Stacy Sherman joins the University of Houston to educate people about Customer Experience topics. Listen to recorded event & get info about CX Certification

Stacy Presents CX at The University of Houston Business School

Customer Experience is an important topic and schools like the University of Houston are ramping up their education programs to include CX at part of their curriculum. Stacy Sherman recently joined the Business department to present a variety of topics including:

  • What is Customer Experience, otherwise known as CX?
  • Why is it important during Covid19 and beyond?
  • How is CX different than Customer Service?
  • What are some best practices for leaders to apply to gain a competitive edge?
  • Ways to increase your CX skills to make an impact?
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Stacy Sherman Joins Mindfuel Podcast hosted by Sarah Nicastro about Customer Experience Best Practices

achieving customer happiness while NAVIGATING TURBULENT TIMES

What can energy suppliers and utilities learn from leading tech firms about the customer experience? Consumers are expecting the same speed and clarity of service and vendor responsiveness from their utilities providers as they experience with their online shopping, taxi bookings and fast food orders. There are clear steps that Energy & Utilities companies must take to improve customer experiences (CX), which we discuss on the Mindfuel podcast.

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stacy sherman and cary munk talk about cx

Let’s Talk CX… Interview Series #1

My passionate customer success friend and video producer, Cary Munk, asked to interview me for a special CX project he’s working on. Of course, when there’s an opportunity to talk about customer experience, employee engagement, and building a best-in-class company culture, I’m all in.

While the video is not available yet to view, I’m sharing some of our conversations as a preview of several CX talks to come this summer. I am confident you’ll learn something from the series. If there’s a specific CX topic you want to hear more about, please let me know as the “voice of my readers” matters a lot.

customer experience (CX) interview:

CARY: Today, I’m delighted to interview Stacy Sherman, who is the head of CX, Employee Engagement, and Culture Transformation at Schindler Elevator Corporation, USA division. (Formerly at Verizon.) Stacy’s is dedicated to HUMANIZING business and challenging the status quo to maximize satisfaction globally. Stacy is a featured guest on CX podcasts, contributing writer to Forbes and other publications, and also a writer of a popular blog, DoingCXRight®‬. Glad to have Stacy, who humanizes the workplace and believes that brands who create a memorable experience for customers are the ones that win in the long run. On a personal note, Stacy continues to amaze me with her thoughtfulness and knowledge and is someone who I continuously learn from. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

STACY:  Thank you for the great introduction. I’m glad to be here.

CARY:  Stacy, so who are you when you’re not at your day job?  What are your personal interests?

STACY:  My most favorite role in life is being a Mom of two kids. Other than that, I have a full-time job, and when I’m not at work, I’m still CX focused. It may sound cliché, but I really walk the talk as I’m Doing CX Right at night and weekends. In general, I am fascinated about the heart and science of CX and continue my studies to deliver great experiences in impactful ways. When I’m not at work, I love to travel the world, notice it, write about it, speak about it. It’s just part of me. You can read a great example of this from my vacation in Anguilla. I interviewed staff members who created Wow Moments for me and other customers. I was intrigued by how much they owned the customer experience even if it wasn’t their direct department. From the interviews, I noticed they all had one thing in common, which is a love of their job. It proves an important point that happy employees fuel happy customers all around the globe. Anyway, to the original question, I’m reading about CX, listening to podcasts, and Ted talks in my spare time. What I’m trying to say is that my hobbies all tie back to CX since it’s my passion.

CARY: That’s amazing. So, you’re the same person at work and at home.

STACY: Yes. You have to be because if you’re going to do what I call humanize business, you have to be human and real all the time. It’s not scripted.

CARY:  That’s true. Not everyone can say that. It makes you unique.  Let’s start from the beginning. What was your background and how did you pivot into CX?

STACY: It’s an interesting story and I imagine everybody you talk to will have some fascinating background.  My career began in sales and marketing at AT&T after college. In a way you can say that is a CX job as it’s customer focused. Back then, the word CX didn’t exist but the basic principles of delighting customers did. I had to meet customer needs and expectations in those roles or I would never have made my sales objectives. The true practice of CX and methodologies came when I was at Verizon. I remember the day my boss threw me a ball. He said that my responsibilities are expanding and I’ll be leading Customer Experience (CX) and Voice of Customer (VOC) initiatives. I had no idea what that meant and later learned that he didn’t either. We both intuitively knew that customer experience would grow in importance and that my career depended on my figuring it out. That’s exactly what I did by learning all about getting customer feedback, measuring customer satisfaction, using insight to drive improvements and so much more. The long answer to your question, Cary, is I literally fell into the CX field, and never stopped since I “caught the ball.”

CARY: You really grabbed onto that ball.

STACY: Yes, I did. I had to run forward and sideways, and figure it out with minimal support. While I felt uncertain at the time, I’m grateful that my old boss trusted me to learn and excel as CX as it quickly became a booming field, and experts are in high demand. Every company needs to focus on customer experience to gain a competitive edge. My one advice is if you want to differentiate your brand, start with your employees first. They can make or break a company’s reputation.

CARY: I know that you have worked at companies that provide omnichannel experiences. How does CX apply?

STACY: Most of my jobs included omnichannel (online and offline) experience. It’s an important topic because for brands to succeed, they must make it really easy for customers to learn about products and services, buy without difficulties and get help when they need it. When working at Verizon, the team and I deployed “Buy Online, Pick Up At Store” on the eCommerce website. The launch was a success however, through listening to customer feedback, we learned that there were improvement opportunities. When customers went to their local retail store, they had to wait on a line to pick-up their purchased device and became increasingly frustrated about the wait time. By leveraging “voice of customer” (VOC) data, we were able to identify the challenges and improve the pickup experience. For example, we established separate lines for people visiting the store based on whether they already paid and picking up an order versus people coming to shop and purchase in person. We were also able to provide personalized service to those who already bought since we knew who they were in advance of arrival. My point is that buying online and picking up in-store became its own experience. Companies who operate and serve customers in digital and non-digital ways need to account for the entire customer journey. It must be a holistic approach and seamless to customers as that’s when they will likely purchase again and tell others to buy too.

CARY:  Your story makes a lot of sense. You were listening to customers and getting their feedback to make positive changes to enhance customer experiences.

STACY: Correct. If we had not asked customers about their purchase and pick up experiences, we might not have known about their pain points to improve them. So, I can’t emphasize it enough. Ask customers about their level of satisfaction, sentiments, and level of effort when interacting with your brand. Get feedback and then do something with it. That’s when the magic happens.

CARY: So true. You have worked at a variety of companies and industries; from consumer brands to telecom and mobility, what would be one takeaway that CX practitioners can apply no matter where they work?

STACY:  I have so much to say, but I’ll sum it up. Regardless of industry, start with your greatest assets which are your employees. Actively listen, empathize, and provide great experiences for them because the more employees are happy, the more your customers will be too. CX and EX go hand in hand.

CARY:  Sounds like you are referring to creating a customer-centric culture.

STACY: Yes. The best leaders and brands focus on employee satisfaction AT ALL LEVELS of the organization so that everyone feels empowered and owns CX. Culture starts at the top with an executive champion, yet it also requires a bottoms up approach. I recommend deploying a formal education program within companies. The more that internal teams know about why and how to deliver customer excellence, the greater chance they will be change agents and transform the business. CX trained employees will more often do the right thing for customers, even when their boss isn’t looking. Choosing the right CX program is essential as there are a lot out there, but not all are reputable. Learn about my class experience and recommended universities. I’m happy to share details of the course and what I learned. Likewise, you’ll find valuable resources and articles on my blog to gain practical tips to apply now whereever you work. 

CARY: You speak about having buy-in from the top, creating a culture with employee recognition and empathy, and differentiating brands through CX. I’ve been thinking about how CX has been around for many years. Why do you think it’s such a hot topic now more than ever?

STACY:  In the past, companies could compete on price alone, but now, in a hyper-competitive environment, that’s changed. Think about Starbucks for example. There are many places to get a cup of coffee. I shop at Starbucks NOT because I enjoy paying triple the cost versus my local .99 cent coffee place. I am a loyal Starbucks customer because of the experience they provide. From the moment I walk into the store, people greet me by name. Employees intentionally make an effort to know their reoccurring customers. I also appreciate how they handle mistakes when they happen. Employees fix issues with no questions asked. They’ll even go up and beyond to ensure I like something I’m ordering for the first time by providing me a taste before purchasing it. I’m noticing more local cafes are doing this, and I love it. Brands are also getting more sophisticated with their apps and saving customers time before entering the store. That’s where user experience (UX) becomes an essential factor in choosing which brands to buy from. I can go on and on about this. I’ll sum up by saying experiences matter especially when competitive companies are relatively the same price. Read my Forbes article about what coffee shops can teach brands about customer experience.

CARY:  I’ve had a similar Starbucks experience. From the moment I walk in and smell the aroma to when I walk out with a cup of cappuccino.

STACY:  The physical experience is a part of the customer journey.  People immediately judge brands from their first moment when walking into a Doctor’s office, restaurant, etc. We could talk for hours about first impressions and onboarding experiences. Perhaps in the future.

CARY:  So true. Let’s end on inspiring our audience with something positive that we we’ll look back upon as we are going through an uncertain and unprecedented time. One of my takeaways is humorous. Yesterday, I opened the door to my bedroom and there’s a woman on the floor doing yoga… with a video screen of twenty other people doing yoga.  It looked like a yoga studio with a mat, blocks, candles and it took me a few seconds to realize… oh, that’s my girlfriend. And on a personal note, we had planned on moving in together later this year when my daughter starts college. This experience has brought us closer and enhanced our relationship. Stacy, what’s your rainbow?  What are you going to remember when you look back?

STACY: I love this question. I did something that I may never have done if it hadn’t been for Covid19. When the pandemic first started, I contacted about thirty people around the world to learn how they are staying content and productive while socially distancing. Every story I heard was better than the next. One guy in Italy was learning how to bake all kinds of homemade bread. Another guy was creating YouTube lessons with his son to teach children how to play basketball. I captured all the different stories and created an article from the lessons shared. It quickly went viral globally. It’s one of my most favorites because it inspired others at a time when people feel like they’re going against gravity. So to your question about “what’s my rainbow,” my answer is it is all the amazing connections and conversations from my article interviews. Their collective answers are what I’ll remember most.

CARY: That’s inspiring and a good place to wrap-up. Thank you for finding time to chat. For anyone reading this, where can they find you?

Stacy:  My website is DOINGCXRIGHT. You’ll see my contact information, articles, podcasts, and customer experience best practices. Thank you for the time together today, Cary. Bottom line: I’m on a mission to help connect people and inspire great authentic experiences to increase satisfaction. I hope people will join me on the journey. Together, we can make a difference!

CARY: Thank you Stacy. Have a great day.

STACY: You too.

If you want to know more about Cary Munk, connect with him on LinkedIn. And, if you want more information or CX coaching from me, Stacy Sherman, let’s connect anytime. I’m happy to help the community because together, we can create better experiences for all.

Wishing you much success in the world of CX.

*All views expressed are mine & do not reflect opinions or imply endorsement of employers or other organizations.

Customer Experience and Using Data by DoingCXRight

The Returns From Investing In your Customer Experience

Over the years, we often hear “the customer is always right.” While “always” may not really be the case, companies are going out of their way to please customers to fuel business growth. This is especially true during Covid19 where social distancing is required and creating customer happiness is harder. Many companies have recently paused their business or shut down because customers stopped buying. On the contrary, many other brands are thriving because they’ve pivoted their business to online, and leveraging data to better meet customer expectations. (Read more about companies who’ve transitioned their strategies and lessons learned.)

Using customer insights to drive business decisions gives companies a competitive edge. While I have my own views on how to collect customer data and use the information to influence product development, market messaging, website design, and more, I became interested to hear from a financial leader to gain additional perspective. I connected with Howie Bick, the Founder of the Analyst Handbook to discuss the financial value of investing in customer experience. The following is a summary of our conversations:

Use Data from multi-sources

Howie and I discuss the importance of paying attention to customers’ needs and wants as they are rapidly changing. People want options and customization. They’re looking for products and services that are simple to use, easy to learn. and straightforward. The way to understand customer needs is using data that you already have and or go get from deploying customer surveys, focus groups, and other “voice of the customer” (VOC) methods. Examining your website analytics is beneficial too. Understanding for example, which pages people spend most of their time and where they abandon provides a wealth of information. The point is that both quantitative and qualitative data used together provide actionable insights to implement improvements so that customers can accomplish their goals, whether it be to find information, add to shopping cart or enter a credit card to complete a transaction. There’s no need to wonder where are customer “pain points.” In fact, we’re highly against guessing. The data is at your fingertips. Use it. Test different experiences. Analyze. Adjust. Repeat.

Why invest in Customer Experience…an analytical perspective

Howie explains from his financial background….

Company’s need customers to keep their business going. They are the ones who are the lifeblood, and the fuel to keep the business operating. The experiences they have, and the journeys they go on, play a significant role in whether they purchase, consumer, or abandon their carts. Companies want their visitors or potential customers to purchase. That’s how they’re able to generate revenue, it’s how they learn which areas need to be optimized, and it’s where you get insight into the sales process.

A better customer experience encourages higher conversion rates. Higher conversion rates mean more revenue per visitor, it means a higher percentage of visitors turn into customers, and it means more money for the company.

The easier the journey is to navigate for a customer, the less there going to be asking questions. The less they’ll have to figure out, and the less they’ll have to connect the dots on their own, which means less confusion, and fewer questions. Less questions and confusion mean less customer service inquires. That has the ability to reduce overhead requiring fewer customer service personnel or wasting valuable time on answering the customer queries.

A simple and easy customer experience encourages lower bounce rates. Meaning fewer potential customers will abandon their carts, and hopefully, more will decide to purchase.

The more friction that’s involved in the buying process, the more work people will have to do to buy. It might mean spending more time figuring out or learning about the company. It might mean learning about the terms or acronyms the company use. The harder it is for people to do something, the less likely it is for them to do it. Making the customer experience easy and straightforward will encourage more visitors and potential customers to purchase, sign up, or become a lead.

Happy customers can be incredibly valuable and meaningful to a company’s business. By having easy checkouts, smooth transactions, and seamless user experience you’re able to make customers happy. Happy customers can turn into great ambassadors for the company, refer friends or speak highly of the company, and be great for the company’s bottom line. The happier customers are with your company, the better news it is for the company.

Investing in a company’s customer experience is most often a significant upfront cost that might require a redesign or a realignment of processes, but after that, it’s done. You’re able to invest and upgrade the systems you have in place, and hopefully reap the benefits for years to come. All the customers or visitors you have in the future will experience a positive customer experience, and hopefully have pleasant customer journeys.”

Our Customer Experiencer Conclusion

While there’s a business cost (resources, tools, technology) to create best in class customer experiences, the investment IS WORTH IT in the long run. When CX is done right, brands end up with loyal customers who buy again and tell others. That’s when the magic and return on experience (ROE) happens.

learn more about the value of customer experience Investments

  • Read more from Howie about what business analysts do to optimize processes, systems, and structures to achieve profitable outcomes.
  • Sign Up for my newsletter for ongoing tips and resources to elevate your CX skills and gain a competitive edge.
  • Get CX Certified at a reputable university where you’ll learn how to calculate Return on Investment, justify CX costs to company leaders, and more. Course info HERE.

Stacy Sherman Presents Customer Experience at CCW Customer contact week

Humanizing Business During & After a Pandemic (webinar)

CCW Digital’s conferences bring thousands of customer contact, customer experience, technology, marketing and operations professionals together for inspiring keynotes, interactive discussions and unparalleled networking. During the summer 2020 event, I spoke about what humanizing business means and how to actually do CX right during and post Covid19.

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Changing Business To Online During Covid-19

How To Humanize Business while Going Digital during COVID-19

As we live through the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve continued my journey talking to people around the world to understand how are they coping, staying calm and productive in business. So many people have had to become digitally savvy overnight and employees are under pressure to pivot online very quickly. Event planning companies are a perfect example of having to shift strategies for business continuity. Those who adapt rapidly while sustaining customer satisfaction are the ones most likely to succeed in 2020 and beyond.

MEET VUK VUKANOVIC

Vuk is a Customer Relationship Executive at Awards International, where he coordinates Masterclasses and different events focussed on CX, EX, Complaint Handling, Digital Experience, Business Excellence and more across different business sectors. When not at work, Vuk is finishing his studies in Business Economics and preparing his bachelor thesis on “The Importance of Transparency in Business Awards.”

INTERVIEW SUMMARY:

Stacy: HOW is Awards International PIVOTING its BUSINESS DURING COVID-19? What advice do you have for others?

VUK: “This situation has definitely caused health and economic issues on a global scale. People don’t feel comfortable going to a supermarket for groceries or going to a pharmacy to get what they need, let alone attend a 500 people event. Therefore, we are in the final stage of switching all in-person events to online experiences. The plan is for our next four awards to be online from finalists’ presentations to awards ceremonies. It will be interesting to see how it affects 2021 business plans. We’ll all learn a lot from this year’s events. My advice to others is to adjust their short-term plans to the situation. Be innovative, seek advice and help. Do not forget about long term goals.

Stacy: HOW IS TECHNOLOGY enabling YOU TO HUMANIZE BUSINESS?

VUK: “Thanks to technology, we’re not out of business. We are still launching events successfully. They’re all online, and not pre-recorded. Participants from around the world are able to ask the trainers questions and share opinions in real-time. We’re partnering with our IT team closely for platform testing and ensuring clients have a good digital experience from beginning to end. Technology is also helping us record each session, which we send to participants within 48 hours. We also leverage digital platforms for the awards scoring and evaluation process. While we relied on the software before the coronavirus outbreak, it is especially important in times like now to sustain our operations.”

Stacy: WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST business CHALLENGE now?

VUK: “There’s so much changing every day. We have gone from utter despair to hope and despair again, then back to hope. We have written 4 new business plans in two weeks, depending on what the outlook is. While it’s hard to predict the future, the shift to an online awards program has been fun. Despite abrupt changes, we’re doing things we wanted to do a while ago. Now, we can and have to do them! There’s a lot of details to care for in the short term, and we need a good communication plan. It is extremely important that we walk our customers through the entire process and satisfy (even exceed) their expectations. Since we are an international company and the pandemic is not the same everywhere, we need to stay updated to what’s happening across different countries and continuously consult with our partners. It’s all about sharing and learning.”

Stacy: WHAT ARE WAYS YOU’re KEEPing work teams ENGAGED AND SATISFIED TO DELIVER CUSTOMER EXCELLENCE? 


VUK: “Over the past few weeks, people have been talking now more than ever before about empathy and care for others. I agree that everything starts with talking and planning, but how many of them actually achieve what they intended? The first words our CEO said at the moment the virus began spreading in the UK is that anyone who wants to work from home is free to do so. The possibility of choice is always appreciated and it greatly influences employee happiness. We have a daily 30-minute video team meetings during which we share experiences and advice on how to approach customers and meet their needs. I also want to mention that we started a marketing campaign called “We connect people” in which we publish our previous and existing customers’ articles on Customer Experience Magazine free of charge. We started to offer affiliate opportunities to our CX Judges too.

Learn about Vuk Vukanovic on LinkedIn & visit Awards International website for a list of events and masterclasses that include my friend, Ian Golding, who knows how to Wow The Crowd!

Read MORE INTERVIEWS….

This article is about what people around the world are accomplishing that they may not have if the pandemic never happened. I’m confident that you’ll gain some ideas to try while you’re home. Another article focusses on how a Doctor transitioned his NY psychiatric practice from in-person therapy to ONLINE in ONE WEEK! We spoke about how technology has helped him pivot while still humanizing business, and much more.

HOW ARE YOU PIVOTING YOUR BUSINESS DURING COVAD-19 WITHOUT IMPACTING CX?

Employee Engagement Tip by Stacy Sherman

1 Simple Way To engage employees & humanize your business TODAY

Happy employees lead to happy customers. That’s what Simon Sinek says, and it is very true! I’ve seen first hand throughout my corporate career how much employee satisfaction impacts company culture and overall results. As we live through uncertain times, employee happiness and inclusion are extra important and require creativity to achieve an engaged workforce who delivers customer excellence.

How To Create Meaningful Connections with employees Today

Form a workplace book club (virtually during a pandemic). The idea is more than just reading the same book, although that is a bonding experience. I’m suggesting to join Simon Sinek’s online community and read “Start with the why.” Each Friday at 3pm EST, he will be discussing a chapter and answering questions submitted by his fans.

My Customer Experience team and I are joining Simon’s sessions and also planning to get together on Mondays. WHY? To discuss key takeaways, learn from diverse perspectives, and become a better conversationalist.

Book Club Details:

DoingCXRight®‬ Tip For Employee Engagement

Here’s How It Works:

Step 1: Find at least one other person and read the book together. Be it with friends or colleagues, the goal is that we are doing something as a community.

Step 2: Send your book club’s questions for each of the six parts of Start with Why to bookclub@simonsinek.com, include the name of your book club and the names of its members.

Step 3: Tune in to YouTube.com/simonsinek where he will answer your questions live. If you can’t make it live, worry not, he will keep the videos posted on YouTube.

What Are YOU Doing to Engage Your Employees?

I recommend a book club as it’s great for the mind, awesome for leadership, and excellent for business as work teams unite and break silos.I’d love to hear your stories and I will continue to share lessons learned from Simon’s book club and related experiences.

Special thank you to my entire rockstar CX work family (not everyone shown below). You inspire me every day to show up as my best self.

More photos and articles to follow.

CX Team Engagement Meeting

Increase your skills & Transform your business by DoingCXRight®‬

  • Sign Up for my newsletter. You’ll get instant access to my free whitepaper about going from CX Novice to CX Expert.
  • Listen to podcasts and read CX articles.
  • Contact Stacy for mentorship and collaboration ideas at Stacy@DoingCXRight.com

*All views expressed are mine & do not reflect opinions of or imply endorsement of employers or other organizations

Stacy Sherman joins Adam Toporek and Jeannie Walter about Customer Experience topics

How To Be Customer-Centric (& not just say it)

It’s easy to talk about creating a customer-centric culture; there’s no doubt about that. But how it is actually done and put into practice is a different story. It requires a lot of community building and employee engagement initiatives to succeed. This topic is the theme of Crack The Customer Code podcast. I had the honor to join Adam Toporek and Jeannie Walters to talk about our favorite topics.

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