The race to having the ultimate customer experience is on! Companies are recognizing the importance of delivering an experience that makes them stand out from the competition. According to a study done by Gartner, 89% of companies today are now competing on the basis of positive customer experience. But in order to create this positive experience, you have to ask the questions your customers would ask themselves: Are you blown away by the performance of the product? Are you happy with the attention the customer service rep gives you to help solve your problem? These are some common examples of what elements are in play when building an amazing customer experience.
On today’s episode of the Igniting Startups podcast you’ll hear from a product leader with diverse leadership experience across product development and business operations. Mimi Nguyen started her tech career at Interactive Intelligence and has advanced to her current role as the VP of Product Management at Genesys, a global leader in providing users seamless and consistent contact management solutions that enable them to engage customers across their journeys via multiple channels.
Throughout this episode, Mimi will discuss her background with Interactive Intelligence and Genesys and how she stepped into a leadership role in product management. Mimi will also discuss the importance of customer experience and how its becoming an ongoing trend for companies to focus on. Tune in for more!
In this episode with Mimi Nguyen, you’ll learn:
- How to build a positive Customer Experience
- Stepping into a product management position and supporting your team
- How companies are focusing more on customer experience
- How Genesys is assisting its customers through CX
- Mimi’s thoughts on the future of CX
Please enjoy this conversation with Mimi Nguyen!
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If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.
Mimi Nguyen quotes from this episode of Igniting Startups:
“In the service industry, a customer is going to come to you with a problem that they’re trying to describe, and often times they come with a solution that they think they need for that particular problem.” — Mimi Nguyen of @Genesys on @PowderkegHQ podcast
“I don’t think that I’ve subscribed to the belief that if you’re dividing every customer, it’s an inconsistent experience. I think you can create delightful, repeatable experiences. The trick for a company to do that is how do you how do you scale personalization? How do you scale delight?” — Mimi Nguyen of @Genesys on @PowderkegHQ podcast
“The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong. Ultimately your job in a service industry is to create a phenomenal customer experience. ” — Mimi Nguyen of @Genesys on @PowderkegHQ podcast
“Your product is not actually just the technology. Your product includes how well people receive the service. You know, their experience with your customer service rep. Their experience with professional services, their whole experience through the entire sales process.”— Mimi Nguyen of @Genesys on @PowderkegHQ podcast
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Companies and organizations:
- Mimi Nguyen (@MimiNguyen)
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It’s important for you to step outside of what they’re actually telling you and look at the total landscape because you may be able to solve the problem in a different way, in a different capacity than what the customer themselves are asking for.
Hey there, Patrick fans. This is episode 95 of powderkeg. Igniting startups, the show for entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators, building remarkable tech companies in areas decidedly outside of Silicon Valley. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And today, we’ll be talking all about customer experience, the future of CX and how it’s continuing to evolve. Customer Experience is your customer’s perception of how your company treats their entire customer base. These perceptions affect their behaviors and build memories and feelings that drive their loyalty. In other words, if they like you and continue to like you, they’re going to continue to do business with you and recommend you to others, you being not just how they engage with you, but also the product. And I’m sure we’ll talk a lot about that too. Today, we’re going to cover a lot of grounds, you know, the difference between some of these terminologies, sort of the the future and the innovation happening in the industry. And I’m really excited to have guests here in the office today to join us, I should say in studio, but it’s our office. Our guest today has diverse leadership experience across product development services, and business operations. She has had the privilege in all of these roles to innovate and create significant change. She started her career with Interactive Intelligence and has advanced her roles where she’s now with Genesis, and is the VP of Product Management. Please help me welcome Mimi win.
Thanks, Matt. That was a pretty good intro.
Hey, it was scripted. So I’m really excited to talk to you because, well, one, I kind of met you for the first time at our last event, or at least got to know you a little better at our last event. As I was grilling you on stage, you were grilling me on stage with some really good questions. So I’m really happy to turn the tables and now I get to grill you. Before we get started, though, I would love to I guess as we get started, I’d love to learn a little bit more about kind of your backstory, and how you came to be doing what you’re doing. As a VP at Genesis. Do you remember your very first exposure to technology and technology products?
Yes. Oh, gosh. You know, my father was an electrical engineer with AP. So he was always geeking out with the newest technologies, right? And you know, I remember like this big gray box. I just appeared one day in his office and he’d be playing these games that were on this floppy disk. And he wouldn’t let me touch the computer. But I would. I’d stand over your shoulder and watch what he was doing right and then start to hack at the computer in order to get to these games when I was I don’t know.
Six Seven, you were a hacker at a
command line from everybody. That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s my first memory.
Do you remember what your first one of your first games was? Are we talking like dos?
Yeah. Oh, yeah. DOS games for sure. No floppy
disks were actually floppy. Yes, exactly. Oregon Trail word munchers even before Oregon Trail. Okay, nice. Nice. That’s cool. So did this kind of like prompt career in tech? You’re like, I know, I want to be.
So how did you find it? Or how did it find you? I guess I should say,
I guess. Because I my parents did not want me to be a starving musician. And I wanted to be a musician. And then I said,
What kind of music?
Classical piano Oh, wow. Yeah, cool. So couldn’t be a musician. Couldn’t get into creative writing one because I wasn’t that great of a writer to begin with, to it’s also another job that doesn’t really make you money, at least not in the eyes of your parents. And so now I really wanted to go to college. In fact, I wanted to graduate high school early. And in order for me to go to college, I had to go into a degree that my parents approved of. And so since my dad was an engineer, and the rest of my family was in computer technology, I said, why not? Let’s let’s try out this computer thing. So I ended up at Purdue.
Go Boilermakers. Hi, what were you studying at Purdue computer science
and then transferred into computer technology? After college was I was in the restaurant industry hoping to go to culinary school and just go into the food industry. Which is a very difficult challenging job. Yeah, right.
You want to enter the food industry. I attempted to okay, but we’re the computers Science degree
with a computer science degree, passion with a passion. Passion is important for our food, hospitality customers. Customer Experience.
Purdue has a great htm program, hotel and tourism management program to do. Thank you. Are you dropping in on any of those classes? Are you just caught the bug
real world experience?
Awesome. What’s your favorite dish? To create
to create? Just what I had for lunch roasted duck breast, you know, it’s super simple, a nice sear just like you would cook steak. It’s really easy, but extremely flavorful.
I didn’t realize you were so multitalented I assume you can still play piano? I can a little bit. Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, cool. Well, maybe at some point we can find a way that you and a piano can be in the same room and we can have a recording equipment so we can or or maybe we can do cooking with Mimi, when
not in this room. It’s so small. But yeah, we’ll do a cooking classes will be awesome.
You know, Casey on our team is a huge, like big time cook. Really? Yeah, he’s he’s got some pretty legit skills. Okay, so we’ll have to connect you afterwards. But Casey’s legit. I digress. So you briefly went into food with a computer science degree? That’s right. What did you learn in the food and service industry?
Multitasking how to run an effective, effective and efficient business, how to take care of customers.
What was one of the lessons you learned about how to take care of customers, while working in the food industry?
The customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.
That’s quotable. They are
because ultimately your job in a service industry is to create a phenomenal customer experience, right? You want that customer to not only put food in their bellies, right, but to really enjoy the entire ambiance and atmosphere from the moment that they they walk in to when they talk to the hostess, to how they get sat down and greeted, and the temperature of the food that comes out there Roma, the visual aspects to when they leave. And in the restaurant industry, you know that customer reviews and customer referrals and repeat customers is just so important for your business.
Yeah, well, and even more and more so now with software and tech companies to exactly what he’s talking about, like Capterra, or G to any of these platforms that are every product now that at least has some critical mass has a has a profile.
Yes. And especially being in this cloud world where it’s just so easy to just pick another vendor, write another competitor to drop what you originally had, and just move on to what you believe to be the next best. Yeah, customer experience. And customer service is so important.
So talk to me a little bit about what you learned with the with the review side of things. You know, the customer’s always right, even when they’re wrong is a good start. But were there any kind of like hacks or strategies that you use while you’re in the food industry to get more positive reviews, or maybe even to give a different outlet than Yelp? When someone has a complaint?
You know, tip number one is to make sure that you’re always humble, right? You’re humble, and you’re apologetic, because there will be mishaps. Always and this is true for for for any industry is you’re always going to make mistakes with customers, and the best thing that you can do is just apologize and then give them options to on how to make it right. Yeah. Right. And then in terms of in terms of marketing, you know, the, the restaurant that I was I was managing, you know, we were really small. So we didn’t have a necessarily a large marketing budget, but we always encourage customers to, to leave really good reviews, we were also transparent to them that, you know, our business depends on you getting the word out. Yeah. So we’d always make sure that, you know, we’d leave like a little card and the portfolio or the bill to share the good
news. Nice like that. Did you ever incentivize reviews? No. You just asked asked for it. If you if you genuinely liked it.
Yeah, if you genuinely liked it, and I, I don’t know that I really liked to incentivize reviews. I think that skews that skews a review in itself. Like I really want people to just leave genuine feedback, because they had such an amazing experience.
Yeah. Is there anything you do above and beyond the, you know, I’ve kind of heard differing opinions on this was in terms of customer experience, where it’s sort of like every customer should be surprised and delighted. But then I’ve heard the reverse side of that advice, which is if you’re surprising and delighting that’s an inconsistent customer experience. If unless that’s consistently, every customer is surprised and delighted by the same, you know, engineered experience.
Um, but it’s a really good question. I don’t think that I subscribe to the belief that if you’re delighting every customer, it’s, it’s an inconsistent experience, I think you can create delightful, repeatable experiences. The trick for company to do that then is, you know, how do you how do you scale personalization? How do you scale delight? And in the customer experience? Well, I think that’s like the million dollar question, right?
Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and we’ll get to that, as we dive into some of the product stuff you’re working on. Can you tell me a little bit about why ultimately, you decided to transition out of food and service?
Yeah, food and services. It’s a tough business when you have when your nuclear family and friends are also not in the restaurant industry, you’re ultimately working on different schedules. Sure. And then as a young 20, something year old, your social life is also very important. But then I also had this background that I felt I could go into. And then if the passion was still there, and few decades from now is always something that I could revisit going back into the food industry. It’s still there. So maybe one day you’ll see me around Indianapolis, but
keep an eye out. Yeah, Chef when chef when I like it. Cool. So talk to me about from there was that when you kind of got an intro into Interactive Intelligence? I did. How did you connect with that company? 2005. So
Interactive Intelligence at the time was growing so rapidly. They were founded in 1994, became public in 1999. And when I joined the company in 2005, they were a company of about 600 people. Max globally,
based in Indianapolis, based here in
Indianapolis, headquartered here. And then by the time they exited and merged with Genesis at the end of 2016. You know, we were at 1800.
Wow. That’s some serious growth. That’s
really good growth. Yeah.
Can you talk to me a little bit about what the product was, when you joined in 2005.
And 2005, we had, we had one product, and it was called CAC. And it was a communications platform that provided voice and digital communications for contact centers, primarily, we had some enterprise capabilities as well. But we’ve mainly focused on the contact center space,
and was it hard for you to transition from non tech, food, food in service industry with a computer science degree, then go into a tech company?
No, not at all, you know, I came in, in the services and support engineering organization, and my job was to solve problems might solve customer problems. And I’ve always been someone who, you know, would take a problem, run with it all the way through and even like, look for problems that, you know, may have existed, but wasn’t really, you know, necessarily at the forefront of people’s minds just to solve it, because I’ve just liked to solve things. So that was a really great organization for me. And they also put me in a position where I was able to build a global team and kind of build a business practice around specifically around business intelligence, Development and Engineering and support. And so having that that restaurant background of okay, look, I know, I need to take care of my customers, I need to build a business that’s, that’s scalable and optimized, a, you know, a lot of pieces fit together along with my educational background.
Yeah, absolutely. When you talk about kind of that, that role in services, and support. It sounds like problem solving is a really key skill set to have, what are some of the other skill sets that now you know, working on the team at Genesis, you really value and think really set someone apart when they’re in the services or in the support side of the business,
you get to know so many of the problems that your customers are facing, so you have this real world experience of kind of all the pains that they have, not just with, like the actual product itself, or the feature capability that they’re trying to use, but the business problems that they’re trying to solve because I was coming in from a bi standpoint where they’re trying to take all this data that’s being collected not just by the systems that were generating, the systems that they were using, from, from Interactive Intelligence, but they were trying to combine it with all the other data systems from the enterprise to create like a holistic story about what was happening with their customers. And so I got to learn a lot about these business problems and these business challenges, and then help walk these customers through the technical problems, the transformations that they needed to do on their business, and in order to really make sense or to have even a cohesive business plan to then leverage the technology in the best way possible. Yeah. So being in the forefront, and then also having to groom all these new team members and new engineers and build this practice really gave me a good perspective about, you know, how do you how do you bring people along? Because I think that’s one of the big challenges that we have, and really everywhere is, how do you help people go through a transformation when they know that there’s a Northstar? The biggest challenges, what are those right, like stepping blocks and those white milestones? And how do you?
And are you talking about for your team or for your customers? Or both? Yeah, how do you really kind of stair stepped on to get to this new world, that maybe if you didn’t stair step into it and just made a big shift? It might be jarring, as opposed to kind of
jarring or complete failure? I mean, you could take like a simple example of, you know, maybe purchasing a particular piece of software for your company. Yeah. And how many times have people purchased a piece of software, and then it just doesn’t work for them? Because they think they can just drop it in? With like, no plan of adoption, and no phase way of getting there. And then it just just sits there and collects dust?
Yeah, I know, there’s a lot of software companies now trying to work on that meta problem of how do you get people to adopt the software? Which is, is a fascinating. It’s fascinating that that’s where we are now, right? Like that there’s software for adopting software, and software for choosing what software is right for you. Yeah, that’s the big old, or the oldest time now, quote, of Software is eating the world, right? definitely happening. There’s something you said sparked a thought which was, in your when you’re in that support and services role, your job, as I understand it, is usually to solve whatever your primary job is to solve whatever problem the customer is happening, having. But I would imagine a lot of time times the feedback that you’re getting, isn’t just like, hey, I want to get this thing done that your software does. A lot of times, it’s probably hey, I want to get this thing done, done that your software or your product doesn’t currently do. How do you create organizationally, a structure where these people on the frontlines in support and services can help fuel the further innovation of the company and and direct the product roadmap?
Yeah, so we, at a Genesis, and we implemented this back at interactive, as well as we have recurring internal stakeholder meetings that happen every six weeks with various departments. So I’ll have a six week meeting with support and services, I’ll have a six week meeting with sales and our advisors and our customer success teams. And it’s an open feedback loop as to what they’re seeing on the front lines. And we do ask them to do work ahead. It’s it’s not a free for all conversation, it’s come to us with your top five things and talk to us about like why that’s important for your customers. What the value proposition is the value to them the value to Genesis, why does it Why is it so painful for you, so that we can better understand it?
How do you then from there, how do you then take this department says these five things are important, but this department says these five things are important. Maybe there’s only overlap on one or two of them? How do you how do you systematically and you don’t have to give you know, the secret sauce away, so to speak, but like how organizationally, do you look at deciding like, Is this more important than that?
I think you have number one is you have to be very clear as to what your strategy is, what principles and objectives do you want to align your product strategy towards? And so you first take a look and say, okay, are these requests even aligned to where I want to go? And then, if not, then you know, like case by case basis, you might, you might evaluate something just to be able to delight a handful of customers, especially if they’re quick wins and they’re low effort to do. Other ways you You know, once you have your guiding principles, then you can start to evaluate the cost versus, you know, the ROI, and then total alignment, like, will this incrementally move me in the direction that I want to go? And how far? It’s not a hard science, you know? Yeah, there’s, there’s at least, there’s at least a framework that we follow to like score and really try to objectively evaluate everything that comes in as much as possible.
Okay? And how do you? How do you get that buy in from those individual teams? Right, where maybe they’re not really being scored on how well the product is developing, they’re being scored on how well the customer is being served? How do you incentivize those teams? And maybe it’s not just incentivized, but like, how do you make them feel it make that make them feel that same urgency around the product, so that everyone on the team, not just the product team? really cares?
It’s about culture? Yeah, it comes down to culture, especially now that you’re in this, this cloud, the service world, your product is not actually just the technology, right your product is includes how well people get service, you know, their experience with your customer service, rep, their experience with professional services, or experience through the entire sales process. And then it’s a product and it’s almost like the product is the least important part of that equation. So you have to transform as a company to really believe that like the end to end engagement that we have, and touch points with a customer that we have is really the product.
Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I I fully believe that. I would imagine, sometimes it’s hard to get everyone rowing in the same direction. Especially when your organization gets bigger than I mean, right now, my team is not 1600 people, I can tell you that. And even then sometimes it’s hard to make sure everyone is sees where the product division is going, and understands how to how they how what they’re doing makes an impact. Yeah. So I appreciate some of that feedback. So take me back to the services and support role. You’re at Interactive Intelligence, it’s 2005 2006. How did how did that role evolve? And what was kind of your next step in your career?
Yeah, so I was in that organization for for quite some time, I had built this this global practice. And
did you did you have one, like, particularly challenging experience when you’re in that role?
Oh, I’ve probably suppressed it. Probably enough trauma that it’s, I’m not going to be able to recall it. But fair enough, you know, when you’re in the front lines, you you do walk into some pretty, pretty hairy situation. Well,
and I don’t necessarily need details of that. But is there an example that maybe you could share that, you know, for the people who are going to run into this sort of situation in the future, let’s say you’ve got just a customer that is irate, so angry beyond being able to talk logically. Luckily, we haven’t had any of those at powderkeg. But I’ve certainly seen it like at a restaurant or something, when someone’s like, you know, send us back and I want to read, you know, you see that person in the restaurant, you’re like, oh, my gosh,
well, in those situations, when someone is just completely irate, you know, their emotions are totally taking over their logical functions. So you can’t talk logic with them, all you have to do is kind of react emotionally, and just apologize. But but maybe a tip that I will give is, you know, in the service industry, that customer is going to come with you with a problem that they’re trying to describe, and oftentimes a solution that they think they need for that particular problem. And it’s important for you to step outside of what they’re actually telling you and look at the total landscape, because you may be able to solve the problem in a different way, in a different capacity than what the customer themselves are asking for. And so while that particular feature or functionality doesn’t exist in the product itself, if they changed, maybe one way in which they like entered into the problem or something in their environment, or use the product in a completely different way, their business problem as a whole is soft.
even though they don’t, they don’t have that one little button that they want to tweak to be able to do this one little thing.
So you kinda have to like step outside and sort of sort of observe the situation as a whole. Yeah. And know what kind of tools you have at your disposal in your role, whether it’s in service or as a product. Yeah, that’s good feedback. That’s really good feedback, rather than it’s a yes, no on their suggested fix. Yeah, that’s great. I’m sure you have a lot more tips like that. So feel free to pepper those in as they as they come back to you. I’m not trying to make you recall repressed memories here. But talk to me a little bit about where you went from the services and support side of things. And if there was a why behind that, or if it was all kind of happenstance, as some careers tend to go, Yeah, I
was blessed with a lot of great career opportunities within the company. And I ended up moving into product management just for a handful of years, because I had built this practice and really understand customer base. And we were, we were building solutions. So that was a natural fit for me. And then after product management, I went into this role called business operations. And this was at the height of when we were transforming into a cloud company. Oh, wow. And the role was there to really support all the services in the cloud operations for the club business. So I had a team of a team of pMOS, and business analysts and financial support analysts and even an r&d teams to build tools and operation operational processes for the cloud business. And that was a role that I was totally unqualified.
Why do you say that?
Because it was, it was a role that required me to really step up in terms of my my own leadership. You know, I was starting to manage folks who were way more way higher and seniority than I was starting to manage folks who were significantly smarter than I was, right. I knew the business inside out. And it was a very critical role because it was a function that was meant to drive growth as well as optimize the business. Yeah. Um, but I was, I was fortunate to have a leader that really believed in my potential, and go ahead and put me there. So I think that was probably the most most transformative role that I had at interact with Genesis.
How did you feel when you first heard about this opportunity? Maybe maybe when your mentor approached you with it? What was your initial reaction?
Holy crap, let’s do this.
You were all for it. Yeah. That’s great. No, looking back.
no looking back. I
am you’ve already gone into the foodservice industry. You’ve already gone from playing classical music to computer science. Yeah. So you knew how to kind of jump into a new
kind of, I think, but that’s, that’s my disposition. You know, I I’m afraid of a lot of things. But my way of getting over fear, because logically, logically, I know that fear is is illogical.
Yeah. Right. Absolutely. And so
there’s very little that you can do to talk yourself out of being scared, you’re just gonna be scared. So others have done it before you, you can too, so just go do it.
I love that. That’s good advice. Talk to me a little bit about how you jumped into a role. I mean, when you when you take a role, I’ve been there too, I’ve been in a role that had no business being in and, and that feeling of sort of, okay, I’ve got a learning gap here. And I’ve got a skills gap. And I’ve got a lot to learn. How did you spend your first few weeks in that new role?
You, you interview, you interview your your people about, you know, what’s really going great and organization, what needs to be improved, because your role as a leader is not to be the subject matter expert, your role, at least my viewpoint is my role as a leader is to support the organization. And, you know, help my people overcome obstacles to really truly being that servant leader. And yes, do I need to know enough to make sure that you know, they are making the right decisions and to guide them when they are stuck? Of course, sure, but you can always learn. So step number one is to understand challenges of the organization challenges of the people, what they’re trying to achieve, what their goals are. And then you can start to formulate the plan of alright, what is it that I need to learn if I if there is anything? And then those steps of how do I support my people as a human being?
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And when when you’re building that kind of rapport with the team. Did you Did you ever have any missteps along the way when you’re kind of figuring out that next level of leadership that you learned that you learned from?
Sure yeah, I think I think managing people is maybe the hardest job because every person is so different. As much as we’d like to say, you know, everyone’s the same. They’re not. Right, we all we all come from different backgrounds, different perspectives, we all have different triggers. And understanding those triggers was the hardest part, and then knowing how to navigate around them, because we worked in a very stressful environment. So you, you had to know, you had to have some firm beliefs around, you know, what is what is good work ethic, you know, what, what culture do I value? Okay. Number one is like, what culture? Do I value in my team? And then really believe in that and start to evaluate, okay, are these people the right fit? You know, are they being triggered in a way that, you know, we we can we can, we can fix we can soften up so that they can conform to the culture? And then if not make the decision to find them a new home. It’s important, so, yeah, so number one was, like, trying to make sure that the culture was right.
Yeah, absolutely. When you’re, when you’re looking at creating that culture, I know, at Genesis, it’s a very customer centric culture, what are some of the ways that leadership can influence the customer experience? You know, aside from the fact that you’re the product leader, and that has a huge impact on the customer experience, what are some of the other ways that that leadership can impact the customer experience?
Leadership, by example, if you’re, if you see your leader, like genuinely, truly caring about the end customer, you know, actively engaging with the customer base, then your people will follow. And I’ve seen too many, I’ve seen too many, you know, managers in an organization’s where, you know, leader isn’t really in touch with the customers themselves, you leave it to like other people in the business and, and what happens there is that other leaders start to then adopt it, because it’s easy to not engage with customers, like if you engage with customers, you’re probably walking into a problem,
right? And customers always have problems, customer
problems, but this is why we’re in business, because we’re here to solve problems for customers, right? So it’s, it’s funny, but you know, it’s, it’s an easy way out is to kind of like step back, and then start to push the customer service, or the customer facing responsibilities, or the customer management, like down into the organization, and it doesn’t go well, when that happens.
It’s more bottom bottom up, lead by example. Do you have any examples from your time at Genesis or even in other roles? Where you saw a leader exhibit? Something that was very customer centric, that you thought, wow, that’s?
Yeah. My boss, not that. Not that I’m sucking up to my
right, I asked the question. I asked the question.
But, you know, my leader is a really good example of someone who leads by example, and is really, you know, customer centric, he listens really well. He follows up really well, which is hard. And it’s a rare trait for someone that senior to, you know, come back to the customer in a very personalized way and say, you know, thank you for your time, I hear all the problems that I’ve understood from you. And here are the actions that my organization is going to take.
Wow. Yeah, that sounds a lot does. That’s impressive.
It really is. So he set a high bar for us. Yeah, that’s
good. That’s it’s always good to have a high bar team. Talk to me a little bit a little bit about what you’re seeing now. In your new product role, or not new product role, but the the role that you’re in now is VP of product? Yes. It is a transition from that operations, director of operations role. What’s different about what you’re doing today than what you’ve done in the past? And maybe what’s what’s very similar and familiar.
Yeah, so now I lead one of three portfolios within Genesis, and right now it’s the portfolio that generates the largest cloud revenue for us. And I will say there’s, there’s a lot of similarities between business operations and product management, like you’re always thinking about, how do I how do I spend my resources and my budget wisely in order to move the business ahead? You have to think about your product as
a business. First, yeah. You
And then. And then maybe what’s different is that it is a little bit more product centric. So now I get to geek out on the technologies like really cool things like AI and digital tech, to bring it into the portfolio stack. But the underlying theme of it all is delivering really great customer experiences, through our services and through our products, which has, has always been part of my life. Yeah, look at all the roles that I’ve had.
It’s like you’ve been training for this your whole life. That’s right. I love it. Well, talk to me a little bit about the innovation that you’re seeing in CX right now. What are some of the cool new technologies products even that are out there? What do you most excited about? And then maybe what are you most terrified by?
Oh, I probably one of the same. So maybe maybe we should take a step back. So you know, customer experience is this broad topic?
Yeah. Help me with that definition? Because there’s CX, there’s UX there. I mean, there’s a lot of different facets. How do you define CX?
Yeah, so customer experience CX, I would define it maybe in the most simplistic form is every single touchpoint and engagement point that your company has or your brand has, with a customer, regardless of that customer is an existing customer or net new customer? Okay. And then UX is definitely a component of that as well. But there, there’s probably three categories of UX within CX. So the first one being, single interaction. So what is the experience? Like when I’m paying a bill on my mobile app? Yeah. Okay. The second one being the whole customer journey, which is what a lot of people attribute CX, to, which is understanding the before and the after of that single event. So the entire process of which a customer goes through in order to achieve a goal over an extended timeline. Okay. And then the last one is relationship experience. So that single interaction, the combination, or the combination of those journeys, plus, you know, marketing and everything else that your your company is doing. And so you apply, like UX into each one of those. But they all roll up in and contribute to your overall CX brand that you’re delivering. It’s their
perception of interacting with your company. Pretty much a product. Yeah. That’s great. That’s a helpful definition. I like that. That’s good. Yeah.
Good. And so that’s really broad landscape. And so for Genesis, we’re really focused on the communications aspect of it, that the connection aspect of it both the reactive and the proactive communication. So you know, how do we enable businesses like yourselves to reach customers and reach and connect with customers at the right time? In the right way? With the right people? With the right context?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Just just that little thing,
just just that,
so just that little problem.
So then that segues into like, okay, what are we actually what do we actually build? Right? And, you know, when I talk about connections on communications, the most obvious thing that comes to mind, are channels like, Can I make a place a phone call? can I connect with you over email, or text? Or can I communicate with you through social media or messaging apps? And then it goes into? Am I going to connect with the right person who can help me who’s skilled, right, so we can start to route those interactions to the right person. But in order to do that, you also have to have the right context about the customer. So what we try to do is just kind of solve that whole problem of can we with one solution, give you all those capabilities to create those connected moments. A lot of companies today try to do with multiple vendors, multiple systems, you know, the data management gets to be a nightmare, because ultimately, in order to have the right context, you’re probably pulling data from like different systems. Right?
Right customer. Absolutely. As opposed to everything’s in one database, getting connected to one contact or one user and You can actually attribute everything and, and do
the analysis to track everything back. Yeah. And really understand like, what your customer is doing, and then what your agents are doing? And are you delivering the right experience and outcome. And that’s, that’s a really hard problem. And so we’re trying to solve that for the customer. And we’re bringing a lot of not only digital technologies and for the communications piece, but how artificial intelligence practices.
Well, and I know, I know, one of the things that’s changed. I remember when it was such a big deal of like, all this company actually responds on social media. And these companies aren’t responding on social media, and that big adoption that happened maybe a decade ago, in 2009. I imagine there’s something similar happening now, even with AI and chat bots, and that whole world of how are you using the latest tools? I guess there’s an ongoing? How are you using the latest tools and technologies to be responsive? But in a way that still feels human? And not icky?
Yeah, and doesn’t that all sound a little bit daunting?
I mean, how does more than a little bit, a little bit?
Which channels do I use? Like, should I be on social media? Should I be on you know, WhatsApp, like, do I need to be communicating is text message the right way to communicate or is email better? It’s really hard for businesses to really know without a lot of trial and error, a lot of significant investment. And I think that’s, that’s where AI comes in, you know, we have the principle of one like, let’s, let’s make adoption of channels really easy for customers, so they can communicate across all those channels, but then let’s bring AI in and to make those difficult decision points. Easy. And then also to help scale the business. Now, with all these channels that we just talked about, and means of communication, that means your business is probably gonna see a large increase in interactions are already being bombarded with, with communications that you have to respond to. And the solution isn’t necessarily to hire more bodies, right? It’s, but at the same sense, you know, while you can introduce AI, like chatbots, and voice bots, which we have been, you don’t want AI to replace humans either,
right? yet? I don’t think ever I know I don’t. I’m worried has given you a hard time. Yeah, maybe that goes back to the thing you’re most excited about, and most terrified by
exactly the most exciting and the most frightening is, is AI. But I know, I truly believe that AI will never fully replace humans. AI is great, you know, use a bot for kind of low sensitivity, low value transactional types of, of, of tasks, there’s not a lot of value for me to talk to a rep just to get the balance on my account. Right. Right. But there’s high value for me to talk to you a human being when I think there’s fraud on my account, right when I’m like, emotionally invested in a situation and the situation is complicated. Last thing I want to do is to talk to a bot.
Yeah, right. Yeah. Or one of those automated voice messages that is like 30 seconds before they give you the options.
Exactly, exactly. And so when we’re talking about like customer experience, I think it’s important for customers, and businesses who are thinking about bringing in AI is that customer experiences is about connection, human connection. And a robot is never going to be able to establish that level of connection, empathy, trust that a human being can, and I don’t think that they ever will be able to.
Yeah, it occurs to me that, you know, being here in Indianapolis, where Genesis is headquartered. And I might be a little bit biased being based here in Indianapolis as well. But it does seem like one of the, it’s sort of like in the ethos of the heartland and of the Midwest, to kind of be customer centric to be this kind of like, I mean, your family members are like always, like super hosts and like friends are always like, are you okay, like, are you hungry? Are you thirsty? It’s sort of like above and beyond. Nice. It’s a little bit of like the Midwest. Nice. Day, have you seen some benefits of having a business, or at least one of your offices here in the Midwest, as opposed to on the coast? And maybe it’s not just because people are nice, but
Well, I think I think, you know, the Midwest genetics of being nice, is really valuable for With the company, and you see people here, at least at least in the Indianapolis office, you know, we’ve got this strong mentality and culture of, you know, we just want to do what’s right for our customers and for our people. So even if it’s not within my job responsibility, and it’s not something that we’ve ever done before, but I know it’s the right thing to do. We’re gonna go do it.
That’s important. Yeah. i But, but it has a lot to do with the growth over time of that customer base. And the loyalty to it does, let’s cool. Well, what do you what’s next? What are you most excited about right now that you can talk about?
Gosh, we’ve had some really cool stuff that’s happening on the on the product front. You know, we a couple hasn’t been a couple of years, maybe it’s only been a year, we we had acquired this company called Alpha cloud that has extended our ability to understand the customer journey, even before a customer calls into the contact center, which as I mentioned, was kind of like a core bread and butter and what we had focused on what’s the context centerpiece. So that allows us to have so much data on you know, what a customer is doing on a website, their propensity to buy the propensity to engage in a certain process or outcome. And it really rounds out our story. And then we’ve we’ve made significant investments in artificial intelligence to that. Knows, it’s setting ourselves up to really do some incredible things with like, helping our customers scale with, with all the changes that are happening, the scale with the the volume of interactions that are coming in, to make all these difficult concepts really easy, because who doesn’t want an easy button?
Yeah, right. I definitely want an
easy button. Yeah. Well, the next powder keg event, Genesis is going to be pitching, you’ll learn a lot more about what we’re up to and where we’re going
on August 13, at Vision loft in downtown Indianapolis, or if you’re listening to this from outside Indy, and you can’t make it or maybe tickets already sold out, because it’s actually a smaller venue. You can watch it live on Facebook at facebook.com/powderkeg. So make sure you save that and we’ll link that up in the show notes as well. Mimi, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Growing through the service industry through the product and technology, industry. Everything you’ve learned in your career. It’s really inspiring and I know we’re just scratching the surface of it. So we’ll have to do a repeat sometime soon. I would really enjoy that. Again, please make sure you check out the show notes and learn a little bit more about Mimi about Genesis. I hope you walk away feeling inspired and also with some actionable things to bring back to your team. And make sure you follow Genesis at Genesis. That’s g NESY. S and to be among the first to hear the stories about entrepreneurs, investors and other tech leaders outside of Silicon Valley. Subscribe to us on iTunes at powderkeg.com/itunes. We’ll catch you next time on powderkeg igniting startups