Where does technology fit in customer experience? A recent report from cloud solution provider Rackspace posed this question.
While the survey found “application-driven customer experience” a priority for almost half of organizations (48%), it found a disconnect in the C-Suite related to how important technology was to achieving customer experience goals. Fifty-five percent of CIOs and 53% of CTOs recognized the value technology brought to CX efforts, CFOs (at 34%) and COOs (at 23%) weren’t as convinced. CEOs split the difference between the two sides at 49%.
How can organizations go about establishing their tech needs when it comes to improving the customer experience?
First Things First: Establish What You Have and Understand Where You Are in CX Efforts
Before adding technology to help with CX or any other corporate strategy, a company first needs to assess it current technology assets and capabilities, said Brian Atkiss, Anexinet director advanced analytics.
“Evaluate the ability to collect, analyze, optimize and act on customer data across all touchpoints and channels and to deliver personalized experiences in real time,” Atkiss said. “Understand and define key business drivers, target users and use cases and define the technology to provide enhanced digital experiences.”
Additionally, a company needs to identify technology and cultural barriers to adding technological resources, Atkiss added. A company should also evaluate digital transformation priorities and their impact on operations and infrastructure.
“When you view technology through lens of an individual CX function, you can’t connect the dots throughout the customer’s entire relationship with the company,” said Wilson Raj, SAS global director of customer intelligence. “CX tech investments must be anchored in a continuous closed-loop cycle of four, key CX activities: understanding customers and their experiences; analyzing data collected from those experiences; acting on the insights; and continually managing CX efforts across the brand.”
As such, Raj sees four specific areas where leveraging technology boosts a company’s CX efforts:
1. Data Collection and Management Technologies to Understand Customers
Technologies like surveys, interaction analysis, social listening and text or sentiment analysis tools can collect qualitative and quantitative data on customers and their experiences. Companies can combine data from these tools to link customer perceptions captured in a survey to their behaviors when engaging with various brand touchpoints. These technologies also help monitor the results of their efforts over time, as they evaluate CX feedback collected over time.
2. Analytics and Reporting to Track and Adjust CX Actions
These technologies analyze engagement data collected on-the-fly, tracking how well CX efforts enhance experiences; and distribute insights to CX stakeholders across the brand. For example, an AI-enhanced routing system for a contact center can mine contextual data on a customer’s past interactions and profile to predict her needs, while voice analysis can guide the agent in real time.
Related Article: Why Great Customer Experiences Start With Humans, Not Technology
3. Experience Execution and Optimization to Act on Real-Time Insights
These technologies directly engage prospects and customers, while incorporating CX insights into business decisions and actions that affect experiences. Internal capabilities include managing CX improvement activities in customer touchpoints such as call centers or service chatbots; external capabilities include A/B/n testing and personalization embedded in marketing and ecommerce stacks.
4. Experience Management to Coordinate Cross-Channel Initiatives
According to Raj, this tier supports CX coordination activities to holistically understand and react to customer perceptions shaped by the sum of their interactions with a brand. Technologies include those that support processes for synchronizing listen, interpret, act and monitor activities across all practices and channels affecting experiences. Examples include cross-team platform capabilities embedded in journey analytics; business intelligence tools; customer feedback management tools and engagement platforms such as customer data or real-time decisioning platforms.
“With careful linkage to CX outcomes, the right set of technologies embedded in a test-and-learn culture can substantially improve CX and increase customer lifetime value,” Raj said.
Atkiss added two other critical areas where technology can improve customer experience efforts.
Related Article: What’s Killing Your Customer Journey? Friction
5. 360 Customer Data View to Drive Personalized Journeys and Experiences
Companies need technology to create 360-degree views into customer data, which are accessible throughout the organization. Armed with this data, each line of business can improve service delivery, reduce latency and create proactive customer experiences. For example, conversational AI can be leveraged to automate customer service interactions, using “customer 360” data to create personalized experiences. Additionally, customer loyalty campaigns can be more effective if they can pinpoint trends in customer data indicating potential customer churn, such as declining email open rates, reduced website visits, low customer satisfaction metrics or persistent returns.
6. AI and RPA for Customer Insights and to Trigger Next-Best Actions
Using a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics process automation can provide insights into customer behavior and trigger automatic actions to drive engagement with relevant, targeted and personalized experiences to drive lifetime behavior, Atkiss said. “For example, analytics and AI can trigger recommendations/reminders/actions and target offers based on time of day, location and weather. Social listening analytics can identify shifts in customer sentiment and loyalty.”
Phil Britt is a veteran journalist who has spent the last 40 years working with newspapers, magazines and websites covering marketing, business, technology, financial services and a variety of other topics.
He has operated his own editorial services firm, S&P Enterprises, Inc., since the end of 1993.