Meet the Judge: Karine Cardona-Smits
A few weeks ago, we launched our Meet the Judge campaign to introduce the industry experts who will be assessing the 2023 Engage Awards submissions. These awards celebrate achievements across the entire spectrum of customer and employee engagement, allowing companies of all sizes to share their success stories.
To help you write an awards entry that stands out from the competition, we have now spoken to the CX and design expert, Karine Cardona-Smits. In an interview with Engage Customer’s Editor, Karine shared a little bit about herself and her professional achievements. More importantly, she revealed what she will be looking for in this year’s entries.
PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND YOUR ROLE.
I am Karine Cardona-Smits, a customer experience and design expert. I have a background in Psychology combined with 20+ years of professional experience in digital. When the Internet started to be a thing, I founded a web agency in the sunny south of France. I ran it for about ten years. I always felt that there was more to good design than screens.
Experience design is not about screens but about individuals interacting with a product, a service or other individuals. I challenged the boundaries of the design work I was assigned and naturally took more senior roles in UX, UX strategy and service design before joining Forrester Research as a senior analyst. There, I conducted in-depth research related to UX, customer experience and customer service as a driver for CX quality. I authored and co-authored 50+ research reports for leaders in CX, design and digital and shared my expertise with a wider audience as a keynote speaker at CX and design events.
Today, I advise and mentor experience design leaders and their teams, and I pursue research in the space of teams’ psychological safety, collaboration and their impact on employee experience.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT? WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM IT?
After a decade working in web, I joined MOBGEN, an agency with a focus on mobile experiences in Amsterdam. I was tasked with setting up the service design practice and team. Specifically, hiring a dozen of service designers that ended up forming a well-balanced, creative and productive team; mentoring them through each client engagement and supporting their career was one of the best experiences I had, and I am grateful for the confidence MOBGEN’s CEO and Design Director had in me.
I learned a lot from this experience, particularly about how diversity drives creativity. Each member of my team had a different background of education, different origin, different language, and different skill sets. Their differences helped them to consider design challenges through different perspectives and allowed them to better understand the complexity our clients were facing before collaborating on creating better experiences for customers or employees.
AS AN ENGAGE AWARDS JUDGE, WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES AN AWARDS ENTRY STAND OUT?
An award entry stands out to me when it combines three elements:
- A good problem statement. Don’t be shy highlighting the issues you are trying to tackle, give me a good understanding of the problem with some evidence-based elements to it that will help me grasp what you were dealing with and how important it was for your organisation.
- A clear approach to it: What did you set up to tackle your problem? Who did you involve? How did you proceed? How did you plan to measure success? I am interested in your thinking and in everything you did – including what did not work. Don’t hide the bumps in the road, I want to know about them. Tell me what you learned from them and how you course corrected.
- And finally, the outcomes you achieved. Bring some tangible evidence to them, both quantitative and qualitative.
WHAT TIPS WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO WISH TO ENTER THE 2023 ENGAGE AWARDS?
Avoid the sales pitch in your application. Those awards are about the change you created to improve experiences with your customers, your employees and/or your partners. We are looking for good stories that can inspire others to also try something different in their organisations.
If you have a success story you would like to share, make sure you submit your entry here by July 17th. Judging will commence on July 24th, the finalists will be revealed on September 18th, and the winners will be awarded at the annual Engage Awards Ceremony on November 28th.