Hi Itai, tell us about yourself, your background?
Israeli born, Berlin-based.
After graduating from college with a major in communications, I felt the future was very clear – I was going to be a film director. I felt very strongly about that I realized the paycheck to work hour ratio right about the moment, so I moved to option B – marketing.
After a quick run in PPC campaign management, I moved into marketing project management. During my project management career, I’ve created over 300 mini-sites and landing pages but realized that while the job was great and diverse and never boring, it was hard for me to use my voice. I found myself asking a lot of “why”s and suggesting changes, so the move to product management came naturally.
After my first PM position was at Israel’s biggest multi-channel marketing platform, I switched to my current position at Uberall in Berlin, where I manage a platform to create chatbots for companies of different sizes easily. It’s a challenge to create an experience that would feel at home both at a large multinational energy conglomerate and a local chain of bike shops, and it’s both exciting and humbling at the same time.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
Your customers will use any possible way to communicate with you, especially reviews, either product reviews, map reviews on your physical locations (which is something that’s close to our hearts at Uberall), or in review aggregation sites (like g2.com).
From my experience in analyzing chatbot conversations, it looks like users like to give feedback and reviews either when customers are either very happy or unhappy. While this process might cause you discomfort, it’s a great tool to spot your strengths and weaknesses across the entire customer journey. Do you have a logistics problem once an item is shipped? Are your customers surprisingly delighted by your catalog’s navigation design? The best way to spot that is in the reviews.
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
I’m certain that there are much better people than I to help you create a customer experience management strategy, but once that goes live, always remember that you are not the user. It’s easy to fall in love with your product, with your strategy, with the way you onboard your customers and support them. After you’ve set up your onboarding process, your support setup, your FAQs, and self-help strategy, you need to focus on iterating it:
- Be empathetic – The best way to improve churn, reduce support efforts and just have a great experience is to not look at what’s easy to do or best for the company’s bottom line. There are enough people in the company that it’s their responsibility. Yours is to care about the user and try to resolve their problems and reduce their friction.
- Embrace change – To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often. Some parts of your strategy will fall apart once it meets actual users. Try to have a plan B for some aspects of your CX, and know that some parts of that plan B will also fail, and that’s fine.
As long as you adopt these 2 principles, you would get all those things you shouldn’t focus on – it will be cheaper, and it will be easier, and it will be great for the company bottom line, all while keeping your customers happy.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
There is no escaping it – times have changed, and your customers have much higher expectations than ever before. They expect you to be able to do everything themselves, not have to go through sales and support to get what they want, and when things don’t pan out, they expect you to be there, 24/7 and solve everything in a second.
I believe that while it is hard, it is possible. The hardest part is probably deciding on the mix of human/tech resources – Do you throw more and more people on your problems and manually solve them? It’s the quickest, easiest way to do that. But at scale, it’s also costly. Do you automate processes? That’s easier said than done, and requires a lot of short-term work, and isn’t a magical solution. The answer is probably a healthy mix of both and would depend on your customers, industry, and the way you do business.
What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?
It’s very much industry and service-related, but digital adoption platforms (like walkme or appcues and such) are making quite a difference in the way we communicate and educate our users. Using these tools, we can spot cohorts of users that have fallen through that gap – they either don’t take full advantage of features or miss out on them completely, and we nudge them in the right direction or proactively support them when they need us the most.
It’s great to have a dedicated, professional support team, but at that point, it’s already too late, the customer is already upset, and it would take considerably more energy to restore their faith and trust in the brand.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
Like most product managers, I also worship at the Church of Cagan ;).
I highly recommend Marty Cagan’s “INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love” to all entrepreneurs and “heads of.”
Not only is it a step-by-step guide that explains who a company needs on day 1, 100, and 1000, it also talks about what these people need to have. Industry experience is nice, technical knowledge of the machinations behind the scenes is swell, but what you really need is people who CARE. As Marty calls them, “Missionaries, not mercenaries.”
A great customer experience is done by people who understand the problems and pitfalls the user experiences and lovingly and intently do their best to resolve them. The careless design puts the designer in the center instead of putting the customer’s experience.
Itai’s predictions for the future of CX
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
I believe you’ll see more and more onboarding popups (like walkme/appcues) and chatbots out in the wild. As shops and chains become brands and enterprises, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep a unified level of experience. And that’s even without talking about the pains of going multilingual. It becomes more urgent to use self-serve tools designed to keep the user away from phone centers.
This is by no means a jab at the current way most companies support their customers, but it is important to remember that the phone/live agent option is a passive/reactive method. Utilizing these advanced automation tools will be an on-time, reactive support method, keep the pressure down on your support team and keep the customers in the caring hands of a team dedicated to customer experience who will carefully plot out your user’s journey through your site.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
A CSat score. I know it’s a bit old-fashioned and not the sexiest KPI out there, but I do genuinely believe that asking a customer to rank the interaction is the best way to go.
It’s not really meant to be the be-all and end-all, but it would really help you to find “sore spots.” Drilling down into terrible experiences and interactions now would be the time to deploy those more advanced tools like screen recording and flow analysis. Analytics and funnel checks could help you find problems, of course, but not the RIGHT ones. Never forget the 80/20 rule, people – focus on what’s important.