May 8, 2018
by Carla Johnson
I’m nerdy enough to say that I’ve been a fan of customer experience since I can remember being a customer. I’m sure it’s because I grew up in a small town, and how people did business was just as important as what business they were in. The world was too small for anyone to mistreat employees or customers. Word would get around fast.
But great customer experience isn’t a result of being paranoid about what people say about you or your brand. It comes from a place of deep empathy for your customers.
The men and women I saw run businesses as a child understood something that today’s companies are re-learning: A business’s relationship with is customers is more than how long people have to wait to buy something or saying, “Have a nice day!” at the end of an interaction.
It’s about delivering value and delight throughout the entire experience, whether they become a customer today or you nurture them toward conversion in the future.
Crafting the experience
When it comes to having anauthoritative voice on and off the stage, Jeanne Bliss always comes to mind. She’s smart, savvy and has built the customer experience profession from the ground up. Who better to share their insight about standing out in this profession?
What was the biggest personal fear about speaking that you had to overcome? How long did it take you to feel confident as a speaker?
I don’t think I was ever ‘afraid’ of speaking – I saw it as an exciting craft that was to be my calling. Because of my roles as a Chief Customer Officer for nearly 25 years before I became a professional speaker, where every incarnation of my role included speaking to many different groups inside the organization, I was quite comfortable in my own skin in front of others. Thrived on it. When I finally gave my first speech (for Lands’ End) at a Direct Marketing Association conference in 1985 I thought I was ready…and I was…but still needed polish. For me it was about the polish. Gary Comer, the founder of Lands’ End was actually my first speaking coach. He had been an award-winning writer at Young & Rubicam Advertising Agency before starting Lands’ End, and he said to me, “Jeanne, write like you talk. And talk like you talk.” So, from the beginning I was my own “Popeye – I am what I am”.
What I needed to polish were my ability to move from the smaller audience of a break out to be a keynote speaker. That was for me, the big target to hit. Standing on a stage with 1,000 chairs or 500 or whatever number staring back at you. And knowing that you were the kick-off person for someone’s event. That for me is when I get nervous – I want to always deliver 1000 percent for my client. This is their big day that they have been planning for months or years – and it’s my responsibility to take the time to get to know them and understand what’s important and deliver my message and find the warmth in the audience engagement.
My confidence to be a keynote speaker is an ongoing polishing act. Especially after I finish a new book and have to build the new onstage keynote for that book – there are a lot of nerves on that. Taking a 40,000-word book and turning it into 35 slides is a hoot! But I find the process of it exhilarating and embrace the butterflies. I find that the best times that I have on stage are when I trust myself because I’ve done the work, done the homework. Once your feet hit the stage you need to let it go and take that audience on the ride with you.
There’s a big gap in some women’s perception of how good a speaker they are now (most are better than they give themselves credit) and how good they need to be to take the stage. What advice do you have for them?
For me, I always felt that I had to earn the right to take that stage. Not because I was a woman – but to be in a place where I could carry someone’s meeting – to begin it or end it. My message is: check your gender at the door. Don’t compare yourself to others. Period. Know what you’re good at and do the work to earn the stage. But you’ve got to do the work.
What’s one piece of advice that would help make it easier for event planners to connect with great women speakers and vice versa?
Get to know us. Engage with us because we will be very generous with our time in prepping and planning and partnering with you. But don’t think of us as “women” speakers – just think of us as great speakers on our subject.
The customer champions
Including women’s voices is crucial in understanding what matters to customers. I keep going back to the influence and control women have in making decisions about what to buy. In order to deliver a stellar experience, brands need to hear the perspective of people who represent their audience. Here are 10 of the best-of-the-best voices in customer experience.
1. Jeanne Bliss, CCXP, Customer Bliss
When the rest of the world was waking up to the idea of customer experience, Jeanne was already entrenched with her work at Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. In addition to founding her company, Customer Bliss, she is the co-founder of The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). She’s held the position of the first-ever Chief Customer Officer at Lands’ End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker and Allstate Corporations. Jeanne has written three bestselling books on customer experience, with her fourth due out any moment. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
2. Jeannie Walters
One of the most popular and respected names in customer experience, Jeannie has worked with some of the world’s leading Fortune 500 companies to improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement and overall customer experience. Her TEDx talk on micro intentions has taught thousands of people why they should sweat the small stuff. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
3. Annette Franz, Founder/CEO, CX Journey, Inc.
Annette is the power behind the popular CX Journey blog. She’s an active member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association, and has been recognized as #1 in the Top 100 Big Data & Customer Experience Influencers by Onalytica and Top 10 of 2014’s 40 most active influencers in CX. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
4. Elke Wong, VP of Customer Success, PebblePost
With a career that started in online media and advertising, Elke is an unflappable people person. She loves interacting with customers and has a reputation for organizing chaos. Her career has evolved around growing long-term relationships, which requires equal parts enthusiasm and empathy for customers. She’s results-oriented and high-energy with a talent for leading by example and inspiring peak performance from her teams. Read more on LinkedIn and follow PebblePost on Twitter.
5. Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist, Keynote Speaker, Author
Blake hosts the popular “The Modern Customer” podcast, and thousands of people tune into her YouTube channel to learn how the best customers create knock-your-socks-off customer experiences. Not only is she a thought leader in Customer Experience but is also a Social media expert. She has also been recognized as one of the Top 50 Thought Leaders to follow on Twitter by IMCI. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
6. Lynn Hunsaker, Chief Customer Officer, ClearAction Continuum
Lynn’s customer experience career began over 25 years ago at Sonoco and Applied Materials. Today, she’s one of the most noted names in customer experience, having written three books on the subject as well as the first authorized online course for CXPA’s Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) exam. As CEO of ClearAction, she guides companies on how to engage employees across the company on how to make a difference for customers. Read more on LinkedIn and follow ClearAction on Twitter.
7. Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce
A strategist, advisor, and influencer, Tiffani works with companies of all sizes to build high-performing sales teams, use technology to strengthen customer relationships, and make companies grow faster. She’s contributed to Forbes and The Harvard Business Review. Tiffani also hosts the “What’s Next!” podcast, which looks at the future of business innovation and growth. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
8. Emilia D’Anzica, Founder, Customer Growth Advisors
A Top 25 Customer Success Influencer, Emilia is a customer success evangelist and blogger with deep expertise in structuring and scaling post-sales customer experiences. She’s an active speaker and her writing has covered the spectrum of customer success best practices and strategies, including voice of the customer, change management, NPS and more. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
9. Nicolle Paradise, Senior Director of Client Experience, ADP
Names a Top 25 Global Influencer 2018 and one of the 7 Influential Women You Should be Following, Nicolle’s created a legacy of developing client-centric companies. As an author, speaker and leading thinker, she’s evangelized the importance of customer experience and the role it plays in customer success. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
10. Allison Pickens, Chief Customer Officer, Gainsight
Allison is an internationally-known thought leader on Customer Success and scaling teams during hyper growth. Her roots are in sales and entrepreneurship and she’s been named one of the Top 50 Sales Leaders. Allison hosts The Customer Success Podcast and is a prolific writer. She’s published numerous articles that cover a wide range of customer success strategies and best practices and frequently speaks at industry events. Read more on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter.
Read the full series:
- 10 B2B Women CMOs to Keynote Your Next Event
- 10 Women in Technology to Keynote Your Next Event
- 10 Women in HR to Keynote Your Next Event
- 10 Women in Innovation to Keynote Your Next Event
Photo credit: Pixaby
About Carla Johnson
Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.
Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.
In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds - Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking.
Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.