Hi Hannah, tell us about yourself and your background and how you got to the CX space?
I was very lucky to start my career in the late ’90s with a very customer, people, and technology-focused start-up in the mortgage sector. It was this business that showed me collaborative leadership, care for its people, and also exceptional care for customers. This business grew at a rapid pace and was very successful in its space, and this didn’t happen by chance. I really enjoyed this sort of culture, and the Operations Director of this business became a mentor and friend of mine for many years afterward. A truly inspirational leader, who sadly is no longer with us.
It became clear to me, as a problem solver, a fixer, that by working in areas that I could help customers, I really satisfied some of these inner values that I have. Then when this part of the mortgage sector got wiped out in 2008, one of my best friends ‘lured’ me into recruitment, again helping people, and then I happened to get approached to work at Douglas just a short time after I entered the recruitment market and I’ve been there ever since. I’ve worked at Douglas Jackson for a decade this year, and so not only do I get to help out many customers (clients and candidates), but I also get to help in improving the lives of many consumers worldwide by placing exceptional leadership into customer and consumer-focused organizations – win-win!
How can brands better utilize consumer reviews
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
According to the UK Customer Satisfaction Index 2021, customer satisfaction is at its lowest rate since 2015. To me, this means there is a massive opportunity for businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Customer reviews are a really valuable source of feedback, and some businesses do a good job of acting upon this feedback, some do not. The shift to online gives businesses lots of useful data to monitor and predict customer behavior, but I think the one measurement that many businesses oversee is how easy it is for businesses to transact and do business with an organization. It has been proved time and time again that the easier and more easily accessible an organization makes themselves, and their products or service, the happier their customers will be. However, for some reason, many businesses just do not grasp this concept. Much work needs to be done here to make life easier for customers.
In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good employee experience strategy?
Employee Experience needs to be measured for a start. There are various tools available for businesses to be able to do this effectively. You can’t effectively monitor or improve anything that isn’t measured.
A brand purpose and values are quite essential for providing a great employee experience, as mentioned about my first career move earlier on in this interview. To give people that sense of belonging, which is a basic human need, and to genuinely care about your people. Hire the right people and the right sorts of behaviors! Cater for people’s individual needs; with career development (some want to progress, others don’t), flexibility around working hours and place of work (home if practical and office) and give people work and life balance that is so richly deserved. Well-being and performance are compromised severely when people are burned out.
Provide visible, supportive and inspirational leadership. Encourage and utilize ideas from everybody. Absolutely facilitate a broadly diverse and inclusive culture!
The list is endless here really.
How much has the role of customer experience changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
To be honest, I believe that the ball has been dropped with regards to Customer Experience during the crisis, for many organizations. There are logical explanations for this, such as concentrating on business continuity, transitioning people to work from home, and upgrading technology, but then a year on and I can’t help but think that many businesses are using the crisis as an excuse now. We are seeing that customers’ patience has run out.
Customers want, and demand, instant access to products and services, via multiple channels. Webchat and social media are the old digital, as we move towards self-serve, WhatsApp, and other emerging digital channels. Consumers like to transact online and via digital channels. However, as a customer myself, I am definitely looking forward to a ‘face to face’ shopping trip as we begin to move through the roadmap out of the crisis!
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
I’ve always been one for individuality, and 2020 has really brought this to the forefront. What the crisis has done is really humanize people, leadership, and every single one of us individually. This is to be celebrated, particularly as we really begin to realize that more diverse and inclusive cultures are not only good for our health and wellbeing, but also for business performance!
2020 was the year of webinars and online events; what was your favorite one?
Naturally, the 2 that I did when I collaborated with; Adrianne Carter, The Face Whisperer on improving nonvoice communication, and the other with Top Voice in Tech, Pascal Bornet from Forbes Technology Council, around Intelligent Automation. I can send out recordings of both if they are of interest to anybody.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should Executives gear up to the changing times?
Adapting leadership styles is key. Let go. Trust people to do their work, at the times that they want to do it. As long as the outputs are there and the results, then we do not need to control how people achieve any longer. Don’t make people sit on video calls all day just so that attendance can be monitored. Trust people to do their work and they will usually perform much better for you.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
ESAT. Employee Satisfaction. Simple. Happy employees mean happy customers.