S4e17 The Competitive Advantage Edition with Ben Motteram

S4e17 The Competitive Advantage Edition with Ben Motteram

James chats with Ben Motteram, an internationally recognised thought leader, corporate advisor and keynote speaker who’s named one of the world’s most influential voices in the field of customer experience.


Through his consultancy CXpert he works with leaders at some of Australia’s most recognisable brands, with the goal of building organisations, employees and customers love is the driving force behind the training core CX management fundamentals, which was launched launched earlier this year, to great acclaim, and provides mentoring to CX managers across the globe.


With over 30 years experience in customer acquisition and retention in Australia and with multinational companies.


They discuss the weather in Melbourne, referencing the competition, contact centres, learning from the best, the oldest businesses in the world, being able to adapt, the future of CX , coffee, competitive advantage.


Contact Ben:


Web: www.cxpert.com.au
Twitter: @cxpert
LinnkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/benmotteram/

Click For Full Transcription

James Nathan  00:00

Hello, and welcome to The Only One Business Show and thank you so much for being with me again this week and another great guest in fact a fabulous guest all the way from Melbourne, Australia. This gentleman is an internationally recognised thought leader, corporate advisor and keynote speaker who’s named one of the world’s most influential voices in the field of customer experience. Through his consultancy CX expert he works with leaders at some of Australia’s most recognisable brands, with the goal of building organisations, employees and customers love is the driving force behind the training core CX management fundamentals, which was launched launched earlier this year, to great acclaim, and provides mentoring to CX managers across the globe. With over 30 years experience in customer acquisition and retention in Australia and with multinational companies, he has worked as both a CX practitioner and as a consultant. Born in Sydney, raised in Adelaide, and for the last 21 years lived in Melbourne. Please welcome Ben Motteram. Ben, how are you?


Ben Motteram  01:52

James? I’m fantastic. Ian, thank you for having me on the show. It’s an honour.


James Nathan  01:57

Ah, it’s a pleasure. How’s the weather in Melbourne today? It’s usually raining there I believe.


Ben Motteram  02:01

We’re not like Seattle. It’s four seasons in one day in Melbourne. If you’d if you don’t like the weather, just give it half an hour. And we’ll get something different. But today was actually 19 degrees and sunny and so we’re sort of getting into spring now. And I’m very much looking forward to what’s ahead of us because spring is just a beautiful time of year in Melbourne.


James Nathan  02:23

Well, I am being a bit facetious. I mentioned to you before we went on air that I’ve spent a lot of years of my life in Melbourne, where my grandparents lived and being from Perth there’s a natural rivalry between West Australians and Victorians, I know you’re not a Victorian, but 21 years makes you close. Carry an umbrella is what we always say. Yeah, exactly. Because you’ll be needing it.


Ben Motteram  02:45

And you wea layers over here. Because you know, if it gets once it starts getting more, you just peel off a layer and keep going.


James Nathan  02:46

It’s a great city, though. Very, very fun place to visit, if you haven’t been to Melbourne, go and go hungry, because the eating there is extraordinary. They have stolen every one of Australia’s biggest sporting matches, though and stuck it in their town, which I think is a bit rough. But other than that, tell me, tell me, Ben, how did you get into CX? How did that become your world?


Ben Motteram  03:15

Yes. So everyone’s got a different story about how they got into CX. And my story is that I was working in, in sales and marketing for many years. And so that’s where the customer acquisition and retention strategies were, were being implemented. In 2013, I was working with a company that sold customer contact centres and they developed this little programme that collected customer feedback at the end of calls. And I was looking at, you know, how could I sell this sell this solution to customers and so I started to read up about what customer feedback could do for a company. And that led me into the customer experience blogs and I started devouring the white papers and reading the books and watching videos and everything that I was watching sort of resonated with me and aligned with my beliefs about how organisations should grow and that’s by focusing on their customers and understanding their needs and then delivering to that and so after about 12 months with that company, I opened the doors of CXpert, my consulting company and have been advising customers ever since then on things like feedback programmes journey, mapping strategy, employee engagement and culture. You know, all the things that will help them put the customer at the heart of their business.


James Nathan  04:46

Fantastic and it’s interesting to talk to people from different countries because it’s… a lot of the guests I have on this show out of the States. Some of the reason behind that is that the certainly the customer experience world There is far more advanced or, or certainly has been a bigger who had had greater focus for a longer time. And the UK certainly catching up. But what’s things like in Australia? What is what’s the focus on customer experience like there?


Ben Motteram  05:15

Were we took a little longer to catch the customer experience bug. And I think that that is firstly, it’s a function of the fact that we don’t have the populations that you have in, in the UK in the US. So it’s not as competitive but, but the other thing, the other reason is, is that Australia and this was taught to me when I was doing an MBA is one big oligopoly. So every industry that I can think of is dominated by a small number of large organisations. Now you think about banking, you’ve got the big four banks, telecommunications, you’ve got Telstra and Optus, mining, Rio Tinto and BHP, retailing, you know, the department stores, the airlines, you know, Qantas and Virgin. I mean, you name it, there’s a maximum of three to four large competitors in every industry. So as a result, you know, competitors tend to collude to maximise profits. So what you find in oligopolies is that competition is reduced, innovation is stifled, prices are higher, there’s there’s little to no incentive to provide great customer service. And for employees in those industries, wages tend to be lower.


James Nathan  06:32

Okay. And so how is that changing, then?


Ben Motteram  06:36

Well, you know, we’re seeing what we’re seeing now is, you know, companies like Apple and Amazon, they’re starting to penetrate the Australian market, and consumers are starting to see what great customer service looks like. And, you know, when consumers are all powerful, these days, right, so, so the smartphones in their pockets, enable them to quickly reference one another, check your, your pricing against that of your competitors, be that be that competitor down the street, or in another state of Australia, or indeed, anywhere else in the world. And it also enables consumers to broadcast what they’re feeling to potentially millions of people through social media. So, you know, they have a huge amount of choice and a less tolerant than ever before of poor service. So, so they’re benchmarks for service, and not just the best companies in your industry, but the best service companies in the world period. And it’s why I say that the only sustainable competitive advantage is an exceptional customer experience. Everything else a business does can be copied, you know, location manufacturing process, a sales offer, a design, it can all be copied. So businesses therefore need to have a deep understanding of a customer’s needs both stated and unstated, and consistently meet and exceed their expectations.


James Nathan  08:08

It’s interesting what you’re saying there because I, I kind of, my experience of Australia and having, you know, travelled a lot is that there certainly in the retail world, there is a very high focus on looking after people. You walk into a shop and the first… you know, Hi, how are you today? Can I help you in a lot of places. I know, that’s not true in every place, but there’s a lot more of that. In the, you know, the hospitality world, you walk into a cafe, and it’s a welcoming experience, where similar to the States. Where in the UK, it’s not the case, you know, you can walk into a shop and no one will come near you, you know, and it’s and I find that quite baffling and annoying, actually, because you know, how well how good things could be. Some chains certainly have it right. And some also independents obviously, are very good at it. But the bigger businesses tend not to be as great in the retail world, which is where you’d expect it to be awesome. Hospitality is hospitality. And that’s going to be, you know, you would hope well, well looked after. But what you said then was quite interesting about who you compare with, because my feeling is really as simple as that we compare with the last service that we got, or the last experience that we had. And it’s not necessarily our competitors were comparing with it could be absolutely anything. You know, I walk in to buy a pair of shoes, and I have a great customer experience. And I walk into a restaurant I don’t and I’m comparing directly the experience I’ve just had with the experience I previously had. How can we how can we leverage that within our businesses? What can our businesses learn? Or what can they do to think right? Well, I know that’s how people compare so how do I step up my game?


Ben Motteram  09:56

Well, I mean, you look at, you look at what the best companies in the world of doing. And I was listening to the episode just this morning that you recorded about Nordstrom. And sorry, the name of the gentleman slips my mind at the moment, but it was, you know, fascinating and so don’t look at, you know what the best companies in your industry are doing and aim to get to that level, look at what the best companies in the world are doing, you know, you, your Apples, your Amazon’s, your your Nordstrom, your your Ritz Carlton and Disney, we know, we know all the names. They’re all they’ve been written about ad infinitum, Zappos. And I know that, you know, all these names have come up on the podcast in the past. But, you know, so look at what they’re doing. And yes, of course, there’ll be some things that you won’t be able to copy, you know, for example, Amazon’s fulfilment, because of that you don’t have that size, but there will be things that you can take away from them that you can implement in your business that will help you deliver the experience that you want to deliver.


James Nathan  11:02

What you’ve just said there I really like. Robert Spector is the guy who wrote that book. And he a fascinating guy, because if you’ve ever walked into a Nordstrom store, and I’ll I was in New York a few weeks ago, for our wedding anniversary, and Mandy and I’d never been before what a fabulous city that is. And I saw Nordstrom and said I’m going in there right now. Why? I just need to see what it’s like, you know, and although having talked about it a long time, but what you’re saying about learning from businesses…. And that’s an interesting thing, because people go oh, yeah, well, you know, there these guys, are there those guys so we I can’t compare with that. But there are so many lessons to be learned and so much to gain from understanding how these bigger businesses operate. Not even bigger? These successful business operate? Because some of the most successful businesses around us are not the big boys. You know, they’re businesses that have been running for hundreds of years, in some places, with have grown to what is a comfortable size for them?


Ben Motteram  12:05

That’s right. Yeah. You know, yeah. And yeah, sorry, James. Yeah, I was gonna say that the the most the companies that if you ever look on Wikipedia, look this up the other day, the oldest businesses in the world were founded between 578 and 771 AD. So these, these companies have been going…. the oldest business in the world, which is a construction company, which actually I did some further research into it this afternoon. And it’s actually folded since then, they went into debt in the 1980s, after, you know, 1400 years, 1400 years of operation, it was a construction company. But then after that there’s three hotels, and a ceremonial paper goods company, but do you know what these five businesses have in common?


James Nathan  13:01

No, tell me.


Ben Motteram  13:02

They’re all Japanese. And so what what, okay, so these companies between 578 and 771 AD, so they’ve all been operating for hundreds, if not, over 1000 years. What what is it about? You know, what is it about those that those businesses that have led to them being, you know, open for this long? Is it because Japanese customers tend to be more loyal? You know, is that it? Is it because, you know, people…. the children tend to join the business and then continue the traditions of the business? I don’t know, I think I’d be really… And I’d also be really interested to know what the longest customer relationship they have is, because these are obviously, you know, generational businesses that have been around for like 40 generations, do customers maintain their relationships with the business as well. It’d be a fascinating case study, or book, if anyone ever decided to write it.


James Nathan  14:04

Well, now you’ve got me thinking, I don’t know a lot about Japanese business. But now I need to, and are really interested in it good when you talk about it, like a construction company that has been around that long, but then it goes under? You know, I first thing I think is what happened? And then I think about dinosaurs because people go on, you know, dinosaurs weren’t successful well they had a few 100 million years, so they were pretty decent. You know, this business has obviously been a very good business for a while, but what changed and why didn’t they adapt? Or how didn’t they adapt? Because that’s the thing that kills most business now isn’t it, you know, the two things that go wrong one is you run out of money. Well, that’s how businesses fold. But the other thing is that they don’t, don’t foresee the future enough.


Ben Motteram  14:46

That’s right. And actually, I think it was, I think it was Mr. Spector’s advice is one golden nugget at the end of his show where he talked about flexing and being able to adapt to what’s happening in the external environment.


James Nathan  15:02

Well, that’s that’s the thing that, that I think I think about more than anything else at the moment when I’m talking with businesses is, what does the future look like? And what do you need to do to be successful then? You know, and there’s some great futurists around who talk, you know, about wonderful things. But also, how do we develop our customer experience for the future so that it engages with people as their expectations change? What would you say is the kind of….  customer experience more important now than it was before? Is that moving?


Ben Motteram  15:39

I think absolutely I think it is. I think because customers are more powerful than ever. Because that, you know, they are, they have the ability to kill a business with a viral tweet, you know, that, I think when… businesses need to be focusing on customers more than ever before, you know, it was Forrester, a few years ago, that coined the term that we you know, we are living in the age of the customer. You know, businesses need to recognise that and, and, you know, as I say, understand customer needs, and deliver to their expectations, better than they ever have better than their competitors.


James Nathan  16:24

But that, that age of the customer thing, I mean, come on, really? The customer has never been more or less important, or more important, the customer is always the only reason we have a business. Without clients and customers were nothing, you know, and when people talk about, you know, the age of the customer, I think, okay, look, it’s…. that’s interesting. But if you’re now thinking about your customer, what have you been doing before now?


Ben Motteram  16:52

It’s got me. Focusing on costs, focusing on short term goals. You know, you should be thinking about business in not in terms of your quarterly targets, or your tenure within your business, but you need to be thinking about it in terms of, you know, these these Japanese companies that have lasted for hundreds of years, you know, it’s businesses, it doesn’t end, you know, at the end of the financial year, you know, it’s an infinite game. And if you haven’t read that book by Simon Sinek, it really is a fantastic, a fantastic book, and, and a way that you should be thinking about business.


James Nathan  17:36

Well, I really liked Simon Sinek. And I, like, you know, if I, even if I think back to, you know, reading Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, you know, it’s a similar thing, isn’t it? Start with the end in mind. You know, and, and I think that that’s something that we need to, to consider a little bit more every day is where am I going with this? What does it look like? And what’s the experience that people have? Flipping over a little bit, though, there’s, there’s a big push towards bringing in CX professionals and consultants into businesses, making sure that that the you know, that’s, it’s becoming a more recognised profession, I guess, alongside what we would have previously considered to be, you know, customer management or relationship management professionals? How do you become a CX professional? How do you get involved in that industry? Or this industry?


Ben Motteram  18:28

Yeah, it’s a great question. Because, you know, there isn’t, there aren’t courses out there that universities offer, to my knowledge that that you can do to become a CX manager. So you know, recognising that over over locked down, and you mentioned before we started recording today that Britain had one lockdown. Here in Melbourne, we had six, you know, there was someone’d to catch COVID, and bank would be back into lockdown. And they would say, it’s a two week lockdown, just to stop the spread. And then three months later, we would come out, it was just ridiculous. So, you know, the businesses across Melbourne were just impacted horribly, and including my consulting business. So what I did, whilst you know, during that period was actually, you know, co-design a CX training course, which is for people who aren’t in customer experience, who want to understand a little bit more about about customer experience or want to add, you know, increase their value to an organisation by having a great understanding of another part of the business and I should mention that people that are new to a CX management role will also get something out of it. But you know, I haven’t seen these courses available before and prior to now, you know, you’ve had to buy the books and read them. You’ve had to read the white papers, you had to read the blogs and incidentally, when I started up CXpert in 2014, the blog that I went to was from another previous guest on your, on your show. Annette Franz, her blog CX Journey is, you know, is just phenomenal. The, you know, the amount of times that I’ve had an idea, a great idea for a post, and then gone to her blog to see if she’s written about it and thinking that I, it’s, and there it is, and I just, I put down the pen and I go, right, okay, it’s been hard.


James Nathan  20:32

Don’t do that. No, no, no, it has your own spin. Everyone has their you know…. Annette’s great, but Annette’s thoughts are Annette’s thoughts.


Ben Motteram  20:43

Yeah, no, it’s true. And she said exactly the same thing. But so now I just don’t go looking first. But yeah, she… it’s a great blog. But but the the other resource, James is your own show. I mean, when I’m in Melbourne, I really enjoy taking a walk in the morning, which is about, you know, eight and a half K’s, it’s about an hour and a half, which means that I can get two episodes of your show in and, you know, I started listening to it, I wasn’t aware of it, to be honest with you. And when you asked me to be on the show, I started listening to it to, you know, basically get an understanding of how it all worked. And it was just, it’s just awesome. So, you know, no, it really is a great show. And, you know, the people that you have on are just the calibre of them, and the insights that they provide, is just fantastic. And, you know, I’ll be recommending this show to anybody who wants to get better understanding of, you know, how, you know, CX management, for sure.


James Nathan  21:42

That’s, that’s very, very kind of you. And it’s important that people do look for resources that work for them. If it’s this pod, brilliant, thank you, if it’s others, there are dozens. There are lots of people talking about a lot of things. And I think that what’s most important is that you get a broad voice. That you hear from different kinds of people, you get different understanding, you know, I’m now really fascinated by why those Japanese businesses are the oldest businesses in the world, there will be good reasons behind it, but they’ll also be good learnings from it. And you know, the only the only learning that’s worth doing is the one that we do something with. It’s great to learn for the sake of learning, but in business, it’s great to learn and then do something, you know, it’s been I catch cry for years, you know, hopefully, it’ll give you something to think about today. Think about it, and then see what you can do with it. And, you know, Annette is great, but there really are some amazing people who, who do a lot of great things. And most of them don’t sing about themselves too loudly, you know, they get on and do it. Quiet achievers, you know, and that’s that’s quite an interesting thing as well. But what they do resonates hugely through the businesses they work with, what’s going on, and I’m going to happen in the future to CX where’s it all moving to?


Ben Motteram  23:07

Well, it’s a good, good question. The, you know, we’re seeing…. well personalization has always been the goal. So mass personalization, so being able to deliver an individual experience to a customer, you know, based on their unique wants or needs. You know, expectations is, is one way that CX has been heading for a while, but you know, that the, I think that they’re only now just starting to be able to deliver it. I guess the other thing that they’re talking about now is is AI and so being able to deliver, yeah, human like service through through a bot. You know, we’re, I’m interested in what you think, James, where do you think CX is headed from here?


James Nathan  23:59

Well, I do want to pick up on the AI thing, because I think that’s quite interesting. And we’ve talked about that a lot in the last few weeks about what how, you know, is it a shiny penny? And is it any good? You know, and I think actually, to be honest, a lot of the AI stuff that we’re seeing is not good enough yet. It’s a…. it looks like a good idea. But it doesn’t actually give the customer experience we want it to give the technology certainly moving. What it’s very good at is being used in businesses like me, you mentioned Amazon, Amazon are very good at anticipating your purchasing…. what you might want to purchase by using the data they’ve got. So there’s a lot we can do with AI to to help us personalise the service for our customers. The future is going to certainly be moving in that direction and people are very keen to make sure that they’re using the best technology. My thoughts around that are use it for the right reasons. Good tech is good tech if it helps. It’s not good tech if it doesn’t I think you know, we get back to golf again. I’ve got it. I mentioned on this thing I started playing golf a while ago. I think you played do you?


Ben Motteram  25:14

I do. I’m a, I’m a bit of a golfing tragic, to be honest.


James Nathan  25:17

You know, I’m one of these guys that you know, you take picks up a hobby and, and then just does everything I can to learn as much as possible about everything you know, and it annoys the hell out of my family. You know, I play guitar, and it’s the same with that. And, you know, when I think about the tech that comes around the golfing world, it’s developing and developing and developing all the time. But if it doesn’t help you play better golf, is just a nice gadget to mess about with. And it’s the same with CX in our business. If you’re changing things changing for reasons that make, make a difference, don’t change them, because you’ve heard about CX and you think you need to be doing something about it. It’s just a different definition of looking after your clients and making sure that they enjoy working with you. So they want to do it again. You know, you can walk into… Melbourne, Melbourne…. when I think of Melbourne, I think of going down to St Kilda and having a coffee and the old. The old coffee shops that my grandparents used to go into there used to be one called the Blue Danube, which was a kind of Austrian place and it would be full of old Polish Jews basically just drinking cups of tea and chatting. And they would go there always. And there were lots of options, but they went there because they enjoyed being there. And we want that, that feeling of, you know, people enjoying being in the place, working with us so they want to work with us. That’s the goal surely, and then making that profitable.


Ben Motteram  26:54

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I buy a coffee every single day. So you know, it’s one of the things that I purchase the most. And I could go to any number of cafes around here. But you know, in Melbourne, there’s a coffee shop on every corner. It’s it’s crazy. I mean, Melbourne is known for those who don’t know, Melbourne is the coffee capital of the world at least that’s what they like to think of themselves. Ourselves, I should say, and but, you know, the coffee shop, I go to, the cafe I go to, I walked in the door one day and ordered my coffee and which is a soy latte and sat down. The next day I came back in again. And Sristi who is the barista who I now know by name, said to me, would you like the same order as you had yesterday Ben? And so you know, she, she had gotten my names because I got to take away coffee and so she remembered not just my order, but my name. And I’ll go back to that cafe now for as long as there there because and I’m in still in the area. Because it’s because I do I want to be there. They make me feel welcome. And, you know, it’s just those little touches that, you know, that have led to that loyalty from me.


James Nathan  28:14

Fantastic. And you know, if I if we start talking about coffee, then I’ll get on a high horse and coffee is one of my favourite things to chat about and we could probably go on for for a while talking about that as well. But we’re before we wind up and you know, one big last question for you if that’s okay? Ben, what’s your big thing? What’s your one golden nugget, the thing that you could do in your business today? Well, people can take away and doing their business today to make their business better for today and better for the years to come. What would that be?


Ben Motteram  28:46

Okay, so if it’s okay with you, James, I’ve actually got two, but different audiences for both that so. So for business owners define your purpose, the reason you exist, and it’s and it’s not to put food on your table or create shareholder wealth. That’s an outcome. So it’s the problems that you solve for customers, the reason why the world is a better place with you in it. And what you need to do is make it simple so that it can be easily communicated to customers, employees, partners and suppliers and make it what Simon Sinek calls in his book, The Infinite Game, your just cause and unite people behind it, and use it as the lens through which all decisions actions and investments are evaluated to ensure that they are consistent with your why your why you exist.


James Nathan  29:34

Very good advice. That’s your first one…


Ben Motteram  29:37

But I figured that there might also be some frontline employees who listen to the podcast and my golden nugget for them is pretty simple. It’s the golden rule. So treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.


James Nathan  29:51

I don’t think we could finish on a better statement. Ben. That’s fantastic. Thank you so much. been great chatting with you,


Ben Motteram  29:58

James. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you. Go for having me on.


James Nathan  30:01

My pleasure.




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