Harnessing Agility for CX Success with Olga Potaptseva – E115

Episode released on: 27. February 2023

Harnessing Agility for CX Success with Olga Potaptseva (miniseries 1/3) Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had the great opportunity to interview Olga Potaptseva

LinkedIn Headline: Agile CX Solutions| Top 25 CX Influencer | CX Consultant | Founder of CXpanda 🐼 | CX mentor | Best-selling author and Speaker


  • 00:00 Game Start
  • 00:37 Olga’s introduction
  • 05:42 Olga’s values
  • 07:32 Definition of agility
  • 08:43 Agility and CX
  • 11:04 Leveraging Agility
  • 16:25 Prioritizing
  • 19:38 Olga’s Agile Framework
  • 20:29 First steps in agility
  • 22:22 Agility Benefits
  • 22:49 CX Panda
  • 25:10 Joining CX Panda
  • 26:10 Supporting CX Panda
  • 26:53 Need content
  • 28:48 Why Panda? 🙂
  • 30:18 The Future of CX
  • 31:19 Book Suggestion
  • 32:35 Contact Details
  • 32:54 Golden Nugget

and much more

Olga’s Contact Details:

Her book suggestion:

  • Our Iceberg is melting by John Kotter
  • This is not how we do it here by John Kotter
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Bonds that makes us free by Terry Warner

Olga’s Golden Nuggets:

  • It’s about customer experience science, about transforming, operating models that deliver more value to customers, employees, stakeholders, and the society. So customer experience really should be the total experience or the human experience. And that’s how I encourage everybody to think about it.

It’s about customer experience science, about transforming, operating models that deliver more value to customers, employees, stakeholders, and the society. So CX really should be the total experience or the human experience Olga Potaptseva on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast

#customerexperience #leadership #cxgoalkeeper #cxtransformation #podcast

What did we discuss?

Gregorio Uglioni
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the CX goalkeeper podcast your host, Greg will have smart discussions with friends, experts and thought leaders on customer experience transformation and leadership. Please follow this podcast on your preferred platform. I’m sure you will enjoy the next episode with the guest I selected for you,

éadies and gentleman today. It’s really, really a big pleasure because I have Olga Potaptseva together with me. Hi Olga, how are you?

Olga Potaptseva
Hi, Greg. Thanks for having me here. And well, thank you. How are you?

Gregorio Uglioni
Very well, I am super thrilled to have this discussion together with you Olga. On the CX goalkeeper podcast we already worked together. During the last customer experience board game, it was an outstanding experience. And I’m super thrilled to start the discussion and the discussion together with you. Today we have two topics, and that we would like to discuss together with you audience. One is blending agility and customer experience. That’s why you are very well known and everybody wants to work with you, because you are blending this in a perfect way. But we will also deep dive into the topic see expander we will explain what what is this I am thrilled that you will share that on this podcast because I think it’s something that it will be really helpful for us all cx professional but also not CX professional, that want to learn more about customer experience before deep diving into these two topics. As usual, I would like you to introduce yourself, what are the highlights of your career?

Olga Potaptseva
Thank you. Well, thank you so much for such kind words. It’s my pleasure to be on this podcast. And it’s a very popular podcast that I’ve listened many episodes off. And I hope everybody is listening to it because there’s a wealth of knowledge to be learned from your guests. And indeed yourself. As you said, what I do is agile CX implementation that is done through my company, European customer consultancy. And I’m very proud. And then to have the Agile CX implementation toolkit. The reason I took it upon myself to introduce agility into customer experience management, is because I believe that CX as a science has to be there to drive change in organizations. One part of CFC is educating everybody about the importance of such concepts. But unless we start demonstrating that it works,we are not really making a difference, or we don’t stand a chance. So the Agile CX implementation toolkit has been certified by the customer Institute. And I’ve applied it so many times across the world. It’s very exciting how different cultures perceive it. So I’ve modified it over time, quite a lot. And again, that’s very exciting journey. You’ve asked me about the highlights of my career? And to answer your question, I started off in insight and research within JFK and OPM, which is a Global Research Institute. And that part of me is very analytical. Now I like numbers. I like customer insights. And at some point, I realized that it’s all fun and games to be producing lots of numbers and discovering all the people’s motivations. But how do we make it known to organizations and not just known, but how do we get them to act on it? And one of the big influences in my career was somebody from Thomson Reuters, who I used to work with as a key account manager. And together we facilitated transfer from us contact centers into Manila, with 100% customer in mind. And that was a lightbulb moment for me. Ah, that’s how you apply insights. So there we go. I went on to seek a position of a head of customer experience with domestic in general, which is an insurance company in the UK, where I stayed for seven years, and implemented a customer centric operating model there. It was a fun and a times bumpy journey. But that’s where I learned a lot about the importance of agility, flexibility, and influencing. After that, I went on into a consulting role. And that has already been a few years ago, but I’m just trying to calculate how many actually six years this year and I work with companies all around the world. I was one of the first ones to start doing it virtually. Just through life circumstances. I moved from the UK to the Republic of Georgia. And Georgia is a tinyThe beautiful country, very similar to Switzerland, but just not as prosperous, I guess. I work out of Georgia in the Middle East and UK, Europe, US, you name it. So that’s pretty much the highlights of my career, I am very passionate about making CX, a fundamental contributor to the business. And I facilitate that through my role as an executive director at the customer Institute, through women in CX community, I judge at awards, I speak, I write books sometimes together with you. And having lots of fun in the process.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you, Olga. I think you mentioned that we work together not only on the CX world games, but we will also book together customer experience 3. And I think that’s, that’s, that’s great, you’re doing a lot of things, and you’re really helping a lot of clients, a lot of companies, a lot of human beings at the end. And therefore, I would like to understand a bit more, which values drive you in life.

Olga Potaptseva
I think my number one is integrity. And the way I interpret integrity is being true to your thoughts, and your beliefs in what you say in what you do. So that you are whole human being. And that leads me to spirituality, I think that’s very important. Because what goes around comes around and the more good you do for the world, the more good comes back to you and ultimately to the humankind. Third one is probably a collection of several things, is freedom, respect and kindness. And I think all of those are interconnected. It’s freedom of movement, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom to other people whom you respect and treat with kindness. We’re all free human beings free to do what we like as long as it’s within the law. And that diversity has to be embraced for the benefit of all of us. And courage, I guess, it takes a lot of courage to live in this world, and to be sex professional, and to be a parents to be a human being, I guess. And it’s scary sometimes. But it’s so rewarding when you approach it with determination and kindness and courage.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you, Olga. I think that that’s great. And I really liked the way you are explaining that, that and during that, before we started the recording, we said it’s not always only Thanks, God, it’s Monday or Thanks, God, it’s Friday. But every day, it’s a gift and we should make the best out of it. One thing that you mentioned its spirituality and with all due respect to to all the audience and to you. Some people are extremely religious about agility. And now we are going to discuss about agility and customer experience. And to make that a bit more understandable. What’s your definition of agility?

Olga Potaptseva
My definition is very simple. I’m far from being religious about agility. I think agility is the ability to move quickly and easily. All the rest, you know, a lot of people challenged me saying, oh, agility is for IT. No, it’s not it’s agility can be about anything in life. As long as you stay flexible, you’re able to adjust. Take quick decisions, with a bigger vision in mind, that’s agility. And in customer experience is especially important.

Gregorio Uglioni
I think yes, that’s, that’s really important that that we leverage and use also agility. In customer experience. I had the pleasure also to work in a company that was really agile, it’s not only on the IT side, but on all the complete side of transformation. We work in an agile way. And for me, the the one of the biggest learning, it’s really agility. It’s a mindset, it’s not the framework, the exact framework that you use, but what you said is the way that you are tackling things that are happening and you have this vision on the long term, and perhaps you mentioned that why is important to apply agility also in customer experience.

Olga Potaptseva
I will respond to the question, Do you know any organization in the world that hasn’t had to adjust over the past two or three years? I don’t. There is so much that’s changing in the environment. So much change in in consumer habits, in human connections and relationships that customers become different every day. They now know more about companies that companies know about themselves. They’re able to influence how how people perceive your company beyond your marketing strategy. And that trend is just going to accelerate, I can’t see the pace of change, slowing down at any near future hopefully won’t be dramatic and horrible. Good changes also change. So we’ve got to adapt to changes and see customers for the humans they are. And align, how we operate, what products we offer, what processes we design, what services we provide, to their needs, and expectations. That’s why I think agility is extremely important. That doesn’t mean running in all sorts of directions and changing your strategy every day. The strategy may remain there for longer term, you have that vision, you have your goal in front of you, but how you get to that goal, what you prioritize within the organization, and for your customers, is determined by your knowledge of customers and requires agility.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you, I think that that totally makes sense. And perhaps to make it tangible. Also for for the audience, how are you leveraging agility in the projects that you are running for your clients?

Olga Potaptseva
There are only two key principles, and then I’ll talk about the instruments a little bit more. So the principles are visualization or transparency and speed. So if you if you think about a classic, agile workplace or dashboard, you always have all of the tasks listed. And you know, what’s in the backlog, what’s in focus this week, and what’s in focus today, that ensures transparency, everybody’s know, everybody knows what everybody else is working on. And then speed means that speed of execution is there. I always say do not take more than four tasks per week, because you won’t do it. And if you want to do this whole, this is going to delay the project. That’s okay, keep it simple, keep it enjoyable, and progress in the way. In terms of kind of more detailed tools that I use to bring agility into organizations, I, I do education, I run master classes. My big partner in this endeavor is Romantica. And that’s part of their curriculum. So this year, we’re gonna do two master classes specifically on agile CX implementation. The next one is going to happen in June. So there’s still some time to sign up. But we will release registrations pretty soon. Education in itself is useful, but not enough. So that there is a specific framework that I operate in. Firstly, is the discovery or assessment. So what is the industry that you find yourself in? How customer centric is it? How advanced is it? So if you compare, for instance, farmer with hospitality, approaches to customer centricity, customer centricity maturity is very different. So you can’t afford to overachieve are under achieved in any given industry, then we do an assessment of your organization. How mature Are you within an assessment of your customer needs, so that serves as a solid foundation. Then we move on to planning. And again, lots of CX professionals will not class this bit as planning, but I do because nothing has happened yet as a result of it. It consists of formulating your CX strategy, mapping your journeys, and prioritizing opportunities. So now you’re set to go. It may take a while to get there, don’t underestimate how difficult it might be to even map the journeys. So again, agile principles, their work from engaging your stakeholders to organizing the actual meetings. In journey mapping the way I did we come out with 80 to 100 opportunities, which is insane, no, no organization would be able to execute that. That’s why prioritization is important. And this is my most the biggest revelation to me is that tools aren’t enough. Now, if I give you my agile CX implementation toolkit, it’s it’s pretty, it’s all hosted online, you can do your agile boards, but chances are that 90% of people won’t do it because the human element is missing. And that’s where my work is important because I talk about decision making biases for instance, when you do your pro utilization, there are 10 biases that can be at play. And some of them are pretty big. One of them were called hippo, for example, the highest, highest paid person in the room. Right? So most vocal or the most influential, or the most senior person could potentially dictate your opportunities without considering important opinions of those who are at the level where the information is basically signed off. Again, that’s where a lot of transformation programs fail. Classically, example, you go to senior leaders and say, I want to do this Yep, transformation program. They go, yes, he acts as a good thing gone. What do you need? I need to do journey mapping workshops. That’s a good idea. There you go. There’s some budget for you. Done, done. Now, guys, we need to do the projects. And otherwise, you did not tell us that before. You’re telling me that we need to do the digital transformation or employee experience program. So that’s a lot of money and a lot of budget. Why? So creating that burning platform for change at the very beginning is extremely important that there is leadership commitment, all the way, not just your department, your little tools.

Gregorio Uglioni
It’s extremely interesting what you’re saying perhaps also to make it understandable, you mentioned that there are several biases out to take decision. And and you mentioned the hippo, what are the best practice is to take the right decision or decisions in the interest of customer. What I’m often facing is every company has great prioritization tools, but at the end, the financial counts the most. And therefore, they take some often decisions related to short term financial gains, instead of focusing on customer what what’s your view on that?

Olga Potaptseva
It may be right, in some instances, depends what you’re burning platform for changes if if your leadership say that our most important objective this year is to cut costs, whatever initiative you’re going to put forward, that assumes a huge investment isn’t going to be approved, because this is the reality of the business, you’ve got to run a profitable company. So then your job as a CX professional is to cut costs in a customer centric way. How can you optimize instead of cutting? How can you leverage employees? How can you reduce non non value add activities without damaging the customer experience and hopefully enhancing it in the process. And I think when we talk about the ROI for customer experience, it’s it’s a little bit reversed. It’s not like I do a project, and then I calculate ROI, you first need to understand what is going to be the ROI of my activities, how it aligns with the strategy of my business, and then initiate a project. And then ROI comes by, by definition and design. So I think, because we operate in businesses, we have to accept that finance, have a say in it. We just need to influence how they view projects from a customer centric point of view. In terms of going back to your question, how to ensure that we look at all possible alternatives before we go with the with a dictatorship model if you like. We, there are tools and techniques that I use in my work that allow people to have a voice. So one of them very simple one that anybody can apply is anonymized idea submission. So if you’re in a workshop, ask people to vote for ideas or to submit ideas before you go into a discussion. And then separate that submission from a discussion when you do your analysis. And if if you feel that some ideas are really good, they’re founded on true customer centricity, but they received no gravitas in their discussion, go back to it and explore why that that is the case how you can maybe modify the idea a little bit or merge it with something else that has been approved.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you. I interrupted you earlier because you were sharing your part of your framework, you share that you there is a planning piece where you define the strategy, your your journeys, and what’s next.

Olga Potaptseva
Okay, so you do your foundations, your assessments, your planning, then you do the implementation, and that’s your Classic project management in an agile manner. Then you do your assessment Have you got where you were intending to get. And then the circle continues because by the time you’ve executed your five priority projects, you’re back to square one, more or less, the environments changed, people have changed. So that’s, that’s the cycle in a nutshell. But of course, it involves a lot of engagement and effort.

Gregorio Uglioni
I think this is exactly the one important thing, engagement and effort, because a lot of people want also to join this agile way of working, but they don’t know where to start and out to start. What What’s your view on that? How can people how can companies start working in a more agile way?

Olga Potaptseva
I think the first step has always to be identifying your burning platform for change. Is this operational excellence is this cost reduction is employee engagement, customer retention? What are you trying to achieve from a business perspective, then understand what projects you need to do to achieve that objective, then understand who in the organization could sponsor those projects, but also who could do those projects. And in CX, we always strive to encourage cross functional collaboration. So as you know better than I do, silos do not help. But they exist for a reason. Because there is functional expertise, we just need to draw on that functional expertise and form project teams. You need to appreciate people’s time. So you’re most likely asking them to take on another project. And they probably have other things they already working on. So with your agile skills, make it easy and enjoyable for them to participate in CX projects, show them how it impacts themselves, their colleagues, their organization, and ultimately the society and give them lots of praise. And then build on that success quickly, and more people will want to engage into this project.

Gregorio Uglioni
I think that totally makes sense. And perhaps to conclude this discussion about agility. From your point of view, what are the most important benefits for a company if they start working, and blending agility and customer experience?

Olga Potaptseva
They achieve results faster. They make CX work.

Gregorio Uglioni
I think that totally makes sense. And I think this is the clarity of thoughts that you are sharing already, since a while. That’s the reality, and it’s achieving results. And therefore, this methodology, help us help company progressing. And if we see progress, we feel the progress then it’s easier to continue and to drive this this customer centric transformation. Thank you, Olga. You mentioned earlier the hippo and this is one animal. Let’s go to the to the other one, CX Panda, could you please share a bit, the background of this of this great idea, of course,

Olga Potaptseva
that that will be my pleasure. It’s something that I started thinking about about four years ago. And that, again, is based on my desire to make CX work for businesses. And what I’ve realized is that an awful lot of time and budget is spent on acquiring knowledge. At the very simple level, try googling NPS, just try it, you’ll get something like 500 million results, trying to make sense of it. And that’s one of the simpler concepts. It caused a lot of debate, but it’s something that is well researched. Other concepts are more controversial to a certain extent, and more difficult. And I personally have spent a lot of time trying to understand who’s right, who’s wrong, which definition is correct. Is this expert better than this expert? And I thought wouldn’t be great if our industry that is worth quite a lot of billions of dollars had a resource where people could acquire knowledge very quickly, and then progress to implementation. And, you know, maybe no definition is 100% Correct. But well informed definition is 8% good enough, and you can work with that. You can use it to drive CX implementation in your company. So that’s how I created CX Panda, which is the first digital knowledge base for the CX industry. That that is a short story of it.

Gregorio Uglioni
How can people join CX Panda?

Olga Potaptseva
you can go to http://www.cx-panda.com. Register, it’s free to register. And then you have access to various CX topics. The view is that we will have around 20 CX themes, ranging from CX strategy to customer journey management, to emotional intelligence, and so on, so forth. For now, it’s just the beginning, we’ve launched CX strategy last week, the reviews so far has been quite positive. So that’s very encouraging for myself and my team. And we will be adding a theme every two or three weeks. In time, sections of it will require a subscription. But for now, everything is open to everyone. It’s all free. So do make use of it and give us your suggestions and reviews.

Gregorio Uglioni
How can people how can the audience eloquence improvements expander,

Olga Potaptseva
I would very much appreciate if people join and give us feedback. That feedback can be given on the website or by emailing emailing panda at CX dash panda.com. So that’s a very easy, there’s facilities on the website where you can like and comment and suggest content. If you like what I see, then please share on LinkedIn, recommend it to others. The more people know about it, the more the industry will benefit. And our vision is to make it easier, trustworthy and practical.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you. And perhaps also in the audience are quite a lot of people from the audience are also CX professionals that are writing articles, publishing books, and perhaps also publishing all their other podcasts. Which type of content do you need? And how can they participate, giving also additional content,

Olga Potaptseva
keep doing what you’re doing. We’re not writing or inventing anything, we take everything that is already published, said I think that is very important. This is not an auger show. This is everybody’s show. I have a list of 12 Magazine CX magazines that are approved for my content creators. If they come across an awesome article or a case study from a different source, then they run it past me first, if I disagree with it, I ask our customer advisory board, if they would like to see this case or this article, if they approve, we include it into our summary analysis. Same with podcasts, we have a list of 15 most popular podcasts as voted by CX CX is out there last year. And we continuously add books and book summaries. I’m very much hoping to collaborate on that. So if you’ve read a brilliant book, let us know. Also send us your summary. That would be really helpful. If you’re publishing an awesome piece of CX knowledge, again, let us know just to make sure that we don’t miss it. Chances are we won’t anyway, but it’s always great to have it and to update what we publish.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you. Olga., I think it’s you explained that in a very transparent way out the process it is. And I really like and enjoy being part of this of this tool, the solution. But one question I need to ask why panda?

Olga Potaptseva
Well, it’s we spent like any any startup, we probably spent far too much time finding a name. And then panda seems like a cute and relatable animal. And we’d like to make this resource easy and fun and enjoyable. You see some designs behind there on on display. So pandas seemed like the right character, but also CX panda sounds like expand. And that’s the concept behind expanding your knowledge. And that’s one thing again, that I’d like to elaborate on is it’s by no means replacing all the masterclasses and training programs. It doesn’t have the capacity to do that. But I collaborate with training providers, where they use CX panda as a reference as a resource. I don’t know if you know but there is a well known stat that 60% of content is forgotten you immediately after a training session, and only 10% is retained in a week. Isn’t that a huge waste of everybody’s time and effort to do that. So having a reinforcement mechanism is extremely important and very helpful.

Gregorio Uglioni
I totally agree. And therefore, I can only conclude saying, you will find in the shownotes, the link, join CX panda. It’s a great initiative. And I think you can learn and if we all together work together, we can create an outstanding solution and outstanding knowledge management that we can really leverage and bring us forward. The last content question I still have for you. It’s now we are in 10 years from now back on the CX goalkeeper podcast, what we are discussing about

Olga Potaptseva
humans. We’ll still be talking about humans. I don’t know how my business will evolve, either my consulting business at ECC, or CX Panda, I hope CX Panda will grow into marketing Panda, and IT panda and employee Panda, who knows, we’ll see what the world requires from us. But ultimately, we will be talking about the same thing. How do we make humankind happier?

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you very much, Olga. And now we are coming to an end in the extra time of this podcast of this game, three question for you. The first one is, is there a book that you would like to suggest to the audience that helped you during your career or during your life?

Olga Potaptseva
There are some I read a lot, I’ll struggle to select one. The most useful book that influenced my thinking about transformation is John Kotler. And it’s, that’s not how we do it here. And another one is our iceberg is melting. So if you if you haven’t read those, it’s entertaining. And it’s very interesting about how organizations work. My favorite book of last year is atomic habits. And that’s creating change in small steps in in oneself, and also in work. And the one I’m reading now is bonds that make us free by Terry Warner. It’s about slightly intangible softer side of us, how we build relationships, and how liberating and rewarding that can be.

Gregorio Uglioni
Super, thank you very much. And I’m quite sure that people would like to follow up, or we’ll follow up with you about what we discussed. Its agility in customer experience, or sex Panda, what’s the best way to contact you?

Olga Potaptseva
I would love that do contact me, I do not hesitate to do that best way to reach me is by LinkedIn.

Gregorio Uglioni
Perfect, and you will find the link in the show notes. And now we are coming to the end of the last question. It’s August golden nugget. It’s something that we discussed or something new that it would like to leave to the audience.

Olga Potaptseva
I feel like a celebrity. I think it’s about customer experience science, being about transforming operating models that deliver more value to customers, employees, stakeholders, and the society. So customer experience really should be the total experience or the human experience. And that’s how I encourage everybody to think about it.

Gregorio Uglioni
The only thing that I can say is thank you very much, Olga, it’s, you are so inspiring to your work, what you’re doing for the CX community and for human beings. Also today, it was really I was delighted to have this discussion with you, I learned a lot. And I hope that the audience will also enjoy this. The last thing that I say is thank you very much, Olga, for your time, and all the best for the expander

Olga Potaptseva
thank you so much. I’m very grateful to you and to the listeners and hope you enjoy it.

Gregorio Uglioni
Thank you very much, Olga. Please stay with me to the audience. It’s everything also for today. If you have feedback, feel free to contact Olga or me. We like feedback. We love feedback so that we can improve. Thank you very much. Have a nice day.

Olga Potaptseva
Bye bye. Bye.

Gregorio Uglioni
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. You’re in a human to human environment. Thank you

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