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CXBuzz Interview With Gustavo Imhof CX 30 Under 30

Hi Gustavo , tell us about yourself and your background and how you got to the CX space?

I am a fairly unusual case in that I have always been in customer experience. I was in a very innovative MSc in Marketing in Cranfield and they were amongst the first to have a module on CX. I discovered then that what I thought was brand, and I always loved, was instead CX. I wrote my thesis about it (the financial impact of CX in the automotive industry, which was later rebranded and published in a peer-reviewed journal) and as they say, the rest is history. Now, I am a CX professional that focuses on driving memorable, profitable, and pragmatic CX strategies to help businesses grow, through compelling insight-led narratives. Oh, and I was named a 30 Under 30 rising star in CX a couple of years ago. I’m clinging to it like crazy for the next few months until I lose the ‘under 30’ part of this.

Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?

f your goal is to improve the experiences of your customers, I’d say ‘don’t bother with the positive ones’. Surprisingly, you will see that most of the time, happy customers all tend to be happy for the same reasons but unhappy customers are so in their very specific ways (akin to the Anna Karenina principle). Look for patterns in the negative reviews, they are telling you where you are falling short of their expectations enough for them to want to let the world know about it. If you have a pattern, this means you have a systematic problem that could do with repairing. Also, look at the average to poor reviews from your competition, which will also tell you what they could do better and how your future roadmap could adapt to improve your product and steal their customers. Anything short of a top mark means there’s something that could be done better, and it’s just short of gold dust when it comes to new product development or iterative innovation.

Gustavo’s checklist for CX strategy

In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good customer experience strategy?

I have a project that will be coming in later in the year (follow me to know when I announce it) but in a nutshell, the core to it would be:

  • Get the basics right. You can’t give excellent experiences to your customers unless you succeed with the baseline execution of what you promise and its hygiene factors
  • Remember it’s about business. You can’t be myopic and think only of the customer, if your strategy isn’t financially sound, you are unlikely to get sign-off and, if you do, won’t have a business for much longer.
  • Understand that the customers’ experiences don’t matter. Their memories of these experiences do. I talk about this in great length in the upcoming Customer Experience 3 book.
  • Data, data, data. To paraphrase Edward Deming, Only God is allowed to have an opinion. Everyone else must bring data. Unless you can show me through data (in the wider understanding of the word), this won’t make it onto my strategy.

How much has the role of customer experience changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?

CX has always been about the interactions between the organization and customers, the pandemic hasn’t changed that. The onus has become a lot stronger on digital channels and CX professionals have needed to catch up and brush up on their user experience and digital journeys, but they are still tasks with the same role. As for digital transformation, it has been accelerated, which on the surface sounds good, but I wouldn’t be surprised if once this is all done and dusted, organizations will realize that they jumped the gun and digitalized clunky processes rather than designing something that was fit for purpose. CX role’s post-pandemic will probably be to get the businesses to revisit their digital strategy and do a lot of duct-taping, fixing, or revamping.

What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?

I am not a salesperson. All jokes aside, 2020 has been a very fruitful year for me from a studying point of view, and I realized after years away from the academic literature, that we have debates in the CX space that have been addressed and resolved conclusively years, if not decades, ago by academics. My biggest learning was that we need to bridge this gap to level up customer experience as a profession.

2020 was the year of webinars and online events; what was your favorite one?

Pass – I actually attended surprisingly few CX webinars, but I did co-host one with Katie Stabler on service recovery and this was a blast and there wasn’t even a sales pitch involved (I think).

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?

Either you change, or you lose. Simple as that. You were forced into unleashing your coworkers and trusting them to deliver. They did. Once you have tasted the freedom, you can’t untaste it. If leaders are making a mandate for the teams to return full-time to the office once it is allowed, I fear for their employee engagement and retention.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

The one that works. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all metric and that instead, it’s very situation-dependent – horses for courses as they say.

I do however really like what my friends Mary Drumond and co at Worthix focus on: was it worth it? Also seen years ago Apple asking me whether I regretted the purchase a few days in. Those two are out of the box, refreshing, and make total sense to me. Just don’t send me a transactional NPS or I’ll scream and stubbornly never do business with you again.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.


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