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CXBuzz Interview with Raghav Gupta, Senior Manager, CX & Customer Journey at Expedia Group

Hi Raghav, tell us about yourself and your background.

Hello! I am Raghav, I am part of the Customer Experience and Advocacy team at Expedia Group (EG), based out of London. My job is to instill customer-centricity across the various product teams in the company with an end goal to improve the quality of experience for our customer and to make the customer journey seamless.

My CX journey at EG started as a summer intern during my MBA program at Said Business School, University of Oxford. However, prior to that I was leading the revenue growth and marketplace operations for a digital start-up in India called Mompresso, where I got a chance to get my hand dirty in multiple areas of the business.

How did you start working in the customer experience space?

My journey in CX started unknowingly back in 2014 when I was working at “Mompresso,” an online marketplace. We identified that there was scope to improve the listing content for one of the key categories of the marketplace site that was called ‘Fun places to Go’ for families in and around their city. I started off by listing down the key content requirements for the customer and then built multiple squads to actually visit the sites and generate different types of content (written, pictures, videos) that will help the customers get maximum information before they plan a visit. The category over time got love from Google, suppliers, and the end customers.

What do you think the top priority should be for a company that wants to improve its customer experience?

Anything becomes a priority for a business when it has an impact on the business outcomes. And the business outcome can be measured when there are metrics defined around it. So, to build a customer centric culture it’s important to define CX related metrics that different teams can benchmark their products or project against. These can then act as a common currency to bind teams together and make sure there are discussions happening to improve those CX metrics.

How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?

Nothing like hearing directly from the horse’s mouth. Companies can listen to customers in two ways. First, by analyzing the customer behavior across the various stages of the end-to-end journey. This one is easier for tech companies as they can use the already existing data muscle and analytical tools to monitor and understand the customer behavior. The second one is by creating opportunities for the customer to provide feedback (in the form of surveys, site feedback) and then using text analytics tools to categorize it under a single “Voice of the Customer” program that can then be used to generate customer insights.

Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?

Companies always need to be mindful that they are doing this transformation so that they can reach more customers and help serve them better. So, understanding the needs and behaviors of the customers throughout that transformation process is super critical.  Also, companies need to be cognizant of the fact that this transformation is equally new for the customers as well and that might require hand holding at critical times during that transformation. One way of doing that is to regularly communicate new capabilities that are part of the transformation and helping customers understand the benefits. Also, the companies should create a regular feedback channel with the customers that can be used to gain insights and review of the digital products that are being tested or in the pilot stage in the transformation.

What are some CX companies or solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

What I am super excited about is the virtual agent capability and its implementation across the customer journey. I feel that as more and more businesses move digital it will be imperative for companies to have a brand face or an identity that the customers can interact or engage with. This can in turn help build trust as the customers would feel that there is someone on the other end to help them throughout their experience.

Another capability which I am really fascinated by is real time notifications that a lot of companies in the mobility space use extensively. Keeping customers updated with the orders instead of keeping them in the dark can again help instill a feeling of trust as well.

What are some of your tips for people who want to work in the CX sphere?

One of the most important things is to have a customer centric mindset and to know that you are the voice of the customer for others in the organization. This becomes important in times when one faces headwinds from the stakeholders in other functions of the organizations who might be prioritizing other aspects of the business.

Another tip is to be patient with achieving the end outcomes in the CX space. Improving the quality of the experience might not reap immediate benefits but will lead to gains in the form of loyalty in the long term.

So many things changed in 2020. While some things are going to return to “normal,” what are new trends and habits you think will stay with us in the long term?

In the last 18 months, more businesses have gone digital or have a hybrid model compared to a 10 year period before that and this trend is here to stay. We will see more customers researching, shopping, servicing online and this might lead to less human-to-human interaction. I see this an opportunity for companies to build customer centric products and capabilities at scale. As the world goes more digital customers would have multiple brands to choose from and the brands that can focus on improving quality of customer experience and built loyalty will be ahead of the curve in the long run.

eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?

Customer feedback and reviews are the ultimate golden nuggets for any customer centric organization. The reviews can be leveraged in multiple ways.

  • Companies can use those to close the loop with the customers, that is, to get back to disgruntled customers in case of a bad review and help solve the issue. Or companies can send a token of appreciation to the delighted customers which can help in making them feel more valued in the long term.
  • Secondly, companies can use all that data to analyze which products are working the best and which are not doing that well. They can accordingly build better search algorithms, more optimized filters and better front-end design to make reviews easily accessible to customers.  In addition to that, the companies can use the reviews to optimize supply of that product and provide the suppliers with relevant feedback to improve the quality of their products.

What is your favorite CX metric? Why?

It’s difficult to pin-point one favorite metric as different CX metrics (such as Sentiment, Repeat Rate, Customer Lifetime Value (CLV), NPS) might work for organizations at different stages of their CX journeys. However, Repeat Rate and CLV are metrics that help in measuring long term gains made by any company.

About the author

Simone Somekh
Simone Somekh is a New York-based author, writer, and communications manager. He teaches Communications at Touro College.

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