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Technology enablement

Rapidly rising rate of CX innovation

Aaron Cronin

Practice Manager: Customer Experience — Dimension Data

Passionate about using technology to craft better experiences, Aaron has developed solutions for mid-market to multinational organisations of all sizes over his 20-year contact centre and CX career.

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Challenged by risk and readiness imbalance

The rate of technological innovation in CX has increased markedly and rapidly in the last few years. Cloud, biometrics, AI, and robotics are relative newcomers to our survey but they’ve stormed up the charts in no time.

Yet, other than those in the top quartile, organisations seem somewhat stuck between the risk of doing nothing and the reality of having to commit to technology enablement.

There’s a lot these emerging technologies can do. But what is it they can do for your organisation? With budget pressures and legacy system issues constantly hovering, how do you make the leap from staying where you are to investing in technology solutions that will meet future needs?

We believe the answer lies in aligning your technology and operational teams around a common vision for CX and giving them joint responsibility for technology enablement.

Designing technology for enablement: the CX centre of excellence

Less than half (42.3%) of operations are fully involved in, or responsible for, the design of their own technology needs.

CX may be a focus of boards and executive management, but when it comes to execution, we see fewer organisations reporting that their CX teams are involved in the design of technology solutions. It’s still mostly IT and procurement making the technology choices, with IT taking the lead in defining requirements, and designing and building the solution.

Organisations that are getting technology enablement right recognise that it’s counter-productive to have different teams looking at different CX functions. Instead, they work towards a common CX strategy, with technology tightly integrated into operations across departments and functions. To this end, we’re seeing a big shift towards a multifunctional ‘CX centre of excellence’.

In time, we may see high-performing organisations create dedicated, cross-functional CX teams reporting directly to a CX executive with a remit to improve Net Promoter Score and reduce customer effort.

Technology enablement quote

Closing the analytics gap

While analytics is the top technology trend prioritised by CX teams, only 15.3% say their analytics systems will meet their future needs.

The problem is that data is locked inside specific applications, such as speech and text analytics, and the tools for getting it out are rudimentary. To address this, some organisations are now creating dedicated teams for analytics, AI, and robotic process automation. Their goal is to extract data from various systems, integrate it, and use it to create ‘data lakes’ for analysis.

Cloud technologies have the potential to build this capability further, enabling you to use real-time, actionable analytics for the customer journey at a point in time, historical analytics for insights into efficiencies and areas of improvement, and customer feedback analytics to close the loop.

Analytics for the customer journey

Your customers are already talking about you. Are you listening?

There’s a limit to how much direct feedback customers can give, especially when just about every organisation they deal with is asking for a form of rating. Technology can help you collect valuable – and, often, more authentic – CX intelligence, in an unobtrusive way. Social media is a great tool for listening to what people are saying and gauging public sentiment about your organisation.

Analytics for agent empowerment

The decline in agent analytics systems this year is worrying. Generally, self-service (digital) channels are now a customer’s first point of contact, with agents stepping in on assisted-service channels when the customer needs further assistance.

If you’re ignoring or neglecting agent analytics, you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve CX.

If you’re ignoring or neglecting agent analytics, you’re missing a huge opportunity to improve CX. Tweet this

CX analytics should always result in action that delivers commercial results (new customers, referrals, cross-sell revenue, lower cost to serve) or operational improvements (ease of resolution, Net Promoter Score) – and the entire organisation must be involved. Outcomes must be measured and reported: without this continuous feedback loop, you’ll eventually end up with frustrated employees and customers.

The promise of artificial intelligence

There’s a lot of mystery around AI at the moment and many fit-for-purpose decisions to be made. AI and machine learning will be embedded in a broad range of CX systems, which means analytics systems will be able to get data streams in real time to map customer behaviours and identify problem areas and opportunities to improve.

While many tasks will be automated, the rest will require the creative problem-solving skills and emotional intelligence on the part of agents who will need to gather information, correctly interpret a situation, get insight, and offer empathy.

Technology enablement quote

Right-time, right-size technology: the benefits of cloud

This year’s survey shows that cloud infrastructure deployments are set to more than double in the next year.

In traditional contact centres, there’s a move away from always-on, monolithic architectures. Technology vendors are disrupting their own models with cloud solutions and microservices architecture that can be shaped to suit the ebb and flow of interactions, with the advantage of helping to save on running costs.

We’re also seeing increasing investment in data scientists and machine-learning engineers who can build customised models on cloud platforms.

Cybersecurity: risks and trade-offs

Security concerns are high, but our findings reveal a ‘give-and-take’ scenario.

Although cybersecurity is seen as a risk when introducing AI and service automation technologies, those same systems can mitigate certain risks, like human error. Tweet this

Intrusion detection, data encryption, and access management are minimum cybersecurity requirements. In the next few years, we expect to see an increase in biometrics, multifactor authentication, and fraud-detection technologies to combat social-engineering security threats. In the long term, blockchain-based identity management will put customers in control of their data.

Equipping your CX function for the future

Budgets, legacy systems, and integration issues will be with us for a while yet: limited budget means you’re stuck with legacy systems, which makes integration difficult. But, as these systems are replaced by cloud solutions, you’ll face some new challenges:

  • Skills: you’ll need skilled developers for programmable cloud platforms and other, newer technologies.
  • Integration: rather than consolidating technology platforms, you’ll need to focus on stitching together as-a-service point solutions.
  • Balancing agility and stability: cloud-to-cloud and application programmable interface (API) architectures offer agility, but you’ll need to balance this with uptime, reliability, and security.

There’s a lot that technology can do for your CX vision. With the right people, structures, and focus, you’ll be better equipped to invest in solutions that add real value.

Technology enablement insights

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