Earlier in my career I spent eight years in the Royal Navy; Four years studying electronic engineering and four years in the fleet on operational warships in the Middle East. I was a Weapons Engineering Artificer, with responsibility for the electronic systems that made particular on-board weapon systems, like Exocet, functional. I was still young, I loved what I did, and I was a trusted member of a wider team with an important role to play.
During my time in the Royal Navy I was also fortunate enough to play rugby and represent both the combined services colts and the Royal Navy 1st XV. I'm recalling all of this personal history because I saw an interesting video about rugby and leadership and shared it recently on LinkedIn. The message in the video really connected with my own experience of being a member of some great teams.
Sir Ian McGeechan - the Scottish former rugby union player better known as 'Geech' - was filmed speaking to the 2013 British and Irish Lions squad. He said: "Every Lions tour is unique, because it's different. Actually what it does is it reflects you, your character, your personality. That's why I think the Lions jersey is so personal. To me, that's the uniqueness of being a Lion. You have to say 'everything I've got, I am prepared to put into that jersey.' And what you get is a power and a will that actually defines you. The greatest players that have ever played our game wore that jersey."
That's a powerful team talk. Imagine hearing that from a legend of the game the day before you have to wear the same jersey that he once wore. Imagine the power of that attitude and mindset applied to every day at work. I know that not everyone is part of an important sports team or participating in a Navy mission, but this spirit of teamwork can be applied to work - no matter what you do.
Leap forwards now, by a few decades, and my role at TTEC today is managing our partnerships and strategic alliances for the EMEA region. Partnerships have been talked about in this industry for years, but they were rarely ever little more than vendor and reseller relationships. This position has now entirely changed, and as advancements in technology drive transformation, true partner and alliance ecosystems are critical to deliver real change. The spirit of the rugby team has to apply to anyone designing a customer experience (CX) process or solution today...each individual having a role to play, but the 'whole' being much greater than the sum of the parts.
Why do I feel this way? Take a look at something the TTEC EMEA director for human capital, Emma Crowe, wrote in The HR Director last year. Emma's article suggests that working in and around contact centres is one of the most exciting places to be in the 2020s - in contrast to how most business journals represent a career in customer service.
Emma listed some of the skills and expertise needed to make a modern customer service process work... cloud, data security, regulatory compliance, Internet of Things, automation, chatbots, integration to smart tools like Alexa and Siri, biometrics, dozens of different customer languages, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, sales, marketing, work from home systems...
The list could go on, but here is my point. Designing a modern customer service solution is no longer about building a contact centre and figuring out how many calls you need to answer each day. Now when we talk to a client the conversation is all about how to bring the customer closer, how to build a better relationship that will improve over many years. How can we transform customer service?
This needs great people and training - the human element remains vital in this industry, but there is also a wide array of technology and expertise in all these areas that Emma mentioned.
That's where I step in. I'm fortunate to be working with some of the world's leading software vendors and technology companies that help us to build complete solutions that best fit what our client's need to deliver real transformation. Building great CX today needs the orchestration of many skills, services and tools into a complete solution.
I compare it to building a winning team. Each tool and component of the solution plays a role in delivering a great experience when customers interact with a brand. A rugby team would be useless if you had 15 full backs, but when each team member has complementary skills and experience then the power of the team can be unstoppable - just as Geech described in his team talk.
CX in the 2020s needs wide reaching partnerships. It needs solutions that are like a team, assembled from all the best players. Modern CX needs alliances and teamwork to succeed.
Let me know what you think about building teams and partnerships. Get in touch via my LinkedIn.