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

The Human Experience

Release Date: July 7, 2020 • Episode #124

Customer experience is quickly gaining world-wide adoption. Companies around the globe are realizing the importance of providing the best experience possible for their customers. Understanding and empathizing with customers is a critical component to CX, and that includes understanding cultural differences and expectations. Host Steve Walker welcomes guest Ian Golding, an influential consultant in CX with worldwide experience in several different industries to discuss CX across the globe.

Transcript

CX Leader Podcast: "The Human Experience" transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

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

CX Leader Podcast: "The Human Experience" was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Steve:
Naturally, customer experience in the United States is not the same as in other countries. So how does CX work across the globe?

Ian:
You know what's great now is that it doesn't matter where you go in the world. Businesses think they know what customer experience is and it's even down to something as small as the CX acronym. And if nothing else, the fact that everyone knows what CX is, is a very positive thing.

Steve:
How CX is evolving around the world on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

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

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host of The CX Leader 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 your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. Customer experience is quickly gaining worldwide adoption companies around the globe are realizing the importance of providing the best experience possible for their customers. Understanding and empathizing with customers is a critical component to CX, and that includes understanding cultural differences and expectations. I'm really excited about our guest for this episode. Ian Golding is an influential consultant and CX and has experience in several different industries ranging from retail, telecom and pharmaceuticals. He's a renowned blogger, speaker and author and was the first person to become an authorized resource and training provider for the CCXP accreditation. Ian, thanks so much for joining us on CX Leader podcast.

Ian:
It is an absolute pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.

Steve:
Oh, it's our pleasure to have you. And you know, I've known about you for some time just because of the industry and so forth. But maybe for those of our listeners who are a little newer to CX, can you give just a little bit of your background and how you came to this profession and what your journey has been to become a CX pro?

Ian:
Absolutely, yeah. Unfortunately, most people have heard of me for a while, and I, I tend to be a little bit irritating. So, you know, I'm like a bad smell: I don't go away. I've actually been involved in this profession for over 25 years now. I know obviously I don't look that old, but, twenty five years. I actually spent 17 years of my career on the inside trying to drag companies kicking and screaming into a world of doing the right things for customers. I started my career in financial services actually before spending the worst six months of my life in outsourcing. I moved into food service and then ultimately online retail. So I had a very broad experience as an employee. I then went independent eight years ago in 2012. And since that time I've spent my life, it feels, on an airplane working in 44 countries around the world with almost every industry you can imagine helping them to understand how to turn the theory of customer experience into something that drives practical, demonstrable change. And so I've got quite an interesting insight into how customer experience has been evolving in every continent in the world. Actually, I've worked in every continent apart from Antarctica, and I don't think that there'll be any point soon where that will change.

Steve:
Yeah, I don't know if the penguins and the researchers down there…

Ian:
Yeah, I'm not sure they're going to be too bothered about customer experience.

Steve:
You know, twenty five years ago, we really we didn't call it CX. So is your background more like research or is it more customer service or…

Ian:
I'm one of those weird people that is a process improvement, guys.

Steve:
Okay, so more total quality.

Ian:
I spent quite a lot of time with my career in G.E. and so I'm a lean Six Sigma master black belts, which I, I only tell people under my breath nowadays they don't roll their eyes at me. So everything started in process improvements. And it might sound extreme, but I was fortunate enough to start my career when Jack Welsh was still CEO, of G.E. And G.E. literally changed my life because for me, going into a business like that and seeing how sincerely they wanted to do the right thing for the customer just makes so much sense to me. And I think that's what defined really the direction that my career went in. And it's just very saddening for me to see now that G.E. Is no longer the company that it used to be. And it's also obviously sad that Jack Welch passed away earlier this year.

Steve:
Let's talk a little bit more about your experience, and why don't you just sort of say how you see our industry evolving. You know, most of our listeners are in North America, but we have a pretty good base in Europe as well. But even more the developing countries, just sort of what do you see about the evolution of our industry?

Ian:
I am in a very fortunate position to see how businesses are approaching customer experience in very different parts of the world. I work in the Middle East. I work in Europe. I work in the Far East. So I am able to say what I'm about to say with confidence: what I have seen over the last two to three years is a pattern emerging where the so-called developed economies are moving in a different direction with regards to the way they're adopting customer experience to so-called less developed economies. And I say "so-called" because, you know, I think that the days of trying to differentiate between developed and underdeveloped is not quite the same as it used to be. And in my opinion, based on what I'm seeing right now, the more developed economies like the US and Western Europe are going backwards with regards to the developments of customer experience. Whereas I do a lot of work in Africa and a lot of work in Eastern Europe, where economies are far less developed, those economies are advancing in the right direction much more aggressively. Now, let me just give you a couple of explanations as to why. My concern about countries like the US and the UK is that we are going through a period of what I describe as arrogance, and apathy. There is too much of a subconscious belief that we know all of this stuff already and we're doing it and we don't need to know anymore. And in fact, stop telling us because, you know, we put the customer at the heart of everything we do already. We don't need to worry about this. Now, you and I know that saying it and doing it all two entirely different things. And I was in the US last year and I have a couple of clients in the U.S., actually. And it was actually quite surprising to me how even as a consumer, the experience just seemed to be like… It was a bit like going back into the Dark Ages in certain states that I went to. You know, from not being able to use chip and pin to pay for things with my credit card. You know, it was the first time I've been asked to sign something in three years. Is this really the US? It was fascinating for me to talk to professionals in the U.S. because there was still a real thirst for what can we do to sustain this, because we have taken our foot off the gas and we don't know where we're going. Now, if I compare that to mainland Africa, there is a significant difference in the desire to learn in those countries. These are actually very well-educated people who are hungry for knowledge. And when you give them that knowledge, they do something with it. They're so excited. Now, Eastern Europe is very, very similar. I do wuite a lot of work in Hungary, the Czech Republic, these are countries that, again, incredibly well educated, but their countries have experienced hardship far more recently than Western economies. And because of that, when you give them something, they fly. And, you know, I believe – strongly believe – that what I've seen over the last two to three years, if the West doesn't get its head out of the sand and wake up and smell the coffee, they will be overtaken by these so-called less developed economies who they want to progress. Whereas I think if we if we don't get rid of this arrogance, then I think we're going to we're going to have a problem.

Steve:
Well, I think actually your supposition is so interesting, especially from more of the so-called developed perspective. But it makes me think of a couple of things. You said this is about, you know, simplifying things. And really, when we're customer focused, we are going back to a time where the shopkeeper or the you know, the the people when the economy was more local, everybody knew their customers and it was very easy to customize for things. And then we went totally to mass market. And now we're trying to bring some of that back. And then also just the need for CX people to be curious about what's going on. So I know you have some great stories about some of the more innovative ways people are doing CX around the world. Could you share just a couple of those anecdotes that you have?

Ian:
So it is fascinating to see how people are trying to adapt and move things in the right direction. I do a lot of work in the Middle East, specifically in Dubai. And what's fascinating about that region is that I think they recognize that people get very hung up on language and we need to change the language to be suitable to that the environment that we work in. And in Dubai, they are very much talking about happiness. What they want to create is an environment where employees, consumers, they're happy. And so there is a lot of activity that is trying to create a community that focuses on people not just within companies, but within societies. So it's a much more holistic approach to life in general, which we don't see in other parts of the world. That being said, despite what I've just said about the U.S. recognizing that, I may well have switched off the majority of people listening to the podcast.

Steve:
No, I… believe me, I it drives me crazy when I go to sign something with the chip-pin too.

Ian:
But what's interesting is that the U.S. is still it's what I call the land of extremes. You know, you have the very, very best examples of what it means to be customer centric. But regrettably, you have the very, very worst examples of what happens if you're not. I tell a lot of people about Jeff Bezos. Many people try to report bad things about Amazon. But much of that is not true. I think Amazon ultimately underpinned by its focus on customer centric leadership, it is remarkable in what they achieved. And I will always tell people about the empty chair. Jeff Bezos, his empty chair at his table to act as a trigger to get employees to think and act in the interests of the customer. Now, I told one of my clients, a bank in Hungary about this, and they… they love that. And so they actually created their own empty chair. And every single meeting room across the bank, in the head office and all their branches has a customer chair. When you see that chair, it's reminding you: have you just made a decision thinking and acting in the interests of the customer? You know, it costs nothing to do this, but it's little things like this that make the difference. And you know, what I love about all of these things is that they're not difficult, you know, and to your point, they're not complicated. You know, when too many organizations are so radically overcomplicating this, you know, I will always describe customer experience as a science, but it's not rocket science. You need to understand what the science is. But then it's the case that just having the right mindset to put the competencies in place.

Steve:
What about sort of the expectations of customers around the world? Are they are they different?

Ian:
Yes, they do differ. Again, I haven't spoken about the Far East or even countries like Australia and New Zealand. Culture is a hugely significant thing for us to understand. Because human beings, yes, we're made of the same stuff. But culturally, we don't always have the same expectations. Expectation in the Middle East is through the roof. You know, you you must really work hard to set expectations and manage expectations, because if you let someone down in the Middle East, you are going to know about it. But when you go to the Far East, there is a far more submissive behavior. So they won't tell you, they just might not come back again. And so it's very difficult to gauge how customers are reacting. There's one thing I want to wrap this up with. Just one other interesting anecdote. Denmark, a country in northern Europe, the people will have heard of, obviously. People in Denmark culturally do not recommend. Okay. Recommendation is just not what the Danes do. They can love you, but that doesn't mean they're going to recommend you. And so Net Promoter Score in Denmark doesn't work. But I work with a lot of multinational organizations who have a federated model to capturing research.

Steve:
Yup.

Ian:
And so they demand that their division in Denmark has to use NPS. It just doesn't make any sense. One of my mantras I have a number of mantras is that unfortunately the most important underlying principle of customer experience is still misunderstood. And I know you and your colleagues will understand this perfectly, but the need to understand empathy has always been the most important underlying principle. And in the current environment, it's even more important than it ever was. And companies that understand that empathy builds advocacy, advocacy leads to loyalty, and loyalty delivers growth, they're the ones, again, that will survive sustainably in the long term.

Steve:
You've talked a lot about the differences, but what are what are some of the universal and maybe that's where you're going there with empathy. But what are some of the other kind of universal things that you do see across markets?

Ian:
So the similarities without question, what we have seen change over the last 10 years is the language. Whilst they may not be doing it, everyone is talking about it, which is a which is a good thing. You know, when I was first responsible for customer experience, my board of directors didn't even know what it was, you know, in customer experience, wasn't even a term that people understood and that that's only 2005. You know what's great now is that it doesn't matter where you go in the world, businesses know what, or they think they know what customer experience is. And it's even down to something as small as the CX acronym. The other common commonality around the world is digital, which again, won't surprise you to hear me say that the world is obsessed with digital. And it doesn't matter where you go, everyone has a digital strategy. Regrettably, not everyone has a customer experience strategy, but everyone has a digital strategy. And so there is without question, a common need in all industries where ever you are in the world to understand how to fuze those two things together. Now, are they fuzing those two things together? No. Far too many organizations are still adopting digital technology in complete isolation of the customer journey. And that is only being amplified right now because they're seeing it as the answer to everything? Regrettably, we know it isn't. But actually, what is happening is that the adoption of technology is having the adverse effects that it should do. It's making experiences worse. The thing that is not common but that needs to be is if organizations are going to ultimately create a sustainable, customer centric organization, they will need to understand that they can only do so with people. And the future of CX is to remind businesses around the world that the thing that customers are most likely to remember about their experience with them is the way that people made them feel. And in the current environment where businesses are slashing people left, right and center, unemployment is going to skyrocket. I think it is a yes, it is a humanitarian crisis, but it's a business crisis because technology is critical for customer experience, but it cannot replace that human interaction. And if we eliminate human interaction altogether, we will be eliminating that very thing that defines the culture of a company. And that, as I say, will lead to customers remembering their experience for the right reason and coming back to you time and time again.

Steve:
All right. My guest on the podcast this week is Ian Golding. He's a freelance customer experience consultant and well-known blogger, speaker, author, leader of CXPA, and we've had a fascinating conversation. But Ian, we've reached that part of the podcast where I ask all of our guests to give their best take home value tip to the CX pros out there. And this is designed to give them something to take back to their profession today or tomorrow and keep improving what they're doing for their customers, employees and their companies.

Ian:
Fantastic. So I have hugely enjoyed the conversation as well. And I'm going to be very cheeky because I'm British and I'm going to give two tips. [Laughing]

Steve:
All right. You can.

Ian:
They're closely connected. The first tip for me is my philosophy with customer experience is that what we mustn't do is spend too much time theorizing. Business leaders know what customer experience is. They know the theory. What they don't know is the practical application. And so what our profession needs to do far more of is educating the need for structure and rigor in making the management of customer experience intentional. And so every customer experience professional needs to ask themselves, does my organization have a framework in place to manage the experience? Too many are still doing customer experience by accident. Is the way I describe it. And they're relying on the goodwill of people, and ad hoc activity. We need a framework to clearly manage the priority so you can many manage and measure your CX maturity over time. And then the second quick tip is, having spent 17 years on the inside doing this, customer experience is a very lonely profession. And, you know, even now, the fact that it's recognized as a profession at all is a very good thing. But most professionals are still working in an environment where they're likely to be the only person in the organization that gets it. And so my tip to every CX pro is the community of CX professionals is so important. It is a… It's genuinely a wonderful community. It is a community of people all around the world who will share, support, guide, give things… If you are not active in a community… this is not about spending money. It's not about even joining the CXPA, but it's about networking with other CX professionals. Because they will do. They'd love to talk to you. You are not alone. There are people out there who will reassure you that you are not going crazy. You're absolutely right. And they are there to counsel you. So don't struggle. Reach out and people will support you.

Steve:
Ian, I'm really glad I gave you two tips because I love both of them. But the second one in particular is exactly how I like to wrap up our show. And if people would like to continue the conversation, can you just tell them how to get a hold of you? Website, LinkedIn?

Ian:
It's very easy. As I said at the beginning, I'm quite irritating. So it's easy to find me. I'm on LinkedIn and I post quite a lot of things on LinkedIn, again, to support the profession. And I've also written a book. So if anyone likes the sound of what I ramble on about, they are most welcome to to read my book. And it's all about the practical application of this stuff. By all means, if I can help you in any way, reach out to them.

Steve:
That's awesome. I really enjoyed our conversation. It brought back a lot of memories for me and a really good perspective on things, not just in terms of where we've been, but where we're going, which you said is kind of back to where we were. So…

Ian:
Absolutely.

Steve:
…let's keep it simple. Let's keep it from the heart and, you know, keep doing the things that are right for the customer and the employees and bring a little more humanity to this world.

Ian:
Great.

Steve:
Ian Golding is a renowned blogger, customer experience consultant, speaker, author and one of the founders and real leaders in our industry. He reminds us that this is a great time to be a customer experience professional. And if you want to talk about anything else you heard on the podcast or about how Walker can help your business customer experience, feel free to email me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com. And be sure to check out our website, cxleaderpodcast.com. Subscribe to the show and find all previous episodes. Our podcasts are organized by the series that we run, and we have a contact information in place for you to give us feedback. Tell us how we're doing. Or give us some ideas for some future podcasts. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, we're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for listening and we will see you again next time.

Automatically convert your audio files to text with Sonix. Sonix is the best online, automated transcription service.

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

Sonix has the world's best audio transcription platform with features focused on collaboration. Quickly and accurately convert your audio to text with Sonix. Manual audio transcription is tedious and expensive. Sometimes you don't have super fancy audio recording equipment around; here's how you can record better audio on your phone. Create and share better audio content with Sonix. Are you a radio station? Better transcribe your radio shows with Sonix. Sonix takes transcription to a whole new level. Automated transcription is much more accurate if you upload high quality audio. Here's how to capture high quality audio.

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

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 audio to text, try Sonix today.

Tags: