Trend 2: Ending the ‘Factory Floor’ Model of CX Engagement

Earlier this year, HGS presented our trends forecast, comprising customer experience (CX) disrupter predictions, supported by practical strategies clients can use to succeed in the changing marketplace. This HGS ebook covers 11 trends, from those in self-service, mobile service, messaging, and social media, to artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and analytics. This year we frame change with the perspectives of an elite group of industry thought leaders. Here, we describe how HGS supports CX Trend No.2, from Matthew Dixon, Chief Product and Research Officer, Tethr, on the decline of the “factory floor” CX model with a blended model of CX engageme

The beginning of the end of the “factory floor” model of CX management.

Matthew Dixon, Chief Product and Research Officer, Tethr

Brands strive to meet the extraordinary expectations of today’s connected customer. This year, we’ll see the old, “factory floor” model of service management (such as, scripted resolution, checklist-driven QA) fall apart, as service issues become increasingly complex, varied, and nuanced. What’s the reason for this? As self-service finally takes over and completely siphons off the easy issues from the call queue, what’s left is more complex.

Watch for companies to turn the structure of service upside down. Rather than management issuing directives as to what to say and do, reps will be put in charge. These brand ambassadors will be fully empowered to manage customers and resolve issues as they see fit—with senior management in service to the front line (removing obstacles and supporting them to do their jobs). As an example, take a look at T-Mobile as the first company to have moved in this direction and have achieved remarkable results as a first-mover. This year and in the near future, many other companies will follow their lead.

Empathetic Problem-Solvers Leading Optimized CX

Today’s customers are increasingly turning to self-service; however, many lean on a blend of brain-bot support, incorporating traditional voice and chat and text. Digital self-service channels are reducing the burden on traditional channels by eliminating repetitive queries. This not only saves costs for companies, it enables agents to handle more complex customer queries that require the personal touch and a great deal of empathy. These are drivers to the brain-bot CX approach:

  • Employees can benefit from automation. While discussions around automation and its relationship to front-line employees tends to focus on job losses, there is a positive side for employees. An abundance of repetitive tasks in one’s workday rarely leads to high job satisfaction. Where automation reduces the need for human effort, there is more emphasis now being placed on reskilling those employees, training them to support in new areas where they can potentially make a more meaningful and rewarding contribution
  • Customers’ expectations of service competence are higher every day, with world-class companies like Amazon and Apple setting an excellence standard that is leading with self-service and integrating human expertise when it adds value. Households have adopted digital and AI innovation as a way of life. Starting your conversation with a bot is rapidly becoming the new norm. According to a recent Google study conducted by Northstar Research, more than half of U.S. teens and 41% of U.S. adults use voice search on a daily basis. A consistent customer experience that bridges channels is extremely important for Generation C—a demographic of connected customers that represents today’s buyer attitude and mindset. Bots, increasingly, provide a strong sense of reliability, consistency, and ease of use, which are critical to meet the demand for a unified customer experience strategy.
  • Conversations are driving commerce. “Conversational commerce” is a term coined by Uber’s Chris Messina in reference to the intersection of messaging apps and shopping. With customers interacting through messaging and chat apps, conversational interfaces have become mainstream, enabled increasingly by AI and bots. Today talking to a bot is more and more akin to connecting with a human. Bots employ natural language processing (NLP) for more colloquial verbiage and appropriate tone, recognition and understanding, to increasingly replicate a human interaction. Culture and customization can be applied to mimic character and persona of human agents. And, with their ability to process language, chatbots are able to handle tedious tasks like data entry, scheduling, and other basic assistant-like functions. Bots, however, are exception prone and can’t deliver on all fronts. For example, in Facebook’s launch of a bot API for its Messenger IM service only 30% of requests could be resolved entirely without a human stepping in, according to The Information, a Silicon Valley blog.  The seamless integration of brains, or human assistance with bots, is critical to an optimized digital customer experience. 
  • Bots are assuming more menial service tasks, requiring service agents to evolve to more sophisticated tier 2 ambassador responsibilities. The ideal self-service approach has proven to be an intelligent integration of more empowered and empathetic human agents with highly efficient bots. Whether front-end bot or bot-assisted agent, the key is to employ automation where it adds value through reduced customer effort (improving CSAT by guiding customers to the right answer fast), cost-containment, or revenue generation. Bot deployment frees up human labor for higher-minded, more emotional and complex decision making. According to a report by HFS, automation is making way for strong growth of highly and medium skilled personnel—with highly skilled positions in the service provider industry increasing by 56%, and medium-skilled by 8%. However, low-skilled, routine jobs drop 30% as many of these roles get phased out over the next 5 years:

Ultimately, today’s CX expectation is the right answer, fast: an authentic connection that’s also the right combination of automated self-service, driven by bot technology via the web and messaging, or via voice, integrated with assisted support from well-trained agents. With a unified customer engagement strategy, service providers can customize targeted deployment of these solutions—seamlessly bridging any bot-brain gaps and driving real outcomes. The most intelligent business brands know that good customer experience today is as much about smart, personalized conversations as it’s ever been.


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