Guest Column | May 10, 2021

Delivering The Orchestrated Customer Experience: Why – And How – We Need To Rethink The Contact Center

By Greg Weber, Eventus

Contact Center

Customer expectations have changed dramatically in recent years, both in the B2B and the B2C worlds. “The Amazon Effect,” as it’s often called, created a paradigm in which every retailer can deliver goods ordered within 24 hours, businesses are always open, and customer service responds promptly, even at 2:00 AM. While many retail businesses were quick to catch on, other industries have been slower to adapt.

That’s important. Customer experience (CX), now more than ever, can give companies a competitive advantage - and still so many are handling it poorly. The current state of the contact center is, at best, deficient. In 2021, customers should not be facing long hold times, impersonal auto-attendants, or agents who cannot resolve their issues immediately.

For Value-Added Resellers, this is especially important. A successful VAR needs to elevate the conversation, offering - among their other specific “value-adds” – exceptional customer service. In a crowded and competitive market, offering an Orchestrated Customer Experience from the very first touchpoint can give VARs the edge they need to remain relevant, if not stay ahead.

What customers should have is a productive, predictive, and personalized experience. Not only is it what they expect, but it also will provide positive outcomes for both businesses and customers as they move along the path to purchase. That’s what the Orchestrated Customer Experience is all about.

What’s The Problem With CX Today?

At a high level, the problem is fragmentation. There are too many solutions cobbled together into a makeshift technology stack, creating too much complexity. This Frankenstein-like assembly of technologies is frequently the result of a poorly-executed CX transformation. Too often, businesses invest incrementally in solutions designed to automate, analyze, and accelerate operations, rather than making a larger, more holistic investment. The result is a cacophonous, rather than harmonious, experience in which sets of technologies are siloed and loosely integrated when they need to be orchestrated.

This scenario relies on the customer service representative to manually stitch disjointed platforms together, focusing entirely too much on pushing the right button and not enough on meeting the needs of the actual customer. The result for the customer is a frustrating, time-consuming hassle - and the feeling that the company they’ve chosen to do business with doesn’t “know” them at all or respect their time.

Furthermore, these systems also fail to acknowledge or take advantage of the mobile-first experience most customers prefer. That means contact centers are missing out on the opportunity to enable new communication channels and securely exchange information - information consumers often feel customer service reps “should” know. As an example, if a customer is calling because they’ve just logged in to download a service pack that didn’t complete successfully, this is information that should be readily available to the customer service rep. Imagine how much better the customer’s experience would be if, when the rep answered the phone, they knew precisely why the customer was calling and were prepared and empowered to fix the problem.

It’s possible.

The Orchestrated Customer Experience Is The Solution

To arrive at a solution, businesses need to look at their contact center ecosystem holistically, rather than as a set of components. To orchestrate a productive, predictive, and personalized customer experience, there are three key components to consider:

  • A channel management engine
  • A managed experience system
  • A performance management module

While these are all technology-driven, the human touch remains an important part of the process. In fact, by seamlessly coordinating technologies, the customer service rep is free to engage with the customer, instead of being tethered to a keyboard and series of commands.

The Channel Management Engine manages several channel technologies including voice, chat email, SMS, social and mobile apps. It leverages these technologies to build cohesive customer experiences through automated services and CSR interactions. It’s a massive departure from the traditional voice-heavy models of most Automatic Call Distributors (ACDs) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, focusing instead on the mobile-first interactions customers that customers have grown to favor.

While the Channel Management Engine addresses the current customer interaction, the Managed Experience System ensures that interaction is an integrated part of an overarching business process, and contextually based on customer data. Rather than treating a customer interaction as an event or incident that is tackled, handed off, and filed away, the Managed Experience System ensures that each interaction is considered carefully and treated as part of the productive, predictive, and personalized experience along their journey.

The Managed Experience System is a key part of the Orchestrated Customer Experience, allowing a company to create a holistic CX service that incorporates both automated processes and human interactions. It works in unison with the Channel Engagement Engine to empower the customer along their proactive journey.

The Performance Management Module answers two critical questions for business leaders. The first is, “Do I have the right resources in the right place at the right time to provide exceptional customer engagement?” The second is, “Do customers view our CX as exceptional - and how can it be improved?” Traditional reporting only provides isolated snapshots of overall customer contact center performance, but decision makers require far more insight.

Ideally, the Performance Management Module integrates data feeds from all the components in the Channel Management Engine and Managed Experience System. It should also incorporate non-traditional contact center metrics, which would vary depending on the business, but might include data points like customer wallet share, product portfolio by customer, and operational labor costs to provide a more comprehensive view of the overall customer experience. Ultimately, when the data is effectively aggregated, the Performance Management Module can be used for predictive analytics and can be used to further improve and optimize the Orchestrated Customer Experience.

In summary, the Orchestrated Customer Experience represents a shift in how we conceive and deliver customer service. By taking a customer-centric, technology-driven approach, both customer experience and agent experience can be dramatically improved - which also will positively impact the bottom line. It requires a different mindset and a reorienting of goals, but it’s well worth the effort and the investment.

About The Author

Greg Weber is chief technology officer at Eventus Solutions Group. A leader in the enterprise communication industry with over 20 years of experience, he brings a wealth of knowledge enabling mobile and digital customer experiences from cloud services in an omni-channel ecosystem. He helps clients achieve their CX business goals and plan for the future of customer engagement.