CXⁿ Factor Podcast: Introducing CX Studios

Jan 12, 2022

Audio Only Version:

Transcript of Episode 1:

Li Evans:  welcome to the cx to the n factor podcast where we talk about everything customer experience and it’s brought to you by cx studios. I am Li Evans.  I am the head of learning and delivery enablement at CX Studios. We are a startup that focuses on delivering customer experience solutions to our customers and we are here to talk about why we started CX Studios.

I have with us my CEO Bibhakar Pandey and our CTO, Chief Transformation Officer, Milton Huezo and we were going to discuss today about the agency model why it’s broken we’re going to talk about why we are fighting for talent why businesses are fighting for talent and how we can help bring about a solution to that and then focusing on this new model that we’re bringing to the market.

So first, I want to go to Bibhakar and what why do you think this agency model is broken?

Bibhakar Pandey:  You know the modern-day experience transformation requires a lot more of what i would say data intense engagement for the clients and typically you know this this requires companies to know about the first party enterprise data. Understanding how the touch points are actually beginning to make sense for a much more personalized experience and driving a strategy around it more and more.

Most of the traditional agencies, if you go back and look, were more design focused and they lack the understanding of these deep level of enterprise data touch points that enables a lot more personalized experience strategy to be built and that’s one of the reason I felt that you know where we are moving away from a design-led experience to a more of a data driven or insight-led you know experiences, is where these agencies fail.

Other thing is you know traditional agencies, if you look at it, they have built this whole layer of management that actually have become more like aggregators and that actually makes the cost model for going out into the market very, very high. Which you know and most of the clients actually these days are looking for more people who are more hands-on deck so essentially you know cutting down the whole pyramid of these aggregator level management teams to directly going to the talent which is ready to execute on their problem statements. This is where traditional agencies or even I would say traditional SIs have challenges.

First of all, they work on these their respective silos of experience data engineering and what the customers are

now actually expecting are people or talent to come in and execute on their entire problem set rather than going

through these three or four different organizational silos. This is where I feel that the talent strategy the capability

strategy and the execution strategy needs to be relooked overall. 

A lot of these agencies need to transform themselves into what’s the current burning platform needs for our customers, so I mean overall I think these are the few things that agencies and even the SIs need to transform into to cut down their silos, bring in a talent pool that is more hands-on deck and also people who are understanding of their data problems overall.

Li Evans: Yeah.  And Milton, being the chief transformation officer, how does that flow into this as well?

Milton Huezo:  Yeah, I think Bib started to touch upon the execution point of this, right, when we’re operating in

specific work streams right and we have resources that are helping a customer execute on marketing, execute on content, execute on marketing automation, execute on data, the panorama of the CX is lost and this is where the expectation of the customer now is beyond those siloed work streams.  Right, and so what they’re experiencing now is very frustrating because as much as SIs are going through the checklist and marking the boxes there’s still a value add that is not being realized and i think this is where the opportunity is to start combining these folks in learning multiple working lanes and work streams.

The reality is that there is not a lot of folks that are able to do that and so how are we then managing this from an

execution and transformation point of view and many SIs have the concept as product companies do of customer success and customer success for the most part is graded on earned growth great revenue.  But what customers are really asking for is “Am I doing the right things?”, “Am I prioritizing the right work streams?”, to actually realize that customer experience and loyalty and lifetime value and that is where there’s a big gap at in the moment in the delivery model for SIs and into that customer expectation.

So agencies have to find very senior people and in terms of that can stitch all of this together communicate it effectively and have executives and senior management really understand where the focus should be and the reality is there’s just not enough of them, there’s just not.

Bibhakar Pandey:  Yeah, and Milton you brought up a good point about customer success. I think the definition of customer success in experience transformation world is very, very subjective. You know if you go to different organizations, different stakeholders, their definition of success is very different and this is where the value term value really, lifetime value, or whatever you call it comes into play.  Because you know you actually measure

the value based on the organization they are leading in and what the real value we are providing as consultants to them to really help execute on that value is very important.

Right and I personally feel that organizations the traditional agencies need to move out from your traditional

customer success models to more of a customer value model right.  Where they can really provide that

metrics around these values and exceed on those things.

Milton Huezo:  That’s right I completely agree. That is a friction and we’re at a crossroads in terms of delivery models for the agencies of the world today that’s where really where we are. 

Li Evans:  That learning piece you know, that when you have just the people who are delivering things, they don’t really, it’s very rare to find those resources that can actually look beyond the tool that they’re implementing.  You

know your programmers are your programmers, your analysts are your analysts, a lot of times they don’t look

outside their lane and that’s just because of the way that the agencies have always been. 

They’ve always focused on hey we can implement your analytics, or we can implement your CMS system or your CRM system. They don’t under…, they don’t take into account the entire path that a customer takes and where are those different touch points and engagement points.  That they have it’s very rare to find the people that actually do that because they’re not taught that way, right? 

It’s not taught in school, it’s not taught when you first come in, it’s oh go out and get working in this tool right and it’s very tool-centric or very concept you know driven rather than the whole experience driven. And that’s, you know, when you when you’re dealing with clients, they aren’t just getting analytics they aren’t just getting the CRM they’re getting a whole stack of tools and they don’t know how to put these all together and that’s why the agency model right now, it just doesn’t, you’re picking and choosing and when you’re going to get into those


You know the sales people, the customer success people, are always looking for the next thing that they can do with the client, but they’re not looking at it as a whole solution and you could have an agency that’s doing the design, you can have an agency putting in the analytics, you can have an agency doing the voice of customer stuff, why not have an agency do it all?  And it’s very rare that one agency can do it all.

Milton Huezo:  Yeah, and you bring up another important point right, because the agencies, the service providers

Have this group of talent internally that operates in their lane and they’re very good at what they do, right. They’re excellent, but out of that group how do you cross train these people, right?  And the change management involved to actually surface the few that are able to have that mental agility to navigate conversations across all these digital touch points or omni channel touch points, right, is where we are today.

There are few of them, right and they have to be willing to get uncomfortable and so there’s another crux here that

the agency model is coming across how do we focus and help our people develop themselves if they want, right?  Because let’s face it not all analytics folks want to learn marketing, and not all marketing folks want to learn

content factory, content editing, content management strategies. So, surfacing these folks out of the current

pool is one of the initial roadblocks, right? How do we get there and then, how do we then make a factory of these folks.

So not to mention and let’s raise our hand the CFO would be thoroughly upset if they’re not actually billing at 90

utilization right or meeting those goals. So, there’s a lot of conflict of interest with change management and ultimately

the transformation SIs need to go through to actually realize the CX the customer is looking for. So, the delivery model has to change, and I think that’s why we’re actually having this podcast today, right?

Bibhakar Pandey: Yeah, and that’s why I call it the “X” factor, right, it’s not easy. You know if it was easy, and it was you know people are boxed into their respective categories, and it’s not easy to just get them out of the box and

you know do certain things. It’s easier for them to get upskilled but it’s hard for them to really cross-skill, you know because they have been thinking along within the same box and you know. I mean frankly, I, you know as from

where I am sitting and I’m looking at my team here I, I don’t envy the job that Li is doing.

For us as the overall the head of enablement, because you know what we are building are this set of unicorns and

that you know it’s a very difficult thing and I think it is not something that cannot be done and that’s the solution that we should be looking for agencies to transform into in the next few years.  If they, can you know sustain this market if they have to sustain this market I would say.

Li Evans:  Right, and that that comes to the point of fighting for the talent or building the talent right and how do we how do we do that?  It’s faster to build the talent or train the talent and if you give them a good face and then we bring them in and we train them in why data is so important, why does, why is why is data the building block to all of all of CX you know because you need to identify, you needed to test, you needed

o build audiences and understand that it’s not you know with the focus.

A lot of agencies have is we got to get good programmers, or we got to get this good person on a, on a tool with a

focus on how data really propels the customer experience and how you deliver a good customer experience because the data, the data itself is out there. That if you, if a customer shares their data with you, they expect you to use it to give them a good experience and not a lot of companies are doing that that very well.

So, and it’s because everything’s so siloed people are just in their lanes that they know but if you can cross train and you get people from a you know community college or you get people even that they’re changing jobs even like an

economist or someone that works on the floor of Walmart they know how to deal with customers right you bring them in and you teach them how does each one of these tools or these things work and cross, it’s a lot faster to get to that value and giving the customers that then actually going out and fighting and finding that senior person that knows campaign, or knows you know. So that’s you know is it the fight for the talent or is it building? I think what we’re doing here is building this talent building these herds of unicorns is what’s going to bring us around.

Milton Huezo:  Yeah, and if you quantify that just for a moment, right, the hours that we are investing internally here before we actually engage somebody with a customer. With their background in technology and data and then the multi solutions of the front end when you’re talking about experience platforms, we’re investing a lot of hours 500 600

hours up front before the customer ever gets to speak to this person, where the traditional Sis, how can they find 500 or 600 hours in one year? In one year to actually develop these folks right, again there’s that conflict of interest of actually, hey are we trying to meet a certain, you know earnings goal, or are we actually trying to meet a customer value realization metric here, and that’s, that’s again where SIs have to make that decision.

Bibhakar Pandey:  Yeah, and you know I mean let’s not be averse to the fact that here’s been a mean unprecedented surge on the digital traffic in the past few years, you know with the pandemic hitting us. And you know when it’s, there’s not a site of relenting anytime soon. There’s been a dramatic surge on people engaging through about with their products or with brands on the digital channel a set of a large set of people who have never been on these channels before and the clients have the biggest struggle to really find out who these buyers are who are these

prospective clients of mine and you know they’re still struggling with that factor. Forget about giving them a personalized experience around it.

So, when you start looking at that you know environment there is a definitely a search for talent that has you know really extrapolated, I mean it’s not like it was, it was not there earlier, but this is like almost 10x of what was really required because of this surge that has happened. Especially when it comes to digital, and you know managing the products online or you know engaging with the products or brands online and that actually has led to in my opinion

a need for a talent pool that is more comprehensive, right. It is not just about you know I, I was reading an article by someone, someone posted something on social media about Elon Musk and he said that you know if, if you have 30 days to clean a room you will clean it in 30 days. But, if you are given three hours to clean the same room you will clean it in three hours and we are on those three-hour crunch right now right and, and to do that you know obviously you need more different kind of talent to really make that happen, right, in such a short period of time.

And this eventually is leading to the crisis of talent that we are all talking about you know. You know think about it, we, we talked about personalization when people think about personalization, they think about, you know what the buying pattern of these individuals are so I can segment them in different categories. That becomes all the more complicated when you’re talking in a B2B scenario, right. You know, because the buying patterns are very different much more complicated. You know they are they need a lot more touch points, you know their different behavioral pattern in a B2B buying patterns. So, you know essentially, you are really looking at having these unicorns come in

and try to help you clean that room that I was talking about in three hours, rather than waiting for 30 days. And that’s not an easy task, unless you know, Milton you brought up a point of “okay, we do invest upfront” and you know it

kind of you have to take a call between the value and just the success.

I think value is more important in the longer term and making that investment to really fill in those talent gaps is

Really, really important because we are, the war for talent is real. You know every company is actually going down to

the same pool of people in the industry and trying to yank them out from different companies move them around. So

if you are just, you know playing that game you know someone is going to lose, right, because you know and you know they’re going to play out throw out the money on the table talent is going to come in. Someone is always going to pay you higher you will always want to jump out.

So, i think it is not about the money, it is not about the, you know this kind of a war that is going to solve the problem. I think you have to look at this war very differently and that’s why we kind of made it a conscious decision to rather not going out and you know be part of that war but actually create our own tracks by investing in the talent pool to really help build this talent that is really required for us to deliver at these you know I mean difficult times that we our clients are facing.

Yeah, that’s why when I started the discussion, I said you know I mean Li has a job that I don’t envy but I am glad that the way you know the things have progressed and the way the talent is being built. I mean, this is the only solution in my head that can help solve the long-term talent issues in the industry.

Milton Huezo: Yeah absolutely, and just to echo a little bit of what you said. At the moment of this recording, right, we hear a lot of the metaverse right and what’s surfaced in, in a lot of this resource conversation is that meta has been able to recruit over a hundred VR experts from Apple, right and Apple is scheduled to release their headset over the next 12 months.

Well in order to do that they’re issuing very generous bonuses right, anywhere between $50,000 to I think upwards of $200,000 for those that are that are staying. But that’s not sustainable right? Not the for the mid-market for even smaller businesses or even other enterprises. It’s not it’s not a business model that you want to engage with.

Bibhakar Pandey:  So just to quantify the issue right in terms of what’s going on out there exactly and you know it’s just not enough to train the talent as you rightly said, to enable the talent you know for a way I mean, I mean, Li, I would ask you this right you know what are you doing to really retain these talents? Right because i think it’s important to you know have a purpose within the organization so I’m, I’m, I’m curious that, you know I mean if you can share what we are, you’re doing to really help not only build this talent but also retain it?

Li Evans:  Right. So, it’s, it’s about looking not just that, hey these people, these people know this particular skill. It’s about this emotional intelligence that they have to have and when you give them and give them the purpose. Like

you’re talking about the, the purpose to do something like, do I want to, do I want to build something for a client. You know, do I want to be on exciting projects, you know, do I want to build exciting things, what do I want to do and if you’re fitting into that. If I want to be, you know, like we talk about the are they in the kitchen or in the front of the restaurant, right? Like so, figuring out where their interests are and looking at the industries as well.

So, like, you know we’re really focusing in the healthcare space the insurance base and finance space. If we’ve got someone who might have been a bank teller right and now, they want to change they want to do something different, but they have that experience right so now we can bring them in we can train them. That’s not going to stop me from saying hey this person doesn’t have the experience in the industry if they have the will and the want to come in and learn and upskill and relearn, unlearn, relearn, and, and doing that, that’s the key.

That’s the thing that I believe if you have a purpose for what you’re doing and then of course it’s the other things like having a good team environment making sure everybody’s there and investing in people because if you’re investing in someone that means you believe in them right and I’ve always really, really valued people that I’ve worked with in the past. And I think that’s the same with anybody, when you have someone who values you and sees that potential to let you grow. That’s, that’s what we, you know I’m focusing on you know I’m focusing on bringing those people who, who have that emotional intelligence that understand empathy and then want to learn and, and upscale and that’s, that’s the environment I want to build. That it’s cohesive and, and people really want to do that.

Bibhakar Pandey:  You brought up a very good point about learning and unlearning you know that’s the clear message from CX Studios for the rest of the world is that learning is important, but unlearning is equally important.  Because if you have to really cross skill yourself you need to be ready to unlearn and move forward and do different things because unlearning doesn’t mean to forget about what your past experience is. Unlearning is more about you know looking at things more objectively as you start learning things better, right.

You know for the purposes of delivering things better. So, it’s really, really important for people to, when they think about learning, it’s to keep unlearning as a back of them in the back of their mind to really make sure that they are grasping the new concepts without the prejudice of the old concepts, right. It’s, it’s really important and you know with the way that the technology is transforming in in our world. Specifically, it this concept is going to be really key for people to keep growing in this area.

In my opinion, and you know and, that’s where I personally feel that our, our teams are very excited to work in this environment because they have an ability, and they see this as a constant growth pattern for them because they’re

constantly learning and learning through this model. 

Milton Huezo:  Yeah, and it becomes exciting for them right because let’s face it we have many customers.  They’ll move on from different CX goals from customer a to customer b and we’re going to celebrate those things with them. And i think it gives them not only a passion to cross-train even more but a bigger purpose, right, with different objectives for different customers in different industries. So, yeah, I think it’s a snowball effect that we’re really building.

Li Evans:  It’s the whole journey, too. It’s not just digital online, right.

I just heard an article probably yesterday. It was about Walmart is the number one click to brick they, they took the most in 20, I guess, for this year the retail for this year, click the brick. They, they produced more. More than like Best Buy or you know Target or whoever, but they made that change so fast and they and they do constant testing but they’re not just testing online. They’re testing when you come into that store and you use the app, are you using the now the Walmart plus, are you going to the Murphy Gas station and I’m using the code. You know they’re

testing all of these things and it’s not just online they are bringing the offline in with the online or the mobile in with the online and that I think is one of the most exciting things about where we’re at with customer experience.

And with that you’re not going to get bored. You will not get bored in this industry because and if especially if you, you know we’re, we’re being cross trained you know across these things. You could, you could start to really think of new and interesting things like you’re talking about with, with meta and the oculus, you know what how that is going to impact things, virtual reality.

Milton Huezo:  So, yeah, I mean the data sources just keep multiplying right so B you mentioned the touch points. Those touch points increase every single week, every single month depending obviously on the strategies that new organizations are, are employing but bridging all of these data sources and creating that predictive component, right that narrows the lens right in terms of where we’re going to yield the best value, the best value for our customer and that’s where we’re living. And it’s a very exciting time not only from a development of resources but from the development of how we then make it make data agility right a reality for, for marketers and for organizations to act quickly, right. The concept of time to values is crucial in these predictive analytics and bridging these data sources, so.

Bibhakar Pandey:  It’s not just a question of deliver once and be done right because I think the calibration, Milton that you talk to our clients, is really so important because continuously measuring the success and the team needs to understand that it’s not like you’re delivering once and walking out from, you know.  And you know, I think we as, as, a consulting organization you should be responsible for the success of your client and to continuously measure. This measure, what value you are bringing in and refining on those data and metrics, calibrating and redefining those metrics, and going out and making it better in every iteration, is the key in this model. Because you know the, the clients are really evolving they don’t know what the end state is, neither do we.

Essentially, right, I think it’s very important to use the data and the metrics continue to calibrate and actually grow on that as you go delivering these things absolutely and I think our responsibility there is to help them operationalize that calibration, right. How does that look like within their teams what are the gaps what is it that they need in the immediate versus, versus long term so data and operationalizing that calibration is crucial as we keep continuing to talk about how to realize that CX vision.

Li Evans:  So, with all that, like this is a great discussion we’re going to be bringing in in the future. We’re going to be

bringing in some, some of our partners with all the different tools because we’ll be going across all the different areas of CX from awareness to identification to conversion and acquisition and then you know loyalty retention.

All of that well they have different tools. We’re going to be talking to different partners also talking about how we do this training piece, you know how, how does that work, what’s our partners that we’re working with, with that. And then focusing in on women in tech because women in tech you know that’s there, they’re key. I think women in tech have this empathy piece that can, can work with that so building these teams and building out this new model.

So, I want to say thanks for this discussion, guys. This is great. I’m excited for what we’re bringing to the market

and you know I’m gonna bring you back here and there along the way you know as we go along this this journey.

So, I am Li Evans from CX Studios.  I want to thank Bibhakar, and I want to thank Milton. And catch us in next week for our next podcast and Happy New Year to everyone!

Milton Huezo & Bibhakar Pandey:  Yeah, Happy New Year! Take care thank you!

Liana "Li" Evans is the VP, Head of Learning and Delivery Enablement at CX Studios. She builds teams of CX Stewards™ and Multi-Solutionists through training and hiring, leads the development of training programs for CX Studios University, drives the partnership programs that focus on the 5 pillars of CX Success™ and develops the content & marketing that enables CX Studios to reach broad audiences.

Li is an industry expert with over 20 years’ experience in the digital marketing space, is a certified Subject Matter Expert for Adobe Analytics and Experience Platform (AEP). In addition, Li's a best-selling author, trainer, conference speaker and holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Enterprises from LSUS.

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