Sid BanerjeeSid BanerjeeOctober 9, 2019


It can be easy to think of customer experience programs as one homogenous aspiration for organisations, but with a little probing, what often emerges are two discrete types of programs: analytical, and operational CX.

In both cases, CX professionals will use operational data (such as customer attributes, financial data, product data) along with customer interactions, feedback, and social conversations, plus agent and employee feedback, to understand and improve the Customer Experience. Programs are designed to help understand and improve experiences and drive financial or market advantages to the company. But there are significant differences between the two approaches.

Analytical CX

Analytical CX programs are often outgrowths of traditional customer insights, market research, or even agency-led initiatives designed to look for specific answers to specific questions about the customer. Analytical CX programs typically display these attributes:

1. Analytical CX is project based

A project has a discrete objective, desired outcome, and deliverable designed to answer a specific type of question about a product, a service, a marketing campaign, or a customer service initiative. Often the project is timed to a strategic initiative about to be taken or underway.

2. Analytical CX is driven by hypothesis-testing, scientific method approaches

A customer insights analyst might want to test assumptions about customer affinity to a new product. Or hypothesise on the reasons a website is or isn’t meeting customer needs. Using customer feedback, surveys, social content, or conversations, that analyst will test his hypothesis, adapt it if it fails, and iterate until proving or disproving the theory.

3. Analytical CX is performed by analysts or data scientists

This is typically done in a dedicated customer experience function, or by marketing, operations research, or even IT personnel whose day job is to live in the data and analyse it. These are people fluent in many types of research, comfortable with advanced tools, and with wrangling data from diverse sets, often on a whim, to answer the pressing question of the day.

There is a home for Analytical CX in most large organisations. As businesses become more complex, data becomes more diverse, dynamic and increasingly more unstructured, analytical CX professionals provide the technology, tools, and process skills to answer the strategic questions of the day.

Operational CX

Operational CX programs, by contrast, are designed to help organisations manage their own performance to achieve operational goals, business improvement goals or successful transformation goals. Operational CX programs typically display these characteristics:

1. Operational CX programs are ‘always on’ because businesses are always on

They are visible to employees for whom analysing data isn’t a full-time job, but for whom receiving insights to drive continuous improvement and performance to goals is valuable and useful both personally and organisationally.

2. Operational CX programs go through long-term evolution

Just as performance objectives evolve and as business practices and customer interaction channels evolve, Operational CX programs evolve but it is measured in quarters and years, not days and weeks.

3. Operational CX programs aren’t projects with a start and end

They’re initiatives that persist until goals are achieved, and then often persist further to ensure goals are maintained.

Typical CX goals that are aligned to operational CX programs would include:

    • Increasing customer satisfaction, or NPS scores
    • Reducing churn
    • Achieving and/or maintaining product quality, and competitive differentiation
    • Streamlining support procedures to improve first call resolution, increase contact centre deflection from high cost to low cost channels, or to maximise utility and capability of newer support channels such as self-service, mobile apps, or online chat, chatbot, and messaging clients
    • Driving increases in marketing outcomes like brand equity, loyalty, or market awareness
    • Driving increases in sales outcomes like rep sales achievement, or improving sales organisational performance
    • Reducing product safety, financial or regulatory risk

 In an Operational CX paradigm – regardless of the type of outcome an organisation is aiming to achieve – the program is structured using a programmatic approach:

  1. Outcome measures are established (NPS, call centre performance metrics, sales goals)
  2. Input drivers are collected from operational, feedback, and conversational sources. Typically input drivers would include cost information, performance characteristics of agents, sales reps, calls, and most importantly, conversational attributes and feedback attributes extracted from call transcripts, surveys, social conversations, chats, chatbots, and more.
  3. Where needed – input drivers, if contained within unstructured sources such as calls, transcripts, text, etc, are extracted and tagged using text analytics solutions designed for such purposes.
  4. Lastly – reports, and dashboards, based on performance management best practices and templates, are created and disseminated across the organisation to provide performance feedback to staff, management, and executives. These dashboards provide a feedback mechanism so that staff can identify ways to improve to achieve outcomes, and provide management tools to help management and executives manage their teams to achieve their goals.

 To drive CX maturity in an organisation, it’s often easier to start with an analytical approach, but sustainable cultural alignment to CX best practices, and more importantly financial return on CX initiatives (through saving money, improving loyalty, or reducing risk) is most likely to come from an Operational CX approach.

Sid BanerjeeSid BanerjeeOctober 16, 2018


If it helps to increase business exposure and connect directly with the target audience, why wouldn’t brands want to engage with their customers on social media?

Done well it has the power not only to boost levels of engagement but also to improve the quality of that engagement and resolve issues quickly.

So, how do brands ensure they are using social in the best way possible and creating a recipe for social customer care success? There are a number of key ingredients.

The first element is to listen everywhere. It would be a mistake to depend on a single channel, or just a small part of the internet. It’s crucial to engage often, and the best way to do this is by using technology to understand how and where a sincere interest in engagement can be initiated. Then go ahead with it.

Brands must make sure they consistently process all interactions, suggestions, ideas, market trends, and competitive insights. They can then build an always-on view of their customers by tracking, trending, alerting, and acting on insights even for those customers they are not already engaged with.

Innovation is bringing new and exciting opportunities to the world of social customer care, not least with the application of deep learning and AI technologies. We can now gain much greater insight into online conversations and topics and understand how questions are being answered and challenges are being met.

This insight helps brands to react to both threats and opportunities. AI is playing a key role too in identifying and connecting with customers via social media, predicting how best to respond to them, to enhance the timing and content of these responses and ensure customers feel listened to and understood.

In the future, it’s highly likely that an increasing number of conversations via social media will be human to machine, and whether we are comfortable with this progression or not, the machines will be smart, empathetic, and responsive enough to bring about unprecedented efficiencies and improved engagement for the brands that make use of them.

There is a difference between social customer service and social media management, of course. Social media management is really about curating the brand across the different social channels, understanding the equity, attachment, and loyalty customers have to the brand and tracking these concepts with metrics, reports, and models that identify who, why and how customers respond to that brand. It’s market research and customer insights applied to social media.

Social customer service by contrast is the next evolution of the customer services call line or call centre. Managing customers has moved on from the days when a call agent waited on the end of a phone line to resolve any issues.

Companies today use social media, messaging, self-service forums, knowledge bases, email, chat, chatbots, and telephone calls to support customer service. Good customer service now is across multiple channels and has become an important, public facing route for helping to connect customers to companies to answer a wide range of questions, solve their problems, and help drive positive outcomes.  It’s about not just listening, but engaging with customers on whatever social channel they choose to use. 

It’s not just artificial intelligence that will forge change in the years to come. Another important development is smart voice appliances like Alexa and Google Home. These gadgets are now in homes, in phones, in cars and they are set to disrupt all the familiar ways that we currently communicate using a keyboard.

It won’t be unusual for customers to talk more and tap, swipe or type a lot less on screens and keyboards. Social media and social customer service will increasingly become verbal and audible, not just text based.

There are some technologies that may not stand the test of time and one of these is likely to be typewritten chatbots. They are simply an intermediate step before we move on to audiobots, or audible human-to-machine interfaces.

Most brands are experiencing great success with their social media and social customer service activities, some are well known for it, but the bottom line is that if it is implemented in the right way, with the right technology and staff that are trained to maximise the many benefits it offers, it can be hugely rewarding for both customers and the brand.

To illustrate this, a short personal experience. A while ago I was travelling on a Virgin Train out of London for a meeting with a customer. As I left the train and walked down the platform I realised I’d left my backpack which contained my computer and passport, above my seat. I had a flight back to the USA later that day and without my backpack I was stranded. 

The train had already left the station, but a Virgin Trains station manager was able to communicate with the train engineer, who passed my backpack on at the next station to a train heading back to London. I retrieved my pack when I returned to the station after my meeting.  I offered to tip the stationmaster, but he said: “No worries, it’s my job. Just tweet about it!”

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