Avoiding the five hidden pitfalls of DIY customer experiences

Johannesburg, 08 Feb 2021
Read time 4min 00sec
David Ardman, Senior Vice-President of R&D and Conversational AI, Nuance Communications
David Ardman, Senior Vice-President of R&D and Conversational AI, Nuance Communications

In the world of customer experience, agility is key. Those companies who succeed are able to understand what works for their customers and build on that, while at the same time, identifying roadblocks and moving to quickly eliminate them.

In the drive to adapt quickly to market trends, companies are increasingly adopting a more DIY strategy as they attempt to cater for a world where customers will abandon an interaction at the first sign of inconvenience. In this environment, few enterprises have the appetite to wait for vendors to build or make changes to vital CX applications.

This DIY approach has been made possible by the continued drive towards increasingly cloud-native applications leveraging the power of APIs to speed integration between services.

Nuance’s Senior Vice-President of R&D and Conversational AI, David Ardman, explains that this allows companies to bring together best-in-class technologies from multiple vendors.

“Of course, there are still many challenges to overcome to align these technologies with your architecture and strategy, but it’s certainly far easier than it’s ever been to choose ‘build’ over ‘buy’.”

Caution: Hazards ahead

He adds that this isn’t a simple exercise, as making DIY work is less about the ability to access third-party services and more about accessing the right services.

“Often, the control and flexibility you get from a DIY approach comes at the expense of the speed and quality that customer experience programs demand,” he says. “What’s become very clear over the past several years is that a great customer experience demands a great design and development experience.”

He comments that there are five key areas that organisations embarking on this journey need to take into account:

1. There’s no substitute for expertise

Creating an advanced conversational experience isn’t easy, and it’s essential that the services that form part of your solution are backed up by the in-depth support needed to deliver them.

“Our customers have told us that they don’t have all the expertise they need to develop advanced customer experiences in-house, and they find some skills – such as conversational design expertise – are expensive and difficult to hire.”

Bridging this skills gap needs to be part of the conversation from day one, not something that only gets dealt with when problems arise.

2. Poor collaboration slows time to value

With most DIY tools and platforms, there’s no simple way for non-developers to collaborate with developers on a project. That lengthens the software development life cycle, slowing down time to market and value generation.

“For organisations looking to accelerate their delivery of new customer experiences, investing in tools that allow all parties to collaborate seamlessly is critical,” he says. “You need a single platform that gives your team access to the tools that allow everybody involved in the project can collaborate quickly and effectively.”

3. More channels = more work

In a typical DIY set-up, replicating customer experiences across multiple channels, such as deploying a virtual assistant on your IVR platform, dramatically increases the amount of work needed.

“With omnichannel environments a critical part of ensuring superior customer satisfaction, investing in a platform that allows you to replicate work done in one area across multiple channels results in a reduction in effort and faster ROI,” Ardman says.

4. Deployment models are too rigid

He points out that when companies rely on cloud vendors for their DIY tools, they’re often constrained by where the services are hosted. “It’s their way or the highway, which puts unnecessary constraints on your technology strategy,” he says. “And a good technology strategist always likes to keep their options open.”

5. Core technologies are more entry-level than enterprise-grade

He adds that with most DIY conversational AI tools on the market, even the best designers and developers will only ever create simple experiences such as basic FAQ chatbots.

“Those simple bots can be useful, absolutely, but differentiated customer engagement depends on enterprise-grade applications. To meet customer expectations for natural, conversational experiences, the technologies behind your apps need to be the industry’s finest.

“The success or failure of DIY projects is dependent on understanding the risks associated with the model,” he says. “Done right, it provides companies with agility and flexibility, enabling them to move quickly to address customer concerns. Done wrong, it can tie companies into inflexible architectures that constrain their ability to deliver real value to the business.”