Cutting costs and driving efficiency is top of mind for businesses. That means support leaders have to be able to demonstrate the value CX brings. Maneesha Bhusal, 2022’s winner of the annual CX Leader of the Year award (which Ultimate proudly sponsors) shares her insights on measuring the benefits of better CS.
Q. How did you first get into customer support, and what inspired you to stay?
It took me 22 years to reach where I am today — and I certainly didn’t follow a linear path. I come from a technology background and worked as a developer before moving into serving clients as a technical, functional, presales, and business consultant. And finally I began running larger Business Operations teams.
In all of these roles, my work has centered around people. So when I had the opportunity to lead a CX team, it felt like a natural career move. As to why I’ve stayed — I simply enjoy what I do.
Q. Looking back, have you ever faced a challenge that changed the way you look at CX and how did you overcome it?
At one organization I worked with, there was this pressure to make the customer journey perfect from end-to-end. As a result the team was overwhelmed. I introduced the CX pyramid, where every issue with every touch point was mapped to a hierarchy of customer needs — allowing us to prioritize must-haves over nice-to-haves.
We started with places where we as a company were standing in the way of the customer and began eliminating these friction points. Then we moved our focus to areas where we saw opportunities to improve the experience. In simple terms, we shifted from fixing mode, to preventing mode, and then anticipating mode.
Q. You’ve said you believe “there is a solution to every customer problem, regardless of circumstances, capabilities, or budget.” What are your tips for delivering great CX with a limited budget?
Break everything down into little steps. Instead of focusing on the big wins, find small things that add up. For example:
- Reduce your overheads: You can make a substantial impact on your bottom line by streamlining processes, renegotiating terms with a supplier or vendor, adopting a more efficient method of operation, or otherwise working smarter.
- Find areas of leakage: I know organizations who receive millions of orders each year, but lose 30% or more due to customer cancellations — this might be due to delivery issues, damaged goods, or payment problems.
- Change the mindset of your team: How could you and your coworkers do your jobs differently, so that your company is more attractive to customers? Can you improve quality, price, service, or speed? What can you do to make sure your company is meeting customers’ demands?
Identify which are people issues, process issues, technology issues, and cultural mindset issues. 60% of problems do not need additional investment to be resolved. The goal is not to make the end-to-end interaction with customers perfect, but to perfect the touch points that matter most to your customers.
Q. How does investing in CX actually end up delivering more value to companies?
Every interaction, whether online or offline, contributes towards the experience a customer has with your brand. Be consistent and be predictable. If a customer has a good experience with your company, you will be their first choice for future purchases.
“If a customer has a bad experience, not only will they not come back — but they’ll do even more damage by sharing their experience with others.”
Delivering better CX by solving customer problems quickly means improved retention and the impact on improved customer satisfaction (CSAT), net promoter score (NPS), and repurchase rate (RR) will become obvious in time.
Customers who stay longer with your brand also spend more with your brand. Equally, loyal customers will bring in new business via referrals or word of mouth, further reducing the cost of acquiring new customers. There’s no doubt that investing in CX delivers substantial value to companies.
Read more on maximizing the ROI of your CS
Q. As a Director of CX, what customer service success metrics are most important to you and why?
I don’t have one metric that is more important than others. It's all about what is critical for the business and good for CX at a given point in time.
We map all of the interactions throughout the customer journey to different touch points. At every touchpoint, we define what should be measured and why. Then we identify any areas where there’s room for improvement. We prioritize these issues using a customer hierarchy of needs and choose 3-5 issues to be resolved every quarter — this keeps us focused.
Ultimately, the end goal is to create a culture that allows businesses to shift from fixing mode, to preventing mode, and then to anticipating mode.
Q. How has your perception of AI and automation for customer service evolved over time?
It hasn’t. The fundamentals of good customer service doesn't change: Customers are human and CX revolves around people’s emotions. The human touch at the center of CX excellence is a must.
“Experiences can be enhanced with AI, and certainly must be if businesses want to take their customer service to the next level. Having said that, AI cannot replace human connection.”
Q. What is the one trend or approach in CX that every organization should be implementing?
We underestimate the importance of listening to customers. Customers and their needs are constantly evolving and without active and consistent listening, it’s impossible for any organization to get an edge. Arrange customer voice listening programs for all employees — from frontline staff to the CEO. Take everyone on this journey to hear customers’ voices and be in their shoes!
Listening to customers will lead to more meaningful discussions about preventive and corrective action. Not just that, but it will also strengthen interdepartmental collaboration and prioritization.
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