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Punk CX with Adrian Swinscoe Interviews Michael Hinshaw

In this podcast Adrian Swinscoe interviews Michael Hinshaw, the founder and president of customer experience consultancy McorpCX. Michael talks about the CX value model and why we should be linking experience to business outcomes, some key indicators of a successful customer-centric transformation, why your company might need an experience operating system (the XOS), what it is and what are the benefits.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Leadership lessons from the winner of the 2023 CX Leader of the Year – Interview with Roxie Strohmenger of UKG – and is number 495 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders who are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

First published on Punk CX


Enjoy the full Transcript of the Podcast

Speaker 3 (01:38): 

Yeah. But there are systems and approaches for actually helping companies do this in scalable, consistent ways. And once we're able to help companies figure out how to do these things either in small ways like across the channel or for a particular brand or something like that, or organizationally, the entire organization starts making those shifts. It's easier to get it to stick once the value of it is seen internally. And so I got into this, and I'll give a very brief backstory. Sadly, it is in fact 25 to 30 years old, but I have a marketing background. In the late nineties I had built, and I sold a brand strategy and corporate design firm that did a lot of work here in the San Francisco Bay area where I live for venture capitalists and for investment banks, for pre IPO companies. Basically, how do you position companies for the market? 


What should their brand be, their messaging, competitive positioning, et cetera. And after I sold the company, one of our clients had called me and said, this is a non-competitive thing, but we're thinking about as a private equity firm out of Canada. They said, we're thinking about investing in this internet thing pre the internet as we know it today. They said, sure, let's give it a shot. And we talked about the opportunities and made the decision to build an online marketplace. So which there were just a couple at that point in time. And within three years, built a $300 million business grain trading in Canada. Now, that's of interest for three reasons. One, we wrote the business pretty quickly. Two, I knew nothing about grain. And three, I knew nothing about Canada. I was a 

Speaker 3 (03:27): 

I did it from San Francisco and I had offices in Vancouver and Calgary and then in Miami, which is the extension of that. But long story short, I knew that I knew nothing about this. So the way that I went about it, and I had my leadership team with me. So the way that we collectively went about it was to really dissect the ecosystem of the grain trading marketplace in central Canada. What do farmers want? What do the brokers want? What do the big conglomerates want? The ADMs of the world, the Cargills, those guys, what are they trying to do? Where do they see the friction in the marketplace? What are missed opportunities? Places where different constituencies wish things were different, and what are their goals? Farmers just want to get the best price for their wheat in the marketplace. Pretty simple. And the way that we did that was interviewing everybody and building out what we call lifecycle maps. 


Okay, if they're trying to accomplish this as a farmer, what are the things along the way that actually make it easier, harder for the farmer to accomplish their goals? And the first internet crash, so to speak, we had extended into using our platform to trade electricity, cattle, hogs, and we overextended as many did at that point. So I sold the technology off, closed the company down, no debt, and took a year off. And I thought, what am I going to do next? And I thought I'd start a very small consulting firm helping other companies figure out how to do what I did in that marketplace, which is talking to customers, finding pain points and closing gaps. And first clients were at t, general Electric and Microsoft at that point, and really started working with them to build out what ultimately is known as journey mapping, service design, those kinds of things today, right? There's a rich history of those as you well know. So I've plucked from other existing methodologies and of course built my own, which wish I've been doing for about 20 years. So maybe a little more than you wanted to know, but that's how I got started. 

Speaker 2 (05:32): 

No, no, no, that's absolutely idea. It's great context because it's based on real experience and also how you've actually done it in terms of the setup of a company, and that's what drove it forward, which is great. Now the thing is also, bill, you also mentioned Steve, you set up this kind of consulting, confirm that kind of focuses on doing that sort of thing. But then when we were setting up the podcast, you mentioned a couple of things that I wanted to really explore with you, and one of the first ones was, and this is, and the reason behind that, I wanted to get your perspective on that, your point of view, particularly because you've been around for 25, 26 years a while before it was an experience thing, it was just like a better service and now it's a customer experience thing. But you talked about the need to understand the CX value model and linking experience to business outcomes. Now I heard that and I was like, hallelujah. Because I do this ongoing piece of research about the behaviors and characteristics that leaders in the field can show. And number one is they've got a clear vision and strategy second part of that, but they connect it sly to business like outcomes and drivers and all these different things. But the way you described it, this CX value model, I wanted you to maybe to explain what you mean by that and how should professional leaders go about achieving that too? 

Speaker 3 (07:01): 

Yeah. Well it's interesting, and you've seen, I'm sure in the last couple of years, there's probably a huge cry in the customer experience space, whatever that means, where people saying, my gosh, more corporations than ever are cutting out their CX departments, they're defunding them, they're firing their chief customer officers, or they're demoting them, or some combination of all these things. And I think that the stat at Forster put out was like 50% of CX programs are going to be downgraded or closed and period of time. This is a year two ago, and I scratched my head a little bit. I mean, it struck me as true. I certainly see the churn in the marketplace, but there's two things happening. One being where exactly that CX leaders spend a lot of time talking about the why this is good for customers and it is. But things like, and they move into areas like teaching design thinking across the organization, which is a wonderful thing to do. 


Helping people across the organization understand how to think from the customer's perspective. That's laudable and it's required. But a lot of the folks that, again, my personal experience is that those individuals are moving towards the softer side of customer experience, but you can't have the soft side of customer experience without also being able to prove the business value of it. And those chief customer officers that were focused on, or that are, I should say, focused on business value and actually linking experience to the care abouts of shareholders, the board CEOs, they're actually moving up in the organization. They're not getting kicked out. They're getting C-suite adjacent into the C-suite, into CEO role in some cases now. So the back, your original question, the value model, understanding how to link value is one of the most critical things any customer experience leader any business can do. 


And we have a model that's probably similar in format or structure to other models. We built this over about 12 years and it makes sense and we're able to prove the linkages by first looking, if you think about a four level stack, right? The bottom level is what does the company do? What calls do they make? Who visits their website? How do they track their website, track telemetry metrics, we call it those things. An organization can actually look at their data and say, these are all the places we touch our customers. There's the times we call them, this is the time we send email to them. This is what we push to them in the store, et cetera. So if you're able to gather all that data, you can then link that to where in the customer's journey you're delivering it to them provide, of course you understand journey stages and journeys, but at each point you have the ability to understand how that interaction made your customers feel, and that's perceptual data. 


So you've got telemetry or analytics essentially linked to perception, and you can gather perception data lots of different ways. I'm not going to go into that at this point, but it's how do people feel? Do they feel good about an experience, they feel bad about it, ambivalent, some combination of all those things, but based on how customers feel they do things. So you can link, you can essentially identify specific connection points between the things that you do to your customer or for your customer, how your customers feel, and then what they do and the things they do tie directly to business results. So customers are upset, they leave bad business result, lower revenue, lower lifetime customer value, lower product penetration, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The flip side of that is you do something makes feel customers feel great, helps 'em accomplish their goals, then they're going to spend more, buy more, stay longer, all of which are business results. So that linkage, it's not simple just because data, but it's also pretty straightforward. It's not super complicated conceptually, it is of course complicated in the doing of it because most organizations are siloed. They've got data all over the place and the right hand, the left hand and all that kind of stuff. But the value model is the ability of an organization to consistently track those things and be able to tell pretty quickly how the things they're doing to customers affect their top and bottom line. 

Speaker 2 (11:21): 

Sure. I think it's fascinating because it's an ongoing conversation and I think there's this specter of the ROI Specter that hangs around like a dark cloud sort of thing. 


And that's the thing that's driving the forester prediction about 50% of, I remember that that outcome where it forces that if you aren't able to prove the ROI, then you're toast. But the ROI, the thing is it felt to me a bit, well, it's an outcome of an ability to do something. And I was speaking to a colleague, a friend of mine, and we were just discussing and exploring it, and I wondered whether or not the ability to build a business case and build those causal links as it were, is a key achilles heel in this sort of space for both the professionals and the leaders in that the organizational silos and the data silos aside, being able to actually conceptually build a business case that actually tells the story about where the ROI might sit. Do you think that's, is there a key capability gap there, do you think, in this sort of space? 

Speaker 3 (12:40): 

The short answer is yes. I'll also say that across organizations, business cases in general are difficult to do. It's no different customer experience, but so we don't go into any recommendation of significant investment organizational change without having a business case hypothesis as we call it, and a story to go with that. So just the numbers, I'm sure you think about personality types. Some folks they just give me the numbers, bottom line, X percent plus minus, all I need to know other folks that's going to leave 'em cold. The question is, well, how does this affect me? Let's talk about my needs, my care abouts, and our customers. So there's a story attached with it. Anyhow, A business case or a hypothesis or a business case needs to include all those elements and it needs to be built and presented from the perspective of who you're selling it to. I was chatting with somebody in Florida or here in the United States, and they were telling a story that I believe they built 14 variations on a business case because the 14 influencers who are going to make the decision about driving this forward in this very large organization had different care abouts, 

Speaker 2 (14:01): 


Speaker 3 (14:02): 

Right. The core concept of what the company, what he wanted to do in his role as CX leader did not change for any of it, but that story was, and the metrics didn't change either, right? But the story and how those metrics affected each of those 14 influencers decision makers is slightly different. So back to your specific question, is it a shortcoming? I say, absolutely, yes, good CX professionals are great storytellers, but they don't often apply those storytelling abilities to selling what it is they want to do. You use storytelling to tell customer stories, how customers feel when things are great, but the ability to translate that to the business is something that's missing as well as the ability to be comfortable with building out those models and saying, it's not perfect. We don't know for sure, but based on this comparison, this comparison, this comparison, we think it's reasonable that we could get a 30% uplift of X if we do this, this, and this. And of course you need to have the ability to track on the back end because just selling on business case upfront doesn't do you much good if you're unable to show all you did on the backside. Yeah, 

Speaker 2 (15:15): 

No, I think it's important. It's a great point, and I think that reminds me of somebody that says that you might be doing something to improve the lives of your customers, but you also have to realize you have internal customers and you have to focus on them just as much as others. And I learned, I think 20 odd years ago, I was working for a big corporation and we were pitching these new ideas to the board. I mean, this is super senior, and the one thing I learned with the person I was working with who led the project that we were on was talking about this idea of socializing your business case or your proposal. It was like walking it around the floor and as you say, getting that input and getting the steer and getting the thing. So it's like when you actually go to the pitch or you do the submission sort of thing, there should be no surprises because actually almost what all the answers and all the challenges and things are going to be before you get there. And it's almost like now that's harder. It's easier to say, harder to do, obviously, but it shows you the work that needs to get done to be able to do this sort of work. I think. 

Speaker 3 (16:28): 

Yeah, I mean that's a perfect example. The Florida guy I was talking about. That's exactly what he did was he was socializing. We didn't build one for him, but we often build, we call walking decks, which essentially it's right, it's the deck you walk around with and you get everyone lined up. So when you go into that board meeting or that executive leadership team meeting and you've got 14 people in there that a significant majority of them are nodding their heads with you, they already know. Yeah, exactly. And answer is their questions, right? That's not where, that's what decisions made. That's not where the conversation happens. 

Speaker 2 (17:02): 

Yeah, exactly. 

Speaker 3 (17:03): 

That advice is really sound. 

Speaker 2 (17:06): 

Thank you. So I mean, you've worked with lots of different organizations, Michael, about how to transform themselves to be a bit more customer sort of centric. I mean, in your experience, I mean, what do you think, if there were some signs or key indicators that you go that's been a successful transformation, customer-centric transformation, what would be some of those key indicators you would go, yeah, that's signals to me that they've been successful. What would they be? What are the things to look for, do you think? 

Speaker 3 (17:42): 

Yeah, I think from the outside it's fairly, I'll say fairly obvious. It is those companies that people rave about, that people want to continue doing business with. And in every industry there are multiple organizations that kind of fit that bill. And without going into a bunch of specifics of what those companies are, we all have companies that we feel fondly about that we're going to give our business to first given a choice, whether it's a tradesman or a airline or a multinational corporation of some sort. If we have a choice to spend our dollars or if we have a choice to talk about the experiences we've had, there are companies that we just go to that we all do. And from an external perspective, you can tell companies get it right when their customers love 'em. From an internal perspective, and you talked about this earlier, setting up this conversation was that clear direction, that strategic intent, knowing what it is you want to do, what that means to your organization, essentially it's where are you going and why should people care? The value piece of it, of course, can you actually track customer centricity back to value? And it's very difficult to track customer centricity back to value without customer listening. We have institutional, have you institutionalized customer listening insights to action from that listening and understanding communicated broadly as a result of listening. So does everyone in the organization understand who your key personas are and why they're important, what their care abouts and needs are, right? 

Speaker 2 (19:24): 

Yeah. Awesome. That's great. So one of the other things I wanted, so on top of all those things, and particularly the value model and stuff, but one of the things that you mentioned in setting up the podcast, which I thought was really intriguing is you talked about the XOS, and I'm like, oh, I know that sounds like a mobile phone. You said that you were talking about why your company might need an experience operating system, like you call it the XO XOS, and I was like, oh, that sounds fancy. I must ask, what do you mean by that? What's involved and how people should go about doing that? 

Speaker 3 (20:07): 

Yeah, so I've used the phrase experience operating system to describe things that organizations need to do consistently. And we've touched on a couple of 'em already. You need to know where you're going. You need to be able to link that back. You need to measure, link it back to value. You need to understand your customers. That is a high level capability essentially. And there's a series of eight keys, all of which are things that every organization does at some level. 


Strategy, understanding, ability to design, experiences, processes, technology, measurement, governance, so alignment and accountability as we call it, as opposed to the G word. But as you look at those capabilities, each organization does some of these things. There's, there are governance frameworks in place, and every organization of scale we've worked with, there's also some degree of customer listening. It might be informal ad hoc and not used broadly across the organization, or it might be done really well, but only one division group. So the operating system is understanding how all these things fit together to deliver great customer experiences to your customers and deliver great value to your organization. And what that means is setting up essentially across organizational perspective on what works, what doesn't, and why. And again, in organizations and scale silos are really the killer of experiences and the killers of value in our experience. 


And so an operating system brings all those things together across an organization, gets people working together with clarity in mind about their roles and their responsibilities, as well as doing so within the context of the greater vision. And we call the wfa the what's in it for me, so that you're able to articulate that vision to whether somebody's a warehouse worker, a lawyer, working on contracts, or a web designer or a salesperson, whether you have direct contact with a customer, whether you influence contact with customers or you have no contact with the customer at all. Everyone's got a role. And the operating system essentially puts a framework in place around those things that allows everyone to point in the same direction and to be clear on what their role is in driving those results and what that's going to give them. 

Speaker 2 (22:37): 

Right. And so do you have any examples of say, companies that you think or maybe companies that you've worked with that embraced that sort of approach or epitomize that sort of approach that you can share with us that can bring all that sort of stuff to life? Because I think that's the thing is we all know we have the same sort of examples that get trotted out again. Again. And those haven't really changed that much, which is a shame. But I'm always interested in other stories and other kind of lenses getting thrown on good practice in other places. I wonder if you had go, maybe you got a couple of stories of brands that you maybe worked with or people that you admire that you think, yeah, I think they're getting it right. I think they're embracing that type of approach. 

Speaker 3 (23:28): 

Yeah. One I'll use, actually it's a M Corp client, former M Corp client. We did one project with them around experienced strategy hoping I'd find articulate and the company's Best Buy. 


And Best Buy is a large, primarily North American retailer. They outlets other places as well. But a number of years ago, maybe 15 years ago, 10 years ago, they were nearly written off as most big box retailers were in the Amazon world and what we saw Best Buy do and what we still see them doing. And by the way, any corporate example, there's going to be people put up their hand and say, I had an experience. It was horrible. That's just right. But the challenge of a learning organization is to basically take those places where they don't win with the customer, learn from them and change how they operate. I think that resilience, that ability to listen and take action on what you learn is again, a critical success factor of leaders and Best Buy is doing a good job of that. The piece that we saw them do a number of things, which we had nothing to do with at all, but how they actually were able to look at their assets as an organization through the lens of the customer as well as from a business perspective, and realize that these thousands of retail outlets with trained employees in them gave them a unique channel that Amazon simply can't match. 


Amazon's just in the cloud. They get hundreds of thousands of packages sent back to 'em, I'm sure every day because the thing somebody ordered wasn't just right. Whereas at Best Buy, you have the ability to go into the store, they've curated their catalog of materials based on those things that are most interesting to their customers. They've trained up their sales staff, the blue shirts on what customer needs are as well as the product. So it's not just a spray and pray product spec conversation. So what are you trying to accomplish? How do you do this? And that's all done through the lens of an overarching strategy that everyone in the organization understands. And there's a system in place for training and learning and providing background on what people need to do to accomplish that. It's all those things that I talked about, an experience operating system, the strategy measurement, customer understanding, governance, all those things kind of ladder up in organization, a very, very big organization that's done a really good job, in my opinion, at bringing a business into the modern economy in a way that recognizes not only the primacy of the customer, but that the customer is primary in a digital first, but not digital only world. 


How do you essentially round that square? And I think they've done a hell of a job. 

Speaker 2 (26:15): 

Nice. I think that's great. And it's also another company for people to research and to look at and to follow whether you're in the retail space or not, because I think that sometimes it feels hard to provide, come up with new cases or new stories about people doing different sort of things. So it gives people another opportunity to go like, oh, well, I'll go and check them out and I'll go and experience that and I'll go and try and see what they're doing and what's different and stuff. And hopefully fingers crossed that everything stacks up and they're still doing it kind of like, well, but I mean maybe link to that. Go ahead. Sorry. 

Speaker 3 (26:55): 

There's exactly to your point, there's a book called Getting to Plan B, 


And I can't remember the author's name, so I apologize for that. But in getting to plan B, really good book, it's written by a venture capitalist, and he introduces a concept in that book and shows a bunch of examples of it. Essentially the concept of getting plan B is pivoting from plan A. And once you recognize plan A might not be working to define plan B, what are the concepts introducers or analogs? I mean, these aren't new concepts, but the analog. So what are the things that you can pull? What companies do you admire? Exactly to your point, what components of those companies do you admire or might you be able to leverage pieces of At the same time, analogs are also very important. So you can look at organizations say, I want to be sure that I don't do that or that, and being able to gather these analogs and analogs gives you the ability to find places to pull stories from that maybe you wouldn't otherwise. Maybe it's not a competitor, maybe something's not even in your industry. You can be a utility company in Texas or somewhere in the UK and learn from a retailer like Best Buy. 

Speaker 2 (28:12): 

Yeah, no, I think you talked about learning from something, but you also talked about a learning organization, and that feels to me like a reference back to the work that Peter Sge did back in the eighties, nineties, I dunno, sometime ago. And that almost the idea of, and I think it's something that I think Tom Peter's talked a lot about. We talked about it's not about, it's people who learn the most are organizations that learn the most. Those are the ones that are going to succeed. And it makes me think about, I was doing this talk a little while ago, and I talked to people about this idea of dark corners in organizations, which was, and people were like, oh, what? And I said, most of the time you end up with a bell curve of experiences and you're planning for things to be sort of generally in the 80% that's in that the middle. 


You hope for the exceptional and you sometimes can't pound for it. It just, sometimes everything coalesces and aligns, and then it's like somebody does something for the right reason at the right time for the right person. And it's magic happens and it's memorable and it's brilliant. But then these other things where it's almost the exceptional happens that you hadn't planned for and then all this kind of other stuff going to happens and it's just a car crash. And I sometimes think that we don't plan for those, or we don't think about what the scenarios are that can happen and it creates these dark corners, these kind of almost things. It might not happen very often, but when it does, it can be catastrophic or like a disaster. And I was saying that to people positioning the idea and it linked to this learning thing is that you have dark corners in your organization. In fact, every organization has dark corners. It's your role to go and look for them and Thomas, go you your torch and find these dark corners to shine a light on them because that's the thing that's going to trip you up and that's the thing where you'll learn the most. And so it just reminded me of that. So I thought I'd share that with you. 

Speaker 3 (30:26): 

I mean, that's a wonderful concept. And what you ended that with shine a light on it and learned another book, the other F word written by a guy named Mark Coopersmith, who's also a friend of mine, and the other F word is failure. And one of the things he talks about in that book is the analogy of engineering. Engineering is all about the study of failure. It's tolerances, it's understanding pressures and weights. And engineers are incredibly focused on understanding when things break. 


But exactly to your point, most organizations in those dark corners, they don't look at them. And if they do look at them, it's just to kick dirt over 'em rather than to say, huh, what happened? What do we learn from this? How do we take those learnings and apply them on a go forward basis so this doesn't happen again? And I'm sure you've seen executives say, oh, you know what, that's an exception. I'm not worry about that one time. But the reality is that the things that create those dark corners as you described them oftentimes are endemic. They're stuck an organization, and you can't root those out unless you shine a light on that dark corner and go in there and figure out how to fix it. 

Speaker 2 (31:49): 

And I think it's almost, it feels to me that it takes the idea of your antilock and then you can expand on it, but maybe trying to reframe it in a way, I always thought there's a thing where people are really fearful of complaints and they're like going, oh, complaint. And everybody sort of ducks under the desk or goes like, oh no, is that the time we've got a meeting? Or I have to go to the bathroom or whatever when the phone rings. But I was going, I wonder if you could reframe things where we could turn around and go, could we get to a point where appropriately we celebrate complaints in many ways because mostly we're fearful of them. We back away from 'em. We like going, well, when you have a complaint, something bad has happened or something problematic has happened, you're like, yes, okay, fine. But generally when you have a complaint, you get into this whole process driven, bureaucratic sort of nightmare, and it's kind of horrible. 

Speaker 3 (32:45): 

The finger pointing, the blame game, the right, 

Speaker 2 (32:48): 

And wouldn't it be great to reframe it, re-engineer it where you go, yeah, we understand that things happen and so things go badly wrong and we are so sorry about that and we apologize and things, let us fix this. But then create a process where somebody comes out the back of a complaints process going, wow, that was super cool. That's just like a mindset thing, right? 

Speaker 3 (33:14): 

Yeah, I mean, I love that. I've not heard that before. I think it's a brilliant idea. It's actually celebrating the process of learning from things that go badly. 

Speaker 2 (33:25): 

And so I just think it's something I've just got to play around with just like, can we not flip it on its head and just think about it slightly differently 

Speaker 3 (33:32): 

If it's owned, if the solution isn't because Sally in distribution messed it up, which is of course the organizational Tourettes, like, oh, who to blame? But if you're actually able to look at it, recognize, well, Ashley, Sally, that happened with Sally because this and this and this and this happened before it ever got to her, so how do we fix all that and get everyone aligned around making it better and being happy, 

Speaker 2 (33:59): 

But also at the same time, not forgetting the customer's experience who's going through that. 

Speaker 3 (34:05): 


Speaker 2 (34:06): 

And so I think it's just something I've played around with for a while, and maybe I should think about it again, revisit it. But zooming out a little bit, Michael, you also talk about, have a view around, you mentioned the offline and digital and the combination of the two. I mean, you had a view on what the top digital CX trends are going to be in the next five years, and how employee experience is going to play a key part of that. And that was the thing I wanted to ask you about. So can tell me a little bit more about that or share your perspective on that? 

Speaker 3 (34:46): 

Yeah, there's a couple of things attached to that. I'm not going to go into all of 'em, and some of them are pretty obvious to everybody, like AI for example. But as you know, in the customer experience field, we've been actually utilizing AI for many, many years just now. It's more accessible, easier to use. The great promise of AI through the lens of customer experience is from the perspective of customer experience professional, it's the ability to more quickly, but more democratically, aggregate, analyze and pull insights from huge quantities of data. 


And so that's a huge one for CX professionals and for the companies in which they work. The other application that we're seeing that I think is going to be significant, of course there's the obvious, using AI to automate responses and things of that nature. And that's AI chat. AI is used to describe today almost any technological area, although it's not entirely true, it does have applications for most, but whether it's machine learning, ai, some combination of those things, a lot of the digital trends that we're seeing are going to leverage some component of that for providing customers faster access to better information. And what we see is it is still very, very early stage, very nascent is journey orchestration and optimization. It's the ability to use technology to provide, ideally, not just digital, it's the primary application of it where an organization is able to leverage technology in their real time to track individual, individual customer behaviors in a particular environment, compare and contrast that to the hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of customers like them, and the millions of journeys that they've tracked over time to show that, oh, if this customer is running into this page at this point in time, they're probably trying to accomplish this. 


And we know because we've done this 948,000 times in the last six months that if we show them this and this, they're going to solve their problem. And you can actually in real time change customer's experiences by giving them what they need in ways that simply haven't happened before. And that's going to accelerate, it's going to continue to permeate all channels, even today, human channel, you need to be able to bounce back and forth from digital to retail to call center and et cetera. And some of the best experiences that I've had and that I've seen in organizations is where when somebody does get to a call center, the person on the call center already knows based on your phone number, if you call in or your email address, if you've logged in and came through from chat, what you've purchased, what you returned, what you're looking for, where you got stalled on the website and is able to offer a series of relatively intuitive questions back to them or answers back to them. 


And that goes, that example kind of bridges the second part of your question, which is employee experience. And I talk about baseline companies where the people who work there know that the company in general has their best interest at heart, not always in corporations exist for profit. And sometimes decisions that are made for profit are not good for individual employees. But in general, I like to think that the majority of companies that 80% potentially actually treats their employees fairly well. But what many of those companies don't do is give their employees the tools, the autonomy, the responsibility, and the freedom to do what needs to be done for the customers. And so the employee experience is critical because employees need to know not only that the organization's looking out for 'em, that kind of baseline, I don't know what the corporate equivalent of Maslow's hierarchy is, but assuming that bottom one is taken care of, what is it that you need to give your employees so they can do the jobs that they're paid to do that they want to do that they like doing. Employees in general don't come to their workday saying, I want to piss off a customer today. 

Speaker 2 (39:05): 


Speaker 3 (39:06): 

No. So what they really want to do is help customers solve problems. But the typical call center was talking to a call center manager a while ago, and I said, yeah, I think that we've tracked that to get the answers to 40% of the questions that our customers typically ask. They have to access six systems, six systems, multiple screens, everything going at once. It's no wonder the employee's frustrated, the customer's frustrated and the company doesn't get the result at once because paying more to answer a question. So you talk about employee experience, we also talk about, and this is something I don't understand and I don't know if you have an answer to this, please lemme know, but most organizations look first to customer experience and second to employee experience, if at all, maybe third, maybe fourth, when in fact the employee experience is what in many cases drives the customer experience. So I 

Speaker 2 (40:00): 

Understand if you've got a business model that has a significant amount of customer to human interaction, and I think that the thing I would say is you need to go back to the service profit chain back in the day and just go, it was there. It's got different names and different badges now, but it's all there. Same thing. It's all kind of same thing. And the idea being pretty much anything is if your employees are happy and satisfied and they're enabled and supported and everything else, it drives pretty much everything whether you are external facing or internal facing, because actually the reality of it is internal customer service or internal customer experience in quotes is just as important as the external thing. A bit like using an analogy of a car, the car can look great on the outside, but if it's got a crappy engine that's not being oiled or serviced or fueled and stuff, no wonder it blows smoke out of the bag. 

Speaker 3 (41:08): 

Yeah, no big surprise. 

Speaker 2 (41:11): 

And so I think your, you're kind of around why do people not connect at all? I think it goes back to your original point around their vision and the strategy. And I think it gets to the point where I think people can set those visions and strategies and then expect people just to fall into line and to understand what's in it for me, why it's important, and then just to do the things they need to do. And it feels to me, actually what they haven't done is they haven't done that alignment piece, which is a bit like that old exercise where you can take this, get those inflatable beach balls with the kind of multiple stripes, you put it in the middle of a round table and you've got all these people sat around the table and you ask each of them to describe what they're seeing and they'll all tell you slightly different things about the same object because it's all about perspective. And that's what people don't do is they don't go, here's a vision, now let's talk about what it means for you, what you need in order to, what do we need to do to support you and enable you to deliver on that? 

Speaker 3 (42:25): 

And that goes straight back up to experience operating system. 

Speaker 2 (42:29): 


Speaker 3 (42:30): 

What's your culture and alignment and accountability? How do you align people around that vision and make sure that they're held accountable, but that they're held accountable against clear goals, not make customer happy. 

Speaker 2 (42:44): 

And so I think digging into that, so getting into the weeds on that sort of stuff, I think of that's where, for me, that feels like another space where people are not necessarily devoting the time and effort and the attention to all of that. Because I think it takes time and it's hard work, and it means that some things may actually end up having to change, 

Speaker 3 (43:03): 

Which not many people like. 

Speaker 2 (43:05): 

Sure. Anyway, Michael, I'm just conscious of time. Anything else that you want to add or highlight that we've missed out before I ask you some quickfire questions just to finish off? 

Speaker 3 (43:17): 

No, let's go for it. 

Speaker 2 (43:18): 

Okay. Right. Quickfire questions. So we talk about a bunch of things, but often at the end of these podcasts, I like to boil it all down and I like to ask people what would be the best advice they would give to somebody who's listening in that wants to improve their customer and or employee experience? Now, to make that even easier, I asked you to complete a sentence. So the sentence is, if you want to improve your customer employee experience, Michael Hinshaw says, do this. Complete that sentence, Michael, complete that sentence 

Speaker 3 (43:48): 

Please. Yeah, listen to your customers regularly and often and take action on what you learn. 

Speaker 2 (43:54): 

Full stop. Thank you very much. Drops the mic. Move on. Brilliant. Now second one, because this is the punk CX podcast. I have to ask you a punk question. So here it goes. So what company or brand do you think takes a more punk approach to customer experience or is an experienced leader? 

Speaker 3 (44:16): 

Why? I think so I've got a couple examples. So I do a lot of stuff outdoors. And so there are a couple brands that I interact with regularly. One is more us. I think one is more international. They're both US based companies. I say one is Patagonia. Patagonia is an outdoor manufacturer, 

Speaker 2 (44:39): 

Yvonne Ard, man. 

Speaker 3 (44:44): 

And you think about what they do as a company, right? Retailers are in business to sell tons of stuff and every year new things out it goes, that's the model. And Patagonia takes a counterpoint to that, which is that actually, you know what? Our stuff should last you a lifetime and if you don't want our stuff anymore, we're going to buy our new stuff. That's great, but we'll take the old stuff back from you. We'll refurbish it and we'll go ahead and sell it because we want to contribute to the environment. All things based on Yvonne's kind of ethos. And they've continued that as they've grown as a brand, they have a very, at least compared to other organizations kind of counter, I say counterculture is the wrong word for it, but they don't swim exactly the same way that other large corporations like them swim. 

Speaker 2 (45:32): 

Yeah, absolutely. 

Speaker 3 (45:33): 

They got a different motion. And one that speaks to me personally, the other one I use is REI, another outdoor retailer. 

Speaker 2 (45:42): 

And I dunno why my screen does that. So people listen into the audio kind of thing. We're doing a bit of a zoom call and when I put my thumbs up like this, all of a sudden fireworks go off in the back of my screen. I've done that before and I have no idea why it does that. So people that are listening to the audio, we're talking on a video kind of call, and that doesn't make no sense to you, but if you try it on Zoom call and if you do a thumbs up, see if you get random fireworks in the background. 

Speaker 3 (46:11): 

I've never, I'm not have the fireworks setting. Yeah, 

Speaker 2 (46:13): 

I don't know why that works. I dunno how to turn it off. It just happens. And every now and again, people go like, what? So answers on the postcard If you get that to me, if you get phenomenon, 


Great. But yes, RE, I mean I love RE. I think REI are one of these kind of companies. One, I think the way that they're organized, I've been a fan of them for a long time. They don't have very many stores outside of North America, I don't think, but be fan of them for years. And I think particularly at the outset of the e-commerce boom, I think the one that they did one thing, which was, I just think it was almost like decades in front of everywhere else. In fact, it's still in front of everybody else. 

Speaker 3 (46:57): 

Oh, it absolutely is. 

Speaker 2 (46:58): 

Where they turn around and they go, you can order off their website and they will fulfill based on the store that is local to you and where they've got stock. And then you return back to that and you're like going, so you're not doing an online, an offline separate business. You're just basically meshing them the two and building off all of that and it optimizes stock and all these different sort of things and reduces delivery times. And I just think they are a brilliant firm and also organized in a way that they're, I think they're cooperative. 

Speaker 3 (47:28): 

They fact cooperative. They take a reason. I think it's 5% of your purchases essentially give that back to you as a dividend essentially. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of money there, but I never get the dividend because my kids use it, even though they're in their late twenties, early thirties, it's like, oh, I should have a big dividend. They're like, no, the balance is zero. I'm like, who is shopping here? Damn it. But they pay their employees to go outside and they encourage that. Again, it's the ethos. They walk the talk. And so those are my two examples. 

Speaker 2 (48:06): 

Awesome. Love them. They're great. So final question before we wrap up, because I tell people that every morning I find myself looking at the news and it feels like doom scrolling. And so I wanted to add a dash of good news at the end of these podcasts. So Michael, is there anything that you've tell me what you've seen in say the last week or so that has been the most interesting, positive, or exciting thing that you've seen, or that's something that just made you smile so we can finish on a good news story? 

Speaker 3 (48:38): 

So having been in this business and business all up and in life for many, many decades now, there's a certain expectation that as people get older, you kind of move off a little bit. And I saw a video that really made me smile. One of the things I do outdoors is I ski, snow ski a lot, and after ski there's generally, depending on what resort you're at, there's rowdy parties and dance music and all this stuff. And the video I saw was a guy at least a decade older than me, maybe more standing on a table, waving his hands in the air, dancing to some great electronic dance music with just surrounded by a sea of kids. So as I call that, which I enjoy doing, as well as bending the age curve where you go into a club or something where everyone's younger than you and you're the older guy, but it's a lot of fun. So anyhow, seeing this guy dancing on a table with ski resort really made me smile stuck in my head.