Customer led environments and future-focused leaders with Marius Ghios – S1E19

Episode released on: 26 April 2022

CX Goalkeeper with Marius Ghios – S1E19 is about customer led environments and future-focused leaders Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had the great opportunity to interview Marius Ghios

Marius is a Customer Experience expert, an outstanding innovator and Judge at International CX Awards. He was named among the 50 most influential CX experts in UK.

My learnings:

  • Focus on customers’ needs and try to build everything around them (also leveraging available data).
  • Often after the design of a new experience (or product), during the development phase, several technical challenges arise, it is a common issue that teams don’t go back to the customers and leverage the available insights again to keep the focus on the customers’ needs.
  • Often at project table, CX is not enough represented
  • Strategy and vision guide the company. Start with the right setup and mindset and keep an eye on what is happening outside a company too.
  • Consumer’s education is really important.

Future focused leaders are:

  • able to leverage the power of delegation, empowerment and motivation.
  • accept and support diversity (e.g., of mindset)
  • are more strategic and less tactical: they find wins for tomorrow and at the same time, create value in the long term in a balanced way.
  • think about what they can do and what they could do differently
  • build up on their knowhow and accept suggestions from other.

His book suggestion:

  • It is not a book. After the pandemic you should travel to Ethiopia. Visiting these tribes, give you energy and power.

Marius’s golden nugget:

“everything starts with the consumer. no matter what you are doing, your role, … the consumer is the core, everything we are working for”

“everything starts with the consumer. no matter what you are doing, your role, … the consumer is the core, everything we are working for” Marius Ghios on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

How to contact Marius:

Thank you Marius!

#customerexperience #leadership #innovation #transformation

click here to subscribe
my YouTube channel


Gregorio Uglioni 0:03
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for being here again. I’m really thrilled. I have Marius with me. Hi Marius

Marius Ghois 0:11
Hey, Greg. Hi, how are you? Thanks for having me.

Gregorio Uglioni 0:14
Thank you, Marius, it’s a great pleasure to have you with me. We met once at a big webcast, together with Pisano. And then we stayed in contact. And now I have really a big opportunity to have you on my show, the CX goalkeeper, thank you very much for being here. As usual, I asked the guests to present himself because it’s easier that you explain what you need instead that I read through a long list. Marius could you please share with us what you’re doing what it’s your passion?

Marius Ghois 0:45
Definitely, great. First of all, I’m a customer, a customer of many brands that learns from my own experiences and use them in my, in my day to job day to job if, if you want so I’m passionate about traveling. And my my, my goal is to travel all the countries in the world while I’ve been only half to them yet, but still have some time. But I make the most of my my cultural experiences, to build consumer strategies that support global products and, and services. I’ve been for many years, in in telco industry, I moved to the Financial Services. And now I’m in consumer goods. And I’m passionate about innovation, building future consumer strategies and, and helping businesses basically to be more more consumer centric. I’ve been with Vodafone, I’ve been with Liberty global. I am now with an amazing company with Philip Morris, I have a bit of consulting experience with KPMG. And as I mentioned last summer, some financial services experience with RSA in the UK.

Gregorio Uglioni 1:56
Thank you very much for the introduction. And we can see also behind you the nice picture about the countries and all the books, but we will come back later discussing about your audits. I think you are here and I am really happy to have you on this show because you are really global experience with global companies around customer experience. And today, I would like to discuss with you one topic that it’s really relevant for each company. And nowadays, even more, as we are doing a big going through a big issue with COVID-19. And this is about companies are organized a bit more like based on the products, it’s poor product centric, and we know that we will ever shift we are going to have a shift to a customer centric organization organization, perhaps let’s start with my sentence from product lead to customer centric organization. What’s your view on that?

Marius Ghois 2:55
Well, I think that, in a way is normally the view on to be focused on sales center and the revenue because at the end of the day, that’s why the businesses are this is what they’re fighting for. Right. There are different ways of of on fighting into this dis directions. And as you said, the most common problem is the product lead the option when you know what is your product and you know the strategy, you know what you need to do in order to to increase the sales and to to make this a mass product. But I think the problem appears when actually the consumer doesn’t resonate that much with what we are offering because your focus is in the wrong direction. And one of my my, my great passion is about looking into the consumer needs, through the through the lenses of jobs to be done. And I think that many of the companies when they’re building the their strategies are forgetting about about the consumer at the core of things they’re doing. But moving back to your question with the difference between product lead and consumer led, I will give you an example if you if you have in mind, any project probably that you worked on. And the same for me, you start from a good set of insights, consumer insights, data, a lot of relevant information, outside trends, and so on. And you build everything around the consumer needs and all these aspects that the consumer will expect from a product or service. But then when you progress in the in the design stages, still keep that in mind. But then the stage of the development you start having all these technical challenges the idea if you want to legacy problems if you want to budget restrictions, all these kinds of elements. And this is the moment where most of the companies and most of the project teams don’t go back to the insights part and to say okay, what do I need to cut out of my project but still to be consumer focused to still be He led by those insights that actually started the design of this project, service, process, whatever you want. So, the main problem for this one is because the non facing cons, cons non face, no consumer facing employees are not understanding that well, what consumers are saying what they are, what their needs are, if you’re thinking we live our experiences with the front line, and if you ask someone in Customer Care or someone in retail, they will talk about their consumers for hours if you want. So, if you ask someone in the marketing team, or if you are someone in finance, legal, whatever team you want to consider, they will talk about consumers to the lenses of the roles, I mean, I don’t know customer segmentation in marketing, they will start talking which is the right segment to approach for each product and so on. But this is just theory is not the reality. So what I think is needed other than looking and keeping all all the time an eye on consumer insight and in data, what is needed is to bring the consumer at the same table with with everyone in the business. And a few many years ago, actually not a few I think like 10 years ago, I started a project in in Vodafone, where all the employees in the company had to literally meet consumers in different ways listening to the real time calls, or going to shops are discussing with consumers. And this impacted very much the way they approached things. Because many times at the project table, you are discussing with different many functions, right and customer experience sometimes is that that cool team that great persons that are just talking about, I don’t know ideal things, ideal journeys, but they are not talking all the time about sales maybe or not at the same with the same weight like someone in in Nigeria or commercial team. So for me, these are the two things that will help a company to look into the right direction. And then of course, there is the focus that needs to come from the top of the company and from the CEO to the board team and all the managers actually, at the end needs to be ambassadors and promoters of of the consumer to the lenses of their own jobs.

Gregorio Uglioni 7:32
And I think this is good to topics came to my mind, one of them is what you mentioned. And this is a bit of a old fashioned way of doing things. It was one of the top managers saying, I know this guy is selling this technology, try to implement that. And then you start defining everything through through the technology, and not really based on the customer needs. And also linked on what you said. And I really liked the example that you did on the on the project with Vodafone employees speaking with with customer, because this is I think, culture, cultural topic, how to change the culture in a company out to drive that the understanding that at the end, the consumer, the customer, you name it will buy the product that you are defining, how do you see the cultural change in in the companies? How is progressing, and also linked to what you mentioned, to the leadership leaders that we have today? And that we need to turn in future? I know it’s a long question, let’s get that about speaking about cats.

Marius Ghois 8:41
It’s a long one, but with a simple answer if you if you want so because you know the strategy and the vision of a company guys the entire the entire organization, right and if you set the correct direction, and if you set the right starting point for for everything in your organization, will give you at least the start into into building the correct approach, then, of course, there are a lot of other elements. But I feel that in my experience, again, if you don’t have a clear long term strategy, you risk on the way to lose the direction that you want to take. And then of course, it’s important to make sure that you have not only the strategy and direction but you need to always keep an eye on what is happening inside and outside your organization. And that’s when the outside your organization in the same industry, but what is happening in the environment, the business environment and what are the trends what what is actually happening out there because many times we are thinking okay, this is what we are selling or this is what we are offering to our consumers. This is what we’ve done for years. Let’s improve this while the question is, is the improvement needed? Or is actually the next phase Some of the things you are offering to be improved and changed. And I mean, if you’re thinking Amazon and I know that there are a few examples that probably everyone is using, but on Amazon, many times, you’re going out to buy something there, just because it’s one click shop, is nothing you need to do. So basically think about if you have to add all the time, your address, your car details, all these kinds of elements, you will be like, You know what, I will maybe lazy today, but if he’s just finding something you like, add it to the basket. And that’s all is kind of easy. So it’s a big element of, of how you see the future, how you focus your strategy on long term, and changing the norms, and also how you put a bit of education if you want your customers because it’s not only reacting to what your consumers is asking you for, is also what you want them to do. You’re at the end of the day, you don’t know what you don’t know if I will ask you now when I think that our friend James gave this example, if I will ask a kid now what a 123, they will say chocolate on whatever. But we know that we need to educate them, because that’s not exactly what they should eat. So they will enjoy vegetables as well if you put some effort. So it’s kind of like, what do you need? But how do I educate you to towards what I want you to do, right? So it’s very important. It’s the same with Amazon. I mean, I know that I go there to buy it from time to time, that product, but then if everything gets easy, and I’m educated, you know direction that things can be so much easier, I will search first time for everything on Amazon, and then I will go outside that platform. But again, maybe it’s just my behavior, but it is the easiness that matters very much.

Gregorio Uglioni 11:46
And I think what you what you’re sitting make it fully sense because at the end, I agree with you. And you use the example of children, one willing to eat chocolate and so on, but they should eat vegetables, but also with the children. And we see exactly the same behavior that we have as consumers. My son doesn’t really like to eat eat vegetables, but eating older children eating them. And then perhaps once a day, it’s good, please try and then eat rice. If I would do that, as the father of him, no, no, I don’t want I don’t want but if the older consumer, then try try this, this vegetable vegetables, then you would also try. And now it’s eating tomatoes and other stuff. And I think this is this is what you are saying, try to find out the behaviors and try to figure them to understand them to educate them. And this is extremely important on the other side. But you mentioned we are using always the same example. It’s Amazon, it’s Ritz Carlton, and so on, yes, but if they are the best, let’s be

Marius Ghois 12:51
exactly here. And you’re motivated, you moved a bit into the voice of the consumer and the word of mouth and how how consumers actually are relying on other consumers experiences. And that’s another good way of, of capturing the data and the insights from consumers to build your strategy and to build your your long term plans. So as you said is the power of example is the something again, that can help us to shape the future of of customer experience if you want. So. And actually I have even a business example with educating consumers, if you remember, and I’m sure that in Switzerland was the same, like 10 years ago, probably all the price plans in telco were about minutes, the more often let alone at minutes, you had the coolest, the that price then used to be. But then we started with Vodafone, to give data and to focus on data rather on minutes. And then things started to shape a bit and to get more importance because everything moved into the data directions, I think about WhatsApp and everything. And the minutes started to not have the same importance. But it was a piece of education that the consumer had to, you know, to, to receive because the more you use, the more you understand that that is what you need. But if you if you have asked like 10 years ago, what do you prefer a limited minutes or a limited data? Probably 80% of the consumers who have said give me minutes now I think that I even don’t use my minutes on my price plan. I’m mostly using data WhatsApp and all this video call options like zoom now and so on. So it’s kind of understanding the future and to take the opportunity and to to build on that.

Gregorio Uglioni 14:44
And I think this is the key. We were speaking also before this discussion about who are the leaders of the future and which skills they need, perhaps What’s your view on on the required skills As you spoke about taking a decision and completely changing from minutes to data much, somebody at the end said, I take the decision, I take the risk. And what’s your view on that?

Marius Ghois 15:13
First of all, I think is important to always look, as I mentioned outside your industry, because the trends are not happening always related to your activity, the threads are out there. And they’re just waiting to be to be used, and to the companies to make the most of that. So for me, it’s important to keep an open eye and an open mind around what is happening, and what are the mega trends happening out there. But then it’s more about how you guide your direction, your strategy or your your perception about the future. But on top of this, there are some elements that I think sometimes we tend to be afraid to make the most of that, and I’m thinking here, empowerment of people delegation, we hire expert experts in our teams in our businesses, but many times we are happy to have those experts. But we are a bit maybe concerned to onboard all those new ideas. And at the end of the day, sometimes that’s why we brought those people in. And that’s why I think, is the beauty of merging and mixing people from from one industry to another because they come with different expertise with God, they come with different knowledge with different experiences, and the know how to grow in this way for each company. So I think it’s important for for a leader to understand the power of empowerment, the power of delegation, the power of, of motivating people, you know, and also I think that diversity for an organization builds a lot around the innovation, and, and creative ideas. Because if you if you’re thinking, the more diverse you have a group of people, the more ideas and the more exposure to different cultural elements they will bring to the table. So then you start building on top of that. So I don’t think that if we’re looking at future of the Future Focus leaders versus let’s say, basic leaders, maybe sounds ridiculous, but it’s not, it’s not requiring from four different skills requires a bit more openness to, to these skills, and to put more value in balancing different probably the skills that that are needed. And also I for me, one of the other things that is very important is to if you want to be a bit more strategic, rather than tactical, and obviously with COVID now and the uncertainty of everything that happened in the last few years with Brexit, Trump and everything around this, many companies started to look into tactical and quick wins solutions. But this brings you value tomorrow, but on long term is not is not probably the best approach. So I feel it, again, is a need of balancing between short term wins or quick wins and, and strategic view and strategic plans.

Gregorio Uglioni 18:15
And you mentioned quite a lot of skills that are required, because as you’re saying, we are in really thriving big troubles change everything changing consumer behaviors, everything needs to happen quicker, and so on. Perhaps Do we have some example that you would like to share with us have leaders that are showing these these skills, these threats that that you are mentioning, and we’re not speaking about you and me, let’s speak about others?

Marius Ghois 18:50
Well, you know, when we’re talking about examples, I mean, the easiest way you can look into those companies that are doing their best at this moment. And again, as I mentioned, Amazon because it was so well prepared. And even if he’s not well prepared, when the pandemic started, they looked into a strategic approach and how how they can actually win in the situation. And it’s the same with telco companies, they put so much focus on improving the quality of data and to create more options and more price plans or more, you know, better quality on the on the coverage and so on. But I will go actually back a few years ago, a few years back and I’m thinking some of the roles I had in telecom. And I remember a few years ago, I was talking about the future of connectivity, and how the connectivity should look in five years from that moment. And and I think that this actually helps the businesses to to be to react to uncertain moments, because you never know what will happen around the corner right? So you need to Be prepared. And you need to have a, as I said, a short term plan, where you have the winds next day, but also the long term that actually will help you and support you to be a leader in the market in your industry, to think differently, to find solutions and find alternatives to the current products and services that are out there on the market. I don’t know if it answered your question. But is, is very important to look more than on what you are doing. But what actually you can do different and on top of what you’re doing and probably is not, is not the best example. But if you’re looking in, in the industry that I work, now, there are so many alternatives, and people are trying to find better alternatives. So you need to innovate, you always need to create new new products to look into what you can do, how you can better improve the consumers life, but also how you can still, you know, react to what are the needs out there.

Gregorio Uglioni 21:08
From my point of view, it was really a good answer. And therefore also building on what you’re saying. And from your point of view, and also, from your experience. How is it possible to develop such skills? Because I mean, what you’re saying is we are thinking about creativity about long term vision, and with the short term goals, and the shareholders that are waiting for results in the next three months and not in the next 20 How is it possible to develop these skills?

Marius Ghois 21:46
Well, I think that developing of these skills is probably something that sits more on the on the training side or you know, in in a coaching direction rather than what sits on my expertise. But my suggestion from, from my own experience and expertise is that lead leaders needs to be open to experts needs to understand and to accept opinions, and to rely on actually those those opinions and, and, and suggestions and recommendation. Everyone in their field, no matter if you’re talking about finance or customer experience, or whatever you want. You have your own experience, you have your own expertise, you know your things, you know what you need to do in order to make results happening, right. So then it’s important to have at the table, the right people, but to have also the openness to understand. And to accept that you don’t need to come with a solution, you need to accept some, some some some suggestion. Many times I feel that, in general, again, we tend as human to put out there our ideas, we we feel that if we don’t come out there with our solution, with our direction, with our recommendation, we are not good enough. Well, for me at a certain level is not about those people or us telling those direction, but it’s about understanding from others, taking all those good elements, mix them and then turn that into into something that leads to the future. So I think it’s about being open rather than being I don’t know, creating yourself those solutions. And I think that this is one of the challenge, we all tend to give solution rather than build solutions together.

Gregorio Uglioni 23:49
I think this is an extremely important quality. I faced that a bit differently, but it’s exactly the same what you’re saying is the ability to listen to the people and to try to understand to really understand what they’re saying, instead of always pushing my own opinion. And and what you’re saying I think this is really the key success factor. It’s not I am the expert, I decide everything, but if the expert for from the different topics from the different fields, they can speak together, and then together we can achieve something because it’s not any more binary one or zero, but there are quite a lot of options and opportunities.

Marius Ghois 24:28
And at the end of the day, we’re all consumers right? I mean, no matter your role, you experience every day, different experience, different journeys, pain points, problems. So all this at the end of the day feeds into into into designing something a project a product no matter what, that the only difference is that probably as a CX expert, we can look and we can deep dive in a different way into those problems, while a consumer will just understand the problem Blum, but probably will not be the role to find the solution. And, and, and here is actually what the balance and where the customer experience teams in general and experts will bring a lot of value.

Gregorio Uglioni 25:13
And I fully agree. And now it’s time to learn a bit more about you Mario’s. And therefore, my question is to be a it’s the following. It’s busy time you worked everywhere on the global with big company with smaller companies. Now we have, we are in lockdown, some countries are still in lockdown, some are going into the lockdown. How can you ensure to maintain a satisfactory life work balance?

Marius Ghois 25:42
Well, I’m based in London. So we’ve been in lockdown since since December. So we are still being challenged here with lateral restrictions. In my honesty, I think that is already the new normal, I don’t even see the the the restrictions anymore, because after a year, as we speak, I think March was when, when the problem started last year, after year, you just feel like this is the new normal. So I think what is important is to have fun in everything you’re doing a job, in your personal life, do go out, do exercise, restricted as it is everything but it’s important to have fun is important to try to rely on things that you have access to. I mean, Mr. SD, before the lockdown, I never watched the series because I don’t like to stay in front of the TV. Now Netflix is my biggest friends. So it’s fine, easier, it’s about finding those elements that gives you joy, and keeps you you know, sane in a way and, and helps you go in through this this month of, of restricted activities. But honestly, now that summer is around the corner, or spring, at least, the sun is shining is a better vibe that it was a few months ago. But you need you need to keep having fun, no matter if you’re talking about work or personal life. And, and one thing that I will suggest to everyone and I always say this to my team, and I always do this myself, nine to five or nine to six, or how long is your your daily work program, stay into that bracket. And then outside that time, do not Redeemers do not work do not do things. Because you need to have that separation between work and personal life. Either way, everything becomes 1111 thing, and you don’t have the fun in the gym anymore. But again, it’s my view.

Gregorio Uglioni 27:49
And I share a lot of what to what you’re saying because you need to have fun on what you’re doing. Because we don’t know how long is our life. And we should enjoy that.

Marius Ghois 27:59
Yes definitely

Gregorio Uglioni 28:02
I fully agree with what you’re saying. And you suggested something to the audience. Perhaps the next suggestion is, is there a book that you would like to suggest to the audience to say this is a nice book that I’m reading or something that you read there say, this is really important,

Marius Ghois 28:19
I will not suggest the book. But I’m very excited to read the CX 3 book that will come I think on the 26th I’m very excited about that, but I will suggest a destination. So once that all this pandemic will come to an end and we will be able to travel again, I will recommend everyone to travel to and to visit at europea is such an amazing country with such a great culture and visiting those tribes that are many, many hundreds of years old, gives so much energy and power and and helps you to see the light through different lenses and to different angles. And I think that that that is a very it was very impactful for me to travel to try to plan to meet those those tribes. So that that would be my recommendation for for everyone watching this webcast.

Gregorio Uglioni 29:17
very nice, thank you very much and a different view. I really liked that. If somebody from the audience and would contact you how is the best way to contact you?

Marius Ghois 29:28
I think the easiest one is LinkedIn. Happy to receive any any questions or suggestion or just get in touch. Send me a friend request or whatever on LinkedIn is, is the best way.

Gregorio Uglioni 29:44
Thank you very much, Marius. And then re last question and this is the question the golden nugget question is something that you would like to share with with the audience is something new or something that we discussed. This is Marius’s golden nugget

Marius Ghois 30:01
Everything starts with the consumer. So, no matter what you are doing, no matter your role no matter if you if you are a consumer or a business, everything starts with the consumer you need to understand this. At the end of the day, everything rest is just building on on on, on on this. But for me, what is important is that everyone, no matter the role to understand that consumer is the core everything we are we are working for.

Gregorio Uglioni 30:32
Thank you very much for us. And as usual, I’m not commenting your golden nuggets, because it’s Marius gold nuggets. Thank you very much for your time Marius.

Marius Ghois 30:41
Greg, thank you for having me, and I really appreciate your invitation. Thanks again.

Gregorio Uglioni 30:47
Thank you and also to the audience. Thank you very much for being here and listening to this podcast watching this podcast. Speak to you soon. Bye. Bye, Arrivederci, Grazie mille.

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