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Interview with Gabriela Ciupitu CCXP

1. You have been actively involved in judging CX awards. Can you shed light on the significance of judging at such awards and its impact on the industry?

First, I would like to congratulate Awards International for dedicating time and effort into organizing the CX Awards. These events have multiple benefits for customers and companies in general, including continuous improvement of service quality, the level of empathy and the customer-centric culture in organizations from different industries. I am happy to be part of the Judge Club and to have the ability to attend and contribute to the Awards with my experience and knowledge and also to stay updated with the latest trends, technologies and practices. What I appreciate about the CX Awards the most is the high standard of entries, judges, and the Awards International team’s commitment to the entire process, ensuring a qualitative and an objective analysis and a great show.

2. Many organizations are hesitant to enter the CX Awards because they may not immediately perceive the value in doing so. Why do you believe businesses must participate in these awards, and what benefits can they derive from the experience?

The level of entries is high, which is an excellent thing because this means that the Award received by the companies has a huge significance. I am an ambassador for CX Awards in Romania and Southeast Europe, encouraging companies to enter s with their extraordinary projects. The reason is that the Awards can offer companies recognition in their respective industry and can improve employee engagement and organizational culture. I’ve been involved with the Awards   through 3 roles: as a participant, an ambassador, and a judge. In each of the roles I have experienced the benefits of participation. As a finalist I was involved from the design and development of the entry to the recognition of the project. I must say that the engagement and satisfaction are worth every effort.  As an ambassador for EXCA, I find many reasons why companies should seek recognition for their work. First for their industry recognition in front of their customers, suppliers, and competitors, and second in front of their employees and shareholders. Finally, as a judge, the contribution and learning are motivating factors strong enough to get involved in the judging process.

3. As someone who has judged various CX Awards, what insights have you gained about the industry and its best practices through the evaluation process?

People often believe that by being a judge you are in an external position, that you have a “birds eye view” of all the initiatives. It is more than that: when judging an submission, I put myself in a CX leader role of the organization analyzing challenges and opportunities. I breathe the excitement of each initiative and try to contribute to the next steps of each initiative.

Evaluating submissions at CX Awards gives me valuable insights into how crucial customer experience is for shaping business customer strategies and fostering customer loyalty initiatives.

A key insight from the successful entries is the paramount importance of customer-centricity in business operations. Companies that excel in CX demonstrate a deep understanding of their customers’ needs, preferences, and pain points. They design their products, services, and interactions from the customer’s perspective. There’s often a strong focus on employee training and engagement. Companies leading in CX recognize that motivated, well-trained employees are essential to delivering exceptional customer service.

Another point is that award-winning companies usually provide a seamless experience across various channels. Whether a customer interacts with the company online, in a physical store, or through a call center, the service quality and information consistency remain high. This could be through technology, like AI chatbots or personalized online experiences, or through unique service offerings. Adaptability is also crucial, especially in response to changing market conditions, customer preferences, and technological advancements.

Finally, the ability to demonstrate the impact of CX initiatives in terms of ROI (Return on Investment) and other key performance indicators is key. Award-winning companies not only improve customer experience but also show how these improvements positively affect the business.

4. How has CX practice evolved in Romania?

Customer Experience is a new concept, which has relatively recently entered the Romanian market. First steps were made 6 years before, when CX departments have been established in multinational companies importing groups models, because of the need to focus more on the client as a competitive advantage.

5. Your efforts in building the CX professionals community in Romania have garnered attention. Could you elaborate on this initiative?

Romanian CX community holds a special place in my heart. A few years back, as a CX Manager seeking growth beyond what my job offered, I scoured LinkedIn for Romanian CX peers and found merely 15. I was in dire need of sharing information and discovering local market practices. At that time, the CX field was nascent, with only a few companies having dedicated CX teams or individuals. Motivated by this, three years ago, I spearheaded the inaugural CX Day event in Romania, laying the foundation for this community. The response from professionals exceeded my expectations; over 50 attended the first event, playing a crucial role in shaping our monthly webinars. We now host webinars focused on CX, structured around three core elements: a Romanian best practice, an international speaker, and a digital platform to support CX project implementation. My vision for the community is to foster an environment where CX professionals can learn, validate their ideas, and seek support for their workplace challenges.

I’m thrilled to see the community’s growth, a testament to this initiative’s success, especially evident at the first CX Conference in Bucharest this year. It was a day brimming with inspiration, attended by over 230 professionals.

6. In October 2023, Customer Experience Romania hosted its first CX Conference in Bucharest, which was a great success, as feedback from international participants, sponsors and noted on LinkedIn. Could you share the significant learnings for those who attended?

Indeed, the conference provided a valuable opportunity for face-to-face interactions within the community, allowing us to connect and acknowledge Romania’s best practices in CX. Keynote speeches by Ian Golding, Faran Niaz, and Mohamed Latib were highlights of the event, and I would like to express my gratitude to them once again for their contributions. I am happy to mention that the Romanian speakers from Moldavia, Germany, Slovakia and of course Romania glowed on stage and brought to the audience actual topics, challenges, best practices, and their success.

I am extremely pleased with the positive feedback from the participants, as evident on LinkedIn. Depending on their experience in CX, attendees derived their own insights. However, our key messages for them were as follows:

– CX should be an ongoing effort focused on culture, innovation, and agility.

– For successful CX project implementation, leadership involvement is crucial, not just in terms of budget but also as ambassadors of the concept, setting an example for others.

– Despite the CX market in Romania not being mature, the country boasts numerous exemplary practices, laying a solid foundation for future development.

7. What motivated you to initiate a CX Maturity study in Romania?

Initiating the CX Maturity study was a logical step, as I observed a range of companies in the market, from those winning CX Awards to those still mistaking CX for mere Customer Service. In Romania, the trend over the past six years has been the establishment of CX departments predominantly in multinational corporations, driven by an increasing focus on client needs.

Our aim was to gain a clear understanding of the present state and trends of Customer Experience initiatives in Romania. To achieve this, the study was structured around six key pillars: CX Strategy, Customer-Centric Culture, Employee Experience, Customer Journey, Voice of the Customer (VoC), and Digital Experience.

8. Could you highlight the primary findings from the CX Maturity Study?

The study main takeaways are the following:

The CX Maturity study reveals that Romania represents an emerging market in the customer experience (CX) domain, possessing a robust groundwork for future growth. This nascent stage is characterized by the formation of dedicated CX teams, comprising professionals from diverse backgrounds, underscoring a commitment among businesses to enhance customer experiences.
However, the study identifies significant challenges impeding CX advancement. These include constrained budgets, limited decision-making authority, and the burden of small teams shouldering multifaceted responsibilities. Addressing these challenges is crucial for the progression of CX initiatives.

At the moment, Romanian organizations are in the nascent stages of using Customer and Employee Journeys methodologies to manage their processes. This area presents a substantial opportunity for growth. Effective mapping, measurement, and continuous enhancement of these journeys are pivotal for organizations adopting these methodologies, setting them apart in the CX landscape.

The primary method of gathering customer feedback in Romania is through complaints and transactional surveys. However, there is a pressing need for a more proactive approach. This involves centralizing Voice of the Customer (VOC) inputs from all channels and amplifying positive feedback mechanisms.

Lastly, the study highlights the critical role of technology and digitalization in fostering customer relationships. A practical approach for rapid CX technology adoption is leveraging specialized platforms, which can offer streamlined and efficient solutions for businesses striving to enhance their customer experience offerings.

9. What are the plans for advancing CX practices in Romania through Customer Experience Romania?

This year, our focus is on further promoting CX awareness in Romania, supporting companies in implementing their CX strategies, and encouraging them to seek recognition for their efforts through CX Awards. I am proud to acknowledge that there are Romanian organizations with robust customer-centric approaches and projects worthy of recognition.

We are excited to continue the CX maturity study this year, examining it from two angles: organizational and customer perceptions. I look forward to sharing the findings at the year’s end.

Equally important is the ongoing knowledge development of CX leaders within our community trough monthly webinars. I plan to facilitate this through CX Masterclasses and the upcoming CX Conference in October 2024.

10. What guidance would you offer to CX professionals in Romania and Southeast Europe?

Often, CX leaders may find themselves in challenging positions within their companies, as their role involves presenting the unvarnished truth. They require support and a peer network for guidance. This need gave birth to the CX community, as a collective voice can have a greater impact in the market and provide support to individuals. Even seasoned practitioners benefit from validating and sharing their ideas.

My advice to CX professionals is to seek collaborative opportunities inside and outside the organizational environment, to have their development and to keep close connection with the community. Customer interactions are evolving rapidly and being part of a community can offer valuable resources and advice to keep pace with these changes.


I judge because…

I learn from other people. I love learning more about businesses and how they work. And finding out about their successes is a true joy.

I believe in celebration. When we learn about teams that have made effective changes, we are celebrating their skills, perseverance, and successes. And that’s before we get to the ceremony.

I am inspired. By sharing their stories, successes, and learning, all entrants give ideas and encouragement to others to make changes in their businesses.

So, whatever the awards, whatever the category. I love judging.

Of course, that becomes more pertinent when I judge in CX categories, but I love the interface between digital, change, and CX. Judging with Awards International never fails to deliver on all fronts.

Stand-out stories for me:

The Ugandan government department showed so much empathy, care, and talent in protecting its members during COVID-19 that every judge had to wipe their eyes.

The Yorkshire couple decided to make washing up liquid in their kitchen and now run a multi-million pound, environmentally sound business.

The big corporation lives Customer Experience in their every product, service, and touchpoint.

The man who decided to support a divorcing couple and has disrupted an industry that was complacently letting them down – another tear-jerker.

The safety product manufacturer listens to customers and continuously improves how they work to delight them.

The chemical company that set a CX strategy as part of a merger used CX to build a customer-centric culture.

And as corny as it might sound – every single finalist who comes to tell their story with pride, whose people smile when their work and results are recognized, and who reinvigorates and refreshes the judges.


Compassionate customer service: How real-time analytics can power respectful customer journeys

If recent years have shown us anything, it’s that the standard of customer service you offer can be the defining factor for whether organisational success is reached—particularly where empathetic and compassionate interactions are concerned.

Nowadays, customers expect a much more personalised, and structured service than previous years, whereby they feel heard, valued, and are given options by an agent with the knowledge and problem-solving skills required to solve their concern in an efficient and effective manner. But with a Customer Contact Week report revealing that one-third of customers believe customer service has actually deteriorated over the past year, and a further 33% believe their experiences aren’t being personalised, there’s a call for global CX strategies to be reimagined.

Compassion in customer service

We all want to feel respected by others—especially when you’re reaching out to an organisation about a product or service you have invested in or are considering doing so. And with the cost-of-living crisis weighing heavy on the UK and talks of a recession on the horizon applying further financial pressure, your customers want and need to feel as though their investments are worth it.

The circumstances your customers find themselves in are personal, and therefore warrant a personalised service that empathises with their own stressors—and aims to relieve these as much as possible. And this is where real-time analytics is coming into its own.

Real-time analytics is redefining CX

The automation of customer service is also saving organisations hours per week, and in the process, reducing their costs in the longer-term. But with more customers demanding this personalised service, it’s no surprise we’re seeing larger uptakes of smart, real-time analytics technology that works to serve these tailored customer interactions. In fact, an industry report by KX and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has found that utilising real-time analytics has resulted in revenue uplift for 80% of businesses.

By leveraging real-time data analytics, particularly when paired with AI tools, organisations can form a deeper understanding of their customer base as individuals and use this to inform decisions made to enhance the customer journey. This is particularly critical when dealing with sensitive circumstances, for example, bereavements.

We’ve seen examples where financial service businesses have been able to use real-time analytics to create an entirely new pathway of the customer journey for these vulnerable customers to follow, helping to satisfy Consumer Duty regulations. By analysing key words and phrases associated with sensitive subjects, such as death, job loss, and debt, real-time data can inform businesses on what measures need to be implemented for better service for vulnerable customers. This can include adding a human element to their service and redirecting their call or interaction directly to an agent rather than through the remaining automated steps, for a smoother, less distressing experience.

While automation can significantly streamline and improve the service you offer customers, it’s crucial to remember that different circumstances and people, require different forms of contact and service.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to customer service, and real-time analytics can be used to highlight this and inform your next steps—whether that be a dedicated team to deal directly with vulnerable customers, or alternative forms of communications to improve accessibility and level of service.

Our customer experience technologies can help you to deliver outstanding and respectful customer service. Get in touch today to speak to one of our technology experts to learn more.


Interview with Jihane Srour – Tehini

1. Can you share your journey and how you became a judge? We’d love to know more about your career path.

Certainly, I’d be happy to share my journey and how I became a judge for the international customer experience award.

My career journey began at Accenture, where I started in the field of customer relationship management. This role provided me with valuable insights into the fundamental importance of customer centricity for the success of any organization.

I transitioned into the telecommunications industry, where I took the responsibilities of managing a Call Center, it was a very operational and hands-on experience which reinforced my conviction regarding the importance of prioritizing both customers and frontliners to gain a distinct competitive advantage.

As my career evolved, I took on various roles, all of which revolved around enhancing customer and frontliner experiences. From leading complex projects to heading customer experience, my journey has been driven by the relentless commitment to elevate employee and customer experience.

In 2023, I took a pivotal step in my career by co-founding Human2outcome. This venture is dedicated to mindset transformation, with a central ethos of placing employees and customers at the core of every decision and strategy. It represents my unwavering belief in the transformative power of prioritizing the human element in business.

In parallel, I was driven by a strong desire to deepen and consolidate my knowledge in the field of customer experience. I embarked on a journey to attain the CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) certification, I successfully obtained it in November 2021 and judged for the first time the 2021 CXPA Emerging Leader Awards. I gained the attention of the ICXA through my role as a judge at the CXPA Emerging CX Leader Awards. It was this recognition of my expertise and contributions in the field of customer experience that led the ICXA to extend an invitation for me to participate as a judge in their esteemed panel.

2. Being a part of The Judge Club must have been quite an experience. Can you share how being a member has impacted your professional and personal growth as a judge?

Being part of the judge club provided me with the invaluable opportunity to connect with highly experienced individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. It has been a great learning experience, offering me the chance to share and gain fresh perspectives and elevate my skill set significantly.

4. The Judge Club is known for its supportive community. How has connecting with other judges within the club enhanced your experience, and have any exciting opportunities come your way through this network?

Absolutely, the judge club is an incredibly supportive community. We have had opportunities, such as before the ICXA, to come together and exchange our diverse judging experiences, sharing our best practices and learning from one another. Additionally, attending events organized by the judge club has been a fantastic way to network, share insights, and continue learning. I had the privilege, for example, of meeting the inspiring Marie Cross during one of these events, where we discussed and shared valuable thoughts, tips, and strategies for maintaining a positive mindset while working on the frontline.

5. As someone with valuable experience, what advice would you give aspiring judges who want to excel in their roles and positively influence the industry?

I would give 3 pieces of advice to aspiring judges:

  • Keep up with industry trends – the field of customer experience is ever evolving, attend relevant conferences, workshops, and webinars to remain at the forefront of CX expertise.
  • Remain impartial and objective – we all have conscious or unconscious biases, ensure that personal biases or preconceived notions do not influence your judgement. Focus on the criteria and evidence presented by participants.
  • Helpful feedback – when providing feedback to participants, offer constructive criticism that is specific, actionable, and supportive.

5. Keeping up with industry trends is crucial for judges. How do you stay informed about the latest developments and best practices to enhance your judging skills?

It involves dedicating time and effort in learning and professional growth, which may encompass trade publications, staying updated through news feeds, attending webinars, enrolling in online courses, participating in industry conferences, reading relevant articles, and studying books and reports.

6. Your career journey outside of judging is quite impressive! Can you share some of the highlights from your professional endeavors and what inspired you to become a judge? Additionally, what exciting projects or opportunities do you have on the horizon for your career as a judge?

One of my most significant endeavor has been a total revamp of critical user journeys in telecommunications (process, tools, and people). This endeavor was a massive undertaking involving hundreds of frontliners and multiple internal departments. It constituted a highly intricate project with numerous stakeholders and complex workflows.

We encountered several challenges along the way, but what truly transformed this project into a resounding success was our unwavering commitment to involving frontliners at every stage of the journey. Additionally, we fostered collaboration between IT teams and frontliners to ensure that the collective vision of both customers and frontliners was shared and understood by all parties involved.

This approach allowed us to establish the project with purpose, meaning, and a profound focus on both employee and customer centricity, ultimately leading to its success.

As a judge, I am eagerly anticipating my role at the ICXA 2023, where I will have the honor of evaluating exceptional customer experience initiatives. Additionally, I am excited to announce that on September 28, I facilitated a webinar focused on CX culture.

During this webinar, I provided practical insights and tips on celebrating CX champions through crafting compelling CX stories. These stories have the potential to not only elevate the employee experience but also significantly impact the overall CX culture within organizations.


Let’s break down the silos!

In April 2023 I have held a webinar together with Awards International about silo thinking. Silo thinking is both a global top CX issue and a global top business issue; A bad customer experience and a bad employee experience causes an ineffective and inefficient operation. As an outcome: a high churn, a bad CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), complaints and so on. In this blog I’ll cover the following topics. What causes silo thinking? What are the different types of silo thinking? How does silo thinking affects the business? What’s the difference of silo thinking related to short money businesses and related to long term money businesses? How to solve silo thinking? Read on!

  • Silo thinking?
  • Different types of silo thinking
  • Characteristics silo thinking, long term money and short money
  • How to solve silo thinking
  • More information and the author

Silo thinking?

What customers wants is “get their jobs done”. They don’t care how an organization is organized. They want a seamless – brand – experience across all touchpoints, without any hassle. But organizations are still organizing the business in a “vertical way”. For example, management and KPI’s per department. As a result; A bad customers experience, a bad employee experience and a bad business outcome.

  • Bad customer experience. A bad customer experience due the customers “horizontal journey” across the – vertically organized – departments. Customers falls between two stools, the different departments because there is not or a bad handover between departments; There’re no cross-department processes and no cross-border collaboration. For example, a handover from sales (an order with specs) to production. Or a handover from marketing leads to sales for the follow up.
  • Bad employee experience. A bad employee experience because the staff must serve unsatisfied customers. It is very hard for the staff to find the right information which is in the head or system from the other departments. The staff cannot pay the right attention to the right customers because of the silo issues.
  • A bad business outcome. A bad business outcome: to say it short, an ineffective and inefficient operation. Which leads to a high churn, a bad CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), a lot of complaints, and so on.

Different types of silo thinking

A summary of different types of silo thinking, mostly they are in the “mix”: a combination of different silo’s.

  • channel silos: different brand experience per touchpoint / silo
  • data silos: mismatching/ missing data
  • goal silos: KPI’s per silo
  • metrics silos: metrics per silo
  • operational silos: quality, timing or work doesn’t match recipient’s needs
  • organizational silos: the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing
  • process silos: processes per silo, no end 2 end processes
  • regional silos: different – global- business cultures
  • tech silos: incompatible or stand- alone technology per silo
  • vision silos: strategy and vision per silo
  • IT silos: digitization and IT projects to serve the customers fails.

Characteristics silo thinking, long term money and short money

The characteristics for silo thinking are in my point of view related to the “DNA” of the business. Is it a “long term money” driven business or a “short term money” driven business.

Long term money

In my experience, silo thinking is most of the times an explicit issue; It harms CX initiatives like cross department collaboration. I see the following needs with silo issues with long term money businesses:

  • journey mapping initiatives to overcome silo thinking. E.g., drive cross department collaboration
  • silo thinking as a part of the CX strategy
  • with VoC analysis, what is the perception of the customer?

Short term money

In my experience, silo thinking is most of the times an implicit issue. It becomes an explicit issue at the moment it harms the business (very) hard and there is a high sense of urgency. I see the following needs with silo issues with short term money businesses with a high sense of urgency:

  • a lot of complaints due a bad handover because of limited processes and collaboration between departments
  • high operational cost due an ineffective – silo driven – operation
  • high churn due unsatisfied customers and unsatisfied employees
  • missed opportunities, it is very hard to achieve cross selling
  • a bad reputation

How to solve silo thinking

Solving silo thinking is in my opinion also related to long term money and short-term money.

Solving silo thinking with long term money business

An approach with the CXPA framework. Depending on the context and the starting position, start with one – or in connection – pillars:

  • understand
    • journey mapping current state
    • VoC, solicited & unsolicited feedback
  • experience
    • touchpoint optimization, outcome Journey mapping: translation in CRM
    • brand Promise
  • measure
    • set up surveys
  • innovate
    • future state journey
    • close the loop

Including a strategy to establish a culture with cross department collaboration with a a new style of leadership (servant leadership).

Solving silo thinking with short term money business

An approach with solving the issues; Complaints, high operational cost, establish selling, issues to succeed with digitization projects (IT-silos).

For example:

  • with CRM connect the silo’s including a change – cross department collaboration, leadership – strategy.
  • with Biz Dev Ops (or tribes, chapters and squads) manage the collaboration between business and IT

In the current economic downturn, turning business issues in short term solutions as a first step for a long term CX & EX strategy.

More information and the author

The Judge club offers frequent webinars about different CX subjects. From Awards International point of view, reflect and learn of the best of the best through the different Customer Experience Awards. Exchange views about silo thinking? Please contact the author:

Edwin Best

  • Global trusted advisor customer centric business
  • Gulf Customer Experience Awards: judge, chair, ambassador
  • International Customer Experience Awards: judge, chair, ambassador, steerco

Enhancing Customer-Centric Behaviour Through OKRs

The power of OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) lies in their ability to generate both immediate results and long-term impacts. We can cultivate a customer-centric mindset throughout our organization by shifting our focus to how each person’s role creates a valuable effect.

In a recent blog post on our OKR Asia platform, we explored the significance of elevating Customer & Employee Experience as two of five company objectives. These objectives have proven to be the most common and impactful regarding OKRs. In this article, our main focus is how we can place customer achievements at the heart of our OKRs and inspire everyone to strive for customer satisfaction.

Key Areas of Focus:

  • Customer-Centric Mission & Vision (North Star)
  • Customer Value-Driven Strategy
  • Cross-Functional OKRs with Lagging Indicators

Customer-Centric Mission & Vision (North Star)

To effectively incorporate OKRs that measure customer success, our company’s mission, vision, and values must be centered around the customer. In industries like pharmaceuticals and retail, customer satisfaction and engagement take top priority. Every individual in our organization is responsible for serving the customer. As highlighted in our previous blog post, “Branding vs. Reality: How Do Customers Perceive It?” our focus extends beyond market share, profit, and branding. We motivate and enable our entire organization to strive for customer satisfaction in the short and long term.

To achieve this, it is crucial for every member of our company, regardless of their role in front-office, back-office, or support teams, to understand their impact and leverage in influencing a great customer experience. Clear communication from management emphasizing our customer-centric values as the core of our organization is paramount.

Customer Value-Driven Strategy

Value mapping is excellent for developing our company’s strategy and roadmap. It helps us connect our existing products and services with future offerings, clearly explaining why it is essential for both our organization and our customers to move in a specific direction. We establish long-term objectives by defining value-based results on a strategic level, such as satisfaction levels and repeat customer ratios. This enables us to break down our OKRs, allowing each department, team, or cross-functional working group to contribute to these overarching values.

As depicted in the graph above, linking our value map to customer profiles or personas creates a relatable framework for specific customer groups. This framework serves as motivation for our teams. Furthermore, sharing customer success data with our couples is crucial, as we will explore in the next chapter on OKR setup and measurement.

Cross-Functional OKRs with Lagging Indicators

By identifying company OKRs that measure the work results of our teams (leading indicators) and their impact on customers or the market (lagging indicators), we establish a clear connection between team outcomes and customer values.

For instance, if our objective is to increase market share in a specific online segment within Q1, our IT & Product team plays a crucial role in programming the necessary functions, focusing on quality and timely delivery. However, it is important to emphasize that delivery should occur well before the end of Q1, as our key result is not merely the completion of functions but the genuine increase in market share. Additionally, the IT & Product team should monitor lagging KRs to gauge how clients perceive the new functionalities, such as through survey benchmarks, and determine their desired impact on market share.

Therefore, we advocate for establishing cross-functional agile teams or squads responsible for the end-to-end customer journey and feature development. By leveraging a mix of expertise from Product, IT, Marketing, and Operations, these teams ensure that features are built and tested based on customer feedback. They also measure customer perception and ongoing business impact through lagging/external or impact KRs.

This approach is highly effective as it connects each team to customer-related key results, fostering a sense of responsibility for client and market impact. It goes beyond merely completing tasks and passing them on to other departments like Marketing, Sales, Operations, or Customer Service.

For more information on fostering a customer-centric culture with OKRs and measuring customer-related results to ensure team accountability for customer success, please don’t hesitate to contact us here or contact

This blog post was written by Carsten Ley, an Entrepreneur, Enabler, and Project Lead specializing in Employee Experience, Project & Business Transformation. Carsten has led large-scale project implementations for renowned companies such as Deloitte Germany, VW Mexico, Rolls-Royce UK, and Lazada Vietnam. In 2018, Carsten founded Asia PMO, a consulting firm dedicated to efficiently implementing company objectives and improving customer and employee experiences, fostering a result- and team-oriented environment.


Unleashing the Power of Agility: A Vital Ingredient for Success in Today’s Business Landscape

Today’s ever-evolving business environment has put forward one crystal clear message: agility is not merely a benefit; it’s essential. But what is business agility, and why has it become a linchpin for modern success?

Business agility refers to the ability of an organisation to swiftly adapt to market changes, internally and externally. It encompasses prompt decision-making, the rapid development of new products or services, and effective adjustment to disruptions, all while maintaining continuous business operations. Simply put, an agile business is one that is equipped to navigate the changing tides of its industry, regardless of how turbulent the waters may get.

Why is agility so crucial in today’s business landscape?

The digital age has ushered in unprecedented levels of market volatility and competitiveness. Consumer needs are shifting faster than ever, and businesses that cannot pivot quickly find themselves lagging. In such a landscape, agility provides the capacity to foresee, respond to, and capitalise on these changing conditions. By being agile, businesses can seize opportunities, counter threats more effectively, and thereby maintain a competitive edge.

So, how does a business go about nurturing agility?

Anchor Operations to Customer Centricity

By consistently placing the customer at the heart of decision-making, businesses can ensure their operations remain relevant and effective. After all, understanding and addressing customer needs is the most fail-proof strategy for business success.

Anchoring your operations in customer-centricity means continuously asking: “How does this benefit the customer?” Amazon is a prime example of this principle. They built their entire business model around their mission statement: “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.” This customer-first approach has seen them continuously innovate, from introducing one-click shopping and customer reviews in the late ’90s to pioneering drone delivery services, all in response to consumer demands and habits.

Continuous Improvement Focused on Simplicity

By refining and simplifying processes, businesses can be more responsive and adaptive, thereby increasing overall agility. Streamlined operations reduce complexity, allowing for faster responses to changes and improvements in productivity.

Toyota’s ‘Kaizen’ approach is an excellent illustration of continuous improvement centred on simplicity. Kaizen, a Japanese word meaning “change for better,” involves making small, incremental changes to processes, which lead to substantial improvements over time. For instance, Toyota empowered each employee to halt the production line if they spotted an issue. Though this resulted in many temporary stoppages, it also led to quicker issue resolution, ultimately enhancing productivity and reducing long-term downtime.

Fail Fast and Learn Quickly

Lastly, adopt a mindset of failing fast and learning quickly by integrating mitigated risk management. This approach encourages quick experimentation, propelling businesses towards innovative solutions while minimising negative impact. This fosters a culture of creativity and resilience, key ingredients in the recipe for agility.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is a fitting example of mitigated risk management. SpaceX conducts many small, relatively low-cost tests of its rocket technology. While many of these tests fail, they provide valuable data that guides future design decisions without incurring the massive costs of a failed full-scale launch. This method allows SpaceX to innovate at a faster pace and at a lower cost than more traditional aerospace companies.

Business agility is no longer a luxury; it’s imperative for survival and growth. By anchoring operations in customer-centricity, embracing continuous improvement, and adopting a fail-fast mentality, businesses can foster agility, ensuring they remain competitive and resilient in the face of change. To be successful, this requires an innovation culture and the organisational structures to support that culture.

Today, the question isn’t whether your business can afford to be agile—it’s whether your business can afford not to be.

We share practical tips to help businesses become more agile at both an organisational and individual level in our webinar here:

If you want to get ahead by getting to grips with the human side of innovation, sign up to learn more here:

About Zuleka

Spurred by her 18-year career delivering business transformation and change in fast-moving corporations with ambitious mandates, Zuleka Kaysan founded The Cornerstone Advisory to democratise innovation. She helps visionary leaders elevate their performance through an integrated approach; enhanced customer experience, innovative service design, and a fit-for-purpose culture.

Connect with Zuleka here:


Unleashing the Power of Digital Transformation through Process Mining

In recent years, Digital transformation has become an increasingly common trend globally, gaining significant importance due to the rapid advancement of technology and the increasing adoption of digital solutions by customers and businesses. Digital transformation is beginning to be perceived as more and more important given the wide range of benefits it provides:

  1. Improved efficiency and lower cost: Automating processes and workflow increases efficiency and productivity while reducing manual labor costs.
  2. Improved customer experience: Digital solutions make the lives of customers more accessible and more convenient. This is even more pronounced with the onset of the pandemic.
  3. Competitive advantage: Digital products provide businesses with a competitive edge, enabling them to offer innovative products and services and reach customers in new ways.
  4. Data-driven insights and Agility: Digital solutions leave behind digital footprints, enabling businesses to collect and analyze large amounts of data and providing valuable insights into their business operations. This, in turn, helps companies make agile, real-time, data-driven decisions.

Digital transformation often involves a range of technology initiatives to drive business growth and innovation. Looking at the trends across the industry, some of the joint initiatives companies operate as part of their digital transformation efforts include cloud adoption, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotic Process Automation, and Big Data Analytics. While these are just a few examples of the critical initiatives that companies drive as part of their digital transformation efforts, an up-and-coming technology that has gained much attention in recent years is “Process Mining.”

What is Process Mining?

Process mining is a powerful tool that combines the power of technologies such as data science, big data analytics, machine learning, and process engineering. It is a data-driven approach that allows businesses and large-scale enterprises to map their process (an X-Ray for the company), analyze it, and identify opportunities for improvement.

The first step in process mining typically involves collecting digital footprints and data across various ERP, CRM, or BPM systems. This data is transformed into event logs using unique identifiers and timestamps to create a digital process map which can then be analyzed using process mining.

Process mining can be broadly classified into three main areas: process discovery, process conformance, and process intelligence:

  1. Process discovery involves the creation of process models from the event logs. This helps businesses use data from the different systems involved to visualize their processes “as executed” and identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and variations in these processes.
  2. Process conformance builds on the capabilities of process discovery. It enables organizations to compare the actual or “as executed” processes against the expected or “as designed” strategies based on the process models. Different factors, such as user preferences or system limitations can cause these variations. With process conformance, deviations from the expected processes and their corresponding root causes can be identified.
  3. Process Intelligence enables companies to incorporate proactive capabilities into their processes through process automation and data science. One such example is process mining in combination with data science and machine learning models to help businesses proactively identify and avoid potential delays and bottlenecks in their processes based on historical trends.

Process mining has benefited companies, helping them unleash the power of digital transformation to drive significant improvements across their businesses. For example, ABB has leveraged Process mining to monitor their Order to Cash, Purchase to Pay, and complaint-to-resolution processes. With operations in over 100 countries and spanning several ERP systems, process mining has helped ABB monitor millions of transactions across the globe and derive unique insights that have helped improve its existing processes. Other notable examples involve using Process mining by Comcast to save $85 million, an 800% improvement in touchless orders for L’Oréal, reduced British Telecom’s customer service cycle times by 60%, and improved customer satisfaction in Dell Tech Support by 120 bps.

Process mining has proven to be a simple yet effective tool for process management. With the availability of large amounts of data, and advancements in RPA, data science, and machine learning, process mining is here to stay. It helps companies and businesses derive immense value from their data.


How can Brick & Mortar survive with the emerge of Phygital Experience


With the emerge of new the concepts surrounding the customers’ needs, meeting their expectations then exceeding their expectations, enterprises started hiring people to gather intelligence to better understand the customers’ behaviors, demographics…etc. Then a new direction surfaced talking about the customer journey, for the purpose of discovering the customers’ needs throughout their journey. What is the customer journey? The customer journey starts from the minute the customer decides to interact with an organization until this interaction/transaction ends yet continues. The journey includes all touch points whether it’s verbal, nonverbal and/or nonphysical, and that was what customer experience was all about. The emerge of digitalization and AI solutions were the tools that enabled the enhancement of this journey, customize the experiences and touch point on the needs of the customers, provide them with needs that match their likings and preferences before they ask for them. With all the above being said, what else should organizations do? How can they maintain their customers?

If we focus on Retail Shops & Shopping Malls, and ask:
“What happened to Brick & Mortar in the past three years?

  • Shopping malls got affected by the pandemic.
  • Customers’ behaviors shifted and started accepting digital solutions.
  • Brick & Mortal received a hit!

What are the next steps that should be taken? Begin by asking these questions:

  1. Should we close?
  2. Should we change our line of business?
  3. Should we remain the same, “it’s a temporary phase”
  4. Should we shift to e-commerce


STEP 1 – Identify

  • Re-identify your customers: Who are your customers now? And not who were your customers?
  • Re-define your tenants mix: Does the mix provide the correct balance?
  • Re-identify your objective: Where do you want to position yourselves? Should you settle?
    Should you be innovators? Should you wait for others first and do the same?

STEP 2 – Plan

  • Put an action plan
  • Stick to the action plan
  • Do it fast

STEP 3 – Implement

  • Explore, implement, measure & assess
  • Allow yourself to do mistakes

STEP 4 – Repeat

  • Repeat exercise until we do it right
  • Keep up with the changing reality

Moments of Truth

  • People go online to buy, go to store to shop
    • Elevate Retail
    • Showcase the products
    • Connect both worlds
    • Offer Seamless experiences
  • People who feel they matter buy more
    • Train people more
    • Use AI
    • Go digital by identifying your customers
    • Build the emotional bond
    • Customize the experience

Stay connected through digital experiences

Build an emotional bond through physical experiences

Connect & Bond!

BONNECT….. And integrate the physical with the digital

Complement each other and give the customer the choice……

Respect the customer’s CHOICE!

How to Bonnect?

Personally, I would love to go somewhere and find the attention, yet if I feel the attention is fake, I would immediately appreciate a more genuine attention. Service is always measured by the level of satisfaction, understanding customers’ behaviors nowadays are measured by the emerged technologies of AI and digitalization. But we are depending on machines, and missing the “human element”.

The human side is always key, we have all learned the basic of communication that comprises of:

Sender > Message > Receiver (with feedback relation between sender and receiver)

And the message being (Verbal, Body Language, and Tone).

We need not forget the above important basics, we are acquiring all the above through our digital channels, connecting with customers, understanding their needs, and again connecting with them until customers feel that you understand them better than their own selves.

YES! YOU are connecting! But are you maintaining? Are you building loyalty?

Some experts would agree that this is how you build loyalty. I would disagree to a certain level.

I would call this temporary loyalty? Are we after temporary loyalty?

What does Temporary loyalty mean?

As long as an organization is able to identify the customers’ needs, customize their experiences, it will definitely maintain the customers’ loyalty. But what happens next, the minute a competitor was able to identify those needs and provide customized experiences, customers will shift their loyalty to the place where they find better options, preferences that match their likings. Again, you are connecting, but the question is: ARE YOU BONDING?

Are you bonding enough? What bond should you build?

The strongest bond one person can have with another person, is a bond that is based on emotions?

How many of us have had friends for a very long period of time, but when we think deeply about our relation with some friends, we would say? Do I really have things in common with my friend? Why are we friends? Haven’t our habits, preferences changed over the years? Yet how come we are still friends? This is a very simple example… The answer lies in the “Bond” between those two friends, what is the bond that is so intact and keeps them friends although they have different interests?

The bond is purely emotional that was being built over the years and no one was able to break it. It was built on deep feelings that neither interests, nor differences in perspectives could break it.

Touching the emotional side, and building an emotional bond should be the new direction.

How can you build an emotional bond with your customers?


  1. Start by utilizing your data in a different way, you already have the digital tools that enable you to connect with your customers and understand their needs?
  2. Start looking at the data from a different angle, focus on understanding your customers’ trend.
  3. Focus on the reasons behind their choices. Are their reasons cost-based, quality-based, service-based, experience-based, needs-based…etc.?
  4. Explore these choices and start to connect with the emotions behind these choices.
  5. Then tackle topics, events, campaigns, experiences that would touch the emotional side of these choices.
  6. Open up with your customers, be transparent, show them your weaknesses, and share your story so that they can share theirs.

Expert Tips for Judging at Awards

Recently we had a chance to talk to Faran Niaz, one of the most prominent members of our community, and discuss the ins and outs of judging at an awards programme. Read the interview in full to find out how Faran prepares for scoring an initiative and what advice he has for fellow judges.

1. How to prepare for the finals?

There are two parts of judging: the written part, and the physical presentation, either online or in person. And both of them need to be dealt with differently. This is how I do it; in any given situation, I used to have five to seven (maximum) entries that I would assess. So, before scoring, I read each entry twice to tell me which is a stronger story and which is a stronger case. If you go question by question, the story is breaking, so I read it as a story.

I make sure that the story is very clearly written and relevant to the subject; I make sure that all the answers are related to the topic. Secondly, every result should be backed and presented by facts. If someone says I’ve improved my NPS, I want to see the scores. I want to see the scores of at least the last couple of years just to see a trend. And then, they need to relate why the scores were improved. So, you need to be clear that if you’re scoring something, there has to be a fact behind it.

Also, do not judge the entries according to global standards; judge the entries according to each other. So, if I have five entries, my job as a judge is to judge these five and find the best out of them five. I’m not trying to find the best in the world, but the best of these five. The example that I always give: if you have a race of five runners, whoever wins the race, wins. Read all the entries first, two times, then score, and then evaluate, and you should be very clear about who the best is in your mind.

2. How to perform at your best during the presentations?

Join the presentation with zero preconceived notions. I have already judged the written and know who’s the best in my written. But, to my surprise and in my experience (over 30 years), I’ve seen some of the worst presentations with the best-written entries, and some of the best presentations with the worst-written entries. So both of them are different. If you’re judging physically or online, make sure you know about the companies but don’t have a preconceived notion. This is a new day, a new presentation, and you have to judge them according to what you will see now.

Also, listen to the presentation. What am I listening to? If somebody says I have done a great job, it needs to be backed by facts: there should be facts and pictures, videos, and passion. I’m looking for passion, presentation style, and who’s presenting. Look at the material, make sure that you know the company has achieved what they are talking about. And since you’ve already done the written, you will know if there is a match or a mismatch.

3. How to know what to ask in the Q&A session (after the presentation)?

You can only ask a question if you are attentive if you’re listening. So, if you’re sitting there and just watching, and you’re not taking your notes, you will not be able to ask a question. Also, if someone says We did an amazing job, I go back and ask – how? So, a question needs to be something that is now clear, that will make them think and give you more facts. An intelligent question can totally change your mind. If you’re unclear about something, you ask a question, and you get the clarity, and you say – okay, now I can score properly because now I have all the information I need.

Ask for things that are missing. So, your question needs to be something that is missing or something that can add value to the presentation that’s already been done. Don’t ask a question for the sake of it; judges know it, we all know it, and the people presenting will also know you are asking a question for the sake of asking.

4. How to summarise the initiative in the Feedback Report?

What is the importance of this summary? Let’s be clear: the summary is not going to win or lose the award; the award is won or lost on the score, not on the summary. But we, as judges, should add value in the report because it goes directly to the company. I try to put my comments of what was good and what was bad.

So, if the numbers are missing, if the facts are missing, I just write: the facts are missing, I have nothing additional to score or I wish they would have given me an analysis to see how the numbers improved; I could not see that. The improvement may be one per cent, which is nothing, and there comes another company with improvement of twenty percent. Or, if there was something good, I write that the facts are there, they did I did a great job. My suggestion is to write it with bullet points instead of writing it as a paragraph. Whatever you write in there, think from the perspective of the company or the organisation that can learn something from it and improve or keep doing the same.

Do you want to be featured in a TJC interview or submit a guest blog article about your area of expertise? Don’t hesitate – get in touch with Ana Veljkovic and she will provide you with all the details!