One of the most famous phrases in the modern cultural zeitgeist is, “One Ring to Rule Them All.” When one familiar with The Lord of the Rings hears these words, a clear vision of Middle-Earth comes into focus as does the legendary journey undertaken by the characters at the heart of the story. The words denote the “One Ring’s” ability to govern and command all other rings of power in the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The stakes are admittedly lower in the typical customer’s journey than for Frodo Baggins and his companions. However, providing a frictionless journey that takes your customers to their desired destination matters. As consumers ourselves, we have experienced the frustration that comes from being lost in the virtual ether of bad customer experience (CX). What would it look like for every journey to be more connected, intelligent, and complete?
“Not all those who wander are lost…” but a connected journey is more likely to keep you on track.
Just like the One Ring has the ability to control and harness the power of all the other rings, you need a way to centralize the data from every interaction type. This is possible today with an open cloud platform that governs and commands all CX applications with which your customers can interact. One source of power, if you will, can control and connect the entire journey for your brand, your employees, and your customers.
If your organization’s CX is mired in outdated technology and data silos, how do your customers reach their desired destination before their frustration erupts—forever impacting brand reputation and loyalty? Joining interaction data from every touchpoint creates connected customer journeys, enabling your organization to learn from both successful and unsuccessful outcomes, and use that insight to optimize future experiences. Modern CX technology embedded with AI does this by integrating the management of all customer touchpoints into one unified cloud platform.
These capabilities haven't always existed, but today there’s no reason your customers can’t navigate their journey with ease. With one platform to manage all interactions, your contact center becomes an engagement center, taking your customer experience strategy and insights from fragmented to holistic. With insights generated through an engagement center, the entire organization can benefit from harmonized processes and structures that elevate customer-centricity, operational effectiveness, increased retention, and personalization.
The optimal engagement center would have rich tools and built-in intelligence with pre-configured infrastructure, managed services, and development frameworks that accelerate the software development lifecycle.
According to Gartner: “Customer service will evolve from a cost center into a profit center by having greater responsibility for the customer relationship and journey.” 
Connected experiences are made possible with cloud technology. Cloud-native solutions are fast and easy to spin up and snap together with existing infrastructure so that no rip-and-replace is required. Upgrades are automatic and additions are easy to turn on and off from a single control point. Elasticity and scalability are inherent, making seasonal spikes and staff changes easy to manage. The technology grows and expands as the business demands—unlike the days of yore, with rigid, difficult-to-manage, bolted-together, home-grown solutions.
Having completely connected systems opens the opportunity to make every customer interaction personalized and contextual to match where each customer is in their journey, regardless of the interaction channel, and regardless of whether the customer has contacted you about their need. Connected systems ensure you can proactively engage your customer and always receive and resolve customer interactions through self-service, voice, or digital channels.
95% of consumers say that customer service has an impact on their brand loyalty, citing easy access to digital channels, online self-service, and professional agents as important factors. 
“You must, therefore, use such strength and heart and wits as you have…” but an intelligent journey leads to fast resolution.
You don’t have to be diabolical and frightening like Sauron the Dark Sorcerer to have complete control and oversight of all your organization’s CX systems. And you don’t need a magical ring to help you accomplish great things. Having one unified platform to manage all customer experience interactions enables you to gather, analyze, and share all relevant information to deliver an intelligent journey.
Nearly 90% of executives report improvements in the speed of complaint resolution, and 80% report improvements in customer satisfaction after integrating AI to support customer interactions. 
Smart self-service requires AI trained on trusted company knowledge and proven outcomes that can provide responses aligned with brand and business goals. With the right tools, you can leverage data from your customers’ complete conversational AI journeys and build dialogues, intents, and label entities by analyzing and improving bot conversations based on historical data. Having conversational AI that acts like an employee rather than a computer—and your best employee, at that—frees employees to work on more complex interactions.
Access to centralized data also means you have the context, continuity, and consistency of the interactions required to orchestrate a personalized journey with AI-powered routing. This provides the ability to seamlessly transition customers between self-service and agent assistance, without requiring the customers to repeat information.
“Courage is found in unlikely places…” but having a complete picture can help.
In the first book, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins agrees to take the One Ring to Mount Doom and destroy it, but he admits he cannot do it alone. “I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way.” Without his companions and the necessary tools, he could not have completed the journey. It would have ended, likely disastrously, at one of several dangerous points along the way.
Pain points and friction in the customer journey are not as hazardous as Orcs and the Nazgûl, but they can keep your customers from completing their journey. Delivering a complete journey is important to service your customers and nurture every relationship.
By using CX technology to holistically address the needs of your brand, your employees, and the customers you serve, you’ll be able to manage, automate, and improve customer experiences at every point of the journey to help your customers achieve fast and efficient resolutions. And this is good for your Net Promoter Score (NPS) to grow your business and brand reputation.
Having one set of CX applications not only improves the experience for your customers, it improves the experience for your employees. With only one system to learn, agents can be onboarded and advanced more quickly. They can benefit from workforce management (WFM) programs and advance their performance and professional development.
Outdated business systems and technology are cited as barriers to success by nearly half of employees (49%), and front-line agents list a lack of integration between different channel platforms (34%) as one of the most significant barriers to achieving successful outcomes. 
Your employees need the tools, knowledge, and performance feedback to effectively resolve customer needs and perform their best. By delivering what they need, you’ll raise employee satisfaction and retention, leading to an environment where employees are engaged, challenged, and satisfied with their work.
In addition, CX leaders can manage customer experience holistically and consistently across multiple touchpoints and channels, improving their job performance and experience as well.
With one cloud-based CX platform to rule them all, you’ll be empowered to provide experiences that are more connected, intelligent, and complete. You’ll be able to deliver reliable and smart self-service, enable agents to be responsive and engaged, achieve complete performance by continuously improving operations, harness AI purpose-built for CX, and offer extraordinary CX from day one.
With access to centralized interaction data, you can meet customers at any entry point, from search or website to social or messaging. And then guide those customers seamlessly with journey orchestration across channels.
To learn more about how to drive CX that’s connected intelligent, and complete, check out Customer Experience Interactions (CXi) For Dummies, NICE Special Edition.
 Gartner Press Release: Predicts 80% of Customer Service Organizations Will Abandon Native Mobile Apps in Favor of Messaging by 2025 (2021)
 NICE: Digital-first customer experience report (2022)
 CMXWIRE: What's next for artificial intelligence in customer experience? (2023)
 NICE: Customer Experience Interactions (CXi) for Dummies (2023)
 NICE: Customer Experience Interactions (CXi) for Dummies (2023)
 Verizon Business research with Omdia (2022)