Young Beginnings, The Piano And Observations
This story begins when I was five years old. I was sat at the piano in the school hall with Miss Evans. I’ll never forget her, her kind smile, bright eyes and her willingness to recognise and respect me for exactly who I was.
You wouldn’t think that would impact a child so young, would you? But it really did. You see, Miss Evans was the kind of teacher that I wish every child on this earth had. She encouraged me to be unapologetically myself. Had she not, I’m not sure I would be doing what I am doing today.
What mattered to me, mattered to her and she made me feel like it was ok to be who I was. This was refreshing when I was surrounded by teachers who would often remark: ‘Victoria can’t you do the same as your friends’ or ‘Victoria can’t you just conform like everyone else’… I could make a book of things I heard and I think to myself now, if only every teacher would take the time to make every child individually matter, what impact that could have on the rest of their lives?
We could create a world of incredible talent. That’s for sure.
Anyway, back to younger me, I wasn’t one to fit in, and I took great pleasure in music.
Miss Evans knew that music was my thing, and being a teacher who specialised in it, she would spend plenty of time, listening to me plinky plonking on the piano. I remember how she would enthuse – even over the incorrect notes.
When I asked her once how she could be happy about ‘wrong notes’, I remember her telling me how wrong notes were a sign of determination. They meant that you were trying and if you were trying, really trying your hardest, you’d always make progress and that progress was better than perfect.
When I think back now, it was quite an in-depth lesson and conversation to be having at a young age, but that was the thing with Miss Evans, she was open and honest and talked with me in such a way that I understood exactly what she was saying. She was full of these lessons and delivered them perfectly for a young child with kindness and excitement’ but, she spoke with me in a more adult fashion than any of the other teachers who didn’t really show that they had the time for ‘square pegs in round holes’ kind of children.
Miss Evans made me matter. She made every child matter, individually as humans.
A Sad Christmas And An Important Lesson.
I remember it being a very cold Christmas and all of the children piled into the local church for our Annual Christmas Concert. Then it was the turn of my class and one by one we shuffled to the front of the church to sing our Christmas carols, accompanied by Miss Evans on the piano. She conducted us with her usual ‘smiling eyes’ and then everything changed, she started playing incorrect notes, this wasn’t like her, but we carried on singing and then something awful hppened, that I won’t ever forget. She collapsed at the piano. We were ushered off stage and soon the paramedics arrived, she was taken away and a couple of days later we were told she had died because of a brain haemorrhage.
I was devastated. I’m not sure if I knew too much about grief and death at that age, but I do know it left a gaping hole for me. As the weeks, months and years (eventually) have unfolded, I have picked this experience apart and tried to make sense of it and just why she was so special. In grief we examine more about a person and what they meant to us than if they were still alive. It’s sad, but it’s true. Her death made me really look at why she had such a positive impact on me and it is by looking back retrospectively that I can see ‘Making People Matter’ was a lesson from her to me and I have used that in every are of my life and also to build my business.
The polarising experience of Miss Evans kindness, support and encouragement contrasted with the lack of it from other teachers, made it clear to me that making people matter was imperative to building relationships. She made such an impact on me by making me matter, If Miss Evans had a shop full of merchandise, I would still be buying it today, almost three decades after her passing. I couldn’t say the same of the other teachers.
Her Legacy And My Application.
It’s really not surprising that I ended up working in Customer Experience. I want to make every person I work with matter. I want every brand to make people matter. Customer Experience is often used a ‘trendy term’, and a customer experience strategy can often be a tickbox exercise that brands feel they need to ‘tick off’ to show that they have one.
I work with brands to understand that this is about far more than just having a customer experience strategy. It’s about people. I help brands to weave people experience through every part of brand culture. Every brand in the world, big or small, has one thing in common; People. Make people matter and your brand will matter to them.
The past eight years have been transformational. I have consulted on and created experiences beyond my wildest dreams for some of the most creative and exciting companies in the world. I’ve spoken on stages globally and sat in some of the most challenging boardroom discussions I’ve ever experienced. You see, when it comes to customer experience, it is challenging and exciting, and it revolves around something unpredictable; humans.
Humans don’t feel like they matter when they are treated in a formulaic fashion. Do you? Can you remember the last time that you were treated like a number, and it felt good? I didn’t think so. So when I sit in boardrooms and all I hear is ‘customer processes, mapping, numbers and customer journeys’ etc., I’ll challenge it.
When companies put people at the centre of everything and commit to ‘making people matter’ everything flourishes; culture betters, innovation booms, employees are happier and profits rise.
Customer Experience is one of the most transformational elements to every brand on this planet, but those customers are people first, and when we make them matter as people first, your brand will matter to them. That is Miss Evans Legacy.
I’m almost nearing a decade in my consultancy now, and it’s been driven by determination, grit and purpose to make every person matter. It’s easy to list the accolades and clients that I have worked with, I wish however, that I was able to measure the number of ‘impacts’ that I have made or the number of ‘impacts’ my clients have made. THAT would be more fulfilling! To know how many people I have ‘Made Matter’ would be something I would love to know.
What I will say though, is that the mission continues, no matter what the project, the purpose remains, Make People Matter. I’m grateful for the experiences that I have had so far, and I look forward to many more. ‘We are currently living in what I believe is one of the most challenging, but also one of the most exciting times to be in business’ As customers become more and more in control, and their attention is a continuous moving target, the brands that commit to ‘Make People Matter’ will be the ones that do well. I often wonder if Miss Evans can see the good she has put into the world and how she ignited my passion and purpose that has driven me so far. I’m pretty sure she would smile kindly with her friendly eyes and say ‘Well done love’ as she used to when I played the correct notes.
Make People Matter. We can all do it every day. Will you?