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  • Writer's pictureTamara McKenzie

EP6: The Past, Present & Future of CX with Somya Kapoor


In our conversation with Somya Kapoor, CEO and Co-founder of TheLoops, we delve into the evolution of CX from its beginnings to the present and future. One critical point that Somya emphasizes is the significance of contextualized data. She stresses the importance of not burdening the customer with finding their position in the product journey and avoiding exposing complexity to them. As well as the fact that she believes CX leaders play a vital role in advancing businesses, as they possess essential data from the front lines, which is valuable for product teams to align data management with the overall business strategy.



Is the customer always right?

Devon: We are discussing the evolution of CX today, so I'd love to start by asking you your thoughts on the old adage, “The customer is always right”.

Somya: You know, the customer is not always right. I would say, just to be a little bit controversial here.

Devon: I definitely believe sentiment is changing a bit, perhaps it's due to a cultural shift in the workforce. There's a lot of focus on the employee experience and how that translates to the customer experience. I see a growing, ability, to sever ties with difficult customers or customers where there isn't this mutually beneficial exchange between the customer and the company.

Somya: And that is true, right? That cut of ties only happens when you can give a proof of why we need to cut the tie, right? And because most of the time the frontline sales and marketing, had more data analysis to prove that we shouldn't be getting into a segment: "Look, the returns on the segments are not there". If CX folks are getting more contextualized data, or taking a data driven approach, they're able to get down to saying: “Look, this person is not paying us so much, but is consuming my organization downstream to an nth level. We are investing more than even what they're paying us for.” - And then you end up saying, "I've actually spent more than what this customer was paying for," But, that empowerment happens when you have systems that are giving you those kinds of insights. Where you are allowed to make those decisions.

It's all about the usage of the product and the experience that users are having within the product. And you're accountable for that, right? I think the mindset needs to shift from asking to get a seat at the table to demanding it and getting in there with facts. And the moment you get there with facts and numbers, you get a seat at the table.

Devon: There's a higher probability of getting a seat at the table in comparison to the past. Startups specifically rely on customer experience professionals for product feedback, user frustration, and market fit insights. This information is really valuable and some companies are listening to CX professionals and using their feedback to improve their products. The good companies at least are.

Somya: It's still a long way from the way marketing and sales has a seat at the table or success. But I think it's definitely getting there.

What companies are doing it right:

Somya: I just came back from Tesla. I gave them my car for servicing, and in that whole process, they had completely eliminated giving me an invoice. They got it signed and resolved in less than 30 minutes of me being there. Prior to Tesla, I had [redacted] and I had to take it in for servicing. I had to go to the service center. They gave me a form to fill out, which I had to fill in. Then they gave me this invoice. Then I had to give my credit card. Collect all that documentation, and half of the time it was lost, somewhere or the other. With Tesla, it was all automated, and the whole process changed. have a record of each and every one at any given point of time. It was just a click, click, click of a button. So, it's completely changing the dynamics of me consuming a product. I see Tesla a tech product. But how do we bring that experience into every element of, using a product? And I think CX leaders are at the epicenter of defining that and collaborating across organizations because retention is at the top of the mind of everybody today.

Devon: I find experiences like the one you described at Tesla, so fascinating. When those kind of things happen in my life, I become incredibly excited and even go as far as trying to find someone at the organization on LinkedIn. To learn about them, their personality— who they are personally, what kind of content they're posting. You know, that might seem a little borderline creepy, but those experiences are so valuable to me. In my opinion, they're often the result of somebody within the organization sitting down and mapping out the most frustrating experiences regarding X, Y, Z of whatever industry they're trying to disrupt.

I recently purchased a car from Carvana in September. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I could tell that they had created a customer journey map, which mapped out every possible problem or question a customer might have. In all of these questions I had were accessible to me as part of the onboarding process, and the buying process. I just was overall thoroughly impressed. I think about Carvana often and I wish them the best.

Don't put the burden on the customer!

Devon: You touched on something earlier though about the concept of contextualizing support data, and how it leads to improved customer experiences. Can you just elaborate on that a little bit more for us?

Somya: So when a support interaction happens, at that point the customer's already agitated or feeling the pain. Or, is in some level of discomfort— in terms of using your product or consuming your service, right? How, at that point, can you contextualize the data to provide a personalized experience? So they feel like, “Oh wow, this person really knows who I am!”. Secondly, also contextualize that data for your agents so they can better serve the customers. Or, spend more time serving the customer, as opposed to logging into 20 different screens to figure out, “Oh wait, where was that package that got lost? Oh, okay. Okay, let me log into that. Oh, and then from there, where did it go? There.” Okay. At that point I would say, “Dude, freaking, it’s your product! You should tell me where I am.”

Devon: Right. Yeah, that's the nightmare.

Somya: Don't put the burden on the customer to figure out where in the journey I am of using your product. Because you know my click streams, right? You know my product usage, you know who I am as a customer. So don't ask me to put my contact information or order ID number. I am in your portal and you can identify that. Connect that to a CRM system, get the details. And thirdly, drive insights. Understand the tone. Am I really frustrated? So you can calm the hell out of me. Secondly, don't put me on hold! Just get the context. Has this issue happened before? Have I been facing it 10 times? That instant expectation and that instant understanding, “It's okay. I don't expect you to resolve my issue right away, but I expect you to know where I'm coming from,” right? So that is all contextualization in the context of; where I was, what I was doing, and how you're gonna help me, really changes the experience that the customer is having with you. And in some levels, they're expecting you to know what they were doing before they asked for help. I think the ball has changed. The experience that some products are offering is fundamentally changing the dynamics of what we expect from every brand. So, that's the contextualization element. This contextualization is not just about offering a personalized experience, but also empowering everybody downstream in your organization with the issue that the customer faced.

Why are you exposing complexity to the customer?

Devon: Is the customer journey is becoming more complex and difficult to map?

Somya: There's an in-between answer. It is becoming difficult because of the siloed systems that you have and because of the siloed organizations you've created over a period of time. There are some companies doing really, really well. like I said, Tesla, right? Offering a great customer experience. Uber, I don't remember even calling a support number or ticket ever. I think, it is getting complex because products are getting complex. It is a dogma of siloed organization that's leading to the complexity. And why are you exposing complexity to the customer? You should take that away. So it's a mindset shift that needs to happen at the top level.

The Future of CX

Somya: Customer experience in the next, 1-5 years, we need to move away from this proactive self-help, to providing a much, much more personalized experience that needs to be in the product. If it's a SaaS solution, it needs to be in product, personalized, and definitely prescriptive in nature. And it definitely needs to move away from being looked upon as a cost center to a value driver. Support, or CX leaders, fundamentally will become the leaders if empowered with the right set of data. Folks that are providing insights, real-time insights to cross-functional teams like; success sales, to marketing, to product teams on an ongoing basis.


Timestamps

0:02:35 CX Professionals Gaining Influence and a Seat at the Table

0:05:59 The Value of Automation in Customer Service Experiences

0:07:43 Exploring the Impact of CX on Product Consumption

0:09:16 The Journey of Starting The Loops and a Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic

0:13:59 Leveraging Support Data to Enhance Customer Experiences

0:15:48 The Benefits of Contextualizing Customer Data for Improved CX

0:18:13 CX Professional Perspectives on Net Promoter Score and Streamlining the User Experience

0:20:32 The Evolution of NPS and the Importance of Customer Experience in Purchasing Decisions

0:21:51 Conversation on Customer Experience, Retention, and Loyalty Programs

0:26:32 Exploring the Future of Support Operations

0:28:25 The Role of CX Leaders in Leveraging Data to Drive Retention and Product Development

 

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