Life Extension Keeps Customers at the Heart of CX Innovation

For over 40 years, health and wellness company Life Extension has put customer and employee centricity at the forefront of its innovation strategy. Technology plays a key role in improving experiences at scale, balanced with an approach that emphasises human interactions. We recently spoke with Luis Fajardo, CIO at Life Extension, to learn more about how the company incorporates innovation into its long-term strategic plans and its customer experience (CX) evolution. Fajardo also discussed how the organisation keeps CX projects moving forward.

Tell us about Life Extension and how it has evolved over the years. 

Luis Fajardo: We like to say we’re an information company that happens to sell supplements. We’ve been in business for over 40 years; our focus is science and research, and we like to help people live longer and healthier lives.

The company started as a direct mail business sending health bulletins to customers. A lot of the information we were sharing was about longevity and anti-aging. Things evolved and customers started asking us about related products. That led us to build our supplements business.

Now 40 years later, things have changed a lot. People are more conscious of their health. When we started, many of our customers were of an older demographic. We still maintain a large demographic of older customers, but younger customers are also coming to our site. Also, direct mail is no longer the way we do business. We use distributors, so that’s also shifting the volume and type of customers we’re getting.

Tell us about your contact centre environment.  

Fajardo: Life Extension has about 200 agents in two call centres; one in Florida and one in Las Vegas. We have a group of agents who handle customer service questions, and we have about 80 wellness specialists. These are doctors and nurses who assist customers with their health questions. For example, if customers took a blood test with us, these specialists review those results and provide feedback — always advising them to work with their own doctors, as well. But this is a service that we provide for free to our customers.

We also have a group of subject matter experts and a small group of senior wellness specialists who are oncologists and other more specialised disciplines.

We recently migrated our CX technology, including web chat, to the cloud. We wanted to adopt the technology, make it very customised for Life Extension, and integrate it with our existing CRM applications to continue the unified experience for our agents.

My team built this integration. We also integrated with Microsoft teams for unified communications in the backend.

The migration was very smooth. We did this all in under 90 days from kickoff.

Technology obviously plays a leading part in customer experience transformation. What technologies do you feel have the biggest potential to transform your business?  

Fajardo: It’s hard to have a conversation these days without talking about the big bosses of generative AI and machine learning. And that’s something we’re looking at closely. We’ve already done work with machine learning; for example, product recommendations to create a personalised experience online. Also, the communications we send to customers often are driven by machine learning.

We’re also doing some work on our website search to provide AI-driven content recommendations. We have a lot of content on the site — if you’re reading an article, then getting suggestions of other articles based on your health concern or what you are interested in learning is very organic, very real.

For our contact centre, we’re looking at agent-assist and auto-summarisation using generative AI. We see a lot of value for our agents in providing them with information they can use to assist customers during an interaction, whether it’s a voice or digital interaction. We’re also looking into more self-service capabilities on our website with AI-powered bots.

As a wellness company that provides specialist advice, you must take quite a cautious approach to looking at how these new technologies can be applied in your business. Tell us more about how you determine what to trial and roll out.  

Fajardo: We have a big responsibility with our customers. We always like to be there for them when they need us. So, we’re a 24/7 organisation in our contact centre. We don’t use an IVR; we like the customers to call and be live with an agent.

When we think about deploying a technology, we take a methodical approach. We start with pilots — maybe we’ll test a technology with our digital channels first before rolling it out to all our agents.

Another approach we take when we look at technology is considering how it will simplify the interface, simplify the systems that our agents interact with. So, integration is a consideration.

We don’ t like to give our agents a lot of tools that they have to navigate through. We want a more natural experience for them.

Tell us more about your journey to the cloud. What prompted it and how were you sure a cloud migration was the right move?  

Fajardo: It goes back to that vision of being there for our customers — and that translates into technology and business continuity, disaster recovery and high availability. So, the cloud is the natural evolution to that.

Going through this journey started with identifying systems and applications that could move to the cloud with the vendors that we have. The most recent was our migration from Avaya on-prem to Genesys Cloud.

We don’t see this as a lift-and-shift approach, where you’re going to take everything you have and just put it in the cloud. We’re taking an opportunity to modernise our applications, make them cloud ready.

Let’s take a step back to the people side of the conversation. How do you gather customer feedback and stay connected with your consumers?  

Fajardo: We do a lot of things to understand what the customers want, whether those are customer surveys after an interaction or health quizzes we have online to help us understand our customers’ health concerns.

It also depends on what the engagement of a customer is. Some just buy a product and don’t have any more interaction with you. But we can tell based on the products they’re buying, what health concerns they have. So, when we send information to them, we can be relevant based on those health concerns that we infer from what they’re buying.

Then we have the other side of the spectrum where we have very engaged customers. Those are the ones mainly calling the call centre, taking a blood test, interacting with our wellness specialists.

At that point we create a very personal experience that’s a full journey. There is a real health concern or real reason this customer is coming to us, and we help them, with their doctors, through that journey. Throughout all this, there is a lot of data understanding on how we can be relevant.

The products we formulate derive in part from listening to what these customers are asking, seeing what opportunities we have and, of course, the science where we’re finding new ingredients. And we have a magazine to share new findings of whatever health concern we’re speaking about with customers. So, for these customers it’s a holistic approach.

Check out the CX Green Room to hear more from Life Extension. And read get your roadmap to CX innovation with the cloud in this prescriptive migration ebook.