20 Years, 20 Stories: 2011 – The “Ah Ha!” Moments That Brought me Here

Author Bio

Author Bio

It seems fitting to be part of the 20th anniversary celebrations at Confirmit as my formal career in customer experience (CX) also started 20 years ago. The CX world back then was a very different place. The organization I was working for had given me a remit to improve the company’s understanding of their clients as part of a wider organizational change program. With my background in Account Management, and a degree in psychology and systemic management I felt I was pretty well-placed for such a role, surely this was going to be a walk in the park – and at the time I honestly believed it is was going to be a one/two year secondment and then I would get on with a “proper job”. Little did I know at the time that this was going to be the start of a whole new career.

Standing at the sharp end, attempting to drive internal change can be exceptionally painful, frustrating but this is how you learn, and it led to a couple of “Ah ha!” moments which have driven me forward ever since. The first was that CX isn’t actually about improving the customer experience (bear with me, I’ve not lost my marbles). It’s about empowering employees. Providing them with the insights to understand what needs to change, how it needs to change, and then empowering them with the analysis to prioritize the change required. Letting them take control so they can drive success. And THAT leads to a better customer experience.

My second “Ah ha!” was about the role of technology in enabling customer experience programs to thrive. As my very clever colleagues at Confirmit (and my kids) will tell you I am a complete luddite when it comes to technology. I can’t even work my own phone. But I truly believe that without the right technology to deliver insights to EVERYONE in an organization, help them prioritize AND track the action they take, any CX program is going to struggle. Despite being a CX consultant I don’t believe that business change is consultant-led. What I learned at the sharp end is that consultant lead, “sheep dip” change programs don’t work. You need technology to provide the insights to the ONLY people who can deliver change, your colleagues and teams around the world. The experience of consultants is critical to guide the organization as a whole and to design the CX program and underpinning technology. But if we do not step back and let our people drive the change we are going to either:

  1. Fail miserably
  2. Run ourselves into an early grave trying to do everything
  3. Build the biggest team in the organization – be the designated “owners” of CX so everyone else can delegate their problems to you….and ultimately fail

It’s that belief that means I’m now at Confirmit. I was the first Voice of the Customer specialist to join the company, and back then it was a big step for the business to take. Having moved into VoC from its original Market Research background, it had become clear that customers needed guidance on building VoC programs based on Confirmit’s brilliant technology. So here I am.

Nearly 6 years later, I’m no longer a one-woman team. We have some fantastic CX and VoC consultants working with clients around the world I’m just back from a trip to our newest office in Australia where I’ve been working with our clients on developing existing programs and shaping brand new ones. For me, the magic is around the way our technology can help every organization understand what business success looks like. One of my proudest achievements is the creation of Confirmit Voices, our methodology that underpins the programs we build for clients, listening to different perspectives on the business, bringing together multiple sources of feedback including unstructured data and driving action and business improvement. Like every good methodology, it’s evolved over time and will continue to do so, but it provides us with a perfect partner to our technology. It gives us structure and focus, and has led to a few client “Ah ha!” moments itself.

Being so surrounded by technology, it’s impossible not to think about what comes next. While many people predict the death of the structured survey – I don’t see it. Yes, unstructured data seems likely to eclipse structured data, but I think it’s vital that we don’t lose over 100 years of Market Research learnings that give us such robust analytics. We can’t replace that by counting “likes”.  We are working on some really exciting new modeling that will ensure that the new technologies will enrich the old, and bring us amazing new CX insights.

We mustn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but we do need to accept that our baby is growing up. I am delighted that I can be part of shaping that future, and can’t wait to see what is next.