Total Experience is the “Big Picture” Formula that CX Leaders Need in 2023

Mar 9, 2023 Featured Article

Looking back on the past three years post COVID, it’s clear that the most successful brands adapted by doubling down on digital platforms and UX investments. Digital transformation is now status quo and we’re navigating the complexities and disruption of the widespread convergence and consolidation of platforms. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the next trend for 2023 will be about how we can unlock more measurable value from our technology investments by focusing not only on multichannel enablement, but also the undervalued employee experience, and, most importantly, the Total Experience for customers engaging with brands.

The narrative we’re seeing in this report corroborates exactly what we’ve been working on with our Fortune 500 clients in recent months. Their 2020 projects saw rapid advancements in digital and UX efforts focused on CX. But coming into 2023, we’re looking at a very different economic climate with 80% of businesses becoming more focused on financials and 55% reducing budgets for new programs (page 12). It feels like the familiar “let’s do more with less” scenario, but we’ve got good news. It’s not that at all.

You’ve been putting everything into position from an infrastructure and technology standpoint. Now you need to connect the dots on all those different launches and deployments, and we have a model that we use to make that possible. We call it the Total Experience formula. TX = CX+EX+MX+DX+UX

Total Experience is a unified and transformative end-to-end experience model that takes into
account every touchpoint across your brand, and all stakeholders involved – customers,
employees, and users across all digital channels and platforms.

Why are multichannel and employee experience so critical in 2023?

The results of this survey tell us that the winners of 2023 will shift their focus to a 10-thousand-foot, panoramic view of their brand to understand how multiple channels are intersecting in the customer journey. They will map and optimize the employee experience, and bring cohesion to the end-to-end CX tech stack.

The challenge of being hyper focused on Digital Experience (DX) and User Experience (UX) ever since the pandemic started is that these individual achievements in digital are great if the customer has a simple issue to resolve and a linear journey to get the help they need. That’s a point of strength for brands, with 89% of CX leaders feeling they “excel” in at least one customer touchpoint (page 37). But that’s clearly not the whole story when 42% of consumers say the #1 most frustrating aspect of resolving a customer care issue is “difficulty in reaching a live person” (page 82).

The Total Experience formula can help you make sense of that imbalance. Businesses have spent the past three years pulling the DX and UX levers hard. That means two levers have been undermined, Multichannel Experience (MX) and Employee Experience (EX).

There is plenty of evidence in this report, where we see these major takeaways:

  1. Don’t Overlook the Human Factor – Employee Experience Matters
    89% agree that customer care agents need to be “very passionate about the brands they represent” (page 85) and 44% of consumers “prefer to speak to someone” (page 81).2.
  2. Multichannel strategy needs to be a priority in 2023
    39% have no cross-channel initiatives started, which is up from 35% a year ago (page 42)3.
  3. The end-to-end CX Tech Stack needs to be mapped to your Total Experience strategy
    Only 31% are satisfied with their CX tech stack (page 64) and “Legacy systems, processes and tools” were the #1 challenge for CX operations (page 47).

Another way to look at the problem statement is that great DX and UX can result in a myopic focus on perfecting very specific customer journey touchpoints. A Total Experience vision will get you out of the weeds. When you break down your operations in this model it helps to identify which adjacent or interdependent investments and efforts need to be scaled, refined or realigned to positively impact CX.

Start seeing the “Big Picture” for your end-to-end brand experience

This report shows that CX leaders are more confident than ever in how they’re succeeding in individual customer touchpoints and channels. That makes sense, nearly all of them spent the past three years launching and perfecting new digital platforms and enhanced processes.

On the other hand, we find that the “big picture” is where CX leaders are struggling:

  1. EX – Employee Experience is an unmapped and untapped opportunity
    We see that 24% of CX leaders “don’t know” if agents trained in a WFH setting perform better than or equal to in-center trained agents (page 18). It’s a safe bet there’s much about the experience of their employees they don’t know. When our clients first come to us, we consistently find it to be an opportunity to deliver a transformational solution. We have invested significantly in mapping the end-to-end employee experience to ensure our employees are engaged, empowered to be successful, and highly motivated to deliver the best outcomes for our clients.
  2. DX and UX – An influx of new platforms requires more holistic visibility
    Digital investments are paying off, but the experience across multiple channels and solutions is still struggling. The data shows us that while 89% of CX leaders feel they “excel” in at least one customer touchpoint (page 37), only 28% believe they do a good job providing a seamless, consistent, easy experience when customers transition between different channels and solutions (page 38).
  3. MX – Multichannel needs greater visibility to help drive brand consistency
    You know customers are “channel hopping” or “channel transitioning” more than ever, but very few CX leaders have clear visibility into how the increasingly multi-channel experience impacts customers. Only 38% of CX leaders are measuring across all channels (page 34). Similarly, 78% are not comparing single-channel journeys to multi-channel journeys, and that number hasn’t moved since 2021 (page 34). That’s a major blind spot. 39% still don’t have any MX initiatives in place, and that number is up significantly from 35% a year ago (page 34).

Differentiating on Employee Experience

At ACT, we believe that the employee experience is one of the most untapped opportunities to impact customer experience. We are 100% employee owned, which means all employees have a path to owning shares in our company. Employee ownership means our employees’ motivation is aligned to our clients’ success. We are one of less than 7,000 employee owned companies (ESOPs) in the world – none of our competitors offer this unique differentiator.

We have mapped every touchpoint of the employee experience, set high performance standards and put measurements in place to ensure that we are meeting those expectations.

By delivering an outstanding employee experience, we not only achieve extraordinary retention KPIs, we also ensure that our agents are personally motivated to build value for our customers.

Don’t Overlook the Human Factor

Automation and self-help solutions are undeniably powerful tools to help customers and gain cost efficiencies. But in 2023, it’s more important than ever to make sure your digital investments don’t drive a wedge between your customers and meaningful human experiences that build brand loyalty.

A major point of consensus between CX leaders and consumers in this report is that they both agree a positive and differentiated customer service experience is a path to increased brand loyalty (99% of CX leaders and 73% of consumers, page 78). It can be easy to overlook this point as a “soft metric”, but this should be a thread that helps you key in on the untapped potential of a more thoroughly mapped and defined Employee Experience (EX) strategy.

There are three points in this report that show us there is still work to be done for CX leaders to meet their customers’ needs:

  1. Consumers say the #1 most frustrating aspect of resolving a customer care issue is “Difficulty in reaching a live person,” and #2 isn’t even close (page 82).
  2. In contrast, the majority of CX leaders believe the most frustrating aspect for customers is just that the “process takes too long (page 59),” with reaching a live agent in a distant third.
  3. CX leaders and consumers do agree that “A quick and easy process” is one of the most important factors in resolving a customer care issue. But diverge completely in that while 21% of consumers feel “polite and friendly treatment” is the most important factor, only 1% of CX leaders see it that way (page 77).

What you should take away from this is that there’s still some stark mismatches between what customers expect from a customer service experience versus what your teams believe and in turn are focused on delivering to your customers.

Mapping the employee experience brings much needed visibility to these areas of your business, gives you an opportunity to create better experiences for the customer, and ultimately sets your business apart from your competitors who are still living with these blind spots.

Capitalize on your digital investments with the Total Experience formula

I’m very excited about the data in this report. Because if the past three years have been about doubling down on digital platforms and UX investments, then it’s clear that 2023 is about unlocking more measurable value from those investments by focusing on multichannel, employee experience and, most importantly, the Total Experience.

If you want help and a deeper understanding of the Total Experience formula. Let’s talk.

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