In my last blog, Service: The unexpected experience influencer, I touched on ways that service is changing and three ways to rethink its impact throughout the customer journey. They include building Service-as-a-Service into products and offerings, positioning service early as a value-add, and empowering your front line with accelerated decision-making. But what enables organizations to make these kinds of changes?
Enable Customer Service ‘FASTR’
Author: Vishal Sarkar, global lead, digital sales and service, Avanade
When looking across the three areas above, the way I think about how service needs to evolve can be summed up in this simple acronym – FASTR. It stands for:
Flexible – While flexibility here includes providing service and purchasing capability across the channels customers prefer, it is also about providing customer service representatives (CSRs) the flexibility to provide customer care from anywhere. The world is changing, and organizations should consider how to empower CSRs with flexible work locations, like the home office, and flexible schedules that seamlessly shift across time zones.
Agile – Organizations that offer more agile service process can better anticipate and respond to customer behavior. The focus should be simplifying the process to reach out and accelerate case resolution with fewer hops and transfers (across channels, or between agents, etc.). Service centers of the future can change service and adapt based on customer data and interaction history.
Service personnel – Service leaders should be in service of their employees. This means investing in CSRs with training that helps them take more ownership of solving problems. By bringing field service and contact center employees closer and more emotionally connected to the organizational fabric, they can offer their best to help customers.
Timely – It’s critical for organizations to reach out to customers in their greatest time of need. Ideally, predictive analytics can enable the organization to pre-empt service calls. But when service is needed, a CSR should be empowered with data that indicates to reach out proactively at the right time with the right message to resolve customer issues quickly. And speed is important – according to Forrester, “Two-thirds of customers say valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service”.
Relevant – The tone and relevance of the message at the service “moment of truth’” makes or breaks the brand experience. CSRs who are armed with context – whether that’s visibility into customer history and service records, an understanding of what they may need or common issues they might face – can offer a more personalized service experience as the “face” of the brand. Being close to the organization’s core culture and demonstrating customer-centricity enables service employees to uphold the brand promise.
These themes are consistent for brands seeking to elevate their customer experience.
Leverage the right technologies to evolve FASTR
Today’s technologies can help organizations bring the FASTR model to life. Consider investing in platforms that are not only extensible and flexible, but also have a tightly integrated data analytics ability.
Organizations seeking to weave flexibility into their CSR workplace model must consider a shift to the cloud. Service employees don’t need to rely on telephony hardware in a call center office in our new world; they can provide responsive customer care – from almost anywhere – with internet connectivity, softphone capability, and secure cloud connection to their customer service hub.
Platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service extend that flexibility and provide a truly omnichannel service experience across email, chat, contact center, web and self-service. This capability allows organizations to choose the best channel to reach out to their customers and provide the most convenient way to engage with them. Low-code technologies like Power Virtual Agents, a product within Microsoft Power Platform, enable organizations to act with agility by standing up AI-driven self-service channels in days to meet surges in demand.
Tightly integrated sales and service processes and modules in a platform enable CSRs to have a 360 degree view of customers, empowering customer service personnel to be more effective and confident in their communication with customers. This in turn helps build customer confidence which impacts customer satisfaction. By helping Switzerland’s largest insurance company, Zurich, shift and harness Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Azure, the business can continue expanding its customer base and identify new opportunities for customer care.
We can’t stress enough the importance of underlying insights in data analytics platforms to help serve the right information at the right time to CSRs. This is where the timeliness of service and the relevancy of the message makes a big impact. As an example, consider how predictive maintenance in a field service scenario or intelligent devices in a facility management scenario can influence the end customer experience. By communicating back to intelligent systems, the data can be synthesized to open proactive cases for customer service agents to address, even before the end customer experiences a problem.
The more data and insights derived from the data that organizations can put in the hands of their service organization, the better equipped they are to provide positive experiences in the moment of truth. Another effective way to unify customer data is through a Customer Data Platform (CDP), like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. We’re helping organizations use CDPs to unearth insights and provide actionable recommendations at every interaction – enabling marketers, sellers and service agents to deliver more responsive care throughout the customer lifecycle.
Author Vishal Sarkar is global lead, digital sales and service at Avanade. Read more from Avanade here.