Last week, we were excited to contribute to the conversation at CCW Digital’s online conference, Customer Experience Challenges, Trends, and Innovations. In case you missed it, we’ve recapped our session, Getting to Frictionless CX, below. Our session featured Dexter Horthy, VP Customer Success & Solution Engineering at Replicated, Frame AI CEO & Co-Founder George Davis, and Matt Wujciak, Market Research Analyst at Customer Management Practice.

Replicated has experienced incredible growth in the last few years. The company’s multi-prem software helps hundreds of customers deploy cloud-native applications inside end customers’ environments for greater security and control. Replicated’s winning customer experience has undoubtedly been a primary driver of their growth. Dex emphasized, “our customer experience is a big part of how we differentiate. We continue to invest in customer experience because we know that’s the best way for our customers to grow and succeed with us.”

At Frame AI, we help CX leaders at companies like Replicated measure customer experience with AI-driven scores for customer effort, team effort, and customer sentiment so that they can deliver frictionless experiences. Here are our top three takeaways from the session:

1. Investing in CX demands direct measurement.

A hallmark of Replicated’s customer experience is that they make their team an extension of the customer’s team. As more companies strive for deeper partnerships with their customers and make themselves accessible on multiple channels, their CX measurement frameworks are evolving, too. Directly measuring CX means identifying signals as they emerge in context, directly from the channels where companies interact with their customers.

George identified that “a common challenge stems from the fact that the traditional playbook for measuring CX is around transactional relationships. As a result, many companies are still relying on lagging indicators to understand how their customers feel. If you’re an innovative team like Dex’s that enjoys collaborative customer relationships, then you need to measure the actual experience you’ve invested in as it unfolds — not rely on an old-school proxy after the fact. At Frame AI, we encourage customers to shift from these lagging indicators to directly measuring what we call organic feedback— that’s everything that gets produced by the actual processes where you’re engaging customers. It’s about measuring how much time you spend with customers, what they’re saying about how they feel, and the outcomes that surface in the moment, not just after the fact.”

As companies continue to invest in multi-channel experiences, the volume of customer communications has skyrocketed. As a result, there are more opportunities than ever to directly measure customer experience by grounding critical metrics in organic customer feedback. Compared with the volume and contextual richness that organic customer feedback affords, surveys alone are no longer a sufficient CX measurement strategy.

Dex pointed out that “a problem with surveys is that not everyone is going to answer. What I know for sure is that customers are talking to us every day — these interactions are full of important signals.”

Dex described a “read-everything” instinct common among CX-focused companies seeking to satisfy a big appetite for customer feedback that surveys fail to fulfill. “Early on, we would try to read through play-by-plays of every single customer interaction.”

2. AI unlocks actionable insight CX teams need to reduce customer and team effort.

Forward-thinking CX organizations are embracing AI, and specifically, Natural Language Understanding technology (“NLU”) to satisfy the “read-everything” instinct and discover more detailed, more frequent insights than surveys can facilitate on their own. Using NLU is a highly effective way to analyze large volumes of unstructured organic customer feedback from multiple sources, and extract important signals.

George explained, “customers are talking to you more than ever, which gives you a constant stream of unfiltered feedback, instead of a few scattered touchpoints. Using NLU to synthesize that data gives CX teams strong signal, early and often — it’s granular, high-frequency, and can help teams anticipate changes in customer relationships and act accordingly to prevent unfortunate surprises.”

Measuring customer effort and team effort with AI-driven scores based on organic interactions results in detailed, nuanced metrics that consider multiple variables and multiple channels.

Dex counts AI as an essential component of Replicated’s customer experience strategy. Specifically, AI helps drive the company’s customer health scoring mechanism. “We use Natural Language Understanding to measure customer and team effort, as well as identify sources of customer frustration and friction. It tells us exactly where to focus, so we don’t have to read everything.”

Measuring both customer and team effort with AI also helps navigate the tightly intertwined relationship therein.

George clarified that “the employee experience ultimately creates the customer experience. It’s crucial to measure both and ensure that things that require high or low effort for new team members correspond to the company’s values. We often see that customer-facing teams are at the tail end of problems that arise across the customer journey. Clarifying what’s happening on your team is how you advocate upstream to ensure that the problems get solved where it’s most efficient, whether in Product, Marketing, or elsewhere. Improving CX isn’t always about more training or another knowledge base article — sometimes, it’s more about knowing exactly what’s causing difficulty both for the customer and internally.”

Another advantage of using AI to measure customer and team effort directly is navigating customers’ mixed emotions — customers don’t view their experience in binary terms as surveys often suggest. A customer could be mostly happy but suddenly endure a high-effort experience that companies should do their best to get ahead of, instead of waiting for that experience to rear its head downstream. Neutral survey ratings from “swing customers” can also be a byproduct of mixed customer emotions. AI allows CX teams to identify how to turn “swing customers” into promoters by identifying the moments when they express themselves.

3. AI-driven customer and team effort scores connect CX to business outcomes.

AI brings unprecedented clarity to CX metrics like customer and team effort. Dex noted that “when customer relationships change, it can be really hard to dig in and figure out why. But when we pull up the data behind our customer and team effort scores, we can actually identify and solve problems.”

Dex described how the AI-driven customer and team effort scores at Replicated play a central role in managing the daily dynamics of customer relationships and long-term strategic planning.

“We push our customer effort scores into Salesforce and Gainsight, and the scores are part of our overall customer health scorecard. The scores provide powerful signals for me as an exec and the individual Customer Success Managers and Technical Account Managers — they rely on the scores for insight about when and how to approach specific accounts. If you equip your team with the right tools, they get to be proactive instead of reactive. You don’t want them putting out a fire. Instead, you want them getting rid of the hazards three months before the fire starts.”

On a longer-term horizon, Dex emphasized that “team effort is a fundamental metric for headcount planning so we can accurately understand our cost of doing business. Before we had our team effort metric automated with Frame AI, I would spend days sorting through months and months of calendar invites and Slack conversations trying to compute how much effort we spent.”

Furthermore, the granularity and frequency of Replicated’s customer and team effort score allow Dex and his team to connect these metrics to high-level business outcomes. “Our ability to pull Board-level metrics like effort per proof of value, effort per customer, and map that to revenue and renewals so that we can start to figure out things like our cost of marginal revenue is really valuable.”

Check out the full video recording below for more. Thanks to Dex at Replicated for joining us and for CCW Digital for hosting a great discussion!