Recently CXM had a pleasure of speaking with Hunain Shahid, Head of Innovation and Partnerships at Elixir Group. After working in roles around Private Equity, Project & Corporate Banking, Hunain Shahid joined Elixir Group as a leveraged finance expert and have progressed to head Strategy & Partnerships. Read below about Hunain’s expectations of the entries at the upcoming Gulf Customer Experience Awards and his personal focus for generating excellent CX.

· Could you tell us more about Elixir Group?

Elixir Group, headquartered in Dubai, is a diverse investment conglomerate driven by innovative ideas. Group’s aim is to enhance the future growth potential of businesses through leading-edge technologies and forward-thinking approach. Head of Strategy Hunain Shahid says he actively stays on hunt and seize the high-potential innovative business ideas and opportunities that create positive disruption and impact. Our knowledge, experience and expertise span across a variety of industries in different countries and are all rooted in transformative growth through innovative solutions.

Our team believes that success is achieved through consistently delivering excellence which creates positive impact. In a rapidly changing market, the definition of excellence is always evolving, which is why we quickly adapt to the change as well. We remain agile in adapting and responding to the change in the market without losing focus on our vision as well as stakeholder success. We are ambitious about driving growth through innovative technology, transforming and improving the world around us.

· From your experience, how fast has CX (Customer Experience) developed in the GCC region in the last 10 years?

This CX industry has changed over time. The way customers search, think and transact has drastically changed. Today’s customer is armed with the power of information or data at their fingertips by 24/7 and is now in the driving seat. If a business does not meet customers’ needs, there is always an alternative or a competitor which comes in with just a single click.

Let’s refer to some interesting insights in Customer Experience Excellence study conducted in 2018 by the KPMG. It says, an average Customer Experience Excellence (CEE) score is 7.22 out of a possible 10 as a standard parameter. More than half (55%) of the 44 brands included in the survey scored above average. We will talk about the UAE brands only due to the space constraints.

In the UAE, VOX cinema customers expressed the highest degree of loyalty, while state-owned Emirates Airline customers were most likely to recommend the brand, with an advocacy (Net Promoter Score-NPS) score of 54.09 vs the overall average advocacy score of 10.65.

Personalisation is crucial for customer engagement, perception and buying decision-making. Studies show that most brands fail to manage UAE customers’ expectations. Customer service standards here are changing significantly due to a number of public- and private-sector initiatives emphasizing the ‘customer happiness’. Many brands in the reported low score with respect to the ‘expectations’ which is considered the main source of friction in customer engagement.

So, what future trends we can expect when focus is on the customer (retention)? Top trends that will lead customer experience in 2021 are: Personalisation, Expectations, Resolution, Integrity, Empathy, and Time-Effort, the study sums up.

· What are your expectations of the entries at the Gulf CX Awards?

As usual, we are expecting top-class entries at the next edition of Gulf CX Awards. The awards have established themselves as the region’s premier celebration of excellence in customer experience. Every industry has been invited to nominate for themselves and show and impress the judges about how they are contributing to the growth of their business in particular, and to overall industry in general.

We believe the judges will find it tough to score the entries during the judging session because the participants are heavyweights in their sectors. We believe it will be an exciting experience for us to judge the insightful presentations by the participants.

The premium quality of awards and the leading participants will definitely serve to bring out the best for their customers. Elixir Group is excited to attend the awards distribution ceremony to be held in February 2021 in Dubai which will be unique welcome to the New Year.

· Given the shift in consumer behaviour, what does the future hold for CX?

Another consumer study reveals that today’s consumers feel extremely vulnerable when exposed to the public places, especially the crowded places when the positive COVID-19 cases are increasing. Seventy-seven per cent consumers say that socializing the way they did pre-pandemic is no longer comfortable. In this situation, technology emerged as a savior. Elixir Group analyses that brand behavior needs to match the consumer behaviour. There is an influx of new online shoppers adopting e-commerce channels. How a brand’s technological solution can give them a ‘normal’ experience? A shift towards AI and Chatbots is a panacea for today’s consumer. Former (Chatbots) is very important since we are expecting more changes in consumer behavior; AI’s speed and precision with analytics can help brands stay on top of customer experience, of course with the human insight, but AI accelerates speed and accuracy. in 2020, an unprecedented number of businesses are trying to harness digital commerce and not everyone is going to be great at it. AI fits-in here, fills the gap and allows newcomers to see what pain-points AI users come across. So future for CX includes AI, augmented analysis through machine-learning and natural language generation. It helps automate crucial data discovery and insights. Virtual Customer Assistants and Chatbots humanize the customer experience when the world feels cold.

· What is your personal focus for generating high CX?

For futuristic customer experience, Elixir Group is currently harnessing the ultra-high-tech personalized focus for generating and developing conversational Chatbots for customers. The bot (short for robot) is an application which ranges from customer-facing Artificial Intelligence (AI) Assistant. Such bots are programmed as support Chatbots, skill Chatbots, Assistant Bots, and Transactional Bots.

Experiencing the high business potential in this segment of the tech business, the market is flooded with investments in this fast emerging technology. Investments are coming from governments, healthcare institutions, manufacturing enterprises and so on.

· What are your personal motivations regarding this automation in Customer Experience?

My greatest ambition is to uniquely serving the humanity in general, and the customers in particular. That is why I want to become the pioneer in the Conversational AI industry in the MEASA region, which I believe is a highly underserved region. I believe ‘Bots’ have the capacity to eliminate manpower while increasing efficiency, a two-fold enhancement that is a requirement of every company to lower costs and increase top lines to inflate the bottom-line.

The golden age of conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is here. Total 1.4 billion people are using the Chatbots as we speak and this number is likely to increase exponentially in the coming years, maybe coming days.

To sum up, I believe the customer experience would be the top priority over the next five years as the SaaS companies are expected to increase revenues by $1 billion. Investing in innovative CX solutions hold the potential to double the revenue within three years of deployment of these solutions such as Al-based Conversational Assistants and Chatbots.

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