May 19, 2020

How PwC uses technology to seamlessly automate customer experience

Nicholas Mobbs
Automation of customer experience
5 min
How PwC uses technology to seamlessly automate customer experience

“What do we really mean by customer experience?” says Nicholas Mobbs, partner at PwC.

The question emphasises the ever-widening scope of interaction that business now undergoes with customers, both in B2C and B2B environments. SMS, live web chat, social media and video have joined the more traditional methods of email and call centre communication between company and customer. Indeed, the call centre is now very much the omni-channel contact centre.

“What we try and do is govern and influence every single interaction between a company and their customers and make sure the touch points are positive,” Mobbs continues. “These are multiplying at such a massive rate and it’s possible to drown them with too much information.”

The need for effective automation of communication processes is thus clear, although the drive for efficiency needs to be delivered without losing the personal, human touch that many consumers value.

“You have to record where touch points happen, how customers are helped or not helped, and how they react to different interactions,” Mobbs adds. “The more data you can capture the more targeted you can be and the better you can provide services positively. It’s not possible to manage all of the channels in a manual way so automation is crucial, and this is where technology comes in.”


Ten years ago Mobbs co-founded Outbox Group, now an independent entity within PwC, specialising in the implementation of Customer Relationship Management systems such as Salesforce. The initial, and still important benefit of such systems was the enabling of effective management of calls by routing to the best-placed agent or providing automated responses where appropriate.

What customer engagement technology allows front office contact centre agents to do now is interact with customers via social media, phone, email, SMS, live chat and more, synching and presenting data on previous interactions, making them as well as equipped as possible to deal with a particular enquiry.

The benefits are obvious. Customers’ multichannel enquiries can be automatically routed to staff with the appropriate skillset (e.g. departmental, language) and most likely to provide an effective, positive response.

Outbox Group, working within PwC is an independent entity existing as a centre of excellence across the EMEA region for the professional services giant. “We are really pushing to become a leader in the front office technologies, because that is where there is the most change and innovation within companies,” Mobbs continues.

“The B2B providers are now trying to become B2C providers and B2C are trying to move into B2B and wholesale markets, meaning there is huge change that is forcing them to rework the whole way they support and run their customer-facing functions.”

In the cloud

The most significant development in the customer experience technology space has been the migration to the cloud. Rather than provide an on premise piece of hardware which requires heavy up-front and maintenance/renewal costs, a cloud host can significantly reduce barriers to entry.

Mobbs explains: “One of the biggest changes over the past 12-18 months has been this acceptance that cloud technology is in the front office. Cloud is now standard. If you look Salesforce it has really led the way and Microsoft is very resistant to selling their traditional on premise solutions – everything is Microsoft cloud.”

“You’re only paying for something when you actually need it, whereas previously you had massive upfront investment before the project had even taken off. Cloud is on demand, you pay for the capacity you use. This means the barrier to entry for small businesses is much, much lower because the need for in house IT expertise is vastly reduced. The technology is hosted and developed externally on the cloud by specialist providers.”

In an age of mass data sharing, security is a natural concern for businesses looking to swap on premise for cloud. Industry standards are extremely thorough and rigorous, with countless certifications required to yield customer data and payment information.

“There has been lots of discussion on privacy and security but over the past two or three years the resistance to cloud has been markedly reduced,” Mobbs says. “The problem for those still sceptical is that there isn’t really a viable alternative now.”

Leap of faith?

Research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) shows that while 73 percent see improved customer service as the biggest benefit of developing digital technology, a number of factors are cited as holding business back. The main factors include connectivity, an unclear return on investment and a lack of appropriate skills inside their company. Exploiting the cloud can certainly counter the latter.  

Outbox and PwC have already helped the likes of Sky, CBRE, Swiss RE and many SMBs enhance their customer experience operations through technology, all them with unique propositions and hurdles that have been overcome.

Mobbs’s conclusion is that, ultimately, the risk of technological change is vastly outweighed by not adapting at all. And now is a better time than ever before to make the leap. “The rate of change is constant and relentless and business enterprise software will have to keep pace. Everything eventually will be carried out on mobile or on the go. Applications will become richer and richer.

“It is a challenging time and some people are scared of change, and some of the bigger companies have lots of existing investments they need to write off over the coming years, so change for them is extremely demanding. However, most people use Google and Facebook on smartphones today, so if we can make applications that feel familiar adoption will be much easier – 10 years ago this simply wasn’t the case.”

Read the August 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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Jun 12, 2021

Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey

Roger Beadle, Co-founder & CEO...
6 min
Roger Beadle, CEO of Limitless looks at how CX can directly Influence revenue generation in streaming services

There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.

There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.

There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.

In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.

Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.

So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?

Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney

While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.

For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.

For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.

Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.

It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.

How do companies support the new customer journey?

More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.

These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.

The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?

For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.

It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.

And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.

It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.

At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.

About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.

About Limitless
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.

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