The fact that silos are the enemy of business success is nothing new. That they happen anyway is one of the biggest business challenges a leader must navigate.
At Blue Ocean, we have long held the position that the customer experience and the employee experience are inextricably linked. We’ve said it so often it’s become cliché, but we stand by the concept that happy employees make for happy customers, and in outsourcing, happy customers make happy clients. As technology evolves and the customer care function becomes ever more sophisticated, these twin concepts have now become part of a larger notion: Total Experience (TX).
TX strategy is the ultimate integration of customer experience (CX), employee experience (EX), the multi experience (MX), and user experience (UX). None of these areas can successfully exist as silos in a thriving organization. The highest performing companies will ensure these disciplines coexist, transforming their contact centers (and much of their business) to maximize their business outcomes.
Read on for more insight into the total experience strategy.
The customer experience is one of the elements we are most passionate about here at Blue Ocean. When your customer first interacts with our customer care team, we want them to fall in love with your brand or remember why they loved your brand in the first place. We want to deliver an experience that makes them feel heard, deliver the resolution they need, and inspire long-term brand loyalty. (If you follow us, you’ve heard it before: excellence in customer care is founded on easy access to a fast, accurate resolution in the channel of your choice, in the language of your choice, at the time of your choosing.)
Delivering outstanding CX requires a comprehensive understanding of the unique customer journey, elevating each interaction by leveraging key contact center technologies, hiring emotionally intelligent agents, and providing brand-driven training for every new hire.
Just as we’re committed to providing a customer experience that goes beyond transactional, we believe that the employer-employee relationship should be more than transactional, too. Their employment could just be another job, or it could be a valuable, fulfilling stepping stone in their career. Their workplace should be a work environment where they feel valued, and where they can recognize the impact of their work. (Our employer brand promise is summed up in this mantra: Working at Blue Ocean will be time well spent.)
When employees feel valued and supported by their employer, they can feel empowered to make better decisions on behalf of the customers they’re interacting with. They’re also better positioned to empathetically connect with the customer, responding more successfully to subtle emotional cues as they work toward resolution. And when customers express their gratitude for this level of service, agents can feel good about the impact they’re making. The result is strong employee engagement, which contributes directly to employee retention and, often, to productivity.
In today’s contact center, the tools we use to connect with customers are more customer-facing than ever before. From chat features to self-serve and everything in between, the digital interface is tremendously important in determining how intuitively a customer can navigate these tools. If information, and consequently a resolution, is more effortless to access—and especially if it’s also engaging —the more satisfied the customer.
Importantly, the same rings true for the employee who’s using the same tools on the other side of the equation. If they’re faced with confusing customer management systems, clunky chat tools, and counterintuitive interfaces, their daily struggle will negatively impact the employee experience.
Ultimately, design best practices must align with user needs as well as your business objectives. The resulting experience should reflect the brand. Excellent UX inspires greater adoption of channels such as self-service portals, which, when done well, in turn, reduces the volume of contacts to channels that require greater resources and cost.
Our basic advice here is to reduce any barriers between your UX design team and your contact center team. Your contact center team, including your agents, know as well as anyone where the pain points are for your users. Bringing them into the feedback loop has proven valuable to our clients time and time again. And for bonus points: bring your UX team into the contact center experience by having them seat-ride with agents to understand that 360-degree view and let your UX team help improve the employee experience from the back end.
The multi experience is the next step in the evolution of the omnichannel experience. As the number of channels a customer can use to interact with an agent has increased, the degree to which a customer is forced to “channel hop” has also increased. The multi experience speaks to a more integrated approach, ensuring that key insight and data isn’t lost from one channel to the next.
If, for example, a customer starts a chat and then decides to call or email for more support, the customer expects the history and data from those interactions to be easily accessible as the journey progresses. As touchpoints continue to diversify with the evolution or emergence of new tools, a great multi experience ensures that the journey is seamless, for both customers and employees.
This element is increasingly important as the pace of technology continues to skyrocket. Channel hopping wasn’t as much of a concern when it was just between phone and email. Today, we’re also looking at chat, text, social media, and mobile apps—while on the horizon is tech such as augmented/virtual reality and sophisticated wearable devices. This also means that part of the discussion about the multi experience is the nature of the touchpoints themselves—do they require voice, gestures, touch, or chat? As our industry evolves, the expectation in a multi-experience landscape is that customers and agents will be able to pivot easily from platform to platform, in a way that is intuitive to each unique customer segment. This is a key criteria for your integrated customer experience design team to consider as you move forward.
If any one of these elements is siloed, it negatively impacts the total experience. When these elements are tightly aligned, the company’s brand and values will manifest at every touchpoint and for everyone involved; these elements will work together to delight the customer, which is also a win for the employee and the business itself. The company’s commitment to the total experience will be evident, naturally resulting in increased customer loyalty and employee engagement. This is how you create brand advocates and reduce customer churn and employee turnover.
But bringing it all together requires a herculean effort. It takes deep cross-functional collaboration between multiple departments—technology, marketing, contact center, HR, and more. Every leader must have a cohesive understanding of the company’s brand identity and core values, and then work together to align every function with the overarching strategic direction.
Disney might be the ultimate example of a tightly woven total experience. Using both wearables and a mobile app (as well as the more traditional channels, including website, phone, social, chat, and text), park visitors are given a fast and frictionless way to interact with all staff members—from cast members to hotel and restaurant hosts to photographers and more—in countless different scenarios. The experience is highly personalized and gives customers a greater amount of control to manage their own experience. In short, they have completely de-siloed every major function in order to craft a truly immersive and, well, magical experience for every single customer.
In this example, we see that what is true for the contact center is also true for every other business function. Suddenly we are all on the same team. The total experience is a concept that unifies an organization in its pursuit of business growth and success. We (the leaders, the customer care agents, the developers, the marketers, the HR folks) all want to delight our customers so we can keep thriving and growing.
At Blue Ocean, our corner of the universe is customer care—but we also care deeply about how your entire organization functions to achieve true success. And if you’re looking for a new contact center partner, we’d love to chat.