An amazing customer experience (CX) is a must-have in modern retail organisations, but who’s responsible for this and how do they do it? At Accent Group, that person is Michelle Yanez-Olivares. Since taking on the position of head of CX last July, Yanez-Olivares has played a key role in some of the company’s most successful initiatives, such as the launch of virtual selling. In this Q&A, we asked her about what an average day looks like, what she loves about working in CX and how s
w she sees her field evolving over the next few years. Inside Retail: Tell me about what your job entails. Michelle Yanez-Olivares: I oversee the customer experience department for the Accent Group. Within CX, we have various functions including sales, support, retail support, quality assurance, knowledge base and a few SME roles. These functions support primarily digital customers across six channels, 15 brands and 22+ websites for Australia and New Zealand. IR: What does an average day look like for you? MYO: Meetings, meetings and more meetings. And in between all the meetings… Status checks on key deliverables and ensuring we’re progressing in a timely manner. Where are we at? What’s left to go? Who do I need to chase?Ensuring there’s cross-functional alignment. With 15 brands, each with their nuances, this can be challenging.I regularly ask the team: Are we considering what’s best for customers in this scenario? What about the agent? Is this an overly manual process for them?Providing strategic and operational guidance to team heads. We move fast and often need to make fast decisions. Providing customer insight to key stakeholders and ensuring ‘all things customer’ bleeds through the DNA of the business. Driving continuous improvement initiatives and being a dedicated change agent. It’s key for me to be a customer advocate and lead by example.Arranging ad hoc or organised team engagement events or cultural boost. IR: What’s your favourite part about working in CX? MYO: We’re typically a younger demographic. This allows us to be more fun and less rigid. We represent the customer and there’s a human element to this that keeps me grounded. IR: What are the biggest issues, topics, or ideas in your industry at the moment? MYO: The biggest issues are: CX is still viewed as customer service, reactionary, and problem orientated Getting buy-in and/or further traction for CX-led initiatives in the midst of an era of large-scale digital transformation. Do key stakeholders truly see the value of CX? And the biggest topics are: Figuring out how to move away from servicing low-value customer enquiries via their preferred channel and having AI as the first point of contact. A self-service strategy is paramount.Humans vs AI. How do they coexist harmoniously? Adopting a ‘learn fast’ approach with developing a team to manage both human and AI capability. IR: How do you see CX evolving in the next few years? MYO: CX is no longer viewed as a department, it’s now evolving with different sub areas: UX/service design Marketing/loyalty Operational/traditional service model Commercially led Customer centricity/business philosophy We’re now seeing more and more organisations and institutions developing courses to upskill on customer experience. A role coming into fruition as of late is CCO – chief customer officer – and there’s a notion of CX leaders having a seat at the table. This was unheard of a few years ago. This is exciting for me as it paves the way for a brighter future for CX professionals, those aspiring to be in CX or those who’ve had CX fall on their lap. IR: Any tips for someone who wants a job similar to yours? MYO: Focus on key competencies in: Driving culture and strategy Having a true read of customer data and how to use effectively Working knowledge of commercial and CX metrics Driving change and adoption across the organisation Be a true customer advocate. CX leaders see the value in customers and should be able to inspire the team and the whole company to make changes. Also, this field is still in its infancy, so it’s the perfect time to be part of the foundation building.