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Top Brands Answer 4 Burning Customer Service Questions

Samantha Hausler
Samantha Hausler is a Senior Marketing Manager for Oracle

Today’s customer service teams are under a lot of pressure–they need to please empowered customers that determine how, when, and where service is given to them, and to which standard. Creating consistent, personalized, and timely service experiences is the ultimate measure of success, but getting there is another story. So, how are leading brands tackling top customer service challenges?

Stephen Fioretti, VP of Product Management at Oracle, set out to answer exactly that at this year’s Modern Customer Experience conference presented by Oracle. Fioretti sat down with customer service leaders from Zenimax Media, Toyota, Denon & Marantz (D+M), and Panera to learn how their organizations are adapting to common challenges and using customer feedback to dictate their service vision and product strategy.

The experts

  1. Boyd Beasley, Director of Customer Support, Zenimax Media Inc.
  2. Amy Patel, Customer Resolution & Performance Strategy Manager, Toyota
  3. James Flatt, Sr. Manager, Service Operations, D+M
  4. Darla Johnson, Director of Customer Experience, Panera

Here’s what they had to say:

What’s your strategic vision and approach to customer service?

Johnson: Panera’s strategic vision is about joy and speed--the ways to approach those two key variables are changing with evolving customer expectations and really driving the five-year vision to deliver better customer service.

Beasley: Zenimax Media’s approach to service is focused on our customer advocates who influence and drive the product. By investing in loyal customers, we’re able to be better than our competitors while doing more with less.

Patel: Toyota’s strategic vision and approach to service is all around inspired customer care and making sure we’re continuously improving the quality of the customer service we provide.

Flatt: D+M’s approach to customer service is focused on creating easy, efficient, effective, and customized customer journeys, which we know ties back to having a knowledgeable, confident team–we want to be in our customers’ homes for the long-term.

What channels will you invest in next to meet the needs of the next-gen customer?

Patel: Toyota is constantly looking at what's next in customer service channels. For us, we are currently evaluating video chat, a co-browse pilot, or even mobile texting capabilities within our App or on our website.

Johnson: Right now, chat and SMS are the next key service channels Panera will focus on improving. The challenge we’re running into is, at what point do you reach critical mass of being always available? It’s something we’re figuring out.

Beasley: Zenimax Media’s next step with service channels is actually moving backwards–we’re working to be more available through embedding in-game chat, something we used to do then stopped before realizing its popularity with customers. We’ve found that integrating messaging into games is faster than email and improves mobile interactions.

Flatt: In-App chat and videos will be the focus of D+M’s service channels more immediately to build trust, but we eventually see augmented reality as a huge opportunity. More to come there…

What do you see as the next evolution of self-service?

Flatt: Self-service relies on having a strong knowledge base, which D+M is still building out. We realize that self-service automation will be a key proactive option to address customer problems moving forward.

Beasley: When you zoom into how Zenimax Media delivers self-service, you’ll see everything we’re working towards relies on automation being able to think through every possible issue. Automating what we call “EFE,” (or looking at problems in 3 parts: Explain the issue, Fix the issue, Eliminate the problem) will make it easier for the customer to solve problems themselves as opposed to jumping a painful hurdle.

Patel: Toyota uses [technology] solutions to drive customers to self-service. We’ve seen success with FAQs since launching with a knowledge base–we need to make sure our FAQ pages are timely and relevant to the bridge gap between [car] models, years, and used versus new. Automated self-service is about figuring out how to make that space a navigable place for customers.

Johnson: Panera’s big focus of self-service is getting to the root cause to fix an operational issue. We need a feedback mechanism to make sure the right people in the organization know about issues and determine how we can then automate an appeasement process to warmly address customer issues.

How does customer service feedback impact product design?

Flatt: It’s worth noting that D+M is a 100-year-old company that gets service phone calls from one demographic and emails from another. We leverage insights we receive from every customer channel for product development–from where the speaker is used to what's playing. The key is to remember that sometimes what's just as important is what we're not investing in, but need to.

Beasley: Zenimax Media takes feedback throughout the entire development of a game. In fact, the first KPI on any executive report is the most expensive issue identified by customer feedback so that game producers can make a strategic plan to fix it right away.

Johnson: Customers don't necessarily drive product design at Panera, but their voice is heard. Customer feedback influences strategy and allows us to reply back to customers ahead of time to calm a viral reaction. We use marketing to reach back out and say, “We hear you.”

For even more insight into how top brands are approaching customer service to solve common challenges and deliver better experiences to customer, download your free ebook, Next-Gen Service: Creating the Customer Experience of the Future.

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