Your Customer Experience: Is it Time for a General Contractor?

There's a show on HGTV called Help, I Wrecked My House. It's about homeowners who've taken on projects they were ill-equipped to handle, so they call in an expert (in this case Jasmine Roth) to complete, and in some cases redo, the renovation.

During the pandemic, as customers moved online and customer service agents moved offsite, many companies undertook digital transformation initiatives. Their goals were to improve customer satisfaction, boost agent productivity and effectiveness, increase sales, and lower costs. It didn't always go smoothly, and now it&'s time for them to figure out where to go from here.

Prepandemic, many customer experience (CX) operations were in maintenance mode. When things broke or wore out, companies fixed them, but rarely did they take the long view with the big picture in mind. This is not to say they weren't making progress. Yet most felt their programs were structurally sound, requiring only periodic touchups. But when the ground beneath them shifted suddenly, it became clear that wasn't the case.

A November 2021 report by [24], titled "The CX Reality Check: Momentum Interrupted," is based on surveys of 500 CX leaders contrasted with 500 consumers across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The research, following up on a 2020 study, found that customer experience has not significantly improved, and many digital transformations have stalled.

While 61 percent of businesses felt their digital channels delivered consistent customer experiences, their automated channels failed 50 percent of the time. Additionally, when switching support channels, 89 percent of customers were asked to repeat information.

Doing, Managing, or Outsourcing the Work

While remodeling the customer experience yourself might sound appealing, and maybe you think you have the skills, there are a lot of finely crafted, fast-moving parts to create and orchestrate. Do you have the requisite time, experience/expertise, and gear to properly envision, plan, execute, maintain, and upgrade what will be a comprehensive, intensive, complicated, and, in many ways, ongoing project? And do you have all that in a way that sets you up for success?

You could hire specialized contractors with the expertise to fill your needs, but you'll likely run into many of the same problems as you would doing the work yourself. In that scenario, you're solely responsible for creating the vision, pulling together all the resources, and managing everyone's efforts while weaving them into a cohesive whole. You have to inspect and assess the work and stay alert for updates.

The other scenario is to bring in a general contractor, a partner with the wherewithal—all the skills, know-how, insight, and resources—to chart the best way forward, set you on the right path, and achieve every milestone along the way.

CX-as-a-Service as a Promising Way Forward

CX-as-a-service(CXaaS) is a fully managed approach to customer engagement that eliminates the need to manage multiple vendors while delivering the experiences that customers expect quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. It combines talent, services, and technology to improve customer satisfaction and net promoter scores, unify strategy across departments, and deliver differentiated experiences. It accelerates CX transformation while reducing costs, maximizing existing technology investments, improving agent productivity, and decreasing risk.

Stepping up your CX game means adopting digital technologies and processes. And that requires your organization to implement and continually manage significant new software, services, and personnel resources. You'll have to connect companywide technology silos, integrate artificial intelligence with human insight, and make the most of a remote agent workforce.

A CXaaS partner can facilitate the following:

  • Determining customer intent so your CX system directs the query to the agent—automated or human—best able to handle it.
  • Meeting customers on their channels of choice. Whether it's SMS, web, messaging, or the phone, the experience should feel the same.
  • Ensuring seamless bot-to-human agent handoffs so conversations never have to start over.
  • Combining AI with human insight. Live agent input improves machine learning, while the AI minimizes agent effort, boosts productivity, and enhances response quality.
  • Incorporating robust security features for customer authentication and privacy.
  • Defining a long-term vision for conversational AI. What do you want the customer experience to be like in three to five years?
  • Implementing asynchronous messaging, which enables a single, continuous conversation with customers across channels.

CX digital transformation is daunting, but it pays enormous dividends when aligned with your business goals, deployed consistently across departments, measured using the appropriate KPIs, and managed and optimized from a single point of control.

So think this through. Then get going.

Monti Becker Kelly is senior vice president of customer engagement and strategic accounts at [24]