It has taken some time but I have finally come to terms with the fact that I have a chemical dependence. It is a stark realisation but in many ways allows me to better understand what keeps me functioning. To give you a sense of how this plays out, I would like to share my experiences.
I love to cycle. Specifically, I love multi-day long endurance mountain bike races (well actually rides in my case – the other people race). There is nothing quite like a 30 minute steep climb where every muscle in your body is aching and you are fighting off the temptation to stop exerting yourself. Your lungs feel like they are burst, your legs are burning and yet you continue to pedal – grinding away up the hill with the aim of reaching the top and feeling an absolute rush of euphoria. It’s strange, I know, but it feels incredible. However, I have learnt over time that the ability to survive a multi-day cycling event is not something you can do without the right level of preparation. Preparation comes with setting of goals, and slowly working through those goals, one cycle at a time over a number of weeks. What I do to help me along is set targets on a cycling app called Strava. Strava lets me set cycling goals and then measures how I do against those targets, rewarding me with a “PR” or personal record whenever I meet a goal or do my best on a hill. This is a different but equally euphoric experience – setting a goal and then achieving it. I am guilty of spending far too much time admiring my achievements for a week (feeble as they may be).
Pushing through challenges and achieving goals is part of the reason I cycle multi stage events but there are at least two other reasons. One is the feeling of setting off on a large race with a crowd. There are many riders around – all chirpy, positive and absorbed in the moment. We share a common bond – warriors setting off on a quest to collectively overcome the challenges presented. Together we are going to conquer the mountains, help each other out and be part of a common experience. The weekend of cycling that happens at the Argus every year (the world’s biggest timed cycle race) is a feel good weekend of a bunch of crazy people all sharing in an experience – it’s amazing. Back to those three day mountain biking events – I really enjoy team events and happen to ride a lot with my friend and business partner. We suffer together. We train together, we laugh together and we share the joys of hopefully delivering a respectable time. I ride with the knowledge that even if I am involved in a major crash, there will be someone there who will care enough about my wellbeing to ensure that I am well looked after.
And that is why I cycle. It all seems like good clean fun so where do the chemicals substances come in? Well that is where the confession has to be made – there are lots of chemical substances involved. As I have only recently discovered, my cycling is driven by 4 key chemicals – Endorphins, Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin (EDSO). These are my chemical substances of choice and it turns out they are the major drivers of all human behaviour. Endorphins are the chemicals that help dull pain. They are the means by which you get to push through difficult challenges and why crazy people like me do extreme things like cycle multi day events. Together with Dopamine, Endorphins are the “selfish” chemical substances – they drive people to achieve. Dopamine is the sense of pleasure that you get from achievement – it is the substance that gets released for a job well done, for a goal achieved, it’s the stuff that keeps humans focused on the future and stops them from butterfly behaviour – the basis of the pleasure I get from achieving my training goals.
The other two chemical substances – Serotonin and Oxytocin are the selfless chemicals. They drive us to appreciate others and drive community. Serotonin is the substance that gets released from being a part of a community. These chemicals work on our higher levels of thought processing in our neocortex. They are the basis of why I feel pleasure in doing races with thousands of others. They give you a sense of pride when working with a team of excellent people all united around a common goal. The last addiction I have is to Oxytocin – this is the substance that drives a true feeling of friendship, love or trust. It is the reason I find so much pleasure in riding with friends where we have deep relationships formed over a long period of time. While Dopamine is a substance that leads to instant gratification, Oxytocin is a substance that acts over a much longer period of time and only gets released on the basis of long standing relationships.
So that is me – hooked on chemical substances that drive my behaviour and this just gets accentuated through my cycling. So what is the link to Customer Experience Management? Well it turns out that everyone is driven by the EDSO chemicals – they are the reason we are human. When it comes to driving a strong customer experience there is a very neat and tidy overlap with the inQuba TribeX methodology.
It starts off with Endorphins and Dopamine – there are the substance that lead people to stretch themselves and achieve. Imagine for a minute a telco provider. In an organisation of 2000 people where the CEO is trying to align to better service the customer, the starting point is giving people the purpose to be successful. Without Purpose, there is no reason to do the hard stuff. Just as the purpose in my cycling is to finish my race or get up a hill, a company embarking on a journey of customer experience has to create a purpose that shows the value of a good customer experience. Next comes the people. People are the means by which the purpose is achieved. By creating goals for people and allowing regular little releases of Dopamine, there is a means by which individuals can be aligned to the purpose. Treating a customer well, achieving a high NPS score or acing first call resolution are just some of the examples of how, if orchestrated well, chemical substances can be used to drive the right behaviour in the team. Passion is, in many respects, the result of all of the EDSO chemicals pumping at full speed but particularly the leveraging of Serotonin and potentially Oxytocin. Through collaboration, through alignment of a team of people to a common goal and through being part of a winning team, the EDSO cocktail can unleash passion in an organisation. Customer Experience Management is not a simple endeavour and it needs a lot of elements to be lined up correctly to ensure the group of passionate people are correctly aligned to make a customer have a great experience. This can only be achieved through the use of a platform and a supporting program. The inQuba platform and supporting TribeX program is the means by which we model customer experience, understand the moments of truth, make sure that everyone understands their role in delivering to the customer experience and how we blatantly exploit the power of the EDSO substances. Through gamification and providing incentives to people we are able to carefully align people to the purpose of an organisation.
The Endorphin, Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin foursome are very powerful. They drive someone like me to take on extraordinary challenges for no pay and no reward (I have not and will never win a multi stage event). Imagine how, with the right program, you can combine the power of these forces to achieve amazing results with your team when you have the added benefit of real organisation rewards that can be shared with a successful team. Human nature is a combination of selfish and selfless drivers. It is through this understanding that TribeX is able to deliver amazing customer experiences within an organisation.