Driving Positive Outcomes During CX Day, Customer Service Week & Beyond

Driving Positive Outcomes During CX Day, Customer Service Week & Beyond

Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify 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

Every October, the CX community celebrates the professionals and companies that make great customer experiences happen – a celebration known as CX Day. It’s an opportunity to recognize great customer work, discover professional development opportunities, and strengthen professional networks. 

Listen to Stacy Sherman and Greg Melia, CEO of CXPA, discuss how you can celebrate CX Day and Customer Service week at your company with no or minimal budget. 

Show Topics Include:

  • Who is Greg Melia. Why passion around CX, and fun facts you may not know about him.
  • What CX Day / customer service week is about. How and when it all began.
  • Debates about CX Day being one day a year. Is that enough?
  • The link between Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and CX.  
  • Why purpose-driven companies attract better talent and customers.
  • The best leadership advice received and given.
  • One key takeaway for leaders to apply now for better outcomes.

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About Greg Melia: CEO of CXPA.

Spearheading CX Day‬ and Customer Service Week

Greg Melia, CAE, is CXPA’s chief executive officer. Greg works with the CXPA Board of Directors to ensure the health of CXPA’s culture, strengthen its position as the trusted source for all things CX, and leads the CXPA staff to support the vibrant, growing world-wide CXPA community. Greg is a Certified Association Executive, with 20 years of association management experience. Quick facts about Greg:

  • He was Drum Major of the largest drum corps in the United States.
  • He is especially proud of having taught his daughters when they were toddlers, the concept of equifinality.
  • Every January, he and his wife host a Burns Night party complete with tastings and poetry.
  • He was named a “Young and Aspiring Association Executive” by Association Trends in 2009.

Learn more about CXPA. Connect with Greg 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.



Stacy Sherman: Hello, Greg Melia. Welcome to the Doing CX Right show.

Greg Melia: Hi, Stacy. Great to be here.

Stacy Sherman: Well, we have been friends and I can’t figure out exactly where and what point we met, because it’s a while ago. We share in common that CX word, that customer experience and everything that has to do with it. So before I get too in-depth here, let’s start with who are you, and what do you do professionally.


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[00:00:38] Greg Melia: Awesome. Thank you. Yeah, Greg Milia, CAE. So the CAE Certified Association Executive, and I think that CX that we hold in common is the passion for advancing customer experience. And that’s what I get to do in my day job. I’m the CEO of the Customer Experience Professionals Association. So, you get the best of both worlds.

I get to do my association thing. I get to do my CX thing and I get to work and meet great people like you.

[00:01:06] Stacy Sherman: I love that. Yes. Do what you love, love what you do. And then it doesn’t feel like work.

[00:01:11] Greg Melia: Absolutely. You know, although when I was on a call last night, starting at 11:00 PM, it felt like work.

[00:01:18] Stacy Sherman: That’s a different story.

So why, why are you taking those 11 o’clock calls? Why are you doing this business as a career?

[00:01:26] Greg Melia: Yeah. You know, and I will say just so people don’t get the wrong impression, you know, CXPA’s great on work-life balance. But we also have huge aspirations on serving the entire globe. So last night at 11:00 PM, Barbie Fink, CCXP, our media past chair was

facilitating a conversation with about a dozen members from Asia and Oceana to talk about, what customer experience looks like and what a customer experience career looks like in Australia, in New Zealand, in India, in Singapore and that’s what I really like is that, you know, we have an opportunity through Doing CX Right, and through CXPA to help people not only better themselves and better their career, but really to make a difference in the world. You know, because CX is all about coming up with great outcomes for the customer and for the company.

And for the employees who serve them. So I will say I got lots of naps in last yesterday afternoon, because you get time off when you have to work at 11 at night, but you know, what makes it worthwhile is the people and the


[00:02:38] Stacy Sherman: Yeah, and I love the global impact that you and team are doing. And you’ve been kind enough to have me on some of your panels and it’s the best part, getting to meet people everywhere and, and having that human experience and knowledge exchange.

Yeah. You know, and we’re at such a pivotal point. I mean, customer experience CXPA itself was founded 11 years ago. The term customer experience came up in the mid nineties. I don’t think anybody even thought about the customer perspective prior to the late seventies, you know, so this is an evolving field where just like the pandemic has taught us,

[00:03:17] Greg Melia: we’re trying to create a better world that makes everybody feel that they’re included, that their perspective’s considered and that we’re gonna have a fair win-win, instead of big business pulling one over, you know, on the customer.

Well, yeah. And in talking about that, you actually really ignited diversity inclusion and equity and connecting it to CX and that’s part of the committee I’m on

[00:03:45] Stacy Sherman: and I love that.

Tell people why. What’s the link to you?

[00:03:49] Greg Melia: Yeah. I will share that there’s a lot of people that we have to thank when we think about CXPA’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion. One that I’ll quote, you know, really is Gary David, who is a member up in Boston and a professor at Bentley University,

and what Gary pointed out is that there’s always been a connection between the civil rights movement and diversity, equity and inclusion. Because if you think about it, a lot of the civil rights movement was that question of who has access? Who can sit at the lunch counter? Who can ride the bus? You know, who receives schooling?

And so if we’re going to be committed to making sure that every customer has a positive journey and that we remove friction, we have to consider the friction that’s caused because we aren’t recognize. That not everyone can speak as well or hear as well, or is of the same religious background or the same gender.

So, we should consciously think about how we can create systems that are positive for everybody or the greatest number of companies and customers, and a fair win for the company as well ,because those are big markets, you know, to also think about. How you can grow and serve more people in a way. You know, here during the pandemic, this video technology has been great.

And then the addition of captions and spaces, accommodates people who don’t hear as well. You know, it’s not necessarily deaf. It’s just may not hear as well. And then you have the ability to translate to another language. And now you’ve opened a new market and you’re like, It’s just, you know, diversity equity and inclusion is a gold field of opportunity, not a mine field of disenchantment.

[00:05:34] Stacy Sherman: Well, it makes human sense and business sense. Well stated. Yeah. What’s one fun fact that people might not know about you?

Oh, geez. When we start asking that question, you know, then you get the whole thing. Okay. How, how much do people know about different parts of my business and, you know, things like that.

Just something even personally, your background, anything just, who are you?

[00:06:01] Greg Melia: You know, I mean, just lots of little things. I’ve been blessed to have lots of different opportunities and and fun things. I’ll go with two sort of opposite ones and I’ll let you tell me which one you want to hear about.

I was a drum major for three different bands and I used to be involved in the wedding hospitality business. What would you like to hear?

[00:06:23] Stacy Sherman: I’m gonna come back to the detail after I gotta make sure I get through all this content, but those are, those are good topics. So hold on to those for a little bit.

Awesome. I wanna talk about customer experience day, CX day, customer service week. By far those are my favorite days, week, October, every year. Let’s talk about how did that start? I mean, CXPA really spearheaded this.

[00:06:52] Greg Melia: Yep. Yeah, I think it was probably in 2013 or so that the board of directors had the foresight to ask for a congressional proclamation to recognize CX day. And so CX day is the first Tuesday in October, Tuesday, October 4th this year and it is part of customer service week and that it is important because CX is so closely related to customer service, but it’s also distinct. You know it’s also a way for us to think about designing and creating

systems that allow for the customer to get the result and the outcome they want, without it becoming a service recovery issue or becoming a reactive request. So really thinking about design and delivery. But you know what I love about CX day is that CXPA was smart enough to create a movement

and what that means is that we empower companies. We empower you know, CX networks. We empower our competitors all to come together. And if you are united in celebrating CX day, we want to help you do that whether that’s with your employees, with your customers, with the general public.

[00:08:13] Stacy Sherman: I love that.

And I feel like on top of the world when I go to a company who’s never celebrated before and we take these small steps and by the time I leave, it is a global phenomenon. It gets to be part of my legacy, but clearly I can’t do it alone. So the power of people and an intention

is so important.

Yeah, totally agree.

[00:08:41] Greg Melia: We just did some research. Last week we’re talking about it will come out later this year, but it is journey mapping the first year of a CX leader in a new assignment. And you are stepping into one of those again and what people said as a need was to have something small that makes a big difference.

And I think CX day is a great example of that. You know, it is a time when you can help raise awareness across your company of what customer experience is. You can thank and celebrate not only the frontline customer service people, but all of the different supporters across the organization. And you can bring the voice of the customer into the process

so that people understand the difference that great customer experience is making out to your customers and out to the life. This year, the theme for CX day is CX drives success. And what’s neat about CX day is that CXPA will do a lot of heavy lifting. We will create an avenue for greetings from across

the world. We will create a set of conversation guides for you to use with your employees. We’ll create some videos and social media hashtags, and we’ll create some different images that you can use based on that theme. But most of all, we create a center point where each of you can go forward.

You don’t have to go and try to convince let’s have one day a year that we celebrate. No, this is, instead you can say let’s participate in this global movement. And on top of that, we, we better celebrate because if we don’t, we are going to look foolish because everyone else is celebrating CX day.

Yes. So some companies are resistant. Well, they just don’t have the right culture, but let’s say the ones that do what are tips that you have and I’ll contribute that people can celebrate in small, low budget

[00:10:43] Stacy Sherman: ways.

[00:10:45] Greg Melia: Yeah. I mean, first and easiest one, you know, if you’re a CX professional, draft a message that your Chief Executive or your Chief People Officer can send back out to your entire company and thanking your employees for the difference that they make for your customers. It shows your top level support.

And it’s a pretty easy first step.

[00:11:08] Stacy Sherman: Definitely. And I would say also is writing a handwritten note to customers and thanking them for their business and that you don’t take it for granted.

[00:11:22] Greg Melia: Oh, that’s amazing. You know, I mean, even something like that, you know, I’ll just riff on that. Yeah. Maybe you do a special around CX day.

You know, everybody likes to do a flash sale. Why not do a customer appreciation flash sale in conjunction with CX day. But on top of that social media is such a huge part of CX day. Use that opportunity to highlight and celebrate the story of a customer partnership or of a employee who has gone above and beyond.

Those stories are what make your brand real. They’re what make those emotional connections. And CX day is a great time to create that and share that because if you send it out the week before people are like, well, what, what are you trying to do? You’re trying to pull the wool over my eyes. CX day is a dedicated time for everybody to do that.

[00:12:15] Stacy Sherman: Yes. Now caution. Must not commercialize it. Must not use it as a way to say that you’re a customer-centric company, but you’re really not doing it. You’re just checking a box.

[00:12:30] Greg Melia: Yeah. You know, that is true for CX day and that’s true for diversity. You know, if you’re not going to live, if it’s not going to be resonant, that’s gonna be a problem.

And so this is something that I think more than anything else people need to understand that CX is not the responsibility of Stacy Sherman wearing the cape and coming into an organization and doing CX. It is Stacy Sherman, or whoever the CX leader is, coming in and igniting a movement inside your organization.

So that each department is committed to saying, how do I achieve my goals, and how do I make sure the customer’s happy? You know, how do I make sure that we’re creating a consistent experience? So that idea of teamwork, that was our theme last year, you know, CX is a team sport and it’s still relevant.

it’s just a different theme for this year. CX drive success, because we want to point out when we talk about success, we mean a positive outcome for the employee, positive outcome for the customer and a positive outcome for the bottom line. You know, return on investment.

[00:13:39] Stacy Sherman: I love that. Another thing that people can do wherever they work is establish what we call CX Igniters.

And especially if we’re in a big company and you have those champions throughout. If it’s a sales organization, if your finance team, whatever it might be, and use those people in their local areas to celebrate in the most meaningful ways to them, because you’re right. Stacy Sherman and people like me, can’t be everywhere.

[00:14:12] Greg Melia: Yep. I love that. You know, I’m thinking about if I remember correctly, I think that last year you guys might have had some food delivered in different offices and spaces. Mm-hmm and it doesn’t make sense for you to try to send the same cookie, you know, out to everybody. You know, what you want to say is, what does this office like?

And if that’s the health conscious one that wants the green milkshake in the morning or the party one that wants the alcohol milkshake in the afternoon, you know, you gotta get it right because it’s just like customer experience. You have to adapt it. But I love that idea of Igniters.

Maybe I’ll go with not wearing the cape and being a superhero, but being part of the hall of justice, you know, being part of one of these superhero collectives.

[00:14:58] Stacy Sherman: Yes, absolutely. And I also encourage people to use metrics as they figure out ways to recognize. So for example, find if you have a sales team, find those people who have really delivered customer excellence.

Your back office, your front line, and maybe recognize your top 10, your top 20, as well as those that had year over year improvement too. And it goes a long way because who doesn’t want to be recognized for the most important thing in the company.

[00:15:37] Greg Melia: Yeah. And what I love about that is making sure that when we’re holding up something as success, we’re tying it to demonstrated outcomes.

It’s sort of back to your point, don’t commercialize it and don’t try to change the conversation. You know, we need to make sure that we’re celebrating the folks that are driving success. I would add to that. One thing I would advise people not to do, do not make a CX day promotion about your NPS score.

The general public doesn’t relate to NPS scores. The general public relates to the question. How is my service? How is my experience? Who are the people I can trust and work? So share those stories.

[00:16:18] Stacy Sherman: I love that you said that. It’s pretty ironic, because I also just spoke to Fred Reichert who’s the NPS inventor and wrote 2.0 and Winning On Purpose

and we just talked about NPS and the evolution of it, and so you’re so right. It was interesting to hear his perspective on not tying bonuses to NPS scores as a specific metric, which has a lot of debate for sure. What your view on that?

[00:16:49] Greg Melia: We’re not gonna do that debate. You know, I will say I mean, literally, oh a week ago, I saw a company produce a social media short clip that talked about their rise in their NPS score. I think they went up two tenths of a percent. And all I could think of was I’ve never heard anyone ask, “I wonder what’s happening with the NPS score of my cable company?” What I’ve always heard, ” Is my cable reliable? Can I get someone on the phone? What’s my experience? Is the billing fair?” Yeah. And that’s what your customer cares about. NPS is a metric that helps you on a dashboard to understand the accumulation of those things, but don’t get overly focused on the metric. Get overly focused on the process and what’s driving the metric.

[00:17:39] Stacy Sherman: Well to add to that, don’t keen in just the number. Read the comments. Listen to the conversations. There’s the gold.

[00:17:50] Greg Melia: That and, you know, one step further, if your company is not collecting video testimonials or collecting, you know, audio statements from your customer, you’re missing an opportunity.

There’s so much emotion that is conveyed through that additional element of hearing the tone of somebody’s voice. The word choice that they have, the fact that they’re not editing before they hit enter as well as video where you can pick up their continents and their energy level.

You know, that makes an incredible difference. And, you know, you can put words up on a screen in a board meeting, but what makes a difference is when you put up a video clip that reinforces the meaning behind that number.

[00:18:36] Stacy Sherman: Absolutely. Oh, we can talk about that topic for a long time. Going back to diversity, inclusion and customer experience and all these purpose driven initiatives.

Do you believe that companies are focused on this, investing in purpose driven programs to attract better talent, better customers. What’s your view on purpose driven companies?

[00:19:06] Greg Melia: It’s interesting because there’s a lot there that is very close to my heart. You know, coming from the association community, what makes associations preferred employers is the fact that they’re all mission driven. You know, and if you find a organization that you’re passionate about, you know, as I am with CX, you feel good about what you’re doing and you want to keep working. The pay might not be the best. The benefits may not be the best, but you feel like you’re making a difference in the world, I think what we’re seeing, coming out of the pandemic is a complete reset of the contract between employees and employers. You know was just reading an article earlier today

and they were talking about Apple employees. Apple is in the process of moving from asking employees to come in one day, a week to three days a week. And a survey found that about three out of four Apple employees are not happy with that change. And that just over half of them are remaining open to changing companies.

You know, and that’s because they want to have a little bit more control over their decision of where to be and where to work. So, I think that where it’s important is the employee experience, you know, treating people in a way that shows that you trust their judgment. You trust their commitment that you trust their focus, a little bit of creating a space for them to do what they value most.

You know, if, if what they value most is being able to have their cat around them at the workplace, let them have their cat around them at the workplace, you know? And I think that that’s really important. I think that the one place where occasionally people overshoot on purpose on the idea of purpose is that people fail to recognize the reality of business. And the truth is

in order for you to have a successful business outcome, there has to be a profitable business model, and that profitable business model is going to require that you think about the cost of delivery, and you think about the balance. So, the great EX, CX debate is settled in my mind. If it comes down to a choice between

the employee and the customer, you’re going to need to find a solution that meets the customers’ needs and also works for the employees. If you find one that works for the employees, but doesn’t work for the customer, you’re not gonna have employees to be able to support in the long run.

[00:21:42] Stacy Sherman: Absolutely. And same with customer service reps and agents.

I mean, people don’t think of them as the front line. They think of, you know, your traditional sales people, but they sure are. And they are, they’re gold. So you gotta absolutely apply what you’re saying to these agents, whether they’re employees or independents, they’re so important.

[00:22:05] Greg Melia: Yeah. And I think that’s a space back to your point on metrics.

I think the early days of customer service, particularly contact center management, focused a lot on call resolution time, you know, focused a lot on almost back to the tailored school of management where, time and motion studies, how quickly can you do this task? You know, and what we’re seeing is that there are other models.

You know, you look at a market leader like Zappos, and they actually celebrate people for taking these long conversations. I’m not sure that I’d go that far, but I would say take as much time as you need to accomplish the business outcome. You know, and that’s a very different thing than having a metric to say, how quickly did we resolve a call?

How many calls did we do in an hour?

[00:22:52] Stacy Sherman: And take care of your people, forget the title.

[00:22:55] Greg Melia: Take care of your people, take care of your people. You know, I totally agree with that. And, you’re right that, you know, wherever those intersections happen, whether it’s with your customer, with your suppliers, with your partners, you know, those are all important.

And that’s one of the things that I’ve enjoyed in this shift through the pandemic is to be able to talk to people about where they live in the world. You know, what’s the name of their pet. To say hi to their kids on a call and acknowledge that we’re all humans. We have business outcomes that we’re looking to achieve, but, we’re also people who are seeking happiness.

[00:23:34] Stacy Sherman: Yes. And I love that. I believe you’re part of the CX day Argentina event coming up. Is that right?

[00:23:41] Greg Melia: We definitely have a lot going on in, in south America. Sometimes so much that even I’m not particularly sure of exactly what’s happening next.

[00:23:50] Stacy Sherman: Okay. Well, I will tell you that there is a lot going on. I am speaking as part of their CX day.

And, like you said, it’s a movement and it is really global. So it is so rewarding.

Before we go, I have final questions for you. One is what’s the best leadership advice you’ve either received or been given.

[00:24:13] Greg Melia: Yeah. You know, I think that this is a slightly different riff on the same thing that that other people have heard before. I remember early in my career, I was at a meeting. It was a committee meeting. It was on an issue that I had studied quite a bit. I was really deep in the data. And, I had in my mind a very specific outcome that I thought was the right solution to a very complicated problem. And, as the conversation was unfolding, I kept trying to bring that information to the table. Probably speaking more than I listened and being pretty adamant in the data that I was presenting. And, we got to a break and my boss pulled me out in the hallway and she said, Greg, you may be right. And you may be the smartest person in the room, but if you keep making people feel like you think that you’re the smartest person in the room

you’re never going to get the change that you want to have done. And, that really has been something that’s, you know, I’m thankful to Jane Sanders for sharing that with me. But, you know, I’m really thankful to that idea of recognizing that there’s more than one way to solve a problem. And the best way for us to solve a problem is to bring lots of different voices and perspectives together.

And to try to find that common ground, you know, rather than, than try to wave the flag and say, oh, I have the right solution.

[00:25:40] Stacy Sherman: I love that. And I absolutely agree with that. I’d also say to the extreme that I believe we all know nothing. We are all just figuring this out from parenthood, to work, to health, to use a car seat, don’t use a car seat. COVID, get a shot. We think this works. We all know nothing. Yes, there’s science. Yes, there’s very smart people in the world, but there’s a lot we don’t know.

[00:26:15] Greg Melia: I agree that it’s important for us to be open, authentic and vulnerable, especially sharing when it’s a challenge that we don’t know what the path forward is.

We need to be confident in asking questions and in the importance of asking questions. I will say, I do hope that my surgeon knows something. I do hope that my lawyer and my tax accountant knows something. But I agree with you that we are far better and stronger when we’re willing to recognize that it is a journey. I did a

graduate certificate in creative problem solving. And one of the big takeaways from that was to trust the process and be the process. And that’s what CX is. It’s a process. That’s what collaborative decision making is. It’s a process and we should be informed by the experience of many, rather than the experience of one. But, we should trust the process and acknowledge the struggle of the unknown.

So there’s my rambling.

[00:27:25] Stacy Sherman: Well, even your dentist and your doctors and your surgeons, you know what? They have a community that they’re leaning on to.

[00:27:32] Greg Melia: Yeah. And, that’s what I’m so excited about CXPA at the moment. You know, we’re only 11 years old and we’ve gone from being a community that was simply a peer to peer support network to being a community that is helping to collect and develop models

for how we document the body of knowledge, how we support folks in understanding their first year journey. As a matter of fact an interesting little side thing, you know, like what are we doing at CXPA. We’ve never published a book before. We’re currently planning to publish 13 books before the end of the year. That’s nice.

And that is just an amazing set of I think we have 52 different volunteers that are involved across the project. Just amazing to sort of see all of that and we will be stronger if we can get all of those perspectives brought forward. And, it reminds me of my favorite cookbook and the cookbook is based out of the middle east.

And after each recipe, it tells you how to adapt the recipe for the different cultures, the different countries and ethnic groups. And I’m like, that’s what I think we need to understand is that CX has a common recipe, but it needs to be adapted to the culture and the needs of all the individual pieces.

[00:28:53] Stacy Sherman: Yes. Final question for you personally or professionally, if you could go back in time to your younger 20 ish year old self, based on what you know now that you didn’t know then, what would you tell younger Greg?

[00:29:07] Greg Melia: Yeah, buy Amazon stock, right? Let’s have some success. I think if I were to go back, I think I’d go back, you know, a bit earlier than that.

And, I’d tell myself, that in the long run it’s not about the grades that you get. It’s not about the coursework that you do. It’s about the relationships that you build and you make, and that that is the important thing. So, for any of the high school and college students that are listening out there, it’s okay to just cross the bar on some of your classes if that allows you to be a more well-rounded person and build some relationships, because those relationships like this conversation with Stacy are the ones that are going to sustain you you throughout the way, because we don’t need to know anything Stacy says. Nothing. I know nothing.

[00:30:01] Stacy Sherman: I’m always learning. That’s what I believe. And, to what your advice was before we have so much to teach each other. Well, thank you for being here and in the show notes, I will link to you and CXPA, and just thank you for all the great work you’re doing and team. I appreciate you.

[00:30:19] Greg Melia: I appreciate you too, Stacy. So thank you. And really pleased to be a guest. Look forward to coming back sometime. Thank you.

Business and Life Experience Lessons From Mom

Business and Life Experience Lessons From Mom

Doing CX Right podcast show on Spotify 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

In honor of my milestone 50th Doing CX Right podcast launch, I’m so excited to bring you an inspiring trendsetter. Meet my Mom Eileen. She’s one of the first women Options Traders on Wallstreet, a well-known Bridge and Backgammon player, and a true change agent by every definition of the word. She’s had to go ‘against gravity’ to achieve success and shares valuable leadership lessons to help you reach goals no matter what rejections and challenges come your way.

Show Topics Include:

  • Life growing up in the 1940 with parents who were ahead of their times
  • How women can thrive in business even when a minority in the room  
  • The importance of a support system, especially men in the workplace
  • Leadership advice. Hint: there’s plenty of room at the top
  • The bright side of rejection
  • Ways to gain confidence and a can-do mindset
  • Playing the game that has to be played to win
  • Advocating for what you need and turning a “no” response into “yes”
  • One key takeaway for improving experiences and having a more content life
  • Advice to younger 20-year-old self if you could go back in time
  • And more experience lessons from Mom

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If you like this, check out my article

“10 Leadership Lessons From Growing Up With A Wallstreet Mom”

Leadership Advice From My Wallstreet Mom- Eileen Brenner


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.

Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Differences and CX Impacts

Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Differences and CX Impacts

Employee experiences impact customer experiences. It’s why there are a lot of conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. When employees feel valued and appreciated for showing up as their true selves, they deliver customer excellence even when their boss isn’t looking. They also help mold the company culture where employees choose to stay longer and tell others to join too.

A common debate is whether or not DE&I and belonging are the same? The answer is no. Pat Wadors, who is credited with creating the term DIBs (Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging) puts it thus: “D&I may capture your head, but belonging captures your heart.” I also love Anita Sand’s simple yet powerful definition.

DIVERSITY is a fact (the numbers are what they are), INCLUSION is a choice (you decide whether to include someone or not), but BELONGING is a feeling that can be enforced by a culture that you purposefully create.

To help drive more conversations and actions, happy to share a guest article as Dr. Anita Sands reveals eye-opening explanations.

The Meaning of Belonging

A Feeling You Never Forget

Every human can think of a moment when he or she felt they didn’t belong. It’s not a feeling you forget. Even as a kid, you develop ‘spidey-senses’ for it. Exclusion hurts and thinking of times when you didn’t fit in because of something you couldn’t control can teleport you right back into that sad, pit-in-your-stomach feeling.

Every single one of us has had those moments. Maybe you were bullied as a kid or always the last one to be picked for the sports team. Perhaps your moment was when you immigrated to a new country or joined a new company. Maybe you feel the need to play down or hide your religious beliefs, your accent, or your sexual orientation from your colleagues. Shaped by our own history, there are so many maybes and so many moments for each of us when, for whatever reason, we didn’t feel like we belonged.

The unrivaled power of belonging and the detrimental effects of not play out every day in our society. The recent tragedy in New Zealand is a painful example of what happens when some of our fellow humans are treated like they don’t belong, but also of the powerful and reinforcing messages that bind a community and country together when the resounding response to them is: Yes, you do.

The Liberating Power of Belonging

Think of that soul-destroying feeling of not belonging. Now imagine dealing with it every day at work.

Have you ever wondered if the colleagues who sit around you feel like they have to filter major parts of their personal identity out of their professional persona? If they check a part of their life at the door each day? How painful must it be to tolerate that sense of exclusion every day just to make a living? And yet it happens all the time.

For all our talk of diversity and inclusion (D&I), we often fail to recognize that just because someone is included in our organization, certainly doesn’t mean they feel they belong.

Organizations have worked hard to increase the diversity of their workforces and create inclusive cultures, and yet the results have been underwhelming. While D&I strategies are necessary for companies to perform at their best, they are far from sufficient. Unless the people in your organization truly feel they belong, regardless of how diverse they might be, you’ll never realize the full potential of the talent you’ve worked so hard to attract.

Belonging is a feeling and therefore a far more powerful force than any D&I strategy could ever be. It’s a fundamental human need, a word that translates across any language or culture, and a feeling that every human is wired to want.

The Smothering Effects of Not Belonging

When you settle for a workplace where you know in your heart you don’t belong, you lose your mojo. It hurts when you feel that only part of you fits in at work and when there’s a big difference between your “home self” and your “work self.”

In order to better fit-in, people will try as best they can to conform to the dominant culture. If that means downplaying a part of themselves, that’s what they’ll do — a phenomenon known as covering or masking.

Research shows that people mask to a far greater degree at work than we ever imagined. A Deloitte study of more than 3,000 people found that 61% of people cover at work on at least one dimension. More so if they are black (79%) or gay (83%).

Covering is exhausting. Feeling like you consistently have to “be someone else” to be a ‘cultural-fit’ is akin to being smothered from the inside out.

For those in leadership roles, the pressures intensify, resulting in inconsistency. Some days, you can adhere more to the way you think the company wants you to behave; others, you show up more as your authentic self. That variability becomes confusing and tiresome for your team.

On the other hand, when organizations succeed in creating a culture of belonging, the upsides are enormous — higher employee engagement scores, an enhanced talent brand, lower attrition, fewer sick days, improved productivity, better communication, and teams that fire on all cylinders in terms of innovation and collaboration.

Few companies would say no to any of that.

Belonging — The Gateway to Innovation

For businesses today, being innovative isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s a fundamental imperative. Diverse perspectives, new ideas, creativity, and risk-taking are the superpowers every company is trying to build. And yet, few have realized that their kryptonite is having employees who don’t feel they belong.

Closely linked to a culture of belonging is the notion of psychological safety — the belief that you’re not at risk of embarrassment or rejection; that if you make a well-intentioned mistake, you won’t be criticized.

In a culture where people feel psychologically safe they’ll feel confident enough to put an idea on the table and know that if it doesn’t win out, it wasn’t because of anything innately to do with them. Belonging creates the trust that’s needed for people to share their best thinking and put their craziest — and, perhaps, least popular — ideas on the table.

Not belonging renders people silent. After working so hard to recruit great employees, it’s a shame to think that any of their talent or ingenuity remains untapped merely because they don’t feel safe enough to speak up. Worse still, when employees don’t trust that they can express dissenting opinions without being punished, they’ll only say what management wants to hear.

Belonging has the power to liberate ideas. Think of it as the gateway through which your employees have to pass in order to bring 100% of themselves to the job. Opening that gateway unleashes their creativity and tells them it’s safe to take risks — the critical pre-requisites for innovation and change.

Belonging by design

Environments with high psychological safety are those that can genuinely harness diverse perspectives because people aren’t worried about picking and choosing their words or protecting themselves. Instead, they can focus on the team’s goals, not shying away from direct or even confrontational conversations, including with senior colleagues.

According to Pat Wadors, to create a culture of belonging, teams, and managers should reflect on three questions:

  1. How does your organization celebrate differences?

You can ask your employees about moments they felt they belonged and moments they didn’t. One of the world’s largest asset management firms undertook this exercise in preparation for a leadership offsite. They recorded employees, in their own voices, and then had the firm’s leadership team listen back in the dark, allowing them to truly hear and internalize their colleagues’ sentiments. The result was a breakthrough conversation where most senior executives shared their own stories and decided to make belonging a core element of their culture going forward.

Asking team members to share their stories of origin is also a powerful way to create moments of belonging. As a manager, it’s also important to tell your story. Give people permission to celebrate their uniqueness. Team leaders create belonging cultures by modeling openness and fallibility themselves. By talking about their own vulnerabilities and mistakes, managers encourage others to do the same, helping to mitigate any self-censorship.

Moving your organization toward a culture of belonging isn’t a straight or easy path to take. This stuff is messy but what matters is that leaders are transparent about their own learnings and sincere in their intent. Even a shared awareness of the difference between somebody being “included” versus feeling they “belong” is a step in the right direction.

What’s almost guaranteed is that organizations on this journey are going to feel like things get worse before they get better. It can be a hard balance to strike — to create cultures where people belong but also in which they can be unique.

Along the way, people will feel uncomfortable, and mistakes will be made. But that’s okay. It’s important to view that as progress; it’s to be expected when you move beyond a cerebral approach to diversity and inclusion to a place that captures people’s hearts.

As with all progress, it’s never perfect, but the end result will be worth: An organization where people feel they belong and, better yet, the chance for you to work and belong there, too.

Dr. Anita Sands is an independent board director, international public speaker and creator of the #wisdomcards series. She writes and comments regularly on issues relating to boards, technology, and diversity & inclusion. Find out more about her at www.dranitasands.com or follow her @dranitasands.

Taking Control Over Your Career

Taking Control Over Your Career

Are you thriving in your career or feeling stuck?

Lauren Hering, CEO of IMPACT Group, one of the largest woman-owned career and leadership development companies globally, and I dive deep into topics to help people earn their worth by doing work they love.  

During the interview, I answer a variety of thought-provoking questions and share insights to benefit others in their career. Topics include:

  • My professional journey including the good, challenges, and learnings.
  • Key takeaways from the Women in Leadership program sponsored by Schindler Elevator Corporation that positively impacted my life and career.
  • How and why I accepted a customer experience leadership role and making my mark in a historically male-dominated company.
  • What my mother taught me as one of the first women on the trading floor on Wallstreet, and a tremendous role model.
  • Why my passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion and how that ties into the customer experience.  
  • How building a personal brand is important for self-confidence and overall success.  Where to begin and ways to scale.
  • How journey mapping is a powerful tool to enhance the customer experience and linkages to employee experience.


Share your career views. Tell us what you think.

How Trader Joe’s Does Experience Right – An Insider Perspective

How Trader Joe’s Does Experience Right – An Insider Perspective

How do you keep employees engaged to deliver great customer experiences (CX)? There are many answers to this question, of which creating a company culture where everyone feels included, valued, and appreciated are significant factors.  You can see what “Doing CX Right” means by visiting Trader Joe’s, known for transforming grocery shopping since 1967.

Employees consistently go out of their way to deliver amazing customer service and experiences for each other. I believe that’s the secret sauce. There’s a clear commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), and shoppers can feel it. I encourage you to go to any location and watch people’s interactions, as you will learn so much about humanizing business as a brand differentiator.

Besides observations, I’ve gained insights from talking to Trader Joe’s staff at all levels of the organization, especially in June, known as Pride Month in the United States. (It’s when festivities, parades, and events occur to honor LGBTQ voices and experiences and raise attention to issues community members face.)

My conversations with store staff validate my beliefs about the connection of employee experiences impacting customer satisfaction. They go hand in hand. Employee appreciation isn’t just a nice to do. It’s essential for retention,  brand advocacy, and long-term business growth (see stats and chart below).  

A View From The Inside Of Trader Joe’s

Interview with Heidi Leindecker, Assistant Manager at Trader Joe’s, La Quinta, California

Stacy: What’s the significance of Pride Month? Why shall businesses care?

Heidi: Pride month is about equality and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community.  It’s a time to reflect on how far we’ve come, dating back from the 1969 Stonewall Riots to where we are today and unequivocally how much more there is to achieve with gay rights.  It’s a time to spread awareness, as well as a time to celebrate the freedom to be ourselves.  It’s about being proud of who you are no matter who you love.

Stacy: Is Trader Joe’s supporting the LGBTQ+ community?

Heidi: Trader Joe’s is a role model for hiring diversity and practicing inclusion. The company cultivates a positive image when it comes to inclusion and its brand amongst employees and consumers.  Trader Joe’s puts the employee first and makes sure that everyone is treated with integrity and respect.  Employees are treated equally in the same manner as customers are treated equally.  As employees are treated well, the feeling naturally overflows to the customers’ positive shopping experience.

Stacy: How has Trader Joe’s supported the LGBTQ+ community?

Heidi: Prior to same-sex marriage, Trader Joe’s supported domestic partnership by giving the employee’s partner equal benefits, including medical, dental, and vision.  They also extended the benefit of 10% off of all store purchases to their partners.  The company continues to recognize the partners of the employees by giving them an open invitation to all company parties and events.  Trader Joe’s has a Zero Tolerance Policy for sexual harassment and their training material is updated annually. For example, recently there was a video training that management and crew members viewed that included the importance of gender pronouns.

Stacy: Is Trader Joe’s doing anything to recognize Pride Month?

Heidi: One of the ways that come to mind how Trader Joe’s recognized Pride Month is that all stores received in June really nice cut and potted rainbow roses. These flowers have been very popular with our customers and were also advertised in Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.

Stacy: What can other company leaders learn from Trader Joe’s for their own employees?

Heidi: Trader Joe’s invests largely in their diverse employees and creates a happy atmosphere where workers want to help customers with a smile.  Employees are appreciated, valued, and free to be themselves.  They are encouraged to go above and beyond and they have the freedom to find unique ways to help customers.  The friendly vibe of Trader Joe’s comes from the personalities of the individual employees, in addition to the company culture.  Trader Joe’s encourages their employees to have fun at work and trusts them to give customers an experience that they can’t get anywhere else. The company believes in the importance of sending a clear message that they stand for equality and acceptance, not just during Pride month, but every day of the year.

Heidi Leindecker, Assistant Manager at Trader Joe's, Shares Employee Experience Perspective during Pride Month

Thank you Heidi for sharing your social views and business perspective. You are an admirable woman leader and wonderful spouse to my sister❣️

By the way….for data lovers

Global consultancy McKinsey & Co published an extensive report that reveals companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile. That number was up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014. Also interesting, when it comes to staffing, companies that have higher degrees of racially and ethnically diverse employees have a 35% performance advantage over companies relying on a “culture fit” that tends to trend white and monocultural.”

The Value of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Customer Experiences

Learn more about the impacts of employee experiences, and contact me to discuss how to improve your company culture through simple and effective tactics.