CXBuzz Interview With Mark Stevens, SVP Global Customer Care at DFO
Hi Mark, tell us about yourself, your background?
I have been in customer-facing roles for my entire career, working with companies ranging from technology start-ups to large-scale, global multinationals. Recently, I have joined DFO Global Performance Commerce as the SVP of Global Customer Care.
Over my 20+ years in Customer Experience, I have found that my sweet spot is working with companies that are primed for (or in the midst of) scaling and growth as well as business process transformation of their customer-facing business units.
Having had the opportunity to work with companies in a number of different product and service verticals, I have learned that there are several principles that are truly industry agnostic when it comes to customer experience.
- Do we add value to your life?
- Do you enjoy your experience with us?
- Are we easy to do business with?
Companies that can answer “yes” to all of those questions are bound to succeed in their customer relationships.
Online commerce was booming in 2020, and so did consumer reviews. – How can brands better utilize this data to improve their customers’ experience?
I think that one of the most important things that companies can do in terms of utilizing customer feedback is to have a centralized team that is department-agnostic, focusing only on the internal feedback loop that this qualitative data offers. Often times in companies, there are disparate groups, each doing their own research, and these unique groups key in on how this feedback impacts their department only. Centralize this function, and you bring the customer to the leadership table.
In that way, this firsthand customer information can be distilled down into what’s really driving both positive and negative feedback. The analysis from this centralized team offers two key benefits: (1) how can we do more of what customers tell us that we are doing well? And (2) what strategies can we implement to fix elements that customers tell us that we aren’t doing so well?
What is one element that must always be considered when working on a CXM (customer experience management) strategy?
Minimization of customer effort to achieve their goals is arguably the most important factor at every point in the journey. This holds true in all five stages – awareness, consideration, decision, action, and loyalty.
Do you think personalization and customer-centricity are going to become increasingly more relevant in the coming year? How so?
People, in general, don’t like to be “sold to” – but they do, however, really appreciate when you as a company “understand them.” Companies can present offers and opportunities that demonstrate that understanding and commitment to the relationship. This is where personalization and a customer-centric approach to a long-term, value-based relationship shines.
Through objective analytics, a thorough understanding of customer data and the journey that appeals to them is the most key. In B2B partnerships, what appeals most in business relationships is – how well do you understand the needs of my business, and are you a consultative partner? I believe that customers appreciate those same things – how well do you know ME, and how can my relationship with your company add value to my story and enrich my life?
What are some of the ways companies can strive to eliminate the CX Gap?
It’s paramount that the Customer (purposely capitalized) has a seat at the executive table, and most importantly, that their voice is heard. By having a centralized customer advocacy team, the utilization of what customers tell you at every touchpoint in their journey offers an opportunity for companies to shine. It’s important to have executive sponsorship to lead the integration of that feedback into the organizational roadmap.
What’s the most insightful book you read in 2020?
Professionally – “UNmarketing” by Scott Stratten & Alison Kramer. It’s a great journey in terms of understanding what customers want, how to create a relationship with them, and how to become the logical choice for their needs.
Personally – “Appetites, A Cookbook” by the late Anthony Bourdain. I have always enjoyed his approach to life (and food), and most importantly, how that experience enriches life everywhere. In the last 18 months, COVID-19 has driven us all into our homes, and we have discovered ways to share time and food with each other in a way that has helped us return to some of those traditional values.
What are your predictions for trends in customer experience in the coming year?
Authenticity and real relationships with companies will continue to drive increased growth and loyalty in consumer markets. The shift to a greater reliance on eCommerce was accelerated by the pandemic and forced many companies to pivot to a more digitally-centric execution strategy; some companies did well and thrived, others – not so much.
Much like working remotely, this shift is likely here to stay, and companies need to figure out how to successfully navigate this new world.
Last but not least, what is your favorite CX metric?
Hands down – Customer Effort Score (CES)