Illustration with orange background, a CX Decoded by CMSWire logo on top left, the words, "Season 3, Episode 1 CX Leadership and the Expand Mindset With Jeb Dasteel and Brian O'Neill" top the left and black and white headshots of Dasteel and O'Neill on the right.
Podcast

CX Decoded Podcast: Jeb Dasteel and Brian O'Neill on CX Leadership

38 minute read
Michelle Hawley avatar
CX Decoded catches up with CMSWire contributors Jeb Dasteel and Brian O'Neill to discuss customer experience leadership and success.

Jeb Dasteel and Brian O'Neill come with a ton of customer experience leadership. They have been in the trenches of CX with their respective companies in the past. And they are CMSWire contributing authors.

When a company gets it right and delivers value, customers know it, Dasteel told us in a column this year. They reward the business with their loyalty and repeat purchases and will even advocate for that business. But what is different about the companies that get it right? What differentiates their approach from competitors? 

“To ensure commitment and accountability across your organization, you need specific incentives for employees tied to key customer metrics,” O’Neill told Dasteel in that column, before writing his own columns for CMSWire later in the year. “It is critical to align incentives to the behavior and outcomes you want to achieve.”

We caught up with Dasteel and O'Neill to expand upon this important CX discussion for our latest CX Decoded Podcast. View all the CX Decoded podcast episodes.

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript is edited for length and clarity.

Dom Nicastro: Well, hello, everyone and welcome to CX Decoded, Dom Nicastro, managing editor for CMSWire here, and I'm joined by my colleague, Michelle Hawley.

Michelle, what's going on?

Michelle Hawley: Hey, Dom, how are you doing?

Dom: Doing all right today. Let's get right to it. Who do we have on today? As matter of fact, we have a duo today. That's unusual for us. But I'm psyched about it.

Michelle: That's right Dom. We've got Jeb Dasteel, a CMSWire contributing author who operates Dasteel Consulting and Customer Strategy Alliance. Before that he was global chief customer officer for more than 10 years at Oracle.

And he's joined by Brian O'Neill, former global head of client engagement at FIS Global.

Great to have you here, Jeb and Brian.

Jeb Dasteel: Thank you. We're happy to be here.

Brian O'Neill: Yeah. Great to be here, guys.

Dom: Excellent. So thanks, Michelle. Thanks, everyone. Jeb, great to have you on, being a CMSWire contributor for us. And those contributing authors are the bread and butter of our website. You know, it's the people in the trenches doing the work of customer experience and everything around it. You know, your article inspired us to get this podcast going.

And what I love about it is, you know, you interviewed some folks in that article, some customer experience professionals, and one of them is your co-interviewee today. Yeah, I love when my contributors do that. And they bring in those voices, a thought leadership, if you just want to write an article with just one voice, cool. You can bring in some other practitioners even cooler.

So Jeb, love to hear a little bit more about you, tell our listeners, you know, what your company is all about, how you landed there, and just anything and everything about you.

Jeb: Sounds good. Well, maybe not anything and everything. But I'll give you a short version of it. So yeah, so I was at Oracle for a long, long time, like 20, almost 23 years, the last 12 or so as chief customer officer (CCO), as you mentioned. I wrapped up my Oracle career back in the fall of 2019, just before the pandemic, and I've been doing consulting since then.

And I come at the consulting job with, I think, you know, a ton of very relevant experience from working with Oracle, I worked as a consultant before I was at Oracle. In my early days at Oracle, I worked in the consulting part of Oracle. So I have quite a bit of professional services or consulting experience, too.

But generally, in the last couple of years, since I've been doing consulting on a sort of full-time basis, I have been helping CCOs, like my friend Brian and others, really either completely rethink or develop new customer strategies or CX strategies you might call it. And it's been a busy couple of years, but it's been great.

Dom: Yeah. So you were one of those, hey, let's start a business. Let's go out in the world, and then 2020 came?

Jeb: Yeah, yeah, in hindsight, it seems like a terrible idea. But it actually has worked out pretty well.

Dom: Yeah, the adjustments must have been insane you had to make and — or maybe not, maybe the model was there before? I mean, you tell me.

Jeb: The not traveling so much model is not a bad thing at all. Not a bad thing at all. But, I mean, aside from doing, you know, most things, virtually, it's not that much different. Really, I guess that's a lot different. But otherwise, it's not that much different.

I've relied heavily on, you know, a really strong network of people that I had and knew and knew well, while I was at Oracle and then built on that by just talking to a ton, I mean, hundreds actually, believe it or not, of chief customer officers and like-minded folks that are really focused on this customer strategy and CX stuff ever since then.

Dom: Michelle we need to find a way to tap into all that knowledge that Jeb has, because hundreds of chief customer officers, that'll be a gold mine for us as reporters and editors in CX, it's like what's on their mind? Give it up? Can you give it up Jeb? Can you have any — you have those notes somewhere you can share with us? 

Jeb: You know what, I'll dole it out very carefully in a very measured way. I'll give you little pieces. It's really been interesting, though, all kidding aside, having the conversations I've really begun to have, because I just never had time until the last couple of years to do it for probably obvious reasons. Having those conversations with people that do stuff like I did for a long time has been really, really interesting.

It's revealing, it's reconfirmed what I kind of knew before in that literally nobody goes at these jobs the same way as anybody else. Which makes it rich for interesting opportunities for having some great conversations and learning new things for sure.

Dom: Yeah. And one of the folks that's done the role of CX in a leadership position is Brian, your co-interviewee, and Brian, I'd love to hear more about you. Tell our listeners, you know, about some of your key roles in the past and what's going on for you today.

Brian: Sure, great. And, again, thank you guys for having me on this today. Excited to be here.

So I spent the last 13-and-a-half years with FIS based in Jacksonville. I moved here about four years ago. So I'm in Jacksonville, Fla. right now, during the course of that time with FIS, I actually spent about half of that time in a sales leadership capacity.

And about six-and-a-half years ago, I moved into the chief client officer role for our payments group, ultimately becoming sort of head of all things client engagement for our banking solutions business segment, which is about half of the $14-to-$15 billion in revenue for FIS.

But I've been really lucky throughout my career, I've had an opportunity to run sales, run marketing, run operations, and the last six years really focused on the CX piece. And I think to your comments, it's really about where the focus is going forward. And I think the realization in most businesses, that the lifeblood truly is obviously their employees, and then how those employees treat their clients to drive new business opportunity.

So thrilled to be here. And hopefully, I can share some insights that are helpful for the audience.

Current, Common Challenges Facing Chief Customer Officers

Dom: Yeah, absolutely. You already have, you know, in Jeb's article that ran on July 20.

But Jeb, going back to you, I mean, that's just a wealth of knowledge that you seriously have, give us a little snapshot of what the common challenges right now with chief customer officers are, you know, because our readers, our chief customers, they want to know, they want to know what's on the mind of others. If they haven't got out to conferences to kind of eat lunch with them and network, why don't you bring it to him right now, what's what's going on what's top of mind?

Related Article: Use These 3 Steps Toward Building a Better Customer Strategy

Jeb: In fact, Brian and I both went to a conference for the first time in a long, long time, about a month ago. And that was awesome actually. I mentioned how delighted I am to do most things virtually. But it was it was amazing, to actually see face-to-face, couple feet apart, other CCOs and other folks that practice this stuff day in and day out.

But if I go back to 2019, when I started this consulting work on pretty much a full-time basis, I have to admit, I had a pretty dismal view of the sort of plight of chief customer officers at that point in time, the CCO role had existed for, I don't know, maybe 15 years. I go back 16 or so years, and I think that was very, very early days, if I looked back at my Oracle experience, and by the time I left Oracle, I thought, you know, I'm not sure that we really met or came up to the promise of what a CCO was supposed to be, and what it was supposed to do for these organizations. There was kind of a frantic rush to hire CCOs, on and off over that period of time. And you fast forward from whatever that was, early aughts, up to 2019, 2020. And it felt like we just kind of came short in general, of expectations, and of what the promise was, with some amazing exceptions, of course, that goes without saying, but I was a little jaded.

And then since then, as I've mentioned, I've had all these conversations with people. And I have to say, and maybe this sounds a little cliche, but I have to say that I was completely re-inspired by it over this most recent period of time. And I think we still have challenges. But I think there's been some really, really interesting things that have happened in this space.

Related Article: Chief Customer Officers: 6 Principles to Reach Maximum Impact

But to go back to your question, Dom, about some of the key challenges, I think, and this takes me back to those moments where I was maybe most jaded, and I'll just go there for a minute, don't want to get stuck there. I feel like this field of CX in the broadest sense, oftentimes kind of runs the risk of being filled with lots of people who are great at philosophizing, great at evangelizing, which is not a bad thing at all, that may be a little light in really getting down to brass tacks and focusing the investigation and really the work on making an impact on their business and making an impact on their business very specifically, of course, through driving customer success.

And I think that, that kind of imbalance between thinking philosophically and strategically, even, which is never a bad thing, the balance between that and getting very, very tactical, and pragmatic, and drawing that correlation between what it means to be focused on CX and focused on customer centricity, what that means, specifically, how that's going to improve your organization and your business. I think that's often been lacking.

So if I had to kind of boil down my answer to the one straightforward question, I would say it's that, and what I've tried to do with some success, and I've learned a lot along the way, is when I sit down and work with folks, it's really all about working on the strategy, but then getting very, very specific as quickly as possible to, you know, here are the next steps. And here's how those next steps line up very specifically to your organization strategy, and the way your organization measures success, and this kind of mindset is what what actually kind of drew me to Brian in a big way. Because I saw in Brian, somebody who is, you know, really has kind of perfected that balance.

And I'm seeing more and more people like Brian, in this whole space that are finding the right balance, really making an impact and really have something very meaningful to share with others that somewhere in between the very strategic, maybe ethereal, and the very, very tactical.

Are Priorities for CX Leaders Shifting in a 'Post-Pandemic' World?

Michelle: Well, Brian, I'm kind of curious, what's top of mind for you right now, as a CX leader? What's changed dramatically since pre-COVID. And now that we see the pandemic kind of winding down, so to speak, do you think those priorities will change even further?

Related Article: My Top 3 Lessons Learned as a CX Leader

Brian: Listen, I think the first big change was obviously for me, it was March 13. It was a Friday on the year of 2020, right when I made the call to send everybody home. So that work-from-home piece happened right away, what was interesting was how initially, a lot of the colleagues struggled a bit with it. And now as you guys read and see, it's turned into this whole movement of kind of a hybrid environment, right, where people have figured out how to do some of their work and engage in a work-life balance perspective.

I think simultaneously as well through this, client expectations have accelerated in terms of what they're expecting from and with their partners and their providers. So I live in the land of B2B, so there's a heavy amount of dependence upon my team and our teams to help operate some of the businesses that are our clients. So I think especially as the pandemic went along, early on, our NPS scores shot up, because people were really excited that we were answering the phones, talking to them, helping them keeping their lights on.

And then I think over the course of time, those expectations shifted to what is their new reality. So, heavy focus on digital, heavy focus on doing things in a way that take out a little bit of the friction that was typically there, they're looking for speed of resolution and quickness of answer. So I think the pandemic has just changed a lot of things.

I think the biggest takeaway is that the client expectations have really accelerated, and that what was really what you were trying to accomplish, maybe to try to improve that client experience is now just expected as table stakes, right? You've got to be looking at ways to take friction out, you have to improve that client effort score and measure that. And you have to see how things are going from a CSAT perspective as well, to make sure you're staying dialed in with what your clients are asking for each and every day.

Jeb: Yeah, I think I would add to that as well, if I may. And that is, I think the best thing that ever happened to CX is the pandemic to be perfectly frank. I mean, I think it really has accelerated everything around digital transformation, around CX, this whole space of customer strategy really has evolved much more quickly.

It's been more of a revolution in the last couple of years. And it has been previously an evolution where you've seen and I'm sure you guys have seen this as well, in terms through lots of your other contributors, in fact, that what used to be a five-year time horizon, or five- or six-year plan that quickly into the pandemic became weeks, months, maybe a year. So that's made a big, big positive impact in terms of moving this whole field forward.

And I think back to the earlier question about what some of the challenges people have are, I think one of the other principal challenges, aside from what Brian and I already mentioned, is that, you know, there's kind of a natural rhythm of organizations, that is very, very transactional. And there's no sense in trying to take that away because we need to have that in an organization. There needs to be a level of discipline, for big and small organizations alike, that that natural sort of transactional rhythm can often stand in the way of being able to step back and really a) do some strategic thinking about what it means to be more customer-centric and the impact that can have on the top line and the bottom line of the company and how to measure that and keep everything in alignment. But also, it inhibits the ability to orchestrate across different functional boundaries in the organization to be able to work together.

And I think Brian would agree with this, that it's really hard. And maybe, maybe we'll just say that it's impossible to be effective in executing a thoughtful customer strategy without a truly cross-functional collaborative, you know, well orchestrated effort. And that's one of the hardest things to do, because what comes into that very quickly, is that, you know, mythical word "silos," I mean, you got to deal with that challenge of silos head on.

Dom: Digital acceleration. Yes, absolutely happened. And sometimes I think with huge brands, digital acceleration kind of gets in their own way. Right.

So I was in a major pharmacy, I wrote an article about it on CMSWire, and an older gentleman came in, walked up to the pharmacy counter and said, "Can I have Have a COVID vaccine? And they said, "No" right.

So this is an old gentleman, the vulnerable population affected by COVID, millions are dying, and he could not get a vaccine. Why? Because he quote, "has to sign up online." So I was watching the whole thing unfold. It was not the poor pharmacy rep's problem. This to me was like you said, Jeb, a silo issue a top down, not walking through what a customer experience looks like for all customers. You know, it needs to be baked in that we have walk-ins in the world, you know, elderly people like to do all their errands in one fell swoop, get the COVID vaccine, get the groceries, go home, and rest. And it didn't happen.

So I wrote an article about it. So my question is, and we'll start with Brian, where do these breakdowns happen? Why do major brands, why are they unable to account for the wholesome entire customer experience?

Brian: You know, I think in the article itself, Jeb did a really good job of calling out the reality that a lot of us face, which is, you know, how many times have we been in a meeting when we're talking about a product, the product launch the financial outcome, but rarely, in that same discussion are we talking about the impact to the client or the customer, right.

So I think there's a lot of good intentions that have just kind of gone awry. And the tendency is that within your silo, you tend to be focused on what you're being measured by, and what that outcome is. And I think the broader construct of even what Jeff captured here is that, when we think about it, in terms of aligning outcomes and behaviors, you have to do so with an alignment of incentives as well.

So I think the miss comes from good intentions, not understanding what that actual journey is, Dom, I think, to your point, someone hadn't walked in the shoes of that gentleman, or they would have contemplated more readily, and certainly provided the training necessary, to help the people behind the counter to give that guy that the outcome that he needed.

I just think that there's good intentions, but there are blinders. And that's what happens with silos. So I think where you get to the way that this has to be broken down is through effective cross communication, enterprise view of accountability, and ensuring that the incentives are there that provide and produce the best outcome that you're seeking. And that's to whomever it is in that supply chain of who your customers are right? All the way through that journey has to be contemplated.

So having been in and worked in very large companies, and seeing the impact of silos, I can tell you, unequivocally, it's probably the biggest challenge to effectively delivering very positive CX. But I think the way you break it down is through effective training, making sure that the culture is there, and there's really good communication and understanding of what that client journey looks like, in everybody's role, and ensuring that it's a successful outcome.

Jeb: I agree completely with all of that, Brian. And the other thing I'll say, and this goes back, Dom, to the top of the call where you mentioned the CMSWire article, one of the things that we talked about in that article was this notion of an expand mindset. And I did not coin that, that was coined by, as you may recall, in the article, Rachael McBrearty, who is the former chief customer officer for Cisco Systems, and present chief customer officer for a company, a great company called LeanData.

And she kind of laid out when I talked to her in support of that article about this business of having this kind of expand mindset. And I think this is highly relevant to your question. And when I think about what she said, and the way I've thought about and kind of retooled my thinking so that all of this fits neatly into this idea of an expand mindset, I think it means coming up with a completely different orientation around longer-term value versus a particular experience, a particular customer experience, because to me, customer experience oftentimes, and maybe it doesn't have to always be this will probably get people calling in and sending you emails saying, well, that's not this isn't quite right.

But my view in general terms is that when people talk about literally customer experience, I feel like oftentimes that can be very tactical, and it can be very much reflective of a moment in time. And to me, the idea of an expand mindset is to sort of step back from that very specific experiential view and think more about long-term value, and how to engage different facets of the organization, as Brian said very well, to collaborate around very specific customer challenges.

And this applies equally to B2C as it does to B2B. It's a little easier to picture and to articulate or demonstrate or measure in the B2B environment, but this is for everybody, I think. But being able to solve the customer's business challenges requires people to work across or through those silos.

And it also means looking at employees to help find better ways for employees to engage and for customers to engage with an eye towards forming a better partnership with an eye toward, you know, identifying new opportunities to add value or to co-create value, as many might say, and to even co-develop new products and services.

But having generally this kind of idea of an expand mindset, and propagating that through the organization, I think can make an enormous difference to get past some of these challenges we've talked about.

How to Put the Expand Mindset Into Practice

Dom: How would you, Jeb, explain an expand mindset, putting it into practice to a no-nonsense CEO? Who says, Okay, what does that mean? How are we going to do this? What does it cost?

Jeb: That's a great question. So I would say that it's really about starting with a revenue orientation. Meaning, what is it that we as CX professionals, your audience, what is it that we can do to help expand business opportunities by closing deals, developing new opportunities, closing deals, solving problems that affect renewal or follow-on business, and then doing that in a way that requires effective orchestration across the company.

But if you start at it, particularly in a conversation with a CEO, or heaven forbid, with a chief financial officer or a COO, every one of those conversations, I'll tell you what it should not begin with, it should not begin with, "Well, we're doing some journey mapping." I'm okay with journey mapping, but just okay with it. I think the conversation should instead start with, here's what we can, what we're actively doing, what me or at least in my old days, as a chief customer officer, as an individual, can do, spend most of my time doing, and that's to close deals, that's to solve business problems, that's to bring the organization together to be able to do those things.

I just think there's no substitute in taking any one of these notions around CX or customer strategy, or specifically this idea of an expand mindset, and relating it first, very specifically, and then constantly about, what is it that that does to achieve the fundamental business objectives, operational and financial metrics that the company has set out?

Brian: And what I think is, to Jeb's point, the miss a lot of times is the conversion of metrics that all of us know and turning it into what real ROI is. How does that translate into growth?

You know, we did an internal sort of look-see, to see if we can improve on NPS? What does that actually do for our growth? If we can improve on CSAT? What does that actually look like for retention, and reducing of churn?

So I think when you do that, and you make it more, especially at a C-Suite, CEO level, they're much more focused on that economic impact. So you've got to bring something that's meaningful.

I think the other thing that you can bring to the table, too, is, frankly, a really simple question, which is, where do our clients see us on the relationship hierarchy? Do they see us as a provider as a supplier or a vendor? Or do they see us as a trusted adviser and a partner. And based on where you want to be in some of it could be aspirational. But as you typically move up that relationship hierarchy, so too comes the overall lifetime value of that relationship.

So I think that helps demonstrate how to unlock additional revenue opportunities within, and I think the simple idea of the expand mindset, is just one of saying, hey, everybody's on the hook for delivering what is to be an exceptional client experience in every interaction.

And I think that's, that's really what I think Rachel was trying to get across with her idea, which is so great. It avoids the lip service, it calls out that, hey, this is what we're going to do this year. No, that goes away. It has to be culturally embedded. And then those results from a cultural perspective, I think, show up quickly, when you take typical metrics, and you convert them into an ROI, or the financial impact.

Jeb: I think, just even to continue to expand on that a little bit, Brian, and back, Dom, to your question about how do you really make this real for a CEO or a CFO or any employee, you know, and how it relates to their job and what their objectives are? It really shouldn't be much more complicated than maybe a two or three step process, where the first step is what we've already talked about, and that is very thoroughly and concisely and clearly relating our objectives for whatever it is we're doing in the CX space, back to what the fundamental objectives and metrics are for the company, or for the company and then the department or the line of business. I think that's step one.

And then step two is okay, so given that, what can we do to make an impact, and what are the capabilities we need to do to make that impact? And maybe we possess those capabilities, maybe we don't. But if we can come to a very clear understanding as to what capabilities, we need to make an impact, and set some priorities around what those capabilities and then specific programs are, then we've got a good shot at putting in place and executing on a program that nobody can question whether it really relates to what the rest of the business is doing.

Learning Opportunities

And I do think that oftentimes, and I'll go back to my earlier comments about being a little jaded a couple of years ago, and it completely eliminates the possibility, I think, of that perspective, which is sometimes, hey, I think it's really interesting what the CX team is doing, and what the chief customer officer is doing. I just don't know how it relates to me. And I just don't know how it relates to what we're really trying to get done for this company.

So if you take it from the alignment with what the mission of the company is, quickly to defining what those capabilities are, how to plug the gaps, and how to execute on very specific programs that really deliver on those capabilities, I think you can't go wrong. And I think it can even be to the point where there's almost a recipe book for what those kinds of capabilities and programs are. There's a finite set of these things, at least to capture most of them. And they almost always are around feedback and insights around employee and customer engagement, around customer success, brand advocacy, customer-centered transformation, those four or five things always exist in an infinitely varying set of permutations. But those five capabilities and programs within those five areas exist every place I've gone, with every CCO I've talked to.

Michelle: Jeb, since you've talked to so many people, do you see anyone or have you talked to anyone who's really excelling in these areas?

Dom: No, they all stink every one of his clients.

Jeb: It's terrible. It's terrible, terrible, terrible. Now you've got me really depressed. Thank you very much.

The answer is yes. I mean, first of all, Brian, I mean, I think Brian has done I even hate to say this, Brian, but I have to know, Brian has done an amazing job with the employee and customer engagement piece in particular. I think that's been a spectacular success, out of a number of things where Brian's organization has been very successful at FIS.

If I look at other folks, well, like Rachel, I mentioned, Rachel McBrearty at LeanData, Rachel has truly excelled in the first of those kinds of sets of capabilities I mentioned, which is around feedback and insight and analytics. And I think a lot of that she brought from what she did at Cisco to LeanData, and she's she's really developed a high level of sophistication in that area.

And let's see another another great example is I mean, I think one of the things that we did really well at at Oracle was around brand advocacy, I think that we did particularly well in proactively identifying the world's potential greatest advocates in those days for the Oracle brand, and put in place very specific programs, or initiatives, to bring that customer into a position of being a strong advocate, and then laid out what advocacy means for that particular customer, because it'll look a little different between that customer and the next customer.

There's lots and lots of examples, where if you kind of look at those categories, you can see there's great successes in one or more, or many, but generally, sort of to your point, Michelle, not all, generally not all.

EX + CX = RX

Brian: Jeb, the thing that I think probably stood out for you. And I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I appreciate the compliment. Where we came from within my organization. And sort of just a personal thinking and sort of passion for me is, back in 2017, I had written an article that we shared internally, where I coined this idea of EX + CX = RX, right.

So EX being obviously the employee experience and their level of engagement. We all know what CX is, that's why we're here. And for me, RX was about revenue expansion and retention. But the important thing in that formula was that it started with the "E," it started with our colleagues, it started with empowering them, ensuring that they were engaged, making sure that they understood the journey that we're on, that we were also very transparent with them, the challenges that we were facing, whether it was something we had put into production, or if we had challenges with the technology that we are currently using and the steps we were taken to improve that.

All of those things along the way. It's, I just kind of believe that if you treat your teams like adults, it's really amazing the results that you'll get from them and the amount of engagement that you'll get. But fundamentally, the CX and RX part of that equation does not happen if you don't have folks that are fired up about being there, understand the mission and want to be part of driving that best outcome. So, so that was really the genesis of something that even for OKRs, that we do every year, we frame them under those that are for EX, those that are for CX, and those that are RX, that we can point to that are having direct impact and implications to creating those better outcomes.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Improve EX and CX at the Same Time

Dom: Yeah, and then putting that into action. Brian, what are some of those common principles in providing good employee experience? You know, is it technology based, you know, making sure that tools are usable? Because CX and EX, that relationship that's like an editorial theme for us every year.

And you know, I went to Forrester's CX event in Nashville in June. And let me tell you, all those CX practitioners, were talking about call-center-agent experience. The conversations weren't around, oh, how can I learn more about my customer, it was centered on agent experience, like so many conversations about that I had.

So you know, back in your days as a CX leader, Brian, like, what were some of those core tenets of actually getting that done, like the employee experience side of it, and making them, making sure they have what they need?

Brian: For me, it's foundational, if you think about building this, the foundation is around communication.

One of the things I thought we did particularly well as a team, and I'm not just talking about town halls, but yes, we did town halls, we would do all hands pre-pandemic, we would travel to the various campuses and meet people, they have to see and feel that energy, they've got to know that it's palpable, I think.

I'm a huge fan of sort of authentic leadership, you know, you don't change who you are on a call in front of a bunch of people to who you are individually, like you are, who you are. And I think people see that and they understand and they want to be a part of that. So I think, when they get to see what your persona and the persona is, of what it is that you're trying to accomplish, and through that communication drives culture, and I would challenge the team a lot and say, look, early in the early days, it was, this is a culture that we get to decide what it is, right. So our mission was to consistently deliver an excellent client experience in every interaction. And so with that is kind of our foundation, when we would have a challenge or a question, it was an easy question to go back to and say, will this help us achieve that outcome? So it was really easy in that regard?

I think, to your question. It's beyond communication, though, as well, in terms of, you know, what are we doing technology-wise? How do we make it easier for them and what they're doing? How are we bringing our clients in to engage with our employees as well through the different channels? Are we creating assistance through the use of AI, knowledge articles, those sorts of things?

And then I think training as well, I think a lot of people overlook training. Training is a huge investment, I get it. But I think training says a lot of things to employees that says, fundamentally, you really care, and you care about them being successful in the role that they're in.

I would just close this out as well and tell you guys, I'm a bit of a CliftonStrengths or Gallup StrengthsFinders nerd. I'm a big fan of knowing your five and understanding what your strengths are. I think understanding what the job entails what strengths you need to have, and ensuring that we've got the right people with the right strengths in those jobs, the better you align their strengths with the demands of the job, the greater the engagement is.

So I think, like everything Dom, it's a the prescription itself isn't, you know, linear or binary, it's probably a bit more subtle and mixed. But that was the steps that we took, and that I'm very passionate about in terms of driving that EX to be the best that it can be.

Related Article: Is It Time to Combine Customer Experience and Employee Experience Programs?

Jeb: That's pretty nerdy Brian.

The other thing I'll add, if I may, is, I think we overstate the potential use of technology, or the potential impact of technology. And I don't think this any of this is a real epiphany for any of us.

But it's less about technology. And to me, a lot more about giving people the tools to just simply orchestrate, to coordinate to work together, call it what you might, call it what you will. I feel like employees generally, people want to work together, they've got all kinds of other constraints and other stress points, and back to my earlier point about kind of the natural transactional rhythm of the organization, that's a huge amount of pressure on people.

But given a structured approach, and the license to in very specific ways in which people can actually coordinate or orchestrate, they'll tend to do it. And that is a huge, maybe, in my mind, actually, maybe the single biggest enabler, to really bring to life some of the things that you know what you need to get done for your customers, but otherwise just can't quite bring it together to get there, to get it over the line.

TLC: Teach, Learn, Challenge

Brian: Yeah, probably worth adding to, and I share this with the audience, I think this is something that's missed a lot. Recognition is key, right? So we developed a thing we call TLC. And I always got on stage and said, "No, we're not chasing waterfalls."

Dom: That came in my head.

Brian: Yes, exactly. So for us, it's a Teach Learn Challenge, right? So in every interaction, is there an opportunity to share something that can impart some wisdom, based on what we know in the industry, to our clients to help them do what they do?

Learning obviously, is listening, right. So hearing what their issues are, and then being able to provide that, but then the challenging piece is always the interesting one, right, that willingness to sort of really ask the difficult questions.

So what we were doing was recognizing our teams when different colleagues would see others in those TLC sort of moments. But like any culture or any reward program, we started inviting our clients into it as well.

So we started handing out TLCs, they're pins that have a year stamp on them. We changed the design every year. But we when clients call us or challenge us or when clients participate in advisory councils, or when clients become part of the training with us, we recognize with that as well.

And it's amazing when they show up at our client conferences, and they're wearing the pins, the others will come up other clients will say, hey, where did you get that? How did you get that, that has a big impact, a big ripple impact on the culture as well as that idea of feeling that you're part of something bigger.

So it's a sidebar, but I think a really interesting subtlety, to driving a culture that you're looking for, for that consistency, and driving those outcomes that you're looking for. Include the masses, bring the clients and make them part of it, and have some fun while you're doing it.

Dom: That's great concluding thoughts. We were going to ask you for some takeaways, but I think you gentlemen both wrapped it up very nicely, just there. And I will take issue with something Jeb said earlier. Jeb, don't start a customer experience meeting with journey mapping, I thought that was a rule. I thought you had to walk in to that board meeting and just say journey mapping, mic drop, walk out.

Jeb: I might get a bit of hate mail, but you're gonna get the onslaught of hate mail now.

Dom: And anyone who downgrades journey mapping is not my friend, because what am I going to do without going to a stock photo with the sticky notes on a wall. I just can't, my life as an editor in the CX world, I just can't.

Jeb: You know, you're talking to a consultant here who for years and years, I mean, my bread and butter was using, you know, stickies and brown paper on giant walls. So no, I'm with you. And don't even get me started, Dom, on NPS. That's a whole different subject.

Dom: We written some many stories, and Michelle will tell you how that probably shouldn't be your only metric that you measure customer experience on.

Jeb: Maybe not.

Dom: All right, so we are going to wrap it up. And when we wrap things up on CX Decoded, we love to give our guests because you're so gracious with your time, a chance to tell our audience a little bit more you know, where they can follow you. Any kind of cool things coming up projects, books, whatever you got. We'll start with Jeb.

Jeb: Okay, let's see where to follow me. I'm on, I'm on LinkedIn. I'm on Twitter, you can find me there. I'm blogging regularly. I'm actively engaged with a number of clients right now. And easy to reach. I don't know what else to say.

Dom: CMSWire.com blogging matter of fact.

Jeb: Exactly, yes. I'm starting that up. I'm really looking forward to that.

Dom: Sweet. And Brian.

Brian: Yeah. And again, thanks for the opportunity to be here with you guys hopefully shared some insights that are helpful for the audience. You can follow me on Twitter.

And on LinkedIn, I've been trying to weekly write an article as a continuation of what I had been doing it FIS, which I call "The Path to Excellence." And I pick different topics each week, and bring them forward. This most recent one this week was on inspirational leadership, prior ones include culture. And I've got 256 of these that we did while I was there at FIS that I'm tapping into and just sharing and trying to impart some insight from somebody that's been in the field and in the chair, and welcome everybody to find me on LinkedIn. Happy to connect.

Dom: Sweet. Well, we appreciate your time. And we enjoyed the CMSWire.com column. Looking forward to more of that from Jeb, and hey, Brian, not for nothing but the door's open, if you want to be a CMSWire contributor.

Brian: Oh, I'm all in now. That'd be awesome. I'd love to do it.

Jeb: You'd be great.

Dom: All right. That's it from CX Decoded. Great talking to everyone today. Stay tuned for more talks on customer experience throughout the fall and beyond.

Michelle: Yeah, it was great having you guys here. Thanks for telling us all about your insights.

Jeb: Thank you both.

Brian: Yeah, thank you guys.

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