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Dave Singer: Optimizing Quality Programs for Customers

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In our DXS leaders Q&A, SMG spoke with Dave Singer of Verint about quality programs for customers, their evolution over time and future possibilities.

With no shortage of digital channels for customers to reach an organization, it can be hard for them to know where to solve their service issues or provide feedback. 

That’s where the digital experience in quality programs must be intentional. Dave Singer, VP of go-to-market at Verint, sees an “acceleration of what I call the normalization of experience across these channels. People flip back and forth as they see fit.” So, how do organizations manage this and help customers find the information they need?

Verint is a customer engagement company and a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s recent DX Summit (DXS) Conference. To follow up on its session, SMG spoke with Dave about quality programs, their evolution over time and future possibilities. 

Evolution of Digital Experience

Simpler Media Group: Why are digital experiences for customers so important?

Dave Singer: More and more, it’s the starting point for every experience. A digital experience can be self-service, it can be automated conversational AI, it can be a digital connection to a human. So why is digital experience so important? Because it is an experience, and every experience is important to customers.

If every experience doesn’t line up with their expectations, their needs, then it’s going to fail. If there is a differentiated focus, either positive or negative between voice-assisted versus self-serve, then things fall apart. 

And people have to figure out I’m going to call for this, tweet to do this. Really, disconnected, disconcerting experiences. You really have to have that digital experience normalized and raised to the next level. 

SMG: How do you see the digital customer experience evolving in light of the pandemic? What does this accelerate for you? What does it hinder?

Singer: What the pandemic really did is bring the digital adopter laggards right up to the front. Everybody has been sort of forced into learning something new. What it’s really done is say it’s no longer digital for the young kids. It has got to be digital to solve for the broader set of problems and the experience across everything that’s going on. 

Most people have something come to mind when we say digital experience. Does that mean self-service like filling out a form? Or does that sound like conversational AI? Or does that sound like chatting to an agent? If it’s web chat versus picking up the phone, it is part of that expanding digital continuum. 

There has really been acceleration in innovation and deployment around these things and acceleration of what I call the normalization of experience across these channels. People flip back and forth as they see fit. 

It has hindered some of the improvement in the traditional or legacy experience or communication channels.

I’m starting to travel a bit over the past couple of months, and it’s interesting. You see in restrooms, “How clean was this bathroom experience?” You push the smiley button or frowny button while coming out. There’s a lot of stuff now on that in-person side, and meshing the measurement of in-person experience with digitally starts to get really interesting. You get this much more common view versus an assumptive view of what’s happening in person. 

Quality Programs Through the Ages 

SMG: You’ve been focusing on quality programs. Tell us more about what these are and what a good quality program looks like.

Singer: Everybody has heard if you’ve ever called a contact center, “This call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.” 

When I started with this industry about 30 years ago, quality programs used to be the supervisor sitting next to an agent and plugging their headset into a phone, listening to what’s going on, and scoring on a piece of paper what was going on. Then that moved to recording the calls and playing back a sample, then progressing from there.

Now, there’s an expansion of what can be collected. When I was designing call recording systems, it was a big debate of should you record the 1% you’re going to sample, or record 10%? Storage is almost free now, so everybody does that 100% capture across voice, emails, chats, bot interaction, social interaction. 

Coaching is good, but that will at best solve the problem for the next customer. But you can fix it for the call happening right now. If the system can sense that Nicole is struggling to process a bill payment because they don’t take AmEx, for example, the system can suggest how to solve the problem right now and make it right for the customer, seamlessly in the call or chat flow. 

There’s real-time AI-powered coaching, there’s post-call microcoaching of a 90-second video, and then we’re still going to have our biweekly coaching sessions so we can talk about what’s working and not working so we can focus on that human interaction. I think that’s profoundly more powerful in every dimension than the way it used to be done. 

Illustration of a DX Summit leader, someone who speaks at CMSWire's DX Summit conference. It's a headshot of Dave Singer of Verint to the left, with a DX Summit logo top left, "Dave Singer Verint" top right and a quote bottom right that says, “So why is digital experience so important? Because it is an experience, and every experience is important to customers.”

Learning Opportunities

Next in Tech

SMG: How will new technologies and approaches like AI, AR, VR, cloud-native, mobile-first, IoT, machine learning — all the hottest buzzwords — impact the digital customer experience as they become more widespread? How do you see them being leveraged in your area?

Singer: AR and VR are in very early stages. The industry is still figuring out where that is useful versus cool or, worse, just really annoying. That is going to be really interesting. 

Cloud-native and mobile-first is the biggest enabler of improvement because what it meant is we can get the functionality and capability in the hands of people as fast as we can develop it. Cloud-native has accelerated the pace at which innovation can be delivered and absorbed.

Mobile-first has really created many more micro experiences than macro experiences. I refinanced my mortgage last year. I could interact 3-4 times a day as actions had to happen, versus every couple of days having to call my advisor or wait until I get home to log on. 

The combination of cloud-first rapid delivery of innovation and capability, combined with the mobile-first ability to consume that wherever you are is changing more of these rapid micro experiences that connect into broader engagements, versus single long phone calls.

AI is the improving outcome of machine learning. We can now scan these millions of interactions and engagements and experiences and feed that learning into our AI learning models to drive up automated improvement. It’s profoundly impactful. 

IoT goes into location awareness. We talked before about the happy-face buttons in bathrooms. That’s an example of the Internet of Things because it all feeds back into your customer feedback platform. It’s bringing that ability to get the same kind of data and context and drive experience.

SMG: If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would you ask? What do you think the conversation would be about?

Singer: I’ve been doing karate for a very long time, so I would invite Patrick McCarthy, Iain Abernethy, and Jesse Enkamp to dinner. 

Patrick McCarthy is the world’s leading karate historian. He has translated the earliest texts from Chinese and Japanese and made them widely available and is the leading authority on the history and background of karate.

Iain Abernethy has a whole set of different philosophies on the use and practicality of it, based on Patrick McCarthy’s teaching. 

And Jesse Enkamp is the self-proclaimed karate nerd. He has a blog, YouTube channel, all that stuff. He is taking everything that Patrick has researched and Iain has developed and making it widely accessible and fun and interactive. All three of them lead seminars around the world. 

I think it would be fascinating to hear where stuff came from, how it influences one and how it drives to the other. We’d have to go for sushi and sake. 

Watch Verint’s DX Summit session on-demand here.

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