Hi Sharon, tell us about yourself and your background.
I started my career as a Japanese-speaking call center agent and went on to run global business development for some large BPOs. 15 years with a Japanese company gave me a fantastic grounding in what truly great customer service is. 9 years ago, I launched a buyer-supplier matching platform specializing in CX solutions – Matchboard. It’s been a huge success, and we’ve helped thousands of businesses find their perfect match solutions. I recently joined the Industry Advisory Board of the School of Computer Science at the University of Sydney, where I’m providing ideas to foster an entrepreneurial, customer-centric culture.
What is the biggest misunderstanding about customer experience, in your opinion?
I think the biggest misunderstanding is that you can provide a great customer experience just by focusing on individual “moments of truth.” You need rather have more of a big picture journey mindset and orchestrate that customer journey as it dynamically evolves.
What are some of the newer CX companies/solutions you’re keeping your eyes on right now?
Journey management software is one – there are only a handful of players in this complex space, but I think it will take off within a large enterprise. It’s also impossible to ignore the rise of Conversational AI. And customer interaction analytics should really become the standard rather than a Rolls Royce feature in contact centers.
Sharon’s tips for improving customer loyalty
What can companies do to improve customer loyalty and retention?
Consistency builds trust, and trust builds loyalty. Companies can earn loyalty by delivering consistently on their promises – whether that’s a promise to deliver within x days or a promise to refund return merchandise. Brands can also foster loyalty with customers through meaningful, personalized communication. For example, if the call center has some downtime, why not call premium customers just to say thank you for the purchase and use the conversation to ask for any suggestions for improvement? Being proactive is important, and this includes identifying possible triggers for customer defection and getting on the front foot.
What do you think is most relevant and why: CSAT (customer satisfaction score), NPS (net promoter score), or CES (customer effort score)?
I think having a strong focus on one metric is easiest to drive organizational change, but I think the best metric varies by business. I also think that stopping at just a score out of 10 doesn’t tell the full story. Diving deeper into why people are detractors, for example, is essential to get value from an NPS framework.
How can companies better use social media in the era of customer-centricity and personalization?
One of the most powerful CX weapons is speed of response, and that applies in social media more than any other channel, where it’s critical to prevent negative feedback and brand damage going viral. So the number one thing organizations can do better on social media is respond FAST. What customers hate more than anything is unhelpful canned responses, so personalized attention is important.
What is your opinion on AI-based chatbots to handle customer support?
The rise of AI in customer service is unstoppable. Chatbots are becoming smarter and smarter, which, together with millennials’ preference for chat-based service, is fuelling consumer adoption. Chatbots are great at answering simple customer queries and routing them to the right skilled agent where there’s complexity. More and more, we’ll see the AI triaging inquiries as to the first point of contact, but a seamless blend with human agents is important to get right.
What was the best movie you saw that has come out during this past year?
Hard to beat a good old-fashioned spy thriller, and I enjoyed The Courier.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
My favorite CX metric is happy customers! In the case of my business, which is B2B, we win on average 2 new clients a day. These small numbers mean we can have a personal interaction to ensure happiness every time!