Survival tactics!

A brilliant account of using survival tactics when you're in a cx role from Sam Johnson our first guest blogger!

"Someone once asked me, how do you survive in a CX role? Isn’t it tough?
Any role can be tough if your heart isn’t in it and you don’t believe in what you are doing.

When I first started as a Customer Experience Manager, back in 2008, the term ‘Customer Experience’ was only just emerging, everyone still only talked about Customer Service. In fact, the main reason I applied for the job was because I thought the company was at the forefront of this thinking. I was about to embark on a long (yet rewarding) journey.

'Well if that’s what it takes then that’s what I’ll do!'

The first lesson I learnt was that not everyone was as passionate about customer experience as I was, indeed, a lot of people really didn’t understand it at all. I remember talking to some senior managers about the fact that customer advisors should smile when they answer the phone as it changes the tone of voice to a more empathetic disposition. A comment was then thrown sarcastically across the room; “What are you going to do? Send everyone to smile school?!” to which I determinedly responded, “Well if that’s what it takes then that’s what I’ll do!”. And there-in lay my first task; to win hearts and minds.

Any change comes with challenges, whether it be implementing a new telephony platform, voice recognition, new service proposition or changing a process, but by far the most challenging change of all is cultural change. Why? because it involves people; thinking, feeling human beings. There is certainly no quick win when it comes to cultural change.

Using facts and figures

My greatest learning here was that I was pink and fluffy surrounded by a sea of blue and rational. I talked about customer emotions and the business talked about profitable growth. When I spoke about customer feedback and perception and was told “well their perception is wrong”, I knew I had my work cut out for me. I couldn’t influence everyone with the pink fluffy emotional stuff, I had to prove it and then prove the cost to the business. Turning the intangible into fact and figures was key to getting buy in and investment for new technology, learning and development rollout and changes in processes. The proven return on investment would then contribute positively to the continuation and embedding of the cultural change focusing on putting the customer at the heart.

Standing up for myself

Undoubtedly though, without the support of the MD and other key stakeholders, this culture change would never have even left the starting blocks. I had unwavering support from the MD built on a relationship of respect, trust and open, honest conversation. I also had the support of some awesome colleagues (who I now call friends). They believed in what we were trying to achieve and believed in me. I also had a great boss who, whilst wasn’t an expert in Customer Experience, certainly taught me a lot about influencing stakeholders and standing up for myself. I can honestly say that if I did not have those individuals supporting me, then that journey may well have been too tough.

So how do you survive in a CX role?

The answer; believe in what you are doing, turn the intangible into facts and figures and have a good support structure. Great things take time, have patience, take a deep breath and always smile when you answer the phone."

This blog has been brought to you by Sam Johnson - one of the guest speakers on the Applied Customer Experience course starting in October this year. Part of the course will help students gain confidence in themselves through personality profiles, guidiance from CX talent consultants and covering the topic of Emotional Intelligence.
Thanks Sam!.