Based in Chicago, Devin joins Dixa from noted global research and advisory firm Gartner where he worked as a senior analyst in the customer service & support practice. We’re thrilled to welcome him to Dixa where he’ll be an integral part of our go-to-market operations, working cross-functionally with Strategy, Sales, and Marketing. In typical Dixa fashion, we welcomed him with an interview, and I sat down with him during his first week to get to know him a little better as well as pick his brain on the state of the market and some predictions for the future of customer service.
Devin, we’re so excited to have you on board! Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what you worked on at Gartner?
Thanks! I’m thrilled to be here. I came to Gartner through the 2017 acquisition of CEB, an industry leader in providing best practice and talent management insights, and in both companies, I was a thought-leader and expert in the customer service and support practice. My focus was on the drivers of customer loyalty (both customer effort and value enhancement), engagement channel strategy, and management (optimizing pathways to resolutions which balanced CX and cost-to-serve), as well as customer service talent management (frontline rep profiles, skills, development, evaluation, and engagement).
I began my tenure at CEB in our commercial team for the sales, support, and marketing practice, first helping to grow our mid-market segment in the US and then helping to launch and build the APAC presence. In early 2009, I transitioned into our advisory team and began supporting our executive leaders in building their service and CX strategy, creating and teaching CEB research through 1:1 advisory sessions, and facilitating client workshops for single and multi-client events. In 2020, I became a Gartner analyst to continue advising our clients, as well as author proprietary research, focused on digital channel strategy and customer experience.
What made you choose to join Dixa?
There are three main things that led me to Dixa:
1. The product: Simply put, it’s really cool technology! Dixa has an amazing platform–– pioneering a multiexperience approach––that helps solve one of the most significant and longest-standing problems that customer service leaders face today–building high-quality experiences that make an impact. With Dixa, frontline agents feel empowered to deliver exceptional customer experiences that ultimately spark Customer Friendship™, impacting key metrics like customer loyalty, lifetime value, and cost.
2. The purpose: Dixa was built by people who “wore the headset” and can understand the biggest pain points both customers and agents face daily. Our focus on transforming customer service by unifying the customer experience will help the service function to bring even more value to the enterprise.
3. The people: I’ve met lots of people who are passionate about customer service in my career, but the folks at Dixa are a cut above when it comes to their excitement and drive to fix a broken customer service model. Combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry, the team at Dixa is going to help evolve customer service for the better.
Three great reasons! Let’s move on to predictions: What emerging CX market trends are you most excited about right now and why?
There are a few things that stand out to me right now. First is the long-overdue attention that senior executives are giving to customer service. With this welcome trend comes a willingness to invest in a practice long seen as a “necessary evil.” No longer just a “nice to have,” how you engage and build relationships with your customers has become a true differentiator in the market today. As the choices that customers are presented with grow, seemingly exponentially, focusing on keeping customers happy will be key to businesses thriving in the next economy. This includes investment in technology that enables agents to understand, connect, and focus on the customer experience, keeping them highly engaged in what was once a very thankless job. I’ve seen many companies give their frontline reps new titles like “heroes” and “customer advocates” which speaks to the starring role they play in the overall customer experience.
The next exciting trend is the shift from a transactional to a value-driven model for customer service that centers on conversations that span across various experiences and touchpoints. Gone are the days of the purely reactionary “one and done” customer service journey, and the industry is only now catching up to meet customer needs. As service becomes more intertwined with the customer lifecycle, we can help build tremendous value for organizations by working together towards a common customer engagement goal.
Finally, experiences enriched by data and AI predictions: The investment companies are making in utilizing customer data to gain custom knowledge and insights that ultimately make customers’ lives easier is an important and growing trend. Companies have a vast amount of knowledge about their customers, and only recently have they begun putting this to use to help customers see around the corner and solve problems before they even occur. This will lead to a better understanding of customer needs and help to build lasting friendships between brands and their customers.
Let’s talk about the experience economy. This is something that Gartner has covered extensively. Why do you think consumers are fixated on experiences even over product or price and do you see this continuing?
Following what I said before, experience is truly the last bastion of differentiation. As brands and products proliferate, the way that you treat your customers throughout their journey has a profound impact on long-term loyalty, both economic and emotional. In the past, brands were able to hold customers captive because of a lack of choice and the high cost of switching, but that’s all changed. Today’s customers have many options, with new competitors frequently entering the market, and the cost of switching is decreasing. This has put a spotlight on the customer experience, and the ability to create an effortless and remarkable journey that helps customers get more value out of their relationship with a brand. For service leaders, this means that they can no longer operate in a purely transactional and reactionary way. Each and every interaction has to help improve the overall experience and encourage the customer to return again in the future. And that’s why Dixa’s focus on turning customer service into Customer Friendship™ by prioritizing the shared experience is so important. Leaders cannot afford to think about their service as a silo, but rather an integral part of the overall customer journey and experience. They need to be able to gain a holistic picture of the customer… past, present, and future, anticipating needs and providing moments that provide value and encourage outcomes like loyalty and advocacy.
Your experience at Gartner has allowed you to develop a unique POV especially in regards to where the market is headed. When you think about what brands will be looking for in a few years, what’s one criterion that you see shifting and growing in importance?
The biggest thing that will allow brands to compete and win will be how effectively they can help the customer see the value of the products or services they provide. To accomplish this, they’ll need the right technology, something that supersedes omnichannel and allows them to adapt faster to customer expectations. Technology that gives agents the capabilities they need as well as the agency to enhance the value they deliver through each experience, using predictions, context, and customer insights will be a big part of the economy of the future.
How can brands today start re-thinking how they invest in business-critical solutions like customer service platforms, so that they can see past simply ticking boxes on their current requirements list and look beyond this to future benefits?
One of the most critical pieces to winning in the future will be to build a unified vision of the customer, the critical customer journeys, and delivery of holistic experiences that benefit both customers and agents. Achieving this will require companies to make coordinated and cohesive investment decisions on their technology stack. This will ensure that they have an overview of the customer journey, from beginning to end, while capturing and using customer information to make critical business decisions.
Dixa helps both growing and established brands, but when it comes to the customer service organization—regardless of company size—this area always seems to struggle with meeting its own KPIs. Is a shift in the way brands think about measuring business impact required to help customer service teams focus on achieving more for both customers and for the business?
Absolutely. In retrospect, KPIs that measured how operationally efficient a single contact was never really made sense. Because to the customer, you’re one company, not a set of channels or a series of disconnected contacts or experiences. It’s the cumulative impact of the brand’s products and services and the value that a customer sees in being a customer that matters most to building LTV and creating world-class experiences. This shift will require brands to evolve their thinking to include customer input on effort and value, incorporating this feedback into a holistic view of the entire customer journey.
Dixa places significant weight on what we call agent empowerment, which is much more than a great UX and attractive interface. How do you think this focus on the employee experience can help brands realize more with the tech stack they’ve chosen to invest in?
A vital but often unacknowledged truth is that your frontline agents are the face of your brand at the most critical moments in the customer journey. Despite this, traditionally, agents haven’t been set up for success in their roles. Disparate systems and complex tools have created a vicious cycle of high agent effort and poor customer experiences. Focusing on empowering agents through the right technology offers the two-fold benefit of lower agent churn, resulting in a more knowledgeable workforce that knows your brand inside and out and happier customers.
Okay, last question, and it’s a fun one! You’re based in Chicago, so you might know what’s coming: Favorite place to grab some deep dish?
Oh man, that’s a question which is sure to make me some enemies… but when we order a deep dish it’s gotta be Pequod’s. The perfect “just burnt” crust and the best pepperoni in the city. Now I’m hungry!