Published: June 14, 2022 | Comments
This article first appeared in nojitter, a partner publication.
The stakes are high when it comes to improving customer experience (CX), and we’ve seen more evidence lately that IT and technology are more critical to CX success than ever. We heard about how critical IT has become to enterprise CX strategy in our General Session at Enterprise Connect in March on the topic, “Who Should be Making Contact Center Decisions in 2022? IT? Customer Service? Marketing?” The session’s moderator, Sheila McGee-Smith, proposed this focus for our highest-profile contact center session last fall, and it proved a far-sighted suggestion.
McGee-Smith opened the session by asking each panelist to describe a specific customer example that illustrated their view of where contact center decision-making is centered nowadays. Andy Dignan, executive VP of service delivery and AI solutions at Five9, discussed an insurance carrier based in Europe with a 5,000-seat contact center.
Early on, IT was clearly leading the process around the request for proposal (RFP), with input from each of the lines of business, Dignan said. However, once implementation was underway — which took place after the pandemic had begun — the emphasis began to shift. The company’s chief marketing officer (CMO) pitched their new vision for the customer, which focused heavily on a digital perspective. As the company realigned its plan to align with the CMO’s vision, it ended up enabling more technologies from its contact center platform to better serve the customer.
“It just shows you the power that marketing has right now in terms of really trying to personalize that customer journey,” Dignan said. “It was IT in the front, but I think CMOs are taking a heavier hand in the opportunities.”
Yasser El-Haggan, SVP, presales and field CTO at Genesys, gave an example where the decision went even higher. A North America-based financial institution with 25,000 agents and 71 million customers was already on the path to reimagine the customer experience pre-COVID, and the pandemic forced them to accelerate their digital transformation.
“What they found out is that the contact center was really critical in the digital-first [customer] experience--so much so that the decision-making process was actually a board-level, CEO-level decision,” El-Haggan said. “It just highlights how important the overall, end-to-end customer experience is.”
Ryan Nichols, SVP and GM of contact centers at Salesforce/Slack agreed. “When it really matters, the contact center decision has to be made by the CEO,” he said.
Nichols’ example was Sonos, maker of speakers and sound systems. When the pandemic hit, the brick-and-mortar stores that sold Sonos products shut down. “They had to do a complete inversion of the business model, to direct-to-consumer,” Nichols explained. That meant the company had to reinvent the customer experience — a shift so significant that it could only be driven by the CEO.
The attention to contact centers from the highest levels of the enterprise will require IT/communications professionals to be able to articulate how their technology choices enhance the customer experience and contribute to the overall digital transformation strategy. It’s an opportunity as well as a challenge, and it’ll be fascinating to see where this all goes over the next 12 months.