Quick 6 With Ian Golding, Shop Direct Group

In this feature on the Customer Experience Matters blog, we ask 6 questions of different customer experience leaders.

  • Name: Ian Golding
  • Title: Head of Group Customer Experience
  • Company: Shop Direct Group (the UK’s 3rd largest online retailer)
  • Length of time on the job: 6 years
  • Previous position: Lean Six Sigma Deployment Leader

1. What do you most like about your role?

The ability to influence and enthuse the whole organisation behind a cause that they can all relate to. There are not many roles where you are able to be evangelistic!! At the end of the day we are all customers – and in our case, all customers of our own organisation – I am in a privileged position to help our people really make a difference for ourselves, our customers and our shareholders

2. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

There are many things I can point to, but the number one is the creation of our Customer 1st Aid programme. In 2007 I suggested creating a closed loop customer experience issue resolution process – enabling all 10,000 employees to identify issues detrimental to the customer experience and feed them in to a centrally controlled resolution process. Customer 1st Aid enables every one of our colleagues to actually make a difference in improving the customer experience. Despite significant skepticism from our senior leaders (along the lines of – we do not want to know what all the problems are; how can we possible manage to fix any of them; it is too complicated; etc..) Customer 1st Aid has been one of the most significant stepping stones to transforming our organisation in one that continuously thinks about the things that we are not doing so well for our customers. This led to us winning a UK Customer Experience award in 2010 for the programme!

3. What has been the most surprising challenge?

Without question the biggest surprise to me has been the continuous debate around ownership of the customer experience. It is actually no longer a surprise to me that this is an issue as many other organisations have explained similar issues. In my 6 years in the organisation the experience has been ‘owned’ by our Chairman, Group HR Director, Chief Operating Officer and two different Sales & Marketing Directors!!! Not only does this highlight issues with organisational culture, as an influencer, you have the challenge of almost having to start from the beginning every time ownership changes – despite this, I am immensely proud that the evolution of our customer experience strategy is where it is – however, with more consistent leadership, it is possible we could be even further forward.

4. How would you describe where your company is on its customer experience journey?

I would describe us being 30% of the way there! For the first time in our organisations history (we are over 100 years old!!) customer experience is explicitly part of our business strategy – this is a real pinch yourself moment for a customer experience professional. After 6 years of sweat, blood and some tears, the business recognises the need to embed customer experience into our strategic decision making. This has led to the development of our customer experience strategic framework, held up by a simple vision that the whole organisation can get behind. However, this does not necessarily mean the culture and behaviour of the organisation has changed – it has a little, but there is a lot more that needs to happen here.

5. What initiatives are you currently most excited about?

We have a number of significant ‘fixes’ to our customer journey planned and scheduled – these fixes are as a result of 12 months work in responding directly to our VOC programme – it is also the first time that our executive board have committed to investing in fixing significant customer service issues – addressing them should see a real step change in the way our customers perceive our business.

6. What advice do you have for someone who is about to take on a similar role?

Patience, Persistence, Belief!! The three words I keep saying in my head every single day. You cannot change an organisation overnight; you cannot change an organisation by yourself. Turning around a business that was not designed with customer experience as its major reason for being is very often a lonely and depressing thing – build a strong network of customer experience professionals from a variety of industries – speaking to them regularly will ensure that you know you are not alone – as well as giving you great ideas you take to your own company. Membership of the CXPA is a great way of achieving this as well as getting credibility for your efforts.

Extra credit question: What would people be surprised to find out about you?

Not sure if it is surprising, but I am currently going through the classic male mid life crisis. Having never run anywhere in my life (except to catch a bus!), I have completed 16 half marathons in the last three years. I am not quite sure what happened, but I started running one day and now cannot stop!! A little like Forest Gump I suppose. I often feel that running long distance is a great analogy for being a customer experience professional – it starts out as a great challenge, starts to feel terrible half way through, but the euphoric feeling you get at the finish line is like no other!!

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

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