For the second time in 2021, Martyn again hands over the baton. This time our guest host is Kate Zawerucha, Verint’s own Customer Analytics Engagement Manager for APAC. In this episode Kate speaks to Lindsay Carapella a CX expert with more than 12 years experience in the industry. Kate and Lindsay discuss the changing mindset in customer analytics over the last few years and the rising visibility of analytics teams as strategic advisory units. Lindsay provides some insights in to how she maintains a good work / life balance and reveals a love for Patti Smith
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In conversation with . . . is a series of podcasts from Verint featuring chats and discussions with leading figures from the contact centre, CX and customer engagement industry across the Asia Pacific region.
Martyn: Hello and welcome to In Conversation With a series of podcast from Verint featuring chats and discussions with leading figures from the context centre, CX and customer engagement industry. During this series, we want to find out what customer service organisations are doing during these challenging times, and try and discover what it is that drives the leaders in this space and what makes them tick. My name is Martyn Riddle. As well as being your host for this series, I’m also Verint’s Vice President of Marketing for the Asia Pacific region.
This is our second podcast for 2021. Once again, I’m going to hand over the reins of the show to the guest presenter, Audrey William, Principal Analyst at ecosystm, did a great job hosting this year’s first episode. Chatting with Verint’s Senior Vice President of global marketing, Ryan Hollenbeck. This week, we have another guest presenter sitting in the host chair. With nearly two decades in the industry and experience working on CX projects across multiple continents, it’s my pleasure to welcome Katie Zawerucha, Verint’s very own customer analytics manager for the APAC region.
Kate, hello, I welcome you to the show. I understand you have a wonderful guest lined up for today.
Katie: Hi, Martyn. Thank you. We do indeed. Today, it’s with great pleasure to welcome to the podcast, Lindsay Carapella, who is a CX leader in the outsourcing industry. Lindsay has a wealth of experience in CX insights and analysis. Welcome, Lindsay.
Lindsay: Thanks, Kate. Thanks, Martyn. Great to be here.
Katie: Lindsay, let’s start talking about your career a little bit. You’ve worked in the CX space for BPOs in a variety of roles over the last 10 years, from quality and compliance, customer experience and insights management. Can you tell us a little bit more about your background and how you got started in CX?
Lindsay: Yes, absolutely. My introduction into CX really evolved from the previous roles and some of the ones that you’ve mentioned that I held within the quality and compliance space in the BPO industry. In the quality and compliance, we were really looking at our interactions with a process and policy lens, which absolutely suited me because my tertiary studies saw me studying Information Management. About six years ago, our organisation really started to shift our focus to the customer and not the policy in isolation.
We wanted to look at the customer, their relationship to a brand, how they’re feeling, what their behaviours are, their patterns of engagements looking at why they do what they do. Really in a bid for us to help our clients develop the best offering for their customers. It really appealed to me because it again was looking at something that I was quite passionate about in terms of providing experience, but also that analytics. As I mentioned, information management side of things.
That’s how it’s evolved up until today where we’re. Then it saw me develop programmes and products underpinned by technology, which really focused on delivering operations with insights into their customers in a bid to provide that more relevant products and services for our clients.
Katie: It’s interesting, we quite often find that people who work in CX leader roles, it’s very rarely a career path for them. It’s not something they’ve set out to do. We all seem to fall into this space because we have a passion for people and for doing right by our customers.
Lindsay: Absolutely. That’s certainly what happened with me. There wasn’t actually a CX role in our organisation at that time. It developed as we saw the needs of our clients develop. It was really about just being inquisitive and passionate and excited about helping to innovate. It’s certainly been my experience, and I think like yourself and others in the industry, has been theirs as well.
Katie: We see the CX industry evolving continuously. What changes have you seen in the way customers are engaging with organisations over this period?
Lindsay: I see a lot of changes, Kate, in the last 10 years in particular. I think there’s a few things and I feel like it’s really driven by the customers and their experiences. It’s about how organisations have really adopted an engagement strategy to be exactly that, more engaging with their clients. I think organisations have shifted to be more proactive with their engagement, rather than reactive. If I cast my mind back to 10 years ago where we’re sitting in a service line taking calls for a telecommunications company.
That organisation wasn’t proactively engaging their clients if there was something that’s gone wrong. We sat and waited for the customers to ring us to report the problem. I think there’s also been a real shift, and it’s exciting and it’s good for customers is that organisation’s to drive to educate and equip their customers with the knowledge and tools that they need to be able to serve themselves and give their customers a bit of autonomy in managing their own products and services.
I think that’s really in line with the digital economy that we all live in as consumers. I think that in line with that, there’s been a huge shift of channels, in terms of how we engage and interact to have more digital options. That’s not in spite of or in lieu of voice because that’s still a heavily utilised channel. I think organisations have really changed the number of options of channels that they give their customers to interact with them.
Katie: I agree completely. Based on the changes that we’ve seen over this time, have you seen changes in the way CX programmes are operating? What would you say would be the biggest change that you’ve seen?
Lindsay: I think the biggest change would be that there are CX programmes operating. I think more and more organisations, as you’ve mentioned, are creating roles and developing teams that are solely focused on looking at the customer and the landscape that they live in and that we provide services to.
I think that’s probably the biggest change is you’re seeing lots of these customer roles that are really now more prevalent than I would say less than 10 years ago. They are working not in solo but they’re working very much cross-functional to other departments so that what they’re delivering and what is insightful is actually something that is actionable to make change for the organisation.
Katie: I completely agree, the drive for digital and the rise of CCOs has definitely had a very positive impact on the industry over the last five years or so. I read an article recently about organisations reducing their reliance on direct customer feedback over the last 12 months. Given the challenging times we’re in, you may not necessarily want to offer an NPS or CSAT results from a customer who you’re asking for a mortgage repayment from if you know that they’re now in a vulnerable position due to a job loss or something similar.
We’re starting to see they were using employee feedback to augment their CX programmes. We’re starting to see a bit of a trend in organisations becoming more introspective in the way customer data is being collected to drive insights in CX programmes. Is this something that you’ve seen a change to a more introspective view around what data is collected and the channels it’s collected through?
Lindsay: Absolutely, I think we have programmes that utilise employee experience as one of the data sets for their insights. I think the trick here though is that one shouldn’t be introspective to cut the nose off of being looking externally. I think what’s really key there is about having a holistic view of the landscape. Employee experience in your data set is critical because that’s that they are essentially our customers and they’re servicing our customers on the front line.
Their feedback, their being able to harness their ideas about the interaction process, our policies, our systems, is critical in continuing to deliver the right service. I think from a CX programme and an insights point of view, there are so many different sources of data that can be jigsawed together to build that holistic view. I would agree that our voice of the customer programmes and our surveys are not the end-all and be-all anymore. I think that’s a positive thing because that data, although it can be insightful, it is very much in isolation of a particular transaction or an experience.
We’re seeing people now not ask satisfaction pre-pandemic as well, I would say over the last two and a bit years. Organisations are asking their customers about effort, which is a better indicator, and I think a more leading indication of someone’s engagement with a brand and their longevity with a brand, how easy it is. I’ve seen that being asked in 2020, amped-up is what are the metrics that people are looking at, and capturing insights from. Certainly, I think employee experience being a little bit more navel-gazing has been really important.
I think to do that, you still have to be able to harness all of the different data sources you have available to you, internally and externally, to build that picture of the CX landscape.
Katie: With the different channels and data being collected, has that correlated with changes to drivers for the delivery of customer analytics across organisations?
Lindsay: I think the need for cus tomeranalytics in organisations is greater now than it has been throughout my career. If we think 2020 in isolation, it’s simply to stay relevant as a brand or as a service. So much has changed the way that businesses just operate and their offerings has had to shift dramatically in 2020. Just to say in business these organisations, have had to really focus on the customer, some probably kicking and screaming a little bit because it means potentially shifting to digital or shaking up how we operate our process and policies.
I think what then where the customer analytics comes in as it helps provide an qualifying quantify what those shifts should be. Looking more future and strategic and help make decisions that are quick and relevant, but then also to be able to utilize analytics, to be able to reflect on that change quickly to make almost an agile way make an assessment of, did that change work? Did it drive the positive impacts or was it actually did it hinder our customers? I think organisations are going towards analytics to help do that at large volumes and with the right level of resourcing and equipment to be able to do so quickly.
Katie: Do you think that the change in drivers has also impacted the visibility of analytics programs and potentially the perceived value of customer data analysts and analytics teams within organisations?
Lindsay: Yes, absolutely. I think so. To a degree, I think there’s still some organisations that in my experience that I see that are maybe going a little bit slower in this space and will very quickly be left behind. I think you see more leaders in organisations talking about insights, talking about communicating the findings not just within the organisation, but publicly as well. Sharing the journey of that. We’ve organisations sending out emails to say, “We’ve noticed this many products were sold this week and that’s compared to this many this time last year,” or, “We can see a needs that you have told us that you want this service and so this is what we’re doing as an organisation to deliver that to you.”
I think certainly as a consumer and as a CX professional, I have seen that more readily available, that type of communication, in the past 12 months. I also see that there’s more cross-functional teams happening, less solos, not a complete disintegration of solos, because I think that can be quite challenging in large organisations, but certainly seeing teams that typically wouldn’t be working directly together are doing so and have more buy-in and engagement with those CX programs. It could be from marketing. It could be maybe a technical support teams are now part of the CX program because they’re there to actually deliver something that is relevant and now.
Katie: It’s certainly something that service providers really do need to embrace most definitely. Do you see anything else that you think providers really need to embrace moving forward or to improve on in regards to customer engagement, keep up the pace with how quickly the landscape changes?
Lindsay: Yes, I think there’s a few things. For me, one of the biggest thing is about the communication to our people. I use people in a broad sense. That’s our employees, but certainly our customers as well. It’s about communicating clearly effectively relevance. That’s probably the word of my day today is have relevant communication to really engage your customers. We’re in a time where things are just so uncertain and things change so quickly just in life that having that steady engagement is comforting from a brand, I think, as a consumer. I think that if you don’t have a clear communication strategy in place, I would recommend just look at that and not just purely marketing, but how we’re just engaging our customers.
The other is it goes back to my quality days and quality and compliance days is for organisations to be less process and policy-focused and more focused on what the best outcome is for the customer. It’s scary to say that because some people hear that and think, “Well, that means we increase our risk because we’re lowering our compliance and regulatory requirements,” but that’s not what I’m suggesting at all. Instead, what I’m suggesting is have a look at the process and policies that are in your organisation that have probably been in there since you started yourself and it’s one of those processes that people say, “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.”
I challenge you to have a look at those and see, “Well, actually, do they hinder our agents or our employees from servicing the customer to the best outcome? Is it just add many, is it too complex? How do we simplify and make the experience effortless for both our employees and for our customers?” I think that’s really one of the key things that I think that service providers really need to look at to stay relevant, moving forward.
Katie: I love that idea. Often as service providers, we evolve our processes without really looking at the holistic impact. Being able to take a step back and say, “How does that actually impact both our agents and our customers?” I think is really important.
Lindsay: Yes, absolutely.
Katie: A little bit of a shameless plug here. You’ve always been a very active participant in the current speech analytics user forums, they presented several times both in our user forums and at our engaged conferences, how important are these events and these knowledge sharing sessions with you been with your peers.
Lindsay: I can’t go wrong with a shameless plug. I’m happy with that. That’s all good.
Katie: Thank you.
Lindsay: That has been incredibly important for me over the years. I have, as you mentioned, been fortunate enough to present at the different forums but also being an attendee is it has really helped, I think, strengthen my skill sets as a CX professional, but also our overall organisation deliverables to our clients in this space. One of the things that I think about is I’ve always taken away from those sessions, the opportunity to benchmark our own programs and approach and outputs because it’s with a group of people that were utilizing the same technology. We probably have similar clients or industries that we’re servicing, but what does their program deliver that potentially ours doesn’t and vice versa?
The other thing is obviously to get new ideas. It’s always great to learn from people again, we probably we’re problem-solving the same common issue or challenge, but we’re getting different perspectives and approaches and that can really only lead to us making sure that we’re questioning what we do to make sure that it’s delivering the best it can. Lastly, it’s about building those relationships and having a bit of a community. We’re all a little bit nerdy, but that’s okay because it’s our little community of like-minded thinkers and operators.
That’s always been really great. There’s been times after some of those forums where people that I’ve only just met but maybe new into the analytics world or the CX space have reached out and we’ve been able to build a bit of a professional rapport where they’re now a sounding board and vice versa, which we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do that and then build that relationship if it weren’t for those sessions.
Katie: We are very lucky in that we have a very tight community of users here in Australia. Most definitely.
Katie: I’m going to change to tract a little bit here and ask some personal questions [chuckles]. How have you found that your life, like everyday life, has changed over the last year?
Lindsay: Well, it’s definitely more sweat pants than Slack’s on a daily basis, but I’m actually not complaining about that. That’s been a positive change, I think, but I think for me, it’s just really changed the way– I think my life has just changed in the simple fact of how I interact with people. Gone are those days of that incidental socializing that happens when you’re out in the world and you’re on public transport or you’re shopping in stores or just being out and about working in an office, obviously in a space with other people. For me, that’s been a bit of a big change and I would say it’s probably been challenging. I would say for others, it’s been a bit challenging. Also spend a lot more time with my partner, because we’re both here working from home which has been great. If that could also be a change in it and a shift of your day-to-day rhythm.
Katie: What’s been your strategy in maintaining that work-life balance when you’re leaving and working with the same people all day.
Lindsay: That’s definitely been a challenge. I’d love to hear other’s strategies as well. For me, one of the key things that I’ve done is held myself to a shift as though I was getting up and going into the office and have a hard start and end time for the day. At that end time, the laptop actually gets turned off because the worst thing is just sitting here trying to have your tea and chat or watch some TV and you can hear your emails pinging on in the background. That was one of the ways because otherwise, the laptop’s in front of you all the time. That was one of the things that I’ve really made sure that I’ve done.
Something else that I truly believe in, which may not be popular, and this is pre-pandemic as well, unless it’s a work phone, I don’t think you should have work on your mobile phone, your personal phone. No emails, no messaging, nothing like that so that you have that actual physical separation of work to your personal space.
Kate: I’d certainly agree with that one, too.
Kate: 2021 is shaping up already to be a very interesting year exciting, but interesting. What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?
Lindsay: Well, I think there’s lots of different things. New Year feels like a fresh haircut. Anything’s possible now. I’m excited for some change. For me, there’s some personal change coming and I’m excited about that. I’m just excited to see what happens and how people continue to innovate in the landscape that we’re in. I’m very hopeful, at some point to be able to see my family who is overseas, but I think that’s a bit more of a pipe dream for 2021. I’m keeping the face for that as well.
Kate: Fingers crossed… If you had to choose a theme song for 2020, what song do you think you would choose?
Lindsay: That’s a great question. I think there’s probably many a number of COVID adjacent songs that people could choose. One is that the police. I think it’s don’t stand so close to me. That’s a good example because I didn’t know that they thought of, a pandemic being related to that song. However, because, I’m from the states originally and so it’s been an interesting time, over there. Just recently, with the events of the election and the inauguration just yesterday, there’s a real positive change to come back home. Patti Smith, one of my all-time favourites, she has the song, people have the power. It’s been my mantra for the last couple of weeks, a couple of months. I think that’s, I’m going to go out on a positive, and that the people have the power.
Kate: I love that. I love that a lot. Positive things ahead.
Kate: Lindsay, it has been great talking with you today. Thank you for sharing your insights around trends in the CX space. It looks like a year full of opportunities, both in your personal life and your career. I hope you have a fantastic 2021 and I wish you all the best. You stay safe.
Lindsay: Thank you so much, Kate. You as well. That’s wonderful. Thank you.