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Crucial to Business Success, Customer Experience Drives Resiliency and Agility

Organizations once viewed customer experience (CX) as an expensive, necessary evil. Today, the tides have turned, with companies and their boards of directors understanding CX is a key business/revenue driver. 

With this change in mindset, companies see CX as a market differentiator. In fact, DataStream research conducted from 2010-2020 revealed financial performance of companies prioritizing CX had higher net promotor scores (NPSs) and yielded 3x-higher returns for shareholders than CX laggards. 

As part of our 2022 CX Masterclass Series, Everest Group’s Shirley Hung, partner of Business Process Services, and David Rickard, vice president of CXM, discussed this very topic during their Achieving Business Resiliency and Agility keynote.

Everest Group is a global research firm focused on IT, business process and engineering services and the technologies that power those processes and functions, as well as the related talent trends and strategies. Hung leads a team of analysts focusing on customer experience management (CXM), among other areas. Rickard leads Everest Group’s CXM service, and other areas, for EMEA customers and selected accounts.

Following are key insights from the session. 

Re-examining operating models with CX in mind

The past two-plus years solidified the importance of customer experience. During the pandemic, CX organizations’ resiliency and agility was put to the test as many were forced to go digital and rapidly shift to work-from-home models. Companies and their CX service providers combined forces to ensure disruptions were minimal.

As the dust continues settling, companies understand a CX-focused mindset change is critical. This includes re-examining their operating model to encompass more technology and incorporate a hybrid workforce.

Even more conservative, regulated industries like banking, insurance and healthcare, which ensure necessary data security and regulatory compliance to deliver customer support remotely, understand the need to modernize their CX infrastructure to compete with disruptors and satisfy customers’ needs.

All companies wishing to optimize customer experience have hurdles to clear. This includes securing and using data to improve CX, anticipating future customer needs and expertly navigating the talent crisis. 

Incorporating technology is key to improved CX

In addition to workforce operations, automation and other technologies provide solutions to strengthen CX. Half (49%) of organizations surveyed by Everest Group said they are working toward achieving a 360-degree view of their customer, regardless of the channel to provide the hyper-personalized customer experience. Doing so helps strengthen the customer-brand relationship. 

Automation, such as robotic process automation (RPA) can take on mundane CX tasks, enabling agents to provide better, more consistent service. This tool can eliminate the need for customers to fill out the same information repeatedly or to re-explain their history to an agent, which improves their experience and can help solidify the relationship. 

The expectation is that intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs), aka chatbots, will increasingly take on more complex tasks, like cross-selling and up-selling, but the human touch is not going away. As these technologies currently lack the emotional intelligence and empathy a human CX employee can provide, successful organizations are using the technology to complement the human touch, creating a better overall CX environment.

CX leaders and their agents must strive for an external lens to better understand what processes and technologies others are using to increase customer experience. 

Improving employee experience goes hand in hand with CX

Improved customer experience requires improved employee experience. Happy agents provide better CX, a win-win for customers, employees and the company. Particularly in the era of the great resignation, companies with a CX mindset get that your people deliver customer service that goes above and beyond.

However, talent is difficult to find. As such, companies are looking at employees in other areas of the world to curtail cost and fill the talent gap. 

Increasingly, even more traditional organizations are considering offshoring or nearshoring to gain more staff and increase CX. Companies are leveraging gig workers for difficult-to-find expertise and realizing a hybrid model will help attract and retain more employees. As we navigate back toward normal, offices know they must incorporate work from home because the pandemic has proven it’s successful and benefits employees and companies alike.

However, this means companies are taking on more complexity related to on-site and remote employees, whether nearshore, onshore, offshore. These options lead to more resiliency to flex up and down but also create a complex business matrix. Technology can help. 

For instance, digital transformation from tech that includes RPA, chatbots, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), enable organizations to provide more seamless transactions across multiple touchpoints and channels.  

If a CX agent, for example, promises to send follow-up information to a customer and automation takes care of this task immediately, the customer and employee experience both improve. Automation can take on mundane tasks such as populating information into forms, freeing up CX agents for more rewarding, customer-facing/CX duties.

Now is the time to examine your CX processes

The transition to digital CX is here, and it’s critical for organizations to recognize and implement the changes needed to deliver a market differentiating experience.