Customer service costs: what are we talking about? – E55 with Vincent Placer

Release Date: 04. January 2022

Customer service costs: what are we talking about? – E55 with Vincent Placer Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX Goalkeeper had a smart discussion with Vincent Placer

LinkedIn Headliner: CEO @Teletech | Nous prenons soin de vos conversations client

In this episode we discuss about:

  • Some insights on the ECXO
  • to link costs and returns early in the innovation process
  • investing in CX leads to return in the medium and long run
  • understanding the cost to serve
  • the 3 fields to optimize costs

… and much more

His book suggestion:

  • Noise; Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein
  • Introductory Statistics; Thomas H. Wonnacott, Ronald J. Wonnacott

Vincent’s golden nugget:
«Join the ECXO!»

«Join the ECXO!» @PlacerVincent on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast in collaboration with the @EuropeanCXOrg

How to contact Vincent:

Thank you, Vincent!
Thank you, ECXO!

#customerexperience #leadership #cxgoalkeeper #cxtransformation #podcast #ecxo #costmanagement


Gregorio Uglioni 0:01
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the CX goalkeeper podcast. Your host, Gregorio Uglioni. Will have small discussion with experts, thought leaders, and friends on customer experience, transformation, innovation and leadership. I hope that you will enjoy the next episode.

Ladies and gentlemen, today is really, really a big pleasure. I have Vincent Placer avec moi (with me). Hi Vincent, how are you?

Vincent Placer 0:30
Hi, Gregorio, fine. Very happy to talk to you today.

Gregorio Uglioni 0:35
Thank you very much. I’m really happy to have again and great ambassador from the European customer experience organization with me to start a discussion today it will be all about cost management and how to interact and work with this with this cost in order to and I’m quoting what you already told me to get more for the equal or equal for the less and I think it will be outstanding, but before we deep dive in this in this topic, Vincent, could you please introduce yourself?

Vincent Placer 1:08
Okay, so, Vincent, I am in charge of an agency in France, which we which is dealing with customer experience, was working both in the consulting field, field and also in the customer feedback management, we have a SaaS platform to, to handle that. So we are very focused on customer experience and customer relationship. The company has more than 18 years of existence, and I joined six years ago. Now, and that’s exactly that. And I’m working on the client marketing field for about 20 years working in the telecommunication industry and the consulting field for for all these years.

Gregorio Uglioni 1:56
Thank you very much Vincent this was if somebody was looking for that, the explanation, how much experience Vincent, as in this field, and in this topic, and therefore, I’m really thrilled to start the discussion. But before we discuss about your daily job, one question or some questions on the European customer experience organization, why do you think it makes sense to have an European organization?

Vincent Placer 2:27
I am participating in some local association, but I think it’s very important to also have Pan European clubs where we can exchange it with other country. Even if there are some, some some, some part of the customer expand that may be very specific to any culture, it’s important also to see author experience and see how you can transfer some bow because there are some very fine ideas that can come from Sweden, from Italy from Spain, some of them may not be applicable to the to the French market sometimes, but some other could well be very good. Very good practice that you can you can adapt. And the idea of sharing in in a European club is very interesting. And what when Ricardo and some of the ambassador came the idea was also to say, okay, a lot of the of the production about customer experience is led by United States, which is great, they have great content, but having something which a kind of group producing rich content at the European level, I think it really matters. And that’s why I wanted to join the this initiative.

Gregorio Uglioni 3:48
It totally makes sense because at the end, we have also different cultural setup, not saying what is better or what is worse, but it’s different. And therefore it’s important also to share knowledge, information, and really great example about European Europe, because we have this example and it totally makes sense to to share them. You have let’s say additionally to your daily job, this great title, Ambassador of the European customer experience organization, what is the role of an ambassador in this community?

Vincent Placer 4:24
The role of the ambassador is of course to make the association to be more famous in your local market. So for my case, I am ambassador for the French for the French pathway. When I have business contacts in my daily job. I present to the people that work with the association to say okay, if you want to join there is a great opportunity to have a community walking around Just in my experience in Europe, so advocating the, the, the, the the community, and at the same times we’re in a joint effort with all other ambassadors trying to work on how to develop that. So bringing some support when there are some, some events, some conference bringing a try to bring ideas. Of course, it’s always a challenge, because we know that time is limited. And sometimes joining in a podcast and discuss with very experienced people to thank you

Gregorio Uglioni 5:35
very much. And this is always what I am say saying, and therefore, I cannot repeat that because you said that, but this is the big opportunity that I have as a member to speak with the ambassador, I spoke with people from Spain and recare, from Switzerland Federico with you in in France. And it’s really great to have such discussion, because it’s at the end, we learn from each other. And this is the outstanding part of being part of such a community. Now, also, thank you very much to the thanks to the European customer experience organization, we can discuss on how to reduce the cost of remote customer relationship. And I think this is something really, really interesting, but it’s extremely important nowadays. Let’s say we can say during COVID, or after COVID, depending from the different views, but at the end, we are also coming to the end of the year, it means the pressure on cost increase and increase and increase, perhaps could you start sharing what are your thoughts around this topic and why it makes sense to look at the cost in customer relationship?

Vincent Placer 6:47
Yeah. But it’s interesting, we see it in our assignment, we have many clients that are very interesting in developing their customer experience, but you cannot say even if it is, it is something that will bring value in the end to your business, you cannot have unlimited resources to develop it, it’s not possible to have in a company we say okay, you have unlimited resources. You can you can spend as much as you want on with regard to this topic, you can have large resources, medium resource base, more resources, but never unlimited. So, we start to to discuss with some of our clients who say, Okay, I am spending the right amount, to what extent I could have even a better experience with what I what I spend, because sometimes you may invest in some things that does not produce the result you expect to the idea is not to say, customer experience is a cost center, which is not, not at all my opinion, it’s to say, okay, with the budget I have, how can I do the best I can so either I want to have, as we say more for less, which is to say a more for equal, which is to say, Okay, I want to I have this amount of 100% of my budget, I want to have a better quality, where I should invest a little bit more where I should divest a little bit, which is a first topic or I say, Okay, I’m happy with the customer experience that the the the customer having today in our company, it is a standout we want that to reach, could I do it for is a bit less, and which are the two situation in which we are dealing with this idea of finding the right level of investment in your company compared to the customer experience, and the customer satisfaction you want to reach? And that is a trade off, which is interesting. And it is a very tough question. Because at the beginning of the customer experience by reading, we start with swag with some ideas where money doesn’t count. Okay, sorry, for a while money didn’t count, but really soon financial financial department come back and say, Hey, guys, we are spending now 100 of of kilo Euro, our millions and where that it goes, how much at the end of the day we make in terms of additional sales. So it’s interesting to have the topic and I’m very sure that at the end, because we measure that on the other end that investing in the customer experience leads to business value creation in the medium and long run.

Gregorio Uglioni 9:28
Yes, and it totally makes sense. And I really like how you started this discussion to three comments from my side. First of all, its cost management because it’s what you’re speaking about. It’s not only for companies that are facing issues, but are also for company that are growing because if your number of customers, let’s say increasing also linearly, you cannot increase the number of employees working in your in your company also in this way, because at the end you cannot always increase increase increase and therefore Cost Management is extremely important. And speaking about customer experience or customer service, at the end customer, customer, these departments are not cost center, because this is the old fashioned idea that they are cost center, these departments create value, they can be really a value generating engine of the business because they have contacted interactions with the customer, they can speak with them, they understand the customer. And all these these these relevant topics I wrote also chapter in one book customer experience three, about value generation in customer service. But now it’s your interview. And I know that you have also framework how you proceed doing this analysis? Could you please share that with us?

Vincent Placer 10:46
Yeah. So this is an issue, we have several assignments on that. The first thing, which is important to know is that we have lost a little bit in the company we see now, the cost to the idea of the cost to serve a customer generally, when we start to speak with people who say, Okay, we would like to have a better experience for the same cause. But we say, Okay, how much do you spend? And the answer we get is different from company to company, some are only counting the, the amount of the money they give to their external partner in client service and say that the amount of my customer relationship and we say, Okay, are you sure? And the people that are managing them? Do you count them? The the IT development you have made to have the tools? Do you count on them? So so we have started to produce a framework, which is not something that we will say it’s a standout for everybody, but just a process to say, Okay, let’s have, let’s try to have a right starting point to say okay, how much do you invest in customer experience and customer relationship, taking into account digital transparency to the organization and start to say, okay, and and compare it with the number of customer you are dealing with? Or the number of sales you are making today? Or the number of interaction and to say, Okay, with this number, which is now on the table? How are we happy with that? For example, if we say, okay, we invest, I don’t know, 150 euros per year for managing the customer experience and customer relationship with the client? Are we happy with 150? If we if we have a business of maybe, I don’t know, a revenue of 1500, we would say, Okay, why why not fine. If we have a revenue of only 300? We’d say, okay, maybe it’s high at the end. So where are we? Sure. So that’s the idea to have the first number and say, How are we happy with this number? Were we expecting this number? Are we happy with it? And now what where we go and that’s the first step to be sure that everybody in the company is aligned? And no, and nobody would say, that is not what we invest in that that’s the first starting point. Very important. Basic, it’s not rocket science, it just try to have a good perimeter. I know that you love the sport, it’s like the it’s like the ground field for the soccer play, we know where the ground field is now. And now we say okay, when we move where we want to move in into that

Gregorio Uglioni 13:34
Yes. Now that I think it totally makes sense and what what you’re saying with with my with with my words is unit to measure that because what you’re not measuring you cannot improve you cannot check and you cannot control and therefore, it totally makes sense. And basically Sorry for interrupting exactly what what you’re saying and you define what to measure and what are the next steps.

Vincent Placer 14:01
Yeah. So, when we have this starting point, we we identify generally three broad level in which you can optimize optimize your, your, your cost for client service, and customer experience, the first one is around contact avoidance. So, in the customer interaction you are dealing with there may have some of them that have neither value for you or the company and for your clients. For example, typical example in retail customer calling just to know where when our store open, does not make me any joy in my day as a customer and at the same time for the company to very basic answer I want to add so of course it’s a very easy example but There are some other, where you can find that you could manage the interaction delivering the same experience at the end of the day, by finding some way to eliminate those low value interactions. So that’s the first step to say, okay, at the end, it cost less because we don’t, don’t end on anymore. With human, this low value interaction, my customers are not less happy, because we are we have kept all the medium and I value interaction and with that we don’t change. So that’s the first level. And it’s a, it’s something where you look at the journey around the steps, you look at the interaction you have, and you and you question, either internally or coming back to the to your clan, do you? Do you feel it is important to talk with us? Right at this point, and when you see that the majority said, the value is not so impressive, and we don’t expect to be delighted there. You could say, Okay, could I find some digital alternative that would add or simplify merge on it so that this question, don’t even raise any more so that you were to have this facade, that’s a first area where you can improve.

Gregorio Uglioni 16:17
And I think it totally makes sense back to what I wrote. And it’s exactly the same, what you were saying is the value irritant matrix, you need to identify the interaction, but create values, and you ended this interaction in a different way than the interaction that are irritating. And exactly what you are saying from both point point of view, from the company point of view, but also, also from the customer point of view. And based on that, then you can focus on on really generating value. One topic, it’s cost avoidance are other topics that you are taught you touch base.

Vincent Placer 16:53
Yep. So the second layer where you where you can find some way to deliver. And the same experience for for lower cost is to go to the operational excellence in your operation. So what we see is that sometimes, by looking at the way you enter your processes, looking deeply in the way you are organized, looking on the way you are training people, give them the right tools and so on, there are areas to improve the speed, the quality of the service you deliver for more optimized cost at the end. So again, the idea is not to say customer expanse cost too much, the idea is to say we don’t have to offer pay for it at a certain level, because the money we could save there could be invested in something in a more premium services elsewhere. So the idea, again, is not to say we want you to cut costs, just for the sake of cutting costs is to say, we want to be efficient enough to be to have resources to make them somewhere else. So on the on the operational excellence, strong improvement realizing process, we have in our company, some process engineers that are working to really redesign some processes. And sometimes you see that you can save a lot of time internally, even improving the quality that you serve at the end because it’s it’s less costly, but also it’s it’s more quick, and the customer is also happy when you say okay, it goes quicker at the end. So there are so organization, process tools, and people on operational excellence. Of course, it’s not easy, because there are many here, there are many example of things you can do. But it’s really a second part of your operational excellence, and a way to optimize your cost of customer experience and customer relationship.

Gregorio Uglioni 19:13
Clear this is extremely important and you’re mentioning also about quality, quality ELPS externally with customers, because if you don’t make mistakes, you don’t have interactions and on the other sides also internally because if everybody needs to take a task and interaction or something in DNS twice or three times, then it cost and it brings no value added normally the best thing are always three and you mentioned two pillars, is there a third pillar that you would like to share with us at the end

Vincent Placer 19:44
also, another opportunity to you can consider his regarding especially for customer interaction management, you can go to the externalization of some part of the ID and what is stressed him in in our discussion in It’s at some time, it is a first driver to what people are thinking. The idea is to say it’s a driver, but it’s not the only driver. So it’s interesting. So you can have an external partner that can brings you an Enders for you part of your customer interaction in the journeys, either it is only a local partner, you can have some for some interaction, you could also decide to go near shore, or something that to optimize the cost to enable this interaction in a way that is more efficient for you and is suited to the kt you want to equate you want to deliver. And this kind of partner can sometimes brings your so some expertise, some additional tools, or things like that. So it’s not just about the cost, it could also be a partner, that adds some experience and some people that are more trained, that the one you have inside your company, because there are some, some of them have 1000s of people that are only attending customer interaction. So there may be a little bit more efficient that the one the team of 10 or 12 people you have inside because you don’t have the critical mass to be as efficient at them. So that’s not only about cost, it’s also about being efficient there. But that also a level and and the ID is not to say there is one of these level that is better than the other GSD is to say, let’s make an audit of your situation and see where you can where we can play the if the contact of a downspout has already been tackled, okay, maybe there is no more improvement there. Now, let now let’s look to the operational excellence. Let’s see the opportunity to outsource some of the of the team and see if it’s relevant for you. And the idea is to say, Okay, we are agnostic, we don’t want to have a preferred level, we say what’s best for you.

Gregorio Uglioni 22:03
Exactly. And I think from from my point of view, speaking about outsource, this is one opportunity. But at the end, you need to know what you want to measure because you need to define as a company, what are your targets, first of all. Secondly, it’s important also to work on the conduct avoidance, because it doesn’t make sense to do this split or send all the contacts to the outsourcing partner, if you can avoid such discussion, and operational excellence, if you improve your processes, then also your outsourcing partner can work in a proper way can work better. And then at the end, you have again, again costs props for a less cost, perhaps for less, but at the end, you really need to work on operational excellence to have fixed issues that you have. And then you can also outsource

Vincent Placer 22:57
I want to do I want to share an example because, of course I cannot what exactly is the client because it’s configured confidential. But for a company we we worked with, we identified more than 20% of, of cost saving that were available for them, even with some improvement in their customer satisfaction. We it was a situation where this topic Adam been looked at for a while. And they could even do less cost for more experience because there were there were some huge improvement and so on. And when we start working with them, when we look at the budget and the customer interaction, we say guys, you are not working in that field, but your cost per interaction is Ayers and luxury luxury Maison we are working with and you don’t deliver an experience at that standard at all. So the problem was there. So if you are delivering the same experience, we would say, I’m fine. That was my ambition, okay, but it was not the case. So so so that was a starting point where they were massive work to do and we work with them for about one one short year. But there were a lot of things to do and they could have all the three levels activated, they could avoid contact but be better organized, and they could outsource some of their activity.

Gregorio Uglioni 24:26
Thank you very much. I think this is the great closure of this second part of the discussion. Now we are coming to the third part of the discussion. And this we would like to learn a bit more about you Vinzenz the first question I would like to ask is, is there a book that you would like to suggest to the audience because you’re saying this as me during my career or and my development

Vincent Placer 24:51
so I didn’t prepare the question but I have a book I so I would present a book. I’m reading right now because it’s related some to To, to the customer experience because it’s a book called the “noise”, which is from Professor Dr. Daniel Kahneman, which is a economic Nobel Prize and the French professor, which is Olivier Siboney. And this book shows and goes into the judgment errors. And they show that as human, we tend to rely on some processes like for example, judging, putting some grades, rankings, even jewelry in some, in some price. And many of these judgments maybe float some time, and they, the prison that and they also present some ways to try to rationalize and how to be to have a judgment process, which is better. So that’s one of the of the book recommend, and not a joke. But one of the book, I like is a statistics manual from the US because the the textbook from the USA are very good, which is called basic statistics from Thomas H. Wonnacott, Ronald J. Wonnacott, which is a very classic in the US a old textbook I have worked on. And I think that sometimes when we look at the customer experience will, we may have a tendency to look very much at the qualitative issue, which is very important and so on, but sometimes being able to make some quite quick calculation, having some idea of what is an average, what is the what is a way to analyze NPS figure is it representative isn’t something you can completely avoid. So, I would say that, for me, I am coming from the data science, even if at that time, it was not called data science, it was called data mining, and so on. I am always happy to look back at those statistical problems I had, and try to be aware that we need to be very careful with numbers in our daily life.

Gregorio Uglioni 27:16
Thank you very much. I think these are two outstanding books. And if somebody would like to connect with you what’s the best way

Vincent Placer 27:26
if somebody wants to connect with you, I am very present on LinkedIn. So on LinkedIn, you find all my contact details. So anybody can reach me via LinkedIn. And generally, when we, when everybody, when someone reached me to engage conversation, I try to respond to 100% of the solicitation. Of course, those who are just presenting their product with no idea to exchange and less responsive to that, as everybody better always happy to exchange with new new person coming from either France or other country.

Gregorio Uglioni 28:03
Thank you very much. And Vincent is also active on the European customer experience organization. And you can contact him also through this platform.

Vincent Placer 28:11
Exactly, exactly. The mighty networks perhaps can also be a way to, to to be rich, quite easily. We have a mailbox inside the app. So I can also be joined this way, as well.

Gregorio Uglioni 28:26
Thank you very much. And the last question is the golden nugget question. And it’s something that we discussed or something new that you would like to leave to the audience.

Vincent Placer 28:36
One of the golden nugget is to say join the ECXO community. If you have not already met Done that join the community come to come to the forum, share ideas, ask questions, it’s very important that we have some some issues around that. That’s the the main call to action. I wanted to close our discussion today.

Gregorio Uglioni 29:04
Thank you very much, Vincent. It was really a great pleasure we discussed and really important topic. Also, now that we are coming to the end of the year, and everybody speaking and looking at cost and also preparing them their forecast for next year. I think the solution or what Vincent told us it’s really important and really relevant in customer experience. I hope that the audience enjoyed this discussion as much as I did, because it was really a great discussion. Thank you very much, Vincent.

Vincent Placer 29:34
Thank you very much. Gregorio. You either have a good day. And thank you for your support to the ECXO Association.

Gregorio Uglioni 29:43
Thank you very much. And also, I wish you a great day. It was an outstanding discussion grazie mille, arrivecerci.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share the word of mouth. Subscribe it, share it. Until the next episode. Please don’t forget we are not in a b2b or b2c business we are in a human to human environment Thank you

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