Sustainable cloud native software with serverless architectures

Living in Milan, I have had to deal with extraordinary air pollution values since December 2019, in some days controversial graphs compared Milan to much more densely populated and polluted cities, in China and India, at least by common perception.

Then came covid-19, and obviously our concerns moved elsewhere. Like everyone, at least in Lombardy, I was in lockdown from 21 February to 4 May. In the midst of a thousand worries, a little voice in the back of my head continued to point out that, however, suddenly, the air was no longer polluted, the CO2 levels had dropped significantly, which in short meant that an important change and with impactful results was, indeed, possible.

Fast forward to now … do we want to go back to the impossibly polluted air of January 2020? If the answer is no, then something needs to change.

First, let’s see why a change is due and important. The whole scientific community agrees that the world has a pollution problem. Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has created a layer of gas that traps heat and changes the earth’s climate. Earth’s temperature has risen by more than one degree centigrade since the industrial revolution of the 1700s.

If we don’t stop this global warming process, scientists tell us that the results will be catastrophic:

  • Further increase in temperature
  • Extreme weather conditions, drought, fires (remember the Australian situation at the beginning of the year?)
  • The rising of the waters could make areas where more than two hundred million people live uninhabitable
  • The drought will necessarily lead to a food shortage, which can impact over 1 billion people.

To summarize, we must drastically reduce CO2 emissions and prevent the temperature from rising above 1.5°C.

Problem. Every year the world produces and releases more than 50 billion gas into the atmosphere.

CO2 emissions are classified into three categories:

Scope 1 – direct emissions created by our activities.

Scope 2 – indirect emissions that come from the production of electricity or heat, such as traditional energy sources that power and heat our homes or company offices.

Scope 3 – indirect emissions that come from all other daily activities. For a company, these sources are several and must include the entire supply chain, the materials used, the travel of its employees, the entire production cycle.

When we speak of “carbon efficiency” we know that greenhouse gases are not made up only of carbon dioxide, and they do not all have the same impact on the environment. For example, 1 ton of methane has the same heating effect as 80 tons of carbon dioxide, therefore the convention used is to normalize everything to the CO2-equivalent measure.

International climate agreements have ratified to reduce “carbon” pollution and stabilize the temperature at a 1.5°C increase by 2100.

Second problem. The increase in temperature does not depend on the rate at which we emit carbon, but on the total quantity present in the atmosphere. To stop the rise in temperature, we must therefore avoid adding to the existing, or, as they say, reaching the zero-emission target. Of course, to continue living on earth, this means that for every gram of carbon emitted, we must subtract as much.

Solution to both problems: emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2030, and zero emissions by 2050.

Let’s now talk about what happens with datacenters, and in this specific case,  public cloud datacenters.

  • The demand for compute power is growing faster than ever.
  • Some estimates indicate that data center energy consumption will account for no less than a fifth of global electricity by 2025.
  • A server/VM operates on average at 20-25% of its processing capacity, while consuming a lot of unused energy.
  • On the other hand, in an instance where applications are run using physical hardware, it is still necessary to keep servers running and use resources regardless of whether an application is running or not.
  • Containers have a higher density and can bring a server/VM up to 60% of use of compute capacity.
  • Ultimately, it is estimated that 75-80% of the world’s server capacity is just sitting idle.

While browsing for solutions, I found very little documentation and formal statements about sustainable software engineering. While talking to fellow Microsoft colleague Asim Hussain, I found out that there is a “green-software” movement, which started with the website, where a community of developers and advocates is trying to create guidelines for writing environmentally sustainable code, so that the applications we work with every day are not only efficient and fast, but also economic and with an eye to the environment. The eight principles are:

  1. Carbon. First, the first step is to have the environmental efficiency of an application as a general target. It seems trivial but to date there is not much documentation about it in computer textbooks or websites.
  2. Electricity. Most of the electricity is produced from fossil fuels and is responsible for 49% of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. All software consumes electricity to run, from the app on the smartphone to the machine learning models that run in the cloud data centers. Developers generally don’t have to worry about these things: the part of electricity consumption is usually defined as “someone else’s problem”. But a sustainable application must take charge of the electricity consumed and be designed to consume as little as possible.
  3. Carbon intensity. The carbon intensity is the measure of how many CO2equivalent emissions are produced per kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed. Electricity is produced from a variety of sources each with different emissions, in different places and at different times of the day, and most of all, when it is produced in excess, we have no way of storing it. We have clean sources as wind, solar, hydroelectric, but other sources such as power plants have different degrees of emissions depending on the material used to produce energy. If we could connect the computer directly to a wind farm, the computer would have a zero-carbon intensity. Instead we connect it to the power outlet, which receives energy from different sources and therefore we must digest the fact that our carbon intensity is still always a number greater than zero.
  4. Embedded or embodied carbon is the amount of pollution emitted during the creation and disposal of a device. So efficient applications that run on older hardware also have an impact on emissions.
  5. Energy Proportionality. The maximum rate of server utilization must always be the primary objective. In general, in the public cloud this also equates to cost optimization. The most efficient approach is to run an application on as few servers as possible and with the highest utilization rate.
  6. Networking. Reducing the amount of data and the distance it must travel across the network also has its impact on the environment. Optimizing the route of network packages is as important as reducing the use of the servers. Networking emissions depend on many variables: the distance crossed, the number of hops between network devices, the efficiency of the devices, the carbon intensity of the region where and when the data is transmitted.
  7. Demand shifting and demand shaping. Instead of designing the offer based on demand, a green application draws demand based on the energy supply. Demand shifting involves moving some workloads to regions and at times with lower carbon intensity. Demand shaping, on the other hand, involves separating the workloads so that they are independently scalable, and prioritizing them to support the features based on energy consumption. When the energy supply is low, therefore the carbon intensity is at that time higher than a specific threshold, the application reduces the number of features to a minimum, keeping the essential. Users can also be involved in the choice by presenting the “green” option with a minimum set of features.
  8. Monitoring and optimization. Energy efficiency must be measured in all parts of the application to understand how to optimize it. Does it make any sense to spend two weeks reducing network communication by a few megabytes when a db query has ten times the impact on emissions?

The principles are generic for any type of application and architecture, but what about serverless?

Serverless applications are natively prone to the optimization of emissions. Since the same application at different times consumes differently depending on the place of execution, demand shifting is a technique that can be easily applied to serverless architectures. Of course, with serverless we have no control over the infrastructure used, we must trust that cloud providers want to use their servers at 100% capacity. 😊

Cost optimization is generally also an indication of sustainability, and with serverless, we can have a direct impact on execution times, on the network data transport, and in general on building efficient applications not only in terms of times and costs, but also of emissions.

The use of serverless brings measurable benefits:

  • The use of the serverless allows for a more efficient use of the underlying servers, because they are managed in shared mode by the cloud providers, and built for an efficient use of energy for optimal data center temperature and power.
  • In general, cloud datacenters have strict rules and often have ambitious targets for emissions (for instance, Microsoft recently declared its will as a company to become carbon negative by 2030). Making the best use of the most optimized resources of a public cloud provider implicitly means optimizing the emissions of your application.
  • Since serverless only uses on-demand resources, the server density is the highest possible.
  • Serverless workloads are ready for demand-shifting / shaping executions.
  • From a purely theoretical point of view, writing optimized and efficient code is always a good rule of thumb, regardless of the purpose for which you do it 😊

Developers can immediately have an IMPACT on application sustainability:

  • By making a program more accessible to older computers.
  • By writing code that exchanges less data, has a better user experience and is more environmentally friendly.
  • If two or more microservices are highly coupled, by considering co-locating them to reduce network congestion and latency.
  • By considering running resource-intensive microservices in a region with less carbon intensity.
  • By optimizing the database and how data is stored, thus reducing the energy to run the database and reducing idle times, pending completion of queries.
  • In many cases, web applications are designed by default with very low latency expectations: a response to a request should occur immediately or as soon as possible. However, this may limit the sustainability options. By evaluating how the application is used and whether latency limits can be eased in some areas, reducing further emissions can be possible.

In conclusion, I am convinced that serverless architectures, where properly used, are the future not only because they are beautiful, practical and inexpensive, but also because they are the developer tools that today have the least impact on emissions. With the help of the community, we can create specific guidelines for the serverless and maybe even an “carbon meter” of our serverless application, which in the future could also become “low-carbon certified”.

COVID-19 was an inspiring moment in terms of what we managed to do on a global level: all the countries stopped, all the flights, the traffic, the non-essential production. We know that something can be done and that this is the right time to act: rebuilding everything from scratch, it is worth rebuilding in the right direction.

Wait…what? Voice messages are back?

Yes, I realise I do not often fit in the demographic description of my generation and gender: I have always preferred everything digital, I am an introvert and a girl, some say a geek too, and, where possible, in the past 25 years, I have always tried to avoid voice calls in favour of any other digital channel.

So, last week I was in a meeting, at work, and got a Whatsapp notification from my nephew. She’s 21, a fashion blogger and university student, and incidentally also my kids’ baby sitter, so whenever I get a message from her during kids’time, it means it’s important and might also be an emergency. Finally I resolve, at the cost of looking very rude towards the person who is presenting in the meeting, to pick up the smartphone and check the message.

Imagine my reaction when _said_ message revealed itself to be a jaw-dropping, head-spinning, plain old voice message.


Obviously I couldn’t open it during the meeting, whereas any text message would have just taken half a glance to see its content and react. Also, I clearly felt like I just didn’t understand why. Why a voice message? I thought these died back in 2004 when I disabled my mobile voice mail and stopped using it altogether. I thought I got rid of voice because this generation is the native digital and is online 24-7, and so …why voice?

I cleared my throat, slipped the phone in my pocket and excused myself out of the meeting, then went to the restroom to play the bloody message: “Hi Paola, nothing urgent, I thought I better left you a voice message since I have too many things to tell you about the upcoming week’s appointments……”.

This is why – the answer is: laziness. Or, if you want, convenience and speed of a voice message against a typed one. Still.

I frantically typed back to never ever ever again send me a voice message when at work, because it scared me to death and took five of the longest minutes of my life to get its content, while a typed message would have been much quicker and easier, especially for NBD stuff.

She didn’t understand, she said. It’s a message so implicitly it means it’s not urgent. Otherwise she would have called. Plus, she’s not quick at typing (despite the fact she’s probably faster than me) so she prefers voice messages and all of her friends do it, too.

WTF. This is one of those moments when you know you don’t like the lesson you are being taught, but you still need to learn it. So I started paying attention around me and found them: young people that seem talking otp but are really listening to offline messages. Kids recording funny messages and sending them through social media sites. It is out there and I didn’t even realise it until it hit me in the face.

The Voice Message is back – who would have thought?

A day in the life of a digital working mom

It’s a Wednesday evening and I am checking my clockwork household organisation. It all revolves around digital and every bit is essential to my sanity and free time with the family, come the weekend.

Tomorrow a organic fruit and veggie box will be delivered to my door. If I am not home the doorman will keep it in his office, together with any other online shopping package, until I return in the evening. Every Sunday evening I check online its content and add more groceries to the box to save time.

The baby sitter just left so I pay her parking lot with an app while she leaves the house and gets into her car.

I just received an email from the kids’ school with the next year’s calendar so I dutifully copy it to my private calendar then sync it with the office calendar so I don’t mess up at recitals like I did last year (when I booked an exam in London the day my son had the school recital and had to assist to the rehearsal with all the grandparents).

While I am on a phone call, I scan the pantry and fridge and list on my mobile app any missing items, then order them with one-click-next-hour-delivery.

I still have some time for shopping: the kids need new clothes for the season (not for fashion reasons but more because they simply outgrow the clothes and look like tiny franken-smurfs). So I order the new clothes – very easy since I always use the same brand, I just need to size up -sometimes adding something new for the hubby who (strangely enough) hates all forms of clothes shopping.

I also just received a promo discount from a fashion online shop so I immediately log in and move my wishlist items into the cart – I was waiting for the promo to get those items. I am now incidentally also happy as a clam.

My kids, born 2009 and 2012 have never seen in our house any of the following: CD, DVD, vinyls, cassettes, VHS, TV ads or local TV. When they want to watch cartoons, it’s either from an IP-TV or out of our NAS (so it’s checked and safe content, no ads or weird stuff). Also, we have a rule to only watch TV in English, which is not their native language. They initially hated it but now are sort of OK and fast learning English…in a few years they’ll secretly thank me while their therapist will have to address their troubled existences. While the kids watch TV I prepare dinner and at the same time browse Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and my RSS feed for news. The groups on Whatsapp are also typically active at this time of day, which makes me super-busy with _ basically_ pure online fun and some other daily organisation, as the _much dreaded_ school moms’ group is organising some activity with the kids.

Since tomorrow I have a business trip, I use the taxi app to book one that will fetch me in front of my door tomorrow morning at 6 am.

My daughter shows me a slip from her music teacher: new books need to be ordered, so I find those with next day delivery and add them to my cart. The alternative would have been to wait until I am back from my trip, and lose the big birthday party of her best friend on Saturday.

My wearable meanwhile is sending me notifications that I have reached my goal of daily steps and stairs. This does not happen really often, as on average I spend most of the workdays sitting at my desk, so I guess this is why the wearable is soooo excited about it…

The vet sends in the blood test results, via email, of our 14 years old cat who suffers from toothache: she will be fixed next Friday morning so I respond to the email and put the appointment in my calendar.

The children are screaming they want ice-cream after dinner, so to make them stop and get some silence I open the delivery app and order their favourite flavors, that will be on my doorstep in less than 30 mins. cool. literally. 🙂

With an app I switch off the music and turn on the TV. They’ll be able to manage using the remote browser. Then I open the door to my groceries delivery and set all products in the pantry/fridge. I always envision my kids as grown-ups and living on their own, on their first week alone suddenly calling me _in panic_ asking me why no groceries have arrived at their door yet. I’ll have to teach them the back-office part of this miracle one of these days. For now they are helping me put everything away and chatting with the delivery guy.

Our lives are so full of meetings, work, activities and stuff, that technology has become essential to having some free time at the end of the day and in weekends. Honestly I could not care less of spending an afternoon clothes shopping, unless it’s a special treat, in which case I try and add more errands to it (it’s the multi-task bug that infects new mothers and probably never goes away).


Online shopping is convenient, safe, private and quick. I would not have it any other way, especially when the kids open the packages in a frenzy of excitement and fun, kind of like when we were kids at Christmas. Only, it’s just another ordinary digital day.








The rise of the digital bookworm

I have always been an avid reader since the time my mom, for my 11th birthday, gave me a library card for a present. It was one of the best presents of my life.

In my youth I used to plan my holidays according to how many books I needed in my bags, and there was often a whole heavy piece of luggage dedicated to those papery things.

Fast forward to this summer, where I have totally embraced my e-reader and its entire philosophy.

Yes there is no “paper feeling”, and the old fashioned cover judgement is not really a viable option, but I was able to read almost incessantly for my entire holiday, thanks to the kids being a bit more manageable on the beach, and the fact that I could hop onto any public WiFi and buy the next book in no time.

How is that for a digital transformation? 🙂

Also, because I read books in English (it’s not my first language and it helps keeping up), in the past finding good paperback best sellers in English was something complicated in faraway seaside desolate lands, so it had to be solely planned in advance. If I finished my stack earlier I had to revert to Italian books from the local store, sometimes not even my genre.

In my rich three weeks’ vacation (the most I had in 10 years) I was able to devour a total of 12 books, which is more than I was ever able to accomplish even in my own mother tongue, even in the university days.

What is the point I’m trying to make? That this is exactly the core of a digital transformation: when the experience gets so immensely better than the non-digital (analogue? I still have that thing) that it reaches a point of no return, and you are transformed not only as an actor but also as the end-user of what this transformation is all about.

Embrace your e-readers because they don’t mean paper books are dead. I still have a full library in my house, and although I am buying most e-books nowadays, sometimes I add to this library some piece that I want to leave for my kids to read, or books that brought an important message or meaning to me, or just super-silly books that I find entertaining or with a precious cover that I want to touch and admire.

But the convenience of reading 12 books in my holiday is something worth every inch of this digital transformation.



Out of curiosity, these are the 12 books:

  • Into thin air – Jon Krakauer
  • The Promise – Freda Lightfoot
  • Where’d you go, Bernadette – Maria Semple
  • About Grace – Anthony Doerr
  • The Uncoupling – Meg Wolitzer
  • The heart goes last – Margaret Atwood
  • All the light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr
  • The Vegetarian – Han Kang
  • The Other Child – Lucy Atkins
  • Sparrow – L.J.Shen
  • The danish girl -David Ebershoff
  • Transition – Iain M. banks

A broken link on the IVR tree? seriously?

ahhhh…holiday time and people frantically and happily using travel services! This until an exception occurs, and then, as a user, you are prompted with some of the worst examples of customer experience ever configured in the past 20 years:

  • on websites, when you need help, before you are actually prompted with contact options you need to disentangle yourself from a literal maze of Q&As , FAQs, instructions, banners, etc…so that when you finally get to a contact option you are already half pissed off. This is somehow called “deflection” and I have already treated this topic in previous posts.
  • let’s talk about contact options, as there is really only one option: phone numbers, not even toll free. No digital channels although it would make totally sense, since you are navigating and operating in digitised mode, why not offer a chat or email together with the old phone? Are your clients not also millennials who we now know prefer chat over voice?
  • I even stumbled in a badly broken IVR tree where they would give me the option to change support language and access to a larger pool of agents, but when pressing the instructed key nothing happens and you keep getting prompted the option again. Seriously? Did you not test your whole tree before putting it into productions, as per 1997 best practices guidance???

thank God this is only happening once a year, then, as CX recipients, we’ll be back with the usual stuff.

I’m back…and so is NPS!

If you were wondering why I haven’t posted for a while now, it’s because on top of thCCXP Logoe usual work-family load, I have embarked in the CCXP certification, which I was able to get at the end of June (yayy!).

While I was studying the CX transformations that companies went through in the past 3-4 years, which somehow revolves around “the ultimate question” to users and consumers, I sometimes raised my head and noticed that there is a big wave of Net Promoter Programs that is hitting Europe at this time. As a customer and consumer, I have been now asked the question at least 7 times from different companies in the past 2 months only, all varying from bank institutions, to airlines, mobile operators, hotels and healthcare insurances. The cutest one, was in the form of a Whatsapp mobile chat with the brand (on a web page), asking the nps question and the open ended comment. They are all asking the same thing, with different levels of variation, but having studied thoroughly what a Net Promoter program is within a company, I now realise where this is getting us.

The greatest achievement of NPS, so far, has been something no other metric within the CX world ever dared to: it was able to link emotions to revenue. Emotions come from the complex evaluation mechanism that make you, as a user, decide to recommend a brand to your friends and family. Reasons for this evaluation are so complex that relevant statistics analysis can be applied to some extend to split the subset of emotions leading to the final score. But linking it to revenue? This is the beauty of it: you can finally understand why brands that become trendy and fashionable also increase their revenues substantially and on the other side, why brands that are providing mediocre experiences are set to, basically, disappear in the mid-long term.

So the CCXP exam, or to better phrase it, the books I read to pass the exam  (suggestions in the bottom), were really eye-openers to me, as in the past I simplistically considered NPS as a quick metric, while in a serious program it’s clear that it is so much more.

And its wave is coming so strong that my recommendation to all those companies that are still sceptical or unaware of such program, is to start quickly working on it, or prepare to be out of market in a few years.

Finally this also brought some consciousness as a consumer: I now know what to expect from a serious company doing NPS. With a low or very low score, the closed loop-back process implies that I should be contacted and given voice to report my issues. It means that I am valued as a customer and that the company is keen on fixing any issue to keep doing business with me.

But wait…. what if I don’t get any feedback? 🙂


good NPS reading: these books were suggested to me by a nice colleague who is a true CX expert, and I have to admit they all were eye opening.

AI and CX?

From Mobile World Congress 2016 to the recent F8 ten year roadmap speech, AI is definitely one of the hottest technology trends. And specifically, AI in the customer experience, which  is the front-line of any expectation towards a company has been buzzing for a while as an innovation topic.

News from the several AI experiments are not much reassuring: Tay’s Meltdown proved once again what my university professor would say of computer science, “garbage in- garbage out”.

So on one side we would love to have computers help us with our CX, but on the other it looks really risky as any AI exposed to the public can be manipulated to reflect bad, racist or inappropriate responses to apparently innocent questions, sometimes just for the sake of it, others because of a specific sabotage schemed to bring it down.

Within Customer Experience, the relationship with automation has always been controversial. Would a customer like to be served by a robot and to what extent? Why would a company want to invest significant amounts of time and money to expose its front-line and most visible asset to malpractice and gruesome attacks from trolls and hackers?

The problem of any AI is, obviously, the learning. So probably the mistake from Microsoft was to trust the public network to be truthful and honest when teaching conversational skills to its bot.

Having worked in the customer experience realm for many years, I would never trust a bot to learn from public behaviour over social media: imagine your new hire agent sent to learn conversational skills and empathy…in the street?

but….on the other hand, I know that these guys (the CX teams) are literally sitting on a pile of interaction recordings that are rarely used, unless for some sparse quality management or compliance regulation. So why not use this big data to teach an AI, in a controlled, business-like though still real-life environment, how a conversation about your own brand or product should evolve? This idea might not be new but I haven’t seen anyone even testing it yet. Probably the biggest refrain is that AI projects are still in an experimental phase, are very expensive and bring little certainty of results.

But think about this: if you could have your new hire listen to thousands of hours of work conversations to learn how to address issues, how to talk to customers, how to properly escalate, how to behave in the interaction realm, and all in the business language of your own brand and company! This would be impossible for any human being, but for a bot…well, no big deal.

And the result: a perfectly trained agent ready to respond to your most difficult inquiries like your best skilled agent. Also, because every contact centre is different from the other, their recordings will result in different and more accurate learning and behaviour of the same AI. Isn’t AI in such case a dream come true?

As consumers, we probably would not care that the responses come from a bot, especially with digital channels where there is no voice and tracking a bot might be really tricky, and in the end, what matters most is the CX perception, not the reality. 🙂





social customer care: you’re doing it wrong!

In preparation for a customer meeting around social customer care, I am browsing through Twitter and Facebook looking for customer care requests: I can see a lot of variations of #badcx, so I thought it’d be interesting to put together a list of what NOT to do when your customers are complaining or asking help publicly via social media:

  1. If the rant is specific to a common issue that many other are experiencing, you don’t want to just respond but to show everyone how to fix the problem so that the same experience can be shared among peer customers.
  2. When a user is ranting about something that went bad with your company or product, this means that they probably already tried to contact you via phone or email and typically this is their last resort. So the ideal answer cannot be “please contact us at 800…”. The response should be immediate and in-channel. If personal information are involved, publicly switch to DM or Messenger and then try and contact the customer directly.
  3. If there is a help request that can be solved by providing technical or product information, by all means provide those info publicly! Not only the requester will be happy as cake, but the love will spread to other users that are maybe searching for the same info on your very website!
  4. When you are a large global company, sometimes issues can only be resolved at field level. This does not mean you can’t include them in the public social conversation! At minimum, you should show the customer that you have passed on the information, and they will be contacted by the local branch. Responding to go to the local store…well…reads just #badcx.
  5. Again, even if you are a large corporation with lots of department and employees, if a customer resorted to public shaming you, responding that you are “just the social media team” does not help improving the perception of your company. Consumers don’t care about your internal organization: if the social media team has your official brand, then it is the company front page as your contact centre is the front door voice.
  6. If a user is so frustrated that they posted the same comment on your timeline over and over again, it’s not enough just to respond to one: every single message is potentially dangerous and searchable, and must be addressed with care. Wouldn’t it be the same if they took the time to make 10 complain calls at your contact centre? Or would you drop the line at the second call because you already answered?
  7. And last but not least…the language. If you are a global corporation in 20 countries it might be assumed you also support the local language of your operations. Responding to a public tweet or post in a different language is not considered polite, unless you offer an explanation and at least a tentative translation with any of the commonly offered free on-line tools. Also, there are lots of translators out there, in case of lack of skilled resources.

My overall impression is that you can immediately spot when social marketing teams are responding to customer care inquiries: the language is perfect and polished, the responses look pre-approved and are always politically correct, but the results?

Companies need to start providing decent social customer care, and they can make this decision easily by just browsing their own pages and accounts today.




Perspective (and the guy with flip flops)

Yesterday evening I was having a fine dinner with some colleagues. A very international and diverse bunch, all with several years of experience in the CX and contact centre and telephony realms.

This guy beside me was telling a story: when he was once visiting my country with his family, the company he worked for at the time begged him to go to a customer, to fix a huge problem. He gladly accepted to help, though remarking he did not have any business wear, and so he would go there with flip flops. And shorts. He was kind of ashamed telling this, as he would not consider it very nice to go to a customer in flip flops, but had no alternative as the issue was rapidly escalating, so off he went.

While he was telling the story I suddenly realized I had been involved in that same story. Although I did not know his name at the time, he was a legend among the technical staff as “the guru in flip flops and shorts”. Everyone was in awe of how the guy presented himself, so sure of his technical skills to not need any business clothes (in a country that is mostly obsessed with clothes and appearance, sometimes even the washing machine technician is wearing a tie).

The customer back then was _delighted_ not so much from the casual wear, but from the fact that the problem was fixed in seconds and all was back to normal again. Thanks to the guy in flip flops, who then became this legendary, quirky technical guru.

Fast forward a few (many) years and now the guy in flip flops may represent your best CX experience.

When we are offered any customer experience, are we ready to skip formality in order to receive a better service? do we perceive CX quality or also its form? Do we care more about form, appearance or substance, actuality?

I personally think the times would be ready now for the guy in flip flops. 🙂

Instant CX gratification?

As users, in engaging with companies, are we more focused on the result, or on the instant gratification?

If I have to reply, I would definitely say that I’d rather have my problem fixed than a very quick, yet inconclusive, answer that will force me to prolong my CX journey.

But, on the other hand, when I contact a company and have immediate feedback – of any sort – my internal personal rating of that company raises immediately, even if the problem that prompted me to engage them is not _really_ fixed. I can hear my inner conscience mutter a lazy “yeah but..”, but cannot deny the thrill of having some sort of instant gratification, albeit for different purposes.

As companies try and find new ways of assessing their CX quality and strategy, it should be imperative that consumer expectations match the company’s offering, while often this is not the case. Consumer expectations are freight and volatile, mixed with brand awareness and the constant time constraints, so that sometimes we give a high score to a specific interaction only because of its speed and type of channel, not with the final quality of the experience. But as complexity arises, we’re no longer measuring a “first call resolution” but an entire journey that could span several channels and that is directly linked to a company KPI. The speed of answer is as important as the answer itself, mostly because we are now used to fast-everything and do not accept any sort of delay.


What are your thoughts on this? Would you rather have instant gratification or effective resolution  from your providers? And how should CX quality be measured then?