Hi Fernando, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am Fernando Sierra, an Industrial Engineer with two master’s degrees, an MBA in Finance and a master’s in Marketing with a focus in Brand Development.
I have been working in leader institutions over the last 20 years. Ternium, a steel manufacturing leader in Latin America, Tecnológico de Monterrey, a top university in Mexico and for the last 10 years, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, a top keiretsu Japanese company with worldwide operations.
During these years, I had been working in such fields as: Global Branding, Strategic Marketing, Corporate Communication, Customer Experience, and Digital Transformation.
My passion is coming up with creative ways to grow international businesses, through sustainable cross-cultural customer-centric strategies based in high-performance teamwork collaboration.
I am embracing Success by achieving milestones such as: marketer, engineer, coach of masters, journalist, and guest speaker, in about 120 companies, facilities and venues from twenty countries around The Americas, Asia and Europe.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
In 2008, I was hired as an Information and Communication Technology Coordinator at Tecnológico de Monterrey, mainly for the Residence Life & Housing department. The reason I was selected was because of my strength in solving problems, not because of my technical skills, which were mostly focused on Industrial Engineering and Management, not in Information Technology.
Prior to me, more than 10 people led that department, but the turnover rate was so high, on average they maintained the position no more than a year, mainly considering the Customer Satisfaction problems in the area.
So, I started to solve tactical problems, but with time, after understanding my staff capabilities and tracking their performance, I started developing plans and guidelines to improve the Customer Experience. In the end, collaborating in foreign affairs agreements with Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin, I improved Customer Experience by 75% through the creation of the Reshaus Information System.
This system, Reshaus, was not just a big change in the Customer Experience of our different stakeholders, but it was also awarded by NASPA, the Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education Association, with the Excellence Award Bronze Honoree.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?
Nowadays I’m the Global Market Communication – Project Manager in Sumitomo Heavy Industries; mainly working in the improvement of Brand Development through incentivizing the Global Promotion segmentation for 35 companies into 11 regions, and aligning Corporate Communication and Change Management strategies.
In addition to my corporate job, I’m a Consulting Professor and Chair Professor of EGADE Business School from Tecnológico de Monterrey. The fields that I am an expert in and used to teach are: Customer Engagement, Digital Marketing, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation, Growth Hacking, and other fields related to the improvement of the UX/Customer Satisfaction indicators.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
The best approach is to understand the exact Customer Journey entirely, but not just from the perspective of the Customer, but mainly from the Employee point of view – which means that we need to be aware of the entire ecosystem of services that we provide as a tool to the employees and analyze if it’s the right approach to fulfill the needs of our customers.
In conclusion, the better and more comfortable our employees feel, the better Customer Experience they will provide. So, in the end, a leader needs to understand what their team is doing, having empathy and enriching every single step inside the company’s processes.
What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?
Companies with an authentic Customer-Centric strategy are a good bet inside the Customer Experience conversation. Nowadays it’s kind of difficult to mention them as perfect players, but at least, many of them are doing a real change in the industry.
We have, for example, Komatsu, a B2B-related company, focused on Hard-Transportation vehicles for processes such as mining. Through their Komtrax System, they are making a lot of improvements in the way of diminishing complaints from customers and mainly having predictability as a real strength in their market.
On the other side, in B2C companies, we have companies like McDonald’s, moving forward in analyzing the reasons why customers buy from them, but also implementing new trends as innovations in their business to enrich everything related to sustainability efforts and wellness.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
The best approach for having a successful Digital Transformation implementation is to be aware of the Business or Corporate Strategy, to be sure any implementation and investment is aligned with how we see our organization in the next year/three years/ten years. Is not enough to follow a trend, I think that’s risky; the real way is to be sure the bet is a good one, involving the entire stakeholders of the company, not just the C-Suite level, which is kind of a mistake most of the times.
At the end, the implementation of any strategy needs to be aligned with aspects such as training, awareness of benefits, and overall involvement in the entire process. This doesn’t mean asking for permission, this means providing the reasons why those changes are going to work better. For sure, truth is the main message behind building properly.
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
Everything related with UX and omnichannel implementation. It’s important to understand we have more interaction platforms than customers, which means we could have a customer contacting us through different channels; therefore, consistency and clearness are the most important aspects to be considered.
Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?
Driving Digital Strategy by Sunil Gupta is a very good book I would recommend, considering the Digital Transformation approach is through the strategy component.
What is your favorite CX metric?
Honestly, no matter the strictness of it, NPS is my favorite CX metric. It provides me with real information from my audience and gives me important contact points for enriching my processes and different updates to improve my personal and mainly professional performance with upcoming students, customers, colleagues, etc.