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Are You Outpacing the Competition with Modern Customer Service?

A recent Forbes Insights study, Modern Customer Service: Are You Outpacing Your Executive Peers? found that 88% of organizations believe they’re making great strides toward delivering modern customer service. Modern, according to the study, is going beyond standardizing service across channels to personalizing customer engagement at every touchpoint.

Is this wishful thinking? Or are customer service executives’ claims accurate? The answer is a bit of both. The study shows that the 415 executives surveyed have made significant progress in areas like self-service and customer support across multiple channels:

  • 72% of respondents are empowering customers to self-serve on any channel or device
  • 71% are enabling agents to better consolidate data for consistent, cross-channel service
  • 63% are delivering seamless service and timely issue resolution across touchpoints
  • 60% are streamlining support processes to lower customer effort and raise satisfaction

However, when researchers dug a little deeper, the study uncovered some challenges. Issues that may have been glossed over by what the study authors refer to as “the Lake Woebegone effect,” named after radio personality Garrison Keillor’s fictional town where “…all the children are above average.”

What are these challenges? They’re a mix of people, process and technology limitations, which prevent companies from valuing customer service as an organization-wide strategy. Some top issues included:

  • Narrow definitions that relegate customer service to a post-purchase activity rather than a strategic function that drives revenue 
  • Limited deployment of knowledge management
  • Lack of a truly integrated customer view across channels
  • Overreliance on traditional channels like phone and online service requests
  • Use of outdated metrics that no longer measure success

Interestingly, despite these challenges, organizations are entering the brave new world of modern customer service. They are investing in new channels like mobile apps and sites (50-52 percent), web self-service (47 percent) and social media (43 percent)—as well as capabilities like knowledge management (51 percent) and an integrated customer view (51 percent). 

They’re also spending more time with customers to learn how to improve the service experience, despite having conflicting metrics like average handle time, which place pressure on agents to limit how long they spend with customers.

With these challenges and investments in mind, how can companies outpace their competitors with modern customer service?  Here are a few steps on the road to modern customer service that can help:

  1. GET GOING with a Multi-Channel Strategy—organizations need to move from limited, siloed channels to multiple service channels, which give customers choice in how they want to engage. Enabling customers to self-serve on the Web and in social communities is key to this first step.
  2. GET BETTER with a Cross-Channel Strategy—businesses must develop the ability to maintain a conversation with customers as they move across channels. Empowering agents with unified systems and knowledge enables them to deliver this consistent, relevant cross-channel service.
  3. GET AHEAD with an Omni-Channel Strategy—once companies put these foundational elements in place, they are ready to embrace an omni-channel strategy. Omni-channel is the ability to go beyond providing consistent service across channels to personalizing every interaction at every touchpoint. To make this leap, agents must have real-time access to a 360o customer view.

The jump from good to excellent customer service is a fairly big one and involves consistent, personalized customer service in every interaction, across every channel. But it can have a huge business impact by helping organizations increase sales, strengthen relationships, and reduce costs.
Check out the Forbes Insights survey to read how organizations are taking that leap and seeing results.