If you skim the articles that I write for TextExpander, you’ll notice that I focus on what I call changing definitions. “The office,” for instance, looks a lot different today than it did two years ago. Marketing is wildly different from what it was when I started in the mid-90s. Customer service has morphed into customer experience, and with that change, the role of CX Operations (CX Ops) has come to the forefront.
Before we dive too deep into this topic, we should first define what customer experience is, why it matters, and what role CX Ops plays. We’ll start with a definition of CX penned by the folks at Oracle. Of all the ones I’ve read, it does the best job at capturing a holistic view:
“Customer experience (CX) refers to how a business engages with its customers at every point of their buying journey—from marketing to sales to customer service and everywhere in between.”
It’s easy to see why CX matters. If the customer experience includes every touch point, then someone needs to have ownership of the sum total. That’s where CX Ops comes into the picture. Think of CX Ops as experience management.
CX Ops might not be the person on the phone with a customer, but they make sure that there are enough people to keep the phones answered. They aren’t in charge of product decisions, but they are the people who make sure that efficient processes are in place to keep the product moving. As the business expands, CX Ops is in charge of scaling or changing how work gets done to meet the increased demand.
They do all of this while managing costs, providing key data to the leadership team, and often being the direct management of both customer and internal support.
If that seems like a lot of responsibility, that’s because it is. There are precious few roles inside of a company that have as many touch points as CX Ops. That’s why efficiency is a critical component of everything that the CX Ops team does.
Find Your Inefficiencies
I’ll be the first to admit that I take on too many projects, ideas, or hobbies. Learning to perfect each of them is a challenge that I enjoy, and doing so has taught me an important lesson for spotting inefficiencies — learn what normal looks like first.
You’re not alarmed when you’re driving down the road and everything in your car is working as it should. But the moment that you hear or feel something different, you know that there could be a problem. The same is true for your business. Start by figuring out what a great customer experience looks like. Once you’ve identified that, it’s so much easier to figure out where things are going wrong.
Has the frontline support team started to see an uptick in contacts? Is there a concurrent increase in business that accounts for the change, or has something gone wrong? This shouldn’t be a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, but rather a matter of understanding customer feedback. What do your customers want that you aren’t currently providing?
The good news is that, more often than not, customers are quite willing to talk to us. They can help us spot our inefficiencies by telling us where we are dropping the ball and where we are exceeding their expectations. Our goal, of course, is to clone the model that allows us to exceed expectations wherever possible.
The challenge is that, sometimes, it’s harder to get information from inside of our own companies.
Break Down the Silos
Let’s face it: your customer support team is a silo. They have their own responsibilities, their own metrics to meet, and their own goals. And that’s fine. It’s not like you can go in and start changing the way they do things — they’ve got to actually get the work done in their day-to-day, after all.
But here’s a question: how do you know that those responsibilities are the best ones for your customers? How do you know that they’re even doing anything to improve your customer experience?
These are the questions that give rise to departmental silos. When each team has its own metrics, it isn’t being held accountable to metrics that matter to other departments or even the company. It’s this lack of cohesion that leads to a disjointed customer experience, and nobody wins when customers aren’t happy with your brand.
What if you could use your frontline, proactive support team’s data to help shape how other departments operate? What if you could find out what drives customers away from your brand so that you can avoid it in future campaigns? What if you could use insights from customer support calls to inform product design choices?
Breaking down silos means that everyone from product design to content strategy needs to have a finger on the pulse of what customers want and need. That information is not just shared with those who are directly interacting with customers daily. By bridging gaps between departments and creating an integrated approach to CX Ops, companies can provide more seamless support for their customers and improve their overall experience with the brand.
We’ve already established that CX Ops is a must-have for modern business. But did you know that reducing customer effort is one of the best ways to improve CX? Customers don’t want to search for solutions to their problems, trying multiple channels before finally finding what they need, or waiting for a response from a call center rep. They want answers, and they want them now.
But this isn’t only about reducing friction in the customer journey. It’s also about getting your team members on board with the changes you’re making. Make sure they understand why you’re doing it and what they can expect from it so that they can be enthusiastic ambassadors for these changes and the brand.
After all, CX doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are people involved at every stage of the equation. You need buy-in from your entire team if you want to succeed.
Reducing customer effort is only one part of the equation for integrating efficiency into your CX Ops. You also need to make sure the process is integrated and omnichannel. If your efforts only focus on one channel, then customers will still have an unpleasant experience when they reach out through other channels.
For example, let’s say you set up a chatbot to field simple requests. Customers could get answers quickly and easily. But what happens when they pick up the phone or send in a request to a live person? Unless there is omnichannel integration for the chatbot, it leads to customer frustration and slowed progress.
Make sure you’re integrating that effort reduction across all areas, both for the customer and for your own teams. Internally, look for areas that are suitable for automation. You can use that automation to escalate certain types of tickets, categorize feature requests, or surface useful documentation based on the context of an inquiry.
When automation isn’t the right call, try to spot ways to make life easier while keeping messaging consistent. Using a knowledge activation tool like TextExpander for Teams is one way to integrate efficiency across different departments that all play a part in the customer experience. Shared Snippet libraries help keep different teams on message, saving time and providing a consistent experience for the customer.
Try to see the experience through the customer’s lens. What does it feel like when they get disparate messaging on later visits? Shared Snippet libraries allow your company’s decision makers to update language when it’s necessary and then roll out those changes to everyone. The support staff doesn’t have to change anything about their workflow — they type the same shortcut they’ve always used and the new language gets inserted for them.
Finally, empower your team to suggest their own methods for efficiency and to provide feedback. After all, they’re the ones who are doing the legwork, so there’s no one who understands their jobs better than they do. Also, because they’re the ones who are most often getting face time with customers, they can be your litmus test for changes when they roll out.
Improving efficiency in CX Ops is a constant process. What made things better today may not work two years from now, so don’t get too attached to any one method or change. Always be on the lookout for new inefficiencies, new silos, and the tools that you can use to keep them in check.
Have some favorite methods that you’ve already put into action? We’d love to hear about them. Drop them in the comments below!