Manuela Pifani: The Art and Science of Customer Experience

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 23, 20186min

Manuela Pifani is proof, if proof were needed, that award winners go on to achieve amazing things – on top of the success that brought them to the awards podium in the first place.

Having been at the vanguard of helping a range of firms improve their Customer Experience offering over the years in fixed employment roles, 2015 CX Professional of the Year, Manuela Pifani, is now helming her own consultancy business, allowing her greater freedom in indulging her passion – helping customers.

The University of Bologna alumni, who has made London the centre of her business activity, is one of only eight people to have been named CX Professional of the Year since the UK Customer Experience Awards were founded almost a decade ago.

This honour was bestowed thanks to her pioneering work with Direct Line Group (no strangers to awards success in various categories themselves thanks to Manuela) where she spent just under four years as Head of Customer Strategy and Experience.

Now she is her own boss at CXellence, a consultancy firm helping companies fulfil their Customer Experience goals at a time when quality CX delivery is more essential to business success than ever before.

Speaking of her journey, she said:

“For the last 15 years I have been in customer-focused leadership roles and this cemented an understanding in me that it is crucial to put the customer at the heart of any business strategy. If a business isn’t doing this, then it will never be successful in a sustainable way – it’s as simple and as brutal as that.
Being a CX leader is both an art and a science that requires an understanding of, and a deep empathy with, customers, as well as a range of technical and strategic skills. Once you can grasp this, then you can hone your passion and go on to improve your customers’ journeys for the benefit of your own business.

When I worked for Barclays, over 15 years ago, the concept of Customer Experience had yet to be fully established, and my focus was on driving service excellence, by improving . I wanted to improve efficiency of process and service delivery.

However, as over the subsequent years attention progressively shifted towards CX, my focus moved also towards building an effective Voice of the Customer programme and defining a clear customer strategy to better meet the needs and expectations of customers. These became the foundation upon which we built our customer journey design and improvement programme, also feeding into the development of omnichannel journey capabilities.

But this is not enough; the most important part of a CX strategy is to drive organisational realignment and cultural change, to ensure it is fully embedded in the DNA of the company.”

As to where she goes now with her many years of experience, Manuela said:

“I’m at the stage in my working life where I realise that delivering CX is a passion as much as a profession for me, and I want to be able to do it with more organisations and more often, under my own brand. I have the right amount of experience to confidently achieve my goals. I’m still in the early days of this new venture, but I’m certain that we are going to do wonderful things with many fabulous people.

Winning awards, meanwhile, adds a level of credibility that simply cannot be bought – it must be earned. They are benchmarks that show you are doing the right thing and achieving the right results. The motivation from that feeling of reward is fantastic, not just for individuals, of course, but for your entire team and all the business stakeholders who supported you in your journey.”

Entries are now open for the 2018 UK Customer Experience Awards. For more information, click here.


Paul Ainsworth

Paul Ainsworth

Experienced Irish journalist and former newspaper editor now helming executive editorial duties with Customer Experience Magazine, the UK's premier online source for Customer Experience news, features, and opinion, along with its sister site, CXM World.




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