Hi Renata, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am Renata Devčić, with an extensive 20+ years’ background in finance and fintech sector on an international scale. My finance background started in one of the biggest financial groups, Intesa Sanpaolo, continuing with the centralized payment tech, Intesa Sanpaolo Card. I have been working for the last few years in Nets Group, and with this year we joined forces inside Nexi group. So, in short, my journey seems to be around Italian payments groups, and in-between I got a vast experience not only in the CEE region but also DACH and Nordics.
I like the journey because it is never boring. Lots of changes during the years that makes the ride inspiring. I am constantly open to learn more from different market experiences, from my new colleagues, from different cultures, the mix of different employee experience but also customer expectations.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
I always liked to work with customers, that’s why all my career roles were in a way customer experience area roles. The only difference was the area and the markets that I covered. My start was years ago in the banking sector, working in one of the Croatian biggest banks. It was such a great time, because it was the beginning of internet banking, CRM, new digital channels of communication and serving the customers. It was really a revolution for the customers, but it was a blast for me also, to be a part of this journey. I was the head of distribution channels for SME customers – covering the product proposition, implementation of digital products, implementation of new customer channels, improving the internal channels (customer support, complaints, etc.), building up a new marketing strategy to the SME’s, setting up the feedback hub and conducting the improvements, and so much more.
I continue my career in the first international payment hub that Intesa Sanpaolo established, called Intesa Sanpaolo Card; we covered 11 markets outside of Italy. I was the head of marketing, branding, communication, and customer experience. Working on 11 markets that were wider than the region (including Egypt, Russia, Ukraine… beside the regional countries around Croatia) was so inspiring. We managed to win some great European prices for our marketing activities, both external and internal.
With the change of ownership, I got a great opportunity to work in the DACH market, setting up the Marketing department and launching our hero product for SME segment – SmartPay, as well as rebranding our parent company Concardis. This was an intensive part of my business life because we had short deadlines but high expectations. But the teamwork and support, both from the management and from the employees, was tremendous – so we managed to launch all our activities accordingly to the plan.
With the merge into Nets, I got a great opportunity to work as the Head of Customer Experience in one of the fastest-growing area of Ecommerce. This is my existing role.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?
I am the Head of Customer Experience for PSP Europe in Nets. My role covers a wide range of customer experience activities – from areas where we directly service our customers, to the parts where we are collecting customer feedback, monitoring, implementing new automatization, etc. – (onboarding, technical customer support, sales support, customer support, incident management, monitoring, feedback hub, etc.). The markets that I cover in my role are Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Austria.
The role is very interesting because we are in the ecommerce industry; it is a mixture of innovation, automatization, digitization, servicing the customer in a balanced way, but at the same time it is also very much regulated with AML/Compliance requirements.
We are constantly building more scalable, customer-oriented solutions with a sense of the market specific needs. Our hero product Easy is implicated with the name of what we want for our customer – less hassle, more sales.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
The way you think about customer experience has probably had a profound impact on how you look at your business as a whole. The impression you leave at the end of any kind of interaction with your customers leaves an important mark on how they perceive you and your products.
Convenience, irreproachable customer support, and seamless communication are indispensable, yet not enough on their own. They are merely pieces of a puzzle that is yet to be completed. Customers always expect more and to deliver that, you need to always be mindful of what they really want.
It may be a feeling that they need you to recreate, or unique interactions to put in place. It may imply integrating new technologies to make the processes easier and more intuitive. But above all, the constant is clear: you need to know exactly who you are addressing, and draw your inspiration from the way those people live their life and shop for products and services. This is the key to delivering unforgettable experiences.
What I would also emphasize as extremely important, besides understanding you customer base, is Don’t ignore your employees. If your internal employees are unhappy, you will never be able to deliver a great customer experience. Taking care of your employees will allow your brand to leverage individual buy-in – a central element in making your CX strategies a success. If your employees themselves don’t believe in the brand’s culture, values, and ethos, convincing your customers of the same will remain a distant dream. We are proud of our employees in PSP Europe Nets; we all are very focused in how to service our customers well but at the same time we have fun together. I am so proud of my Customer Experience team. It is not always easy, but we are focused, positive, like to work with each other and like to work with our customers. This is the best part of the job for me, having such an amazing group of colleagues.
What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?
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Pain points are not always a bad thing. If you can’t completely eliminate them or if they are somehow a part of your identity, look for clever ways to use them to your advantage. This might be the starting point of a novel approach that will turn you into a trendsetter or a key player within your industry.
Being detail-oriented is a must. If your business involves constant direct interaction with customers, make sure you offer them all the attention they deserve. Happy customers are engaged customers. And engaged customers, in turn, can turn into the most powerful brand advocates.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
Whether your company is in the midst of a digital transformation initiative, nearing completion or just starting out on its digital transformation journey, it must have a clear sense of what it hopes to achieve by this effort.
So, what constitutes digital transformation success? Is it a complete migration to the technologies supporting digital transformation? The implementation of advanced CRM platforms? Increased revenue and market share?
The latter is probably the acid test, as the primary reason for migrating to a digital transformation environment must ultimately be to improve the business — by delivering a better customer experience, improving productivity, eliminating inefficiencies, ensuring compliance, and so on.
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
We are implementing and looking into different solutions on the market. As my area is covering a wide range of servicing merchants, we are having different initiatives when It comes to digital transformation but also CX solutions, using:
- cloud technology, which supports a wide variety of advanced managed services, such as SaaS and PaaS;
- AI and machine learning, which facilitate the development of sophisticated applications that extend and enhance human capabilities;
- data analytics, which uses sophisticated algorithms to generate additional actionable information from data; and
- IoT, which enables the integration of a wide variety of intelligent devices via the internet into a suite of components that supports DX requirements.
Our main aim is to make the experience easy for our merchants using all the available tools. But I have to point out that we are not avoiding human interaction; we are digitizing all processes and offering our customers an easy way of interacting and consuming our product/service, but we are remaining there for them to reach out. We believe that it is the customers who choose how they want to interact with us. Our feedback results show us that customers value our highly knowledgeable employees and that this is the trigger to rate us high in customer satisfaction.
Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?
I like to read psychological books that give us the answer on the customer mindset. This summer I read again the book from years ago to see if something changed in the meantime: Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy by Kit Yarrow.
We read a lot of new trends, and for me it was more on reflecting how are we changing in this world – are the basics still the same?
What is your favorite CX metric?
Although senior executives tend to prefer to use only one or two metrics to summarize the whole of the customer experience, that approach does not show where to focus to effect change. Audit all CX metrics across the whole organization, not just those tracked in the marketing and customer service departments, and then identify how each metric is calculated, who tracks it, and who is accountable for its improvement.
The once that are a must, I would put in the following categories:
- Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
- Customer loyalty/retention/churn
- Employee engagement
It is critical to avoid focusing only on one top-level CX metric, such as CSAT or Net Promoter Score (NPS). Instead, consolidate all the relevant metrics into a CX dashboard, build a hierarchy of metrics, or construct an index that covers as many aspects of employee engagement, quality, satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy as possible, and share it across departments.
So, to conclude; don’t use just one metric, don’t build it up in silos, share it across departments, and track the improvements!