Learning From the Best: Event Debrief

It was a pleasure and an honour moderating the panel at the Customer Service Institute of Australia’s (CSIA) ‘Think Eat Act’ event in Sydney recently.  

The members of the panel determine the success of any panel discussion, and I could not have asked for a better group.

The group was comprised of Customer Service Manager Nick Stapleton, Chief Operating Officer Kathleen Cain, and Principal Manager Customer Service for Transport Shared Services at Transport NSW Kerry Gillfeather.

Each panellist shared their firsthand experience of how certification to the International Customer Service Standard (ICSS: 2015–2020) with CSIA has helped them drive cultural change within their business, the challenges they’ve faced and the results they’ve achieved.

The panel was diverse, and their insights had something of value for everybody. Since the event, I’ve been thinking over some of the ‘a-ha’ moments I had and wanted to share what I learnt.

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(Left to right) Kathleen Cain, Kerry Gilfeather, Anouche Newman, Amrita Bhattacharyya, Nick Stapleton

Plan effectively

Kerry Gillfeather, Principal Manager of Customer Service at Transport Shared Services (TSS) for Transport NSW emphasised that it is important to understand the level of effort required to prepare an organisation for certification.

It’s imperative to resource the team accordingly and to not underestimate the effort required.

Recognise your internal talent

One of the key realisations for Kerry was the discovery and recognition of internal talent, and all the things that TSS was doing right on a daily basis.

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Recognise your uniqueness as an organisation

Kathleen Cain, Chief Operating Officer at Link Housing was responsible for leading her organisation’s re-certification to the ICSS Standard with CSIA earlier in the year. For Kathleen, the key to success was to recognise the uniqueness of her organisation and define what customer success meant for them based on that uniqueness.

When Link Housing first started looking for customer service training programs, they found traditional programs did not address the needs of Link Housing customer facing staff. Her team designed and implemented a tailored training program to address the training needs for dealing with Link Housing customer base’s unique needs (which include disabilities and cognitive impairment). A critical part of the training program was teaching staff coping mechanisms for recovery from emotionally challenging and stressful situations. 

Walk in your customers’ shoes

Link Housing’s award winning customer research program uses customers to mystery shop their services and drive continuous improvement. This innovative approach was defined to help Link Housing to walk in the shoes of their customer base, which would have been difficult to achieve with regular mystery shoppers.

This approach to mystery shopping has offered Link Housing deep customer insights and helped with the co-creation of services with their unique customer base. For this innovative approach to customer research, Link Housing won the Customer Service Project of the Year Award at the 2016 Australian Service Excellence Awards.

The right measurement gets the right results

Nick Stapleton, Customer Service Manager at Smartsalary, was one of the early adopters of the ICSS framework.

While Smartsalary uses NPS to measure customer experience, the metric that drives operations is the Agent Performance Score. Smartsalary found that there was a high correlation between agent performance and NPS; and using the agent performance score as the key indicator of customer experience has made their results more actionable and controllable.

Listen to your customers

Nick emphasised the importance of harvesting and acting upon customer feedback. As a leader responsible for implementation of the ICSS framework and certification process with CSIA over the past six years, Nick is looking forward to the implementation of the framework across other divisions within the Smart Group in the near future. 

To sum up…

A big thank you to Customer Service Institute of Australia for hosting the event and to our Think Eat Act panellists Kerry Gillfeather, Kathleen Cain and Nick Stapleton for sharing your experiences and insights. It was an engaging, insightful, and uplifting session.    

The greatest challenge customer experience experts face is organisational alignment. Stellar Evolve helps organisations define their customer strategy and drive customer led-transformation. If you would like to have a conversation to discuss your challenges, please get in touch.


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