What is Modern Customer Engagement? (with Verint CEO) | CXOTalk

What is Modern Customer Engagement? (with Verint CEO)  | CXOTalk

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The idea of Verint when we started was  to bring inside some unstructured data,   and we've been working at this now for 27  years. It's still a very difficult and complex   exercise, but the benefits (when you bring  in all that data and harness the data)   are enormous because it's really a goldmine. We're talking about customer engagement with   Dan Bodner, CEO and Chairman of the  Board of Verint. Dan, tell us about   Verint and tell us about your role as well. Verint is headquartered in Melville, New York.   It's powered by more than 4,000 dedicated  professionals who are focusing on customer   engagement. The company started in 1994, and  we went public in 2002, so we are on the Nasdaq  

exchange with close to $900 million of revenue. We have more than 10,000 customers around the   world, and these are across many industries,  so you'll find financial services, insurance,   healthcare, government, telecom, retail – B2C  companies, business-to-consumer companies.   We have 85% of the Fortune 100 as customers,  so you will recognize many brand names   such as Mastercard or HSBC, Cigna, Humana,  Verizon, AT&T. What's common to all these  

customers is that they have a very large  number of consumers that they service, so   customer engagement is very, very important  for them. It's critical to their business.  Customer engagement and customer experience  have become real buzzwords. You've been   involved in this field for years and years  (before most people have heard those terms).  What's interesting about the market, it's changed  quite a bit over time from what used to be very   telephony-centric customer service and very  reactive to one that is now across many,   many different channels (digital and  social) and more proactive customer service.  The strategy in Verint is mostly  focused on technology, so bringing   artificial intelligence and automation to customer  engagement. It's focused on the cloud platform,  

making it easier for customers to consume  applications from the platform. In our partner   ecosystem, we have a partner strategy  where we see partners as an extension   of Verint, and we're growing the partner network. Lastly, obviously, it's M&A. The company has been   inquisitive and we're looking to accelerate  innovation when we acquire other companies.  Dan, when we talk about customer  engagement, what does it actually mean?  An organization that has a large number of  consumers and needs to service their needs.   Whether they sell something or they just  respond to a question or solve an issue,   they are focused on creating that engagement  to be productive and to elevate the customer   experience every time they just touch a  customer so they can improve the business,   create more retention, customer retention, and  customer loyalty, and a great brand reputation. 

Maybe this is an obvious question, but  why is customer engagement so important?  It's even more important than ever  because customers have choices. Consumers   can choose the banks they work with. They can  choose the retailer that they want to shop online.  The experience with how they engage with that  organization has a tremendous impact on their   loyalty and revenues that our customers  are generating from their customers.   Elevating customer experience became  very important to our customers.  Ten years ago, it was mostly about responding to  customers when they call. Today, our customers are   engaging customers proactively, reaching  out, and finding ways to elevate the customer   experience every time they touch a customer. This is not just anecdotal. This is not just  

likes on Facebook, but there are business outcomes  and business performance metrics that you focus on   when it comes to customer engagement. The business outcomes are obviously   increase revenue, reduce cost, and create a brand  reputation that will create lasting growth for the   organization. These are very measurable. Many of our customers are measuring   the revenue they generate from the base. They are  measuring the customer experience by metrics like   NPS (which is net promoter score), customer  retention, customer loyalty. These are all   very important metrics that eventually  can be translated to business outcomes. 

I know that you've done research about the  gaps in customer engagement that many companies   experience, as well as how to  address those shortcomings.   Can you talk about that for us, please? Many organizations are going through   digital transformation and, as part of that,  they're providing consumers more ways to engage.   It's through chat, through email, through social  channels such as Facebook, Messenger, or Twitter.  The more customers engage, there is a large number  of interactions. There are a growing number of   interactions that our customers need to process. The gap is that in order to process more  

interactions, at the same time to  address the consumer expectations   for fast, personalized, and contextual  responses, they need to add more people.  The industry already is employing  50 million workers around the world,   so this is a cost of about $2 trillion a  year just to be able to engage consumers. So,   the increase in expectations and increase in the  number of interactions is causing our customers to   add more people, which is unsustainable. But, at  the same time, they need to elevate the customer   experience, so they can't cut their resources. That's the gap. The gap, which we call the   engagement capacity gap, needs to be addressed  and the way to address it is with technology.   With AI (artificial intelligence) and automation,  many of these interactions are now self-service,   so they are answered by a bot instead of a person. Overall, organizations that use automation  

effectively are able to achieve both. They're  able to reduce the costs to operate the   customer service organization. At the same  time, they elevate the customer experience.  That today is really the big pain point.  As that gap is growing and widening,   the more our customers are moving into  digital channels and social channels.  This seems like a very important point. If I can  summarize (to make sure that I have this right),   consumers have become more sophisticated.  They're becoming more familiar with  

technology. Their expectations have  grown, and that has driven up costs   for companies of every type (product  companies, services companies) and,   therefore, the cost of satisfying those  consumers has risen just astronomically.   The solution is technology such as AI, as you  were just describing. Do I have that right? 

Yes. That's correct. All this begs the question;   how do we create engaged customers? Yes. It really starts with the culture.   Organizations need to develop a  culture that is customer-centric.  It continues with breaking down silos in an  organization because the consumer doesn't care   that you're organized with departments and  one department doesn't know about the other.   More and more organizations need to act jointly  and break down silos so they can respond to   questions regardless of who has the answer. We see, for example,   contact center departments are now working closer  with the marketing department. Why? Because  

if you're on the website, you're trying  to shop for something, and you get stuck,   you call the contact center. You would expect  them to know and say, "Yes, Michael. I know you   were trying to do this. Let me  help you finish your transaction."  Obviously, it doesn't happen everywhere –  yet. Many contact center agents are just not   able to understand your entire journey. For  an organization to fully engage customers,   they really need to be able to track the  customer journey and be able to respond to   their journey in a very effective manner. Dan, you've mentioned customer experience   several times. How does customer experience  fit into the context of customer engagement? 

Every customer engagement is a set of  activities that need to result in a very   elevated customer experience. But engagement is  done by different departments at different times.  Let's take an example when you have claim  insurance. You may call the agent and report   that I've been in a car accident. They'll take the  details and somebody else will get back to you.  That person is no longer a contact center agent.  Now you're getting a callback from the back   office. Someone is doing the claim processing  and have further questions. To create that  

connectivity so you would be able to contact the  organization and every touchpoint that you have   will be continuous and the journey that you have  as a customer will be uninterrupted because there   are different departments in the organization. What are some of the challenges   in creating this type of seamless customer  experience that demands moving across   silos and going across different channels,  whether it's email, chat, Web, and so forth?  Our customers need to solve a number of issues  to really be good at customer engagement. One   is they need to bring the data together from all  these silos. Regardless of where the interaction   with the consumer occurred, all that data  needs to be captured and analyzed so they   can learn from each and every interaction  to improve the overall organization.  Once they have that knowledge – they have the  data, they have the AI, and analytics – that   comes from that data, they unlock the value in  all these interactions. Some of these interactions   could be surveys where they directly ask  the customers for feedback. Some will be  

just conversations on the phone or chat where  there's indirect feedback that they can learn from   how to improve the customer engagement.  Very important is to be able to harness   that data and unlock the value in the data. Now, all those insights that come from that data   need to be delivered to every employee, everyone  in the workforce that has a customer touchpoint.  

These employees could be in the context  center, in the back office, in the branch,   and also in digital and e-commerce  marketing with online experiences.  Once you connect all the employees with the  right insights, you can start to create that   elevated customer experience. That is the goal. A core part of this is the data. What are the   challenges that companies face when trying  to collect and aggregate the kind of data   that they need in order to create these  digital experiences in the right way?  The data is mostly unstructured.  It could be voice. It could be   unstructured text. It could be video. The interaction could be on many, many different   channels. You could be talking to a customer  over Zoom. That will be a video conference call,   and you need to capture that. You can be  obviously on the phone. It can be on social media. 

There will be different channels, so there are a  lot of different channel providers. Each one is   creating data, but it's unstructured data. It's  difficult to capture it in real-time, bring it   together, and unify it to a database where you can  start to apply AI and analytics and get insights.  That's a challenge that all customers are  obviously focused on but it's not that   easy because it's not just that data sits in  a lot of different places in the organization,   but it's also locked down in many  different systems that have been deployed   in the organization by different vendors.  That's not an easy way to bring data, like  

structured data that sits in a database. That's the technology that we actually innovated   when we started the company in 1994. Obviously,  technology went a long way since then. But   the idea of Verint when we started was  to bring insights from unstructured data,   and we've been working at this now for 27 years. It's become much easier, but it's still a very  

difficult and complex exercise. The benefits (when  you bring all that data and you harness the data)   are enormous. It's really a goldmine. What kind of system or platform needs to be   in place in order to collect this data? This is easier to do in the cloud,   so you need a cloud platform that has a lot of  connectors or adapters to a lot of different   systems. That's something that Verint has  developed over many years to be able to capture  

the data in real-time. But that data obviously  comes from different systems and different silos,   so what's really important about the platform  is the ability to unify that data, to bring it   together to a structure that can be searchable. Then once you have that unification, you can start   to apply AI to the data, machine learning, which  basically improves your ability to, for example,   understand intent. Intent recognition, which  is one of the AI technologies, is about really   understanding not just the words that a person  speaks or writes, but also what is the underlying   purpose, what is the intent of the discussion? Being able to get intent from analyzing the data   provides the ability to create. Well,  it's not just to service the customers   but to also service employees. Obviously, that's a core part   of what you're building. We need to bring all this technology  

to our customers in a way that people can use  it. It's very, very complex technology, but the   products that are really successful are products  that make it easy for the employee to consume.  Think about a customer service employee. They  have a lot of pressure. They have a customer   at the other end of the phone call, chat,  or email, and they need to respond. They  

need to do all that in real-time, and they  can't take their time because they're being also   measured on what's the length of the interaction. Bringing all that technology together in a cloud   platform and making the UI (the user interface)  simple enough that regular people can actually   harness those insights is really the secret  sauce of making our customers successful.  What are some of the challenges that  organizations face as they try to   create a better experience for their employees? There's a big shift in expectations and also with   the hybrid workforce. For example, in a good-old  contact center, when an agent is stuck because   they have a customer on the other end and they  can't resolve, they would just raise their hand.   The supervisor would reach out and help them. That doesn't work when they work from home.   They need a different type of technology now  to have the assistance at home and be able to   perform the job in the way that they feel like  they satisfy the customer on the other end. 

There are many, many things that are  changing. I'll give you a different example.  I spoke about social channels before. One of  the things that is very, very impactful to the   workforce is the nature of the social channel is  that it's not a synchronous interaction anymore.  On the phone, you call, you have a  two-minute conversation, and it ends.   When you are on a social channel, when you are  in Facebook Messenger and you send a message,   the agent may respond to you right away, but  you don't have to respond right away to that.  

This is asynchronous communication.  You may respond two hours later and maybe send a  picture of something together with your response.   Two hours later, I'm not working  anymore. I completed my shift.  Now there is another employee that needs to  take that over and continue from the same place,   so that's also creating a lot of changes  in terms of how you schedule employees,   how you focus the work, and how many  types of interactions we expect in a day.  If you expect, let's say, 100,000 interactions  today, and you expect 20% of those interactions   to be in Spanish, you need 20% of the  workforce available that speak Spanish. 

Now think about how digital is changing  everything because you need to focus on how   many phone calls, how many chats, how  many Facebook and What's App messages,   how many employees I have that can respond to  all these things. It's not synchronous anymore.  There are a lot of changes that change  the work for employees and an organization   needs to address that with technology. Dan, as we finish up, how can business leaders   leverage customer engagement  to improve business outcomes?  Today, boards and senior management are very  aware of the connection between good customer   experience and strong growth and business  outcomes. I can say that ten years ago   when I tried to get a meeting with  the CEO of one of our customers,   they were not so interested. Customer  service was more of a contact center   problem and they were very happy that the  call center is doing their job and were not   very focused on the customer experience. We know that ten years ago it was very   telephony-centric, very reactive type of  responses. We, as consumers, had to wait quite  

some time to be able to talk to a person. Today, I think that executives understand   that consumers have choices. They could  easily switch. They understand that customer   experience is directly tied to customer  loyalty, to repeat business with customers,   and also to their brand reputation. They are very sensitive  

to customers that have high net promoter scores  and will promote the brand to their friends.   They can measure it pretty well and see the  correlation between the customer experience,   customer sentiment, and the business results  in terms of revenue growth and the bottom line.

2021-10-22 10:59

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