by Robert Wakefield-Carl and Laurel Hess
Everyone is talking about providing good customer experiences, but many don’t take the time to define exactly what they mean. CX is more than just the buzz words associated such as NPS, VoC, customer surveys, CSTAT, engagement, and customer service; it is a holistic approach that encompasses your entire company at every customer touchpoint and interaction. So what is CX really, and how are companies taking advantage of it today?
At Avtex, we understand the providing exceptional CX involves a complete breakdown of the customer journey and understanding the places where your front-line employees need better support or technological innovation to create a better experience.
Our Senior Director of Innovation Architects, Robert Wakefield-Carl, sat down with our Director of Customer Experience, Kate Kompelien, to talk about the customer experience and how we help our clients create exceptional experiences for their customers.
Director, Customer Experience Solutions
Kate is a Customer Experience leader, focused on coaching and educating across the design process. She pioneered a first of its kind CX Design process (insights, mapping, behavioral research, design and measurement) for a major retailer. She hired and trained the talent to deliver exceptional work back to the organization which has proven to drive significant revenue growth.
[Robert] First off, thank you for answering so many of my CX questions over the years and continuing to be a great resource for the entire company in this area.
[Kate] It’s no problem. Our team is here to advance the concept of customer experience across, not only, the Avtex family, but also to instill these values into our clients as they build their CX strategy.
[Robert] We hear about this a lot from management, that it is the responsibility of everyone in the company to make sure our clients have a great experience so we can fuel greater experiences for their customers. When it comes down to it, what is it we are supposed to be doing?
[Kate] In its rawest form, CX boils down to making sure every touchpoint with the client or customer has been thought out, executed clearly, and meets the demands of everyone involved. This might mean a clearer scope of work from a solution architect or an easier invoice from accounting, or a less demanding process for dealing with tech support. It does not matter the job or function, each individual is capable of delivering a great customer experience to our clients.
Many clients have omni-channel touchpoints for their customers which is why it is so important to participate in this work as a cross-functional team. Customers do not experience one channel or one touchpoint at a time so when we are trying to learn about their end-to-end experience, it’s important that a variety of roles within an organization understand the holistic experience we are providing. What one group changes can have a negative impact to the customer down the line.
[Robert] I hear CX talked about in many ways, which can cause confusion. How do you consult with customers about how to think about CX and better those experiences?
[Kate] It starts with backing up, taking a broader view of the customer, their processes and fully understanding the effort it takes to do business with them. Most of the clients I speak with have very little knowledge of how much time it takes to find things on their website or to talk to an agent. Many companies believe they are doing CX work as they send out surveys but most often, we find the results of these surveys are not ingested across the organization and are relatively ignored.
We generally start with a valuable persona to the organization, understand that personas end to end journey from first point of interaction to the last. We then conduct a variety of behavioral research techniques to get at the heart of the experience, for both customers and front-line employees. Generally, we uncover too many pain points to count.
Once we have a good understanding of the experiences from the customers and front-line employees, we can build out experience personas and then build current state journeys with the team. These journeys show where emotion flows high and low, which enables the client to visually perceive how hard it is for customers to do business with them and what is getting in the way of their front-line employees in meeting their needs.
[Robert] So after this, you then suggest changes in procedure or new software to help them achieve better results?
[Kate] Not immediately! After we get a solid understanding of the current state experience, we will work with the core team to prioritize the pain points, needs and moments that that matter, and they want to solve for. We then use a variety of design thinking activities to get to solutions with a broad, cross functional team. It is at this point, after we get feedback on the ideas, that we can then begin to understand the technology needs for the contact center and or for other parts of the experience. There must be the acceptance of the problem before change will take place – just like in life. We find that by including front line employees in this process, we have a high success rate of employees using the technology because they helped us understand what they needed to better serve their customers.
[Robert] Do you think most CX can be solved with technology? We hear that all the time from survey companies and other VoC advocates – “just use our software and you will know all about the customer so you can treat them better.”
[Kate] Not at all. Technology cannot solve problems when you don’t know what it is you need to solve for. Technology is a trillion-dollar industry, and a lot of money is wasted on technology that never ends up making things better for the employee or the customer. Yes, certain solutions can be used to improve the experience, but you have to know that it was a problem in the first place, or you are just going to waste money and struggle to encourage your employees to use it because it wasn’t an issue in the first place.
In order to identify needs, our team also will place calls into the contact center, take time to browse their website, we also order products and try to return it. We participate in normal customer interactions and processes to expose where the breakdowns in processes and services are. That is the real meat of any good CX investigation. After that, we have concrete pathways to a better experience and/or process to keep customers happy and keep them as customers.
[Robert] After working with the clients, when do you engage the technology side of Avtex and suggest a new solution for them?
[Kate] It is important for the technology side of Avtex to work with our CX team at the time of technology scoping. Our team is technology agnostic and we really don’t understand in depth about any technology solution. This is important because we need to care about optimizing the experience for employees and customers and let these findings drive technology decisions. What I am most excited about though is that a lot of what Avtex offers is key to creating an optimal experience. This means you can continue to work with one vendor to help implement a better experience instead of having to track down multiple vendors, teach them about your future state vision, before you can get started.
Most of the time it is not that straight-forward and a lot of the clients I work with are already Avtex customers, but they are just finding out what they have under the hood and need our assistance to help the implement what they purchased. We really enjoy that type of engagement because we know they already have a great platform in place with Genesys or Microsoft and we just have to steer them in the direction to achieve better CX.