Customers expect products and services to work. When they don’t, customers want fast, permanent solutions. But delivering against that expectation is easier said than done. Multiple barriers stand in the way of your organization delivering the seamless experiences customers expect. Let’s explore five ways to improve customer service.
1. Resolve issues the first time, fast
Customer service has been, by tradition, reactive: A problem occurs and, in response, a customer sends an SOS by phone, email, or messaging app, or seeks help online. It’s important to get the response right because a poor customer experience can have a far-reaching negative impact on the business.
Digitally transforming the customer experience can help ensure issues are resolved fast and effectively. It’s one of the reasons why digital transformation reigns as a top customer contact priority, according to a Customer Contact Week study, with 85% of businesses saying “increasing the use of digital channels” will become more important going into 2025.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has greatly improved the outcomes of reactive customer service. Conversational chatbots, for instance, use AI algorithms to contextualize an issue before offering suggestions. If the customer then escalates to an agent, AI categorizes and prioritizes the issue. It also puts the most appropriate information for solving the problem in front of the agent to speed resolution.
Proactive customer service holds even more promise. At ServiceNow, we use AI to help customers avoid costly service disruptions by predicting and helping prevent issues. As AI technology matures, we continually explore new ways it can be applied for seamless, successful customer experiences.
When you look for fast ways to resolve issues, make sure you consider customer self-service options beyond chatbots. You can reduce customer effort by providing personalized search results and suggested solutions—especially automated solutions—based on the customer’s history and purchased services or products.
A searchable knowledge base helps customers get answers to common questions and problems fast, with more details than can be provided in a FAQ. An online community facilitating the sharing of ideas, experiences, and solutions between peers can also provide insightful guidance.
2. Keep contact center volume under control
There are many indicators that a problem is brewing. Some might be obvious; others might be subtle. In a digitally connected world, customers expect no disruptions when they use products and services. Yet, disruptions happen. How the customer feels afterward is heavily influenced by how you react. According to a Qualtrics XM Institute report, only one in five customers will forgive a bad experience if they rate a company as “very poor.”
That’s why it’s critical to optimize operational and customer service processes across the organization. By unifying these processes on a single platform, you can monitor for and circumvent potential problems.
You can also track device and service health, automatically schedule preventive maintenance, and analyze trends to reduce disruptions. That yields great customer service, which in turn leads to business growth. As Qualtrics reports, customers who rate a company’s service as “good” are 38% more likely to recommend that company.
When a problem does occur and it affects multiple customers, connected processes between customer service and operations can limit spikes in contact volume and impairment of customer experience. Ideally, you’ve discovered the problem first by monitoring digital services, noticing a service trend early, or being informed by an internal team. The next step is to proactively notify customers affected by the issue and provide an estimated time to resolution, if known.
By seeing you take the lead, customers are less likely to contact customer service—and have a better experience because they know you’re actively working on the issue.
In its efforts to create a more streamlined and satisfying experience for customers, Proximus, Belgium’s largest telecommunications company, added personalization and timeliness with ServiceNow. The payoff includes the company’s ability to detect the failure of a component and understand which customer it may affect, enabling Proximus to proactively create an incident on the customer’s behalf.
Surges in contact volume are also mitigated by proactive communications with customers. In the case of planned engineering works, automated notifications are sent to customers in advance, and customer service agents have full visibility of incoming calls related to the issue.
3. Reduce omni-channel complexity
When fielding even simple customer requests, disconnected communication channels force agents to switch between systems to see previous interactions in other channels. It’s easier to ask the customer for the information again. This has a negative effect on agent productivity, slows service delivery, and ultimately impacts customer satisfaction.
To avoid losing customers, organizations need to consolidate interaction information across systems into a single location rather than rely on multiple point solutions. Centralized customer activity history simplifies work for agents and frees them to focus on assisting customers.
It’s good for customers too. They want to move conversations between their preferred channels, which can be different depending on the time of day or the situation. Companies that adopt this single-location strategy have seen up to a 35% annual increase in customer retention, according to Aberdeen.
Telecom company Vodafone wanted to provide its customer service agents with a simple, intuitive, and streamlined system that would allow clear insight into a customer’s journey. After implementing ServiceNow Customer Service Management, Vodafone increased agent productivity by 45%, gained a 360-degree view of customers, and achieved a 25-point increase in customer satisfaction.
4. Connect all teams resolving customer issues
Business model changes or rapid company growth, either organically or by acquisition, can create disconnected processes, departments, and systems. Hybrid workplaces, with some employees in the office and others working remotely, add to the challenge.
Relying on emails, spreadsheets, and departmental systems with manual processes between groups can impact a company’s ability to deliver quality customer service. Fragmented customer operations negatively affect customer experience, yet only 7% of companies recognize the need to seamlessly manage end-to-end service delivery activities from the front office to the back office, Aberdeen reports.
By implementing end-to-end, orchestrated workflows, an organization can:
When you connect all teams involved in customer issue resolution, you optimize the speed and efficiency of your operations. You also create great experiences for front, middle, and back-office agents, partners, and end customers.
At one point, Tennessee’s Department of Human Services (DHS) faced a customer service crisis caused by limited staff and rising citizen case volumes. Due to siloed channels and manual processes, the organization struggled to deliver responsive customer service.
With ServiceNow Customer Service Management, Tennessee DHS decreased inquiry assignment times by 99% and inquiry resolution times by 70%. “We immediately saw dramatic improvements in quality and efficiency,” said the agency’s then-director of customer service operations. “Instead of taking 36 hours to assign an inquiry, it now takes less than two minutes.”
5. Enable field techs to quickly resolve issues
Field service can be tough, with diverse and broad products, reliance on past job experience, and customers expecting work to be done quickly and correctly the first time. Limited access to effective solutions and experts, along with manual processes, can lead to repeat service visits, missed maintenance windows, asset downtime, and reduced customer loyalty and revenue.
Providing easy access through a mobile app to available solutions, along with the ability to collaborate with other employees, makes technicians more effective—especially newly hired employees with less experience.
Still, field service is typically reactive. Until a customer reports a problem, the organization doesn’t know someone is having issues with their machine or device or needs replacement equipment earlier than scheduled. Before the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), this was a problem with no viable, cost-effective solution.
IoT data can mean the difference between gaining or losing a lifetime customer. By monitoring IoT-enabled devices, you can proactively alert field service and customer service to irregularities.
You can improve service levels and speed by dispatching technicians equipped with all of the issue details and necessary parts and skills to resolve the problem quickly. Customer service will be ready to answer questions if the customer contacts the company. You identify problems sooner, and the data provides additional insights for reducing truck rolls and increasing first-time fix rates.
Traffic and parking safety solution provider TAPCO struggled with limited visibility into equipment status, tedious manual processes, and slow time to repair. Now it continuously monitors its intelligent traffic systems with ServiceNow Connected Operations. IoT rules trigger remediation workflows automatically when exceptional readings are detected. Affected customers get notified proactively.
Integration with ServiceNow Field Service Management means a work order is also automatically created, dispatching a technician to complete maintenance. Before ServiceNow, this process was manual and slow. Now it’s automated, traceable, and connected. TAPCO has a clearer understanding of activity in the field, its technicians arrive on-site armed with both historical and near-real-time customer data, and there’s a transparent audit trail of issues and resolution.
Delivering seamless customer experiences
There’s no magical incantation or trick that can turn your customers into diehard fans of your brand. Improving customer service is about:
Optimizing and empowering customers with personalized self-service backed by automation
Reducing disruptions when customers use your product or service—and notifying them quickly if you learn about a problem before they do
Accelerating processes through digital workflows and connecting teams for fast resolutions and better visibility
Unifying your approaches to customer service with a single digital platform
Learn more about ServiceNow Customer Service Management.
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