Hi Anthony, tell us about yourself and your background.
I have worked in the technology industry in various capacities for 20 years. However, my background is languages and I began my career as a translator of French and German. Today, I head up global Sales Operations at StarTech.com, a leading technology manufacturer with a global footprint.
The study of languages has given me an ongoing interest in cross-cultural communication. This has been a key factor in my career having been focused on international business and I’ve been fortunate to have worked in over 20 countries to date. Achieving excellence in the customer experience becomes especially fascinating when cross-cultural components are introduced.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
The “Experience Gap” first coined by Bain & Company illustrates perfectly one of the biggest misunderstandings surrounding CX, namely that 80% of executives believe that their businesses deliver a superior customer experience, whilst only 8% of their customers agree. Whatever the business model, CX is not a single event and can be overlooked as an essential business function – whether this sits within a dedicated group, with an individual, or is spread wide across the business. What customers value is evolving continuously and to deliver a solid customer experience, organizations must understand this and adapt their approach accordingly. As a result, CX work is never done.
A good customer experience is delivered via a deliberate approach that a business takes towards understanding what its customers value at every step of the value chain. Crucially, customer-focused organizations must put processes and controls in place that harness this understanding to ensure they deliver value consistently. Only then do they start to close the Experience Gap.
I had a boss who once said that they spent “day and night thinking about what’s important to customers.” In a truly customer-centric business, everyone is a CX professional, and everyone is always thinking of how they can do it better.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
I believe businesses are often data rich, yet insight poor. Enhanced analytics – getting additional customer insight from the data in which we all seem to be drowning – is essential to the future of an effective CX practice.
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
Regardless of the size and nature of a company, effective customer segmentation is fundamental to customer loyalty and retention. Using existing data & defining a handful of customer types is the first step towards this. Without such a framework, we are attempting to serve the needs of the “average” customer, when we know that no such thing exists. Through gaining a thorough understanding of our segmented customer types, we can decide how we want their experiences to look and thus begin to serve the different requirements of those customers, providing a better customer experience for them and, therefore, help improve loyalty and retention.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
It can be tempting both for organizations and CX professionals to chase a score rather than address the reasons they achieve the scores they do, particularly with NPS. In a customer service environment, I find CSAT to be a very effective measure, whilst I would use NPS as a leading indicator of business performance. CES could be effective when used in conjunction with NPS to get a deeper look at customer loyalty.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
CX is founded on customer understanding. Social media is an elegant way of bringing a business closer to the customer and can help us become more conscious of the customer’s needs. For any business serious about social media and CX, learning how they can use different platforms to engage their customers – not bombard them with irrelevant content – is essential. For example, utilising social media to improve customer service is a magnificent opportunity for companies to upgrade their CX, both through opening an additional avenue for the customer to make contact, and also as a means of conducting research and gathering data.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
Most of us will have interacted with such chatbots at one time or another, sometimes without even noticing. With our current technology, I think they can be used effectively in situations where they complement, rather than replace the contact with real people.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
I’m a genealogy geek and have an interest in history, so I tend to like movies that connect us to the past. For that reason, I enjoyed “The Dig” immensely.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
The best metrics can link directly to our business strategy and how we use the strategy to deliver value to our customers. A combination of metrics is likely most appropriate, bearing in mind that they should not be onerous to report or understand. Crucially, they should link the CX practice to tangible business results. The best CX metrics may not be CX metrics at all.