Our Marketing Director Sheila Walthoe, took the opportunity to sit down with our new Chief Solutions Officer Nuri Gocay to learn more about his extensive customer experience (CX) and contact center experience. Read this article to find out what drives Nuri, what tractors have to do with his career in IT and why he joined Local Measure.

You have had an impressive career working for many major global organizations. What was it that excited you to join Local Measure? 

I've worked for many companies that ran large customer service organizations. Customer experience usually comes as an afterthought in all of those organizations. Yet, it's something they have to do, but it's not something they enjoy doing. 

I think Local Measure is different because they were blazing new trails in customer experience measurement before customer experience was cool. So instead of having a company that has put together customer experience as an afterthought, Local Measure was forged in it, and I think that will be critical to the success and the future of Local Measure. 

Nobody in the industry is doing as much for omnichannel experiences and agent experiences as Local Measure, full stop. When you take an amazing product like Engage, and you add that with Amazon Connect, an amazing, easy-to-use, flexible Contact Center as a service, that makes incredible outcomes for customers, agents, and the companies using it. Being part of an organization devoted to customer experience with a fantastic product strategy is the most wonderful opportunity, and I'm so excited to be here. 

You have had a successful and varied career so far. What have been your top three career-defining moments?

One of the most important moments for me was when my grandfather brought home a computer in 1990.  I grew up on a farm outside of Tampa, Florida - a large farm - and I always wanted to drive our air-conditioned tractor.  My grandpa had some foresight, though, and wouldn't let me do it! I was supposed to be a farmer, but now have had a very fulfilling career in customer experience.

Another big one was getting a job at AWS, moving to New Zealand to bring Amazon Connect to a market segment that had never seen it. It was a fantastic chance to grow, build, experiment, and run my go-to-market. Because COVID had shut the borders down, it was just me, which was super exciting. And then the last one just recently, a couple of weeks ago, I gave my first keynote at the Call and Contact center Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was the first show back for many people, and I got to start, and I said, "Hello Las Vegas" It just boomed through the room, and everybody clapped. That was a big moment for me, and I was so happy to be on that stage talking about building good customer experiences. 

How has the CX industry changed since you started work? You've recently moved back to the US and have been to a few industry conferences over the last few months. What is getting folks in the Contact Center industry excited?

My first contact center job was in 2000. I worked for a business process outsourcing company that took inbound calls for a large US telco. After spending some time with the IT folks, I got my first IT job, which was an entry-level technician in a 300 seat contact center. I absolutely loved the industry, and I love that when something went wrong, customers would turn to customer service to get things taken care of. When you look at the industry over the last 20 or 30 years, all the innovations that you've seen in this space have always started with a few short words:  "a call comes in and".

CX has been focusing on what happens after the customer is in a bad spot and rings up customer service. Customer experience isn't just what happens when someone calls customer service; it's the sum of all the experiences that a consumer has with an organization. When they get their bill or when they have an outage. I think we're seeing more as an industry now the focus on what happens to prevent callers from having to call customer service in the first place. 

We're at this weird inflection point where we now have so much data about our customers: the CRM, the history; we're now treating the words that they speak on calls to customer service as data through transcription and sentiment. So we have companies finally realizing that they can build something cool for their customers by using that data. I think that's probably the most significant shift in customer experience in the last 20 or 30 years. It's new and exciting and allows companies to be proactive. It helps with digital services and helps build better customer outcomes.

What are some large transformation projects that you have worked on that have made the biggest impact? 

One that comes to mind is a project I did with a large telco somewhere in the Asia Pacific region. They had an IVR that their customers used and probably hadn't changed in 20 years because they didn't know all the things that the IVR did, who maintained it or what back-end systems they talked to. When you have an IVR that's so stale that may not meet the current state of customer expectations, it leads to a lot of transfer calls. At one point, the average for every call was more than two transfers for every service. We know as an industry that the more often you transfer, the more it hurts your net promoter score. It's a direct correlation. So I came in as part of a team, and we looked at all of the menu options, functions, and eventual queues and self service that customers could experience, and there were probably 2000 queues. Some had never received a call or hadn't received calls for as long as there had been reporting. So the immediate project was to use natural language to replace this stodgy button-pushing IVR and then simplify the skills strategy. We reduced the transferred calls by 80% in our first customer segment, which was an absolutely incredible transformation for customer experience. And that's on the servicing side. When you look at the business transformation and the additional reporting that this company got, it's astounding, and it allowed them to tell the difference in call handle time between an iPhone and an Android user on a Monday calling in for tech support from the 60 to 70 age bracket! That ridiculous level of reporting then drove insights that allowed them to build better programs for their customers. That is transformation. To suddenly have data they didn't have before and build these incredible insights for their business to be more reactive to their customers' needs.

What are some of the most significant changes that will affect the CX industry over the next five years? 

Let's see what Local Measure can do in the next two years!

But seriously, five years is impossible to know what's going on. 

One of the challenges we've heard in the industry that has stifled innovation is digital adoption, however recent data shows that even the oldest of our customer population are demanding digital experiences, and there are more digital natives at this point. So I don't know what will happen with customers in the next five years. This Metaverse thing is coming, too. I mean, customers will want to use it, and companies are going to want to have their products on it. Is it going to be a place where we play, buy things, and what will that look like for customer experience? I have no idea. But it is exciting!

We have gone from customer care to customer experience and, more recently, from customer experience to human experience …… What's next? 

We talk a lot about data. And I've heard the term hyper-personalization kicked around. That thought of where every customer interaction is tailored directly to that customer's circumstances based on the data we have. I'm worried that hyper-personalization is going to turn into a marketing term. So what is hyper-personalization to me? I say that it is a data-driven, predictive experience. It is taking everything we know about a customer and their circumstance. And maybe it's being reactive when they call. Perhaps it's being proactive before they have to call. It's that effortless customer experience that Matt Dixon talked about. I think Local Measure is very well-positioned for that. Because no matter how good you build a digital experience, it needs a human off-ramp. We can't plan for everything that may go wrong with a customer or their unique circumstance. That bridge out of a digital experience - and how well a company executes it -  is a make or break moment in an experience and  Local Measure will excel in that space. We've got the digital channels, and we have the agent experience. We have connections to the knowledge base, we have the context of the entire digital journey. You put all those things together. And that takes a digital experience that has technically failed into an excellent customer experience, one that the agent can take control of immediately and deliver something meaningful for the customer.

What's your biggest frustration as a customer when it comes to CX, and how easy is it for companies to fix? 

I am digitally savvy. So the first thing that I'm going to do when I have a problem when I want to buy something or book something is to go to a website. I'm going to try first to resolve it myself digitally. Then, when I call customer service because I haven't been able to do it, I'll hear the message somewhere in an IVR saying, "Did you know that many common problems can be solved by going to our website?". It drives me absolutely crazy. So if a company wants to fix that kind of experience, it's all about digital transformation. If a company wants to really improve the customer experience, they will have to spend time looking at that digital experience. All customers expect a good experience now, so your customers will go to your competitors if you're not innovating in that space.

Who do you look up to in your career or industry?

I keep a book on my shelf: Matt Dixon, The Effortless Experience. I always thought that going above and beyond was the key to customer delight, and I think that's what in the industry we believe is what makes customers loyal. You've always heard the story of somebody who lost their stuffed animal and how the hotel went to great lengths to bring it back. But then this book showed me the data that loyalty plateaus once a customer's expectations are met. So data changed the way I look at building effortless customer experiences, and it really is relevant. Matt wrote this book years ago, but now in this world we live in, where proactive digital experiences are becoming the norm, this book was way ahead of its time, and it's still extremely relevant today. 

What advice would you give companies looking to future-proof their organization regarding CX? 

  1. Be flexible 
  2. Hire innovators
  3. Stay focused on what your customers want.

I have worked for so many organizations that have built their offer and products around what they want as a business and their profitability. A smart person once said that revenue was a trailing indicator of doing the right thing for your customers over time. 

The first letter of CX is also customer, so listening to your customers is probably the most essential part. I'd also say CX is not a product. A lot of people would say that we can improve CX by buying this or that. Realistically CX is an all-of-company strategy. It's your marketing department. It's your billing department. It's your logistics; it's your customer service. All of those things have to work together to make good customer experiences. If you receive 1000 contacts a month because a customer doesn't understand their bill, what can be improved in how that information is presented? It's a relentless commitment to driving out failure demand. Everybody needs to be bought into it from the top down.

If your business is looking to transform its customer experience, contact Local Measure today!