Digital and the WOW Factor of Customer Service

1.5 TRILLION dollars (yes, with a T!). This is the cost of customer churn in the US, as stated in a recent study that also reports that 50% of customers stop doing business with companies due to poor customer service.

I’m going to get back to this, but first let me tell you about a conversation I was just having with a team member here at Persistent. After our quarterly call, I was asked about the value of managed services to the company. I responded that, sure, support projects bring in money for us but, make no mistake, effort based billing models are becoming a thing of the past. Our focus is on reducing the effort on support using robotic process automation (RPA) and building solutions using deep learning, AI, machine learning and other technologies, in collaboration with innovative partners like Attivio, on progressive cloud platforms like Salesforce. And we’re bringing what we’re learning ourselves, to market!

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You’ve been hearing a lot about the power of digital. Let me explain how digital can impact your business. I’ve been in sales leadership a long time, and I know, as you probably do too, a customer once loss is hard to get back; almost 2/3rd of lost customers will not return. But let’s not stop there; in another recent report, in the “switch economy,” where customers are changing providers frequently, that churn accounts for some $5 trillion in global revenue. Besides price, customer service was identified as then key factor attributing to this switch behavior.

What causes this churn? In addition to emotional and communication issues that plague outcomes in any business relationship, top systemic traits of poor customer engagement include; lack of ownership & follow-up, knowledgeable response, and consistent service levels.

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As any of your who have been transferred, placed on hold or (and?) had your call dropped by a customer service agent, the causes of the above traits won’t come as a surprise to you. They generally fall into four areas; untrained staff who are expected to engage the customer, that staff’s lack of knowledge to tools available to them, their inability to locate and access expertise within the organization which is a result of, or leads to, difficulty in collaboration.

The good news, which is also almost maddening in its obviousness, is that there are several, relatively easy, fixes to most of the above problems. Today businesses are looking for solutions that keep customers happy and that are price sensitive and practical. Not exactly rocket science, right? And here’s a kicker, a 2015 Forrester report on trends in customer service says that customers are now willing to embrace emerging channels to reduce friction.

The key is identifying and ensuring that each of your stakeholder benefits.

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It of course starts with your customer. In fact, in an ideal world your customer will eventually be able to easily and quickly take care of issues themselves. Your customer service reps (CSR) will be presented with personalized experience, unique to each customer, who can provide instant results. The CSR supervisors will require very limited learning curve and escalation issues will only minimally impact their daily operations. For business IT, all standards and certifications will be met so that it can confidently be rolled out in a matter of days or weeks, instead of months. This is the hero the organization is looking for! Finally, for the business owner, they can acquire and implement the solution at a fraction of their current related investment. A better ROI, that brings a smile to every business owner’s face!

When the above happens, you get improved and friendly customer service engagement, leading to improved and sustainable results in first response, mean time to resolution and associate on-boarding, and proactive customer outreach. That is the power of digital!

See, as I was discussing above, digital isn’t just about web sites and apps that will have a car or pizza show up at your door, but about fundamentally re-imagining your entire business, including customer engagement. What we’re talking about here is unified and cognitive search that brings together technologies like natural language processing, advanced linguistics, text analytics, enterprise security, business workflows, data connectors, and machine learning… all in one place. This burgeoning but barely tapped area, can help organizations deliver great customer engagement, and empower the users with solutions that enable them find relevant knowledge, expertise and other contextual information related to their customer, concerned product or reported service issues.

We recently announced Engage 360 which brings these capabilities into a managed package solution for the Salesforce Service Cloud and is available on the Salesforce AppExchange. Engage 360 is powered by cognitive search and insights capabilities from our partner Attivio. It’s our proof of concept of the power of digital in transforming support and making happy customers. 

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Join us on August 10th at 2PM EDT / 11 AM PDT for our webinar on how to magnify patient engagement productivity with unified, cognitive search on Salesforce. You can register here.

Digital is changing the game in ways we maybe didn’t recognize ten years ago and most surely in ways we won’t recognize 10 years from now! I’d love to hear your thoughts and have that discussion. And I look forward to you joining us for our webinar.

Author: Sudhir Kulkarni, President Digital (@kulkarni_sd)

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