Most businesses talk a big game on CX. Wander the halls between the back office and the boardroom and you’ll likely hear variations on the same prevailing wisdom:
- CX is our most important differentiator.
- Better CX means happier, more loyal, higher-spending customers.
- Our business wins or dies on our CX.
But there’s a common disconnect between the principles and practice of CX that undermines this sentiment.
In this blog, we’re going to explore why agent experience (AX) is a critical ingredient of CX – and why rapid digitization has created a widening gap between the AX reality at the front line and the CX expectations of the wider business.
Because it’s no good paying lip service to CX as a critical imperative at the top of the corporate agenda if you don’t support front-line agents to make every interaction a success.
Let’s dive in.
Policy makers vs. practitioners
Senior decision makers measure CX success differently than the practitioners actually interacting with customers.
The business tends to measure great CX outcomes in terms of volume – quantitative metrics like “cases handled” and “time-to-resolution”. But even ostensibly qualitative metrics like NPS apply rigid categories to nuanced human interactions.
Conversely, for the agents actually delivering CX, great outcomes happen in real-time – it’s about individual interactions with real people facing complex challenges. It’s an unpredictable, moment-to-moment discipline that depends on forging dozens of trusted, authentic (but ultimately transient) customer relationships every day.
These outlooks aren’t surprising. And they’re not necessarily incompatible. The problem is that most businesses over-index on investments toward the former goal (tools and systems of analysis to quantify great CX outcomes at a macro level) without equipping agents with new instruments to create high-quality interactions at the front line.
And as long as that imbalance exists, ambitious CX intentions will always be more lip-service than sincere commitment.
So what needs to change for businesses to put their money where their mouths are?
Guidance elevates agent potential
We’ve written at length about why bad CX sucks for customers. (Take a look at our Taxonomy of Hidden CX Frustrations to get the full picture). But it’s important to remember that agents feel CX frustrations too – and in fact, that poor AX inevitably leads to poor CX.
The challenge is that advancing digitization enables more complex and ambitious customer journeys – but the tools of customer engagement haven’t kept pace to support more sophisticated customer inquiries.
Agents are mostly limited to voice-to-voice interactions with customers – when what they really need is to interact with each other in a shared digital context.
They need to see each other, to see what the other is seeing and to navigate through a digital problem together, in the same space. Without that interactivity, agents often can’t do anything for customers – beyond giving them slightly long-winded, inadvertently confusing verbal directions.
When the customer is already feeling tense, angry or otherwise unhappy, this lack of interaction acts like the lid on a pressure cooker. But even if the customer feels great when they first call you up, being unable to fully communicate can bring their mood down – fast.
Guidance unites AX, CX and the wider business
When your customers and agents are empowered to make genuine connections when they interact, everything falls into place. The front-line AX improves, which means individual CX interactions improve too, and topline CX metrics improve in turn.
Instead of disconnected viewpoints, the whole CX picture is connected.
A closer connection with your customers can start with understanding what customers are really frustrated about when it comes to your customer experience – and what you can do to alleviate that frustration.
If you’re ready to explore a concrete solution for your customer-agent interactions, you should head to our Experience the Solutions page.
You’ll find out how Glance technology creates guided customer experiences that enable agents to easily connect and collaborate with customers (and take charge when customers need it), in-browser and in-the-moment.
It’s exactly what you need to create a CX that your agents, colleagues and customers won’t stop talking (or smiling) about.