Slack customer chief: Stop viewing CX as a cost centre

CX support delivered with efficiency and expertise can move from cost centre to profit driver, said a panel at this week’s Slack event

Differentiated and personalised support is table stakes for companies, according to Slack VP of customer service, Ali Rayl, speaking at this week’s Slack Frontiers event. And some of the best examples of this kind of customer service are unique - not just to an industry or a business, but unique to a company, its mission, vision and goals.

Rayl pointed out that it’s well understood great customer experiences drive engagement and trust with customers.

“We know these outcomes directly impact revenue and growth of our businesses. We know well-defined escalation paths are critical to enabling agents to deliver superior customer experiences, and we know they're easy and accessible,” she said.

However, for too long CX has been viewed as only a line item in the expenses column of the budget, according to Rayl. “Customer experience is moving away from the traditional model of a cost centre, and it's moving towards a revenue driving and strategy enabling function, one that has a seat at the table,” she said.

Focusing on engagement and trust in consumer experiences is integral in any industry, but particularly in healthcare, Oscar Health VP of service operations, Sebastian Burzacchi, told the panel. Trust is a way to capture more opportunities to then capture symbiotic value between the organisation and its members.

“We can hopefully improve their health outcomes and hopefully lower their cost of care in the long run,” Burzacchi added.

Also on the panel, Accent Group head of customer experience, Michelle Yanez-Olivares, explained that moving from being known as ‘customer service’ to then ‘customer care’ and ultimately to ‘customer experience’ reflects the changing role of CX in the retail business.

“That's when we moved away from this single point of just customer service. It's now in the business DNA - CX is going to flow through all the departments in the Accent Group,” Yanez-Olivares said. “The future is about how we move away from being a cost centre to start actively generating revenue for the business."

To address this, it’s necessary to measure some kind of return on investment for customer experiences, which can be a challenge to calculate.

Yanez-Olivares explained the retail group is looking to artificial intelligence (AI) to further improve its CX. “At the moment, we're in the process of scoping out lots of fantastic tools and upgrades, and looking at how we can better automate the experience. How can we increase our presence? How can we reduce the cost of service with the right tools and resources?

"And how can we continue to improve the customer experience across all the brands, which is quite unique to a business model because we've got so many brands and so many different customer bases we need to cater to."

Building Slack into CX

For the Accent Group, Yanez-Olivares detailed how the retail business has overhauled its approach to CX to improve speed, efficiency and communication across the board. Using Slack, the business has changed its definition of CX to be about support but also sales.

“There were lots of communication gaps and we adopted Slack to help us improve that and make sure that everyone was comfortable as an internal communication platform. But it was not only for communications, but also to improve efficiency and productivity,” she explained.

“Now if you want to communicate with the customer experience, it’s used internally, and very soon we're going to start our journey to communicate with others externally."

Oscar health, a US health insurance company which built its own technology and personalised member experience, adopted Slack is part of its mission to change the way health insurance is delivered in the United States. It uses hyper-localised care teams that ‘own’ members issues from end to end, doing away with transferring queries and issues from team member to team member.

“Slack helps to improve the resolution speed greatly. With Slack, we embedded escalation pathways directly through it to help problem solving and resolve more member issues while on the phone while people are engaging with members,” said Burzacchi.

He explained how having a channel for communications is like creating a virtually way to turn a chair around and ask another team member’s input on something. “This agility really helped us drive some of our key performance indicators around accuracy and speed, which then hopefully improved engagement and trust,” he added.

Weaving CX into the organisational DNA

Finally, Slack’s Rayl pointed out how CX and support can shift from one-to-one communications to one-to-many communications and creating systems to share knowledge and information at scale is crucial to delivering on-point outcomes at speed.

“Today's customers are born into an experience-driven world, where differentiated, personalised service is a given,” she said. “Organisations that truly understand business success rests on superior customer experience, are finding ways to better unite all of their teams together around the customer."

Instead of pushing customer care to the edge of the business, CX-focused organisations are weaving support and service teams throughout the entire organisation, giving them the opportunity form a partnership with cross-functional teams. 

“It unlocks access to the unique departmental insights that are required both to fuel these experiences and to continuously supply critical customer signals back to the business," Rayl added.

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