Hi Jorge, tell us about yourself and your background.
Hi CXBUZZ! It is a pleasure to be interviewed. Thank you very much for having me.
I’m a Spanish consumer behavior researcher by training and a movie lover by vocation. I’m based in Madrid. I started my career in trade marketing, moved to corporate branding and advertising, then to consulting, and finally set up my own boutique consulting firm: THINK&SELL. Nowadays, the part of my job that I like the most is helping high-potential managers reach the next level through employee/customer experience workshops and mentoring.
How did you first start working in the CX space?
My first CX project was a request from a Private Banking branch of a big retail banking brand that had acquired the clients of an exiting foreign firm in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. It was a very challenging project. CX was something very underdeveloped in Spain; small wealth management firms were much better managed, with better offerings, better teams, no conflicts of interests… Long story short: when it comes to your money, your own hard-earned money, you don’t give a damn about frills; you want the brass tacks crystal clear. Then, all the rest can be welcomed.
What are some of the common misunderstandings related to customer experience?
As I see it, the main misconception regarding CX is to treat it as an opportunistic tactical add-on instead of as a strategical all-encompassing mindset. CX is not just about customer service and in-store experience. CX is how a brand relates to its customers, from brand awareness to recommendation (or repudiation). Everything a brand does impacts the perception people have over it.
In CX, perception is paramount. Perceptions bring about expectations. A great deal of CX hinges on our satisfaction and our propensity to recommend, which are highly dependent on our expectations. If your brand doesn’t live up to the expectations that it has created, your CX is not working properly. Something needs some fine-tuning. That something can lie within any department of your organization.
Have you seen any interesting new trends in eCommerce this year?
I’d say that reverse logistics has finally come to age. This implies that a lot of people who were reluctant to buy online before the pandemic due to concerns with returns and refunds are now happy online shoppers.
Additionally, e-banking has advanced for a decade, accelerating the foreseeable closure of thousands of bank branches. A challenge for banking CX managers who will have to rethink their customer journeys many times over.
eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?
The best thing a brand can do to jump on the product review’s bandwagon is to keep doing the things that made its customers write their positive reviews and don’t put any pressure on its customers to write new reviews.
What are some CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
Tough I need to follow the evolution of the CX universe, I don’t keep a close eye on any specific software solution or big consulting firm fad. In the end, all software can be replicated, and fads are nonsensical management tricks that end up giving the upper hand to those who are smart enough not to fall for them. I use a straightforward but pretty powerful peripheral vision system to detect weak signals that can disrupt the markets in which my clients have interests.
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?
On the face of it, working from home seems to be the most obvious one. But beware of first impressions. Not everybody can work from home, and among those who can, not everybody is happy doing so. We, humans, are social animals. We need contact with each other. However pleasant it can be not to be around your boss for some time, chances are, we’re going to miss our colleagues. More flexible working hours will be the new normal. The pandemic has laid bare who’s reliable and who’s not, who’s a team player, and who’s a lone wolf… There’s a whole lot of new info on employee behavior that is being cooked and will have an impact on how organizations are managed in the near future.
Do you believe focus groups are still relevant in the era of eCommerce? Why?
Focus groups are a relic of a distant past that is not coming over. Any anthropologist can tell you what’s wrong with them (then and now): instead of trying to understand the participants’ language, concepts, mindsets… and use them to define the research, the researcher’s language define the research. It goes without saying that no great product or service has ever come out of a Focus Group. Informal conversations with customers and prospects are a much effective, faster, and cheaper way to improve our offer.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Metricmania has reached the sky. Too many managers spend an inordinate amount of their scarce time thinking up ways to game the system, be it by creaming, lowering standards, distorting data, virtue-signaling… you name it. There’s no such thing as a single metric to improve a brand’s CX. CX managers need first and foremost judgment based on experience. Then, once judgment is on the boat, industry-specific proxies are kind of useful.
Always keep in mind that what can be measured is not always worth measuring, and what gets measured may have no relationship to what we really want to know. Fad metrics like the NPS can be deceptive and give the top management a fake snapshot of the actual situation. Good judgment is the best metric of all.