To have any credibility when talking with others about how “customer experience” can improve a business, it’s an obvious understatement to say that leading by example – understanding their issues and what they value – is imperative.
And so hosting an event on the subject, quite rightly, sets the bar of expectations very high.
That’s the position Ian Golding and I were in this week in London when we held Custerian’s seminar on “Your journey to map their journey”. In its simplest form, the aim is to share our knowledge about the strategic, operational and tactical side of customer experience so that attendees know what to do next, why and how in order to bring about quick but lasting change.
We always say that the right customer experiences and obsessive attention to the basics helps create the holy grail of differentiation – it was time to put our money where our mouth is and do things a little bit differently.
In the week leading up to the seminar, I spoke with each delegate individually. I wanted to understand more about their motivations for attending, why now was the right time, what their challenges were and what they wanted out of the day. It meant that the seminar would only cover relevant ground.
A similar discussion happens in the weeks after the seminar; I speak to, or visit, everyone who attended (with their teams if it’s appropriate) and talk about how they are getting on implementing what they learnt within their organisation.
But for the day itself, the last thing we wanted was a “turn up and be talked at” windowless conference in the bowels of an obscure hotel somewhere. We’ve all been there and we all don’t like it.
Our location of choice was WallaceSpace in Covent Garden. It’s an old chandelier factory but has been turned into the most fantastic venue – light and airy, calm but funky, relaxed but professional. We could have found somewhere else, but our basic expectations are for a good environment in which people can learn and be thought-provoking. Windows, fresh coffee, an energetic vibe, sofas for break-out sessions and friendly staff are not much to ask but are a lot to be without. If they did an NPS survey on our delegates and us, they’d be getting 9s and 10s.
At a pace everyone was comfortable with, we explored the Why, What and How of mapping customer journeys. Why is customer experience important to a business strategy? Attendees were shown the consequences of having – and not having – prioritised activity based on creating a clear line of sight from what the customer experience should be, though the customer strategy, brand strategy, business objectives and to the reason the business exists in the first place.
What do we do next? The middle section was the nuts and bolts of journey mapping; about proven methods, robust frameworks and reliable measurement to give fact-based insights about what needs changing. And the final piece, How do we make change happen? looked at how to be organised with the right governance structure and examples of how companies are working internally to bring their customer experiences to life.
Yes, I’m blowing our own trumpet a little but it’s coming from a position of genuine pride in how we do what we do and not sales-led arrogance. The feedback we had plays a better tune anyway, and so here are some of the comments (and not just because of the moleskin notepad and sweets we provided!)
“Enthused. Educated in a practical approach” SD
“Excited to go back to base and spread the word” RS
“Informative and a clear, concise strategy and framework on how to map the customer journey and the importance and benefits of doing so” HT
“Content – spot on. Learned some great tips & techniques to help me embark on my own journey” DH
“Felt inspired by the knowledge shared. Allowed me to think about the bigger picture and generate ideas” GF
Did we lead by example? Well, these comments suggest we got a lot of things right but we’re also very aware that there’s always room for improvement as that bar of expectations edges ever higher. The proof will be in the way of thinking and in the ability of these customer experience practitioners to go back to their office and understand the journeys they themselves and their company are on; to understand the journey their customers and colleagues are on and then to talk with authority and credibility within and across functions to bring about the change their organisation needs.
And not least, there’s a huge opportunity to be recognised as the one who is the catalyst for creating greater value from having the right customer focus; not a bad conversation to have in the year-end performance reviews.
We’ll be running the seminar programme again soon so tell us if it’s something you’d be interested in. But also let us know what you think about the best and worst events you’ve attended and why. It will be great to hear your thoughts on leading by example.