Customer Service. We’ve all been on the receiving end of it, whether to return clothes in person at a store or the endless elevator music as you wait on hold with the phone company as you transfer from person to person. These experiences, the inherently negative ones, are easy to remember.
The experiences companies should be striving for are the ones that are easy to forget, ones where consumers don’t walk away grumbling to their friends about how long it took. To create an “unforgettable experience” (in a good way), you want to have interactions with your employees that are seamless and time-efficient.
In this era of the customer, companies are under pressure to transform their customer experience. As McKinsey states, leading companies have come to the realization that “they are in the customer experience business, and…how [they] deliver for customers is beginning to be as important as what they deliver.”
Customers today have seemingly endless options, are quick to voice their opinions, and are demanding service on their terms and their time. To adjust to this new reality, customer service organizations are redefining how to deliver excellent customer experiences. This reinvention requires rethinking technology, data, and operations. We’ve identified three critical imperatives every forward-thinking customer service organization must address.
“Companies that create exceptional customer experiences can set themselves apart from their competitors.”
One. Transform the customer experience
Just as customers are seeing great experiences proliferate in their personal lives—think Apple, Google, Amazon, and Uber—they are demanding the same from their business relationships. Forrester identified the customer demand for “fast service anytime, anywhere” as the number one trend for customer service in 2018.
Similarly, in recent ServiceNow research, the top priority for contact centers was improving the value of customer interactions. To reinvent customer interactions, organizations must center the design of their service experience around their customers. Customers should get the information they need quickly, have their problems solved effortlessly, and be able to easily purchase, consume, and fix their products and services. Customers bring with them heightened expectations, which is why your services need to be optimized for your customer—not for your company or for the cost.
Two. Innovate customer engagements
In the past, companies focused on the optimization of customer interaction touchpoints. This approach lacks the bigger vision of creating a compelling experience for the customer throughout their entire journey with your company. To create truly innovative experiences, the spirit and approach of customer service must be infused across all departments, and—just as importantly—the foundational infrastructure must be there to support it. To serve up optimized customer experiences, companies must enable new levels of collaboration. This implies the borderless sharing of information across departments, collaborative agenda-setting, and a focus on quality customer engagement. Forrester suggests that organizations focused on customer engagement quality use customer retention and lifetime value as metrics. These customer-centered metrics are a far cry from more traditional customer service metrics, such as average handle time.
Three. Re-imagine operations with strategic AI and automation
As customer service interactions increase, organizations are finding that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies are helping to deliver dramatic efficiency gains. From using the internet of things (IoT) for monitoring to chatbots and intelligent automation, the strategic application of these technologies helps organizations innovate their operations while improving service interactions.
ServiceNow’s Global CIO POV research shows 89% of customer service organizations use or plan to use machine learning and that their number two success strategy is to automate routine processes. By utilizing new technologies and taking advantage of their ability to learn over time, organizations are able to identify and streamline everything from service bottlenecks to emerging issues to propensity and timing for purchasing related products.
Download ServiceNow’s CSM eBook, Driving Radical Customer Service Innovation, to learn more about how you can improve the quality of your customer experience.