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A strong CX technology spending plan can bring big returns

The telephone won't cut it anymore. Customers expect digital services, and businesses need to think about spending more to update CX technology. It pays off in the long run.

Achieving a 269% ROI on new CX technology might seem like a fantasy, but the executives at Company Nurse know it can be a reality if you do your homework when designing a CX technology spending plan.

Company Nurse, an organization in Scottsdale, Ariz., that manages workplace injuries and compensation claims, recognized the need to transform its customer experience strategy. Until 2018, the company had relied solely on a telephone hotline for customer service, through which nurses offered medical expertise to injured workers, and call center agents handled claims and other customer-centric tasks.

"We felt competitive pressure, but the reality [of changing] is us keeping up with the technology that people use today," said Henry Svendblad, CTO at Company Nurse. "Our customers' experience is not driven by a competitor but by Uber, Amazon and Apple."

A telephone conversation doesn't satisfy customer expectations for a digital experience, so Company Nurse searched for a cloud platform that would let call center agents and nurses also connect with customers via text, web chat and a mobile app.

"We were hopelessly lost," Svendblad said. "We were being held back by the investments made in traditional install technology."

Svendblad, who was initially hired as a consultant but now acts as a company executive, convinced his peers that cloud technology could enhance the contact center's efficiency and capabilities, while also improving the connection between front- and back-office systems. Svendblad believed a digital approach would also enable Company Nurse to better meet health privacy standards. With these efforts in mind, the company began to map out a CX technology spending plan.

Know what you want in CX technology

A collaborative approach is one of several steps organizations should take before selecting new technology, said Olive Huang, an analyst at Gartner. Three-quarters of surveyed organizations increased their CX technology spending in 2018, according to a June Gartner report.

Company Nurse's ROI story

It makes sense: Many companies believe that quality customer service depends on some form of digital technology. But simply spending more money on CX platforms and services doesn't always guarantee that an organization is using the technology that best suits its processes, aims and needs.

Despite an increase in CX technology spending, many organizations hit roadblocks they didn't see coming, according to Gartner. These roadblocks include an inability to demonstrate ROI quickly, failure to get top executives or middle management to buy into the strategy and having a CX leader quit without a succession plan, Huang said.

Huang suggested installing a leader who not only heads CX initiatives but also establishes a transparent foundation for successors. Also, planning for an economic downturn helps organizations recognize how to effectively deliver CX with a tighter budget, she said.

"Customer experience management is never solely about a technology investment," Huang said. "You need leaders, a budget, objectives and an understanding of where you want to be and how you get there."

Customer experience management is never solely about a technology investment.
Olive Huang Analyst, Gartner

Each company looking to improve its CX technology spending strategy needs to identify "basic CX needs" first, said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group. The advent of cloud and mobile technologies requires companies to break down organizational silos so every department can properly view and serve the customer's needs, he said.

Data analytics help make sense of all the information that comes from trying to create a full view of the customer, Pombriant said. Organizations should consider technologies that connect the dots between analytics and actions, such as a program that enables companies to see if a customer is slowly shying away from a product or service and needs a proactive nudge to reengage, he said.

Ultimately, smart CX means respecting a customer's time and knowing what he or she wants, Pombriant said. Customers couldn''t care less about the look of a company's UI; the belief that they stay on a site forever no longer applies, he said. Data is what matters.

Know what customers want in CX tech

It will further help organizations to realize that all technology is CX technology, said Jennifer Wise, a principal analyst at Forrester.

For example, systems that help warehouse employees sort and deliver packages to customers is CX technology even though it's not customer-facing. It is also critical to consider the customer before leaping into a new system or application, Wise said.

"Where we see [companies] falling down is when they focus on a system functionality or application features they think the customer needs, without consulting the customer," she said. "You want to design it the way a customer can use it."

Svendblad, for example, researched several call center technologies and ultimately chose Genesys' PureCloud platform. Company Nurse went live with PureCloud in April 2018, but the company rolled out features one at a time: first email, then SMS and web chat. Soon, Svendblad hopes to start using an application that will analyze the sentiment of callers. The PureCloud platform also securely links sensitive health information on PureCloud with Company Nurse''s proprietary data management system.

Company Nurse expects to spend about $350,000 on the PureCloud software, personnel to run it and other related costs over the first three years of its implementation. Yet it expects to realize $1.1 million in direct and indirect cost benefits over that time, according to an ROI report that Nucleus Research prepared for the company.

By focusing on which digital applications customers needed and which cloud platform would best serve the company''s internal workings, Company Nurse found a CX technology spending plan that helped its business.

"Technology isn't a final answer," Pombriant said. "It's another tool, and you have to make the most of that tool like anything else you're using in the business."

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