The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 2 weeks ago

211. Landing Your First Customer Experience Role w/ Jason Champion


While it may seem simple, member and employee experience is a difficult prospect to manage. There are many personalities, wants and needs to balance.  

By taking the time to spend time with people to hear them, understand their perspectives and walk the journey of finding their needs, you build a roadmap of creating a culture that translates to satisfied employees who connect with satisfied members.  

Hear our conversation with Jason Champion, Director of Member Experience at NRTC:

  • Why using employee Enneagrams will change the way leaders communicate
  • How Jason fell into working in customer experience from sales
  • What NRTC did to revolutionize member experience during COVID
  • Where to focus on employee and member experience    

More information about Jason Champion and today’s topics:

Subscribe, listen, and rate/review the Customer Experience Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, or Google Podcasts, and find more episodes on our blog.

The single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internal alignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. How do you actually land a role in customer experience if you don't quite have the experience? Why and where do you start once you land? One? Today's guests spent twenty years as a sales professional before transitioning into a c x role director of member experience at N RTC. Well, here is unique story today, including working within the cooperative or co OP business model, using the Angiogram to better understand and work with others, implementing video to improve connection and communication and using the voice of the customer to improve their experience. He was a listener to this podcast before he became a guest. Jason Champion, welcome to the customer experience podcast, Ethan Man. It's so good to be here. It's a privilege. Thank you. Yeah, really excited about it. You and I had an initial conversation just to get to know each other and the story that I just introduced in the introduction. I was like we need to bring this out because I think it's something a lot of people wonder about and and it's so interesting how this process came about. But before we get into that arc of from sales practice, sales contributor and sales leader to member experience director, let's start with your definition or thoughts of customer experience. When I say that, what does it mean to you, Jason? You know as you as you said in the Intro, I'm a listener to the podcast big, big Fan Um and so I've heard a lot of people answer it in a variety of ways, but for me it's everything. I mean the customer experience is everything. It's every touch point that you know, in my world we call our customers members, but it's every touch point that our customer, I remember, has with our brand within our TC and that's from our member facing sales teams to accounting to operations and project management. Every touch point becomes customer experience. But it's not just about the transaction. It's truly about how the member, how the customer, feels about that transaction and ultimately about the brand. It's everything. How when did this kind of come onto your radar? And you know, again I don't want to get too far ahead, but when did you start thinking about things in terms of customer experience? You know, you mentioned the Angiogram and just knowing myself the way that I do, I think even on a subconscious level, it's always been about the customer experience from me. But the language, the customer experience language, candidly, is fairly new within the past year and a half, maybe two years, that I really just start articulating it that way and talking specifically about it. But even when I was in an individual contributor, a sales role, um it was always about the customer experience. For me, that's how I did my job as a sales guy. It was I felt like if I could, if I could provide the best customer experience, not only would I get that contract signed or get that deal done, but they would remain, remain a customer and we would get the renewal and they would stick around and, you know, and and become more sticky, if you will, and the relationship. So it's always been about customer experience, but me using that language is fairly new frankly cool. I want to go one layer deeper there before we kind of get into N RTC and the CO OP model a little bit, because they think that's interesting in and of itself and will help people think differently about the way they're helping their customers and, more importantly, their customers customers. But, um, staying with this idea of I knew that if I created a great experience, not only would I get the deal done. But something that's been interesting is a background theme on the show is and I'd love to hear your experiences. With two decades of sales experience, what role do you think human to human interaction and the direct kind of personal aspect of the relationship plays? I mean, we all know that the terms need to be right, the duration of a contract needs to be right, the price needs to be right, the features, benefits, whatever, they all need to be there. But how much would you observe? Is Your personality, your expertise, your enthusiasm, kind of just that the inner personal part of the Sales Role? How much of that does that affect the sales outcome and perhaps the quality and depth of the of the ultimate customer relationship? Yeah, I think you know when when I was in that sales role, I set the tone for the rest of my customers engagement with my organization. And so, you know, it was important that I represented not just the terms and the product and the pricing, but the culture or of my...

...organization, and the cultural matchup needs to be there for it to be the right relationship. And we so you know, particularly in the cooperative world that I'm now in and have been for a number of years, it's really all about that culture. But I start that I represent that culture. So for me early on in my sales career it was about how do I find a pace, a tempo, a cadence that I can work in that I can maintain long term in terms of my engagement with my customers. Um, you know, the promises that I make to my customers, my ability to keep those promises and being mindful about making promises on behalf of other people within my company, say project management and that sort of thing. Once the the opportunity goes from signed contract into project management and onboarding of various services or products, when it's out of my control, how do I set that customer relationship up so that it remains consistent all the way through the process. So the interpersonal piece of it, I think, is is really key and it doesn't, in my opinion, doesn't matter what you're selling or to whom you're selling. It's really all about that. People very rarely by anything from someone they don't trust, and they almost are. They are almost always more likely to buy from somebody that they actually like. It's one thing to trust them, but is there is their camaradity? Do we have chemistry? Right? Do We? Do we work well together? Is there? Do we communicate well? which is why, especially in my business, is cooperative world. When people talk about the good old boy network, they're actually thinking about the cooperative world. They may not know that, but it is very much a good old boy network and there's an expectation of sells people and account managers getting out, getting on the road and sitting down with our members, with our customers, driving out or flying out to rule America and sitting down and you may spend an hour with the customer and you might talk about business for ten minutes. Right. The rest of it is, how's your mom and them? Right, I'm a southerner, so how's your mom and them? Or talking and tell me about the kids, what happened last weekend. I saw your facebook post, you know those kinds of it's very much about that connection and and once you earn that trust, then you're in, but it takes a while to do that. Yeah, I really like that a lot. This idea of sales professional as the first human embodiment of the culture and the way that that interaction goes in the amount of trust and likeness, like or appreciation that that is experienced there, I feel like, colors and casts and creates expectations around all the non human elements as well. Really good. So you've kind of talked about it a little bit, so let's go straight at it. Break it down for us. Tell us a little bit about NRTC and the cooperative business model in particular, and uh, and and also maybe pay special attention to the difference between selling and operating in a cooperative model versus some of your prior experiences. Yeah, so in OURTC is the national rule telecommunications cooperative. Um. So we are a CO OP. We serve cooperative cooperatives in rule America, Um, and what I mean by that are both electric cooperatives and telephone cooperative. So most of the time. If you're not in the cooperative world, when somebody said telephone company, you think verizon, you think a t and t or maybe a comcast. We're talking kind of a different level of telephone provider or telecommunications provider. Most people know of electric cooperatives. There's a good chance, if you're if you pay for your electricity, that you write a check or you have your your card on file with your electric company. There's a good chance that it is an electric cooperative. And the cooperative cooperative actually just means that if you're a cooperative company like in OURTC, we are a for profit company, but it just simply means that once our expenses are covered and the additional revenue at the end, at the end of the year gets distributed out to our membership through what's typically referred to as patronage or capital credits. And so if you're a subscriber to an electric cooperative, your electricity comes from electric cooperative, you probably if you look at your bill at the end of the at the month, you see a line that says capital credits and it might be a dollar twenty right. It's probably not a lot of money, but that's what you're getting back as being a member. Frankly, one of the owners of the cooperative cooperatives are owned by the membership, which is certainly true for NRTC. We are owned by roughly undred electric and telephone cooperatives, uh, in forty sty eight in the fifty states. Uh, and we serve those same uh, those same organizations. So it puts us in a unique position where we are owned by the same folks that we serve. So it's it's unique in that regard. So I assume then, that membership includes some value and benefit from NRTC, just assuming that I'm one of the members. But then you also sell services on top of it. We gentually. Yeah, we provide. So we're made up of four different business units, Um, and you know, just a quick drive by, we have our managed services division, which provides UH products and services to...

...broadband providers, both on the telecom side and the electric side. A lot of electric cooperatives are now providing broadband. We'll talk a little more about that soon. We have our broadband division. They actually work directly and exclusively with electric cooperatives who are getting into broadband. So they helped them from visibility. Does it make sense to become a broadband provider all the way through actually building and deploying that broadband network. We have our mobile division. They are the company that could go into a rule telco and set up a mobile phone storefront, so all of the hardware, the latest Android, latest apple phone. They can provide the hardware and provide all the billing on the verizon network, so that that rule tellcom can now compete in the mobile space. Uh. And then we have our smart grid solutions, and those are solutions around the utility side of the electric so metering and am I systems and different things on the utility side. Frankly, I'm still learning that part of the business. I've spent most of my career on the Telco and specifically on the broadband side of the Toco, so I'm still learning the smart grid side, but that's the way we're built. So, yeah, we provide products and services to our members across all four business units. How do you think that that membership model affects the customer experience? Just like are there? Do you feel like there are any fundamental difference? I mean, think about your own experience and some of the companies that you do business with, whether it's as a consumer, as you know, on a B Two b basis. How does that participation or that co ownership perhaps affect the mindset or the culture around like I feel like there's something fundamental there, but I can't, I can't quite put my own finger on it. Intuitively, and that's really what it boils down to, is I'm as I mentioned, the cultural fit and for us being a coop taking care of co OPS. When we say that we understand the cooperative mentality, we do because we are also a coopoint right. We we drink the same cool as, we speak the language and and what it ultimately creates a s empathy. We understand that model because that's where we spend all of our time, is in rule America. In fact, our mission statement is that will help telecommunications and electorate members bring all the advantages of today's technology to rule America. That's what in RTC does, so across all of our business units. That's the mission that drives us, is providing or making that technology available to rule America. So what it really does is it creates a sense of empathy. We understand their world because we are in fact also in that same world. But the cooperative mentality really boils down to we're gonna do the right thing by our membership, even if it costs US money. Right we're gonna take the very best care of our members. That's the cooperative difference. So when our when our members are competing against the larger players or comcast or a t and t s that the level of support they get, say technical support, is going to be very different from a cooperative than what you're going to get from from the larger, the larger national or international players. Think of it as the difference between going to a chain restaurant versus going to a local diner to get launch right. It's that experience. It's that really kind of encompasses what you would think about the cooperative mindset. I love it. Really good analogy. And so for folks who are listening who took advantage of the work from anywhere opportunity that the pandemic created for us and moved out into more of a rural area. But you can still have that amazing Internet, that's what we're talking about here. That's exactly right. Yeah, in fact, you know the pandemic. It was it was a tough time, but we have never an in RTC. I don't think has ever been more necessary than it has been during the pandemic, because we allow our members, who are in large part broadband providers in their markets, to provide that high speed broadband. So we provide services that a loot that allow them to continue that service. And you know, when you have everybody working from home, including the kids and now one and or both parents at the same time, the Internet really needs to work both to be productive and to get out of mom and dad's here. Right I need that xbox to work because mom needs to work or dad needs to watch Netflix or whatever it is. So I need the kids to have their own thing. And so we you know, we became more valuable than ever, I think, and we stepped up in a big way across all of our business units to take the very best care of our members, uh, and I'm really, really proud of that. I could tell you lots of stories about cooperative America. In fact, one story that comes to mind one of our electric members in North Alabama, Joe Wheeler Electric. I went to their ribbon cutting ceremony for their broadband subsidiaries. So this is an electric provider that are electric company that is now in the broadband business and I heard their CEO, George Kitchens, tell us store tell stories about early pandemic, early twenties and mid kids that were in high school would have to drive to the high school parking lots sit in the parking lot to connect to the high school's Wifi so that they could do simple homework task right. Teachers had to do the same thing so they could great papers. And if you live in a larger city where you've had gig speed, like I have for the past six or seven years, you take that for granted. But in some of these rural communities the only broadband connection they've had is satellite broadband, which is just a little bit better than dial up. I...

...actually know of of of places in the country that still offer dial up service right. So there's that's still out there. That sounds crazy to some of us and some of the listeners may not even know what dial up is, right. It just hasn't existed in their professional lifetime. But you know, these broadband these rule providers, are now allowing rule America to connect to high speed broadband. So now you have people leaving major cities and moving out to rule America. For a different pace of life, pace of life both professionally and personally because of high speed Internet. Our mission matters. It's affecting real people. You can talk about telemedicine and all kinds of other benefits, right, but the list goes on. On. So the mission that we that we are are, that drives us, matters. It's meaningful. I love it. I hope everyone listening feels at some level that their mission matters as well. I don't have GIG. I probably could buy it, I just just too cheap to do it. I think I've like at three to be fair. Most people don't need the Gig they just wanted because it's the latest and greatest. But you have higher speed or high speed broadband, you have high enough. You don't worry about connectivity. I'm assuming. Yeah, I don't. You're exactly right. And what a really strong story for you to share there about students and teachers driving within range of the Wifi at the school because it's better than what they can get at home. And then you know soon in that community will be a thing in the past. So you already mentioned the managed Services Division. You're a regional sales director for the Managed Services Division. You're currently director of member experience. So walk us into this a little bit like what was going on at n RTC that raised up the concept of member experience and you know what was going on in the organization. That had some of the leaders thinking about how can we organize or reorganize in order to enhance member experience? And then, of course we'll get into why you're the person for this. Sure. Well, I think you know over there, so and NURTC is that that we just celebrating their twenty five anniversary line or thirty fifth anniversary last year. And and over the years we've gone through EBBS EBBS and flows of of of different types of identity and we've acquired a number of companies over the years. In fact all, all four, I should say three of the four business units that I mentioned are a product of acquisition. And so the company has grown. We're roughly nine or so employees today and I think for the longest time customer or member experience was a shared responsibility right across various stakeholders in the organization, from sea level too, managers and directors and that sort of thing. But as the company has has grown Um and I think the pandemic really brought light to the fact that we need someone, or a team at a minimum, a person that can dedicate their time to focusing on that member experience, looking objectively at it, so not someone that works any specific business unit, but kind of works at a corporate level, looking objectively across all four business units and understanding a what is that experience? Today let's go asked the members what their experience really is and we can talk about how we're starting to do that and then bringing back those those thoughts in that perspective from our members and proposing change internally to to create the very best possible member experience. And you know, we got really busy during the pandemic because of the work that we do, particularly the broadband side, and so I think it brought that need to the front of the front of mine for our executive team, and that's really where, where as I understand that the role was birth from is. We've got it. We've got to spend time on this. Our Board of Directors, uh, certainly brought up. You know, we need to pay more attention to the to the member experience. Again, that's interchangeable with customer experience, but we need to pay more attention to us. So we need a dedicated resource. So that's kind of the genesis of the role. I love it. It reminds me of several conversations on the show in the past. I'm thinking right now of Isabelle Papulius, who CMO at a company called media fly, and the whole topic of our conversation was how she integrated different marketing teams. is because they kept it. I think they did three acquisitions in a twelve month period Um and they and I can continually and we connect on Linkedin, as I do with her analysis. They keep acquiring companies. And so for folks who are listening, there are a number of dynamics that are going on perhaps in your business and this might be one of them. Some spirit of this, like we've now brought two or three different teams or companies or products or services together and that's the time to revisit how do these work better together in service of the customer? How do we work better together in service of the customer? I really appreciate that talk about your involvement. When did so so you already shared like, okay, there's this vision of let's bring this together tighter and make sure that the members are getting the most out of this, uh, this new, more mature, more developed organization that that probably still has some disparate parts that are kind of coming together culturally and all the things that happened in that dynamic. But what was your what was your personal interest in it, and how did you start getting engaged in this movement and then how did you layd and as the director? Yeah, so, Um, pre pandemic,... an individual contributor, I was traveling eighty percent of the time. My territory was Florida to Maine, up and down the east coast. I lived just north of Atlanta, Um, so, you know, I was traveling three weeks or so out of the month, give or take, um. And then the pandemic happened and we weren't traveling anymore. And so because of that I got a lot of margin. Back in my day, Um, you know, we're still busy as a sales guy, but I wasn't navigating Atlanta traffic or airports and you know, ubers and all of the things that come with with being a road warrior. So I had more time back in my day. To back up this a little uh and we acquired one of our competitors back in twenty nineteen and as a result, um at the time I got a new boss who is today our VP of sales, and one of my first conversations with John was some thoughts I had on how in mannaged services, where he is today and where I was prior to this role, I thought there was a better way to own board our customers, particularly specifically with managed services. Well, when the pandemic happened and hit and we were home more, home exclusively, had more time in my day and, in a meeting with John One day said hey champ, which is what most people call me, hey champ, why don't you take a stab at that, that member journey for managed services? Why don't you put some thoughts on paper, create a deck and let's take a look at and see if we can reimagine the onboarding experience for managed services. So I did that and it it brought a lot of attention and that's most of those processes are still in play today. And so it was onboarding and then I was able to take a look at the customer journey across managed services and continues. So now that the customers on board and now the services are live, what does the life, the lifespan of that customer journey looked like? So I was able to to document it, kind of map it out, poll holes in it and then provides solutions to how to make that a better life. You know, customer journey, member journey for that specific business unit. Well, because of that work, again really because of Covid and ultimately the time that I had to work on that project, it brought some attention to that. Hey, this guy has some objectivity, you know. And and so again John, my then boss, volunteered me to be part of this wider in in RTC wide team that was focused on the member journey across the organization. Uh and our VP of member relations Um and communication, UM, Chris Martin, who was my boss today, was was running that team. Again, I was just a volunteer on the team, just, you know, being there as I could. The team had had had actually started three or four months prior to me joining. But in one of the first few team meetings I had with this kind of ad hoc in RTC wide member experience or customer experience team, Chris posted this new position that was coming out of in OURTC and the title was director of member experience. It was a Friday afternoon. I remember it like it was yesterday. He posted it up. It was in a power point presentation and my mouth fell open when I started reading the description. I couldn't believe that somebody was going to get paid to do that job. It was everything professionally that I wanted to do and I was just shocked. So I knew Chris kind of. I didn't know him that well, but as soon as that meeting ended, it was four for thirty on a Friday, I sent him a team's chat and said Hey, I need to talk to you and we ended up talking. I said I'm just gonna cut to it. I want that job. I would love to have would love to to be the be the guy. He couldn't believe it. I was pretty good at my job as a sales guy and and that had two really strong years in fact leading up to that. And so after, you know, the internal due diligence, I became the first director of member experience for NURTC and it's great. There's there's a lot of pressure and because you know it's a new role and while we had a general framework, even almost a year end, we're still kind of building the plane midflight. So the my role is changed a little bit from what we initially envisioned it to be. Um, but man, I've never been happier professionally. So and, and you know you mentioned I was an individual contributor. This is the first time in my professional life that I'm not a commissioned sales guy, whether it's a sales leader or an individual contributor, and I couldn't be happier about it. I'm so excited for you. I love the story and I just want to double back to make sure I heard this correctly. Sales professional great years, good success, finds more time in his day because he's not in a car or in an airplane, pitches the idea of a better onboarding experience, gets a swing at it, then walks that out to say I want to map the customer life cycle. This is good, gets invited into a cross functional team, uh, and then winds up being the unspoken preferred choice perhaps of of the person leaving it. Remind me. So you report into your VPS range of influences. What? Yeah, the Chris is the the VP of communication and member relations. So it's kind of communication out to our membership. He's been with company a long time and great guy. We have incredible chemistry together. We see a lot of things the same way and then we butt heads on a lot of things, which makes for a great com stations and he's so..., you know, to the friction and I love that. So we have we have great communication. I love working with and for Chris. Yeah, that's great. One of the things you told me when we were chatting a couple of weeks ago, and I'm I'm air quoting you. Uh, it's something. It was something like this. I've been a salesperson my whole life, but selling internally is the hardest sale of all. Something like that. Now, Um, talk a little bit about that dynamic. I mean you already kind of alluded to it. Like I you know, I used to be a commissioned salesperson, all you know, for the entire view of my career, and this is different. But talk about selling ideas and selling opportunities and selling not products, services, prices, terms and conditions, but selling ideas and opportunities and asking for people's time and all the other things you're asking for. I think the thing that I sell more than anything is is this idea of change. You know, it's it's one of my favorite movies. I have a post dring on my wall here in my office is dead poet society, which dates me a little bit, but there's a great scene in that of you where Mr Keating, played by Robin Williams, stands up on his desk and he's telling this room full of boys that he's teaching. Sometimes, when life gets you in a certain position, you just need to change your perspective on things, look at things differently, right and and so I think that's one of the things that I bring to the table is this ability to objectively look at our sales processes, our marketing processes, our internal I own our internal crm, which is a whole another conversation, but it's all about ultimately creating the best member experience. So Um, for me, the selling, the challenges, I'm going back to the stakeholders, some of which, all of which are great at their jobs, but many of which have been doing it for fifteen, twenty, thirty years, and I'm going back to them after meeting with our members and getting feedback from our members and our customers and saying the thing you're doing is good, but it could be great. And let me tell you how that. What kind of changes? Let me propose some changes to you. And so you know, I often feel like internal affairs because I I go back internally, I'm like, I'm I'm finding some of the bad actors. Not Nobody is, you know, malicious or or, you know, going out of their way to be a bad actor, but this needs to change or this person could improve or if we did more of that or less of this, if the documentation were this thing, or, if nothing else, just just suggesting new systems and processes to create a better member experience. That internal change can create a lot of a lot of friction and I'm the source of some of that change and I'm thankful for it. But it creates a pretty tough sell. It's like, you know, it's one thing to talk your friends and doing something, but go home and try to talk your wife into doing something new right and it's it's selling to the people that know you the best and and it can create create challenges. So I think my sales background is impactful there. But my sales background is the only thing. As I understand it from Chris, that was a question mark for him. In fact, in the one of the more formal interviews that we had in me coming to this, this new role, he straight up asked me, can you get in front of a member and not feel compelled to sell them something? Can you step out of the seals role? And you know, of course, of course I can do at but I understand it. I tell people now I'm a recovering sales guy, but there's there's part of me that I understand the sales life cycle, particularly in our business, and that actually brings a lot of credibility to me internally because I've been out in front of our members, I have been a successful salesperson. I have map member journeys for specific business units and so it gives me a little more credibility when I have those conversations with stakeholders. Awesome. I know what depare. It depends so much on personality and that type of a thing. But what I'm looking for is maybe one or two tips for someone listening who is in an organization where they're trying to create some change with leaders that have been in position and have perspectives that haven't perhaps changed any significant way in the past five, ten, maybe even fifteen years like. What are a couple of things you learned in the past twelve months of trying to create some momentum in a new role? Well, the first one is you have to be patient. It's just not going to happen quick if it happens at all, it's not. In my experience, it isn't gonna happen quickly. It's it's the old adage turning Queen Mary in a bathtub, right, it's several little iterations of a turn before you get where you need to be. But bigger than that, for me it's leading with empathy. Hey, I understand this is tough. I understand. What I'm saying is is earth shattering in some ways. Right, it says this is major, this is big, big disruption that I'm talking about. I get it. Uh, and and let's you know, let's talk about that first. Let's work through the emotional response to these things that we're talking about. Yes, it's going to be more work for your sales people, or yes, it's more or less of this thing that you're accustomed to. So leading with that and being patient, leading with that and then finally Um earning their earning their trust right. It's it's starting with small things. Don't come with the big thing right out of the gate. Start with small, incremental changes. Chris and I were in a meeting just today in fact, and I said, you know, we're not pulling the rug out from under these parts of organization all at once. We're pulling an inch or two out from under them at a time, right and and it just it feels very normal and it feels very organic. Again, we have to be patient. That's also a product of...

...cooperative America. We don't tend to do anything quickly. Things move fairly slow, but their methodical, uh and intentional, and I'm okay with that. So just understanding those things, be patient, be empathetic, and it's small, incremental changes. That's what's been successful for me so far. I love it really, really good before, because I'm sure the your perspective on the Angiogram has helped you, especially with this kind of trust and empathy piece Um and understanding people and meeting them where they are and kind of Uh, speaking to them and engaging with them in a way that makes them feel seen and understood and appreciated. But before we get there, I wanted to like finish up this this thing. What are a few? Like your year into the role, you probably had a few initiatives that were kind of like these are the types of things we want to get going on. But like, where did you start? Where did you start? What were two or three of the key initiatives that that you and uh and Chris and some of the other folks that were motivated around this? Um where did you set your sights in building a function and creating some processes and things that didn't exist at all? Um, what were a few of the key initiatives out of the gate? The first thing for me was spending time with as many of the stakeholders in the and the other business units outside of managed services, where I came from. I knew those people, those were family to me. I still included them in conversations, but I tried to focus on the other three business units where I didn't have a lot of history. I knew a lot of people there, but I didn't know them well. Certainly didn't have a lot of direct trust. I mean, there was no reason not to trust me or me to trust them, but I just spend time with them and I wanted to understand what their world looked like right just diving in, kind of putting myself in their shoes and understanding. For example, I mentioned I own our crm. We use netsuite today as our crm and and I own that tool and I own it because if I can create synergies and processes in the the record of truth right at our crm, then that's going to create an ultimate better member experience. So, for example, just understanding how each business unit you uses or did not use at the time that suite at all. Some of them weren't using the tool because it hadn't been optimized. So just understanding that, putting myself in their shoes. So again, not coming right out of the gate and saying here's all the things that need to change, but let's start with what what is working, what works well with you today, and then if you could wave a magic wand and change something organizationally, what would that thing be? And I just took copious notes and probably spent, you know, two or three months just in those kind of internal meetings. Uh, and then once I I finished those several rounds of meetings, I looked at those notes, I analyze it, look for patterns and trends, kind of like what I do with the members right I'm looking for patterns and trends and then picking on those things that are common, common occurrences. More than one person is saying this or a few people have said the same kind of thing. So that's where we need to spend our time. So I really let the stakeholders tell me where to start. Um, you know, I certainly had some ideas, but those meetings change some of my ideas. So it's it's a two way communication. It's not just my way or the highway. It wouldn't work if I try, and frankly I don't have the right kind of badge to make those decisions. But for me to go earn their trust and really empathize and understand their world, then when it's time for me to recommend changes, they're they're more prone to listen. So much good advice or I especially like this idea of, you know, crm being single source of truth, making sure that everyone is putting in what they can and getting out what they can as a unifying force and, of course, a listening tours. Just such a smart play and you've already done that over the past. How long have you been in RTC privately? Well, that's an interest, there's a there's a the short answer that question is eight years. But I came to in OURTC I was part of acquisition. I was acquired by a competitor who had been acquired by in URTC and we for a number of years we worked under a separate brand, a search separate logo, and in January of Twenty we dropped all of the individual logos and brands and everything became a division or Business Unit of in OURTC. So it's a tricky question, but but approximately eight years got it. So you know where I was going with that. was that you you know, you already had done years of listening tours with not all members but a lot of members. So the internal listening tours just such a winning play. Go to the instagram now. It's something that is very important to you and engaging for you. I'm sure very helpful. Just for folks who aren't familiar. Just give us the absolute basics of it and then for those of us, like myself, who have some familiarity, who do know our angiogram number and those of some of the people that we work with. Maybe give us a few kind of you know, how does this integrate with a day to day work in a professional environment? Yeah, I'm really thankful that you brought it up. You know, I tell people when I'm able to talk about the Innigram, I would have to to really dislike you to not mention the instagram. That's what that's kind of the kind of impact has had on me. But ensure the instagram is nine distinct ways of seeing the world, of doing live. There's nine instagram types. Any means nine, Graham means graph. So it's nine grams or...

...nine graphs or nine types, Um and and what. Most people look at the Innagram, they put in the same category as a Myers brig or a disk assessment. The key difference, the way I articulated, would be to say that the Myers Brigg and the disk says this is the box you're in, this is who you are, uh, and that's fine, that's great for some self awareness. The intagram says this is the box you're in, but this is how to get out of that box. This is a it's a tool for growth, this is the way to change, and so an important distinction is to understand. While most people they take the Innagram, maybe they see a meme or something on, you know, on on Instagram, and they go take a free intagram test and they understand their primary type and you're, you know, one one of the nine types, one through nine, uh, and most people stay there. The real growth for the INTAGRAM is understanding that we are all all nine types. Were all made up of all nine types. We just default to one specific type. So we have a knee jerk reaction to one type in terms of how we do life, how we see the world. But the INNAGRAM does and to show you how you see the world. It reveals how the world sees you. So it can be really vulnerable, put on a really vulnerable spot because of that. The work of the Integer Angiogram, in my opinion, is to understand your primary type. This is how I see the world. But when you list those types from greatest to lease, from your strength all the way down to your weakness, it's understanding what's my bottom two or three numbers and what would it look like for me personally, professionally, maybe in a romantic relationship, if I focused on those weaknesses and learn how to be stronger in those types. Not to get into the specific types, but my bottom number is five, which is the five is all about data. It's the investigator. They're consumed with data. They love spreadsheets and love consuming knowledge. If I had to spend all day in a spreadsheet, it's it's a nightmare for me right it's difficult. But in my role, because data is a large part of my role, as in member experience, I have to do that. I have to lean into it. Doesn't mean that I can't spend time and data, it just means that it requires more energy for me to do that. So, because I do see the world through relationships and through the right side of my brain, the emotional side, when I have to spend hours in a in a spreadsheet, I'm lighting a candle, I'm getting the music the way I like it in my office, uh, and I'm setting a mood right because that's gonna that's gonna wake up the right side of my brain, because the left side of my brain is doing a lot of hard work. So the instagram helps me understand that. But then understanding my primary type doesn't just help me navigate the world better, but it helps me communicate with like my wife or Chris, for example, and to say this is my type. And, by the way, his primary type is a two as well, which makes it interesting. And that's the the the the helper, the giver, if you will. Um All about relationships, all about taking care of other people. Uh. You know, it's not a mistake that I ended up in a member experience role, taking care of the member. Um, but I also understand what the negative sides of those are. So me understanding his type and him understanding mine helps me communicate with him, helps me understand how he sees the world. Uh. And so the team members that I work with, the members that I had have, my friends, my wife, my family, everybody that I can take through that instagram. It just helps me understand how they're wired, how they see the world, helps me to communicate with them in an appropriate way. That's that's the trick of the intagram that we could talk about that for a really long time, but the instagram is is a real difference maker. If you want to know what makes your business partner tick or your romantic partner tick, go through the instagram together, create new dialogue, create new language. It's a it's a game changer. Nice. I had a really you know, over the years I had done a number of these kind of standard tests and maybe some, you know, less common ones as well. But when a fellow team member of ours on the executive leadership team here at Bom bomb was as as passionate as you are about this, we all ended up doing it and I found it to be, among all the tests I've taken and all the things that I've done in like leadership groups to understand one another, to improve connection, to improve communication, I'm with you. I found it to be the most useful one. And Uh, and just as a fun fact, for any Angiogram nerds listening, imagine yourself as me is a very, very deep six five wing. Being on the initial leadership team with two sevens and two eights. Sure it was challenging and so I became, you know, viewed a particular way. But it wasn't until we had this language that we could look back on, you know, some of those early years and kind of laugh about some of the friction that was there that we just didn't understand because we didn't have the language for it. Where would you send people who want to learn more about any antagram institute. Like, what's your preferred test in or site? Yeah, the the INTAGRAM institute uses a test called the ready, which is the Ritzo Hudson Inniogram type indicator, R R H e T. I think I got that right there. Ready. You have to pay for it. It's like twelve bucks. If you buy, you know, a certain number of them, you get a break and you know, to really bring a full circle, I've used the instagram internally at in RTC. I've taken ourselves teams through the instagram. I've taken part of our senior leadership team and...

...part of our executive leadership team through the Instagram, and that's all selfishly motivated. I'll own that. Now I know how to communicate with them right now. I you know, you can certainly use the Inniogram to manipulate people if you're if you're so inclined. Um, that would be a disaster in my opinion. But if you use it just to understand this is how that individual sees the world, now I know how to speak to them in a way that's going to be meaningful and I know where the friction is going to come from. If you understand that, the innagram enough you know where certain types are going to collide, say an eight versus a two. Right, UM, so, if I know that I'm dealing with an aid who is typically more assertive, not so, not generally so conscious, or a where or, frankly, may not even care much about how somebody feels about the delivery of a message, they're just going to get the message out. And me being a two, the most sensitive on the Indagram, right and the most the most willing to get my feelings hurt over something that somebody didn't mean to be negative, if I know they're an aid, I have to prepare myself for some directness that might be uncomfortable for me. I would like to think I've done enough work now that I'm not. You know, I'm not just cowing down at the drop of a hat at this point in my life, but the intagrams helped me understand that. You know, sometimes an eight doesn't understand their being assertive. oftentimes that's just the way they do live. So they're not trying to be difficult, they're not trying to be a jerk in the moment, they're just doing what they do. So if I understand that's how they see the world. Then I can drop my defenses and not feel like I have to protect myself. So I've taken our leadership and sells people through it. Now, when I deal with them, I have a chart and I keep everybody's instagram close by. So when I'm going into a meeting, oh yeah, there are six or there are four there or whatever. Now I want know how to communicate with them. That's the effectiveness, from a professional standpoint, of the INTAGRAM. I can't imagine leading a team or an organization and not having the Instagram as a tool of my tool kit. Yeah, you referred to it as selfish, but it's very and I'm sure you did that somewhat playfully. Obviously it's it's a net benefit to the entire team, into the entire community. So you some point you got lit up on customer experience. You went looking for customer experience podcasts. You happened to find this one. You enjoyed some things about it and and that's part of that's part of how we connected. But that's also part of how you connected to bomb bomb. Like, what was it about this opportunity to send video messages that that was appealing to you? Like what was different about it to you? What was interesting about it to you? Yeah, so the best way to answer that question is to take you all the all the way back to the beginning of my career. My very first professional sales job was selling long distance. That states me selling long distance to small business customers, working for a company that used to be called MCW world calm, doesn't even exist anymore, but I worked in a call center with literally thousands of other you know, agents, sells people, tell sales folks, and at the time this was early Internet. Um, you know, we worked on an auto dialer and we would make five to seven hundred cold calls a day. Now you're getting hung up on immediately on right. We've all hung up on those people. Even today, long distance isn't even a thing anymore. But I was making say, five hundred on average a day. That's a lot of getting hung up on and you have to figure out. For me it was how do I differentiate myself from, how do I make myself stand out from the last person, maybe the guy or girls sitting to my left or right that just called the same person. Now I'm calling them back again, interrupting, interrupting their dinner again, and I have to separate myself as soon as they answer phone. How do I do that? So I learned to do that and at the time it was just honesty, saying things as soon as I heard their voice, I know you don't want to talk to me, I wouldn't want to talk to me either. Give me thirty seconds and then hang up on me if you want to. It was that kind of delivery, just steering directly into the tension. So for me, Bom bomb is that it's a differentiator. How do I separate myself? How do we separate ourselves organizationally, whether it's external with our members or even internal communication? How do we stand out? And I think I've heard you say at a number of times it's getting away from the white background and the you know, the boring black text. How do we get away from that? And I think video is a great way to do it. Not for nothing the on boarding process that I created with my former and my former role and managed services, part of that was a video from leadership. When brought in a new customer, I asked our our leadership team, Hey, turn your phone on, shoot a really candid video, just saying hey, Ethan. I saw you just sign a contract. So excited to have you. My name is, you know, whatever your name is. I'll be at this trade show. Would love to see you. Just don't want to be a stranger. Welcome to INN RTC. Can't wait to take good care of you. That kind of thing. So I was already thinking video messaging even before I knew about Bom Bom. Bom Bomb just makes it really easy to create and to go through that process. You take all of the guesswork out of it. Uh So for me it's just it's a differentiator. That was that's the draw for me. Thanks for going back there, and I was not fishing for a customer testimonial. That's what I just knew that you know, especially for folks who have spent the past, you know, forty minute or so with us,...

...they obviously understand who you are, how you see the world. You know your commitment to consistency from the promises made in your sales role. You know your commitment to making sure that that's honored. You know one year, three years down the road. Like they understand who you are and I just think bringing those values into this communication opportunity, I just wanted to hear you out on that and I appreciate you doing it Um. And so, for those of you who have spent these past forty minutes with us, I've got two more episodes that I know you're going to enjoy. One of them is episode nine with Dr Cindy McGovern. She's the author of a book called every job as a sales job. I think we called that episode something like Human Connection at the heart of sales and and a lot of this, you know, selling internally, selling externally. We're selling all the time and we're just selling different things and in different ways. And ultimately a healthy relationship is one in which we are actively selling and buying from one another all the time. There's just no transact sational nature to it and there's no tallying on it. So with Dr Cindy McGovern, like a no ICK factor approach to selling, no matter what your role is. Uh. And then a little bit earlier, episode one, seventeen, with Jeff Brunsbach. I forget what his title was, but he was he was in a company that got acquired by higher logic and landed in a in a c x role at that organization. So we called that the first thirty sixty and ninety days in a new customer experience role or something similar. That's Jeff Brunsbach, who's an awesome dude. That was episode one seventeen. And so, Jason Champ, as a listener to the show, you know where we're going, but I'll ask you anyway. Could you take a minute and give some thanks and appreciation to someone who's had a positive impact on your life or your career? Yeah, there there's you know, there's so many people that come to mind. You know, I would Um, would be remiss if I didn't start with my wife. I mean she's pushed me, uh, you know, she's she has a shamp haying budget always, you know, and and uh, I'm I'm usually thankful for that. I think I would have a full head of hair if she didn't have the high standards that she has, but she does, and so I'm thankful. Uh, and she's my partner in life and I'm so thankful. Professionally, I've had a lot of people that have influenced me over the years, but the one that really jumps out at me is John Gates. John Today is the VP of sales four managed services. He's my former boss. We acquired a company and one of our competitors back in twenty nineteen and John was the VP of sales for that company. The guy that I worked for at the time decided to leave, uh what, in ourtc just after the acquisition and John, who was at the end of his career, he was looking forward to retirement. He would tell you that he was wills down on the runway and with the acquisition he was ready to ride off into the sunset. But they asked him to stay on and run sales. In lieu of the former VP or the current VP leaving, John Stepped in and Um John is a true servant leader. He leave with integrity. He asked really hard questions. Doesn't mind arguing with the people that work for him if that's what's necessary. He lets people say what needs to be said, but he leads with both his head and his heart and he's an Adia on the instagram, so he can be really direct. But if it weren't for John being the listener that he is, he's a prolific notetaker. The Guy just writes down everything and doesn't seem to forget anything. He's the first one online in the morning. He's probably the last one to log off in the evening, even at this stage of his career. But I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to get to work on the projects that I was able to work on. That ultimately led to the promotion to to this new role director of member experience. So John has had a tremendous impact on me. He's actually announced his retirement at the beginning of next year, so he really is will is down now, uh, and he'll be greatly missed. But he's had a tremendous impact of my career. Beautiful. I hope you volunteered for the party planning committee on that one. I also know that you and your life and your wife taking the lead on it. It's too long of a story, I think, for this episode. But you're running a flower business, so you're also business partners in addition to life partner twist. Yeah, and the Business Partnership. You know, we're probably gonna have to go back to therapy to continue doing because we don't always do great in that, but we we figured out. But yeah, we own a flower farm called Posey fields, po S, I. E. Fields. Check her out on instagram. She's she's all about Instagram, but it's a pun intended. It's a growing business, but we're a cut flower farm, so we grow the flowers that we sell and it's an incredible business. It's a lot of fun. I I jokingly tell people it's my other full time job. So when I finished in our TC I tend to put on a literal posey fills hat and then we're out at the farm harvesting flowers. We have a crew that works for us or where a farmer's markets or other venue selling flowers. So it's an incredible business. Really really thankful for it and that that's my wife's full time job, my other full time Gig. But yeah, thanks for thanks for the shout out even yeah, of course, and I linked that up for...

...four people. At bombom dot com slash podcast, we write these up, do video highlights, etcetera. Um, and I often put in links for things that that come up in the conversation. So go to bomb bom dot com slash podcast and look for episode two eleven. Uh, you also know this one's coming, Jason. How about a company or a brand that has consistently delivered a great experience for you? Yeah, you know, I mentioned I'm a southerner. I'm from the Atlanta area, just north of Atlanta, and Um, you know, it's it's always been true. My very first job, I was fourteen, was with chick fil a and that was my first job and, you know, learned a lot in the short time that I was there. I was there about a year, but you know, fourteen years old working at chick fil a, when I was an individual contributor and known the road all the time. I would often get made fun of it the number of Chick Fil a receipts that I would turn in after, you know, a long stand of travel. And the reason for it is is it the best chicken sandwich in the world? No, it isn't, but it's consistent. Every chick fil a you're going to get the same experience. If anything, the experience would just be better than the great experience you had before. But I've never had a bad experience in chick fil A. speaks to their hiring. I know you had Elizabeth from chick fil a correct. Yeah, Elizabeth Dixon. Yeah, several weeks ago. What a great conversation that was and she spoke a lot about their culture and it's just obvious. You know, whether it's drive thru or lobby. The reason chick fil a is great for me is it is just that it's a consistent good or great experience. The Sandwich, the fries, that even their diet Dr Pepper tastes the same at every restaurant right. So it's a consistent experience. The price point is right. Again, not the best chicken sandwich I've ever had, but it's a consistent it's easy, it's convenient. It's no more the best chicken sandwich than a starbucks cup of coffee is the Best Cup of coffee you've ever had. But you're paying for an experience that you can expect and kind of count on. So it would be chick fil a for me not to be cliche. Really well done. I appreciate the Elizabeth Dixon shout out. That was a great conversation and that's not the first time chick fil a has come up at this point in the conversation here on the customer experience podcast. Love this. Well done. How can someone follow up and connect with you and or N RTC? Yeah, you, you can find in RTC at N RTC DOT CO OP, which is n RTC DOT c o o p and you can certainly find me on Linkedin. Would love to connect with you there. Because of your podcast, I've connected with lots of other people in the customer experience space, Um and UH. It's led to some great conversations. It's been eye opening for me and if there's something that I can share about NRTC, about the cooperative world, about customer remember experience, or even about the Angiogram, uh, please reach out to me on Linkedin. Would love to connect. Awesome, great offer. He is Jason Champion. I am Ethan Butte, and we appreciate you spending this time with us here on the customer experience podcast. Thanks, Jason. Thanks Ethan. It was a pleasure. Here's a fun fact. Video emails and video messages aren't about video at all. They're about you and about the other person or the other people you're sharing that video with. Videos are about your tone, intent, enthusiasm, gratitude, concern and all those other rich human nuances missing from your typed out messages. Save time, add clarity, convey sincerity. Send video messages from Gmail, outlook, iphone, android, salesforce, outreach, Zendesk, Linkedin, slack and beyond with bomb bomb learn more and try it free at bomb bomb dot com. Thanks for listening to the customer experience podcast. Remember the single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visit bomb bomb dot com. Slash podcast.

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