It’s long been acknowledged that the deciding factor for consumers when they’re choosing between products and brands is often the customer experience. Since this is such a longstanding idea, why is it imperative that organizations take a closer look at and reimagine their CX strategies now? We all know the impact of a bad experience and the ripple effects it can have on a brand and consumers. It is also common knowledge that even the power of a strong “brand” no longer assures customer loyalty.
In addition to the existing complexities of customer acquisition and loyalty in an ever-changing landscape of innovation and disruption, we now live in an environment where the power of choice is a push of a button or a simple request to Alexa away. The ongoing pandemic has driven significant changes in consumer consumption patterns. The traditional touchpoints for the consumption of goods and services and for customer support have dramatically shifted.
I believe mapping the customer’s journey from the first touchpoint to the final one, understanding their intent (both stated and unstated), and predicting actions or gleaning insights from the huge unstructured data sets we use to improve decisions have all become more important than ever.
The Trouble With Technology-Based Solutions
The cloud-based contact center as a service (CCaaS) model has enabled enterprises to augment contact center technology with the ability to scale on demand while maintaining relatively lower infrastructure costs. Cloud helped pave the way for increasingly automated and cognitive contact centers by bringing in further technological advancements, reducing human interactions and increasing efficiency. These technologies analyze huge chunks of customer data that often lie dormant in contact centers.
A 2019 McKinsey article emphasized that companies have used advanced analytics in contact centers to reduce average handle times by up to 40%, increase self-service containment rates by 5% to 20%, cut employee costs by up to $5 million and boost the conversion rate on service-to-sales calls by nearly 50%.
Savvy CX leaders today know that technology is only part of the solution. The disruption of the last two years has shown us that there are several components we should be considering that fall outside of the traditional technology-focused approach, including:
- A long-term strategy and vision for CX that drives business outcomes.
- Ownership of the full spectrum of CX and EX.
- A unified customer persona and journey across their digital footprint.
- Scalability of the entire CX ecosystem.
The reliance on multiple partners for technology and services can also result in discord rather than harmony, which can lead to disjointed CX and EX, higher costs and poor levels of customer and employee satisfaction.
An Integrated Approach
True CX transformation is so much more than just technology transformation. While technology remains a crucial lever, organizations should also include integrated strategy, employee amplification and process optimization in their transformation plans.
Enter customer-experience-as-a-service, or CXaaS, which enables customer-centric businesses to move away from their contact center platforms and patchwork of solutions and have a single strategic partner manage their CX environment in true “everything-as-a-service” style.
CXaaS is distinct from CCaaS, which typically only provides cloud-based contact centers and related technologies. CXaaS is a cloud-based offering that brings CX strategy, technology innovation and employee expertise together in an end-to-end managed services model. It typically entails consulting, as well as the implementation and management of end-to-end CX and EX operations.
CXaaS can enable process and technology standardization across global CX and EX operations. The model’s goal is to enable data to freely across layers of people, processes and tools so enterprises can get access to insights derived from correlated customer data, product data, customer service data, voice of customer (VoC) data from multiple digital channels, process data and so on. Business leaders can leverage this actionable intelligence to better understand changing customer behaviors, improve product features, forge deeper relationships and map out seamless customer journeys.
Choosing A Partner
CX ecosystems are complex. To truly succeed, enterprises should evaluate CXaaS partners on a myriad of parameters to ensure the success of their CXaaS implementation. For example, enterprises should ask providers:
- Strategy: How will the partner consult on and align their CX strategy to the organizational strategy to drive business outcomes?
- People: Does their talent base meet your needs? How can they improve the employee experience through technology?
- Services: What do their managed services for customer engagement and digital enablement entail?
- Technology: In what ways will their technology make the enterprise’s CX ecosystem experience more seamless? How does the partner leverage AI, automation and analytics? Will their solutions help reduce technical debt, and if so, how?
- Outcome ownership: Most importantly, do they offer CXaaS in a consumption-based model? This allows enterprises to pay only for what they use and means the partner owns CX outcomes.
Distinguishing between service providers can often be tricky. The best CXaaS providers are usually willing to create partnerships that go beyond the regular outsourcing and full-time-equivalent-based deal arrangements. For example, they might be open to creating outcome-based contracts or progressive value realization models, where a client sees value as time progresses but makes a relatively smaller investment at the start. To make these partnerships successful, enterprises should ensure that incentives on both sides are aligned and that they’ll share risks with the provider. Traditional outsourcing models tend to be very linear — suppliers provide a service, and buyers pay according to the scope of the project (as measured by the effort the suppliers put in). These models have now evolved so suppliers get paid not only for effort but also for the outcomes that they drive.
In today’s times, I’ve found that buyers care more about outcomes than effort. CXaaS providers should be able to demonstrate how they structure win-win relationships that provide big upsides on both sides.
Are you aiming to win in the experience economy? Well, customer experience management (CXM) can be stressful, especially if you have a labyrinth of technology and processes to navigate. That's why it's important to choose the right strategic partner for your business if you're looking for a turnkey approach.
Note: The article was initially published on Forbes on November 18, 2021.
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