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RESOLVE ’22: Customer experience in action

RESOLVE ’22: Customer experience in action

RESOLVE ’22: Customer experience in action

Companies go to extreme lengths to provide their customers the best possible experience—and every company’s concept of what makes a good experience is different. In our RESOLVE ’22 panel Customer experience in action we sat down with Director of Strategic Initiatives Sridevi Matukumalli and Akamai Senior Director Harish Menon to talk about this notion.

“What I love about the group on the stage is, they come from different brands and serve very different functions,” event moderator Dinesh Coca, Vice President of Product Growth at BigPanda said. He asked each panelist what their areas of ownership were in their respective companies and how each company defined the experience.

Defining success at Akamai and

“With us, the journey begins and ends with the delivery of content to customers, in a secure way, over the internet,” Harish said. The model sounds simple enough at first, but “as with most simple ideas,” Harish said, “the complexity adds breadth and depth quickly.”

Harish used a hypothetical major sporting event as an example. “Our client wants us to deliver it flawlessly to millions of users over, let’s say, North America. But the complexities arise when we start to see a value chain all the way from the stadium to the bites and streams” needed to push that content to end users at the last mile.

The ace in Akamai’s hole is that for their customers, quality is the primary success indicator, “be it quality of experience or delivery,” Harish notes. And because “end-users are not worried about the threshold for a certain [key performance indicator] KPI for network error,” finding solutions becomes easier.

“We’re changing the frame of reference from inbuilt KPIs and metrics within the team to customer-focused ones: [objectives and key results] OKRs that literally say you win if 100% of users are able to watch the next big sporting event without an issue,” he said.

Sridevi said her team at faced no less pressure in providing a pristine experience to users, but in a different format. Instead of providing a picture-perfect football or basketball stream to millions, her team must work one-to-one with individual customers.

The nuances of providing localization in a number of countries, to a number of businesses, is “never one and done,” she said. Instead, she compared building a great experience to an endless game of Jenga. “You’ve got all these blocks stacking up. You’re stacking and then one bad experience is enough… that block you pulled out wrong is enough to crash the whole thing down.”

It adds an element of pressure to the role and a need to connect with customers on an emotional level—on top of providing top-notch localization service—Sridevi observed.

What metrics and OKRs help drive a good experience?

A bit later, Danesh asked what metrics both panelists’ teams evaluated “in terms of performance and impact” on customer experience.

“One of our primary KPIs or OKRs is intelligent, proactive monitoring,” Harish said. The idea, which initially came about during a design meeting, is simple. “We should identify and mitigate an issue with our customers’ content over our network before they realize that issue is happening.” While admitting the goal was “quite aspirational,” Harish said the team was already “way further ahead on that journey than [he] thought they would be.”

Following that, Harish said his team truly felt pressure when minor issues echoed into large ones with lots of upset users.

“It fans out and spreads itself into so many different things,” he said. For example, a cut cable in one region could ultimately result in complications that affect users in a much broader area. He said his team used a number of predictive and proactive steps to try to mitigate the effects of these “fanning” issues before they got that far, leading back to the idea of Akamai’s “aspirational” goals.

Sridevi agreed with Harish’s take, adding that “anticipation is the best form of customer experience.”

Likewise, at, “metrics are very, very defined by what the client thinks they want to achieve,” she said—an outlook similar to the quality-above-all mindset at Akamai.

“You’ve got to figure out their pain and highlight it as you resolve it for them,” she said of her team’s approach.

On the topic of customer delight

If a good experience is the desired outcome, a delighted customer is the biggest win. And as with their other answers, each panelist’s approach brought new concepts for readers to think about.

“Customers are much more appreciative than you would think if you tell them there’s actually an issue that’s happening because of you, and what you’re doing to solve it,” Harish said. “The more we build that behavior and pattern,” the more trust Akamai is able to generate with its customers and their users.

Sridevi, meanwhile, called to a client-relations tactic as old as business itself: “Make them feel important,” and you gratify them by default.

“I always find the most trivial things you do for them—which you think are trivial—are what end up delivering the delight factor,” she continued. But, she noted, “you can do these things to make them feel extremely important.”

Sridevi recalled one time when she took 15-20 minutes to help a customer with a “why don’t you Google it” situation. By simply talking to the customer on the phone and helping them with a peripherally related technology issue—something to do with documents the client needed—she created relief to the point the customer sent her “a long email” in thanks.

“Delighting is going the extra mile,” she said. “If it’s unreasonable, I get it. But that’s not the case as often as you’d think.”

What does customer experience in action look like?

Sridevi, Harish, and moderator Danesh had a lot more to say at Customer experience in action. To view the full video and the rest of our lineup, we invite readers to click the following link.