A Conversation with Eric Carrasquilla, CMSWire Customer Experience Leader of the Year

“Look for the ‘sticky note’ moments”: Eric advises CX leaders to get on the front lines and invest time in truly listening to employees.

CMSWire‘s 2024 Customer Experience (CX) Leader of the Year is Eric Carrasquilla, president of Customer Experience for CSG. The prestigious award, which celebrates excellence in CX through collaboration and innovation, honors Eric’s exceptional contributions to the field.

We sat down with Eric to discuss the significance of his CMSWire win and his vision for the future of CX at CSG and beyond.

Congratulations on winning CMSWire‘s top award that honors your experience, dedication and innovation in the field of CX. Could you speak to your leadership philosophy that has contributed to this success?

If I had to boil it down, I would say my philosophy is “lead from the front.” Professionally, I’ve always been the guy to jump off the roof first, so to speak. I would never ask anybody to do anything I hadn’t already done myself or that I wouldn’t back them on when things got tough. Setting that example as a leader is very important to me.

You’ve built a career around innovating solutions to drive positive change. But it doesn’t happen overnight. What is one thing leaders can do today to improve their CX tomorrow?

Listen to your employees. Seek out honest feedback, even if it hurts. Spend time on the front lines. Go to a call center or behind the counter of a retail store. Getting out in the trenches is the only way to really understand what’s working and what’s not.

I remember when I visited a call center earlier in my career and saw an agent writing on sticky notes while he was on the phone with a customer. It turned out the system was so unreliable that employees were manually logging the information they needed. It was eye-opening. And I never would have gotten that insight without seeing it for myself.

So, my advice would be to look for those “sticky note moments”: on-the-spot observations that lead to breakthroughs.

Customer experience as a discipline is shifting under our feet—that was certainly emphasized in the 2024 State of the Customer Experience report that CSG published in March. What are some of the biggest shifts in the industry that we’re seeing right now, as we speak? 

Generative AI is here to stay. It’s a tectonic shift that I don’t think people fully understand yet, despite the chatter.

One of the challenges with more people going into digital channels is the “Siri problem.” AI assistants are sensational for lightweight needs, but you can only take them to a certain point before friction ensues. Generative AI will reach a level where it can handle heavy lifting for customer experience—it’s not 100% there yet, but it will get there. Until then, CX leaders need to get ahead by applying AI to practical use cases now, so that they can scale them once the technology advances to that next stage.

There are a lot of voices joining the conversation about what CX will look like in 2024. But what is everyone missing? What is an opportunity you’re seeing that you can’t believe no one’s talking about? 

Experience-led growth will be the difference-maker. We see this in the most successful companies, who treat the entire experience like a product. They know that it’s not just what’s in the box—it’s the whole process, from payment to onboarding to renewal. It’s about how you make customers feel from the first interaction through the entire lifecycle.

And if you look at the companies that are doing this really, really well—Netflix, Amazon, CVS—they did it out of necessity, because it doesn’t happen on its own. They have product managers for every step along the way and roles dedicated solely to the customer experience, that report to the CEO. The concept of experience-led growth exists outside of IT, even outside of customer experience.

What is the biggest challenge holding CX leaders back? How can they overcome that limitation?

One of the biggest obstacles for CX is organizational siloes. Customers just want to meet their immediate need. You’ve got 64% of customers saying speed is as important as price. They don’t want to have to talk to somebody on the phone and re-enter the same information over and over to solve their problem. Customers want it to be so easy they can multitask while they’re doing it.

But a lot of companies aren’t set up that way. They’re organized with an internal hierarchy where each customer issue is categorized into a “call center problem” or a “data problem.” And that slows things down when there’s crossover to navigate.

To solve that, companies need to refocus on nailing one piece of the customer journey at a time and eliminate those CX “papercuts” that cause frustration. Tackling more manageable “microjourneys” acts as a bridge to support the CX while you break down larger organizational siloes.

Leading the Customer Experience division at CSG, you’ve been behind significant product launches like CSG Xponent, CSG Xponent Ignite and Bill Explainer. What accomplishments are you most proud of in your tenure here? 

Two things. The first is the growth we’ve seen. Since I’ve been at CSG, we’ve doubled the size of the business and tripled the non-telco arm. That acceleration called for an adaptive leadership approach, and we’ve made a lot of great strides that I’m really proud of.

The second thing I take pride in is that my team has been at the forefront of the culture shift that came with that growth. We got people to think differently about CSG. Now, we’re showing them how powerful we are at CX—and we had a blast doing it. What CSG is doing is exciting. And it’s fun to make it happen alongside an awesome team.

What is your vision for the future of CX at CSG?

I’m excited about what’s next for CX at CSG. We’ve done some really cool stuff for our customers that has truly made the world a better place, but the Customer Experience team isn’t done yet. The more we can continue to solve our customers’ toughest business challenges, and the more we can lead companies to CSG and make magic happen for them, the happier I’ll be.

Speak with the CSG Customer Experience team to learn how we can help create effortless CX at your organization. Contact CSG.

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CSG Insights Team