Jeff Tobe: Coloring Outside the Lines: Creating a NEW CX Experience

June 9, 2021

Jeff Tobe: Coloring Outside the Lines: Creating a NEW CX Experience

Jeff Tobe: Coloring Outside the Lines: Creating a NEW CX Experience

Please join Steve in the Studio as Jeff Tobe drops by to talk about Coloring Outside the Lines to Create a New CX.

Episode Sketchnote:

Certified Speaking Professional Jeff Tobe’s credentials are impressive. Insider Magazine dubbed him “The Guru of Creativity” and readers of Convention & Meetings Magazine chose him as one of the top 15 speakers in North America. He is a creativity and customer experience expert, professional speaker, and bestselling author who works with companies and organizations who want to increase their bottom line by changing their customer experience and retaining great talent. Tobe founded Coloring Outside the Lines in 1994 and since then has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to ones with less than 20 employees including Microsoft, PepsiCo, PNC Bank, Sonny’s BBQ and many more! Jeff Tobe’s most requested programs focus on


His high-energy, high-fun and high-content programs create the ideal presentation for any kind of corporate or educational forum. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications and he is the author of the hugely popular book, Coloring Outside the Lines. He is the co-author of three other books and his newest book, ANTICIPATE: Knowing What Customers Need Before They Do is quickly becoming one of the hottest business books on the market. He is also the creator of ACX, the Associate of Customer Experience, online certification program.

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Welcome to the Science of C. X podcast. My name is Steve papa's a former serial entrepreneur turned C. X obsessed expert and each week we bring you an inspiring message and insight into how customer experience can catapult your business to soar grow and accelerate beyond what you thought was possible. We seek out experts to interview and help you on your journey to see X in the Science of C X. Well welcome everybody to another episode of the Science of C. X. I'm steve PAPP is your host and as always, we try to look far and wide for customer experience experts that can speak to you and teach you various aspects of customer experience you might not normally come across, there are so many nuances to customer experience and today we're really talking to an authority Jeff. Taub is with us and he is the author of coloring outside the lines and we're going to get more into his book and what that means and how that will help you guys. But first of all, let's welcome Jeff to the show. Welcome Jeff steve. It's an honor to be here. I'm really excited. We are too, because your book was very interesting coloring outside the lines, really got the creative thinking, juices flowing. But first let me jump into your by a little bit. Just so folks have a sense of what we're going to talk about today because we're probably going to try to encapsulate a lot of different things in a short amount of time. Jeff is an international keynote speaker as well as the author of Color outside the lines, Innovation and creativity guru. Jeff has spent over 20 years researching some of the various things that we're gonna be talking about today and it's going to be very interesting because organizations need to make the leap from customer service to a customer experience way of thinking and that is what Jeff travels the world teaching organizations to do really how to increase their bottom line and retain great talent. Jeff has a marvelous reputation as the world's leading thought leader on areas and customer experience, creativity and employee engagement. And that is one of the reasons why we wanted to invite Jeff here because we're going to talk about many of these things that I hope Jeff will be able to give us an exercise. He'll give us some homework towards the end of the show. But I've got to ask you Jeff coloring outside of the lines. Really struck me as a title that says, just don't do it the way it's always been done. What was your thinking behind title of your book, coloring outside the lines. First of all, I hope I could live up to that bio steve. That was pretty incredible. So my mother would be proud, you know, coloring outside the lines. It actually came from a poem that my dad gave me many years ago. But I was walking through Detroit airport 20 something years ago. The guy looked at me, he said, I know you, you're coloring outside the lines. He didn't remember my name. He had no clue where he had heard me speak, but he remembered that and I said, I got to do something about that. So it became my trademark, the name of my company and ultimately the name of my first book coloring outside the lines, which is now in its third edition. The short story is that I was in the advertising marketing world. We had one all kinds of awards for creativity and promotions And the International Association that awarded them came to me and said, would you put together a 90 minute talk on how to be creative in this business? I said, sure. So I did it. And two days later, a woman called me from Wisconsin said, I heard you in Dallas, would you come to Wisconsin and do the same thing for my organization? I said sure. She said, what do you charge? I said charge. And thus started my speaking career. So it's been an amazing brand for me and remains that way worldwide. Well, let's start off by differentiating for our listeners. The vast difference between customer service and customer experience. If you will, let me go back a little bit first and just say that my latest book is anticipate knowing what customers need before they do. I co authored this book and what we wrote that book. I was excited. I thought we're gonna take the world by storm and we didn't. And I'll be quite honest with your listeners because what I found was too many people are still back at the beginning and I realized that's where my expertise is. Like you said earlier, it really is about how do we introduce the entire organization? Typically, the C suite gets it, the sales manager gets it. But people have to understand the difference. And quite simply, I say, customer service is what most successful organizations do. Well, it's not going anywhere. Comes from the heart. Customer experience, though, is the ability to step back and ask ourselves what's my customers experience from the minute they make contact with me till the minute they're done. And that involves so many more people as you know, steve, it's a collaboration. And it's also a great excuse. We've been talking about customer service for so long that, you know, you've got a guy who sits in it all day on his computer going rah rah, customer service, customer service. He has no front line contact with the customer, he's not customer facing. So with that in mind, he's been saying customer service is somebody else's job. But now, if we make that lead to customer experience, thinking as you're talking about and as you know, well, all of a sudden he understands his involvement in the end to end customer experience and he becomes more engaged. That was good because we have a lot of healthcare listeners here too. If we could start in one spot, because it will create examples for them about creating a new customer or a patient or a member experience if they're in hospitals or if they're in health care of other areas because it is such a topical area. Right now, everybody is talking about different aspects of health care, different aspects of how patients or members are being treated, but how do we start coloring outside the lines for that sector? Maybe you'll have some examples of that that will resonate with our listeners, the majority of my businesses in healthcare, so we have that in common. You know, right now, patient experience has never been more important. And I think if you're in healthcare, you think I'm about to say, and it's true that part of reimbursement obviously is based on patient experience scores, so that's why it's critical, but that's not really what I what I think is, it's because of the last 11 months that we've gone through. And so I think that it's never been more important to start refocusing on the patient. I see a lot of health care workers and rightfully so they're burned out. They don't even know if they want to be in this profession anymore. And the only thing that will keep you going is by saying look from the patient's perspective, I want sort of sales trainers say if you see the world to your customers eyes, you'll see the way your customer buys. I use that health care all the time, see the world to your patients eyes and you'll realize the value you bring to the market place right now and how important the patient experience really is their perspective kind of not ours and it might just keep you going at this point. But it's vital to think creatively. And we've had to because we've been thrown into this thing that nobody ever expected. Listen, steve, do you remember last March possibly saying to somebody, you know what may june will be fine and that's normal. Absolutely. We rescheduled everything for about two or three months out. Exactly. So I do a lot of work with rural hospitals across the U. S. And you were asking about examples. I've seen amazing things when they started to focus on two things. One was a patient experience refocused on the patient experience, but to on employee engagement and all of a sudden they've gone from the 2 to 3 star hospital if not Five star hospital which makes a huge difference in their bottom line as well as the care they give and these are in small communities so people are coming back instead of what I call DR buys. You know, we're going somewhere else for their care. So huge things when it comes to those to the patient experience and engagement. Do you concentrate on any particular departments initially in the hospital? Like patient access, patient scheduling revenue cycle the areas that certainly affect even before the care is given. The answer is absolutely not. No. Because you know, I truly believe that the only way that you can offer an incredible experiences by getting every single employee involved and that's difficult in a large hospital system, but not so difficult in the rural hospitals. I do a lot of work with. I was working with the hospital yesterday remotely and I said to them, what was the last time you walked in the front door of your hospital? Because they all use entrances that are near their departments. And I said one time this week, I just want you to walk in the front door as if you're patient. So again, I think it's right from the beginning of the experience to the end of the experience. So how can you focus on one department? It's interesting, we talk about walking in. I actually have them do an exercise where I have them videotape themselves walking into so that they are able to then go back and critique what they see all of a sudden. They noticed that some decorations are outdated. These things should be changed and there's so many things that they get once they could go back and look at it. Well, it's fun to be almost like a secret shopper. I did this at a hospital in Indiana a couple months ago and I realized that the sign at the front, they go to radiology to check in. I went to radiology, they said, no, you have to check in at the front door. Of course, because we've just been thrown into the state of flux, that we have no clue what the right hand your left hand's doing. So let's go a little bit deeper. If we're using that example in one of your areas, you talk about how to spark innovative thinking and yourself and others. If we use the healthcare example, how do you help them become more innovative thinkers? Let me backtrack one more time. There's a difference between creativity and innovation. All right. So let's start with a creative thinker. I think we all are and I think once people realize their creative, they'll start to use those abilities. Innovation, however, is different. Innovation is taking those creative ideas and doing something about it because everybody has the ability to come up with ideas. I look at it this way, creativity is two words is create and activity that creates the easy part. It's the city, the implementation, that's the hard part. So I'm in there basically telling people you are creative and that's what I do in my workshops and my training and then use that creativity. One of the things I already mentioned is how do you see what you do from a different perspective? I like to say there's always more than one right answer. So I would imagine along with the creative thinking, you have to temper that with the fact that changes all around them too. Things are changing at a ferocious pace. So how do you manage and mitigate the change aspect of it while they're trying to be more creative? Let me take it back for a minute. You with 1988 S. M. U. Business school in Dallas did a study on change and what they found was that if you were in business of any kind in 1988 he went through a major change in the way you do what you do every three years Now. Health care alone in 1988 was about just over two years now. Fast forward. They redid the study for the fourth time a year and a half ago. And they found that that three years in general has been reduced to seven months in health care. Guess what? It's reduced to three months. It means that something you're doing right now is standard practice is going to change drastically over the next few months. So I can't think of a better reason to color outside the lines. So my job, I think, is to get people to understand how you can thrive from change, not just manage it. I think the first step, if I could give a hint to everybody is get past the T T W W A. D. I. Syndrome, which is that's the way we've always done it syndrome. If we just go a step further, the change has affected everybody. I don't think there's anyone that has not suffered through change. And I use the term suffer because not everything is bad, but they've had to adapt. They've had to find new ways. It could just be the context center agent is now working from home. But because of HIPPA regulations, if a family member walks behind them on their screen, they could be potentially a security problem there. So their level of changes how they do the type of work, what's going on in the world. But it's also that their environment is changing that now the home is a lot noisier because kids are on zoom calls two or three people in my own home. We've had to build offices for three people that are working from home all day. So that creates another level of change. Um and the fact that you have to be secure because it's medical related information. So there seems to be even more change that's happening. That is not just about how we're doing our work. It's the fact that there are other things impacting it, The dominoes keep falling and most businesses are realizing them as they go. Is that making sense to you? Absolutely. But here's the challenge. I don't think it's about change that people are afraid. I think it's about the speed at which we're asking them to change. And so I go back to almost two generations. So my kids and your kids probably are better at adapting to change than you. And I, because we grew up in an age where things didn't change as quickly. So I find it very generational in any organization within my work. So I can always find the veterans and I'm using air quotes the veterans in the organization who are blocking a change and I think it's an awesome responsibility, but I think it's the responsibility of the younger generations to bring them along. We talk about mentorship is if the old should mentor the new and what I'm trying to do when I work with an organization in any industry, I'm trying to put it on the shoulders of the gen y and gen x is that you need to bring along traditional is and baby boomers along the change. So it's about communication from C suite down through the organization and it's always that middle group that seems to block at the change. I have never had anyone on the show actually talk about that and that is very key because when you think about who are making the decisions, it's not necessarily those younger generations that are making the decisions, but maybe they could be part of the solution, they should be and bring them into the customer experience strategy to help further develop it and to bring others along. So I guess that's their way of stepping up and taking on a little more responsibility. How do you find that they take to it, though? Oh, they do great. When I go into an organization on a long term basis, I set up what I call a council. So it's a service excellence council and the council is made up of 60% management and 40% frontline workers. And what that does all of a sudden is get people working together who have never worked together before under that council or what we call service Excellence advisors and I trained them to deliver the workshops, eventually, to the whole organization about where we're going on the service Excellence Initiative. So I'm trying to involve everybody at every level and I'm very adamant, I guess, about who's on that council and who are the S E A s in that, Not always their generation sometimes, but also the amount of time that they've worked at the organization. So I want newbies, I want fresh insight, and then I also want the veterans on there and all of a sudden they're working together a whole different dynamic and they're the ones driving the initiative through the organization. Not me, not the C suite. Well, let's stay on that track because it seems like the employees in general are an area to concentrate on today and for the future. Getting documents signed while we're all working from home now, that's been tough. We all know that pain because we've all felt it and been through it. We built a better solution, Seeing the problem that everyone has gone through now that we're working from home to get documents and contracts signed just requires so much effort and it's been difficult for everyone. We've solved that problem with sign pdf doc dot com. Sign pdf doc dot com is your one stop simple solution to get all of your documents commented, shared and signed easily. You can even import from google docs and dropbox into a single manageable dashboard. Sign up today for your free account at www dot sign pdf doc dot com. I know one of the things that you talk about are the four pillars of engagement and how to get employees really engaged. Can you help our listeners think through how to help them get engaged a bit. First of all, it all starts with the premise in the new book, anticipate that the more engaged people are internally, the better the experience externally, Let's figure out how to get our people more engaged. How do we do it? You know, I like to say engagement comes to the grassroots level and works its way up through the organization and not from management down. And so how do we get people at a grassroots level? I'd love to share an exercise. It's very simple, but there's a couple definitions they need. And the most important definition is this, first of all, what's a touch point? A touch point is any point where the customer actually interacts with us. So it can be the phone or it can be the website. Perfect. So I define it as this and they need this definition for the exercise. Any opportunity we have to influence the customer experience, that's all you need now. Get your team or if you're able the whole organization, get them together, you need a flip chart and markers and that definition. Then go around and ask your team what are touch points on any given day And start to write them at first you get a few and they're very marketing oriented. But then you give examples like if I come to your office and I can't find a parking spot, that's a touch point, if I go into the men's room and it's dirty, that's a touch point and all of a sudden they start to get it. I find in this exercise with 25 or 30 touchpoints take a break, tell your people there are markers up here on the flip chart. I want you to come up with the break and I want you to put a check mark beside the top five or six priority touch points for our team, for our organization. Come back after the break. The employees have identified the top. You can't argue if you're a management, you can't argue with it. That's their perspective. And then take the top five. Quick example. I had the opportunity to work with a milk company in Missouri, 65 employees. Not very big, but they had to customers. They have a farmer. They literally pick up the milk, they process it, then the second customer, they sell it to small retailers. I think the 65 I did this exercise came back after the break and no surprise they identified their number one touch point as their drivers. I mean think about it. Who has more frontline contact with the customer than their drivers. So I took the six drivers aside at launch. All men. I said congratulations on being identified as the number one touch point in the organization. I said, what's one thing we could do to make a little better? This one little touch point called pickup and delivery without hesitation. One of the guys said, when I tell people what I do or where I work, I get a bit of a giggle. I was wondering if we could use it somewhere in the organization. So on the back of every one of the trucks, it has the name of the company and it now says in case of accident, please have cookies ready? Lots and lots and lots of cookies. What do you think? The driver not at the truck, but the guy who suggested, what do you think he's saying to everybody knows that milk and cookies? That's my idea. You know, do you think he's satisfied at work or do you think he's engaged? He's engaged identifying these touchpoints and getting somebody to own it and there's the key. Somebody has to own it. Somebody mean department, even a person has to own the touch point and then ask them, how can they tweak that one little touch point that they own And the combination of those five or six will start to change the exterior experience completely interesting. Well, we've had that discussion many times on the show whether or not customer experience is a top down, bottom up, both middle down, middle up. And the answer is yes. Although in health care I find the biggest pushback as middle management. So I get the C suite buying into it. I get a grassroots level frontline workers buying into it. It's that middle manager who always gives us the pushback of Delta and health care now for 30 years. And I've seen where CeoS will give out their personal cell phone number and see if you have a problem, not to the employees but to the patients if you ever have a problem and it's not resolved. Just call me. One of the things I insist in hospitals is that they do see sweet rounding. So somebody from the C suite, not always the Ceo daily is doing rounding and just talking to patients and say well we've covered a lot of material and I think that exercise is going to be an eye opener for people. I think when they start to really analyze all their touch points it doesn't matter which businesses doesn't have to be. Health care. Could be any business can be small business if they analyze all the touch points and then talk about their top touchpoints, it's also from their perspective, maybe they can then talk to their contact center or they could talk to their internal focus group, which I always go to a contact center to get focused type information to find out what the top touch points they feel the customer would say, Would it be the same or would it be slightly different, interesting perspective. Absolutely. Well, most of those contact center people have that information off the top of their head to, I mean I use them as focus groups more than you could imagine. And I try to encourage the C suite to also do the same. Well, what a novel idea ask them. Well I try to get the Ceo on calls and I try to get the entire C suite on calls for a large portion of a day to even double jack into the calls to just understand. Because it's not that they're not empathetic and it's not that they're not customer centric, it's just that they get caught up in all of the other minutia of running the business that sometimes it's been a while since they've heard the voice or heard the pain in someone's voice when they're in trouble. It's funny. I was just talking to a ceo last week of a large organization. I said stop being a task manager. You need to be a relationship manager is right now it's the people's side. It's a human side of business. Yes. But there are also involved in valuation. They're also involved in the cost versus the value. Let's touch upon that a little bit too. How can we rethink and rework things so that we're addressing cost versus value at the same time, That's the creativity equation we were talking about. So no matter what the interaction with our customer, internal or external, if you can visualize in your mind to boxes, there's one that's huge and that's the cost and then one that's small, that's the value. And so the cost, by the way, it doesn't necessarily mean the cost of our services, the cost of a product. I use it in driving change through the organization. Think of it that way. And I know you have lots of gen y listeners, so I want them to shut their ears for a minute because I just want to mention them. But I think this is the mentality of gen y. It's not good. It's not bad. I'm not being judgmental more than any other generation for everything we're asking to do. They're asking us proved to me the value versus the perceived cost of doing it. And so are our customers. So when I talk about being creative, I'm not talking about pie in the sky and sit at a potter's wheel and create a beautiful bowl, creativity. I'm talking about focusing on how do we creatively increase that value in our customer's mind versus the perceived cost of doing it and you have to keep doing it steve until you realize that the value is now bigger and you can move forward. I tell salespeople this all the time, stop selling, figure out how you can increase the value. To me, that's the key. And we hear a value add and all these terms and sales. But it should be, everybody should be thinking that way. So it really isn't that creative thinking, I think going back to that. So I just want to touch again on the engaged employees. You know, you talk about those four pillars, just so people understand their creativity, commitment, accountability, communication, can we just talk a little bit about that so they can understand that there are multiple areas. They should be thinking about to make sure employees are engaged and are all part of the solution we're trying to collectively get to. Yeah. And by the way, commitment is scary word. I only use it because men especially hate the words. But if you expanded it would be commitment to the customer experience. But we've really covered creativity. Covered customer experience. Communication. Communication piece is inextricable from customer experience from employee engagement. So I take a look at internal and external communication because it's not just employee engagement. It's about engaging our customers differently than we have before too. So people don't think of engagement that way. But a quick example. Well, I just came to mind, but when Covid first started, I had an appointment for teeth cleaning with my dentist and I had to cancel. It was the week that everything kind of shut down. And the day of my appointment I opened my front door in my house and they're on my front porch is a little packet in the packet which you normally get. A little toothpaste and a toothbrush and some dental floss. With a note from my dentist that said really sorry that we had to cancel the appointment. Sure. Going to miss you during this lockdown. Give us a call when it's all over. That was it. But that to me is engaging if somebody had to literally deliver that to my front door. Amazing. So I use that example because we have to figure out new ways to engage our customers right now. So the focus isn't 100% on our employees but it is about engagement. And how do we do that by changing the way we communicate internally and externally I will say that zoom and webinars and online has really changed a lot As far as communication just because a lot of times people won't turn on their cameras. So what's happened, you've lost 60% of your effectiveness because they can't see you right now, you're down to your tone of voice and the words you use. So we really had to adopt. Well let's issue a challenge out there and let's ask our listeners a little bit because that is a phenomenal example of what your dentist did. But let's ask the business leaders out there, what have you done to engage better with your employees? And then what have you done to engage better with your customers over the course of this And feel free, you know, the ways to get in touch with us where science of C. X at gmail dot com and you can just let us know what are the interesting things that you've done or what are just the simple things that you've done just to better engage with your employees and your customers. So one thing I'd like to leave our folks with too, and we'll chat a little more about this, but what should our listeners be thinking about or what should our listeners be doing for the future? You know, how can they make this a better future, given all they know today and given what we've given them during this episode, what should they be doing and thinking for the future? Let me use a visual, just hard to do on a podcast. Imagine a spectrum at one end was customer service and the other end was, and I'm using past tense was customer experience now. Imagine that you extend that a little bit further than customer experience and you start now going to disruption, so you expand a little bit and now you've got disruption. And what I find is that so many people are shooting for disruption in their industry that it's just become this badge that they like to wear. I'm a disrupter, there are very few professions who have actually disrupted their profession and we can name it, you know, from the Uber to Airbnb, but I think that that's the extension and so how can I just go even beyond customer experience if I think I'm kind of good at it, I've been listening to you for a long time steve and now I get it, what's the next step? So I think for the future we have to be thinking about that disruption, I don't know that a small mom and pop organization to be quite frank is going to get to disruptor, but what can I do just in my own sphere of influence to kind of disrupt Here's what I like to say. And here would be the message shattered the stereotype of the experience people expect to have with you. And the reason I use that all the time is because you did something different. That's great. And now it's working. But guess what? Now I expect it is your customer or your patient or your member. So now I got to figure out how do I shatter that new stereotype of the experience you like to have? That brings me a little further along that spectrum. So that would be the saying, I guess shattered the stereotype of the experience your customer expects to have with you, interesting. Well, customer experience has never done. It's a living breathing thing. The strategy needs to always evolve and we have to keep thinking, how do we keep making it better? That's job security for us. Right. Exactly. Well, Jeff, this has been a great time together. I really appreciate you coming on. I want to let people know to pick up Jeff's books. What can I make an offer? Oh, sure. How about I give him the book for free. And this is how we can do it. All you got to do is send me an email. My email address is Jeff, jff at Jeff tobe dot com. J E F F T O B E. Just put in the subject line, free book on the science of C X in the text. And I will send you the pdf. Now, I understand you're not getting the Kindle Virgin or anything else. It's just a pdf of the book. I'm glad to do it for free. Thank you. That is a great offer. And I hope people will take you up on it again. His books are coloring outside the lines and anticipate knowing what customers need before they need it. So Jeff, thanks again for being on and I really appreciate it. My pleasure. Thanks for having me. Well, that's another episode of the science of C X. I'm steve happens your host and until we meet again, please stay safe, stay healthy and please take care. Find a one place to see all customer experience related tools to technology has been difficult until now. We just built it. Get ready for a science of C. X. Original customer experience. Technology has been helping to drive businesses by giving them insights into better methods to engage and delight their customers for some time now. But if you're looking for C X tech, you have to search far and wide to understand the whole landscape. C X stash is your simple one stop directory of all the Great Sea X related technology you need. It breaks down all C x by collections like analytics, Crm, journey mapping, voice of the customer, you X customer support and more. It's free to create an account and use no advertising. Cluttering up your experience. Just one place to find all the Great Sea X tech Sign up today at www dot c x stash dot com.