• Bill Leinweber

  • About Bill Leinweber

    Bill Leinweber's mission is to help businesses and organizations grow by combining efficient processes with great customer and employee experience.

    Bill is the Chief Experience Officer & Owner of Landmark Experience LLC, a consultancy, where he loves to help business leaders walk in their customers' shoes and devise memorable and meaningful experiences for both customers, guests, visitors, employees and business partners. After all, have you ever heard of customer loyalty and business growth without GREAT customer experience?

    Bill's 30 year career spans retail and office products distribution operations in both small, family-owned and global mega-businesses. He has managed customer service operations, sales support, customer on-boarding and business intelligence teams while also serving as an internal consultant and subject matter expert. Bill has helped his past employers improve their customer engagement processes and achieve their goals of customer experience excellence and loyalty.

    Bill loves to talk and speak about customer experience as well, so don't be afraid to ask!

    Bill Leinweber
    Landmark Experience
    513-227-9037
    www.LandmarkExperience.com

I Can Finally Cut an Onion

 

Bill Leinweber, Customer Experience & Operations Strategist

 

After nearly forty years, I have mastered cutting up an onion.  Not the onion-ring approach.  I mean the really cool, slick way that creates a pile of nearly perfect, uniform pieces of onion the way you might see Emeril or Rachael Ray do it for a salad or to sauté in oil.  And by varying the width of the cuts, you can adjust the size of the onion pieces to any size you want.  The trick is bisecting the onion in such a way that the layers don’t slip and fall apart under your hand.  There’s definitely a trick to it.

It hasn’t always been this way.  For years when it was my turn to cut and chop, I’d get to the onion and say, “Darn it, now how did they do that again?  Do you cut this way or like this?”  I could never remember.  And after the first couple slices, it was obvious I was no Emeril!  Frustrated and disappointed, I couldn’t understand why I just couldn’t master cutting the onion.  Well clearly, cooking – and all the chopping, slicing and dicing that goes into it – is just not my passion, not my strength.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and I’m very passionate about eating.  I’m half Italian after all and am a great eater but cooking and the requisite prep work just does not come naturally to me and has always been a struggle.

Doing What Comes Naturally

Customer experience is an entirely different story.  I can observe, read about or listen to a customer experience and tell you whether the experience was awesome, horrible or mediocre.  I can likely offer 10 ways to improve the experience, point out 10 things that were great about it and 10 aspects that really fell short.  I’m somehow able to look at and feel the experience from the standpoint of all the participants in the transaction, not just from the traditional “customer” perspective.  In an internal transaction, I can imagine what the CEO would want, what the Audit Department may need, what the Sales Rep wants or what gives the Customer Service Representative a better experience in doing their job.  To me, “the customer” is anyone involved in the transaction.  I don’t have to think too much or work too hard at it.  Somehow analyzing customer experience comes naturally to me.  In fact, I can’t stop myself from performing customer experience observation and analysis any time of day or night where there’s an opportunity to do so.  It’s a switch that is always in the “On” position whether a friend is telling me a story about their own experience with the cable company or I’m standing in line at the grocery store.  I simply can’t shut it off.

A key ingredient in great internal and external customer experience is great process that delivers the necessary elements to all the transactional participants without being a drain on efficiency and productivity.  When observing a process, I also can’t help but ask myself “Is there a better way to do this?”  Faster, cheaper, streamlined – while still providing the WOW moments that get noticed and drive loyalty.  I guess that’s what made the onion situation so frustrating.  I knew there was a better way I just couldn’t remember the “how part!”

The Difference is Passion

So why has the onion been such a struggle but customer experience and process improvement just seems to run in my blood?  It could be the years of working in retail, then distribution operations and all the exposure to customer interactions and managing customer service functions simply conditioned me to be “customer-centric” and “customer-focused.”  I worked for a small business as Operations Manager which is a coded title for “anything the owners don’t want to deal with.”  The small business experience was actually a fantastic way to witness and learn how everything in business is interconnected and how one department impacts another and what the downstream effects are.  Small businesses tend to be a microcosm of larger ones.  However, in small businesses, silos have no place.  You can’t work in a silo and be really successful.  The experience of working in a small family business gave me the opportunity to develop a horizontal perspective of the operation and served me well when that small company was sold to a mega-corporation.

In the larger company, I was able to interact well with other department leaders and staff because I can see things from their perspective as a customer of the business process.  So while I managed the various day-to-day customer care operations and acted as the caretaker of external customer experience, I also helped to develop processes that worked for internal customers as well.  Staff from different departments that just “didn’t get along” in the past, started to get out of their silos and see things from the perspective of others.  It was a slow culture shift but the results were dramatic in that more and more associates started to see through “customer experience glasses.”

Thanks Mom

Looking back, I think that was all just my customer experience passion at work, put into practice.  However, I can trace the roots of my passion for customer experience back further – quite a bit further… to my mother.  I don’t recall mom ever showing me the secret way to slice and dice an onion.  If she did, I obviously didn’t pay attention!  But mom did plant the seed of putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.  If I, or one of my five brothers and sisters, made fun of anyone or ridiculed someone, mom would quickly snap us back into shape.  She would strongly suggest that we reflect on how we might feel if we were that person, the subject of our jabs or teasing.  She usually followed the, “How would you feel if you were made fun of..” comment with, “You’re not so perfect yourself, you know.”  A helpful dose of humility heaped in for good measure.

I took mom at her word and after years of asking us to imagine how we might feel if we were the other person, well, she no longer had to ask.  I just do it naturally.  And since the make-or-break moment of truth in a customer interaction boils down to how the customer “feels” at that moment, mom’s lesson just lends itself perfectly to customer experience.  So thanks, mom, for the more valuable lesson of the two.  Thanks for instilling in me the roots that fueled my passion for great customer experience.  I’m happy to also report, I finally nailed the onion, too!

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One Response

  1. very interesting topics. keep up the good work. enjoy the posts.

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