Pioneering woman leadership and CX

Cheryl and I grabbed a table in at the back of a coffee shop at Ceasar's Palace where she'd just finished participating the year's biggest CCWomen's Event. CCWomen is a woman lead organization that works together to raise the profile of women in customer engagement roles, pursuing success, developing new skills, and learning the value and power of our community. Her passion for empowering women was immediately evident, and the glow coming out of the CCWomens event was palpable. Here’s the conversation we had next.

A legacy of 51 years of CX Experience

In a way, Cheryl's lifetime of CX accomplishments started 51 years ago with her mother, who as a role model for women everywhere, laid a foundation of courage and achievement for women and the CX industry.

Cheryl spoke about her childhood and the impact her mom had on her. In a time before #metoo during the 1970s Cheryl's mom grabbed the corporate ladder and bravely climbed it rung by rung to the top and retired as a VP. She forged a path for women everywhere, and Cheryl followed in her footsteps. For the last 20+ years, Cheryl has proudly done the same.

I can't sell them a bridge, but I can keep them from jumping off one.

Over her career at Citizens Bank, she's held many customer experience roles starting with managing a small customer care team where she developed a reputation as a "fixer." That reputation led her to take on impossible challenges, each time delivering high value to the organization, not to mention balancing her life as a wife and mom in a time when women had to redefine workplaces everywhere if they were to succeed. Today she's the VP responsible for end-to-end credit card client experience, leading day-to-day servicing performance and strategy.

Over the years, Cheryl passed on a tradition of customer care to more than 1000 professionals under her leadership. She has a fundamental point of view that gets right to the core of every customer experience, and it's Listen, Listen, Listen.

Simple, Savvy, Smart Customer Experiences

To manifest her Listen, Listen, Listen philosophy, she actively participates in calls with every member of her team. She's an active leader with high emotional intelligence (EQ) who listens to both agents and customers alike. This high engagement management style reinforces the connection between the brand and the marketplace. The result is transformative as evidence in her shift of Citizenz Bank’s Net Promotor Score (NPS) from 43 to 63 in only six months.

“Great experiences should be the basic premise of everything we do”

In her words. "The magic simple." She takes the stance that her role is to address the things that pull customers away from great experiences. She focuses on how the customer wants to do business. I made the connection to the book from Robert Fulghum All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and she agreed on the importance of the fundamental importance of kindness, warmness, and being friendly and their impact on the success of customer care agents, and ultimately the brand.

Over the last 21 years at Citizenz Bank she's transformed the culture of contact centers and made it easy to do business across several lines of business.

Mobile phones are changing the CX landscape.

When I asked Cheryl about the future, she described the changing landscape of banking and the impact that mobile phones have had on the industry. She's seeing in increasing desire for customers to use their "channel of choice" to engage. She believes that the future of customer service for many banking needs will shift to "self-service" which is consistent with the things we heard from Joshua Tye from Compass Group who believes that the customer mindset today is oriented around self-service.

Cheryl holds out that not everything will become self-service, and retail banking customers will always want a personal touch.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

When I asked Cheryl about her thoughts for the future of CX and any advice she has for those starting careers. Her parting words were simple and clear:

"Listen, Listen, Listen"