“Automation Is Not the Goal, It Is Just a Tool,” Says Olga Guseva

“Automation Is Not the Goal, It Is Just a Tool,” Says Olga Guseva

What is the key to redesigning customer experiences in a changing world? Author and CX expert Olga Guseva shares insights on how to speak multiple languages for cross-functional teams and use the science of facilitation to consider diverse perspectives.

In an ever-changing world, the customer experience undergoes rapid transformations. Consequently, the challenge lies in comprehending how to revamp customer and collaborator experiences. To gain insights into this challenge and seek solutions, Martechvibe interviewed Olga Guseva, Managing Partner at Integria Consult and Co-author of a book on Customer Experience. Guseva possesses expertise in international customer experience strategy and specializes in cultivating customer-centric culture transformation. She is an acclaimed international author, blogger, keynote speaker, and consultant. Notably, she is a recognized trainer by CXPA, holds the CCXP certification, is a member of CXPA, a member of Executive Experience Consultants—an international consortium of C-level executive consultants—and holds an MBA and a PhD.

Guseva discussed the growing significance of cross-functional teams in the ever-evolving business landscape. These teams consist of individuals from diverse backgrounds who bring unique perspectives and expertise to the table, presenting challenges and opportunities. She also shared valuable insights on strategies for effectively collaborating with cross-functional teams and ensuring personalized customer experiences amidst technological advancements. Moreover, she delved into the evolution of customer expectations and the need to align customer experience metrics with broader business goals.

Excerpts from the interview; 

How do you work with cross-functional teams to inform strategic business decisions?

Cross-functional teams are a bit more difficult to manage than traditional teams as people composing these teams come from different backgrounds and are used to speaking different languages – operational people are frequently focused on efficiency and flawless process execution. For example, marketing people focus on outcomes and creative ways to solve problems, while finance people think about the risks and budgets. This constitutes a challenge and an opportunity simultaneously — the more diverse the team is, the more chances are that it blends expertise from different areas and comes up with a solution the business had never seen before. However, diverse teams tend to spend more time defining the problem and coming to a solution as members may have very different approaches to the ones they are used to in their everyday lives. To tackle this, it is really important to:

  • Be able to speak different languages – fill the info with the details for those who need to see the granularity, give the helicopter view and final vision for those who look for outcomes, speak numbers for those who prefer to quantify and be emotional with storytelling, metaphors, and examples for those who are used to perceive the information this way. Naturally, preparing and doing the homework requires more time, but it improves efficiency during group discussions.

  • Create the operating model of communications/meetings—With cross-functional teams, it takes a lot of energy to coordinate the schedules of people from various departments, so the healthy solution here would be to set up a rhythm of regular meetings, say, once a week or on a more frequent basis, instead of looking for available slots ad hoc.

  • Hear different perspectives. This is what cross-functional teams are built for. So, every team member must be heard. People who tend to work with numbers are usually not as talkative as, for example, marketers, but their insights are equally valuable, so it is important to create a space where everyone can contribute. The science of facilitation can greatly help here. 

At a time when more companies are embracing automation for tasks, how can enterprises ensure they don’t lose the human touch in their interactions with customers?

That’s a million-dollar question, but the answer is simple—automation is not the goal; it is just a tool, one of the tools to improve customer interaction—simplify routine tasks and free up employee time for high-quality interactions with customers. So, as long as the company remembers this, it is quite easy to maintain the human touch and plan the “connection point” with customers, taking the best from technology.

What is the main barrier to delivering personalized experiences? How can companies overcome it?

Cost and this is where exactly technology can help — the more we know about our customers, the more personalized experience we can build; technology is a great enabler here — for example, by processing the customer data and offering the best route out of many options by customer preferences, stored in the system. In the high-tech environment, a lot of personalization can be delivered automatically — employees just need to add the “golden dust” of human warmth and empathy.

Also Read: Leveraging Data and Innovation to Drive Loyalty in Travel

How have CX expectations evolved for the modern-day customer, and how can brands address concerns in the current economic climate?

Customer expectations are rising yearly; customers compare their experience across countries, industries, and products. They ask themselves — if I can be served well at the nearby coffee shop, why can’t I get the same level of service at the car rental station? Or at my dentist’s? Or from the airline I fly with? Some industries are driving the art and science of customer experience forward, and others need to follow as customers expect the same service level they see at flagship companies.

How can CX metrics be tied back to business goals?

CX metrics do need to be tied to business goals. For example, suppose a company uses the NPS (Net Promoter Score) metric. In that case, it can calculate the average purchase price by promoters (the group of customers that love the company product and are ready to recommend it) and by detractors (the unhappy customers) and compare how much more happy customers spend with the company. If we multiply the difference by the number of customers, we can digitalize the amount of money the company is NOT receiving because of the unhappy customers. This is a big topic, but in a nutshell, this is one of the approaches that can be used to quantify the value of working on customer experience.

You can also connect the acquisition cost (CAC) with your CX metrics, measure the number of customers who come by recommendation, and calculate the savings. No matter which you select, it is important to find this connection within your company and make it clear to everyone within the organization—this is how the whole company can see the value of its work on customer centricity.