Fixing the Customer Experience is a Company-Wide Effort

There's a lot of discussion about the need for companies to improve both the quality of service they deliver to consumers and their overall treatment of customers. Based on the increasing volume of complaints about a bad (or worse) customer experience (CX), it's hard to argue with this sentiment. However, there's more to the situation than meets the eye, and it's a story that needs to be told.

It's the company, not just the contact center, that needs to improve their CX. It's easy to point to the contact center and blame its agents for delivering a bad CX. Why? Because they are the organization's voic and are responsible for directly interacting with customers. In this role, they are often in the unenviable position of having to defend the company's outdated or overly restrictive policies to their customers, which includes explaining (or making excuses) when something goes wrong in another department. Being an agent is a very challenging job: agents bear the responsibility for whatever mistakes happen in the company, but they generally have little ability to prevent them. To be fair, some agents are not suited for the job and others who are poorly trained, but this is a very small part of what is driving up complaints.

This is where things get interesting.

Companies can improve their CX. This begins with tracking each of the issues identified by customers (and brought to contact center agents' attention) down to their underlying cause(s) and fixing them. It's conceptually simple but very difficult to practice, and to date, most companies have not been able, and in many cases willing, to take this approach. There are several reasons for this, including the potential disruption, time, and cost. This isn't to say that some companies haven't tried, because they have. Take customer journey mapping as an example. This is a process in which companies attempt to identify bottlenecks or the underlying source of an issue. Although these initiatives might locate a few obstacles, by the time the root cause can be fixed, it's already impacted a significant portion of the company's customer base. It's better than not doing anything, as one of the outcomes of these initiatives is to correct the underlying problem, but this time-consuming process is challenging because much of the analysis and work is done manually.

There is a better way. There are alternative approaches that will work to improve the CX. The primary issue is that implementing them will require significant changes in company culture, how work is performed and tracked, and very likely its goals and rewards. In other words, it's about the necessity to overhaul some well-established (and generally unquestioned) ways in which companies operate. Companies need to break down artificial walls between departments and establish accountability at every step of the customer journey. This can be accomplished by implementing a work and process flow where each phase can be thoroughly evaluated and measured. Essentially, this is the business case for implementing customer journey analytics, which is the only known way to truly improve CX. It really is impossible to fix what can't be measured.

The Value

Companies will realize many benefits from analyzing the full customer journey and identifying process improvements. This is one component of the digital transformation: finding ways to digitize or automate tasks to boost performance and enhance the CX as a result. DMG estimates that simply by reducing the volume of rework (or in the contact center's case, increasing the first contact resolution rate), companies will be able to reduce the operating costs of many departments by 5 percent to 10 percent, and possibly more. But the impact to the bottom line increases greatly when lost revenue due to bad customer service is also considered.

The challenge in calculating the reduction in operating costs is that many companies do not have an effective method (or any method, in many cases) of capturing and quantifying the effort and cost of reprocessing customer requests. Additionally, they can't gauge the impact on their customer experience. Therefore, companies concentrate on what they do know and can measure, which is what happens in the contact center. While it's important to assess and improve contact center performance, it's equally important to track and evaluate what happens to customers at every stage of their journeys.

Companies can improve the CX they deliver to customers and can do so while reducing operating costs and enhancing the employee experience. But to make it happen, they have to expand their perspective of what and who is involved in the service experience. Contact centers might be the only department to interact with a customer approximately 25 percent to 30 percent of the time, but in the rest of the situations, it is a company-wide effort. The math is pretty simple; fixing the issue is not. But, it must be done, and it should be addressed as part of each company's digital transformation.

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