Hi Sebastien, tell us about yourself and how you got to the CX space?
I studied economics and started in the financial world (stock market and corporate finance). But, at one point in my career, I had the opportunity to enter in a revenue management area and it was the link to get closer to the business. I realized that I liked working in core business areas, being closer to the action; so, I was leading areas of marketing, pricing, churn, strategy, business planning, etc. I started in CX when I was working in a B2B company and I was given the challenge of creating the Customer Experience area. From there I did not stop, and I got involved in carrying out experience and digital transformation projects in sectors such as telecommunications, banking, education, and media. I have specialized in tangibilizing the impact of CX on the business (what I call CX Economics).
Online commerce was booming in 2020; how did it affect brands’ digital transformation strategy? – What should be the main focus for brands this year?
In Latin America (the market where I am), the growth of e-commerce has been amazing, driven by higher internet penetration in the region (even though we are still far from markets like the USA or Europe) and a digitalization race of companies. In this region, the big challenge for brands has been to align their brand promises with the experience ultimately delivered. Many retail/restaurant / e-retail companies did not have a clear and defined delivery strategy for their products. This meant that the online shopping experience may have been amazing, but the experience at the subsequent touchpoints (delivery + customer service) was poor. 2020 made these shortcomings evident. The focus this year should be on integrating the company’s capabilities to deploy and deliver a value proposition that is truly aligned to customer expectations across the entire customer journey.
Sebastien’s checklist for CX strategy
In your POV – What is the ultimate checklist for a good CX Strategy?
I believe that an end-to-end CX strategy should start from the definition and alignment of the value proposition with our capabilities (we should not over-promise!). Next, it is necessary to generate a deep understanding of our customers, and then design an ad hoc experience for them (depending on each of their needs). It is key to have a cross-cutting perception measurement process to capture valuable information (feedback) from our customers, and thus be able to adjust processes. All the above must be accompanied by a cultural layer and a governance layer that together enable accurate strategic execution. Finally, for this to be sustainable, it is necessary to demonstrate the impact of a CX strategy, so CX Economics and Metrics are essential to link the improvement of the experience to the business.
How much has Customer Experience changed in the social distancing era – what role digital transformation has in this crisis?
Customer experience is the set of perceptions a customer has about interactions with a company. That is, it has always encompassed interactions in the digital channel (as well as all other channels); however, in this era of social distancing, digitalization has accelerated, changing the profile and behavior of customers. So rather than saying that there has been a change in the customer experience, we must identify how much our customers have evolved, what new consumption patterns they have, what behavioral changes have been generated, and adjust our strategy based on this. The role of digital transformation should be to empower the company to deliver a better customer experience given this new context, adapting (possibly new culture) and inventing new solutions (products/services/business models + technology).
What was the biggest lesson you learned in 2020?
Without a doubt, the biggest lesson has been that things can change from one day to the next at an impressive speed. I believe that I have always had clear action plans and alternative scenarios in case things took a different course. But 2020 broke all schemes. Every day the situation of the country could change, and the government made decisions that directly impacted the business. If before I had 2 alternative scenarios, now I must plan at least twice as many; likewise, the speed of reaction and adaptation has also had to evolve. Agile thinking and “trial and error” served me well during 2020 and have been my daily routine throughout the period of social distancing.
2020 was the year of webinars and online events, what was your favorite one?
At a global level, I really liked the CX Day 2020 by CXPA, and about events in Spanish, I found the “2020 Congress” of the DEC particularly good in content. I always try to be aware of all the trends and cases in the different regions. I am currently a CCXP and I am involved in this association. Also, I have organized and participated in several events and webinars during 2020; since my goal is to spread the customer experience discipline throughout Latin America.
It looks like working from home is going to stay with us for the foreseeable future, how should CX Executives gear up to the changing times?
At the executive and management level, the most important thing is trust in the teams, that they are autonomous and empowered. The cadence of meetings has also changed, and this will depend on each team; in my experience, truly short, direct, and frequent meetings have helped me to manage the different teams I oversee. Also, the human side is more present now, as people work in their personal environment, and it is normal that in a work meeting the wife or children pass by; the key is how to turn those moments into an opportunity to get to know each other person better. People orientation in this new era is a challenge, as leaders must convey their genuine concern for their team members through a phone or a camera; in my opinion, this can only be achieved by creating “open door” spaces and generating moments to connect with them through team activities that are not necessarily work-related.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
The most important thing is to be able to link how a customer experience improvement (through an initiative) impacts business metrics. That is why I cannot choose just one metric. On a day-to-day basis, it is important to have a wide range of metrics that allow us to understand the situation of our customer base (descriptive metrics, perception metrics, and business metrics). I consider the NPS and CLTV duo to be immensely powerful, as it allows us to segment customers (promoters, passives, detractors) and links them to their respective CTLV. This makes it possible to prioritize and focus efforts on segments where there is an opportunity for improvement and to value the change from passive to promoter, for example.