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The CX Broadcast

Value of Customer Satisfaction in the Emerging B2B Landscape

In this episode, we delve into the exciting world of customer experience and how Webex improves it while staying true to its vision. Join us as we explore customer journeys, the role of Customer Advisory Boards in shaping experiences, and how feedback and product design work together.

Karthik Srivatsa
Karthik Srivatsa Customer Experience Consultant at Cisco

 

TranscriptValue of Customer Satisfaction in the Emerging B2B Landscape

How Webex Works on Improving Customer Experience without shaking its Visionary Grounds?

Niharika Sharma: 

Hi everyone. As we all know in today's business world where tech companies are on the rise and thousands of new businesses are coming up creating products and services that are aimed at helping thousands of companies giving gaining advantage over this overly competitive market. And while the impact of technological is advancements on businesses undebatable, I think it's time for us to switch our focus and examine its value to the lives of customer.

With that being said, we are going to talk about the value of customer satisfaction in the emerging B2B space. And we thought it's a great idea to have Kartik Srivatsa, who's coming in with a decade of impeccable experience in the industry and he now specializes in CX consulting for Cisco customers with a specific focus on contact centers. Hi, Kartik, how are you doing today?

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Hi, I'm Great Niharika. Hi and thank you for having me. Looking forward to a fruitful discussion.

Niharika Sharma: 

Lovely to have you here Kartik. And before we jump into it, I'd like to know how you have been doing since past few days. How's the Silicon Valley of India treating you, if it is still called that?

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah, Silicon Valley has been great. Cisco is one of the best places to work. We just won the great place to.

Work award three years in a row we are #1 running. They have extremely employee friendly policies and most people here, they just love working here so couldn't complain.

Niharika Sharma: 

Great. That's great to hear. I think enough with our introduction. 

Thank you for joining us Karthik and I'm pretty sure this is going to be a very insightful discussion on emerging customer experience landscape in the B to B space. So I would like to start off this conversation with the much heard topic surrounding customer experience, right. So we often hear that a good customer experience can bring a bunch of advantages to B to B companies.

There are some commonly used statements like good customer experience leads to higher chances of upsells and processes reduces and largely improves customer satisfaction. What I would like to know from you is how you at Webex are working on improving customer experience without shaking its visionary grounds.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Right, so. Cisco has an overarching CX team that looks at brand Cisco in terms in the customer's eyes how Cisco is being viewed right. But then as you go deep dive into individual products like Webex, Webex has its own CX team. Webex, just to let you know, it's a suite of products, right? There's Webex calling, Webex Meetings and a bunch of other softwares including Webex Contact Center for which I'm a part of right now. Webex Contact Center again has a CX team which looks at how the contact center software is being used by customers. Where are the gaps? What is it that we are not doing right? What is it that we are doing well? 

And we also collaborate internally with other teams like UX research, UX design teams and publish the findings internally saying that, hey, you know what, these are the things that we are doing very well and these are the things that we need to focus on and we're just getting started. There's a long way to go and hopefully we'll be able to add value by being. By being the eyes and ears of our customers.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely, absolutely. And I think in this scenario, we can also draw inspiration from a lot of companies that have made their mark in terms of creating customer experience for their customers. There are some great examples like HubSpot, Xapir, IBM, FedEx and so on. And they're particularly known for their customer experience in the B to B domain. We now know from working in this domain that we to be companies and shaping up. Customer experience comes with their own set of challenges.

Karthik Srivatsa:

Yeah, yeah. And you know, the one company that I've always admired for customer experience is American Express, right? And I have their credit card and if you call them.

No matter what question I ask, the agent at the contact center is able to answer immediately without putting me on hold, transferring me to another agent saying we'll get back to you. Or sometimes I also from other companies I hear, send a picture with an e-mail and will respond to you within 24 48. It does nothing of that software, right? Because the agent who's using the contact center software has been given the ownership and the data and everything he or she needs to answer the customer and resolve the query immediately. So I think, which is why the contact center software that the agents are using plays such a critical role in delivering this experience.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely, absolutely, totally completely agree with it and I'd like B2C scenarios. B2B customer experience is a little. I feel it has a little added complexity and then but then again comes with their own set of challenges and then again coming up with a strategy in order to tackle that also identify opportunities of

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah

Niharika Sharma: 

improvement is what could help us curate better customer experiences of that sort completely to it.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Absolutely, absolutely.    

Evaluating Customer Journey in the B2B Landscape

Niharika Sharma: 

So, yeah, Karthik and I think I do believe there are even begin problems with the evolution of customer experience that demands that demands of customer experience are shifting with every two 3/4 the trends are emerging, there are multiple changes that are happening in the CX landscape. I think the budget cycle for tech leaders and the ability to invest capital and to figure out where they need to. 

We in terms of what newer trends will hold for them and most importantly the time it takes to implement those changes, how does an organization beat that and at least do the bare minimum to retain their customers by taking their input at multiple touch points in the pipeline. So what would you like to say about that?

Karthik Srivatsa:

Right. The trends, the wins will always keep shifting when it comes to CX right and a method that is that works today will be outdated next month. In fact, a couple of years ago collecting primary feedback from customers, it's no longer an option today because none of the customers have the patience to sit and answer your questions right. So if.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely

Karthik Srivatsa: 

The length of the questionnaire was 2025 questions 3-4 years ago. Now it has come down to seven even if customers have the the patience to answer 7 questions right so, but we always try and keep the questions as pointed and only ask those where the data we get from the customers we actually planning to do something with it right? 

Any data that is not you're not gonna work on, you should not be asking any questions. So practices like this, simple practices, so you have to adapt with the times, right? You have to assume that going forward customers won't even answer to all three questions. And then all the things that you need, you need to get from analytics, from the data that you have, from your customer database and then figure out other ways of getting data. So you have to be prepared for that as well.

Niharika Sharma: 

Thank you, Absolutely

Karthik Srivatsa: 

So these changes are important to keep an eye out, but one thing that won't change is if you the approach in which you're going to have the entire CX program, right? That is the customer journey approach. Now within the journey approach, the methodologies used might change, but the approach itself I think is a good yardstick to have. A journey approach sounds very simple, right? 

Niharika Sharma: 

Mm-hmm. All right.

Karthik Srivatsa:

So what happens during the journey approach is that you put yourself in the shoes, in your customer's shoes, right? And then imagine everything the customer is going through right from beginning to end. Now that it sounds very simple, but it's hard. It's very hard because you miss a lot of nuances and by the time you end the journey approach, you'd be like, is this what I was doing? So I'm so sorry one second and then by the time you end the journey approach, you'll be like, I missed this, I missed this, and these are the things that you wouldn't have even thought of.

But when you put yourself in customer shoes, that is where, So for example, let's say we were servicing airline insurance customers, right? And a journey for an airline would be right from the time the customer considers your airline and starts booking a ticket up until he does check in, boarding all that and then arrives at an airport, departs. From the airport, right? Till that time it's it's one journey and you have to make sure that the measurable parts of the journey needs to be measured, right.

Anything that can be measured like how much time the customer spent on the website booking the ticket was there any so, so you'll have to simulate the entire thing yourself and then walk in their shoes and then after you do that that thing needs to be scaled up to ensure that the model of journey that you're using can be actually applied to 100,001 million customers, right? So that approach should not change, hopefully in the near future. But within that, like I said, there will be nuances of collect the way you collect the data, how many questions you ask, you'll have to change those with the times.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely. And I think as you just mentioned, being in the shoes of customers and thinking like them would actually make a lot of difference in curating those personalized customer experience for them and of course, leading into a scalable customer experience strategies.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah, yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And typically in the journey approaches, you'll see a lot of advice given on LinkedIn and anywhere, but you should ideally go and ask people who have actually implemented it. It's really, really hard, right? In order to not miss anything that the customer would ideally miss, because we take a lot of things for granted.

We think that this is, I've known, I know this customers and we've gotten questions from customers, clients, when why do we need this. We already know how our customer would react and all that. But that is where I think as companies you'll have to push and say that you know what we know, you know, but just to be sure let's have this journey approach, let's implement the end to end journey so that we don't miss anything.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely. And I think with every customer. So when when we're trying about, when we are talking about collecting, collecting data around customer journey with different customer, of course every customer is not going to think like you know, think alike. And then there's going to be multiple instances where the amount of data that we are collecting would differ from customer to customer. And then that's also another point that I feel should be considered while you know,

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah

Niharika Sharma: 

referring quality of data over the quantity of data and then not making general assumptions around it so.

Karthik Srivatsa:

Absolutely, absolutely. And one way to actually increase the quality of data is to have metadata about all your customers in your database and then merge it with the data that you're collecting via the feedback. Right when I say metadata, it's about the customer's behavioral data, which otherwise would just lie in your database. But if you pick it up and then combine with the feedback, you can mine a lot more insights than looking at the feedback data alone.

Niharika Sharma: 

Yeah, Absolutely. I think that becomes a powerful house of information for us to work upon and create better customer experiences for our customers. Completely agree to that. I think I'll pause here.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah, Absolutely.

Significance of Customer Advisory Boards in Shaping Customer Experience

Niharika Sharma:

Thank you, Karthik. I think that those were some great insights on customer journey and how we can make use of data around creating better customer experience for our set of customers and you know operating in the different industries at the same time. Now I would want to understand there are a lot of companies that are coming up with customer advisory boards.

And the significance of customer advisory boards in shaping customer experience has evolved over a period of time and one of the key things that play a significant role in again shaping this experience for customers being the cap. For those who might not know about it, would you like to explain a little bit about it and what it does for the company? How often do you run them at Cisco in this case and what is it that you do in order to keep the engagement and ensure that you get most out of those customer Advisory Board meetings? What are the insight that guides you during your processes?

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Right, right. Advisory boards, like the name suggests, it's basically a liaison between your external customers activities and the internal management, right? You act like the eyes and ears of your customers. See externally of course, like I said, you have to implement an end to end journey based approach, collect data, mine insights. So that part is of course there. But for advisory boards the more important and equally important rather part is to convince people internally on.

Taking the customer feedback seriously, right? In most situations, what we see is that the organizations are kind of scared of the data, especially if they're not doing well the moment they see an NPS or a CSAR score or any customer sentiment. And they're like, this cannot be our customers and there's something wrong with the method, something wrong with the survey. So they look at everywhere, But rather, that's the reality, right? So internally, when you are the customer advisory boards, you have to convince the management and the stakeholders that you should not be scared of the data, right? That's the starting point. Acceptance of the data of the reality is equally important, even if you are not doing well, because this Advisory Board is there, It will only get better.

So you'll have to pump in the confidence to the internal stakeholders, whole trainings, maybe group discussions to educate them what we are doing, why we are doing and basically tell them this is not a finger pointing exercise, right or your team is not doing well, your team is not doing well, but we are here to help you help our customers. So don't be afraid of the data, that's one thing.

Niharika Sharma: 

Ofcource, Absolutely

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Secondly, the program must be extremely simple, right? And it should be able. If you want to explain it to a kid, you should be able to explain it to a kid. It should be that simple because the moment you bring in complexity like statistics and data and weights and whatnot, it will scare off your internal stakeholders, right? So we had this customer who had this complex algorithm to implement scores for their branches.

Niharika Sharma:

Absolutely

Karthik Srivatsa: 

And the bank managers who are in charge of those branches did not understand what how the scores were calculated, right. They applied weights, they applied this, they looked at the number of people coming into the bank and all that. All that is fine. But when you're telling a bank manager, hey, you know what, out of five, this is your rating, what your customers have given you, this is where you can improve and these are the things you're doing well. That's it, right?

Extremely simple program, don't overcomplicate it. And of course another thing is when you're running the program, the Customer Advisory Board or the CX teams or wherever you're part of, you need to ensure the data is not sitting in silos, right? It cannot be that there is a separate team collecting data for let's say in the case of a bank with different branches, there's a team collecting in product feedback, there's a team doing UX research, and then there's a CX team. So all this needs to be in one place so that everything together gels well and gives actionable insights. So these are some of the things I think internally the customer Advisory Board needs to do. Externally, of course, like I said, the journey and implementing the CX program is always there.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely. And I think being open to constructive feedback in this case would actually help the company to be, you know, better with the product, come out with new feature releases, which would again help the customer and then it will again help the business to get bigger in terms of size and operation and so on and so forth. So absolutely, absolutely agree to it.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah, Absolutely

How Feedback Plays out while Shaping the Product Design and User Experience

Niharika Sharma: 

So thank you Karthik for being insightful about customer advisory boards. Im sure this is going to be very knowledgeable for a lot of our audiences and listeners.

So we we spoke about customer Advisory Board collecting information and then processing it in terms of feedback to the company and businesses and then helping them with product advancements and so forth, so on and so forth basically giving them an opportunity to grow holistically. So here again picking out on a minute topic out of this blanket topic, how do you think the feedback plays out while shaping the product, designing and designing the.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah, no, that's feedback is extremely critical for UX design. Now UX teams, they usually lean on us for let's say see, I would say it's 70% data and 30% art.

Okay, because the 30% art part of it, the UX teams are very well versed. They look at common sense and reducing the number of clicks. So when you're designing a product, there is something that just feels and sounds right, right. But there are nuances where you have to lean on other teams on how the usage is going.

To be fair, they usually UX teams also have their own research teams where they shadow people and see how the product is being used, what is being done, what is not being done, and then they try to simulate that workflow back into the product. But there is also a big part of it where a customer, especially a customer who is let's say more concerned or I wouldn't say concerned. They're more into using your product, right? And they feel that your product can do better things, which would help them, the business case customers who are more matured in using your product, right. Those types of customers actually give you really, really good feedback.

And you have to keep your eyes open for that because these are something, because they're the ones using the product and the use cases come to them more than to you. You can imagine certain use cases, create personas and then list down what all the activities the persona does. But then the customer who's actually has the personas and use cases will come and say, hey, you know what, this is good, but this is missing, right?

So one of the things was, I can't, I can't reveal specifics, but basically but basically in UX, right. So we've had this activity that typically people perform after, you know when we were in Croucher, right, I meant the startup. So people used to have this thing where.

They used to send out e-mail, surveys and stuff like that, but then the time for sending those out was something that we designed. The product team obviously designed a very well thing, but then there were time differences in, we had customers all over the world, right? So there were differences in Asia, Europe, Middle East and US.

Now sometimes the survey, because the survey processing time was more, sometimes the service would end up in the middle of the night and then customers would not be able to look at it or that would drive down your response rate. So we did have this one customer who came back to us and say you know what, you need to process more service per minute. So those kind of inputs and feedback is something that we can't imagine, but the customers will have it.

Of course there is a line to be drawn. There are some customers who are overbearing. They will come and say I need this, I want this. This is a deal breaker for me. Why are you not giving me this? If it doesn't fit into your product landscape and the future that you're envisioned for the product, you have to push back. But then you should also have the maturity.

To look at those feedback from the customers, which are, hey, you know what, this is actually a good addition to my product. So a good product manager and CX teams, they work together, they should be able to do that. So it's extremely, extremely critical to look at UX through the CX feedback.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely, And I think it would be true to say that a part of it what's happening is that an average customer is looking out for more tech and more only channel digital experience. And I feel it of course puts the tech leaders on the spot and as I just mentioned where where the customers are very heavily demanding in terms of what criterias or what factors are you know being considered as deal Breakers for them. And then they, I know run run towards you and then thats where the product managers come in and try to balance out the situation.

And I also feel there's a need for adding tech leaders into those conversations from the initial point where the conversation of course starts and the whole idea of surrounding customer experience from the very beginning, which can make it easy for cross team collaboration and when it comes to working specifically on improving customer experiences as well so.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Absolutely, In fact, in fact the link from UX to CX to management, it should be as short as possible because. And of course there's also PM's product managers because there has to be a mechanism of giving these feedbacks as and when you get it to the UX team and to the PM.

And also Uprising, the management of the benefits of this feedback and this is what the customer's asking and stuff like that. So that process needs to be very, very short, right? We can't sit on a feedback for three months and then say, hey, you know what, for the next cycle, let's pick this up, no.

It has to be done immediately so that if there is in the next Sprint, you're gonna come out with a feature and if this is what the customer's asking for is related to it, so you pick it up instantly so that the process needs to be shot.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely, absolutely. And of course cutting down on communication, making it simpler for the customer would of course lead to the elevated experience of curating customer experience for them and, that's what we're talking about in the podcast and that's how trying to focus on it, so absolutely OK.

Karthik Srivatsa:

Yeah

How Can We Calculate ROI for a B2B CX program?

Niharika Sharma: 

Great. So Karthik, we are almost on the verge of ending this podcast and I'm not getting a great feeling out of it, but unfortunately we'll have to stick to timelines. And so I'd like to ask you for the last and most important topic, which is calculating the ROI for a B to BC program, so can you just walk us through the whole idea of how one can calculate ROI for A B to B CX program? What are some of the common challenges and how do you take into account the long term benefits of creating this CX strategy in the bin of B to B space?

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Yeah. Yeah, very good question. ROI is extremely important. For any company, right, especially when you're running a CX program, it's imperative that you always look towards calculating the ROI. To be honest, the first couple of years is not going to be easy, right? You're still finding your feet and there are a lot of other costs coming in, so you don't know where. What is the exact permanent and flexible costs that are happening, right? And you also don't know if.

The customers, if I mean if your customers are reaping the benefit and then what is the revenue impact, right. So that needs to be settled down. So usually ROI is a long term thing, but let's say once the program has settled and everything is coming running smoothly, right, then 2-3 years down the line I think everybody who's running a CX program should look at an ROI.

ROI calculation in essence is very simple, right. It's basically the extra revenue generated minus the cost, but the nuances of which changes from company to company for a B2B, for a B2C, everything changes. So when you're looking at the revenue, you'll have to look at the retention the app sell, the cross sell, reduction in churn and also any loyalty points that you gain from customers.

All these needs to be factored into the revenue and of course your cost will be your overhead and employee costs and everything. Right now, ROI is typically 80% of your program can be quantified, right. So there will be this 20% of CX program where you take up small projects for which they won't really be an ROI or at least it's not measurable.

Right. So you will have to let that go. But for the management, you need to show that, hey, you know what, my program has been running for 3-4 years and this is what is our contribution to the bottom line and this is how much we have saved from new customer acquisitions, right, because we are retaining the old customers. So all those things will have to be calibrated and given to the management because.

We've seen this happen in our customers during our cloud sharing days. One fine day the management will say that, hey, you know what you're showing us The same data points, same NPS scores, the CSAT scores for the past 2-3 years, right? It may have increased or decreased, but what are we getting out of it, right? And they will wake up. And when things are especially going bad and they need to cut down on cost, they will immediately look at the CXTM and say, why are we paying so much for a vendor? Why are we doing this?

Can we save cost? Can't we run this internally in an excel sheet so all these things will come up. So you need to have an auto I model ready and typically some basic. We used to use some basic statistics like driver analysis that we used to link the NPS scores of customers.

Directly to the revenue, right. And it's possible it's basic statistical methodology you can use and it is possible to do that. So that program is extremely critical that you always need to have in the back of your mind the ROI and when can I show it and what is the benefit, how can I show the benefit to the management and tell them that this is what the increase in revenues has been, right?

So that's, yeah, it's it's very important.

Niharika Sharma: 

Absolutely, absolutely. And I think the whole idea of implementing a strategy is to evaluate it later and see how we are progressing over it and do we need to make any amendments or changes? Is it actually overbearing the cost of the program that we had earlier decided on and so on and so forth. So absolutely, I think ROI being the most important factor in terms of creating customer experience.

And then evaluating it further and then coming back to rethink, it is again extremely important. So thank you for.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Fact, in fact, I would even go ahead and suggest that it should be a part of the product because I've seen many products, especially B2B CX products where they show the ROI. The productize the ROI, right? You enter certain variables and it will tell you after a point of time how much you've saved.

So that makes it easier and that makes it a big hook for the customers, especially right at the time of sale. You can tell them that we have an auto I feature also. Frankly, we've never used it, we've never had it, but it looks interesting, so why not add it in the product also?

Niharika Sharma: 

Perhaps I see you doing that in the next couple of years.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

Let's see.

Niharika Sharma: 

So I think that this was a great, great conversation, Kartik. And I'm sure that the topic that we had covered today, which is the value of customer satisfaction in the emerging B2B markets is again very relevant to current times. Everybody is willing to put their heads around how to create better customer experiences for their, their set of customers. Everybody wants to think like a customer and then make them stand out in terms of curating.

Experiences for their clients, customers and then this would be extremely, extremely helpful for them and I had a blast. I enjoyed this conversation a lot and I would like to thank you and you are also kind enough to come on board and speak about good half an hour, one an hour and then.

That was lovely. Thank you so much.

Karthik Srivatsa: 

No problem Niharika. Always I enjoyed talking to people about CX, so this is a pleasure for me also.

Niharika Sharma: 

Yeah, I think that's a quality and a very, very distinguished characteristic of a CX leader, so thank you.