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Emerging into CX leadership—steps to take now to avoid costly fixes down the road

Still figuring out how and where to use AI in support? Struggling to turn customer data into meaningful change? Are agent training programs less than ideal? You may be a CX Emerger.

By Heather Hudson, Contributing Writer

Last updated November 3, 2022

How mature is your CX organization?

As part of Zendesk’s survey of almost 5,000 customer service decision-makers around the world, we asked questions about the attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes regarding their people, processes, and data/technology. This led to our 2022 CX Accelerator report and maturity scale model, which allows you to assess where your business ranks.

CX teams that earned 7 points, based on a set of 7 CX maturity characteristics, are defined as CX Champions, the most mature of all CX teams. Those that claimed 6 points were deemed Risers, those that scored 4 to 5 points were Emergers, and the rest are Starters.

Of course, the names are less important than the challenges you resonate with and the hurdles your team is looking to overcome. Here we’re focusing on the largest group across the spectrum: Emergers. These are service organizations making great strides and at an early enough stage to still put the right tools and processes in place to avoid costly fixes later.

You’re on your way

At this stage, you’ve been running for a while. You have analytics in place, have consolidated support instances, and may be using custom apps to augment your support and overall customer experience.

Even so, Emergers typically report that:

  • Agents are overwhelmed and don’t always have what they need to deliver personal, conversational service

  • Although you’re using bots and human agents to communicate with customers, you’re still finding the balance where AI or automation can improve or detract from CX

  • Turning customer data into meaningful change is not there yet—only 27 percent of our respondents reported being “very good” at this

  • There’s not always a clear line of sight to performance metrics and the customer journey–just 36 percent said they have real-time visibility

  • Training programs need work and tracks to upskill agents are often “less than ideal”

  • It’s tough to uncover new sales opportunities from service engagements

  • Sales and service data isn’t integrated enough to set shared goals

If this feels familiar, you’re in good company—and there is good news. With performance faltering at the top of the maturity scale, Emergers are well-positioned to make gains and grab market share by offering differentiated customer experiences. Now’s the time to bring in leaders who seek to bring together disparate systems across the business and get a single view of the customer journey.

Enhance your organization’s customer experience

The challenge going forward is to optimize for cost as you take your team to the next stage—and beyond. Here we’ve pulled out some clear action items to raise your service excellence, invest in your agents, and tighten your business operations.

Support your customers:

  • Boost efficiency with automation: Reduce agent workload and deliver better customer experiences by offering self-service channels to customers or deploying bots to pitch in. You can also apply intelligent ticket routing or automated email to reduce redundant tasks and management costs.
  • Use data to optimize workflows: Do a regular audit of help center content and frequent customer questions to identify and fill in gaps in your workflows.
  • Take context into consideration: Look at a customer’s interaction history to deliver a more personalized and relevant experience.

Support your agents:

  • Provide proactive service: Use AI-powered suggestions to serve customers timely and relevant articles from your knowledge base and provide purchase recommendations.
  • Make customer feedback actionable: Bring in a unified agent workspace so teams can deliver relevant, personal conversations on any channel—no more toggling between screens to understand exactly who a customer is and how best to serve them.
  • Evaluate your investments: Invest in a support platform that can connect to your existing tech stack so you can extend the customizability of your support team without spreading resources too thin.

Build in operational efficiencies:

  • Establish a team of leaders: Put together the quantitative research and qualitative analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a CX organization. Create a tiger team of leaders to identify internal processes and technology capabilities needed to fill in the gaps.
  • Upskill agents: Consider advancement opportunities that align with tiered training plans. Start with basic technical skills, including product knowledge, and then advance agent knowledge at regular intervals and consider how agents perform across different channels.
  • Benchmark performance: Track performance and set goals around performance metrics, such as first response time, average handle time, and customer satisfaction, and business impact metrics like Net Promoter Score® and Customer Effort Score.

With any service organization, there’s always room to improve. Emergers are in a good position because there are many options for improving both the customer and agent experience, and for testing what works and making adjustments as you build out a long-term plan.

As orgs move up the maturity scale, the margin for error narrows as customer expectations increase. At this stage, leaders can achieve many wins: improving customer lifetime value, reducing operational costs, enabling meaningful automation that eliminates redundancies, and really beginning to employ best practices.

If you want to reach new heights, see how CX Risers are raising the bar.

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