"Are we there yet?" If you have kids, you may have heard this repeated many times during a long journey. If you don't, then maybe you recall being that kid in your parents' car? While it is intended to be an annoying taunt, its essence comes from a focus on the destination, versus making the journey a part of the destination. This is important as what happens along that journey can sometimes delay, frustrate, or worse prevent you from reaching your desired end state.
Many businesses today are at some stage of their journey to delivering an optimal and differentiated "Customer Experience" – with the vision of building sustainable growth and profits through stronger relationships with their customers, and reliable data about their business. Some define this destination as "delivering the wow experience," others call it "providing a modern experience," and many call it "differentiating with the omni-channel experience." Whatever you call it, and however you paint the vision of the destination, it has rapidly become the focus for the future of business.
Getting a defined and agreed-upon vision around the "What" you want to deliver is not easy task. The next question though is even bigger and tougher to get agreement on: the "How" to build, deliver, and grow to reach your visionary state. As every good Boy Scout knows, "you should always be prepared." Defining the "How" and then mapping the sequential approaches for each piece gives you the insights needed to properly plan ahead. A plan needs to encompass the considerations for everything that is on the journey with you. Your challenge is there are so many different approaches to the "How" – which are the right ones for you to take? And in what order…?
Question: What do cars and shoes have in common? Answer: Outstanding Customer Service. A "Customer Experience" strategy, by definition must focus on ensuring that "Customer Service" is at the forefront of its efforts. Why? Because for most businesses this is where 75% of the total interactions your brand has with a customer resides. As CX leader and CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh said, "Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes." Well Henry Ford has been saying this since the 1920s, "A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large." And if you look at any of the brands that are leading the way with CX, you will find this to be true. They have transformed their customer service business from an aging, reactive cost center, into a proactive, predictive profit center at the heart of their efforts. "Marketing may fill the sales funnel, and the sales department can close a deal, yet it is the overall impression of the enterprise generated by the quality of customer service that differentiates one enterprise from another," Michael Maoz, Vice President and distinguished analyst at Gartner.
BUT you can't transform your dusty old cost-focused call center overnight to suddenly become a modern digital hugging machine! Most businesses first achieve some level of "efficiency" (aka cost reduction) in order to reinvest those savings into establishing trust with customers, which then allows them to be more effective at monetizing these engagements. Many long-standing businesses also cannot afford to put the experience transformation on hold while they rethink and simplify their back-end business processes to support a better experience. Do you really think Apple’s business is less complex today than it was 10 years ago? Yet, as a consumer, you are protected from all that complexity so you can lead a simple life.
Over-eagerness to get to the vision/destination too soon often disconnects the approach for how to get there, and leads to the misalignment between strategy, investments, measurements, and experience. Begging the question, "Are we there yet?" from the pockets of siloed efforts that have raced ahead of the pack. If you don't define, agree, and plan for the sequenced approaches necessary for your journey, you won't have the right foundation in place to deliver the returns on your efforts, and will rapidly exhaust any funding and resources you acquired to be successful. In fact, what we have seen is it frequently leads to a worse experience for your customer, a negative impact on your growth/profit, and a refocus back on "efficiency."
Scenarios like these within customer service stem from "silo-channel thinking"— the evaluation of single channels, each independent of one other. As our own David Lanning and Jeff Griebeler recently covered in their Multi-channel white paper, customers today are crossing many channels and devices to resolve issues. And, as Gartner predicts by 2017, only one-third of all customer service interactions will require the support of a human, compared to 60% today.
So if consumer behavior today spans multiple channels—and consumer preferences are moving to digital channels where channel shifting is as easy as a click away—then why are so many business still focused on evaluating single-channel point solutions (chat, email, social, virtual assistant, FAQs, co-browse, etc.) independently? Why create competing overlap of functionality, configuration, customization, cost, maintenance and measurement? Answer: As a quick way to fill a gap and get ahead, but it comes at a cost:
- A siloed "online chat initiative" to augment a poorly executed digital channel experience will ultimately result in it becoming a saturated channel of frustrated, overloaded agents, long wait times, limited hours of availability/credibility, and lower CSAT scores.
- A siloed "virtual assistant initiative" to augment a poorly executed digital channel experience, results in a dumb ass-istant frustrating online customers, and making them more expensive to serve on higher cost channels, leading to higher support costs and increased customer churn.
- A siloed "knowledge initiative" to augment a poorly executed phone/IVR channel experience can become a high-cost maintenance effort of managing stale, duplicated content on the web, hurting relations from inconsistent answers.
At this point, if you are thinking "some of that sounds like us!" then take comfort in knowing that 1) you are not alone, AND 2) it’s not too late to fix it.
You can avoid these types of "ow" experiences and negative results from a silo-channel approach, by making the right "multi-channel" decisions while you are getting going that will guide you on where to incrementally invest and get better. And ultimately empower you to get ahead of the pack with personalized service!
In this blog series, our resident strategy experts will guide you through the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM Customer Service. A maturity blueprint designed and distilled from many years of real world insights across many industries, geographies and technologies. The Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM Customer Service empowers you to define and get agreement on the "HOW" in order to reach your destination of "Modern WOW" with the business returns for sustainable growth and profit.
The Roadmap To ModernTM maturity framework is unique to Oracle and is used throughout Oracle's business discovery practices, and with select partnerships, to benchmark you against where you are in your industry, what problems you need to solve, in what order to tackle them, what to incrementally measure along the way, what technologies (both foundational and leading) are the best fit for your goals, and when to invest in them.
Learn more today about the Oracle Roadmap To ModernTM, and stay tuned to this blog to get the deep insights which prepare you for your journey to modern customer service.