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Episode #135: How to Turn Your Modern Care Organization into a Profit Center, with Nick Nunes

Grad Conn

June 16, 2021  •  25 min read

Brands have quickly embraced modern channels — except for their customer care centers. Far too many still rely on antiquated 800-numbers. It’s time to rethink your care organization and transform it from a cost center to a profit center. Nick Nunes, Social Media Director at BMO, joins me for a look at modern customer care. Plus, we share some CX examples — good and bad — for your listening enjoyment.

Nick Nunes is a classically-trained PR strategist and marketer who found his true calling in the digital world. Follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/NickNCanada or LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/nicknunes/

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PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Grad 
All right, the sweet tones of the Jimi Hendrix guitar can only mean one thing. We’re back for another episode of the CXM Experience, which we’re going to start calling the Unified CXM Experience. I’m Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr, Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr, and today I am really looking forward to today’s session. I have had a couple of great prep conversations with our guest today and our guest today is Nick Nunes. He’s the Social Media Director at BMO. Now just for everybody who may not know what BMO is, BMO stands for Bank of Montreal, Americans often will say ‘Bee Emm Oh’. No, no, it’s ‘Beemo’. And that’s how all Canadians know the Bank of Montreal. I was a customer for many, many, many years. I was a Bank of Montreal customer, probably from the time I was 12 until I left the country in 2006. So, a long time, and a great, great, great, great bank, great people, I do actually miss it. I think BMO is one of the one of the great brands and banks and services out there.

Grad 
So, Nick, welcome to the show.

Nick Nunes 
Thanks for having me, Grad, it’s great to be here.

Grad 
I’ve got to get something off my chest. And good news, this has got nothing to do with the banking industry.  I’m not slamming any of your peers. I’m not slamming anybody that you may know, this is an appliance industry beef. And to be fair appliance industry always strikes me as being one of the laggards in customer experience and this is no exception. So, here’s a first world problem.  I’m going to admit to a little bit of privilege here. I’m just going to throw that out there. I’m not unique in this. I needed to get a garage fridge. Okay, so everyone’s sort of rolling their eyes right now saying, “Oh, you know, God’s going to tell us a sad story about his second refrigerator that he puts pop and water in”. But it’s still important because, you know, in Florida, it’s hot, and you need cold drinks. And I didn’t have room in my main refrigerator, for whatever reason. And so, I needed to get a second refrigerator. I went to Best Buy, and I bought a brand-new Whirlpool refrigerator. It’s got two doors, and it’s a vertical. So, it’s like a vertical freezer on the left and then a refrigerator on the right. And it’s quite large. And it really fit my needs perfectly. I had it delivered by Best Buy. They put it in place. I had new plugs built for it. Went right in the spot and everything was going swimmingly. The Best Buy’s delivery was great. The people were very friendly, it went in smoothly, it was clean. I was like, “This is fantastic”. And it was exactly the amount of effort I wanted to put into a second refrigerator in the garage. Since then, it has been a lot more effort. And to the point where I thought to myself, “why am I spending so much time on a secondary refrigerator in the garage?” This is almost not worth it.

Grad Anyway, it broke. So about maybe two or three weeks into being my refrigerator, it stopped working, I had a service person come out. The service person said, “the compressor’s broken”, which is kind of the refrigerator, right? And the condenser and compressor were both gone. He sort of quietly said to me, “you might want to get a new fridge because it’s a little unusual to have both these main components blow within a few weeks of getting it”. And what has been the most amazing, insane experience since then, of trying to get a new fridge has been nearly impossible. Navigating Best Buy versus Whirlpool and the conflicting sort of warranties, services and not services. But the weirdest thing and the thing that I I’m just going to coach everyone up on is that the whole thing kind of got started, (I’m not going to go through every body blow on this thing) but the thing that’s sort of funny is when it first happened, I thought ‘gosh darn’,  and so, I got all the information on the inside of the fridge and went online and found when I registered online I had to actually call them.  So first problem I had to make a phone call but okay, so I’ll make a phone call. And so, I call them, and I’m greeted by their customer service IVR, and I can’t mimic it perfectly, but imagine it’s almost like, imagine Jiminy Cricket. So, you know Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, imagine Jiminy Cricket coming on saying, “Hey, welcome to the Whirlpool experience; it’s going to be a really great experience and we’re here to service you and we’ve got 100 years of amazing customer service. And here you go”. And I thought to myself as they’re saying this to me, I literally out loud said, “Uh, oh”

Grad 
I can feel him setting me up but it’s just like I had this like, tightening inside. I thought, this is going to be a horror show and it was. I was then dropped into an IVR nightmare, just for as an example, they are great. “So welcome aboard. Give us your phone number”. I thought, give me your phone number; I’ve never called them before. All right, so I put my phone number in, “we don’t have that phone number in our system, enter it again”. Oh, no. So, I enter the phone number again, “we still don’t have that number, enter it again”. They put some kind of identity block before you can actually talk to them. There’s no way to like, how do you put…. Like I said, I’m not going to go through every single step. But I literally had to hire somebody. And I’ve spent several hundred dollars on that person alone, to actually call, sit on waiting for hours, like hours of waiting on phone calls, and Best Buys and Whirlpools.

Grad 
Anyway, at the end of the day, the same service person who said it was broken came back and fixed it, I never did get a new refrigerator. He was super salty, because it got cancelled, there was confusion. And so he was sort of kind of lipping me off while he’s fixing the fridge. The whole thing has just been bananas. And I would say that the where the breakdown occurs, and this is what we’ll kind of talk about today, Nick, is the breakdown that occurred was threefold. One is, there’s some crazy disconnect inside Whirlpool between the people writing the aspirational, you know, “Hey, welcome to the Whirlpool experience” stuff, and the people who are actually delivering the service. So, there’s something wrong there. Number two, the Best Buy versus Whirlpool interaction is crazy. Because Whirlpool won’t let Best Buy service the machine they just sold me like three weeks before it was broken. And that’s had a hugely negative impact on my Best Buy perception, because I kind of thought of Best Buy, and I have a service plan with them. And I’m a very loyal Best Buy customer, and they installed tons of stuff in my house. And now I’m like, wow, maybe that Best Buy service plan is kind of a waste of time. So that’s an issue. And then the third one is the disconnect between the service people, who work for a company called Flamingo service, and then Whirlpool because they’re contracting out the services. And so, all these disconnected parts can’t really work together well.

Grad 
And so, as a customer, I’m bearing the brunt, essentially of their org structure. I must say, I’m sorry, Nick, I really just feel so much better. Just getting that off my chest. And I really wanted to do the “Welcome to the Whirlpool experience”. Actually, everybody, you’ve got to call them; like it is the craziest experience. Just call them and see how insane it is. Anyway, I feel much better now. So anyway, Nick, welcome aboard. And let’s talk about this. I don’t want to talk about BMO specifically, because I don’t want to get into positives or negatives at your place of employment. But let’s just talk about the industry in general. And I think it would be interesting to talk about financial services, because there are a lot of departments and connections and stuff and how are you seeing these connections work or not work and talk to me a little bit about where you see things going right now in the industry? And how do you think we can fix this kind of stuff?

Nick Nunes 
So first off, that was a fantastic example, Grad. I’m sorry you went through that experience. It sounds horrible. But it also sounds like such a tremendous opportunity if Whirlpool or Best Buy or any of their employees are listening to this piece. Because you basically told them where their service chain breaks. Like you broke it for them in a little bit, just by having a default, the defaulted fridge.

Grad 
But at one point, at the peak of my frustration, as I was talking to the person who would… at this point had waited hours online on the phone to get service …. I said, “Do they understand like, of all the people on the planet to deliver this horrible experience to, maybe I’m the best thing that could happen?” Because you’re right, you know, maybe this will help. But I don’t know, I don’t think I was the best person to do it to. But anyway.

Nick Nunes 
I think the whole notion of identifying influencers, Grad, can be done in a number of different ways. And I think, when you look at CXM as a whole and you start to think about the data that an organization should have on you, you would think they put in not only just your purchasing history and your record with them over time, but also some publicly available data. And I think many organizations will get there. We’re on the path in many ways from a financial services industry to get there as well. Obviously, there are some data privacy implications that we face that others in other industries probably wouldn’t. But that’s where the organization and that’s where the world are kind of moving to and they need to, right, to prevent customer experiences like you have.

Nick Nunes 
And I think the other piece, just to go back to your initial question is, I think that as service operations get more digitized, you would be shocked how many organizations don’t even respond to customer service complaints through social networks at this point, they just tell you that you have to call. It’s 2021. And you’re still experiencing that; I think you’re going to see a lot of digitization and a lot of better care go through those modern channels that you often talk about. But I think you’re also going to see some notable cultural shifts from a, what is marketing, what is care? Right now, a lot of folks see it as care should take care of care. And I get that, I understand that. I think in 10 years, we might be having a little bit of a different conversation about what the care organization in your organization, or what the care structure, I should say, in your organization looks like. Because care is going to be such an extension of your brand, even more so than it is today. And I think that’s going to open up some interesting opportunities as you think about who owns experience. Does that mean you own not only what the message from your organization is going out the door, but also the message that customers receive when they contact you and therefore you own care and marketing?

Grad 
Yeah, that’s interesting, I want to talk a little bit about why people are still ignoring in this, I’d say all modern channels too, there clearly is stuff coming in over what we consider social platforms, a lot of people have a very strong preference to communicate with brands with Messenger or other messaging platforms. But there’s also a ton of content on the review sites. In Reddit, in all the forums that are out there. Reddit’s very rich for some of our customers, and also blogs, they’re using half a billion of those, I had a really, really amazing conversation with our Instacart customer. Instacart is one of our bigger customers. And there’s a really innovative leader there. And I’m not going to mention his name and stuff like that, because I didn’t ask him if I could talk about him, but he’s a super innovative leader. And what’s interesting is that, you know, Instacart is a very self-contained app. And there’s a lot of help in the help functions within the app itself. Despite that, there are hundreds of thousands of care opportunities that they take care of on the social platforms. But what I’ve noticed is that a lot of companies, it’s not that they’re deciding not to do it, it’s almost like they’ve decided not to even look to see if they should do it. It’s like they’re almost trying to pretend it’s not there. And by pretending it’s not there, they don’t have to worry about it. So, they’re essentially letting the phone ring without picking it up. Do you see that? What is that? Why do people do that?

Nick Nunes 
I think the interesting piece, and I don’t think it’s the case with Instacart. But I do think it’s the case, particularly in smaller countries in specific industries, is when you start to look at the technology investment, you’d need to make to have a privacy safe experience. Particularly if we were to think about this as a workflow, right? So, customer reaches out, they have something that requires you to take credit card data, say they want to purchase something, say they want to look up maybe even just your billing information, right? To what extent are you comfortable as a business exposing that data in the Facebook or Instagram or other social platform ecosystem, where it’s not secure from end to end, and you are now taking that data, particularly credit card data. And otherwise, I think that exposure point is something that many brands wouldn’t necessarily be as comfortable with. So now you’ve got to look at authentication technology that as a cause, you’ve got to think about the digital experience and how you bridge off that platform, that type of thing. I think the other unfortunate reality is social care volume, in some cases is just not there at scale just yet. But it’s rising. And the interesting piece for this and not to give you too much insight into specific brands, but I worked for one of the largest, if not, I believe it’s actually the largest telecommunications company in Canada, which to our American friends would still feel pretty small, but led the social there before joining the banking industry, and our volume from a social care perspective, now granted this was six years ago, was still significantly higher than we face from a service perspective on social from a banking industry. So, to give you some sense, like the incoming requests for social in banking, and this is true amongst all my peers. I’ve chatted with them regularly – folks that sit in places like I do. And these organizations are still very small. They’re growing rapidly every year, but they’re still very small relative to like traditional phone data. So, part of the challenge is, how do you shift the volume in the first place, let alone addressing the volume?

Grad 
Gotcha. So you can kind of afford to ignore it at this point. Is that sort of what you’re saying because the volumes are still low enough that it’s not impacted,

Nick Nunes 
I don’t think you can afford to ignore any volume, really, that has long term implications. I think that the notion is, that is one of the challenges with making a business case for enterprise grade tech when you don’t have enterprise grade tech volume. But you know you will in the future.

Grad 
Well, if I may also go to your first point, and I’m going to do a quick Sprinklr ad here, because I don’t do this very often on the unified CXM Experience, but I was listening to you talk about the challenge of someone wanting to have an account number. And while they’re interacting on say, Twitter, you know, you can always go to DM, but still, maybe it’s not secure. I’m not going to say whether it is or isn’t, but certainly DM servers are reasonably private. But there is a technology that we developed at Sprinklr that not everybody knows about. And I’m kind of kicking myself, I think I’ve done a terrible job of helping everyone understand this. One of our Telco customers in the Mideast was almost all social care, they had like thousands and tens of thousands of these. And this was becoming a bit of an issue. And so, we built a piece of technology that basically allows you to take a conversation that’s becoming confidential, move it into Chat in Sprinklr. And what it does is it actually moves the entire conversation that had started on the social platform and moves it into the chat, so you don’t lose any of the fidelity of the conversation. And then the conversation essentially, seamlessly continues in a private …, and then it’s encrypted at both ends. So, it’s very, very high-level encryption. And that’s been incredibly successful. And we have rolled that out in a lot of places.

Grad 
And so, it’s a little bit one of those things where people are like, “Well, I mean, I can’t take phone numbers, or account numbers on a public forum”. And I’m like, “Yeah, I totally agree with you there. But why let that stop you?”  Maybe like, it’s funny how people don’t double click on that and say, “Is there a technology inside Sprinklr which almost all these folks are using anyway, that allows me to do it? So that’s my quick add, I think part of the problem with it is that I’m not articulating it very well, I’ve got to come up with … I’ve got to sit down, I think, and actually work on this a little bit, I’ve got to come up with some snappy name, right? Like the, you know, the confabulator. but not that, not the confabulator; the ‘privacyer’, I’ve got to think of something that kind of gets people to understand what we’re doing, because it’s it is pretty cool. But I hear you.

Grad 
So, let’s talk a little bit about where you were going a few minutes ago. So, you were talking about how do you rethink the customer service function? And so, I’m sort of going to put a couple of grenades on the table, if you don’t mind, just to kind of get that one going? I’ll pull the pins as well. So. One thing is Customer service is always a separate function from marketing. But you know, if someone has a bad experience, like the experience I just had with Whirlpool and Best Buy, have had a profound effect on my desire to ever buy another Whirlpool appliance and a profound effect on my desire to buy anything from Best Buy. And there’s some poor marketer who’s pounding me with messages to spend all of a sudden, trying to get me to buy more both of those brands. And meanwhile, the experience so overwhelmed me that you couldn’t, you probably couldn’t give me a Whirlpool fridge for free at this point and have me be excited about it. Because I’m thinking, “I don’t know if I want all the headaches”.

Grad 
And so that disconnect between customer service and marketing, I think it’s pretty fundamental. And I don’t know why it’s happened. The second thing is, who are we putting in customer service, and we tend to underpay and create less security and fewer rewards for the people who are in the customer facing functions. And as a result, we’re taking the most important person really in the organization and rewarding them the least, with expectedly negative outcomes. So, let’s talk a little bit about this and what do you think your five-year vision on this would be? And where do you think we’re going? There is this expression of ‘care is the new marketing’. So, let’s just talk about that for a minute, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Nick Nunes 
Yeah. Yeah. Interesting things to unpack, Grad. I think the first thing I would say is organizations have such a tremendous opportunity to look at care, not just as a cost center. And I think, unfortunately, as I think about the conversations that I have with a number of folks both inside and outside banking and telecommunications industries, a lot of large-scale enterprise folks still talk in terms of costs when they think about care. And cost, unfortunately, is one of those levers that it becomes a little bit tougher to prove your business case for having a highly paid, very, very, very skilled workforce of the best of the best from a care perspective.

Nick Nunes 
And I think what you’re going to probably see is a mind shift in that area. And it’s probably going to move into, “How do I turn my care organization to something that can begin to generate revenue for me as well”. And therefore, that could change a whole bunch of the things that you think of as downstream impacts, namely, care rep compensation, for example, right? If you are going down the path of somebody not only saving a customer who might be disgruntled, but then selling them as well, that alone, they deserve quite a bit of compensation to do that. And I think there’s such a tremendous opportunity, as you think about things like, you know, integrating the data you have on the customer and suggesting next best product through AI based on the data that you have on a customer and really starting to change the thought process on making a customer satisfied, and then thinking about what’s next for that customer, once they are all in one singular place. Whether that is one singular human that services them through phone, or modern channels, or whatever the case is, or whether there’s that seamless handoff, all that to say, I think five years from now, we wouldn’t be experiencing that sort of a challenge as much as we will today. Because I think the industry is moving there.

Grad 
Let’s go outside financial services for a second because I’m struggling to sort of think about who’s doing this really well. I love where you’re going with it. I think I totally agree with you. But who’s done this? Who’s leading the way or who’s sort of guiding the pathway? And I will say one thing that I I read a great word for this the other day: I’ve been calling it uberization. It’s not a very good word. Someone else had a much better word for this. But basically, what’s happening right now is that anytime something happens in one industry, the customer expectation changes for all industries. Right? So once Uber was able to show you where your product was at every single stage of delivery, right up until one pulls up in front of your house. You’re like, “Well, why can’t everyone show me where my stuff is at every single stage of the delivery right up until when one pulled up in front of my house?” I’d say Uber’s had a huge impact on delivery services, Domino’s, Domino’s Pizza does it now. I saw a truck the other day, Domino’s Pizza truck carrying, I think frozen stuff inside it, like a fridge truck. And on the side of the truck, they had that sort of progress bar that Domino’s has when you’re ordering a pizza, and it showed where what the truck represented in terms of the progress bar, which was like shipping to warehouse or something like that. It was hilarious. But so that sort of happens.

Grad 
And I think there’s other things that when somebody starts to do customer service the way you’re talking about it right now, I think the entire world is going to suddenly change. But you know, I have Zappos as one example, the weird thing about Zappos is they literally built a company based on customer service. They did exactly what you’re talking about in terms of paying, rewarding, creating a great company culture. The CEO is on the floor all the time. They view that as their core competitive advantage. Everyone talks about it. And yet Zappos’ story’s old, they wrote a book about it, I think, 10 years ago, like this, it’s an old story, and has, for some reason, not had the influence that Uber’s had in other areas. I’m puzzled by that. So, let’s jam on that for a second.

Nick Nunes 
Yeah, so two interesting industries that I’ll kind of pull up here. One is quick serve restaurants. So, I’ve recently, I won’t name the brand, but I recently had an awful and I mean, awful experience at a restaurant. And it takes a lot for me to complain. But I did. I did. It wasn’t hard for me to complain. So, I complained. And the interesting piece of that is, I was fully expecting to not get a great response. I complained on a modern channel, I complained on Social, but I didn’t do it publicly, I went through DM, and I got a great response, a very empathetic response. And I also got a voucher come in to not only replace my meal with a refund, which was interesting, because usually they just say, “Oh, come back in and we’ll give you the same thing again for free”. So, they were going to give me a refund. And they also gave me a meal free, which was great. And then when I went into the experience, and here’s where it’s next level for me, when I went in, they knew at the restaurant, they knew at the restaurant, that I had a bad experience and that I had, from an experience perspective a poor one and  I’ve been racking my brain, Grad, but the only thing I can think of is the care team had a way of taking that negative complaint, routing it to the restaurant manager and having my name on file. Now, I made a reservation digitally. So maybe in the backend systems, they’re connected to the extent, but I was absolutely blown away, right. And then the next piece I would say is and a lot less impressive, but a very iconic Canadian brand who I will name, Canadian Tire. So, I actually walked out.

Grad 
Of course, Canadian Tire. I miss Canadian Tire. There’s no Canadian Tire down here. There’s nothing like it. Canadian Tire is so unique. It is so unique. They’ve tried and failed over and over again in the US. But it is oh, my God, such a fantastic store. Okay, Canadian Tire. I’m all in.

Nick Nunes 
Okay, I won’t take us off track other than to say there’s also one up here in Canada called Princess Auto, which is like a more evolved, very different concept on Canadian Tire. But I digress. To go back to Canadian Tire. I went in there and this is probably a year ago now. I went in there and the cashier gave me a product that I didn’t buy. So, there must have been something there on the cash register. And for some reason, I walked out with something I didn’t buy. So, when I went back to the store, it was out of stock, right? So, I sent a note because I had a very dissatisfying experience within that actual in-person interaction. And they shipped me two. So that was kind of cool.

Grad
Nick, I am, I am loving this conversation and maybe having a bit too much fun actually, because we’re going a little long. And so, I’m going to end today now, and we’ll take a little break, and we’ll pick this up tomorrow. And we’ll be back and continuing the unified CXM Experience. So, for the unified CXM Experience, I’m with Nick Nunes, the Social Media Director at BMO, and I am Grad Conn, CXO, or Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr. And I’ll see you…tomorrow.

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Grad Conn

Chief Experience Officer, Sprinklr

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