Monday, October 25, 2021
Home Interviews CXBuzz Interview with Saurabh Mittal, Vice President, Global Digital Transformation Leader, EXL

CXBuzz Interview with Saurabh Mittal, Vice President, Global Digital Transformation Leader, EXL

Hi Saurabh, tell us about yourself and your background.

I am a global digital transformation leader, looking to make a direct impact on organizations and clients I work with. I am responsible to drive a strategic focus on building and scaling framework for innovation and technology-led transformation and help businesses achieve their strategic objectives and customer experience outcomes.

In my current role, I’m responsible to scale AI-led solutions to transform delivery models for data-driven enterprises. Over the last 15 years, I’ve worked with multiple large corporations and have had insightful exposure to Enterprise Innovation, Business Consulting, Operational Transformation, Customer Experience Management, Program Management, Service Designing, Market Research and Business Analytics across the Australian, Indian, UK, and US markets.

I’m a certified six sigma professional and I hold an MBA (International Business) from Symbiosis University, after graduating with a bachelor’s in Technology (Electronics and Communications) from Kurukshetra University.

How did you start working in the customer experience space?

My association with the BPM industry since its early days really shaped my interest in the  customer experience domain. Through the years, I witnessed how organizations across the world really have developed an obsession towards customer-centricity and experience management. I am amazed how such a simple-looking concept like customer experience management is in reality so intricate, and there is no “one size fit all” approach to manage it. Also, just like any other domain, it is constantly evolving with customers, their expectations, and the ecosystem. The complex art of managing customer experience is what drove me to get associated and continue working in this space. 

What do you think the top priority should be for a company that wants to improve its customer experience?

In today’s age I truly believe that “speed-to-outcome” is the fundamental driver for customer experience. Customers expect organizations to manage everything almost instantly or in some cases want organizations to pre-empt what they — the customers — may need and suffice it even before connecting with them. Look at how Amazon is setting the gold standard of CX where speed is the basis of every customer touch point — be it speed through the buying journey (single click cart, data driven recommendations etc.) to speed of customer servicing and returns. Customers are even happy to pay more to ensure they get the fastest experience with the brand — early available deals, fastest delivery, etc.

Organizations adopting “speed to customer outcomes” as their top priority usually lead over competitors for better customer experience.

How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?

Enterprises need to build seamless data flows to listen, understand their customers, their needs and expectations better. There are three things which enterprises need to focus on to make this a reality:

  1. Deploy AI upstream at point of customer interactions: Conversational AI solutions, real-time sentiment and speech analytics, digital journey mapping and real-time analytics etc. can help digitize and unlock value of Dark Data residing in the form of unstructured datasets which isn’t leveraged effectively for any analytics by enterprises.
  2. Embedded Analytics using 3rd party rich data sources: Continuous stream of analytics by creating a digital persona of customers, their preferences etc. is key to ensure maximum alignment to the customers. Using 3rd party data assets and not just relying on one stream of data is important to have a holistic (360 degree) view of customers especially in today’s product-service integrated ecosystem.
  3. Proactive listening: Instigated responses from customers like survey/CSAT or lagging indicators such as complaints are not the best form of understanding the pulse of customers as its point in time reaction. Companies need to constantly monitor, grab and listen to every customer action to create the right behavioral patterns which best fits their real personality

Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes. What are your tips on a successful digital transformation?

Organizations are driving the agenda for digital transformation and are continuously investing more money in such programs, even though industry data suggests that over 70% of such programs fail to deliver results. Firstly, this is because of the myopic design thinking around deploying new-age digital technologies in silos to solve point problems within enterprises. This results in enterprises getting quick wins but fail to drive ROI continuously with diminishing returns. Secondly, many enterprises still have technology and business teams operating with different priorities and focus, leading to delays and non-aligned program outcomes.

A successful digital transformation program requires:

  • Orchestrating digital technology seamlessly to digitize data flows through enterprise;
  • Driving digital first mindset through continuous change management;
  • Measuring real business and customer outcomes rather than process centric outcomes.

What are some CX companies and solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?

IBM Tealeaf (an AI powered customer experience suite), Adobe Experience Manager and Sprinkler Care are some of the  solutions that hold the promise of being holistic CX management solutions.

What are some of your tips for people who want to work in the CX sphere?

My “two cents” for people aspiring to work in the CX sphere are:

  • Be ready to iterate, multiple times: there is no “one size fit all” strategy that works for customer experience since every business is unique based on business model, product/services or customer segments and value proposition. One needs to understand more and more about their customers in their natural ecosystem and hence require immense data inputs and analytics to create individual personas and balancing behavioral science with art of customer management
  • Focus on end-to-end engagement lifecycle: Customer perceptions and experiences are built not just by one off engagement point but it’s a cumulative emotional reaction culminating from multiple interactions or engagement points which matters the most. Hence, CX specialists need to understand the customer engagement lifecycle and moment of truth events holistically and then design experiences in such a way that it brings out delight. 

So many things have 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?

The pandemic has really accelerated the need and adoption rate of digital technologies — both by customers and organizations. This new trend will continue with customers across all age groups getting comfortable with adoption of technology. One example of this was clearly visible in the US Insurance industry; the US Life Insurance industry has been lagging behind in adoption of digital intake by customers due to demographic and preferences and paper is always king. During the pandemic, customer adoption of digital channels jumped up by almost 2X-3X across the lifecycle. This further bolstered enterprise decisions to invest heavily into their paperless initiatives — be it through enabling frontline portals for submissions to providing digital signature facilities or by driving digital money exchanges. This will change the CX yardstick for traditional businesses by revising customer expectations that will compete directly with the CX promise delivered by new age digital businesses. 

eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?

The pandemic saw a huge influx of product reviews typically for/by:

  • First-time online customers (majorly forced to do so due to pandemic) who witnessed a new channel and were eager to voice their opinion
  • Enterprises who rapidly enabled online experience due to pandemic – creating an immediate reaction for their services/products as well as experience by customers

We need to leverage this momentum by leveraging this reviews data, coupled with other rich customer attributes/3rd party data sets to understand this new segment of customers’ behavior and streamline our products, as well as engagement experiences. This will help move businesses from being “Digitally Enabled” to “Digitally Transformed” businesses 

What is your favorite CX metric? Why?

Speed-to-outcome, in my mind, is the most important CX metric, which should be tracked at every stage to improve the experiences of the customer. It can be a core differentiator for multiple companies in today’s age and era. Insurers settling claims in a matter of minutes to retailers providing offline/online single touch shopping experiences from selection to checkout, customers value their time as much as price and quality of products. Enterprises enabling such differentiated speed can drive customer experience positively.

About the author

Efrat Vulfsonshttps://www.prsoprano.com/
Efrat Vulfsons is the CEO & Co-Founder of PR Soprano and the editor of CXBuzz parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.

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