Virtual Roundtable: The Future of CX

CX is crucial to the financial service industry, as you are working with personally identifiable information, and most importantly: your customers trust. The customer journey needs to reflect the serious nature of the work, while making product information accessible to the customer.

Hear from change agents who are paving the way towards positive customer experiences in financial services, as we navigate CX post-lockdown.

Snippet of Virtual Roundtable Transcript

 

Jay Po:

CX is really focused on the evolving customer, especially in 2020, with COVID, with remote work, with different buying journeys, with different needs. I think the core first question we’re talking about is the customer. 

 

Jay Po:

For all of our panelists, how has the customer changed in 2020 during a pandemic, and what are some observations that stand out to you?

 

Jay Po:

We’ll first start with Clare.

 

Clare:

I think the biggest thing in the credit card industry is, for us, spend has changed dramatically. We would focus a lot of our rewards around travel and entertainment and, suddenly, no one’s spending there anymore. We’ve had to think a lot about how do we adjust to meet customers’ needs for new spend on collaboration tools, on work-from-home setups, how do we sort of change our product to better suit a very, very different working world.

 

Jay Po:

Great. Kristen, what about you? What have you seen in 2020 that’s led you to adjust and observe the different customer behaviors?

 

Kristen Stewart:

Yeah, definitely, I think a few things come to mind. Number one being collaboration. I think with the engagements today and when a prospect signs up to leverage Plaid and officially starts their implementation, they come to the table with a lot more collaboration and utilizing the settings that we do have, those virtual meetings, keeping in mind that time is, I feel like, a value right now and somewhat limited, just given the virtual nature of everything. They come to the table, and they utilize those meetings a lot more collaboratively. You see a lot more discussion-based conversations that are starting to take place in those forums, given that may perhaps be the first time that those corresponding team members are syncing for the first time that week. I think that as a result of not having the in-office drive-bys, and the water cooler, and the lunchroom conversations, customers, I think, are really taking advantage of the meeting times that we do have set up to just be a lot more collaborative and use those meetings to their full capability.

 

Kristen Stewart:

Another area or, I guess, observation that I think stands out is just a refinement of focus, if you will. I think customers who do come to the table start with a much more laser-focused, I guess, lens on the project or the initiative at hand. They focus on that and then they get going with that. With respect to implementation, when they sign up to use Plaid, they start their engagement and they’re ready to get integrated and to launch. I think customers are definitely coming to the table more engaged and focusing on the project at hand, and really working to kind of move that needle and get those projects across the finish line.

 

Jay Po:

Awesome. Ocrolus, how has it been happening for you, Nicole? What have you been seeing?

 

Nicole Newlin:

I can echo Kristen’s comments around sort of the focus. I would say the focus is becoming clearer. It’s been rough. 2020 has not been an easy year. I think everyone was caught off guard. A large group of our client base, as folks know, is the lending and the small business world. Our solutions team is used to really having a very tight, long experience with our clients, all the way through from when they first hear about Ocrolus and start to want to buy the product, all the way through to implementation. When the pandemic hit, things slowed down. Our people just sort of didn’t know what to do. Account management team really spent a lot of time on the phone. I think they could probably earn credits for therapy sessions for some of our lenders. But to Kristen’s point, I feel like, now, we’re starting to see that, “Okay, we’re back to business. We’re gearing up, and we’re ready to really move forward.”

 

Nicole Newlin:

I think for us, in particular, we’ve noticed with clients that our basic analytics have been ramped up and doubled. We realized that with COVID and PPP, and a lot of the fast turnaround that we did with documentation, it also ushered in a whole new look at doc classification and extraction, looking at analytics for who took PP loan, and what are the geographical trends that we’re watching. Customers are looking for that. Credit decisions now are much more stringent. We’re noticing KYC and KYB are big, big things that are important, which is causing us to develop more partnerships.

 

Nicole Newlin:

I would agree that the clients are waking up. What I’m finding, which is really fun, is, with Ocrolus moving into more verticals such as mortgage and even looking at auto loan, you start to see more capabilities that you’re offering in one vertical that actually can dovetail in back to small business. You can actually come to them now with offerings of upsell or opportunity to maybe consider beyond a bank statement and a pay stub, but a way to really help them make sound credit decisions and get them back to the table. It’s definitely improving, but 2020 is rough.

 

Jay Po:

Totally. I just actually want to echo that. We’ve seen a lot of companies where CX, teams that are focused on the customer are learning so rapidly because you’re the frontline not only defense but you’re a little bit of offense too because you’re seeing what the customers need, you’re hearing the messages. Product oftentimes might be somewhat removed from the core customer, but CX is all about knowing the buyer journey, seeing what the hurdles are. Maybe it’s a product fixture. As Nicole said, as Ocrolus expands other markets, you can start to fine tune what are the demands that might be new this month relative to two months ago and, especially with 2020, things that happened in Q1 are very different from now. And so you can kind of fine tune what new products do you want to offer and maybe there are market that you weren’t even considering that you’re now saying, “Hey, let’s wake up, and let’s open this up.” That’s why I think we’re so bullish on customer success, CX in general.

 

Jay Po:

Thank you for all three for those comments.

 

Jay Po:

We’ve kind of started this discussion looking at the customer and how the customer has change because we were all focused around what are the needs there. But another big evolution that’s happened is the team itself, so our own teams, how has that changed over the course of going remote, et cetera. 

 

Jay Po:

The next question want to dig into are what are some of the key observations that that each of you, the panelists, have seen related to your teams at your companies?

 

Jay Po:

We’ll start with Clare here.

 

Clare:

With COVID, Brex has made a ton of work-from-home changes. I think, first and foremost is we decided to go remote first as a company forever, which is a huge change and decided on that a couple months ago. What that sort of done for us is not only has that created a lot of freedom for our employee base to be where they need to be during COVID and not worry about when they’ll have to go back to the office, but it’s also enabled us to be more thoughtful about where we can hire, who we can hire much, broader scope on who we can bring into Brex. And then we actually work quite well remotely, which has been great news. Team’s been super productive. But with that, I think you always that people’s preference will vary, so we still will have offices but the flexibility it’s providing is awesome and has been really, really well received.

 

Clare:

Another thing is that our team hasn’t really grown. Even though our customer base has grown, the size of our operations has remained relatively constant. With that, we’ve had to be super thoughtful about what work is being done manually that we can automate with. That’s why we brought in Ocrolus for our cash ops team, and then also can we create better communications with our customers, automate how we’re reaching out to them instead of doing these things manually, and being much more thoughtful about how our team, which is relatively small and lean, is being used. We’re really focusing on where you need a human versus spending time on things that could be automated.

 

Jay Po:

Great. Nicole?

 

Nicole Newlin:

For our team, the work-from-home is going pretty well. We are a pretty tight-knit group at Ocrolus. I think the culture there lended itself to really kind of pivot into work-from-home nicely. We all wish we were together, but we very quickly figured out how to make things keep working.

 

Nicole Newlin:

What’s been interesting for me to watch, and I guess it dovetails from the product conversation we’ve had, is just the hiring across the board. We’re ramping up and hiring more in product and engineering to meet these new verticals and these new demands. We are hiring on my team. I’m adding sales engineers, implementation folks because some of these verticals that we’re going into just are a different kind of client. Some of them maybe are not as tech forward, and there’s more handholding. Maybe there’s a little bit more conversation around the technicalities of what an integration with Ocrolus looks like, what is an API, that kind of thing.

 

Nicole Newlin:

On top of that, where we’re expanding our support team. We’re excited that we’re adding two folks from India which is exciting for us because we already have a presence in India, as many people know, but now being able to add to the team expanding into India, it’s changing up our support model but also the flexibility now with the work-from-home of it being a lot simpler to kind of hire for roles all over. Now, when I get resumes and I look at them for a sales engineer or whomever, it’s great to notice like, “Oh, this person’s in Charlotte,” and that’s not a blocker because we’ve come up with a way to work really well together.

 

Nicole Newlin:

Some of the things that have been a little bit more challenging, obviously, have been around client onboarding. We’ve had to kind of make some changes here and there internally because it used to be so easy to just lean back in your chair and ask our director of implementation a question or ask a sales engineer. Now, we have to be a little bit more streamlined as far as that goes.

 

Nicole Newlin:

I think from an account management perspective, there’s a lot more focus on outreach to clients. I think client support and account management have really built a really stupendous way of handling clients with need-to-know answers now versus kind of, “Interesting. Let’s talk more about that. Let’s dig into that use case a little bit more.” I think the client feels like, even though we’re working from home, they’re still getting that same level of support, and just the experience that we want them to have. But I’m not going to lie, I look forward to one day all being back in the office.

 

Jay Po:

Awesome. And then Kristen, how about from the implementation side?

 

Kristen Stewart:

I think Nicole’s last point really resonates. Definitely a relief in terms of just knowing that we’re now six-plus months into being in an implementation type role where we’re the first line of defense. Jay, I guess, you kind of stated where we’re making that first kind of introduction to our team itself and Plaid as a company. So little bit of a sigh of relief in terms of just knowing that we’ve been able to be successful and still lead customers successfully through their implementation phase to a successful launch of their product or application.

 

Kristen Stewart:

I think in terms of the team internally, a few things that come to mind are, number one, work management and the level and type of customer support that we now have to bring to the table to ensure success. So work management with respect to just being mindful that I think, in this day and age, customers need more. They’re expecting. They have more questions since we’re not able to kind of do those in person forums anymore. They have more questions. They reach out by email. They’re asking for kind of ad hoc 15-minute meeting blocks where they can just get on the phone with you live to talk through something versus taking 30 minutes to draft out a lengthy email. So I think the team has definitely buffed up their expectations in terms of how much of an LOE we have to kind of insert into these customer engagements to ensure success. We’ve been successful, I think, today with the customers that we’re still 

servicing and implementation to ensure kind of that successful cross across the finish line.

 

Kristen Stewart:

The other thing that I think that plays into that is project management. I know that might not always be kind of top-of-mind for people but, for implementation, like those little things in terms of project management, I have found to make all the difference, so following up with notes, in advance of a meeting, sending your meeting agenda and topics you want to cover, action items that you’re expecting your counterparts at the customer to provide updates on. All of that framing that I think goes alongside project management has really helped, if you will. It’s allowed us to kind of keep accountability with our customers and, in return, then to kind of keep accountability for what we need to bring to the table to ensure success. Like the summaries and things like that, it just provides a lot of clarity to the customer, and it just allows them to have a summary view, very easy to kind of access information around the project, and just make it easier to kind of have that snapshot, if you will, as it relates to the implementation and how it’s progressing, and things like that.

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