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Episode 31: “Tuning the Digital Experience” with Bernie Gracy, Chief Digital Officer at Agero

Our reliance on digital technology has exponentially grown in the last few weeks. In this episode, Matt Swain interviews Bernie Gracy, Chief Digital Officer at Agero, a white-label roadside assistance leader, about how companies can deliver exceptional digital experiences by anticipating, measuring, testing and optimizing because “the digital experience is never done.”

Evolving in Light of COVID-19: “Agero is a leader in white-label driver assistance service. We have roadside assistance, accident management, connected vehicle services. We support two-thirds of new vehicles on the road and two-thirds of the top auto insurers. We support over 115 million consumers and we're servicing 12 million roadside and accident management events each year. We are leading this transformation in this industry… One of our insurance companies said, ‘We want to have a special experience for healthcare workers to make sure they have an amazing experience and get them back on the road.” They are heroes, and we need to get them to the hospital to be able to serve patients. That was something that we were able to turn around literally within hours because of our digital transformation of what we've done with our platform… Think about your insurance card or the sticker inside your door for roadside assistance. Typically, employees work in the contact center, and we were working on a 250-person work-from-home pilot that we were going to ramp up over six months. Well, we got everyone home in a week, fully operational, no impact on service levels, no impact on quality. Why? Because we had been migrating to the cloud and with everything being virtual, we just went a lot faster. I think the other thing is that our company is about weather. Before there were pandemics, there were polar vortices. Our key concern was, what if people can't get to work? This work-from-home pilot was a business continuity disaster recovery play so that we could maintain service in case of weather. It's been an amazing thing to watch and we continue to operate with excellence.”

The Digital Experience is Never Done: “One of the big things in digitalization and thinking about reimagining communications is people are trained to pick up the phone and call. When they're in the car, they're using their mobile phone. We created what we call a visual IVR. This has both an audio component and a guided experience through a lightweight app that basically says, ‘Hey, we see you're calling from a mobile phone,’ and, with their permission, ‘Can we send you a text message?’ If they say yes, it basically launches a lightweight application that captures all the information that an agent would have captured. Twenty-five percent of our volume never involves a human being. We are constantly refining the experience. One of the things I always tell my boss and colleagues is the digital experience is never done. It's an ongoing process of optimization. When people are not having a digital experience, when they decide to go out to an agent or to alternative means, we want to understand why that's the case. Our job is to get better and better.”

What Happens Next: “What it comes down to is that people had to reimagine the customer experience in real-time. I think what's going to be even more amazing is what happens after this; I think consumer behavior is going to change forever. Consumers are going to be so used to these digital experiences. If you have not embraced it and basically built that relationship, consumers are going to go. It is a disruptively transformational event around COVID. An analyst just said that e-commerce has moved ahead 5 to 10 years ahead of forecast. Five to 10 years, in just what, five weeks? It is amazing what is happening.”

Future of Communications: “Think about what Google is doing with Apple to basically facilitate contact tracing globally. They're now saying, ‘How do we leverage our footprint, Bluetooth, broadband communications, and now privacy concerns to basically create a global network to assure and to facilitate communication to say, ‘Hey, you might have been exposed to COVID?’ Think about this. Basically, these two behemoths are enabling anonymous communications of critical real-time information; I think is clearly an example of a transformational moment that is fraught with privacy concerns. We are in an unknown world with these ubiquitous communications, especially 5G, where the intersection of the state, of bad actors, commercial entities and consumers are all going to need to interact in whole new ways.”

To dive into these topics and more, check out our podcast, Reimagining Communications.