Four Fundamentals for Service Simplification

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MazeThe fundamentals of good customer service haven’t changed, but rising volumes, multiple product offerings, and the proliferation of customer channels and devices have created the business challenge of simplifying customer interactions and creating one-to-one experiences.

The rapid growth and expansion of service functionality and channels have left many companies with organizational, infrastructure and data silos, which lead to disjointed experiences and frustrated customers. The side effect of frustrated customers is lower customer loyalty, higher customer churn, diminished revenue opportunities, higher costs-to-serve, and customer detractors who can damage a company’s brand.

Customers and corporations are yearning for service simplification. Customers have reached a tipping point of frustration from being tossed aimlessly around an IVR menu, and being subjected to long hold times. Customers desire simple yet authentic conversations, and are seeking consistent interactions across different channels, such as the Web, chat, and social.

The repercussions of inauthentic, complex, and inconsistent service experiences are detrimental for brands and customer loyalty. In response, companies must take steps to create a seamless, positive service experience between channels. Here are four fundamental steps to help put you on that path.

1) Channel Aggregation. Today, consumers who interact with a brand want to see service treated as one channel versus multiple channels. Customers don’t think in silos and channels, so a company’s customer experience shouldn’t be siloed or separate. To provide a seamless experience, first, get to know your digital customer. What is their channel preference? Do they prefer to communicate over the phone, Web, chat, text, or social media channels like Facebook or Twitter? Find out what channels they prefer to leverage and how often they use these channels. The profile of your online digital customer will drive the best mix of channels for your business, as well as the type of content and services you should provide through those channels.

Then the real question is, how do you deliver a seamless, successful service experience across all departments and all channels?

2) Integrate Channel Operations: Your back-end operations should be as seamlessly integrated as your customer-facing channels. Your service organization, infrastructure, and processes must be aligned with your customer service and business goals. Your workflow, processes, and data need to be aligned in a common or integrated system, and customer data needs to be shared across systems. Again, customers don’t think in silos so your systems shouldn’t behave as silos. Additionally, allowing your teams to easily update and access information from one intelligent digital hub will reduce costs and provide holistic reporting for better business decisions.

3) Know Your Customers. Companies can’t deliver a simplified experience if they don’t know how customers want to be communicated to, or when. To solve this challenge, listen to your customers through voice-of-the-customer data, including surveys, focus groups, and voice and text analysis, and then deliver experiences based on their individual needs.

From that information identify customers, segment them, and cater to their needs. Web-based applications and enterprise platforms can help access a customer’s complete information, including transactional and behavioral data; serving up products, promotions, and messaging that pertain to them in the channel that they’re in at the moment.

4) Empower Decisions through Analytics. If companies focus on the metrics that drive loyalty and deliver optimal customer experiences, as opposed to focusing solely on cost-saving efficiency metrics, they can more readily identify and deploy the programs that lead to a simplified (and profitable) user experience.

Customer analytics should highlight KPIs that help define and measure your progress toward enhanced experience and simplification goals. To be successful, KPIs should be actionable and establish a benchmark for performance over time. If management can understand and act on these business metrics, then analytics become less of an IT tool and more of a strategic business driver.

I will explore each of these four topics in-depth in upcoming posts over the coming weeks.