Annette Franz 0:00
Look at three of the principles, people before profits, people before products and people before metrics. It’s really about putting people first and putting everything else second, because if we take care of the people, the numbers will come.
Anne Bibb 0:12
Welcome to unexpected journey, the show where each week top professionals share work wisdom and life lessons about their careers and what they have learned about human experience in the workplace.
Anne Bibb 0:24
I’m your host, Anne Bibb. This week, we have a net fronds. She is the founder and CEO of CX journey. A net is an internationally recognized customer experience, thought leader, coach, keynote speaker and author of customer understanding three ways to put the customer in customer experience and at the heart of your business. And her second book, built to win. Designing a customer centric culture that drives value for your business was released on March 22 2022. Before we begin, don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments below. Now, let’s get started. Welcome, Annette.
Annette Franz 1:15
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for that awesome introduction. I’m looking forward to our conversation. We’ve known each other for a while, right? So it’s
Anne Bibb 1:22
wild. We’ve known each other for years. Now, this is one of those weird friendships that we, we I’ve heard of people like meeting on Facebook or MySpace, but we met on Twitter. Yes, yeah. And I may or may not have been a stalker fan for a while.
Annette Franz 1:42
I was gonna say, Wait, where’d she go with this?
Anne Bibb 1:47
You know, you responded. And then we started talking and develop this CX friendship. And so I think I dropped my stalker title that. I think so
Annette Franz 1:57
too. I think MCX friendship is like family, right? We’ve known each other for forever, it just seems like exactly like family. So
Anne Bibb 2:05
exactly. And I think that what really drew me to you in the first place, is that we both have this innate feeling that the employee experience is really the foundational need. And what if you don’t have a good employee experience, you’re not going to have a good customer experience. So as much as we sit here, and we say, and even your books, or have titles that are about customer centricity and things along those lines, if you sit down and read them, yes, you talk about the importance of employee experience inside the book, and what that means.
Annette Franz 2:47
Absolutely. And you know, what’s so funny about that? So I started my career. It’s been 31 years now at JD Power and Associates 31 years ago. And when I was four, that’s always my story. As I
Anne Bibb 2:58
said, I was right there when I was like, I wasn’t at JD Power, but I was four at the same time. So we’re good.
Annette Franz 3:05
And I would go, I was on the proprietary research side, and I would go out and talk to clients and potential clients about listening to customers, but then we’d say, Hey, we’ve got to listen to our employees, too. Why aren’t we listening to employees? And they be like, we’re listening to customers now. Employees later, and I keep saying, I’ve had this conversation many times over the last two years or so. And it’s like, well, it’s later. It’s too late now. Right? You know, because look at the mess that the employee situation is in right now. So.
Anne Bibb 3:33
So, along those lines, how does the employee journey impact the customer journey?
Annette Franz 3:40
Yeah, great question. So there’s a couple couple things, right, there’s this thing called the spillover effect, right? It’s the tendency of the way that one person feels and what they do, how that impacts another person, the person in front of them, in this case, the employee and the customer. So if you think about having a frustrated and burnout and stressed out employee over here, how do you think they’re going to act? When they’re interacting or behave or talk or, you know, what’s their, what’s their mood going to be when they’re interacting with the customer? And that’s it, right? I mean, that’s not going to be fun. If you’re having a bad day, your customer is going to have a bad experience for sure. And then I also say, you know, it without employees, we’ve got no one to design to build, to sell to implement install to deliver to service, you know, so we don’t need customers, right? That’s the whole point of it. Right? So, so employees are critical to the customer experience, employee experience is critical to the customer experience. And that’s why I do the math.
Anne Bibb 4:39
You know, we talk about and I want to back up a little bit because I do want to go a little bit deeper into the whole employee centric approach. But if we back up a little bit on the like, the titles of your book, because that’s what draws people in and we start thinking about customer centric organizations and customer centric approaches. Yeah, um, How important is customer understanding in building? That customer centric organization?
Annette Franz 5:08
Yeah, it’s it’s critical. It’s critical. So in the book built, when I talk about the 10, foundational principles, customer understanding is one of those and I call customer understanding the cornerstone of customer centricity. There’s this diagram that I have in the book, it’s a diagram of a cornerstone, right? Think of think about a construction, you know, a building, right? There’s the cornerstone, and every other stone is laid in reference to that stone, right? The foundation is your culture. And then you set that cornerstone, and everything else is laid in reference to that. And in the in that graphic, I’ve got customer understanding here. I’m doing it on my hand, but you can’t see my hand, you’ve got, you’ve got customer understanding here at the cornerstone. And then you’ve got my definition of being customer centric, which is no discussions, no decisions, no designs without bringing in that customer voice. So flowing out from that Cornerstone is the discussion, the decisions, the designs, innovation, all those different kinds of things. And so that’s, that’s the importance of customer understanding, right is, you can’t have a customer centric culture without bringing that customer voice into everything that you do. And without asking, how’s it going to make her feel? What how is it going to impact her? What value is it going to bring for her? You know, all of those kinds of things? What problems will it solve for her? And we only know that when we hear from the customer, and so many folks think they’re customer centric, but what they really aren’t, because they don’t they, you know, they do surveys, we do surveys, but they don’t actually
Anne Bibb 6:36
surveys, we have so many surveys,
Annette Franz 6:39
many Yes. But then they don’t do anything with it. They don’t share it. They don’t socialize it, they don’t operationalize it. And so, so they’re really not customer centric.
Anne Bibb 6:46
So you just said that you can’t have customer, you can’t have customer centricity without customer understanding. So how do the principles of customer understanding and building a customer centric culture tie into each other?
Annette Franz 7:02
So customer understanding has three parts, right, it’s listened, characterize and empathize. So those are the three ways that we understand customers, nobody’s taken up taking me up on the challenge to win I’ve said, what else what other ways I’m ready for it, but those are, so listen is really about asking, and that’s surveys and the different ways that we ask customers for feedback. And it’s also about listening, whether it’s social media, online reviews, however, customers want to leave feedback, Voice of the Customer through the employee, all of that. And then it’s also about the breadcrumbs of data that customers leave behind, when they interact and transact with the with the brand. And then we marry those together, we have a really great picture of who the customer is, where they’re buying, why they’re buying, when they’re buying all the things that we need to know and how, how well we’re performing against their expectations. Then the second thing is characterize where we do the work, we do the research, we go out, we talk to customers, and we build out our customer personas, really understand who are they? What problems are they trying to solve? What jobs are they trying to do? What are their expectations, those kinds of things. And then the third way, is, empathize, which is around the journey mapping process, which includes the journey maps, current state, future state, and then service blueprints. So all three of those things that when we do all three of those things produce a lot of data. But data is just data until we do something with it. And when we do something with it, we end up with some great benefits for the organization. And one of those benefits is a customer centric culture where we’re showing our customers that they’ve been heard that they that they’re valued, and we’re taking their feedback, and we’re using it to make changes, we’re using it to design and deliver the experience that they expect those kinds of things. And so that’s how they’re that’s how they’re very closely tied in together.
Anne Bibb 8:46
But how can you be or create a company centric or a customer centric culture? And also be employee centric?
Annette Franz 8:56
Great question. Well, it goes back to what we were just talking about how the employee experience drives the customer experience. So one of the foundational principles of that I write about in the book is that employees come more first. And I remember when I wrote that my editor said, is that a typo? I said, No. It is employees come more first, it comes from that comes from a book that was written by Howie Rosenbluth of Rosenbluth international travel, the travel agency, he wrote a book called The customer comes second. And in that he’s he said, if we’re going to put the customer first, then we have to put the employee more first. Because again, going back to what I said before, if you don’t have an employee experience, if you don’t have I’m sorry, you don’t have a customer experience if you don’t have employees to actually build that right. And so he has
Anne Bibb 9:43
to answer the phone. Yeah, exactly. He has to service the customer.
Annette Franz 9:47
Somebody has to make the product. Somebody has to design the product. So yeah, all of that is so critical to so you really can’t be customer centric unless you focus on the employees more first and quite honestly, I could have just called it people centric, because that’s really the bottom line is, that’s what it’s all about. If you look at three of the principles, people, before profits, people before products and people before metrics, it’s really about putting people first and putting everything else second, because if we take care of the people, the numbers will come.
Anne Bibb 10:17
One of the things that I’m noticing today, and I’m curious if you’re saying it to literally just had this conversation earlier, that I have concerns with what I’m seeing in a lot of, especially tech right now. It was an article that all of the layoffs are happening, because organizations, companies are trying to take back their, you know, take take everything back so that it’s no longer going to be an employee’s hold, is going to be back on the company driven. And we have fought for years to have things like customer and employee experience, a chief experience officer and experience management, employee engagement, we have fought for years to get to that point. And now we see this happening and salaries starting to go back down, saying no longer needing an employee engagement team. And it feels like they’re trying to reverse the trend that we fought so hard for especially over the last five to 10 years. Yeah.
Annette Franz 11:29
And that’s, it’s sad to hear that. So there’s a couple of things. First of all, it’s you can’t do that anymore. That ship has sailed, it’s too late. You can’t pull all that back. I mean, we learned during the pandemic, that the employee experience is just as important and even more important, putting employees more first, then the customer experience, right. So we don’t have employees to deal with this onslaught of customers into and to make more products into service and all of that, what’s what’s the point of it, and employees really stepped up and said, stepped up in their way and said, We’re not taking the shit anymore, we need to get paid, right, we need to get paid well, we need to have some work life balance. If I want to work from home, I get to work wherever I want, you know, that kind of thing. So I think it’s a really short sighted, I think it’s really short sighted for companies to think that they can pull back on that now because the cat is out of the bag. The other thing is, and maybe the tech industry won’t like hearing me say this, but I’ve been in the tech industry long enough, I worked for a client or work for a company where I was their West Coast client strategy person and dealt with the tech companies out here and, and the HR folks in those tech companies, and they’re very much me two companies. So one starts to lay off and next one says, oh, we should do that, too. Oh, yeah, we’re gonna
Anne Bibb 12:49
do the reverse of what happened during the pandemic, one starts to hire we all have dire.
Annette Franz 12:54
Yeah. And so I think it There’s number one, there’s that. And number two, I think being opportunistic and saying, you know, maybe we hired some dead wood. And when we hired like, crazy three years ago, we need to get rid of that dead wood, we need an excuse to do it. Oh, look, my neighbor’s laying off 10,000 People in the layoff 10,000 People do that seems like the cache thing to do right now. So I think there’s definitely some of that going on. i And and what I see is that it’s a lot of these layoffs to very company centric, right, and the way it’s being done, and why it’s being done. And so I think you’re in that regard, we’re definitely stepping away from taking care of the people and making sure that they’re that they’re, you know, it first and foremost, for sure.
Anne Bibb 13:38
So what advice do you have for those organizations that believe that being customer centric, means not being employee centric? I’m just gonna say I’m on and then you got something
Annette Franz 13:53
sorely mistaken in that regard. Right. It is I do I keep repeating this, you know, I keep repeating it over and over, not just here today, but in other venues and other conversations is, if you don’t, okay, so to be customer centric, you have to, you know, no discussions, no decisions, though designs without bringing in that customer voice. But who’s who’s having those discussions? Who’s making those decisions? who’s designing what your employees are? Of course, I mean, yeah, you started the company, but you’re not the one who’s doing all those things, right? You hire people to do that. And if you don’t take care of them, they’re gonna leave you know, and and I always throw out is a really great example. bob chapman with Barry Wehmiller wrote a book everybody ever everybody matters, right? I’m gonna get that wrong. I don’t know why cuz I throw that book out all the time, but everybody matters. And he just had this epiphany that we can’t we have to take care of our people. The story kind of goes along these lines of, you know, we have we, you know, employees come to work every morning and they’re in X mood. At the end of the day, when we send them home, they either need to be in X mood, or x minus one. In other words better than what they showed up with, you know, this morning. And so or maybe it’s plus one because we
Anne Bibb 15:13
think it’s plus one
Annette Franz 15:16
plus one, to bring them down. If plus one if you had a great day minus one if they had a bad day, but but we don’t want to send them home in worse shape than what they showed up in this morning. Because then they go home, they take it out on their family and their spouse and they drink too much, or they whatever they you know, their own well being is it goes downhill. And so he basically said, I have to look at these people, my employees and say, You know what you’re in my and uses this word span of care for 810 12 hours a day, as a leader, I need to take care of you, I need to take care of the people and not view my people as cogs in the wheel to management success. And I think once you do that, and you have that realization, and you have that epiphany, it only goes uphill from there, and what a difference it has made in his companies. And, and, you know, also for his employees, and ultimately, for his customers as well. So I definitely use that example in built win. And I have a couple of different examples in there about leaders who really take care of their employees, and it shows for both the people and for their customers for their employees and the customers.
Anne Bibb 16:27
That to me sounds like an organization that has a strong company culture.
Annette Franz 16:35
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And a strong leader who’s committed to building that culture, right? And not just letting the culture run amok and go wherever it needs to go, or wants to go.
Anne Bibb 16:47
What would you say? Are the benefits of having a strong company culture like that?
Annette Franz 16:52
Yeah. strong, healthy culture has a ton of benefits. And when I think about strong, healthy culture, I certainly not I’ll just call it a people centric culture, right? I think, when we when people know. And I’ll say people, because I’m talking about both customers and employees, when they feel like they’re listened to, they’re heard, they’re valued, their contributions matter, the things that they do all of those things. There’s, there’s a whole list of both human and, you know, business benefits when it comes to that type of a healthy culture. And there’s a ton of research out there to show that when you have that type of a strong and healthy culture, the outcomes are great for the employees, the outcomes are great for your customers, and then the business wins too, because it becomes you know, there’s a strong employer and talent branding, there’s, you know, shorten recruiting cycles, there’s higher customer lifetime value, because customers stay and they buy more and they buy other products, there’s, you know, they see an uptick, uptick in growth, revenue, profitability, it’s a competitive advantage to have that type of a healthy and strong and healthy culture, right to have that customer centric culture. It’s, it benefits, everyone along the way, and ultimately, the business. And that’s why, you know, with the book, you know, I titled I titled the book to designing a customer centric culture that drives value for the business, I did that because, first of all, I didn’t want to be redundant, and say drive value for the customer. But I did it because it’s about outcomes. And if we can tie that type of a culture to business outcomes, it really just makes more sense for everybody, especially for leaders who are kind of not really getting it right.
Anne Bibb 18:32
And not being just an author, you’re also a consultant, do you have an example of where you went into an organization, and were able to help them recognize where that ESX was struggling and turn it around and have that positive impact on CX?
Annette Franz 18:51
Oh, gosh, every single, every single, you know, so when I first started working with clients, I interview the executive team, I’ll interview a sampling of customers, I’m sorry, employees across the board across departments, and then a sampling of customers as well. And when I first start working with these new clients, they sort of the CEO sort of has in his head, oh, here’s what I think the issues are, right? Here’s, here’s why we, here’s why we’re bringing you on board, here’s why we’re engaging with you. And even before I do, you know, we do any kind of customer understanding or employee understand any doing just these interviews to give them a baseline assessment. It’s a big eye opener for them. And so even just from that point, we start to do a lot of work in obviously, in my recommendations, I’ll include the employee understanding and the customer understanding, I will focus on the culture as well and making sure that they’ve got the core values and they’re doing the work there to establish the culture that they want to, but yet every single every single client that I work with, that is an aha moment for them. I had a client in Virginia, where I was sitting in their leadership meeting after I did these interviews and you know, came to present the findings, and that the gentleman sitting next to me says, On the slide where I’m talking about employee experience and driving customer experience, because, you know, I never really thought about that. Thanks for saying that I get it now. And it’s like, whoa. And not and he’s not the first one, right. So there are others too. So it definitely is eye opening to show that. Yeah, and I’ve done that for years, you know, 20 years ago, I remember working with the client, software client, where we were just, we were just at the time doing surveys, surveying their employees and surveying their customers. And I tried to make sure that that we could make that, you know, make that equation or connection between the two. And what ended up happening was customers came back and they were complaining about account management and how painful account management was. And over on the employee side, in the employee surveys, when you cut the data by the different departments, the account management team was the least satisfied, they had the most frustration, they had the most issues. That was, you know, probably a huge aha, for everybody around to go wow, that how did that story just fall out so beautifully, but it did. And I think that’s, you know, the truth is in the data out there, it really is,
Anne Bibb 21:12
with the employee experience, employee centric and customer centric organizations, communication is a really big part of that. And, you know, how important and are, let me let me rephrase that, how important is effective communication, both internally and externally, when you’re building this type of organization?
Annette Franz 21:35
Yeah, I think, here’s, here’s how I look at communication, it is the most overlooked part of the customer experience. And I think it’s most overlooked part of the employee experience, too. I think that, you know, I, I, I’ve been doing customer interviews for a client this week, and one of the biggest issues that has come up with with this client has been communication. And it’s not just communication, it’s being not being proactive, not following up, you know, giving me details that are relevant, you know, those kinds of things. I think that’s so important. And it’s the same for employees as well. And the interesting thing is, is, in this particular, you know, I mentioned that I, when I first start working with a client, I’ll do the executive employee and customer interviews. One of my recommendations for them was both employee education in customer education. And both of those have to do with how we communicate to our employees about what lies ahead, what, what we’re doing our vision, you know, our strategy, all of those kinds of things. But also like when we when we have this customer experience vision to and how we’re going to deliver that we need to train our people on that they need to know what it is that we’re expecting of them. And on the customer side, if we, you know, if we’ve got a new product, or we’ve got a new service, we’ve got to help them understand why they should use it and how it should be used. And if we make changes, if we implement changes, we’ve got to close the loop with them and let them know, to reset expectations. So communication is such an important part of both the employee experience and the customer experience in a variety of ways I cannot emphasize, I cannot emphasize that enough. So very important.
Anne Bibb 23:14
And I agree, I run into communication issues, more than anything else. And one of the things that I’m constantly saying is a lack of communication strategy, that that includes not having a decision making matrix, not having a RACI for projects, people not knowing what their role is being hired into the wrong role or being hired into the right role. But it was the wrong person having the right person in the wrong role. All kinds of communication issues. Yeah. So what is your advice for creating a communication strategy that really ensures alignment and clarity at all levels of the organization.
Annette Franz 24:02
So here’s a tool that I propose that you use both for employees and for customers. And during that, because you’re going to lay out whatever the interaction is, whatever journey you’re mapping, and you’re going to have to put in there, add a swim lane for it, if you have to add a swim lane for communication. One of the things that you’ll find when you’re doing this journey mapping is you’ll find gaps, oh, we should have said this here, but we set it here or we don’t say anything at all. We don’t have any kind of fault. We don’t have any kind of notification. We don’t have any messaging upfront, we don’t have, you will learn so much by during that being whatever that interaction is, and especially making sure you focus on that communication that you’ll fill those gaps very quickly.
Anne Bibb 24:49
You know, that’s something that I’ve done. I can’t even tell you how many journey maps I’ve done. I don’t think I’ve ever put communication as a swim lane in that I have documented the code mean touchpoints. Right? I haven’t ever put communication as a swim lane. And I think that’s a genius idea.
Annette Franz 25:07
Yeah. Because I think people forget about it. I think I really do think people forget about it.
Anne Bibb 25:11
Talking about journey mapping now. I find it interesting. How many people in customer success and customer experience have never done a customer journey map? Yeah,
Annette Franz 25:25
I mean, we could have a whole separate conversation on journey mapping to go through all of that, I will say one, one thing, get the book customer understanding, because in that book, I tell you exactly how to do it, right, all the steps, I have a six step process from maps to outcomes. And it tells you the book I’ve written to tell you exactly how to do it. I think you have to educate yourself, however you do it, whether it’s my book or somewhere else, but you have to educate yourself and do it properly. Right. I mean, I think the most important things to remember are the most important thing to remember is that you have to do it with customers. And you’ve got to do it from the customer viewpoint. If you do it with employees, you’ve got to go out and validate with customers, it’s fine to do that. But I actually prefer just to map with customers, that way, we will never, never be in doubt as to whose perspective we’re mapping from. And we always have to capture what the customer is doing thinking and feeling. If you’re not capturing that in, you know, some point A to point B, we’re not looking at the entire lifecycle all at once, right, we’re looking at some point A to point B, if you’re not capturing those three things, you’re not joining the app. And I think that’s and now we’re going to add a communication swim lane to it. So so doing thinking, feeling and talking and messaging. I think that’s I think that’s critical. So I think there’s, there’s the number one thing that I think I want to convey here is to really educate yourself. So you do it right. Otherwise, there, I’ve seen so many examples of maps that really aren’t going to take you anywhere, you know, they’re just, they’re lifecycle maps, or they’re, they just don’t have enough information, enough level of detail to help you understand and then redesign anything.
Anne Bibb 27:06
So is there a, an approved template for those that are starting out that you recommend for doing your first customer journey map?
Annette Franz 27:16
Yeah, I would say I would say, it looks exactly like that. It’s going to be three, three swim lanes going across that say, what’s the customer doing? What’s the customer thinking? What’s the customer feeling? Thinking is all about? What are the goals at each of those steps along the along the way? I would also add, who are the people that they’re interacting with? And what are the systems and documents that they’re using? Along the way as well. I would also add a swim lane for channel. So we know where they are, where they’re on the app, were they on the phone? Were they on the website, where were they? And then I like to capture time? How long did each one of those steps take, you know, so that we have an understanding of expectations versus what actually happens. So that’s, those are probably the big, big swimlanes that I have in most of my offices, time channel, systems and documents, people customer doing thinking and feeling and now we’re going to add that communication lane as well. So
Anne Bibb 28:17
what advice do you have for individuals that are new to the customer experience, arena, but really want to become experts or learn a lot where,
Anne Bibb 28:33
you know, obviously we’re recommending your books, which is is great, but they want to do more? They want to learn more? Where do they go? What is what is your advice from the queen of CX? This is, you know, we’re gonna put your contact information in later. But where else? Oh, I want to be a net?
Annette Franz 28:53
Well, so a lot of it comes from, you know, hands on when you’re, when you’re 31 years in, it’s but I still do go and look and read and learn elsewhere, right? So there, I think there’s a couple of couple of different things, get to know some of the top, you know, thought leaders in this space, most of them have written books. So definitely take a look at those books, I would go to the cxpa, I would become a member of the cxpa. They’ve got great resources. There’s a great discussion forum where you can ask a question about anything and everything with CX related. And like I said earlier, CX friends are family, right? And we all want to help each other out. So what a great place to go and ask people who are going through the same thing to help out. I think there’s there’s a lot of other sites out there that have that aggregate a lot of the customer experience content like customer think CX network. techtarget has CMSWire a lot of great content on all of these sites. You just have to get out there and look for it and read it sign up for their newsletters. I get a ton of those newsletters in my inbox, you know, every every morning so so there’s Probably some of the hotter you know, media sources out there where you can find pretty much all of this folks that I say our CX thought leaders are writing for one or the other of these platforms as well. So you’ll find their content there as well.
Anne Bibb 30:14
For everybody out there. Why would somebody reached out to you? And how would they reach out to you?
Annette Franz 30:22
Well, my favorite thing is, I’m happy to help. So I am always happy to help. So if you’ve got questions, I had no pressure, no selling no anything. I’m, you know, I’m having been in this space for as long as I’ve been and all of that I’ve seen a lot and always happy to share it, which is why, you know, I write my blog, I’ve written my books and everything, because I just want to, you know, get it out there. So, I have my website, CX dash journey.com. I have my website and net fronds.com. And I’m always happy to connect with folks on LinkedIn. I’ve met some, you know, amazing people on social media. So thank you for that. So always happy to connect, connect with folks out there.
Anne Bibb 31:03
And guys, links are below for everybody here on YouTube. For those who are listening only. I’m glad that Annette said what those links were because you can’t see how fabulous we are today. But that’s more incentive for you to come and watch on YouTube next time. I love it. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. And for everybody else. Thank you for joining us, and we will see 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 evolution.com and our hosts website and bibb.com. 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 for another episode of unexpected journey.