How to cultivate great feelings about your brand for CX-cellence with Nate Brown

Vanipriya Moorthi

January 5, 20249 min read

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Imagine customer experience as an ever-evolving canvas, where every interaction paints a unique picture, and thoughts and feelings are the vibrant palette of colors that bring it to life. 

During the latest CX-WISE podcast, Nate Brown expressed his admiration for the Forrester definition of customer experience: 

“CX is nothing but the thoughts and perceptions that people have towards a brand. 

Nate Brown, a prominent CX speaker, practitioner and the executive director of CX Accelerator, has held a spot on ICMI's top CX thought-leader list for over five years and counting.  

Brown emphasized the importance of thoughts, perceptions and the magical interplay between the left-brained scientific elements and the right-brained world of feelings and relationships to hit the sweet spot of CX. 

It's like having the best of both worlds — the structured, analytical elements of CX, like data analytics and project management, seamlessly blending with the emotional and relational aspects. 

Brown eloquently captured this essence when he pointed out: 

“At the end of the day, what we're striving for is to cultivate great feelings about the brands that we serve, but there's so much science in how we do that.” 

In a candid chat on episode 8 of CX-WISE with Nathan Bennett, Brown shed light on a unique analogy. He underscored that knowledge triumphs over power, not only in a game of pickleball but also in the realm of employee experience. Brown drew parallels between the shared social experience of pickleball and the sense of pride you get from it to how these qualities seamlessly translate into the fabric of great employee engagement.  

This form of employee engagement, he contended, fuels a collective commitment to deliver exceptional CX to the customers of the brand. 

With such fascinating thoughts and then some, you can bet that this episode had many eye-opening scenarios to unpack.  

So, are you ready to glean insights from Nate Brown’s wisdom on achieving great customer experience in your business? 

Scroll down to soak in the words of the wise. 

Table of Contents

Can empathy be taught in customer service? 

At the center of the discussion between the two Nates was a captivating exploration into the art of customer experience.  

Bennett brilliantly touched upon the elusive quality of empathy — something that can't be easily taught but is indispensable in the realm of customer service. 

Empathy is a must-have ingredient in customer service, like salt in a dish. It’s an intrinsic willingness to help, truly understand and connect with customers’ problems. 

Brown then added more depth to the subject by acknowledging the ongoing debates about whether empathy can be taught. Drawing a vivid analogy, he likened customer service agents to "knowledge curators," who are the unsung heroes of the business world. 

He urged to think of them as helpful guides in a bookstore, who understand each book's offerings and recommend the perfect one for you, much like a friendly librarian. But instead of suggesting the next big fantasy series, they’re decoding business complexities. 

These agents are not the stars but the essential assistants for any thriving business. They guide customers towards their versions of success, which requires a caring attitude akin to a friend who anticipates your needs.  

Brown highlighted a crucial point:

“If somebody is not motivated to do these things for the customer, they are not going to enjoy this work, and they're not going to be good at it.” 

Learn More: How to show empathy in customer service 

What made the CX Accelerator community band together 

Brown spilt the beans on CX Accelerator, a community he birthed out of a personal need for support in the wild, wild world of CX. Feeling a bit like a lone ranger in his organization, he longed for a place where his "CX fire” could burn brighter.  

So, he gathered a bunch of CX experts on a Slack channel, and boom! CX Accelerator was born. 

This creation of his is like an oasis where CX pros come together, share stories, talk about experiments that went right or wrong and uplift each other.  

Interesting Read: 20 Amazing Customer Experience Quotes  

Brown shared how the community flipped a switch in his brain. He went from playing “CX Moses,” dropping golden tablets and yelling at everyone to realizing that maybe — just maybe — he was the problem.  

The "aha" moment for him came from a mentor named Debbie and the community showing him a more relaxed and collaborative way to approach CX. 

Now, instead of being a lone warrior, Brown thinks of CX as a fellowship — a Gandalf gathering hobbits, dwarves and elves (who usually can't stand each other) for a common goal — the customer.  

He noted that it’s about putting petty office politics aside and focusing on what really matters: serving customers the way they deserve to be.  

Insights from pickleball on employee experience 

The episode took a fun detour into the world of pickleball with our coach, Nate Brown.  

Pickleball happens to be this unexpected rockstar of sports, which went from being played in elementary school gyms to grabbing the attention of big names like Drew Brees and LeBron James.  

A group of senior citizens enjoying a game of pickleball on a sunny day.

Source

What's the big deal about it? Well, it turns out, it's not just about smacking a ball around; it's the vibe, the inclusivity and the shared social experience that players get. 

Now, why are we chatting about pickleball in the tips-to-improve-employee-experience segment? Well, pickleball, the unassuming yet explosive sport, has a lesson to teach beyond the court. And here’s how Brown extended game-defining values from one field to another.  

Imagine if the culture at your workplace embraced the camaraderie found in pickleball. 

Picture an 80-year-old woman with a knee brace outsmarting a pumped-up 25-year-old frat boy on the pickleball court. 

In this setting, it's not just about physical strength; it's about strategic knowledge. This inclusive game fosters an unexpected bond, where age and backgrounds become irrelevant, and a unique tribal language emerges. 

As the sport gained popularity during the pandemic, Brown thought: “Why not bring this dynamic shared social experience to the workplace?" 

Similar to the game itself, the focus wouldn't be on sheer power but on knowledge and collaboration. The goal is to turn the workplace into a thriving community by creating a sense of collective identity and camaraderie. 

In the workplace, the emphasis must shift from raw power and productivity to leveraging the team's strengths so customers are served exceptionally. Employees need to understand the CX game better and use that understanding to excel as a team and company. 

A graphic displaying pickleball statistics, featuring demographic information alongside key data points.

Source 

So, maybe it's time to bring a bit of that pickleball flair to your office.  

Who knew sports could have such tremendous workplace wisdom? 

Scoops of wisdom from Janarty's on creating a community experience

Brown took us on a delightful journey into the heart of Janarty's ice cream shop — a local gem in Smyrna, Tennessee that goes beyond scoops and cones to embody the essence of community.  

It’s a wondrous place adorned with local art and kids' drawings. And it’s a third home, just like Starbucks, but with a more personal touch.  

Janarty's is more than an ice cream spot — it's a community hub. And who doesn't love the excitement of small-batch, experimental ice cream? 

janarty-s ice cream

Source

Now, here's where the magic happens. 

Each visit is a blend of the familiar and the unexpected.  

The consistent presence of friendly faces fosters a sense of being among friends, offering a comforting backdrop. However, the real excitement emerges from the ever-changing array of experimental flavors.  

This psychological mix provides both a consistent comfort and the thrill of discovering something new.  

According to Brown, this isn't merely a recipe for small businesses; it's a blueprint for enterprise success through the art of co-creating experiences. 

As Brown detailed it out: 

“There's something you're trying to do to make the world a better place and to make people's lives better and easier. You're trying to serve, and you get to invite your customers into that process to co-create with them so that you can, together, serve the world better than you ever could have apart. 

And that's CX amplified. Voice of customer is so much better. We're listening. We're learning in this community vehicle. Product and development — and innovation is so much better because you're innovating alongside your very stakeholders that are using the product that are earning you your word of mouth."

Sales and marketing are amplified because, suddenly, you've got these ambassadors that are so loyal to you. They're co-creating with you, and they're bringing like-minded people in your group of customers that belong to you. They're bringing them into your community for you. And that's how sales and marketing are done through this customer-centric lens.” 

Empowering brand guardians and fostering a collaborative culture 

Now, the crucial topic of safeguarding the “brand guardians,” who are also known as customer service representatives, took center stage.  

Brown emphasized the importance of adopting a dual approach that addresses both practical and psychological aspects.  

From a psychological standpoint, he highlighted the significance of establishing a culture that is generous with information — a psychological safety net. When this safety net is firmly in place, agents feel liberated to share their knowledge, thereby fostering a collaborative environment. 

The practical side involves streamlining the agent toolset for customer service. 

Brown criticizes the current trend, where enterprises often end up with an overwhelming number of apps that agents struggle to use effectively. He highlighted the importance of choosing smart tools, such as Sprinklr, that empower agents instead of creating a chaotic digital landscape. The discussion touched on the need for honesty in evaluating and optimizing the tool ecosystem. 

The conversation also delved into the role of culture in fostering collaboration.  

Brown questioned the impact of competitive metrics, like CSAT, on team dynamics.  

This dialogue prompted reflection on how organizations could motivate their teams to work cohesively, reinforcing the importance of a collaborative and supportive culture in customer service. 

Read More: 3 Important qualities of customer service 

The friction fighter mindset in customer experience 

In the final leg of this episode's journey, Brown introduced the concept of "friction fighters," a dynamic force that’s a lot like a CX change coalition.  

This isn’t just a creative term; it's a rallying cry for people across organizations to come together and make their businesses smoother and more enjoyable. 

Inspired by the idea of making the customer journey quick and easy, friction fighters are the ones who are committed to tackling both external and internal obstacles. They're not just alleviating customer friction but also fighting against burnout within the team. The goal is to create a collaborative culture, where everyone feels like they’re a part of something bigger and not just another CX function. 

Brown's way of doing things is removing the mystery that’s usually linked with CX initiatives. He wants people to think about overcoming problems. It's all about making the brand's promises clear, explaining things in simple terms and focusing on what truly motivates individuals. 

Through this lens, customer experience becomes a shared mission, driven by a credo that emphasizes sharing knowledge, helping others and collectively releasing friction pockets within the business. It's an empowering strategy that aligns intrinsic motivators with what genuinely matters for both employees and customers alike.

Wrapping up

Phew! That's a goldmine of wisdom you've got there, Nate Brown. Words don't do it justice. But lucky for our readers, we've got those nuggets all nice and packed in our podcast.

Now, who's up for some freebies? That’s a silly question. Who isn’t?

Just share your key takeaway from the podcast on social media — use #CXWISE and tag Sprinklr — and we'll send you a complimentary copy of "Tribal Leadership," a book that’s strongly recommended by the inimitable Nate Brown.

And be sure to unwrap Brown’s CX mindblowers by tuning into the full podcast so you can be that much more CX-WISER!

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