Customer Experience Orchestration in this Tech-ade: A Guide for Leaders


Raja Lakshmipathy, Vice President and Managing Director, Genesys India & SAARC regionThe ‘press-one-for-English’ era of customer care experience is evidently evolving into a more advanced & dynamic customer support experience. Now, with Cloud and even Artificial Intelligence coming into the mix, organizations envision new avenues to steer their customer contact centers toward prodigious efficiency while saving money in the process. But just like any other technology intervention, it sounds rosier in words than its practical counterpart. Experts anticipate the Natural language processing (NLP) market alone to hit $22.3 billion by 2025, driven by a wide horizon of novel technologies. Intrinsically, the industry has become more competitive than ever before. Raja Lakshmipathy, Vice President and Managing Director, Genesys India & SAARC region, deciphers the challenges and opportunities in the technology-powered customer experience orchestration ecosystem. A seasoned professional with more than three decades of experience in Collaboration and Customer Experience applications, Raja is an expert in devising and executing strategies to accomplish high-end revenue growth, customer acquisition & retention and managing client relationships at all levels. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

From your experience, rather than the usual definitions, what makes the cloud such a transformative force?

The transition to cloud computing offers a plethora of advantages beyond the commonly cited scalability and cost-effectiveness. One of the most significant benefits is the uniformity and consistency of service delivery across diverse geographical locations, ensuring a consistent user experience regardless of where customers interact with a brand. Furthermore, cloud adoption signifies a shift from traditional hardware and managed applications to a microservices-driven architecture available on the cloud. This modern approach not only streamlines operations but also facilitates agility and innovation. Additionally, the cloud environment provides businesses with access to a broad ecosystem of partners, enabling them to meet various operational and business needs more effectively. Collectively, these benefits contribute to the cloud's growing reputation as a transformative force in the business landscape.

What are the other aspects of this technology evolution that could help leaders create better connections with customers?

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Big Data are at the forefront of technological evolution, revolutionizing customer experience across multiple sectors. AI's capability to analyze customer journeys through various channels and predict their intentions and subsequent actions is invaluable. It not only enhances customer service by matching queries with the most suitable agents but also improves over time through learning algorithms. The advent of Generation AI and Conversational AI, equipped with advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP), takes this a step further by orchestrating personalized responses, providing what is termed 'superhuman service’. These AI systems can monitor conversations to offer real-time assistance to agents, suggesting cross-sell opportunities like pitching insurance alongside a mortgage inquiry. Moreover, the ability to auto-summarize conversations into transcripts rapidly post-interaction marks a significant improvement in efficiency. Together, these innovations have transformed customer interactions, making them more seamless and responsive than ever before.

At Genesys, our ethical deployment of AI is guided by four foundational pillars. 

How might leaders strike an equilibrium between the progression of digital technology and the adherence to ethical standards?

AI is not a novel concept; it has been in existence for decades. However, the application of AI on a large scale is a relatively recent development. Technologies such as sentiment analysis and machine learning have long been part of our toolkit. In truth, ethical considerations, especially concerning job losses, have accompanied the advent of transformative technologies throughout history—from the transition from horses to cars to the introduction of computers. However, in reality, AI has the potential to enhance both the customer experience and operational efficiency, and truly deliver Experience-as-a-Service. By automating routine tasks, AI allows human agents to focus on more complex and productive activities, thus elevating the overall quality of interactions and services.

At Genesys, our ethical deployment of AI is guided by four foundational pillars. The first is the integration of empathy, ensuring that AI interactions are considerate and understanding. The second pillar focuses on privacy. We have long adopted a 'privacy by design' approach to enhance processes without relying on personally identifiable information (PII), thus safeguarding individual rights. The third pillar aims to identify and mitigate bias, promoting fairness in AI-driven decisions. Transparency in everything we do constitutes the fourth pillar, involving clear communication with stakeholders about the decision-making processes. An ethics committee oversees these principles, educating engineers to maintain the highest standards of care and ethical use in AI applications.

Given the current wave of industry layoffs, what strategies would you recommend for leaders to develop a work environment that not only attracts but also retains top talent?

Amidst the dynamically evolving landscape of customer and employee experience management, a people-centric approach has become indispensable. It underlines the belief that the customer experience orchestration ecosystem (CX) is interwoven with positive employee experience (EX). Historically, the focus on efficiency often overshadowed the 'last mile' - the agents who are integral to customer interactions. However, there has been a paradigm shift in this approach over the past five to seven years. We have undergone a progressive three-stage development in workforce management. Initially centered on workforce management (WFM)- efficiency through staffing and forecasting, the approach evolved into workforce optimization (WFO), emphasizing quality management, compliance, and customer feedback. 

The current emphasis is on workforce engagement management (WEM), which prioritizes employee engagement through coaching, performance management, and personalized learning via methods like gamification. This shift from efficiency to engagement reflects a broader commitment to creating a supportive work environment. This approach has been a massive success. We have been recognized as a great place to work for seven consecutive years. 

When it comes to future plans, what are the areas that Genesys' investments will be focused on?

Aligning with the dynamic trends in IT spending and market demands, Genesys is committed to being the innovator in the market. Currently, we facilitate billions of interactions for nearly 8000 organizations in over 100 countries. Our core mission is to orchestrate personalized and empathetic experiences that extend throughout and beyond the customer experience landscape. We are dedicated to delivering an AI-powered experience at every stage of the call cycle, whether it be ingress, in-process, or during agent interaction. Our focus is firmly set on ensuring that this level of service is consistent across the entire call lifecycle, reflecting our commitment to excellence in customer engagement.

Our strategic investments are largely focused on establishing a 'cloud-first' approach and enhancing our platform's capabilities. As pioneers in setting up a cloud node in India, we've enabled numerous Indian enterprises to access capabilities previously available primarily to customers in North America and Central Europe. 

Our investments are also heavily focused on expanding our cloud infrastructure. This encompasses not just the enhancement of our technological capabilities but also our efforts to increase the number of operational sites worldwide. We consistently launch additional sites, satellites, or key regions globally every year.

Additionally, we've made considerable advancements in Workforce Engagement Management (WEM), releasing a host of features that can be utilized as a stand-alone application independent of Genesys Cloud or engagement platforms. Our focus also encompasses journey management and analytics, which are crucial for crafting comprehensive digital customer experiences. 

With Genesys’ recent acquisition of Radarr Technologies, a leading AI-based social and digital listening, analytics, and consumer engagement company, we're bolstering our social media listening and response functionalities. These investments reflect our dedication to delivering consistent, high-quality experiences across all customer segments, including large enterprises, mid-market, and SMBs. Furthermore, across regions, we maintain rigorous compliance with standards such as FedRAMP, GDPR, VDP, and PCI, ensuring our governance remains exemplary. 

Given your extensive professional background, could you offer some guidance to emerging leaders who try to seize new opportunities in the industry?

In my professional journey, I've learned that the cornerstone of growth is a people-centric approach. I have always focused on my team's growth, which led to my success. It's not just about building a team that's efficient and effective; it's about nurturing a culture of empathy that extends to all stakeholders alike. This philosophy fosters goodwill and creates a positive professional environment built on the foundations of mutual respect and trust. It's also crucial to eliminate all forms of bias and champion equality and diversity. Moreover, I've come to understand that there is no shortcut to success. These insights have been pivotal in my growth, and while I may not label them as advice, they are valuable learnings that have shaped my leadership style.

Hobbies: Listening to Audio Books and working with NGOs
Favorite Cuisines: “Although my comfort food is South Indian, I love experimenting with different cuisines.”
Favorite Travel Destination: “Multiple locations across Europe.”
Favorite TV series: “Inside by Natgeo, Suits, Manifest, and 24.”