24 Hours With… Raj Mendes, managing director at The Customer Experience Company

24 Hours With… spotlights the working day of some of the most interesting people in Mumbrella’s world. Today we speak with Raj Mendes, managing director at The Customer Experience Company.

Mumbrella Official 24 Hours With Logo


5:58AM My alarm goes off and I quickly roll over and hit the silence button. I set my alarm for 5:58AM every morning allowing precisely two minutes to get up and let out my cats Sassi and Zoe from their indoor overnight prison and set them free into the rest of the house, before grabbing the remote from my bedside table and turning on the television to Channel 9 to watch the start of the Today Show.


Karl and Lisa are in the early stages of banter and are discussing the news of the day. As the headlines start hitting, I listen to their loud laugher as background noise, while picking up my phone to check my Snapchat.

I’m typically no Snapchat aficionado, however my 18-year-old daughter Naomi, is currently taking a gap year in England, and her preferred method of daily communication and updates is via Snapchat.

New to the Snapchat scene, I open a video she has sent of the school she’s at and the kids she’s playing hide-and-seek with. It’s been eight months since I’ve seen her, so it’s good to see her face, even if it is only via a 10-second video snippet.

24hrs-with-raj-mendes-snapchat-from-naomi6:20AM TV still playing in the background, I jump out of bed for a quick shower and a shave and I’m back in my bedroom by 6:50AM on the dot to watch Ross Greenwood and his daily ‘Money Minute’ segment.

This is the real reason I switch on Today – I like what Ross has to say. He delivers the big news in finance in a completely relatable way. Today he’s talking about the global market and the impact of lowering interest rates. As soon as Ross has finished his 60 seconds, the TV is turned off and I head to the kitchen to grab some breakfast.

6:55AM My 15-year-old son, Harrison, is already sitting out in the kitchen, phone in hand. He says good morning to me without even looking up from his phone. As I crash around the kitchen, cooking my breakfast of fried eggs and avocado, we have a chat about the day ahead.


He has created a Facebook page called ‘Kahoot! Memes’. Kahoot! is an educational game they use at school and, without understanding the detail and how he’s made it happen, his page filled with memes has somehow ended up with 170,000 followers.

He shows me a GIF he is planning on posting later today and I tell him how impressed I am. I also try to hide the confusion on my face which I’m sure clearly says: ‘I still don’t get what ‘Kahoot!’ is’.


7:45AM I leave the house and walk to the train station in the morning sunshine. While I’m walking, I contemplate the day ahead and run through my work schedule. There’s one meeting in particular I mentally prepare for, a session with one of our fintech clients where I need to be across the numbers and insights.

I’ve also been booked into a few conversations. One is with a client where we’ll be running over what we achieved with NZ Inland Revenue, where a successful customer transformation journey resulted in a revenue increase for them of $62m.

Today’s client is in a completely different industry, but the principles are the same – by organisations focusing on the empathetic side of their customer experience and journey, impressive business gains can be achieved.

I manage to snag a seat on the train this morning, pop my earphones in, and listen to James Morrison while I continue to plan for the day ahead. Before I know it, the train pulls into Wynyard station.

8:25AM Fighting the commuter crush on the way through the station, I decide not to stop for coffee and head straight towards our new design centre at Macquarie Place.

We have recently moved into an incredible purpose-designed workspace in Sydney and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet – I still get a buzz of excitement as I exit the lift and approach the glowing sign at the end of the corridor and the emerging view.24hrs-with-raj-mendes-ladies-and-sydney-harbour-bridge-view-smaller

A mix of modern, warehouse-style innovation centre and collaboration ‘treehouse’ (we sit perched at the tree line next to a magnificent Hills Weeping Fig, nestled between sandstone buildings, clock towers and glazed skyscrapers) it also has stunning views over Circular Quay to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

The location and setting is truly special and we chose it as it actually feels like a reflection of us as an organisation – a combination of extraordinary elements that combine together make something even greater. As a place for us, it feels ‘right’.

In terms of design, our team worked with interior design firm BVN to create an environment which reflects and amplifies the way we work.

The space is designed around the concept of the ability to ‘pivot’ – both in layout and ideas. An amazingly flexible space incorporating a bespoke whiteboard panel track system (we’re told it’s the first of it’s kind), it allows us to continually evolve and create different zones for workspaces, events, and whatever we need.

A big space for big ideas! In the past six weeks we’ve hosted a launch event for over 150 people (celebrating our recent rebrand and new office space) and three client workshops; including a telco workshop with 30 members, a complex stakeholder journey mapping workshop and a pivotal financial industry member group strategy discussion around digital convergence.24hrs-with-raj-mendes-with-man-cropped

In the new year we’ll kick off again with our industry-leading breakfast event series. As we’d planned for, the new space is opening up a myriad of potential opportunities, and it really feels like we’re now in an environment that reflects us as a business and the way we think and work.

I walk through the big double doors, past the CEC illuminated sign which is glowing brightly, and say hello to the team members already sitting within the office.

I walk over to my favourite spot, the lounge suite facing the water, and pull out my new iPad Pro. I’m almost continuously ‘mobile’ and have become essentially ‘paperless’, so around two months ago I replaced my computer for this much smaller and compact device to enable even greater flexibility.

I start flicking through emails.

My team have sent through a project summary before my first meeting of the morning with one of our fintech clients, which I run my eyes over. They have a great product and market dominance but realise they need to become more customer-centric to maintain success.

We’ve been working on getting their whole team on board to transition to customer-focused KPI’s and developing a system that will empower employees to give the best customer experience.

This is done through a series of workshops that involve hearing real customer feedback and stories, engaging activities to build a customised internal framework and strategic planning sessions to ensure success for both the client and the customer. Empowering the front-line staff is key to success here, to transform the customer’s experience.

9:30AM Our client walks into the office, and after showing them through our new work environment (something we’re delighted to do after they’ve walked in and have exclaimed ‘oh wow, what a great space’), we settle into our ‘Harbour Room’ (no prizes for guessing how it was named… yes, it’s the one with the harbour view).24hrs-with-raj-mendes-sydney-harbour-bridge-viewMy focus primarily is now on relationships and as a challenger to our team and clients’ thinking, rather than focusing on technical day-to-day elements.

My team begin taking the client through the key insights around their current customer experience, recommendations for improvements and the next steps, suggesting that a new script be created, and the focus fundamentally shifting from staff wanting to (and being required to) get their customers off the phone by dealing with enquiries quickly, to being encouraged to enhance the customer’s experience.

Rather than allocating bonuses and setting KPI’s based on speed and minimum effort, customer satisfaction needs to become the new metric for success.

A co-design discussion begins and is being shaped on the surrounding whiteboards, with rapid iterations and active (and excited) client involvement. We begin creating customised tools that will involve the client in the design thinking process to achieve goal alignment and to design systems which actually put the customer first.

Our client is engaged with the various suggestions and we go on to agree the roadmap for the project. There is still a lot to explore and unearth, but ultimately, the stepping stones are in place.

After we bid our client farewell, I indulge in one of the chocolate croissants (one of my favourite treats) which is still sitting on a large platter in the centre of the meeting room table and whilst biting into the flaky pastry, we discuss the outcome of the meeting and our strategy for the client moving forward.

pain au chocolat, horizontal, tradition Fran?aise, pain

10:45AM I leave the office and race over to the Intercontinental Hotel to meet with Mitch, my personal trainer. I organise three sessions a week within the working day as I tend to not be an ‘early morning person’ and I purposely plan to spend time with my family in the evening.  These sessions also break up the day and offer a renewed burst of energy while ensuring I have work/life balance on my side.

Mitch has boxing on the menu today, and after an intense 60-minute workout, I feel like I’m ready to take on Danny Green. I know my sore muscles tomorrow will pull me swiftly back to reality though.

1:00PM En route to the office, I realise how hungry I am. Eggs and avocado seem like a long time ago, as does the chocolate croissant. I do the rounds of the food court near our office and I pick up a Guzman y Gomez spicy chicken salad to take away.

I come back to our office and take a seat at the huge custom-made bench we have in the centre of the office where some other team members are enjoying lunch. The conversation ranges from work, to some light banter.

One of the team is securing the details of how to brew a dark ale from Megan who is our marketing manager, and also the esteemed winner of our recent in-office ‘brew-off’ home-made beer competition.

24hrs-with-raj-mendes-brewoff2:15PM I head back to the lounge area and log into Podio, it’s a project management and collaboration tool – a key tool that we’ve used to facilitate this – it offers the team an overview of activity based on each specific project and allows people to collaborate easily. It also gives me a great bird’s-eye view and alerts me to anything urgent I need to consider and approve before it gets shared.

Between phone calls and quick catch-ups, I glance at the ferries go past as I start to clear key items in Podio.

There’s an alert noting that one of our clients has started the next phase of a huge change management project, redesigning a series of customer service storefronts around the country, that is going to not only improve employee satisfaction, but also boost productivity.

This is vital to customer experience and is a significant shift in approach for the organisation. I can’t wait to see this implemented, see the real-time results and the impact it has on the business.

4:00PM I walk through the office to see my EA and business manager, Carolyn, and ask about some scheduling for the week to come. We lock in a few meetings and prioritise some client events that I’ll attend.

As I walk away from her hotspot desk today, I can see there is a team sitting in a cluster, next to one of our moving whiteboard walls, energetically planning and strategising.

The team is working on a NSW Government project, seeking a solution to reduce the burden surrounding government regulations for particular industries and create a more consumer friendly environment as a result.

I pull up a chair and sit in as this project team collaborates to solve the problem, using design thinking. I stare at the writing on the board, the complex diagrams and listen to the conversation and start thinking.


I see part of my role as asking the questions that others might not, to challenge and help keep things progressing and innovative.

I suspect some of my team would occasionally call it ‘meddling’ but I call it tackling the core problem with a fresh set of eyes.

I ask about some of their research with customers and their thought processes so far and we start discussing solutions and looking at it from a different perspective. We haven’t solved all of the problems of the world, but we’re not far off – at the bare minimum we have some great starting points and ways to empower consumers when interacting with government bodies.

5:30PM Saying goodbye to the team in the office, I walk the eight minutes back to Wynyard station and brace myself for the after-work peak hour crowds.

Jumping on the train that will take me towards home, I sit down, take out my iPad and use my trip to do some additional thinking on the strategic plan for The Customer Experience Company. We tend to work around a static plan for the business, but we also have a clear direction on where things are moving and our leadership team responds to this on a quarterly basis.

We’ve achieved substantial growth and change over the past three years and we’ve learned that ‘3 year plans’ are essentially worthless; preferring to keep adaptable, agile, always ‘aware’ and conscious of the rapidly evolving business and technological environment around us.

We review and adapt our strategy quarterly to keep up with the industry trends and stay ahead of the game. To create the best experience, we have to stay on top of the changes in tech, especially chatbots.

I leave the train and walk back to my place considering the role intelligence will play in better understanding the needs of the consumer and their personal journey. There’s so much that is unknown, but I really believe this theory itself will be an integral part of the future.

6:30PM I arrive home and change out of my suit into a t-shirt and shorts. The smell of dinner is wafting through the house and my wife, Nicole, is cooking a stunning Asian inspired salad with cabbage, herbs and marinated pork.

She used to work in catering and her talents in the kitchen know no bounds. I’ve recently signed up for OzHarvest’s CEO Cook-off, so she’s teaching me a few tips and tricks to bring to the table.

We sit down to eat dinner and Nicole, our youngest and I chat about our day. Mostly our son gets the spotlight as we listen to the after-school update. Nicole was busy today helping our former neighbours, and now friends, who are in their late 90s around their house and garden.

My eldest son, Liam, hasn’t yet arrived home. There will be a 50/50 chance we’ll see him tonight, as he tends to work long hours as a cadet at Ernst & Young.

7:15PM Daylight savings in our family means more evening hours spent in the garden. Gardening is not one of my natural born talents, however Nicole has a green thumb, so under her strict instructions I begin watering plants in the required amount, enjoying being outside, and the subtle stress relief it brings.

7:45PM As a family, we congregate around the television and flip through the channels. I’m not ashamed to admit that we love a little bit of reality TV, and now that Survivor has finished, we’ve started watching First Dates for some light entertainment and banter.

It’s not quite the same as watching the tenacity and drive of the contestants on Survivor as they go through gruelling challenges, but the quest for love and relationships is interesting in itself.

After walking in our customer’s shoes all day, it’s time to relax. I’m now more than happy to be taking the seat of a viewer, sitting on my lounge eating a Mango and Macadamia Weis bar, my favourite dessert.

mango-and-macadamia-weis-bar - weis website

9:30PM I step into the kitchen for nightly coffee duty, using our coffee machine to make two full cream cappuccinos for Nicole and I. Most people balk at the thought of having caffeine so late, but it has zero effect on us, we love it for the taste alone.

As we sit down to do some final channel surfing and sip our coffee, we receive a FaceTime call from our daughter in the UK who wants to chat during her break. We talk more about her trip and the kids she is looking after. It makes me miss her terribly, but I’m very proud of her and what she is achieving and learning while over there.

She seems reluctant to hang up the phone, so we suggest she ‘watches’ the tail end of a late-night movie with us via FaceTime. Nothing like bringing quality family time into the digital age across continents.

10:15PM It’s time for bed. I curl up under the covers with a lamp on and pull my book out from a bedside table. I’m currently reading The Girl on the Train and I’m really enjoying it, it’s a real page turner.

The team at work know I love a good book but it’s usually publications like Mahan Kalsa’s Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play or David Maister’s The Trusted Advisor that I talk about, so they might be a little surprised I was reading anything other than a ‘business book’!

A couple of chapters later and I force myself to put the book down. Before I go to sleep, I get out of bed and run through my slow 5-minute stretching routine. It’s not yoga, but it’s all about relaxing the muscles before bed. I sleep better, and feel much better in the mornings as a result.

11:00PM A final glance over my emails and Podio and I can see a last-minute meeting has popped up tomorrow morning internally to talk through some future casting techniques and activity.

Future casting is an exercise where we challenge clients to step outside of their own day-to-day processes and envisage future threats, cultural changes, disruptions and opportunities – anything that may impact the future of the business. This exercise is a powerful tool to transform thinking and strategise for the future of the business.

We worked with a Big 4 Bank to conceptualise the future of small business loans –  for example, the potential of an expanding new market of elderly customers, who are retired with a wealth of knowledge and time. It’s a great way to get companies thinking differently from their current processes and conceptualise any possible scenario.

I accept the request, lock it in my diary and look forward to talking about the shift in customer experience in the insurance sector and what we might expect. Robots answering phone calls? Visual verification of claims sent by video upload? Maybe next year we’ll be teaching robots empathy, you never know.

I get comfortable in bed, say goodnight to Nicole and just before turning out the lights I set my alarm for 5:58am. In a few hours it will be time to step into a new customer’s shoes – who knows, your next amazing customer experience may have been designed by us.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.