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Redesigning from Start to Finish

Release Date: April 2, 2024 • Episode #310

Just like any other business process, customer experience programs can sometimes get a little stale or outdated. As CX leaders, it’s our responsibility to pay attention to the customers’ needs and expectations, and adjust accordingly. But sometimes it’s best to take a step back and look at the entire customer journey and, if needed, redesign the journey from start to finish. Host Pat Gibbons welcomes Jaya Sudarshan, a customer experience manager for HP, the global technology company, for a discussion on building a differentiated experience from start to finish.

Jaya Sudarshan

Jayalakshmi Sudarshan
Connect with Jayalakshmi


Don’t make assumptions

“We did identify some customers who actually already had a support experience with us. We did empathy interviews to understand, you know, what worked for them, a little bit more in depth in terms of what is an expectation, right, in terms of, ‘hey, when you come to us, are you looking at speed of resolution? Do you want us to get you up and running in the first go? Right, like, I don’t want you to visit me multiple times, right? I just want it to be one time and then up and running.’ Or is it, you know, how well we keep you informed. So we didn’t want to make assumptions in terms of what is important for our customers from a support perspective.”

Think of all the humans involved

“We also did a lot of internal interviews with people who are on the ground who are delivering the support because they are the people who face our customers. And there’s a lot of wealth in terms of understanding how the customers perceive… what are the feedback that they get during the actual act of or process of repair? I remember somebody told us, when you think of a human centered design or when you’re planning something that is, what we call human centered, right? You should think of all the humans that are involved. So sometimes we think we pay a lot of attention to what the customer wants, but we also wanted to, in this project, think about our support delivery or technicians who go and fix the product.”


Have you ever had a situation in your life where you thought the only way to fix this is to just start over, you know, from scratch? Well, turns out that sometimes that can happen in customer experience.
But we also did a lot of understanding and analysis of the data that we had, both operational and VOC data. And what is our operational data indicating in terms of how they’re experiencing the entire support journey. And this kind of like formed the basis of really trying to look at how do we differentiate it.
Let’s talk about building a differentiated experience from start to finish on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.
The CX Leader Podcast is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at walkerinfo.com.
Hello everyone. I’m Pat Gibbons, host of this episode of The CX Leader Podcast. And as always, thank you for listening. It’s never been a better time to be a CX leader, and we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you develop great programs and deliver amazing experiences for your customers. Just like any other business process, customer experience programs can sometimes get a little stale or outdated. As CX leaders, it’s our responsibility to pay attention to customer needs and expectations and adjust accordingly. But sometimes it’s best to just take a step back and look at the entire customer journey and if needed, redesign the journey from start to finish. And that’s exactly what our guest helped to facilitate at her company. Jaya Sudarshan is a customer experience manager for HP, a global technology company. Jaya, thank you for being on The CX Leader Podcast.
Thank you for having me, Pat.
Well. We’re excited. I mean, this is a fascinating topic, and I think you’ve had an interesting opportunity to really get involved in something and see the experience change. I mean, so many of us are involved in one piece of customer experience, whether it’s collecting feedback or analyzing data or whatever. And I know you’ve done that, but, you know, this is kind of a different one that I think our listeners will enjoy hearing about. So first, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in CX.
Right. I have been with HP, HPE and back at HP now for over 20 years and I’ve been a customer experience professional for about, you know, close to 15 years. And, um, you know, uh, done different things from CX analytics to, you know, VOC management. Uh, and currently I am the customer experience manager with the customer support team, uh, within HP and I support the Greater Asia and India markets. Uh, and yeah, and that’s how I look at every day. What are the kind of, uh, support experiences and journeys that our customers, you know, are going through and look at how do we really elevate that experience, right. And ensure that we providing them the best, you know, there is to offer in terms of, uh, how that journey works for them?
Yeah. And I know we have a number of listeners that are members of the CXPA. You happen to be on the the board, correct?
Yes, I am part of the CXPA’s board of directors. I’m part of the executive committee this year as well. So I am the treasurer for CXPA’s board for 2024.
Yeah, well, we appreciate you, uh, helping out that, uh, you know, the industry association is such an important part of our profession. So I always like to acknowledge anybody that is involved in any way in the CXPA.
Absolutely. A lot of what I have learned and, you know, achieved over, you know, my career as a CX professional as well. CXPA had a major contribution in that. So, you know, thank you for acknowledging that. And, you know, big shout out to everybody who I call my tribe, who are part of the CXPA and listening to this podcast.
Absolutely, absolutely. Well, you know, getting to this episode, it sounds like last year you decided to kind of take on and design a new experience or really, um, update an experience with HP. As I understand it, it was in the gaming market, which I don’t know a ton about, but I know it’s a big deal. I know it’s an interesting demographic with interesting people that are probably pretty particular about what they, uh, how they are using their hardware. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about kind of that, that market. But then how did you approach this issue and when did you decide, hey, we need to make some changes.
Sure. So yes, gaming is a big deal across the globe, and even in India, it is estimated to be about a market that is at the size of $7.5 billion…
…right, in the next four years. Uh, and if you really look at it, it’s currently, uh, estimated to be about $3 billion, which means it’s just going to more than double over the next couple of years. So, uh, it is a very unique market. And like you said, uh, the kind of customer personas that we look at that we serve are very unique or very defined. Right. And their expectations. Uh, are they very well known? What is it that they’re expecting right from, from maybe the hardware or the support that they expect? Um, so, um, this was a nice opportunity for us because every time somebody picks a PC, uh, or any electronics for that fact, I think how they get supported is a key factor that they consider while making that decision. Right. Uh, a lot of people might never reach a customer support, hopefully, uh, because, you know, their products work well, but in the unfortunate event that they do, uh, if you really design that moment of truth, well, it can be an opportunity for you to really convert that bad experience that they’re having with their downtime into something that would that can convert them into a customer for life. Right. So this is a big opportunity for us to look at how do we create those experiences that really, you know, keep our customers with us. So given all this background in terms of how important gaming was and how important the opportunity to, you know, create those memorable experiences were, uh. We started off with looking at, hey, there is, uh, this is a very unique market or unique set of customers. We cannot serve them in the same way that we serve everybody else. Right? So first, uh, we need to really understand what customers are, right? So then we did a lot of primary and secondary research. So a lot of competitive benchmarking and mystery shopping exercises to really understand what is the current customer journey or what does it look like today. Right.
Uh, and that is something that we did outside, you know, in, in the market. But we also did a lot of, uh, uh, understanding and analysis of the data that we had both operational and VOC data to understand, you know, what are the customers talking in terms of their experience and what is our operational data indicating in terms of how their experience, how they’re experiencing the entire support journey from the time they call us for support, all the way to getting them back up and running. Right. And this kind of like formed the basis of really trying to look at how do we differentiate it. Right. Because we do charge most most of our gaming products are priced higher because, uh, the performances are higher. So for somebody who pays more, should we be providing support that is a little more…
…uh, than, you know, what we provide everyone else. Right. So, uh, those are some of the thought processes that, you know, got us, uh, to initiate, uh, this particular project to think about. Okay, how do we really, uh, differentiate and elevate that experience, especially from a support perspective?
Right. So lots of different inputs for, you know, really understanding the customer and that demographic. How did you put all that together and what feedback led you to “we need to make some changes,” because you obviously could have gotten to a point where it’s like, hey, everybody’s happy, they’re fine. Let’s just keep doing what we’re doing. That wasn’t the outcome, right?
That’s right. So we actually took we did a couple of things right. We did a uh, we did identify some customers who actually already had a support experience with us. We did empathy interviews to understand, you know, what worked for them, uh, a little bit more in depth in terms of what is an expectation, right, in terms of, hey, when you come to us, are you looking at speed of resolution? Do you want us to get you up and running in the first go? Right, like, I don’t want you to visit me multiple times, right? I just want it to be one time and then up and running. Uh, or is it, you know how well we keep you informed. So we didn’t want to make assumptions in terms of what is important for our customers from a support perspective. Uh, so we did a lot of that. We also did a lot of, uh, internal interviews with people who are on the ground who are delivering the support because they are the people who face our customers. And there’s a lot of wealth in terms of, um, you know, understanding how the customers, uh, perceive or how they, uh, what are the feedback that they get during the actual act of or process of repair? So and also, uh, I remember somebody told us, right, when you think of a human centered design or when you’re planning something that is, uh, what we call human centered, right? You should think of all the humans that are involved. Right? So sometimes, uh, we think we pay a lot of attention to what the customer wants, but we also wanted to, in this project, think about, uh, our, uh, support delivery or technicians who go and fix the product. Right. Because in India, for gaming, our support model was what we call on site, where we go and, uh, go to the customer’s, you know, house or place…
…to get the PC back up and running. So it was important for us to really understand what are the experiences that, you know, our technicians or a field engineers were having as well? There were a few very interesting things, people, things that you would not pay too much attention to, right? For example…
…technicians would tell us, hey, when we go, uh, to fix a PC, we most often because of, uh, availability of space in, you know, Indian households, we might not be provided with a flat surface or a desk where we can actually do the repair. Right. And the somebody who’s handling a PC that is, you know, uh, which is very delicate and needs to, you know, be handled in a particular way. Uh, that would be very a challenge, right? To…
Right. Sure.
…not have that surface and the right thing to do it. So that was from our technicians. At the same time, we also heard from our customers that, uh, the customers love their PCs, right? They put a lot of, uh, you know, uh, effort in picking the right one. They put, uh, and they and even I mean, they just want to make sure that it’s in the most pristine condition. Right? And actually watching somebody, uh, you know, pulling that system apart to fix something was making them extremely anxious. Right.
And they were not happy with that…
Yeah. You’re messing with my baby.
Absolutely right. And, you know, when we did trainings, uh, we used to we used to compare this to like actually, uh, a doctor doing like in the operation theater. Right. Because and that’s kind of like how some perceive they’re extremely anxious in terms of, uh, how are you going to handle it? And the more they see it, uh, and given that there’s probably no space to do it the right way, you can imagine that there are there are there’s a very anxious customer. There’s a very anxious technician. Right. And, uh, and then your your experience is started off not where you wanted to start off at…
Right? Yeah.
…all right. so these are some of the small things which appeared small. But we felt like these are things that we can really address to create an experience that is much more, uh, memorable and easy for both, for both parties. Yeah.
Yeah, yeah. So, uh, well, first of all, I have to say I love the idea of getting the internal feedback. You know, so much of of our work in customer experience is we want to get insights from our customers. And I think too often we overlook the people internally in the contact center, the technicians in the field, because they know what’s going on. They know the questions they get, they know the reactions from customers. So I think first of all, I think that’s just a something that is too often, often overlooked. Um, but then, you know, once you started putting all this together, was there a way that you kind of analyzed all this to be able to say, okay, this is leading us to some changes to be made?
Absolutely right. And this is when, you know, as a as a customer experience professional, I believe there are so many different hats and so many different, uh, you know, things that you start using. Uh, for example, firstly, we developed, uh, you know, what, uh, customer persona. What do we know about the customer? What are their expectations? How are they experiencing, you know, this whole support journey today, right. And, uh, then we looked at how do we, um, we put on our design thinking hats. Right. So how do we, uh, look at, okay, for this particular kind of, you know, expectation? What is the best way to deliver this? Right. And, uh, yeah. Yeah, there could have been different things, but we had a spark and we thought, why not do something what we call the support van? Okay. What was interesting was, um, when that idea first came to us, there are a lot of people, uh, or different players out there who do you know what they call support on wheels, right? They go to the customer’s site and and offer services. But we wanted to do something a little different and look at how can we incorporate all the rich feedback that we got right from the market, from our customers, from our internal, you know, different stakeholders. Right. And how do we bring all that together? And then we said, okay, so let’s see how can we really make this one something different and unique, and how can we apply everything that we’ve learned from our customer and customer experience standpoint to this? So if I could just talk about the solution that we thought of. Right. So…
…we decided that one thing we wanted to do is do the repair out of the customer’s site. Right?
Ah, okay.
So that customers are not anxious anymore. They know that…
All right.
…you know, there is a professional person who’s taken over and he, you know, and, uh, we also worked a little bit upon the the professionalism, the look and feel, uh, as, as well of the, of the engineer and, you know, just ensuring that, for example, they’re carrying the right set of toolkits, right, in pristine condition. All this, uh, gives the customer confidence that, yes, this person has come to fix, my dear laptop is completely understands what needs to be done. And he’s a professional and he can do it. So that was one thing. So just ensuring that the repair is not happening in front of the customer was…
…one thing.
So you created your, your own, uh, operating room, in essence, just like…
Absolutely. So the one…
…in the van, right?
Yeah. So the one, uh, had, uh, a close by would basically drive to the customer’s address, park somewhere outside, you know, the house, um, maybe in the street. And, uh, the technician would take the laptop or that’s how it was designed. Right. And go to this section, which was where he had a proper work stool. Right.
He had, he had his surface…
With all access…
…that he needed. Right?
Access to all the tools that he needed. Right. And the privacy that he needed to really go, you know, to do his job to the best of his ability. And what do we do with the customers while they wait? Right. They would still be anxious because there’s…
…something happening behind closed doors. And that’s when we thought, why not engage them in a game? Why they waited? So there was a section of the van that actually had like a small gaming unit, right, which was designed to look like a small gaming room right where they could go, uh, like really experience the HP product, the, the laptop that is there, play…
…a game that they liked. And they also had like a small display of, uh, you know, accessories that you would use…
…for gaming, like the gaming mouse and the headset. So opportunity for us to cross sell and upsell there to look…
All right.
…at, hey, have you checked out these this gear that goes with your, uh, you know, your gaming setup and how can you, uh, you know, and, you know, are you interested? And, you know, you get to touch, feel and look at some of these accessories that were there, or you can just spend your time, which means you’re distracted. You’re not thinking about the laptop…
…that’s getting fixed. Right. And…
…kind of like really helps reduce your anxiousness. And it’s kind of like a win win, right? So the technician does his job and the customer is just engaged in a fun way. Right. And…
…small things. But I think if you look at it from a customer experience standpoint, things that could really make a big difference because…
…that once that anxiousness is taken out, I think, uh, everything else that follows, uh, really is not amplifying that, uh, you know, dissatisfaction that the product is having a downtime. Yeah.
All right. Several interesting things there. You know, obviously this serves the technician well. He can do do his job, do her job without, you know, interruption or just knowing that nobody’s looking over their shoulder. But at the same time, you know, the customer gets to geek out on some other equipment and try some new, uh, new features and such that, uh, is just playing to exactly their persona, that they like…
That’s right.
…To explore those things, they like to play games and so forth.
That is right.
So I’m curious, Jaya, you know, when someone needs service, how do they reach out to be able to receive the kind of service that you’re providing? And then with this new experience, how did it go?
But I’d also add to one other thing that we thought really helped us with this whole project. Um, you know, sometimes, uh, not being able to communicate or not that awareness with our customers in terms of what are the different options that they have, right, in terms of reaching out to, uh, to a company for support. Right? How how I mean, do I have different phone numbers? Is there like a WhatsApp support, whatever. Different things that we decide right now, some most often when your system stops working, you get into panic mode, right? And and you don’t have that information that you need in terms of, okay, how do I reach out to get the support that I need? And what also happened with us with this one is we had the opportunity to really look at, uh, putting a branding around the van, which was not only about the branding about our, you know, the PC that we were supporting, but also how, uh, we ensure that they stayed up and running. Right. So there was some cool stuff that we could do in terms of branding, the support itself, saying that, hey, we help you maintain your A game, right? With no downtime. And I think this is important because especially from a support standpoint, it’s important for both internal stakeholders to articulate how we support our customers in the unfortunate event of, you know, their PC is not working, but it’s also important for us to educate our end customers so that they know how easy it is for them to reach out to us in the unfortunate event that the laptop or something is not working. So I think that gives them a lot of confidence to know that, hey, it’s so easy to reach out to you and it’s just so cool that you come on around to support us. Right? So I think it was like a third, um, thing that really helped us to create that whole awareness with the customers as well. So this one that we we’ve piloted it in two cities in India. Right.
Okay? Yep.
And we also it’s been quite a hit. And you will and I’ll tell you why. Because, uh, every time there is an event, uh, with one of our partners, they ask us, hey, can you send us the support van? Because we’re going to have a gaming event, and we’d like to show, you know, how HP supports this. And we’ve had, um, a few gamers and influencers who can have visited the van and, you know, shared feedback about it as well. So I think all in all, uh, we feel good about, you know, being able to address some of these challenges that we had. And of course, uh, look at how do we keep improving that experience. Right. So of course, uh, there there could be some operational things, uh, you know, that have to that you have to consider. Right, in terms of how do we go serve, how do we figure out where do you go? But I think overall, uh, if you look at how it turned out and if anybody is in India and you, you know, ever look ever see the van, uh, on the road, please feel free to, you know, stop it and look, you know, take a look, take a peek inside because, uh, uh, it kind of like, really creates a different environment, uh, for, for, for for customers.
Yeah. And you said, uh, it sounds like it has kind of sparked other ideas as well, is that I would think this kind of creative process. And once you implement this, there tends to be kind of an add on effect of, you know, what else we could do? You know, we could try this. Have you have…
…you had some of that too?
Yes, a lot of things. Not. Okay. Uh, not specifically on the van and gaming. I mean, we’re still looking at how do we every day we go in and look at, okay, how do we elevate this and take this up, up a notch. Uh, but it also helped us to, to really look at developing a framework. And that’s one of the big outcomes of this as well. How do you approach, uh, building and delivering, um, a differentiated experience from a support perspective? Right. So this journey that we went through, right. How did we start looking at the market research and, you know, benchmarking, looking at the internal processes. Right. And then getting back on the table and understanding what our customers really need and want, and how do we create that journey for them. And then not stopping there, but then talking about how do we then go about go out and talk about this, uh, you know, both internally and externally. So there was a framework that we developed and I, we called it the 360 degree, uh, you know, uh, 360 degree framework. It’s just, uh, uh, a guide guidance for us in terms of how we approach such projects in the future. Right. It could be it’s gaming today. It could be something else tomorrow. But it really gives us a a holistic approach. And, you know, just to ensure that what are the different things that we look at, uh, and what we should be looking at right when we, when we address such, uh, such projects. Yeah.
Well, that’s a wonderful summary because you did go through, you know, what seems to be a very deliberate process to making all of this work and to come up with a wonderful creative solution that I can see how it would be, you know, a differentiated experience that you were striving for. You know, obviously you you had a number of people involved. So there was kind of a cross-functional nature to collaborating and pulling all this together. How did that work?
Right. So, so, but I think, um, they say CX is a team sport, right. Like…
Indeed, indeed, it is.
…with everything and, I don’t… And I don’t think there is just, you know, as a single person that or or a department that you can achieve, especially when it comes to CX, you really need the investment from I think so many different functions. Right. Um, so I think for this one particularly, we needed to while we conceptualized and designed and decided or what the ideal journey for the customer should be, there were so many different departments that helped us to ensure that this comes from paper, so to say to actual, you know, to the actual van itself. Uh, and also, uh, there were departments that spoke about, okay, now we have it, how do we operationalize it? So that’s important, right? Because it’s great. The concept is great. But how do we ensure that the customers use it the way it is intended to be used. Right. And we really, uh, get them to get the value. Then there are people who will keep us, uh, you know, uh, to ensure that we’re sticking to the budget. Right. There was like a the team from the finance, for example, that always was involved in decisions to talk about, okay, how do we ensure that, you know, we stay within the budget, that we we ensure that we’re doing an efficient way to make this happen? And of course, there were people from, uh, different, uh, backgrounds like the category, the product category, teams who are who are there looking…
…at how do we incorporate this as a narrative while we sell. Right. And then we have the marketing team who also who would also be involved in looking at how do we use this as an opportunity to create that awareness. So and also within the support itself. Right. There are so many different sections. Right. You had uh, the call center where the customer would reach. Then you had people who were talking about distributing of, let’s say, a spare part that might be required. And then you have this big chunk of, uh, people that run the, uh, actual what we call the field operations. Right? We’re talking, uh, who would be who are one of our stakeholders as well, right. In terms of, okay, how do we train our technicians in terms of how do they use utilize this van, right, how and the inputs that they provided. So all in all, I think there were a lot of people involved. And I think that’s what made it quite successful because end of the day, you want everybody to feel like it is their solution, right. And it’s change and it’s something that, you know, we’re changing for the better, and we’re going to do it in a way that it is sustainable and that, uh, we see the benefits both from a customer as well as the internal stakeholder perspective as well. So yeah, a team sport.
Yeah, it sounds like the team was orchestrated beautifully. So just a terrific story and we appreciate you sharing it with us today. But we’re at that point of the broadcast where we ask every guest for one tip our take home value. You know, one tip that ideally people can think about and say, well, that’s something I could start tomorrow. So, Jaya, what’s your tip?
Sure. So for me, and this is something that, you know, I heard a lot long back when I was interviewing for a role, right? I mean, it could be a CX transformation or any transformation that you do or a business transformation or, you know, any project or program. End of the day, what we really doing is change from where we are to where we want to be. And it involves a lot of people who are mostly resistant to change. Uh, so end of the day, it’s about how do we take the people along, right. And ensure that they embrace the change. So the change, you know, remains sustainable. And we we really be able to, uh, be able to take all the benefits out of, you know, the reason why we’re doing the change. So for me, as a CX professional, I also invested some time in learning about change management. And it has been so handy because they have so many great techniques and frameworks that makes you think about how are we taking those people along and how can we make this transformation successful. So my the one advice at this point in time that I would have is like, look at, uh, some complementary skills that really comes in handy for customer experience professions. What of them is absolutely change management. The other thing would be design thinking. So those are the two things that I would say, you know, you can start looking at. Yeah.
Two very important things. And um, again, uh, it is about change. That’s a big part of our job. And we have to influence change and bring people along. So it all makes sense. Uh, Jaya Sudarshan is customer experience manager for HP. Jaya, thank you for being on The CX Leader Podcast.
Thank you, Pat. I really enjoyed the conversation. So thank you for having me.
We enjoyed it as well, and sometimes our listeners like to reach out and continue the conversation. If would that be okay? Can they find you on LinkedIn?
Absolutely. Please find me on LinkedIn and drop me a note. I’d be happy to connect.
Wonderful. And if you want to talk about anything you heard on this podcast or how Walker can help your business’s customer experience, email us at podcast@walkerinfo.com. Remember to give The CX Leader Podcast rating through your podcast service and give us a review. Your feedback will help us improve the show and deliver the best possible value to you, our listeners. Check out our website cxleaderpodcast.com to subscribe to the show and find all our previous episodes, podcast series and a link to our blog which we update regularly. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, where an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. And you can read more about us at walkerinfo.com. Thank you for listening and remember, it’s a great time to be a CX leader. We’ll see you next time.
* This transcript was created using an A.I. tool and may contain some mistakes. Email podcast@walkerinfo.com with any questions or corrections.