In the digital era, companies are waging competition not just on the strengths of their products and services, but through customer experience (CX). New tools like artificial intelligence (AI) turn data into actions and predictive insights, yet achieving the perfect CX can seem elusive without transforming all related processes.
There is a lot of hype around using digital technologies to deliver an instantaneous, seamless CX, something like “the Amazon experience.” For instance, many banking websites and apps now use chatbots to provide instant account information. However, what happens when a customer has a more sophisticated request, such as a quote for financial products? It is during these types of interactions where many companies unfortunately fall short. Companies often buy into the CX hype and cannot always translate otherwise great ideas into tangible results.
Digital technologies can bring predictive insights to help service agents (human and bots alike, often working together) understand more about what the customer wants, even before he or she asks. The best approach harnesses technology and analytics through the business domain lens – using lean management and human-centred design-thinking principles to leverage insights, informed by process and industry knowledge. The end result derives solutions that are practical, yet also reimagine CX operations at scale.
Yet, there is more to superior CX than technology, even when companies integrate it throughout the organisation. Enterprises also need an adaptive workforce, and a connected ecosystem that breaks down internal organisational silos, and can partner externally, perhaps even with competitors.
So how is possible to avoid the CX “hype bubble?” Here are three ways to drive operational transformation that delivers CX nirvana, leveraging front-to-back operations at scale.
1. Expand CX to span multiple operations; they’re the vertebrae of ONE spinal cord.
When it comes to digital transformation, most companies invest as much as they can in customer-facing processes in the front office, while the back-end operations often remain overlooked. A truly differentiating CX requires more than a pretty app. Rather; narrowly-focused front-end initiatives fail to deliver impact because the root of the problems often lies elsewhere in legacy systems and processes in the middle or back offices.
For example, a bank might set up a checking account for a customer via a digital app in under an hour, but it cannot fulfil compliance requirements and back-office processes to activate the account at the same pace. Without the required back-end process efficiencies, enterprises and customers lose the benefits of an automated, web- and mobile-enabled interface with a single customer view across channels. Cleaning up the front office and plugging it into an old back office with a fragmented, slow flow of transactional work, often done by manual and legacy systems, can only result in suboptimal digital efforts and poor CX.
Organisations must have connected ecosystems that break down operational silos among processes and departments. While CX is a common priority, often different functions – from marketing to operations, human resources and finance – collect and store data in silos, and are focused on their own goals, which creates internal roadblocks. Companies need to unify these processes, systems, and data structures. However, this might require a big change in culture and data governance practices.
2. Have an adaptive workforce with employees who speak both technology and behaviour design; their sensors and muscles will power methodically instinctive reactions.
Any large-scale, technology-driven transformation involves digital tools; success, however, requires broad change management. Digital transformation cannot improve CX by simply adding advanced technologies to existing workflows. Enterprises must embed technologies such as AI and predictive analytics into the fabric of business process, which is easier said than done.
Change requires an adaptive workforce to align the human, process, and technology stack needed across the front, middle, and back office. Employee teams need to operate with agility, and be able to pivot and quickly identify the right technologies and necessary new operating models, reimagining processes to support the desired CX and business outcomes.
Enterprises must embrace new ideas rather than focus on legacy thinking. An adaptive workforce has the curiosity that allows the company to remain nimble and open to change. This culture of curiosity must start at the top. CEOs and other leaders must set the example by demonstrating the capability and desire to learn.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail; organisational instinct also learns from mistakes.
Long-lead development will not always work, especially in today’s age of agile start-ups. Enterprises need to learn to “fail fast.” Most companies come from a culture of first-time right where a solid foundation of processes, checks, and balances dictates the rollout of any new initiative. Instead, organisations should consider a two-speed development model, one that rewards both first-time-right and fail-fast digital efforts. The latter cultivates innovation, allowing organisations to implement solutions quickly, recognise mistakes, correct, and adapt.
A successful and satisfying customer journey only takes place with a focused end-to-end solution. Steered by that “true north,” organisations can streamline or even completely reimagine their operations across the enterprise. With a digital stack that aligns processes, departments, offices, and people with business goals, enterprises can rise above the hype bubble and deliver a real differentiating customer experience.
But that’s a lot of moving parts to control. To achieve CX nirvana, processes (and the tech that runs them) must go hand-in-hand with the most critical touch points to encourage the equivalent of muscle memory, instinctively. And, an adaptive workforce is necessary to leverage these advantages. An instinctive enterprise, with AI as its neural wiring, connects, predicts, and adapts at every quick, transactional interaction to inform higher-level learning and transform business models.
Gianni Giacomelli, Business Leader, Digital Solutions, Genpact
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