Achieving excellence in Customer Operations

Achieving excellence in Customer Operations

The Customer Operations experience

Delivering high-quality customer service has always been important, but the challenges companies face today have made it imperative. Customers want great personalised experiences and strong customer operations is the best way to make that happen.

In addition, many employees work from home and their abilities to deliver excellent customer experiences are limited by the internal platforms they use to get things done, which too often start and end with customer relationship management (CRM).

That’s why focusing on customer operations using connected, digital workflows is vital to all parts of the organisation.

Taking time to understand the steps you need to take to run a customer obsessed organisation that delivers outstanding customer experiences will provide great insight. Some of the important topics to consider include:

  • Understanding digital workflows and their game-changing impact on customer service.

  • Looking at customer operations and how to successfully connect front, middle and back offices.

  • Focusing on internal barriers and looking at the political and organisational challenges that occur.

  • Uncovering the full benefits of customer operations, including proactive service and increased loyalty.

Customer Service has changed

Traditionally, customer service has been reactive. A customer initiates a call and an agent creates a case. Solving the problem was often hit or miss, and the length of time to resolution was unknown. Customers were often less than satisfied, but their abilities to go elsewhere were limited. That has started to change though. The Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to reinvent processes as customer expectations continued to rise.

According to a study by consulting firm PWC, 32 per cent of customers walk away from a loved brand after one bad experience! This means, you can’t afford to lose focus on providing amazing customer service every time. There is now an inflexion point influenced by the customers’ changing needs and the availability of innovative customer service software to deliver great customer experiences. This has changed the customer service game forever.

To meet the needs of today’s customers, you may need to take a more holistic, proactive approach to customer service. Customers want to experience a seamless journey that integrates service engagement, operations and delivery. They demand smarter and faster answers, and they expect to be in control. These facts are true for both offline and online customer interactions.

The Contact Center Pipeline found in its 2020 survey that the top three contact center priorities that affected customer experience were:

  • Improving self-service through smart technology. 

  • Improving agent empowerment through better tools and processes.

  • Providing better coaching for agents.

CRM software is not enough

The role of CRM has expanded beyond its true purpose and capability to deliver. In today’s environment, you need to:

  • Share information across the entire organisation by using established workflows: You need to connect service agents with internal stakeholders across the organisation who can access the specific information that can solve problems in a consistent, trackable and efficient manner. This process helps the agent and other departments identify the root cause and permanently fix the problem.

  • Deliver against greater customer expectations: Customers want companies to personalise their entire experience and take immediate action on their problems. They want fast issue resolution and don’t expect to have an issue linger without being resolved.
  • Work proactively to eliminate problems before they blow up: Customers want to know that you’re aware of what’s happening across their operations are delighted to see that you’ve fixed a problem they were just becoming aware of. In addition, fixing a problem permanently also ensures that future customers won’t see it.
  • Provide omni-channel support: You must deliver a consistent experience across channels, including social media and meet customers wherever they choose to communicate with your brand, especially self-service portals and apps.
  • Proactively monitor products and services: Fix problems before customers become aware of them. Fix them not just for the one customer but for everyone in your base.
  • Automatically route issues correctly: Send the problem to the person who can best handle the request at the time of the incident so there’s no delay.
  • Allow customer self-service: Your customers must be able to serve themselves whenever they want to and will full transparency of all key aspects of their services, especially billing. The fact that customer service agents may not be available at a given time shouldn’t stop customers from finding answers or making requests whenever they want to.

What should your customer service solution look like? 

Your customer service solution should utilise:

  • A flexible platform that scales.
    Employees need to meet unexpected demands that are flexible and quickly executed. There’s no time for long program development times.
  • A system that breaks down silos.
    Ensure that all data is shared across the organisation to solve problems and improve service. 
  • A personalised online customer portal.
    Customers can self-serve to track problems, find information with full transparency and request help in a personalised manner.
  • Empowered agents.
    Provide agents with a single system for monitoring and managing their work. This system should route issues to the best agent to handle a case.
  • Intelligent automation.
    Use machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend solutions, route issues and spot trends. Also, when routine work is automated, agents can focus their time on higher value tasks.
  • Established company-wide workflows.
    Automated workflows help speed issue resolution by ensuring that everyone knows what needs to be done and who needs to do it in a repeatable and trackable manner. 
  • Ability to monitor to provide proactive service.
    Delivering proactive service is a competitive advantage that allows you to head off problems and demonstrate your attention to customers. This has the added benefit of reducing work volume for customer service.
  • A service catalog to support self-service requests.
    Customers can access solutions to common problems or make common requests without having to wait for an agent.

Look for software that uses skills-based routing, which assigns the agent with the right skill and availability to handle the problem from the outset.

Getting to grips with Customer Operations

Effective deployment of problems to the right people in the organisation is a crucial differentiator for companies that can deliver superior customer service by addressing the root of the problem once and for all. Customer operations’ ability to route issues to be solved by the middle and back offices means that problems won’t linger or remain unresolved. Continuously analysing customer requests from engagement to resolution permits organisations to find new ways to automate and therefore solve problems faster.

The term customer operations can be a confusing one. It’s an ad hoc way to describe how departments across the company should be working together to deliver customer service. To evaluate your present system, ask yourself the following:

  • Can you quickly and easily resolve complex issues by accessing information from across the entire organisation (middle and back offices)?
  • Can the entire organisation see task assignments and the status of customer cases?

Why Workflow is important to Customer Service

Digital workflows are the backbone of efficient, productive workplaces. Often, without realising it, employees are forced to waste time on unnecessary tasks and inefficient processes. Introducing workflows into the organisation can make a huge difference in time and cost savings.

During times of crisis or upheaval, customer service heroics aren’t sustainable. No matter what’s happening in the organisation, automated, repeatable workflows help everyone know what needs to be done. You can realise several benefits of engaging the entire organisation so teams can collaborate more effectively. Consider the following:

  • Connecting teams.
    When you connect teams across the organisation, you can find the root cause and a permanent fix for issues.
  • Eliminating manual processes.
    When you automate, you don’t have to track problems manually via email and spreadsheets, which are ineffective.
  • Maintaining continual visibility of issues status.
    You always have a clear picture of issue status, which ensures that customers’ issues aren’t lost or stalled. If necessary, they can be detoured or rerouted to others.
  • Providing data for improvement and insights.
    Access to real-time data gives you the ability to improve conditions as they’re happening.

As you look at these benefits, consider the fact that ServiceNow offers a complete integration of these three domains:

  • Customer Engagement.
  • Customer Operations.
  • Field Service.

Marrying these domains to produce an excellent customer experience is critical to delivering the kind of service that sets you apart from your competitors.

To find out more about how to achieve excellence in your Customer Operations please download the free eGuide below:

Download the eGuide

Customer Operations for dummies - ServiceNow Special Edition