The Support Automation Show: Episode 13

In this episode of The Support Automation Show, a podcast by Capacity, Justin Schmidt is joined by Nicole Garberg, Vice President of Customer Experience at Engine. They discuss why people find automation scary, how automation applies to the customer and employee experience, and Engine’s approach to automating support. They also dive into how a business can integrate automation efficiently to gain the support and encouragement of the existing employee base and the long-term benefits of customer experience.

Listen now!

Justin: Welcome to The Support Automation Show, a podcast by Capacity. Join us for conversations with leaders in customer or employee support who are using technology to answer questions, automate processes, and build innovative solutions to any business challenge. I’m your host, Justin Schmidt. 

Justin: Good afternoon, Nicole. Welcome to The Support Automation Show.

Nicole: Hi, Justin. Thanks for having me today.

Justin: Absolutely. Where does this podcast find you?

Nicole: I’m in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a little bit of chill in the air today.

Justin: I love Minneapolis. My wife and I went up there a few years ago. We went up there in the spring Twin Cities area or whatever. We were walking around, having a great time. It was downtown Minneapolis, and I kept noticing the skyways in between the buildings. For the first few blocks just silently to thinking myself, “I wonder what those,” and then it dawned on me that in February when it’s -700 degrees or whatever, you need someplace that you’re not going to have frostbite walking out the door.

Nicole: Yes.

Justin: You’re the Vice President of Customer Experience at ENGINE. Tell me a little bit about ENGINE and your role there.

Nicole: ENGINE is a full-service marketing, insights, and advertising agency firm. We are around for content creation. Let’s start that over. Sorry. [chuckles] All right. Yes. My role at ENGINE, I lead the customer experience practice for insights division. We have a larger function at ENGINE as the ENGINE group that has insights and a media and advertising exchange as part of our business as well.

Within insights, we have a lot of data analytics, we have brand, we have many industry verticals that we run. Then with our advertising and media services, we’re able to connect that with message testing, methods development, anything creative work. Really a nice marriage of finding out what’s going on with a business and then taking it to market as well.

Justin: In your journey to getting where you are, how did you get into CX? What is it you’re hoping to accomplish for I guess, ENGINE’s customers or ENGINE’s clients?

Nicole: More holistically, I want to help make the experience, everybody feels better. I think we’re all customers and we’re all clients in some capacity in our lives. I started my career in jobs you do to get by as a customer service agent. I was on the phones answering calls 100 deep in the queue. The metrics you’re measured with were getting off the phone as fast as you can. I never appreciated that. I never liked that. I didn’t use that in my own practice.

As luck would have it and as my career has evolved, getting into research and going through being on the client-side of the world, and managing primary data collection and research and insights for large firms, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, and OptumHealth, getting through that piece of it, and then coming to the supplier side, eventually landing at ENGINE here leading the CX practice.

I take a combination of being a client, helping clients, and being a customer myself to put together what helps the business progress and what helps customers experience be even better and promote their loyalty with organizations.

Justin: Your point about everybody being a client and a customer is an interesting one. Just the other day– Yesterday, I think it was, yes. Actually, it was yesterday. We’re in a meeting of the marketing team, we’re just discussing some of our messaging platforms and ideas that we’ve been using in 2021 and thinking what needs to be tweaked for 2022.

One of the interesting things that I’ve been thinking about a lot and was brought up in this conversation is from a customer experience standpoint is– My world is myopically focused on B2B because Capacity as a B2B like we sell to the enterprise, not to individuals. I realized that from a CX perspective if I think of the CX I get as a consumer with companies like, I don’t know, Apple or Honda or whatever it is, not only the expectation’s higher but in odd ways, the actual customer experience is a lot higher than what we see in B2B in the enterprise.

At least that’s been my experience. I’m curious from your vantage point, do you see CX and the consumer versus the enterprise side, do you see those as learning from each other evolving? Similarly, do you see one of those being maybe being further along than the other? I’m just curious from your catbird seat of being a VP of CX at an agency that has like a window into a large swatch to market what you’re seeing?

Nicole: Absolutely. Business to business relationships have traditionally been focused more on product and less on client or customer experience. Now they’re seeing that that is more important and coming to the forefront. A lot of work in our B2B space is helping to optimize that client relationship, and understanding things like contracting and the unintended consequences of a change in an operation or in a process that may happen from procurement and the amount of money that can actually translate to your customers, and how that’s a difficult place to be a perspective.

One of the things that we’ve been talking about lately is, and as I think most of the nation is talking about is all the issues with supply chain. We feel it as consumers, but nobody’s feeling it more harshly than those B2B companies that are looking for shipments that are coming in. A lot of conversations they have–

Not typical things that we think about as general consumers ourselves like, “I wanted to go and buy the newest iPhone, and it was out of stock.” Or, “I wanted to get a car, but they didn’t have the model I wanted,” which we’re not used to seeing and we’re all getting around that. With the B2B situation right now, if you have a delay in shipment, you have to have a place to receive these large shipments.

In situations, we see where customers will have a day delay, while the company that you’re shipping that to has to incur a day’s expense at that warehouse, and then an extra day, and they may not have the rental space when your delivery actually comes in. The planning around that and the amount of wasted income and investment is something they need to think about. Just different touchpoints and different aspects of how to manage that client or customer experience in the B2B but just as important, and a lot at stake in terms of budget dollars.

Justin: Yes. The knock-on effects of the supply chain disruption are candidly frightening, but also, intellectually, it’s an interesting thing to follow. You talk about these touchpoints and talk about the expectations, this gets into a little bit of the core of the show. To take what started as a smooth transition that I’m going to make a little more abrupt here. One thing I always like to ask people early on and during the conversation is when I say the word support automation, what does that mean to you?

Nicole: Self-service and convenience. That’s what comes to mind first.

Justin: Self-service and convenience. It’s interesting because self-service– Technology enables a lot of things, right. We’re able to even think of ideas now that were just not even in the realm of thought, say 50 years ago. I always use the example of Uber, right. Uber, Lyft, ride-sharing in general, that’s not even a figment of someone’s imagination until you have cell phones in every pocket and the technology that enables that fleet tracking and algorithmic availability, sorting, and everything. That’s something Uber does to exist, right.

Self-service in a lot of ways is very similar. It’s not that long ago that the furthest tip of the spear in support automation was an automated voice menu when you call your cable company or cell phone company to deal with something, right? You’re sitting there just suffering, waiting to when’s the right time for me to say like speak to an agent or press zero, right. Now with chatbots and some of the decision trees stuff and those companies do, had their chief revenue officer on the show not too long ago. Great episode. You just see more technology being able to make something like self-service even possible, right. Then the convenience factor– This is another good thing to touch on because ultimately if you provide customers with convenience, you provide them with not only just the joy of being of having a convenient experience, but you’re also avoiding more opportunities for them to be inconvenienced.

Sounds trite, but I think it really matters, and if you can present people with enough low friction, good and interactions with your brand, the likelihood of them renewing their contract or buying more product from you in the future, or recommending you to a friend, all that stuff goes up. At the same time, there’s a bit of a implementation costs to this. This goes to what you mentioned in the show notes that I thought was very interesting.

That is like technology opens up job opportunities rather than eliminating positions because when you talk about automation, it’s the robots in the factory. It’s AI doing accounting versus humans, all the immediate things that we sort of jumped to, but it doesn’t have to be scary. I would love it if you could maybe talk a little bit about what you meant by technology opening up new job opportunities rather than eliminating positions.

Nicole: Absolutely. In the case that a company is going to do a digital transformation or bring in a new piece of technology, what they should be doing is having an open dialogue with their employees to let them know that their job is not at risk their expertise and their knowledge about what they do and how they perform their job function will be needed and what they would like to do and hopefully, more companies than not feel this way is to really up-skill their employees so that they can have new opportunities and growth and then that keeps them more interested in their job.

It gives them more opportunity. Internally, more self-satisfaction builds morale, and so then they become an expert at something new and have the opportunity to go up throughout the company. A lot of education is done through tuition reimbursement. Sometimes you’re taking the classes you want to leave that job.

In these cases, you can have a mentorship track or an internal track that helps you to go out of a situation or not see something as maybe the dead-end or limited. There’s a ceiling you hit in your position, so you don’t have to leave the company. You can stay within the company and get more experience and exposure through other ways of working and technology coming in frees up people to do less remote mundane day-to-day tasks and use higher-level functioning and have that in their day-to-day opportunity.

Justin: Yes. There’s also those day-to-day opportunities to initiate sort of higher function work. This is a great theme in support automation, one that I like to touch on with every guest we have. There are both internal and sort of customer-facing opportunities for that to be expressed, but maybe it’s the questions that do make their way past the chatbot, past the knowledge base and into on the phone call with an agent. Those theoretically should be the thornier issues that require some human intervention.

On the internal side, maybe it’s less time doing rote repetitive tasks and more time diving into something a little deeper. How do organizations and how would you advise organizations to identify those aspects of the customer experience that are impactful and what to tackle first with some of that bandwidth that adopting technology opens up?

Nicole: Absolutely. Our process goes from, start to finish and looks at what are those key touchpoints? We do that through surveying customers. We also look at comments on social media. I always say the more inputs we have, the better the picture is of what’s really going on with customer experience. Your customers are talking about their experience with you. You may not be listening, or you may not be plugging into the right customer.

Social media, customer service calls, scrubbing, and themes for sentiments is another way to know what’s going wrong and what most issues are. Most of the time, we can look at that and say, there’s a process issue, and diagnose the problem and address that without even having to reach out to the customer base. When we look at overarchingly, what are the most important assets of the experience?

We start with mapping the customer journey to make sure that we have all of those touchpoints and then we go out to a select sample of the customers to ask them their performance of the brand on each of those touchpoints, and then also what they find most important. We do stated versus derived importance and can look at what people say matters the most to them, but then also how does that, touchpoint on the performance on that touchpoint impact their experience and the overall reading that gets the brand.

That’s how we get at what’s most impactful and then we couple that with the performance. When the performance is low and the importance is high, stated, or derived, we look at that and say these are the areas that will make your experience better which leads to stronger loyalty. That’s how we prioritize what to work on first.

Justin: Very interesting. This question comes from a general and real place of curiosity here. In terms of those customer questions and the surveys, I assume survey methodologies and stuff that you all use with customers. In your career, how have you seen automation and maybe AI enter into that realm, and enable folks such as yourself to get those insights? As far as I know, we don’t have AI writing survey questions quite yet necessarily, but maybe teasing out insights and data. I’m just curious where you see the role of automation in AI, in the actual feedback gathering process.

Nicole: Oh, software as a service companies are out there and doing a lot in CX specifically, maybe you heard of Medallia or [unintelligible 00:16:58] those are key market players. We partner with those players and put results up on platforms and dashboards and help our clients to use that software. What it does is it allows more time for the insights generation. What do you do with this information now that we have it? Whereas it could have taken three weeks to collect data, have an analyst run tables, and then put together a PowerPoint report.

We can collect data right and through the tool, we set up the analytics on the backend of the system so that as the responses come in, they’re tabulated, and then they populate onto a platform. We say real-time feedback. It really is real-time feedback. The advantage that that’s presented is that customers, clients can figure out what’s going wrong and resolve that. Typically we say between 48 and 72 hours, like to even do it in 24, but sometimes the supply-demand is hard.

What happens is if you give a negative rating, then you’re giving permission to get a callback. We have somebody who’s scheduled to review all of these negative experiences and do something for the customer because we don’t want to leave a bad taste in their mouth, and we’ll proactively address, “Oh, thank you for telling us. We didn’t clean up after ourselves after we serviced your vehicle. Why don’t you bring the car back to the shop, we’ll give it a full detailing, no charge.”

Those things are supported by the software as a service. It also uses AI so that we can have open-ended comments. When you say, how likely are you to recommend a service on a scale of zero to 10? You might give us 6. What does that mean to you? Usually, it’s followed with an open-ended question. Why did you give us that rating? If you can imagine if a transactional survey as every time a customer makes an interaction or a purchase with you, we offer them the chance to take a survey, tell us how it was, and if it was bad, follow up with them.

Well, that can easily multiply to hundreds of thousands of comments that a human cannot sit and read through. To be able to do the insight piece of things, we have AI with text analytics that will go through and code for themes in sentiment and easily grasp that for you. You can say, “Of the people that gave a negative rating, here were the things that they were talking about the most.” That right away tells you, this is the area to go after and fix.

It allows that insight generation in real-time and as you fix it, you should see those comments going down and a corresponding new theme would be emerging. We say, “You have your first tier issues that you take care of, know what the second tier are.” Once you’ve resolved the first tier, they can cycle down and now they’re satisfied. They’re not a key driver anymore because there’s not a problem there.

Justin: Yes. You bring up an interesting point about sentiment because this is something we at Capacity look at too is one of our marquee customers is a big university

here in the Midwest that has both a decent size in person, but also, a fairly decent sized online contingent. We do some support automation around modeling student behavior and trying to predict dropout, and prevent melt as it’s called in the academic industry when students are not returning in next semester or whatever.

Sentiment analysis is interesting because human to human, you and I can have a conversation and I can say, “I was really looking forward to go into such and such restaurant. Nicole, on a scale of 1 to 10, what would you rate it?” You would say, “Oh, I’d give it a–” Pro-tip, if you ever asked someone to rate something on a 1 to 10, say they can’t use seven. What I find out, it makes them really decide whether they like it or not, which anyway as an aside. You could give me a number and then you and I can go back and forth and have a conversation.

I can get the context to the number and understand that, “Oh, she said a six but that’s because she doesn’t like a certain type of food, and that’s what mostly was on the menu, or the other people that were with her liked it but the service was good except for maybe the hot.” All this nuance in something that doesn’t necessarily exist on a Likert scale or whatever.

When you have AI, look at this, you do potentially bring in the prospect of some bias if the AI is not trained and modeled properly, and bias is very important to not have in your survey. My circuitous way of getting to a question here is– [chuckles] I’m nothing if not on brand. What do you guys do? What does ENGINE do to help customers understand and optimize their CX without introducing bias into the process?

Nicole: In terms of the AI and the text analytics piece of it, we come up with a code frame, so humans start the process, and it’s based on frequency, and sentiment is coded with certain phrases. There is an acceptance that 70% accuracy is pretty good, is gold standard-ish. If you hear anybody saying, they can get 80% or above and accuracy with AI and texts coding, I would be a little hesitant to believe that that’s true.

What we do is we start with that human-coded frame, and then we take a look on a continuing basis and refresh because what it doesn’t do set up for a frequency algorithm, it’s not going to find those nuance things that you might want to look for in white space. Another way that we end up validating our own projects is that we have– ENGINE has Hives, which is a digital online qualitative platform.

I love to use the quantitative with the qualitative to go deeper. What we’ll do is we ask a question in a very neutral way, it’s not leading, no bias there, just tell us what you think, why you think it. Then when we want to go deeper into certain areas, we can have an algorithm set up to tag and invite people that answer our questions in a certain manner that bucket them into different groups. You can have a promoter in the NPS scale question type example, and you can have a detractor.

They rate the same attributes or touchpoints, but one, it was really for scheduling for example. One had a great time scheduling, they went into the repair shop, and on the first time they brought it in, they got in and out really quickly. It was done great. The other person comes in, it took them three times to reschedule because of certain issues.

This could be the same shop and it’s just that’s how it happened for the one versus the other. We asked ourselves and our clients ask what is going on here? Why do we have such high ratings but then there’s still a problem? You can see, the detractors will rate the key items much more negatively than the promoters because that’s what’s making them detractors. We go back in and say, “What’s the root cause?” Then go to find that and address the issues.

It could be a staff member, it could be a process, it could just be a broken phone system. Staffing issues aren’t huge problem right now with just having enough people to serve the customers. You’re seeing signs, just be patient with us, so we’re asking customers to be a little bit more patient and understanding than we had in the past too. Back to your– how do you write an unbiased survey? You really don’t ask leading questions. You have a hypothesis, you asked around questions around the hypothesis.

You need to be able to set up in an academic sense, you need to set up questions that would prove your alternative hypothesis or accept that nothing is really happening than all hypotheses. We go in with that type of design. We also make sure that we’re not burdening our client’s customers, so there’s practices around how often you go back to the same well of people, and you make sure that there’s– within six months, you’re not asking the same person the same questions.

That’s more in brand-type tracking studies in customer experience. If it’s the voice of the customer, that’s a transactional project. Like I said, you can go to McDonald’s 20 times in a month, and every single time you’re asked how your experience was, you don’t have to answer every time, but it’s there for you. A relationship-based survey would not do that, it would take a sampling of customers from your organization and ask them at various points along their relationship with you.

Something financial services, you take out a mortgage, you probably have a lot of interaction during the time you’re doing the application right after you close on your home. Then now you’ve got about 10, 20, 30 years before you really have– you’re still in a relationship with that lender but you’re not talking to them as often, but there’s ways that they can reach out to you and should be so that they can get repeat business and be helping you, so we help them to foster that strength of relationship in the meantime.

We would be asking, “What’s your relationship like? What’s important to you about servicing your mortgage as you’re not actively interacting on a daily or weekly basis?”

Justin: Until there is some sort of once every 100 years Black Swan event where interest rates go down to near zero, and everyone refinances. You bring up a good point, which is you have to design and then saying– I know you’ve got a master’s degree in psychology and you’ve been doing CX and all sorts of related stuff for a while, so this isn’t wasting my breath saying it to you, but you have to design your survey properly.

Thank you for coming on The Support Automation Show, this is the nuggets we drop here.

Kidding aside, you have to design the thing properly. You also touched on this a little bit when you said that if a technology provider says that they can measure more than 70% or they say they can measure 90% of sentiment accurately or whatever that you should– your BS meter should go up, that leads me to another question. I think you’re really uniquely suited to provide a lot of guidance for our listeners being that ENGINE deals with so many– You just deal with all walks of life, so to speak.

I know in terms of a big company with a lot of offices, a lot of customers, a lot of clients, you’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to coming into a situation where people have already implemented technology and it’s gone south, or if implemented technology and they’ve made your job easy, they just haven’t recognized it yet. What are some other tips or just things that you would mention are worth keeping in mind for any listeners out there who are evaluating some tool or technology to do surveys or customer sentiment or e-SAT or whatever it is?

Nicole: The tool is only as good as the person who’s programming it. I think about the features on a remote control. If you know how to turn it on and turn the volume up, you can turn it on and turn the volume up but there’s so many other things that it can do. You can watch on sports mode, or theater mode, and the media behind that. The more education you have and the right people programming, it’s really important.

Anybody can get a license to these software packages and write a survey and put it out there. That doesn’t mean that they necessarily have the correct skillset to be writing that survey. You asked how you don’t introduce bias, you don’t ask the leading question, you don’t ask a double-barreled question. It may seem easy to write a survey. It’s an art and a science, and it takes psychometricians study, the right type of scales, they study the right number of words. There’s the magic number of seven plus or minus two is what we can hold in our memory at any given time. If you’re doing work with children versus teens, versus adults, you know different reading levels. If you’re doing work considering your population you’re serving, I do a lot in the healthcare space. If we’re working with Medicare or Medicaid, certain government programs,

we want to make sure that the questions we’re asking, the respondent is understanding what we want to get out, so, reading level is an important question that we ask ourselves. “Is this survey written at an eighth-grade reading level?”

For some projects that I’ve done as a supplier and as on the client-side myself, it was a mandatory standard that if we surveyed certain populations, the survey was written at an eighth-grade reading level because there are some words that people don’t know. They’re not going to go and look them up and you’re going to get garbage in, garbage out. Don’t ask a question that you can’t get the right answer back from. Just don’t make it so complicated.

Without that training, you could not know those things and be a little dangerous making conclusions and guiding your organization to spend money and resources in areas that your results may not support even though you believe they do.

Justin: Interesting. Changing gears a little bit here, we’d also talked about– I’ll rather start that over. We’ve each done one now. Changing gears a little bit, I want to go back to another point that you mentioned and the survey/Townley link that we sent you to set up this interview. One of the things you mentioned was integrating technology in a way that’s supported and encouraged by existing employee base and the long-term benefits on customer experience.

This is an interesting question because there’s two parts in it. One is integrating technology in a way that’s supported and encouraged by the employees, but then also keeping in mind the long-term benefits and customer experience. I’d love it if you could double-click on that.

Nicole: The technology can help employees do their job more efficiently and more effectively. Again coming back to the health care example, if you were a customer service representative working for a health plan, you could have a book that’s [unintelligible 00:32:09] binder on yourself with different benefits and different products terms and all of the acronyms that we use in health care.

There could be four strains literally at these individuals’ desks and they have to go into a certain system that uses docs or old programming language and then they have another window space program and they have to navigate all of these different things, it’s very hard to do your job and literally make sure that you have months of training to understand where something is.

We all went home and these four individuals I remember being a phone rep and you would have pieces of paper with certain codes and certain facts that you learned that you encountered a lot written on the wall. A lot of knowledge platforms help to bring all of that disparate information together in one place, but that takes some training and some employee support of that type of effort because they like the paper, they like the binders.

I’ve spent 10 years learning where everything is and I know exactly where the answer to that question is, and now you’re going to maximize my “efficiency” by putting it all into a new platform that I now have to learn when I was doing just fine. There’s that to combat and to sell internally, but also in the end, it helps the client or the customer in this case it’s a health plan member to get an answer more consistently.

Should they call in and get a different rep the next time who doesn’t have the same piece of paper or the same binder or as many years’ experience dealing with that issue? The knowledge platform has given everybody a level playing field. It benefits your customer, it makes things easier for that newer representative.

It makes the job quicker, hopefully, for the person who’s managing five different systems and pulling binders down if they can just click on three different tabs. That call will become shorter, it saves the organization money in operations and handling time and the que doesn’t stay as long. You’re not waiting as a member, 15 minutes to get your question answered or maybe [unintelligible 00:34:12] benefits everybody down the chain, the business, the employee, and the member or the client.

Justin: Yes, and that benefit across the value chain there from client, customers, all up and down, that is definitely where when you gain efficiency from adopting automation technology properly, it’s the tertiary and few steps down and a few steps up from where that interaction is happening that the value is really driven.

Wrapping up here before we get to our legendary quick-fire round, to land the plane here, when you think about support automation and technology in AI and CX, and in the customer journey, what do you see as being the next big thing, the next important signpost in the future of CX?

Nicole: I think that as we get more into what people need and what they want, it’s something that we need to be innovative, we need to be open to hearing more customer ideas and cooperating. The customization goes along with automation in a way. I was just reading about a Nike store, it’s a pilot project where you can go in and design your own pair of shoes at the mall. You design your shoes, then you go walk around the mall, and 90 minutes later, your custom one-of-a-kind pair of shoes is ready for you-

Justin: That’s so cool.

Nicole: -which is really cool. Automation helps that because they’re using technology to assist their design in the store. It’s a great customer experience because they’re getting something very personalized and unique. That’s an enjoyable experience the way that they have it set up in a little private booth area in the mall in the store. It’s not a long wait time either, you go home with the shoes that you made. It’s not a two-week process. People like to put their own stamp on things.

That, I think is going to be more so in the B2C space where we see even more self-customization and with tools to automate just to help you design and facilitate better, I see that happening. In the B2B space, a lot of automation is going to be driven by where can we make the process more efficient and the more technology that’s put in place, and less manual processes there are– the more efficient we can get shipments out.

Everybody gets the Amazon question, “Do you want to send this in fewer packages?” Of course, for the environment, I do unless I need it for the birthday party tomorrow. Having that opportunity there but thinking of the large shipments and the rental facility that’s there, is there a way to self-serve in that situation with not only the warehouse but with the shipper and where you’re ordering from and saying, “I had to cancel this space because it was delayed a week, now I have a smaller space so I want to reduce my order.”

How I can do that in real-time without having to talk to somebody who has to talk to three other people and maybe get a message down to the docks. It’s the machine learning part of it to know where the sources are, what’s the size, what can it take? If I have the technology to tell me, “Okay, you can now have a smaller space. You can take this many pieces of products versus the order that you have.”

It’s eliminating the thinking that you don’t need to crunch the numbers yourself, but what I know as the human that’s managing all of this is that I need to have the right amount of products in that space. I can say that’s a lot of dollars for my company by not just waiting another week until I can have a bigger space again so I can get halfway there. Making trade-offs and being flexible is definitely right now involves the fluctuation that we see in the market, something that is going to be critical for customer experience and maintaining a strong customer experience.

Justin: Yes, I really like that answer because on the consumer side, the bespoke– It’s like build a bear for 10 shoes but to be able to have a– Because Nike has had their Nike ID program for a while now, but you go on the website, you wait three weeks, whatever, and they finally ship your shoes, this is a much more immediate thing.

That could be a pretty spectacular experience of like, “Hey, I’ve got this way I wanted to express my identity. I go to the mall. I go to the Nike shop and an hour later, boom, they’re on my feet, and I’m experiencing that.” That is extremely high-value interaction between brand and consumer there. Then on the B2B side, you’re exactly right. We’re going to get better at dealing with– It’s almost like a rising water level in a tank or something. Every few years, we can use technology to solve higher and higher-order issues and the downstream effects of customers in all this are lower prices, better service, et cetera, et cetera, absolutely love it. Wrapping up here with our famous quick-fire round are FAB 5 or I’ve got to figure out a better brand for our final piece of the podcast here, but at this point, the brand is me awkwardly saying there is no brand and maybe that’s what makes it memorable. What’s the

book that you most often recommend to people.

Nicole: Truly I read a lot of books for customer experience work, but they usually come to market a lot later than they can be helpful. What I like to do in more of a research fashion, blogs are something that is a good place to go, because they’re usually about what’s going on right now and in the moment.

I like Customer Think For CX has a lot of good discussions by thought leaders. They’ll write a piece and then other thought leaders in the space are asked to comment on that. I do follow Shep Hyken, and his book, The Convenience Revolution, it has been influential as well in talks about removal of friction.

What I think customer experience boils down to is make things easy for people, make them feel valued, and really if you do your job in a way that respects people, respects their time, you’re going to have a satisfied customer experience. Even when something goes wrong, if you come back to it and say it with empathy and kindness, “I understand where you’re coming from,” no way around that and maybe no way around that but what we can do to mitigate the negative effects are and take that approach, so empathy is highly important.

Justin: It really is and it’s something that I’ve become acutely aware of its presence and absence the last 18 months in my interactions with people. You mentioned, being respectful of time which, as a automation vendor, one of the big value props we always espouse is saving time and whatnot and we have a long-running webinar series that we do, where yours truly speeds through a bunch of productivity hacks so that leads me to my next rapid-fire questions. What’s the best productivity hack slash tip that you’ve ever heard that has stuck with you?

Nicole: The framework that I use is what urgency importance and that matrix. What’s most urgent, what’s most important, and when is the deadline. Really when I’m feeling overwhelmed and what I need to get done, it’s okay, what’s the thing that’s due next? What’s the thing that’s the most important and prioritizing that way. Also figuring out when you have little pockets of time, what you can accomplish on the to-do list, versus when you need a longer period of time.

The automation helps with those little pockets. Can I go read the dashboard right now and get a sense of what’s going on versus, can I sit down and immerse myself in data tables and do analysis. Probably not, but at least I can keep tabs on where things are right now and when I have an hour, then I can dig into it more deeply.

It’s a nice way to use technology in my space and with the way that our clients use technology is to say, “I’m going into a meeting, my boss is going to ask me what are the three key findings that I need to know about right now. We purposely keep a contact with our clients and know when they’re having those meetings, so that we can support them ahead of that and send an email. We don’t even have to get on the phone so it’s here so [crosstalk]

Justin: That’s great.

Nicole: Building in time to the process automation with technology to help support that as well.

Justin: It’s rare that I give a plug for another software company on this show, but I’m going to do it right now. There’s a little app you can get called Clockwise. I’m pretty sure it’s on the Google Calendar, they might have Microsoft Outlook 365 whatever they call it but we use Google here at capacity. What Clockwise does is if two people–

It basically looks at your calendar and tries to move your meetings if it can to another spot so that you can maximize the amount of time in between meetings on your calendar, which is great because a lot of times I’ll end up with sure you as well, you end up with a day where you have a half-hour meeting, let’s say then you have 15 minutes in another meeting, then you have 30 minutes in another meeting.

It’s like if that 30 minutes was an hour or 2 hours, I would get so much more done today. Shout out to our friends at Clockwise. Wrapping us up here, if there’s one person in the world of customer experience that you could meet for a coffee or a cocktail, depending on the time of day and whatnot, who would it be?

Nicole: I would like to sit down with Jim Bliss. I’d come in into customer experience from traditional tracking and work in that nature and seeing what the broad landscape really is and beyond the one Voice of the Customer bubble beyond what the software provides us, making that whole package. I think as she said, one of the pioneers in creating the experience piece of customer experience, I’d love to sit down with her and pick her brain.

Justin: Love it. Well, Nicole, thank you so much for joining me in this conversation today. I think we’ve learned a lot about what really goes into practicing good customer experience. While we’ve had a lot of people on this show, and the customer support and employee support realms, we haven’t really discussed customer experience as much as those other disciplines so it’s been awesome having you. Lots of great insights. For our listeners out there, where can they find you and where can they find out more information about an engine?

Nicole: Absolutely. Thank you, Justin. I’ve had a great time chatting with you today. ENGINE is on the web, LinkedIn, Nicole Garberg by profile, easily found there but you can give us some backup, too. I think the best way to find us is.Justin: There you have it and there you are. Thank you so much for the conversation, and I will see you guys around. The support automation show is brought to you by capacity. Visit to find everything you need for automating support and business processes in one powerful platform. You can find the show by searching for support automation in your favorite podcast app. Please subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. On behalf of the team here at capacity, thanks for listening.