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The last months I spoke to over twenty CX leaders and most of them were just.. ehm, how to say it…. tired. They were tired of the back to back online team meetings. The lack of seeing team members in person.

So I asked them: “How do you stay inspired?” Most of them had no answer. They did not plan anything for inspiration in their agenda’s. Yes, they were longing for holidays, but that is not what holidays are for.

I think, staying inspired is part of your JOB! That’s why I give you 12 non-CX ideas how to do that.

Books

Oh, The Places You’ll Go – Dr. Seuss
A client gave me this book as a present. And I love it. It’s packed with lots of insights and wit (and Dr. Seuss had plenty of both). With his lively illustrations, inimitable verse, and boundless optimism, Dr. Seuss reassures us that we’re not alone in the maze of life — and that we’ll reach where we need to be eventually! If you need a quick and wonderfully uplifting pick-me-up, this is your book!

Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elisabeth Gilbert
Everyone can unlock Big Magic. Big Magic is about drawing out your inner creative whenever you need. This book is a love letter to the artist inside everyone of us, written in Gilbert’s conversational, no-frills, no-BS style. Whether your goal is to write a book, make a painting, or create music, Big Magic will help you accomplish it. Funny, honest, illuminating, and encouraging, it is a celebration of art on every level.

The 5 second rule – Mel Robbins
The 5 Second Rule promises to teach you how to become confident, break the habit of procrastination and self-doubt, beat fear and uncertainty, and be happier. As big of an ask as that might sound, Robbins more than delivers in this self-help book, which is built on the titular 5 second rule: the five seconds you should take every time you need to push yourself. You might enjoy her TEDx Talk on this subject as well!

Podcasts

Happier with Gretchen Rubin
She is the best-selling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before, wants you to embrace happiness—and she’s got the tools and strategies to help you do it. This engaging podcast, which she cohosts with her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, is full of practical advice on building habits for happiness into your daily life. Down-to-earth, insightful, and humorous, this podcast will have you on your way to a happier existence in no time: https://gretchenrubin.com/podcasts/

The Life School Podcast with Brooke Castillo
She is very American, but I love her way of thinking and speaking out loud. In this podcast she takes life’s topics, opportunities and struggles and helps making sense of it all. For example, episode 375, where she challenges her listeners to do hard things. Just wat Customer Experience Management is all about… https://thelifecoachschool.com/podcast/

CX Travel Guide met Nienke Bloem
Ja, deze podcast is een Nederlandse versie en net voor de zomervakantie hebben we de 10e editie opgenomen met Kees Klink. Hoe is CX georganiseerd bij PostNL? Alle afleveringen hebben iets speciaals, dus luisteren maar. Je krijgt een kijkje achter de schermen in CX-land. https://kirkmancompany.com/podcasts/

Movies & documentaries

Forrest Gump
A golden oldie, but my all-time favorite movie. A story about a boy that would never succeeds in life. But gets the support and belief by his surroundings and just goes out to life a full and big life. The theme song “Feather Theme song” composed by Alan Silvestri still gives me goose bumps. A feel-good movie, you just want to watch to stop having ‘bad thoughts’ and get out there and do what you have to do.

Inside Out
A 2015 American computer-animated film by Pixar. A great film to learn about emotions. The film is set in the mind of a young girl named Riley, where five personified emotions—Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust—try to lead her through life as she and her parents adjust to their new surroundings after moving from Minnesota to San Francisco.Maybe something to watch with your team or management colleagues. And to later ask “what emotions are our customers having at what moment in the customer journey?”

Seven days out
A documentary series on Netflix, where they film event seven days before they take place. From a Chanel fashion show to a dog show. Where I recommend you watch the episode Eleven Madison Park. As I always say “great customer experiences don’t happen by accident”, that is exactly what this business owner of the best restaurant of the world breaths. Watch is and be inspired, because it will question your vision on CX and will inspire you to spice it up.

Three things to go do

Museum
Yes. Go to a museum. Just as I did; you could see this in the video. Be inspired by great exhibitions, paintings, sculptures. By the way museums make you feel, the way they present stories. Buy artifacts in the museum shop and use these in your CX practice. Go with a leader or your team. Have a discussion later of what can be used in your CX practice or in your story telling. Don’t forget to take pictures of what inspired you: always good to use in presentations later.

Library
Every city has a library. You know that great building full of books? In the city of Utrecht they just opened a new central library and it is just gorgeous. The atmosphere makes me feel calm instantly and I just like to take books out of shelves. Sometimes having a question in mind and having fate answer it. I once did a Random Book Club session with Marieke van Dam and was amazed what inspiration you can get out of ANY book. Yes, you can search for business, management or CX books. But also try soul searching, biology, or even children’s books. So much fun to just spend an hour or two in your library. Or one in a different city 😉. I promise you, inspiration guaranteed!

Take a guided walking tour in any city
It is fabulous to go to a city and book a guided walking tour. I remember a walking tour I did in 2020 in Amsterdam. My tour guide was one of the best bakers of the Netherlands. He told me so much about the city, the buildings, but also his life. He even took me behind the scenes in the Waldorf Astoria and told me how to make the best croquets. What a fabulous experience! A guided tour always brings you new insights. And never forget to listen how guides share their stories. They know their facts, but the really good ones know how to deliver their stories and make them stick. They make sure you see the city through their eyes and you will remember elements of their stories, because they framed them. Just like a good CX Story should be. Like I can never pass the Vijzelgracht, without going for a croquet and saying hi! to Cees.

I went out on a 3-day inspiration adventure myself. I recorded a video in which I tell you about this inspiration adventure and in which I give you ideas how to stay inspired. My best suggestion is to plan inspiration time in your agenda. REALLY! Enjoy the ideas and let me know what worked for you.

 

You might think, this is weird; what does speed have to do with CX?! Let me explain and start by sharing my personal story of last month in Italy. Most of you know that I am walking a pilgrimage. The Via Francigena is my path for the next year. 1,000 kilometers by foot. A challenge that I have to take bit by bit, day by day. It will take time, but as I continue walking, putting one foot in front of the other, believing I can, dealing with all kinds of hurdles; I will get there. I call this my Slow and at this moment Strategic fundamental track. To think of life’s choices, find energy, challenge the fundamentals and grow stronger.

Besides my pilgrimage, I also had the chance to join the MilleMiglia in June. The 1,000 mile race from Brescia to Rome and back. Classic cars travel this journey in 4 days. They need a fast pace, a dedicated crew that helps if the cars break down and, of course, some encouragement along the way (that was me 😊). Roads are blocked off and a whole group of Italian carabinieri guides the group of 350 exclusive cars towards the finish. I call this the Result Driven Innovation track.

Both tracks require travel and are 1,000 kilometers or miles. But both have a different purpose. Just like we should approach customer experience management!

Tracks with different purpose and speed

Most Customer Experience Managers struggle to deliver results. Which might even result in losing CX ground in reorganization plans, or a decrease in budgets. I am not talking of proving your ROI, but in showing the organization that CX is making THAT impact, that it is lined up for. For really improving the situation of the customer in a direct way.

That is also why these two speeds are needed. Because what I see is that many CX professionals are focusing on the What and the How, the strategic fundamentals. The What: customer promises, brand promises, guiding behavior, defining design principles. The How: the way design thinking is done, building an architecture of listening through insights, creating training and guiding the organization to a consistent customer centric way of working. Yes, these are both needed! But know that Walker sees also a disconnect when it comes to what organizations and the C-Suite expect of you and customer experience management.

CEO’s want you to deliver competitive advantage and growth and profitability. Recognizing what CEOs value and what ultimately drives competitive advantage, CX professionals must do three things:

  1. Align efforts with the business outcomes CEOs want. CX professionals must connect the dots and show how CX initiatives result in concrete outcomes.
  2. Build an engaged customer-focused workforce by helping employees identify with the customer and have a voice in the customer experience.
  3. Lead innovation, coupling customary break fix activities with breakthrough initiatives.

Strategic Fundamental track

When I am looking at my theory on two speeds of Customer Experience Management, I suggest you build your CX practice around these two tracks:

  1. The Strategic Fundamental track
  2. The Result Driven innovation track

In the Strategic fundamental track, you are focusing on the long term. You define the What and the How and guide the organization towards the customer centric future. Guiding principles, storytelling, culture. Let me give you a couple of examples. In this track, you build your CX strategy (actually most of the elements out of the first discipline of the CX framework is in the strategic fundamental track). You define the future state of CX. You define the way you listen to customers and systematically engage the organization around the voice of the customer, also using metrics. You build business cases based on ROI and prove the value of CX. You define the principles of customer centric innovation, define how to prioritize best and build a customer centric culture program. You see? All elements in the What and the How, are guiding towards the customer centric transformation.

But this is not enough, you should also shift gear!

Result Driven innovation track

The Result Driven innovation track is where you show the organization that you really work on improving the lives of your customers and improve the customer experience. So, not just facilitating design thinking sprints, but also delivering prototypes, scaling up those experiments that have proven their worth. Working on closing the loops. Really calling back customers, fixing those customer issues that are broken and actually measuring the impact.

This my dear CX friend, is what most CX professionals are not doing (enough). We need to hammer on improving and delivering those results that are needed and once we do, we need to communicate our customer successes with the organization.

As Bruce Temkin so eloquently said “While CX teams need ongoing support from their executives, senior leaders are prone to doubt. CX leaders need to keep communicating the progress and success of CX efforts and demonstrate that resources are being well used and any risks are effectively managed”. What I love about this quote, is that he brings two elements together. Communicating the progress and demonstrate that resources are well used.

By only focusing on the Strategic Fundamental track, chances are you don’t have enough results to show. So, consider adding that second Result Driven innovation track to your CX portfolio. By adding specific CX projects, getting your hands dirty on these customer issues that need to be fixed.

Project #99

A great example is “Project #99” where Clint Payne CCXP won the title International Customer Experience Professional of the year in 2018. In Multichoice, a South African Telecom and Television provider, he identified 99 common customer complaints. Together with his team he created a bottom-up approach, where employees and leaders in the company were encouraged and helped to solve these often long time known issues. Feel free to read more on his approach and the campaign. What were the results? Escalated customer complaints dropped from 733 in November 2015 to 476 in Feb 2017, client churn dropped by 1.8% and self-service went up from 55% to 65%.

So, the three most important questions you have to ask yourself:

  1. Be honest to yourself, are you delivering enough direct customer results?(If no, or in doubt, continue with question number 2)
  2. What percentage of your activities is in the Strategic and what percentage is in the Result Driven track? (Are you happy with these numbers?)
  3. What can you do to improve your CX results that customers are facing and shift gear to the Result Driven track?

Enough food for the mind. In August 2021 I will continue my pilgrimage and the Strategic Fundamental track I am on. The MilleMiglia was this great adrenaline kick, and I will definitely be back in 2022 to support these fab cars and their drivers.

But for now: I am curious for your thoughts on my theory on the Two Speeds of Customer Experience Managent that are needed. Do you recognize the disconnect and the need for both speeds? Please let me know in the comments!