The outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020 precipitated numerous changes for businesses. Offices and stores closed, employees transitioned to remote work, and organizations found new ways of serving customers and citizens. In a time of disrupted commercial activity, customer experience became a key differentiator. As businesses prepare for a post-COVID world, the importance of the customer experience is here to stay. In fact, we interviewed 1,700 business and technology executives in 2021 as part of our CGI Voice of Our Clients program, and they cited improving the customer experience as their top business priority.
CGI recently worked with a top U.S. bank to transform its customer support technologies and practices for its business-to-business (B2B) operations. This work was in line with the bank’s vision and ongoing efforts to modernize and transform its contact center, with the goal of maintaining excellent service. CGI’s human-centered design approach, contact center expertise, and intelligent automation capabilities enabled us to provide a best in class solution which optimized agent and customer experiences.
A joint team of CGI call center leaders, automation experts, and human-centered designers identified essential technologies and a path forward for the bank. Our strategy was guided by uncovering the experiences of customers, but also by applying the same “experience” mindset to internal stakeholders like contact center agents and support staff. By focusing on the human experience of technology, automation and the support journey, CGI helped the bank identify the different experiences required to satisfy each end user, along with the essential enabling technologies.
Like this bank, leading organizations are seeking to understand the needs of different customers and stakeholders, and tailor their customer-facing operations accordingly.
How do organizations new to customer-centered operations navigate this? Here are five key recommendations:
Pursue services as a differentiator (even if products are your most competitive offering right now)
The 20th century global economy focused on efficiencies, costs, scale and delivery of products. However, technology, connectivity, and widespread information in the 21st century caused products to converge. As a result, services, instead of products, have become the dominant competitive differentiator. In the service economy, large companies are no longer the ones who monopolize competitive advantage; in fact, small and agile companies are excelling at offering bespoke services to meet customer needs. The change from a product-based to a service-based economy, and the digital technologies driving this transition, have elevated the importance of the customer experience.
Pay attention to the experiences of customers across their entire journey
Today, winning in the service economy requires focus on the nuance of human needs. In fact, many of today’s start-ups are pursuing (and excelling at) niche business opportunities based on underserved needs. If you’re not yet paying attention to customer experience trends, know that the competition is, and this attention will drive competitive advantage.
Designing services based on customer journeys enables every end user to receive the right experience at the right time. This yields three significant benefits: 1) customer wallet share increases, 2) the customer remains loyal to the organization, and 3) the customer becomes a brand advocate influencing the opinions and purchasing decisions of other customers. This also helps organizations establish competitive advantage over time. By listening, the organization continues to acquire data and insights that enable it to grow and evolve its services alongside customer needs.
Pursue the right technology for smart customer operations
Today, few technological barriers exist to improving the customer experience. Omni-channel platforms, cloud computing, robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, chat bots and other solutions are widely available, enabling any organization to excel at customer operations while reducing costs and addressing increasing volumes and the need for resilience. Any organization can pursue the right digital technology; it’s just a matter of identifying which technology is best, and how it should be deployed.
Pursue the right path for your business
Listening to the experience of internal stakeholders is key. In determining which technology and strategic roadmap is best, you need to consider the unique needs of your organization. Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of available customer experience strategies and solutions. Make sure you make decisions based on your unique needs—not one-size-fits-all approaches or what you see from marquee brands
Partner for success
Effective transformation of the customer experience requires a business and technology partner with in-depth experience and industry expertise, along with proven capabilities. Further, collaboration is key. Look for a partner that will listen, work closely with your team, help you to explore and test the best path, and assist you with the implementation.
At CGI, we deliver business process services that help organizations across the globe create powerful customer experiences, improve customer satisfaction, ensure greater brand loyalty and achieve desired business outcomes. We do this through delivering smart operations, which is a blend of robust omni-channel platforms, human and machine delivery, and innovative technology, including robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.