How Tech Disruptor Grab Makes Customer Experience Its Competitive Differentiator

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customer service, customer engagement strategies, customer centric, customer experience strategy

Ben Fairbank is the Head of Customer Experience at Grab, a ride-hailing app based in Asia. An internationally recognised leader in Customer Experience, Cultural Change Management and Operations, Ben has taken multiple companies to number 1 in their respective markets. He is constantly challenging the way businesses look at their people, who look after their customers.

In this interview for CX Network he talks about current customer experience challenges, the CX strategy of disruptor Grab, why employee engagement is imperative in today’s businesses – and he shares advice on making CX a competitive differentiator in 2017 and beyond.

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Hi Ben, welcome to CX Network. Can you tell me about your role as the Head of Customer Experience at ride-hailing app Grab, and the company’s wider customer experience strategy?

As the Head of CE, my role is to help fulfill the companies mission of ensuring our users and providers are safe, have access to our services and that we are contributing positively to the societies in which we exist. A technology company like Grab actually impacts people in a positive way on so many different levels and my role is to make sure that each department in our organisation contributes in a positive way and making sure we are all headed in the right direction.

Knowing the end to end journey is imperative and this allows you to provide an unparalleled service and experience. So many customers or partners who have had an issue don't call or contact you. The real key to delivering a great experience is measuring the interactions at each touch point and calling them if you detect an issue may have occurred. At the same time you need to be measuring the number of incidents at each touch point and eliminating the root cause of the issue, where possible.

It’s great to hear that you have a focus on safety and positivity. What challenges have you come across when trying to create a great experience for your customers throughout their entire journey with Grab?

Like any rapidly growing business, there will always be challenges with growing in a sustainable way as you have many more staff and customers to care for. So it is important you make sure you do your core things very well.

2017 is exciting as we are really building something lasting and maturing as a company. As we are a service company we want to provide an amazing service at every interaction point, to every person who touches our company or brand. As you know, the number one rule in business is never outsource your core competency, so we have to make sure we are equipped to deal with the growth and we are also improving at the same time.

With market growth comes the increase of competitors too. Companies need to evolve faster, adapt more quickly and generally be more agile, without ever sacrificing on quality. CX becomes even more imperative with increased competition and the understanding of why your partners and customers interact with your brand is paramount to growth and success. More services, products or offerings, means more partners, customers and interaction points too, which is always a challenge to map and measure. It does pose some exciting challenges for CX.

Operating within the Asian market, do you find there are additional challenges when it comes to customer experience? 

The secret to CX is to make sure you are listening, processing and aligning the internal objectives with the external impression and impact. Grab is an Asian player in the Asian market which gives it many advantages, but when it comes to CX, the philosophy is the same worldwide.Know where you are going, know who you have with you, and why.

And what are the advantages of being in the Asian market?

The Asian market is exciting for many reasons, however, a few stand out. The sheer number of people concentrated in the Asian region and the depth of the market make it an exciting region in which to do business. The diversity of its nations is also outstanding. With so many people living here, it also means there are many problems that need to be solved, which opens doors for solutions based businesses and products. The thirst for new technology and consumer goods will ensure the next decade will be extremely exciting in the region.

What are the key steps to building an effective customer journey map, as part of your wider strategy?

The customer journey maps used to be quite simplistic and evolved over time. CX went from basic plotting of the end to end journey to omni-channel management, and now the journey maps really achieve two key things:

1) Providing quantitative data at key interaction points for the purpose of sanity checking future initiatives and strategies, and 2) highlighting by department, where we are delighting and where we are failing to contribute to the wider strategy and exactly why and how.

What is the role of your employees when it comes to making the customer experience an excellent one? How do you keep them engaged with the CX strategy?

This is crucial and actually the main ingredient for success. When addressing any audience from a board right down to an entry level position, you need to consider "Am I addressing what is in it for them?". Unless an employee understands not only the vision in a way that they can understand and clearly see how it benefits them, they are not likely to follow.

The CX is the sum of all interactions not just one, so everyone has a role to play. Journey maps, digestible reports and very clear communication is paramount in ensuring the employees realise their impact. On the social side, employees need to also understand how not doing something impacts people in a very human way. This relates to fellow employees and also external customers.

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How you keep them engaged is by showing them clearly and regularly the transition they have helped complete so far and the positive impact they are having on those around them. It is so important to ensure that as we get busier and busier, we have mechanisms that reward positive behaviour and culture in place. You share those stories and momentum builds.

You also need to be firm in ensuring that people not aligned and not bought in are not carried. These people can quickly unravel the good work.

One of the biggest challenges for CX teams is measuring ROI of implemented initiatives, how do you measure these results at Grab?

I don't think it is a huge challenge, it comes back to two things:

1) If you have every journey point mapped thoroughly and you have quantitative data, you can easily measure positive or negative impact at each point. A key is to set a clear objective, let people do what they are employed and trusted to do and then provide impact feedback on what is working and what isn't. If the right mechanisms are in place, we can quickly arrest directions that don't bring profitability and we can also cleverly measure if there is a trade off for longer term customer life time value.

2) Creating dashboards that measure performance against company wide objectives also helps. We need to understand which areas to focus on to reach the overall goal, however, at the same time, it is imperative we are making sure that we are collecting data that tells us if getting to that goal negatively impacts us longer term. We then provide that feedback and proposed solutions back to the decision makers in the business.

As a disruptor within the market, what advice can you give fellow CX leaders to help them make customer experience a competitive differentiator in 2017 and beyond?

Love your employees. Nobody can act a particular way towards our customers if they don't know how that treatment feels themselves. Treat your staff the same way you want them to treat the customers.

Work with your team closely, share the objectives and end goals often and clearly. And as they are the ones who deal with your customers everyday, ask them how they would do it. Use data to validate and take calculated risks. Being a disruptor is imperative in any industry but if you done know why you exist or who you have with you, you can't add value.