This article was published in the Fall 2019 issue
of Silicon Slopes Magazine
by Jesse Himsworth, EVP of Strategy and Brand Marketing, Clearlink
We’ve heard it a million times by now: another company is promising they’ve unlocked the secret to CX transformation. Using their purpose-built dashboard and a proprietary blend of customer experience strategies, profitability is on its way, revenue is just around the corner, and customers will be more delighted.
Odds are it’s not going to happen.
For many organizations, the application of CX strategies remains surface level, targeting low-hanging fruit at obvious touchpoints and failing to address the impact disconnected touchpoints are having on the overall customer journey. Companies are still approaching CX like a shiny new solution wrapped up in excitement and buzzwords, without taking into account how they’ll implement a foundational, organization-wide CX strategy.
In order to break down silos, connect every touchpoint, and engage organizations to deliver consistent customer satisfaction and revenue growth, successful companies need more than CX — they need Intelligent CX.
How CX Became Intelligent
At Clearlink, we’ve learned that the biggest CX killers don’t happen within touchpoints; they happen during the handoff process from one touchpoint to the next. Clearlink’s customers start their journey online but due to the nature of the products we sell, they often find themselves calling in to speak with our call center agents to place an order.
It’s in these high-performance contact centers that we first noticed how disconnected the online and offline experiences can be. Call center agents often have no understanding/appreciation for the work customers have done online prior to picking up the phone and speaking with an agent. Because of this, customers feel as though they are starting over when they jump between channels.
As time progresses and as organizations are able to collect and contextualize more data, they see more broken handoffs. Their problem is getting worse at a time where customers’ expectations are getting increasingly demanding. We've experienced this through Clearlink's growth, as our success was outpacing our process. We needed a way to break down internal silos and develop a connected, customer-focused journey.
The Intelligent Customer Experience
Connecting systems, data, and teams, the Intelligent Customer Experience delivers a seamless CX from one brand touchpoint to the next. Reducing friction in the customer journey, Intelligent CX leads to a better customer engagement, increases profits, and grows brand loyalty.
Guiding a customer toward conversion and long-term engagement — where they become a lifelong brand advocate — needs organizational change. Embracing Intelligent CX requires eliminating friction between customer touchpoints, identifying and acting on opportunities within the customer journey, and applying AI to inject machine learning and data into your entire process.
Eliminating Friction between Touchpoints
Rather than approaching the marketing, sales, and support phases as separate experiences, Intelligent CX treats the entire process holistically. Customers are directed where they want to be on their preferred channel with minimal friction. No matter when or where they encountered the brand, they receive the customer experience they want.
Intelligent CX achieves these personalized experiences by collecting data at each touchpoint to inform the rest. The more data can be correlated, the more effective each touchpoint can be. Here are some examples of using data to break down the silos between marketing, sales, and support:
Support to Marketing: Passing data about what content on the website is generating the highest number of support calls so that marketing can optimize support content and deflect unnecessary calls.
Marketing to Sales: Sharing website clickstream data in real-time with the call center to make decisions about what IVR to serve a caller or what call center agent to pair that caller with.
Sales to Marketing: Passing real-time call center agent availability data to marketing to adjust paid search spending based on how many agents are available to take calls.
When data is shared between teams and decisions are made with the individual customer in mind, your entire organization has a clear understanding of the customer’s needs at every stage of the journey. That shared understanding ultimately creates a fantastic, frictionless experience for your customers and will often result in significant cost savings for your business.
Identifying Customer Opportunities
Qualtrics, measuring the ROI of CX, built a model to estimate how a modest improvement in CX would impact the revenue of a typical company doing one billion dollars in revenue. On average, companies earned an additional $775 million over three years. Software companies achieved the biggest gain with a possible $1 billion over three years. This further reinforces what we already know: CX is worth the investment.
The revenue potential of Intelligent CX comes from the incremental value that can be mined at each touchpoint, frictionless experiences that produce repeat buyers, and positive sentiment that transforms customers into brand advocates. While a normal sales process begins with a customer deciding on a product or service and following through to checkout, Intelligent CX finds ways to connect data to identify what other products and services they are likely to need — improving profits, satisfaction, and lifetime customer value.
These incremental sales can be identified through data and trends gathered from customers. For example, if a customer is looking for home services at a location outside of their current one, Intelligent CX can help identify them as a new homeowner. Our connected data can tell us what products they are likely to need, such as electricity and gas, internet, cable, and telephone. We can then serve them all these products and services on the same call.
Customers have a better experience because we were able to solve additional issues beyond the scope of the initial call, and we were able to expand a single sale into one that serves several of our partners.
Applying Artificial Intelligence
Learning at every touchpoint, AI helps bridge the gap between the information you have on your customers and the information internal teams are equipped with to create great customer experiences. If data shows that a customer might prefer to interact through chat or that current call volume would result in a long wait time, our intelligent traffic control AI can change our ads from “call now” to “chat now.”
Using AI, your sales agents also benefit from comprehensive customer handling. If your system knows that a customer has previously called your sales center, the AI will prioritize them and move them up in your queue. It also measures average call lengths, wait times, and inbound traffic. If chat agents are busy but phone agents are available, AI may increase the frequency of ads that say “call now.” If a customer is looking for service or support and won’t be interested in buying, they can be deflected to the proper channel to keep agents free.
Artificial intelligence makes the Find, Buy, and Use stages effortless and intuitive to cut down on wait times and promote more frequent conversion and incremental sales. This leads to a better experience for customers, lower overhead for your organization, and increased revenue for you.
Connecting the Complete Experience
Intelligent CX is where connected data, AI, and internal teams all work in unison to create a frictionless customer journey. It’s where companies stop thinking of customer journeys as multiple discrete touchpoints and instead look at the sum total as a singular experience for each customer.
The larger the organization or more entrenched the process, the harder it is to tear down silos and embrace the benefits of Intelligent CX. But companies need to look at the opportunity of increased value rather than the cost of change when it comes to building a better, continually improving process for their customers.
It’s time to tear down those silos, know more about your customers, and get your data working for you. When your CX is intelligent, you’ll build long-term, valuable relationships with your customers that will benefit your business and your bottom line.
Read the rest of the articles in the Fall 2019 issue of Silicon Slopes Magazine