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Research Report: Successful Digital Customer Experience Requires Data and Continuous Improvement

by DeJon Gaines, Vice President, Information Technology, Conduent - October 1, 2023

Successful Digital Customer Experience Requires Data and Continuous Improvement

Byline: DeJon Gaines, Vice President of Information Technology at Conduent

Key points: 

  • Customers have high expectations for customer experience, and for companies that get it right, there are rewards.
  • There is no such thing as “one and done” in CX. Every process implementation and customer experience road mapping is just the latest exercise to provide customer experience that meets a customer’s expectation. 
  • Whether you are designing a new process or road mapping customer experience you can’t jump to the finish line (Let’s use AI!) Let the data, analytics and customer insights guide the work and the outcome.

According to recent Conduent research, more than 60% of consumers want brands to create exceptional experiences through consistent, high-quality touchpoints but the path to deliver exceptional CX can be clouded legacy processes which are not frequently reviewed based on new data or customer insights, outdated assumptions or by desire to apply the new technologies without a understanding how they’ll help companies achieve greater success with customers.

To successfully deliver consistent high-quality experiences for customers, companies need to create a digital road map and then refine and revise the road map. The goal is to use digital tools to resolve customer inquiries using the fastest and most cost-effective solution. Leveraging digital tools can speed resolution time and save dollars on agents but understanding call drivers and consumer behavior is critical to selecting digital tools to use in the journey.

Companies’ outdated assumptions often fall into one of three areas:

  1. Data to outcome is the process. Companies gather their client and contact services data and expect a digital road map to be revealed. They skip over developing a deep understanding of the customer experience and the behaviors and processes that create the journey.

  2. Road mapping is a one and done activity. However, identifying, selecting and implementing digital tools for CX is a continuous improvement project. Companies need to continue to learn from the data and refine the road map to help meet end-user’s needs. Despite targeted and effective digital tools, some segment of customers will inevitably request an agent. The rigor of re-evaluating the roadmap and the tools being used enables a company to understand what the customer needs that genuinely necessitate an agent and what might be more effectively managed through technology.  With a continuous improvement approach – revisiting the digital road map on a set schedule and evaluating digital channels usage – the platform and processes can be revised for better containment of customer issues and complaints.

  3. The myth that at some future time, agents won’t be needed in the CX solutions. Mostly likely, for every company some agents will need to support customers. An all-digital CX approach isn’t likely because human nature will always drive a significant portion of your customer base to another human.  For example, monthly government benefits distribution programs have digital tools in place such as voice authentication, balance and last five transactions provided. However, some end users continue opt to talk to an agent. Implementing digital tools greatly reduced the call volume and as part of the continuous improvement review, tools are regularly revised to further increase containment but that still is a compliment to agents because some callers continue to ask for an agent.

Using data to shape digital tools

Conduent worked with a leading health insurance company to transform the customer journey in order increase member satisfaction. There were friction points in the CX experience driving member effort and poor experience. Through an analysis of a member and agent journeys, specific recommendations were designed to optimize interactions and response time. By leveraging a proprietary machine learning algorithm to map 172 unique member journeys for interaction driver, member sentiment and account documentation, an assessment was also completed, and findings were validated with focus group discussions among participants and an agent survey.

The company is currently implementing the recommendations and expects the following results:

  • Improved call routing based on call and plan type
  • Improved readability and functionality of articles
  • An 8-point improvement in Net Promoter Score
  • More than $900,000 in annual cost savings 

CX road mapping best practices

Stellar customer experience is grounded on strong fundamentals, discipline and a mindset of continuous improvement.  Success is enabled by following best practices:

  1. Companies need a disciplined approach to understand the data and select the digital tools that can assist customers. Time needs to be invested to fully understand the customer and what drives their outreach. There is also a balance of investing in a digital tool and the anticipated outcomes. For example, conversational AI may be a more costly solution than using an FAQ tool, but the choice also requires understanding the call drivers and consumer preference. 

  2. Identifying the desired outcomes is essential to starting the customer experience road map creation. For example, a global telecommunications and technology provider wanted to transform their customers’ experiences by improving order processing and sales closure times, while also resolving excessive backlogs across their CX operations. Conduent conducted a deep dive into past call recordings and a machine learning algorithm to get insights like call drivers, sentiment, quiet times, over talk.  The company was able to measure call flow and call compliance for sales and technical support to customers.  By implementing data analytics recommendations to streamline operations they were able to mitigate call backlogs by more than 15%. Robotic Process Automation was deployed to create efficiencies for sales reporting and order processing (speed was increased by more than 80% with 100% accuracy) and consolidated data input across multiple systems resulting in improved average hold times.

  3. Follow trends that can impact the larger environment and customer expectations. While the next disruption to a company’s customer experience road map is unknown, it is certainly on the horizon. Companies need an open mindset, eyes open to emerging technology and trends plus a willingness to talk about the seemingly impossible with partners. Being open to new technology and continuing evaluating the possibilities to identify opportunities in the next phase of the CX road map. 

By establishing a continuous improvement lifecycle, shaped and informed by data, customer intel and feedback, companies can elevate their customer experience and capture the financial benefit of customers, who become loyalists and brand champions.

About DeJon Gaines

DeJon Gaines is Vice President of Information Technology at Conduent helping companies leverage technology to deliver exceptional customer experience. He is part of the Conduent team serving as a strategic advisor and partner to a broad base of Fortune 100 and government clients with industry leading customer experience solutions.

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