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Why business survival and stability hinges on CX transformation

Customers expect more than ever from businesses when it comes to CX. By coordinating their existing data and being smarter with their use of automation, companies can meet and exceed their expectations even in a challenging operating landscape.

By Peter Lorant, EMEA COO Zendesk

Last updated May 23, 2023

Delivering an outstanding customer experience (CX) has never been more important. In fact, according to the findings of the Zendesk CX Accelerator 2022 report, customers are even less patient now than they were a year ago when it comes to the quality of the interactions they have with companies. Failure to meet their expectations can also carry a heavy cost, pushing customers towards competitors, denting revenue growth, and reducing net promoter scores.

However, although 64 per cent of companies who took part in our CX Accelerator report recognise this direct impact, there has been an 18 per cent increase in the number of companies reporting subpar customer satisfaction since 2021. Unresolved customer inquiries are also up 157 per cent year-on-year, while 24 per cent fewer tickets are being resolved successfully in less than an hour.

In other words, CX innovation appears to have slowed noticeably since the initial progress and modernisation inspired by the response to COVID-19. Despite a challenging macroeconomic and geopolitical landscape, companies must go further and faster in transforming their CX strategy if they are to strengthen their customer relationships, retain their competitive edge and boost their business stability in these uncertain times.

The changing CX leadership landscape

It appears that even the companies who offer leading examples of CX are faltering under current conditions. In our CX Accelerator 2022 report, we categorise businesses that are demonstrating the greatest CX maturity as ‘Champions.’ However, even these companies are likely to have more than 10 per cent of their tickets go unresolved. They are also 2.5 times more likely to be in this position than the other three categories we identified: Starters; Emergers; and Risers.

While this seems unusual, it could actually be an early indicator of transformation, meaning the time taken to resolve customer tickets may no longer be the best data point to focus on. Champions are leading the way on solutions that deploy automated technology alongside human hand-offs, with 75 per cent of them using this approach. This links to a strong trend among Champions that are actively making their customer interactions more conversational. This more human, hybrid approach can result in better connections with customers, increased upsell opportunities, and a more effective overall CX.

As Champions seek to pioneer and test long-term CX solutions, businesses in the other three categories have an opportunity to gain ground and improve their standing with customer bases. Even amidst challenging conditions and tight budgets, organisations of all sizes can take meaningful action to enhance their CX.

Harness and unify your data

A critical part of doing so is tackling siloes and complexity around data. From freeing up valuable time for your CX specialists on the ground and improving workflows, to enhancing your ability to offer a more personalised experience to customers, the benefits of harnessing your data are powerful–and growing.

Creating a more seamless and personalised CX is also central to meeting the growing demands of consumers as it allows you to present tailored offers and options as part of the CX, while building stronger, lasting relationships at the same time. By bringing multiple applications together in one place, companies can also create more streamlined experiences, making customers feel more engaged, and as a result, more likely to use the services offered to them.

With just 37 per cent of companies stating that they are ‘very strong’ when it comes to delivering personalised experiences, this is clearly an area in which companies from all categories of CX leadership can make improvements. Many businesses are collecting significant amounts of customer data, with 50 per cent of organisations using between six and 15 applications to enrich their customer journey insights.

While collecting a large amount of customer data is important when it comes to delivering a highly personalised CX, it is also essential to collate data into a single view. Not only does this improve the CX directly, but it also enables organisations to increase their productivity, maximise the effectiveness of their workforce, and reduce costs across the board.

Beyond simply collecting, analysing, and deploying data, key insights can be shared and used collaboratively across a business to great effect. That’s because taking a cross-functional approach to data equips your teams to identify even more opportunities to deepen relationships with customers and drive engagement–from addressing queries to increased cross-selling.

Formulating a winning hybrid approach

Just as breaking down departmental and data siloes is vital to success in today’s business world, the same is true for people and bot technology. It is clear that the personal touch and conversational benefits of human interaction are key to building lasting customer relationships, but so are the game changing capabilities of automated CX tools. Bots offer the ability to communicate with and redirect large numbers of customers in a timely fashion, enabling organisations to deliver dynamic experiences at scale. The answer, therefore, is undoubtedly a hybrid CX methodology, and your ability to strike the right balance will determine your success.

While Champions are leading the way in hybrid CX strategy, other groups can benefit by investing in its adoption. For instance, only 52 per cent of Starters are exploring the use of hybrid CX, in stark contrast to the 75 per cent of Champions already doing so. We also see a lack of effective integrated bot technology in the Emerger category, with only 13 per cent of these organisations able to state that their agents are rarely or never overwhelmed.

The integrated road ahead

There’s no doubt that today’s businesses face a unique combination of challenges. Yet at the same time, there are immense opportunities available to those companies that take a hybrid approach and transform their CX capabilities.

Organisations can thrive by removing silos that prevent data unification, cross-functional collaboration, and the integration of humans and bots. Doing so will go a long way toward delighting customers, creating new business opportunities, reducing costs, and improving efficiency. Better still, in many cases this can all be achieved simply by maximising the data assets you already have.

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