Holistic Experiences with Miles C. Thomas – E83

Episode released on: 18. July 2022

Holistic Experiences with Miles C. Thomas Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had the great opportunity to interview Miles C. Thomas

LinkedIn Headline: Chief Experience Officer – Creating Customer Centric Companies -Global customer service & experience leader – Contributing author CX3 – Chair of CX Judges – Top CX Influencer 2021/22


  • 00:00 Game Start
  • 01:18 Miles’ Introduction
  • 02:28 Miles’ Values
  • 04:10 Holistic Experiences
  • 05:10 The Holistic Experiences Model: CX Strategy, Leadership & Culture, Customer Intelligence, Employee Empowerment & Experiences and Service Experience
  • 09:35 Assessment & Next steps
  • 10:40 The biggest potential is in Customer Intelligence
  • 11:25 The defining of a great Service Experience
  • 13:55 The Role of Employees
  • 15:20 Leadership & Culture – Servant Leadership
  • 17:00 What does happen after the assessment of the 5 pillars?
  • 19:22 What we are discussion about CX in 10 years?
  • 21:55 Miles’ book suggestion
  • 22:30 Miles’ contact details
  • 23:05 Miles’ Golden Nugget

and much more…

His Contact Details:

Miles’ Book suggestion:

  • Built to Win by Annette Franz

Miles’ Golden Nuggets:

  • I’m going to say what I said in the past, and then give a new one as well. So what I always say, for this particular part is that intelligence without empathy is an empty path. People should think about that, because it’s really important. But for this podcast, what I’d like to say is that, if your customers are not feeling the effects of your initiatives, then your initiatives are in the wrong place. Go back and think again, without customers feeling that difference. your focus is in the wrong place.

“Intelligence without empathy is an empty path” @milescthomas
on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

“If your customers are not feeling the effects of your initiatives, then your initiatives are in the wrong place. Go back and think again! Without customers feeling that difference, your focus is in the wrong place” @milescthomas on CX Goalkeeper Podcast

#customerexperience #leadership #cxgoalkeeper #cxtransformation #podcast


Gregorio Uglioni 0:00
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the CX goalkeeper podcast, your host, Gregorio Uglioni, will have smart discussion with experts, thought leaders, and friends on customer experience, transformation, innovation and leadership. I hope will enjoy the next episode,

Ladies and gentlemen, today’s really a big, big pleasure because Miles is coming back to the CX goalkeeper podcast. And this is something I really like. And I really enjoy to keep the discussion to keep the relationship with all these experts outside thought leader and friends on customer experience, and that they are coming back and we find always a new topic to discuss. Hi Miles, how are you?

Miles C. Thomas 0:47
I’m grateful, Greg, thanks so much for inviting me back. I’m really excited. I really enjoyed the last conversation. And I’d be following the conversation you’ve been having with some other experts too, which have been great. So thank you for what you’re doing for CX.

Gregorio Uglioni 0:59
Thank you very much. It’s really a great pleasure. And I think and I am always stating that, I love the CX community. And therefore it’s really a pleasure to have experts thought leaders on on my podcast, and in particular, you because we are working on we are connected since years. Now, you helped me a lot to grow my knowledge to grow as a person. And therefore I’m also happy to give back something to you but also to the audience, because I am quite sure that we are going to discuss a great topic: holistic experiences. But before we discuss about that, let’s start with the usual question. Miles, could you please introduce yourself?

Miles C. Thomas 1:40
Sure. Thanks, Greg. So I’m Miles Courtney Thomas, I’m the founder of customer start limited. I’ve been I’ve spent the last 10 to 15 years working in leadership positions in customer service and experience in both non for profit and profit sectors. So that’s led me to where I am today, my background is in psychology and technology as well. And that’s given me sort of a quite a good blend of skills to help build customer understanding. Aside from that, I’m just a relatively normal guy married with three three daughters, which keeps me very, very busy.

Gregorio Uglioni 2:15
And do you have time to sleep?

Miles C. Thomas 2:18
Not much.

Gregorio Uglioni 2:21
Joke aside, I think you did a lot for the customer experience community, you are doing a lot, and you decided to move to another job and being an intrapreneur. And I think really, this would be a great opportunity also for the company outside to have the opportunity to speak with you to engage with you. And to create value for the customers. And mentioning the word value, I think it’s also important to learn a bit more about you, and therefore which values drives you in life.

Miles C. Thomas 2:54
Think I think fat family drives my life ultimately. And when I think about my, my daughters and growing up in the world and what the future holds for them, I want to make sure that they have the best experience they can in their lives. And whilst I can do that, you know directly with them, I also want to help ensure that experiences more generally are better for people across the world. And in within the sphere of influence I have that is where I can help because I can go out to companies and I can help them improve the customer experiences. Now, the reason for that is because you know the there’s enough challenges in life already, you know, really hard challenges that people have faced day in day out. And you know, when you’re having a bad day, we’ve got your own issues, you don’t want to be having a fight with a company to get something simple, simple achieve. So the more we can do to streamline, simplify, reduce the level of effort and actually make customers feel valued is just good for society as a whole. I think that you know, customers. So companies, traditionally let’s let’s talk pre pandemic. I think they consider themselves to be somewhat separate from society. But I think within the pandemic, they came to the realization that in fact, the you know, they’re not separate, they are an integral part of society. And they have things that they can do for the greater good.

Gregorio Uglioni 4:15
Thank you Miles, I think it’s a great introduction. And also, now we can start the game because we know you a bit better and starting the game and the question is he we are going to discuss about holistic experiences. What is an holistic experience?

Miles C. Thomas 4:32
Yeah, it’s a question I get asked a lot because it’s not a, you know, a really broadly use term holistic or eclectic, actually, somewhat interchangeable. But I wrote about this in the chapter as well for customer experience three, where it’s about trying to build a more holistic understanding of the customer and their needs outside maybe the direct interactions they have with your company. And I use a couple of examples there and I used you People living in social housing. It’s not just about providing a house for these people, which is really important, but it’s understanding other frustrations or other frictions that may exist within their lives that can be applied to within the social housing sector, for example, you know, effective budget management is a key skill for people who are earning a lot less are on benefits. And so, you know, some of these housing associations now are thinking, you know, this is where we can provide added value to our customers who are living in our social housing, to improve the quality of their lives. So that’s what the holistic experience tries to do it, it takes it outside the direct chain of interactions, and tries to understand the customer in a more holistic sense. Now, when I talk about the holistic experience model, that’s, that’s really designed to look even more broadly than just the customer, but the company as a whole as well.

Gregorio Uglioni 5:54
Thank you very much. And it’s clear, because in this society, we have different businesses, and they’re part of our real life, and we are interacting with them. You’re speaking or you mentioned a model, would you like? Could you please share that with us? Sure, absolutely.

Miles C. Thomas 6:10
So when I started customer start, I was really thinking a lot about how much information there is out there about CX, and it’s overwhelming, actually. And I’m trying to distill it in a way that predominantly small and medium enterprises can benefit from it, because customer experience has typically been something that you know, the big companies can afford to do. And they can bring in all sorts of specialists, and everything else that goes along with it. So the holistic experience model looks across the experiences for everyone within the company and without the company. So the five points within that model are number one is customer experience strategy, of course, you’ve got to understand who you are as a company, what your WHY IS, and you’ve got to really think in in great deal, a great detail how you want your company to be perceived by your customers. Now, you know, there’s not a huge amount of difference between how we build relationships with other people, and how we build relationships with companies, there are some similarities there and how that works. So that’s a big part of it. Number one is customer experience strategy, then we look at leadership and culture. Now, what I advocate there is that leaders take a both customer centric and servant leadership approach to the way that they operate. Now, servant leadership is is fantastic. I mean, it really does align very, very well with both customer centricity and the building of the culture. So that’s number two. Number three is customer intelligence. So that talks about, you know, how do you start to build understanding of your customers, their needs, and what their objectives are, because that’s what it’s all about helping them achieve their goals in the quickest, simplest, easiest way, in a way that builds advocacy and trust. So there’s a lot within the customer intelligence area, I mean, it’s about use of CRM systems, ticketing systems, knowledge base, you know, engagement with customers through drip fed content, that’s just in time. And research as well, you know, all of that stuff sits in there. And then of course, we’ve got two other areas. One is employee empowerment and experience. And you can see that these things all linked together in a sort of, you know, natural organism really. And then finally, and one I’ve called out specifically is around the service experience, which you don’t always see in these models, but it you know, when you think about just a pure volume of interactions, when the customer has with a company, the vast majority of those are going to be service interaction, their service interactions are not just the customer service team, it could be sales team could be marketing team, it could be any of those teams. And all of those interactions are hugely important because they build up a picture of what the company is, and it needs to be consistent. So those are the five areas the model. And what we’ve done is we’ve developed a maturity scale that sits alongside those going from reactive to what we call golden thread. Now the names may change, it’s going to be launching in the next few days, everything’s moving around very quickly. But what we have is a free maturity assessment tool that’s going to be launched on the website and on LinkedIn in a few days, that allows any company of any size to go through a relatively quick assessment that provides indications of where the strengths and opportunities may lie.

Gregorio Uglioni 9:30
Thank you Miles, one technical answer first, you are saying in few days, we are recording now, it’s May the 12th it means when we are going to publish that you can find that on the Miles’ web page and happy to share in the show notes all the relevant links that you can get this assessment. Now really, next, aligned to this deep diving in these five topics that that you mentioned, you mentioned that is I name it maturity module that you can go through and understand where you are, but how should company proceed by doing that?

Miles C. Thomas 10:08
Right, so once they’ve completed the assessment, it will give them an instant PDF report of how they fared in different areas, with commentary based on their scores. Now, what they can do, should they choose to, they can go away and look at how they can improve their, they can come and chat to me directly through my company, if they want to learn more about how we can help now, of course, you know, we will, we will do our best to help any company of any size. But I’d say what we’re really trying to do is make them the maximum value difference for companies. And to that extent we’re looking to do small to medium enterprises, but equally some pro bono work for charity or nonprofit organizations.

Gregorio Uglioni 10:47
I think that’s, that’s great. And I really liked that, that you’re saying that, coming back to your five pillars are five points? I think in which one do Do you see the biggest potential

Miles C. Thomas 11:02
in which of those five areas? Well, for me, this is really about customer intelligence. Because it’s in that area, that you can start to build a true and holistic understanding of the customer. And that helps you to empathize with them, and be compassionate to their needs. So what that does is it helps to start the storytelling within the organization and that that, you know, seeds out and builds the culture to be more customer centric. But it really, for me, at least needs to start with a really solid understanding of customers and their needs.

Gregorio Uglioni 11:36
Thank you miles, and perhaps also to touch another area from from these five areas, the last one the service experience, because I am often speaking about service on this podcast, and how do you define an excellent service?

Miles C. Thomas 11:54
Well, I think an excellent service, there are two ways to define it, right? Because there are different types of experiences. And I’ll explain what I mean by that. Sometimes a customer doesn’t want to build a relationship, they just want things to be quick, efficient, and easy. And that’s where, you know, self help can come in. And it’s also where AI chatbots can provide some value there. So that’s one part of explaining what a great service experiences meaning that a customer can achieve their goals with the minimum loads of efforts and move on with their day because their lives are important. The other side have a great service experiences potentially when something’s gone wrong. And you want to have that really human interaction, where, you know, the the agent or customer service staff member truly empathizes and is compassionate to your needs and you feel valued. I think that’s what all of it really comes down to, as a customer, you’re putting your hand in your pocket, you’re spending money, you know, regularly, maybe every month, whatever it is. But the problem today is that there’s too much leaning on technology to take away the need for the human interaction. But the fact is that can never go away. I mean, it causes that state of cognitive dissonance, right? Where you know, you’ve got a company saying, We’re customer centric, we love our customers, we care about them, you know, if you need help give us a call, you call them up, they say your you know, we value you your number 457 in the queue, we’re sorry, we’re unusually busy. Well, you know, it’s not an unusually busy because you’re always busy. So that’s where the risk comes from. So talks a bit about what a great customer service experience is, it’s about being able to achieve the task quickly and easily, maybe through self health AI. But equally, if you really need help, there’s a human at the end that is truly compassionate and understands the customer and makes them feel valued.

Gregorio Uglioni 13:55
Thank you. And I think touching this, this servicing, it’s always a discussion or relationship between two human beings and therefore also touching the your fourth area, employee experience, employee empowerment and experiences. What’s the role of the employees?

Miles C. Thomas 14:15
I mean, the employees it’s almost like everything’s really important within the model. I guess that’s why they’re there. But employee empowerment and experience is vital because they are the the engine of any organization and how they are feeling and the nurturing that they experienced the training, being provided the right tools, being given a voice within the company to help improve continuously. Those elements are what are really going to drive change within a business leaders can only do so much actually. But if you have both working together in true synergy towards aligned goals to improve the culture of the organization, and the experience of customers, that’s where some of the real goal change happens. Now, the thing is, you know, it’s employees that are, you know, really deep down in the organization working hard day in, day out on dealing with customer frustrations, complaints, issues, requests that understand better than any leader probably will, what’s really going on. And it’s about, it’s about flipping the org chart upside down in some in some senses and saying, well, we need our employees to be telling us what they’re seeing, so that we can prioritize the right level of change, that’s going to add the maximum value to that continuous improvement effort.

Gregorio Uglioni 15:35
Thank you miles. And I think you already touching the the second, Aria leadership and culture. And you mentioned something that I think I would like to deep dive because a lot of people are speaking about, but I’m not sure, also myself that we really understand what’s what’s behind it. You mentioned servant leadership. How do you define that? And why is it important? Yeah.

Miles C. Thomas 15:59
So I mean, servant leadership is something that I’ve been interested in for many, many years. And like I said, a few months ago, it’s almost like turning the org chart upside down. So there’s no hierarchy in that traditional sense of you will do what I tell you to do. It’s more of a conversation between staff and leadership to understand what the needs of the business are, what the needs of the employees are. And so both staff and leaders help to formulate the future strategy of the organization in a collaborative way. And once those are set, once CX metrics are set, then the role of the servant leader really comes into focus, because it’s that leaders job, not to do anything else, but ensure his staff or her staff can be successful in the work that they are doing. So put this into different terms. If you’re an employee within a company, you want to feel valued as a customer does. And in order to do that, you need to ensure that your staff have the right level of training, the right level of support, access to the right tools, great feedback on how they can improve. And that’s what a servant leader does, they make sure their staff successful, so that they can provide the best experience to customers.

Gregorio Uglioni 17:15
Thank you, Miles. And I think we can link that also on what you are offering to make the companies successful. We perform or companies perform this, this assessment. And after doing that, you already mentioned they can contact you, but in how do you foresee the next steps of such collaboration?

Miles C. Thomas 17:36
Yeah, so what we would do is we would have a discussion through the results. Now, of course, this is a relatively quick assessment, there needs to be more in depth questions and conversation about maybe some specific areas. So what we’ve done is we’ve actually linked a number of services, whether they be training or consulting workshops, that aligned to all of those areas within the model. And so you can you can look at an ala carte approach, if the company wanted to, to decide which things are going to provide the most value upfront. So the way this really works is a company would fill in the assessments, they would look at their results, they would make contact, we’d have a chat, and then we would build a program have change based on our services to move them to the next level of maturity. So if they were at a reactive level, that means that there’s very little going on in terms of CX strategy or thinking, and we would look at that, and we would talk them through the steps that they need to take in order to move to the AWARE level. For example, you can’t really skip levels. Within this, it’s not easy to do at least will add a lot more investment. But it needs to be a bit of a journey as well, you can’t just change things overnight. Because that actually is disruptive to culture as well. It needs to be a we’re moving in this direction, these are the things we’re going to look at first, whether that be creating a customer service statement, or, or looking at building, you know, standard operating procedures for most of the most common types of queries. So it’s very much designed to work in that vein that we understand that small and medium enterprises don’t always have the time and money to put into this. So an ala carte approach can work quite well for them.

Gregorio Uglioni 19:19
I think not only time and money, but also the required skills, because at the end, to drive this customer centric transformation, you need all the skills, and therefore it totally makes sense to get the best out of the market and pull out the experts and get and get support from there. I think it’s really great that that you are doing that and you will help in the transformation of this company. And now looking looking forward in 10 years from now, what we are discussing about customer experience.

Miles C. Thomas 19:54
Yeah, I think I’ve said this, I probably said this for the last six or seven years. I Actually this particular point, but what I see happening in the future is something that might not be popular with everybody. But I see that we will all have our own personal API’s. And our personal API’s will have discussions with company API’s. So there was a video by a company that’s no longer around, don’t I don’t think that’s a reflection on how they did, they were bought by Oracle. And there was a person who was not going to make the flights. And they talked to the AI and the AI, basically went away and came back with suggestions for other flights that were available and was able to charge the additional fee instantly, in that sense. So there were going to be two major things, there’s going to be a focus on, you know, simplicity and ease through the use of AI, that’s going to happen. But what I hope happens is that does not come at the expense of human interactions. And what I believe is going to happen is that companies are going to, they’re going to arrive at a realization of the importance of those relationships through human interactions, and the two, in an ideal world are going to work in perfect synergy in the future.

Gregorio Uglioni 21:15
Yes, but I think and I hope to really see the first attempt that two AIs will speak together, my personally AI trying to fix my flight issue with the AI of the of this company, it will be an interesting discussion, I think, let’s

Miles C. Thomas 21:32
. I can think big right? I can think big.

Gregorio Uglioni 21:37
No, I’d say it’s totally makes sense. And I think this is also really interesting to get from, from, from all the experts in customer experience, this view that we can create together the future of customer experience, because at the end, we are the human beings that will shape and shape the futures for our children. And therefore, it’s totally makes sense that we think about it, we are coming to the end of the game. But before you leave some questions. Is there a book or that you say it’s at you, during your career or during your life?

Miles C. Thomas 22:15
I mean, similar to you, there’s probably a lot of great books out there when it relates to CES. But what I’m going to mention is the one I’m reading currently, and it’s called “built to win” by Annette Franz, and honestly, it’s, it’s great. It’s written with such clarity. And you know, the other great thing about it is it seems to reflect my thinking in a lot of these areas. And that’s not always a good thing, that you know, the thinking is the same. But I would suggest anyone go out and buy a copy of that book. It’s fantastic.

Gregorio Uglioni 22:45
I am really reading it now. And therefore I can suggest that it’s really a great, great book. Thank you mice. And if somebody would like to contact you, what’s the best way?

Miles C. Thomas 22:55
Customer start dot com Or on LinkedIn

Gregorio Uglioni 22:59
But are you the star or the customers or the star?

Miles C. Thomas 23:04
Or will it start? So basically, what we’re saying is, for small and medium enterprises, they might not have really thought about customer experience before. So it’s, it’s making a start around thinking about customers and how you can work for them.

Gregorio Uglioni 23:19
Thank you very much for the explanation. And coming to the end. The last question is my golden nugget. It’s something that we discussed or something new, that you would leave to the audience.

Miles C. Thomas 23:30
Yeah, sure. So what I’ve said in the past, I’m going to say what I said in the past, and then give a new one as well. So what I always say, for this particular part is that intelligence without empathy is an empty path now. Yeah, go, you know, people should think about that, because it’s really, really important. But for this podcast, what I’d like to say is that, you know, if if your customers are not feeling the effects of your initiatives, then your initiatives are in the wrong place. Go back and think again, without customers feeling that difference. Your focus is in the wrong place.

Gregorio Uglioni 24:07
Thank you very much, Miles. And as usual, I’m not commenting, Miles’ golden nugget, because it’s your golden nugget. The only thing that I want to say is, thank you very much for your time.

Miles C. Thomas 24:17
Thanks, Greg. I’ve really enjoyed it today. Thank you.

Gregorio Uglioni 24:21
And I hope also that the audience enjoyed this discussion. It was really a great discussion, a lot of learnings and thinking about strategy, leadership and culture, customer intelligence, employee empowerment and experience and service experience. I think these are really important areas, or areas that we should look at. And I think Miles is a great contact if you need support or in these topics.

Thank you very much grazie mille, arrivederci. if you enjoyed this episode, please share the word of mouth. Subscribe it, share it until the next episode. Please don’t forget, we are not in a b2b or b2c business. We are in a human to human environment.

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