International service-event-oriented companies often struggle to deliver consistent service levels across the world. However, their customers expect it, along with repeatable levels of service in every territory in which they operate.
It should not matter where your customer
is in the world, they should expect the same
high level of customer service
The challenge is that customer service functions may be different across divisions or regions. This results in fragmented service processes, with perhaps some managed in-house and some outsourced. Ultimately their end customers’ experiences can be badly affected (along with operational efficiencies) in a number of ways:
- Non-standard customer request-handling leads to confusion
- Siloed data leads to lack of visibility and disjointed customer communications
- End customer satisfaction levels plummeting
- Significant inefficiencies
- No opportunity for economies of scale
In short, the experience that the end customer has of a service event, can have far reaching impact that effects not only that particular customer’s impression of the company but longer-term customer retention, new customer acquisition, brand reputation and much more. It’s not surprising therefore that so many organizations are now focusing on making sure those experiences are good ones and as ‘frictionless’ as possible.
Customer call centers
Historically, the go-to solution for providing consistency has been to establish call centers. Customers would be able to record their service requirements, complaints and queries in one central location (or a small number) from where all actions would be driven. However, whilst this can help improve communications it does not entirely solve the problem of inconsistent service levels. To do that requires a deeper look into data and information about the customer, their location, the products they use, and more.
The key to understanding uneven service levels lies in the visibility of data. However, the challenge is that the sheer volume of data, often dispersed across numerous systems, applications, and data streams, means massive silos of disconnected information that can never provide the complete picture. To get full visibility requires a different approach where the data sources are connected, the data is collected and cleaned, organized and possibly augmented with other data around the specific action of the service event and a positive customer experience.
How can data visibility help us serve our customers better? Organizations with clear data visibility into their service activities can use this knowledge to find the best way of communicating with each customer.
- Strategic customer accounts may require a premium service such as direct contact with a dedicated agent to discuss and solve their issues.
- Providing a more flexible way and direct method for on-site field technicians to contact us directly rather than via the call center has paid off.
- Increasing the customer experience by allowing customers to communicate in their preferred language.
Insights into our data drive better performance and allow us to make more informed business decisions.
Advances in cloud-based data storage and data analytics have made it possible to develop a more refined and detailed view of how to better service a customer and how to do it more efficiently. Having that clear data visibility means organizations can utilize advanced reporting, artificial and augmented intelligence, and predictive analytics to drive better performance, dynamically change processes, and to make more informed business decisions.
Cloud-based digital solutions
Once the underlying data challenge has been solved, a host of new opportunities to provide even better customer experiences are unlocked. For example, new self-service cloud-based applications can deliver previously impossible service flows that are driven by ‘service insight’. Dynamic data-driven decisions about when and how to ship new items to solve a service-event – perhaps even before the event occurs – and where and when to return items no longer needed in the field, all result in better ‘frictionless’ customer experiences, faster responses, greater efficiencies and potentially even more sustainable logistics and processes. Companies often have multiple cloud-based solutions where data is assembled and accumulated from multiple sources and locations with varying datasets.
But how do we really glean insight from these disparate systems?
We need to:
- Accelerate digital initiatives through Data Integration and Data Transformation by enabling movement of data of varied sizes and shapes from multiple sources.
- Maximize process efficiency through flexibility in data transformation that supports enhanced ability to make true value-based, dynamic decisions
- Provide visibility to the entire value chain through dynamic capability of end-to-end data integration
The benefits of such digital solutions go far beyond harmonizing service across regions. The end-customer will experience:
- Faster resolution times
- Fewer mistakes and first-time fixes
- Communication in their preferred manner – Self Service, SMS, e-mail, chat, or voice
- Full visibility of the service event and status
The next level of global customer care
With everything now becoming delivered as-a-service, and the subsequent consumer expectations of those services always being available, customer service and service-event resolution have never been more important. We are in effect in a “new service era” and the activities in each step of the end-to-end service lifecycle – Planning, Delivery and asset Recovery – can now be streamlined like never before, assuming the right approach to data and digital solutions is taken. Furthermore, the old linear lifecycles can now be structured into a more cohesive circular value chain, in which every activity provides data and intelligence to the next part, leading to more efficiencies, more opportunity for customer service improvement, reduced materials waste and yes increased sustainability.