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Improved employee experience = improved customer experience

Mike Asebrook, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

Experiences – they connect people to actions, create meaning from encounters, and shape individual’s views and values. That’s why brand-conscious organizations strive to provide great customer experiences (CX).

A customer’s overall experience is rooted from multiple touch points across the customer’s journey, spanning interactions with sales, marketers, products, service channels, technologies, and people. With so many aspects contributing to the customer’s overall impression of an enterprise, how can organizations provide consistently outstanding experiences time and time again?

The answers reside from the people who experience CX on a daily basis - both customers and employees. To dig a bit deeper on this topic, we recently surveyed 12,500 business leaders, employees, and customers across the globe to find out which touch points might be more influential than others and what elements are crucial for delivering that good customer service experience brands strive for.

Here are some key takeaways:

Customers rank service quality as a highly important factor for brand loyalty…

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of surveyed customers responded that customer service quality is a determining factor for brand loyalty, and 75% of customers say they have stopped doing business with an organization because of a poor service experience – statistics that are not lost on organizations. Most of our surveyed business leaders (81%) agree that service is an important brand differentiator. Customers also ranked agent-assisted channels, such as phone or email, as the most often-used, making the customer service agent an integral contributor to the customer experience and customer journey.

…but 48% of surveyed employees experience barriers to providing an excellent customer experience.

Our survey group includes 3,600 customer-facing employees (service agents) across a range of industries, who have some strong opinions on what makes for good customer service as well as what prevents them from delivering it the way they want to. We’ve summarized their feedback in an eBook focused on the employee’s role in contributing to overall customer experience.

The three key components for delivering a good customer experience.

In their opinion, a good customer experience includes:

  • A fast resolution of the customer’s problem or issue (84%)
  • Capabilities to anticipate customer issues and suggest the next-best-available option to resolve (70%)
  • Intelligent guidance that helps solve a customer’s issue (61%)

However, these customer-facing service agents are running into daily roadblocks that are not only frustrating but are preventing them from providing customers with outstanding experiences they wish they could deliver.

So what’s not working? What’s holding service agents back from delivering great service?

According to our survey, top frustrations for customer service agents are:

  • Passing customers off to other teams or departments (48%)
  • Inputting the same data multiple times in different places (28%)
  • Needing to sign into multiple, different systems (25%)

Sound familiar? These frustrations are the manifestations of a number of challenges: The 24/7, channel-agnostic service demands of consumers in a digital-first world; the technological lag of organizations struggling to capture and make sense of data from a variety of sources and channels; and the drive to deliver on-demand services via an endlessly growing list of channels and devices.

Many organizations are still saddled with a jumble of legacy systems, discrete applications, and disconnected data and processes that not only require customer service agents to jump from app to app or toggle between systems but also prevent them from taking advantage of intelligent real-time technologies that can track information, analyze customer data, and provide consistent guidance and proactive recommendations.

Eliminating or improving these systemic problems can improve the working environment for customer service agents and empower them with the information they need to provide first-class service experiences – a win-win for both customers and businesses.

How can service organizations bridge that efficiency gap?

Intelligent automation tools can help improve the experience for both the employee (EX) and customer.

Business leaders take note: More than a third of our surveyed employees (34%) cited the lack of adequate technology as a barrier to providing high-quality customer service. But to improve customer experience, organizations shouldn’t think “more technology.” Instead, they should seek out the right technology.

Which tech can affect the most change? The ones that help connect data and channels, streamline processes, and provide proactive real-time guidance – and can be implemented in a relatively short amount of time. We’ve identified four, below, that empower customer service organizations to start making big changes quickly.

  • Intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) and chatbots Customers think of chatbots as the “Want to chat?” boxes that pop-up on an organization’s website. But chatbots also include intelligent assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Now, and Cortana. Their use has grown over the past decade as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning capabilities have improved, making it possible for customers to have a contextual and conversational experience for self-service or preemptive service needs 24/7. These technologies can lessen the burden on the call center, allowing agents to focus their attention on more complex and higher-value inquiries.

    Our surveyed group of employees have high hopes for chatbots and IVAs in the contact center. Although only 9% of employees claim their organizations offer chatbot capabilities, 62% of customer service agents believe chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants have the potential to serve customers in a timely way, while freeing up the agent to focus on consultative issues that require human interaction. And 60% believe these technologies won’t take over but instead will become complementary to customer service work, helping to improve the overall customer experience.

  • Next-best-action decisioning – Customer service organizations and customer-facing agents want to provide the best service, every time, for every customer. Instead of relying on each individual agent’s knowledge and experience to resolve issues, centralized decisioning technology can help evaluate the context of the interaction along with relevant historical and real-time data, then present real-time suggestions of appropriate responses, relevant content, or timely offers for the agent. By leveraging AI in this way, organizations can reduce time spent training and onboarding, improve accuracy and consistency in messaging, and create better overall experiences for workers and customers.

  • Case management – Real case management is more than just a task tracker. It’s the essential component that orchestrates human and machine work from end-to-end, including bots, processes, data, integrations, decisioning logic, and people functions. It connects systems, people, and processes and automates the actions from beginning to end for every inquiry, assisting agents in accessing accurate information at the right time. It’s a foundational capability essential for activating analyses and recommendations from AI and machine learning as part of a greater approach to customer service automation.

  • Robotic desktop automation – As my colleague Nolan Greene points out in his most recent RPA blog, robotic automations that sit on the desktop are quick to implement and can help automate tasks like search, data entry, and data retrieval, shaving time off of and, in certain cases, fully eliminating some of the repetitive tasks agents perform. These bots work in tandem with customer service agents to help resolve issues more accurately and quickly.

The good news is that a lot of these technologies are being leveraged within the contact center – showing a direct correlation to an improved overall customer experience.

And within the next two years, 95% of surveyed business leaders plan to invest in more advanced technology to support customer service.

Customer-facing agents play a critical role in customer experience. By using technology to reduce the amount of manual work required for each customer service inquiry and by automating intelligent guidance, organizations can both streamline and enhance the capabilities of their people on the front lines of service – improving experiences for employees and customers.

Learn more:


Industry: Cross-Industry Product Area: Customer Service Solution Area: Customer Service Topic: Customer Service

About the Author

Mike Asebrook, director of product marketing for customer service, is passionate about helping our clients revolutionize their customer engagement and realize outstanding success.