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CX insights from some of the leading brands out there

Susanne Axelsson
July 15, 2021

At Frontline Magic, we’re on a mission to make frontline work awesome. On 1 July, we kicked off our series of evening showcase events for our community members featuring some of the best customer experience innovators in people-powered businesses

We connected - because community is built on conversation

We listened - because ideas fuel inspiration  

We debated - because diversity = growth


Learn more about Frontline Magic Local here.

Snack-sized stories from our CX magicians

Liza Gunn


Liza Gunn, GM Customer Service at NZ Post, channeled Seth Godin, who famously said “Don’t measure anything unless the data helps you to make a better decision or change your actions.” Liza’s top tip was “Get as close as possible to the customer. You have to keep asking yourself, obsessively, why are we measuring this, and what is the impact for the customer?”

Anna Tearii

Anna Tearii, Partner Resources Manager at Starbucks, shared that “Many New Zealanders wouldn’t think of Starbucks as our ‘local’; but that’s exactly what we aspire to be.” The ‘Starbucks Experience’ has been built from thousands of hours of research around the world and countless data metrics that prove the formula works. When it came to creating a more ‘local’ experience for NZ customers, Anna and her team simply added some kiwi values and manaakitanga. This included the importance of a shift in mindset from ‘retail’ to ‘hospitality’. “New Zealand is known for its hospitality, yet Starbucks stores were being run on retail principles. Moving from productivity measurements (retail) to a culture of service (hospitality) took time - but the results speak for themselves!”

Farhad Ghafarzade

Farhad Ghafarzade, CEO & Founder of Green Drop Garage, highlighted the importance of getting CX basics right: “Green Drop Garage has morphed over the years, but always with an underlying current of killer customer service. Most mechanics aren’t used to seeing smiling faces at the door – because let’s face it, no one likes car troubles, so new staff can’t believe how friendly our customers are.” Farhad’s response is simple: “They treat us as we treat them. Because at the end of the day we’re on the same team, looking for the same result.” 

Mic-drop moments

Every event has a few ‘mic drop’ moments, and Farhad Ghafarzade brought them in spades. 

Which brings us back to THAT story about a customer complaint; a cross-country flight; an amateur photographer on a road trip and a case of mistaken identity when it came to an oil change…

Watch Video >


The great frontline debate 

Another highlight of the evening was watching our speakers and additional guests go head-to-head on a controversial customer experience topic:

"Frontline employees should receive and be able to see direct customer feedback".

Each side (randomly selected on the evening!) had just minutes to prepare their opening arguments, rebuttals and closing retorts. 


The case FOR…

TLDR: Customers are like teeth; let’s avoid curated fluff!
  • “A Wunderman survey of 60 000 customers found that consumers have stopped comparing ‘best in category’; and now compare ‘best customer experience’. It’s no longer enough to be best in class... your experience must hold up against exceptional service from the likes of Netflix, Apple and Amazon. The only way imaginable to run exceptional service delivery is by offering regular and prompt customer feedback to the frontline on how service delivery is going. There is no other way for you as a frontline worker to measure how you are doing without that feedback loop.”
  • “There are potential risks to direct feedback… but it’s easy to imagine mechanisms and safety nets. The value of direct feedback massively outweighs any risk.”
  • “Customers are like your teeth...If you don’t look after them you are going to lose them one by one.”
  • “Regular and un-curated feedback gives the opportunity for micro-learnings, so that people can experiment and try things out on the go.”
  • “It’s about respect and treating people like adults so that they can address areas that are the tip of the iceberg. ‘Curated feedback’ only offers a lead indicator of what’s happening in the business, and we know what happens with icebergs if they are ignored… that didn’t work out so well for the Titanic!”
  • “Direct verbatim feedback helps to develop a level of care and responsibility for customers – that as frontline workers, we impact real people. Curated fluff dehumanises verbatim stories from the customer.”
  • “Insults come quicker than compliments and it's how you balance the two for the right outcome…” (Hang on, isn’t this an argument for the opposition?)
  • “Forbes says that 82% of employees appreciate positive AND negative feedback and 43% of highly engaged employees receive regular feedback.”

The case AGAINST…

TLDR: Pre-chewed food is easier to swallow; customers aren’t always kind.

  • “Let’s rebut some of the analogies; with global warming, icebergs are going away… so that doesn’t work… and if customers are like teeth, then pre-chewed food will make the teeth last longer and the work easier…” 
  • “Frontline workers are often the lowest paid, and want to clock in and out...they are looking for that pre-chewed food to be fed back to them, because even just one or two bad comments could be enough to make them want to quit.”
  • “Thanks for agreeing with us – that all feedback provided back to the frontline through management should be filtered and balanced, so yes that was a very good point. And, we have a stat for you too, and that is that 70% of statistics are actually made up!”
  • “It’s hard not to take direct feedback personally, that can be really unmotivating.”
  • “Some customers are just piiiip and no matter what you do for them, they are going to complain and there is nothing you can say in that moment to make things better…”
  • “And remember – servers are also frontline staff, and if they get bad feedback right way, they might just spit in your food!” (add a couple of emojis – laughing and monkey covering face??)

What was an uproariously funny debate (because how else do you argue against something you might even believe in yourself?) ended with the audience cheering loudest for our winners - those who argued more convincingly for filtered feedback. 

It was loud. It was full of energy. It was unexpected. It was colourful. It was distinctly Frontline Magic Local!

If you’d love to be at the next one... 

Keep an eye on our website for future event announcements


About the Author

Susanne Axelsson
Susanne is the Frontline Community Evangelist as well as the author and researcher for Frontline Magic Handbook. She believes happy customers are born out of great experiences. Great experiences are delivered by motivated frontline people.
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