Hi Hugo, tell us about yourself and your background.
After getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration 30 years ago, I started my journey in Relationship Marketing alongside the renowned American consultant Fred Newell. He showed me the path of successfully employing technology to marketing strategies thanks to a client we had in common at that time in Argentina (a big supermarket chain). Shortly after that, I started the marketing consulting agency “NEXTING,” and with the rest of the team, we developed dozens of loyalty programs for different brands and companies all over Latin America. It was back in 2005 when we began with our CRM consulting services when information about the subject was scarce, and most people considered CRM to be just software, which caused the first couple of implementations to be tricky and a bit rough since it was very reliant on the goodwill of the end-users and decision-makers. I then wrote the very first book about CRM available in Spanish, founded the “Asociación Argentina de CRM” and the “Sociedad Iberoamericana de CRM,” reasons why I became a benchmark for the region.
How did you first start working in the CX space?
It was around 2010 when we started to realize that most companies were bluffing about their ability to manage their customers and not taking the next and much-needed step: trying to actually understand them to fulfill their real needs. That’s when we decided to step in and create the agency “6 SENTIDOS – Experience Making Company” to merge CRM with CX services and teach the companies we work for the importance of getting to know their customers in order to understand what they need and give it to them their preferred way.
What are some of the common misunderstandings related to customer experience?
I happen to have the perfect example to answer that question. Months ago, a bank executive mentioned to me that his company had just begun working on a CX strategy, so I immediately inquired about the first steps they were taking. His reply was “…now we greet the customers when they arrive at one of our offices…”, to which I replied that they just had good manners by doing so.
I believe that what people are mistaken about or misinterpreting is considering basic interactions with their customers as one of the components for offering them a great experience and incorrectly seeing that as part of the customer service, when in reality, without those basic interactions, we wouldn’t even have a business, to begin with.
Have you seen any interesting new trends in eCommerce this year?
I feel that customers are actually the ones ahead of companies. Probably the pandemic has something to do with this acceleration in the pace at what changes are happening. Still, the truth is that customers and now more anxious, whether it’s about waiting for the information they asked for or waiting for their products to arrive, which makes it seem like a life-or-death situation, when in reality, in most cases, it’s not, of course.
E-Commerce based companies will have to work a lot in order to change the experience they offer to their customers if they truly plan to successfully survive during these trying times.
eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?
With service excellence. These reviews can be positive or negative, and as always, negative comments have way more impact than positive ones. Brands must deploy all five senses and be prepared to catch every one of these negative comments. Sometimes our customers can leave these kinds of reviews due to a misunderstanding or miscommunication during the process, so we must step in to solve or clarify the situation. The customer journey shall never be considered finished.
So many things changed in 2020. While some things are going to return to “normal,” what are new trends and habits you think will stay with us in the long term?
For the most part, virtuality is here to stay, in my opinion. We, as a society, have realized that several interactions and issues can be completely dealt with without being face to face, and as a result, the time we used to “lose” traveling can be used in a more productive way now.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed a big increase in the demand from executives for different ways to understand and implement strategies related to this digital transformation, with CRM at the top of the list, something that they should have been working on for a long time at this point. Still, they didn’t, and now they consider it a necessity that cannot be postponed.
We are now also more cautious and considerate about health, hygiene, and human contact in general. We might not go back to the same levels of physical contact we used to have before for greeting people, which could result in relationships becoming a little bit harsh sometimes.
Do you believe focus groups are still relevant in the era of eCommerce? Why?
Focus Group will always be relevant in marketing research, but they no longer have the lead role, now taken by neurosciences and the new customer insights techniques. As I see it, a correct investigation can no longer be sustained only by the use of focus groups. As a matter of fact, we actually use it too, but only to complement the other research methods.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
NPS 2.0 is still the most important metric available, the reason why we must not stop using it. Still, there are also other very important metrics that exist to help us reveal different information or insights, such as the CXi by Forrester Group or the Net Emotional Value by Collin Shaw.