Faran Niaz is a global CX professional with a proven track record in banking and financial industry. Faran is an accomplished Customer Experience, Digital Transformation & Change Management Expert, as well as a CX Judge, Trainer and speaker on various CX platforms as a subject matter expert.

CXM had the opportunity to speak with Faran on this special occasion, celebrating what we love and strive to improve each and every single day. After all, CX Day should be every day.

How do you celebrate CX Day at your company?

It’s a day of recognising your efforts, it’s like a birthday! That is when you celebrate your success, look at the positives and the negatives of your work and make a plan to see where you want to be. CX Day for me is a celebration of previous achievements and a plan for the future. This is a time when you need to stop, look at your best performance, the things that worked for you. You need to recognize all the people who have done well, to revise the strategies used in CX, which work and which don’t. I have a lot of experience with multiple large organisations and I remember Citibank which used to be very active in celebrations. The word ‘customer experience’ was not really familiar but service was obviously celebrated. This is a time when we use to involve not only the staff but the customers as well. So, when the customers walk in, they see a change, they see a celebration, people welcoming them, banners, even giveaways. Mashreq bank used to do something similar and ADIB used to celebrate with a Smile Day, so everything has a smile on it. All the customers walking in have to leave a comment or review on what they liked, how well they were served, if they would like to recognise any of the staff members for going out of their way to deliver great experience.

I remember, in the call center when the staff started celebrating CX day, customers heard the clapping and exchange of wishes, they were intrigued, appreciated the concept and celebrated with the call centre staff. It’s all being happy and content and being recognised.

What is your most interesting CX story?

What I really like about celebrating CXDay is the preparation for surprising the staff. Staff knows there is a celebration coming up. On that particular day when you invite them and say that they are the ones who did their best and reward them, the smile on their faces is priceless and appreciate that their efforts have been recognized. These CX role models were selected based on customer appreciation letters, social media feedback, or they through recommendation by their colleagues.

I remember there was a staff member who had nine customer appreciation letters! And these letters are genuinely written by customers who were very much satisfied with the way he has gone above and beyond in delivering service with a wow!. The key is to publish these stories and tell other staff as it motivates everyone and they aspire to achieve same results.

What is the secret to exceeding your customers’ expectations?

I have always been saying that Customer Experience is an art, it’s not a job. It’s embedded in the soul of those who deliver it. I call people working in CX at the front end who actually deliver service, the “unsung heroes” because in every interaction they have to go give their 100 percent. Imagine if you are a call center agent and you are taking 100 to 150 calls a day, the customer does not care if he is the 150th call of the day, for him it is his first call and he expects exceptional service. Each time you have to make sure that you have the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same energy. This applies to any industry, be it a restaurant or a hotel or airline. Every customer wants to feel like they are the first and the only and they want the best service. It’s a demanding yet very satisfying job.

When asked the CEO of Starbucks, how is it possible that all your employees are so welcoming and smiling in any café we go around the world. How do you teach such a huge number of people to always welcome you with a smile?

And his answer was: “We don’t teach them how to smile, we actually hire people who love to smile!”

What are your favourite CX Books?

I like reading books that revolve around true experiences by customers and professionals alike. I enjoy books written  by my fellow CX professionals as they bring essence of personal experience. Currently there are 3 books I am reading and would recommend too:

  1. ‘Customer Experience’  –  a book where 22 international CX professionals share their current strategies for achieving impact and visibility using best practice CX
  2. The Customer Experience Playbook: A practical guide for CX Leaders’ – by Jonathan Daniels.
  3. ‘The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper: True Customer Service Stories’ – by Claire Boscq-Scott
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