Anne Bibb 0:00
Welcome back to unexpected journey. This week, we have Jeff Sheehan. You know, we have been in the CX world together for quite a while. But I’ve only talked like two or three times, which is wild to me how in this world today we can be and interact and be around each other, but not really verbally talk to each other very often.

Jeff Sheehan 1:23
Yeah, and I’m a fan of that. I love LinkedIn, for all kinds of reasons. But more and more in the last, I would say five years without LinkedIn since I think 2015, or actually 2005,

Jeff Sheehan 1:36
LinkedIn, but only in the last five years have I used it to really build community and have real conversation. And now I think I have half a dozen standing calls with people met entirely on LinkedIn. And we are connecting just as you and I are now. And I love that I love the sharing ideas to encouragement. And I would also say that the CX community globally, is very encouraging, very supportive. And if you need anything, you reach out to that network, and there’s going to be more than a few people that would be happy to help. So I love that.

Anne Bibb 2:10
I do too. And I think what’s really interesting about it is, it’s while it is competitive, you know, we all need business, we all want business, it’s not competitive, because we all are trying to drive a positive CX movement. And CX is so ever changing.

Jeff Sheehan 2:29
It’s true. And I think

Jeff Sheehan 2:32
generally speaking, people that are in customer service positions, or in the sort of broadest category of customer service kind of professions, I think there’s, I think there’s an abundance mentality there that you want to serve other people, you want to solve problems, you want to be part of a team and a collaborative effort. And I think the spirit of folks who are in those professions, tends to be very generous. And I was in sales for a long time. And I can tell you that in sales, it’s very territorial. It’s very scarcity, very competitive. But in customer experience, and customer service, I find it to be very generous and abundant. And,

Jeff Sheehan 3:12
you know, I love that spirit, because I feel like that’s a part of my personality as well.

Anne Bibb 3:17
But, and I also think and tell me if you disagree with this, but I think it also has to do with the fact that CX very much like technology, is one rapidly changing due to how quickly the world evolves. But also, it’s not one size fits all. Yeah, absolutely. Right. And I totally agree with you there. With regard to CX, there’s, there’s a lot of hype, and this is where I’ll disagree a little bit, you know, the tech companies have done a wonderful job sort of

Jeff Sheehan 3:48
commanding the narrative around customer experience management. And they have a lot of powerful marketing tools, a lot of powerful personalities that are, you know, putting out a lot of content. And so they really do command the narrative, I am convinced to that. And so they do make it sound like one size fits all, if you only do this, if you just buy my magic beans, you’ll get this instant customer understanding or instant context center efficiency or whatever, you know, they’re selling. We all like instant, yeah, make it simple. But but you know, one size doesn’t fit all and if you buy that technology, which is essential, and I know we’ll talk about that later, but it’s a component of of things you need to sort of have a more you know, I think a balanced approach and in my work in consulting in my all my other work in operations and other roles, having a purpose people process, having those pillars set up so you know why you’re doing something, you know, how you want to do something with that process, and you know, and you want to have the staff with the skills and the capacity to use those tools and so forth. But I think before all that, you know the sizing of

Jeff Sheehan 4:59
CX, it’s very fashionable, as you mentioned, to talk about CX. But you really have to define it operationally for your organization, you know, who is your customer? I’m astounded when I ask clients, define your customer, we use the word customer, as if it is a universal, but when you ask, like, who is your customer, and versus the end user versus the,

Jeff Sheehan 5:25
the reseller, the distributor, and so forth, who is your customer, and you really hone in on understanding that. And then you also appreciate your operating model, every business goes to market in a certain way, and a certain, you know, methodology and all the rest of it. So,

Jeff Sheehan 5:40
you know, you have to sort of size up your CX program, your crisp experience management program for those realities. First, who is your customer? Who are you serving? How do they want to be served, and CX isn’t a fit for everybody? I was on a webinar the other day with with a forester, in fact, that maybe talk was mentioned several times that, like, if you embrace CX in your business, meaning like, it’s still optional, you still like have to evaluate your own business and say, Okay, well, I’m not a CX manager, that’s not relevant to us as much as it might be somebody else. And so really sort of assessing CX, you know, as a as an approach as a part of a strategy, and then really operationalizing it from there to fit your business. Lots of sizing to go on there. And there’s no way one size fits all.

Anne Bibb 6:26
Can you can you delve into that a little bit. CX is not a fit for everyone. What do you mean, like we all? Well, let me not everybody, the majority of companies have customers, why would customer experience not be a fit for everybody?

Jeff Sheehan 6:42
Well, again, the just the best example, I have, the most recent example I have is, I just did a huge project in my backyard, lots of concrete. And the concrete plant that makes that stuff takes orders. And they deliver concrete by a cement truck to the site, and then the site gets it to where it needs to go and any number of ways customer and so the concrete plant deals with

Jeff Sheehan 7:16
They just make a consistent product. And by the way, I learned a lot about concrete that it’s a very scientific thing, I got a five page report signed by the chemist, the chief chemist at the concrete plant, right,

Anne Bibb 7:29
I have a friend who’s has a company making concrete, like counters, it’s wild, concrete, wild.

Jeff Sheehan 7:37
Yeah. And there’s a whole creative dimension to that kind of business as well. But, but my point is, it’s one size fits all, we mix stuff, for certain applications, whether it’s building a bridge or building a driveway, there’s different specifications for that, that are prescribed, usually by government entities and regulatory entities. We mix it, we we deliver it, we schedule it, and that kind of thing. So there’s not much of an experience there. And the timing is, is going to ebb and flow based on

Jeff Sheehan 8:17
a mishmash of taking the orders and asking, you know, hey, where’s my driver, because I just poured a truck a concrete and I need my next truck. So, you know, it’s, but that’s a lot different than Apple, and their approach to enriching the lives of consumers.

Anne Bibb 8:36
So in that situation, we’re talking about customer service, management versus Customer Experience Management.

Jeff Sheehan 8:44
Yeah, what customer service being a key aspect in the overall customer experience management. But my point is that

Jeff Sheehan 9:23
I think there’s plenty of examples of people who embrace the buzzword of customer experience management, but they don’t operationalize it as if it’s really important to the brand experience and the and the, and the mission, vision and values of the organization. So there’s lip service, and there’s, you know, the really embracing it to embed it into the into the organization

Anne Bibb 9:48
Two questions really, how do you determine if you need to implement a CX strategy? And then how do you define CX

Anne Bibb 10:00
probably flip that how do you define CX? And then how do you implement a CX strategy within your organization?

Jeff Sheehan 10:06
Yeah, so defining CX is, again, back to your operating model, the mission vision values like who are you as an organization? And what are you trying to achieve? If you want to enrich lives for any reason, you know, you’re a grocery store, you’re a consumer electronics company, you’re a pharmaceutical company,

Jeff Sheehan 12:24
So that’s, that’s how I would I would tie those two together.

Anne Bibb 12:30
That that’s actually really well put, I’ve seen several businesses who talk about needing a CX strategy, we need a CX strategy, we need a CX strategy. But to your point, the business strategy is the CX strategy.

Jeff Sheehan 10:25
you have to understand how you want to connect your brand, your you know, what is your brand? What is your purpose, right? And how do you want to connect that to the marketplace that you are engaging? And and then more importantly, from a business results perspective? How is the market responding? So if you’ve got a great product, but it’s really hard to get, you know, to purchase, it’s just a lot of friction? It’s a lot of inconveniences, a lot of complaining about getting,

Anne Bibb 10:53
like, Ah, I’m outta here, I’m not getting it. Right, right.

Jeff Sheehan 10:57
And so so that’s where Customer Experience Management. Roll into your second question about a CX strategy. I don’t think CX needs a strategy of its own. I think, often, and I’ve seen it myself, we’re having a discrete separate strategy for CX is at cross purposes with the business strategy and the marketing slash branding strategy. I think CX is an enabler. Cx management is an enabler of those strategies. It’s like, if you have the two rails, I like a book a train track. One is business strategy. And one is brand strategy. CX, a CX management program would be the train that rides those rails and delivers and enables the delivery of those two strategies. So you’d need a strategic plan, something that says five years from now, we’re going to be better than we were five years ago, and, you know, roadmap for expanding your capacity and capability and your customer understanding and those kinds of things. But I wouldn’t, I would put, I wouldn’t call it a strategy is too often, that strategy for CX is untied, disconnected, and sometimes at cross purposes, competes with the business. And you know, that when you try to get your CX stuff done, and the business is like, yeah, not interested, I’m fine. I’m hitting my KPIs. I’m gonna make my bonus. CX is a distraction. I can’t. I don’t.

Jeff Sheehan 12:59
You know, well, we need a strategy. Well, if you if you canvass the organization a little bit, and you do what I call a CX audit, and then you talk to your contact center folks and sales folks and marketing folks in it. And you really understand, like, where do we collect customer feedback data? And what do we do with it? And are we burdening our customers with our policy stuff? What we’re, what we’re talking about are the frictions that are avoidable, unnecessary, they’re irritating. And, oh, by the way, they also cost the organization money, every phone call costs something, right, having staff to pick up the phone cost something, you know, it weakens the bond it counter intuitively you think more contacts is a stronger relationship, but not for everything you may be for medical treatment, but not for, you know, getting an estimate on a commodity, right? So, so you have to really understand your business and your operating model, and then attack those things with your CX management program. And they’re very tactical, I mean, they’re very specific tactical things that don’t require a grand strategy, per se. And oftentimes, they integrate nicely with other efforts. So if your contact center is trying to do some cost savings, and they were trying to reduce the cost of outbound calls, you know, here’s an area you can examine and say, Well, based on feedback, the outbound calls aren’t working. So let’s stop doing that for a month and see what happens. Do we convert more sales? Do we get better scores and satisfaction does? It’s it, that’s not it, you might say the strategic and a long term, you know, lots of pennies in the fountain, eventually you get you fill the fountain, but but but you don’t need six months of planning to sort those things out. You might need a lot of meetings to figure out the prioritization of effort, because

Anne Bibb 14:48
so how, how along those lines, how do you actually recognize that there is an issue in this area of your organization?

Jeff Sheehan 14:58
I think the best way is If you’re if you’re listening to your customer, the outside in customer feedback data, and it will come in through a lot of places. If you’re listening to that externally, outside, and customers are telling you, where you’re broken, where you irritate them, where you disappointed them, where you know why they left I was going to buy, but then I abandoned my shopping cart because I Googled Walmart and I saw that I could save five bucks on the same thing, right? Or I Googled Amazon and I went there, whatever it might be. So there’s that outside and feedback. But also, there’s, this is a great area where employee experience meshes incredibly well with customer experience management, ask the folks that are talking to customers every day, you’ve got somebody in sales, you’ve got somebody answering the phone, you’ve got somebody dealing with complaints, you’ve got somebody responding to web forms, you’ve got somebody updating the mobile app, and putting in the information about the the latest updates, and also reading the feedback and ratings and reviews on the App Store’s. You’ve got reviews, this kind of neck. And I think, generally speaking, people shy away from the negative stuff, particularly in a CX management programs, where scores is the goal, right? We’re serving and scoring because we have to have an NPS because our competitor has an NPS and but I’m not a big fan of that. I think that’s a waste of money. I think if you listen to and embrace the constructive feedback, and you’ve got a chorus of customers, and employees telling you, we suck here, we could do a better job here. And many, many of these employees are passionate about fixing things. And they will tell you what they think needs to be done in a very specific way. And if you embrace that, you could be a phenomenally improved organization. And I don’t mean just in terms of happy employees, happy customers, which is wonderful. But also those operational indicators of cost and revenue and conversion, and all those other metrics of business.

Anne Bibb 17:09
So you know, you mentioned technology earlier. And there are a lot of what first of all, let’s, technology has grown significantly, and moved by leaps and bounds since 2020. And it continues to do so. But do you think that technology can actually help with the customer experience?

Jeff Sheehan 17:38
Oh, absolutely. Yes. Unequivocally? Yes. The thing that I’ve seen, I think it’s everywhere, right, you see it, as they said, you know, this sort of narrative around CX is largely driven by the powerful tech companies and their marketing engines. But when you get into organizations, you know, oftentimes the technology still has to integrate with the existing technology stack, there’s always these other bits and pieces to deal with. You have to have people that understand the technology and how to get the most value out of it. The technology is still expensive, and most of it is software as a service. I think it’s generally what we’re talking about. But it still requires, you know, an investment. And I think that’s where I fall back on the purpose people and process pillars, right? Why are you buying this technology? What is the problem you’re solving? What is the you know, are your future proofing your organization? Do you have a roadmap to go from implementation day, and pilot all the way through, you’re five years from now, when you’re when you’re using the full, you’re in full bloom using everything that that platform may be able to help you do. There’s a lot of noise about technology. And you know, we hear about AI and all this kind of stuff. And oftentimes, these tools have aI built in, and you don’t have to get on some buzzword bandwagon, you can just really have to be more focused on what you’re trying to achieve. And I find that the IT department generally is and that the business units generally aren’t. Generally the business units want the buzzwords and the IT group is more practical and pragmatic. And I just think that technology is not the magic beans, silver bullet, you know, one size fits all, I really strongly believe you’ve got to have the purpose and established the people in terms of skill sets and capacity and the processes to integrate into the business as it works today. Because oftentimes these tools create change, they create disruptive change, you know, COVID for example, made virtually everyone’s contact center and help desk and service desk go virtual, and we hear a lot about working from home. But I think part of that conversation is you know the technology enablers working from home, as that helps the employee expect against or or or not.

Anne Bibb 20:02
I’ve been working remotely since the mid 90s. And what has happened since then to the mid aughts and the teens, and now now in the 20s, is crazy to see the changes and where we’ll be in one year, five years, 10 years is going to be completely different. Because it continuously, just working remotely involves much less the technology, the actual culture, customer experience, the overall human experience in the workplace is constantly evolving. Yeah, it’s

Jeff Sheehan 20:43
true. And, you know, when you throw the fact that you know, culturally, you know, what, when I was living in Ireland, working from home was a very new concept. It was it was very new to the Irish culture, and it wasn’t immediately embraced. Now, you know, after a while, and you realize how many hours you get back into your life each week by not having to commute or get dressed up and powdered up and all that to get in the car to go commute to work. You know, the clothing, you can wear

Anne Bibb 21:12
a much powder are you wearing today, Jeff?

Jeff Sheehan 21:17
I never tell my beauty secrets. Never share. I’m very stingy about that kind of.

Anne Bibb 21:25
I respect man respect.

Jeff Sheehan 21:29
Appreciate the ask though, I take it as a big compliment. But but you know, once once you begin to see once people begin to see like how flexible like I could walk my dog at lunch, I could go to my child’s you know, school event, I could, this or that, right? I could look after my own health with a yoga session or, or a chat with a friend or something. Things that you couldn’t do necessarily at work. But it wasn’t embrace wholeheartedly at first, it was it was an evolution of understanding, oh, this could work out for me and for the employer. And now you’re seeing companies that have spent literally in Ireland and Dublin, there’s a there’s a there’s a part of the city where every every a number of big software companies Facebook built a 5000 employee campus, Google spent millions and millions of euro on this beautiful campus. HubSpot spent 75 million euro on their European headquarters, another tried to grab drag people back into these buildings, these shiny temples of you know, of their brand, and but people are very comfortable working elsewhere.

Anne Bibb 22:35
So going kind of back to what both of us should do. Right? We are both consultants, we both have our own consulting and advisory firms. And we both specialize and work heavily in the CX space. So what is the benefit of hiring a CX consultant?

Jeff Sheehan 22:55
Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think I think there’s several benefits. One is, you know, you get a very good outside perspective. And that outside perspective also brings with it lots of other experiences with other clients. So you may have seen this issue and treated it in another engagement, you may be working in a similar industry, you may be working with a competitor, which can be a little delicate, but you have an authority, you have some insight. So you can bring all that, from an outside perspective to a client who can use, you could use that the benefit of that, like you’re there to solve a problem. And oftentimes, customers have very clear what what the problem is, and oftentimes not just clear about what the problem is, but the past, the things to do to fix it. But what’s missing is a commitment or a or a or a consensus or a or the time or capacity or skill set. So all those things can be brought to bear using console. The other thing is cost and time, right. So you have an expertise, you can jump in for an hourly fee or a flat fee, or whatever your fees are structure. If you’re not a full time employee, you don’t have to assimilate to the culture, but you can you can accelerate time to solve to solving things and you can, you can you can do it in many, many cases much more cost effectively. The other thing is skills, like a lot of consultants have the latest skills. And oftentimes, you know, people are engaging in consultants to fill the skill gap. So whether it’s a technology skill gap or regulatory compliance skill gap design thinking kind of, you know, things some sort of low density, high impact skill set that you want immediate access to consultants are great for that. And then I would say lastly, is this sort of sociology. Reason, right. Consultants are not bought into the corporate A political stuff, whatever that is, right? There’s, there’s no agenda. There’s no favoritism, there’s no ass kissing, there’s no fear of not getting promoted or, you know, fear of failure. And, you know, oftentimes, consultants can be used as a good scapegoat. Right.

Anne Bibb 25:18
I’m going to add one more in there was that fractional, I’ve seen a huge uptick, not just in the CX area, but an operational, fractional CEO, fractional CTO. All kinds of fractional needs, especially for startups and mid markets recently acquired, so on and so forth. The fractional need of the C suite and even BD, team members is huge right now. So that fractional need falls into that category, I think, what do you agree with that?

Jeff Sheehan 25:54
I do? Yeah, I think I think it’s, you know, sort of cover that in the cost, you know, time thing, but But yeah, to engage a consultant as a fractional CX leader, for example, where customer experience executive, absolutely a powerful use it as a consultant.

Anne Bibb 26:13
Last Last, last, but certainly not least, Jeff, if somebody is wanting to follow in your footsteps, you know, they see what you’ve accomplished over the years, and where you are today. And they’re sitting here watching and saying this, this is, this is what I want to do. This is where I want to be, what would you tell them today?

Jeff Sheehan 26:34
That is a really, really great question. And I’m humbled by the question. I think I think what I would say, is, I love there’s a quote from Steve Jobs that I love, and I’m paraphrasing, but basically, he says, you know, and you move through your life, there’s these points in your life experience, that really don’t make sense. You really can’t connect the dots until some years after, and you have to look back. And then you can say, Okay, well, I got laid off from this job. But that opened the door for this job, which opened the door for this job, which, which was the reason I met this person who gave me an opportunity. And it’s really in hindsight, like, like, like, now, this season in my work life, I can look back and really connect those dots. So the thing that I would say is, a lot of people, particularly young people think as I did, that, there’s a career ladder. And it’s this very linear structure, that you go up a logical set of rungs to get to the place you want to go to as a career. And I don’t know too many people who’ve ever done their work life, that way, that clear ladder climbing kind of progression. Most people I know, we work where we ended up. And meaning there’s a lot of dots in your past that when you look back, you can actually connect, you know, you may have left the workforce to have children, you may have, you know, done this or done that. And then you look back and go, Wow, this all adds up. So my answer to your question would be round out your career with as much experience as you can, as you can. Being a generalist and having a broad set of experiences in business, understanding how things get sold, how things get marketed, how finance works, how logistics works, what’s operational excellence, technology, all these dimensions and aspects are crucial to a CX leaders effectiveness, you really have to understand that.

Anne Bibb 28:32
So Jeff, if somebody wanted to reach out to you, what is the best way for them to do so

Jeff Sheehan 28:39
the best way is my LinkedIn page. And here’s the secret that I find that enough people paying attention to. In my LinkedIn page, there’s contact is little in the headline, nearby photo is a little link that contact and it will be my email address and my phone number. So it’s all there on my LinkedIn page, you can reach me on InMail, you can reach me in a message if we’re already connected, and you’ve got my email address and my phone number that’s on LinkedIn, it’s absolutely the best place to go to find me.

Anne Bibb 29:11
Perfect. And as always, we will have a link to that in the description below and on the screen. So you will see that. And Jeff, thank you for joining us this week. Really appreciate you being here.

Jeff Sheehan 29:25
Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thanks so much for the invitation. And I appreciate it. I had a fun time. I hope whoever’s listening enjoys something out of it. And if there’s any feedback, I would love to hear back from you. You know, as is, as is appropriate for CX conversations of any kind, getting some feedback, even if it’s disagreement with anything that’s happened to say or anything like that. All too eager to engage folks with that conversation.

Anne Bibb 29:52
There you go, everybody, please. He’s open to the door. Reach out on LinkedIn feedback, good and bad for AI Neither of us as you all see, we have taken your feedback each week in order to make this episode and every episode hereafter better and we look forward to seeing you again next week. As we wrap the episode up, 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 company website, remote and our hosts website, Anne Please don’t forget to like, subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app 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, thank you for joining us. We hope to see you again next week.

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