TechBytes with Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, Asia Pacific at Zendesk

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TechBytes with Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, Asia Pacific at Zendesk- cue card

Hi Wendy, please tell us about the recent findings in your latest research in partnership with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG).

Working with ESG, we set out to understand the extent to which the customer experience yields business results. Our research found there is indeed a clear link between investing in CX and business growth in areas such as market share, increased customer spend, and pivoting processes over the last six months.

That said, the majority of businesses in the Asia Pacific are still in the early stages of CX maturity. We found that less than a quarter (22%) of APAC businesses identify as “CX Champions” (companies which rank high on the CX maturity scale), which means there is significant untapped potential for organizations to invest in CX to drive even greater business outcomes.

There are very real benefits for those who have actively invested in their customer experience. In fact, organizations with matured CX capabilities were 10.8 times more likely than Starters (companies with minimal CX capabilities) to have significantly grown customer spend. Additionally, they were 4.4 times more likely to have grown their customer base over the past six months.

To keep up with rising customer expectations and maintain a competitive edge, APAC businesses will need to embrace new technology that enables customer-centricity.

How has the definition of “Customer Experience” evolved in the last 6-8 months? What factors have contributed to this dynamic transformation of CX in marketing, sales and customer support?

The pandemic has been a catalyst for organizations to transform in order to sustain and grow their business. Customer demands for faster service, omnichannel engagement, seamless support experiences, and self-help solutions have put more pressure on organizations.

The new reality is that delivering an exceptional customer experience has become a business imperative for any organization looking to future-proof their operations.

What according to you is the true definition of a “CX Champion”? What qualities should CMOs / CEOs imbibe in the organization to drive CX as a culture thing?

Being a CX Champion means recognizing the need to put the customer at the heart of everything you do. That acts as your North Star and will help inform decisions around the right technology, people and processes to put in place.

Creating and sustaining a customer-centric culture needs to be driven by senior leadership. Those who prioritize agility and embrace change will be most successful in establishing that culture.

Tell us more about your experience as a COO through the COVID-19 pandemic? What tools / platforms currently make up your remote workplace technology stack?

Joining Zendesk during a pandemic was definitely an interesting start, especially when one of my priorities was to bring the APAC organization together to accelerate our growth in the region. A few weeks into my role as COO of APAC, I had an employee Q&A with our global CEO Mikkel and I shared that one of the many benefits of this remote working situation was the acceleration of getting to know my colleagues around the world. Instead of having to wait for a trip to meet everyone in each office face to face, I was able to do so simply by scheduling a Zoom meeting. It’s really helped me speed up my learning and connect with many more people in my first few months, all from my home office in Singapore.

When we transitioned our global workforce to be entirely remote in March, it took just a matter of days. I believe having the right productivity tools coupled with a strong corporate culture contributed to a smooth transition to remote-working.

Internally, we tapped on Zendesk’s internal help desk to support over 3,000 employees all over the world, managing workflows and streamlining productivity across remote teams. Communication tools such as Slack and Zoom help our teams stay connected and collaborate smoothly. Most importantly, we continue to be able to listen to, communicate with, and support our employees and customers, even in the face of unexpected changes and challenges.

3 CX-ey Trends you expect to become the norm in APAC and ANZ:

The pandemic rapidly transformed the way businesses interact with their customers, making agility and adaptability critical in this new normal. Three trends we’re seeing:

1) Demand for real-time conversations

It’s not surprising that customers are moving to messaging and live channels faster than ever. Our Benchmark data also shows more organizations are working to better assist customers in real time – including a 29% increase in messaging adoption and a 13% uptick in adoption of live channels, such as phone and chat.

2) Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) paves the way

As organizations face an influx of support tickets, automated solutions are rising in popularity.

Chatbots, such as Zendesk’s AI-powered Answer Bot, efficiently addresses resource constraints. During the pandemic, over half of the companies using Answer Bot ramped up its resolutions by 10% or more. For example, Carousell, a Singapore-headquartered e-marketplace, uses Answer Bot to deflect almost one quarter (24%) of all inbound general inquiries, freeing up support agents’ time to manage more complex inquiries.

3) Data, data, data

Collecting, analyzing, and utilizing customer and support data is at the core of a powerful business strategy.

Our research with ESG found that CX Champions in APAC place a focus on KPIs and metrics to guide their support decisions, with 74% stating their KPIs can be reported in real-time.

Hear it from the pro – Your prediction for the role of CX Managers and their contribution to customer success:

Since the pandemic, customer experience teams all over the world are working incredibly hard to adapt to rapid changes, such as ticket spikes, customer cancellations, market volatility, and increased uncertainty. Ticket volume during these pandemic months remains high, at 16% above pre-pandemic levels. This makes the role of CX managers even more important. They are your front line to building close, long-lasting relationships with your customers by understanding and responding to their needs.

As organizations increasingly view CX as a strategic imperative and leverage the CX manager’s unique view of the customer across the organization, they unlock a wealth of insights that will help drive real value for their customers as well as the business.

And, I don’t see this changing anytime soon. While so much has changed this year, the fundamentals of the business remain the same. If you invest in CX and enable your CX managers, they’ll be more successful in keeping your customers happy – and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Wendy is Zendesk’s first regional COO. She currently holds the position of SVP & COO Asia Pacific & Japan at Zendesk.

A business leader with more than 25 years’ experience in the technology sector, Wendy is responsible for driving operational excellence across Asia Pacific and ensuring global and regional alignment for all of Zendesk’s business functions and offices in APAC.

With an excellent track record in transformational leadership, driving growth and building high-performing teams, Wendy is driven by putting the customer at the heart of the business and helping them embrace digital transformation.

File:Zendesk logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Zendesk is a service-first CRM company that builds support, sales, and customer engagement software designed to foster better customer relationships. From large enterprises to startups, we believe that powerful, innovative customer experiences should be within reach for every company, no matter the size, industry or ambition.

Zendesk serves more than 160,000 customers across a multitude of industries in over 30 languages. Zendesk is headquartered in San Francisco and operates offices worldwide.

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