Customer Experience

The Symphony of Seamless Customer Journeys: CEO Chip Kahn Joins Science of CX Podcast

Q&A with OvationCXM Founder Alfred Kahn on Science of CX Podcast 

Our founder and CEO, Alfred (Chip) Kahn, sat down for a conversation on the Science of CX podcast with host Stephen Pappas. They discussed how OvationCXM was founded to solve challenges inherent in orchestrating multi-product, multi-organizational customer journeys across complex ecosystems.

Customer journeys are often a tangled maze of disconnected touchpoints across siloed platforms and separate functional departments. To customers, these disjointed experiences can feel like they are dealing with many different companies as they move through different departments and partners that deliver CX in a sales, onboarding or servicing/support journey. That breeds friction, frustration, and in the worst case, customer churn.

OvationCXM recognized this challenge from its origin as a product support company that offers remote and field service support to B2B companies. In the podcast, Science of CX with Stephen Pappas, Alfred (Chip) Kahn, CEO and founder of OvationCXM, described the impetus for launching its CX management platform, CXMEngine. Learn how it is being leveraged to solve visibility, collaboration and communication obstacles that naturally occur in the complex ecosystems used to deliver today’s personalized products and services.

Science of CX Podcast Discussion

Stephen Pappas: Explain the genesis of the idea [for OvationCXM] and how that is gaining traction in the market as quickly as we're seeing.

Chip Kahn: SaaS was taking off in small business from the client-side, applications. Small businesses were supported by a community of value-added resellers who answered questions like:

  • “How do I decide what to buy?”
  • "How do I get boarded and start using it?"
  • "How do I get help when I have a challenge?"

Most of the small businesses didn't activate the product. There was some challenge that was leading to attrition somewhere between them raising their hand that they needed the product and going live and using the product. For companies, that's the worst case situation because you  incur the cost of the sale but never get the revenue. That was the problem space: a small business in the onboarding/activation journey was screaming, "there's a problem here."

Our go-to market motion was really around partnering with companies that were selling small business products like the Squares and Intuits of the world. Because multiple companies serve a common customer, things get very complicated, and there are disjointed customer journeys. Generally, the customer experience stinks because there are a lot of uncoordinated handoffs.

We were assisting companies through a combination of both software we were building plus services, and we saw these challenges. We were a third-party so we helped them with the activation process, on site and remotely. We were building the software to do this. But we found we didn't have very good visibility into the partner company or where the right steps were for us to step in. The customer wasn't being communicated with effectively. There was very little collaboration between us and the company - call it the ecosystem - serving that business. There was a lack of visibility, lack of collaboration and lack of communication, and we were one of the parties causing that problem.

We continued to build out our SaaS platform to solve this problem where multiple companies serve a common customer. That's where things get very complicated, and there are disjointed customer journeys. Generally, the customer experience stinks because there are a lot of uncoordinated handoffs, whether they are branded the same or not. There are usually a lot of hands in the mix and that leads to challenges.

Stephen Pappas: How did you think through how to solve these problems efficiently and give more visibility to gaps in the process? And what was the first type of customer that made sense for you?

Chip Kahn: We focused on the payment companies that deliver both e-commerce, but more importantly, in-person payment acceptance. In those cases, there is hardware, networks and security to worry about. IT distributors are shipping the hardware, the software is the point-of-sale company, and there are just a lot of moving pieces.

This took us on a journey to focus broadly on products that have an ecosystem involved to solve the question of visibility. Most enterprise have silos but the challenge is bigger, particularly in financial services. Most of them have a number of companies serving a common customer. For example, you sold me an e-commerce product, and I didn't get my $20,000 settlement last night. Where is it?

You as my business banker would have no idea. So you would contact the product group within the bank, who would have no idea because it's actually a third-party like Fiserv or Jack Henry or someone else doing that. They would have no idea and they find out someone somewhere opened a case. And they have to follow that analog process back in an email thread that has 15 emails so you can tell me you are working on it. Imagine that for all of the business products at the bank. That problem times 15 or 20. As a customer, that can create a very bad taste in your mouth. It makes them question who they are dealing with because they are receiving different experiences based on the product the bank is offering.

OvationCXM provides that unified experience, by bringing that data back  in real-time so they do have a view of customer health. Once we've brought that data back, we can set up some business rules and automations so if we see something happening with the customer at any of the other parties in the journey, we can let you know.

Potentially, we can also let the customer know, follow up on SLA, track the problem and use artificial intelligence (AI) to determine if it’s a pattern that's happening across many customers so we can identify and repair a place in the journey that's broken.

Stephen Pappas: How do you solve for siloed information, let alone silos of multiple companies and third parties? How do you make it so they want to engage and contribute to make the whole process better?

Chip Kahn: First, you have to commit to a customer-first view versus processes that are operationally efficient for you as a business but don’t reflect a great experience for a customer. A lot of enterprises find themselves optimizing for themselves, not their customer.

That does take a psychological shift, but if you make it, the business outcomes are incredible. It isn't just technology; it's also process changes.

Start with analytics on what your experience looks like today. What's happening for this product with this specific journey and with this customer segment? We have connectors prebuilt, so it doesn't require any development - just data mapping. We can pull that data from the systems of record they use. From this data, we can show our customers what is happening, which is surprising, and that creates the will to begin repairing.

One example is an OvationCXM customer whose end client was receiving 15 emails; none of them mentioned the organization that sold them the product. They had nearly 50% attrition because it was too confusing and cumbersome for the customer to even bother.

Stephen Pappas: Every executive every year is being asked to do more with less, to squeeze more out of the process. They're asked to make things more efficient. Prior to that, inefficiencies were part of the price. They were just built into the pricing model, and they would say, ‘Well, we account for that in what we charge and what our profit model is.’ But, because of the squeeze that happens on a yearly basis, every year you have to squeeze out more, so you have to turn to technology.

OvationCXM is doing a phenomenal job of not only mapping but orchestrating the multiple journeys that are happening. What are the touch points they are going through? What are the expected outcomes? What are they supposed to do? What do they actually do? Then let's report on the differential so we can make something better.

At the end of the day, OvationCXM is helping executives become hyper-efficient, employees to become hyper-productive and enhancing the overall customer experience, which back flows into a better employee experience.

Companies out there that are listening… if you can't put your fingertips on information in less than a minute... or less than 30 seconds, you have a problem ahead of you because that gets worse and worse. I remember a study done by Blue Cross. Every contact center call, over two minutes of the call was just searching for information. Just wipe that out and you've saved not only time but...

I remember JP Morgan telling me one second of handle time in a contact center was worth half a million dollars. One second savings. Save a minute. Save two minutes and just imagine the savings on all the downstream problems and the frustrations of people in contact center positions who are saying,’ Hey, I can't do this anymore.’ It all stems from not having the tools and infrastructure so they can serve better.

Steve Pappas: So, give us the broad strokes of all of the things you do for your clients and how you get them up and running. What does that look like?

Chip Kahn: I like your point on the pricing and how that dynamic shifts. You described it perfectly as journey orchestration.

It's a no-code, low-code drag-and-drop. Now Imagine that example I gave before of those 15 emails going out. We turn that into one email that is like an Instacart-like experience for the bank.

  • Here's where I am.
  • Here's who I talked to.
  • Here's when they said they are going to do it.
  • Here's when I need to fill out this form, and here is the process.
  • Here's how long I should expect it to take.

You can’t set expectations correctly with customers if you don't understand your process or the process that's been imposed on you by third parties that you work with. That part is pre-built. We have connectors that pull the data. So think of this as an overlay, not a replacement.

We've also been applying machine learning for four or five years, around what we call knowledge delivery. If you understand the journey, customer intent using natural language processing tools and the journey, product and intent, you can deliver information to the right person at the right time in context instead of trying to fetch that knowledge from SharePoint or something in the enterprise that takes forever. Instead we push it to you. In bite size, email composed by Gen AI for you. Using AI, we can summarize what went wrong in the journey and give that information to executives in near real-time.

Delivering that information can really help team members deliver better. No one can be an expert across all of the products. Instead use our platform, and it will tell you all you need to know about any given product. To your point, it’s shaving a second to a minute to multiple minutes off the servicing journey. In the activation journey, it can take days or weeks off and cut attrition by 20 to 25 percent.

Stephen Pappas: I like the fact that it's an overlay, which means it's not a start-from-scratch process. It gives you feedback on the process changes that have to happen and the reengineering of the process. You can also standardize your process to make it easier, better, scalable and sustainable. Can it also highlight who is doing it better so I can point to that and start making that my standard?

Chip Kahn: I think that's a great use case, not just internally but in how other groups are using that same product and how you compare to how they are doing it without revealing sensitive information. You can certainly find out how you can improve, and that's good for everyone.

Steve Pappas: If all of the departments under a service line report up to the COO, the COO can see where they have improvements. CX is never done. It can always improve and get better and more efficient. Giving the view of where to start prioritizing, what's having more impact, what causes customers to churn, to back up and work on that to prevent churn and expand with those organizations or customers. Going down that path, it really makes sense.

I understand [the platform] is module-based. Companies don’t have to buy the whole thing all at once. They can turn on features as they go, so they can build the plane as they go. They don't have to start with the whole thing before it starts giving value.

Chip Kahn: Yes, we're very focused on time to value, and our platform is modular as you described. That's why the implementation can be done in under 30 days. We can start with a bread box and then add the whole kitchen as it makes sense and they see what they need to do to deliver exceptional and ideal customer journeys.

Stephen Pappas: Are there other industries that are starting to say, 'Hey, this could help me too'?

Chip Kahn: Today we're focused on business banking, commercial banking, credit unions, community banks…places where there are a lot of third-party products. That also applies to wealth management, capital markets and insurance. We're also seeing activity and opportunities in health tech. We also have customers that are fairly large brands people have heard of that are outside of financial services.

Stephen Pappas: If there a question for companies that are looking for a journey orchestration platform that would highlight whether your platform is something to look at?

Chip Kahn: Pick a stage in a life cycle, pick a product and put your hat on as a customer. Walk through their journey. I think you'll probably find it's not as streamlined from the customer's perspective as you think it is. That doesn't mean you have to change your operational processes. A journey orchestration engine can meld a better experience for the customer with your existing operations.

If you are willing to put the customer hat on, you're going to find there are ways to do it better from the customer experience. From the front of the house and, inevitably, that leads to the back of the house and asking if you have the technology to facilitate that.

Stephen Pappas: That's a great exercise. I give this [platform] my very cool CXM stamp. I think it's worth people looking at. If they're looking for a customer journey orchestration platform or they have to get better in touch with the multiple touch points of their organization so they can streamline and make it more efficient, they should give OvationCXM a call.