The Human Centered Design Podcast with Gerry Scullion

"Redefining Promises: Shaping the Future of Customer Experience with Damian Kernahan"

John Carter
January 16, 2024
Join our CIRCLE Community to discuss this episode

Connect with other ethically driven change makers from all over the world.

Learn more

"Redefining Promises: Shaping the Future of Customer Experience with Damian Kernahan"

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pretium est ipsum dictum lectus mauris netus. Diam sed sit quisque facilisi luctus feugiat.

Episode shownotes

NEWS: We have just launched our new community ‘CIRCLE’ - A Private Community for Ethically Conscious Designers and Changemakers /

Fast-track your career with our 12-week training programme: Coaching & Mentoring for Innovators & Change-Makers with Gerry Scullion

On this episode, we catch up with Damian Kernahan in Sydney, Australia for an insight into his professional journey, spanning from the advertising industry to co-founding a service design firm. We discuss the challenges of navigating complexity and silos in large organisations and reflect on the limitations of personas in designing effective customer experiences. Damian emphasizes the importance of understanding customer needs and emotions, proposing a shift from brand promises to actionable service promises. The conversation also touches on the evolving baseline of customer expectations, the significance of consistent experiences across channels, and the role of service design in shaping the future Western Sydney International Airport. Ultimately, the episode advocates for a focus on keeping promises and delivering value to customers in a metronomic fashion.

Episode Transcript

This transcript was created using the awesome, Descript. It may contain minor errors.
Note: This is an affiliate link, where This is HCD make a small commission if you sign up a Descript account.

[00:00:58] Gerry Scullion: Damian Kernahan, I am absolutely delighted to have you on the podcast.

[00:01:04] I feel like I know you. We know an awful lot of people, but we never connected. I never met in person in Australia. But let's start off. Let's tell us a little bit about yourself, where you're from and what you do.

[00:01:17] Damian Kernahan: Well, first, Gerry, lovely to meet you. And, um, I know in the preamble, you gave me lots of Australian accents. So, um, if you could throw some of that in,

[00:01:25] Gerry Scullion: talking about, right?

[00:01:26] Damian Kernahan: that would be, that would be super. I won't feel self conscious about myself. I may have forgotten the question. I think it was about, tell me about yourself.

[00:01:34] Um, tell me a bit about myself. Um, I'll just start, start with the interesting stuff from a work perspective. Um, I went, I, I wanted to start in advertising, um, and mom and dad said, went, said, go get a degree. So I did a marketing degree and then I got what every Australian boy, marketing boy would love. I got a job at Foster's, United Breweries as a beer brand manager and I was the Foster's brand manager amongst other things.

[00:02:02] So I did that for a few years where I met my wife. Uh, and she was a tax tax lawyer at the time and we met and then, um, a few years later we ended up, she got a job actually in, um, in New York. She's a, they needed somebody to get this. They needed somebody to work in the Ernst Young. Uh, tax practice, but understand English law.

[00:02:26] So Australian law is English law. Um, and, but they needed to be based in Barbados initially. So she worked for the Caribbean tax practice. We lived in Barbados for six months. It was on the beach. I lived there for three or four months. She lived there for six. And then we moved to New York in 2000. And so we worked there.

[00:02:41] And then I worked for Diageo, which is the global drinks company, which is fabulous. So I did that for a few years. That was great. Really had a great time in, in New York and then moved back and. Got my, my dream, my boyhood dream of actually working in an ad agency and work for Young and Rubicam. And I did that for five years.

[00:02:59] I ran an ad agency, ran Telstra and I've in Melbourne. Yeah. And, um, also worked in Sydney and, and did a whole bunch of things there. And then. I had, I wanted to scratch a niche, which I'd picked up in, in New York. I would work with a brand agency, brand strategy agency, wanting to start my own business. So beginning of 2008, I left, left Adland and started a business.

[00:03:22] Gerry Scullion: Yeah,

[00:03:22] Damian Kernahan: And it was a product innovation business.

[00:03:26] Gerry Scullion: pretty senior in Young and Rubicam, you were chief marketing officer by the end.

[00:03:30] Damian Kernahan: Yeah. Yeah. For in Australia. And so, yeah, I was chief marketing officer. I was on a bunch of boards and just helping coordinate their largest clients through the business and in terms of advertising, digital PR outdoor as a whole. A whole range of things. That was a really good experience.

[00:03:47] Gerry Scullion: So what did you take from working in that space? Um, like when you're exposed to so many brands and they're looking for one thing, usually growth or sales or exposure or awareness or something along those lines, what was the common trend of, I guess, opportunity for you to build on for your new business at that time?

[00:04:10] Wow.

[00:04:13] Damian Kernahan: think I learned about the level of complexity and silos. Um, at the time we were working for Telstra, I think it had 500 people in its marketing department. So you can imagine that 500 people in a, in an Australian base. So for those who are overseas, you know, we've got 27 million people, America has 320 million.

[00:04:34] So 500 in a national carrier. I used to say to the head of marketing, you know, with all respect, you should probably just halve it. You know, and you'd, you'd probably be better off because everything we used to have nine signatures. So I, I learned the, this sort of, it was the idea of complexity and silos and slowing things down and how, when organizations got too big, they couldn't move very quickly.

[00:05:01] Um, and they couldn't adapt as quickly as they want to. So that was the one. And then the other one was, yeah. Do you want to ask a question?

[00:05:08] Gerry Scullion: No, I just remember on that point, I remember years and years and years and years ago I used to be at MySpace in Sydney to remember MySpace, the

[00:05:14] Damian Kernahan: yeah I do. Wow.

[00:05:15] Gerry Scullion: I remember I had, I was lucky enough to get lunch with the global CEO um, you know, you all got 20 minutes with, you know, with this person. His name's Mike Jones, he's a super smart person.

[00:05:26] He owns Science, this VC company in Los Angeles now. And His first task was taking the business from 1, 200 employees down to 400, I think it was. And I was like, so that was your week one. What was that like? And I was like, why did you do it? Like, because he was firing all my mates. He's firing all these people I knew and worked with in LA.

[00:05:47] And he was like, oh, what was happening was we would all go into our little silos on the Monday. And we'd all work really hard. And then on the Wednesday, someone's job was to get the chairs ready for the presentation on Friday. They get all the chairs set up from, on Thursday, they do the dry run. And then on Friday, they do the presentation.

[00:06:09] And then on the Monday, they'd have to clean the chairs away. And I'm like, okay, I get the point. You don't have to labor it. He, he was like, it just became so hard to get alignment with organizations that size. Um, It just really hit home. That was the first time I really, I really thought about the bigger is not always the better.

[00:06:30] Damian Kernahan: Yeah, and it's tough for them, so I'm not having a go with them, but um, I'm quite negative on personas. So, you know, I put out a lot of posts on why they don't work, and And, and I think I learned about that, that there, because, and to be, to credit, they had sort of eight segments. So you can't knock segmentation.

[00:06:48] So I'm not knocking segmentation. Segmentation is a good thing. And you know, there's old people want something and a younger person wants something and a family wants something. I get all that. But what was happening in an organization like that is you then had to create eight sets of communication. You had to have eight sets of approvals.

[00:07:05] You had to have eight sets of content and, and, and, and you multiply it out and then it clogs everything up because then you've actually got to start communicating and we know it's not. It's a bit easier now with digital channels. You can be more focused and targeted, but if in those days we're putting money out on, you know, 1200 tops a week on TV, you can't have all light segments.

[00:07:27] And so I realized, and I've used that in my business and my clients go, we want to do personas or want to do segmentation. I go, okay, great. If you want to do that, that's awesome. But have you got the resources? Once we do all this, have you then got the time, money, resources to actually implement it? And are you going to prepare to actually.

[00:07:43] Produce five sets of everything and, and actually push that through.

[00:07:48] Gerry Scullion: What do they say to that? I mean,

[00:07:50] Damian Kernahan: well, they, they absolutely, of course we don't. And, and they realize it, it sounds good conceptually, but in reality, um, it falls flat and I think

[00:08:02] Gerry Scullion: let's build on that because like most businesses and most software businesses in particular will lean into personas and they'll do their research and they create what is known as, you know, proper validated. based in evidence personas, and they've got maybe four different opportunities for these mystical people.

[00:08:27] Um, that, you know, they've even got photos and they've even got names as well, Damian. And they've got problems that they want to get solved. And everything looks good. Well, what do you say to them when you're, when you're presented with

[00:08:41] Damian Kernahan: Well, I think there's, there's two ways to use personas. And I think the first one is if in, from a buying journey perspective. So I understand personas from a acquisition perspective in terms of, okay. Young person, whatever, whatever, versus an old person, I get that they want different communication.

[00:09:00] There's different hooks to get them in. I guess as, and at the core, even though we're, we call ourselves a customer experience company, you know, we're actually Australia's first service design firm. So at the heart, we're service designers. Once you have your hook them, okay, let's just say you hook them and you get them in.

[00:09:18] What we've found over the last 15 years is. Most people want the same thing, and so they want it to be quick, easy, seamless, transparent, consistent. You know, valuable, meaningful. Now don't tell me that a 72 year old woman wants anything really different than a 27 year old guy in a beard, because they all want it to be meaningful, useful, relevant, easy, consistent.

[00:09:46] I mean, and so we focus on not so much hooking people. Although I could do that, but it's actually, how do you actually add value to their journey once they're on board? And we don't see the use of personas there. So how do you use personas when you're actually trying to make sure that you get back to somebody quickly?

[00:10:03] Is it, is a persona different? Does a 72 year old lady be happy if you call her back in six days versus a 22 year old male wants it in 22 minutes? I don't think so. Like they, they just want you to fulfill their promises. So you make promises, deliver against them. Don't have to over deliver, but don't under deliver, just deliver against the promise you've actually made.

[00:10:25] And I think that's where we focus most of our time and effort.

[00:10:28] Gerry Scullion: Where do you see the value of personas? They have to have some sort of seed of opportunity for, for good.

[00:10:36] Damian Kernahan: Well, do they,

[00:10:38] Gerry Scullion: No,

[00:10:38] Damian Kernahan: so

[00:10:39] Gerry Scullion: a loaded question.

[00:10:40] Damian Kernahan: yeah, it's a lot of questions. So we've moved on from personas. If our clients want to do them, we'll probably just sway them. And if they want to do them, we'll, we'll do, we'll do something for them. We, yeah, we've, I don't think we've developed, I don't think we've developed this term customer need States, but we've certainly popularized it here in Australia.

[00:10:57] And we've actually focused on it and that's the way we go to market now and the work we do. And Cara, who's my. Business partner and co founder is the one who drives, you know, the insights which come from that. And what we do is we develop typically four need states or customer needs for every project that we do.

[00:11:17] And they're always, always different. And what that does is sets up and puts everybody on the same page as to what are those customers needs? What are they looking for us to help them solve? Um, and we also find that. Organizations throw words around really easily. Um, they fly, they probably throw their values around really easily, but they also throw other words around like transparency or confidence or control or support or education or information.

[00:11:50] But you go around a room or you're on a workshop and you say, okay, what does confidence mean to you? You'll get 10 different definitions and explanations of what confidence means for your customers. So if you're saying, what does confidence mean for your customers? You get 10 different answers. What we do is we.

[00:12:06] Standardize that and go, we've spoken to your customers. This is what confidence means for them. As it relates to the context of the product that you have in the market that you're in with the problem they're trying to solve in their life. That's

[00:12:20] Gerry Scullion: it's much more succinct,

[00:12:22] Damian Kernahan: It's far more succinct and it's actually relevant.

[00:12:25] It's, it's coming from the voice of the customer in terms of what they feel is confidence. And so as part of that, we're also articulating. What are their visceral needs? Like, um, you know, what are they, what is the visceral things coming through to them? I think two people, too many people turn away from emotion.

[00:12:43] They all, they walk into and make sure I come back to this, Gerry, but too many, um, businesses, they, they're human and then they walk into a business and whether that's metaphorically now, or they walk into an actual building and they switch off their, their humanness and they, and they adopt their business persona for want of a better word, and they forget.

[00:13:06] They're the customer, you know, just like they get frustrated when their phone company cuts them off. Guess what? Their customer gets frustrated when nobody gets back to them. Um, and, and they forget about this humanness. So I think injecting emotion, um, and actually articulating the emotions that irrational, mostly seemingly irrational emotions, which are generated when things happen to customers.

[00:13:31] We hear this from our clients all the time. I just, I don't understand why they feel like that. And it's the. You know, Bob Mester from, you know, jobs to be done theory that talks about this a lot, but the seemingly irrational, once you actually talk to these customers, they'll explain to you in quite rational detail why they're acting irrationally.

[00:13:50] And once you sort of, as he, as he says, once you see it, you can't unsee it. And I think that's, that's what we try to impart with our, with our clients to go. We want you to deeply, viscerally understand your customers and the emotions they've got because humans are not rational beings. I know you expect them to click on that top right hand corner and log in in two seconds unaided every single time.

[00:14:14] Guess what? can't. Always.

[00:14:18] Gerry Scullion: It's funny, you're talking about a face to face experience there of maybe in store or in branch or whatever it is. And very often, in my experience, the systems that the organization has developed for the backstage to occur, so things like, um, interfaces that support the customer interaction at the point of sale or whatever it is, are so strict.

[00:14:40] But they don't have any flexibility to, to deliver that kind of customer experience. It's that the customer is looking for. So it might be a case of asking, say, listen, look, I've been in here 10 times in the last three months. I've spent 6, 000. Is there any chance of a discount? Like, oh no, computer says no.

[00:15:00] I need to go to management and I like those kind of systems, they just don't allow the human experience to occur as much anymore because head office, you know, kind of design these systems that don't allow those human experiences to occur in your experience, you know, is where is that coming from? Is that something that, um,

[00:15:22] Damian Kernahan: I see that all the time. That's coming from, cause they don't truly understand their customers. We go into organizations all the time. They go, well, you know, we know who our customers are. We understand our customers. And I think what we've, Cara and I have come to understand is that they're talking demographics and psychographics and all that type of stuff, what they don't understand.

[00:15:42] Is the frustrations and the triggers and those seemingly irrational things that drive them. I mean, just to bring up the point that you talked about just then, you know, if I've been a customer and I've spent all this money, if you had spoken to your customers and enough of them, not that many, but eight to 10 of them, they would tell you like, I've spent 20 grand with you.

[00:16:06] Where's the fricking love? You know, where is the love? I'm giving you a lot of love and I want a bit of wiggle room. And you know, we've done this, I can't remember which client it was, but I remember a few years ago, one of our recommendations was like exactly that. Like you, this, these high end clients have spent a lot of money with you, but when something goes wrong or they do something, they miss, they, you know, they're supposed to do something on a particular month and they don't, you slap them, it's like, can't you just give them a month off and be like, Hey guys, you're supposed to actually.

[00:16:37] Do whatever you're supposed to do. You didn't do it this month. You've been a good customer. I'll give you a free month or two months off. And then, and then, you know, in two months down the track, what happens again, you have a different conversation. But for us, it's not this deep understanding of it.

[00:16:54] There's this thing where, um, for brands and customers, it's not fair. There's not an even thing we as customers expect more brands than probably they should do for us. it right? Is it right? I don't know if it's right, but it exists. So you have to, you have to work with that fact that we just have this sense of, we should be getting more from you.

[00:17:22] You should be actually delivering more value for us.

[00:17:25] Gerry Scullion: But it's also the businesses that are doing it really well and they over deliver kind of the baseline moves. So they kind of go, I've had a great experience with this business over here. They were able to respond to my problem within, you know, an hour and I got a phone call back. Whereas now I'm standing in line and you're passing me a piece of paper that I need to post.

[00:17:49] There's that kind of disconnect between the experiences. So when some other business does it really well, it kind of pushes the bar a little bit further.

[00:17:59] Damian Kernahan: yeah. I think some, I, we, again, it was in coined this phrase, but it's the last app used and it doesn't matter with, uh, the last step was a health app and then I'm doing on a, um, I'm doing a retail app and then I'm doing a government app or whatever it is, the. As some, as you say, as organizations or brands start doing elements better,

[00:18:19] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:18:19] Damian Kernahan: just expect it, like on my, my iMac.

[00:18:22] Now I've got this little button, which I just put my finger on and unlocks my, unlocks my computer. Now, the fact that I actually have to type my password in to unlock my computer seems like anathema to me, but.

[00:18:34] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:18:35] Damian Kernahan: My new baseline's for gone from here to here to here.

[00:18:38] Gerry Scullion: It's always

[00:18:38] Damian Kernahan: and, and well, it's always moving. And I think the point you make is about this, these inconsistencies across channels.

[00:18:45] Gerry Scullion: Mm.

[00:18:45] Damian Kernahan: We, we see too many organizations looking for that. Let's delight the customer and we'll pick this channel and give us signature experience. But yeah, we've interviewed hundreds of thousands of customers 15 years, and what we've found is as humans, we just want it. To go like that, like it's either go at this level, go at this level or go at this level.

[00:19:06] I don't care which one it is. But when I go to Maccas, I know I'm getting this one in Dublin, in Sydney, sorry Maccas, McDonald's, in Sydney, Dublin, New York, it's going to be, you know,

[00:19:17] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:19:18] Damian Kernahan: the same.

[00:19:18] Gerry Scullion: You know what you're going to get.

[00:19:20] Damian Kernahan: well, you know what you're going to get, and I've started using the term about this metronome, metronomic.

[00:19:25] Too fancy word, isn't it? But you know that, that thing on a, on a, on a, on a, um, piano, which just measures you put your weight on, metronome. So how do we make services metronomic? Because products are, products are actually released from factories. This is the difference between products and services. A product is released from a factory and it has to work because if you return a faulty product, they have to give you another one and put the other one in the bin and it costs them a whole bunch of money.

[00:19:52] But every single day. In the world, faulty services are launched every single day. So what do I mean by that? Insurance companies sell life insurance. They go, well, people have life insurance. They probably have cars. Why don't we launch car insurance? And they've got the actuaries and they've got the brand and they've got the distribution channel and they put something together and they, they run it out the door, but they haven't really designed.

[00:20:18] The journey for the customers and the drivers and their needs in a really detailed fashion. And as a result, it doesn't break it breaks and and you know, and a lot of the time you have to put up with it sadly

[00:20:31] Gerry Scullion: then they get designers into retrofit, they kind of say, okay, well, it's not working, it's breaking. And they've kind of launched something without the involvement of design, and then the designers are required to fix it. And then, then what? Like, is it a case of helping the organization identify?

[00:20:53] that there is a better way to launch these things. There is a better way to determine the need states up front versus launching and then kind of trying to catch the rain after it's been launched and trying to fix something that's constantly moving. Is that kind of where you see the opportunity, it's kind of two fold.

[00:21:11] One is helping them fix the existing services and two, helping to cultivate a better understanding of how to design these services.

[00:21:19] Damian Kernahan: Yeah, absolutely. I, we're seeing it more and more, but still probably not enough. And that we go back to this thing, this idea that CEOs or senior leadership go, we know our customers. I mean, and they look at the customer experience team and they go, guys, surely we know who our customers, surely you can fix this, but it's, it's pretty hard to read the ingredients from inside the jam jar and there's also.

[00:21:43] Gerry Scullion: true. Yeah.

[00:21:58] Damian Kernahan: you or I, who that's all we do, you know, 24 seven and been doing for 15, 20 years.

[00:22:02] And so it brings in different skillset and they've also got BAU. Um, so I think it's, it's difficult. I'm seeing more organizations. We're working with Western Sydney international. So there's a new international airport being built. In Australia, in Sydney, Australia. Um, and it will be launched in, in three years time.

[00:22:22] And we're working with them right now to actually do zoo to do all that design work. So they've invested, um, there's some great people out there that are investing the time and money to go, how do we actually create a world class airport experience? And we're talking end to end from before you even start booking to when you go out and when you come back and when you get home and looking at that whole end to end experience, because let's face it, if you look around the world, there are some pretty second class and third class type of airport

[00:22:49] Gerry Scullion: Oh, absolutely. So whereabouts in Sydney is the airport going to be?

[00:22:53] Damian Kernahan: That's in a place called Badgerys Creek. Um, so it's out in,

[00:22:58] Gerry Scullion: better name.

[00:22:59] Damian Kernahan: it's about 60, it's about 60 kilometers to the west of Sydney, near the foot of the Blue Mountains. And it's going to be a, yeah, out that way. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's going to be phenomenal. It's going to be a phenomenal airport when they're finished.

[00:23:11] Great. Yeah. It's really. It's going to be 24, because Sydney airport is for those who've been here is right next to the city. It has a curfew. And so planes stop at 11 o'clock. This will be 24, 24, seven. So it'll really change the face of Western Sydney, um, and the whole freight and logistics and all that type of stuff.

[00:23:28] But there's an organization who's putting the time and effort into understanding it. Cause they understand that there's, um, if they don't do it, it's going to be super expensive on the, uh, further down the track. Um,

[00:23:42] Gerry Scullion: So on that point, there's, if you're to take it from a human centred design perspective, it makes sense to deliver a really great service. Um, airport experience, the whole customer experience, but then as we zoom out and we think in terms of earth centred design, is that the right place to be sticking an airport at the foot of the Blue Mountains, which is one of the most spectacularly beautiful places?

[00:24:06] That's naturally going to disturb. Gonna, the ecosystems of probably lots of indigenous, um, you're

[00:24:16] Damian Kernahan: so I don't think it's exactly at the foot, but it's, it's been, this, this site's been, yeah, this site's been, um, there's not a lot of land and as a, as a Sydney and as a country, we're growing our population and there is no doubt. That we, we, we need it. Um, I think it was identified probably 40 years ago.

[00:24:34] So this has been

[00:24:35] Gerry Scullion: Oh, really? It's been a while.

[00:24:36] Damian Kernahan: It's been a long, long time since this has been identified and you actually need that space because it's a whole ecosystem, a commercial ecosystem that's going to, going to build, so it will actually redefine out of Western Sydney and it will be a really

[00:24:49] Gerry Scullion: Absolutely. Brilliant for Parramatta and all those places where getting into the city is just like an extra 90 minutes on terms of your flight times.

[00:25:00] Damian Kernahan: Yeah, absolutely. And I just want to pick up on something you said, you know, designing a great airport experience and sometimes people look at that and they go, you know, delight, we're not about delight. And I don't think Western Sydney are about delight, although we shouldn't speak for them, but they're very clear about, we are going to make a set of promises to future customers and our goal is to be able to, to deliver them.

[00:25:24] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:25:25] Damian Kernahan: and, you know, we say brand is the promise you make, customer experience is the promise you keep. We believe there are too few organ, we, we believe there are a lot of organizations making lots of brand promises, and there's lots of marketing teams whose jobs are to make brand promises. And then you look around, you go, well, how many people are actually responsible for delivering against these promises?

[00:25:44] And that's where we see the real opportunity for organizations. Don't over configure, don't go to delight. Not everybody has to have a chill border when they walk in the door, you just have whatever promises you're making, make sure that you're investing the time, energy and resources to, to keep them.

[00:26:02] That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just do that.

[00:26:04] Gerry Scullion: So who, who, who is empowered with keeping them then in your experience? So. That's, that's the, what most people would be like, we would be nodding our heads, oh, of course, yeah, we want to keep them.

[00:26:17] Damian Kernahan: That's, that's the

[00:26:18] Gerry Scullion: interact with us, is it?

[00:26:20] Damian Kernahan: Yeah. That's the challenge because most organizations are structured in functions or by departments. And as you and I know,

[00:26:29] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:26:29] Damian Kernahan: the journey. That a customer goes on, crosses across all those departments on a daily basis. And there are very few organizations who have set up their business to go, we're not selling, um, car insurance, we're, but we have an owner and I think Suncorp in Australia have done this, although I'm not too close to them.

[00:26:48] It's an insurance company for those who don't know it. They've head up, set up ahead of the mobility journey. Or something like that. So, mobility, car. So, we're thinking about all the jobs around mobility. Car, being one of them, and car insurance being a further subset of that. Again, I'm not close to it, but it's an example of when you do that, then you can look at The whole end to end journey and start understanding how you can orchestrate and stitch all the touch points together versus I saw this thing.

[00:27:20] I don't know who it was. Some great design, American design firm did a presentation 10, 15 years ago when I went to Europe and saw it. And I had a website up and, and what they did is they then an arrow pointing to all the different components. So this is controlled by marketing. This part's controlled by legal.

[00:27:37] This part's controlled by sales. This part's controlled by. People in HR, this part's controlled by operations, this part's controlled by, you get the idea. And so just look at any website and go, it has eight people in control. And that's just the website. We haven't even actually got to delivering the product yet.

[00:27:55] And so that is what we, and that's what we see as the challenge. I mean, I think the chief customer officer's role is to start. It's not to be responsible for having to do all of it. But to be able to orchestrate it and, and look through the lens of the customer and ditch all and connect all the departments up.

[00:28:14] So you're sharing information and aligning, getting alignment. Um, that is a missing skill, which I think needs, um, amplifying.

[00:28:24] Gerry Scullion: So you've got chief marketing officer, chief operating officer, you've probably got maybe in some progressive companies, chief design officer. Who

[00:28:35] Damian Kernahan: Chief

[00:28:35] Gerry Scullion: would you see, which one?

[00:28:37] Damian Kernahan: chief customer officer as well.

[00:28:39] Gerry Scullion: Chief customer, chief customer officer. Do you think that role and that, I guess, accountability to ensure that that's getting looked at and evaluated, is that the chief customer officer?

[00:28:49] Um,

[00:28:51] Damian Kernahan: some instances it is, sometimes it's the head of operations. Um, so the chief operating officer, because they're trying to configure all together, we don't see too many chief marketing officers taking on this responsibility. It's not a criticism. Um, but their skillset has normally been about in the making promises business.

[00:29:09] Um, and they're very, very good at that. Um, and, and also in terms of marketing. People often say, Oh, marketing should do it. Whenever you see like a customer journey map from a marketing with a marketing lens, it's about how all the opportunities to actually communicate or sell or cross sell stuff to.

[00:29:29] customers or consumers, it's not take, that's an inside out perspective and just how to, how can we sell more stuff or communicate more stuff versus what's the journey that the customer is going on and what are all the things that we need to do internally to actually deliver on that. And that could be, you know, call center could be legal, could be billing.

[00:29:49] And I'm not sure that the marketing, a lot of the marketing, I'm not saying all, but I'm not saying a sure a lot of the chief marketing officers have that capability to actually understand or have the experience in that area. So I think COOs, so chief operating officers, yes. Chief customer officers, yes.

[00:30:05] Sometimes we even see the CEO because they're the ones who. Uh, worried about all, all the whole ecosystem. Yeah.

[00:30:13] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, Chief Revenue Officer is probably one that if they were in the organization, you have somebody who's accountable for the, the growth. And there is an investment opportunity then from the CRO to say, um, well, it makes good business, good business to actually, you know, invest in this because we know that customer experience, there's, there's enough reports out there at this stage.

[00:30:36] ROI on it. So, you know, The CRO might be the person that's being accountable for this. Is that what do you

[00:30:45] Damian Kernahan: Yeah. I, I think it definitely much more in acquisitions. I think you're right. So conceptually, yes, I think chief revenue officer should do it. I see when a lot of the communication I see from CROs, um, and agencies who support CROs, it's far more in the acquisition space. Like how do we actually get them in?

[00:31:02] It's less about the customer success. component of that, which would actually keep them in. Um, so I'm not against it. I mean, I'm for anybody who's willing, um,

[00:31:11] Gerry Scullion: Just type up.

[00:31:19] Damian Kernahan: clients over the last three or four years of being female. And so, and we've started, Cara and I have started thinking about that.

[00:31:27] And, and where we've got to is, and this will be controversial for some of the males, but. Really led by really, we've got some really chief, smart, chief customer officers as clients, female clients, but you know what they're humble enough to go, I don't know the answer. But I'm smart enough to ask the right questions.

[00:31:49] And sometimes, maybe more than sometimes, too often, males, and I'm a, you know, white, privileged white male, and it's, it's typical. It's guys like me who think they have. All the answers. And that's a sign of weakness, not to have all the answers. Like how, how don't, how do I not know how to stitch all this together and make it all work?

[00:32:10] Surely I've been in business, I've been successful. I'm earning a lot of money. I'm got a thousand people under my control. Surely I can get this done. And we're seeing females just willing to say, I don't know how to. Do it myself, but I know how to ask the right questions, get the right people in and orchestrate it.

[00:32:26] So it does happen. And that I think is, is

[00:32:30] Gerry Scullion: there's an opportunity there.

[00:32:31] Damian Kernahan: it's an opportunity. Yeah.

[00:32:33] Gerry Scullion: There was, I just want to, when you were talking there about great customer experiences and opportunities for people on the front line to make those judgment calls to. Enhance that experience. I'm going to tell you a story here, it's a little bit of a winding road, but stick with me on it.

[00:32:51] So, we were 10 years married last week okay, and you know I've started taking up, anyone who follows me on Instagram, sourdough bread. I've started baking sourdough. And it's a daily ritual, so you have to plan ahead for the day. And I love the process, okay? And it takes me about 20 minutes. But we have a person that comes into the house and helps tidy the house and clean the house because we've got two young kids.

[00:33:16] And I've got this thing that I bought when we got married with some of the money. A Le Creuset, um, Dutch oven, okay? And it cost me 450 for this pot. And I love it. Okay, and it's so expensive. I couldn't believe I was spending it. But it was like, it was wedding money. They said to me, look, you'll have it for, you know, your generations or whatever.

[00:33:39] They sold, they sold it into me. Okay, and I was like, okay, I'll do it. And it is amazing. Really is, it is amazing. But the person that came in and cleaned the house, um, Was trying to save space in the kitchen and put a salad washer plastic thing inside the Dutch oven. Because they're so hot, or so heavy, I put it into the oven and heated the oven to 240 degrees for my sourdough. And after a day of moulding my dough, I opened up the oven door and took out the Dutch oven, about to put my dough in, and I saw melted plastic all over this 450 Le Creuset pot. I Shouted a few Profanities, uh, looking up towards the sky and threw ice on it and tried to save it, but it took some of the enamel away and I was like, Oh man, my wife is going to kill me.

[00:34:34] So this is not going to be the 10 year anniversary that I was hoping for. So I did what anyone else would do, I was like okay, I googled around, you know, looking for people to repair this. It's like, is there? No, there's no one. I said, nothing for it. I'm going to call Le Creuset. So I called Le Creuset and, um, got through to somebody and I go, hey, how can I help you?

[00:34:56] And I go, well, told them the story and there was silence at the end of the phone and they go, that must have been awful. I'm so, so sorry to hear that. I said, do you know anyone who can repair this? She's like, hang on one second. And she puts the phone against her chest and I could hear her talking to somebody.

[00:35:13] She was like, Gerry, where do you live? And I go, I live in Ireland. And, um, she's like, right. Can you send me a photograph of what's happened? I go, yeah. Did it on the phone. And she goes, give me a minute. And she comes back. She goes, we'll replace that for you. And I'm like. You, sorry? I said, you'll replace it?

[00:35:33] I said, why? It was my fault. I said, like, they're so expensive. I was trying to tell her, like, Are you sure? Are you sure? And yeah, sure enough, I got DHL'd. A brand new Le Creuset pot sent to me three days later. 450 worth for no questions asked.

[00:35:56] Damian Kernahan: What an amazing

[00:35:57] Gerry Scullion: I'm telling everyone about it.

[00:35:58] Damian Kernahan: yeah. And you'll tell another a hundred people. So you will pay them back, you know, a hundred fold. The empathy, what struck me, I mean, it's phenomenal that they did that. Um, the empathy for her to say that must've been, cause that's what, that must've been awful. Like, let's just stay there for a while.

[00:36:17] That must have been awful. And that, that, and you talk about, you know, staff and, you know, we develop customer experience principles for, for clients because they don't need a 50 page. book telling them what to do. They need to know, and it's different by client, but they need to know, I just say a customer experience principle is, um, is support or care.

[00:36:45] Care. In this

[00:36:46] Gerry Scullion: Which they all talk about.

[00:36:48] Damian Kernahan: they will talk about, but you just need to know what care means. And then you go, when I'm hearing this story, what's the principle? That I need to bring up, it's like, care, I need to look up that, you know, and then empathy follows that quickly. I think that's a phenomenal story. Um, and we, when we see too few, we see too few types of examples, it's short termism.

[00:37:08] Um, we see short termism too often.

[00:37:12] Gerry Scullion: But in that sense there, you've got somebody who is experienced on the phone, okay, and too often you get somebody who's inexperienced and cheap on the phone and it's a standing operating procedure on how they handle certain situations. They're almost following a script and it's legally binding and it's, you know, they're not getting themselves into any trouble and the calls are being recorded, um.

[00:37:40] In this instance, they were able to make a judgment call and um, that flexibility that I alluded to at the start of the conversation almost gets designed out and that's what we lose through technology.

[00:37:56] Damian Kernahan: I agree. I mean, I heard a story years ago, Swisscom national, the national carrier. They used to have a 50 Euro, um, budget for their customer support staff to be able to flex just

[00:38:09] Gerry Scullion: Oh really?

[00:38:10] Damian Kernahan: And then they. Increased it, did some human centered design work and they increased it to 500 euro. And the concern was, wow, we're giving all these, you know, hundreds of people the opportunity to actually give away 500 euros a pop.

[00:38:24] We're going to lose money. What happened? Credits went down. The amount of credits they were handing out went down, even though they had 10x the amount that they could give away. So that seems seemingly irrational. Why is that? Because they felt a greater sense of responsibility and onus on them to look after the money they've been entrusted with.

[00:38:47] Gerry Scullion: Uh huh.

[00:38:49] Damian Kernahan: they were more judicious about how they did it, but if they needed to, they could hand it out.

[00:38:53] Gerry Scullion: Yeah.

[00:38:54] Damian Kernahan: and so, yeah, I was in the airport in Melbourne and in catching a flight the other day, I was actually on a flight, Qantas offloaded me and then I said, I'm looking on the board and I'm on the phone to them and saying, Oh, I can see a flight.

[00:39:08] Like there's one leaving in like 10 minutes and I'm at the airport and. And I'm walking to gate eight, which is where this flight was, even though they'd chucked me off. And they, to your point, the procedures of the standard operating procedure, she came back on and then started giving me all this waffle.

[00:39:26] And I went, listen, I'm walking, I'm running. I'm Damian Kernahan, I'm running to gate eight. Am I on or not? Yeah, that's what I need to know. We can cover the rest of this. Am I on or not? Well, I'm sorry to tell you, sir, that in this, I wasn't, um, but. This like, not really understanding that you've chucked me off.

[00:39:48] I've said, there's a flight I'm heading to the gate. I'll just start reading my script rather than what's the job I want done. I want to know, am I on or not? Cause if not, I'll go back to the Qantas club and have a cup of coffee. You know, I

[00:40:02] Gerry Scullion: out the window.

[00:40:03] Damian Kernahan: look out the window. Um, but you're right. A lot of it's, a lot of it's been designed out for efficiencies, which is, ends up being sub efficiencies really.

[00:40:12] Gerry Scullion: And I think that's what we're, a lot of people listen to this podcast and they just want to try and ensure a human experience, that we're using technology really to take away the pain and amplify the human experience. That's really what I hope for in, in the future of design, that we're not been swallowed by technology and we're being replaced and we can barely get hold of humans on the phone to have that empathy.

[00:40:38] Because you imagine if Lucruzzi looked at that situation and said, Why do you want to call us? Please go to our website and fill out an application form. That is the most logical explanation there. If you, if you had somebody looking at it.

[00:40:52] Damian Kernahan: That's cost efficiency, Gerry.

[00:40:54] Gerry Scullion: Yeah,

[00:40:54] Damian Kernahan: Right there.

[00:40:56] Gerry Scullion: but like the fact is I have easily told this story. 20 people in the last week.

[00:41:02] And it's not all about like, I'm going to tell everyone. That's not what it's about. It's really about that I am now a customer for life. And I am going to, when I go to buy something, um, in the future, like when I, um, win the lottery and buy another Dutch oven pot, I will buy.

[00:41:21] Damian Kernahan: blue, you've got an orange run, you'll get a blue one. I have

[00:41:26] Gerry Scullion: I will,

[00:41:27] Damian Kernahan: pots.

[00:41:29] Gerry Scullion: I think that is, if you look at what, you know, the, the rationale is for this stuff and they say, well, why would we do that? You know, I'm a customer for life. Yeah. Okay, great. Are there other things that you can point out and say, well, you know, they'll make more money. They'll, what are the other things that people listening to can make a

[00:41:51] Damian Kernahan: Yeah, I think, I think it's a balance and I think sometimes everyone's a bit too black and white and they're all, they're all or nothing. So I go, let's go with technology. And I'm a big fan of technology and, and if you can employ technology, which allows you to actually get your job done quicker and more efficiently and easily, more power to you, love it.

[00:42:08] You know, uh, it's great, but things break and things go wrong and technology doesn't always work. And I think this is the missing piece for organizations. Knock yourself out with technology. Spend up, make it really, but, or, and, accept that things are going to go wrong. Sometimes, sometimes you're going to need human intervention.

[00:42:32] Sometimes you're going to need a friendly voice and you need to have that technology. And that at the same time that you can actually shepherd people through, get them back on the technology track. You might, it's just like a siding yard, a rail siding. It's like, you were going along here. That's great.

[00:42:50] Things have gone wrong because I've got to be a bit derailment. Let's go after the siding track with a human bit of care, bit of empathy, bit of support and love redirect you back on and off you go. And, and that would cost them very little, but it's this all or nothing thing. It's like, it's all technology or it's all people.

[00:43:08] That's too expensive. And I think it can be both. It can

[00:43:12] Gerry Scullion: You can lose the run of yourself by just leaning into technology so much. Absolutely.

[00:43:19] Damian Kernahan: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I love, love technology, man. I did a, a CX and AI, you know, webinar this morning for about 40 people. And, and it's, and it's, you know, it was pretty simple stuff. Um, and, and it was for beginners. And so I was introducing people to chat GPT 4 as opposed to chat GPT 3. So that was where we're at, but there was a blowing, even with some of the prompts, pretty simple prompts, but that was blowing people's minds who hadn't, hadn't used it.

[00:43:47] And it is mind blowing when you actually. You could see what, what's

[00:43:50] Gerry Scullion: the next frontier.

[00:43:52] Damian Kernahan: yeah,

[00:43:53] Gerry Scullion: Well look, Damian, we are wrapping up the, the end of the, this episode, so um, people I know will be really interested to learn more uh, about ProtoCX and what you're doing and the, the needs, what's it called again? Needs what?

[00:44:10] Damian Kernahan: Customer customer needs states.

[00:44:12] Gerry Scullion: Customer need, the need states. Um, I'd love to learn more about that myself.

[00:44:17] Is there opportunities for people to, to read more about need states or what's the best way for people to learn more about need states? to learn more about that. You

[00:44:25] Damian Kernahan: So I'm posting daily videos on LinkedIn. So

[00:44:28] Gerry Scullion: daily posting videos. I see it every day on LinkedIn. I feel like I know you, that blue background.

[00:44:35] Damian Kernahan: Fantastic. Um, no, I'm loving, I'm loving doing it. So I'm posting a daily on LinkedIn. Uh, we've got a YouTube channel, Proto Partners, or just, um, yeah. DM me on, on LinkedIn or just, um, or go to protopartners. com. au. And there's lots of contact stuff there. So yeah, I'd love to talk to anybody and explain it.

[00:44:52] Maybe we can come back another time. We can get, we can double click on it.

[00:44:56] Gerry Scullion: You're always welcome back on the podcast. And look, I wrap every episode up, Damian, by thanking the guests for their honesty and their vulnerability. Because I know it takes a little bit of courage to come on and just be having a free flowing conversation and answering, you know, from the gut a lot of the times.

[00:45:14] Um, so I really appreciate you giving me your time this evening. I know you're probably getting ready to head home and have dinner and so forth. So thank you so much for giving me your time today, Damian. I really, really appreciated it.

[00:45:26] Damian Kernahan: Thank you, Gerry. I really enjoyed the chat. And, um, any, uh, Damian Kernahan. So any, any Irishman I'm having to talk to or have a view with. So thanks for your time.

[00:45:36] Gerry Scullion: Brilliant.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ipsum blandit at sed a, vulputate eget. Integer in egestas rutrum risus tortor. Augue sed ac magna semper vitae, orci morbi auctor. Diam dui ut ut purus aenean volutpat.