Over the last few weeks in my blogs, I’ve been doubling down on several key areas of a next-gen platform that organizations must consider. For example, I simplified the concept of next-gen IT for keeping up with the speed of digital change. I broke down the top barriers preventing brands from capitalizing on AI/automation. I discussed how to successfully bring legacy into a new world of IoT. Most recently, I explored the limitless possibility of a fully open, extensible, multi-vendor ecosystem.
But what does this all boil down to? That would be the fifth and final key area of a next-gen platform, which is undoubtedly most important of all: the customer/citizens experience (CX).
Now the No. 1 indicator of strategic performance is this: more than 80% of companies recognize the CX as a major differentiator. It builds customer trust, reduces costs, and boosts employee engagement levels. But, as we all know, companies are still struggling to execute their strategies. I’m talking about a lot of companies. So much that only 13% rate their CX delivery a nine out of 10 or better.
There’s something seriously wrong with these numbers. It’s encouraging to see such organizational awareness of the CX; however, the number of companies succeeding is worrisome at best. In an age of rapid digital innovation, we’re still seeing far too many disjointed CX strategies. So, just what’s going on here?
The Three-Step Process That Guarantees CX Delivery
It’s time to get down to brass tacks. Here’s a three-step process that, if followed correctly, will substantially improve CX delivery in today’s smart, digital world:
STEP 1: Clearly understand the kind of experience you’re trying to deliver
Big data analytics? Check. Omnichannel? Check. What about Ambient-Context (real-time input from IOTs)? Check. End-to-end network segmentation? Check. What about AI integration for automation? Check.
Now, what kind of experience are you trying to deliver with these technologies? As Steve Jobs once said, “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.” CX awareness doesn’t necessarily mean an understanding of what CX really is: a representation of each individual organization’s brand values and personality.
So, what does this mean? Before implementing any new technology, companies should engage in an introspective phase that enables them to understand who they are as a brand and how this translates into the user experience they want to deliver. During this time of reflection, companies should try not to rely on the status quo. As Henry Ford famously said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” In today’s world of seemingly limitless customer and business outcomes, the worst thing a company can do is box itself in. That’s not how digital giants like Apple, Facebook and Amazon forever changed the CX paradigm (not to mention sell billions of dollars of product each year). Before anything else, take time to creatively diversify and reimagine the CX within your industry.
STEP 2: Validate that experience
So, you know the kind of experience you want to deliver. Now, how do you validate it? In other words, how can you know for certain that the experience you want to deliver is what end-users actually get? This is where the explosive amount of data within your organization becomes vital. It’s imperative that brands track, collect and share data across multiple different knowledge sources to validate the CX. This is an understandable pain point considering recent research. Data analytics is listed as one of 2017’s top technology trends, yet:
About half of all analytic systems currently don’t meet customer/organizational requirements.
More than 60% of companies have no analysis capability that combines data from all channels.
Only 41% use analytics to customize the CX.
Lack of sophisticated analytics is largely why 44% of organizations think CX is too difficult. Brands must prioritize data exchange by seamlessly integrating disparate systems in an open, agile ecosystem. At the end of the day, transforming the CX comes down to the data available to help brands continually enhance, validate and push the envelope. It’s time for companies to put their data to work; otherwise, they’re competing blind.
STEP 3: Continually innovate/improve that experience with the right technology
Mobility, cloud, social, omnichannel, Ambient-Context, AI, ML, big data analytics … the list goes on in terms of tech implementation. In the end, the tech used to continually innovate and improve will differ depending on varying company requirements. This means one thing: brands need an open, integrated, future-proof architecture platform that enables them to securely develop services and apps that meet exact customer and vertical needs.
When it comes to the CX, the challenge is not so much tech implementation but rather customization. This is why 42% of organizations say their digital systems fall short of current needs, and why nearly 75% believe their current technologies will fail to meet future needs. A shift to customization is what will enable companies to swiftly overcome two of the top three factors currently hindering CX capabilities: inflexible legacy systems and technology silos.
Less than half of organizations are not fully involved in designing their technology systems. We need more businesses involving themselves in the design stage of their tech ecosystems, keeping customization top of mind.
These five key areas of a next-gen platform—next-gen IT, IoT, AI/automation, open ecosystem, customer/citizens experience—are collectively propelling companies into a new and exciting era. Organizations across every industry will soon see a profound shift in how their services are consumed and how end-users experience their brand. The key is being nimble, innovative and adaptable enough to survive not only this transitional era, but the many that will undoubtedly happen in the future.
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