By Wendy Shlensky, Vice President, Global Head PR & Analyst Relations at HGS
There are many reasons I’m lucky to live in New York City, including the fact that it’s where many companies hold conferences. After attending the recent Nexus event, Mastering Digital Channels to Manage and Fuel Exponential Growth, I thought I would pay forward this opportunity and share some key takeaways.
The conference panel was moderated by Melissa O'Brien, Research Vice President Customer Engagement, HFS Research, with panelists:
- Frank Zimmerman, Global Head of Partnerships, Nosto
- Julie Casteel, Chief Strategic Accounts Officer, IBEX
- Michael Truett, Head of Customer Success and Engagement, Newsela
Takeaway One: Where does the customer journey start?
Enhanced CX is an expectation for today’s consumers. One conference discussion point related to the customer journey—and the “engage” stage. HGS defines this as the first step of the consumer journey, and the first point of contact between the consumer and the brand. Is this at your website? In a store? Via digital marketing? Does the brand team share the customer journey information with their call center and then share the outcome of the call back to the digital team? When there is a 360-degree sharing of information, this enables better CX. To this point, my takeaway, for the “Engage” stage of the journey is to empower customer service agents with more data, creating less friction during interactions to improve the #CX.
Consumers don’t buy products, they buy experiences, ideally. Channels aren’t the only answer. The consumer often uses multiple channels yet desires the same experience throughout.
The CX journey has to align the product journey with the marketing journey, along with operational journeys. All of these journeys have to be in synch with the contact center, which is at the heart of journey success.
Takeaway Two: How do you build great CX for a brand? Start with experience. . .
Retailers always ask, “How do I beat Amazon?” The answer is: create great CX. But make sure it’s customized to your brand. If you’re going to compete with Amazon, don’t copy their website. Build your own experience. Here’s a personal anecdote to help illustrate. Very soon, I am going on a big trip to a sunny locale, and I’m fair skinned. I received a bunch of catalogs in the mail advertising SPF clothing and hats. I visit one brand’s website, and I notice that there is no free shipping and no free returns. I go to the Amazon site, and, three clicks later, I find a similar item. Two days later, the item arrives at my door—and at a less expensive cost than the catalog price. So there you have it: While mail order piqued my interest, you could say I’ve been “Amazoned.” And now that’s the CX I expect.
After all, it’s about experience. Build the experience to what the customer wants versus what could potentially be the fastest experience. I recall the legendary Zappos 10 hour+ call. . One of the reasons Zappos has such a strong customer base is that they don’t measure success via a short average handle time.
These examples show what today’s businesses are striving for—and it should be noted that they are leaning on the experts to get there. But business process outsourcing as mere lift and shift is a thing of the past. In fact, higher performing organizations are relying more on their business process outsourcers (BPOs) for innovation, rather than cost cutting. The reason to outsource is no longer just about cost. Today, businesses are bringing BPOs to the table for design thinking, innovation, and consultative value creation. BPOs can share best practices from other clients to enable faster learning. They also often have innovation offices that are at the forefront of new technologies. For example, at HGS, we have been implementing automation for the past several years, and we have been proactively sharing ideas with our clients on how to help customers get the right answer fast.
Takeaway Three: Don’t forget about the employee experience, and ensure it aligns with the brand.
How do you build the employee experience that pays dividends for clients and their customers, as well? One way is to create an immersive experience for customer service representatives to help them think that they live and breathe the brand. For example, one New York City company that was outsourcing their customer care requested that the selected BPO add a subway car to their contact center. BPOs that asked, “why?” showed that they had curiosity and understood the employee experience because it opened the door for a conversation with the brand. The brand wanted their representatives to be able to sit in a subway car, which was something many of this brand’s customers do daily. This company wanted the outsourced employees to identify closely with the brand employees’ perspective—which meant walking through the subway on their way to and from work. Notably, the BPOs that ignored the subway car question didn’t move on to the next round of the selection process. This example demonstrates the importance of aligning the employee experience to the brand experience.
Ultimately, this panel included interesting points to remember when trying to create a great CX. Start with experience and think about your particular customer at each stage of the journey, whether that is the customer journey or the employee journey. Attendees left this session with a better real-world understanding of the intersection of consumer journey, customer experience, and employee engagement.