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Home Interviews CXBuzz Interview With Pranesh Padmanabhan, CEO & Founder at Studio 31

CXBuzz Interview With Pranesh Padmanabhan, CEO & Founder at Studio 31

I’m Pranesh Padmanabhan, 33, a first-generation serial entrepreneur and the Founder of Studio 31, a decade-old, boot-strapped, creative wedding photography and film company that many publications have recognized for its zero inventory model and unique company culture in the unorganized wedding industry in India. To date, Studio 31 has captured over 8000 events and is employing over 3000+ creative artists on a contract basis every year. 

By implementing the right technology at the right time, Studio 31 is today a 100% remote company and runs on auto-pilot, thereby saving me over 8 hours per day.

I’m currently building Merake, a to-be-launched, global SaaS product that would simplify the communication between wedding photographers and their customers and provide them a memorable, hassle-free experience across the whole business life-cycle.

My entrepreneurship journey’s purpose is to solve challenges with common sense and technology. I’m fairly successful because I put my employees and customers at the center of everything I do.

– I constantly motivate people and push them hard to take risks by narrating stories that would create an impact on their thought process. I’m sincerely practicing mental health advocacy and trying to break the stigma around it.

– I enjoy practical learning, and I do not believe in formal education, even though I have one. I’ve failed a lot of times since my childhood, and I feel lucky after realizing that failure is just a phase during the process of success.

My wife and I have a 19-month-old kid, and we’re thoroughly enjoying the work from home or rather work for home life 🙂 

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

If one can think outside the box, ideas are plenty. Here’s an example or idea, 

  1. Curate a list of all the negative reviews your competitors have
  2. Connect with these customers who had an unpleasant experience on Linkedin or Twitter
  3. Don’t be salesy, but try to understand what went wrong and build a relationship
  4. If you think your product can really resolve their pain point, you already have a prospect 🙂 

Also, brands can go one step further and use all the keywords from negative reviews and use them on marketing campaigns, addressing them as a pain point and how their product is solving those pain points.

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

The practice of “Stop assuming and start asking” should be the mantra when formulating the CXM Strategy for a brand. Data from every interaction and the whole customer life cycle journey must be accounted for and deeply studied consistently. 

And, a brand that’s able to provide a great customer experience is able to do it because they invest on their people and take care of them really well. It’s essential and crucial that brands understand this. The customer success staff of any brand are truly the frontline warriors 🙂 

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

Well, It totally depends on the service, industry, and vertical. Offering a personalized solution and being very customer-centric may not go well with scaling up your business. It’s practically feasible with software products / SaaS products and industry verticals that only provide custom solutions. However, it all drills down to how smarty brands can offer a simple solution to a complex pain point that’s universal. Such brands win the global market.

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

  • Formulate and keep refining how a company process works and ensure that there’s 100% transparency between the brand and the customer regarding how brands work. Keep no room for surprises.
  • Understanding and realizing the difference between customer success & customer support.
  • Form a dedicated team for “Customer Happiness” without affecting the employee’s morale, motivation, and overall well-being. Usually, these teams are targeted by customers, and they face too much pressure, affecting their mental health.
  • Invest in the right technology and eliminate the usage of emails, support tickets, and IVR’s.
    • Create a very effective and efficient but simple self-help portal that works all the time.
    • Educate customers on how you work and ensure that they understand your process and use your “self-help” portal effectively

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

I don’t read books. But I read a lot on the web to educate myself and seek a lot of ideas.

Pranesh’s predictions for the future of CX

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

  • More brands would start charging customers for a premium customer experience or a concierge service. 
    • The difference in experience at a 5-star hotel vs. a cafe is felt primarily because of the price a customer is willing to pay
      • This would soon reflect for all the industries, especially services.
  •  Customer service will slowly evolve to become “brand-friendly” thereby creating a win-win situation for both the brand and the consumer.

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

My favorite CX metric would be the “Customer Effort Score”; it really helps brands validate if they are on the right track and if they really understand the market and their customers well.

About the author

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