How to Infuse Your CX Initiatives with Honesty feat. Ian Golding

Despina Singh

April 12, 20247 min read

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I’ll not beat around the bush. Let's dive into a world where tech meets touch, and digital meets personal. We're zooming in on a fascinating story about Ian Golding, a guy who's really shaking things up in the customer experience (CX) world.

Ian's been in the game for over 25 years, transforming big names like the Royal Bank of Scotland and GE with a simple, yet revolutionary idea — putting humans at the heart of business.

“It's all about connecting, really connecting, with customers.”

Now, our host Nathan Bennett is set to peel back the layers of Ian's approach in a chat that's as enlightening as it is engaging.

Ian isn't just a talker; he's a doer. His book, "Customer What?", is a wake-up call to businesses everywhere: time to shift from just strategizing to truly empathizing.

What's cool about Ian? He's not just about lofty ideas. With his Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and his role at the Customer Institute, he's all about action, blending know-how with real, heartfelt strategy.

So, as we unpack this conversation, expect to get a mix of inspiring stories, practical tips and maybe a few "aha!" moments that could change how you view customer experience. Whether you're a CX pro or just curious, there's something here for everyone.

Ready to rethink how you connect with customers and sprinkle in a little more human touch into your business?

Table of Contents

Embrace the mosaic of employee backgrounds for richer CX 

Ian Golding's journey, dotted with unique experiences like reality TV, reminds us that unconventional paths can offer profound insights into CX.

Imagine the depth of understanding and innovation you could achieve in customer experience by weaving together the diverse tapestries of our team members' backgrounds.

Here's what you can do: Encourage your team members to bring their whole selves and varied experiences to the table, so you can create a fertile ground for groundbreaking CX strategies.

Mining the past for CX gold

There's a treasure trove of wisdom in the history of customer service waiting to be unearthed and applied to your current practices.

Ian's reflections on historical customer service strategies shine a light on this untapped resource.

01. CX-WISE Quote Cards - Ian Golding

Imagine the potential for innovation and connection if you actively explored and adapted these timeless principles to our modern CX challenges.

This approach not only honors the journey of the CX profession but can also enrich your strategies with proven wisdom.

In the 1900s, a small-town bakery personalized experiences by remembering each customer's favorite bread and pastries. This familiarity not only encouraged repeat visits but also built a loyal community around the bakery, underlining the era's business ethos: personalized service fosters customer loyalty and business sustainability.

By crafting experiences that resonate on a personal level, you're not just selling a product or service; you're nurturing a relationship that stands the test of time and competition.

The loyalty conundrum in a world of choices

The modern market's vast array of choices poses a unique challenge to customer loyalty.

Ian's insights prompt us to think creatively about how you can stand out in this crowded space. It's not just about being one of many options; it's about being the chosen option, time after time.

“The massive influx of choice, the huge reduction in price, the commoditization of much of what we consume, has meant that consumer decision-making is very different now to what it was in 1900.”

This requires a deep understanding of what truly matters to your customers and how you can consistently deliver and exceed those expectations. 
Here’s what you can do:  

  • Understand preferences: deeply analyze customer desires through surveys or data analysis 

  • Personalize experiences: customize interactions and offerings based on individual customer data 

  • Exceed expectations: aim to surprise customers with exceptional service and unexpected perks 

  • Emotional connections: build strong, emotional relationships with customers to foster loyalty 

  • Utilize technology: use data analytics and AI to enhance personalization and predict needs 

  • Communicate value: ensure customers understand the unique benefits your brand offers 

  • Feedback loop: actively seek and respond to customer feedback to demonstrate their value and inform improvements 

  • Consistency: maintain consistent quality across all customer interactions to build trust and loyalty

The role of emotion in CX

Emotion plays a pivotal role in shaping memorable customer experiences, and its intentional cultivation can significantly differentiate your service. Emotional connection can transform a mundane interaction into a memorable experience.

Ian's conversation underscores the power of empathy and emotional intelligence in setting your brand apart.

02. CX-WISE Quote Cards - Ian Golding

By training your teams to recognize and respond to customer emotions effectively, you're not just conducting business; you're building a community of loyal advocates for your brand. 
Additionally, Ian's dialogue highlights a critical truth: the way a brand treats its employees is reflected in the customer experience they deliver.

By recognizing and valuing your employees, you're not just boosting morale; you're enhancing the quality of interaction you provide to your customers, fostering a cycle of positivity and engagement that benefits all. 
Here’s what you can do: 

  • Empathy training: equip your teams with training to enhance empathy and emotional intelligence 

  • Active listening: foster active listening to make your customers feel heard and understood 

  • Emotional responsiveness: develop staff skills in recognizing and responding to emotional cues 

  • Authentic connections: encourage genuine care and authenticity in every customer interaction 

  • Storytelling: utilize storytelling to evoke emotions and connect with customers on a deeper level 

  • Feedback channels: implement mechanisms for customers to share emotional feedback on their experiences 

  • Community building: create shared experiences to foster a sense of community and loyalty among customers  

Balancing tech and human touch

The allure of digital transformation is undeniable, but Ian's conversation serves as a reminder that technology should enhance, not replace, human interaction.

In your quest to innovate, ensure your tech solutions amplify the warmth and personal touch that customers crave, maintaining a balance that respects the human element at the core of your endeavors.

03. CX-WISE Quote Cards - Ian Golding

Here’s what you can do:

  • Human-centric technology: implement technology that enhances, not replaces, human interaction, ensuring it adds value to the customer experience 

  • Personal touch: use tech to facilitate more personalized, meaningful interactions, not to create a barrier between your brand and your customers 

  • Employee enablement: equip your staff with technology that empowers them to provide better, more efficient service, avoiding technology that could overshadow their valuable contributions 

  • Feedback integration: incorporate customer feedback mechanisms to understand how technology affects their experience and adjust accordingly 

  • Emotional intelligence: invest in AI and machine learning that can interpret and respond to emotional cues, but ensure it complements human empathy, not substitutes it 

  • Accessibility: ensure technology improves accessibility for all customers, enhancing their ability to connect with your brand 

  • Training: provide ongoing training for employees to seamlessly integrate technology into their interactions with customers, enhancing the human connection 

  • Balance monitoring: regularly assess the balance between technology and human interaction, adjusting strategies to maintain a customer-centric approach 

  • Transparent communication: be transparent with customers about how technology is used in their interactions and how it benefits them 

  • Innovation with purpose: embrace technological advancements that have a clear, beneficial purpose for enhancing customer relationships, avoiding technology for technology's sake

Simplification as a strategy

Complexity can be the enemy of effective CX. Ian's conversation invites us to scrutinize our processes and eliminate unnecessary complications.

This streamlining can make life easier for both your employees and customers, leading to smoother interactions and more positive outcomes.

There's a critical need for simplicity in CX strategies; reducing complexity can lead to more effective and engaging customer interactions. 
Here’s what you can do:

  • Audit and streamline: regularly review and simplify customer processes 

  • Clear communication: use straightforward, jargon-free language in customer interactions 

  • Intuitive design: ensure interfaces are user-friendly and easy to navigate 

  • Simplify training: teach employees to offer clear, simple solutions 

  • Utilize feedback: use customer feedback to identify and reduce complexity 

  • Enhance self-service: offer clear, easy-to-use self-service options 

  • Transparent policies: make policies and procedures easy to understand 

  • Consolidate tools: minimize the number of platforms customers engage with 

  • Prioritize essentials: focus on key aspects of customer experience 

  • Commit to simplicity: continually seek ways to streamline the customer experience

Driving change for CX evolution

Change is often met with resistance, but it's essential for growth and improvement in CX.

Ian's insights encourage us to view change not as an obstacle but as an opportunity.

By fostering a culture that embraces adaptation and innovation, you can continuously refine your customer experience, staying ahead in a constantly evolving landscape.

Ian's acknowledgment of the CX community's collaborative spirit inspires professionals to engage in knowledge sharing, leveraging collective insights for mutual growth and enhanced customer experiences. 

“When you're challenging leaders who are command and control, they don't want people to think. When someone like you comes along and says, ‘Hang on a second, we need to empower these people.’ You're not going to be popular. This isn't a popularity contest, but it's why I think the profession is both so important and tough. It's tough because you have got to have — this is a very British word — the gumption to just keep going, whatever's thrown at you.”

The power of shared knowledge 

In the realm of customer experience, collaboration and shared learning can propel us forward. Ian's engagement with the broader CX community exemplifies the benefits of this approach.

04. CX-WISE Quote Cards - Ian Golding

By creating spaces where knowledge, insights and best practices can be exchanged, you not only enhance your own strategies but also contribute to the elevation of the entire CX field.

Insights from 'Customer What?' and life lessons from Chester the tortoise

"Customer What?" isn't just a book title — it's a conversation starter in the world of customer experience (CX), as Ian Golding shares with Nathan Bennett.

Golding's book, adorned with a unique title that encapsulates curiosity and surprise in the realm of CX, serves as a practical guide, not just for CX professionals but for anyone intrigued by the dynamics of customer interactions.

In their engaging conversation, Golding reveals the essence behind "Customer What?" — a question he often encounters when describing his role as a global customer experience specialist.

The book, celebrated for its practical insights, has been a beacon for those seeking to deepen their understanding of CX. In Nathan’s opinion, this book deserves a spot at the top of recommended readings for the CCXP exam.

Looking ahead, Golding contemplates a second edition, hinting at a potential focus on leadership's pivotal role in CX. He envisions a resource that continues to be pragmatic and candid, echoing the foundational principles of his first edition.

Do share your takeaway from the podcast on social media (don’t forget to use #CXWISE and tag Sprinklr) or you can even send us an email directly for a chance to delve into Golding's insights themselves with a free copy of "Customer What?".

Through this blend of professional wisdom and personal anecdotes, Golding and Bennett illuminate the multifaceted nature of CX, inviting us all to become CX-Wiser.

Additionally, a charming anecdote about Chester, Golding's tortoise, offers an unexpected yet profound lesson about the importance of authenticity and targeted efforts in pleasing your audience, whether in life or business.

Tune in to the full podcast to get CX-Wiser to listen to that interesting anecdote and all things customer experience.

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