2021 Contributors of the Year: Melissa Henley


Any company that was on the fence around digital transformation before the spring of 2020 had the decision quickly made for them. And what surprised many was how quickly they could turn around previously analog processes and ways of working when forced to. As senior director of customer experience at Laserfiche, Melissa Henley sees firsthand how her customers tackle challenges such as these to meet the demands of their workforce and their customers. 

Melissa uses her background and her passion for customer experience to inform her monthly column, where she devotes equal time to the topics of digital transformation, customer experience and the interplay between the two. Because as she has said, digital transformation will go nowhere if you don’t understand your purpose.

‘Technology Can’t Solve Experience Problems’

What excites you about your field today?

Customer experience is possibly the most exciting field you could be a part of. A totally satisfied customer contributes 2.6 times as much revenue as a somewhat satisfied customer, and 14 times as much revenue as a dissatisfied customer. Customer experience is key to any company’s success. Beyond driving the bottom line, as CX professionals, we get to have our fingers in all pieces of the pie: sales, marketing, support, finance and more. It’s always changing, it’s never boring, and you get to see customers achieving amazing things because of your work. Why would you want to do anything else?

If people could use only one word to describe you, what word would you want them to use?

I teach a class on personal branding, and I like to joke that my brand triad — loyal, dependable and pragmatic — makes me sound like a very practical golden retriever. But the reality is that while it may not be as exciting as passionate, creative and innovative, us loyal, dependable and pragmatic people make the world go round! Someone needs to hold down the fort when everyone else is freaking out. So, in that sense, I’ll say reliable. I do what I say I will, I don’t give up before the job is done, and you can always count on me.

What’s one lesson that we collectively can’t seem to learn?

That customer experience is about putting the customer first. It seems so simple when you say it that way, but actually putting customer needs at the center of what a company needs to do, and then devoting resources to ensuring that all touch points are seamless and a customer has an amazing experience, is pretty rare. It’s not out of malice or lack of care, but we frequently do what’s easy for us on the back end, rather than what’s easy for the customer, resulting in silos in the customer journey. The reality is that investing in CX pays off. When customers are satisfied, they cost less to serve, are more loyal, and promote you to others. And it costs much less to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. So if you’re not investing in the initiatives and technology to put the customer first, you’re going to eventually see the hit to your bottom line — but we constantly seem surprised by that!

What work-related trend will you be watching in the year(s) ahead?

I think that the intersection of EX and CX will continue to be a hot topic, but I’m particularly interested in applications of AI to improve customer interactions. There are so many opportunities to use AI to support human interaction and make the experience for the customer more seamless and immersive. Embracing AI will require CX leaders to change how we hire, incentivize and measure performance for customer service and support teams. There’s a lot to explore there, and it’s definitely something I’m keeping my eye on.

What’s one work-related trend that surprised you? (could be from any point in your career)

Considering that my first job involved sending giant faxes, part of me wants to say the fact that scanners, faxes, computers and cameras all fit in the palm of our hand, because that’s something I never could have imagined in 1998. Instead, I’m going to say how seamlessly companies were able to switch to remote work. I think the pandemic-driven work-from-home revolution has driven some necessary reassessments — what is work? Where does it need to take place? What role do managers play? How do we value and incentivize employees? And what happens when we don’t? (Also, if you are a manager wondering what your place is in this new world of work, one of the best articles I’ve read on the topic is “Why Managers Fear a Remote Work Future,” by Ed Zitron.)

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

When I was first promoted, former Laserfiche vice president of marketing Tom Wayman gave me a piece of advice that I still regularly share with new managers. I was complaining to him about how one of our marketing staff wasn’t doing things the way I would have done them, and how I was spending so much time redoing this employee’s work. Tom stopped me and said, “Only make corrections if it will make something 80% better. Anything less than that, it’s just personal preference. It doesn’t make the output any better, and it will only demoralize your team.” It really changed my approach to giving feedback. Now I try to focus on the bigger picture and how we can improve — not nitpicking the small things. As a result, I’m happier, and so is my team.

If you could make one wish for your industry for 2022, what would it be?

In the software industry, we tend to think that buzzy features conquer all. In reality, technology can’t solve experience problems. Features don’t drive engagement if users can’t figure out how to use them — or even worse, can’t find them in the first place! Today’s consumers expect a seamless, intuitive experience across devices. They don’t want to have a week’s worth of training to use your B2B software. They want to turn it on and go. At Laserfiche, we’ve always operated on the principle of simple and elegant software design — as our founder Nien-Ling Wacker said, it should be software that people love to use. I hope more tech companies embrace that concept and invest in giving customers an amazing experience. Just because you’re using it at work doesn’t mean that you can’t love it!



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