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CHANGE OR DIE: Your Customers Won’t Wait for You – Is Your Brand Keeping Up?

Updated: Mar 4

THE GREAT DISCONNECT

“We’ve seen 5-10 years’ worth of digital technology acceleration and adoption in the last six months.” This was a familiar battle cry from numerous CX research analysts and consultancies in late 2020, as COVID literally forced brands to think and operate differently, with a digital- and customer-first mindset, in order to survive and thrive. The mandate was clear: Change or die.



Fast-forward ahead only three years to November 2023, and I heard this simple but very telling (and concerning) quote from a leader at a CX conference: “While technology continues to evolve and improve at a breakneck pace, with consumers adopting it rapidly, contact centers haven’t changed much at all in the last 30 years.” 

 

So while consumers continue their journeys forward, with rapidly changing behaviors, experience preferences, and expectations around how and why they choose one brand over another, most brands have backslid to their old habits of operating traditional contact centers in traditional ways to deliver last-mile CX – that is, largely Human capital-intensive, and primarily voice-based. This disconnect and misalignment between customers and brands is especially troubling and dangerous today, against the backdrop of what we refer to as the ‘New AI Revolution,’ powered by the massive (and continuously accelerating) advances in large language models (LLMs) that power the latest generation of self-service Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions.  In short, AI has changed the game for customers, and most brands are already behind the curve in this Revolution.  So again, brands find themselves at a COVID-like crossroads:  Will you change or die?

 

THE NEW UTILITY & NORM-BUSTING

While much has been written about the promise of AI over the last decade, it’s fair to say that the results of the first- and second-generation AI solutions (e.g., ‘chatbots’) have been inconsistent, and in many cases disappointing, from both the business and customer perspectives. Over the last year, that narrative has changed drastically for customers, as they have played and experimented with LLM-based AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, to find great value across numerous use cases in their daily lives.  This has in turn greatly informed their brand experience preferences and demands, as indicated by a few critical data points:

 

  • 67% of customers prefer it, vs. speaking to a Human (ZenDesk primary research)

  • 91% of customers would use an online knowledge base, if it were tailored to them (ZenDesk primary research)

  • 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better brand experience (The Temkin Group)

 

It’s worth emphasizing the narrative-changing, customer-led adoption of AI tools, as briefly noted above – as this has huge implications for brands as they consider their path forward at the ‘change or die’ crossroads.  It’s also not an exaggeration to state that this mass adoption has truly turned AI into a ubiquitous customer utility, as evidenced by Andreessen Horowitz’s (a16z) excellent consumer research in this space.  For quick comparison purposes, popular AI apps like ChatGPT and Quora both rank in the top 20 of mainstream consumer products/platforms based on monthly visits and usage – with similar traffic to far more established sites like LinkedIn, Reddit, and Netflix. 

 

Yet, while LLMs have gained widespread adoption to help consumers navigate their daily lives with an AI ‘co-pilot,’ using them effectively and efficiently in a CX and contact center environment remains challenging.  This is a challenge that must be solved if brands hope to keep up with their customers.

 

CHANGE OR DIE:  A MINI TOOLKIT

While we see the ‘Great Disconnect’ as highly concerning and consequential for brands in their CX journeys and strategy, we also see incredible excitement, hope, and potential in the ‘New Utility & Norm-Busting’ – for brands that choose to think and act differently in this New Normal.    And while change is hard, we offer a mini toolkit as authored by Alan Deutschman in his visionary book, Change Or Die.

 

As Alan articulates, there are three (3) keys to change:  (1) Relate, (2) Repeat, and (3) Reframe.  For CX leaders, you can think about these in the following ways to hopefully gain clarity on, and accelerate, your AI journey to shrink the Disconnect gap.

 

RELATE - You form a new, emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope.

  • CX Leader Translation:  What does your end-to-end CX (and EX) look like right now?  Are you clear on where the customer and employee journeys are falling down and creating specific pain points and/or moments of delight (especially around self-service and AI opportunities)?


REPEATThe new relationship helps you learn, practice, and master the new habits and skills that you’ll need.

  • CX Leader Translation:  Driven by ‘Relate,’ where can you start to test and experiment with AI in specific areas?  Which journeys and/or contact reasons are most suited for it?  The contact center is a great place to start.


REFRAMEThe new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation.

  • CX Leader Translation:  Driven by the ‘Relate’ and ‘Repeat’ motions, your iterative learnings will start to truly transform your brand and operating model, throughout the customer journey.  Specifically, AI use cases and the overall value proposition will vary across brands and industries, but the ongoing ‘Relate’ and ‘Repeat’ cycles will serve to Reframe your CX over time.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS…

Customers’ demands and expectations will only continue to evolve and accelerate with more technology advances (AI and otherwise), creating consistent pressure for brands to be more agile and customer-centric in their CX strategies and operating models.  Brands that think strategically and creatively about change and the numerous applications for AI across their business – from CX to sales to training to data/analytics and beyond – will be the winners in the race to win customers’ loyalty.  At Full Potential Solutions, we aim to help brands win as their most trusted, CX innovation partner.


About Full Potential Solutions:

Full Potential Solutions empowers companies to forge more profitable customer relationships by applying a values-based and technology and data-driven approach to everything we do. Unlike other service providers promising better services at ever cheaper costs, Full Potential Solutions puts our people first to achieve breakthrough client results.  Our thriving team and AI-driven solutions reduce customer acquisition costs and expand lifetime value for many of the world’s leading customer-first brands.

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