Building a Customer Centric Culture with Annette Pedroza

Building a Customer Centric Culture with Annette Pedroza TW

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by Annette Pedroza to learn about building a customer centric culture. Learn how Annette accomplishes this by listening to the podcast below.

Success Starts with Leadership

Having over 20 years of customer service experience, Annette Pedroza helps companies uncover their CX potential by showing ways in which they can improve their overall customer service techniques as a brand. In doing so, Annette has figured out three of the most impactful methods that make the biggest difference in customer satisfaction. Those three being leadership, assessment, and involvement all help to guide companies to higher NPS scores, better survey results, and long-term customer delight. The first step to having effective, company-wide change is implementing new tactics with those in leadership positions, allowing their example to initiate trickle-down change to other employees. To explain this further, Annette suggests:

I think when employees hear leadership talking about the customer, that’s really important. It’s also when they see leaders modeling customer centric behaviors, when they’ve done something that’s maybe not the most cost effective thing but it’s right by the customer, when they see that, they’re much more likely to follow and be in that same mind frame.

When leaders implement change within their organization and set an example, employees tend to follow suit and positive results are sure to come.

Improving CX Through Company Assessment

Customer engagement should be of the utmost importance when it comes to daily company operations. When Annette is asked to help improve a brand’s CX efforts, she assesses it to create strategies personalized to that brand – tools and tactics that will help enable exemplary customer service. She says:

You’re not going to have one strategy that’s going to fit everyone, but some of the things that I look at specifically are how large is the company that I’m working with? Are their employees open to change? Who are the power players? I think that’s really important, is having a relationship with people within the company who are going to help evangelize the work that you’re doing because other people are following them as well.

One of the biggest keys to profitability is keeping the customers happy. Not only is it important for companies to make money, it is necessary for companies to keep the customer in mind with every part of the company. Aspects such as decision making, marketing, and policies should always keep the customer at the forefront. Using customer data and feedback facilitates necessary change to improve products and services, resulting in happier customers. By assessing internally and adapting as a brand, customers tend to have their needs met resulting in long lasting customer loyalty.

Driving Customer Engagement With Brand Involvement

Annette finds that one of the greatest ways to build a customer centric culture is to become involved with the employees who drive customer success. Setting realistic customer centered goals and holding each other accountable for completion of those goals can also help to build a more customer centric culture. To demonstrate this, Annette tells a story about working with a team of engineers and connecting them with their customers who were using their engineered products. In doing so, they were able to improve product design based on direct customer feedback. Annette says, “Really at the end of the day, the goal was to get everyone thinking in a customer way rather than just doing things the way they always had before.” Aligning a company with its customer centric values and becoming more involved with the internal workings of the brand are crucial to monetary success.

To learn more about the secrets to building a customer centric culture, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Building a Customer Centric Culture | Annette Pedroza

TRANSCRIPT
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
All right, welcome everybody to today’s episode. We’re excited to get going. We’re going to be talking about building a customer centric culture and to do that, we brought on Annette Pedroza. She’s currently a Customer Experience Expert. Annette, thanks so much for joining. How are you?

Annette Pedroza: (00:29)
Hi, Gabe. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Gabe Larsen: (00:31)
Yeah. Yeah. It’s fun. It’s always fun to talk to people like yourself who have a plethora of experiences. Do you mind taking just a minute and tell us just a little about yourself?

Annette Pedroza: (00:41)
Absolutely. So I’ve been a customer experience professional for 20 years. I’ve been primarily in the tech industry. I’ve been at Fortune 100 companies, medium-sized startups. So I’ve kind of done it all and I’ve led from all aspects of strategy and execution. I think what we’re going to talk about today, which is really what’s near and dear to my heart, is instilling and growing a customer centric culture.

Gabe Larsen: (01:07)
Yeah, I loved the talk track and as I mentioned, bringing in years of experience will be great for me and for the audience. So let’s dive in there. Let’s start big picture. You mentioned this customer centric culture. What does that, what does that mean to you?

Annette Pedroza: (01:25)
To me, it means that your customer is at the center of what you do and not just in your words, but in your actions. Does every employee understand what their contribution is to the customer experience? You’ve heard many companies say, “We’re customer centric, we’re all about the customer. Customer’s at the center of everything we do.” And I think, so there’s really a difference between listing that in your values and I think believing it with all your heart, right? And then knowing how to mobilize your company toward customer centricity.

Gabe Larsen: (01:58)
I got to say, Annette. Yeah, that has been for me like the, I love the way you just said that. I just feel like we all know it should be on paper, right? And we all know we can all say the right words. So it’s not like it’s something new. When you talk to somebody, it’s not like somebody who’s like, “Hey, it’s not that we don’t want to be customer centric.” It’s just, how do you do that?

Annette Pedroza: (02:23)
That’s exactly the point, I think, because you can’t just dictate and say, “Hey, everyone starting today we’re customer centric,” and then expect people to know what they’re supposed to do and how they’re supposed to do that. So that’s where I come in.

Gabe Larsen: (02:34)
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that definitely will resonate with the audience as, yeah. The devil’s always in the details, right? It’s like, as I’ve listened to some of the feedback of the audience as I mentioned just a minute ago, they recognize the importance of customer service and delighting and pushing customers to be happier, et cetera. But devil’s in the details. So, how do you set that up? I mean, you’ve obviously had some fun experiences in doing this. How do you start to think about building this kind of a customer centered culture?

Annette Pedroza: (03:08)
Well, I have some strategies that I’ll share with you today and give you a couple of case studies. I think that first of all, when I look at this and I think everywhere I’ve been, I’ve used a different strategy just depending on the company. And I think the one thing that’s consistent is you really just need a strong foundation to start. And I have, I actually have three little tips here for you on how you can build that foundation –

Gabe Larsen: (03:37)
Love it.

Annette Pedroza: (03:37)
So the first thing is you need leadership, assessing and involvement. So you’ve heard before, right? The tagline, it has to come from the top. And it’s true, it really does. I think when employees hear leadership talking about the customer, that’s really important. It’s also when they see leaders modeling customer centric behaviors, when they’ve done something that’s maybe not the most cost effective thing, but it’s right by the customer, when they see that, they’re much more likely to follow and be in that same mind frame.

Gabe Larsen: (04:09)
Yeah. I mean, that is definitely, I don’t want to say cliche, but the, it needs to come from the top down. What do you feel like is the reason it often does it? Is there something that’s the standard hurdle that companies are facing by getting kind of that executive mind?

Annette Pedroza: (04:26)
Well, I think part of it is companies are in business to make money and a lot of times that’s their focus and teaching someone that by focusing on the customer experience, you can really affect your bottom line so much more. It can be really uncomfortable to say, “Okay, we’re actually going to make this shift where the customer is going to be first.” I think I’ve had some experience in having to turn a leader around a little bit, not that they weren’t customer focused, but how do you bring them along to understand that customer experience is the most important thing that you can do for your company? And I think as with any working relationship, you have different strategies that you use to work with different people, but it always comes back to data. Like, “Here’s where we are. Here’s where we want to be. Here are the things that we need to do to get there. And here’s what I think the results will be.” So, let me give you an example of that and it’s something more tangible, I think. For example, our net promoter score is 22 and we’ve done some competitive analysis that says our competitor is at 34, right? And we want to be there, right? And we want to be higher than that competitor. So here are the top issues that we’re tracking that our top customers are having, the complaints that they’re having with our processes or product or whatever it is. And what we do is we can do some analysis to say, “If these things go away, if we make these things better, here is the impact to our NPS score.” And what’s really powerful is if you can say, “We’ve assigned a dollar value to this. So we know that a promoter is worth this much money, and if we can get this many more people from the tractors to pass and the tractors to promoters, then this is the impact to the bottom line.” And what leader is not going to listen to that?

Gabe Larsen: (06:21)
Yeah. I think that last piece is the key, right? It’s just, this space has been notoriously non-revenue focused or non-dollar focused than that last piece. If you can tie your NPS to something that is closer to that dollar, I’m just going to use the word dollars and cents, right? I think that’s where you start to really talk in executives language. And we’ve struggled with that in the past, right? I think a lot of people, they end with, “Well, our NPS went up,” and it’s like, “That’s nice. Did the employee survey go up as well?” Because like, surveys are surveys are surveys, and I don’t mean to mock it but I just, oh I think you nailed something there. We’ve got to get a little better on ROI focus. Okay. So you’ve got one is leadership. What was kind of your next one?

Annette Pedroza: (07:16)
Assessing your specific environment. So you’re not going to have one strategy that’s going to fit everyone, but some of the things that I look at specifically are how large is the company that I’m working with? Are their employees open to change? Who are the power players? I think that’s really important is having a relationship with people within the company who are going to help evangelize the work that you’re doing because other people are following them as well. So making sure that you have that power team. And then I think the third one really is just setting realistic goals, right? To be able to execute on your plan, because you don’t want to put this big plan out there and then it flops because you didn’t necessarily have the bandwidth or the resources or you didn’t get leadership buy-in or you didn’t assess well. But I don’t want you to get discouraged when you think about, “Oh, well leaders, I mean, bandwidth or resources, I don’t have that.” And I say, “Yes, you can,” because even if you’re a team of one, you can start small. I’m going to go through some case studies today, and I can tell you about what I’ve done by myself at a big company, and you can start small and go from there.

Gabe Larsen: (08:26)
Yeah. Yeah, so it’s leadership is a big one. Two is getting that kind of current state assessment and three is more around goal planning and how you measure, manage that, et cetera. Did I get those three, right?

Annette Pedroza: (08:41)
Yeah. That’s, those are the three I’d use as my foundation.

Gabe Larsen: (08:43)
Yeah, perfect. So let’s go into, I’d love to see how these are applied. I know you’ve got some stories, well in your 20 plus years I’m sure you have many stories. But I’d love to hear how you’ve kind of been able to take some of these principles and embed them into an organization or again, got to get this customer centered culture. Any thoughts come to mind on that front?

Annette Pedroza: (09:05)
Yeah. Well, let me tell you about a company that I was with. It’s a medium sized company, about 700 employees, highly valued the customer and their experience. It was even their brand statement about how much they value their customer. But if you asked any one employee how they contributed to the customer experience, they would say, “Oh, customer experience, that’s an operation. Support does that. It’s their job.” And clearly the brand and the culture were not aligned. So my task really was, how do I help them see how they connect to the customer, even if they’re not customer facing? So here’s the task or the specifics that caused this. We had a survey coming in, right? And the survey feedback was such that we were getting feedback that says we’re not so easy to work with. And we hadn’t measured effort before this. And so I said, “Okay, we need to start looking at measuring effort and improving the things that are high effort for the customer.” But at the same time, I’m looking around internally and I’m seeing that we’re not exactly making it easy for each other either, right? For our coworkers. And when I grew up professionally, I’ve always treated my coworkers as my internal customers. I would never hand something over partially done and say, “Oh yeah, spreadsheet’s not, it’s not sorted but you can figure it out,” or, “You’ve got this.” I just wouldn’t do that and I was just seeing a lot of that going on. And I thought, “How can we possibly embark on this journey of making it easy for customers when we’re not making it easy for each other?”

Gabe Larsen: (11:00)
Sorry.

Annette Pedroza: (11:03)
So here we are, this is, again, this is a smaller company. I’m able to launch a company-wide program. I’ve got, leadership buy-in on this. I’ve assessed well, I believe. And the idea was, “Hey, everyone has a customer, whether it’s internal or external. What are you going to do to make it easy for your customer?” And we launched this customer-wide or the company-wide program and we had a kickoff, we had parties at our global sites, we built excitement around it. It was fun. We celebrated success, but also there was accountability involved and we tied it back to their goals. So it really allowed employees who weren’t customer facing to understand the idea of having a customer and making that experience better because if you’re making that experience better for your coworkers and they’re in turn making it better for their coworker. And then pretty soon it’s flowing down the line where the customer is seeing that experience as well. So really the learning here was just creating that, those goals and tying them back to the vision or the brand.

Gabe Larsen: (12:08)
Yeah. And why do organizations on this thing, why do you think they, was there something that kind of enabled you to do this easier? It sounds like you kind of walked through your process in a pretty structured manner, as far as leadership and assessing and getting your goals. Is it, was there, if you had to go back, was there one thing that you felt like made the biggest difference?

Annette Pedroza: (12:33)
I think it was my direct leadership who very much trusted me to roll something like this out and I mean, I think probably I was very fortunate that I didn’t have any pushback on this site. And they said, “Okay, here’s the budget you have to work with, go.” And we really, well because the company was so customer centric in terms of their core value, even though not everyone knew how to do it, I think people really were eager to do that. They really were eager to live that value. And I just had to show them how.

Gabe Larsen: (13:13)
Do you feel like, I mean, I think on each of these steps, and I think that the visual or the story definitely helps kind of put those into the right place. I think on each of them there’s challenges that people often run into, but I’m thinking of the goals one for just a minute. Any tips on kind of double clicking on that step in particular in your story? How do you really come up with the right set of goals and then measure them appropriately? Any tips or tricks there?

Annette Pedroza: (13:44)
Yeah, I think in this, that actually is probably the most difficult part is asking leadership to include something customer related for non-customer facing people to make some goal for them. And so what we did in this case, these weren’t really tight goals, but it was just something for them to achieve. And what it was was I asked every person in the company to make a commitment as to what they were going to do differently. And then those were actually documented visible to everyone and that way we could go back and say, “Okay, here was the goal that you set up earlier this year to say you were going to make this one change in finance, or the way that you provided this feedback to another employee. Did you do it? How did it go?” That kind of thing.

Gabe Larsen: (14:37)
Yeah. I think that’s probably as good as you can take it. That is, that step is not just gets a little foggy sometimes. I think of providing a little bit of that clarity definitely helps.

Annette Pedroza: (14:48)
And really at the end of the day, the goal was to get everyone thinking in a customer way rather than just doing things the way they always had before and saying, “Oh, it lives in Operations.”

Gabe Larsen: (15:01)
Yeah. Yeah. On that last piece, was there a couple of tactical things? Was it team huddles or little marketing materials? Because I do feel like when you create this customer focus initiative and getting some of the organization excited about it and behind it and talking to them about the leadership point, but were there a couple little things you found helpful? Was it just the email communications, but it was at the rally with the managers rallying the troops that kind of got the employees excited? Anything that kind of helped to get the employees around this new way of thinking?

Annette Pedroza: (15:30)
Yeah. Both of those, I would say. So a couple of different things. One, I have a lot of energy around it, so I was excited and then I had hired a new employee who just one of those magnetic people who everyone wanted to be her friend and loved her. And so she was excited about it and telling people about it. And then we certainly had some communications going out coming up to the event, like, “Here’s what we’re going to be doing,” and getting people excited about it. And then not only that, but we had, so this company had a lot of people who worked out of their homes and we actually created mousepads and pens and we had a logo and all these fun things around making it easy. And even people who were at home, everyone got a box with all their goodies in it. So it just was something to get people engaged and excited and it’s something they would see everyday on their desk.

Gabe Larsen: (16:23)
Yeah. I love that. I think sometimes it’s the cell internal is as big as the work externally sometimes. So I like some of those ideas. Okay. So that was one example where you were able to kind of bring these three principles of leadership and assessing and goals together. Have you seen this at other points of your career or in other instances?

Annette Pedroza: (16:44)
Yeah. Yeah, I’ve done this. I mentioned that I did a whole company-wide rollout of one big program, but you can’t always do that. And good example of doing something a little smaller, starting small would be at a large company. I was working for a Fortune 100 company. Over 10,000 employees, very customer centric CEO, who was really excited about the customer experience, measuring the net promoter score. And we had thousands of customers providing feedback every day, thousands a day. And we had this closed loop call back program where I was routing survey verbatims to process owners to call the customer back, whether it’s to repair the relationship, fix something, but it was something within their organization. So if it was about billing, then that went to the billing group. If the customer complained about the website, we made sure that the website team got ahold of that feedback and then they would call the customer. But I had a lot of feedback that was coming in that was general and there wasn’t really anyone to own those. And so what I did was I contacted some VPs of different organizations and just let them know what I was working on. And I really helped them see the connection between our very customer-centric CEO and how their non-customer facing teams could now have a very direct experience with their customer. And so I was welcomed to present at all hands meetings. And I would go in with all of my excitement and passion around this about what’s happening when we talk to customers and here’s what they have to say and here’s how excited they are that we called them. And here’s what we can learn from them. And before you knew it, I had people raising their hands and wanting to participate. And here now you had employees who were, had no direction. I’m sorry, no direct connection to the customer prior to that. And now they had a chance to actually talk directly to a customer and really live that customer centricity value. And I just did this one team at a time. And before you know it, one VP is talking to another VP and then people are knocking at my door saying, “Hey, we want to participate. How do we get to be part of this?” So really just starting small and just growing your sphere of influence and leveraging that leadership to spread your message. The size doesn’t matter. You can influence the company of any size.

Gabe Larsen: (19:08)
Yeah. I think that small, that’s interesting. Because we, on the last one we were talking and it felt like a pretty big rollout, the previous story. And maybe your second story did end up reaching kind of the same number of people or customers. But I like that idea. Sometimes you don’t realize if you can get, and that’s what principal change management. If you can get one team or one group doing something different and other people see it –

Annette Pedroza: (19:35)
Exactly.

Gabe Larsen: (19:35)
Sometimes that, someone was using the word, sometimes you nail it and you scale it. You get one group to do it and then scale it to the rest of the organization. And sometimes that’s a better way to do it than try to go big or go home. Was there any, again, thinking about kind of tactics or tips on that as you got that small group, it sounds like the other VP, the other people just started to more and more or less naturally hear about it. Did you do anything to help them in that cause or was it pretty just kind of quote unquote viral?

Annette Pedroza: (20:08)
Viral is a good word. Yeah, it did. I mean, definitely it grew organically, but I was on it all the time. There was easily times where I would contact the group and I would maybe get, “We’re not sure. We don’t have time right now.” Because of course that’s really a lot of times with a program like this, that’s what you get, right? We’ve got our day jobs to do. We’ve got so much work and I’m saying, “Hey, I’m asking for one call a month for each of the employees to call one customer a month and so-and-so group is doing it and they’re doing a great job.” And being able to highlight some of the wins that we had and what other groups are doing there becomes a little bit of a competition or we want to be recognized too. So that was, I think a very important tactic at this particular company.

Gabe Larsen: (20:56)
Oh yeah. Those are some good principles, right? You make people start to feel it a little bit and all of a sudden they want to be part of the cool crowd. Makes me remember my high school days of not being part of the cool crowd, but wanting to be part of the cool crowd.

Annette Pedroza: (21:14)
Very cool, Gabe.

Gabe Larsen: (21:14)
No, I appreciate it. I appreciate it. I like the real kind of visual examples that you shared. We’d love to hear one more. I know our time is a little short –

Annette Pedroza: (21:26)
Okay.

Gabe Larsen: (21:26)
If that’s okay, I’d love to hear one more. They’re just so interesting to hear kind of the real life examples of how you’ve applied this in different situations. Does one more come to your mind?

Annette Pedroza: (21:37)
Yeah. I can have another one. Here’s another one where we really saw a direct impact of the work that we did on our product satisfaction scores. So I was at a large software company and we were running a product survey and we were getting feedback from customers on these specific products. And then we were handing that feedback over to the product teams. And I’d say that the feedback wasn’t exactly received excitedly. I think a lot of companies see this where you have engineers who just put their heart and soul into this product, right? It’s their baby. They created it. And then you give them feedback and maybe it’s not perfectly positive. And then they’re a little bit defensive. It’s like, “Well, of course I’m developing this with the customer in mind. Look at this beautiful thing I created for them, or they’re using it wrong.” One of the ones that I heard. So what we did really, the idea was let’s implement closed loop, right? Let’s do a callback program and route those verbatims, the customer answered the survey. We’ll route those verbatims. And I want to say here that I think a lot of companies will outsource this work, or maybe they’ll say, “Yeah, we have to talk to these customers who are getting us negative feedback,” and they’ll assign it to say, a customer service team who makes all the calls. And instead, we routed these directly to the product teams. By something right to the engineers about their product and that feedback that they had originally been defensive about completely changed, right? Now, they heard directly from the customer’s mouth to their ears. And it was just something so powerful in that interaction that they could have a discussion with someone about, “Wait, what are you trying to do? Oh, how interesting,” right? And so I was hearing from people who were participating, employees, how eye-opening this was for them because they had no idea that they were trying to use the product in this way or that we’ve made something so confusing but seems so natural for the engineer to do it this way. But for the customer, it was so confusing and this was really just eye-opening for them. And suddenly they were on this new mission of product improvement with the customer at the center and our product satisfaction scores within a few months were really, I mean, we saw significant improvement. And I think it really helps to just give them an awareness of the customer as a real person, versus just here’s some, a pile of feedback that I can give you. So I think that information is really powerful and then getting that feedback directly from the customer was even more so.

Gabe Larsen: (24:10)
And so did you, you actually had them jump on the phone at times or make some of the calls or you just gave them the verbatims you were saying?

Annette Pedroza: (24:17)
No, I gave them the verbatims with the idea that they would call the customer or email the customer and make an appointment and talk to them about it.

Gabe Larsen: (24:25)
Wow. Interesting. Yeah, that’s a kicker, right? It’s the product team. I mean, everybody, we all, as the organizations get bigger, the CEO, the product team, the marketing team, they all start to get a little further away from the customer. And just getting the verbatims, I think to that group is actually a good milestone, but how would they actually interface is awesome. Well, did you run into some roadblocks trying to get them to do that? Were they hesitant at first or were they pretty jazzed about it?

Annette Pedroza: (24:57)
Some were, some were hesitant about it. I think first of all, if you’ve never talked to a customer before and now you’re going to talk to someone live, they’re a little bit nervous about that. So the way that I headed some of that off, first of all, I had a very detailed training program for everyone who was going to talk to a customer all about, I mean, down to here’s how the information is going to come to you. Here’s how you’re going to contact the customer to make an appointment. Here’s a template you can use for that. Here are some things we never say. Here’s some ways that we should respond. If the customer says this, you should try this route. We don’t want to get defensive because this is their feedback and they’re entitled to their feedback, it’s their perception. And the other thing that we did too, is we had some really, people who were just great at this and they were willing to, and I was willing to do the same thing is, “Hey, listen to me do a call before you do your first one. You can listen to me, talk to a customer or I can sit with you while you do your first call and coach you along if you need any help.” And so I think that really helped ease people into it. We made sure that the calls happened in the time zone of the person, if we could make that happen where the customer and the developer were in the same time zone. And we also, the other thing we did was we created teams to do the callback. So when possible, it wasn’t just an engineer. Sometimes there was a product manager on there, sometimes someone from support. And I really liked that because what that gave us is that every person brought their own ear, their own perspective, right? And so they all might’ve heard something different and that just made for a better discussion afterward about is there an initiative here that we need to be working on or updating or canceling in that, because of that feedback?

Gabe Larsen: (26:48)
Yeah, wow. I love how you eliminated a lot of the barriers, right? That’s I think the, to get some other people involved, sometimes you gotta make it simple. That process of kind of, time zones and getting them a script or getting them kind of the structure of the conversation. All of that stuff goes a long way because I think about a lot of the product teams I know. You dumped that in their hands and they’re going to be like, “Oh, we can’t do it. It’s scary.” But I think that’s fantastic. You kind of went that far to actually really make it easy for them. And I think you’ve hit on that a couple of times, how do we make it easy for us, not just the customer? Well, Annette, really appreciate the talk track day. We did cover a lot of information. I’d love to hear kind of your summary. As you think about other success service leaders like yourself, trying to build this customer centric organization, trying to get this nailed down, knowing it’s important, but the devil’s in the detail, what advice would you leave for them or summary, a statement as you’ve talked about some different concepts today?

Annette Pedroza: (27:48)
You know, I think the first and foremost you can do it, even if you start small, you know, just start somewhere, you’d be surprised how quickly a positive change like this to an organization can spread. I think that being able to tie some goal, some employee goal to that customer centric vision, I think that’s just becoming more and more important and really just having your data available. If you’re going to talk to a leader about this, make sure that you’ve got defendable information, this really works everywhere. In all different environments. I’ve used it in multiple business models, B2B, B2C. I’ve been in B2B2C. So it works. And you know, I’ve been in product service companies, consumer goods, and like I said, you assess what you have to work with and start with something.

Gabe Larsen: (28:38)
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s a great summary. So, Annette thanks so much for joining. It’s so fun to have someone who has so much experience and can share real, tangible stories about things that have worked and lessons learned from it. So if someone wants to get in touch with you or learn a little bit more about some of these fun stories, what’s the best way to do that?

Annette Pedroza: (28:57)
Oh, sure. You can reach me on LinkedIn. I looked today. I am the only Annette Pedroza that I could find on LinkedIn. So I should be pretty easy to find, be happy to answer any questions or talk to people.

Gabe Larsen: (29:08)
Awesome. Alrighty. Well, hey. Really appreciate you joining Annette, one more time and for the audience have a fantastic day.

Annette Pedroza: (29:15)
Thanks. You as well, Gabe.

Exit Voice: (29:22)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more Customer Service Secrets.

Speakeasy: A Conversation Among CX Leaders

Speakeasy: A Conversation Among CX Leaders TW

We recently held an exclusive invitation-only online Speakeasy with CX executives in California. These leaders ranged from digitally-focused to family-run organizations, across all sizes and industries. The primary purpose of the event was to engage our Kustomer community to discuss complex topics during these difficult times. The conversations naturally flowed from how their businesses are handling the COVID-19 crisis, to transformation while resources are crunched, and finally their top three strategies for success.

What Is Being Done NOW

An executive began by reciting a quote from their CEO: “don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” And boy did that ring true. A key theme that kept surfacing was the importance of unifying product and CX. It’s critical to get buy-in and support from product and engineering around co-owning the CX goals. For instance, you may set a goal for the amount of CS contacts per thousand transactions, and the product team should take this information into account during development.

Several other executives stated that they had a growth problem during the pandemic. Finding the right resources to help the business scale was an issue. Others stated that their CX issues were a mixture of stagnation and scale, and they were seeking to optimize workflows to minimize the impact of furloughs. Regardless of whether the business was scaling or contracting, everyone agreed that baseline tickets were rising and removing friction between product, engineering and support was critical. A great example of this success was raised during the conversation: “How many times have you issued a support request to Netflix?” Most everyone responded: never.

Transformation While Resources Are Crunched

There is an old technology world competing with a new technology world that is now thriving. Is the old technology still relevant? Many organizations are moving towards modern technology and digital transformation.

One executive stated that they were part of the old school class of folks who thought that CX couldn’t be done from home. And yet, they transitioned their CX team to work from home in a week. Interestingly, the CX leader started the process a few weeks before COVID hit as she had a funny feeling. They configured laptops and had them out to agents who previously did not have access to laptops at all.

Another executive stated that their agents, based in London and Austin, already had laptops to successfully work from home, but 200 agents in the US needed monitors to work from multiple screens. Employees came back to the office for basic accessories like chords and power plugs. There was some hesitation about voice quality or even security using home computers, but that went away after the first week. The pandemic accelerated their business continuity plan and now challenges occur more due to kids, school and scheduling.

Many companies saw a surge in volume, so job enrichment and training had to be put on the backburner. They needed more people or more resources to get the job done. However, work from home presented some challenges around measuring metrics and understanding who can sustain remote work and who may not be up to par.

One executive stated, “I think there were people getting away with it at the office and the home office is not conducive to working. Kids are maybe getting in the way. Some folks are struggling and may not be candidates for working from home.”

Luckily, many individuals think technology can help. The CEO of one organization used to work at stodgy banks, and he doesn’t want that for his current company — he wants to be different. He wants to adopt AI and transform into a modern financial institution. Other executives stated that their companies were not as forward-looking on AI, and convincing management could often be a challenge.

Moving the Customer Experience Dial

A CX executive began the conversation by stating that moving the needle 1% is a good thing, and focusing on one single metric that does so could lead to success. In his case, it was support cost as a percentage of revenue. This metric scales because it is clear to everyone.

“If you double the revenue, you can double support costs,” he said. This metric sets a north star and ties every team back to the results. The CX group doesn’t own the code, the product or messaging, but once you touch the customer, you can take what the customer is saying back to the other departments. If a customer tells you a problem, it’s your job to take that problem to the business, and potentially increase revenue as a result.

Organic growth occurs when there is no friction. Look at a disruptive company like Netflix. You never contact Netflix support, and you don’t have friction. Everything slows down if you don’t eliminate friction.

Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

It was overwhelmingly agreed that baseline tickets were rising and that it was important to remove friction between product, engineering and support. In a recent report by Kustomer, How the Pandemic is Affecting Customer Service Organizations, the data mirrors the conversations at the Speakeasy. Our study found that 79% of customer service teams have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, while only 1% reported no change at all. Of the customer service representatives surveyed, 48% observed longer wait times for their customers, 39% reported a lack of resources and 64% said they needed greater efficiencies. According to reports, inquiries are up across phone, email, web and social media channels.

In order to address this, Brad Birnbaum, Kustomer CEO, recommends leveraging technology that can “automate low level support with the help of AI.” This allows a greater number of customers to be served immediately, while freeing up agents to deal with more-complex issues — and 57% of respondents said they were seeing more of these than normal.

To reiterate a comment from one of our CX leaders, “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”

Your Top Ten Takeaways
1. Do a better job of capturing feedback and delivering to the product team
2. Build a strong product team for better customer experience
3. Reduce CX costs by 50% under the notion of do no harm to the business
4. Offer personal value-based services
5. Innovate support solutions like an effortless experience
6. Improve the bottom line AND customer satisfaction
7. Improve knowledge of the product and industry across the company
8. Hire people with industry-specific knowledge
9. Implement self-service as customers want to serve themselves
10. Use all the data you have to make support an effortless experience

 

Everything CX Leaders Need to Know About Customer Satisfaction Metrics

woman on phone

Customer service leaders have a lot of data to track and interpret, with customer service satisfaction metrics as some of the most important. But these satisfaction metrics aren’t just for evaluating the efficacy of support agents. They also correlate strongly to customer loyalty and can help inform business decisions across various departments.

We’re covering some of the most frequently asked questions our CX team receives about the most valuable customer satisfaction metrics and the best customer service measurement methods. Use this guide as a quick reference point when measuring and tracking customer satisfaction.

Why Is Customer Satisfaction Important?

The core reasons to prioritize customer satisfaction are customer loyalty, customer lifetime value and word-of-mouth brand promotion.

However, customer satisfaction can also be correlated to agent satisfaction (ASAT); when one side’s satisfaction levels improve, so do the other’s. Higher agent happiness supports improved performance, employee retention and decreased business and recruiting costs.

What Are the Benefits of Monitoring Customer Satisfaction?

As we’ve established, delivering a great customer experience makes good business sense from all angles. Measuring customer service satisfaction metrics allows you to find out whether or not you’re actually delivering exceptional CX.

You can identify what you’re already doing well and stick to those strategies. And, you can discover new pain points and areas that need improvement. With a data-driven customer service strategy in place, teams across your company will be empowered to formulate the best customer journey possible.

How Do You Measure Customer Service Performance and Success?

Finding the right customer satisfaction measurement system requires setting clear and actionable goals. When choosing metrics for measuring customer service and developing customer satisfaction survey questions, make sure these are aligned with higher-level objectives.

For instance, do you primarily want to track brand loyalty, improve case resolution time or monitor agent effectiveness? You’ll use different parameters to measure customer satisfaction than you would use to track agent performance.

If you’re seeking a 360-degree view of the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of your customer support, you might want to combine operational metrics with customer experience metrics for a more well-rounded perspective.

What Types of Metrics Measure Customer Satisfaction?

Here are the top four customer service satisfaction metrics to measure client satisfaction:

  1. Net promoter score (NPS)
  2. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) score
  3. Customer effort score (CES)
  4. Sentiment analysis

In essence, a quick customer metrics definition would be that NPS is a measure of loyalty, CES is a measure of effort, CSAT is a measure of satisfaction and sentiment analysis is a measure of emotion. Let’s take a closer look at each of these customer service satisfaction metrics.

What Is NPS?

Net promoter score is a calculation of the percentage of a company’s true advocates, and one of a surprisingly versatile customer satisfaction level measurement.

When asked a question such as, “How likely are you to recommend our brand to a friend or colleague?” and prompted to respond on a 10-point Likert scale (with 10 being “highly likely”), advocates are the customers who respond with nine or 10. Detractors are those who respond with a score from zero to six.

NPS is helpful in identifying strong brand advocates, but it also identifies those who are reporting a negative CX. If a customer leaves a low response, it’s good practice to reach out to find out where things went wrong and to offer proactive support.

Armed with more specific knowledge about why a customer gave a certain rating, customer service agents can directly address those issues, thereby potentially improving CX for all customers.

What Is CSAT Score?

Customer satisfaction score is one of the most insightful and specific customer satisfaction survey metrics. It’s used to measure an individual customer’s feelings about a specific interaction with your support team. Again, CSAT is measured through a Likert scale question.

“One of the benefits of CSAT surveys is that you can gather feedback from customers immediately after an interaction with your team,” explains Kustomer’s Senior Product Manager John Merse. “This helps you better understand customers’ experiences in real time. You can segment the results by agent, team and — most importantly — channel.”

For the most accurate assessment of customer satisfaction, you’ll need to measure CSAT across different channels and review the results collectively.

“In a true omnichannel environment it’s important to understand that each channel is unique and requires a specific communication style,” Merse adds. “For example, while you may have a 90%-plus satisfaction via email, if you are not tracking chat or SMS, you might find that your communication is not as effective and your overall customer satisfaction is not as high as you think.”

If you’re wondering what a good CSAT score is, check out this list of benchmarks segmented by industry from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

What Is CES?

Customer effort score is a customer service metric that provides deeper insights into CX during a support interaction.

“You can essentially think of CES as tracking the effort a customer puts into using your product or service,” Merse says. “The more effort that is needed over time will likely erode their loyalty.”

A CES survey might ask to what extent a customer agrees with a statement like, “This company made it easy for me to handle my issue.” This score helps measure the overall effectiveness of support.

Gartner, which developed the CES metric, reports that customer effort is the most significant factor in a customer’s loyalty or disloyalty. Monitoring CES can help CX leaders uncover and remedy high-effort pain points in customer interactions for more frictionless support.

What Is Sentiment Analysis?

Sentiment analysis — also known as opinion mining — is the process of determining whether a customer’s language reflects positive, negative or neutral sentiment. Using natural language processing capabilities, CX professionals can gain automated insights into the emotions driving customer interactions.

Sentiment scores assign a numeric value to the message, conversation and customer. Reports based on sentiment changes or themes related to positive or negative sentiment can help you better understand your customers and the service they’re experiencing.

Can I Use CES in Combination With Sentiment, CSAT or NPS?

Absolutely! By combining customer service satisfaction metrics, you can access a more complete understanding of the customer support experience. For instance, although a CES score tells you effort level, it doesn’t get to the why of the customer’s response or how they feel overall about your brand. For that, you need additional customer service satisfaction metrics.

What are some strategies for improving customer satisfaction?

Here are six strategies that can have a huge payoff on CX and customer satisfaction rates:

  1. Utilize best-in-class customer service as a brand differentiator. Many customer-first brands and category disruptors have already done this, but it’s never too late for change at your own organization.
  2. Segment your satisfaction scores by demographics, products and support channels to uncover underlying problems in specific areas.
  3. Reinvest in your customer support team with new, customer-oriented skills and training programs.
  4. Deliver proactive support to minimize negative CX. This could involve sending notifications about shipping delays, getting ahead of negative reviews with offers or product exchanges and similar strategies.
  5. Provide customers with easily navigable self-service content. A strong knowledge base or FAQ section helps customers resolve basic issues on their own.
  6. Evaluate whether your customer service technology is truly empowering your agents to deliver exceptional quality. Have high expectations for your technology partners and find software solutions that support a unified omnichannel experience.

Got more questions about measuring and interpreting customer satisfaction metrics? Connect with a CX expert at Kustomer.
 

The Customer Experience Summit Is Coming Soon

The Customer Experience Summit Is Coming Soon TW

Things have changed. We all understand that. Customer service and customer experience organizations are not operating like they were just one month ago. Teams are not simply thinking about great customer service anymore, they are thinking about working remotely, doing more with less, and building customer loyalty more so than ever before.

With all of these problems, we know that the desire to come together as a community to learn has not changed. Now more than ever, we need to share our knowledge and figure out how to adapt to our new realities. Just because we can’t travel, and many of us are working from home, doesn’t mean we can’t learn and grow in our professions. It doesn’t mean we can’t hear from amazing speakers and learn from each other on how to take our customer experience organizations to new heights.

So instead of just worrying about what this new reality means to our net promoter score, we decided to do something about it. Kustomer is partnering with Tethr, and the Challenger Inc. to bring together organizations like Thankful.ai, Convey, StellaConnect, ExecVision, Ada, Aircall, Fullstory, Worthix, Simplr, Guru, Lessonly, Gallup, Vengresso, Stream and many more to host an amazing one-day virtual event.

The Customer Experience Virtual Summit gives attendees the opportunity to come together and learn from each other, as well as some of the most influential thought leaders in the world. And the best part is, we’re bringing the conference to you — wherever you may be in the world.

Join us on May 6th as leaders from across the customer experience and customer service community bring in-depth sessions on topics that you care about most.

Register Now

 

Starting a Revolution: The Launch of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast

Starting a Revolution: The Launch of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast Twitter

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Three years ago, I wanted to start a podcast so…I did. A mentor of mine, Ken Krogue, told me that if I was going to do it, I needed to be consistent. I’m not sure he thought I’d take his advice but after three years we recorded more than 250 episodes and had nearly 20,000 subscribers. It was a blast and we want to do it again, but this time the focus will shift from the sales experience to the entire customer experience.

This isn’t just another podcast, it’s a podcast focused on customer service secrets. Customer service is broken and you and I both know it. Why? Think about the last time you were surprised by the service a brand provided to you. Can you remember? If you can, it’s probably only happened once or twice in your lifetime and that’s exactly the problem. We as consumers are WOWed by customer service so infrequently that it is a shock when it happens.

I had a friend tell me the other day that he had booked a dinner reservation for his son and when they got there the restaurant immediately welcomed them with birthday wishes and he was…shocked! I was happy for him and I could tell, as he spoke, that he was generally impressed. But, as I thought more about it, I couldn’t help but think, really? He made a reservation for his kid’s birthday and the restaurant acknowledged it? Is that how desperate we are for great customer service? Sadly the answer is yes and it’s got to stop.

The brands that are winning are ones that create memorable and personal experiences with their customers. The phrase “customer obsession” gets thrown around constantly, but it doesn’t quite get to the bottom of how we should be treating our customers, only that we should be obsessing over them. “Customer care” gets more quickly and directly down to brass tacks. When we really, truly care about our customers, and build a company culture that supports this care, we’re able to become leaders and disruptors.

And what do our customers care about in 2020? They no longer want to be treated like a transaction or a ticket. They want to feel like a valued part of the brand, and often choose where to shop because they identify with a brand and believe in their mission and values. Being able to deliver on a brand promise, before, during and after a transaction, naturally leads to a community of advocates. Customer service can be your most powerful tool, building up lifelong fans that go out and market your business for free, or your quickest downfall. The choice is yours.

The Customer Service podcast will launch in the next two weeks and each week a new episode will come out on Thursday’s at 6 AM ET. It will focus on helping leaders transform their customer service, with practical information from thought leaders and practitioners who will share their secrets to delivering exceptional customer service.

We need a new type of customer experience and this podcast will help facilitate it. We want to help build modern CX leaders instead of traditional ones.

  • Modern CX leaders are waging war against transitional thinking and they are winning left and right.
  • Modern CX leaders are turning their service centers into profit centers while traditional leaders are focusing on cutting costs.
  • Modern leaders are asking for forgiveness as they break barriers while traditional leaders are still looking for permission to be great.
  • Modern leaders are doers not talkers.
  • Modern leaders test everything with data while traditional leaders are still guessing.
  • Modern leaders have a playbook, while traditional leaders simply throw hail marys and hope to get lucky.
  • Modern leaders do whatever it takes to win, while traditional leaders are doing their best.
  • Modern leaders are changing the world and traditional leaders are simply trying to change their pay.

If this sounds like you, get ready to join us as we help revolutionize the customer experience!

Here’s a quick preview:

Listen to “What is the Customer Service Secrets Podcast?” on Spreaker.

Listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

 

23 Customer Service Trends Every Service Leader Must Know About

23 Customer Service Trends Twitter

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Every year new buzzwords and trends are introduced into the customer service space. Some are just ‘words’ while others are impactful trends that can really change a business for the better. How do you know which trends are most important and which ones to ignore? It’s not easy, so we decided to help you out and identify the 23 trends every customer service leader should be aware of to effectively run their business in 2020.

1. The Power of Prioritization

People want to feel special and brands continue to find ways to make that happen. One popular method in 2020 will be using the power of prioritization to route certain customers to specific reps, ensuring a seamless and special experience.

2. Voice Search Pops up on the Customer Service Radar

According to a study by PWC, 65% of consumers aged 25-49 talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. This trend is catching the attention of customer-centric organizations as they struggle to determine how voice search will or should impact their organizations. Little action will happen for this in 2020, but a lot of talk and discussion will.

3. Omnichannel Becomes Obvious

Consumers care less and less about the idea of omnichannel. They just want to be able to focus on getting ahold of a company no matter the channel and no matter the time of day. This means organizations have to look at omnichannel experiences as table stakes, since its no longer acceptable to deliver a disjointed and inconvenient communication strategy.

4. Reps Will Focus on the Customer, Not Finding the Customer’s Information

This crap has to stop. A recent report noted that customer service reps spend 25% of their time looking for information about the customer. Are we really doing this? I know the answer is yes, but it shouldn’t be. It’s time to empower our reps to spend time solving problems rather than trying to figure out who the customer is and where to find their information. Look for this to change in a big way in 2020.

5. Self-Service Becomes an Expected Approach

You knew this one was coming, so don’t act too surprised. Gartner studies say that only 9% of customers report solving their issues completely via self-service. That number isn’t going to cut it anymore and leaders know it. My advice: don’t get behind this trend, get ahead before you get left behind.

6. #SocialService Becomes a Must

You might be familiar with social media playing a role in customer service, but in 2020 expect that trend to get much bigger. Social media channels like Instagram will lead the way, adding new and more convenient ways for customers to interact with agents on the channels where they spend the most time.

7. A Focus on a Customer-Centric Organization

People have been talking about customer service for ages, but now it’s not just about talking the talk, it’s about walking the walk. What does that mean? It means organizations don’t just have a pricing strategy, product strategy, sales strategy, or a go-to-market strategy. They will also have a formal customer strategy at the center of their organizations.

8. The Acceleration of the Scalable Service Department

Many businesses struggle to scale their teams based on seasonality and look for outside help to do so. In 2020, the remote rep will continue to grow in popularity as companies find this to be a viable solution to their scalability requirements.

9. Bigger Customer Service Budgets

You heard me right. Customer service organizations will continue to have bigger budgets. In fact, Gartner reported that worldwide spending on customer experience software grew 15.6% to reach 48.2 billion in 2018, and I don’t see that trend slowing down anytime soon.

10. Customer Service Goes Outbound

Inbound customer service has been the norm for a long time, but things are changing with companies looking to go “outbound” to customers in a major way. Rather than relying on internal teams to send communications, reps and customer service teams will be empowered to proactively push out notifications and communications to individuals and groups through any channel.

11. Contact Center Turnover Continues to Be a Problem

A recent report stated that contact center turnover is between 30% and 35%. This trend is not likely to change, with most companies failing to crack the code on retention issues. Until companies start looking at this through the lens of the customer, they’ll continue to fail. Employee engagement and customer engagement need to be managed together, and then, and only then, will companies start to crack the code on employee turnover.

12. The Customer Experience Rises in Priority as a Marketing Strategy

Marketing and customer experience are both important functions, but if you don’t manage them together you lose powerful synergy. In 2020, more organizations will recognize the power of bringing these two functions together as more CMOs incorporate customer experience into their overall strategy, especially for B2C brands.

13. Companies Find Ways to Lower Cost Per Channel

According to the 2019 Gartner Customer Service and Support Leader Poll, live channels such as phone, live chat and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact. That’s a lot! In 2020, companies will continue to master omnichannel and find ways to lower their cost per contact on these different channels.

14. Deflecting Will Be Part of Every Team’s Strategic Plan

If you haven’t heard the word “deflecting” yet it’s either because you’re not in customer service or you haven’t been paying attention to all the buzz. Deflecting is the idea of routing some of the tedious work of reps to self-service channels where customers can find the answers themselves rather than talk to an agent. This is a conversation every customer service organization will have in 2020, so if you haven’t started, now is the time.

15. The Phone is Not Dead

The phone is still the most popular channel for getting issues resolved, and it’s not going away anytime soon. That doesn’t mean other channels will not play a role in customer service. It just means abandoning the phone would be a really poor business strategy.

16. The Instant Gratification Revolution

You thought customers wanted speed before, wait and see how 2020 plays out. Customers are not just demanding quicker service, in some cases they are revolting if they don’t get it. Speed has and will continue to play a bigger and bigger role in customer service.

17. Chat Begins to Overtake E-Mail as the Number Two Channel for Customer Service

According to a Gartner study, phone still dominates for issue resolution, but chat officially passed e-mail for the second spot. Watch this trend continue as chat provides a more personal and real-time resolution option for customers.

18. Personalization Becomes Even More Personal

Personalization is an obvious trend that most companies are trying to master. But in 2020, watch for this trend to take on even more meaning as companies push the limits of personalization by not just personalizing the service experience, but also the product experience.

19. AI Isn’t Taking Over the World, but It Will Be Part of Every Customer Service Team

AI is still more buzzword than reality, but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. In fact, the opposite is true. Customer service leaders need to start looking for ways to use AI to streamline their operations and make the customer experience better if they want to stay ahead of this important trend.

20. Video Support Becomes a Reality

This one is scary for a lot of people who don’t want to, or who don’t like to, get in front of the camera. We’re so used to hiding behind phones and computer screens, this may be a harder trend than most to adopt. Seventy eight percent of consumers expect online and in-store retailers to treat them the same according to a recent Kustomer survey. With this statistic, video becomes a very important tool and companies will find a way to start building video into their customer experience.

21. Convenience Becomes the Number One Factor for Customer Experience

Matt Dixon is still right. The amount of effort a customer has to exert directly impacts their overall experience. That idea was written in the famous book “Effortless Experience” years ago, but the idea is not going away. It’s actually getting bigger. Customers want convenience, or this “effortless experience” more than anything else, which will force organizations to simplify their processes and look for ways to make it easy for customers to do business with them.

22. The Mobile Experience

According to Stat Counter, desktop usage is declining while 52% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile. If you really want to be customer-centric, you have to figure out how to provide great customer experiences through mobile.

23. Bots and Humans Partner to Deliver Great Service

Bots don’t have to work alone, and neither do humans. Look for brands in 2020 to bring the bot and the human together through interactive ways that ultimately drive efficiency.

Find out what else customer service leaders should be aware of in our buyer’s guide.

Download Buyers Guide

 

This content was featured in one of our latest podcasts.

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Listen to “23 Customer Service Trends Every CS Leader Must Know” on Spreaker.

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Kustomer Talks Exceptional Customer Service at CCO

CCO 2020 Atlanta Twitter

Customer experience leaders are coming together next week in Atlanta to learn and network with peers, and understand trends and best practices in their field. It’s Chief Customer Officers, USA 2020, and Kustomer will be there to deliver the keynote on how technology can enable omnichannel, personalized customer service.

Placing the customer at the center of any organization has never been more important. Competition is high and customer patience is low, and according to a recent Kustomer survey, 78% of consumers would not shop with a retailer again after a bad customer service experience.

CCO, USA will see customer experience professionals come together to understand how to utilize the latest technology, what strategies can prompt organizational changes, and how to professionally develop your staff. It’s an opportunity to debate, discuss and learn, with some of the leading minds in customer service today. What better way to start the year?

Be sure to join Kustomer SVP of Sales & CX, Vikas Bhambri, as he discusses how technology can help deliver on customers’ growing expectations in 2020. The consumer of today expects seamless, personalized service on every platform, instantaneously. Bhambri will explore the importance of a 360 degree view of the customer, how technology can help deliver a personalized experience, and how today’s leading organizations are achieving this mandate. Join us at The Westin Peachtree Plaza Atlanta on Thursday, February 6th at 11:30am.

If you can’t make it to CCO 2020 in Atlanta, but still want to chat about how Kustomer can help you reimagine customer service, contact us anytime.

 

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