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CX Effort Made Easy

We live in a time in which reducing customer effort rules. At the core of today's digital darlings, such as Netflix, Uber, and Google, are business models that focus on reducing customer effort, almost to the level of effortless. Most of us remember the Blockbuster experience of getting in the car, walking the movie aisles, being disappointed that the new release isn't in, renting something else, forgetting the movie in the VCR, and groveling over late fees. Now, we simply slump in our couch, push a few buttons, and we are binge watching our favorite show on Netflix.

Even our customer metrics have evolved to embrace effort reduction. We have relied on customer satisfaction, embraced Net Promoter Scores, and some have turned to Customer Effort Scores as being the highest correlated with positive and negative purchasing behavior.

Moving in the Wrong Direction...

Yet, in today's contact centers, customers still often have to exert more effort than ever to get their questions answered. They often start on the Web self-service, escalate to chat, call the 1-800 number, navigate the IVR, try one agent, get transferred to another agent, and hopefully, at some point, get the answer to their questions. Data from CFI Group's 2016 Contact Center Satisfaction Index verifies the customer frustration, with total time to resolution up, first caller resolution down, instances in which multiple reps are needed to resolve up, and overall satisfaction down.

As an industry, we focus too much on the "wow" moments and first-contact resolution. Instead we really need to be focusing on simply making our interactions easier, more personalized, and quicker. High-effort experiences, after all, really knock down customer loyalty, as research has long shown.

Driving Toward a Solution

The age-old problem of complexity is the culprit for high-effort customer experience in contact centers. Where once contact centers just had the phone channel, now customers have email, chat, social, text, mobile, self-service, and who knows what in the future. And, more so than ever, knowledge and data are scattered throughout an enterprise, and even outside the enterprise.

The proliferation of interaction, data, and knowledge has exploded so fast within contact centers. To reduce customer effort, contact centers need a better way to connect customers with their context, and customer questions with the right answers, on a grand scale. The old school integration solutions, such as CTI and middleware, are too cumbersome, take too much custom development, and aren't extensible or scalable.

We need a new type of solution... an interaction integration platform that automates the actual integration of interactions, data, and knowledge. Contact centers need a similar renaissance that the Web development world realized through Wordpress, a simple but powerful visual design platform that enabled non-developers to drag and drop their way to beautiful and advanced websites.

In much the same vein, we need interaction integration platforms that enable seamless connectivity among a contact center's ACD, workforce automation, quality apps, email, text, chat, CRM, knowledge databases, data warehouses, Web systems, ERP, e-commerce, and other systems. Such a platform, of course, is not just for the sake of connectivity, but for driving the ability to personalize, customize, and streamline the customer experience.

When a non-developer can simply link interaction data (e.g., a phone number), with a customer in the CRM database, with that customer's last order, and the fact the customer just visited the returns Web page, a company has all the context it needs to enable a genuine and purposeful conversation between agent and customer. And, if you can design, develop, test, and deploy these types of integrations in a matter of minutes, it will be the dawn of the contact center customer experience revolution.

Typical contact center customer experiences are fraught with high-effort interactions, driven by silos of interactions, data, and knowledge. Just look at the typical customer flow to better understand how silos drive effort.

Yet, with an interaction integration platform, a company could quickly personalize and streamline the customer experience by integrating the interactions with the relevant contextual customer data and knowledge. The customer experience outlined below is what an interaction integration platform would be able to do for most contact centers.

The beauty is, a few interaction integration platforms have recently emerged, and we are at the beginning of their adoption curve. Typically these platforms today connect to the CRM (Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce), since you need to start and end with the customer data and workflows if you want to create a customer-centric experience.

The initial wave of clients that are utilizing these platforms are quickly realizing 30+ seconds in average handle time reduction, personalized interactions, along with a slew of other benefits, including accelerated verifications, improved fraud detection, automated compliance, increased data and workflow accuracy, and any more. And, they are at the tip of the iceberg in terms of benefits, as it takes time to train customer experience engineers on an interaction integration platform, and educate contact center and IT leadership on new capabilities available via the platform. But, once they embrace the platform capabilities, they quickly become the customer experience benchmarks in their industries.