Paul Segre has Genesys poised for continued growth by studying what makes customers happy

Interviewed by Dustin S. Klein

Benchmarking is such a ubiquitous term these days in a business world where everyone wants to know how they measure up and whether their company is operating as efficiently as possible.

It’s just not something that Paul Segre has spent a lot of time worrying about to this point as president and CEO at Genesys.

“This may sound strange, but we haven’t yet said what the benchmark is that we’re shooting for,” Segre says. “What we’ve said is we want to enter into a continuous improvement process.”

Segre has been with Genesys since 2002, working first as the chief technology officer and then chief operating office before becoming CEO in 2007.

He also held a variety of executive management roles at Genesys’ parent company, Alcatel-Lucent, before the company decided to spin off Genesys to become a stand-alone business more than three years ago.

“Alcatel-Lucent was a great parent, but it just wasn’t their business,” Segre says. “It wasn’t core to them and they needed cash. So we were non-core, had a very good and motivated management team and we found a great investor in Permira and spun it out and haven’t looked back.”

Genesys has done quite well on its own, registering consistent yearly double-digit growth in revenue, including a record of more than $740 million in 2013. The company focuses on helping its customers provide great experiences for their own customers and has established a presence in more than 80 countries worldwide.

“McKinsey (Global Institute) has done a bunch of research that shows if you’re focused on providing ease of use around what we call customer journeys — a sales process, an on-boarding of a customer, a life event where it might be a renewal or some type of new purchase — if you’re focused on that end to end, the revenue growth of your company is 10 percent better and customer satisfaction is 20 percent better,” Segre says.

“The efficiency of your employees is between 15 and 20 percent better. And so we’ve been doing this at scale, and we’ve seen exactly those types of numbers, sometimes much, much bigger.”

A reason to wait

Genesys puts a great deal of thought into what it takes to make customers happy.

One of the most common pain points for customers of any type of business is the inability to reach a live person for support when they really need it.

So Segre and his team did a study on what is most important to customers in these situations. It took place at a telecom business that was focused on Net Promoter Scores as a key differentiator.

“It’s actually fairly common in the telecom industry to have a service-level agreement around getting to a live person in under a minute,” Segre says. “So we did a study of a large telecom company that wanted to target a live person. If you couldn’t get there in under a minute, they’d expand the pool. And if you still couldn’t, they’d expand the pool more. And the net effect of that was you would get to a poorly trained person because they always had to extend the pool beyond the trained people for whatever the task was.

“So we went in and did a study, and we found that for different types of transactions, people were willing to wait much longer — so long as they could get to the right person the first time and have the successful completion. And it turned out that it was actually dependent — the willingness to wait depended on what the task was. If it was a more transactional type of task like a pin reset and they wanted to get in and out quickly, they didn’t have a lot of patience. If it was a pretty complicated thing, you know, some complicated product maybe or a billing inquiry, they would be comfortable waiting a longer period of time.”

The study found that a big key to maintaining a high NPS is informing the customer about how long the wait time will be. When that’s done, customers tend to be more patient. Plus, there are fewer transfers because they get to the person they really need to speak to.

“You can show a very big correlation with the number of transfers to poor NPS,” Segre says. “So, their number of transfers decreased and customer satisfaction went up. At the same time, if you’re eliminating that number of transfers, you’re able to take a huge amount of cost out of the business because with transfers you get to the wrong person, talk for a fair amount of time and then they transfer you again, and you start the whole process again.”