Hi Bill, tell us about yourself, your background?
l have been a CIO and CTO for three startups as well as Vice President, Corporate Strategy- Global Banking and Financial Markets for Huawei Technologies, a CIO and CTO for a Blockchain Strategy and Technology company in the US, and a Principal Advisor for a CIO Advisory Consulting firm. Additionally, I’ve spent most of my 25+ year career with IBM, KPMG, and Wells Fargo Bank, stationed in Europe, Americas, and Asia-Pacific regions working holding various senior leadership roles such as CIO, CTO, Principal Technology Architect, Client Technical Leader, and Executive Architect.
My focus areas of scope and coverage include the further definition and development of Digital Platforms, Architecture, and Technology Strategy with the formulation of new solutions encompassing technology and business architectures, emerging technologies centered on AI/Analytics, Blockchain, Mobile/Digital, Drones, Quantum Computing and evolving business models in the Financial Services, Real Estate, Telecom and Healthcare sectors as well as integration and further interoperability across the financial services sector.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
CX is the only way that your clients can perceive your company, and that can have huge consequences for your bottom line. According to experience management platform Experience.com, companies that are considered CX leaders saw a 183% return rate on their customer care efforts. That’s nearly three times that of CX laggards. Brands can use consumer review data to improve customer’s experience through the following:
- By fully understanding and mapping out the customer journey from A-Z to contextually better understand the scope of the review and what was of vital importance to consumers
- Gathering and using customer feedback holistically and efficiently. It all starts with mechanisms for collecting customer feedback, which can be a mix of formal and informal methods. Any type of interaction between you and your customers can be considered feedback – from face-to-face structured client satisfaction interviews to a standard questionnaire sent out by email to analyzing social media comments. Set things up so that the end result is an actionable report that guides your company towards a constantly evolving and strengthening customer experience.
- Driving digitization and the tools, applications, and platforms utilized to capture feedback. It is no doubt the responsibility of corporations to utilize digital to improve the customer experience. Here, there are endless scenarios, such as the use of live chat to get quick answers to your website visitors, or easing opportunities for customers to provide feedback in digital format (be it a complaint or just a general overall rating of your service), or using customer experience management software to channel feedback to the right department and provide reporting to senior management on how issues are being handled, and so on. There are tools for just about anything nowadays, and it is more about putting the right ones in place for your particular company needs and then ensuring they are actually being used in a proper way. Taking it a step further, digitization can also be about building custom platforms that enable prospects and clients to have round-the-clock access to your products and services and to advanced customer support that makes the experience as easy and convenient as possible.
- Make customer-centricity part of your company culture and give it a purpose. Customer experience isn’t exclusive to your sales and customer service teams. It needs to be a priority for the entire company– from the C-suite to the ground floor. In other words, customer centricity needs to be an intrinsic part of your corporate culture.
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
To me, the most important element is the customer journey, and where this intersects with the boundaries of your company business strategy and capabilities digitally and technically. In other words, How embedded in the customer’s life do you want to be, and are capable of meaningfully delivering this enhanced experience?
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
Yes, without a doubt. We all saw this past year during the pandemic in multiple geographies how this played out and how those companies that offered personalized platform experiences thrived during the pandemic more than ever before. It’s no longer being faster and cheaper in terms of the customer experience. You have to be “better” also, and to achieve this it’s through personalization and further broader and deeper customer eccentricity.
What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?
I’ve outlined some of these in my previous answers, especially around harnessing consumer reviews and feedback data for further insights. In addition:
- Make it “purpose-focused” and you’ll be guided by the right strategy. To be clear, you’ll want to have an overall customer-centricity focus that “services the company by serving the customer experience”. What is the point of improved customer experience after all? It is about building a better, bigger, and more profitable company. These pursuits are never-ending ones in the corporate world.
- If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to develop a blueprint that defines your company’s philosophy on customer service, then share this document with your employees. Now that’s the easy part. The harder task is getting them to live it, and there is no one way to do that.
- Translating your vision of a customer-centric company culture into an actual one takes a lot more than just telling people what you want. Sure, you’ll want to remind them regularly through special events and workshops, but much more importantly, you’ll have to build it into the workflow. Then it simply becomes an automatic part of the everyday efforts, where practicing over and over makes it perfect.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
Definitely “Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets are Transforming the Economy–and How to make the work for you” This book is a textbook on a platform strategy, and how to get to customer-centricity from multiple sides and definition of the “customer”.
Bill’s predictions for the future of CX
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
Back to some of the points and themes I mentioned earlier. Those industries that become further “embedded” in customer’s lives respectfully, securely, safely, and unobtrusively to offer convenience through personalization resulting in faster, cheaper, and better will not only survive, but they will thrive for the next generation. To make this happen from a technology enablement perspective, it will be about technology convergence through platforms and microservices, not individual technologies in silos or isolation.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Actually, it’s two of them. Customer Effort Score (CES) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). I specifically like these two as they reflect not only “Faster, and Cheaper, but from a longer-term and repeat business perspective they are of vital importance and more insightful.