Blank Canvas Story Joshua

Getting know the secrets of transformational CX leadership inside and out.

Joshua and I connected through Customer Contact Week 2019 and the conversations that took place over the next few days quickly led to a fast friendship as we talked about customer experiences, leadership, purpose, commitment and overcoming the odds by the grace of those who saw a bright future for us and helped us along the way. Ultimately, Joshua exemplifies the perfect combination of sensitivity and forethought, making him one of the most impressive leaders I've ever had the good fortune to know.

Since taking on the role of Director of Customer Experience, Joshua had his hands full leading the organization to rapidly maximize new CX opportunities for the company by scaling up from 900 to 1M customer interactions throughout the enterprise. Whoa.

That's a massive transformation. However, the man behind it remains humbly conscientious as he chooses each word of our discussion with a purposeful reflection around the opportunities he provides as well as those given. He's a natural born leader.

The chief job of a CX person is alignment

When I asked Joshua how he managed 100,000% growth in such a short amount of time, he quickly dismissed the accomplishment as his own and instead, pointed to the importance that all leaders play in positively impacting the lives of customers. He reflected on the first days of the mission when there wasn't a clearly defined framework for CX. So without any playbook to follow, he took what learnings he already had and began to work with stakeholders across the organization to build everything from the ground up.

"To have a transformation, you have to start with the FORM if you want the TRANS to happen."

Joshua's sensitivity to both form and function of experiences design comes from a unique place because he not only works on behalf of retail shoppers at Compass Group, he also works for healthcare side of the house. What makes him different than most any other CX leader is the fact that he's concerned with hospital patient needs too.

So how do you balance the needs of healthcare patients and retail shoppers?

Joshua works from a place of thoughtful leadership and a belief that all leaders within the organization already share an idea of what the customer or patient experience be. Everyone has a vision.

What Joshua does is dutifully put that vision into action by starting with a cooperative framework, because, as he puts it, "without a structure for stakeholders to work with (a form), the goal of patients, customers, vendors, or employees experiences will only stay a vision."

"The foundation of CX is Service and a passion for forging leaders within a space to take CX further and wider with a commitment to learning."

If one can chase 1,000 then two can chase 10,000

Everyone I talk to mentions at some point that aligning teams, stakeholders, and mindset play a large, if not the most significant role in change management. What separates Joshua from other transformational leaders he never stops asking himself, "what is the strength of your leadership when it comes to mobilizing your team?" I feel what he's saying because I'm not sure whether he's expressing the thoughts to an external audience or himself when he says it.

At this point in the conversation, we slipped into NFL football metaphors about the formation a team takes on the field and how well they can or cannot hold their positions during the play. Just as in football, CX depends on every player holding their "positions" to make progress down the field and ultimately the win a Super Bowl. The metaphor made perfect sense.

Continuing the metaphor, In football, you need to start with a good playbook! After the playbook is defined, it's essential to coach players to hold their formation during the play. Simple as it sounds, it's not easy to do in the face of opposition because we have no idea what the offense is going to do.

To hold the position, to execute the play, in the face of uncertainty takes bravery. Joshua recommends being resolute in holding our "positions" with a commitment to winning if we are to carry out our vision for customers and patients.

"My mother taught me to have a mindset of no excuses for yourself. She instilled within me a belief that there is always a way."

The more we spoke, I wondered if his insights may be coming from more than his mother's advice. Maybe his work with hospital patients was accentuating his compassion and thoughtfulness. I think I'm right.

When the conversation changed from making customers happy to helping healthcare patients, you could feel the pause Joshua took before speaking.

He began by saying, "the patient experience is much more serious than the customer experience." To make an impact on the healthcare side of the business; the extension of trust is imperative." It requires more than leadership alone; it involves humility and compassion as well, nonetheless this is needed in CX.

Hospital patients have different concerns. Patients start with sensitivity to inclusion, where a customer may come from a self-service or assisted service mindset.

Additionally, patients generally have a high degree of worry about test results or conditions they are experiencing. The most important thing a patient wants is to know is that you genuinely have their best interest in mind.

In terms of experience, patients want to hear critical wording and a tone of voice, that conveys that you as a care provider will ease their anxiety – how often do you do this, how well do you do this? Will you take care of me? They want evidence-based feedback. They need human engagement to feel comfortable.

A patient wants the ability to ability to manage their health. They want you to deliver on the promise of your brand. They want to know what to do when they get home, how to manage their health better. Hospital brands need to have a strong sense of compassion in their value.

A lifestyle of leadership and it's essential to impact customer needs positively.

To get at the heart of Joshua's work. We have to look at leadership. Throughout the conversation, his notions of teamwork were evident in everything he said.

Along the way, of course, he tossed out some of the contemporary concepts of Servant Leadership; A leadership philosophy in which the primary goal of the leader is to serve. Servant leadership is different from traditional leadership, where the leader's primary focus is removing barrier that keep their company or organization from performing optimally. A Servant Leader shares power and puts the needs of the employees, customers, or patients first. He helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

Servant leadership inverts the norm, which puts the customer service associates as the main priority. Instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people. Joshua exemplifies this spirit.

He went on to talk about mentors he connected with early in life that instilled in him, the notion of sponsorship. In his mind, this meant that no one does anything alone and are first introduced to the masses by someone behind the scenes we may not have heard of or give credit. It means he releases the power of praise in exchange for the grace of helping others. I believe It's his secret to his success.

Brand equity is the realization of loyalty and growth.

Joshua says we need to look at the person. Where they are in their moment of need or moment of desire for a solution, it's not about a technical discipline or margin change. There's evidence to suggest that value comes from the experience of the brand more than anywhere else. When a customer tries your product or service, if the first experience is different from the second, the brand equity suffers, thus the consistency in delivery is paramount.

It's how you actuate on the promise of the brand for the customer that's meaningful. It's not a tangible measure in the beginning. Long term, it's recognized in loyalty and growth over time.

A future without price tags on people.

As we wrapped up conversations, I asked Joshua about his predictions or hopes for the future of business. What did he think are the essential things for us all to consider as we move our work forward?

He, like many others, is looking at AI as an integral part of our future. He suggests we look at ways to automate and infuse AI into the process with careful attention not to break off relationships and compassion from the services provided.

He recommended approaching everything from a human perspective and using science-based systems to better relationships instead of replacing them.

His parting words were:

“Everything rises and falls on leadership, and as a leader, you must be convicted in the strongest sense. Conviction is having a “why” that is strong enough to discipline your actions; without it you cannot lead yourself and subsequently cannot lead a team because that very team will sense your inability to lead yourself”