What’s on CX Executives’ Minds Today?

A few months ago, I had a heart-to-heart with a friend who’s also in CX. Our topic du jour was how ironic it is that so many Customer Experience and Customer Support professionals are talking about how generative AI is this huge tipping point for their part of the business… and how few actually use it in a systematic and scalable way. 

I don’t say that with judgment. I say it because it makes me sad. I can’t tell you how many executives share that they need help when we talk one-on-one.

This lack of vulnerability in our industry is a missed opportunity.

CX needs to get real about AI

That conversation got me thinking, and eventually. Envoy decided to host a series of dinners for small groups of hand-picked CX executives. Conversation is specifically dedicated to getting real about the dumpster fires, real-life tests, and difficulties we’re all grappling with as we move into the era of intelligence-accelerated business operations.

Following are my top three takeaways so far from these discussions.

  1. Most CX professionals need help getting started with AI baby steps.

The reality is, CX is still a mess. Lots of legacy technology (ie: purchased over five years ago) still remains inside most organizations, and virtually none of it works together. 

Confusion abounds about how to remove the issues that plague agents and annoy customers, and the idea of layering AI on top of existing systems and processes is not just overwhelming. It’s also a bad idea. Executives don’t know where to start, and many are frozen.

The companies that are taking baby steps aren’t focusing so much on how everything comes together into one proprietary model that manages and tailors individual conversations and eventually becomes self-sustaining. Yes, such systems are poised to suggest products to buyers, uncover new revenue, and automatically reconfigure workflows to capture opportunities. 

The companies that are taking baby steps are doing just that, taking baby steps to:

  • Get the right people in the room across IT, Legal, GTM and more
  • Develop a few hypotheses and tests to vet them
  • Prove pilot business cases before ever thinking about how to walk or run.
  1. There’s much opportunity to leverage expert partners in the process.

Vastly divergent levels of maturity characterize CX in different businesses. Little standardization and few role models of what “good looks like” exist, and there are few consistent benchmarks outside of CSAT, which only tells the business so much. 

What this means for many is a continuous cycle of pushing CX transformation off “until later.” After we hire that new executive… after that new technology is set up… after yearly planning concludes. Sadly, some are already finding that such an approach has cost them their credibility, impact, and respect in the organization. 

Being nimble and agile, however, is serving the best CX executives well. Many have spoked about how they’ve outsourced their problems to expert partners who have deep experience in the technology ecosystem, know how to develop scalable solutions, and are familiar with their industries. 

Just because CX means solving customer problems effortlessly with immediacy and human warmth, doesn’t mean that the CX executives need to figure out their go-forward alone.

  1. Keeping in touch with our CX community is central to staying sane and moving forward with competence & confidence.

While everyone wants to harness the promise of AI, not everyone has the budget, technology, or influence to do so. And even those who have all three still lack proven roadmaps for success, since AI is so new. 

Many who attend our CXO dinners speak to the importance of staying connected with their peers. Several reported learning how to ask bigger questions in their CX communities:

  • What metrics really matter, and which can I sunset?
  • How many agents do we truly need?
  • Where can automation cut costs while maintaining or increasing performance?

Others mentioned specific AI pilots they’ve tried at the suggestion of their community, as well as how to avoid watch-outs, so they avoid expensive mistakes.

If nothing else, what I’ve been reminded during these dinners is that we all feel a certain relief when we can be real. And it doesn’t hurt that we’re getting great ideas while pursuing AI’s promise of seeing a revenue uplift of up to 15%.1

1 https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/ai-powered-marketing-and-sales-reach-new-heights-with-generative-ai