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Home Interviews CXBuzz Interview With David Sunderland, VP CS & Operations at Aurea Software...

CXBuzz Interview With David Sunderland, VP CS & Operations at Aurea Software and Faculty & Mentor, CX Certificate Program at The University of Houston

Hi David, tell us about yourself, your background?

I love to learn and be the best at what I do. My professional history has focused on making systems of engagement strategic, repeatable and scalable.

Customers can go anywhere, so I focus on making the companies I’m a part of easy to do business with as a consumer or b2b relationship.

I’ve changed engagement with customers by optimizing customer experiences with online interactions. This has been accomplished in a few ways, such as engagement through technology by implementing AI in search, changing the workflow to be faster by removing unnecessary steps, or analyzing customer interactions to change we do business.

Examples:

Implemented Tableau to create a single pain or glass source for data and metrics.  Teams struggle with more than one source of information.

Rolled out Coveo as a customer information tool.  This tool is an AI-backed search to federate data libraries, optimize results, which drives an ever-improving experience.

This has lead to a focus on customer journey mapping.  This map is crucial to understand how my company does business and ultimately enables all customer interactions to be assigned an owner, create playbooks for efficiency, and drive the best possible customer engagement.

I’ve used my system of customer engagement to improve customer retention, increase ARR and expand product use in more than 20 different companies in the ESW Private Equity portfolio.

Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?

First, if you’re not using customer data, you’re not using the best method to understand, adapt and capitalize on what your customers are telling you through their actions.

This data has key leading indicators to let you how where your customers have headed as well as the lagging indicators of how successful you were.

To capitalize on all this information, you must ensure that you properly capture it all in a way that you can use to report on it.  Next, you must have the ability to analyze, correlate to action and validate your assumptions. I empower my employees to act on this data in an educated and meaningful way to improve action and reaction speed.

Finally, this is a continuous improvement process.  Don’t expect that there is a single action or workflow that will always drive the same result.  The internet is a vast place where consumers want to provide an opinion, and it can change just like the weather.  The data is only as good as your attention, analysis, and continual attention to it.

What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?

Customer Perception – It doesn’t matter how you think you’re doing. Customer perception of you and your products, which are positive, ultimately will lead to a relationship that means renewals, expansion opportunities, whereas the opposite is true if you ignore and don’t foster improvements.

Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?

Absolutely this is relevant.

Many companies are already doing this by tracking customer interactions online.  Some examples are tracking in a way to allow repeat customers to pick up where they left off or making the delivery of service much faster.

When any company streamlines and speeds up customer interactions that allow them to get service or product quickly, any customer will notice when you don’t provide the same level of service.

Personalization of service is another term for streamlining and speeding up interactions.  Customers see this as the way of the future and are expecting it.  If I don’t adapt and find a way to do this for my customers, they see this as a way in which I’ve chosen not to be relevant.

Rather than seeing this as increasingly relevant, it should be seen as the only way to remain viable as a business practice moving forward.

What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?

  • Ensure the customer perspective is present during all decisions being made.

  • Set a company standard of what data is measured and at what frequency

  • Create a strategic customer set and engage them to understand how they perceive us as a business and our delivery of product and service.

  • Create a Customer Health score with customer engagement playbooks for success or recovery activities, specifically calling out owners.

  • Have top-down and bottom-up training and expectation setting of customer engagement.

What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?

Brilliant Mistakes by Paul Schoemaker

David’s predictions for the future of CX

What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?

  • Customer Experience will move to an expected advisory interaction, becoming a trusted advisor for success.

  • Interactions will start to be driven to the web with the expectation of simple tasks being automated.

  • Customers will expect customized automated interactions as the standard.

  • Expectation setting at every stage of the interaction – the companies that do this the best will be the ones that remain relevant.

Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?

The Customer Renewal Rate.

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