CX Imperatives with Wendi Sturgis

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen is joined by CEO and longtime customer advocate, Wendi Sturgis. Wendi has years of experience in CX and in leadership positions and she shares some of the secrets for how to make your company stand out. Listen to the full podcast episode below to learn more.

Winning Over the C-Suite

How can a company really win if the C-Suite isn’t on board with the CX team? Truth be told, it can’t win in that case. Gaining the favor of members in the C-Suite is key to building a strong, customer-minded culture. When CX has the backing of the C-Suite, it creates a company culture that keeps the customer in mind through every business decision, no matter how big or small. One way leaders can win this backing is through sharing customer success stories with the higher ups, which adds value to your CX team’s efforts. “I cannot emphasize this enough, every opportunity you have as a leader in the internal communications, tell customer stories. Every single time.” Doing so can really transform the C-Suite into a customer-minded suite, further opening the door for internal collaborations and building a customer-centric brand. Aligning other departments like engineering, new products, sales, and finance with CX is also a great way to build customer advocacy when presenting to the C-Suite. When those board members see your passion as a CX leader for the customer and the brand as a whole, you’re more likely to get their approval.

Being Culturally Sensitive for Global Success

In an effort to keep up with the modern customer, many companies are considering going global but struggle to expand on such a broad scale. Wendi has a plethora of stories and great advice for companies making their mark across the globe but most importantly, she emphasizes that leaders need to be sensitive to the work cultures of other countries. For example, “In Germany, it’s illegal to ask workers to work on a Sunday. Saudi Arabia, you have to work on Sunday.” In their early expansion stages, Wendi notes that her American teams weren’t quite grasping cultural differences and it created a rift between brand and customer. To eliminate this problem, Wendi suggests hiring talent in other countries who understand the cultural norms and can help create a seamless transition, a solution that worked for her.

Is the Customer in Your DNA?

Intense as it may seem, Wendi believes that as a leader, the customer should be part of your DNA. They need to be at the forefront of every business decision and policy made within the company. For many CX leaders this can be daunting, especially when trying to manage so many different aspects of the company from winning the C-Suite to contributing to a customer culture. Wendi’s secret to success in this aspect is performing NPS every single month, which comes with many benefits. Not only does it give up to date scores for how customers view their interactions with the brand, but it also gives current and authentic feedback for new product launches. This is just another way you can be a hero for your customers. “You have to understand that you’ve got an incredible mouthpiece and a megaphone because we wake up every day being passionate about our customers.” Creating a customer-centric culture and keeping them in the company DNA is a sure way to have long term success.

To learn more about transforming CX and making your mark, 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:

Tomorrow’s Customer Experience Starts Here with Brad Birnbaum

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

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Hi, welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re going to be talking about CX transformation from a CEO perspective. Not every day, you get the CEO perspective and to do that, we brought on Wendi Sturgis, New York tech scene, for the last 25 years. Most recently, the CEO at Yext. Wendi, thanks so much for joining. How are you?

Wendi Sturgis: (00:32)
I’m awesome. Yeah. I just don’t want to take Howard’s role away from him. So I was in Europe. So I can also bring an amazing global view, which we might even want to take a few minutes and talk about CX, how you think about a transformation globally, because there are differences.

Gabe Larsen: (00:50)
I think we got to do it. Let’s start with the big picture. I wanted to just hear, oftentimes, a big question on a CX leader’s mind, is how do they work best with their CEO or senior leadership? You’ve got CX people talking about NPS and the voice of the customer, CEOs talking about bottom and top line. What recommendations do you have for CX leaders really trying to work effectively with their senior leadership?

Wendi Sturgis: (01:13)
Yeah, and I mean, we have this conversation so much and I also was the Chief Customer Officer of Yext. I ran the support functions, all of the customer facing functions. So it gives me a unique perspective because I had to sell it, sell it to my board. And then also think about as a CEO of Europe, with the team that was reporting to me and these kinds of things they wanted to do. So listen, and this is a piece of advice that I have for everybody, whatever your functional area, the more you can get educated on how business works, I encourage people. I always ask people, what’s your source of getting business news? And they always kind of look at me and I say, I personally think you need to read the New York Times business section or the Wall Street Journal or CNBC.

Wendi Sturgis: (01:55)
And I’m really surprised how many times people are like, “Well, I get up and I watch Good Morning America.” I’m like, “Well, that’s cool. But I don’t think that’s going to help your career.” I mean, that’s what you need. And so why I bring that up, Gabe, is because you’ve got to position your CX into the bigger corporate lens of how a C-suite thinks. And I think if you don’t have the complete understanding, trying to understand business, and so I would say, I’m sure your company has annual process planning or like Salesforce, V2moms or whatever, it’s like anything and as we in sales have to do, we’ve got to attach and understand what are those key priorities for the company and that the CEO is committed to the board? And you’ve got to know those and if you can’t tell a story about how your CX initiatives are going to help that CEO and the C-suite deliver against those goals for the board, you’re already up against a huge battle, right?

Wendi Sturgis: (02:51)
It’s just 101. And I know that everyone probably knows it, but here’s where I think it gets different. By sitting down and asking and saying, “I’m now going to come back to you with not only this year’s roadmap, but let’s also look at the three year strategic plan.” So asking, what at my level, and again, we can all be at different levels in our CX, but what’s appropriate and asking your boss, you’re starting to transform yourself as an executive by asking that question. So that I know I can’t get everything that I want. I know that I can’t impact everything, but I’m going to want to have to do this year to support this year’s. But let me think strategically, and we’ll talk more about the roadmap also with your product work, but how you can put together a three-year plan. So I really think it’s key.

Gabe Larsen: (03:35)
I love that. It seems like yeah, we get into those conversations and we forget the big picture. We think more about ourselves than what the CEO wants. And I think that’s oftentimes where the disconnect. Now, you’re a CEO. You’ve played that role in multiple different instances. It does seem like there’s obviously a lot of distractions. You want to keep the customer first, but things get in your way. You sometimes lose focus. How have you been able to do it? How do you find a way to keep the customer at the center in those companies you’ve worked at? What advice would you give to others trying to do the same?

Wendi Sturgis: (04:09)
I think it starts with having your own kind of philosophy and mantra about it. And really, and what I say by that is knowing how you’re going to talk about the role of the customer in your company. And I’m going to tell a real quick story. But I actually think it’s worth it. And I want to spend the most time on this topic because I am really prepared and I have five very tangible recommendations for people.

Gabe Larsen: (04:34)
All right. Do it. Let’s do it.

Wendi Sturgis: (04:34)
There’s a woman named Andy Cunningham and you and I actually were chatting before this and how you think about branding. And she’s very famous. You know you’re famous when you have an actor play you in a movie and she had an actor play her in the Steve Jobs movie. She was one of the key marketers, Gabe, for the 1984 Mackintosh. You just can’t get more famous in marketing.

Wendi Sturgis: (04:54)
And so there, she and her company had this archetype for companies and the customer archetype is normally a caregiver culture. Okay. Yext is not a caregiver culture. Okay. And that’s fine. We are a product innovator culture, and that’s just who we are. But here’s what, and I say this story because I know it was successful, but she said, this is one of the only companies where the customer came through in all the interviews, even though we’re a product innovator archetype of a company. And everybody around the table, Gabe, pointed at me and said, it’s because of her. So I only say it because you might have to accept that your company has a different archetype. It could be a financially disciplined company. And if you’re interested, she has an amazing book called Getting to Aha! And you can read about all her archetypes.

Wendi Sturgis: (05:44)
She’s really an amazing leader, but in most companies, there’s only one archetype of company. That’s a caregiver, that’s all about the customer, all of the others, there’s like 12 others. So you’ve got to understand the culture of your company and your role and how you’re going to do that because the probability is most of us work in companies that are, again, if you’ve got a one in 13 chance and I don’t even know what the percentages are. So we have to kind of accept that. Like even though I loved that archetype of innovator, it just, the customer wasn’t really a part of our DNA. So here’s the three things that I do.

Wendi Sturgis: (06:19)
One, and I cannot emphasize this enough, every opportunity you have as a leader in internal communications, tell customer stories. Every single time. You have to, every time you get to talk to the newsletter or speak at a company event or at your boss’ staff meeting, tell those stories.

Wendi Sturgis: (06:46)
The second is, and I think many of us learn this from the Salesforce playbook. I was doing it and I understand it, that notion of customer advocacy, but you’ve got to tell, whether you’re dealing with millions of customers and you’re telling the story about how your product or your service changed their lives. The level of the story, it could be a $10 million relationship, or it could be an individual consumer that you touched with a hundred dollar transaction, but telling those stories, every chance you get internally and creating those customer champions. Again, it’s different in a B2B versus the B2C environment, but finding ways to do that both internally and externally. And I think many of us learn this from Salesforce and how they were so incredible in their customer advocacy. The other is, and I give Skipper, our HRO, credit for this, because when I first took over as the Chief Customer Officer, I’m embarrassed to say, Gabe, we weren’t doing NPS. Shame on us.

Wendi Sturgis: (07:43)
And I had responsibility for CX too. And it was something I did. And I went to the C-suite, our weekly executive and I said, here’s how we’re going to do it. And I walked through everything, blah, blah, blah. This is the software we’re going to use. We’ll get to software and a little bit, and how automation is just important. And he said I learned this on Twitter. We were always on NPS. And I don’t meet that many companies who do it. I think you said, Yahoo, you do it once a year. You do it a quarter. We did it every month and it’s very easy to do, and you do it rolling. But what it does is it allows you to put NPS in front of the company and keep it top of mind because you’re doing it every month.

Wendi Sturgis: (08:23)
And again, it wasn’t my idea. I always give credit again, when you get your other executives brought in, and this is my other piece of advice, which was a great segue. You know, my head of people is like, is he going to be involved with customers? You might not think it’s logical, but he did. And he had a great idea and we made a big deal about that. So figuring out across all your stakeholders, sales, and product and engineering, how you go to them and help them understand the voice of the customer and all of those things. So whether it’s a customer support issue, because customer support was a huge part of my work with my engineering team or your supply chain or your store operations in house if you’ve got a head of store ops, or your supply chain. Spending that time and investing, so you’re due to the C-suite, but that you’re also, and again, Skip was a great example. My chief HR officer.

Wendi Sturgis: (09:18)
And then I think the last thing is really understanding that the culture part is so important with customers. We have a profile person, we just need them. We don’t care what they’ve done before. I can tell an amazing story about a bright young man that we hired, who has a lot of ivy league kids. This can happen. Individual young man happened to go to Princeton, where we have a lot of people and he was deeply, eminently unqualified for the job, Gabe. I mean, I’d tell you, I was like, this guy has been working in credit risk, like at some huge bank and he just didn’t have the background. He didn’t and my friend said, “Please meet with him.”

Wendi Sturgis: (09:59)
And I met him and I said, “He fits our culture. Our customers are going to love him.” He became one of the singular greatest rockstars in the company. He was unbelievable. And obviously we knew that he was smart, but it’s that understanding that you may have all the qualifications in the world, you don’t fit our ethos and our culture of how we are going to serve customers, it doesn’t work. Whereas somebody who didn’t have any of the experience. And what’s funny, Gabe, is that our hiring manager, because we take a lot of chances, said, “I’ve got to get somebody who’s qualified in CX.” I said, “You gotta meet him.” And she did. And she’s like, I’m throwing it out the window.” I mean, literally like, no, we have to hire him because we know our customers and we know how they’re going to love it.

Wendi Sturgis: (10:43)
And then, and here’s my last one. I might be up to six and I think you, as a marketer –

Gabe Larsen: (10:47)
It may be six. But I love it. Keep it up.

Wendi Sturgis: (10:47)
You as the marketer, it is working in partnership with your marketing partners as well. We talked about those C-suite, but I want to pull one forward, whether it’s your consumer marketing and you’re doing that with your customer advocacy. But if you have that culture, let that be expressed in your personality. And I think we all know that Zappos, they’re a great example, but perspective on how they let that personality come through. Yext does it in the B2B with some of the events that we do. And once we went virtual, we started a whole series called Truth Be Told, and our customers said, “You kept letting your culture come through in these virtual events. You guys have been able to do it.”

Wendi Sturgis: (11:31)
So whether you’re at Zappos, but I think really working with your marketing partner on how you express that and that can come through in how you respond to tickets and customer support. And having that in working and working with, what are we going to say? What’s the message of the month? And bringing all those connection points. So what I say to people in CX is it can be hard, but you have to understand that you’ve got an incredible mouthpiece and a megaphone because we wake up every day being passionate about our customers. And it’s doing that across all of these different ways internally. So I hope that’s where I really wanted to spend the time talking.

Gabe Larsen: (12:11)
I like that one, a couple of those things that jumped out. The rolling NPS, that, keeping it top of mind. I might need to talk to you after about that one, because that’s something I feel like a lot of companies miss. It’s this grand event once a year.

Wendi Sturgis: (12:28)
The other thing I’ll say, Gabe, that I didn’t call out, if you’re making changes on pricing, or you have new products, when you’re in an always on, you can start to get market feedback more quickly as well from your NPS. So I didn’t call that out as another benefit.

Gabe Larsen: (12:43)
Interesting. Well, I want to click on one thing you said earlier, just about the international aspect. Definitely looking at companies growing globally, certainly some with the pressure of the economy, companies have gotten more requests. Some people got less requests, but scaling to a global standard is on a lot of people’s minds. You’ve touched on it earlier. What are some of the lessons learned? You’re a little more of a hands-on CEO. You’ve got, you’re battle tested. How’d you win? How’d you lose?

Wendi Sturgis: (13:13)
Yeah. Well, look, I think I will be honest with you. I think one of the biggest partnerships that you need to, and this is the other one we didn’t talk about before, is with your finance department. Because you are going to have to really understand the models from revenue and scaling. And what we found, which was a huge issue for us as we started to grow in multiple markets, is that our models just, we had kind of the revenue models right, but we didn’t have the right countries. What do I mean? We were doing much better in France than we were in Germany. Now flip flops. And so I needed more French support heads than I needed German and my model and because of the hiring lag times in Europe and the notice periods, and so I said, “This isn’t going to work.”

Wendi Sturgis: (14:00)
And I worked with my CX leader who’s an amazing CX leader in Europe. And so we have not been a big outsourcer partner. We did everything in house and we just realized how to scale, I couldn’t turn it on and off because as my French team blew out the numbers in a quarter, all of a sudden I needed another French support head and I was hiring and noticing periods. It might be a six months best case before they showed up. I’ve got French customers who need support now. It was a huge issue. And so we had never been big believers in outsourcing, but we went and it’s now you’re using them globally. It’s an interesting format in Romania, and we can turn on heads within a month. So once I have that, and so I do a ton of modeling with my finance team, we understand down to country level, the regional level, and then we monitor it because it’s just, it can be in precise, especially if you’re in a higher growth.

Wendi Sturgis: (14:58)
I think if you’re in a pretty steady state, it’s probably easier. But when you’re in a high growth, you just can’t predict. My Scandinavian team didn’t do as well as I wanted, but then, and then, oh my God, I was doing really well in Saudi Arabia, but I didn’t understand, like you have to have people working on Sundays. So you got to really, and so your HR partners and your finance partners, because you also have work restrictions. So like, this is a kind of thing for the people that are international will understand. And we started blowing up in the Middle East, our support teams, our European, where we had a lot of our multilingual people were in Germany, it’s illegal to ask workers to work on a Sunday. Saudi Arabia, you have to work on Sunday. We’re going to hire Arabic speakers out of, so just if you’re in a high growth area where you’re learning about the international markets, you got to go sit down with your local HR team, your finance team, and really get aligned on your planning because there’s a lot of gotchas.

Gabe Larsen: (15:59)
I like it. The consideration of outsourcing. Sometimes I think people get nervous about that, but you’re right. And to be able to pull levers like that and be able to get rid of that ramp time and switching costs, costs and time.

Wendi Sturgis: (16:12)
And then the other one that I would say is then that’s where having, we had made an investment in a technology platform to allow us to drive our processes globally. Well, you’ve got to think through what, I’m actually talking to a company now, advising them a little bit. And they went very hardcore regional, so they got their five and they’re a hugely global company. They’re a $150 million company now, but with a huge footprint in Asia, Europe, the US, having problems because they now are getting big global customers. And the customer experience is very disconnected from each region. So I think you’ve got to do it maybe earlier than you think. And there’s, and again, I love that, I think it’s one of the ways they were able to get to 150 million. They got there really quickly because the market, really quickly, like in four years, holy moly. But, it’s in the FinTech space, but they, now they’re having real problems because they’re working with customers globally and they’re trying to build these huge 10, $20 million relationships. And the customers are saying, “This is a mess. I can’t work with you the way that I want to strategically, because everything is different in every region.” So you gotta find that balance.

Gabe Larsen: (17:24)
Yeah. Finding the right time to do that, though. Investing in the future is never easy. It’s always, you know better than I do.

Wendi Sturgis: (17:32)
No, no, no. Well look, and that’s that battle with the C-suite because sometimes, we’re going to want to do that and people are going to say, “That can wait.” So that’s part of this battle and getting really smart about the KPIs and telling the story, because it’s hard. I had to fight to get them to the technologies that I wanted when I was the Chief Customer Officer and even some of the things that I wanted to do in Europe, and then the last thing that I would say is understand, finding that balance between where you can drive consistency. So for example, many people on the call will relate to this. The customer review platforms are extraordinarily different in Europe than they are in the US. And so you’ve got to understand that and our US teams weren’t paying any attention to that.

Wendi Sturgis: (18:15)
We were getting, we had some people saying some not so good things, and we weren’t trying to solicit at all our great advocates. And we started having customers and prospects say, “What’s going on?” And then we fixed it because we just hadn’t paid it any attention. And our US team was like, “Oh, I didn’t even know that that platform existed.” There’s one called Trustpilot in Europe. It’s just very different. And it’s a very minor player in the US but a very significant player for both consumer and B2B companies. It’s a big one in Europe. And so you’ve got that, if you’ve got a global role, you’ve got to be able to drive consistency, find that balance, but also allow for those and understand and empower your teams to come to you. So we didn’t just say, “We don’t care.” We said, “Okay, we’ll fix it. We’ve got to go address Trustpilot because that’s important for us.”

Gabe Larsen: (19:01)
Wow. That’s so many unique experiences in different geographies, different lands. And so I didn’t realize Saudi Arabia was on that. I spent a couple of years in Saudi Arabia. I could have shared some secrets.

Wendi Sturgis: (19:12)
I have not been to be, and I mean, that’s a whole other thing. My husband was like, and I could go, but I’ll be honest. My whole CX Team, we were all women and I’m a woman and we actually told the Sales team who just happened to be a guy and his boss. We said, “You know what? You guys should go.” I can cover and do it. And that’s, we have to play to each other’s strengths. And I was like, “You know what? I could go and it would be a fascinating experience, but right now I’m not ready to try to change cultural norms in Saudi Arabia.” I’ll let our team go and yeah, but it is also a really good region. You’ve lived there. You’d know. There was a lot of money and a lot of business.

Gabe Larsen: (19:53)
Oh my goodness. So many fun things going on and a lot of positives.

Wendi Sturgis: (19:57)
Fantastic. Yeah. So again, how do you scale your team knowing that they’re different cultures? Just gotta be intellectually honest about it. You can’t take it personally.

Gabe Larsen: (20:05)
I think that makes a huge difference. As we wrap, I wanted to get this last piece of advice from you. We’ve got so many things kind of colliding at once with all the changes in the economy and the health and all this stuff going on, consumer digitization, you know the spiel. All these CX leaders trying to kind of mind through these different challenges, from your perspective, what’s that piece of advice? We’ve hit a lot of different areas, but the thing you’d want to leave with them as they try to navigate and still have those transformational experiences amidst the ever-changing environment that we’re in?

Wendi Sturgis: (20:38)
Yeah. I mean, listen. I think this is the time to be bold. I think that C-suites and boardrooms, their deals, in Germany, for example, are very conservative, supervisory boards. We’ve had programs that we’ve been talking to companies, super conservative German companies, things got green-lit this year that we’ve been talking to companies for years because the board said we have to change. And so I think this is the time to be bold and to really not be afraid. I know these are scary times, but we can control what we can control. And that’s all we can do in these times where there’s so many things around us that we can’t control. We are concerned for our kids and their safety in schools. And so really seize this moment because I can say, I am on a public company board as well, The Container Store, which is a great honor and a gift, and we have amazing CX leaders there. We are having conversations that are probably accelerated years. So know that when we talk about that alignment at the C-suite, but this is a time to be bold and to seize this, and it can allow you to make your mark on your company. But I promise you that these conversations are happening because I see it in my own business or I did, and I see it at The Container Store. So, it can be scary, but let’s be bold because the world is changed in ways that we don’t even understand.

Gabe Larsen: (22:02)
Change or be changed. I love that.

Wendi Sturgis: (22:02)
I really believe this is an opportunity for everyone who’s listening to really think about it and whatever your role is in the organization.

Gabe Larsen: (22:14)
Love it. Well we’ll leave it with that. Be bold. It’s a great mantra for 2021. Wendi, thanks so much for joining.

Wendi Sturgis: (22:19)
I loved it. It was always great to talk to you, Gabe. Thank you.

Gabe Larsen: (22:23)
Thank you and for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (22:30)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.

Going Digital: The Ultra Modern Approach to CX with Vasili Triant

Going Digital: The Ultra Modern Approach to CX with Vasili Triant TW

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe and Vikas are joined by Vasili Triant to talk about all things digital CX. Vasili is the Chief Operating Officer at UJET, a partner of Kustomer, creating a product that delivers the ultimate experience for the modern consumer.

Is Voice Dead?

For nearly 30 years, experts in the CX industry have heard rumors that voice as a communication channel is dead and useless for navigating customer problems. With voice being such a popular mode of communication, one can’t help but wonder if this is true. According to Vasili, not only is voice still relevant to CX in 2021, but in the last year, all communication channels have skyrocketed in popularity. “The reality is it’s not that one channel is taking over another. All channels are on the rise. So voice is increasing. Chat’s increasing….They’re all increasing.” More recently, the industry has experienced a shift towards digitizing CX, making good customer experiences more accessible on a multitudes of platforms. As more platforms such as voice, email, direct messages, chat, text, etc. are more commonly used in the CX space, the amount of interactions needed to solve customer problems also rises. “The number of interactions per consumer is actually on the rise. So instead of having a singular interaction, we’re having multiple interactions to solve one problem.” This increase in interactions is necessary for providing a more holistic experience to consumers.

Adapting to the Modern Customer’s Habits

A holistic approach to CX doesn’t stop simply at omnichannel communication. The modern customer lives in a world of mobile phones, uploading to the cloud and for companies to keep up with the ever changing customer-scape, they have to adapt to new technologies to stay relevant. It’s important that leaders stay informed on the latest CX technologies to keep customers happy. An agent should be equipped with the tools to meet their customer on their preferred communication method. For example, if a customer is having difficulty with an appliance, they should have the option to text a picture of the problem to the CX agent rather than describe it over the phone. When options like photo and video messaging are included in communication channels, it helps customers feel better understood and their problems are solved more efficiently. “A lot of times what we say is meet the consumer where the consumer is at, instead of pushing the consumer out to places maybe they don’t want to be.”

Change or Be Changed

Change is inevitable, but why is it so hard to cope with? When Vasili urges leaders to take action and to start looking for places within their organizations to adopt modern CX technology, he isn’t pretending that change is easy to accomplish. In fact, he recognizes how hard it is to choose the right technology and the right time to implement it. Many leaders feel the pressure to fully integrate their systems and go digital but hesitate to do so because they don’t know how. The ultra-modern technology provided by Kustomer and UJET can help alleviate some of this pressure by offering the solutions to ticketing and CX problems. Keeping customers in mind is another helpful tactic for tackling new processes and technology. When it comes down to it, stellar CX is about creating a seamless customer experience and having empathy for the entire customer journey. As Gabe Larsen puts it, “It’s change or be changed.”

To learn more about evolving in the mobile age, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

Listen Now:

Listen to “How Companies are Evolving in the Mobile Age | With Vasili Triant” on Spreaker.

You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

Full Episode Transcript:

How Companies Are Evolving in the Mobile Age | Vasili Triant

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

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Alrighty, let’s get rocking and rolling. We’re excited to go today. We’re going to be talking about how companies are evolving in the mobile age. You got myself, Gabe Larsen. I’m the Vice President of Growth. Vikas, why don’t you take a second, introduce yourself? And then we’ll have Vasili introduce himself.

Vikas Bhambri: (00:28)
Sure. Vikas Bhambri, Head of Sales and CX here at Kustomer. Gabe’s sidekick and 20 years CRM contact center life.

Gabe Larsen: (00:36)
Awesome. Vasili, over to you.

Vasili Triant: (00:38)
Vasili Triant, Chief Business Officer here at UJET. Formerly was the Vice President and GM of the contact center business at Cisco and prior to that, I was actually CEO of a cloud contact center company called Serenova. So happy to be here.

Gabe Larsen: (00:52)
Awesome. Awesome. Well, exciting to have you. Excited to get going today. Wanted to start maybe, Vikas, with you kicking it off and then I’m going to jump in.

Vikas Bhambri: (01:02)
Yeah look, I mean the cloud industry is transforming at a rapid pace. I think, what we’ve seen particularly in the last six, 12 months is that we are now seeing our customers and prospects in the market just adopt new technologies and the big drive and the makeshift to digital. And what we often hear from people in the industry, analysts, et cetera, is that voice as a channel is dead right? And no. Vasili, you mentioned you were at Cisco and now UJET. What’s your take on that? Does voice have a play in a world where people want to WhatsApp and they want to chat and they want to SMS? Where does voice sit in this market?

Vasili Triant: (01:42)
You know, we’ve, the voice is dead thing I’ve heard since the late nineties. And I think the idea originally started that with digital transition, people start using internet more, commerce started becoming over the web. The idea was, if you move to chat, you could reduce voice interactions. People wouldn’t want to go over voice and you would reduce costs of transaction. And that was a big move of the late nineties and pretty much the first decade of the two thousands around like, “Hey, how do we reduce costs?” The reality is consumers want to communicate with brands via channel, I’ll just call it X, and voice continues to be a big part. But the reality is it’s not that one channel is taking over another. All channels are on the rise. So voice is increasing. Chat’s increasing, right? So they’re all increasing. Actually the number of interactions per consumer is actually on the rise. So instead of having a singular interaction, we’re having multiple interactions to solve one problem. Like you may do chat and voice and maybe like a tweet at the same time, right?

Gabe Larsen: (02:54)
Yeah. It’s interesting to see these different channels, people from thinking every channel that’s added is going to cut down the conversations and it seems to add more conversations to the overall mix, but I love the phone is dead. It’s I mean, you probably, it sounds like you’ve been hearing it for now 30 years and it doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon. So what do you think about the space? I mean, you’ve been doing it for a long time Vasili, and certainly the trends and the challenges have shifted. Consumer expectations have shifted over the last little while. Obviously COVID now playing a big role in consumer expectations. Where are we now? What are some of those big rock challenges that the contact center market’s facing?

Vasili Triant: (03:37)
It’s an amazing time right now, just overall, right? So I kind of see things in really kind of two dimensions at this point. And we’re in, by the most evolving, rapidly evolving transition in the contact center space, because unfortunately COVID has become this defining moment where, what used to be like, “Hey, I’ll get to a cloud transition at some point,” now it’s, “I have to because one, my business, it can’t be in brick and mortar or has some limitations on brick and mortar, but also the consumers are changing how they’re interacting my brand.” Like I’m not going anymore to a Macy’s or Nordstrom or a Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy things. I’m just doing everything online. So you have this change of how consumers are dealing with brands, and frankly, there’s a rise in just overall activity from brands and consumers in whether it’s retail or sports and buying things delivered to their home.

Vasili Triant: (04:33)
There’s a second dimension, which is we now have to evolve and where are we going? And those kind of break down into there are these legacy cloud solutions, we call them kind of cloud 1.0 solutions, that were originally migrated from on-premise into data centers. And we added multitenancy as an industry. And that’s a majority of the vendors out there. There’s cloud 2.0 which builds solutions that leverage infrastructure as a service, which really increased reach and the idea was to increase scale. But the problems really blanketed all of these vendors around reliability, scalability, reach, ease of integration with all these other applications. And now you have this rise of what we call cloud 3.0, which is purpose built for this era of consumer transition, of brand transition. It obviously, there was no prediction that COVID was going to happen, but there was a prediction or an idea that consumers and the world will be more mobile, be more smartphone centric and connect in different ways than we did before.

Gabe Larsen: (05:38)
Hmm. I mean, do you feel like when it comes to most of the market, this, COVID hit a lot of companies, fairly hard, meaning they worked, they weren’t remote ready. They were playing in kind of this on prem. You don’t necessarily have to put a number to it, but a fairly large number of people were kind of playing in that 1.0, 2.0 realm when it came to their contact center technology expertise, et cetera. Is that fair?

Vasili Triant: (06:06)
I would say that a majority of the people, there’s still 80 to 85% of contact centers are still in on-premise technology. You have another 15% that we’re playing with what I call the 1.0 or the 2.0 transition. So in that dichotomy, you have the prem folks that are like, “I have to do something. I have to get there and I’ve seen issues with cloud 1.0. Who can solve my problems in this modern era?” And then the folks that were in cloud 1.0 are now some of them are having booms in their business. And they’re saying we need platforms and solutions that can scale both, like scale number of transactions and users, but also scaling, “Hey, by the way, we actually have to get to CX transformation. Like we actually have to make customers happier,” because if I don’t like you, Gabe, I can just drop an ad or drop a website, just go to another website. Like it’s no longer what store you’re driving by or what restaurant you just saw. You’re looking at everything electronically most of the day.

Gabe Larsen: (07:07)
I mean, Vikas, you’ve played in this space for a long time, why haven’t some of these companies not be able to make that transition? As Vasili talks about it I’m like, “What a bunch of fools! Why are they waiting so long?” Why is it so hard?

Vikas Bhambri: (07:20)
The change is hard, right, in the best of times. And I think when you look at these organizations, the three big prongs to any transformation, right? We’ve got the people first and foremost. And I think for a lot of these organizations, when they think about retraining their agent, when they think about [inaudible], when they even think about their training guides, they take pause, right? Like, “Oh my goodness. We’re going to have to do this all over again. We’re going to have to build it if doesn’t exist,” right? So I think that becomes one area. The second is their processes. I think a lot of them, to Vasili’s point, it’s less about the technology. It’s, have your processes actually adapted to the modern consumer? And look, I mean, you look at the, telcos are a prime example. They just haven’t. They’ve got a monopoly, there’s a reluctance to change or willingness to change.

Vikas Bhambri: (08:15)
But I think until those verticals or industries get disrupted, they really say, “Look, we’ll just going to handle things status quo.” And then ultimately it’s the platform challenge, right? The thoughts or concerns about going from 1.0 or 2.0 to 3.0 and the generalization. And you know, that consultants in the past that created this concept of, well, this is going to cost you millions of dollars. And a lot of times, if people are like, wait, I really, so I think those are the three things where it’s not we aren’t smart people, et cetera. Most of them that Vasili and I speak to will tell you, “We know we have to do it. It’s just a matter of the when and the why.”

Gabe Larsen: (08:53)
I’m surprised that it’s 80%, I’m seeing multiple comments of people. I just popped the, Sheila, she agreed with me, Vasili, that 80% is the number of people. So we’re not talking about a small, there’s a lot of people who have now been forced into a very uncomfortable position, but you know what? There’s nothing like –

Vikas Bhambri: (09:09)
Well here’s the thing. Like, and I’ve said this to you before, and Vasili, I don’t know if you’ve heard me say this. The pandemic, in a way, has created the biggest stress test that at least I, in my career, in the contact center, CRM industry, I’ve ever see., Whether it’s broken people’s technology where they’re like, “I want to send my agents to work from home, but they literally cannot pick up the phone and get a dial tone,” to, “My processes don’t work.” And now the consumers are barring them where Vasili said, we’ve seen interactions go up naturally in the course of years. Now we’re seeing four or five and we spoke to one CEO who’s said he’s seen 50 X the number, I mean, it was almost an unbelievable number, the number of interactions for the stress test.

Vasili Triant: (09:53)
One of the challenges that is actually happening right now, though, is there is, there’s kind of two pieces to this transition. One, I have to get my agents to cloud. So we’re just going out and buying cloud solutions. And of course you can look at the public markets right now in any SaaS company and in our space is frankly just booming regardless of what we call fit for purpose. The second part is, I need to get to CX transformation. Like, how am I going to be a better company than my competitor? And how am I going to like listen to my consumers? And it’s kind of most things like if your car broke down, is the answer that I need to find a car that works for how many kids I have, how far I’m driving, my budget on insurance or is it, I just need to go get a car, right?

Vasili Triant: (10:37)
And there’s a lot of companies right now that are like, “I just need to go get a car and then I’ll worry about the CX transformation later.” And what you’re going to see is kind of this double bubble of companies moving to cloud, then realize, “Okay, I got that problem solved. Now I actually have to improve customer experience because this didn’t meet my needs.” Or, like the common thing you might hear from some companies is, “Oh, we have outage Wednesdays or outage Thursdays,” because the platform just can’t meet those needs. And this is a lot of the things that you’re seeing out there. There are some companies taking their time saying we have to make the right move to engage our consumers because it’s about cloud, but it’s also about how do we improve customer experience because lifetime value is more important than either cost of transaction or just even general uptime.

Vikas Bhambri: (11:28)
Yeah. I would say to that point, I am speaking now more to the C level about this, than ever before. And I think it’s because this has become, once again, the stress test, that’s flagged this for a lot of CEOs, COOs and this is broken. And I think that the contact center to a degree has done a great job of shielding the executives from this, and everybody’s focused on top line growth, et cetera, right? So now these things are hyper escalated visibility. When you have slow down Wednesdays, or when people consistently are contacting your agents and you’re just like, “I’m swearing my system. I hate this thing. That’s like my, one of my biggest pet peeves. My systems are slow or our systems are slow today. My system just rebooted.” People are taking to the airwaves on Twitter and Facebook and all calling these brands out. So now it’s getting visibility at the exact level.

Gabe Larsen: (12:25)
Yeah, whether you like it or not, it’s coming. I think Kristen from the audience send us a messgae. Change is imperative. I think people are recognizing that, but how do they do it? As you think about some of these successful companies you’ve coached, you worked with clients specifically, how are then companies, they’re being forced to do it, how are they actually being successful in making that transition?

Vasili Triant: (12:48)
I think the biggest success that I don’t know if I’d say we see or I see or the companies that actually start looking at the problem from them being a customer of their own company, right? When I break it, when they kind of break it down one more level and say, “If I’m dealing with my own company, how am I entering? How am I, what are the touch points and what is my frustration?” A lot of times what we say is meet the consumer where the consumer is at, instead of pushing the consumer out to places maybe they don’t want to be. And so when we talk about how is customer service evolving in this mobile world, where is your consumer? Are they on their smartphone? Are they on their PC and their website? Like, you need to understand that and you need to meet them there.

Vasili Triant: (13:35)
One of the things that we hear a lot about is, “Hey, what about Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn?” And the comment there is, if your consumer is already at Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, they’ve already had a failure of customer experience with you. And now you’re trying to solve the problem after the fact, like they’re already ticked off, you got to get to the front end of it. And if you can do that and look at it from the consumer’s perspective, then you can figure out where is their journey and what are the things that we need to offer them? It’s really about digital transition right now, and being able to offer those options. And there’s not a lot of things that do it all. There’s a lot of great marketing messages. There’s a lot of like, we can talk about automation. So one hammer saying, how do we improve customer experience? But then there’s a whole other segment of the industry, it’s like, how do we automate the front end? Because if we automate the front end, we think people want to not deal with a live person. Or we think that we can reduce the number of agents which ends reduces costs and maybe it helps our P and L. The reality is you have to back up and think about it from being a consumer yourself, whether you’re viewing a banking application or insurance, or any type of on-demand tech, whether it’s Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, whatever it may be, right?

Vikas Bhambri: (14:53)
Yeah. That goes back to the early discussion we had around voice. And this whole thing that we’ve been hearing in the industry for 20, 30 years, that voice is dead, and nobody wants to call the 1-800 number. No, nobody wants to call your crappy line. Nobody wants to scream at your IVR. That’s like they speak to me and give me your number or give me yes or no and then don’t understand what I’m saying. And now yelling and screaming. It’s not that, we still see that when push comes to shove and consumers really want to get ahold of you, they want to speak to somebody else on the other end of the line, right? Because that’s a great example –

Vasili Triant: (15:31)
One, but yeah, the biggest thing, one context, right? That’s the other thing too. Like if I speak around my house and then all of a sudden I pick up my phone and I get on a website and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, there’s like a website that was just about what I’m speaking.” Like, there’s this expectation from consumers of what technology can do today, and so it’s like be smarter. So when I do call in, you should know that where I was either in your app or on your website, let me skip the first couple of steps. Like, why do I have to press one for English and two for Spanish? Shouldn’t you know that either I’m a Spanish speaker or an English speaker? And not buying like legacy things, just like caller ID, but like where I’ve already got it digitally authenticated at an application or on a website, like if I’m on your website and I already have it translated in Spanish, when I hit contact us and I go to a phone number for like either a web RTC call or something like, why are you asking me that question again?

Vasili Triant: (16:24)
Skip it. I actually called a major hotel chain that I deal with the other day and they put this big, massive automated speech thing in front of it. And they’re trying to solve my problem. Like, oh my God, I just want the person that I usually deal with so I spent a few extra minute, getting through all that, got to the person. And then they said, “How can I help you? Can you give me your information?” I’m like, “I literally just did all my authentication.” And they actually had it before and they lost it with this whole automated thing. It doesn’t pass the information all the way through. And that was, I said, “Forget it. I’ll just go to the website and just deal with it myself.”

Vikas Bhambri: (16:58)
And that’s the thing and I often talk about this and I think over the last 10, 15 years, no offense Gabe, we’ve seen a lot of investment in the customer acquisition side of the house. Sales and marketing technologies to that point of hyper personalization that Vasili talked about. I talked to my wife about, should we be buying a new bike for my daughter? And next thing we know we’re getting bombarded on every website we go to, every app we go to with advertising for bicycles. And then we acquire the customer, we sell them that bicycle, and then something goes wrong. The pedal breaks or the seat breaks and we’re like, “Oh no. Now we’re going to send you to this antiquated infrastructure back in the 1950s,” right? Kind of like black and white screen. And now you’re going to have to do all this to get your problem solved. So it’s amazing. And I think that the tide is turning where people are like, “I’ve invested in that acquisition, but I really need to have that same focus and mindset on personalizing the customer support service side as well.”

Gabe Larsen: (18:02)
Yeah. It does feel like it’s time. And the time obviously is now, so Vasili, recently, we both kind of announced a fun partnership between UJET and Kustomer, but I’m curious to talk some challenges and some of the successful ways people are overcoming those challenges. How is UJET jumping in and solving some of these challenges in addition by themselves, and then with the Kustomer addition to our partnership?

Vasili Triant: (18:25)
Yeah. So we’re just an ultra modern, like new way of looking at things. We built a platform that took into account how everything has evolved in this era of technology. So forgetting just infrastructure pieces for a moment, what are the common things that happen when a brand is trying to gather information and flow in order to then answer the problem and you start with data, right? So you need all the data in one place. What is everybody doing? They build all these systems and then try to integrate all these data stores or systems or records. We’ve purposely built our application for CRM and ticketing. In other words, we said, “Where are brands going to want all their information? They’re going to want it in their CRM or ticketing platform.” So we purposely built an application for that. We don’t store any of that, we actually put it in one place. It’s not about integrating and starting to have these data disparities, but more unifying it. Also, when you’re looking at something it’s all in one place, and then you can answer problems better. The second thing is the biggest thing, frankly, is where are consumers today? They’re on their smartphones. They’re on the web and meet them where they’re at. So we essentially embed the connectivity between a consumer brand in their app, and we don’t make the consumer go outside of it. So you can get things like, know how long they’ve been on either a page or a place within the mobile app. You can know geolocation data, all kinds of different things around the problems already looking at and skip steps. What does that mean? I may know that Vasili shouldn’t go into an automated attendant to start asking me all these questions and he needs to go to a live agent right away, or his problem might be simple. Let me put them into a virtual agent.

Vasili Triant: (20:11)
And I can connect through voice, chat and then do more advanced things like share photos, share videos. I was dealing with an appliance company the other day and I built this new house, put all these new appliances in, and I’m trying to explain the problem. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I just want to show you. What can I do?” “Well, we don’t have an email for individuals, but you can send it to this thing.” I mean, there’s like all these delays and we enable real-time communication through a lot of different methods so that essentially consumers can interact with a brand the way they want to. And we make it seamless between that mobile experience and web. And the reality is, this is where consumers are today. They’re on these devices. And so you need to be able to interact with them there. And we just do it differently. Now with Kustomer, it’s interesting because you all have taken an ultra modern approach to the ticketing and service problem. And then we’ve taken this ultra modern approach to customer experience. So the types of brands that are really looking for that CX transformation, what’s better than this ultra modern approach from two companies where it just blends together? The integration becomes seamless. You’re not looking really at two different applications, but essentially one solution to solve my customer service problem.

Gabe Larsen: (21:29)
Yeah. I love it. Vikas, what would you add to that?

Vikas Bhambri: (21:32)
No, look, I think the key thing is that data and giving access to the agent, right? So you have that human experience. For me, it’s bringing in that data of who the customer is, where they are in their journey, right? All the data that UJET gives us in terms of where they are in our app, where they are on our website, what are they looking at, what did they do, who do we know? Because you can authenticate as well, right? Bringing that all then to the agent to get right to the heart of the matter, resolve that problem all effectively, for one, the customer’s happiness. But then the brand’s efficient. Now I can actually handle more of these inquiries, the surge that Vasili talked about earlier. So really it is a win-win for the agent, the brand, and then effectively the consumer.

Gabe Larsen: (22:17)
I like that, you guys. We fit a lot today. As we wrap, we’d love to just have a quick summary. We got a lot of CX leaders out there, contact center leaders trying to make this transition. What’s that one thing you’d leave them with as they kind of get ready for a fun weekend here? We’ll start with you.

Vasili Triant: (22:35)
I’ll take that one then. I’d say we’ve got to find the solutions together that are ultimately going to make your customers happy. And that’s what we’re passionate about is making your customers happy at the end of each of those experiences and along the entire journey.

Gabe Larsen: (22:51)
Love it. Vikas, closing remarks from your side?

Vikas Bhambri: (22:53)
Yeah. The last thing, I think when a lot of people see the joint offering between Kustomer and UJET, their minds are blown. Like, “Wow, this is what I dreamt up. This is what I thought.” I’ve heard these comments repeatedly for the last three years. But then people are like, “Well, we’re not there yet”. It goes back to what Vasili was saying about earlier at 85% of these people on the 1.0. I think it’s really about working with UJET and Kustomer to say, “How do I kind of walk through a process or change management?” Crawl, walk, run. This stuff’s getting me there. Right? You don’t have to knock it all out. Especially the, I think a lot of the enterprises see it. And they’re like, “This is modern. This is new.” But it’s better for the new age company. And eventually those new age companies are going to come eat your lunch if you don’t figure it out sooner or later. So what I would say is figure out ways to kind of start the adoption process now.

Gabe Larsen: (23:47)
Oh, I love it. It’s like change or be changed. It’s happening whether you like it or not. Guys, thanks so much for joining. Vasili, it’s great to have you bring in that experience. Vikas, partner in crime, thanks as always for jumping on. And for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (24:05)
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How Consumer Behavior Is Fueling the Future of Retail CX

How Consumer Behavior Is Fueling the Future of Retail CX TW

A whole new demographic of buyers were forced to do their shopping online in the past year, and leaned more heavily on customer service teams to feel comfortable and confident about their purchases. While post-transaction support, like order status and return initiation, likely will never subside, CX teams can now take on more of a revenue-generating advisory role, answering product questions or directing customers to better alternatives.

Kustomer talked to thought leaders in the customer experience space to understand what they think the future of retail CX looks like, how to re-create the in-store experience in an online world, and what tools and strategies brands should tap into in order to achieve this. Read on for a preview, and access the full e-book here.

The Shift to Digital-First

With most businesses closing their storefronts (at least temporarily) or minimizing capacity during the global pandemic, consumers were forced to shift their shopping online. While it is inevitable that commerce will partially shift back to brick-and-mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. In fact, according to Shopify, a whopping 84% of consumers shopped online during the global pandemic, and 48.8% of consumers will continue to shop online more frequently after the pandemic is over.

It is imperative to consider how new online shoppers will be interacting with your brand in a digital-first world. How do you make it easier for them to get their questions answered? How do you make sure you’re able to surface the correct information and resources to a customer in their times of need? How do you ensure you are able to deliver a seamless experience when consumers switch channels or move from in-store to online?

Creating a Unified and Effortless Experience

According to Alexander Richards, Director of Partnerships & Business Development at Medallia, the future of retail involves seamless and connected shopping experiences. “For a long time now, online and in-store shopping have been treated as separate entities that fall under the same brand, and sell the same goods, usually leaving advocates frustrated. Just because a brick-and-mortar store uses one POS platform, an online store uses another, and they don’t talk to each other, this shouldn’t impede the sales and support teams. Most of all, it shouldn’t impede the customer,” says Richards. “Brands are becoming smarter, more customer-centric, and know they need to meet their customers where they are in this omnichannel world. Our jobs as technology companies are to provide solutions to enable and support these effortless experiences.”

Incorporating digital-first support strategies into the overall online customer experience will make a huge difference when it comes to brand equity and loyalty. Consumers that perhaps would walk into a store to check out a product or ask a question to an in-store representative, now require that service in an online environment. Instead of tracking down a phone number or e-mail address, a chat widget or in-app messaging may be the most convenient option to get a question answered. In fact, according to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, live chat continues to grow in popularity with consumers, now ranking as the second most popular channel to get customer service problems solved.

Keeping Things Personal

However, digital CX should not mean impersonal CX. Customers still want to be treated like real human beings, with unique thoughts and preferences — not like anonymous transaction numbers. According to Kustomer research conducted during the pandemic, the top three most valued customer service attributes are:

  1. Empathy
  2. Personalization
  3. Speed

In order to truly deliver the in-store experience in a digital world, retailers must not lose the human touch. Consumers expect to be treated with empathy and personalization, even when they aren’t interacting with a company representative face-to-face.

Says Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist, Bestselling Author, and Keynote Speaker, “The future of retail is personalized. Retailers will use technology to create bespoke experiences that are completely tailored, at scale.”

Want to learn more from CX experts on how to recreate the in-store retail experience online? Check out the full e-book here.

 

Kustomer Debuts Next Generation Chat Platform, Enabling Businesses to Deliver AI-Powered, Personalized Customer Service at Fraction of the Cost of Phone Support

Kustomer Debuts Next Generation Chat Platform, Enabling Businesses to Deliver AI-Powered, Personalized Customer Service at Fraction of the Cost of Phone Support TW

Businesses Can Now Resolve the High-Frequency Needs of Digital Shoppers Faster and More Efficiently, Providing Personal, Empathetic & Helpful Chat-Based Support to More Customers

 

New York, NY – January 19, 2021Kustomer, the top-rated CRM platform for omnichannel customer experiences, today launched its next-generation Kustomer Chat platform. The intelligent, easy-to-deploy conversational messaging platform leverages AI and historical customer data to enable secure, personalized engagement from websites and mobile devices throughout their buyer journey. This reduces shopping cart abandonment, empowers customers to resolve their own issues and inspires customer loyalty with a smarter, more convenient and cost-effective support option that helps businesses stay on top of support volume triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It also helps businesses scale cost-effectively by replacing phone-based support that can cost over $8 per contact, with an AI-powered messaging experience at 1/10th the cost.

“Customer service has become a lifeline for consumers struggling to adapt in the post-COVID era. They need personal, informed support throughout their buying journey, and they need it on their own schedule. Unfortunately, the crushing volume and complexity of requests has left businesses struggling to keep up and searching for smarter, digital solutions to address customer demands,” said Brad Birnbaum, founder and CEO of Kustomer. “As one of the most popular and efficient support channels, chat is the answer, but it must be smarter, more personalized, and less frustrating than legacy chat experiences. That’s why we are so excited to introduce our newest version of the Kustomer Chat platform with AI chatbots powered by rich customer data to help businesses deliver highly-responsive, smart, and personalized support at a fraction of the cost of traditional channels. By allowing customers to easily resolve problems on their own and engage with CX at their convenience, Kustomer Chat provides businesses the tools to deliver on customers’ expectations and grow their business. Using AI-powered advanced triage and recommended agent actions, CX organizations can deliver faster answers to their customers’ needs.”

Brand New Kustomer Chat Platform Packed With Features

The new version of Kustomer Chat delivers benefits for both consumers and businesses by making chat-based support interactions smarter, faster, and frictionless. Businesses can now automate, deflect, or instantly resolve customer issues using chatbots powered by machine learning and customer data from the built-in CRM platform. Businesses can also improve agent productivity by using AI and the customer’s full history to eliminate guesswork, accelerate triage, and recommend or automate actions. The platform features an extensive set of capabilities, Kustomer Chat empowers businesses to deliver seamless support around the clock, dramatically improve the customer experience quality, and reduce the costs and complexity of their service operations.

  • Embedded Knowledge Base: Enable quick access to FAQs and deliver instant resolution with AI-Powered Knowledge Base that can be accessed from within the chat widget.
  • Persistent Conversation History: Keep conversations continuous even if the customer has momentarily left, with a persistent interaction history that allows anywhere, anytime engagement, without losing context or needing to repeat themselves.
  • CRM-Powered Chatbots: Powered by machine learning and CRM data, deploy powerful bots across the entire journey to automate routine agent interactions, deliver personalized experiences, and drive faster resolution.
  • In-App & Push Notifications: Reduce abandonment and churn, and eliminate frustrating waiting on hold by using in-app and push notifications to instantly notify customers when there is a response from an agent.
  • Multi-Brand Customization: Deliver customized experience across multiple brands. Manage unique settings to create brand-specific experiences including branding, styles, language, conversational assistant, automations, SLAs, reporting, and more.
  • Build Your Own Chat Widget: Create your own conversational interface and experience using turnkey tools and developer configurations.
  • Targeted CSAT Surveys: Collect meaningful, in-the-moment feedback by targeting CSAT surveys based on customer data.
  • Enhanced Performance and Reliability: Completely rewritten in industry-leading modern programming languages Swift and Kotlin, along with simplified implementation, and super-light SDKs, the new chat platform delivers top speed and reliability.
  • Support for the popular Dark Mode and Landscape mode.
  • Intelligent Agent Suggestions (Coming Soon): Using AI and entire ticket history, brands can eliminate overhead manual triage, accelerate response times, and recommend or automate actions for agents.

“Chat is the most cost-effective and fastest way to support and win over our customers,” said Becky Leader, VP of Customer Experience at Rent The Runway. “Kustomer’s chat platform is a critical part of our omnichannel support strategy. Agents can efficiently deliver seamless web and in-app chat support, quickly switch to another channel if needed, and follow up on any missed messages.”

New Research Shows Customers Want Chat-Based CX

Kustomer recently conducted a study of consumer chat preferences that can be downloaded for free at www.kustomer.com. The research showed consumers aged 18-24 rate customer service today as slower, more difficult, less personal, and less convenient than all other age groups, meaning that current customer service strategies are falling short when it comes to this generation. But their appetite for self-service via chat reveals an easy way to improve upon these negative feelings: 61% of consumers 24 and younger prefer self-service, compared with only 23% of those 65 and above.

About Kustomer
Kustomer is the top-rated CRM platform for omnichannel customer experience, helping leading businesses create customers for life. With an advanced, AI-powered, omnichannel customer experience platform, Kustomer delivers a unified single view of the customer, automates manual tasks, and scales easily to deliver the efficient and effortless CX that businesses, agents and consumers love. Today, Kustomer is the core platform of top customer-centric brands like Ring, Glovo, Glossier, Sweetgreen. Headquartered in NYC, Kustomer was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, has raised over $174M in venture funding, and is backed by leading VCs including: Coatue, Tiger Global Management, Battery Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Cisco Investments, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures and Social Leverage.

Media Contact:
Cari Sommer
Raise Communications
cari@raisecg.com

Join us for our webinar on January 26th, 2021: Servicing the Modern Consumer With Chat.

Register Now

 

How Kustomer Accelerated Digital Transformation in a New Era

How Kustomer Accelerated Digital Transformation in a New Era TW

The pandemic essentially caused a meteor storm of change, crisis, chaos, and challenges that created unprecedented customer service issues. Consumers sought out new, more convenient ways to connect with brands. Brands were forced to keep up to maintain trust, earn a reputation for excellence, and serve customers in the ways they now expect.

At Kustomer, we strive to help brands effortlessly keep up with quickly shifting trends, and work to deliver products and features that have helped them orchestrate an intimate, effortless connection with customers.

We launched more than 80 products and features in 2020 — here are some highlights of what we’ve launched this year, followed by an introduction to our product team that made this possible.
 

New Channels To Meet Customers Where They Are

  • Instagram Support: With the rapid growth in social commerce, we launched support for Instagram Messaging that allowed you to respond to @replies, Direct Messages, Stories and Comments directly from the Kustomer platform.
  • Turnkey Integrations for Voice Apps: With voice still being the top channel for support, we launched turnkey integrations with various voice contact centers such as Aircall and UJET, to help you deliver hyper-personalized support for those users.
  • Spam Filters: To keep spammers at bay and your teams productive, we released spam filters to block emails from certain addresses or domains.

 

Pair Humans With AI to Enhance Efficiency

 

Optimize Support Operations with Improved Automation

  • New Business Rules Triggers: Eliminate routine processes with asynchronous automations that can be triggered when an attribute changes using Business Rules.
  • Insight Card Builder: Enable fast, personalized support by using the drag-and-drop Insight Card Builder to customize the customer data agents see when answering inquiries.
  • New Permission Sets: Keep agents focused by defining what users or teams can see and do by granting access to actions on an object level.
  • Audit Log Improvements: Speed up troubleshooting by tracking routing events at a more granular level.

 

Discover Trends, Evaluate Performance and Optimize Service With Enhanced Reporting

  • Agent Performance Report: Keep agents motivated and informed of their progress with a personalized performance report.
  • Multi-Query Charts: Understand how different metrics correlate with one another with the ability to add a second query in the Chart Editor.
  • Schedule Custom Reports: Keep key stakeholders and members of your organization up to date by scheduling custom reports on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
  • Team Pulse Enhancements: Monitor agent productivity and identify agents who need assistance in real-time with new and improved Team Pulse.
  • Deflection Report: Quickly measure the success of your deflection, see popular search queries, and identify articles that need improvement.

 

Top-Requested Feature of 2020: Dark Mode

We welcome your ideas for new features, so we can make the Kustomer platform even more useful to you. By popular request, we’ve released Dark Mode for Kustomer to help reduce eye strain and screen fatigue. To submit your idea, head to Feature Requests in Settings.
 

Top Stories of 2020

  • Kustomer to Join Facebook: Kustomer has signed an agreement to join Facebook, pending regulatory review. Both Kustomer and Facebook are committed to helping brands extend the value of the Kustomer platform as part of their omnichannel customer service strategy. Learn More
  • Kustomer Acquired Automation Technology Company Reply.ai: We believe artificial intelligence is essential to helping today’s enterprises scale customer service and efficiently deliver exceptional results. We rolled out Kustomer IQ to meet the growing need for companies to have access to the power of AI, and continued our investment by acquiring Reply.ai to bring self-service tools and intelligence capabilities to our clients. Learn More
  • Kustomer Joined the Shopify Plus Certified App Program: The only enterprise customer service CRM platform in the program, Kustomer seamlessly integrates with Shopify in one click, empowering e-commerce businesses to efficiently resolve conversations across all digital channels in a single platform. Learn More

 

Meet Our Product Managers

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020 TW

I would say that 2020 has been unprecedented, but let’s face it — we all want to permanently retire that word. From both a personal and professional perspective, it is undeniable that the past year has brought immense challenges, and you wouldn’t be alone to wish it was all just a fever dream.

While we are literally counting down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021, it goes without saying that there are some permanent lessons that can be learned from the hurdles we faced in 2020. It was a year of success for Kustomer, with immense product developments, award wins and acquisitions, but customer service was also more important than ever before.

Without further ado, here is Kustomer’s look back at 2020.

Lessons From a Challenging Year

Many organizations are struggling to understand when they’ll go back to “business as usual”. And the fact of the matter is, they likely never will. The new way of working that 2020 forced upon CX teams will have lingering effects, and consumers are now used to doing business in a whole new way.

Changing Consumer Attitudes Means More Digital Commerce

While it is inevitable that commerce will partially shift back to brick and mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. Consumers that perhaps would walk into a store to ask a question, or call a customer service number for assistance, now may find it more convenient to click on a chat widget while they browse your site online, or reach out to you on social after seeing your ads.

In fact, according to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, live chat continues to grow in popularity with consumers, now ranking as the second most popular channel to get customer service problems solved. Consumers are also more open to self-service options, with 53% of consumers preferring to self-serve versus speaking with a company representative. The same percentage of consumers also think that chatbots improve the customer experience, with that cohort growing to 62% among consumers aged 18-24. It’s therefore important to consider new, digital-first service options for 2021 and beyond.

Speed and Efficiency Beat All

Many CX teams were forced to do more with less during the global pandemic. An unfortunate result of forced closures meant that the economy shot into a depression, and organizations needed to be scrappier than ever. Kustomer research revealed that 63% of CX organizations needed to cut costs during the global pandemic, and 46% reported a need to reduce staff. At the same time, the volume of customer inquiries was rising (by 17% on average), and 57% reported needing to deal with more complex problems than usual. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported an urgency for more efficiency, and 59% reported the need to adopt more automation to achieve efficiency.

While it is true that some organizations have seen digital inquiries somewhat normalize after a spike earlier in the year, the pandemic has revealed significant gaps in CX strategies. What seemed like a nonurgent need—adopting new technology to increase efficiency—is now staring CX organizations directly in the face and preventing them from being successful. Whether it’s a similar unthinkable event that shakes the economy to its core, or simply a busy holiday shopping season overwhelming agents, organizations must be prepared to scale efficiently, at lightning speed.

Customers Are People Too

As AI and automation take on more of the busy work in the CX space, and more consumers shift to online vs. in-store shopping, customer service agents will take on a much more important — and challenging — role. They will become the face of the company, reflecting it’s values and building lifelong relationships. Think of all of the DTC disruptor brands with cult-like followings— yes they have chic branding, but they’ve also built a community of advocates based on how they treat (and value) their customer base. We could all take a page out of their book.

To personalize a customer’s experience, you have to know the customer—and that requires data. A platform that brings all the data about a customer into one place helps customer service agents understand the context of a customer’s conversations and enables them to deliver more efficient, proactive and relevant service. There’s no need to waste the customer’s or agent’s time by asking for repeat information. Instead, that information is available at the click of a button, allowing the agent to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship.

Kustomer’s 2020 in Review

This wasn’t just an important year for the customer service space, it was also a momentous year for Kustomer as an organization.

January – Kustomer kicked off the year at NRF, where we not only rubbed (pre-COVID) elbows with CX retail experts, but also learned about the importance of delivering an exceptional experience to create customers for life.

February – Kustomer launched our first ever podcast — Customer Service Secrets — to help leaders transform their customer service, with practical information from thought leaders and practitioners who share their secrets to delivering exceptional customer service.

March – COVID-19 transformed business as we know it in March 2020, and as a result Kustomer began offering our Unlimited Package to customers for free, to enable seamless cross-functional communication and dynamic team oversight in a remote environment.

April – In April Kustomer officially launched Kustomer IQ, the artificial intelligence engine embedded across the Kustomer CRM platform. Kustomer IQ leverages advanced artificial intelligence to help agents more efficiently analyze and take action on customer requests, which was even more impactful during a time when agents were being asked to do more with less.

May – Kustomer kept the momentum going in May by acquiring Reply.ai — a top-rated customer service automation company — and began offering enhanced chatbot and deflection capabilities in the Kustomer platform.

June – For the first time, Kustomer was recognized in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center. We believe this recognition underscores Kustomer’s important role in the space, where we are paving the way for the next generation of customer service CRM, driving intelligent and scalable experiences.

July – In July, Kustomer kicked off a new and exciting partnership, after being selected as the only enterprise customer service CRM platform in the Shopify Plus Certified App Program. Our enhanced integration with Shopify Plus helps brands and customer service agents optimize and personalize their experience, all within the Kustomer platform.

August – Kustomer was honored to be named the fastest growing SaaS company by SaaS magazine. Driven by the move to digital-only experiences, changing consumer behavior, and demand for omnichannel service, businesses in many industries turned to Kustomer in record numbers in 2020.

September – Kustomer released powerful new consumer research in September, breaking down what modern consumers expect from the customer experience. The research revealed that consumers rank customer service as the second most important attribute they consider when shopping, right below price, speaking to the importance of delivering on consumer expectations.

October – While we couldn’t get together in person, that didn’t stop Kustomer from hosting our premiere event of the year — Kustomer NOW. Attendees were able to gather insights from the brightest minds in the CX space, like Drybar founder Alli Webb who spoke about how her business was built from the ground up with the customer experience in mind.

November – In November we took the next step in the “Kustomer Journey” and announced that we signed an agreement to be acquired by Facebook subject to customary regulatory review. Once the acquisition closes, we will be able to help more people benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however customers need it.

December – Close on the heels of the announcement, Kustomer hosted Social Commerce Live, an action-packed, free digital event showcasing the power of social channels to build lifelong relationships with your customers. You can still watch on demand and gather insights from brands like Glossier and Bravo.

Kustomer Top Content

In case you missed it, check out some of Kustomer’s top content from the past year, where we explore break down the current state of affairs in CX:

E-Book: How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence for Competitive Customer Service
Report: What Consumers Expect From the Customer Experience
Guide: The 2021 CX Prep Guide
Webinar: How the Global Pandemic Is Affecting Customer Service Organizations
Blog Post: Top Metrics and Strategies for How to Measure Customer Service Performance

 

How Smart Technology Can Power Efficient, Digital-First Experiences

How Smart Technology Can Power Efficient, Digital-First Experiences TW

In 2020, the whole world went digital at a rapid pace. While it is inevitable that commerce and customer service will partially shift back to brick and mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. Many organizations are tapping into the power of technology to deliver on this digital shift, and scale without sacrificing their quality of support.

Artificial intelligence still sparks some suspicion or nervousness that robots will take all of our jobs. But instead, AI in customer service can truly enable businesses to be more efficient and productive by eliminating menial work. International delivery company Glovo knows this first hand. After implementing Kustomer IQ, the artificial intelligence tools embedded throughout the Kustomer platform, Glovo was able to instantly solve 84% of their inquiries through pure self-service and chatbots, versus contacting an agent.

 

Beyond AI-driven efficiency tools, leveraging a true customer service CRM, where all information is unified and actionable, is the only way to deliver a modern experience. Legacy CRMs were built to manage cases, not customers. Many digital disruptors, who put the customer at the center of their business models, realized this early on and put a CX CRM in place to deliver a seamless, customer-first experience. Says Lauren Panken, Senior Systems Manager at UNTUCKit, “For us, the CRM is the place that we get a full view of our customer in regards to customer service. It’s honestly just been such a great addition to the way that our team functions… and has improved the way that we’ve been serving our customers.”

 

More “old school” organizations are also quickly realizing that in order to service their customers effectively, they need to move into the twenty-first century, with modern technology. Ernest Chrappah, Director of the DC Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs, chose to work with Kustomer to ensure they were putting their best foot forward. “It was simply about finding a way to respond to our customers by elevating the services that we provide to meet the needs of customers in the digital age,” said Chrappah.

 

Before switching to Kustomer, Ritual was using a system that didn’t allow them to scale. Instead of logging into half a dozen different systems in order to solve a single ticket, Ritual found a modern CRM that would allow them to be both efficient and effective. “Having everything under one roof was really the driving factor,” said Andrew Rickards, Director of Customer Experience at Ritual.

 

A modern CRM like Kustomer can not only allow businesses to scale by unifying all data and making it actionable in a single screen, but it can also surface data points that can make your business better. By understanding data-driven trends, shortcomings, issues and wins, and putting technology solutions in place to better your operations, a true customer service CRM can transform a business from a cost center into a profit center, says Amy Coleman, Director of CX at Lulus.com:

 

Want to learn more about how switching to Kustomer can power both efficient and exceptional experiences? Explore how we stack up to Zendesk here.

 

Consumers Love Live Chat, but Businesses Aren’t Adopting It. Here’s Why.

Consumers Love Chat, but Businesses Aren’t Adopting It. Here’s Why. TW

One of the biggest shifts over the past few years? A digital-first mindset. While phone support isn’t going anywhere, when you force consumers to switch platforms in order to get their questions answered, you give them a reason to abandon their purchase or generate negative feelings. The less effort, the better — and with the digital-first consumer, chat is often better.

In an effort to understand how brands are currently using live chat for business, why some have not yet done so, and whether there is a disconnect between customer needs and brand expectations, Kustomer went out and surveyed over 100 CX professionals and compared these findings with our recent consumer research.

What is Live Chat for Business?

Live chat is a customer service widget that allows your questions to be answered effortlessly within the web browser. Live chat allows customers to effortlessly communicate with customer service representatives in real time, without having to leave the platform they are already doing business on. The live chat allows customers to communicate with customer service at stores or brands in real time without having to talk with a customer service representative.

Why Consumers Love Chat

Think about the online shopping experience. You find the perfect Christmas present for your son, but have a question about whether batteries are included. So, instead of picking up the phone or searching for an e-mail address to contact the business, there is a chat window right there on the page that can allow your questions to be answered effortlessly. While switching channels may not sound like a deal breaker, the data says otherwise.

According to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, 79% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact customer service on their preferred medium or platform, and 81% of consumers would abandon a purchase due to a poor service experience.

Chat, as well as social media messaging, allows you to instantly meet your customers where they are, whether that is browsing online for products, checking their shipping status, or perusing your social channels. Research from Matt Dixon revealed that only 9% of customers who have low effort experiences display any kind of disloyal attitude or behavior, compared to 96% of those customers with high effort, difficult experiences. And chat does a great job of delivering this effortless quality customer service experience.

The Business Disconnect

Curiously, businesses are not aligned with these consumer preferences and wants. Only 25% of surveyed customer service organizations are currently using chat, and 18% report they currently use chatbots. When taking into consideration the effortless, fast service that modern customers demand, the vast majority of businesses are missing a huge opportunity and leaving themselves open to competitors.

The top two reasons that companies have not yet adopted chat software, speak to a lack of time, resources or strategy internally: the organization does not know where to start, or they have staffing constraints when it comes to managing more channels. However, the third most popular reason speaks to the massive disconnect between CX organizations and consumers: businesses report that they don’t think their customers want or like it. However, according to Kustomer’s recent consumer research, customers rank live chat as the second most popular channel or tactic for contacting customer service, right below phone.

Top Reasons CX Organizations Haven’t Adopted Chat
  1. Don’t know where to start
  2. Staffing constraints
  3. Customers don’t want / like it
  4. Lack of customizable solutions
  5. No budget
  6. Lack of executive buy-in

Additionally, many organizations report that they are prevented from adopting chat because of the lack of customizable solutions. Seventy-five percent of CX teams say that matching the chat experience to the overall brand experience is important, so slapping any old chat widget on your site just won’t do. Make sure that your customer service CRM can allow your business to build or integrate chat widgets seamlessly, ensuring that all customer data and history is integrated within the chat experience, while maintaining brand guidelines.

When it comes to chatbots, the reasons for lack of adoption differ slightly from live chat:

Top Reasons CX Organizations Haven’t Adopted Chatbots
  1. Not sure of the benefits
  2. No budget
  3. Lack of resources to manage chatbots
  4. Customers don’t want / like it
  5. Tried, isn’t effective
  6. Lack of executive buy-in

As chatbots are quite new, and often involve buying a pricey solution or building one with an internal team, the top reasons for lack of adoption make sense. But 61% of the younger generation prefer self-service over talking to a company representative, meaning that the benefits are clear: your customers now expect chatbots as an option.

Additionally, chatbots free up agent time for more complex and proactive support. They can be used to collect initial information, provide responses to simple questions, and even complete standard tasks like initiating a return or answering an order status question. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right platform, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.

Look for a platform that leverages chatbots and AI-enabled deflection to act as a first line of defense, optimizing a customer’s ability to self-serve so agents can focus on the most important cases and deliver the highest impact.

Want the complete findings from our research on chat? Download the report here.
 

5 Common Digital Transformation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

5 Common Digital Transformation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them TW

You’ve no doubt heard of digital transformation before. Maybe the term has been batted around the boardroom, maybe you already have a strategy in place, or maybe you’ve skipped over it, deciding it wasn’t necessary for your business.

Digital transformation is more important now than ever before. Smart technology is allowing people to work remotely, and the future of healthcare has embraced telemedicine. But what does that mean for you?

Digital transformation will look different for each business. What works for one company will not necessarily work for another. Because of this, creating a digital transformation strategy is not always straightforward. There will be hurdles and pitfalls along the way, but that’s what makes it fun, right?

We want to help your digital transformation happen as smoothly as possible. To that end, we’ve put together five common digital transformation mistakes and (most importantly) tips on how to avoid them.

1. Lack of Responsibility

While everyone in your company might agree that digital transformation is important, they may not consider it to be their responsibility. Directors pass the buck to managers, managers decide it falls under the marketing team’s remit, and the marketing team pawn it off to IT.

This doesn’t work. Everyone needs to take responsibility. Without the human resources team’s involvement, how will you know the best way to digitize HR? Do you know what software will best suit the sales team’s needs? Or if the CX team had a say in helping the marketing team create their roll-out of promos? Cross-organizational cooperation and accountability is essential.

How to Avoid it…
Make sure that everyone is on board. Ask each team to identify any current problems they have, and ensure they understand how digital transformation can resolve these issues.

5 Common Digital Transformation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Inline 1

2. Waiting for the Competition

You might think that it’s sensible to wait for the competition before investing in digital transformation. Why spend unnecessarily when none of your competitors are? But this is a dangerous game to play.

Waiting for your competition is a great way to get left behind. You may not know what digital transformation they have going on, until it’s too late.

Let’s say your competition is suddenly closing twice as many sales as they were before. You do a bit of digging and find out that they’re using new software in their contact center that provides advanced reporting and analytics plus remote screen sharing to enable team-wide collaboration.

How long would it take you to put those same call center solutions into place? A week? A month? A year? You’re now playing catch up because you chose to wait.

How to Avoid it…
Focus on the needs of your own business before worrying about what your rivals are doing. If your business can be improved by digital transformation, then do it! Stay ahead of your competition and make them catch up to you.

3. Focusing on ‘What’ Instead of ‘Why’

Digital transformation is exciting. You get to invest in new, exciting technology. However, if you’re not careful, it can be very easy to end up focusing on what you’re going to invest in next and lose sight of why you need to invest in it.

Biometric technology throughout the building and VoIP phones on every desk sounds great! But they only make sense if your business actually needs them. If they don’t enhance your business, then they’re just a resource drain taking up funds that could have been invested in something else. Like offering superior customer service, for instance.

How to Avoid it…
Instead of making a list of all of the gadgets and software you’d like to use, make a list of the problems that you’re trying to solve. This way, you’re focusing on your business’ needs. By doing this, any digital transformation strategies that you put in place will actually serve a purpose.

For instance, you may want to reduce call handle times in your contact center to boost customer satisfaction. With that aim in mind, you can find the best tech solutions for the task.

5 Common Digital Transformation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Inline 2

4. Transforming Bit by Bit

The meaning of digital transformation has become somewhat diluted, but it’s important not to lose sight of what it is. It’s right there in the name. Transformation.

Transformation isn’t gradually implementing digital strategies here and there. You can’t just invest in a video hosting platform and hope for the best. Transformation is changing the very structure of your business. It can be daunting, and it can be expensive. But you shouldn’t shy away from it.

It may be tempting to focus on just improving today, rather than taking a long term view of your business. It’s a little easier, it costs a little less. But ultimately it’s not enough to stay ahead of the competition.

How to Avoid it…

Budget. Find the funds to properly tackle digital transformation.You may need to shift around budget allocation or put some spend on hold. But this will future-proof your business for 2020 and beyond.

5. Getting Weighed Down in the Nitty-Gritty

It’s important to plan, but you don’t want to fall victim to analysis paralysis. Digital transformation is about doing, not planning.

Endless and unnecessary planning will slow down the transformation process. You run the risk of falling behind your rivals, and your plans may end up out of date. Digital customer service is changing constantly. If you spend 18 months planning, your goals will have changed and you’ll need to start over again.

How to Avoid it…

Understand that digital transformation involves experimentation. You won’t necessarily get everything right the first time around, but there’s no problem with that. Aim for a minimum viable product and get it out there! You can then improve and evolve this with testing and feedback.

5 Common Digital Transformation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them Inline 3

Implementing a solid digital transformation strategy won’t be easy, and you’ll almost certainly run into issues along the way. But by avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll put your business in the best position to improve your customer experience, stay ahead of the competition, and embrace the digital world.

Deliver personalized, effortless customer service.

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