Customer Service in the Cloud (Part 2)


imagesIn my last post, I briefly described the first two levels of maturity in a customer service continuum, using cloud based technologies.  Implementation addresses basic capabilities with a focus on one or two channels with the objective of initial cost savings and improving customer satisfaction within those channels.   Consolidation focusses on improving customer service levels further, while adding further channels and integration with business processes.

Moving beyond these tactical stages to a strategic approach would encompass Optimisation and Transformation.   Ideally these stages will focus on outcomes and objectives including:

Customer Experience:  The desired outcome of cloud customer service in general (and the service process in particular) is to create an environment that fosters customer loyalty. Where in Phase 2 the focus is on retaining a customer through a specific transaction (or a bad patch), at Phase 3 you are using cloud tools to optimize the entire process. The ultimate end state is one where customers are loyal to your company or brand because you have better integrated all the component parts of a traditionally fractured and siloed customer interaction.

Customer Engagement:  This phase transition also assumes that the customer is able to connect with the company through a more complex set of contact channels. In addition to more contact options, at this phase the customer has the ability to switch from one mode to another. More important, the enterprise can push the customer from one contact pathway to another, based on a more nuanced understanding of motivation, value and cost. At the Optimization phase, you and the customer are both exerting a greater degree of control over the course of each interaction and the overall relationship. And most important, by this phase both parties are more likely to be working together, collaboratively rather than adversarially, in pursuit of common goals.

Customer Advocacy:  In a transformed organisation,  the chief goal is to change the customer from a passive consumer of your company’s products into an advocate for you and your brand. In order to do this you have to have a lot more information about the customer, including his history, preferences and motivations. In earlier phases, these data points are kept separate, walled off from each other in separate systems and databases. But with the cloud, they can more easily be linked together and analysed. The result is a unified view of the customer’s experience that enables a business to have meaningful input into his choices, creating a genuine bond between business and customer to the benefit of both parties.

Cloud technology enables organisations to reach this transformation phase using next-generation agent desktop solutions, social listening, proactive communications, and systems for gathering context during mobile interactions.

BUT it requires deep examination of business processes

-          Focussing on universal goals

-          How people in the enterprise communicate

-          Alignment of front and back office functions

While the investment to achieve this transformation is significant, the opportunity to differentiate your organisation and stay competitive in the next decade is enormous.   In fact, without it, your last market share might put you out of business while your competitors move ahead!

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