Yaron Morgenstern, DX Leaders profile: "“Finding out what [customers’] major roadblocks are will help with getting everyone aligned around the most important things to fix and what the root causes are, and that is truly the key to driving CX.”

Yaron Morgenstern’s career has always focused on the digital world, but it’s the humans on the other side of the screen that are most important to him. Even in his personal life, Morgenstern said he prefers to interact digitally — banking, shopping — but always with an eye toward centering the people connected through digital technology.

Morgenstern, who is CEO of Glassbox Digital, identifies three key elements important to digital consumers: functionality, usability and security. Ensure those factors and you’ve got a great UX or customer experience (CX), he said. But if any of those three pillars are shaky or, worse, missing altogether, users and customers are going to suffer.

“This is something we’re all thinking about, feeling and experiencing daily, now,” Morgenstern said. “It’s kind of a pyramid of user experience. First and foremost, at the base level, does it work? Does the site, or app or whatever you’re trying to do work? Is the functionality there? Second, is the experience seamless, frictionless? Is it the proverbial walk in the park? Because that’s the difference between a joyful experience and a frustrating one — does it allow me to do what I need to do with ease? Even if you get a functional experience, if the next level is complicated or frustrating, then it’s very jarring. You shouldn’t have to think about it; it should be intuitive. Finally, third, is it safe? Especially nowadays, you have to feel secure and know that your information and data is handled in a safe way. You know that feeling when you’re making a purchase or doing a transaction online and then maybe something glitches? That feeling in the pit of your stomach, that dread when you’re like, ‘Uh-oh. Did it go through or not? Am I going to have to click again? What if I get charged twice?’ And you don’t want to experience that doubt.”

Glassbox is a sponsor of CMSWire's DXSummit, taking place online on Oct. 21. Morgenstern’s colleague, Doug Suvalle, VP of Omnichannel, will be presenting a session, "A True Omnichannel Experience: Nothing but Customer Truth."

Ahead of the event, Morgenstern spoke with CMSWire about the ideal digital experience, why organizations need to look at the big picture first and the importance of focusing on outcomes.

The 3 Pillars of Digital Customer Experience

CMSWire: What do you feel is an 'ideal' digital experience? Why? And how does that differ from what most companies/organizations are delivering today?

Yaron Morgenstern: Again, I think it’s those three pillars. Does it work? Is it seamless? And is it safe? But I do think there’s a big gap today. I read some statistics in Forbes that mentioned $75 billion is lost to bad customer experiences. I think companies are trying, yes — they understand that this is potentially their competitive edge, but it’s easier said than done!

Part of the problem is — I read another statistic that 80% of a DevOps professional’s time is spent focused on what is wrong and how they can fix it instead of focusing on making things better and easier — which is what they really should be doing. The other thing I read was that 55% of software development causes more harm than benefit. So, again, they’re trying to improve this digital realm, and that’s great, that’s what you should be doing, of course. But in many cases, fixing one thing breaks another; it just throws a big wrench into everything.

And all that has been exacerbated this year. The digital transformation plan for most companies that maybe was five years out suddenly had to be completed in five months. And the other big issue is that the processes that drive digital are much more complex. To get that quick, seamless, safe experience requires an incredible amount of technology complexity behind the scenes. Not to mention that there are so many nuances! Different industry segments require different capabilities and there are different regulations and expectations. Look at government, healthcare, travel, telco, retail. So different, but they all still need those three pillars.

Then you get into the fact that there are so many different customer segments — what’s intuitive for young people who are digital natives just isn’t intuitive for older generations, and vice versa. Companies have to take all of this into account.

Prioritizing Customer Experience

CMSWire: How can organizations fill that gap between reality and expectation for customers and end users?

Morgenstern: Prioritize. They have to prioritize what to fix first and what can be left for later on. Every organization also needs to think about what is the motivation for their priorities. Revenue? Marketshare? Penetration? That depends on each business’s unique strategies. Finding the reason isn’t quite as easy in the digital world, either. Once they find what they need to fix, then drilling down to discover where the problem’s coming from; is it a design, network, mobile, communications problem? They have to understand what’s at the root of the problem.

Also, all the different people involved have to agree on the priorities and on the root cause. They have to have the same answer to the question of ‘What should we deal with first and why?’ Even that’s hard, because for many organizations, the people who need to agree are working in silos, and they have their own solutions, their own preferences for tools and technology, so their viewpoints of what the problems are and how to solve them is different.

But I think to really get to the heart of it, you have to always, first and foremost, take into account the users. Finding out what their major roadblocks are will help with getting everyone aligned around the most important things to fix and what the root causes are, and that is truly the key to driving CX.

CMSWire: You’ve heard the saying ‘every company is a tech company.’ Do you think we’re reaching a tipping point where ‘every company will be (or will need to be) a digital experience company’ in order to succeed going forward? Why or why not?

Morgenstern: Simple answer? Yes. Hopefully, eventually, we’ll be on the other side of the pandemic, and we can go back to our ‘regular’ lives, but I think this digital world, the digital experience, is not going away. Or at least I hope so! Even older people, or people who were reluctant to do things online or digitally now are going to get used to doing many of these things — like  going to the bank. I think it’s going to be a shift where they think, ‘OK, instead of taking an hour or two to do this errand, I can spend, say those two hours with my grandchildren,’ for instance, and it’s going to really force a change. I think that the reasons and the elements that have been brought into the open during the pandemic — like, we can do many, many of these aspects of our lives online — will force any organization that wants to not just survive but grow and move forward to fully embrace digital customer experience as the next competitive advantage.

How to Gauge Successful CX

CMSWire: How do you gauge success (or failure) of a digital experience? What KPIs and metrics should you be focusing on, and why those?

Morgenstern: The KPIs themselves haven’t really changed. They still need to track net promoter score (NPS), conversion rate, all those things are still relevant, and will continue to be. But what should change is the approach. And that starts with looking at the big picture first, which is often the opposite of what a lot of organizations do. How do I measure a successful experience? By starting at the ending. Look at what you want the outcome of a successful customer experience to be, and then you backtrack to figure out what to do and what to enable to get there.

One element we’re taking very seriously at Glassbox Digital is not to look at elements granularly. We believe organizations have to look at the entire journey and how that can encourage customers to come back, interact more, stay longer and thus, spend more. We’re not focused on individual aspects, on small bits and bytes of the journey, because that won’t be sufficient. It has to be a change in the approach so you’re looking at the entire journey.

CMSWire: What role do(es) data analytics and big data, as well as emerging tech like AI/ML and IoT play in this analysis?

Morgenstern: I think AI/ML is a technological means to get to the heart of what matters to customers and that digital experience. We use a lot of ML capabilities to allow customers to understand where problems are occurring in a customer journey and how to fix them. And we’re using it this way because it’s very hard with a manual threshold, or alerts, because it’s difficult to make sure analysts can identify them in a timely manner.

Here’s an example: One customer of ours, SoFi, experienced an error in their loan approval process. So customers were going through this lengthy application process, but when they went to submit, nothing was going through. But we were able to identify the error and where and when it was happening using AI and ML. We identified the root cause, and that allowed them to go back to those customers and make sure they could complete the process successfully, and that improved their NPS by 456%. We saved them over $9M on that specific problem, so it was an example of a great ROI as well as a great CX for their customers.

CMSWire: What are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time? How’d you get interested, and what keeps you coming back?

Morgenstern: So much of my life revolves around screens, so when it comes time for me to step back I tend to do things that are far away from screens! I go jogging, I bike, I hike and I read books. Now, a lot of my newspapers and magazines and such are digital, but when it comes to books — I prefer actual, physical books. Maybe that’s surprising, but I try and maintain that balance between digital and analog — and there’s nothing like the feel of a physical book in your hands!

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