I arrived at the Cyara Xchange Roadshow in Manchester with excitement. Having been briefed on the brand’s focus and expertise, I was looking forward to hearing more. It seemed to perfectly dovetail with what I’ve have been seeing in contact centres: a place where the rubber hits the road for many CX leaders.
I’ve been a long-term influencer around the strategic direction and value of contact centres. I do this through chairing, keynotes and masterclasses. Right now, there is a real sense of change in the air.
We are shaking off a legacy of working harder in favour of working smarter. For finally making the case that customer service can be accountable for commercial outcomes beyond cost reduction. We are evidencing how customer behaviour towards brands is influenced by the quality of outcome, effort and emotion within service journeys. Put bluntly, we are happily dropping the role of corporate dustpan and brush for something better.
Hot topics during 2018 have been the way AI is starting to catalyse new contact centre operating models. Another crowd pleaser has been discussing the rise of a new generation of advisors. Maturing omnichannel strategies are allowing them to increasingly focus on higher value interactions – ones that are emotional, complex or matter to the quality of relationship between the brand and customer.
That’s pretty much what I came to talk about during my afternoon slot at Xchange. How five generations of customer expectation introduce new modalities (voice-text-video) and delivery options (live assistance-proactive service-self service) into everyone’s contact mix.
Here is one of the key frameworks I presented. It summarises the design process for rebalancing contact strategies:
In practice this might mean identifying self-service opportunities in order to free up advisors so they can focus on helping those customers who really need their help. It might involve polling customers on their engagement preferences or experimenting with a new messaging platform.
In other words, the delivery of service journeys is in a state of constant evolution as customers adopt new behaviours and develop new expectations. For instance, current fascination with voice interfaces such as Alexa and Duplex will eventually give way to something new. Brands ignore these new behaviours at their peril.
The implication is a steady stream of new contact strategies embedded into new digitally transformed journeys that need a robust test and learn workflow to bring them into production. It needs to be done at speed without dropping the ball to keep pace with competition. It seems we are now entering a CX world in which service design needs refreshing as often as product design.
One of my top takeaways from the day’s discussions was the importance of the DevOps mindset and methodology. It has proved its value in code rich, ongoing change and has rightfully settled into being the default approach for how digital transformation advances its agenda.
I now believe the rest of the organisation needs to catch up and adopt the principles of multi-disciplinary teamwork and iterative design and deployment. It is simply the best way of matching the pace and expectation of today’s digital economy.
The ANZ Bank story that kicked off the day was a great example of many of these principles. They had invested considerable effort into understanding their customers preferences and expectations. The feedback suggested that simplistic digital first agendas fell short as their response.
Self service was certainly expected as was low effort engagement. However so too was the human touch. Interestingly this also cut across generations, showing that in the banking sector at least, tight orchestration between self service and live assistance in terms of maintaining intent and context remains a key omnichannel competency.
Offering engagement choice resulted in a complex interaction ecosystem which needed to remain simple to engage with from the customer’s perspective. This was being facilitated by technologies such as biometrics and speech recognition.
I know from my own time spent in a systems integration environment that these are tough solutions to deliver to quality and speed. There is always tension between the momentum needed to move forward as a business and the fear of launching solutions that fail to meet business and customer outcomes. How can acceleration provided by MVP design be squared off with an assured customer experience?
The answer to that is why ANZ was addressing the audience. They used Cyara to test all journeys that used the new solutions and assured they were working as intended before launch. Senior management had greater comfort that speed and quality could both be achieved.
I left the event with a clear conviction that this is an excellent approach to omnichannel pre-launch testing and ongoing monitoring in order to understand how new contact strategies perform at scale. It’s a vital part of the toolkit to work at speed and stay safe. Just as important is the focus that DevOps brings as way of organising teams and workstreams.
Exciting times for the transformation of customer service which from the trends I’m witnessing is only going to accelerate in the coming months and years.
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