Serena Riley 0:00
I am a huge advocate for the idea that if we remove roadblocks and challenges from our internal folks, if they feel gratitude and appreciated for the roles that they’re in and what they’re accomplishing, that they will absolutely serve our customers better.

Anne B 0:39
Welcome, Serena, so glad to have you on the show in 2024, Season Two, it’s so exciting to have you here. I know, we’ve talked about it for a while.

Serena Riley 0:48
I know I’m excited to be here as well. And congrats on on season two.

Anne B 0:54
You know, honestly, I didn’t think I was going to have a season one. So having a season two is fantastic. So here we are. When we first started talking about you being on the show, you were at a different company. And now you are in a new role at a new company that I’m so excited to hear about. I have kind of like held back. I’ve wanted to ask you so many questions, but I’m like, no, no, no, I’m gonna, I’m gonna hold off. I’m gonna hold back. Because we’re gonna ask those questions on the show. Sounds great.

Serena Riley 1:34
No pressure, great. Restraint is a skill.

Anne B 1:39
So your new company? Well, not your company. I mean, it’s, it’s your company. When you’re an employee. It’s your company.

Serena Riley 1:47
Right? Exactly. Yeah. You have a stake in the game. Yeah, exactly.

Anne B 1:51
But the company that you are now at is called Is it conversite? Or Conversight? Conver

Serena Riley 2:01
sight like conversational insights. Yeah.

Anne B 2:06
You’re like, alright. conversight Okay, so So what is conversational AI? Let’s start there.

Serena Riley 2:22
So it is holistically speaking, a decision intelligence platform. And we are trying to help businesses be able to bring in multiple data sources, from within their walls into one platform that will help them create meaningful reporting, connect those dots across those systems, and then also be able to offer proactive insights, analytics, and a really awesome little. Her name is Athena chatbot, that you’re able to ask questions of your data, then she’ll spit that back out into

Anne B 2:58
Athena is a strong, powerful Greek name.

Serena Riley 3:06
I don’t know the origin of how they chose me to ask.

Anne B 3:12
I was like, was that strategic? I mean, when I hear the name, Athena, I’m like, Oh, okay.

Serena Riley 3:18
That’s certainly what we’re trying to get her to be is that Rockstar employee that you don’t necessarily have to worry about HR with.

Anne B 3:29
There you go. So, Athena, is she meant to be an internal person, an internal employee? Or is she meant to interact with your customers?

Serena Riley 3:42
It’s meant to be an internal employee. For the customers that purchase our platform. However, there are instances in which we can embed it in their programs to that our customer facing or give them access to their customers to it, so it can go a little, a few different ways.

Anne B 4:03
Okay. All right. I love how I’m just already embracing the fact that Athena is ¬†she and she is an employee. It’s so easy to do these days to I mean, I already call my little carpet robot as she and my family is like, why is the robot uh, she and I’m like, hello, did you not see Rosie on the Jetsons? Like, she set the tone that all robots are she’s I don’t care about the Terminator, like the Terminator. They got it wrong. Should have

Serena Riley 4:39
been a she had also females just get crap done! I’m gonna like me, yes.

Anne B 4:55
So every every kind of thing in our house that is robotic or technologically enabled. Mold is a sheath. And I don’t know, it just kind of made sense to me. So you joined conversight recently, and you came in as the head of CX. That was a new role.

Serena Riley 5:16
It is yes. So I joined back in October. And shortly there, the four they had secured their series a funding, and they were looking to start investing in customer success and experience and making sure that retention numbers were strong that growth was there, and that we were starting to expand within our customers. So that’s how I was introduced. At first, I will be honest, I thought it was just an opportunity to advise or consult or something of that matter. But it turned into a full time role, which I’m thrilled to be a part of this organization, I think, I think we’re doing some interesting and cool things. And of course, AI being on the forefront of of all technological advancement right now. It’s it’s fun to be a part of that as well.

Anne B 6:03
Well, what I find interesting is that you have this background, I mean, you’ve been in CX for a while, right? We’re your director of CX you moved kind of into brand ops, you actually are, and keep me honest here. You’re a founding member of women in CX I am Yes, yeah. So this is not a new thing for you to be in CX. But how is it different? Being in CX for an organization? That is a it’s basically it’s an AI product? That is Yeah, so how is that different for you?

Serena Riley 6:46
I wouldn’t say that it’s incredibly different yet. However, as we’re starting to kind of get, find kind of our niche within the industry and find what problems we’re solving best. Little things start popping up for me of how do we control bias that happens? How do we make sure that that we are they how do we make sure that the we know that the logical pieces there, but if something’s not going, right, how do we make sure that the human element can then reenter, and help through any of those experiences that are still a little bit quirky, or just in need of that human touch as we continue to grow and scale what we’re building? So I think it’s it’s an like I said, it’s an interesting position, and role and organization to be a part of right now. Because I think a lot of what we’re creating for businesses, we have to start thinking about how that holistically serves the world, too. And what we could be developing that, if we’re, I don’t want to say that we’re developing something bad, but if we’re pushing the boundaries of AI and what it can do, are we making sure that we’re doing that in a conscious way, and intentional way to where we’re not creating something that will go rogue. So I think there’s definitely aspects to this, of how we make sure that that that human element is included with the service piece of it, how we’re training the users, how we’re making sure that they’re comfortable, that their data is being represented correctly, and all of that, that the AI is just not able to do quite yet. So I think building, you know, still maintaining that compromise between having the humans involved as much as possible or where needed, and then having that AI kick in where where it’s more beneficial or more efficient to.

Anne B 8:50
So you’ve said a few things there that come up often. That is how the human stays involved is one of them. That comes up a lot people are some people are all in on AI, right, like there are so excited about it and others are. They’re scared, they think AI is gonna take over, they think it’s going to be a terminator situation, right? I think AI is going to take their jobs, take their lives, kill us all and take over the planet. And, you know, I’m curious, you know, when you’re looking at this, and you’re thinking about how we keep it safe, and how we keep it from going rogue as you said, how does that product offering that you do and how you’re doing that? How does that factor into the customer experience?

Serena Riley 9:49
Yeah, so I think a lot of you know, any good relationship is built on trust first, right? And we all know that while a AI is helpful To us, and when you get it trained correctly, can be phenomenal. Usually right out of the box, it’s not going to work 100% of the time. And so that trust really has to be built on at the human element in how we implement that with our customers, and making sure that their data sources are pulled in and connected in a way that they’re supposed to be. And that the data that’s coming out of it, or the analytics that’s coming out of it makes sense to them. Because at the end of the day, the insights and things that we are providing to them are helping them to run their business more efficiently. And if we aren’t training that correctly, then we could be giving some bad advice

Anne B 10:40
to garbage in garbage out. Right.

Serena Riley 10:43
Exactly, exactly. So there’s there’s a lot of that I would say a lot of upfront, heavy customer involvement or heavy customer experience involvement, because because of that trust factor, making sure that people are comfortable with how we’re getting it configured, and that they’re comfortable using it once it is configured.

Anne B 11:04
When your training conversate is it? Is it an individual training for each customer? Or is it kind of like, chat GPT, right, where it’s looking at the whole the overall. And it’s being trained by you globally by all of the users? And I’m curious about that. Because what you just said garbage in garbage out. And if I’m using it, and you’re using it, and we’re two different customers, and I’m putting garbage in, is that going to impact your experience?

Serena Riley 11:41
Yeah, so I will say, and we’re starting to get to a technical areas that I’m probably not the best.

Anne B 11:50
conversations, and I’m like, You know what? Now I’m really curious. Because it’s like, oh, this is cool. Because like, Oh, that’s really cool. I’m interested, could I use it? But oh, you know, what, if he’s using it, and she tells it that one plus one equals three? And I’m like, oh, but then three plus two is what? Yeah, right.

Serena Riley 12:19
So I will say that in just like, how you and I might arrange our CX teams. The same happens for businesses, there are files and their data organization and structure, each one is unique. And so when we’re getting those customized, that’s why implementation is awesome. That’s another reason why it can be heavier is because there is more customization needed upfront, to make sure that we’re understanding the data definitions correctly. And that what formulas you’re building to create your metrics, we understand how those breaks down and what’s actually going into it because there are certain things that different customers see in a different way too. So I do feel I do know from that aspect, that there is some unique configuration that will not carry through to other customers.

Anne B 13:07
That’s, that’s a really good point. And so since we’re talking about Athena being, you know, being a member of my team, okay, so, I’ve brought conversation, and I’ve brought Athena onto my team. And she’s now helping me internally. My question now is, is Athena helping me from a talent and recruitment standpoint and helping onboard people and get them through? Or is she helping my customer support team making sure that they are answering my customers questions correctly? Or helping their job be done correctly? Like where is a thena best suited to help me internally?

Serena Riley 13:51
So I will say that is based on your use case for how you would like to see her

Anne B 13:56
utilized okay.

Serena Riley 13:57
You are well versed she Yes, she’s a she’s a very multifaceted AI individual. She can we’ve we’ve got the ability now to where you can load your different support docs, or right now we’re using it for our own internal marketing, documentation, use cases, white papers, things of that nature, and we can use her to go quickly search and find those things instead of having to figure out oh, yeah, we did a white case or white paper on that customer. It’s in this folder, I think and wasting all that time and energy trying to find that we can actually do that with her. It also can work to your point of filtering through customer support, articles and and product documentation and things of that nature to help your customers get the support they need. But it also can help you on your sales side of things. And do you have the right inventory to sell what you’re looking to sell For your goals this year, and finding just different insights for each business unit within the organization, there are still some use cases I think we’re working on building out. But we absolutely believe that every team within an organization should be able to use this product.

Anne B 15:16
So that kind of brings me over into a little bit like, what is your vision? And I have like three questions, I think that are going to be following. Okay, so what is your vision for the customer experience team at conversate, now that you’re kind of you’re, then you’ve been there for a few months, now, you’ve seen what’s going on, and it’s your time to shine. Okay, you have built your roadmap, you know, what you’re gonna do? What’s going to happen? Now,

Serena Riley 15:50
there are two facets to what I am always most interested in making sure that we deliver well on one is, first and foremost, the employee experience, I am a huge advocate for the idea that if we remove roadblocks and challenges from our internal folks, if they feel gratitude, and appreciated for the roles that they’re in, and what they’re accomplishing, that they will absolutely serve our customers better. And second language. I am a huge advocate always for our internal folks first, and knowing that that will absolutely lead to great outcomes with our customers as well. And so that has been something because we’re such a small startup, I think we’ve got 80 people total globally right now, and half of those are in the US and half of them are in India. That’s an it’s an opportunity for us to make sure that the culture that has been curated thus far continues to be something that is scalable as we grow, too, because I’ve been part of that growth factor. And I know what’s coming. And I know, once you get into that high growth phase, it gets harder and harder to keep everyone aligned to keep silos from forming. And just to make sure that everyone’s being as collaborative as possible. So that is, that is definitely a passionate area for me, is helping on that side. And then on the customer side, one of the big areas that I’m trying to develop right now for us is the community aspect. I fully believe in creating customer communities and the power that those can lead to, from you know, referrals and references and things of that nature, because who wants to talk to the actual company about what’s working? Well, they want to talk to each other. And learn about how someone is using our tools to help them in their business, and how someone can take that and then, you know, duplicate or edit, or iterate on that for their business. So that is a big piece of my strategy this year also is creating that community, helping spotlight our customers, for the individuals that are there and helping them grow their professional careers, as well as the organization’s themselves and the cool things and the forward thinking that they have going on. So you know, just a few things.

Anne B 18:09
Just a couple things. So in this and I think the one thing that you talked about a few minutes ago, that I didn’t really hear is about implementation is implementation going to fall under you.

Serena Riley 18:27
i It’s definitely adjacent to me right now. We’ll see how that changes in the future. It may become part of, of what I oversee. But, you know, as, as any other CX leader knows, even if somebody doesn’t report directly to you, like that is an area you’re trying to support the whole organization in knowing that that’s the first experience they have post sales, we want to make sure that that’s a good, you know, first second impression, if you will.

Anne B 18:54
Well, the reason I’m asking and I’m really curious is because CX leaders, right, like we are super, to your point, super interested in the entire journey from the moment that they find us, like, how did you find us in that lead? Well, I’m not over lead gen. I’m not over marketing. I’m not over any of that. But I still want to understand that part of the journey. I want to understand how it impacted you your feelings, your concerns, your thoughts, and then the lead to through the entire sales process. I’m not over sales, but I want to understand how that impacted you. Can we make it better? Can we make it more seamless? Can we make it easier? And then all the way through implementation onboarding? You know, it’s it, every aspect of a customer’s life cycle. Absolutely. Thought to I think I’m going to want to do this to searching it like before they even have that much moment of epiphany. Yep. Like they haven’t even interacted with us yet. That is the beginning of the cycle that falls on a CX person. So I’m curious about the implementation part of this. Because that’s something I’ve never really seen before. I’ve done SAS, and, you know, worked in call centers and done all of these different things, but AI, and that type of a tool. You’re you’re entering new ground. How different? Is it more complicated? To me? It sounds like it feels like and it scares a lot of people. I mean, you’re talking about training something. Yeah. Yeah. And what is the timeline? It sounds like it’s going to take me years to get this thing to understand. I can’t even get Siri to understand my Siri, see, Siri, Siri, whatever, like, Hi, Katie Holmes, I love your daughter, she’s in my phone. I can’t even get my phone to understand me enough to do accurate voice to text. How am I gonna get this AI to understand what I want it to do?

Serena Riley 21:16
Yeah, so I guess, you know, it depends on of course, it’s unique, again, to every customer and what exactly we’re actually

Anne B 21:27
given all the time, it depends.

Serena Riley 21:28
I know, right. Um, it’s use case that we stand up the number of data sources that they have, that we’re pulling together, the complicatedness of those, all of that kind of factors into what that implementation time looks like. I think from a short point, if it’s something very straightforward and kind of easy to do, it’s, it’s it can be as quick as two months. I know that some have taken six to nine months, though, to depending on again, how, how deep we want to go and how many data sources were connecting. So yes, that that implementation phase is absolutely one of those that we need to make sure that we are all aligned from the customer side, and from the internal side of what it is that we’re trying to accomplish, and helping to see the things that are unseen to as we implement, what are some things that might end up being gotchas or that customers may not know that they need that now that we have their data there, maybe we can deliver that to. So it’s it’s definitely a heavier implementation than I think that I’ve had it from my previous SAS companies that I’ve worked with too. But our goal with that is to make them very self efficient thereafter. And we certainly have a support team to help, you know, support them, should they run into any issues, but we really want them to be able to get that that time to first value as quickly as possible, and to be able to help it really start influencing decisions within the organization.

Anne B 23:18
So when you’re thinking about putting your CX team together, and all of these different things, and you’re now in this new field of AI? Are you still going to be using the same metrics that you’ve used from a CX perspective in the past? Are you looking at different metrics for your team?

Serena Riley 23:44
So it’s interesting that you bring this up, because for a long time, being a small team of the X, folks, because when you’re in the startup world, you know, as you can imagine, CX doesn’t get a ton of funding, you have to do with what you can with what you have, I am super excited to be able to be working for a company that I can actually use the product for my role. And that’s actually something that I’m working with the team on building out right now. And getting the visibility to plugging in our CRM data, plugging in our product usage data, plugging in our support data, and being able to pull all of this together so that I can see holistically, everything that I want to see and be able to start really understanding what does engagement look like for our customers? What does a successful customer look like? And that’s not something I’ve ever had the advantage I think of having before, never was able to invest in any of those expensive tools for vendors that exist in this space. And so being able to build this, I of course have those those typical baseline metrics that we want to kind of gauge, but I’m curious I am absolutely curious to see what else I might find. And what else might end up being an indicator for loyalty and success with our customers.

Anne B 25:11
I’m incredibly interested to see what you land on here. Because this is going to be something that we all look at in the future, because I think, as even if we are not technically an AI product, or we’re all going to be utilizing AI in some way, yes. And as each of us in different fields and industries start embracing AI, we’re going to need to factor that into our CX metrics as well.

Serena Riley 25:47
Absolutely, absolutely. And how do you make sure that you’re balancing it in a way that you’re not expecting so much from it that you forget, or you lose sight of what’s actually important to, because I think that’s sometimes as a CX practitioners, we get in this mindset of I, I just need the numbers, and then I’ll be able to understand all the things and see all the stars align, when in fact, it’s just it’s another data point to add to other things that we’ve got going on. And that we can see or feel as humans that AI won’t be able to do too

Anne B 26:20
well. And that’s the part we can just talk about this forever, is the human in that aspect of all of the technology. So there are there are so many articles coming out right now about how businesses need to not forget to fund their CX teams, like don’t let go of that aspect. There is value, and it’s hard to put numbers and financials to that team. Sometimes. However, when you don’t take care of when you don’t have that side, it’s easy to realize the lack of it. And those individuals, that team are generally the touchy feely emotional relationship builders that keep your clients. And they make sure that they know what’s going on. Yes, some of them have analytical sides that need to see the numbers. But numbers, as much as we like to say, numbers don’t lie. Sometimes numbers do lie, because I go back to garbage in garbage out. If you don’t have good data, you don’t get good data.

Serena Riley 27:39
Yeah, and those that those data points aren’t going to give you the context around perhaps why something was entered the way it was seen the to, or the sentiment behind what that score is or whatever it may be, like there’s always an extra bit of context that usually needs to go with that.

Anne B 27:56
100% Absolutely. So I want to dig in a little bit more to just talk about CX. But before we do want to talk a little bit about this or that, okay. Everybody get to know Serena, a little bit more on the personal side. So I know that you do watch the show. And so on this or that for somebody that might be watching the first time we do two words or a few words or phrases and we have to pick one. We can’t just say both or neither we have to pick one and we both play and we explain why. So are you ready?

Serena Riley 28:43
I’m ready. Maybe this is where we should test out AI knows me.

Anne B 28:52
Let’s see let me we should have a theme to play as well. All right, here we go. And the first one is flower garden or vegetable garden

Serena Riley 29:07
I do love food

Anne B 29:13
garden Why are you going with flower garden?

Serena Riley 29:20
Because I don’t like cooking it so even if I produce it. I don’t want to take the next step with it. Rather just see pretty things that I have never heard somebody say

Anne B 29:43
I went with vegetable garden. Because even if I don’t want to cook it, I can give it to somebody.

Serena Riley 29:50
I mean that’s fair. Wow, you’re making me look

Anne B 29:56
or somebody else will cook it like I actually not Now, not recently, many years ago, when I lived in California, I had an apartment that had a little, like a backyard. It wasn’t a backyard, it was just a fenced in porch. And I guess it was the climate of where I lived in that it was perfect for growing tomatoes. And I tell you, I planted all these little tomato plants. I swear I had 1000s 1000s of tomatoes. I could I couldn’t eat all of them. I was giving them to my next door neighbors, but it was the only plant that I could grow. It was the only plant that I could keep. I killed everything else. So I just kept planting and growing these tomato plants. My daughter loved it. My it was just it was something therapeutic about it. But I could not eat the 1000s I

Serena Riley 30:54
mean, either you started a canning business or a Bloody Mary mix.

Anne B 31:01
CD. I should have been friends with you at that time, because then I could have come up with that. But I was not smart enough to come up with that at the time. All I could think about was oh my god, what have I done? There are so many tomatoes. And I just started giving them to my neighbors but it was ridiculous. Next one, what are we going to get? Oh, okay, indoor skydiving. Or indoor rock climbing. This is one of those ones? Neither. But I can’t pick neither. So what are you gonna go with?

Serena Riley 31:42
I’ve done some light rock climbing back in the day when I you know, support my unweight firstly, and maybe the indoor skydiving I was if it was outdoor skydiving that may that definitely wouldn’t be my choice. But I would try that I would try that

Anne B 32:03
both of these terrify me there see my my kids are just fearless. But both of these absolutely. I have like no strength in my arms like I’m a like gal like no arm but if it was just leg I’ve absolutely no problem with the legs. So the rock climbing and knowing that you have to pull yourself up as well leave me on the ground if it’s if we’re flooding just by I will say my prayers and be okay with it. Like Good luck to all of you with my fate Oh my gosh. And then there’s something about I think I’d almost be better with the outside because like there’s something about being in a tube

Serena Riley 33:05
you further the uncontrollable environment versus the controlled environment.

Anne B 33:10
See in the tube you don’t have the thing that oh, the parachute? Yeah. You don’t have that in the tube. If the air stops you just go. I

Serena Riley 33:26
literally was picturing that when you said that and I was like

Anne B 33:32
harness. If something if the power goes out Serena, it’s just a flop and a splat. I would hope that they slowly

Serena Riley 33:46
turn the air off. It’s not

Anne B 33:48
about like brownouts and blackouts and where the like to this buildings like if there’s a blackout dip or a brown out do they get notice and say sorry, nobody can go up because what goes up must come down.

Serena Riley 34:05
Generators are not going to kick in.

Anne B 34:09
Okay, now that I’m talking through this with you think I’m gonna stick with the rock climbing.

Serena Riley 34:17
Oh, that’s great. I think I’m still going to try it

Anne B 34:23
flat maybe not in California or Texas.

Serena Riley 34:33
All right. Maybe not in the middle of a snowstorm or ice.

Anne B 34:38
All right. All right. Last one. Are you ready? Yes, let’s do it. Each bonfire or mountain cabin retreat.

Serena Riley 34:49
Mountain Cabin retreat hands down. Wow.

Anne B 34:52
You didn’t even think about that was not there was no debating power outages or splats at all.

Serena Riley 35:00
No, there was not no there was no how you know? Now if we’re talking about climbing those mountains to get into that cabin, maybe I’ll reconsider

Anne B 35:11
in order to get to the beach you have to take an airplane and skydive.

Serena Riley 35:17
Yeah, the means of which if we’re if we’re ignoring that fact them yes mountain the camp cabins in the mountains.

Anne B 35:25
I think I’m gonna I’m gonna be a beach bonfire kind of gal. Yeah. Beaches tend to get chilly at night on fire like, I’m Yeah, I think I’m a bit I love the sound of water. The sound of the ocean is very relaxing. I think I’m gonna go with beach bonfire. Yeah. Yeah, I mean. Yeah. Assuming that you did splat. Right? Yeah. I will be at the bottom because I did not make it up the mountain.

Serena Riley 36:02
Yeah, just pick me up and we’ll drive away to the beach.

Anne B 36:08
Oh, that’s great. Oh, my goodness. So going back to customer experience, as we previously said, you have been in customer experience for a minute or two. Yeah, just curious for those individuals that are wanting to be in this industry or maybe even thinking about growing their team? What do you think, in your opinion, as a strong leader in this area? What are the key qualities that make a successful leader in the CX field?

Serena Riley 36:48
Who, okay? First, I think as patients it is always, there are always challenges. It is sometimes less job. But I think that when you get the opportunity to actually see something really come to fruition and be delivered in a fantastic way. Like, it’s just, it’s an amazing feeling that makes all of the pain worth it most of the time. I will say yeah. Compassion is the second one, we talk a lot about empathy. And the difference between empathy and compassion is that empathy is just standing in someone’s shoes and understanding it, compassion is actioning. That, and so being able to not only feel what others feel and be able to want to change that, but actually seeing something done about it. So being compassionate and, and pushing forward change, I think is another piece to that. I think something that we don’t really include in some of those pillars of CX, but it’s absolutely a fundamental piece of it is change management. I think that is a huge component to everything that we do and making sure that communication is top notch that processes and foundational groundwork is done and the networking within your organization and outside your organization is happening. All of those are really key to change management and making sure that when you’re ready to make that change, you’ve got the relationships that you can lean on, to help push that through to. So I think those are definitely like top three that I can think of right now. I think there’s also things of just, I it would be hard for me to get behind a non charismatic, the next leader I think, because I feel like they they are the role models of the organization generally speaking, and they’re really it would be hard for me if I didn’t have someone in a role like that, that was taking the challenges in stride, be having a positive mindset, showing gratitude, having fun with things and really just just making the best out of every moment. And I think that’s that’s definitely been something that I didn’t realize was a really big strength of mine all through my career and has led to this ability to be a good leader in this type of space. Because you do you do have to relate to so many people and you have to have those relationships with so many people that you cannot constantly be the one that’s Debbie Downer and and sharing all of the the woes with everyone you have to find The the light in the dark tunnel.

Anne B 40:04
Well said, So along those lines, and it to kind of help our future leaders out because it’s not all rainbows and puppy dog tails. As much as we all we laugh, we’re happy people, you know CX tends to be a pretty joyful community, we like to lift each other up. But there are challenging situations, especially as leaders. Sometimes individuals come in and they’re, they’re not the right fit, they want to be they want to be in CX, but it’s just not really the right place for them. So can you describe a challenging leadership situation that you have faced, and maybe how you handled it to achieve a positive outcome?

Serena Riley 40:58
So random story, back in high school, we had this program called the pure listening program. I don’t know if a lot of schools had it or not. But there were there were some that had it, but essentially, was this program where you were taught how to actively listen to your peers, and be able to just sit with them and kind of be the person that they vent to. And you can’t you couldn’t give advice that was not part of the program. It was just seriously about listening. And I think that that was it’s another skill to your point earlier that I think good leaders need is that ability to actively listen and hear the things that aren’t being said, as well as the things that are being said. And when it comes to the employee experience side of things, that’s definitely an area that I like to make sure that I am available for people that can’t, that don’t feel comfortable or don’t trust their leaders to speak with. And so I think there’s been multiple instances where it’s something very similar of there’s an employee within a team that is just not performing well, from the leaders eyes. They’re an underperformer. They just seem to not understand what’s going on. And it ends up giving that employee a bad reputation. And you see those things in my immediate is always to give the benefit of the doubt to the other person, like what’s going on with them? Do they need extra training? Are they going through something personal, that they just can’t talk about at work or what have you. And so I often end up being the person where I’ll jump into situations that, you know, to a leader, they may not be relevant to me specifically. But that’s part of what I see as helpful in an organization is being a source of an active source of listening for others that need it. And so there have been instances where I have helped not only coach employees that aren’t doing well, but have also helped other leaders that aren’t quite seeing the other side of the story or are quite able to empathize as well with others. Which also just comes back to the to the exact thing, same thing that we do within CX is that empathy, empathy piece of it, and truly being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. So I know that was kind of a roundabout answer. But I think for me, a lot of challenges that I see are in team dynamics, and being able to understand what’s working well, what’s not working well with those, how can I support the individuals or the team as a whole, or the leader of that team, to make that smoother for them, so that I can then have them help me get bigger goals accomplished, too.

Anne B 44:04
You have so much going on. And, you know, learning everything for this new job and a new industry and just a lot how do you balance your professional life with personal happiness and creativity? You’re an incredibly creative individual, website, social media, like how do you balance it all?

Serena Riley 44:31
I don’t think I don’t think that I have a perfect formula to it yet. But I will say that I have learned the hard way multiple times I’ve been reminded about this, that setting boundaries is key. And making sure that I if protecting my well being is also key. And in order to do that, you have to set those boundaries. I think that as women we And as a recovering people pleaser myself, like, that has always been something that I had struggled with was setting boundaries, maybe not setting them, but reinforcing them and actually making sure that they stood. And I think that that is has been key and something that I’ve really tried to work on over the last six months, and honestly, starting a new job has been able to be kind of a reset for me on that to have, this is what I want to set for my expectations in the bar of how I’m going to deliver things. So that I can protect my own peace, and also still have the time to dedicate to my side hustle business that I’m trying to build and grow and to my kids, to myself, and just making sure that I am getting the sleep and the nutrition and all of those things that I need to be or need to have to feel fulfilled. And I feel like this time around, I’m getting there, I’m getting closer to figuring out what it is, and have been able to really lean into that a little bit more. And I think part of that’s probably because I’m, I’ve created a side business that’s about that, too. So how do I not practice what I preached to?

Anne B 46:15
So what is your advice for somebody that is looking to create a better experience for themselves and their family? By setting those boundaries, and they just don’t know where to start? What what is your advice for them?

Serena Riley 46:34
I mean, to be honest with you, and this is something that I do for myself and for others. And it’s part of what I think the power of CX is, outside of customer experience, it’s the whole human experience, I have used some of the skills that I’ve learned in this role to intentionally design my life. And how do I make sure that if this is what I want to see, think, feel and do that I’m backing that up with actions and goals that make that happen. And I think that’s a key piece to this is that we sometimes don’t take the time to think about that, from all of those aspects of our well being our physical health, our mental health, our social environment. And all of that plays into what we actually deliver on a day to day basis and whether or not we feel hold as a human. And I think that we have skills and tools as UX practitioners that can absolutely be reused in our personal lives to help us get that right.

Anne B 47:38
Amazing. How well let’s start with why why would somebody want to get in touch with you? And then how would they get in touch with you?

Serena Riley 47:46
Sure. Why would you want to get in touch with me? Because I’m fine. And I just I I like to laugh and have a good time. So that’s number one. But also, I do you have a lot of experience in business in startups in SAS in b2b in CX. So all of those kinds of industries or professions, if any of that’s of interest to you, I’m always happy and open to chat about that. And I think the next biggest thing on my radar is women empowerment. So if you need a hand up, or you need to have an ear to listen to or, or just get advice on how we can intentionally design our lives. That’s also an area of passion for me too.

Anne B 48:34
So those are the whys and where where would they get in touch with you or how LinkedIn? Yeah,

Serena Riley 48:38
I think the easiest places LinkedIn search for Serena Riley slash Serena Riley, one

Anne B 48:43
of those. Those links are there that link is below if you need assistance in finding her and of course, we’ll have that in the comment section as well. Serena. It’s always great catching up with you. Usually we catch up offline, but I’ve kind of put it off because I wanted to capture it for the masses this

Serena Riley 49:07
time. No spoilers, right?

Anne B 49:11
No, we’re saving it. Yes, exactly.

Serena Riley 49:16
Now we can reconvene. Absolutely reconvene

Anne B 49:21
our regular shows. Well, we can. Anyways, thank you so much for joining the show, and everybody else. Thank you. We will see you again next time. As we wrap up the episode we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guest information will be linked in the episode description along with a link to our hosts website, and and our sponsors websites, remote ethos and your Please don’t forget to like, subscribe and share on your favorite podcast. ISTEP and on our YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section. And once again, thanks for joining us. We hope to see you again next time on Unexpected Journey.

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