Hi Hussein, tell us about yourself and your background.
During my 20-year career, I have been able to demonstrate astute leadership, career growth, corporate success, strategic thinking as well as building a personal brand (through thought leadership and conference presentations) – all of which were achieved by working for great companies and with great talents.
Over the past few years, I worked with the likes of WPP and Publicis overseeing some of their largest regional clients (such as STC, Vodafone, Nokia, Visa and HSBC) and was fortunate enough to be recognized as a high potential leader by WPP being awarded the renowned ‘WPP Young High Potential Leaders’ Award from Sir Martin Sorrell himself, as well as receiving regional awards from the likes of Gulf Marketing Review, which identified me as one of the 40 top marketing professionals in the region, being voted by the Huffington Post as among the 10 people changing the marcomm landscape in the MENA region, voted as being among the top 200 CX leaders globally to watch in 2021, and lately the BTX Top Executive Award 2021 which recognizes top executives who have accelerated digital and business transformation through the pandemic and created a better future for their business. I also sit on the Advisory Board of CMO Council Middle East, Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Globally, and I am an Advisory Director with The Customer Institute.
Since working on the agency side, I transitioned to the client side and worked with some fantastic brands in senior leadership roles, and I am now looking for my next leadership challenge with an organization that is crossing the digital and experience divide.
My core expertise lies in the Digital Marketing and Tech space, evolving over the years from a pure player marketeer. Starting my career with some of the worlds’ greatest communication companies, today I am the GM for Digital and CX Transformation with Nissan Motor Co. for Africa, Middle East, India, Turkey, and Oceania, overseeing some of the most dramatic customer transformations the company has had to go through in recent times. My contribution to the organization was recognized by senior leadership and lead me to winning the AMIEO Chairperson Nissan Way Award in July 2021.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
My involvement with CX started since the early days of working in advertising as a planner, as journey mapping and customer profiling are extremely important when devising communication strategies and campaigns. However, throughout the years, my level of depth, knowledge, and experience in this space grew a lot until I officially held the CX naming in my title when I joined Nissan Motor Co. five years ago.
Can you tell us a bit about your current role?
My ultimate purpose is to lead the evolution of Nissan Motor Co. into becoming a truly customer-centric organization. My success relies on the support of a cross functional team from every department in the organization, Marcoms, Product Marketing, Corp Comms, Sales, Aftersales, Dealer Network Development, ConnectedCars, IS/IT, Market Intelligence, and most importantly, our partner dealers. I am responsible for every touchpoint an existing or potential customer has with the brand, be that digitally or physically (Websites, Apps, Showrooms, Service Centers, Call Centers, etc.). CRM and Leads Management fall under my core responsibilities as well. It’s a job which requires a lot of strategy, planning, coordination, alignment, and communication.
What is your top tip for companies that want to improve their CX strategy?
I have many 😊
- Walk before you start running.
- Start with the “Why”.
- Break the silos in your organization.
- Put the customer truly at the heart of everything you are doing.
- Have your infrastructure well established (connected systems, data integration, data capturing, etc).
- Connect the physical world with the digital one, offer a seamless omnichannel experience.
- Show, live by, and promote empathy.
- Focus on employee experience as much as customer experience.
- Hire anthropologists, Data Scientists, and Data Analysts in your team.
- Don’t aim for position #1, aim to stay at position #1.
- Never underestimate competition.
- Ensure that all journeys are connected.
- Identify customers’ pain points through CX journey mapping and address them by identifying which are the low hanging fruit, the must-haves, and the nice-to-haves.
- Have the right systems and tools in place (CRM, CDP, etc).
- Leverage CRM communication to the fullest.
- Establish success metrics / KPIs.
- Do not launch a solution before pilot testing it.
- Do not be scared of failure, fail and learn.
- Hire passionate and inquisitive teams to run your CX department.
The above are not in order of priority. They are all equally important and imperative. 19 recommendations is a big number but earth wasn’t created in one day, and the same applies to CX.
Can you tell us about a time that you had a really good experience with a company as a customer?
I won’t give the cliché answer and talk about how amazing Apple CX is (which it is to be honest, even though I moved to Android devices, after being an iPhone loyalist for more than 10 years). In this case, I have to give a huge high-five to Nike, who exceeded all my expectations and to date, they are still, bar none, the best experience I have had with a brand while shopping. They impressed me so much that I ended up writing a LinkedIn post about them. Such experiences stay forever and push a lot of pressure on other brands not only to try to exceed, but to match!
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
Ecommerce and Finance Solutions. Those two solutions are “beasts” and they require a lot of in-depth research, study, and development to achieve the ultimate satisfaction and deliver on customers’ needs. Furthermore, those two solutions are developing so fast, and customers’ behaviors and needs are changing even faster, so you have to always try to be one step ahead of consumers, which is almost impossible.
What are your thoughts on AI-powered chatbots to handle customer support?
If not properly managed, they can be very frustrating and will become major pain-points to consumers. AI chatbots need to be humanly managed for a good amount of time until they can smoothly run on their own. And even after running on their own, they need to be regularly visited to ensure that they are being fed/taught, new consumer communication queries and journeys.
What is your favorite CX metric?
ROX, Return on Experience, yet, very few companies managed to crack this metric. It is easier saying it than doing it, as such a metric requires a holistic business approach into defining the role of CX for the organization and the intended objective for it.
Any predictions for 2022 in the CX space?
Up until 2020, CX was more of a buzzword that marketers liked to use here and there. However, 2020, also referred to by some as the Covid year whereas I refer to it as the Customer year with a big “C”, changed the reality, perception, and adoption of CX. CX is no longer a choice for organizations that want to be future ready and remain competitive in the marketplace.
In 2022, I expect:
- The CX function will get established, will evolve in many organizations, and will be a key area of attention by the C-Suite;
- Hyper personalization to be the differentiator amongst brands;
- Phygital to become the norm for CX, previously focused on digital CX;
- Whatsapp for Business will be one of the main channels of communication between brands and consumers;
- Ecommerce will further accelerate amongst many industries;
- Employee experience and customer experience will collide like never before;
- A balance between humanity and automation.