2021

How CXaaS Can Drive Meaningful Customer Experience Outcomes (And How To Choose The Right Partner)

It’s long been acknowledged that the deciding factor for consumers when they’re choosing between products and brands is often the customer experience. Since this is such a longstanding idea, why is it imperative that organizations take a closer look at and reimagine their CX strategies now? We all know the impact of a bad experience and the ripple effects it can have on a brand and consumers. It is also common knowledge that even the power of a strong “brand” no longer assures customer loyalty.

In addition to the existing complexities of customer acquisition and loyalty in an ever-changing landscape of innovation and disruption, we now live in an environment where the power of choice is a push of a button or a simple request to Alexa away. The ongoing pandemic has driven significant changes in consumer consumption patterns. The traditional touchpoints for consumption of goods and services and for customer support have dramatically shifted.

I believe mapping the customer’s journey from the first touchpoint to the final one, understanding their intent (both stated and unstated), and predicting actions or gleaning insights from the huge unstructured data sets we use to improve decisions have all become more important than ever.

The Trouble With Technology-Based Solutions

The cloud-based contact center as a service (CCaaS) model has enabled enterprises to augment contact center technology with the ability to scale on demand while maintaining relatively lower infrastructure costs. Cloud helped pave the way for increasingly automated and cognitive contact centers by bringing in further technological advancements, reducing human interactions and increasing efficiency. These technologies analyze huge chunks of customer data that often lie dormant in contact centers.

A 2019 McKinsey article emphasized that companies have used advanced analytics in contact centers to reduce average handle times by up to 40%, increase self-service containment rates by 5% to 20%, cut employee costs by up to $5 million and boost the conversion rate on service-to-sales calls by nearly 50%.

Savvy CX leaders today know that technology is only part of the solution. The disruption of the last two years has shown us that there are several components we should be considering that fall outside of the traditional technology-focused approach, including:

• A long-term strategy and vision for CX that drives business outcomes.

• Ownership of the full spectrum of CX and EX.

• A unified customer persona and journey across their digital footprint.

• Scalability of the entire CX ecosystem.

The reliance on multiple partners for technology and services can also result in discord rather than harmony, which can lead to disjointed CX and EX, higher costs and poor levels of customer and employee satisfaction.

An Integrated Approach

True CX transformation is so much more than just technology transformation. While technology remains a crucial lever, organizations should also include integrated strategy, employee amplification and process optimization in their transformation plans.

Enter customer-experience-as-a-service, or CXaaS, which enables customer-centric businesses to move away from their contact center platforms and patchwork of solutions and have a single strategic partner manage their CX environment in true “everything-as-a-service” style. (Full disclosure: My company offers services like these.)

CXaaS is distinct from CCaaS, which typically only provides cloud-based contact centers and related technologies. CXaaS is a cloud-based offering that brings CX strategy, technology innovation and employee expertise together in an end-to-end managed services model. It typically entails consulting, as well as the implementation and management of end-to-end CX and EX operations.

CXaaS can enable process and technology standardization across global CX and EX operations. The model’s goal is to enable data to freely across layers of people, processes and tools so enterprises can get access to insights derived from correlated customer data, product data, customer service data, voice of customer (VoC) data from multiple digital channels, process data and so on. Business leaders can leverage this actionable intelligence to better understand changing customer behaviors, improve product features, forge deeper relationships and map out seamless customer journeys.

Choosing A Partner

CX ecosystems are complex. To truly succeed, enterprises should evaluate CXaaS partners on a myriad of parameters to ensure the success of their CXaaS implementation. For example, enterprises should ask providers:

1. Strategy: How will the partner consult on and align their CX strategy to the organizational strategy to drive business outcomes?

2. People: Does their talent base meet your needs? How can they improve the employee experience through technology?

3. Services: What do their managed services for customer engagement and digital enablement entail?

4. Technology: In what ways will their technology make the enterprise’s CX ecosystem experience more seamless? How does the partner leverage AI, automation and analytics? Will their solutions help reduce technology debt, and if so, how?

5. Outcome ownership: Most importantly, do they offer CXaaS in a consumption-based model? This allows enterprises to pay only for what they use and means the partner owns CX outcomes.

Distinguishing between service providers can often be tricky. The best CXaaS providers are usually willing to create partnerships that go beyond the regular outsourcing and full-time-equivalent-based deal arrangements. For example, they might be open to creating outcome-based contracts or progressive value realization models, where a client sees value as time progresses but makes a relatively smaller investment at the start. To make these partnerships successful, enterprises should ensure that incentives on both sides are aligned and that they’ll share risks with the provider. Traditional outsourcing models tend to be very linear — suppliers provide a service, and buyers pay according to the scope of the project (as measured by the effort the suppliers puts in). These models have now evolved so suppliers get paid not only for effort but also for the outcomes that they drive.

In today’s times, I’ve found that buyers care more about outcomes than effort. CXaaS providers should be able to demonstrate how they structure win-win relationships that provide big upsides on both sides.

Conclusion

Are you aiming to win in the experience economy? Well, customer experience management (CXM) can be stressful, especially if you have a labyrinth of technology and processes to navigate. That’s why it’s important to choose the right strategic partner for your business if you’re looking for a turnkey approach.

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What one year of remote work has taught IT and energy sectors

On March 23, 2020, the Government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, limiting the movement of the nearly 138 crore population of India as a preventive measure against the emerging Covid-19 pandemic in India.

Subsequently, the corporate world scrambled to ensure its business and employees remained safe. The idea gave way to the rolling out of the work from home (WFH) policy across sectors. Following the same, ETHRWorld tried to assess India’s two prominent sectors that are responsible for the nation’s economic bulk on how they have fared in the remote work culture: IT and Energy.

IT making its way

Speaking of the initial challenges faced while managing various HR operations remotely, Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, SVP and Head – HR (Global) & Corporate Quality, CSS Corp, said the uncertainties caused by the pandemic, coupled with isolated working, had been difficult for many employees.

Accepting the change gracefully was the only effective way to move forward and IT service management company CSS Corp was able to transmit this equipoise across the organisation with its CHEER framework.

“Our CHEER framework (Communication, High-lighting accomplishments, Energising teams, Engagement with employees and Recognition of achievements), developed specifically for the Covid times, has been instrumental in driving high employee morale and positivity,” Visvanathan said.

For Chirag Doshi, Head of People, ThoughtWorks India, the initial challenge was figuring out how to make sound hiring decisions bereft of any in-person interactions.

“While remote interviews have been commonplace at ThoughtWorks for a few years already, before the pandemic, we usually ensured at least one in-person interaction for every candidate,” he said.

However, in 2020 the software company adapted to assessing candidates’ culture-fitment during the remote interviews.

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Here’s how CSS Corp reduced hiring cost by 50%

Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp, provides insights into how the company has managed to bring down the cost of hiring by leveraging automation and AI while hiring in huge numbers.

Automating the hiring process and TA process can help a business in several ways. Hiring in large numbers as the business scales and keeping the hiring costs controlled can be difficult when done manually. But the solution to this problem lies in modern-day technology.

CSS Corp cracked this problem and managed to bring down the cost of hiring by leveraging automation and AI while hiring in huge numbers.

“We have doubled our headcount in the past, which means that the number of people we were looking at or the number of resumes we were scanning were even more. So, the question was how do I hire these many people with a limited number of people in my TA teams, without exploding the cost of hiring,” Rahul Joshi, CTO, CSS Corp, said.

The company wanted to solve this problem not just by leveraging AI but by process optimization.

“When you hire a person within an organization, you scan between 80-100 resumes, select a few and present them to the hiring team. For the final one, you have multiple rounds of interviews. And someone in the TA team is doing these things manually. If we had to hire and double our headcount manually, it would not have been possible,” he explained.

CSS Corp was not just looking at traditional recruiting but also needed to look at social media and other places from where it could get good candidates. Solving this problem required the company to automate its system and make them learn with time.

“Let’s say A is a potential recruit of CSS Corp. So A will see an ad on his LinkedIn page. On clicking on it, he will see an automated test questionnaire. Based on A’s responses in the questionnaire, we will identify if he is the right fit or not. If he clears that automated test, he will be notified to go and attend the next round of interviews.” he said

“If A is being hired for a voice process, he will have to go through a voice test. The system has been automated to say if A will qualify for B2 in English and so forth. Similar benchmarking has been done with automation and AI. And the final interview will be done face to face,” he added.

Since the system can be played to and some tricks can be used to qualify the initial automated rounds, the company has set up another mechanism to avoid that.

“We do the automated tests and score matching because we know the system can be played to. You might say that you are a full-stack developer but in the test, you might have scored 10 on 100. So, the system knows now that you can not be matched to the profile. We have these kinds of checks and balances that are kept in mind when we design the systems so we don’t have biases,” he explained.

The majority of hiring in CSS Corp happens through resume scanning which flows in the system through various sources. To go through those resumes, the company has developed a cognitive search integrated with the internal system that identifies the right candidate. CSS Corp calls this system TAMS (Talent Acquisition Management System).

TAMS identifies the right resumes which flow into the systems and matches them to the resource requirements and then presents the top 10 resumes that the team can look at and call for interviews. This is being done with Microsoft Cognitive search and integration with other backend systems.

“The cost of hiring post covid has become half compared to pre-covid. I don’t need as many people to scan and go through resumes. Based on the information provided, and the intelligent learning of the system, the efficiency has increased so we have the ability to scale this up over the period of time,” he concluded.

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Digital business acceleration is imperative in a competitive world

Covid-19 fundamentally changed the way organizations work. Faced with disruption, organizations rapidly adopted new business models to meet evolving customer aspirations.

It was an enforced change imposed by an unforeseen pandemic, but that change is here to stay. Recovery may be on the horizon, but organizations have realized through this experience that they need to build even more resilient businesses than ever before to cope with future stressors.

The pandemic is said to have accelerated digital business transformation by months and, in some cases, even years. Consider some of the runaway winners in this pandemic: Amazon, Zoom, Slack, Netflix, or Apple. These were all organizations that adapted digital early and were able to capitalize enough to create new customer experience benchmarks.

Learning from these early adopters of digital transformation, we can identify what I call the three layers of digital business transformation,

  • Data-powered product innovation
  • Using artificial intelligence for efficient IT and infrastructure operations or AIOps to drive that innovation
  • Maximized front-end customer experiences and revenue generation through streamlined RevOps

Real process efficiency and true digital business acceleration will be realized only when these three principles of innovation, AIOps, and RevOps, are connected and operating cohesively with a common thread of data.

To achieve their business goals, they have to strategize detailed roadmaps on integrating the different layers of product, AIOps, and RevOps. The efficiency, output, resilience, and eventual sustainability of these three layers will be the key to the long-term success of digital business products.

Creating a data-based ecosystem for constant product innovation

We have heard this phrase a lot in 2021 “product-led innovation and growth”, if you look closely, you will see that an organization’s success in this post-Covid era depends on the maturity of its approach to product innovation.

Mature organizations view their products and offerings as long-term digital assets that evolve across a lifecycle curve and build a culture of pragmatic data-driven innovation.

New product build, new features, and functionality are incremental steps on the overall innovation journey. You need to combine these steps with breakthrough innovation and create new opportunities for product-led growth and new product concepts.

Break your data and information siloes. Your organization’s infrastructure and the customer-facing layers are hiding troves of data on product usage, availability, and experience. You need to set up systems to continuously mine this data and plug these insights into a continuous product innovation cycle.

Combining these with the right team and offering your talent the environment to excel is critical. Let your data empower you to think of how your product can deliver long-term growth and how your customers can use it in optimal ways for maximum experience.

Enabling infrastructure resiliency through cloud transformation

Digital enablers such as AI, ML, and cloud were the keys to creating accelerated customer-driven digital businesses during this pandemic. Cloud has emerged as the core foundation to acquiring and building AI capabilities. AIOps promises to take on some of the most challenging IT issues structurally.

But the first step is to make a meaningful assessment of existing IT infrastructure, including legacy systems, and then use AIOps strategically. You will need to overhaul or modify your legacy systems to leverage AI/ML Ops.

Think beyond traditional IT service management restricted to the back-office, and embrace enterprise service management that brings front-office data and processes to the table. Historically, it has been a challenge for organizations to create a connected ecosystem of front-end and back-end technologies.

But imagine the experience of an online buyer when the payment gateway doesn’t work because the back-end is not robust. Today, when front-end digital touchpoints have become critical for business, you must design infrastructure for that goal and make the back-end ubiquitous.

Most successful digital leaders are swiftly moving toward invisible infrastructure. And AIOps is the stepping stone towards NoOps. Also, integrating AI/ML with DevOps and DevSecOps is a crucial step in this transformation, ensuring more efficient workflow and alleviating some of DevOps’ operational complexities.

Converging all the data points with RevOps

RevOps has become more data-driven than ever before – more complex as customers have evolved. The service economy and the experience economy are passé. Today, we are in the attention economy. To win your customers’ attention at the right moment with the right message, you need data and speed to use that data.

The growing importance of the cloud that I have spoken about earlier, even in AIOps, enables edge computing and instant access to insights. Your systems, machines(bots), and people can use these insights to create a seamless customer experience across their product journey.

The pandemic has changed the speed and scale of digital business acceleration forever. It has shown how technology needs to meet data with revenue in one connected ecosystem. It is the only way to future-proof your organization as it meets tomorrow’s new digital challenges.

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