CX Icon: Jeanne Bliss Pt 2.

Welcome back to part two of our conversation with the godmother of customer experience herself, Jeanne Bliss.

In a fascinating follow-up to part one, this week we discuss the impact of hiring on the customer experience, what it means to practice ‘fearless listening’ and dig deeper into the ultimate purpose of the Chief Customer Officer.

A huge thank you to Jeanne again for taking the time to speak to us, we thoroughly enjoyed it, over to you…

While there’s no ‘secret recipe’ to getting CX right, you’ve talked about how important hiring can be as a part of the process… could you elaborate on that for us? 

Let me give you a perfect retail example.  We’ve all been to stores that sell swimming suits. For a woman, this can be a horrible experience. It’s just not always a fun thing to do. As a business, you have to ask yourself: are you hiring people who have the empathy and skill to make a potentially awkward experience joyful? Do you have the right people onside and have you trained them to diagnose your customers’ needs with empathy?

For me, it all starts with deliberateness.  You need to ask yourself, what memory do I want people to walk out of my store with?  Do you want your customer to walk out feeling demoralized that the teenage sales assistant in the store can’t possibly understand what it means to be a 50-year-old woman buying a swimming suit? Or to come out thinking, “Wow they really took the time to listen”, or, “Well, I didn’t buy a suit today, but I’m going to go back because I know they can really help me with this and make me feel comfortable.”

Asking the customer how it’s going, always helps to point us in the right direction. But in order to start taking actions from that feedback, you need to have conversations with your customers, where you can see their faces.  Rather than just asking them about their experience, you need to ask about their lives.  Who are they? What are their goals?  What do they need?  What’s working and what’s not?  That will lead you to the truer picture of how to stand out, how to connect, and ultimately, how to be specific in the things that will set you apart.  I call this “fearless listening”.

We’ve got – and I’m grateful for this – way past focus groups where we put customers in a room, with company leaders behind a mirror watching.  What we’re doing now is closer to a form of anthropology, because we start with the customer, with their life and their goals.  Feedback points us in the right direction but we then need to consider:  what more do we need to know to start taking action?  Human context is key.

What would your advice be for a retailer looking to embed the ‘human context’ into their daily practices?

The fortunate thing for retail is that it is less complex than health care or buying an insurance policy, it is less complex than working with a financial advisor…

There are 3 key things that retailers need to get deliberate about:

  1. What is your purpose? Is it understood and known throughout the organization? Is management flexible enough to let employees own it and translate it? Does the organization provide people examples to follow?
  2. Do you really know your customers?  Have you dug in and done the hard work of talking to them in earnest, listening to them fearlessly and understanding their lives?
  3. What is the memory you want to imprint?  What are your marquee moments? Are you hiring the right people and behaving in the right way to make sure you hit those moments?

Retail doesn’t have the complexity of being a regulated industry, so the world is your oyster in terms of really crafting experience, but you have to have clarity and deliberation about what you’re trying to achieve.  People need to own that sense of purpose throughout the organization.  Shameless plug, but that’s what I was thinking about when I wrote my book, “Would You Do That To Your Mother?”  Are you crafting each part of your customer journey with that kind of ‘personal barometer’ in mind?

It’s interesting that you mention ownership here.  There’s a tendency for organizations to say that ‘everyone owns the customer experience’.  Does that seem like an oversimplification to you?

There are a couple of points I’d make here.  First, when it comes to customer experience, every organization needs to ‘build an engine’ to manage it.  By that I mean every company needs to have a very deliberate process for how they go about acquiring and processing customer information. To be able to organize customer information into clear storytelling, to be able to render a single version of the truth, to help leadership understand what’s working and what’s not.  That is the work of a Chief Customer Officer.  You need to build this engine so that as an organization, you’re not just constantly reacting all the time.

A lot of businesses struggle to do this. But get it right and it will cascade throughout your team so that delivering a ‘marquee moment’ is inherently a part of the job, wherever you happen to sit in the organization.  If we just say, ‘it’s everybody’s job to love the customer’, that can end up meaning everything and nothing at the same time.

Just another corporate mantra?

Well, that’s the second part of it.  We all like to say we love the customer, but perhaps we have policies in place that cause 10 customers a month to walk out of our stores unhappy.  As a front-line person, I can’t be happy doing something I know doesn’t make sense.  If we really love the customer, and you love me as an employee, and you want me to deliver value to the customer, then hire me because I’m smart and empathetic.  Trust me to make the right decisions for the customer and the business.

Policies are there to provide frameworks.  But we need to be secure in the knowledge that we’ve hired good people, who know how to engage a certain amount of flexibility when it’s warranted.

So are you saying that employees need to be even more empowered in terms of being creative when it comes to CX?

Customer Experience exists to reveal incongruencies and to unite leaders in enabling their people to make the right decisions. I have a podcast.  I call it the “Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show” for this reason.  Our work is to unite the disparate parts of the organization to see what the customer sees.  To shed light on the things we can’t see inside of our silo.  To understand what we’re putting our employees and our customers through, deliberate or not.

Thanks so much for talking Jeanne, it’s been fascinating – do you have a final message for our audience?

Recognize that our responsibility is to improve lives.  We’re all dealt life and we can choose to be givers or takers.  Bravery in business develops givers, whose behaviors earn prosperity – not only financial but in the human spirit.  Decide which one you want to be. Ultimately, it comes down to choosing whether you will or won’t grow.

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Jeanne’s latest book Would You Do That To Your Mother? Is a fantastic introduction to her work.  For readers who would like a taster, you can download the first chapter here.

If you’d like to hear even more from Jeanne, the Customer Bliss website is a veritable treasure trove of fantastic information and insight.

For more in the CX Icon Series, you can check out our previous entries below:

Jeanne Bliss Part 1

Jeremy Watkin

Shep Hyken

Annette Franz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CX Icon: Jeanne Bliss Pt 1.

Jeanne Bliss is widely known as the “godmother of customer experience”.  Since 2002 she has guided customer experience transformations for major global organizations with her firm, CustomerBliss, and has inspired audiences through her keynote speeches.  She is the co-founder of the Customer Experience Professional’s Association.

Jeanne’s latest book Would You Do That to Your Mother? is available now and offers a personal take on business fundamentals thanks to her uniquely human approach. We were honored to speak to her, and covered so much interesting ground that we had to split our conversation into two!

Another fantastic entry to the CX Icon series – enjoy…

For those who may not know you by name, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was the first Chief Customer Officer at Land’s End, Microsoft, Coldwell Banker and Allstate Corporations. In 2006 I wrote my first book Chief Customer Officer. Since then I’ve been coaching senior leaders and organizations who have either hit the wall or are just starting their transformations. Very often, I’m helping companies with the role of Chief Customer Officer or working with a team of people doing the work of a CCO. I’m also the co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association.

Since you started writing and about and advocating for the role of CCO, do you think the business community has caught up when it comes to thinking about CX?

I think three big forcing functions have occurred to make the customer experience more deliberate and wanted.

1. We went through an economic downturn where enlightened companies (and even the less enlightened) finally reconciled and understood that the organic growth of their current customer base, was more profitable and sustainable than relying on pure acquisition. For a long time, acquisition or the sales strategy was considered the only growth strategy.

2. The explosion of social media has put storytelling in the customers’ hands. Businesses can’t just make unchallenged claims about who they are, they have to prove it through their behavior and their actions.  It’s about how customers are treated, the humanity and empathy of the organization, how deliberate they are in helping customers achieve their goals.

3. Leaders around the world began recognizing the challenges of running a silo-based operation. Independent KPI’s can add complexity to the customer’s experience. When KPI’s are misaligned, business silos don’t unite organically, and it’s being recognized that either a Chief Customer Officer or a group of people performing that role, needs to help unite the organization.

What are the most common challenges for the C-Suite in terms of actually implementing an effective strategy?

Two things tend to stand in the way of any well-intentioned organization. One is a united leadership team. If leadership isn’t united in understanding and recognizing where they are in terms of both customer and employee experience, any effort to move forward will hit a wall of misaligned people.

The second is about deliberation. Leadership needs to understand and recognize that customer experience is a deliberate set of actions and work they need to be personally involved in. Simply jobbing out a voice of the customer program and passively consuming it isn’t enough. Personal and deliberate involvement is critical. Strategically and symbolically – it helps the wider company recognize the work as real.

Often work to do with CX, in a well-intended way, occurs because scores are bad or a leader goes out in the field and has a ride along to visit a store and they see something happening, and suddenly that’s the new priority – but we don’t know in the context of everything occurring, if that’s the right priority, let alone the number one.

Interesting…

The other challenge is that lists of actions or problems start to get generated in silos.  What we appear to be working on becomes so large that it becomes easy to give ourselves a false positive. We trick ourselves into thinking the sheer volume of actions will have an equitable impact on the customer experience.

If we can just focus on one or two things, and really solve them end-to-end, that process becomes an iterative and repeatable skill, that positively impacts the lives of employees and customers. But if we’re exhausting the organization while simultaneously giving ourselves a false positive, and we’re shocked that customers are still unhappy, then customer sentiment and feedback aren’t in alignment with needs.  Quite honestly that’s the crossroads we’ve been at in this field for a long time.

Would you say there is a common set of behaviors among retailers who are currently ‘getting it right’ when it comes to customer experience? 

Clarity of purpose. The organizations, CEOs and leaders that immediately spring to mind as ‘getting it right’ might do a wide variety of things, but they’re all very clear about why they’re in business.  I just interviewed the CCO of R.E.I (Ben Steele). R.E.I. is a retailer that is very clear about their purpose, which is to help people be outside and have a life that includes the outdoors and activity. That’s great!  But to truly fulfill that purpose the organization needs to hire people who embrace it and live it and can help customers in whatever their version of that is, even if they happen to be in New York living in a little apartment.  Their people need to operationalize the company values through their actions and behavior.

That deliberateness of saying “Who are we?” takes hard work and heavy lifting. It’s quite honestly rare, but those that do it are the companies that you truly, truly love. It’s not an everyday plan or set of actions; it’s about leadership first, and deliberateness, and being what I call a “salmon leader” and choosing not to do a certain number of things.

Here’s another example.  Virgin Hotels decided they were not going to charge for room service or WIFI.  Raul Leal the C.E.O. considers WIFI a right, not a revenue stream. They have deliberately walked away from the add-on charges that traditional hoteliers look at as a revenue stream.  Instead, they said, “We’re going to compete on service and experience and make up our revenue and growth in that way,” and they have.

They’ve been named the number one hotel by Travel and Leisure, they are expanding exponentially, their profitability and growth are very high.  That takes leadership and specificity.

Would you say that brand authenticity has become just as important a part of customer experience as, say, how much something costs, or how quickly it can be delivered to you?

I would say it’s surpassed it in importance. Our tolerance for inauthenticity is much, much lower than it was in the past. Trust is the most powerful KPI that an organization can have, but you have to operationalize trust with your behaviors. You have to earn trust with your behaviors.

This is really where I really focus on my work with leaders and organizations, to get them to answer the question: “Who are you? Are your customers clear about that?” The great story of R.E.I. is that they put their money where their mouth is, by saying “Look, we believe being outside with the family is so important, that we’re going to shutter our doors on Black Friday.” An extreme example but a great demonstration of really living your values.

I don’t think that our processes for hiring retail salespeople are as creative or interesting as they could or should be. If engagement, guidance, and memory are three things that you want your retail customer to experience, are you hiring for that? Are you coaching for that? Are you giving people permission to make exceptions on hard and fast rules when their common sense tells them the customer and situation merits an exception? Not only for the sake of the customer but ultimately for the long term growth and benefit of the organization?

It all has to start with hiring. Are you hiring people who you trust to make these kinds of decisions? In the absence of hiring the right people, we put rules and policies in place that diminish their energy and often drive our customers kind of nuts…

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Jeanne’s latest book Would You Do That to Your Mother? is available now and offers a personal take on business fundamentals with a uniquely human-first approach. If you’d like to read more, you can download the first chapter of the book by clicking here.

Look out soon for the concluding part of this interview, if you can’t wait till then, why not check out our previous entries to the Icon series below:

Annette Franz

Shep Hyken

Jeremy Watkin

ARA Magazine: Why an investment in staff is an investment in your bottom line

“In 2019 customer experience is a top priority and it’s success begins and ends with one transaction” – Dylan Berrington, Head of TruRating ANZ 

As the retail year begins to warm up, there’s no better time than to make sure you’re getting the fundamentals right.  Dylan Berrington, Head of TruRating Australia and New Zealand spoke to the Australian Retailer Association for the latest issue of “The Retailer” magazine, discussing the relationship between investing in staff and your bottom line.

Download your free copy today and head to p36-7 for the full story.

 

 

Retail Red Flags? The ‘decline’ of physical retail…

For those following the news in commerce, it’s clear that the much-feted ‘death of retail’ has been oversold to say the least.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t some important issues to address in the brick-and-mortar sector, or even retail as a whole, but sooner or later a culture of crisis and concern can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

As retail giants like Sephora, TJX and Ulta defiantly (and visibly) buck the trend of any supposed decline for traditional retail, and the expansion of once perceived ‘online’ upstarts like Casper into the physical space further blurs lines between the online and offline worlds, is there really any point in demarcating retail efforts ‘by channel’ any more?

“Not every customer is like you… retailers need to respect the differences among consumers and their key purchasing drivers across different occasions.”

The smart retailers are beginning to understand that the best customer experiences arise when online and in-store complement each other seamlessly.  Far from the death of ‘traditional’ retail, this hybrid notion of modern commerce is the key driver of much contemporary evolution.

In his recent excellent article for Forbes – The Stores Strike BackSteve Dennis articulates a simple but valuable lesson for those looking to stake their future in one particular realm. “Not every customer is like you…” he writes,”Retailers need to respect the differences among consumers and their key purchasing drivers across different occasions.”

While the collapse of the boring middle, as Dennis has it, is no doubt of concern for those struggling to match the pace of increasingly complex consumer expectations, for those with an ear to the ground, great opportunities are there for the taking.

 

CX Icons: Jeremy Watkin

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR. He has more than 18 years of experience as a customer service, customer experience, and contact center professional. He’s also the co-founder and regular contributor on Customer Service Life. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.

Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

Would you mind telling us a little about how you got started in customer experience? Was it something you’d always been interested in or was it a happy twist of fate?

I grew up in contact centers for SAAS startups speaking with customers and navigating the variety of issues that arise in that sort of environment. Inevitably we’d work through outages, bugs, and challenges with the overall user experience. I found that I truly enjoyed working with the other groups within the organization, whether it be engineering, marketing, or others, to ensure we were effectively listening to our customers and continuously improving our product. In all honesty, I still live in the contact center world and still consider myself a “customer service guy” at heart, but I always find that this work is a natural segue into the overall customer experience.

Did I know I wanted to follow this career trajectory? Not a chance! But I always knew I could work well with people and help solve problems, and customer experience work certainly allows me do that.

Your role involves working frequently with ‘frontline agents’… could you give us a little more insight into what that means on a daily basis, and where it fits into the wider CX puzzle?

I have the privilege of working at an outsourcer which means I get to work with frontline agents for dozens of clients that span a variety of industries. Any time I engage with our frontline agents it’s a learning experience. Given that I also do a lot with quality assurance, I always approach this from a couple different angles. First of all, whether I’m speaking with agents in a round table setting, sitting side by side as they serve customers, or reviewing interactions for quality, I’m first listening for ways we can improve the service we provide. The second angle is that I’m constantly listening for those insights from customers and agents that will help our clients improve their customer experience.

Any time I engage with our frontline agents it’s a learning experience. 

Employee Engagement is a phrase that crops up in conversations these days – how big a part does employee experience play in creating a strong CX culture?

Admittedly, this one took me a little while to figure out but every employee must understand how their work touches customers — whether it’s directly or indirectly. When leaders begin to understand this, they start to see the impact of employee engagement on customer engagement. There are tons of things that impact employee engagement and it’s our job as leaders to eliminate as many of the obstacles as we possibly can.

Do you have any advice for someone who is trying to promote a CX or VOC program in their organization?  Any advice for pitching it to the ‘C-suite’?

In my opinion there’s too much talk about CX and not enough doing. Before we start beating the drum let’s roll up our sleeves and be a part of the solution. This means that whatever your level in your organization, you can start improving the CX right now. If you’re a frontline agent, show up every day ready to make a difference. If you’re a programmer, seek out voice of customer feedback about your product to design the best experience possible. If you’re a manager, start listening to your customers and agents because they are already telling you how to improve. I’m a huge fan of a ground swell in organizations where folks realize that it’s both more fun and it’s better business to collaborate on a better customer experience.

In my opinion there’s too much talk about CX and not enough doing. Before we start beating the drum let’s roll up our sleeves and be a part of the solution.

Many businesses struggle when it comes to ‘actioning’ insights from customers – do you think the smaller details can be just as significant as big ‘initiatives’?

In my world, we’re fairly familiar with customer surveys whether it’s CSAT, NPS, or CES. If you already have that data and are just tracking a score, you’re missing the boat. Take time to review the negative feedback from customers and correlate it back to the specific issue type(s). Once you’ve done that work you can then show the impact to key metrics by fixing certain issues, or adding certain features, or correcting certain frontline agent behaviors. This helps us be a bit more strategic about where we devote resources.

Do you have any advice for someone struggling to prove the ROI of a CX program?  

I’ve been guilty of creating a CX/VOC program that consisted of a catchy title, colorful posters, and not much else. For any initiative to be successful it’s going to require buy in in your organization and it’s always going to require consistency and discipline to ensure that we don’t lose interest and move on to a new flavor next month.

What are the latest trends in ‘Voice of the Customer’ technology that you currently find interesting?

It’s a lot of work to sift through thousands of customer interactions to truly hear the voice of the customer. The combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand what customers are saying with appropriate comprehension and context, and Machine Learning to consistently bucket that feedback to understand key customer insights is incredibly exciting. Whether it’s speech and text analytics or tools that analyze customer survey responses, if they incorporate NLP and Machine Learning they become all the more useful.

At TruRating we strive to provide businesses with feedback that truly represents  the majority of a businesses customers – do you think that VOC programs can be skewed by extremes of opinion, be they overtly negative or positive? 

When reviewing voice of customer feedback it’s so natural to fixate too much on the negative and forget that there’s a lot we’re doing right as a business.  On the other hand, it’s just as easy to lean more toward the positive and dismiss valuable feedback as being unfounded and off base.  Neither approach is helpful and we must instead strive to find a balance.  For example, if your customer satisfaction rating is 95%, be sure to celebrate the fact that you’re doing a great job the vast majority of the time.  But be sure to dig into that other 5% and constantly look for ways to reduce that number through customer experience improvement.

When reviewing voice of customer feedback it’s so natural to fixate too much on the negative and forget that there’s a lot we’re doing right as a business. 

Finally, and we’re being cruel here, what is the one most important reason that businesses should be focusing on CX today?

I’ve more than once reminded some of my close friends in the industry that most businesses don’t focus on CX because it’s the right thing to do in an altruistic sense. Certainly there are organizations that serve a higher purpose, but by and large most organizations are chasing the almighty buck. Thankfully, it’s been proven over and over again that a great CX is great business and will yield great returns. It’s been fascinating to see traditional industries get completely disrupted by this fact. Hopefully you’re a part of a disruptor and not the disrupted.

A HUGE thank you for taking the time to speak to us today! We mentioned it at the top but no harm in doing it once more here, for a regular sprinkling of CX wisdom, do follow Jeremy on Twitter and LinkedIn and make sure to follow the Customer Service Life blog.

Hungry for more CX magic? Check out our previous entries in the series:

Shep Hyken

Annette Franz

 

 

CX Icons: Shep Hyken

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the CAO (Chief Amazement Officer) of Shepard Presentations. As a customer service expert and keynote speaker, Shep works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. In 2008 Shep was inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the professional speaking industry.

We caught-up with Shep shortly after the publication of his latest book The Convenience Revolutionto find out why making life easy for the customer, is where businesses really need to be paying attention in 2019…

Could you tell us a little bit about your new book The Convenience Revolution?

Sure, the subtitle is, how to deliver a customer service experience that disrupts the competition and creates a fierce loyalty.  Somebody asked me, Why do you choose the companies you choose to do business with?  I mean, you love doing business with companies that treat you right and add value beyond just the product that they sell you in the form of the experience… but then I thought about it some more and it struck me, there is another reason I choose to do business with one company over another and that’s how easy they make it for me.

This seemed kind of interesting, so I looked to see if anyone else had written a book on just this subject – ease and convenience – and well, that’s how it all got started.  If I was to ask you, who would you say are the most convenient company on the planet right now?

Off the top of the head, you’d probably have to say Amazon…

Right! Amazon made it just so easy.  There is a reason this company has done well. It is not just innovation, it is innovation that made life more convenient for their customers, and I said, okay, let’s take a look at what companies are disrupting others in their industry, not because they are a better product, but all things being equal, that they deliver a better experience, especially in the form of being convenient.

When I started, gosh, I had several hundred companies that I could have written about, so we narrowed it down to six basic principles of convenience.  Amazon does all six – some just do one and they do it so well that it steals business from others… anyway it struck me that this was something interesting enough to write a book about.

Just as the book was getting into its final form, a major organization came out with a study that says, Convenience: The Currency of the Future.” And I thought – ha – maybe I am on to something after all…

When did CX become the catch-all phrase for things like service, satisfaction and, well, convenience?

Well, over the years ‘experience’ has become the big differentiation point.  When companies used to go for bigger market share they would spend money on advertising and marketing, but then along came social media and the Internet, and review sites, and all of a sudden, people are reviewing companies, not just on the products that they sold but the experience that they had.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had an iPhone or iPad, but when you open it, just the box itself is an experience, and that is part of the packaging and design – experience design –  it makes you think, “wow, I think they made the right decision because this makes me feel real good”.  The rise of digital and the ability to communicate widely allowed for people to start talking about those experiences, not just about the product, and that became a big deal…

Now, when you talk about customer experience, it’s everything related to any interaction you had with a company or with a product and companies are recognizing the importance of not letting a customer down at any of these interaction points.

They are designing the experience for, hopefully, maximum appreciation from their customer.  Whether it be the product, the people over the phone, the intuitiveness and the easiness of using the website, the ability to chat with somebody through instant chat or chat bot… as time progresses, companies are realizing that every time customers interact with them they have an opportunity to enhance that experience.

At TruRating, we’re interested in helping businesses understand their customer experience – which is not always easy.  Apparently 72% of businesses claim that CX is there No. 1 priority – what proportion do you think are getting it right?

Well I mean, if 72% are trying to do it, you have to imagine that at least is 28% are screwing up… that’s number one. Number two, I think that just because you are thinking about it is not good enough at all – you’ve got to take action too.  At the end of the day, the customer is judge and the jury – it’s the customer’s perception of what you are doing that counts. There’s plenty of services out there that will say to a company, “Oh, yeah, we’re working really hard to deliver a better experience. We have done this, that, and the other. We spent this much money,” and then you go to the customer and the customer’s surveyed and guess what, the numbers don’t match up. The customer says, “You know what, I don’t think they’re doing a good job,” yet, the company is investing in this service.

I urge companies to not only look at their closest competitor as far as benchmarking a standard that might be acceptable, but look at some of the other companies that are the rock stars in the business. What is it that Amazon is doing that you are not, that you could do? And who cares if the competitor is not doing it?  If it’s something that makes sense financially and it makes sense to the customer, and it’s going to increase value, perhaps you should be considering it.

Back to the question, how many are doing it right? When you look at different industries, you can tell who the laggards are. I mean, I could take you to five different restaurants five days in a row, and at the end, you will say, “Well, this one was great and this one wasn’t, and then we will go look at all the statistics and the feedback, and guess what, you are probably right, yet all five of them probably think they are doing a good job.

Which is interesting… we recently spoke to Annette Franz, a friend of yours, and she described customer experience as ‘hard work – a journey’ one you have to consistently pay attention to.  What is it about customer experience that makes it so hard to get right?

If somebody who starts a company is passionate about something, they’ve got to hire people that are just as passionate, and it’s easy to do if you only have to hire a few people, but imagine a company that has 35,000 or 50,000 employees, or even more, how do you hire that many people that are passionate?

Annette’s specialty is the journey map – she’s taking customer experience from a design perspective. I look at things a little differently, and by the way, I believe in the design perspective and every company has to do what Annette is doing, but just because you have designed it the right way, doesn’t mean your customers are going to experience it when they interact with people from the company…

Everyone has to pull together, even the person who says, “I don’t ever see the customer. I’ve never seen a customer in my life. I don’t ever talk to them. How can you say I need to be trained customer service or customer experience?”

If the guy in the warehouse that never sees the customer, doesn’t take the right product and put it in the box the right way, if it shows up to the customers doorstep and it’s the wrong product, or something is missing, or something is broken, whose fault was that even though the order was given to that warehouse person properly?

People will make mistakes, but I want people to be intentional about the desire to make things right, not just go on and let it happen because that is the way we are supposed to do it – no, be intentional, be aware, be hyper focused, look for things that might go wrong so you can fix them proactively before the customer experience hits them.

Finally then… if you could point one thing for people just starting off in customer experience to focus on, what would it be? 

Which one thing do you want me to talk about today? I mean, the journey map is really important. Hiring the right people, really important. Training those people properly, really, really important. Creating that vision before you get started with all of it, really, really important – but just doing one of those things – isn’t going to get me the results you want!

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Shep is the “New York Times” and “Wall Street Journal” bestseller of “The Amazement Revolution“, “The Cult of the Customer“, “The Loyal Customer“, “Moments of Magic“, “Amaze Every Customer Every Time” and “Be Amazing or Go Home“.

To get more of his insights head to Hyken.com where you can purchase The Convenience Revolution directly.

Thank you so much Shep for taking the time to speak to us.  For more in our CX Icon series, why not check out our previous interview with Annette Franz.

 

 

TruRating Announces Partnership with TSYS to Provide Savvy Retailers with Smarter Customer Insights

ATLANTA – January 22 2019 — TruRating announced today a partnership with TSYS, a leading global payments provider, offering innovative solutions to issuers, merchants and consumers. TruRating will be available on TSYS’s Genius® Customer Engagement platform, where merchants can select innovative solutions that enhance business operations beyond payments. Genius is the flagship product developed by Boston-based Cayan, which was acquired by TSYS in January 2018.

TruRating provides easy-to-understand insights via an online dashboard and mobile app, and will be the first application on the Genius platform related to customer feedback. Genius, through its Unified Commerce Solution Suite, gives its business customers the unprecedented ability to manage the consumer experience across locations and between channels without ever touching cardholder data.

“Between TSYS’s innovative Genius platform and our in-store and online capabilities, merchants will be able to connect with and learn from their customers more easily than ever before,” said Georgina Nelson, CEO, TruRating. “Our partnership will give businesses the opportunity to access and analyze real customer feedback across channels, giving them the power to make smart and informed decisions.”

TruRating was launched in 2014 by Nelson, a former lawyer who wanted to help businesses get better insights by giving a voice to the “silent majority” of consumers who never give reviews. Using the payment terminal at checkout, paying customers provide a quick response to one rotating question, which produces an industry-leading 88 percent response rate. This validated customer feedback data is fed back to merchants in near real-time.

TSYS provides technology-led acquiring services to more than 800,000 merchants and more than 100 integrated partners in the U.S.  They bring a strong omnichannel presence with a fully integrated, multichannel customer engagement platform, and their flagship Genius platform delivers a seamless and scalable unified commerce experience across channels.

“Merchants have to constantly listen to their customers in order to stay relevant,” said Henry Helgeson, President and EVP, Integrated Solutions, TSYS Merchant Solutions. “Genuine, validated customer feedback provides businesses with the insights they need to stay on top of what their customers want and their purchasing experiences – whether good or bad. TruRating’s solution provides the merchants we work with the opportunity to receive feedback in near real time so they can make the customer shopping experience even better.”

For all businesses using Genius, whether large chains or SMBs, TruRating offers an equal opportunity to access customer experience data on a scale like never before. Business owners can better support their teams, while effortlessly increasing revenue — in some cases up to an eight percent increase within weeks of switching on TruRating.

Following a successful pilot program, TruRating is now live within the Genius ecosystem. To learn more about how TruRating can help your business, visit www.trurating.com/business.

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About TSYS

TSYS® (NYSE: TSS) is a leading global payments provider, offering seamless, secure and innovative solutions across the payments spectrum — for issuers, merchants and consumers. TSYS succeeds because it puts people and their needs at the heart of every decision to help them unlock payment opportunities. It’s an approach TSYS call People-Centered Payments®.

The company headquarters are located in Columbus, Ga., U.S.A., with approximately 13,000 team members and local offices across 13 countries. TSYS generated revenue of $4.9 billion in 2017, while processing more than 27.8 billion transactions. TSYS is a member of The Civic 50 and was named one of the 2018 World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere magazine. TSYS is a member of the S&P 500 and routinely posts all important information on its website. For more, visit tsys.com.

NRF 2019: The best of the rest

As the attendees made their way for one last final after show drink on Tuesday night, it was hard to shake the feeling that this year, NRF was all about the customer.

Keynote after keynote saw retailers of all sizes, emphasizing a consistent message: in times of rapid change the key to future success is bound to your ability to know and understand the needs of your customer base.

While customer-centricity may have sounded the biggest note of the event, over the course of a jam-packed three days we heard about subjects as varied as the ‘millennial challenge’, the need for innovation in the physical environment, and a strong call for diversity among the business community, making the show – as ever – a fascinating one to attend.

As we say goodbye the Big Show for another year, we present to you our best of the rest of NRF 2019:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek 

The ever-popular Simon Sinek offered an interesting take on what it means to be a customer-centric business in 2019.  By positioning brand integrity as the ultimate motivation for consumer buy-in, Sinek provides a neat sound-bite to capture the mind-set of the increasingly conscientious consumer.  After all what we choose not to buy, says just as much about us as what we do.

If you’re going to exist in a physical space, you want to have something else no one will have.” – Kara Swisher 

In a bold opening to Monday morning, Recode’s Kara Swisher made a passionate demand for innovation in the physical space – literally predicting the downfall of physical retail as we know it without it.  While this claim may have raised eyebrows, her position on the necessity of having a total view of the customer, rang strong and true, “You need to completely understand the consumer and have a data relationship with the consumer – if you don’t you will have trouble surviving.”

It’s a fact that companies with more diversity have stronger, better results” Mindy Grossman, President and CEO WW International

A new feature at NRF this year that really hit home was The Female Quotient sponsored Girls’ Lounge. Host to a series of fascinating conversations celebrating the need for diversity in modern business culture, Mindy Grossman put forward as strong a case as any arguing why, if your business sidelines diversity as mere tick-box measure, you’re ‘essentially de-prioritizing long-term success’.

Start with the consumer in every decision.  Invest in yourselves. Reinvest in stores, tech, fulfillment and your teams. Disrupt yourselves.” – Brian Cornell, Target.

While we touched on Cornell’s superlative keynote in our mid-way round up, we’d be remiss not to come back to his 4-point recipe for success, one of the most shared highlights of NRF.  Cornell demonstrates how every step of Target’s successful turn around was grounded in these four fundamentals, reflecting a key understanding: every improvement you invest in has to be for the good of the customer experience.

“We don’t just need to do less harm, we need to seek to do more good” – Rose Marcario, CEO Patagonia

In another inspiring example of a retailer ready to stand up for the conviction of their beliefs, Patagonia’s Rose Marcario demonstrated how actively aligning your brand values with those of your consumers can be more than a mere ‘strategy’ for customer success in 2019. With 3% of all funding dedicated to environmental NGO’s, Patagonia has built its reputation as a challenger brand whose consumers aren’t simply fans of the product, but loyal advocates philosophically aligned to Patagonia’s core beliefs.  Proving once again that real CX extends far beyond the mere transactional level.

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If you were at NRF yourself, we hope you enjoyed a fantastic few days in the Big Apple. It was a tremendous show for Team Tru, and we’d like to thank each and every one of our incredible partners for making it such a huge success.

Till next year, goodbye NRF!

 

NRF 2019 – 5 key takeaways

The National Retail Federation’s ‘Big Show’ is always a show-stopper of an event and this year is no exception.  With over 30,000 delegates descending on New York’s Javits Centre over the course of its 3 days, the event is a major showcase for the retail tech trends of the year ahead – if it’s not being discussed at NRF, it’s probably not worth knowing about.

With so many incredible speakers packed into the lineup, it’s hard to know where to jump in.  To help you along the way, we’ve picked out the highlights from our favorite sessions so far.

  1. “Millennials don’t have a low attention span, they just have a higher sensitivity to things which are boring” – Doug Stephens, The Retail Prophet

When it comes to getting to the quick of the modern retail landscape, you can bet on Doug Stephens to deliver the goods.  On the first day of NRF, Doug gave a valuable lesson to any retailer thinking about blaming the millennial attention span for their own failings.  Millennials have been big news at NRF, but it’s clear that many retailers feel uncertain how to engage them.  With a combined buying power of ‘over $200 Billion for Millenials and Gen Z’ (thanks @AliciaTillman) – it’s clear that getting this market right is going to be a critical concern for retailers for some time.

  1. Start with the consumer in every decision” – Brian Cornell, CEO, Target

Speaking to a packed room, Brian Cornell CEO and Board Chairman of Target delivered a brilliant opening to Day 2.  With a strong customer-centric philosophy, Cornell made a passionate case for the importance of Target’s physical estate, explaining how much of the success of its digital business has been down to the fulfillment capabilities provided by their traditional bricks and mortar locations.  An impressive case study for how digital and off-line can be mutually beneficial when done right.

  1. “Amazon aren’t killing retail, they’re killing mediocre retail.”  Natalie Berg, Retail Analyst and NRK Founder

As co-author (with Miya Knights) of the recently published book Amazon, Natalie Berg certainly knows a thing or two about the company still considered by many to be tradition retail’s biggest threat.  In a fantastic discussion, Berg presented a clear-headed picture of the challenges faced by retailers today, and delivered some sober truths.  For Berg, it is clear that the retailers are who are willing to evolve and adapt will come out on top, while for those who choose to ignore the lessons of the convenience economy “the harsh reality is more doom and gloom, but not a retail apocalypse.”

  1. Focusing on the customer and their experience is absolutely table stakes… that’s where we’re putting our energy.” John Douglas, CTO, Tory Burch

As the CTO of luxury fashion brand Tory Burch, John Douglas (previously CTO at Burberry) is used to customers with high expectations.  In a world of ever-increasing competition, Douglas put forward a strong argument for the necessity of an exceptional Customer Experience.  Philanthropy lies at the heart of the Tory Burch model, and Douglas reminded us that Customer Experience (or CX) can be more than about just product: “the world is a better place if we have big ambitions for ourselves and others.”  The combination of excellent service with strong brand values has given Tory Burch a unique position in a difficult marketplace.

5. “We’re on a journey not to be a good company, but a great company.” Marvin Ellison, CEO Lowes. 

Closing out Day 2, Mavin Ellison of Lowes delivered a fantastic key note on ‘Fortunes in the Fundamentals’.  Ellison delivered a strong statement of intent for Lowes, and echoing a familiar sentiment, made an impassioned case for setting greatness as your goal, and not just settling for good enough.  An inspiring end to a packed day.

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We’ll be back with our final round up once Day 3 is all wrapped up, but in the meantime, enjoy the last few hours of Retail’s Big Show!

Intelligent Customer Feedback for Retailers via new GK Software and TruRating Partnership

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ATLANTA – January 9, 2019 — TruRating, customer experience experts specializing in retail and hospitality insights, and GK Software USA, a leading provider of software solutions to the retail, grocery and hospitality industries, announced today that they will be working together to bring even more value to GK Software customers.

TruRating’s original point-of-payment customer feedback software will integrate with GK’s platform to provide retailers the ability to ask each customer one question at check out. Rotated with every transaction, the questions cover a range of elements relating to the in-store experience. The simplicity of the solution means that an average of 88% of customers are happy to respond – an unheard-of response rate in the world of customer surveys and CX platforms. In addition, the integration will soon deliver a new, AI-driven opportunity to retailers – the ability to trigger different, specific questions based on customer actions, such as the brands or types of products purchased or use of a loyalty card.

“The possibilities of Dynamic Questions are vast, and we’re delighted to be showcasing it with GK Software at NRF,” said Georgina Nelson, TruRating CEO. “Their leadership and experience in the field of retail software, AI, and in-store solutions is renowned, which makes them an ideal partner for us to bring retailers access to never-before possible customer experience insights.”

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TruRating was launched by Nelson in 2014 to help merchants better understand the ‘silent majority’ of customers who don’t leave feedback. “It’s more important than ever to understand what your customers want, particularly in the retail, grocery and hospitality industries” said Todd Barstow, Vice President of Sales for GK Software. “We strive to deliver our clients the latest in cutting-edge solutions, and our partnership with TruRating means we can provide a further advantage – the ability to better engage with and understand their customers.”

Visit the GK Software booth number 3267 at NRF to see TruRating’s Intelligent Questions demo in action.

To learn more about how TruRating can help your business, visit www.trurating.com/business.

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About GK Software USA:

GK Software USA is a division of GK Software SE, one of the world’s leading developers and providers of omni-channel software for the retail, grocery and hospitality industries. GK Software breaks down the barriers to unified commerce through a single, global software platform that includes its OmniPOS solution for point of sale, mobile POS, mobile customer engagement, TransAction+ payments and a full range of store/back-office solutions – which is why 10 of the Top 50 retailers worldwide rely on GK Software. The company serves hundreds of customers in North America, representing more than 40,000 locations, both directly and with its partners. GK Software is headquartered in Germany, with U.S. headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.gk-software.com.

Profile Pages: a fresh new look for 2019

If you’re a TruRating customer already, you’ll be aware that our business profile pages recently underwent a rather spectacular overhaul.

To celebrate go-live, we take a quick run through the main features and benefits of the new pages and take a look at why you should be excited about what your new profile page can do for your business.

What, where, why?

TruRating profile pages are designed to provide the ultimate showcase for your business online.  Easy to setup and customize, your profile page provides the perfect place to display your ratings data in a clear and easy way for your customers.

The advantages of having a profile page are wide and varied, but at a top level they will enable you to:

  • Reach customers through an innovative new channel
  • Build brand awareness and boost your social proof
  • Improve online visibility with in-store ratings that feed search

As a one-stop shop for ratings, reviews and store information, profile pages will help to engage your existing customers, while providing a boost in visibility to attract new ones too!

Business Benefits 

Whether you’re an independent coffee shop or a large established brand, the business benefits of setting up profile pages are immediate.

In addition to providing a free channel to boost your online visibility, every rating shown on your profile page is secure and payment validated.  This means consumers can really trust what they see on TruRating profile pages, providing a new measure of social proof to help drive new footfall to your stores.

And the truly ground-breaking part? The ratings you take in your physical store are digitized and fed online to feed search engines. This constant source of fresh data will help boost your SEO rankings, the more ratings you collect, the better a boost you get!

Here are a selection of the additional benefits of your new profile pages for your business:

  • Showcase ratings via a trusted channel
  • Increased social media and website traffic
  • Visibility and customer confidence
  • Up-to-date performance metrics

What do they look like? 

For a quick peak at the wonderful new designs, check out the snapshot below:

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If you want to get your hands on the real thing however, why not try one of the links to active profile pages for some our existing TruRating customers.

Blacks Holborn

Ping Pong Covent Garden

Get in touch today for help!

If you’d like some help in setting up your own profile page, the TruRating team would be delighted to help!

Just head over to our Contact Us page to get the relevant contact information for your location, or reach out to your TruRating account manager directly!

Intelligent Questions – the future of feedback

In the run up to retail’s big show – NRF in case you needed to be reminded – we take a look at the impact of TruRating’s intelligent question logic on the world of customer feedback for our friends at Accuvia.

“Whether testing new brands, investigating customer sentiment towards your loyalty program, or rearranging your merchandise… Intelligent Questions allow for an extremely targeted approach to customer surveying, ensuring that every question you ask is provides the maximum amount of insight.”

Read the full piece to learn why we’re calling it the future of customer intelligence:

https://www.accuvia.com/single-post/2018/12/30/The-Future-of-Customer-Intelligence

 

 

CX Icons: Annette Franz

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be speaking to a variety of experts in the field and there is no better way to start than with Annette Franz, Founder and CEO, CX Journey Inc. and the undisputed queen of customer journey mapping – a CX Icon if there ever was one!

With over 25 years of experience in the field, Annette is regularly recognized by companies around the world as a top influencer in Customer Experience, one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Tech Women on Twitter”, as well as being an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council.

Annette was kind enough to give up some of her valuable time to the TruRating team recently, to give us her insights on the state of customer experience today.

Hi Annette – thanks so much for speaking to us today!

Thanks for interviewing me for your blog! I’m always happy to talk about customer experience and its importance to the business.

Why is it important to focus on customer experience and what are the benefits of doing so?

Let me first take a step back and define customer experience and explain why it’s so important for companies to focus on the customer.

In its simplest definition, customer experience is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with a company over the course of the relationship and, importantly, the customer’s feelings, emotions, and perceptions of the brand during the course of those interactions.

The purpose of a business is to create and to nurture a customer. When companies focus on the customer and her experience rather than on maximizing shareholder value, magical things happen. The return on investment (ROI) is great, for all constituents.

Customer experience consultancy Watermark Consulting has been tracking the ROI of customer experience vis a vis the S&P 500 for the years, and their findings every year had been strong and compelling. They take a look at the top 10 publicly-traded Customer Experience Leaders and the bottom 10 publicly-traded Customer Experience Laggards from Forrester Research’s Customer Experience Index research and compare their performance on the S&P 500.

  • Leaders outperform the market with a return that’s 35 points higher than the S&P 500.
  • Laggards trailed, with a return that’s 45 points lower than that of the broader market.

Why customer experience? Well, as Sam Walton said, there’s only one boss, and it’s the customer. She pays your bills! In this world where products and services are becoming more and more commoditized every day, customer experience is really the one true differentiator. We know that customers are willing to pay more for a better experience, so price can no longer be that differentiator.

There are benefits and desirable outcomes for the business and for the customer. When businesses focus on the customer experience, they see…

  • A reduction in churn and increase in customer retention
  • Stronger customer relationships
  • A reduction in sales cycles
  • Process improvements, efficiencies
  • Innovation: innovative products and experience
  • Culture changes that support a customer-centric culture and beyond
  • Greater shareholder returns

Customers benefit by…

  • Receiving the value they expect (or more)
  • Being the beneficiaries of innovation
  • Having a better experience
  • Achieving the jobs they’re trying to do
  • And doing so with less effort
  • Experiencing less frustration
  • Feeling like the business cares about them

Who should own customer experience in an organization?

I know people like to say that everyone owns customer experience, but that’s not really true. Yes, everyone must be engaged and rowing in the same direction and working toward delivering a consistent experience across the board. Employees must be bought in, committed, and doing the work to deliver the experience customers desire. I don’t dispute that. But if I’m going to be pedantic and talk about ownership, ultimately, it’s the CEO.

I think what most people mean when they ask this question is really: Who champions the customer experience in an organization? Who herds the cats and evangelizes for the cause? Who is the head change agent, guiding and coercing executives and employees through their resistance to change? (I made that sound pretty attractive, didn’t I?!) That person typically holds the title of Chief Customer Officer or VP of Customer Experience or some variation of that. The individual may also be (or have been) the CMO, CIO, COO, or even CRO and, potentially, has no previous knowledge of how to develop a customer experience strategy.

Ultimately, this “ownership” or “championship” should reside with an individual who reports directly to the CEO. Oh, and one more thing. This individual will need to partner with the head of HR. Employee experience and customer experience go hand in hand. These two individuals must become solid partners in this journey.

What does the future of #CX look like?

It’s really difficult to answer this question when so many companies are still struggling with what customer experience is and what it looks like today. But here are my thoughts on what the future looks like, given the well-informed and connected customer, advances in technology, and the massive amounts of data that companies collect about their customers: the experience needs to be personalized, simplified, relevant, and consistent.

How can a tool like TruRating help companies to improve their CX?

I’ve been talking a lot lately about putting the “customer” into customer experience. There are three ways to do that: (1) through listening (e.g., via surveys or other listening posts), (2) characterizing (e.g., creating customer design personas), and (3) empathizing (e.g., walking in customers’ shoes via journey mapping).  Of course, once you’ve learned make sure to do something with the insights.

Any improvements must be grounded in data, insights, and customer understanding.

Feedback platforms like TruRating offer companies a tool to listen, glean actionable insights, and identify what needs to be improved (or what they need to keep doing) to deliver a great experience.

What’s your message to companies that are falling behind? 

It’s all about the customer. It’s why you’re in business. Because of customers. Without them, you have no business. If you want to differentiate your business, focus on the experience you deliver for your customers.

Get started. Today. It’s not too late to understand your customers and the experience they’re having – and then design a better experience.

And finally, you need to focus on employees and their experience. They’re the ones who deliver the experience. If they’re not having a great experience, neither will your customers. Start here.

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To hear more from Annette and to learn about her work head to the CX Journey website or check out her recent contributions for Forbes here.  And make sure to follow Annette on Twitter for a daily dose of CX expertise.

Fore more from TruRating, check our previous posts in the customer experience series:

 

 

Charity Spotlight: Learning Links

Next up in our spotlight series we take a trip down under to Australia to hear from one of our charity partners, Learning Links and the incredible work they do for kids with learning difficulties. We will also hear from one of our very own members of TeamTru who just recently completed a volunteer programme with the charity.

Who are Learning Links?

Learning Links is a not for profit organisation which was established in 1972 by parents concerned about the lack of appropriate education and support services to meet their children’s needs.  Today the charity’s mission is to provide children and young people who have difficulties learning with the skills, services and family support that will enable them to realize their potential.

Learning Links

What do they do?

Learning Links works in collaboration with schools, early childhood settings and parents to help children with learning disabilities and difficulties. These include conditions such as ADHD and high functioning Autism to speech and language delays. Around 5 – 15% of children in Australia have learning difficulties but, a diagnosis of a learning disability and difficulty does not entitle a child or family to financial assistance. When we consider 17.7% of children in Australia or 603,000 live in households in poverty it makes the work Learning Links does even more critically important as there is a strong correlation between learning disabilities and financial disadvantage.

The children are often anxious, have trouble communicating and interacting with others, and many have behavioural issues. In the later years they are often challenged in literacy, numeracy and impacting on their ability to complete education and participate in the community.

Early intervention for young children who experience developmental delays is critical to mitigate the risk of poor educational outcomes later in life. Learning Links is recognized as a pioneer in the area of inclusive early childhood education.

How are the Learning Links programs delivered?

Learning Links 2

Learning Links has 6 programs altogether, 4 of which are delivered by qualified educational professionals and two which are volunteer programs ‘Reading for Life’ and ‘Counting for Life.’ We’re very proud to announce one of our TeamTru members just completed the ‘Counting for Life’ volunteer program and wanted to tell us a bit about her experience but first…

What is ‘Counting for Life?’ 

The is a numeracy program for children who are 8 – 10 years old who are falling behind in maths.  This volunteer run program provides one-on-one weekly support for 10 weeks to children and is proven to increase children’s numeracy skills.

Cara from our Marketing department in our Sydney office completed the program and had this to say about her experience.

“Volunteering with Learning Links was a really enjoyable experience from start to finish.  Every Wednesday I would go to the school for 45 minutes and work with Sarah* who was my designated ‘Buddy’ and deliver the program. The program is delivered in a semi-structured way with lots of games, so it didn’t really feel like we were learning maths skills since we were often laughing and having so much fun! However, across the 10 weeks I was so pleased to see the huge improvements in Sarah’s math skills and how her confidence grew week by week.”

“I recently just met with Kate from Learning Links who delivered the results on the group in the school who went through the program and I was truly humbled by the impact myself and other volunteers had made. Some kids progressed by 2 – 4 years in skills such as addition and subtraction. I would highly recommend any take part in this programme and I hope to volunteer again next year!’

We heard from a volunteer but what did the children say after the program!

“Maths is much easier, it has made me more confident.”

“It has helped me because I used to get worried and now, I feel fine.”

“It makes me feel a little bit smart.”

Learning Links_TruRating2

We are so proud to sponsor a charity like Learning Links who are making huge changes for the better in children’s lives.

If you would like to donate to Learning Links and support them and the wonderful work they do please visit: https://www.learninglinks.org.au/get-involved/donate-now/

*Child’s name was changed for anonymity.

Charity Spotlight: Smile Train

It’s the holiday season and in the spirit of celebrating the things that really matter, over the next few weeks we’re going to be shining a light on the incredible work of some of our partner charities across the world.

To kick things off, we spoke to the lovely Beth Angella, who works in the fundraising team at Smile Train’s UK HQ, to find out a little bit more about the fantastic work the charity does to help children across the world.

Who are Smile Train and what do they do? 

Smile Train empowers local medical professionals with training, funding, and resources to provide free cleft surgery and comprehensive cleft care to children globally. We advance a sustainable solution and scalable global health model for cleft treatment, drastically improving children’s lives, including their ability to eat, breathe, speak, and ultimately thrive.

How did it all start? 

Smile Train was founded in 1999 by Charles Wang. Since then, Smile Train has grown into the world’s leading cleft charity, helping over 1,000,000 children with clefts, supporting training for thousands of medical professionals and establishing hundreds of programmes in over 85 countries.

Charles was the driving force behind Smile Train and the reason why so many deserving children continue to receive the care they so desperately need.  His unwavering passion, commitment, and dedication to children with clefts was unmatched. Sadly, Charles passed away in October 2018, however his legacy will live on forever in the smiles of the faces of the children Smile Train helps.

How is the partnership with TruRating going?

Since partnering with us, TruRating has donated funds to help transform the lives of over 25 children around the world. More recently TruRating’s employees are becoming more and more involved in fundraising for our work, for example running the Santa Run where the team hope to fund a further 10 smiles!

To donate to the cause this year, check out the team’s Just Giving page, anything you can spare is very much appreciated!

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The crowd gets ready for action at last year’s Santa Run

Any event we should mark on the calendar?

Yes – World Smile Day! This is celebrated annually on the first Friday in October. It is the day we celebrate everyone’s right to smile and raise even more funds to ensure no baby or child born with a cleft lip and/or palate is denied this right. There are so many fantastic ways to get involved – sign up to one of our fundraising challenges, host a bake sale or trivia night or simply raise awareness by sharing one of our amazing patient stories with your friends, family and colleagues.

We also celebrate Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention month every July – this gives us the chance to boost our educational and fundraising efforts to make sure everyone all over the world understands cleft and knows how they can support those who need help.

How can we follow your amazing work and how can people support it?

Keep up to date by checking out our amazing fundraising and patient stories and by checking out our social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.

For a more in-depth story about some of the work we do, you can read through the heart warming tale of a father looking for a miracle in Myanmar. 

Any last messages for us or our followers?

Thank you to TruRating for helping to change the world one smile at a time!

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A huge thanks to Beth for taking the time to speak to us, and to everyone at Smile Train for the unbelievable work they do every single day.  If you’d like to learn more about becoming a supporter of the charity, head over to the Smile Train website.

TruRating is partnered with 11 amazing charities across the world. If you’d like to learn more about the TruCharity program in your region, why not check out the Charity section of our website.