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Turning Employees Into Customer Magnets, With Jill Raff

Dr. Pelè: (00:04)
Hello everyone. This is Dr. Pelè with the Work Proud podcast. And it is my pleasure to introduce to you my friend. And I’m very, very proud to say that. An expert in the employee experience and the customer experience worlds, Jill Raff, it is such a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview you today. How are you?

Jill Raff: (00:26)
I am so great. Anytime I’m with you, I am great. I’m so honored, and I love your energy, and it just is so contagious. It’s fantastic. So I’m great. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Pelè: (00:38)
Thank you so much, Jill. And I have to say that we met in the world of business learning and connecting with how do you break into big companies, and do all the things that consultants do. And we’ve since grown into our own areas of expertise, but for some reason, it’s kind of still the same. We’re still in the employee engagement and customer engagement world. So I was wondering if we could start this conversation by having you help us define the problem of customer engagement, customer experience, versus employee engagement and experience. Sounds like they might actually be based on the same things, but what’s your definition of the problem?

Jill Raff: (01:25)
Yes, I do see them as the same thing, because when I use the word customer, because I’m an EX to CX expert. When I use the word customer, I am thinking that it is all people. So for an organization, they need to be thinking of their employees as their first-line customers. They know how they want their customers to be treated because they’re the ones paying money. So that’s where the focus has traditionally gone. But I really want to encourage companies to have a fresh look, a fresh eye and vantage point, and recognize that before you can create that great customer experience, and in order for that to happen, you must first create that outstanding employee experience internally.

Jill Raff: (02:15)
And to me, the biggest problem, you asked about the challenge, especially now with the pandemic, I think it has exacerbated and brought to the forefront of actually what something I’ve been talking about for years. And that is we have to put people first. We have to recognize the value of our people. Everyone’s heard, “Your people, your greatest assets”, yes, but who’s really implementing that? Who’s really putting that into practice into their daily work, their protocols, their systems, everything they do in the employee journey? Who’s looking at the employee journey, not just the customer journey?

Jill Raff: (02:55)
So I think the biggest problem is many companies now want to go back to business as usual, right? There is no more business as usual. They have to stop pre-pandemic thinking. And that means coming into the future through the current situation and recognize that when we prioritize our people, that is when we’re going to see change happen within our organization.

Dr. Pelè: (03:23)
Preach it, Jill. First of all, you’ve just written a whole book right now. I have to say, as CEO of the Jill Raff Group, a thought leader in this space, and by the way, I love your EX to CX. That is like so cool. I hope you’ll explain that for us soon. I wonder, how did you get here? I mean, what put you on this path? You’ve got customers like McDonald’s, you are making waves. How did you get here?

Jill Raff: (03:52)
Well, interestingly, I’ve had a very diverse path, and past, and it’s really a conglomeration of everything that I’ve done. So starting out, I grew up in the McDonald’s industry, as it turns out, my work with them was completely separate. But I grew up in the McDonald’s franchise in the very early days. My parents and grandparents opened store number 150, and never knowing that McDonald’s would be the number one global hamburger franchise that it is today. But growing up with those days with the founder Ray Kroc and Turner, and just really living the growth, living, seeing how working in the stores, and even in the office, but in the stores, even from a very young age, seeing how I was trained, listening to how management or my father spoke to others… Excuse me. Being taught what was expected of us.

Jill Raff: (05:00)
I mean, so many things. So that was really my very beginning. I followed, quick synopsis. I followed my passion into fashion, and was a fashion designer overseas in Italy and in New York city. I became a food stylist, so using my creative skills, but my love for food. And I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and I did work in everything. I say I’m McDonald’s to Michelin. So I worked in a one-star Michelin and [inaudible 00:05:30] and their pastry kitchen had all these incredible experiences. But at the end of the day, I used it for food styling. And I’m a real estate agent, I was licensed in two states. So I say all this just point out that the importance here is I’ve had this broad perspective and experienced conversations with all different kinds of people, different cultures, living across the country, I’m sorry, across the globe, multiple countries, speaking multiple languages.

Jill Raff: (05:59)
And so I had this insight that enables me to help companies say, “You know what, it’s not about this is the way we always did it”. The single-lane thinking, which is very dangerous. And so I’m able to cross-pollinate ideas, solutions, strategies, that I’ve learned and lived in other countries or in another industry and say, “Well, there’s no reason why we can’t do it here”. The problems tend to be the same. And so why not try other solutions that typically have not been tried in that particular lane or industry?

Dr. Pelè: (06:32)
Jill, one of the things that you use to differentiate yourself with, by the way I think is brilliant, is you are calling for a paradigm change, where people talk about customer experience as one thing, and employee experience as another thing. You’re advocating that they’re the same thing, and that it’s a mistake to not see them as the same thing. Maybe we could start a conversation about how you bring change to the problem you’ve described through the EX, CX approach. You’re going to have to explain what that means, so people understand that. How do you bring change?

Jill Raff: (07:09)
Thank you. So E, let’s define it because a lot of people aren’t as familiar. So CX is Customer Experience. EX is the Employee Experience. And I believe strongly that employee experience creates customer experience good or bad. It doesn’t have to always be, people are like, oh, great customer experience, but it could be bad customer experience, which is often connected to bad employee experience. And I have just to throw a little curve ball in here. In some of the flow of the offerings of some of the work that I do, I’m even throwing in and creating something called LX, the Leadership Experience, that we have to lead this experience. Because it starts at the top and it starts in the inside. So the typical customer experience model is outside in, the customer what they want internally. I, on the other hand, believe that we need to start on the inside and at the top. It needs to be, leaders have to set an example, not just tell people what to do. They have to get in there and do it side by side.

Jill Raff: (08:18)
And that’s why actually my process, my proprietary process is called the Inside-out Framework. And the foundation of this framework is around something I call my E-3 formula, and that is educate times engage, times in trust, equals happy loyal employees, and that’s happy and loyal, equals happy loyal customers. And the thing there is, all these elements, if you start with the educational piece and not just training people, but truly educating them on who you are, what you stand for, how you want people to interact, what do they mean to you, what do you mean to each other internally, then that naturally goes on to the other steps. So there’s a lot involved. I won’t go into all the steps, but those are kind of the larger, broad stroke structure for that.

Dr. Pelè: (09:19)
So basically you are saying, and by the way you’re right, I don’t think EX, CX, LX would be as easy to remember. But basically you’re saying that it’s a mistake for people to focus only on the customer experience. How do we bring it together? I mean, clearly there is a difference in the real world, but there is a connection in how things actually work. So how do you convince people that there is that strong connection, that they need to do X, Y, Z on the employee side, if they want to see X, Y, Z on the customer side? What do you use to glue it all together?

Jill Raff: (09:58)
Well, I think if leadership stops and thinks about themselves, takes themselves out of leadership position and thinks about themselves as customers, we are customers multiple times a day. What are their experiences with companies that they’re trying to buy a service or product from? Or trying to reach customer support? I can guarantee everyone understands what that means when they have a bad experience. And when the person on the other end says, “I don’t know, let me connect you to someone else”. Or they don’t say they don’t know and they give you fallacious information only to lead you into circles. And an hour later, you’re like, “I’m back where I started”. So I think what’s the glue there is understanding that your people, your employees are your front line. They represent who you are.

Jill Raff: (10:55)
And to me it’s intuitive. And maybe that I shouldn’t jump to that, but studies actually show that customers experiences, 89% of customers will actually switch to a competitor following a poor customer experience. So their customer experience is usually happening as a result of their interactions with that employee. So that’s on the customer side. So that’s how they’re connected because you can see directly if they’re not getting the attention, if they’re not being acknowledged, if they’re not being respected, all these things, then the customer’s not going to come back.

Jill Raff: (11:37)
And internally, the biggest problem going on right now is staffing attraction and retention. Again, you apply the same principles. If you are not proving to your employees that this is a place that they belong, this is a place where you matter, your voice matters. We want to hear what you say, and we want to incorporate that into what we’re doing and how we evolve our brand, that you are ultimately responsible for the failure or success of our company. That you appreciate them, that you incentivize them, that you recognize them. If you are not doing those things, then you can guarantee they’re going to move on to somewhere else where they are recognized and they feel like they belong and they’re a part of something bigger.

Dr. Pelè: (12:24)
You’ve hit on a lot of points. The last one you just said, recognition, is very near and dear to my heart. I have actually seen the tangible difference when someone feels respected, appreciated, recognized, it actually makes them want to stay. And obviously there’s a lot of research, including the Work Proud study that we’ve talked about, which I’ll be happy to share with you later. But I want to talk about the great resignation. On your website you call that out as a real thing, it’s not theory. And a lot of people are wondering, well, how exactly do I handle retention? If people want to leave, it may be because of better opportunities financially, or what is it? How do I bring these softer things like recognition and all these different strategies that you may have on the inside to bear to stop the great resignation?

Jill Raff: (13:24)
Yeah. Well, I think one of the problems as well, you go back to the problem or challenge, is that companies think, “Let’s just throw money at them”. “We’ll just throw more money at them and they’re going to stay”. That is the biggest mistake. That’s a quick way to send yourself into bankruptcy, just throwing money at them. That will be a bandaid, because people want to stay short-term for the money, but it has been statistically proven through research that money is not what ultimately is the most important thing, especially in these younger generations and the new ones in the workforce. And more important that people will actually take a cut in pay to be working for something that matters, that is purposeful, that the company believes in and supports things that they believe in. There’s this alignment of values. And the alignment is what’s so key.

Jill Raff: (14:13)
And one of the first things I like to do when working with people, is do a gap analysis, because we’ve found that their perception, there’s a huge perception gap in what the leadership or owners, depending upon the size of the company, believe they are delivering. In fact, Bain & Company has that stat that I use all the time, because it’s so powerful and really highlights the problem, that 80% of executives feel that they’re delivering a superior customer experience, while only 8% of customers agree. And it’s also known that 62% of employees will leave their job when they don’t feel they’re invested in and being trained appropriately to be successful in their job. So I mean, gosh, it says it all.

Jill Raff: (15:05)
It’s so very important that we look at our people and invest in them, and show them a reason why they’re there. And explain to them, it’s not just I’m telling you to do this task, but here’s why we’re doing it. Here’s why you specifically are so great at this. We appreciate this quality, these qualities in you, and you are the perfect person to contribute to this. And thank you for making, for being an important part of this company and the success that we have.

Dr. Pelè: (15:36)
Wow. Now I was trying to keep track of all those research stats there. I’m going to have to go watch this later on to capture them, it does remind me of one from Deloitte. It’s a recent one about the employee experience issue. And I don’t have the exact numbers, but it was something like 80 plus percent of leaders in organizations believe that employee experience is very important, has to be done. And yet only about 15% or so, a much smaller number, actually feel they are ready to do it. They have the tools and the knowledge to do it. So this is a big gap, right?

Jill Raff: (16:14)
Yeah. And I’ve seen that one too.

Dr. Pelè: (16:16)
You’ve seen that. Yeah.

Jill Raff: (16:19)
I think it was 90% think it’s important and recognize in this year and going forward that that’s where they need to invest. And only like a 10% or something to do it. And it’s like, well, people don’t want talk, that’s why people are leaving. They don’t want to just hear rhetoric and like, “Yeah, we believe it and it’s up on the wall”, right? The mission statements on the wall, but it’s not actually being implemented day to day in their experiences working for that company.

Dr. Pelè: (16:46)
Yeah. No, that is so deep. And I’m just so grateful for what you’re doing out there in the world, because it is absolutely important. Now, you mentioned a few other things. One of the things you talked about, you mentioned recognition, we’ve talked about some of the skills involved in doing that. And the research shows the direct impact. But an area that you mentioned, you talked about purpose, which for me, the word purpose goes hand in hand with other words like pride, and you already know how I feel about the word pride, right?

Jill Raff: (17:16)
Yes, love it.

Dr. Pelè: (17:17)
So I guess if we could spend some time talking a little bit about things like pride in the work that you do, and pride in the company you work for, and purpose. Tell us how those things impact employee and customer engagement and ultimately business results.

Jill Raff: (17:34)
Yes. Pride is such an important part and it’s something that I mentioned that it’s actually in my signature talk. And it comes under the third E in my E-3 formula. So it’s the Entrust part. So once you’ve educated your people, not just trained them, but educated them on who you are, what’s important to you, values, all of those things. Then you’ve engaged with them to exemplify and model for them the behavior you want them to see, and use with their customers. And you’ve now through the education and the engagement, they feel like they’re already now feeling they’re definitely a part of what this company’s about. They are part of their brand. They now are owning the brand. And there’s a pride that’s slowly evolving along the way. When you get to the third E, which is Entrust, trust is the foundation of any strong relationship that we have, but incorporated into trust is an empowerment. And when you empower your people and you trust your people, you are immediately establishing the sense of pride, the sense of ownership and perfect example.

Jill Raff: (18:51)
So I’ve been interviewing people who worked for my dad in those early days in McDonald’s, and unfortunately my dad’s been gone now for 27 years, we lost him early. And people, it is so amazing, it warms my heart. They tell me, “Jill, I can give you exact conversations that I had with your father that had stayed with me till today. He believed in us, he respected us. He wanted to know what we thought, what our input was. And then we would see that he would actually take action on that. He respected us and therefore we gave him respect. We wanted to work harder for him”.

Jill Raff: (19:29)
And one manager said to me, he started when he was 17 years old, on the crew. He ended up growing into a higher position. And he said, “Jill, you know what? Your dad may have been the owner, but when the corporation came through and did an evaluation, or if a customer had a problem, that was on me, that I felt like it was my store. I felt like I owned that store and that my name was attached to the outcome”. And that is what every employer wants to achieve with their customers. And this is what I grew up with.

Dr. Pelè: (20:05)
Wow. What a story. And just, what a dad. I have to tell you, while you were sharing that story, I was thinking to myself, Maya Angelou once said that it is not about what you say or do to people, it’s really about how you make them feel.

Jill Raff: (20:24)
Absolutely.

Dr. Pelè: (20:24)
And clearly your dad did that 27 years ago and people still feel that way. One thing I would love to ask you is this remote situation many of us find ourselves in, things like the flexible work arrangements. How do you help people feel this purpose, and pride, and connection, when you’re not close to them? I mean, obviously technology tools and things like that. But do you have any thoughts about this new world we’re living in?

Jill Raff: (20:55)
I think it’s a hybrid world that we better get used to, because studies show that it’s not going anywhere now that people have had a taste of it. They like it. So I think it is important to have that FaceTime though. So each company needs to figure out what the size and what their goal is, and what their product, what it is that they’re doing. How that feeds in there. But that goes back to the beginning of that thinking, that pre-pandemic thinking and recognizing we need to figure it out now. And I think technology, as you said, is a really important one. Using technology tools to know what people are feeling right away, not just what your customers feeling, but what are your employees feeling? How do we interact with our employees? How do we ping them and say, “I was just thinking about you today”?

Jill Raff: (21:47)
This is a just-thinking-about-you call. How are you doing? There’s a lot going on. And part of the problem is a lot of the executive management, now companies have come back with roaring force and they think everything’s great. Well, their employees are not necessarily feeling that. So we need to tap into what’s internally, reality. And so sometimes it’s maybe a quick phone call. Maybe it’s even just a quick text. And there is technology out there that will allow you to do that rapidly, quickly, but in a genuine, authentic manner. And that is crucial because people feel it, going back to Angelou, right? People feel it when it’s not genuine and authentic.

Dr. Pelè: (22:32)
Wow. Now, through the magic of technology, I couldn’t help but go look for that stat about employee experience to make sure that we actually give that correct information, because it is an important topic. So I’m going to actually share that right here. Can you see my screen?

Jill Raff: (22:48)
Yes.

Dr. Pelè: (22:48)
So basically, the stat was 80% of executives rated employee experience very important or important, but only 22% reported it as something that they can do themselves and they’re excellent at doing it. So there you go. Anybody who’s wondering, “How do we do this?” You’re not alone. Most people do not know what to do next. However, they do believe it is very, very important. So Jill, tell us what you’re excited about next? What are you working on? Do you have any new announcements, projects, things that everybody should go and get? And then of course, we’ll tell them where to go get it.

Jill Raff: (23:30)
Gosh, I have a few things in the works, nothing yet to talk about, few partnerships, collaborations that I’m super excited about that will round out what I offer, the consulting, the coaching workshop, training, whatever, but rounds it out with the tech side that really works together beautifully. So my goal is to just offer the most support possible, the most complete support. And if it’s not something in my wheelhouse, I have a group of other experts that I work with directly to fill in where that’s needed in technology, like Work Proud. I mean, I love the name. People want to feel pride in their work, and if we’re not working proud, then we need to find a different job. Why are we working? I think that’s a big key part of it. So looking, exploring, I have some conversations going with that.

Jill Raff: (24:26)
And every week, if you’re resonating with anything I’m saying, every week I do have a live show. It’s called Celebrity Customer Experience, riffs with me, Jill Raff, where we riff on everything employee or customer experience. And that’s, you can find that on Thursdays, 12 central time live on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube, my channels. Or if those times don’t work, you can catch the replay they leave on those spaces. But I always love it when people come and join, and then through their comments actually become a part of the conversation. I’m all about creating that connection. Because I believe ultimately the work that I’m doing is creating a connection culture within the company, and that’s what’s key to me.

Dr. Pelè: (25:10)
Wow. So let me just say you have created a connection culture here, already, because I can still feel the goosebumps from just really agreeing with almost everything you’re saying. You just explain things, your stories. Thank you so much, Jill, for being a part of this conversation. And please tell us again how we can reach you. Do you have a website? Do you have the LinkedIn and any others? And then we’ll put them in the show notes.

Jill Raff: (25:36)
Thank you. Yes. My website is my name. So it’s Jill Raff, and a lot of times people don’t understand the last, so I’m going to spell Raff and of course has to be this way. It’s R like Ronald, A like apple pie, and double F like French fry. So it’s jillraff.com.

Dr. Pelè: (25:56)
Is there a subtle McDonald’s…?

Jill Raff: (25:58)
A little corny, but I have to go with it. It actually applies. So it’s jillraff.com. And my LinkedIn is actually now EX2CX_expert. So it’s capital E X, the number two, then C X. Kind of like B2B, B2C. So it’s EX2CX_expert. At LinkedIn.

Dr. Pelè: (26:29)
Awesome. We’ll have all of those in the show notes. And once again, I just want to say thank you so much for your energy, your passion, the purpose and the work you’re doing in the world. It’s been a pleasure to have you on our show. Thank you.

Jill Raff: (26:42)
Thank you so much. Always fun. And I’m really honored to be a part of this because it’s a great podcast you’re doing. So thank you.

Dr. Pelè: (26:49)
All right. Thank you. We’ll talk soon.

Jill Raff: (26:52)
Bye-bye.

Dr. Pelè: (26:53)
All right.

Jill Raff  is the Authority on EX2CX™, Employee Experience-to-Customer Experience. She works with clients as a Consultant, Speaker, Show Host, Author, and Expert on How To Turn Employees Into Advocates and Customer Magnets.

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