Jeanne Bliss: Forward Focused Episode 14

By November 20, 2019 Pypestream Digital Labs

Evan Kohn

Welcome to Forward Focused brought to you by Pypestream Digital Labs, a thought series on customer experience, artificial intelligence, and enterprise automation. I’m Evan Kohn from Pypestream and I’m talking with Jeanne Bliss.

Jeanne Bliss is the Founder and President of the organization CustomerBliss and the Co-Founder of The Customer Experience Professionals Association. She is one of the foremost experts on customer-centric leadership and pioneered the role of the Chief Customer Officer, holding the first-ever CCO role at Lands’ End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker and Allstate. She’s driven achievement of 95% loyalty rates, improving CX across 50,000 person organizations. Jeanne’s the author of Chief Customer Officer as well as Chief Customer Officer 2.0. She also wrote I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad. And her most recent book is titled Would You Do That to Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers. Jeanne travels the world as a keynote speaker and has appeared in major media outlets such as Fast Company, Forbes and MSNBC.

Jeanne, great to have you with us!

Jeanne Bliss

Thank you, thank you. Sorry, about that long long introduction.

Evan Kohn

Well, props, Jeanne on such creative books, I love it.

Jeanne Bliss

Oh yeah! A little insane, right? Well yeah! Especially that mom book, I thought we needed to simplify things for people because CX is everywhere right now.

Evan Kohn

Exactly! Well, makes sense and I look forward to diving into those and number of topics that you’ve covered on the speaking circuit and in your books. So, Jeanne, you’re considered one of the foremost experts on customer-centric leadership, the role of Chief Customer Officers. What qualities do you think are imperative for people who take on this role especially for really large organizations like those that you’ve led?

Jeanne Bliss

Well, good question. I actually spent a lot of time on that in my first CCO book and it’s been a theme ever since. A couple of key things are, know the power core of your organization. The power core is the part of the organization where the language and the understanding is most natural if you’re a leader, sometimes if you’re a founder based company it’s the founder because you need to dance with the power core of the organization to get the first inroads. So, for example, Microsoft it was very much about the product. In automotive it’s about marketing and then possibly sales. In insurance it was very much the vertical of insurance and then sales. So, know the power core of your company. Most importantly you need to ring the bell of the money guys. This has got to be about growth, it’s not about gross growth, but it’s about earning the right to growth; one of the key things that I’m an advocate of is doing simple customer math and measuring the volume and value of incoming and outgoing customers so you know the net asset growth of your customer. The other thing that’s important is you’ve got to be a chameleon. Every part of the organization you talk to is going to need to hear and understand and be engaged in a different way. And then and there’s many more – I have ten key ones but the other big one is, check your ego at the door. This work is unlike any other silo-based mission somebody out there might have had. it’s not about your metrics and are facilitating your goals, it’s about uniting the organization, enabling them to see the ah-ha lights, and creating new possibilities and then moving out of the spotlight to enable the leaders to earn it and to drive it and to grow the business in that manner.

Evan Kohn

And Jeanne, how does a company know if they need a Chief Customer Officer? Could any organization really use one? And also is there a risk of assuming that you know once a Chief Customer Officer is in place, CX is now assumed to be covered but perhaps in name only. Can you say more about that?

Jeanne Bliss

Absolutely! So, what’s important to me as I look at work with organizations is not to blanket stamp that you must have a Chief Customer Officer but more the bigger evaluation you need to make is how do you work together? Are you able to unite the silos? And perhaps you need a group of people building a new normal for how you work together. Because the real point of a Chief Customer Officer is uniting the silos, creating one common framework for the blueprint for driving growth and earning the ability to meet customer’s goals and embedding competencies and skills into the organization. My goal, actually, when I work with Chief Customer Officers is for them to overtime work their way out of that role and into a higher role, such as CEO in many cases, COO we’re seeing them really moving into operational roles, because what we’re finding is, it’s about the true customer-driven organizations are embedding these skills inside of the business but that doesn’t mean that for a period of time you may need that glue. All companies in many cases are built around silos. That’s not a bad thing, but for a period of time, you may need that glue and I think that’s where a Chief Customer Officer or a group of people who are facilitating that work really add value.

Evan Kohn

Well as someone who has years of experience improving enterprise’s customer service – for someone who’s just venturing into this space or just starting a CX initiative, what’s your advice for them? What are some of the first things they need to address to make sure they have their bases covered?

Jeanne Bliss

Sure, well I call these things the competencies, that, you know, is your opportunity to build the business and they’re in this order for a purpose. The first is honor and manage customers as assets. Do that math, you know, I like to involve the CFO, the CEO and another “C” level person in establishing a simple, irrefutable metric about did you earn more customers and you lost in the most recent quarter month or year, and what we find then is, you know, one version of the truth as a result of the experience you’re delivering. So that’s really one of the very first things that I recommend people to do. The second is to don’t boil the ocean, find a focus area or a focused leader and take these skills and learn them in an iterative way. What we find is if we do sprints, it makes a lot of sense. So for example, we will build out the entire journey but we may focus on one portion of it. Building out the goals of the customer, I’m actually calling them goals versus journey stages these days because the customer doesn’t necessarily experience you in stages, they try to achieve their goals with you. You may focus on one and learn how to teach the organization but I’d say those are two big things engage in building the customer’s asset, build your customer blueprint and create a common language and common accountability around the life, and then focus. Focus on something, learn the skills, market hope back to the organization and then iterate. And then the other thing, sorry, I need to mention this is, is also bring your employees along as a major part of that because what’s on the inside shows up on the outside. As I interview people for my own podcast show, the last question I always ask is, “What do you know now that you wish you knew then?” And many many have said they wish they had brought the employee journey along earlier.

Evan Kohn

Well, we’ve talked on this show about the examples of companies that do seem to really get it when it comes to customer experience. There are also those that are – that continue to be laggards that are just playing catch up. In your view, Jeanne, what are some of the benefits in improving customer experience for customers? And also you brought up impact on employees, what are some of those benefits that improved CX can have on the rest of the company, whether its employees or management?

Jeanne Bliss

Well, this work is about building your growth engine. You know, what’s interesting is as we call it CX in a way, we inadvertently silo-tize it. This is a choice and it’s about leadership, about making a deliberate choice about what you will do to grow and what you won’t do to grow. And so my assertion, in what we’ve seen in the best companies, is that it also forms the legacy of your company. When you are deliberate and clear and consistent, it also creates a true blueprint and framework, I call them your non-negotiables or what you will or will not do to grow and it lifts people’s spirits up when you are growing in a manner that’s congruent with how they want to act in their own personal life. And so I think it’s critical that people look at this work as the operating engine of the business and not something separate from the business. And I quite honestly have to say that’s what we’re at risk with now of the way that this work is being defined.

Evan Kohn

In your most recent book and I’ll say the title again because I love it, Would You Do That to Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers. Jeanne, you present some case studies of how companies can turn gotcha moments into we’ve got your back moments. Can you tell us what, what’s your favorite case study or maybe one that you would have liked to include but didn’t make it in?

Jeanne Bliss

Oh my gosh! There’s so many of them that I would love to have included, I don’t remember all of them off the top of my head but one of the very, there’s a couple of favorites that I have – one of the ones I really love, which is in the chapter around enabling customers to achieve their goals it’s called, “put others before yourself” each of the chapters are momisms, is there’s a consortium of doctors and actually retail outlets that enable the doctors to write healthy food and vegetable prescriptions for the people in the community who couldn’t otherwise afford good food and I think that’s just so astounding. Another healthcare company has created their version of OpenTable for their emergency room, that’s in the chapter, “Don’t make me feed you soap”, where, you know, make it easier. Why are we making people sit in the waiting room? When we, if we know our traffic flow and for non-emergency things let them just kind of tick off when they’re going to come in. One of the favorites that people love is in the chapter around, “Take the High Road” and this is around leadership bravery and it’s removing again these got you moments, you know, how many of us have, you know, cracked open the $7 of bottle of water in the middle of the night because we’ve been parched but we know we’re going to just feel so upset with ourself in the morning. And Virgin Hotels, in an offshoot of the great Richard Branson Virgin Organization, they decided to get rid of all the bad habits that exist in hotels that someone filled a spreadsheet on to get a little bit more money out of people’s pockets, instead they’ve chosen to earn their growth through service. And they have, you know, they got rid of the high prices on the minibar, they do something called street pricing where, you know, if a Snicker bar cost you a $1.50 at the corner market, where you’re staying it’s going to cost you a buck-fifty there. They don’t charge you for room service and they don’t charge for Wi-Fi. [They] consider Wi-Fi right not a revenue stream. So, those are just a few in the book but they’re all about this really deliberateness.

Evan Kohn

Well, I think I’m an example of someone who’s taken that swig of $7 bottle of water without realizing it. But I’m certainly all for Wi-Fi being included with any stay. And Jeanne, it seems like ‘Make Mom Proud’ is not only a book but has become a movement. What was the impetus to launch this and what kind of response have you seen from the public?

Jeanne Bliss

Well, you know, I’ve been doing this work for thirty-five years. What happens when something like this becomes CX, you know, we start focusing on the mechanics of it, journey mapping, BOC and I wanted to push people out of that, the land of mechanics and into the meaning of the work, which there’s a human at the end of your decision. We want to be a part of companies whose behavior is in line with our own and whether your mother is your favorite person or your favorite aunt feels like a mom to you, who better than a mom to make you kind of imagine what you’re doing to that person. So, this is really a simplification but a very operational ready book, it’s a total tool kit, organized in the four areas that impact our lives as customers so you can feel it and then do something about it, without boiling through fifty thousand pounds of butter, boiling the ocean, it’s got thirty-two action steps you can take right away with very little cost.

Evan Kohn

Well, looking back at all that experience, curious though, I wanted to ask you, what are some out-dated customer experience strategies that you see still persist with companies, you know, ones maybe that might have worked twenty years ago but with really shifting consumer expectations around service and experience that just might be out-dated today?

Jeanne Bliss

Sure. Well, you know, what we’re seeing is an understanding that customers don’t see their experience with you as one thing, you know, it’s not the call center experience or they kind of it all gets, you know, jumbled together in their perception of you, who you are as people and how you are really organized or how you really care about them or not. And so, you know, we’re still seeing sometimes people thinking of service as the response and as experience. When in fact, service is in many cases a reactive response to problems that are created because of the operation, the inverse operation of the silos doing that work, their work separately. We’re also seeing a movement away from metrics that don’t make as much sense to the customer like talk time and other things but, you know, there are still some behavior that’s existing in the marketplace of some businesses that are feeling squeezed and instead of figuring out how to earn their growth in another way, they’re squeezing the customer and doing the nickel-diming or adding on for services and things. We are not recognizing customers value, you know, how many of us have seen a great offer from a telecom, a better offer for new customers than you know, for your existing customer. So, we’re still doing some bloopers out there, you know, I identify them in a nice way, I call it, “tough love wrapped in velvet”. But you know, it’s these things inadvertently seep into an organization, you know, there is nobody running a business who doesn’t want to be kind to customers, who doesn’t want to do the right thing but we’re quarterly inclined and organizations are trying to shift, you know, as we read about recently there’s a group of CEOs who are recognizing that it’s not the market, it’s not the board, it’s the focus on the customer that’s going to drive those outcomes. But that’s a pretty evolved point of view and I think that we and others need to catch up with that and that’s going to drive, how people are rewarded, how leaders drive accountability and the ability for people to work together. So that’s why I said this is about your operating strategy as a business. It’s certainly not, you know, one department swooping in and being the fix-it company.

Evan Kohn

Well, you bring out the human element, the importance of kindness in parallel to, yes, the numbers that so many executives are tracking on a quarterly basis. Adrian Swinscoe, who was our first guest on this show. We’ve heard him talk a lot about that in the context of so many CX leaders becoming obsessed with analytics to the point of almost losing the sense of that human factor and I’m certainly paraphrasing him there. But we all know how important data is, I mean it’s everywhere within large enterprises, informs so many company decisions. How should brands be using data to measure the success or failure of their customer strategy?

Jeanne Bliss

Well again, I’m a broken record around the customer is the asset. You know, at the end of the day, it’s your customer voting with their feet did they stay and buy more from you or add more lines of business or did they and leave and start telling others about you. Certainly, I’m an advocate of listening but I love aggregating multiple sources of listening, you know, aggregate your social media feedback, your call center feedback, your verbatims from your surveys, show people screenshots of what your customer went through and then you certainly can talk about that metric, that survey metric, but this work is really got to be about moving people to understand the story of your customer’s lives. So if we can unite enough information so that people don’t need to go cherry picking on dashboards, but rather are told the story and we understand the operational KPIs from the customer’s point of view and we recognize and manage those on a daily basis the rest will come. But often we’re measuring the wrong KPIs, so I’d say, you know, Key Performance Indicators you know, are you measuring when you’re done with your paperwork in calling a green dot or are you measuring when the customer has really you know, resolved their claim in their car, their shiny new car all fixed is back in their driveway. You know, remember when the airplanes used to pull away from the gate and call it an on-time departure but then we sat there for thirty minutes, that’s a bad metric. And we still are measuring internal metrics that are about us and again that’s a big part of the work that’s underfoot right now.

Evan Kohn

Well, we also like to cover technology trends on this show. When it comes to technology around customer strategies, what are some of the pivotal types of technology that you’ve seen companies leverage to improve customer experience?
Jeanne Bliss: You know, one of the most important things is what I call behavioral and operational listening. So, you know, we tend to want to ask the customer how did we do but especially in a SasS based business or other business where your customer data and behavior is inside your database. You can see how many times they’ve called your call center or you can see if they’ve downloaded or operationalized piece of software. You can understand from their behavior whether engagement is increasing or decreasing. We should be trending and watching that. Additionally, we should be operationally watching our KPIs and other things. The other thing that I think is important but it needs to be part of an enabling strategy and not its own, and this is a part and parcel of it, is this whole notion of AI, but AI for the sake of building what I call a respect delivery machine. If we are recognizing and understanding customer behavior, knowing the trigger points, when we fail them inadvertently, then we should be able to harness and put that together with a way to respond or way to get out ahead of it. My fear, just cautionary tale on that is don’t make AI for AIs sake. It needs to be, have a purpose and be an enabler.

Evan Kohn

Absolutely, it’s all about driving business objectives at the end of the day right? And I love, I love that notion of respect delivery machine, that’s great.

Jeanne Bliss

Yes, that’s a big part of the second big chapter in the mom book, it’s, you know, “Don’t make me feed you soap, build a respect delivery machine”.

Evan Kohn

And looking ahead to 2020 and even beyond, what are some of the key trends you see happening in customer experience?

Jeanne Bliss

What I’m focusing leaders on is how they want to be remembered. Think about at the end of the day, how do you want to be defined as people? Are you really clear about your purpose and how you want to say customers have improved your life? What are your goals? Then know that, does everybody in your organization know that. So you can build it and then live it. I think these are three of the fundamental things that are not occurring as we’re going out from this work in doing whack a mole. And without these foundational things, long term sustainable transformation, it just won’t stick. So for me, I am very much focusing on that especially starting, I have a new website launching very soon and don’t want to give it away but there will be some really fun, new, really interesting pivots on how people can think about their role as a leadership transformers inside their organization.

Evan Kohn

Fantastic! Well, we’ll look forward to that we’ll leave it there. Jeanne Bliss, thank you for joining us. Where can our listeners find you?

Jeanne Bliss

Well, Evan thanks for having me. I am at my website. I married a guy named Bliss, how crazy is that? So customerbliss.com, it’s all there.

Evan Kohn

Thank you again, Jeanne. Listeners, thank you for tuning in, you can access more Pypestream Digital Labs content at pypestream.com/insights. We hope you join us for the next Forward Focused podcast.

 

Check out Episode 13 with Blake Morgan here.

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