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Early on the path to CX success? Here is why the up-front investment is worth it

Customer service agents overwhelmed? No visibility into real-time data? Weak personalised service? You may be a CX Starter.

By Heather Hudson, Contributing Writer

Last updated January 5, 2023

CX organisations come in all shapes, sizes and configurations. And there are challenges and opportunities in every single one of them.

Zendesk surveyed nearly 5,000 customer service decision-makers around the world to find how their organisation’s adoption of customer service and support best practice improves its ability to deliver superior customer experiences (CX).

The resulting 2022 CX Accelerator report uncovers fascinating insights about real-life pain points and clear calls to action. We also developed a CX maturity scale model, which allows you to assess where your business ranks– the scale classifies organizations as a Starter, Emerger, Riser, or CX Champion based on a set of seven characteristics.

Here we are focusing on Starters – organisations laying a solid foundation to meet primary KPIs, but most build toward growth and scale for the future.

On the right path toward CX maturity

It is not easy building a CX organization from scratch. The businesses we surveyed that land in the Starter category are doing their level best, but they face a number of challenges that hold them back.

Starters typically report that:

  • Agents are overwhelmed

  • It is difficult to find a good balance between bots and live agents

  • They measure success, but without real-time visibility into performance metrics

  • They do not have the time or resources to effectively turn customer data into meaningful change

  • It is a struggle to provide personalised customer service

  • Agent training programs need work (or are non-existent)

  • Sales staff are unable to uncover new opportunities from service engagements

  • Sales and support data are not integrated and there are no shared goals

The challenges may be many, but we found that Starters are moving up the CX maturity ladder faster than any other group. And as the gap between top performers narrows, even early-stage teams have the opportunity to catch up, grab market share and leverage customer service to build a more resilient business.

Take your service to the next level

When we zoom out, organisations grappling with these challenges are typically viewed as a cost centre within the larger company. Teams are operating in silos, with different departments using different systems to track requests or collect customer data. Often, service organisations may be in the beginning stages of setting service level agreements (SLAs), workflows and automation, and integrating core business applications.

The challenge going forward is both to scale your support and begin to prove the value of service to your company’s bottom line. We have pulled out some clear action items to raise your service excellence, invest in your agents, and fine-tune your business operations.

Support your customers:

  • Streamline your channels: Lean into digital channels that can reduce operational costs and empower customers to find answers themselves with self-service options. Turn a list of FAQs into a rich library of content by building (or building out) a help centre.
  • Bring in automation: Customers love 24/7 service. You can provide that at a lower cost with automated self-service. Even better, it can collect important customer data, map and pre-populate ticket information and provide details to agents for context when needed.
  • Deploy bots as a “digital concierge”: Consider no-code bots to help with simpler, repetitive inquiries that eat away at agent productivity. By collecting information before escalating to a live human, bots can either deflect the ticket or make sure that the customer gets where they need to be for a fast and efficient response.

Support your agents:

  • Give them the context they need: A unified agent workspace provides access to complete customer profiles across channels and gives agents the context they need to do their jobs well, without switching between tabs or apps. This leads to higher productivity, better first-contact resolution rates and improved business outcomes.
  • Make time for agents to get personal: When you automate manual tasks, agents can focus on what really matters, offering personalised support across all channels. Automation also offers greater visibility over your customer data so you can build deeper, long-term relationships with customers.
  • Plan for future growth: Can your support platform integrate with your existing systems through APIs, webhooks, or application frameworks? It should. This will allow you to customise your support team as you grow without spreading resources too thin.

Build in operational efficiencies:

  • Bring leaders on board: Show leadership the value and impact of a world-class CX organisation by leaning on out-of-the-box and customisable real-time reporting. Establish a core team and assign a senior leader focused on weaving customer service into the company’s larger business objectives. Provide regular profit and loss statements that capture revenue generated by agents so the business impacts of customer service are more tangible.
  • Upskill agents: Provide teams with skills-based training to improve performance. Plot out advancement opportunities that align with tiered training plans to keep agents engaged.
  • Improve performance visibility: Explore data-driven routing through open APIs to retrieve business intelligence, CRM data and other backend systems to make smarter strategic decisions.

Making smart decisions early on can keep you from making costly mistakes later. With the right tools and processes in place, you can avoid having to pay later to integrate systems that do not seamlessly connect. It can be exciting to build a mix of differentiated experiences across the support channels you offer, but the end goal is to meet customer expectations, make life easier for your agents and establish a customer feedback loop.

Ready to move up the maturity scale? See what it takes to join the CX Emergers club.