Ayesha Rashid is a regionally renowned Customer Experience management professional, thought-leader, and business strategist with 20 years of experience under her belt.
She has an intrinsic understanding of conducting business across multiple sectors including telecommunications, retail, media, hospitality, banking, and financial services.
Ayesha enjoys working with businesses designing end-to-end differentiated customer experiences, relevant to the new consumer in a digital world.
An upcoming role for Ayesha is as judge at the Gulf Customer Experience Awards, and she told CXM World how she believes companies can excel at offering an unparalleled journey for customers…
Can you give us a brief insight into your Customer Experience expertise?
Starting out as a commercial marketer working with some market leading brands, I’ve always had a strong bias toward customer relationships and the importance of advocating the end user.
Over time my passion for the subject has come into full fruition. In an economy where experience is everything and can make or break a brand, I love helping organisations build customer-centric operating models and value propositions to ultimately drive growth.
Product and brand differentiation are no longer defining success factors in the experience economy of today.
Customer Experience is holistic and all-encompassing, from the very first contact through to the last. The start point for this is ensuring colleague engagement and satisfaction.
My guiding principle is essentially the service profit chain in terms of how colleague productivity impacts customer loyalty and then business performance.
Based on this premise, I help business leaders to rethink and reshape defining customer experiences, ie: rational satisfaction underpinned by an emotional connection.
My expertise spans critical elements including undertaking relationship-based research; deploying design thinking tools; crafting customer journey mapping; identifying and implementing initiatives; meaningful measurement; and last but certainly not least, stakeholder engagement.
This is a multi-faceted strategic skill set at the intersection of digitization, customer centricity, and business transformation.
Opportunities have taken me across the globe to very different markets with wide-ranging stakeholder mindsets
I tend to gravitate toward industries which are more susceptible to digital disruption. This is where ramifications lie if the customer is not put front and centre.
Roughly four-out-of-ten incumbents (market share) by industry will be displaced by digital disruption over the next five years.
In your opinion, what are the most important qualities required to excel at Customer Experience?
It’s a discipline that is becoming the epicentre of any business model. Technology innovations and connectivity has seen soaring customer expectations.
So, at the core, it is now about organizational change. The foundation might be digital but the challenge has changed – the opportunity is about increasing performance.
This is not A to B and we are done. It’s a journey which requires strong leadership qualities – empathy, credibility, and confidence. One must be tenacious, flexible, and resourceful. Lots of enthusiasm is needed.
What significant challenges have you faced to get to where you are today?
I love my vocation so I’ve never really seen anything in my path as a significant challenge; I roll with any punches and keep my eye firmly on the prize!
I’ve had the opportunity and chance to influence some potential barriers, namely working within traditional infrastructures, legacy systems, infrequent interactions with customers, and poor data.
This has meant change can sometimes be slow. Depending on the company culture and mindset there can be varying degrees of resistance, which is to be expected.
However, I’m delighted that I’ve been able to drive the rhetoric and create new thinking to better socialize the value of Customer Experience Management (CEM).
What are the common mistakes made by organisations when it comes to Customer Experience?
Businesses I’ve worked with are progressing their customer strategies and are engaged in Customer Experience initiatives, which is just wonderful to see.
It’s about approaching things differently, which in the ambiguous and complex world we live in, is not so easy or straightforward. Sometimes there are oversights. For example, trying to differentiate across too many touch-points where, in fact, the trick is to ensure competency across them all.
No one directorate or individual should oversee CEM. It’s absolutely not a peripheral activity. It must be endorsed top down and part of everyone’s remit. It is truly an end-to-end discipline.
A high percentage of businesses are not setting the baseline or clear outcomes for the future state and therefore there is a perception of minimal returns on investment, or that it simply takes too long and so work may get abandoned.
What are your thoughts on getting certified in the Customer Experience industry?
The certification debate is an interesting one. I’m in two minds when it comes to certification.
The rationale of certification is good – it encourages consistency in terms of competency levels and adds credibility and standard to the discipline. For the individual, it’s a great and valuable way to consolidate and rubber-stamp knowledge.
It also offers up a sense of community and a platform for like-minded people to knowledge-share. However, certification doesn’t automatically mean an individual can deliver a job better. My reaction to certification would be ‘It‘s good, but show me what you’ve worked on’.
It’s not a solid substitute for one’s track record or portfolio.