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In this last article of our top customer experience (CX) trends and best practices for 2018, we’ll finish our observation of the processes that CX leaders plan to focus on to achieve their goals. The processes highlighted in our previous article were: customer journey mapping and automation. Let’s now take a look at two other processes CX leaders have set their eyes on: rediscovering the fundamentals of CX programs, and augmented intelligence.

Rediscovering the fundamentals of CX programs

While customer experience is a top priority for almost all firms, many companies don’t know where to get started. Companies across almost all industries seek answers for:

  • Who must be responsible for overseeing the CX program?
  • How to get organizational buy-in from all stakeholders?
  • Which performance measures should be used to gauge success?

The fact that so many companies are looking for answers to the above questions is encouraging. It means that we’re now past the days where CX programs were treated as pilot programs or managed as ad-hoc activities.

For companies wondering who should take the lead on CX programs, the answer is often it depends. Senior leaders across most firms are measured on various goals, and every employee from entry-level associates to the CEO have a direct impact on customer experiences. Therefore, the simple answer to CX program ownership is ‘CX is everyone’s responsibility.’ However, to truly succeed, CX must start at the top, where the CEO communicates the importance of the CX program on company success and works with others to weave CX into the organizational DNA.

For employees to truly buy in to CX programs and incorporate them into their activities, firms must follow a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. The proverbial ‘carrot’ is the department heads educating their teams about how better managing customer experiences helps each employee become more successful in their jobs. The ‘stick’ is incorporating CX performance measures such as customer satisfaction, customer renewal rates, and positive social media mentions as metrics by which to measure employee performance.

Augmented intelligence

While artificial intelligence (AI) is top-of-mind for many CX practitioners, the current capabilities of AI are simply not suited to handle all types of customer interactions. For example, a healthcare patient might ask an insurance firm to rectify an erroneous bill that includes a service not rendered by the healthcare provider. This will require the insurance firm to find the right department in the hospital, verify the claim, and update the account data. AI systems today are not sophisticated enough to handle these communications independently. This is where augmented intelligence comes in.

Augmented intelligence refers to incorporating elements of machine learning and AI to help humans do their jobs better. In the example above, the insurance firm would use machine learning to guide the contact center agent with the proper contact information in the hospital to verify the patient claim. This guidance would be based on analyses of previous interactions with the same hospital for the same issue. In turn, this eliminates the agent having to navigate different contacts in the hospital to verify the patient claim, or having to spend time communicating with other agents to acquire the right contact information. As a result, the agent can get answers much faster, resulting in decreased average handle time and reduced customer effort.

Using AI to manage all customer conversations is a very big leap. However, using elements of AI and machine learning to augment contact center agent activities enables firms to quickly gain efficiency by improving employee productivity, increasing business agility, and being overall more responsive to customer requests. We anticipate firms will increasingly focus on augmenting their use of AI and machine learning with activities managed by humans over the next two to three years, and to gradually incorporate cognitive technologies into their activities.

We hope you found this series of CX trends helpful in cutting through the hype and learning what works for your peers to adapt your 2018 strategy to better compete. To continue exploring the latest Best-in-Class practices, we recommend following our CX research.

Omer Minkara is VP & Principal Analyst at Aberdeen

Follow: @omerminkara

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