CX Education 10: Inviting CX to the leadership table: Steps for business growth with Olga Potaptseva, Founding Director of ECC

Join Olga Potaptseva and Sunny Dhami as they dive into the importance of setting a place for CX at the leadership table
Length of Podcast (minutes)
About this episode

It's super common to hear business owners say, "customers are at the heart of everything we do" or "the customer is always right." But even with this mindset, CX is often left behind – it needs to be invited to sit at the leadership table and get involved in more conversations. Why? Because it’s what connects employees, customers, and operations. 

In this episode of CX Education, we’re joined by Olga Potaptseva, the founding director of European Customer Consultancy (ECC). Olga discusses the importance of creating a human-centric culture rather than a customer-centric one and explains that such an approach helps retain top talent that’s motivated to work on a shared objective, such as customer retention. 

Olga and our host Sunny Dhami, also touch upon the challenges of bringing CX to the leadership table and what it takes for an industry to achieve CX maturity. 

Image of Olga Potaptseva

Guest speaker

Olga is the Founding Director for the European Customer Consultancy, an inventor of the globally certified Agile CX Implementation Toolkit and a founder of the first ever digital CX library called CXpanda.

Olga passionately believes in CX as a business discipline that drives financial, organisational, and social success. She promotes this through her consulting work, as well as her role as the Executive Director at the Customer Institute, Founding Member for Women in CX, a chair of Judges at the CX Awards, an educator, author and speaker. Olga gets a lot of inspiration for her work from her international lifestyle and her family.
Olga Potaptseva
Founding Director
European Customer Consultancy
Image of Sunny Dhami


Sunny Dhami is a product marketing leader with 12+ years' experience in Marketing and Product Marketing roles across the CPaaS, SaaS, communications, and technology industries. In this time, he has held responsibilities within global product marketing functions and has been fortunate enough to have worked in high-growth organisations like Sinch and RingCentral, where he has supported triple digit revenue growth.
Sunny Dhami
VP Product Marketing

Key insights

  • CX professionals must focus on processes and training

    Otherwise, they risk losing top talent. Olga advocates for a human-centric business methodology. CX leaders must mentor and coach their team members, creating a supportive working environment where employees are motivated to work towards the company's core objectives. ''We must monitor our customer needs fulfillment, keep it at the same level, but make sure that it's a great organization to work for. We cannot expect our people to be advocates for a long time if we burden them with everything they shouldn't be dealing with.'' 

  • CX leaders must be able to speak to customers and employees

    However, the collaboration between CX and other teams, especially among decision-makers, is minimal or non-existent. And if CX wants to get a seat at the leadership table, silos must be broken down, and a list of priorities defined and shared with everyone involved in the customer journey. For instance, ''Why is CX important to the company? Why should you be at the leadership table? What do you bring to the leadership team? And yes, you bring the customer perspective. It's important. How is that perspective connected to the goals and objectives of the company? Maybe we should change the goals and objectives of our company based on what the customer is telling us. [...] It's about this balanced view that would drive customers' interest within the organization.''

  • Focus on the basics because customers are not irrational in their needs

    When ordering a product, for example, customers want it to be delivered on time and undamaged; that's all. No additional incentive will compensate for poor service. ''If you don't get the basics right, you don't have the right to delight. I always use this example. What's your basic need when you travel? You stay in a hotel. What's your basic need? You want to sleep. If your hotel room doesn't have a bed, that's a failing experience. If, at the same time, it has warm cookies and a welcome note, is that going to solve your problem? No. You can only have the right to put the extras and the niceties if the basics are satisfied.'' 

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What inspired Olga to start a career in CX? 

''I was working for a global market research agency. In such organizations, you get a solid knowledge of the voice-of-the-customer methodology, but often you don't see what happens afterward; often, nothing happens. 

Lots of people do lots of numbers and insights, and then they get shelved. But this client of mine was different. I was the key account lead to help them transfer their support centers from the US to Manila. 

They did it in a customer-centric way. They used the insights from their customers to inform them when their team was up to speed in Manila, and only then would they close their contact center in the US. And that ensured that the level of customer satisfaction was always the same. 

And they used customer feedback to identify training needs and digitalization opportunities. And that was a light bulb moment for me. That's what we should all do. So I went on to seek a position to head up a CX function.'' 

I hate the expression the customer is always right 

''The reason I dislike it is that it's not true. And, if a lot of companies are truthful with themselves, they say it's a nice saying; it's plastered all over our office. But where is the customer on our board’s agenda? 

Do we start our board meetings by discussing what the customer needs this quarter, or do we start, ‘what's the sales pipeline? What's the profit? What's the cost-benefit ratio?’ 

When we say a customer is at the center of everything, is compliance not at the center of everything, or is an employee not at the center of everything? So do we forget all of the other elements of normal organizational functioning? 

What I advocate instead is this customer-informed operating model so that we function in a way that delivers value to the customer but also fulfills our organizational objectives and our obligations to our people.'' 

Steps leading to CX maturity 

Let's say, you are a CX professional coming into the company and a message that sounds like, 'Drop everything you've been doing so far and focus on what I tell you. I'm going to tell you to focus on the customer.' It's not going to get the engagement. 

Instead, if you say, 'Look, guys, you're trying to improve customer retention. I've looked at the analytics, your CRM, and your campaign performance. I've looked at pain points and customer journeys. Here are my findings. This is how you can improve retention. This would help our customers.' 

So it is about purposeful, customer-focused experiences that also help the business. And it's also about organizational empathy and building that awareness within the organization that customers are humans, as odd as it sounds. Encouraging customer closeness through storytelling, customer needs analysis, customer connectedness, and having customer-facing days. That builds that culture and helps you prove that you've got something valid to go on.'' 

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