Serving the Multichannel Customer

2014 Customer Champion Deepak Khandelwal, vice president of global customer experience at Google, champions convenience and positive experiences for a global customer base.
Customer Experience

Delivering excellent customer service across multiple channels is a key component of a company's success. For Google, a company with millions of customers across the globe, meeting customer demands includes numerous linguistic and logistical challenges. Deepak Khandelwal, vice president of global customer experience, plays a key role in helping Google serve its customers at any time through a multitude of channels and languages.

"Providing a differentiated, positive customer experience is critical," Khandelwal says. "Especially in the technology field where there are always newer and better products that are coming out, I firmly believe that it is one of the key success factors for companies to stay successful for long periods of time."

One of Khandelwal's initiatives focused on expanding Google's customer service beyond an online self-help channel to live phone support nearly four years ago. Google now offers live phone support in more than 40 languages. And in response to demands from advertisers and other customers for more help, Khandelwal spearheaded the launch of phone support in English that is available 24 hours, 7 days per week, as well as live help via video chat.

These initiatives would not be possible without the support of senior executives and frontline agents. The key to getting people to adhere to your objectives and vision, Khandelwal notes, is to impart a "cross-functional ownership" of the projects. "In Google's lingo, that means getting people onboard across products, marketing, finance, and sales and then tying that into senior level objectives," he says. "You need people to understand that this is an important goal."

Google also offers recognition programs for employees who provide a great customer experience. Khandelwal's team celebrates excellent customer interactions by pinning notes, photos, and testimonials from satisfied customers on "Customer Happiness Walls" in 12 offices around the world, and via an internal website with customer quotes and stories.

Khandelwal also introduced monthly customer satisfaction (CSAT) awards, including an award for online specialists who achieve 100 percent satisfaction for an entire month, as well as special recognition for those who receive this award multiple times. And whenever he visits an office, Khandelwal personally presents the awards to employees.

In addition, Khandelwal's management team conducts monthly employee surveys, in-person town halls, and online discussion forums to solicit team feedback. The management team is also experimenting with programs to improve team members' abilities to focus on the customer, such as a meditation program and more flexible shifts.

All of these programs and processes, Khandelwal notes, are designed to enable employees to provide a seamless customer experience. "They [the customers] shouldn't have to know what's behind the scenes," he says. "Customers should just know that they're interacting with somebody at Google and that person will take care of them, and even though there're millions of people who might be contacting us in one way or another, that person is the most important."