Hi Liliana, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am a New Yorker and an immigrant from Bulgaria. My story includes being on Wall Street during the liquidity crisis and building an impactful career in the aviation world through diverse experiences in JetBlue Airways. When it comes to a plane, there is nothing I haven’t done. I have pushed a plane, cleaned a plane, done security checks on a plane, and flown a plane simulator.
I founded The Petrova Experience, a Brooklyn-based customer experience consultancy, two and a half years ago. Our team is made of an eclectic group of professionals who really care about people and constantly ask themselves how they can make things better. Some people call us disruptors; I call us thinkers and explorers. We believe nothing is impossible: it just hasn’t been done yet. We seek to serve and empower leaders who want to be at the forefront of their industries and build the experiences of the future.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
Unfortunately, there are many misunderstandings about customer experience, but if I had to choose one, I would go with “Customer Experience is the same as Customer Service.” Only in the past 6 months, have we started seeing RFPs that ask for real customer experience work that includes technology design, processes and procedures audits, and hospitality training. The majority of leaders think that, if they optimize their call centers, they will offer great customer experience as well. They could not be further from the truth.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
When I was on the client side, I worked with facial recognition, so I will always have a soft spot for that technology and what it can do to improve passenger experience around the world. The possibilities are endless. Luxlock is bringing personalization in retail to another level. Their technology allows consumers to connect remotely to a personal shopper who can create an online wardrobe with luxury brand recommendations. The best part? They can be in different continents! From a healthcare perspective, I am really interested in all the solutions that are creating better patient experience. To name a few, Cedar is bringing more visibility and transparency in billing, and Livongo is improving quality of life for patients with diabetes.
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
I am a big believer in the value and impact of getting the customer experience basics right. Many companies chase wow moments, or create special moments for a few customers, instead of solidifying the experience of all their customers and making sure they consistently meet expectations. If I can routinely expect to get exactly what I want from a brand, why would I ever go through the trouble of switching away from that brand? The key to customer loyalty and retention is to get the job done well, without requiring effort from your customers.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
Is this a trick question? 😉 I think that, depending on the goal, each of these scores can be relevant. NPS is loved by executives and, although it is a high-level measure of customer satisfaction, it is still the one score that has the most information in terms of benchmarking. It is also the one question that can measure overall customer perception. I also love CES, since so many brands claim they want easy and simple experiences. I am not a big fan of CSAT by itself.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
I think social media can be used for customer recovery during disruptions. Social media is also a great tool to measure the overall sentiment of customers towards your brand. It is a powerful tool, but like every other tech, it needs people to design it and manage it strategically to get real value out of it.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
I used to hate them, and even call them stupid. In the last year, though, I have seen some very useful implementations of chatbots. I think the key is to map the complete conversations of customers and build the chatbot algorithm to have the whole conversation (vs. answering the first couple of questions and sending the customer to another channel before solving the basic customer problem). For example, if I ask a chatbot in an airport where can I get an extra mask, I do not need to be told “at the help desk”, but rather, I need to get a map showing me where that help desk is.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
The Old Guard, The Dig, and The Queen’s Gambit.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Initially, I chose Customer Effort Score, but then I changed my answer to NPS. Although many of my colleagues hate it, I think it is the biggest breakthrough in our industry. Because of NPS, people who need to invest in Customer Experience can relate to our work. I think NPS and Bain & Company really democratized our field and opened many doors for us to big businesses that, without NPS, would have felt much more anxious to fund Customer Experience programs that drive millions of dollars in spend.