Reshaping The Future Of Digital Customer Service: 22 Influential Leaders to Watch in 2022

Reshaping The Future Of Digital Customer Service: 22 Influential Leaders to Watch in 2022


Customers expect better and faster pre and post purchase services. Whether they need help setting up a new device or to repair a damaged product, the way in which these interactions are handled are at the heart of customer satisfaction.

As companies embrace the digitization of customer support, the new standard is much more than a phone conversation with a call center representative or a visit from a field agent. By leveraging new technologies such as computer vision, virtual visits and self-service AI-driven solutions, companies have a huge opportunity to turn customers into brand advocates.

This list is an homage to the business leaders and influencers pushing the envelope when it comes to innovation in customer experience. If you want to stay ahead of the game, follow them on Linkedin, Twitter, or YouTube or try meeting them at key industry events – their enormous impact is bound to become a catalyst for change in the space.

Eric Esguerra, Vice President, Customer Service & Operations at Miele Canada Ltd

Eric’s favorite motto is “The Customer Experience is Paramount and must be the driving force to any organization.” At Miele, Eric is also accountable for the management of escalation departments, offline processes, e-care solutions, national call center consolidation, multi-product services, upselling / cross selling and re-defining the consumer experience. He also sits on the board of Directors for CSPN.

With a career spanning over 20 years, Eric has an extensive amount of experience in Contact Center and 3rd party and onshore vendor management. In addition, Eric is a member of Miele’s International Service team, to help identify, streamline and share global best practices and promote service excellence.

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Paul Husar, Senior Call Center Manager at LG Electronics

Paul is a Transformational, hands-on, customer service department leader with extensive experience using performance metrics, lean process improvements, and positive leadership in building effective, efficient, and happy customer service departments.

His achievements speak for themselves, from driving return authorizations approvals to 24 hours from 30 days, to reducing Monthly Abandon Rate to 3% from 20-30%. You can listen to Paul in this inspiring podcast, where he discusses the value of Lean Operations in a contact center environment and how it can significantly improve operational efficiencies.

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Jim Iyoob, Chief Customer Officer at Etech Global Services

Jim Iyoob is responsible for Etech’s strategy, marketing, business development, IT, program implementation, operational excellence, and product development across all Etech’s existing lines of business. He has 30 years of experience in inbound, outbound, chat, analytics, AI, and social media. Jim has been instrumental in setting up services for the customers needing quick and apt solutions for their daily customer experience needs.

Due to his level of expertise, Jim has been featured in numerous publications, including CIO Review, Contact Center Pipeline, Connections Magazine, and was also listed as one of the ‘Top 20 Influential People to Follow’ on Twitter. In addition, Jim has co-authored three books with his lifelong friend, mentor, and coach, Matt Rocco.

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Brian Cantor, Managing Director, Digital at Customer Management Practice

Brian is the Managing Director of Customer Management Practice Digital and founder, president, editor-in-chief at Headline Planet. He is an experienced digital content, brand development, experience design and research leader committed to uncovering opportunities for amplifying market share, profitability and customer satisfaction in organizations of all sizes.

Customer Management Practice is the analyst, advisor and industry network that helps companies turn customers into raving fans. At the core of their reporting is a team with a passion for all things customer management, with a focus on Customer Contact and Design & Innovation.

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Steven Van Belleghem, Global Thought Leader in the field of Customer Experience

Steven is an expert in customer experience in a digital world. He is a popular speaker in the space, having given about 1000 keynote speeches in more than 40 countries! Steven is the author of four bestselling books, including ‘The Conversation Manager’, which won the award for most innovative marketing book of 2010 and ‘When Digital Becomes Human’, which received the award of ‘Best Marketing Book of 2015’.

A serial entrepreneur, Steven co-founded inspiration firm Nexxworks as well as content creation company Snackbytes. His YouTube channel is a fantastic source of inspiration about customer experience and customer centricity in a digital world. In his videos, I keep people updated about the latest trends in customer experience, customer service and customer centricity.

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Tom Hinds, SVP Customer Engagement at Advocate Aurora Health

Tom is a highly accomplished and influential transformation and operations executive with extensive experience defining and driving world-class organizational strategies in diverse, fast-paced, and ever-changing global environments.

His background includes transforming organizations, implementing best practices, and optimizing processes enhancing operational excellence. Additionally, he executes on challenges and maintains a forward-thinking mindset aligned with the organizational mission and vision.

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Michelle Duerst, VP Analyst at Gartner

Michelle is an advocate for expanding ideation and innovation to your entire organization. This begins by looking at how to better engage both customers and employees through hyper-personalization, better visibility, and tools they actually want to use.

She is a Subject Matter Expert in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Product Portfolio Management (PPM), Labeling and Artwork Management (LAM) for manufacturers. At Gartner, Michelle is a cross-practice leader of emerging theme, Digital Twin of a Customer, a co-leader of Total Experience (Top Strategic Technology Trend), and the industries lead for CX CORE (Customer Organization Relationship Experience).

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Jeff Toister, President at Toister Performance Solutions

Jeff is truly obsessed with customer service. As an author, consultant, and trainer, he helps organizations develop customer-focused cultures. In addition to authoring four customer service books including The Service Culture Handbook, Jeff reaches more than 10,000 customer service professionals every week through his Customer Service Tip of the Week email newsletter.

Jeff’s Inside Customer Service blog has been recognized as one of the Top 50 customer service blogs on the planet. As a consultant, he guides clients who want to develop customer-focused cultures.  Over 1,000,000 people have taken one of his video-based training courses on LinkedIn Learning. His Customer Service Foundations course was LinkedIn’s most-watched customer service course in the world in 2021!

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Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations

Shep Hyken is a customer service and CX expert, an award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He’s the CAO (Chief Amazement Officer) of Shepard Presentations and leading international authority on customer service, CX, and loyalty in business.

Shep has worked with thousands of companies and organizations that want to create amazing customer service experiences for their customers and employees. His articles have been featured in hundreds of publications, and he is the creator of The Customer Focus™, a customer service training program that helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.

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Brad Cleveland, Author, Speaker & Consultant

Brad Cleveland is a global expert in customer strategy and management. He has advised governments and clients across 45 states and over 60 countries, and his books and articles have been translated into over a dozen languages. Brad teaches courses on customer strategy and management, customer service leadership, and CX leadership.

He’s been featured in top-tier publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, CNN Money, the New York Times, as well as on major television networks. Brad was the founding partner and former CEO of the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and remains a senior advisor today.

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Jeanne Bliss, Founder and CEO at Customer Bliss

Jeanne Bliss is the Founder and President of CustomerBliss and Co-Founder of The Customer Experience Professionals Association. She is a 5-time Chief Customer Officer, published author of four books, a regular keynote speaker, thought leader, and an industry-leading expert on customer-centric leadership.

Jeanne has 35 years of experience helping companies elevate their position with customers and the marketplace. She hosts a popular podcast called The Human Duct Tape Show, listed #1 on Inc.’s 9 Binge-Worthy Marketing Podcasts  list and is also known as the “Godmother of customer experience.”

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Sharad Sachdev, Global Lead for AI-Powered Customer Experience at Accenture

Sharad is the Managing Director (Strategy and Analytics) and  global leader in the Applied Intelligence practice at Accenture, with deep expertise in AI-powered customer engagement, and the enterprise-wide adoption of AI across industries, including insurance, communications, travel, and health care.

As well as being a speaker at numerous conferences, Sharad is a regular contributor and writes about key trends and insights in the customer engagement space for publications including Smart Customer Service. His recent piece on why Companies Can’t Afford to Leave Customer Insights on the Table is a must read!

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Mike Akoi, President at Reflective Keynotes

Mike is the President of Reflective Keynotes, a Canada-based training firm that helps contact centers improve their sales and CX results.  He has over 20 years of customer service, sales and management experience, with a laser focus on contact centers.

Mike is a frequent contributor to the Contact Center Pipeline magazine and a member of their Advisory Board. He regularly advises companies on topics such as contact center sales skills, coaching skills, and handling irate customers.

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Roy Atkinson, CEO at Clifton Butterfield

Roy Atkinson is one of the top influencers in the service and support industry, with an international reputation. He is the CEO at Clifton Butterfield, a business advisory firm specializing in service management, customer service, and customer experience.

Roy is a prolific writer, speaker, webinar presenter, and podcaster as well as a contact center industry analyst. His specialty is exploring the connection between customer service and technology. His expertise has been featured by The Economist, Social Media Today, Computerworld, BizTech Magazine, and is a frequent contributor to the Institute for Digital Transformation.

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Chase Clemons, Head of Customer Support at 37 Signals

Chase is the Head of Customer Support at Basecamp, leading project management tool. He shares industry knowledge and customer service best practices on his weekly customer service podcast, Support Ops Hangout – you should check out their manifesto!

The Support Ops Hangout is a fantastic place to learn from experts on how to create a support experience where customers choose you over the other company every time. You’ll find over 150 episodes covering every topic we could think of around the customer experience!

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Michael Maoz, Senior Vice President, Innovation Strategy at Salesforce

Michael is currently SVP Innovation Strategy, Salesforce. Prior to that, he spent over 20 years as the Research Vice President and Distinguished Analyst in Gartner Research, focusing on customer strategies and technologies.

Always looking ahead, Michael’s work helps companies create optimal customer experiences that not only meet but exceed customer expectations. Michael believes this kind of customer experience can only come from developing and evolving relationships with customers, and building in wow moments – memorable, exceptional experiences, with customer service. Watch him explain What kind of business are you building for the new customer?

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Richard Shapiro, Founder and President at TCFCR

Richard is the Founder of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty.  For three decades, Richard has researched the topic of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business.

In addition, he is the author of The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business. For Richard, the essence of good customer retention is to focus on relationship building, making sure that customers who enter as strangers leave as friends.

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Colin Taylor, CEO at Taylor Reach Group

As the CEO, and Chief Chaos Officer of the Taylor Reach Group, Colin is a call and contact center expert with more than 30 years of experience. He is an author and a frequent international speaker on all things contact centers, including customer service, CX, operational transformation, CRM, sales, and team building.

Colin is the founder and former chair of the Contact/Call Center Council, as well as former Director of the CMA. Throughout his career, he has assisted many Fortune 500 and global brands to improve their customer-facing organizations. Today, more than 15,000 agent positions employ Taylor Reach-designed Contact Center operational models.

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Prabhu Kalaiselvan, Digital Foundry Leader at Deloitte

From General Electrics to Bosh and most recently Deloitte, Prahbu is a global leader in digital transformation, CX and Digital Commerce. For over 19 years, he has been recognized for developing insightful strategies that are rooted in deep consumer knowledge, flawlessly executed and able to garner winning results.

At Deloitte’s Digital Foundry, he leads the efforts to deliver a disciplined approach, methodology and set of services for making innovation continuous. This Digital Foundry offering provides organizations with the opportunity to drive continuous innovation, and was designed to overcome the barriers to innovation unique to the enterprise.

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Tim Mitchell, Digital Transformation & CX Leader at Cadena Growth Partners

Tim is a young leader specializing in Digital Transformation, Innovation, Strategy, and Customer Experience. He has  a passion for helping businesses to create winning value propositions through a blend of deliberate strategy, innovative business models, and emerging technology.

From management consultant to driving organization’s digital transformation and strategy with Deloitte Africa and Flux Labs, Tim’s focus has been on leading engagement and pursuit teams at the intersection of strategy and technology, to solve complex challenges within some of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest firms. He is also a keynote speaker and MBA Supervisor & Lecturer on the topics of Management Consulting, Digital Transformation, Innovation, and Customer Experience.

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Barry Dalton, Global VP, Customer Interaction Technology at Concentrix

Bassy is a customer experience strategy and CX technology leader with accomplishments in designing and implementing digital transformation across Marketing, Sales & Service with particular industry focus on Consumer Products, Pharmaceuticals, Retail and Technology.

At Concentrix, Barry’s current focus is on the impact of the digital customer experience disruption, the next wave of emergent customer engagement channels and the value of unstructured VOC data in understanding customer behavior and demand generation.

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Olive Huang, VP Market Strategy at Salesforce

Olive Huang is currently the Vice President of Market Strategy, head of global competitive intelligence at Salesforce. Prior to this role she worked as Vice President of Product Strategy at Salesforce and looked after global long-range product strategies for Salesforce CRM products.

As a former Gartner analyst, Olive also enjoys helping business leaders understand how technologies deliver business transformation at a scale. Don’t miss this video interview, where Professor Gabriele Suder interviews Olive about how to manage Customer Experience in Asia, understanding Asia by locality, and the huge acceleration of digital access and digitalisation of CX.

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