Operational Excellence with Marianne Rutz – E88

Episode released on: 22. August 2022

Operational Excellence with Marianne Rutz Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had the great opportunity to interview Marianne Rutz

LinkedIn Headline: We’re the Experts in Helping Fast-Growth SMEs Transform Their Call Centre Operations into Powerhouse Profit Centres | Podcaster | Speaker


  • 00:00 Game Start
  • 01:01 Marianne’s Introduction
  • 03:44 Marianne’s Values
  • 06:12 Operational Excellence Definition
  • 08:11 Are companies good enough?
  • 13:52 Do you have enough people?
  • 15:53 Quality Assurance
  • 19:57 Measurement
  • 24:54 The best short term measures to improve the service quality
  • 27:14 The future of Operational Excellence
  • 29:18 Book suggestion
  • 30:41 Contact Details
  • 32:00 Marianne’s golden nugget

and much more…

Marianne’s Contact Details:

Her book suggestion:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • Your best year ever, by Michael Hyatt

Marianne’s Golden Nuggets:

  • Take the quality aspect of your service delivery seriously. Because just remember, if you have got 20 people that deliver quality to 100 people every day. These 100 people are happy, they impact their families of in average four and you do the sums… That one phone call impacts many more people than you actually think. So you can’t really afford not to deliver quality.

Take the quality aspect of your service delivery seriously. (…) One phone call impacts many more people than you actually think. So you can’t really afford not to deliver quality. @rutzconsulting on the 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 small discussions with experts, thought leaders, and friends on customer experience, transformation, innovation and leadership. I hope you will enjoy the next episode.

Ladies and gentleman tonight. It’s really a big pleasure because I have a fellow podcaster together with me. Hi Marianne, how are you?

Marianne Rutz 0:30
Hi, Greg. I’m good. Thank you very much for having me. I’m delighted, and we are both in Switzerland for a change.

Gregorio Uglioni 0:38
Yes, I think we have quite a lot of things in common, and our sweetness is one of them. Also, for the audience, Marianne Rutz is together with me, really great fellow podcaster, with her outstanding podcast will, but we will discuss about that. Now. It’s really all about operational excellence.

Marianne Rutz 0:59

Gregorio Uglioni 1:01
Before we deep dive in operational excellence, we would like to learn a bit more about you, Marianne. And therefore the usual question, could you please introduce yourself? Yes, happy

Marianne Rutz 1:11
to do so thank you very much. So I am a Swiss national, I’m married to an Englishman. We live in Scotland, predominantly. But we traveled a lot through to profession and my husband being in the military, naturally you traveled. So Switzerland was always my if your wish home. And this is their comeback to professionally, I started off in hotel and tourism worked for some of the very big Swiss tour operators before I had an opportunity to move to Dublin, without rent a car at the time. That was supposed to be a nine month engagement. So hertz provided the work permit for me, I helped them to relocate their back office function to Dublin, that was in 1999, and has never ever since had my papers back in Switzerland. It just became you know. But it’s also very, very clearly the start of my customer service and customer experience career. Because I didn’t join her suite to view I’ve gone into a contact in a contact center, I was project managing, what they ended up with is setting up this contact center with 3000 seats. And one of the first thing my then American Gods said to me, very young, how come that is face do not want to speak to Germans on the call. And then because they don’t understand each other. And it was such an alien concept at the time for our American friends that really, a Swiss person wanted to have their call answered in Swiss German, not in chairman in Swiss chairman. And that got me thinking what does that mean for the cost of intake call, and that was to staff in customer experience. So there you have it.

Gregorio Uglioni 3:09
Thank you very much. And I hope that we are not going to discuss in Swiss German, I’m not able to speak Swiss German, I understand that. I think for the audience could be difficult

Marianne Rutz 3:20
Let’s a stick with English. That’s perfectly fine. Because my Italian, except as I can I absolutely can order a coffee, I can order my pizza. I can never have a brief conversation. But that’s my Italian. It’s, let’s let’s stick English.

Gregorio Uglioni 3:36
That’s perfect. I’m speaking Italian-English, but I think the audience understand enough about what we are discussing.

Marianne Rutz 3:43

Gregorio Uglioni 3:44
Before we go further, I think I know the thing. It’s all also relevant to understand. And it’s to learn a bit more about you, which values drives in life.

Marianne Rutz 3:59
For me, from a values perspective, it has always been integrity. I grew up in a in a minister’s household. So my father was the local minister here in the village. And he very much had one thing soap soap salvation. So don’t go and preach to people give them something to eat first, make sure that they are close, they have a bed to sleep. And if you’re after we want to help them by all means, do, you know and that is hot that has always stuck with me. Since since I’m a little girl, it was it was what happened in our household. And then as I started my own business to me, it was very much about it’s very much about integrity, good, you know, being clear and transparent to my clients and their customers. What in and around what they get out of We are seeing and the second thing is just is really about feel being grateful for what we have got. Again, that goes way back when I was four years old, my parents shipped me off to my grandparents in Germany, as as my little brother was born. And like, my alma at the time, she always said to me million in the morning, when you get up, and you walk to the bathroom, just thank God for two new day. That’s all you need to do. And I felt there was a point. But it was repeated and repeated. And then I realized, actually, there’s so much truth. If you start your day with a grateful, thankful attitude, things naturally, feel easier, they may not be up, they feel easier. And that’s what I tried to, to kind of leave, you know, to have these two together on the one side, be really grateful and thankful for the half, on the second hand, be extremely focused on ethics, ethics, and what I’m doing, am I giving my customer the best value to keep that integrity piece alive?

Gregorio Uglioni 6:12
I think these are great values and or the foundation of good customer experience or good operational excellence, and therefore we you are in the right playing field. Let’s start digging, speaking about operational excellence. I think the easiest way to start is to ask you your definition of operational excellence.

Marianne Rutz 6:35
Why do you think that’s an excellent question, because that’s the thing right? Here is customer experience. And it’s starts when the customer starts to look at a product or something that he or she wants to buy operations is then when the execution of the process happens, let’s say. And very, very often, in operations, things go wrong, something hasn’t been sent out on time customer complaints, or as we see at the minute goods are not available to customers waiting for weeks on end. And we keep telling them in operations, that tickets are not there, which naturally translates into a poor customer experience, or could translate into poor customer experience. However, it depends how we then talk to the customer and keep the communication opened up, we can turn that experience on its head and make it a good one. So to me, operations today, in and out what’s happening on the ground, is, in my professional opinion, the most important department in the customer journey where things really happen above and beyond. Yes, I like this Shut up, I chill and out. And then the experience kicks in how how they liked the website, or whether they liked a chatbot or whatever rails they have to interact with. When it comes to operations. If things go wrong there, then it’s really bad.

Gregorio Uglioni 8:11
I can only say yes, because I was working for a credit card issuer. And think about if operation is not working, the processing of all these transactions that are coming in within every second then goes things can go really bad. Yeah. And and therefore I really understand what you are saying. But to make that bit more tangible. And what I really like, from a professional in customer experience or any operational excellence like you successful consultants, you have the opportunity to see different companies. And there it’s really interesting to see that stay the official name is what’s they thinking about this topic? From your point of view? You perform several assessment around operational excellence. And are companies good enough?

Marianne Rutz 9:09
That’s a tricky question. Because usually companies don’t know what they don’t know. And when I go in and my my, my team calls in and we look at at five areas of the business because operational excellence and customer experience, it’s not just about the rating you get and that you see in public. So and when in, shall we say there are five areas that seem to hide in plain sight. And let me explain what I mean by that. It starts with hiring. If you don’t have a job description that focuses on the customer experience that you want to give. You may well hire the wrong person. So Chino, if you have it, make it simple. If you’re working in a, in a fashion business for up, for example, for example, and your candidate has absolutely no sense, no interest, no nothing with fashion, that will this person be able to really engage with the customer in and feel and hear what they want, it’s highly unlikely. So your job description and who you hire into the role is usually important. The second page that very many companies do not pay enough attention to is how you treat your employees, this is how they will treat your customers. And that starts from the very minute you hired somebody to the day this person comes to the door, because this onboarding period, so make sure their laptop has been delivered. Now with the new engine new way of working, make sure their accesses are there, make sure they have a pass to get into the building on the day, just give them a call, make them feel valued. Companies don’t naturally do that. They think you’re hired somebody, this person turns up on Monday, or does your chest and then they are oh, why did Charlie never turn up? Because we didn’t engage. The next one is, which I found, I find absolutely crucial is the fact that we need to equip our people with the skill to deliver to service. And that means training, whether you like it or not. And training initially is always a cost to the business. But like customer service is initially seen as a cost to the business. If the training sticks, if it’s interactive, if it’s accurate. If you run a couple of creases to make it fun. And at the same time you realize, oh, people know what they need to know Oh, hang on a second, there’s a straggler who doesn’t know what he or she needs to know that that initial training and whatever else you offer afterwards, can really make a huge difference on the experience that the customer has when talking to an advisor to somebody that is there to help them. The next week, which I’m always astounded how many firms do not have it is a is an accurate quality control. And Quality Assurance Framework is not just did the customer, check out the key advisor, check that you’re really speaking to the customer and make it tick in the box here I checked that it’s okay. There’s so much more to it. Usually in MCX, you know that we try to work with a customer service delivery, which is something that means, you know, it gives meaning to the advices as to why they do their job. For many companies that is absolute, a new way of thinking they just never even thought that that would have a direct impact on how operations run. And then the output of that. And last but not least, you have to have the right people at the right time. You know, answering your phones or serving your customer in the workforce management is not something that people associate initially as part of operational excellence. But if you don’t have the people there when you need them, let’s say you have them, we have them there when it suits them. And then there is a gap that usually, you know, plays out very poorly for the customer, then he stresses your advices out, then they leave, then you go back to recruitment and you get into a vicious circle. And that’s also not what we want.

Gregorio Uglioni 13:52
Or it’s really interesting because you are covering the complete cycle. Yeah, I rink engagement, start training, quality assurance, and then everything you said the right people at the right time I say enough people, because

Marianne Rutz 14:08
that’s now the next one to enough people. And it’s just like now we all know, this shortage of labor. So you may not have enough people, but at least if you know who you have, and when do you deploy these resources? So I’ve just recently America declined where we made a conscious decision because we are short staffed and we can’t get it people. So we looked at how many calls do we get on a Sunday? Actually, it’s not that many always that the operations manager said You know, I’m using Sundays to work the backlog. And I’m kind of going, why would you do that? Work the backlog during the week. So in order to condense the knowledge and condensed the resource, we closed the phone line on a Sunday and we thought or we will be hammered with web forms or, or chat or whatever we got The phone lines are closed. No, it didn’t happen. The customers didn’t really react to that. But we have now the opportunity of five advisors times, eight hours, that’s 40 hours that we can deploy between Monday and Saturday, four o’clock, makes a massive difference.

Gregorio Uglioni 15:19
I think I really liked it. And I was discussing this topic with with another colleague, and I use the example at the end, you want to start the match with your 11 players, and not starting with 10 players? Exactly. And therefore it’s important exactly to agree to this, that you have not more people. So you cannot play with 1212 and sets the same issue in business, you don’t want to play with 12? Because it’s too expensive, correct? Yeah. And you need to have 11 at the right time in the right place.

Marianne Rutz 15:52
Yeah, totally.

Gregorio Uglioni 15:53
I love what you’re saying. A lot of people are discussing about the first three topics. It’s hiring, it’s engagement, and it’s training. And you mentioned something that it’s not so this, it’s not discussed enough, this quality assurance q&a? Yeah. Could you please deep dive a bit on that?

Marianne Rutz 16:10
So by quality assurance, I mean, do we actually check the work that our advisors are doing with the customer against a certain set of criteria, and these criteria, in many cases, they link usually to the process, which generally becomes a tick box exercise, and it’s kind of going really does it make a difference, or it links to the company’s values, which is already better than if it’s just relating to the, to the process, but it has by far the best impact if we create a customer service delivery framework for quality. We did this recently with the Cotswolds company in the UK. And the impact that has was phenomenal because every single person that works with customers in customer services was consulted. If it was you, how would you want to be treated? If you had a query? What would you like to hear? If it was you? How would you like to feel? And the company that department customer service department created their own customer service delivery mission, which then we took these words, and remember, these are the advisors own words, not mine, not the CEOs, their words, we took them and created a quality assurance framework around these words that they have chosen. So now if the quality fails, I can go and say to Lucy, Lucy, I’m really sorry, look, you only scored 75%. How does that fit weight division that you signed up to? And you helped to design? What has happened here? And you know what, within no time that quality score comes back up? And I know it sounds like a lot of work. And yes, it is hard work. But once it’s up and running, you don’t really have to convince your advisors anymore that they need to deliver quality. Because they design their own framework, why wouldn’t they want to deliver against that framework? And we think it had a direct impact on the quality assurance course, internally went up. We cut what’s company, we would have signed a send a an NPS score card of some sorts after the transaction. All of these scores went up. But most importantly, the trust pays its course, which in the UK are rated very, very highly in the public eye. You know, how does this company perform? what service do you get? These transpires course day just went out to move to 4.5. In January for 60 odd days, we were sitting at 4.5 stars, which in comparison to the competitors of that company, who sets around 4.34 and 3.8. It was like, Wow, what a statement to the outside world. So think about that the impact your advisor has directly to the success of the business by having created a framework that they like and they want to deliver. That was just a game changer for my client. And we are so proud of them. And of course a little bit of ourselves as well because we were able to guide them through that process.

Gregorio Uglioni 19:57
Sure, and I think this framework can be used again and again. Oh, yes, yes, you need to tell you that. But I think that’s the big question I have always getting, how do we measure quality? And what you are saying is, you created an inclusive framework, because all the employees, you name them advisor, were part of it. And tonight, I think what I listen also to what you said, it’s, it’s not only an internal assessment or internal measurement, but you compare also with outside. And therefore I think it’s extremely important. Perhaps, if you are allowed to you, how did you really measure this, this quality with which scores,

Marianne Rutz 20:40
we are measuring this course in, obviously, the opening of a call? And yes, we still do the critical fail piece, you know, make sure that we speak with the right customer, that they really are, who they say they are, that kind of that regulatory piece, which is, you know, and weighed quite heavily. But then we are we are measuring half the call being empathetic, empathetic, was it easy for the customer to deal with us. So, you know, how, how straightforward how simple was it, and has the customer really been helped technical the extra mile. And in each area, there is a handful of questions that are weighted against the overall goal to satisfy the customer. And then we will say, Okay, we expect a quality score between 85 and 90%. Now, as soon as you have a critical fail, your, your score drops significantly, because that’s the regulatory piece. So if the regulator comes in, obviously, I want to make sure that you be on the straight and narrow, and we are not going to be pulled up with it, well, you actually didn’t check credit, you had the right customer, so So then it goes down to 70, maybe even two 50%. We also make sure that every advisor gets at least at least three calls, three emails, three chats, so nine in total, per month support. Now for that we have got quality assurance champions, people tell me Well, you know, we’re not that pin up there, we can’t really afford to have somebody full time to go in quality, I get that. But what you can do is take two people make 20% of their normal day job, focus on quality, and you’re already waiting, you do not have to have the full blown deploy the full blown process end to end from the get go. But to have something is absolutely better than having nothing.

Gregorio Uglioni 22:48
And I really liked that because it’s employees helping older employees doing this quality assurance, instead of buying a technological machine that cost millions and you can, you cannot read,

Marianne Rutz 23:00
you can only have a spreadsheet initially. Of course, there is a lot of there are a lot of platforms out there that we that we use, if you’re a bigger organization right now is call recording, or whatever it may be, where you can integrate all of that. But a lot of firms don’t really know what technology they should be buying at the start, or to kind of reluctantly say, Well, we have only 20 people, is it really worth the investment? If you’re there and you’re not too sure create a weighted spreadsheet? Okay, if you’re not invested in if statements because I am not, then I give it to somebody who is and yes, I pay for that. That’s okay. But the output is much greater. And as soon as you didn’t have that framework, you can develop it as fast or as slowly as you wish to go.

Gregorio Uglioni 23:51
And I can understand that. And I would say if you need support, then please contact Marianne She already did. For Why not leveraging already the MVP the minimum viable products already available? This spreadsheet?

Marianne Rutz 24:08
Yeah, absolutely. And that is it’s not rocket science that that is easily share. But if anyone wants to have a chat and see what disease what they want to learn, that’s how I’m happy to share.

Gregorio Uglioni 24:19
Thank you and I think as a Swiss lady, you can ensure that quality gets achieved

Marianne Rutz 24:26
in a timely manner, shall we say? I was thinking before for the time we always get I always get teased about it because I usually turn up about five minutes early to a meeting where everybody else is struggling at you know at the top of the hour or five minutes late, you know like that is just my Swissness as I can tell.

Gregorio Uglioni 24:52
You as you mentioned, you already perform several operational excellence assessment and props. Could you share with Ask what are the best short term measures that you applied to improve in these five areas?

Marianne Rutz 25:08
Yeah, the first one very simple is create a decent job description. That is really not rocket science. And ideally ask the people who perform the role, what do they really do. And you can create a job spec that is straight on point. If you happen to already have a quality assurance framework, make sure that these number of words are some that are mentioned in that job description, because it triggers people thinking, when it comes to onboarding. If you’re the hiring manager, call your new hire at least once a week until such time that a new hire joins you. Because remember, they may have to notice, you know, it’s an anxious time for them to finish up on top, they’re not quite sure about the next book that only costs you a phone call and maybe 10 minutes of your time, but it makes you a new highest field so valued and you know that they will come and enjoy working for you. from a training perspective, less is more, I see a lot of trainings delivered crammed in in two weeks, you need to know the whole lot, that is actually kind of counterproductive. Try to give your new hire the tools that they really need to make a difference fast, using simple queries or whatever it may be. It makes your you hire feel, Oh, I can actually contribute. And then you train them up on on other things. And so on the quality aspect, if you don’t have anything today at all, just do me a favor and think about how do you want to be treated by your own customer service team and start there. And that already means just checking your thoughts and your thinking process. And it kind of guide you naturally to what your QA framework should look like. And you can do that on a piece of paper, you don’t need to kind of have every technology under the sun.

Gregorio Uglioni 27:14
Thank you very much for this, this great insights, because these are really tangible insights that people can use and leverage. Now we spoke about the past the assessment that you did the framework that that you you shared. And now we are talking about operational excellence, what we are discussing about in 10 years time from now.

Marianne Rutz 27:36
I see it 10 years time from now, we will hopefully have iteration three, four or five of chatbots and artificial intelligence, because we cannot get away from that, let’s just face it, this AI is here to stay, it needs to become much better, there are shoots of products that I see that are really good. But that will also mean the people that deliver the service, they become real specialists. And at least I can only speak for the UK, but in the UK, we are certainly still lagging behind when it comes to recognizing the talent for what they do every day and pay them accordingly. So these are specialists that when the customer needs a human interaction, they get the best of the best and their problem is solved. Hopefully, in 10 years time, when that human interaction happens, we really have this highly highly skilled workforce. But for us in the UK, it’s a long way to go. And I think in Switzerland, there is a tendency as well, when I speak to people in Switzerland about contact centers and centers, they go, Oh, these are low paid people. And I remember it was only recently when in Switzerland, there was a law introduced that these people need to get the minimum wage, I think 4300 Swiss francs or something to that effect. So we have a long way to go. But it will be absolutely worth it.

Gregorio Uglioni 29:18
Thank you very much. And I really love to end this game with balancing human skills with technological solutions. And this will be the key in future is the key today, but it will be even more important in future. But before you leave Marianne and I still have three questions to ask you. And these are the standard question that I always ask. The first one is, is there a book that you can suggest to the audience that helped you during your career or during your life?

Marianne Rutz 29:50
Oh, I should have better prepared for that one. I was asked if that changed my generation when Stephen Covey came out. So he’s based them set me up to kind of do and get things done rather than fitting on on pieces and not Not, not executing, not doing. I think still, he may not be the guru at the minute, but he still set me up to do. And today I would use the full focus planner by Michael Hyatt. And his book is called your best year ever. They are brilliant. If you need to just focus and get things done, which we need to do in operations.

Gregorio Uglioni 30:41
Thank you very much. And what’s the best way to contact you?

Marianne Rutz 30:45
Or I love to speak to people on LinkedIn initially, that they can find me on LinkedIn under Marianne Rutz there aren’t that many. We have a chat we organized into maybe a coffee a virtual coffee. Yeah, that is the best way to connect with me.

Gregorio Uglioni 31:01
It’s also time to plug in your outstanding podcast please, Marianne.

Marianne Rutz 31:06
Oh, my podcast, your operational excellence show I love my podcast started is as a as a passion project, really And how things had so many amazing guests, including yourself, Greg, you know, we really loved that show. And you can find it on iTunes, Apple on every podcasting platform. Really, we push it out. Give it a listen. Let me know what you think. Get in touch. Yeah,

Gregorio Uglioni 31:33
I think and I can confirm it. It’s worth it to listen to not because I was in your podcast. But it’s, it’s really great. And also Congratulations, because you have more than 100 episodes. I think this is a great achievement. A lot of podcasters that can say I achieved 100 podcasts with such great success. Congratulation, Marianne.

Marianne Rutz 31:58
Thank you very much.

Gregorio Uglioni 32:00
And now we close with with the Marianne’s golden nugget. It’s something that was discussed or something new, that you would leave to the audience.

Marianne Rutz 32:11
For me, it’s really take the quality aspect of your service delivery seriously. Because just Just remember, if you have got 20 People that deliver quality to let’s say 100 people every day. These 100 people are happy, they impact their families of in average four and you do the sums. That one phone call impacts many more people than you actually think. So you can’t really afford not to deliver quality.

Gregorio Uglioni 32:50
Thank you very much, Marianne. It was an outstanding golden nugget, the last goal that you scored in this podcast. Thank you very much. It was really a pleasure to have you on my podcast.

Marianne Rutz 33:01
Thank you for having me here and it was a pleasure. Always enjoy speaking with you.

Gregorio Uglioni 33:05
And as Marianne also said I have to let the audience enjoyed this discussion as much as I did. And please let us know what you’re thinking about. If you need anything, feel free to contact Marianne. I will share all the contact details also in the show notes. Thank you very much and let us know what you think about Bye bye.

Marianne Rutz 33:24
Bye. Thank you.

Gregorio Uglioni 33:26
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. Thank you

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