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The Fractured Customer Experience Comes Together

Roland Alston, Appian
April 15, 2019

(This is the fourth installment of our 5-part series, Winning the Future: 5 Digital Trends You Can't Afford to Miss in 2019 and Beyond. Read part1here,part 2here, and part 3 here.)

It's easy to downplay customer experience (CX) as a soft business metric. But there's nothing squishy about the fact that:

    • 70% of your business having something to do with how you make customers feel

    • CX will surpass price as a key brand differentiator by 2020

    • 80% of global contact center execs say that improving CX will be the biggest driver of technology investment

Yet, customer experience is precisely where many companies stumble.

In fact, the overall quality of the US customer experience is stagnating, according to Forrester's 2018Customer Experience Index (CX Index) for US brands. A huge part of the problem is the disconnect between customer touch points across the organization. But it doesn't have to be that way. Much better to createa single, holistic view of customer touch points across your organization and leverage intelligent automation to optimize them.

Case in point:Aviva.

As the largest insurance company in the United Kingdom (UK), Aviva has operations in 16 countries and over 36 million customers.Officials at Aviva wanted to unify disconnected customer data and processes that were walled off between several departments and systems. For front-line customer care employees, resolving a single customer service request could mean accessing up to 22 different systems.

To simplify and streamline service delivery, Aviva turned to Appian Cloud to unify numerous systems and provide a single unified platform for call center operations. This gave call center agents a 360-degree view of Aviva customers which dramatically accelerated customer response times.

"When a customer calls," says Paula Whitwell-Lumsden, UK Customer Operations Strategy & Transformation Director, "our front line advisors can launch a screen in Appian that surfaces every policy that a customer has with Aviva."

"In the past our advisors would have to access and navigate anywhere from 12 to 22 systems on a daily basis. Now, they're down to one system, which is Appian."

Paula Whitwell-Lumsden, Aviva

Convergence of Technologies Elevates CX

Aviva was able to use case management functionality as the unifying system of engagement for data spanning multiple legacy systems.Additionally, Aviva was able to simplify customer self-service by connecting a low-code development platform to their customer portal (using Web APIs). This allowed customers to transact business without having to go through Aviva's contact center. As a result, the company and its customers reaped the benefits of a9X Increase in Service Delivery Speed.

Additionally, Aviva used the case management and robotic process automation of a low-code platform to reduce operational service costs by more than 40%

The Intelligent Contact Center: Cracking the Omni-channel Code

Back in the day, software development was mostly about driving efficiency. But the overwhelming majority of modern companies prioritize CX over cost savings. Not that cost reduction doesn't matter, it's just not the #1 driver of application development anymore.

"Just three years ago," says Customer Experience Management expert Connie Moore, "it was like pulling teeth to get the operational excellence people to think beyond the operational box which is doing things cheaper, better, faster and thinking internally rather than outside the operations box."

"But the topic of journey mapping is coming up in conversations on the operational side of the organization and that some operations people are playing a leadership role in it."

Which brings us to the buzzworthy topic of omni-channel.

"Yes it's a buzzword," says Moore, "but senior execs should take it seriously. You could place a phone call and hit one line of business, says Moore. "Then, you could end up getting transferred to a different line of business in the same company," says Moore. "Which means you may have to start the customer service process all over again to get your problem resolved."

"When that happens," says Moore, "you want your customer data to travel with your customer, no matter where they go within your organization..."

Optimizing CX

A recent study by Customer Contact Week confirms Moore's point:

    • 54% of organizations feel that all contact channels and engagement functions should be aligned

    • Nearly 47% of organizations say they plan to expand their digital capabilities

    • 39% prioritize improving customer journey mapping and orchestration

The problem with traditional approaches to multi-channel customer experience via voice, Web, SMS text, social media, whatever is that they are limited by a fractured view of the customer journey which provides little or no context to optimize CX.

Omni-channel is the opposite of that. It provides a unified, 360-degree view of the customer journey no matter how, when or where customers interact with your brand. Here's why that matters:

Research reveals companies that take an omni-channel approach to customer engagement retain an eye-popping89% of customers, compared to just 33% for companies that don't.

The story of Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) highlights the business value of omni-channel and unified CX.

UnionBank is one of the largest banks in the Philippines. With a modern low-code platform, officials were able to launch the bank's first fully digital branch called The ARK. There are no tellers in the ARK. You are greeted by highly trained staff called Ambassadors. They hand you an iPad with all your accounts in one place, so you can transact from anywhere within The ARK. With straight through processing, requests are submitted and automatically routed to the right place. No need to wait in a queue. You get an email receipt or SMS text when you leave.

As a result, transaction times have been reduced from an average of 1 hour to only 15 minutes.

Anticipating Customer Expectations

What it all comes down to is this: Every day you spend without omni-channel visibility into customer interactions is another day you put customer engagement at risk.

    • 89% of consumers say they have switched brands after a poor experience

    • 82% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company following a bad customer experience

    • 86% of consumers are willing to pay up to 25% or more for better service

The good news is that technology will play a major role in improving CX metricsin 2019 and beyond. The phenomenal evolution of artificial intelligence and machine learning, for example, will elevate CX in everything from language translation to making more precise predictions about what your customers will purchase in the future.

"Prediction machines (AI) require data to work," says AI thought leader Avi Goldfarb. "The more data you have, the better predictions you will be able to make. And so, companies and industries that deal in large amounts of data will benefit most from the AI trend," says Goldfarb.

"Better predictions should lead to much better customer experiences in all sorts of ways," says Goldfarb, "from machine translation that we can better understand people, to better predictions about what I'm going to purchase so that I get what I want as a consumer."

Goldfarb says that in the future, the most successful organizations will do a better job of identifying new types of customer data and creating the infrastructure to leverage them.

Learn more:

Are You Moving the Needle? (Video)

How to Drive Business Impact with Next Gen Contact Centers (eBook)

The Forrester Wave: Cloud-Based Dynamic Case Management, Q1 2018

Your Next Generation Contact Center (Schedule a Demo)