Bill Staikos – Head of Customer Experience at Freddie Mac

Bill Staikos talks about the core tenants of CX and why they are important, being customer-focused vs. customer-obsessed, and how to align CX with business outcomes.

Nick Glimsdahl 0:03 

My guest on the podcast today is Bill Staikos. Bill is the head of customer experience at Freddie Mac. Welcome podcast bill.

Bill Staikos 0:11 

Thanks so much for having me, Nick.

Nick Glimsdahl 0:14 

You’re Welcome. So I always do a few tidbits and try to do is create much creeping as I can on LinkedIn and online. And I found two things that were interesting to me. So the first one is that one of the languages you know, besides English is Greek. Why did you choose Greek? Or how did you go about that?

Bill Staikos 0:34 

So great question. I would just say that Greek chose me. So my, my family or my parents immigrated to the US from Greece in 1968. Looking for the American dream, so my brother and I were both born here, but we’re big family total over 61st cousins, and, or spread out all over the world. So I agree chose me. But I honestly don’t really

See you consistently speak it, stay with the family.

Still do my try and speak as much as possible. It’s one of those things if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. And yeah, yeah, it’s just something that I’m proud of, and just you know, proud of the heritage too. So

Nick Glimsdahl 1:17 

Very cool. One of the previous guest is a net France, and she’s she speaks German too, but she’s like, I, I don’t speak it as much now. And I’m kind of losing it. So she’s like, when I try to talk, I don’t want to I don’t want to talk to somebody has flew in so I don’t sound stupid. So she’s, she’s great. And then the other thing is, you work for an organization where you spent some time in Switzerland. How was that experience?

Bill Staikos 1:44 

So I worked for Dubai, we say the company is working on, I work for Credit Suisse, worked three years in New York. And then I was asked to move out to Switzerland to head up customer experience globally for the private bank. And it was a fantastic experience, both professionally and personally. I mean, personally, my wife and I would take and we didn’t have kids then. So we would take like three or four we driving towards we pick a country and then drive out there from Switzerland and explore north, south, east and west. We had a lab and we bring a lab with us. So my lab is probably in more bodies of water than then than many people in the world, frankly. But personally, it was it was fantastic. Professionally, it was a wonderful experience, one just to be able to work in a new in a different culture, there’s a very different way of working out there than you might find in the US. So it really kind of helped check some of my biases, or some of the bad habits that we might have in the US and really made me think twice about how to operate in a really efficient way. So,

Nick Glimsdahl 2:53 

So cool, as one of my bucket lists is to be to hit Switzerland. So before I do, I’m going to reach out, reach out.

Bill Staikos 3:02 

Sounds good.

Nick Glimsdahl 3:04 

So you’re a vet in the customer experience space? How did you go about getting started?

Bill Staikos 3:13 

It’s a good question. So, you know, I, I attributed actually, to my Greek heritage. So not sure if it’s like this, where you are, where some of your listeners are. But in the northeast where I grew up, if you were a Greek you owned or worked in a diner, by just full stop. And, you know, as early as I can remember, it was all about your customer coming in getting them to keep coming back. And there was no, you know, social network. So it was all word of mouth marketing, right. And my parent’s diner was actually on a truck route, or just off the truck Route, Route 95, in New York, and all the truckers would see me and say, hey, if you’re going to be driving through here, you got to stop that, you know, this diner in Oxford, in New York. And so I got a taste for the work, I guess, are some of the core tenants of the work really early on. And, you know, when I went to college, got my degree in finance that I was going to work on Wall Street, and I found out that I really just didn’t love that, doing that work every day. And from there I got involved in in market research. And from there market research base consulting, then started going on to the design side and started bringing together elements around insights, analytics, design, and then how do you use that all that information to help change a culture in an organization as well, to really cater towards those customer needs, and start solving problems from the customer backwards that he would find it like an apple or an Amazon as an example?

Nick Glimsdahl 4:49 

Yeah, no, it’s

Sounds like a really cool background. So there’s, I would still consider customer experiences semi on that infant stage, but what do you what’s changed from the beginning? To what you know now to what you knew then.

Bill Staikos 5:08 

So it feels like there’s been a confluence of disciplines that have come together versus, you know, 20 plus years ago, right? I think that you’ve got, you’ve got your traditional market research, client insights, organizations that are now trying to morphing, sort of the more of how do we design experiences, you have your core design agencies, like a frog consulting a frog design, as an example, who really is focused on design and brings in a lot of that research and analytics over the past five years, now you’ve got data science, creeping into the space where they’re bringing AI tools, machine learning tools, how to leverage those in a way to start to orchestrate those, those journeys and experiences in a much more proactive way. And, and, you know, I think that, you know, in the past year, it feels like, for me, at least, the conversation around employee experience now is a big piece, right? And you can’t have a great customer experience without a great employee experience. And what does that mean? Right? And that’s where I’m hearing a lot of conversation happening, as well as some other things. Talking before the show, like, how do you kind of measure success of a cx team? And how do you tie this to real business outcomes to show the true value of the work?

Nick Glimsdahl 6:28 

Yeah, well, we’re going to get into business outcomes later. So listen to the entire podcast. But, you know, the first thing I want to talk about is around what you’re doing at Freddie Mac. So the head of customer experience, explain to the listeners kind of what you do.

Bill Staikos 6:48 

So I lead a team. Pretty decent sized team, we have sort of three core competencies. One is a design team. And I would really say that’s really geared more towards design facilitation. So working with product teams, agile, the business overall, to help them identify a client problem. And then solution around that client problem or problems. The second one is insights and analytics, so more of your traditional survey team and then working with the results, excuse me, working with the results of those surveys, back into sort of the design team and with the business and really help measure sort of the size of the magnitude of the problem. And really what customer’s needs and expectations are, we’re getting a lot more into the analytics piece, now, and specifically around journeys. And we can talk a little bit about that, especially when we get to measurement. And then another team that is focused on sort of what I call his client solutions, and there’s a cx delivery component in there. And you know, that team kind of looks at everything that we’re learning about the customer, and helps worker works with sort of those client facing staff, and acts as the voice of the customer and the business. So you’ve got your client inside the team, thinking more fanatically, you’ve got your design team solutioning around the client, and then you’ve got that client solutions team helping people understand what does this mean for my client? Or what does this mean for this broader client segment. So you hit the hit the business at the 50,000 foot view and the 10,000 foot view simultaneously, which, you know, frankly, I didn’t have a team like that client solution team, up until I joined Freddie Mac. And if I can go back 20 years and actually change something, I would put that team into practice, then I mean, it really can have a profound impact on the business and how they execute around a customer.

Nick Glimsdahl 8:51 

So it’s kind of like an Oreo, where you put the organization in the middle, and he put this

Bill Staikos 8:57 

I’m not sure if we’re there yet. But you know, but I think that I’m really lucky. I’ve got a wonderful team, great leaders, and great people on the team, who care deeply about the customer, and what we’re doing and have a great reputation in the business. And, you know, we’re able to do quite a bit, frankly, more than most teams can because of our ability to bring all those disciplines together in the right way. So

Nick Glimsdahl 9:28 

Yeah, it’s great. It sounds like a great strategy, great structure of the organization. And I look forward to hearing more about your guys’ success at Freddie Mac. So one of the questions I have two things that I would like to discuss. One of them is around the core tenants of cx and you kind of brought this up into my attention. I would love to hear more about that. So what from your perspective, what are the core tenants of cx?

Bill Staikos 9:56 

So when you think about customer experience, right, it’s strategically designed, managed and measured. And the best way. And when I think about great or six leading companies out there in the marketplace, I’ve always looked at them as delivering three very distinct disciplines. One is, they start with the customer, always. So you need a very solid practice and insights practice within your business. And it’s not just surveys, right? I mean, there, that’s certainly one component, I think, a really important one. But it’s really understanding clients throughout the journey, not just sort of doing a tracker, a tracker app, you know, post a context center call or doing an annual survey around a relationship, it’s really understanding in the moments that matter what do your customers feel, right, and applying analytics around that. And some of it can be advanced, if you don’t have the dollar for your team, it doesn’t necessarily need to be but trying to put some analysis behind that data in a way that helps you drill down into the most meaningful bets. And, you know, that’s why you get to see a lot of, you know, data science teams now working closely with six teams, you know, and it’s not just sort of correlations, you’re really doing multivariate regression, and other types of analyses, to really get to know what’s driving this experience, and what can we change in our business to get to better number two for me is designed. And you know, you’re going to have a full stack design team and your organization, if you’re lucky to have that, and you don’t need to go to an outside consultant. Or, you know, it’s very simple. We’ve got, you know, design facilitation, and that really is using all those insights in the analytics to help ground employees and what those customer needs and expectations are in facilitating conversations to get there. And that’s a really powerful thing. And you don’t need 20 people or five, you really just one person, focus on some of the more important or pertinent needs of your organization, couldn’t really get you there. And finally, culture. And for me, that’s something that we always talk about in my team, is how we are using all this information to change the culture of our organization. And it’s about making sure that you democratize the insights, you are constantly talking about what your client’s needs are. And you’re putting that information into as many hands and decision makers as you possibly find. And you’re recognized people recognizing people for the great work that they do, if they’ve got a great idea, also recognize the person that actually puts that idea into practice to and recognize the leadership teams of those two individuals, right? Because they’ve created a culture where it’s okay to share ideas, in some case, air, even dirty laundry. And you know, it’s a safe environment for people to work in.

Nick Glimsdahl 13:01 

Yeah, I that sometimes that could be scary to air dirty laundry, it’s kind of like you’re showing a little Pandora’s box, and then closing it as quick as possible and saying, looking around to make sure nobody’s watching.

Bill Staikos 13:13 

Yeah, I try and always take the approach of cx as utility for the business, we’re here to help you achieve your strategic goals. If you go about it from the perspective of, you know, I’m going to put my finger in your wound, and it’s going to hurt really badly. For Success there, right? I mean, you probably know that as well as anybody. And you know, if we go at it from the perspective of, hey, we’re going to be able to identify problems within your process or the journey that clients go through in your business. But we’re going to work with you to solution those in an effective way. So you can achieve or even exceed your target objectives each year. I think that changes the conversation and opens up, you know, people to be more partnership driven.

Nick Glimsdahl 13:55 

Yeah. And at least piques their interest a little bit to, in some ways got to be the first one. And then once you start acceptance and trust, then they’re like, oh, this is interesting. What are they doing? Okay, so

Bill Staikos 14:07 

Then all of a sudden, you’re like, Oh, my gosh, I don’t have enough resources. Yeah.

Nick Glimsdahl 14:14 

Now, that’s great. So you have insights, analytics, you have design and culture? Is there an order? Or is that they’re all number one.

Bill Staikos 14:23 

So I think you have to start with insights and analytics. Without understanding first and foremost, what your client’s needs and expectations are, firstly, you can’t do design. So if you move from insights and adolescent then you know, showing how your client needs and expectations are driving design decisions in your organization. I think that that influences culture in and of by itself. And there’s all sorts of great things that you can do, based on those insights and analytics to also the culture, one of those sort of recognition that I just talked to you about before. So I think that there is a natural progression. So I mean, you’ll start with culture right off the bat, if you are kind of getting all those insights out there versus holding them close to the vest and kind of driven driving those things out, as you see fit. But culture, obviously, as you know, it takes a long time. So if you start getting the insights and analytics piece, right, you can start to influence culture in small, measurable ways. No versus and then in two, three years out, you start to really notice huge differences in the culture of your organization. Hmm,

Nick Glimsdahl 15:28 

Yeah, that’s good stuff. So why is important to have core tenets of cx? And maybe, what’s the risk of not?

Bill Staikos 15:41 

Well, one, I think, you know, it’s important because it helps people understand the work that you do as a cx later, and helps people, if you can put it in that kind of framework, I think it actually helps conversation around a cx vision, right. And, you know, a lot of times, you know, I’ve heard people like, you know, CX is the magic bullet, we’re going to hire a head of CX, we’re going to put three, four resources behind this person. And you know, we’re going to start hitting home runs. And that’s not really the way things work, right. So I think if you can lay out a plan that helps people understand that there are phases to this, there’s a maturity to all this work, right? You get more buy in, or at least, that I found that I’ve gotten more buy in, and it gives you the room to not have to move so fast as well, right? Because that also is a risk. And you want to make sure that you’re setting your team up for success as well. And I think having giving yourself that space, and showing them that there’s a progression, there’s a 123 year kind of roadmap to all this. It creates more bine and gives you the flexibility as well, to do things. You know, if you’re a sort of a longer maturity, you might do a couple of things on that, like, I’m going to test some cultural things early. Right. So by the time we get to year two or three, you’re already full swing in these things, right. So I think that’s really an important thing. Versus saying, I’m going to just set up 20 people, we’re going to be part of this big team, and we’re going to just start killing it day one. Yep, you could. But that is probably not going to happen if your company is just getting started on the CS team as an example. Yeah,

Nick Glimsdahl 17:24 

it’s kind of like a like a firework show where you guys still give them little snippets of what’s potential going to happen at the end of the game. But, you know, hey, look at this one is a little twirl thing, hey, this one kind of went up and went in the circle. I don’t know why I just thought of that. So I might have the clip that I, you know, always keep them engaged, and a bought in to why they’re there.

Bill Staikos 17:51 

I think that’s the important point. And if you if you if you route, the work that you do, in the customer need and what you’re hearing and what you’re able to observe through analysis of, you know, not only feedback, but just what are they doing, you know, are they are they going to the web and they’re calling the contact center, then they’re going back to the web based tool, like having capture even some of that, and really put a good story together, it leads to better design and leads to people thinking differently around the client, and what those needs and expectations are. And hopefully they start bringing some of that thinking back into their day to day job.

Nick Glimsdahl 18:26 

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So the next topic I want to discuss is that you wrote on was being customer focused, versus being customer obsessed. What is what does that mean? And what is the difference?

Bill Staikos 18:41 

So for, you know, for me, I think being customer focused means that if you’re you, you’re going out there to understand those needs. Right. And just like there’s an evolution and a maturity to those core tenants, there’s an evolution and maturity to you to your business, and how you think about the client and the people that work there. At your organization, think about the at the end customer too. So, you know, for me, it’s you know, if you’re customer focused, you’re doing a lot of good blocking and tackling from a cx perspective. You’re interviewing clients are getting survey feedback, you’re using them in some processes, you know, what those issues are, you have a really solid complaint management kind of team in place. Your contact center is using this stuff for coaching, I think all those things mean that your customer focused, if you fast forward to obsessed all of a sudden now you’ve put like you put design and a client at the at the forefront of your business. And you know, there’s a stage in there where you’re customer centric as well but like, to me, you, you have business people thinking about business problems with a designer’s mind. Right, you, you are co creating solutions with your customer. You’re bringing them around into the ideation phase, to say, hey, look, we don’t have the answers here. And that’s okay for us. But we think that there’s a problem to be solved in our industry. And we want to solve that. And we want to bring you into that process to make sure that we deliver the best, and product and process, whatever that is. And that, to me really starts to distinguish organizations that are customer focused versus customer obsessed. Yeah, there’s a lot of just literature out there, like on Amazon, and their customer obsessed, even chase versus their customer obsessed. There are a lot of other financial services that are jumping on the Amazon bag while everyone’s being customer obsessed. Yeah, it’s one thing to say, it’s a completely different thing, though, to really have those practices and those norms embedded in your culture in your organization in a way that you live that every day. Yeah. And that to me, I wrote a little bit about on LinkedIn. But that, to me is, is what kind of starts to constitute the difference between I understand, and I know what our clients need, versus that permeates everything throughout our business, from strategy, finance to HR, you name it, we’re starting with the customer, right, and then we’re working backwards.

Nick Glimsdahl 21:10 

Now, it sounds like it sounds like a great plan to be more customer obsessed. And it also sounds like a lot of work. So what are the benefits of being customer obsessed?

Bill Staikos 21:21 

So, you know, when there’s plenty of like, just empirical research out there, right? Like cx leaders are ahead of the S&P by like, I don’t know, like 150% some, like, you know, step change, you know, function myth of returns, higher returns. So to me, I think, you know, one, I think that there are market benefits from a business, you know, higher percentage of repeat sales, more revenue, that are profit. But even culturally, within an organization, you’ve got people that love coming to work, they’re engaged. And they’re engaged, because they’re able to, like, really, literally bring a customer into their day to day and say, Okay, let’s solution this together versus, you know, truly relying on an essence, a subject matter expert that might have been there for 20 years, and those at all right? I think that companies are able to evolve and grow in different ways and more quickly, as well. And that’s just not faster speed to market with products. But I think also as a business, and owning a category. And being able to be ahead of that competition in a way that you probably normally wouldn’t be able to do unless you are customer obsessed. So, you know, for me, like you get the market driven financial benefits, you’ve got your culture piece. And then you’ve got sort of like that future visioning your future state slash vision component, where you’re able to adapt much more quickly, because you’re bringing in that learning much sooner into your development process. And you can either attack quickly with the market, or you can identify completely new categories that are certainly within your company’s core competency. But you can kind of actor knows much more quickly.

Nick Glimsdahl 23:03 

Yeah, yeah. So I didn’t prep you for this question. But now I’m intrigued is what? Why don’t people focus on being customer obsessed? And kind of step into that next stage? What’s the risk? Or why are they so hesitant to not focus on that when they see those benefits that you just mentioned?

Bill Staikos 23:25 

I think a couple of things. One is its really hard and you just can’t be obsessed, just because you say you’re obsessed, right? I think that there’s a lot of things that go into that, too, it does cost more money, right, then setting up, you know, a survey monkey survey or using, you know, one of the myriad of sorts of, you know, survey companies out there. And three, I think that there’s, you know, culture takes a lot of time, and then even the team to be able to get you there. Right. There’s not a lot of people, you know, professionals out there that truly understand what being customer obsessed means and the steps that a company has to take to get there. I think that there’s a lot of fight for that talent. And, you know, it’s hard, right? Amazon, you know, wasn’t created yesterday, right? They’ve refined their model over, you know, well over a decade, right. And I think that you need to be comfortable with the fact that you are not going to be Amazon tomorrow, even though Amazon you think I was I was going to come eat your lunch tomorrow. Yeah. And that takes time, money resources, and asking the tough questions about your business that, you know, some folks may not be comfortable asking or answering to.

Nick Glimsdahl 24:45 

Now, it’s all great stuff. And I think everybody thinks that, you know, even if the SMBs are saying, Oh, I need to be Amazon and you’re like, yeah, I mean, you need to be your version of Amazon. It’s not you can’t, you don’t have billions and billions of dollars to do customers. Experience, but figuring out what you’re good at what your value is, where your pain points are, and then adjust accordingly and then be your version of Amazon.

Bill Staikos 25:09 

Yeah, but even that, even if you figure that out, Nick, right, that in and of itself takes time, you might need to reorganize your business, right, and then the organizational structure might be wrong, which that takes a long time, you might not have the talent to get there, you might not have the financial resources. So that’s why I think, you know, going back to those core tenants, right, starting with those insights in the analytics, building a foundation from there, bringing that into the design, and then you know, leading the helping with cultural change off of that, that you could probably get there more quickly than if you didn’t have that kind of plan. By putting something like that into place and say, okay, we are not going to be Amazon. But you know, to your point will be the Amazon of you need to train tracks, right, and we’ll be able to do XYZ, but being getting the resultant the talent that can help you think that through and get you there, and putting a plan in place to do that. I think, you know, sometimes is it all gone? And it all comes down to execution? Obviously, so

Nick Glimsdahl 26:08 

Yep, yep, absolutely. So on LinkedIn, you mentioned that you focus, you’re doing a lot more focus on machine learning and AI, and its applications in the CX space. So what, what is innovating technology, what and why is it so important to cx?

Bill Staikos 26:26 

So, you know, for me, and maybe this is a good segue, maybe if we talk about outcomes, you know, a couple minutes for me, it’s, if you’re really going to do cx the right way. And certainly, from an insights perspective, you’ve got your listening posts on all the time, you need the customer’s voice on surround sound, and that creates a lot of data. One, being able to parse through all that sentiment data is really tough to do as an individual. So it’s great to have different applications that help you do that, to, you know, just understanding sentiment data is, is, you know, not even half the game, it’s just an it’s a portion of it, you’ve got to connect that to operational data, or what your customers are doing so behavioral, you also have to tie that to financial data. And if you have, if you have the technology in place, you can, you should tie that to your employee data, even. And now you’ve gone from a lot of data, just sentiment to multiply that three, four more times. And, you know, when you think about the types of solutions that, you know, large complex organizations need to put in for the customers even smaller, for that matter, smaller, midsize or large, small businesses, you know, no one or team can do that. And you know, you can, you can find relatively inexpensive applications out there, you need the talent to be able to parse through all that data and think it through of course. But, you know, putting a layer of AI and G, learning over all of that experiential data, will help you identify and see things, frankly, that you’ve never seen before, and then be able to orchestrate, journeys or experiences that meet your brand, that are, you know, journeys and experiences that you want to deliver as a business. And that also helps you bring that back internally, to your employees to say, here’s what it is today, here’s what our clients Think about it, here’s where we want to go. And it’s a lot more tangible for people, right, and that’s something that they can act on.

Nick Glimsdahl 28:31 

Yeah, and I think you keep bringing, bringing it up a little bit around the employee experience, because, you know, innovative technology, if it’s AI and machine learning, you know, whatever, as long as it is good, that improves the customer experience. But in the customer service space in the contact center, there’s so many things that can improve the employee experience to create a better experience more seamless, and being able to integrate technology to create, it kind of goes back to my old analogy that I continue to use as a married guy, right, as if mama isn’t happy, nobody’s happy. And the same is true, right. And the same is true with your employees. So your employees are the voice of your organization, the heartbeat. And so they will show it if they are not having the right process tools and technology to succeed.

Bill Staikos 29:20 

And we use and we use Medallia internally. And you know, we use it in the context center, we use it for the broader business. And then the contact center as an example of going to your getting feedback in real time post call that supervisors can use to coach their employees. It creates a better environment for them, right? You’ve got feedback that’s almost in the moment. And you know, you’ve got the tool or the dashboards for your head of your contact center down to their direct reports and other supervisors to be able to better manage that business, right? You want to obviously manage a call center that optimizes you know, sort of like people on the phone, but you also Want to do it in a way that kind of threads through your capacity model with your clients app model? Right. So how do you do both in tandem? And the best? Why

Nick Glimsdahl 30:10 

Not? That’s great. I think we could even, we can continue this and just have a series of topics around technology. You know, you mentioned also a couple times on how to about business outcomes. And I think this is probably one of the most important conversations that cx leaders should be listening to is, how you align customer experience with the business outcomes.

Bill Staikos 30:37 

So I give you one great way, you know, agile has been sort of like a new way of working for a number of years, not really new to a lot of organizations. One great way, if you’re a CH leader today, call up one of your product owners, or your Scrum Master, whatever the term reality is that you use internally, and say, hey, look, I’d like to actually set up listening posts, what is what’s your journey map, and all Scrum teams should have a journey map, identify the key moments that matter in that turn a set of listening posts in that and then say, hey, look, we’re going to bring this, we’re going to turn these on live. So whatever the trigger is, that happens, you start to get this data back in real time, you and your team, and you’ll be able to use this, you know, voice of the customer, as part of your to experience your quarterly planning processes, etc. And, you know, then you as your product owner is like, Okay, let me think this through, I’m going to start getting active voice of the customer through that my team is going to be able to have, and they can start incorporating that into their development sprints. Yes. Okay. So now you’ve got your listening go set up, as those two, two week sprint starts to happen, right? One, you’re investing in those teams money to be there, right? Teams need capital to be there, too. There is you got OKR and a lot of OKR. Those sort of the metrics that the teams will measure themselves against, have financial impact associated with them. So now, you know, okay, my two week sprint had an X impact on these metrics, right? My quarterly planning process, now you build that out and say, okay, we want to move our strategic metrics now, from x to y, you can start to capture that. And because you’ve got an investment in that team, because you’ve got an investment and understanding of, if we design XYZ, it results in x, y, z, more revenue, you can then start to tie those listening posts and those moments that matter to that revenue pretty easily at that point. And just starting that one small way, shines a light and finally brings a new light to how one how cx can partner with your agile product teams to deliver more value. But then what does that mean to sort of the top line or for a bottom line to a business? Right? And if you can put that one pager in front of your CFO, but you’ve got a business case to kind of keep moving forward and keep adding those Listen, close those teams and working with them?

Nick Glimsdahl 33:08 

Yeah, that’s an it’s great advice. But continue to have the ear of the CFO, hearing what their outcomes are, what they’re measured on, or maybe of the organization because, and maybe that’s a department by department case. Yeah, the CFO is important, but what’s everybody else measured on? And what are their outcomes, and maybe we can focus on those and kind of dig a little bit deeper, because maybe some of their outcomes are similar to what my outcomes are.

Bill Staikos 33:36 

And I know the last couple of years as sort of the proliferation of the employee experience, conversation has happened, you have a lot of cx leaders, engaging their HR partners a lot more, I think they want as soon as you’re in that seat, whether it’s a new company or starting tomorrow, go take your CFO up for coffee, help them like learn how the business makes money, follow the money trail, right? Think about how your work can be a lay over onto that money trail for your business, right? And then you can start to tie metrics to dollars, and it gets much easier. And frankly, if you’ve got the CFOs here, you there’s a good chance, all of a sudden, you’re going to have your CEOs here as well. Right? Yeah. And I think the CFO, the head of HR, head of strategy, those should be the best friends of any cx leader in any organization. Any plus marketing.

Nick Glimsdahl 34:27 

Yeah, no, it’s a you are it sounds like this cx should be the listening post of, of the organization as a whole and hopefully have everybody’s here.

Bill Staikos 34:38 

I hope it should be. I mean, that’s, you know, if we’re doing this the right way, I think that’s, you know, that’s part of the model.

Nick Glimsdahl 34:44 

Yeah, yep. So the last question I have before I get into my, my two questions I ask everybody is as a leader in customer experience, how far do you look into the future? I mean, it’s is it 510 15 100 300 years out.

Bill Staikos 35:04 

So I, I’m a really big nerd. And I think about the future a lot as it is. You know, as soon as, as soon as I bought my first iPhone, which now feels like 100 years ago, I was already like, what is this thing going to look like in 2015?

Nick Glimsdahl 35:19 

Yeah, right.

Bill Staikos 35:20 

I mean, so I think a lot about the future I try and one, you know, certainly have, you know, what is? Where should our team be? And what should we be working on three years out? I think five years is from a business context is tough, but not from an industry context. Right. So if you’re thinking there’s, I think it’s a great Habra, Harvard Business Review article about strategy cone, if you’re thinking about what are those system level changes in your industry, that 10 1520 years out? How do you work backwards from there into strategy? And then tactics? So like, what are the things that you need to be doing now as a cx leader to set your organization up for success in that five to 10 year period versus that 10 to 20, or even greater? And, you know, while I think that you can’t devote, you know, 50% of your brain share to that kind of exercise, you should probably be devoting, or at least like, I like to, like just devote 10% of your thinking, to where is this space going? What are sort of the fitness doing now that, you know, 10 to 15 years completely disintermediate this business? Right? And what do we need to be doing now from a customer experience perspective? To make sure that we’re in that game, right, so. So I think that at a bare minimum, it’s, you know, what is my one, two and three year plan? But then thinking a little bit long term strategically around? Where’s the market going? Or where’s this business going? And then what do I have to do to help this business be successful over the long term?

Nick Glimsdahl 36:54 

Yeah. So you kind of mentioned FinTech and kind of where are they at in those years? How often are you jumping outside of your industry? To see what other industries are doing? And maybe how you can adapt to do your marketplace?

Bill Staikos 37:08 

Look, I look No. And honestly, I don’t think you know, a lot of the best ideas come out of financial service space, I think that you need to be a consumer of information and news across industry. Now, hopefully, as you do that, you know, you’re thinking evolves, and you’re able to make parallels to your own industry? Or what that might look and feel like, similar to our conversation around Amazon. Don’t try and be able to, but just be the Amazon of your industry. Right?

Yeah, excuse

Me. So I think it’s really important to kind of look outside the category as often as you do inside. And think about, you know, what are those learnings and takeaways that I can bring in house?

Nick Glimsdahl 37:46 

Yep. Great advice. So Bill, I ask every guest two questions. And the first question is, what book or person has influenced you the most in the past year? And the second question is, if you could leave a note to all the customer service and all the customer experience professionals, what would it say?

Bill Staikos 38:08 

So those are great questions, Nick. Another book that I feel like I keep on leafing back into is sprint, Jake Knapp Google Ventures wrote that it’s a relatively new-ish book past year two, maybe even older. And, you know, it really talks about sort of the five day sprint to identifying the problem solutioning and prototyping and starting your feedback on that prototype. And, you know, it’s as much process to solution as it is mindset. And you know, that that book really changed my view, and how I think about cx and partnership with agile teams and product owners of business. And that book actually has helped spur some success for me professionally, and being able to evolve and change that thinking, you know, one of the examples that I gave before in terms of measuring success of agile teams, like, a lot of that thinking came out of that book for me, right? So if you if you’ve never read it, I really recommend you pick it up. Again, it just, it helps you kind of think about how you solve problems for your customer, and how you continuously add value in a business quickly.

Nick Glimsdahl 39:22 

Wow. Sounds like a great book. I’ll have to have to grab it. And then the second way is, what would you say to all the customer service and all the customer experience professionals, if you could write one note and it would reach everybody?

Bill Staikos 39:38 

That’s a great question. I think for me is, you know, don’t ever give up, right? I feel like sometimes in this in this type of role, people feel like you know, at least every once in a while you’re pushing a rock uphill and a big one. So for me, it’s don’t ever give up. I think the folks that are in the CX space are in it for the right reasons. And they really want to drive transformational change, you got to keep on talking about it, keep on coming up with new ways of talking about it and show real and try and share real concrete examples of its impact and effect on a business. And that takes perseverance. So you know, don’t ever give up.


The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.

Nick’s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:

  • Customer service & customer experience leaders
  • A hostage negotiator
  • Award-winning authors
  • Home Depot’s Senior Director of Customer Care
  • Former VP of Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  • Lyft’s Head of Partner and Customer Engagement
  • Deputy Chief Veteran Experience Officer from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

On every episode Nick asks his guest two questions:

  1. What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
  2. If you could leave a note to all the Customer Service and CX professionals, what would it say?

You can find all the podcast guests’ answers under their episodes below.

If all you want is the guests’ book recommendations, you can go here.

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