A resource for customer experience (CX) and experience management (XM) professionals.
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts Listen on Spotify Subscribe on Google Play Listen on Stitcher Listen on Stitcher Listen on YouTube

Globalization and CX

Release Date: October 15, 2019 • Episode #88

With more companies moving to globalizing their business, it can be easy to overlook the implications of not considering cultural differences required for CX programs in different countries. Steve welcomes back Bob Azman, a CX professional with over 40 years of experience and founder and CXO of Innovative CX Solutions, to discuss why companies should consider the customer experience in the context of other countries and cultures.

Transcript

The CX Leader Podcast: "Globalization and CX" transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Download the “The CX Leader Podcast: "Globalization and CX" audio file directly. This wav was automatically transcribed by Sonix (https://sonix.ai).

The CX Leader Podcast: "Globalization and CX" was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Steve:
Companies today have more opportunity than ever before to expand their business to a global scale. And of course, it has implications for their customers' experiences.

Bob:
There needs to be, in my view, a sensitivity toward what's happening locally. What's the local culture and how does your brand interact with that local culture and how does the customer experience translate.

Steve:
Thinking about customer experience on a global scale on this episode of CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX leader podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients gain a competitive advantage by delivering an exceptional experience for their customers. You can find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everybody. I'm Steve Walker, the host of The CX Podcast and thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. We've had some fascinating conversations on this podcast with CX professionals that operate their programs on a global scale. Companies whose customers are from around the world and must take into consideration a slew of factors when gathering insights and design programs that help bring a positive experience to their customers. As I'm sure you can imagine, creating and managing programs on that level is not an easy task. My guest today is no stranger to the topic of CX on a global scale, or to our show. Bob Azman, a CX professional with over 40 years of experience and he's the founder and CXO of Innovative CX Solutions, a CX consulting firm. Hey, Bob, thanks for coming back on The CX Leader Podcast.

Bob:
Steve, thanks for inviting me back. It's it's great to be back and talking with you about this subject. It's… it's a hot topic right now in the CX world for sure.

Steve:
Yeah. I'm remember when we were preparing to do our last podcast, we just sort of got off on what the good old days were as as we started to see some of these CX programs, VOC programs go global. And we just were having such a good time telling stories and stuff that we thought it would be a great podcast. So, really appreciate you being willing to come back on the podcast and talk about this – is going to be really instructive for CX leaders who are operating on a global scale.

Bob:
I would agree 100 percent.

Steve:
So in the last time, you know, one of your big messages, you talked about thinking globally but acting locally. Maybe just give our listeners a little more context, why that was your advice at the time and how that kind of fits into the way you run a CX program on a global scale?

Bob:
Well, of course, it's so important when you're dealing with a brand that is global and making sure that the foundational elements of that brand are consistent, Steve, regardless of where you're located in the world. However, that being said, there needs to be, in my view, a sensitivity towards what's happening locally. What's the local culture and how does your brand interact with that local culture and how does the customer experience translate? So what is going over really well in the U.S. may not be the same experience in Europe, for example, but that doesn't mean you throw the brand out. It just simply says that you keep in mind the globalness of your brand while you identify and be sensitized to the local culture, the local experience, and what in reality is going to enhance your brand even more by considering the local implications of what you're selling or the services you're providing.

Steve:
Yeah, and we talked about it, I think in here in the U.S. we were so blessed to have such a huge domestic market that we were kind of late to the international party compared to like the Western Europeans and probably even the more developed countries in Asia who early on figured out that their domestic market, which just wasn't big enough to support their growth objectives. So I think that in general, we we probably would say that most U.S. based multinationals tend to be a little bit too U.S. centric.

Bob:
I would definitely agree with that. And I've got some exposure to this through the teaching I do at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School, because there I spend a semester with 30 or 35 MBA students that are, you know, mid-level managers in very large companies. And we talk about globalization. I mean, that's the course. How do we take your company's products and services and globalize them? And there really is this need to understand the risks as well as the benefits of globalizing your organization's products and services. And so there's definitely that factor that comes into play with, say, I'm you know, I'm just going to go over and I'm going to do whatever I do in the U.S. I'm going to do it in, in France or I'm going to do it in India or I'm going to do it in Japan. And it just doesn't always work. And when you layer the customer experience on top of that, you know, we spend a lot of time talking about the voice of the customer. Why, if you've got a global brand and you're only listening to the voice of the customer, that's based on the U.S., I'm not sure you'll have much success in enrolling that product and service out globally if that's the only voice you're listening to, you've got to listen to all the voices, so to speak.

Steve:
Yeah. So it's more than just the CX problem. It's, it's a you know, it's a product for advertising, for brand, for, you know, really the whole, the whole marketing mix. But just kind of dial it down a little more for our listeners, I know you've been very involved in the CXPA and the CXPA is now expanding globally – as is that in fact the case?

Bob:
It is. And it's great timing for this podcast because we're just coming off CX day and… which was on the first of October. And, I mean, we had great participation globally. We have a lot of enthusiasm globally about CX. And the participation CX day was really encouraging, you know, starting in Australia and working our way around the world. So we are looking at expanding globally through our local networking groups and I'm sure you are familiar with it, but I'll share with your listeners that, you know, the CXPA is built upon the local networking groups. And so individuals in cities located throughout the world decide to form a network and under the auspices of CXPA, gather CX professionals together and, and talk about the topics that are so important in CX. So it's really exciting in the fact that CXPA is expanding globally. But we too are facing the exact same thing we're talking about is: how do we be sensitive to the local areas worldwide and not cast a U.S. blanket on that and say, well, this what worked in the US will work everywhere? And a credit to our international members, Steve, is that they're helping us and, and guiding us and how we can expand more effectively throughout, throughout the globe.

Steve:
Yeah, I actually was reminded of this. I went to a training session last week out in Silicon Valley and 71 participants loosely associated with Stanford University. But it's all about innovation in emerging technologies. But there were 71 attendees at this session and I think there were less than 20 that were American. So a very global group. And again, I was reminded about, you know, the power in all of that diversity and really how… how small the world's becoming and how wonderful it is. And it reminded me of the early days, I think, when you and I were talking. We both go back in this business quite a ways. But I think we did some of our first global work on Voice of the Customer in the mid 80s. And at that time, there really weren't a lot of manuals or ideas or, or CXPA that might provide professionals with the resources. So we were just kind of pioneering it. But I think all those things that, that you were mentioning and I think we probably at Walker, we probably made every one of those mistakes going down the road because it was just such a brave new world of, of the global aspect of a customer experience.

Bob:
Well, and of course, I think I agree with you. I think we've all been those errors. I think another interesting perspective that we talked about was this is also not a one way street. In other words, for, for those people listening that are internationally based outside the U.S., how you come into the US with your products and services is also something that needs to be considered. That whole think global, act local. Well, there's certain aspects of the United States that needing to be sensitive to regionally based or how your product is, is serviced, how you're… how you organize, how you look at the population within the U.S. and the differences east, west… east to west coast, for example. Those are all factors that companies trying to come into the U.S. also have to consider as well. So I kind of look at it as a two way street that globalization is going both directions. Much more to your point than ever before, because the world is getting a lot smaller with technology. And that's something that needs to be considered by CX professionals as well.

Announcer:
Do you have an idea for a topic that you'd like us to cover? A suggestion on how we can improve the program, or just want to let us know how much you enjoy listening? Email The CX Leader Podcast at podcast@walkerinfo.com. We'd love to hear your feedback on how we're doing. That's podcast@walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Let's bring it back to the sort of the CXPA and customer experience, because you know what, as a customer experience professional, you're really trying to make that experience consistent across the globe and across cultures so that, you know, an executive or a customer who could access that information, be it in the U.S., Asia or the developing world or Eastern Europe, Western Europe, they're going to have the same kind of consistent experience. And that's, that's easier said than done. So what's your experience with that, Bob?

Bob:
Well, I would say similar to what you had just mentioned, Steve, that, that along the way with the global companies that I worked for, we made our own share of mistakes. But I think if you establish and understand the foundational strategy for your company and specifically the customer experience strategy, I think if that's solid, if that's well known and well communicated, that gives you a better opportunity to branch out and, and adjust that strategy for the local cultures that you're interacting with. I keep coming back to the belief that it has to be on solid foundation. So, so I don't advocate that you have a different customer experience strategy for every country you operate in, for every product and service that you have. You need to declare and defend your brand and what it means from a customer experience standpoint. And then once that's embedded in your culture, once you know, in the CX maturity curve, we call that being embedded in the mindset of the company. Once that's there, then you're able, frankly in my belief a lot more easily to adjust for local culture.

Steve:
Yeah. And actually that reminds me of one of the other topics that you and I, when we were brainstorming this we, we got into. But, you know, one of the really I think neat things about this globalization is around customer experiences that customer experience is really about your integrity and your intentions to do right by the customer. So, you know, kind of one byproduct of this is that it's, there's some ethical implications here I think are a positive generally for globalization, as well as for the purity of, of commerce around the globe, too. I know you've done some of this in your MBA classes, too, right?

Bob:
Oh, absolutely. We talk a lot about ethics in globalization. And that's been an interesting learning experience for me, too, because I talk about it so much. So I spent time in several large global companies and there was, there was no gray area. We operated as a… as a company and the highest ethical standards possible. We did not take bribes if that was common practice in the country. We didn't do anything that was not in compliance with corporate policy and as I said, high ethical standards. And there just wasn't any gray area. In my in my courses and in my teaching, I've heard the term when it comes to this, you know, "it depends." So when you take a bribe in a country that's known for the way you do business and the response from some students can be, "it depends." And my response to that is I don't think ethics is a, is a dependent conversation. It's really about: are you ethical or you are not ethical. And you have to decide as a company, are you going to do business in a country that perhaps doesn't operate at the highest ethical standards that your company. Could mean lack of revenues? You know, who knows what the implications could be, might miss out on a market opportunity. But that's certainly one of the decision making criteria you need to make as a as a leader in a company is: "am I going to do business this way if that's the standard for doing business in that particular country or region?"

Steve:
No, I think this is something that the world's going to benefit from in the long run. I don't think we'll get there overnight. And obviously, there, you know, there are different value systems in different markets around the world. But, you know, I think at the very basic level, you know, customer experience is about integrity and it's about, you know, doing what you say and delivering a good value product or service for the money. And that just implies that, you know, you can't be injecting things that have nothing to do with taking care of customers into the equation. So I think that's a, that's a neat discussion and something where CX leaders can be helpful to their organizations going forward.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week is Bob Azman, who is the founder and CXO of Innovative CX Solutions. Bob's a second-time guest on the podcast and we brought him back to talk specifically about how do you take CX on a global level. Bob's also been real involved in the leadership of CXPA, which has a new effort to expand globally. If some of our listeners, Bob, are around the world and who maybe don't have access to CXPA in their market right now, what kind of advice would you give them?

Bob:
Well, thanks, Steve. I appreciate coming back again with these great topics that we discussed. As far as CXPA is concerned, if you're interested in starting a local networking group, just go to the cxpa.org and indicate your interest. And Derek Iverson, who's on our staff and runs a local networking groups will… will be ready, willing and able to assist you in getting that started. And it's interesting, I… I'm based in Austin, Texas, and we had a networking group a few years ago and it kind of fizzled out. And, and I thought to myself, oh, boy, as chairperson of the board of directors of CXPA living in Austin, Texas, without a networking group that doesn't look very good, to have the chairpersons hometown not have a networking group. So I jumped in and a few of my colleagues here in Austin and we're, we're putting our own networking group together. And it does take a little work, but it's a lot of fun. And our first event was more of a social gathering to see who is in our area. And we had great turnout and talked to CX, professionals and shared the war stories. And so I would encourage people to jump in and, and, I was… I had the benefit of my local colleagues also jumping in and say, hey, we'll help organize the next one. So we're off to a new networking group in Austin. And I encourage anybody that wants to do that to certainly jump in, in and have fun. It'll be a very rewarding experience.

Steve:
And if people do want to get more information, I assume they can hit the Web site, right, Bob? cxpa.org, is that correct?

Bob:
That's correct.

Steve:
Excellent. Well, let's come back a little bit, and again, most of our listeners are CX professionals and a lot of them happen to be in the B2B space. But let's talk particularly about why globalizing your program, particularly for a B2B example, is so critical. And, you know, we kind of used this example of like a distribution company, like let's take Sysco Foods where, you know, here in the U.S. you would see the big semis pull up, you know, outside of a Marriott hotel and back into the loading dock and forklifts would, would take the stuff off. But, you know, in in a more developed country or in a European city, can't get a big semi in there. And in fact, in some even more remote areas, it might even be delivered by motorbike or something. So that's just sort of an example. Like, like the, the idea is to get the delivery there on time from a customer experience standpoint. But actually the way you do that around the globe may be very different. I don't know if there's other examples that you have from your experience, but… or some advice you could give our listeners.

Bob:
Well, I think that's an excellent example. And a couple others come to mind. I know a large discount chain that expanded into Canada. I mean, you don't think as Canada, as, as global, but there our neighbors to the north and and they struggled by how they went into Canada and how they tried to establish their promotions and how they evaluated the Canadian market. And so that, that's a case, like you said, it's not always about the experience being different as much as it is about how we approach the marketplace that we're going into. What, what have we done to understand it and, and to pursue it? One of the, one of the case studies is that we've worked on is in my classes is how do you mobilize? So let's take a product or service, and it's generally on the B2B market. How do you globalize it? And the students lay out this case study. And in this case, it was how do we move this product into China, and from the U.S. based product. And the students had done a great job pulling this whole case study together. And this was last last year and they were getting ready to present and the morning of the presentation tariffs were imposed and it changed all of their PNL, that changed all of their approaches. It put this risk factor that had been somewhat anticipated, but now was a reality and they had to change on the fly. And so I think understanding what those risks are, and again, this is a two way street: there's plenty of risk of companies coming into the US, just as there are U.S. based companies going international and understanding what those risks are and how you mitigate them to the best of your ability makes for a more solid globalization plan, which also includes how you're going to deliver your customer experience.

Steve:
Well, that sounds like we're about ready for take home value. Bob, you ready for take home value? Ready to give our listeners your best tip. If you've got a global program, where can I add value right now to my global CX initiatives inside my company?

Bob:
Well, first and foremost, I'd say tap into the global expertise that we have in the customer experience profession. I just think it's… there are so many great professionals out there worldwide that have done this that you can link in with. You can go to CXPA and and become a member and, and talk to other members. You can be associated with great companies like Walker that have globalized. I mean, it's really tapping into that expertise is my number one suggestion because plenty of people have done there. Steve, you and I both gave examples of things that we did in our past and let's not try to reinvent the wheel here, but let's try, in fact, to tap into that collective expertise and learn from it. So that's my first kind of value add is: there are people out there find them and, and get involved with them and understand what they did to be successful in globalizing. And, I'd say the second part of that is that CX professionals, we have a unique position in many companies where we look across all the functions and departments. We look over at sales and marketing and operations and manufacturing and so forth. And so I think we are really in a unique position to see what that brand promise is and how we're going to deliver on that promise through the customer experience. So how we structure our programs, how we approach voice of customer, how we approach journey mapping, how we approach the other techniques, and developing an effective customer experience really can have an impact on the whole, whole organization. So I kind of like to say, and perhaps biased that I am, is that we can, we can lead the way here as CX professionals in helping the company globalize and understand how important it is to, to bring that experience to the forefront of everything we're doing.

Steve:
I really… those are great tips, Bob, and kind of recalls something that I've thought of for a long time is that uniting around the customer experience is something that's pretty hard to argue against inside of your organization. I mean, if you're doing things for the right reasons for the customer, there should be a way to break down silos and to build bridges and find common ground even across cultural language, other barriers that might exist. So great tips, great take home value. And thanks for being a guest on the program once again.

Bob:
You bet.

Steve:
In case anybody wants to get in touch with you, via this podcast and expand their network, you're on LinkedIn. Are you not?

Bob:
I am on LinkedIn and would be happy to connect with anybody that's listening to this podcast and continue the conversation about CX or globalization. I think these are great ways to communicate effectively with lots of our colleagues in this profession.

Steve:
Yeah, just go to Bob Azman. That's A, Z, M, A, N. He is the CXO of Innovative CX Solutions. You can find him on LinkedIn. Great leader for our industry and for our profession and a great guest on the podcast, so thanks once again, Bob, for joining us.

Bob:
Thank you, Steve. Appreciate the invite.

Steve:
And if you want to talk about anything else you heard on this episode or about how Walker can help your business customer experience, you can contact me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or call me here in the U.S. That's +1-317-843-8890. Don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to connect with you. Don't forget to subscribe to The CX Leader Podcast. You can go to walkerinfo.com/podcasts and you'll find links to iTunes, Spotify, IHeartRadio, Google Play, and we're even on our own YouTube channel now. Simply go to walkerinfo.tv to listen.

Steve:
Thank you again for listening to The CX Leader Podcast. This is a production of Walker and we are an experience management firm that helps our clients gain competitive advantage by delivering an exceptional experience for their customers. And if you haven't heard where the 2019 Qualtrics CX Partner of the Year, find out more at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for listening and we'll see you again next week.

Quickly and accurately convert audio to text with Sonix.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your wav files to text.

Thousands of researchers and podcasters use Sonix to automatically transcribe their audio files (*.wav). Easily convert your wav file to text or docx to make your media content more accessible to listeners.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2019—it’s fast, easy, and affordable.

If you are looking for a great way to convert your wav to text, try Sonix today.

Tags: