Hi Steve, tell us about yourself and your background.
I have been working in the Customer Experience field for the past 20 years, through the course of my career I have worked in many roles both customer-facing and behind the scenes from an entry-level position up to Vice President of Operations. In 2014 I started my own consulting company focusing primarily on call centers, but we have helped companies from many different industries improve their overall customer experience and we continue to gain certifications in the field of business coaching and consulting as well as customer experience.
How did you first start working in the CX space?
I officially started working in Customer Experience when I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school. However, I started learning the value of great customer experiences while still in high school. We had a robust selection of elective classes which allowed for us to leverage them as business education by way of working projects for events and the faculty. I learned quickly that those who took it seriously and provided a great customer experience were likely to make more money as part of their classwork.
What are some of the common misunderstandings related to customer experience?
The biggest misunderstanding about customer experience is that it’s a department and not everyone’s responsibility. Customer Service is the department, customer experience is the philosophy of how you’ll interact with your customers and it is the responsibility of every team member to deliver a great customer experience. The direction of what great customer experience looks like must start at the top and be engrained in everything that is done at the company.
Have you seen any interesting new trends in eCommerce this year?
The general shift to eCommerce has been interesting to watch since the pandemic started, I was hoping to see more innovation from the eCommerce sites but in general, I feel like they kept doing what they had always done but actually got slower at their fulfillment times. One year into the pandemic, you would think they would have figured out how to get things back to normal. Unfortunately, that’s just where the world is at this point, so we’ll have to see what takeaways these eCommerce giants come away with and use to improve moving forward.
eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?
I think regardless of an eCommerce boom, leaving reviews on social platforms is here to stay. I’ve seen many business owners try to ignore this trend or actually tell me they don’t think anyone reads the reviews anyway. The fact of the matter is, no matter how much you don’t want to admit it, your current and future customers very much are looking at these reviews before deciding to spend their money with you or not. In order to make this work to your advantage, you need to ensure every touchpoint with your company understands its contribution to the overall customer experience. You must also have a plan in place for how you’ll handle negative reviews, customers can forgive a bad review if it is met with a good recovery.
What are some CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
For the past 4-5 years I have really been watching Zendesk as an all-around CX solution. I have implemented them in multiple contact centers, but I am also a sales partner with them at this point because I have been extremely impressed by how they handle their personal customers as well as how they innovate their product offerings in order to ensure companies can put their best foot forward for their customers. Their out-of-the-box solution can be up and running within minutes, but the integrations and API plug-ins that can be done are seemingly endless. Therefore, with the right workflows and strategy, you can leverage it to take your CX to the next level.
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?
While I think it’s yet to be seen whether it sticks around, I am hopeful that companies that found a way to accommodate things in a “remote” fashion will continue to offer services in this fashion. Whether it’s restaurants continuing to offer takeout windows at traditionally eat-in only restaurants, mobile ordering for nearly everything, or virtual meetings and training becoming the norm for companies, the ways in which we utilized technology in conjunction with some good old fashioned ingenuity has been the best thing to come out of the past year and I hope to see more of it!
Do you believe focus groups are still relevant in the era of eCommerce? Why?
Yes, focus groups can give you insight into your product or service before it hits an online review. Focus group members are typically primed for the idea that they are a bit of a tester and if done correctly it can make them feel like an insider, which could build brand loyalty, but it can also improve formal launches to the general public.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
I always tend to favor Net Promotor Score (NPS) whenever possible, I believe having advocates that not only intend to return to your business but also that would tell others to come to you is a fantastic way to build your business and is a great metric to see if you’re still driving down the right path.