The launch of my first book has finally become a reality! ‘Customer What? The honest and practical guide to customer experience’ was published at the end of April 2018. I would never have been able to achieve my ambition without the support of many people. A significant amount of support came via my crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. I feel genuinely blessed that so many people believed in what I am doing enough to pledge their support to make my dream come true.
In pledging to my campaign, five wonderful people were rewarded with an interview feature on my blog – what you are reading is the final one of the five (you can read the first – an interview with James Dodkins – here; the second with Chris Brown – here; the third with Kathy van de Laar – here; and the fourth with Richard Shenton – here). Today I am absolutely delighted to share my final interview with Genevieve Bruketa-Baskovic – an amazingly well travelled Customer Experience Professional who is passionate about doing everything she does with the customer in mind – enjoy…
Ian. Tell us a little bit about your working background:
Genevieve. My story is one of a long journey – definitely not a straight line!! I was born in France, but my parents came from Croatia and Slovenia. My father was actually in the French Foreign Legion and as a result, we travelled a lot. As a child, I therefore had to adapt very quickly to different environments – this had a huge effect on the person I am today.
Ian. Where did your travels take you?
Genevieve. My first memory is of Djibouti, followed by Tahiti. A significant proportion of my early life was spent in Africa – a continent that became a huge part of my life. As I reached working age, I moved to the UK to teach French at Bradford University. While I was there I also earned a Masters degree in International Development Studies and later started a PhD on the subject of girls education in Africa.
Genevieve. The story does not stop there!! Half way through my PhD, I decided to leave academia and moved into art. I went back to Africa to work on rural development projects in Ghana. I also developed my jewellery and ceramics making skills with the view to establishing an income generating project for local women. Within six months of creating a new jewellery concept, the products were being sold in hotels across Ghana and at the international airport.
Ian. What a fascinating and amazingly inspiring story. How on earth did you end up working in the field of Customer Experience?!
Genevieve. I eventually returned to the UK and set up an art studio – something I ran and managed for six years. However, I needed a full time job, so I moved in to project work and got an MSc in project management. I started to work in the third and public sectors managing a wide range of projects such as supporting return to education and employment or business start ups. I also managed a national programme that encouraged industry professionals to spend time teaching in further education. I ultimately ended up in Paris having seen an advert for a French speaking change manager.
Ian. Did your project management roles expose you to the significance of Customer Experience?
Genevieve. To be honest, Customer Experience has always been something that was a ‘given’ to me. So when I started to see negative customer feedback coming through customer surveys, my natural curiosity led to me to investigate what was actually done with the feedback customers were providing. The answer….. was NOT MUCH!! So I took the initiative to introduce an action planning process – short to medium term actions that needed to be taken; and I identified and supported the accountable process owners who needed to drive the actions. Over a three to four years period, multiple actions were implemented – some people were reluctant at first and ‘dragged their feet’, but rapidly a genuinely proactive approach to acting on customer feedback developed. This contributed to embedding a focus on customer experience – it became part of the organisational culture
Ian. So customer focus has always been something that has been inherent in everything you do?
Genevieve. Intuitively, I have always known that being customer focused is the right thing to do. My project and change management experience has had a lot to do with it – if I see something that is wrong, I want to make it better! A few years ago in one of my roles, I identified an opportunity to put in place a customer experience driven IT platform – not just a basic CRM – we needed more than that – and we needed the right level of expertise to do it. I was able to bring in two Customer Experience specialists, enabling us to share even more knowledge on the subject across the organisation. As we progressed with the project, the team realised that they had been focusing on their own perspective, NOT always the perspective of the customer.
Ian. We met each other during a Customer Experience Masterclass – what were you looking to get out of it?
Genevieve. It is simple really – I wanted reassurance and validation – is the path I and my organisation are taking the right one? Am I following best practice? I wanted to learn more about the logic behind Customer Experience and what others are doing around the world. I also wanted to understand more about the CXPA competencies – that is my job after all!
Ian. What advice would you give to people embarking on a career in Customer Experience?
Genevieve. Always do the right things for the right reasons. To do that, you are likely to have to make compromises – that’s inevitable. Create a network of like minded people – you need to talk to as many peers as you can – regularly. You will also need to read a lot – every time I read something new, it helps me to validate, learn and continuously improve myself. Stakeholder engagement and management is also critical – this takes time – and as a result, you need to have a lot of patience. As you get small wins, you will start to attract and build the attention from leaders. Customer Experience is about the long term – big bang just does not work!
Please note – the views expressed in this article are the interviewees only and are not made on behalf of any particular organisation
My book, ‘Customer What? – the honest and practical guide to customer experience’ – is now available to purchase! You can do so on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. If Amazon does not ship to your part of the world, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will arrange an alternative method to ship a book to you. Enjoy the read!!