Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
expert
Expert with best answer

Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

284 Meetings

1,396 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

2

Answering very broad question: "New VP Customer Service - what would you talk to him about?"

Hi,

what would be your best practice answer to the following question:

"A large electricity provider just appointed a new VP of customer service. You have a meeting with him in two weeks. He probably wants to increase customer service and reduce costs. What would be the things that you prepare and pitch to him at the meeting?"

I just had this question in a last round partner interview for a consultancy with a technology focus and feel like I completely failed it. The partner encouraged me to solve it on a whiteboard and I drew out a matrix of customer service and cost as well as several of the major technologies I suspected to have an effect on this in the electricity industry (IoT, Chatbots, Process automation, service load forecasting using AI). Then went on to explain the matrix intersections and how the I thought the technologies could be used to improve customer satisfaction and cost. The reaction of the partner however was really "indifferent". She just looked at me when I was finished talking without indicating whether the answer was good or bad. After a while she asked some questions like "What are the VPs goals" and "What about the customer perspective", in response to which I could not really contribute any additional meaninful information. After that she said we will go to another case and estimate the number of service reps of this company. The "indifference" continued from then on in the rest of the interview.

I am quite rattled and unsure whether this cost me my interview and if my answer caused the partner to mentally reject me and therefore turn off for the rest of the interview.

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this.

Hi,

what would be your best practice answer to the following question:

"A large electricity provider just appointed a new VP of customer service. You have a meeting with him in two weeks. He probably wants to increase customer service and reduce costs. What would be the things that you prepare and pitch to him at the meeting?"

I just had this question in a last round partner interview for a consultancy with a technology focus and feel like I completely failed it. The partner encouraged me to solve it on a whiteboard and I drew out a matrix of customer service and cost as well as several of the major technologies I suspected to have an effect on this in the electricity industry (IoT, Chatbots, Process automation, service load forecasting using AI). Then went on to explain the matrix intersections and how the I thought the technologies could be used to improve customer satisfaction and cost. The reaction of the partner however was really "indifferent". She just looked at me when I was finished talking without indicating whether the answer was good or bad. After a while she asked some questions like "What are the VPs goals" and "What about the customer perspective", in response to which I could not really contribute any additional meaninful information. After that she said we will go to another case and estimate the number of service reps of this company. The "indifference" continued from then on in the rest of the interview.

I am quite rattled and unsure whether this cost me my interview and if my answer caused the partner to mentally reject me and therefore turn off for the rest of the interview.

I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this.

2 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

284 Meetings

1,396 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

CS VPs care about multiple things: why do customers feel the need to contact us, and how do we reduce that need? are they satisfied with the wait time? are they satisfied with the service? how many times do they have to call to get resolution? Are we meeting them when / where they are (i.e., email, call, text, chat)? Are we doing all this at an appropriate cost? Do we need to outsource to an offshore team (e.g., India) or near shore (e.g., Guatemala if based in the US), or on shore (better accent)? each will have a different mix of customer service quality (including accent), direct cost and agent retention.

Depending on which retailer they work in, they may also need to be plugged into the acquisition / retention efforts, as well as cross selling for example. Another big one would be minimizing the formal complaints to the CEO (VP's boss' boss probably), board, politicians, media...

As you can see, this goes well beyond technology and many of the objectives / concerns conflict with each other. At the beginning of the case, you would have needed to take a minute to think and come up with a framework. Here are a couple, off the top of my mind:

- (1) Customer Satisfaction + quality of service, including issue de-escalation; (2) Staffing decisions / technology & cost impacts; (3) other ways to add value to the company

- Another framework could be along the various stakeholders: (a) keep customer happy; (b) keep staff & contractors happy; (c) keep hierarchy happy

Hope this helps?

CS VPs care about multiple things: why do customers feel the need to contact us, and how do we reduce that need? are they satisfied with the wait time? are they satisfied with the service? how many times do they have to call to get resolution? Are we meeting them when / where they are (i.e., email, call, text, chat)? Are we doing all this at an appropriate cost? Do we need to outsource to an offshore team (e.g., India) or near shore (e.g., Guatemala if based in the US), or on shore (better accent)? each will have a different mix of customer service quality (including accent), direct cost and agent retention.

Depending on which retailer they work in, they may also need to be plugged into the acquisition / retention efforts, as well as cross selling for example. Another big one would be minimizing the formal complaints to the CEO (VP's boss' boss probably), board, politicians, media...

As you can see, this goes well beyond technology and many of the objectives / concerns conflict with each other. At the beginning of the case, you would have needed to take a minute to think and come up with a framework. Here are a couple, off the top of my mind:

- (1) Customer Satisfaction + quality of service, including issue de-escalation; (2) Staffing decisions / technology & cost impacts; (3) other ways to add value to the company

- Another framework could be along the various stakeholders: (a) keep customer happy; (b) keep staff & contractors happy; (c) keep hierarchy happy

Hope this helps?

When I hear "customer service", I'd think of customer intimacy being one of the three 'market-leading' attributes, as per the book, Discipline of Market Leaders. There was another book during that period. The Innovator's Dilemma. And there you go! Digression city! I'd have wasted a few minutes and my case interview would be over - lol.

Anyhoo... getting back on track... Guennael is spot on. His approach might be something for you to consider.

I'd first want to know the VP's goals. Maybe the VP's boss wants certain things done? Maybe the company wants to promote themselves being 'green'? Like Ecotricity?

Electricity suppliers work with tight margins. 5%? 4%? Cost might be a goal. Reducing churn reduces costs. Acquisition costs are higher than retention. You can reduce churn with better CS.

Maybe need to improve client profile? Or up sales? I dunno... like talking about smart meter when CS rep is solving customer issue? Or trying to get customer to go dual fuel?

Anyhoo.. that's how I would have done it. I'd have asked what the VP wanted to achieve. His or her goals. Might even have had the goals as 'branches'. Then, since it's a tech-focussed firm as you say, show how relevant technology (e.g. M2M, as the OP noted) can be used to help VP achieve goals.

When I hear "customer service", I'd think of customer intimacy being one of the three 'market-leading' attributes, as per the book, Discipline of Market Leaders. There was another book during that period. The Innovator's Dilemma. And there you go! Digression city! I'd have wasted a few minutes and my case interview would be over - lol.

Anyhoo... getting back on track... Guennael is spot on. His approach might be something for you to consider.

I'd first want to know the VP's goals. Maybe the VP's boss wants certain things done? Maybe the company wants to promote themselves being 'green'? Like Ecotricity?

Electricity suppliers work with tight margins. 5%? 4%? Cost might be a goal. Reducing churn reduces costs. Acquisition costs are higher than retention. You can reduce churn with better CS.

Maybe need to improve client profile? Or up sales? I dunno... like talking about smart meter when CS rep is solving customer issue? Or trying to get customer to go dual fuel?

Anyhoo.. that's how I would have done it. I'd have asked what the VP wanted to achieve. His or her goals. Might even have had the goals as 'branches'. Then, since it's a tech-focussed firm as you say, show how relevant technology (e.g. M2M, as the OP noted) can be used to help VP achieve goals.

Related case(s)

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 17.7k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.6 5 628
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Roma Solutions - Senior/ Expert Level Tech Case

Solved 300+ times
Roma Solutions - Senior/ Expert Level Tech Case Let’s say we’re working with a large Tech company (i.e. FB, Apple, Microsoft etc.). They are interested in getting into the low-code iBPMS space. This is a space where pseudo-code is used to deploy large-scale process-based IT applications rapidly (in months, not years). In particular, they’re looking at a company called Roma, which is one of the leaders in the space. What are your thoughts here? *box-open blue* You can clarify the following (if asked) iBPMS  - Intelligent business process management suites. Think SAP for example. They are IT systems that take users through business processes. The business model of these Tech firms is primarily to find ways to integrate diverse offerings/capabilities to build better products and ecosystems.  Therefore, technical synergies are important here. The market is fairly competitive with about a dozen players. Roma is a market leader in this space, vying for 1st against 2 competitors. The top 3 dominate the market.*box-close* 
4.3 5 3
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

Let’s say we’re working with a large Tech company (i.e. FB, Apple, Microsoft etc.). They are interested in getting into the low-code iBPMS space. This is a space where pseudo-code is used to deploy large-scale process-based IT applications rapidly (in months, not years). In particular, they’re look ... Open whole case