Editor’s note: Here are highlights of the Avaya ENGAGE 2020 session, “Putting the Customer’s Experience Back into Customer Experience.”
As I talk to companies about their contact center projects, I get the sense that many people think that “customer experience” is just another way of saying “contact center.” Not at all! The typical IT/telephony view is that the contact center is a service used to respond to customer requests. The focus is on the infrastructure for creating that service. In contrast, “customer experience” flips that on its head and starts with the customer’s perspective. What’s the experience that the customer actually wants? Is the contact center viewed as a necessary evil or a tool to facilitate the full journey?
For a customer experience project to be successful, one of the first things that needs to happen is to get all of the relevant audiences in alignment on the customer rather than the infrastructure. For me, there are four major audiences to consider: IT/telecom, contact center operations, “the business”, and the end customer. These audiences have completely different goals, objectives, Key Performance Indicators, and agendas. So, it is critically important that we understand these differences, and address them appropriately.
This is the foundation. This group is responsible for making sure that infrastructure works reliably and delivers the services needed by the upper layers, whatever those services may be. They are typically measured by uptime, budget accuracy, and more often than not, making sure that the upper layers are well informed about their options. I’m not saying that last one is a good or bad thing. It’s just what I typically run into. If IT/telecom gets to a point where it isn’t viewed as the source of innovation, responsiveness, or reliable service, the upper layers will go looking for service offerings outside the company. IT/telecom’s ultimate concern is about ease of deploying and supporting of the infrastructure (either internally, external third party support, or a fully managed cloud offering).
Contact Center Operations
This audience includes the contact center agents, their supervisors, and any upper management responsible for the agents/supervisors. Interestingly, if you ask IT/Telecom professionals to make sure “The Business” is represented in a conversation, they will typically, and incorrectly, invite this contact center operations group. But that is not the right business to engage. This contact center operations group is typically measuring the metrics of responsiveness to their customers as well as the quality of their interactions (accuracy, compliance, etc). Things that keep this group up at night include agent retention, training, scheduling, and governance (i.e. quantitatively knowing that their agents are doing everything exactly as they are supposed to be doing). Their efforts are generally summarized to the upper levels as compliance to service level agreements and overall customer satisfaction.
The makeup of this group varies drastically between companies and vertical markets. This is the leadership group that focuses on getting the customer to initially consume and keep consuming products/services. Yes, that’s obviously sales, marketing, customer service, etc, but it also includes every touchpoint where the customer interacts with the company. This is the group that “hires” the contact center operations to facilitate communication between the company and the customer. Obvious measurements could be revenue, customer retention, and growth, but they also focus on various customer satisfaction metrics, such as Net Promoter Score, customer acquisition costs, churn (losing an existing customer to a competitor), various customer satisfaction survey results, customer effort scores, etc. This group stays awake at night thinking about how to profitably keep customers wanting to buy more of the business’ products/services. This means meeting the needs of those customers and staying ahead of the competition that is looking to steal those customers in any way possible (better product, cheaper product, better customer service, etc).
This audience is the reason why most businesses are in business. As I mentioned initially, the end-customer doesn’t think that the contact center represents what the business does for a living. I go to a dentist to maintain the health of my teeth. Scheduling the appointment is important, but it’s certainly not the reason I visit a dentist. As customers interact with the business, they have many expectations in areas such as identity, privacy, convenience, personalization, self-service, accuracy, timeliness, and feedback.
Do you know who falls into these audience groups at your company? If not, start looking. Advanced contact center projects will go more smoothly when you have alignment, support, and sponsorship from everyone involved. ConvergeOne offers advisory services engagements that we call WAVES (Workshop, Assessment, Validation, Enterprise Architecture, and Solutioning) that can help with these types of advanced projects that starts with aligning of purpose, priorities, and expectations of these audiences. Reach out to us to learn how to get started!
David Lover is the Vice President of Strategy and Technology with ConvergeOne.