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Protocol's experts on the biggest questions in tech.

What part of the customer experience still has the most room for improvement?

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Bot interaction, personalization and outcome metrics could all still get better, members of Protocol's Braintrust say.

Good afternoon! In today's edition, we had a group of experts tell us about the parts of the customer experience that still had the most room for improvement. Want more on CX? You can find our whole special report here.

Glenn Weinstein

Chief customer officer at Twilio

Personalized communications. As consumers, we see marketing isn’t relevant to us. As buyers, sales communication is fragmented. Customer service is often frustrating and impersonal. Based on these disjointed experiences, you get the impression that brands don’t remember anything about us as customers — and maybe they don’t care. Of course they do care, but you have to think about customer engagement holistically, as opposed to scattered across marketing, sales and customer service. A consumer’s relationship with a brand is really just the sum of all of their interactions — viewing a digital ad, troubleshooting on the phone with customer support, texting with a sales agent. To keep a good record of this overall relationship with customers, a lot of companies are going to have to update outdated tech stacks, and figure out how to integrate siloed data. This usually means adding a dedicated customer data platform, which pulls from a marketing cloud, a customer support system and other tools. Once you can build and maintain comprehensive customer profiles, you get a deeper understanding of who the customer is, what they’re interested in and how to best engage with them. The result is better experiences, enduring relationships and higher lifetime value.

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Emily McEvilly

Chief customer officer at OneTrust

"Outcome" is one of the biggest buzzwords for customer experience teams these days, but it remains one of the least tangible. Most vendors are measuring customer results post-implementation, but CX professionals need more sophisticated ways to understand the real progress and change their products and services have delivered, against their customer’s success metrics.

This is why CX teams need to refine their focus on how to rally around measuring customer value. Why did our customers buy this solution and how can we ensure we are delivering on that promise? Vendors need to know precisely how customers are using their applications and deriving value, and to what breadth and depth. That’s a tall order because it means that you need to obtain those data-driven insights across user types and buying centers, especially because different users like executives, end users and power users will all respond differently to how your product is delivering them value. Many vendors lack the telemetry and programs at scale to understand how customers are using their platforms on that granular and matrixed level. That deficit of information means they can’t connect the dots between their platform and the tangible changes they are driving in their customer’s business.

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Brett Weigl

SVP & GM, digital and AI, Genesys Cloud at Genesys

Consumer bot usage has increased — from 14% of consumers using them for service interactions in 2017 to 34% in 2021 — but satisfaction with those interactions has decreased, especially as negative interactions with rogue bots like Meta’s BlenderBot 3 or Microsoft’s Tay become more common. At the same time, by 2024, 90% of survey respondents from a recent MIT study expect to be using AI-enabled bots for customer self-service — an increase from 57% today. As such, in the coming years, it will be crucial for companies to improve customer satisfaction when engaging with bots, in order to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Looking ahead, companies must consider how bots fit into customer journeys and how they support an end-to-end orchestrated customer experience, as opposed to just one-time individual interactions. When a customer reaches out to a brand — either by phone, web or other digital means — a CX platform routes the request to an automated system, a self-service bot or a live agent. However, what’s typically still missing is the ability to empower bots or agents with the full context of that customer’s journey. This could be from the brand’s own system, such as a previous purchase or return, or externally, such as an online search or response to an ad. The lack of context provided to resolve these individual experiences can contribute to a negative customer experience.

When we think about orchestrating an experience, brands pull relevant information from different systems to carry context. This can be integrated across all customer interactions — including bots — to make it relevant, personal and even proactive. From a consumer standpoint, powerful orchestration builds connected, seamless customer experiences by layering the right data and knowledge on top of every interaction. Integrating data — regardless of the consumer touch points — and using it to orchestrate every interaction will be key to delivering an efficient and connected customer experience time and time again.

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Nancy Sansom

Chief marketing officer at Versapay

The cloud workflow revolution has done a lot for improving human collaboration — think Slack, Asana and Salesforce, to name a few. Digital collaboration is nearly ubiquitous, so your employees and your customers expect to have digital options that allow them to work together more efficiently. Sadly, the back office — and especially AR — have been left out of this revolution.

We surveyed 1,000 C-level executives and found that 85% admitted that they were paid less than owed due to communication issues in the invoice-to-cash process. I2C will always require at least some human collaboration (invoice disputes, for example). When businesses are stuck using outdated communication channels, things get ugly.

Imagine your shipment arrives at my dock with damaged goods. My AP team’s only option is to email Not only is my team frustrated, but you also won't get paid until this gets fixed. Meanwhile, we pay our other invoices before we even think of circling back to you. Scale this problem, and your bottom line takes a big hit.

Businesses that neglect digital AR solutions that enable collaboration face an AR disconnect. This is when the I2C process makes collaboration more difficult, rather than easier. Solve the AR disconnect by introducing cloud tools for collaboration, and you improve customer experience while speeding up cash flow.

Your customers love collaboration. It makes their work more efficient and makes it easier to do business with you. So, if you want to improve CX, look no further than your own back office.

Learn more.

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Amit Jhawar

President at Attentive

The customer experience online has improved in fits and starts. Storing a credit card has become the norm, and payment tools have allowed for seamless purchasing across new merchants. Like-minded communities were built by social media platforms to push curated products to relevant audiences. While these areas of improvement have helped e-commerce over the last decade, a few critical pieces have yet to be mastered, including personalization and clienteling.

Personalization is the difference between annoying spam and valuable information. This is the bedrock of brand trust, and it's exactly what customers are expecting and brands are struggling to deliver. Attentive has seen, across thousands of merchants, that consumers are willing to share information with a company when they feel a sense of familiarity. By asking for key pieces of information throughout the customer journey, brands can deliver magical experiences that are true, authentic personalization. The other piece that has been neglected is clienteling. The equivalent of the sales associate in-store has not been solved online. When Attentive researched customers who abandoned carts, we repeatedly saw that a question about the material, fit or sustainability was the difference between a purchase and lost sale.

SMS marketing features, such as two-way conversations and text-to-buy capabilities, let consumers easily engage with a brand and get immediate responses, resulting in happier customers and more sales. Delivering important information to customers when they need it is key to evolving browsers into buyers. Ultimately, brands that speak with their customers, not just at them, build genuine, lasting relationships.

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Lara Caimi

Chief customer and partner officer at ServiceNow

Great experiences don’t just happen, they are a choice. You have to build a culture that delivers for the customer so your people know what to do when no one is watching. Building a customer-centric culture requires alignment between every function and every person in your company.

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Jeff Titterton

Chief operating officer at Zendesk

Too many businesses are failing to meet the growing demand for a fast, personalized and efficient customer experience and service that customers increasingly expect. Businesses must be wherever their customers are, and that means ubiquitous easy answers to their questions and problems on any channel — especially messaging. Convenience is paramount, and leaders who know that exceptional customer service has a direct impact on business performance are the ones who are investing in automation and personalization.

Customers want more control over how and when they engage with businesses, and businesses are starting to invest more in AI-driven automation solutions that empower customers to not only get answers quickly but also make changes on their own without the help of a representative. Self-serve is the word of the day, and bringing functionality and workflows into customer service experiences satisfies customers' need for fast and efficient service. It also frees up agents to focus on more complex customer needs.

Zendesk recently announced Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist, new AI solutions that enable businesses to triage customer support requests automatically and access valuable data at scale. By democratizing access to solutions like these, companies can understand intent and sentiment through account-specific, data-driven models that are customized for individual use cases and drive faster resolutions within minutes. This unique approach to applying machine learning creates more personalized and informed interactions that empower companies to serve customers better and faster.

In a constantly evolving world where customer expectations continue to rise, our advice has been consistent: Put the customer at the center of your business, always.

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See who's who in the Protocol Braintrust and browse every previous edition by category here (Updated Sept. 19, 2022).
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