Get Ready for the New Age of Customer Service

I recently participated in a social media crowdchat with customer service luminaries:  Michael Krigsman from CxoTalk, Kate Leggett from Forrester, and David Myron from CRM Magazine.  The discussion was focused on the future of customer service, an area that is experiencing rapid change in several ways:

  • The internet of things (IoT) is ushering in a deluge of connected products, services and devices–adding challenges as well as amazing opportunities to deliver better customer service.
  • Customer service is “getting off of the island.” Many companies are realizing that customer service can’t be delivered successfully without the involvement of the rest of the enterprise.
  • Engagement models are changing. Customers no longer want to speak to agents on the phone. They’re looking for proactive attention and flexible channels to get instant service when and how they want.

Here are some key insights that came out of the crowdchat:

C-Suite, Get Ready to Combine the Internet of Things with the Internet of People

The advent of IoT has CIOs considering the technology impact of connecting organizations’ people, systems and workflows to help deliver superior service. The powerful combination of IoT and a connected enterprise enables customer service teams to proactively identify, triage, and resolve issues.

However, despite the clear advantages of delivering a connected customer experience, not all organizations have made huge strides in this area. In fact, new research indicates that companies that excel at customer service compared to those that struggle are:

  • 127% more likely to enable their customer service teams to connect and collaborate with the rest of the organization
  • 163% more likely to resolve the root cause of customer issues.

It’s not just the CIO that needs to consider the impact. CEOs, COOs, and the rest of the C-Suite need to re-evaluate what it means to deliver end-to-end customer service.  IoT and a connected customer experience also require organizations to rethink their current approaches to operational and data management.

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 The Best Service is No Service

No one ever wants to call customer service. Striving towards a goal of “No Service” means focusing on anticipating customers’ needs, proactively identifying and resolving issues before they affect customers, and continuously monitoring business operations by leveraging advancements in technology such as IoT.

According to panelist David Myron, “Proactive customer service means planning for service opportunities or obstacles versus reacting to them. Knowing what customers need before they need it – like parts for a machine or pills in a prescription – and providing it before they run out.”

Participant Nate Brown said, “This results in building relationships rather than putting out fires.”

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Proactive service is top of mind for customer service leaders. According to recent research:

  • 89% want to be more proactive
  • 85% want to make customer service a strategic asset for the company

IoT provides a way for customer service organizations to proactively monitor customer systems, products, apps, devices, or hardware to know about outages before the customer calls, to identify when products are nearing end of life or require servicing, or to expose opportunities for automating recurring customer requests.

Our chat participants had some great examples:

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Make Service Frictionless

When customers do need to contact customer service, they expect flexible channels to get instant service when and how they want.  That includes self-service, automation, and other options like email, web, social media, chat, as well as phone calls.  In fact:

  • According to Forrester Research, web and mobile self-service exceeded live-assist channels for the first time in 2015
  • Recent research indicates that the companies that excel at customer service are 36% more likely to offer self-service automation compared to organizations that struggle.

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Why aren’t more companies providing customers with an effortless service experience? Companies that rely on CRM and outdated customer support systems struggle with connecting and automating all service processes to provide a frictionless service experience— from the first contact to permanent problem resolution. They typically have siloed departments that don’t talk to each other and lack real-time collaboration capabilities that connect customer service to other departments.

So how can organizations deliver great customer service in the age of IoT?

  • Deliver customer service as a team sport: Connect the extended enterprise and devices to resolve the underlying causes of issues quickly
  • Move from reactive to proactive service delivery: Resolve issues before the customer calls
  • Make customer service effortless: Provide easy ways for customers to engage with the organization by leveraging automation and self-service capabilities.

For more insights from today’s customer service leaders, check out the new research report: Putting Service First.

For more from Kate Leggett, Forrester Research, register for the upcoming webinar, “Beyond CRM: Rethinking Customer Service”.

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Holly Simmons
Holly Simmons is Senior Director, Product Marketing, Customer Service Management at ServiceNow.

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