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Susan is an independent digital communications and user experience strategist. She helps companies discover their brand voice and grow their business.
Shubharthi is currently part of the strategic marketing team at Regalix. His expertise mainly lies in the account-based marketing and programmatic advertising space.
Priscilla is a content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Moulishree is a freelance journalist with over 7 years of experience, she writes research-based analytical stories on technology and business.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Based in Mumbai, Chandrashekhar Thakur is a Senior Art Director and Illustrator at Truebil.com and the Founder of HAPPiNESS For You. He loves working with new styles of art and considers illustration to be his forte. Chandrashekhar has completed his BFA from DY Patil College of Applied Art.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
Anthony Daubenmerkl is Vice President of Global Support and Customer Success at Thycotic, an IT company. Anthony has over 20 years of leadership experience and leverages a support-without-walls methodology to maximize team and customer success worldwide. Prior to this, he was Vice President of Support at Metalogix Software, where he worked with teams across geographies to establish a worldwide presence for the company.
Interviewed by Shwetha Mahesh
/ / How has the contact center function evolved in your company over the past few years?
The functionality within our contact center continues to morph as our organization expands, ensuring we maintain our focus on continually improving and optimizing our customers’ experiences. Our main areas of focus have been self-service, community or channels, inbound routing and response.
Over the last two years, we have streamlined our inbound and outbound technical and customer success team tools to provide more of an omnichannel experience. We have expanded the customer channel experience beyond phone, portal, chat or email, and now leverage a customer advocacy platform to reach our next tier of success. The path we are on will continually improve our customers' experiences, whether new to or already a part of our ever-growing family. We continually use our real-time analytics to shift staff, optimize processes and understand growth comparisons – not just from the revenue perspective but also in terms of team and workload. We continue to build our contact center to be focused on our customers' needs and the markets we reside in. It has also provided us with a mechanism to quickly and effectively handle those customers with critical problems.
At times, evolving means taking a slight step back once you learn how effective the implemented channel/technology is. For us, we had to rethink our chat offering for technical support. Chat worked great for basic questions, such as, “When does my maintenance expire?”, “Who is my accounts representative?” or “Where do I download this app?” However, it fails while troubleshooting complex issues. We simply had to change our messaging so that our customers could leverage a different channel of collaboration in these cases. Case routing based on rules and workload, improving SLA response and precise geographical location continues to improve based on the analytical data that we capture and act on.
Recently, we have invested in AI to seamlessly leverage information gathered across multiple internal platforms. This has significantly reduced case-closure time and improved the sharing of solutions with our worldwide customer base. We have reduced tedious processes and the time taken to search for information.
/ / What challenges do you face while planning your contact center strategy?
Challenges always vary from company to company but ultimately fall into the same bucket – it’s about solving the inbound customers' issues quickly and effectively using channels that best fit the requirements. For some companies, this is very easy to manage, especially if your customers are less complex. In both easy and complex cases, it is imperative to ensure that the structure you implement is scalable and additional functionality can be added. Our initial challenges were related to defining the structure that would support worldwide growth while providing the customer with the best experience. This was a critical step in our planning effort since we did not have a unified contact center initially.
The next challenge was determining what data we needed for our analytics to improve visibility into our customers and the team’s performance. Accessing the right data on demand that validates trends or changes provides companies the ability to act in an educated manner quickly, reducing costly mistakes.
Not all channels are required by all companies or customers. For some companies, video calls or social media work well as a mechanism to increase the customer omnichannel experience but for others, the channels used might be different. Though we have video call capability, we rarely use it due to our customer base. When planning, start small and add as you go. Allow your team to become acclimated to the change. Capture feedback from your team and customers, and then add the next channel. We are now working on our advocacy platform that leverages gamification. We want our customers to feel like they are part of our family, with the ability to give unsolicited feedback and share information in an entirely new way.
/ / What are the key metrics you track to gauge the performance of your contact center?
Analytics is one area in which we have invested significant effort while building our contact center. Not only do we capture basic customer trends with the ability to analyze changes and break it down according to region, product, case aging, renewals and issue severity, we also leverage algorithms that highlight at-risk customers who need support on priority from our support and customer success teams. Internal users can easily modify the algorithms by leveraging a sliding scale to fit their requirements. CSAT, NPS and customer comments are all metrics we collect, including those from social media.
/ / What is the scope of cloud customer support in this industry?
I would be very surprised if there is a company that does not leverage a cloud-type solution within their contact center. Cloud provides a seamless approach to scalability and reduces risk while providing a more unified method to implement functionalities. All the solutions we leverage today are cloud-based, including our team’s test environments.
/ / Have you implemented an omnichannel approach in your contact center yet?
Yes, we have implemented an omnichannel approach. We continue to extend and build upon it as the business warrants. What people often fail to understand is that implementing an omnichannel approach may not reduce headcount or even cost. It is about providing better customer experiences, and to do that, you must understand your market, customer base and competitive requirements. Customers still require human interaction and we simply cannot remove that personal touch from our contact center, especially for complex customers and/or situations.
/ / What are the key areas you need to focus on while implementing an omnichannel approach?
Understanding your business and customer base is the starting point for success. Also, you need to remember that the solution you build needs to keep the customer at the center of your vision. During implementation, you need to realize that all omnichannel functionalities will not fit or are required for your business. When you implement your changes, do it in stages so that your team and customers aren’t caught off guard. It isn’t the amount but the right functionality implemented that provides a seamless and positive customer experience. This includes actionable data, information and metrics for the business. When possible, acquire a test group outside your organization in a sandbox-type environment to verify form, fit and functionality.
/ / Has AI been introduced in your contact center? If it has, when was it introduced and how exactly has it helped your company?
We introduced AI into our solution earlier this year. AI has helped our customer success and support teams reduce our time-to-solution by consolidating information from multiple platforms. It has reduced our search, labor and response times.
/ / Which platform does your contact center currently function on? Why did you choose that platform?
Our primary cloud platform is Salesforce. But we also leverage other solutions that integrate seamlessly with them. Salesforce was implemented at Thycotic before I joined the company. But having used it for a number of years and knowing where some of the challenge areas lie, it made it easier for me to make decisions and move ahead quickly, especially in the area of support metrics and analytics.
/ / What are the most effective ways in which your contact center captures customer feedback?
We capture feedback from multiple channels. The common channels are CSAT, NPS, customer surveys and live calls. We additionally capture feedback from our customer advocacy platform and social media channels, such as Twitter and Facebook.
/ / What are the pain points with respect to delivery in your contact center?
To date, we really have not experienced any major pain points with respect to delivery. However, we are continuously learning and tweaking our processes to improve the experience and data being collected.
/ / What are the trends/technologies that you think will drive the contact center industry in the future? How should businesses gear up for this?
This depends on your business and market. Clearly, AI and automated solutions will continue to expand, covering more areas of a business. But does this truly improve your customer’s experience? Having the right data helps to educate your team on all the requirements and will ultimately drive success in your contact center. For us, phone calls and live sessions are very important to our business. Although customer video conferences are rare for us, we can also leverage that capability at any time. When you build your technology portfolio for your contact center, don’t listen to the hype but act on your business and customers’ needs. My recommendation is to review the technology as per your business requirements and also take form, fit and functionality of your customer into consideration. If it meets the criteria, look to implement that option within your contact center.
So, what will drive the contact center industry? Analytics, AI, customer advocacy with gamification, self-serve with a digital and user-friendly experience, and social media will continue to become more unified within the contact center. Organizations will have a more holistic view of their customers.
In closing, businesses wanting to gear up and build a quality contact center need to understand their customers, assets, data structure and what they want to accomplish. Cost reduction may or may not be achieved but your teams will be able to redirect their focus on business challenges and your customers’ experiences.
Building customer relationships in the healthcare tech sector
Marco Armienta, Director of Customer Experience, Valant
Delighting customers or meeting expectations: The role of contact centers
Customer contact centers are now playing increasingly larger roles in B2B environments.
Preparing for the call center of the future
David Donatelli, Senior Vice President of Global Customer Support, Fuze
Customer support on a global scale in the financial services industry
Jessica Lovell, Director of Global Customer Support, Morningstar
Why customer satisfaction is serious business
Scott Gilbert, Senior Director of Global Customer Support, Qumu Corporation
Customer service: An untapped gold mine of VoC insights
Brett Frazer, Head of Customer Service, Sun Basket