Another Cloud Podcast

A podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business, and learn how they're using Cloud Technology to improve business and the customer experience.

Time to Value, AI and Operational Excellence with Guneet Singh

with Alex McBratney and Aarde Cosseboom

Don't have time to listen? Read the full transcription.

Alex McBratney  00:00

Hello, and welcome to Another Cloud Podcast, a podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business and learn how they're using cloud technology to improve business and customer experience. All right. All right. Well, welcome to Another Cloud Podcast. Today, I'm excited to have Guneet Singh from AppFolio on the podcast today. Of course, we have Aarde here as well. But let's highlight you Guneet good to have you here. Happy, Happy Tuesday. 

Guneet Singh (Guest)  00:29

Happy Tuesday, Alex. Good to meet your Aarde as well. Really excited to be here. 

Alex McBratney  00:34

Absolutely. We're excited to have you. And just a quick housekeeping. All the views and opinions expressed here on the podcast are good needs and not representative of AppFolio, we'll make sure we take care of that and just know that this is his views from his collective years of experience in customer experience. So with that, Guneet, why don't you just help everyone understand this listening, just kind of how you got to AppFolio what your career path has been? And then a little bit about just what folio does for those that don't know?

Guneet Singh (Guest)  01:05

Yeah, absolutely. I've been with AppFolio for over a year. Now I folio is a property management software company, to give them more clarity. As for property managers, they can have a clear view into what they need to spend most of their day to day jobs. So they're not worrying about accounting, reporting, consolidation, leasing, things like that. It's very intuitively designed to delight the residents or property manager space, as well as the staff who actually is servicing these apartments are these houses are those community associations, very intuitively built very highly on automation as well. So pm can spend their time wisely to run their business and day to day job and scale up their portfolio. Been with the tech industry for last seven to eight years. Prior to this, I was working at DocuSign. And very proudly, I can say, you know, building and driving see Expect us in Bay Area in Southern California, very proud to be associated with professional associations, you know, who are rallying around the CX as a cause have been involved in both strategic as well as tactical rollout of cx disciplines across different companies and different portfolios as such. Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned, you know, this, this brave new world of cx and customer experience and how it's definitely as blossomed. I think it all probably started right up there in the bay area near San Francisco, Silicon Valley of the SAS companies similar to yours, that go well, we don't want account managers, we want Customer Success managers. And we want that experience for our customers. And it's really evolved from with technology, I think the industry is evolved, how have you seen that grow just in the companies, you've worked for DocuSign, and now at folio and how that's changed? Absolutely. So I'll say you hit on that point that was more about we don't need account managers, we didn't we need somebody who can actually own the success of the customer. Or we can try the experience aspect of the customer. It boils down to one thing, which is value realization for both for customers, as well as for the business. So just to kind of go a little bit deep into your questions, you know, how I have kind of, you know, grown over the last several years in the customer experience domain at such mind story. My story is pretty simple, where you can have normal day to day life story, but deep rooted in the belief, which I think is agnostic to any industry, which is hard work. I think my fundamental belief is there is no other replacement, there is no other shortcut, or any myth. I don't want to pain for the listeners out there, that there's anything else for my belief, hard work is the only key. You got to believe in what you're doing. And you got to be patient. What happens what I've seen with methodologies come and go, different frameworks come in and go as people get impatient, especially the world which we operate in, we live in a very fiscal to fiscal mindset. So it's bound that managers as leaders, as executives, you know, we lose patient, hey, it's not getting me my ROI. It's not getting me model y for that particular quarter. So you as a practitioner, you need to paint that picture that the ROI can be accomplished, whether it's quarter or whether it's the whole one year. So you get to show that you get to paint that path from that perspective. And that's how the key is for being successful in this particular domain, especially when you look at the last two decades or so. With the exponential growth in technology and the data, it has created somewhat of an illusion that you can get an overnight success and I don't personally believe that there is anything like overnight success there. You can pick any example and the minute you start kind of feeling the layers of onion there behind the story. You'll start seeing you know, without taking names XYZ, or you know, a top superstar sports star or a tech company here under there's a lot of hard work and a lot of patience that has gone into coming to where they are so it's not like an overlap, but it will boil down to that one factor. And we can talk about this in detail in other topics as well, and happy to exchange more views. But from a professional side, like most of all, I started my career in college working different jobs. At the same time, my first official job was in the back office operations for a very large reinsurance company. But what I was doing was processing property and casualty claims. So literally, I was sitting on the shop floor, you know, as most of you might be familiar with the contact center language, doing things, you know, doing transactions, doing processing, working on the claims of third parties. While working at that company, I did gain meaningful experience, especially understanding what does it mean to drive excellence? What is this word called operational excellence, because you might have heard about the word OPEX, or operational excellence? What does that actually that means, you know, from a customer standpoint, and that became the cornerstone of my journey into cx itself. We don't hear these days that often about what I call the old school methodology of Six Sigma as such, but if I owe my success to anything, I'll say, most of my learnings, you know, which were the foundation of my career, who came from that methodology, you know, in business, as well as in person Life. And here's the reason why it taught me how to decode the word value. And understanding, you know, what does customer needs are, how do you actually decode the value, what customers are looking from your product or from your service, irrespective of the size of the company or the scale for your startup, or if you are an enterprise, these two things, you know, are deep rooted into that methodology. And that kind of something were the cornerstone of my role. Other than that, there wasn't any secret sauce. That's Chino. And as I said earlier, I have been very fortunate to work across various different companies, various different industries, being on the frontline, have built teams, manage teams, had very good fortune of living and working out of different countries outside of my home country where I grew up, being in us for the last 25 years or so. And then that gave me an opportunity to also understand another aspect, which is a key pillar in the customer experiences, the culture. Culture allowed me to understand the importance of how to work with different teams, how to understand the different mindsets, or different mental models which operate behind customers decision to work or engage with a particular service or a particular brand. And you will not be able to understand until you start actually living and breathing that culture. So I was very fortunate to kind of get that exposure firsthand. And then to just to sum it up my background in terms of you know, my journey until now, I'll say, focus on operational excellence, getting business outcomes, respecting the culture, and never forgetting that hard work cannot be substituted. Or the few things you know, which has helped me over the years, built up my customer experience journey.

Aarde Cosseboom  08:06

Now, let's talk a little bit about culture. So there's definitely the internal employee culture, but also there's the culture of your customers and your members, whoever you're servicing. So being very conscious of who they are and what they represent, and also how to better serve them. How do you how do you work with your internal teams to really make sure that you're delivering some amazing customer experience based off of you know, who your client bases? 

Guneet Singh (Guest)  08:34

Love the question Aarde, thank you for teeing it up. And that's the whole point of having these conversational chat is like when it's not scripted, because I really enjoy these. If you allow me, I'll take a step back and say, let's first define what do we mean by the word customer experience, because the word itself is quite nebulous, as both of you have been pioneers in the space. So you know that it can mean 20,000 different things for 20,000 business, or you know, millions of people around the world. Plenty of definition. So I'm not going to paint the definition in average should be used as an idle definition for me, for beneath customer experience, simply put, as combination of three things, effort, success, and emotion. Now, emotion as all of us we know, it's all about the feeling from different interactions customers are have, whether it's people or product, and that's where that connection becomes very vital. When you talk about culture. If you don't understand the culture in which the customer is actually living and breathing, or the employee who is actually service, or the product that you're trying to stand up, or you have a product that you're trying to bring to the market, and you don't understand how you underestimate the importance of you know, the norms, the culture, the way that people do things. The way people accept, you know, the change, you know, they'd like to have, you know, if you don't understand or if you don't do a deep dive on that one, it can derail your experience altogether. And then the second piece is the effort piece in the venue talk about effort, it comes down to effort as a function of time and resources. So what it means is that customer has to spend some time on task, you know, or when they use the product, or the use of service, how easy it is or how difficult it is for them to use that product, or what are they going through when actually leveraging that service, or they're calling somebody or they using a particular application, or they're trying to kind of bring on board and enterprise software? What are the difficulty of getting that implementation done. So the effort that customers have to put in is the second component. And then the third, and the last most important one is the word success. To understand those success, and how it plays as an element of customer experience, let's we have to make an assumption, we have to kind of accept that before customer, irrespective of whether you are in India, or Philippines or North America or anywhere in the world, before you engage with any product, or any brand or any service, you have a pain area, you have a goal that you're trying to solve. And that's the reason you try to kind of find out solutions, you try to find out the different products or different services, which can help you get that solution for the problem that you're not able to solve by yourself. Because as human race, we all are tuned to resolve by ourselves. You don't wake up in the morning and say, you know what I need to call contact center to kind of get this thing because I don't have anything else to do. Yes, you know, if you don't have anything, you can do that. But nobody is kind of you know, waking up in that mind. So coming back to success as successes anchored around, how can we make sure that customer accomplishes that goal. So an experience will be incomplete if a customer does not achieve that goal. Now, how is that tied back to the culture in terms of you know, the people or the customer itself? To understand what success means you got to understand, again, the mental model of what customers are defining as success, you need to understand their behaviors, you need to understand their perceptions, which are getting formed from the problem before even they come to your product. So these are the three components, which are the cornerstone of, you know, customer experience. And all of these lead back to the statement in which I was trying to explain earlier that all of these things lead to value creation. Because if you look at whether it's company, or individual or any given product, you can make or deliver a great experience only when you can create the value for your customer, at every single interaction. If you are in the services, or if you are in your product world, at every single stage of your product journey, if you can create value for your customer, that's what experience is all about. Because every single interaction matters, every customer matters. And that's the most significant gap, which I have seen in my couple of decades of working as when you talk about enterprises or startups, they're all running about the biggest shiny object for that particular quarter. So what often gets neglected is the install base for the customers you have already on your kitty on your bowl, you know, we often tend to forget about them. And then we say, you know, let's build this new feature, let's build this new service for the most profitable customer. Yes, that's the thing we need to do, because they're going to get us revenue, yes. But what is happening is we keep on ignoring at the cost of the existing base. So what happens after the few years, when the user base starts to erode, you start over cycle again. So the Think about the value erosion that takes place in the sheer absence of a true customer experience. So that's why I'm kind of going back to the point that every single customer matters, and every single interaction matters. So if you can take the most admired brands in the world, you know, whether it's tech, whether it's, you know, hospitality, whether it's telecom services, if they're admired brands, they're not only trying to make experience good for their most profitable customers, or most high paying revenue customers, they're trying to make it good for every single customers. So that's the kind of, you know, the lens, I want everybody to understand, you know, when we talk about culture and customer extreme that these three components are not exclusive at the same time, they are very essential to making or breaking an experience.

Alex McBratney  14:38

Yeah, I think that you know, you mentioned the value and I think that's so important, right is a lot of it's understanding Well, what is valuable for your customer and seen it so many times where product or sales or marketing thinks, well, this is what they want. I'm just going to go out there and push what we think that the customer wants. How do you solve for just learning the value of what your customers value what do you have? How do you scale that? How do you, you know, learn that that information to then be able to create these processes around that?

Guneet Singh (Guest)  15:09

Great, great question. So simple answer is, you're not going to be able to understand if you don't do it. So first thing first, when marketing is trying to create a narrative or value, and understand what value is they reach out to the customers, they try to understand what matters for that, what are the real wants, and then let's convert that into the needs. So the framework, again, it's rooted into the customer experience. So one of the key discipline I follow as customer first understanding, and customer first strategy, that how do we build our infrastructure to drive that customer endurance understanding, not only for marketing, but also for our services organization, also for our product optimization. So as you're trying to go in front of the customers, you're going with a value prop of like, Here are three things or four things, which we believe are the value prop, which is the most important one for you, and try to understand that what matters to them in what context does it matter, and then try to understand what is the level of effort they perceive that they will have to put into using that particular product or using that particular service. So that's kind of you know, the Holy Grail there. What often happens is that we try to presume we try to do a survey here and there. And then we use that as a construct to say, this is the value of which most of the customers are thinking about, what we don't realize is that we are setting in the age of technology, where last 20 years have seen exponential amount of direct growth and technology growth. So that has led to a dramatic change of expectations. So expectations of customers one year ago, may not be same as today. So we need to constantly refresh the customer understanding that customers when they were expecting a feature A or a B, to be a wow factor last year might actually have become a table stake in the current year. So we need to constantly refresh our value to understand what value what is value, because value if you define it from a company standpoint, that's the drawback that's the failure value has to be from a customer standpoint. And then again, I think the two things attached the value is what cost you can deliver the value and the speed of delivering the value. One other thing also, which is not highlighted in the customer experience, domain, very often as the time to value because, you know, we see that very popular as a concept, especially for a sass companies in the product environment where customers are, you know, we do a heavy mix of b2c and b2b. And they understand that, but in general, when you talk about customer experience, we often tend to neglect time to value. So if you can start thinking about how can I reduce the cost, I need to invest to bring the value to the customer at the same time? How can I increase the speed of customer realizing the value from using your product? If somebody tells you, hey, Guneet use this teleconferencing  platform. But hey, you know what, it's going to take you three months for implementation. I don't know how you're going to survive, and the present environment, even if you're an enterprise company, and you say, Hey, you know, we're going to use Guneet, communications quarterly conferences, but it's going to take three months, whereas your employees going to say, Hey, you know, what, why are you calling us there are 20 other things, which we can just sign up today, even with all the compliance checks, and we can start using tomorrow morning. If not, tonight.

Aarde Cosseboom  18:42

You hit on some really good points here and I want to drill into one of the things that you said, that's very valuable, he said, the speed of the value or the time to value. And we all know that during the pandemic, things have changed customer expectation, customer experience, how we experience you know, the world as a consumer, and how we interact with the brands today, like Amazon, where you get delivery next door next day, or, you know, instead of going out and picking up Chipotle, he may order it through doordash and get it delivered to you like in a small 10 minute window, which fits perfectly in between all your zoom calls and all the things that you're doing at home. So talk to us a little bit about how expectations have maybe changed over the last year or two years or even with the pandemic. And then also, what are we doing on the other side to meet those expectations? Are we trying to staff up? Are we trying to deliver more options? What should we be able should we be doing those? Or should we maybe not maybe we should just set you know, draw a line somewhere and say this is what you have? These are your options. So tell us a little bit about the expectation. How do we deliver against that?

Guneet Singh (Guest)  19:56

Great, nice question and that's a little bit of a I'll say tough question, especially the topic pandemic, as a little bit unfortunate, you know, it's very kind of, you know, it's hitting close to many of us, all across the world, it's a painful period for the human kind, I do want to acknowledge that there is no upside. But definitely it has highlighted and elevated the importance of a company who have been thinking about technology as a cost play, versus companies who think technology has an advantage. So that's kind of you know, has highlighted the difference there. What does it mean, you know, you took the example of big retailers, you know, making it easy for us to kind of deliver our groceries or deliver our stuff very same day or next day. And that has to do with everything in enterprise as well as in consumer space. The lines, which used to exist pre pandemic, between what an enterprise customer will expect versus what a consumer a customer will extend, has landed at an exponential rate in the last one year, because all of us who have been using Telecom, telecom tools, which we're using today, as well, as you know, to chat with our family that lines up, I don't know how many of us have used FaceTime to do multiple conferences and say, you know, let's do Zoom. And that's a change of expectations. And why because technology is making it easy, and it's kind of giving same level playing field for everybody else, you know, so it has elevated the need of caffeine or looking at technology not as a costly, but more as an advantage. So, especially when you think about investment, what I'm seeing is, from my perspective, companies are betting heavily on investing in technology, especially in AI in every single companies process. The reason is simple cost of delivering value, and the time to value for customer at every single stage interaction goes dramatically down when you bring in AI. And that's not only to reduce the headcount, but to deliver that wow experience to the customer. And we'll take an example, I've been the customer for one of the biggest retailer, you know, for their grocery stores. And before pandemic, I wanted a while I used to go to the actual store and do the shopping. And until I used the app as well, when pandemic hit, I started using the application. And as I tried to follow the journey, you know, they did for improving their application interface, as well as you know, the look and feel also the availability, I can literally see the sea world of a difference between pre pandemic and post pandemics. What it means to me is they have the plants but they accelerated the investment in the applications heavily in the onset of pandemic because they understood that, yes, we don't want to be real the customer experience that this consumer was having, when they were walking into the store, we were getting on the same experience to compromise the quality because most I was hesitant to buy online, because hey, if I'm trying to buy apples, I want to make sure they're kind of in minds, they're not kind of, you know, mushy, and they're smelling the same way. Obviously, I can't do the smell thing on the application. But they made it easy. As soon as I get my groceries delivered, if I'm not happy with the quality of Apple, no questions asked, return it refunded. So it's not about like, you know that Michael, you're me by giving financial advantage. But they're trying to understand the steps which can be value creation in my journey to use that particular brand. And just because of that, I'm willing to pay $1 extra for the same one pound of Apple to buy through that app versus buying it through somebody else, because they've elevated my willingness to pay by increasing my value, which I perceive value from using their own demand. And they have done that just by sheer purely investing into technology at every single step of you know, from deciding what to buy, how by making it easy from different payment, payment options and channels, and then also from end to end delivery, the last mile delivery as well. So that's kind of you know, some of the examples you never check on Monday example. Everybody in, you know, this audience, you know, you also, you know, gone through the same process. 

Alex McBratney  24:29

Yeah, so, you know, it's interesting, because it's, you know, time of value in the cost of the value or speed of delivery and the cost of delivery. And as finding that that balance because as soon as one goes off the rails a little too far, they're like, well, it's not worth $3 extra for that bushel of bananas. So I'm just going to go this way later to go the store or it's, oh, it's taking them three days to deliver. I need this thing next day. Right? So it's that fine balance and how do you see that playing out with what you're trying to accomplish at AppFolio because you're more of a B2B for the most part with property managers and you know, doing real estate, how do you see that, you know, playing out in your in your world today?

Guneet Singh (Guest)  25:12

Yeah, and so, and I want it's pretty simple. Same thing, the pandemic is actually elevated the need of double downing, investing in technology, because customers, you know, who earlier before pandemic was going to door to door, two units, two units, two apartment apartments to check on the tenant or to connect, you know, provide the services. Now they're looking for us to provide them features, which are, you know, in the, in the product itself, so that they didn't have to leave their house to do that simply the same for the actual residents who are actually using our product? How can we enable better communication for them to talk to their property managers, so we are kind of, you know, we have shifted and pivoted to drive our efforts to make it more, I'll say, not more of a better customer experience. But again, this goes back to the question audiences, the expectations have changed. So what was considered as a good experience or a better customer experience before pandemic, and now has become a table stakes, now the expectations have changed, I am sitting at home, I want to check on XYZ. And I want this feature in the product itself. So if you're not able to deliver that, and first of all, if you're not able to read that, and understand that, that's a failure point. You know, and as soon as we are able to understand we need to deliver that immediately. Otherwise, you know, we lose that advantage, because we lose the risk of eroding that value, which we have created with the customers until this point.

Alex McBratney  26:40

What does that (really quick Aarde) that look like with you and your executive team to basically keep a close enough pulse on your clients? Like how does? How does that pant? Like how does that work? How do you make sure that because things change rapidly, especially with technology, and it goes from pre pandemic way of doing things to post or current pandemic and has completely changed? And that's kind of an obvious one. But what about more like the nuance changes in customer behavior, essentially, to be able to recognize the what do you what kind of disciplines do you have in place to make sure you recognize those changes, and to get on it right away? 

Guneet Singh (Guest)  27:18

Right. So as you heard me say, customer understanding is one of the key pillar for the customer experience itself. So when I say customer understanding, it's not about you just waiting for a survey to come in. You need to have systems in place to monitor the usage of the product, how the customers are using the product, what are the different behaviors? So the action if they're sitting on a particular page or a particular product itself? What is the next action they are trying to do? You know, how often are they doing that? How much time are they doing? And then again, you can't look in isolation for these data points. So what I do is, and we do, as you know that not only that for you, but in the Peters companies as well, we tried to bring this 360 degree view of the customer into one single platform to say, hey, let's understand what is the behavioral data from this Guneet as a customer is telling us that Greed has tendency to buy only organic red apples over and over again. But then what are the actions he's taking, you know, he opens the app, and he shuts down within two minutes. So that means the speed is the most crucial factor, let's try to understand different value proposition for this particular customer, then understand a couple of times he has given us feedback that apples were not of good quality, so let's not show him if we only have, you know, last batch of apples remaining in a particular oil, you know, we show him you know, out of stock. So at the same time also, you need to start bringing that form of graphing data that let me understand where does money clip, you know, what, you know, thermographic data information we have about. So let's bring all the elements together what the quad, as well as the qual elements together into single platform to keep a real time tab on the customer. Now, it's easy to say very difficult to do and keep a tab on individual customers when you're dealing with like millions and millions of customers. That's why constant refreshing have an understanding of what customers their mental models, you try to identify the cohorts of customers, you try to understand the clusters, you know, what are the behaviors? What are the actions? What are the feedback responses, you start clustering the customers from that perspective, to understand, you know, what are the actions you can put in place? If a particular feedback is negative? What does that mean? And let's try to look at with respect to actions that customers has taken after giving that negative feedback. So that's going to keep us very kind of close to the reality. What I have in place is I have real time feedback coming in through various channels into single platform. So out of the box, you know, we have built up dashboards for different use cases for different parts of the business where each of the leaders can actually see real time. If I'm talking about market a, what are the customers talking in that market area, what are the sentiments what is moving or not moving in that one, what are the different behaviors which are more popular and common in that particular sector. So you have to build out that that's, that's the investment you have to do upfront, you can have, you know, built up that scale of tracking customer understanding.

Aarde Cosseboom  29:23

I want to touch on something you said a lot earlier, you were talking about emotion and how customer experience and emotion they go hand in hand, it's all about understanding the emotion of the customer, while they're on the call, or in the chatter, or wherever, whatever the communication method is. I also want to tie that into something he said a little bit later on, which was, you know, as things have evolved, and as expects expectations have evolved, we now have these new emerging technologies, we may not have used FaceTime to talk to a customer service rep about something in the past, but now we all have zoom at our fingertips, maybe teams, maybe all these other collaborative video type tools. So where do you see? And maybe this isn't a far off future? Maybe this is the very near future? Or if not, it's already here? Where do you see the future of customer experience and supporting customers through technology, communication technology? Do you see it going to video chat calls? Do you see it going to FaceTime? Do you see that like Apple business chat? What, just so that we can understand where your thoughts are on the future of customer experience? 

Guneet Singh (Guest)  31:30

Great, great tip. And great question on that when it the way I look at it, it's not what companies have to do to be at parity with their competitors. It's about giving customers the option of when they want to reach out to us how they want to reach out to us, and how often they want to reach out to us gone are the days when customers are saying you can only contact us between eight to five and only calling this number. If you are still living in that world, then you are definitely not, you know, staying awake with all the changes that are happening. Because the expectations are blended customers want if they are comfortable with you, we are seeing video chats coming in more and more. Without you know a lot of enterprise software, it's you know, the CRM office, they're investing heavily with respect to video chats, we do technology, you come to talk about the mental models on customer understanding, Gone are the days when companies are saying hey, let's look at this feedback survey or this mpsoc sat there saying let's look at the video testimonial customers are submitting to us. Let's understand, you know, Gone are the days people are talking even the Twitter is not all people are worrying about, like what customers are talking about today. The thing let's understand, if I heard some video from an influencer, and Instagram, or in any other Snapchat, you know, let me understand the video, let me understand the there was a live feed, or there was a real that came up. So let me kind of you know, figure that out. So companies are investing heavily, you know, which I've seen as a trend across that, you know, it's not about what options we need to give to the customers, it has to be universal, you know, we need to give customers ability to choose the channel of choice, time of their choice, and then how often they want to reach out to us now companies which are smarter, they're investing in so that they're eliminating the need of customer reaching out to us. So because you cannot eliminate the service element from the customers customer experience ever, you know, you will need to talk to human eventually, or sometime in the customer journey. You know, how can we make it more frictionless? How can we make it more effortless and make it more enjoyable? So yes, I when I use a product, you know, maybe apple or Amazon, I do have an issue. And I do want to get my resolution? Yes, by design, it's not easy to get a human upfront in one or two classes. But if I am a good customer in terms of you know, if I know what I'm trying to solve for I go and I have options to resolve myself. And most of the customers if you try to understand the mental model, they want to resolve especially if you're talking about enterprise space, most of the enterprise Kaspar, they want to resolve that issue quickly, you know, by themselves without waiting for somebody to resolve or without waiting for an appointment to take place. Yes. But in certain cases, you know, where their policy limitation or process limitation, you will need a human element as well.

Alex McBratney  34:33

Yeah, and I've seen a lot with companies that they have voice, you know, for phone calls and some email, right. But like you said, like that, and a lot the SAS companies that we see out there, they've got it nailed down, they know exactly where the industry is going. They know where tech is going. They're at the forefront of AI and bi data analytics. But there's a lot of companies out there that are still just doing it the old way because that's where they've always done it. Right. So you had the, you've had the benefit of working for bigger tech companies, what? What have you seen or even colleagues that you've talked to that are still stuck in that? Call it stuck in the past? And how do you? How would you advise them to like, Can I get out of that and get into the start utilizing the tech more.

Guneet Singh (Guest)  35:19

I'll just shamelessly go back to my same point as like, stop seeing investment of technology as a cost, right thought seeing it as an advantage that how can it help you capture new segment, or capture the existing segment better? or reduce the cost to serve that particular segment? or How can you reduce the friction, but to the most important piece in the customer journey, you know, use that angle to look at the technology rather than looking at Tech as a cost, Hey, I got to spend like a billion dollar and invest in XYZ AI solution, you know, and then I think the most modern pieces, don't go for Big Bang, you know, if you're an enterprise, you know, large enterprise tech company, still kind of not, not tech company, but enterprise company, which is not still heavy on the tech, start small. Pick a function, start understanding, you know, what are the customer problems you're trying to solve, just go small on one process, bring AI bring technology in that one single process, and you will create that poll across the organization. That's kind of, you know, what I have adopted as a technique over the last, you know, several years, you know, irrespective whether it's today's technology or yesterday, technology, start small with one function, one process to create that poll, rather than pushing out the need of change. So that's kind of, you know, the most crucial piece I would recommend.

Alex McBratney  36:42

Yeah, I love the crawl, walk, run approach, right? It's essentially the same thing, right? Start simple start small, you know, because if it works, well, then you know, you can, then essentially we just scale it up, right? It's all cloud based, typically. And that's a good, good way to go. Aarde, I have a question for you. So you know, at textile like how do you guys, you know, view the customer experience? Because I think it's similar in a lot of ways where it's changing so much, I'm sure it's changed a lot for you as well.

Aarde Cosseboom  37:11

Oh, yeah, absolutely. Servicing the customer across the channel of their choice is very important. Social media has been a huge channel of growth for us before 2019 2018 was when it really started to get crazy. They were actually our customers were actually requesting for us to use Facebook Messenger and Instagram direct and Twitter direct way before even Instagram direct had API's to integrate into tooling systems. One of the things that we found is really interesting is, and this goes back to the question I had earlier, around emotion for some of these channels like Facebook, messenger, Twitter, basically any of that mobile channels where you have them on your phone, and you want to communicate with a with a company, you can use things like emojis, dead emojis, pictures, people are trying to get around just text attacks. So for example, at textile wear fashion company would deliver things directly to people's door, and we'll get something that says your package has been delivered, it's at your doorstep. And they'll physically open up their door, take a picture of an empty doorstep and say, Nope, packages in here in a Facebook Messenger post, and then, you know, reply with sad emoji or like thumbs down or whatever that is, and you know, your traditional contact center, if you don't have the technology in place to even accept photos or accept emojis, it's going to be really confusing for your customer service agent to be able to respond. Or if you're not able to respond with emojis, you know, someone's like, saying, like your products, awesome. And they put like a fire emoji with a smiley face. Like, if you can send something back that's similar, like a big thumbs up or a heart symbol or whatever that is, that's going to resonate more than think so much in plain text. So yeah, it's it's definitely changed and I think it's going to change even more over the next couple of years.

Guneet Singh (Guest)  39:18

Yeah, I think I love that listening to you on that Facebook example of you said multiple times. And it goes back to conversation we were having, how culture plays again a very crucial role. Some cultures you know, may be very open to emojis. Or some cultures even forget about culture. Some demographics may not be actually comfortable with text, there may be just, you know, looking at emojis versus Tambor, hey, you know, don't give me this emoji give me you know, a proper and simple out. You know, so understanding that again, building the capacity or capability to understand who the customer is. That is the real secret sauce to implement, you know whether you want to do a B or C option. And whether the emoji or simple tax or you want to do any of the nonverbal communication or video chat. But yeah, you're absolutely right, that I think we need to enable customers for their choices.


Aarde Cosseboom  40:16

Yeah, and one of our brands is actually a lingerie brands. So although not a lot of explicit things are said via chatter over the phone. Sometimes they'll use swear words, at least in North America, they'll use swear words in the positive, you know, like, you know, that's effing awesome, or whatever, whatever the swear word is. But it's funny because we have technology in place to flag what those words are. And we obviously don't want our agents to be saying, swear words back to our customers. So we have to be very careful about how we navigate that conversation. But if it's set in the positive, then maybe that conversation changes, based off of what the customer's expectation is with, with the company that they're talking to. So it's just, it's very interesting. I think we're, I think he said it the best earlier, we're blurring a lot of lines, technology wise, also, our culture is blurring, as we're, you know, in in different environments with working from home. And, you know, there may be a dog in the background, or I think earlier, there was a crow, because I'm outside, and I'm working from home, and those things are starting to become a little bit more acceptable, or a kid running into the room. And, you know, asking like, Daddy, are you on a web call right now, like those? Those are just kind of normal things now, and we've accepted that. And I think our proverbial tie has loosened from in the business world a little bit more because of that.

Guneet Singh (Guest)  41:47

Yeah, absolutely. And I do want to go back to the example of Gemma's hair shedding about laundry thing. That's where the investment in logic comes into play. I'm sure your client is using NLP, to understand the context in which that swear word was used. And that's where I mean, like, we get to invest in technology and not as a cost. But as an advantage. If you had not, then you know, you have to put rules to kind of, you know, blank that or beat that word. And but if you have technology, which can understand the NLP, using NLP can understand the context for North American users using that particular brand. And you know, that it's not a negative, it's a positive sentiment, it's a thumbs up, you know, from that perspective, so that's a perfect example, you know, to what, you know, we have mapman, having exchanged on.

Aarde Cosseboom  42:37

So I had a question for you a little bit about customer experience, and changing gears a little bit about trust. So we all have different levels of trust with the brands that we use as consumers. And it's really important to not only build that trust, but also maintain that trust. So where do you see trust in not only a brand, but also the person or people that you're talking to that represent that brand? And how do you develop that trust and make sure that that trust is there in the in the long term?

Guneet Singh (Guest)  43:10

Great. You will get tired of hearing me again, and again, for the same treatment, emotional effort and success. But I think for the trust, on a serious note, the success is the single most important factor. Trust will not come if the customer is not successful, and the outcome they're trying to accomplish. So you got to be relentless about making your customer successful, on the goals they're trying to accomplish, you know, the things they're trying to accomplish. And once you have demonstrated that you have earned their trust, but they know that he she or this company, or that particular service, can enable me for success. You know, that's something you know, which is crucial. And that's, that's for me is the foundation of trust. And then from there on customer is going to, by default, take you for trust. And that's how the big brands you know, if you think about a, b and c of you know, top, you know, events, it's a trust because they know you have confidence when you go online today on that website, and you want to buy a gift for Mother's Day, you will get it and you will get it delivered tomorrow. And if you don't get it you have backups in place because they're going to compensate you or they can say you know what, we're going to ship overnight to something else. Yeah, obviously disasters can happen things can go off right left and right but that's kind of how you build that trust as a foundation.

Alex McBratney  44:43

Yeah, that's that's so true. And a lot of it's just can be just trust through consistency, right consistent success. And we always do everyone uses the Amazon example because it's, it's so prevalent all of our lives right now. Right. I know when my kids will get on watch the delivery coming their way and tracking it and whatnot. And they're disappointed when it's there in the evening, instead of the afternoon, or in the daytime where it was supposed to be, like, Look, it's not perfect, but Bezos is trying. So good either kind of brings us to the end. I know we're wrapping up against time, one of the quick questions that we always like to ask is talking about a brand experience that's been positive for you. Not the negative, but the positive. We all have one, you mentioned a little bit earlier about, you know, the food delivery from your local grocer. Is there one thing that you can think of, or one brand that you like, you know, what they went above and beyond? They met my expectations, I was a successful customer. And like, what, what does that experience on? What was it that that that brand may have done that, you know, pushed it over the edge? 

Guneet Singh (Guest)  45:45

Absolutely. Multi, Amazon definitely is one of the biggest brands, you know, which I really am fond of, but I'll say I'm more influenced by Jeff Bezos philosophy. And not from a business standpoint, but more from I think, inspiration, literally, that how relentless Lee, he has been driving the focus and the company that lets do what's right for the customer, year after year, irrespective of whether I'm going to make money or not, when I'm going to deliver. Now an example is like, I was trying to order a gift for my wedding anniversary a couple of years ago, and I ordered it well in time. And I've never right, I get an A call that one of the reps and said, I'm like, you're screwed me what's going to happen now? Like, okay, we're going to send and then we're going to send you an email, like it was an RFP. So you know, the delay, and we will make sure that your partner is copied on that as well. So that, you know, we take the blame, literally, for doing that, because that's kind of, you know, they're trying to, they made a mistake, but they're trying to accept it, and then trying to create additional value in that particular moment when I'm trying to, you know, yes, they could send me replacement. Yes, they ago, they could have refunded me but didn't have a need to kind of, you know, accept that play. Because they understood the gravity of situation, you know, I was dealing with our example, you know, at that time I was talking to them out, and they own it. Again, it's very simple. It didn't cost you anything, but it's just the culture, the understanding about what customers are really looking for. That is that, and that's where I feel like, that's the band, which I really cannot turn on. 

Alex McBratney  47:26

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, accountability, you know, builds trust, they take ownership. I think ultimately, you know, it comes down to just human to human connection and communication, empathy, and all those things that we know about psychology, it's just a matter of do businesses want to do it. And they want to put the effort in, to have that give that one on one experience to the masses. Right. But again, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on and I love when conversations go like this, because we could go another hour easily talking about all things customer experience, customer success. But thanks again for coming on the show. We absolutely appreciate it. 

Guneet Singh (Guest)  48:05

Thank you, Alex. Thank you for having me. 

Aarde Cosseboom  48:08

Absolutely. Thank you so much. And Alex, thank you for co hosting today, another great episode of Another Cloud Podcast. 

Alex McBratney  48:15

Well, that wraps up the show for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to join us next week as we bring another guest in to talk about the trends around cloud contact center and customer experience. Also, you can find us at, LinkedIn, or your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on Another Cloud Podcast.