Interview with a Customer Strategy Guru: Part 1

Over the years, I’ve met some real superstars of customer experience, people who have industry-wide reputations as thought leaders and experts in their craft.  One of those people is Jean-Marc Codsi, who is a customer strategy & experience design guru.  Up until recently, he was responsible for leading the Customer Experience teams in Europe for eBay.  Before his years at eBay, his creative customer experience flair helped drive experience transformation at T-Mobile in the UK & Etisalat across the Middle East.

I’d recently met Jean-Marc for a catch up at the French House in Soho, London which is rather appropriate as he is in fact French.  As we chatted, I realized that perhaps for those out there online, it would make an interesting post to interview Jean-Marc and share a little of his knowledge & expertise.  Beyond his passion for motorcycles and movies, he’s also a keen karate aficionado, and he’s been living in London, his newly adopted home for over a decade.  As we sat chatting, I fired off a series of questions, which I’ll share with you over my next two posts.

Michael: What are you up to at the moment?

Jean-Marc: I’m coaching start-ups to take them to funding stage and helping/advising tech companies be successful in the UK and Europe – focusing the experience on the customer and what they really want. There is a real “buzz” on Mobile Apps (everywhere, really) but too little time is dedicated to really listening to customers; so we are putting the customer insight at the beginning of the process, before the product.

Michael: How did you get into Customer Experience (CX)?

Jean-Marc: By pure luck, really! I got called by a recruiter when I was young and selling consumer package goods in France and they offered me double my salary to go and sell outsourcing services, that got my attention! From there I moved into Contact center recruiting, training, WFO, operations, and account management for large clients like HP and Philips in Europe.

I truly discovered CX at T-Mobile, where people were ambitious about their brand and understood the power of CX to drive Loyalty. I’ve learned a lot in telecoms & mobile operators.

Michael: What makes a great customer experience?

Jean-Marc: Increasingly, the experience needs to be instant and accessible. Gone are the days where 24h was good enough to get an answer.  The customer needs to be surprised by the brand, positively of course. “Wow! That was fast!” Refund, immediate response, chat, within seconds, and so on. That is what mobile technology brings to the world of service.  And of course, service has to be reliable, consistent, personal, etc…

Michael: What changes had the most impact?

Jean-Marc: Mobility – the little mobile phone screen and what it offers…and the limits it imposes. Some companies still don’t get it and dedicate too much time and money on a dying desktop service model. Self-service needs to be rethought, IVR’s, all customer journeys to fit the little screen. And channels need to adapt. E-mail is not the solution, channels have evolved.

For example, with mobile, share of online purchase being above 50%, do we really think customers will wait until they’re at home, then open their laptop or desktop to get service? How many brands have not evolved their self-service flows to fit the mobile screen? Many!

When you have a conversation with an expert, you can’t help but feel inspired, taking the learnings to apply in your own working environment. In my next post, Jean-Marc and I continued to chat as he shared some of the magic ingredients in eBay’s secret sauce, and shared what he is currently working on.

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