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 that are amplifying their focus on customer experience (CX) solutions are making greater progress in generating and safeguarding client satisfaction and profitable growth. We continue our series with a focus on CX, and the action steps needed for mobilizing a CX-led contact center.
In our previous blog post, we highlighted six action steps to amplify the success of customer experience (CX)-led contact center change. Now, we’ll dive in deeper into each of the steps:
Craft a compelling purpose that drives buy-in – North Highland defines purpose as “the ability to know and live a [company’s] story.” This purpose serves as the common message that leaders share to inspire action and drive empathy. It should cascade from company values, incorporate the key elements of the contact center’s unique vision and potential impact, and come to life in the design of interactions, journeys, and experiences (both human and digital). Once established, the purpose should serve as a filter for all decisions. It should also live within the contact center(s), where it is both consistently referred to as well as physically prominent so that it connects with each team member—be it an executive or front-line customer service representative (CSR).
Assign ownership over the experience – Team members must be empowered to create the experiences that the organization seeks to deliver to customers. We have found that clients are most successful when ownership design is structured around a full customer journey, in turn promoting accountability for the end-to-end experience, and ensuring that the concept of “experience” comes to life for employees. Two effective methods of ownership design include ownership by specific contact type (where ownership is specific to optimizing high-value customer interaction types such as account opening, checking a balance, processing an order etc.) and Jobs To Be Done, where ownership is specific to optimizing the broader experiences that encompass multiple interaction types (e.g. planning for retirement, completing an important project). Linking ownership to customer experiences establishes a very clear (not abstract) picture of experience.
Empower experience owners - Experience owners must be empowered to make decisions, and they must have access to the necessary data-driven tools to facilitate insight creation, sound decision making, and execution across cross-functional teams. For example, CX owners should have the authority to stop, start, and continue activities based on how those activities align to the end-to-end experience. They should also be equipped with innovative skills, such as design thinking, to enable “out of the box” solutions to modern CX challenges.
Align CX with measurable growth and performance improvement outcomes - The KPIs that define CX success will vary across contact centers based on organizational imperatives. Commonly used measures include everything from a variety of customer experience measurement methodologies (e.g. CSAT, NPS, CES), and measures of customer lifetime value. What’s important is that:
- Business cases highlight and align benefits (in dollar or other quantifiable terms) to each experience
- Only a vital few measures (providing both leading and lagging indicators of success) be chosen to assess and articulate growth and performance outcomes
- A commitment is made to ensure that all metrics play a role in creating insights and optimizing business decision making
Integrate CX listening posts – To instill a commitment to customer centricity, organizations need to establish mechanisms for customer feedback that enable teams to rapidly iterate and change. In addition to traditional feedback tools such as Voice of Customer (VoC) and Voice of the Employee (VoE) surveys and programs, organizations can use a Minimum Viable Experience (MVE) approach – a practice of deploying the fewest features critical to the customer experience that can be prototyped, tested, and iteratively optimized to create progressive improvement in CX.
Embed client-centric analytics throughout experiences - In addition to traditional measurement of Average Handle Time (AHT), abandonment rate, etc., emerging technology companies enable rich analytics around channel switching, customer sentiment, and more. Contact center leaders must with work across the organization to integrate data sources and identify the key measures that can anticipate and predict customer needs.
What is possible when these principles are put into practice?
One of our clients, a leading media, entertainment, and communications company, had recently embarked on a contact center optimization initiative with organizational, digital, and operational implications. It had numerous disparate customer support centers supporting 11 of its major business units and sought capture new sources of value while enhancing the customer experience. We deployed a systematic, data-driven approach to identifying opportunities, collecting business unit data through reporting, understanding volume drivers across business units, and identifying areas to optimize. Once these opportunities were identified, we created value cases to understand the return on opportunities and created a roadmap to sequence activities across time horizons. Ultimately, we empowered our client with a catalog of both business unit and enterprise-level opportunities, along with a clear implementation roadmap to enable execution of key activities for maximum value to both the customer and the business.
This post is the second in a series that will highlight innovative practices to unlock the full value of strategic contact center initiatives—focusing on making contact center transformation sustainable, resilient, authentic, and actionable. In the next post, we will introduce innovative techniques to optimize organizational resilience specific to change adoption. Until next time.
To read part one of this series, click here.