Customer experience expert and industry pioneer, Jeanne Bliss, shares insights about the origins of the CX industry as well as where it’s going. Jeanne, also known as the godmother of customer experience, provides listeners with a unique window into her career path from becoming one of the first Chief Customer Officers, to founding the CXPA and becoming a transformative force in field of CX. Jeanne and show host, Julia, discuss the enduring challenges facing all CX professionals and what’s next on the horizon for customer experience in the years to come. If you’re looking for some insight, inspiration and guidance from one of the most prominent and respected voices in customer experience, then this episode is for you.
Meet the godmother of customer experience
Jeanne Bliss has always been an important figure in the CX industry. She is truly a pioneer in this field and has spent 35 years transforming companies, where she’s led organizations to earn 98% customer loyalty rates. Jeanne Bliss helps companies and people become the best version of themselves. She guides them to define, build and live the behaviors and actions that will fuse customers to them, and ultimately create deep and memorable relationships. Creating these deeper bonds has been Jeanne’s singular mission for over 35 years. First, as the inaugural Chief Customer Officer at Lands’ End, Coldwell Banker, Allstate and Microsoft Corporations. Then since 2002, guiding over 20,000 leaders around the world to understand that improving lives should be their most important strategic vision. She has shepherded a whole new breed of leader into the marketplace prepared to lead this change through her pioneering years as a practitioner, experience coaching global leaders, her four game-changing books, and as co-founder of the Customer Experience Professional’s association. If the proof is in the pudding, then there is certainly no doubt why Jeanne is one of the most prominent and respected thought leaders in the world of customer experience.
If you’d like to learn more about Jeanne’s work, be sure to follow her on LinkedIn, where she often shares insights about customer experience and more. Her blog is second to none as a resource for aspiring CX professionals. Her books provide foundational knowledge about customer experience, and her podcast, The Human Duct Tape Show, is well worth a listen!
From shoes to the C-suite
Jeanne’s father set the tone for her career in customer experience. As the owner of a local she store, he became not just a part of the community, but a part of people’s lives. Putting shoes on children’s feet and welcoming families into his store as though they were part of his family. When he retired, there was a line of customers 3 blocks long, waiting to thank him and wish him well. Customer experience was in Jeanne’s bones and it encouraged her to ask questions about how brands can create those special experiences that fuse customers to them.
What’s your three blocks long? How will you be remembered? And that’s really so much of what’s missing for me as we get into customer experience. – Jeanne Bliss
After acquiring degrees in marketing and apparel design, and working in the retail industry for several years, Jeanne’s role at Lands’ End really catapulted her into her career in customer experience. At Lands’ End she worked closely with the CEO Gary Comber, whose enthusiastic support for focusing on the customer enabled Jeanne to learn, experiment and implement concepts that would become the core foundation of her “CX kit bag”. Jeanne went on to lead customer experience efforts at organizations across a diverse array of industries. Each one presented unique challenges and opportunities, but she identified her gift for being the “glue” that unites teams around an end state.
Tips for aspiring CX professionals
Jeanne recommends that those who aspire to a CX leadership role first focus on how and where they can drive change at the ground level. She encourages CXers to get involved with operations, get their fingernails dirty and identify their unique gifts for improving customer’s lives.
She also highlights that it’s important to elevate the work and connect CX efforts to business outcomes.
If you have a passion, it’s fantastic. But you need to be able to package the passion into simplicity, pragmatism and an understanding for leaders on why it’s important to do this work. – Jeanne Bliss
What underpins this work
Jeanne highlights 3 things have have underpinned the longevity and success of CX or a heightened focus on customer experience. First, Jeanne points to “customer math”, or the acceptance by business leaders of customers as assets. This was accelerated during the economic downturns of the early and late ’00s, and it encouraged senior stakeholders to rethink their prioritization of customer experience given the benefit to the bottom line.
The rise of social media has also impacted the focus on CX, by shifting the megaphone from companies (or their advertising agencies) to consumers. This has forced organizations to establish clarity around who they are and then fortify the reliability of their operating model to deliver.
When customers talk on social media, they really say three things: Did you do what you said you were going to do? Did you improve my life? And how did you make me feel? – Jeanne Bliss
Finally, the godmother of customer experience says leaders are starting to understand that business silos don’t unite themselves. This realization has given rise to the role of the Chief Customer Officer, but Jeanne warns that CX teams cannot become another silo, or it will defeat the purpose. She fears what could happen if CX professionals become too focused on the mechanics of CX and lose sight of the meaning of their work.
Covid pushes businesses in the right direction
In her parting words, Jeanne suggests that a missing link has been getting leaders to align their own behavior and messaging to the vision of what they want their company’s brand to be. Covid has force fed the business world with an extra dose of humanity. CEOs are having frank conversations with employees and customers, thinking outside of the box and acting quickly to help improve the lives of their customers. These adaptations have become essential to brand survival, and the godmother of customer experience hopes these attributes will endure beyond the crisis to help elevate and solidify the work.
Want to keep learning about CX?
Decoding the Customer is a series of customer experience podcasts created and produced by Julia Ahlfeldt, CCXP. Julia is a customer experience strategist, speaker and business advisor. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional and one of the top experts in customer experience management. To find out more about how Julia can help your business define customer experience strategy that delivers results, check out her customer experience advisory consulting services or get in touch via email. To hear other episodes of Decoding the Customer, click here.