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Implementing Automation in your Contact Center? Read This First!


Published: Aug 24, 2018
Author: Erin Van Remortel


The following excerpt of an interview with Erin Van Remortel, Customer Experience (CX) Strategist at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, was conducted by Ryan Gaviria, Senior Analyst and Conference Director at the Customer Management Practice, who granted permission to repost much of the content of the original article.


As someone completely new to automation, where do you start?


Attend a conference, such as 2018 CX Automation, a great place to start!  Attend with the goal of listening to other companies that have been in your shoes and learn from their stories. Bring your IT, CX, Digital and Contact Center leaders to the conference or – at the very least – read back to this team the key takeaways from the conference to align these key stakeholders and gather support. Partner with these teams to tackle customer understanding and identify the journeys your customers engage with you on that involve simple and repetitive processes which could be improved upon. Start with those. Start small, pilot, iterate, measure and optimize before scaling.


What do you think are some of the biggest challenges customer experience professionals face with understanding or implementing automation?


The biggest challenges I see are:  deciding what processes or journeys to automate and identifying what technologies or vendors will deliver the outcomes you are looking for and how to define and measure the success of these initiatives.


What do you think professionals who are responsible for customer experience in their organization need to know most about automation?


I believe it is critical to perform a proper assessment of the process(es) you are looking to automate before you start the work – automating a broken process only delivers bad results, faster. Do the research required to really understand the existing (manual) process, how it performs and where/when it fails. Also, be sure you are giving your customer an easy exit route (to get to a human) if the automated process breaks or is just not delivering what your customer needs.


Would you say there is a high level of skepticism, and if so why?


Yes, there is definitely skepticism out there for three reasons.

1) The ownership of automation projects is fragmented. IT generally is involved because they are funding the technology investment, yet the processes being automated are often happening in, and defined by, the business – as these are the people that are executing the work today. Often there is a digital operations leader involved as well. All three of these groups are often in silos and do not talk to each other…which can result in skepticism and hesitation.

2) There are relatively few companies at a high level of maturity with their automation/bot strategy.

3) Security concerns are top of mind so there is skepticism around what new risks will be introduced.


What are a couple hot trends in automation right now?


The top two trends I see are chat bots and automation in the area of authentication or fraud detection.


With so many benefits to be had, what would keep CX professionals from implementing automation?


Cost and risk because of the difficulties associated with estimating ROI to secure funding and the uncertainty around security risks involved.


Tell us a little more about how BoTs  are a key component to your strategy at Verizon.


Our mission at Verizon is to deliver the promise of the digital world. With digital at the center of who we are and what we do, enabling our customers to engage with us digitally is very important. Our wireless business has been on a path to digital transformation for several years with our “Ask Verizon” digital assistant (chat bot) that was first introduced in 2015.


What do you believe is a “superior customer experience”?


A superior customer experience from my perspective is one that surpasses the customer’s expectation. Whatever it is that the customer needs/wants, it is delivered in a way that exceeds expectations in one or more of the three “Es” of CX:  ease, effectiveness and emotion.


Speed and efficiency in service is continuously brought up as critical for CX success in the context of Verizon’s service experiences, what does delivering superior customer experience mean to you?


Speed and efficiency are both incredibly important but I would argue that the human element should not be overlooked. How an experience makes a customer FEEL should always be considered when introducing automation. Verizon is always listening and analyzing customer feedback but particularly when we introduce new initiatives or change a customer experience/journey. We monitor feedback across multiple channels for sentiment and take quick action when opportunities emerge.

Learn more about providing the experience your customers deserve.

Erin Van Remortel is a certified customer experience professional and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt at Verizon Enterprise Solutions. As a Customer Experience Strategist, Erin partners with Verizon’s largest enterprise clients to articulate, design, and implement their customer experience strategy and vision.