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        Keith Dawson's Analyst Perspectives

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        The 2024 Market Agenda for CX: The Steady Rollout of Gen AI

        Ventana Research recently announced its Market Agenda in the expertise area of Customer Experience. CX has emerged as a way for enterprises to demonstrate value and stand out in the marketplace. The technology underlying modern CX is transitioning from tools that are based on communication to those centered on data analysis and process automation. No technology has had as dramatic impact as quickly as Generative AI, which has upended the industry. It allows enterprises to build great experiences and reap the benefits in customer loyalty and value but also forces them to reckon with the complexity and disruption that technologies like AI and automation bring. 

        CX ensures consistency with a customer’s engagement and interaction. There are many stakeholders in a CX program outside of service including marketers, sales teams, e-2024_VR_Market_Agenda_Logocommerce teams, back-office workers and IT departments. Aligning these professionals toward common enterprise goals enables successful CX planning and technology development. 

        As we begin 2024, we encourage enterprises to invest in building internal structures to make it easier to orchestrate solid, beneficial experiences. It is important to view CX broadly with emphasis on the agent experience and the development of analytic best practices that guide workers across teams. Everyone who is responsible for influencing customer behavior contributes to CX. We recommend adding AI to the contact center toolkit, but in a measured way that ensures proper ROI and guardrails.  

        We believe that the best CX is derived from a combination of analysis of customer behavior and intent, two-way omnichannel communication and a workforce that is engaged at all levels in guiding customers to their desired outcomes. Customer experiences can be enriched through deployment of applications that provide a unified view of all interactions, supporting a well-defined and visualized customer journey and enabling more efficient operations.  

        Our CX Market Agenda is guided by our firm’s expertise in business requirements and our knowledge of software providers and products. Through our ongoing market research, we offer insights and best practices to help both line-of-business managers and IT teams across industry verticals reach their maximum potential. Our Value Index assesses software providers’ potential to meet enterprises’ CX needs with tools that function across departments. Our Customer Experience expertise area includes six topic areas: Agent Management, Contact Center, Field Service, Customer Experience Management, Voice of the Customer and Intelligent Self-Service 

        In 2024, we are expanding our focus on the convergence of advanced technology at the first point of customer entry — the self-service environment. When customers have access to knowledge resources and tools that direct them to contextually relevant information, they emerge more satisfied and loyal. If they need to speak with a person as a follow-on to self-service interactions, the experience is better, thanks to both parties being more prepared. CX suites that provide both applications and platforms to deliver an automated, continuous and unified set of processes and workflows help enterprises manage customer interactions and experiences across any channel or system.  

        Agent Management 

        Agent management includes processes and applications that enable agents to engage customers and deliver the best possible experience through intelligent and automatedVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_AgentMgmt_GenAI_Replaces_Evaluations_59_S interactions. Technology is now available to enable efficient and effective collaboration among agents and managers with tools that range from coaching and learning to the optimal scheduling and performance of work. These applications increasingly make use of conversational and mobile computing technology to automate and simplify tasks. Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) provide agents with qualitatively better interaction support.  

        It is essential that enterprises provide agents the best possible operational environment to improve customer experiences. For many, the demands of the pandemic have changed cost calculations related to agent populations. Many contact centers are wrestling with increasing budgetary demands for training and coaching due to the rigors of managing work-from-home agents and the increasing complexity of agented interactions.  

        Among the technology shifts we are tracking is the use of AI in new and old contexts: creating knowledge resources that are pushed to the agent in real time during interactions, for example, or using AI to evaluate all of an agent’s interactions for quality. By 2027, GenAI technology will substantially replace manual performance evaluations for contact center agents. 

        Contact Center 

        The contact center is the locus of engagement with customers regardless of the customer’s channel or device preference. Effective contact centers unify all channels of interaction through common data and consistent guidance. Effectiveness also increasingly requires the use of conversational computing, virtual assistants and digital self-service capabilities.  Enterprises must embrace cloud computing to provide agile interactions across channels of engagement. Our Contact Center Buyers Guides will be updated in 2024 to help enterprises assess and select software providers and products that are the best fit.  

        Customer Experience Management 

        One recent trend in CX has been the gradual switch from point solutions addressing narrow aspects of the process to a broader suite approach that knits together multiple, siloedVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_CXMgmt_Increased_Tech_Spend_37_S applications affecting different departments. Voice and digital interactions have spawned their own slightly different market segments with the ultimate goal to produce a single family of applications within an enterprise that can slice data into different views depending on the role of the user. Customer experience management tools sometimes originate from contact center software providers with a focus on interaction handling, and sometimes from the marketing side, where they focus on audience creation, personalization and behavioral analytics. Through 2027, two-thirds of enterprises will increase their spending on technology to integrate operations and processes between sales, marketing and service, aligning departments to organizational goals.    

        In 2024, we are planning an update to our Customer Experience Management Buyers Guide with an added look at knowledge management and customer journey management tools.  

        Intelligent Self-Service 

        Our focus on automated self-service considers the rapid expansion of conversational AI systems that capture an increasing portion of customer contact volume. By 2028, most customer communications, both inbound and outbound, will be created and overseen by conversational AI systems. We will look at how enterprises move past standard interactive voice responses to more sophisticated systems that contain knowledge applications, transaction processing and customer histories to control service costs. 

        Automated self-service is the technology used at the front-end of a customer interaction to either route the contact to the appropriate resource or to handle some or all of the customer’s inquiry on its own. Systems can be built around chatbots, may incorporate AI/ML and increasingly rely on complex automated workflows to gather information or pass the interaction to the next stage while retaining appropriate context. 

        Field Service 

        When a customer service call leads to an onsite visit from a technician, delivery of good experiences becomes more complicated and expensive. Transmitting information from oneVentana_Research_2024_Assertion_FieldService_Unique_Industry_Tech_45_S party to another — from a retailer to an installer to a technician — can be error-prone, especially when the handoff is from one company to another. Field service tools manage the process of dispatching and tracking technicians, ensuring that, when they arrive at the customer’s site, they have the appropriate data and equipment necessary to complete the service call.  

        Field service has attracted considerable attention from software providers in recent years as many try to integrate this aspect of the service process into communication and analytic infrastructures. There are also significant differences in the nature of service delivery. I assert that by 2028, technology for field service management will become differentiated based on the varied needs of specific industries, and of B2B and B2C use cases. We will be looking at the trends and IoT best practices surrounding field service during 2024.  

        Voice of the Customer 

        Voice of the customer processes and applications use feedback and sentiment along with analytics and AI to develop a unified view of the customer to enable improvement efforts. It is clear that an effective VoC program requires a solid foundation of data and analytics. I assert that by 2026, more than one-half of enterprises will use customer feedback data to enhance personalization of service and sales. Enterprises should prioritize investments that will yield continuous insights on customer sentiment.  

        Subscribe to our Ventana Research community to stay up to date on our 2024 research efforts. Explore our Customer Experience expertise and topic areas for a detailed research agenda and continuously updated 90-day calendar as well as more research facts and best practices. 

        Regards,

        Keith Dawson

        Authors:

        Keith Dawson
        Director of Research, Customer Experience

        Keith Dawson leads the software research and advisory in the Customer Experience (CX) expertise at Ventana Research, now part of ISG, covering applications that facilitate engagement to optimize customer-facing processes. His coverage areas include agent management, contact center, customer experience management, field service, intelligent self-service, voice of the customer and related software to support customer experiences.

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