Hi Jan, tell us about yourself and your background and how you got to the CX space?
I have always been CX aware. I came from a sales background but tended to work in B2B, which always is heavily reliant on nailing CX. I am happy to have watched sales as an industry be less one-off sale reliant and more reputation aware too. From the moment I had any of the business of my own, it made sense to me to want your customer to come back, and that means nailing the customer experience whatever sector you in. As a writer, if people don’t enjoy the experience of reading what I write – they won’t come back. It is often that simple.
Online commerce was booming in 2020; how did it affect brands’ adoption of Artificial Intelligence? – What should be the main focus for brands this year?
One of the main increases is in the use of chatbots. The problem there you get what you pay for, and most companies are limited on investment during these times. There have to be few things as frustrating as a poor chatbot! However, it is no use pretending that they are not on the rise, and it is how they are used that matters. I remember talking to the Australian company MATE who has built its whole growth on customer service. They do use them – but only in the event of no-one being available personally, and only to book a call back within a set time, that time to suit the customer. That is good chatbot use to me.
Equally though, the more self-service your web site can be both in terms of being easy to use and providing any answer quickly, and clearly that your customer should want reduces your people time and your reliance on chatbots.
In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good CX strategy?
I think that is quite difficult to generalize. Customer churn is really different between sectors. Retail outlets have to be very inventive to get a true picture of customer satisfaction (when they are open) in comparison to a digital supplier. But it always comes down to ensuring a smooth, easy, enjoyable customer journey that is worth the customer not going somewhere else for. And personalization is much more important now – don’t lose sight of the customer in favour of digitalization.
How much has the role of the CEO in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
With most businesses moving online and only a few including an option to work at home in the past, everything about running a company has changed. Managers have had to learn to let go, to assess on results rather than hours spent. Many companies have invested in practical things for their team, from standing desks to new laptops, but it not just the practical considerations. Huge amounts of leadership time are now spent on keeping in touch with team members both in structured and unstructured ways and also in working to create a company culture, which is considerably harder to do remotely. I have huge admiration for any CEO who is flourishing in these times.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
To reach for what seems impossible: I never seriously thought I would get a contract with a publishing house like Bloomsbury. However, if I hadn’t tried and given it my absolute best shot, I never would have done. You only regret what you don’t try.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events. What was your favorite one?
I didn’t attend as many as I should because of being on writing deadlines all year, but I started listening to podcasts a lot for the first time and was really impressed by the amount of diversity and depth of knowledge out there. Hard to pick a favourite, though.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future. How should CEOs gear up to the changing times?
CEOs are usually a bit better than founders at this, I think, but even so, we are all prone to putting those we serve first and ourselves last. Now, in these even more than usual challenging times to lead, we absolutely have to get to grips with the concept that unless we take care of our own physical and mental health, we will not be able to service others.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Customer satisfaction but well done – not a quick are you happy tick box. A really well developed and regular system for assessing true satisfaction pulled most importantly from talking to (not emailing!) customers tells you the most every time.
JAN CARAVELLE is the author of “Scale For Success.”