Alfred ‘Chip’ Kahn of OvationCXM On The Future of Money and Banking

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine

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I think to be successful you have to know where things are heading innovation-wise, but you also have to realize it’s going to take a lot longer for the industry to get there than you think. You have to be able to see the future, but you also need to have patience for that future to materialize. It takes energy, perseverance, repetition, integrity, and patience.

The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alfred “Chip” Kahn IV.

Founder and CEO of OvationCXM, Alfred “Chip” Kahn IV, is a leader in customer experience management. Kahn founded and ran several companies throughout his vast career. Before creating OvationCXM, Kahn founded IP Commerce, a software development company. As CEO, he was able to cultivate an idea and turn it into a company worth $8 billion in annual payment volume, directly helping companies like Square and Intuit launch their own payment solutions. His experience in running a successful enterprise led him to serve as a board advisor for Leapset, IP Commerce and GiftNow.

Throughout his vast experience across the tech industry, Kahn recognized a crippling disconnect between customers and their servicing organizations’ ability to address their needs. He founded OvationCXM to help fix this costly disconnect across the industry. Kahn leveraged his experience with technology and information systems to create CXMEngine, a platform created to design, guide and fix broken customer journeys in real-time. Kahn’s entrepreneurial insights will continue to push OvationCXM’s momentous success and drive customer relationships for years to come.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?

After growing up during the 90s tech boom, I became obsessed with digital networks. I started my first business right after graduating from Colorado State University, and soon developed a passion for software and the power it has to disrupt broken or antiquated systems. I quickly became a serial entrepreneur and founded several companies throughout the hospitality, e-commerce, and customer experience sectors.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When my friend and I started our first business out of college, we had saved $10,000 to use as our seed money. We were eating ramen. I had just turned 22, and I had about $10 in my pocket. We had a meeting in San Francisco and the only way we could get there was to use airline points for a flight the night before. So we got there, slept on a park bench in San Francisco in our suits, used the public restroom to get ready the next morning, and headed off to the meeting — it went great, and we actually won the business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I think there are many lessons to live by. To me, a few of the most important life lessons are integrity, loyalty, and work ethic. You can be as smart as you want, but you need to put in the time and effort. You need to do what you say you’re going to do, be good to the people who are good to you, and work hard.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

Embedded finance has become commonplace throughout many industries as businesses desire built-in financial services in the platforms they use every day. Although embedded finance provides opportunities by increasing convenience to the end-user and expanding revenue streams for the financial institutions that power the products, embedded finance also complicates a bank’s ecosystem. It can make it harder to deliver A-plus customer experiences. That’s what led us to create CXMEngine, our customer experience management platform, and that’s what I’m working on.

At the end of 2022, we surveyed over 4,000 business owners and operators in Q4 to uncover significant pain points that they experienced during financial product and service onboarding, support, and servicing. And it confirmed what we were seeing with clients. There were too many organizations and people disconnected from each other while taking care of customers, so their journeys were fragmented and frustrating.

Through our research, which we released in our CXM Impact Report, we also discovered that 76% of businesses have given up while onboarding a B2B financial product or service. And nine out of 10 businesses said they needed assistance from their financial institution. Still, very few problems were ever resolved with a single contact — it took about four exchanges before it was resolved. Of those that felt onboarding “wasn’t easy,” 25% said they would probably not give their financial institution another chance with a product or service.

And frankly, we are seeing the same sentiment across many different industries and clients we work with. It’s a massive problem. As the economy continues to become increasingly unstable, businesses need to hold onto customers and provide a more connected, seamless customer journey. To do that they also need to be able to keep track of where their customers are and how they are progressing in their journey by connecting their siloed “Frankenstein-ed” infrastructure into a unified view of their customers.

In a nutshell, that’s what we are doing with CXMEngine. Through pre-built connectors, we help companies connect all of their disparate systems across the organization and external partner systems so teams can see a customer journey and provide support from end-to-end, in real-time. Until now, CXM technology has been focused on capturing feedback AFTER the fact, but that is often too late, causing the customer to become frustrated and leave. What we’ve done is give businesses the tools to see a customer journey all the way through in a unified view that everyone who is interacting with the customer can see and provide support as it’s happening. It’s a new category, and it’s an exciting project — to help organizations manage CX in real-time.

How do you think this might change the world?

Organizations that want to be customer-obsessed and create seamless experiences haven’t had dedicated tools that could bring together all of their teams, systems, communication channels, or visibility into a single, unified view. They’ve tried to repurpose other existing legacy systems, like CRMs or ticketing systems, but it hasn’t worked. Customer satisfaction scores continue to drop to their lowest point in a decade or more even with the focus on digital transformation. And since legacy systems were built for other purposes, it makes sense.

But today’s enterprises — from banking and healthcare to technology and SaaS — keep adding more offerings and microservices to their ecosystem to meet customer’s changing expectations; this requires an orchestration layer like CXMEngine to make sure the customer doesn’t feel the effects and chaos from multiple partners, systems, and businesses.

No matter how easy embedded finance makes it to access services, customers have shown little patience with missed hand-offs, poor communication, missing information or confusing processes. So, it’s essential that embedded finance partners orchestrate a seamless experience across all parties, which will continue to be a growing part of an enterprise’s ecosystem. That’s difficult to pull off with existing infrastructure.

With CXM, we’re bridging that gap, enabling institutions to design and build personalized journeys for their customers that, in turn, optimize customer relationships. CXM extends the value of an institution’s existing internal tools by connecting third-party ecosystem partners, process automation, journey orchestration, and communication channels together seamlessly through one platform. Unlike other legacy systems, our platform is no code and doesn’t require re-architecture, allowing businesses to implement its technology and make changes with ease.

What most excites you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?

Payments started from banking, so they are two sides of the same coin. You can’t use a card to make or accept a payment without a bank. Payments are now in the workflow and the software that businesses use every day. There’s a long way to go and there are a lot of other services you can bundle with that, but that was the big breakthrough. They can get faster or less expensive, but moving from hardware to software and creating a secure payment system was huge. I think continuing to expand on that is one of the most exciting things.

What most concerns you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? What would you suggest needs to be done to address that?

While any economic decline brings about adverse effects throughout every industry, it also stimulates creativity. The 2008 economic crisis made companies think more strategically about their interests, and startups across the globe formed to build solutions to problems that legacy institutions couldn’t solve.

Amidst layoffs, inflation, and a looming recession, financial institutions must maintain the quality of customer experience. Despite these challenges, customer expectations are continuing to rise. Companies need to think critically about how to do more with less.

Over the next few years, I expect new competition and technological advancement to turn up the pressure on antiquated legacy systems that continue to burn through their consumer trust. Businesses in the banking and payments industry are planning their budget and strategy for the year. Departments with little ROI are going to quickly face the chopping block of optimization.

While the economic climate is relatively unknown, one thing is for sure — don’t expect banks to cut customer experience budgets.

Banks must invest in the technologies required to insulate their business customers from disconnected experiences in the ecosystem, so they all feel a smooth, seamless end-to-end journey. If their journey feels more like a jarring dune buggy ride than a ride in a smooth luxury sedan, expect fallout like higher churn, revenue drops, and poor satisfaction scores. That’s why right now banks are partnering with fintech companies; so they can regain ownership, both because it’s a great source of revenue and also because it creates a stickier customer and can give insight into products they can offer.

How would you articulate how the concept of money has changed in recent times? Is it really a change? How is it still the same? Can you explain what you mean?

Money is really time technology; it allows you to have things now you would have to wait for. It started with bartering, then it became asset-based until people figured out that they could issue more money than they actually had to more people because no one would come to collect it all at once. We can just make money out of thin air, and that’s the argument for crypto — bring scarcity back. There can only be 21 million bitcoins, but there can be an infinite amount of federal reserve. The challenge is that there is so much fiat that the price of things is going up when, in reality, through technology, the price of things should be going down. I think in the next few years we’ll be trying to solve that by introducing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which is really just another form of fiat, but ultimately we have to get to sound money at some point.

Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

I think everyone in banking is really focused on embedded finance, which is an extension of integrated payments. With that, you can allow software developers to innovate new use cases for different vertical markets and business sizes. At the end of the day, you still need to have the banks doing risk management, moving the funds, and handling the settlement. Moving that into where businesses do work every day and where consumers spend time is expected to grow the market. That’s where customer experience management (CXM) comes in. When you have more parties serving a single customer, you have to orchestrate multiple parties to provide a seamless customer experience in real-time. CXM is a complex process, but it’s a massive opportunity, and it’s worth the investment.

How has the pandemic changed the way banks interact and engage with their customers?

As a result of the pandemic, banks rely on digital solutions now more than ever and ​​business owners no longer feel beholden to ancient institutions. While larger institutions are cutting costs, SMBs are also becoming more strategic and are looking to audit services that no longer fit their needs. Every company looks to streamline its costs this year, and it’s up to banking institutions to prove that they’re worth sticking around for.

In your particular experience, how has the pandemic changed the way you interact with, and engage your customers?

We’ve had to pivot. There were no on-site visits or dinners, so it became less personal and impacted relationships. We’ll probably feel the effects of that for a long time, but there are a lot of great tools to help make up for it. For example, I’m on very few phone calls nowadays, but I am on a lot of video calls and that’s way more personal than sitting around a phone in the conference room.

I’m very interested in the importance of user experience. How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, encrypted messaging apps, phone, or video calls? How has this shift impacted the user and customer experience? What challenges do these apps present when used as a customer engagement tool?

Even as customers expect high-touch service, especially around their banking, they also want greater convenience and to have conversations on the platforms they prefer at the times they want. And they want to move back and forth between their preferred channels with no drop-off or the need to repeat their problem and information each time. So on one hand, they are embracing these tools, like chatbots and SMS, in addition to email and phone. Our platform has led the way in offering these tools — for example, our Conversations module has a very robust, drag-and-drop bot builder built on natural language processing and AI that is also automating many CX tasks for our clients.

The challenge organizations face is making it feel like a singular journey when, in reality, all of these tools, systems, teams, and partners operate in separate, functional silos. Organizations must continue to evolve to keep pace with emerging technologies — look at ChatGPT. Technology keeps advancing and it moves the bar on customer expectations and that’s the challenge — keeping pace with advancing customer expectations in a way that optimizes the journey instead of making it more chaotic.

If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?

We already have! Our flagship product, CXMEngine, is a platform purposely designed to guide and fix customer experiences at the moment so companies can celebrate customer success while driving significant financial benefits to their business. The platform helps enterprises deliver exceptional customer experiences by unlocking customer data visibility and enabling cross-channel communication and collaboration. CXMEngine combines the aggregation of internal and third-party systems, customer journey design and automation tools, knowledge delivery, and multi-channel communications into one seamless platform.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Modern Finance, Banking and Fintech industries? (Please share a story or example for each.)

I think to be successful you have to know where things are heading innovation-wise, but you also have to realize it’s going to take a lot longer for the industry to get there than you think. You have to be able to see the future, but you also need to have patience for that future to materialize. It takes energy, perseverance, repetition, integrity, and patience.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’ve always been inspired by small businesses and how they transform families and communities through hard work and innovation. It’s how our company began — helping small businesses in boomtowns take care of customers well, which ultimately strengthens the cities and towns and the connection of the people in those places. I continue to see small businesses as the core of our economy, and supporting them alongside our work with larger organizations, leveraging technology and other initiatives is something I’ll always be involved in.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: https://www.ovationcxm.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chipkahn/

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

About The Interviewer: Jason Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Empowered Investor. Jason has been involved in several thousand real estate transactions and has owned income properties in 11 states and 17 cities. Empowered Investor helps people achieve The American Dream of financial freedom by purchasing income property in prudent markets nationwide. Jason’s Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ is a comprehensive system providing real estate investors with education, research, resources and technology to deal with all areas of their income property investment needs. Through Jason’s podcasts, educational events, referrals, mentoring and software to track your investments, investors can easily locate, finance and purchase properties in these exceptional markets with confidence and peace of mind.

Starting with very little, Jason, while still in college at the age of 19, embarked on a career in real estate. While brokering properties for clients, he was investing in his own portfolio along the way. Through creativity, persistence and hard work, he earned a number of prestigious industry awards and became a young multi-millionaire. Jason purchased a California real estate brokerage firm that was later acquired by Coldwell Banker. He combined his dedication and business talents to become a successful entrepreneur, public speaker, author, and media personality. Over the years he developed his Complete Solution for Real Estate Investors™ where his innovative firm educates and assists investors in acquiring prudent investments nationwide for their portfolio. Jason’s sought after educational events, speaking engagements, and his popular “Creating Wealth Podcast” inspire and empower hundreds of thousands of people in 189 countries worldwide.

While running his successful real estate and media businesses, Jason also believes that giving back to the community plays an important role in building strong personal relationships. He established The Jason Hartman Foundation in 2005 to provide financial literacy education to young adults providing the all-important real world skills not taught in school which are the key to the financial stability and success of future generations. We’re in a global monetary crisis caused by decades of misguided policies and the cycle of financial dependence has to be broken, literacy and self-reliance are a good start. Visit JasonHartman.com for free materials and resources.

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Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine

Author | Speaker | Financial Guru | Podcast Rockstar