How to Design More Human Customer and Employee Experiences in the Age of AI

July 10, 2017

As digital business and intelligent systems proliferate, we cannot forget the human connections essential to an organization’s longevity and growth—the personal relationships that make business possible. How can we align this influx of digital channels, bits, and bytes with authentically human customer and employee experiences?

Seema Jain, Director of Customer Experience, and practice lead of Bluewolf Align™, an offering that drives consensus around how to design valuable customer and employee experiences with Salesforce, discusses her approach for creating more human customer experiences in the age of Augmented Intelligence (AI).

What is your role at Bluewolf?

I direct Customer Experience Design & Strategy at Bluewolf and am responsible for the sales and delivery of our Align offering. This includes delivering engagements to clients and supporting our project and sales teams where appropriate. In less technical terms, I like to think of my role as a steward of customer experience. I help clients solve business problems with a human-centered methodology.

What inspired you to create the Align service?

Historically, many clients have approached technology innovation from a feature and function perspective. Align takes a very different approach.

Bluewolf’s focus during an engagement is to design experiences that connect to customers and employees while delivering on business goals. As Steve Jobs said, we “must start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology, not the other way around.”

I saw firsthand how commonplace it was for a company to be out of touch with its customers’ experiences as well as the employee pain points delivering those experiences. It’s not uncommon for an organization to implement CRM with the hope it will magically solve their problems, but without a strategy or clear understanding of how it will impact the customer and employee experience.

We created Align to help our clients understand their end-to-end customer experience and learn where inefficiencies occur internally from a people, process, and technology perspective.

How does your team approach the relationship between Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX)? Why is it so important that both have a place in a business transformation with Salesforce?

It’s critical for businesses to evaluate their customer experience to understand where their customers are dissatisfied or when their needs are not being fulfilled. However, customer experience is only half of the equation. Organizations need to look deeper to uncover the businesses processes, teams, or systems that inhibit a positive customer experience.

At Bluewolf, we talk about employee engagement as the leading indicator of customer experience. Since Gallup first started tracking employee engagement in 2000, the average rate of workplace engagement has never risen above 35%. Let me repeat—in 17 years, less than one-third of all US employees have been engaged in their work.

How can we expect disengaged employees to engage customers? It’s a non-sequitur.

And this isn’t just our opinion. Data has shown us that CX and EX are tightly connected. In February, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace reported that companies that rank in the top 25% for employee engagement boast 10% higher customer ratings. It’s a virtuous cycle of engagement that needs to be a part of every discussion about Salesforce, CRM, and business transformation.

If I could give one piece of advice to every organization looking to improve their customer experience, it would be to start with employee engagement.

What is unique about your team’s process for uncovering a client’s CX or EX pain points and developing solutions to meet those problems?

We tie everything we do to measurable business outcomes—cost reduction, new customer acquisition, customer relationship growth, and/or improved customer retention.

In an Align engagement, we work with our clients to develop a core business strategy with Salesforce, complete comprehensive customer and employee journey mapping, develop journey analytics that map the customer journey with value metrics, and ideate and solution based on the pain points and opportunities we discover together. Every activity ties back to the core business goals that we define with our clients.

We are also incredibly human-centered; everything that we do is focused on people and empathizing with human experiences in order to help our clients better serve their customers and their employees.

Tell me about the greatest client CX or EX transformation you’ve seen at Bluewolf.

We recently worked with a large healthcare provider. Members were having issues receiving their ID cards on time and were unable to render medical services for 3-4 weeks because of the delay in receiving the ID card. It was clear that members were unhappy, which led to a decrease in customer satisfaction, retention, and customer lifetime value. However, the business was unclear about where they should start in order to fix this issue. This is a very common situation: the business knows there is a serious problem, but has no idea where to focus resources to make the greatest difference.

Upon mapping the employee experience, we discovered that there were multiple processes and systems, including a 3rd party printing vendor, used to issue the ID cards. Data was not being transmitted between the various tools, causing massive bottlenecks.

Bluewolf recommended integration of the disparate systems and instituted a mobile app, which gave members 24/7, real-time access to the critical information on their ID cards and the ability to leverage healthcare benefits immediately.

What is the role of AI in CX and EX and why it is important? How does it help an organization provide a more human customer experience?

Customer engagement relies on data. Data holds critical insights into customer expectations, interactions, and needs. The challenge is how to consume and manage all this data to extract key insights.

Augmented Intelligence (AI) is the key—it unlocks insights to create better experiences, all while enabling employees to take the next best action.

Today, 80% of data is unstructured. Examples of unstructured data include social sentiment, photography and video, writing and textual analysis, emails and customer complaints tracked in Salesforce, data from 3rd party vendors, etc. AI is the ultimate competitive advantage as it can analyze and process all that unstructured information into structured and usable data to provide a richer profile of the customer while providing actionable recommendations for how to address their needs.

If we know the customer—their motivations, their pains, their behaviors—we can really get in their shoes, empathize with their needs, and serve them more effectively.

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