CX Speak

Be Customer-Obsessed and Leave Your Competition Behind – CX Lessons by Mr. Sandeep S Patel, Customer Service Consultant

At Customer Guru, we believe that Customer Experience (CX) should be the number one priority for all the Indian businesses so that they become more sustainable and successful globally. Thus, we are on a mission to spread this awareness, inspiring and guiding professionals to adopt and inculcate a customer-centric approach. We are certain that this is a first step to help organizations WOW their customers and create raving fans for themselves.

Continuing with our initiative of sharing experiences of top-notch CX experts across India, we have another gem of an interview with Mr. Sandeep S Patel. Mr. Patel is a leading Customer Service Consultant in India. Having worked with leading organizations such as ClearTax and Amazon, and across multiple industries, he has closely observed the impact that customer experience has on the growth of any business.

In this candid interview with Customer Guru, Mr. Patel talks about the changing perception of customer experience in India. He also shares his thoughts and insights on how to align employees of an organization towards becoming more customer focused.

We invite our readers to comment and ask questions on similar challenges that they might be facing in their organizations when it comes to setting up systems and processes to deliver a great experience. This article is framed in a question-answer format; please feel free to share your feedback on the article too.

Customer experience as a function has evolved over years. What is the change that you have seen over a period of time in your experience across multiple industries?

In the Indian context essentially, the brands are awakening to the entire concept of customer experience. With global companies coming to India, the consumers today demand the same level of experience. If we go back a decade, there were hardly any companies that had a good customer service, except for American Express, Jet Airways, and a few others. However, with the boom of the internet over the past 10 years, new things have evolved. Social media has played a vital role in pushing companies to start looking into customer experience – the customers are not suffering in silos anymore. The ball is now rolling and we are seeing a lot of innovation on ways to connect with the customers. Consumers are slowly becoming the most important discussion in the boardroom – in short, the perception is changing. While the biggies are trying to keep the international standards of customer obsession, the domestic companies still have a long way to go.

While brands realize the importance of customer experience, prioritizing it over other initiatives is challenging for them. So, how do you align stakeholders at your end to practice customer experience initiatives?

In most of the organizations that I have been associated with, I did not have much of challenge. The employees at the last organization that I worked with used to think entirely from a customer’s perspective and they drove the business decisions or, at least, influenced the business plans accordingly. Working at Amazon changed most of my perspective – obsessing about customers is not just a talk; they literally bend backwards and live it day in and day out. Amazon disrupted the video-on-demand business and it was not an easy journey to make a place of its own when there were some big players already thriving. However, it kept the focus on innovation, ease, and customers. Amazon Prime Video or the Amazon Instant Video is the game changer for Amazon Prime subscription users.

The best example of putting customers first was the historical decision in 2013 of adding all music (physical CDs, records, or cassette tapes) that was legally purchased through the site since 1999 into Amazon’s AutoRip Service or Amazon Cloud Player. One can only imagine how customers would have really felt! Since then, things have loosened up when it comes to driving stakeholders. Any business that is looking for a long-term stint is listening to the customers and investing in them!

How would you correlate all these changes to Fintech, the sector that is rapidly evolving and the one you currently operate in? What role do you think customer experience will play in it?

The Fintech industry in India has not really evolved at a pace with which it has evolved in most western countries. The journey of digitization has just started and the change in itself is massive. If we are to consider the banking sector, most of the infrastructure, systems, and practices that are used by the organizations are still medieval. Even though we have upgraded in terms of technology and processes, there are still a lot of factors that need attention. For example, if we talk about the law – the system, cops, transport, and other things need a lot of evolution because there has been no digitization. Changes are not smooth and not everyone is receptive to them. When an organization starts digitization, there is no scope of a second way; the transparency is something that will unsettle the people. This can only be made easy by educating them and with the right messaging.

What would be your advice to a company that is looking to embark on the journey of customer centricity?

My only advice to such companies is that they should always put the customers first. Every employee must spend time with the customers at least one day of the year. This activity will help in getting everyone aligned to the end customers and deriving great benefits and insights from them. Today, a lot of decisions are taken within the four walls and the people who interact with customers are not available there. That is exactly where the disconnect happens. The organizations that want to become more customer-centric must not see customer service as a cost; rather, they must look at it as an investment. Probably, there would be no need to meet the marketing team if you have your customers covered.

Here, I would like to quote Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.

If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.
~ Jeff Bezos

If you can create an army of fans who are extremely happy doing business with your organization, they become your marketing team.

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