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

Virtual Workshops

Release Date: March 31, 2020 • Episode #110

“Social distancing” has become the term saturating the news and social media. Experts all agree that the best way to fight the spread of the coronavirus is to keep distance from others, when possible, and practice some basic hygiene, like washing our hands. That makes things a bit difficult for CX professionals who are used to leading exercises like journey mapping and other workshops that require people to collaborate in the same space. Host Steve Walker and guest Kristina Kittle, vice president of advisory services, discuss ways CX leaders can move to virtual workshop experiences.

Transcript

CX Leader Podcast – "Virtual Workshops" transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

CX Leader Podcast – "Virtual Workshops" 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:
CX professionals love workshops, getting employees together to discuss ways to improve customers' experience. So what do you do when you can't meet in person?

Kristina:
The state of our global pandemic has really changed a lot for us. It's changed how we think about doing and in conducting workshops with our clients.

Steve:
Creating collaborative environments in a time of social distancing, 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 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. Like millions around the world, we at The CX Leader Podcast are affected by the current situation and we are observing our local stay-at-home order. For the first time, we're not in our studio, but instead we're recording the podcast in completely separate locations, so you may notice a difference in the sound quality today. Social distancing has become the term saturating in the news, and social media. Experts all agree that the best way to fight the spread of the Corona virus is to keep distance from others when possible, and practice, some basic hygiene like washing our hands. That makes things a little bit difficult for CX professionals who are used to leading exercises like journey mapping and other workshops that require people to collaborate in the same space. Today, I'm pleased to welcome back to the podcast my friend and colleague Kristina Kittle just recently promoted to vice president of advisory services here at walker. And she's going to share some of the interesting insights in converting what is normally an on-site activity into an online workshop. Kristina, congratulations on your promotion and welcome back to The CX Leader Podcast.

Kristina:
Thank you. It's great to be here.

Steve:
Well, you've actually been really involved in our innovation around this. The world's a little different than it was two weeks ago today. And as somebody who spends an awful lot of their time out on-site with clients and working with CX leaders to make sure that their customer experiences are moving forward, you've had to adapt, haven't you?

Kristina:
Yeah, absolutely. The last couple of weeks has been kind of wild.

Steve:
But it's surprisingly, I mean, I think we're all fortunate that we're in this business. There actually are some pretty effective ways that we can leverage technology and keep things moving. Right.

Kristina:
Absolutely.

Steve:
What sort of been the shift that you've seen here, not only a Walker, but just sort of across the CX industry in terms of doing things virtually. You know, obviously we've got this coronavirus, but this may change things the way they go forward in the future, right?

Kristina:
Yeah, absolutely. We've been forced to be very innovative in the last few weeks. You know, the state of our global pandemic has really changed a lot for us: for us at Walker and it's changed how we think about doing and conducting workshops with our clients. You know, obviously, social distancing and travel restrictions has really temporarily caused us to lose our ability to meet in group settings and a lot of what we do with our clients, and I'm sure you know, what our listeners who may be CX practitioners in their businesses are doing, is facilitating cross-functional workshops around a lot of different things. Maybe that's mapping the end-to-end experience, ideating to improve experiences, or, you know, action planning around specific known pain points. But, you know, I think we can all agree that these sessions are extremely impactful when we can meet face-to-face without distractions and collaborate together. But, you know, kind of tying back to your question, I think the good news is that we can still do that great work and we definitely should be. You know, now is definitely not the time to put our customer focused initiatives on the backburner. I think, you know, it's more important now than ever to be responding to our customers concerns. You know, delaying that work, especially right now, you know, I think could be very detrimental to an organization. You know, I know that that might sound cliche, but I mean, think about it. Look at the companies who have been forced to respond to enormous changes in the last few weeks. I think we've all seen examples in the news, or maybe in our personal lives where companies have been, you know, proactive and willing to be flexible versus those who have been slow to respond or even difficult to deal with. So, you know, I digress a bit with that. But the important takeaway there is that all of this work can be done virtually using collaborative digital platforms. And I'm really excited to talk about that.

Steve:
Yeah, just based on your experience and maybe some of that of your colleagues here, Walker. Are you seeing some people that want to try to go forward and explore these new approaches?

Kristina:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, the group that I'm part of at Walker, Advisory Services, you like you mentioned at the beginning, that's much of what we do is meeting face to face in workshops and most of our clients are saying, hey, look, let's move forward and figure out a way to to pivot and do this virtually. And so far we've had really great success.

Steve:
I know, you've been right at the forefront of this for us. So why don't you describe for folks sort of how you think about the different ways that you can conduct a workshop that ordinarily would have been done in person, but with leveraging tools like online video and other types of collaborative efforts?

Kristina:
Yeah, that's that's a really good question. And honestly, something that I've had to do some research on myself as well. But, what we found is that there's really three ways that you can facilitate a digital workshop. So the first is a virtual facilitation where the participants are gathered at the same time, but they're in different places, much like what we're doing right now, Steve: you're facilitating this spiritual discussion, but we're not in the same room together. The second way to conduct a digital workshop is through what we call asynchronous facilitation. And that's where your participants collaborate or participate at different times and from different places. So instead of gathering as a group at the same time, you allow people to participate and collaborate on their own time, which is extremely easy when you have a digital platform that supports that, which I know we're going to talk about here in a minute. And then the last way in which you can conduct a digital workshop is face to face, which might sound funny to bring up here, but it's something to consider in the future for all of us. You know, once we can gather as groups, again, this type of workshop, we'd still meet face to face, but use a digital platform to collaborate together in the same room. So for now, you know, we're really focusing on the combination of a virtual and asynchronous facilitation.

Steve:
And so you sort of mentioned but necessity is the mother of invention. And as we've talked a lot internally, one of the ways they can stay positive through this is look at all the ways that we innovate and the new solutions that are derived out of these situations. But talk about some of the tools and platforms that you guys have uncovered. I have to tell you, I am wowing my friends and family with my Zoom abilities. I mean, they all think like on the highest tech guy ever out there just because we had to get on Zoom so fast. And then I also know that you guys have found some other tools out there. So just explain some of the ways we're using it.

Kristina:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So there are really two platforms we're currently using for these virtual digital workshops. The first, which you already mentioned is Zoom, which most people have heard of. If they haven't heard about it before the past few weeks, they definitely have now. But the outside of its core features and functionalities of video and audio conferencing, you know, it also has the ability to do things like assigning people to break out rooms, conducts live polling, have private and public chats, and a lot more. It's really a great platform to connect people all around the world. I've been doing it myself the last couple of weeks, been doing trivia with friends and family Zoom. So it's a lot of fun to see people using it and becoming more comfortable with it. The other platform that we use for virtual digital workshops is called Mural. Now Mural is a digital workspace for visual collaboration. You can use it on any device. So if you use it on your laptop, use it on your cellphone. But essentially, you can create online whiteboards, you can create virtual sticky notes for ideation, you can conduct voting, and a lot of other features. And one of the things I like most about Mural is that they really understand the important role of being the facilitator. So they offer things like setting timers, summoning participants to follow your screen and other tools that that really aid the facilitator in taking charge of the group. And that's important since you're not face to face in the same room. So we've recently at Walker moved over to the mural platform for these types of workshops. And honestly, it's been going really great so far. You know, we've used it for some action planning workshops. We've used it for Journey Mapping Workshop. And in all cases, the clients are really impressed with the technology and how smooth it is. It's definitely something I would consider our listeners checking out.

Steve:
So we've bought licenses for mural. I mean, our clients don't need the licenses to participate.

Kristina:
That's right. Yup.

Steve:
Sort of like Zoom, too. You, I mean, you need a license to do all the tricky stuff and set up your own meetings. But if you're meeting with somebody that already has a Zoom license, it's easy to get on.

Kristina:
Yeah, absolutely.

Steve:
All right, so you're probably as much of an expert in the last two weeks at this as anybody on Earth. So what are some of the tips you've come up with for moving to a digital version of what we have always thought we needed to be doing first?

Kristina:
So, you know, I think this is where we can really all learn from each other. And I hope that our listeners can respond. And I'd love to hear what other people are doing. But, you know, this will definitely evolve as we do more virtual workshops. But so far, we found really five critical things to planning and executing good virtual workshops. So the first is that you must rework the pacing and scheduling. The same schedule that you would use in an in-person workshop is definitely not going to work in a virtual setting. For example, most of the journey mapping workshops that I conduct are half to full day on site meetings. No pun intended, but it's virtually impossible to hold a group's attention for that long in a virtual setting. So what we've done instead is break up the schedule across multiple days using shorter sessions. There will be natural breaking points and whatever you're planning. So use that as an opportunity to break for the day and maybe regroup the next day. The second is to focus on really making it interactive, so, you know, talking at people for hours on end when you're face to face is no fun for anyone. Right? And it's even worse if you're not face to face with those people. So find ways to include collaboration in your workshops. You're trying to work in partner work or group work. Use your digital platform for participants to collaborate together. If you don't do this, I can almost guarantee you your participants will be on mute, multi-tasking, doing other things. The third tip, which we're doing right now I wish everyone could see us is to encourage cameras to be on. You know, people around the world are becoming more and more comfortable connecting over a video conference. And it's really a great way to simulate that face to face interaction and could really help the facilitator gauge the participation level and the engagement of the group. One small tip is just to make sure to tell your participants in advance, hey, this is going to be a cameras-on activity, so they're not surprised when they join the session. The fourth tip is all about communication. So when you're planning a, you know, a multi-day virtual workshop, your communication around the whole process and what to expect each day is absolutely critical. You know, we've found it to be really impactful to use short audio-video clips for the facilitator each day. I'm kind of explaining what to expect each day. So, for example, I have a five day virtual journey mapping workshop I'm currently planning. What we've done is we've recorded a series of five one-minute videos which are going to be delivered each day via email to the workshop participants. It's just a really simple way to stay in front of them and ensure they understand what to expect each day. And then the last tip might seem silly, but I definitely think it's impactful. So let me ask you this, Steve: have you ever sat in the exit row on an airplane?

Steve:
Every chance I get.

Kristina:
There you go. Great. And do you remember what the flight attendant asked you before taking off?

Steve:
In case of an emergency, that I was prepared and capable of being of assistance to her or him and I needed to reply with a verbal "Yes."

Kristina:
Absolutely. So that's exactly what I was looking for. So I think there's something to be said for opting in or verbally giving your word for something. Right? So I would encourage our listeners to do just that when they're planning virtual workshops. Before you kick things off, go around with all of your participants and ask them to verbally have opt in or agreed to engaging and participating throughout the process. You can make a joke about it, kind of use the airplane reference or something else that you might think of. But, you know, I think it gives the participants a level of accountability and responsibility throughout the process.

Steve:
That is a fantastic tip. And we didn't rehearse that either because I did see it in our kind of our interview notes. But I had no idea where you were going with that. But that's a great one. And, you know, it's too easy to kind of multitask and check it out. And that really will not have a positive impact. So I love that way that when you get kind of a verbal commitment from somebody, it's their word is their bond. So I love it. That is great facilitation. Well, you know, we've sort of alluded to it and talked about it, but the world will probably never quite be the same. But do you see this extending beyond the present situation? I mean, do you think we'll be using more of these to substitute for an expensive and hard to manage in-person meetings?

Kristina:
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'll never downplay the value of being face-to-face. I mean, I think certain situations may be better suited for that. But I also think there's situations where virtual can work just as well, if not better. For example, you know, if you have a dispersed team that cannot assemble in a single location, you know virtual might be a great alternative. Or, you know, if your company has travel restrictions, you're related to the current health crisis or otherwise. You know, virtual again, might be a great way to keep the work moving. Or, you know, let's be honest here, you know schedules are difficult. Getting a cross-functional group of people in this in the same room at the same time can be difficult. And so looking at virtual options to get that work completed more quickly is a great alternative.

Steve:
Well, Kristina, this has been really enlightening and I really appreciate you jumping on with all the other things you've been doing the last couple weeks to be a guest on the podcast. I just think this is so essential for our listeners at these difficult times. So if I'm a CX pro and you know, I've been kind of in the last couple weeks trying to figure out how I'm going to get doing some stuff. And you've given me some ideas about how I might be able to re-energize my program, leveraging some technology. What's your go-to tip? What should they do, like, first thing to get something going?

Kristina:
Yeah. So first off, I would say, you know, know that there are several platforms out there in the marketplace with even free trials. You know, try them out and don't sweat a financial obligation right away. Even Mural has free trials. So go online and check that out. But lastly, you know, I would encourage everyone to know that it's OK not to be perfect. And I'll admit, I struggle with that myself and I really struggled with it over the last few weeks. But the reality is, you know, customers and employees will understand the experience might be a little clunky at times. Right? Like connecting people around the world to be a technology. You always run the risk of connectivity issues or technical issues. You know, there are comedic YouTube videos out there with millions of views on this exact topic. But the important thing is to be adopted and be nimble and just continue to refine your approach as you do it more. That's exactly what we're doing.

Steve:
Christina, thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast this week. If any of our listeners would want to try to connect with you to continue the conversation, can you tell them how they might be able to find you?

Kristina:
Yeah, absolutely. You can feel free to email me at kkittel@walkerinfo.com or you are free to connect with me on LinkedIn.

Steve:
Kristina Kittle is a vice president of advisory services here at Walker and has really been instrumental in our response to the coronavirus pandemic. In terms of coming up with creative and innovative ways for making sure that we keep focused on our customers, which is what all of our CX pros need to be doing during these difficult times. If you want to talk about anything you heard on this podcast or about how Walker can help your business's customer experience, feel free to email me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com. Remember to visit our website: cxleaderpodcast.com to subscribe to the show and find all of our previous more than 100 episodes and also the contact information so you can let us know how we're doing or suggestions for future podcasts. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, we're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. You can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thanks for being here and thanks for listening and we'll see you again next time.

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 2020—it’s fast, easy, and affordable.

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

Tags: