Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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CXBuzz Interview With Ayelet Baron Forbes 50 Global Female Futurists

Hi Ayelet, tell us about yourself and your background? 

I have been described as a force of nature by individuals and organizations who have worked with me. Forbes recognized me as one of the world’s top 50 female futurists and I am listed as one of the top future of work and culture thought leaders by Thinkers 360. My love of strategy, writing award-winning books, and connecting with people are at the heart of my work. You can find my collaboration with Professor Jamie Anderson in the London Business School Journal and Thinkers50 book, Dear CEO.

Having experienced the corporate world as a successful global tech executive in the Silicon Valley, I  work with conscious leaders, and bring my years of designing and implementing global strategies, to organizations that need help with teamwork, collaboration, and community building. I am a master facilitator who loves to transform problems into opportunities. I’m on an adventure of a lifetime helping conscious leaders around the globe walk our path to a healthy world, will you join me?

Online commerce was booming in 2020; how did it affect brands’ digital transformation strategy? – What should be the main focus for brands this year? 

The three most important currencies of our time are trust, relationships, and community. When we have a shared purpose, we see our humanity in each other, and we can have excellent relationships with all people—the people who work with us, the people who buy our products and services, the people who help us get our products and services to the market, the people who live in the communities we serve, and the people who care about what we create in the world. But you need to treat your customers and employees as co-creators of your business and bring teams together to achieve your highest goals. That is what 2020 showed us and is paving the way to 2021 and beyond. 
In this emerging world, it will become more common for workers to be organized around small autonomous teams that come together as needed. As you will have greater access to people across the globe, you will be better able to build a team that will help achieve your purpose more effectively. An increasing number of people will choose themselves and see their working life as being structured around short-term, project-based teams rather than long-term jobs. There will be greater demand for open, two-way conversations in lieu of the old command central paradigm. We will stop talking about the tools and start integrating them in how we work and live. That is the beauty of experiences.
The main focus can be one of storytelling and community building. It is an amazing opportunity to break free and chart amazing paths.

Ayelet’s checklist for CX strategy

In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good customer experience strategy?

I am not a big believer in checklists as every experience is personal, which is why building strong customer relationships is key. What many businesses forget is that the customer doesn’t care how your company is run. We want a seamless experience where you deliver on your words. It’s great when a business has a catchy value statement or culture statements, but if they can’t deliver on them, they become meaningless. The strategy should be one of creating fantastic experiences that become the stories about the organization.

How much has the role of the CEO changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?

The role itself hasn’t changed because of the pandemic as we continue to have one of the biggest leadership crises in almost every sector, which started over 20 years ago. Communication is becoming more critical and we now have the tools and technologies to streamline two way-communication but we are still stuck in the old paradigms. This is a huge opportunity to create the communication that is so needed, both inside organizations and with customers and partners. These digital tools need to be integrated into the business and used in different ways that promote dialogue, connection, and community. CEOs who get this will shine and see bottom-line results as a result of how they communicate and drive change. The companies that have leaders who know how to co-create will have huge advantages especially when they tap into the tools that are readily available.

Here are some key elements for CEOs today

  • Purpose: A clear purpose that others can easily get behind because it is compelling and visionary in the impact it makes in people’s lives. Other people will want to join your efforts because of a higher purpose that resonates with their own.
  • Communication and empathy: A keen ability to be open, listen, and share ideas. This includes practicing ongoing two-way communication, where people easily understand what they need to do to be successful in their work. People are engaged with delivering the purpose of the organization, and sharing information openly with other team members, strategic partners, and customers. Communication flows openly when needed, and they take time to discover and listen to what’s happening around them.
  • Opportunity creators: An ability to stay current with what is happening in the marketplace and develop a strong vision for what is possible. By transforming your vision into a powerful purpose, you bring people into your organization who know how to integrate new ways of working and how to implement innovative solutions seamlessly, so that innovation simply becomes part of how the business is run, instead of being fragmented into a separate department.
  • Trust: A strong ethical backbone that requires you to know yourself and trust yourself deeply, and trust others to do the work they were hired to do. By fostering open communication, people can focus on the work at hand, and leaders can trust in their own hiring ability. Conscious leaders understand that their words need to match their actions, as this is foundational for building trust.
  • Connecting deeply: We can bring the right people in at the right time to create something bigger than ourselves when we are in trusted communities that have shared purpose and accountability. We also know how to connect deeply, so that people know how important their contributions are to the business, allowing them to bring that purpose to life.
  • Integrity: Our businesses provide products or services that make the lives of others on this planet better. We understand how to run organizations that thrive, where people are at the center of business. Our purpose is at the heart of our businesses, and people can easily discern what our values represent and can join us on our mission.
  • Storytelling: By seeing the impact businesses can have in the world, leaders share stories about how the world looks as a result of our work. We can wake up in the morning knowing how to make others, both inside and outside the organization, care about how to bring our stories fully to life.
  • Fun: A passion for lightness and an understanding that there is room to play and have fun in the work we choose to be part of in the world. By bringing our whole selves to business, there is an ability to make business a fun and enjoyable part of life.
  • Measuring impact: The conscious leader is clear on actions and results. It is no longer sufficient simply to measure activity and call it a day. We can track the impact of our activities by addressing the results we plan to achieve, why they are important, and how our organizations will achieve them. But we can also track our impact and creativity, even more than our transactions and activities. For example, we can track the relationships we have created and their impact on our business, instead of just the number of people who “liked” the latest post or viral campaignץ

What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?

Having worked in tech since the 1990s, I was surprised at how challenging working from home was for so many organizations. I saw small businesses, which experienced increased growth due to the pandemic, struggle with not being in the same physical office. And then, large organizations automate unhealthy practices like endless meetings, due to the lockdown. All the cracks started to show and it was a fantastic opportunity to get to the root cause and address them with a fresh perspective.
I also saw that many organizations still don’t understand how to integrate technology into their core business and see it as a place to go.

2020 was the year of webinars and online events, what was your favorite one?

I am personally wary of all the events with experts and am waiting for us to sit in circles and have an open dialogue, even virtually, with no stage. I participated in a few online events as a speaker or panelist but mostly found more of the same expert format. We have so much opportunity now to break through and co-create healthy experiences for our time and we have yet to scratch the surface of what’s possible.

It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future, how should CX Executives gear up to the changing times?

Pay attention to people. As conscious leaders, executives can discover unique opportunities to create new markets, products, services, and, most importantly, purpose-driven experiences for people. More people-centered organizations will pop up as more of us realize that we are in the business of people. Workforce culture will be designed with more flexibility, collaboration, communication, and empathy. Leaders will know how to bring in the right people at the right time to work on key initiatives driven by a shared purpose. Social networks based on the purpose that allow people to communicate openly and freely and collaborate will be the norm. There will also be a realization of the diversity of skills needed, and we will stop using metrics that no longer serve us. This new generation of leaders will embrace flexibility, build community, and provide the space for people to bring their whole selves to their life’s work.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

Not sure it has been created yet but I would make sure that trust, relationships, and community are integral metrics for CX.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.

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