Hi Marcos, tell us about yourself and your background.
I am Brazilian, I am 51 years old, and I have lived in Asunción, Paraguay, for 27 years. My non-negotiable values are humanism, humor, and justice. My education is “non-linear”: I studied Electronic Engineering and Psychology, but my areas of work have always been innovation, entrepreneurship, strategy, and customer experience management (since before CX existed as a methodology!). I am on Earth to create, learn, teach, and enjoy. I am married to Sonia, the love of my life, I have a human daughter and two dog children.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
From a very early age, I started a career in the gastronomy sector, starting as a waiter to becoming a restaurant manager. Subsequently, I worked for many years at a Club Med resort, which I consider my greatest CX school. There I performed various functions, up to the position of Public Relations Manager, where my main role was to ensure that the vacation experience of guests, both families and business groups, were impeccable.
When I moved to Paraguay, I participated in the founding group of the first ISP in the country, at a time when the concept of start-up was not yet predominant. As Chief Marketing Officer, my role was divided between managing the promotion and growth of the company, and supporting users, who had never had contact with the Internet in their lives, to take full advantage of the new communications paradigm. The Customer Experience within a totally innovative service for them, required a lot of empathy and a lot of focus in the journey of discovery of the value proposals that Internet offers. Finally, in 1998 I founded my consulting firm, Hypokampo Neuroexperiences Factory, which specializes in Innovation and Experience Management, in the early days of CX worldwide.
What do you think the top priority should be for a company that wants to improve its customer experience?
Cotton buds. Because listening, but really listening to the client, and acting coherently in response to their needs, desires, and problems, is the basis for building a lasting and profitable relationship, based on trust and mutual knowledge. There is much talk about “empathy” these days, and the Greek root of the word is “pathos,” emotion. Being empathetic, more than just recognizing the client’s emotions, is being “in-pathos”, inside the client’s emotion, and responding to them with a human voice. So, I would suggest less speech training, and more “listeneech” training.
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
Initially, it should be a top-down process: if the upper echelons of the company are not convinced of the importance of customer-centric strategy, no isolated action of VoC will result. Once the culture of listening is established, the company must direct all its efforts and resources to fulfill its promise of satisfying needs and desires or solving customer problems. It is a virtuous cycle: if I listen and take positively committed action, the customers will trust me more and give me more information about what they want and expect from my work. And this information will be the input for a new round of committed action.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes. What are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
Forget about digital — focus on culture. The transformation is not technological (it never was, never will be), it was always cultural. It does not matter the “current machine”, the important issue is the security that the employee has of the utility of that machine for his functions. People will easily adopt anything that makes their job easier and will sabotage anything that looks like “innovation for the sake of innovation.”
Another fundamental point: move forward! The perfect is the enemy of the good, and if the company expects all systems to be ready, all its employees trained, and all its customers engaged, it will be too late.
What are some CX companies and solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
The Latin spirit is very useful for CX: we are more visceral, more emotional, closer to people. Several Latin American companies call my attention at the moment: WitAdvisor, a very complete Argentine platform with an excellent cost / benefit ratio for the integral management of the CX; PeopleXperience, a young Brazilian start-up but with a great future, dedicated to building buyer personas and mapping the client’s journey; Blecx, a consultancy led by a professional woman with enormous creative capacity; and SEDA Latam, an executive education institution, CXPA partner and probably the best CX-oriented MBA in Latin America. On the other side of the world, in Australia, CEC — The Customer Experience Company, the company that I would like to own!
What are some of your tips for people who want to work in the CX sphere?
Train the human factor: look into the eyes, listen not only to the reasons but also the emotions of people, respond with a human voice. Be yourself, it takes too much memory to lie, and people clearly identify sincerity. Study, study, study. And when you have already learned a lot, and have had a lot of experience, study more. The human being evolves. His emotions will evolve too, and experiences that will leave him with goosebumps as well. Don’t stop: learn!
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?
We were never normal! The human being is the least normal of the inhabitants of the Earth. And our eccentricity will only keep advancing. Honestly, I don’t believe in a great “awakening of human consciousness” in the post-pandemic. Some people will be more attentive to what is really important, but the routine river will drag the vast majority back to the status quo. In this scenario, perhaps a bit pessimistic, I believe that the tendency to take care of oneself and others will gain some strength, while the ancient habit of living without realizing the present will gain nuances of awareness and focus. The new generations are already born intra- and hyper-connected, and that can be a positive factor if people, companies, and countries know how to take good advantage of it.
eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?
The best way to transform momentum into the current paradigm is, once again, to listen and take committed action. A customer who complains is sending a message: “I want to continue doing business with you, but there are some things you need to change.” If we don’t hear that message and don’t act, no problem – the competition will!
What is your favorite CX metric? Why?
My favorite CX metric is HSHT: heartbeats, smiles and happiness tears. Positive emotion, the main objective of the CX, is not to be measured: it is to be observed and felt. I do use the traditional metrics: NPS, C-SAT, CES, etc.; they are useful for very specific questions. But nothing replaces direct contact, face-to-face conversation, true empathy. My favorite question to ask the client is: are you happy? Because the purpose of CX is not to sell more, create loyalty or increase profits: those are consequences. The purpose of CX is, through positively memorable experiences, to make people happier.