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Customer Service Strategy

Are you setting yourself up for success?

One of the brilliant things to come out of the convergence of the Telecoms and IT industries has been the opportunity for integration and interoperability of systems and platforms

From the early days of clunky cobbling together, the move to an open API philosophy and cloud first architectures is now enabling elegant SaaS solutions to be developed. At last, we are beginning to be able to deliver on the promises that the innovators in the Telco vendor space tried so hard to deliver but were just not ready to achieve. 
Written by Jude Mott

We are at a tipping point now

As a citizen of this converged Telco and IT world, I believe we are at a tipping point now where business can take full advantage of technology and master it, rather than be at its mercy. Cloud based platforms such as ServiceNow are where innovation is happening at an exponential rate and successful implementation and use of them offer a path to delivering on the promises the industry has been making to businesses over the last decade. 

There is no excuse for the Black Hole of doom now. Customer Experience is something customers have, not do. And this transcends across your entire business. It cannot start and end with your contact centre agent or whoever takes the call, answers your emails, or deals with you online presence in social media or webchat.  

While conversations have moved on from whether or why to invest in transformational projects, challenges are now centering around the how to achieve the desired outcomes.

Progress has been made

Read any article or blog about customer experience from the last few years and you’ll find hundreds of examples of how to improve the way your customers engage with you. 

Progress has been made and we’ve seen fabulous innovation in some sectors. New entrants taking advantage of cloud-based technologies and accompanying business models have propelled the adoption of new services which it’s difficult to imagine life before or without. 

The ease at which we can access and personalise entertainment, order products and services and share information and media files online has revolutionised our lives

However, when we transition to our business or professional personas, quite often the world doesn’t seem to be quite as rosy as it is when we are creating our personal Spotify playlists or lining up our Netflix View lists. As a long-standing product manager of B2B (Business to Business) in the Telecoms Service Provider world, this has bothered me and most of my esteemed colleagues for too long. 

Every Business Needs A Front Door

Every business needs to have some sort of “front door” or way in for eager customers, whether prospective or existing. The vast range of options for how that may look is not the subject of this article: but rather, what happens once your customer is at, or in that door. 

Paradoxically, the good news is that innovation in consumer SaaS products means we are much more able to articulate what bad looks like. The analogy of a customer query or their information disappearing into a Black Hole after being carefully entered verbally or digitally into the first capture system when “computer says no” is no longer acceptable to us as consumers and certainly not necessary for any business to endure.  

The influence of CSAT and NPS

Demands on business leaders to watch, measure and report on CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) or NPS (Net Promoter Score) weigh more heavily than ever in market conditions that are both dynamic and unpredictable. Forrester Research* found that post pandemic, 55% of customer service teams report an increased preference for interacting over digital channels and yet 50% of consumers say service has worsened since then.

In parallel with this, we are now in an era of employee power with contact centre agent attrition around 27%. According to a recent Call Centre Helper report** attrition is high risk, damaging to teams (culture) and works strongly against the ambition to develop high-performing teams. 

Add to the mix the need to keep costs down, improve brand awareness, fight to be heard in a crowded market, limit or reduce shadow IT that has mushroomed since 2020….and you truly have a perfect storm. 

But from intense pressure are made

The era of omni-channel is well and truly here, visit the website of successful financial services or retail service providers and you are likely to be met with a pleasing range of options for contacting you can choose according to how ready you are to commit.

Just browsing? You won’t do much more than look at the website, but you might want to look at FAQs on delivery times or payment terms. Back for a second look? At this point you might want to engage with the friendly chatbot that wants to be your friend and so you ask some specifics about the product you are interested in as you narrow down your options. Ready to make a purchase : when you place your order you will want confirmation that order has been received, placed correctly, and confirmation details – if this does not happen, and sometimes there might be a genuine technical glitch, you will expect to be able to escalate to a phone call and speak to someone to put things right – the experience you receive at that point is absolutely crucial.

Flipping back to you in work mode: supposing you are responsible for the NPS or CSAT in your organisation. First Contact Resolution (FCR) is replacing First Call Resolution as a key metric in measuring across every contact centre channel, so not limited to voice.

Chances are you are on a mission for better control and visibility of what is going on – you can’t measure what you can’t monitor. And if you can’t measure, it you certainly can’t improve it. Highly frustrating. 

Every department or functional area needs a clear understanding of your desired customer experience. Expectations to commit to a level of ownership need to be set at the top of the organisation. There is no one department or job role who can exclusively be tasked with it.  

Mapping Out The Routes

Mapping out the routes your customers can take when dealing with your business is something that is often overlooked – yet is a critical success factor.  

Putting yourself in their shoes in this way forces people to think about the interconnectedness of your business – and is a valuable first step towards identifying opportunities for business improvement. Some of these will be immediate no brainers, some might be expected with business growth, but some will be more fundamental and supply routes to genuine transformational change. 

Putting your customers at the centre of the service you supply enables better management of your business at a holistic level.  

Through being able to unify every part of your customer’s journey from first contact through to fulfilment or resolution, organisations can not only increase chances of customer loyalty, but can revolutionise operational efficiency. Where customer data can be captured, stored, shared, tracked, and kept in a standardised way, you can quickly begin to imagine the opportunities for automation not just of handing orders but for harnessing information that can be used for insights from both an operational and commercial perspective.

Data points about what your customers are contacting you about, how often, how quickly you resolved the matter, whether this was a repeat purchase, a return, what departments were involved etc enables fast and accurate pinpointing of opportunities for automation. Introducing simple self-service options or provision of access to more detailed technical information can remove customer frustration as well as free up your employees from repetitive and demotivating tasks. 

This is even better news for organisations when you consider how much decision making about which systems and tools to use has now devolved from sole ownership of IT through to a far more democratic approach. Business leaders from Marketing, Sales, People, Finance, Programme Management all are highly knowledgeable and clear on what they need and expect to enable their own business units.

Use of an enablement partner that can manage the operational design and implementation of your project provides a safety net for your initial delivery, but more than that, the right partner will extend this to user adoption helping ensure ongoing improvements and maturing of the benefits to your organisation.

In summary, there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in the assessment and selection of customer service management related technology solutions for your business. Ensuring you take the time upfront to engage your stakeholders and understand how, why, and what each of these contribute to your customers journey will ensure your investment provides a solid financial return and high levels of measurable satisfaction for both internal and external users.

*Forbes, 15 Stats About Post-covid Customer Service 14 March 2022
**Centre Helper, How Do Your Attrition Rates Compare? 2nd Feb 2023 

To find out how whyaye can support your organisation with digital transformation – and put a yay into your working day, contact us

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