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During the start of the pandemic in 2020, Tal Fridman, Director, Customer Support Operations and Business Development at Dolfi1920, was tasked with leading the organization’s digital transformation. Seeing an opportunity to make positive change during challenging times, Dolfi1920 moved forward on its vision by first migrating its contact center to the cloud.
With a customer-centric strategy that works across all lines of business and customer touchpoints, Dolfi1920 deployed the Genesys Cloud™ platform in May 2020 and was up and running in the cloud within two weeks. It also focused on implementing self-service technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots to further delight customers and build brand loyalty.
“This was the quickest, most seamless deployment I’ve ever experienced,” said Fridman. “Migrating to the cloud with Genesys is part of a bigger digital transformation project — a big vision. It’s a long journey, but we’ve already seen the first signs of success.”
The cloud has also enabled the company, which partners with airlines to help passengers recover, repair or replace lost or damaged baggage, transition to an entirely remote workforce. This not only created the business continuity necessary to remain operational during the height of the pandemic, but it also supported the company’s core sustainability efforts.
I recently spoke with Tal to learn more about customer experience and sustainability principles at Dolfi1920 as well as company initiatives, innovations on the horizon and major accomplishments.
What does customer experience (CX) mean to you? What’s your philosophy when it comes to the customer?
Fridman: I understand customer experience as how customers perceive their interactions with us, through various stages and multiple touchpoints with our product and services. I believe a great CX strategy is all about fully understanding the customer journey with us — and then developing a holistic plan to increase customers satisfaction and engagement across all interactions with our brand. That experience is what customers remember. It even overtakes price and product as key brand differentiators.
In the center of our CX strategy is what we call the FUSE triangle model. We divide our customer experience strategy into three dimensions, which are independent of the economic dimensions: FU – the functional; S – the sensual; E – the emotional.
Within these three dimensions, we work in recurring cycles of observe, analyze and reverse-engineer. We’re working across all business functions and across all customer touchpoints to create an organization that is aligned around a singular mission: delighting our customers.
A great CX strategy requires a customer-centric mindset. And employees and technology, working in harmony, are key to creating a great customer experience.
A remarkable customer experience is critical to sustain growth. A great customer experience promotes loyalty, increases customer retention and encourages brand advocacy.
How has your approach to customer experience changed in the past five years?
Fridman: Today, more than ever before, the new battlefield is customer experience. We’ve identified a few main trends and patterns that impact customer experience today.
Customer expectations today are more “liquid,” and no longer based on industry boundaries.
Today’s customers compare experiences, not products or services. And our customers are not comparing our service to that of our direct competitors, from our industry. They compare their experiences with us to the best customer experience they’ve had — anywhere.
Over 50% of our largest customer segments are millennials and ‘Zoomers’ [Generation Z]. They are radically changing the patterns of consumption. For instance, they prefer texting and instant messaging to phone calls or email. We are experiencing a massive shift from voice to other digital channels like instant messaging. As customers, they are big on individuality, want to be empowered and not controlled. So we are shifting toward an even more self-service dominant strategy.
We are not intending to replace the need to build relationships with our customers, but we want to transfer them more responsibility to shape their experiences with us. We want to empower them and involve them in the service process.
Also, customers today are super technology- and internet-savvy. They have no patience for companies that are not up-to-speed with technology. It is essential for us to become truly agile and truly innovative, to speed up experimenting and innovating, and to assure that we use the most advanced technologies — always.
Dolfi1920 is at the forefront of progress and innovation — and going through rapid transitions with technology. The pandemic has only exemplified these trends.
How has the cloud enabled your company to deliver a better customer experience?
Fridman: Cloud enabled us to transition our entire contact center to full remote work. During the pandemic, it was essential to ensure business continuity. Remote work also has a positive impact on our employees-experience and satisfaction, which reflects on our customer satisfaction.
We also recognize an increase in overall productivity and quality since switching to remote work. In addition, not being limited geographically and offering the benefits of remote work flexibility help us to expand the pool of candidates and attract and retain talents.
Cloud also enables us to remain truly agile. We can scale and adapt quickly to changing business environments. In our specific business segment, a 24/7-interconnected village, elasticity in customer support, technology and the workplace are major challenges.
With cloud, we are better equipped to react to elastic demands, such as seasonal peaks, and have the capacity and ability to scale up in volume and features. With the ever-changing tech trends, cloud enables us to keep up and stay current with technology trends.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your day-to-day operations?
Fridman: The pandemic brought our business to a near-complete standstill overnight. But we actually saw an opportunity to question and challenge the status quo.
It was an opportunity for positive change. We were able to take great leaps, step forward and offer a vision to our associates and to our customers.
First, we focused on securing our team’s health and safety while ensuring business continuity. As part of this, we migrated our contact center to the cloud and transitioned to remote work. Then, in the past two years, we digitally transformed our business. We integrated even more digital technologies into all areas of our business.
Now, two years later, we’re seeing these outcomes:
This year, we are nominated for two international awards: Nucleus Research ROI Awards and Genesys Customer Innovation Awards. Looking back, I’m proud of how we reacted to the situation and the decisions we made.
Why did your company prioritize a contact center transformation?
Fridman: In the first place, transitioning to remote work was essential for the health and safety of our team, and for ensuring business continuity. Then, transforming to the cloud allowed us to focus even more on things that are core to our business. It allowed us to eliminate side noise, reduce the efforts and resources required to run software and hardware (and teams to maintain and operate them), and focus on our key competencies.
Also, the high level of uncertainty about what the post-pandemic world will look like in customer service led us to the understanding that to future-proof our business — and stay competitive in this new business and economic environment — requires deploying a new range of technological capabilities.
We require tech platforms that not only take care of our company’s present requirements, but also of any potential future needs. We think that those who will fall too far behind in the great run of innovation won’t survive.
The contact center transformation also enabled us to decrease costs per seat. Finally, the pandemic offered us time, available resources and real openness for change — internally and for our customers and business partners.
Can you tell me a bit more about your company’s focus on sustainability?
Fridman: Sustainability is good for the environment, good for our planet, good for humankind. So, it is simply the right thing to do. But then business-wise today, with younger generations leading the way, customers rank sustainability as a top five value driver.
Companies face significant pressure to prove sustainability credentials and make it a central part of their value proposition. Customers demand more information about sustainability efforts. Transparency is no longer an option. Brands must become eco-transparent.
We have been, since our foundation, committed to reducing our impact on the environment. We have been spearheading sustainability initiatives, improving our environmental performance, and initiating projects and activities to further reduce our impact on the environment.
In 2010, we developed and deployed tools and strategies to optimize logistics and transportation (pickup and delivery) processes, to reduce our carbon footprint. In cooperation with our logistics partners, we succeeded in reducing vehicle kilometers per year by almost 40%. We also took initiatives to minimize waste. We implemented “reduce/reuse/recycle” strategies and end-of-life recycling as standard operating procedures.
Our environmental focus areas are:
We work across all business functions and processes, implement new policies and regulations, and educate our peers and partners to promote sustainability and reduce our impact on the environment.
What role has cloud played in these sustainability goals?
Fridman: Migrating to the cloud has contributed to our sustainability goals in many aspects, mainly through transition to remote work and deploying cloud technology. Due to the nature of remote work, our homes function as both residential and working space. So it’s a challenge to measure the exact impact on sustainability. However, we know that remote working has a knock-on effect for the environment.
Our entire contact center — everyone — works remotely from home, which means fewer vehicle kilometers traveled each year, resulting in massive reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, a decline in fossil fuel consumption, improvement in air quality, and a decrease in water pollution. Working from home also cuts down on paper waste, reduces single-use plastics, etc.
Then there’s cloud technology. We migrated, with Genesys, to Amazon Web Services data centers.
Amazon has a long-term commitment to reaching 100% renewable energy usage, which is good for our planet. And with fewer servers used, powered more efficiently, we save electricity immensely. Migrating with Genesys to the cloud lowered our energy consumption associated with the platform by almost 80%.
What’s next in your contact center?
Fridman: We are shifting toward an even more self-service-dominant strategy — transferring responsibility on our customers to shape their experiences with us. With the rise of self-service and self-help, only the most complex matters will end up in the contact center.
While continuously investing in development and deployment of more self-service tools, we will also continue to invest and develop our human capital, our “super agents,” to be ready to tackle challenging issues and to manage high-value requests. Keeping our services big and small, complex and simple, global and personal.
In addition, we are investing in automations and AI-powered technologies. We want to reduce or eliminate the need for human involvement, ultimately, to offload our human-to-human touchpoints when they’re either inefficient or unnecessary. We are at an advanced stage of development and deployment of a tech-powered, fully automated service process.
We’re digitizing and automating the whole claim lifecycle — from submission to full recovery. And we are utilizing advanced technologies, such as machine learning and AI-enabled communication.
We want to simplify and alleviate the complexity of the service process.
Customer experience is becoming a key competitive differentiator. We will continuously analyze to understanding our customer’s digital journey to identify gaps between customer expectations and their actual experiences. Then we’ll work across all business functions — across all customer touchpoints — to create an organization that is aligned around a singular mission: delighting our customers.
Remote work is here to stay. With the ever-more-flexible workplace, remote work is no longer just an extra perk. Companies that don’t offer remote work risk losing talent. We will keep on investing in remote work technologies and in offering our employees greater flexibility.
We will continue to consolidate and integrate all customer support platforms and communication channels to create one cohesive system — with 360-degree view — and true omnichannel experience.
By understanding our customers’ digital footprint, we will create a seamless digital-to-contact experience and achieve an even higher accuracy in routing contacts or work to the most appropriate ‘super-agent.’ Connecting and bringing together all the data in just one place will allow us to easily track every part of our operation and our pipeline for a real-time, holistic view of our business.
What is your most proud contact center accomplishment this past year?
Fridman: It all comes down to customer satisfaction.
We migrated to the cloud. We transitioned the entire contact center to full remote work overnight and ensured business continuity. We digitally transformed our business, implemented new innovations, drove systems automation, deployed AI and chatbots and other initiatives.
We improved in all metrics: service level, efficiency, FCR, etc. We leveled the playing field, improved our competitive edge, increased our ability to react to changing business environments. We are more agile, more flexible, more innovative.
But it all comes down to one single metric: customer satisfaction. We saw a12% increase in customer satisfaction. Our customers are happier and that is what I am most proud of.
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