Mind the CX perception gap: Business leaders, consumers and agents weigh in

Mind the CX perception gap: Business leaders, consumers and agents weigh in

In London, Beijing, and New Delhi, the subway cars greet passengers with the same cautionary message—mind the gap. Whether jarring or reassuring, the alert is meant to prevent stumbles and falls while entering and exiting the subway cars. By the same token, this warning can be applied to wide disparities between the perceptions of business leaders, agents, and customers. If these gaps are not heeded, customer experiences can deteriorate, leading not to physical injury but to customer dissatisfaction, brand reputational injury, or customer attrition.

Omdia surveyed over 300 businesses to identify and quantify perception gaps among contact center leaders, agents, and customers to help business leaders better understand what these populations are really thinking. With this knowledge, business leaders can set a course to make matters right for customer experiences.

#1 Gap—The impact of AI on jobs

A hot topic of today is the impact of AI on jobs—will AI replace human employees, or enhance them, making their jobs easier? Customers vs. agents are divided on the issue. According to Omdia’s survey, 38% of customers believe AI will put humans out of a job, while 23% of agents said AI-powered chatbots will put them out of a job.

Impact of AI on jobs

What’s behind this perception gap? Customers don’t fully understand the intricacies and human judgment required to give excellent customer service, especially for complicated inquiries, nor do they always fully understand AI capabilities. The agents, performing their jobs with AI tools at hand, have first-hand knowledge. And in this case, they know something that many customers do not—while AI technologies can be very powerful, they can in no way replace human empathy and judgment essential in excellent customer experiences.

Omdia advocates for a thoughtful approach in balancing AI adaptation in contact centers: “Key approaches include reskilling agents, reimagining the scope of agent roles, and embracing a hybrid model that blends AI capabilities with human skills to allow for empathy.” For now, embracing a hybrid model of human agents and AI-fueled chatbots is key.

Far from replacing human agents, AI has the advantage to alleviate agent stress in dealing with increasingly complex customer interactions. With the right AI tools, agents can reduce the mundane parts of their jobs while keeping the more engaging aspects of it, all while increasing quality and productivity.

One solution that goes all-in in this hybrid approach is Enlighten AutoSummary. Rather than agents spending precious time writing manual notes after customer calls, Enlighten AutoSummary uses AI to write the summaries instead. This saves time for the agent to focus on the customers at hand, giving empathetic customer service, and the automated notes are more objective and consistent. Plus, the next agent who speaks with the same customer has the benefit of clear, accurate notes to help them better assist. It’s a win-win-win for cost reduction, manual work alleviation, and CX improvement.

#2 Gap—The damage of siloed data

Customers don’t want to wait a long time on an interaction, and it’s even more frustrating to them when it’s due to the agents searching for the right information to resolve the issue. Omdia reports that 52% of customers get frustrated when agents search for information. The reality is that an even larger percentage of agents are not positioned to remedy this situation—74% of agents must access three to eight applications to access customer information that they need. This means that far too many agents are set up to squander precious time searching for information, risking frustrating the customer at hand. And this is a real issue since a majority of customers will get irritated by waiting.

The damage of siloed data

The upshot is that businesses must prioritize data integration to cut down on wasteful dead time on customer interactions. CX platforms can integrate data and analytics on a unified data layer, allowing the right data to get to the right agent at the right time. Cutting back on your tech stack by investing in a single platform like CXone can orchestrate seamless customer journeys for experiences that your customers will delight in, not dread.

Consolidating systems onto one platform also has the huge advantage of managing 100% of interactions—whether they’re digital or agent-assisted. The information gleaned from these interactions can be fed right back into the solution for analysis, further refining your CX. And you can be reassured that no issue, no interaction will escape the attention it deserves.

One solution that harnesses the power of CX analytics is NICE Enlighten XO. Purpose-built AI analyzes your customer interactions to find the best opportunities for customer self-service and automation—no special code needed. Once the top opportunities by ROI are identified, Enlighten XO can build and train bots to enact these opportunities—and Enlighten XO makes any bot smarter. The result is more effective self-service and better leveraged automation for agents, so that your agents can focus on the complicated customer inquiries that require more finesse, allowing agents to do what they do best.

Open Network Exchange started evaluating 100% of interactions with NICE Enlighten AI and reaped the rewards. Alexandria Doucet, Quality Assurance Manager says, “Enlighten AI has totally changed the way our company operates—for the best. We’re able to measure how we’re treating our guests while still focusing on sales and driving revenue. What more could we ask for in a sales environment?”

#3 Gap—How a lack of digital fosters dissatisfaction

Agents can enjoy the experience of delighting a customer, one of the most satisfying aspects of their job. But—the flip side is that when those customers first come to them, the customers’ mood is often sour. Worse yet, the customers’ emotions may get even more negative during the interaction before the agent can turn it around.

Lack of digital leads to dissatisfaction

Fifty-eight percent of agents report that a lack of digital capabilities leads to angry customers, while 42% of business leaders said customers take their anger out on agents when there are insufficient digital tools. Why the gap? Agents withstand customer frustration on a daily basis, while contact center leaders may not be as attuned to the nuances behind customer anger. Customers have come to expect fluid self-service options, but today’s businesses have a way to go to satisfy customers with digital or automated CX solutions.[1]

Omdia sums up the takeaway message for contact center leaders: “Businesses must prioritize digital transformation.” The perception gap between agents and contact center leaders suggests that leaders need to take a closer look at how digital investments affect customer experiences at a granular level and watch out for common pitfalls that can impede a successful digital transformation. With digital solutions on CXone, you can meet customers wherever they start their journeys to help themselves, easing aggravation downstream.

#4 Gap—The dance of dueling KPIs

Another perception gap between agents and business leaders highlights the perspective of business leaders—in the extent of conflicting KPIs. Thirty-one percent of agents report that they have conflicting KPIs, while 65% of business leaders say their company has conflicting KPIs. Agents may feel they are mostly hitting their targets, from one interaction to the next, but business leaders have the overall business strategy and goals in mind, and they can see more clearly how agent KPIs don’t always align with them. An agent may hit the mark on keeping calls short, for example, which raises productivity, yet business leaders can see that this cuts into their CSAT rates, hindering their goal to outpace a competitor with a reputation for white-glove service.

Lack of digital leads to dissatisfaction

To Omdia, businesses must carefully evaluate agent objectives to ensure they are aligned with larger business goals. To raise the level of performance and efficiency for agents, the right AI technologies to engage and empower them are essential.

CXone Performance Management aligns agent performance goals throughout the organization, so that everyone from top to bottom is on the same page. Once those goals are set, agents and supervisors can easily see the data and progress on KPIs, and agents are motivated with game-like competition and camaraderie to boost performance. A single platform brings together KPIs, dashboards, and gamification for a powerful method to define and track business goals for true alignment—no more conflicting KPIs.

#5 Parity—Generative AI will improve customer experiences

There is a critical point that customers, agents, and business leaders agree upon—and that is the positive impact of generative AI on customer interactions. Eighty-four percent of customers said generative AI will improve agents’ ability to help customers, 89% of agents said generative AI will improve their ability to help customers, and 85% of business leaders said customers will have a significantly better experience with generative AI.

Generative AI

The main players involved in customer interactions have already seen the benefits of generative AI and have quickly accepted it. There are still some concerns among customers about security, privacy, and biased data, however, so Omdia advises companies to address them to reassure their customers.

CXone offers cutting-edge solutions that combine the power of generative AI with the precision and accuracy of AI models trained on CX data. Enlighten Copilot automatically generates suggested responses for an agent using conversational context and the approved knowledge base, so that the agent gives the right answer at the right time. Plus, supervisors have continuous, real-time visibility into agent behaviors to flag problem issues and receive suggested solutions.

Enlighten Autopilot provides engaging self-service for customers. It gives smart answers to customers based on conversations of top-performing agents and billions of voice and text customer interactions. The human-like conversations from Enlighten Autopilot can understand multi-level customer intents, making self-service even more powerful.

Enlighten Actions provides fast, powerful data analysis in conversational form to questions from business leaders. Leverage data like never before by pinpointing the best opportunities for automation, measuring the progress of your business goals, and identifying best next steps to achieve superior outcomes. Enlighten Actions is your super-smart business analyst who gives answers in a snap.

Closing the gaps

The perception gaps among customers, agents, and business leaders give the heads-up that your perception is not the same as someone else’s—and furthermore this difference can shape behaviors. Understanding where your customer or agent is coming from is critical for any business leader. And while it’s impossible to truly inhabit somebody else’s head, Omdia’s Mind the Gap survey report does the next best thing.

Through all of these gaps and one parity, one common thread is clear—the importance of investing in the right contact center platform and tools with AI. CXone is the most complete cloud CX platform, infused with Enlighten AI, with everything you need to excel with CX and scale everywhere. Mind the gaps, and then close them with CXone for exceptional CX.

[1] Frost & Sullivan: Reimagining the Power of Self-Service: How to Deliver CX to the Digital Doorstep (2022)