CX Speak

Think ‘Outside-In’ to Improve Customer’s Experience: CX Lessons by Dr. Maneesha Pednekar, Director – Quality, Atos International

At Customer Guru, we firmly believe that the only way more Indian businesses can become sustainable and globally competitive is by focusing on Customer Experience (CX). Thus, we are dedicated to spreading 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 in delivering unparalleled experiences to their customers and creating 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 Dr. Maneesha Pednekar. Dr. Pednekar is currently working as the Director – Quality for Atos in India and drives initiatives on Quality & Customer Experience. She is a Certified Customer Experience Professional from the CXPA (US). She is also a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and has trained in profiling and assessing for Emotional Intelligence. In 2017, Dr. Pednekar was identified as one of the top 50 Most Impactful Quality Professionals by the World Quality Congress in India.

In this exclusive interview with Customer Guru, Dr. Pednekar has shared with us some amazing insights for building a customer-centric business and the key areas that organizations need to focus on, in order to improve customer experiences.

We invite our readers to comment and ask questions on challenges they might be facing in their organizations when setting up a customer-centric culture. We would be more than happy to help. This article is framed in a question-answer format; please feel free to share your feedback on the article too.

Working across industries such as manufacturing, IT, and consulting, what has your journey been like? What encouraged you to make quality and CX as the areas that you would dedicate your professional journey to?

When I look back at my professional journey across industries, I realize that driving Change Management is one common thread that runs through my entire career. I derive a lot of satisfaction from gaining a conviction in the purpose we are trying to achieve, creating the futuristic vision, engaging employees, and then driving everybody towards that future desired state. Especially, driving Quality and Customer Experience initiatives is very close to my heart.

Atos itself puts a lot of focus on being customer focused and also in helping our clients improve their customers’ experience with technology and digital thinking. I started getting more invested in the Customer Experience arena seven-eight years back. And the more I read and followed up on this topic, the more it excited me.

Last year, I became the second certified CXP in India from the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) in the US.

While companies have gradually begun to understand the power of the experience they deliver to customers, there is still a lot of ground to cover. How do you think a business can realize the power of delivering a good experience to customers?

You are right. Most top organizations across industries have reached a level playing field and realize the need and power of improving the customer’s experience.

Thinking ‘Outside In’ – that’s really the one thing companies can do to up their customer’s experience. Can you put yourself in the customer’s seat, see challenges and opportunities from their viewpoint, develop solutions to meet their needs, and then mobilize everybody internally to help the customers achieve their need.

It’s really the one big thing companies can do. Having said that, I must say it is a long journey which requires continuous focus.

In your professional capacity, what are the key areas you look at to evaluate how customer-centric a business really is?

While it’s a really vast and deep topic, broadly these are the key areas I would look for:

  1. Customer Understanding and Insights: Do businesses understand their customers and their needs deeply? Most importantly how do they use these insights in delivering solutions?
  2. Strategy: Is there a clearly articulated and communicated customer experience strategy?
  3. Customer-centric Culture and employee engagement: Are customer-centric values reflected in HR policies, hiring, promotions, rewards and recognition, and training. How are employees engaged and mobilized towards delivering customer experience?
  4. Metrics: Is there a metrics framework set up to measure customer experience? Further, are these metrics analyzed and used to drive improvement?
  5. Design: Is a proactive approach taken to design the customer’s experience and their journey?
  6. Governance: Is there Intentional management and oversight of customer experience matters including establishing accountability across various levels in the organization?

As a CX professional and a CCXP, you would have driven multiple initiatives to enhance customer experience. What is that one initiative you are really proud of? What prompted you to take it up, and what results did you achieve?

Yes, I have worked on multiple aspects of Customer experience – right from designing processes, tools, training, communication; setting up measurement systems; analyzing results of customer feedback and then pushing for change and action. Also, I have worked on mobilizing back offices and support functions to support the overall drive towards customer experience. While all these efforts reflect in increasing NPS, my personal sense of satisfaction comes from enthusing others and bringing them together to help deliver better experiences.

Lately, I have been realizing, even more, the need and power of engaging employees towards customer experience. Currently, I am working on building training around customer experience tools and techniques such as Design Thinking, Day in the life of the customer, and helping managers be better coaches in this area. Last year, I designed a training program based on Gallup Strengths so that we value the diversity of talents, especially when working in a team setup. I am also exploring how emotional intelligence competencies could be used in the context of improving customer experiences.

Overall, I would also like to work on raising the level of awareness and education on this topic in India. Last year, I co-created and delivered a training program on Customer Experience for MBA students for one of the B-Schools in Mumbai.

What is your word of advice for a business embarking on this journey to becoming customer-centric?

‘Think Outside In’. Think how you can really put your customers at the heart of the business. Especially, as organizations grow larger and more diverse and complex, this is one topic that will help focus and integrate everybody.

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