Naren Dukkipati, Senior Vice President, Software Engineering, Mastercard

July 21, 2022
25 min

Are you closing your feedback loop? More importantly, do you have the right stakeholders involved across your organization to do so?

Naren Dukkipati, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Mastercard, says building the optimal structure to collect feedback, internally and externally, allows you to create a seamless brand experience.

In this episode, Naren shares how Mastercard leverages technology to meet the customer where they’re at and collect feedback so it can be filtered back to people who can implement it.

Listen in to learn more about setting up a robust feedback loop and using it to elevate your CX.

You’ll learn:

- Get customer feedback to the product and services team so it can influence the product roadmap

- Consistency is key to CX, eliminate siloed efforts to create a seamless brand experience

- Use technology to support employees and safeguard your brand from mundane mistakes

Listen For:

[03:05] The connection between engineering and CX

[04:34] Mastercard’s definition of customer experience

[06:05] Building a technology stack for feedback

[08:33] Creating seamless brand experiences

[09:56] Leveraging tech for an enhanced employee experience

[13:15] Measuring the success of self-service efforts

[17:32] Achieving a unified CX approach

[22:25] Naren’s CX advice to other organizations

Naren Dukkipati
Senior Vice President, Software Engineering
Mastercard

Naren Dukkipati:

Build the infrastructure, build the tools where you can hear the feedback from the customer. And that feedback would be the most important, valuable thing for you. Rather than trying to create something assuming that the customers would like, build and they'll come, go the other way. You collect the feedback from your customers, iterate your product, iterate your service, and then go in front of the customer.

Speaker 2:

Flourish CX, the only show helping CX leaders do one thing: empower their customers. Each episode democratizes best practices while leaving you feeling both inspired and equipped to take action. Let's get to it.

Alon Waks:

We all know what they say about making assumptions, right? Well, as customer expectations continue to rapidly evolve, doing so is a risk no organization can afford.

Alon Waks:

I'm Alon Waks. This is my curtain call as the host of Flourish CX. In this episode, you'll be hearing from the new voice of the podcast, Shannon Katschilo. Shannon is vice president of strategic sales at Zoomin, and she's here to share her unique perspective on CX. But enough from me. I'll let her share more about herself. Thanks for listening. I hope you've learned as much from my time as a host as I did.

Shannon Katschilo:

Thank you for the introduction, Alon. Before we dive into my first episode, I want to say that I could not be more excited to be here. This podcast speaks to me because I am highly passionate about helping organizations of all size increase their customer experience.

Shannon Katschilo:

My first conversation is with Naren Dukkipati, senior vice president of software engineering at Mastercard. In this episode, Naren and I discuss his foolproof playbook for creating a robust feedback loop to ensure customer satisfaction. But Naren gives us just as much weight to the employee experience, and he details the technology systems Mastercard has in place to make their employees feel supported and valued.

Shannon Katschilo:

As you listen to this episode, I would encourage you to ask yourself, within your organization, are you closing your feedback loop? And do you have the right stakeholders involved across the organization to do so?

Naren Dukkipati:

So Mastercard, as you know, is a global brand, a technology company, and we use our expertise and technology to make payments simple, safe, and smart for people across the globe. My role in Mastercard is to lead the technology team for global customer care, focused on providing cutting-edge technologies for our internal employees, as well as our customers, to provide an omnichannel self-service experience for our customers to make it simple for our customers to work with Mastercard.

Shannon Katschilo:

That's incredibly interesting that you're in engineering, and the connection to customer experience ... Again, it's so unique that you have this role within a really large financial service company. Would love to hear the connection between engineering and customer experience.

Naren Dukkipati:

My team services customers across 174 different countries in 65 different languages, and we interact more than 15 million interactions on an annual basis with our customers, whether it is B2B or B2C customers. My role and my team's role is pivotal in making sure that we provide a good experience to our customers. The organization is looking for my team is around providing that seamless experience for customers, right? But it is self servicing capabilities in terms of providing an omnichannel experience as well as a platform or a systems tools for our internal employees for them to have those interactions with our customers.

Naren Dukkipati:

An example I'll give you is when we had COVID hit two years back, my team was responsible to move the channels in a lightning speed. When contact centers were being closed across the globe, my team was responsible to move the traffic to different parts of the world where people are still available to answer customers' calls. And at the same time, provide self servicing capabilities for our customers so that way they don't have to wait in lines for long, long time. So my team plays a pivotal role in terms of providing those capabilities for Mastercard and our customers.

Shannon Katschilo:

We're going to be talking about customer experience. I often find there are many different definitions of CX. Would love to hear from you on how you define CX at Mastercard.

Naren Dukkipati:

We have fully embraced the notion that customer experience will be a critical factor in elevating our brand and establishing a competitive differentiation in a rapidly changing payment space. How we do that is through harmonizing our brand identity, driving innovation, and creating exceptional experiences to our customers.

Naren Dukkipati:

So it's not a one-time thing of how CX works. It's an ongoing journey. It's a continuous journey in terms of how we build that experiences by taking feedback, both solicited and unsolicited feedback, from our customers, putting that into our roadmaps and driving our technology as per the needs of the customers, and driving our experience to make sure that whether they are in one product of Mastercard or in an aquired product of Mastercard, we still provide the same experience.

Shannon Katschilo:

When we were first introduced and I was looking at your role, I was really excited because often the discussions around customer experience are pretty theoretical and high level. And I thought was really interesting about our discussion is that we could dig a little deeper and talk about the technologies. And you just mentioned how feedback is captured and then driven into the product roadmap. Can you give us a little bit more of a sense of that tech stack and how you integrate it along the customer journey to then solution and have a direct impact on that experience? Maybe could you take us through the technology from the onset of the customer journey and run us through that process?

Naren Dukkipati:

The way we have built the technology stack is ability to get that feedback at every interaction with the customer. For example, we service the customers across multiple channels, and our guiding principle is we meet the customer where they're most comfortable with. We don't force the customer to go to a specific channel. We have omnichannel experience.

Naren Dukkipati:

And the way we collect feedback is if it is through an email, get the text out that's coming in from the emails. If it is speech, if they're coming through a phone channel, we are able to capture the speech analytics as well. So collecting that information right will help us provide the sentiment of how the customer is feeling about a specific interaction, and we can drill down to a specific case level of what the customer is feeling about at that point of time for a product and service.

Naren Dukkipati:

So what we ultimately do is when we capture that information, whether it is speech analytics or text analytics or a survey, we provide that firsthand information back to our product and services team, where they can actually influence the product roadmap based upon how the customer is feeling about a specific interaction. That would drive the technology stack, or that that would drive the technology roadmap, aligned with what the customer feedback is and what the customer is expecting from Mastercard.

Naren Dukkipati:

Another important thing that we have also done at Mastercard is we have combined the product engineering team under one organization, which means that they are both working towards a similar objective or same objective, so that the product is always providing that feedback loop on what the customer interactions are. And then the technology is evolving to the needs of the customer. And that's how we have made sure that we continuously listen to the customer and take that feedback very seriously and put it back to the roadmap.

Shannon Katschilo:

In my experience, that's pretty unique. I think a lot of organizations really struggle around how do we keep the customer top of mind, central in our organization, with not just our frontline staff, the people that are interacting with our customers, but how do we do that, as well, for the supporting cast, our engineering teams.

Shannon Katschilo:

It sounds like what you've done at Mastercard is really build robust feedback loops so that everybody has experience and is listening to the customer and feels like they're having an impact. Is that new? Or has that always been a part of Mastercard's DNA of having that united front on the customer?

Naren Dukkipati:

Well, it's not always there, right? I think we have learned as we have evolved as an organization. We have also understood that what we are putting in front of the customer is not always very consistent, and it is not always harmonic to what the customer expects from Mastercard. And in some cases, it was very disjointed. It was very siloed.

Naren Dukkipati:

So we took a step back, tried to understand what are our touchpoints with the customers. And it's an ongoing journey. I won't say we have mastered this or we have completed the journey. It's an ongoing thing where we took our pain points, and we took our top case volumes from our interactions with the customer, and then have developed a roadmap on how to evolve this end-to-end journey with the customer. And we have asked the product and services team to make sure that we take consistency and we take our branding into consideration when developing products and the interactions that involve the customer. So that's how we started the journey. And it is an ongoing thing, and we continue to evolve as we go through that journey.

Shannon Katschilo:

That's really interesting. And again, thank you for sharing. I think a lot of organizations are struggling with that, and it seems like low-hanging fruit. Not only does that type of mechanisms drive an exceptional customer experience, but I'd love to hear your perspective, as well, around technology and how you're leveraging that to also drive a great employee experience.

Naren Dukkipati:

On the customer front, it's always important that we leverage the experience data and feedback to influence the product and service improvements across end-to-end journey. While we do that, it's also important that we take care of the employee experience.

Naren Dukkipati:

Right now, if you look at our organization, we have done a considerable amount of work to improve that experience because there's so much manual processes across our own internal organizations, whether it is copying of data from one system to the other system, keying in information, or the manual work that is involved on a day-to-day basis.

Naren Dukkipati:

So what we have done is we have included technologies, such as robotic process optimization or system-to-system integration where possible, to reduce that toil across the internal organizations to make sure that our internal employees are focused on the right things, and high value things, as well, to ensure that they feel more valuable. And at the same time, reduces your mundane jobs as well as reduces the day-to-day keying in or manual processes that could even cause a lot more damage to the brand reputation, because we are keying in information in some of our core systems that would cause a lot of errors when doing it manually.

Naren Dukkipati:

So there is an equally important focus on employee experience, as well, to make sure that the branding is safeguarded, as well as employee experiences taken into consideration.

Shannon Katschilo:

I'm such a big proponent that the customer experience starts with an enhanced employee experience, and having access to the right technologies can make such a huge impact in the day-to-day lives of employees so that they are, again as you said, like not working on mundane activities and can really have an impact when they are interacting with those key customer moments of truth.

Shannon Katschilo:

So want to switch a little bit to capturing feedback, how you're taking that feedback into your roadmap to really invest in various parts of the customer journey to make it more self service, and again, make those moments of truth enhance. Now, on the solutions side, would really like to hear a little bit more around technical documentation and the impact that that has at customer experience at Mastercard.

Naren Dukkipati:

My team is responsible for delivering technical documentation to our customers. And as you know, our business is a little bit unique, where any changes we do in our core systems impact our customers. So whenever we make a quarterly release to our core systems, we got to provide release and technical documentation to our customers, which then basically they use to code their systems to make sure that any new changes in our systems would rightly impact them.

Naren Dukkipati:

So it's very important, right, not just from technical help aspect, but a documentation specification is key. And not all documentation and specification can be shared across all of Mastercard customers. So there is strict guidance and strict regulations around who has access to what.

Naren Dukkipati:

Leveraging the Zoomin platform, what they have built is a robust authentication authorization mechanism where only customers who have access to those documentations will be able to view it through our portal called Mastercard Connect. So the customers who are logging in to Mastercard Connect, using the access privileges that we have built in using the Zoomin platform, will be able to only view documentation that they have access to, and they would be able to basically code against that specification.

Naren Dukkipati:

So we deliver close to 2,000 announcements to our customers on an annual basis, and this process of making sure that it's a seamless experience for them is a key thing for us in making sure that our customers have the right information at the right time and in a seamless fashion.

Shannon Katschilo:

Can you talk to us a little bit more about how you measure the success of the self-service efforts that you've deployed? Would like to hear a little bit more about how successful those campaigns are.

Naren Dukkipati:

There's multiple ways of doing it, right? One is we have an online auto mechanism for these announcements where customers can actually say how useful the documentation is for them. That provides us with information how it has been useful for them, and if they have any kinds of feedback on that type of documentation. They can provide that in a seamless fashion when they are on that particular document itself. That would then feed back to our product managers. Then basically can use it for enhancing it or making the changes as required.

Naren Dukkipati:

The other one is unsolicited feedback where we actually meet with them on a quarterly basis, and then they provide feedback on how the documentation's working for them and what enhancements can be done. So there's multiple ways.

Naren Dukkipati:

And then there's also this voice of customer, voice of internal customers, as well. That would provide us with tons of data where we can make improvements on how we can better serve the customer in terms of documentation.

Naren Dukkipati:

The other part of the content is while we're talking about the technical specification, the other important aspect of content for us is the knowledge articles, where we still have the content for our agents, which is basically when the case comes up, the agent would have access to knowledge articles. So we use artificial intelligence where we can serve the content or the knowledge articles based upon what case they are dealing. Right? So it's called the Next Best Action for the agent where they know what they need to look at at this point of time. And when that content is available for them, they would be able to close the case much more effectively.

Naren Dukkipati:

And at the same time, what we are also doing is on the back channel, we are publishing that content in a much more easily accessible fashion for our customers. So that way, they don't even have to reach out to our agents or our channels to ask for help. And that help is readily available for them online, as well.

Shannon Katschilo:

I would imagine it's having a really big impact on your support cases and efficiencies across the organization. By making that information readily available. Have you been able to quantify the impact of the self-service initiatives on any ROI on support cases in reductions across the organization?

Naren Dukkipati:

The accessibility of knowledge articles to our customers is just happening at this point of time, but there are cases where we are able to measure the success of self servicing in various different channels. For example, the digital agents or the digital assistants, such as IVR, we are able to handle 70% of our cases directly through IVR, not even touching any of our agents or any of our level two support at all.

Naren Dukkipati:

So all of that is being done through automatically answering by plugging in to the back-end system, whether it is gift card balances or your loyalty benefits or any of the customer calls for us. Right? For example, a huge case volume driver for us a reset passport or reset token. One of the things that they're currently working on is how do you automate that, as well, so that they don't have to call us? That service is readily available. So we measure that based upon historical case volumes for a specific case type, and be able to measure the success, whether it is working or not, and what further enhancements can be done on that particular self-servicing capabilities and how we measure the success of self servicing.

Shannon Katschilo:

We talked earlier about creating this unified approach for customer experience at Mastercard. How do you develop that mindset at a large, complex organization that also has a lot of, as you said, rules and regulations that can sometimes make that seamless experience really difficult? How, at an executive level, the team has come together to really establish that mindset?

Naren Dukkipati:

So the way we have worked ... And it's a great question to ask in terms of the complexity that is involved, the stakeholders that are involved. It sometimes is very challenging because sometimes you want to get things out the door as quickly as possible, and you don't think about customer experience. And sometimes it's also important that you take care of the controls that are in place in terms of regulatory and [inaudible 00:17:54] needs. But at the same time, it's to provide that seamless experience for our customers.

Naren Dukkipati:

So the way we work is taking most of our initial analysis is driven by a data-driven analysis that provides insights on what the customer pain points are, or what the customer is looking for. That basically drives the low-level design, talking to the user journey of how the customer will interact with the different interfaces that we provided them.

Naren Dukkipati:

So that low-level design is then taken forward to our customers, get their feedback again, and make sure that the customers are happy with what we are providing them, which then translates back to a high-level design. And then it's handed over to the development organizations, and the development organizations then take it into their roadmap, develop that, iterate that within their internal stakeholders first. Make sure that we get their feedback. They do the usage testing, as well. And any kind of changes would happen even before the product is released to the customer.

Naren Dukkipati:

And then ultimately what happens is we release it to our friendly customers, get their feedback again internally through user acceptance groups, as well as other avenues what we have with our customers. We get that feedback, put that feedback again into the journey, and then iterate it accordingly, and then release it to the larger audience. That's how we are making steps, and it's an iterative ... It's an ongoing journey. And we may not get everything right in the first time. It's a continuous journey where ... and the engineering teams work very closely together.

Shannon Katschilo:

And it sounds to me like you have a very multifaceted approach on how you're bringing feedback into the organization, really ensuring that people are emotionally tied to the experience of your customers by having such a robust feedback look. Any success metrics that you're looking at that went into building this business case that got stakeholders at the table and really interested? What are those KPIs that Mastercard is looking at?

Naren Dukkipati:

There's different KPIs we use. I'll give you a specific ... I'll go back to my example where I talked about improving our IVR experience. Today, we have a lot of benefits that Mastercard offers to our customers. And for the customer to understand what benefits does Mastercard offer for their cards, they have to go through a long list of menu items when they call in our IVRs.

Naren Dukkipati:

So what we have done is we have calculated how much time it is taking, and the customer is not really looking for a five to six minutes wait time to get to the right menu and then get the answers they're looking for. So they are in this mode of I want to get to the agent as quickly as possible, so they're just pressing whatever they can rather than going through this long list of menu items.

Naren Dukkipati:

So when we calculated that, the average time that a customer is waiting on the phone line was five to seven minutes, even before they get to the answer they're looking for. So what we have done is to improve that experience, we actually implemented natural language understanding where a customer can speak, and that answer's readily available for them in seconds rather than minutes. So that's the kind of feedback that we are getting from our customers, and we are implementing that. And that not only improves the customer experience. It is improving our operational efficiencies as well because we're not paying for the telephone times where the customer is waiting for their answers.

Naren Dukkipati:

Similarly, I think on our web channels, there are several things that we are enhancing in terms of how we can make it better and easier for our customers through the feedback loop that we have in terms of service. We have in terms of the overall experience that they have where we provide them with two things we do. One is we provide them with service. We also ask customers to provide any kind of capabilities that they're looking for to enhance their experience. Right? So we collect that feedback information, iterate through the backlog items, make it a prioritization for us and go through the implementation lifecycle.

Shannon Katschilo:

Thank you, again, very much for sharing. What a great story about a direct impact on ROI on the business by launching a technology. Most things that do have a positive impact on the customer experience, have a direct ROI to the business and that's a great example.

Shannon Katschilo:

We're both customers in day-to-day lives. We're both passionate about the subject. Would like to hear your thoughts as a day-to-day consumer in many different organizations, like how you think organizations are struggling with customer experience, and any things that you're doing in your day-to-day life that you would hope that other organizations could adopt?

Naren Dukkipati:

If you look at the last two or three years, our customers have changed. Our employees have changed. Right? And I know that it's not like we're going back to normal, right? This is the new normal. Our customers are more demanding at this point of time, and we got to provide them with that experience, right?

Naren Dukkipati:

If you think that self-service and automation is a buzzword, and it is ... As companies, we got to make sure that that's the key thing that we got to provide with a digital first experience for our customers, and then meet the customers where they're most comfortable, right? I think those are the two principles that we are following here to ensure that customers have the best-in-class experience and provide them with a channel where they're most comfortable with.

Shannon Katschilo:

And for organizations that are just getting started with this approach, where do you think is a good place to start? If a CEO, you're talking to them, they want to have a vision of getting to all the great work that you're doing, we'd kind of like to hear your advice for people that are listening where to start here.

Naren Dukkipati:

Build the infrastructure, build the tools where you can hear the feedback from your customers. And that feedback would be the most important, valuable thing for you. Rather than trying to create something assuming that the customers would like, build and they'll come, go the other way. You collect the feedback from your customers, iterate your product, iterate your service, and then go in front of the customers.

Naren Dukkipati:

The second thing is it's an ongoing journey. Right? It's not like you'll get everything first in the first place. You got to invest in your people. You've got to invest in your capabilities to make sure that you are providing the best-in-class experience for your customers.

Shannon Katschilo:

Great advice. What I loved about our conversation, it was applicable and really digging deep into the technology, as well. Is there anything that you'd like to share that we didn't get a chance to touch on?

Naren Dukkipati:

Customer experience, it gets split between product being at a high level and the technology team in the weeds. I think having that balance in between those two teams is important. And structuring your teams accordingly is also a vital factor in making sure that you provide the best-in-class experience.

Naren Dukkipati:

Some of the things to consider is making sure that you have that optimal team structure and the optimal way to actually collect feedback and then implementing it back to customers.

Shannon Katschilo:

Thank you for listening to this episode of Flourish CX. To learn more, head over to zoominsoftware.com/podcasts, and follow along wherever you get your audio.

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