How cloud is helping to close the gaps in customer service
Fri 21 Jul 2017 | Simon Johnson
Simon Johnson, General Manager EMEA at Freshworks, discusses how cloud computing is helping businesses to get service and customer experience right…
Companies today are starting to set up help desks and service desk initiatives without thoroughly thinking through the ways that customers will actually need support. Many teams start off small and expand to more channels over time, or add on more support products as a company grows.
This trend, however, can mean that what once worked for a small business with tens or hundreds of customers isn’t fit for purpose when a customer base increases to thousands and product volumes soar.
Customer Experience (CX) is going to be one of the defining characteristics for businesses in the future. How you make people feel during their interactions will be just as important as the product sold.
More than 80% of business leaders rank CX as a strategic priority, according to research by Accenture, but this often doesn’t translate into the tactics that companies use to support these customers.
Cloud can help companies solve these problems by making it easier to deploy the right tools for service desk teams, and to integrate support services alongside other areas where customers might interact with the business. This makes it easier to avoid silos across the business.
Joining up your customer process from initial contact, through any purchase and into ongoing support should be a no-brainer
Plugging CX gaps
Gaps often develop between tools that are used at different points in the customer journey. You might capture data in a Customer Relationship Management system before a customer buys your product. This information may not get shared with the help desk or service desk, so that team may not have a record of all the relevant interactions that have taken place.
Many companies neglect to act on this at all, leading to inconsistencies in customer service and data getting siloed. Alternatively, IT teams have to spend development resources on integration between the tools. So while the data can get shared, it comes with a cost to keep that connection fit for purpose and working properly.
Joining up your customer process from initial contact, through any purchase and into ongoing support should be a no-brainer. It’s easy to think about separate teams having only their own priorities to think about but it’s worth looking at customer experience as a process and then choosing solutions that can support that single process approach.
A change of approach
For many companies, the terms service desk and help desk are seen as interchangeable, but there is a definite difference. Service desks tend to cover both internal employees and external customers, while help desks only cover customers. Similarly, service desks have much more emphasis on managing the processes around customer support.
Now, this can seem like a very process-focused and prescriptive way of talking about service, but it’s about thinking through what your customers expect and how these processes can support those expectations over time. While frameworks like ITIL can certainly help businesses of all sizes to improve their results, the main concern should be how to meet the expectations that your customers have in a way that is seamless and as friendly as possible.
Ease of use around customer experience is an essential consideration, and this is an area where cloud services can have a huge advantage over more traditional tools. Having a user-friendly UI – whether it’s for a self-service portal, a Knowledge Base or for the ticket management system itself – makes it easier for everyone to get the information that they need.
Self-service implementations have often been viewed as opportunities to put a huge amount of information together, but there are many examples where this approach has not been accompanied by people thinking through how their users will access this information over time or find what they need.
Looking at the user experience can help service teams deliver more of the valuable information that they have put together and actually get people consuming it in the right way. Thinking about it from the user perspective can drive up self-service utilisation massively.
For service teams…there is a big emphasis on making sure that customers get what they need and remain happy
Moving to the cloud can be a great opportunity to rethink service and support. If you move from a traditional service management platform, should you stick with the same processes as part of the migration? Or should you use this as an opportunity to take stock of what you can do better?
In most cases, cloud solutions are viewed as being chosen to cut costs or move to an OPEX model, but this doesn’t capture all the value that a shift to the cloud can offer. By looking at your processes, where new and more efficient service methods can be designed, and where approaches like chatbots or self-service can be implemented to complement existing channels, service management teams can improve their results from ITSM.
A learning curve
Most cloud companies are based on software as a service business models so they only make money when they have customers signed up and happy for a long time. For service teams, this means that there is a big emphasis on making sure that customers get what they need and remain happy.
This can affect the whole way that customers are brought on board, how the service or product is designed, and how the product is developed over time. The ability to gather all the data around how customers are using the product in real life and what problems they have is also very valuable.
For more traditional businesses, this approach to service might seem like it would not work or would not be relevant. However, it’s the emphasis on putting the customer first that should be seen as most important. Cloud can help get you there, but it’s also a business strategy decision to invest in getting service and customer experience right.