CX Can Differentiate Your Business, But What About Your Career?

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As lockdowns end, and business activity begins again, it is clear that whatever the ‘new normal’ is, it is going to include a lot of uncertainty. We have already seen drastic budget headcount reductions across all industries. That said, customer expectations are growing and that means large-scale changes to the way businesses engage, manage, and deliver support.

CX leaders have a unique opportunity to redefine their teams in a way that works for customers and the bottom line. Automation needs to be embraced as the first line of attack, within the context of a broader strategy, and AI needs to be put into the hands of the people that actually work with customers – customer service specialists.

A New Role for the New Normal

Automated Customer Experience (ACX) Departments are completely new teams dedicated to owning a conversational AI-first strategy from end-to-end. They typically sit under the VP of Customer Success or a similar role, and determine how, where and when AI is introduced across the customer journey. They build and monitor chatbot content, decide how to track it and use that data to help raise CSAT scores, lower costs, and before long, drive revenue.

If that sounds like a pipe dream, I will acknowledge that automation roll outs have had their fair share of bad press. In the past, there was no clear understanding of who “owned” automation, and many CX leaders struggled to manage the technology. That said, technology is always improving, and today’s leading ACX solutions are delivered as no code or low code platforms, making them easier to deploy and use. Today’s leading businesses are leveraging these advancements, and others, like language support, to deliver a differentiated service experience. Successful ACX deployments have followed a similar three phase approach to get results:

1. Phase One: Educate customers about why you launched a chatbot and the expected benefits. Assign a ‘Bot Manager’, ideally your best CX professional, responsible for building the chatbot, measuring and enhancing its performance, and leveraging analytics to drive strategy. This person will determine the best method for escalating a customer from chatbot to live chat and identify and automate top inquiries. Start with the top ten key customer inquiries, and then automate conversation flows to resolve them. Do not just set it and forget it. To make this experience more human, use analytics to identify opportunities to improve performance.

2. Phase Two: Raise CSAT by evolving your chatbot from answering low-tier questions with generic responses, to automating actions with personalized content. Your Bot Manager is freed from their previous duties, to focus 100% of their time on improving customer relationships. Share the results of automation internally with metrics like: $X saved in overhead costs, including headcount, % decrease in agent attrition, % increase in customer satisfaction and %X decrease in agent resolution time.

3. Phase Three: This involves implementing self-service at every customer service touch point – from first greeting to final payment. This phase uncovers new profit by incentivizing customers with proactive, personalized offerings, while also automating upsells, cross-sells and payments.

Value for the Customer, Career Value for the Agent

Adding an automation first strategy to customer service, led by an ACX department and owner, has been proven to deliver value for everyone involved. For customers, they have come to expect self-service, they love personalization and getting quick responses to their questions. The CFO wins because a successful AI strategy drives costs savings through increased efficiencies and additional revenue. At the same time, ACX empowers agents by identifying opportunities to introduce new self-service efficiencies that take repetitive tasks off the agents’ plates and frees them up to focus on more complex, proactive, and high-value inquiries—which are also more rewarding. A structured ACX Certification program takes customer experience teams through essentials from bot building to optimization, offers application based assignments, and awards recipients upon completing themed learning paths. These types of certifications can help CX experts differentiate themselves in a tough job market.

As organizations evolve, the ACX organization will need to evolve as well. Roles dedicated to integrating bot analytics into organization-wide strategies as well as cross-functional roles where the agent works to understand where AI can be further introduced across the customer experience may be in the not-so-distant future. Organizations and CX agents today have a real opportunity to gain a competitive edge by embracing automation, and getting in on the ground floor of ACX.

Mike Murchison
Mike Murchison, one of Forbes’ Top 30 under 30, is the CEO and Cofounder of Ada, a venture-backed AI-powered platform that is transforming how businesses around the world, including TELUS, Upwork, and AirAsia, provide customer service. Before Ada, Mike answered tens of thousands of customer service inquiries manually firsthand. Using this experience, he set out to build Ada’s platform that puts the benefits of AI into the hands of non-technical support teams to build, manage, and track ROI-driving automated customer experiences.

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