AiThority Interview with Lisa Woodley, VP of Customer Experience at NTT DATA Services
Could you tell us about your interaction with the new-age technologies like AI, Machine Learning and Automation in the IT industry?
We’re leveraging Machine Learning to deliver real-time, data-driven experiences for our client’s customers, employees, and partners. By connecting Data Aggregation with Machine Learning and platform-based APIs we’re able to collect, analyze, and react in real-time to customer interaction data allowing us to orchestrate the customer or employee journey in a way that is most meaningful to them.
We’re looking at how we can leverage AI and Virtual Agents to change the contact center experience for many of our clients. We identify where best to apply virtual agent and leverage the same kind of Data Aggregation and Machine Learning to make the virtual agent smarter and better able to address or triage issues.
For Automation, my focus is really two-fold. First is in the workplace, where we focus not on how we can replace humans with bots, but on how we can take the bot out of the human and allow them to focus on more important human work. This means looking at a day in the life of an employee, understanding what repetitive tasks are impacting their ability to do more important tasks, automating those tasks, and empowering the employee to shift from mundane to meaningful work.
Second, is in the customer experience. What friction are complex business processes creating for our clients’ end customers? What can be automated to create a smoother experience?
How did you start in this space? What galvanized you to start at NTT DATA?
I have a somewhat unorthodox background for the industry. I have a degree in Philosophy and English with a minor in Psychology. I began my career as a self-taught designer and worked my way up to Creative Director at an Advertising agency, but became dissatisfied with the work I was doing. I was less interested in leveraging design and human understanding to sell things to people and more interested in leveraging it to change the way people live and work. When I combined that desire with my educational background and lifelong love of science fiction, working for a technology company focused on human-centric innovation and transformation just made sense.
What is NTT DATA and how does it leverage customer experience technology in its Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?
Could you tell us about your recent study on the role of technology in digital workplace transformation?
We recently conducted an online survey of 250 executives at Senior Manager level and above to understand how they’ve approached digital workplace transformation and what kinds of outcomes they’ve seen as they roll transformation initiatives out. What we found is that technology needs to be secondary to the experience and that a people-first approach where understanding the needs of the employees and choosing a technology roadmap that best meets those needs yields greater success.
Which technologies and solutions did you study to distinguish companies as Leaders, and Laggards?
The distinction of experience leaders and experience laggards in our study isn’t focused on a technology or a solution. It’s focused on people. We found companies who take a people-first approach when undergoing digital workplace transformation see some compelling benefits, like increased productivity, a more innovative culture, and improved retention over those who take a technology-first approach.
How do you see global Customer Experience scenario evolving? Which technologies have been the biggest disruptors in this industry?
The single biggest disruption in the industry has not been a technology. It’s been an approach. Take Uber, for example, one of the biggest industry disruptors out there. Uber didn’t invent a new technology – the technology behind Uber had been around for years. They invented a new experience. They looked at the experience of taking a taxi, identified the friction points for the end customer, and created a new experience that leveraged technology to eliminate the friction.
This scenario is playing out over and over again in nearly every industry. Netflix outplayed Blockbuster by changing the experience. Airbnb disrupted the hospitality industry by changing the experience. Any company in any industry needs to take this kind of experience-first approach to technology if they want to stay competitive.
How do you compare between the pace and outcome of Digital Transformation in North America with that in Asia, particularly focusing on the U.S., Canada versus China and India?
Digital Transformation in the U.S. and Canada is in many ways about making our existing products and services better, faster, or easier—but for emerging and rapidly growing economies like India and China it’s often about providing products and services via digital channels that might otherwise be unavailable. For this reason, the rate of adoption for things like digital healthcare and mobile payments is often greater. Take financial services, for example.
Emerging economies are skipping that middle step of a traditional bank account, credit card, and bank branches, and jumping directly to on-demand mobile payments. They’re adopting non-traditional means of banking because traditional means have never been available to them.
What lessons can laggards in Digital Transformation learn from the leaders? How can they leverage NTT DATA solutions to bridge the gap?
The single biggest lesson is to let the experience drive the roadmap and the solutions. NTT DATA is a global innovation partner to our clients, and while we can implement just about any kind of technology solution, we always start with the human. What is their current experience interacting with your company? Where are the points of friction? This gives us a starting point. From there we bring together experience designers, technologies, and customer representatives to envision the future state that leverages technology to reduce friction and change the experience.
Once we have the current state customer journey (where you are) and the future state customer journey (where you want to be) we can prioritize impacts, identify gaps and create a transformation roadmap that clearly lays out the prioritized initiatives required to get you to your future state. Measurement is key to all of this: before, during, and after transformation. We develop CX KPIs up front to understand what success should look like and how we will measure it—and we measure continuously as we roll out initiatives for our clients. This allows us to course-correct as we go and ensure we’re meeting all of our transformation targets.
What are your predictions on the future of CX in 2019-2024? How can business owners safeguard against these challenges using NTT DATA?
The intersection of CX, Data, Privacy, and Security is and will continue to be center stage. As the demand for frictionless, real-time experiences that just work increases, so do the threats to privacy and security. Companies will have to strike a balance between protecting consumers’ privacy and data and providing them the experiences they want.
Security that is implemented, without thought to the impact on the experience, results in consumers circumventing the very measures put in place to protect them. Experiences designed without thought as to how they will be secured risks inviting breaches that result in long-term damage to a company’s brand.
At NTT DATA, we embed CX and security into everything we do. We strike a balance that provides security and privacy in a way that facilitates customer trust and satisfaction. We partner with our clients to strike that essential balance.
What is your opinion on “Weaponization of AI and Machine Learning”? How do you promote your ideas in the modern Digital economy?
Data is the single biggest driver of great CX—knowing the customer or employee, predicting their needs, delivering the service they expect. But just collection the data isn’t enough. Even getting insights from the data isn’t enough. Being able to transform real-time data into real-time action, leveraging data to predict what a customer will need and crafting the experience around that, that’s where AI and machine learning become a factor.
One example is something we recently did for a financial services client where we leveraged our proprietary machine-learning platform to listen to voice recordings of customer service calls, categorize the calls, and help the call center agent respond with the best answers to the customer questions. Further advancements in voice sentiment analysis can take this idea to the next level—where you can determine customer satisfaction in real-time and adjust the experience as needed.
What digital technology start-ups and labs are you keenly following?
I’m fascinated by any of the labs that are taking an interdisciplinary approach to technology and innovation that looks at the impact technology has, and will, have on humans and society. This kind of interdisciplinary focus is essential if we are to ensure innovation is driving toward a common good.
To this end, NTT DATA sponsors an annual open innovation contest where we invite start-ups and entrepreneurs from around the world to enter their business and technology challenges in a variety of categories. NTT DATA then works with the winners of the contest throughout the year to build out their idea and help them succeed. Innovation is in our DNA so we want to inspire others.
What technologies within your industry are you interested in?
I’m most interested in technologies that focus on predictive data and leveraging that predictive data to craft real-time experiences for customer and employees.
Which superheroine character/ movie do you most profoundly relate to?
As a child, I read A Wrinkle in Time and became obsessed with the idea that a young nerd girl could save the universe, and it started my lifelong obsession with Sci-Fi. That expanded over time, and as I grew older I started to realize that my favorite female heroes were the ones who were underestimated—the ones who turn the idea of being rescued on its head and end up doing the rescuing themselves. Princess Leia from Star Wars, Ripley from Alien, Sarah Connor from the first Terminator, Leeloo from Fifth Element. So while I’d be hard-pressed to list just one, it all started with Meg Murray.
As a CX tech leader, what industries you think would be fastest to adopting AI to make Marketing and Sales operate with smooth efficiency? What are the new emerging markets for these technology markets?
Any industry that relies on building sales via long-term customer relationships, superior service, and increasing wallet-share should be the ones with the highest rate of AI adoption for Sales and Marketing. Leveraging AI and Machine Learning to get predictive about customer needs and the ability to present the next best action at the right time in the right way doesn’t just lead to more sales but greater loyalty as customers view you as a partner who understands them and has what they need.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
As with many of us, email is the enemy of my productivity, but I find the hack of shutting it off for portions of the day unrealistic, and it often leads to an overwhelming backlog. Instead, I scan it regularly. I delete anything not immediately relevant to me, file anything that’s FYI only, and flag anything that I’ll need to think about or respond to. I then set aside a portion of the day to go through the flags and respond.
I’ve also banished all social media apps from my phone and keep my social activity to two designated times during the day. Tweeting and posting is part of my job, but it’s very easy to get sucked in and lose precious time without even being aware.
Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read
Kate O’Neill @kateo
Thank you, Lisa! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Lisa Woodley has nearly 20 years of experience bringing tech and business people together to design new experiences. As VP of Customer Experience at NTT DATA, Lisa leads her team in bringing the customer experience perspective to technology innovation to create experiences that drive business value. In addition to her role at NTT DATA, Lisa is an adjunct faculty member at Rutgers University where she teaches User Experience (UX) Design as part of the Masters of Business & Science program.
NTT DATA Services partners with clients to navigate and simplify the modern complexities of business and technology, delivering the insights, solutions and outcomes that matter most. As a division of NTT DATA Corporation, a top 10 global IT services and consulting provider, we wrap deep industry expertise around a comprehensive portfolio of infrastructure, applications and business process services.