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The Non-customer-facing Employee

Release Date: October 1, 2019

It’s easy explaining how front-line employees directly influence the customer’s experience. But it’s more difficult for non-customer-facing to see how their contributions impact CX. Steve welcomes Maureen Cook, customer experience specialist at Ciena, to discuss the ways they show ALL their employees how they affect customer experience.

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Steve:
With a solid CX program, your client facing employees should understand their impact on customer experience. But how do you convey the importance of CX to employees that don't interact directly with your customers?

Maureen:
When we looked at the roles of the people, people who were, as you said in the beginning, in sales and service, etc., they scored very highly. But the ones that were scoring lower were people that were not customer facing. So we thought, what do we do to make them feel more connected to our customers, even though they're not going to be talking to them or seeing them on a regular basis.

Steve:
Helping non customer facing employees understand their impact on the customer experience on this episode of the CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experienced 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, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, the host of 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.

Steve:
There are those in your company who understand how their roles impact CX: sales, customer support reps, front-line employees – they all should appreciate how their actions affect the way customers or prospects perceive or experience your company. But the inverse could be said about employees that have no direct contact or relationship with your customers. It's sometimes difficult for them to recognize how their work fits into the overall CX program. My guest today has developed a way to help those employees understand their contributions to customer experience. Maureen Cook is the customer experience specialist at Ciena, a networking systems services and software company. Maureen, thank you for being on the CX Leader Podcast today.

Maureen:
It's my pleasure to join you.

Steve:
You know, I got a little bit of a preview of some of the things that you've been doing to help your non customer facing employees understand their importance and impact on CX and I think this is something all of our listeners could benefit from. But before we get into some of your best practices, why don't you tell us just a little bit more about yourself; how you became a CX professional.

Maureen:
Okay. I've been working, started working originally in customer satisfaction and customer loyalty and then about eight years ago really got interested in the direction toward customer experience. Within our organization, we formed a team of about five people back in 2012 to focus on the customer experience from a strategy perspective, communication, education, and of course, voice of the customer. Most of my role is around voice of the customer, so designing and implementing various surveys and interviews and then doing the analysis and drawing the insights from that.

Steve:
So you come more from a research background, would that be safe to say?

Maureen:
Not, not specifically. I've got an MBA and I have… my background is more like marketing, but we're… this is really, you know, focused on voice of the… voice of the customer and in a B2B environment. We only sell to other businesses.

Steve:
And tell us just a little bit more about Ciena.

Maureen:
Sure. We are about 6000 employees globally, so we have employees all over the world. Our headquarters is in Hanover, Maryland. We have, of those 6000 employees, 2,700 of them are indeed people so it's a lot of those are some of the people I'm going to talk about in this conversation – who aren't directly interfacing with customers. We have over 2000 patents. We… our customers are a lot of the large service providers. So if you think of North America like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, CenturyLink – those type of companies. So we sell them the equipment and the software that they provide the services to the end users. We also have a number of enterprise customers. So if you think of large organizations like universities and banks and healthcare facilities where they have their own network for voice and data. So that's kind of a different application. But another part of our business.

Steve:
And how long have you been with Ciena?

Maureen:
Lots of years. [Laughing]

Steve:
Lots of years.

Maureen:
So Ciena has been in business since 1992. They were a startup then. And but they've… they've acquired some other businesses and I was part of one of those acquired businesses, so, oh, the company is about 25 years – I've been almost 35 years with the two combined companies.

Steve:
And you said that you were part of the group that got this customer experience thing going in 2012.

Maureen:
Correct.

Steve:
Is that sort of where you consider this the start of your current approach to customer experience at Ciena?

Maureen:
Yes, I would say 2011, 2012. The team had done… so some of our our VP's were very interested in the whole concept of customer experience as opposed to just looking at customer satisfaction. So second half of 2011, we did a lot of research, you know, attended some conferences trying to understand better the methodology and the approach. And then in 2012, we kind of launched the program officially.

Steve:
And when did the interest in the non customer facing employees, was that something that started out right from the get go or is that something that sort of evolved as you went on the journey?

Maureen:
No, this actually evolved. It was the end of 2000… well, the middle of 2017… , yeah, '17. We had done… we had done some internal webinars talking about our program and about some of the voice of the customer feedback, and then we asked two or three questions saying, you know, to get feedback on the value of that session. And one of the questions we said was, "do you feel empowered to deliver exceptional experiences to our customers?" And when we look through the results of those questions, that particular question, it was scored lower than the others. And it also when we dug deeper, we found when we looked at the roles of the people, people who were, as you said in the beginning, in sales and service, et cetera, they scored very highly. But the ones that were scoring lower, that was even like really swinging the number down were people that were not customer facing. So we thought, what do we do to make them feel more connected to our customers, even though they're not going to be talking to them or seeing them on a regular basis?

Steve:
Yeah, that's great. That's a really great story about how you use your data to drive culture and drive the kind of change you want to be customer focused. So what was the next step after you made this revelation?

Maureen:
So the next thing we did was step back a little bit. As I said, we… we had identified sort of certain parts of the organization and we went and sat down and talked to the directors of those teams to try and understand why do they think… why do these employees feel disconnected? And they sat down and talked with their employees. And so we came back with really, you know, that obviously that basic comment, just saying that I don't deal directly with customers so how can I impact it? They felt that they didn't hear enough and understand enough about customer feedback and they wanted more context around the theory around customer experience. So using that information, we then, you know, work together to figure out, so what can we do to address those needs or those concerns?

Steve:
And then… I assume then some sort of training program or exercise evolved from that?

Maureen:
Yes. so what we developed working with our learning team and with some of the marketing team is we developed a workshop, which was a face-to-face workshop. It went for between seven and eight hours, depending on the location that really was going to provide them some of that information that they were missing. But we wanted to make it interactive and we wanted it to be like a game, sort of. These workshops generally… generally had between 20 and 30 people in them and we broke them out into groups of five or six, you know, depending on the number. And we created a kit for each of those groups. That was hands on. It was an interactive on the on the computer. The main part was like it looked like a puzzle with just had like two pieces in it, but like a jigsaw puzzle. And that was the customer journey map. And then we had a whole lot of collateral material that we used as we walked through the various steps of the, of the, of the workshops so that they got to have a hands-on interaction and they got to… we mixed teams so that they had people from different parts of the organization so that they were learning more about what other teams do.

Steve:
Now, was this something that people certified on after they went through the workshop? Was this sort of a… a full on commitment to get everybody or was it more selective?

Maureen:
No, it was… it was… it wasn't a certification. We… we ended up doing about 30 sessions and we reached out to, I think about 500 to 700 different people that participated. It was done globally. We had sessions in Canada and the U.S., in South America, the U.K., and two sessions actually in India. We selected the locations based on where we had the biggest populations of people who were not customer facing, so to try and get as many people as we could. They were… they didn't have to participate. They were encouraged to part… to participate. And… I mean, at the end, I can talk about sort of where we've taken it after that, but you know 30 workshops was… we did that throughout the fourth quarter of 2017 and 2018.

Steve:
What kind of impact did you see after you went through this workshop and you got five or seven hundred people experiencing this?

Maureen:
You saw a lot more interest and we saw like more interest in our website, like the Ciena customer experience page: I'm talking about the internal page. Definitely a lot more questions coming to our team, like requests to present at staff calls or at team meetings when they were, you know, with the latest information from the voice of the customers, so when in the past we were doing more of… we would approach them and say, "hey, do you want us to present… to present to your team?" Now, we had a lot more of them coming to us. I think the other point, we did a little post survey again, and many of the people when they first went in were a bit skeptical about this – OK, I'm going to take it, but I'm not really going to learn anything – and 98 percent of the people who participated said they would recommend it to a colleague. So it was really, you know, people took it seriously and they and they got value out of it. And they realized how they may not talk to customers, but they talk to the people who talk to customers. And so even though they're not directly interfacing, they're part of that chain. And if they slow things down or if they don't… aren't responsive or proactive, it is going to affect the end customer. So it was very interesting when you watch some of the people in the sessions kind of "a-ha" moments like, "wow, I never really realized that what I'm doing here had such an impact on that thing that's three steps away from me." So it was really… I think that's what they got out of it a lot was I do understand a lot better now that I have an impact.

Steve:
My guest on the podcast this week is Maureen Cook, who is the customer experience specialist at Ciena, a networking systems services and software company. And Maureen and her team and her colleagues have developed a really creative way to engage the non customer facing employees in the broader CX initiatives. And we're having a great conversation. Maureen and her colleagues designed a puzzle, a board game, an interactive exercise that really engaged these folks into how their jobs could impact the customer experience. I want to come back to some I picked up on. You said earlier that a lot of the people who you were targeting were R&D. Was there a specific objective around that?

Maureen:
Well, we didn't want the discussion to be focused… to get too technical, because that's what they're very technical, obviously, hardware, software designers. We wanted them to… We wanted them to get the, the impact around the customer, and one of the big things that we had some personas that we've created in another exercise over the course of several years. But we had them laminated and big cards and we had them on stands on the table because many times the response we would get was, "well, we deal with businesses. You know, there's not all that emotional thing about customer experience." And the message we wanted to get across is businesses are made up of people. So they… they still have emotions and when we created the personas, we had done work with marketing and with some of the sales people to identify some, like, I think we have nine key roles that are involved in the purchase decision because these are very big purchases, right?

Steve:
Yes.

Maureen:
Millions of dollars, multi… multimillions of dollars many times. And we… so we had created information about, you know what keep but not how were they measured, what are their expectations based on the role. But then what we did with these personas is we put pictures on them and we created this – we just made up – but we created like profiles around their personal life. So to, to make the point that things that are happening in your personal life are going to have an impact on your decision making and how you, how your experiences. So, for example, one of them, we said the guy's wife just had twins. So he's not sleeping very much, you know, so he might be irritable sometimes. And… so to try and really get that point across that even though we're B2B businesses are made of people and you really want to look them in the face and think of them as people and understand that they have emotions and they have, you know, their experience is going to be impacted by many things. And that, I think was another "a-ha" moment for many of the people when they really started thinking about that personal side affecting the professional side.

Steve:
So you mentioned the personas – can you just take us through a little bit more of the workings of the interactive exercise and how the people in the workshop went through that process?

Maureen:
Sure. So we started with they, as I said, we broke them into groups. And on each table there was a puzzle which had like nine pieces in it, which each piece was a part of the roadmap, part of the… part of the customer journey related to the purchase decision. So there were nine blocks and there was information describing them and explaining what goes on in each one. So we started off… one of the things that, that the people said they wanted more of was information around just what's happening in the industry, what's happening with our competitors, with our customers in terms of the changes. So we did a little bit of intro around that. Then we introduced the personas and said, you know, these are our customers and I want you to keep them in front of you. And it gets quite crowded on this table when you've got nine of these in little stands. So we talked about that whole… that the stuff I just said around personas. Then we introduced some cards like almost like a card deck that had the various different roles that impact each of those nine parts of the customer journey. And we asked people to try and map them against, you know, who fits in what section. But what they didn't realize is that we had… so let's just say we took the role of a supply manager… supplier manager. Well, we had more than one card that said supplier manager because it impacts more than one part of the journey. So doing that made them realize also how big… they impact many different things, not just one spot. Then we introduced them to some roadblocks and then we had actual customer quotes and we asked them to say, OK, where… how would you personally or you and your organization… which one… which of these roadblocks might have something that you could impact and then how would you address that? And it got them talking to each other and sometimes arguing with each other about. "No, no. That's my role." "No, no, that's my role." But it did… it really brought them, made them think of the whole customer journey and how many steps there are in it and how many people impact or many organizations impact each step of the way. And then at the end we had them, which we didn't… we didn't force them to do it in the class, but we gave them a couple of little other minor, can't remember what I'd call them – thought sheets where they, you know… to go back to your desk and think about: pick one of those roadblocks we discussed today and, and talk with your team about it. And how could you as a team, how could the company, how could your team or how could you individually have some impact on improving those roadblocks? So it gave them kind of a link back to their workplace.

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? E-mail the CX podcast at podcast@walkerinfo.com. We'd love to hear your feedback on how we're doing. That's podcast@walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
So you did all these workshops, I guess it been now about a year ago.

Maureen:
We completed them at the end of 2018. So we kind of had, had covered the biggest mass of people that we wanted and of course, face to face and traveling. You know, there's expenses related to that.

Steve:
Yeah.

Maureen:
So then what we did, what we did in the fourth… well, I guess started in the third quarter, but introduced in the fourth quarter was to try to develop an online version.

Steve:
OK.

Maureen:
So it's not exact… it's not exactly the same. It's more like a board game where it's interactive, you know, with like animated people on there can see with the right word is. But you shake a dice and you move forward and, and then you have the roadblocks that pop up and you, and you bring up customer quote. So we integrated the concepts but onto an online version that would take… it could depending on how, you know, intensely you go into it, it could take between 45 minutes, two hours. And it's… it's optional. It's not a required one. But people have been using it throughout 2019.

Steve:
Yeah, but it's available to all employees?

Maureen:
It's available to all employees and we, and we're encouraging it as part of our on-boarding process for new employees. So getting them right, right away as soon as they join the company to be… we have a specific module around customer experience, which is just, you know, a 10 minute or 15 minute like video and then, you know, introducing them to the game if they're interested in it, to get them into the mindset of the ways Ciena is thinking about customer experience.

Steve:
And what's next for the program? Where do you see this thing going over the next couple of years?

Maureen:
Actually, it's interesting you ask me that because we just had a request for two more of the, of the face to face sessions. So we probably will do a few more face to face. We are updating the material with the current voice of the customer feedback as we get, as we get new material. And then we're going to re-evaluate at the end of this year how, what the uptake was on the two thousand… on the online one and see if we need to do any tweaking with that.

Steve:
We ll, Maureen Cook, thank you very much for being a guest on the podcast. And thank you for sharing the story and what you've done at Ciena. It's that time of the podcast where we ask you for your best tip and take home value for our listeners. What can they learn from you and from what you've done at Ciena that they could apply at their organization to enhance their CX program?

Maureen:
So I think the take home tip from this for me was really encouraging the… finding ways to get people who are in different roles to interact around customer experience. And it doesn't have to be as… elaborate as what we've done here. But the part of mixing the people together as opposed to only presenting to like one organization at a time, there was a lot of learning from the fact that we had… and we did have some customer facing people in some of those call sessions as well, but that we had just from each other that they had never really realized before. And I think that enhanced the value of the session for them and the learning overall.

Steve:
Maureen Cook is the customer experience specialists at Ciena, a networking systems services and software company. And Maureen has shared a little bit about their story and a very unique way to engage non customer facing employees in the CX process. Maureen, if any of our listeners would like to connect with you, are you out there on LinkedIn?

Maureen:
I am on there and my pleasure if anyone wants to connect with me.

Steve:
Well, thank you again, Maureen. Thanks for being on the CX Leader Podcast.

Maureen:
My pleasure.

Steve:
If you want to talk about anything you heard on the episode or about how Walker could help your business customer experience, you can contact me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com or call me here in the U.S. at +1-317-843-8890. Don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to hear from you and talk to you more. 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 on our own YouTube channel as well. Simply go to walkerinfo.tv to listen. Thank you for listening to the CX podcast which is a production of Walker. We are an experienced management consulting firm that can help you make customer experience your biggest competitive advantage. And if you haven't heard already we're the 2019 Qualtrics CX Partner of the Year, find out more about us and everything at walkerinfo.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we will see you again next time.

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