Q&A: Rory Gentry, AVP of Digital Transformation, HGS
HGS empowers retailers to enhance their operations, embrace digital transformation and deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
With almost 20 years of experience, I have held various roles in the retail industry at brands such as Nordstrom and QVC. Since starting my career in 2006, I have seen the retail landscape evolve in ways I never thought possible. The transformation has been remarkable, both for the brands and the consumers that drive change. It is my job to keep my clients at the forefront of that change, and to supply them with the right talent and technologies to succeed.
What does your company do? / What is your unique selling proposition?
A global leader in optimizing the customer experience lifecycle, digital transformation, business process management (BPM), and digital media ecosystem, HGS helps its clients become more competitive every day. HGS’ core BPM business combines automation, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) with deep domain expertise focusing on digital customer experiences, back-office processing, contact centers, and HRO solutions. With a comprehensive suite of solutions and expertise, HGS empowers retailers to enhance their operations, embrace digital transformation and deliver exceptional customer experiences.
What’s special about the platform and your approach?
Customers expect retailers to respond every time and to respond fast. It is up to us to exceed their expectations and elevate them to the next level through these interactions. We provide smart, scalable access to the right people, processes, and technology for a balanced, reliable, secure and flexible future. We build your business for the future, with a purpose-driven, design-thinking approach to digital CX solutions and services.
For retailers, we drive success through various means. One example is to enable seamless omnichannel experiences by integrating online and offline channels, ensuring consistency and personalization to engage customers throughout their shopping journey. Another includes how our contact center solutions equip retailers with the tools and resources needed to deliver prompt, knowledgeable, and personalized customer support across multiple channels, including 24/7 assistance. Lastly, leveraging the power of data analytics, we provide valuable insights into customer behavior, market trends, and performance metrics, empowering retailers to make data-driven decisions and uncover new growth opportunities. These efforts enable retailers to deliver exceptional customer experiences, optimize operations, and achieve sustainable growth.
What advantage does it add?
We are big enough to deliver globally and strong enough for customers to lean on. Our technology solutions paired with excellent services offers retailers powerful CX strategies for a competitive advantage that entices customers. We have proven our effectiveness, being ranked as one of the top 5 leaders in all four quadrants: Digital Operations, AI & Analytics, Work from Home Services, and Social Media CX Services, for the 2022 ISG Provider LensTM Contact Center. We have also been recognized by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) as one of the top outsourcing companies in the world for 12 years in a row.
How does a product/service implementation look like and how do you measure success?
Five critical steps are necessary for a successful implementation. First, a well thought out strategy that aligns with the business roadmap and all stakeholders is a crucial foundation. Once a roadmap is established, a comprehensive analysis and detailed documentation of process identification is necessary in assuring a smooth implementation. It’s also important to establish a Center of Excellence (CoE) as it helps set the framework or team that will work together to roll the solution across the enterprise. Then, it is critical to have a comprehensive governance framework along with a strong committed sponsor for a successful implementation. Finally, our success and that of our clients’ is defined by a robust change management framework, where IT, business and developer teams are all aligned with measurable KPI’s.
Overall, we measure success by taking into consideration key factors such as productivity, cost savings, time savings, compliance and data quality.
How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?
As retail competition intensifies under the acceleration of technology innovations, retailers increasingly seek technology solutions that amplify CX strategies. We support retailers through the high-impact partnership ecosystem we have built, featuring integrations with Twilio, Genesys, AWS, and others, that allow us to provide solutions to create a seamless digital transformation journey across customer communications.
With more customers turning to social media to engage with brands, solutions like HGS EPIC Social Care filter out the noise and identify customers who need help. A significant example was when a Fortune 10 retailer struggled to manage millions of social media mentions per year. HGS provided end-to-end social customer care through a team of skilled agents that doubled as brand ambassadors, the implementation of a customizable social media management platform for replies and engagement, and AI and automation for filtering, tagging, and analytics. The results include cost savings of 12 million dollars, 48% of customers engaged within 15 minutes and 180,000 customers engaged with personalized responses across four social channels.
Are there other companies you partner with?
To win the battle for partner mindshare as a technology provider, HGS must differentiate itself to be the default choice partners will recommend in their customer discussions. We co-invest in emerging innovation by building innovation labs that address critical and emerging needs to achieve our mutual growth goals. We believe in a top-down partner collaboration model ensuring that the solutions we are building are backed by our institutional leaders. We work directly with our partner customers to ensure alignment on how to meet their expectations and maximize business outcomes.
What challenges and opportunities do you see in retail for 2023 / What challenges are retailers facing in 2023?
The pace of customer expectations is accelerating. With digital innovation everywhere it creates pressure to respond faster and deliver sooner. Consumers hold more power today than ever before with hundreds of options and endless sources of information at their fingertips. With the amount of choice available to consumers, brand loyalty has proven more difficult, and staying relevant is crucial for retailers. This means being attuned to the latest trends and platforms, such as TikTok, and being able to jump on opportunities quickly. We understand the importance of keeping pace with the ever-changing landscape and helping retailers navigate the digital realm effectively.
With any target audience, it’s essential for retailers to speak their language and connect with them on their level – especially when engaging with millennials and Gen Z. We recognize the significance of effective, personalized communication strategies that resonate with these demographics. By understanding their preferences, cultural nuances, and communication styles, we ensure that retailers can engage with customers authentically and avoid miscommunications. By staying up to date with the latest trends, speaking the right language, and engaging customers on their level, retailers can create authentic and meaningful interactions that lead to long-term customer relationships.
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
As customers’ expectations continue to rise, we also gain valuable insights from them. This enables us to provide tailored offers that perfectly align with the customer’s specific needs and preferences at any given moment. By delivering an omni-channel experience, exceptional customer service, and engaging with customers through their preferred channels, we foster a strong bond and establish trust that is essential for cultivating shopper loyalty. This seamless experience, combined with personalization and an effective marketing strategy, creates a winning formula for success.
What is on the horizon for you as a company?
With the ever-growing amount of data, we need to be able to deliver granular insights to businesses so they can structure their omnichannel strategy. To that effort, HGS has acquired TekLink International, Inc., a full-service financial planning and analytics service provider to over 60 clients across multiple industries. The acquisition will strengthen HGS’ digital solutions business by adding enhanced expertise in building data platforms, analytics, and financial planning. It will also add complementary digital workforce bench strength, with 275 seasoned technology and implementation professionals joining HGS as part of the transaction.
Any final thoughts?
Digital transformation is revolutionizing the retail industry, fundamentally changing how businesses operate and interact with customers. To successfully navigate this transformative journey, proper onboarding of digital solutions is crucial, and a trusted partner brings expertise, guidance, and tailored solutions to ensure a seamless integration. By properly onboarding solutions with assistance from a partner, retailers can effectively embrace digital transformation, enhance operational efficiency, deliver exceptional customer experiences, and position themselves for long-term success in the dynamic retail landscape.
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