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

Putting the “customer” into customer experience

Release Date: January 7, 2020 • Episode #98

It’s easy for companies to look at data and make assumptions about their customers’ needs, but truly placing the customer central to your business means considering them in all business decisions. Host Steve Walker welcomes back to the podcast the founder and CEO of CX Journey Annette Franz to discuss her new book “Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the ‘Customer’ in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).”

Transcript

CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience" transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Download the “CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience" audio file directly. This CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience" was automatically transcribed by Sonix (https://sonix.ai).

CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience" 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 2020.

Steve:
Putting the customer at the center of your business. That's a great way to state what companies should do. But is that just a nice catch phrase?

Annette:
I think the big picture takeaway here is that it's all about the customer. It's why we're in business. We need to really think about not having any discussions, not making any decisions, not designing any products or services without first thinking about the customer because it is all about the customer.

Steve:
Putting the "customer" in customer experience, on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is a production of Walker, an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. Find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone, I'm Steve Walker, host The CX Leader Podcast, and thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast, we explore the topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. Many company executives like to think that they're providing services and products that customers want. They'll look at sales numbers and last year's revenue and make certain assumptions as to what's on their customers minds. But those metrics don't really tell the customer's true story. Listening to the customer's voice is essential. So on this episode, we're going to discuss ways to bring the customer voice into everything you do: your meetings, decisions, processes, the experiences you design for them. And we're pleased to welcome back Annette Franz, founder and CEO of CX Journey and author of a brand new book titled "Customer Understanding." Annette, welcome back to The CX Leader Podcast.

Annette:
Thanks so much, Steve, for having me. It's a great pleasure to be on the show again.

Steve:
Yeah, well, we had you on the show before, but I'm just so delighted to be able to have you back now on the occasion of your brand new book, which congratulations… Looks…

Annette:
Thank you.

Steve:
…great. I've had it for a week or so. Been flipping through it. But congratulations.

Annette:
Thank you. You know what, the reception, the feedback, everything has just been phenomenal. I'm so excited. I have this great feeling of success for writing this book. It's… It's gone really well. Trust me. I'm excited.

Steve:
We'll get to the book in a minute, but just for the benefit of our audience, wanted to just give us a little bit of background on you and remind everybody who you are.

Annette:
Absolutely, absolutely, yes. You know, I've been in this customer experience space for more than 25 years. I started my career at J.D. Power and Associates back in the early 90s and have spent the last… the better part of the last twenty seven years on the consulting side. You know, either running consulting services organizations and working with clients or, you know, being part of a consulting team. I spent… had two stints on the client side, one at Fidelity and one at Mattel many years ago. So… so feel a little well rounded in terms of my experience. And about almost three years ago, I decided, hey, you know what? It's time to go out on my own and do this thing on my own. So I'm really thrilled with how successful CX Journey, Inc. has been as well. And it's probably the best decision I ever made. So having a lot of fun doing the things that I love doing.

Steve:
This is your first book?

Annette:
It is my first book. Yes. I've written many, many more in my head, but this is my first one. [Laughing]

Steve:
Well, tell me, what was the impetus? What was the motivation to want to do this?

Annette:
You know, it's it's really interesting because I you know, I started my blog back in 2011 and at the time it was sort of my way to to start building my personal brand. But also I had so many things in my head that were, you know, from at that time, you know, almost 20 years of experience that I wanted to just get out. My… really my purpose is to help people. I'd love to help people. I love to educate, I love to teach and to bring greater awareness to this thing we call CX. Right? And so so as I started writing the blog and over the first several years of that, you know, people kept reaching out to me going, you got to put this in a book. You should put this in a book. And I love to write. And so a book was always on the… on the bucket list, I suppose. And then I kind of stalled on the idea because I thought that's what the world needs. Another CX book. So I… I stalled on that. And then I had conversations with folks who said, you know, no, that's that's not true. This is your CX book. This is CX, your perspective and your… you know, your expertise and what you'd like to share out there with the world.

Annette:
So, yes, the world does need another CX book and it's yours. And so… so, you know, I started it probably five years ago and it was, you know, fits and starts over the last five years. And then about about a year or so ago, actually in late twenty eighteen, I did a keynote in New York and walked off the stage and went, that's it. That is what the book is going to be about. You know, it's on the flight back from New York to Southern California. I took all my notes and just started to formulate what you know. It's obviously changed a bit since that keynote, but, you know, start to formulate what the book was going to look like. So that's that's how we ended up here and that's how we ended up where… where where it is today. And I love the the way that, you know, it's really… the way that it's turned out, but the way that it evolved, especially over the last five years or so. But I'm glad that where it landed, I'm really happy with where it is today.

Steve:
Well, I especially have noticed the subtitle, which for those who are going to get the book says "three ways to put the customer in customer experience and at the heart of your business." And actually, I don't know if I've shared this with you, but our… kind of our company mission – we don't we don't use this like a tag line or anything – but sort of internally, we kind of say that, you know, we're in business to help our clients put the customer at the heart of all their business decisions. So I just… that, that one of the reasons that caught my attention. So can you tell us a little bit more about the thought behind the subtitle?

Annette:
Yeah. You know, it's… so there's… there's it's sort of twofold. As as the title is sort of twofold as well. Right? So it's about the three ways. And and those are three ways to really understand your customers. Right? It's… it's surveys and data, it's personas, and it's journey mapping. Those are the… those are the three ways. And I always say that customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer centricity and customer centricity is all about putting the customer at the heart of your business. And so making that connection and making it real and helping people to make customer centricity, not just a thing, but to make it real and tell them and help them to achieve that. Right. How do I do that? It seems like such a big concept. And is it really realistic and is it really achievable? And it is. If we do these things and, you know, implement them and socialize them and operationalize them. Yes. Customer centricity is realistic.

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:
So let's take those three ways and just break them down a little bit more in why you made those the three pillars of the book. So let's talk about surveys and data first.

Annette:
Yeah. So. So the way that I described the three ways is listen, characterize, and empathize. So listen, is… is obviously the surveys and the data. Right? It's not just about… and it's not just about surveys. It's about any way that we can listen or ask and get feedback about the business and about the customer and their needs and problems to solve and all of that. But it's also about the breadcrumbs of data that they leave behind as they interact or as they transact with the organization. And what we tie, as you know, when we tie that data together with their feedback. We really have a robust picture of what the experiences is like today and have a really solid understanding of how well we're performing against our customers expectations.

Steve:
That's excellent. And then characterize is about personas.

Annette:
That's right. It's all about… this is where we get really get to the heart of who our customers are, right? We can't… we can't design the experience for target markets or target demographics or segments. Right? We need to really understand who our customers are, what their expectations need. Pain points, problems to solve, jobs to be done; all of those kinds of things. And when we when we develop those personas, that's what we're looking for. And we're not just looking at buyer personas. Right? Where we're shifting the conversation here really to those design personas and getting at more than just, you know, why they buy and what their preferences are. Those kinds of things. We are really looking at pain points and problems to solve. Because after all, that's how the business will add value is helping customers to solve their problems.

Steve:
And then empathizes about journey mapping.

Annette:
It is. Yes, and it's that's exactly what journey map. Yes. Right? It's about walking in our customers shoes and really understanding the experience that they're having today. And the important thing about this part is or this third way is that it's not just a journey mapping the tool, it's also journey mapping the process. Right? It's a… it's a big process that includes not just current state mapping, but also service blue printing and then future state mapping as well. And so when we combine all three of those things: listen, characterize, and empathize. When we combine all three of those, we have… we have a ton of data. And they all work together. Right? You know that the listening gets incorporated in the journey mapping, and personas. We start journey mapping with the with a persona and they all really flow together and they give us a really nice picture. Again, what the experience is like, who our customers are, what their needs and pain points are, those kinds of things.

Steve:
Yeah, I really like the framework very much and I'm anxious to see kind of from your consulting experience and also from the process of writing the book. Where do you think most companies are today? Are they… are they overweighted on one, underweighted, or are they are they in balance, or are they not in balance? And if so, where are the places that usually are tripping up companies?

Annette:
Yeah. You know that there's… there's overweighting on the listening part of it. I think you and I both know that that every company out there… I love to joke and say, you know, you get you get surveyed to go to the library, to the vet, the dry cleaner, everything we get to read about everything,

Steve:
Yeah, we've benefited…

Annette:
…the shortcomings…

Steve:
…from that, by the way. So…

Annette:
[Laughing] Yes. The shortcoming is obviously that, you know, it's it's a checkbox and it's not a "hey, go and do something with what you've learned." So… so I think that's probably where companies are heavily weighted. I think persona's is a shortcoming with a lot of companies because I've seen companies that journey map like, oh, well, we have our buyer personas, or we… we're not even thinking about, you know, different personas when we're journey mapping or we started with this segment, you know, kind of things. I think persona's is… is really the weak link here. And we need more people to develop those personas because that's where you're gonna get a real deep understanding of who your customers are.

Steve:
Yeah, and I actually I was joking around about us benefiting from too much data. In fact, we know.. well, we ended up shooting ourselves in the foot. You know, we over surveyed and we underacted on it. And, you know, we got fatigue and… and so, you know, that that's kind of the way the world… you know, that's what goes around comes around. But I… I really like your discussion of personas in the book, because I think sometimes people just kind of go to the standard demographic or psychographic, and… you really gotta go a lot deeper, particularly in the CX space, don't you?

Annette:
Yes. Yeah. Absolutely. And I… and the… unfortunately, the persona chapter in the book is probably the shortest of the three ways. And it's not because it's not important. I wanted to, you know, to your point, make that clarification on… on the types of personas. But when you… yet you need to develop: not just the buyer personas but the design personas. So when you go and develop those personas, you're gonna be working with a… with a research partner who is going to be an expert at the types. And you guys, I'm sure Walker does… helps clients develop personas. You guys know the types of questions that need to be asked. That process that you need to go through. And when I… when I develop personas with my client, I have a partner that I work with here locally who does those projects with me. And so… so I didn't, you know, keep that chapter short for any reason other than you're going to work with a partner who's going to be very adept in developing and designing the right questions and developing the personas with you.

Steve:
And then when you bring it all together with the empathize phase, with the journey mapping, where do you kind of see companies in the marketplace today?

Annette:
I think… so a couple of things. This is… this is fun: when I'm… when I am out, you know, doing talks about journey mapping or that involves journey mapping, I'd like to ask, you know, how many in the room are journey mapping? And I swear, like, every hand goes up. [Laughing] And then when I go through the actual process itself, I ask the question again and either no hands go up or maybe two hands will go up. And I think there's this varying definition of what journey mapping actually is. And I think what most people are doing is they're either actually process mapping or they are doing touchpoint maps. Right? They're just looking at the lifecycle stages and then capturing the various touch points within each of those, which is important. That's an important thing to do. But it is not. It is not during mapping, right? So… so it is important for people to really understand what that process is so that you can understand the experience and design a better experience for your customers.

Steve:
My guest on this week's podcast is Annette Franz. She is just recently published her first and culminating book, "Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the Customer in the Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business.)" And we're having a delightful conversation about why she wrote the book and some of the key components of the book. Annette, was… was there a specific audience that you were trying to… to direct this book to?

Annette:
You know, it's… it's for the customer experience professional, you know, the practitioner and all… any and all levels, right? Because as I know in the work that I do with my clients, I'm engaged by C-level. I'm engaged by, you know, directors. I'm… I'm engaged by individual contributors who want to do, you know, who want to shore up their knowledge to… to help internally within their organizations. So… So it is really for the customer experience professional. But one thing that I would note is that it's also for somebody who's perhaps in the talent and culture profession as well, in… in that field, because everything in the book, even though the book is called "Customer Understanding," it could be called "Employee Understanding," because everything in the book, all that, you know, those three ways apply to employees as well. So I think that's important. And then the mass audiences is leadership. As you… as you went through the book, you probably saw the last chapter… [laughing] the last chapter is my open letter to CEOs. And it's just… it's… it's important that the entire organization understands why it's so important to know who your customers are and how we design design the experience. So… so while, you know, initially written for probably those three key audiences, it's anybody who's in business who wants to keep their customers and keep them happy. That's who should read it. Right? Because there's a lot of also even though there I go into those three ways, there's a lot of sort of foundational context upfront in the first part of the book, to really sort of I call it building the business case, is that first part of the book. Because it is, and we need to get everybody on the same page in terms of what it means to, you know, to have this customer centric business and why.

Steve:
You know, one of the things I found interesting Annette is that early on in the book, you say that everything that applies to customers also implies to employees. And I just found that kind of interesting. So can you give us a little more background on that?

Annette:
Yeah, I think I think what's really important so two parts to that: So the listen, characterize, and empathize, those are absolutely the three things that you also need to do to help you put the employee and employee experience too, right? To… to make sure that employees have a great experience, understand employees and design a better experience for them. And I think the second part of that is that you can't have a customer centric culture without focusing on… on the employees as well. And so it's really about putting the employees first – or more first, I guess would be the word and then putting customers first, but bringing them together, making sure that the employee experience is a key part of designing that customer centric culture as well.

Steve:
Yeah, because in the race for talent today, employees are just as important, if maybe not more so than, well, at least equal to customers

Annette:
Absolutely.

Steve:
And the employees want a great experience as well. So. Great point.

Annette:
Yes,

Steve:
Great point.

Annette:
They do.

Steve:
Now, where can people find the book?

Annette:
The book is on Amazon. It's available both in paperback and Kindle versions, but… but it's only on Amazon.

Steve:
And the name of the book is customer understanding and Annette Franz: F. R. A. N. Z. is the author. OK, we're coming up to the culmination of our podcast show and that's where we always try to give some take-home value. So we'll do a little twist on that today. So because you have different audiences for this book, maybe without a spoiler alert on the book, but maybe give us your best tip from the book for say the C-Level executive, CEO, perhaps the more corporate CX professional, and then maybe somebody… somebody in between. Maybe just a general executive middle-market executive that's… that's interested in the topic.

Annette:
Well, I think… I think the C-level and then the general audience, I think the big picture takeaway here is that it's all about the customer. It's why we're in business. You know about the customer, for the customer, with the customer. And so I think that the big thing is, is that we need to really think about not making any, or not having any discussions, not making any decisions, not designing any products or services without first thinking about the customer, bringing the customer's voice into all of those decisions and discussions and designs, because it is all about the customers. I think that's the big takeaway for the CX professional. I would say that the big takeaway is you've got to do these three things. You've got to… you've got to also make sure that you have those foundational elements in place. I talk about, you know, the first part of the book and building that business case for why we're doing this. But you've got to do all three of these things and don't skimp on it. Right? This is really important stuff that needs to be done and needs to be done right.

Steve:
Yeah, you know, your message to the CEOs really registers with me. I think Peter Drucker wrote in like 1957 that the purpose of business was to attract and keep customers. It's just so it's… it's a… it's a concept that's now at least 60 years old in the strategy documentation. But yet, you know, the ways that we can do it and the way that we're creating value, it just does nothing but get harder and harder in some ways to keep differentiating and keep doing it. But it's some sense, it's still relatively simple. You know, you just gotta make sure that you're paying attention to customers. And I think you're three-legged framework for how a CX pro should operate with listen, characterize, empathize. And then, you know, the building blocks of each one of those phases being surveys and data, personas, and journey mapping. So I really encourage those CX pros that are in our audience to get onto Amazon and pick up a copy of your book.

Annette:
Thank you, I appreciate that. I appreciate that. And it's interesting that you talk about Drucker and that quote, because one of the things that I… that I mentioned in the book as well is there's that quote from Gandhi that is… that… it gets credited to Gandhi every time and it's the one that starts something, you know, the customer is not dependent upon us. The interesting thing that I found is I was doing research for the book was that that quote actually was… it was written in… in an article in 1941. And it wasn't Gandhi, it wasn't Ghani who said it or wrote it. 1941. That's been around for a long time you know, so. So yeah, we need to kind of get back to the, again, the heart of… the heart of the matter here and think about our customers first.

Steve:
Yeah, I always you know, one of the ways I've described this business historically is, you know, back in the old days before there was mass markets and advertising and national and things like that, you know, everything was a village and all the people in the village knew each other. And so the experiences were quite tailored and quite personalized. And you didn't need a database because everybody knew each other. And in some ways, that's what we're enabling in a very complex world today with CX is we're… we're allowing mass personalization. And… and that's where it's going. I mean, that's… that's how you're going to create the unique experience for a customer or employee today.

Annette:
Yeah, I love that. That's a great point.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week has been Annette Franz. She's the founder and CEO of CX Journey and also the author of her brand new book, "Customer Understanding," available to everybody on Amazon. So log on to Amazon right now and buy yourself a copy of a customer understanding. Annette, thanks for being on the program. We're always happy to have you. And again, congratulations on the book.

Annette:
Thank you and thanks so much for having me. Always delight speaking with you. Thank you.

Steve:
And if you want to talk about anything else you heard on this podcast or about how Walker can help your business's customer experience, please feel free to contact me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or give us a call here in the U.S. at 1-317-843-8890. Be sure to check out our Web site cxleaderpodcast.com. You can subscribe to iTunes, Spotify. IHeart Radio, Google Play, and YouTube and find all of our previous episodes, podcast series, and contact information so you can let us know how we're doing. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, we're an experienced management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks again for tuning in and listening. And we will see you again next time.

Quickly and accurately convert audio to text with Sonix.

Sonix uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence to convert your CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience" files to text.

Thousands of researchers and podcasters use Sonix to automatically transcribe their audio files (*.CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience"). Easily convert your CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience" file to text or docx to make your media content more accessible to listeners.

Sonix is the best online audio transcription software in 2020—it’s fast, easy, and affordable.

If you are looking for a great way to convert your CX Leader Podcast – "Putting the 'customer' into customer experience" to text, try Sonix today.

Tags: