Why sales teams could be the biggest threat to CX leadership in 2022by
Sales leaders have their eyes on AI systems for CX, since they will benefit directly from the results. And this could threaten the position of some customer experience leaders.
Let's think about the mission of customer experience teams.
They exist to improve customer retention, upselling, and cross-selling. However, when you examine the formal job plans of most CX leaders, they tend to be very survey-centric. Leaders are measured on execution of various survey processes, loop-closing processes, and perhaps some aspects of employee training. 99% of them have no financial goals whatsoever. (I really believe the number is 100%, but I suppose there must be exceptions.) The lack of financial goals is extremely problematic.
The single most important revolution that is happening in the world of CX right now is the implementation of AI as a method of predicting customer retention, upselling and cross-selling. It provides insights on the operational trends that affect these financial outcomes, often enabling action before the customer contracts come up for renewal. The only disadvantage is that it costs money to implement. While the ROI on the best software is fantastic, customer experience leaders don't have any money.
Who does? Sales leaders and business unit leaders. They are measured on the financial results, can see the ROI, and can often approve their own investments. Sales VPs across the planet demonstrated this by implementing Salesforce. They can do it again with AI systems for CX, since they will benefit directly from the results.
So, where does this leave traditional CX leaders? I believe it leaves them looking for a new job. I believe the only way they can avoid this is by becoming early promoters and adopters of AI, before their sales or other colleagues take the lead.
Get with the programme
Will you implement predictive customer experience analytics to help your sales team win? Or would you prefer to lose your job?
Here's the thing: sales people want to win. They want to ensure that existing customers renew their contracts and buy more. They want to attract new customers based on references and word of mouth.
This all means that they are going to get predictive analytics. Soon. AI will drive the predictions and will be based on operational data, which comes from the customer journey touchpoints (emails, phone calls, web pages, contacts with humans).
So the big question is this: Are you, as a CX leader, going to implement predictive analytics for your company or let someone else do it? If they do, you may not be needed anymore. So, get with the programme. Understand what AI can do for your company and lead the way!
You need AI to be competitive (or you will lose)
There's AI and then there's AI. What we're talking about here is getting AI to combine different data points (data silos) and then correlate them based on the specific needs of your business and its customers.
The AI platform goes through all this information, learns from it, and uses the learning to generate predictions so you can save time when searching for insights. So when problems arise, instead of manually digging through these data silos - which takes up a lot of time - AI does it in seconds or minutes vs hours or days. Plus, AI assigns weights to each individual problem so that sales and CX leaders know what issues are most urgent and they can take action accordingly .
All this AI business could give you a competitive advantage no other business in your market has - yet.
Implementation takes time and effort
Of course, AI needs to be "trained" first. If you don't take the time to train AI, AI will never know what's important and it will simply spit out irrelevant information or nothing at all. You may spend days/weeks/months training AI (depending on the size of your company and how many different departments within your company use AI). But when you do implement it, you'll save yourself tons of money in wasted resources like:
Customer service reps that manually gather information from data silos.
Managers who then decide what is most critical, often based on their personal bias and hubris, no matter what information they receive.
All too often, when they finally find time to dig through their report backlog, it has already been weeks/months/years since an incident occurred. A competitor may already be bidding for that contract renewal you need so much.
Customer survey processes that reveal problems when it is far too late to do anything about them.
AI is much more efficient and effective: it combines different data points and correlates them FAST. AI has better accuracy than humans partly because it doesn't make many mistakes, but mostly because AI software always follows step-by-step processes without judgement - which means less time wasted dealing with how to interpret results.
So where does that leave you?
Do you want to implement AI to help your sales team win? Or would you prefer to risk losing your job? Sales people don't like surprises and neither do CX professionals . We all know that AI will drive predictions and identify risks for each customer based on operational data. So let's get started, shall we?
This article adapted from a piece that originally appeared on Maurice's LinkedIn page.
Retired VP of Customer Experience for HP and HPE's $4B software division. Now Editor-in-Chief - Content, for OCX Cognition, the Customer AI company.
Author of four books on customer strategy, all available on Amazon.