Unexpected learnings from hiking & tips on how to leverage yourself as a CX Leader
Mountains are a place of freedom. An absolution. Mountains make you feel like you’re on top of the world. Become one with nature. Connect with the ones you love most.
My journey as a CX champion doesn’t differ much from that genuine feeling of calm while taking a hike. Every day I strive to build a genuine connection with organisations’ top leaders, whilst helping them bond with their audience. I witness an entire behemoth of an organisation steer to get closer to its customers. These moments make you feel you’re on top of the world again. But if you don’t have your feet firmly planted on the ground, you can get dizzy from the elevation.
There are too many similarities to ignore. That’s why I compiled 3 fundamental rules of hiking that you can transfer to managing customer experience.
Lead with conviction. No excuses.
Learning how to take the lead is of essence when guiding hiking groups in the mountain. Often you will find yourself on an unknown route or an untrailed path. Listen to your sense of orientation. Rely on your preliminary preparation. Take confident steps forward and keep the pace for the entire group walking behind.
Being a CX Manager requires the same. You must show an entire organisation the way.
Sometimes the best route remains unknown, but you can always take the one that’s the closest.
Stop now and then to check on your “compass”. That way you will know you are headed in the right direction.
Progress can be slower than you would have wished for. Don’t let that become a showstopper. Keep going. You can only reach your goal if you take one step after the other.
Put the customer in the heart of everything you do. Moving with a slower pace sometimes is much more effective than rushing through the storm of the unknown. Remember, you will reach your ultimate destination.
Slower approach enables you to connect better with your main stakeholders. Enables them to keep up with your pace. Reaching the end goal slower is always better than losing key team members on the way.
Don’t just lead. Educate.
People are curious. They don’t just go hiking with you to show them the way. They expect to learn something new about the place you’re visiting. Maybe an interesting fact about the local flora, fauna, or old lore and legends. But often you will answer very practical questions, like how to use walking sticks properly, what is the best equipment or how to tie a shoe knot that never gets untied.
CX management and education go hand in hand. Ensure you are constantly learning. Share your knowledge with your team and managers. Personalise your training and workshop sessions depending on the need of your stakeholders. Teammates familiar with CX may need some very practical tips to improve their performance, whereas newbies will look for some inspiration and a few simple steps to get them started.
The more people you help to evolve their CX thinking, the more trust and credibility you build as a professional.
Change is inevitable. Learn to adapt.
Mountain weather is not under your control. Accept it and prepare for a change of routes. You can’t continue in a thick fog or a thunderstorm. The weather changes in a matter of seconds. Watch for the signs – maybe hurricane wind, dark and thick clouds, drop or increase of air pressure. Be aware of your environment. You should be ready to abandon your initial plan to guarantee the safety of all group members.
Make your mission as a CX Manager to look for hidden signs within your organisation. Do not let the sudden weather changes catch you in the storm. When starting a CX program, you might get the feeling that the bells and whistles will go on forever. Few months in, customer-facing people might feel discouraged, thinking the initial program you set doesn’t give them the real picture of customer experience. Senior leaders will get excited by the improvements in customer satisfaction scores, but once you stabilize those, they will challenge you to prove the financial impact and the need to make bigger investments in customer experience improvements. As a CX manager, you must be aware of the initial dynamics and anticipate what happens next.
I have always been a firm believer in the rule of trying to connect your passions and professional purpose. Deep diving into your hobbies enables you to become a better CX leader if you are open to transfer your skills from one field to another. Be brave. And as the iconic slogan says: “Just do it.”