Marcela Lay Interview

Marcela Lay, VP CLient Services, Y Media Labs

Tell us a little about your background in CX. How did you get started in Customer Experience?
I worked at a hotel as a receptionist while I was putting myself through college. If there was an industry that understood customer-centricity back then, it was the hotel and tourism industry. Through their many guest-centric training exercises, it just became part of my DNA, and that has helped influence the work I’ve done for brands like Delta Air Lines, State Farm, and Lowe’s Home Improvement.

How would you define Customer Experience?
An internal and subjective response that customers have to any direct or indirect contact with a company. It implies the customer’s rational, emotional, sensorial, and physical involvement from a set of interactions between the customer and a product, a company, or part of its organization.

What would you say is the biggest challenge in providing excellent customer experiences?
Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many Fortune 500 companies, and the most significant challenge these organizations face when trying to deliver an excellent customer experience is the lack of customer-centricity.

Unfortunately, many organizations still have an inside-out perspective. And this challenge only exacerbates when you add their silo mentality, their lack of data consolidation for a single view of the customer, their technical limitations due to legacy systems, and – for the most regulated organizations – their legal team’s unwillingness to rethink regulations that have been written many decades ago.

What advice would you give to professionals looking to get into the customer experience field? (e.g. Field of study, How do they get experience?)
First, it would be helpful for people to understand that our CX profession accounts for six extensive capabilities: Customer-centric culture, Organizational adoption & accountability, VoC, customer insights & understanding, CX strategy, Experience design, and finally Metrics, ROI, measurement. Once you understand what is available, you can look for opportunities that match your passion.

Secondly, if anyone is trying to get the most exposure to customer experience, I would advise a career on the agency side. Digital experience agencies allow you to have the maximum exposure to multiple business/industry challenges; you get to collaborate with various disciplines and form unique strategies and solutions that address problematic journeys from the customer’s perspective.

What are some things that you feel will have the biggest impact on customer experiences in the next 5 years?
Intelligent technologies will have the most significant impact on customer experience. AI will lead a new era of Smart CX, where data will drive exceptional connections between brands and customers across all moments in the journey. AI will finally enable brands to anticipate customer needs and to personalize and contextualize their customers’ experiences.

Ray Kurzweil predicts that our neocortex will be connected to the cloud by 2030, and before that, IoT and wearables will connect our passive data to power higher personalization, prediction and emotional responsiveness across all parts of the day, across all actions within a customer’s journey.