Customer experience requires a new type of responsive leader – Interview with Sid Banerjee of Clarabridge

Today’s interview is with Sid Banerjee, CEO of Clarabridge, a leader in the Customer Experience Management (CEM) space, particularly when it comes to helping firms mine their customer data to make better business decisions. Sid joins me today to talk about why he thinks industry, what firms can do to respond to the changes around them how they should be leveraging the right data from the right sources in order to drive actionable results.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Everyone can create a ‘Genius Bar’ customer experience – Interview with Gary Ambrosino of Timetrade – and is number one-hundred in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here are the highlights of my interview with Sid:

  • Clarabridge is a software company and has developed software that allows firms to collect large amounts of feedback data, including unstructured and qualitative data, from all sorts of channels (call centres, emails, forums, social media etc), apply analytics to that data so that it produces real actionable insight.
  • In short, Clarabridge is building a platform that is giving companies ‘bigger ears and bigger brains’ so that they can listen to and engage with their customers more effectively.
  • We’ve moved from a system of mass manufacturing through to mass merchandising and now we are facing an era driven by the internet, where the majority of purchasing decisions are taking place before customers even contact businesses.
  • Therefore, to better understand the wants, needs and desires of customers firms now need to go outside the confines of existing systems and processes to find the answers.
  • Firms can do this but it requires them to listen, analyse, understand and act on the data that they collect. This is essential if they want to develop relationships with their customers that are valuable and profitable for all parties.
  • Control has shifted away from businesses to their customers.
  • The customer journey does not start when a customer makes contact with a business. It starts when the customer starts to do research into buying a product or service.
  • Understanding and being involved in that journey is a real-time and incremental process.
  • To start making that shift and to start listening and acting effectively, the first key step is for a business to make the commitment to the customer experience an organisational focus.
  • BestBuy uses Clarabridge’s software, particularly around major shopping times like Black Friday, to better understand if their offers are aligned with their customers, are people waiting in line too long in stores, are there other problems with their stores etc etc so that they can adjust what is happening in real-time to generate better satisfaction and performance.
  • Sid also relates another example of a computer firm that they work with that uses Clarabridge’s software to help them better understand, pre and post launch of a new product, if people like the new product, whether they are facing problems with drivers etc etc so that they can be as responsive as possible to emerging issues.
  • To make this work you need the right people.
  • Technology is only as good as the people who collect and use the information it generates.
  • People that are committed to being responsive makes all of the difference. You have to have that mindset.
  • Once you have the people you have to have the right processes and technology to help those people.
  • The right people tend to be those that have experience in a customer facing role, have an intuitive customer-focused mentality and have strong management, leadership and change management skills too.
  • Change isn’t quantum anymore, it’s incremental and continuous.
  • Check out C3 (Clarabridge Customer Connections), Clarabridge’s annual Customer Experience conference. This year it is in Miami at the Fontainebleau Hotel on April 28 – 30.

About Sid (taken from his Clarabridge bio)

Sid BanerjeeA Greater Washington Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in IT services, Sid is the CEO and Co-Founder of Clarabridge. Sid provides executive leadership and strategic direction and is a well-known expert in customer experience, business intelligence, and text mining.

Prior to Clarabridge, he co-founded Claraview, a leading BI strategy and technology consultancy firm. Under Sid’s leadership, Claraview grew into a thriving services firm with over 130 employees without any outside funding. Claraview was acquired by Teradata, a leading data warehousing and business intelligence company, in March 2008.

Over his career, Sid has amassed nearly 20 years of business intelligence leadership experience. A founding employee at MicroStrategy, he held Vice President-level positions in both product marketing and worldwide services. During his tenure leading MicroStrategy’s worldwide services division, he grew the organization to a 500+ person organization supporting enterprise deployments of BI solutions. Before joining MicroStrategy, Sid held management positions at Ernst & Young and Sprint International. Sid has a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Check out Clarabridge’s website and connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter @Clarabridge

Comments

  1. Adrian,

    Thanks for the interview. Making sense of the world’s qualitative data is a huge undertaking. Good to have a platform that simplifies that!

    My favorite thought: “The customer journey does not start when a customer makes contact with a business. It starts when the customer starts to do research into buying a product or service.” Agree… it starts when a need arises. Still baffles me why so many companies don’t think about the need, what customers are trying to achieve, when they market to them, design the experience, or design products.

    Annette :-)

    • adrianswinscoe says:

      Hi Annette,
      I would suggest that many firms don’t start with the need as they are still stuck in an old paradigm where their primary focus is to buy/create awareness and then sell product and don’t understand that earning trust is one of the key things that drives (repeat) transactions these days.

      Adrian

  2. Hello Adrian,

    I made a particular note of the following:

    - “to better understand the wants, needs and desires of customers firms now need to go outside the confines of existing systems and processes to find the answers.”

    - “Firms can do this but it requires them to listen, analyse, understand and act on the data that they collect. This is essential if they want to develop relationships with their customers that are valuable and profitable for all parties.”

    I say that VoC as practiced is a trap. Why? You cannot understand people merely through data. You may be able to ‘understand’ patterns of behaviour at a group level. And that is very different to understanding human beings. VoC may lead to incremental operational improvements. It is not likely to lead to breakthroughs. If the Nokia folks had used VoC then they would have made their existing handsets smaller-faster-lighter….. They would not have come up with the iPhone.

    All the best
    maz

    • adrianswinscoe says:

      Hi Maz,
      Thank you for that. When you say ‘You cannot understand people merely through data. You may be able to ‘understand’ patterns of behaviour at a group level. And that is very different to understanding human beings.’ I agree.

      I think we can use data, as you say to discover patterns, but then we need to combine that with an approach like the one suggested by Mark Hurst in an interview from a few months ago (http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/deliver-great-customer-experience-by-including-your-customers-interview-with-mark-hurst-of-creative-good/) where he suggested that companies should:
      ” 1. Observe customers directly.
      2. Discover customers’ key unmet needs.
      3. Build consensus across the organization to meet those needs.”

      That, in combination with the analysis of data would take us a lot further.

      Adrian

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