The story of how 2 CXers from across the Atlantic found each other, and their CX tribes while sharing their passion for Customer Experience with the world.
Both Hannah Foley, CCXP and Janelle Mansfield, MBA are authors of the bestselling series “Customer Experience”, each of them having contributed content on their favourite aspects of CX.
Together they support each other through regular skill sharing sessions, an accountability buddy system and additional project capabilities or capacity as needed. Through growing their relationship they have found a much needed enhanced support system to help them thrive while being solo CX entrepreneurs.
Hannah Foley’s thoughts on the importance of finding yourself a community of collaborative individuals:
I remember when I was setting up my first customer experience team, it was new for the business and new for me. I’d got the leadership buy-in I needed for the plans but I felt like I needed to ratify and bounce my ideas around with other CX-ers. I had to reach beyond the business and look for advice and experience outside of my immediate company network.
Janelle & I both left the corporate world on different sides of the world to become customer experience consultants. It sure as hell was a scary thing taking the leap from corporate life to the solitude of running your own business from home but with the help of a few people and places we have both found ourselves surrounded by CX love!
Fast forward several years and we’ve built our respective CX tribes that are supportive, collaborative and fun to be around (albeit virtually right now!). A professional network, especially as a consultant but also as a practitioner within an organisation is an invaluable resource for an assortment of reasons.
From this network I can source personal business advice, get an instagram like or share, we can find opportunities when we need them, it’s a great way to ask for examples of approaches to business challenges, we can pass opportunities on if they aren’t right for us and we can get ours hearts full to the brim with CX chatter. We even send each other happy mail across the globe to brighten up a postbox full of utility bills.
Finding a business tribe isn’t easy, it’s a bit like moving to a new town and trying to build a social life from scratch. Here are some tried and tested ways to find your people and feel the support of the wonderful worldwide CX community:
- Become a CCXP – becoming a CCXP was like getting a big badge that said “I love CX too, come talk to me!’ It’s not just a confidence builder for clients or colleagues, it’s a great way to make connections. If you are already a CCXP then pop it in your LinkedIn heading ‘Hannah Foley CCXP’ and watch the invites pop up.
- Be proactive on LinkedIn – if you went to a face to face (F2F) networking event, you would hear the host tell you – “you’ll get out of this what you put into it” – LinkedIn is a virtual networking platform. Find your fellow CCXPs and slide into their DMs with a connection request and a friendly / polite personal message. Comment on the posts of fellow CX people and join the debates and discussions – like & share them.
- Find people on your wavelength – are you particularly interested in a certain industry, CX discipline or geography? If you were a runner and you moved house to a new town you would join a local running club – find the CX club that you can connect with and put in a shift to get to know them. Follow hashtags on LinkedIn, join groups and ask people for recommendations of events or people to reach out to.
- Get out there – are there F2F or virtual events coming up? Find events that are good for you – are there CXPA regional events? Are there conferences organised by people in your network that you can support and get value from? Go along and participate – don’t just sit and observe, be social, be brave… you never know what opportunities might come up.
- No online events that catch your eye? Why not create your own? Create a podcast series on a You-Tube channel or start a series of instagram lives and invite people you have connected with to take part. You’ll facilitate some engaging discussions, have lots of fun and make some brilliant connections.
- Be brave and organise some 1:1 chats – you will find that the global network is smaller than you think. It’s like 3 degrees of separation in CX – everyone is somehow connected to everyone by just 3 connections on LinkedIn and some are even related! If there’s someone you think could be good for you and you might be able to have some good CX chats – invite them to a Zoom call! What have you got to lose?
Janelle and I met through a mutual connection with Naeem Arif who was looking for contributors to get involved with the first instalment of the Customer Experience book last year. This opportunity presented itself on LinkedIn and we put our hats in the ring, from that first book we not only became best selling authors but we also gained a Whatsapp tribe of wonderful CXers from around the world.
We have both supported each other on client projects and even though Janelle is in Canada and I am in the UK it’s been no different to if we were in the same country. Janelle has a very active and lively YouTube channel which features some of the authors from the Customer Experience book – take a look!
Janelle Mansfield talks the importance of having a trusted pool of colleagues to collaborate with:
One of the scariest things about going out on my own was knowing that I wouldn’t have the benefit of hallway or watercooler conversations with colleagues. I’m the type of person that thrives on those impromptu interactions with others to get inspired, to stay motivated and to come up with better answers to the problems I’m trying to solve.
The first few months as a solo-preneure were the toughest. While I was having fun being my own boss and building AmplifiedCX.com, I struggled with growing my knowledge on a daily basis. Flash forward to October 2019 where I lucked out by joining the Customer Experience book project and suddenly finding I had a network of talented, highly skilled and purpose driven CX colleagues from around the world. Not only was it incredible to be able to achieve my goal of writing a book, but more than that I now had that missing group of trusted colleagues to leverage and lean on. I finally had that CX community I had been looking for and that feeling of belonging that I’d been missing.
Through that experience I have come to grow my network, skill-set and CX knowledge further through many informal and formal interactions with authors of the Customer Experience book series, and through additional connections.
One thing I was most surprised by, yet shouldn’t have been, was the openness of this network to share their intellectual property, their contacts, their learnings and their time. CXers, on the whole, are a generous bunch, and this group is no exception.
Finding another solo-preneur to collaborate with has been a game changer. Hannah and I have become each other’s cheerleaders, supporting each other as sounding boards, and even helping each other on projects where we simply needed that extra bit of help. I remember a recent project where I was really struggling to be both the internal CX leader AND the external facilitator. One call to Hannah and she eagerly volunteered her time to help me out, just like a trusted long-time colleague might do. Being an independent consultant can be lonely, and it’s been so fantastic to have Hannah and others by my side whenever needed. I always know that a virtual coffee or pep talk is only a WhatsApp message away.
My guidance to any CXer, whether or not you work for yourself, a small company or a large enterprise:
Build Your Network – we have much to learn from each other, and sometimes getting close to someone who isn’t within our own business can really help with perspective, motivation or cutting through the clutter of politics
Share Your Insights – I have found that sharing my stories and experiences has been incredibly valuable for others, and incredibly rewarding for me. To hear that my perspective has helped someone else achieve their goals warms my heart.
Be Generous With Your Time – Time is one of our most valuable resources, and I find that the more I give it away, the more I get in return.
Bringing our stories to the world with the Customer Experience book series
The latest Customer Experience book, out now on Kindle, has seen some new faces join some of the CX1 authors for a great new release. The book brings together a community of 24 authors from a multitude of customer experience backgrounds to share their latest thinking and best practices. The book aims to support other CX-ers and leaders find ways to bring about more customer focus to their organisations.
Download today from Amazon Kindle or order a hardcopy from mid-August. We’d love to know what you think of our respective chapters so pop over to LinkedIn and slide in to our DM’s for a natter about all things customer experience.
Written by Janelle Mansfield and Hannah Foley.
Janelle is an experienced executive and management consultant in the disciplines of customer experience, marketing, communications, change management and strategy. She is an early-adopter of technologies that foster better collaboration and engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders. Janelle is known for her open and approachable leadership style, collaborative nature and strategic thinking. Currently, she lives her purpose and passion by helping leaders amplify their customer experiences for better business results through her consultancy, Amplified Customer Experience.
Or, connect with her on LinkedIn (include the note: “CXM” in your connection request).
Hannah Foley CCXP, Founder of Yak CX, is a passionate and energetic customer experience consultant and best-selling co-author of ‘Customer Experience’. She has worked in the UK construction and financial services industry for 15 years in FTSE 100 businesses heading up CX teams for Wolseley & Barclaycard. She is passionate about helping organisations to develop their CX strategy with solid foundations based on deep customer understanding. Hannah also supports SME’s to build their businesses with optimised customer journeys www.yak-cx.co.uk.