Winning Awards with Donna O'Toole

EPISODE 6: The ONE thing you can do now to create an award-winning customer experience with Ian Golding, Global Customer Experience Specialist and Chairman of the Customer Experience Awards.

September 23, 2020 Donna O'Toole
Winning Awards with Donna O'Toole
EPISODE 6: The ONE thing you can do now to create an award-winning customer experience with Ian Golding, Global Customer Experience Specialist and Chairman of the Customer Experience Awards.
Show Notes Transcript

Donna chats with Mr. Customer Experience himself, Ian Golding. Talking everything CX, Ian shares his journey into the world of Customer Experience, his stories of CX nightmares and examples winning CX strategies, plus Ian discusses the businesses who are winning in 2020 through their CX, and the effects of winning Customer Experience Awards

Ian Golding is a Certified Global Customer Experience Specialist, internationally renowned speaker and influencer in Customer Experience, and he is the Author of Customer What? The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience. Ian is a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and was the first person in the world to be a certified to teach the Certified Customer Experience Accreditation (CCXA). Plus he is host and chair of judges for the UK Customer Experience Awards and International Customer Experience Awards.

Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.

Donna O'Toole :

Hi, I'm Donna O'Toole and you're listening to my exclusive winning awards podcast. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. I've seen firsthand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community. In this podcast, I'll be sharing valuable awards, insights, tips, and inspirational stories to make sure that you get the recognition that you deserve, so that you can go on and achieve your dreams. So what are you waiting for? It's time to start winning. So today we have with us Ian Golding, Ian is Mr. CX, an award winning global customer experience specialist and internationally renowned speaker and influencer on the subject of customer experience. He was the first person to become a certified customer experience professional and training provider. And he's the author of Customer What? the honest and practical guide to customer experience. He's also the chairman and host of the UK customer experience awards. Hello, and welcome Ian.

Ian Golding :

Hello, Donna! Well I hope I can live up to that billing. I will say

Donna O'Toole :

Oh it's lovely, thank you for joining us, it's always lovely to talk to you.

Ian Golding :

It's a pleasure. Well you and I normally only ever see each other on stage as we're handing over awards. So it's nice to talk to you in a different environment.

Donna O'Toole :

I know no black ties and champagne today. So I thought what would be really nice is to talk to people and explain to them more about customer experience today and how that relates to awards, to winning, to raising your profile. And because actually, it's quite a new genre, isn't it? So tell us Ian how you got involved in customer experience from the beginning

Ian Golding :

Woah So that this takes me back. So I am someone who has been involved in customer experience, essentially for my entire working life without necessarily realising it, which I think is the case for many people actually. But um, my my working life changed at the end of the 90s when I worked for GE, or General Electric as some people might remember them. And I am old enough to work, have worked at GE when jack welch was still CEO. And those who don't know Jack Welch, he is still regarded really as one of the most transformational business leaders of all time. Sadly, he passed away earlier this year. But Jack Welch was so focused on connecting customer centricity with financial goals that, you know, going to GE was a bit of a revelation for me that, you know, companies want to do the right thing for customers. And from that point, really, my career changed. And as I moved from there into outsourcing into food service, and then ultimately retail, my roles increasingly focused on helping the businesses I worked in to do the right thing for the customer. And I ended up working for the UK's second largest online retailer as group head of customer experience. And that's where I suppose my work my life's work today culminated in me, putting everything into practice. And from there, I have operated independently for the last eight and a half years, helping lots of organisations all around the world to the same thing.

Donna O'Toole :

Amazing. And I've actually had the pleasure of attending one of your customer experience workshops, I have to say, and it was some It was really fascinating and great cohort of people there as well. So it's something that's becoming hugely popular, isn't it and really growing

Ian Golding :

Increasingly popular. I mean, it's an irony really, because customer experience has been around from the minute an organisation was created. We just haven't realised it and is a business principle really, it's been recognised formally for the last 10 years, the professional association, the the cxpa, which I'm a founding member of, was founded in 2011. So it's coming up to 10 years ago. And in relative terms, that means it is new. And you know the the problem is that whilst so much of what we talk about sounds so obvious. It's actually a Science, and I talk about it as a science and I teach the science and many organisations think intuitively Yeah, we put the customer at the heart of everything we do. But actually, they don't really know what that means in terms of sustaining it so it does lead to demonstrable change, which is ultimately what this is all about.

Donna O'Toole :

So it's interesting, actually, you say that, because obviously, we've got, we've got all sorts of other things that have I think, have sort of spun out from customer experience, like employee experience, for example. And I always say, you know, sticking a fruit bowl on the side does not improve the employee experience. But often it's that token gesture, isn't it that a company is doing? And they say, Oh, no, but we are doing look look, you know, eat more fruit, you'll be healthier. And so it's all good here. And actually, I'm like mm that's not really, really helping, is it? So what do you think is the equivalent in customer experience? What do you see happening? Where people saying, oh, we're doing great customer service? Because we do this when actually you think well that's just a gesture

Ian Golding :

A phrase that I coined, I don't know how long ago but many years ago is the customer experience doesn't happen by osmosis. I think that to a degree, this is the change of mindset that's required, because you're right, you know, too many things that we just we just say it, and it happens. But it doesn't. And you know, what's interesting about the evolution of employee experience, that is a an even later evolution, again, ironically, and actually, what we're seeing is an increasing trend of businesses talking about experience management, because it encompasses both customer and employee experience together. But you know, it's a fascinating fact that I don't know exactly how many but at least 15, British based organisations five years ago, somewhere on their website, have the words we put the customer at the heart of everything we do. Now, it's very likely there are more than 15 companies. But the reality is, is that at least three of those companies don't exist anymore. Because they weren't doing that, you know, we we've got to get out of this habit of saying the right thing. And then actually doing the right thing.

Donna O'Toole :

You know what, that's, that's so true. We just had a conversation actually in the office about diversity, and someone a conversation about it, and how people say, oh, we're so diverse, we're really diverse. We're really diverse. And and actually, when you look at them, no, you're not diverse. And actually, by saying you're diverse doesn't make you diverse, it's the same thing isn't that

Ian Golding :

Tt's it's too easy to say, this is the problem, you know, it's really easy to come up with the rhetoric, but what what we need is to have actually mechanisms in place that make it happen. And in fact, when I say mechanisms in place, what we need is an increase of maturity, because this is about organisational maturity. And to be mature, you've got to recognise that you are increasing your competence and capability at doing certain things. But you need to know what those certain things are in the first place, you know, customer experience is an incredibly broad discipline. You know, it encompasses strategy, culture, understanding how to manage the customer journey measurement, it encompasses so many different things. But most leaders have never been educated in it. And, you know, diversity, it's an interesting analogy, because, again, diversity to most open minded people, it's just common sense. You know, the problem is, is that historically, we haven't operated in a world of common sense. And, you know, customer experience is no different. I will always say I get paid to state the blindingly obvious, but just because it's obvious to me doesn't mean it's obvious to others. And so we've got to find a way of breaking this down. So businesses, organisations, because it's not just a commercially driven thing, understand the component parts pieces of a jigsaw as I call it, that are required and then whether or not they have those pieces of the jigsaw and how they can get them in place

Donna O'Toole :

No amazing. So give us bring it to life for us then. Can you give us an example of some really bad customer experience or any kind of case studies or anything like that, and then what would be considered good?

Ian Golding :

So I won't pick on any in particular. Shall I? No maybe I will.

Donna O'Toole :

You be brave.

Ian Golding :

I'll pick on one organisation but but it's unfair of me to because what I'm about to share is is very common, sadly and representative of many, but I am a customer of sky I've been a customer of sky for many, many years. I'm not a big fan of sky as a customer, largely because I find them very difficult to interact with, I always have done. And if it were solely my choice, I would no longer be a customer of sky. It's not solely my choice, because I have three children and a wife to fight against when it comes to that. But bout a month ago, six weeks ago, we had a lightning strike in our road. And among other things, our skybox blew up as a result, trying to replace it, you know, you needed a degree from NASA to figure out how to contact them to replace it. And then, you know, unfortunately, once we got through all of this, we did replace it. But the process for sending the old one back, they didn't make it clear that we needed to remove the sky viewing card before we handed it over to cut a long story short, I could not find a way of contacting sky. I just wanted to speak to someone. But the problem is, is that like most organisations, we've lived in a world of austerity for years. So businesses have tried to eliminate human interaction, replace it with digital technology. And unfortunately, the pandemic has accelerated that, like what sky have done is actually make it impossible to speak to a human. But they're using the pandemic as the reason why. Now, with all due respect to sky, the pandemic started in March, you know, to be to tell me in September that I still can't find you is not good enough. And the only way I could find them was to find a phone number for complaints. And I managed to get through to complaints. And then they routed me through to someone, who actually was brilliant when I eventually did it. But it shouldn't have to take that. Yeah. You know we can't hide behind pandemic's, we've got to make interaction easy for customers. And all that experience has just reinforced with me is that I'm going to up the ante again, with my family to stop sky, because it's just too difficult. And this is what we are grappling with. And you know, what, interestingly, what the pandemic will sadly see happening is the demise of more organisations, that I have no doubt, and it's an incredibly saddening thing for people and the economy. But actually, most of those organisations would have failed anyway, you know, it's just the pandemic has accelerated it. And, you know, what organisations need to do now is not think about the hand in front of their face, which is what most of them are doing, you know, what are our numbers going to look like this week? They need to think about five years ahead, you know, how do we sustain ourselves? How do we differentiate in the future? Because just carrying on, as we always have done is no longer good enough. Because you don't know what is going to come next, you know, first Brexit, then a pandemic, you know, what, what's, what's going, something will happen again. And if we don't adapt quickly, we will see more organisations fail.

Donna O'Toole :

I think you're absolutely right. Actually, I think the organisation's You know, we've heard this word pivot a lot. But no one needs to pivot, actually. And the ones that did great, and that's good. And obviously, there are industries that have been hit extremely hard. And for those, it's very, very difficult to cope and recover in this in this. But you're absolutely right, you know, it was Brexit, then it's the pandemic, what will be next, no one, no one will know. And actually, we've got to develop agility, haven't we? And actually be able to, to just change, adopt, adapt, do whatever. And technology's there to help us do that, as you say, but not to replace human beings.

Ian Golding :

Absolutely right. Did you know that the more and more I talk to businesses, as we continue through this, the more I have to keep reminding people that business is about people, you know, and it doesn't matter how digitally enabled you are, it's still about people. It's about human interaction. And what we what unfortunately, we are seeing is digital being seen as the replacement for humans. That's the wrong way of thinking. No, digital is a way of if we use it in the right way better enabling human interaction. That's the way we need to be thinking about it. But you know, I for the last eight years, so I've recognised that I've become slightly anti capitalist in my views. And you know what I think if even this pandemic has changed the mindset of 1% of organisations around the world to realise that this isn't about money first, this is about people. Oh, absolutely. like that, then maybe the maybe the pandemic, from a business perspective has been worth it.

Donna O'Toole :

Well, it's interesting, isn't it, because I think the companies that have put people first, whether that's, you know, both their internal people, and their customers are definitely the companies that are doing better now. The irony for us, obviously, we're helping businesses to win awards. That's what we do day in, day out day in, day out. And when the pandemic first hit, I thought, Oh, my goodness, maybe, you know, no one's gonna want to win awards anymore. You know, maybe this is not going to be the first priority but actually, we've been busier than we've ever been. Because what's happened is, so many companies have put in place new strategies, they've put in place good ideas, and they've got great feedback, they've got great results from it. And things are actually going very well, because they've had that shift and the mindset shift, to actually just put everybody first. And they've got some great, fantastic results. So actually, we've got some award stories that have actually become deeper and more exciting than ever before, which has been brilliant. So I actually think next year in awards is going to be huge.

Ian Golding :

It's one, I'm so pleased to hear that, that you're busier than ever. Because, again, in a way, it doesn't surprise me because people need hope, as well. There is a model of change called the Kotter change curve, without going into too much academia. But, you know, everyone reacts to change. And, you know, fundamentally, when change is thrust upon us, as it has been, in this pandemic, the reaction to human emotion to change is negative, you know, we get scared, we get angry, we're frustrated. And you know, many employees are still in that phase, you know, that, that we went through this sort of complete shock at the beginning. But now there's no end. You know, no one knows when this is going to end. And so there's a huge amount of fear and uncertainty still. And people need that hope they need positivity, they need to know that there are good things. And as you know, I'm very fortunate as I see it to be involved with the awards that are conducted around the world. And I've been very lucky during the pandemic to host two of the awards international finals so

Donna O'Toole :

Just to say here that Ian is the chair and the host, I think I said at the beginning, actually, of the UK customer experience awards, and also the chair of the customer experience awards internationally aren't you. So which are having a 10 year anniversary this year, which goes to show you know, how much that industry's

Ian Golding :

Amazing. And, you know, again, you and I have met, I think every single year. And it's an amazing thing, and it's a big, you know, a big event and in an amazing venue. And there's a big party. And but and I was thinking as well, you know, how is this going to work, you know, if people can't have any of that. But what I observed on the two ceremonies that I hosted so I hosted the Southeast Europe Awards, the the first ever Southeast Europe Customer Experience Awards, and the Digital Experience Awards. What I saw was that that positivity of people talking about the good things they're doing, they It was like a tonic, it was like people were being injected with positivity. And the fact it was through a screen didn't matter. And we need more of that we need more recognition and acknowledgement of you know what people are doing remarkable things to keep their businesses going. They're doing remarkable things to support each other and to support other humans. And so for me, though, that recognition is more important than ever before. And I've always been a huge supporter of awards. And actually, this just validates why it's such a critical part of the calendar every year.

Donna O'Toole :

Yeah, absolutely. Actually, I was, I was judging that when you were hosting the South East Europe Customer Experience Awards. And it's interesting, isn't it? I thought the same I thought how's this gonna work through the screen and, you know, obviously, the the the technology behind it, the software, the judging all of that kind of side of things, was great, really, really efficient, and actually really enjoyed it. But I thought oh will the connection come across? Because that's the thing that really always gets me as a judge, and will you be able to engage and we did hugely and actually, I don't even remember but during the ceremony, you know, people are driven to tears with this absolute pride in what they've done and the passion that's gone into their work, and particularly this year. So it's really amazing to see that connection. So I thought was actually great. I'm really looking forward to this. Yes.

Ian Golding :

It's gonna be just phenomenal. Yeah, so needed. So yeah, I'm very much looking forward to that.

Donna O'Toole :

I think the other thing, actually, because people always say to me, my one of my sort of commonly asked questions, if you like, is, well, you know, what's it worth to my business to have an award or what's that worth? And I think actually, specifically for the customer experience awards, there is no business in the world that can't benefit from that, A, and B now actually having that, interestingly, you know, what people always want, they get their trophy, they get their, their minutes on the stage on the screen or whatever, but actually once they've got the logo, who doesn't want a logo on their website, saying that they won a customer experience award, all they're doing with their customers, that is only going to add value.

Ian Golding :

It can't, it can't be a bad thing at all. But you know, it comes back to something you mentioned earlier, that customer experience can't happen without employee experience, are inextricably linked, and fundamentally, focusing on your people. First, well, the most customer centric organisations in the world are those that recognise the way you treat your people as the way your people will treat your customers. And this year, more than any other, so many employees are feeling scared, or feeling fearful for what is going to happen. They're uncertain of the future. But more importantly, than that, they're feeling alone and isolated, you know, we can't forget that. It's very easy to say to someone, right, you have to work from home. And you know, immediately you get the excitement of well I don't have to get on the tube, or the train or the bus or the, you know, and that that's great. But then you realise that you're in your house, you've got four walls around you, you've got children screaming and running, and noone to look after them, you've got, you know, you're trying to separate work from home. And, and for many, that that's a really tough thing. And there are a lot of people that they don't have a nice office to sit in at home, you know, some people are perched on the end of the kitchen table. I know others who don't have anywhere to work, and so sit on their bed, you know, it's, it's not quite as simple as people think and to recognise that is, for me vital for any organisation. But again, it highlights why getting recognition and acknowledging what people are doing, just to keep the wheels turning is a phenomenal thing. And you know, every employee really should get some kind of recognition for what they're doing. But you know, to be able to go to a recognised well established methodology programme to acknowledge excellence of this time, it is the boost that people need. And so I like you think that it's slightly ironic that the 10th version of the awards is the most important one that has ever happened. And, you know, fortunately, I'll be able to, well, I should not intentionally make people cry. But maybe I will make people cry when I open the ceremony. And

Donna O'Toole :

no, I think I'm a right cry baby at the awards. I love it, if you present to me, and I cry, you've done it, you smashed it.

Ian Golding :

I'm sure a few glasses of wine help on that front.

Donna O'Toole :

I just get so emotional about getting caught up in people's stories, because I know what it means to them. And I know how much it matters, and then how much that award matters. So we've got obviously, we've got people coming up now. So what happens with the customer experience awards is the first stage is an award entry, for which they get judged and 50% of their score goes to that entry. The second part is awards presentation, which is either face to face in usual years but this year will be on zoom. So we obviously work with lots of companies to help them to execute the process. And we have an I judge as well for the awards in other categories. So I know what advice I would give, I'd be interested to know and what advice you would give to presenters who are looking forward or slightly scared of the event this year

Ian Golding :

It is brilliant question and I'm not just about to say what I'm about to say because I'm talking to you, Donna, but I think, you know, the work you and your team do is very important because entering an award is is a skill, that there is a there is a science to it to a degree, and people shouldn't underestimate that. And, you know, it's not an easy thing to do and having people who understand how it works, but not just how it works in the mechanics but that can give you the confidence to to open up and to share the story in that sincere honest way. You and your team do an amazing job of helping people to do that. But you know, my my guidance to people is that is it? Is it a scary thing? Yes. You know, anytime you go to do an exam or anything like that, of course, it's a it's an intimidating thing. But you know, ultimately that you've got to get your head around why you're doing this in the first place. Now, yes, obviously, you want to win an award, you want to get recognition. But you've got to be real about that, what that really means. Because just being part of the UK customer experience awards, or the international customer experience awards, whichever, whichever one it is, is an amazing achievement in itself. Just being able to document and share the story is a wonderful thing in itself. You know, even if you don't come away with the trophy, what you'll come away with is that reassurance, you've done brilliant things. And that is a really important thing. It's absolutely vital that if this is something that many have contributed to bring those people into the presentation with you. You know, too often I have judged finalists where that, you know, the boss has stood up and tried to tell the story, you know, but they don't really know the story, you know, bring people that were involved that did it, they know what happened, let them share their involvement. But if I want, I can be slightly boring for a moment. You know, the fundamental thing is that the way the awards work is that we are judging an entry against criteria.

Donna O'Toole :

So often people don't get it,

Ian Golding :

Tell me how you've performed against those criteria, you know, and where finalists have presented the story aligned to the criteria. It is brilliant, it makes it very easy for the judge to be able to assess, and it makes it easy for me to determine and to compare you against other entries. So it's vital, don't ignore the criteria, you've got to respond to the criteria. But other than that sincerity and authenticity, just say it as it is, you know, don't don't try and flounce it up in any way. Just be proud of what you've done, you know, and and don't have the expectation that you're going to get the trophy. Yeah, that's not what it's about. The expectation should be that you are standing there with immense pride, being able to share your story with others. And you know that the number of times and I don't know whether you've whether or not you've ever seen me doing this, Donna but the number of times at a ceremony where I have walked around the room, meeting, finding the people who I judged, who didn't win? Oh, yes. Tell them what an amazing job they done. Yeah. Because they need to know that.

Donna O'Toole :

You know what I do at the ceremony. I walk around finding the people that didn't win, and then explain to them why they didn't win. Because you could have actually won. Come see me!

Ian Golding :

So what we're basically saying here is that if you want to know why you didn't win, if you want someone to build you up and to give you that reassurance come and see us.

Donna O'Toole :

But you know what, that's a genuine frustration that I have, actually, because some people have got the most amazing story. Yes, they just don't either know how to tell it or have the confidence to tell it, or they're just focused on the wrong areas, which actually means that us as judges who are managing a methodical process against the criteria, as you say, it becomes impossible for us to actually find their answers.

Ian Golding :

A lot of people don't necessarily appreciate that it is a methodical process. No, no. And actually, one additional thing that I'll say, is an I'm going to say something I'm sure you say over and over again. People must not underestimate the written application. Yeah. And I think exactly to the point you've just made. I have judged presentations on the day that have blown me away. But you know, my jaw is hit the table. And then I'm reconciling that with the submission that I read, you know, and they are so far apart. Even what the finalists have to understand is that that written submission is 50%. I know. And so this is where sometimes I'm frustrated because I'm thinking do you know what your your written entry just didn't.

Donna O'Toole :

You know what, I've had that I've actually had that conversation I remember a few years back in particular because I really felt for them. There was a team in an it was actually wasn't the CXAs it was it was another one of Awards International awards and they did the presentation was phenomenal. I mean, pushed you to it was phenomenal. And the to the team that presented it were amazing. And we all said the same thing. But they've got hardly any score in their actual written entry. So we actually I went and spoke to them about it afterwards because I could see that they were upset that they hadn't won. And I went and had a chat with them. And I said, What happened? Why, why did you have this entry you don't even appear to have any connection with it. And they said, because we were, one was in one was on holidays, so they had to get someone else to write the entry who didn't really know about. And then they came back and did the presentation. But that's such a shame, you know, so I think understanding that process, but also the other side of the coin is the other way around, where you get a phenomenal entry. And then actually, the presentation not really understanding either how it's gonna work, what they should say, or having done no preparation whatsoever, and they've actually just sort of, you know, winging it. And, and I've had that on many occasion as well, and actually I've had someone walking through and say I've, I've got no time for this in my diary, I'm literally just gonna stand here and ask what you want. And you think well, that's not really how you're gonna win an award? So maybe don't waste your time.

Ian Golding :

People need to get get their heads around why they do in this. Yeah. You know, that's that's the mentality, don't bother. But you know that that is also why you and I have spoken before that people, people shouldn't be fearful about coming speaking to you, you know, and getting guidance, because you know that there are organisations that we know that have been entering these awards for 10 years, you know, that they know what they're doing.

Donna O'Toole :

Yeah, exactly. I think that's another thing to realise, actually, you're coming up against you could be coming up against someone who's won this every year, they know exactly how the process works. They know what we're looking for inside their company in order to prove and have evidence and all that. One thing that I do think is really important that you mentioned earlier, as well, is that bringing your story to life with authenticity. And actually one company I judged last year, think it was last year, and who didn't have the best entry. And they weren't spot on with the criteria in the presentation. But my goodness, they were so passionate. And you could see it. And when you ask them questions, because what's great is we get 15 minutes of q&a time with the judges and the presenters. And when you ask them questions, oh, they were so passionate about it. And they knew everything there was to know because they lived and breathed that project. And actually, they won. And they probably were the underdogs. They weren't necessarily who you think was going to win. But it was because that authenticity camethrough in what they did.

Ian Golding :

And this is what it's not, it's not necessarily about polish. You know, who cares if the your slides don't? Yeah, you know, it's not about that. And I think we've got to remind people that most most of the awards international awards, the logo is a heart, you know, 50% of this needs to come from the heart. Yeah, exactly. People send in the you know, the technical stuff related to the criteria. But if it doesn't come from the heart, we know straight away. Yeah, exactly. And you know, that that immediately makes it challenging. Mm hmm.

Donna O'Toole :

Yeah, absolutely. So you've won an award back. So back when there was actually began 10 years ago, you were one of the first people to win a customer experience award, which

Ian Golding :

You're just trying to make me sound old. In 2010, we won a UK customer experience award. I still have it, which is remarkable. And actually, it was a hugely important thing for what I was doing at the time. Because I was head of customer experience for a retailer, we had made quite a lot of progress, but not as much as I wanted to. and winning that award, actually was a hugely important catalyst into getting more momentum. We actually won it for a mechanism that I created, it was an employee engagement mechanism called customer first aid. And when I first asked the CEO at the time, if I could do it, he said, No. And it's because he didn't know what I was talking about. So so we did it anyway. And when we won that award, it was just such a validation that we were doing the right things. And actually the CEO to his credit was Oh, oh, this is good. Right. What do we need? All of this? And so I think people need to, again, recognise that this isn't about ego. I think too many say no, no, no we don't we don't care about awards. It's not about you. As such, it is about you being able to leverage that awards to get recognition and authority. That's the way I describe it and that they did. And from that award the following year. Actually, most people don't know this. A member of my team won the young UK customer experience professional of the Year award. Every year that they did a version for people new into the role. And from, in fact that year, I also judged, and I've judged ever since. So, for me being involved in the awards, just from that very first time of getting that recognition and realising just just how important it was, I have now judged so many times, and it is the, for me most important day, in my calendar over a year, because I know that on that day, I'm going to get a number of things, I'm going to get hugely inspired, because you cannot help but be there and not be inspired, I'm going to learn things I didn't know. Because just by judging, you can't get this at a conference, you know, you can't get the the insight of what they're doing in this way. And that the third thing is that it just gives me so much pride as to how customer experiences a discipline is evolving. You know, to think back to 2010, you know, that first event, and to think what it was last year in Wembley Stadium, and some people at the ceremony is just unbelievable. So, you know, I'm so pleased that I did that in 2010. And, you know, I will be hugely proud to be associated with the awards for as long as I am able to be.

Donna O'Toole :

Oh and you're such a great host as well. And I think one thing that actually you were saying then, which we I come across a lot is people, so teams or individuals who are actually doing the awards to validate what they've done internally. So it's not just about, you know, showing them to the customers getting more customers, you know, getting to the top of your tree in that way. It's actually about that internal validation and saying, you know, to the to the powers that be what we've done has made a difference to the business, what we've done was worth the budget, what look what we could do more, so if we could get more budget for next year, or, you know, whatever that is, and that's something that's become, you know, really important, I think, for internal recognition as well.

Ian Golding :

And it might just be one little thing. But but you know that that is so important. It's also important, I think, sometimes people don't consider enough the importance of the team awards and the individual awards, because they're also critical, you know, for customer experience is a very tough thing to do you know that this is a profession that is relatively new, but you're trying to change the way organisations think and act, it's, it is not easy. And just to get that validation from independent people that you're you're a flipping good team, you are a role model cx professional is. It's such a wonderful accolade. Yeah, I know that there are so many reasons why being part of the process. Whether you walk away with the piece of glass or not, is such a such an important thing.

Donna O'Toole :

I think the other thing that I always take from it every year, and obviously I'm in awards, I'm taking this from every award every year, is how expectations and what looks like good changes each year. And it's really interesting, because what you see is that the businesses that have been involved in awards for a long time, are they know, they're having to step up each year and make that incremental change, because they know what else they're going to potentially come across in the awards programme. So the one's that are new are kind of coming into it a bit green, and they've got to sort of learn straight right from the start, what what's everyone else doing? And what we do? Is it sort of externally, you know, and obviously, judging on lots of different awards, obviously helping businesses as well, is we we've see how the trends are changing. And so not just for customer experience, but obviously for everything. So for example, in in employee experience, you know, maybe five years ago, maybe even longer, you know, going having beers on a Friday afternoon became a key part of everyone's award entry. Oh, we have beers on a Friday afternoon. We're so inclusive and amazingly engaged with our employees. And yet now Well, that's not really inclusive. Is it? Because what about the parents? What about? Yeah, culture means that they all their religion is that they don't drink? What are you doing for those people and stuff? So I love seeing how that changes. And it's quite shocking sometimes when new businesses work with us, and they say, well, we're doing this and we're doing this and I go, hm, well, that's alright. But have you thought about doing this or actually, that's a bit old news and actually you need to bring on and then what we find is that those companies then do improve and develop and they grow each year on here. So I think that Part of that business development part of the awards process, which is something and I know that with my clients, whether they win or they don't win, they still take that away from it. And that's hugely valuable for their business as well.

Ian Golding :

I totally agree. It does make me slightly sad sometimes when companies enter once, they don't win, and then they blame the awards for not winning. It's not about that. Yeah, I think they've missed the point. And, you know, it gets harder each year. Quite frankly, if I were to enter now customer first aid we probably wouldn't win. And it gets harder and harder each year, because companies are upping their game, and more and more companies are entering. And it does become harder. But it's also harder, because we've now got traditional businesses being joined by disruptors, you know, yes, we've got well known brands, but now we've got brands that you've never heard of that are entering the awards. Yeah, they are doing brilliant things very quickly.

Donna O'Toole :

It's really interesting, actually, you say that, because how you compare them, and when you're judging. So this is really tough. And I always try to explain this to clients, hoping someone could take something away from this. If you're a legacy brand, and you've been doing things forever, and you've been going for 20 40 60 100 years, whatever the chances are, what you're having to do now is a transformation. And actually you're having to change in order to make make a difference, which is not unusual. But the that can be like turning around a cruise ship is low, hard to achieve, especially in a big company. And so their transformation is, you know, it's it's often very incremental. And it's about getting recognition across the incremental stages, it might not be the whole full programme, because that's going to take them five years. But even just the parts of that programme can be recognised to help them drive on forward the next one. And then you've got the disruptors, as you say, who actually don't need to change because they haven't done anything yet, or they are in some other, you know, other way, but they're coming along with all the new ideas. And with all the new, you know, scoop, having looked around the market, see what everyone's doing, and they're coming on with the change already in place. But their challenge is then proving why they're so good because they've entered the market at that point,

Ian Golding :

and having the evidence that it is making a measurable difference. Yeah. But but but it's just going to get harder and harder. And you know that that's really the point, you know, we can't rest on our laurels, we've got to continually find ways of upping our game.

Donna O'Toole :

And the other thing I think is really nice as well. And I'm sure you've seen same as me. And people ask me this question all the time. But we're only a small company, and we can't possibly win against these big names. And I will say do not take that for granted. Because actually, as a judge, your expectations are different, aren't they?

Ian Golding :

It's it's irrelevant. The name the size, it's... Tell me how you have responded to the criteria. And, you know, it is the response to the criteria that we judge, you know, it's that there are no preconceived views? Well, I think the way the judges operate is, it is very robust, actually. And I know over the years people have questioned whether or not it is a an effective way of rewarding the work people are doing. But it people must understand that this is an incredibly independent and fair, robust way of recognising excellence, and the size or name of the organisation has got nothing to do with it.

Donna O'Toole :

Yeah, absolutely I have to say actually, when I first started judging, part of my motivation for judging was actually to check whether it was fair. Anyone that I was judging for that that's what I was doing. I wanted to check that it was fair, because I was at the end of the day, I felt responsibility for recommending awards. Yes, and not just awards internationl with all the different awards I partner up with. And I wanted to know that I was doing the right thing by the client. So I went around judging everywhere to make sure that I, you know, could could prove that and tell people what, and I'm very happy to say that that's why I've been judging for how many times.

Ian Golding :

And I agree with you because you know, the end of the day, I like to think that I'm sincere and Oh, yes. And, you know, I can't be involved with something that it isn't. This is the one obviously I I do judge for other things as well, but primarily with awards International. What they have created is I think that the most effective way of judging and recognising excellence in the fields that their awards are related to and I think the Neil Skehel And his team have done a remarkable job of raising the profile of customer experience, not just in the UK but around the world. And that's why I'm so proud to have an association with them.

Donna O'Toole :

No, it's great. So then one final thing then Ian for our listeners, so if you could make, as Mr. CX himself, if you can make a recommendation that someone could go away and do in their business today, and you know, they don't need a load of money, or tech or whatever to do, what what would that be to improve their customer experience right now?

Ian Golding :

And you'll like my answer, because I've been asked this a lot during the last seven months. But I would say to any organisation right now, that if you want to sustain your organisation, in the long term, the immediate priority is to ensure the stability of your employee experience. The most important thing right now is the way you're treating your people. And are you listening to them? Are you giving them a voice? Are you looking after them in the way that they need to be? Are you demonstrating empathy towards them, because if you even have an aspiration of being customer centric, it is not going to happen, until you have created an environment for your people, where they feel that they're at the centre of everything you do. That is without question the priority right now.

Donna O'Toole :

Amazing. I love that I got goose bumps then Ian. And that's brilliant, but no. And that's what, and also just as human beings and online businesses, as human beings, let's look after each other. And that's what we want everyone to do essentially isn't it

Ian Golding :

It has to be about that, absolutely,

Donna O'Toole :

yeah. Okay. Thank you Ian. It's been such a pleasure talking to you. I'm looking forward to the CXA's on the 15th of October, isn't it? So we're going to have a day on zoom and Champagne at home.

Ian Golding :

Maybe there may be some sneaky clips that have filmed Wembley as well. So I might just be going to Wembley next week, possibly. Film some bits and pieces. So yeah, it's going to be it's going to be such an important day and it wouldn't actually be the awards unless Donna was there. Ah, I will very much look forward to introducing I'm sure you will be presenting one of them so But no, I'm really looking forward to it. And I look forward to hopefully seeing you in person. Yeah, sometime next year. Yeah. Fingers crossed.

Donna O'Toole :

We're gonna party. Thank you. Lovely to talk to you. Thank you for listening to this episode of my winning awards podcast. If you enjoyed it and found it helpful, please share it on Twitter and LinkedIn. And if you have any questions, please head over to craftedbyaugust.com where you can find out more about winning awards and contact me. On the website, you can also take our free awards test, which will identify your award strength and tell you how likely you are to win. I really hope you've been able to take away some ideas today so that you can go ahead and win awards have an even bigger impact on the world and achieve your dreams. Transcribed by https://otter.ai