In a world of rapidly rising customer expectations, the time to adopt next-gen CX operating models is now.
Most retailers have strong partner ecosystems to deliver CX services. However, there is a growing consensus that CX operating models have not kept pace with the acceleration into digital and omni-channel dimensions. In our connected, ‘on demand’ world, where customers can share their experiences in seconds, the resulting impact (good or bad) can influence everything from loyalty and advocacy to attrition and reputational damage.
Traditional CX supplier relationships are now under strain as retailers set much higher expectations for hyper-personalised, contextualised and seamless customer experiences. This begs the question, what constitutes an ideal next-gen CX partner?
Four Essential Attributes of a Transformational CX Partner
Outstanding, integrated and agile capabilities in four major areas are the hallmarks of the new-age CX partner.
1. Outcome Based Services
Transformational CX partners know the difference between delivering ‘outputs’ and ‘outcomes ’. They contract for delivery of defined business outcomes (such as identified business priorities and customer experiences), as against delivery of outputs (restricted to completed transactions).
The traditional CX supplier, on the other hand, aims for defined services at defined costs – measured by clear service level agreements (SLAs) at the sub-process level. Cost of service depends on the input resources deployed, predominantly people. The underlying pricing formula of this model is driven by multiple variants of FTEs (i.e. of transaction or effort). We term this ‘FTEs in disguise’.
Digital transformation and automation have today created a tipping point where the delivery of CX services is no longer FTE-dependent. New transformational models, based on digital delivery and outcomes, now allow retailers to see opportunities beyond their existing supplier operating models. These include:
- Assuming end-to-end responsibility
- Funding digital transformation
- Providing value-added services, e.g. cognitive analytics
- Evolving the services with ongoing innovation, in line with market requirements
- Guaranteeing both outputs and outcomes, including cost reduction
2. A versatile digital experience toolkit
What technology enablement does your CX partner bring to the table? Can their services be easily scaled (up or down) depending on demand so that you only pay for what you use?
A transformational partner provides customisable and integrated digital CX models, tools and platforms that remain relevant to evolving business needs without straining budgets. Their versatile repository holds automated customer journey discovery tools, machine learning, cognitive and AI capabilities, robotics and chatbots, self-serve systems, community-based issue resolution, knowledge management, and secure omni-channel capabilities.
In particular, they demonstrate two stand-out capabilities: effective change management to ensure pragmatic and successful implementation of digital technology; and the ability to cleanse, manage and extract data to create insights and value.
This leads us to the next key attribute.
3. A data-driven Centre of Excellence (CoE)
When customer data is trapped in siloed departments, driving hyper-personalised conversations and improved loyalty can be challenging. Now, layer this with multiple legacy IT systems and it becomes really hard to ‘KYC’ (know your customer).
This is where AI-led analytics and intelligent automation can provide richer insights into what really matters to customers. The right CX partner invests in advanced analytics CoEs to provide access to the latest in industry expertise, technologies and innovations. Examples of analytics areas include:
- Customer analytics: This delivers customer segmentation and profiling to enable personalised messaging and journey mapping;
- Revenue enhancement: The analytics here is used to understand market baskets, next-best recommendations and re-set targets for sales conversion;
- Customer retention: This gives insight into loyalty schemes and the propensity to churn;
- Page optimization: This includes website analytics, purchase conversion and advanced search.
Transformational CX partners know the difference between delivering outputs and outcomes.
Market mix modelling and pricing optimisation are other indispensable services offered by analytics CoEs. The CoE functions as a test bed for adopting new trends, technologies and priorities. It can effectively assess new revenue streams such a programmatic ad serve, augmented reality and the metaverse. Additionally, it can drive strategic initiatives such as sustainability and evaluation of new markets.
4. The power of a digital talent force
The transformational CX partner holds a new breed of talent whose forte comprises problem solving, speed of resolution, innovation and tech-savviness. These ‘Digital Associates’ are experienced engineers and orchestrators who can manage high-complexity conversations in a tone that resonates with customers.
The recruitment of Digital Associates is a multi-layered process. It is fortified with continuous and engaging training to build future-relevant knowledge, skills and confidence. Learning academies provide a wide range of blended and self-paced learning journeys, which are easily accessible on digital platforms. Above all, transformational CX partners pay close heed to align their culture and values with their client’s.
Such an approach inculcates in their workforce a deep understanding of, and passion for, the client’s brand and customers.
The above attributes are important, but one thing to remember is that culture trumps everything! Your CX partner simply must be a true reflection of your brand and values and must be easy to do business with.
The world has seen a remarkable shift in customer experience, driven solely by customer outcomes and needs. So, ask yourself, do I have the right transformational CX partner? If you do, you are blessed. If not, move on to a different relationship – and do so rapidly.
To find out more about WNS and the services they provide to the retail industry, click here.
This article was also published in The Retailer, our quarterly online magazine providing thought-leading insights from BRC experts and Associate Members.