These days, it’s not enough for companies to offer quality products or services; they must deliver an exceptional customer experience. In fast-changing environments, continual innovation on the front lines of customer service requires an agile and nimble approach.
How important is the automation of development and monitoring for accelerating customer experience (CX) innovation? I recently posed this question to Dr. Nicole Forsgren, research and strategy expert at Google and former chief scientist at DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA). Her response:
“I would say that, today, this is almost just a given to operate effectively. DevOps is definitely more than tooling, but you can’t do it without strong technology solutions that provide automation, monitoring and visualization to people throughout the value chain. This gives visibility to key stakeholders, so you can ensure you are delivering value and your feedback loops are happening.”
This is not a simple concept to execute well. The diverse array of applications and systems that organizations deploy to engage their customers is complex and spans many different technologies, platforms and channels. Ensuring all those applications and systems work together seamlessly to enable customers to consistently accomplish their goals is a daunting challenge. What’s clear today is that how customers perceive their interactions with businesses, shapes brand loyalty.
It’s interesting then, that while most companies recognize the importance of providing an outstanding experience, many have yet to embrace an automated approach for the development of their CX applications. Those enterprises that have successfully accelerated their CX innovation share a common attribute: They have automated both the testing and monitoring of their CX development projects.
DevOps + CX = Faster Speed, Higher Quality, Fewer Failures
Customer-facing applications, such as call center technology, websites, SMS and even chatbots, are the central artery of customer experience. If these applications are not designed, built and deployed properly, it will be costly. To ensure success of CX innovation projects and reduce the risk associated with development/deployment, we must build solutions with testing and monitoring in mind, automate deployment and configuration, and use test data in production to accurately monitor variance from the design.
What’s holding your organization back? There are four important steps organizations can take to boost the speed and quality of CX software development, while reducing their failures.
1. Strive for automation, anywhere you can find it
Aim high—strive for 100 percent automation and take a creative approach to integrating different phases of development. Whether it’s JIRA, Bamboo, Udeploy, Cyara or any other technology that helps automate different parts of your software delivery life cycle (SDLC), have a vision that automates and integrates wherever possible. Success here will deliver smooth and seamless movement of work and deployments into various environments.
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of the feedback loop
In order to improve our CX, we must first understand what challenges customers are encountering right now. This requires real-time monitoring of the actual customer experience—but from the customer’s perspective, not from a hardware perspective, as is traditionally done. If you can monitor and measure customer interactions in the moment and capture them concisely, then you can channel this critical information back to business decision-makers, so changes can be implemented quickly. It’s one example of a feedback loop, and if you can repeat it over and over, you can significantly improve and refine your CX.
3. Take the time to reflect, align and improve
Instill a culture of learning and humility—not finger-pointing and blame. For example, I recommend teams adhere to well-defined Agile Retrospectives, a ritual that enables teams to create a continuous improvement culture in which they reflect on past experiences and define future actions. Retrospectives are only one of the many ways to instill an open-minded culture, constantly focused on improving collective capabilities.
4. Integrate business objectives and measurements with the technology side of the house
I see this as a two-way street. First, help ensure the technology teams understand the impact of their work and give them access to the metrics that are important to the business team, through regular progress reporting. Second, make sure the business team shares their goals and key objectives with the technology teams, rather than simply specifying a requirement. I think it’s important that developers and operations teams understand the business impact of success and failure—and, therefore, the importance of their work. This is a great motivator. Plus, more visibility and tighter integration with business objectives can also result in more creative problem-solving from the innovative thinkers on the IT side.
A Parting Thought: Find Your Anchors
The right decision or strategy is not always clear, but finding two or three pillars as your anchors can be clarifying during decision time. In the CX innovation space, I find two anchors are particularly helpful:
- The customers are the reason why we are in business. Are you prioritizing the end-customer experience in this decision? Are you improving it, understanding it better or measuring it more effectively?
- What is the business goal you’re aiming to attain? No matter how granular the technical change you’re making, there is almost always a business reason driving it from the top down. Do you know what that driver is? How, exactly, will your change move you closer to that business goal?