Steve Brockway, chief research officer at Maru/edr assesses whether an organisation's customer experience can be improved by an in-house team and where external forces are best used.
The abundance of customer data available to organisations is creating new opportunities for customer experience (CX) including increased employee and customer loyalty. To seize these opportunities, many organisations are creating in-house CX teams.
These teams, made up of digital, data and marketing experts, are tasked with helping businesses paint a holistic picture of their customers and where to invest in CX.
Yet, it is also difficult for organisations to know exactly how to make the most of the data they have at hand. This is made especially difficult by the fragmented nature of data collection, which is often spread across different research and project vendors. Consequently, businesses are actually left with a fractured view of CX that isn’t linked to business outcomes, making them vulnerable to decisions that negatively impact sustainable growth.
So, how do organisations assure they get the most out of their CX programmes, and set the correct parameters to ensure maximum ROI?
Bring it home
CX has been a pressure point for many organisations, and for a long time. While most now understand the business value associated with delivering good CX, questions still remain about where to start and how to succeed.
In a society where consumer trust is quickly diminishing – just 7% revealed they trusted retailers, for instance – and where infallible customer service is in high demand, organisations can often be left with what seems like an insurmountable task.
For many organisations, the prospect of leaving customer experience in the hands of “others” is frightening. How can outside specialists understand the task at hand if they don’t have an inside-out view of the organisation and its CX challenges? Internal teams understand the business and know how to get things done.
But in-house CX teams alone do not guarantee nirvana. Indeed, without taking careful steps to ensure the in-house teams provide valuable input, in-house CX teams can prove to be a costly, unrewarding investment.
Internal teams understand the business and know how to get things done.
Internal teams, no matter how valuable, will always benefit from an external perspective. Indeed, according to the Arvato UK Outsourcing Index, customer services dominated the outsourcing market with a 132% increase YOY. The reason is simple: external teams can offer a macro perspective - whether that be what else is going on in their sector, or even on the wider market. This external perspective helps to add an element of honesty and expertise to the internal team strategy.
This is especially important when presenting CX initiatives to the board or C-suite executives. Traditionally, the executive board is most concerned by the financial return on investment – what is the bottom line, and how is it being affected? What many often fail to miss is the importance of a customer experience strategy for improving that bottom line. As a result, CX is often cast aside in favour of more economically driven strategies.
However, external teams can present a truly independent view to the C-suite, with no axe to grind based on internal politics or inter-departmental tensions. These teams will be able to give an honest appraisal of the customer experience across different departments (e.g. e-commerce, logistics and retail ops).
This independent standpoint, coupled with sector expertise is what makes external CX teams especially valuable. Due to their varied work, across many different projects, these teams will have a better understanding of the challenges faced within the market or sector, and thus have greater ability to come up with the correct solutions to address these challenges.
Internal teams, no matter how valuable, will always benefit from an external perspective.
Few organisations can enable actionable decision-making simply through insights. The best decisions are made by combining customer feedback with actual commercial customer data. According to Gartner, collecting customer feedback can increase upselling and cross-selling success rates by up to 20%. Integration is therefore incredibly important for internal teams.
Often, however, the data that organisations possess exists in different siloes which can make it challenging to not only get a clear view of the customer experience, but also to adequately integrate this data into CX programmes.
Indeed, the downfall for internal CX teams often lies in the lack of adequate technology software or platforms to successfully collate and analyse data.
The correct technology is particularly valuable for the integration of commercial data, such as sales, transaction value and frequency, to establish the ROI of decision-making. This can help internal teams track customers based on their previous individual experiences and feedback and see the long-term benefit of good CX and customer service.
The technology that external CX experts can bring in can help democratise the information gathered across the business, without the need for expensive and time-consuming investment in further in-house technology.
The best of both worlds
There is no doubt that internal CX teams are valuable and provide organisations with CX strategy and goals to suit the business’ ambitions. But alone, an internal team will struggle to unlock the value of CX in the same way that a strong partnership with external teams can.
Unbiased sector and market expertise, coupled with the correct technology to aggregate and integrate customer data across all departments is key to organisations’ CX success. This is especially important given that many businesses today continue to be structured according to department, with little clarity on how handovers and hand-offs from one team to the other impacts the customer experience.
Ultimately, it is that external perspective that will provide the holistic view an organisation so desperately needs.
Steve Brockway is Chief Research Officer at Maru/edr