It’s the customer journey that matters and if a partner can’t focus on putting the customer first and walking through the customer’s point of view, it’s hard for them to do the customer experience (CX) work at that level. Getting it right can be tough. Michael Truett, who was Director of Global Customer Operations at Spotify, believes the most vital aspect is for an outsourcer to have insight into the customer’s perspective.
Truett also held the position of Managing Director for Global Consumer Experience and Operations at The New York Times, and recently took up the position of Head of Operations for Customer Success and Experience at Newsela, an instructional content platform.
“A lot of people try to do CX in-house and they try to perfect as much as they can and then push out. It’s very similar to what companies do with support; it follows that same pattern,” he explained. But, if you do have a very good partner, you can start to get them engaged in the CX dimension of your business.
“That’s what we did. We started to get them engaged really early because they were there, they were in front, they were pulling all of that information and then we brought our team together with our offshore and nearshore vendors to start to build CX capabilities and start looking at customer journeys.”
Most of the bigger outsourcers have teams that can offer that expertise and complement and support in-house teams. “Within a lot of companies – Spotify, New York Times – we didn’t have a big team, it was maybe one person or two or three people so relying on the outsourcer was critical,” he said.
For Truett, the best collaborations, where you stand to benefit the most, are ones where you are able to rely on the outsourcer as a partner to go ahead and do the things that you can’t really do because you are a small team.
There are four core must-haves for companies to look for in a CX outsourcing partner, Truett believes:
- A focus on being able to be the customer: The focus cannot be about internal process, or about improving efficiency, because that has nothing to do with it. It is about the customer. The partner must have the ability to walk through a customer’s point of view without judging or defending. “The process could be 100% accurate to what you want to do, but when you look at it from a customer’s point of view, they might not be happy,” he said.
- Understanding segmentation and how to segment your users: Not one customer experience fits every single customer. So really being able to understand segmentation and drive different experiences for different people at different points in their journey is critical.
- Having technology in place to do some of the manual work: “This may include being able to pull customer sentiment from a social channel or support your QA team with QA by being able to do voice analysis without having to have people sitting there to do that. It makes you more efficient.”
- Having the ability to deliver true journey maps from a customer’s point of view, then aligning it to the product, and then aligning it to whatever other journey that the customer goes through, such as a marketing journey, and being able to create a full picture from that.
The core issue is: do they have the experience to do a true user-facing journey map?
“A lot of the outsourcers are good at process and procedure and cutting costs, and trimming and six-sigma, and sometimes that gets in the way of actually stepping out of all of that and just going through it from the customer’s point of view,” Truett explains.
He adds: “We had some partners that were very successful at that and then we had other partners that we knew couldn’t do that. They were awesome at trimming costs and streamlining and process, but struggled with taking it all the way back to the customer.”
While Truett believes that those partners can’t participate in the CX work at that level, it doesn’t have to spell the end of the partnership. “Once the pain points have been identified through the customer journey, then you can leverage them to improve the internal process based on those pain points. They are good at that, but might not be good at the front end point.”
A Different Point of View
The benefits are not just in terms of increased capacity for small teams. Truett says the biggest benefit was having different points of view, different culture, different aspects. “It opens your eyes up to a different thinking, a different level of thinking, which then in turn helps for that journey.”
Truett has worked with both offshore and nearshore partners. “With Spotify because we were a global company, it helped to have people across different places globally. We had multiple different partners. For Spotify, music is everything and it is very cultural driven.
Not having that cultural aspect behind it could have been an issue especially when you are talking about trying to create a great customer experience in a local market. You really need to get that local experience.”
While it is possible to do CX all in-house, most companies don’t staff to the level needed to make that a reality. Truett believes there needs to be a healthy balance and he doesn’t think you can ever lose that internal piece. The right partner, though, is equally crucial.
“We had some great partners. When we talked about doing journeys, they volunteered and said we can do that.” It’s what a true partnership is all about.