Building an Irresistible Brand: The Link Between Employee Engagement and Customer Service

Building an Irresistible Brand: The Link Between Employee Engagement and Customer Service

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Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify with host Stacy Sherman
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Are you struggling to engage your employees to consistently deliver customer excellence? Are company silos getting in your way of aligning teams and exceeding business goals? If yes, this episode will be incredibly valuable to you as host Stacy Sherman and renowned HR industry expert and author Josh Bersin unveil the secrets of the world’s most enduring employee-focused organizations.

You’ll gain insights to foster a work environment that attracts and retains top talent. Likewise, you’ll learn practical strategies and tactics for building an irresistible brand that starts with creating enjoyable employee experiences that fuel exceptional customer outcomes.

Topics Discussed:

  • The origin of silos and hierarchical organizations in companies
  • The need for interconnectedness and ways to break down silos in businesses
  • Redefining functional areas and organizing them around customers
  •  How employee engagement impacts customer experiences and how to align a team with the company’s customer service goals
  •  What  Bosch Power Tools did to achieve retention and growth, along with other case studies
  •  Lessons on leadership and the importance of listening
  • The Pandemic’s effect on job layoffs and employee burnout and what to do about it
  • Fun facts about Josh Bersin and what he’d tell his younger self. Awesome advice that you can apply now.

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About Josh Bersin:

Building An Irresistible Brand Based on Employee Engagement and Customer Service

Industry analyst Josh Bersin focuses on the global talent market, trends, and technologies impacting workforces across all industry segments. His research is featured in publications such as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, Economic Times, Financial Times, and Washington Post. He published his book Irresistible in 2022. The Josh Bersin Company provides a wide range of research and services for HR leaders and teams; the Josh Bersin Academy, which today has approximately 30,000 members, offers 22 cohort-based programs for HR professionals.

Learn more: website, LinkedIn

About Stacy Sherman: Founder of Doing CX Right®‬

Customer experience and marketing global keynote speaker, journalist, co-author of two books, coach and host of the award-winning DoingCXRight podcast. Known for her Heart & Science™ framework that produces profitable clients and brand loyalty–fueled by an empowered workforce. Stacy’s been walking the talk for 25 years as a strategist and practitioner at companies of all sizes and industries, i.e., Liveops, Verizon, Schindler Elevator Corp, Wilton Brands, and AT&T. She’s also a board advisor at multiple universities, featured in Forbes and other top-rated publications. Her Why/ Mission: Cultivating meaningful, authentic relationships and experiences so people have more fulfillment in business and life. Contact Stacy for DOING CX RIGHT, not just TALKING about it. Continue reading bio >here.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Building an irresistible brand: The Link Between Employee Engagement and Customer Service

Stacy Sherman: Hello, Josh Bersin. Welcome to the Doing CX Right Show.

Josh Bersin: Hello, Stacy. Thank you for inviting me. Well,

Stacy Sherman: I am in love with your content that is all over the web, and so I am especially grateful to be able to have this conversation with you and help inform people on such important topics that will get to, but before we do, please share: Who are you, what do you do professionally?

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[00:00:43] Josh Bersin: Who am I? Uh, who are you? I guess, I guess I define myself as an, as an industry analyst, and my primary, um, domain is all of the aspects of human resources, which touches work. Work, technologies, management, leadership, recruiting, leadership development, training, blah blah, pay on and on and on.

[0:01:08] Which of course has a big impact on customers, as you know. Yes. Because if employees are not happy, customers are not happy. So indirectly, we have a lot to do with customers

[00:01:17] Stacy Sherman: too. I love that you said that because I’ve worked with a lot of human resource and other departments and they’re often like, I don’t own the customer experience.

[00:01:28] And I’m like, yes you do. Let me explain to you why. So it’s really important and I wanna emphasize what you just said, and we’ll do more of that. Why your passion around these topics.

[00:01:42] Josh Bersin: Well, um, you know, I stumbled into this. I worked for about 20 years as a, as a sales, marketing and product person in the West Coast before I got into this.

[00:01:51] And initially I focused on training the online learning industry. And what I realized is that the most important practices in business, Have to do with people. And every single problem that you will ever have in business is a people problem. Uh, whether it be technology, innovation, sales, marketing, competition, you know, research.

[00:02:18] I mean, all of these things that companies do, including, of course, the whole customer experience revolve around people issues. And when I got to know HR in the late, you know, early two thousands, late 1990s, I didn’t know much about it. And I was surprised at how many of the things that HR people were doing were rooted in ancient practices from hundreds of years ago, which is why I wrote this book, by the way.

[00:02:45] And so what I’ve really done in my role, in my mission, really, is to try to teach HR people and discover better ways of, of taking care of people in the business environment, in an organization and work. And this has been accelerated through the pandemic, so, HR is, is a very strategic part of companies in most organizations, not all.

[00:03:06] And you know, it’s been really, you know, rewarding for me to be part of this profession and supporting it because HR people, to me, are some of the hardest working, most passionate people I’ve ever run across in the business world. So, That’s my thing.

[00:03:22] Stacy Sherman: Yes. And I love also the fact that you’re helping to bring the human back to human resources because some companies and human resource departments I’ve worked with, Is almost like a finance department.

[00:03:40] I didn’t feel the human. I felt just the finance. Right. And they have such a big opportunity to feel more human, and especially in the world of emerging technology.

[00:03:53] Josh Bersin: Well, you know, and, and, and I, not only do I agree with that, but I’ve learned it day by day more and more and more. I’m, I’m an engineer and sort of a math type person by background.

[00:04:04] And what I’ve realized, and I, and this could, you know, this, I’m still learning this all the time, is that all of the important things that happen in a company are, um, not only human, they’re psychological, they’re cultural. They have to do with rewards and communications and relationships, things that you can’t just write down and say, here’s how we’re gonna do it.

[00:04:27] Um, and what great HR people do is they’re very sensitive to these issues and they know a lot about the possible solutions, and they’re always willing to come up with new ideas. But I do agree with you. Sometimes HR is the police and they’re, you know, they’re just doing administrative stuff and people don’t respect.

[00:04:44] HR function, but that’s really the reason I’m here, is to try to help the HR professionals of the world not get into that situation.

[00:04:54] Stacy Sherman: Yes. And a lot of it is so simple around communication, because I remember HR had to break some tough news and the email was so cold. Cold. Mm-hmm. And. Just by shifting even the way the tonality of the communication can change the experience,

[00:05:19] Josh Bersin: what’s your view?

[00:05:20] It’s true. Well, I mean, one of the things I talk about in my book and, and, and know all the time is, you know, you can walk into a company and meet people and observe what’s going on, and within a minute or two, you can get a sense of what the culture is like very, very, very fast. And when the ceo, and this is not the HR person’s job, when the C E O understands the human part of their job, then the HR function can really reinforce that.

[00:05:50] So it doesn’t just come from hr, it really is from management and leadership. And during the last three years of the pandemic, Most leaders have realized that their success is completely dependent on their ability to help people, to understand people, to support people, to coach people, to develop people, uh, and to be flexible and forgiving of people.

[00:06:12] Things that are usually not in the old, you know, sort of 1980s GE Management Handbook. To be honest, they weren’t there. And you know, I mean, a lot of the things, the old-fashioned principles of HR. Actually go back to slavery where we took people and we thought about the humans as replaceable parts. And that’s really the industrial model of business where you, you know, there’s management and labor and we can always replace the labor with new labor, but that’s just not the way the world works anymore.

[00:06:40] So, uh, this issue of relationships and culture is strategic. It’s not just touchy-feely nice stuff on the side. It is what makes great companies succeed and. And I don’t think all CEOs think that way, but they’re learning more and more all the time. Mm-hmm. What is the name of your book? It’s called Irresistible, the Seven Secrets of the World’s Most Enduring Employee Focused Organizations.

[00:07:09] And it’s, it took me about seven or eight years to write it because what it is, is it’s the results of me doing research and on many, many, many aspects of HR and management and leadership, and eventually reaching the point where I said to myself, I gotta write this down in a form that non HR people can understand it.

[00:07:26] So what it really is, is it’s a lot of stories and examples of these TH seven things that I have discovered really differentiate companies. And I’ve analyzed financial data and growth, revenue, profitability and so forth amongst thousands and thousands of companies u originally using Glassdoor as the sorting mechanism.

[00:07:49] Mm-hmm. And sure enough, When you look at the high performing companies over a long period of time, not only a few years, but over decades, they do very special things in managing people that that really allow them to endure and adapt. And that’s what the book is about, and it’s really a book for managers and, and leaders as well as for HR people.

[00:08:10] So

[00:08:10] Stacy Sherman: let’s start talking about making a company irresistible. At a time where we’re living through slowdowns and layoffs and productivity shifts, what is the basis at high level and drill down after becoming irresistible?

[00:08:32] Josh Bersin: Well, this is a perfect example of a period of time when it’s really important. So on the one hand, the economy’s slowing down, we’re probably gonna have a recession.

[00:08:42] And a lot of companies, overhired, particularly tech companies, so there are layoffs. On the other hand, there aren’t enough people. The unemployment rate is at a 55 year low and it’s not go, it’s not gonna be higher. And every company is trying to hire new software engineers. They want to get into ai, they’re trying to hire salespeople, marketing people.

[00:09:02] So they maybe laying off people in some, you know, overstaffed group. And then they’re hiring people, another group. And everybody has been through three years of trauma through the pandemic. And even though it may feel that the pandemic is over, the trauma is not over, and we all have not yet completely recovered from that.

[00:09:21] And dealing with remote work, hybrid work, and employees, especially young employees saying to themselves, you know, I just spent three years giving up on my vacation and all the fun things I wanted to do. Maybe I don’t wanna work as hard as I did before. Maybe I want a meaningful job. Maybe money isn’t the most important thing.

[00:09:42] It is an important thing. And so if employers can’t create a fantastic growth oriented, enjoyable experience for employees, it doesn’t matter how much money people get paid. Look at Starbucks. I mean, the Starbucks is a perfect example. Starbucks was an iconic great employer, one of the first companies who put together.

[00:10:05] Hourly based pay benefits, educational benefits, diversity training, management development. I mean, it was a really just an iconic company for the entire workforce of the United States. There had they have labor unions, they, you know, poor Howard Schultz just got destroyed and Congress last week because they weren’t taking, they weren’t taking care of their people.

[00:10:26] The business was growing and they weren’t able to simplify the store operations enough. That the employees could deliver the right service to the customers. It just kept piling on more and more things. There’s a whole story here, but, um, so they’re trying, so they’re now having to deal with the labor unions and, uh, go back to basics of, of this fundamental idea that when you take care of the employees, they take care of the customers, they take care of the business.

[00:10:55] You can’t look at the employees as, uh, you know, a. Widget, they can be dialed up or dialed down because of some business situation that’s going on. So that’s kind of what it’s about. And, and I don’t think it’s different right now than it was during the boom that we just finished. Either. It’s, you know, it’s, it’s a tough time to hire now.

[00:11:17] Yes.

[00:11:18] Stacy Sherman: So seven secrets. Mm-hmm. To enduring employee focused. Organizations. My question for you is, let’s talk about a few of those, especially on a topic that I’m passionate around breaking silos. Silos are every company big or small, that I’ve been in over 25 years. Silos is what destroys relationships, destroys the collaboration, and I struggle with how we get that to change because I’ll, I’ll pause in a minute, but.

[00:12:08] You could see I’m struggling cuz it’s such a, a important topic to me. And I used my customer experience role and my team, I always said to them, we get to be the glue. Among all the departments, cuz everybody owns CX. So we get to be the glue and to break those silos. But gosh, it was like going against Gravity.

[00:12:35] So tell me your view and how the seven Sure. Weighs to become really irresistible.

[00:12:42] Josh Bersin: Stacy. It’s a really, really good point. So let me, let me talk a little bit about that. This is the first chapter. It’s called Teams Not Hierarchy. So the reason companies have silos, the reason companies have hierarchical organizations actually goes back to the specialization of labor from slavery and some of, if you read some of the books about how, how the slave owners set up their slave farms, they actually segregated work in a very industrial way.

[00:13:13] And that was, you know, then used in the railroad industry. In the automobile industry. In the oil and gas industry, in many of the industrial industries in the 18 hundreds and the 19 hundreds, that if we divide the work into functional groups, we can have people that know how to, you know, lay the rails. We can have people that know how to run the switches.

[00:13:34] We can have people that know how to run the trains. We can people that know how to repair the trains, we’ll put them into functional groups. Each functional hierarchy will have a manager or a supervisor. And those functional groups can operate at scale because the way businesses operated in the old world, before all this IP and software and stuff became big, was what we called industrial scale.

[00:13:56] You build a product and you sell more and more and more of it at a lower and lower, lower, lower price. So specialization was the key. So there was a really good business reason why these silos were created. And if you looked at, when I started doing HR in the early, you know, two thousands, Every single company said to me, I want to copy ge.

[00:14:18] Tell me what GEs doing, because we wanna be like that. Well, nobody wants to be like GE right now because most of the value added in a company is intellectual property. It’s services, it’s relationships, it’s the interconnection of this product with that product. And this, this service marketing is the same way.

[00:14:40] So, so companies have to be more interconnected. Which means these functional silos are getting in the way. And of course people want to change jobs. They want to have more interesting careers. They don’t want to be, you know, somebody doesn’t wanna be a railroad, you know, construction engineer their whole life, you know, and they live longer, by the way.

[00:14:58] The other thing that’s going on, people are living longer, so now they have 50, 60 year careers. Mm-hmm. Maybe they don’t wanna do the same thing. And by the way, maybe that thing isn’t that valuable 30 years later when you started it. So we have to change this. And what I’ve found, and this is what the book is all about, is there are ways to interconnect these silos and move people between groups in a very, very powerful business oriented fashion.

[00:15:24] And it started to some degree in the Agile software movement to some degree. But even before that, When I worked at ibm, we had, and this was in the 1980s, it was very common for people to move from sales to engineering, to corporate marketing, to back to sales, to, you know, maybe finance. This idea of rotating people around from place to place inside of the company.

[00:15:49] It used to be a big deal. It went away for a while, but it’s gotta come back. And that breaks down silos because you have relationships between the groups. You know people in that group, you’ve been there before. You understand what their issues are. And then eventually, as you find in the CX area, well maybe we need to reorganize around customers and not around products or around markets or around experiences.

[00:16:12] And this is going on in hr. In hr, we’ve got plenty of functional silos. We got ahead of recruiting, we got head of comp, we’ve got head of training, we’ve got head of. Tech, those people have to work together too. So it’s a, it’s a big topic and, and I think you’re exactly right. It’s core, kind of the core of, of really building a people-centric company is, is interconnecting people between these functional areas and sometimes redefining what the functional areas are.

[00:16:40] Yes.

[00:16:41] Stacy Sherman: And I love how you brought back a memory for me. When I was at at and t, I had to, I started out in sales and the only way for me to get a promotion was I had to go to headquarters and do a role there, and then I had to go back to sales. Right. And it was this, you

[00:17:02] Josh Bersin: know, we had the same thing at ibm.

[00:17:04] Stacy Sherman: Yeah. Okay. So there’s, I didn’t realize then, That it, the why was the purpose. Yeah. Yeah. As you’re saying this, it’s like the light bulbs are going off and I don’t see that happening now as much as it was then.

[00:17:21] Josh Bersin: Well, things, you know, it’s true. I mean, in some ways these older companies, my wife worked by the way, for Pacific Bell, so I, you know, we, we both worked in big companies.

[00:17:29] Well, you know, somewhere around the 1990s, two thousands when the internet came and kind of disrupted everybody. Yeah. These functional organizations didn’t move fast enough. You just couldn’t adapt fast enough. And so there was a lot of breakage and a lot of the disruptive companies like Amazon or Google or whoever it is you emulate, just crossed all these barriers and built better products.

[00:17:55] And a lot of that was because software was involved and we could communicate with people instantaneously over the internet and the customers were expecting a much more integrated experience. As you know, I mean, a lot of this is customer expectations. And the functional silos couldn’t operate fast enough.

[00:18:11] Plus the lines of communication are so slow. You’ve gotta go up your functional hierarchy to get a decision then and back down the other fire functional hierarchy. And by the time all those staff meetings happened, the problem changed. So we couldn’t get any work done. So I think it started with, SWAT teams, cross-functional teams, project teams, things that you know, used to happen in the old days too.

[00:18:33] And suddenly we realized, well, maybe that is the way we should organize around teams, not around the hierarchy. And that’s really what the first chapter of the book is about, is you organize the company around teams. Teams that sometimes last a year or two, sometimes they only last a few months. Mm-hmm.

[00:18:50] And the functional hierarchy is more of the background behind it. For your development and growth, then you can actually be just as scalable and just as profitable as the old industrial model, but operate in a completely different way. And so it’s kind of management science here on how to do this, but it’s, it’s becoming, you know, more and more well understood.

[00:19:15] Stacy Sherman: So we’ll go into another one of your seven secrets to become an irresistible company. I wanna add one other actionable tip. I love the what you just shared, and that is applying what I call a CX framework. That includes journey mapping. Mm-hmm. So, When there’s a product or service to launch, you literally design how the customer will learn by get used, pay, get help from the inside, the employees, and then you go validate that with real customers.

[00:19:55] And by doing that, all these employees feel the domino effect of how they, that each department impacts that. So that’s something that

[00:20:05] Josh Bersin: worked for well, lemme give you actually, Stacy, lemme give you an example that I think you’re gonna really get a kick out of. So we do a lot of work, we did a lot of research on organization design.

[00:20:12] How do you set up groups of people so that they operate well? And one of the companies we stumbled across last year, or too, is this company called Bosch Power Tools. They build drilling tools and sawing tools and nailing tools and all the things construction workers use. And they were losing market share and the revenues were dropping and, and you know, the, they got a new general manager.

[00:20:32] And he said to the team, he said, you guys, I don’t know what to do. Why don’t you tell me how to reorganize ourselves so we can grow this business? And they went back and they looked at the customer information about what the customers were doing with these tools, and they realized they weren’t buying tools, they weren’t buying solutions to problems.

[00:20:52] I have a problem of drilling a hole. I have a problem of putting up a piece of walling. I have a problem of sanding and smoothing material. I don’t really have a problem of buying a tool. I am looking for a tool to solve that problem. And they suddenly realize we’re organized completely wrong. We should be organized around these customer problems, and then we’ll figure out what tools and stuff to make for these customer problems.

[00:21:17] Some of which, by the way, have more software and stuff in them than they used to then just keep selling the same old tools over and over and over again. And sure enough, once they got this under their heads and figured it out, the company started growing again. So a lot of the things that you guys do in the customer experience fall apart because the organization inside can’t adapt to this new way of thinking about it.

[00:21:41] So you, what you do and what we do are basically link together.

[00:21:46] Stacy Sherman: They are, and all the HR teams listening to this and all the CX and marketing and sales and finance and legal listen to this because this is so powerful for the teams to collaborate. The customer feels it and sees it in the end.

[00:22:04] Josh Bersin: Love that.

[00:22:05] Well, they also feel it when you’re not. I mean, how many times have you called? I mean, it always kills me. You call the airline. Where’s my discount coupon on so and so? Well, I’ve gotta turn you over to the coupon department. It’ll be 15 minutes before I can get them on the phone. I mean, come on.

[00:22:25] Stacy Sherman: Well, that’s why we all have to also be an undercover agent, an undercover employee going through walking in the customer’s shoes. To feel what you just described as decisions are being made or before decisions are made made.

[00:22:45] Josh Bersin: It’s true. In fact, you know, we in HR do something very similar to what you guys do.

[00:22:49] We do journey mapping of employees. We look at employee journeys, just the way you guys look at customer journeys, because employees go through journeys at work, from onboarding to growth, to promotion, to having a kid or whatever. And we need to, you know, make sure we’re handling their needs just like

[00:23:07] Stacy Sherman: customers.

[00:23:09] Yes, and I’m gonna say one thing and we’re gonna go to your second secret or third is I, when you talk about that customer journey for the employee, one thing that I’ve noticed is a huge miss and that is graded on onboarding, great at being in the companies, but the exit interviews are often either missed.

[00:23:38] Or that people are asked for feedback and feel like nothing’s gonna be done with it. And so please every journey map or don’t cut it short.

[00:23:53] Josh Bersin: What’s your view on that? It’s a good point. You know, every now and then I run across a company that go, that understands that. But you’re right. When somebody leaves the company, first of all, a lot of times when people leave, they don’t really wanna talk about why they’re leaving.

[00:24:06] They’re just done. So you don’t get really enough information out of them. But if you, if you have this attitude that, you know, they’re now becoming an alumni, they’re not an ex-employee, they’re an alumni, and they may come back later and they may become a customer and they may refer the other people to us, then you treat them differently when you let them go.

[00:24:29] So I completely agree with you.

[00:24:31] Stacy Sherman: Yeah. That’s such a miss because you’re right. I’m become a customer of that brand or I’m going to refer. So you want me to leave me and others like me to leave on a good note. And I think that companies have an opportunity to focus on that more, but time is getting to the end here.

[00:24:53] So I would like to do one more tip from your book and then some rapid fire questions. Sure.

[00:25:01] Josh Bersin: Um, okay. One more really quick. Uh, and this has to do with management, and it’s called Coach not Boss. Um, and the, there’s many, many aspects of this. I won’t go through the whole chapter, but, but the main idea is that in a business where you’re adding value through customer service or innovation or creativity or, you know, design, whatever it may be, the employee actually knows more about the work than the manager.

[00:25:27] Certainly not maybe the first day, but pretty quickly the employee knows what the issues are in becoming more successful. So we need to learn as leaders, how to listen to them, to empower them, how to connect them to other people, develop them. We don’t need to tell ’em what to do that much. That’s the old style of management.

[00:25:47] So this idea of having goal setting meetings and deciding what you’re accountable for and on and on, that is a very tiny part. Of management that is not the core of management, so I’ll just leave you with that one.

[00:26:00] Stacy Sherman: Love that one. And I think also we’re responsible for the culture of the group and taking away barriers and helping that comradery because everybody has such different needs.

[00:26:14] So, oh, we could spend an episode just on that. Yep. So as you’re coming to the end, what is the best leadership advice you’ve either been given or you’ve told somebody else that

[00:26:27] Josh Bersin: stands out? Well, there’s two. The one that I remember from my own development was when I was a young guy at IBM and I worked on a big proposal for a customer who was a very, very, very long, big, complicated thing, and we delivered the proposal and it had a mistake and the pricing and my boss at the end of the day, after we finally fixed it and went back and re-delivered it, he said to me, I want to give you a piece of advice.

[00:26:56] He said, you’re gonna have a great career here, but you’re not gonna have a great career if you don’t pay attention to details. He said, and we didn’t have to have that whole episode we just went through, and I never forgot that. Um, and then the other thing I’d say I’ve learned is I’ve gotten older and I’ve gotten to meet so many senior leaders, is that great leaders don’t talk that much.

[00:27:17] They listen a lot. Most of your job. As you, you know, move up the company or have more responsibility is to listen and understand and pick up the signals about what’s going on. So I find myself trying to be much, much more quiet at work before I’m telling everybody what we need to do. And that’s, you know, a learn a lesson for everybody.

[00:27:39] Soft skills.

[00:27:41] Stacy Sherman: Yep, definitely. And emotion and emotional intelligence. What would be one takeaway? You want people to remember listeners, if I had a lot of leaders in my room from different companies, what do you want them to remember from this episode?

[00:27:58] Josh Bersin: Well, if you’re in the customer side of your company, uh, get to know the HR people a little bit.

[00:28:05] Mm-hmm. And remember that, you know, one of the magic secrets you have to having a great customer experience is for the employees to feel well trained, aligned. And empowered to do what the customers need. And you see this in hotels, you see this in airlines, you see this in every retail customer facing experience.

[00:28:27] And most of the time the HR people wanna do that too, so, so I would say for those of you that are more on the customer side of the business, get to know your HR person and use them and tell them what your issues are and let them advise you. And I think you’ll see some pretty cool things happen.

[00:28:44] Stacy Sherman: Mm.

[00:28:44] Beautifully said. And if you could go back in time to your younger 20 year old self, based on what you know now that you didn’t know, then what would you tell younger Josh?

[00:28:56] Josh Bersin: You know, the one thing I’ve learned, I worried about a lot of stuff. I worried about my job, I worried about my career. I worried about my performance and, you know, blah, blah, blah.

[00:29:06] And you know, I, I was not a, I wasn’t a super high performing. I was a hard worker. I realize now, Everything kind of works out in the end. Mm-hmm. Careers, I mean, you know, this, Stacy, you worked at at and t I mean, or you know, wherever you worked, I mean mm-hmm. You bounce around. Sometimes your job goes well, sometimes it doesn’t go well.

[00:29:26] You like your boss, you don’t like your boss, you didn’t like this company, you didn’t like that company. Over time, all of those experiences, Make you a little bit more successful step by step. And so I probably would’ve tried to tell myself, don’t worry about it so much. Just go with the flow and learn all the time, and things are gonna get better over years.

[00:29:47] And I do think people have to realize that their careers are going to be very long. We’re living longer. We don’t have this, you know, retired 65 kind of life anymore. At least most people don’t. So that would be the piece of advice.

[00:30:01] Stacy Sherman: Hmm. I think also to what you’re saying is getting comfortable to live in

[00:30:07] Josh Bersin: uncertainty.

[00:30:08] Mm-hmm. Yeah. There’s, there’s, I mean, look at the new technologies that we’re using at work and at home today, and how industries have changed and how the pandemic changed where we work and how we work, and the tools we use. When new things come along, don’t be afraid of them. Just, you know, look at them as one more thing to learn that will make you more productive and make your job a little bit easier.

[00:30:30] And that’s, that’s part of, of, you know, growing. Yes,

[00:30:35] Stacy Sherman: I love that advice and I appreciate you. I’m gonna put all the links to your book and your website and where to find you on social media in the show notes. And thank you for the gift of you today. Thank

[00:30:50] Josh Bersin: you, Stacy.

Investing In Agent Experience: The Key To Delivering Customer Excellence

Investing In Agent Experience: The Key To Delivering Customer Excellence

The Importance of Agent Experience (AX)

Customer experience (CX) is a significant driver of business success in the modern age. Customers expect more than just good products and solutions; they want authentic personalized experiences, high quality, and delivery of the brand promise. This does not happen without prioritizing agent experiences and investing in their success.

Agents are the front line just as much, if not more, than sales teams. Service agents have the power to make or break a company’s success. It’s no secret that engaged agents are motivated, connected, and satisfied with their job, team, and organization, and this connection transfers to the customer.

Investing in agent experience is about more than just providing them with the proper training and tools. It is also related to helping them feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, providing support and resources, and empowering agents to succeed. So let’s dig deeper into agent engagement tactics.

    Invest In Agent Experience Tools and Recognition

    Deploying the right technology is essential for agents to do their job effectively, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems access to customer data and analytics. Equipping agents with tools and simple ways to do their job with less effort, they can quickly and accurately diagnose customer issues and provide the best solutions. Additionally, having the right tools help agents save time, enabling them to focus on building customer relationships and increasing retention.

    Furthermore, recognizing agents for their hard work and dedication fosters loyalty and appreciation, which fuels them to provide even better customer service on purpose. Recognition can be in the form of rewards, such as bonuses or promotions, or it can be more informal, such as public praise and a personal thank-you call from the CEO. Remember: small actions usually have significant impacts!

    Invest Time and Care in Getting Agent Feedback  

    Including customer service agents in decision-making is another essential aspect of investing in agent engagement. Customer service representatives have a unique perspective and understanding of the customer experience, and their insights can be invaluable to the business. In addition, giving agents a seat at the table to represent the “voice of the customer” makes them feel empowered and motivated to go up and beyond. So, it’s a win for the company, the agent, and ultimately the customer.  

    Key Takeaways for Leaders To Enhance Agent Experiences

    The following are some actionable tactics to improve agent experiences and success for better customer outcomes:

    • Focus on agent well-being, including physical, emotional, and mental health. Tactics include direct conversations, sentiment surveys, and more.
    • Establish a community for agents to provide a space for feedback and support. Include cross-teams in the community to foster connectivity and collaboration.
    • Recognize and reward agents who provide exceptional service. Read customer surveys and social media, as people often mention agents by name.   
    • Provide regular agent training to enhance their skills and knowledge. i.e., Lunch and learns. Onboarding sessions.
    • Create a meaningful work culture and foster a sense of purpose and belonging among agents. 
    • Engage agents in decision-making by giving them a voice at leadership meetings to inform business strategies.
    • Streamline administrative tasks so agents can focus on providing the best customer experience possible and build relationships.
    • Provide customer service to the agent. i.e., if they need help with equipment, respond quickly and fix their pain points as they pay it forward to the customer.

    Conclusion

    Investing in agent experience is crucial to delivering exceptional customer experience and long-term success.

    Listen to CXQA Live show where I was the featured guest. We dive deep into agent engagement topics and strategies for Doing CX Right. Got questions? Let’s talk. 

    And sign up for my newsletter full of actionable free tips.

     

    Article and video part of the Vistio Knowledge Collective. 

     

    Creating Fun In The Workplace For Better Customer Experience

    Creating Fun In The Workplace For Better Customer Experience

    Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify with host Stacy Sherman
    DoingCXRight-Podcast-on-Amazon-with-host-Stacy-Sherman.
    Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right Podcast - Hosted by Stacy Sherman
    Doing CX Right podcast show on iHeart Radio with host Stacy Sherman

    What are your company values and beliefs? Is having fun intentional or an afterthought? How does having fun link to better customer experiences and brand loyalty?

    Rick Bonds, one of the best business leaders I know, answers these questions and more. You’ll hear valuable examples of what you can do to improve your workplace culture, employee engagement, and customer experiences. Small actions, like having fun in the workplace, yield big results.

    We also share key learnings from the best bosses throughout our careers and what we’ve learned NOT to do.

    For those who know Rick, you’ll be intrigued by what he would tell his younger 20-year-old self now if he could go back in time, and a fun fact that many are unaware of related to fear that he’s overcome thanks to valuable advice received.

    Get Updates About Doing CX Right

    Follow On Social Media

    Join Newsletter

    Press Play To WATCH Interview

    About The Value of Fun In The Workplace

    About Rick Bonds – An Inspiring Fun Leader by Every Definition  

    Rick is General Manager at Convergint, previously Director of Strategic Accounts at Schindler Elevator Corporation (where we met), and a leader who I admire for many reasons  He walks the customer experience talk and has a lot of wisdom to share about leadership, improving employee experiences to deliver customer excellence, and how to sell with a heart.  

    Learn more about Rick on LinkedIn

    About Stacy Sherman: Founder of Doing CX Right®‬

    An award-winning certified marketing and customer experience (CX) corporate executive, speaker, author, and podcaster, known for DoingCXRight®. She created a Heart & Science™ framework that accelerates customer loyalty, referrals, and revenue, fueled by engaged employees and customer service representatives. Stacy’s been in the trenches improving experiences as a brand differentiator for 20+ years, working at companies of all sizes and industries, like Liveops, Schindler elevator, Verizon, Martha Steward Craft, AT&T++.   Stacy is on a mission to help people DOING, not just TALKING about CX, so real human connections & happiness exist. Continue reading bio >here.

    20 Easy Ways To Celebrate CX Day and Customer Service Week

    20 Easy Ways To Celebrate CX Day and Customer Service Week

    Have you heard about CX Day? Every October, people worldwide celebrate with their employees, agents, and clients. It reminds me of “Mother’s Day” or “Father’s Day.” It’s a time when we intentionally celebrate and express gratitude to people who matter in our lives. It doesn’t mean we stop appreciating people all other days of the year. It’s a time to pause, reflect, and take actions that are extra purposeful. CX Day falls in the same week as National Customer Service Week (NCSW) and has a similar meaning, yet not the same.

    CX Day & Customer Service Week: The Basics

    CX Day was established ten years ago by the Customer Experience Professionals Organization (CXPA) to empower and unite companies, CX networks, and all people around the world to come together annually on the first Tuesday of October (4 October 2022). Though there are benefits to being a CXPA member, you are not required to be one to take part in the festivities.

    Customer Service Week was created in 1991. The U.S. Congress signed a proclamation in 1992 establishing Customer Service Week as a nationally recognized event. The goal is to emphasize the importance of customer satisfaction and listening to customers as critical components of building a successful business. Since then, the commemoration has spread across the United States and internationally to more than 60 countries. Celebrations this year are happening Oct 3-7, 2022.

    Who Celebrates?

    I recommend everyone in your company celebrate because everyone has a CX job, even if it’s not in their job title. If you’ve never be an active participant, then pick a few activities and build on from there. Take the lead, bring cross-teams together and start. You’ll see it will quickly become an annual company tradition.

    20 Ways to Participate With Purpose

    As people are recovering from the mental and physical impacts of the global pandemic, 2022 is an excellent year to assess how your company is advancing customer experience and service principles. It’s an ideal time to raise awareness, promote involvement, and express gratitude to those who make customer excellence possible. And it’s an opportunity to show others how committed you are to giving them top-notch service. There are plenty of ways you can take part of CX Day and Customer Service week, such as:

    1. Pay for a meal. Provide lunch or snacks to work teams to express appreciation. If a remote work environment, offer a delivery voucher to pick a restaurant. Eat together via video conferencing.
    2. Measure customer satisfaction and related metrics like Net Promoter (NPS) and celebrate positive scores. Send cake or balloons to top performers and those with year-over-year improvements.
    3. Recognize employees and service agents when customers mention their names in surveys, social media, and other sources of feedback.
    4. Distribute a CEO video email message thanking people for creating passionate promoters.
    5. Send customer thank you notes and token gifts of appreciation.
    6. Conduct fireside chats (informal yet structured discussions between a moderator and a guest.) It’s an effective way to engage customers and CX experts and provide relevant content that keeps people interested in your brand.
    7. Enable people to recognize each other. Gamify experiences. Tie prizes to customer value.
    8. Offer a bonus or day off to those who routinely demonstrate customer excellence. Fridays are ideal as a 3-day weekend is a valuable gift.
    9. Offer CX swag, like banners, balloons, stickers, buttons, shirts.
    10. Provide training – empathy, customer listening, closing the loop, design-thinking, journey mapping, and more. There are many online certification options.
    11.  Host “thank you” events for your customers. Showing appreciation goes a long way.
    12. Create a room in your office to share CX projects and progress so everyone stays informed. For remote teams, leverage platforms for collaboration and knowledge sharing.
    13. Highlight CX examples at meetings and have people talk about best practices. Work teams want to hear from their peers more than Headquarters staff.
    14. Lead a contest that involves both customers and employees.
    15. Encourage people to join webinars. Create your own or give them a list of online events.
    16. Plan activities and virtual games with different departments in your organization—leverage the week as a way to strengthen internal relationships and break traditional silos.
    17. Use the day for branding opportunities. Partner with your marketing / PR team to design assets highlighting admiration for customers.  
    18.  Create fun backgrounds for video meetings to keep CX at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
    19. Grant people a few hours in the day to volunteer at a local charity.
    20.  Host a customer appreciation sale. Create a promotional offer that’s more enticing than other times of the year, so it appears authentic.

    Final Words

    • Employees and customer service agents are your heroes. If they don’t feel important, your customers will feel it.
    • Don’t wait for formal end-of-year reviews. If you do not appreciate people throughout the year, your competitors will. They’re searching for exceptional talent.
    • Do something to celebrate. Get creative and be sincere. People will remember the big and small acts of kindness when CX Day and customer service week ends.

    Get More Inspirational Ideas To Drive Positive Outcomes  During CX Day and Customer Service Week

    Listen to the Doing CX Right podcast featuring CXPA CEO, Greg Melia and Stacy Sherman.

    Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify with host Stacy Sherman
    DoingCXRight-Podcast-on-Amazon-with-host-Stacy-Sherman.
    Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right Podcast - Hosted by Stacy Sherman
    Doing CX Right podcast show on iHeart Radio with host Stacy Sherman

    Press Play To WATCH Interview:

    Building A Winning Customer-Centric Organization The Right Way

    Building A Winning Customer-Centric Organization The Right Way

    Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify with host Stacy Sherman
    DoingCXRight-Podcast-on-Amazon-with-host-Stacy-Sherman.
    Doing Customer Experience (CX) Right Podcast - Hosted by Stacy Sherman
    Doing CX Right podcast show on iHeart Radio with host Stacy Sherman

    What does a real customer-centric culture look like that’s built to win?  

    Customer-centric companies put the customer at the center of all they do, which means the entire workforce takes the time to understand who customers are and then use that understanding to intentionally design better experiences for them.

    Too often, companies believe they know what’s best and create customer experiences based on inside-out thinking, only to end up creating frustration and dissatisfaction.

    During this podcast episode, you’ll hear Stacy Sherman and Annette Franz, Founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. explore customer-centric businesses, examine the ways they implement strategies, and provide actionable advice for you to outperform competitors.

    CX Topics:

    • What does “putting the customer in “customer experience” mean?
    • Actionable tips and key principles from her newest book “Build to Win”  
    • Views on linking customer experience metrics to employee bonuses. 
    • Effective tactics to really understand customers.
    • Advice to those who don’t know where to start in journey mapping & the game-changer of doing it right. 
    • Annettes views on CX trends during the up & down economic times 
    • Best leadership advice received.
    • A fun fact people may not know about Annette, before entering the CX field 
    • Advice to her younger 20-year-old self based on what she knows now and says to her two boys.

      Remember:

      Customer experience success does not occur overnight or automatically but rather happens when individuals and teams intentionally put customers first and do so consistently. 

      Join Doing CX Right Conversations On Social Media

      Keep learning and paying it forward.

      Watch Video With Stacy Sherman and Annette Franz on Youtube

      About Annette Franz ~Building a winning customer-centric culture

      Founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc., has spent the last 30 years in the customer experience profession. She started her career at J.D. Power and Associates and spent much of the next 25 years before founding CX Journey Inc. in 2017, leading consulting services for the major voice of the customer (VOC) platforms, and helping clients in a variety of industries. She has also worked on client-side customer experience strategies for Mattel, Fidelity Investments, and Compellon.

      Annette is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, keynote speaker, and author of Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business). In this book, she outlines the importance of customer understanding through listening (feedback and data), characterizing (personas), and empathizing (journey maps) to developing a customer-centric culture. Her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture that Drives Value for Your Business, which dives into the ten foundational principles of a customer-centric culture, will be published by Advantage|ForbesBooks in Q1 2022. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

      LinkedIn. Website.

      About Stacy Sherman: Founder of Doing CX Right®‬

      An award-winning certified marketing and customer experience (CX) corporate executive, speaker, author, and podcaster, known for DoingCXRight®. She created a Heart & Science™ framework that accelerates customer loyalty, referrals, and revenue, fueled by engaged employees and customer service representatives. Stacy’s been in the trenches improving experiences as a brand differentiator for 20+ years, working at companies of all sizes and industries, like Liveops, Schindler elevator, Verizon, Martha Steward Craft, AT&T++.   Stacy is on a mission to help people DOING, not just TALKING about CX, so real human connections & happiness exist. Continue reading bio >here.