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The future of digital CX, according to leaders

Posted February 22, 2023
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Despite what we may wish, nobody has a crystal ball. We don't know who is going to win the next game. We don't know, at least with any real certainty, what the weather is going to be like a week from now. Truthfully, there are a lot of us that don't even know what we're going to eat for dinner. But just because we can't see into the future and know what it holds without a shadow of doubt, it doesn't mean we're totally in the dark.

Illumination comes from research, and from authoritative sources you can trust. It is by surveying over 250 enterprise leaders, for example, that we can start to understand digital customer experience (CX) priorities in 2023. In the same manner, it is by consulting proven, experienced thought leaders that we can glean what is likely to be most important to the future of CX.

And, that's exactly what we did. Keep reading for digital customer experience insights from three TELUS International leaders.

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Survey results: Digital customer experience priorities for leaders in 2023

TELUS International, in partnership with Statista, surveyed 250 enterprise leaders to explore where they plan to invest in digital customer experience (CX) technology in 2023. Uncover the results.

Download the report

Turbulent times call for optimization

Between the pandemic, labor shortages and widespread economic challenges, brands are grappling with the task of building out effective customer experience strategies in a less predictable environment.

"When trying to make plans for a future that isn't entirely clear, it's vital that business leaders have operational strategies in place to help them successfully navigate the ambiguity," says Brian Hannon, global head of customer experience innovation (technology) at TELUS International in an article for Forbes.

Hannon goes on to describe a number of strategies:

  • Focusing on the customer journey: "In times of financial flux, it is especially critical to identify how the current economic climate may be affecting your customers' spending habits and purchasing behaviors. Encourage your customer support teams to listen closely and ask questions when addressing customer queries as well as to have processes in place to ensure this feedback is shared across departments."
  • Leveraging intelligent automation: "[Robotic process automation] can deliver the efficiencies needed to weather tight economic conditions, from the ability to perform around-the-clock to producing replicable results at scale and absorbing the kinds of repetitive tasks that tend to weaken employee engagement."
  • Winning and keeping customer trust: "It stands to reason that in times of uncertainty, customers will gravitate toward brands they know and trust. However, that trust is easily lost. In our increasingly digital world, where more and more interactions occur online, brands must prioritize keeping their social channels and platforms safe and welcoming."

You don't have to keep everything in-house

Brands feel enormous pressure to come up with their own in-house solutions. More often than not though, they're just reinventing the wheel at great cost. The hard truth is, if you can dream it, it probably already exists — and can be licensed or subscribed to for a far more reasonable cost than the DIY approach.

In digital CX outsourcing, many brands discover a sensible way to create innovative experiences without breaking the bank. An Execs In The Know article penned by Pete Tapley, vice president of customer experience innovation at TELUS International, lists ways to get more from your customer experience outsourcing partnership. Consider the following:

  • Co-innovation: "Working with an external partner brings new perspectives that enable companies to predict and meet consumer demands at an accelerated pace. As an added benefit, co-innovation also tends to reduce risk through the sharing of resources, best practices, industry insights, and cross-industry experience."
  • Process improvement: "The right CX provider will strive to understand your customer journey inside and out. Their team of experts will be able to guide and support your business strategies by breaking down barriers, connecting disparate organizational silos, and identifying the right priorities to enable a successful business transformation."
  • Employee management and engagement: "Your CX partner is nothing if not an expert in employee management. Tap into that wealth of knowledge to help facilitate customer-centric cultures, streamline operations, and reduce attrition by sourcing, managing, and training top talent."
  • Speed and scale: "Fast-growing companies need to be agile and smart with their time and resources. An experienced outsourcing partner will be able to ramp up your operations by leveraging their global footprint, along with the tools and expertise to forecast and meet demand."
  • AI and automation: "Many businesses who have acted upon the automation opportunity have seen exponential year-over-year cost savings. The goal, however, should not be to introduce tech for tech's sake, but rather to work with your trusted outsourcing partner to discern how AI and automation can make things faster, easier, and better for your customers and team members alike."
  • Deep domain and industry expertise: "A top-tier CX partner will have earned experience in your industry and in others, too; the idea that makes a big impact for your business may come from an unexpected industry or source."

The more complex your tech becomes, the stronger your digital strategy needs to be

Generative AI, NFTs — it's hard to know what trends in customer experience are here to stay and which ones are flashes in the pan.

For instance, despite a great interest in the metaverse, brands are still reluctant to go all-in on investing in metaverse CX, likely because it's hard to grasp its commercial prospects.

It's a subject that Michael Ringman, chief information officer at TELUS International wrote about for Fast Company. He explains, "In order for brands to realize their full potential, they must create environments where consumers feel both safe and authentically engaged."

Advocating the importance of good data and a considered strategy as fundamentals to metaverse initiatives, Ringman later continues, "On the quest to meet and exceed these customer expectations, fortune favors the planners. Brands must build their metaverse on a solid foundation of data about its customers and their needs and desires. During this crucial early phase, brands should be as specific as possible to effectively action the findings. Their analysis should also include identifying metrics for accurately and continuously monitoring metaverse CX after the launch."

His attention on customer data isn’t specific to the metaverse, however. Ringman consistently encourages savvy digital investments and planning, as is the case in his article for Forbes. "To customers, stellar CX is frictionless and seamless, regardless of the channel. It's about the brand anticipating what they want. From a brand's perspective, delivering on those expectations is a path to developing loyalty — and staying true to that path depends on truly knowing your customers," says Ringman.

Lead with CX

No matter how the future unfolds, there is one safe bet for brands: Customers, and by extension the customer experience, will be central to success. Think differentiator, not cost center. Think leading, not following. And when you need help building the future you want for your customers, think of TELUS International.

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