Hi Rick, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am the Head of Customer Experience for Roche Diagnostics for the region EMEA-LATAM. I love to delight our customers. For me, this starts with understanding their needs and exploring with them what is driving them. By doing so, we can make changes to make their life better and easier. For the past 20 years, I have been involved in and delivered various projects and programs with strong human and digital components. I got the opportunity to do this in multiple industries: supply chain, finance, FMCG, public sector, aerospace, and healthcare. Before working full time, I swam full time and crossed the IJsselmeer in the Netherlands 3 times (~25km swim).
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
Since I got an Internet connection in the 90s, I have always been fascinated by people’s interactions online. And from that, I evolved from working with communities towards social networking towards mass personalisation to customer experience.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?
One of the aspects of my role is that it spans 18 different time zones. Since EMEA-LATAM is a combination of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. It is excellent to gain other insights and work with great people. However, getting everybody in a single meeting is rather challenging ;).
As a team, our mission is to ensure that all of our affiliates in the region have the capabilities and skills required to deliver excellent customer experiences to our customers. The experiences we aim to improve with our customers start when they are not yet a customer with us until they decide to leave (or to renew) and span every interaction the customer has with us. To make the life of our affiliates as easy as possible, we focus as a team on doing the heavy lifting for them. Such as providing them with insights and measurement platform, solid processes for co-creation and a training curriculum to help in doing their local transformation.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
How companies can better listen is to start listening to understand the customer, not to reply, not to tick a box that you are doing a Voice of the Customer exercise. Listening to understand is to hear what customers are saying and what they are not saying. It is about caring so deeply about the customer to desire to know more and the willingness to change your mind on how their world looks. If you are not allowing customers to change your mind, you are not listening to them, nor will you understand them.
What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?
Any company that is not just asking for customer feedback, since every company does it now. And they also give you the feeling they heard your feedback and appreciate it. They inform you what they can do with it. Too often requests for feedback is just a black hole and will exhaust customer on providing feedback. Closing the loop will only increase customer engagement and, with that, also your ability to delight customers.
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
CX is, for me, not a niche on its own with solutions and tools. It is more often the glue that connects everything. I keep my eye on bringing a customer-centric perspective into all solutions and tools we currently use and improving the customer experience from there.
Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?
The two most exciting books I have read lately are How to Decide by Annie Duke and Noise by Daniel Kahneman. The first one will teach you how to be a better decision-maker by taking you through a set of exercises and approaches for decision hygiene. The latter gives you insights into why people make different decisions in identical situations. Why we are making bad judgments, and how to improve by making less noise in our decisions. I find decision-making fascinating. We do it every day, but how often do we think about how we come to a decision? We often think about the outcome but seldom going more in-depth with the process before it.
What is your favorite CX metric?
I do not have favorites in CX metrics. They are all significant indicators for different sets of actions you would like to take. What I love a lot more than metrics is direct customer feedback. Daily, I browse our portal, which contains all the different metrics and the underlying customer comments. These comments allow me to focus on what to do next and remind me why I am doing this job.