Managing CX from the Inside-Out

The contact center space is changing before our eyes, and whether you think it's imploding or exploding, there's no going back to the telephony-centric call center we've known for so long.

Yes, the race to cloud is on, customer expectations are far more challenging now, and AI could be the savior of the whole sector. Check, check, check; we're all covering that ground in our research and consulting. For this post, I have another angle that may be less obvious, but still pertinent for coming out on the right side of things when, or if, all this disruption runs its course.

No matter how well enterprises and contact centers adopt new technology, people need to make decisions, and business units need to be aligned on how to do right by the customer. In a perfect world, omnichannel helps break down silos to make information from across the organization accessible to contact center agents so they can deliver great customer experiences.

Not surprisingly, this is harder to do than it looks, but the main idea is that a customer only interfaces with one agent. This takes all the friction out of the process, and it should be just as seamless whether the agent gets all the data from a single CRM query, or pulls several datasets from disparate departments that never talk to each other. Of course, technology is the great enabler, but when it comes to customer experience (CX), the contact center isn't the only arbiter driving this.

The two most recent industry events on my calendar have validated an emerging trend I've been writing about recently, namely the importance of other stakeholders in shaping CX. At Cisco's customer care day, the new GM of Customer Care Product Development -- Vasili Triant -- talked about how the conventional metrics for total addressable market underestimate the true business opportunity. Beyond the contact center environment, Cisco is seeing growing demand for solutions among sales and market lines of business, especially with the advent of AI for customer journey mapping.

Cisco is not alone in this view, and to take things a step further, I'm going to share some highlights from a new study presented at the Genesys CX18 event. Titled "State of Customer Experience," this global research report is drawn from more than 1,900 consumers and 1,300 business executives, across multiple organizational functions. The study has a lot of good findings about customer preferences, AI, etc., but I'll focus instead on data that supports my "inside-out" theme.

What's Most Important for CX?

Well, that depends on who you ask. When asked to indicate which of eight CX-related attributes they most value in terms of "customer support and interaction," 29% of consumer respondents gave "first contact resolution" (FCR) the top rating. This finding isn't unexpected, and it certainly validates why FCR has long been a core contact center KPI.

While 29% may not seem like a dominant position, keep in mind respondents were choosing from eight attributes, all of which have a role to play in determining CX. That said, only 18% of respondents chose the next closest attribute, with the rest falling off quickly to low single digits. In other words, relative to these other attributes, you should have little doubt that FCR is tops in the minds of customers for driving CX.

Fair enough, but a look at how enterprise respondents ranked the same attributes in terms of what their "organization values in a customer service interaction" tells a somewhat different story. Interestingly, the rankings vary when broken out by three operational functions -- customer care, IT, and marketing.

On a statistical basis, the spread among the three operational functions is rather small, so the preference for FCR over the other attributes was less pronounced than with consumers. That aside, it's interesting to see how the rankings differ, and that only customer care execs are in alignment with consumers about FCR. Clearly, IT execs and marketing execs think other attributes are more important, and that's the root of the inside-out problem I'm getting at. If these three critical stakeholder groups aren't in alignment with what customers value the most, how can the organization as a whole deliver a superior CX?

Continue to next page: Who Owns CX?