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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!

 

In mijn kinderjaren waren Bassie en Adriaan mijn helden op de Nederlandse televisie. Met natuurlijk de clown en acrobaat als hoofdrolspelers, maar ook met glansrollen voor de baron, B2 en Vlugge Japie. B2 was de halfdove boef, die of Oost-Indisch doof was, of een gehoorprobleem had. Zijn gevleugelde uitspraak was: “Watzeggie?”, als hij weer eens iets niet verstond. En ik heb de afgelopen weken vaak aan hem gedacht. Want meerdere malen zei ik vertwijfeld “Watzeggie?” tegen mensen van de klantenservice.

Als ik ze aan de lijn had, werd er óf gemompeld, óf te snel gesproken. Of ik had iemand uit Limburg of Twente aan de telefoon. Die accenten vind ik prachtig. Maar als het accent de overhand heeft en ik de technische informatie die ik nodig heb niet versta, is de pret van het accent wel weg.

Laat ik maar direct to the point komen. Verstaanbaarheid is de basis, het fundament, het beginsel van een goed telefoongesprek. Je moet kunnen begrijpen en verstaan wat die persoon zegt. Dat ik als klant aan de andere kant van de lijn – en in mijn geval met een goed werkend gehoororgaan – snap wat iemand zegt. En dan heb ik het niet over ingewikkeld taalgebruik, jargon of de inhoud. Nee, gewoon verstaanbaar Nederlands praten. Of Engels.

Want laten we heel eerlijk zijn. Heb je wel eens een Engelstalig callcenter gebeld, waarbij je werd doorverbonden met iemand in India? Ik weet niet hoe jij zo’n gesprek ervaart, maar ik heb vaak de grootste moeite om chocola te maken van wat er wordt gezegd. Het klinkt zangerig en verrukkelijk.

Maar als ik het daardoor niet kan verstaan?! Dan heb je in mijn optiek toch gefaald. Ik bel daarna dan nog maar een keer, in de hoop dat ik deze keer iemand anders aan de lijn krijg. Iemand die wel articuleert en beter algemeen beschaafd Engels spreekt (als dat bestaat). Dat zijn dan dus twee telefoontjes, in plaats van één en je bent onnodig meer tijd kwijt. Niet goed voor de KPI’s en zeker niet voor mij als klant.

Het is een heikel onderwerp. Want verwerp ik mensen met een accent of een dialect? Zeker niet. Maar het is wel belangrijk dat je verstaanbaar en te begrijpen bent. Zeker als je aan de telefoon zit en dat jouw professie is. Klantenservice is een vak. De basis ervan is toch wel een stem die ik kan volgen. Dus. Vraag aan klanten of ze je medewerkers goed verstaan. Luister gesprekken terug en kijk goed naar signalen uit klantfeedback. Slechte verstaanbaarheid is vaker aan de orde dan je denkt en je wil toch geen klanten, die zich uiten als de Baron. Die gek werd van B2 en steeds maar riep: “Drommels, drommels, drommels!”

 

Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 7 oktober 2020

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Het is een beroemd en prachtig boek: Liefde in tijden van cholera, van Gabriel García Márquez. Nu zou ik ook een intrigerend boek kunnen schrijven: Liefde in tijden van corona. Net even anders, maar met een spannend plot, de nodige ellende en een gelukkig eind.

Nu is er beperkte ruimte voor deze column, dus hou ik het kort en krachtig. Wij gingen trouwen. 15 mei 2020 was ons plan. En toen brak deze pandemie uit. Alles werd anders. Moet je dan wel trouwen? Een groots feest geven kon niet. Maar waarom wilden wij ook alweer trouwen? Juist, de essentie kwam boven. Liefde, onze mama’s en kinderen erbij en alles goed geregeld hebben voor elkaar. Wij wilden dus trouwen. Niet met een flitshuwelijk aan een balie. Anders hadden we daar wel voor gekozen. Nee, met een ceremonie en het liefst in het stadhuis van Utrecht. Natuurlijk in een klein gezelschap mét alle anderhalvemeterregels die erbij horen. We wilden een lichtpuntje, juist in tijden van corona. Helaas hadden we de pech dat de gemeente Utrecht bedacht had dat alle huwelijken óf een flitshuwelijk, óf een huwelijk met maximaal zes personen moesten zijn. De moed zakte me in de schoenen. De stoom kwam uit mijn oren, ik heb zelfs ergens ‘beleidssnurker’ geroepen. Sorry! (Dit verhaal loopt écht goed af, wacht maar af.)

Ik liet me niet afschepen. Niet door beleid, niet door zelfbedachte regeltjes. Bellen, twitteren en afwachten… Niet mijn sterkste kant. Misschien kwam er goed nieuws tijdens de persconferentie. Helaas. Ons lot lag in de handen van de gemeente. En daar troffen we Anita en Kitty (en vast andere collega’s waar ik geen weet van heb). Zij gingen op zoek naar wat wél kon, lieten zien te willen helpen. Lieten ons niet in de kou staan, pakten door. En regelden het! Wij konden trouwen in het stadhuis, nadat het ruim twee maanden dicht was geweest. De oude raadszaal werd geschikt gemaakt voor het ‘nieuwe normaal’. Met een plexiglasplaat voor de getuigen bij het ondertekenen en stoelen op anderhalve meter afstand. Ze regelden zelfs een livestream. Zodat iedereen die er niet bij kon zijn, toch kon meebeleven. Onze ceremonie was intiem, veel magischer dan we gehoopt hadden. De zon scheen: ik verdenk de gemeente Utrecht ervan dat ze dit ook geregeld hebben. De beiaardier van de Dom speelde Dancing Queen voor ons. Ik kan het nog steeds niet geloven. Het kon dus wél. Dank ladies van de gemeente Utrecht. Jullie zijn mijn helden als het gaat om liefde in tijden van corona.

 

Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 1 juli 2020

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‘Op z’n kop, dat is wel zo’n beetje het thema van de volgende CustomerFirst,’ mailde de nieuwe hoofdredacteur, Nina van Klaveren, mij. Hoe tof dat een jonge vrouw met zo’n talent deze positie heeft gekregen. Ik feliciteer Nina van harte met haar nieuwe job! Maar dat is helemaal niet ‘op z’n kop’. Dat moet normaal zijn. Je bent een jonge vrouw, je hebt talent, er komt een positie vrij en jij krijgt die. Natuurlijk.

In mijn carrière was dat helemaal niet zo logisch. Ik moet eerlijk vertellen dat posities aan mijn neus voorbijgingen, omdat ik een té jonge vrouw was. Niet genoeg ervaring had. Niet de juiste achtergrond met me meebracht.

En of ik competent was. Maar dat ik een mening had en die ook uitte, kwam minder goed uit. Ik heb dat lang niet begrepen en was er zelfs boos over. Uiteindelijk was dat alleen maar goed. Want die boosheid en machteloosheid heb ik aangegrepen om me te ontwikkelen. Om de activist in mij een nét iets handigere stem te geven en te leren hoe je het spel speelt in organisaties. Ik ben blij dat er aandacht is voor diversiteit. Voor gelijke kansen. Corona of geen corona, ook nu zullen er posities vrijkomen en die gaan naar de collega met de beste papieren, met de meest relevante ervaring of degene die er juist veel van gaat leren. Daar heb je zelf een rol in. Ik pleit nog steeds voor het uitspreken van je ambitie. Voor lef en durf.

Toen ik teammanager was heb ik wel eens tegen een collega gezegd: “Zonder bluf is het leven suf”. Ik had net geleerd dat het handig is om als iemand naar je ambitie vraagt, de functie te noemen die twee trapjes (echelons) hoger ligt. Dat blijft dan goed hangen. Ik zou Nienke Bloem niet zijn als ik daar dan geen drie trapjes van had gemaakt. De Raad van Bestuur leek me een goede plek voor mij. Enige bluf en ambitie is mij dus niet vreemd. Ook al moest ik leren om die ook uit te spreken. Nu ik vijf jaar ondernemer ben, ben ik CEO, CCO, CFO en dus CVA: Chief Van Alles. Ik ga voorwaarts, ook in tijden van corona. Want bij het ondernemer zijn, hoort het werkwoord ondernemen. Kansen zien, zichtbaar zijn, waarde delen en gaan met die banaan. Misschien wel meer dan ooit, gun ik jou en iedereen kansen en een dosis ondernemerschap. Mocht je op jouw carrièreladder ooit in een situatie komen, waarin je je bescheiden gaat opstellen, onthoud dan de quote van deze oude rot: zonder bluf is het leven suf.

 

Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 17 juni 2020

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Ik ga trouwen. Ja, het is me nogal wat. Voor sommigen is dit de mooiste dag van hun leven, maar wij zien het – en dat komt misschien door onze leeftijd en Nederlandse achtergrond – iets praktischer. Wij wonen niet samen, dus voor ons is het een dag van de liefde. Een moment waarop we alles voor elkaar goed regelen. En dat regelen, daar gaat deze blog over. Want het vergt heel wat geregel om dit voor elkaar te krijgen.

Het begon al bij de online verkenning. Gratis trouwen kan op maandagochtend. Wist je trouwens dat daar een behoorlijke wachtrij voor is? Negen maanden maar liefst. Als ik deze wachttijd zie denk ik meer aan de duur van een gemiddelde zwangerschap, maar misschien zijn deze twee aan elkaar gerelateerd. Dit noemen ze ‘eenvoudig trouwen’. Dit kan op maandag, dinsdag, woensdag en vrijdag. De donderdag heeft er denk ik iemand vrij. Haha. Sorry, ik draaf wat door. En dit kan alleen in de ochtend. Blijkbaar is goedkoop, gratis en eenvoudig trouwen ook iets wat je ’s morgens doet.

Natuurlijk kun je ook ‘gewoon’ trouwen. Dit is dan wel weer aan de prijs, maar dan mag je bijvoorbeeld in de oude raadszaal van het stadhuis trouwen. Een stuk sfeervoller dan op het moderne stadskantoor op Utrecht Centraal. Maar de locatie daargelaten, het gaat natuurlijk allemaal om de liefde.

En die liefde moet je wel echt voor elkaar voelen als je dit proces ingaat. Het begint met het registreren van je voorgenomen huwelijk. Dit is een nieuw woord voor ondertrouw. Persoonlijk vind ik dat erg jammer. Ondertrouw klinkt een stuk gezelliger, maar ja, al het leuke is er wel vanaf gegaan. Want je vult alles online in, het is een proces. Je voert jouw gegevens en die van alle getuigen in en hopsa: je drukt op verzenden. Na een paar dagen kwam de gemeente in de lucht. We moesten met zijn tweeën en alle legitimaties naar het stadskantoor komen, voor het finaliseren van ons voorgenomen huwelijk.

Nu ben ik er wel van om ergens ‘een momentje van te maken’. Dus we planden een vrije dag en togen samen romantisch richting het stadskantoor. Daar kregen we in de grote hal een nummertje uit een apparaat. We mochten naar afdeling C, de roltrap op en rechtsaf. We werden opgeroepen. Alle documenten werden nog een keertje gecontroleerd, we betaalden € 627 (je leest het goed, trouwen is niet goedkoop) en stonden na vijf minuten weer buiten. Niks niet feestelijk. Nog geen felicitatie. Gewoon een procedure. Ligt het aan mij, of is dit een gemiste kans? 15 mei kunnen ze het goedmaken.

 

Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 15 april 2020

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Emotions you really need to recognize when interacting with customers and employees. For all in in customer experience, marketing, sales and operations.

The last couple of days my feelings are deeper than a month ago. I feel sad when I see awful images on ICU’s and when I hear stories of loss. I feel disgust of companies that just keep sending their stupid sales newsletters through email, like nothing is going on. I experienced fear while my fiance had corona. I experienced anger seeing people that were just out in the streets, pretending the world was still normal and they could go to the beach or the park, putting lives in danger. But also, I experience joy while watching funny video’s, that I receive through WhatsApp. I felt relieved my fiance recovered from corona. I felt surprised when receiving a thoughtful handwritten card with caring words in my mailbox.

Somehow, my emotions are deeper. Are more on the surface and are more intense. Which actually not only happens in my emotional world. It also happens also in yours, your family, community, actually in the world of most humans that are now affected by corona. This requires that we, Customer Experience Professionals, people working in marketing, sales and operations, need to be aware of the intensity of emotions of our employees and customers.

We definitely need to recognize and learn how to deal with emotions to help our customers and employees in the best way.

To help you out to understand emotions and the range of emotions, I share the knowledge by Professor Robert Plutchick and his wheel of emotions. If you understand this, please use it in scripts, customer journeys, emails, campaigns, conversations, and probably many more situations. So, here we go….

The basics:

Plutchik considers there are eight primary emotions; anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, anticipaation, trust and joy. Plutchik argues for the primacy of these emotions by showing each to be the trigger of behaviour with high survival value, such as the way fear inspires the fight or flight response (info wikipedia).

How are the eight emotions related:

As you can see in the emotion wheel, each primary emotion has an opposite; joy is the opposite of sadness, trust is the opposite of distrust, fear the opposite of anger, surprise is the opposite of anticipation

The emotions in between the eight basic emotions, are the combined emotions. So disgust plus anger, gives the emotion contempt. Or fear plus surprise, gives awe. As emotions are complex, this way of looking at emotions helps to understand where these emotions come from.

The intensity of emotions:

The emotions I feel in these times of corona, feel deeper, like they are more intense. That is what Plutchik visualizes by the brightness of the colors in the wheel. The deeper the color, the more intense the motion is felt. When looking in the yellow column, the lightest emotion is serenity, more deeper is joy and the emotion in the most intense way is ecstasy.

Plutchik’s wheel of emotions provides a perfect framework for understanding emotions

Now what?

It is important for all of us, to dive deeper in emotions of our customers and employees. To understand what the emotions are they are experiencing. Because these emotions need to be taken seriously. As I learned on a mindfulness course, you can compare not taking your emotions seriously, like pushing a cork underwater deeper and deeper. In the end it will pop out faster than ever before. Remember my example of the company that just keeps sending me sales-oriented newsletters, that are in my view, not appropriate right now. I canceled their newsletter. As I explained the reason for my un-subscription, they reacted; “thank you so much. We value your opinion” Which I know for certain is a standardized email, so they are not listening at all. Now I am really done with them, since I will remember this for a long time.

Three suggestions how to apply the knowledge of emotions:

1. In customer contact – Acknowledge emotions when you have conversations with customers. Or train your staff to acknowledge emotions. It is proven, that the more you ignore the more red/purple emotions, the more they will intensify. This also means that in these uncertain times, customer contact with regards to health, money and other uncertain topics, will take more time. So take that into account in average handle times.

2. In customer / employee communication – Examine what your customer or employee is feeling and experiencing right know. Describe and acknowledge these situations and emotions, so people will read/watch on. Make sure that when you show video’s, that the person in the video, is honest and also shows emotion. A best practice, is the video of Arne Sorenson CEO of Marriott, who explains the impact of covid-19 on Marriott for the associates.

3. In Customer journey mapping sessions – Too often I see that Happy, Neutral and Unhappy are used to map emotions. You just read there are many more emotions and it will help you to diversify the emotions of customers. What are they really feeling right now and also, how do you want them to feel in the To-Be journey. Use the wheel in your design thinking processes. This more detailed wheel with described emotions might come in handy. It shows the diversity of emotions. Praise given to Danny Peters that uses this wheel in his customer journey mapping teaching sessions.

I hope this knowledge helps you to understand your customers and employees emotions better. Maybe even the emotions of yourself and the people close to you. Our emotions have deepened, maybe we even feel different emotions. So it is now even more important to be aware and pay the right attention.

Let’s get active; share your thoughts in the comments.

Was this article useful? Please let me know. And even more important, how could you apply or have your applied this knowledge? Please share in the comments. Let’s grow our understanding of emotions and the impact on our CX work even more. Thank you and since it is important for all of us, a little personal note; stay safe.

 

Nienke Bloem CCXP CSP is an expert in Customer Experience, both as Keynote Speaker, teacher of the 2 day CX Masterclass to prepare you for the CCXP exam and she is co-founder of The Customer Experience Game. Do you want to read her blogs or learn more about her? Visit her website or subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz.

Feel free to comment on this blog and share it in your community!

“De klantervaring verbeteren, daar zijn wij mee bezig.” Ik heb een gesprek met een CX-collega bij een overheidsinstelling. Bij een grote brown paper legt ze mij uit wat ik hierop zie. Een mooie klantreis, vol ups en downs in emoties en heel, maar dan ook héél veel post-its. Helaas niet van hele goede kwaliteit, want er liggen er ook heel wat op de grond. Maar daar gaat deze blog niet over.

Nu ben ik zelf ook een groot fan van de post-it. Superhandig bij al je klantreissessies, workshops, verbetersessies en wat niet nog meer. Maar ik heb me ook wel eens afgevraagd hoe anderen mij en mijn CX-collega’s zien. Of we nu customer journey manager, service designer of customer experience-expert als functietitel hebben.

Laten we eens in de schoenen van onze collega’s stappen. Wat zien zij en wat zullen ze denken? Zou het zoiets kunnen zijn van: ‘Hé, daar loopt ze weer. Altijd maar in de weer met die brown papers en allerlei gekleurde zelfklevende kleine papiertjes. Waar gaat die post-it ninja nu weer heen? En wat gebeurt er met die brown paper? Haalt ze die nu van de muur en gebeurt er iets mee? Of hangt deze klantreis straks als prachtige kantoorkunst aan de muur en is het een herinnering aan een prachtsessie?’

Ja, dat kan zomaar het beeld zijn. En als dat zo is, dan hebben we dat zelf veroorzaakt. Het is aan ons om te laten zien dat er echt iets mee gebeurt. Want waar zijn we anders mee bezig? Natuurlijk is één van onze rollen het klantbewustzijn van collega’s vergroten. Maar we zijn pas succesvol als de klant er iets van merkt. Ik weet echt wel dat we soms gezien worden als die post-it ninja’s. Als die luitjes met de grootste plannen en mooiste sessies, maar met te weinig impact. En daar zijn we zelf verantwoordelijk voor. Ook om dat te veranderen, want van dat imago moeten we echt af.

Wij zijn het aan onze CX-stand verplicht dat we klantimpact hebben. Dat we daar zijn waar de klant is. Dat wij die klantreis écht weten te verbeteren. Dat we leiders verleiden om mee te draaien in het contactcenter. Dat we soms met brute kracht de grote klantissues onder de aandacht brengen. Dat we af en toe heel subtiel door wat gesprekken te laten horen, iedereen laten beseffen dat het zo echt niet kan. Soms met post-its en veel vaker met de ‘voice of the customer’. Maar altijd met het eerlijke klantverhaal en veel doe-kracht. Wij als CX-professionals zijn verantwoordelijk voor onze eigen impact. Weg met kantoorkunst, hallo klantsucces. Van post-it ninja naar klantheld; laat dát ons streven zijn.

 

Dit blog werd geschreven voor CustomerFirst en gepubliceerd op 11 maart 2020

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The latest years I have seen many organizations that worked with CX Ambassadors. So many roles, and so many variations of domain of impact. For example, to implement customer improvements, or to be NPS ambassadors from all teams to make sure the metric and the thought behind it stays alive, or to build a culture of customer centric behavior, or to translate the brand values into daily work. As I have seen so many and some were a success and some just died a silent death (yes, that is a risk), I decided to deduct the nine elements of success.

1. Have common goals that link to the strategy of the organization

When people join an ambassador program, they want to understand how they contribute and what is the WHY of the program. It is the role from the CX team to give clarity on this element of belonging and contribution. Especially the strategy element is important, as people will be asked in their teams and their surroundings what their role as an ambassador is. Also make sure they can translate their work into the strategy and the goals of the Ambassador program. As a CX team you have to be able to answer the question: “When is our CX Ambassador program a success and how does it contribute to the success of the organization?” Because if you can’t, your ambassadors most definitely can’t either.

2. Make sure the ambassadors have time to act

It depends whether Ambassadors are chosen by management or whether they can volunteer to join your CX Ambassador program. One of the hurdles I often see, is that of time. People get their ambassador role on top of their daily work. Especially when working in the frontline, with operational roles, you need to be aware that chances are they promise a lot but are more likely to be scheduled to be doing their regular job. I have seen programs where people got 20 percent of their time to work in the ambassador program; make sure this is planned in the WFM and help your ambassadors to own this new role. Enable them to have conversations with their team members and management. But also, you have to have conversations with the leadership, to emphasize the importance of the Ambassador program and the time people need.

3. Choose ambassadors wisely

Who should be the ambassadors? A very interesting question. Should they be picked by management, is that the modus operandi in your organization? Or could you have a kind of an audition program, where employees get to do interviews and really show why they are a good match? I hope you get to have a say in the selection process and have a diverse group of ambassadors. Especially at the start, make sure you get colleagues that have belief in Customer Experience, that have the right energy, that are curious and that are at crucial positions in the company. Later in time, you can choose to also engage the opponents. Especially when you have the first results in, this will convince them, and it gives you the authority that you can engage all. And of course, make the Ambassador team a diverse one, both on background, gender, roles and global footprint (when applicable).

4. Give guidance and build a system of support and clear governance

Ambassadors need support to fulfill their role. Often their roles have an evangelist and activist element which has impact on the organizational status quo. This means they have to work on customer change and different behavior. That isn’t easy, so help your ambassadors with the resistance they will encounter. Create FAQ’s with the most asked questions and answers they might give. Help them with tools and interventions so they can really act on their role. It is also important that you help them telling the story, especially when the evangelist element is fundamental. Practice the change story together. Give them customer stories, video clips, customer verbatims, that they can use in their change roles. I often see communities with a shared platform, where all resources can be found. Make sure you are the activator and stimulator of this platform.

5. Share and reward success

Some ambassadors hit the jackpot and some won’t. It is very important to deep dive the elements that enhance success. What really works is to put the people in the spotlight that are nailing it. That are really creating customer impact, that raise metrics, that change the customer status quo. I have seen Awards for the CX Ambassador of the year, which is kind of formal. But I have also seen stories highlighted on the intranet and Yammer communities where CX heroes were celebrated. Make sure you put the spotlight on their success, but also on the journey towards success. Share the honest truth and give them the praise they deserve. And… if your ambassador program is a true success, give yourself the right platform and go for a CX award yourself or with the team. Whether at the Global Insights Exchange of the CXPA or the International CX Awards. This can give you the internal authority, praise of colleagues and often an internal leadership boost.

6. Get together in real life

This might be difficult in global programs, but it is of true importance that Ambassadors know each other. So they know their peers, so they can have conversations when stuck, or to build on capabilities. I often see Zoom calls, Skype meetings and yes, these are practical. But when you really want success, claim budget for real life get togethers. Enhance learning, networking and a real foundation of CX belief when you see each other. What I have also seen, is that when Ambassadors have to make a real effort to travel, they are even more connected to the program later. When you finish a person to person event, make sure you give the colleagues shiny certificates or other status symbols they can take to their offices. To show off and have a physical reminder of their ambassador status.

7. Involve leaders

Somehow, I have seen most CX Ambassador programs that only have team members from operational roles. Where are the leaders, where is the management? It can’t be that they are too busy… So, when you start and choose the ambassador team, make sure you have the option to also pick leaders. If that is not the case, make sure you engage leaders in a different way. Communicate regularly about the Ambassador program and mention their teams when they deliver results. But also have conversations when the Ambassadors fall short and they indicate they don’t get the time they need. These conversations might be tricky, but this is the only road to go. Especially when you feel some leaders don’t support the program. If I can give you one most important suggestion it is: include the CEO. Make sure he/she expresses the importance, shows up in a real life meetup, or in a Zoom. That he/she asks questions in meetings how the participation of the Ambassador program is going.

8. Have ‘who takes over’ conversations and an on-boarding program

People will leave teams, get new roles, get sick or might even leave the company. To have continuity, you need to think of this at the beginning. Especially when people are selected and start: be honest and ask what will happen when they eventually are not there. For whatever reason. Do they have somebody that can replace them, do they have a next in line idea? It is a good conversation to have, since this also shows your sincerity and serious approach to the Ambassador program. When they stop, give them a fond farewell, a big thank you. Also give the new ambassadors a warm welcome. Make sure you have a welcome/onboarding procedure. That is crystal clear on expectations. That helps you and the ambassador to start of in the best way.

9. When the vibe is down, stop or show stamina and refresh

The good thing at the start of a CX Ambassador program is that everybody is fully energized. Starting new things just has a good vibe. The lights are all green, the program has power, maybe even an own logo. You have somebody who is responsible for the selection, communication and the meetups. And then… after a year the vibe might be down. The participation is less. Other priorities might come up. What to do? This should already have been taken care of in the startup. To raise the ‘what if questions’ and the mitigating actions. But it will happen. This is the moment where you have two choices. Either you stop the program. With a real celebration of the success, a big thank you to all participants. Or this is the moment your endurance comes in. Where you show stamina. Continuity is key and you have to stick to the rhythm of communication. Make time in your agenda to prepare meetings, to tape video’s, to share stories. And when the vibe is really down: refresh. Give the program a boost with a new logo. With a new story line, maybe even a new face of the CX team.

When to start an CX Ambassador program

Ambassador programs are just tha bomb. Yes, I am an enthusiast and I have seen some great examples where the organization was engaged by the success of the program. You don’t start an Ambassador program when you just started the CX team. It is something to start when you have grown a little more mature. When the fundamentals are there: a CX team, a clear CX Strategy and of course the budget.

Your learnings

I am so curious for your learnings. I have two questions:

  1. What are fundamentals that you have encountered in your CX Ambassador program that really created success, that are your success factors?
  2. Please be in contact when you have a great Ambassador story. As I am writing the CX Travel Guide in English, I am looking for international stories and I would love to learn from yours and share your story.

So, please share your insights and comments and of course, feel free to like, love and share this post.

 

>>> Nienke Bloem CCXP is an expert in Customer Experience, both as Keynote Speaker, teacher of the 2 day CX Masterclass to prepare you for the CCXP exam and she is co-founder of the customer experience game. Do you want to read her blogs or learn more about her? Visit her website or subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz. **

 

>>> Feel free to comment on this blog and share it in your community! **

 

Last year around this time, I got to visit two of the greatest names when it comes to Customer Experience. Disney and Zappos. I traveled to California to learn all about CX magic at Disney Institute. In Las Vegas I got a tour at Zappos where I interviewed leaders at their fun property. Many of the learnings I shared in my blogs and I even published an e-zine on my insights at Zappos. But why did I do that? Why did I choose these two companies as my Go-To-Learning-Place for 2019? It’s all about development. Let me share my vision with you in this blog.

Buy my flowers!

But first I want to share with you that tulips are my favorite flowers. Nice to know, right? Or not? But hang on, it has to do with the story 😊. The picture you see is taken at the local flower market in Utrecht. Every Saturday you can buy all kinds of flowers and plants on this market. It is a very bright and happy place to visit, even when it rains. The colors, the smells, the people and especially the salesmen and women behind their flower stands make me smile. They get it when it comes to selling their goods. They look at you, recommend their flowers and try to lure you into their domain.

What could happen – and they understand sales really well, so it probably will happen – is that they seduce you to buy some flowers. Not just the flowers you planned to buy. But more and different ones. Which will cost you more money than you had planned to spend and they will take up more room in your house. Colorful, yes! But maybe not what you went out for.

Stick to the plan

The same might happen with development. You go out there, see all kinds of education and inspiration, but what to decide? When you go online you might get lost in a maze of development options. To learn new skills, get inspiration, be a better entrepreneur, learn all CX, be a better you. I know many people that get seduced to follow webinars, free events and buy education as a result. Sometimes for the good. Often maybe not for what they planned to do. Is that bad? No, but think of all the time and money that is wasted. So when I go out to get tulips, I get tulips. And maybe one extra bunch of flowers to give away. But I stick to my plan.

The big picture

That is where my big picture in development comes in. Every year I determine in what area I want to develop myself. Two examples to show you how I do it. In 2018 I wanted to learn more about comedy, about being funny on stage or when delivering my Masterclass. To learn what my trade was, when it came to this art. I went to a standup comedy weekend in Brighton with Jill Edwards, had a day course with Jeremy Nichols and watched tons of comedians. On stage as well as on Netflix. A big learning experience that resulted in finding out that I am more of an improv comedian, than a standup comedian. But it was such a good learning ride.

Personal and business development

2019 was all about learning more on CX. Really deep diving into my own profession and learning from the best. The reason I went to Disney and Zappos. And why I hosted the International CX awards and why I was a judge. Because we were also writing our book about CX, I needed to focus on my profession. An extra touch was that both Disney and Zappos focus on change from a cultural lens. Very handy with regard to our Employee Experience Game and the Masterclass CX Culture I am developing. This investment in me was not only an inspirational one, but also a business smart decision!

The plan for 2020

This year will be all about growing my facilitation and audience interaction skills. I want to find my own interaction games (I already have some fun ones, but I think I can be better). Not only in a small setting like our CX Masterclass with 16 participants, but also with audiences of thousands. I like people in my audience to be really involved. So, I have work to do. I will visit the Global Speaker Summit in Namibia in February to learn from the world’s greatest speakers and I will join the annual PSA Australia event in Adelaide to get some Down Under magic. In April I have booked myself a seat in a two-day Masterclass to be a better Master of Ceremony (dagvoorzitter for the Dutchies). I don’t fancy becoming an all-round MC, but at customer events, I love the role. Because I can add some Nienke Bloem and CX magic to the day.

Your theme for this year

So, what to learn from all this? The big picture. My question to you is, what is your theme for the year? Do you like my way of bringing focus to personal development? Or do you have other ways, that I can learn from? Please share, because there are far more ways when it comes to development, and there is no good or bad. Oh well, actually there is a bad one. That is doing nothing. Staying still. Not investing in yourself. So, when you are at the flower market, I hope you’ll be seduced to buy some flowers. I will get myself some tulips.

 

** Nienke Bloem is expert in Customer Experience (CCXP), both as Trusted Advisor, Keynote Speaker and co-founder of The Customer Experience Game and The Employee Experience Game. Do you want to read her blogs or learn more about her? Visit her website or subscribe to her monthly CX Greetz. **

 

** Feel free to comment on this blog and share it in your community! **