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CX innovator Deba Sahoo of Fidelity Investments

CX Innovators: Deba Sahoo, Fidelity Investments

Elevating Digital CX in the Investment Management Sector

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Deba Sahoo is senior vice president and head of product at Fidelity Investments, the financial services corporation based in Boston that is among the largest asset managers in the world, with products and services in investment management, financial planning, wealth management, and retirement planning and advice.

Sahoo is a seasoned chief product officer and product/general management executive in the financial services and fintech industry. A distinguished speaker and thought leader in many areas, including product management and leadership, digital transformation, customer journeys, and artificial intelligence (AI), Sahoo is a winner of the Global Chief Product Officer 20, an award celebrating the 20 most influential and innovative CPOs leading digital transformations across the globe.

At Fidelity, Sahoo’s product organization focuses on innovating and digitizing the core journeys of the firm’s clients in its Workplace business and on providing them with optimal CX. He has led several company initiatives in AI in pursuit of ways to improve CX and to drive operational excellence. After holding various leadership roles in strategy, product, data science, and engineering over the years, Sahoo moved into his product leadership role focusing on the transformation and digitization of customer journeys and customer experiences in business-to-business (B2B) settings.

Deba Sahoo, Senior Vice President and Head of Product, Fidelity Investments

Most Significant CX Challenges

Given Fidelity’s different business lines and the company’s historical focus on operations and distribution, Sahoo says a shift has taken place with CX now seen as an area of tremendous opportunity, the expectations of an amazing customer experience that took place traditionally in a business-to-consumer (B2C) setting now spilling over and affecting the B2B sphere as well.

The challenge, then, lies in transforming CX in a B2B setting, Sahoo feels. To effect transformation, the enterprise must make CX its primary means of interacting with customers, not relegate CX to a supporting role. Full engagement is especially critical in high-value interactions, and resources must be allocated accordingly. Change management is also trickier in a B2B environment, Sahoo says, involving more complexity on both the customer side as well as internally among company employees.

CX Success Stories

Fidelity can be said to have achieved a significant measure of maturity over the years, Sahoo firmly believes, and the firm has done well relative to its rivals while also constantly reinvesting its resources. Very robust and mature capabilities can also be found in Fidelity’s user experience (UX) research, design, content, enterprise architecture, and standard design patterns.

Sahoo says Fidelity is not worried by competition in the space. Of more interest to the company is how it can elevate the experience of its customers to match those being provided by other industries, where a more mature CX serves as the norm and is cause for emulation. 

Fidelity’s view on customer journeys has also deepened, Sahoo notes, extending end to end. Roles in the product community have been created, with some of the most senior product managers now designated as journey owners as well.

The perceptible shift to CX at Fidelity can be seen in how the company’s B2B customers are brought onboard. Able to onboard 1,500-2,000 employer customers every year in a three-month-long process, Fidelity is focused on digitizing the entire onboarding process, improving CX & reducing operational costs in the process while positioning itself as a leading-edge industry innovator.

Internal Barriers

For Sahoo, the single most important challenge and barrier to surmount is change management and how it impacts not just the firm’s customers but also its employees. In the financial world, stability, reliability, and continuity are paramount, and change—whether introduced by the company or imposed by the outside world—can be difficult, perceived as a risk, or disruption to the existing order of things, to the familiar ways of doing things among employees.

Thus, instituting change in a B2B setting constitutes an important balancing act, Sahoo believes, encompassing a proactive willingness to communicate and be transparent, explicit clarity and empathy in communication, and appropriate training in executing or absorbing change. Change should also be implemented slowly and deployed over a period of time, allowing for comprehension and understanding to sink in, Sahoo points out. Lastly, Sahoo advises scrupulous avoidance of the term “self-service,” especially as financial services customers must have confidence in knowing that access and support from the company are readily available at any time.

Predictions for CX Market Development

In four to five years, Sahoo would like to see CX as not just a program, but as part and parcel of every company’s makeup and structure. CX should be the way we do things, Sahoo declares, and the sooner we get there, the better.

About the CX Innovator Series

The CX Innovator Series is an actionable and educational industry initiative that showcases the best practices that leading end-user executives are using within their organizations to shape their community’s experience. The series is a collaborative effort between Dash Network, Sleeping Giant Labs, and Team Wakabayashi. Using expertly curated executive interviews combined with quantitative research from consumer surveys, the CX Innovator Series provides tangible insights and a deeper understanding of how successful companies are utilizing CX programs resulting in positive business outcomes.

The CX Innovator Series is made possible by support from our lead sponsors: Concentrix, eGain, Tealium, and QuestionPro. If you would be interested in participating in the CX Innovator initiative, either as part of an end-user interview or as a supporting sponsor, please contact us.

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