Jeanne Bliss, Founder and CEO, Customer Bliss, & Co-Founder, Customer Experience Professionals Association

Jeanne Bliss has dedicated her entire 35-year career to improving lives. That’s why now, her purpose is guiding leaders around the world – so they can bravely guide their organizations to become the best versions of themselves. She is known globally for transforming business to earn customer-driven growth. A 5-time Chief Customer Officer and coach to over 20,000 leaders, her practices are field-tested and proven. Bliss’ 5-Competencies for customer-driven growth have been adopted around the world, and her 4 best-selling books on customer experience and leadership are the guidebooks of the CX Profession. She has delivered over 1,500 transformative keynotes globally, has coached over 20,000 leaders on leading to elevate their company in the marketplace, with sustainable growth. She is the cofounder of the customer experience professional’s association and is fondly known as the “godmother” of customer experience.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Magazine, Jeanne shared her professional trajectory, insights on how she helps companies to become the best version of themselves, her secret to striking a work-life balance, future plans, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Jeanne. Tell us the story of how you got involved in customer experience. How did your career lead you here?

I began my career in Retailing, working for Hart Marx.  I ended up at Lands’ End, which was essentially the Zappos’ of our day.  I was training the 2400 phone operators so was very close to the operation.  As a result, I began peppering the CEO with questions about things that needed to be done.  He took me off the phones to report to the entire executive committee as the “conscience” of the company as we were growing 80 percent a. year.  That is how I got my start and began to understand the important of a united leadership team and knitting the silos together to deliver a deliberate and wonderful experience.

Why do so many companies struggle with making CX a priority? What are some common mistakes companies make? 

Most companies are made up of well-intended “parts’ or silos.  Each of the operating areas have their own key performance indicators and goals and often different things that they are paid on.  Even if there is a high-level score like NPS, often the silos don’t have the practice to come togheter in a united way to effect real change that the customer cares about.  They impart their own personal score by area….and the beat goes on.

As a seasoned CX leader, how do you help companies become the best version of themselves?  

We start with how they want to be remembered.  What are the behaviors, personality traits, and ways they want to be known for treating people.  We ask the hard questions, like if we value “x” how does that impact how we do returns, or train our people, or hire people.  These are explicit and hard decisions that many companies don’t piece together proactively as the business is being build.

You are the Co-Founder at Customer Experience Professionals Association. Can you please tell us about this organization, its mission, and vision? 

We wanted to give the people who do this work a home, a community, a roadmap and a career.  Often these folks know what they are good at (right brain / left brain work and uniting people) but there is no career track for that in most companies.  We want to make sure that these roles are not limited to being just someone that runs the survey, but rather, a leader who can unite the C-Suite and help the organization grow in an admirable and repeatable way.  Our goal is to let people know that there is a place for their unique skill set, that they have found a home, and that we are their “people” and peers.”

Have you seen, firsthand, any AI impacts on the practice of CX? What impacts are you expecting in the next few years?

AI can have a very powerful role in providing a dimensional response to a customer need, and to experiences.  Right now, it is often a “plug and play” tactic that gets put into campaigns in – but I think given time it will be integrated and become quite powerful in show true humanness in responses and even in proactive outreach.

How would you describe your leadership style? 

I am an out-there, but collaborative leader.  Because I’ve been around doing this work so long, I initially was stating the path.  But now I have much more fun guiding people to the hints and tools and nuggets that form their path= so that it is THEIR path.

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a CX leader? 

I am evolving my communicating style and messages to start to move out of what we think of as traditional cx to the attitudes and intentions that form a company and make them and the people in them beloved.  Stay tuned!

What do you believe are the characteristics and actions that you used to get to where you are today?

Tenacity, being a little too young to not realize what an undertaking I was trying to do, the ability to unite people, being organized and never giving up.  And learning how to unite with the people who want to champion this work.

What is your secret to striking a work-life balance? 

Learning to say no.  Knowing when I need to pull back and put family first.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

Continuing to do more content when I’ve got something to say, traveling and loving my husband and my life.

If you could give any advice to someone striving to be a CX Leader, what would it be?

Do this to be a part of making an operational great and human. Don’t do it to get great scores or get in with execs. Don’t take a “CX” job that will box you in.  See where something can be improved and contribute. Then, you’re on your way.

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