The Joy of CX: the CIM behind the curtain

Our second guest of the season is seasoned #CommsHero, Stu Kaley, Associate Director of Customer Experience (CX) and Operations at The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

With a career that began in music retail and took him to London, Stu developed a passion for everything customer and operational customer-focus. He then moved into the food industry and worked on multi-brand (owned and franchised) customer experience strategy across the UK and Europe, developing his love of CX even further.

From there, Stu then led CX and digitalisation in barcoding, dairy farming, social housing, and lastly retail before moving to CIM in Jan 2022. He has a wide experience across business functions with a particular passion for communications and engagement, on top of CX.

Night owl Stu loves nothing more than disappearing into a book at the beach; printed natch. We do love the smell of a real life book. He won’t have to wait long for beach and book times as he’s jetting off to soak up some Moroccan sun at Easter. Jealous? Us?
He joined Asif – a CIM member since 1997 (wait…that can’t be right!) – to talk about changes afoot at The Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Stu Kaley

Key topics

Five weeks into the role, Stu is still new to the business. He says: “I’m looking at the customer experience team and operations team – when anyone tries to contact CIM then they’re the ones at the end of the phone; or web chat or email.

“A huge part of what we’re up to at the moment is replacing all of our systems, including our CRM system and I’ve got background in digitalization, so that’s the major project that’s just landed on my desk, which is a bit scary, but I’m really looking forward to that and I’ve just been handed our digital development team as well.”

The pandemic may have halted in person events, but we move. Says Stu: “In person was a huge piece for us across our training courses, qualifications, and loads of the great events that we used to do.

“We had started kind of on the digital journey already. We already used Teams prior to COVID hitting and everyone having to work from home.

“We had already started thinking about how we use social media digital platforms to reach out to our members and customers. And I guess the biggest change over that time has been moving our offering to digital, which was relatively easy, thankfully, but in terms of the engagement with our membership, I think it’s been around curating and co-authoring and an active community.

“But also, we’ve been doing a lot of listening.

“We’ve also been using that to kind of pulse check what’s going on.”

Stu takes us behind the curtain: “Even though we’re a business with a very rich history and we’ve been around for a long time, then we’re really willing to embrace change and so when it came to having to digitalise our training and our qualifications, and some of the events that we’re doing, no-one saw that as an issue and they were able to react very quickly because it wasn’t a really scary concept.”

The pandemic has put a greater emphasis on people, skills and listening. Says Stu: “We have a very broad spectrum when it comes to the age of our team members, but what I would say is that probably with The Great Resignation it has given us a chance to really look at how we are operating.

“What do we want to do and what do we want to achieve? And have we got the skill sets necessary to do that? There has been new blood coming in; that’s been fantastic, because that’s allowed us to look at things slightly differently.

“It’s great because no one gets defensive and says, we’ve always done it that way therefore, it has to remain.

“I think hierarchies are obviously necessary for businesses to operate, but that doesn’t mean that we all have to act like Victorians in terms of who we can talk to and who we can’t talk to. I think it’s that levelling that is needed and funnily enough I was having a conversation with my boss, Chris, the CEO the other day and we were talking about ‘humanising authority’.”

Stu is positive. “I think we’re going to continue to evolve.

“I think we’re going to move more and more into a space where our Members are co-creating our content and managing our communities as well.”

The CIM has introduced new member benefits. “That’s an opportunity for our fellow Members to share insight, to connect with other people, to actively create a community, and as a fellow member, you can do as little or as much as you want to do.

“I’m really excited to hear from our members more in terms of humanising marketing because we can all read textbooks, or go on a course and learn X,Y and Z but actually I really want to understand how that company did it. I really want to get more of the members’ voices in to understand what they’re doing and what’s their reality.”

Marrying theory with practice is an essential part of learning, agrees Asif, citing our own CommsHero Elliot Cierpol at Resource who is studying a CIM course. Says Asif: “He actually saw that he’d been part of a growth strategy, but it just didn’t have a theory attached to it. So that was quite refreshing for him.”

Aside from name drops for our fave, Jenni Field, a #CommsHero stalwart, friend and former colleague of Stu, he says: “I’d recommend everyone to be part of the CommsHero community. I think you don’t necessarily need to work in comms and marketing, and communication is key to so many different roles.”

The show notes are the creation of friend of #CommsHero Teela Clayton.


Porter’s Five Forces

Jenny Field – Influential Internal Communication

Fancy getting in the hot seat and sharing your CommsHero wisdom? Contact Asif Choudry

You’ll find this podcast on Spotify, Apple and on our website Please leave a rating and review.

This episode is sponsored by Blink. The world’s first enterprise app designed exclusively for frontline workers.