Next Generation Customer Experience (NGCX) Recap

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We wanted to share highlights from the best sessions in case you missed this event! We’ll be following this summary with a series of posts on the key trends and topics.

Just Have Fun With It! Surprising and Engaging Customers With Your Brand’s Unique Voice (Panel)

Our CEO, Mahesh Ram, spoke on this panel along with customer experience leaders from  Marriott, MeUndies, Tuft & Needle, and Authentic CX. What all of these companies had in common was the belief  that customer experience and effective brand storytelling are key differentiators in building customer loyalty. In this session, they addressed the question of how to  build emotional connections and how to maintain genuine relationships with your customers at scale.

The panelists touched on shifting demands of customers and the rising customer expectations that go beyond  the products or services. Customers want to know and understand the brand’s unique voice and what the brand stands for. In a digital-first world where costs of switching are low, experience is where companies have the ability to build brand advocacy, passion, and loyalty. For example, REI is known for its focus on outdoor adventure and conservation efforts. On Black Friday, REI shuts down its stores to encourage people to #optoutside and spend the day outdoors. REI also donates millions of dollars to support conservation efforts globally. REI customers are passionate about REI’s mission and strong advocates of the company.

Focusing on customers is not just good for customers, but good for business and creates lasting revenue impact with repeat customers who become brand ambassadors.  

Can You Hear Me Now? Strengthening Your VoC Program (Panel)

Creating a direct line of communication with customers informs the team how you’re doing today and where you need to get to tomorrow to keep customers satisfied. This panel covered how changes to your customer experience are only as good as the insights you receive and the importance of listening to all types of feedback.

CX leaders from companies such as Johns Hopkins Hospital, AARP, Cars.com, and Goodyear discussed the importance of having an omnichannel view of customer feedback–are you asking customers how you did at all touchpoints and interactions? Do you have comprehensive business reporting to consolidate all this data and effectively draw insights? One challenge raised from the audience was how to manage the volume of feedback for teams with limited resources. Panelists suggested investing in 3rd party tools that help build category models instead of trying to do it manually.

To get a realistic VoC, Goodyear’s Marketing Innovation Group seeks to understand “what’s beyond the tire?”. They gather data from end users, trend surveys, ethnographic research, and keeping up to date on hot topics in the automotive space (i.e. electric & autonomous vehicles)–creating a holistic view of customer feedback on their business and the industry.

We have no shortage of data, but what’s important is harnessing it in to give us an accurate view of the customer experience to influence our strategies.

Next Gen Customer Service – Implementing AI for Customer Facing Interactions (Roundtable Discussion)

Our CEO, Mahesh Ram, led a roundtable discussion on implementing AI for customer facing interactions and how businesses of any size should consider in their approach to machine learning for customer experience.

A Gartner report states that 59% of organizations are still in the knowledge gathering stage of implementing machine learning. Part of this stage is understanding if you should buy or build. When thinking about implementing machine learning and automation to your customer service flow, there’s surrounding infrastructure that needs to support Data Collection, Feature Extraction, Analysis Tools, Serving Infrastructure that are complex to build and maintain.

Keep in mind that you should build when it helps maintain a competitive advantage. For example, if you’re Quicken Loans and your mortgage bot is proprietary and a differentiator, building makes business sense. Build when no vendors can meet your requirements and you have a team in place for ongoing maintenance. Ask yourself, will this team be up to date on latest breakthroughs in machine learning and be able to maintain our system?

Buy when you have limited resources and the project is not absolutely central to your business mission, so your team can focus on your core business. When evaluating solutions, remember to ask for references so that you aren’t a vendor’s ‘guinea pig.’

We’ll be sharing an in-depth “How-To Guide” based on this session soon!

Let’s Get on the Same Page- How to Match CX Initiatives With Company Wide Goals (Speaker Session)

As a customer experience leader, how do you align your initiatives to company goals and advocate for C-Suite approval for these initiatives? Ernie Garcia, CEO of Carvana, shared his perspective on the importance of customer centricity to his business. Carvana is an online platform that enables users to trade, finance, buy, and sell used cars.

Ernie covered the difficult trade-offs companies make between customer experience and monetization as a company scales and the increased need to be purposeful with CX as the company grows. Start-up companies are out-resourced, and it’s necessary to be focused on customer experience–many start-up ideas begin from a founder’s poor experience with a product or industry . At Carvana, they sought to address why friction exists in car sales and if it’s the product or the experience that can be re-imagined. Carvana was built on the belief that the car purchasing experience can be dramatically improved and has led them to be a successful public company.  

He also emphasized the importance of diversity and the value of different perspectives. Hiring is the key first step and you don’t want to build for people just like you. Diversity is critical to your understanding of your customers and their different  points of view. To acquire more customers, companies need to acquire diverse perspectives internally to truly understand their customers.

Expect Resistance! Successful Product Designers Need to Be Great Influencers (Speaker Session)

Jonathan Mann, Senior Director of User Experience Design at Target, discussed the product designer’s role — not just in the craft of design, but in influencing a variety of stakeholders to get beautifully designed products to customers.

He began with a Zen story about resistance that we’ll share as part of our NGCX series. In all roles, we face resistance and have a choice to 1) go head-to-head with resistance which can be exhausting for all parties, 2) avoid resistance and go around the source of resistance which doesn’t address the underlying issue, or 3) learn to build relationships to overcome resistance as a collective team.

Jonathan also highlighted the role of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos in creating convincing and effective arguments. Logos (data & reasoning) and Ethos (credibility & authenticity) often come more natural in discussions and presentations, but it’s equally, if not more, important to focus on Pathos–the emotional connection and ability to bring out empathy among your stakeholders.

From the Trenches: How to Run a Successful, Pain-Free CX program That Actually Moves The Needle (Speaker Session)

There’s a lot of buzz around customer experience, but how do you design surveys to concretely see what is working and measure your impact on the bottom line?

Christine Rimer, VP of Product Marketing and Voice of Customer at Survey Monkey, shared that people-powered data is what demonstrates your impact. Big Data tells you what, but talking to customers tells you why.

NPS is a leading indicator of retention and loyalty, and Christine stressed the importance of comparing your score over time, comparing to peers, and comparing to competitors. In a Bain report, the NPS leader of a category outgrows their competitor by 2x. Promoters have 3-8x the lifetime value than detractors.

Her tips on designing great NPS Surveys:

  1. Be thoughtful about how you collect information – What’s specific to your business that you need to understand or segment by?
  2. Ask questions that will elect actionable insights – What are the follow-up questions that matter to your business that you need to ask?
  3. Robust analytics takes you from insights to action, faster – Do you have a system in place to make sense of your data quickly?
  4. Amplify – Are you leveraging customer feedback to create authentic customer stories to share?

We’ll be discussing more on the value of NPS surveys and best practices for your business.

Achieving Omnichannel Success (Speaker Session)

Customers are the foundation of your business, and customer experience is becoming as important as your product or service. WIth this shift to customer experience, the role of support is changing. Increasing ticket volume and changes in the technology landscape are putting more pressure on support organizations and customers expect more and value speed and convenience.

Astha Malik, VP of Platform & Product Marketing at Zendesk, discussed customer expecting always-on support where convenient for them. Companies that focus on delivering great experiences are raising the bar since customers want a seamless customer experience across all products. Part of creating a seamless customer experience is, proactive engagement. Proactive engagement ensures that you’re setting your customers up for success before they raise their hand. In the long term, this will translate to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and dollar impact on the business.

Why is having an omnichannel support experience important? In Zendesk’s study, 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless customer experience and 81% of consumers are likely to defect to another brand as a result of poor customer service.  Having a great customer service is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s table stakes to stay competitive and continue to grow.

In Summary:

We consistently heard about the importance of customer service automation, value of customer feedback, understanding the customer journey, measuring the success of CX initiatives, and addressing rising customer expectations. We’ll be diving deeper into these topics in our NGCX Series.