Will Bachman 00:01
Hello and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman and I am back today with Rick Denton who was on the show. In yesterday’s episode. Yesterday, Rick, who is the managing principal of E x for cx told us about his practice. Today we’re going to play an episode of Rick’s new podcast cx passport. Rick, welcome back to the show. Tell us a little bit about what we’re gonna hear.
Rick Denton 00:32
Thanks. Well, glad to be back on air. Yeah. So cx passport is it’s a conversation with people about customer experience. With a little dash of travel, sometimes that travel is woven together with customer experience. Sometimes it’s just great travel stories and the meals we enjoy. Wherever our travels take us. And the episode we’re about to hear was a I’ll use the British term was a brilliant conversation with Sharon Boyd from the UK. She’s a CFO of Mkl innovation. And she’s just got this wonderful, honest voice when it comes to customer experience. And you get these authentic stories. And one of the things in the episode that I won’t, I’ll tease it, but how grease paper substitution or wax paper turned into a great customer experience for her and, and what that look like I think she will also talk about the gifting and employee experience and magic carpets as a travel innovation. So it was a fun episode. Sharon is a great person and really enjoyed my conversation with her.
Will Bachman 01:36
Fantastic so everyone go and put pause right now in this episode. Look up cx passport, subscribe, give the show a rating help people discover the show. And then you can go ahead and press play again. And let’s listen to the episode.
Rick Denton 02:00
You’re listening to cx passport, the show about creating great customer experiences with a dash of travel talk. Each episode will talk with our guests about great cx travel. And just like the best journeys explore new directions we never anticipated. I’m your host richten. I believe the best meals are served outside and require a passport. Let’s get going. Today I get the pleasure of talking with Sharon Boyd from the UK. Sharon is the CFO of Mkl innovation and is a widely recognized voice of wisdom in the CX space, a top cx influencer, Sharon recently was a key contributor to a new book release, customer experience three. I specifically love the honest voice that comes out from what Sharon writes and says, you sense a true heart for the customer and really for humanity in general. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Sharon isn’t training to be a pilot. As listeners know, I love the chance to talk with folks from around the globe. And today we are in for a real treat. Sharon. Good morning to you and welcome to cx passport.
Sharon Boyd 03:09
Hi, thank you so much for the lovely introduction. I really appreciate that. Thank you. lovely to see you again.
Rick Denton 03:14
It’s great to see you as well, hey, I want to come right out of the gate with a post I saw of yours that I really loved. And that you mentioned a gift you received and how valued that made you feel. What was the story of that gift?
Sharon Boyd 03:26
Oh, actually, I mean, this was a really lucky week for me because I ended up receiving three completely out of the blue gifts in the same week. So when I wrote that post, he was actually about three different people. Interesting. What a nice week to have was amazing. I was like, oh, wow, I know what’s happened in this week because I don’t normally receive gifts. But I’m, I’m definitely a gift. And so I really feel the power of that when someone takes the time to gift something to me. I massively appreciate it. I think it’s hugely powerful in the CX space. But yeah, so I’ll share a little bit about each of the gifts just a tiny bit. So one of them I had a really down week the week before I really struggled and you know when you just got too much on and you just go Oh, just get a bit overwhelmed. And well one of them was a really lovely book. And it’s it’s full of illustrations about Fox and think a rabbit and our horse but all just like they’re all different characters. And it’s just such a lovely book, but the the message behind it was just really heartfelt and I’ve thought genuine that just really meant quite a lot to me and really cemented how I felt about that working relationship with that other person. So that meant a huge amount to me. The other one I received was a congratulations gift for finishing my MBA. And because the MBA landed a little bit flat because we’re doing remote lectures and it’s going to be an act, it’s gonna be a whole year until we physically do our proper graduation. And the full MPa process was just meant so much to me because I never thought I’d get to go to uni after it because I took my year out and then got mortgage back when I was 18. I kind of thought, parked wherever. So to finish that, at that person sending me that congratulations. Gift meant a lot because it was, yeah, it was just that nice clothes off to go, well done. So yeah, I really appreciated that. And then the other one was actually it was a gift of some candles from a client, just say thank you for all of our hard work. And yeah, it just meant, it means such a lot when you get a thank you gift, or you get something that says Norton really appreciated what you did, and was really personal the way that they done it and the message as well. So yeah, I was just when I when I wrote that post, I was just reflecting through for three very different reasons I received those gifts, and I just thought the power of gifting is so often just missed. And each of those has really cemented those relationships with those people and brought them closer to me. So yeah, I was just thinking purely for sex and sex point of view.
Rick Denton 06:29
So that’s interesting. So it does sound so special. And it really makes you made you felt almost this human connection. So I’m curious, how have you seen that sort of gifting in just the customer experience world in general? Is this just a b2b sort of thing? Or Where else? Have you seen it in the CX space?
Sharon Boyd 06:48
I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it a fair amount. I mean, it can take many forms, content, gifting. It can be an actual tangible gifts like those three that I received. And that particular week. I mean, it can be we also feedback as a gift. But sometimes just a compliment, can be a huge gift. But the real tangible gifts that you can see in front of you the most powerful is when they’re really tailored and personalized to you when you know someone has taken the effort to really think what would Sharon or Rick like? What would mean the most to them? And if it’s something as well that seemed to do with their goals? Or is to help them go in the right direction? Even better, but no, it’s I would definitely would say, it works just as well be to say, and we we employ that a lot in our business, we send out little gifts here and there to people. Just you Thank you. Well, well done. You did a tremendous job. Right? Yeah, we think it’s hugely powerful.
Rick Denton 07:51
It is when I’ve either received a gift or had that opportunity to give one inside the corporate world, obviously inside the person personal world, right. We know the world of gifting. But in that corporate world as well. It is it’s interesting what the reaction is, and how that is now I’m thinking about kind of how gifting and celebrations go hand in hand. And so much of a customer culture at a company comes right from employee culture, right? It’s almost a cliche at this point that you can’t deliver better customer experiences, which provide an employee experience. So, you know, celebrations and elevating great cx it really doesn’t have to be big or expensive. And you and I were talking about our cx origin stories, just each of our stories. And you mentioned a 10 pence cx celebration item as part of your story. Tell me more about that.
Sharon Boyd 08:34
Yeah. So back when I was in the world of retail, before I really moved properly into the CX space. I was working for this brilliant company. And we did a customer hero day I think it was but like a whole day just purely focused around our end customer. And I was running a, I’d say a stand. But it wasn’t really a stand. I was outside of my van because I was playing being a driver for the day. And I was out there with my uniform. It was hilarious. Because one of the tasks they had to do all of that everyone in the office there was about I think about 3000 people in it at this event. They had to go out and have a selfie with a driver. So there was a whole queue of people queuing up outside to get a picture was just just random. I felt very special for a little while. Lots of random pitches of the other. But yeah, so at the end of that event, they said oh, now we’re going to announce our first ever customer Hero Award. And it was presented by the executive team and f1 was watching over the balconies and down the bottom and it was me. I was just I was so blown away by it. But yeah, it was there was a band and it was like a plastic silicon on it. The plastic band, basically, which was great, but it was, the whole point of it was that it was the top band that you could get. And they obviously bought the mass and that they said, customer hero round, it was the first ever one. And I just loved the way they got the exact team properly to do photos, they had a stiff skirt, it just meant huge amounts. And I’ve still got that band. I mean, this is probably worth very little. But to me, someone who’s so customer driven, to win that award and be given, that band just meant such a huge amount. It didn’t need to cost us anything, it was purely about the symbol of it.
Rick Denton 10:39
That’s, I love that I love kind of the the simplicity of it, but also the depth of it, right. So it’s simple, but it’s deep. And it’s getting at the the heart of you know what is missing in a lot of companies. And that’s making the employee feel special. It didn’t have to be expensive. It didn’t have to be this massive Crystal Award or anything like that. But it was more just the fact that you were acknowledged that they recognize what you had done and made you feel special. And I’ve got imagine I did that carry forward then throughout kind of how you felt about the company and your role there. And did you see that influencing the culture going forward?
Sharon Boyd 11:14
Yeah, because at the same time, we were doing projects, around bringing together the values of the three main group companies. And one of them we’d really well mainly makes I was on this team, I kept saying one of them has to be customer obsessed, it has to be ended up being customer first. But that was enough for me, let’s just make sure that at least one of them is really customer driven. But yeah, even the fact that they had this whole event and I think it was the first event and had really bought a lot of the, you know, the frontline customer piece into that head office, the fact that I was standing out there with that fan that the customer sees that goes to their house and drops off all of their products. There’s loads of other stands inside as well. It felt really big. And it really stuck with me because I thought this means a lot to me. This company really cares about the end customer. And and that’s why when I look back when obviously Everyone has their difficulties every company, but I really look back at that particularly. I’m happy to say who they are because I think they were amazing. Agus Chicago’s Yep, definitely. Because I just really loved how they really celebrated that and having the executive team standing there going, we are really behind this. This is the first customer award. And that really created that kind of FOMO piece of one of those bands. Oh, yeah. So yeah, we then encourage people to nominate other people and go oh, yeah, I think you’re amazing. These are great behaviors to celebrate. Just started off a whole sort of rolling process of celebrating customer behaviors or customer centric behaviors.
Rick Denton 12:52
Love it. Absolutely love it. Now, there’s another sort of customer centricity story that I’ve seen you talk about, and let’s talk about that infamous substitution for your Valentine’s order. From a cx perspective, what happened there?
Sharon Boyd 13:07
Okay, so I decided to use Sainsbury’s. And I thought, well, I’m just just for convenience. I’m going to have the Valentine’s card on there for my husband. not normally something I do normally go and choose and yeah, but I thought okay, well, that looks a fairly decent one. I’ll order that one. Anyway, the morning of the step of the delivery, I had an email throw saying, Oh, really sorry. You’ve had to make some substitutions. And one of them was this Valentine’s card and I thought, okay, I wonder what they’re gonna say which which one they’re going to send to me instead. And then I looked down and realized they’d substitute it for greaseproof paper. I thought okay, I’m not sure my husband is going to be thrilled of that when I say Happy Valentine’s Day is a great spring. want that that’s a special gift. So it really just made me laugh, but I thought I think it was a skill it was the weekend I thought I’ll stick that on LinkedIn because it’s just hilarious. And obviously there’s a cx piece in there as well about kind of just you know, a tuning your your things like your substitutions to something close to what your customer is going to one But yeah, I mainly put on there for the comedy value. And I really loved the response and Sainsbury’s again I’m happy to say who they were because they responded fantastically and also I that was probably my you know, it went sometimes you write something just off the top of your head that when the close to viral as I’ve ever gone because I had so many responses some of them like oh, that’s brilliant. That’s hilarious that’s made my day but also ones go on my head something similar this happened that happened. Yeah, but it since with literally within about half an hour. Sainsbury’s responded and went, Oh, could you just give us your details because we just want to check the algorithms behind the scenes. This has happened and we want to make we want to fix it was like a getting the details so put a note onto my LinkedIn just to say I’ve been contacted science was all over this and that was light so many times by so many people I thought actually just that bit that they’ve responded shows me how appreciated Argos Sainsbury’s are from a from a customer point of view because the back and then a little bit later someone else from Sainsbury’s messaged me through LinkedIn said, can really sorry that it’s happened. But I’m, I work in the car department. And I wondered if I could send you some different cards for you to choose from so that you do actually have a card for your husband on the day and I said, Oh, yeah, that that would be brilliant. But yeah, she um, she popped it all in a row. She put it all in red pay em tissue paper, to make your lovely There are six different cards in there from quite lovey dovey to barely standards. Right? Sort of a depends on how you feel that day. Right? I can pick them up for me. But what was really lovely is she used a blank Valentine’s card that she’d written Dear Mrs. Boyd, we sorry, this has happened, looking. But hopefully one of these will do the trick. And because she’d handwritten it inside a Valentine’s card as well, she found a blank one so that it doesn’t say I love you, Mrs. Boyd. But yeah, I just really appreciated the fact that she’d done that the handwritten notes, the fact that she’d got me she completed my mission as a customer. Yeah, give me a call. There was several of those that could have chosen and that meant I didn’t have to go and do it for perhaps the shops to find one or make one out of greaseproof is a lot of people suggested that I should do. Yeah, and when I when I went to collect my order, because it was a pickup. It made me laugh because the grease proof paper actually had a load of hearts on it, but it was just the design of it. So I don’t know. algorithm. It’s hot. Yeah, I don’t know. But I could kind of see where it connected, but I just really loved the customer response Yeah. To the way that Sainsbury’s responded to me to people to come and deal with my issue with throwing money at me or something like that. Yeah, right. But the the personalized way that they dealt with that I just really appreciate it so it’s really good story. Well done. sighs
Rick Denton 17:31
Yeah. And it hits it a principle that I love. It’s a Disney phrase that I’ve I’ve used a picked up and actually have experienced as a Disney guest. Probably a decade plus ago. But they don’t focus on fixing issues. They work to restore the relationship. And in your story there. It sounds like there was a way to fix the issue. Oh, we’re sorry, Miss Boyd, here’s a new card. We’ll we’ll send it to you overnight. Oh, great. That would check the box you’d feel but they seem to go into truly restoring your relationship and I can hear the warmth of how you’re even describing your, your, the way you feel about the brand today. And really focused on you know, hey, my relationship is restored here.
Sharon Boyd 18:08
Yeah, I when I when we often talk Don’t be in sex about the chance of recovery how that can take a customer who’s had a fairly stable relationship with a brand and then they hit a dip and they go down. But if you really lift them up and give them an amazing experience, how actually their then experience goes on. It’s gonna be like, goes higher, right, then it would if they just continued on that stable cause we were doing this on camera wrong way round. But yeah, it’s um, it can really make a difference and really link you and make you really loyal to to that company. And that’s what I felt like we’re saying space before I’ve just like, they’re right. But yeah, now I’m impressed and obviously talk about them which I am doing.
Rick Denton 18:50
Right. And now we’re amplifying them today. Fantastic. Love it. Little change of pace here though. Join me here in the first class lounge. We’ll move quickly here and hopefully have some fun. Okay, Dream travel location from your past.
Sharon Boyd 19:12
I went to the Maldives. my honeymoon. Beautiful was very aware that probably when we got to our 50th anniversary if we ever made it there. It won’t be underwater at that point. Yeah. So I was very much going okay, let’s one time any chance potentially. Let’s live it.
Rick Denton 19:28
It is it’s a it’s definitely on my bucket list for sure. So speaking of that, a dream travel location you’ve not been to yet.
Sharon Boyd 19:37
I don’t know why. But I’d love to go to the Middle East and just explore. Yeah, I’m not really sure what that looks like. But yeah, just all you hear about the amazing customer experiences that there are over there in certain areas. Yeah, I’d love to experience some of that. Watch some of that and learn from it.
Rick Denton 19:53
Yeah, absolutely. For sure. favorite thing to eat
Sharon Boyd 20:00
Rick Denton 20:03
maybe just one hair louder. favorite thing to eat?
Sharon Boyd 20:07
Rick Denton 20:08
Very good. There it is. That almost sounded like a guilty pleasure. But no, there are no so there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure. They are all just pleasures. But on the flip side of that, what is the thing your parents forced you to eat? But you hated as a kid?
Sharon Boyd 20:23
Rick Denton 20:24
Ah, okay. I’m getting a lot of vegetable theme in that question, by the way.
Sharon Boyd 20:31
Yeah, my, um, my dad used to buy massive bags of carrots. And then I mean, there was six children. So you know, you needed to buy in bulk. But it was all the stories have to, you know, you’ll be able to, you get to see in the dark and all the rest of it. And none of our six children, obviously, all adults now or our own children eat carrots.
Rick Denton 20:52
The knock on effects over the generations? That that’s fantastic. All right, one travel item you will not leave home without?
Sharon Boyd 21:02
Well, normally one of my children gives me a little animal with some kind to take with me, I’m not sure I have a choice. So I just don’t say Oh, thank you. That’s lovely. But yes, there’s always an item that goes through my bag from one of my children.
Rick Denton 21:16
Oh, I love that heart connection to the home. That’s fantastic. The nature of cx passport is to weave cx and travel together and I find both inform each other and particularly compelling ways given yours and MKS focus on innovation. What are some of the innovative travel experiences you’ve had?
Sharon Boyd 21:42
This is the one that I’ve had, but one that I’ve seen really recently as something I explored when I was working in an airline. So one of the issues is boarding. So when you look at, look at the the customer satisfaction scores and kind of put it back to the customer journey, boarding often comes out as really low. And we looked at that, when I was working there to see how it could be made better. And there was lots of different models actually do this model you you bought in strips, or you bought all the left first and right. All sorts of ways to do it. But very recently, I think it was on LinkedIn. I saw something that I really would like to see. And obviously we’re all on lockdown at the moment. But right, I get to try it and see if I can do it justice by explaining over the is Lancome as basically a light that shines across the floor. Okay. It oops, so, so it’s it sends different zones on the floor. And then passengers can see like 33 C, to a whatever. And they stand in their seat zone. And it moves with them. I presume that it’s got some kind of algorithm, which then works out well or do they need to sit they need to stand in to get them most? Yeah, I thought that was quite clever, because I remember when back then looking at all different kinds of technology. And do you have a board which calls them out? How does that work? What if you’ve got a child who is sitting, you know who’s on the right, but actually their parents are on the left? And they’re not boarding till way later? Or you’ve got, you know, vulnerable customer passenger? Who need somebody with them? And they’re in? Yeah, so we’ve kind of like, okay, it’s not very straightforward. But I quite liked how this would work. And it’s very simple.
Rick Denton 23:41
So yeah, I think I think I’ve seen it kind of a magic carpet. So lights are coming down. And there’s, there’s like a gamification almost to it. Or they could gamified that, you know, there’s all sorts of alerts or something if you’re successfully standing in your space. And you know, if you’re not, then there’s a comical shame to it or something along those lines. I love that. And actually, I would love to try it as well, what a weird thing for you and me to say here is that we really want to try boarding an airline sometime.
Sharon Boyd 24:10
Yeah, just see how that would work from a passenger point of view. Definitely.
Rick Denton 24:14
So taking that a little further. So I know you’ve had some experience in the travel industry, and specifically passenger airlines. And I’d like to get a bit of an insider’s perspective. It’s an industry that has a massively wide spectrum of approach or even just interest in customer experience. This was true before the pandemic, it seems to remain true today. Why do you think there’s such a divergence in cx approaches with the airlines?
Sharon Boyd 24:40
I think some really just go, you know, well, we’re not going to be passenger focused. And we’re going to do this on purpose because you come to us because we are cost driven, okay, because we can keep the cost low for you. We’re going to be upfront about this and we’re just going to be a low cost airline, if that’s what you want, you fly with us, and then there’s others at the other end of the spectrum. Go, you know what, if you’re not price driven, you will have an amazing experience with us. But you know, we are so passenger centric, that you’ll have the best flight of your life. And there’s such a huge difference between those two, you get some that kind of try and do both. Right? I would say where I would prefer to fly because I can’t afford to be at the high end. Right, Jeff? But yeah, there’s there is a huge difference. And I’m really interested to see what will happen. Now in a in an industry that is obviously very much suffered after the pandemic. And what, what they do so was at the airport. This week, I had two very different experiences. But what I’d never experienced before, was having a cabin bag that I had to pay for it. And they said to me at the time, this is a new thing. And actually our airline was the third one on the list. All the other low cost airlines have already done it. We were the last ones. And I was like, wow, why? Why? You know, this is quite a big thing. What it meant for me was I got to the gate and they charged me 50 pounds, oh, gosh, my cabin bag on. I was like, but no one told me she’s like, Well, no, you should really have no, no, I thought in a in a place where you’ve got a completely empty plane. There’s like 10 of us on their right. I knew it was purely cost driven exercise, I was the last one on the plane because they had to charge me. And I just thought, yeah, it felt horrible. From a passenger point of view really wasn’t good at all.
Rick Denton 26:45
It can feel maddening to experience it. And I know that there are some airlines that that’s their chosen business model. And I think at least I’ve experienced this, that it’s not even just necessarily ones that declare themselves, hey, we’re low cost. So we’re going to be a miserable customer experience. Or we’re full service, and therefore it’s going to be a positive one I know in the US and no names here. But there is there are some airlines that are both known for being quote, low cost, or that’s a part of their heritage. And yet, they are some of the most delightful customer experiences that are out there because of the employee culture because of even some of the fun and the shenanigans, maybe the wrong word on a plane, but just the the upbeat nature to the way service is delivered. And then there are others that are declare themselves to be you know, full service airlines, and yet the experience is a miserable one. And it does seem to come back almost to something that you and I were talking about earlier. And that’s employee culture, and how that’s going to drive. What you know what the the nature of the delivery of the customer experience will be. It’ll be interesting to see what the airlines and travel industry in general do coming out of the pandemic because it will bounce back. Right? We know it’s going to bounce back. And so what does that look like? Think thinking of that? So you with Mkl innovation and everything else? How you weave together cx and innovation, all that? Where do you see innovation in the CX space going? What’s next?
Sharon Boyd 28:07
Well, I could answer that in many ways. We’d love to hear more. I think. I mean, so I was very much in the tech space, obviously. And we’ve had a few discussions this week with we’re writing a book at the moment about sex and tech. Because you don’t often see the two goes together. Yeah, I think where it could easily go is more and more and more more more tech focus more automated. And you then you get to that place where you get to, you know, like when you go to a self checkout, and you just there’s an identified bag in in the baggage area, and you just get that pure frustration because you just think, Okay, this is tech for tech sake, there’s somebody who’s mentally watching this area who’s off chatting over there. They’ve just left us customers to it. Okay. So I think assets, cx practitioners need to just be really mindful of where tech could go if we don’t keep that human side in mind like chatbots. Right? Well, where you just go, right, it’s been passed around around around on IVR. Now what a chat bot, nobody really knows where I am or there’s AI. It’s, it’s fantastic where it can go. But I think it’s just so important to just keep that that human centered piece purely in mind. So for us in innovation, I think it is that co creation piece, creating alongside the customer, what they need and what works in their business rather than going up but there’s all this new shiny tech. Don’t you want it Here you go, right. It needs to be what actually do you need to deliver an amazing customer experience for your customers. We’ll work with you and give you the tech that you need. Rather than something that may be think sounds amazing like walking through a digital twin over here, aka AI IoT, you can throw in all those buzzwords, but actually, you end up with something really complex for customers. So I think it’s got to be simple. It’s got to be tailored to the customer. But ultimately, it’s got to be really human centered and focused.
Rick Denton 30:13
Oh, my goodness, what a brilliant perspective on that. And it does not surprise me one bit, that you would close with saying it’s got to be human centered, that even in all the midst of all the tech and everything else, that is great, right? We, we need it, we love it. It’s great that it’s coming. But I have to keep the customer and the human at the center of it. And it surprises me Not one bit that that’s how you’ve taken us to closure here. So Sharon, I loved hearing about, you know, the approach of gifting and how that affects employee culture, restoring relationships, and what that means for engaging with the brand. Love the hearing, you know, certainly about the travel experiences. And you and I do need to check out that magic carpet. So hopefully we’ll find that rolling out wider and wider. And absolutely closing with the fact that no matter how technologically advanced we get, we cannot leave the human behind and have to really consider what that human is sharing. This has been a brilliant conversation. I always come away with my talks with you just excited, energized, I’m ready to face the day and ready to take cx forward. Thank you so much for joining us here on cx passport. It has been a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much.
Sharon Boyd 31:22
Thank you for having me.
Rick Denton 31:27
Thanks for joining us this week on cx passport. Make sure to visit our website cx passport.com where you can hit subscribe so you’ll never miss a show. While you’re at it, you can check out the rest of the E x for cx website. If you’re looking to get real about customer experience, e x CX is available to help you increase revenue by starting to listen to your customers and create great experiences for every customer every time. Thanks for listening to cx passport and be sure to tune in for our next episode. Until next time, I’m Rick Denton and I believe the best meals are served outside and require a passport