By Paul Scott, Chief of Platforms & Partnerships, ClearPoint.


How do you rate your business’ customer service capability?

Do your customers love engaging you when they have a problem?
Or do they dread it because the experience is poor?
What can you do to delight your customers?

I have dug into the latest 2019 State of Customer Service report put out by Salesforce (the market leader in Service technology solutions) and distilled down some key insights and actions you can take to make a difference now.

The following are key insights together with some suggestions on how you can address these within your organisation:

1. 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

It’s no longer a sell and forget – you need to think about your customer journey end-to-end, not just through the sales cycle, but into on-boarding, support and advocacy.

Think about how you communicate across the customer journey, key touchpoints, renewals, anniversaries etc. Is the onboarding frictionless or do they have to sign a bunch of paper documents and scan them back to you, or worse, post them?

Tools like Salesforce can help you automate that customer journey and handover from sales to customer success. For B2B organisations, use an electronic signature tool for contracts like DocuSign.

 

2. 63% of customer care folk at high-performing organisations spend most of their time solving complex issues, versus 43% at underperforming organisations.

I see this OVER and OVER.

Customer care folk spend much of their day dealing with “1 and done” type issues, or issues that can be easily automated. The first thing I look at is the type of “cases” that the organisation is receiving. Are you tracking this data including “case type”? If not you need a service solution like Salesforce Service Cloud or Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Once I have access to the historical data, I then order in reverse count and start from the top issue types and look to automate them. It could be providing the customer with a self-service capability for those, as well as fixing the underlying business issue. In fact, fixing the underlying business issue is key, but again I see it over and over that companies don’t. Often it needs a fresh pair of eyes to recognise the issues. More and more these can be automated via Chatbots.

 

3. 66% of service professionals say their organisation is seeing increased case volume through digital channels.

Surely you’re still not only 
dealing with customer issues
by phone?

Digital channels are where it’s at.

Email is one channel, but you need to think wider. Typically customers do not like the asynchronous nature of email, so that is where WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Live chat can help. Another key way of dealing with case volumes is enabling self-service for your customers. A customer portal like Salesforce’s Community Cloud is a great solution as it enables you to get up and going quickly.

Some of the newer capabilities are “Virtual Assistants” or “chatbots”. Customers can have a chat conversation with the bot using typical language they would normally use and the bot can respond using natural language. The bot does need to be trained to understand your business. Various solutions are available such as Google’s Dialog Flow or platforms like Ambit.

An exciting new capability is voice chatbots, where rather than speaking to the bot via the keyboard, you can talk using your voice. Google’s Contact Centre AI is leading the space here and the bot can transfer to a real person if the conversation gets too complex.

 

4. 84% of service professionals say a unified view of customer information is key to providing great customer experiences.

For almost all my 20 years in tech, I have been helping customers create a single view of the customer, so it’s nothing new, but silos are almost the norm still which is sad.

 

The left hand (sales) needs
to know what the right hand
is doing (service).

 

Siloed data doesn’t work anymore, you cannot create a seamless customer journey without it.

Do you have a 360-degree view of customer activities??

A 360-degree view brings together all relevant customer information into a single system (viewable) to ensure you understand the whole customer relationship when solving customer issues. The same 360-degree view can be used by other departments including sales. Of course, there is no point selling a customer something new when they have outstanding issues. In fact, most customers will get angry if you try that.

 

5. 79% of service professionals say their KPI metrics emphasize VALUE over TIMELINESS.

Ok, let’s break this down. VALUE over TIMELINESS. What does that mean? What is the key metric of a customer service professional’s ability to provide value??

 

Quite a simple one really,
which is
“Did they ACTUALLY
solve your problem.”

 

Gone are the days of customer care agents taking a call and then just having to escalate to someone else who might get back to you days later to solve the problem. Customers want “1st call resolution”. Today’s generation expects problems to be solved immediately.

It’s no surprise then that metrics like average handle time are no longer the key metric service professionals follow. It’s all about Customer Satisfaction or NPS. If you want customers to recommend you, you need to resolve quickly.

Leading Customer Service solutions like Salesforce will have an easy way for you to survey customers post calls to see how you have done. This is the main metric you should be worried about.


Australia & New Zealand perspective

6. 59% of service agents say they have all the tools and technology they need to do their job.

Or you could look at it from the other direction…

 

41% DO NOT have the
tools to do their job?

 

Of course, these professionals will try as hard as they can. However, they will be caught short, either in productivity (case volume) or customer NPS, both affecting the brand.

Over the years when I have implemented various Customer Service solutions across Customer care teams, I constantly see the same issues such as:

  • Constant application switching between email, CRM, operational systems, spreadsheets, documents, etc. This affects productivity and call time.
  • The System supports the business process of 5 years ago and was never updated, so the team is working around it using a spreadsheet or similar.
  • Not recording proper notes from customer interactions, meaning the customer repeats themselves.

Most of these issues can be resolved by implementing a future-proofed service tool on a SaaS basis and ensuring an ongoing agreement with a Professional Services organisation to keep it maintained and up to date. Then new features can be leveraged once again and business processes easily changed.

Another option with a modern voice to text AI capability is to transcribe voice calls to text and attach them to the customer’s profile in the CRM system. Google Cloud, AWS and Microsoft have these AI features that can be leveraged from your phone systems call recording.

 

7. Budget constraints are the biggest challenge to providing great service.

Service professionals in Australia and NZ say that budget is their biggest challenge. There is no doubt that executives over the last 5 years have put significant effort into retaining existing customers, so budgets have increased. However, it still isn’t enough.

This is evident by the increasing expectations of customers in terms of the customer experience they expect.

Digital channels are key to meeting modern customers’ expectations with constant communication when issues arise. A view of all interactions and resolving these across any channel is key.

As expectations continue to rise, one way to meet them is to keep up-to-date with Customer Service technology through a SaaS subscription to a leading service tool like Salesforce. That way you will be future-proofed and can enable new features as they become available.

One other point related to certain industries. Some industries for instance telco’s and insurance tend to have a plethora of systems from mergers and acquisitions, so their budget requirements to deal with customer service will often be higher.

 

8. Using Live chat or live support will likely turn you into a high performing team.

When looking at customer channels, what is interesting is the one that has the biggest meaningful use AND the biggest differentiator for high performing customer service team is Live Chat.

66% of high performing teams, 49% of moderate performing and only 36% of underperforming teams use Live chat.

If you want to lift your
performance, getting live chat
seems the way to go.

Not only can you improve the responsiveness to your customers, but you can also meet them on a channel that works for them.

Some teams might be worried about an additional tool they need to manage. The good news is that live chat can be integrated seamlessly into the customer care professional’s work, just like email in a tool like Salesforce Service Cloud.

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I hope you have found my analysis useful, and have new insights you can action to make a difference for your customers.

Reach out to me if you want to discuss!

By Paul Scott, Chief of Platforms & Partnerships, ClearPoint