you can pull folks? If not, be sure to get business unit representation, too. If you’ve got global office locations, you’ll want to consider representation across the globe.

Who does the CX Champions team report to?
Within the governance structure, the CX Champions team ideally reports to the core CX team, but they also get guidance and direction from the steering committee, who prioritizes and approves the various change initiatives on the docket.

Why do I need CX Champions?
There's a great quote from Benjamin Franklin that's so fitting here: Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn. Get employees involved in the process. When that happens, they feel like they're a part of it. Don't just force change on your employees; give them some ownership in the change. They'll be more accepting of it, without a doubt.

The core CX team can’t make the changes happen. The changes must be activated by your base, throughout the organization, by the people who are delivering the experience that needs to be improved. You’ll need folks who can take data and insights and operationalize them within their departments; they know best what needs to be done and how any changes or improvements connect to – and affect – other departments.

Think of the transformation as a grassroots effort. Use people throughout the organization to spread the word, make the changes, model the behavior, and more. According to a report from SAS and HBR: “A coordinated approach to customer experience management – and one that is built from the ground up – is more likely to take root. ‘You don’t want customer experience to sound like just another corporate initiative... the latest flavor of the week.’”

How do you find CX Champions?
There are at least two approaches to finding CX Champions. (1) You can set some parameters (see the traits outlined previously) and ask for volunteers; or (2) you can accept nominations based on those same traits, e.g., reputation, well-respected, team player, easy to work with, leader, change management knowledge or experience, department and inter-departmental knowledge, etc.

What is the CX Champion’s role?
CX Champions are change agents! They aren’t expected to do the work (though they might) but to influence and to motivate others. They facilitate and champion change initiatives. They are an extension of the core CX team because the core team is typically small and can’t be everywhere and do everything – and don’t have the cross-functional or departmental expertise or rapport/connections to get things done.

CX Champions are the voice of the customer and the voice of the employee; they advocate for customers and for employees and bring their voices to the core CX team and to the steering committee.

Communication with CX Champions is a two-way street: (1) they share feedback, insights, quick wins, and successes from the core CX team with their departments, but (2) they also share feedback, insights, learnings, quick wins or successes, changes made, etc. with the core CX team.

In addition, they:
  • role model and train fellow employees on customer-centric behaviors
  • spread CX vision and knowledge across the organization
  • help to align their fellow employees with the vision and the cause – rally the troops
  • tell the change story and teach others about the intended experience
  • inspire and motivate co-workers to become customer-focused and customer-centric
  • deliver brown bag lunches on the latest employee and customer experience findings
  • problem solve and brainstorm solutions for employee and customer issues
  • don’t necessarily implement the solutions (unless they can) – that’s left to the folks with the expertise to do so
  • map customer journeys
  • and more!
That sounds like it takes a lot of an employee’s time. Does it?
This role could take up about 20% of an employee’s time, but quite honestly, in the end, isn’t it all about the customer and the customer experience?! That’s what their jobs are, day in and day out: to serve the customer. Being a CX Champion translates to a more-focused and more-deliberate way that they work going forward.

For some, this role could take up a lot more time, maybe up to 50%, depending on the severity and the volume of issues, etc. In other words, how bad are things really? Don’t short change on time if that’s what is needed to get the job done right, right now.

In the second-part of this series, I'll answer questions about team meetings, empowering the CX Champions, and what training they'll need in order to take on this role.

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. -Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Annette Franz Accepted into Forbes Coaches Council

Annette Franz, founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc., a boutique customer experience strategy consulting firm, has been accepted into the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches.

Annette joins other Forbes Coaches Council members, who are hand-selected, to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on

Forbes Councils combines an innovative, high-touch approach to community management perfected by the team behind Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) with the extensive resources and global reach of Forbes. As a result, Forbes Council members get access to the people, benefits, and expertise they need to grow their businesses — and a dedicated member concierge who acts as an extension of their own team, providing personalized one-on-one support.

"I am always honored to be recognized for my work, and being invited into the Forbes Coaches Council is truly icing on the cake. Forbes Coaches are not only passionate about the work they do but also about helping others - and each other - succeed. I'm thrilled and grateful to be a part of this prestigious community, which will certainly continue to solidify my role as a thought leader in the fields of employee experience and customer experience coaching." -Annette Franz

Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils, says, "We are honored to welcome Annette into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world."

For more information about Forbes Coaches Council, visit To learn more about Forbes Councils, visit