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Peeples 2 People with Annette Franz

Apr 25, 2019

Donna: Hi everybody Donna Peeples here! Sorry we’re a few minutes late, but we’re here and live and in person and so happy you could join us today for Peeples 2 People, and I am so honored to have Annette Franz with me, I’ve been a devout follower of hers for a long time. She’s the CEO and Founder of CX Journey, I recommend you check it out, and recently, Annette, I was able to pick up on a webinar that you did and I found it fascinating, and it was it was about the Seven Deadly Sins of CX.

Annette: Yes, yes.

Donna: So, why don’t you, I mean where did that idea come from and how did you think about identifying those seven sins?

Annette: Well, first of all thank you for having me, I appreciate it, and to the folks who are watching us apologies for the delay, we have been trying for the last half hour to get our audio and video and everything aligned. So we are here now, so thank you for joining us.

Annette: Um, great question. So, for me, it was really one of those things where, you know, working with clients and figuring out that everyone seems to want to start in the middle or something. And I actually had a call with a potential client the other day and, you know, he was talking about the things that he was working on and I was like okay but do you have this, this, this, and this in place and he’s like, well no… – and I said if you don’t
have these things in place then forget about the rest of what you’re trying to do, because it’s all just really, you know, motions, movement.

Donna: Exactly.

Annette: But it’s not progress. So, that’s really where it came from. And I had seen something about the 7 Deadly Sins and I thought, oh my gosh, that’s exactly what this is – this is the 7 Deadly Sins of CX. If you don’t have these 7 things in place – if you don’t have this foundation then, you know, it’s going to fail. And really that’s what deadly sins are – they’re mortal sins, right? They’re really the origin of all other sins. So if you get these then…

Donna: What are, in your order, in your mind, what are the seven?

Annette: Okay, well, you know, I’m gonna put number one as being executive commitment or not having executive commitment. If you don’t have that, and, you know, and my gosh, let me tell you, I’ve been calling you for a long time too, so you know, this is a big one too. If you don’t have your executives, if you don’t have your CEO on board forget it you’re not gonna get anything done again. You’re just gonna be spinning your wheels, and you’re gonna have silos or you’re gonna have, like, little projects going on here or there, that really don’t make the big difference that you really want to make. So, number one is no executive commitment.

Annette: The other ones, you know, I think there’s, there’s an order here, but I think the second thing that I would say is that – even if you read and you see me talk about this on webinars and stuff I don’t necessarily put the other ones in any specific order – but as I’ve evolved over time I’ve kind of said alright number two really has to be about the culture, and it has to be about outside in thinking and not inside out thinking, and really what that’s all about is putting the customer into the customer experience. Being people centric and really bringing the voice of the customer, and bringing the customer into the products and the services that you design. And so I think that would be number two is your culture, you’ve got to have that culture in place.

Annette: Number three, you’ve got to have a vision and a strategy and that really comes from customer understanding, which is one of the other ones as well, so if you’re not grounded or rooted in customer understanding, which then leads to you developing your vision and your strategy, then you’re gonna fail as well.

Annette: Number, I guess that’s four, number five would probably be well, you know, the employee experience. Some of you, if employees are an afterthought then that’s definitely a problem. They cannot be an afterthought, you know, and we could talk about this more as we go through this conversation but the employees are so key to the customer experience. And anyone who doesn’t get that yet, it’s a problem, yes absolutely.

Annette: Number six, I would say, lack of a governance structure, you know? Honestly, I don’t know if I would order them this way except to say number one is executive commitment. Number six is lack of a governance structure because as a customer experience leader you’re not going to be doing all the work, right? You’re gonna be helping to bring that customer understanding into the organization, but then you’ve got to get that out into the organization, you’ve got to have people out there who are going to, I would say this grassroots groundswell. Your employees are going to have to be involved and they’re gonna have to do the work and be involved in that change and change process.

Annette: And then the last one is really not acting on what you learn, what you know, right? And you do all this work to understand your customers but then you do nothing with it, and I think there are so many companies who are stuck in that rut right now.

Donna: Yeah, I mean some days, I always joke and say, you know I felt like at times I was swimming in data and then other days I felt like I was drowning in it. And trying to sort through, and figure out what’s actionable, you know, it’s an issue for everybody, and everybody’s numbers are the right numbers, it just depends on who you ask.

Donna: So, go into that, and I know one of the things that you’re really, really good at is thinking about the overarching design of the customer’s experience, and so many times, like you said, it all kind of ties together. We get inside our focus group of one and we think we know best for the customer, so when you’re working with a client, how do you kind of take them through the process and think through what it is that’s connecting all the dots? Because I tell people all the time, I said, you know, here’s a newsflash, you know we think in those silos you’ve mentioned, we think about departments and functions but the customer always thinks about us as one company. So how do you get people to move on that?

Annette: So, there’s a couple of different things, and I think the ultimate answer here that I like, the tool and the process that I like to use is journey mapping, right? It really is because it’s a collaborative process, it’s a visualization, it’s a creative process, but it brings people together. You have to have people from the various parts of the organization that are involved in the experience that you’re mapping to really understand how they’re involved, and to share information and the shared data and to collaborate. So, I really think that journey mapping is the tool and the process that brings the organization together. That’s my opinion.

Donna: Well in your experience too, obviously, you’ve led a great many companies through this exercise and, you know, it fascinates me that, you know, this whole customer piece is new when the reality is for every business the customer has always been at the heart of a successful business. So, you know, one of
the things that I am totally with you on – and I’ve seen it so many times work for and against – is you talk about how important the employee experience is, you called it a foundation, for what you do moving forward. Talk to me about how you, and you talked about culture too, so how do you start to instill that in the companies that you’re working with?

Annette: Okay, so you asked me about 70 questions.

Donna: Well, I don’t get to talk to you as much as I’d like!

Annette: I know, I know. And by the way, for those watching – we could talk about this stuff all day long.

Donna: Absolutely! An extended webcast!

Annette: Exactly, exactly. So, let me just break that apart. So, let me start with the employee experience and I’ll come back to culture, although culture is really is sort of the core of it. So, in terms of the employee experience, and it’s funny because I have clients who come to me and say, ‘Hey Annette, we have this problem with our customers, with our customer experience’, and when I first start working with clients I typically do my own assessment because, yeah, like you said focus group of one, you know, so let’s just put that aside.

Annette: So I go and do interviews with the executive team, with employees, and with customers and what I come back with is, oh, by the way, if you fix the problems that you have with your employee experience you would solve probably 90% of what’s going on with the customer experience. And the way that I look at that is, really, in the definition of what employee experience is, right? It is very similar to the definition of customer experience, you know. It’s the sum of all the interactions that an employee has with their employer over the life of the relationship, but it’s also the actions and the capabilities – the enablers, the things that they have to do their job. And so the way that I’ve been talking about it lately is, you know, there’s these soft skills, or soft things that have to happen in the employee experience, but then there’s also these hard things. And both of them are enablers, the soft things – or blockers – so the soft things are the usual, right, like growth and development and feedback and power and leadership and communication and knowing that the leaders care and those kinds of things. And those are so important, but what I hear from employees when I do those interviews, is the hard stuff, the hard stuff that’s really what keeps them from delivering the experience that they want to deliver, and they tell me Hey, Annette, I don’t have the tools, the resources, the processes in place to serve my customers the way that I need to serve my customers, and those are words coming from the employees. So, your employees want to do it, they just don’t have the tools, the resources, and the processes, so that’s the hard stuff, the hard part of the employee experience. And those are the enablers, and the blockers, and those are the things that they need to have in order to deliver the experience that customers deserve.

Donna: That’s, you know, it’s always fascinated me, you know, I mean our representatives in, for example, the call center, you know, any kind of frontline contact typically are the least trained, you know, and I’m speaking generally here, some companies do a better job than others. But also are some of the lowest compensated in the company and it occurred to me one day – I was walking on the call center floor – that, you know, these people are representing the brand, as surely as the CEO on an earnings call but they do it every day, and so, you know, those perceptions are so critical and I just totally agree with you on the whole employee experience. And speaking to the employees and your customers in any different segment – I mean how important do you think this whole sweeping movement toward digital is in the scheme of things and trying to, you know,, maybe protect yourself against some of the deadly sins, without creating some of the problems that can come.

Annette: Well, here’s the interesting thing, is that one of the things I’ve seen with digital is people tend – and I don’t want to generalize, but this is what I’ve seen – is that they tend to look at the digital experience and the digital transformation outside of customer experience and the customer experience transformation, and really it’s a part of it, right? And so that’s how you’re going to – that’s actually a new deadly sin, right there. You can’t do that

Donna: There’s eight!

Annette: Yes, there’s more, but I was like, well that’s the original story, the original story is that there’s 7
but I know there are more than 7, right? But, so ,here’s what happens, you said it, you know, customers view your brand as your brand, one brand, a brand that has, you know, mobile, web, physical, you know, all of these things. They don’t view your brand as, over here’s a website and over here’s a store and over here’s a mobile app – it’s all one to them. So to look at digital separately from the entire customer experience strategy is a huge fail, absolutely.

Donna: And I think, you know, pulling those things together is both a challenge because, you know, I was fortunate enough to work with you on your e-book about the emergence of the CX leads and, you know, what I found is that, you know, everybody owns it and nobody owns it and it just depends on the circumstance. So, I think that’s an important thing that you bring to any organization you work with that, you know, there has to be accountability and ownership, you know, and you have to measure your results. So, what do you suggest, because I mean we could talk all day about navigating the politics of change, you know, inside organizations for sure, but, how do you think about getting everybody to the table and having the customer be part of the conversation? Whether, you know, a company is deciding to change a process, change the organizational structure, or invest in new technology, I mean all those things – how do you, how do you inspire that?

Annette: It’s key to bring the customer into all of that and to do it with the customer, right, to co-create with the customer otherwise, you know, what I would say what’s the purpose of being in business, right? The purpose is to create and nurture a customer and if we’re going to develop products, we’re going to develop services, and run a business without bringing the customer in to help us do that, then we’re gonna fail at some point, right? So, I always start with the three things that I say are all about customer understanding, right? Listen, characterize, and empathize, so listen as surveys and social media and all those kinds of things, right? Characterize personas, really understanding who our customers are, what their pain points are, what problems they’re trying to solve, what jobs are trying to do, all of those things, those are really critical. And then the journey map, empathize is journey mapping. And so when we have all of those things and we have all of that data and we’ve got other data too, you know, we have tons of other data, right, and that comes from all the breadcrumbs that we, as customers, leave behind; when we use the website, when we use the app, when we make purchases, when we call customer service, we have all of this data.

Annette: Your point about those CX leaders, right, is that person is the person that’s going to champion the customer throughout the organization. Now, that person can’t be everywhere so there are things that we can do to bring the customer into the organization, and into the decision-making processes and into meetings every day, right? Well, my favorite one is Jeff Bezos in the empty chair, you know, and I have seen clients adopt this and they do fun things with the chair, you know, they paint it, they put a bear on it, they put their personas on it, you know, those kinds of things. Whatever it is to have the customer right there, you know?

Annette: Customer room, customer room is an awesome way – I call it customer shrine because…

Donna: Oh!

Annette: Yes.

Donna: I like that!

Annette: You walk into the room and it’s all about the customer, it’s your part personas, it’s the listening that you’ve done, it’s the journey maps, it’s a way for employees to see and think about the customer every single day. Streaming those feedbacks and the data and the journey maps and all of that on your mind – every office has monitors throughout, you know? Keep it flowing and sharing it throughout. Having personas and cut out some of real customers with their feedback, their verbatim throughout the office.

Annette: There was a fun – here in Southern California it used to be the headquarters or an office for Stanley Black & Decker and they had this fun thing where they had, throughout their offices, they had footprints – so actually walking in your customer’s shoes. And so was footprints along the hallway and then up on the wall, what it led to, was some feedback from a customer or some customer persona or something. But it was really cool because you walk through the halls of the offices and the customer was there always.

Donna: That’s beautiful.

Annette: Yeah, so there’s a lot of ways to bring – and as the CX team, or as, you know, the governance, the CX champions throughout the organization, their roles are to sit in meetings and always make sure that as decisions are made and conversations are had, that the customer is always brought into that always and, you know, their voice is always brought in to everything we do. So, there are a lot of different ways to do that but it’s so key to keep that momentum going and, you know, years ago I worked for Fidelity and the president, whenever he did his quarterly town halls, he would always start off with stories about the customer, stories about the employees. So, again it is really also comment on the executives to keep those
stories flowing in their meetings as well.

Donna: Yeah, the challenge is there’s 10,000 other things that are pulling on the employees and the leadership so, you know, continuing to make that a priority I think is a challenge.

Annette: Yeah, absolutely. And, like I said, you know, it’s why we’re in business, right? I saw a funny quote the other day, it was, you know, because the, the flipside of the purpose of a business is to create and nurture customers, is the purpose of the businesses to maximize shareholder value and then in the interview that I saw, in the video I saw, the gentleman who was speaking was like, “Yes, because what motivates people is saying ‘hey, let’s go to work today to make rich people richer'”. And that’s what maximizing shareholder value is all about! I love that. I thought that is perfect.

Donna: That’s great. Well, Annette, you’re talking about personas and, you know, all customers are not created equal but, you know, I come from a space where there was very simplistic segmentation, you know, it might be consumer, commercial, industrial, you know, just as big broad categories, but now, I mean, it’s getting harder and harder to put people in categories – so, we’re talking about people here, and so, you know, instead of having a mass-market it’s almost become a market of mass niches, right? So, the challenge is how do you satisfy everybody all the time and then, beyond that, you know, I know, you know, we’ve talked before about, you know, omni-channel, multi-channel and that, you know, horse has been beaten to death and it’s been an aspirational kind of conversation but now because everybody wants everything they want, when they want it thanks to the likes of Amazon and Netflix and, you know, we’ve been trained to expect that but with some of the organization’s – I know that I’ve worked for and that you work with – you know, that’s not an easy thing to accomplish. So, you know, thinking about being – and I like to say it’s not enough to be always on anymore – you know, everybody had a website but if you can’t accomplish anything, you know, how are you on demand as one of these enterprise businesses – a lot of which are very highly regulated that there’s more and more – and I want to hear what you have to say about the trade-off between our personal information and the ability to get what we want, when we want it. But how do you think about this whole omni-channel, multi-channel and the expectations – and the customers in control!

Annette: Yeah, yeah. So, there’s an interesting – you just made an interesting point there the customers in control. So, my last Forbes article was about do customers really want to be in control and I don’t think so. So, I’m gonna address that first though – again you asked me, said like 70 things.

Donna: Perfect! I’m trying to ring as much out of you and I can well I got you!

Annette: So, in that article I talk about, you know, do customers really want to be in control and I don’t think so. I think, because, if you think about it – and this goes back to sort of the data and the personas and all that – customers want experiences that are personalized, that are relevant, that are convenient, that are simple, that are effortless, you know, you name it, the list goes on but it’s, you know. But when we say that customers are in control or want control that’s not simple, that’s not effortless, that’s not convenient, that says that the customers telling us how to do things and is, you know, pointing the fingers and all that. I think a better way to say it is that they want a participative role in the experience, right? They don’t want to be in control, they want to tell you what to do. Yes, we will happily provide feedback, we will happily provide feedback because we want you to survive, we love doing business with you, or we have to do business with you, so I’m gonna provide feedback and want you to continue and we want you to continue to succeed but we don’t want to be in control. So, it’s really more of a participative kind of thing so that when it’s that, then it becomes something that’s a little bit more effortless and simple and we choose to do that because we want to do that. Being in control feels like, you know, we have to do that because you’ve made a mess of this situation and we HAVE to do this, you know, so that’s my view on putting the customer in control.

Donna: That’s interesting.

Annette: Okay, so what else was there – I’m still going back to the first time you asked me 70 questions which was about getting culture in there too. So, omni-channel – so omni-channel and that that experience is really about two important things, right, technology and data. And you mentioned it there’s regulation, there’s all of these kinds of things that limit, there’s legacy technology, there’s all of these things that really – and with mergers and acquisitions there’s a ton of different, disparate systems that need to be tied together. So, really that’s going to be the key is to be able to simplify that and centralize that and have sort of – and it’s going to be years before a lot of these companies can ever get to a place where they replace all of that legacy technology. In the meantime they’ve got to figure out how to, how to bring all of the data together. Everything that they know about every single customer and in such a way that they can then use it to personalize the experience. So, now the thing about personas too, is that, you know, to your point, you know, in the past we talked about segments and markets and all those things it’s, that’s like way too high level to design an experience. But if we focus on the personas and we get down to the level of these different personas that have different, you know, each persona is going to have different needs, pain points, jobs to do, problems to solve, that’s sort of the heart of the CX design persona, the CX persona. So, that gets us to a place where we can design the experience at a more personalized level, not at the, you know, segment level, but at a more personalized level, and then taking that data that we have on each individual customer, like I just talked about, and bringing it in to further hone that experience to be more personalized to that individual. So, it’s really about data and technology and how we use that to facilitate the experience that customers want to have.

Donna: Wonderful, well, you know, we’re living in this world where, you know, you could argue that technology is moving faster than ever and it’s only going to accelerate, you know? We used to do five-year planning – I don’t know what five years looks like now! But, you know, in the midst of all that we have some new technologies that have come into play and designed, in a lot of ways, to better serve the customer, or be more predictive and proactive, or on-demand like we talked about. So, how are you thinking about this future world? What does the future of, not only work for employees that are dealing with customers look like, but there’s a lot of talk about AI, there’s a lot of talk about Internet of Things, there’s, you know, all these things going on that are surely gonna impact businesses and the customer. How are you thinking and how are you kind of looking forward at those developments?

Annette: So, two things: first one is, and I’ll put this one on a shelf for a second, is about CX and the CX view on the, like a CX team’s view, on the outcome – back to that in a second. The other part of it is, it’s inevitable, right, it’s happening, it’s already happening and if you’re not already doing it, if you’re not already using it you’re already behind the times, right? So, your point, five year planning, was that, you know?

Donna: I’m just learning about tomorrow!

Annette: I know, right, we can barely cover that! So, and that actually leads to my point about the CX work. And I had worked in the past for a predictive prescriptive analytics firm and when we went and talked to the CX folks about this – what it does and what it can do and what it can do for you to simplify as a CX professional your job. But then, you know, think about what it can do for customers, it was just blank, blank stares, you know, and it was oh no, I have my spreadsheets and my quad charts and my, you know, and my NPS, I have this, and it’s like, we have to get out of that mindset, you know. We have to, you know, stop getting in our own way because it’s like I said, it’s here and we need to be and it makes us more efficient, it makes us do our jobs in a way that ultimately is better, leads to a better experience for the customer.

Annette: So yeah, I mean, ultimately my view is it’s here. We need to just figure out – I think going back to your point about how it’s not creepy and how it’s not, you know, there’s some boundaries – and I know just in the last week or so something came out about the Echo and how conversations are, you know, listened to – yeah exactly and we’ve all had some of those weird experiences. My experience was, I was on my iPhone, you know, and I was having a conversation with a client about the shoes that she had on and where she bought them and those exact same shoes with an ad from Nordstrom – which is where she bought them – showed up on my Instagram feed later that day and so, you know, stuff like that. But are we okay with that, you know that’s your point about sharing data and how much of it will we give up and how much will we allow them to listen so that we can have that experience? I don’t mind giving my data, I do mind being listened to, I don’t want to be listened to.

Donna: Do you think it’s, because I have, I consider myself a little bit of an expert on Millennials because I gave birth to two! So, I’m wondering, you know, because I look at my parents, my parents are much less willing than I am to give up information and my children are just like livin’ large out there, you know, I mean. But I am seeing the trend toward my mom, my mom and dad are retired and my mother is out there on social she’s got an opinion about everything – so I’m just wondering what are you seeing out there? Is there this generational divide or are we all – because if we want to talk to our grandchildren or our relatives we’ve got to learn how to text, I mean, my girls don’t answer the phone. So, how do you think about those kind of divides and how to bridge them?

Annette: Yeah, well, I think we need to introduce your mom to my mom, cause it’s the same thing, right?

Donna: We’ll do that!

Annette: She has an opinion that she shares on Facebook – I remember when she first joined Facebook – and, as a matter of fact, I wonder if she’s watching because she – when I shared this on Facebook this morning – hi, Mom, if you are! I remember when my mom first joined Facebook a couple years ago I was like, oh my gosh, everybody behave, my mom is on Facebook now, so but, yes. And I have 2 teenagers so, I’ve got two Gen Z’s, so I see both ends of that spectrum as well. And it’s completely different, it is. And so, again, when we go back to developing our personas and we’re using the data to really – and we, you know, this is why customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer centricity, right? We have to use that data to really understand our customers so we can deliver that the experience that they expect, you know. So, I think that’s at the root of it.

Donna: Well absolutely, and Annette I am so sad to say we are at the end of our time today. We’ve gone a little bit over but we do want to talk again to you, such a wealth of information, always insightful and delightful! And I wanted to invite everybody to go to your website at it’s been a great resource for me as I navigated the treacherous waters of customer experience. And then also invite
everybody to your Twitter, once a week you do CX chat and I think it’s fascinating to watch and listen and hopefully participate and share some insights. It’s just a great forum with some influencers like yourself so..

Annette: Thank you so much.

Donna: You’re welcome.

Annette: I appreciate you bringing that up, it’s at 11am Pacific time on Wednesdays, so just follow the CX chat hashtag. And, yeah, absolutely, the more we share, the more we talk to each other and help each other and I think that’s one of the things about CX professionals is that we are all sort of in this together and do want to help each other out. So, thank you so much for having me, and yes, I’m a fan of yours so thank you for all that you do I really appreciate it. Thanks for having me today.

Donna: You’re welcome and today’s Peeples 2 People was brought to you by Pypestream Digital Labs and don’t forget to visit us on we are the leading provider of conversational AI to the enterprise world. So, thanks so much and Annette, always good to see you.

Annette: Thank you