Janelle MansfieldJanelle MansfieldJuly 28, 2020
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16min883

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 Mansfield

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.

Contact Janelle at janelle@amplifiedcx.com for a complimentary coaching session. She also has video tutorials available on her YouTube channel.

Or, connect with her on LinkedIn (include the note: “CXM” in your connection request).

Hannah Foley

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.

Connect with Hannah on Instagram and Linkedin.

 


Janelle MansfieldJanelle MansfieldApril 14, 2020
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11min1452

In the last month or so we’ve all seen our priorities and approaches to work upended. Our world is completely different than in it was just days and weeks ago. Our daily routines have changed, and so to have our standard approaches to connection, communication and working.

As we all work to pivot and refine, or in some cases overhaul, our customer experience strategies and priorities, we’d like to share these five actionable tips to help you find success in the new world order.

Tip #1: Focus on communication and relationships

It’s vital to establish good communication and relationship strategies to maintain effective connections and empathy in this time of crisis. Don’t rely on email as your only method of communication.

We all need to take advantage of technology and leverage it to its fullest capability. By incorporating video as a standard operating procedure in all communications, we are better able to establish relationships and demonstrate understanding during this time of uncertainty and stress.

We need to take this approach beyond our standard inner-company dialogue, and apply it to how we communicate with our customers. Our customers are experiencing these same feelings of loss, grief, and uncertainty. As CX professionals and leaders, it is our duty to advocate for better engagement with our customers through enhanced use of technology.

Unfortunately, many companies have reacted by only distributing a mass email or two. This reaction is impersonal, anti-empathetic, and often irrelevant to the recipient. It violates CX best practices because it demonstrates a lack of customer understanding from an empathy point of view as well as a relationship standpoint.

In addition to the “here’s what we’re doing email”, organisations should:

  • Make the communication relevant to how the customer interacts with you. When was the last time there was an interaction? What are their standard interactions and how does your Covid-19 plan relate to how they usually engage with your company?
  • Post videos on YouTube or LinkedIn to reach broader audiences and better demonstrate empathy. In this time when face-to-face interaction is all but halted, seeing someone talk has even greater impact.
  • Invest in commercials. Let’s face it, we are all watching live news right now and aren’t skipping commercials. This is another way to connect and get your message out there.
  • Utilise your website. We’re shocked by how many company websites we’ve visited for information that have nothing related to new Covid-19 adjustments. Post new hours, new policies, what you’re doing and what your customers can do in this time.
  • Be human. So many communications have been rushed and robotic. Those that are human are winning customers hearts.

Most importantly, organisations need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. What do your customers need? What do your customers want to know? When Megan had to cancel her daughter’s birthday party she was beyond frustrated that she had to make three phone calls, plus go online and find their “Contact Us” email just to connect with the company as they were not responding to phone calls.

This is a stressful time for everyone, try to make the process as seamless as possible for your customers. Have plans in place to answer all communications channels within a reasonable amount of time. Plan to communicate appropriately and effectively.

Tip #2: Add collaborative technology into the mix

You might be thinking: “we’re already using Zoom / CiscoWebex / Skype, haven’t we already done that?”. The short answer is “No!” You can go further.

Innovative technologies take it beyond basic video and voice communication and accommodate for the collaborative side of things. Think of a brainstorming session or Design Thinking whiteboarding workshop.

Collaborative technologies allow you to replace in-person workshops and bring them online.

They can be used to help you complete those journey mapping initiatives or empathy maps. More than that they can be used to help you re-evaluate your team’s priorities, all while working in real-time in a very interactive and visual way.

Such tools include; Deskle, Invision, Miro, Mural, Stormboard and Whimsical.

Mural, a digital workspace for visual collaboration

 

 

 

Tip #3: Build Empathy

Empathy and communication go hand-in-hand, and communication without empathy is wasted in a time like this.

One of the cornerstones of Customer Experience that establishes empathy is building customer understanding; walking in your customers’ shoes to recognise what your customer experiences. In this stressful time of crisis, employees working remotely can learn from this CX pillar.

We need to understand that we are all in this together; everyone is under stress and has anxiety about the virus. We are stuck in new routines and we don’t know what will happen next

Now more than ever, it’s important to be empathetic and patient. Laugh when your client’s child pops up on the video call. Pause the meeting if a co-worker’s dog is barking. Monitor your tone with others and don’t lash out. Be patient and lend that listening ear.

Janelle recently spoke with a friend at a bank, and despite the fact that nearly 50% of their SMB customers would soon be out of business, the bank decided to book one-on-one calls with each of those customers to simply listen. There was little the bank could do to help many of them, and those clients would spend upwards of an hour on each call just talking, venting, and even crying. They appreciated the quiet reassurance, and empathetic ear.

Understand what others are dealing with in the face of Covid-19, and be whatever your customers need you to be in that moment – empathetic, patient, a warm smile on the other end of the video chat.

Tip #4: Incorporate an Opportunity Mindset

When faced with adversity it’s always good to see the silver lining. Beyond that, and perhaps more deliberately, exists the Opportunity Mindset.

The Opportunity Mindset is about actively seeking the opportunity that exists in each situation:

    • Is this an opportunity to prove that you can do more with less?
    • Is this an opportunity to get alignment and funding for a key priority?
    • Is this an opportunity to connect with customers in new ways?
    • Is this an opportunity to showcase the experience you’ve already designed and delivered?
    • Is this an opportunity to try something completely new?

Find the opportunity that exists within each step or activity.

Tip #5: Go beyond your comfort zone

Many of you have already adapted a new routine. Perhaps already settled in and gotten comfortable in what you think is the new normal. We challenge you to take it a step (or even 2) further.

We are living (and doing business) at this unique moment in time. A moment that could be considered an open window. A window that allows us the chance to fail, a chance to be vulnerable and a chance to do something really incredible for our businesses and our customers.

We all need to leap through those open windows, bringing our customers, employees and stakeholders with us. Despite the fear and anxiety that is permeating throughout our cities, there’s also an expectation that businesses will step up, adapt and innovate. There’s an expectation that the old ways of doing business are gone, and that there will be a new way of engaging customers, in the new era of Customer Experience.

In closing, we challenge you to go beyond. Go beyond what you’ve already achieved. Push yourself, and your team(s) further. Challenge each other to innovate and find new creative ways of achieving your CX priorities and business outcomes.

 

This article was written by Janelle Mansfield MBA, and Megan Germann CCXP. Megan is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) who has over 15 years of primary and secondary data analysis and market/customer research experience. She has designed and executed Voice of the Customer programs at several Fortune 500 companies in both B2B and B2C capacities. She is also the founder of her own consulting firm, Megan Germann Insights & Consulting (MGIC) focusing on market/customer research and VoC consulting services.




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