Release date: 01. February 2022
The CX Goalkeeper with Miles C. Thomas is about 5 steps to great service and great experiences – Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper
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Miles C. Thomas is the global head of customer service and experience at International Baccalaureate. Founder HumanizedCX & CX Wales. Chair of Judges at the CX awards and internationally recognized CX leader. A customer experience, success, service and operations leader for organizations such as Deloitte and the International Baccalaureate.
Miles explains five steps for a great service and great experiences
1) Engaging and empowering leadership – Executives who understand the importance of CX Buy-in
- Leader should enable the organization (e.g., from tools and training point of view) to empower employees to meet objectives
- One key success factor is to speak the language of the executives (e.g. about ROI)
- Technology should be leveraged as an enabler. The focus should be on customer
2) Culture, employee experience and empowerment
- The culture is behind everything you do
- Employees should have a voice (as customers) to create a sense of belonging
- Empower employees to make a difference: avoiding escalation and giving the employees the opportunity to solve customers’ escalation
- Trust employees (they can also judge situations)
- The right culture is key to solve issues
Miles shares a great example how to understand and empathize with customers, owning and clarify customers issues in a timely manner and make the customer feel happy
3) Build trust and advocacy (consistent service experience)
- Make sure that customer know what to expect from us (the easiest is to share an SLA – service level agreement as “you will get an answer with the next 24h”)
- A clear experience is valuable for employees and for customers (maintaining promises)
- Offering consistent experiences is key and keep customer in loop on what is happening
- Sometimes you can apply the “Random Act of Kindness” and provide something unexpected to the customers. Show that you care about customers.
The book of Ian Golding «Customer What» was mentioned as an example.
4) Understand your customers (VOC)
Based on three principles defined by Bruce Temkin:
i) Make sure that the service you provide meet needs
ii) make experiences low effort and
iii) make experience enjoyable
- Experience data should be linked to operational data –> to predict and make right decision
- The Voice of The Customer is more than a survey and should be adapted to cover the end-to-end experience
- It is important to have also direct conversation with customers to build a relationship
- Customers should feel heard
- Employees should be act and react on the feedbacks
5) Act on this understanding (be seen to act)
- If you don’t act you will stop getting feedback
- The actions create engagement
- Even if you cannot implement something customers suggest – inform them and show your appreciation
- Pay attention to complaints, here an action is always required an action. Understand how the customer is feeling, fix the issue and ensure that it is not happening again
- The actions build trust, make people feeling valued
How to contact Miles:
His GOLDEN NUGGET:
Best in class companies start showing that they understand customers, that they care about customers also in a broader wayTweet
Gregorio Uglioni 0:04
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this CX talk together with Miles. I know Miles since a while we work together for that CX World games, and it was really a great experience with him. I was really impressed about the customer experience, knowing that Miles has and he brought into into the team, it was really, really a great experience. But that’s not only what Miles did, perhaps you can quickly introduce yourself.
Miles C. Thomas 0:32
Sure. So I am Miles. Greg, thanks for having me on the show. It’s great to be here. I work at the International Baccalaureate at the moment as the head of customer service and experience. But I also released comments, thought and opinion to humanize CX Greg talked about the the world games there, and I’m sure we’ll probably come onto that in conversation. But it was a unique experience, I think, you know, really being able to make a difference. And in CX, often those initiatives take a long time to put together. But we’re under pressure to get things in quick. So I think that sharpened minds. And, you know, I’d love to see more from the CX World Games going forward as well. Thank you, Greg.
Gregorio Uglioni 1:11
Thank you Miles. And then let’s really go into the topics and in what we want to discuss, I went to your LinkedIn profile and did some research. And you’re really doing quite a lot. Today we I would like to speak with you about five steps for a great customer service. Could you please elaborate on these five steps? Did you define them?
Miles C. Thomas 1:34
I mean, they are my my own. Everyone will have differing views on what their five steps should be. But I think at a very broad, high, high level, this covers it. And it’s really about having, you know, engaging and empowering leadership, executives within an organization that understand the importance of CX, so that’s really number one. Number two, then comes down into culture, employee experience and empowerment. Not only is it that an organization needs to have good leadership, but it needs to empower its staff to be able to create and deliver the right experiences to the customers. Beyond that, it’s about really building trust and advocacy. And that’s step number three. And that’s around a consistent service experience. So customers know what to expect, and they trust you to deliver on what you say you’re going to deliver. That’s a key point. Number four is a bit more about understanding customers through a voc program. You know, you’ve got to, you’ve got to listen to your customers, you’ve got to understand them, you’ve got to know what what things are troubling them, and how you can help to fix solutions within the services that you provide. And I think finally, it’s a bit more than just listening, you have to be seen to take action on what you’re learning as well. customers really appreciate when they’re listened to. And action is taken as a result of that. And that helps build a sense of trust and advocacy for the organization as a whole. So those are the five steps at a high level.
Gregorio Uglioni 3:01
Thank you so much. I think now it’s clear which question I am going to ask you, let’s let’s deep dive one topic after the after the other, I think they’re all extremely important. Let’s start really with the first one, engaging and empower leadership. It’s the executive support the executive, the executive, understanding why customer experience is important, or only, let’s say why customers are important. What’s your view on that?
Miles C. Thomas 3:29
It’s it’s a difficult one, I think many people who work in the CX space will recognize that winning the hearts and minds of the executive suite can be difficult at times. But without that, that buy in, those people who hold the purse strings are able to make the strategic decisions as to how to move forward, you’re going to get stuck. And you’re constantly going to be fighting to try and make change happen. One of the key factors there is when you’re talking to executives understand what things are important to them. So if you’re talking to the finance director, for example, you need to really be thinking about what is the return on investment of some of these initiatives. You know, I’ve worked in customer service and experience for, you know, 15 to 20 years now. And you see the same sorts of things. And one of the clear analogies is that every company has what I term, high volume, low value requests. And that could be password reset, so it’s not working for whatever reason, and customers need to contact you. They don’t want to contact you about this, but they have to contact you in order to get in. And that requires staff at the frontline customer service to be spending time understanding the problem and fixing it in a one to one basis. So from a return on investment perspective, you can say, well, let’s have a look at this. Let’s understand if there’s a technical issue that sits behind this, let’s fix that issue. And that will then free up the time of the staff to provide an ever better and better service. You often find staff get quite anxious when you think about introducing AI improvement projects. But my view is that as you free up that time, you don’t staff don’t go anywhere they stay there, but you enable them to provide greater value. So that leadership is really the key pivotal, pivotal points you find in smaller organizations or new organizations, startups, if you like, that this seems to be ingrained from the start, I don’t know what it is about startup organizations, a lot of them are digital tech focused. But their processes, their delivery, the communications and marketing, it has an understanding of customer experience, at least to a good degree already baked in. So if you’re in an organization that doesn’t have those visionary CX leaders, and, you know, understanding those returns on investment, your job is going to be harder, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. But you’re just gonna have to work to really articulate how you can improve the experience that your customers are having, and how that will benefit not only staff, but the organization as a whole as well. So that’s, that’s really the key piece around leadership for me. Of course, there are many different styles of leadership, and how that works. And that will differ from organization to organization. My view is that leaders need to focus a lot of their efforts on creating the right tools, training and empowerment for staff to meet the objectives and goals of the organization as a whole. That is a key piece.
Gregorio Uglioni 6:32
Thank you, Miles, I think this is really an important topic, let’s start about speaking return on investment. It’s clear at the end, we are companies, we need to make money. And therefore it’s important to show a return on on a value. I like also what you were saying about technology, and you use the word enablement. And I think technology is really an enabler for a great customer experience. But it’s not distribution. Most most people or most senior people say, Oh, I found out the good technology, let’s use it, please do the project. Now. It’s only let’s solve a customer issue a customer need needs. And then we can we can discuss about which technology can support that. And then you want to also the staff I liked very much that you said staff and not call center agents or something like that. You said staff these days using cast members. And therefore it’s really important also to care about the employees were those are the beginning of discussion about employees. Are they are important. What What can you do for them? And we come to the second point that you mentioned, it’s culture, employee experience and empowerment. Do we have also some examples that you can share with us?
Miles C. Thomas 7:43
Yeah, absolutely. A cult culture is key to an organization is sort of the lifeblood as of the staff really they are they are what sits behind everything you do. And just before I carry on with that point, just to come back to technology, I think what you said there about an executive finds a piece of technology says this is great, let’s be embedded. I think Steve Jobs might have a few words to say about that. From beyond the pale, of course. But you know, you must start with thinking about what you’re trying to solve. What I see, today, a lot of this companies will implement technology that looks shiny on the shelf, and they implement it, and then they say goodbye, and they let it run. The problem with technology today is not that it can’t do what you need it to is that there isn’t always an investment on the ongoing improvements that happen. They think it’s a switch that goes on. And that’s the end of it. And that’s where staff can come in and staff culture to say, you know, okay, we’ve embedded this new tool within the organization, whether it be you know, Salesforce or another tool that you happen to be using. And you naturally learn as you go along and you implement things, you know what things need to change and what things need to improve. And having that employee voice, they’re not only about thinking about what customers need, but thinking about what staff needs. So you might have a voc you might have a voice of the customer initiative within your organization where you’re listening, you need its counterpart for employees to say, you know, actually, I’m trying to provide service here to our customers. But in order to help this common situation with access to one of our systems, I need to go into this system, this system, this system, I find I can’t fix it at this point, it needs to go to an engineer. It’s about simplicity, and that first contact resolution. But when we talk about culture and employee experience and empowerment more generally, it’s a sense of belonging within an organization, it’s a sense that you have a voice within an organization that you will be listened to. And from the leadership perspective, again, it’s saying that, you know, we need to make sure that they have our staff have the tools training and empowerment to make a difference. So if you come onto impairment as one of those items, if a customer phones you and they say, you know, I paid for this service, I’ve had a terrible experience, it didn’t work, whatever it might be. Many organizations will say, I’m sorry, you can’t do anything, you need to escalate it up to an executive level for a decision as to whether we can provide a 10% discount code, whatever that might be. What you need to have is staff at the frontline, who you trust to make informed judgments, where they can delight the customer in that moment to say, look, I’m so sorry, you’ve had this experience, this isn’t the way we would have liked it to work, you know, I hope that you’ll accept a 50% refund or whatever that might be coming back. I had an experience a few months ago with innocent drinks. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of them, but they make smoothies. And we were we gave our daughter a patch of a smoothie. And we realized that what was coming through the straw was not smoothie, but a clear liquid. So we were really concerned, but that we didn’t know what it was. And we contacted them on Twitter and LinkedIn while I did. And instantly they came back. And they understood that I was concerned that I don’t know what my daughter had consumed. And they said, Don’t worry, this is safe. It’s something we use to clean them out the patches before we put the smoothie liquid into them. And we’re really sorry, you’ve had this experience, this isn’t what we expect, we’d like to hear a little bit more about your daughter and what she likes. So I told him that she loves Mickey Mouse. And they sent a letter with vouchers with a hand drawn Mickey Mouse on it saying, We’re so sorry, and but my daughter’s name. We hope this hasn’t affected your experiences smoothly with our with our drinks, here are some vouchers so you can enjoy more smoothies free on us. And that’s, that’s an example of employee empowerment right there, that the very first person I spoke to whether it be Twitter, social comms, they understood the problem, they owned it, they resolved it. And that made me feel good as a customer. And I will continue to buy innocent smoothies forever, most likely. So there we go. It’s culture, you can tell from that interaction that the staff, within innocent smoothies feel empowered to make a difference, they feel empowered to correct situations that might have gone wrong. And if you don’t have the right culture, staff are thinking, okay, they’ve had a bad experience, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ll pass it on to somebody else further up the chain, which slows the response, you know, and it just goes on and on from that.
Gregorio Uglioni 12:28
I think this is a great example that that explained quite a lot together. On one side, this being empathetic understanding what was your issue that you had really big question what’s happening, it’s perhaps in my, my daughter is endangered, or what we can do, and then also finding quite weak a solution. Because at the end, if a customer is conducting a company, they don’t care if it’s one department or do that, it’s a brand. And then you have something like brand promise, or your brand. And they expect the same experience. And so said, I think this is this is a key to empower the employees. And therefore you need to have employees you trust. And then you don’t need to script everything, what they’re allowed to say, because you trust them. And this is key I I fully agree with you. And I think we are also coming to the third point from from your list. And this is build trust and advocacy, consistent service experience. Also there, I think it would be great if you could share your experiences also with these nice, nice example that people can really understand what what we are discussing about.
Miles C. Thomas 13:36
Yeah, so I mean, building that level of trust and advocacy is, is the key points. And one of the ways that you can show your customers that you care about them, if you want to put it that way is to make sure that they know what to expect when they interact with you. And that can be as simple as a service level agreement that if you contact us, we will respond within this particular point of time. I think it’s easier actually to book to talk about what what disrupts or detract away from that sense of advocacy from a lack of consistency. So when you’re working with companies and buying services from them, you might encounter similar issues. And you could maybe contact on Twitter and contact on their support email address, and get two different answers to your question. What does that tell you what to make you think? Well, this company they don’t know what they’re talking about? One person is telling me this, and one person’s telling me this. And one of the best ways to fix that is about having very clear experience paths. So you design to common questions. And that again, helps to empower staff because they have clarity on exactly what they need to be doing within a given situation. Now, one of the one of the things that I think’s really interesting here is that whilst consistency is really important for building advocacy and trust There’s a concept called random acts of kindness. And that’s a really interesting one where you provide something that is unexpected. And that seems to run in in the opposite direction for what I’m saying about consistency, in that the customer might expect something brilliant next time that they have an interaction with you, I actually think both can be true, I think you can be consistent and on occasion provide an exceptional experience where, where that is warranted. So, again, consistency means that expectations are really clearly set. When I contact Company X, Y, Zed about a specific problem, I know how they’re going to handle it. And that knowing might be a positive or negative. In actual fact, I had an experience about a year ago where I bought an iPad for another one of my daughters who considering having daughters is an expensive thing. So you know, it carries on like that for many, many years. And the iPad didn’t arrive on time, for an important date. Despite my continuous emails, now, in my emails, I’m saying that all I want to know is when when I’m likely to receive this. And then I get a message back saying yes, you will receive this within seven days, absolutely. We own this, we’re going to get it to you. Seven Days came and went, didn’t arrive eye contact again. And they say, oh, yeah, it’s because we don’t have any in stock, we’re waiting for some to come through. We know there’ll be here tomorrow, we’ll phone you to make sure to let you know exactly when you can expect it. The next day, no phone call comes. All of this is building up in my mind a sense of mistrust. This carried on for a long period of time, in the end, they came through the iPad arrived, they gave me some free air pods and a case. But the problem is that despite them trying to fix it at that point, the mistrust I had leading up to that point means I probably wouldn’t use that company again. And when you think as a customer about how you interact with companies, it’s really similar to how you interact with people. So when you meet somebody, they will tell you something about themselves. And you will take that on trust on face value, you will accept what they’re telling you is true. I’m a good person, I’m honest, I will always respond to your queries, that sort of thing. But it’s the culmination of the interactions you have going forward, that helps cement a real internal idea of what that person is truly like. And that can again be positive or negative. And that is quite an agile construct within one’s mind. But if you go too far down one path or the other, it becomes more solid. Where am I going with this? Not really sure, to be honest. But in order to build trust, it’s about understanding the expectations of a company. It’s about them maintaining their promises, keeping you in the loop, understanding you and showing you through the interactions that they care about you that builds trust and advocacy, consistent service is one of the key measures within that. Of course, there are others as well.
Gregorio Uglioni 18:20
If I summarize what you say, no, no, but it’s really bring me to think about it. And it’s really it’s not prepare, not pre discussed. But I’m thinking now about the book of Ian Golding customer world, where you define their customer experience strategy. And there are different levels, perhaps I don’t mention every level, but you talk about which experience do we want to offer? Let’s say the customer experience strategy in one sentence, what are our customer? And then what is what are the expectations of the customer? It’s simplicity, is ease, ease of use is speed receiving the staff quite quickly. And this is what customer want. And then I define as the brand desired experience that it’s aligned with the customer expectation, and therefore what you said, it makes fully sense, and it’s extremely understandable. And if a company has a customer experience, strategy, the easiest way to define that it’s in Ian Golding book it’s based on some pillar and the biggest the two most important are What are the customer expectations and the desired experience that I want to offer to them. And this is exactly what you were saying which which are examples.
Miles C. Thomas 19:38
Ian will be pleased to hear that. You might be talking about “customer what” is not the book you’re referring to. I have a copy somewhere.
Gregorio Uglioni 19:47
Yeah. Speaking exactly about this book. It’s really a practical guide. And I like it very much because I can use and reuse it. And also when I’m speaking in the company about customer experience, there Quite a lot of examples that I can reuse, and it makes it understandable. And based on what we are saying also to the next topic that you mentioned, it’s really about understanding the customer, what are the customer expectation? What are the customer needs using voice of the customer.
Miles C. Thomas 20:18
This is, this is a really big error actually in itself. And you could probably have an entire conversation just about this. But I tend to lean on Bruce Temkin and his principles here to say, you know, you’ve got to make sure that the service that you provide meets needs, the level of effort needs to be low, and it needs to be an enjoyable experience. So those are the three constructs that sort of slip through nearly all of my thinking. I mean, more recently, Bruce Temkin his thoughts via Qualtrics really around using the combination of x data, experience data and old data, operational demographic data. And it’s a combination that can help you predict and make the right choices moving forward. Of course, we’re not talking about that specific point here. Understanding customers is a huge effort, there are multiple ways to do it. Of course, you’ve got surveys, you’ve got relationship managers, if you like that, regularly talk to customers, you’ve got customer rooms, you’ve got customer advisory boards, where they can come in and say, you know, we’re not sure you’re going in the right direction here and check back if you like. So when you talk about understanding your customers, it’s far more than just a survey, where you say, Were you satisfied with the service you received? Of course, that’s good information to have. But can you do anything with that data? Not really. So when you think about Voc, it needs to be an enterprise wide approach, it needs to be end to end. And it needs to be very, very, very well structured. Now, when it comes to customer service, of course, you can ask questions within a survey. And we do very similar to this, we say, you know, how easy or difficult? Did you find it To get help today? Did you feel supported and valued as a customer? When you contacted us? Did they display empathy, that sort of thing? And, you know, for other types of services, maybe digital services, you would talk about? Thinking about why you logged on to our system today, were you able to achieve your goal? Of course, these are not the exact words you would use, but they should be pegged back to those three key principles. Did we did we provide value? Were you able to complete your objective as a customer? How easy or difficult? Was it to achieve your objective? And did you feel good about this interaction? Did you feel that we cared about you? That is one aspect. Other aspects have direct conversations with customers about particular subjects where we know some big changes coming up in the future, we want to reach out because we’re thinking about making some changes. And we want to understand if we’re getting it right. Far too often, decisions are made in in organizations about big change programs. And they’re based on assumptions of what we think customers want. And what can happen that it was you end up spending 10s of millions of dollars, you roll something out, and then you suddenly discover it actually doesn’t provide much value to the customer at all. And that can be a hugely expensive mistake to make. The key here is that it’s not just about the surveys, it’s about building a relationship with your customers. And that can be difficult in really big organizations where it’s very operationally driven. But it’s still important, and there’s still ways to do it. So you think about your demographics, the demographics of your customers, you think about the personas that you have across different types of customer. And you can be very strategic in pulling the right people into the conversations to help you understand them better at key points within any cyclical journeys that you might have within that organization. And that has more than one impact. It’s not just about helping to understand the customer and build services, products, technologies that meet their needs, add value are easy and enjoyable. It’s also about the fact that customers will feel heard, and that really comes on 2.5. I think not only listening to them, understanding them delivering value, the right service, but being seen to react or act when they have an issue as well.
Gregorio Uglioni 24:36
I think what what you’re saying I can fully be because there you have quite a lot of data that you can reuse and we spoke about technology. Nowadays there are quite a lot of technology that you can use in order to make the data understandable and also find correlation. We had a discussion about correlating NPS with revenues correlating customer complaints with With revenues, and these are also key information that you can leverage and reuse. These are more quantitative. And then you have also quite a lot of qualitative feedbacks. The last time the last podcast I was, I was listening to, they spoke about this voice of the customer, like free of charge consultants giving you feedback. And at the end is really something like that, because you get free of charge feedback. And important is to do something with this. And we come out to your point, point number five. That’s one of the I really like to discuss today. Because let’s, let’s say the force, the four topics we discussed, everybody’s discussing about that. I, I often not, I don’t really get from everybody, or to the point we need to act, we need to do something we need to change for the better to increase experience. What’s your view on that?
Miles C. Thomas 26:01
You talked about complaints there as well. And that’s a key part of this. And that’s where you see a more direct correlation between needing to be seen to take action. Absolutely. The worry is that if you don’t take action, or you don’t make change happen, you’ve stopped getting the feedback. So I think that’s point number one, that’s the biggest risk. If customers complain, you don’t do anything about it, they’ll stop complaining, they’ll go quiet, and then they’ll disappear. And it’s the same here as well. I mean, there are some great and innovative ways in which you can listen to your customers, I was reviewing one last week, which is it’s a Salesforce products, I don’t work for Salesforce or have any affiliation with them, I should just say that something called the ideas engine, and what you can do with this as you can, digitally you have a place for community, whereby you can do one of two things you can say, we’re thinking about launching this new service, or we’re thinking about changing the service. And this is what we’re thinking, we’d love to get your input on that. And then customers can feedback and give you their viewpoints. Or customers can go here, and they can say, I think it’d be a great idea if you implemented this change or did something differently. And what you have, there is an opportunity where you can build that trust. And you can build that relationship with your customers on a big scale, you know, not one to one conversations necessarily, where you can say, Okay, we think that you’ve got a really good idea there, and we’re going to implement it. Equally, though, you will always get recommendations from customers that you truly can’t implement. I mean, the cost would be too high, or there would be other issues with it, it’s equally important to be going back to their customer and saying, you know, thank you so much for your feedback here. And your idea, whilst we loved your enthusiasm, and the idea you had, this is not something we’re going to be able to implement. And this is the reason why we can’t implement it. So the action is not always affirmative in that sense that you would roll out everything that your customers asked for. But even when you can’t, there is an opportunity to thank them for, you know, putting themselves forward. And that will make you know, that would make me feel good about myself. If I said to accompany, I’d love it if you implemented this, this fix or this change. And they said, you know, thank you. We can’t do it. But this is the reason why. Because so often you just either get no answer, or just a flat. Now, complaints, again, is a different area, it’s a key bit of data that you need to pay very close attention on. And where you have complaints, typically, they would be around the lack of provision provision of the paid for service costs. There are other reasons for complaints, of course. And that does require an action. And at no point within a complaint being raised, should there be any defensiveness from the organization, it should be very much about trying to understand how that customer is feeling right now, without customers or other companies, right? It’s, you know, the end of the road. And the organization’s task is to make sure that a great deal of effort is placed on not only fixing that individual complaint that’s being made, but taking that complaint and looking across your organization to see if that could potentially happen again. So there are two things you can do there. One is to design the experience around that potential complaint coming up again until you can actually resolve it and stop it from happening in the first place. So that’s really about acting on the understanding it’s about building the relationship building the trust and making people feel valued. Actually, I think that’s probably the key thing. We I think we all you know, depending on the type of company you’re you’re dealing with if I’m going to buy a house or a car big ticket items, that’s the easiest analogy. You expect to be treated very, very well. And it can be very, it can be bizarre actually, sometimes when you think about House buying, you know, hundreds of 1000s of pounds, francs, whatever currency you’re talking about. And yet it feels very perfunctory. You don’t feel valued, it’s just about getting you to sign that piece of paper. And, you know, that should be turned around. companies who provide services that are much lower monetary value, often do an excellent job in making you feel valued. So why can’t happen, when you’re looking at those big ticket items, it should be 100 times better in reality?
Gregorio Uglioni 30:43
Sure, I think I can only say I fully agree. And this is everything based on closing the loop. Because if you’re in a relationship with with your customer, you trust them, they trust you, then you need also to have discussion and keep telling them Yes, I can do that, or also been, frankly and open and say no, I cannot do that. Because it’s not in our strategic roadmap. But we understand you and we take care of what you’re saying. And exactly what what what you said also about fixing issues that are arising and ensuring that are not happening anymore. It’s, again, I think your principle number three about consistency. I fixed that it works well. And, and then it’s done and dusted. And you don’t get feedback on this topic. Again. I think we went through the five topics. And also we are approaching the end of this interview, perhaps only to get some more details about you. We are now in COVID situation where we stick a dome, how can you ensure your work life balance?
Miles C. Thomas 31:49
Yeah, I think everyone is facing the same issue today, right? I mean, I’ve been in lockdown since March, effectively. So I’m based in Wales in the UK. And for the type of work or the industry I work in, actually we’ve seen, you know, a huge increase in the in the volume of work that we’ve had to undertake. And that that’s difficult from a work life balance perspective, no doubt. But what I what I do fully believe in is that, at least you know, the organization I work for, genuinely cares about their staff and their providing, you know, the sort of help support and services that would be the envy of many organizations. For me, as a leader within the organization looking after customer service. My view is that my job, if you like, is to ensure that all of my teams feel supported. If they need to take time out, they take time out. One of the more difficult scenarios is that within the first lockdown, when we’re asked to work from home and schools closed, you’ve got situations where you know, I’m working on a video call, and I’ve got kids that need me at the same time. And that that’s a great deal of pressure and stress on people. I think organizations are starting to truly understand now the importance of looking after the staff, because you’re going to get burnout, there are going to be mental health issues and and, you know, in a change to what organizations were like in the 70s 80s and 90s. I think what we’re starting to understand now is that, to a degree organizations have a duty of care, I think that’s accepted now towards this staff. And that’s really the baseline, a duty of care. But it needs to go much further than that. I mean, we talk just before we started the interview, and I was saying that, you know, what we do is we have regular weekly quizzes. So we meet and we’re not talking about work, we’re just listening to each other. Because I’ve got staff in Singapore, and at the UK and Washington DC. When we meet up, we bring our food with us sometimes so you know Singapore having their dinner, we’re having our lunch and the US having their breakfast and we talk about you know, the differences in cuisine across those continents as well. You know, we have yoga and mental mental health well being sessions as well. So, you know, this is this is difficult work life balance has been more challenging in lockdown than it has been previously. However, it sounds like we were seeing the first hopeful chances of a vaccine coming through that might return us all to some level of normality. But to take it back for one final point on that really like work life balance. This is a key responsibility of leadership within organizations. We must take we must hold accountability for the well being of our staff. I know that when I talk to my staff will hopefully it should come across as genuine concern. I believe in them I understand them by want them to be successful, and they’re not going to be successful, if they are overworked, they’re not going to be successful if they don’t have the right tools to work either. You know, actually, March when we decided we were going to work from home, we moved from a office based environment for a call center, I use that term loosely, because I think it has negative connotations, but essentially, telephone and email support. And we seamlessly move that to a home environment using Microsoft Teams, and other pieces of technology. So, you know, it’s, there’s no doubt, it’s been hugely challenging for everyone involved. But in actual facts, some good has come of it, I think it’s brought teams closer together, we’re more geographically dispersed than ever. But we’re closer together in the way that we interact and talk. The other positive thing that’s come out of this whole pandemic for me is that organizations have now started to place greater importance on employee experience as a key factor. But also they’re thinking about the customers more and thinking about the impact that this has had on their customers, and how that might impact the organization too. So it’s, there are some positives from all of this.
Gregorio Uglioni 36:14
Not sure, I fully agree. And I always like to speak about life, work balance, and not work life balance. And then I fully agree we have the accountability, not only for our teams, but also for ourselves and our families, because it’s our time, now that we are coming also to the winter months, that it’s not so easy to go out. And we need to check and ensure that our basic needs are fulfilled. Thank you very much. And if somebody has questions about what we are discussing, or another question or wants to get more more deep dives on topics, how can the audience reach you?
Miles C. Thomas 36:55
The best way is probably on LinkedIn, I’m often on there, providing my my thoughts and opinions on on some of these CX perspectives. Of course, we’ve talked to these things at a very high level, it’s really about the detail about how you actually implement changes. And for me very much about the the customer service experience being the key part for me, because that’s the, the key interaction angle. If anyone wants to have a chat, follow up, you know, connect with me on LinkedIn. If you’re based in Wales, we’ve set up CX Wales, where, you know, we were putting together a community of like minded CX professionals to help raise the profile of customer experience in Wales as well. So either one of those two, CX W A L E S.com, if you’re based in Wales, or on LinkedIn, if you want to have a chat.
Gregorio Uglioni 37:43
Thank you. And the very last question from my side, there is the last thought I named that golden nugget that you want to leave us to leave to also to the audience.
Miles C. Thomas 37:56
Yeah, recently, I was judging at the UK customer experience awards. And you know, I’ve seen some real trends or changes in the way that organizations are thinking about their customers. And one of those ways is that companies are now starting to think with a more customer success mentality. And I don’t mean customer success in the normal SAS related Customer Success ideology. But to give you a very, very solid example, one of the companies I was judging was called vanarama, vanarama leases vehicles, to people and, you know, with with the COVID crisis coming in the the organization, rightly considered that they might find that customers didn’t want to lease cars, because they were concerned about their financial well being losing jobs, everything else that goes along with it. And one of the things vanarama did is they, they came up with the idea to offer free income protection insurance for that release. And that’s just a really small example. But I think what I’m saying is that companies are starting to realize that the more they understand about the customers and how things are impacting them in their real lives, for want of a better term, they can show that they support and care for customers, not only in a direct correlation to the services that they’re providing, but through a more nuanced and broader understanding of what is impacting and affecting customers, they can actually go so much further to provide an even greater experience. So you know, companies are providing information on, you know, working from home, or this is the latest information that we’re finding on COVID. These are things that companies would not normally be communicating with customers or bank but they understand it’s our customers minds. And it’s a way for them to, to build that engagement with their customers from a much broader sense than they had done previously.
Gregorio Uglioni 40:00
Thank you Miles and with this last golden nugget. I wanted to thank you to the audience for being here for watching this this webcast. Thank you very much, grazie mille, arriverci. Miles, thank you also to you. Thank you very much.
Miles C. Thomas 40:15
Thank you Greg. Been a pleasure.
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