Last month in Boston, we sat down with twenty senior executives and ServiceNow experts to talk about recent trends in Customer Service Management.
It’s no secret that stand-out customer service and support is commonly accepted as one of the most critical, defining characteristics of successful firms, so we don’t blame you for thinking that a group of executives discussing their reasoning for prioritizing customer satisfaction might be a waste of time, or at the very least, stating the obvious.
If you find yourself content with the current quality of your Customer Service Management, you aren’t alone. Most companies today claim to already be focused on delivering exceptional customer service, but recent data tells a different story. According to Forrester Research data, only 8% of customers think companies are actually delivering on their commitments to customer service.
So why aren’t companies following through on their CSM promises? It certainly isn’t for lack of data supporting the investment. In 2014, the Harvard Business Review published an article that noted a simple 5% increase in customer loyalty had the potential to increase profits up to 95%. And from a bottom line standpoint, it makes sense; finding new customers is nearly five times more expensive than keeping the old ones. The risks of poor CSM are high: 73% of business customers report feeling frustrated at some point with customer service, and of that 73%, 40% say they will tell their friends about it. Yikes!
You may be asking yourself, with both the data and logic emphasizing the importance of customer service, why does there continue to be a disconnect between the desire to deliver exceptional customer service, and the ability to actually follow through?
Customer Service Management in Context: The History of CSM
To effectively improve Customer Service Management, it might help to first think about the historical context of the CSM market. Looking back on competitive differentiation in the 1900’s, we see that firms who got mass manufacturing right, won. Meaning the company who could build the best things, cheapest, ended up on top.
This was the age of manufacturing; when firms like Ford and General Electric grabbed a tight hold of mass manufacturing innovations and catapulted themselves (and their customers) straight into the future.
Then came the golden age of distribution, around 1960, marked by the early moves of globalization. It was then that we learned things could be made cheaper overseas and then shipped back to the states, lowering the overall costs of production and increasing revenue. Hence the birth of companies like Wal-Mart and Toyota, which quickly became global power players.
Next up, the age of information took center-stage, starting in the early 90’s up until about 2012. These decades marked the transition to when firms with access to the most data rose to the top. We’ve seen this prove true with the explosive growth of Amazon and Google.
But today’s technology now empowers customers to be digitally equipped, enabling them to hold significantly more power in their hands than ever before. We are currently in the dawn of a new era: the age of the customer. With most data tools commonly available on the market, if companies want to stay on top, it is no longer enough for them to simply own immense amounts of data. We’re in a time where companies have to analyze that data and use it to find exactly what their customers want, and how they want it delivered.
Coupled with the advent of social connections and the widespread availability of brand information, customers are firmly in the driver’s seat, while companies increasingly get relegated to the role of supporting those customers throughout their buyer journey (and beyond). Executives looking to nab the highly-coveted passenger seat must differentiate themselves from the rest of their competitors. Companies who don’t sort out customer service, well… they may not even get a seat in the car at all.
Ongoing Challenges in Customer Service Management
Despite technology advances and this focus on the customer, as the executive data we discussed at the outset indicate, many firms are still struggling to unpack the right approach to improving their service. This is where our group of executives and ServiceNow experts comes into play: to note the challenges they face in addressing CSM and to describe how they’ve used ServiceNow CSM software to raise the bar for their customer service.
What we typically see in our customer base is that companies have truly improved and invested in the reactive side of the customer service equation. They pay attention to the SLAs and reduce call times and mean resolution times, but they haven’t gone much further than that. Many groups claim to be fully invested in CRM systems, their customers, their partners, and their franchise when in reality CRM is just the surface of customer service – while CRM is important, it is in no way an end-all, be-all solution to Customer Service Management. This is because CRM alone doesn’t solve, or even identify, the root cause of issues.
So, while the thin veneer of picking up the phone quickly has generally been solved, the experience beyond the pick-up is lacking. It’s great to shorten the wait-time for a customer to get a hold of one of your firm’s operators, but the reality is that by the time someone is so fed up with you, they have picked up the phone to call customer service and complain, they are already an at-risk customer. The problem is straightforward: firms are waiting too long to step in and fix the issue. If you’re riding in a car and notice the driver goes off course, typically you’re going to speak up and say something, rather than waiting until the driver realizes that your group is off track.
While this seems like common sense, the logic doesn’t appear to have translated over to firms’ approaches to CRM. Even the most high-tech of teams invest heavily in their front-end customer interfaces, ignoring the huge opportunity to connect with the right technology to streamline their processes, and truly impact their net promoter scores.
Companies who are winning the Customer Service equation don’t just pick up the phone anymore, they work to solve your underlying problems as quickly and efficiently as possible – to save you time and keep you happy.
Cracking the Code of CSM with ServiceNow
As the executive discussion evolved last month, leaders shifted into explaining how (and why) they, and other business executives, are using ServiceNow to save money, improve customer self-service, and increase upsell/cross sell opportunities.
While some executives might consider ServiceNow as an exclusively IT-focused platform, new advances in Istanbul and Jakarta have significantly improved the functionality on the customer side – all built on an underlying service management core philosophy.
Specifically, executives turn to ServiceNow when they’re in search of a proven platform for managing services, not merely accounts or activities. To meet the needs of a rapidly-scaling business, the new Service Portal included advanced capabilities such as:
- Workflow Functionality
- An IT Service Module
- IT Intelligence or ITIL Functionality
- Root Cause Analytics
In contrast to more reactive, activity-based tools, the ServiceNow Enterprise Platform not only incorporates core IT service functions (such as incident and problem remediation) in its CSM, but also features advanced workflow tools and root cause analytics essential to achieve the transformation in service performance leading executives are looking for.
Even when compared to SalesForce.com, many executives continue to switch over to ServiceNow, citing advanced functionality including: asset management, root cause analysis, and advanced Knowledge sharing and self-service.
With its first inclusion in Gartner’s “4-Box,” ServiceNow has gained recognition for transcending ITSM to embrace effective services management in almost any dimension.
Lining Up ServiceNow Success Metrics
So what’s next? Once you’ve mapped out a CSM plan, you should establish a detailed process for continuously addressing service issues. During our panel, several executives discussed their processes as having:
- Detailed walk-through’s with Service Level Agreements
- Addressing ten biggest service problems
- Utilizing a call tracking system
It’s equally important that companies establish specific metrics for measuring customer satisfaction. For example, one executive’s goals included reducing inquiries and giving all employees access to the information they need to address incoming questions.
For your firm, you could instead compare operator response times, or host quarterly meetings with key stakeholders to discuss business analytics, and solicit feedback directly from the personnel dealing with your customers. Surveys are an extremely helpful resource during this process; they allow management to hear feedback on a variety of areas like response time, accounting, property management.
The Journey to Select ServiceNow CSM
So we’ve talked about a lot here: the history of CSM, its challenges, and how the ServiceNow platform can help you solve these common problems. While the journey to arrive at ServiceNow is unique to each firm, there is no denying that the heart of the platform’s CSM modules’ rationale is based on a desire to improve and understand customers’ experiences by utilizing today’s best technology. As the age of the customer matures, will your company stay up to date with the new standards for CSM?