In my last article I explored the complex evolution of managing customer service and the broader customer experience (CX). From the halcyon days of a contact centre in the basement taking calls during office hours Monday to Friday to the present-day omnichannel solutions that operate 24/7 and use Artificial Intelligence and robots to serve customers.
The entire CX ecosystem can be baffling to those managers who still think that providing a customer experience still revolves around managing a contact centre – internally or with a CX specialist doing the heavy lifting. The previous article talked about a blend between operational processes, technology, and culture, but I’d like to demonstrate just how easily confusion can reign by listing some of the tools utilised in modern CX solutions.
- Robotic Process Automation and RDA: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Robotic Desktop Automation (RDA) allow repetitive business processes and tasks to be automated, improving efficiency, accuracy, and removing the need to manually process mundane tasks.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI can listen to customers and advise agents on the best possible answer or directly engage with customers through the use of smart chatbots – the uses are increasing constantly and can help customers and employees involved in helping customers. The machines are getting smarter.
- Machine Learning: imagine if your system could learn from every interaction with a customer and then always remember the solution to a problem? Very quickly the system will know the answer to almost every new problem, unknown problems will be extremely rare. This can support a smart chatbot or directly support CX agents, giving them the experience of every previous customer interaction.
- Data analytics: most companies have so much data on their customer preferences and purchase history, but no information or insight. Analytics can help you figure out what your customers like and dislike and what they are likely to want next. You can spot patterns and plan interventions with discounts or recommendations.
- Cloud Computing: storing data and applications in the cloud has been getting far more popular in recent years and the need for distributed workforces and a resilient network during the pandemic has emphasised the use of this strategy.
- Natural Language Processing: Alexa and Siri have made customers familiar with the process of talking to machines, but can your own customer experience strategy benefit from this approach?
- Gamification: using the concept of making a task fun by making it feel like a game can be used to help agents working on a customer service team or even to help customers directly. The language learning app Duolingo is a good example of gamification in action.
Not every CX solution needs all these tools and technologies, but any modern brand interacting with their customers using an omnichannel approach will need several of them and as you increasingly want to improve CX, more will be needed. It can sometimes feel like a CX technology arms race.
Which is why it makes sense to work with the expert suppliers. This ecosystem is now so complex that I believe it’s almost impossible to design an effective CX solution in-house that meets the needs of a modern customer. It may be possible to design and build a basic solution, but once you need to add machine learning and data analytics onto a basic customer service solution then you will need deep expertise very quickly.
An expert supplier will not just install the technology. You should work with a partner that can sit with you and discover what you need – what is the business imperative that is driving this CX improvement? They should be able to design an effective solution, build it, and then manage it on an ongoing basis.
A smart partner will also have the confidence to offer an outcome-based partnership model. This industry should now be long past the sale of seats in a contact centre as a pricing model. If your CX partner can’t help you design a solution and then agree on a pricing model that is based on your customers being more satisfied, then you need a new partner.