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Adopting A Customer First Mentality | Aziz Razakov And Matt Chabrier

Adopting a Customer First Mentality | Aziz Razakov and Matt Chabrier
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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, we have Matt Chabrier as our honorary host and his guest, Aziz Razakov. Aziz comes to us from MoneyLion to spill the secrets on creating a customer-obsessed company culture during our Kustomer Now event. Tune in to learn more!

Perfection is Possible in CX

Aziz comes from a background in orthodontics, which set him up for a future of CX perfection. His experiences taught him that showing up for the customer should always be the first priority and at MoneyLion, that’s exactly what his team of CX experts do. Building a customer-obsessed company isn’t always easy, and can be quite overwhelming for new leaders in this sphere. Aziz suggests that a great way to be a customer-centric company is to cut down wait times. For his team, this means adding a chat function on every page where if a customer has a question, the answer is just a click away. He also suggests that teaching customers how to self-serve before ever contacting the CX team is another tactic used to boost CSAT scores, as it shortens wait time.

“The quicker you respond, the higher the customer satisfaction score is, and we see this even for dissatisfied customers. Their CSAT rating is higher if the response time is quicker.”

While bots might not be the most popular chat method among customers, Aziz finds them quite helpful for quickly resolving basic customer issues, or providing the correct FAQ information the customer needs.

The Omnichannel Experience

Part of being there for your customer is using their preferred communication channel, which ranges from phone calls to online messaging platforms. When a company is truly omnichannel, it means the agents are well versed in each of the communication channels they offer, and it also means that the company provides a seamless experience between platforms. For example, if a customer calls the CX team and the agent asks them to send pictures on Messenger of the product problem, there should be no delay or confusion about what the customer needs. A transition between platforms needs to be seamless meaning that no information is lost between channels when transferring customers. Aziz explains, “One key tip here is as you expand channels, for some reason, your volume goes up as well. So be prepared for that, but generally, the customer experience is improved.”

Prioritizing What Matters Most: Customer Complaints

This might seem like an odd concept, especially as complaints are typically seen in a negative light. In order to be a true CX leader or voice in the community, you need to shake things up a bit, and that’s exactly what Aziz does every day. He recognizes the value in customer complaints:

Only a few contact types really take prioritization and that would be complaints. And the reason why I say that is because once you receive a complaint, you’re assuming that the customer is already beyond that servicing window where they’re already irate. We don’t want to lose the customer. We don’t want to have their complaints sort of pour-over into social media streams or other channels. So I would say we prioritize complaints first.

To successfully handle these complaints, Aziz has an entirely separate team from his regular CX pros, of skilled agents who strictly handle complaints. This way there’s no overlap between service agents and complaining customers are met with in-depth knowledge about their needs.

Aziz leaves listeners with one last note, in hopes to push leaders to do their best in this space.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things and finally, obsess over customer experience. Maybe it’s part of your personality, maybe it’s not. But if you care about the customer experience, then you’ll always be focused on improving it.”

To learn more about adopting a customer-first culture, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

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Listen to “Putting the Customer at the Center of the FinServ Universe | Matt Chabrier and Aziz Razakov” on Spreaker.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Adopting a Customer First Mentality | Aziz Razakov and Matt Chabrier

Intro Voice: (00:04)

You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:07)

Hello and welcome everyone to today’s show. I’m Gabe Larsen, the Vice President of Marketing here at Kustomer and you’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast. Today I’m excited to share one the most popular sessions from our recent Kustomer Now annual conference – putting the customer at the center of finserv universe. Now, during this special session, you will hear from Aziz Razakov, Director of Operations at MoneyLion, as well as our very own Matt Chabrier, Regional Sales Director here at Kustomer. As financial management increasingly moves to this digital realm, clients, they have a lot of resources, options, and more freedom than probably ever before. Client loyalty is by no means guaranteed. Making exceptional customer service, the idea of unified data, and the highest standards in security, more important than ever before. We hope you enjoy today’s session. Thanks.

Matt Chabrier: (00:11)

Hi everybody at the Kustomer Now conference. Thank you for viewing this. My name’s Matt Chabrier. I’m a Regional Sales Director with Kustomer and have been with the company for a little over five years and in this space for a little over ten. Today I have the pleasure of talking with Aziz Razakov the Head of CX and Operations at MoneyLion. So Aziz, you want to take a moment and introduce yourself?

Aziz Razakov: (00:32)

Sure. Hey Matt, thanks so much for having me here. Very excited to attend the Kustomer Now conference and speak a little bit about my experience and share any tips and tricks with you all. So I work at MoneyLion, it’s a FinTech startup. We’ve been around since 2013 and I’ve been on the operations team the whole time, working on improving the customer experience, improving the agent experience and making servicing as seamless as possible.

Matt Chabrier: (01:05)

Great. Thank you again, Aziz for taking the time. Just curious, you mentioned growing along with the operations team the whole way, what led you to this position you’re in now of running the show, if you will?

Aziz Razakov: (01:18)

Yeah, so I sort of have an unconventional or rather unique background where I actually started my career in dentistry, orthodontics specifically where perfection is really important for both the provider and the patient. I’d say probably especially for the patient where everybody wants to have that perfect smile, but nevertheless, when I decided to transition my career, a lot of those skills in regards to seeking perfection were really transferable. So I found myself in the startup world and the fact that I ended up in finance was just by chance. But I knew in the startup world that I could make a big impact in a short amount of time and that’s what attracted me to the field. Yeah.

Matt Chabrier: (02:09)

Well, that explains your wonderful smile as well Aziz and I appreciate it. Your photo shows it too. You’ve been with MoneyLion now for a while and got to be fun to scale, and what have you seen change over the course of your career there?

Aziz Razakov: (02:25)

Yeah, I mean, working in the operations space in the customer service industry, I have to say over the years, it’s definitely becoming a more competitive landscape to navigate and certainly, this comes with its own challenges. It’s harder to increase brand affinity and brand loyalty amongst the customers is what I’ve seen. Nowadays, with the more recent generations, the customers became shoppers. They have so many options out there to pick from. So what they do is they go on Google, they read reviews, and anytime a better offer comes along, they sort of jump ship. So I have to say, it definitely became a little bit more challenging to win over customers that are here to stay.

Matt Chabrier: (03:14)

That’s interesting. How do you stay competitive, right? Whether that’s top of the review game or best offers, or how do you, how do you make sure that MoneyLion’s keeping the edge in that competitive fashion?

Aziz Razakov: (03:26)

Well, just looking overall, I’d say companies do this through several ways. One could be really focusing on the customer service experience to make sure that customers have an easy way to contact the customer service team and get solutions to their problems. Other companies focus on the product itself and making sure that people love the features and then finally, I see others do it through perks. I’d say maybe Chase would be a great example there where they provide a lot of perks for their, one of their credit cards and have won over the market. The way we do it on MoneyLion is we try to focus on all of them. It’s sort of a formula. We aim to ensure that the customer experience is the best it can be in terms of not just contacting customer service, but also the product and the person, the rewards that we provide. So we tackle this through every single avenue possible to ensure that our customers are here to stay. And finally, I, something that’s super important to us is we really listen to the feedback. We look at all the reviews we get across really every website that mentions MoneyLion, and we ensure that we analyze that feedback and implement the features or the improvements that our customers are looking for.

Matt Chabrier: (05:02)

That makes a lot of sense. Such a data-driven world we’re in right now.

Aziz Razakov: (05:07)


Matt Chabrier: (05:08)

Aziz, you mentioned truly attacking every angle and product and customer loyalty and the experience itself, I mean, operations and experience as a wide scope, do you mind telling me kind of specifically what role you’re playing in the effort?

Aziz Razakov: (05:23)

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m the director of platform operations. So I overlook the tech stack that the operations team uses to service our customers. My goal is to ensure that the customer experience, as well as the agent experience, is the best that it can be. I ensure that our customers have fewer hurdles or hoops to jump through to get in touch with customer service. I would say that’s my main focus.

Matt Chabrier: (05:58)

Well, that’s wonderful and no lack of scope and projects to be done there. I understand you were just working with the large onboarding product the last three days and still running. So again, thank you for taking the time here. If we were going to change tune just a little bit, over the last year and a half has been particularly interesting in the world for obvious and well talked about reasons, but I’m just curious, for you and MoneyLion and maybe the FinServ space in general, what changes does that bring about for you?

Aziz Razakov: (06:35)

Yeah, that’s a great question. So first of all, we have made it easier for our customers to contact us. We’ve now transitioned to a 24/7 support model. So a customer can contact us any time day or night. We increased the channels that our customers can contact us through. And we’re still actually working on that. The channels I’m mainly talking about could be really, social media avenues like Instagram and Twitter. Some customers like SMS, which is I think, a great servicing channel as well. As well as WhatsApp, that’s something that’s on our roadmap for the near future. So other than increasing channels and improving the hours that we’re available, we’ve also worked pretty hard to increase the visibility to our customers as to how they could contact us.

Aziz Razakov: (07:36)

Although contact mitigation strategies are important to ensure that customers can find self-service solutions and not every contact leads to a live agent contact, it’s also super important and you’ll see this through feedback, that customers don’t want to take too long to find your contact information. And then finally, I’ll touch on one more thing. Complaints, as I mentioned, to us or negative feedback reviews, super important to us. So we focused on creating a more seamless, internal complaints process where customers can submit a complaint to us and skip the tier one support channels to ensure that we resolve their issue as quickly as possible.

Matt Chabrier: (08:26)

Oh, that’s interesting and great prioritization. Aziz, you covered a lot there. So let me unpack some of this. You touched on contact mitigation and I’m familiar and so the audience knows that you’ve been using Ada as one of your primary tools. They bought the company for a number of years now, if I’m not mistaken with some success. Do you want to speak to kind of what’s working for you on that contact mitigation strategy?

Aziz Razakov: (08:55)

Sure. So as Matt mentioned, Ada is a chatbot provider and we do contact mitigation through like other channels as well. But what we’ve done is we put our heads together and analyzed what is some of the top contact reasons that have come into our world and we’ve used Ada to build out self-servicing flows to address those. And what we’ve done is we added the contact us sort of like chat icon across our app really on almost every single page. So anytime a customer has a question contacting us is right at the tip of their finger. And of course, the first touch that they have with our team is through the chatbot. So we’ve taken the time to continuously improve the chat by adding more content, adding more functionality where the chatbot is not just spitting out FAQs but is actually dipping into the database, making changes, and servicing the customer. And it’s been a huge success. I’d say, through our chat channel, we’re able to mitigate at least 50% of our contacts, which is huge, which is huge.

Matt Chabrier: (10:17)

Yeah. I think it’s important the audience realize, I mean, a 50% mitigation rate, you have to realize that the scope of services MoneyLion offers is wide and also complex. So to mitigate that percentage in such a complex environment is quite impressive.

Aziz Razakov: (10:35)

Yeah, absolutely. And that’s always one of our OKRs. The deflection rate, we’re always working on improving it. And at the same time, we don’t want to jeopardize the customer experience where a lot of people, historically, at least, aren’t fond of bots because bots seem sort of not as useful as a human can be, but that’s certainly improving over time. We’re not there yet, but it’s getting there.

Matt Chabrier: (11:05)

Awesome. Now, on that note, you mentioned new channels. WhatsApp is interesting because, still think of it as a primarily international channel, but I’m just curious if you’re thinking about it domestically, internationally, or just how you’re thinking about it in general.

Aziz Razakov: (11:24)

Yeah. So our product at the moment is limited to domestic consumers. So it is a domestic product. But it’s not so much as WhatsApp being a servicing channel of choice for us, but rather what the customers want. So if it wasn’t WhatsApp and it was WhatsDown, sort of a different app, we would use that as well. Um, so we are looking to expand across all channels where customers want to contact us. It doesn’t matter what it is.

Matt Chabrier: (12:02)

Yeah. That’s awesome. And makes sense. It’s wonderful that you’ve got such a customer-first philosophy there. If I were to put those things together, we mentioned bot over the chat channel, but if you could wave a magic wand, do you see bots or any sort of automation coming into play with WhatsApp, SMS, or Instagram or these other channels you’ve mentioned?

Aziz Razakov: (12:24)

Yeah. I mean, we certainly hope so. We want to make sure that there is an automated solution layer available on top of every contact channel that we have. But what I see as sort of the next step is assisted support where the bot is not responsible by itself for servicing the customer. But rather there’s an agent that sits behind the bot. The bot’s doing all the work and the agent is just sort of approving or denying the next move.

Matt Chabrier: (12:59)


Aziz Razakov: (13:00)

And I think over time that tech would get better where the bot could potentially service the customer themselves. But I think the next immediate step is just having that assisted functionality where the machine and the humans are working together.

Matt Chabrier: (13:16)

And that does seem too like it’d be the way to optimize for the best possible customer experience while still just staying as efficient as possible, and I love the balance you’re keeping there.

Aziz Razakov: (13:28)

Yeah, the last thing that we want or really anybody wants is the answer, “Sorry, I didn’t understand that. Can you repeat?” Right. Like you want to avoid that and that’s why having that human layer in the back of the bot to avoid that situation from happening and guiding the bot to the right place is super important in my opinion.

Matt Chabrier: (13:51)

That makes sense. You touched on something with the complaints and prioritization, and you’ve also mentioned a bunch of real-time channels. I mean, how do you prioritize over so many different real-time channels, complaints, a variety of customer base, and product and value? How do you build that engine?

Aziz Razakov: (14:14)

Good question. Generally, we service all our customers through like first come first serve basis. Only a few contact types really take prioritization and that would be complaints. And the reason why I say that is because once you receive a complaint, you’re assuming that the customer is already beyond that servicing window where they’re already irate. We don’t want to lose the customer. We don’t want to have their complaints sort of pour over into social media streams or other channels. So I would say we prioritize complaints first, and the way we do that is really by having dedicated teams for specific processes. So the complaints team is completely separated into terms of servicing from your customer care team.

Matt Chabrier: (15:15)

Great. Now that’s an interesting insight I appreciate and hopefully, the people listening do too. You mentioned also the complete process being relatively new or at least one of your projects over the last year and a half. Is there any advice you’d give your peers for rolling out that process or any of the items we’ve recently discussed?

Aziz Razakov: (15:40)

Yeah, sure. I would have a few suggestions. Number one, as when we like touched on brand affinity at the beginning of this call and brand loyalty, I would say the response time is super important to customers. I mean, you could Google it and find studies, but we also see this through our own internal data. The quicker you respond, the higher the customer satisfaction score is, and we see this even for dissatisfied customers. Their CSAT rating is higher if the response time is quicker. That would be number one. Number two, I would say utilize the proper CRM and servicing tools. You want to make sure that it’s easy for the agents to service the customer and there aren’t hiccups because they can’t do something. So we did just recently start using Kustomer and one of the core benefits that we see there is that the agent can see the historical customer contacts under their profile so they don’t need to navigate to different tickets to figure out what went wrong in the past. They have everything right there in front of their eyes. And that’s helped reduce their recontact rate and that’s helped improve customer satisfaction. Outside of the CRM and tools, I would say focus on self-service functionality. Obviously, we love to hear from our customers, we love to serve our customers, but if we can avoid having customers contact us to do just basic things, I would definitely focus on that. The next thing I would say is, when picking out tools, CRM, or whatever tools you guys use, I would highly recommend focusing on partnership.

Aziz Razakov: (17:45)

It’s extremely important to partner with vendors that have a similar vision as you, or even if not, they’re willing to assist you along the way. So to me, that’s probably one of the most important items. And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention data. Data is extremely important. So what we’ve done here is we’ve created a product operations team that sits as a layer between the product and the operations team, and they act as the voice of the customer. And really what they do is they look at per product, because we have had several products, we have a dedicated analyst, Per product, they look at contact volumes, just overall complaint volumes, negative review volumes, positive review volumes. And they take all that information and distill it into decks that they can present to the product teams as well as exco teams to pitch what type of improvements we can make to improve the customer experience. So I would say those would be the five things: response time, proper tools, self-service functionality, partnership, and data analysis.

Matt Chabrier: (19:09)

Well, one, thank you for that. And I do appreciate the Kustomer plug. We’ll keep those sprinkled lightly. But thank you. I want to double click on a couple of those, Aziz, with responsiveness, and I don’t want to put you on the spot for metrics you can’t tell everybody, but do you think there’s kind of an industry-standard or baseline that others in a consumer-oriented maybe FinTech or another kind of key apps should have in mind for responsiveness and does it change per channel?

Aziz Razakov: (19:43)

I don’t know how it is across various industries but I do know and finance, at least, that customers want a response as quickly as possible because their money is at stake. So what we aim for is a 62nd response time across our live channels, which is voice, phone calls or live chats. And even then I would say customers probably see room for improvement. There are certainly some key players in the space that you call them and they pick up the phone immediately. But I realized that for a lot of us here, that is a costly solution to be able to staff up to a point where your answer speed is 20, 30 seconds. So that’s why I sort of definitely want to highlight that focusing on self-service tools and functionality within your app or your service, whatever you do, goes hand in hand with response time.

Matt Chabrier: (20:50)

I appreciate it. And one thing that’s always interesting to me is getting that feedback to the product team to go see where we can just reduce areas that create these problems or questions to begin with. So crucial. How have you gone about building out that culture at MoneyLion? Because it sounds like once the deck is made, it largely informs what happens if I’m understanding correctly. I mean, how did you get to a machine where everybody’s bought in that way with the CX data?

Aziz Razakov: (21:22)

Yeah, I mean, that sounds cliche, but it is sort of in the DNA of MoneyLion and I would say that comes, trickles down from the CEO. Our CEO is hyper-aware and focused on the customer experience and the features on the functionality we have in the app to improve their experience. So I would say it comes from the top. But just in general, always being a squeaky wheel also helps. Obviously, as we present our challenges to the product team, the product team may have their own priorities that they’re working on, but being that squeaky wheel and demonstrating how winning together, which is one of our, win together is one of our hashtags, at MoneyLion but demonstrating how winning together helps each other’s priorities would probably be my advice.

Matt Chabrier: (22:22)

I love it. And I’m going to assume hashtags mean a key company value.

Aziz Razakov: (22:27)


Matt Chabrier: (22:27)

Welcome to our generation. Thank you.

Aziz Razakov: (22:30)

Hashtag welcome.

Matt Chabrier: (22:33)

We’ve touched on a couple of tools, but I know in past conversations you mentioned some others, are there any other tools that have helped you over the last year and a half that you think just other CX leaders ought to know about?

Aziz Razakov: (22:48)

Well, a lot of folks use the voice channel as a primary servicing method. So as we continue to go digital, I would say, transitioning voice calls, like typical voice calls to in-app calling to me is pretty important. And we do use UJET for that. The reason why is because in-app calling provides a more authenticated experience. You expose it to customers who are already logged into the app. So you’re sort of improving their experience because they don’t need to like verify themselves over and over again. That’s one. Number two, I would say in-app calling comes with distinct features. In our case with our provider, we can verify the customer using their face ID or fingerprint, whatever their phone supports. We can request photos, videos, proof of whatever issue they’re having right then and there.

Aziz Razakov: (23:54)

So I would say, and I’m calling this as a good tool to lean on. And then let’s see, what else? As I mentioned, the omnichannel approach, expanding the channels that you service your customers on. One key tip here is as you expand channels, for some reason, your volume goes up as well. So be prepared for that, but generally the customer experience is improved because they know they can you through several means. And then another tool I would say that’s helped us or is in the progress of helping us is automated QA. You want to, you want to onboard a QA tool that can transcribe your voice contacts into text, particular live chat contacts, and run at least the first preliminary analysis on which contacts are resulting in unsatisfied customers, which contacts are resulting in agents breaking policy, and in that way, your QA is certainly more focused. And you’re not just randomly picking a contact. Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s not. You’re really focusing on the areas where you might be bleeding.

Matt Chabrier: (25:21)

How do you put your own personal energy into QA among everything else going on in the org or is that it’s own function on your team?

Aziz Razakov: (25:30)

It is its own function. For me, once again, from the platform side, I’m responsible for identifying and implementing the right QA solution, and from there on it’s out of my hands,

Matt Chabrier: (25:47)

Thanks for the clarification. I think we’re getting low on our recording time. Aziz, what, last couple thoughts. What does the next year, or what does the future look like for your org or for MoneyLion’s CX going forward?

Aziz Razakov: (26:03)

Yeah. I’ll keep this brief because I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but continue to expand servicing channels. SMS is probably a top focus right now. We’re just playing around with it, experimenting. But we certainly want to expand into that area. Customers nowadays, they definitely, I would say, prefer async methods of contacting us. When it comes to live chat, if the customer doesn’t respond within a few minutes, say five minutes, ten minutes, you’re going to have to end the chat. But if their issue isn’t resolved, they’re just going to come right back to you in an hour or two, and that sort of creates a new conversation all over again, their journey restarts. So you know they’re already probably not that happy because they had to do it again.

Aziz Razakov: (27:00)

So that’s why expanding on asynchronous channels, where if the customer chooses not to respond for an hour or two, it’s okay. Whenever they choose to respond, that’s when we’ll get back to them as well. And then the second piece is the self-service piece. We are continuing to identify the top reasons that customers contact us for that we can actually resolve through app functionality. So if the customer’s contacting you to update a payment date, maybe you should have that in-app so that it doesn’t go to a live channel.

Matt Chabrier: (27:39)

Awesome. No, again, thank you for the insights. Any final thoughts for the audience regarding what we’ve discussed, how they should think about next year?

Aziz Razakov: (27:54)

Yeah, sure. Just my advice. So number one would be to use your own product. I notice that lots of folks may have mobile apps or whatever service that they’re focusing on, but they don’t actually use it themselves. To me, using my own product, the company that I work at, really gives me insights into the customer experience and I’m super focused on the customer experience just overall. Even when I go out to eat, I’m always judging the meal, the service. So when I use the app, I set expectations as to what I want to see from the app. So use your own product because it’ll give you ideas on how you can improve it. Number two is don’t be afraid to try new things in the space.

Aziz Razakov: (28:52)

So something that we’ve tried during the Corona year, is to cut out live contact channels and go a hundred percent digital. We ran this experiment for about a week. Certainly had interesting findings and outcomes. And we did decide to go back to including live channels as well, but we had a lot of findings through that experiment as to what we can automate and what we can’t. And it was certainly a bold move to do that for a company that services over a million customers. So don’t be afraid to try new things and finally, obsess over customer experience. Maybe it’s part of your personality, maybe it’s not. But if you care about the customer experience, then you’ll always be focused on improving it.

Matt Chabrier: (29:48)

Awesome. Now I think I’ve got a lot of faith for those who took the time to, to watch our video to do that.

Aziz Razakov: (29:55)

I hope so.

Matt Chabrier: (29:56)

Yeah. Aziz, this has been insightful for me. I certainly think will be for those that listen. Again, just to reiterate, Aziz Razakov, Director of platform operations for MoneyLion. Really appreciate your time and thanks for taking the time for Kustomer Now. Have a great day.

Aziz Razakov: (30:14)

Thanks Matt. And if anybody wants to reach out to me and get some more insight, I’m happy to help. I’m learning myself as we go along. So looking forward to talking to you all.

Matt Chabrier: (30:29)

Awesome. Thanks.

Exit Voice: (30:35)

Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.

Special thanks to our friends at Kustomer for their insights on this topic.
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