Lessons From Temkin Group’s Humanity Workshops

Throughout the year, Temkin Group has been focused on making 2018, “The Year of Humanity.” As a part of our commitment to this critical theme, we developed a highly interactive workshop “Humanizing CX,” which I’ve led for 10 Customer Experience Professionals Association local networking events in cities across the U.S. and Canada.

It’s been an amazing experience to see the overwhelmingly positive response from more than 600 CX professionals.

The workshop has a simple agenda, examining how attendees can improve humanity:

  • As Individuals
  • As CX professionals
  • As a collective CX community

For those of you who have not been able to join, I thought it might be nice to capture some of the highlights of the workshop. So here goes…

Improving Humanity As Individuals

We start the workshop by examining how we, as individuals, can improve humanity based on how we interact with the world around us. Here are some highlights:

  • How happy are you? In order to improve humanity as individuals, you need to start by focussing on the most important person — the one you see in the mirror. Think about it, have you ever improved humanity when you were “hangry” (hungry and angry)? It’s important for us to think about our personal frame of mind, because that’s what we reflect on the people around us. That’s why we start the workshop by having people complete Temkin Group’s Happiness Assessment, which uses 5 simple questions to gauge an individual’s happiness against a benchmark of 10,000 U.S. consumers. The takeaway from this section is that you need to be mindful of your personal state in order to be a positive impact on others.
  • Embrace Diversity. To highlight the fact that people have lost the art of engaging effectively with people who have a differing point of view, we ran an exercise where attendees broke into pairs and had to find three things about which they totally disagree. It’s fun as the room buzzes with conversation and laughter. The individual pairs always find a bunch of interesting areas of disagreement. Afterwards, we discuss why these discussions didn’t become argumentative as do many disagreements in other parts of our lives. Here are some of the takeaways from the exercise:
    • These discussions were not generally about important topics. Very few of our disagreements are ever about truly important things. We just need to remember what’s truly important to us — which is not always trying to get someone else to share our opinion.
    • The exercise forces people to find things they agreed upon along the way. In most cases, we tend to have a lot of things that we agree upon that get pushed aside when a disagreement happens. So it’s productive to find the things that you agree on, before you dive deep into the disagreement.
    • We were in it together. Everyone was participating in the same exercise, which gave the group a common goal. This is similar to the previous bullet about areas of agreement, but it’s a bit more specific. We need to align around the purpose of our discussion and the greater good that might come from finding common ground.
    • The discussions were face-to-face, which allowed more mutual adjustments. I ask the audience if they have ever seen someone on Facebook who has a pretty sever point of view being swayed by disagreeing comments. If we disagree, the closer we can get to dealing with it face-to-face the better.
    • I often end this section by mentioning the need to assume positive intent. The other person may not have the same point of view as you, but they have the same right to their point of view as you do to yours.
  • Extend Compassion. All around us there are people who can use our love and care. We are often so distracted that we don’t even notice them. But we should. Helping other people is not only a noble activity and wonderful for the other person, but it is also great for the giver. You get an amazing feeling when you help other people. To share that feeling with the group, we had attendees pick from one of 15 charities, and Temkin Group donated $5 to each of their selections. In total, we are donating $3,000 on behalf of the CX community. Our goal in that part of the session was to have the group collectively experience the feeling of extending compassion. If we can remember that feeling, then we can look for more of those opportunities.
  • Express Appreciation. We asked the groups how many people felt like they spend enough time showing appreciation to the people around them. Very few people raised their hands. Expressing appreciation is another activity that pays the giver as much as it does the receiver. So we asked everyone in the group to send a message of appreciation (text/email/etc.) to a person who they feel deserves it from them. In a couple of cases, attendees sent the message to their teenage kids and received a version of this message in response “wtf. u ok? luv u back.” That’s about as good as it gets from a teenager. Our recommendation to the group was to find some time during the day, during breakfast, before or after lunch, before or after dinner, when you can consistently find 5 or 10 minutes to dedicate to sending messages of appreciation. Make it a habit!

Improving Humanity As CX Professionals

For the second part of the workshop, we focused on how we could improve humanity in our roles as CX professionals. Here’s how we flowed through that section:

  • Understand human beings. If you look at any part of a CX professional’s job, one thing jumps out — it’s all about people. Customers, internal stakeholders, executives, and partners are all human beings. The job of a CX professional is to influence how those people think and behave. So we start this section by providing a framework for understanding (and influencing) people, our Six Key Traits of Human Beings: Intuitive, Self-Centered, Emotional, Motivated, Hopeful, and Social.
  • Act with purpose. To drive change, you need to align the direction of lots of people across an organization. This requires what Temkin Group calls Purposeful Leadership. Through a dissection of a Steve Jobs speech, we helped the group understand what we call the Five Ps of Purposeful Leaders: Positive, Passionate, Persuasive, Propelling, and Persistent. We then took the group through an exercise where they compared their own leadership approach to a leader that they admire. Our goal was to get each attendee to identify one “P” that they are committed to improving.
  • Cultivate deep empathy. A lot of the things that CX professionals do can be described as trying to raise employees’ empathy for customers. So we started this part of the workshop with an exercise that highlighted our natural empathy, and explaining that human beings experience both cognitive and emotional empathy. As CX professionals, we need to elicit both of these when we are trying to influence other people. That’s why it’s so important to accompany customer insight data with stories about specific customers. It also turns out that employees encounter many factors that inhibit their natural empathy, so we discussed the  Five Ways That Organizations Crush Customer Empathy.
  • Create positive memories. It turns out that loyalty isn’t based on what people experience; it’s based on what they remember about those experiences. And memories can be quite different than actual experiences. That’s because our memories aren’t like YouTube videos. Instead, our memories are more like Instagram photos that we take at interesting moments in our lives. We remember our past by creating a story that links together those selected photos. During the workshop, we discussed how to focus our efforts on affecting the moments that people remember. This is a critical component of experience design.

Improving Humanity As A Collective CX Community

In the final section of the workshop, we broke into small groups (2 to 3 people) to identify an idea about how the CX community could collectively help humanity. The groups then submitted their ideas online, which we’ve listed out on the humanity workshop page. Temkin Group is committed to selecting one of those ideas and leading it forward. Please take a look and share your ideas in the comments section on that page.

The Year of Humanity

The bottom line: Please join Temkin Group in making 2018, “The Year of Humanity!

Written by 

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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