Consumers Deserve a Great CX: Here's How to Make it Happen

Consumer expectations have changed dramatically in recent years, and many of the past service, sales, and marketing tactics that worked are no longer effective. Companies need to modify their approaches to customer interactions, whether they're employee-assisted or self-service, to deliver an outstanding experience. Organizations should overhaul their customer-facing departments to enable them to continuously up their game and address the dynamic expectations of their customers. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are making practical and high-value contributions to companies and their customers.

Providing an excellent customer experience (CX) is much harder than it seems, as most of us have seen. Many companies say they are committed to this goal, but few can achieve it on a regular basis. A contact center's ability to deliver a great CX to thousands or millions of consumers requires the right systems and applications, complemented by well-trained employees who are supported with appropriate policies, procedures, and best practices.

Contact centers are complex and expensive to build, operate, and maintain, requiring a strong commitment from senior executives. Organizations that view their contact centers as essential corporate contributors generally do a much better job delivering an outstanding CX than those that see them primarily as cost centers. While the primary function of service-oriented contact centers is handling customer inquiries, this is only one aspect of the contributions they make. Contact centers are the lifeline to customers, and companies need them to positively represent their brand in the market. But being essential doesn't justify overspending on employees or technology, which is why leading contact centers constantly seek new ways to enhance service delivery and productivity. To achieve this goal, operating departments need forward-thinking managers and innovative solutions that continuously deliver a differentiated and cost-effective experience that's compelling for customers and employees alike.

As important as contact centers are, they are just one of many departments involved in the customer journey. When consumers want to make a purchase or need help, they generally begin their journey with a self-service solution, typically the website or mobile app, or maybe a conversational intelligent virtual agent (IVA). Self-service is now the preferred way to interact with businesses, but if it fails to address consumers' needs, they are likely to reach out to an agent or salesperson or visit a storefront or branch office.

Even when contact center agents say they are taking care of customer requests, they might have to direct the inquiry to another department, such as a back-office operation, to resolve it. Departments throughout the company must have the right information to properly handle customer inquiries or requests. For these reasons, companies need a customer journey analytics (CJA) application to track an interaction from its point of entry through to the last department or person involved in its resolution. CJA solutions should identify each customer contact's underlying reason, follow the request/inquiry as it moves from one touchpoint (or department) to another, discover operational bottlenecks that hold it up, and make recommendations to improve the process flow. To do this, CJA solutions rely on AI-based interaction analytics (IA) technology to transcribe customer conversations or to find the relevant components in a digital request. This becomes an input to the CJA application and process, along with other structured and unstructured data and metadata from additional operating systems. All of this information is combined and analyzed to evaluate the process and workflow to ensure it worked correctly and met expected service level (time frames) and customer expectations at each step.

Customer Journey Analytics

Source: DMG Consulting, November 2023

Delivering a great CX is much harder than it looks; however, it is essential for companies that want to build their brands. Contact centers—whether sales, marketing, customer service, etc.—play an important role in many customer journeys, but improving the CX (and reducing operating costs) requires a deeper look within an organization, as contact centers generally are not the root cause of disappointed or frustrated customers. This is where customer journey analytics come in; these AI-enabled solutions are instrumental in capturing, analyzing, and measuring employee and system performance at every customer touchpoint. CJA findings will identify operational, procedural, and technical bottlenecks and inefficiencies throughout the enterprise, helping position companies to fix underlying problems. It's challenging to apply cross-departmental systems, but it is the most-effective way of putting an enterprise on the proper path to delivering a great CX, cost-effectively.

Donna Fluss, president of DMG Consulting, is an expert on contact centers, analytics, and back-office technology. She has 30 years of experience helping organizations build contact centers and back-office operating environments and assisting vendors to deliver competitive solutions. She can be reached at