Vibha Thusu, Global Head of Marketing and Communications at HIMEL, speaks about differential points in the customer journey for her brand HIMEL.
Various dimensions of the customer base for HIMEL, comprising electricians, contractors, or original equipment manufacturers, are still on the periphery of engagement on digital channels. Thusu is a strategic marketing communications leader, passionate about content marketing and storytelling, leveraging online and offline demand generation touchpoints, customer experience and channel ecosystem to grow brand awareness, sales and market share with an entrepreneurial mindset. She has more than 17 years of experience in industry segments like IT and Services, learning and education, FMCG, engineering, energy management, and electrical and industrial automation.
Excerpts from the interview;
How is the CX journey defined in your organization?
For HIMEL, every action taken or not taken, from inquiring about a product to installing a product, is a part of the customer experience journey. We have a convoluted path. There are technical demos, logistics, documentation… many milestones that don’t exist in ordinary B2C. We often circle back on the same juncture, which is not perceived as success in common CX journeys.
Are you taking a new CX approach for GenZ?
Recently, brands have focused on CX strategy driven through tools and technologies that begin and close the loop or mine the feedback, focused on urban strata—the front line of well-seen digital customers.
The GenZ of electricians, contractors or original equipment manufacturers are still on the periphery of engagement on digital channels. By bringing them into the ambit, we are building a link between experience and value — on and off digital.
We animated this approach in our recent campaigns. We leveraged field connections and digital campaigns to delve deeper into our customer’s journey — how we lower their efforts and costs to serve the end, enable their expertise, or make things seamless. Our approach is, therefore, multichannel and rooted in proactive customer engagement.
Do you think employees’ experience has an impact on customer experience?
A brand’s success depends on positive CX, which starts with its first customers — its employees. At HIMEL, employee experience is nurtured top down. We care for our people to make them feel connected to their purpose. And not just customer-facing employees. The satisfaction of each employee is a cog in this bigger CX machinery.
What is the biggest challenge brands face when delivering omnichannel service?
Challenges differ as per the product or service. A common challenge for product-based brands is offering a consistent experience to buyers. The experience of an online buyer who closed the journey with a few clicks differs from the one who drove to a POS and spent a good amount of time checking out his purchase. To delight in diverse touchpoints is a feat, yet crucial for our long-term success.
What is the role of technology in improving your CX?
Technology has given us data and starting points to plan, deliver, and delight from discovery to purchase. Providing contextual data-driven experience is now possible.
We have a B2B ordering platform at HIMEL to give B2C ease. In our industry, ordering with a click is the latest fun thing.
How can brands deal with negative CX?
While all businesses try to get the customer experience right first, it is not often the case. To me, the best approach to deal with negative CX is to listen, empathize, show up, and remediate. Digital tools can help in listening, but as a brand that wants to connect better, there must be an action plan for every plausible negative CX point.
Do you see your organization adapting to the metaverse?
Not yet. We want to wait and watch how our industry responds. We do not want to overwhelm our channel ecosystem with too many digital touchpoints. The technology needs to reach a mass-use level to be truly impactful and add value.
What are the top three focus points to improve CX?
From what I can see, next year’s CX improvement will require more human-centric approaches, digital listening and data tapping, novel approaches to getting feedback, and making each touchpoint more accessible.
How do you personalize CX in the electrical industry?
In the electrical domain, especially the B2B, how well you know your customer’s needs is the key to personalization. An electrical designer’s needs differ from an electrician’s, which comes later in the picture. This granular understanding of needs drives CX’s success. At HIMEL, we keep ourselves updated on novel needs.
What are the challenges in CX for the electrical industry?
In electrical, you can’t always speak to your customer digitally. Not in equal efficiency. One-on-one interactions, collecting field intelligence and ground-level feedback require work. These are not challenges per se. It is the unique nature of our business.
What can delegates expect from your presentation at CX NXT?
Any experience is a double-edged sword, and it is never isolated. Unhappy employees can’t instill happiness in customers. Frontline teams, such as business development or sales, who work directly with customers in retail settings, take calls, or get out into the field are the face of the brand to customers. These are the people who are an embodiment of the brand’s purpose. Hence their experience, which stems from every employee’s experience, matters.
The leadership strata must develop a customer experience vision and strategies to build internal team momentum and conviction. This shared aspiration can fructify only when the ‘experience’ of teams and customers is an organization-wide-performance indicator that translates into differentiation, innovation, energy, and a human touch to what would otherwise be a strategy.
The complexity of dealing with customers, channels, and competitors is only growing. We can’t be complacent with only net promoter scores or star ratings. Changing the game and getting ahead often requires stepping back from numbers and looking for why’s and hows. Tools and technology can parse the discerning factors, but improving experience demands a human lens.
Customer Experience is a return of an organization-wide aspiration to see the world through a customer’s eyes. The weightage of employee advocacy depends on the brand’s appetite for change. Are we looking to shift the needle to the other extreme, or is the goal to improve at the margins? This clarity will determine efforts in diagnosis, strategy, cultural transformation goals, and moving all cogs in the hierarchy.
Vibha Thusu will participate in a panel discussion titled Do Happy Employees Make Happy Customers? At CX NXT – the Customer Experience Summit on 16-17 November in Dubai.