Exploring the journey from CX to BX and beyond

08 December, 2022

Customer service fantasies of the past have become realities, with paradigm shifts in the customer service landscape and a radical change in consumer behavior and expectations. Today, businesses are interacting with consumers, using advanced technologies, such as intelligent assistance, AI powered bots and augmented reality. They are rapidly journeying from focusing on customer experiences (CX) to the business of experience (BX).

Putting the spotlight on how the business of experience can be more holistic and allow organizations to become customer obsessed and reignite growth, Forbes India, in collaboration with ServiceNow, instituted an exclusive thought-leadership series titled ‘The COO Collective’. In the curtain-raiser episode, Sumeet Mathur - Vice President & Country Head; Sanjeev Singh – COO, Wipro and Aurobinda Nanda, President - Operations & Dy CEO, PES, Happiest Minds shared insights and the lessons they gleaned from their experiences of leading shifts from CX to BX.

While BX is built on the same business principles as CX, it involves a significant change in mind-sets. It requires putting the customer at the centre of the universe, as opposed to past practices, where the product or service was at the centre of how processes were designed. This requires a completely different perception and operating processes, delivery models and experience measurement mechanisms have to be designed accordingly.

Sanjeev Singh recounted, “At Wipro, we believe that an employee can belong to one of two groups –those who add value for the customer directly and, those who add value for those who add value for the customer. The focus cannot be only on people who add value for customers directly; it is also as important to ensure that people who are supporting them get supported and are seen as customers internally, within the organisation. Keeping this in mind, we follow a 4M approach to customer service which encompasses a new Model, Method, Machinery and Mind-set.”

That being said, managing the transition from CX to BX is also a crucial exercise, during which attention must be paid to various elements. For this transition to work effectively, the entire organization must gear up to understand the end customer’s needs. Aurobinda Nanda explained, “While the customer has to be at the heart of everything, within our organization, we try to understand our customers’ business so that we understand the customers that they are servicing. This means understanding the pain-points faced by our customers’ customers on a day-to-day basis, the kind of data that our customers are collecting from their customers, etc. This enables us to add more value and come up with new service lines or new value propositions, which we can then take to our customers.” He added that all in-house training programs are geared towards facilitating these initiatives.

With innumerable instances of customers being rerouted, multiple times between engineers, departments, etc., and the time to resolution being repeatedly reset, customer experiences of today can be frustrating. “This happens because companies have not invested in building a unified customer experience, right from the front office to the back office,” suggests Sumeet Mathur. However, this is changing fast within the current dynamics. Customer service and experience is no longer a priority only for a Chief Marketing Officer or Chief Sales Officer; it has been elevated to the level of the CEO and Board of Directors, so that the entire company’s organization power can be harnessed towards bringing the customer to the centre of the universe. Sumeet Mathur advises that companies need to invest in a single, unifying platform which helps them digitize their business processes end-to-end, breaking the silos within the organization, connecting different departments, connecting employees to customers and automating workflows so that customer-centricity is at the heart of not just the customer facing team but the entire company.

Clearly, the success of BX relies on the amalgamation of people, processes, technology and culture to drive operational excellence. Further, there are two sides to operational excellence – the ability of operational excellence to offer customers better experiences and, equally importantly, how it can be managed internally, within the organization to facilitate people who facilitate customers.

Within the organization, internal processes have to be run in a very streamlined manner, so that they first create high quality experiences for employees. The experts on the panel were in consensus that employees who deal with customers have to be treated like customers themselves, at some level. If they are satisfied with the processes, they pass on the same level of satisfaction to customers. Essentially, streamlining processes so there is no friction enables employees to enjoy enough mental bandwidth to take care of customers.

In reality, implementing a transition comes at a substantial cost, in terms of investment, as is not a retrofit but rather an overhaul. When an enterprise is trying to bring in the business of experience, it is always concerned about the final RoI that BX will deliver. Accordingly, enterprises must consider how to create a budget for it and how RoI will get delivered. This is true across all functions, be it sales, engineering or other supporting functions.

Experience breeds trust and a positive experience goes a long way in that direction. When an organization starts with an experience-first mind-set, there are obvious financial benefits that will accrue due to harnessing newer markets and newer customer bases. Beyond these, partners, third party providers and the entire ecosystem enjoys the fallouts of BX. As a result of all these changes, an enterprise enjoys better RoI, customer retention, customer quality, etc. with an experience-first business model.

Before concluding, the panelists shared their views on BX techniques and how to get it right; the relevance of investing in creating the right innovation for the experience of the customers; the need to align the goals of employees with the organization to elicit the right outcomes and the importance of mind-set and culture in achieving the right results.

They advised enterprises to pursue ‘customer obsessiveness’ as the key guiding light, institute measurement and accountability, bringing in the right set of technologies and train people. They also emphasized the need to identify end-to-end business processes that impact a customer and ensure that these are digitized. Most importantly, they advocated innovation through collaboration and converting good intentions into solid operational excellence, which can deliver a frictionless experience and bring greater value to customers. They agreed that although businesses have begun moving from CX to BX, there are many miles to go.