Hi Lawrence, tell us about yourself and your background.
I’m originally from Montreal but have lived and worked in multiple locations across the country, and throughout the US and Europe. My first passion was music at McGill University, from where I jumped into motivational psychology, and ultimately, the sciences. Armed with that knowledge, I started my career in banking before diving into consumer-packaged goods, then testing, inspection, and certification, and in the past few years – SaaS. Having worked in so many cultures, industries, and geographies, it became crystal clear that customer needs transcend every business, and more importantly, that working alongside the best or the brightest doesn’t translate to success!
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
I have been working in sales, marketing, and loyalty programs from day one, always with the customer at the heart of all strategic decision-making. That said, I formally entered the discipline of CX in 2017 when I was commissioned to spearhead a strategic projects office at Bureau Veritas. It was during that time that I fell in love with the work of Bruce Temkin, Jeanne Bliss, Lynn Hunsaker and Annette Franz, to name a few, and discovered CXPA Toronto where Sandra Greene, Stephan Sigaud, Roger Pugsley, Aviva Shiff, Wally Thiessen and Derek Bildfell welcomed me with open arms… a source of massive inspiration to this day. From that point forward, I was hooked!
Can you tell us a bit about your current role?
In my current role at Wave Financial, I am responsible for the professional services group who effectively offer service-based solutions plugged into a product-based ecosystem, two of my favorite passions! The Wave Advisors team was born in 2018 as the brainchild of Grandmaster Mark Bluvshtein, who decided to do something quite novel: listen to customers! When asked if “someone could take the beautiful software Wave created and simply use it, so they don’t have to,” Wave Advisors was born. Fast-forward to 2022, and we’re a team of over 50 strong. It’s quite the story and so much fun to be a part of!
What is your top tip for companies that want to improve their CX strategy?
Start small. Get buy-in from the top-down and foster a culture of customer centricity from the grassroots level by creating a movement across the organization. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Create a vision, facilitate journey mapping sessions, and identify low cost, high impact moments of truth that will move the needle, demonstrate successes, and create momentum to drive future programming. Encourage customers to speak… even complain, and when they do, actively listen!
What is one common mistake that you see companies make when it comes to CX?
They jump in full-fledged without a clear understanding of what CX truly means (i.e., it’s not CS on steroids), use as minimal an investment as possible, select a metric like NPS, operationalize it in all the wrongs ways… and when the programming fails, as it’s doomed to, pull the plug and pivot back to “traditional sales and marketing” programs. It’s a sad recurring cycle we see across sectors.
Can you tell us about a time that you had a really good experience with a company as a customer?
Fairmont Banff Springs is my favorite story to pull out of the hat, not just because it’s such a beautiful facility and the staff are so incredibly well trained to serve others, but because they’ve mastered the art of turning negative situations into positive moments of opportunity. A couple of years ago we were skiing in Banff and an overzealous valet car parker smashed the roof rack on our friend’s SUV into a pile of plastic rubble. They acted quickly, went above and beyond any reasonable expectations and made us even stronger brand ambassadors by how well they responded to a truly dreadful situation. We are bigger fans for it!
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
I’m a huge fan of Qualtrics and am amazed at their commitment to continuous improvement, month over month, year over year. Integrations with platforms like SalesForce is such an incredibly powerful marriage to drive employee and customer experience initiatives in a systematic way. I’m super keen to see the future of VOC, VOE and CRM integrations, a CX leader’s dream come true.
What are your thoughts on AI-powered chatbots to handle customer support?
Like everything else, within the realm of chatbots, there exists the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, the ugly tends to get the most attention and negatively paint the entire ecosystem with a bad brush, in a truly unfair way. When done well, dovetailed with channel choice options, Chatbots can serve an incredibly powerful service in providing quick and well-articulated insights to anxious customers, at critical moments of truth. I’m a big fan and look forward to what’s around the corner in this area as the technology continues to advance at such a rapid pace.
What is your favorite CX metric?
I mentioned NPS getting a bad rap earlier for all the wrong reasons and happy to double down there: I’m a huge fan of the system. When applied correctly, it embeds all of the right ways of thinking about CX cross-functionally and lends itself well to correlation studies with other metrics like CES and CSAT. Happiness Indexes from companies like Happy-or-Not are deceptively simple and bring more insight to the table than you could ever imagine.
Any predictions for 2022 in the CX space?
Those that truly walk the talk will continue thriving and making market-share gains. Patience across the globe is super low right now, with everyone getting fed up over the past 2 years; becoming awfully tired of campaigns that are both impersonal and irrelevant to the audience they’re direct to. I expect to see more gains from companies like Qualtrics, SalesForce, Keatext, Happy-or-Not, etc… and a greater focus on associations like CXPA who invest so much time and passion into best-practice sharing for the betterment of the community. It’s a very exciting time where companies on a global scale are waking up to the reality that the customer (and employee!) is King.