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In this Leadership Insights video interview, Amanda Razani speaks with Matt Swain, head of communications insights and experience at Broadridge, about the findings of the recently released 2024 CX and Communications Consumer Insights Report and how business leaders can utilize this information.


Amanda Razani: Hello and welcome to the Digital CXO Leadership Insights. I’m Amanda Razani and I’m excited to be here today with Matt Swain. He is the head of communications, insights and experience for Broadridge. How are you doing?

Matt Swain: I’m doing great, Amanda. How are you?

Amanda Razani: Doing well. Can you share a little bit about Broadridge and what services do you provide?

Matt Swain: Yeah, the short version is we’re a global FinTech leader and we power the critical infrastructure behind investing, governance and communications.

Amanda Razani: Wonderful. And so you recently released your sixth annual 2024 CX and Communications Consumer Insights report. That’s a mouthful. And there were some key findings in that report. Can you share those with our audience?

Matt Swain: Yeah, so I’ve been doing the report for all of those six years, and I have a great team that works with me on it, but it’s always great to be able to look at how the data is changing over time. So one of the data points that I found particularly interesting was that 70% of consumers feel that most of the companies they do business with need to improve the customer experience they provide. Last year we talked about it was at 69%. So just a slight shift, but six years ago it was only 35%. So the data has shown that that negative sentiment around customer experience has actually doubled in the last six years.

Amanda Razani: Oh, wow. So since nothing has changed, or in fact it’s gotten a little bit worse since the last year, what does this mean for business leaders that are trying to address this issue and where are they falling short?

Matt Swain: The way that I look at it is we all have those companies that we put on a pedestal. You have some favorite experience that you get from some company, and that company or those companies continue to redefine what makes a great customer experience for you. And so what we see is that that has consumers then asking more of the other companies they work with. It is not a static line that you’re trying to get across that says this is what defines a great customer experience. That continues to evolve. And so it’s really important that companies continue to evolve with it.

Amanda Razani: Yeah, so that brings a good point. I remember reading something somewhere, I don’t remember exactly where, but it was saying that just the overall customer expectations is always increasing due to more use of online, and expecting more services to be online, and therefore the company leaders are trying to keep up and address these greater expectations. So there’s a lot of tools and technologies out there, a big one in the past year being AI. So where do you see AI fitting in and assisting in this topic?

Matt Swain: So we definitely touched on it in this year’s research. I think it was an important one given what’s happened in the last year plus. But I guess maybe first I would say because a lot of consumer interest in AI, we found that 50% of consumers had used it in the last year. And that might’ve been only once or multiple times, but 76% of Gen Z had used gen AI and they were using it for things like information advice, learning and education and content creation. And so when you look at how companies can implement gen AI, certainly the virtual assistant or chatbot is maybe lower hanging fruit relative to how companies might implement on day one or have already implemented it.
But often a lot of the companies that we’re working with are maybe more… They’re focusing more on tactical internal processes that they’re looking to optimize first, that they’re a little more tentative about using gen AI as a direct interaction with their client base. There’s more of a thoughtful, slower approach to implementation, but there’s a lot of consumer excitement and I think a lot of business expectation that gen AI will be important and we’re trying to find the right use cases, but they tend to be more tactical today than maybe strategic implementation so far.

Amanda Razani: So when it comes to more efficient processes and implementing these changes, what are some tips that you have for business leaders as far as getting all the employees and staff on board and communicating well?

Matt Swain: One thing that we’ve done is we actually implemented a sandbox environment where our employees could use gen AI in a safe environment and test it out and get more comfortable with themselves, which I think is a good starting point from a cultural perspective, corporate culture perspective, just getting people comfortable with the applications that they can implement with the technology is really helpful.
And then when you start to think about the use cases, it comes into some of those things on where can gen AI provide the most value for our client? What problem are we trying to solve? In this case, the client is the end consumer or whatever your customer is.
But in doing that, it’s also really important to do it, test and learn slower implementations, making sure you’re gathering voice of customer through that process. Because we have seen in the research that consumers are a little tentative about how AI gets implemented into the communications they receive from companies. They want companies to be transparent about how their data is being used with gen AI. But I think there’s also a concern around the data being compromised as well. So not just transparency about how it’s used, but what’s going to happen with what you know about me and my personal information.

Amanda Razani: So it always seems to definitely come back to data at some point. And in the customer experience, data is so important to gather in real time. And I know a lot of businesses still struggle with that real-time data collection and how to actually harness and use that data. So what are you seeing when you interact with companies? What are some of the issues they’re facing there and what advice do you have?

Matt Swain: One of the biggest issues that I’m seeing today, and actually this will tie back to the customer experience piece at the front end, is that consumers, customers are getting caught in a loop with virtual assistance with chatbots that don’t actually solve their problems. So if they were designed as a first line of defense, what are your open hours or basic facts, FAQs, where the consumer has something more pressing. Like I got in an accident, how do I file a claim? Or those types of things. They’re strongly preferring to interact directly with a human. And if they feel that they’re stuck with interacting with technology in place of a human for that self-service component, overall experience is declining. And so I think there’s a balancing point to excitement around implementing the new technology with ensuring that you continue to provide a strong customer experience, and that includes having human to human interaction when appropriate.

Amanda Razani: Yeah. So just finding that balance between automation and the human touch.

Matt Swain: Exactly.

Amanda Razani: Very important. So if there’s one key takeaway that you would like to leave our audience with today, what would that be?

Matt Swain: It’s tough to get this down to one, so let me try, Amanda. I think the first piece is consumers want more from the companies they do business with. And what defines a great customer experience actually ties closely to communications in the way that companies communicate. And consumers, they’re asking the companies they work with to make it easy to talk to a real person, to communicate clearly, to make it easy to navigate their digital experiences, to send timely communications, honor their communications preferences. So this is how I’d prefer to communicate with you. Please, let’s communicate that way. And that all rolls up to a desire or a need to improve overall communications experience to feed back to a better customer experience.

Amanda Razani: Absolutely. Well, I want to thank you for coming on our show again. It’s always a pleasure to speak with you and gather your insights.

Matt Swain: Certainly. Thank you for having me.

Amanda Razani: Thank you.