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Technology is Great, until It Isn’t

We’re in love with technology until it fails usNew technologies like AI and CHATGPT combined with established ones like,  CRM,  IVR, WFM, CHAT, and TEXT among many others, help manage contact centers and create better customer experiencesAt least, that’s what we hope technology will do for us and our customersToo often, even the finest of technological advancements can fail and cause undo anxiety for our organizations and our customersDo you have the systems in place to monitor these failuresDo you have the processes in place to quickly recover from a failure when it happens? Before we go any further, let’s ensure we are at the right starting point. 

Technology doesn’t drive strategyStrategy drives what technology we invest in and implement to satisfy customersConsequently, organizations need a well-defined, clear, and specific customer experience strategy that is aligned to their business strategyLikewise, the technology strategy also needs to be aligned to the organization’s business strategyOnce this alignment is established, then both the customer experience and the technology strategies can work in concert to produce better resultsHaving strong alignment doesn’t prevent failures but it does  ensure that everything you do as an organization – designing products, creating marketing and sales campaigns, delivering services, designing supply chains, and providing great experiences can be linked directly back to your established business strategy.  

Next, with  this strategy in place, you can begin the process of selecting and investing in technology that will deliver the results you’ve identified as important to the customer experienceI’ve heard from more than one leader, “I need to fix my CX, what technology should I buy?” They are asking which came first, the chicken (customer expectations) or the egg (technology)It’s important Technology alone won’t fix your CX, but asking these questions when determining what technologies to employ can help: 

  • Do you have an established CX strategy so you can align your technology to the strategy?
  • Have you communicated this strategy within the organization, so the other two components of people and processes are in alignment to the technology?
  •  What problem are you trying to solve? 
  • What customer expectations have been identified?
  •  How will the technology application address the identified expectations?
  • Do you understand the touchpoints customers have within your organization to help define the tools your employees need to do their jobs
  • What adjacent organizations (sales, supply chain, etc.) might benefit from the investment in your technology?  
  • How much will the technology cost and can you identify and measure specific results that will deliver a return on your investment?  
  • Do you need to integrate existing applications into the new technologyHave you determined how they will work together to create a seamless experience? 
  •  How will you measure your success in using technology to improve your customer’s experience? 

Once you decide to acquire technology to support your customer experience strategy, make certain you consider the impact on employees and processesTechnology is an enabler but it’s not the exclusive solution for all things CXBeing able to identify the behaviors that must change in every department at every level of the organization is imperative to the successful implementation of your strategy and the technology to support it.   It’s easy to get excited about new technologies but debating which came first, the chicken or the egg, is a sure way of turning that excitement into disappointment for your organization and your customersUnderstanding customer expectations first and investing in technology second will create a win-win for your customers and employees!  

Now that you’ve acquired and implemented the technology, the next step is to compare theory to realityYou most likely put together a robust ROI to justify purchasing the technology – now is it performing as expectedIs it delivering the results you had hoped for in your contact centersIs it producing better experiences for your customersIt’s especially important to publicize those results to the organization, specifically employees across all levels and functions to demonstrate that utilizing technology aligned to a business strategy can produce the desired results.  

Technology is monumentally more complex today than it was as little as 20 years ago. As important as monitoring results is monitoring the technology itselfMost organizations have monitoring systems in place to prevent hackers, identify systems that are down or malfunctioning or not performing as expectedI’m suggesting you need to put monitoring in place to qualitatively understand if customers are happy with the technology itself and does it work as plannedIs technology an enabler or an inhibitor to the customer experienceThink about your own experiences with the technology employed by organizations with which you do businessHow many times have you encountered websites that don’t workPhone systems that misroute callersChat encounters that understand little about what you’re asking of themGeneric emails that don’t answer your questions or solve your issues? Endless automated surveys that ask for feedback and do nothing about it? 

It's wrong to expect technology to be working 100% of the timeIt breaks just like any other product or service you may useThe problem isn’t that it’s broken (although it does have to be fixed), the problem is organizations don’t know it’s broken unless a customer tells them there’s an issueFrequently, when I point out a technological failure to a service representative, the response is, “I’ll pass it on to our technology team”.  I appreciate the response but when the same issue keeps happening it’s clear the organization doesn’t have a process for monitoring technology and fixing it quickly, so the customer experience is not negatively impacted.  If organizations are going to ask their customers to utilize the technologies they employ, then they should use those technologies on a daily basis to ensure it is functioning as expected.  Promoting that you have the latest and greatest technology to make it easier to do business with you is wonderful until it failsOne of the few ways I’ve addressed this failure is to constantly use and monitor internally what you provide externally.  

TechnologyYou can’t live with it, and you can’t live without itTechnology is advancing exponentially by the dayTechnology can improve customer experiencesIt can also create nightmare scenarios for employees and customersMaking sure technology supports your customer experience ensures the long-term satisfaction and retention of your customers.