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CX Innovators - Marlene Kolodziej of Ricoh

CX Innovators: Dr. Marlene Kolodziej, Ricoh

Improving Customer Satisfaction and Operational Efficiency in the Age of Digital Transformation

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Dr. Marlene Kolodziej is Senior Vice President of Service Delivery at  Ricoh USA, Inc., a digital services and information management company that is the North American subsidiary of Ricoh Company, Ltd., a Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company with around 80,000 employees and a customer base of roughly 1.4 million businesses worldwide. Ricoh has been in business for more than 85 years and currently serves 84% of Fortune 500 companies, with a successful track record of evolving its business model over the years amidst ongoing advancements in technology and changing business needs. Kolodziej has extensive background in IT service delivery and operations at companies such as Northwell Health, Dow Jones & Company, and FMC Corporation. She joined Ricoh in 2019 and was previously Vice President, Centralized Services until being promoted to her current role in October 2022. Her team maintains support services in 6 different countries, all utilizing Ricoh employees.

Dr. Marlene Kolodziej, Senior Vice President of Service Delivery, Ricoh USA

Most Significant CX Challenges

“Ricoh brings people, processes, and technologies together,” says Kolodziej, noting that while print is still foundational to the company’s business, it is evolving to become more transformational and more digital, helping customers to unleash the power of information and unlock the full potential of their business. She adds that Ricoh’s customers span a wide range of segments, from traditional print (hardware/software) to production-scale print, third parties, IT support services (service desk, software support, and onsite engineers), and the e-discovery market.

Kolodziej notes that a key challenge over the past few years has been the move to a remote workforce, especially with the loss of in-person interaction and tribal knowledge that feeds off interpersonal dynamics. To adapt, Ricoh created and optimized repeatable processes for a remote environment, with an enhanced focus on employee wellbeing and fulfillment. According to Kolodziej, increasing employee fulfillment by 15-20% has a direct correlation to customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and results in a 10% improvement in CSAT. Powered by Ricoh’s Culture of Excellence that celebrates individual team members and their role in delivering on the company’s overall business strategy, Kolodziej and her team therefore embarked on a “shift left” initiative to improve CX and EX at the same time, an undertaking in which technology and processes had to be pulled apart and put back together again.

CX Success Stories

Ricoh implemented an advanced technology initiative with five key components focused on knowledge-centric services:

  1. Quality assurance (QA) program
  2. Chatbots
  3. Augmented reality (AR)
  4. Call center tools and ticketing system
  5. Remote resolution

Kolodziej states that successful deployment was an iterative process, with all relevant stakeholders included in the rollout planning. For example, she says, they had to look at customer contracts that outlined particular methods of resolving issues, such as service agreements that stipulated field technicians addressing specific types of problems, whereas some of those functions can now be performed remotely. This required not only modifications to customer contracts, but also shifts in the company culture along with technology and process changes. Ricoh is focusing increasingly on Level 0 touchpoints, which involve customer self-resolution, shifting workloads away from more costly Levels 1-3 category problems that require more hands-on support.

Internal Processes

Consistent with Dash Network’s findings throughout the CX Innovator Series, Kolodziej states that Ricoh’s CX initiatives had executive buy-in and broad organizational support, and that her predecessor built trust in the new CX-focused group’s priorities. Kolodziej and team established a 3-year roadmap with a draft plan for years 4-5 and, while she acknowledges that the order and priority of the plan had to be changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything was accomplished in the end. She credits Ricoh’s success to the willingness of the organization to shift culture, and the willingness of leadership to trust what the team was doing.

Key Technologies

Ricoh started off its transformation initiative with established technology elements they knew would have to come together in a more integrated way. For instance, upgrading the company’s automated call distribution (ACD) system to a cloud-based system was identified as an early priority. Workforce management was another priority, says Kolodziej, especially given that so many processes were handled manually until recently. To support new agents, Ricoh implemented an agent assist system utilizing AI to provide automated scripts or relevant articles. Kolodziej notes it was one of the biggest shifts they have made to date. Ricoh connected all the agent support systems to ServiceNow, and their Virtual Service Agent combines ServiceNow ticketing functionality, the ACD system, and chat systems.

Looking toward emerging technologies, Kolodziej says that Ricoh relied heavily upon augmented reality (AR) and merged reality capabilities during the early stages of the pandemic. They utilized mobile devices for AR, and have been piloting smart glasses as well. “Being able to have our delivery drivers install a new machine – with help from AR – while removing an old one was a surprise benefit of AR,” adds Kolodziej. She anticipates broader use of such technologies in the future but states that changes are often initiated by customer needs. Meanwhile, the company continues to refine its business practices in coordination with the rollout of new technology – with plans to implement experience level agreements (XLAs) to complement more traditional service level agreements (SLAs), for example.

Predictions for CX Market Development

“We have to move to spaces where we’ve never been before – uncomfortable spaces,” says Kolodziej, acknowledging that change is not easy for any large organization, whether it is technological, cultural, or operational in nature. She adds that each company will need to find its place with regard to the balance of self-service and full-service, based on the needs and expectations of its customers and the company’s ability to deliver service effectively across its own unique mix of channels and touchpoints.

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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