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Creating your revenue-generating CX powerhouse

Brianna Reedy
7 key takeaways from the #CXHappinessMeetUp with Dixa & Lang.ai

“CX has one of the most important data pools in companies — customer conversations. Our goal is to help CX teams activate these conversations and turn them into revenue drivers” — Jorge Peñalva

Summary

  • Top of mind for CX teams right now? Retention.
  • Proving the value of CX is crucial in the current climate.
  • Operational efficiency starts with your agents.
  • Successful CX teams are data-driven.
  • Think about conversations - not tickets.
  • Working proactively builds long-term loyalty.
  • Empowered agents will drive your success.

Speakers

  • Jorge Peñalva (Lang.ai) - CEO
  • Tue Søttrup (Dixa) - VP CX Excellence 

Lang.ai CEO Jorge Peñalva recently paired up with Tue Søttrup, VP of CX Excellence at Dixa for a fireside chat at the #CXHappinessMeetUp to take questions on turning CX from a cost center to a revenue generator. Here are 7 key takeaways from their conversation, plus links to the video if you’d prefer to watch each section in full. 

01 - Top of mind for CX teams right now? Retention.

In the current market, it’s no secret that brands are focusing a lot more on retention than on acquisition, even if the reasons differ by industry. “We work with a lot of ecommerce organizations,” says Jorge, “some of whom have faced having to make cuts and lay off staff. For them, it’s a question of how to come out of this crisis with a better outlook. But there are also fast-growth organizations looking to take market share.” Making your customers super happy, so they stick around is equally important in either scenario.

“You also need a strategy on how you’re going to interact with customers across channels,” Tue explains, “This shift away from growth at any cost puts a new focus on the CX function. We need to start with the agent - ensuring they have the right tools, the right foundations, the right knowledge, to serve their customers.”

Operations are becoming more important, adds Jorge, “People with an operational mindset who can think about the systems and think about the data. There’s a lot of opportunity there.”

A lot of CX organizations have a need to conserve cash right now, which can mean consolidating the tools they are using and getting rid of the ones that aren’t critical for their operations. But as Tue points out, there’s another layer to this, “Often their customers want to control costs too — as prices are also very high for them. So it’s kind of a double-whammy that they’re experiencing. That means a lot of brands are having to fight hard to retain their customers — definitely more than they did even a couple of years ago.” 

02 - Proving the value of CX is crucial - especially in the current climate. 

For many CX teams, a key challenge is proving their value to the organization, in order to gain influence at the top table. They need to demonstrate that the contribution they can bring to other departments adds real value, whether that’s the sales, marketing, or product teams. 

“It can’t just be anecdotal, it has to be based on real data,” says Jorge, “I think that’s how you make yourself powerful in the organization — if you’re really driving those product decisions. That’s how you can occupy an equal position — and not just have the product people calling all the shots.”

Historically customer service has been seen solely as a cost center — but as Tue points out, that’s no longer the case, “It really is more of a profit center today. It’s where you build relationships with customers. And when you automate a lot of CX processes, you eliminate a lot of the wasteful conversations. The ones that are coming through to agents are the more valuable ones, where you can build loyalty, where you can solve the more complex issues that customers have.” 

That can lead to an unexpected result — your handling times might actually increase. But for Tue that’s not a bad thing, “Thinking that automating processes will lead to shorter wait and handling times — actually, it usually goes the other way, you’ve eliminated the easy conversations. But it’s really vital that you have the complex ones.”

03 - Operational efficiency starts with your CX agents.

“To have an efficient organization you have to start with the people actually serving your customers,” Tue explains, They’re the brand’s face to the outside world, and you need to give them the right foundation.” 

Tue shared the three pillars of agent happiness which his team has identified: 

“First: the foundational layer — your agents need information about why the customer is contacting you, and what they’ve contacted you about before — with an overview across all channels so your agent is fully informed. 

Second: your agents need to know who the customer is — bringing in information from the backend, so you know what segment they are in, what their last order was, and how much they’ve spent with you. That’s vital to deliver a personalized experience at scale. 

Third: your agents need to know how to solve the issues. High churn in customer service roles happens because agents are often frustrated at having to move through multiple systems to find the knowledge they need. A lot of agents are using Google, Stackoverflow, all kinds of resources to try and find answers.”

Being truly efficient means ensuring you have the right knowledge and it’s accessible to your teams. It gives your agents confidence that the information they are sending out is correct, and it means customers get consistent answers from whichever agent they are speaking to - because it comes from a single trusted source. As Jorge explains, “It’s about supporting agents in their day-to-day work — which can be repetitive. Where there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit — a lot of questions with the same answer each time, you can look at the top issues and use automation to deal with them.” 

04 - Successful CX teams have this in common — they’re data-driven.

Being data-driven is the only way you can truly understand your customer and their revenue potential. As Jorge puts it, “To identify revenue or retention opportunities you need to know not only the conversations that are happening now but what they’ve purchased before, what they’re likely to purchase in future.” 

It all hinges on bringing that information into the right systems — and the companies that are successful at turning CX into a revenue driver are the ones that are doing this consistently. “I spoke to one CX customer at a fintech client in NYC,” Jorge adds, “who said ‘we’re the most data-driven team in the organization - more than sales, marketing or product.’” 

Tue agrees, adding “Before we’ve had a tendency to look at data in isolation. We’d look at metrics on the CS platform, and look at customer satisfaction, maybe across several different tools. But we didn’t look at it altogether. Now we’ve reached a level of tech maturity where we can do that.” 

“There’s a huge opportunity,” he continues, “Let's say a customer has a CSAT of 4.2 out of 5, then you look at their lifetime value, you can see that if you move that CSAT from 4.2 to 4.4 what that actually means in terms of revenue. When you have those metrics available because you’re actually correlating the data, then you’re in a position to prove that when you deliver a great experience, this is the result in revenue terms.” 

05 - CX teams need to start thinking about conversations - not tickets.

For Tue, brands should be equally available wherever the customer prefers to communicate. “Customers don’t think in channels - they think in context. If it’s something urgent they’ll call, if they’re on the website they’ll start a chat, if they’re standing in a queue they’ll maybe SMS or Tweet,” he explains, “They just reach out on whatever’s close to them, and it’s up to the brand to be there. It’s not the customer's job to quote a ticket number, it’s up to the brand to recognize them across different channels and have a natural conversation”

“You hear people claiming SMS is dead, or email is dead,” says Jorge, “but if you have customers reaching out on those channels clearly they’re not dead! In that sense, what’s important is understanding that for each channel the type of communication is different. It’s about extracting the context according to the way the customer is expressing themself.”

This makes it more important than ever for companies to engage with vendors on a partnership level, to advise them on implementing solutions and solving customer problems based on their wider experience - sharing best practices from other organizations in the marketplace.

“It’s important to not just keep doing what you’re doing but stop and say — is this the best possible way?” Tue points out, “Having a vendor who can also be an advisor, and who has other customers with similar use cases is vital to making that data actionable.” 

Jorge agrees, adding, “There are billions of dollars mixed in with CX data. Even if you identify the issue that is most relevant to your customers, it can still be overwhelming to figure out where to start — with automation, reporting, etc. That’s where you need partners that help you identify where to focus and what systems to use to allow you to be more proactive, more predictive - and where to focus your time for the best ROI.” 

06 - Working proactively builds long-term customer loyalty.

Being more proactive in reaching out to customers when there is an issue delivers results. “Say you can see that orders haven’t been delivered on time,” says Tue, “Reaching out to the customer and saying, ‘we know, we’re investigating, we’ll update you when we know more,’ is much better than waiting for a complaint to come in.” 

Tue shared an example from a broadband company in Germany which proves the point, “Before if a card payment failed, they’d just lose that customer,” he recalls, “But when they started proactively calling up to investigate, and the customer just needs a link to update their card info, they managed to retain 17% of the customers they were losing before.” 

“The other part of retention is who to prioritize,” adds Jorge, “figuring out what signals can help you identify where to focus among thousands of interactions. It’s difficult, but with the right data, you can do it.” 

From Tue’s point of view, it’s the negative experiences that can prompt the most positive outcomes — if brands are proactive in dealing with them, “If something goes wrong, the brand contacts you, and you have a good experience — then even though it started out as a negative, it’s those moments where you have an opportunity to turn it around and make them remember you. That’s what builds loyalty.” 

07 - CX agents have to be empowered to drive your success

Both Jorge and Tue agree that empowering your front-line agents is critical — not only that, but ensuring that they have a clear career path ahead, and feel supported in their professional development. 

“Part of it is the ability to prove that good CX has a positive impact on the bottom line - that their work is key to the company’s success. We’ve not traditionally been very good at doing that. We need to empower them to be able to solve customer issues - not limit them,” Tue explains, “If all they can do is give a voucher for 200 dollars, then that’s what they’ll do. Then the customer will ask for more, and they’ll have to escalate it. We’ve seen situations where agents are given total freedom to decide what to do - maybe it’s simply sending flowers instead of a discount voucher. And overall, those companies see less payout because the agents are empowered to find creative solutions matched to the specific situation.” 

Making agents more empowered, more data-driven, and more systems focused is a clear benefit for everyone. These are the systems of the future, so understanding them is important for agents' long-term professional success.

And as Jorge points out, that success can flow into other areas of the business over time, “The best agents I’ve seen are always growing professionally. Maybe they’re joining the ops teams, helping to set up CX platforms — giving them the chance to make a bigger impact. Or moving to QA manager, and looking at customer issues in aggregate. In a lot of companies, talented agents move into management positions elsewhere, engineering, sales, product, etc, because they actually know about the product from a customer perspective and their experience can benefit the rest of the organization.”

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