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Top 10 Customer Relations interviews for early 2023

The first half of 2023 has been full of news for the customer relations sector. To keep you on track over the holidays, the editorial team has compiled the top 10 interviews conducted during the first 6 months of the year.

Karine Jan and Alix Ait Said, Teleperformance: "We are constantly coming up with new ideas and innovations".

In this first half of 2023, Teleperformance has been voted best place to work; acquired Majorel for €36 billion, and gained "Digital Solutions & App Innovation" partner status from Microsoft. Here's a look back at the interview with Karine Jan and Alix Ait Said, who share their vision of a fast-changing market and their strategic direction for the months ahead.

Karine Jan has been Managing Director of Teleperformance France since February 2022 and Alix Ait Said joined the Group in October 2021 as Sales Director for French-speaking markets. Human skills are essential if we are to get to the heart of our customers' business issues as advisers and solution designers.

To what extent is the economic context impacting your customers' strategy and your business?

Alix Ait Said: Apart from the energy sector, which is in a state of upheaval, our customers are fairly relaxed about the sustainability of their business model. In these uncertain times, they are asking themselves a little more about outsourcing, which is restoring a balance in terms of sector distribution. Banking and insurance are becoming more important contributors, and travel and tourism are making a strong comeback.

Conversely, the big unicorns are keeping a lower profile. We are also seeing a clarification between the sectors that work domestically (public and semi-public sectors, banking, etc.) and the others, which are stepping up offshoring with constant pressure on costs.

Read the full interview here

Gabriel Authier, Rossignol: "The idea is to personalise the customer experience on our site as much as possible".

For the past two years, winter sports equipment brand Rossignol has been using Salesforce for its CRM tools. Today, it will be adding the software publisher's latest addition: Einstein GPT, a generative AI module based on data. We spoke to Gabriel Authier, chief marketing officer at Rossignol Group, and Kheira Boulhila, senior vice president - solution engineering EMEA at Salesforce, who explained the partnership and the expectations of this collaboration between the two companies.

What changes will AI applied to CRM make to customer relations and the customer experience?

Kheira Boulhila, senior vice president - solution engineering EMEA at Salesforce: Our AI module, Einstein GPT, has been around since 2016. It is deployed on all Salesforce solutions (sales, marketing services, commerce, etc.). What's changing today is the addition of the notion of generative AI, i.e. the ability to create content, images, videos, etc. We believe that generative AI is the key to a better customer experience.

We believe that generative AI applied to CRM will bring efficiency and create what we call the 'augmented user'. Our aim is to improve efficiency, without replacing the human element.

For example, our module will help a sales rep to write emails more quickly or retrieve external and internal content. But when a text is generated by Einstein GPT, it is never automatically sent to the customer. It is always reviewed by a member of staff beforehand, so that they can adjust or complete it.

For call centre operators, who often have dozens of applications open at the same time to find the information they need, AI will generate a response based on information found in past conversational exchanges. This saves them a huge amount of time. At the end of the conversation, the AI module can update the site's knowledge base (the "FAQ" section) based on the discussion with the customer.

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Damien Réveillon, Armatis: "The RGPD has paralleled the obligations of brands and those of subcontractors"

As the RGPD celebrated its fifth birthday on 25 May, Damien Réveillon, legal director at Armatis, looks back at its importance in customer relations.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is now in its fifth year. What are its benefits, particularly in terms of customer relations?

We can congratulate ourselves on Europe's regulatory efficiency! This text is the cornerstone of data protection in Europe and has a worldwide reputation. It forms a solid and coherent framework, reinforcing the responsibility of companies and the rights of the people concerned. It is now generally applied by all European companies and, fearing heavy sanctions, American companies are starting to apply it.

In our business sector, the RGPD is crucial, as we work as subcontractors for brands. Armatis manages over 200 million interactions every year (outgoing calls, incoming calls, bot, social networks, email, etc.). Each time, we have access to the end customer's personal data. The RGPD places obligations on us both with regard to brands and to their customers. The French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) has published a practical guide to managing customer relations, covering in particular the rules to be observed when canvassing for new business and building customer loyalty.

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Aurélie Daniel, Ringcentral: "We work in co-construction with our customers"

Ringcentral has been supplying the Engage Digital messaging solution to SNCF Voyageurs since 2015. Here we meet Aurélie Daniel, CX product marketing manager at Ringcentral, and Alexis Toutain, social hub manager at SNCF Voyageurs, who look back on eight years of partnership, punctuated by changes in customer relations.

SNCF Voyageurs and Ringcentral have been working together for almost 10 years. What added value has the Engage Digital solution brought SNCF Voyageurs?

Alexis Toutain, Social Hub Manager at SNCF Voyageurs: Today, the Engage Digital tool enables us to process around 5,000 messages a day and 700,000 a month on social networks. This fairly high figure is due to the fact that we are a company that is constantly in the spotlight, especially during strikes.

As a result, managing conversations on social networks is vital and delicate. The solution we use enables us to manage the different degrees of urgency and the different themes on which we are called.

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Dominique Russo, Macif: "While it is essential to be competitive from a pricing point of view, that is not enough".

Macif has been awarded the "Prix des Prix" for the most awarded company of the year. For this mutual group, it is now essential to go beyond its role as an insurer and go beyond the commercial approach. Dominique Russo, Macif's Director of Customer and Member Experience, tells us about his plans and ambitions.

Last December you were awarded the "Prix des Prix" for the most awarded company of the year. What does this award mean to you?

It's an enormous source of pride and recognition for the collective work and commitment of our teams. It also shows that we have succeeded in transposing our values into customer relations and making them a differentiating factor. Listening is at the heart of Macif's DNA, and the challenge is not to think in the place of our members and customers, but to listen to them without filters or intermediaries. It is important to demonstrate our values in a spirit of co-construction.

This award is part of Macif's overall approach to customer satisfaction. Our raison d'être, for example, was not written by a few people on a corner of a table, but was the subject of a wide-ranging consultation involving 15,000 people. When we emerged from the various health crises, we also surveyed our 5.7 million members to find out how they were doing. We were surprised by the response: 10% of them, or 550,000 members, answered the questionnaire. 78% said they were doing fairly well, while 22% said they were experiencing difficulties, which enabled us to direct them to our solidarity schemes.

As another example, we have also set up a 'complaints committee' made up of member representatives who meet every week to analyse complaints made by other customers. This approach has a dual benefit: it brings a greater human dimension to the analysis of complaints and helps us to improve our offers and services. When certain reasons become recurrent, these members help us to improve our contracts. To make a difference, there's no magic formula: you have to stay constantly in touch with the realities on the ground, by being close to your customers' expectations as part of a relationship of trust.

Read the full interview here

Boris Saragaglia, Spartoo: "We lift the psychological barrier of trying on clothes, which pushes customers to buy in a physical shop."

Spartoo has communicated the scores received from its customer panel on Trustpilot, in all the countries where the brand is present. The feedback is excellent, with no less than four out of five stars. We spoke to Boris Saragaglia, CEO and co-founder of Spartoo, who explains the reasons for this success.

What are the pillars of your customer strategy?

The first pillar is free delivery and returns. This is something that has become fairly commonplace in e-commerce, even if some brands are going backwards. For us, it's an essential issue that helps to make our customers' purchasing decisions more fluid.

In short, we are trying to remove the psychological barrier of trying on clothes, which can lead consumers to buy in a physical shop rather than on our site, by streamlining returns and the payment and refund processes.

Secondly, we measure all customer feedback using a number of questionnaires and panels to assess the quality of purchases and the execution of our services. In short, we ask our customers to rate our consistency between promise and delivery.

The third pillar is surprise. We try to surprise our customers with the excellence of our service. For example, if we say we'll deliver in five days, we deliver in three. When there's a problem with customer service, we try to be generous without knowing who's right or wrong.

Read the full interview here

"We have sought to globalise our approach", Thibault Guérard, VP Customer Experience at Pluxee (ex-Sodexo Benefits & Rewards Services)

Thibault Guérard is VP Customer Experience at Pluxee (formerly Sodexo Benefits & Rewards Services). He tells us about a strategic project (still in progress) to optimise the customer experience using an approach that combines local deployment and central management.

Can you tell us about the background to this project on customer experience and customer relations?

Until 4 years ago, the tools and processes needed to fulfil our customer service mission in the 31 countries where we operate were managed locally. Since then, we have sought to globalise our approach by deploying tools, processes and KPIs consistently from one country to the next, using Genesys and other partners such as Salesforce, which we use more for case management.

Genesys is our preferred tool for all the omnichannel aspects, as well as for routing/managing voice flows and potentially also chat flows. But it doesn't manage emails or level 2 incidents. We are seeking to harmonise the customer experience in the different countries where we operate by smoothing out the processes associated with customer relations. Deployment is carried out locally by business/IT teams, with management at our head office, where we coordinate relations with the Genesys teams. But France, Belgium and Romania each have their own Genesys tool. Support takes place locally, with the help of the central teams who, thanks to their expertise, distil the 'methodology' and consistency at local level. Our integration partners can be Genesys Professional Services consultants, or Gold or Silver partners recommended by Genesys.

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Frank Duriez, Chairman of Blanche Porte: "Blanche Porte is embarking on a virtuous revolution".

Offering customers a new adventure, giving a 210-year-old company a future... Frank Duriez, Chairman of Blanche Porte, explains the company's transformation around the values of caring, boldness and accessibility for all.

You have been Chairman of Blanche Porte since 2016. What has been your career path with this historic retailer?

I spent most of my career with 3 Suisses International in France, Spain and China. Then, the group put me in charge of the general management of Blanche Porte and the shareholder sold various subsidiaries in France. Then, with the management committee at the time, we led a project to take over the brand. After marketing and customer relations, my professional experience turned to e-commerce and distance selling.

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Nicolas Vincent, LDLC: "We created a version of the sound identity for the call centre".

LDLC, an expert in the sale of IT and high-tech equipment, is strengthening its communications strategy with a sound identity. Nicolas Vincent, Operational Marketing Manager, explains its creation and objectives.

LDLC has just launched a new sound identity. Why and how was it created?

For the past two years, the brand has been trying to raise its profile with the general public, and to increase the brand's memorability and attachment. The idea came to us when we were putting together a television advertising campaign. We wondered about the relevance of a sound identity and contacted Sixième Son. The creative process is similar to that for a logo, the approach is the same but the result appeals to a different sense. We set up a working group with employees from several departments to think about our offer (cold, technological products) and the way we sell it, which places a great deal of emphasis on the human element (in shops and with an efficient customer service, which has won several awards). We've tried to sum up this stance with a rhythm, a choice of instruments, a bit of voice for human warmth, and a bit of electro - in short, a mix of genres that resembles our company. LDLC's sound identity conveys the momentum, modernity and expertise of the brand.

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Céline Sarrazin, Bouygues Immobilier: "The customer experience is the number 1 issue in the company's strategy".

Céline Sarrazin, Director of Customer Experience at Bouygues Immobilier, comments on the developer's commitments to its customers, its dedicated charter, and the employee day dedicated to customer satisfaction.

What is your customer experience strategy?

The customer experience is the number 1 issue in the company's strategy, and the employee experience is the number 2 issue. We strongly believe in the symmetry of attention. That's why we've taken steps to acculturate our teams. In 2018, we set up the Customer Academy to train all our customer relations staff (around 150 employees) - customer relations managers, after-sales service managers and sales administrators - in customer relations know-how and interpersonal skills. In property development, the customer journey is a long one, stretching over more than two years, and requires a great deal of support, especially as the purchase of a property involves both a financial and emotional investment. It's all about getting the message across. We have opened up our academy to other professions, such as programme managers, who manage property developments from design to delivery and are likely to be in direct contact with the end customer. Each year, we offer training courses on the fundamentals of customer relations, communication (conflict management, for example), and so on. We also offer induction courses for new recruits.

Read the full interview here

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