Hi Chris, tell us about yourself, your background?
I grew up in a small Indiana town with a population of 3,000. I’m the oldest of five siblings and was raised by a remarkable single mom. Now, I live in Texas with my amazing wife, Arum, and daughter, Izzy. My career has been full of different chapters and unique experiences.
I started my career as a U.S. Marine Corps Finance Officer before starting up a B2C online business. After a successful exit, I joined Deloitte Consulting to lead their Public Sector Automation practice. After five years with Deloitte, I left to serve as the Chief Strategy Officer of an Intelligent Automation software company called Kofax. It’s been quite a ride!
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
Every industry is investing in delivering improved personalized experiences to their customers. A key challenge companies must overcome is finding a way to analyze data as quickly as it’s being generated. To address this issue, companies are heavily investing in AI and automation to read, understand and generate insights from online data, such as consumer reviews.
90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years, which points to a challenge and an opportunity. As I mentioned, the challenge is that companies are struggling to analyze the data as fast as it’s being generated. The opportunity is that those companies investing wisely in automation and AI to consume and analyze data are seeing greater business speed and agility, and ultimately the ability to make personalized services available to their customers.
Chris’ tips for personalization
What tips do you have for companies that want to improve their personalization strategies?
If a company isn’t known for great customer service, I advise a business model transformation approach that balances culture transformation along with business model and technology innovation. One mechanism to accelerate the necessary modernization efforts is to create a cross-functional customer experience program and assign it to a c-level executive.
Many companies have established new c-suite roles, including Chief Customer and Experience Officer, to focus on a holistic customer journey requiring cross-functional touchpoints spanning pre-sales, sales, and post-sales. Taking a singular view across the entire customer journey provides the opportunity to optimize resource deployment while modernizing back-office ‘shadow’ activities and front-office customer touchpoints.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
I have no doubt that the demand for personalized services and experiences will continue to increase. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, consumers have been conditioned to get the things they want when and how they want them. And when companies don’t provide services or products with the expected experience, consumers are able to rapidly search for another vendor. Along with the ability to find another vendor, consumers have reviews and feedback at their fingertips, so they’re able to evaluate the quality of a service or a product before making the decision. Specific to buying behaviors, consumers and organizations are buying via subscription, which makes it that much easier to stop buying from one and start buying from another.
Social media pages have become crucial for companies in most industries, especially in eCommerce. What’s the most common mistake you see in a company’s social media strategy?
The biggest mistake I see is a lack of understanding of how consumers digest information and consume products and services. As the market becomes more sophisticated, we consume information in bite-size chunks. Nobody reads a website full of text or watches an eight-minute testimonial video or talks on the phone.
E-commerce channels need to engage via short 130-character narratives and 90-second videos-on-demand via the channel of the customer’s choice. The adage to follow here is: ’meet the customer where they want to be met’.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
Bob Iger’s The Ride of a Lifetime is a great book. Bob has always understood the value of personalized customer experiences and translated that understanding into strategic acquisitions that ultimately delivered tremendous shareholder value.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should Executives gear up to the changing times?
Lean into it. We looked at all the data and found that in a distributed workforce our employees are just as productive as pre-COVID times. And let’s face it, CEOs and CFOs have already adjusted the travel and expense budgets, so reversing them is going to be difficult! This means that local offices will open and cater to a more hybrid workforce, but business travel will struggle to return to pre-COVID levels.
COVID-19 has also presented executives with the opportunity to reimagine a more streamlined business built for speed due to the opportunity cost associated with travel time that can now be spent rapidly moving from one customer engagement to another. In the reimagined distributed workforce, there’s also an opportunity to empower employees with greater autonomy and decision-making authority. This mindset resets culture in a way that evaluates performance based on outcomes and not time in the office or on an airplane!
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
There are a few CX metrics that I fully embrace. In the software industry, I call home, Net Revenue Retention is a key CX metric that tells me if a customer is getting value out of our product. The best-in-class benchmark is 1.1 to 1.15 gross retention, which tells you that customers are consuming 10-15 percent more of your product year-over-year. My second favorite CX metric is Renewal Rates.
We aim for 90 percent+, which lets me know that customers are happy and want to continue using our product. Renewal rates are critical since customer churn can be a tremendous drag on the business. And the last metric is the tried and true Net Promoter Score to ensure we have more advocates than detractors.