Jo van Riemsdijk and Kate Baird are delighted to introduce our May edition of the CX Talent Ltd newsletter. We are very proud that the amazing Carole Layzell Managing Director & Head of Barclays Local South has agreed to share her thoughts and professional insight with us.

Carole is a highly experienced CX and Business Leader with a successful career spanning over 35 years at Barclays, Nationwide Building Society, Salesforce & Medallia. An experienced international keynote speaker, and has established herself as an expert in digital innovation.

She is currently Managing Director for Barclays UK Local South playing a pivotal role in creating the strategy to deliver exceptional colleague and customer experiences using technology to help inform our decisions and create market leading customer and colleague outcomes.

Carole has led teams across face to face banking, back office operations and customer experience centres of excellence and is well-versed in harnessing the potential of digital experiences within the ever-evolving omni-channel landscape.

You’re currently Managing Director – Head of Barclays Local South.  What does that entail?

My role entails leading an amazing team of colleagues who support our customers f2f in our branches, Locals (which are sites where we work with local councils and communities to offer in-person banking support, helping customers with their everyday finances in places such as town halls and libraries, Pods or Vans) and out in our communities.

This incorporates half of England and Wales and West, with c3000 colleagues. My team are passionate about helping and supporting their customers – and it’s been fantastic in the last 8 months to get out and visit many of our sites and communities to experience the work they have been doing.

You’ve had a really broad career, starting off at Barclays, then at Nationwide and then to some of the SaaS platforms before coming back to Barclays again. How has working at Salesforce and Medallia helped shape your understanding of CX programmes that is beneficial to you in your current role?

Gaining a detailed understanding of how technology can support in delivering great Customer experiences has been key.  Technology can be a really powerful tool to support and enhance what we do, however it is crucial to recognise that technology should complement rather than replace the human touch.  Working with different organisations has enabled me to see the rich diversity in how differing industries approach their CX, some of the commonalities that exist and some of the Market leading innovations and ideas that are shaping the future.

Can you tell us about some of the successes you’ve had in terms of your CX and EX initiatives at Barclays?

One of my career highlights has been leading the Digital Eagle programme across Barclays. The programme started off by developing the digital skills of a small group of colleagues, but when we saw the passion to help each other and to in turn help customers we decided to scale the programme to enable all colleagues to benefit across all our communities. This provided our colleagues with increased skills that they could use personally but also, and vitally, could also share with our customers to enable and improve their digital skills – whether that be linked to banking or in other elements of their lives.  I`m incredibly proud of the huge number of digital tea and teach events and code playgrounds we developed for children that we have provided to our customers and non-customers alike. Also, increasing digital skills helps protect our customers against fraud and scams, and is important that we continue to work together to protect against this.

As a people leader in Barclays what do you see as key to improving colleague experience for the colleagues that you lead/work with?

I believe the most important elements are to be open and transparent, and also to give colleagues the opportunity to share what they think isn’t working and then work really hard to fix this.  This might though sometimes say that we can`t fix / action something at that moment in time and the reasons why. It’s vital to create a culture of speaking out, taking action and accountability to leave the organisation in a better place than you found it.

I have always been passionate about supporting colleagues with their own development and connecting people so they can take ownership of what development looks like for them – whether that be developing in their current role or getting them ready for their future career aspirations.  LinkedIn have recently announced that Barclays are in the Top 10 of their 2024 awards which look at the ‘best companies to grow a career’ – which is great to see and something that makes me feel proud to work for Barclays.

What attributes do candidates need to be able to demonstrate to be a strong candidate to work within the CX/EX team for a financial institution like Barclays?

We would be looking for candidates that are passionate about both colleagues and customers and embrace the concept of wanting to help everyone to thrive. Doing the right thing in the right way is critical and to be driven by our values. Customer Experience is always on our mind to make sure we drive progress for our clients, customers, communities, and fellow colleagues.

How do you think financial services will continue to utilise AI in CX in the future?

We are proud to be a business where personal connection is still important. Our customers tell us that they want to feel as though we know them each, as individuals. The best CX companies are doing this well already – although usually on much simpler use cases than in the banking industry. Our challenge is to harness the power of AI to give our Customers the benefit of all their data to help make money work better for them.

For example, in Chat, there have been many companies who have deployed AI to replace humans and it hasn’t worked well for them. Our vision is to use that channel to enable customers to have conversations with real people – but we’d like to use the AI to give our teams the most helpful insights into how to serve each customer best.

We also want to learn more from our customers about how we can serve them better. Again, AI can take a traditional survey format and instead collect feedback in a really conversational way that picks up on what’s most important to our customers, and explores it in a very natural, conversation.

As a recognised thought leader in Customer Experience, how do you see the discipline evolving in 2024 and beyond?

To deliver great customer experiences you need to ensure you are continually listening to your customers and then act on that feedback. It’s taking that insight and using it to take or suggest the next best action as our customers will not always know what is the best way forward and will rely on our expertise to support them in this. The organisations that truly listens to their customers and takes relevant value add actions are the ones that will thrive in the future.

What advice do you wish you’d been given in your early career?

Buy technology shares!

On a serious note – What has stood me well during my career is that in whatever role you do, continue to walk in the shoes of your customer.  Get out there first hand and experience the process or journey as your customers do, understand where the pain points and friction exist and then be relentless in removing that friction.

Are there any sectors or companies you wish you’d worked in at any point in your career?

I have enjoyed all the companies I have worked in as I have learnt so much from each of them. What I have particularly loved is the opportunity to work with different industries, for example the automotive industry based on how they are using technology to engage their customers and exceed expectations to deliver the wow factor. The hospitality sector is another example.  They are great examples where they are looking to exceed customer expectations based on customers hopes and dreams – and that’s something that gives a really interesting insight to what the art of the possible is!

We’d like to thank Carole Layzell for her time and professional insight into the world of CX and are certain that our followers and network will have enjoyed reading this latest edition of the CX Talent Ltd newsletter.

Stay tuned for our next months’ guest – we have another real treat in store for you! The purpose of our newsletter is to bring you real world advice and insight into CX initiatives from a broad range of senior professionals working in the field and producing great results to help you further your career in this amazing discipline.

At CX Talent LtdJo van Riemsdijk and Kate Baird are proud to be connected with the brightest and best talent in Customer Experience, Customer Operations, Digital Experience and Service Design at all levels.

If you would like to discuss your recruitment requirements in this area and how we can add value in finding the right fit for your team. Please do get in touch as we’d love to hear from you!

We are delighted to present this edition of our CX Talent Ltd newsletter featuring an interview with Liezel Botha  – an internationally experienced Transformation leader focused on Customer experience, Product management and Programme delivery.  Liezel leads large scale turnaround projects in digitilisation of CX, developing successful propositions based on customer needs, and managing product portfolios.  Currently at the nationalgrid ESO, she has also worked across both the Telco and Financial service industries.

Liezel – you’re currently Head of Customer Transformation at nationalgrid ESO. Can you tell us what your role entails?

Hi there, and thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts around Customer Experience in your newsletter.

Here at the ESO we are on a journey to drive Customer Centricity across the organisation. When I joined 18 months ago I developed alongside the team 5 focus areas to support the journey. These include the centralisation of customer data sources to drive deeper insight and support decision making, focussing on the development of customer journeys, driving continuous experience improvements through a Partnership model with business functions, embedding the use of CRM as our central customer tool and launching a new Customer Service Operating model.  My role as Head of Customer Transformation is to lead across these initiatives to deliver a stronger Customer Centric culture and a better overall experience for our customers.

You’ve got fantastic experience across Telco, Financial Services and Utilities in CX. All of these are heavily regulated – how are CX initiatives impacted by these regulations? What challenges or opportunities does that present? 

In my experience the regulatory environment should not be viewed as a limiting space to operate in. Regulation serves a great purpose to provide protection for customers and sets the scene for “hygiene” standardisation requirements or minimum expectations that has to be met for our customers. It therefore also creates opportunities to excel in meeting customer expectations and to drive differentiation in the experience offered.

What would you say would be your biggest successes in terms of CX in your career to date?

I would probably call out two very successful outcomes. In Vodafone UK there is a real drive to use journey analytics to look for customer pain points in existing customer journeys in order to eradicate them through, where possible, automation and digitalisation initiatives. Identifying these pain points also stops them from being replicated in journeys when new propositions are launched. With a relentless focus on continuous improvement we uplifted the Consumer Pay as you go NPS score by 2 points. This is significant at this is one of the most competitive portfolios in Telco. The other example that I will add is from the short term insurance industry where in Vodacom as Head of Insurance Propositions and Operations we unlocked a 51% revenue increase by understanding customer payment behaviour and needs and delivering a customer experience that provided more choice and addressed security concerns.

Of all the roles you have had over the course of your career – which one has been your favourite and why?

Ooo can I pick two again… Some years ago I launched the first Innovation Team for Vodafone UK. Our key focus was to use customer behavioural data/insight and technology developments to identify potential unmet customer needs or challenges and find a tech solution that could solve these for our customers thereby creating new propositions and revenue streams. The work that we did in the team (and these are some years ago) was ground breaking for QR barcode scanning, digital maps on mobiles and starting to understand human behaviour and UX for the use of mobile devices. All of those learnings are in real propositions and products and in today’s world “second nature” but started off from understanding customer needs and behaviour. My second example will have to be the short term Insurance role that I outline before. Insurance has difficult customer journeys as it starts from a “grudge purchase” perspective and no one really wants to go through a claims journey so getting it right from a customer experience point of view really does create a buzz across the team, a value outcome for the customer and off course revenue for the organisation.

I know you are particularly interested in consumer psychology and design thinking.  How does this impact your approach to CX?

Yes the world of consumer behaviour and the way our customers think and react has always been something that I have watched with interest. Human behaviour, how it adapts over time as new experiences or technologies comes along as well as the impact we can have on creating value outcomes for customers is just a world of endless opportunity. With data models and the world of AI this area will develop even faster than ever before. My go to place is always “what does the data say” and “how are customers behaving”. This shapes where our time and monetary investment goes to really make a difference in the experience we offer to our customers irrespective of channel used.

You have quickly built up a large team at nationalgrid  ESO. What skillsets do you think that people really need to hone if they want to pursue a career in CX going forward?

Yes we did ramp up the team rather quickly at the ESO to bolster a very strong foundation and to bring in additional skills. Working in customer experience is not just about the skill of co-creating strong customer journeys but really includes the ability to understand customer insight from data, have a strong commercial understanding to be able to articulate the ROI for investment in experience improvement and a strong omni channel marketing understanding. A CX role is one of the broadest skillset roles to work in and that is probably why I enjoy it so much.

What is your view about the use of AI to help CX initiatives?

I am a strong advocate of AI and believe that it is going to step change the CX industry over the coming years. I do believe that structure and boundaries will be needed to prevent unwanted or fraudulent interactions but with the right guardrails in place it can truly unlock a great experience for customers and will support organisations to redeploy staff to focus on complex futuristic customer challenges.

As a recognised thought leader in CX – how do you see the discipline evolving in the future?

That is really linked to the question around AI. Our industry is rapidly evolving and this will accelerate as more competition, more market pressures and great advancements in technology drives us to ensure that we deliver the best customer journey to obtain and retain customers for our organisations.  It is a very exciting discipline to be a part of with endless transformation opportunities all around.

Do you have any advice for those candidates who are looking to develop their career in CX?

Don’t be scared to move across different functional areas within an organisation as this gives you a breadth of understanding of the impact Customer Experience has on the organisations and vice versa as well as a solid understanding of the commercial implications. During my career I have covered product development,  portfolio management, programme delivery, customer experience with different design methodologies, proposition development and technology transformation programmes. CX impacts all of these and having the understanding of those functions equips you with insight on how to take teams and key stakeholders on a journey to understand the criticality of investing in CX initiatives.

 

We’d like to thank Liezel for her time and professional insight in answering our questions.

Stay tuned for our next months’ amazing CX guest for further insight into CX initiatives and advice on career progression.

At CX Talent Ltd – Jo van Riemsdijk and Kate Baird are proud to be connected with the brightest and best talent in Customer Experience, Customer Operations, Digital Experience and Service Design at all levels.

If you would like to discuss your recruitment requirements in this area and how we can add value in finding the right fit for your team. Please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

 

We are delighted to bring the March edition of our CX Talent Ltd newsletter featuring an interview with Andrew Clayton – an Award winning and Globally Experienced Transformation and CX Executive.

Andrew is a seasoned senior leader with a proven track record in designing, developing and delivering large scale transformational change programs that have made a significant impact on performance.

Andrew has extensive experience working within heavily regulated environments such as financial services, utilities, healthcare and insurance. He has held senior positions at a global, regional and business unit level and covered the functions of Marketing, Sales, Operations and HR.

Andrew is passionate about how organisations transform their business to bring their Purpose and Brand to life in everyday operations through the design and delivery of consistent and persistent end to end experiences that earn trust and loyalty and enables the delivery of sustainable earned growth and value.

Andrew is also a founding member of the global Net Promoter (NPS) Loyalty Forum and has contributed to several books and publications. He is a recognised thought leader and speaker on brand, digital transformation and CX.

Andrew – you’ve recently left Close Brothers where you were the Group Head of CX. Can you tell us what your role entailed and what was your biggest achievement there?

Without going into lots of detail, the core purpose of my role was being charged with the over-arching Group responsibility to shape, govern and deliver the experience strategy to enable customer led growth. Reflecting on my time I would say the most significant achievement my team and I had was helping to align the organisation around a common Customer Commitment ‘Customer North Star’ and target customer ambition. The Customer Commitment articulated how we wanted customers to feel in dealing with the brand, the behaviours that needed to be demonstrated and the outcomes, metrics and targets we needed to deliver against to earn and retain loyalty leadership. This framework provided the guidance to business units and stakeholders to co-create, shape and build their strategic CX roadmaps and end to end journeys to deliver loyalty leadership. The Customer Commitment framework and CX roadmaps also helped to identify, build and refine key CX capabilities and further embed a CX culture across the whole organisation that underpinned the overall company growth ambition, purpose and vision.

From your experience  of leading CX transformation in different sectors / industries are there any key success factors that CX leaders need to focus on in leading change ?

I personally don’t believe there is one single recipe for delivering successful CX transformation, but I do think there are some key ingredients that CX leaders need to include when trying to find their winning recipe for success. Concretely from my experience these would be my top 5 tips:

1. POSITION CX AS A STRATEGIC PRIORITY: Secure unwavering commitment from the top of your organisation ensuring there is a bridge between CX and your purpose, brand framework and values.

2. ESTABLISH THE BUSINESS CASE FOR CX: Robustly demonstrate how improving CX impacts the metrics that matter for your organisation and quantify the potential value opportunity.

3. EMBED CX INTO BUSINESS RYTHYM: Build CX into the operating framework and as part of strategic and planning cycle with appropriate budgets specifically allocated

4. INSTALL EFFECTIVE LISTENING & UPGRADE VOC CAPABILITY: Move away from ad-hoc surveys to always on predictive listening ensuring robust customer insight that drives real action and delivers meaningful impact

5. CREATE A CUSTOMER OBSESSED CULTURE: Weave customer centricity into your everyday culture, communications and reward & recognition systems

You’ve got fantastic experience across Healthcare, Financial Services and Utilities in CX. All of these are heavily regulated – how are CX initiatives impacted by these regulations. What challenges or opportunities does that present?

The first thing that comes to my mind when I get asked this question is why has the regulator intervened in the market in the first place? A large part of that answer must be that the market incumbents have failed in their duty to adequately deliver to the customers they are there to serve. This to me means there are opportunities for brands to stand-out and differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack if they place customer at the heart of everything they say and do and truly walk in customers shoes. As such I would say achieving the bar set by the regulator is the minimum requirement. Given it is an Olympic year it is like the bar you need to reach to even take part in the games, but it will certainly not be sufficient to earn you a gold medal. To earn the gold medal, you need to find ways to stand-out, perform when it matters and differentiate yourself in  your customers’ eyes as they are the ultimate judge in the business world of whether you fail or thrive. Practically that means consistently delivering what I call the ‘brilliant basics’ as well as finding opportunities to stand-out, the ‘branded hallmarks’ that make you unique and valued. In a previous organisation we challenged CEOs in each country business unit to identify based on customer insight some game-changer initiatives that they would personally sponsor and be accountable for executing to ‘shake’ their respective markets, stand out from the competition and deliver earned growth.

What would you say would be your biggest successes and your favourite moments in terms of CX in your career to date?

Any successes in my career to date have been shared moments and team success. I firmly believe in ‘We not Me’ as it is always about teams of people rather than any one individual in any of the transformation roles – I have been given the opportunity to lead. Personally, I always get the biggest source of pride and enjoyment from building organisational capabilities, leaving organisations in a better place than when I started and seeing the growth of diverse young talent. Looking back on some stand-out team successes I would say helping Allianz become one of the first global adopters and thought leaders in successfully implementing the NPS system, supporting Bupa in its journey to fulfil its purpose by bringing the brand to life through the end to end experience delivered, helping E.ON with the design and delivery of innovative new game changing propositions as part of the energy transition and finally aligning Close Brothers around a shared Customer ‘North Star’ ambition and commitment to guide decision making and embed a customer centric culture.

Over the course of your career – CX has changed enormously, what skillsets do you think that people really need to hone if they want to pursue a career in CX?

CX leaders to me are primarily change leaders helping organisations to transform their business to become more customer centric and earn the right to grow. Given CX roles by definition are transversal I think any CX leader needs to be a well-rounded systems thinker with an appreciation and knowledge of the key business functions and how each function’s skills and expertise can be best harnessed to deliver the target experience and outcomes. On a personal skills level – stakeholder management, effective communication and cross functional leadership are key assets for any aspiring CX leader to possess along with an unwavering passion for customer. On the technical side skills such as CX/UX design, insights and analytical ability, measurement and capability building are key for CX leaders and their teams to hone.

What is your view about the use of AI to help CX initiatives?

As a transformation leader I use the mantra ‘customer first not digital first’ as a key principle. With this in mind within the end-to-end customer design process, brands need to consider how to best blend AI with human experience design, which is relevant to their target customer needs. There are of course significant opportunities that AI presents to leaders such as improving real-time customer understanding fuelled by predictive analytics and insights, enabling better personalisation of experiences especially in the Metaverse, equipping colleagues with knowledge and prompts at their finger-tips to provide immediate support to customers and improving speed to market especially in content creation and prototyping. However, I would also say especially in relationship driven businesses it is important to stress the continued importance of building and maintaining strong human-to-human connections with customers whilst looking at ways to optimise the experience through the careful adoption of appropriate AI tools and digital technologies.

As a recognised thought leader in CX – how do you see the discipline evolving in the future?

I think there are couple of important emerging themes and trends to consider. Firstly I believe that CX will evolve to more broadly encompass the orchestration of the total experience. This means experience management will gradually accelerate to include a broader remit and scope which includes designing and improving the brand, product / proposition, customer and also employee experience. Secondly, I think  experience ecosystems will become increasingly important requiring leaders to look beyond just their own organisation towards designing and delivering the total experience both upstream and downstream with partner organisations. Finally, I see considerable movement towards the so called ‘third wave’ of experience management which for me includes key elements such as the continued maturity and adoption of AI, the evolvement of predictive analytics and greater personalisation. These are all of course exciting developments, but I still believe there is a long way to go in many organisations to get even the basics and fundamentals of experience management right as well as properly anchoring CX with a seat and sufficient influence at the Executive table.

Given your experience what advice would you have for those candidates who are looking to develop their career in CX?

As I mentioned earlier, I think CX professionals need to be well-rounded, multi-disciplinary change agents. I therefore believe gaining experience and knowledge in a variety of functions is key for any aspiring CX leader. I recommend this should include spells in Operations, Sales and Marketing. The ability to lead and influence people from across an organisation towards the achievement of common goals is also critical. As such ensuring time is spent on developing those leadership, influencing and stakeholder management skills through project management and chairing groups and committees would be helpful skills to attain. Finally, I would say building a network internally and externally of trusted peers and colleagues who have been there and done that has always been a massive help to me and something I would highly recommend any young leader to nurture as part of their career development.

What is next for you? What sort of challenge are you looking for next?

I am always excited and positive about what the future holds. I am particularly keen to work together with purpose led brands who want to create a better, more sustainable future and who are committed to placing customer at the heart of their business strategy. I am passionate about supporting organisations in driving transformation to earn the right to grow. I want to continue to equip organisations to differentiate their brands from competitors through the total experience delivered that builds trust and loyalty from their customers, partners and their employees alike.

We’d like to thank Andrew for his time and professional insight in answering our questions.

Stay tuned for our next months’ amazing CX guest for further insight into CX initiatives and advice on career progression.

At CX Talent LtdJo van Riemsdijk and Kate Baird are connected with the brightest and best talent in Customer Experience, Customer Operations, Digital Experience and Service Design at all levels.

If you would like to discuss your recruitment requirements in this area and how we can add value in finding the right fit for your team. Please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

www.cxtalent.co.uk

01279 550 102

contact@cxtalent.co.uk

We are delighted to bring you the February edition of our CX Talent Ltd newsletter, featuring an interview with Richie Rumbelow, Customer Experience Director at Sovereign Housing Association.  Richie has over eight years of senior CX experience in various sectors, including health, charity, and property. He is a CXPA Professional Member as well as being certified in NPS, Six Sigma, and coaching.

  • You’re currently Director of Customer Experience at Sovereign Network Group. What does that entail?

Customer Experience at Sovereign Network Group consists of four key teams covering service design, insight, reporting and customer involvement. We’re a small team, which works across the organisation driving customer-centric improvement.

  • What is the most challenging aspect of working in CX for a Housing Association?

The UK has a lack of affordable housing and this combined with economic pressures, creates the perfect storm for the housing sector, which is then felt by tenants and Housing Associations. When it comes to working in CX specifically, one of the biggest challenges my team face is a lack of awareness of CX and the benefits it brings for both customers and the organisation. CX is often thought to be customer service or some kind of undefined mystic art.

  • Can you tell us about some of the successes you’ve had in terms of your CX initiatives at Sovereign Network Group to date?  

There are several areas where I think my team has really excelled over the last year. At the end of 2023, we produced the organisation’s first Voice of the Customer report, which has really helped the organisation understand customers and the challenges they face, most importantly it has guided where we focus improvement activity. To further support this, we’re just about to launch the organisation’s first needs-based customer segmentation.

We’re also enhancing our existing feedback mechanisms, layering on geomapping, which allows us to spot trends not just in specific regions or areas but in small towns and even on specific roads.

In addition to our work improving customer insight, we’re pushing forward with several key projects which will enable self-service for customers. It’s early days but we’re really excited to be working on this throughout 2024.

  • You’ve got some really interesting experience across your career in CX. How do you feel that your career path has led you to your position today at Sovereign Network Group? Would you have done anything differently?

My first role after university was at PPL, working in a contact centre environment, which gave me a good grounding in the essentials of customer service. I was then fortunate enough to spend time working at one of the UK’s largest charities: Cancer Research UK. Here I gained vital project and programme experience within the Digital team. My role there also expanded and I led the Consumer Insight team, which is where my love affair with research started.

My most recent role before joining Sovereign Network Group was at the British Heart Foundation, working in the marketing team. I led a large transformation project to bring together various customer service teams in order to provide a single, consistent customer service experience. I also oversaw the people strategy for the Marketing, Fundraising & Engagement team, which was incredibly fulfilling but also helped strengthen my understanding of employee experience and its link to customer experience.

The skills I’ve gained working in customer service, digital and marketing teams have positioned me well for a CX Director role, as these are the three key disciplines, which I’ve found to have the biggest impact on the customer experience.

  • Your experience in CX is broad both in terms of what you’ve been doing in CX And also from an industry sector perspective. You had a commercial start at PPL – which is a music licensing agency as well as a Telco to working in the Third Sector and The Public Sector. What did you learn about CX in each and what are the key differences about working in a not for profit organisation in CX that you enjoy the most?

There have been cultural difference across every organisation I’ve worked at, but there have probably been many more similarities. Every organisation I’ve worked at has cared about its customers and wants to improve their experience because it’s the right thing to do. Some organisations are more commercial in their approach, with a keen appreciation of the Return on Investment of CX. It may sound strange but I’ve found charitable and not-for-profit organisations to be incredibly commercial as there’s a heightened awareness that every penny comes from customers and there’s a responsibility to use income as effectively as possible.

  • What attributes do candidates need to be able to demonstrate to be a strong candidate for a Housing Association, not for profit or charity organisation?

When I interview people, I look for a genuine passion for customers. Buzzwords like ‘customer-obsessed’ are great as long as people have the examples to back them up, but words alone can fall flat.

CX is all about making change in an organisation and no one can do that without their colleagues; I look for people who can build and maintain relationships. Having strong influencing skills, the ability to sell a vision and the perseverance to cope with setbacks and challenges is also key. This is particularly important in the housing sector as it’s a challenging environment, so you need high resilience levels.

  • How do you think Housing Associations will utilise AI in CX in the future?

I think Housing Associations will use AI in the common ways other organisations are using it. The most obvious and easy step is automating transactional customer service interactions, freeing up people to engage in more complex or emotive interactions.

The other natural application for AI within the housing sector is though smart sensors, which can monitor and analyse data on things like temperature and humidity.

Sovereign Network Group is currently looking at the systems it uses to book and track repairs. There is AI baked into some of the systems we’re looking at and it will undoubtedly have a role in things like dynamic scheduling and route planning.

  • What skills do you think candidates in CX should be looking to hone for the future?

AI and Digital skills are obvious areas for people to focus on. The area my team are focused on currently is total experience, bringing together customer and colleague experience, combining it with knowledge and insight to design experiences. I think developing a good understanding of how People and HR teams design Employee Engagement strategies is going to be crucial for CX professionals.

I also think getting leadership experience is crucial. This can be challenging when you’re starting your career but experience outside of work is a brilliant: do you coach a football team or run a lunch club with friends?

  • What difficulties have you had in recruiting for your CX teams to date?

I’m fortunate to have a complete team after recruiting back in 2023 following an expansion of the CX team. Thinking back to the recruitment process, we saw a huge number of applications, however there were only a small number of shortlisted candidates. During the process we did see candidates withdrawing, even as last minute as an hour before the interview.

  • As a recognised thought leader in Customer Experience, how do you see the discipline evolving in 2024?  

I think we have an exciting year ahead. The top things I’m anticipating are the continued deployment of bots and automation, with voicebots becoming far more prevalent. I’m also excited to see Augmented Reality being used to help resolve customer queries.

Customer journey mapping has always been a staple in any CX professional’s toolkit and I think this will evolve so we’re looking at more advanced journey analytics, visualising online and offline journeys much more easily with tracking made possible through omnichannel platforms.

Overall, I think CX professionals will work even more closely with Employee Experience professionals and a more joined up Total Experience discipline will evolve.

Welcome to our launch edition of the CX Talent Ltd Newsletter.

We’ve thought long and hard about what would be a useful monthly write up, and we’ve decided that as well as continuing with our usual postings, you might find it useful to hear from Senior Customer Experience Leaders with their views on CX, the successes and challenges they have had, and their advice for career development in this space.

We will interview a new voice every month. If you have any questions you’d like us to put to our guests – please do drop us a line at contact@cxtalent.co.uk.

We are delighted to introduce our first guest for 2024 – Michelle Laramy – Director, Customer Experience of Canary Wharf Group.

Michelle joined Canary Wharf Group as Director, Customer Experience in February 2022 with responsibility to develop the strategy for CWG’s customers and to support its ambition to better understand diverse customer profile using data and insights.

Michelle joined CWG from the Crown Estate where she was the Head of Customer since 2015. At the Crown Estate, Michelle was accountable for the development and delivery of the customer strategy and roadmap across the £14bn UK real estate business. Previously, Michelle was the Head of Customer Experience at Santander for over four years.

Michelle Laramy Director of Customer Experience at The Canary Wharf Group

Michelle you’re currently Director of Customer Experience at the Canary Wharf Group plc.  What does that entail?

I have been a CX practitioner for several years working across a range of industries. Starting my career in retail for John Lewis, moving into banking and then into Real Estate.

I joined Canary Wharf Group as Director of Customer Experience 2 years ago.  Canary Wharf Group is the developer of the largest urban regeneration project in Europe.  It is a vibrant mixed-use destination and over the past 35 years, we have developed a diverse community that includes over 17.5m sq ft of offices, 2,200 homes, 1.1m sq ft of retail and leisure, 16.5 acres of green spaces and waterside living.

My role was created to continue to evolve Canary Wharf Group to a customer-centric business and my remit covers all end users of our estate. So that’s shoppers, office workers, residents and the wider community that visit Canary Wharf every day.

What do you enjoy about it most?

I love the variety the role brings, from leading technology transformation projects to meeting customers, I get involved in so many interesting initiatives and projects, and it’s great to see these projects benefit customers and employees.

Can you tell us about some of the successes you’ve had in terms of your CX initiatives at Canary Wharf to date? 

Digital transformation is an important priority to Canary Wharf Group and it’s integral to how end users of our space want to interact with us.  My team led the development of The Canary Wharf App, which is an estate wide app for the estate.  It is a one-stop shop for finding out everything we have to offer from shops, restaurants, leisure, offers and more. The app has over 40k regular users and has supported our strategy to understand our customers and bring us closer to them.

In January my team also launched a new concept called Wharf Connect.  Wharf Connect is a dynamic community designed to empower the next generation of professionals in Canary Wharf. It brings together future leaders, encourages office engagement, and fosters an environment that will encourage the retention of early career professionals as they feel a part of a wider Canary Wharf ecosystem.  The network aims to create an environment that values inclusivity, connection, and collaboration; qualities all extremely important for the next generation.

At Canary Wharf and previously at The Crown Estate, you have had a huge range of customers from leaseholders to office workers to day visitors.  What are the main challenges that that breadth of customers creates?

It is a challenge, as you have a lot of different customer types, and they have a different set of outcomes from the relationship they have with us. So, we need to carefully design experiences to meet their needs and expectations. A one size fits all does not really apply.

Do you think that coming into commercial real estate from a different sector, financial services, has been beneficial in your career? 

CX professionals can easily move been sectors, their skills and capabilities are very transferable. I learnt a lot in financial services about technology, apps and platforms, all of which have been useful skills and knowledge to bring into real estate.

How do you see AI impacting on CX in the property market?

AI has an enormous potential to reshape real estate, prop tech has already laid a foundation for this, however, the understanding of its capabilities is still low. There are some interesting pilots taking place across real estate, but the industry has a long way to go.

What skills do you think candidates in CX should be looking to hone for the future?

Having a data-driven mindset, CX professionals must understand the business data, as you can’t seek to improve what you can’t measure.

A strategic outlook is vital, as anything a CX professional does should align with the overall objectives of the business they work for.

Project Management capabilities can also set professionals apart, as the role is much more digital-led, so you need to understand how to lead projects cross functionally.

CX is also not a department, it’s the way a whole business interacts with its customers, so you need to have brilliant communication and relationship building skills.

What difficulties have you had in recruiting for your CX teams to date?

In smaller businesses, you sometimes require a more generalist CX practitioner and not someone who is very specialist in one thing, so this can be a challenge. Bigger companies need vast capabilities and require a specialist for each specialist area, so it depends on the company’s requirements.

As a recognised thought leader in Customer Experience, how do you see the discipline evolving in 2024? 

CX has changed a lot over the years. COVID accelerated the use of digital customer experience, pushing brands towards self-service and automated services, and this will keep evolving with the evolution of Al. However, all brands need to get the balance right between digital and human-to-human contact.  I believe CX Practitioners have a big part to play to get this balance right.  At Canary Wharf we have advanced in the digital space to make things easier for customers, but we also recognise when companies are telling us that face-to-face and building a sense of community is critical for their business to thrive.

What advice would you have given to your younger self in terms of career development?

Here are my top tips!

Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out, sometimes success is a bumpy road and it can take you in all different directions.

Try and find something you love, this will help you really drive your career and ambition forward.

Don’t hesitate to take risks, if an opportunity presents itself grab it with two hands and don’t talk yourself out of it.

Build a strong professional network, networking helps with your career trajectory and some of the amazing people you meet along the way help you support and guide your career path.

We’d like to thank Michelle for her time and professional insight in answering our questions.

Stay tuned for our next months’ CX guest for more insight into CX initiatives and advice on career progression.

At CX Talent Ltd – Jo and Kate are connected with the brightest and best talent in Customer Experience, Customer Operations, Digital Experience and Service Design at all levels.  If you would like to discuss your recruitment requirements in this area and how we can add value in finding the right fit for your team. Please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!

😲 ‘There are over 300 applicants for some jobs!’ 😲

❓ Candidates often ask me what the point is – applying for roles when there are so many applicants in the system already?!

✅ If it is your perfect job, if you are well suited to the role – in terms of your experience and skill set – you SHOULD go for it!

❓ Why? Will it be a waste of my time?

✅ It’s absolutely not a waste of time BUT you MUST make sure you really tailor your CV to that role. It does not matter if you are the first or last person to apply for a role. What does matter is that you are CLEARLY the right fit! Make it easy for Resourcing teams to understand why you are the best person for the role!

✅Don’t assume they understand all the areas of your job that they’ve been asked to recruit for.

✅Don’t assume they will read your CV from cover to cover.

💡 If you are one of those Resourcing people – having to sift through hundreds of probably very unaligned CVs – consider reaching out to a Specialist Customer focused Agency. We don’t need to sift through endless CVs – as we have access to an enormous and growing database of relevant and brilliant candidates who are both active and passive.

💡 All we need is a detailed briefing and an agreement on fees and we will have a shortlist to you in a very short space of time, freeing you up to work on all those other roles!

CX Talent Ltd is a specialist recruitment agency focused on Customer Experience, Transformation, Digital Experience and Service Design roles. With over a decade of experience recruiting in this area we are a trusted partner committed to delivering results.

Get in touch with Kate Baird or myself to discuss your recruitment requirements.

🌟 If you are looking for a new role in Customer Experience, you’ll be spending quite a lot of time looking at job descriptions for jobs that are actually about delivering something completely different.

❓ It might be Customer Service, Contact Centre Management, Operations, Digital Transformation, UX….. all great, but probably not exactly what you are looking for.

🌟🌟Don’t forget – the same thing will be happening to the recruiter – they’ll be reviewing and rejecting lots of CVs that aren’t what they are looking for. It’s really important to make sure that it is EASY to see from your CV that your experience is right for the role.

❓❓How to do this?

▶ Make sure your profile section emphasises successes aligned to the role goals
▶ Use a key skills section to bullet point EXACTLY the experience needed
▶ Add quantifiable detail in the professional experience section to support this
▶ Use your real world expertise in an achievements section to draw attention to your ability to own your expertise – any awards, published work, judging panels etc all goes here.

🌟🌟🌟🌟If you are a recruiter – you can avoid this altogether by using a specialist agency who understands CX and will provide you with a brilliantly screened shortlist of excellent candidates! (Get in touch with me or Jo at CX Talent Ltd!!)

If you are a candidate in this space, you MUST spend the time tailoring your CV for the role.

#cxtalent #cx #goodrecruitment #headofcustomerexperience

UX Designers, UX Researchers, Service Designers, Digital Product Designers and Owners. Are you thinking of your next move? Are you considering taking a permanent role over the course of the next few months as the economic outlook is so bumpy?!

If so – please get in touch with Jo van Riemsdijk or Kate Baird. We’ve got some gorgeous perm roles for UX Designers, Service Designers, Product Design Leads and a whole lot more! We’d love to hear from you!

CX Professionals – not forgetting about you either – we are always delighted to hear from any CX professionals either looking to expand their team or looking for your next move.

Get in touch today!

#uxjobs #cxjobs #hiring #recruitment

Are you a Contractor? With the cost of living crisis and the rather gloomy prospects for the economy – might you be thinking about going perm? OR is this the perfect time to be a contractor / freelance as you can just work on specific business critical projects. I am really interested in hear your thoughts.

At CX Talent Ltd we have quite a few roles on at the moment where we need permanent people. These roles – (where the Contractor market is particularly strong) are in UX, Service Design and Product Design. Our Clients are keen to bring in permanent staff as they are really keen on continuity rather than a constant change in personnel.

What are your thoughts? Stay Contracting or think about Perm? We are really interested to hear!

Whatever your thoughts – Kate Baird and Jo van Riemsdijk are keen to hear from you! Especially if you are ready for your next move!

#uxdesign #cxjobs #uxjobs #servicedesign