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Talkdesk’s chief customer officer discusses the ongoing need for a human touch in CX

360 Magazine 
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Talkdesk’s chief customer officer discusses the ongoing need for a human touch in CX

Some chief customer officers start out with a background in marketing. Others have a track record in overseeing the service and support operation. When Andrew Dobrov recently joined Talkdesk, however, he brought with him a particularly valuable piece of expertise: his hands-on knowledge of what it’s like to be one of the company’s customers.

Last month Talkdesk, which is based in San Francisco and provides cloud-based applications for contact centers, appointed Dobrov the firm’s chief customer officer following a stint as senior vice president of customer success, support, and services at data security vendor Cohesity. He has also worked for organizations ranging from FireEye to EMC.

Like any seasoned executive, Dobrov has learned to identify when a customer experience solution isn’t delivering on expectations, and to take action. This was what initially led him to his new employer.

We were having basic quality customer service issues with our previous vendor and when I went with Talkdesk, I was really impressed with the whole solution, including the service and the kind of white glove treatment or VIP treatment,” Dobrov told 360 Magazine. “But what got me excited was just recognizing the potential of the platform to really disrupt and provide a totally different customer experience, even within certain verticals.”

Dobrov spoke at length about his current plans at Talkdesk and his thoughts on the chief customer officer role. This interview has been edited and condensed.

How is the current economy and ongoing global challenges affecting Talkdesk customers’ needs and priorities?

We’re helping them figure out ways of doing more with less, but we’re also really focused on the human part of it. To provide value upon first contact, but also streamlining their operations, which is why we’ve made it easy to code and configure their workflows. It has a lot to do with providing human touch, but doing it the right way – routing everything to the right person or the right contact and taking care of as much their problems as possible.

It’s interesting you mention the human touch because recent Talkdesk research found there was a perception that human agents will be twice as likely to resolve an issue versus an automated system. Companies want to automate to gain productivity and efficiencies, though. How can they make sure they strike the right balance?

We want to provide as much ease of engagement for the customer up front when it comes to authentication. So collecting context for routing a call to the right place quickly, or deflecting a very simple question. And of course, it’s also about enabling an omnichannel strategy, where they’re providing the easiest way for customers to interact in any way. But the human element is also about listening to customer feedback about their experience: how did it work for them? We’re going to rely on our customers a lot to refine what makes the right balance.

When you think about the customer journey those using Talkdesk will take, what do you want that to look like, and how do you foresee refining or enhancing it?

Whatever set of features or experiences they’re looking for, those have to be delivered quickly right off the bat, as independently as possible. I want them to feel the love right away. And if there are issues, it shouldn’t just be a case of providing a great service experience but a lot of proactive followup.

Some of the next steps that we can take with them after that might be helping them further automate, or streamline their operations, better understand the sentiment of their customers, pulling in more context and so on. I want to continue that journey with the broad portfolio that we have, which has the potential to be so transformative.

Earlier this year Forrester predicted that many CX programs will likely fail, in part because of a difficulty in showing the value to their leadership. What advice do you have on how to clearly articulate return on investment (ROI)?

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Yes, I think that’s a key topic. And I think that the way that the chief customer officer needs to navigate that is with an eye towards showing causality versus correlation. In other words, I think each staff member has a very reasonable need or agenda. Chief financial officers want net retention, they want growth. Product officers really want customer success to drive and understand the voice of the customer as it relates to product roadmap. Sales typically is really looking for customers success to drive the journey as well as post sales without necessarily interfering or being redundant.

To satisfy all those demands, you really need to know your customer, and really need to try to get into a day in the life of the customer. That’s where customer advisory boards can come in. And that’s where the building the trusted adviser relationship is absolutely key. We recently had a panel of very enthusiastic customers, I realized that a lot of that had to do with the relationships that were built. It’s keeping the customer in mind and  working backwards from what they really want, then translating that back to the organization.

Talkdesk probably has a slew of metrics it uses, but what do you think is most important to focus on yourself as a chief customer officer?

It’s important to check in on NPS and CSAT. You’ve got your churn, growth, retention. Those are in some ways generic metrics, but as you segment you can begin to look at (whether) there are high growth accounts that are stable but not necessarily expanding as quickly.

Then you go into verticals. What I’m looking for there is for communities and customers who can become ambassadors, like healthcare providers who’s willing to say their Talkdesk solution is amazing. Those verticals will have metrics around expansion in NPS that I’ll dive deeper into.

There’s also going to be specific feedback about the relationships as well. Making sure that we develop those relationships and layer them in the right order is part of my priority. You can go really deep, you can do transcript monitoring. Ho quick are they ramping up? Onboarding, is really key: I really want to make sure that the first experience they have is good and that they felt the hospitality and then they got up and running quickly.

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