Hi Luís, tell us about yourself and your background.
I’m a proud Portuguese, living in London (UK), passionate about sports (tennis, cycling, formula 1) and politics. I’ve spent most of my career working for consulting companies, specializing in the design, alignment, implementation, and integration of customer engagement and management platforms. Recently joined Zendesk to lead the EMEA Solutions Architecture team.
About 10 years ago, I started studying the discipline of Customer Experience and became a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), an Accredited Customer Experience Specialist (ACXS), a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), and author of “Doctor CX” (doctorcx.org).
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
People don’t think about Customer Experience as a business discipline – like Finance or Human Resources. Most people think Customer Experience is a company’s department, a team, project, an initiative, a technology platform, a metric.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
I think the term “CX companies/solutions” adds to the confusion and misunderstanding. That said, I believe there is a technology that can enable better experiences (Zendesk is one of them, hence why I joined the company). There are consulting companies that help businesses treat CX as a business discipline (one I know well is Practical CX from Stephanie Thum). There are also specialist individuals that became CX evangelists and help grow the hype, the movement, and the CX community (the best example is Ian Golding)
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
I will start by what they should not do – think they can buy customer’s loyalty with the so-called loyalty programs (cards, points, etc.). Loyalty is a sentiment. It is an emotional connection that cannot be bought with offers, discounts, or promotions. It is an emotion that normally is consequence of a positive and pleasant feeling that typically comes from the difference between the customer’s expectation and the experience that was actually delivered by the company.
Good delivery is dependent on a couple of factors. First and foremost, designing a good model. Companies cannot expect every employee to perform heroically, all day, every day, and forever. They cannot expect everyone to be outstanding, available and willing to make a huge effort, and always go the extra mile. Companies need to design a model that allows everyone to deliver good service. That design can have two main dimensions: A blueprint of the company (its organization structure, processes, and procedures, information/data model, main KPIs, technology), and a mapping of the customer journey (his steps, attitudes, emotions, needs, goals). A good model will leave employees no choice but to deliver a good service as an everyday routine.
The other factor is the culture. And that culture must be aligned with the model. Culture will not tell employees what to do. It will rather tell them how to think. Setting up the company with a model and a culture that enables an outstanding delivery will definitely make customer expectations be met or even exceeded. This guarantees that positive and pleasant feeling that will make customers loyal to the company.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
I think it depends on what, when, and how you want to measure. CSAT measures customer satisfaction with a product, service, or transaction. It measures short-term happiness. NPS measures customer loyalty to the brand. It measures long-term happiness and tries to predict what customers will do in the future. CSAT is a poor predictor, as the customer might be happy with the outcome of the interaction but won’t buy again. NPS is a fine measure of relationship-level loyalty, but it can mask CSAT in service transactions since it is such a broad question. CES is not intended to measure the overall health of the broader customer relationship but rather the transactional health of the most significant driver of disloyalty – the effort in service interactions. CES evaluates micro-experience, whilst CSAT and NPS evaluate macro-experience.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
Social media is suffering a transformation itself. We’re seeing the traditional social networks (like Facebook and Twitter) being replaced by new ones (like TikTok and Clubhouse). The ways companies use to interact and reach out to potential and existing customers are definitely not the same. I believe companies need to invest in influencers, content, and messaging capabilities rather than seeing social networks as just another broadcasting or customer service channel.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
I think most chatbots are still ineffective, and, rather than helping, they cause even more frustration. Don’t get me wrong; technology is not the only problem. Its faulty implementation is the issue in most cases. Experience, as a customer, tells me that Amazon is the only one that works well and truly helps. All others I interacted with were just an obstacle between me and the resolution of my problem. That said, errors are a great source of learning, and all these bad implementations and usage of chatbots will allow technology and its implementors to improve. Innovation works exactly like that… you start slowly, make some mistakes, learn from them, and then continue improving, aiming for perfection.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
I really enjoyed watching “News of the World” with Tom Hanks.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
If the question is to choose one of the three CX metrics that are most commonly used to benchmark CX (i.e., CSAT, NPS, CES), then I would go for CES – as effort is directly correlated to loyalty, which in turn is directly correlated to revenue.