Hi Vas, tell us about yourself and your background.
My name is Vas Alli and I have over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical, TMT, CPG, and life science industries.
I currently lead corporate strategy for the Verizon Consumer Group. Prior to this role, I served as Chief of Staff to the Head of Customer Experience & Transformation for Verizon.
While at Verizon, I have led two major organizational transformations and numerous strategic initiatives, including the creation and implementation of Verizon’s first-ever NPS 50 strategy. Prior to Verizon, I was the managing director of SRI Ventures, LLC., a boutique management consulting firm focused on strategic transformation.
I hold a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University and an executive M.B.A. from Columbia Business School with a concentration in new ventures & operations management.
I currently live in New Jersey with my wife Jessica, our two boys, Ashton Jai & Ledger Keating, and our two dogs.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
If we rewind back to April of 2019, Verizon did not have a dedicated Customer Experience & Transformation organization. As part of our VZ 2.0 initiative to realign the business to be customer-first, we established this new organization.
Starting in November of 2018, myself and the Head of Customer Experience actually designed and stood up a 1,000+ person organization to centralize all of our efforts w/in CX across the Verizon Consumer Group. And it all started as a vision for Verizon to achieve our aspiration of becoming an NPS 50+ company by 2025.
Prior to launching this organization, I actually never worked directly in CX, outside of the constructs of product development/management.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current role?
I am currently the corporate strategy lead for CX and our Platforms & Ecosystems teams within Verizon’s Corporate Strategy organization.
Our remit is to develop & articulate the Consumer Group strategy and create our 5yr strategic vision and ambitions to become a customer-centric organization.
I am responsible for our CX strategy and M&A pipeline for our Platforms & Ecosystem efforts.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
As with anything, companies should rely on data & insights to better understand their customer base.
It is not enough to just dive into NPS analyses/reports, but digging deeper into the data, conducting regression analyses, and truly understanding your operational metrics. If you are able to stitch together your operational data in a meaningful way, there are many insights that you can uncover on the behaviors and preferences of your customers
Finally and probably the most meaningful – setup “CX Listening Posts” to better understand the pain points of not only your customers, but those of your employees on the front-line that directly interact with your customers.
What are some companies that you think are doing an excellent job at customer experience, and why?
There are many great customer experience companies out there, but I’d have to say the one common trait among all of these best-in-class examples is that they simplify the experience and make it easy to do business with their brand.
Having a truly omni-channel experience also goes a long way in helping ensure customers are able to get the support they need whether it be for sales or service.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
I recently co-authored a research article with Execs in the Know, on “Empowering Customers to Take Control of Their Journeys, Through AI-powered Personalization and Automation.”
This article guides practitioners in the do’s and don’ts of leveraging AI and automation to deploy successful digital transformations. In a nutshell, it is all about empowering each customer with the ability to take control of their own journey, and balancing the interplay between complexity of interaction and empathy required to handle said transaction.
You can read more here.
What are some CX solutions or tools that you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
Right now, the name of the game is digital transformation; as evident by the global pandemic, digital-first solutions are here to stay, and the sooner companies are able to accelerate their digital transformations, the faster they will be able to care for the emerging needs of their consumers.
More specifically, leveraging artificial intelligence to deliver personalization and predictive/proactive automation will be key to creating a differentiated value prop when it comes to best-in-class CX.
Did you read any interesting books this past summer that you’d like to recommend?
One book which I really enjoyed personally was actually Team of Teams by General Stanley A. McChrystal. The book is a wonderful exposé on how reductionist hierarchical management structures are limiting. Rather organizations should act as “Teams of Teams” to be as a robust and adaptable to changing environments.
One concept in particular which resonated with me, was the idea of empowered execution, a concept which in context of CX is immensely powerful, especially when you consider empowering your frontline to own the experience they deliver to customers each and every day.
What is your favorite CX metric?
See, the easy answer is NPS, but in actuality my favorite CX metric is First Contact Resolution or FCR. When you think about the importance of being there for your customers, it is immensely important that the brand resolve the issue right then and there. And if not, that the brand takes on that issue and resolves it on behalf of the customer without that customer having to contact customer support multiple times for the same issue.
If a brand can get this one metric right, it will speak volumes to their CX efforts, and their ability to better serve their customers.