The Contact Center Journey Series: Building a CX-Led Contact Center (Part One)

Understanding and exceeding customer expectations means growth and sustainable differentiation for businesses that organize around customer-centricity and pursue new products, services, solutions, and markets to meet evolving customer needs. As the engine for addressing client challenges, inquiries, and needs, the contact center is essential to unlocking this promise.  

For this reason, the contact center is no longer characterized by the transactions it processes and the issues it resolves. It can no longer be viewed as a low-cost channel for managing customer interactions. Instead, it is integral to an organization’s customer-centric transformation, fueling continuous evolution and strategic enablement by generating rich insights, safeguarding client satisfaction, and driving profitable growth.  

This positioning has made it paramount that contact centers serve as a primary launching point for designing, testing, and deploying new solutions that promote future-focused thinking,  organizational resilience, and greater agility in response to customer-led transformation imperatives. The importance of the contact center becomes particularly critical as organizations seek to address their strategic priorities while navigating the impacts of global crises and other events in the macro environment that affect customers. 

Contact center solutions centered on operational excellence, advanced analytics, employee engagement, and automation-based technologies are generating impressive outcomes for organizations. However, we have found that companies who are amplifying their focus on customer experience (CX) solutions are making greater progress in generating and safeguarding client satisfaction and profitable growth. We begin our series with a focus on CX, and the action steps needed for mobilizing a CX-led contact center. 

Traditional wisdom regarding customer service has evolved considerably. Contact centers have moved from transacting within a customer’s request to engaging throughout a customer’s journey. This evolution has required contact center leaders to plan and operate with an amplified focus on CX to drive experiences that promote engagement, relevance, and ease of interaction. 

In addition, all these interactions must be orchestrated across channels (IVR, web, phone, chat), they must address the needs of specific customer segments (e.g., “high-touch” vs. mass market customers), and must use analytics to support predictive and personalized experiences. Companies that successfully deliver on these experiences are consistently putting CX-led strategies to work as they build a holistic future-state experience. 

The benefits of CX-led contact center strategies are tangible. Forrester cites that companies performing highly on the Forrester CX index™ tend to generate about 5.1 times the revenue of low-performers, as customers are more likely to stay with a company, buy additional products and services from the company, and recommend it to friends. Firms that are able orchestrate experiences across channels are also able to generate cost savings – online retailers on average typically experience $22 million in unnecessary service costs related to channel escalation (e.g., switching from digital to phone). Many of the top initiatives companies plan to execute in the next year to improve CX and achieve the gains described above (i.e., improving online and cross-channel customer experiences, building robust CX measurement) are tied to the contact center, thus making it a critical launching-point for realizing CX benefits. 

Using customer experience as your planning and operational construct for building holistic future-state experiences — translating all of this “talk” about CX into actionable steps for your contact center— is not a simple task. Through our research and work with clients, we’ve identified six action steps to help organizations solidify a compelling customer experience in the contact center. 

  1. Craft a compelling purpose that drives buy-in and cascades to every corner of the contact center, so team members understand how they positively impact your company, your customers, and fellow employees. 

  1. Assign ownership over the experience to drive collaboration among business, product and technology teams to ensure the future-state experience is realized. 

  1. Empower experience owners with the authority to shift direction of development and change to align to the desired customer experience. Equip owners with the design thinking needed to develop innovative and integrated solutions to CX challenges. 

  1. Align CX outcomes to financial outcomes so that the business case clearly articulates the financial impact of customer experience enhancements. 

  1. Integrate CX listening posts via processes such as initial Voice of Customer (VOC) projects and then ongoing VOC programs. Then launch Minimum Viable Experiences (MVE) throughout the project lifecycle to rapidly iterate and enhance process and features. 

  1. Embed analytics throughout experiences and work with organizational partners to integrate data sources to build a holistic view of the customer. 

In our next blog post, we will dive deeper into each of these action steps and illustrate an example of how we helped a leading media, entertainment, and communications (MEC) company navigate throughout its contact center transformation using these actions. Stay tuned. 

To read part two of this series, click here