Hi Manish, Tell us about yourself and your background?
I am a freelance content marketer with over 10 years of experience working for B2B companies. More recently, I have helped global brands like RingCentral, Freshworks, and SalesHacker grow their organic marketing footprint.
I have also launched an online marketing agency—Marketing Impact—given the sudden spike in demand for marketing services that I am seeing lately. The aim of Marketing Impact is to help smaller, indie brands grow through a blend of organic, paid, and social media marketing.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
I think a lot of businesses look at customer experience from a myopic lens of offering personalization or providing above-the-top customer service. While these are critical components of creating good CX, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
For example, you can’t improve your CX without first improving your employee experience (EX)—another very important element that makes your CX whole.
The quality of your EX directly contributes to your brand’s CX. But most brands try to optimize a few areas while forgetting about other CX metrics that are equally important. In my opinion, brands should take a holistic approach when it comes to driving their CX strategy.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
When I think of CX, the first brand that comes to mind is Sephora. I think they do an incredible job of giving their customers a truly omnichannel brand experience.
Sephora is a Paris-based cosmetics retailer brand that really understands its audience and caters to their needs by marrying its in-store customer experience offering with an equally interactive and fulfilling online experience. This weaving of “phygital” customer experience is very rare in B2B as well as B2C domain.
I am excited to see how other brands are going to leverage interactive tech solutions like AR and VR to marry their online and offline customer experiences in a way that feels natural—like Sephora.
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
I believe there are 4 ways to improve customer loyalty:
- Like I mentioned earlier, you should aim to improve your employee experience first because there’s a direct correlation that good employee engagement leads to great customer experience. Gallup’s survey also reinforces this idea in their finding.
- Make the CX convenient for customers. If you slice and dice CX to get a better understanding of it, you will find that there are three broader components to it—ease, emotion, and effectiveness. Customers look at these three things as the most valuable aspects in their relationship with a brand—things that will keep them from switching to other brands.
- Let your tech stack redefine your CX. CX is no longer limited to face-to-face interactions. AI, automation, big data, and ML are changing the way your brand interacts with customers. They are also expanding the surface area of your customer touchpoints. Therefore, you need to leverage the latest technology to keep up with your customers’ expectations and to not remain complacent with legacy systems like IVRs or phone trees.
- Focus on building long-term customer relationships rather than generating revenue. Most brands do the mistake of prioritizing their revenue goals before CX or EX. But that’s like putting the cart before the horse because good CX is the driver for growth. On the other hand, profit comes naturally to brands like Zappos because they invest in building genuine relationships with customers even if that means breaking a few rules here and there.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
I think they all are important indicators of your brand’s performance when it comes to measuring customer satisfaction and loyalty. They all point to you one major metric, i.e. how good is your retention or how bad is your churn.
Personally, I think these metrics don’t always give you the accurate answer you are looking for. For instance, if I give your brand’s customer service a rating of 7 or 8 out of 10, that’s a very lukewarm response and doesn’t really tell you if I’m happy or sad. It’s the same case with NPS and CES.
What I have seen work for many brands is that you can use these scores to feel the pulse of your customers and then follow up with open-ended questions to dig deeper into their sentiments.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
Social media is a force to reckon with. And I think it cuts across all stages of the buyer journey—awareness, engagement, and conversion.
For brands, this means they can personalize customer experience at scale by creating tailored marketing campaigns, using chatbots to drive engagement, or handling support queries through social media.
Customer support through Facebook or Twitter has almost become a norm for many brands these days because of how fast and convenient it is for both brands and their customers.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
I love them! I have been on both sides of the fence: as a marketer, I saw how intelligent chatbots can deflect support traffic for brands during peak seasons.
As a customer, I find that interacting with chatbots is sometimes a better use of my time than waiting for a human agent to show up. Most AI-powered bots will guide you to the right self-service content so that you can resolve a minor query on your own, which I think is a great thing because it lets me figure out answers by myself and at my own pace.
The only caveat is—brands can’t completely rely on chatbots for their customer support. They should have a fallback option to hand off a support ticket to a human agent if the query is of urgent nature.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
I don’t remember watching any good movies from 2020. 🙂 But the last movie I really enjoyed watching was this Bollywood flick called “Andhadhun”—a thoroughly entertaining comedy thriller. It’s there on Netflix.
9. Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Customer lifetime value or CLV, because it measures your relationship with customers on a longer plain