Hi Sunnyma, tell us about yourself and your background.
While I transitioned several career roles, I consider myself a Technology and Strategic advisor in general. Professionally I support and help customers adopt complex, transformational, and strategic engineering programs. I help customers assess the best blend of tools and technologies that help them progress in their journey to modern digital platforms.
How did you start working in the customer experience space?
Well, my thought process is that everyone works directly or indirectly in the CX space; all roles, and products impact or lead to the end users- it may be an external user or an internal peer group within our organization.
I originally started as a developer, but after churning out code and test results for a few years, I realized my quest was not satisfied. I had to understand how the systems impact day to day life for someone. I always wanted to be at that vantage point and understand the end results. Hence, I started getting myself involved in customer engagement early on in my career.
What do you think the top priority should be for a company that wants to improve its customer experience?
LISTEN! LISTEN! LISTEN… Keep doing that and have a robust feedback loop to improve the product and service …whatever you create. Avoid calling a customer and giving a sale, promotions pitch…Instead, call them to check up, to synchronize upon how it’s going. Spend the time and money in research, surveys to understand the pain points. Our priority should be – how I can increase my base of “Happy Customers.” And this might lead to the point that we might spend less on marketing … Because those “Happy Customers” are now doing the marketing for us…
How can companies better listen and understand their customer base?
Try to avoid sending surveys and random questionnaires or asking the customer during a customer service call to give feedback or provide online reviews. Those things do not work, especially when the customer is in between an issue or crisis that is not the time to seek feedback.
Invest to delight the customer, do the unexpected, and then be open to us and provide back inputs that can help us improve. There are multiple ways, mediums, and analytics available to grab these inputs to understand the customers – we should utilize them in today’s world. Try as much as to be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE.
Many companies are currently undergoing digital transformation processes – what are your tips on a successful digital transformation?
My Tip: Do not STOP ever. It is a continuous process. The digital footprint of a company is much like our car or physical health. We need to maintain it well, upgrade them from time to time, do a health check /service maintenance, assess our new requirements and changing environments and keep it up to date.
The companies who are thinking of starting or doing a Digital Transformation as a Big Bang and assume that the modern systems will eventually solve all their issues – well, it will “not” unless as part of your journey you also build the culture of a continues innovation and transformation within the company’s culture, policies, process, budget, revenue models, vision, mission, values, etc.
I honestly believe in the saying by Charles Darwin that: It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change.”
So, the tips are to build adaptable systems, ensure employees keep a “learning on” mode, invest in innovations. Transformation would happen anyways, it’s natural to all of us. Just ensure an environment is provided by us where people can thrive, collaborate, and ex change ideas.
What are some of your tips for people who want to work in the CX sphere?
Empathy. Follow the customers, understand their behaviors, industry – focus on building a relationship, not a pipeline. I agree with the author of the book” Ends Game,” who highlighted – Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value and we will see results.
So many things changed in 2020. While some things are going to return to “normal,” what are contemporary trends and habits you think will stay with us in the long term?
Consumer behavior constantly changes, the year 2020 just put that frequency of this type of change on a rocket fuel and accelerated it 500x. In the past, Pandemics, World Wars have caused these random shifts, and in future, we can expect such global events increasingly. One thing which I believe 2020 gifted us is “Employee Engagement” in organizations. Though we all went remote “physically,” somehow teams came closer mentally, and we shed many barriers.
We used to say the customary “hi” as we meet our colleagues in the pantry over a morning coffee or while settling on our desk. But we connected way more in the remote set up as we spoke casually, maybe on the way to a kid’s doc appointments, or while taking the dog for a walk or signing off early on a long weekend. I am happy that 2020 help us shed a few of our inhibitions. I hope the world’s health and economy recover quickly, but I hope the trend to behave like a “normal” remains as the new normal with us.
eCommerce boomed in 2020, and consumers started leaving more product reviews online. How can we make the most out of this momentum?
Bless Technology, we have easy access to customer sentiments online and they are publicly available. This is much better than when humans wrote their true feelings on a secret personal dairy or recorded them in a tape recorder. Today’s customer has noticeably short attention span, loves transparency, and has ambitious standards on accessibility for products and services.
Online reviews powered by AI & ML capabilities synthesizes information for us, based on these insights, we need to adapt to change quickly else, we lose our customers to competition. Information exchange is bidirectional now – we are no longer putting up a billboard next to a new highway and waiting the travelers will see and buy your services. Companies today have much greater and faster reach to their customers, so we should reach out, seek out and unlock the potential.
What is your favorite CX metric? Why?
I would pick CSAT, but honestly the type of CX metric does not matter, if it is a superior product, it will shine, and if it’s a bad one, all metrics will reflect the same. Choose the one that best works for our case – it also matters how we gather the metrics. Focus on the sample size, dimensions, and coverage as well.
While sending a feedback form or questionnaire to the customer to review or rate the products could be the first step but have, we picked up the phone and tried calling our own company’s customer care? Have we used the products, services, and systems that we have build for our users and tried to understand the experience we are providing?
Have we tried to do a bulk order and checked operationally how long it takes and how many forms, phones calls do the customer has to make to place that order? If we walk the path ourselves, go through the customer journey, and document the feedback, we can better understand these aspects. Ask the employees on improvement ideas, use the focus group to provide a response, run the AI/ML analytics on online reviews, chat messages, etc. If someone is in the business of serving “Customers,” they can themselves figure it out the trend- what works and what does not.