Nancy Porte Show Notes
Nancy Porte was in customer service and knew that many of the problems they were reacting to should have never happened in the first place. So she decided to take on new job responsibilities with no additional pay increase to prove her point. The light bulbs came on above executive’s heads when she revealed her findings and it’s something she can never forget.
Nancy was born in a small town in South Dakota and lived her early life on a wheat farm. Early in life her parents decided to move the family of 8 from the farm to the city. In the process they lived in a number of places and eventually settled in Spokane, Washington.
Because she was from such a large family, a 4-year college education was out of reach. But through a combination of determination, some planning and a bit of luck, she earned her degree and started a career that would have some unpredictable twists and turns!
Starting as a health care practitioner, she currently holds a customer experience leadership position in a Top 100 global software company! In between the two jobs there have been some amazing adventures – and each unique job helped prepare her for the job of her dreams – making experiences better for customers!
Nancy is the Vice President of Global Customer Experience for Verint. She focuses on bringing the voice of the customer into the organization and developing strategies to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention. She has experience in developing differentiated customer experience through cross-functional collaboration and employee engagement programs. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and, as a customer experience thought leader, is a primary contributor to the Verint blog and a regular speaker at industry conferences.
She is proud of her work in customer experience. The profession is new but, somehow, she has always known it was what she was meant to do. She has great passion about the potential for this career and hope that the work that she is doing is laying the groundwork and helping build a profession will be available to others in coming years and decades.
Nancy lives in northern Virginia with her husband, Phil. Her two children have graduated from college and are launching successful careers.
Tweetable Quotes and Mentions
“Everyday employees walk in the door wanting to do the very best job possible.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Are we rewarding employees for the work that they’re doing with customers?” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Employee engagement is absolutely key to customer experience.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“A lot of the time it’s the way you’re solving the problem.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Taking risks, having failures here and there, it’s not always a bad thing.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“If this shortens my life I want to live every minute and I should be happy.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“We do have limited time and we have to make the most of it.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Don’t be afraid to work really hard for something you know is right.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“The customer viewpoint is important to us doing well as a business.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Passion for the customer is contagious.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“One of my goals is to focus on my goals.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Hire the person with the people skills and train for technical skills.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Perfection is boring. Take a few risks.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
“Don’t try to be the best at everything – have a little more fun.” -Nancy Porte Click to Tweet
Hump to Get Over
Nancy Porte was in customer service and knew that many of the problems they were reacting to should have never happened in the first place. So she decided to take on new job responsibilities with no additional pay increase to prove her point. And the look on the executive’s faces when she revealed here findings is something she can never forget.
Advice for others
Perfection is boring, take a few risks, don’t try to be the best at everything, have a little more fun.
Holding her back from being an even better leader
Focus and prioritization.
Best Leadership Advice Received
If you have two people that you’re deciding between to hire, hire the person with the people skills and train the technical skills.
Secret to Success
I always expect the best of people.
Best tools that helps in Business or Life
I have an operational background.
email: nancy.porte [at] verint.com
Resources and Show Mentions
54 Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Competencies List: Emotional Intelligence has proven to be the right kind of intelligence to have if you want to move onward and upward faster. Get your free list today.
Show Transcript:Click to access edited transcript
Jim Rembach: Welcome to the Fast Leader podcast where we explore convenient yet effective shortcuts that will help you get ahead and move forward faster by becoming a better leader. And now here’s your host customer and employee engagement expert and certified emotional intelligence practitioner, Jim Rembach.
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Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader legion, today I’m excited because I get to share with you one of my favorite people in the world. Nancy Porte was born in a small town in South Dakota and lift her early life on a wheat farm. Early in her life her parents decided to move the family of eight from the farm to the city. In the process they lived in a number of places and eventually settled in Spokane, Washington. Because she was from such a large family a four-year college education was out of reach but through a combination of determination, some planning and a bit of luck she earned her degree and started a career that would have some unpredictable twists and turns. Starting as a health care practitioner and then telling the CEO that she wanted his job she began being mentored in hospital management and then when he left she left and began with a tiny startup call career builder. Now she currently holds a customer experience leadership position in a top 100 global software company.
Nancy is the Vice President of Global Customer Experience for Verint. She focuses on bringing the voice of the customer into the organization and developing strategies to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention. She has experience in developing differentiated customer experience through cross-functional collaboration and employee engagement programs. She is a certified customer experience professional and as a customer experience thought leader is a primary contributor to the Varun blog and a regular speaker at industry conferences. She is proud of her work in customer experience the profession is new somehow she has always known it was where she was meant to be. She has great passion about the potential for the career and has hope that the work that she is doing is laying the groundwork for helping build a profession that will be available to others in coming years and decades. Nancy currently lives in Northern Virginia with her husband Phil and her two children that have graduated from college and are launching successful careers themselves. Nancy Porte are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Nancy Porte: I am. Thank you Jim.
Jim Rembach: I’m glad you’re here. I’ve given our Legion a little bit about you but can you tell us what your current passion is so that we can get to know you even better.
Nancy Porte: Yeah, absolutely and thank you for that very nice introduction Jim. My current passion is, of course, customers experience with us of course, of course, of course front and center but my real passion is around employee engagement. I really believe that every day the employees walk in the door wanting to do the very best job possible and because of our systems, and our processes, or our training we put obstacles in their way. So we’ve been working really hard the last few months to take what we know about what customers expect and work directly with customers in every single role of art of our organization not just customer facing either but customer impacting.
If you think about it, the finance people that maybe never talk with their customer necessarily but put out a wrong bill impact the customer experience as much as the person and customer service. So we’re working with each one of the employees and saying, here’s our guiding principle this is what customers want, what does that mean in your role? What are the behaviors that we specifically can get in your role and expect for everyone in your role? So we’re training to that but these are the behaviors that the employees themselves identify and then we train to that. We’re also looking at our performance management systems and our reward systems to make sure that we’re aligning that with the customer experience. So we want to say, are we rewarding employees for the work that they’re doing with customers? Because that’s so important to us. So I believe employee engagement is absolutely key to the customer experience, so that that’s really where my passion lies these days.
Jim Rembach: Well, thanks for sharing that. I think you bring up a really interesting point and as you were talking I started thinking about visibility and that as an employee who is responsible for working on projects or handling you know certain tasks or aspects or areas of the business, oftentimes, I don’t see how me doing what I do affects or impacts our customers.
Nancy Porte: Exactly. That came home to me one time. I was talking about the value of customer experience at a company meeting and how we all had an impact and I realized that there were some people a little farther away from the customer who might not know their impact but the first person who came and talked to me about it was someone in account management. And I’m not kidding they said, I’m not sure of my impact on the customer and like, oh that hurts but oh, and so what I learned from that was because she was so genuine and she really wanted to understand her impact to our customers and I said you have one of the largest impacts in the company you’re talking with customers every day and helping make them successful. And she said, yes, but what’s my impact at the end of the day? What’s my impact?
So now I don’t take anything for granted. I don’t say, okay, let’s just work with people a couple steps away from the customer and teach them their impact. We work with everybody and really talk about their impact on the customer and what it means to the business ultimately.
Jim Rembach: You know, I think that that’s such an important foundational and groundwork component that oftentimes folks just really overlook. I jokingly tell people so they can kind of see the somewhat humor but then also reality in what you’re talking about in a call center environment. And I said you know what? The janitor who cleans our bathrooms impacts the customer experience.
Nancy Porte: Absolutely,
Jim Rembach: They’re what? And I’m like, you think about this, what do you think and feel when you go into a bathroom and it’s absolutely filthy? Don’t you think that that actually gets taken out onto the floor and it now becomes part of the interaction with the next customer who you have to interact with?
Nancy Porte: Yeah. Yeah, I’m going to steal that Jim, I like that.
Jim Rembach: It absolutely does. But we don’t think about those things and the reason we don’t think about those things is because nobody’s really made them visible for us.
Nancy Porte: Yes it’s true, it’s true. And in the person after the account manager that asked me that was the person who was receptionist at the front desk and she makes such an impact as customers come into our office I loved it. Recently I was in an office where they name their front receptionist the Director of First Impressions, and so I love that. I felt like that was a customer-centric company that had the foresight to in the title show that person the impact that they had on customers.
Jim Rembach: And I would say for anybody who is thinking that creatively don’t let others stop you from doing that because they’ll say, oh, well it’s just semantics and that is not true.
Nancy Porte: Absolutely.
Jim Rembach: We have proven over and over that those sticks and stones absolutely do hurt us, they do and they influence us they impact us. So doing some of those creative things that causes pause is really important.
Nancy Porte: Yeah, and it impacts not only that employee that has that creative title but as others are coming in it tells them something about your company. So there’s a lot more to it.
Jim Rembach: There absolutely is there’s a whole neuroscience, I mean we’re learning more and more about what causes us to do the things that we do and what averts us from doing things, averting customers from doing the things that we want them to do and a lot of things are just part of the interplay. Now it’s not to say that doing all of these things and chasing all these shiny objects, you and I talked off mic about chasing shiny objects, is the right thing to do and it is formulaic so there’s a lot of different things that you should be doing in concert with one another that in holistic nature would have a greater impact.
Nancy Porte: Right. Absolutely.
Jim Rembach: So when you start thinking about some of this work and this foundational work where would you say the group or the people that you’ve worked with have had the most difficulty in seeing their visibility to the customer?
Nancy Porte: It’s not who you would think. Again, I’m surprised that some of the customer impacting departments what some might call back office they often understand their impact more and where I’m working is with a lot of the customer facing departments and showing them their impact. Even customer support might say, listen I’m just solving problems it’s not a big deal, but what we talk about is a lot of times it’s the way you’re solving the problem. In customers like for example proactive communication and it’s very easy for an engineer to say, it’s going to take me three days to solve this problem but he’s thinking it to himself not expressing that to the customer. And he knows it doesn’t make any sense to call the customer back if I don’t have anything going on I will call him at the end of three days and tell them that’s the solution so what the customer really wants is to know you’re still working on it.
5So what we did was we actually measured customer satisfaction in support before we started a soft skills training and implemented a new process around communicating every 24 hours to our customers. And even if you didn’t have an update let the customer know we’re concerned about this issue we’re working on it will get back to you as soon as possible. Our satisfaction went up ten points just on the fact that we were communicating more effectively that the length of time it took to resolve the issue did not decrease but they felt it had decreased. So I think there’s a lot to be said looking at what your customers expect. If they expect proactive communication how do you build that in not just in the sales process but even in the support team the account management team everywhere.
Jim Rembach: Well, I think I’d be hard pressed find—there can’t be many groups where that whole proactive communication piece couldn’t add value to the customer relationship. With everything that all of us have going on these days knowing that somebody is still carrying forward on the promise and that your expectation is actually being executed upon, it’s key.
Nancy Porte: It’s key, its key.
Jim Rembach: To the point where you’re talking about ten percentage point. Now you’re telling me ten percentage point and I’ve been dealing with metrics and analytics and customer experience for going almost on two decades now so when you start talking about ten points, make that more real to us, what does that mean?
Nancy Porte: Ten points is a huge increase for satisfaction and I don’t care where you start if you’re looking at a ten point increase that is a dial move that is substantial for your customers, so yeah, it’s not small.
Jim Rembach: And so to make this more real there’s companies that I’ve known who spent literally millions and millions of dollars just trying to get one or two percentage points, you’re talking about a double digit.
Nancy Porte: Yes, true. And often—when you first starting to make change you get a larger bump and your increase in satisfaction and then you really start having to work very, very hard just a little bit, but at the same time nobody gives away that ten points they’re going to keep that and move on from there.
Jim Rembach: That’s a great point. So when you start thinking about the employee engagement component and you mentioned something about the way that you’re actually recognizing folks for that engagement piece. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of folks about you know motivation and engagement and you know short-term gain long-term loss in regards to rewards and recognition and you’re talking about that particular area of driving performance has a lot of slippery slopes with it . When you start thinking about the work that you’re doing, how are you actually making that connection so it doesn’t create a damaging effect?
Nancy Porte: I think you’re exactly right it can easily cause a damaging effect I think where I look at it is it has to be authentic it has to be an authentic reward it can’t just be something that it’s all fluff and that it happens this quarter but doesn’t happen the next quarter. So besides being authentic this is truly an award we’re really looking for the people who are making an impact. I also like making it appear reward so having it nominated by co-workers I think means more to a lot of our employees to be recognized by their co-workers is kind of more gratifying even than your manager, although we want both.
Jim Rembach: I think you bring up a good point it has to be multifaceted it can’t be just one side because even –I’ve seen a lot of these particular types of recognition programs where it almost becomes you know like a pageant show you, the favorite person gets all the rewards and then the other folks especially the one who’s Miss Congeniality didn’t get anything so you have to make sure that you look at that in a lot of different ways. So, what we’re talking about here, customer experience, employee engagement I mean there’s a whole lot of passion that can revolve around all of this and we look to quotes on the fast leaders show to kind of help drive some passion, is there a quote or two that you can share?
Nancy Porte: Jim recently we lost one of my, I would say big influences, Mary Tyler Moore I know she’s a celebrity we lost her recently and she really was an icon in the 70’s for working women and the more I looked at what she did in her life she had a quote that I really have always liked and she said, “You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” And I love that because I think we think that bad things are just really really bad things but when we look back on our career our lives we realize a lot of those made us who we are today and made us better. And so taking risks having failures here and there—it’s not always a bad thing and it really does help us be better and it helps us be grateful.
Jim Rembach: I think that’s a really important point. I had the opportunity during one of my interview of Kirk Weisler, he was off mic talked about a friend of his who was actually diagnosed with cancer, and I know you’re a survivor and we’re glad you’re here and hoping that you’re cancer-free for the rest of your day, he was talking about how he was almost afraid to approach his friend because he had found out through others that he was given this diagnosis. And so he decided to finally got over his apprehension to address and approach them and he went to his house and he was having a party and he couldn’t understand why this guy was having a party because he got diagnosed with cancer he goes, look there’s many ways that I can actually take this diagnosis and he goes, I have to take it as a positive and an opportunity because if not that in itself will kill me.
Nancy Porte: Yes. I was diagnosed as you said with cancer. It was 17 years ago and some people would ask me they’d say, are you asking yourself why me? And I said, absolutely not, I’m not. I didn’t get an immunity stick at the at the beginning that I remember so I would have just as good a chance as anyone else but it did give me that perspective. I thought well, no matter how you’re looking at it if I’m going to live now a long life and the cancer is just a blip on the screen I should be happy. On the other hand, if this shortens my life I want to live every minute and I should be happy. So, it was really my conclusion to be as positive as I could through the whole the event because no matter what disease process we have or don’t have we do have limited time and we have to make the most of it.
Jim Rembach: That’s right. As they say it’s not how you got knocked down it’s how you get up. Okay, so, just talking about—we talked about getting over some of these humps on the fast leader show, we just talked about one that you’ve got over and hopefully you’ll never have to go over it again but is there a story that you can share that you’ve had a great learning from.
Nancy Porte: I’ll go back to customer experience on my learning event because I originally started in customer service. When I went to the tech company that originally started this and and then became career builder I was on the customer service side and I loved the customer part. The part that I always thought was short-sighted was the fact that we were reactive we were fixing problems and I just knew that some of those problems should never have happened in the first place. So wouldn’t it be great if we talked with customers, found out what they expected found out their side of these issues and fix them earlier in their—we would have said the process now we say it their journey. So, what I wanted to do and I think this was a big kind of hump in my career was four years what I wanted to do was survey the customers, find out what they wanted and then fix things in the company that would make customers happier. At that time there was no role for that and I went and talk to my CEO, I go, this is what I want to do. And he said, well there’s not a job for that you need to do customer service. So, I retrenched I went back to him numerous times finally I said, what if I do this in addition to my job? What if we just start easy and I do a survey to the customers? And we asked him how are we doing with you and there anything we can do that would make things better? He said, sure if you want to do your regular job and that job that’s fine. So, we started with the survey the survey was such an eye opener, again remember this was in the day we weren’t asking customers a lot about what they thought, so, the survey was such an eye opener to the whole management team in that company and then from there we started doing some other things to make things better in the organization. So, I guess what it taught me, my lesson on that, was don’t be afraid to work really, really hard for something you know is right. For a long time I did two jobs because I had my day job but I knew this other job was going to impact the business and it’s was going to be valuable. I knew the customer viewpoint was important to us doing well as business and I just felt it in my bones. And so I did that job in addition to my job and eventually it turned into a job and we called it customer experience.
Jim Rembach: Thanks for sharing that. I started thinking about how the typical approach is when people want to do what you actually executed. They talk about well we need to build a business case, business case, business case we need to show ROI, we need to show all these you know statistical things associated with but based on what you’re just telling me that’s almost like a lazy way of trying to get it done.
Nancy Porte: Well, I’ve done that approach too in different ways and business cases can be hard to put together but it I think there’s nothing wrong with putting a lot of work into it improving the case doing some pilot projects and doing a proof of concept because it illustrates so much better what you put impact there can be. So, yeah, I could have done a whole business case around this and said this will work and this will bring the ROI to the company. But I can tell you I don’t think it would had nearly the impact as that first flood of customer feedback that we received it brought the voice into the business. And when I think back and see the light bulbs that came on above the executive heads in that boardroom, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that, it was definitely the right way to go for me.
Jim Rembach: Well, I mean, it should be for most of us and I think we need to take this valuable lesson is that, it’s too easy for people to poke holes in your business case but when you’re showing them actual proof and validation, how you can slough that off?
Nancy Porte: I agree. I also think there’s a fair a component here of passion is contagious and the customer has been my passion for so long. And I see other people that have this same passion and we see it in our in our meetings when all of us customer people get together and it’s so contagious. And the fire lights you can pass that torch to people when you have a passion around something, so I think they saw a lot of that too I just knew it was the right thing to do.
Jim Rembach: So I think for you when you start talking about doing that you’ve created really a career out of it . And how many years ago was that? Not to date you or anything but that was a while back.
Nancy Porte: Well, I’ve had my—well I’ll tell this, this this will help not date me. I have had a pure customer experience job for the last three and a half years here at Verint. So, I’ve always had it as part of my job in all of my roles but that’s a little bit self-induced but now I have a job that is solely focused on improving the customer experience here at Verint. I’ve said this in a lot of my jobs because I think every job I have is the best job ever but this is really the best job ever.
Jim Rembach: Well that’s fantastic. When you’ve kind of referred to in being the newness of this particular position I think that’s also been reflective of our marketplace as a whole is that it’s fairly new for people to actually dedicate, focus and be able to give both opportunity, resource all of those things associated with customer experience as a department and as a profession not just something that is done.
Nancy Porte: Yeah it is. And I suspect that the profession will change a lot over the next decade. We have a professional association as you well know Jim on the CXPA and that’s the caretaker of the profession right now but we expect that there are going to be a lot of changes. There’s a lot of technology changes and customer expectations are constantly changing so I think the profession will change over time but I hope that those of us in the profession now are creating a great foundation for the future.
Jim Rembach: It’s kind of two things are pulling us in a little bit different directions but I think ultimately we have the opportunity to lead them into positive impact and that is when you start thinking about technology and artificial intelligence and all of the things that are possible through something like that and then this whole human component. One of my guests in the Fast Leader show talked about that we currently live in a society where there’s more lonely people than there’s ever been before and which seems counterintuitive because we’re looking at all these social networks and all these connections but they’re all superficial they’re not real, deep and meaningful.
Nancy Porte: Yes, yes, I would ,agree I would agree with that. And I think that that’s the changing customer as well that’s another aspect of what we have to consider as we look at how we can serve our customers better and the whole social side changes how we interact with customers.
Jim Rembach: Definitely. Okay, so we talked about customer experience, we talked about –yeah, you’re involved with CXPA doing the employee engagement work and I know you love and you balanced personal time and you do some really cool things, we talked about that off mic, but what’s one of your goals?
Nancy Porte: One of my goals is to actually focus on my goals because I always have so many goals. I’ll read a book and I think, oh that’s a good guy, I should have that. So I made a point in my career that it’s just a very good spot in my career but I’m also realizing that as a leader in an organization a lot of what you have to do is to focus and prioritize. And so as interested as I am in just a wide array of topics and in getting a lot of things done for our customers it’s really important to focus and prioritize so that the important things are done. And so that’s probably one of my goals right now is to be a more effective leader through having not as many goals and having them clearly delineated.
Jim Rembach: Focus, I love it. Two years I think I’m going to be (27:23 inaudible) more.
Nancy Porte: I think I will too.
Jim Rembach: And the Fast Leader Legion wishes you the very best. Now before we move on let’s get a quick word from our sponsor.
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Jim Rembach: Here we go Fast Leader Legion, it’s time for the Hump Day Hoedown. Okay, Nancy, the Hump Day Hoedown is a part of our show where you give us good insights fast. So, I’m going to ask you several questions and your job is to give us robust yet rapid responses that are going to help us move onward and upward faster. Nancy Porte, are you ready to hoedown?
Nancy Porte: I’m so ready.
Jim Rembach: All right. What do you think is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Nancy Porte: The focus and prioritization, need to do a better job at that.
Jim Rembach: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
Nancy Porte: Best advice I ever received was, if you have two people that you’re deciding between to hire, hire the person with the people skills train the technical skills.
Jim Rembach: What is one of your secrets that you believe contributes to your success?
Nancy Porte: I always expect the best of people.
Jim Rembach: What do you feel is one of your best tools that helps you lead in business or life?
Nancy Porte: Best tools I have is I have an operational background and I’ve worked at virtually every level of the organization. So, I think what the best tools I have is that for the teams that I lead I’ve done their job before and I know what to expect.
Jim Rembach: What would be one book, and it could be from any genre, that you’d recommend to our Legion?
Nancy Porte: I’m reading a book that I love right now it’s called The Gene by, and I hope I get his name right, Siddhartha Mukherjee it’s about the history of genetics in the word genetic studies and it has messages for leaders, for life, everything, it’s a brilliant book.
Jim Rembach: Okay, Fast Leader Legion you can find links to that and another bonus information from today’s show by going to fastleader.net/NancyPorte. Okay, Nancy, this is my last Hump Day Hoedown question: Imagine you were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you have been given the opportunity to take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you but you can’t take everything back you can only choose one, what skill or piece of knowledge would you take back with you and why?
Nancy Porte: That’s a really good question, I have trouble with that. But here’s the thing, I wouldn’t do anything because if I were to time travel and change one thing it might change the outcome and I love my life right now I love where I’ve ended up. But if you give me the opportunity to go back what I would do is I would whisper in my 25 year old self’s ear that perfection is boring. Take a few risks. Don’t try to be the best at everything have a little more fun.
Jim Rembach: Nancy, it was an honor to spend time with you today, can you please share with the Fast Leader Legion how they can connect with you?
Nancy Porte: Oh absolutely I’d love to hear from them. You can reach me on email at email@example.com. I’m also pretty active on Twitter and you can reach me at @nporte.
Jim Rembach: Nancy Porte, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom the Fast Leader Legion honors you and thanks you for helping us get over the hump. Woot! Woot!
Thank you for joining me on the Fast Leader show today. For recaps, links from every show, special offers and access to download and subscribe, if you haven’t already, head on over the fastleader.net so we can help you move onward and upward faster.
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