How businesses can level up their CX game
In 2020, we saw rapid growth and transformation as businesses responded quickly to uncertainty and changes brought by the pandemic. However, two years on, there hasn’t been as much forward momentum or deeper strategy for CX transformation. In this post-pandemic shift, the focus should move towards offering more unique experiences to even more demanding customers.
Today, customers are less patient than they were a year ago, according to the Zendesk CX Accelerator 2022 report findings. On top of that, companies are 18 percent more likely to report that customer satisfaction is below expectations. Businesses are feeling the effects of merely 'getting by' when it comes to customer service.
Organisations, and their customer service teams, are being asked to do more with fewer tools, while reducing costs and driving incremental revenue growth. Competition is getting tougher as everyone is fighting to maintain and gain more market share. With a potential recession looming and budgets being tight, this clearly does not favour organisations looking to meet rising customer expectations. However, with strategic planning and investment in the right CX areas, companies can still stay ahead of the competitive curve, while building long life customer relationships and business stability.
Do CX Champions still reign?
In our research, we categorise businesses by their level of CX maturity. Starters are at the earliest stage, progressing to Emergers, Risers, and CX Champions who sit at the highest level of expertise.
The biggest indicator of the current situation is the status of Champions. Although Champions are usually the ones out in front, when it comes to CX best practices, at face value, it appears they are struggling to keep pace. Yet, Champions are 2.5 times more likely to have more than 10 percent of their tickets go unresolved. Champions are also 18 percent less likely to have an average resolution time of less than one hour.
However, not all is as it seems. Resolution times increasing for Champions might indicate a better overall resolution for customers. It could be the case that Champions' lower response times could indeed be linked to their goal for more conversational interactions. In fact, some 96 percent of Champions aim at making their interactions feel more conversational. If interactions produce more value by giving customers more information, resolution times might not be the best metric anyway. For example, if companies use their conversations to upsell, that could be a better resolution than simply getting customers off the phone quickly.
Either way, there are opportunities for other categories to close the gap. Starters, Emergers, and Risers are catching up while Champions find new ways to innovate. Everyone has different ways of meeting the needs of customers. But one aspect that's consistent for everyone is the tough climate they are operating in.
Consolidation as a growth path
Even with budgets tight, organisations can still perform to a high level and grow their business by strategically investing into CX. One way to do this is to consolidate key data into one system.
Currently, agents’ time is tied up in inefficient systems. Half of the businesses we surveyed use between six and 15 apps to get a full view of their customer journey. Champions are 3.5 times more likely than Starters to use upwards of 16 apps. Adding more digital channels to improve service does not equal a better CX unless they’re all connected.
By getting on top of their data and having a single view of customers, businesses have more capacity to focus on where to grow. Improvement does not come from the number of apps you have, rather from the way you're able to unify and interpret the data from all sources to understand customers better.
The more you know about customers through unified data, the more receptive they become. It reduces friction and increases engagement. Engaged customers are more loyal and typically spend more. The research shows that existing customers are far more likely to respond to an upsell than new prospects. In other words, businesses see the fruits of their labour when they invest time in getting to know their customers.
Furthermore, maintaining multiple platforms has an impact not only on your productivity, but also on your costs. This challenge gets bigger as your business scales. If we think about cross-functional collaboration, sales and support teams have the best impact on the business when they aren’t siloed. For support, better collaboration optimises customer engagement across all touch points. For sales, it gives reps a new channel for identifying cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Identifying, tracking, and acting-on shared metrics helps the business overall keep customers happy, reduce churn, and create long-lasting relationships.
This could be the win-win companies are looking for. They can reduce the time spent wrangling with countless apps. And without spending money on more tools than they need, they can consolidate the data they already have and grow their business.
Getting the right mix
Indeed, better processes and integration of data is one way to make better use of agents’ time. Another way is how companies use bots and integrate them into a hybrid strategy.
Currently, 90 percent of companies use bots to route customers to the right place. Companies using bot and human hand offs jumped from 52 percent to 64 percent last year. Champions lead the pack at 75 percent.
Perfecting the balance of automation and human service agents – including finding the right roles and responsibilities – will be important in boosting performance. Businesses using automation with the most success are those building strong collaboration between bots and people. Leading brands make sure both parties work together, not in process silos. As such, bots become like actual colleagues, rather than simply a tool firms use to outsource tedious processes. As long as it’s done in a way that’s meaningful, customers don’t mind if a bot helps out. The most important thing is that they get the information they need - regardless of the method used. Automation is necessary, but it's at its best when it’s working with human agents in a balanced way.
Customers demand more - that's becoming clearer than ever. Businesses have the opportunity to respond proactively, even against a background of financial unease. In fact, the current economy means that the onus is on firms even more to make the most of their data and automation tools to create a slicker CX operation. Companies functioning at the highest level aren't stacking up tools for the sake of it. They're being selective in their approach. They're making sure their data is accessible and is helpful to them by being in one place. They also want to strike the right balance between automation and human contact. By strategically and cohesively focusing their time and energy on the right areas of CX, organisations will be able to navigate tough economic times, while building deeper links with their customers, and ultimately bring about business growth in the long term.